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44th PARLIAMENT, 1st SESSION

EDITED HANSARD • No. 100

CONTENTS

Thursday, September 22, 2022




Emblem of the House of Commons

House of Commons Debates

Volume 151
No. 100
1st SESSION
44th PARLIAMENT

OFFICIAL REPORT (HANSARD)

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Speaker: The Honourable Anthony Rota

    The House met at 10 a.m.

Prayer



Routine Proceedings

[Routine Proceedings]

  (1005)  

[English]

Petitions

COVID-19 Mandates 

     Mr. Speaker, I am presenting a petition on behalf of Canadians who want a permanent end to the ArriveCAN app, the vaccine mandates and all COVID mandates. Currently, the government has only suspended some of the mandates, but thanks to opposition pressure, they will be getting rid of the ArriveCAN app and the border mandates.
    The petitioners note that other countries around the world have removed all of their vaccine mandates and restrictions. The petitioners are calling on the government and the Minister of Transport to end all federally regulated COVID-19 vaccine mandates and restrictions.

Yazidis  

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present a petition on behalf of Canadians. The plight of the Yazidi community is well known around the world, with the genocide that happened and the unfortunate situation Yazidis are in today. Eight years after that, they still live in fear, they are still in unlivable conditions and they are still in IDP camps.
    This petition calls on the government to, one, cancel the refugee status document requirement for G5 and community sponsors under PSR, at least for Iraqi and Syrian religious minorities; two, using ministerial discretion and/or public policy, designate Iraqi religious minorities for refugee resettlement under the various sponsorship programs; three, allow private sponsors to name Iraqi religious minorities for inclusion under the BVOR and JAS programs; four, facilitate the private sponsorship of Yazidis and deem these applications above SAHs' allocations; and five, speed up the processing of in-Canada and overseas PSR applications at ROC-O for Iraqi religious minorities.
    The petitioners are essentially calling on the government to have a better and more efficient way to get people who are being persecuted into Canada.

Electoral Reform  

    Mr. Speaker, it is a huge privilege and honour to table a petition on behalf of constituents from my riding.
    They cite that Canada's electoral system, from its very inception, has always been a first-past-the-post system, unfairly resulting in either a Liberal or Conservative government with virtually no impact on the popular vote, leading to distorted Canadian values. They cite that proportional representation is a principle that says that the percentage of seats a party has in Parliament should reflect the percentage of the people who voted for that party, so if a party gets 40% of the popular vote, they should get 40% of the seats.
    They cite that under a first-past-the-post system, like the current system in Canada, a party can win a majority of seats and all the power with less than half the popular vote. They also cite that other countries, such as Germany, Italy, Ireland, New Zealand and the Netherlands, have progressed past the first-past-the-post system, and many states are seeking to implement ranked choice voting so that all votes are calculated.
    The petitioners are calling for the government to move to a proportional system.

Seniors  

    Mr. Speaker, I have a petition signed by many residents of Winnipeg North asking for the government to take into consideration the many different programs that our seniors are very much dependent on, whether it is GIS, OAS or many of the different senior support programs that are supported, such as New Horizons and so forth. They are asking the Prime Minister and, in fact, all members of Parliament to be strong advocates for our seniors in all regions.

Questions on the Order Paper

    The Speaker: Is that agreed?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

Government Orders

[Government Orders]

  (1010)  

[Translation]

Cost of Living Relief Act, No. 2

    He said: Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion.
    I am thankful for the opportunity to rise today in the House to open this important debate on Bill C-31, an act respecting cost of living relief measures related to dental care and rental housing.
    These days everyone is feeling the effects of the increased cost of living. This situation is particularly difficult for families. We know that all parents want what is best for their children.
    However, with inflation the way it is, oral health care may be out of reach for the more than one-third of Canadians who do not have dental insurance and their children.
    That is why, this week, we introduced a bill that proposes a Canadian dental benefit to help families who are having difficulty paying for dental care for their children. The introduction of this benefit is the first step toward a comprehensive, long-term national dental care program.
    Investing in oral health is about more than just avoiding cavities. It is essential to overall health. By making routine dental care more accessible to Canadian families, we can prevent children's minor oral health problems from becoming major issues that are more costly, painful and difficult to address. For example, poor oral health is linked to major chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.
    Poor oral health clearly places a heavy burden on children, parents and the health care system across the country. The direct and indirect costs affect us all, and we can all benefit from the improvements that proper oral health care can bring to the overall health of the Canadian population.

[English]

    The proposed Canada dental benefit is a first important step toward that goal. The proposed benefit would start by helping children who are more in need, because when it comes to poor oral health, kids have the most to lose. Many oral diseases can begin in the preschool years, and tooth decay is the most common chronic disease in Canada for children. That is also true around the world.
    In Canada, the treatment of dental problems is the leading cause of day surgery under general anaesthesia for children under the age of five. Once again, these dental problems are not shared equally among all kids. Research shows that dental diseases tend to be found mostly among children from lower-income families, indigenous children, new immigrants and children living with disabilities or who have special health care needs. The good news is that with the right amount of care, these oral health issues and the longer-term health problems they create are preventable.

[Translation]

    Here is how the Canada dental benefit would work. Beginning in late 2022, parents whose adjusted family net income is under $90,000 and who do not have access to private dental insurance can claim the Canada dental benefit for their eligible children under 12.
     The Canada Revenue Agency, the CRA, will administer the benefit. Parents will be able to apply through the CRA's My Account portal or their contact centre. If eligible, they will receive an initial payment that they can use to see a dentist with their child.
    We want to eliminate as many obstacles to accessing dental care as possible by making sure that families do not have to cover dental expenses they cannot afford.
    The Canada dental benefit will provide up to $650 per year per child under 12. It will be available to eligible families and children and will not be taxed.
    We realize that it is essential for Canadians with urgent dental care needs to get funding quickly and easily. That is why the benefit will be offered to claimants before the dental care is provided. That money can be used to cover oral health services offered by any independent, regulated oral health care provider in Canada.
    In the event a person has paid for care before applying for the benefit, they can apply for the benefit retroactively, as long as the care was received during the eligibility period and was not reimbursed by another program.
    If this bill is passed, Health Canada and the CRA will work closely together to ensure that Canadians receive their benefits as quickly as possible.
    The CRA has the necessary resources and experience to offer this program thanks to its vast, secure infrastructure and its long-standing experience in delivering services to Canadians. The CRA will verify compliance before and after the payment to protect itself against fraud and ensure that the program is being used as intended.
    If the bill is passed, Health Canada will act quickly to ensure that Canadian families who qualify for the Canada dental benefit are well informed about how to apply for it.
    In collaboration with the CRA, Health Canada will launch a national public education campaign to inform qualifying families about the program and will oversee the implementation of the benefit.

  (1015)  

[English]

    As I mentioned, the proposed Canada dental benefit is an interim benefit. This measure would provide immediate financial support to low- and middle-income Canadian families, allowing them to begin addressing their eligible children’s dental care needs sooner rather than later. While this interim program is in place, the Government of Canada will take the necessary steps to build a comprehensive, longer-term dental care program. That includes engaging with key stakeholders, including the provinces and territories, indigenous organizations, dental associations and industry to help inform our approach to implementing a long-term Canadian dental care program.
    This past summer, for example, the Minister of Public Services and Procurement and I launched a request for information with industry representatives, and Health Canada reached out to provinces and territories to better understand what is needed to successfully implement a long-term Canadian dental care program. What we learned through that process will help inform our approach as we work toward a permanent program.
    I am pleased with the progress our government continues to make on this front as we develop and take necessary steps to put in place a robust, sustainable long-term dental care program for Canadians. I look forward to providing more details on that front in the coming months.

[Translation]

    If passed, this bill will help hundreds of thousands of Canadian children who do not currently have access to dental care because of the cost of that care. Bill C-31 proposes an interim benefit, because children, whose teeth are still developing, are a priority for our government and for anyone who cares about oral health.
    That being said, in closing, I would like to take a moment to talk about timelines. In budget 2022, our government committed to helping our youngest Canadians access dental care by the end of the year. Our goal is to ensure that children under 12 can access the Canada dental benefit by the end of 2022. I therefore urge all hon. members of the House to support this bill, an act respecting cost of living relief measures related to dental care and rental housing, without delay.
    Madam Speaker, a question immediately came to mind when I was listening to the speech by the health minister, the same minister who refused to have any discussions with the provinces about health costs and what to do about health care.
    Did the minister consult the province of Quebec, the government of Quebec and, above all, the health minister of Quebec about establishing its dental care program for children?
    Madam Speaker, before answering definitely yes to the last question, I would like to correct the introduction a little. The introduction to the question suggests that we have not worked together over the past few months. I suggest that my hon. colleague speak to his counterpart, Quebec's health minister—even though he may be a little busy right now—and check with him about all the exchanges we have had over the past year, which led to positive health outcomes, especially in the fight against COVID-19. Those outcomes have been significant for the country and certainly for all Quebeckers.

  (1020)  

    Madam Speaker, I would love to know whether the Minister of Health realizes that Quebec already covers dental care for kids under the age of nine.
    Did he factor that into his program? How does he plan to compensate Quebeckers whose taxes will be paying for benefits that are allocated elsewhere in Canada? Quebeckers already pay for such a program and our health care system is in need of funding.
    This all boils down to one question: When will the minister look at increasing health transfers and letting Quebec do its job?
    Madam Speaker, there is good news for children in Quebec.
    Quebec's system partially covers dental care for children up to the age of nine and we are proud of that. The good news is that the Canadian government is going to expand that coverage to older children and to more types of care.
    Preventive health care is essential in Quebec and all across the country. We want the sick to be properly looked after, and we also want to prevent people from getting sick. The additional coverage that our government is providing through the Canada dental benefit will give hundreds of thousands of kids under the age of 12 in Quebec access to better preventive dental care.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I thank the minister for this bill. I am glad the NDP was able to force the government to take action to ensure that dental coverage would be provided to Canadians, starting first with coverage for children under 12 and subsequently for seniors and people with disabilities, and so on.
    With that being said, it is, of course, important to make sure that indigenous children who get dental services elsewhere would also have access at least the equivalent level of service under this bill.
    Could the minister please confirm if that would be the case?
    Madam Speaker, there are two different things. First, NIHB, as the member knows, covers most dental care services, and other health services, for indigenous peoples. We have been investing more resources into that program, and we will be investing more resources over time.
    Second, this is a key part of the House agenda over the next few days. We really hope that all parties will support this piece of legislation, which is going to be key in supporting issues around the cost of living for so many Canadian families and, certainly, the health care and dental health care needs of so many children in our country.
    Madam Speaker, I appreciate the minister's comments on this, but my question remains. The government cannot even afford the Canada mental health transfer, which has been promised for a very long time, and it cannot manage the Canadian health care system now, so why is it introducing new legislation for something else that it would not be able to manage?
    Madam Speaker, we all know, and I am sure the member knows this as well, that health and health care are global. It is all part of an entire body. It would be unfortunate to say that we should treat one part of our body or mind and not treat the other parts. They are all connected, and that is why investments in dental care, mental care, long-term care, home care and community care are all important. We are not going to choose which aspects of people we need to invest in.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to address the House about the measures the government is taking to make housing more affordable for Canadians.
    Since 2015, our government has made housing a priority. Housing was at the heart of the last budget. Now, however, Canadians are increasingly feeling the effects of the increase in the cost of living. That is why we need to redouble our efforts and work together to develop an ambitious plan.
    In 2017, we adopted the national housing strategy, the first of its kind in Canada’s history. This 10-year plan is supported by investments totalling more than $72 billion. The main objective of the national housing strategy is to create more housing for vulnerable Canadians, including seniors, women and children fleeing violence, indigenous people, veterans, people with disabilities, and people experiencing homelessness or at risk of becoming homeless.
    The strategy has already been very successful. For example, last year in Quebec we announced $100 million to renovate low-cost housing, including 517 units that had been abandoned for years. We are continuing to adjust and broaden the strategy to keep up with the constantly changing situation. We are proposing new investments in a number of programs, as well as the extension and acceleration of financing for existing programs, which are helping the situation.
    Although we are working hard to make Canadians’ lives more affordable, we recognize that many of them need immediate additional assistance. This is why we are proposing Bill C-31, which provides a one-time top-up to the Canada housing benefit, consisting of a single payment of $500 to approximately 1.8 million renters who are struggling to pay their rent. This one-time federal allowance will be available to Canadians with adjusted net incomes of less than $35,000 for families, or $20,000 for individuals, and who pay at least 30% of their income on housing.
    In Hochelaga, 70% of the population consists of renters, with over 24% paying more than 30% of their income on rent. This payment will double the commitment we made in the 2022 budget. We will therefore be able to help twice as many Canadians as we initially promised. This one-time payment will be in addition to the Canada housing benefit, which is currently jointly funded and provided by the provinces and territories. The Canada housing benefit, launched in 2020, was developed jointly with the provinces and territories. With joint financing of $4 billion over eight years, it provides direct financial support to those who are struggling to pay rent.
    Canadians have told us loud and clear that affordable housing is one of their major concerns, and we agree. The pandemic and its effects on the economy brought to light and exacerbated the precarious housing conditions in which many people live. One of the main causes of unaffordable housing in Canada is insufficient supply. Housing supply is not keeping up with demand. This problem was aggravated by the pandemic and, as we know, goes well beyond the borders of major cities, affecting small towns and rural communities as well. Creating more housing units will increase affordability for all Canadians. It is urgent that we build additional affordable housing units, especially for those experiencing homelessness or at risk of becoming homeless.
    That is why the rapid housing initiative will be extended for a third time. Announced in the 2022 budget, the third round of the rapid housing initiative includes $1.5 billion over two years, starting in 2022-23, to create at least 4,500 new affordable housing units to meet urgent needs across the country. Thanks to the excellent participation of our municipal partners and others, the first two rounds of the program exceeded all expectations. Overall, the third round of the rapid housing initiative will fund the construction of 14,500 housing units for the most vulnerable Canadians.
    It is also important to mention that the national housing co-investment fund, which brings together numerous partners to build affordable community housing for the most vulnerable Canadians, will receive $13.2 billion in funding. It is one of the main pillars of the strategy and the most important program of its kind in Canada's history.

  (1025)  

    The national housing co-investment fund addresses supply challenges in two significant ways. It helps to renovate aging affordable housing units in poor condition and to build housing units near public transit, workplaces, schools and other services families depend on. To date, the program has received more than $5.8 billion in loans and contributions. This funding will make it possible to provide stable and safe affordable housing to more than 117,000 Canadian households.
    Federal programs like the national housing co-investment fund are important, but we are aware that we need to work in collaboration with others, including the provinces and territories, municipalities, and private and non-profit organizations in order to get results. That is why we want to support our municipal partners in their efforts to increase housing supply. We will be launching a fund to accelerate the construction of housing units. At the municipal level, there are often obstacles and delays at the project development stage. This fund will allow Canadian cities to act more quickly. We expect this initiative to increase the annual supply of housing units in the largest Canadian cities, with a target of 100,000 new units by 2025.
    We are making significant progress in implementing our national housing strategy, but there is still much work to do and many obstacles to overcome. Our partners at every level of government and in every sector are committed to working with us to find solutions to improve Canadians' lives.
    In conclusion, I urge all members of the House to work together to address the pressing need for housing. Above all, I urge them to immediately support the one-time top-up to the Canada housing benefit so that we can send out the $500 payment that so many Canadian renters need as soon as possible. I hope that 1.8 million Canadians will have access to these funds.

  (1030)  

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I really believe we need an answer on this side of the House to understand the atrocious management that we have seen, the heavy hearts we have that the Canada mental health transfer has not been realized. Now we see another government program.
    How does the government propose to manage things when we know clearly from its track record that it cannot really, as my dad would say, manage a marble game?

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his question. This topic is personal for me, since I myself live with young adults, one of whom is experiencing serious mental health issues.
    I think that, as a government, we have done what needed to be done. We signed agreements with the provinces that included the issue of mental health in health transfers. We will continue to work with the provinces to support Canadians across the country with their physical and mental health needs, and especially their housing needs.
    Madam Speaker, the hon. member across the aisle is from the riding of Hochelaga, which is known for having a large number of low-income families.
    What does she have to say to all of the low-income families whose taxes will be used to send payments to families with children between the ages of 0 and 9 in the other provinces, while their own situation remains the same?
    Madam Speaker, what I can say is that more than 15,000 families in Hochelaga are receiving the Canada child benefit, which was not the case four years ago. We are talking about families receiving $600, $700, $800, $900 or $1,000 a month to help meet all their needs. For the most vulnerable families in Hochelaga, this makes a big difference on their paycheque at the end of the month.
    Madam Speaker, I listened closely to the speech made by my colleague from Hochelaga, and I noticed that three important words were missing from her speech: New Democratic Party.
    Prior to the election, the Liberals had absolutely no interest in funding dental care for the poor and middle class. We forced the Liberals to provide that coverage. They did not want to offer the Canada housing benefit to the most disadvantaged, who are struggling to pay rent. We forced their hand. They did not want to increase the GST credit. The NDP forced the Liberals to do it.
    Now they need to go a step further and tax the richest billionaires and big corporations that are taking advantage of inflation to line their pockets.
    They might as well continue using our ideas.

  (1035)  

    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague, who is also my riding neighbour, for his question.
    I prefer to use the word “collaborate”. To me, the spirit of collaboration is working with all MPs in the House to improve people's quality of life. My colleague and I agree on that. I will continue to collaborate with every member of Parliament who is willing to work with all Canadians to improve their quality of life.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, when we look at the legislation, it is important to note that what we are doing is helping society deal with a very serious problem. Teeth decay and surgeries as a direct result of children not having a dental plan are having a profound impact on other aspects of quality of life and health care costs.
     I wonder if the member could provide her comments in regard to the benefits of helping our children at this time.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.
    Here is a brief response. We need to do everything we can to lower the cost of living for people across the country. All members of Parliament should vote in favour of every bill and every program we introduce to improve people's quality of life and help them with housing, health care and mental health. That is what we want to achieve by introducing this bill.
    Madam Speaker, in my 18 years in politics, I have never seen Canadians suffer as much as they are suffering now. I just criss-crossed the country and met a lot of people. In fact, 93,000 people registered for my events. I make a point of listening to all their stories, and I never leave the room until I have spoken to everyone who wants to meet me. I heard some heartbreaking stories.
    We are talking about young people, 35-year-olds, who have done everything they were supposed to do. They earned a degree and they are working hard, yet they are still living in their parents' basement or in a small, 400-square-foot apartment because the price of housing has doubled since this Prime Minister took office. Our housing bubble is the second largest in the world. Yesterday we learned that the percentage of Canadians who own their own home is at its lowest level in over 30 years.
    When the Prime Minister took office, Canadians were paying 32% of their income on average to maintain a mid-size house. Now, the average family has to pay 50% of their income just to keep their house. This increase is due to higher costs, but also to an increase in interest rates, which this government had promised Canadians would not happen for a long time. It told Canadians not to worry, to go ahead and take out big loans, since interest rates would remain low for a long time, and there would never be any negative consequences. Now we are seeing interest rates rises 300 basis points, or 3% in simple terms.
    This phenomenon is not only affecting the housing sector, it is also affecting the price of food. I will take this opportunity to read out some headlines, because even the media is starting to notice a problem. “Rents are so high in Toronto that students are living in homeless shelters.” “Inflation: Child hunger a major concern in Canada amid skyrocketing food prices.” “GTA food banks say they're facing the highest demand in their history.” “Nearly 6 million people in Canada experienced food insecurity in 2021, U of T study says.” People can no longer pay for food. Some single mothers are even watering down their children's milk because they cannot afford food.
    As for gas prices, I met a young man who works in the mines in northern Ontario, and he told me that he could not go see his dying parents in Thunder Bay because diesel was over $2 a litre. He was not able to say goodbye to his own parents.
    What is the Prime Minister doing to respond to this crisis? First, he is trying to divide people by attacking them because he thinks that if Canadians are afraid of one another, then they will forget that they cannot pay their bills. The Prime Minister is keeping in place vaccine mandates that every other country has lifted. He is still insisting on the use of the ArriveCAN app, which really does not work. He is trying to divert people's attention away from the cost of living by dividing Canadians and creating problems and division.
    The next part of his plan involves increasing income taxes and taxes on gas, heating and food. The first thing the official opposition has called for since I became leader is for the government to do away with the tax hikes so that Canadians can keep more of their paycheques in their pockets and so that energy, gas, heating and other costs become more affordable.

  (1040)  

    That is our role, here in Parliament, to turn pain into hope. Canadians need hope. The comment I heard most from the people who attended my events was “Thank you for giving us hope”. For the first time, people believe that things can improve, and they will. We can change things.
    The first thing we need to do is axe all the tax hikes, but we also need to control spending. Today's inflation is the result of a spendthrift government. The government's spending is increasing the cost of living. The $500-billion inflationary deficit increased the cost of what we buy and the interest that we pay. Inflationary taxes are increasing costs related to our businesses and our workers who provide products and services. The more the government spends, the more things cost. That is “Justinflation”.
    We can reverse this trend by introducing legislation to limit government spending. This will subject politicians to the same economic rules that families have to follow. When a family increases spending in one column of their budget, they have to cut spending elsewhere. They have to find a dollar to spend a dollar. The same principle should apply to governments. During the Clinton years, the United States passed a law that helped Americans balance their budget and pay down $400 billion in debt. It was, at the time, the largest debt repayment in the United States. As soon as the law was struck down, Americans were plunged back into a deficit. This is proof that we need to put legal limits on politicians' spending and that politicians should have to follow the same spending rules as single mothers and small business owners.
    Furthermore, instead of just printing more money, we need to produce more of the things that money buys, produce affordable food, energy and natural resources here in Canada, and we need to build more houses. We need to remove the barriers that the Prime Minister has put in place.
    Let us start with food. The Prime Minister increased farmers' taxes. That increases the cost of fertilizer and of the energy needed to produce food. Now he wants to limit the use of fertilizer. That will require farming more land to produce the same quantity of food. Tractors and other equipment will have to cover a larger area, burning more diesel and other fuels. More food will have to be imported. Bringing this food from other countries to Canada will again require using more energy.
    Did we not learn during the COVID-19 crisis that it is irresponsible to rely on other countries for what we need?
    We should be able to grow our own food here, in Canada. Our farmers are the best in the world. We should remove the barriers that the government has put in place. We will cancel these taxes on farmers, scrap the government's plans to reduce the use of fertilizer and eliminate the paperwork that is so expensive for our farmers.
    Second, we will provide incentives to our municipalities to cut their red tape. At present, Canada has the lowest housing units per capita in the G7, even though we have the largest land area. That is ridiculous. That is why housing prices in Canada are the second highest in the world relative to household income. With regard to home ownership, Vancouver is the third most expensive market in the world, and Toronto is the sixth. A Conservative government will tie the dollar amount for infrastructure in big cities where housing prices are too high to the number of houses built.

  (1045)  

    This will encourage them to cut red tape and reduce the cost of building permits so that more housing can be built. Every time a federal government funds a public transit station, we will make sure there is intensive densification in the surrounding areas so that young people can live in homes and apartments next to public transit.
    Third, we will sell 15% of the 37,000 federal buildings so that they can be converted into housing and create millions of homes that our young people could buy in order to start a family.
    Instead of importing foreign energy, we will get rid of laws like the ones arising from Bill C‑69 and others to allow energy to be produced here in Canada. This will create jobs and make the cost of energy more affordable. It will increase Canadians' purchasing power by raising the value of our dollar. When our energy sector is strong, our dollar goes up. The value of the dollar is tied to our purchasing power. When the dollar is low, it costs more to buy anything on international markets. Let us strengthen our dollar, produce our own energy and end oil imports.
    By the way, where are the Liberal and NDP environmentalists to protest the foreign oil we are importing? Why are we funding dictators? We should be funding Canadians' paycheques here at home.
    Finally, we want to give Canadians back control of their lives, in the freest country in the world, where the dollar keeps its value so that Canadians can have the life they work so hard to build. We should be a country that rewards hard work, a country where people can keep more of their money. We need to reform the tax system so that hard-working Canadians who contribute to the economy can keep their hard-earned money and provide better for their families. We should be a country that encourages and supports those who work hard, take risks and help build our country.

[English]

    It is good to be back in the House, but would it not be nice if our young people could have a home? That is what we should be working towards. Unfortunately, yesterday we learned that the rates of home ownership are at their lowest levels in a generation. House prices have doubled under this Prime Minister. In fact, when this Prime Minister took office, the average family could afford their monthly housing costs with 32% of their paycheque. That has rocketed up to almost 50%. Vancouver is the third-most overpriced housing market on planet Earth. Toronto is the sixth. We have the second-worst housing bubble on planet Earth. No wonder nine in 10 young Canadians say that they cannot even dream of affording a house.
    Now, from housing to food, we see the headlines. Even the media has noticed: “Rents are so high in Toronto that students are living in homeless shelters”; “Child hunger a major concern in Canada amid skyrocketing food prices”; “GTA food banks say they're facing the highest demand in their history”; and “Nearly 6 million people in Canada experienced food insecurity in 2021, U of T study says”.
    Then there is energy. I met a young man in northern Ontario who said that he could not afford to put the diesel in his car to go and see his dying relatives one last time, who are hundreds of miles away in Thunder Bay. I met a working man, an energy worker ironically, in St. John's, Newfoundland, who said that the rising cost of gas meant he could not afford to replace his boots so he was taping them up with duct tape.

  (1050)  

     Canadians are suffering, and why is this happening? The cost of government is driving up the cost of living. Half a trillion dollars of inflationary deficits means more dollars chasing fewer goods, leading to higher prices, bidding up the cost of the goods we buy and the interest we pay. Inflationary taxes drive up the cost of businesses and workers to make our goods. The more Liberals spend, the more things cost. It is just inflation, and Canadians are paying the price for it.
    What has been the Prime Minister's response? His first response was to attack the people who were suffering, to call them horrible and disparaging names, to divide and distract. His strategy is simple. He thinks if people are afraid of their neighbours, they will forget that they cannot pay their bills, so he keeps in place divisive and unscientific vaccine mandates to shut truckers out of their ability to transport goods across the border and soldiers, who have served our country bravely and loyally, out of their jobs. He does this all to stigmatize and attack so a single mother who is putting water in her kid's milk might forget, he hopes, how badly she is suffering under his watch because she will be afraid of her fellow citizens. It is time to replace fear with freedom. It is time for us all to unite.
    The Prime Minister's second approach has been ever predictable. He wants to raise taxes with a new tax hike on paycheques that will take effect on January 1, meaning that Canadians will take home less of what they earn. Small businesses will have to pay a higher cost for every single person they keep on the payroll, forcing many to make the painful choice of laying people off. A few months later, on April 1, April Fool's Day, he will continue to carry out his plan to triple the carbon tax. He wants to increase gas taxes, home heating taxes and, indirectly, food taxes because, of course, food requires energy. This is going to make things worse. The Conservatives have made the demand that the government must cancel all its tax increases on our workers and our seniors so that their paycheques go further and their energy becomes affordable.
    We in this House have a duty to transform the hurt into hope. That is what Conservatives will do, because things can get better. There is nothing wrong with Canada, with our country, that cannot be cured by what is right with this country. We have the answers that will counter this inflation and reinforce the purchasing power of Canadians.
    We will call for a cap on taxes so that Canadians pay no more to the government and can keep more for themselves. We will call for the government to cap its own spending, and it can do this by simply following the same rules that everyday families follow. If a family decides it wants to build a porch in front of their house, they cancel their vacation or, better yet, they go out and find a deal on lumber and look for a way to keep their vacation costs down so that they can do both but for the same budget. This is how small businesses function as well, but not government.
    The great Thomas Sowell said that the number one law of economics is scarcity, that people always want more than there is to have and that the number one rule of politics is to ignore the number one rule of economics, because politicians are the only creatures in the universe who do not have to live with scarcity. The birds in the trees, the fish in the seas, all must make maximum use of limited resources, but the politician just passes the cost on to someone else in higher inflation, debt and taxes. A “pay-as-you-go” law would force politicians to make the same either-or trade-offs that everyday Canadians make in their lives.
    The principle is very simple. If the government brings in a new dollar of spending, it should find a dollar of savings to pay for it. All of the existing spending that is in the budget goes ahead into the future, but when the government steps into this House to introduce a new measure, it should accompany it with savings to pay for it. The government did this in the United States during the 1990s and that allowed the American government to balance its budget, pay off $400 billion of debt, have booming job growth, record-low unemployment and a massive increase in prosperity, but as soon as it let the law lapse, it went right back into deficit, proving that politicians need the same legal limits on their spending that families follow every single day. Our families have been pinching their pennies long enough. It is time for government to pinch its pennies, too.

  (1055)  

    Instead of just creating more cash, why not create more of what cash buys? Why do we not grow more food, build more house and produce more Canadian resources right here in our country instead?
    Let us start with houses. As I have said, we have the fewest houses per capita of any country in the entire G7, even though we have the most land on which to build. Why? Local government gatekeepers stand in the way.
     In Vancouver, the cost of government gatekeepers, that is permitting, delays, consultants and taxes, is $600,000 for one unit of housing. It is about $350,000 in Toronto. This prevents people from owning a home.
    I propose is this. The government should link the number of dollars big overpriced cities get for infrastructure to the number of houses that actually get built, so we have an incentive for them to remove the gatekeepers, lower the costs and increase the speed of building permits so we can get more houses.
    Let us require every federally funded transit station be pre-approved for high-density housing around it, so our young people do not even need to own a car. They can live right next to transit. Let us sell off 15% of the underutilized and overpriced 37,000 federal buildings, so we can convert that into housing. Let us create millions of new homes, so our newcomers, immigrants, young people and working-class people can re-establish the dream of home ownership.
    Let us put an end to importing overseas oil into this country. Where are the protesters? Where are the Bloc, the NDP and the Liberal protesters standing in Saint John, New Brunswick to greet all those big tankers coming from overseas? They say that they are against oil, but they have no problem if that oil comes from foreign dictatorships. There are 130,000 barrels of overseas oil every single day arriving at our shores and taking our money back to their countries at the same time.
    Meanwhile, the Prime Minister violates his own sanctions against Putin by sending back a turbine so the Russians can continue to pump gas into Germany, so the Germans can fund the Russian war against Ukraine. It is incredible. Those members are against pipelines in Canada, but in favour of maintaining the turbines for Russian pipelines that fund foreign wars.
    Meanwhile, we have 1,300 trillion cubic feet of natural gas that could be used to free Europe from its dependency on Putin, meanwhile bringing back paycheques to this country. We have the ability to produce it cleaner than anywhere else on planet earth. In fact, the shortest shipping distances to both Asia and Europe from North America are right here in Canada.
    What else do we have in Canada that allows us to liquify natural gas so it fits on a ship? Cold weather, which is our most abundant natural resource. That actually lowers the cost of liquefying natural gas by 25%. With Quebec, Newfoundland and British Columbia hydro, we can do it emissions-free. Why do we not ship our clean Canadian natural gas to Asia to shut down coal-fired plants there and ship it to Europe to break European dependence on Putin? Let us turn dollars for dictators into paycheques for Canadians.
    Let us make work pay again in our country. Let us stop punishing people for the crime of getting up early in the morning and putting in a hard day's work. According to a Finance Canada document, if a single mother with three kids who earns $55,000 a year goes out and earns another dollar, she loses 80¢ of that dollar to government clawbacks and taxes. If she makes $25 an hour, she takes home $5 of that. No one should work for $5 an hour. That is below minimum wage, and yet our tax and benefits system punishes her for trying to work a little harder so maybe her kids can go to camp in the summer or maybe they can join the little league team.

  (1100)  

    We should reward hard work in our country. We should set out to reform our benefit and tax systems, so that every time someone works harder, takes another shift, earns a bonus and gets up a little earlier they keep more of what they earn.
    My parents raised me to believe that it did not matter where I came from; it mattered where I was going. It did not matter who I knew, but what I could do. That is the country I want my kids to inherit. I want this to be a country again where it does not matter where people start off. If they work hard, if they take risks, if they study, if they learn, if they build and if they contribute, they can achieve anything they want. Right now, people do not feel that way, but hope is on the way.
     We are going to bring change to our country. We are going to put change back in your pocket and we are going to make this the freest country on earth.
    Some hon. members: Hear, hear!
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Questions and comments are coming. I would ask members to please tone it down so we can allow for those.
    Madam Speaker, on a point of order, I just want to note that in the speech we just heard the member spoke about putting “change in your pocket”. I wonder if that is appropriate in this place.
    This becomes a point of debate.
    The hon. parliamentary secretary to the government House leader, questions and comments.
    What we are fully aware of, and I think Canadians are quite aware of it as well, is that during his leadership contest, the member started off by talking about Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies as a solution for people to invest.
     I already hear the heckles coming from across the way because they do not want me to bring this up, but I have a sincere question for the Leader of the Opposition.
    He started to change his position on it and pretty much stopped talking about it right around the time that cryptocurrencies took an absolute dive and anybody who was investing would have seen their investments absolutely devastated. Therefore, I have a genuine question for the Leader of the Opposition.
     Has he had an opportunity to reflect on that position and perhaps has he evolved his position on that and would he be willing to share that with the House?
    Madam Speaker, the only way for all Canadians to avoid inflation is for the government to stop causing it in the first place. The Canadian dollar is the only national currency and will always be the only national currency of our country. Unfortunately, the government is devaluing the purchasing power of that currency.
     With a half-trillion dollars of inflationary deficits, it has driven inflation to its highest levels in 40 years. It has doubled housing prices, which has reduced the purchasing power of the dollar in terms of real estate by half, That is what we have to fix. We need to reinforce the power of the Canadian dollar by cancelling the inflationary deficits and inflationary taxes that have caused this inflation crisis in the first place.

  (1105)  

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I want to congratulate the new leader of the Conservative Party on his election. I just want to remind him, however, that the leadership race is over and that we are debating Bill C‑31.
    This bill is yet another federal encroachment on the jurisdiction of Quebec and the provinces, which brings me to the subject of health transfers.
    My colleague's speech was very long indeed, but it did not include a single word about health transfers. I have been here for three years, and every time I ask Conservative members a question about health transfers, I get the same meaningless answer. They say they are going to sit down with the premiers and then make a decision. The problem is that the premiers of Quebec and the provinces have already sat down together and have already figured out that they need health transfers to go up to 35%.
    Now that the Conservative Party has a new leader, will it finally commit to giving Quebec and the provinces the 35% health transfer increase they want? Is the party ready to provide a meaningful answer? Does it have a different answer now?
    Madam Speaker, the member is right about the fact that the Liberals are creating new programs when they cannot even manage the existing ones. Our health care system is already in crisis, and the federal government has done nothing to fix it. The government is doing nothing to protect our borders from people crossing illegally and from gun smugglers. This government cannot even issue passports.
    Why should we believe that this government can manage the housing crisis and dental benefits? A government that cannot assume its existing responsibilities should not be taking on new ones.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I too offer my congratulations to the Conservatives' new leader. I am a little perplexed, though, because in his 20-minute speech, we did not hear a single mention of dental care, one of the major components of the legislation we are debating this morning.
    I have heard from constituents, seniors, who cannot chew their food; from parents who cannot afford to get their kids the basic dental care they need; and from people who work in dental offices, who see everyday Canadians who cannot afford the procedures they need.
    A year ago, the Conservatives voted against our motion to create a national dental care plan. I am wondering if the leader of the official opposition intends to continue that legacy.
    Madam Speaker, the member is quite right to say that Canadians are suffering under the policies that he is supporting. He is a part of that costly coalition.
    Everything that is happening in Canada is the paradise for which the NDP has been dreaming of all these years. They are now realizing all of the policies they always wanted. Basically, we have an NDP prime minister. What has that given us? Forty year highs in inflation, double the housing prices, record-low home ownership rates, people who, like the member said, cannot afford the basics of life. That is the consequence of that costly coalition of bigger government and smaller citizens whereby Canadians are carrying this heavy load.
    Here is the question. Why would we trust the government to create new programs when it cannot run the programs it already has? It cannot protect our borders. It cannot keep out the guns. It cannot stop the crime even though the Criminal Code is a federal responsibility. It cannot even deliver a passport. How can we expect it to run our lives?
    Madam Speaker, my congratulations as well to the leader of the official opposition.
    I understand that he is concerned with the rising cost of housing, particularly for young folks. On that we can agree. However, in his speech, he skipped right over institutional investors, pension funds and real estate investment trusts that are treating the housing market like stocks, making huge profits on the backs of young people and other low-income folks for whom he says he wants to stand up.
    Does he agree that homes should be places where people live and not treated as commodities in which that folks trade? Is he not also concerned that there is nothing in the bill to address that, like removing preferential tax treatment for real estate investment trusts?

  (1110)  

    Mr. Speaker, it is no surprise that institutional investors have been able to outbid everyday working-class Canadians for housing. Why? Because the government flooded the financial system with $400 billion of newly created cash. When it pumped that cash into the financial system, it went into mortgage lending. Who is preferred to borrow that money? Wealthy, well-connected institutional investors. They got their hands on that money and they used it to bid up housing prices out of the reach of the working class, meaning that young people, who not long ago would have been able to afford a home, are now permanent renters.
    We need to change this system. We need to stop the money printing, ensure that we have a financial and monetary system based on hard, sound money.
    Finally, we need to incentivize local government gatekeepers to get out of the way, deliver faster and more affordable building permits, so we can get houses built for our youth.
    Madam Speaker, I want to thank the official leader of our opposition for not only winning our Conservative leadership race recently, but also for laying out a clear vision as to how we can actually fix all of the problems created by the Liberal government.
    It seems like we have seen this movie before. I look back to when Pierre Elliott Trudeau was the prime minister of Canada and we saw inflation go out of control, because of out-of-control government spending and skyhigh interest rates. I bought my first chunk of farm land back in 1984 and I paid 21.5% interest on my mortgage. That was because of irresponsible Liberal government programs and increased money being spent, which affected our economy.
    Is this a problem again of Liberal times always being tough times? Does the official leader of the opposition think that this is again, like father, like son?
    Madam Speaker, the Liberals are like the Bourbon dynasty: They learn nothing and forget nothing. They are right back to the same policies.
    Pierre Elliott Trudeau ran monstrous money-printing deficits. Of course, that led to 12% inflation, 12% unemployment and then ultimately 19% or 20% interest rates. If we combine unemployment and inflation, we get the misery index. It reached a record-smashing 24% under the first Trudeau, which delivered the highest suicide rates in Canadian history in 1983.
    My earliest memories are of that time, and my parents suffered because, while they were school teachers and did not lose their jobs, they got hit with those interest rate hikes just like everyone else and lost their rental properties. We ended up having to move to a smaller place because of that. We were among the lucky since we were able to get into a home.
    We are following the same policies. We have 40-year highs of inflation. Inflation is higher than at any time since the last Trudeau. If we do the same things, we get the same results.
    The good news is that after Canada was liberated from Pierre Elliot Trudeau, we spent a lot of years doing the exact opposite: shrinking the size of government, reforming our taxes, opening up our economy and standing up for working-class people. That is exactly what we are going to do again, and we are going to get even better results next time.
    We have a question of privilege from the hon. member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan.

Privilege

Alleged Threats Against a Member of Parliament  

[Privilege]
    Madam Speaker, I am sorry to have to interrupt today's debate, but this is an important question of privilege. I will be as brief as possible.
    I rise on a question of privilege regarding threatening comments made by Mr. Dale Smith, an accredited member of the parliamentary press gallery, following a question I raised in the House yesterday. I am raising this issue as soon as possible after having been made aware of these comments.
    Mr. Smith posted the following comments on Twitter yesterday: “Genuis tries to includes lyrics from ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ in his question, and I cannot adequately tell you how lame it is. When horses are this lame, you shoot them. #QP.”
    Mr. Smith said he thought I was lame, and that when horses are lame, we shoot them. This is not normal political discourse, and I ask how I should respond to a comment like that. Some would say, “Oh, surely he was joking.” However, the problem with so-called jokes implying threats toward public officials is that as the target of these comments, I am somehow supposed to understand and be okay with a threat on the basis of someone's presumed intentions. I am just not okay with this.
    If there is context to such a threat, not everyone is going to understand that context. Mr. Smith has 26.3 thousand Twitter followers. His tweet about me has, at the moment, 122 retweets and 824 likes. The process by which violence is incited against public officials is one in which comments are made that do incite violence that may or may not be serious, but then others pick up on them.
    Furthermore, I do not think I should have to explain to my wife, my five young children or my parents what level of risk is associated with a violent comment like this. The plain language is going to be interpreted a certain way, especially by those who are close to me.
    In the current climate, we should all know the risks associated with explicitly inciting violence against public officials. There is significant precedent for recognizing threats against members as constituting a violation of privilege. Page 198 of the second edition of Joseph Maingot's Parliamentary Privilege in Canada tells of an incident in 1758 when the Nova Scotia House of Assembly proceeded against someone who made threats against a member.
    In a ruling on September 19, 1973, Speaker Lamoureux, at page 6709 of Debates, stated that he had “no hesitation in reaffirming the principle that parliamentary privilege includes the right of a member to discharge his responsibilities as a member of the House free from threats or attempts at intimidation.”
    On February 6, 1984, the member for Peace River rose on a question of privilege arising out of a telephone conversation between a member of his staff and an official in the office of the president of Canada Post Corporation. The member alleged that the official had been abusive. The official complained that the member for Peace River's office had not cleared questions asked by the member in the House with the president's office and warned that if this was not done in the future, the member could expect little co-operation from Canada Post.
    The member for Peace River argued that this was an attempt to inhibit his freedom of speech, influence his actions in the House and hamper him in his role as spokesman for the official opposition. The Speaker, on February 20, 1984, ruled the matter to be a prima facie question of privilege.
    On March 24, 1994, at page 2705 of Debates, Speaker Parent described the seriousness of the issue of intimidation this way: “Threats of blackmail or intimidation of a Member of Parliament should never be taken lightly. When such occurs, the very essence of free speech is undermined. Without the guarantee of freedom of speech, no Member of Parliament can do his duty as is expected.”
    All of these past cases involved a threat from a person who did not have parliamentary access. Mr. Smith is currently an accredited member of the parliamentary press gallery, which gives him relatively unfettered access to the Hill. He may be up in the press gallery some time today. He may follow me in the halls or hang around outside our caucus room waiting for me. I should not have to consider whether or not I will encounter someone who has made a threat to me in the halls of Parliament. That current reality of access impacts my ability to perform my functions as a member of Parliament.
    Mr. Smith is an accredited member of the parliamentary press gallery, and the gallery has its own policies and its own responsibilities. The press gallery's own website says the following regarding “Generally Accepted Journalistic Principles and Practices”:
    Misuse of this access by any one member or member organization could erode the professional relationship that exists between the institution of Parliament and the Parliamentary Press Gallery, leading to negative consequences for the ability of members to perform their work.
    As a result, accreditation is a privilege—not a right.
    Madam Speaker, you have a responsibility to protect the rights of members, and I have no doubt that you will discharge that responsibility promptly and properly.
    The press gallery also has responsibilities, and I would like to see the gallery take swift action to revoke Mr. Smith's privileges. This is an opportunity for the gallery to show that they do take seriously the issue of threats made against public officials. At the very least, Mr. Smith's privileges should be immediately suspended pending further review. I do not want to see a person who has made threats against me in the gallery anytime today or in the future.

  (1115)  

    I note that today, Mr. Smith is doubling down on his comments and accusing those who raise concerns about this behaviour of so-called rage farming. He has made it clear that he does not see his behaviour as wrong and that he will not relent.
    I hope that all members of the House, along with the many principled and thoughtful members of the press, will be able to stand together in denouncing these kinds of threats and in defending our democracy and the security of public officials from these kinds of statements.
    While in this case it is my privileges that have been violated, I know that politicians and journalists receive these kinds of threats in other contexts. This case is fairly unique because of the prominence and position of the person making the comments. When people like Mr. Smith make comments like this, it gives other people a feeling of licence to behave in the same way. Under these circumstances, and for the good of all members, the press gallery and the House must take a clear stand.
    Madam Speaker, if you find this to be a prima facie question of privilege, I am prepared to move the appropriate motion.

  (1120)  

    Madam Speaker, on the question of privilege by my hon. colleague, I rise in my capacity as the shadow minister for public safety to add to his remarks about a tweet sent out last night from a member of the parliamentary press gallery who insinuated that my hon. colleague should be shot dead. This is incredibly serious and I would ask that you give it your full attention and investigate further measures that can be taken.
    This comes at a time when we are increasingly aware of threats of violence against members of Parliament and politicians of all stripes at all levels of government. This comes at a time when female journalists have felt brave enough to speak out against the violence they are receiving online. This comes at a time when the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance was threatened very aggressively and harassed over the summer when she was touring Canada.
    This comes at a time when politicians have all experienced an aggressive person at the door, at events or when walking down the street, and we stay quiet. We do not want to seem like we are whining. We do not want to complain about it, and we certainly do not want to encourage others to act in a threatening manner.
    I can say that I have certainly been threatened. I have certainly been aggressively pursued and shouted at by people far larger and more intimidating than me. We try to slip away. We try not to encourage them. We shrink ourselves down and try to remove ourselves from the violent situation. However, as the shadow minister for public safety, I feel that I have a strong responsibility to stand up against the bully who insinuated violence against my colleague.
    We know in the House that we are going to encounter a lot of criticism, sometimes very personal criticism, and we just have to take it with a stiff upper lip; we all do. However, when someone insinuates that we should be shot dead, a very clear line in the sand must be drawn and must be drawn immediately and clearly.
    This individual in particular is a member of the notable parliamentary press gallery of Canada, which is supposed to have the highest ethical standards of journalism in this country. They are supposed to lead by example. Just as we have a public obligation, they have a public obligation. They have a responsibility to investigate this in full. They have a responsibility to lead by example and send a message that this is completely unacceptable.
    As my colleague mentioned as well, this man who sent the tweet out insinuating that my dear colleague should be shot dead for his question in question period yesterday could be up in this gallery today looking down at me, looking down at my colleagues, looking down at Liberal members, NDP members, Bloc members and Green members. When members get up with their courage to ask a question to the best of their ability, that man could be tweeting out criticism and insinuating that they should be shot dead in a tweet. That is unacceptable behaviour.
    Madam Speaker, I would ask that you ensure this is quickly and swiftly investigated in full, and I would appreciate if the strongest consideration was given that the individual be banned from West Block, that a discussion be had with the parliamentary press gallery and that he be removed from the parliamentary press gallery pending further review or permanently.
    Madam Speaker, I want to thank my hon. colleague for raising this issue, which really affects us all. It was directed at him, and I certainly sympathize with how that must have felt, to see that member of the press gallery openly calling for him to be shot after he did not like the question that was asked.
    I would like to point out that, as we move around the very building we are in right now, we can see that the House administration has put up signs in every hallway and near every entrance to stop harassment. They are signs with a big red stop sign that encourage all who work here, staff, MPs and visitors, to stop and call out incidents of sexual harassment, bullying and intimidation. I just wanted to flag that.
     We have all been seized with this, as an institution, over the last few years, and members must, after every election, take training to make sure we are aware of the very highest standards of professionalism as to how we conduct ourselves individually, how we structure our offices and how we expect our staff to interact with each other. We gladly do that. In fact, members of Parliament from all parties got together to enhance the code of conduct for members and their staff.
    As my hon. colleague pointed out, there is a direct relationship with the parliamentary press gallery. Its members' accreditations for security run through the House administration. I believe it is entirely reasonable for you and the Speaker's office to look into this matter to find a prima facie case of privilege. To not find a question of privilege, I believe, would seriously undermine the efforts that are constantly being made to make this building and this environment more safe and secure.
    I sincerely hope that you, Madam Speaker, will find for my hon. colleague's question of privilege.

  (1125)  

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I rise here as a member of Parliament, but first and foremost as a man and a citizen of this world. As a citizen, what I saw yesterday was completely unacceptable. We see intimidation all around us, but I do not recall ever seeing it this bad.
    I am also speaking as a former journalist. I was a journalist for 20 years, including six years as a parliamentary reporter at the National Assembly. I even served as president of the National Assembly's parliamentary press gallery for over a year. I know what a great privilege it is to be a journalist, and even more so when you have direct, daily and even physical, immediate access to our elected decision-makers.
    We must have zero tolerance for intimidation of this kind, especially since this individual has access to places we frequent. The member did a good job describing the reality of the situation. As a former journalist, I call on all journalists to take a very strong stand against this utterly unacceptable situation.

[English]

    I want to thank the hon. member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan for raising this serious issue through a question of privilege. I also want to thank the hon. member for Kildonan—St. Paul for her interjection, as well as the official opposition House leader for his.

[Translation]

    I also want to thank the hon. member for Louis-Saint-Laurent.
    This is certainly an issue that we will take seriously, and the Chair will make a ruling soon.

Cost of Living Relief Act, No. 2

[Government Orders]
    The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-31, An Act respecting cost of living relief measures related to dental care and rental housing, be read the second time and referred to a committee.
    Madam Speaker, I am seeking the unanimous consent of the House to share my speaking time with my admirable colleague, the hon. member for Beauport—Limoilou.
    Does the hon. member have the unanimous consent of the House to share his time?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    The Assistant Deputy Speaker: It is agreed.
    The hon. member for Mirabel.
    Madam Speaker, I would like to take a moment to thank my constituents in the beautiful riding of Mirabel for putting their trust in me one year ago today. Every day, I am reminded what an honour it is to represent them.
    I have been thinking about my constituents. I was thinking about them yesterday. I was thinking about them this morning. I was thinking that last year, the people of Mirabel, along with all Quebeckers and Canadians, voted in a minority government. They voted in a government that was meant to work with the other opposition parties, discuss with them and be constructive. That is what the people of Mirabel wanted. That is what Quebeckers wanted. That is what Canadians wanted.
    A minority government is not necessarily a weak government. It can be a government that is strong because it seeks consensus, engages in dialogue, listens and communicates with the provinces and Quebec. A minority government can be a strong government if it goes about things the right way. However, what the current Liberal government decided to do is an admission of weakness. It has rejected the mandate it was given. Rather than doing the work that Canadians and Quebeckers asked it to do, this government decided to give in to the NDP's laundry list of demands to circumvent democracy.
    There is a reason we are presented with flawed, convoluted, last-minute bills like Bill C-31. Drafting good bills, especially budgetary and financial bills, takes time, thought, preparation and consensus. To top it all off, the bill before us today deals with health care.
    It is important to note that dental health is part of overall health. What is more, this is a field in which Ottawa does not know what it is doing. It does not have the expertise or the jurisdiction. It is not set up for this.
    This summer, the people of Mirabel saw that the federal government was unable to issue passports, so they are not convinced that they want the federal government messing with their teeth. We understand. That is fair. What is worse is that there is no connection—

  (1130)  

     Order. I will remind the member that he cannot hold up documents during his speech, especially when they have the party logo on them. I am reminding the member as he knows full well that he is not supposed to do that.
    Madam Speaker, I apologize. I am sorry for having to be told and I will be sure not to do it again.
    Bill C-31 has no teeth and has nothing to do with dental health. It does not meet dental needs. It is not insurance, and it is not dental insurance. This bill reflects a total lack of understanding of the existing programs in Quebec and also in other provinces.
    I am going to explain what Bill C‑31 really does. All it does is top up the family benefits and the Canada child benefit that already exist. The Bloc Québécois asked for targeted measures to help families with children, low-income families, taxi drivers and people currently affected by rising prices. However, all the government is saying is that it will top up the Canada child benefit for families with an income of less than $90,000 a year to help them deal with the increased cost of living. Now the NDP is telling the government that this bill has no teeth. The government says that those who want the benefit should submit the dentist's bill, even if it is just for $1, $2 or $3 for strawberry-flavored fluoride, for example, and they will be fully reimbursed.
    The Minister of Health is an economist, so he should know that there are no assurances in that. He should know that this program may help families, but instead of increasing their benefits, the government wants them to submit their receipts to the Canada Revenue Agency, fill out forms in triplicate and use the My Account portal. We all know how well MyAccount works and how much everybody loves using it. The government wants people to fill out paperwork, and if they do not have the money to pay for care up front, then they need to fill out even more paperwork to get the money up front and eventually receive care. Ordinarily, if the NDP were not here to get in the way of families and these benefits, the government would give the people money and they would go to the dentist or wherever. This bill is a benefits increase disguised as a dental program where families are asked to spend their time filling out paperwork. I congratulate the NDP.
    This whole thing is meant to give the NDP members a chance to parade around their ridings, lying through their teeth about having achieved something for dental health. I have news for them: They have been shafted, and on top of that, families will to deal with red tape. This is unacceptable.
    It is especially unacceptable because Quebec is getting shafted even more than the NDP on this issue. To qualify for this Canada child benefit top-up, the child's dental care must not be fully covered through private or public insurance. However, since 1974, Quebec has had an extremely progressive policy for children under 10. It covers most of the services that families need. This program could be enhanced, which would be possible if Ottawa would provide health transfers. This program means that Quebeckers who go to the dentist for routine care do not have to pay a cent. They are not eligible for this federal money. What should Quebeckers do, ask for strawberry-flavoured fluoride or an extra filling? Should we ask for additional services and try to spend more at the dentist, just so we can get a benefit that could have been enhanced, by consensus in the House, at the touch of a button? This is all because of the little deal reached between the Liberals and the NDP. The Liberals do not want to talk to the Bloc Québécois, the Conservatives or the Greens in order to work the way a Parliament should work.
    Not surprisingly, when the Liberals unveiled Bill C‑31, they came off looking kind of foolish. The day they made the announcement, there just happened to be a press conference in Quebec where people in the field, people who had spent more than just a couple of weeks thinking and talking about the issue, people who are very familiar with the issue, asked the Government of Quebec to increase public coverage in Quebec and urge Ottawa to boost health transfers. These people were asked what they thought of the federal government's Bill C‑31, which will not actually cover any additional services and will get families tangled up in red tape, forcing them to take the kids on fun family outings to the Canada Revenue Agency instead of helping them with their homework.

  (1135)  

    Unions, seniors' advocacy groups and the poor responded quite eloquently to Bill C‑31. I want to read from a document that I have here. The response is so clear that I could not have said it better myself. They said that it is nonsense.
    That is what people in the know are saying. For years, they have been asking for services, for real coverage. They are asking to be able to go to the dentist under an existing program and have the services already covered.
    We have gotten to this point because the federal government broke its promise to negotiate health transfers with the provinces. Since the start of the pandemic, the Prime Minister has been telling us that there is a pandemic going on, that now is not the time, that it is too soon. The government said that once the pandemic was over, it would negotiate increased health transfers with the provinces, as Quebec and the provinces are calling for. Everyone agrees on increasing health transfers, except the federal government. When it comes to health transfers, the government has no money, but when it comes to things the NDP wants, there is always money available.
    The pandemic is over. The temporary EI measures are set to be lifted on Sunday. Some 60% of workers in Quebec and Canada who are receiving EI will be left high and dry, on the basis that the pandemic is over. It does seem to be over, since Bill C‑31 would implement measures to increase families' purchasing power, given that we are in the midst of a postpandemic surge in inflation, which we hope is temporary.
    Enough with this nonsense. People need real care. Children need real dental care. The provinces are the experts here, and that is how it should be. The government must keep its word.
    I want to conclude by saying that we will vote in favour of the bill because we support the principle. I think it needs some work in committee. With a few fillings, some fluoride, a good brushing, a rinse and a few amendments, this bill might just pass the smell test.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I am glad the member is going to be supporting the bill. It is a good piece of legislation. There are some provinces that actually advance dental care more than other provinces. The legislation we are talking about would assist thousands of children in all regions of the country, including in the province of Quebec, where I would see it more so as complementing the services Quebec currently offers.
    Why, in any fashion, would the Bloc prevent a federal initiative that would provide badly needed dental care to children of all regions of our country?

  (1140)  

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I am starting to have some experience here, so I know not to expect the member for Winnipeg North to actually listen to my speech. I said that the bill is full of cavities, but, speaking of care, there might be a way to make it better.
    I understand that the member comes from a province that does not have a progressive provincial dental insurance program like Quebec does. I understand that it is not part of his culture to know that Quebec already has this type of program. The government is not helping families by duplicating the program, by complicating it and by creating obstacles for families who want an increase in family benefits. Rather than giving them money, the government is telling them to go to the CRA to have their claims verified. How is that good news for families? I would like someone to explain that to me.
    Madam Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his speech.
    I am more hopeful and optimistic than he is because, last year, in Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, when I met up with people in parks or went door-knocking, people really seemed to care about dental coverage whenever we talked about it. Not everyone has supplementary insurance or coverage through some kind of public plan, so people really want this.
    After the Liberals voted twice against NDP proposals to make dental care available to the poor and the middle class, we used our leverage in the House to force the Liberals to do just that, for the benefit of families, workers and anyone who cannot afford dental care. By the end of the year, dental care will be covered for kids aged 12 and under, and by next year, it will be covered for teenagers and seniors. This is good news for poor and middle-class Quebeckers, and it is all thanks to the work being done by the NDP.
    Madam Speaker, the NDP member just demonstrated the problem.
    The member for Rosemont—La Petite‑Patrie is going to tell his constituents that they have dental insurance. However, when parents in Rosemont—La Petite‑Patrie go to the dentist with their nine-year-old child, they will realize that they still have the same insurance they had before, the one from Quebec, and they will have to ask for a slightly higher receipt and get services that are not covered in order to get the full amount.
    It seems that the member spends a lot of time in parks like Molson park. I hope he will take the opportunity to tell people that to get better benefits for children they will have to waste a lot of time with CRA and maybe even suffer through an audit if the dentist cancels their day. I wish him luck at the parks.
    Madam Speaker, allow me to begin this first speech of the fall session by taking the time to salute my constituents in Beauport—Limoilou, not only those who re-elected me just a year ago, but all my constituents since I share my days with them. What brings us together goes beyond partisanship and politics, and so I send them my regards.
    My speech today should be of interest to my constituents because it is about things that affect their daily lives, things they work hard for, in other words, rent, dental insurance, quality of life and so on.
    I will talk about two things: the dental benefit and the rent support program.
    This spring, when we were getting ready to vote on the budget implementation bill, some members in the House stated loud and clear that they were voting in favour of the bill in order to keep one of their promises, which was one of the reasons they reached an agreement with the Liberal Party, namely the implementation of dental insurance.
    However, the current bill does not actually establish dental insurance. A benefit and insurance are two completely different concepts. Insurance pays for all or part of the dental care a person receives in a year. A benefit is an amount of money given at some point during the year. Too bad if it does not cover all the costs, but it is nice if it does.
    In this case, we are talking about $650 a year for a family earning less than $70,000 in that year. I have four children. There have been times in my life when my spouse and I have made less than $70,000 a year. Quebec covers some dental care, but not basic care like annual scaling and cleaning, or sealing pits and fissures in adult teeth to prevent cavities. It was over $400 a year for basic care for my four children. Two of them required appointments every six months. I am fastidious about dental hygiene. There are years when we had to cut our budget to make sure our children saw a dentist. There are years when they did not see one at all because we could not afford it.
    In addition to not adequately covering people's needs, getting the benefit is going to be a pain, because parents have to claim it through CRA's My Account portal. As my colleague said, that means parents need access to a computer and the Internet, which not everyone has. When people have to cut spending, the Internet is often one of the things they let go of. Parents also have to trust a system that has either lost data or been hacked in recent years. Sounds great, right?
    Why not set up a simpler process, such as using health cards? True, health cards are within the purview of Quebec and the Canadian provinces, not the federal government.
    Need I remind the House that dental care is health care and is therefore under the jurisdiction of the governments of Quebec and the Canadian provinces? Quebec has dental insurance, as I said earlier. It used to be much more comprehensive, but is only partial now. When federal health transfers were pared down in the 1990s, Quebec and the Canadian provinces had to make tough choices. One of those choices was to reduce the age of eligibility for free dental care from 18 to 10. My father did not have to pay for my dental care because it was covered.
    The federal government is once again infringing on an area of Quebec or provincial jurisdiction rather than fulfilling its constitutional duty with regard to health transfers. It is rather ridiculous that the separatist party in the House is the one reminding the federal government of its constitutional duties. The government wants to look like the great saviour when it is actually the one that has been causing these problems since the 1990s. Basically, the government is pulling a Perry, the firefighter who set fire to the Montreal Parliament building in 1849. He knew how to set fires and put them out.

  (1145)  

    By cutting health transfers, the federal government knew full well that the burden would fall on the shoulders of Quebec and the provinces rather than on its own. It knew that Quebec and the provinces would be forced to cut public services and programs. It knew that those cuts would tarnish the reputation of Quebec and the provinces. It knew that, as a result, over time, any separatist movement in Quebec or the other provinces would be undermined. However, the bad news is that the opposite is happening. What is good news for Quebec and the provinces may not be good news for the federal government.
    The federal government is the main reason for the cuts in Quebec and the provinces, the same federal government that, today, is setting itself up as the great saviour of services and keeps repeating that it is not an ATM. I would like to remind the federal government that the money in that so-called ATM belongs to citizens. That money did not grow on trees. The federal government needs to abide by the constitutional agreements and increase transfers to the amount called for by Quebec and the provinces. That is a good deal, because they are only calling for 35% when, under the agreements, the federal government should be paying them 50%.
    Some are sure to argue that the current bill introduces an interim measure for two years while a real insurance program is being created. What will happen in two years? There will probably be an election. The interim measure might end up being in place longer than expected, to the point of being seen as permanent. It is kind of the same thing with employment insurance, which has its share of problems. We are told the situation is temporary and that improvements will be made. That was supposed to happen this summer. The reform will be put off indefinitely even though the government says it is urgent. We have heard that before.
    In the parliamentary process, suggestions can be made in the form of amendments introduced in committee. The first suggestion would definitely be to respect constitutional agreements regarding health transfers. The second may be to give Quebec and those provinces that may choose to do so the option of opting out with compensation. Doing so would be in line with the Constitution in that it would keep the federal government out of jurisdictions that are not its own.
    I now want to briefly talk about my daughter's experience as a renter. My darling Zoé managed to find a place to live 20 minutes from her work and 40 minutes from her school by bus. The apartment is two rooms, in a dark, unheated semi-basement. The cheapest she could find was $900. The $500 a year would represent around 0.46% of her housing costs. That does not include food. She is fortunate that mom and dad can help her, but that is not the case for everyone. The figure of 0.46% in no way commensurate with inflation, which is hovering around 7% and is even higher for rents. It makes no sense to me when someone claims that taking 10% off of $2,500 makes a housing unit affordable. That is more expensive than a mortgage and it makes no sense.
    Sending this cheque is not unlike patching a crumbling wall with a glue stick. The wall needs to be fixed. In other words, we need programs that are sustainable and predictable. It is ridiculous that an organization would go through the hassle of creating an entire housing program only to be told, “sorry, but the deadline has passed”. The organization wasted $35,000 to $50,000 on expertise and wages that turned out to be completely useless.
    Starting in 2016, 100,000 units per year were supposed to be built in order to meet the growing demographic need. 2016 was six years ago, so we are talking about 600,000 units. Things are not getting any better. I would hope that no one here has had to cut up towels to make diapers, like I did. I hope that no one here has had to stock their cupboard with beans, instant rice, peanut butter and bread to feed their family, like I did. I hope no one has had to roll their pennies to buy milk. That is where unaffordable rent gets us.

  (1150)  

    I still have laundry—
    Order. I apologize to the hon. member, but her time is up. I am certain she will be able to elaborate on that during questions and comments.
    The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I disagree with much of what the member has said. For the Prime Minister, the government and the constituents I represent, the Canada Health Act and the health and general well-being of Canadians from coast to coast to coast are things we are greatly concerned about. That is why we have invested historic amounts of money. Never before has a federal government given as much money toward health care as this government has. That is why we have invested in things such as mental health and long-term care.
     Today's bill is all about providing dental care and making it affordable for children under the age of 12. Is this member, and the member who spoke before her, trying to say that it does not complement the system in the province of Quebec? Not all provinces are equal. Is she saying that not one of her constituents would benefit by this program? If she is, she is wrong.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, my colleague's propensity for putting words in my mouth is incredible.
    I did not say that no one would benefit from this. I said that these services fall under the jurisdiction of Quebec and the Canadian provinces. If a Canadian province, such as his, wants to have access to dental insurance, real dental insurance, not a temporary cheque, then so be it. However, the other provinces, the ones that want to manage this jurisdiction of service delivery on their own, should have the right to opt out with compensation.

  (1155)  

    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for her speech. I was touched when she talked about how people are going through tough times, how they are struggling and living off of rice and peanut butter. As the cost of living goes up, we are seeing more and more of that in our communities.
    I am quite proud of what we have been able to accomplish by forcing the Liberals to bring in measures that will really help people. Yes, the money for dental care this year is a temporary measure. It is not real insurance yet. We are working on adding teens, seniors and people with disabilities next year. Other measures, such as doubling the GST/HST credit, will help people in need who are having trouble paying for groceries these days. We also talked the government into a $500 Canada housing benefit top-up for people who are finding it hard to pay the rent. That extra $500 will help 580,000 Quebeckers.
    For all these reasons, I think today's bill is good news for the people of Quebec.
    Madam Speaker, yes, this is certainly good news, but it is temporary.
    Perhaps some will say that I live in a fantasy world, but, in my mind, the government's goal and our objective in this Parliament should be to protect the dignity of the most vulnerable in our society, and not just to win the next election, but really for the long term. This program is nothing more than paltry cheques that amount to temporary band-aids on the gaping wounds that are the insufficient health transfers and the deeply flawed building programs that have been in place since 2016, at least.
    There is currently a shortage of 600,000 homes. If we had had an adequate supply of housing, prices would not have skyrocketed the way they did.
    Madam Speaker, I would like to commend both of my colleagues who spoke before me for their speeches.
    I do not know if the Liberals found it painful to have to create this program, perhaps like having a tooth extracted. This is not dental insurance. The Liberals are sending a cheque for dental care in order to save face with Quebec and Canadian families. This is not a dental care program.
    Would my colleague not agree that this is counterproductive?
    Madam Speaker, I completely agree. A cheque is not insurance.
    What we need to do is work on bringing in real insurance with the right to opt out with compensation for Quebec and the Canadian provinces that wish to administer that insurance themselves.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I want to talk about the context of the situation we are in right now and what is going on across our country. Over the past summer, I spent a lot of time travelling and hearing people's stories. Canadians are going through a tough time right now. They have already been through a difficult time with the pandemic and now, on top of those struggles, which people have gotten through and continue to feel, we have a cost-of-living and inflation crisis that is driving up the cost of everything.
    That means that people are struggling to pay for everything, to buy their groceries, to put food on the table and gas in their cars, but what I heard from people that really struck me was their feeling that, no matter how hard they work, no matter how much they are doing everything that, in their minds, they need to do and doing everything right, they are still falling behind. That is a very difficult thing to feel. It makes one feel very hopeless and frustrated, and understandably so. When people are doing everything right, they should be able to have the respect and dignity to put food on the table, pay their bills and take care of their families.

[Translation]

    Clearly people are struggling. When I talk to Canadians across the country, they tell me their story. They tell me that they work very hard, but even so, it is becoming harder and harder for them to make ends meet. They cannot afford to buy the same food they used to, and they cannot get what they need. That is the reality. They fear for the future, and they are frustrated. I understand that because that is the reality.

  (1200)  

[English]

    I also understand what that is like because I have lived it. I remember the difficult times my brother and I had. When I was going to university, I had a kid brother that I had to take care of, and I had to work a bunch of jobs to make sure that I was able to put food on the table, not only for myself, but also for my younger brother. The worry and fear of not being able to take care of a loved one really weighs on a person. It is a lot of pressure, and a lot of families are experiencing that right now.
    At the same time, while workers' wages are not keeping up with inflation, CEOs' salaries are skyrocketing. CEOs are not having any struggles. Their wages and salaries are going up while those of workers' are lagging behind. It is clear that is wrong and it should not be this way. In fact, it does not have to be this way.
    There is a war being waged right now on workers and working families across this country. We are witnessing a massive transfer of wealth from hard-working, honest Canadians to the pockets of billionaires, and behind every billionaire is a Liberal or Conservative government that allowed the exploitation and disrespect of workers, the brutality of corporate greed and tax loopholes that stole wealth from Canadians. Billions of dollars of taxpayer money in corporate welfare went directly to CEOs and wealthy corporations.
    Behind every working family in this country are New Democrats fighting for and demanding respect and dignity, forcing CEOs to pay what they owe and making sure that government has Canadians' backs, because it is hard-working Canadians, the workers and not the greedy CEOs, who make our country an incredible place. That is why, for the past number of months, we have been pushing hard on the government to respond the needs of people.
    Last spring, we said that we should double the GST tax credit to put more of Canadians' own money back into their pockets to deal with everything becoming more expensive. The Liberals said no. The Prime Minister and the Liberal government were too busy saying it was not their fault and that it is worse in other countries to act to find solutions to support people in this time. Had the government shown leadership when we demanded more money to be put back in Canadians' pockets, people would have had $500 in their pockets earlier to pay their bills over the summer.

[Translation]

    That is the problem with the Liberals. When people need help, they study, they consult, they find excuses not to take action. In the meantime, people are suffering. When it is wealthy CEOs making demands, the Liberals spring into action. That is the problem.

[English]

    We have seen this again and again. When wealthy CEOs come knocking, Liberals and Conservatives leap into action. These measures could have made a massive difference in people's lives if they had been passed earlier. People would have been able to have this respect and dignity over the summer. It could have helped families get ready for their kids going back to school.
    That is the issue with the Liberals. They are too busy pointing fingers elsewhere and saying it is not their fault and that it is worse in other countries. That might be true, but it does not help the family who is looking at its bills right now and asking what it will do to pay them.
    It is frustrating we need to force the government to act every time people need support. Then there are the Conservatives, who think everyone should just be on their own. They want to inflame the anger and frustration Canadians rightly feel, but they do not want to provide any solutions that would actually make people's lives better right now. A family that is struggling to pay its bills wants some respect and dignity now. A family that cannot afford for its kids to go to the dentist needs that support immediately. That is what we are doing.

  (1205)  

[Translation]

    The Conservatives' approach has always been to let people fend for themselves. If people are having a hard time paying for day care or medication or if they have lost their job and need help, the Conservatives tell them to figure it out. Canadians have seen the results of this approach. The ultrarich reap the benefits. Ordinary people suffer and are ignored.

[English]

    I want to be clear about what we are facing right now in this country. We are facing a cost-of-living increase and rising inflation that is being driven by corporate greed. We are experiencing “greedflation”. No one else wants to talk about that. No one else wants to point to the fact that, while workers' wages have not kept up, CEO salaries have skyrocketed and wealthy corporations have seen massive profits. They have taken this moment in time, this crisis, as an opportunity to jack up their prices beyond increased costs, which is why they are experiencing these massive profits, and people are hurting.
    Inflation is not the workers' fault, as many folks want to suggest. It is the result of CEOs seizing on this difficult moment and increasing their profits, which is hurting Canadians.
    When we asked both the Liberals and the Conservatives about doing something to take on this corporate greed, both said no time and time again. They said no to making CEOs pay what they owe. They said no to making sure the wealthiest corporations are paying what they owe. They are fine with rich CEOs doing what they want while workers continue to struggle to make ends meet.
    New Democrats believe it should not be the workers who need to pay the price. It should not be on the shoulders of workers that we tackle the rising cost of living. It should be wealthy CEOs, those at the very top, who contribute what they owe so we can tackle what we are going through right now.
    On what we are experiencing and seeing right now in the House, the solutions being proposed and presented, I want Canadians to know very clearly that we have been fighting for them from the beginning. We have been fighting for them since we have seen the cost of living rise. Because we have fought for them, 12 million Canadians are going to receive up to $467 back in their pockets. Because we kept on fighting for them, Canadians are going to be able to have their kids' teeth looked after. Because we kept fighting for them, those who are having a hard time paying their rents are going to get respect. Because we fought for them, these things were possible.

[Translation]

    Thanks to New Democrats, who kept on fighting and did not give up, workers will have money in their pockets. Had we given up, 12 million Canadians would not be receiving up to $467 to help them make ends meet. Had we given up, two million Canadians would not be receiving an additional $500 to help pay the rent. Had we not fought, parents of children under 12 years of age would not be receiving $1,300 over the next two years to pay for their children's dental care.

  (1210)  

[English]

     In the last election, my team and I committed to Canadians that we would fight to make sure we made their lives better. We listened to what Canadians told us was important. So many people across this country said, “We are hurting and we cannot take care of our kid's teeth” or “We are struggling and we need respect and dignity”. We heard them. We listened to Canadians, and we are delivering. It is because Canadians raised these concerns that today we are debating, in the House, solutions to solve the problems they told us they are up against.
     We heard the heartbreaking stories of Canadians who had to choose between paying the dental care bills for their kids or putting food on the table. No one should have to make that type of decision.
    When we were campaigning, we reached out to Canadians to hear how our policies would help them and what they were going through that they needed support on. One of the stories I think a lot about was when I spoke with Adam, who has two kids, both under 12. He told me that both of his kids needed about $1,000 each of dental care. Although he is earning a decent salary, with all the bills that he has to pay, he is not sure that he can afford it. He will have to take out a loan to pay for his kids to get their teeth looked after. He told me that he had thought many times about waiting until their adult teeth came in, and I could hear in his voice the guilt and shame that maybe he was being a bad dad because he was considering putting off the care that his kids needed because he just could not afford it. I told him that it was not his fault, that he was doing everything right, and that we needed to do better to make sure he could get his kids looked after.
     I had the opportunity to talk to Adam after we were able to secure this massive victory for people, and I asked him, “What does this mean to you?” I cannot explain his voice, the lifting of guilt, the optimism, the hope. He said he was going to be able to look after his kids' teeth, that this was going to make a huge difference in their lives, and it was only possible because of this program.
    That is what this means to so many Canadians. There are so many people out there who are struggling with what they can do for their kids, but they do not know if they afford it and they are having to make impossible decisions. Parents should never be put in that position, and we are taking a step forward to make sure that parents do not have to make those decisions.
    With the interim benefit, for a family who has a child under 12, for one child, they will receive $650 per year. In a less than two-year span, about 18 months, they will receive up to $1,300 per child. In the case of Adam, for his two children, that will be $2,600. He will absolutely be able to take care of his kids' teeth. That is going to make a huge difference in Adam's life, in his children's lives and for hundreds of thousands of families across this country.

[Translation]

    Once it is up and running, this national dental care program will provide coverage for seven to nine million Canadians. Families will save at least $1,200 a year. This program will change lives and stop people from having to seek emergency treatment for problems that could have been prevented.

[English]

    Unfortunately, all of this could have been implemented years ago. Years ago, when we put forward our dental care plan in this very chamber, in this Parliament, both the Liberals and the Conservatives teamed up to vote against it. We could have had this program up and running already. Millions of Canadians could have accessed it. On two previous occasions, specifically in the House, we put this plan to a vote and both the Liberals and the Conservatives voted against it. Now we are proud to say that it is moving forward and we are going to make it happen.
    I also want to point out that the leader of the official opposition does not believe Canadians should get this dental coverage, despite the fact that he has no problem with having his own dental care coverage since his mid-twenties, which has been paid for by the public. He thinks it is wrong that families in Canada that do not have coverage should get dental care coverage. I would like to see how he explains that to the nearly nine million Canadians who are going to get this dental care benefit. Why does he think they do not deserve dental care when he has been benefiting from it, through taxpayer dollars, for nearly two decades?
    We believe fundamentally that, as a nation, we are stronger and better when we take care of one another, when we lift each other up. We are better when we look out for one another. Because of New Democrats, every Canadian in this country, when this plan is up and running, who needs care and does not have coverage will be able to look after their teeth. That is a massive step forward.
    I also want to talk about another major concern when it comes to the cost of living. We know, in addition to these major steps that we have taken, there is a lot more that Canadians need. Another major concern when we talk about the cost of living is housing. We know in this country, no matter where a person lives, people are feeling squeezed when it comes to finding something in their budget to either own or rent. People are often giving up the dream of owning because it is just so expensive. We want to make sure that Canadians have that respect and dignity. We want to make sure that Canadians have the ability to find a home that is in their budget. That is why we forced the government to change the definition around what is affordable. If a private developer receives public money, what they are building has to be a home, it has to be a project, that is truly affordable.
    I want to talk about some of the differences that we have made when it comes to that definition. A lot more needs to be done, but this is a big step forward in where we are putting our money. Previously, under the Liberal definition, a housing project only had to have 20% of the units affordable. In a city like Toronto, under their definition, $2,229 for a one-bedroom apartment was considered affordable. We have changed that definition. Now a building has to have at least 40% affordable. The new definition of an affordable one-bedroom apartment has to be $1,256, which is a massive reduction. That is a huge difference.
     We know this is going to help but it is not all. We need to invest massively in building more not-for-profit housing, in co-operative housing and in housing that is there for people when they need it, whether it is to rent or to own. We know we can do that if we make it a priority.

  (1215)  

[Translation]

    More than ever before, people want politicians to roll up their sleeves and work hard for them, not for rich CEOs. They know that CEOs' interests will be represented, and that is what has caused so much frustration. If we want to change the situation, we have to help them.

[English]

    We know that for so long decisions were made that benefited those at the top and benefited CEOs. Canadians are demanding that we make decisions that benefit them, their families and workers. That is what we are here to do.
    These three initiatives that are before the House are big steps forward, but we know a lot more is needed. We are going to continue to fight for Canadians to make sure they have the respect and dignity they deserve, to be able to own and afford a place they can call their own, to be able to find the means to support their family, to put food on the table and to pay their bills. We see them, we hear them and we are going to fight for them.
    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the comments the leader has made. In listening to the debate today, it is disappointing to see that the Conservatives, in contrast to the government and the NDP, seem to not want to support our children. This bill is focused, in terms of children under 12, in providing a benefit that will truly have a positive impact. Then there were the concerns expressed by the Bloc members that the people of Quebec would not necessarily benefit from the program.
    Does the leader of the New Democratic Party not agree that today it is time for us to have a national footprint on the issue of dental care and that this is a good starting point, dealing with kids under the age of 12?
    Mr. Speaker, absolutely, this is an important step forward to provide that care for kids under 12.
    However, I want to be clear that this could have happened a lot earlier if the Liberals and the Conservatives had not voted against it the previous two times we introduced this bill. We will move forward and continue to fight to make sure families get support and help so that Canadians across this country can take of their teeth and move forward in a healthy way. We can make that happen. We are confident that we can force the government to do that.
    Mr. Speaker, the leader of the NDP talks a lot about affordability, the pressures Canadians are facing, respect and dignity, and how his party is fighting for Canadians.
    Is this done by propping up the Liberal government, by voting with the Liberals to increase taxes, to increase bureaucracy, to increase red tape that makes life difficult for everyday Canadians? For example, the New Democrats have been supporting the failed carbon tax that does not work, but it does make food more expensive and home heating more expensive. It makes driving kids to and from sports more expensive.
    Why does the leader of the NDP brag that he and his party are fighting for Canadians when they keep voting for tax increases and increased bureaucratic red tape?

  (1220)  

    Mr. Speaker, what we have before the House are three concrete ways that, instead of just talking about it or inflaming anger, we are actually going to give people respect and dignity.
    We are going to give more money back into people's pockets. We are going to give people the respect to be able to pay their rent. We are going to make sure families are able to look after their teeth. Those are concrete steps to make people's lives better, rather than what the Conservatives have been doing, which is inflaming a lot of anger and building on that anger, but not really doing much beyond that to make people's lives better. We have concretely put forward proposals that would change Canadians' lives. We are proud of that. We know that there is a lot more that needs to be done.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, what I have been hearing from my colleague, the leader of the NDP, is nothing new. He is always promoting greater federal interference in provincial jurisdictions and, in particular, Quebec's jurisdictions.
    He made an impassioned plea for better dental care. I completely agree that we need better dental care. However, does the member not realize that Quebec already has a dental plan for families with children under 10?
    A new federal program like the one being proposed would do nothing for all of these Quebeckers. If the Government of Quebec wanted its fair share, it could decide to make cuts to ensure that Quebeckers have access to this new benefit. Is my colleague aware of the negative impacts this bill would have on some Quebeckers?
    That is what we would have to do if we wanted to be consistent and wanted to get our fair share. That is not what I want, however. I want better coverage. What we ultimately want is for the federal government to give proper compensation to Quebec.
    Mr. Speaker, Quebec always has the right to opt out with full compensation.
    I want to share a story. I was in a taxi in Quebec City. The driver told me that the most important thing for him was dental care. This senior citizen said that he really appreciated the fact that I was trying to implement that kind of program. He never mentioned infringing on jurisdictions. He said that he wanted a dental care program.
    Perhaps my hon. colleague should try talking to people. Ordinary people want programs that work. Ordinary people do not talk about jurisdictions or interference. They want us to help them and respect them. They want to be able to get dental care.
    That is exactly what we are going to give our seniors across the country over the coming year. They will be able to get dental care, and that will be done while respecting jurisdictions. However, I still want to point out that ordinary people do not talk about that. We respect Quebec's jurisdiction and will continue to do so.
    People want respect and programs that help them, and that is exactly what we will give them.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I want to share a story of a couple, with three kids, in my riding. She is a person with a disability. He is making under $50,000. When they heard about this announcement, he said that it could not come fast enough and she said that it would be life-changing. Last year, when the Liberals and Conservatives voted against dental care, they made this family struggle for another year.
    We have three approaches in the House: the Conservatives, who leave these families to fend for themselves; the Liberals, who have to be forced into doing the right thing; and, the New Democrats, who are going to keep fighting for people.
    Could the member please speak about the people with disabilities, the seniors and the families with kids under 18, for whom we will keep fighting?

  (1225)  

    Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague and dear friend raises a really important issue. People waiting for this care could have got it earlier. We want them to know that we are fighting for them, and by next year there will be a national federal program that will cover children 18 and under, seniors and people living with disabilities. This will provide so much help those people. As the hon. member for Victoria mentioned, it will be life-changing.
     I want the family she mentioned to know that we will be fighting for it. We are going to ensure it gets that respect and dignity. We will ensure that members of the family are able to take care of their teeth. We are going to make that happen.
    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the efforts of the leader of the NDP to get this support to Canadians across the country. That being said, a $500 cheque does not address the fundamental market conditions that are benefiting institutional investors, leading to increased rents for seniors on fixed incomes and young people being priced out of the housing market altogether.
    I know the member agrees that more needs to be done. I wonder if he could share what he thinks all parliamentarians could do to rise past the partisanship and work together to ensure that homes are places for people to live and not commodities for investors to trade.
    Mr. Speaker, the hon. colleague has raised a real concern with which Canadians are faced. The fact that first-time homebuyers are competing with corporations that have billions of dollars to purchase properties to make more profit is unfair. It is a fundamental problem we are up against. We need to get at that. That is why we have called for changes to the way we approach housing.
     Financialization and commodification are serious problems that need to be addressed. Housing should be about people being able to find a place to call their own, a place to live. That has not been the case for a long time now. There are specific changes we can make to the tax laws that will disincentivize property flipping or corporations from purchasing properties and to ensure that home ownership, being able to find a place to rent or own, is for families, people and workers. That is something we can do. We have to make it a priority.
    Before proceeding to the next speaker, we have a point of order from the hon. member for Oshawa.
    Mr. Speaker, I want to bring to your attention that this morning, at around 10 a.m., when the House of Commons began sitting, I was waiting to be accepted into the Zoom meeting. As it is Thursday, Routine Proceedings is the first item on the agenda, which is a very important part of any sitting day. While I was waiting to be accepted into the meeting, the session began.
    I am not a big fan of a hybrid Parliament, but if it is to be used, then it must be used in a fair way. I am asking you, Mr. Speaker, to please ensure that those of us trying to log onto the online meeting are accepted and online before starting the session. Those of us who logged online early, before the session started, have the right to participate fully.
    I am sure this was just an anomaly for today, as it has worked fine in the past, but I felt you should be made aware of it, Mr. Speaker.
    I thank the hon. member. The Internet being the way it is, once again, the camera actually did not key to show in the House of Commons. We will go back and look at the log-in sequence to ensure that everything was working correctly for today.
    Resuming debate, the hon. member for Davenport.
    Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the most hon. member for Halifax West.
    As always, it is a true honour for me to rise in this venerable House to speak on behalf of the residents of my riding of Davenport.
     I will be speaking to Bill C-31, an act respecting cost of living relief measures related to dental care and rental housing. More specific, I will be speaking about how the federal government is working to immediately make accessing dental care for children across Canada more affordable through the Canada dental benefit. This is important to families in my riding of Davenport, particularly those families that do not have access to dental insurance and whose household incomes are below $90,000.
    Indeed, Canadians are feeling the rising cost of living, particularly through higher food prices and rent. While inflation is a global challenge caused by the pandemic and Russia's illegal and unjustifiable invasion of Ukraine, it is important for our government to help families weather the impact of higher costs by putting more money back in the pockets of the middle class and those who are working hard to join it.
    The introduction of Bill C-31 by our Ministers of Health and Housing is a critical step in improving oral health for children and delivering on our commitment to financially help Canadians deal with the rising cost of living. By helping families afford the dental care their children need, this new benefit would support families that need it the most, when they need it the most.
    Helping Canadian families weather the impacts of inflation by working to put more money back in their pockets this year is a priority for our government. This investment in dental care for children without dental insurance would build on the strategic investments our government is making to support Canadians, by making life more affordable and building an economy that works for all, while at the same time helping our youngest members of society get off to the right start and have healthier oral health while suffering less pain.
    Since 2015, our federal government has cut taxes for the middle class and raised them on the wealthiest 1%. We have delivered a Canada child benefit and raised it every year, to continue putting more money back in the pockets of nine out of 10 families with children, and we will have cut regulated child care fees in half on average by the end of this year for families across the country. These are just a few examples of how we are delivering support for lower and middle-income Canadians.
    The federal government has also taken steps to support our universal health care system through a one-time top up to the Canada health transfer of $2 billion to the provinces and territories to help reduce backlogs for surgeries, building on the $45.2 billion provinces and territories will receive this year.
    Our federal government has taken important steps to make a real difference for families across the country, and I am incredibly proud of the significant long-term sustained investments the government is making to help deliver a more affordable and better quality of life for families across Canada.
     That being said, we know that dental care is an integral facet of the overall health of Canadians and that poor oral health can have costly personal and financial repercussions.
    It is estimated that the negative impacts of poor oral health account for productivity losses of over $1 billion per year, as well as approximately two million missed school days annually. This outcome increases public spending in cost-intensive health care areas, such as cardiac and emergency care. By making dental care more affordable for middle-class families, we believe the Canada dental benefit would help greatly reduce these costly and serious negative impacts.
    We also know that cost is a significant barrier to accessing dental care for many Canadians. Among children, much of the burden of dental disease is concentrated in children from low-income families. That is why we have introduced this legislation to break the cycle of poor oral health for the youngest Canadians and to help ensure families can afford dental care for their children.

  (1230)  

    We estimate that over 500,000 Canadian children could benefit from this investment and that the cost of this targeted investment is estimated to be $938 million. It is absolutely a worthwhile investment and the legislation, if passed, will make it more affordable for parents to take their children to see a dental professional, so children across the country can receive the care they need.
    The Canada dental benefit for children without insurance under the age of 12 will help parents with income under $90,000 purchase needed dental care for their children. The Canada dental benefit would provide direct payments to eligible applicants, totalling up to $650 per year, per child for dental care services for applicants with a family income of under $70,000. It would be $390 for those with a family income of $70,000 to $79,999, and $260 for those with a family income of $80,000 to $89,999. Parents or guardians of eligible children who have dental needs would need to apply to access payments.
    Our federal government will be taking action to ensure that Canadians receive the benefit as quickly as possible. The legislation would give the Minister of Health authority to implement this application-based upfront benefit payment to eligible Canadians later this year.
    The targeted implementation date for the Canada dental benefit is December 1, pending parliamentary approval and royal assent for enabling legislation. The program would cover expenses retroactive to October 1, so long as the child remains eligible on December 1.
    Canadians will be able to apply for and receive the benefit upfront before accessing dental care. Eligible Canadians can apply via the Canada Revenue Agency's secure My Account portal or by calling the Canada Revenue Agency's client contact centre.
    Our federal government will ensure that applications will be processed quickly, automatically in many cases, with payments received within a week for individuals requesting direct deposit.
    We understand that dental care needs vary from one child to the next, which is why we are providing flexibility for the Canada dental benefit to be used for any dental care provided by a regulated oral health professional licensed to practise in the applicant's province or territory.
    This flexibility will position parents to have discussions with their oral health care provider to determine the most appropriate dental care treatment for their children.
    It is important to note that the Canada dental benefit will not reduce other federal income tested benefits, such as the Canada worker benefit, the Canada child benefit and the goods and services tax credit.
    Our federal government will ensure that Canadians receive the information they need to apply for and receive the Canada dental benefit. Through a joint collaboration between Health Canada and the Canada Revenue Agency, a public education campaign for the Canada dental benefit will be launched, with tailored messaging providing essential information on who qualifies and how to access this funding.
    Our federal government will engage with stakeholders, such as provincial and territorial dental associations, to promote the Canada dental benefit and provide essential information for qualifying families to be able to understand how the benefit will work for them, recognizing that the Canada dental benefit is the first stage of the government's plan for making dental care more affordable for Canadians.
    I am pleased to also see that our federal government is committed to providing dental care to Canadians and continues to take needed steps to build a comprehensive, national long-term dental care program.
    Just to remind everyone, federal budget 2022 proposes to provide funding of $5.3 billion over five years and $1.7 billion ongoing to deliver a dental care program for low-income Canadians and to help provide dental care for Canadians who are unable to access care because of the cost and/or because they do not have dental insurance.
    The legislation strikes the right balance between ensuring that the immediate needs of low and middle-class children are met, as well as setting the ground work for a comprehensive dental care program.
    I know that this benefit will help many families, not only in my riding of Davenport but families right across the country. I ask all members of the House to join us in supporting this much-needed legislation.

  (1235)  

     Mr. Speaker, just two days ago in a speech, the deputy governor of the Bank of Canada, Mr. Beaudry, said that in hindsight, governments and central banks should have withdrawn stimulus measures earlier to keep a lid on inflation. Why is the government ignoring his advice completely and adding $4.5 billion in additional stimulus spending, which will make inflation even higher? These benefits will be eaten up by additional inflation in no time flat.

  (1240)  

    Mr. Speaker, we are ensuring that we invest and make targeted investments in Canadians, and we are providing support to our most vulnerable Canadians and to those who need it the most.
    This is not a big spending plan. It is very targeted. Economists have already opined that it is not anticipated, in any way, to add to inflation.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I wonder if my hon. colleague realizes that the $500 given annually to low-income families to help them pay for housing works out to just $42 a month, the equivalent of less than a week's worth of milk for a family of four. The cost of milk for a week is now between $50 and $60. This is just a band-aid solution that fails to address much more significant needs, including the urgent need for well-built housing. There is a shortage of over 600,000 units.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, housing is a huge worry not only for the residents of my riding of Davenport but for all Canadians. That is why our government, since we were elected, has announced a national housing strategy, to which we have allocated $72 billion.
    As part of that housing strategy, we have also introduced the Canada housing benefit to help the most vulnerable Canadians at the lowest end of the income scale afford their rent. There is a one-time top-up as part of Bill C-30 and Bill C-31, which are all about providing targeted investments to Canadians who need it the most. We are providing an additional $500 on top of all the other benefits we are providing to Canadians at this particular time.
    Mr. Speaker, my colleague talked about an economy that works for everyone. Well, the PBO put out a report recently and cited that the top 1% of families in this country hold 25% of the wealth while the bottom 40% hold 1.1% of the wealth.
    Meanwhile, we are seeing grocery store chains, banks and oil and gas and telecom companies make record profits, while groceries, bank fees, gas and wireless fees go up. Greedflation has taken hold. We live in a country that has the lowest corporate tax rate in the G7. Meanwhile, children cannot get their teeth fixed and we have seniors who need help.
    When are the Liberals going to address the greedflation? We know that the Conservatives, who are the gatekeepers for those big corporations, are not going to address it. Is the Liberal government going to do something about it? I ask because we are waiting and those people desperately need help. We are glad to see the Liberals finally vote in support of our measure on dental care, but what took them so long?
    Mr. Speaker, I agree. We should ensure that every Canadian pays their fair share of taxes.
    We have already announced that we are permanently raising the corporate income tax rate by 1.5% on Canada's largest, most profitable banks and insurance companies, and we have introduced a recovery dividend of 15% on the excess profits of these institutions during the COVID pandemic. We have also implemented, effective September 1, a 10% luxury tax on private jets and luxury cars worth more than $100,000, and boats and yachts worth more than $250,000.
    On the point of providing supports to Canadians, we have been doing so since we were elected in late 2015. We increased taxes on the top 1%. We reduced them on the middle class. We have increased the Canada workers benefit three times. We introduced the Canada child benefit. We introduced national child care.
    We have been there for Canadians. We will continue to be there for Canadians moving forward.
    Mr. Speaker, it is always a privilege to rise here in the chamber on behalf of the good people of Halifax West, and especially today as we debate Bill C-31, an important and timely piece of legislation that would put money back into the pockets of some of the families that need it the most.

[Translation]

    I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-31 and talk about what the federal government is doing to make life more affordable for families across the country as quickly as possible.

  (1245)  

[English]

    Over the summer, I heard from many about the local challenges that global inflation has brought to my community. It just takes looking at the price of groceries at the supermarket to know why affordability is so top of mind for my constituents and for all Canadians.
     Let us be clear from the get-go: Inflation is a problem for Canadians, but it is not a Canada problem. Countries around the world are living through the same difficult moment of high inflation, fuelled largely by Russia's barbaric war of choice, the still-present COVID-19 pandemic and supply chain disruptions. This is a fact, but it is not an excuse not to act to make things easier for Canadians. That is what we are doing with Bill C-31, taking steps that are practical, prudent and targeted, because we know inflation is hitting hard and we understand that not every household is feeling the pinch in the same way.
     Let us acknowledge a simple truth: Lower-income households have to spend a higher proportion of their household income feeding the family. When prices at the grocery store increase, as we have seen, the relative hit to their family budget is going to be greater than for others. It is the reason we are introducing measures that are very intentionally designed to support those feeling the sting of inflation the most.
    Bill C-31 would enact two important measures to address the cost of living: the Canada dental benefit and a one-time top-up to the Canadian housing benefit. Let me speak first about the Canada housing benefit.
    The top-up we are proposing would deliver a $500 payment to 1.8 million renters who are struggling with the cost of housing. This more than doubles the government's budget 2022 commitment, reaching twice as many Canadians as initially promised. It would be available to applicants with an adjusted net income below $35,000 for families, or below $20,000 for individuals, who pay at least 30% of their adjusted net income on rent.
     In these thresholds, we see proof that our government's focus is squarely on helping those facing the greatest hardship from the current moment. I think of the seniors on fixed incomes, the low-income students trying to keep on top of everything and the single parents. This top-up would put $500 in their pockets to keep food on the table and pay the rent and utilities. It is support that renters and families in my riding need now. I certainly hope we can move quickly with Bill C-31 so we can get the CRA application portal launched and relief into the hands of the people of Halifax West.
    The bill before us would also provide for the Canada dental benefit, the first step in our work to establish a comprehensive national dental care program for families making less than $90,000 a year. The benefit would be provided to children under 12 who do not have access to dental insurance, starting this year. Direct payments totalling up to $1,300 per child under 12 over the next two years, which is $650 per annum, would be provided for dental care services. That is significant new money for families and it is also an acknowledgement that dental health, like mental health and prescriptions, cannot be separated from health care as if it is somehow different.
    Let us remember how much this is needed. A third of Canadians currently do not have dental insurance. In 2018, more than one in five Canadians reported avoiding dental care because of the cost.
    In inflationary times, it is not hard to imagine that even more uninsured Canadians may be putting off necessary and routine care to help with their family's bottom line. Half a million Canadian children stand to benefit from the Canada dental benefit, and it will not reduce other federal income-tested benefits that families rely on. This measure too is targeted to ensure we are investing our dollars in supporting those most in need.
    That is why it is easy for me to support this bill. It is prudent, directed and builds upon the other parts of our affordability plan, namely the enhanced Canada workers benefit, reductions in child care fees, increases in old age security, the Canada child benefit, the doubling of the Canada student grant and many other supports. These are concrete and practical steps that leave more money in Canadians' pockets and protect their purchasing power.
    There will certainly be more for us to do to make life more affordable, but the bill in front of us is a significant and timely step forward in that work.

  (1250)  

[Translation]

    I encourage my colleagues in the House of Commons to vote in favour of this bill.

[English]

    I hope we can all support it and continue to look for solutions to the affordability challenges our constituents face.
    Mr. Speaker, my colleague across the way mentioned there is a lot more the government can do to increase affordability for Canadians. One thing I would suggest is abolishing the carbon tax, because it is a tax on the most basic of necessities, like food, home heating and fuel in vehicles to get from point A to point B.
    There is one thing, though, that I want to mention. I received lots of calls in my office throughout the summer regarding passport delays. I definitely like decreased red tape and programs that are very effectively run.
    Does the member believe that her government will be able to successfully and efficiently run a dental care program with little wait time, little red tape and quick service delivery?
    Mr. Speaker, red tape reduction is something I strongly believe in. Certainly, when I was a cabinet minister in my own province of Nova Scotia, we worked extremely hard on red tape reduction. In fact, we won provincially on that.
    Right now, the implementation of the dental health plan we are talking about is targeted, and the government has been working extremely hard with the provinces and territories, but also with the CRA, in order to implement it effectively.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I need my colleague's opinion. My thoughts are along the same lines as my Conservative colleague who spoke earlier.
    As we know, the government has been dealing with numerous issues related to existing programs such as passports, employment insurance and so on. Considering that anyone could have predicted how complicated it would be to get this new benefit or cheque to mesh with the programs already in place in some provinces and in Quebec, would it not have been simpler to finally agree to the unanimous request that Quebec and the provinces have been making for years now?
    Would it not have been simpler to increase health transfers to the provinces so that they could apply the funding to a dental insurance program, if they so choose, or improve other health care services? Would it not have been simpler, in light of how complicated everything is right now, to do that rather than add another layer of complex management?
    Mr. Speaker, I somewhat agree with my colleague, but health care must be an immediate priority for all governments, provincial, territorial and federal. This will not stop the provinces and territories from investing in their own health care systems. The idea is to complement those provincial investments.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, my colleague spoke about the cost of living and the government's approach to that. It is great to see the Liberals finally supporting our long efforts on dental care. What she did not address is anything to tackle the massive profits being made by oil and gas corporations, grocery giants and these other companies that are benefiting from this crisis that Canadians are facing right now.
    The U.K. government, a Conservative government, saw this opportunity and put in place a 25% excess profit tax on the oil and gas companies in that country. That would go a long way toward providing the revenue to put back into Canadians' pockets and provide the kind of support Canadians need. Would she support that kind of initiative here in Canada?

  (1255)  

    Mr. Speaker, I am getting all kinds of questions about so many topics. It is wonderful to be able to debate them all, but right now this bill is targeted at two very important issues. Those are issues that are deliberate, targeted and really help the people who need it the most right now. I am very pleased to know my colleague across the way is in full support of those benefits.
    Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise and be able to contribute to the debate we are having today on affordability. It is very timely, because Canadians are experiencing the result of the practices that this Liberal government has undertaken, which have really fuelled the inflationary fires that are burning across Canada. What we are experiencing is a made-in-Canada inflationary crisis. The more this Prime Minister spends, the more things cost. It has been referred to as “justinflation”.
    The proposals that the government is bringing forward will not address this inflation and in fact are going to add to the inflationary pressures that Canadians are facing. Its inflationary deficits are driving up taxes and costs at the fastest rate in more than my lifetime. Year-over-year inflation is higher than it has been in 40 years.
    For two years, Conservatives have been warning the Liberal government about the consequences of its actions and how much it would hurt Canadians, and it is hurting Canadians right across our country.
    What we have heard from this government this week is not the announcement of a dental plan. We heard a plan that the Liberals have concocted that is going to satisfy part of the deal with their coalition partner in the NDP to keep them in power, to prop them up. It is another example of the Prime Minister's failure to meet his promises, all the while printing more cash and borrowing more money that is going to stoke inflation.
    I would like to note for everyone following the debate and for hon. members in the House that dental care programs for low-income children exist in all provinces and territories, save for Manitoba and the Northwest Territories, in addition to the 70% of Canadians who already have coverage.
    It is important that we look after the health care of Canadians, and they have been doing this thing in Canada for a long time, since before I was born, where health care was a provincial responsibility. It was solely the jurisdiction of provinces. If there is a plan to meet with the premiers to discuss health care and the Prime Minister wants to do that, the premiers will be delighted.
    An hon. member: Oh, oh!
    Mr. Michael Varrett: Mr. Speaker, I hear that the parliamentary secretary to the government House leader wants to contribute to the debate, and I hope that when he rises in questions and comments, he is prepared to tell the House and all Canadians that the Prime Minister is going to answer the call that the premiers have been making for two years to meet with them to discuss the state of health care in Canada.
     Now, if the Right Hon. Prime Minister found his way to that meeting, he would hear that they are not looking for a dental care program. That is not what the provinces are asking for right now. However, if the Prime Minister is considering another line of work and interested in running to be a provincial premier, I am sure he can explore those job openings and see what is available. I hear that the Liberals' sister party in Ontario is looking for someone, so perhaps the member for Papineau could find a spot in Ontario.
    However, this promise is only more inflationary spending. It is not a dental care program, and it is outside the jurisdiction of the federal government. The level of government that is responsible is not looking for the federal government to execute on it.
    The Liberals have also talked about housing, which is so interesting, because Canadians could be confused. However, I think it might be intentional, that the government is looking to confuse them, because the Liberals love to talk about how much they have spent on housing.

  (1300)  

    No government has ever spent more on housing than this Liberal one, they will tell people. If we measured success by how much the Liberals spent and not by how many houses were built, they would be the international galactic champions of housing. Unfortunately, what we have seen is the doubling of house prices under the Liberals.
    The result of that is that 30-year-olds are living in 400-square-foot apartments that they are paying $2,300 a month for, if they can find an apartment, and if not, they are living in mom or dad's basement and their dreams of home ownership are slipping away, if they have not been crushed already. In Vancouver, it is $2,600 a month for rent. In Toronto, it is $2,300 a month for rent.
    Six in 10 Canadians will not qualify for what we will call the inflationary spending cheques. The few renters who see that $500 one-time boost, which represents less than a week of rent in the average housing unit in Toronto or Vancouver, are simply going to ask, “What is next?”
    I am glad they are asking what is next. The Liberals have pumped more money into the economy, and they have created more inflation. That is what we have heard from big banks and from economists, that what they are doing is inflationary. It is going to diminish the value of the dollars that people earn, including those cheques that they just received, which will not go as far. Of course that does not speak to the fact that we are now going to have to pay interest on the money the Liberals borrowed to send those cheques that are going to diminish their spending power.
    It is a terrible situation that the Liberals are perpetuating. There are solutions, and I look forward to sharing those with members as we move through this conversation today. What is it that we need to solve?
    First, let us take a look at one of the major pain points that Canadians are feeling every month: food prices. Canadians are facing 10% food inflation right now. It is the fastest that it has gone up in over 40 years. What does that look like for the average Canadian family? It is between $1,200 and $2,000 more per year that they are spending on groceries. It is an extra $2,000 haircut that they are taking before they even spend a dollar.
    These are some of the items this is having a dramatic effect on: butter is up 16.9%; eggs, 10.9%; fish, 10.4%; breads, 17.6%; pasta, 32%; fresh fruit, 13%; oranges, 18.5%; coffee, 14.2%, and the list goes on and on. Let them eat soup, some might say, but that is up 19.2%.
    While Canadians are struggling just to put food on the table for their families, furnaces are clicking on across the country as we speak. As the mercury drops, people are going to look to heat up their homes. We live in one of the world's coldest climates. Heating is not a luxury here, just like for many folks in rural and remote communities, driving their car or truck is not a luxury. It is part of how they have to live, to get to work or to doctor's appointments, or to get groceries.
    The carbon tax is punishing Canadians for behaviour that the government says is bad, should be discouraged and needs to be corrected. The Liberals are going to tell us, in their questions and comments, that members are forgetting about the money they send back.

  (1305)  

    The Parliamentary Budget Officer has already said that the claims the government makes that Canadians get more back than they pay in do not work. This is some kind of weird Ponzi scheme the government has cooked up, and it is just that, a scheme. Canadians are not getting more back than they pay in. They are worse off, and emissions continue to go up. Tree planting from the government has stayed the same. That is that it has not planted any, but it has promised to.
    Canadians would expect that, when Canadians are feeling that pain of the carbon tax going up and the price of food going up, they could ask what else the government could do. It is going to increase taxes on paycheques in January of this coming year. There is no break in sight for Canadians, and the government members will say that it is not a tax.
    Let us get real here. If it looks like a tax, sounds like a tax, and Canadians take home less money at the end of the month, then it is a tax. That is exactly what the Liberals are proposing for January 1.
    An hon. member: Oh, oh!
    Mr. Michael Barrett: Mr. Speaker, I hear some excitement coming from those joining us from home. Canadians are rising up. We can hear in the House of Commons that they have had enough. They are at a breaking point with these prices. All the while, the job creators and the makers in our communities, not the takers but the makers, are the small businesses. We hear all the time that they are the backbone of our economy. I could not agree more. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business reports that one in six businesses are considering closing their doors and 62% of small businesses are still carrying debt from the pandemic.
    We have this risky situation that the government has created and is perpetrating on Canadians where everything is more expensive. It is more expensive to do business, more expensive to feed one's family and more expensive to get to work. These hard times that have come do not need to be this way. However, following an election that was called in a very cynical move by the Prime Minister to exploit the divisions that had been created, there was a Parliament where a coalition needed to be cooked up so the government could stay in power. Therefore, Canadians are not seeing that real relief.
    What does that look like? Seniors are having to delay their retirements. The home ownership we talked about is disappearing because people do not have any time to dream about home ownership. They are too busy trying to come up with the money to pay their $2,600-a-month rent. People are worried.
    Conservatives are offering hope for Canadians, which is a big contrast to what they have seen from the government, particularly over the last year. We are going to focus on Canadians' paycheques and make sure they are able to take home that money they worked so hard to earn. We are going to focus on making sure taxes are not going up. It is not very difficult because we know that anyone who does not run a deficit in their home every month has to make choices about what they are able to put in their monthly budget. If we add something, we have to take something away. If the government is going to propose new spending, what is it going to stop doing so that it can afford it and so that Canadians can afford it?
    I have heard a very interesting line from the government during the last two years. It is that it has taken on debt so that Canadians do not have to.

  (1310)  

    I do have some news: That debt is borne by Canadians. They will say interest rates have never been lower, but that is not the case. We now see interest rates that are marching on. It is not free money. Canadians are going to have to pick up the tab for it. We need the government to make sure Canadians can see a light at the end of the tunnel that promises some hope.
    We are going to have to scrap the old way the government has been doing things. We are going to have to look at what it is that Canadians really need. They need to heat their homes, feed their families and dream they are going to be able to do better than the generation before them, but that is not what has been put on offer by the government.
    Lower taxes are something I hope we can all agree on, as well as making sure that everyone can afford a home, not just spending a lot and calling that a housing plan. I would hope that is something we can all agree on.
    We need to address the root cause of what is driving this inflation in Canada so that people are not experiencing this crushing inflation on the cost of their food. Let us say that next year global inflation starts to recede and is at 5%. They are still paying 5% more on the 10% that it went up the year before. It is time to stop the damage that is being done.
    We hear often that it is a global phenomenon that they had no control over, but it is cold comfort to people across the country when the Liberals throw their hands up and say, “Well, it's pretty bad everywhere else. We're kind of better than the other guys.” Whether one lives in Victoria-by-the-Sea on Prince Edward Island, Victoria in British Columbia or on Victoria Island in Nunavut, that word salad will not fill bellies. It is getting a lot tougher to do that as food prices continue to march up. They need to see action, not excuses from the government. What is that action going to be? I really hope the plan is not just higher taxes. I really hope the plan is not to borrow more money to dump into a housing plan that is not building more homes. They are driving up the prices.
    We are going to focus on Canadians. We are going to focus on their paycheques. We are going to focus on their dreams of home ownership. We are going to focus on their retirement because that is the dream that we all have. That is the dream that people have when they come to this country. We want to keep that dream alive. What the government is proposing today is not help. It is a distraction. It is just more for the government.
    An hon member: Oh, oh!
    Mr. Michael Barrett: Mr. Speaker, I hear a voice. It sounds like a member who is as upset with the government as I am is trying to join in. It seems they could not even afford the gas to come to the House of Commons today.

  (1315)  

    Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, the member is very experienced. He talks a lot in the House. He should know that we are not to refer to the presence or absence of anybody in the House. Suggesting a member cannot afford to get here in person certainly would, at the very least, indicate that the individual is not here.
    Thank you very much.
     I will say that those of us who have to join in on Zoom should make sure to leave their microphones off unless they are intervening in the discussion at hand.
    The hon. member for Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes.
    Mr. Speaker, it does not seem, even with new made-up parliamentary secretary roles, that they have enough people over there to be able to get everybody together and get them briefed that it is safe for them to come back to work. They can do that.
    We will help the member out so he can afford gas. We are going to help Canadians afford more by ending the carbon tax and the paycheque tax. We want to help Canadians, and to give them hope and not fear, which is what the government has been peddling.
    Mr. Speaker, those were interesting comments, but not so much on the dental benefit, the legislation we are talking about. The member seemed to get carried away in some other areas.
    Having said that, maybe I will try to get some clarification for Canadians on the issue of our children. We have a substantial piece of legislation that is going to provide dental care for thousands of children under the age of 12. To be very clear, the Conservative Party of Canada opposes this legislation. It does not support the federal government having a role in providing dental care for children under 12.
    Is this the same sort of contrast we see when the Conservative Party also says it does not support child care? Does the current Conservative Party still believe that it is going to trash the national Canada child care program?
    Mr. Speaker, I am sorry that we had to wake up the parliamentary secretary to join the debate. He seems to have missed a couple of things.
    Conservatives created child care in Canada. He may have heard of the universal child care benefit, which we started. Members will remember that Liberals at the time said that, if we were to give Canadians money, they would blow it on beer and popcorn. We do not believe that. We think that parents should be able to make choices about how they can best care for their children, so we are happy to be able to do that.
    We are also very sure, as Conservatives, and again I could perhaps offer to table some information about how things work in Canada for the parliamentary secretary, that health care is a provincial responsibility. The parliamentary secretary can do what he wants to do, or not do, with health care, as the government has been ignoring it. The Prime Minister continues to ignore what the premiers are asking for, and we will certainly not do that. We will respect provincial jurisdiction and work with the premiers to make sure that we take care of the health of all children in this country. We are extremely dedicated to that.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, before I ask a question, I would like to say that my thoughts are with your constituents and everyone in places like Nova Scotia, the Maritimes, the Magdalen Islands, the Lower North Shore and Newfoundland, who are bracing for hurricane Fiona. I want to express my support as the storm looms, and I hope everyone in your area stays safe.
    Earlier, I was listening to my colleague from Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes, and he sounded a lot like a Bloc member speaking English. Much of what he said was exactly what the Bloc has been fighting for for ages: provincial jurisdiction over health care. I found that very interesting. Earlier, my colleague from Lac‑Saint‑Jean asked the Leader of the Opposition a question after his lengthy speech. He asked him whether he supported the provincial and Quebec premiers' unanimous demand for an unconditional increase in health transfers to 35%. We could not get an answer out of the Leader of the Opposition.
    This despite the fact that my colleague's speech seemed to indicate his strong support for respecting provincial jurisdiction. Was my colleague suggesting that the new Conservative Party intends to increase federal health transfers in response to the demands of Quebec and the provinces?

  (1320)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, it is really important because it underscores a problem we have in the federation when the Prime Minister refuses to meet with the first ministers to even discuss health care. Members may think it is brave of me to speak for the leader of His Majesty's official opposition, but I can tell them that he is going to meet with the premiers on health care. We would make sure that provincial jurisdiction were respected because it has been ignored under the Liberals.
    Liberals are so confused, in fact, that they are still talking about Stephen Harper. What are Conservatives talking about? We are talking about the future for Canadians, their retirement, their paycheques and hope, and that is what we are going to keep doing. Liberals are stuck in the past.
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Order, please.
    I am going to stand for a second and just remind everyone of the task at hand, which is debating the bill before us.
    Questions and comments, the hon. member for Courtenay—Alberni.
    Mr. Speaker, not once did my colleague talk about the greedflation that has taken hold in this country. We know in Canada we have the lowest corporate tax rate in the G7. How is that playing out? We have homeless people and people who cannot get dental care. We see big corporations like grocery stores, the big banks, big oil and big telecom all having record profits. Meanwhile, grocery store prices are going up, as are bank fees, fuel prices and telecom fees.
    The member said that these are hard times and that it does not need to be this way. I agree. The Conservatives in Britain had the courage to charge their big oil companies a 25% excess tax on oil and gas profits. Where is the courage for these Conservatives? Where is the consciousness, because it is unconscionable that people cannot get dental care yet we have greedflation. The gatekeepers are truly the Conservatives standing up for these big corporations. It is 1% of the families in this country who hold 25% of the wealth. Meanwhile, 40% of families only hold 1.1% of the wealth. This is unacceptable, and it does not need to be this way.
    When will the member deal with the greedflation that has taken a grip on this country?
    Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to take this question from the hon. member because he asked about courage. I am going to show that courage right now to him and to all Canadians. We are going to stand up against and we are going to call out the partners in crime who are pickpocketing Canadians, who are perpetrating greedflation, because as—
    There is a point of order from the hon. parliamentary secretary to the government House leader.
    Mr. Speaker, I am being heckled before I even make my point of order.
    The member just said “partners in crime”. Is he suggesting that the Liberal government and the Liberal bench is participating in criminal activity, and to that extent, is the NDP partnering on that crime? That is extremely offensive, and the member should remove that comment immediately.
    Mr. Speaker, we have had very interesting conversations in here today about people using turns of phrase. I find it interesting—

  (1325)  

    That is debate.
     It is on this point of order. I had not even finished my comment, so I am not sure if the member has a guilty conscience, but I did not accuse the Liberals of committing a crime.
    He referred to the NDP as “partners in crime”.
    Order. I have not recognized the member.
    Now, I will recognize the member, but I will also say let us keep the tone down for a few moments while we look at this point of order.
    The hon. member for Kingston and the Islands has the floor.
    Mr. Speaker, the member for Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes referred to the NDP as “partners in crime”. In doing so, he is suggesting the Liberal bench, the government and the Liberal members of Parliament, are engaging in criminal activity. He is also extending that to suggest the NDP are partnering in that criminal activity.
    I suggested to you moments ago that you make the suggestion to the member to remove that comment. You asked him if he wanted to do that. Instead, he doubled down on it. I would suggest you ask him once again—
    I did not have the opportunity to say anything because I recognized the member on the same point of order.
    I will suggest to the member to maybe retract that and find another line of phrase. Trying to suggest we are in the pockets of others is probably not correct.
    The hon. member for Courtenay—Alberni is rising on the same point of order. I do not want this to go on forever.
    Mr. Speaker, on that point of order, what is truly criminal is that these big corporations are hoarding all the profits while people—
    We have really descended way too far into debate, and I apologize to the House for letting this happen.
    I will ask the member to stand and maybe retract the words. I know, they all said the same thing. Everybody is saying the same thing, so I am going to ask the member to maybe rephrase it and answer the question appropriately, because we are still in questions and comments.
    The hon. member for Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes has the floor.
    Mr. Speaker, the greedflation Canadians are experiencing is from the Liberal government harvesting money from Canadians, on the backs of hard-working Canadians, with higher taxes. Its coalition partners, its partners in collection, are punishing Canadians.
    If they want to give Canadians a break, if they really want to deal with greedflation, they could cut taxes. Canadians would keep more money in their pockets and the amount of wealth in this country would increase for people other than the government and its partners in collection.
    Mr. Speaker, it is my first opportunity to speak today on Bill C-31, so I want to put on the record that I support it and wish it would go further.
     I want to ask my hon. colleague from Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes this. He made the claim that health care is provincial. I wonder if he is familiar with the 1982 case, Schneider v. The Queen, in which the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that our Constitution does not say that health care is provincial. It does not speak to health care and it is one of those areas of mixed jurisdiction, federal and provincial. The criminal law power, which is federal, is the source and the derivation of many federal law and federal government decisions to protect our health.
    Lastly, the Canada Health Act is the federal statute that governs our universal single-payer health care system, which we must fight to the death to protect, because without it a lot of people will die.
    Mr. Speaker, there was a lot going on there. What I will say is this. The current government is not collaborating with the premiers. It is not collaborating with the provinces. It is not delivering on a dental care program. What it is doing is fuelling inflation, failing to own up to the mistakes it has made and failing to address the consequences of inflation that are crushing Canadians every single day and making food unaffordable.
    People having to choose between heating their homes and feeding their families is unacceptable. Canadians deserve better. It is time for the government to cut taxes, to cap its spending and, frankly, to deal in hope instead of the division and anger we saw from the member for Kingston and the Islands.

  (1330)  

    Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Humber River—Black Creek.
    I am honoured to be here today to speak to Bill C-31. This bill means a lot to the community that I represent, and I know that it means a lot to many members in this House.
    I grew up in a community where many people struggled to pay the bills. This is not a new phenomenon in my community, but something that occurs all the time. In my constituency, we see people who drive Uber and who check out groceries. I have had many conversations with people in my community, and I know from them that people are struggling.
    In my neighbourhood, there are people who struggle with vacancy decontrol and landlords who want them to leave so they can bring new people in and raise the rent. My constituents are also very concerned with home ownership. It is a very important issue to people in my community.
    However, make no mistake: The people of Don Valley East and the people in my neighbourhood where I grew up are hard-working people, and they believe in the Canadian value that we are so much better when we actually work together as Canadians, when we stick together. It is part of our value set as Canadians. They are also very thankful for the type of country we have where, if one works hard, hard work can pay off, where we have great quality schools and a strong health care system, and where one can speak freely about issues and live the way one wants to live.
    Speaking on Bill C-31, I was a bit offended by what I heard from the opposition. I want to remind people back home in Don Valley East and people in this House that we are talking about a dental plan for children under 12. We are talking about a $500 subsidy to help people pay the rent. That is what we are talking about, and with what we are hearing from the opposition about all of these different issues, I want to bring it down to this one point. What we will vote on with Bill C-31 is whether we, as members of this House, should come together to put in place a program to support children when it comes to dental care.
    Should we put in $500 to help people? I have heard a few people say that $500 dollars will not do a lot. I can tell members that in my community, $500 goes a long way when it comes to paying for groceries, bills and helping with household income. It is a huge amount.
    I have been here for a year, but I have watched this government over the last several years govern, and from the very beginning, back in 2015, addressing affordability and making life easier for Canadians has always been part of the mantra of the government. It is why my riding of Don Valley East has supported the government since 2015, because we are feeling the high prices of gas, the cost of living and the cost of groceries.
     In fact, recently I did a survey in my community, and I was pretty surprised. It is the first survey I did, and I sent it out to everyone in the community. We got about 5% people who sent the survey back or went online to fill it out, so we had about 1,800 actually fill it out. However, 44% of the respondents said that affordability was one of the top three issues that they faced as constituents, and over 70% said that they had experienced some form of affordability issues over the last year. To me, this is very telling of where we are as Canadians today.
    We have gone through so much with COVID over the last three years, with the global economy and now the war in Ukraine. Everything has shifted in this country, and things have become a lot more challenging for Canadians to purchase.
    I do the grocery shopping in my house for my family and also for one of my family members who cannot go to the grocery store. I do it every week for that particular family member and my family. I have noticed the price of flour, baked goods and other things go up, as we all have. However, the opposition will point fingers at this government and say, “You are responsible for the price of these baked goods that have gone up.” Despite popular belief from that side of the House, we are not baking cakes and bread or growing grain or wheat on this side of the House. We are putting in place measures to help people take on some of these challenges that have been impacted by global affairs.

  (1335)  

    We know that when COVID hit, there was a huge shock to our system and to the economy in this country. We lost three million jobs in Canada. There was a 17% decline in our economic output. Our GDP fell by 2.1%, and even the exchange in Toronto fell by 37%. These were huge numbers. The system was disrupted and we lost a trillion dollars from those markets.
    When we look at the war in Ukraine today, we know that prior to the war, 10% of all global wheat supply came from that region. We also know that 15% of corn came from that region, as did 15% of world barley production. Eighty per cent of sunflower oil came from that region too. When we see the cost of baked goods, the cost of wheat and the cost of products in grocery stores going up, there are many different factors in place.
    The question in the House really is, where do we go from here? What do we do? How do we respond to it?
    There are two approaches that are emerging in the House, one from the opposition and one from the government. As I said, the approach by the government has been here for the last seven years, and it is about looking for ways to create more opportunity and invest in people. The members opposite vote down bills like this that would directly support a child of 12 years old or under. To me, it is quite remarkable.
    I want to go back to Bill C-31 just for a minute because Canadians need to know that when members of the official opposition have an opportunity to vote on this bill, they will have the opportunity to support a bill that would allow young people under 12 to have basic dental care and that would put $500 more in the hands of Canadians who need it to pay bills and pay rent. The Conservatives are going to have a very clear option, and the vote that will eventually come to the House will really define the two approaches the opposition and the government have. They are two opposing approaches to how we look forward and build a stronger country to support all people in this great nation of ours.
    This bill would provide $500 to nearly two million low-income renters in this country and would provide $1,300 over two years to 500,000 children. This is a huge step in the right direction for this government and for those who support this bill.
    When this government came into power back in 2015, it took many steps to look for ways to create more opportunity for Canadians. It lowered taxes for the middle class. It increased the Canada child benefit. It helped seniors by increasing old age security. Remember, the previous government, at one of those critical decision points that define governments or define parties, raised the eligibility for old age security to age 67 rather than its current age of 65. Of course, the best example I could give is what has taken place over the last year with the introduction of $10-a-day child care.
     At the end of the day, we are investing in children and investing in families. We are looking for ways to strengthen opportunity for Canadians. We are looking for ways to better position Canada so it can continue to have a trajectory that provides a bright future for all Canadians. I am very proud, on behalf of the residents of Don Valley East, to stand in the House to fight for children and make the right decision to support kids who need help and families that need help during these difficult times.
    Mr. Speaker, respectfully to my hon. friend, there seems to be a bit of a confused sense of who is responsible for what. He says the federal government does not impact the price of gas or groceries and does not prepare cakes; it is not the one making and setting the price for this. This seems to ignore the fact that the federal government is responsible for fiscal policies and, indirectly, for monetary policy that clearly shapes the price of goods.
    Let us talk about a more direct case of responsibility, that is, the price of gas. The government has what the finance minister calls the carbon pricing scheme, or what we call the carbon tax scheme, perhaps. She has said, and it has been said by other members, that this exists to raise the price of gas. That is the whole logic behind those who defend this policy. They say that we need to raise the price of gas because, allegedly, that is going to be good for the environment. However, the government could make a simple choice and not raise taxes on gas.
    Will the member acknowledge that the price of gas, if nothing else, is actually something the government has a significant impact on and support our proposal to have no new taxes?

  (1340)  

    Mr. Speaker, the member spoke about our responsibility. We do have a responsibility in the House. The question that will be posed to members of this legislature, to members of the House, is whether to invest in young people.
    I throw the question back to the member. Will he be supporting children here in Canada and in his home province to make sure they have very simple dental care? Will he take on the responsibility that his constituents sent him here to the House for and represent their interests? Will he actually end up supporting a bill that supports kids who are 12 and under? It is a very simple question.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his speech. I wonder if he could clarify something for me.
    I am concerned because Quebec already has a program that covers a good portion of dental costs for children under 10. Quebec taxpayers are accustomed to their tax dollars being used for this. I cannot even guarantee that it will be used only for dental care. Someone can submit a receipt for $100 but get $650 back and do whatever they want with the other $550. This is not a dental insurance program; it is throwing money out the window. Besides that, I also want to know whether the government has thought about how it plans to compensate Quebec taxpayers, who pay for their own dental care and who will pay for that of other provinces.
    Why is the money not being transferred to the governments that have the jurisdiction to do this, that is, the 10 provinces?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the member knows that the House and the federation we have created as Canadians are sometimes complex. I am learning, after spending almost a year here, that it is a very complex House and there is a very complex relationship between the provinces and the federal government. However, I do know that the $10-a-day child care initiative, which I believe created 37,000 new spaces in Quebec, is a big win for Quebec and a big win for Canadians.
    We need to continue to look for ways to make investments and work out those details to ensure that they are in the best interests of Quebec and the best interests of the Province of Ontario and the rest of our partners across the country.
    Mr. Speaker, the member spoke eloquently about how dental care is going to make a huge difference for families. As he looks around at his Liberal colleagues, I note that most of them voted against dental care just a year ago.
    I am curious if he could put himself back to a year ago. Families were struggling. Families needed dental care. Would he have voted with his Liberal colleagues against dental care then?
    Mr. Speaker, the nice thing about the House is that we have the ability to work together. It does not matter what party we are from. It does not matter what part of the country we are from. We have the ability to work together. I am very proud of the relationship we have been able to build in the House so that like-minded people can come together to actually get something done.
    I think it is a huge accomplishment that we were able to introduce Bill C-31, which would actually, at the end of the day, make lives better for Canadians, especially for children under 12. I am very proud to support this bill.

  (1345)  

    Mr. Speaker, I am glad to be back, glad to see you back in the chair here in the House and glad that we are getting on with the work that is important for all our constituents and for our country.
    I want to speak to Bill C-31. Just in case viewers have lost track given previous speakers, what we are actually focusing on in Bill C-31 is part 1, the dental benefit act, which would provide interim dental benefits for many low-income families. Part 2 of Bill C-31 would enact the rental housing benefit act, which proposes a $500 one-time payment to eligible families with net incomes of under $35,000. Part 2 would empower the CRA to process the applications and payments for a one-time top-up payment of $500.
    Bill C-31 is the beginning of a program for those most vulnerable, and it is our children under 12 who are going to benefit from that particular program. I would ask members to take a moment to think about when we were all in school. There were children who had significant dental problems. They were often bullied, abused and picked on. If this followed them through much of their lives and they continued to not be able to afford dental care, getting to high school and then the workplace and still not having the money required for the dental care they needed, what was that doing to their self-esteem and self-confidence as they tried to move along?
    I would suggest that dental care is far more important than a lot of us might pay attention to. It is why I am so happy today to stand in support of Bill C-31. It is going to start us down a pathway of providing dental care to children under 12 of low-income families. This is the beginning of a new program that I think will clearly benefit all of Canada.
     When we look at having to compete in the overall world, we need to be presentable. When we look at some of the homeless folks we see living on the streets, we notice one thing: They are all very badly in need of dental care. How long has that been? Have they been in that situation for many years? Is that part of what destroyed their self-confidence and self-esteem so that at one point or another in their life they are living on the streets?
    Trying to tie it back, I think dental care is extremely important, and I am glad to stand today to support it along with the top-up on rental housing. As I said, when we think of dental care, we think about health and we think about finances, but dental care issues reach far beyond those two basic essentials. It is therefore of the utmost importance.
    Let us think about it for a second. As I mentioned earlier, a person's healthy smile means healthy digestion, a healthy heart, healthy lungs and other respiratory organs and good overall health, because all of this is affected by bacteria in our mouths. Some of us may not realize that dental inflammation is a high risk for the brain for one simple physical reason: It is all located in the head.
    Even more so, one's healthy smile is a social indicator that may affect the perception of our personality by other people. It is an indicator of one's well-being, which affects one's confidence and thus performance. If we talk to some of the folks who are struggling in our shelters and ask them what their life was like, clearly many of them do not have the confidence to go looking for a job, partially because of their appearance. Again, this goes back to their dental health.
    However, given all of dental health's importance, it is not widely accessible. People are hesitant to address their dental health issues because it is expensive. For some it can be frightening as well. For many of the single-parent families that I represent and some of the low-income families, talking about going to the dentist is out of the question. They do not have any coverage whatsoever. To have to go to the dentist and put out $500 or $400 is just not possible for them. That is the kind of thing that gets put off, and eventually they have to deal with it but it could be much later on. It is about not having the resources.

  (1350)  

    As we move forward in our talks on dental care, I would hope we look at what the costs are in dental care. It is extremely expensive to go to dental school and become a dentist. We need to look at all avenues if we are going to try to improve the self-confidence of Canadians, avenues such as being able to become a dentist without having to mortgage one's house and whole future. It is very reflective in the prices that are paid and that is what prevents a lot of people from being able to access the help they need.
    When we talk specifically about children's dental health, those limitations apply even more. For parents, especially in a tough financial situations, it is very difficult to convince themselves and their kids to go without groceries for a week because they have to go to the dentist.
    A third of Canadians do not have dental insurance. In 2018, more than one in five Canadians reported avoiding dental care because of the cost. I do not think that is an unusual thing. An awful lot of people avoid going to the dentist until they are in severe pain. They certainly are not going for the average six-month check up and the kinds of regular things they should be doing. They go when they have no other choice than to get some assistance.
    Our job, as representatives of all these families in Parliament, is to help the parents who struggle financially by investing in their children's health care to ensure we have done everything possible to help these kids grow up into healthy, socially active, confident and productive adults, future parents themselves.
    With Bill C-31, our government makes a first step, or maybe I should say a leap, in ensuring an essential aspect of Canada's health care, namely dental care, is more accessible for those who need it. This support program would start with children under 12 in the period starting in October 2022 and ending in June 2024. The support would be allocated to uninsured families with an annual income of less than $90,000.
    The list of reasons why dental health is important can be very long, but it always comes down to one thing: one's well-being. Well-being or happiness is a fuel for everything good we wish for our country: healthy families, active communities, a blooming economy and all other important things about which we care.
    When we are talking about health care and child care, we have things that are necessary for a healthy Canadian society. I introduced a bill for first reading, which is coming up for second reading, Bill C-284. It calls for a national eye strategy. Apparently 75% of the blindness happening in Canada could be eliminated by more investments and more research. That bill will be coming up for second reading in November. It is about the health of Canadians overall. We can save money in a lot of different ways by ensuring were are making investments early on.
    Before we go to questions and comments, I want to remind everybody that as they start to come in, the sound level tends to go up. Also, for those who are often in the lobbies, please ensure to keep the tone down, because the noise does bleed into the chamber. We forget what it is like when all members of Parliament are actually in the chamber.
    Questions and comments; the hon. member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan.
    Mr. Speaker, I have a simple question for the government member who just spoke. The government talks often about how much money it is giving to people, saying that it is going to give them more money here and more money there.
    Does the government appreciate that it does not generate its own money? The money it gives away, it takes from either present people or from future generations. In fact, the government is doing that now with its planned scheduled tax increases on January 1 and April 1 of next year.
    First, does the government acknowledge that any money it spends has to come from citizens or future generations? Second, does the member agree that now is not the time to be raising taxes?

  (1355)  

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to answer my colleague's question. It is good to see him on the floor again. We have gone back and forth between us on a variety of issues.
     I believe in investing Canadians. All our money does not come out of mid air. It comes from Canadians. It comes from each and every one of us. It is what we do with that money that matters. Investing in Canadians and giving them back the very money they have given to us in programs like eye care and health care, and investing in the right businesses that will grow the economy, all of those are important things that we have a responsibility to do to ensure that Canada continues to move forward. Money only comes from one place, and that is from each and every one of us.
    Mr. Speaker, I am really glad to hear the Liberal member's speech. The Liberals have finally seen the light: the importance of a national dental care program, something they did not see when they voted with the Conservatives against the motion that the NDP put forward just a year ago.
     With that being said, we are looking forward to getting this program delivered for the people who need dental care services.
    The member also talked about housing. Part of the problem with the housing crisis is the fact that the Liberals cancelled the national affordable housing program back in 1993, and the Liberals and Conservatives since that time have done nothing to address the financialization of housing, where REITs and corporate landlords are treating housing like it is a stock market.
    Does the member agree that action needs to be taken now to stop the financialization of housing, so we can ensure people who need affordable housing will be able to access it?
    Mr. Speaker, I will try to bring the temperature down a bit. We are here to debate and to discuss, but I do not want anyone to have a heart attack in the sense of trying to get a point across. The issue of housing—
    Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I asked legitimate questions of the member and for her to insinuate that the tone I am using is somehow going to cause me to have a heart attack is deplorable. It is patronizing and it is unacceptable. I would ask for an apology.
    I thank the member for the point of order. I would ask the member for Humber River—Black Creek to maybe retract and rephrase.
    The hon. member for Humber River—Black Creek.
    Mr. Speaker, I absolutely did not mean to offend the hon. member. I know her passion when she speaks in the House, and I quite often applaud it and agree with many of the comments. However, I am very proud of what our government has done when it comes to housing. We have invested billions and billions of dollars across Canada with our rapid housing initiative, but all these things take time. They do not just materialize overnight.
    I was told recently that a house that used to take eight months to build now takes 22 months to build. We cannot create them in mid-air, but the funds are there. It is happening all the way across the country, and I look forward to seeing some of those housing developments in the riding of my hon. colleague.
    Mr. Speaker, it is really interesting. Yesterday, we were debating supports for people with disabilities. It is historic legislation. Today, we are again bringing legislation that would be there to help people. Children under the age of 12 would be able to receive benefits, which would be a significant achievement.
    Could my colleague provide her thoughts on why it is so important that we have a government that truly cares and delivers for people in real way?
    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for his continued work in the House on behalf of all Canadians.
    The whole issue of investing in people is an important part. We are investing in Canadians; we are not investing somewhere else. We are reinvesting tax dollars to help people have a better quality of life. When I think of the $10-a-day child care and why I am a huge supporter of that program, it is the fact that hundreds of single mothers have told me they cannot go anywhere or get an education because they cannot afford child care. Now their children are in child care and they are in school or getting jobs. They will not end up as seniors in poverty, because of having had access to these programs.

Statements by Members

[Statements by Members]

  (1400)  

[English]

Jim Higgins

     Mr. Speaker, our Liberal family lost one of its most loved members, Jim Higgins, to colon cancer on September 13.
     Jim was one of the first people I met when I sought the nomination for Oakville North—Burlington. He worked in finance, mostly in the automotive industry, so it made sense that he was the only treasurer that Oakville North—Burlington Liberals have ever had. Even when facing difficult cancer treatments over the last three years, Jim continued to manage the books right up to the end.
    Jim was a passionate Liberal, with a strong moral compass and sense of social justice.
    His cozy English pub-style basement was the location of many gatherings when Jim and Tamara warmly welcomed people into their home.
    He was devoted to his wife Tamara and his family, who are grieving his loss, along with his many friends and colleagues.
    Canada is a better place because of my friend Jim Higgins. May he rest in peace.

Ross LeBlanc

    Mr. Speaker, as the world mourns the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, I know the city of Estevan is also mourning the loss of a man who was a pillar of the community, Ross LeBlanc. He passed away on August 29, at the age of 86, leaving a legacy that will carry on for generations to come.
    Ross LeBlanc embodied the very definition of a hard-working farmer and saw the development of farming technology go from horse-drawn equipment to hydraulic automated systems. While his sons took over the farming business, Ross was still on the farm, watching the harvest just a few days before his passing.
    Ross was also known for his music, performing as part of the Ross LeBlanc Trio. I recall just a couple of months ago hearing them play at the Red Market Barn, Kenosee Lake.
    As a huge supporter of the Estevan Bruins hockey team from its inception, he purchased the team's first bus and attended every game he could.
    I would like to extend my condolences to his wife Mary, their children Gwen, Marlin and Jason, and his many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
    Ross was an incredible man and he will be deeply missed.

Costi Immigrant Services

    Mr. Speaker, I had the pleasure of attending the 70th anniversary of Costi, a Davenport-based organization founded by the Italian Canadian community to assist Italian immigrants.
    Since then, Costi has grown into a much beloved multicultural agency, welcoming newcomers and refugees of all nationalities to Canada. In recent years, it has been instrumental in settling thousands of Syrian and Afghan refugees, and is now helping to settle Ukrainians who are fleeing the unprovoked and illegal invasion by President Putin.
    I want to thank president Pina Alberelli-Arone, incoming CEO Samina Sami and their incredible team of dedicated staff and volunteers for Costi’s remarkable work and accomplishments.
    I also want to congratulate award winners OCASI’s executive director Debbie Douglas, Danby's CEO Jim Estill and Paramount Fine Foods president Mohamad Fakih for their inspiring and exceptional work in settling newcomers.
    For seven decades, the vital work of Costi has built the layers of immigrants who are now proud to call Canada their home, and their contributions to Canada have made us a stronger and better country.

[Translation]

Dieppe Raid

    Mr. Speaker, in August, I had the honour of participating in a parliamentary mission to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the Dieppe raid. This operation, which is also known at the disaster at Dieppe, took place in France on August 19, 1942, in the middle of the Second World War. Out of the 6,000 allied soldiers who participated in the landing, less than half got out alive.
    The Fusiliers Mont-Royal regiment was the only francophone unit that participated in the raid. It sent 584 men, but only 117 came home.
    Without question, the most thrilling and memorable part of my mission was meeting Gordon Fennell, a Quebecker from Montreal who is one of the few survivors of the operation. Gordon Fennell has lived to the remarkable age of 100. He was with us on the beaches of Dieppe 80 years later.
    In Dieppe, Gordon Fennell was recognized with the Legion of Honour, the highest civilian honour in France.
    I thank Mr. Fennell for his service.

  (1405)  

[English]

National Coaches Week

    Mr. Speaker, this week communities across Canada are joining together to recognize National Coaches Week. The goal of the week is to celebrate the tremendous responsibility coaches have in creating a positive impact on our athletes and communities.

[Translation]

    During this week, thousands of coaches will be tagged with the hashtag #ThanksCoach and invited to participate in many activities, including online clinics and free virtual workshops.
    This summer, my front row seat at the Legion Championships in Sherbrooke helped me appreciate how much coaches like Sandrine Charron do for athletes.
    I congratulate the coaches who will receive the recognition they deserve for the work they do to help Canadians stay active and healthy.

[English]

Heidi Schlumpf

    Mr. Speaker, after she was diagnosed with triple-negative metastatic breast cancer, local teacher Heidi Schlumpf used her 34th birthday on September 8, 2021, to spread acts of kindness with #putakinddeedinyourfeed. Sadly, Heidi passed away on August 10 of this year, but her legacy of kindness continued on what would have been her 35th birthday.
    Across the area and beyond, friends, students, loved ones and complete strangers used the occasion to spread acts of kindness. Tim Hortons gift cards were left on car windshields, homemade cookies were given to seniors, pancake breakfasts were held at local schools, and diners were surprised with free lunches. More than anything, these acts of kindness leave a wonderful legacy for her husband and their four children: Priska, Daisy, Alice and Konrad.
    We would all live in a better world with more acts of kindness in our lives.

Terry Fox

     Mr. Speaker, today let us once again recognize the legacy of Terry Fox, one of Canada’s greatest heroes and certainly Port Coquitlam’s hometown hero. At the age of 18, Terry lost his leg to cancer, and after 16 months in and out of cancer wards, he decided he could not ignore the suffering that he saw.
    In 1980, Terry began his Marathon of Hope. In 143 days he ran more than 5,300 kilometres and raised millions of dollars for cancer research. In his name, Terry's Marathon of Hope continues today, and Canadians have raised more than $850 million to find a cure.

[Translation]

    His story inspires everyone. His dedication and courage remind us what we can accomplish.

[English]

    As Canadians across the country participate in Terry Fox runs, Terry’s memory will lead us all forward, and together we will end cancer once and for all.

Autism Awareness

    Mr. Speaker, last week I was visited by an extraordinary eight-year-old who is challenging the stigma of living with autism. His name is Fabrizio Celenza, and he shared with me that he doesn’t talk about autism for sympathy or pity. He talks about it to open a door into his life to help others understand, to educate, and to build acceptances for children and adults living with autism.
    Fabrizio was a young ambassador for Project Lifesaver, a community-based organization that utilizes technology to help protect and quickly locate individuals with cognitive disorders who are prone to the behaviour of wandering.
    Autism awareness starts in our community. Two organizations advancing this in the city of Vaughan are the Shining Through Centre for Children with Autism and Waves of Changes for Autism. This evening I will attend the latter's seventh annual gala with several hundred attendees.
    In the wise words of my newest friend, Fabrizio Celenza, let us always remember that it’s okay to be different.

Cost of Living

    Mr. Speaker, the new Conservative leader will put people first: their retirement, their paycheques, their homes and their country.
    Inflation is driving up the cost of everything. Last weekend I heard this over and over from people in Binbrook, the kind of place where young families are moving in droves to escape the high cost of housing in the GTA, only to find out that because of the policies of the government, the cost of living is no better there.
    At the fall fair, over 500 constituents stopped by my booth and filled out a survey card, and the results were overwhelming: Grocery prices, gas prices and taxes have them worried. The last thing they can afford are the proposed tax increases from the government, but we have hope. By tackling Liberal inflation, we will put them back in control of their lives and their money.
    A Conservative government will put a lid on taxes and truly deliver affordability for suburban families in Binbrook, in southern Ontario and all across Canada.

  (1410)  

Mississauga—Erin Mills

    Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to be back in the House after a productive summer in my riding of Mississauga—Erin Mills. In between attending over 160 community meetings and events, visiting local businesses and bringing ministers to Erin Mills to hear directly from residents about local issues, I once again hosted my annual barbecue, where we welcomed over 4,500 residents.
     I joined colleagues representing Canada at the 65th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference in Halifax. I joined a delegation in New York as part of the IPU for the UN High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development. Last week, I joined the Minister of International Development and MPs to visit flood-impacted regions of Pakistan and hear directly from those in need. I am proud that our Canadian government has stepped up with over $30 million in support.
    It has been a busy summer and I look forward to working with members in this House as we continue to deliver on programs that Canadians are counting on us for.

Natural Resources

    Mr. Speaker, the new Conservative leader will put people first: their retirement, their paycheques, their homes and their country. Right now, we lose wages by importing 130,000 barrels of overseas oil every single day because our government prefers dirty dictator oil to responsible Canadian energy. We will repeal the current government's anti-energy laws and replace them with a law that protects our environment, consults first nations and gets things built. Within five years, we will set the goal to end dictator oil in Canada altogether.
    Instead of helping Putin sell his natural gas to Europe to finance his war against Ukraine, a Poilievre government will support projects like GNL Quebec. Some people prefer that natural gas money finance Putin's weapons of war. I want that money to finance paycheques for our energy workers across the nation.
    I know we have been away all summer, but I just want to remind the hon. members that when we are referring to someone else in the chamber, regardless of who it is, we use their title or the riding they represent, and not their own name. We tend to get carried away sometimes, and those things happen in the chamber.
    The hon. member for Cariboo—Prince George.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

    Mr. Speaker, the new Conservative leader will put people first. He will put their retirement first, their paycheques first, their homes first and their country first.
     We will bring hope to doctors, nurses and engineers, and hope to others who are immigrants to this country but are blocked from working in their profession for no other reason than that they come from another country. We will team up with provinces to guarantee that within 60 days an immigrant applying to work in their profession will get a yes or no based on their tested abilities and not based on where they are from. We will back up 30,000 small study loans for those in need of time off work to study up to the Canadian standards.
     There has been enough talk. Let us remove the gatekeepers. Let us get more doctors, more nurses, more engineers and more inflation-proof paycheques for our brilliant immigrants.

Guinness World Record

    Mr. Speaker, this summer I had a wonderful time connecting with residents, attending community events and marking special celebrations in my riding of Mississauga—Streetsville.
     I am excited to share that on Saturday, September 17 our team, my family, the MP for Davenport and community gathered at the Portuguese Cultural Centre of Mississauga and together broke the Guinness world record for the largest Portuguese folk dance. In honour of this achievement, the Portuguese Cultural Centre has pledged to raise money for Canadians with physical and mental disabilities.
     This world record would not have been set without the hundreds of individuals who took part in this special feat. I extend my warmest congratulations to the Portuguese Cultural Centre and to all those who helped achieve this incredible new record.
    Obrigada e parabéns. Congratulations and well done.

  (1415)  

New Democratic Party of Canada

    Mr. Speaker, the new Conservative leader and the Prime Minister may disagree on some things, but when it comes to standing with the billionaire class, they are both just in bed with their corporate buddies.
    Like the Liberals, the Conservatives do not stand with working people. They are unwilling to tax the ultrarich; they are unwilling to stop the billion-dollar giveaways to big oil; and they are unwilling to take the steps necessary to end the housing crisis in this country. However, Canadians are increasingly tired of the games of these two parties: both the silver-tongued snake oil of the opposition leader and the entitlement of the Prime Minister.
    Canadians struggling to get by need real action. Far too many indigenous communities lack basic housing. More than half of Canadians are $200 from insolvency. In this Parliament, Liberals and Conservatives are competing on who can fight better for the billionaire class, but it is the NDP that is fighting to deliver true justice to Canadians.

[Translation]

Oscar Kistabish

    Mr. Speaker, Oscar Kistabish, the president of the Val-d'Or Native Friendship Centre, has been awarded the Lieutenant Governor of Quebec's First Peoples Medal.
     The First Peoples Medal recognizes outstanding contributions by members of the first nations and the Inuit nation. This recognition highlights the career paths of remarkable individuals whose dedication, commitment and achievements have contributed to the influence of their community, their nation or first peoples throughout Quebec, elsewhere in Canada or internationally.
    Mr. Kistabish is a highly respected elder in the Anishinabe community of Pikogan and has dedicated a large part of his life to promoting traditional indigenous culture. He continues to play a big role in passing down ancestral Anishinabe culture on the land.
    As a residential school survivor, Mr. Kistabish now shares his experiences and teachings, serving as a spiritual guide to help survivors find the path to healing.
    Thank you, Mr. Kistabish.

[English]

Food Affordability

    Mr. Speaker, the new Conservative leader will put people first: their homes, their paycheques, their retirements, their country. By contrast, under the Liberals, Canadians are struggling to put food on the table, fuel in their cars and heat in their homes.
    Rising housing prices and interest rates have made the dream of home ownership impossible for young Canadians. Our seniors are watching their retirement savings disappear as a result of Justinflation. Now the Liberals want to triple the carbon tax, impacting farmers in every corner of the country.
    I want to be clear. This is not a western issue. This is not a rural issue. This is a Canadian issue. Food costs are up 10%, the highest inflation in 40 years. Fertilizer policy, tariffs and tripling fuel taxes will drive the cost of food even higher. Whether one lives in Okotoks or Ottawa, this impacts every single Canadian and every single consumer.
     The Liberals must abandon their planned tax hikes on food, fuel and paycheques. Our Canadian food sovereignty and affordability depends on it.

1972 Summit Series

    Mr. Speaker, the day was September 28, 1972. The time was 2:30 p.m. It was the third period. There were 34 seconds left to play, and the goal heard around the world won the critical game between Canada and the Soviet Union.
    This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Summit Series. The players were legends then and they are legends now. While Paul Henderson scored seven times in eight games, even scoring the game-winner in game seven, it was his goal two days later that earned him the most famous goal in Canadian history.
    I think of those legends often. Some will be here today. Some served in this chamber, like the Hon. Ken Dryden, but one more needs to be in the Hall of Fame. That is Paul Henderson.
    Lester B. Pearson said, “This fastest of all games has become almost as much of a national symbol as the maple leaf.” He was right, and that day cemented hockey in the minds of all Canadians forever.

Oral Questions

[Oral Questions]

[Translation]

Taxation

    Mr. Speaker, it is good to see the Prime Minister here on a visit to Canada to refuel his private jet. However, here on the ground, in Canada, things are not going well. According to the Financial Post, rents are so high in Toronto that students are living in homeless shelters. Food banks are facing the highest demand in history. This is the worst time to increase costs for Canadians.
    Will the Prime Minister cancel his tax hikes on gas, heating, food and paycheques?

  (1420)  

    Mr. Speaker, first of all, I want to once again congratulate the member for Carleton who is now the leader of the official opposition.
    We are now all back in the House of Commons and I know that we have a lot of work to do together this fall. On this side of the House, we are going to focus on helping Canadians while building an economy that works for everyone. We are going to invest to build more housing, bring down the cost of living, fight climate change, help the middle class, create safer communities and put more money in the pockets of the most vulnerable families.
    We hope that all Canadians will work with us.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has effectively admitted that his carbon tax has not worked and, therefore, he needs to triple it. According to the Liberal Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, the forthcoming hike in the carbon tax will mean that the total cost increase for a Newfoundland senior living in the countryside, on their heating bill, will be 80%.
    Canadians cannot afford that, but just for clarity, if someone is a Newfoundland senior, how much will their home heating bill rise as a result of the forthcoming hike in the Liberal carbon tax?
    Mr. Speaker, like all parliamentarians, we have each heard stories from Canadians who are struggling with the high cost of living and with the inflation that has been caused by the global crisis. That is why we are putting forward concrete measures that are going to help Canadians. We are going to double the GST tax credit, which is going to hit millions of families with extra support. We are delivering on support for low-income families on dental, and we are also moving forward with support for low-income renters.
    The Leader of the Opposition has an opportunity to support these measures and get help directly to Canadians. I hope he does exactly that.
    Mr. Speaker, the leader of the Liberal Party has an opportunity to respect the fact that heating one's home in January and February in Canada is not a luxury, and it does not make those Canadians polluters. They are just trying to survive. This from a Prime Minister who burned more jet fuel in one month than 20 average Canadians burn in an entire year.
    Will the Prime Minister ground the jet, park the hypocrisy and axe the tax hikes?
    Mr. Speaker, on this side of the House, we are going to continue to stay focused on direct and real help for Canadians, responding to the challenges they are facing with meaningful measures that are going to help millions of Canadians in the middle class and those working hard to join it.
    If Canadians had followed the advice of the Leader of the Opposition and invested in volatile cryptocurrencies in an attempt to “opt out of inflation”, they would have lost half of their savings. Responsible leadership means stepping up for Canadians and being there to support them. Will the Conservative leader support our measures to support Canadians?

Employment Insurance

    Mr. Speaker, we will not support tax hikes on Canadians. Speaking of tax hikes, they plan to raise taxes on paycheques.
    Now, yesterday, the finance minister claimed that all the EI tax hikes they would collect would go to EI benefits. In fact, I looked it up. Over the next three years, they are going to collect $10 billion more in EI taxes than they pay out in EI benefits, allowing the Prime Minister to grab up the difference and use it to feed his insatiable spending appetite.
    Canadians cannot afford a bigger bite off their paycheques. Will the Prime Minister cancel his tax hikes on Canadian paycheques?
    Mr. Speaker, in this House it is important to look at the facts, and the facts are that, when the Leader of the Opposition was the minister responsible for employment insurance, premiums were 20% higher for workers than they are now. That is right; workers paid 20% more. That is why we are continuing to move forward to support workers.
    On the issue of the CPP, we promised to be there for workers as they become seniors to help them with their retirements, and that is exactly what we did. In regard to pricing pollution, we promised it would no longer be free to pollute anywhere in this country, and it no longer is. That is what we are focused on.

  (1425)  

    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister is quite wrong. Today, payroll taxes on the average $60,000-a-year worker are about $700 higher than when we left office and, by the way, we left with a balanced budget.
    Now he wants to raise those taxes even further, a bigger bite off of Canadian paycheques at a time when inflation is at a 40-year high, when students are forced to live in homeless shelters and when home ownership rates are at the lowest level in a generation. Does he not understand that now is the worst time to raise taxes? Will he cancel those tax hikes?
    Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition wants to go back in time. Let us look at what he was doing when he was in government. He continued to deliver child benefit cheques to millionaire families, which we ended when we took office. He voted against raising taxes on the wealthiest 1% so we could lower them on the middle class. He voted against a Canada child benefit that delivers hundreds of dollars a month, tax free, to every Canadian family.
    We have seen where the Leader of the Opposition stands. On this side of the aisle, we are going to stay focused on helping Canadians for real.

[Translation]

Canadian Heritage

    Mr. Speaker, I first want to say how happy I am to see that the Prime Minister is with us once again. I missed him. We will no longer need the NDP to tell us what the Liberals think. We can continue with our work now that the House has sung the praises of the monarchy.
    Speaking of singing, I would like to tell the Prime Minister about francophone singers, because as French-language creators they have had their portion of income paid to English-language creators. Since this does not bother his minister, I would like the Prime Minister to tell me if he intends to ensure that—
    The right hon. Prime Minister.
    Mr. Speaker, for the past seven years, and especially during the pandemic, our government has always been there for artists across the country. We know just how much artists contribute to our identity and culture, which we share with the world. We will always be there to stand up for them. It is important that everyone be treated equally in our systems, and that is exactly what we are doing.
    Mr. Speaker, that is the answer we hear to every question, no matter what the topic. Nothing but empty words.
     The Copyright Board of Canada has the ability to step in and make sure that the payments are done properly. If the government does not know how to do it, we can tell them. Two things need to be done. First, we need to ensure that artists get their fair share, one way or another, even if means the government needs to pay. Second, we need to ensure that this does not happen again in the future. Otherwise, the Prime Minister will repeat that he is worried about French, yet do nothing at all.
    Mr. Speaker, on this side of the House, we will always be there for artists. We will always recognize the essential work they are doing. I am proud to acknowledge our extraordinary francophone and Quebec artists, who make an enormous contribution to Canadian culture and to culture around the world. That is why we will always ensure that all artists in Canada are treated fairly. We will continue to be fair to all.

[English]

The Economy

    Mr. Speaker, the high cost of living is hurting people. We have a Prime Minister who could have listened to our plan in the spring to put more of people's own money back in their pockets and people would have received that by July, but he was too busy telling people that things are worse in other countries.
    Then we have the leader of the Conservative Party who cannot figure out if he is for or against putting more money in people's pockets.
    New Democrats believe that people need respect. Why has the government taken so long to put more of their own money in Canadians' pockets to help them out to afford their groceries in this difficult time?
    Mr. Speaker, the very first bills we have put forward in this Parliament are focused on delivering for Canadians, the middle class and those working hard to join it, who are struggling during these challenging times.
    We heard from Canadians from coast to coast to coast that they need more help. That is why we are stepping up, by doubling the GST tax credit, by delivering more help for low-income renters and by ensuring that families with kids under 12, who are struggling to make ends meet, can deliver dental care for those kids.
    These are initiatives that I think all of us should be able to get behind and I hope all parliamentarians will support them to help Canadians as quickly as possible.

  (1430)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the cost of living is going up, and that is hurting people, but instead of taking action, our Prime Minister says things are worse in other countries. For his part, the Conservative Party leader thinks we can protect ourselves from inflation by buying cryptocurrency. One party is saying nothing and the other is doing nothing, but we are taking action to help people. Why are these two leaders not taking action to help people in this difficult time?
    Mr. Speaker, as parliamentarians, we have all heard from our fellow Canadians, our friends and families in our ridings who are struggling.
    That is why the first bills we tabled in the House this fall are aimed at providing help directly to Canadians and doubling the GST tax credit. We will help by giving more money to low-income renters and giving families money for their children's dental care.
    We are here to help, and I hope all parliamentarians will support us.

Taxation

    Mr. Speaker, let us talk about Canadians who are struggling and how this government claims to want to help. They are doing precisely the opposite.
    The bad news for Canadians is that on January 1, the government is raising taxes on workers. Also, on April 1, the Liberal carbon tax will triple. This is going to cost Canadian families a lot more.
    Why can the Prime Minister simply not explain to Canadians why he is raising taxes when Canadians want to have more money in their pockets?
    Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Conservative member.
    Yesterday, the member for Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes said he could support our plan to offer inflation relief payments to 11 million households. That is good news.
    I hope the Conservative member will support his colleague and convince all the Conservatives to support our excellent plan.
    Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to see the Prime Minister in the House, especially since he was able to see many of his counterparts over the past few days.
    Does he know that Canada is the only G7 country not to have lowered taxes? The other countries understand that providing tax relief helps families, but not the Prime Minister of Canada.
    Why is the Prime Minister insisting on raising taxes, which will hurt Canadian families even more?
    Mr. Speaker, that is another example of the Conservatives' hypocrisy.
    It was the Conservatives who opposed our measure to support the middle class. It was the Conservatives who opposed our tax cut for the middle class. It was the Conservatives who opposed the $15 federal minimum wage. It was the Conservatives who opposed waiving interest on federal student loans.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, Liberal tax hikes, inflation and never-ending spending are crushing Canadians. Even the Bank of Canada admits that the Prime Minister's spending spree should have ended long ago. Failed Liberal policies are making eating, heating and driving a luxury in this country. More Canadians and newcomers are turning to food banks because feeding their family is becoming impossible.
    Will the government put an end to the suffering it is causing and cancel its planned tax increases?
    Mr. Speaker, our government does recognize that times are tough for a lot of Canadians.
    Yesterday I was pleased to learn that the member for Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes also recognizes that, and that he would support our plan to provide relief of nearly $500 per family for 11 million Canadian households. That is real support for the Canadians who need it the most. I hope all members opposite will join us in supporting that plan.
    Mr. Speaker, the Liberals continue punishing Canadians for heating their homes and driving to work. While this “leave it in the ground” left-wing climate-zealot government is happy shutting down essential energy projects and adding more taxes, even the PBO says the government's claim that any sort of carbon tax rebate helps families is misleading. In fact, 60% of households in my province of Alberta, and in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario, are worse off because of the Liberals' climate virtue signalling.
    Will the government cancel its carbon tax hikes and end the suffering it is causing Canadians?

  (1435)  

    Mr. Speaker, we are totally focused on addressing the affordability challenge for Canadian families. I know, talking to my residents in the west, in Winnipeg South, they very much appreciate the measures the finance minister introduced the other day.
    That is why it is important that the price on pollution, the climate action rebate, would put more money in people's pockets, families' pockets. Very importantly, the rebate cheques would be in people's mailboxes in October. That would help with affordability. That would help families with cash flow.
    Mr. Speaker, the Liberal government can misrepresent the facts on the carbon tax all it likes, but Canadians know it costs them more. The Parliamentary Budget Officer has confirmed that the carbon tax will cost families more than they get back, and when the Liberals triple the tax on gas, heat and groceries, it will cost an Ontario household $1,500 more. Given the PBO's credibility and independence, I believe Canadians and Canadians should believe him, rather than the spin from the other aside.
    Again, for the sake of every family struggling, will the government cancel its planned tax increases?
    Mr. Speaker, we know there are affordability challenges for Canadian families and that is why our climate plan is designed so the majority of families receive more in climate action incentive payments than they pay at the pump. I beg to differ about the Parliamentary Budget Officer's findings. It still remains that eight out of 10 families will be better off. As the hon. member knows, as the carbon price increases, the climate action incentive payments will increase also.
    Mr. Speaker, what a week this has been sitting here listening to the Liberals justify their inaction to solve the inflation and cost-of-living crisis, which they created, and things are simply getting worse. Canadian families are on bended knees under the weight of trying to afford the necessities of life. What is the Liberals' solution? It is to pile on the misery with planned tax increases to gas, groceries and home heating through increasing the carbon tax.
    For the sake of every Canadian family that is struggling, will the government cancel its planned tax increases?
    Mr. Speaker, since we have come into government, we have done everything we can to support Canadian families, which is the exact opposite of what the Conservatives have done. In fact, they voted against the tax cut for middle-class families. They voted against the Canada child benefit, which sends thousands of dollars to Canadian families in need every single year and they are against the national child care initiative, which is reducing child care fees by 50% for families with children in child care. We know how difficult it is with the high cost of raising children. We are there for Canadian families, and we will continue to be there.

[Translation]

Employment Insurance

    Mr. Speaker, representatives of unemployed workers are in Ottawa today. A spokesperson for the Conseil national des chômeurs et chômeuses and an advisor to the Comité chômage de Montréal even marched here from Montreal.
    They came to tell the Prime Minister that he needs to keep his promise to overhaul the EI system. They came to tell him that, in the meantime, ending the temporary measures this Sunday is completely unacceptable. They walked 200 kilometres to send this message.
    Will the Prime Minister stand up and announce that he is extending the temporary measures?
    Mr. Speaker, today I met with Pierre Céré from the Conseil national des chômeurs et chômeuses, as well as representatives from the Canadian Labour Congress, the Guilde des musiciens et musiciennes du Québec and the Syndicat québécois de la construction.
    We talked about a fairer, more responsive EI system, better tailored to the needs of the workforce. I made a promise to extend EI sickness benefits from 15 to 26 weeks, and they were very happy to hear that.
    We are working together to build and modernize the EI system.

  (1440)  

    Mr. Speaker, the Canadian Labour Congress, the Syndicat québécois de la construction, the Guilde des musiciens et musiciennes du Québec and member groups of the CNC are all on Parliament Hill to say that they do not accept the fact that the Prime Minister is plunging workers into uncertainty, starting on Sunday.
    Ending temporary EI measures without reform is a step backwards towards the same old program that leaves 60% of workers behind when they need it most.
    Will the Prime Minister fix this situation by Sunday?
    Mr. Speaker, this morning we spoke about how important the temporary measures were during the pandemic. We also talked about the fact that some temporary benefit programs are naturally coming to a close, but that workers will continue to have access to regular benefits.
    We look forward to launching our long-term plan to improve the employment insurance system.
    Mr. Speaker, by ending the temporary EI benefits before there is any reform, the government is leaving workers with a 1970s-era program. It is a program that abandons mothers who lose their jobs during parental leave because it does not account for women being in the workplace; a program that abandons the sickest workers; a program that completely ignores self-employed workers; and a program that considers the workers to be seasonal, instead of the industries they work in.
    Is that really the social safety net that the Prime Minister has to offer Quebeckers?
    Mr. Speaker, our government understands that EI benefits need to be fairer, more responsive and better tailored to the needs of Canada's ever-evolving workforce.
    That is why we have committed to fully modernizing the employment insurance system in partnership with stakeholders, such as the ones I met with this morning.

[English]

Taxation

    Mr. Speaker, people in Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo are struggling to put food on their tables and fuel in their cars. We know the Prime Minister does not think about monetary policy, and the budget has not balanced itself. We also know that ordinary citizens are under extraordinary financial pressures.
    Will the Prime Minister cancel planned tax hikes so we can give ordinary Canadians a break?
    Mr. Speaker, if the member opposite bothered to read the “Fiscal Monitor”, he would know that the budget was actually in surplus for five months this spring, but I have a question for him. I would like to know—
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    I just want to remind the hon. members that the hon. member for Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo asked a question, and he wants to be able to hear the answer.
    The hon. Deputy Prime Minister, please begin from the top so the hon. member can hear the full answer.
    Mr. Speaker, since the member seems interested in the economy, I want to give him an opportunity to clarify a point of Conservative policy. I would like to ask him if he agrees with the Conservative leader that crypto is a good way to “opt out of inflation”. Does he agree with the Conservative leader's reckless advice to Canadians to invest in Bitcoin?
    Since the leader gave that advice, Bitcoin has crashed by 56%. Canadians who invested according to his advice would have seen their life savings destroyed. Is that their economic policy?
    Mr. Speaker, I think the minister thinks she is in opposition, and she will be soon enough.
    Canadians' paycheques are already not keeping up with the Liberal tax hikes and the Justinflation crisis. Canadians are falling further behind, becoming desperate and losing hope. The government and its ministers are failing Canadians, and their responses today are further proof of their inability to provide viable solutions and restore hope.
    Will the government cancel the payroll taxes on Canadians' paycheques?

  (1445)  

    Mr. Speaker, our government's approach is both fiscally responsible and compassionate. The Conservatives' approach is neither. Do the Conservatives really think that a family of four earning just $35,000 a year could not use $500 this fall to buy groceries? Do they think a low-income essential worker who is struggling to pay her rent could not use an extra $500? We know Canadians need this support. We know it is part of a AAA-rated fiscally responsible approach.
    Mr. Speaker, Frank, a father in my riding of Vaughan, is struggling to support his family of four. He currently works two jobs to put food on the table and gas in his car. These are not luxury items, and the struggle to afford the necessities is taking a serious toll on his mental health and well-being.
    Will the government cancel its planned tax increase for Frank and all Canadian taxpayers?
    Mr. Speaker, we understand that Canadians are going through a difficult time, and we understand they need support. We heard yesterday that there is at least one Conservative MP who understands that our doubling of the GST tax credit makes sense today.
    I would like to ask all of the Conservatives that. I really would like to believe Conservatives share our sincere desire to help Canadians. They can join us with this measure. It would help all Canadians.

[Translation]

Employment Insurance

    Mr. Speaker, the pandemic exposed the flaws in the employment insurance system. The Liberals responded to the emergency with temporary patch jobs while promising real reform someday. Those temporary measures run out on Saturday. On Sunday, thousands of people will be stuck with the old system that does not work. The unemployed deserve respect. Women, part-time seasonal workers and freelancers deserve respect.
    Will the Liberals wake up, or will they condemn workers to getting screwed by the old system the Conservative Party leader is such a fan of?
    Mr. Speaker, we are committed to completely overhauling Canada's employment insurance system. Some temporary benefits programs implemented during the pandemic will indeed come to an end, but regular benefits will continue to be available to workers, as they were before the pandemic.
    We are looking forward to announcing our long-term plan. We are looking forward to increasing EI sickness benefits to 26 weeks before the end of December.

[English]

Taxation

    Mr. Speaker, while Canadians are struggling, oil companies are making record profits. Last quarter alone, Imperial Oil made $2.4 billion. New Democrats have been calling for a tax on these excess profits to help put more money back in people's pockets, but the Liberals have refused.
     Now, the UN Secretary General is calling on countries to implement a windfall tax on big polluters. Will the Prime Minister finally do the right thing and make big oil pay their fair share?
    Mr. Speaker, our government has been and continues to be committed to being sure everyone in Canada pays their fair share. That is why we are permanently raising the corporate income tax by 1.5% on the largest, most-profitable banks and insurance companies. That is why we introduced a recovery dividend of 15% on the excess profits of these institutions during COVID. We have implemented, effective September 1, a 10% luxury tax on private jets, luxury cars, boats and yachts.

Child Care

    Mr. Speaker, we know that the Canada-wide early learning and child care system is getting up and running from coast to coast to coast. Families in my home town of Sudbury are already seeing the benefits of the transformative investments that Canada and the provinces are making together.
    Can the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development update the House on the milestones Sudbury has reached as this national system is built out?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for Sudbury for all of her hard work advocating on behalf of early learning and child care.
    I am really pleased to announce that the City of Sudbury is moving forward with the Canada-wide early learning and child care agreement and has already begun issuing rebates to families in Sudbury. This is excellent news for families in Sudbury.
     I had the opportunity to visit Sudbury a couple of months ago to speak with providers and families about what this agreement means for them, and I am excited to say that today they are delivering.

  (1450)  

Taxation

    Mr. Speaker, the burden of the inflated cost of living is felt especially by Canadians living in rural communities such as mine. In northern Alberta, one has to heat one's home and fill up one's gas tank to travel for work, school, groceries and medical appointments. As the Liberals increase taxes to pay for their reckless spending, they are leaving so many rural Canadians in the dark as they struggle to make ends meet.
    Will the government cancel its planned tax increases on paycheques, gas, home heating and groceries?
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to talk to my hon. colleague across the way and tell her some things that we are doing.
    We know that high-speed Internet is a connectivity issue for rural Canadians. Since 2015, we have connected 1.2 million homes. By 2026, we are going to connect another 1.2 million homes. By 2026, we will have 98% of Canada connected to affordable, reliable, high-speed Internet. That is going to help rural Canadians get on par with urban Canadians. It is truly going to help all Canadians.
    Mr. Speaker, Atlantic Canadians and Canadians across the country are seeing their cost of living soar, including the cost to heat their homes. The premier of Nova Scotia is concerned about the impacts of carbon pricing saying, “Almost 40 per cent of Atlantic Canadians already experience energy poverty — [by far] the highest rate in the country.”
    These constant increases are hurting Canadians. When will the Prime Minister get off the backs of Atlantic Canadians, put people first, stop these increases and commit to no new taxes?
    Mr. Speaker, we realize that there are very unique challenges in Atlantic Canada with the cost of living and, of course, the cost of fuel. We made a commitment to be there for them.
    I am very happy to say that the Minister of Environment and Climate Change just last week announced $120 million from the low-carbon economy fund to help Atlantic Canadians transition away from heating oil to clean energy. Also, as the House knows, there is the home retrofit program, which also will help with energy efficiency and saving money for Atlantic Canadians.
    Mr. Speaker, my constituent, Kerrie Russ, is increasingly frustrated with having a prime minister who has forgotten working Canadians. After paying their mortgage, utility bills, gas, food, child care and school fees, Kerrie and her husband are left with $200 each month. The family does not qualify for the GST benefit and their child benefit has been reduced.
    What Kerrie Russ wants to know: Will the Prime Minister cancel his planned tax increases on paycheques, gas, home heating and groceries?
    Mr. Speaker, I am glad to hear the MP for Edmonton Manning talk about the child care costs his constituents are facing. I very much believe that one of the important ways our government and governments across the country can support hard-working Canadian families is by making child care not a burden. For too many families, child care is like a second mortgage. Thanks to our early learning and child care plan, that burden is being lifted from Canadian families.
     I am pleased the Province of Alberta has joined with us to do that for the member's constituents.

Agriculture and Agri-Food

    Mr. Speaker, with the Liberal carbon tax, input costs to heat a barn or dry grain have exploded. I am hearing daily from farmers about how the Liberals' nonsensical fertilizer policy will devastate their businesses and increase the cost of food for Canadians even further. Many farmers and farm families see Liberal tax hikes as the killing blow. If farmers cannot afford to live, they cannot afford to grow the food we eat. It is simple: no farms, no food.
    Will the Liberals end this tax hike on Canadian farmers?
    Mr. Speaker, the biggest threat to our food security is definitely the climate crisis and droughts. When we face droughts or floods, as we did last summer, we have a lot of trouble with food production. That is why are partnering with farmers. We are providing them with financial incentives so they can adopt good practices, reduce emissions and be more resilient in the face of the climate crisis.
    We will be there to support farmers.

  (1455)  

[Translation]

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

    Mr. Speaker, I want to make one thing clear. Leaving Roxham Road open is not humane. It encourages criminals who profit from the misery of others to engage in human smuggling. It is making the government complicit with a business trading on desperation where criminals use false information to convince families to pay up to $10,000 per person to cross the border. The only reason this business exists is that the Government of Canada is incompetent in managing its borders and processing refugee claims.
    How can the government condone that?
    Mr. Speaker, on this side of the House, we believe in an asylum system that is fair and equitable and that better protects the rights of refugees.
    We are working closely with the Government of Quebec. Every year, we transfer hundreds of millions of dollars to welcome immigrants, including refugees, to Quebec, and we are investing $321 million to strengthen the integrity of our borders. That is good for Quebec. Refugees play a key role in Quebec and they contribute to our economy. We will keep it up.
    Mr. Speaker, this is a whole new level of hypocrisy.
    Once migrants arrive in Canada, the government is unable to process their refugee claims. It leaves them wondering and worrying for years and then, after all those years, it determines that half the families do not qualify as refugees and deports them.
    The federal government is letting criminals lie to families and bankrupt them so that they can get across the border. It leaves them hanging for years only to send them back to their own country. The federal government is not helping migrants. It is helping criminals.
    When will it suspend the safe third country agreement and finally put an end to this inhumane racket?
    Mr. Speaker, during the pandemic, we worked closely with the Quebec government, Mr. Legault's government, to create a path for the guardian angels.
    These refugees worked on the front lines of our public health system. That is just one example of how refugees have made very positive contributions.
    At the same time, we will continue to strengthen the integrity of our borders by making investments in additional resources for CBSA and for all police services because, on this side of the House, we believe in a fair and equitable system.

[English]

Justice

    Mr. Speaker, just yesterday, the justice minister defended the Liberals' decision to eliminate mandatory jail times for crimes like robbery with a firearm, extortion with a firearm, weapons trafficking and drive-by shootings. This was the very same day that his constituents in Montreal learned of yet another fatal shooting, this time at the Bell Centre, home of the Montreal Canadians, a place where hockey fans and parents should be able to take their children and know they are safe.
     When will the government act to protect Canadians and ensure that repeat violent offenders are put behind bars?
    Mr. Speaker, serious crimes will always carry serious consequences. That is the basic principle.
     What we are trying to do with Bill C-5 is to make sure we can concentrate our resources on those serious crimes, whether in the judicial system or in enforcing our police—
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    I am having a hard time hearing and I am sure the hon. member for Fundy Royal was having a hard time.
     Would the hon. minister mind starting from the top so we can all get the answer?
    Mr. Speaker, the fundamental point is that serious crimes will always carry serious consequences. What we are doing with Bill C-5 is ensuring that we have more resources to focus on those serious crimes and ensuring that our police authorities have more tools in their tool kit to deal with them.
    A former justice of the Supreme Court, Michael Moldaver, in an article he published this week, told us that we should go precisely in that direction, to focus our resources on those serious crimes and incarcerate less people, and nobody can accuse Justice Moldaver of being soft on crime.

  (1500)  

    Mr. Speaker, Canadians expect that criminals convicted of sexual assault, kidnapping and human trafficking serve their sentence from behind bars, but not these soft-on-crime Liberals, with their do no crime Bill C-5, which incredibly allows criminals convicted of these and other serious offences to serve their sentence from home.
     Could the Liberals explain how letting loose into the community the likes of sexual predators, kidnappers and human traffickers protects public safety?
    Mr. Speaker, serious crimes, such as those described by my hon. colleague, will always carry serious consequences. What Bill C-5 would do is that in cases where a sentence would be less than two years and, most important, there would no threat to public safety or public security, it would allow for a better alternative to incarceration in those cases. This precisely allows us to focus our resources in the criminal justice system on those serious crimes, which we all agree we need to treat quite seriously.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, Canadians still cannot believe that this Prime Minister wants to abolish minimum sentences for crimes such as illegally importing firearms, discharging a firearm with intent and committing robbery with a firearm.
    With the upsurge in violent incidents and murders happening in broad daylight, the people of Montreal are living in fear. Meanwhile, members of street gangs and organized crime are delighted. They can hardly wait for Bill C-5 to be passed. It gives criminals more freedom and, in the meantime, people are staying home because they are afraid.
    Will the Prime Minister promise to withdraw Bill C‑5?
    Mr. Speaker, the reality is quite the opposite of what the hon. member is saying.
    Serious crimes will always have serious consequences in our system. What we are doing with Bill C-5 is abolishing an ineffective strategy that clogged up the criminal justice system, so we can focus on serious crimes that should have serious consequences.

Public Safety

    Mr. Speaker, Canadians and Quebeckers deserve to feel safe in their communities. The tragedies caused by gun violence over the past few months only highlight how important it is to take measures to combat gun violence.
    Can the Minister of Public Safety tell us about the measures our government is taking to create safer communities?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for the question and I share her concerns.
    We are working in close co-operation with the Government of Quebec and municipal leaders such as Mayor Valérie Plante to make Quebec's communities safer. We have invested $46 million in supporting Quebec police forces and $42 million to prevent young people from turning to crime and to address the root causes of gun violence. We are continuing to invest in strengthening our border to prevent illegal gun trafficking. We will be there for Montreal.

[English]

Taxation

    Mr. Speaker, the cost of the Liberal government is driving up the cost of living.
     Over the past number of months, I have met with too many constituents who are barely getting by. They are finding it more difficult to pay their bills, feed their families and are worried about losing their homes. In short, there is too much month left at the end of the money. They simply cannot afford higher taxes.
    Will the Prime Minister cancel his planned tax increases?
    Mr. Speaker, it is important to be clear with Canadians what is actually being discussed. Canadians understand that the CPP and EI contributions that every working Canadian makes are how we all pay for our retirement and how we create a safety net for all Canadians in case they lose their jobs.
    At a time of global economic uncertainty, it is the height of irresponsibility for the Conservatives to suggest that we as a country stop putting money away for our retirement and for a rainy day.

  (1505)  

    Mr. Speaker, the government's carbon tax would mean a massive price increase to home heating oil compared to a year ago.
    To quote the Liberal Premier of Newfoundland:
    
    Users of furnace oil in the Province tend to be older, live in rural areas and have lower incomes, lower than the provincial average. An increase in heating costs of 60 percent in one year already imposes considerable economic hardship and stress on these residents.
    Will the government cancel its planned tax increases on gas, home heating and groceries today?
    Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives used to believe in market mechanisms and pricing to reduce pollution. Stephen Harper did before he did not. The member for Durham did before his party abandoned it and, in fact, abandoned him. The Conservatives have flip-flopped all over the place.
     However, I want to applaud one Conservative, the member for New Brunswick Southwest, who says his province should go back to using the federal carbon price because at least it comes with rebates. I agree with that hon. member.
    Mr. Speaker, Canadians are looking for hope.
    Every day, Conservatives stand up in the House to tell the stories of real Canadians who are facing the worst financial struggles of their lives, thanks to the mismanagement of the government.
     Day after day in the House, the Liberals stand up to tell us how well Canadians are doing. Talk about a government being tone deaf and out of touch with Canadians.
    Will the government finally give Canadians hope and cancel the planned tax increases on paycheques?
    Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the MP from Saskatchewan. Our government understands that Canadians need some support in the tough times we are going through right now.
    Apparently his colleague, the member for Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes, agrees with us. He understands that our doubling of the GST tax credit will provide important relief for Canadian families.
    I would like to believe that the member who just spoke really cares for his constituents. I hope he will show that by supporting this useful measure.

Fisheries and Oceans

    Mr. Speaker, recently, Canadian seafood and fishers have been targeted by an American organization questioning our efforts to protect the North Atlantic right whale. Can the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans outline the measures her department has taken working with fishers to protect North Atlantic right whales?
    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for Egmont for his deep commitment to fish harvesters.
    Canada has world-class fisheries and that is thanks to our fish harvesters. With measures like dynamic closures, removing ghost gear and whale-safe gear innovations, Canadian harvesters are very committed to protecting right whales, and it is working. It turns out that thanks to their efforts, there has not been a whale mortality in Canadian waters for three years. That is Canada's record and we can all be proud of it.

Post-Secondary Education

    Mr. Speaker, a generation of Canadians is struggling. From the cost of living to the student debt crisis, Canadian students and recent grads are falling behind. Instead of helping them get by, the federal government has collected billions of dollars in student loan payments since 2020. As a result, 65,000 Canadians have defaulted on their student loans.
    This out-of-touch Liberal government refuses to give young Canadians a break. When will the Liberal government start tackling the affordability crisis and cancel student debt?
    Mr. Speaker, young Canadian students are the future of Canada. With budget 2022, we are investing $26 million over four years to increase the maximum amount of forgivable Canada loans by 50% in rural communities for health care workers.
    We have had students' backs every step of the way. Through budget 2021, we made federal student loans interest-free until March 2023. We also doubled Canada student grants and extended the skills boost top-up to help young Canadians really get through the pandemic.
    We are absolutely committed to permanently eliminating the federal interest on students loans and Canada apprentice loans, and we will continue to help young Canadians.

  (1510)  

Taxation

    Mr. Speaker, we are in a climate catastrophe while oil and gas companies make record profits on the backs of regular people. As raised earlier, the UN Secretary-General is now calling for a windfall tax on these profits, yet the federal government continues to do the opposite, giving more public funds to the very companies responsible for the crisis.
    When will the government listen to the UN and apply to oil and gas the same windfall tax it has to banks and life insurers?
    Mr. Speaker, we share the hon. member's concern and his commitment to the climate crisis and to addressing it. That is why we are spending $9.1 billion on our emissions reduction plan, which is an ambitious sector-by-sector path for Canada to reach its 2030 emissions on our way to net zero by 2050. It has broad support from environmental groups, from industry to farmers. It is going to deliver clean air, a healthy environment and a strong economy.
    Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Today in question period, the official opposition cited a March 22 report by the Parliamentary Budget Officer that shows the carbon tax will be a net cost to Canadian families. I am seeking unanimous consent—
    I am afraid that is more debate than a point of order.
    I believe the hon. opposition House leader has a question for us. It is Thursday.

Business of the House

[Business of the House]
    Mr. Speaker, yes, I have the one question everyone has been waiting for, the Thursday question.
    I am wondering if the hon. House leader of the government could update the House as to what we can expect next week. Specifically, will he bring in legislation cancelling the Liberal tax hikes that are due to come into effect January 1?
    Mr. Speaker, I too always look forward to the Thursday question.
    Let me first take the opportunity to thank the member for Barrie—Innisfil for his service in the role as opposition House leader. It was a pleasure to work with him.
    I will also welcome the member for Regina—Qu'Appelle to his new role as opposition House leader. We have had some fruitful conversations. I look forward to more of them.
    First, of course, I reject the characterization that supporting Canadians in their retirement while making sure EI is there for them in case they lose their jobs is a tax increase. We have a fundamental difference with regard to making sure we invest in Canadians, and we will see that play out in legislation.
    If I could, because the question was asked of me, I am excited to say that this afternoon we are going to start second reading debate of Bill C-30, the cost of living relief act.
    Tomorrow morning, we will resume debate on Bill C-31, which provides for the establishment of dental benefits for children under the age of 12 years old and a one-time rental housing benefit. Then we are going to switch back to Bill C-30 following question period. If further debate is needed, we will continue will Bill C-31 on Monday.
    On Wednesday, we will return to second reading of Bill C-29 concerning the establishment of a national council for reconciliation as an independent, non-political, permanent and indigenous-led organization.
    Finally, I would like to inform hon. colleagues that next Tuesday and Thursday shall be opposition days.
    Pursuant to order made Wednesday, September 21, the House will shortly resolve itself in a committee of the whole to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Summit Series. We will welcome some of the players of Team Canada 1972 on the floor of the House, and statements will be made as part of the proceedings.

[Translation]

    I would remind members that only authorized photographers are allowed to take photos.

  (1515)  

Sitting Suspended  

    The House will suspend for a few moments to prepare for the committee session.

    (The sitting of the House was suspended at 3:15 p.m.)

Sitting Resumed  

    (The House resumed at 3:23 p.m.)

  (1520)  

[English]

1972 Team Canada Players and Representatives

    (House in committee of the whole to recognize the 1972 Team Canada players and representatives, Mr. Anthony Rota in the chair)

     [And the 1972 Team Canada players and representatives being present in the chamber:]
    It is my pleasure today to welcome to the House of Commons players and representatives of Team Canada 1972. I will ask members to hold their applause until I have read the names of our guests. They are Don Awrey; Yvan Cournoyer; the Hon. Ken Dryden; Ron Ellis; for Victor Hadfield, who was not able to attend, his son Jeff Hadfield; Paul Henderson; Dennis Hull; the Hon. Frank Mahovlich; Peter Mahovlich; Serge Savard; Rod Seiling; and the late Bill White, represented by his son Kam White.
    Some hon. members: Hear, hear!
    The Speaker: I will now invite the right hon. Prime Minister to make a statement to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1972 Summit Series.

  (1525)  

    Mr. Speaker, everyone loves a good comeback story, especially one that united our whole country. Quite frankly, the level of unanimity in this House today is a nice thing to see too.
    Fifty years ago, before the Summit Series had even started, a lot of sportswriters and hockey fans were predicting an easy win for Team Canada. At the time, a journalist at The Globe and Mail famously promised that if the Soviets won a single game, he would eat his own column shredded in a bowl of borscht. It did not take long for him to eat his words, literally. There is even a picture of it.

[Translation]

    The first game took place at the Montreal Forum on September 2, 1972. Canada lost 7-3. In the days and weeks that followed, our team had its ups and downs. After losing game five in Moscow, our backs were up against the wall. If we wanted to win the series, we had to win the last three games in a row. It was quite a challenge. The players kept up their training, the coaches refined their strategies, and Canadians did not lose hope.

[English]

    In game six, after a scoreless first period, Canada finally produces a 3-2 victory. In game seven, Phil Esposito scores the first two goals and Canada wins 4-3, and then game eight.

[Translation]

     It is the final game of the series. With just one minute left to play, the score is 5-5. That is when Paul Henderson jumps onto the ice.

[English]

     Henderson rushes to the net. He falls. He gets back up. Team Canada takes two rebound shots and, with 34 seconds to go, Henderson flips in a shot to the goalie's left. They could hear the cheers from coast to coast to coast.
    Everyone remembers where they were. Everyone except me, because I was only nine months old. However, I remember growing up with players like Yvan Cournoyer and Ken Dryden as heroes. I am even wearing my Habs socks today. They were not only heroes because they had won the series. They were all heroes because they taught us a lesson. They showed us how grit and hard work pays off. They showed us that, even when there is only 34 seconds left to play, one never gives up. In a global example, they showed us that having a hard-fought competition on ice can go a long way, even for diplomacy.
    Paul Henderson once told the story of a friend calling him when the Berlin Wall fell, saying that after his famous goal in 1972 the Soviets probably never recovered. I will let experts debate on whether there is any truth to that, but what is absolutely true is that the Summit Series was a defining moment in the history of our country.

[Translation]

    In 1972, our flag, the maple leaf, was only seven years old. Not all Canadians had embraced our flag at that point. As Serge Savard often pointed out, after our players won while wearing the maple leaf on their jerseys, Canadians became proud of this symbol, which still represents us today. It is a symbol of peace, democracy and freedom.

[English]

    Our world is a different place today than it was during the Cold War, but there are parallels. One thing remains the same: We will never stop fighting for what is right.
     Today, as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Summit Series and all the members of this historic team, let us remember the best of who we are as Canadians. Let us continue our work to make sure people, young and old, players and fans, can be part of this extraordinary sport in a safe and respectful environment. Let us keep reminding the world that being polite and friendly never precludes our also being tough and determined. Let us remember that, with hope and hard work, there is nothing we cannot overcome.

  (1530)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, what an honour it is to have the legendary heroes of the Summit Series among us today.

[English]

    It is an honour to welcome to the House today members of Team Canada for the 50-year anniversary of their victory over the Soviet national team in the 1972 Summit Series.
    It was the year 1972 that the Cold War spilled into the world of sports. In July, American and world chess champion Bobby Fischer had defeated the Soviet champion and number two world competitor Boris Spassky. In the Munich Olympics, the American basketball team lost a bitter and still-contested gold medal game against the Soviet Union.
    However, neither of these events produced the drama or the lasting glory that the Summit Series did. The series pitted, for the first time, the best Canadian professionals, though some of them looked too young to have been there, against the Soviet players who were, at the time, underestimated but preparing quietly for a surprise. It was to be a true test of hockey supremacy, played under the shadow of a much deadlier contest for global supremacy.
    The Canadian Department of External Affairs suggested that the encounter could be called a “friendship series”. Thank goodness the players ignored that and had the good sense to compete fiercely. Although most commentators and most Canadians expected the series to be an easy one, after a shocking 7-3 loss in game one in Montreal, it became clear that the series would not be a friendly exhibition of Canada's superiority.
    As the losses mounted, the pressure on our players grew, the low point being the series' game four in Vancouver when some of the crowd rained boos down on their defeated heroes. Canadians simply could not understand how these NHL all-stars, these legendary names they knew so well, could be outscored by a team of Russian amateurs.
    The Canadian fans had not yet realized what had become clear to the Canadian players: These Russians were actually really good. They were playing a different game than the NHL players were used to. It was a game of speed and finesse, of long-lead breakout passes and pinpoint cross-ice accuracy.
    By the end of the series, the names of those faceless Russians would be household names in Canada. We know them now. We knew them then and now many of them play in the leagues on this side of the ocean, or at least their children and grandchildren do. They have names and faces Canadians would come to know and respect in international tournaments and in exhibitions pitting Soviets against NHL competitors.
    By the time the Canadian team left to train in Europe ahead of the four games in Moscow, the idea of a “friendship series” was long dead. From this side of the Cold War, knowing how it ends, we can afford to look back objectively, but in the moment, and at that time, the series had become, to borrow the name of the 40th anniversary documentary, the Cold War on Ice.
    The 1972 series was the first time the term “Team Canada” was applied to a Canadian hockey team. In the minds of Canadians and fans following the series around the world, and on both sides of the Iron Curtain, Team Canada versus Team Russia had become us versus them. There were two styles, two different ways of life and two fundamentally incompatible ideologies and systems of government. It was democracy versus totalitarianism, communism versus free enterprise and freedom versus repression.
    Clichés never tell the whole story, but they often tell the most important part. This is true of the stories we are told today of the 1972 series. Before the series, we told ourselves that we were the best hockey country in the world and that our way of playing was the only way to play properly.
    During the series, we realized that this was not quite true. For having lost those four games and having seen the competitive grit and the finesse of a team of a different style, we learned that we needed to up our game. In the last game on home ice, the frustration of Canadian fans in Vancouver's Pacific Coliseum erupted as boos rained down from the bleachers. Team Canada lost, falling 4-2.

  (1535)  

    In a now iconic post-game interview, the legendary Phil Esposito pleaded with Canadians. To quote the elder Esposito brother, he said he was completely disappointed and he could not believe it. He said, “Some of our guys are really down in the dumps...We know we’re trying...They’ve got a good team and let’s face facts. But it doesn’t mean that we’re not giving it our 150 per cent, because we...are. Every one of us guys, 35 guys, came out to play for Team Canada. We did it because we love our country”.
    On foreign ice, in front of hostile fans, with their backs against the wall, down two games, Team Canada rallied to win the last three games, each by a single goal. Each of those winning goals was scored by the great Paul Henderson. His name is immortalized in Foster Hewitt's frantic play-by-play call that erupted through hundreds of thousands or probably millions of televisions and radios in classrooms and workplaces across the country: “Henderson has scored”, and the crowd goes wild.
    The ladies and gentlemen in the audience would not have been so pleased of course, but those here on the other side of the world would have applauded and cheered with such a vibrating and powerful force that it would have been heard all around the globe. It is a call that still thrills us all half a century later, even those of us who were born after 1972. We have only heard the echo of those cheers but still revel in the legacy they represent. When we hear those calls and we see those names, the names of those who are here today, Yvan Cournoyer, after the winning goal, for example, it takes us back to a different time and a different world.
    It was 17 years before the fall of the Berlin Wall. Just a few months before the wall fell in May of 1989, a 20-year-old Alexander Mogilny would become the first Soviet star to defect to the west to play in the NHL. He was charged with deserting the Soviet Red Army, in which he was nominally an officer. Shortly after that, a crumbling and cash-strapped Soviet hockey system and Soviet Union would come crashing down as well. Two years after that, in 1991, the Soviet Union, which in 1972 had appeared almost invincible, officially came to an end. I say almost invincible because this Team Canada showed that they were anything but.
    That is something the Canadian spirit brings alive in hockey, but also in all aspects of our lives. I think what is so special about the gentlemen gathered here today is that every single Canadian can see their own triumph in this legendary win. They have made us all proud. They have given us one of the defining moments of Canadian history. In fact, I think if any Canadian were asked to close their eyes and dream up the most Canadian moment, it would be hard to think of anything more Canadian than the '72 Summit series victory.
    Therefore, on behalf of all Canadians I wish them a great congratulations and thank them for their contributions to our national story. May we all live up to their incredible example of grit, determination and victory.

  (1540)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I can proudly say that I am the only party leader in the House to have donned skates prior to 1972. That said, I was not particularly good. I clearly took a wrong turn somewhere.
    As we know, the Bloc Québécois has always defended Quebec's identity. Quebec and Canada are two different nations, with different values and, often, different ways of doing things. We defend the right to live in French, the common and official language of the Quebec nation and even of certain locker rooms, at times. We do not identify with multiculturalism. We prefer to change the topic when the British monarchy comes up in conversation.
    The only dynasties we like are the ones in hockey. We have the Quebec civil code, we value clean energy, and we are committed to secularism. We are different. There are two different nations, but they come together from time to time.
    We often share interests and visions. Canada and Quebec are peace-loving. We prefer peace to war, words to weapons. We are democrats. We care about poverty, injustice and violence, and we look for solutions to help improve people's lives. Frankly, I think that Canadians and Quebeckers are good people. Most importantly, Quebeckers and Canadians share the unwavering belief that hockey is the greatest sport in the world.
    From Toe Blake to Maurice Richard, to Sidney Crosby and Marc-André Fleury, not to mention the great Guy Lafleur, Mike Bossy and Doug Gilmour, Canadians and Quebeckers are, beyond a shadow of a doubt, the best hockey players in the world. I do not want to come across as pretentious, but we will keep it between us. I would even venture to say that Quebeckers are the best players, but we will share that honour today.
    In Quebec, we know how to play hockey. I would not include myself in that. Any time I or hundreds of thousands of Quebeckers my age scored a goal as a kid, we imagined being Guy Lafleur or, for those in Drummondville, Yvan Cournoyer.
    Any time we made a save, we pictured ourselves as Ken Dryden. Those are the names that inspire kids. We say we have the best players in the world, and there is no better proof than the Summit Series.
    On one side was our team, represented by the men we have the honour of welcoming today. On the other, the Soviet superpower at the height of the Cold War. Against a backdrop of looming nuclear threat and fears of a third world war, the best of us went head to head against the best of them: Pete and Frank Mahovlich, Guy Lapointe, Yvan Cournoyer, Serge Savard, Ken Dryden, Phil and Tony Esposito, Bobby Clarke and Rod Gilbert, to name just a few of the team's worthy and admirable members.
    Our team went up against the USSR, sworn enemy of the Western Bloc, denizens of the other side of the Iron Curtain. They could not lose. They lost. We were destined to win. We won. It was magical.
    The Summit Series symbolizes so many things. First of all, it is better to fight on the ice with a puck and sticks than on a battlefield. On that note, perhaps Mr. Putin should leave Ukraine alone. Things could be settled in a best of seven series.
    On top of that, the Summit Series reminded us that the Soviets were more than just our enemies. We learned that we can and, more importantly, we should, respect our adversaries. It was an extraordinary example of how sport contributed to the détente and the eventual end of the Cold War. The Berlin Wall likely started coming down as a result of the Summit Series.
    Lastly, we have to talk about Paul Henderson's goal. Paul Henderson scored the most beautiful goal ever scored by a grinder. You have Da Vinci's Mona Lisa, Beethoven's Ninth Symphony and Paul Henderson's goal.

  (1545)  

    Let us get back to our two nations. My esteemed colleague from Abitibi—Témiscamingue suggested a 21st century summit series, where Quebec would play Canada, national team against national team, in a friendly game. There will always be things that we want to do together once in a while.
    That is why, 50 years later, we have come together to say bravo and thank you. Thank you for the dream and thank you for proving that, with enough determination and courage, miracles do happen.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I am proud to rise today to honour the 50th anniversary of the 1972 Summit Series and the team members who captured the hearts, minds, and imagination of an entire nation. It is that rare event in sport that had all Canadians on the edge of their seat and would become a legend across the nation, creating role models, inspiring songs and establishing Canada as the dominant hockey nation on earth.

[Translation]

    This series is so iconic that it almost has no rivals in terms of its importance to our country, except for Terry Fox's Marathon of Hope. It eclipses all other historic moments in Canadian sport, such as the Blue Jays' back-to-back championships, Donovan Bailey's gold medal sprint, and Sidney Crosby's golden goal at the Vancouver Olympic Games.
    I would like to begin by thanking all the players on Team Canada 1972 for their historic win in the Canada-Russia series, including the many players who have joined us today to celebrate the 50th anniversary.

[English]

    In case my colleagues did not know this, a good lot of the players originated from northern Ontario: The Esposito brothers, Phil and Tony, learned to play in Sault Ste. Marie; brothers Frank and Peter Mahovlich were from Schumacher; Mickey Redmond called Kirkland Lake home; and Gary Bergman hailed from Kenora.
     I also want to give a special shout-out to the late, great Jean-Paul “J.P.” Parisé, the hard-working left-winger from Smooth Rock Falls in my riding of Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, who scored two goals and two assists, and had the single most controversial moment in the series. I will have more on that in a minute.
    The series is often spoken of as a parable of the Cold War these days, but I doubt that anyone playing in the series was thinking of that. The players went out there for eight games and, through grit and determination, brought this historic win home for our great nation. They inspired a generation of young people to embrace hockey and did so much to establish it as Canada’s national sport, to the extent that this House legally declared it as such in 1994.
    It is the historic moments that will be remembered forever across Canada. To quote commentator Foster Hewitt’s play-by-play at the end of game eight of the series, “Cournoyer has it on that wing. Here's a shot. Henderson made a wild stab for it and fell. Here's another shot! Right in front. They score! Henderson has scored for Canada!”
    Paul Henderson’s iconic game eight winning goal, often called “the goal of the century”, will always live on as part of the Canadian psyche. Phil Esposito’s seven goals and six assists set the pace for the entire series and, of course, J.P. Parisé’s frustration at the officiating in game eight that got him ejected for game misconduct is often cited as the turning point that led to less questionable calls on the ice and strengthened the rest of the team’s resolve.

  (1550)  

[Translation]

    I am proud to say that Parisé's name is now permanently commemorated on a recently inaugurated sign in his home town of Smooth Rock Falls, at the suggestion of Johnny Lemieux and with support from the town council. They wanted to be sure to pay tribute to J.P while also marking the 50th anniversary of the 1972 Summit Series.
    Parisé was touched to be selected to represent Canada internationally, but he was so respected in the NHL that he was asked to play for Team Canada as a surprise pick. He went on to enjoy a successful career in hockey, playing 890 games in the NHL, including two all-star games. He never won the Stanley Cup, but his widow, Donna, said that winning gold for Canada meant the world to him.

[English]

    I hope I was properly able to convey just how important this event was for the history of our nation.
     I will quote the lyrics of another Canadian legend, and I am not going to sing them, because I cannot do them justice. Maybe the member for Timmins—James Bay would have been able to, but not me. This is from the Tragically Hip singer Gord Downie:
    

If there's a goal that everyone remembers, it was back in ol' 72
We all squeezed the stick and we all pulled the trigger
And all I remember is sitting beside you

     I have also been lobbied by my colleague, the MP for Windsor West, to put in a selfless plug to have a member of the team, Paul Henderson, inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, and I was pleased to do that.
    I thank members for their attention and, more importantly, I thank team Canada from 1972 for all it has done for this country.
    Mr. Speaker, much has been said already about the Summit Series win. To be honest, I was born more than a decade after we won, so I think I will share more about the legacy that the team left us.
    First is this idea of a best-on-best tournament. If it were not for these players at the Summit Series, would we ever have seen Gretzky pass to Lemieux to win the 1987 Canada Cup? Would we ever have seen “Sid the Kid” at the time score the “Golden Goal” in Vancouver 2010? That is part of the legacy that this team left for us.
    It is also these players from across the country who bring us such pride. We heard about northern Ontario, and I will offer the same plug for Waterloo region: the late Bill Goldsworthy from Waterloo, Rod Seiling from Elmira, and Don Awrey from Kitchener. They make us all proud.
    Last, of course, is Mr. Paul Henderson, not just with the last goal, but the game-winning goal in games six, seven and eight, and not just as a player but as a minister, a motivational speaker and an author. Many Canadians have had the honour of meeting Mr. Henderson over the years. In my case, I had that chance many years ago, and he was introduced by his niece as “uncle Paul”. What I remember most is how kind, gracious and humble he was. In fact, he might be the only person in this country who does not think he belongs in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
    These players brought together this country back in 1972, and they brought together this House in a spirit of unity today with their legacy. I thank them for bringing pride to our country then and now.

  (1555)  

    Honourable colleagues, distinguished guests, hockey fans and hockey legends, I have kept the last word for myself.
    Every Canadian baby boomer remembers that day, long ago. Today's schoolchildren could not even imagine the excitement their grandparents felt about watching television during the school day at school. A few young people today would hardly recognize the then cutting-edge technology, the massive, box-like TVs, which were dragged into the classrooms and into the libraries so that we could all watch the game. Our excitement was all about the game: our game, Canada's game.

[Translation]

    For many, the result of this game between Canada and the former USSR held a more nuanced and complex geopolitical significance. Everyone across the country knew that they were experiencing a historic moment. It was also an inspiring moment. How many new players, and undoubtedly female players, put on skates and jumped on the ice after the winning goal by Paul Henderson in the last minute of the game?

[English]

    Sporting events make magic when they bring people together. All of you made magic on the ice all those years ago. For that, we are all very grateful.
    It is now my pleasure to invite all honourable members to meet our special guests in the Speaker’s dining room located in room 233-S behind the chamber. I look forward to seeing you.

[Translation]

    I look forward to welcoming you at the reception to be held immediately after the committee of the whole rises.
    Merci beaucoup. Thank you very much. Meegwetch.

Government Orders

[Government Orders]

  (1600)  

[English]

Cost of Living Relief Act, No. 1

    I wish to inform the House that, because of the suspension of the sitting and the proceedings in committee of the whole, Government Orders will be extended by 49 minutes.

  (1605)  

     He said: Madam Speaker, before I begin, I would like to ask for unanimous consent to split my time with my colleague, the hon. parliamentary secretary to the government House leader.
    Does the hon. minister have unanimous consent?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
     Madam Speaker, thank you, to you and your colleagues, for that exceptional moment with the legends of the 1972 Summit Series. I was two years old at the time, but that series, its famous goal and all it meant for Canada has followed me, as it has followed Canadians, throughout my lifetime.
    It is my pleasure indeed to launch today's debate on Bill C-30, the cost of living relief act, our government's proposal to double the goods and services tax credit for six months and deliver targeted support to Canadians who need it the most. Essentially, it is a bill that would make sure Canadians, especially the most vulnerable among us, get more money back in their pockets.

[Translation]

    This important bill will provide additional support to to the roughly 11 million people and families who already receive the tax credit, including approximately half of Canadian families with children and more than half of Canadian seniors.

[English]

    It would mean up to an extra $234 for single Canadians without children and nearly $500 in the pockets of couples with two children. Seniors would receive an extra $225 on average. This is additional support for roughly 11 million eligible people and families, including about half of Canadian families with children and more than half of Canadian seniors. This legislation is part of a new package of support, which includes a Canada dental benefit and a one-time top-up to the Canada housing benefit.
     If the House works together to pass these pieces of legislation, up to half a million children under 12 will be able to see a dentist, some for the first time. Low-income renters, some of the most vulnerable among us, would receive a little extra breathing room. These supports build on our existing affordability plan, which has been putting more money in the pockets of Canadians all year long through the enhanced Canada workers benefit and through cutting child care fees in half by the end of this year, something that is already saving families in my home province of Alberta $5,600 this year.
    We are supporting Canadians by increasing the old age security by 10% for seniors 75 and older and by doubling the Canada student grant until July 2023. Under our plan, a couple in Thunder Bay with an income of $45,000 and a child in day care could receive about an additional $7,800 above their existing benefits this year. A single recent graduate in Edmonton with an entry-level job and an income of $24,000 could receive about an additional $1,300 in new and enhanced benefits.

[Translation]

    A senior with a disability in Trois‑Rivières could receive over $2,500 more this year than they did last year.
    In short, the support measures that we have put in place for Canadians who most need this support, for the most vulnerable, represent real money for them this year, at exactly the right time.

[English]

    Canadians are facing rising costs and difficult decisions about how to afford the groceries they need or the rent at the end of the month. We want these Canadians to know that I understand, and our government understands, how challenging these past months, and indeed these last two years, have been. However, we also want them to know that their government has a plan and that we will be there for them. We are supporting Canadians who need it the most: our lowest-paid workers, low-income renters and families who cannot afford to have their kids see a dentist.
     We are doing it in a responsible way that will not further increase inflation, something that would make life more expensive for everyone for years to come. The rising costs, driven by a global pandemic and by Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine, were not of Canada's making, but we will ensure the solutions are.

[Translation]

    As Canadians cut back on their spending, our government will do the same. We will do our part not to throw fuel on the inflationary fire. We are committed to finding $9 billion in government savings in our spring budget and to move toward a smaller and smaller deficit.
    This year, Canada had the lowest deficit and the lowest net debt-to-GDP ratio in the G7, and Moody's, S&P and DBRS reaffirmed Canada's AAA credit rating.

  (1610)  

[English]

    The targeted relief measures we introduced on Tuesday have an additional cost of just 0.1% of Canada's GDP. This legislation is about balancing fiscal responsibility with compassion. The support is the right thing to do at the right time. Canada can afford to be compassionate to the most vulnerable among us, and that is exactly what we will be.
    This week we learned that inflation in Canada is at 7%, which is down from 7.6% in July and down from 8.1% in June. While these numbers are still too high, the trend is encouraging.

[Translation]

    The Bank of Canada has the tools and the mandate it needs to fight inflation in Canada. Global supply chains are getting sorted out. The price of gas in Canada and around the world is dropping. Today, we are dealing with the impacts of a crisis that occurs only once in a generation, but we will find out way through, as we did with everything that has happened over the past two years.
    As we help the most vulnerable Canadians deal with the increased cost of living, our priority over the next few months will be to ensure that our economy is growing, that our businesses have the workers they need, and that Canadians can continue to find good, rewarding jobs that pay well.

[English]

    The global economy needs what Canada produces: the food to feed the world, the natural resources and critical minerals entire countries and industries depend upon, and so much more. We will provide the goods our democratic allies need today, and we will provide the goods they will need tomorrow, all while providing great jobs here in Canada, and together we will build a net-zero future around the world. We will do so in a way that creates long-term sustainable jobs for Canadians from one part of this country to the other.
    Our government wants to make sure Canadians and the Canadian economy come through this challenging economic period as quickly as possible and we are ready to thrive when we do. That means building an economy that works for everyone, a Canada where everyone can earn a decent living for an honest day's work and a Canada where nobody gets left behind. That is our focus and our commitment to Canadians.

[Translation]

    I urge all of my colleagues in all parties to help get this bill passed so that we can make the cost of living more affordable for all Canadians.

[English]

    I am calling on all parliamentarians from all parties to work with us to get this legislation passed and to get this support to Canadians. Our constituents want to see us working on their behalf, not playing games. They want to see us moving forward, not moving backward with delays and procedural tactics.
    To all of us in the House, the winners on the ice in 1972 showed us how to get it done then, let us all work together now and get this done for Canadians today.
    Madam Speaker, I would like to ask the minister to reflect on a quote and answer a question.
    Avery Shenfeld, the chief economist at CIBC, said, “In a period of high inflation and excess demand, cutting taxes or handing out cheques can add fuel to the inflationary fire, and make the job of a central bank that’s raising rates to cool demand all that more troublesome.”
    The government spent this whole summer in repose. I imagine its members were polling, but they did not do the hard work. In their budget this spring, they talked about a policy review to reprioritize spending to cut back wasteful spending. Why did they not do that hard work so that when they presented this tax relief to the low-income families who are going to depend on it, the inflation concerns were at least diminished, if not, on a one-for-one basis, removed?
    Why does the government continue to spend and make things worse? Why is it not doing the hard work of finding equivalent cuts?
    Madam Speaker, the hon. member from the Conservative Party is completely wrong with his assertions. We are investing in the lives of 11 million Canadians and families, and we are doing so with $3.2 billion in new spending against a total size of our economy of $2.7 trillion. We are talking about just over 1/1,000th of the size of our economy. That will not keep inflation rising.
    Going from one economist to another, Trevor Tombe, who is one of the best economists the country has, said, “When you unpack the data to see what the drivers of inflation are, most of it, by a pretty wide margin, is tied to global factors...Canadian federal government spending or transfers or tax changes really wouldn't have a big effect.”
    We are doing the responsible thing by targeting measures, supports to those who need it the most, and making sure we are not increasing inflation to make the job of the Bank of Canada that much harder. We are focused on Canadians, with a real plan and real results.

  (1615)  

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I thank the minister for his speech. Bill C‑30 talks about increasing the GST rebate. That is a good measure that could have been brought in sooner.
    This measure was announced at the same time as the measures in Bill C‑31 concerning a dental plan and rent assistance. However, if we look closely at the bill, the rent assistance is provided through the Canada housing benefit. This benefit does not exist in Quebec because it already had a program in place, and so the right to opt out with full compensation. The bill does not mention that right, however. There is no mention of harmonization. The same goes for the dental plan. The plan proposed in the bill would apply to children 11 and under. Quebec's program applies to children 10 and under. Again, there is no plan for harmonization.
    Will the government commit to revising Bill C‑31 to account for the programs that already exist in Quebec? Is the government simply ignoring Quebec yet again?
    Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for his multiple questions. Looking at Bill C-30, which is before us today, it is clear that we are going to double the GST credit. That is very important. We are hoping to have the Bloc's support so that we can get this bill passed.
    I just want to address the dental care issue. My colleague noted the age limits and the programs that exist in Quebec. In Quebec, the dental plan covers children under the age of 9. For the country as a whole, we are talking about children under the age of 12. We are already aware of that. With respect to the housing benefit, we will certainly be working closely with Quebec on this. We know how to collaborate with Quebec. We see Quebec. Quebec is part of Canada, which is moving forward in the world.
    We will be there for Quebeckers and Canadians during this inflationary cycle.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, the inflationary pressures that too many Canadian families are experiencing right now are not new. They have been with us for most of this year, as far back as early spring. In fact, it was back in May of this year that the NDP used its opposition day motion to call for precisely this measure.
    The truth is that families in my riding, across my province and across this country could have used this help a lot earlier. Why did the Liberals wait until this moment in time to finally get this much-needed help to struggling families right across this country?
    Madam Speaker, I think there are two things at play here.
    One is to make sure that when we are in a global inflationary period caused by Putin's war in Ukraine, supply chains that really have not been unsnarled yet from the pandemic and China's zero-COVID policy, we take a careful approach to make sure the measures we have are targeted so they do not increase inflation and make the Bank of Canada's job harder. That is one piece of this.
    When it comes to making sure that people, this spring and throughout the summer, had benefits they could call on to make life more affordable, we passed the increase to the Canada workers benefit, we made sure we signed child care deals with everybody across the country, we made sure we had supports and—
    We have to resume debate.
    The hon. parliamentary secretary to the government House leader.
    Madam Speaker, if I may, just 15 minutes ago we had a wonderful experience here with the Summit Series hockey legends on the floor of the House of Commons. What a wonderful treat that was. I was in grade 5 at the time, and I can recall the overwhelmingly wonderful and prideful feelings back in 1972. Here we are celebrating it 50 years later. I did get my picture with Paul Henderson, which I thought was quite cool.
    Having said that, we are debating Bill C-30. This is a piece of legislation that every member of the House of Commons should be voting in favour of. We often hear about inflation. When we think of inflation and the impact it is having on communities, we should recognize the fact that this bill would put more money in the pockets of millions of Canadians in every region of our country.
    This is really positive and helpful at a time when Canadians are looking for strong leadership from Ottawa. I hope that every member of the House will not only vote in favour of the legislation, but recognize the importance of the quick passage of the legislation. We could make a strong, collective statement to Canadians today by supporting this initiative.
    We might differ on this. Actually, I should not even say “might”. We differ greatly if we contrast the Conservative Party with the Liberal Party, the party in government. I will spend some time on that contrast.
    The most significant thing for me going into this session, the point that I really wanted to emphasize, which is something the Prime Minister and other members of the Liberal caucus have talked a great deal about, is that we want an economy that works for all Canadians. That is something we are committed to as a government.
    From the very beginning, we have had a Prime Minister who talked about the importance of Canada's middle class and of forming government policy that helps Canada's middle class and those who are striving to become a part of it. We can look at the initiatives we have taken as a government, not only today with a legislative initiative that will lead to budgetary measures, but from the very beginning. We have brought up issues, and we could ask where the Conservative Party has been.
    As an example of that, there is the additional tax on the wealthiest 1% of Canadians. The Conservative Party voted against that particular tax. The Conservatives might ultimately argue that it is tax and they do not like taxes, and that is why they voted against it, but it was a tax on Canada's wealthiest, asking for that fair share.
    Shortly after, or virtually at the same time, we brought in percentage tax breaks for Canada's middle class. Despite all of the pomp and ceremony of the Conservative leadership race, today's leader of the Conservative Party voted against that tax break for Canada's middle class.
    There are different ways that we can support Canadians. Today we have a very targeted approach and a way to ensure we are putting money in pockets, real money, by giving a tax benefit, the goods and services tax benefit.

  (1620)  

    We have done it in other ways too. A good example is the Canada child benefit. Again, when bringing forward this program, there was no sliding scale of any form. It was the individuals who are finding it a little more difficult, as maybe their disposable income is not quite high, versus the multi-millionaires. Why not establish a program that would ensure there is a higher sense of equity and fairness? That is what we did.
    Take the Canada child benefit, for example, in Winnipeg North. I estimate that close to $10 million a month is going into Winnipeg North alone, and I am one of 338 constituencies. This gives us a sense of the commitment.
    This morning we were debating legislation in regard to dental care for children under the age of 12. Again, it would appear as if the Conservatives are going to vote against that piece of legislation. Imagine the money this would put into the pockets of families. We are talking about hundreds of thousands of families. As a result, they would not have to pay for their child under 12 who needs to get some dental work done. It is legislation that would help Canadians.
    We talked about the goods and services tax benefit, which is a positive thing. The doubling of that credit is going to have a very real and tangible impact.
    Based on what we saw this morning and based on what we have seen before from the Conservatives, they talk a good line or like to think they talk a good line. If they are genuine with many of the things they say, this is the type of legislation they should be voting in favour of.
    It is interesting when they downplay the importance of government programs. I raised this morning during debate the first universal national child care program and the positive impact it is going to have. Imagine the hundreds of millions of dollars that will be going to families to support child care. We have seen first-hand the impact it had in the province of Quebec. We know the benefits of it. Again, that is money that is going to people, much like the legislation here is giving real money to people. The benefits are overwhelming, yet the Conservatives oppose it and talks about getting rid of that particular program.
    They talk about the CPP. Remember, in negotiations that had taken place, we got provinces and stakeholders onside to see an increase in CPP. The Conservatives call that a tax. It is not a tax; it is an investment. It is workers today who will be able to retire with more money. That is what this is. The Conservatives try to put a twist on it to try to give the impression that it is an outright tax. I think that does a disservice.
    I believe we look, in many ways, to leaders of our communities to provide the information and assurances that we have a government that truly cares and wants to advance good, sound government policy. Over the last number of years, including prepandemic, during the pandemic and now today, we have continued to bring forward legislative and budgetary motions and bills and legislation to advance the interests of Canadians from coast to coast to coast.
    Today's bill would have an impact on close to 11 million people. Hopefully the Conservatives will not only support it but want to see its quick passage.

  (1625)  

    Madam Speaker, I have three quick questions for the parliamentary secretary.
    First, would he agree that every MP in this House should be able to speak to any bill if it means something to their constituents?
    Second, I am wondering about the member's sort of obsession with Conservatives. He mentioned the word “Conservative” at least 10 times today in his speech, 381 times in this session of Parliament and 2,899 times in this House of Commons.
    Finally, does the parliamentary secretary support tax cuts to our low-income Canadians, our seniors and our most vulnerable?
    Madam Speaker, at times it can be a challenge to hold the Conservatives accountable for all the weird things they say, and that often means that I have to bring them into the public discussion. I am pleased to hear that the member is doing word counts of how often I am saying things. I can appreciate that.
    In regard to members being able to speak, even when I was in opposition, I always believed that there is a need to look at ways in which the Standing Orders can be modified or changed to modernize the House of Commons. I would suggest to the member that we could find different ways to do that, whether it is through a dual chamber or what I call “debate Fridays”. There are opportunities for us to enhance the numbers of hours of debate, which would hopefully encourage more people to engage in the debate.

  (1630)  

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I thank the parliamentary secretary for his speech.
    As I said to his colleague, the minister, we are in favour of increasing the GST credit as set out in Bill C‑30. That is actually something we have been calling for, and we think it should have been done long ago to help the less fortunate fight inflation.
    The measures in Bill C‑30 were proposed at the same time as those in Bill C‑31. I have two questions for my hon. colleague.
    Members of Parliament were invited to a technical briefing on Bill C‑31, but it happened long after the one for journalists. Does he think it is right to put the media ahead of parliamentarians, the people who pass bills?
    Bill C‑31 includes a $500 rental subsidy for 1.8 million people. That adds up to $900 million, yet they are calling it $1.2 billion. What is up with the extra $300 million? Is it for management fees? Is it for WE Charity? Can he explain that disconnect?

[English]

    Madam Speaker, If we take a look at Bill C-31, we see the benefits that the member highlights for people who are renting, but the real nugget in that bill, from my perspective, is the dental program, which is going to assist children in being able to get dental work that might not take place otherwise. At the same time, we can ensure that people who need that dental work are being subsidized as much as possible, although it may not be 100%, as there are some limits to it.
    That was just this morning. This afternoon we are bring forward another bill, which looks at doubling the tax credit, and that is going to be helping Canadians. I think what we are seeing as we come back into this session is a government agenda that is dealing with a very serious—
    Questions and comments; the hon. member for Edmonton Griesbach.
    Madam Speaker, I want to thank my hon. colleague for what I think is a very important piece of legislation that will help many Canadians from coast to coast to coast.
    However, I do want to mention that the New Democratic Party tabled this very same request of the government last May. All of a sudden it took New Democrats to force the government to finally act and to see results for Canadians. We have been clear, as a party, that we want to see results for Canadians, as they are seeing one of the greatest cost-of-living challenges in a generation. This support is needed. Albertans, where I am from, are just $200 away from not making their rent.
    Why did the government not do this sooner, when we called for it?
    Madam Speaker, the Minister of Finance has been very open in listening to all members of Parliament on all sides of the House. Over the last three years we have brought in all sorts of programs, whether it is CERB, direct payments for seniors and people with disabilities or support for students. There has been a smorgasbord of all sorts of programs over the last three years and up to today, not to mention the programs prior to the pandemic itself.

[Translation]

    Order. It is my duty pursuant to Standing Order 38 to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands, The Environment; the hon. member for Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry, Passports; the hon. member for Courtenay—Alberni, Health.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I am pleased to participate in the debate today on Bill C-30, an act to amend the Income Tax Act.
    Before I go any further, let us all recognize that this bill ultimately proposes, for six months on a temporary basis, to increase the GST credit for those earning up to $49,200, or to $58,500 if it happens to be a household with children. That is when the benefit will be fully phased out. The cost of doing this will be around $2.5 billion. To put it another way, this will be yet another $2.5 billion being injected into our economy, where it will be spent driving, up further demand. This is the inflationary cycle that we are in.
     Let us take a moment to stop and think about that. I am certain that I am not alone in hearing from citizens who are facing monthly mortgage payment increases they cannot afford. The stress and anxiety this is causing to many Canadian families is severe. However, let us also recognize that not everyone is impacted by this. Many of those who are wealthy are not only not impacted; some are actually coming out ahead and earning more interest on their savings and investments.
    However, some of the financially most vulnerable, often working families with good jobs and living in established neighbourhoods, are the hardest hit. Let us keep in mind that they did not create this situation, but they are certainly being disproportionately impacted by it.
    What have we heard from the government until only recently? Let us harken back to June, just as this place was preparing for the summer break. My office and, I am confident, a large majority of other members' offices, were getting call after call from people struggling with $2-a-litre gas, runaway grocery costs and rents. Conservative MPs, in question period after question period, were calling for the government to hear these calls and to act.
     What did we get? We got a lecture by the finance minister on Bay Street, essentially telling our constituents that they never had it so good. The government tried to repackage its last two budgets as a so-called affordability plan, claiming that benefits were tied to inflation. I should note that the inflation was from last year and does not reflect the record high inflation of this year, so those CPI increases are from last year. It is a big shortfall that many are upset about. The minister claimed at the time that this was what was needed when clearly it was not.
    Then what happened? Silence. There was so much silence that I have called it the “summer of silence”, as the government appeared to shut down. Sure, more taxpayer-funded projects were being announced. They were announced almost daily, keeping the ”Ottawa spends” Twitter account posting at a record pace, but what did the government do while Canadians saw more inflation records and higher interest rates? They saw nothing in response from their federal government. Believe me, I tried to look for statements with any recognition of what Canadians were going through.
    What we can assume is that the Liberals spent the summer polling. I can only assume that when they came back, they did not like the numbers they were seeing, and that is why we are here today. Only now, after Conservatives have been banging on pots and pans about gas, groceries and rents, as well as increased mortgage costs, has the government finally conceded that it was wrong on inflation.
    Do members remember that it was the Minister of Finance who claimed that deflation was the major concern and that the Conservatives had it all mixed up? Then when inflation was heading through the roof, the Liberals pretended that it was not. Wrong again. Then they said that their housing budget in the spring was actually an affordability plan, but it turned out that it did little for either. They were three strikes out.
    While the government posted quarter after quarter of record revenues due to inflated prices, Canadians slipped further and further behind. When the Canadian public needed them, the only action they received was a government that acted as if it were uninterested, disconnected and distant. That is remarkable for a government that likes to say it has Canadians' backs. Here we are, months after the fact, discussing a payment that will not likely help those that it targets—students, persons with disabilities, pensioners and low-income families—until November or December, at best. How much suffering will happen before these payments finally arrive in the mail?

  (1635)  

    Inflation, it is said, is a silent tax that predominantly hurts the most vulnerable. I am sure any of the people who have spoken with me will tell us that is true, but what is also true is that the pain I speak of goes much further than just those targeted in Bill C-30. There are others who are also finding it harder and harder.
    That list with the latest GDP projections downgraded our GDP for this year by a full percentage point. With growing unemployment and with new payroll and carbon taxes set to increase in the new year—and this before we take into account higher interest rates—there will be more “middle class and those seeking to join it” who will not be doing well.
    Let me explain by returning back to Bill C-30, the bill that is essentially capped and fully phased out for those families making $58,500, which includes the vast majority of working families who are being hit the hardest. I do not want to make my comments sound partisan for the sake of being partisan, but our banks are not partisan. Their chief economists are typically offering unbiased advice, and they are all clear that the government cannot continue to pour more fuel on this inflationary fire. The reason I reference government spending is that it is something within our control to deal with.
    Let me provide another example of something we can control. We have all watched skyrocketing gas prices dramatically increase inflation. Of course, with so many of our goods being delivered to market through our supply chains, which are burning gasoline to do that, there is a serious compounding of higher gas prices. That makes everything more expensive. This is one lesson we learned clearly over these past months. That is precisely what a carbon tax does: It drives up the cost of fuel and, by extension, inflation.
     I know some members will say that there are rebates. Here is the thing. For those like the Minister of Finance who live in a city like Toronto and do not own a car, I have no doubt they would come out ahead with the carbon tax rebates, but if they lived in a place like Hedley, B.C., in my riding, largely because it is the only place where you can find affordable housing, they would not come out ahead. Why? It is because Hedley has no hospital. It has no high school. It has no major grocery store or insurance agent. To access these services, they would need to either drive to Princeton, Keremeos or in some cases Penticton. That is true for so many rural municipalities across Canada. For them, carbon taxes are devastating. They do not treat people equally and they favour those who live in larger urban areas.
    Why should Canadians be discriminated against because of their postal code? No one living in a rural community pays less income tax than a person living in Vancouver or Toronto, yet the federal Liberal government does not treat them equally. That is why our official opposition caucus will continue to call on this Liberal government to scrap the carbon tax. None of our major trading partners has it. It is time to recognize that.
    We will also see an increase in payroll taxes in the new year. Both CPP and EI premiums will increase. This will result in more money coming to Ottawa and less money staying in the household incomes of Canadians. At a time of higher inflation, with crushing interest payments, this makes things worse, not better. That is why our opposition caucus has called on the current government to stop all tax increases. We know the Liberal government likes to say that it is not its fault, but there are other countries that did precisely as Canada did and have similar problems. In some cases, it is even worse.
    None of this changes the fact that we have a serious affordability crisis here in Canada. We would not be here debating this small band-aid of a bill were that not the case. That is ultimately the problem. In this case, providing some of the GST they have paid back to them at such a challenging time is something we, as the official opposition, would support, no differently than we would have supported GST relief on gas and diesel. Unfortunately, that measure failed to win support, as it is ideologically against the NDP and Liberal desire to see higher gas prices here in Canada, regardless of what the benefits would be for the general population.

  (1640)  

    Earlier this week, Bank of Canada deputy governor Paul Beaudry said, in hindsight, governments and central banks should have withdrawn stimulus measures much earlier, as their economies recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic, which likely would have put a lid on inflation. They, of course, did not do this, but it is a clear admission from the Bank of Canada that the “always be spending” approach favoured by the Liberal government has played a huge role in how we got here. If we listen to most of the major banks, inflation is not something the Liberal government can simply spend its way out of, and I worry about that, because unlike previous Liberal governments, the present Liberal government and the Prime Minister seem to have no understanding that we cannot spend Canadians out of inflation.
    We are told that we may be in this situation for potentially the next two years and that interest rates may have to go even higher, if the Liberal government continues to spend. That is a point I made earlier to the Minister of Tourism. Why did they not use the summer to actually do the hard work that was in the budget, where they said they had identified billions of dollars in potential savings through a policy review? Why did they not pare back that spending over the summer and then produce this bill, having done the hard work of trying to reduce inflation while helping Canadians?
    However, they did not do that. They do not, like our leader, the member for Carleton, have a pay-as-we-go rule, where we are trying to make sure Canadians are getting maximum value for every dollar that is used and that it is to their benefit. Unfortunately, the government seems to only know one lever, and that is to spend.
    There are Canadian households that are barely hanging on, and they cannot afford any higher interest rates, nor can they afford two years of more pain and suffering. I am certain that every member of this House has likely heard from citizens in dire straits right now. Do we listen to them? Do we listen to experts and central bankers who say to stop the spending, or do we continue to have the Prime Minister's Office dictate more never-ending spending to help fuel this inflationary fire?
    Let us not forget that just two years ago the Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem said, “If you have got a mortgage or if you are considering making a major purchase...you can be confident as rates will be low for a long time.”
    Some of the people who followed that advice in good faith are now in a dire financial situation. I do not say that to point fingers of blame, because that helps no one in this situation, and likely no one in this situation will be helped by the bill we are here debating today. I point this out because we need to recognize that many of the Canadians who worked hard, who followed the rules and did all of the right things are suffering right now, and the government needs to recognize that.
    The