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43rd PARLIAMENT, 2nd SESSION

EDITED HANSARD • No. 084

CONTENTS

Tuesday, April 20, 2021




Emblem of the House of Commons

House of Commons Debates

Volume 150
No. 084
2nd SESSION
43rd PARLIAMENT

OFFICIAL REPORT (HANSARD)

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Speaker: The Honourable Anthony Rota

    The House met at 10 a.m.

Prayer



ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

[Routine Proceedings]

  (1005)  

[Translation]

Interparliamentary Delegations

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1), I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian Section of ParlAmericas respecting its participation at the 12th gathering of the ParlAmericas Parliamentary Network for Gender Equality, held virtually on September 23 and October 2, 2020.

[English]

Criminal Code

     He said: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to table this important piece of legislation. For many rural communities across Canada, crime has reached a crisis point. Rural Canadians too often do not feel safe in their own homes, many are victimized, often they have given up reporting property crime altogether and they cannot get affordable insurance, if they can get any insurance at all. My constituents are tired of being victims. They are tired of the revolving door of the justice system and of crime not being taken seriously. They are losing faith in the justice system because too often it works in favour of the criminals, to the detriment of the community and the victim.
    My bill is taking a step toward protecting these vulnerable Canadians and putting the needs of lawful citizens ahead of criminals. It would create a new aggravating factor at sentencing for crimes committed where there is evidence that the offence was directed at a person or a person's property that is experiencing increased vulnerability due to remoteness from emergency, medical or police services. It would make the aggravating factor associated with home invasion more inclusive of rural properties by ensuring outlying structures are included. It would ensure that the use or possession of a weapon in home invasions can trigger the aggravating factor and ensure that if offenders do something so egregious that they do not receive bail, the judge considers that rationale for why they remain in custody when giving credit for time served.
    I want to thank all of my colleagues for helping me with this bill, my colleague from Lakeland and all of the citizens in Alberta, who helped me come up with this idea.

     (Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

[Translation]

Petitions

Human Rights 

    Mr. Speaker, I am tabling the following petition in the House of Commons.
     We, the undersigned citizens of Canada, draw the attention of the House of Commons to the following:
    Whereas, a new report published by the Associated Press has revealed that there has been an ongoing campaign of Uyghur birth suppression by the Chinese Communist Party which includes methods such as forced sterilization and abortion; and,
    Whereas, in addition to the recent news of coordinated Uyghur birth suppression, there is also a body of mounting evidence showing that Uyghurs are being subject to political and anti-religious indoctrination, arbitrary detention, separation of children from families, invasive surveillance, destruction of cultural sites, forced labor, and even forced organ harvesting; moreover, it is estimated that up to three million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities have been detained in what have been described as concentration camps; and,
    Whereas, evidence now makes clear that the Chinese Government's treatment of the Uyghurs meets most, if not all, of the criteria for genocide as outlined in the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide; and,
    Whereas, Canada cannot remain silent in the face of this ongoing atrocity.
    Therefore we, the undersigned, call on the House of Commons to take the following actions to address the situation:
    1. Formally recognize that Uyghurs in China have been and are being subject to genocide.
    2. Use the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act ("Magnitsky Act") and sanction those that are responsible for the heinous crimes being committed against the Uyghur people.
    I would like to remind members to be concise and specific and make sure they do not take too much time.

[English]

Medical Assistance in Dying  

    Mr. Speaker, I am presenting several petitions this morning.
    The first petition is from Canadians across the country, and these petitioners are calling the attention of this place to the prime importance especially relating to human death and Bill C-7 and the current amendments that would protect those suffering from mental illness.
    Petitioners are calling on the government to support measures to protect human life, as all human life should be regarded with great respect from conception to natural death. Petitioners say that we should support Canadians who are most vulnerable and defenceless and not facilitate their death.

  (1010)  

Firearms  

    Mr. Speaker, the second petition I am presenting today is from Canadians across the country who are concerned we are the only G7 nation in which the use of sound moderators is not allowed. They say this is a violation of section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
    Sound moderators, for the firearms community, dramatically increase the safety of their use in preventing folks from losing their hearing. They are calling on the government to allow for a legal acquisition possession in the use of sound moderators on firearms by all licensed firearm owners in Canada and call upon the provinces and territories to amend provincial and territorial prohibitions and allow the use of sound moderators while engaging in all legal hunting and sport shooting activities.

Conversion Therapy  

    Mr. Speaker, the next petition I am presenting today is from Canadians across Canada who are concerned about Bill C-6 and the definition of conversion therapy.
    Petitioners are calling on the government to fix the definition. They are also calling on the government to ban conversion therapy, a degrading practice designed to change a person's sexual orientation; ensure there are no laws discriminating against Canadians that would limit the services they could receive based on their sexual orientation; allow parents to speak to their own children about sexuality and gender, to set house rules about sex and relationships and to allow free and open conversations about sexuality and sexual behaviour; and avoid criminalizing professional and religious counselling voluntarily requested by consenting Canadians.

Pornography   

    Mr. Speaker, the next petition I am presenting today is from petitioners across Canada who are calling on the government to recognize sexual explicit material online is many times depicting sexual violence and could be easily accessed by young people. The consumption of sexually explicit material by young persons is associated with a wide range of harms, including pornography addiction, the reinforcing of gender stereotypes, and the development of attitudes favourable to harassment and violence, including sexual harassment and sexual violence particularly against women.
    Petitioners are calling on the government to recognize the harmful impacts of the increasing accessibility of sexually explicit material online for young persons. They are calling on the quick passage of Bill S-203 in the other place and for the government to recognize it. They are calling for the government to rapidly pass this bill.

Human Rights  

    Madam Speaker, the final petition I have this morning draws attention to the plight of the Uighur people. When we in this country say “never again”, we do mean never again. I am not sure if members have had a chance to see the pictures of the Uighurs lined up on the train station platform being loaded on to trains, but the plight of the Uighurs is an incredible thing that we are called in this place to recognize.
    Petitioners are calling for the government to formally recognize the Uighur situation in China, the plight of the Uighurs in the face of the communist government there, to recognize that as a genocide and to use the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act, also known as the Magnitsky act, to sanction those responsible for these heinous crimes so when we say never again we mean never again.

Conversion Therapy  

    Madam Speaker, I have two petitions to present to the House today.
     The first petition brings to the attention of the House that conversion therapy has historically referred to coercive, degrading actions that seek to change a person's sexual orientation or gender identity which are wrong and should be banned. Bill C-6 defines conversion therapy as “a practice, treatment or service designed to change a person's sexual orientation to heterosexual, to change a person's gender identity or gender expression to cisgender or to repress or reduce non-heterosexual attraction or sexual behaviour or non-cisgender gender expression”. This broad definition, the petitioners indicate, wrongly applies the label “conversion therapy” to a broad range of practices, including counsel from parents, teachers and counsellors encouraging children to reduce sexual behaviour.
    Bill C-6 expressly allows counselling, medical and surgical efforts to change a child's gender, but prohibits support for a child seeking to de-transition to his or her birth gender. Bill C-6 could restrict the choices of LGBTQ2 Canadians concerning sexuality and gender by prohibiting access to any professional or spiritual support freely chosen to limit sexual behaviour or de-transition.
    Petitioners are calling on the House of Commons to take the following actions: ban coercive, degrading practices that are designed to change a person's sexual orientation or gender identity; ensure that no laws discriminate limiting the services that individuals can receive; allow parents to speak with their own children and to set their own house rules; allow free and open conversations about sexuality and behaviour; and avoid criminalizing professional and religious counselling voluntarily requested and consented to by Canadians.

  (1015)  

Human Rights  

     Madam Speaker, my second petition is in regard to the ongoing campaign against the Uighur people by the Chinese Communist Party. It involves such things as forced sterilizations and abortions for birth suppression, subjecting them to political and anti-religious indoctrination, arbitrary detention, separation of children from families, invasive surveillance, destruction of cultural sites, forced labour and even forced organ harvesting.
    It is estimated that up to approximately three million Uighurs and other Muslim minorities have been detained in what have been described as concentration camps. Evidence now clearly indicates that the Chinese government's treatment of the Uighurs meets most if not all of the criteria of genocide as outlined in the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.
    These individuals, like so many, are calling on our government to formally recognize that the Uighurs in China have been subjected and are being subject to genocide and to use the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act, the Magnitsky act, and sanction those who are responsible for the heinous crimes being committed against the Uighur people.
    Madam Speaker, on a point of order, the Speaker just prior had indicated to members about the length of speaking on petitions and I just want to reinforce this. I did not want to interrupt the member, but when presenting a petition, members should be sticking specifically to the petition and it does not necessarily mean that one reads the petition. It is supposed to encapsulate the essence of it briefly and hold back on the commentaries. I just wanted to reinforce what the Speaker had said earlier.
    The hon. member for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke.

Human Rights  

    Madam Speaker, I am disappointed my greatest fan interrupted me before I even got started.
    I, too, am presenting a petition to have the Uighurs recognized in such a way that the people who are pushing it forward are prevented from benefiting further by invoking the Magnitsky act. We know the government finally agreed to declare this horrible act a genocide, but we need to go further.
    I hope that satisfies my greatest fan.

Human Organ Trafficking  

    Madam Speaker, I want to congratulate my friend from Winnipeg North on his campaign for Speaker. I am sure we will be hearing more views from him on the rules in the coming days.
    I have three petitions to present to the House today.
     The first petition is in support of Bill S-204, a bill that would criminalize Canadians going abroad to receive organs that have been taken through forced organ harvesting and trafficking.
     I am pleased to share with the House that the bill has just passed the committee stage in the Senate and will be headed very soon for third reading. I congratulate Senator Ataullahjan and all the senators involved in that important work.

  (1020)  

Ethiopia  

    Madam Speaker, the second petition is with respect to the ongoing humanitarian situation in the Tigray region of Ethiopia. The petitioners draw the attention of the House to the human rights abuses involved in the conflict, as well as the ongoing humanitarian challenges. They call on the Canadian government to be strongly engaged with the governments of both Ethiopia and Eritrea on working to improve the situation.

Conversion Therapy  

    Madam Speaker, the third and final petition I am tabling this morning is with respect to Bill C-6. The petitioners are very supportive of efforts to ban conversion therapy, but they are very concerned about the drafting of the bill, in particular the definition used for “conversion therapy”. The definition of conversion therapy used in Bill C-6 is like no other definition of conversion therapy used in other statutes, at other levels, that address this practice. The definition is erroneous in such a way that it would restrict private conversations—
    The hon. member for Timmins—James Bay is rising on a point of order.
    Madam Speaker, you have clarified the rules regarding petitions. This is not a form of debate; it is just to present petitions. The member is using this as a platform, which is not within the rules.
    I would ask the hon. member to present the petition succinctly so we can address the rest of the orders of the day.
    Madam Speaker, I was finished presenting the petition, but I will say on the point of order that this is a very long petition. It fills up an entire page with text. I think a few sentences offering a summary is not the same as—
    Now we are getting into debate. Is the hon. member finished presenting petitions?
    Madam Speaker, my comments were with respect to the point of order. I am done presenting petitions, and I have completed my intervention on the point of order.

Questions on the Order Paper


Government Orders

[The Budget]

[English]

The Budget

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance  

    The House resumed from April 19 consideration of the motion that this House approve in general the budgetary policy of the government.
    Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise in this House again to continue to respond to the 2021 budget that was tabled by the federal government yesterday.
    As so many parliamentarians, members of the media, stakeholders and even some ordinary Canadians have done, I too have spent hours poring over the contents and the backgrounders, the annexes and other finer details of this budget. Since this is the first budget we have seen in over two years, to be true, a dubious record for Canada, and given the unprecedented health and economic circumstances we are in, I was very eager to receive and review the budget to determine what it would mean for Canadians in the short, medium and long term.
    Before I get into the details, let me once again congratulate my colleague the Minister of Finance for making history yesterday as the first female finance minister to table a budget in this House. As I said yesterday, this consequential achievement is long overdue. My four daughters will undoubtedly take inspiration from her.
    That said, they certainly will not take inspiration from the budget that the minister has laid before us. This is by far the biggest-spending budget in the history of our nation. It has delivered an avalanche of spending the likes of which our country has never seen before, and yet for many this budget will be a major letdown.
    With well over two years since the last budget, the government has had ample time to get this right. For way too long, Canadians have been left without a comprehensive plan for our economy to guide us through what has now become the stormiest season of our lifetime. One would have expected that, with so much time to prepare, the government would have offered Canadians renewed hope and confidence that a secure future would still be theirs. One would have expected a revised and hopefully more effective plan to get Canadians vaccinated in short order. One would have expected a clear plan to safely reopen our economy and get Canadians back to work again. One would have also expected a bold strategy to help struggling small businesses back on their feet again. Finally, one would have expected a responsible government to come forward with a credible plan to manage the massive financial consequences of this COVID pandemic, consequences that future generations of Canadians will be saddled with and have to pay for.
     Those who were hoping to see these things in the budget will surely be disappointed. This not a budget that has been developed to fight the pandemic; this budget was developed to help Liberals fight an election. Of that, there can be no doubt.
    To be sure, there are a number of positive measures in this budget, some of which we will undoubtedly support and promote, especially those that continue to help Canadians through this very difficult time and also those investments that secure our long-term prosperity. They should expect our support for those.
    For example, we are pleased to see that the government listened to us and to the many business organizations across Canada and extended the Canada emergency wage and rent subsidies. We are supportive of a number of important small business measures, such as the new hiring incentive program, the promise of lower credit card processing fees, and supports to help businesses move online in a digital economy.
    Sadly, what is completely missing from this budget is emergency support for new businesses, which have somehow fallen through the cracks because in early 2020 they did not yet have the established revenues to qualify for the government's emergency support measures. They are still falling through the cracks.
    We also support the introduction of a policy that would allow companies to expense the full value of qualified capital investments in the same fiscal year in order to encourage companies to reinject their corporate savings back into our economy on an expedited basis. We welcome the extension of the student loan interest waiver and the making of additional investments in broadband to improve connectivity within Canada.

  (1025)  

    Similarly, we welcome additional steps to eliminate the interprovincial trade barriers that measurably undermine our economic growth. We also support the decision to extend sick leave for seriously ill Canadians to 26 weeks. This is precisely the type of spending we are inclined to endorse.
    We Conservatives have consistently supported the government in its efforts to help Canadians through the health and economic crisis of our lifetime, and members can be sure we will continue to do so, but there is more to a federal budget than just borrowing and spending. Budgets are about promoting economic growth, including the setting of priorities. They are about exercising fiscal prudence and probity and delivering to future generations a bright and economically sustainable future, and that is what is missing in this budget.
    In the lead-up to budget day, we provided both the Prime Minister and his finance minister with a list of must-haves for this budget for the government to win our support. These were measures that we believed were absolutely essential to safely reopen our economy, get Canadians back to work again and provide future generations with the hope and confidence that they can still live out their Canadian dream. As I mentioned, a number of these measures have made their way into the budget. It is amazing what happens when the official opposition does its job by prodding and poking the government from time to time, so I commend the minister for acting upon at least some of our asks.
    However, instead of creating a sustainable road map for economic recovery, and I emphasize the word “sustainable”, this budget appears to represent a wasted opportunity to do right by future generations of Canadians. It does not deliver a comprehensive plan to position our economy for long-term success. Spending a loan is not an economic plan. The budget fails to sufficiently address the most important structural weaknesses in our economy, including our declining productivity. Nowhere does it meaningfully address the dramatic flight of foreign capital from our country, nor does it commit to comprehensive regulatory and tax reform.
    This budget is notable for its marked pivot away from our natural resource sector, another vote of non-confidence in a sector whose contributions to our national prosperity have been immense over the years. There is no mention of our world-leading and ethical oil and gas sector. There is no critical minerals strategy, just half-hearted measures about consultations, research and a centre of excellence. The government's failure to meaningfully address the skyrocketing cost of housing means that millions of Canadians will see their dream of owning a home slip through their fingers. This is another failure.
    Some two billion dollars' worth of trade crosses our common border with the U.S. every day, yet the budget scarcely touches on border security and trade facilitation, and it makes no mention whatsoever of what steps are being taken to plan for an eventual safe reopening of our border. The budget also fails to measurably address the state of Canada's health care and, most importantly, the mental health wall that our country faces. Fortunately, our Conservative leader has identified this significant vulnerability and has committed to addressing this challenge in a future Conservative government.
    We had called for the current Liberal government to stop supporting and investing taxpayers' money in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which is an institution that delivers no meaningful or measurable benefit to Canadians. With Canada's current bilateral relationship with China in utter disrepair, giving taxpayers' money to this China-led organization is completely futile, indefensible and unacceptable. Did the minister respond to our request? No. For the Liberal government, it is business as usual with the communist regime in Beijing.

  (1030)  

    We are judging the government's budget not on the quantity but on the quality of its spending. Based on that standard, we have found this budget to be wanting. Notwithstanding the additional benefits that the budget would deliver for Canadians who continue to struggle through this pandemic, measures which we support, it is enormously expensive, as members know, and it would dramatically expand the role of government in the lives of Canadians.
    Last year's deficit will be a staggering $354 billion, and the government has no plan whatsoever to eliminate its deficits. Our national debt is expected to reach $1.4 trillion this year, with the government signalling that this debt is likely to hit an eye-popping $1.8 trillion by 2025. That is why the Liberals asked for an increase in the debt ceiling to $1.83 trillion.
    Presumably with this in mind, the Prime Minister gave the finance minister a revised mandate letter in which he laid out three clear directives to safeguard our national finances. Those directives were: first, avoid creating new permanent spending; second, review Canada's debt management strategy; and third, present a new fiscal anchor. That is the standard the Prime Minister himself has set, and Canadians should be able to take him at his word. Therefore, we are going to measure this budget against that standard.
    How did the Prime Minister and his finance minister do?
     Let us look for a moment at permanent spending. Remember that the finance minister was instructed to have no new permanent spending. Instead of complying with the Prime Minister's instructions and mitigating against the immense financial challenge facing our country, the finance minister and her government have triggered a plethora of new permanent spending commitments that will likely hobble the prosperity of generations for years to come and mean massive new taxes under the Liberal government.
    Similarly, the minister's half-hearted attempt to present a debt management strategy falls far short of the rigour expected of an accountable and responsive government. Indeed, the budget failed to justify why the minister felt that further economic stimulus in the amount of $100 billion was needed when GDP growth has strongly rebounded. She should be happy about that. Preloaded stimulus is the form of savings is primed for release. American stimulus and infrastructure investments well north of $4 trillion are ready to wash over into our economy.
    Then we found out in the budget and from exceedingly frank finance officials that much of the stimulus was not stimulus at all. It was emergency support funding, much of which we support, and it was programming that bore absolutely no relation whatsoever to stimulating the economy. Imagine our surprise when a departmental official opined “Oh well, all government spending is stimulus.” No, it is not. All the minister had to do was be transparent about her $100 billion, as we would likely support a number of the initiatives that this fund would support. However, we know that there is an election around corner, and it is now very clear that this funding of $100 billion is simply intended to stimulate the re-election of the government.
     Then there is the Prime Minister's directive to present a new fiscal anchor. It was very clear to the finance minister that she present a new fiscal anchor.

  (1035)  

    The minister referenced that anchor on page 53 of her budget. That is another fail. The closest this anchor comes to being a true anchor is its vague commitment to “reducing the federal debt as a share of the economy over the medium-term.” That is it. That is not a new anchor. That was the government's own anchor, the debt-to-GDP ratio, except that this one, the so-called new one, does not even have a target and will tempt the government to run up further debt in the years to come.
    As the Prime Minister blithely stumbles into the fiscal unknown, Canadians should take little comfort in the government's promises to manage our debt and get our deficit situation under control.
     Based on the Prime Minister's own mandate instructions to his minister, this budget must be considered a fail.
    I began my speech by saying that I was very eager to review the budget to determine what it would mean for Canadians in the short, medium and long term. In the short term, yes, there are a number of investments and programs that will help Canadians make it through this economic and health crisis. We are supportive of many of those measures. However, in the medium and especially the long term, there is very little to get excited about, just endless debt and deficits with not even a pretense of the Liberal government ever wanting to return to a balanced state, even in the long term.
    As a responsible official opposition, we are still carefully reviewing and analyzing the budget and we will discuss it with our caucus tomorrow before casting final judgment on it. Suffice it to say that, so far, I am not encouraged.
    One thing Canadians can be confident of, absolutely confident of, is that a Conservative government, led by the member for Durham, will implement a true Canada recovery plan that secures our future by getting Canadians back to work, by helping small businesses recover, by restoring Canada's reputation and competitive advantage and by prudently managing the massive financial burden with which the pandemic has left us. The Conservatives have done this before; they will do it again.
    I therefore move:
    That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word 'That' and substituting the following:
“given that the budget:
(a) adds over half a trillion dollars in new debt that can only be paid through higher job-killing taxes;
(b) contains over $100 billion for a re-election fund while doing nothing to secure the long-term prosperity of Canadian; and
(c) fails to rule out the introduction of capital gains taxes on the principal residences of Canadians, currently being studied by Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation, as a way to pay for the government's spending;
the House demand that the Liberal government's budget be revised in order to focus on accelerating the vaccination plan to end the dangerous third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and policies that will create jobs and stimulate economic growth

  (1040)  

     The amendment is in order.
    Questions and comments, the hon. parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Finance.
    Madam Speaker, I thank the member for his generous comments toward the finance minister on her remarkable achievement as the first woman in our nation's history to table a budget Canada's House of Commons.
    I note that the member has outlined some of the measures he does support, but I find it curious. Over the course of our pandemic response, there are certain rather obvious policies that the Conservatives have come out against. In particular, I note that the Leader of the Opposition has voiced his strong opposition toward CERB, the Canada emergency response benefit, on a number of occasions. Similarly, after everything we have been through with our long-term care facilities, he has indicated he does not want the federal government to make investments to improve the quality of life for residents in long-term care facilities and would rather leave that exclusively to the provinces.
    My question for the hon. member, specifically, is whether he supports the historic proposed investment to create Canada's first national early learning and child care strategy which would ensure women have a fair shake at participating fully in Canada's economy and would reduce the cost of child care for parents.
    Madam Speaker, I find it passing strange that the member was not listening carefully as I gave my speech, as our opposition has been articulating its views on a child care strategy. In fact, our letter to the Minister of Finance expressly calls for the government to implement policies that support women, helping them to engage in the workforce. This is critical for our long-term productivity.
    What we do not support is an Ottawa-knows-best, one-size-fits-all approach. We know that many families will be left behind, that do not avail themselves of institutionalized day care. They have family, friends and neighbours who help out with that. On top of that, the member's party has been promising this for 30 years.

  (1045)  

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, during the 2019 election campaign, the Bloc Québécois sounded the alarm about seniors' inadequate incomes. We think the government should address that insecurity by increasing seniors' benefits.
    We know that the pandemic has made things even worse. Health consequences and isolation hit seniors first. In July, the government finally gave in to pressure from the Bloc Québécois and gave seniors an extra $300 plus $200 for the guaranteed income supplement. The Bloc Québécois insisted that there should not be two classes of seniors and demanded that the increase be monthly and systematic.
    In this budget, the government is creating two classes of seniors, which is exactly what the Bloc Québécois rejected in the first place. We do not understand why the government would increase benefits for those 75 and over but not those aged 65 to 75. That does not—
    Order. The hon. member for Abbotsford.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, as the member has noted, there is some support for seniors in the budget, but before we embark upon any new permanent spending programs, we need to place of all this in the context of the long-term fiscal sustainability of our country. That is why the mandate letter to the Minister of Finance clearly says that there will be no new permanent spending, yet the budget completely breaks her responsibility to follow that directive.
    Madam Speaker, my colleague is a fellow British Columbian, so he knows very well that my constituents in New Westminster—Burnaby are hard working. They are running small businesses. Families, people with disabilities, seniors and students are all struggling through this pandemic and we have now hit this tragic third wave, which is the worst yet in the pandemic. My constituents are shocked with the fact that the Liberal government will be cutting the supports that people so desperately need during this pandemic and are angered by the profiteering we have seen during this pandemic. Canada's billionaires are adding $78 billion to their wealth at a time when so many people are struggling.
    My question for my colleague is very simple. The budget gives a free ride to the ultra-wealthy in the country. Does he feel it is appropriate, at this critical time, that the Liberals are giving a free ride to Canada's ultra-wealthy?
    Madam Speaker, this is a question the member has asked me before in the House. I appreciate him repeating it, and I will repeat my answer.
    The real way of supporting Canadians and introducing fairness across all sectors of our economy is to generate economic growth. We had gone into this budget saying no new taxes, especially on our hard hit small business sector, and we are pleased that for the most part there is not a dramatic increase in tax burden on those businesses that are still struggling, although there is some.
    These businesses are still calling for help from the government, and new businesses are not receiving it because of the reasons I outlined in my speech. I wish this member of the NDP would focus on economic growth and generating wealth within Canada so every family across this country benefits from that prosperity.
    Madam Speaker, my question is around credit ratings. Last June, Fitch downgraded our national credit rating. At the same time, S&P warned it could downgrade our credit rating over the next couple of years, “should the deterioration in the government's fiscal position become more severe and prolonged than we currently expect.”
    My colleague pointed out very aptly that the Prime Minister has now stumbled blithely into the fiscal unknown. Does my colleague think Canada might be in danger of a credit downgrade again, and what effect might that have on our prospects fiscally?

  (1050)  

    Madam Speaker, I certainly do. My letter to the Minister of Finance outlined the fact that we had serious concerns that Canada's credit rating was going to be downgraded because of a declining fiscal situation. That is a result of unmanageable debt and deficits and unmanageable stimulus spending, which overheats the economy and leads to inflation. We want to make sure our economy is on sound, solid footing.
    When Fitch downgrades us, as it recently did, it should sound alarm bells to all of us to ask what the Liberal government is doing wrong.
    Madam Speaker, I want to go back to the first question from the parliamentary secretary, because the member did not answer it and skated around the answer. He was asked whether he supports the child care initiatives here. What he said was that one size does not fit all and that we have to look for different solutions.
    This is a tested program in Quebec. It is a successful program in Quebec that has gotten more women into the workforce. It has done a lot for gender equality in the workforce.
    Which is it: Does the member support the initiative or think the model has been a failure in Quebec?
    Madam Speaker, first, we support the provinces in making their own decisions in these areas. Clearly, Quebec has made its decision to establish this program, and we laud them for that, but there is nothing in the budget I have seen that says the minister is going to adopt the Quebec system. She has praised it, but we have no details in the budget about what this system will look like, other than that it is going to lead to $10-a-day daycare and a reduction in child care costs by 50% over the next few years.
    There is no detail attached to this proposal, so this member is asking me to judge something I have not even seen in its entirety. I will repeat that what we want to see is a system that creates new child care spaces but also incorporates flexibility for families that have other models of child care they want to access. We believe in the rights of parents to choose for their children. I wish this member would.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, let me begin by saying that the Bloc Québécois stands in solidarity with the people of all Canadian provinces, and especially Ontario, who are dealing with a resurgence of the pandemic, which has become alarming in many respects. Quebec seems to be managing a little better for the moment. Let us hope we can get out of this situation as soon as possible.
    Quebec and Canada, like the rest of the world, have been hammered by a devastating and unexpected pandemic, the scale, scope and devastation of which no one anticipated. This was followed by a serious, significant economic crisis that has rocked key sectors of our economy, including everything from self-employed workers and small, local businesses to big multinationals and the greedy giants that the airlines have become.
    The government has done the right thing in one respect, specifically, taking advantage of its huge borrowing capacity, which compares favourably with most other OECD countries, to be able to inject significant amounts of money into the Quebec and Canadian economies. It is the right thing to do. Some $50 billion will be spent this year, followed by $100 billion over the next three years, to invest in the actual economic recovery. That is something the government can do, and it is certainly what needs to be done.
    In some ways, it listened to the Bloc Québécois—not just the Bloc, that is not what I am saying—when it came to addressing the interests and needs of Quebec and what Quebec was calling for. The government did listen, to some extent. In some cases, there was more talk than action, but the government did pick up on some of the themes that we, together with the National Assembly of Quebec, deemed to be absolutely essential for stimulating economic activity.
    I am thinking about the aerospace sector, which appears in a Canadian budget for the very first time. I am thinking about the biopharmaceutical industry, which is now gaining prominence under the current circumstances after being neglected in recent years. Canada and Quebec in particular, were a hub of pharmaceutical research until the sector was decimated after years of neglect.
    I am thinking about the electrification of transportation. Let me say from the outset that this is very much a Quebec issue, subject, and expertise. Quebec is an undisputed leader in this area just as it is in the aerospace industry.
    I am thinking about the forest-based bioeconomy. I suspect, and I will say it with a smile, that it would not be in the budget if not for the very eloquent and strongly worded statement, addressing the reality of the Quebec regions, made by what we call the Bloc Québécois “caucus du bois” at the initiative of the member for Jonquière and the member for Lac-Saint-Jean. We agree that it is not huge. More money has been allocated before, for example to fight the spruce budworm. However, it is a good start that some funding will be invested in forest-based bioeconomy and that intent is what we were looking for. We will see later whether it is significant or not.
    I have to admit that there is some concern associated with that. Where will this money be invested? For example, had the federal government decided in 2021, as it did in 2009-10, to inject a massive amount of money into the automobile industry, we would not expect it to go to Drummondville or Val-d'Or. We would expect it to go to Ontario. If the government injects substantial amounts of money in aerospace, we expect that half this funding will go where half the aerospace industry is located, that is, in Quebec, which is a world leader in that sector.

  (1055)  

    The pharmaceutical industry was seriously gutted. The expertise was Quebec-based and research capacity is still Quebec-based, not exclusively, but for the most part. Initiatives were brought in during the pandemic by Quebec businesses and corporations.
    The electrification of transportation is more than just an economic sector in Quebec. It is our identity. Quebec cannot take full credit. Its geography and history have made it a place where clean hydro-electricity, drawn from its rivers, has shaped our province as a leader in clean energy and everything that follows, including the electrification of transportation. It seems only natural that such leadership would be recognized.
    Buying Quebec products, such as charging stations by AddÉnergie Technologies, and installing them across Canada would be a good way to recognize our production capacity and technology. There are several other companies such as Elmec in Shawinigan.
    However, we would have reservations and concerns if the plan is to take our expertise and move it somewhere else, diluting the competence and expertise that Quebec is renowned for, to benefit Canadian provinces with our own money. That goes for the forest-based bioeconomy as well, although there is obviously a large forestry industry in British Columbia and a little in New Brunswick and Ontario. This expertise must not be moved, because that would undermine Quebec's competitive edge in key economic sectors. We will have to be very vigilant.
    In the aerospace sector, for example, the federal government had no problem retroactively passing a bill allowing Aveos jobs to be transferred from Montreal to Manitoba. If that is where this is going, we are not interested.
    When the government decided it was interested in the electrification of transportation, it initially announced $500 million for a Ford plant in Ontario. That does not mean there will not be any plants in Quebec, but we in Quebec obviously know that Ontario is not a hub for transportation electrification.
    I remind members that the government made investments to combat spruce budworm in the Maritimes but not in Quebec, which was also having problems with that pest.
    Glaring omissions like this have happened repeatedly in the past. Here is another example from this budget: the Davie shipyard, one of Quebec City's economic powerhouses that represents 2% to 3% of a budget merrily hovering around $120 billion, even though it accounts for half of Canada's shipbuilding capacity. The government says it is because Irving is failing to deliver, so bureaucrats will be hired to go support Irving, which will keep on failing to deliver. There is nothing here for Davie, which makes no sense.
    This tendency to cherry-pick Quebec's expertise and use our own money to generously distribute that expertise across Canada could turn into an issue. Are these amounts enough? Bioforestry is a special case.
    We certainly applaud the fact that something that has been good for Quebec is being applied to the rest of Canada. Quebec has been innovative and has gained international recognition for the child care policy my premier, Ms. Marois, implemented. According to every economic analysis, not just Quebec-based ones, that policy massively increased women's presence in the workforce. The fact that Canada has at long last decided to implement a similar model is worth applauding.
    Now, as I have said elsewhere, students do not tell teachers how to correct their work. The federal government will not tell Quebec how to run a child care system. Instead, it should express an interest in learning how Quebec runs its system. There can be exchanges of ideas and free consent to improvements. Generally speaking, the concept of free consent should be the basic principle underlying Quebec-Canada relations.

  (1100)  

    If the strange notion of an asymmetrical agreement with Quebec means something other than a simple transfer of Quebec's share of the funding for child care with no strings attached, then that is unacceptable.
    This morning, the Quebec finance minister, Mr. Girard, was very clear. He does not intend to negotiate. Quebec just wants its share of the funding. That is the way it should be, even though, yesterday, the Minister of Finance was unable to resist saying that the money should be invested the way she says it should. To put it bluntly, it is none of her damn business.
    Quebec does what it wants with Quebec's money. Quebeckers have a Quebec government and a National Assembly that deal with such issues. The other Parliament, where we are currently, has no right to tell the National Assembly what to do with its money. That is a bad habit that the federal government has gotten into and is having a hard time overcoming. It is almost genetic. In this case, we are informing the federal government that we will take the money, but we will not be told what to do with it.
    The same thing is happening when it comes to long-term care centres for seniors. It is the only federal contribution in health. This is something much larger than an elephant in the room. We are coming out of a pandemic. It is a health issue. Who are the primary victims of the pandemic? Seniors are. We saw that. The loss of life has been dramatic, especially among seniors. What is the budget missing? It is missing help for health care and help for seniors.
    I scratched my head. I even thought that in terms of electoral opportunism, a skill this government has mastered, I would have done something. However, there is nothing and it is a slap in the face to Quebec and all of Canada's premiers who are being told that they will not be getting their health transfers. Quebeckers and people elsewhere in Canada might take note and get fed up with this lack of respect. As for the rest of the budget, anyone could have come up with it. The right decisions were easy to make. However, the bad decisions are shocking.
    I was talking about CHSLDs, or their equivalent across Canada. The federal government said it would invest $3 billion over five years, which should mean roughly $120 million a year for Quebec. In the context of long-term care, that is not a lot of money. On top of that, the federal government said the money would have conditions attached, because it is Canada, which is intrinsically superior to Quebec's jurisdictions.
    However, this fails to acknowledge that the underfunding of the health care system is largely to blame for what happened. In fact, Ottawa has not been paying its fair share for quite some time now. The average age is higher in Quebec than elsewhere.
    The federal government likes to take a moral stance and tell others how things work, even when it has no experience in the matter. The federal government has never run a health care facility, but it knows everything because it is the federal government, and they are the Liberals so they are, by definition, superior. This constant tendency to meddle in Quebec's affairs makes no sense, especially considering that Ottawa can barely manage its own jurisdictions, such as border control.
    Word choice is a problem here. The federal government uses words like “aeronautics”, “forests”, “health” and “electric transportation”, but the measures themselves are quite vague. In reality, we will debate the budget for a number of days, after which we will vote on this budget, with all of the consequences that entails. We will then move on to the budget implementation bill and other things.
    I want to get back to the very important topic of seniors. The Liberal government, that eternal warrior against all forms of discrimination, be they imaginary or real, decided to invent a new form of discrimination, distinguishing between real seniors, aged 75 and older, and phony seniors. If I were a senior 75 and over, I would not be having a big celebration, thinking that I was going to get something. In reality, I would get a $500 cheque in July, which is less than $50 a month over the year. That is insulting enough as it is, but seniors aged 65 to 75 do not even get a little something. They get nothing at all.

  (1105)  

    I do not know what planet the Prime Minister is living on, but since yesterday, we have all been getting messages at our riding offices and on social media from people aged 65 to 75, who are furious, or even pissed off, if I may say so. They are feeling disrespected.
    Because we are good people, as everyone knows, we will urge the government to make things right.
    The government's economic statement last November predicted a deficit of $380 billion, a figure that ended up being $350 billion. The $30 billion difference is the same amount that it would cost to implement the provinces' demand to increase health transfers from approximately 22% to 35% in one year. It absolutely would not get the government in trouble. This is something it could do.
    If the government accepts our amendment, the Bloc Québécois proposal would increase old age security for those 65 and over by $110 a month. That is a significant sum that would total approximately $4 billion a year. That is just a little more than 1% of last year's deficit for the group of people who were most affected by the pandemic.
    We should be able to talk to one another. If our amendment were adopted, we could be in a situation where this summer's disappointing $500 would be accessible to everyone 65 and over pending the adoption of implementing legislation for next year. In this context, there would be legislation next year because we would work together to bring in this law.
    We will not be headed to the polls as early as the government would have liked, but we will presumably still be on the campaign trail come fall. Therefore, there will be no legislation to increase old age security before next summer. It will not happen. We could accelerate things if our amendment were accepted because it would create fairness compared to the profound unfairness of the current version.
    We are therefore tabling an amendment to the Conservatives' amendment. I have the pleasure of reading it.
    That the amendment be amended by deleting paragraphs (a) and (b) and substituting the following:
“(a) does not include any increase to the Canada health transfers;
(b) abandons seniors between the ages of 65 and 75; and”
and by adding after the words “economic growth” the following:
“, support health care systems by increasing the Canada health transfers to 35% of health care costs and contribute to the quality of life of seniors aged 65 and over by increasing Old Age Security as of age 65 and dropping the age for the one-time payment of $500 for the summer of 2021 to age 65.”
    The door is wide open for the government securing the Bloc Québécois vote for this budget and significant appreciation by the simple application of Quebec's basic rules of fairness.

  (1110)  

    The amendment to the amendment is in order.
    Questions and comments.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, the Prime Minister and government members have recognized the true value of having an national child care system that supports parents being in the workforce. We look at the Province of Quebec and its success. It is something that should be applauded. We can look at a system and ways to incorporate that nationally.
    The member makes reference to long-term care. The constituents of Winnipeg North and I, and I believe Canadians in general, see the need for national standards. We have seen this throughout the pandemic.
    Can my friend across the way indicate if he thinks we should support what the government is being called upon to do and look at national standards for long-term care? It such an important issue, and it seems to me to that people in all regions of the country want to see that happen.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I have a suggestion for my esteemed colleague. Rather than apply Canadian standards to Quebec, which has been doing this for 20 years while Canada has not done it at all, the government could apply Quebec's standards to Canada, and everything will be fine. I do not see why it should be done otherwise. Then Quebec can thank the feds when it gets its cheque and say how pleased it is to have helped women in Canada.
    Quebec did not wait for the federal government's go-ahead to become a more feminist state. We have had plenty of budgets tabled by female finance ministers, such as Ms. Marois and Ms. Jérôme-Forget.
    I am very happy to see this change. I really feel for people in Toronto who pay $1,300 per month per child for care. That is absolutely crazy. Kudos to Canada for following Quebec's lead. I just want to make it clear that the federal government will not be forcing its policies on us just because it was inspired by us.

  (1115)  

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I want to talk about the child care promise in the context of the history of the government not being able to keep its promises. The Liberals promised to balance the budget by 2019. They promised electoral reform, elimination of boil water advisories, reduction of cellular fees by 25% and many, many other things.
    How much faith does the member have that the Liberal government will be able to keep this promise?

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, that is a big question. I do not even know where to start.
    If we had to list all of the government's broken promises, we would be here all night, so instead I will name just a few. There is often a direct correlation between the probability that a promise is kept and the proximity of an election, so there is reason to be skeptical.
    Quebeckers have an advantage when it comes to child care because we already have a system in place. At best, the Quebec government will receive additional funding and will do what it likes with it.
    However, with all of the hype on this issue, I hope that the federal government will follow through on this commitment, that the entire House will agree on the principle of an early child care program and that such a program will be implemented, no matter what the future may bring. Quebec will always be willing to co-operate.
    Madam Speaker, I commend the leader of the Bloc Québécois on his speech.
    He quite rightly spoke about the failures of this budget, which include insufficient funding for health care and a lack of support for seniors. It is clear that the budget fails to properly address these two issues.
    Another failure is the Liberal Party's refusal to make the wealthy pay. During this pandemic, billionaires grew $78 billion richer. We know that we are losing $25 billion per year to tax havens. We also know that 20% of Quebeckers want a tax on wealth.
    How does the leader of the Bloc Québécois explain the Liberal government's refusal to make the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes?
    Madam Speaker, I am tempted to use chemistry terms like centralization versus decentralization.
    The Liberals have a compulsive habit of trying to centralize everything. The government is trying to set conditions on programs that should exist regardless. This creates delays, adds complexity and does not provide people with the help they need.
    Now, making the rich and the ultra-rich pay is something we can get behind. I will use the example often highlighted by my esteemed colleague from Joliette, namely, tax evasion and tax havens. The federal government is losing out on $900 million a year that it could be going after.
    I am being about as subtle as a freight train—and who knows whether trains between Montreal and Quebec City will even survive—but a single tax return would allow us to decentralize power to Quebec, which tends to honour its commitments, something the federal government does not do. Right now the federal government is leaving $900 million lying around in champagne-soaked, sunny tax havens, while Quebeckers are in lockdown in a post-pandemic economic crisis.
    Madam Speaker, the main things missing from the budget are of course health transfers and support for seniors.
    In my view, another important omission is the print media. For over a year now, we have been calling on the government to support the print media industry, especially regional media venues, which are going through an unprecedented crisis. The budget would have been a great opportunity to do something for that industry, but there was nothing.
    I want to ask my colleague, who is also my party leader, to comment on the fact that this was missing from the federal budget.
    Madam Speaker, the federal government announced that it planned to impose a suitable tax on web giants, which are creating a lot of unfair competition in the communications, arts and media sector.
    Imagine being on a flight to Europe with enough fuel to get to Greenland. It stops halfway there. The government taxes 3% of its revenue. However, that is only a temporary measure while waiting for something else for which there is no deadline, and also, the money is going into the consolidated revenue fund. The government criticizes Quebec for taking the money from child care services and putting it into the consolidated revenue fund, but it is taking money from arts, culture and the media and putting it in the consolidated revenue fund, which is unacceptable. That money needs to go to the media and the arts, which desperately need it.

  (1120)  

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I want to go back to the response that the leader of the Bloc Québécois gave to our colleague, the parliamentary secretary, about imposing Quebec's great success on long-term care facilities onto the rest of Canada.
     Indeed, that is the whole point of national standards, to look to the provinces for the great successes that they have had so that we can use them throughout the rest of the country. Indeed, if there are great successes in Quebec I would love to be able to give those as an opportunity to Ontario. Likewise, I can only imagine that the leader of the Bloc Québécois would want the same.
    If another jurisdiction in Canada were so successful in long-term care, would he not like to see those as being options and being made national standards? Does he not see the value of coming together from various provinces and jurisdictions throughout the country to develop standards that can be to the benefit of everyone?

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I am overcome by emotion.
    Now that I have gotten ahold of myself, I would say yes, but on one condition: free consent between equals. If Quebec is recognized for its extraordinary success in child care, then it should not have standards imposed on it or be told how to spend its money. It should be asked what it thinks about that. If Quebec thinks it is a good idea, it will say yes. If it does not, it will say no. That is what I meant by free consent between equal partners. In fact, this concept of free consent between equal partners should be extended to all relations between Quebec and Canada. That would be very beneficial, at least for Quebec.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I want to begin by putting in context what this budget means. We are over a year into a global pandemic and it has hit hard. It has hit the world hard, and it has hit people here in Canada very hard.
    Specifically, we know the impacts have been devastating; people have lost their jobs; people have lost their businesses; and people have lost their lives. We also know the pandemic has disproportionately impacted some people. We know indigenous people, who have lived with historic and ongoing injustice when it comes to access to health care and overcrowded housing, have felt the impact of this pandemic even more.
     We know women have been disproportionately impacted by this pandemic. Women have lost their jobs in service sector and care economy positions. We also know that on top of having to care for children and aging loved ones, women are stretched to the brink and they cannot find affordable child care, so they have been disproportionately impacted to the point that women are now at the lowest job participation rate in decades.
    We know that racialized people have been disproportionately impacted. Some of the hardest-hit communities in our country are where there are more newcomers, new Canadians and racialized people. We know of frontline workers who have to go into factories and warehouses, whether it is in logistics or transportation, and are working in grocery stores, on the front lines. These are workers who are often among the most vulnerable and often racialized. They have been disproportionately impacted.
    We know young people have felt the burden of this pandemic significantly. Young people who are just starting off their careers saw their jobs cut. Young people who hoped to work in the summer saw many of the jobs they usually worked no longer there. Young people who are looking to build their lives, find partners and grow their careers are unable to do so. Young people have been disproportionately impacted.
    One of the greatest shames, something I have referred to as a national shame, is that this pandemic has disproportionately impacted seniors, particularly seniors in long-term care. They have borne the brunt of this pandemic with their lives, and it is something we cannot allow to continue. It should have never happened in the first place, but we cannot allow this to continue.
    Now we are dealing with the third wave. The third wave is hitting harder than all the previous waves. We are seeing numbers rising across the country. We are seeing a particularly dire situation in Ontario, where field hospitals are being set up and ICUs are being overwhelmed. Health care workers are telling us they are also at the breaking point. They cannot bear to see more travesty. They are seeing entire families being admitted to the ICU. With this variant, we are seeing younger people who have to be on ventilators. No longer is it just an illness that impacts more so elderly or more immunocompromised people, the variant is impacting younger and younger people. In Ontario, it is clear we are losing the race to the variant.
    We have also seen across this country that the poorest communities, where we have the highest number of essential and frontline workers, are the communities with the highest rates of COVID-19 infection, but the lowest rates of vaccination. This is a serious problem.

  (1125)  

[Translation]

    These are tough times. We are hurting. COVID-19 has hit all communities, and the third wave is hitting hard. Times are hard everywhere. Case numbers are rising, and front-line health workers are struggling. We must act now to protect workers and ensure better care for our seniors. We must take definitive action right now.

[English]

    What did the Liberals choose to do in this budget? Budgets are always a matter of choices. They are always a matter of priorities. What does this government choose to do, and what does it choose not to do? Both of those questions are fundamental in any budget.
    We have seen the pandemic hit people and impact communities differently, but the one thing that is absolutely clear is this. While working people and small businesses have suffered, the ultra rich have not only been spared suffering, they have seen their wealth increase in the midst of this pandemic. The richest Canadians, the 44 wealthiest billionaires, have increased their wealth by over $62 billion. We have seen web giants like Amazon, Netflix and Google increase their profits. We have seen large corporate grocery stores increase their profits. The ultra rich have done very well in this pandemic.
    We have seen inequality grow. We have seen the inequalities that were already in society get worse, so one would think that, given the growing inequality, and the fact the ultra rich saw their wealth increase disproportionately while workers and small businesses saw their livelihoods diminish and their lives become worse, this budget would do something about it. One would think the budget would answer the question of who will pay for the pandemic and recovery, which should be the ultra rich. That is what one would have thought, but the reality is the budget makes a clear decision and a clear choice. The Liberal government and the Prime Minister have chosen that the ultra rich will not pay their fair share; instead, the burden will fall on families and workers.
    This budget does not include a wealth tax. It does not include an excess profits during the pandemic tax. It does not close offshore tax havens or loopholes. It does not tackle the inequalities at all. It does not mean the wealthiest billionaires in this country will be contributing more of their fair share in any significant way. It does not do that. In doing so, the Liberal government is saying that it will continue to allow profits to be made off the backs of seniors in long-term care and that families and workers will have to continue to bear the burden.

  (1130)  

[Translation]

    Over the course of the pandemic, inequalities have increased, with the ultra-rich becoming richer than ever while people needing help are still struggling to get by. The crisis has highlighted the many holes in our social safety net. This budget should have helped Canadians, but the Liberals continue to favour the ultra-rich while leaving families and workers behind.
     Budgets are a matter of choices. Who did the Prime Minister choose? He did not choose families, workers, or seniors living in long-term care homes. He chose the ultra-rich. The budget has no wealth tax, no excess profits tax and no action to combat tax havens.
    The Prime Minister and the government have once again chosen to do nothing, allowing the ultra-rich to keep using tax havens and loopholes. The government chose not to make the ultra-rich pay their fair share. That was a choice, and in making that choice, the Liberal government chose not to help families. It did not address these issues with our tax system.

[English]

    We have also noticed some good things in the budget. Without a doubt there are some positive things in this budget. The problem with the positive things in this budget is the Liberal government's track record. On the one hand, there certainly seems to be a strong emphasis on child care. In fact, it looks like it borrowed the plan we have been running on for the past number of elections. In 2015 and 2019, we ran on a commitment to bring in universal, accessible, affordable child care. The Liberals have taken from that, which is great. I would love for them to take from that and get it done. The problem is this. We have a really clear example in front of us that I think the Liberals might have forgotten about.
    The fact is that the Liberals and the Prime Minister ran on universal pharmacare in 2019. They included it specifically in the throne speech, but had no qualms of completely abandoning it in the budget. They have yet to endorse their own commissioned report, which states very clearly that it should be a universal, entirely public pharmacare for all, and that is not surprising, because all the experts agree. However, the Liberal government has failed to even accept that report. The Liberals have not come out and said that they agree with the clear recommendation. Instead, they have completely abandoned it. The problem with doing that is this. When they run on something, when they campaign on something, when they put it in the throne speech and make as a priority but then completely abandon it, it makes it pretty hard to believe that they will follow through on another promise in the budget.
    The sad reality is that so many people, so many women in our country are just fed up with phony promises. The Liberal government has promised universal child care for 28 years. That is three decades that Liberal governments have been in power, in majority governments, and they have not done it. Many members of the Liberal government were asked, why now? Why have they not done it before? Why are they suddenly realizing this epiphany? It makes so sense that the Liberal Party has been in power so many times over three decades and have nothing to advance this. How can Canadians believe them now?
     As I just mentioned, the Liberals have been promising pharmacare for 24 years; that is 24 years of broken promises.
    The budget includes a federal minimum wage increase, which is great. We ran on that. The funny thing is that when we first proposed it, the Liberal government was opposed to it and ran against it, but I will put that aside. Now the Liberals agree that it is the right thing to do. However, they promised to do it in 2019, they promised to get it done by 2020 and we are halfway through 2021. This is an easy fix. People can see things, hear the promises made and not see the action. The problem is that this one is an entirely easy thing to get done. Cabinet could get it done immediately. We are going to follow this and see if this is another example of a Liberal promise just to sound good but not do anything about it.
    Herein lies the problem with the Liberal budget: The Liberals are saying a lot of nice things, but they do not actually do them. They do not actually follow through on them. The problem is that when they do not follow through on them, it is not just a void, but people who need this help get hurt.
    This really aligns with what we have experienced throughout this pandemic. The Liberals often started off with something that was just the bare minimum and we had to fight tooth and nail to get more help for Canadians. Let us look at some of the examples of things that the Liberal government promised recently or delivered, and we had to fight to make it better.
    When we realized that people were going to lose their jobs because of this pandemic and that it was going to be very difficult for businesses, we said that we needed support to keep people hired. The Liberals started off with a 10% wage subsidy. Put simply, that meant they were willing cover 10% of a person's salary. To cover 10% of a person's salary really will not keep that person hired. It is no significant way to keep people in their jobs. We had to fight tooth and nail and push hard. We said that it had to be more. We wrote a letter, which brought together pretty interesting allies such as the president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business and the president of Unifor. We said that it had to be at least 75% or higher. We fought hard and we won, so Canadians could see themselves in their jobs. We covered 75% of people's salaries to keep people employed, saving millions of jobs. This is an example of where the Liberals just wanted to do the minimum and we had to fight to get the maximum.
    With CERB, the Liberals started off at $1,000, knowing that it was not enough to even cover rent for a lot of people. We had to fight hard, tooth and nail, to ensure we doubled that to $2,000, so people would be able to put food on the table. People in lockdowns who could not work would be able to pay their rent and stay in their homes.
    The Liberal government completely ignored students and had no support directly for them. There were no financial supports. We listened to students when they said that they needed help because they would not be able to work this summer. We fought hard to bring in direct financial support for them.

  (1135)  

    One of the biggest tools to fight this pandemic is paid sick leave, and we fought hard to bring that in at the federal level, the first of its kind, the first new social safety net increase, but we said that there were some problems with what the Liberals have done. They did not bring in enough supports, and they have failed to fix that to date. When the Liberals do not do what they say and when they do not fix the problems we have raised, people end up paying the price and suffering.
    Let us look at the choices made in the Liberal budget, who the Liberals have chosen to support and who they have chosen to ignore.
     We said that we needed an answer to the question of who would pay for this pandemic, and that had to be with a wealth tax on the ultra-rich, a tax on excess profits, on the pandemic profiteering. We said that there had to be a closing of the tax loopholes.
    Did the Liberal government choose to do any of those things in the budget? No. By not choosing to tax the ultra-rich, to close tax loopholes and to end offshore tax havens, the Liberal government has chosen to protect the ultra-rich, which hurts everyone else.
    What did Liberals choose to do in the budget? They chose something very interesting. The Liberal government chose to extend the supports that people needed, which is great. However, we are in one of the worst parts of this pandemic, the third wave, and the Liberal government specifically has chosen to cut the amount of help people receive by $200 a month. These are people who have been laid off or cannot go back to work because of the pandemic.
    Let us look at this choice. While the Liberals chose not to make the ultra-rich pay their fair share, choosing to help the ultra-rich, they chose to hurt workers who may have lost their jobs because of lockdowns this summer. Hopefully that will not happen again, although we are currently in a lockdown in Ontario. They chose to cut the amount workers, who were laid off in the summer, received, which is a choice against workers.
    What about families that are struggling to pay for medications? Who did the Liberal government choose? It effectively chose big pharma over families struggling to pay for their medications. Who else benefits without a universal national pharmacare program? Big pharma.
    Everyone agrees that if we pooled our resources as a country, if every province and territory that already buys medications pooled that buying power, we could negotiate better deals and get better prices. It just makes sense. When the government chooses not to do it, it chooses specifically to help big pharma. No one else benefits from that, and it hurts families that are struggling.
    What about refusing to take the profit out of long-term care? The Liberals refused to that in this budget. They voted against our motion that called for this. In that choice, all they are choosing to help profitable for-profit long-term care centres, and that hurts seniors who are suffering.
    When the Liberals choose not to improve paid sick leave, they hurt workers who are struggling because they cannot make the choice to go into work sick or stay home and not pay the bills. They are choosing not to help workers.
     When they choose not to help students by forgiving their student debt, they are continuing to make it harder for them.
    I want to wrap up with the immediate concern of the pandemic in Ontario. Right now, the Premier and the Prime Minister have both refused to show leadership to deal with this crisis, which is urgent and serious.
    We need two things specifically. We need immediately, and we wanted to see this in the budget, an all-hands-on-deck approach to get the vaccines to the communities that need it most. That is a serious problem. Second, we need to immediately improve paid sick leave. All experts agree that paid sick leave will save lives.
    The Premier of Ontario has failed to do anything about this. The Prime Minister has failed to act on what we said, which was to improve the paid sick leave program to get help to people. We suggested the use of the Emergencies Act, specifically a public welfare emergency, which would allow us to have more tools to get help to people. We need to do something now. The situation is a crisis. Ontario is on fire. We need to immediately improve paid sick leave and get the vaccines to the people who need it most. We need to tackle this. The consequences are dire, and we are hearing warning after warning.
    We will not give up the fight for people. We will continue to apply pressure on the government to ensure it does what is necessary and right for the people of this land.

  (1140)  

    Madam Speaker, in this budget is a serious commitment to delivering on child care across the country, something we have not seen in decades. It is a real commitment to putting the infrastructure in place and getting child care down to $10 a day for parents throughout Canada. We were in a very similar situation just over 15 years ago when Paul Martin introduced a similar budget that would have gotten us there. The NDP teamed up with the Conservatives at the time, brought the government down, Stephen Harper was elected and Canadians did not see that child care.
    My question for the member is very simple. Will history repeat itself with this budget or will the NDP support it so parents throughout Canada can get the child care promise in the budget, which was promised last time when the NDP took down the government?
    Madam Speaker, the member brings up history repeating itself. Twenty-seven years ago, the Liberal government promised pharmacare and has had majority governments since. For 27 years, history has repeated itself. Sadly, history has repeated itself with the Liberal government saying one thing and doing another, breaking promise after promise, and that hurts people. The New Democrats absolutely believe in child care. The reality is that the Liberal government likes to talk about child care, but never actually does it.
    Madam Speaker, the leader of the NDP really hit the nail on the head. We have a situation of a government that has a damning track record of making big promises and not keeping them, such as to balance the budget by 2019; electoral reform, which was a centrepiece of the 2015 campaign; boil water advisories; reduced cellular fees; and the other things he has mentioned.
    What reason would Canadians have to believe this promise on child care? Why should they believe it?

  (1145)  

    Sadly, Madam Speaker, I agree with the member. The problem is that the Liberal government often does say one thing and does exactly the opposite. The most recent example I keep bringing up is the 27 years of broken promises on child care as well as the 24 years of broken promises on pharmacare. It is hard to keep the broken promises straight as there are so many of them.
    There is a recent example with pharmacare. The Liberals campaigned on it in 2019, they included it in the throne speech and they have now walked away from it, as if Canadians would not notice. Canadians have noticed. It is hard to believe the Liberal government is serious about something when it just broke a very similar bold promise that it made very recently. The sad reality is that the government will say one thing and then do another. The Liberals say one thing to get elected and once elected, they do not do it.
    Madam Speaker, the Liberal budget is the best budget we could have had in 2015. In 2015, the New Democrats ran on child care and the Liberals ridiculed us. They thought $10-a-day child care was ridiculous and made so much fun of it. Now they understand the wisdom of it. On the $15 minimum wage, the Prime Minister, a millionaire's son, thought that was ridiculous. Now the Liberals understand, stealing New Democratic ideas.
    However, we are not in 2015; we are in 2021. We are in the midst of the worst medical crisis that our nation has ever seen. ICU beds are being overrun and people are drying. The people dying are young, racialized workers who have to go to work day in, day out. I do not see anything in the budget that recognizes the need to support them, to get the resources or use the powers in the Emergency Act to work with the provinces.
    Why is the government also cutting the funding for workers in the gig economy? They are the ones who are suffering.
    Madam Speaker, the hon. member is absolutely right. This is a matter of choices and the Liberal government has made some really clear choices. It has chosen not to improve paid sick leave, which would directly save lives, and not to support workers, when they might lose their jobs, by cutting the amount of money they receive. These workers are the most vulnerable and they might lose their jobs. The government has chosen to cut the amount of support they get at the end of the summer.
     The government has clearly chosen to ignore the crisis going on in Ontario. That is why we have to again redouble our efforts to say that we need to use the Emergency Act, we need to ensure vaccines get to the communities that need it most and we need to ensure paid sick leave is in place to keep workers safe.
     It is a matter of choices and the government has shown again and again that it did not and has not chosen to work for people; it has chosen to protect the ultra-rich.
    Madam Speaker, there is a street in my riding called Manning Avenue, named after Archbishop Manning from England. Years ago he said, “What we will, we are, and what we are, we do.” I know I cannot cure the leader of the NDP of his cynicism, and all politicians should take responsibility for the cynicism that grows in politics when we do not deliver as accurately and as strongly as we want to.
    He has said he is going to vote for this budget. I appreciate the support and the stability that is implied in that commitment. How can we move toward establishing child care? His party in British Columbia talks about giving all the powers to the provinces, and letting the provinces do what the provinces are going to do. He says that in British Columbia, but in Ontario the results would be devastating. We already saw the Ford government's response to our budget yesterday. Its members sound much like their Conservative counterparts in the House. They do not like public child care.
    Will the NDP support us in making sure that the federal government negotiates a strong deal with the provinces and that we do not succumb to provincial desires alone in creating this new, national program? Will he back off saying one thing in B.C. and a different thing in Ontario when it comes to establishing child care?

  (1150)  

    Madam Speaker, the whole premise of the question comes back to whether the Liberals are actually going to do what they say. The reality is that sometimes cynicism is not borne out in the evidence. Sometimes it is just pure and raw, and it is unfair; however, in the case of child care, and in the case of the Liberal government, we have 27 years of evidence that despite majority governments, the Liberal government does not do what it promises to do. We have the evidence with pharmacare: The Liberals campaigned on it, made it a priority, said it was important, put it in the throne speech and then did not do it.
    We believe in universal, affordable child care. We believe in working with provinces and territories to make it happen and we will continue to fight for it. Our concern is that the Liberal government just likes to say certain things and not ever end up doing them. We are going to fight to make sure it actually happens. We are going to fight to make sure people have the support they need, and people can count on us to do that.
    Madam Speaker, there is a lot to unpack in this 754-page document, which is basically an election platform. It is not really a budget. I would offer that a lot of what is said in those documents is in year two and year three. If we read the fine print, the spending is over five years.
    We are in the middle of a mental health crisis, and not only a mental health crisis, an opioid crisis as well. While a billion dollars for mental health is not a small figure, it is merely a drop in the bucket, and $116 million spread out over five years to fight the opioid crisis is truly a drop in the bucket.
    Does my hon. colleague feel that more should have been spent on fighting some of the worst health crises, mental health and opioids, that our country has ever seen?
    Madam Speaker, while we are in the midst of a global pandemic, and that is a major crisis, it does not mean that other crises have gone away. We still have an opioid crisis, which has taken so many lives in our country. We still have a mental health crisis. In fact, it is going to increase given the additional pain of this pandemic: The isolation, the lack of activities and the lack of interaction will only make problems with mental health worse.
    We absolutely need to make sure we are prioritizing mental health. We believe, in fact, that mental health should be included in our health care system so that we truly have a head-to-toe health care system. It is going to be vital coming out of this pandemic. The second piece is the opioid crisis. We believe we need to immediately—

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to the 2021 budget, which was presented yesterday by my colleague, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance.
    I will begin by informing you, Madam Speaker, that I have been having technical difficulties since this morning. If I lose the connection, I will rejoin quickly.

[English]

    Budget 2021 is an ambitious and bold budget that focuses on finishing the fight against COVID and laying the groundwork for a strong economic recovery. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused the deepest and fastest recession globally since the Great Depression, and Canada has been no exception. Our government has laid out a plan that is committed to creating more jobs and a better quality of life for Canadians in the days and decades to come.
    As we continue to push through this third wave, we know that brighter days are ahead and budget 2021 will get us there. From the beginning, we have made it clear that our first priority is to fight the pandemic and save lives. The largest immunization campaign in Canada's history is now well under way and by the end of September, Canada will have received more than enough doses for every adult to be fully vaccinated. The budget includes an additional $1 billion to help speed up immunizations and another $4 billion for our health care systems.
    Our second priority is supporting people and businesses through this crisis and building back better. Budget 2021 not only supports Canadians and businesses as they work their way out of the COVID pandemic, it also invests in the future of our country. Budget 2021 proposes to extend the Canada emergency wage subsidy, the Canada emergency rent subsidy and lockdown support to save jobs and ensure businesses are ready when the economy fully reopens.
    The third priority is to build back better. On this front, budget 2021 sets us firmly on a path to a brighter tomorrow. The COVID-19 recession has affected everyone, but the impacts have not been equal. In the labour market, women were hit earlier and harder and their jobs continue to recover more slowly. Long-standing gender inequities have only been amplified over the course of the pandemic, which has put decades of hard-fought gains for women in the workplace at risk.
    To date, more than 16,000 women have dropped out of the labour force completely while the male labour force has grown by 91,000. This is a “she-cession”. Budget 2021 lays out an expansive jobs and growth plan that seeks to build a recovery that gives all women in Canada the ability to fully participate in our economy. It proposes providing up to $146.9 million over four years to strengthen the women entrepreneurship strategy, which allows women entrepreneurs greater access to financing, mentorship and training. We must build back a better and fairer Canada.
    Budget 2021's historic investments in early learning and child care, in youth and innovation and in housing will all contribute to a more inclusive country and a more solid recovery. In particular, we are proposing a truly generational investment in a Canada-wide system of quality, affordable child care. This budget commits up to $30 billion over five years to work with provincial, territorial and indigenous partners to build this system. By 2025-26, these investments will reach a minimum of $8.3 billion per year ongoing, including indigenous early learning and child care. Our vision is to reduce costs for parents to an average of $10 a day by 2026 everywhere outside of Quebec, which already has its own affordable public system. This would start with a 50% reduction in average fees by 2022. This will make a huge difference for Canadian families.

  (1155)  

[Translation]

    Quebec began putting in place a universal system of child care centres more than 20 years ago, and we must learn from its experience.
    Today, the participation rate in the economy for women with young children is higher in Quebec than in the rest of Canada. In fact, Quebec's rate is among the highest in the world.
    The Canada-wide early learning and child care system will help more women participate in the workforce. It will also help more children get a good start in life, and it will support Canadians who need it the most. It will stimulate our economy.
    We know that our economy needs a boost. Today, approximately 296,000 people are still out of work because of the pandemic, and another 247,000 are facing sharply reduced work hours, which could mean sharply reduced wages as well.
    Job creation is a very important aspect of the budget. I would even say that it is a priority. The measures we are proposing will create half a million job and training opportunities for workers over coming years. There will be 500,000 jobs, including 215,000 for youth.
    Young Canadians have been hit hard by the pandemic and job losses. However, the impact goes even deeper. The pandemic has had the greatest impact on youth mental health.
    We cannot sacrifice Canadian youth because of the pandemic. The budget therefore includes assistance for young Canadians, including those from low-income households, who wish to pursue and complete their education, and provides additional relief from student loan debt.
    In the 2021 budget, we are also continuing to help Canadian businesses, particularly small and medium-size businesses, adopt new technologies. The pandemic has hastened the economy's digital transformation. Businesses, workers and consumers are doing more and more business online. By helping businesses shift to digital, we are helping them become more productive and create good jobs, including for young people.

  (1200)  

    The budget measures also consolidate Canada's position as a world leader in research, innovation and the economy of tomorrow. That is what building back better means.

[English]

    We know that the COVID-19 recession has also widened the gaps in access to housing for Canadians. These gaps must be closed if we want to build back better. The investments included in budget 2021 would provide thousands of families with safe and affordable places to call home. In real numbers, $1.5 billion in additional funding for the rapid housing initiative will add 4,500 new affordable housing units, on top of the 4,700 units that were already funded through the program in the fall 2020 economic statement.
    The budget provides an additional $567 million over two years for the reaching home program: Canada's strategy to end chronic homelessness. Let me tell colleagues that this investment in affordable housing will make a real difference in Ottawa—Vanier, the riding I have the honour to represent. Just yesterday evening, I had the opportunity to speak with local stakeholders at the Shepherds of Good Hope, who told me how critical it is that we do whatever it takes to end chronic homelessness.
    We are also proposing to enhance the affordable housing innovation fund. This would create up to 12,700 units in addition to the 17,600 units supported by the program to date.
    These investments would not only make sure that tens of thousands of families have safe places to call home, they would create good, middle-class jobs and prosperity.

[Translation]

    We know that the COVID-19 recession has also widened the gaps in access to housing for Canadians. These gaps must be closed if we want to build back better. The investments included in budget 2021 would provide thousands of families with safe and affordable places to call home.
    In real numbers, $1.5 billion in additional funding for the rapid housing initiative will add 4,500 new affordable housing units, on top of the 4,700 units that were already funded through the program in the fall 2020 economic statement.
    The budget provides an additional $567 million over two years for the reaching home program: Canada's strategy to end chronic homelessness. This investment in affordable housing will make a real difference in Ottawa—Vanier, the riding I have the honour to represent. Just yesterday evening, I had the opportunity to speak with local stakeholders, including the Shepherds of Good Hope, who told me how critical it is that we do whatever it takes to end chronic homelessness.
    We are also proposing to enhance the affordable housing innovation fund. This would create up to 12,700 units in addition to the 17,600 units supported by the program to date. These investments would not only make sure that tens of thousands of families have safe places to call home, they would create good, middle-class jobs and prosperity.

[English]

    Increasing the amount of affordable housing is one of the many things this budget does to support and strengthen the middle class. This is a priority, and it should come as a surprise to no one. Since day one, this government has made consistent efforts to support the middle class.
    Early in both of our mandates, we cut taxes for middle-class Canadians. Millions of Canadians are benefiting from these measures and the reason for them is quite simple. We cannot have a strong economy without a strong middle class. It is a matter of fairness. Fairness is also why we have raised the taxes on the wealthiest 1% while lowering taxes for the middle class.

  (1205)  

[Translation]

    We also know that we have to work hard for all Canadians who want to join the middle class. The 2021 budget enhances the Canada workers benefit, which, over six years, will put almost $9 billion into the pockets of Canadian workers in low-paying jobs. This is an important investment because, in all of our ridings, low-paid workers are often the front-line workers in our local grocery and hardware stores.
    These workers need more help to pay their bills. The proposed changes mean that, for the first time, single parents working full-time will be eligible for up to $2,403 in non-taxable financial assistance. To allow more Canadians to join the middle class, our government intends to introduce a $15 minimum wage, keeping its promise to Canadians.
    Building back better means helping those most in need and supporting businesses wisely. The 2021 budget will allow businesses to immediately expense a large portion of their investments. This will be particularly useful for small and medium-size businesses, because it will make growth-stimulating investments more attractive. It will also free up capital that can be used to create more good jobs.
    To create more jobs and support green growth, the budget will also reduce the tax rates of businesses that manufacture zero-emission technologies. All of these measures will improve Canada's competitiveness, attract investment to the country and create good, well-paid jobs.

[English]

    Strong small businesses and resilient communities are the backbone of a strong economy and a growing middle class.
    We have seen some encouraging signs of recovery. Canada's real gross domestic product rose by almost 10% in the fourth quarter of 2020, building on a record gain of over 40% in the third quarter. This is obviously good news, but we know those numbers do not tell the whole story. A recovery plan that would focus on GDP alone would risk leaving people behind, and we do not do that.

[Translation]

    Even before the pandemic, the government was clear: We need to look beyond the gross domestic product, or GDP, if we really want to grow the economy for the welfare of all Canadians. Statistics like the GDP tell us about the growth of economic activity overall, but do not say much about the quality of life of a family with two children that cannot find affordable housing.
    An effective recovery plan is one that helps these families find a place to live, helps their children on the path from day care to university, gives parents the training they need to find and keep good jobs, and protects grandparents as well. In short, we need a recovery plan that allows these families and all Canadians to enjoy a good quality of life, as well as growing the GDP.
    COVID-19 has had an enormous impact on the quality of life of many Canadians. I am obviously thinking about the impact on health, but many of our fellow Canadians are also at grips with job loss, mental health issues and social isolation.

[English]

    The pandemic has highlighted inequities in many societies, and Canada is no exception. We can do better, and we must do better. Budget 2021 proposes measures to improve the quality of life of many Canadians. As I have said earlier, it would give every child the best start in life by establishing a Canada-wide early learning child care system. This would also support parents who want to work because, without child care, parents, often mothers, cannot work.
    Budget 2021 would also help ensure that seniors and those in care live in safe and dignified conditions by helping provinces and territories strengthen long-term care. It would increase old age security for seniors aged 75 and more. It would help young Canadians complete their education and get a job by making education more accessible and by creating job skills development and work opportunities.
    It would help more families find a safe place to call home thanks to new investments in affordable housing. It would lift nearly 100,000 people out of poverty with the proposed changes to the Canada workers benefit by expanding eligibility and, for the first time, providing substantial support for full-time minimum wage workers. As well, this budget proposes to create the new Canada recovery hiring program, which would allow businesses hard hit by the pandemic to hire the workers they need during the economic recovery. It would also accelerate access to high-speed Internet in rural and remote communities, but it would not stop there.
    Advancing a national action plan to end gender-based violence would give survivors reliable and timely access to protection and services. Addressing the gap in health outcomes faced by first nations, Inuit and Métis people through a broader approach to health and well-being would lead to healthier, safer and more prosperous indigenous communities.

  (1210)  

[Translation]

    We have also committed to promoting both our official languages thanks to historic investments aimed at supporting the vitality of official language minority communities and fostering bilingualism in Canada.
    Budget 2021 earmarks more than $390 million for this initiative, including $8.7 million for the modernization of the Official Languages Act. Moreover, our enhancement of the women entrepreneurship strategy will give businesswomen greater access to financing, mentoring and training activities.
    The budget will also enhance diversity in business governance. In short, economic growth is important, but we also need to measure our qualitative progress to be able to develop the appropriate policies. In this regard, I would like to point out that quality of life is already a criterion for government decision-making, and it will continue to guide our efforts to improve Canadians’ quality of life.

[English]

    Budget 2021 is truly a recovery plan for jobs, growth and resilience. For jobs, this budget would create half a million new training and work experience opportunities for Canadians. For growth, the investments in early learning and child care, small businesses, students, innovation, housing and the green economy would lead to a growth that benefits everyone. As for resilience, after more than a year of battling COVID-19 day in and day out, I think we can all say that Canadians are resilient.
    Budget 2021 would strengthen that resilience by supporting those who are under-represented in the economy, fighting climate change, building on innovation and moving forward with reconciliation with indigenous peoples. It is time to finish the fight against COVID and to invest in a better, fairer, greener, more prosperous and more innovative Canada.

[Translation]

    Canadians have been battered by COVID-19, but we will overcome the pandemic. In fact, not only will we overcome the pandemic, we will rebuild a more prosperous country and economy for all Canadians.
    The 2021 budget contains measures to heal the wounds left by the pandemic and to help Canada bounce back and become even more prosperous, both for us and for the generations to come.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I greeted the presentation yesterday with both skepticism and concern. My question will focus around the skepticism and hopefully later I can talk about the concerns.
    The Liberal government has promised democratic reform. For over 29 years it promised child care. For over 24 years it promised a pharmacy plan. It made fiscal commitments prior to the pandemic. It promised to end boil water advisories on reserves and introduce an action plan for missing and murdered indigenous women and girls.
     In his mandate letter to the finance minister, the Prime Minister stated that there will be no new fiscal programs, and he asked the minister to create a new fiscal anchor. If the mandate letter from the Prime Minister to the finance minister means nothing, and the government has such a history of breaking almost every important promise it has made to Canadians, why should we greet this particular document with anything other than skepticism?
    Mr. Speaker, we have realized many things in the five years since we have formed government. We have ended many boil advisories. Yes, we still have some to get to, but we have dedicated this budget to continuing the work we have been doing to help with that initiative and the many more we have been working on.
     We will continue to fight the pandemic, as well as support Canadian families, businesses and workers to ensure a bridge toward recovery. This is what we are presenting, a budget that has Canadians' backs. We have a plan for that.

  (1215)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, you would really have to live on Mars not to notice that there is currently a housing crisis in Quebec and Canada.
    The government is relaunching the rapid housing initiative, which is not a bad program. Last fall, they announced $1 billion in funding. Unfortunately, Quebecers who submitted projects under the first billion-dollar program have not even heard back from the government.
    The budget proposes investing $1.5 billion, which is not bad in itself. However, under the first program, the government received applications for more than $4 billion. Clearly, there is a demand for this type of program but, once again, the government is merely tossing a few coins around.
    I think it is time to have a real national housing strategy in Quebec and Canada to deal with the problem. We should keep in mind that housing is one of the main indicators of extreme poverty.
    When will the government implement a real national housing strategy to deal with poverty in Quebec and Canada?
    Mr. Speaker, we implemented the national housing strategy in 2017, and it changed things for many communities across Canada.
    A few months ago, we implemented the rapid housing initiative, and many regions of Quebec will be able to benefit from it. The program changes things in communities, and it has even exceeded expectations. Our target was approximately 3,500 units. As I said in my statement, we were able to rapidly create 4,700 units across the country. There are four projects under way in my community, two of them in my riding.
    We found that the program was effective. In the pre-budget consultations, the communities asked that we continue the program, because many of the initiatives had still not been financed.
    The government intends to invest $1.5 billion in rapid housing, since demand for units is high. We will therefore be able to help people find housing more quickly.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I know the minister devoted a bit of her speech to talking about the middle class, but I would like to centre my comments on the working class, specifically with regard to the precarious and part-time workers, those who are in retail, tourism, and arts and entertainment.
    The government has acknowledged that this pandemic has disproportionately affected women, young people and racialized Canadians, and many of those groups work in these industries. The government also recognizes that it may need to expand measures like the Canada recovery benefit beyond September, into November, recognizing that we are not out of the woods yet.
    Why did the government pick an arbitrary date in July to reduce the Canada recovery benefit by $200 a week? That is going to be an $800-a-month hit to precisely the same people the government has identified as having been disproportionately affected by this pandemic. Why is it kicking these people when they are already down and have suffered so much? Why is it making these people pay for the pandemic, rather than the wealthy and well-connected?
    Mr. Speaker, I agree with the hon. member. We know that many groups were affected deeply with this crisis, and at the beginning we brought forward the CERB to help them get through the first wave. Then we adapted our programs to make sure the Canada recovery benefit can continue to support those low-wage workers, women, racialized and indigenous communities that need support. We will continue to support them as we go through this third wave.
    We are also including a lot of investments to support the sectors that have been really affected, such as tourism and hospitality. For example, over $500 million will be invested in the tourism sector. We have clearly listened to Canadians during the pre-budget consultations. We have looked at how people are affected, and we have been adapting our programs to make sure we continue to have Canadians' backs. That is what we will continue to do—

  (1220)  

    Questions and comments, the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the minister, whom I have the pleasure of serving in the capacity of her parliamentary secretary as well, for her leadership in particular on the consultation process in advance of this budget.
    One of the things I heard while taking part in that process of consultation was the importance of recognizing the disproportionate negative impact that COVID-19 has had on the economic well-being of women in the Canadian economy. Obviously, a marquee initiative outlined in the budget is a $30-billion investment to establish Canada's first nationwide early learning and child care system.
    I am curious if the minister can shed light not only on the value to supporting women and the cost savings this would have for families, but on the economic return we expect to see as a result of this investment, because it would allow more women to take part in the economy. I would be grateful if the minister could shed light on the economic value of this investment.
    Mr. Speaker, I also want to thank my hon. colleague for his hard work in getting this budget done and also for listening to Canadians, not only in the past months but in the last years, and making sure we focus on what we really need to do on the ground to bring forward those measures.
    The Canada early learning and child care initiative is a transformative one. We know this will be a transformative investment. We know it will bring women back to work. We know it will also give our children a better-quality education and get them started early.
    As a mother of three, I went through the challenges of not being able to have access to day care. I had to set up my own day care in my basement. We are going to be bringing forward, and working with provinces and territories to set up, an early learning and child care system that will help parents have better affordability. For 2026, we are looking at having a $10-a-day day care. That is going to make a big difference in putting money into families' pockets, so they are able to better sustain their homes and put food on the table, while making sure we can also grow the economy.
    It would create very good jobs. The care economy is something we really need to focus on. Experts have shared it, and many parliamentarians have had debates in the House about this, and we should all be working together to make sure the care economy is—
    We will have to leave it there. The time has expired for this segment.
    Resuming debate, the hon. member for Kildonan—St. Paul.
    Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Mégantic—L'Érable.
    Yesterday, the federal Liberal government tabled its first budget in over two years, which happens to be the longest period of time our country has been without a budget in Canadian history. It was the first budget in a crisis so vast in scale that the last time we faced a crisis of this magnitude was the Second World War. That was the last time Canada was at this level of financial burden. This was also my first budget as a member of Parliament.
    All things considered, the pressure was on for the Liberal government to get this right and deliver a real plan to secure Canada, to get us out of this crisis and to recover our economy. I listened very intently to the budget speech yesterday, hoping to hear something that would give me and the people of my generation the confidence that the Canada of tomorrow will be better than the Canada of today. However, I regret to say that, following the Deputy Prime Minister's speech, I did not feel that confidence.
    As Canada braces for the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, I have spent a significant amount of time, as we all have, reflecting on what is at stake. The crisis we face in this country and around the world—the uncertainty of the future, the uncharted waters and the millions of deaths and economic casualties—feels at times unsurmountable. Every week, I spend a morning calling my constituents, and I can confidently and sadly say that the anxiety, the fear and the worry are palpable.
    Confidence in the future is not a common commodity among the people right now, and it is really no wonder. Tens of thousands of small businesses have closed, as we know, each one representing a Canadian family that put its heart and soul, years of sacrifice and work into its business, which contributed to the cultural landscapes of our communities. Millions more Canadians depended on these businesses for employment to put food on their tables and to live their lives, and now these opportunities are gone. It is predicted that 220,000 businesses may close before this is all over, which may impact another three million jobs.
     What is frustrating is that not all countries in the world are facing a third wave as we are here in Canada. The United States seems to be well on the road to recovery. It is the same thing with the United Kingdom, which is holding fast to its plan to fully reopen in two months. So, why is this not the case in Canada? This is really what I do not quite understand. Why is it that the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic is now raging in Canada's four largest provinces, with Ontario entering a six-week stay-at-home order and closing schools indefinitely to try to stem the exponential growth of this virus? Manitoba just announced further restrictions as well.
    If we listen to the Liberal government, it is trying to pin the blame for this third wave on the provinces. Yet, if nearly every province is facing this third wave and if other countries are managing to do better, perhaps the fault lies with the lack of national leadership, with our Prime Minister and his Liberal government.
    Canada has more deaths of people over 85 years of age than do our American counterparts, and we now exceed the U.S. in new per capita cases. The U.S. has provided its citizens with over 250 million vaccines, and in Canada we have had less than 10 million. It is really shocking how far apart we are from our neighbours to the south and across the pond. Just last week, the Prime Minister stood in this House and repeated this bizarre misinformation that the U.K. was in the midst of a third wave, when in fact the U.K.'s daily COVID infection rates are a quarter of Canada's daily total, despite having double our population.
     It seems that countries that more successfully procured vaccines have been able to prevent the level of death, hospitalizations and economic closures that Canada is now experiencing. Canadians are paying the price for Liberal mismanagement of the pandemic. This third wave is the Prime Minister's third wave, and he has left Canadians unprotected and not secure.
    If the third wave was not enough for Canadians to deal with, now we have a budget from the Liberal government that does little to get us out of this pandemic. In fact, there seems to be very little in the budget overall that can make Canadians feel secure in the future and feel that it is going to get better. There did not seem to be a coherent, thoughtful, strategic or innovative plan for recovery in this budget, and I do believe Canadians were really hoping to see something like this. I think they were hoping to wake up in the morning and see headlines like “Finally a Plan”, yet that was not the case.
    We now know that the deficit for this past difficult year is $354 billion, and next year it is projected to be $154 billion. Further, the budget predicts that our federal debt will grow to $1.4 trillion by 2026, which is double what it was before the pandemic, which means that the debt that was created in 150 years was doubled in a few short years.

  (1225)  

    The Minister of Finance continues to tell us that it is all good and we can afford this because interest rates are low. However, Jack Mintz, professor at the University of Calgary's school of public policy, has said:
    It’s kind of like rolling the dice.... We are hoping that this huge amount of stimulus won’t impact inflation and interest rates even within the next five years or beyond.
    Therefore, we are hoping, but there really is no guarantee. The Liberals are just guessing and hoping that this tremendous gamble, gambling the future of Canada, will all work out and everything will be just fine. However, we know from six years of Liberal government that the Liberals do not keep their promises to Canadians. Despite promising in 2015 that they would run only three modest deficits of $10 billion, which we all remember, the Liberals spent over $100 billion in deficits in their first four years. They justified this by promising it would create amazing economic growth, yet Canadians experienced sluggish economic growth during the Liberals' first term. As the Conservatives warned before the pandemic crisis, spending $100 billion of debt with little economic growth was foolish and selfish and left us more financially vulnerable when and if a crisis hit Canada; and then it did hit Canada.
    The truth is that the overwhelming majority of members who rise to speak to this budget will not have to deal with the long-term or even medium-term consequences of this type of spending and this mismanagement. It is my generation that will be on the hook for this bill. As it now stands, we are the first generation since World War II to inherit a worse economy from our parents. Millennials are dealing with a decimated job market, soaring housing costs, increased debt and a dim economic future with what seems to be no end in sight, and the situation has only intensified after six years of the Liberal government. The last time, the Liberal deficits did not work to create economic growth, so why should the Canadian people trust that this time it will be different, that all the spending announced yesterday will deliver better results? I am not buying it.
    Despite all of this, all these deaths and all these closures, the loss of freedoms for well over a year, the fear, the anxiety, the worry and the incomprehensible spending and debt burden for future generations, what has been the tone from the Liberal government? How has it really been viewing this crisis? From last week's Liberal Party convention, we know how the Deputy Prime Minister sees this crisis: “COVID has created a window of political opportunity”. She said that.
    Then, when the Prime Minister was asked last week if he would do anything differently to avoid the devastation of the third wave, he simply replied that he had no regrets and would not change a thing. This is not leadership. This is political opportunism and a Liberal Prime Minister who fails to grasp the severity of his failures.
    People wonder if perhaps the Liberal government does not take the time to speak to isolated seniors or out-of-work newcomers or devastated small business owners to truly try to understand what the past 13 months have done to people in Canada. I feel that if it had, it would never have made these offensive and insensitive comments. These comments do not make Canadians feel secure that the Liberal government knows what it is doing.
    To conclude, I will share, yet again, what I am hearing on the ground in my own riding, where I have spoken to many parents who tell me their little children are depressed and do not want to eat. I have had elderly women being very emotional with me on the phone, saying they do not want to spend the last few months or years that they have on this earth locked in their apartments away from their grandkids. I have had grown men cry to me on the phone as they have watched their life's work, their small business, go up in flames.
    The most frustrating part for everyone is that there is nothing they can do about it. They cannot force the Liberal government to care or to show competency or to prevent the third wave. They cannot go back in time and stop the Liberals from wasting a hundred days betting on a Chinese company to produce vaccines for Canada, only to be embarrassed and dismissed by the Communist Party of China, putting Canadians three months behind other countries for viable vaccines. They cannot go back and force the Liberals to heed the Conservatives' advice to close the borders when we first learned of this mysterious virus wreaking havoc on China, and later Italy.
     That is our job as parliamentarians, to hold the Liberal Prime Minister to account. I, along with my Conservative colleagues, have been standing virtually in this House for months, over a year, pleading, asking, demanding that the Liberals show leadership, put forward an innovative, strategic plan and take care of our country's finances so they do not bankrupt Canadians and bring on a second Great Depression. I wish Canada's Prime Minister would acknowledge the impact of his decisions and lead with humility, given the enormous toll his mistakes have had on Canadians, and bring forward a real plan to get us out of this.
    I will close by saying that I am proud of the resilience and the strength of the people of Kildonan—St. Paul. I am thankful for their prayers, their kindness and their support. That support gives me strength to keep going in the tough days. It is my duty to represent them, and I will continue to faithfully fight these battles on their behalf and fulfill my duty as their member of Parliament.

  (1230)  

    Mr. Speaker, it is disappointing to listen to Conservatives spin or provide misinformation. The government from day one, whether with the Canada emergency wage subsidy, emergency rent subsidy, emergency business account, credit availability program, CERB program, or direct support for seniors and people with disabilities and so much more, has been there for Canadians in a very real and tangible way over the last 12 months plus. We will have over 40 million doses of vaccines before the end of June.
    Can the member tell the House if she believes that it was the federal government's fault that Manitoba was leading during the second wave back in November? We need to recognize that we have a federation and provinces do have a role to play. The federal government has been there in a tangible way. Has it been perfect? No, but we have made the changes and the modifications. This budget embodies a way in which we can build back better. That is what Canadians want: strong leadership. They are at least getting it from one political entity inside this chamber, the best I can tell, based on the speeches I have been hearing.
    I wonder if the member might want to reflect on some of her comments and recognize the many good visionary things—

  (1235)  

    The hon. member for Kildonan—St. Paul.
    Mr. Speaker, it is disappointing that the member, again, like many of his colleagues, has yet to show humility for the shortcomings of his Liberal government. In the speech I gave I was trying to be very honest and earnest about what I have heard.
    I do stand firm on the position that if the Prime Minister had provided real leadership we would not be in a third wave of the pandemic, experiencing hundreds more deaths and thousands more business closures. That is on the Prime Minister.
    Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate the hon. member on her speech. She noted that this is her first budget, which is a big thing, and there are lots of big numbers showing up in it.
    Throughout the pandemic—
    I am just going to interrupt the hon. member.

[Translation]

    The hon. member for Drummond on a point of order.
    Mr. Speaker, I do not think the member has the equipment needed to speak because he does not have his headset on.

[English]

    I can see that the hon. member for St. John's East has switched his audio device. We will just ask him to start again with his question to make sure that we have the audio functioning properly.

[Translation]

    I thank the hon. member for Drummond for his comments.

[English]

    The hon. member.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for reminding me of that. It is important for the interpreters.
    I want to congratulate the hon. member on her speech. She mentioned at the beginning that this is her first budget. The numbers are huge, as we all know, and the Conservatives, throughout the pandemic, have been expressing concerns about the enormous amount of money being spent.
    I just want to ask the member whether she thinks there ought to be a little bit more fairness as to who will actually pay for the cost of this pandemic. We have been talking about the necessity for a wealth tax and the fact that during this pandemic billionaires have earned billions more money. Would she and her colleagues support a fair share of the cost of this being paid for by the ultra wealthy?
    Mr. Speaker, the people who we should ask whether it is fair for them to pay for this are the members of my generation. The millennial generation and their children are going to be the ones burdening the tax increases that will surely come to pay for this. We know that inflation is coming. We know that higher interest rates are coming and, yet, the Liberal government before the pandemic was setting us up for failure, should a crisis hit.
    As I mentioned in my speech, we were left with low defences because of the amount of money that was spent before. Now with this unbelievable amount of spending, we have doubled Canadian debt. It took 150 years to acquire that debt and we have doubled that in now, what, two years? It is unbelievable, so I think the unfairness lies with future generations who are going to have to pay for this.
    There has been zero acknowledgement from the Liberal government of the debt burden it is putting on future generations and the severe consequences that may have on the public services provided by the Canadian taxpayer from the federal government.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to hear what my colleague from Kildonan—St. Paul thinks about the things that were not in the budget and about the fact that the provincial governments and the Quebec government are once again being left with an underfunded health care system, because the federal share is dwindling year after year and the Liberal government refuses to increase health care transfers.
    There is also the matter of regional media. I am sure that there are regional media outlets in her riding that are having a hard time because of the crisis. I would like her to share her comments on these things that the budget failed to include.

  (1240)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, there are a number of things not in this budget, like a plan for how we are going to get out of this and a real, strategic, innovative, thoughtful plan of how we are going to get our economy back to normal to make sure the days of tomorrow are better than the days of today.
    On the health care transfers, the Conservatives have been very clear. We know that the health care burden on the provinces is incredible and we believe that provinces should have more autonomy to spend health care dollars how they see fit in their regions. We know no two regions are the same.
    What is interesting is that the Liberal government will say that vaccine distribution is a provincial jurisdiction, this is provincial jurisdiction, that is the province's jurisdiction, so it is not the government's fault, it is the provinces' fault, and yet when it comes to something like the child care announcement, which is clearly in provincial jurisdiction, that is not a problem to the Liberals. They are happy to spend billions of dollars in the provincial jurisdiction when it suits their electoral fortunes.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I want to begin by commending my colleague from Kildonan—St. Paul for her excellent speech. She did a great job of identifying the positive and negative aspects of the budget speech that was given yesterday by the Minister of Finance.
    I also want to commend the Minister of Finance on her first budget. Yesterday was a historic moment in the House of Commons. The minister was the first woman to ever present a budget speech. I think that is worth pointing out and celebrating.
    Obviously, I am not going to spend 10 minutes singing the praises of the finance minister, but I do want to quote her. She said before that the budget she was going to present would be the most significant of our lifetime. She was not wrong. This budget will go down in Canadian history as the highest-spending budget ever.
    The Minister of Finance made sure of it by presenting a budget containing spending measures beyond belief. Everyone in the Liberal Party of Canada's voting base who had a request got a little something in the budget. Of course, there was $100 billion to spread around. The Liberal government was handing out money like drinks at an open bar. Some people must be sorry they did not ask for anything, because they probably would have gotten it.
    That being said, the Canadian provinces made requests, but they were ignored. We would have expected a budget announcing the end of the pandemic to focus on bolstering the fight against the pandemic and making sure we never find ourselves in this situation again.
    Unfortunately, the Liberal government did not say a word about health transfers. There are not even any plans for that. The budget makes mention of many plans, but none of them have anything to do with health transfers to the provinces. What the Liberal government presented yesterday was an election budget.
    It is clearly a red-ink budget. It was probably drafted at a time when the Prime Minister was thinking about triggering an early election because he has a minority government. Unfortunately, since he was unable to procure enough vaccines for Canadians, a third wave hit. We will have a lot of vaccines by the fall, but when we needed them, when it was important for all Canadians to be vaccinated, there were none. That is why there was a third wave of COVID-19, because the Prime Minister and his government were unable to anticipate our vaccine needs and failed to negotiate at the right time.
    We have been given something halfway between a pre-election budget and a pandemic budget, and we clearly saw that choices had been made. We approve of some of the measures. In fact, some of the measures announced yesterday are worth mentioning. They are actually measures that we asked for. They are measures that were needed, like extending the emergency programs to help Canadians and businesses. In my opinion, given the situation Canada is currently in, it was obvious that the government needed to maintain them.
    One would have expected the budget to provide a little hope and give some indication of what will happen after all Canadians have been vaccinated later this year. Unfortunately, this budget has just a smattering of the measures that Canadians have been calling for over the past few weeks and months. More than anything, it is a Liberal pre-election platform.
    Were it not for the pandemic, not even this Liberal government would have dared to present this kind of agenda. The pandemic was the perfect excuse to come up with a pre-election budget. The ultimate proof is the $500 that will be sent to seniors aged 75 and over in August, which is most likely the best window for calling the election.

  (1245)  

    I am not the only one saying so. All political commentators are confirming what I am saying here this morning.
    My office received many telephone calls this morning. Everyone is asking why that money is going only to people aged 75 and over, and why the Liberal government is ignoring those aged 65 to 75 in this budget. People are wondering what they did to be left out of that measure, because they have the same needs. Sometimes their needs are even greater, since they tend to be active and want to participate in the economy. Unfortunately, we have not gotten an answer.
    We asked for clear and specific action to be taken to help Canadians and stimulate the economy. Our leader, Erin O'Toole, has presented an economic recovery plan.
    Mr. Speaker, I apologize for naming one of my colleagues in the House.
    The opposition leader called for clear, targeted, temporary measures to stimulate our economy. Unfortunately, what the budget actually contains is an assortment of superficial measures lacking a clear, precise, concrete objective. We asked the government for measures to stimulate our economy. We agreed on the principle. Unfortunately, that is not what we got.
    Economic stimulus means having job creation targets and a plan to end public spending and get out of the recession. What the government presented yesterday contains none of that.
    Commenting on this government and the idea of balancing the budget, pundit Bernard Drainville said this morning that it is as though this government takes special pride in not balancing the budget. That concept scares Liberals.
    We all remember the Liberals' 2015 promise about running small deficits and balancing the budget by the end of their term. Not only did that not happen, but we also ended up with a $100-billion deficit before the pandemic even hit.
    Today the government is announcing a $354-billion deficit for last year and more than $150 billion for this year. Deficits will continue to pile up like that to the point that we will have to start a using a new word when talking about public finances. That word is “trillion”, and that is how big Canada's deficit will soon be. Canadians will be $1 trillion in debt. This budget adds half a trillion dollars to the debt. We have to take these things very seriously and think of future generations.
    I would like to talk about the national child care service. My wife is an early childhood educator. Yesterday, the government made a big deal about this announcement to impose a single Canada-wide child care system on the provinces. In its budget, it has allocated $30 billion to create this system. It did not mention that part of that amount will be paid directly to Quebec, which established this system many years ago.
    Had this been an economic recovery measure, we might have understood. However, I know and respect the work of Quebec's early childhood educators, and I know that they must have a minimum of three years of training, and it also takes time to build and upgrade these buildings. Do the Liberals honestly believe they can deliver what they have put in the budget and that it will contribute to our post-pandemic economic recovery?
    It is quite simply impossible. It is not an economic recovery measure. The Liberals are making a promise that they may not be able to keep, because there will be an election in the meantime. Once again, we have become accustomed to the Liberals making announcements and not keeping their promises.
    In closing, I want to mention something else that is conspicuously absent from the budget: compensation for supply-managed dairy farmers under the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement. Despite all the billions of dollars it dished out yesterday, the government was unable to keep its promise to fully compensate supply-managed farmers for their losses. We certainly must take note. The government probably thought that group had already received enough in the past and did not need any goodies before the next election.
    That is what I dislike about this budget. The government is trying to please so many people without thinking about the future. The 724 pages that were presented to us yesterday tell us that the future is not important to the Liberals.

  (1250)  

    Mr. Speaker, I would like my colleague's thoughts on two things in particular.
    First, how does he square the federal government's penchant for centralization with its refusal to increase health transfers? Every year, Quebec sends half of its taxes to the federal government. Cuts were made—
    Order. I must interrupt the hon. member to ask him to wear his headset and repeat his question for the hon. member for Mégantic—L’Érable.
     Mr. Speaker, first, how does the member square the Liberal government's penchant for centralizing decision-making, even on matters of provincial jurisdiction, with its refusal to increase health transfers? In the 1960s and 1970s, the federal government funded 50% of health care expenditures. Today, it funds just 22%, and health care systems like Quebec's are always at breaking point as a result of this chronic underfunding. Why does the Liberal government keep refusing to restore health transfers while trying to impose standards on the Government of Quebec and the provinces?
    Second, we know that seniors have suffered the most during this pandemic. It is bordering on insulting to offer a paltry $500 to seniors over the age of 75. Why not increase pensions? The Bloc Québécois is calling for old age security to be increased by $110 a month. Seniors built Quebec and Canada. They should be able to live decently and maintain their purchasing power.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from La Pointe-de-l’Île for his questions. It is not very often that we agree on all of the points he mentioned.
    To answer his question, it is in the Liberals' DNA to want to centralize and to preach to the provinces. It is therefore clear that they were not going to use an election budget to meet the legitimate demands of the provinces.
    With regard to health care for seniors, what stood out to me is the fact that the Liberal government allocated $3 billion in the budget for measures affecting Quebec's long-term care facilities. However, this morning, the Quebec finance minister described that amount as a pittance, since it will have no impact over the next five years. What is more, the federal government wants to impose national standards in Quebec's long-term care facilities.
    It is in the Liberals' DNA to want to impose their solutions and their views on the provinces. There is a well-known expression that says, “Ottawa knows best”, which, in this case, can be interpreted as, “the Liberals think they know best”.

  (1255)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, one thing that is really important for people to understand is how fundamentally different the economy of northern Ontario is from the rest of Ontario. We are resource-based and we are isolated. The resources that are created in the north go to Queen's Park or they go to Ottawa, and we have to go cap-in-hand and beg for programs to maintain some kind of balance.
    I noticed one thing in the budget that is really important for people to recognize. The New Democrats have been pushing for FedNor to be a stand-alone agency for years, something the Conservatives refused to do. The Liberals have ridiculed it up until now and we have seen nothing from its northern members to defend northern Ontario. The Liberal government has finally realized that the New Democrats are right and has established FedNor as a stand-alone agency. It will be in the same category as all the other economic development agencies in the country.
    Up until now, northern Ontario has been the poor, underfunded cousin. It is really important for the House to recognize that northern Ontario has a right to proper economic development and FedNor, as a stand-alone agency, will make a huge difference for our region.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, as I said, the Conservative Party wanted the government to include specific measures in the budget in order to help every region of the country to grow.
    As long as FedNor has the tools it needs to restart the economy and make sure that those who lost their jobs are rehired, then I think that time will tell whether creating FedNor was the right decision.
    Is that the ultimate solution to all of northern Ontario's problems? I do not think so, but if it is a possible solution, then I do not see why we should not examine it.
    Still, I hope that this was not just more lip service from the Liberals to try to win over people from northern Ontario, because it is going to take a long time before the budget is passed, not to mention that there is also the risk of an election.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, yesterday in her speech, the Minister of Finance basically said it would be irresponsible not to borrow hundreds of millions of dollars because interest rates were so low, completely ignoring the fact that interest rates will inevitably rise.
     Does the member think the budget should have had a plan to account for future interest rate increases in its expenditures for it to be a responsible fiscal plan?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, of course there should have been a plan. There is no plan for economic recovery, and there is no plan to control spending. This is a budget without a plan.
    Just beneath the surface though is the Liberal Party's re-election plan, and that is a shame. The Liberal Party and the government put their own interests before the interests of our generation and future generations.
    Half a trillion dollars in debt is being added to Canada's total deficit, and that will take years or decades to pay back. Canadians will have to pay that back for generations.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, we are at a pivotal moment in the history of our nation. How we respond as we continue to fight COVID-19, and as we plan to emerge from the crisis that it has created from both a public health and economic point of view, will dictate what Canada looks like not just next month or next year, but 10 years and 20 years from now, when my five-year-old daughter is ready to join the workforce.
    As we embark upon this debate, I would impress upon my colleagues the importance of focusing on the tasks at hand, which are defeating COVID-19, creating jobs and growth opportunities as we emerge from this pandemic, and setting the stage for a recovery that is both inclusive and sustainable.
    Before I go further, I would like to inform the Speaker that I intend to split my time with the hon. member for Newmarket—Aurora at the 10-minute mark.
    Those three categories that I have outlined, the continued public health response, the need to create jobs and growth and the need to set the stage for a sustainable and inclusive recovery, are precisely what this budget endeavours to do. Over the course of my remarks I will spend a moment on each of those particular items.
    When it comes to the public health response, though the conditions here in my home province of Nova Scotia are quite good compared with just about anywhere in the world, I recognize the same is not true for many different parts of Canada. In order to continue the public health response that we have started over the course of this pandemic, our government proposes putting forward several very serious measures backed by spending commitments. In particular, in the budget I note our commitment to invest $4 billion to strengthen public health care systems in provinces across Canada.
    I have spoken to community members who have had appointments delayed and who have been dealing with certain services simply not being available as the public health care system has pivoted to deal with the influx of COVID-19 cases. In the early days of this pandemic I remember wondering whether someone in a car accident would have a place to go, if the case loads got too high in our local hospitals. This injection of billions of dollars into provincial health care systems would help alleviate those strains and let our front-line health care workers have the tools they needed to do their jobs and keep us safe.
    When it comes to vaccination, Canada is currently third in the G7 in terms of the number of residents who have had access to a first dose, but we know that we need to continue to do more. Budget 2021 proposes to inject an additional billion dollars to help provincial governments administer vaccines as they arrive.
    One of the national tragedies we have witnessed over the course of this pandemic is what has taken place in our long-term care facilities. Here in Nova Scotia the vast majority of deaths we have seen as a result of COVID-19 have come from a single long-term care facility: Northwood in Halifax. We need to make the kinds of investments today that will ensure this tragedy does not repeat itself and that will provide an enhanced quality of life, so that our elderly, when they move to long-term care facilities, can count on living a dignified experience. While there are good facilities all across Canada, we have seen some horror stories emerge from this pandemic. That is why this budget's investment of $3 billion to strengthen long-term care facilities across Canada and our work to establish national standards are so important.
    One of the chief concerns I have heard from residents of my own community, both over the course of this pandemic and before COVID-19, is the importance of mental health. Through the pandemic we have advanced measures that would see increased investments in telehealth opportunities and would ensure folks could tune into the Wellness Together portal online. However, we know that is insufficient, particularly for people who need the support of a medical practitioner face to face.
    Members will note that budget 2021 includes a commitment to work with provinces and territories to establish national standards on mental health as well. This is backed by funding that would allow the process to actually take place and achieve meaningful progress in the mental health portfolio. However, this pandemic was not just a crisis of public health: It was also an economic crisis that we continue to experience, and we have advanced record measures to support Canadian households and businesses so that families could keep food on the table and businesses could keep workers on the payroll. I am so pleased to share with businesses in my own community that we are going to be extending the emergency benefits, which they have come to rely on to get them through this very difficult time, until it is safe for their customers to return at full scale.

  (1300)  

    The Canada emergency wage subsidy has now kept more than five million Canadian workers on the payroll. The Canada emergency rent subsidy has let hundreds of thousands of businesses keep their doors open at a time when it would have been very difficult to do so otherwise. However, it is not enough to support businesses through this pandemic. We have to set the stage for jobs and growth so we can accelerate out of this pandemic and get back to where we would have been had the pandemic not shocked our economy so badly.
    That is why I am thrilled to see the kinds of investments that are included in this budget, including hiring incentives for businesses and supports that will help small businesses and medium-sized enterprises in particular adopt an online strategy so they can participate in the digital economy. We see record investments in skills development, particularly for young people, new investments that will spur entrepreneurship, investments to remove internal trade barriers and investments in the kind of infrastructure that will create growth for the long term. It is that growth that will allow us to escape this pandemic and ensure that we can afford the measures we are putting in place today.
    Colleagues in the House who have known me for some time will know that I have been a passionate advocate for our environment from the time I was young. In fact, the very first time I was involved in politics was when I was seven years old and signed up to be the vice-president of the environment club at my elementary school. I have literally been an advocate for a clean environment since then. Of course, I had the chance to serve as the parliamentary secretary to the minister of the environment and climate change in the previous Parliament and I am proud of many of the measures that we introduced.
    When I look at the measures that are backed by serious funding commitments in this budget, I see the opportunity to take advantage of clean growth opportunities in the global economy, and to promote opportunities in my own community in the green economy. I see that we are not only going to invest over $8 billion to reduce industrial emissions, but we are also going to let homeowners take advantage of hundreds of thousands of opportunities for home energy retrofits. There are massive investments to develop clean technology and expand zero-emissions vehicle infrastructure and manufacturing opportunities right here in Canada. I see opportunities for us to make investments that will mitigate the consequences of severe weather events, whether forest fires in the west, floods throughout the country or hurricanes on the east coast. I see the single-largest investment to protect nature in the history of Canada included in this budget, and I am very proud to support it.
     It is not enough that our budget is sustainable from an environmental point of view: It also needs to be inclusive to ensure that everyone is able to take part in the economic recovery. I note in particular the support for women in the economy in this budget, including the marquee policy of Canada's first early learning and national child care strategy. This is a policy that will be a legacy piece for this government, and 30 years from now I am confident that families will look back and say that this was the right thing. We know that although it may be expensive to advance this particular policy, the impact it is going to have of allowing more women to take part in the economy will more than pay for itself. It will save phenomenal amounts of money for families of young children and will allow families not only to have that extra cash on hand but, as I have mentioned, allow the secondary earner, who is more often than not a woman in the household, to take part in economic opportunities that she may not have had access to in the absence of an investment of this nature.
    I see the significant investment of billions of dollars to support young people and make education more affordable. I see opportunities for job placements and hiring incentives specific to young people in this budget. I look at supports for low-income workers and precarious workers, such as the $8.9 billion investment in the Canada workers benefit. It will ensure that someone who works full-time in a minimum wage job will not live in poverty in Canada. I see new protections for workers in the gig economy and I see an expansion of the EI sickness benefit to 26 weeks, which is very important to me at home. I want to thank in particular Kathy MacNaughton, who raised this with me in 2016 and has been working alongside me to see this done. People should not be better off to get fired than to get cancer in the 21st century in Canada.
    There are additional supports for Black Canadians. There are additional supports for indigenous Canadians. There are additional supports for the LGBTQ2 community. We will do whatever it takes, for as long as it takes, to see Canadians through this pandemic, but this budget also sets the course for jobs and growth that will allow us to rebound out of this recession more strongly. It will ensure that everyone, no matter their background, no matter their age and no matter their level of income, is able to have a fair shot at taking part in the economic recovery. This is the Canada that I want to build, and this budget lays the framework to achieve these outcomes.

  (1305)  

    Mr. Speaker, I noticed when the budget was presented that revenue was not indicated in this budget as coming from tax increases. I believe the expectation of the government is that the programs it is implementing are going to stimulate the economy, and that growth is where the funding is going to come from to pay for what it is doing. However, as the member mentioned, child care is its big budget item, with the biggest payoff, but that child care program will take years to implement and, in the meantime, interest rates can go up and all kinds of other things can happen.
    I want to quote Amanda Lang, whose views on the budget I really appreciate. She said on Power Play, “I will say this, Evan, and this is kind of like one of those more boring line items, but it is important especially for resource industry companies, and that is there is a form of a corporate tax increase in this budget that the Liberals have talked about for a while. It is a reduction on dividend interest deductions allowable. It is super boring sounding, but I will tell you this: It could hurt oil and gas companies disproportionately and at a time when they can least afford it."
    Our oil and gas industry is part of the future. It is part of the sector that will bring about the environmental changes that we want, yet this government continues to cause it the greatest duress. Why is that?

  (1310)  

    Mr. Speaker, there is a lot to unpack in that question. First and foremost, when it comes to the cost of our measures and the risk of interest rates going up, I would point out that there is a severe cost of not taking action and making the kinds of investments that we have made. In particular I would point to a recent IMF report, which indicated that in the absence of the government's pandemic response our deficit would have been roughly the same, but the economic scarring would have been enormous, limiting our opportunity to grow out of this recession.
    Regarding the energy sector, I will let the hon. member know that I spent about five years working in Calgary, Alberta, much of which was spent working in the energy sector. The reality is that we need to be implementing measures that transition to a clean economy, but we also know that we need to support workers, regardless of the industry in which they work. That is why we have extended record supports to the energy sector through things such as the Canada emergency wage subsidy and support for abandoned wells.
    I would be happy to carry on this important conversation with the member at her leisure.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I do want to applaud the fact that this is the first time a female minister has tabled a budget in Parliament, but I have to say that, in many ways, it is a very paternalistic budget. What I mean is that the federal government is taking a top-down approach, telling us what is good for us, and imposing national standards for long-term care homes and mental health. In addition, it plans to develop a national child care strategy. Given Quebec's experience in that area, I could go on and on.
    To truly meet the provinces' needs while respecting their jurisdiction over health care, can the government distinguish between temporary allocations and what provinces really need, which is recurring funding through Canadian health transfers?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for her question. I hope she does not mind if I reply in English.

[English]

    I disagree that this budget is paternalistic toward our provincial partners. In fact, when it comes to child care, full credit goes to the Province of Quebec for leading the way on this, years prior, to show that we could make these kinds of investments that would pay for themselves.
    On the establishment of national standards, the reality is that I am not okay with the quality of life that seniors who live in these facilities enjoy. With all of the investments that we are putting forward that impact areas of provincial jurisdiction, we are saying we will work with the provinces and territories to establish these standards. I am not okay with simply transferring money with absolutely no oversight of the outcome of how that money is spent.
    I am looking forward to continuing the conversations with our provincial counterparts so we can work on shared objectives and enhance the quality of life for our constituents.
    Mr. Speaker, I work with my colleague on the finance committee.
    In my riding, people are very concerned about the absence of universal pharmacare. I am thinking of Cole and his family. They pay $1,000 a month for heart medication and they struggle, like 10 million other Canadians, because they have no coverage for pharmacare.
    As we know, in 2019, the Liberals promised to bring in public, universal pharmacare, yet the budget has abandoned that promise. It is quite simple. I know the member's constituents are in the same situation as mine. Why did the government abandon its commitments around public, universal pharmacare in budget 2021?
    Mr. Speaker, there is no such abandonment of the commitment to national pharmacare in budget 2021. Although it may not be fully implemented in the document, the commitment made in the previous throne speech remains. The reality is that the budget actually flags specifically our intent to work with provinces and territories to advance national pharmacare.
     However, the allegation that there has been no action on this file rings hollow in the face of $500 million toward a rare disease strategy; in the face of changes to the regulations for patent medicines, which has reduced the cost of medications across Canada; and in the face of the commitment made in a previous budget, with funding allocated for the establishment of a Canada drug agency that would oversee a national formulary.
    I remain personally committed to a national pharmacare system that will take advantage of the systemic savings, of ensuring the federal government has a role in the procurement of these expensive medications, so families do not have to choose between paying their rent and paying for their medicine. It is time that we move forward with it, and I will continue to advocate for national pharmacare as long as I have the opportunity to serve in this capacity.

  (1315)  

    Mr. Speaker, I am speaking today from the traditional territories of the Wyandot, Haudenosaunee and the Anishinabe peoples and treaty land of the Williams Treaties First Nations.
    When I first entered the House of Commons to take my seat in the 43rd Parliament, I did so with enthusiasm, optimism and a strong desire to make a positive difference for the constituents of Newmarket—Aurora and for all the citizens of our great country.
    Today, after this historic and ambitious budget and despite the challenges we have faced during this pandemic, I am even more optimistic. I am energized by the opportunities ahead and mindful of the trust Canadians have given us.
    I want to congratulate the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance on this significant moment in Canadian history.
    COVID-19 has been one the great crises of our times; no nation has been immune. In my constituency of Newmarket—Aurora, we have shared in the suffering, the loss of life, the business closures, the uncertain future for our restaurants and the fears of going back to school.
     I want to acknowledge the remarkable courage, innovation and compassion of the people of Newmarket—Aurora and their willingness to unite for the common good. This is the foundation that we can build back on, and it is what the citizens of Canada expect.
    We all want an end to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the journey is not yet over. If we want to weather this storm and defeat this pandemic, our first priority must be to continue supporting Canadians and Canadian businesses in the short term while providing programs to aid our recovery.
    I am encouraged budget 2021, “A Recovery Plan for Jobs, Growth, and Resilience”, deals first with our current situation by extending the COVID-19 support programs that have provided a lifeline to Canadians during this difficult time. This provides flexible access to EI benefits until the fall of 2022, by allowing the Canada recovery benefit, a program for Canadians not covered by EI, to remain in place through to September 25. At the same time, the rent subsidy and the wage subsidy have been extended, with plans to wind them down as the recovery takes place.
    As I speak here today, over 12.7 million vaccine doses have been delivered to the provinces and territories and over 10.25 million Canadians have been vaccinated at least with one dose. We need to continue to vaccinate as quickly as possible, keeping Canadians safe while providing the financial and the human resources needed in areas highly impacted by COVID-19.
    Recover we will, and throughout this pandemic, Canadians have indicated a strong desire for the kind of change that will ensure a more prosperous future for all. We cannot betray ourselves and achieve anything less than a more inclusive future and a quality of life for all that is the envy of the world. Even more, we need to be a country of equality and equity built on respect and compassion, not only for our people but also for our environment.
    In the lead up to this budget, I have been connecting with residents and business owners on their ideas and suggestions for budget 2021. We have engaged through tele town halls and through Zoom calls with the Aurora and Newmarket chambers of commerce. Although there have been as many questions as there have been suggestions, I really appreciate the input and time from my constituents, ensuring their voices are heard, and they were heard, with remarkable clarity and inspiration.
    Let there be no question, jobs, good jobs for Canadians, have been at the forefront of this economic recovery. The news from Statistics Canada that 303,000 jobs were added in March is encouraging. What is more encouraging is the commitment in this budget to a promise made to create more than a million jobs by the end of this year, jobs that keep the hopes alive of a bright future, a sense of pride in contributing to the community, a feeling of independence and a belief that my country provides opportunity for all.
    Constituents of Newmarket—Aurora were clear in stating that job recovery was the most important indication of a recovery from this pandemic, along with the reopening of businesses, and the budget makes it clear our government agrees.

  (1320)  

    As we invest in our youngest citizens, we recognize that our future starts with ensuring a quality of life, care and an opportunity for everyone. Our government's commitment to child care and its promise to provide $10-per-day universal child care, complete with national standards within five years, will be the defining moment in Canadian history. This is an investment in our future, an investment in gender equality and an opportunity to unleash the potential of so many.
    Compassion is also key to our recovery, compassion for our elders in long-term care that ensures they can feel safe and cared for, and we owe them nothing less. Certainly, I have heard many times of the need for long-term care health standards, and I am heartened by the provision of $3 billion over five years to ensure that standards are applied.
     The commitment of old age security increases for those 75 years of age and older, the funding proposal for seniors who do not live in long-term care facilities and pledging $90 million over three years, starting in the next year, to Employment and Social Development Canada through the age well at home initiative will certainly provide assurances that elders in our society are both valued and cared for.
    Speaking of value and caring for our society, there is no doubt that climate change is the most pressing challenge for this generation and an opportunity to renew, invest and create a more promising future. Certainly, the provision of $17.6 billion to a green recovery and ensuring that our agreed upon 2030 climate targets are exceeded will accelerate innovation, opportunity and prospects for a brighter future.
     Our country, with its vast array of natural resources, has a remarkable opportunity for green leadership on this front, and I encourage us to seek a leadership position in this regard.
    I am proud to say that within my riding, I am fortunate to have a highly engaged and active youth council. At the beginning of the budget consultation process, these young leaders provided us with their thoughts on how this budget might reflect the goals of youth across Canada.
     In reviewing their pre-budget submission, I am struck by how this budget reflects so many of their recommendations, including investments in mental health; reducing student debt, both through grants and lowering interest rates on student loans; investments in renewable resources; and support for those most impacted by this pandemic. A highly engaged youth is paramount for building a prosperous Canada in the future, and I continue to be inspired by the young leaders of Newmarket—Aurora.
    I wish I could speak to all the investments in the budget, because there is so much to be proud of and so much work ahead of us to be done. This is a budget that would require federal and provincial governments to work together to build a Canada better prepared for any future pandemics, to seize opportunities for prosperity and to create a country capable of harnessing the strengths of its people and the resources for today and for the future. I promised my children and my grandchildren I would work for that, and I hope we all seize that opportunity.
    Mr. Speaker, a budget must do two things. It must be a short-term response as well as position a nation for the long term.
     The constituents from Aurora—Oak Ridges—Richmond Hill have consistently told me over the last six years that they are concerned about our taxes being universally unfair, our declining competitiveness, the drastic flight of foreign capital and regulatory frameworks that are affecting our ability to position ourselves at home and abroad. We are losing jobs to the U.S. and we cannot seem to get anything built. My constituents are worried that tomorrow will not be better than today.
    Could the hon. member comment on the key foundational changes in the budget to address those elements?

  (1325)  

    Mr. Speaker, while I indicated that there was a need for all levels of government to work together, to collaborate, that includes members opposite and all members of Parliament to focus on working together, as opposed to seeding doubt and unhappiness and challenging the opportunities that are presented in the budget. I look forward to having further conversations and being engaged in the discussions of the budget, which offers a ton of opportunities and good reasons to be optimistic, as opposed to always finding fault in what is not possible. What is possible is more important.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the pandemic has given rise to an initiative to help homeless people, including in my riding. This initiative has a high degree of acceptability, since it accepts everyone, without discrimination.
    Unfortunately, those responsible for the initiative have been really worried about the budget, because they were wondering whether their initiative would survive the pandemic. They received some money to get it off the ground, but they are wondering whether they will be able to continue.
    The budget included roughly $560 million for the reaching home program. Quebec is asking for $100 million a year to continue its efforts related to COVID-19.
    What do I tell the folks at La Halte du coin in Longueuil? Can they expect to get enough funding for their initiative to survive the pandemic?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, much of the speed in which the revenues will flow to the provinces will depend on how expeditious we are with the budget.
     If the member is asking what he should tell his constituents, I would tell him what our Prime Minister has been saying, which is that we have their backs for as long as it takes and for as much as it takes.
    Mr. Speaker, I just got a phone call from the 1997 Liberal election platform, and it is still wondering when its pharmacare promise will come to be. I had to go all the way to page 238 to see only a half-page reference to a universal national pharmacare system.
     How much longer will Canadians have to wait? The Liberals had an opportunity with their vote on Bill C-213 to set up a framework modelled on the Canada Health Act, but cynically voted against that opportunity. I am wondering how many more years Canadians will have to vote for this critical part of our health care system for it to be finally established.
    Mr. Speaker, I had an opportunity to vote on the bill that was referenced. While the principle is still there and held by this government, and there are activities under way to support pharmacare, there were provisions within the bill that were untenable, as they did not allow for collaboration with the provinces. The need to work with the provinces is a fundamental caveat. Had the opposition modified that bill, it might have been supported.
    Mr. Speaker, I am very tempted to pick up on the points made by the hon. member for Newmarket—Aurora on climate and point out how disappointed I am.
    However, I had a desperate email earlier today from one of the leading tourism attractions in this region, and indeed all of Canada, The Butchart Gardens. The owner is worried it is going to go under and is so disappointed. Where is the help for the tourism sector?
    Mr. Speaker, there has been some provision for the tourism sector, and there is a further provision as well. I really do not want to quote numbers because I do not have them directly in front of me, but there are some sections that are dedicated to the tourism sector.
     If I can help the member direct her constituents, I would be more than happy to do so.

  (1330)  

    Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to virtually rise on behalf of the great people of Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, who I am very proud to represent in this chamber. I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Edmonton Centre, who will, without a doubt, have an even better intervention than my own.
    When I first heard the finance minister's speech yesterday and had a chance to go through this budget, I thought I was having a déjà vu moment. The finance minister told us we must build, “a more resilient Canada: better, more fair, more prosperous and more innovative”. I thought to myself, well, wait a minute. Who has been governing this country for the past five years to have made Canada so unresilient, so unfair, so unprosperous and so lacking in innovation? That would be the Liberal government.
    After all, this is the Liberal government that announced nearly $1 billion in budget 2017 for superclusters. Do members remember when that was the in buzzword of the 2017 budget? It mentioned jobs, jobs and jobs, and innovation of course, which is what the Liberals promised us all at the time.
    The Liberals told us that spending, or pardon me, I meant investing, was supposed to create 50,000 jobs and boost the country's gross domestic product by $50 billion over a decade. In the end, we now know that the PBO found that the Liberal government could only account for roughly 14 jobs for every $1 million of combined federal and private funding. The minister responsible is now gone, and superclusters is a buzzword that is no longer in the current budget. In other words, it was a failure.
    Do members remember the promises for the Infrastructure Bank? The Liberal government told us that if we just kick in $35 billion, by the way drawn from money supposed to go to municipalities, we will attract private sector dollars at a ratio of $4 to $5 in private funding for every $1 in federal money. How did that go? It was a massive failure, like so many other Liberal-created budget buzzword programs.
    In 2016, the former finance minister Bill Morneau stood before this place and delivered a budget where he promised, “Our plan is reasonable and affordable. By the end of our first mandate, Canada's debt-to-GDP ratio will be lower than it is today.” That term ended long before this pandemic came along, and the Liberal government was not even close to honouring that commitment that it made to Canadians.
    Flash forward to the budget today and there is no longer any real fiscal anchor. Instead, we were told that because of today's environment of low interest rates, we can afford this spending. I am going to pause here for a moment to reflect a bit.
     Canada has long struggled in dealing with our housing markets. Jim Flaherty as finance minister wrestled with it. We had tightening mortgage rules, which is something the current government specifically did in its first mandate, and increasing the stress test on mortgages. Of course, we all witnessed what occurred in the United States. When people lost their jobs, when their local housing market crashed or when interest rates rose, many homeowners could no longer afford their mortgage payments and went into default, deepening the challenges.
    Here, in Canada, we say that someone needs to qualify for their mortgage at a higher rate of interest to ensure they can still make their mortgage payments when interest rates inevitably rise. The current and previous governments said at the time it was because of a larger, bigger interest. Many opposed it. Most said they would agree that it is prudent for a government to hedge against large or systemic risks. However, in the Liberal budget, we see no evidence of a prudent fiscal approach, hedge or otherwise.
    The Parliamentary Budget Office has warned us repeatedly that this ongoing level of spending is just not sustainable. The PBO has warned us that we are eliminating our capacity to respond to a future crisis. Does any member of this place doubt what the PBO is saying? Sure, interest rates are low right now, but where is the plan to deal with the rise in interest rates? There is not one. Is it a realistic expectation to build an economy on borrowed government spending? The PBO has warned us, yet the Liberal government ignores that advice.
    The reason I have raised programs from the previous iterations of the government, such as superclusters and the Infrastructure Bank, is not just to point out its record of failure, very expensive failures I might add, but to point out that when these programs fail, government does not take the time to audit these programs and determine why they failed. Instead of learning from failure, the government would rather quietly move onto the next buzzwords and announce a program.

  (1335)  

    The latest is $10-a-day day care, which is a program, I will point out, that the Liberals criticized heavily during the 2015 election campaign of Mr. Mulcair. The problem I see is that to make this happen, we need a serious and credible plan. One of the biggest challenges in child care right now, aside from the cost, is a critical shortage of early childhood educators, or ECEs. Without a serious plan to increase the number of ECEs, it is hard to see this day care announcement achieving what it is purportedly set out to achieve.
    Likewise, there is the challenge we face in seniors' care homes. Once again, we have a critical shortage of care aids. It is easy to throw money at the problem, as this budget proposes to do, but we need a serious plan for more long-term care aids. In my home community of Summerland, we have many issues with our local seniors' care home. Fortunately none are related to COVID, but many of the challenges come back to the inability to hire staff. This, of course, brings up another critically important subject, and that is health care.
    Health care is the most cherished, but also currently the most stressed, Canadian program. We only need to look at the challenges created by the new burdens because of the pandemic. I do not believe that anyone doubts the cost pressures on health care before COVID or especially now.
    Strangely, the Liberal government is ignoring the serious need to increase health care transfer payments. Why? While I believe we all understand the need for affordable child care, how can this budget be totally silent on health care? It is completely irresponsible.
    When I first got into political life, a person wiser than me told me that politicians should always remember this in this order: needs first, wants second. She would say, “Whatever you do, Dan, do not put all your eggs in one basket.” This relates to my next point.
    When we consider the very first thing this Prime Minister did in response to COVID, for reasons none of us will likely ever understand, was to start making a deal with China-based CanSino for vaccines. When that deal failed, the PM hid the fact from Canadians for two months. Guess what? We are now two months behind many other countries. We have spent the most money, and this budget confirms that.
    Obviously, because of the vaccine delays, we have been forced into this situation in many areas, but make no mistake, those delays are costing Canadians dearly. What happened to better being always possible? How did that become waiting for one shot, hopefully by September? We need better, and it is possible.
    On a different note, I could not help but notice in this budget that the Liberal government announced billions for a home retrofit program with many more details to come. That sounds familiar. They did the same with a similar program last fall, and told people that it would available for homeowners by December 2020. Well, last night I checked the website, and that program is still not available. Canadians are being told to check back in the coming weeks. That message has been up there for months.
    It is a bit rich to announce a new home retrofit program when we have not been able to successfully launch the last one. Maybe this will become an annual tradition, and every year the minister will announce a new home retrofit program, but never actually implement one. I would suggest that the minister make sure that the program that was supposed to open last year is available before launching a new one. This is not unlike the Liberals promise to plant two billion trees. How did that go? We all know where that one went.
    Before I close, I would like to leave members in the House with a thought, courtesy of the former finance minister in his first-ever budget speech in 2016. In that speech, former finance minister Bill Morneau stated, “It is no surprise that many Canadians feel they are worse off than their parents were at the same age, and that they feel the next generation will do even worse than their own.”
    I will ask members this simple question: When the next generation is left to pay for the bills that this Liberal government has left behind for them, how do members think they are going to feel? For their sake, let us all hope that interest rates stay low. This budget is not a plan for their future, it is a budget to help the political future of this Prime Minister.
    Mr. Speaker, I listened to the remarks from my colleague, particularly toward the end when he quoted the previous finance minister. I am not sure if he has been living in the same reality the rest of us have been for the last year, but we have been facing a global pandemic, and we are still in the middle of it right now. This has cost billions of dollars, which I might add, he supported through unanimous consent motions when those measures were introduced.
    We are in this difficult time now because of something we were not able to foresee when Bill Morneau made those comments. My question is this: Would the member not at least acknowledge that some things may have changed since then that have contributed to the situation we are in?

  (1340)  

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Kingston and the Islands for his ongoing questioning of opposition members who have questions about whether or not his government is actually getting the big picture. Just by his very statement, we are in a situation we did not anticipate. However, recessions happen and pandemics happen. In fact, there was a 2006 report, authored in part by Dr. Tam, that actually laid out blow by blow exactly what kind of situation could happen in the future, which looked very similar to COVID-19. Yet, this member seems to give his own government a complete get-out-of-jail-free card when it comes to thinking of the systemic or large-scale risks we have of higher interest rates.
    I would like that member to actually start telling Canadians what the backup plan is, besides their back pockets.
    Mr. Speaker, when we talk about the economy, to me the economy is always the family economy, and we have seen year in, year out where over 60% of the workforce is unable to access EI, even though they may need it. One of the things the New Democrats pushed for was the recognition of the gig economy. They are self-employed and could not access EI. We are now going back to the idea that we will just have EI, and the government is going to cut the supports from $500 a week to $300 a week for contract workers and self-employed gig workers.
    The reality is that this third wave is still hitting us and, in many of the regions we represent, the economy has not bounced back. We need a plan to get people through until we have a more solid footing so people can go back to work. Just $300 a week is not going to keep temporary workers, contract workers and gig workers able to pay their rent or pay their bills. They are not going to get through this.
    Mr. Speaker, at the end of the day, the country may be governed by the government itself, but the government is for the people. Certainly this member raises a lot of criticisms. We have raised concerns about the impacts on labour throughout this process, and we actually pushed the government to make changes to what eventually became the Canada recovery benefit, which offered more flexibility, so someone could count on those supports, and if they made more income, they would not fall off a cliff.
    Certainly, we are there to make sure people are supported. I do share the concerns of the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands. I am from Victoria originally; I was born in Victoria. I heard that Butchart Gardens, one of the treasures of the island, is facing financial ruin, and for the people who work for it, that is a big problem.
    Mr. Speaker, in listening to the member's speech, and not just his, but the discourse coming from the Conservative Party, I find that things zigzag a bit. We hear, for example, that we should not be running deficits, then they will say it is okay to run a deficit for a while, but they do not tell us for how long and what the ideal deficit should be. Then, when we talk about the benefits that have saved families, individuals and businesses, the Conservatives support them. It gets a bit confusing. We have heard about the fact that we are not manufacturing vaccines at home, yet this budget includes some funding to build up the biopharmaceuticals sector. Of course, that is going to cost money. It is not going to reduce the deficit, so what I am wondering is whether the member is in favour of that kind of spending.
    Does he think the budget is good from that perspective, or does he think that we need to cut back somewhere else in order to make these expenditures on biomanufacturing capacity possible?
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for his work on the environment committee as chair. Like the carbon tax cover-up, the government has no penchant to share information that may end up exposing the fact that there are risks to its plans. We have not seen a budget in two years. Every other province and territory and every municipality I know of has been able to bring forward a budget through COVID, so that the opposition could ask questions on a fiscal framework. I have asked multiple times of the Minister of Employment to tell us what the status of the EI fund is. Is there a modest deficit? We know that there probably is not now. How can we, as parliamentarians, do our job, if the government will not give us basic figures?
    It is Conservatives who have been criticizing the government for not looking here first. His government went right to CanSino to sign a deal and put all our eggs in that basket, and that left us behind, rather than working with industry, much as the British did, to do that, or to even focus on a more diversified portfolio earlier. Instead, we see the United States and other countries, such as Israel, are all clearly ahead of us.
    I appreciate this member's work, but I have to tell him that he has to tell his government to start giving us the tools, so that we can make good suggestions for the good of this country.

  (1345)  

    Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Minister of Finance introduced her first budget to Canadians in over two years, two years of uncertainty for small businesses trying to plan for an ever more uncertain future, two years of careful spending by new Canadians not aware of the promises they were made entering this country for the first time and two years of economic room for our country's once strong industries that millions of Canadians have relied upon.
    Yesterday, instead of delivering a clear, measured and outcome-driven budget, the Minister of Finance gave Canadians a glimpse of the political opportunity this pandemic has provided for her government. The idea of this budget is not to build back better, but to build back bigger, with a large reach of control of government into the individual lives of Canadians. It is full of big promises and expensive programs and, based upon past performance, it will likely lead to disappointing results.
    There will be $101.4 billion in new spending, including $30 billion toward a national child care plan. That is an important initiative that Conservatives support, but it should not be one size that fills all and the devil is in the details. The Liberals' big headline, which they are good at, is that $10 a day will be the average cost for child care. This does not mean all Canadians will have access to $10-a-day child care. The government has had five years to develop this plan with the co-operation of provinces and it still has to be negotiated.
    Extending pandemic business and health supports until this economy gets back on its feet will of course be required and there is an increase in the federal minimum wage. There are promises for $17.6 billion in green investments. While all of these promises sound wonderful, I am afraid we will again be reminded of the government's failure to deliver on fiscal promises. Six years ago, the Prime Minister's election platform vowed to run modest budget deficits prior to balancing the budget at the end of his first term. The government has since abandoned this goal. It set four annual deficit targets and each of them was missed. The Liberals are masters at the big gesture and bold headlines, but they consistently do not deliver, so why should we believe them about this budget?
    In late 2020, the Prime Minister announced that his temporary spending measures would not become a fixture for the federal government. He committed to balancing the budget in the future without any indication of a timeline and while Liberals assert that their accumulated debt is manageable, long-term projections indicate that massive federal stimulus spending during the pandemic will result in deficits for multiple decades.
    Remember when Liberals told us they had the best vaccine portfolio in the G7. That was in December and look at where we are now. Canada is getting slammed by the third wave of variants. Canadians are seeing an extension of time between the first and second doses and less than 3% of the population is fully vaccinated. It says it is an open and transparent government. It prorogued Parliament and shut down the ethics, defence and finance committees while shining the light on important scandals, particularly around sexual harassment. In 2015, the federal government vowed to reduce its debt-to-GDP ratio to 27% and that was not done. It failed to deliver on a pledge to end boil water advisories by March 2021 in indigenous communities and that was not done. The Prime Minister told Liberal Party members at a closed event for the Minister of Public Services and Procurement that all Canadians are likely to be vaccinated by June. That is not going to happen.
    These failed promises are just the tip of the iceberg. We cannot depend on the government to execute any of its promises and programs. The government must recognize that there can be no implementation of programs, supports or initiatives aimed toward economic recovery without a solution to this health crisis. As the rest of the world continues to receive vaccines and return to a sense of normalcy, Canada has fallen behind, not only in the past few weeks but since the inception of COVID-19.
    In the midst of the third wave, Canadians are struggling to cope with the rise of COVID-19 cases with increased lockdowns and the effects of the struggling economy. We are in the middle of the biggest health crisis in Canadian history. The provincial premiers have called for a long-term funding plan that ensures they will have the resources to make sure we are prepared for when, not if, this happens again. There is nothing in this budget that addresses the long-term resiliency of our health care system, which is what the premiers have been asking for.
    Canadians are having a hard time coping with the current spike, hospitalizations are up, ICU admissions are soaring, businesses are closed and workers are losing their jobs or having their hours cut. This demonstrates what poor planning and the failure to procure health provisions looks like. It has consequences for Canadians.

  (1350)  

    The mental health crisis that our communities have been struggling with across Canada deepens. Canadians are worried about their future. In the United States, cases and hospitalizations are dropping. Businesses are opening. They are going out to sports games. That is because the U.S. population is getting vaccinated. Our current situation in Canada was avoidable.
    Monday's federal budget outlines how the federal Liberals propose to rebuild the Canadian economy in a way that brings all Canadians along. Apparently the minister does not consider those Canadians who rely on this country's agricultural, energy, forestry, fisheries or other natural resources to be Canadian. Just as the government has continued to do since 2015, Canada's natural resources were ignored in the equation for economic recovery. There is no mention of the energy sector, which is Canada's number one export.
    Snubbing the strength of Canada's resource forestry sectors among others, the government has failed to recognize the impact these sectors would have on our battered economy. The world wants and needs more of our natural resources and we should be thinking about expanding market share rather than hastening its decline. The least we could do is lessen our dependency on foreign supply because we have it all here.
    The budget continues to go down a path we have seen before with Liberal governments, funding programs that they believe will increase productivity and innovation, but past results tell a different story. Canada fell out of the top 10 ranking of the world's most competitive economies and we have fallen near the bottom of our peer group on innovation, ranking 17th, with those existing programs that the Liberals are adding money to. How is this federal spending going to position our country for post-pandemic success? In never-before-seen stimulus spending, where is our strategic economic vision for the future? How will this affect generations for years to come? On the debt the government is holding now, we are paying about $20 billion in interest, soon to be $40 billion. How are we going to pay for our debt burden if interest rates continue to rise?
    Debt-to-GDP ratio is going to rise and it is getting close to that near default number in 1996. Titled “A Recovery Plan for Jobs, Growth, and Resilience”, the federal Liberal government's budget contains $497.6 billion in total spending. However, from what I was able to distinguish from the speech, there is no actual plan for job growth that they are referring to. Instead there are vague references to growing green jobs and retraining the workforce toward new jobs. We have heard lots of noise about retraining for jobs that do not exist yet. The need for tradespeople only happens if we can approve something and get it built in this country. Growth has to be led by the private sector. The high cost of doing business in Canada, with red tape and over-regulation, creates an impossible environment for small business. There is nothing here that reduces import costs and increases competitiveness.
    There is nothing in the budget that deals with the attraction of investment into Canada, nothing that demonstrates Canada is open for business and if we want something or need something built, Canada is the place to do it. There is nothing here that would encourage Canadians themselves to invest in Canadian businesses and little mention of advancing projects that are under review and accelerating that review.
    My fear for the future is that this budget will do more than invest massive sums of money into under-tested, under-productive schemes that serve the government's political agenda. Canadians need more than a plan to keep them home and promises to retrain them for jobs that do not exist. They need a plan that will get them outside and back to work. At the end of the day, Canadians will be left with more joblessness, higher taxes and an unimaginable tax burden for Canada's youth.
    The most important investment our country can make is getting Canadians employed in our country. The Conservative Party of Canada would implement the Canada recovery plan, a plan that would recover the hundreds of thousands of jobs lost in the hardest-hit sectors. It is time we start building, producing and growing in Canada again. Clearly the rest of the world is interested in buying value-added products, commodities and Canadian expertise, but there is little in the budget that demonstrates our future will include an economic recovery that plays to our strengths.
    All in all, there appear to be a few positive measures in this budget put forward, specifically those that will continue to support Canadians in their time of need as they struggle to get through this pandemic. Nonetheless, our party will be sure to scrutinize and review the budget in great detail. Canadians deserve a robust plan for recovery and one that will instill confidence in our ability to grow and build back stronger than ever before.

  (1355)  

    Mr. Speaker, I have heard a parade of Conservative MPs today talk about the need to create choice in the child care system, and “choice” is an interesting word to use.
     Farmers in the Prairies can choose to take a bushel of wheat and walk it down to a road, then walk that road to Vancouver and then swim across the ocean to China to sell it or they can choose to use the system of roads the public has built, the rail system the public has built and the port system the public has built and utilize that system, choose that system, to get better results for the bushel of wheat they want to sell.
    Child care is no different. We all support parents having the right to choose where to place their kids while they work or go to school, but if we do not have a system to choose between and we limit our choices to individual options, we get the same result as trying to swim wheat to China. We do not get any results.
    Will the member opposite agree that if those members are going to support choice and support the market of opportunities for parents, they have to build the child care system for choices to be present for parents to make those choices they seem to think they support?
    Mr. Speaker, there is a lot of preamble in that question. Fundamentally, this has to be a negotiated agreement between the provinces. It strikes me that there have been five years to get that done, five years to create something, and we still have nothing.
    We have a promise for $10-child care, but a promise to negotiate with the provinces has not happened yet. Yes, I agree there is an opportunity to use choice and there is an opportunity to design a program that works for all provinces, but it has to be with their input.
    Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to the hon. member's speech and I know in St. John's, as I am sure in Edmonton, there are many seniors. We heard from a lot today. They have heard about the $500 being given sometime in August to seniors who are 75. They are concerned and not very happy. They are over 65, not yet 75, and are getting no help from the government in this budget.
    Would the hon. member agree it would be much fairer for the government to ensure all seniors get some additional assistance? They all need it. They are hurting and they feel they deserve it.
    Mr. Speaker, there are two ways to approach this. One is to provide additional funds to seniors and the other way is to stop burdening them with additional costs.
    The government has been on the path of continuing to increase the cost of everything. That is as important to seniors as is trying to give them more capital. They are being given more capital to pay for the additional costs they are incurring, because the government is hell-bent on increasing costs for everything. It is time to stop. It is time to make life more affordable for Canadians.
    Mr. Speaker, my colleague mentioned that there was nothing in the budget in regard to oil and gas. However, I have a comment from Amanda Lang on Power Play last night, on which I wold like his response. She said, “I will say this Evan, and this is kind of like one of those more boring line items, but it's important especially for resource industry companies, and that is there is a form of a corporate tax increase in this budget that the Liberals have talked about for a while. It's a reduction on dividend interest deductions allowable. Super boring sounding, but I'll tell you this. It could hurt oil and gas companies disproportionately and at a time when they can least afford it.”

  (1400)  

    Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned in my speech, there is nothing in the budget that recognizes the importance of this industry that has helped Canada for years and has allowed us to grow our social programs and infrastructure in the country. I am incredibly disappointed there is no recognition of the energy sector in the budget.

Statements by Members

[Statements by Members]

[English]

Volunteerism

    Mr. Speaker, the Ismaili Volunteer Corps, through the civic program, have been in the forefront of providing services to those facing isolation during the pandemic. It launched access that provides virtual programming, tech support and non-emergency medical help to all in need.
     Many constituents in my riding and across Canada have benefited from these services. The team recently joined hands with the Michael Garron Hospital to conduct a mass vaccination clinic in my riding, where thousands accessed the service. As well, the Ismaili Civic, in collaboration with the Humber River Hospital, has worked to recruit volunteers for a mass vaccination initiative at the Downsview Park arena.
     I thank the team of dedicated volunteers for the service they provide, and follow the motto of “Work No words”. They are truly an inspiration to all.

Volunteerism

    Mr. Speaker, the pandemic has taken an enormous toll on the most vulnerable, but we have also seen so many volunteers step up and show us the very best of our community.
    I want to highlight the efforts of York Centre constituent, Emily Gampel. Since the pandemic began, she has reached out and kept in touch with Holocaust survivors, arranged support for first responders and front-line health care workers, and organized donations of winter clothing to vulnerable Canadians in Nunavut with the support of the Uquutaq Society in Iqaluit. Like so many volunteers, it is not just about helping others but also a key to supporting her own mental health.
    I want to close with Emily's own words about her motivation, “In Canada, we may have different religious, ethnic, and cultural roots, or we may look different from one another. But despite it all we have one powerful commonality. We are all Canadians, and we live in this beautiful country that we are lucky to call home.”

Team Rubicon

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to highlight an international disaster response organization, made up of 70,000 incredible volunteers: veterans, first responders, medical professionals and kick-ass civilians who continue to make an impact at home and across the globe. With the driving force of service above self, Team Rubicon was founded by two U.S. brains in 2010.
    Six years later, Team Rubicon Canada got its start during the 2016 Fort McMurray wildfires.
     In 10 years, Team Rubicon has deployed to six earthquakes, 132 floods, 56 hurricanes, 47 severe weather events, 96 tornadoes, 79 wildfires and, on the COVID front line, has over 325 vaccination sites, helping deliver over 1.3 million vaccinations. Team Rubicon members from Prince George have deployed all across Canada, the United States, the Bahamas and, most recently, in Honduras.
    I am exceptionally proud to be a “greyshirt”. I encourage everyone to reach out to their local organizers and see how they can support Team Rubicon, its mission and maybe even become a greyshirt themselves.

Anti-Asian Racism

    Mr. Speaker, since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Canadians of Asian descent have fallen victim to incessant hate and xenophobia.
     A recent Chinese Canadian National Council report says that from March 10, 2020 to February 28, 2021, there were 1,150 reported attacks, with both adolescents and seniors more likely to be targeted. Eleven per cent of incidents involved violent physical assault or some form of unwanted contact, while 10% included being coughed or spat on. This is repugnant and reprehensible.
    Last month, at Toronto City Hall, I joined thousands of Canadians standing in solidarity against anti-Asian racism. Together, we condemned hate and made a concerted call for action. Whether it is against Asian, Black or indigenous communities, racism has no home in Canada.

  (1405)  

[Translation]

    As Canadian citizens, we must continue to create an inclusive space for racialized groups, cultural and religious minorities and newcomers. Canada has come too far to go backward now.

Agriculture and Agri-Food

    Mr. Speaker, the budget does not jibe with the government's commitments to the agricultural community or its needs.
    When someone goes on and on about food sovereignty at some point they have to stop talking and start doing something about it. Succession planning is crucial to the health of the agricultural sector.
    In 2019, the Liberal Party promised to modernize the tax system to facilitate the transfer of family businesses and family farms between generations. There is nothing to that effect in the budget. What is more, we need to get these businesses geared up. They need foreign workers.
    In the middle of a crisis involving quarantine problems with Switch Health, the only thing Ottawa has to offer in the budget is more inspections. How will that help?
    The government also needs to compensate the entire supply-managed sector for CUSMA. This was included in the fall economic statement, but it is not in the budget.
    The Bloc Québécois will ensure that the government honours its commitments and keeps its promises to the agricultural community.

[English]

Canada Summer Jobs Initiative

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to share with members the success that Kanata—Carleton has achieved with the Canada summer jobs program.
     I am pleased to announce that $2.1 million in funding was approved, creating 618 jobs at 123 organizations, charities and businesses. From technology to organic farming to summer camps, it is this diversity that makes Kanata—Carleton such an amazing place to live and do business.
     I thank everyone from all the businesses and organizations who showed incredible determination, commitment and creativity when presented with the challenges of COVID-19. They have supported and served their community, and the people of Kanata—Carleton have been there to support them in return. Shopping local is a win-win.
     Together we can all succeed in spite of these challenging times. Their leadership and teamwork matters greatly, and I thank them all.

COVID-19 Restrictions

    Mr. Speaker, for over a year now Canadians have been doing everything they can to stay safe and keep Canada moving and working.
     My riding of Tobique—Mactaquac takes in a majority of the New Brunswick-U.S. border. COVID restrictions have been particularly hard on our border communities across the country. Many Canadians are required to cross regularly for essential work and services. Some work in health care on the other side of the border, others truck and haul our goods and others work in our agriculture and food supply chains, while others must cross for medical and other essential appointments.
    For some this means crossing the international border multiple times a day. Everyone wants to be safe and take the necessary precautions, but when our essential workers are crossing multiple times a day, the process for crossing should be as simple and straightforward as possible.
     Instead of insisting that these essential workers fill out arriveCan submissions multiple times a day in places that often have poor to no cell coverage, the government should be doing everything it can to streamline the process and ensure our essential workers are supported with a process that makes sense and eliminates redundancies.

Veterans' House

    Mr. Speaker, on April 16, the federal government announced a $1.5 million investment to Veterans' House as part of its efforts to tackle houselessness and provide crucial supports for our veterans in need.
     Operated by the Multifaith Housing Initiative, Veterans' House opened this past February and offers veterans affordable housing as well as access to mental health and addiction services. This new investment will help construct 40 homes for veterans who are houseless or at risk of houselessness and builds on the federal government's $6.5 million investment made in 2019.
    The Multifaith Housing Initiative has been working since 2001 to supply safe, continuous and inclusive affordable housing in Ottawa. I would like to thank executive director Suzanne Le and her team at MHI for their outstanding contribution to our community. I also thank the member for Ottawa—Vanier for making the announcement.

  (1410)  

Laurentian University

    Mr. Speaker, we are all aware of the situation unfolding at Laurentian University in Sudbury. What I want to focus on today are the students affected by this tragedy.
     Like most universities, exams at Laurentian started on April 12, the same day as the job losses and program cuts were announced.

[Translation]

    Hundreds of students have to do their exams knowing that their program will no longer exist next year.

[English]

    The hockey and swim teams were cut, casting student athletes adrift, with nowhere to play, train or study.
    As the father of a university student athlete, I cannot imagine the pain of losing one's team, teammates, academic program and dream all at the same time.

[Translation]

    I talked to the students about the devastating effects the cuts have had on them. No one has been spared.

[English]

    As concerned and frustrated as I am about the enormous impact currently felt by Laurentian University students, I remain resolved to see the university emerge as strong as possible from this terrible situation. We owe it to our students, who have sacrificed so much to get this far in their studies, to search for a way forward so they can complete their studies and launch their careers.

Medical Assistance in Dying

    Mr. Speaker, conscience rights are a fundamental freedom protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Sadly, this right is being severely undermined for medical processionals in relation to medical aid in dying. When euthanasia and MAID were first legalized in 2015, the government promised that people would not be coerced to take part in euthanasia against their will. Without the force of law behind it, this promise has proven to be completely empty.
     Physicians as well as other medical professionals are now constrained by law to offer MAID as a primary treatment option even in cases where they do not believe it is in the best interest of their patient. Without conscience rights, patients will no longer have access to a second opinion for their end-of-life care. As a result, patient rights and well-being are being undermined. My private member's bill, the protection of freedom of conscience act, seeks to address this deterioration of rights.

Anti-Asian Racism

    Mr. Speaker, this past March, Statistics Canada found that Canadians with Asian backgrounds have reported increased racial harassment during the pandemic. While systemic racism against Asian Canadians is certainly not new, it has increased exponentially during the pandemic.
    Earlier this month, I hosted Halton MPs and stakeholders for an anti-Asian racism round table with the Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth to discuss the disturbing acts of discrimination and racism facing people of Asian descent in our communities and steps we can take to fight it.
    The members of Halton's Asian Canadian community have been leaders during the pandemic, distributing PPE and sanitizer and adopting public health measures early on. We have a diverse and active Asian Canadian community in Halton, and we all have a responsibility to support those facing racism and stand united to ensure that everyone in Canada is treated equitably.

[Translation]

Budget 2021

    With their pre-election goodies, the Liberals are taking seniors for fools. They are dangling $500 in front of them just before the election. However, if seniors are 65, 70 or even 74 years of age, they can forget about it because it is not for them.
    With record deficits, no fiscal anchor and a debt ratio that has ballooned to more than 50%, it is obvious that the Liberal credit card is going to blow up at our expense.
    After a two-year wait, we were expecting far better from the Liberals, especially with the pandemic, namely real measures to stimulate our economy in a responsible manner and to get people back to work. Instead, the Liberals are creating new programs with a staggering price tag and are putting future generations further into debt. These same Liberals then talk to us about sustainable development.
    Seniors deserve better, as do future generations. I can hardly wait for a Conservative government to set things right before it is too late.

[English]

Mental Health

    Mr. Speaker, the impact this pandemic has had on our mental health will far outlast this crisis. This is something we cannot ignore. I have held numerous virtual town halls in my riding with community leaders and business owners, talking about mental health and the impact on our constituents. I want to thank Dr. Jody Carrington for her powerful and inspirational message, and Pamela Morgan with Headstrong for her focus on rural businesses and farm families. Hundreds of people attended these sessions and shared their heartfelt stories of stress, anxiety, depression and, in many cases, suicide.
     This cannot be the new normal. Canadians need hope that this will end.
     However, instead of a recovery plan, the Liberals' budget had no strategy for how to permanently and safely end these lockdowns. The Liberals have failed miserably in accessing vaccines, meaning that these quarantines will extend. As Conservatives, we have focused on securing jobs and our economy and the recovery of the financial and mental health of Canadians.
    As Dr. Carrington said, “We are all just here walking each other home”.

  (1415)  

Mark Shawanda

    Mr. Speaker, often we hear about the challenges indigenous communities can face securing a safe and reliable source of drinking water. However, for Whitefish River First Nation, water quality has been a source of pride in recent years. Now that has been tempered with the passing of water treatment plant operator Mark Shawanda.
    Trained in the shadow of the Walkerton crisis, Mark took great pride in running the water plant by the book for over two decades. Proof of excellence came by way of multiple water quality awards that brought recognition to the community and to Mark as well. He shared his experience by mentoring others, ensuring Whitefish River First Nation's water will remain of the highest quality for years to come.
    Known for his can-do attitude and one-liners like “I'm no doctor, but I'll take a look”, Mark was active in the local sport community, served on council and was fully devoted to his family, especially his grandchildren.
    I extend heartfelt condolences to Mark's wife Debbie, his family and the community of Whitefish River First Nation. Our thoughts are with them.

[Translation]

Culture and News Media

    Mr. Speaker, I was pleased to hear that money was allocated in the budget to small festivals and local cultural celebrations.
    The problem is that there will soon be no one left to promote if the government continues to let our news media and regional media die a slow death. We have been saying that the media is in crisis for years, but the Liberals completely ignored the issue and missed the perfect opportunity to address it in their record-spending budget.
    That is why the Bloc Québécois is pushing to put the revenue collected from taxing web giants in a fund for culture and news media. The content creators who work in these sectors are the ones bringing in the big bucks for online platforms. People in these industries face an uncertain future, because their work goes towards lining the pockets of foreign multinationals instead of benefiting their own families.
    The Liberals deliberately left our media and content creators out of the budget, but it is not too late to do something. Rest assured that the Bloc Québécois will not abandon these sectors.

[English]

The Economy

    Mr. Speaker, as Canadians look ahead to rounding the corner on COVID-19, our country is at a crossroads. The future of Canada is at stake, and Canadians must choose which path to recovery they trust.
    The path of the Prime Minister's reimagined economy veers off into the unknown and saddles our children with debt levels and repayment obligations that will challenge their future success.
    Canada's Conservatives are offering another path, one of security and certainty, through our five-point Canada recovery plan. Our plan will secure our future and deliver us to a Canada where those who have struggled the most through this pandemic can get back to work. Canada's Conservatives got through the last recession, and with Canada's recovery plan, Canada's Conservatives will get Canadians through these challenging times as well.

[Translation]

Budget 2021

    Mr. Speaker, budget 2021 offers a historic plan to fight the pandemic while creating jobs and building a stronger, greener, healthier and more inclusive Canada.
    We worked hard to ensure that local voices were reflected in this budget, including those in my riding, Vimy, and all across Canada. We are extending the critical support programs we introduced during the pandemic. We are making sure that seniors can live with additional financial security.
    After 50 years of talking about it, we are finally creating a national early learning and child care system to support working mothers. We are going to get it done this time. This budget sets out a plan to support all Canadians and help our economy grow.

Oral Questions

[Oral Questions]

[English]

Health

    Mr. Speaker, the third wave of COVID-19 is ravaging Canada. We are in this situation because the federal government did not secure enough supply of vaccines fast enough to prevent it. Today, the Government of Manitoba had to secure help from North Dakota to vaccinate essential workers.
    How many Canadians will have to be vaccinated in the United States because of the Prime Minister's failure to secure vaccines?

  (1420)  

    Mr. Speaker, it is important in this House that we be grounded in facts. Our plan is working, and we are getting more vaccines than anticipated. We have now delivered over 13.3 million doses to provinces and territories, with more than 10 million doses of vaccine already administered. Thanks to the tireless work of officials to accelerate vaccine deliveries, we are now in the top three of G7 and G20 countries.
    Mr. Speaker, his plan is working. Moderna was delayed and doses were reduced. AstraZeneca was delayed and doses were reduced. This morning, production of the J&J vaccine has been suspended at the main facility. Supply shortages will only get worse as more Canadians become eligible for shots.
    Why did the Prime Minister fail to secure the required vaccines months ago?
    Mr. Speaker, again, the Conservatives attempt to play politics with this, but the fact is that we actually passed our target of six million doses by the end of March by over 50%. We are now receiving over a million doses every single week, and we will continue to. We will receive two million doses in the month of May every week, and more than 48 million doses by the end of June. Every Canadian who wants to be vaccinated will be fully vaccinated by September. We are on track.
    Mr. Speaker, we are in the third wave of this pandemic, so severe because of the Prime Minister's failure to secure vaccines at a rate the United States was at months ago. Exceeding targets by stealing vaccines from the developing world is shameful leadership by the Prime Minister. He announces future shots months from now, and in those same press conferences he announces delays for the next few weeks.
    The provinces are desperate for more vaccine supply. Where is it?
    Mr. Speaker, we will be receiving more than a million vaccines every single week for the foreseeable future, with two million in the month of May, with tens of millions in the month of June. We will continue to deliver vaccines, but we know that as we continue to work, we need to make sure we are following public health guidelines and basing our decisions on science, which is something this government has always done. We will continue to work with provinces and territories.
     Canadians will notice, even if Conservatives do not want to talk about it, that we put forward a budget that gives so much help to Canadians that Conservative do not even have any questions on it.

[Translation]

The Budget

    Mr. Speaker, I have a question.
    The Quebec finance minister was very disappointed by the lack of stable, predictable and unconditional health care funding. The budget had no support for health care, even though we are in the middle of a third wave.
    Why is the government spending on an election rather than on the health of Canadians?
    Mr. Speaker, that is absolutely false. I noticed that, in English, the opposition leader is saying that we are spending too much for Canadians, but in French, he is saying we need to spend more.
    The fact is, we have transferred billions of dollars to the provinces and territories to support their health care systems and help them get through this pandemic, and we continue to do so. Even this budget transfers an additional $4 billion to the provinces.
    We will continue to be there to support the provinces and their health care systems, and yes, we will increase health transfers in the long term.
    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister will not provide an answer in either official language.
    This budget is a disappointment to many Canadians. The provinces' demands for health transfers were ignored. There are lots of little election-friendly programs here, but there are no real measures for vaccines.
    Does the Prime Minister think he knows what provinces need better than the provinces themselves?

  (1425)  

    Mr. Speaker, the Conservative Party leader mentioned “little programs” that will help lots of people, and he said that was shameful.
    For the past year, we have been listening to Canadians, working with Canadians and addressing the needs of organizations, small businesses, workers, families, seniors and youth. We have been there for them. We have supported them. That is exactly what we are doing with this budget, yet the Conservative Party says we should not help people so much but should reduce the deficit. Well, Canadians will have a choice at some point between the Conservatives' vision and our Liberal plan, but right now, we are getting through the pandemic.
    Mr. Speaker, you know how sensitive I am. I am afraid that the Prime Minister has gotten himself in trouble.
    We knew that Quebeckers were not happy with the government before, but never to this extent. We have been flooded with calls from people who happen to be between 65 and 75 and who are unhappy with the budget and its age-based discrimination. We have gotten so many calls that it would be easy to forget that there might be anything good in the budget.
    Will the Prime Minister accept our suggestion and change his budget to benefit seniors?
    Mr. Speaker, during the 2019 election, we recognized and understood that seniors needed help, that seniors aged 75 and older have more costs and that expenses were going up while Canadians were living longer. They are concerned about their old age pension, their retirement savings, their life savings.
    We promised to increase old age security by 10% for seniors aged 75 and older, and that is exactly what we are delivering in this budget. That is good news for seniors. It is good news for Canada.
    Mr. Speaker, that is okay news for seniors aged 75 and older, who will get only about $500 this year, which is less than $50 a month. It is terrible news for those aged 65 to 75. This is a clear case of unjustifiable discrimination.
    Where did the government get the idea that the cost of living is lower for those under the age of 75? Who came up with that? Will the Prime Minister spare himself the trouble and consider our amendment for the good of seniors aged 65 to 75?
    Mr. Speaker, as a government, we have always been there for seniors. One of the first things we did following the 2015 election was to increase the guaranteed income supplement by 10%.
    We have continued to be there for seniors, whether it was by investing in the new horizons for seniors program, providing them with more assistance during this pandemic or increasing the old age security pension by 10% for all seniors aged 75 and older.
    We will continue to be there with $3 billion to help the provinces protect seniors in long-term care facilities.
    We will always be there for seniors.
    Mr. Speaker, the pandemic has been hard. People have lost their jobs and are struggling to make ends meet.
    Budgets are a matter of choices. The Prime Minister chose not to make the ultra-rich pay their fair share and chose to cut help for Canadians during the third wave.
    Why is the Prime Minister choosing to defend the interests of the ultra-rich instead of helping Canadians?
    Mr. Speaker, that is simply not true.
    One of the first things our government did in 2015 was raise taxes on the rich and lower taxes on the middle class. Unfortunately, the NDP voted against that.
    We will always keep trying to help those in need. In this budget, we are ensuring that digital service providers pay their fair share of taxes, introducing a tax on yachts and luxury vehicles, addressing aggressive tax planning schemes, and strengthening the government's ability to crack down on tax fraud and tax evasion.
    We will always be there for people in need in this country.

  (1430)  

[English]

COVID-19 Response

    Mr. Speaker, the third wave of COVID-19 is hitting Ontario hard. It is a disaster. ICU units are overrun. We are seeing health care workers on the brink, the people who need the vaccine the most are the least likely to get vaccinated, and we have a Prime Minister who continues to refuse to improve access to paid sick leave.
    Will the Prime Minister declare a public welfare emergency and use the Emergencies Act to make sure people who need the vaccine actually get it, and make sure that we have paid sick leave that actually works?
    Mr. Speaker, throughout this pandemic we have continually been there to support provinces and territories and to support Canadians right across the country. We made a straightforward promise that we would have people's backs, and that is exactly what we have done and what we will continue to do by working with partners right across the country and responding to the difficult situation that so many Canadians are facing with this third wave, particularly in the GTA.
    Regarding the sickness benefit, we brought it in so no worker, regardless of where they live or who they work for, has to choose between going to work sick and putting food on the table, and we made two additional weeks available through this benefit as well.
    We will continue to support Canadians. We have their backs.

[Translation]

The Budget

    Mr. Speaker, yesterday's budget was an open bar.
    It would have been nice if the Liberals had shown as much enthusiasm for other major issues, such as health care, as they did for camping. The provinces are asking for stable, predictable and unconditional increases to health transfers. The Conservatives support the provinces' demand. We are in the middle of a pandemic, so it just makes sense.
    Why did the Prime Minister not agree to Quebec's main demand?
    Mr. Speaker, the Conservative Party needs to be straight with Canadians and choose a fiscal policy.
    First the Conservatives tell us that we are spending too much, and then they tell us that we need to spend more on health care.
    What do the Conservatives really think?
    Mr. Speaker, Quebec's response was quite clear about the $3 billion over five years specifically for long-term health care.
    First, it is not an unconditional transfer. As usual, the Liberals are interfering in provincial jurisdictions. Second, as Quebec's finance minister pointed out, the federal government missed a unique opportunity to partner with Quebec on long-term health care.
    How do the Liberals plan to repair their relationship with the Government of Quebec?
    Mr. Speaker, Quebec's position is quite clear, and we had a good conversation with them. It is the Conservatives' position that is unclear. First they tell us that we are spending too much, and then they suggest a lot more spending.
    Canadians need to know what the Conservative Party's position is.
    Mr. Speaker, stable, predictable and unconditional increases to health transfers was Quebec's biggest ask in this federal budget.
    We are in the midst of a global pandemic. The health care system is being tested. Quebec is not the only province calling for this; all provinces and territories are. The commitment to increase health transfers must be honoured now.
    How could the Prime Minister fail to seize an opportunity like this?
    Mr. Speaker, I keep hearing the same question, so I will give the same answer.
    It is the Conservatives who need to be clear with Canadians. Do they think we are spending too much or that we should be spending more? Canadians deserve a clear, straight answer.

[English]

Public Services and Procurement

    Mr. Speaker, I offer congratulations to India for announcing that all its adults will be eligible for a vaccine as of May 1.
    While Canada's government has not domestically produced a single dose of COVID vaccine, India has been vaccinating its population with its own vaccines, produced within its borders, while also manufacturing vaccines for Canada.
    Why did the Minister of Public Services and Procurement not secure a partnership with India, a large democracy and one of the largest vaccine-producing nations in the world, to develop and manufacture vaccines in Canada in early 2020?

  (1435)  

    Mr. Speaker, we made historic investments in biomanufacturing in Canada. I am sure the member will remember Medicago. She will remember VIDO in Saskatchewan, and she will remember AbCellera and Precision Nanosystems in Vancouver. In fact, 12 days after the World Health Organization declared a pandemic, we were already investing $200 million. Within 30 days we added another $600 million, so we have invested about $1 billion since the World Health Organization declared a pandemic.
    We made historic investments, and we will continue to invest to ensure the safety of all Canadians.
    Mr. Speaker, I am sure the minister will remember that the federal Liberals did not attempt to partner with India but they did partner with the Government of China.
    Last year, the federal Liberals negotiated vaccine development with a company owned by the Chinese government, with whom Canada has many high-profile, ongoing concerns, which then unsurprisingly cancelled the deal after stringing the federal Liberals along for months.
    Why did the federal Liberals engage in a doomed vaccine production deal with the Government of China as opposed to securing one with our allies in India, the largest democracy in the world?
    Mr. Speaker, the argument from the opposition in that question is patently false. We have seven APAs with leading vaccine manufacturers, positioning Canada to be one of the leading procurement bodies and countries in the world.
    Let us just remember the facts. Across the country, 13.4 million doses have been distributed already, 10.2 million Canadians or 24% of Canadians have had at least one dose of vaccine, and we are resting at number two in the G20 for doses administered per 100 people.
    We will continue delivering for Canadians now and until all Canadians—
    The hon. member for Calgary Nose Hill.
    Mr. Speaker, the fact is that Canada has not produced a single dose of vaccine domestically. By now, we should be producing enough vaccine to supply our own population, as the Americans and Brits are. Instead, the federal Liberals have failed and put countries, such as India, that are facing a third wave in the impossible situation of sending a G7 country vaccines despite needing to vaccinate their own countrymen. The federal Liberals are also raiding the vaccine supply meant for the developing world through COVAX.
     Imagine if we had a manufacturing partnership with India. How many lives could have been saved if the Prime Minister had secured a domestic manufacturing partnership with India last—
    The hon. minister.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member.
    I would say to just imagine this: We have a partner to manufacture a vaccine in Canada. It is called Novavax. It has chosen Canada out of all the jurisdictions in which it operates.
    More interestingly, we also have a domestic company called Medicago in which we have invested $173 million to make sure that we will have a made-in-Canada vaccine. In addition to that, yesterday the Minister of Finance added another $2 billion to make sure that we could continue to invest in manufacturing, and to invest in the health and safety of all Canadians.

[Translation]

The Budget

    Mr. Speaker, there are good measures in the budget, but we are in the midst of a health crisis, and the Liberals must be out of touch with reality to run a $354-billion deficit without permanently increasing health transfers.
    Quebeckers' priority is health. That is also the Government of Quebec's priority. The only thing it asked the government to do was boost health transfers to cover 35% of health care costs.
    That is why the Bloc Québécois amended the budget to add health transfers. That is what Quebec wants. Will the Liberals support our amendment?
    Mr. Speaker, I am happy to hear that the Bloc thinks there are good measures in the budget.
    With respect to health, I agree that the priority for all Canadians is the fight against COVID-19. The federal government is here to support the territories and provinces. Last month, we injected an additional $5 billion in support for health care systems and vaccination rollout.

  (1440)  

    Mr. Speaker, that is a far cry from the 35% proposed in our amendment.
    It is not a question of money, because Ottawa has staked everything on its borrowing capacity. Despite the historic deficit, it is creating $100 billion in new spending. It has money for health care.
    It is clearly a political choice not to invest in addressing the problems that the pandemic has exposed. It is a choice not to invest in improving seniors' care. It is a choice not to invest in improving working conditions for caregivers. These are bad choices.
    What will it take for the government to realize that?
    Mr. Speaker, we are investing much more in health and in Canada's biomanufacturing capacity. We invested $5 billion in March. Last summer, we gave $19 billion to the provinces and territories to help them fight COVID-19.
    In addition, as my colleague just said, we have allocated $2.2 billion in the budget to our domestic vaccine production capacity.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, three months ago the Prime Minister gave the finance minister a mandate letter, instructing her to do three things: first, avoid creating new permanent spending; second, review Canada's debt management strategy; and, third, present a new fiscal anchor.
    That is the standard the Prime Minister set himself, and yet the minister followed none of them. Her budget contains massive permanent spending, the debt is out of control, and our only fiscal anchor is a floating one.
    Why did the minister ignore these directives, and is she going to ignore future ones as well?
    Mr. Speaker, our budget sets out a prudent and sustainable fiscal path. We set out a clear fiscal anchor.
    We commit to a declining debt-to-GDP ratio, and to unwinding the COVID deficits. By 2025-26, the debt-to-GDP ratio will be 49.2%, and the deficit will be 1.1%.
    Canada's debt-to-GDP ratio continues to be the lowest in the G7.
    Mr. Speaker, Canadians expect their government to help them in their time of need, and we support those efforts.
    However, the budget is also, by far, the biggest, most expensive in Canadian history. Our deficit has ballooned to a staggering $354 billion, and our national debt will soon reach an unimaginable $1.4 trillion. The budget fails to present a debt management plan that the Prime Minister had told his finance minister to deliver.
    Why did the minister disregard the Prime Minister's directive? When will she deliver his debt management plan?
    Mr. Speaker, in annex 2 of the budget, we present a very clear debt management strategy, and we point out that we have been carefully and thoughtfully pushing out the maturities of Canada's debt. Fifteen per cent of our bonds were long bonds before the pandemic. Last year, we pushed that out to 29%, and in the budget we commit to moving that to 42%.
    This is a prudent fiscal approach and will lock in today's low interest rates.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, just three months ago, the Prime Minister gave his ministers new mandate letters.
    The Minister of Finance's mandate letter asked her to do three things: avoid creating new permanent spending, review the debt management strategy, and present a new fiscal anchor.
    Over the past three months, the Minister of Finance has rejected each of these mandates. This budget will go down in history as the highest-spending budget in Canada's history, with a slew of new permanent spending measures.
    Political commentator Bernard Drainville was not fooled. He said this morning that the Liberal government seemed to be making a point of not talking about balancing the budget.
    Why?
    Mr. Speaker, I have to point out for Canadians that our fiscal approach is prudent and reasonable.
    In the budget, we presented a plan to reduce the federal debt-to-GDP ratio in the medium term and unwind COVID-19-related deficits.
    I also want to point out that Canada has the best fiscal position in the G7.

  (1445)  

    Mr. Speaker, it is not complicated. The fiscal anchor they set is the amount they will spend. That is the fiscal anchor in the budget.
    We are going to have to get used to hearing the word “trillion” here in the House. It is not a word that comes up often. It means $1,000 billion. Our national debt will soon hit $1.4 trillion.
    I want to share a quote. A certain person wrote that, with time, living beyond our means is unsustainable, even if the exact moment when higher interest rates crystallize is uncertain.
    Does the Minister of Finance agree with the person who wrote that statement, the keynote speaker at the last Liberal convention, one Mark Carney?
    Mr. Speaker, I want to once again call on the Conservative Party to be straight with Canadians and say whether the Conservative Party is the party of austerity or whether it wants us to spend more, on health care, for example, as Conservative members said at the beginning of question period.
    It is important to be consistent. Canadians want consistency, and that is what our government offers.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, here are some numbers from the past year: $78 billion in increased wealth for Canada's billionaires; $42 billion in bank profits during a pandemic; $25 billion in tax dollars going to overseas tax havens. Here are some numbers from budget 2021: zero dollars raised from a wealth tax; zero dollars raised from a pandemic profits tax; zero dollars recouped now from overseas tax havens. If we are all in this together, why do Liberals always give a free ride to the ultra rich?
    Mr. Speaker, our government absolutely believes that everyone in Canada needs to pay their fair share and that is why we have proposed a number of concrete measures in this budget. We are putting forward a luxury tax. We are putting forward a digital services tax. We are putting down unprecedented measures to crack down on tax evasion and aggressive tax planning schemes and finally, we are putting forward a tax on vacant and non-resident properties because homes are for Canadian families to live in.
    Mr. Speaker, young people have been some of the hardest hit by this pandemic. The third wave will only make things worse. The budget is an utter disappointment to students and young people who have had to make fundamental shifts in their education, employment and financial situations. The NDP is calling for a moratorium on student loan payments and putting an end to student loan interest permanently so young people do not have to spend years under crushing debt.
    Will the Prime Minister and the government commit to taking real action to help young people instead of these platitudes which do not go far enough?
    Mr. Speaker, we have committed nearly $6 billion to support young Canadians in this budget. Those are not mere platitudes. We are going to support Canadian students. We are going to make an education more affordable. We are going to create 500,000 work experience and job training opportunities. Early learning and child care, which we will build, will help young Canadians first and foremost.
    Mr. Speaker, the past year saw low-wage workers, youths, racialized Canadians and women leave the workforce in disproportionate numbers. Businesses in my riding have been clear: a robust economy depends on increasing labour force participation and budget 2021 addresses this.
    Could the Minister of Middle Class Prosperity and Associate Minister of Finance update us on how this budget will make generational investments building a Canada-wide early learning and child care system to get more people to work?

  (1450)  

    Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Mississauga—Erin Mills for her hard work and leadership.
    Budget 2021 will ensure that families in Canada are no longer burdened by high child care costs aiming for a 50% average fee reduction by the end of 2022, and reaching $10 per day on average by 2026. This budget will invest almost $30 billion working with provincial, territorial and indigenous partners to support quality, not-for-profit child care, and ensuring the needs of early childhood educators are at the heart of the system.
    We told Canadians we would do whatever it takes for as long as it takes and that is what—
    The hon. member for Aurora—Oak Ridges—Richmond Hill.

Committees of the House

    Mr. Speaker, the proceedings at defence committee are both reprehensible and unparliamentary. The defence committee chair has unlawfully used her authority to subvert the will of the committee and frustrate its ability to conduct the critical study into the allegations of sexual misconduct in the military.
    As a former officer, she swore to put service to country ahead of her own personal gain, yet she has turned her back on women in uniform by preventing the committee’s work.
    Will the member for Kanata—Carleton inform this House when she will urgently resume the defence committee?
    The hon. chair of the committee, if she is online.
    We will go to the vice-chair.
    Mr. Speaker, as the vice-chair of the Standing Committee on National Defence, I want to thank the member for Aurora—Oak Ridges—Richmond Hill for her strong and sincere leadership on this file.
    I share her disgust with the contemptuous Liberal actions at and the disgraceful obstruction of the defence committee. The member for Kanata—Carleton in particular is preventing us from investigating sexual misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces.
    As committee chair, she is allowing Liberal members to block key witnesses from appearing and suspended the committee with no date or time for resuming debate. The member for Kanata—Carleton must immediately end the cover-up for the Prime Minister, which she is doing at the expense of our women and men in uniform.

Public Services and Procurement

    Mr. Speaker, a constituent shared this with me the other day, “Just one thing: get the vaccine rolling please. I have a medical condition and 811 said it would be 16 weeks. Really?”
    Constituents like this, and millions of other Canadians, are suffering from Liberal vaccine fumbles while they watch other jurisdictions safely and permanently reopen.
    Will the Prime Minister stop the spin and blame and just admit he has failed Canadians?
    Mr. Speaker, I want to tell Canadians that when they needed PPE, we procured 7.2 billion items of PPE. When they needed rapid tests, we procured 40 million rapid tests.
    The same is true with vaccines. We have procured vaccines by the millions: 48 to 50 million will be arriving by the end of June and 110 million by the end of September. We are sitting at number two in the G20 for doses administered, and we will continue to bring in vaccines for all Canadians.
    Mr. Speaker, the COVID-19 drive-through vaccine clinic in my home city of Regina had to shut down last weekend after it ran out vaccine.
    The Government of Saskatchewan announced that unless it receives an unscheduled delivery of vaccines soon, Regina’s innovative and efficient drive-through clinic will remain closed until May 2.
    Why does the government continue to put thousands of lives at risk across Canada by not securing a reliable and steady supply of vaccines?

  (1455)  

    Mr. Speaker, the reality is that we are operating in a very competitive global environment, and not withstanding that environment, we are continuing to bring vaccines into this country by the millions: a million vaccines of Pfizer per week in April, two million vaccines of Pfizer per week in May and 2.5 million vaccines over five weeks in June. That is just from one supplier.
    We also have AstraZeneca, we have J&J and we have Moderna coming in to supplement our diversified portfolio of vaccines. We will continue bringing vaccines in for all Canadians so that all Canadians have access to a vaccine—
    The hon. member for Prince Albert.
    Mr. Speaker, vaccine centres across Saskatchewan are closing due to lack of supply. Regina is closed until May, Saskatoon is closed right now and pharmacies that are supposed to start delivering vaccines this week are now unable to do so. Saskatchewanians are holding up their end of the bargain by lining up to get vaccinated because their lives and livelihoods are at stake.
    When will the Liberal government finally keep up its end by ensuring a reliable supply?
    Mr. Speaker, there is a reason why we are in within the top three countries for vaccine administration in the G20. It is because our vaccines are continuing to come into the country by the millions. It is because of our diversified portfolio. It is because we will be continuing to bring vaccines into the country for all Canadians.
     We have accelerated 22 million doses of vaccine from later quarters to earlier quarters and that will allow all Canadians to have access to a vaccine prior to the end of September. That is our commitment and we will stick to it.

[Translation]

The Budget

    Mr. Speaker, seniors can see right through the government's budget tactics.
    They want a permanent old age pension increase starting at 65. Ottawa is offering a single vote-seeking $500 payment, and that is only for those 75 and over. It is clear to seniors that the federal government is dividing them into two age-based classes and that it is once again postponing pension increases indefinitely.
    That is why the Bloc is amending the budget to include an immediate pension increase at 65. Will the government support our amendment out of respect for all seniors?
    Mr. Speaker, one thing we have in common with members on the other side of the House is respect for seniors. I am very proud of the fact that 25% fewer seniors live in poverty now than when we came to power. We chose to target seniors 75 and over because their needs are greatest.
    Mr. Speaker, seniors will not be fooled. They realize that, by sending a one-time cheque this summer for $500, the government is trying to buy votes rather than increase pensions for all seniors.
    After everything they have been though during the pandemic, they thought the federal government got it. They expected Ottawa to finally do something about their lost purchasing power. They expected Ottawa to understand that they are the ones most affected by COVID-19. What they did not expect was to be used as pawns in a potential election.
    Why is the government so stubbornly refusing to increase pensions for those 65 and over?
    Mr. Speaker, we fully understand the needs of seniors, and we understand the tragedy that was COVID-19. That is why the Canadian Armed Forces went into long-term care homes to save the lives of Canadian seniors.
    As for old age security, this is a permanent increase for all seniors in Canada who are 75 and older.

[English]

Public Services and Procurement

    Mr. Speaker, documents show that the federal government is paying over $8 per dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine. South Africa is paying $5.25, the U.S. $4 and the European Union only $2.15. Given our high price, one would think Canada would have a vaccine delivery guarantee.
     Instead, pharmacies in my riding are struggling to confirm appointments for seniors because of inadequate supply from the federal government, but in neighbouring Maine, anyone 18 years and up can get vaccinated in a pharmacy today.
    Could the Prime Minister tell us when New Brunswick pharmacies will have enough vaccines to help as many families as in the state of Maine?

  (1500)  

    Mr. Speaker, as the member opposite well knows, our vaccine contracts are confidential, but not breaching them is a priority, especially when every country is in a race for vaccines. Each country negotiates its own contract and different aspects come into it. AstraZeneca has said that its vaccines are sold at not-for-profit prices, and we negotiated in good faith with it.
     We are continuing to work to accelerate doses to Canada. We will not rest until this job is done.
    Mr Speaker, COVID hot spots, designated high-priority vaccination areas, of Thornhill, Vaughan and Markham in York Region have for weeks now experienced a serious reduction in vaccine supplies. Clinics large and small have closed due to a lack of supply, new eligible groups cannot be accommodated and the region is unable to expand protection of residents and essential workers in manufacturing.
     In desperation, Ontario's Premier Ford is now reaching out to the European Union, India and the U.S. What is the Liberal government doing now to backfill its blundering unsecured vaccine procurement?
    Mr. Speaker, it is unfortunate that the opposition refuses to acknowledge that vaccines are coming into our country by the millions, that we have 13.4 million doses distributed, that almost a quarter of all Canadians have received at least one dose and that we sit in the top three of G20 countries. Why? Because we continue to bring vaccines into the country by the millions for the provinces, for the territories and for all Canadians. This is a competitive environment and we will continue operating in it for all Canadians.

Public Safety

    Mr. Speaker, recently I spoke with the CBSA union president and he advised me that 540 border agents and staff at the Windsor-Detroit border did not have access to vaccines. This jeopardizes the health of those front-line workers. Further, an outbreak could shut down the busiest border crossing in North America and threaten our already fragile supply chain, another glaring example of the Liberals' failed vaccine program.
    When will the minister take action to provide vaccines to these essential workers?
    Mr. Speaker, I share the concern that our border service officers, who have done an extraordinary job throughout this pandemic and are doing important work to keep Canadians safe, should be prioritized for vaccinations. That is why we have reached out to the provincial health authorities in the provinces right across the country, and all those provinces have responded. We have just heard quite recently that Ontario is beginning to prioritize those workers as well, and we are glad to see that step is now taking place.
     Those people should be vaccinated. They do important work for Canadians and we are glad that the provinces are doing the job of providing the vaccinates to them on the basis of priority.

[Translation]

Agriculture and Agri-Food

     Mr. Speaker, in the spring of 2020, the rate of livestock slaughter slowed considerably.
    This has forced producers to keep their animals longer and has resulted in significant additional costs for them. Our government is committed to supporting the agricultural industry by helping to maintain and adapt financial tools for agricultural risk management to cope with climate change and market conditions.
    Can the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food tell us about the measures that have been implemented in Quebec in that regard?
    Mr. Speaker, a few days ago, I announced, jointly with the Quebec minister of agriculture, fisheries and food, the creation of the Canada-Quebec livestock assistance initiative under the agrirecovery program to provide financial support to the cattle, pig and large game industries.
    A total of $21.8 million will help to mitigate the costs associated with keeping animals on the farm because of processing slowdowns, as well as the costs associated with ensuring animal welfare and our food security.

[English]

Public Safety

    Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness has suggested that his ill-conceived firearms buyback program will cost between $300 million and $400 million. He has suggested that they are expecting to buy back roughly 150,000 to 200,000 firearms. Many of the firearms that the Liberals arbitrarily selected for their ban were non-restricted, such as firearms typically used for hunting or around the farm.
    What data was used by the minister to determine the cost and scope of his buyback?

  (1505)  

    Mr. Speaker, we promised Canadians that we would strengthen gun control to keep Canadians safe, while the Conservatives obviously promised the gun lobby that they would weaken gun control. That is why we brought forward measures last May to prohibit weapons that had no place in society.
     We are working now with legislation introduced through Bill C-21 to make sure that none of those weapons can ever be traded, sold or used in Canada again. Those measures are necessary and strongly supported right across the country. That is the right thing to do to keep Canadians safe.
    Mr. Speaker, that is an answer to a question, but it was not an answer to my question.
    Many experts anticipate that this buyback is going to be a multi-billion dollar boondoggle that does not have any meaningful impact on public safety. We have seen this before from the Liberals. Unfortunately, for law-abiding firearms owners, the government cares about pushing its ideology and not about taking concrete steps to actually address public safety.
    What data did the Liberal government rely on when determining how many individuals would likely participate in their buyback program?
    Mr. Speaker, the member's question gives me an opportunity to remind him that the majority of these weapons were, in fact, registered because they were restricted, but we know that many of them were not. There is no gun registry in the country. It is one of the reasons in the legislation we have brought forward that we will require people who are in possession of these now prohibited weapons to register them properly, so we can have a precise calculation of where these guns are.
     It is also equally important to acknowledge that these are weapons that are not used for hunting or sport purposes. They are used as tactical weapons to kill people. That is why they have no place in our country, and we are removing them.

Public Services and Procurement

    Mr. Speaker, during our international trade committee meeting, I was appalled to hear from our life sciences industry about the lack of consultation and coordination by the Liberal government.
     As the pandemic began and worsened, contracts worth millions of dollars were signed outside Canada, while turning a blind eye to our local vaccine manufacturers.
     Will the government admit that it ignored our local vaccine manufacturers, that we have a shortage of vaccine supply and that, as a result, we are now in this third wave?
    Mr. Speaker, my colleague is a member for whom I have enormous respect, but what he said could not be further from the truth. We, indeed, have invested more than $1 billion. What we should celebrate today is that in the budget that was presented yesterday by the Minister of Finance, and as she just said, we are investing an additional $2.2 billion in biomanufacturing. We know there is a lot of talent in Canada. We know there is a lot of expertise in Canada. We are going to continue to invest in made-in-Canada solutions to protect the health and safety of Canadians.
    Mr. Speaker, as we enter the third wave of the pandemic, tremendous advances have been made in the past 12 months with the creation and distribution of vaccines. Our government has worked tirelessly to procure and distribute millions of doses of vaccines.
    In my home province of British Columbia, residents as young as 40 years old are eligible to book their appointments. Provinces across the country are also ramping up their vaccine rollout as we speak. We are well on our way to getting vaccines into the arms of all Canadians who wish to receive one.
    Could the minister please update the House on the percentage of Canadians who have received vaccines to date and the progress of procurement for future shipments to ensure health care systems across the—
    The hon. minister.
    Mr. Speaker, I am thrilled to say that just over 24% of Canadians have received at least one dose of vaccine.
     In a very competitive global environment, where every country is struggling to receive the same product, we have accelerated the delivery of approximately 22 million vaccines to arrive in an earlier quarter. In the first quarter, we received 3.5 million more doses of vaccine than originally targeted. We are on track to receive nearly 50 million doses by the end of Q2. We will not stop until all Canadians have access to vaccines.

  (1510)  

Pharmacare

    Mr. Speaker, yesterday's budget was an opportunity to strengthen our health care system for people across the country. However, the Liberals, once again, failed to deliver pharmacare for Canadians and ignored their own advisory committee's recommendations and timelines. Their choice will continue to leave millions of Canadians without access to the life-saving medications they need.
    The Liberals have been promising pharmacare for decades, and breaking their promises for just as long. If a pandemic has not shown them the importance of national, universal, public drug coverage, what will?
    Mr. Speaker, our government is committed to continuing working with provinces and territories toward the goal of a universal national pharmacare program. To maintain momentum, we will proceed with our plan to provide ongoing funding of $500 million for a program for high-cost drugs for rare diseases.

Canada Post

    Mr. Speaker, members of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers discussed the lack of adherence to public health guidelines at their facility in my riding and warned of an impending outbreak. Last Friday, I was notified that nine workers tested positive, with one worker on a ventilator. This is a grave concern for workers across Canada.
    Could the Minister of Public Services and Procurement advise what actions are being taken to protect the front-line workers at the Canada Post facility in my riding and across Canada?
    Mr. Speaker, Canada Post's top priority is keeping its employees and Canadian communities safe, while continuing to deliver the services on which Canadians rely. Canada Post is taking essential safety measures, such as providing hand sanitizer for all customers and requiring the use of face coverings by employees, contractors, customers and visitors into Canada Post facilities.
    Canada Post is following the advice of the Public Health Agency of Canada and is providing rapid voluntary on-site testing to all employees and contractors in facilities of concern. We will continue to support the essential workers of Canada Post as they navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.

Privilege

Alleged Premature Disclosure of Private Member's Bill  

[Privilege]
    Mr. Speaker, I rise on a question of privilege concerning the premature disclosure of the contents of Bill C-288, an act to amend the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act. This bill is sponsored by the member for Sudbury.
    On Sunday, April 18, 2021, the Toronto Star posted an article entitled “Liberal MP's bill aims to keep turmoil at Laurentian University from happening at other schools”. The member is quoted in the article disclosing the contents of his bill. The problem is that the bill, which was on notice at the time the article was published, was not introduced until Monday, April 19, 2021. The article attributes several statements to the member for Sudbury. The article says:
    “I’m going to add post-secondary institutions to the exemptions for institutions that cannot avail themselves of CCAA protection. It’s as simple as that,” [the member stated], referring to the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act, which allows for court protection during financial restructuring....
    The article also quotes the member as saying:
    “This includes additional financial support from our CCAA lender in order to continue to operate as Laurentian implements its plans to position the university for long-term sustainability and a basis for recovery for its creditors and stakeholders.”
    On March 10, 2020, the Speaker, ruled a prima facie case of privilege following the premature disclosure of the contents of Bill C-7, an act to amend the Criminal Code (medical assistance in dying). The Speaker said:
...based on a reading of the Canadian Press article on Bill C-7 on medical assistance in dying, and in the absence of any explanation to the contrary, I must conclude that the anonymous sources mentioned were well aware of our customs and practices and chose to ignore them. It seems clear to me that the content of the bill was disclosed prematurely while it was on notice and before it was introduced in the House....
    The rule on the confidentiality of bills on notice exists to ensure that members, in their role as legislators, are the first to know their content when they are introduced. Although it is completely legitimate to carry out consultations when developing a bill or to announce one’s intention to introduce a bill by referring to its public title available on the Notice Paper and Order Paper, it is forbidden to reveal specific measures contained in a bill at the time it is put on notice.
    On April 19, 2016, the Speaker, in finding a prima facie case of privilege regarding the premature disclosure of contents of Bill C-14, an act to amend the Criminal Code and to make related amendments to other acts (medical assistance in dying), stated:
    As honourable members know, one of my most important responsibilities as Speaker is to safeguard the rights and privileges of members, individually and collectively. Central to the matter before us today is the fact that, due to its pre-eminent role in the legislative process, the House cannot allow precise legislative information to be distributed to others before it has been made accessible to all members. Previous Speakers have regularly upheld not only this fundamental right, but also expectation, of the House.
    Another question of privilege was raised on March 19, 2001, regarding a similar matter. Speaker Milliken, on page 1840 of the House of Commons debates, supported this principle and said:
    In preparing legislation, the government may wish to hold extensive consultations and such consultations may be held entirely at the government's discretion. However, with respect to material to be placed before parliament, the House must take precedence. Once a bill has been placed on notice, whether it has been presented in a different form to a different session of parliament has no bearing and the bill is considered a new matter. The convention of the confidentiality of bills on notice is necessary, not only so that members themselves may be well informed, but also because of the pre-eminent rule which the House plays and must play in the legislative affairs of the nation.
    In addition, there was another case of contempt on October 15, 2001, where the Department of Justice briefed the media on the contents of a bill prior to the legislation being introduced in the House.
    Given the contents of the article, and that it was published before Bill C-288, an act to amend the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act, was introduced in the House, I ask that you find a prima facie case of privilege. I am prepared to move the appropriate motion.

  (1515)  

    I would like to thank the hon. member. I will take it under consideration and return with a ruling.
    The hon. member for Kingston and the Islands is rising on a point of order.
    Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Before you rule on this, I would ask that you provide a little time, so we could come back to the House and provide some feedback on it as well. We will do that as soon as possible.
    I just want to indicate to the Speaker that I have had discussions in the past in which there was a general lack of knowledge in regard to private members' bills and the need to keep them secret until they are introduced. I would be very surprised if this situation were unique. It may be worth having the Speaker's office invest a little time in looking at how members, particularly those who are introducing a private member's bill, are informed of their responsibilities.
    In other words, this may have been done accidentally, and it might have actually happened on several occasions. It would be worthwhile to look into it.

  (1520)  

    I want to thank the hon. member for his input.

[Translation]

    The hon. member for Trois-Rivières on a point of order.
    Mr. Speaker, I just want to point out there has been no French interpretation since the previous intervention.
    We are having technical difficulties related to broadcasting. It is not an interpretation issue. I recommend that members restart their computers to install the updates.
    I had the same problem with the sound breaking up this morning during a virtual meeting. Installing the updates fixed the problem. I am not a technician, but it worked.

[English]

    I will speak in English to see if the translation is going through. Is that working?
    The translation is now coming across.

Government Orders

[Government Orders]

  (1525)  

[English]

The Budget

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance  

    The House resumed consideration of the motion that this House approve in general the budgetary policy of the government.
    As the member of Parliament for Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook, it gives me great pleasure to speak on budget 2021.
     This budget is focused on finishing the fight with COVID. It is also focused on creating jobs and building back better. However, we have to understand that COVID has affected people differently. It has disproportionately affected low-income workers, young people, women, racialized Canadians and certain business sectors. Those groups were kept in mind as we were framing budget 2021.
    Here in Nova Scotia, with this budget, we see increases in certain key areas to support our communities. For example, we see some increases in equalization payments and in the Canada health transfer, which is so important. As members know, health care is the number one priority for Nova Scotians, as well as the social transfers.
    We invested $19 billion in the restart agreement, as well as a safe return to class fund, which I made an announcement on last week for open, outdoor space in schools for students. We also invested in the essential workers support fund and, for our communities, we have $500 million toward community infrastructure that will see local projects stimulated and local jobs created, improving the quality of life for Nova Scotians and all Canadians. As well, there are investments in tourism and for small craft harbours in the fisheries area.
    A big item that we have been pushing for a number of years now, and which my colleague, the MP for Cape Breton—Canso, brought forward as a private member's bill, is the EI sickness benefit. It was at 15 weeks, which we knew was not enough, so with this budget we moved it to 26 weeks. This will help 169,000 Canadians to have more flexibility to recover and return to work. The Canadian Cancer Society said, “The 2021 Federal budget delivers a much-needed extension of the Employment Insurance (EI) Sickness Benefit to support people facing the financial burden that comes with a cancer diagnosis”.
    I want to touch on the extremely important issue of the fundamental and historic investment in child care benefits. As members know, I am a former educator, and I know how important early learning is for all Canadians. This historic investment will drive growth in our economy with the increased participation of women in the workforce. It will offer, of course, good care for our young people. This plan will see a reduction in the cost of day care for parents of up to 50% by 2022, and the goal is to have it at $10 per day on average by 2026. The Nova Scotia Federation of Labour said that this is a “big win for unions with $10-a-day child care with the federal budget.” It is an impressive investment. This is major for our country.
    I also want to touch on the investments for seniors. We know that seniors have had tremendous difficulty throughout this pandemic, and they have been isolated. We have noticed a gap in long-term care, and we have lost many of our seniors who were in long-term care. We are investing $3 billion not only to establish standards but to apply those standards and make them permanent, which is extremely important. We will move forward on that.
    Prior to the budget, we committed to an increase in old age security for those aged 75 years and older. We will see an immediate benefit of $500 take place in August. Ongoing, in the next year, they will get a 10% increase in their old age pension. These investments are so crucial for our seniors, and represent 3.3 million seniors who will each receive an additional $766.

  (1530)  

    As the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Veterans Affairs, I can say there have been some big investments for veterans as well. We invested $192 million to help with the backlog of disability claims. We also invested $20 million in the COVID stream to help veterans' organizations. However, in 2021, there are more investments for veterans. There is $50 million over three years to enhance the veteran and family well-being fund. That is over and above the $3 million the fund is receiving per year, so it will be $8 million per year for the next three years. Organizations and individuals that help veterans and their families will be able to apply for those funds. VETS Canada said, “As a recipient under the veteran and family well-being fund, we know first-hand the importance of this investment.”
    We have also invested $140 million over five years for those who have challenges with PTSD, depression or anxiety disorders. While they are waiting for their benefits through disability applications, they will be able to access mental health supports. Finally, veteran homelessness is extremely important. There is a $45-million investment in a pilot program to support veterans through rent supplements and wraparound services such as counselling, addiction treatment and finding jobs.
    We have invested once again in young Canadians. The Canadian Alliance of Student Associations said, “The package will bring significant relief to students from coast to coast to coast who have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. From investments in Canada Student Grants, extending the waiver on accrual of student loan interest, to investments in jobs for students and more, we are glad to know that the Government of Canada is listening to the needs and concerns of students during this [pandemic].”
    Talking now about our small and medium-sized businesses, we are extending successful programs such as the Canada emergency wage subsidy, the rent subsidy and the Canada emergency business account. They are major investments that we will be continuing. There will also be a reduction in credit card transaction fees. We have been talking about that for years and it is getting done. We will lower the cost of interchange fees for merchants and also ensure that small businesses benefit from pricing that is similar to large businesses.
    On the green economy, continuing on the fall economic statement, we will be helping homeowners with home retrofits through interest-free loans of up to $40,000. This could see investment in replacing low-efficiency heating systems with high-efficiency furnaces, high-efficiency heat pumps, etc. We are also looking at net-zero accelerators, a $5-billion investment over seven years to support our climate plan, and projects that will help reduce domestic greenhouse gases. There are investments as well in 2021 that propose to reduce 50% of the general corporate and small business income tax rate for businesses and manufacturers. Those are big investments.
    As the member of Parliament for Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook, which has the oldest intergenerational Black community in Canada, we are investing once again to support Black communities. We know they have been disadvantaged in the past and continue to be. They have low-income households and we need to continue to support them. We are investing $200 million to establish a new Black-led philanthropic endowment fund, as well as $100 million in supports for capacity building and Black-led non-profit organizations. These are investments that will help support our communities as we move forward.
    I want to talk about our financial plan as well.

  (1535)  

    It will have to be during questions and comments.
    Questions and comments, the hon. member for South Okanagan—West Kootenay.
     Madam Speaker, I am glad the member mentioned how low-income Canadians have been disproportionately hit by this pandemic and that this budget punishes them by bringing the CERB payments down from $2,000 to $1,200 a month. That is $800 a month less. The Liberals missed this opportunity to let the super wealthy people in Canada pay their fair share by not bringing in a wealth tax: 80% of Canadians want a wealth tax here so the wealthy can pay their fair share.
    Why are the Liberals so afraid to bring in a wealth tax and let the super rich pay their fair share?

  (1540)  

    Madam Speaker, I would like to begin by saying that the national child care framework investment, down to $10 by 2026, will be a great help to low-income Canadians.
    We have made some very important moves on the tax front. We will put forward a luxury tax. Moving forward, we will also take steps on tax evasion. Finally, we will tax non-residents' properties here in Canada. Those are big steps to move forward with on that important agenda.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I would like to talk about the environment.
    A quick scan of the budget reveals that it could lead to increased pollution in Canada. I say that because the money being proposed could be used to support untested technologies. I am talking about hydrogen technology, carbon capture and small modular reactors.
    The parliamentary secretary's speech did not get into it that much, but could he elaborate on this? I am sure he has some thoughts about our concerns that the money could be used for technologies that, in fact, would lead us to generate even more greenhouse gases.
    Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for the question.
    The environment is certainly extremely important to our government. We have taken very important measures since we came to power. We have made direct and targeted investments in renovation projects and green technologies.
    We know that this environmental stimulus will further benefit Canada and allow it to meet its targets.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I am wondering if my colleague could provide his thoughts on how the budget is extending into September the different emergency recovery programs we put in place to protect Canadians, to be there for Canadians and protect small businesses.
    Could he also provide his thoughts on the many initiatives that will assist us in ultimately being able to build back better?
    Madam Speaker, this budget comes in by directly supporting people. We have heard the challenges out there. We are still in the third wave. We need to continue to invest in Canada. We have continued investment in the Canada emergency wage subsidy, the Canada emergency business account, and the rent subsidy. Those are very important investments that are needed. I talked to my constituents and I am talking to the business community. The wage subsidy will help tremendously. These are important steps to help people survive as we are moving through hopefully the last phase of COVID-19.
    Madam Speaker, I want to start by acknowledging that I am speaking to you virtually in the House of Commons from my home in Toronto, which is on the traditional territory of the Haudenosaunee, the Huron-Wendat, the Anishinabe and most recently the Mississaugas of the Credit.
    I want to acknowledge that I am speaking about budget 2021, which is a historic budget, tabled in a historic manner by Canada's first-ever female finance minister.
    What a budget it is. It canvasses a wide number of areas. I propose to go through some of them, but not all of them, because there are so many supports literally contained therein.
    I am going to pick up on the environment, which is the subject that my colleague from Nova Scotia just left off on. We know, as a government and as a party, that climate change is real. We have taken serious measures to act on climate change during the course of our tenure as government over these past almost six years now.
    So far we have invested nearly $60 billion, which has been added to with this current budget. What the budget allows us to do is get to a path whereby GHG emissions would be reduced by as much as 36% based on the 2005 levels. I outline this number right at the outset because we heard a lot of criticism, sometimes very constructive criticism, by opposition parliamentarians and others that we need to set targets that are more ambitious, particularly more ambitious than the Harper Conservative government we succeeded. We have done that by setting targets of around 32% this past December, and we are now setting a path to get to 36% in reductions and get to net-zero by 2050, which is really critical.
    We are doing that by increasing the dollars we are putting in. There is $15 billion of new money that was allocated at the end of December 2020. In the most recent budget, there is an additional $17.6 billion dedicated toward the green recovery. In particular, I want to highlight one other feature, which is the net-zero accelerator. What that does is allow companies to invest in how they can reduce their own greenhouse gas emissions. We put $3 billion into that accelerator in last December's announcement made by the minister and the Prime Minister, and we are adding another $5 billion in this announcement.
    On top of all that, there is also money put in place to help us achieve our land and marine conservation targets of 25% of areas by 2025.
    That is simply on the environmental piece.
    The budget also outlines, again reaffirming our commitment to continue to escalate the price on carbon pollution, the climate action incentive rebate, which will continue to go to Canadians, not just on an annual basis, but on a quarterly basis, which is really important to underscore, given that the official opposition's bright idea on climate is to eliminate such rebates.
    The next subject is housing. I start with these two subjects because I represent the constituents of Parkdale—High Park, and they talk to me all the time about progressive policies on issues that affect them and this part of Toronto. Climate and housing are at the top of the agenda in almost all conversations I have with my constituents. I am pleased to say that not only is this budget responding to the concerns of my constituents that I have advocated for with the Minister of Finance and the Prime Minister with respect to the environment, but also housing concerns.
    How is the budget doing that? We are planning to invest an additional $2.5 billion in housing. What does that $2.5 billion look like? It is an additional $1.5 billion for the rapid housing initiative. This has landed with resounding success around the country, particularly in the city of Toronto, because it allows us to build housing and build it quickly so we actually meet the very short supply of affordable housing in cities like mine. Because of the resounding success of the rapid housing initiative over the last several months, we have decided we are going to commit to expanding it by $1.5 billion, which would allow us to have 4,500 new units, 25% of which will be dedicated for women, which is an important piece. There is also $600 million dedicated toward an affordable housing innovation fund, which will bring the total new units to over 30,000. An additional $300 million will be dedicated to the Canada housing benefit to increase things like direct financial assistance to women and children who are fleeing violence.
    These are all critical initiatives, not just for my constituents in Parkdale—High Park, but indeed for all people in Canada, and they should be priorities for all parliamentarians.

  (1545)  

    There is $1.3 billion that is being reallocated to speed up the construction, support and repair of units. There is money that is being put in place to ensure that vacant properties will be taxed when they are owned by non-resident non-Canadians. I insert this here because it relates to housing, but also because in the course of following today's debate, I have heard repeatedly that there do not seem to be enough initiatives targeted at those who are living luxuriously, those who are very affluent or rich. This, in fact, is targeting exactly those individuals, and I highlight it for that reason.
    There is another key component that we have seen COVID has exacerbated. Many of us are working from home right now, and that trend will continue even as we exit out of this pandemic. That has liberated office space in cities like mine, Toronto. What we propose in the budget is to support the conversion of some of that empty office space into affordable housing, and that is exactly what we will do with this budget.
    The next subject I want to touch upon is really the flagship policy that is in this budget, and we heard the Minister of Finance articulate this quite clearly. She talked about the fact that child care has arisen as an issue that has climbed to the forefront. I say this painfully aware of my gender and of the fact that it is men like me who have all of a sudden been sensitized to this priority during this pandemic. I am a man who has his kids at home as we speak right now. They are about 15 feet away from me going through online schooling, etc. Men like me have been challenged over these past 15 months, and that is a good thing because it has raised awareness about the importance of giving some momentum to the call for child care.
    Yes, this is a 50-year-old call. We heard the Minister of Finance articulate that, but what she also articulated very clearly is that this is not just a women's policy; this is an economic policy. It is an infrastructure policy that is indifferent to building roads or transit. By empowering child care, what we will do is unleash economic potential. That potential is something in the order of 250,000 women, most likely women because women still bear the predominant burden of child care, who will be liberated and emancipated so that they can participate more fully in the economy. That is an incredible statistic, joined by another incredible statistic, which is the $30-billion investment we are putting on the table to ensure that this becomes a reality.
    There are naysayers who say Liberals have committed to this in the past and it has not come to fruition. Never before has this kind of dollar amount been allocated. I would remind my fellow members of Parliament that Liberals came close to getting this across the finish line under Paul Martin and Ken Dryden's tenure, circa 2005. That was a minority Parliament that saw a universal child care plan actually defeated, unfortunately, which led us to nine years of Stephen Harper's Conservatives. I am very hopeful that we do not see a repeat of that kind of history, and instead, in this minority Parliament, we can see this important goal get across the finish line.
    What would it mean? It would mean a 50% reduction in child care costs as early as the end of next year, and getting child care costs to literally $10 a day by 2025.
    In these last two minutes, I want to canvass some of the proposals that deal with systemic racism and systemic discrimination, a subject near and dear to my heart as a person of colour and somebody who believes in human rights and equality. The budget would be transformative for Black entrepreneurs, for Black business owners, for indigenous persons who want a firmer commitment to reconciliation and curing overrepresentation. What the budget would do is make real those commitments, which have come to the fore in what we have seen during this pandemic.
    I will highlight a few additional initiatives. There is more money in the budget, around $26 million, for immigration and refugee legal aid that affects people of colour. There is $21 million for a specific racialized communities legal support fund that will get public legal education into the hands of racialized people. There is diversity in procurement, which we have never seen outlined in a budget before. I want to give a shout-out to the member for Whitby for all the work he has done on this file, and the Minister of Public Services and Procurement for getting behind this idea where we will actually target procurement measures that help indigenous and Black businesses, which is critical. There is money for disaggregated data, so we understand the true nature of the problem, and there is $74 million for an indigenous justice strategy.
    I cannot get to all of the measures that I wanted to highlight, but there are a lot of supports for a lot of different needy sectors of the economy: low-wage workers, small businesses, people who work in arts and culture, many of whom are my constituents. These are programs that I believe in. They will cost money, but the time is now to invest in Canadians and invest in building back better. To the question of whether we can afford this, I say very firmly that we cannot afford not to do this.

  (1550)  

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, the election budget that the Minister of Finance presented yesterday is missing three things that were in the minister's mandate letter: avoid creating new permanent spending, review the debt management strategy and present a new fiscal anchor.
    Could my colleague tell me what is meant by the term “fiscal guardrails” in the budget presented yesterday? Is this term meant to be the same thing as the new fiscal anchor mentioned in the Minister of Finance's mandate letter?

  (1555)  

    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question. I will do my best to answer in French.
    With respect to the Minister of Finance's mandate letter, all I can do is repeat what the minister herself said today during question period.

[English]

    We will reduce the debt-to-GDP ratio so that it reaches below 50%. Also, what we have targeted is a deficit that will hit just over 1% of GDP by 2025. What is important is that while some of the program spending is meant to be long-term, the large majority of it is for a three-year period, which is exactly what we committed to in the fall economic statement, and we are staying true to those words by targeting the bulk of the spending for the next three years only.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, my colleague ended his speech by saying we cannot afford to do nothing. Why did his government decide to do nothing about non-COVID-19 patients? Over the next 10 years, they will become the major victims of the pandemic.
    To give just one example, does he know that in gastroenterology there are currently 110,000 patients waiting for testing and treatment of colorectal and colon cancer, and 70,000 of them are overdue for these procedures because they have been postponed in order to treat COVID-19 patients?
    We know that a four-week delay increases the mortality rate from 6% to 8%, and therefore how can his government have made the political choice to not immediately increase health transfers, which would provide treatment for these people?
    Madam Speaker, I thank the member for Montcalm for his question.
    This question has already been asked several times during today's debate. It is not true at all that we are not there to help the provincial health systems. We are there to provide support for mental health and funding for long-term care facilities.

[English]

    We are also there in terms of the previous investments we have made for health care in terms of the safe restart agreement and other allocations we have made for care for elderly and for home care, which is important—

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I am rising on a point of order because there is no interpretation. I want to make sure that I hear my colleague's answer.
    The interpretation is working now.
    The hon. parliamentary secretary has 15 seconds left.
     I was saying that we are there to provide support for mental health and long-term care facilities for seniors. We are working with the provinces to meet their health care needs.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I thank the member for Parkdale—High Park for his tip on pinning the Speaker. He and I have always worked for [Technical difficulty—Editor] in this Parliament.
    Let me reassure the member that New Democrats know that a budget is a confidence question, and we have reassured Canadians that we will not force them into an election in this third wave of the pandemic. That is why I am quite disappointed that the Liberals have put some things in this budget that they know New Democrats would not normally support.
    Does the member actually support cutting the emergency benefit by 40%? I have many people in my riding who work in the tourism industry. The tourism season is not coming back this year, for the second year in a row, and they are forced to depend on that emergency benefit. It is going to go from $2,000 a month to $1,200. How are they expected to survive on that pittance?
    Madam Speaker, what is important is that the benefits are continuing all the way to September 25, but they are doing so on a sliding scale. The phase-out is an important aspect in terms of addressing people's needs as they decrease. I would reassure the member that we have been dynamic in our responses to the pandemic thus far, and we will continue to be dynamic as the case requires.

  (1600)  

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, today, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Carleton.

[English]

    Before I start a real speech, I want to talk about the basics, because the basics are sometimes lost. Seeing yesterday's budget, a lot of basics were lost. However, let us start with the definition of budget.
    A budget is an estimation of revenue and expenses over a specified future period of time and is usually compiled and re-evaluated on a periodic basis. To manage expenses, prepare for unpredictable events and to be able to afford big ticket items without going into debt, budgeting is important. Keeping track of how much we earn and spend does not have to be drudgery, it does not require us to be good at math and it does not mean we cannot buy the things we want. It just means we will know where our money goes and we will have greater control over one's finances. Aside from earmarking resources, a budget can also aid in setting goals, measuring outcomes and planning for contingencies.
    A budget deficit occurs when expenses exceed revenue and indicate the financial health of a country. Accrued deficits form national debt. In cases where a budget deficit is identified, current expenses exceed the amount of income received through standard operations. A nation wishing to correct its budget deficit may need to cut back on certain expenditures, increase revenue-generating activities or employ a combination of the two. Certain unanticipated events and policies may cause budget deficits.
     One of the primary dangers of a budget deficit is inflation, which is the continuous increase of price levels. Continued budget deficits can lead to inflationary monetary policies year after year. A nation can print additional currency to cover payments on debts by issuing securities such as treasury bills and bonds. While this provides a mechanism to make payments, it does carry the risk of devaluing the nation's currency, which can lead to hyperinflation.
    Why do governments run deficits? A budget deficit planned to be this large is based on two things: tolerance from taxpayers and financial institutions that bear the risk and the notion of not having to pay back temporary support mechanisms. In effect, leading up to a federal election, the government does not want to take away the sugar bowl, but there is guaranteed to be a hangover from this sugar high.
    The national debt is simply the net accumulation of the federal government's annual budget deficits. It is the total amount of money the federal government owes to its creditors, and that amount has gone from $700 billion two years ago approximately to $1.2 trillion at this point.
    Debt-to-GDP is a ratio of a country's national debt to the level of economic activity in that country. It is a meaningless ratio put in place at a time when the world's central bankers could no longer find the tools to balance national budgets. The concept of permanent national debt, permanently paying institutions with taxpayer funds, became accepted by the world's bankers both private and public. The concept upended the very notion of Keynesianism, where governments were encouraged to spend in bad times and repay that spending in good times, thus maintaining an equilibrium in labour and price levels in society.
    It was also a measure of comparing bad fiscal regimes with other bad fiscal regimes, as in, we are in bad shape, but as a function of our GDP, we are not in as bad shape as those other guys, which is a ridiculous point, given every national economy and democratic and financial structure are different.

[Translation]

    This strategy can be summed up by the idea that there is always someone who is worse off than we are.

[English]

    Companies have debt-to-revenue multiple. It is about the equivalent. However, these entities deliver value to the shareholders by maintaining a balance of risk, as in too much debt and interest payments, and return. In addition, companies can expense debt before calculating taxes, the amount they owe the government for their profits.
    Do governments pay taxes and have a favourable application of carrying debt on their balance sheets? No. It is only a burden transferred from today's taxpayers to tomorrow's taxpayers, or in the Liberal government's approach, when things really go south down the road and then in a huge problem scenario. The risk borne here is multiplying and the bearers of that risk are future taxpayers.
    Moral hazard exists when a party to a contract takes risks without having to suffer the consequences.
    On “build back better”, it turns out that build back better is not a political slogan; it refers to the official Sendai framework of disaster recovery that was adopted at the UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai, Japan in 2015. This definition is broad enough to cover any disaster scenario; build back better from which disaster in Canada, which brings us to yesterday's budget announcement.

  (1605)  

    The good news is that Canada's forecast annual deficit for last year improved by $35 billion from the fall economic statement. Those extra funds arrived in taxation revenue from businesses restarting mid-pandemic and Canadians getting back to work to pay government taxes, much that arrived from Canada's traditional strengths of mining, energy, agriculture and manufacturing, essential industries keeping the rest of the country fed, warm and solvent. I am sure the Minister of Finance should be taking credit for a million jobs coming back to Canada, given those are results that have already arrived.
    Last year's deficit number is $354 billion for one level of government, the federal government, whose annual revenue is usually about that amount. This means that $2 were spent for every dollar brought in, that is in a normal year, but even more from a year when government revenues were down by around 8% to deal with the health and economic effects of a historic pandemic. To build back better and to reimagine Canada's economy, these empty slogans represent nothing but political jingo-ism.
    Canada's deficit in 2019 of $27 billion in a $2.3 trillion economy was about 8.3% of government revenues. In an economic boom, Canada was overspending by 8.3%.
     This is the rationale from the Liberal Prime Minister about running deficits in boom times. On March 21, 2016, he said in the House:
    Mr. Speaker, record low levels of interest rates right now mean that this is an opportunity to invest in our future...This is what we are delivering to grow the economy and help the middle class.
    By contrast, in this year's budget announcement, the Minister of Finance said:
    The best way to pay our debts is to grow our economy....In fact, in today's low-interest rate environment, not only can we afford these investments, it would be shortsighted of us not to make them.
    By “investments”, of course, she means government spending. Those two are clearly at odds, but it is obvious that neither the Prime Minister nor the finance minister understand the notion of financial risk. Clearly, the Liberal government will justify spending taxpayer funds in good times, and spending taxpayer funds in hard times. It begs the question, what times are not good for overspending taxpayer funds?
    The forecast budget deficit for this fiscal year coming, according to yesterday's budget, is $154.7 billion. That is almost $50 billion higher than forecast in the fall economic statement despite last year's revenues out performing by $35 billion since the fall. Planned spending represents an increase of $136 billion over the next five years in addition to the $548 billion in spending forecasts in the fall economic statement. How is this justified? These deficits accumulate to an ongoing debt-to-GDP ratio at 50% going forward, so the plan, the fiscal anchor, is to maintain Canada's debt at half the size of our economy for the foreseeable future. Is that an anchor? The better our economy performs the deeper in debt we get to go?
    We say in finance that every economic forecast is wrong from the moment it is written, and rightly so. Things change and getting close based on discipline and unforeseen extraneous events coming at people spells success. There is none of that in this budget. There is no security for our children. There is multiplying risk. It is our job to leave the country in better shape than we found it. Fiscally and in so many other ways we are failing.
    What is right about the budget?
    The Minister of Finance spoke about taxing foreign owners of unoccupied real estate in Canada, part of our made-in-Canada housing bubble, but also a hole in our money laundering laws in Canada, which are the loosest in the G7. They need to be tighter.
     I am pleased that the Minister of Finance has followed our lead in applying an investment tax credit on carbon credit utilization and storage, one of —

  (1610)  

    Questions and comments, the hon. member for Kingston and the Islands.
    Madam Speaker, I am not sure what carbon credit utilization is, but the Conservative plan to price pollution is one that will only give benefit to those who pollute. In fact, it encourages people to pollute.
    I know the member for Carleton has spent a lot of time talking about the price on pollution. I admire my Conservative colleagues' willingness to come in here to try to defend such a plan after five years of talking about how a price on pollution was not the right way to go. Now they have this grand plan of putting people's money into a savings account and then letting them choose from the CPC boutique what they would like to spend.
    The reality is that is not a plan to fight pollution. That is not a plan to price carbon. That is the Conservatives trying to give to people who are wealthy and have money to ensure they can keep the money in their pockets rather than ensuring we take all the funds and distribute them equally, as we are currently doing.
    Madam Speaker, I thank the member for Kingston and the Islands for pointing out my stumble.
    I am pleased that the Minister of Finance has followed our lead in applying an investment tax credit for carbon capture utilization and storage, one of Canada's most tangible opportunities to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. A 90-day consultation period has been announced. I encourage the government to consider the benefits associated with enhanced oil recovery as part of that strategy, as it is in the United States, and to move toward an environmental strategy that halts the flow of jobs and investments, including technological advances like carbon capture, to foreign jurisdictions, with no positive effect on the environment.
    Canada needs regulatory certainty, particularly regarding our environmental objectives. Having a carbon capture strategy that moves jobs and investment to our largest trading partner is not a viable environmental strategy for Canada. I encourage the Minister of Finance to get this right so it actually results in effective policy.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech. I would like to hear what he has to say about the assistance for seniors in this budget.
    The government deliberately chose to create two classes of seniors by increasing the old age security pension starting at age 75 rather than at age 65. This is unfair to thousands of seniors across the country. The government has also chosen to send a single cheque for $500 at the end of the summer, which is a very strange time, possibly right before an election is called.
    Does my colleague think that the Liberals are playing politics at the expense of seniors in Quebec and Canada with these measures?

[English]

    Madam Speaker, it is strange, the timing of all the expenses that seem to be flowing out of the Liberals at this point in time and attaching themselves to the budget.
    There is something that we need to do for our seniors. The pandemic has exposed one thing, and that is how we have had a hole in the health treatment to our seniors to which we did not pay enough attention. Adjusting those structural problems going forward is fundamentally important. For a long time, seniors at all levels have required more support in our society. I am not sure the old age security is the best way to approach that, but it should be examined, with all the tools we have in our kit.
    Madam Speaker, it may surprise the hon. member for Calgary Centre that I also share his concern about continually running large deficits. I consider myself a Tommy Douglas New Democrat. Tommy ran 17 balanced budgets in his 17 years as premier.
     However, this is the situation in which we find ourselves. Canadians need help to get through the pandemic. Businesses need assistance to ensure they survive and can hire back their workers.
    We have two choices. We can either deny that assistance, which the Conservatives seem to favour, or we can put in place a tax on those who have made excess profits during the pandemic, the ultra-rich. We could restore corporate income tax rates to the levels from 30 years ago, which the Conservatives and Liberals both cut.
    Which is it? Do the Conservatives want to deny Canadians the aid they need to maintain a balanced budget? Are they prepared to join New Democrats in calling for a wealth and excess profits tax?

  (1615)  

    Madam Speaker, we were very much engaged with the government on the changes that we brought to it on the emergency wage subsidy. We were very happy it was able to deliver those to Canadians who needed those during the pandemic. We were quite proud that as a caucus and as a party we were able to deliver aid after the Liberals had initially put forward a package that—
    Resuming debate, the hon. member for Carleton.
    Madam Speaker, today is an occasion for us to pay a visit to the newly renewed popular idea called “modern” monetary theory. We put “modern” in quotation marks because it is a very old idea. It is thousands of years old, if the truth be told, but once again it is being presented as new.
    Modern monetary theory is the idea that governments can spend as much as they want, and to pay for it they simply print the cash. They create the money because, of course, the bank, which it owns, in our case the Bank of Canada, has a monopoly on the creation of that currency. Why not just create more money in order to spend it?
    The only limit on the amount that can be spent is when said money creation leads to inflation, at which point modern monetary theorists say the solution is to simply raise taxes to reduce the demand that was driving up the inflation in the first place. Once too much of that printed money starts chasing too few goods, the government taxes the money back and slows down the inflation. Effectively, it is a roundabout way to massively expand government up front while claiming there is no cost, and then, when prices spiral out of control, to try to tax them back into submission.
    The government and the finance minister claim they do not believe in modern monetary theory, but we have to suspect that the minister believes in some version of it because she has imposed literally no limit whatsoever on her spending in the form of a fiscal anchor. There is only one difference between her version of modern monetary theory and its original theorists. The original proponents said that banks should simply give the money to the government to spend, whereas under the current model the government has set up, the bank sells the debt to the marketplace and then buys it right back at a higher price only weeks later, to the great profit of the investors with whom it carried out that transaction.
    All of this sounds magical, as we are creating something from nothing, but as it has been said, there is nothing new except what is forgotten. To quote Reinhart and Rogoff, two Harvard professors who have studied 800 years of debt crises, “Early on across the world, as already noted, the main device for defaulting on government obligations was that of debasing the content of the coinage. Modern currency presses are just a technologically advanced and more efficient approach to achieving the same end.”
    Perhaps the most creative of all of the modern monetary theorists was an emperor named Dionysius, from 2,500 years ago. He thought it was a modern idea then too. He was the dictator of the city state of Syracuse, and of course because of all of his sumptuous living and his ridiculous war fighting, he needed cash. He took the drachmas from his people, and on every one-drachma coin he stamped the number two. Then all of a sudden he had twice as much money.
    The hon. member for Kingston and the Islands has a point of order.
    Madam Speaker, I just want to know if there is going to be a test on this history lesson afterward. Should I be expecting that to come when the member is done?
    That is hardly a point of order.
    The hon. member for Carleton.
    Madam Speaker, the test has been running for four years now, and the Liberals have been getting an F year after year after year.
    Dionysius gets an A for creativity. He took one-drachma coins and stamped them with the number two, and all of a sudden he had twice as much money. However, of course, all of the workers of his city state were earning half as much in real terms because everything costs twice as much when we double the amount of currency in circulation.
    Throughout the Napoleonic Wars, the exact same thing happened. The amount of silver in the average coin dropped by two-thirds during Napoleon's reign because all of the emperors and kings were trying to debase their coinage to fund their wars. Of course, their people became much poorer because their money did not go as far.
    The most recent and extreme case was that of Germany in the immediate aftermath of the First World War. After the war was done, there was 10 times as much paper currency in circulation as immediately before the war. The result was hyperinflation. People needed wheelbarrows to carry their cash off to the baker to buy just one loaf of bread. If someone went to the bar to get a beer, they ordered all of their evening's drinks at once, because if they waited even a few hours, the beer would be more expensive. It was a good investment to load up a table right when they got there, immediately after work, to save a fortune on inflation.
    We are told that such inflation will never happen here and that all of these things about printing money causing inflation amount to old thinking. Members should remember that history does not repeat itself, except that it is already repeating itself.
    Let us start with housing prices. From December 2019, the last month before COVID started to circulate in Canada, to March 2021, the average house went from $518,000 to $716,000. This is a massive 38% increase at a time when the economy dropped by $120 billion. The economy went down, but somehow housing prices went up.
    Lumber prices are up 118%. Here is a quote from a contractor: “Oh, it’s ridiculous. A 2×4 stud used to be $3.50; now they’re $9.80. A sheet of OSB plywood was $12 two years ago; now it’s $56 per sheet”.
    Here is a quote from an article in the Financial Post just yesterday, entitled “Central banks and government out of touch with Main Street when it comes to rising cost of living”: “the latest Canada’s Food Price Report shows that food costs increased 2.7 per cent last year with an expected 4.5 to 6.5 per cent increase in meat, 3.5 to 5.5 per cent in bakery, and 4.5 to 6.5 per cent in vegetables this year.” As for gas prices, they have gone from 78¢ a litre to $1.18 a litre.
    All of these things are rising vastly more than the Bank of Canada's target. There is something interesting about the Bank of Canada. I asked about the core rate of inflation when the governor of the bank appeared at the finance committee not so long ago. He told us not to worry about core inflation and that he only worries about CPI. Well, I will tell members something. I have a prediction: This month CPI will be way above the 2% target. I will make another prediction: The Bank of Canada will suddenly say not to worry about CPI and that they use core inflation. Whatever is lowest is the measurement they use.
    Here is the consequence of all of these numbers. When governments print money, they drive up the price of two things. One is the things that the rich own. The second is the things that everyone else buys. If someone is a millionaire mansion owner, they are getting extremely rich. Their house is making a lot more money than they are. They are sitting in their rocking chair and cash is just falling out of their attic onto their head. However, if someone is a working-class person who rents in order to have a roof overhead, their rent is going up, their cost of food is going up and their cost of gas is going up. Everything they buy is going up, except their wages are not and that dream of owning a house is getting further and further away because of asset price inflation.

  (1620)  

    What we have is a government that claims it is doing all of this deficit spending to help the less fortunate, but is actually carrying out one of the largest wealth transfers from the working class to the super rich, from the have-nots to the have-yachts, in Canadian history. The solution to this is to control the spending, unleash free-market production, replace the credit card economy with a paycheque economy and restore the principle of sound money so that the dollars people earn are worth what they are supposed to be worth and so that people get ahead through their labour and effort, not through their privilege and aristocracy.

  (1625)  

    Madam Speaker, this is interesting. We have learned through the pandemic that we needed to be there in a very real and tangible way for Canadians. That is why we came up with the emergency wage subsidy, the rent subsidy, the business account, the credit availability program and the CERB for over nine million Canadians, putting money in the pockets of people during a difficult time. If we had not done that, we would have had far more issues relating to bankruptcies, personal financial problems and all sorts of issues. Government made the decision to go ahead and spend the money that was necessary.
    Will the Conservatives come clean with Canadians and indicate clearly if they support those initiatives to have the backs of Canadians? If so, how can they honestly be critical of the fact that we needed to borrow money?
    Madam Speaker, I regret that the government made it necessary, through its mismanagement of the pandemic, to plunge so deeply into this deficit. It made it necessary by leaving the borders open and allowing 60,000 people to enter from China after the military had warned there was a pandemic brewing in that country. It made it necessary by failing to deliver rapid testing that could have allowed businesses to reopen months before they did. It is making it necessary now because it has failed to deliver vaccines that are widely available around the world. Just yesterday, images splashed across the Internet of pubs opening in London, England, of flights going back and forth seamlessly between New Zealand and Australia and of countries all around the world returning to normal with people returning to work, while here in Canada we are locked in our basements and terrified of a third wave that is the result of the government's failures. We wish it had not made these deficits necessary.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I thank the member for Carleton for that lesson in economics 101.
    I would have liked to hear his thoughts on health transfers, a topic the Liberals mostly ignored in this budget.
    What are my colleague's thoughts on that?
    Madam Speaker, I thank the member for her question.
    Once again, I can see that the Bloc Québécois wants the federal government to be more involved in the health sector. This is another example of how the Bloc Québécois often wants more federal intervention in areas under provincial jurisdiction.
    I think the provinces should be able to spend their own money without federal interference, and I believe in provincial autonomy. The governments that are closest to the people are the ones that should have the most power.

[English]