The House resumed from April 21 consideration of the motion that this House approve in general the budgetary policy of the government, and of the amendment.
Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise today to speak to the budget bill that has been presented to the House. Indeed, I want to add to the chorus of people and members who have come before the House to congratulate the first female on presenting a budget to the House of Commons. It is quite an important budget.
This budget is one that is very direct in its approach to get us through the rest of this pandemic, but in a way that brings Canada back to the resiliency that its economy had before. We need to get back to having the lowest unemployment rates that this country has seen in decades. We need to get our economy back to where it was.
I strongly believe that what has been proposed in this budget is the right step moving forward in that direction. I do want to take some time today to talk about what I see as being the signature piece in this budget, and that is the child care provisions. They are not only going to change the lives of Canadian parents but, indeed, are going to help our economy tremendously.
Before I get to that, I just want to talk briefly about the measures that are in this budget that relate to the pandemic, and coming through this pandemic in the way that we need to.
I have just been reminded by my colleague that I will be sharing my time with the member for .
Let us talk about the measures that have been put in here to support small business, to support Canadians and to make sure that they have the tools to get through this. We were faced with a stark choice a year ago, the same choice that is being presented to us right now with this budget. That is a choice between whether we want to allow Canadians to fend for themselves to get through this very difficult time or whether we want to come together collectively as a society to bear the burden of this enormous toll on our economy and, indeed, our society during the last year.
The Liberal government made a very clear choice. It said that we are going to take on that responsibility collectively. The federal government is going to step in on behalf of the people, the taxpayers of Canada and support, in particular, those who are being significantly affected by this pandemic, those who have small businesses that rely on people coming in and out of their stores on a daily basis, those who have restaurants, and those in the entertainment industry.
I think of a good friend of mine who literally has not worked in his profession throughout the last year, and for the foreseeable future will not. He is an audio engineer. He works at live events. At a lot of the conferences that we go to, he could very well be one of the people in the back running those. Those conferences depend on thousands of people being there, as do festivals and events that are held throughout Canada. He travels throughout the country, going and setting up from an audio engineer perspective, making sure that the quality of the sound in the room is right. Literally, that industry came to a standstill.
I will never forget the conversation we had last spring where he said that in a matter of 48 hours, he went from having the entire next six months planned to having absolutely nothing. He lived in downtown Toronto. He lived there for a number of years, probably the last decade, although he was born and raised in the Kingston area, like I was. He has since moved back to the Kingston area, Sydenham actually. He knows the industry is not coming back for a while. He has been trained and has a degree. He is a professional audio engineer. He does not have any kind of work whatsoever because of the nature of his industry.
The government made it very clear to people like my friend and other people throughout the country that we were going to take on this burden together. The government was going to be there to support Canadians to get through this. I am extremely proud to be part of a government that did that over the last year, but more importantly that is going to continue to do that to get us through to the other side of this.
That is what this budget is doing. In the beginning, when this budget comes into effect, the first measures will be to support Canadians through to the other end of this pandemic. We can see the light at the end of the tunnel. We cannot turn our backs on Canadians now. We need to finish what we started, and I am very happy to see the measures as they relate to small businesses, as they relate to continuing to support Canadians in this budget.
The other thing I wanted to talk about was child care and what this budget has specifically for early learning and child care for parents. Everybody who has put a child through child care is fully aware of the costs associated with it. People living anywhere outside of Quebec are likely paying a lot of money for child care. It quite literally puts parents in the position of asking whether one of them should stay home and take care of the children, because after they consider everything, they are really not going to be any further ahead. In some cases they will be further behind, so people make that choice.
The unfortunate reality is that more often than not, the majority of the time, it is the woman in the relationship who is making that decision to stay home. It is hindering female participation in our labour force. Nothing has impacted that more in the last short term than this pandemic. It has made that participation in the labour force for women extremely difficult. It has taken us back several years in terms of the progress that we made toward getting equal participation in our labour force from women.
Given that so much of it has to do with child care, if we can develop a child care system that will allow us to make it affordable, as Quebec has done, and it has done it extremely well, if we can develop a similar child care system for the rest of Canada, we will significantly impact not just the lives of those parents who have to pay for child care, but indeed the economic and social impacts that come with it.
Think of the potential if we can unleash so many single parents into the marketplace: entrepreneurs, people who want to be entrepreneurs but cannot because of limitations around child care. Women unfortunately are impacted more than men in that regard. The opportunities here are really not just about making child care affordable but, more importantly, about increasing women's participation in the labour force, and in particular, as I see it, as it relates to women entrepreneurs.
That is what this budget provides. It makes the transformative investment toward child care and early learning that this country has been asking for and looking for, for so long, by putting in the necessary funds. I believe it is about $30 billion in investment initially, over the next five years, getting us to a place by 2026 where the average cost of child care is $10 per day. That truly is transformative if we can get there.
We are in a minority government. I really hope that my colleagues across the way, maybe not the Conservatives, maybe not the Bloc members because they have this child care in Quebec already, but the NDP in particular, will see the value in this and support this budget. I certainly do not want to be in the same situation that the Liberal Party was in with Paul Martin when he introduced a budget to transform child care and the government collapsed and Stephen Harper did not have an interest in that, and here we are 15 years later.
There is a great opportunity here if we can come together and the NDP members can see the value in what we have here. I know that if they support this and we can get through this, we can start making a meaningful impact for child care throughout Canada.
Madam Speaker, I will start by sharing the story of Sandy, a constituent of mine. She has a really good education, but her struggles are those of many Canadians around the world. She gave up her career to start a family, and she continued to stay away from her career because child care in Ontario was too expensive and the waiting list was too long. Now, as her children are age five and seven, she finds herself living in a shelter, because she does not have housing as she tries to flee from an abusive marriage. She is now working part time while staying at this transitional house for women just like her. She is looking for housing and a stable job, but because of COVID, the situation of schools, and everything becoming so precarious, it is so hard for her to get into that workforce. The jobs that she does find are precarious, part-time and minimum-wage.
Women, in particular low-income women, have been hit the hardest by the COVID-19 crisis. They have faced steep job losses and shouldered the burden of unpaid care work at home. All the while, many have bravely served on the front lines of this crisis in our communities. There is no doubt that we remain firmly in a “she-cession” as lockdowns continue to impact our communities and many Canadians stay at home to stem the spread of an even more aggressive third wave.
I have heard from businesses in my riding about what would ensure the health of the economy of a city like Mississauga, a province like Ontario and, indeed, a country like Canada. For example, the Mississauga Board of Trade in my city has been quite clear: We need to have increased labour force participation. We need to have an empowered labour force of people who are willing, able and eager to contribute to our economy, to empower themselves and those around them, and to bring financial stability and economic prosperity, not just for themselves and their families but for all Canadians. Based on that feedback, our government has a plan through budget 2021 to emerge from the pandemic with a stronger and more inclusive society. Increasing opportunities for women's participation in our economy is at the forefront of our growth and recovery plan.
As I mentioned, the closure of schools and child care centres due to COVID-19 has really exacerbated work-life balance challenges for parents, and especially for women. It has made it more difficult for some women to work full time or, in some cases, such as Sandy, at all. More than 16,000 women have dropped out of the labour force completely, while the male labour force has grown by about 91,000. Child care is an essential social infrastructure and without it, parents, particularly women, cannot fully participate in our economy. Parents have told me this. Businesses have told me this. Single mothers have told me this.
This is an economic issue as much as it is a social issue. TD Economics has pointed to a range of studies that have shown that for every dollar spent on early childhood education, the broader economy receives between $1.50 and $2.80 in return. It is a sound investment. We can simply look at the impact of Quebec's early learning and child care system, where women in the province with children under the age of three have some of the highest employment rates in the world. Further, a study shows that child care alone has raised Quebec's GDP by 1.7%.
It is clear: Now is the time for the rest of Canada to learn from Quebec's example, and this is exactly what our government is proposing to do through budget 2021. We are making generational investments of up to $30 billion over five years to work with provincial, territorial and indigenous partners to build a Canada-wide, community-based system of quality child care, bringing the federal government to a fifty-fifty share of child care costs with provincial and territorial governments and meeting the needs of indigenous families.
Our government's plan includes a strategy for unprecedented expansion in child care across the country. This proposed investment would also be a critical part of reconciliation.
Early learning and child care programs designed by and with indigenous families and communities give indigenous children the best start in life. That is why this generational investment includes $2.5 billion over five years toward an early learning and child care system that meets the needs of indigenous families.
By 2025-26, new investments in child care will reach a minimum of $8.3 billion per year ongoing, including indigenous early learning and child care.
Our vision is to bring fees down to $10 per day on average by 2025-26 everywhere in Canada outside of Quebec. This would start with a 50% reduction in average fees for preschool care by 2022. Simply put, this investment will drive jobs and growth. It is a smart economic policy and it is the right policy for Canadians at this juncture.
However, it is not the only way that we are supporting women through budget 2021.
Budget 2021 also lays out an expansive jobs and growth plan that is very much a feminist plan. It seeks to build a recovery that gives all women in Canada the ability to fully participate in our economy.
For example, Canadian women entrepreneurs still face unique and systemic barriers to starting and growing a business. In light of this pandemic, that has become even more challenging.
To address these challenges, budget 2021 proposes to provide up to $146.9 million to strengthen the women entrepreneurship strategy, which will help provide greater access to financing, and support mentorship and training activities. Ensuring women have opportunities to work and grow in their businesses is absolutely crucial, but, of course, protecting the health and safety of women is also a priority.
Our government is also moving forward on developing a national action plan to end gender-based violence through new proposed investments of over $600 million, which will provide support for action against gender-based violence, for indigenous women and for 2SLGBTQQIA+ organizations, for the design and delivery of interventions that promote healthy relations and prevent violence and for increased access to information and support. This is in addition to reallocating $250 million in existing funding to support housing and shelter spaces for women and children fleeing violence.
We are accelerating work on a national action plan in response to the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls’ calls for justice and the implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action. To support this work, budget 2021 proposes to invest an additional $2.2 billion over five years, and $160.9 million ongoing, to help build a safer, stronger and more inclusive society.
Finally, budget 2021 proposes to invest $236.2 million over five years, starting in 2021-22, and $33.5 million per year ongoing to expand work to eliminate sexual misconduct and gender-based violence in the military and support survivors. This investment will reinforce the systemic efforts to change the culture and working conditions in the Canadian Armed Forces. Ultimately, these measures support the objective of increasing representation of women in the Canadian Armed Forces from 15% to 25% by 2026, which, if achieved, will further positively reinforce culture change.
It is absolutely absurd to think that, in 2021, we are talking about the need for some of these measures instead of simply living in a society where women and men are on equal footing, with the same opportunities to succeed in a truly inclusive society.
Our government will continue to build a feminist intersectional action plan for women in the economy that will work to push past systemic barriers and inequalities for good. The—
Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the MP for .
It is almost incomprehensible that it has been more than two years since the last budget and that the Liberals have only seen fit to give Canadians two brief fiscal snapshots during a time of historic economic challenges and unprecedented government spending.
The has added more debt in just seven years than the combined debt of all Canadian prime ministers since 1867. He spent more money per person than any other prime minister in Canadian history. Canadians have a right to ask what all of it has actually achieved and to be worried about the astounding moral failing of passing this burden on to future generations.
In 2019, the projected deficit of $20 billion was already mind-boggling. The Conservatives urged the Liberals to set out a plan to balance the budget, implement fiscal anchors and save money for the future, like Canadians struggle to do every day in their households and businesses. The Liberals' spending was already extraordinary. No government outside of wartimes or major global recessions had ever spent so much but achieved so little.
Now Canadians see the consequences: over $354 billion in deficit, over $154 billion projected for 2021-22 alone in deficits, debt interest payments that will cost Canadians $39 billion through 2026. Every man, woman and child in Canada now owes $33,000 in federal debt.
The numbers show the reality of Liberal mismanagement. The once said, “Canada is back”, but the truth is his plan is making Canada fall back. Now Canada is an outlier globally in all the worst ways.
Global unemployment in 2020 rose to 6.5%; Canada's to 9.5%. Global GDP declined by 4.4%; Canada's by 5.4%. In 2019, the time of the last federal budget, 46% of Canadians were $200 or less away from being unable to pay their bills. Now 53%, more than half, live that unsettling and precarious experience every single day.
The Liberals love rhetoric over substance, announcements over delivery, promises over outcomes, and they seem to make a dozen new ones every day. There is one in a section in the budget that suggests unlocking Canadians' savings is a key to boosting the country's economic recovery. It states, “Over the last year, Canadian households, in particular, have built up significant savings. When the pandemic recedes, the release of pent-up demand could translate into a tangible if temporary boost to economic activity.”
The reality is that rising costs of food, gas, lumber and essentials, to eat, get around and put a roof over one's head and declining productivity, with fewer, good-paying full-time jobs in exchange for precarious lower paying part-time work while unprecedented investment has left Canada, means that for most Canadians their savings are stretched thin and their futures are uncertain, except, of course, for the ultra-rich.
Inflation rose 2.2% in March. Eggs cost Canadians 11.4% more, gasoline prices have jumped 35.3% and natural gas costs have risen 14.1% when compared to March 2020. There is no spending limit, no fiscal anchor, and to top it all off, Canada is now entering the uncertain world of quantitative easing, literally printing money to pay our debts.
I guess at least the seems to have given everyone a heads-up. She already wanted to dip into the private savings of Canadians months ago, saying, “If people have ideas on how the government can act to help unlock that 'pre-loaded stimulus', I'm very interested.” It is the spending of the government that knows no bounds, not the savings of everyday Canadians.
In this budget, Canadians needed a plan for reopening, a plan to secure the future, assurances for their small businesses. Over 200,000 are at risk of closing forever. That is one in six small businesses, potentially affecting 2.4 million Canadian jobs. This budget needed to include a concrete plan for the private sector and for entrepreneurs to take risks and create new jobs by reducing government-imposed barriers and layers of red tape and costs that stifle innovation and new economic opportunities.
Instead, Canadians received the rude wake-up call that the government would be saddling their grandchildren with more deficits and more debt. Meanwhile, in the most elite and privileged positions, the and call COVID a so-called opportunity to pursue an ideological great reset of the economy and busy themselves with reimagining, all a bunch of new ways of how to spend Canadians' money.
Speaking of imaginary money, and as the shadow minister for public safety, I did not see any mention of the estimated $3 billion to $5 billion for the Liberal, wrong-headed confiscation program. It is an ever-expanding list of firearms that they will ultimately take or prohibit the use of by millions of law-abiding Canadian sport shooters, hunters, collectors and firearms owners. At least this budget does increase funding for the Canadian Border Services Agency, $312 million over five years, to fight gun smuggling and trafficking, as Conservatives have urged consistently for years.
The Liberals failed again to address a significant issue in the RCMP, which is increasing funding for training new RCMP recruits and replacing its unsafe 25-year-old service pistols. The past year created a backlog in training new recruits. According to the National Police Federation, this “will impact recruiting and training for years to come, jeopardizing public and Member safety.”
With Liberal bills currently being debated that would reduce penalties for serious violent crimes such as gun trafficking, sexual assault and assault with a weapon, while allowing for community service for sexual assault, kidnapping, arson and human trafficking, RCMP recruits will be sorely needed in the coming years.
This budget also relies on a magical boost from American investment, but the Liberals are actively destroying Canada's trading relationship. They are driving jobs, contracts and businesses south of the border with the ongoing mess the has either actively created or passively perpetuated. It has gotten so bad that the U.S. just advised not to travel to Canada. Workers who travel to the U.S. for essential work, but do not travel daily or weekly, are constantly subject to inconsistencies and contradictions.
The Liberals should mitigate this major problem by adjusting the order in council's wording to allow essential workers to travel to fulfill contract and business obligations not based on calendar days. I personally believe that all workers and all businesses, every single one, are essential to the Canadian economy, but the least the Liberals can do is fix their own policy so those they have declared to be essential could actually do their jobs.
Another announcement that is far behind is rural broadband. After first announcing it in their 2015 election platform, the Liberals then committed to 100% of houses being connected to broadband by 2030, in both 2019 and 2020. In the government's own strategy in 2017, it said 37% of rural households had access to 50 megabytes per second download speed.
Now, four years later, CRTC's 2020 communications monitoring report shows it has only grown to 45.6%. At that rate, 75% of rural homes will not have access to broadband for another decade. The Liberals have already spent $6.2 billion since 2015, but many rural people in Lakeland and Canadians in rural and remote communities all over the country are still wondering when it will make a difference for them.
Of course, Albertans are very familiar with the Liberals roller coaster of benign neglect and outright hostility. While there is a tax measure for carbon capture and storage, there is still no hint the Liberals will reverse their anti-energy, anti-resource, anti-business policies after failing to deliver timely and accessible sector-specific support, which they promised to Canada's energy industry as it reeled from a confluence of domestic government-inflicted, and external, challenges. I have to confess a sense of bitter irony that their main energy-related budget measure deals with keeping something in the ground, despite my support of the policy and the objective.
Naturally, true to form, this budget plays provincial favourites. Alberta's finance minister sums up Alberta's frustrations that the budget “is light on increasing investment and productivity, increasing market access opportunities...and growing the economy.”
He also said, “We are gravely disappointed that the federal government once again missed an opportunity to fix the fiscal unfairness of the federation by acting on the unanimous request of provinces to retroactively lift the cap on the fiscal stabilization program.”
This means that Albertans, who have paid way more than their fair share, $600 billion more than they have received in return, continue to be penalized during economic crisis and the global pandemic.
Alberta has been a leader in job creation, clean tech, responsible resource development and fiscal contributions to Canada for decades. The province's regulatory expertise and technological achievements is world renowned, but the Liberals cannot get past their ideological objections and partisan calculations to recognize that reality.
This budget does not help the constituents I represent in Lakeland. It inevitably means higher taxes, higher costs, fewer jobs and future generations left to pay the bills.
My constituents understand the concepts of setting a budget, putting needs before wants, not throwing good money after bad and spending within one's means. People there just want to know that if they work hard they can do better, and for government to remember that it does not have its own money. It all comes out of Canadians' pockets.
Madam Speaker, it is my pleasure to join the House from beautiful southwest Nova Scotia, where it is a little rainy. We do not have a whole lot of COVID-19 floating around, but it seems that here in Nova Scotia we are having a resurgence of variants. Due to a lack of vaccines, we are going to see a bit of the third wave the rest of Canada has seen over the last number of weeks and months.
Because it has been a year and a half since many of us were elected, and we have not had the opportunity to speak to a budget, I would like to start my first response to it as a new MP with something a little more Nova Scotian. I will talk about something that is a bit more positive in the budget, which is important to my area and extremely important to me and my family. It is the national framework for diabetes. This is something in the budget that I support.
This year is the 100th anniversary of the discovery of insulin here in Canada, something Banting and Best were able to do at the University of Toronto. We as Canadians continue to celebrate being a part of this historic change in the lives of people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. The budget provides $25 million over five years, starting in 2021-22, to Health Canada for additional investments into research in diabetes, including juvenile diabetes, and surveillance and prevention, to work toward the development of that national framework.
That is extremely important to me and my family because I am the dad of a type 1 diabetic. My son just recently, for lack of a better description, celebrated his fifth anniversary of being a diabetic. I can see from what he has had to go through, and what other diabetics across this country have had to go through, that there is no real standard of care for those individuals.
It is good to see Canadians get together. We need to work with our provinces to make sure that is going to happen. These are very positive developments for JDRF and Diabetes Canada. I hope this continues and that more emphasis will be put on some of the chronic diseases that Canadians continue to suffer from.
I wish the rest of the budget were as positive, but unfortunately, it is not. On the health care side of things, this budget is very lax in how it is going to help with COVID-19 and respond to the needs of the provinces for extra help, especially when it comes to the deferred health care that has happened over the last number of months.
I am a member of the health committee, and a couple of weeks ago we had radiologists in to present before the committee. They estimated that 380,000 Canadians have had their tests delayed, whether it was a test for cancer, a colonoscopy, or the like. If we start to delay health care, greater issues might happen. For people who are diagnosed with cancer, it might be a different level of cancer. They could be at stage three or four, which is much more difficult to treat.
The provinces have been asking for a top-up in their health transfers over the last number of years. That does not show up in this budget, yet we saw the go out the next day and say the government was going to do that after the pandemic is done.
The way things are going right now, the pandemic is going to be with us for quite some time. I wonder when that extra investment is going to be in the Canada health transfers. I believe they are asking for about $4 billion. In the scope of the $100 billion of extra, I would call, election funding the government has put forward, the $4 billion they are asking for seems like quite a bargain.
Let us move on from health care and talk about something that is important for the coastal communities here in southwest Nova Scotia. Quite honestly, this area is based on the fishery and access to that fishery. I want to talk about small craft harbours. Small craft harbours might not be important to many people across Canada. However, those of us who use them, and people who have their families in the fishing industry, want to see investments in wharves. They are part of our highway system. They are part of our business park, so to speak.
We see an investment of $300 million over two years in small craft harbours. That is a drop in the bucket of what is required to improve the safety of our ports and wharves and to adjust to the changes in vessel sizes and vessel safety over the last number of years. There is not enough room in a lot of these ports.
I was on beautiful Brier Island the other day meeting with the port authority of Westport. They have a fabled wharf in the Bay of Fundy that sees some of the highest tides in the world, but they have not had an expansion or an adjustment to their port in well over 50 years. They have had little projects along the way. There has been a bit of a breakwater and maybe a change to one of the wharves, but nothing has actually happened for them in that amount of time. The $300 million is going to be very difficult to sell, because we could spend way more than that just on the 27 wharves that require it here in West Nova. A number of wharves on our list are condemned. Fishers are still using them, but they have been condemned by small craft harbours because they do not have the dollars to do the work.
While I am on the topic of the fishery, I want to talk about the safety of our fishers and a couple of experiences we have had in the last few months. The Chief William Saulis, a scallop dragger out of Digby, basically out of Yarmouth, was lost and seven men were lost with it. It took a lot of time to find. There was not enough money in the budget for the Coast Guard to go out to recover the bodies of the men who were lost. We need to do more to make sure that our vessels are safe and that we have the systems to go out and actually help them.
In another example, the scallop dragger Atlantic Destiny went down off of Georges Bank and 32 souls were saved, but we learned a number of things that I do not see in this budget. The fuel for search and rescue is not available at the airport that is closest to the port. The great people at CFB Greenwood need to change a few of their processes to adjust to these kinds of situations, sending helicopters 100 kilometres offshore. The nearest airport needs to have the capability to do it.
I will present a quick personal issue from southwest Nova Scotia. A young gentleman who is a fisher just had a terrible accident: 24-year-old Andrew Saulnier was caught up in the engine room. He lost one leg and could possibly lose the other. He is a young guy with a few children. I am going to share this on my Facebook page, not that we should be presenting Facebook page issues here in the House of Commons, but if people want to help out families, a family like Andrew Saulnier's is one that we all should be supporting, and this budget does not.
Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for .
Ironically, I had occasion to repair my deck. Normally I would ask somebody else to do it, but these are strange times so I thought I would apply my formidable carpentry skills to the repairs. To no one's great surprise, it is clear that I should try to keep my day job.
While my lack of carpentry skills should not be a shock, the price of lumber certainly was, as was raised in a previous exchange. It cost 51 bucks for a 16-foot cedar deck board, which is three times last year's price. I considered myself lucky to get any after phoning four lumber yards, two of which had nothing at all. Now my simple job was going to cost me 75 bucks for a four-by-two square in materials alone. If I was intending to replace the entire structure, I probably would have had to put a mortgage on the house. Mortgage money is really cheap these days, which underlines the real estate frenzy that the previous exchange outlined.
Cheap money is also the underlying assumption of this budget. The related assumption is that the Bank of Canada can keep its commitment to an inflation target of below 2%. The government and the Bank of Canada are backed up by the best economists in Canada. They provide consensus opinions to the and the governor of the Bank of Canada upon which all projections are based: GDP projections, nominal GDP projections, inflation projections, interest rates, etc.
Everything starts and ends with consensus numbers. Those allow the government to know what its revenue will be and, in turn, its deficit projections. However, what if the experts are wrong and have been measuring the wrong things? The basket used to calculate inflation is made up of quite a number of goods and services, some of which are questionable in a pandemic economy.
For instance, no one is travelling these days, so travel is actually deflationary, along with all of the related services and goods that go with travel. My deck board, on the other hand, or a trip to the grocery store is exactly the opposite: It is quite inflationary. In normal times this all balances out. However, these are not normal times and we need to be more than a little skeptical about these predictions.
In a November article in The Globe and Mail's Report on Business, the writer took on the post-March pandemic predictions of the leading economists and this is what he found.
Canada's best economists predicted, first, that there would be a significant weakening of the Canadian dollar. The reality is that a brief hit was followed by a full recovery. The second prediction was that equity markets would take years to recover. The reality is that markets took months to recover and they have been on a tear ever since, with what some might even call “irrational exuberance”.
Third, the GDP would plunge. In reality it did plunge, but it recovered quickly and with not much ground to make up to pre-pandemic levels. In fact, colleagues may have caught reports by the Bank of Canada that are revising GDP growth up to 6.5%, which is higher than the government's predictions as of Monday, so things are changing rather quickly. Fourth, housing starts would plummet. The reality is that housing starts are thriving and the real estate market, some say, is insane.
I appreciate that these are challenging times, but apparently being an economist means never having to say they are sorry. Colleagues might say that I am just ranting about economists, and that might be a little bit true, even if economists are some of the nicest and smartest people I know. The fact remains that at this time last year, some of the nicest and smartest people I know got it far more wrong than right. That puts the and in a dodgy position. Spending demands far exceed the ability of the economy to support them. It is one thing to provide emergency support, but it is quite another to provide that support over the short or medium term. It is simply not sustainable.
I do not know what a 1% interest rate jump would do to the budget, but I do know that 2% would probably be quite devastating.
Many decades ago, I was doing mortgages for my legal clients in the 17% to 18% range for five-year fixed rates. I wish I had had the foresight to load up on long-term Canada savings bonds at 13%, however I did not. I do not claim any unique insight, but to those who claim it could not happen again, I say “think again”. I remember the inflation wars of the seventies and eighties, or “stagflation” as I suppose it was called at the time. I remember wage and price controls. I remember Canada being an honorary member of the third world. I remember the draconian financial disciplines of the nineties and early 2000s. I remember the banking crisis of 2008-09, where financial institutions were severely overleveraged and CEOs were buying fancy financial instruments that they did not even seem to understand. I also remember the wise words of Ed Clark, former CEO of the TD Bank, who said he would not buy anything for his bank that he did not understand. That is good investment advice.
We are in a time when no one really knows what is going on or will go on. I did not read the last year's predictions to embarrass some people; I read them to remind everyone that we are in perilous times, and as long as the pandemic remains in our midst, economic prognostications, even consensus ones, cannot necessarily be relied upon. The question has become, “has the Government of Canada taken us too far to a step to the abyss?”
A little history might provide some comfort, however. In 1946, immediately post-World War II, the net debt-to-GDP ratio was 110%. Some eight years later, by 1954-55, it was down to 38%. It was largely reduced by tight spending and a prosperous and expanding economy. By the 1975-76 fiscal year, it was down to 14%. Then it took off to the point, in 1996-97, where the debt-to-GDP ratio was 67%, and it was considered by all, particularly the economists, to be unsustainable. We remember the New York Times article about Canada being an honorary member of the third world. With fiscal and monetary discipline and an expanding economy, the government of the day was not only able to bring down the debt-to-GDP ratio to below 30%, but the government actually paid of $100 billion in actual real debt. I would note that fiscal targets were set and a contingency fund was created, so that everyone knew the plan. The 30% debt-to-GDP ratio has hovered there ever since 2006 to 2018. While history may teach us something, it does not teach us everything. We may be in the immediate post-World War economy, or we may be in something else.
I think I have said enough about what I think about economists' predictions. The other unknown is how the virus will behave. It has demonstrated a devastating resiliency, attacking populations that were once thought to be safe, so it is hard to know whether we have reached an armistice with the enemy or there will still be a full-on war or just a few battles left to mop up.
The is making a series of what I would argue are reasonable bets. One is that the economy will grow its way out. She has some evidence to support her position. As I indicated earlier, the Bank of Canada yesterday revised its expectations for the growth of the economy upwards quite dramatically, even higher than what the projection was set out last Monday by the finance minister. The second bet is that inflation is still within the band. I am a touch more skeptical, for reasons outlined above, but it is not an unreasonable assumption, and one of the monetary tools left by the Governor of the Bank of Canada to keep the expansion of the economy going. The third bet is that short-term interest rates will remain low. How long is short term? I am not quite sure, but I am, again, a little skeptical about that.
The fourth is that the fall deficit projection of $382 billion came down to $354 billion, which is quite true, and did show some evidence that the government's plan was working. The fifth is that the government—
Madam Speaker, I will start by acknowledging the people in my riding of Hochelaga. During this unprecedented and ongoing crisis, the people of Hochelaga have been resilient, supportive and engaged. I am so proud to represent them in the House, especially today, as I rise to speak to a progressive budget focused on an inclusive and feminist economic recovery.
I too want to commend my colleague and , who is the first woman to table a federal budget in the House. A significant glass ceiling has just been broken.
Since the start of the pandemic, more than one million Canadians have contracted COVID-19 and more than 20,000 Canadians have died from it. I want to tell the families and friends who lost a loved one that I am thinking of them. I also want to thank health care workers for their dedication and tireless efforts. In Hochelaga and Montreal East, the vaccination campaign is making great progress. More than 83% of seniors over 70 have already been vaccinated.
We are still living with a great deal of uncertainty and facing a global health crisis. Now is not the time for austerity. We cannot ask the most vulnerable to go into debt to pay for food and shelter or just to live during this period of uncertainty. The federal government decided to be there for Canadians and support them in the fight against COVID-19.
I come from a family that strongly believes that the role of government is to fight for society's most vulnerable and to ensure that it is ready to step up in times of crisis. That is what this budget does. Our budget seeks to meet today's urgent needs, namely overcoming COVID-19 and building a fairer, more prosperous and more innovative future for all. This budget will have an important impact on the people of my riding and of Montreal East.
In my riding, many businesses and organizations have benefited from the Canada emergency wage subsidy. “We would not be here without the federal government”: This is a strong message from Benoist, director general of Hochelaga-Maisonneuve community kitchen. Without the help of this wage subsidy, this jewel of Quebec's social economy, this pioneer of community kitchens in Quebec, which has provided more than 140,000 meals, would no longer be there. In fact, the budget allocates an additional $140 million to the emergency fund for food security.
The wage subsidy has helped several industries and small and medium-sized businesses. We can be proud to have supported two new businesses in Hochelaga and Montreal East, Oshlag and Glutenberg. A few months ago, the Prime Minister and I met with co-owners David and Frédéric to talk about the impact of COVID-19 and the federal programs that helped them. I am proud to tell Benoist, David and Frédéric, as well as thousands of organizations and businesses throughout Quebec and Canada, that our budget will extend the wage subsidy until September 25, 2021.
On top of helping these companies and making it easier for them to keep their workers employed, we are jump-starting the economy by increasing the Canada workers benefit, enabling thousands of workers to upgrade their skills in this modern, ever-changing world. With this budget, our government aims to support a sustainable green recovery, focused on the jobs of tomorrow.
Community organizations have been there for the most vulnerable Canadians since the beginning of the pandemic. Volunteers have been working every day to help the less fortunate. In Hochelaga, more than 35 community organizations received assistance from the emergency food security fund. I want to tell all of the organizations serving our community, including Le Mûrier, the Fondation des aveugles du Québec, Le Chic Resto-Pop, Projet Harmonie, Un prolongement à la famille de Montréal, and the Un Élan pour la vie foundation, that the government is supporting them in this budget. They play an important role and we recognize that. This is why we plan to invest $400 million over three years to create a temporary community services recovery fund that will help organizations adapt, modernize and participate in the economic recovery.
One of the main concerns for people in eastern Montreal and Hochelaga is the high cost of housing, which continues to put financial pressure on families. These high costs undermine the economic and social prosperity of all families in Hochelaga and across Quebec and Canada. A family should not have to choose between paying rent or buying groceries, and families will not have to do so. In addition to investing in safe, affordable housing, we plan to increase the Canada child benefit, which has lifted more than one million Canadians out of poverty for good.
I want to tell organizations like Maison Tangente, Centre NAHA, L'Anonyme, CARE Montreal and CAP St-Barnabé that the budget provides an additional $567 million over two years to support people experiencing homelessness. An additional $2.5 billion is also being invested to speed up the construction of affordable housing.
COVID-19 has disproportionately affected women. In the labour market, women were hit early. Schools and child care centres had to close, making it even harder to achieve work-life balance. The budget includes a fundamentally feminist plan to support growth and jobs. This includes creating a nationwide early learning and child care system based on the Quebec model. Creating such a system will help ensure that women can contribute to economic growth.
I would like to remind the House that Quebec is one of the best places in the world for women to enter the workforce. It is time for the rest of Canada to follow that example.
A feminist recovery also means supporting women entrepreneurs, strengthening diversity in corporate governance and creating a national action plan to end gender-based violence. We must act.
Our thoughts are with all the victims of femicide. I want to say to all women at risk that we think of them every day.
Lockdowns and reduced social contacts during the pandemic have had serious repercussions on mental health. We have a duty to ensure that Quebeckers and everyone in Canada are getting the help they need when they need it. As a mother of two young adults, I can say that the pandemic has hit hard at home.
I spoke at length with two young students at Collège de Maisonneuve, Estelle and Jean-Emmanuel. The mental health of young people has been hit particularly hard. Overnight, they ended up isolated without necessarily having access to resources to help them prepare for these changes. I want to say to Estelle, Jean-Emmanuel and the thousands of young people in Hochelaga that the government has heard them. The budget we are proposing today includes $100 million in funding to support mental health interventions, including for young people.
For the first time, the federal government recognizes the precarious state of the French language in Canada. We have a responsibility to protect and promote it. We recognized the need to protect the French language in Quebec, but also across the country, because the declining demographic weight of francophones is very real.
The time has come to modernize the Official Languages Act, and that is what we are going to do by providing funding to Canadian Heritage and the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat for that modernization.
By providing $180 million to enhance French immersion and French second-language programs in schools and post-secondary institutions, we recognize that the status of the French language is at risk in Quebec and Canada and that we have a responsibility to protect it.
I would like to close by letting the House know how proud I am that east Montreal, which I proudly represent, is included in budget 2021. Our government recognizes the potential of east Montreal, its potential for innovative research, for new and growing businesses and for the economy of tomorrow.
As the proud government representative for Hochelaga and east Montreal in the House of Commons, I will continue to work hard to defend the economic and social interests of our area and, more importantly, to support all Canadians in the recovery of tomorrow—a green, sustainable, inclusive she-covery.
Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for .
Today, we are debating the federal budget, which outlines how much money the federal government is going to spend in a period of time. We have not had a document like this, an outline, in over two years. During that period of time, the federal government has spent an enormous amounts of money.
When a federal budget is put together, typically a government looks at how much revenue is coming in, and revenue is, of course, in the form of taxation, fees, levies, etc., and then how much it is going to spend against that. There are two ways that the government can fund spending, and that is either through revenue from taxation, etc. or by borrowing.
In 2015, when the Conservative Party left power, we had a balanced budget. This meant that how much we were spending was about equal to what was coming in. We did not have to borrow.
In the six-year period, including what is in the document we are debating today, the federal Liberal government has added more debt to Canada, more than every other government in the history of country combined. That is really quite something.
The question that everybody in Canada should be asking is whether he or she is getting value for that money. People who are watching today know that when they put money on their credit cards, they have to pay interest on it. That interest payment could prevent them from spending on other things. Our whole country is in that situation now.
I want to speak to this from three perspectives: the pandemic, moving forward in the pandemic, and from my province of Alberta.
First, the budget should have been tied to a plan to move Canada permanently and safely out of lockdown restrictions. We know that a lot of spending in there is related to spending on measures that are needed when people are forced to sit at home by the federal government. That does not help everybody. Restrictions do not have an equal effect on everybody in Canada. A lot of people are more impacted by these restrictions than others.
For example, a government employee who has the ability to work from home, with a permanent paycheque, might not be financially impacted in the same way as a small business owner who has to close his or her business because of uncertain restrictions.
A year into the pandemic, other countries around the world, like the United Kingdom and the United States, have started to tie reopening to benchmarks like vaccination rates. We have heard nothing from the federal government on that. In fact, it has shied away from talking about this. I realize we are in the third wave right now. I do believe the federal government's failure to deliver vaccines to Canadians in January and February exacerbated the third wave. However, without that plan, those targets, that line of sight on when the economy could reopen, this plan is a house of cards. There is a lot of assumptions that we cannot evaluate, and that is a problem.
After the pandemic, at some point, and I am hopeful Canada can move out of this, we will have a major challenge as a country. I know that some people who are listening today have lost their businesses or their jobs. Those are not things that will easily come back.
This plan should have outlined measures that would attract investment into Canada, things that would have made Canada an attractive place to do business. Some people think that government spending creates jobs, but what creates sustainable jobs is an environment in which people can take risks, invest and hire people. That means lower taxation, consistent and lower regulatory burdens, a skilled workforce and other factors.
There is really nothing in this record amount of spending and of borrowing to do that. Why is that important? Without that clear line of sight on attracting investment and job creation, it means that we are artificially creating growth. Let us think about this for a second. It is like saying we are getting more money because we are spending more money on our credit cards. It is like taking cash out of an ATM on a Visa. This is essentially what the budget would do, and that is a huge problem.
With the time I have left, I want to talk about my province of Alberta. Alberta was in a very bad economic situation prior to going into the pandemic. We had some of the highest unemployment rates in the country, and this is because the federal Liberal government disrupted the energy sector with policies that made it almost impossible for projects to move forward. This is classic Liberal political philosophy, to paint Albertans as people with dirty jobs who do not care about the environment, put in place policies that are punitive to them without any plan to support workers, and then buy off votes in central and eastern Canada and hope the Liberals continue to hold power.
We know that a government that wants to maintain Canadian Confederation should put in place policies that benefit the whole country, which the Liberals have consistently failed to do, and this budget does the same thing. There is nothing in it to address the severe economic downturn that my province is facing, because the little bits of hope that we had after the Liberals' destruction of the energy sector, like the hospitality and tourism sector, like the airline sector, etc., are all wiped out now.
The Calgary Stampede, for example, brought $500 million into the city every year, but without a plan on reopening or some benchmarks, it cannot proceed and no amount of government spending is going to fix that. We need that plan. I will bring up WestJet. WestJet is a huge source of jobs for Alberta, and the federal government has done nothing for the workers in that industry. They have been begging for a plan for rapid testing at airports that would make things safer, but the Liberals have left this company out in the dark. In fact, they have made it worse in a lot of ways, and there are so many examples like that.
This budget, which spends so much money, really sets my province back. From 2007 to 2018, my province provided $239 billion in net fiscal transfers, essentially equalization, to the country. How much did it get back from that program? It got zero dollars. Think about what my province could have done with $239 billion. Instead, people in my riding are sitting at home. I have seen high levels of suicide and domestic violence, and it is because the government consistently overlooks that. The government thinks we can somehow put money on a credit card and magically hope things get better.
What we need is a stable macroeconomic situation to allow growth to happen over time, not artificial growth through government spending, which creates inflationary pressures, makes things more expensive and does not really create any sort of long-term growth. In fact, it actually hinders growth because of those interest payments on that debt. We cannot accept this. I believe this is a way to buy off votes in a feeble attempt that undermines the intelligence of Canadians ahead of a federal election that the 's party really wants to have happen during a pandemic. I think that is morally bankrupt.
Instead, what the government should have done is have a plan that clearly states the benchmarks by which Canada can safely reopen. Liberals should have had a better plan for vaccination. They also should have ensured that there was regional specific support for hard-hit regions like Alberta.
I am really tired of policy happening to my province. If the Liberal government was really serious about helping every region of this country, it would be ensuring that the workers in my province who have been left behind by its policies have things like skills development or specialized support. We should be looking at ways to create a stable economic climate in Alberta to attract more investment right now, but that is not what this budget does. What it does is put a lot of money on our nation's Visa card for not a lot of return. There is a lot of structural spending in here with not a lot of return, and that is a huge problem. That is why I do not support it, and no Canadian should, either.
Madam Speaker, in my short time as an MP, so much has changed in our country and in our world. I could not help but be reminded of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar
, when Brutus says, “There is a tide in the affairs of men, which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune.... On such a full sea are we now afloat, and we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures.”
As legislators, it is time to recognize that we are in the throes of history. What we decide today will either lead us to future success or down a dangerous path. I am saddened to say that the path this budget presents is one that could really lead our country into peril. Even before the pandemic, the government’s vacuous promise to balance the budget by 2019 had long been abandoned and broken. Canada’s debt had risen, and a view of the horizon displayed a sea of deficits and red ink for years to come. The cupboard had already been spent bare.
By June 2020, Fitch had already downgraded our national credit rating. Standard & Poor's was warning at the same time that it could also downgrade us at some point over the next couple of years “should the deterioration in the government's fiscal position become more severe and prolonged than we currently expect.” I think we can safely say that Canada's fiscal position is more severe and prolonged. Credit rating agencies do not react well to vast, irresponsible spending with absolutely no plan to return to balance. Based on what I see in this budget, the government could not care less what the credit rating agencies think. There are real consequences to being downgraded. It means more difficulty borrowing and higher interest rates.
The government has at best treated any fiscal anchors with disdain, and they are in fact absent from this budget. From breaking promises to balance the budget by 2019 to maintaining a decreasing debt-to-GDP ratio, these measures were simply ignored. The lack of fiscal responsibility has been absolutely staggering, and all Canadians should be very worried about what is coming next.
I want to be clear, because the government will say that surely I am not saying I would not have protected Canadians during the pandemic. I am not saying that; I am saying that things could have been done far better. I believe the Conservatives would have avoided many of the errors in the emergency programs that we have seen. There were so many obvious errors that led to gaps in the commercial rent subsidy, the wage subsidy and the CEBA, leaving so many Canadians out in the cold. Some of these errors border on negligence at worst and incompetence at best. It took our continued efforts to point out these errors time and again before the government made necessary changes.
My caution today has to do with interest rates. I really want to talk about interest rates because the rationale used by the for this massive past and future spending has been that interest rates are historically low. On Monday, she said, “In today’s low interest rate environment, not only can we afford these investments, it would be short-sighted of us not to make them.” She was basically telling us that it would be irresponsible not to borrow.
All this new debt presents huge risks in reality that vulnerable Canadians just cannot take in this precarious time we are in now. This abandonment of prudent financial management without sound fiscal anchors should worry future generations. The Liberals are literally rolling the dice, playing with real lives and gambling that interest rates will not rise.
What my colleagues across the way fail to mention is that the government does not entirely control these rates. Market forces also establish interest rates. Just ask former prime minister Paul Martin, who, as the finance minister in 1995, brought in the most draconian budget in Canadian history, actually cutting health transfers to provinces. It took Martin’s 1995 budget, with its $25 billion in cuts, to address the problem head-on. Canada was so substantially downgraded by the credit rating agencies in the mid-1990s that in June 1995 The Wall Street Journal called Canada “an honorary member of the Third World”. That year, the federal budget included cuts of over 10% in total spending. It slashed national defence, customs and immigration spending. It reduced the size of the civil service. Health care transfers were slashed, and other things as well. This, I might add, was all under a Liberal government.
In 1995, the bank rate was 7.31% and Canada was in a full-blown debt crisis. In justifying these massive cuts, Mr. Martin said:
There are times in the progress of a people when fundamental challenges must be faced, when fundamental choices made, and new course charted. For Canada, this is one of those times. Our resolve, our values, our very way of life as Canadians are being tested. The choice is clear.
Those are prophetic words. I fear that with the magnitude of new spending in the budget, the government will likely lead us down a path into a new debt crisis. For my colleagues across the way, if they really think this cannot happen again, they have their heads in the sand.
Governments around the world, including Canada, have engaged in trillions in quantitative easing. This printing of money has diluted the money supply across the globe.
Historically, as economies recover from crises like these, inflation takes hold and interest rates rise. With a debt approaching $1.2 trillion, an interest rate of 7.31% today would cost roughly $80 billion a year. That amount represents nearly two full years of health care transfers to every single province.
The budget is a let down for Canadians. It represents misguided and risky spending from a government that does not seem to understand we cannot keep running the printing press and ratcheting up the credit card bill.
Since 2015, I have heard countless concerns about the government's blatant disregard for fiscal prudence, and this budget is just more evidence of it. When I talk to small business owners in my community, they do not just go and borrow money without having an eye on the future. They take into account the impact of what an increase in interest rates would actually mean.
The government likes to say that it took on debt so Canadians did not have to. That is a good one, but it is simply not true. In reality, this debt has to be paid for by Canadian taxpayers and the future ones to come.
What the government has really done is use the credit card of future generations to put them deeper into debt, which can only be repaid at the end of the day by higher taxes or program cuts, as the example Mr. Martin put forward clearly substantiates.
Every man, woman and child in Canada each now owes over $33,000 in debt. There are 82,574 people in my riding. Thanks to the government’s cavalier spending, my community now owes $2,724,942,000 in federal debt. Workers in my community who are struggling to get back to work needed a real plan to get them back on their feet, and I have already heard from many who are deeply disappointed. Stripped of their wages and their hours slashed, they were absolutely desperate to see a plan and leadership to help them find their way back.
For example, I cannot help but think of aviation workers at the Winnipeg airport who have been pleading for support and are continually let down.
Our party’s leader has put forward a bold plan, Canada’s recovery plan. This plan is what real leadership looks like. It will create financial security and certainty, secure our future and deliver a Canada where those who have been hurt financially by this pandemic can get back to work.
This is all about securing good jobs for Canadians, securing the manufacturing industry in Canada, securing our economy and leading people out of the darkness and back into the light. Highly respected Canadian economist Jack Mintz said,
“[The] Minister of Finance...argues higher debt loads will be easily manageable over the next five years. But they put Canada at risk. Large primary deficits in the next several years and rising interest rates will destroy the fiscal firepower we would need should another recession come our way.”
I ask the to heed these warnings and learn from our history so it does not repeat itself. However, mostly I ask, for the sake of all Canadians, that she take the tide that leads on to fortune.
Madam Speaker, it is a great privilege to be part of this debate and discussion around the fiscal future, and the economic and social future of our country as we talk about budget 2021. I will be sharing my time with the esteemed member for .
A budget is far more than a fiscal plan. It is far more than a set of programs. It is a signature. It is an imprint that this government is making and it is the ability of a government to show what is in its heart, mind and soul. As such, I want to thank the for her tremendous work and for the signature that she has put on this budget; a working mother, a journalist, an economic's writer, a thinker and a careful politician. She is someone who is rooted in her riding, but brings both a Canadian spirit and a world vision to her job, and she has made a difference with the budget. I want to thank her and her whole team for their work.
This budget's imprint is clear. It is about compassion for people, it is about bringing businesses forward after a very difficult time with COVID-19, and it is about doing that with responsibility and with great care.
The people of Don Valley West would benefit from this as would all Canadians, and I speak on their behalf today as we engage in this conversation. Obviously, we are still gripped by a pandemic, by COVID-19, and we are fighting this third wave. The first priority of budget 2021 is to win the fight against the virus, and we need to do that together.
In addition to the significant assistance that our federal government is currently providing all the provinces, including my province of Ontario, in the form of health care, testing, vaccine development and contract tracing and through the buying of vaccines and supporting provincial and territorial health care systems, budget 2021 would enable provinces, territories, municipalities, families and businesses to come out of this very difficult time healthier and stronger.
Proposed funding of up to a billion dollars for Canada's COVID immunization plan will result in continued success of our government's effort to bring more vaccines into Canada and bring them sooner. A one-time top up of $4 billion to the Canada health transfer will crucially help health systems and ensure that Canadians get the procedures and treatments they need to stay healthy as well as clear through the backlog of delayed procedure. Up to $5 billion in health care funding to provinces and territories will ensure the sustainability of our health systems about which we care.
Obviously, we have been gripped by a health crisis that has also been an economic crisis. Through all-party support, in many ways, we have extended an economic hand to businesses, individuals and communities through a variety of programs over these last two years. These programs include the Canada emergency wage subsidy, the emergency rent subsidy, lockdown support, CERB, changes to the EI program and the Canada recovery care benefit. A host of issues and problems addressed through government programs have been successful. They are the reasons that Canadians are doing as well as they are through this very difficult time.
We have also recognized that this pandemic has revealed certain cracks in our society. We have recognized that some populations and groups have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19. Even as we have an enviable position when it comes to our economic recovery and we are in a good fiscal state to take further steps, we still have more to do. We want to find ways to ensure that Canadians, all across the country, from coast to coast to coast, of every economic, social and gender background, are taken care of in a way that looks into the future in a new and promising way.
In my riding of Don Valley West, like across the country, child care costs are extremely high. Toronto has the highest average child care cost of any city in the country and where it can be equivalent to, for some people, making a mortgage payment. It is no wonder that paying for child care represents a significant barrier for families to equally engage in the workplace.
It is a burden on women, but it is also a burden on men, and together we are attempting to make a new program, a new plan for child care, that will change Canada. It is one of the signature items of this budget that we can all rally around regardless of our political stripe. A universal system of child care will be boon to women in the workforce and a boon to men who take their part in child care and child raising.
By achieving a 50% cost reduction in child care by 2022 and $10-a-day child care by 2026 through this budget, we will remove significant barriers to women seeking employment now and even more so by 2026, and it is good economics. It is the only way for Canada to continue to build its economy, to ensure that newcomers are fully engaged in the workforce and that we are able to compete in the world. Given the disproportionate effect of COVID on women, our economic recovery needs to be a feminist recovery. With substantial measures for women's employment along with affordable child care, we will not only recover the employment that we have lost over the last two years, but we will also see further and continued success by women in the workforce.
As I said, this is an opportunity to build back better. Cracks have been revealed in our social safety net and our various systems. We will continue to work on environmental programs, on building the base for small business to recover and ensuring that large businesses are able to compete in the global marketplace.
Housing is core to that as well. People in Don Valley West, especially in neighbourhoods like Thorncliffe Park, depend on affordable housing, and COVID has made it even harder to get. It has widened the gap between Canadians who have housing and those who cannot afford it. Budget 2021 will quickly address creating new housing while at the same creating jobs, alleviating cost pressures on the housing market overall in a variety of methods that have already been mentioned in today's debate, and will grow the middle class. Part of the underscoring of the care for families is to ensure that they not only have jobs but are able to participate in the workforce equally and also that they have a roof over their head.
Many people in Don Valley West did lose their jobs during the COVID pandemic. Some have recovered, but many have not. This is not a time for austerity; it is a time for bold imagination, creativity and ensuring that all Canadians can participate in the workforce. It is not a time to draw back; it is a time to push forward. It is a time to ensure that we are spending appropriately and carefully, doing so with imagination and compassion, and with partners in our cities, provinces and territories, labour unions and businesses. Canada and Canadians have what it takes to make an economy that is competitive in the world. Government needs to be there to undergird it, support it, encourage it and, at times, invest in it.
Most people in the House will know me as a United Church minister and will understand that I try to bring people first in the work I do, but I am also accountant, which was my first career. I come at this budget with an accountant's eye as well as a clergy's eye, and the accountant's eye is very pleased with this budget.
I was very glad that the member for brought up Paul Martin as finance minister in the 1990s. He had to have the budget for his time, which was to undo the fiscal recklessness of the previous prime minister, Mr. Mulroney. He had to find a way to take care of the debt that Mr. Chrétien, as prime minister, had inherited. He had a budget for his time. This is a budget that the has brought for this time; a different budget.
We are not ideologically driven. We are driven by doing the right thing at the right time to invest in the right way. We are taking advantage of our tremendously good banking system; the bones of our economy, which are strong; and the imagination and entrepreneurship of Canadians, which need to be harnessed and brought forward into new and creative ways following this pandemic. We need to do that in a fiscally responsible way. I am glad that we are not afraid of investing, encouraging, enabling, supporting and making sure that our economy is built for the years ahead.
We have looked back, and we are taking care of the present. We have learned from the past and we are taking care of the present, and we are building a country and an economy for the future.
Madam Speaker, I am so proud to speak to this budget. The hon. member laid out the vision behind this budget extremely well, and I want to follow up on it.
This is a historic budget, presented by Canada's first female . I am proud because I can see the fine hand of the Deputy Prime Minister in that budget. I can see her thinking and her vision, because it is a clear, logical, visionary budget. It is laid out in three themes, as any logical budget would do. It is a budget about people. It is about protecting people, that is the first theme; it is about supporting people, that is the second theme; and it is about investing long term in people, that is the third theme.
We are facing the greatest global human and economic catastrophe since World War II, and I think we need to remember that. This is not a crisis caused by some human error or economic mistake made by others. It is caused by a virus that is currently in full control. I want us to think about the nature of this catastrophe, because we seem to lay blame in this House for who is responsible for what and why we are not controlling the virus very well.
With the exception of Australia, New Zealand and Taiwan, every country is in lockdown right now, struggling against a third wave of mutations of the virus. Actually, Canada is holding its head above water. We hear fears raised about deficits and spending, etc. I want to ask my colleagues if we should have abandoned Canadians, or abandoned provinces that, constitutionally, have the ability to deliver health care. We have not done that.
We have invested $8 out of every $10 in the provinces and vaccines, giving provinces what they need in order to deliver health care, personal protective equipment, testing, tracing, surveilling, and ensuring the basics of epidemiology, which are test, trace, surveil and isolate when necessary, are followed. We have supplied the provinces with the money to be able to do all of that. However, it is their duty under the Constitution to deliver on that.
I want to say what the IMF said about our early response, which is the first theme in this budget. Because Canada used public health policies, grounded and guided by science and expertise, we were able to deal with the first wave of COVID in a very reasonable manner.
The variants are the problem right now. Until we can flatten the curve and until we get rid of COVID, nothing, no economic redevelopment, no starting of any economy, no transition, and no ability to plan for the future, will occur. Job one is getting that virus contained.
One of the things we did when it first started, as the IMF pointed out, to deal with this was we funded, $8 out of $10, the provinces and gave them the ability to deliver health care in a manner they felt fit their particular province and region. In many cases we have seen across the country that the provinces have different responses. Some have done well, as in the Atlantic provinces, and others have not done so well. That is because provinces are dealing with health care on the ground in their provinces. That is an important thing to remember. The federal government cannot suddenly impose on provinces and tell them what we think they need to do.
This is the first part, protecting Canadians, which we have done extremely well. The IMF said that we are one of the countries that did extremely well, using science and expertise to do it.
I could sit here and say that we are putting $40 billion into this and $3 billion over two years and whatever into things we have done. However, I am hoping members have read the budget and know where all the money is going and for what reasons.
I want to talk a little about the vision behind this budget. The point is we were, and are still, trying to flatten the curve. The second part of the budget is supporting Canadians, supporting workers, families, seniors and vulnerable Canadians, and supporting businesses and helping them to stay afloat. That part of the budget was about supporting Canadians so that they could survive and cope, and so that businesses, if not rising above it because nobody can rise above it until COVID is gone, could tread water.
When the time comes, and we are ready to move forward again and rebuild a new economy, small businesses will be ready to hit the ground running. That is why we looked at putting in place the wage supplement and the rent supplement for people who lost their jobs. That is why we looked to increasing sickness leave. That is how we saw the vulnerable in our society, which COVID exposed to us.
There are all of the women who had to leave their jobs. They did not lose their jobs. They had to leave them because they had to stay at home and take care of their children. There are all of the low-wage workers, who are working in risky and precarious jobs, many of them full time, who still cannot afford to make ends meet. The pandemic exposed those vulnerable people extremely well.
I think that is one of the reasons we are now looking at how to support them with a $15 minimum wage. Of course, we are helping workers, not just families but single workers too, to be able to make use of the taxes that can help them keep their heads above water. We helped seniors with money. We are looking at how we are going to help them continue to function by increasing the OAS for seniors above the age of 75, and giving them a one-time amount of $500.
We are looking at housing, not only for businesses, but also helping people and families pay their rent. We are looking at how we put money into a rapid housing initiative to deal with all of the homelessness, to help the people who have been displaced. We have put money into food banks to support people so they can eat and feed their families.
That is what this budget is about. It is about continuing to do that on until we get rid of COVID to help people to survive and cope, and have businesses able to keep afloat, so when the time comes they can rebound.
The third part of the budget is where I can see the 's fine hand, because it is a visionary budget. It is talking about the future. It is building for a resilient future.
This is not going to be our last pandemic. We do not know what is going to happen. Catastrophes will occur. We need to prepare for when they happen, not fall apart like we did economically and socially. We need to be able to be resilient enough to bounce with whatever hits us. That is what this budget is doing in its third phase, which is building for the future.
The important thing about this budget is that we are finding out about all the people who fell between the cracks, and they are going to have to be helped. This budget is about looking at building a new social infrastructure, so that we do not have to have people fall between the cracks again. We are looking at the people who have fallen and are falling.
We are looking at young people, and we are looking at seniors, helping them to survive and be able to move forward.
We are looking at the tourism sector and industries that have fallen apart. We want to keep them alive so they can rebound again. We are giving them money for marketing and for rebuilding.
We are not only looking at giving small businesses the help they need to restart and to rebuild, but we are also looking at helping them into the new era.
The new economic era that we are going to build will be based on the post-industrial economy. I have listened to many international fora, such as in Europe, talking about a post-industrial recovery. It is not going to be the same old, same old. We are going to have to look at how we invest in the new economy. In Europe they have talked a lot about how automation has actually begun to kill the industrial sector, and Europe has massive industrial sectors.
We are looking at how we rebuild back a new economy. We look at scientific knowledge and innovation. We are looking at harnessing our oceans. We are lucky. We are surrounded by three massive oceans. How do we get into that blue economy?
How do we utilize our oceans to produce food and protein with low greenhouse gas emissions, with renewable food sources? Oceans are not just about fish. We are going to look at how we could develop that. Although, I might say that I am very pleased to see that my province of British Columbia got a lot of help with the salmon. They are dying right now, and we got enough money to be able to rebuild that particular resource.
The important thing to remember is that we are recognizing that this new economy will have to utilize young people, who right now have no jobs. We have kept them afloat with summer jobs, and all of the other things, but we are now trying to utilize and focus on youth being able to get their first jobs, being able to get into the kinds of training that they need—
Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time today.
Centuries ago, when a community was facing a terrible plague, a man showed up wearing a coat of many colours. He claimed to be able get rid of the rats that were responsible for the plague. The town folks decided to take him up on his offer. Just as the plague was ending, the pied piper, having changed outfits, I guess he was a big fan of costumes, was now sporting a bright red hat. He lured the children out of the town, and they were never seen or heard from again.
It is a tragic story, but there are some parallels to what is going on in our country. I am quite concerned about this budget and what it means for the futures of the children out there.
I was born in the seventies and went to school at the University of Saskatchewan, starting in 1996. Some of the lessons from my university days and living in Saskatchewan are telling, and some are lessons we learned in the eighties and nineties about problems with governments living beyond their means and what comes next.
I believe what comes next is going to be a repeat of the nineties. We know interest rates are going to go up, and what that will do is pressure federal governments to make changes. In the nineties, the Liberals slashed transfer payments to the provinces, and the provinces downloaded those cuts onto institutions such as the University of Saskatchewan, where I was going to school in the late nineties.
I felt what those cuts did to the facilities. There were cuts to my education and cuts to health care in our province, and it was all because of governments living beyond their means when interest rates were low. As soon as they started moving and the crunch happened, the credit card bill came due.
That Liberal government cut transfer payments. The provincial government in my province of Saskatchewan made cuts to the University of Saskatchewan, where I was going to school. One example that really sticks in my mind concerning the cuts to transfers is that the facilities at the university I was attending were falling down. In the frugal nature of Saskatchewan, we made due with what we could to provide.
I vividly remember writing a final in the gym. It was not really a gym, it was actually a World War II hangar that was moved on to campus. However, it was not just one War World II hangar. The university took another one and stacked the two on top of each other. That is where I was writing a final one morning, and later that day, the building was condemned. It was ready to fall down. It was because of the cuts the federal government made. The credit card bill was due.
Unfortunately, the Liberals have not learned from these tough lessons. More and more Canadians are waking up to the fact that, once interest rates start moving up, we know what will happen because of the fiscal reality of our country and also becasue what the Liberals have done with printing money.
There are numerous countries and societies that thought it would be a good idea to print money to pay bills, but unfortunately we know how that ends for governments, and it is probably worst off for citizens. It is going to cause inflation. Inflation is going to be at a runaway pace with the current plan of the Liberals, which will result in interest rate changes. Interest will go up, which will unfortunately force future governments to make the decision, similar to the nineties and the Liberals, to cut transfers to the provinces, cut services and raise taxes.
That is why I cannot support this budget. This budget contains a lot of new spending and a lot of structural spending, which is going to force us into a worse structural deficit. I am the shadow minister of families, children and social development, and the government day care program falls within my duties. I am very concerned about the direction it will take us fiscally.
Different projections show that by 2026 we are going to be spending $8.3 billion on child care, if this fantasy the Liberals are once again telling comes together. They have been telling this story for the last 30 years.
In 2026, even with interest rates as they are currently, we are going to be paying $39 billion to service the debt. What kind of future are we giving children who apparently are going to be paying for this government's day care program? The problem with what the Liberals are proposing I think is worse because it limits a family's choice. We should be trusting families to make the choices that are right for them. We should be empowering parents and sending them supports to make those decisions, be it for regulated day care, a relative who helps out or someone else who helps with their children. I am very concerned that this program will never get off the ground.
The problem with this budget is there is not a thin nickel going to the provinces in transfers directly for health care. Provinces right now are on their knees. Not one province is in surplus. If a province was going to spend an extra dollar to take care of its responsibilities, as this is a provincial responsibility, it would not spend on child care right now. Because we are in the middle of a pandemic, it would go to health care, and rightfully so. No province is going to be willing to forgo providing the health care we need in order to start a national program with the federal Liberals. I find it very difficult to believe, and this is why it has not gotten off the ground in the 30-some years that the Liberals have been promising this fantasy.
On a positive note, I would like to highlight the spending on the VIDO centre in Saskatoon. It took me 12 months of lobbying to get these dollars finally flowing. This facility was the first to isolate COVID-19 in the world. It has world-leading scientists working on these problems. It had to wait for the budget consultation and 12 months to get its funding, which is wrong.
There are a lot of things wrong with this budget. There are supports that Conservatives supported to make sure we get through the pandemic. We should be there for people who are not able to provide for their families because of government restrictions on their ability to work. We have supported those short-term relief programs. However, the structural deficit this creates, which we were already in before the pandemic, is going to result in a future for our children that is a lot darker than ours. I have issues with spending future generations' wealth today and what that results in. We talk about fiscal pressures that are going to exist with inflation. What is the Liberal government going to cut when the structural deficit credit card bill comes due? This is not a way to operate a country, and I hope that more Canadians are waking up to this pied piper dream. It will result in a darker future for our country and our future generations.
I wish this budget was based more in reality. The fact is that the fiscal capacity for our country is going to be shaken, just as in the 1990s, and I am fearful of what is going to be cut when the credit card bill comes due. Canadians are counting on us. We should be there during the pandemic for relief programs in the short term, but we have to get back to balance.
Circling back once more to the children's story of The Pied Piper of Hamelin, at the tail end of the play, he wanted to take the town's gold or its children. It is important not to see too many parallels with today. For one thing, we should remember that the pied piper actually did a good job of ending the pandemic and, for that matter, what he really wanted was to steal either the town's gold or its children's future, but not both at the same time.
Madam Speaker, today we are talking about the 2021 federal budget. This is the Liberals' first budget in two years.
I have to say that, sadly, this does not bode well for future generations. In addition to about $400 billion in unbudgeted spending over the past year, this budget includes another $150 billion in red ink for the year to come. Moreover, if everything is okay in five years, the government is projecting a more modest $31-billion deficit for 2025-26. On Monday, Radio-Canada described that as pretty close to balancing the budget.
They seem to have lost sight of the value of money. They do not know the difference between $1 and $1 billion. This is nothing like Liberals' fiscal rigour under Jean Chrétien. It does not even come close to what the Liberals under the current promised when, in 2015, the Liberal Party leader projected three small $10-billion deficits and a balanced budget by 2019. Let us not forget that.
I understand, of course, that the pandemic has created the need for temporary support programs to get through this crisis, programs that we have supported and even helped improve many times over the past year. However, that does not explain this orgy of spending, this $101 billion in new spending that is not all related to the pandemic and that, once in place, will be here to stay. A government program is the closest thing to eternal life on earth. It does not actually exist.
Worse still, we learned that the budget, presented in the House of Commons on Monday, was already outdated the next day. The came out and said he would increase health transfers— something the provinces and the opposition parties have been calling for—right after the pandemic. Either the Prime Minister thinks the pandemic is going to last until 2025, or he has not included the increases to health transfers in his spending. This will inevitably add to the deficit after the pandemic.
We also want to act on the request made by the provincial premiers. Ideally, it would be unconditional, because health services are entirely under provincial jurisdiction. The only problem is that the amounts requested are nowhere to be found in the budget.
This budget is an 725-page brick, a half-baked document that the government took two years to complete. It was presented less than 48 hours ago, it has not even been voted on yet, and we already know that the figures for the next five years will have to be modified because the government did not have the foresight to include an amount for health transfers.
I have a feeling that many other amounts will have to be added or modified after seniors aged 65 to 74 begin complaining because they just learned that the announced increase in OAS applies only to those aged 75 and over. This is a measure that involves increasing the pension by 10% next year, but also offering a one-time $500 payment this year, just before the election. In fact, there is a good chance that an election will be triggered in August.
This issue was met with public outcry in my riding, including from Ms. Bélanger in Saint-Jean-Port-Joli, Mr. Fortin in Saint-Aubert, Ms. Plourde in Notre-Dame-du-Portage, Ms. Petit in Rivière-du-Loup and Mr. Saint Pierre in Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pocatière. These people and many others have called me since the budget was tabled, and they are very angry.
The government's discrimination against younger seniors, a group I will soon be a part of, shocked the people at the Fédération de l'âge d'or du Québec, the FADOQ, and other seniors' associations across the country. I would not be surprised if the government eventually had to put things right by raising the pensions of seniors between the ages of 65 and 74. The $12 billion could potentially grow to $24 billion or $30 billion. Once again, the projections in the budget are obsolete.
The budget does not contain more money for the third link in Quebec City or the extension of Highway 20 to Rimouski. If the government is so willing to go into debt and extend the deficits for years and even decades to stimulate the economy, in can at least build something of use for future generations.
We also had to run deficits under the Harper government. Members will recall that deficits were necessary during the 2008-09 crisis. However, the money was used in large part to support our communities by building and renewing infrastructure, which would serve and continues to serve Canadians.
In 10 or 20 years, what will the Liberals' legacy be to justify all these billions of dollars of borrowed money?
After the budget was tabled, we made a troubling discovery. By 2022-23, the deficits that the Liberal government has been accumulating since 2015 will have exceeded the eye-watering sum of $662 billion. That is more than the $630 billion in total debt accumulated by all other prime ministers combined since Confederation. The debt has doubled in the span of eight years. It is unbelievable, and it makes no sense.
Did Canada's GDP double in eight years? Did all Canadians' wages double in eight years? Obviously not. The Liberals just do not get it.
Despite mismanaging its own programs, the Liberal government now wants to get into child care, which it announced a long time ago but never did anything about.
I have nothing against day cares. The shortage of day care spots is a problem for many young mothers in my riding. However, child care, like health, is an area of provincial jurisdiction.
I am certain that the two provincial representatives in my riding are doing everything they can to improve access to child care services in these difficult times. In Quebec, we made the political choice to implement universal access to subsidized day care, and we pay for it with provincial income taxes. As everyone knows, nothing is free. This was a choice we made as a society. Quebeckers agreed to pay more income tax to support young families.
I would like to point out that, in Quebec, individuals pay 15% income tax on the first $45,000, compared with British Columbians, who pay only 5% provincial income tax on the first $42,000. In the next bracket, $84,000, Quebeckers pay 20% of their income to Quebec City, while British Columbians pay only 7.7% of their income to Victoria. That is a difference of 10% to 12%, which is enormous.
I will ask the government this: Why should Quebeckers take on 23% of the new debt? The $30 billion that the Liberals intend to invest in child care will be funded entirely through deficits. Quebec already has a child care system. That means that we will be paying twice, through our income tax, each year. Since the Liberals cannot restrain their centralizing federalist tendencies, we can also expect any transfers or compensation to be subject to the federal government's conditions.
Clearly, today's Liberals are far from being able to manage public funds as well as they did under Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin. Who would have guessed that a Conservative member would ever say such a thing? I have no choice but to admit that some Liberals did do a good job of managing this country.
This budget is a huge, 739-page campaign brochure that is not intended to get the country back on a solid foundation for the future, but to trigger an election and promise something for everyone. Canadians, especially the young Canadians who will have to pay for all of this, are not fooled by this attempt to buy Canadians' votes with their own money.
Two days ago I was shocked by the Liberal budget and I still am. For two days, I have been getting endless phone calls, email and text messages. People in my riding cannot understand why the government chose to run such huge deficits. These deficits were racked up before the infamous pandemic. Mr. Trudeau did not keep his promise. That is the first thing that needs—
Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for .
It is an absolute honour for me to rise in the House today to speak on behalf of the residents in my riding of Davenport. I am truly proud to speak on this historic budget. I have so much to say that I suspect I am going to be running out of time.
I want to begin by acknowledging that my riding, which is in downtown west Toronto, like many places in the GTA, is currently under attack by a devastating third wave of this pandemic. There are four postal codes in my Davenport riding that are considered hot spots for COVID cases. I want to pay special tribute to all the essential workers in my riding, who have already spent more than a year working around the clock to save us and keep us healthy. I want to thank everyone who works in a hospital or a long-term care home, working to exhaustion to keep people safe.
I also want to say a huge thanks to everyone who is working to keep us fed, healthy and safe. I thank those who are working in grocery stores, food services, factories and the TTC and doing all the jobs that keep our committees going. I know they face more risks every single day with the variants that are out there and the risks are much greater, so a heartfelt thanks to all of them.
This pandemic has hit us hard not only from a health perspective, but also from an economic perspective. The COVID recession is the steepest and the fastest since the Great Depression. Some people may look at our government's historic, ambitious budget, which invests over $100 billion over three years, and say that we are overdoing it. What I would like to point out, and I know our has pointed this out, is that we learned from our last recession. It took over 10 years for employment levels to fully recover. We know the investments at that time were limited. We have learned our lessons. We are not going to make the same mistake in federal budget 2021. The economic and human costs of inaction are too great.
As I am sure members have heard, because they have heard so many speeches thus far, there are three key sections in budget 2021: conquering COVID, punching out of this recession, and building a better future. I will touch very briefly on the first two but spend most of my time on the last section and how we are building back Canada better.
With respect to the first part, conquering COVID, as the current third wave is showing us, we are not done with COVID. To conquer the virus, the federal government needs to continue to do whatever it takes for as long as it takes to keep Canadians safe, healthy and supported, and federal budget 2021 has allocated even more funding to extending supports to workers and benefits. We are extending the Canada emergency wage subsidy and the Canada emergency rent subsidy until September 25. We are extending the Canada recovery benefit by another 12 weeks, and we are maintaining flexible EI rules for an extra year until the fall of 2022. Some of the supports taper off a bit in the summer as we expect and hope that our economy will rebound. I know that Davenport workers and businesses can now plan around these supports and know that, as always, our government will be there if they need us. We will have their backs.
On the vaccine front, I am very proud of the fast action of our federal Liberal government early into the pandemic. We have secured contracts for more doses per capita than any other country, and more candidate vaccines. Our vaccine rollout is now third in the G20, behind only the U.S. and the U.K. Around 24% to 25% of our population has been vaccinated with one dose. We are investing a lot to rebuild our own domestic vaccine manufacturing. Budget 2021 proposes over $2 billion more for that, because we know that there is a very high risk that we will need booster shots and maybe even modified vaccines as we move forward, and we want to have the opportunity to be able to create that here in Canada.
Next, I want to talk a bit about punching our way out of this COVID recession. We know that many sectors have been disproportionately devastated by COVID, such as tourism, arts and culture, and the airline industry, among many others. We also know that small and medium-sized businesses have been greatly impacted. We only need to walk along our main streets to see the absolute devastation. Budget 2021 provides quite a bit of support for our small and medium-sized businesses to help them adopt and upgrade their digital technology, rehire laid-off workers and bring on new ones. It provides some special financing that is going to help them to be even better prepared for the challenges and opportunities of the economy moving forward.
In terms of additional supports for many of our hardest-hit industries, I mentioned tourism and festivals and events. There are a lot of events that happen within my own community. We have a huge comedy festival and lots of multi-ethnic festivals, and I know that they will benefit from the $1 billion of additional support that we have put into budget 2021.
I want to give a special shout-out to the arts and culture community in my riding of Davenport. They are huge, vibrant and impactful not only to my local community but to our city and nation. We also have an additional $1 billion of support for the arts and culture sector.
I will devote the rest of time to how we are building back better. There is so much I want to cover, and I will run out of time, but I will do my best to cover the most important elements to the residents in my riding of Davenport.
First is national child care. A lot of people think that downtown, west Toronto is a very wealthy area. However, most of the people in my riding are working-class. There are many working families who are struggling with the highest child care costs in the country. The introduction in budget 2021 of a national child care program will be an absolute game-changer for them. I truly believe that it is the single best thing we can do to restart our economy and to put a solid foundation for our economy for future success. It is going to increase the participation in our workforce that will result in an increase in our GDP. Investing in our kids, investing to ensure that we have full participation is going to be critical for Canada's success in a knowledge and digital economy. Of course, quality early learning and child care will be a great, best possible start for our children. We are setting them up for success early on in their lives.
The next thing I want to talk about are the huge investments we are making on a green recovery and doubling and tripling down on climate action. I will tell members that the number one letter that comes in from Davenport residents outside of anything related to COVID is about ensuring that, as we restart and regrow our economy, we are making sure that we do not stop on our urgent quest to get to net zero by 2050. Our budget commits an additional $18 billion in investments that puts us on track to reducing our emissions by 40% to 45% below 2005 levels by 2030. Our budget actually says 36%, but this morning, our announced that we are actually increasing our ambition to decreasing our carbon emissions to between 40% and 45% below 2005 levels by 2030.
We do have an action plan in place. Mark Carney was saying a couple of weeks ago that Canada is the first of the G7 countries with a climate policy serious enough to make a difference. We are serious about our green recovery, we are serious about moving to net zero and we have a serious plan that is going to ensure that we get there, and now this budget ensures that we have the financial resources to be able to do so.
For workers, we are going to be massively increasing our Canada worker benefit and increasing the federal minimum wage, which is a huge promise of our government and something really important for Davenport residents. We are also extending EI sickness benefits from 15 weeks to 26 weeks, which is something that many of our communities, non-profit organizations and advocates have been asking for. This is going to be a game-changer for those who are seriously ill and do not want to have to think about taking care themselves or making a choice between taking care of themselves and putting food on the table.
There are significant investments in our seniors, long-term care standards and increasing the OAS for those over 75. We also have a lot of investments in youth that I am really proud of. We want to make sure that they are not a lost generation. As well, there is over $18 billion to help support our indigenous people toward reconciliation and righting the wrongs of Canada's past and present.
I will end by saying that we have put a significant amount of money around migrant workers and immigration, which is close to my heart, because I believe that future Canadian economic success depends on a great immigration policy.
Madam Speaker, it is my honour and pleasure to contribute to the debate on this historic budget. First, let us acknowledge the history that has been made, as my colleague, the , is the first female to deliver a budget in our chambers, showing young women and girls across this country that when women lead, we change politics. This is a powerful moment, but is not only a symbolic one. It also reinforces our commitment to support women and youth, along with our commitment to preserving our environment across our nation.
We know that many families with young children have been struggling trying to find affordable child care during the pandemic while they are at work. Women are the backbone of this country and this pandemic alone has shown us how resilient they are. Our government will support women in my riding and across this country with up to $30 billion over five years, reaching an all-time high of $8.3 billion every year permanently to build a high-quality, affordable, inclusive and accessible early learning and child care system across Canada. This will directly improve the lives of over 10,000 families in my riding of Richmond Hill. This investment is a step toward removing barriers that women and young families face. It is a plan to drive economic growth, a plan to increase women’s participation in the workforce and a plan to offer each child in Canada the best start in life.
Make no mistake, this government is committed to supporting families with young children, women and reconciliation with our first nations, Métis and indigenous people. Our government will invest more than $6 billion for infrastructure in indigenous communities, and $2.2 billion to help end the national tragedy of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls.
Furthermore, on the note of moving forward, this pandemic has had an impact on our youth and students from coast to coast to coast. Our government is supporting the future generations of our nation. We have an enormous pool of diverse and talented students, like those in Richmond Hill, who will become doctors, technicians, teachers and even the future members of this legislature. Our budget will help those students across our country.
During this time, we have heard from many students who are burdened by student debt and are struggling to find work. We are committed to ensuring that this pandemic does not derail their futures. This budget will support our students with over $5.7 billion over the next five years to help young Canadians pursue and complete their education, creating 215,000 new job skills development and work opportunities. During the pandemic, our government made a six-month grace period after leaving studies interest free. We will waive interest on student loans for one year and enhance the repayment system so that no student earning less than $40,000 per year will need to make payments on their federal student loans.
In addition, our government believes that our youth are the leaders of not only tomorrow but today. That is why in this budget we will double the Canada student grants, providing additional support for 580,000 students who rely on student loans. This will effectively cover 90% of the average undergraduate tuition in Canada for low-income students. It is crucial that we are equipping our youth with tools and resources for them to succeed, and that is exactly what our government aims to do.
Similarly, as an advocate for the environment myself, I am proud because this government recognizes that climate change is indeed real. We must protect our planet, as we owe that to our children. I have spoken in this House before about how important it is for me to leave behind a planet that is safe for my children. This budget recognizes that investing in green recovery initiatives is the right thing to do. That is why we are proposing a historic investment of $5 billion over seven years in the net-zero accelerator. With this added support, on top of the $3 billion we committed in December, the net-zero accelerator will help even more companies invest to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, while growing their businesses.
Our government will accelerate Canada's net-zero transformation through innovation, propel clean technology projects, grow zero-emissions technology manufacturing and accelerate investment in clean energy technology.
This is the change for which Canadians like the members of my Community Environmental Council have been pushing. These green investments will allow companies like Tavos Industries, which produces eco-friendly products, and Greenbrain Inc., an organization committed to promoting conservation and sustainability, all of which I am proud to have in my riding, to thrive.
Additionally, our budget will provide up to $8 billion of support for projects that will help reduce domestic greenhouse gas emissions across the Canadian economy.
This is a government that will act on climate change, that will protect the future of our youth and multiple precious ecosystems that span across the country, from the west coast of British Columbia to the northern coast of Nunavut all the way to the east coast Nova Scotia.
This budget is an investment for a healthier society and keeps our promise to our youth, acting on the urgency of protecting our planet. The time to act on health and future of the planet is now.
Last, the budget will provide much-needed economic support to Canadians. The measures I mentioned include increasing our support to families with young children, reducing student debt and investing in a cleaner future. Most important, the budget is an investment in mental health resources, resources that are needed as we move past this pandemic.
The budget includes several notable measures that address the social and economic factors of mental health. Budget 2021 proposes to provide $45 million over two years, starting in 2021-22, to Health Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada's, the national mental health service standards in collaboration with provinces and territories, health organizations and key stakeholders. This pandemic has taken a toll on Canadians, students, seniors and those working on the front lines. We thank them all. The mental health of Canadians is just as important as their physical health.
Earlier this year this government announced Wellness Together Canada and funding for Kids Help Phone, which we plan to extend. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated existing mental health challenges for Canadians and has increased the number of Canadians in crisis.
Making mental health services easier to access will have substantial benefits for Canadians and help save lives. The mental health of Canadians matters.
In closing, this budget outlines our promise and commitment to a more inclusive Canada, finishing the fight against COVID-19 and healing the wounds left by the COVID-19 recession. It is about creating more jobs and prosperity for Canadians in the days and decades to come.
If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it is that we are all in this together. Canada succeeds when all Canadians can participate in the economic growth and make ends meet. Canadians deserve a government that will put their needs and best interests first, a government that supports women, reconciles with indigenous peoples, supports the future of youth, acts on the urgency of climate change and supports the mental health of Canadians.
Our government does exactly that in the budget. This is a budget for Canada and for all Canadians. Better days are ahead.
Madam Speaker, it is my pleasure to split my time with the fabulous member for .
My hope was that this budget would contain provisions that would provide a road for economic recovery. Unfortunately, while the government announced record spending, it did not introduce a responsible economic recovery plan. This is something my constituents are rightfully concerned about, as the debt that will be incurred will be felt for literally generations.
The temporary measures put in place during the pandemic were always seen by me as a bridge to brighter days, a future where Canadians could return to their normal lives, content in the knowledge that Canada was secured by a thriving private sector and a supportive government. However, increasingly it appears the government is content to build a bridge to nowhere, a future not of abundance and freedom but instead characterized by debt-created scarcity.
In a report last week, the C.D. Howe Institute warned “fiscal stability would still be jeopardized by the prospect of other expensive initiatives recently floated by the federal government.” The fact that the private sector is recovering through its own determination, perseverance and innovation seems to be not deterring the government from making record expenditures. “An improving economic outlook has weakened the case for stimulus”, is what the RBC said, “though the government's appetite to spend hasn't changed.”
The Liberal government's solution may very well do more harm than good. A recent Parliamentary Budget Office report noted that another stimulus package was not what was needed now. While temporary stimulus of this magnitude would likely provide a significant boost to the Canadian economy, it would result materially in larger budgetary deficits and higher federal debt over the long and medium term.
None of this spending is conditional. The government is going to spend it anyway, without knowing what will happen in the economy in three to five years. The public is completely and unfortunately being desensitized to these massive deficits. Running $30 billion for one program used to be a lot of money. This is revenue that could be directed to support our important social safety net. For example, in 2026, the government will spend $8.3 billion on child care, but $39 billion on debt interest payments.
Every day this year, we will spend $422,465,750 more than what we will generate in revenue. Every Canadian is taking on more than $100 every day in new federal debt. For a family of four, that equates to more than $3,000 a week in new federal debt. Many families do not earn $3,000 a week in total, much less taking on $3,000 each week in new federal debt.
The government's own fiscal projections show that in four years we may have a debt-to-GDP ratio of under 50%. Talk about moving the goal posts. This rivals them setting a target for vaccinations such that, if we achieve it, we may be in the top 100 in the world. According to this projection, this unremarkable achievement is a goal that we should not be attempting to achieve, but even if we do attempt to achieve it, it may be impossible. The problem with this idea is that it expects nothing unexpected to happen. However, we know, from 9/11 to the great financial meltdown to the global pandemic, nearly always something unexpected happens.
Prime Minister Harper rebuilt our financial house after the financial crisis of 2008, which allowed us to weather this latest crisis, despite five years of excessive spending. The challenge we are facing now is that we will simply not be able to weather another significant economic shock. The next shock could come any number of forms, perhaps a collapse in the housing market, the escalation of global tension, a rise in inflation or in interest rates, the devastating impacts of climate change, because even though we in the House have committed to reducing our carbon output, China continues to dramatically increase theirs.
Nobody, including the 's millionaire friends who helped draft this budget, know when the next shock could be.
What will we do if this shock happens and we have a debt-to-GDP ratio in excess of 50%, or even just below 50%? We simply will not have the firepower to respond to it. However, maybe we will be extraordinarily fortunate and not experience an economic downturn in the next 10 years. Maybe interest rates will remain at historic lows, which may mean that maintaining a 50% debt-to-GDP ratio might be sustainable. Even if that were the case, I still have some skepticism that the government would be able to stay within its means.
The best projections for the future are usually generated by studying the past. The government was elected in 2015 with a promise to deliver a balanced budget after running several itsy-bitsy, modest deficits, then it said it would maintain surpluses for the remainder of its mandate. This, however, did not happen. The budget did not balance itself, as it turns out. Balancing the budget would have taken relatively modest tweaks to either increase revenue or reduce spending, but the government simply lacked the ability, discipline or the will to make this happen.
Achieving a debt-to-GDP ratio of less than 50% would require a massive reduction in government expenditures in the coming years and would involve tough decisions, including inevitably bringing to an end many pandemic support programs. The government, which could not reduce spending or grow revenue by billions pre-pandemic, is now telling us it will reduce spending not by billions, but by hundreds of billions. Please excuse my skepticism on this.
The , in her budgetary address, repeatedly stated that her plan for the future would grow the economy out of debt. In principle, I agree with that approach. Economic growth is the best and maybe the only path forward to help us maintain our jobs and pay down our massive debt. However, this budget simply will not achieve that stated objective. This budget continues the unprecedented level of spending and government interference in the economy.
Over 2,000 years of economic history has proved to us, over and over again, that while the government can build a framework to support businesses, it cannot create economic growth by itself. Let me be clear that only the private sector, only Canadian workers through their perseverance, tenacity, work ethic and innovation, can expand our economy. While the government cannot in itself create economic growth, it can certainly inhibit or even stop economic growth by overburdening the private sector with needless regulation and excessive taxation
The budget's forecast of $1.4 trillion of national debt has the potential to starve our economy and future businesses of the capital they need to grow and expand. The servicing costs of this debt will force our government to put a greater burden on our workers and confiscate their ability to invest in our economy.
Why, then, would the government table a budget that introduces unneeded stimulus and massive amounts of spending? French philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville once wrote that democracy will endure until the day that politicians realize they can bribe people with their own money. It is clear to me that the government is utilizing the power of a budget to table an election platform, not an economic recovery plan, with the hopes of buying Canadian votes with their hard-earned money.
We have reached a moment of truth. There is a tipping point, if not in this budget, then in the next election. We must decide whether we believe in Canadians or in an ever-expanding federal government. Do we believe in democracy or bureaucracy? Do we believe in Canadians' ability to decide their own destiny, or in an ever-growing centralized government that controls Canadians' lives?