The House resumed from May 5 consideration of the motion that Bill , be read the second time and referred to a committee.
Mr. Speaker, I say again in appreciation this morning that I am speaking from the traditional territory of the QayQayt First Nation and the Coast Salish Peoples.
Yesterday, I mentioned that this pandemic had been a tale of two countries: one is a country where billionaires have seen their wealth increase by $78 billion and where banks received $750 billion in liquidity supports, and the other is a country where people are struggling.
That is the fundamental issue we have to think about as we implement the budget through the passage of Bill .
I spoke yesterday about the impacts of this pandemic. I spoke of businesses closing their doors forever. These are small community businesses, family-run businesses and community businesses that struggled to maintain themselves during the pandemic. I spoke about the front-line workers, health care workers and first responders, all of whom have shown incredible tenacity and courage while going about their jobs of making sure as many lives are preserved as possible through this pandemic. We mourn the 24,000 Canadians who have died so far in this pandemic.
I also spoke yesterday, and want to engage today, on what has happened to the vast majority of Canadians through this pandemic. The government, through Bill , is basically doing a victory lap. It is saying, even as this third wave crashes upon our shores, that we need to scale back on supports that are given to Canadians.
This contrasts vividly with the remarkable speed with which the government stepped in, within four days of the pandemic hitting, and provided the banking sector with $750 billion in liquidity supports. The government's first priority, coming through the pandemic, was to make sure that bank profits were maintained. That is a source of shame that should last for the entire government mandate.
However, to the credit of Canadian democracy, in a minority Parliament the NDP caucus was able to shift the government's priority from banks and billionaires to putting in place programs that would make a difference for people. These included the emergency response benefit, support for students, support for seniors and support for people with disabilities, which I will come back to because it is full of holes and simply inadequate to meet their needs, as are many of the programs that we forced the government to put into place. We also forced the government to ensure sick leave and put in place a wage subsidy to maintain jobs and maintain businesses. We also fought and pushed for rent relief for small businesses.
All of those things came as a result of NDP pressure. In a minority Parliament, thankfully because of the strength of Canadian democracy, we were able to bring that about. The reality is that there are two countries: one of banks and billionaires, and another of everyone else, where we know that the majority of Canadians are within $200 of insolvency in any given month and we continue to see Canadians struggling to make ends meet, to put food on the table and keep roofs over their heads. The growing number of homeless people across our country is a testament to the impact of the pandemic and the inadequacy of the government response.
What does Bill do? As I mentioned earlier, it basically does a victory lap on all of those supports that the NDP forced the government to put in place. Regarding the response benefit, we see a dramatic cut in July. That is within a few weeks. As this third wave crashes on our shores, we see the government moving to dramatically slash emergency supports. We see that the wage subsidy and rent relief are all going to be phased out over the course of the summer, starting within a few weeks' time, at the very worst time in the pandemic.
We spoke last night about the crisis in Alberta, which is now the worst-hit jurisdiction in all of North America. At this critical time, the government says its job is done, its mission is accomplished and it is going to start withdrawing those supports.
We add to this the impact of government policies, for example CRA going after Canadians who were victims of fraud. We have seen over the past few years numerous cases, including with Desjardins, in which private information was leaked out, and fraudsters used it to apply for CERB in people's names. CRA is demanding repayment from people who never received payments in the first place.
Members will recall that last June the government wanted to go even further. It wanted to put people in jail if somebody else used their private information and defrauded the public. Fraud is a serious issue. The government should have put in place systems to prevent that, but the government overreach of asking people who were victims to pay back moneys they never received is unbelievable. That is how the government is reacting to ordinary people.
What has it done at this unprecedented time? This is the first crisis in Canadian history where the ultra-rich have not been asked to pay their fair share. Through World War II, Canada put in place an excess profits tax and wealth taxes to ensure that, because we were all in this together, everybody had to pay their fair share. Coming out of World War II, after vanquishing Nazism and fascism, we had the wherewithal to make unprecedented investments that led to the most prosperous period in Canadian history. These were investments in housing, education, health care and transportation.
What has happened this time? What has the current government done through this pandemic? It has basically given a free ride to the ultra-rich. Canadian billionaires, who have received over $78 billion in increased wealth, are not being asked to chip in or pay their taxes. There is no wealth tax, even though the PBO estimates that would bring in $10 billion a year. There is no pandemic profits tax, even though the Parliamentary Budget Officer estimates it would create $8 billion. That would be enough to eliminate homelessness in our country and ensure the right to housing, a roof over every single Canadian's head, yet the government refuses to do any of that.
The government did put a symbolic luxury tax in place, which is less than 1¢ for every dollar the PBO believes would be raised for the public good if a wealth tax were put into place. Curiously, that is one little symbolic gesture that the Liberals love to wave. They put a tax on yachts, so that means they are taking care of massive inequality, but it is not even in Bill . What we actually see is a shell game. It is smoke and mirrors, with a tiny symbolic luxury tax of less than 1¢ for every dollar that a wealth tax would bring in, and that is not even on the government's radar screen.
It made the commitment and the promise, but as we have seen with so many other promises by the Liberal government, it is simply not worth the paper it is printed on. To reference previous broken promises, we just need to point to public universal pharmacare. Canadians have been waiting on its repeated promises for over 25 years. Regarding child care, we are told this time that the Liberals really mean it, but there are nearly 30 years of broken promises. Regarding boil-water advisories, there is over a decade of broken promises. The government says it really wants to tackle inequality. That is very rich, given that it has not done that either in the budget or in the budget implementation act.
The proposed act includes some curious and somewhat bizarre measures. For example, the budget implementation act acknowledges the increasing poverty of seniors, but says that seniors are only in this crucial poverty over the age of 75. Seniors from 65 to 74 would not get an OAS top-up, but seniors over 75 would. Poverty impacts all seniors, and for the government to discriminate is unacceptable. Also, the government acknowledges that students are having a tough time throughout this pandemic and would waive loan interest payments, but it is still forcing students to pay the principle. Students have to pay their loans back despite having to struggle through the pandemic.
I mentioned earlier the issues for people with disabilities who have struggled unbelievably throughout this pandemic. The NDP fought, not once or twice, but half a dozen times to finally get a one-time payment of $600 for a third of people with disabilities. Of all the fights that I mentioned at the beginning of my speech, it is the one for people with disabilities that the government resisted the most. Contrast this with the $750 billion given to the Bay Street banks in the blink of an eye. In four days, the government weighed in to maintain bank profits. However, of people with disabilities, who are struggling through this pandemic, who are half of the people who line up at food banks every week and who are many of the homeless in this country, one-third were given a one-time $600 payment. What does Bill reserve for them? The government has decided that it will do a three-year consultation to figure out whether people with disabilities really have any needs to be met. These people are being asked to wait three years, but it took four days for the government to weigh in with a $750 billion liquidity support bailout package. It is unbelievable, unacceptable and irresponsible.
Members might ask if there are any elements in the budget implementation act that I support. This government, which is so tired and so prone to spinning and acting rather than actually doing what comes with being the government, was struggling for inspiration. I gather somebody in the Prime Minister's Office discovered that they could be inspired by the 2015 NDP election platform. Tom Mulcair went to the public with a commitment for universal child care and a commitment to raise the federal minimum wage. Members will recall that the and Liberals at the time mocked the NDP for bringing these things forward. Well, that is the only thing that has inspired this government now. After six years of failure, the Liberals discovered that maybe the NDP election platform for 2015 was good and copied some of its elements. Now, in good faith, we say to the government let us get going on a minimum wage and let us get going on child care. We are here to make sure these things happen. We do not want this to be yet another empty Liberal platitude and another empty Liberal broken promise. We want to work with this government to make those things realities and not just other commitments or promises that it breaks for a quarter of a century, which has been the history of Liberal governments.
My final point is this. We do not see any real response to the crisis in housing affordability. It was Liberals who ended the national housing program, and they have yet to respond in any meaningful way. We also see the tragic, broken commitment to indigenous peoples and dozens of indigenous communities who do not have safe drinking water, and this government is now putting off any commitment to end the dangerous situation of boil-water advisories for another half decade. What message does that send to indigenous people, and what message does that send to indigenous children?
Bill has elements showing that the Liberals were able to copy the NDP platform from 2015. They should be inspired more from what the NDP is putting forward today, resolve these issues on behalf of Canadians and end the appalling levels of inequality that we are seeing in this country.
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to virtually participate in today’s debate on the budget implementation act, as this is an important piece of legislation, which I believe we need to pass swiftly in order to deliver much-needed support to my constituents in Scarborough Centre.
Budget 2021 is an important and transformative plan, and Bill begins the process of putting this vision into action. It is a vision that recognizes where we are today, which is not yet through a pandemic that is still causing real challenges for many. It also recognizes the need to be ready for a post-pandemic Canada and begin laying the foundation for an economic recovery that would ensure no one in our country is left behind.
In Scarborough Centre, we are in the grip of the third wave. Most of our community is a designated COVID hot spot. Residents are eager to be vaccinated, and with more and more vaccines flowing into Canada every week, thanks to the diligent work of the , vaccination rates are steadily rising. Vaccinations are a team Canada effort, and I am proud of how the federal and provincial governments are working together. I am especially proud of the hard work being done by local health authorities and our frontline health workers.
It is clear to me that there is still the need to support small businesses and individual Canadians through this pandemic. My community is one of small businesses. If one drives along Lawrence Avenue East from Victoria Park to Bellamy, they will not see any national chains. They will see countless family-owned and family-run restaurants, convenience stores and small groceries. These businesses are struggling and they still need our help.
Budget 2021 answers that call. We will extend the Canada emergency wage subsidy and the Canada emergency rent subsidy and lockdown support until September 25, allowing businesses to keep staff on payroll and pay the rent as the pandemic curtails revenues. We will also improve the Canada small business financing program designed for small and medium-sized businesses by expanding loan eligibility, increasing loan maximums and expanding program eligibility.
The budget also continues important support for individuals and families by providing up to 12 additional weeks of Canada recovery benefit support and expanding availability until September 25. We are committing to maintaining flexible access to employment insurance benefits for another year and extending the EI sickness benefit from 15 to 26 weeks.
Since the beginning of this pandemic more than a year ago, our government has been firm in its commitment to all Canadians. We will be there support them for as long as it takes. At the same time, budget 2021 looks ahead to a post-pandemic Canada and to laying the foundation for Canada to build back stronger, with a recovery that all Canadians can be a part of.
This pandemic has not impacted everyone equally. While I have been privileged to be able to work from home, many of my constituents cannot. Those with essential jobs, or jobs that cannot be done remotely, have to keep going into work. They stock our grocery shelves and cook our take-out meals. They sort and deliver our online orders. They expose themselves to greater risk, both in their workplaces and during their commutes. They are lower income and often from racialized communities. COVID has hit these communities harder.
The pandemic has also had a greater impact on women. Last summer, at the Standing Committee on the Status of Women, we studied the impact of the pandemic on women. We heard how the pandemic has led to women taking on more caregiving responsibilities within the household, especially in intergenerational households, both for children now doing virtual learning, as well as older parents needing care.
One of the key messages we heard was the importance of access to quality and affordable early learning and child care as part of any post-COVID recovery. As the first wave of the pandemic receded last summer and people began to return to work, we saw that women who had lost their jobs were not returning to work at nearly the same rate men were. One of the reasons is access to child care, and not all families can even afford child care when it is available.
This is not just a social issue; it is also an economic issue. If our economy is going to return to previous levels and grow, we need both men and women to be able to choose to participate in the workforce. A lack of access to child care is a major barrier to labour market access for some Black, indigenous, racialized and newcomer women.
The words of Armine Yalnizyan, an economist and the Atkinson fellow on the future of workers, really resonated with me. She said:
...there will be no recovery without a she-covery and no she-covery without child care. Let me be really clear. If we don't do this, we are actually voting to move towards economic depression—and not a recession but a prolonged contraction of GDP—by policy design.
Our budget’s plan for early learning and child care is not just innovative social policy. It is a necessity for our post-pandemic economic recovery. When women can choose to participate fully in the workforce, it is easier for businesses to access the labour and talent they need to grow their business.
When I was a mother of young children, as my husband and I were just beginning our lives here in Canada, we could not afford quality child care. I had no choice but to stay home and put off entering the workforce and beginning my career in Canada. I cherish the time I got to spend with my boys in their early years, but I want women today to be able to have the choice to make the decision that is best for them. It is their choice, and I support them whatever it is, but I want them to have a choice. This is a policy whose time has come.
We must also recognize the impact this pandemic has had on seniors. My riding is home to many long-term care homes, which I always enjoyed visiting before the pandemic. It has been painful to see how they have suffered over the past year. Budget 2021 proposes to invest $3 billion, working with the provinces to develop national standards for long-term care, and improve the safety and quality of life for seniors in care.
I was recently able to announce over one million dollars in joint federal-provincial funding to help two long-term care homes in my riding to improve their air quality and ventilation systems. This is vitally important funding that will keep seniors safer and healthier, as well as the hard-working staff. I am so glad to see the federal and provincial governments working on this. This is what we owe our seniors, and I hope this co-operation can continue to work to develop national standards.
Since we took office in 2015, 25% fewer seniors are living in poverty. With budget 2021, we are building on that progress by increasing OAS by 10% for seniors age 75 and over, which will help lift even more seniors out of poverty.
We are also providing needed assistance for our youth, who have seen major disruptions to learning during this pandemic. With budget 2021, we are extending the waiver of interest accrual on Canada student loans and Canada apprentice loans until March 31, 2023. We will also double Canada student grants and create new training and work opportunities for young Canadians, so they gain valuable skills and experience in the workforce. Our youth are our future. We must support them and set them up with the tools and support they need to succeed.
I look forward to working with my colleagues to see these important initiatives passed, so our constituents have the support they need to make it through this pandemic and build back stronger than before.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill , which would implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on April 19, 2021.
At the outset, it bears recognizing that budget 2021 is unlike most budgets tabled in the House throughout Canada’s short but storied history. Much has been written about the length of the budget, and, yes, it is the longest budget in our history. It is also the first federal budget in Canadian history to be tabled by a woman finance minister, a glass ceiling long overdue for shattering, and it does come with over two years past since the previous budget, budget 2019.
Budget 2021 is truly one of a kind, one might say unprecedented, much like these last two years have been, as Canadians persevere through the worst global pandemic health crisis in recent memory. This unique budget responds to these unique times, the serious challenges created and exacerbated by COVID-19. It lays the foundation for a more prosperous future, a more inclusive future, a greener future and a future that we can be proud to pass on to our kids and grandkids, knowing that we seized the moment and emerged from this dark period in our history with a bold vision for a better Canada and the courage to act on it.
While it is prudent for the government to begin charting our path out of this pandemic, that is not to say that it is yet behind us, far from it. In fact, today, here in Nova Scotia, we are under lockdown. Our schools and shops have moved online, and strict gathering restrictions are in effect; this, as the third wave and its more dangerous, more contagious variants are hammering Nova Scotia with its highest daily case rates of COVID-19 since the start of this pandemic. It is a reminder to all of us how quickly things can change, even with leadership that listens to and respects the expert advice of public health officials.
Not long ago, Nova Scotia was the envy of Canada, with low cases and no community transmission. All it took was one thoughtless group of interprovincial travellers and, just like that, COVID-19 began to spread across our province like wildfire.
We are in a race. It is variants versus vaccines.
That is why on the morning of my birthday, as soon as I became eligible, I signed up for the first vaccine I could, the AstraZeneca. Yesterday, I got my first jab at Boyd’s Pharmasave, a new pharmacy in north end Halifax, opened by Greg Richard and celebrated for its inclusive approach to pharmacy, particularly for the LGBTQ2+ people. I thank Greg.
Getting vaccinated and defeating COVID-19 are the first steps to the economic recovery outlined in this budget. The sooner everyone is vaccinated; the sooner life returns to something more like normal, the sooner we are safe, the sooner we can hug our loved ones, the sooner our businesses can open up again and the sooner we can all go back to work.
As our vaccine rollout continues on schedule, putting Canada consistently in the top three of the G20 for vaccines administered by population, budget 2021 would extend our substantial and effective COVID-19 financial aid programs to Canadians and to the businesses at which they work and upon which they rely.
A year ago, when COVID-19 ground Canada to a sudden halt, the impact on our daily lives and our local economies was immediate. Our government sprang into action. From day one, we promised we would be there for Canadians, and that is exactly what we have done.
Here are the numbers to prove it: nine million Canadians received the Canada emergency response benefit, putting food on the table for out-of-work families; $2 billion for businesses and non-profits through the emergency rent subsidy; 4.4 million Canadian jobs protected through the emergency wage subsidy; and $8 out of every $10 in financial aid to Canadians through this pandemic has come via our federal government.
We promised we would be there for Canadians for as long as it takes, and this budget keeps that promise.
First, the budget will extend flexible access to EI benefits for one more year until the fall of 2022. These changes have made it easier for Canadians to qualify for higher benefits sooner. Next, we will be extending the Canada recovery benefit until September 25 to cover Canadians who do not qualify EI, like self-employed and gig workers. The budget also includes new measures for low-income workers, a significant $8.9-billion investment to expand the Canada workers benefit for one million Canadians, lifting one hundred thousand people out of poverty. Other parties have talked about it, but we are the ones doing it. This budget will introduce a $15-an-hour federal minimal wage.
For businesses being asked to lockdown to help stop the spread, like those in my riding today, the budget will extend the Canada emergency rent subsidy to the end of September. For businesses that have seen a drop in revenue because of COVID-19, the budget will also extend the Canada emergency wage subsidy to the end of September. We are going further, introducing a brand new program we are calling the Canada hiring benefit. For businesses experiencing a decline in revenues, this subsidy will make it easier for businesses to hire back laid-off workers or to bring on new ones.
All told, these investments are our plan to support Canadians in regaining the one million jobs lost to the pandemic. We have done it before, and we will do it again.
The pandemic has exposed an urgent need for national action on child care. From the day our assumed that office, she has made it clear that fighting the so-called “she-cession” is a priority of our feminist government. We cannot allow the legacy of this pandemic to be the scaling back of all the hard-fought advances that women have made in workforce.
That is why budget 2021 makes a generational investment to build a Canada-wide early learning and child care system. Our plan aims to slash fees for parents with children in regulated child care by half on average by 2022, with the goal of reaching $10 per day child care on average by 2026. This is a necessary investment, one that is a long time coming. While other parties have talked about doing it, we are the ones actually doing it, putting $30 billion on the table to finally get this done for Canadian families.
I come to the House from a long career in city planning in the public, private and academic sectors, including in my hometown of Halifax, the riding I am now honoured to represent as a member of Parliament. That career showed me first-hand and up close how vitally important housing was to a community. Without access to housing that is safe, secure, dignified and at a price people can afford, every other goal a person has in life becomes secondary.
I made the jump into politics in 2015, and became the first city planner elected to this place, because I believed the federal government needed to do more to support the communities Canadians called home, to help undo the decade of neglect by the previous government when it came to community investment, including in affordable housing.
We spared no time getting to work, and today Canadians have a federal government that is finally making the necessary investments in housing. The national housing strategy, released in 2017, has already delivered $25 billion in housing projects, and remains on track to reach $70 billion by 2027-28.
At home in Halifax, as our population rapidly grows, so does the need for more affordable housing. I recently announced the new Canada-Nova Scotia targeted housing benefit, which provides $200 a month to qualifying, low-income, vulnerable individuals to help pay for housing.
To help increase housing supply, our federal government has made major investments in Halifax so far this year, including $8.6 million under the rapid housing initiative to create 52 units in Halifax via three projects in partnership with the Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre, the North End Community Health Centre and Adsum for Women and Children.
Because of the success of the rapid housing initiative which, as its title suggests, invests in projects that can create affordable housing quickly, budget 2021 proposes a $1.5 billion top-up to this program. This funding will create up to 4,500 permanent, affordable homes on top of the 4,700 we already have built under this initiative, all within 12 months.
This budget recognizes that building an equitable Canada requires targeted investments that support marginalized communities. To continue down the path of reconciliation, this budget invests $18 billion in indigenous communities, including another $6 billion for infrastructure and $2.2 billion to end the tragedy of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls once and for all.
To fight systemic racism and empower under-represented communities, the budget makes a number of substantial investments, including $200 million toward the Black-led philanthropic endowment fund to support Black-led charities and organizations serving youth; new funding to combat hate and racism during COVID-19, particularly against Asian Canadians; and enhancing the communities at risk security infrastructure program to protect communities at risk of hate-motivated crimes.
For our seniors, we are building on our progress made; 25% fewer seniors live in poverty than when we took office in 2015. Budget 2021 goes even further by increasing old age security by 10% for seniors aged 75 and older. Today, our investments in senior benefits are over double our expenditure in the Canada child benefit. By 2026, our investments in seniors will surpass the total expenditure of the Canada health transfer and equalization payments combined.
This is a historic budget. Certainly, its size makes it difficult to speak to all the important investments it proposes. In short, this is the budget that will lead Canada out of the pandemic, chart our economic recovery and build a brighter tomorrow. I hope all members in the House will join me in voting in favour.
Mr. Speaker, it is an honour for me to sit in this virtual Parliament and address the 2021 budget, a budget which unfortunately saw this pandemic as an opportunity to reimagine the economy, rather than something from which Canadians desperately need to recover. This is obviously, as the Liberals say, an election budget. It is an inflation plan. It is an inflation tax. It is not a recovery plan and it is a huge credit card bill.
If we can contrast, historically in Canada governments used to promote jobs and jobs of the future. Instead, the Liberals have taken this opportunity to promote credit and credit cards. The was even so bold to say he was going to go into debt so Canadians do not have to. Imagine that, we have a Prime Minister who in his private life before politics never did have a job that supported his lifestyle. When the vacations came, it was dad's credit card, along with the ski vacations and the cars. There was always somebody else paying the bill.
This might explain why the Liberals are now practising a certain type of economics. They call it modern monetary theory. In other words, the Liberals have no plan ever to balance the budget. What they are leaving for Canadians and future governments is debt forever. Some people think this is the highest intergenerational theft in the history of Canada. He is leaving $1.4 trillion to future generations, a burden on our kids and grandkids.
The amount is huge. The is printing $3 billion a week to service his agenda. Instead of leaving a better economy to our kids, the Prime Minister, with his action, is destroying their opportunities for a better future.
Here in Oshawa, we have a huge investment in the jobs of the future. We are a university town. Ontario Tech has made huge investments in educating the kids of the future for the jobs of the future, which will help us get out of this pandemic.
Sadly, in 2018, Brock University did a study with the University of Toronto and the Munk School of Global Affairs. It was entitled “Reversing the Brain Drain: Where is Canadian STEM Talent Going?” This was in 2018, before the pandemic. It found that 65% of Canadian software engineers are leaving Canada right after they get their education here, plus 30% of other STEM students are leaving Canada. In other words, Canada is making investments to educate kids for the jobs of the future, but because of the government's lack of opportunities for kids to stay in this country, they unfortunately are leaving and they are leaving in accelerated numbers.
The next phase of global growth and recovery is going to be centred on technology. As the Liberals praise themselves that they are building back better, I would say that they are building back broken. This budget, as I just asked the , has no incentive for young people to stay.
As other countries promote growth, Canada stalls with this budget. My colleagues have spoken about Robert Asselin and David Dodge saying that this budget has no answer for investment in growth. We see the United States, and also China, India, Italy, the United Kingdom and Japan, that are all going to be winning the future technological race with our own Canadian students. Our youth is our most important investment and most important resource. We need to do things to keep them in this country.
I have been working with youth locally and one of the things that they told me is mental health issues are huge and very important in this global pandemic. The provinces asked the for a very simple investment. It was $4 billion and during this horrible pandemic, what did he say to the provinces? He said to wait for it, they will do it later.
In my member's statement last week, I actually addressed the need for all Canadians, now more than ever, to have improved access to mental health.
There are organizations in Oshawa. If members can see behind me, the Simcoe Street United Church houses The Back Door Mission. There is also an organization called The Refuge that really focuses on street youth and youth with mental health issues. However, they cannot do it alone. They need the support of the federal government.
My colleague from has been pushing a 988 suicide crisis line in order to help Canadian—
Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with my colleague from .
To finish off my thought on the mental health issue, it matters. The pandemic has had a horrible effect with these lockdowns. Fortunately, the Conservative leader has identified the importance of improving access to mental health in our recovery plan.
Some of my colleagues have quite rightly said that this budget fails to provide security for all seniors. I got a call from Maurice, a senior in my community, who does not fit in the Liberal agenda of supporting a two-tiered senior demographic. My mom, who is 93, is very pleased, but, unfortunately, this budget leaves many seniors behind. What we are seeing in this budget is the politics of division practised by the Liberal government that is putting one group of seniors against another. This goes against everything that Canadians have stood for in the past as far as fairness to all Canadians when we put budgets forward.
When we talk about youth in Canada and how to get them to want to stay in our country, raise their families and have a career here, we have to look at their housing opportunities. It has been the Canadian dream to own a home, to invest and stay in this country, but this budget has absolutely nothing to help young people own a home who want to. It addresses social housing, but if we listen to students and young people, they do not want social housing. They want the opportunity to live the Canadian dream. Again, unfortunately, in this budget, we are not seeing that.
I can say there is one thing about housing in the budget that is a good idea, which is creating the beneficial ownership registry. I am supportive of that. I think it is a good idea, but the 1% on foreign owners is just going to be the cost of doing business. The government has to look at this again because we have to make sure there is a path for home ownership for young people.
This budget completely omits any emergency support for new businesses. I have talked about some of the small businesses, such as Julie and Victor at the Bulldog Pub & Grill in south Oshawa by the 401. They bought their business just before the pandemic occurred. Conservatives have been asking the government to be more flexible in its programs and we support these programs for businesses and individuals, but there is nothing in the budget for these businesses.
Then there are veterans organizations. I am wearing my 420 Wing tie today. We had the president attend a Veterans Affairs committee and report on what we could do to help veterans associations. Brian Wilkins and Mike Gimblett from Oshawa gave their input, but nothing is reflected in this budget.
We know how important it has been to support the government in its efforts to help Canadians through the most significant health and economic crisis in our lifetime. Conservatives have continuously supported these efforts and will be supportive for the number of investments and programs the budget includes for us to make it through this pandemic, but, unfortunately, there is very little to get excited about in the long term. It is just endless debt and deficits. What we desperately needed was a real recovery plan that would secure the future of all Canadians, get folks back to work and help small businesses recover. Conservatives have that plan. We have done it before and we can do it again.
Mr. Speaker, today, I am very pleased to have the opportunity to speak to the Liberal budget implementation bill.
As members know, this budget has been criticized by many analysts. It raised many expectations about the management of the pandemic and vaccine procurement. I will not get into that because I think everything has been said about the government's dismal failure, which has caused this third wave since the Liberal government mismanaged the contracts it signed with the companies that are providing us with vaccines.
There were two other major issues: reopening the economy and proper management of public finances, debt and deficits. I will focus my speech on those two aspects. I have 10 minutes, but we could talk for hours about all the very troubling things in this budget.
Others before me covered this so I will not talk about the fact that the government managed to do what no one ever thought possible: create a new class of seniors. Deciding to inject money to help seniors was wishful thinking, in other words the government had good intentions, but it decided to give money only to seniors 75 and up instead of giving it to those 65 and up. Everyone fell off their chair when they heard that. It was a clumsy measure and I hope the government will rectify the situation as soon as possible. Every day, we are getting calls at our constituency offices about that announcement.
The second important element, and I will only talk about this very briefly, is the Liberal obsession with interfering in provincial jurisdictions and desire to grab powers they do not have. We need only think of their interference in health and day care, in particular the fact that they are leading people to believe they are going to establish a day care program to reopen the economy. I can tell you that in Quebec it took more than five years to create and build day cares and to train staff. They are telling us that they want to do this. First, they are interfering in a provincial matter; second, they are leading people to believe that this will help reopen the economy. It will take at least five years for this measure to begin to come to fruition. I can tell you that, in Quebec, not every family has access to a day care space.
I will come back to the main points of my message: deficits, debt and the reopening of our economy.
In 2003, those were the issues that motivated me to get into provincial politics. I am older now, I have a lot of grey hair, but, back then as a young father I was concerned about debt and the consequences it can have. The Liberals never talk about tax increases that make life increasingly expensive. Without even asking them, the government takes more money out of taxpayers' pockets to pay for all the goodies they are handing out. It is crazy.
One of the figures that is striking is when you add up the deficits and debt created by the Liberal government under this since it came to power, since 2015. In the last six years alone, the Liberals have put us $162 billion in debt, and this is not just because of the pandemic. Keep in mind that in 2015, when Stephen Harper's Conservatives left, the deficit had been eliminated. The budget had also been balanced following the global stock market crisis. The Liberal government managed to run deficits during good economic years. These deficits have taken away our ability to deal with this pandemic without creating another gap for future generations and for today's workers who will pay more taxes. That is what will happen when interest rates go up. That will be the reality, whether the Prime Minister likes it or not. Any newly minted economist would be able to explain these basic facts to him.
What is striking is that, in six years, the Prime Minister has borrowed and added to the debt more than any prime minister in Canada since 1867. Since 1867, every Conservative and Liberal government combined borrowed a total of $630 billion to stimulate the economy and support Canadians. In six years, the government has managed to put us further into debt.
This all has consequences not only for our economy, but also for our ability to deal with a potential new crisis. The further we go into debt, the less freedom we have to tackle any new challenges and support Canadians. This government's investments and expenditures are not justified. People will say that I am being partisan because I am a Conservative, but that is not it.
Allow me to talk about the Parliamentary Budget Officer, an impartial officer of Parliament. Just yesterday he presented a report explaining that the government had announced $101.4 billion in new expenditures over the next three years as part of its economic recovery plan. He said that $69 billion of that $101.4 billion is the figure actually considered stimulus spending.
He then raised a red flag about the government's data. Much like the , the government acts as though money grows on trees, that money can be printed or that it is no big deal and the budget will balance itself. Those are the words of the Prime Minister himself. The government is telling people that we could see a 2% increase in economic growth and that this would create 334,000 new jobs in Canada. The Parliamentary Budget Officer refuted that and said that a more realistic economic growth would be 1% next year. That would create 74,000 new jobs, not 334,000.
This government talks a lot and leads people on. The Prime Minister tries to be positive, figuring that people will believe him because he is handsome, nice and well-spoken. He thinks that that should be enough. However, the numbers speak for themselves and cannot be ignored, because taxpayers will be directly affected by the inevitable tax hikes. That is the reality.
How do the Prime Minister and the explain this?
They say we can afford to borrow for Canadians because interest rates are low. However, if that is the case, why not just tell Canadians to go buy a house that is twice as expensive because interest rates are low? No problem, since interest rates are low. Why not get a new car? Why should Canadians settle for a small family sedan when they could buy a Ferrari? No problem, because interest rates are low; these things will pay for themselves.
If this is good for the government, why would it not be good for the taxpayers?
It is for the simple reason that fathers and mothers, workers and youth who believe in a better future know that this is hard-earned money. They know this because when they take the time to look at their pay slips, they see the line showing just how much money they are sending to the government. They also remember the government expense scandal. I do not want to harp on the WE Charity scandal, with the billion dollars sent to friends who had helped the Prime Minister's family, but those are the facts.
The government has to lead by example, and it starts at the top. This government, with its free-spending Prime Minister, is sending the wrong message. It is saying that work is not important, that people should not bother saving, that money grows on trees and that, unfortunately, when calls for help come in, we might not be able to answer them because the country is up to its eyeballs in debt. The government will just say it is time to print more money, and that will drive up inflation.
In conclusion, I think this is a bad budget. It does not set the stage for good economic recovery, and it will mortgage our children's and grandchildren's future. I cannot accept that.
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with my colleague from .
I have been listening with great interest to my colleagues' speeches on Bill , and I am pleased to have a turn to speak to this important legislation.
Much like budget 2021, this bill focuses on finishing the fight against COVID-19, healing the financial, social, emotional and physical wounds caused by the pandemic, and creating more jobs and prosperity for Canadians across the country. The purpose of Bill C-30 is to help Canada build back better and become a fairer and more equitable country.
We need to rebuild, but not haphazardly. We need to make sure that we address the gaps that the pandemic has exposed and even exacerbated. As we rebuild, we must protect the most vulnerable.
When I mention vulnerable people, I am thinking, for example, of the elderly. The COVID-19 pandemic has had devastating effects on our seniors. Since day one, I have received calls from seniors in my riding of Alfred-Pellan. They were worried about the situation and all the measures that were being implemented to ensure our communities’ safety. They were anxious about not seeing their families and their friends. They were preoccupied about the impacts that the situation would have on their finances.
That is why, building back better also means ensuring that we protect the health and well-being of seniors in our communities. After a life of hard work, they deserve a safe and dignified retirement without financial worries. This question must be asked: What can be done to help them? More and more of them are living longer than before, and many of them rely on their monthly old age security benefits.
It is in that spirit that our government has reduced the age of eligibility for old age security from 67 to 65. We made sure that seniors, including those who are more vulnerable, can live their retirement in dignity. With Bill , we are implementing another of our government’s commitments, which is to increase the amount of benefits for seniors aged 75 and over.
Seniors become more vulnerable with age, especially when it comes to their financial situation. Indeed, Canadians are living longer and longer, and many of them rely on old age security.
That is why Bill C-30 proposes to amend the Old Age Security Act to increase these monthly payments by 10% for seniors aged 75 or over. By giving an increase to those 75 or older, we are providing targeted support. In practical terms, this would give seniors in this group greater financial security at a time in their lives when they face increased care expenses and a greater risk of running out of savings. The increase will be implemented in July of next year.
In the meantime, to address immediate needs, the 2021 budget also proposes to provide a one-time payment of $500 in August of this year to old age security pensioners who will be 75 or older in June 2022. The targeted increase to old age security will really improve the lives of people who deserve more support, especially single seniors who are struggling to make ends meet, like Solange, Antoinette and Leonardo, who live in my riding.
This would increase benefits for about 3.3 million seniors across the country. For those receiving the full benefit, it would mean an additional $766 in annual benefits in the first year, which would be indexed to inflation thereafter. I am thinking of Jeannine, who lives in my riding. She lives alone, and this money would help her buy all the food she needs instead of going without meals to pay her rent.
I believe that our society has a duty to do more to support seniors. That was true before the pandemic and will still be true afterward. COVID-19 has laid bare society's vulnerabilities and inequalities in Canada and around the world.
Seniors have felt this on a financial level. Many have run into economic hardship as they took on extra costs to stay safe. They have also faced social challenges. Many seniors in the Alfred-Pellan community and across the country spent the past year isolated from their family and friends. For far too many of them, COVID-19 has been tragic. I am thinking particularly of those living in long-term care facilities. They have been the overwhelming casualties of the pandemic in Canada.
In fact, another thing the pandemic exposed is the systemic problems that affect long-term care facilities across the country. The situation in these institutions was such that the Canadian Armed Forces were deployed to lend a hand to the teams on site. My riding was not spared, and I had the opportunity to meet the soldiers deployed to the long-term care centres in Laval. I am grateful for their work.
The pandemic has laid bare a rather dire situation, which is why I am so pleased to see that budget 2021 proposes to provide $3 billion over five years to support the provinces and territories in ensuring standards for long-term care are applied and permanent changes are made when necessary.
I know that many people are worried about this measure, but I want to assure those who are wary that our government will work with the provinces and territories and respect their jurisdiction over health care. We must protect seniors and improve their quality of life, no matter where in the country they live. This is true for long-term care facilities, which is why this investment is so important.
It is also true for seniors who still live at home. That is why budget 2021 proposes to launch the age well at home initiative to help Canadians age in dignity. With this investment, community organizations could provide practical support to low-income and otherwise vulnerable seniors. For example, the program would support initiatives to pair seniors with volunteers who would help them prepare meals, do housekeeping, run errands, do odd jobs around the house or even help them get outside their home.
This kind of support is what Miguel and Jane from my riding need to allow them to stay in their home. Their kids help, but additional support is much needed. This help is particularly useful to elderly people with no children to look after them, like Anne and John.
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected all Canadians and the economic impacts of the situation are undeniable. However, the consequences have not been the same for everyone. Our government’s recovery plan puts people first, but focuses on the groups that have been most affected by the situation.
Canadians have been combatting COVID-19 for over a year now. We are all tired, but we cannot give up. Now is the time to finish the fight against COVID-19, get back on our feet and secure the recovery by protecting the most vulnerable. This is certainly true for seniors, who deserve to live out their retirement in dignity.
I therefore support Bill and urge all members to do the same.
Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today to talk about the budget implementation act and what this budget has to offer.
For starters, I will note that, as usual, I am perplexed by the approach the Conservative Party has taken on the budget. When listening this morning to the comments from Conservative members, I heard the member for say that the budget is too high, there is too much money in it and we are spending too much. However, in the same speech, he went on to say that we need to spend more money on housing, more money on provincial transfers, more money on funding health in the provinces, more money for small businesses and more money for veterans, without giving a suggestion as to where money needs to be taken.
I asked a question of the member for , who spoke just before my colleague. I asked him where he would start to cut funding and where he would remove money in this budget. I also asked him to explain his budgetary process to me. In the response I got from him, he went on about the debt again without actually answering me, and at one point I heard him say that all political parties wanted to help when it was necessary. That perhaps provides the most insight into the Conservative position on this.
In the beginning of the pandemic, when we had unanimous-consent motions to adopt supports for Canadians, the Conservatives knew they had no choice but to support them because public opinion would have turned incredibly negative toward them. They therefore supported help back then, although perhaps they would have preferred that every person fend for themselves at the time, instead of taking the approach that we should work together, collectively as a society, to get through this.
Nonetheless, the member for stated, in his response to a question, that all political parties wanted to help when it was necessary. My take from what he said is that, basically, it is not necessary for us, as a collective society through the channel of the government, to support Canadians anymore. At least it is a step in the right direction in understanding where the Conservatives are coming from. They appear to be coming from a position that it was important to help Canadians before but not so much anymore. I understand it now, and it starts to provide some clarity.
I hand it to the NDP—
Mr. Charlie Angus: Please don't.
Mr. Mark Gerretsen: No, Mr. Speaker, I want to hand it to the NDP. I like to pay credit where credit is due, despite the fact that the member for does not want to hear a compliment.
The New Democrats fight for what they believe in. They come here and say to put more money into things and that we have to do dental care and support Canadians in this regard. At least they are consistent in their approach. Their approach has been consistent from the beginning. They supported the supports for Canadians. They pushed them hard, and they are continuing to push even harder for more supports now.
Compare them with the Conservatives, who supported initiatives back then to help Canadians but now do not. It makes me think they are driven completely by their perception of public opinion on matters, as opposed to thinking long term about how to support Canadians in getting through something like this.
Of course, the members from the Bloc Québécois have also been consistent on this. with regard to health transfers, we know that every time there is a debate in the House, somehow it is linked back to health transfers from the federal government to the provincial government. They are consistent in that regard. I respect that, and I hope that the Bloc and the NDP will support the budget implementation act, despite having identified some concerns.
It is the Conservative approach that continues to have me baffled. The Conservatives come in here and criticize the amount of spending, and yes, we know that it has been a lot of money. However, nobody, when elected in 2019, could have ever imagined we would be in this position talking about this kind of debt.
We are here because of a global pandemic that has impacted the entire planet, and to address what our response to it should be. In the response, there has been a simple choice: Do we let everybody fend for themselves, or do we take the approach that society should work together through the government? We let society as a whole take on the debt and shoulder the burden of the pandemic, socially and economically, to the best of its ability. This is as opposed to watching individuals take on the burden entirely themselves, which obviously, as we know, would have skewed more toward those who are less fortunate, those who are working on the front lines and those who are working more precarious jobs. They are the people who would have been impacted the most had we not chosen to collectively support each other and go through this collectively.
There is a lot of debt attached to this; there is no doubt about it. However, we made a choice and that choice was clear: We will do this together.
When I listened to the comments from the member for , I noted that even as he was saying we are spending too much but not doing many things, he was still incorrect in his assertion of what we were not doing. I would love to go through all of the elements he discussed: housing; provincial transfers; health funding; health care, and in particular mental health; new supports for small businesses; and support for veterans. I would love to talk about all of this, but I will talk for a few moments specifically about supports for businesses.
The government has been there for Canadians and businesses from day one, and what is being proposed in this budget implementation act is the extension of benefits, in particular the extension of the wage subsidy for Canadian small and medium-sized businesses. It will make sure that people can stay on the payroll and can get through the pandemic so that when we come out on the other side of it, jobs will still be in place, which will help our economy bounce back and rebound quicker.
There are, in addition to that, more supports for small businesses. What we see in the budget is the new Canada recovery hiring program. The federal government recognizes that if we are going to get back to the low unemployment rate that we had before we went into the pandemic, we need to make sure that we are putting measures in place to help businesses bring new people on board to get the economic engine moving again. There is also the Canada recovery benefit. It is more specifically for individual Canadians. The government has said that it will include an additional 12 weeks in the Canada recovery benefit, to a maximum of 50 weeks.
The government has made it clear that it is going to be here, whether it is through the wage subsidy, the Canada recovery benefit or the various programs, to make sure that Canadians have the supports they need. The Conservatives know that, and I think it scares them a little, to be honest. In question period, there has never been a question on this, or it has been very rare. I feel for the member for , who is in his new portfolio as the finance critic. He never gets to ask a question in question period.
The last thing the Conservatives want to do right now is start asking questions about the budget. They do not want to highlight anything in it, because they realize how good it is for Canadians and Canadian businesses. That is why the member for is not getting to ask any questions.
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
Mr. Mark Gerretsen: I am getting laughs and heckles from members on the other side, but they should stand up and explain to me in a question why the member for does not get to ask any questions. He is the critic for finance.
Why is he not asking any questions in question period? It is because the Conservatives realize that talking about the budget is not in their best interests right now. They would rather go for personal attacks against the and against the , and all of these other things they love to drum up scandal about, instead of talking about government policy. If you can hold on and wait, an hour and 50 minutes from now you will get to see it live for yourselves.
In conclusion, the government is there to support small and medium-sized businesses, which are the backbone of the country and its economy. We will be there. We have been there from day one, and we will be there to the end. I strongly believe that Canadians know that, and I am hearing it from businesses in my riding. I look forward to supporting this budget implementation act.
Madam Speaker, growing up I was a huge fan of a television show called Bonanza
. Maybe people have heard of it. It was a fantastic show. Let me tell members what I am not a fan of. I am not a fan of the spending bonanza that has gone on here in Ottawa over the last two years.
When we look at the accumulation of debt, and I am going to talk about this, $509 billion in new debt over two years has been put forward by the government. The Liberals have doubled the national debt in basically two years. Despite doing that, there are glaring gaps in the needs of Canadians, and I want to talk about some that have been basically ignored by the government despite the spending bonanza.
I also want to say I am sharing my time with the member for .
The first thing I want to talk about is broadband. This is a massive issue in my riding of Dufferin—Caledon. Not a week goes by that I do not receive a phone call or email from people in my riding decrying their lack of access to affordable high-speed Internet.
On April 30 I received an email from Andrew. Members from the Liberal government should hear this email because it is heartbreaking. He said, “Dear Kyle, I am writing today for the urgency of us receiving affordable Internet in the very near future. I have been out of work since February of 2020. My daughter has been forced to home school. I am unable to find a job that does not require me to work from home. I use my cellphone data plan and my wife's just to try and look for work. Having no Internet in this day and age with corona is literally crippling myself and my ability to provide for my family.”
When we talk about the bonanza of spending by the government, why have there not been rapid massive investments in broadband? This is critical in ridings such as mine that have a large rural component. They do not have 5G networks that they can use their cellphone plans on. They do not have unlimited data plans that they can use to work from home or school their children at home, which is what we are doing during the pandemic.
The failure to rapidly invest in this is a massive failure for the government. It is talking about having everyone hooked up to high-speed broadband by 2030. I became a lawyer because I am not good at math, but my math tells me that is about nine years from now. That is not going to be good enough for Andrew, and it is not going to be good enough for the huge bunch of Canadians who do not have affordable high-speed Internet. It is a shame on the government that it has not fixed it, especially given the pandemic.
There is another thing I am stunned the government has not moved on, in either the budget or the budget implementation act. On December 11, my colleague put forward a motion for a 988 suicide number.
The motion for the 988 number was passed unanimously in the House five months ago, and the only thing that has been brought forward by the government is that it may have the CRTC look into it. All we are hearing these days is about the mental health crisis going on in this country as a result of the pandemic. This is hard on people. Having access to a three-digit number for everyone has never been more important than it is now.
I have spoken about my own personal experience with depression. I can tell members that having access to a number anonymously, and speaking to someone anonymously, would save lives. Sometimes people do not have the strength to call a family member or a friend. A simple number to remember, and that is anonymous, will save lives. Quite frankly, I find the lack of action on this stunning.
I also want to talk about new business. In December I talked about Paul, a gentleman in my riding who had opened a new business in April 2020. He had to delay the start in March. Paul has been trying to make things work. He has been doing things like running up his line of credit and looking at ways to refinance his home. Why do new business owners like Paul have to do that? It is because there are no support programs out there for them.
The government can claim it is not aware of this, except I have raised this in question period and I have raised it during Adjournment Proceedings. The government is well aware that there are no programs for new businesses. Why not fix that in this budget? When we are spending $509 billion, can we not find some money for new business owners who have put their livelihoods on the line to start new businesses? The government is aware of this. All I can say to Paul is that the government does not care if his business succeeds or fails. It is the only message left that we can send to Paul, especially looking at the budget and looking at this BIA.
Another glaring omission from the government is action on housing prices. A 1% luxury tax for foreign buyers is going to do nothing. We have heard it over and over again. It is just going to be looked on as the cost of doing business, especially when real estate prices are going up 25%, 30% or 40% in a year. The 1% tax is a joke. The government should have gotten serious, because we know foreign buyers are an issue. There are ways to cool the housing market and we know it is a problem. Young people are saying they are never going to be able to afford to buy a house looking at the prices as they are. The government response has been nothing that has worked.
Recently, I was looking at purchasing a home. When I looked at the price, I was stunned and said, “This seems like an awful lot of money for a house.” Guess what? That house had gone up 50%. It was purchased in August 2020, and by the spring of 2021, it was on sale for 50% more. This is a housing crisis, and the government is doing basically nothing. It has done nothing to address the housing crisis going on in this country.
One of the big ticket items we heard about was the new national child care plan. With a big fanfare, it was announced that we are going to solve child care in this country. What I learned as a lawyer is that the devil is often in the details, and the details in this case are a little different from what is being announced. I would call it a child care idea, because the government is not actually going to spend any money unless the provinces jump on board. It is a cost-shared program. If provincial governments do not agree to take this on, then the money does not get spent. When we look at the fiscal circumstances of the provinces after 15 months of this pandemic, it becomes increasingly concerning that they will not be able to afford this new program, which has to be cost-shared.
Of course, no details of how the cost-sharing will be done have been worked out. The Liberals are going to work it out at some point with the provinces while telling them they need to pay this amount of money if they want the federal money invested. Again, it is not a national child care plan. It is a national child care concept. It is an idea that might happen some day if the government can get the provinces onside. To me, that is not a plan, as I keep saying. It is a concept.
Finally, we have $509 billion worth of debt. Our national debt has doubled. If interest rates go up to fight the inflation that we have going on right now, the government is going to become unable to pay the interest on the debt.
Madam Speaker, I will go back to what my constituents were telling me with regard to this budget. When they look at the dollar values, the $354 billion or $509 billion that have been spent over the last two years, they think that is a lot of money. However, in the same breath, they look at it and say that if we have to support each other and this is what it takes to get them through the crisis, they are willing to do it.
Then they start talking about priorities and whether it has been done right. Did the funds got to the people who needed it? Were the people who needed it the most taken care of? Were the funds delivered in an efficient way? When they start hearing about scandals like the WE scandal and friends and family of Liberal members getting money, they get mad because they feel cheated. They feel they have been taken advantage of and COVID has been used as a reason to do that. That is unacceptable and they are very upset about it. When they hear those things, they distrust government on everything, and that is unfortunate.
I remember back in 2008-09 when we went through the financial crisis under the Harper government. Billions of dollars were put into the economy through municipalities and provincial governments with zero scandals. Therefore, it can be done. We can empower the public service to get the money out, we can prioritize with the provinces and municipalities to get the appropriate projects established and we can spend the money in a responsible manner so taxpayers get value. I think a lot of people will look back on this situation maybe four or five years from now and will really criticize the Liberal government in how it conducted itself, how it aligned itself with areas and made decisions with regard to the crisis that ended up costing the lives of Canadians and our economy.
As we approached an actual budget, in January, I talked to all the municipalities in my riding through Zoom. I told them the rumour was there would be $100 billion for infrastructure for municipalities, so we should get our ducks in a line and have ideas of what types of things we would want to prioritize as far as spending. I came across the village of St. Louis. It wants a new fire hall. It is taking on more fire services in the rural areas and wants to put its fire trucks in one location instead of the three locations it has right now. It identified that as one of the priorities it would like to get some assistance on, if it was there.
I spoke to the mayor of Nipawin, who talked about how the landfill was getting to the end of its life, that the municipality was looking to get a new landfill and having a new partnership with other municipalities. He was trying to figure out a way forward on that.
Just north of Prince Albert, the Town of Shellbrook, the arm of Buckland and the regional municipality of Prince Albert, it is saying that it really requires water. It is getting together with others to put in a rural water network, costing some $50 million. It is something that would take care of the farmers, the Town of Shellbrook, the acreage owners outside of the city of Prince Albert. It would probably be about 70 or 80 kilometres long. It is a good project that would get shovels in the ground and be of value at the end of the day.
Those are the types of things at which municipalities are looking.
One of the other priorities that came out of my meetings with the municipalities was high-speed Internet. They feel so neglected. When they start hearing these big announcements about billions of dollars, in this case, $1 billion over nine years, about $140 million a year, they thought they should be able to do it. Then when they see the actual rollout and the amount per year, they roll their eyes and say that is never heading their way, that they will never get it. Therefore, they are looking for support to do it on their own. They have been looking at new technologies, and I encourage the government to start looking at some of the new technologies as well.
I have been one of the lucky people in Canada to be involved in the beta testing for Starlink, and it has been fabulous. There have been a few little hiccups, as there are with all systems. Why would the government not embrace Telesat Canada or groups like that, even Starlink, and look at how it can speed this up to get the service to rural Canadians at speeds of some 150 to 200 megabytes a minute down and 40 or 50 megabytes up? Why would we not look at that and ask how we can empower the private sector to provide the service? The technology is there; we just need the will of the government to push it along.
Another thing a lot of people said was that some sectors had done really well during COVID. Those who sell cross-country skis, Ski-Doos, quads or camping equipment were busy. Canadians love the outdoors and since they were unable to travel, they were spending money on things they could do in their own backyards. The riding of Prince Albert is beautiful and there are a lot of things for people to do in their backyards and still respect social distancing. Companies selling lumber right now are doing great.
If we look at those types of businesses, they have done very well, yet some sectors have been left out. People who are in the tourism sector, people who run a fishing lodge in northern Saskatchewan are looking at their second season under COVID, wondering whether they can open or not. They have clients lined up who wanted to go last year, they have held their deposits and now those people want to come this year. They are vaccinated, most of them are Americans, but they cannot get a signal from the government on what the matrix would be for our border to reopen.
In Saskatchewan, the province has at least given us an idea, based on the number of vaccinations and a combination of things, on when we will start to see the province start to open up. The federal government has done nothing like that. It has not given any signals to Canadians or businesses on what a safe reopening would look like and what steps would be required to have that safe reopening. Because of that, we cannot make decisions.
If people are running a fishing lodge, to open up that lodge, they need to fly in with their supplies for the year, and that is an expensive trip. Therefore, they do not want to go up there unless they have clients coming. That takes time. They will have to get a hold of their clients and ensure they have processes in place to come to their lodge. They have to ensure their staff is rehired and trained. People cannot just wake up on a Monday morning and say, “the border is open; let's go.” There needs to be some proper signals. While those things do not cost money, we have to be in control of the situation, use the science to our best ability and give our best predictions based on that science, not be secretive or silent. That is not an answer and it is not acceptable.
We have had a really serious problem right across Canada in our restaurant sector. Some have adapted, some have not. There is no question that they are struggling. If there is a sector that needs help, tourism, restaurants and these types of businesses definitely need help. Where is that in the budget. If they have a new restaurant, like my friend from Dufferin—Caledon mentioned, they do not qualify. What about a ma and pa restaurant that has around for years? The owners are two or three years away from retirement, but all of a sudden they have to dip into savings. They wonder if they should put another $40,000 or $50,000 into it. That money it is coming right out of their savings account. It is coming right out of their RRSPs, and they have to pay tax on that if they put it into their business. There has been no compensation for things like that. There has been no flexibility. People have to make very serious decisions and they do not have good information from the government on which to base those decisions.
When we look at that, it leads into my next topic, which is mental health.
I have been very concerned about my staff in my office, and I am sure my colleagues have been as well. One minute, the people are on the phone crying and the next minute they are yelling. The next call is from somebody who is overwhelmed. Our staff are dealing with that call after call. Mental health is a serious issue right now. To think that we cannot find money for the mental health hotline that the member for asked for seems irresponsible. Where is the government's heart? Where is it priority?
In the agriculture sector, farmers are grappling. I will highlight the fact that they are spring seeding now. The census is hitting while they are doing that, by the way, which they are not happy about. I want them to have a safe seeding system. There are some things in the budget that they liked, but the one area that concerns them is the $60 million over two years for a nature-smart climate solution, where the government will buy farmland. Why does the government want to buy farmland? Farmers are the best stewards of the land. If we want to set aside land for planting trees, why would we not just pay them for it? We could say that this is marginal land, we will pay them for it and they can take care of it and manage it, just like they do in Europe.
Again, the government prescribes things instead of consulting and talking to people moving forward.
In summary, a lot of money is being spent. Some of it is good and some of it is bad. I know the member from Kingston will ask what I would cut from the budget. It is not a matter of cutting; it is a matter of having the appropriate priorities, understanding the needs of Canadians and getting the funds to people who actually need them.
Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the House for allowing me to speak about the 2021 budget and explain why I support its implementation.
First of all, I need to thank our very first female for putting forward a budget that should make all women and all parliamentarians proud.
As the first woman in this most important role, she acts as such a positive and inspiring role model for young women everywhere in Canada. The amazing work that she accomplished, with the help of the and other ministers as well as parliamentarians who were consulted as she was preparing to introduce this budget, is work that she, her team and, frankly, all Canadians can be proud of.
I truly believe that there is something in this budget for everyone, whether we are tackling the need to support our seniors, women, youth, workers, businesses, indigenous people and racialized communities, or whether it is putting in place what is needed to finally combat COVID-19 with vaccine procurement or Canadian biomanufacturing of vaccines. This budget takes care of Canadians.
The budget contains several provisions that I am happy about. Honestly, I am thrilled to see that we will continue to support our small and medium-size businesses and the Canadians who were hit hard by the pandemic.
Today I am going to focus on new measures that I find particularly worthwhile and important. As a former teacher who spent almost all her time working with children, and as a feminist who believes in equality between men and women, I think that one of the most important things in the budget is the Canada-wide early learning and child care plan.
This measure will provide jobs for workers, the majority of whom are women. It will enable parents, particularly mothers, to reach their full economic potential. Moreover, it will create a generation of engaged and well-prepared young learners.
One of the studies we completed during my time on the committee on the status of women in the previous Parliament was entitled “Women's Economic Security: Securing the Future of Canada's Economy”. Throughout the study, we heard from hundreds of women of all backgrounds, and many of them spoke of the need for child care.
The committee was told that families in Canada have long contended with an inadequate supply of high-quality, universal, accessible, flexible, affordable and inclusive child care, particularly for infants and toddlers. We learned that the lack of child care significantly contributes to the gender wage gap, which should not be a surprise to anyone as traditionally women are most often the ones to stay home to take care of their children. I certainly grew up in a very traditional household where my mom did not work until my brother and I were both in school.
This unpaid work that women are usually responsible for, which includes hours spent on the care of their children and housework, limits their participation in the workforce and hurts their economic advancement. Furthermore, this disproportionate responsibility for unpaid work negatively affects their access to education, access to job training, the quality of their health and personal relationships, and their current and future financial resources—
Madam Speaker, if I did not say it, I definitely meant to say that I will be sharing my time with the member for .
However, it goes without saying that women who have this sort of arrangement and who stay at home may experience poverty as seniors, and many of them, as they are not financially independent and are financially dependent on their husbands, may not flee abusive relationships and situations, because they are unable to do so without any money. I am mentioning these points, because I am trying to prove the point that establishing a Canada-wide early learning and child care system actually tackles several societal issues that we face today.
Another thing in the budget that is very important to me is the enhanced Canada workers benefit. Our government introduced this benefit in the last budget, and budget 2021 will enhance this tax credit and make it more accessible to low-income workers and families earning income from employment or business.
Approximately one million more low-income Canadians will have access to this assistance.
The pandemic showed us just how essential low-income workers are for keeping our society running. They are working in our grocery stores, corner stores and pharmacies. They are working behind the scenes to provide small businesses with all the goods we purchased during this period, and they went to work every day so that those who stayed at home could have the essentials we needed to get through this pandemic.
The budget would allow the government to raise the income level at which the benefit starts being reduced to $22,944 for single individuals and $26,177 for families. For full-time workers, this could mean that a single, full-time, minimum wage worker could receive about $1,000 more in benefits than they would receive under the current system, and could continue to receive the benefit up to $32,000 of net income in 2021.
The enhancement to the workers benefit would benefit single workers without children the most, because they have limited access to other government supports that are made available to families, such as the Canada child benefit.
Currently, a full-time minimum wage employee is not eligible for the Canada workers benefit, however, under the new proposed system in budget 2021, they would be entitled to $1,100 with this number being subject to differ, depending on where they live and what the minimum wage is in their province.
I know many hard workers who will greatly benefit from this extra support, and I am happy we would move forward with this enhancement to the benefit when we implement this budget.
As a member of the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology, I was thrilled to see the section of the budget concerning investments in COVID-19-related biomanufacturing. The budget proposes investing in Canada's biomanufacturing and life sciences sector in order to improve our capacity to develop and biomanufacture vaccines in Canada.
We now know that COVID-19 will be with us for some time to come. There are variants, and we do not know how long we will remain immune after we receive both doses of the vaccine. During the committee's study of domestic manufacturing capacity for a COVID-19 vaccine, witnesses told us that vaccine procurement is a short-term solution and that Canada must get ready to produce its own vaccines for Canadians in the long term. That is why I mentioned the need for this type of investment during the budget consultations held by the ministers responsible.
Budget 2021 will strengthen Canada's biomanufacturing and life sciences sector by providing a total of $2.2 billion over seven years towards growing a vibrant domestic life sciences sector. This support would provide foundational investments to help build Canada's talent pipeline and research systems, and support the growth of Canadian life science firms, including $59.2 million over three years starting 2021-22 for the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization to support the development of its vaccine candidates and expand the facility in Saskatoon.
The budget will invest in skills, training and trades and will help workers transition to new jobs. It proposes an investment of $250 million over three years to scale up proven third-party-delivered approaches to upskill and redeploy workers to meet the needs of growing industries.
The budget also contains measures to grow our net-zero economy and accelerate Canada's net-zero transformation through innovation. It allocates $5 billion for that.
I am proud of this budget. We are certainly heading in the right direction.
I hope that everybody can support it, so that we could get back to helping Canadians and so that we can improve our support to Canadians.
Thank you very much.
Madam Speaker, I would like to speak on the investments made in this budget for artificial intelligence, quantum technology, photonics and genomics. More importantly, I would also like to speak on investments made in the critical minerals required for batteries, which are needed for use in everything from electrical vehicles to energy storage.
The global economy is moving toward a knowledge-based economy. One of the three objectives for me when entering politics a few years back was to work to ensure that Canadian society and the economy remained robust and competitive in the global knowledge-based economy, thus securing prosperity for our children and grandchildren.
Canada is prosperous today, and Canadians enjoy a very high standard of living due to the rich natural resources. We have oil. We have gas. We have minerals, and we have forestry products. All of which have provided for our prosperity so far. The natural advantage we have today may not be enough for us in a new global knowledge-based economy. To ensure that this prosperity is also available to our children and our grandchildren, we, as a country, need to be at the forefront of the new knowledge-based economy. Hence, investments in artificial intelligence, quantum technology, photonics, genomics, and the critical minerals required for batteries become very important.
Artificial intelligence is one of the greatest technological transformations of our age. It has already started making its impact. Many times we do not even know it is making an impact, but it is already there. Canada has communities of research, homegrown talent and a diverse ecosystem of start-ups and scale-ups.
I am glad that the budget would provide about $440 million in support of a pan-Canadian artificial intelligence strategy. More importantly, it would provide $185 million to support commercialization of artificial intelligence innovation and research in Canada. Investing in research, development and innovation is important, but for me, commercialization is also important. Both have to go hand in hand. We cannot continue to perpetually invest in research without all or part of that research being commercialized. Therefore, I am glad we are making investments in commercialization of artificial intelligence innovations.
Quantum technology is at the very leading edge of science and innovation today, and it has enormous potential for commercialization. This emerging field will transform how we develop and design everything from life-saving drugs to next-generation batteries. It also will provide a great deal of cybersecurity, which we hope to achieve and see soon. I am happy to state that this budget would provide about $360 million to launch a national quantum strategy. I am sure we will hear more details of this in the coming months.
Canada is a world leader in photonics, the technology of generating and harnessing the power of light. This is the science behind fibre optics, advanced semiconductors and other cutting-edge technologies, areas in which Ottawa has also got a great number of companies involved. There is a strong history of Canadian companies bringing this expertise to the world. I am pleased that the budget would provide $90 million to the National Research Council to retool and modernize the Canadian photonics fabrication centre.
Then, there is genomics. Genomics research is developing cutting-edge therapeutics and is helping Canada to track and fight COVID-19. Canada was an early mover in advancing genomic science and is now a global leader in this field.
I will give a cost comparison on how fast and how effective this particular technology is developing. The cost to sequence a genome has fallen by millions of dollars. I think in 2001, it cost us about $100 million to sequence a genome. From that, it came down to $1 million in 2008. It fell down to about $10,000 in 2012, and today it just costs a few hundred dollars. We can see how quickly it is changing and how effective it has become. Soon we will have tailor-made medicines available for genetic diseases.
The budget provides $400 million to support pan-Canadian genomic strategies. This includes support for mission-driven programming delivered by Genome Canada to kick-start the new strategy. In the new global knowledge-based economy, the world is flat. Canadians face equal competition from different parts of the world, and we do not have the advantages our natural resources used to give us.
The competition is coming from everywhere, especially for new technology professionals and new generations of Canadians in school today. The competition is from Sydney, Australia; Seoul, South Korea; Shanghai, China; Mumbai, India; and Frankfurt, Germany. All the world is flat, and we are facing a lot of competition from all over the world.
Immediately more important is the development of batteries. Many people may not recognize today, but this is also a national security issue. If we do not develop technologies, and if we do not develop batteries, one day we will be dependent on other countries for our energy security and transportation security. Things are changing very fast.
The trillion-dollar transportation market is quickly moving toward electrification. Major auto companies have already announced phasing out internal combustion engines and transitioning to battery-operated electric vehicles. Canada has rich reserves of the critical minerals needed for electric vehicle batteries and solar panels, along with the other low-carbon technology needed to reach net-zero.
Canada and the U.S. recently agreed to strengthen the Canada-U.S. joint action plan on critical minerals collaboration to target a net-zero industrial transformation, batteries for zero emissions vehicles and renewable energy storage. Investing in these critical resources is essential for our energy security and will ensure Canada is a vital producer in the supply chain of the future.
The budget provides funding to create a critical battery minerals centre of excellence at Natural Resources Canada. The centre would coordinate federal policy and programs on critical minerals and work with other partners too. The budget provides $37 million to Natural Resources Canada for federal research and development to advance critical battery mineral processing and refining expertise.
It is not just enough for us to be part of this operation. We need to have end-to-end capability to be in the battery business. To give an example of how far the cost of batteries has fallen in the last 10 to 12 years, the cost of lithium-ion batteries has fallen from $1,100 per kilowatt hour to just about $100. Soon it will reach much less, which will make the cost of electrical vehicles comparable with that of gasoline vehicles today.
Things are changing fast. Things are approaching fast where we will all move to electrical vehicles in the very near future. The companies have already announced changes and we need to be there.
Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for .
Canadians have waited more than two years for the Liberals to finally table a budget, and I would have to argue that it certainly was not worth the wait. It may have been worth the wait if we were looking to build back bigger: bigger government, bigger spending, bigger programs, bigger deficit and bigger, unsustainable debt. When Canadians were looking for a budget that would outline a path to recovery, what we got was a budget focused on re-election, which is truly unfortunate for Canadians, because we are the ones who are going to be paying for the Liberals' re-election budget.
This was not a recovery budget that Canadians were waiting for. This is a budget that would put unsustainable and suffocating debt on Canadians for generations to come. I want to put it into perspective. By next year, the current will have racked up more debt than all prime ministers in Canadian history combined. Members can let that sink in. That is including the current Prime Minister's father, who had racked up a debt that took decades to try to get under control. This is a budget focused on announcements, photo ops and, more than likely, broken promises, because the Liberals are very good at marketing, but they are very bad at the reality of having to follow through on those promises and the reality of government.
I want to start off the issues I am going to try to address in my speech with the child care announcement. I do not think there is any question that Canadians are interested in a child care program, especially with the changes we have experienced as a result of COVID-19. However, once again, the Liberals make their ninth or 10th promise on a national child care program, and I am going to guess this is their ninth or 10th promise waiting to be broken. This is the ninth time, let us say, the Liberals have promised a national child care program, but they forget to mention the fine print. The fine print is that it is a fifty-fifty split with the provinces and territories, so it is $30 billion over five years, but it is contingent on the provinces and territories stepping up to split that cost.
I am not sure if the Liberals, who believe the budget will balance itself, have taken a look at the current financial situation of the provinces and territories, which have been absolutely devastated by this pandemic. Very few provinces are going to have the resources to kick in and pay their share of the made-in-Ottawa national child care program, not to mention that many provinces and territories will balk at having an Ottawa-knows-best child care program that does not work for their families. In fact, it does not work for most Canadian families who do shift work, work in rural and remote communities or would much prefer an aunt, a grandfather or a neighbour to look after their children.
Conservatives realized this way back in 2006, when we introduced the universal child care benefit, because we knew that hard-working Canadian families knew how to look after their family and their children much better than Ottawa bureaucrats. That is what Canadian families want to see. They do not want to see a government-regulated child care program that provinces and territories cannot afford and that does not meet their needs.
That is just one program the Liberals are going to be getting and hoping for all these great photo ops and headlines, but when it comes down to the fact of actually being able to deliver on this promise, it will be another promise broken.
It is clear that the Liberals are doing their regular wedge politics here, trying to pit provinces and territories against one another on which provinces and territories can afford this child care program, but I do have to admit I was surprised to see that the Liberals chose a very vulnerable part of our community and our society to also put in a wedge. The Liberals have chosen seniors to be the next wedge topic in this budget. This was a budget where they should have made hard choices, but what they did, especially when it came to seniors, was choose winners and losers, and seniors under 75 are the losers. This budget would create a two-tier system for seniors in Canada. There are those seniors who would get the 10% increase on their OAS and a $500 bonus in August, not surprisingly maybe a few weeks before the drops the writ and calls an election.
How can we pick one group of seniors that is worthy of help and one that is not? We have a two-tiered system for seniors, and we know that seniors have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. They are exhausted, they are tired and, in many cases, they are scared as a result of isolation and being away from their loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, instead of ensuring that all Canadians are vaccinated and that all provinces have the vaccines and personal protective equipment they need, the government decided to pick winners and losers when it came to Canadian seniors. I find that to be incredibly disrespectful to such an important part of our community.
The next area I want to touch on is, like seniors, very important in my riding of Foothills, and that is the agriculture industry. Once again, the Liberals have failed to show heartfelt support for an agriculture industry that has been hit hard, not just by COVID but certainly by issues outside of its control over the last couple of years. Let us look back: We had the harvest from hell, rail blockades, strikes and lost export markets in India and China, which had a serious impact on the industry.
Thankfully, in my riding of Foothills, we had a great harvest last year. There is a lot of optimism as we head into seeding this spring, and we are just wrapping calving. There was optimism, until April 1, April Fool's Day, when the Liberals announced yet another increase in their carbon tax.
Farmers operate on a very small margin. They need all of these variables to match up for them to make a profit and be able to keep operating the following season. Doubling the carbon tax, and now announcing that it is going to be up to $170 a tonne in the next couple of years, is devastating to agriculture, which cannot pass on that cost anywhere else, because it is the end-user. Hessel Kielstra, who owns Mountain View Poultry in my riding, showed me his carbon tax bills, and this was before the increase. To heat his chicken barns in February was $24,000 for the month. This is not chump change. Why, in this budget, did the Liberals not exempt farm fuels and agriculture from the carbon tax and give them a break?
There is no question that agriculture is going to play a critical role when we try to dig ourselves out of this massive fiscal abyss that the pandemic has brought upon us, which was certainly not assisted by the financial recklessness of the Liberal government even before the pandemic. There is no question that agriculture is a key backbone of our economy, and if agriculture is treated poorly, and it is wrong, then not much else can go right.
I talked to many of my farmers and ranch families about this budget, and one of the other things they found frustrating was the lack of a real plan to ensure that every rural community has access to broadband. Certainly, this was a key issue in just about every rural riding in this country before the pandemic, but there is no question that the need to access broadband in every rural community is critical. We must start treating this like a utility. It is not a want; it is a must-have. We must start treating it like electricity or water, because if we want our rural communities to be able to compete on a level playing field with the rest of the world, they must have access to this critical infrastructure. Our farmers are competing in a global market; our small businesses are now going online, and kids are having to work from home. We cannot have these economic development opportunities in these communities if we do not have access to rural broadband.
In my one minute left, I want to touch on one thing that is obviously very important to Alberta, which is the fact that the energy sector is not mentioned once in this budget. I do not understand why the Liberals do not understand the important impact that our oil and gas sector has on this economy.
We are in a very difficult fiscal situation. According to the Canadian Energy Centre, between 2000 and 2018 the energy sector generated $672 billion in revenue for every level of government. That is $35 billion a year for municipalities, provinces and the federal government that cannot be replaced. In Alberta, we have felt the disdain for the energy sector, with 200,000 lost jobs. Now we are seeing it with Line 5 being in jeopardy because of the 's virtue signalling. Unfortunately, Quebec and Ontario are going to start to feel the pain that Alberta has felt for a long time.
Madam Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to put some thoughts on the record with respect to Bill . I want to thank my colleague from for splitting his time with me.
In my riding of Chatham-Kent—Leamington, or CKL for short, agriculture, agri-food and agri-food processing is a bedrock element of our local economy, just like for the previous speaker.
I want to begin my comments here. Before proceeding, I would also note that as a father of four daughters, my desire is that they face no glass ceilings in their careers. I want to congratulate the on being the first female finance minister to deliver a budget. My youngest daughter Kiana just completed her masters in economics, and so maybe, one day, she, too, will deliver a budget, hopefully one based on solid economics rather than election politics.
Back to agriculture, the Canadian agriculture and agri-food system is a key driver of our economy and generates $143 billion, accounts for 7.4% of our GDP, and provides for one in eight jobs, at least in 2018, and more than that this year.
This budget does include some provisions for up $100 million for rebates from the carbon tax for on-farm natural gas and propane use. At the agriculture and agri-food committee, we are presently finishing a review of Bill , sponsored by my colleague, the MP for , which proposes an exemption from the carbon tax for on-farm propane and natural gas.
No doubt the existence of this private member's bill influenced the government's decision to include this measure. We discussed, and continue to discuss, at committee the utility of a rebate versus an exemption system. Farmers in my riding and indeed farmers all across Canada can thank Conservatives for this initiative appearing in the budget. Nevertheless, it is good to see that this issue is acknowledged, and that is a positive.
I also want to acknowledge monies targeted to agriculture in the form of incentives as part of programming to address climate initiatives. Practically speaking, though, the costs alone of fossil fuels, of nitrogen fertilizers is enough to encourage their judicious use. Despite that, innovation and environmental responsibility have always been hallmarks of our ag sector.
As the has acknowledged, present viable, scalable technologies that reduce agriculture's greenhouse gas emissions are presently lacking. Given that, incentives to encourage development and innovation are far better tools than punitive taxes, as many witnesses at the committee have testified.
However, if there is one measure that has the potential to move the needle in the adoption of technology in the ag sector, it is the expansion of high-speed broadband to rural and remote areas. The further adoption of precision agriculture, a key technology to build on ag's strong track record of environmental responsibility, is so often hindered by the lack of high-speed Internet access, and the previous speaker echoed these comments.
While the $1 billion amount announced for the universal broadband fund pales in comparison to other funding promises, it is the increased use of this technology that does have the potential to lower ag greenhouse gas emissions.
Given all the attention that the deficit of connectivity in rural and remote areas has attracted over the years, all of the promises, all of the election pledges, even before COVID-19, should have led to the ag sector, and indeed all rural Canadians, using world-class broadband infrastructure by now.
To quote a recent Western Producer editorial, “They didn't and we don't.” The parallels between promises of increased high-speed access and national child care programs are eerily similar, often announced and seldom delivered.
Specifically, I want to point out the situation in my riding of Pelee Island. While the most southerly inhabited point in Canada, it can be considered as remote as, if not more remote than, many parts of our north. There is no reliable 911 service. As it currently stands, Pelee Island has no broadband Internet available to the public. Internet speed on the island is either dial-up or slow cellular hubs for existing businesses, residents and visitors with huge costs associated for small amounts of data. Stormy weather disrupts this service. Pelee Island is the very definition of remote, with only boat and air access in summer, in good weather, and only air access in winter, again, in good weather.
My riding lies in southwestern Ontario, a region serviced by the Southwestern Integrated Fibre Technology, or SWIFT for short. Ten per cent of Canada's underserved broadband area resides in southwestern Ontario.
Therefore, under the government's previous connect to innovate, CTI, program, SWIFT's share of funding should have amounted to $58.5 million, yet the amount received was zero, not a penny. Similar to the structure of the previous CTI program, the government has chosen to administer the present universal broadband fund with no pro rata share provisions for under-serviced areas. This budget contains spending measures of $509 billion, over half a trillion dollars, but Canadians were looking for a budget with a plan for growth, for investment in infrastructure and a budget with a debt management plan to recover from the huge impacts of COVID.
I recently surveyed my constituents on a host of issues. Specifically on the statement that small businesses are the key to economic rebound in Canada, and 87% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed. Only 13% agreed or strongly agreed that multinational corporations were the key to our economic recovery. My constituents and all Canadians were looking not for a government-led spending plan, but a budget investing in infrastructure and creating the climate for a business-led recovery. The small businesses that I relate to in Chatham and Leamington, Blenheim, Ridgetown and many other towns in Chatham-Kent—Leamington need the confidence that their government will manage the country's finances well, so that the climate into which they invest is stable and predictable.
While this budget talks about some small investments in infrastructure and necessary measures to support small businesses affected by government, what this budget does not contain is a plan to pay for all of the election promises. There are no tax reforms, no financial guardrails anchored to fixed thresholds, no targets and no path to balance. These are the kinds of measures that give small business the confidence to invest and lead our recovery, and that is this budget's greatest failure.
Is this the spending legacy that we want to leave to our children and grandchildren? Last June I had the pleasure of announcing in the House the birth of my first grandchild. I also stated at the time that it was estimated that her share of the federal interest-bearing debt would be over $39,300 at fiscal year end. I was wrong. According to the budget just tabled, her share of the debt as of March 31 is over $43,300 and the budget predicts that her share of the debt five years from now will grow to over $50,700.
Here is what really scares me. Today's budget has assumed an average interest rate-carrying cost on our present debt of 1.2%. Yes, today's interest rates are low, but these budget assumptions assume that the average carrying cost will only rise to 1.9% five years from now. This assumption is inconsistent with how the government is funding its annual deficits. The government is printing money to finance its spending and every time in the past when governments have done this, the economy experiences inflation. In fact, we already are.
Asset inflation is here, as anyone who is trying to buy a house or a two-by-four already knows, and the Consumer Price Index is sure to follow. What follows inflation? It is higher interest rates as the government tries to rein in inflation and prop up its currency, so I have very little faith that interest rates will average 1.9% on the government debt five years from now.
Who does this hurt? People who have assets with low debt like this scenario, but for those working for a paycheque, their wages seldom keep up to rising costs. Everyday Canadians do not want this inflationary future, so this budget, with so much unfocused inflationary spending, cannot be supported. We will hear the usual refrains from government members that we Conservatives want to have our cake and eat it, too. Conservatives have supported and will continue to support measures to support Canadians and small business, but not the reckless, uncontrolled spending without a plan for our grandchildren.
Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with my good friend and colleague, the member of Parliament for .
It is a pleasure to speak on Bill , an act to implement certain provisions of budget 2021. As I stated during the budget debate, we as a government will continue to have the backs of Canadian workers and businesses as we continue the fight against COVID-19, but we will also take the next steps to position our economy for ongoing recovery and economic growth.
Simply, our ongoing focus is to strengthen Canada's middle class and help those who are working hard to join it. That has been our goal since Canadians, in the fall of 2015, entrusted us with moving Canada forward. As we fast forward to today, that is what we are laser focused on doing as a government. Strengthening a growing middle class, for me, equals a more inclusive and fair society.
It is a pleasure to represent the entrepreneurial and hard-working residents of Vaughan—Woodbridge. I wish to take a moment to encourage all residents who are eligible to receive a vaccine, to please make an appointment as soon as possible. My riding is home to a number of hot spots, and we need to ensure that all of our families and friends are safe and that life can get back to normal quickly. That can only occur through vaccinations.
I describe the budget as ambitious in attempting to answer the challenges we face not only today, but also tomorrow. Bill begins to implement this ambitious blueprint to build a resilient and more inclusive Canada.
In 2015, we promised Canadians that we would reduce taxes for millions of middle-class Canadians and raise them for the top 1%, and that is exactly what we did. In 2019, we again promised Canadians we would reduce their taxes by raising the amount of income they could earn without paying federal taxes. Bill implements that promise.
Bill will raise the basic personal exemption amount from $12,298 to $13,220 for the 2020 taxation year and, once fully implemented, to $15,000 for the 2023 taxation period. This tax reduction means that hard-working Canadians, including those in my riding of Vaughan—Woodbridge, will see savings at the onset of $2.9 billion. Once fully implemented, it will result in $5.6 billion in lower taxes for 2023-2024 and thereafter.
It is estimated that hard-working individuals will save just under $300 per year, while middle-class Canadian families, on average, will save $600 per year. That is $600 for middle-class families to spend on groceries, kids' after-school sports or arts programs, or to put away as savings for their kids' education.
The increase is estimated to result in an additional 700,000 Canadians, including seniors and young people starting their careers, who will pay no federal tax at all. Just as important is that approximately 40,000 more Canadians will be lifted out of poverty by this measure. That is real progress and that is smart policy. That is how to build a stronger middle class and help those working hard to join the middle class.
Millions of hard-working Canadians will benefit from this tax reduction and hundreds of thousands will be lifted from the tax rolls. It is great to see that the implementation of the basic personal exemption increase will be done. It is an idea that I have long championed and one I put forth in the 2019 platform.
Bill will extend the current support programs through to September, and will continue to assist Canadian workers and businesses that remain impacted by COVID-19. The CEWS and the Canada emergency rent subsidy are programs that I know literally hundreds of businesses in my riding have used, and continue to use during this difficult third wave of the pandemic. Budget 2021 provides certainty and clarity to Canadian businesses on both of these key support programs. The city of Vaughan is home to over 12,000 small and medium-sized businesses and they know that our government continues to have their backs during COVID-19.
Our goal must not only be to recover the jobs lost because of the pandemic, but to once again create good, middle-class jobs for Canadians. Bill spurs job creation with a new Canada recovery hiring program that incentivizes the hiring of new workers as we emerge from the pandemic. To build a fairer and more inclusive economy that works for all Canadians, we need to ensure that our tax system is fair and inherently progressive, and that loopholes, unfair tax evasions and tax advantages are prudently closed.
In Bill , our government will move forward to implement measures that will limit the benefit of employee stock option deductions for employees of large and well-established corporations. Stock options are valuable and important incentives for newly funded firms, such as tech firms or start-ups, to pay their employees as they grow the business while cash flow, or as it should be referred to free cash flow, is very low. I know how important entrepreneurs are, and how they create jobs and take on risk, and they should be rewarded. However, for well-established firms the tax advantages offered by stock options should be limited. I advocated for this differential treatment of stock options. It is a large measure for tax fairness, which I am very glad to see in Bill .
In line with our allies such as France, Italy and the United Kingdom, we will move forward with the implementation of a digital tax. Bill proposes implementing a digital services tax, at a rate of 3%, on revenue from digital services that rely on data and content contributions from Canadian users. The measure would apply to large businesses with gross revenues of 750 million euros or more. It would come into effect by January 1, 2022, and is anticipated to raise approximately $3.4 billion.
We will continue to provide tools and resources to the CRA as it combats tax evasion to ensure everyone pays their fair share.
Our government continues to strengthen the disability tax credit and related programs used by Canadians with special abilities. Bill proposes to remove the time limit for a registered disability savings plan to remain registered after the cessation of a beneficiary's eligibility for the disability tax credit, and to modify rent and bond repayment obligations. This again fulfills a promise of our government to the disability community. As noted in budget 2021, an expansion of the disability tax credit would take place to provide further support and expansion to the number of disabled Canadians eligible for the DTC.
Bill implements our budget promise with a major expansion to the Canada workers benefit of nearly $9 billion over six years and $1.7 billion annually. Approximately one million additional hard-working Canadians will benefit, and 100,000 are estimated to be lifted out of poverty with a strengthened CWB. We have a moral obligation to ensure that work allows individuals to live in dignity. We know how important the dignity of work is, but we need to ensure that individuals who are working hard are not falling behind. I have long favoured the Canada workers benefit as an effective income support measure. Along with prior enhancements to the program, namely in budget 2018, approximately three million Canadians will now benefit from this program. The CWB's effectiveness was strengthened with automatic enrolment for the non-refundable credit via the Canada Revenue Agency, which ensures all Canadians who are entitled to the credit will receive it.
In conjunction with the CWB increase, it is great to see that the minimum wage for federally regulated workers will be set at $15 per hour and adjusted upward annually on the basis of the consumer price index in Canada.
Bill implements a number of measures for seniors and students, both of whom we know have been impacted by COVID-19 in different ways. For students, Bill amends the Canada Student Loans Act and also the Canada Student Financial Assistance Act. These amendments will provide students with approximately $3 billion in relief. In addition, no students will have to begin repaying their loans until they earn $40,000 per year. Combined, these measures will support an additional 121,000 students.
I wish to end by discussing our seniors, including my parents Rocco and Vincenza. These people built our country. They sacrificed, worked hard and built the strong foundations we now rely on. We know that our seniors, including my parents, helped build our country and sacrificed so much. Their fiscal prudence, work ethic and ingenuity continue to inspire me today.
We will fulfill our promise to raise old age security by 10% for seniors 75 years of age and older effective June 2022. This measure will benefit 3.3 million seniors, and is a $12 billion investment in our seniors over the next five years.