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 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.
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 and his 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 respond to our request? No. For the Liberal government, it is business as usual with the communist regime in Beijing.
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 gave the 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 and his 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 instructions and mitigating against the immense financial challenge facing our country, the 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 directive to present a new fiscal anchor. It was very clear to the that she present a new fiscal anchor.
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 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 , 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:
(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
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 and the member for . 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.
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.
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 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.
I do not know what planet the 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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 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.
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 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 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.
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to the 2021 budget, which was presented yesterday by my colleague, the .
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for .
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 '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 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 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 '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.
The 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 sees this crisis: “COVID has created a window of political opportunity”. She said that.
Then, when the 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 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 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 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.
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 .
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 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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 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.
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, 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 , who will, without a doubt, have an even better intervention than my own.
When I first heard the '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.
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 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 be 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 .
Mr. Speaker, yesterday the 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 '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 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 told Liberal Party members at a closed event for the 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.
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.