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Monday, September 26, 2022

Emblem of the House of Commons

House of Commons Debates

Volume 151
No. 102


Monday, September 26, 2022

Speaker: The Honourable Anthony Rota

    The House met at 11 a.m.


Private Members' Business

[Private Members' Business]



An Act respecting the French language

    The House resumed from May 9 consideration of the motion that Bill C‑238, An Act respecting the French language, be read the second time and referred to a committee.
    Mr. Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to speak to the House about Bill C‑238 regarding the French language.
    Everyone in Canada cares about protecting the French language. The latest census data show that French is in decline in Quebec and the rest of Canada. We must act swiftly and collectively. Our government agrees with the Government of Quebec on this matter. I think that everyone in the House has a shared objective to protect and promote the French language, although we disagree on how to do so.
    The approach to the future of French in Canada set out under Bill C‑238, introduced by the Bloc Québécois, is very narrow. This bill takes a Quebec-centric approach to our language regime without regard for francophones across Canada, from coast to coast. In addition to the millions of Quebeckers who share the common language of French, there are more than one million francophones outside of Quebec who live, work and thrive in French. My francophone community in Orléans is just one example.
    The Bloc Québécois is calling for the recognition of Quebec's language regime, enforcement of the Charter of the French Language for federally regulated private businesses located in Quebec and the requirement that those hoping to obtain Canadian citizenship while living in Quebec have an adequate knowledge of French.
    Although we share the Bloc Québécois's concern over the future of French in North America, we do not agree with their solution. We believe that we must take a targeted approach to protect and promote French across Canada. That is what our government proposed in Bill C‑13, an act to amend the Official Languages Act, to enact the use of French in federally regulated private businesses act and to make related amendments to other acts, which we introduced in the House on March 1.
    It is important to note that Bill C‑238 adopts a narrow view of the future of French, while our Bill C‑13 recognizes not only the linguistic reality of Quebec, but also the language regimes of other provinces and territories in Canada. Let us be clear, Bill C‑238 does nothing for francophones outside Quebec, while Bill C‑13 plans to create new rights for consumers and employees who work at federally regulated private businesses in Quebec, but also in regions outside Quebec with a high francophone presence.
    Comparing the provisions of both bills, it is clear that the vision is narrower in one case and broader in the other, that the approach is exclusive in one case and more inclusive in the other, and that the priority is provincial in one case and national in the other. Bill C‑238 will fail to meet the expectations and demands of the majority of Canadians with respect to our two official languages.
    This Bloc Québécois bill simply does not meet the priorities of francophone minority communities in provinces and territories outside Quebec. Bill C‑238 does not meet the needs of English-speaking communities in Quebec.
    For these reasons, the government cannot support Bill C‑238. As I mentioned at the beginning, we are not against Bill C‑238's objectives. We are opposing the bill because there is so much missing in terms of adapting it to the reality of official language minority communities.


    In other words, its vision is too narrow and lacks ambition. We are against Bill C‑238 because we want to go much further. The measures in our Bill C‑13 are ambitious and fine-tuned to meet communities' current and future needs.
    Bill C‑13 covers broader segments of our Canadian linguistic regime and will have a real impact on the lives of Canadians. It covers the appointment of Supreme Court of Canada justices, enhances the Commissioner of Official Languages' powers, supports official language learning and addresses francophone immigration. In short, Bill C‑13 does more of what Canadians want than Bill C‑238 ever could.
    Bill C‑13 offers a vision for francophones in Quebec and for all Canadians, because the Official Languages Act must reflect their needs and realities too. We are all aware of the facts. Canada's francophone population is declining; our government has clearly acknowledged that. We are also aware that Canadians want to be able to learn official languages. They want to be able to use them in their everyday lives. They want to enjoy the benefits of having French in Canada and of living in an officially bilingual country. Our Bill C‑13 meets those needs and puts forward a real, pan-Canadian vision for Canadians.
    It is just such a pan-Canadian vision that is lacking in Bill C‑238. That is why we cannot support this bill. Together, we can reverse the decline of the French language, but we all have to work together to make that happen. That means reaching out to official language minority communities and coming up with policies and programs that meet their needs.
    To conclude, let me say to my fellow members that I hope all parties will work with us to pass Bill C‑13 as quickly as possible.


    Madam Speaker, it would be a mistake to oppose Bills C-13 and C-238, so I cannot agree with my colleague.
    Bill C-238 aims to amend the Canada Labour Code, the Official Languages Act, the Canada Business Corporations Act and the Citizenship Act. I would like to start by telling my colleagues that, when they vote on this bill, they will not be doing Quebec any favours. What they will be doing by voting for Bill C-238 is correcting a historical error and giving justice where justice is due.
    Everyone understands that Canada was founded by the French then conquered by the British a very long time ago. The two peoples have since lived together in times of peace and in more difficult times. Our history includes victories for some, and bitter losses for others. French Canadians became Quebeckers and chose to assert themselves, shouting until they were blue in the face that their culture, their identity and their language were precious to them.
    In 1977, under Camille Laurin, Quebec enacted the Charter of the French Language, also known as Bill 101. Bill 101 made French the official language of the Quebec government and courts. French was now recognized as the normal and everyday language of work in education, trade, communications and business. Bill 101 enshrined in law the fact that French was the language of the majority. The French language was precious and statistically a minority language within English-speaking North America. That is why it needed protection.
    Of course, not everyone was happy about Bill 101. Although it protected the anglophone minority in Quebec, which, incidentally, is the best-protected minority in Canada, the bill was challenged and cut back. Opponents tried to render it meaningless, and some of their efforts were successful.
    Now we are in 2022, and statisticians have confirmed that the French language is in decline in Quebec, especially in the magnificent island of Montreal. I remember walking with my son on Notre-Dame Street in the middle of Saint-Henri, a neighbourhood Yvon Deschamps described as a place where francophone workers and the poor lived and worked. I remember seeing that the snack bars had been replaced with Internet coffee shops with English names. A very nice student from Toronto who had come to work there as part of a French immersion program spoke to us in English and understood nothing of our “gibberish” as we spoke French. I asked for “un espresso, s’il vous plaît”, and he answered, in as friendly and innocent a manner as can be, “Sorry, I don’t speak French”. This experience was repeated throughout our walk down Notre-Dame Street. Not only was the street anglicized in terms of language, but also in terms of social context. We could have been in Toronto, or anywhere in the globalized world. There is not much difference between “un espresso” and “an espresso”, but, still, French did not seem to be important.
    Make no mistake: I have nothing against English. Rather, I am simply saying that I am pro-French. Coming back to the example I gave earlier, I find it curious that a student from Toronto who wants to broaden their horizons would come to Montreal, just to work in English in a café located in an area that was historically francophone but has since become primarily anglophone. So much for French immersion.
    Beyond the statistics pointing to the decline of French in Quebec, simply walking through the streets of Montreal confirms it. From Second Cup to Five Guys, my beloved French is suffering.
    It is important to understand that beyond fulfilling a simple communication function, language is also a political statement and, above all, a mindset. A bit of an explanation is in order.
    Let us start by asking the following question: What is language? It is, first and foremost, a matter of linguistics. Language must first be regarded as a system of signs connecting words, drawn from a lexicon and according to specific grammatical rules established by a syntax. Language is the ability to express an idea and communicate through a system of signs. This is where we have a problem.
    The rampant anglicization of Quebec society prevents people from thinking in French, creating in French and being French. Globalization, which made Céline Dion popular from Algeria to Indonesia, has also flattened cultures, all cultures except for one, the Anglo-Saxon culture. We were told that globalization liberated cultures whereas, in reality, it simply made people want to or have to live in English.
    Language is all about communicating and thinking. Globalization has brought with it the danger of what I call a single mindset, which occurs when what is essential is no longer distinguished from what is secondary, when far-reaching intellectual projects face the powerful inertia of pervasive mediocrity and small-mindedness, and when tastes and ideas become homogeneous.


     It is the very perception of existence that is at stake when we talk about a single mindset. English dominates the world and now serves as the platform for this single mindset. That is why we must resist. That is why we are studying Bill C-238 today.
    Six living Quebec premiers supported the Quebec government's motion to the effect that the French requirement should apply to federally regulated businesses in Quebec. The fact that it is not being applied is anachronistic and can only be aimed at exacerbating the decline of the French language.
    The former Bill C-223 proposed that those applying for citizenship in Quebec would need to possess an adequate knowledge of French. The fact that this requirement has not already been implemented is equally anachronistic and again can only be aimed at exacerbating the decline of the French language in Quebec.
    This is why the Bloc Québécois is categorically opposed to the federal government's attempt to supersede provincial legislation in Quebec with its own law.
    The federal government needs to recognize that the Government of Quebec must remain in charge of language planning within Quebec. Language is a fundamental aspect of the specificity and identity of the Quebec nation.
     This is the most important part: We must preserve French in order to preserve freedom of thought. That is why I suggest that members of Parliament right a historical wrong and vote in favour of Bill C-238.
    Madam Speaker, I am very happy to be participating in this debate. Before getting to the crux of the matter, I would like to send my best wishes to all of the Canadians and Quebeckers affected by hurricane Fiona. We were all stunned to see the devastation in the Atlantic provinces, as well as in the Magdalen Islands and on the Lower North Shore in Quebec. Our hearts go out to the brave residents who must now cope with the aftermath.
    As the Deputy Premier of Quebec said, there were no serious injuries or deaths in the Magdalen Islands or on the Lower North Shore. The rest is just material things, but I do realize that people need material things to live. I would like to send my regards to the people who are facing this reality today, and I extend my heartfelt thanks to the first responders helping out on the ground in every province, including the military and public safety personnel.
    I just want them to know that all of us in the House of Commons are here for them. If anyone needs anything at all at the federal level, Canada will be there to respond. This situation affects us all. Nature is bigger than any of us could ever be.
    Today we are discussing the French language. Today we are discussing the official languages. Today we are discussing a reality that is demographically indisputable: The French language is in decline in Canada and Quebec.
    This is nothing new at the sociological, demographic or geographical level. Consider the following: The population of North America, by which I mean Canada and the United States, our closest neighbour, is almost 380 million. Of that number, fewer than eight million speak French. Everyone else speaks English as their primary language.
    That is like meeting a group of six people, five of whom speak English and one of whom speaks French. That is not quite precise, but I am rounding off the numbers to give an example that speaks for itself. From a mathematical point of view, the French-speaking person will feel dominated by the other five, who speak English. That person will feel strongly tempted to speak the language of the other five.
    As I will explain later, wanting to speak two languages does not mean that we want to obliterate our first language.
    In addition to this demographic reality that speaks for itself, the figures and the science show that the French language is indeed on the decline in Canada, especially in Quebec. According to the most recent figures from Statistics Canada, between 2016 and 2021, the number of French speakers went from 7.7 million to 7.8 million. Some of my colleagues may say that the opposite is true and that I am misleading the House by saying that the French language is in decline in Quebec when more people now speak French.
    It is important to put this in perspective. The proportion of French speakers has declined from 22.4% to 21.4%. Yes, Statistics Canada's figures show that the French language is in decline throughout Canada. The situation is the same in Quebec, only worse. Five years ago, there were 6.4 million people in Quebec whose first language was French. Today, there are 6.5 million. This is an increase in number, but a decrease in percentage, from 79% to 77.5%. We completely agree that the French language is in decline and that something must be done.
    We know that the New Brunswick, Quebec and federal governments are working to improve the situation. Bills have been tabled and passed. Quebec passed Bill 96 in June. It is now law.
    I will always sincerely respect my commitment. As an elected official at the federal level, I do not get involved in provincial affairs. I have enough on my plate without playing armchair quarterback. A bill was passed at the end of a debate last year to protect the French language. Was that a good thing or a bad thing? We will let the public decide.
    At the federal level, the government tabled Bill C-13, which is currently being considered.


    I will get back to this later, but I must say something first. It brings me no happiness to say it. I have the utmost respect for the woman herself, but when the government appoints someone as head of state who cannot speak both official languages, it is sending the wrong message. I have nothing against her, but I have a lot against the choice made by this government, which claims to be the great defender of the two official languages.
    It sends a very strong message about the person representing the British monarch, not only symbolically but in actual terms. The late Queen spoke both official languages remarkably well, as does the current King, perhaps not as well as his mother, but we salute his outstanding effort. The government's appointee speaks French less proficiently than the person she is representing. The government is sending the wrong message.
    We also understand that there is not a law in the world that could change anything about the reality people find themselves in today, whether they are accessing social media or any information that is disseminated around the world.
    That is what I want to talk about. It is not because francophones learn English that they want to set the French language aside. The two languages are not mutually exclusive. We need to stop seeing English as the language of the Plains of Abraham. Rather, it is the language that is often used around the world today. It does not mean that we want to eradicate the French language. On the contrary, we must share with the world the fact that we speak French, that we are proud to speak French and that this country received the first Europeans who just happened to be French, like Jacques Cartier and Champlain.
    Let us not forget former prime minister the Right Hon. Stephen Harper's lovely and meaningful custom of always starting his speeches in French wherever he was in the world, reminding people that Canada's first language was French.
    Yes, people will be tempted to learn English. The two languages are not mutually exclusive.
    One way we can make sure that francophones have an important place in our future is immigration policy. This is currently being debated in Quebec. Our history shows that the current debates on immigration in Quebec are nothing new.
    In 1968, the Union Nationale government of the late Daniel Johnson Sr. created the ministry of immigration. In 1971, Pierre Elliott Trudeau's Liberal federal government entered into the Lang-Cloutier agreement with the Quebec government, allowing it to deploy agents abroad to recruit French-speaking immigrants to Quebec. The agreement was renewed in 1975. We mentioned the Andras-Bienvenue agreement, which recognized Quebec's special needs. There was also the milestone Cullen-Couture agreement in 1978. That is important because it was entered into by a sovereigntist government. Minster Couture reached an agreement with the federalist Liberal government of Canada led by Mr. Trudeau: it was this agreement that recognized Quebec and gave it decision-making powers over its choice of immigrants. In 1991, there was the extremely important Gagnon-Tremblay-McDougall agreement between Mr. Bourassa's provincial government and the Right Hon. Brian Mulroney's federal government.
    In short, negotiations between the federal and provincial governments have been positive and productive for over 50 years now. Of course, they can always be better, but no one should think that the debate on immigration to strengthen the French fact in Quebec is brand new or that it was only sparked by some electoral fervour. Quebec and Ottawa have been getting along for more than half a century.
    I had a lot more to say but, unfortunately, my time is running out. I would remind the House that Bill C-13 provides an opportunity to overhaul the Official Languages Act. The Official Languages Act was created in 1969 by a previous government under Trudeau senior, and has been updated only once, in 1988, under Brian Mulroney. This needs to be done, and it must be done properly. We hope that Bill C-13 will be given a lot more teeth in order to help ensure the survival of the French language.


    Madam Speaker, I am pleased to take part in the second reading debate on Bill C-238, An Act respecting the French language. This bill was introduced by the member for Salaberry—Suroît, and I thank her for her work on it. The member has concerns about the future of the French language, as do I, and as do we all.
    I am proud to be a long-time member of the Standing Committee on Official Languages, which has been doing some very interesting work during this Parliament. I would also like to recognize my colleagues on the committee and to highlight the outstanding work being done by our official languages critic, the member for Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier.
    French is declining in Quebec. That is unfortunately a fact. The proportion of French speakers across Canada has fallen since the last census in 2016. In fact, even though the number of Canadians who speak French has increased from 7.7 million to 7.8 million, an increase of 100,000 people over five years, the proportion of Canadians whose first language is French has decreased. According to Statistics Canada, that number dropped from 22.2% in 2016 to 21.4% in 2021.
    If the trend continues, according to the famous formula, the weight of French in Canada will go into an irreversible decline. The same thing is happening even in Quebec. The proportion of people who use French fell from 79% to 77.5% over the same five-year period. It is urgent that we take action to halt the trend. The Conservative Party has always been a strong advocate for the French fact in Canada. Our country was born in French and must continue to live in French.
    The bill we are discussing today contains four parts that address four very different issues. Although all four parts involve the French language, the fact remains that it is difficult to combine four subjects, four issues, four laws in one private member's bill.
    I must say that one of the proposed changes rings a bell. I remember having the opportunity to study and vote in favour of Bill C-223, which the Conservatives supported at second reading before the last pointless election was called by the Liberal government less than a year ago. Yes, immigrants residing in Quebec should have an adequate knowledge of Quebec's French language. That is clear. No one is disputing that.
    At the time, my colleague from Kildonan—St. Paul explained that the Conservatives supported the principle behind Bill C-223 based on two fundamental Conservative Party principles. The first is the recognition of the Quebec nation, as recognized by former prime minister Stephen Harper. The second is our commitment to protecting its language and culture. At the time, we did not even get to vote on the bill at second reading. We did not even get a chance to study the bill in committee, which is unfortunate.
    I noticed that Bill C-238 contains three other measures. In addition to amending the Citizenship Act, the bill proposes amendments to three other acts, namely the Canada Business Corporations Act, the Official Languages Act and the Canada Labour Code.
    Bill C-238 proposes that the Canada Business Corporations Act be amended to add the following: “the name of a corporation that carries on business in the Province of Quebec shall meet the requirements of the Charter of the French Language.”
    It is important to bear in mind that Quebec passed Bill 96 only in June, which is not that long ago. On June 1, 2022, An Act respecting French, the official and common language of Québec, also known as Bill 96, received royal assent, bringing into effect several provisions amending the Charter of the French Language and about 20 other acts and regulations.
    The new charter sets out stricter requirements for public signs and posters bearing the company's name that are visible from outside premises, and French must be markedly predominant over any other language. The transition period for public signs and posters will end by May 2025. The Quebec government understood that it had to do something about the quality of signs and posters.
    However, the bill we are currently discussing focuses the name of a business or corporation as it appears in the articles of incorporation. I own a business myself, and that is how I interpret it. It is also important to note that the decline of French will not be solved by fixing articles of incorporation.


    Even if changes were made to company names in Quebec's business registry but not reflected in signs and posters outside, it would obviously not make a difference. The French language is in decline, and we need far more effective measures.
    Bill C-238 also amends the Canada Labour Code to subject it to the Charter of the French Language. As it happens, with respect to working in French, my colleagues and I will be studying the application of the Official Languages Act to workers.
    I would also like to ask the following question: Would it not have been better to propose a bill like Bill C‑238, which amends the charter, after the final version of the National Assembly's Bill 96 came out in June? We shall see. Perhaps this bill should have been tabled after Bill 96 was passed in Quebec. That would probably have made it easier to understand.
    Lastly, with respect to the Official Languages Act, as I was saying, the Standing Committee on Official Languages is already working to improve the substance of Bill C-13. If we want to amend the Official Languages Act, the committee study of Bill C‑13 provides the opportunity to do so. That is why I am convinced that it is by working hard to improve Bill C‑13 that we will achieve the objectives I share with Bill C‑238's sponsor, who is concerned, as I am, about the future of French not only in Canada, but in Quebec as well.
    It is no secret that this government has been rattled by non-stop scandals involving official languages since Bill C‑13 was tabled. The Minister of Official Languages only seems to be working part time, since she is responsible for two totally different departments. This government almost sued B.C. francophones because the Minister of Justice was working against the Minister of Official Languages. There is a lot of coordination that should be done, but the government is not doing it. This government holds unilingual briefing sessions and is not even ashamed of it.
     The Standing Committee on Official Languages regularly hears from witnesses who very clearly tell us that there has to be an agency within government that is responsible for official languages, and that is the Treasury Board. This has been repeated ad nauseam. I sincerely believe that we will have to present an amendment to Bill C-13 in that regard.
    There is clearly a lot of work to be done to address the French language issue, not just in Canada but also in Quebec. We have to look to legislative measures to stop the decline of French all across Canada. I believe we will achieve that by working together. I would like to again thank my colleague for introducing this bill. Unfortunately, it is very unlikely that it will go very far, because it proposes changes to too vast a body of laws and regulations. However, on a positive note, Bill C-13 gives us a real opportunity to change things.
    In fact, before leaving for the summer break in June, the government wanted to rush the bill through, and just yesterday we resumed hearing from witnesses in committee. These witnesses more or less unanimously agree that if we really want to stop the decline of French in Canada and Quebec, then we must, especially in Canada, have a government agency that manages our official languages, and I nominate the Treasury Board. The Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada, or FCFA, is saying, along with everyone else, that the government will have to think long and hard before passing this bill that will make fundamental changes within the machinery of government.
    One thing is very clear: We are getting complaints. The Commissioner of Official Languages is also receiving a whole lot of complaints. There is still much work to be done, but we will work with my colleague and her party to improve the future of French in Canada.


    Madam Speaker, I rise in the House today to express the NDP's support for Bill C‑238 at second reading.
    Later in my speech I will talk about our concerns with some aspects of the bill, in particular regarding citizenship granted to immigrants who come through the family reunification stream and to refugees. I will get back to this, but this is a significant concern that has been debated at length in parliamentary committee.
    There is no problem with the first part of the bill, which deals with federally regulated businesses, and that is why we will support sending Bill C‑238 to committee. That said, as members know, the NDP has always been the only party in the House to champion and advocate for the rights of linguistic minorities and the French language, not just in Quebec, but all across the country.
    To illustrate, I can point to British Columbia, where a provincial NDP government created the existing French-language school board network and umbrella programs in francophone schools across the province. This was a unique, important initiative from the NDP.
    I could also give the example of the New Democrat government in Saskatchewan. It did the same thing: It opened French-language schools throughout the province. The New Democrat government in Manitoba established a network of French-language schools and school boards across the province.
    We also mentioned New Democrat member Léo Piquette, a Franco-Albertan and the strongest advocate for French-language rights in Alberta. New Democrat governments in Ontario and the Atlantic provinces expanded the network of French-language colleges.
    I could give numerous examples of New Democrat governments and members that have always pushed to advance the rights of francophone minority-language communities and, of course, to defend the French language.
    These are undeniable facts no one can challenge. It may be easy to speak before the House, but it is more difficult to talk to people across the country, as we did. We are also proud of our past record in this respect, and our efforts continue into the present. New Democrat members always advocate for the French language and linguistic minorities, which, of course, include francophone linguistic minorities.
    Since adopting the Sherbrooke Declaration, the New Democrats have been pushing for legislation concerning federally regulated businesses. As our members know, it has been years. Obviously, I am referring to the party under Jack Layton, Thomas Mulcair, Nycole Turmel and, of course, our current leader, the hon. member for Burnaby South.
    At every opportunity, the NDP has taken a stand and tabled bills on the subject. We have fought for this in the House. It only makes sense that workers in Quebec have the right to work in French. This is not currently the case, since federally regulated businesses are exempt from the obligation to provide a workplace in which people can communicate in French.
    It also makes sense that workers in caisses populaires be able to speak, communicate and work in French. When it comes to the major Canadian banks, workers no longer have these rights. That is why the NDP has been demanding for years that federally regulated businesses be subject to the same obligation to create a work environment where employers and workers have the right to express themselves, communicate and work in French.


    It only makes sense. It is like what I said earlier. We have always advocated for the right of francophones to have access to services. It is a basic right to be able to work in French, whether one is in Montreal or Quebec City. If someone works in a federally regulated business, it is only logical that they have the right to work in French.
    It is precisely this first part of the bill that we fully support. For years now, our party has been saying that workers in businesses under federal jurisdiction should be granted this basic right. It only makes sense.
    As I mentioned earlier, I have a big problem with the second part of the bill. When it comes to economic immigration, Quebec already has tools to choose the immigrants it receives and to make sure they are able to express themselves in French. Of that there is no doubt. Now, extending this requirement to immigrants received under family reunification and to refugees, and making them wait for their full rights as Canadian citizens, that, we find very worrying. As the hon. member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie so eloquently said a few weeks ago, applying this requirement to refugees is abusive.
    We know full well that immigrants to Quebec want to learn French. Clearly, there was not enough money to ensure that they were given the opportunity to learn French. As members know, I spent many years in Quebec, first in Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean, then in the Eastern Townships. These are very beautiful regions in Quebec. I find them magnificent. Then I went to Montreal and the Outaouais. During all my years in Quebec, I saw that immigrants were interested in learning French.
    Often, there were not enough resources or programs to enable them to learn French. We should focus on having the resources for these people who bring their skills and interests to Quebec and Canada. Refugees are often fleeing horrible situations, human rights violations and war. When they come to Quebec and Canada, they want to contribute. We need to have the resources to enable them to learn French. It is crucial. Saying that if they do not learn French well enough they will be refused Canadian citizenship, the right to vote and any other rights dependent on Canadian citizenship is definitely not the right thing to do. As a progressive party, we believe we need to have the necessary resources to enable them to learn French.
    People I have met throughout Quebec want to learn French. There are not enough programs. Let us then implement programs to make it possible for them to learn French.
    We support sending the bill back to committee specifically to fix these flaws.


    Madam Speaker, I have been following this morning's debate and, in my view, there seems to be a bit of a cat fight in the House between Bill C-238, which seeks to comply with the will of the Quebec National Assembly on matters relating to Quebec's only official language, and Bill C-13.
    I was surprised to hear the parliamentary secretary say earlier that Bill C-238 takes a Quebec-centric approach and fails to respect the rights of francophones outside Quebec, let alone even acknowledge the reality of francophones outside Quebec.
    Unlike Bill C-238, what the government is offering us in Bill C-13 is essentially English in Montreal and English in Quebec. It is really important to compare and contrast these two bills. Unlike Bill C-238, Bill C-13 gives federally regulated businesses in Quebec the pretense of choice. It is merely a pretense of choice, giving them the option to operate in one official language or the other. Government members, some of whom have actually stood here in the House and publicly denied that French is in decline, seem to magically believe that a bank headquartered in Toronto, with the majority of its staff in Toronto and 80% of its market in English-speaking Canada, will be naturally inclined to offer services of equal quality in both English and French. Saying something like that is akin to leaving the future of our language in the hands of Michael Rousseau of Air Canada or in the hands of the Royal Bank of Canada, which once was “La Banque royale du Canada”.
    The fact is, when these companies located in Quebec are given some semblance of a choice, they choose English. They choose English because it is easier, cheaper and more efficient for their accounting departments. Quebeckers are the ones who end up paying the price. This is happening despite the fact that French as a language of work works. It works for big corporations and multinationals, and for the flagship companies we are so proud of. That same model should apply to our federally governed enterprises.
    Can anyone explain to me why the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, one of the largest pension funds in the world, which is governed by Quebec law, is able to operate in French and abide by the Charter of the French Language while making investments around the world? I would like someone to explain to me why the Caisse is able to do that.
    Can anyone explain to me why Couche-Tard, headquartered in Laval, Quebec, can operate entirely in French at its headquarters while doing business internationally in pretty much every language of every country in which it does business? Couche-Tard can do that because the right signal and the right message have been sent. Do not try to tell me that an anglophone who goes to a Couche-Tard cannot buy a bag of chips in English.
    The model that is working in Quebec should be replicated in businesses under federal jurisdiction. That is hardly small potatoes. We are talking about a major group of businesses with a large number of employees located for the most part in downtown Montreal, working mainly in English in some cases, which contributes to the anglicization of Montreal, its downtown and its cultural life.
    Take telecommunications, for example. BCE has more than 14,000 employees, Rogers has 3,000 and Cogeco has 1,700. That means Quebec's telecommunications sector alone employs about 18,000 people. That is equivalent to the population of Sainte‑Anne‑des‑Plaines, a town in my riding. That is a lot of people.
    Then there are the banks. National Bank has 10,200 employees. I am not saying that they all necessarily speak English at work. What I am saying is that these thousands of workers have the right to work in French. They should not fall under a legislative regime where if just one person comes from Toronto or if just one person speaks English, everyone switches to English. We know what happens when there are 10 francophones and one anglophone at the table: They speak English over lunch. That is exactly what happens.


    Quebeckers must be guaranteed the right to speak French at work. French is the only official and national language of Quebec. It is an inclusive language because it is our common language. The French language allows us to understand one another, integrate and grow together.
    Quebec's banking sector alone employs 23,000 people. The aviation and rail transportation sectors would add another 9,000 or 10,000 people. The Liberals' bilingualism model is to linguistic policy what tax evasion is to taxation. It allows these businesses to be different from others. It gives these businesses a free pass and lets them break the rules. Francophones who want to work in telecommunications or in the rail transportation sector are subject to a regime that prevents them from working in Quebec's historical, national language.
    The purpose of Bill C‑238 is to implement legislation that acknowledges the reality, the facts, the history and, most importantly, the unanimous will of the Quebec National Assembly. This is a bill that reflects the realities of Quebeckers and addresses the current confusion, which leaves Quebeckers under the impression that they are free to work in French in all federally regulated businesses. One does not need to have visited these businesses to understand that this is not the case.
    There is another positive aspect to Bill C-238, specifically asymmetry. It is something that Canadian federalism has rejected all too often. In many provinces, such as Quebec, people's preferences and expectations, history, culture, the working world, practices and legislative agendas are not the same. Language in the workplace must also be dealt with a bit differently.
    The principle of asymmetry is accepted in numerous areas, for example, in health care. The very fact that we are a federation implies that different provinces with different needs should work differently. There is also a certain asymmetry in the immigration system. Quebec has a certain number of targets in a certain number of programs, but not in all of them. For some time now, job training has been delegated to the Quebec government through special agreements. Why? Because Quebec has its own business ecosystem, its own community sector, its own institutions, and its own expectations. Bill C-238 does exactly the same thing.
    What worries me about some of the speeches I have heard today, including the one from the member for Louis-Saint-Laurent, a colleague I hold in high regard, is the fact that we are still having debates about whether francophones are or are not disappearing, whether French is or is not declining, and so on. Some Conservatives in the House, including the member for Louis-Saint-Laurent, claim to be experts in mathematics. They look at three or four data points, see that such-and-such a statistic shows that there are three or four more francophones in such-and-such a place, and then some claim that there is no loss of francophones and no need to protect French. Just the fact that we are talking about it, that it is being brought up again, and that it is on the agenda demonstrates that there is a problem in Quebec. Can anyone tell me where in Canada there are debates about the disappearance of English? Nowhere. That is because it is obvious that English is not disappearing. French needs to be protected.
     Bill C-238 is balanced, respectful, asymmetrical and well-thought-out. It will ensure that the real language of work in Quebec is French. Large companies will still be able to do business in English because that is the language everyone naturally gravitates to in North America. If we do not pass Bill C-238 but do pass Bill C-13, that force of gravity will simply lead us to unilingualism, eventually.
    It is important to note, and I appreciated the speech by my colleague from the NDP, that the law applies only to Canadian citizens. Refugees and new immigrants under the family reunification program are exempt. This is an inclusive bill. I congratulate my colleague from Salaberry—Suroît for introducing this bill. Of course, I am looking forward to voting for it.


    Madam Speaker, as you probably know, the International Day of Older Persons is coming up soon. I would like to take advantage of the debate on my bill to draw everyone's attention to this important day, because the generation before mine did so much for the French language. As a society, it waged major battles. Its story is the story of a nation that owns its uniqueness. It is therefore fitting, on the eve of the International Day of Older Persons, to thank those who have done so much for our national language and who, quite frankly, are just as concerned about the decline of French as we are.
    For some, conversations about the decline of French elicit a shrug of the shoulders. Members of Parliament say we are getting too worked up about it. They say we are misinterpreting the statistics, that the indicators do not accurately reflect new linguistic dynamics. It is a tempest in a teapot, they say. That was the message during the first hour of debate on Bill C‑238. However, Statistics Canada shed new light this summer on what is happening with French across Canada and in Quebec.
    We knew it, but now it is clear. My colleague, the member for La Pointe-de-l'Île, predicted it. No matter what measure we use, we see a decline in French. In Quebec, there are fewer people whose mother tongue is French. The same goes for the primary language spoken at home and the language spoken in public, and that is key. It is a serious slide, to the benefit of English. What will my bill, which I have the honour of introducing on behalf of the Bloc Québécois, do to stop this decline?
    It addresses two things: language of work and the language of newcomers. For language of work, Bill C‑238 incorporates the National Assembly's unanimous request to apply Bill 101 to federally regulated businesses. Again, this was a unanimous request. Every Quebec member thought about the issue and came to the same conclusion. I hope that the House will be able to show a bit of consideration for democracy in Quebec.
    During the first hour of debate, I heard someone say that Bill C‑13 would be better at protecting French at federally regulated businesses in Quebec. To say that is to flat out say no to the National Assembly. That is serious.
    I have to say what I think. I do not trust the federal government to truly fight for the French language. It is the federal government that is responsible for the fact that, as we speak, a francophone veteran has to wait an average of 45 weeks for a decision on their file. An anglophone waits only 24 weeks. In Canada, discrimination based on language is tolerated. It is the federal government that is responsible for the fact that, in the House, ministers hold important briefings on their bills with no consideration for French. It is the federal government that tolerates the fact that it is very difficult for francophones to get top jobs in the government even though many francophones work in the public service. Despite efforts made in recent decades to protect French in Canada, everything is done in English.
    I therefore place my trust in the Quebec government to ensure respect for Quebeckers' language rights, which is why Bill 101 must be applied to federally regulated businesses. Bill C‑238 has a second element, namely knowledge of French as a requirement for Quebec citizenship. To be clear, knowledge of French would be a requirement to obtain citizenship for people residing in Quebec. This would change nothing for people claiming refugee status or permanent residency. I think that this is a very reasonable provision.
    There are all kinds of ways for people to step up and help stop the decline of the French language. I know that my bill is just one among many others. If I have not been convincing, I ask members to send Bill C‑238 to committee so that experts can come explain why it is so important. That is what Wednesday's vote will be about. My bill represents the first opportunity for all members of Parliament to show that they are concerned about the decline of French. My bill would give Quebec two new tools to help it wage this crucial, magnificent battle for the French language, for its words, its accents and its future. I urge members not to undermine the efforts of such a resilient nation. Let us pass Bill C‑238.


    The question is on the motion.


    If a member of a recognized party present in the House wishes to request a recorded division or that the motion be adopted on division, I would invite them to rise and indicate it to the Chair.


    Madam Speaker, I request a recorded division.
    Pursuant to order made on Thursday, June 23, the recorded division stands deferred until Wednesday, September 28, at the expiry of the time provided for Oral Questions.

Government Orders

[Government Orders]


Cost of Living Relief Act, No. 2

    The House resumed from September 23 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, we are here in Parliament today talking about the affordability crisis that so many Canadians are dealing with, and in a way it feels like progress that we are even talking about this, because most of the debates that happen in Parliament are scheduled by the government, and for two years the government has been ignoring the problem of “Justinflation” that so many Canadians have been dealing with. For two years the government has been ignoring the cost of living crisis, but the election of the member for Carleton as Leader of the Opposition has really focused the mind of the government. Immediately after the Leader of the Opposition took his position, the government started saying that now it needs to try to talk about the affordability issue.
    However, unfortunately, the measures the government has put in place are not moving us forward. They are not actually addressing the problem. In fact, in some respects they are making the problem worse. The government still does not appreciate the degree to which it really is its policies, the policies of the current Prime Minister, that have created and continue to create the kind of affordability crisis we are talking about.
    At the outset, I think it is important to go over a bit of the history of this. Back in 2020, the member for Carleton, who was at the time our shadow minister for finance, said that Canada was about to face this problem of significant increasing inflation. He said that the significant increase we were seeing in government spending was going to drive inflation. Government being more expensive was going to make it more expensive for everyday Canadians to buy the various goods they needed.
    At the time, those concerns were dismissed by the government, including the finance minister, who is still the finance minister. She was more concerned about apparent impending deflation, and that of course turned out to be very wrong. It was clear from the arguments being made at the time, and it is clear now, that when we have the government pouring more and more money out there, borrowing more and spending more but not actually driving increases in production, that is simply going to be inflationary. When we have more money chasing fewer goods, that is going to make everything more expensive.
    These arguments were made and have been made over the last two years, but they have been continuously ignored by a government that clearly would rather talk about other issues. It clearly would rather be trying to shift attention away from those things, which really are the fundamental priorities of Canadians.
    The government also, first of all, denied it. It was refusing to acknowledge the inflation crisis that it was causing, but as the numbers have come out and as we have seen increasing inflation, it has been harder and harder for the government to deny it. The new form of denial is for them to say, “It is not our fault,” and that they have nothing to do with it. They say that inflation is happening everywhere and is the result of the invasion of Ukraine and other such events, or it is supply blockages and is really an issue of the challenges in global supply chains.
    I have a few responses to that. Number one is that this inflation was clearly an issue prior to the invasion of Ukraine, but it was two years ago that we started sounding the alarm on this issue of inflation. Of course, the invasion of Ukraine, as such, started in 2014, but this particular further invasion of Ukraine started six months ago.
    It is also hard to make sense of the claim that global supply chains are responsible for instances where the goods are produced here in Canada yet the prices have been going up. Global supply chains can hardly be blamed for the escalating price of property and real estate that makes it increasingly difficult for Canadians in my age demographic and younger to be able to afford housing.
    The government is constantly looking for other people to blame. It no doubt will blame the previous government at some point in today's debate, as well as global events that are beyond its control, but the reality is that the government is pursuing policies and pouring more money through borrowing and spending, without proper controls or encouraging more production. These economic policies of the government are driving inflation.


     Canada is not the only country with rising inflation, but the point is that other countries that have this problem have pursued the same policies that the Liberal government has pursued. Some countries that are pursuing policies that entail exactly the same problems are getting the same results. However, other countries that are being more prudent and responsible in their spending are not experiencing the same challenges, and that is the reality. The escalating inflation is the result of the economic policies of the government, and it needs to own that challenge.
    This is where we have been for the last two years. The government has been trying to distract attention on other issues, but then we have the Leader of the Opposition come into his position and continue his laser focus on issues of affordability and cost of living. Then, right away, the government says that perhaps its needs to talk about this affordability and cost of living thing, so it has tried to come up with a solution. Unfortunately, when we have a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. The government's approach when it comes to the economy is always the same: more spending, more borrowing and higher taxes. That solution to the inflation crisis is going to make the problem even worse.
    The government wants Canadians to believe that their lives will be made better and more affordable by giving away more money. I will share a little story.
     I have five children and my three-old son recently came to me with a wad of U.S. dollars. I knew exactly where he got them from, because I had just returned from a trip to Washington and had left the money on the counter. He said, “Daddy, look what I got.” Then he very generously said he would give me one. I told him that was great, but asked him where he got it from. I think that is how Canadians feel when the government offers them more money. The government says that it will be generous and give more money to people, but Canadians want to know where that money has come from.
    The government does not generate any money of its own. Government does not work to produce money. It takes money from taxpayers and then redistributes it. Just like my son, who I know is not going out, earning that money and generously offering it to me. I know that he is finding it somewhere around the house. When the government says that it will give more money, it clearly has to find it somewhere around the house, and that is the issue with it. It wants everyone to see how generous it is being, that it is giving away more money. In question period the other day, the Deputy Prime Minister said that the government was giving $1,000 to these families and $500 to those families, but Canadians are asking where the money is coming from.
     We have run up more debt under the current Prime Minister than in the entire country's history prior to 2015. That is incredible. That is more debt than in the country's entire history from 1867 up until 2015. This is driving the challenges in the cost of living and inflation. Then the government's solution to the problem it has caused is to do more of the same. We have inflation because of high taxes, high borrowing and high spending and the government tries to solve that problem through more taxes, more borrowing and more spending.
    The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. The Liberals' approach is going to cost more, and any of these giveaways that they are promising to Canadians, such as these $500 here and $1,000 there, is real money. This is significant money for people, but I think they also understand that the money comes from somewhere and that those dollars are eaten up every day by higher prices. The same government that is saying that it is going to do more on these spending items is actually eroding the value of that money as it is handing it out.
    This is a failed policy. Again, doubling down on the same failed approach of more borrowing, more taxes and more spending is not going to achieve a different result. It is “Justinflation” from start to finish. This is what we predicted two years ago. That is what we are seeing now and that is what is going to be further exacerbated by these new policies.
     I note that expert analysis from Canada's leading banks said that these policies from the government are going to be inflationary.


     l listened to the leader of the NDP, the coalition partner of the government, talking about this issue on CBC's The House. I think it was this past weekend. He said that the NDP did not agree with the analysis from the big banks. The leading economists in the country are saying that the government's policy is going to be more inflationary. Dismissing that expert analysis because people have an axe to grind with the big banks is really missing the point. The government talks about drawing from experts. It should listen to experts and acknowledge that its policies will continue to be inflationary going forward.
    The Conservatives are offering a better approach, a common-sense approach for moving us forward.
     First, we need a dollar-for-dollar rule when it comes to new spending. If the government is going to approve new spending of $1, $10, $1 million or $1 billion, it should first find an equivalent amount of savings. If there are new areas needing money to be spent, it should identify areas for those savings, areas to find efficiencies, and then put those dollars to toward the new areas.
    There are new emerging priorities. There are always going to be new things needing money, but there are also going to be plenty of examples where dollars that were spent in the past no longer need to be spent or, perhaps, should not have been spent in the first place.
     I think about some of the things that the government has spent money on, like the $25 million on the ArriveCAN app, which could have been easily saved. We could talk about the failed $35-billion Infrastructure Bank. We could talk about the subsidy package for private media, which is unfortunately eroding confidence in the media. We could talk about the government's various corporate welfare programs. All of those things have, frankly, hurt Canadians instead of helped them.
    There have been many opportunities with respect to wasteful spending within the government or spending that was poorly targeted toward objectives. It is great to find new areas to make investments. Let us apply the same discipline that households and businesses have to apply by having a dollar-for-dollar rule.
    A great way to help make life more affordable for Canadians would be to stop increasing taxes. Of course, we would like to see lower tax on this side of the House, but as a first step for the government, stop making the problem worse. Right now, the government has automatic scheduled tax increases for next year. On January 1 of next year, happy new year, and on April 1 of next year, which is sadly not an April fool's joke, tax increases are currently scheduled: increases to the carbon tax, which will drive up the cost of gas, groceries and home heating; increases as well to payroll taxes. Those payroll tax increases will take effect on January 1 and then subsequently the carbon tax hike.
    It would be a very basic first step for the government to acknowledge it is in a hole right now, so it should stop digging, stop making the problem worse and stop inflicting more pain on Canadians by raising their taxes. Although that would be against the basic instincts of the government, that would be an important step to take, to recognize there is actually a problem that needs to be solved. If the government is unwilling to listen to us and reverse these planned tax increases, then I think it will be clear that the government's words about affordability are just that, only words. We have seen this before. When Canadians are connecting with and responding to a Conservative message, sometimes the government tries to use the same words. It tries to talk about the same things.
     The proof is going to be in the pudding. The proof is going to be whether the government follows through with its planned tax hikes, or whether it continues with its approach of borrowing, spending and taxing always going up, or whether it will listen to Canadians, who are feeling the squeeze as a result of “Justinflation”, stop this damage and try to reverse the planned tax—


    Madam Speaker, on a point of order, I have been somewhat patient with the member. This was the third time the member has made reference to the term “Justinflation”. He is obviously doing something indirectly, knowing full well that he cannot do it directly. It has been ruled on previously by the Speaker that it is an inappropriate phrase, and this is the third time he has used it. I would suggest it is being done intentionally by the member and that he should try to improve by not using that term, which is unparliamentary, as previously ruled.
    Madam Speaker, we have heard the member use that term all the time. It is a little lame and I do not think it is appropriate. We can lead a horse to water, but we cannot make it think. The Speaker should ask the member to withdraw his lame comment.
    I will remind the hon. member that using that term was already ruled on. I know the member is working it into his speech a little differently, but again I want to caution him on the use of that word.
    The hon. member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan.
    Madam Speaker, I know the member for Timmins—James Bay is excited to hear the rest of my remarks and it sounds like he is chomping at the bit for the privilege of debate that may be coming. I look forward to his remarks. I would encourage him to make sure he has consulted with the rest of his party around the position he takes on that, because there may be some differences of opinion around that important and sensitive issue.
    With respect to the remarks I was making, it is very clear that we have two different approaches in front of us when it comes to responding to the economy. The Liberals have started to try to adopt Conservative language, although not all of it, as maybe the point of order demonstrates. They do not want to acknowledge their own responsibility when it comes to inflation, but they have started to acknowledge that there is a problem of inflation. They just think it has nothing to do with the policies of the government, which obviously stretches credibility.
    The government has, in the last two years, pursued a radically different direction. In some respects, it has the last seven years, but it has escalated in the last two years. They have pursued a radically different direction with respect to economic policy. We have gone from tens of billions of dollars of deficit, which felt quite significant, and was quite significant, to hundreds of billions of dollars in terms of deficit, and they want to pretend as if that approach has had no consequences with respect to affordability. The reality is that it obviously has and Canadians are seeing the direct impacts on their lives when it comes to rising costs of all sorts of different goods. The government's efforts to pass the blame for this onto everybody but themselves really stretches credibility. Now their proposals of more taxes, more spending and more borrowing are simply going to make the problem worse.
    I appeal to the government, on behalf of my constituents and many Canadians who have raised concerns about affordability, that if it wants to show that it has a modicum of sincerity when it comes to the issue of affordability, it should cancel the planned tax increases for next year. It would be a simple way for the government to show that it is actually listening to Canadians.
    I want to talk specifically about the issue of the carbon tax. The Liberals think that a tax increase is a replacement for a meaningful response to the challenges we face with environmental policy. It is clear from various reports that their carbon tax is not working to achieve environmental objectives. Many of the groups that have supported them on this are saying it is a dramatic increase they want in terms of the carbon tax, and the Liberals are planning, I believe, and forecasting it.
    Before the previous election, they had promised that they would not increase the carbon tax, but then they did increase it. It is continually going up and up. When is it going to stop? Every time their carbon tax fails to achieve their environmental objectives, instead of changing approach and realizing that we actually need an approach that emphasizes technology instead of taxes, they are just doubling down on the taxation approach. It is just not working; it is not achieving the objectives they said it will.
    The government really needs to be responsive to what Canadians are telling it and it needs to be willing to make changes in its direction when the evidence clearly suggests it. I repeat that appeal again: no new taxes. The least the government can do is stop the damage, and that means to commit to not proceeding with the tax increases that it has scheduled for next year.
    It is a clear choice and a clear contrast. We have a government that is talking about borrowing, spending and taxation, and that is leading to inflation. Then in the official opposition, we are talking about more freedom, giving individuals back control of their lives, reversing tax increases, lowering taxes and fundamentally replacing big government with big citizens, with a big society, as David Cameron talked about, with the idea that a strong society, with people standing together and supporting each other's needs, is much better at bringing us together as communities and moving us forward than the government. I am proud to continue to champion that vision and make the case for that vision in the House and beyond.


    At this point, I would like to move an amendment. I move:
    That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word “That” and substituting the following:
"the House decline to give second reading to Bill C-31, An Act respecting cost of living relief measures related to dental care and rental housing, since the bill will fuel inflation and fails to address the government's excessive borrowing and spending that lead to the inflation crisis in the first place.”


    The amendment is in order.
    We will move on to questions and comments with the hon. member for Kings—Hants.
    Madam Speaker, I had the privilege of sitting in the 43rd Parliament, and I listened to Conservatives saying both that the government was spending too much and that the government needed to spend even more in certain areas.
    I heard that reiterated today when this member was talking about debt levels and the need for government to rein in spending. I did not hear him once mention that the government is actually in a surplus position for this current fiscal year. I think that this is really important to recognize, that the government is reining in spending.
    However, that is not going to create an affordability element overnight. His proposition is, essentially, that the government should stop spending and that would create affordability.
    Why will this member not support targeted measures for vulnerable Canadians? What he is proposing would not have any direct benefit on households for, probably, a couple of years' time.
    Madam Speaker, I will be very clear. I am proposing, fundamentally, as a first step, that the government commit to reversing planned automatic tax increases for next year.
    The member thinks that this is not going to matter to Canadians for a long time. It will matter to Canadians right away. Canadians who are struggling to pay for gas, groceries and home heating will immediately be affected by the tax increase that his party wants to bring in next year.
    Working Canadians and small businesses will be immediately impacted by the increase in payroll taxes that his government plans to bring in next year. This would be immediate relief to the affordability crisis.
    There is more that it needs to do. I talked about the dollar-for-dollar rule, and I support tax reductions to make life more affordable for Canadians. As a basic first step, which would have an immediate impact, I am calling on the government to reverse its planned automatic tax increases for next year. I hope that he will speak for his constituents and join me in opposing those tax increases.


    Madam Speaker, it is quite something to watch the NDP defend the Prime Minister. I would say that undermines their credibility just a bit when they ask questions.
    My colleague talked a lot about the fact that it is just inflation and so on and that spending needs to be reduced.
    Previously he said that he agreed with increasing health transfers to the provinces and Quebec. I assume that he is aware that in July, not just Quebec, but all the other provinces asked for an increase in health transfers.
    Does he agree with that approach?


    Madam Speaker, I would be happy to have that debate in detail at another time. I think that, in front of us, we are discussing the issue of affordability for Canadians. There is a lot of work to be done on the health care front. There is no doubt about that. There have been many challenges that have been exposed through the COVID pandemic that require significant work.
    I look forward to further analyzing, discussing and debating those issues when that issue is up for debate in the House.
    Madam Speaker, I did not hear very much from the member about his thoughts on dental care. As I am sure he knows, the biggest reason that children under 12 end up in the emergency room is because of dental emergencies. I am sure that he knows that this happens because children do not have access to good preventative dental care.
    I am sure that he has heard from his constituents in Alberta, as he is my neighbour in Alberta, that they are very supportive of dental care. In fact, a massive majority of Albertans support having public dental care available to children.
    In the last Parliament, I was the only member of Parliament from Alberta who did vote for dental care. He voted twice against dental care. I am wondering if he will be supporting dental care for children who cannot access dental care in this country, to prevent them from having to go to the hospital, to our overburdened emergency rooms, for care.


    Madam Speaker, respectfully to my colleague, I have a number of points on this. Number one is that we have major challenges in our existing health care system. Rather than address those challenges, the parties of the left—
    Thanks to the Conservatives. You gutted Alberta—
    If the hon. member for New Westminster—Burnaby happens to have questions or comments, he should stand at the appropriate time to do so and not interrupt members while they are attempting to answer the question.
    The hon. member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan.
    Madam Speaker, I do not mind the heckling from the government minister over here. I know he has strong views in support of the Liberal agenda, and he is using his voice in the House to defend Liberal policies.
    Many Canadians are disappointed by the fact that the NDP have really sold out. They have sold out on principles they used to articulate. I look at the bill before us, and regardless of what the member for Edmonton Strathcona said previously, she would have to agree that the legislation is not a dental care program. The Liberals have already reneged on their commitment to the NDP, yet the NDP is still persistently supporting and defending the Liberal government. If the NDP is not even going to extract the price that was offered and is still supporting the Liberal government's failed approach, it is a real betrayal of the people the NDP said it would represent.
    Canadians are realizing that it is only the Conservative Party that is going to speak on behalf of Canadians and workers, and on behalf of defending our systems and defending Canadians from the attacks on their pocketbooks that we are seeing from the government.
    Madam Speaker, it is unfortunate that we are hearing several members describe an increase to the Canada pension plan as a payroll tax.
     Putting that aside, I am aware that the member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan is concerned with increases in government spending. What is also true is that he supported a Conservative motion that would have increased defence spending by over $18 billion. If he is now also supportive a dollar-for-dollar offset, and if he remains supportive of increasing defence spending by $18 billion, could he share where he would cut $18 billion to make room for this new spending?
    Madam Speaker, I have already identified a number of areas of spending that I think are not only not necessary but actually make Canadians worse off. It is a reasonable principle to have dollar for dollar to be able to identify those areas while talking about spending increases.
    Just to zero in specifically on the Green Party's emphasis on defence spending, it kind of misses the reality of what is happening in the world right now to pretend that a greater focus on national defence is not necessary. We have the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Canada has been significantly involved in sending weapons to that. We think they should be doing more, in terms of sending support to Ukraine.
     However, to pretend that we could do these things, which I think are required for basic justice and our security, without thinking about the cost is a bit naive. The threats we face, and the emerging threats we face, are very significant. I know there are some members who, for philosophical or ideological reasons, are against more spending on defence, but there are realities we face in the word today, and members need to take stock of those realities and acknowledge that, if we are going to be in solidarity with Ukraine, if we are going to protect our security, and if we are going to secure our own Arctic, those things do involve costs, and we have to live up to our obligations.
    Madam Speaker, I am actually struck by similarities. This member does not have the benefit of the years that I do, but I remember during Pierre Elliott Trudeau's time there was stagflation, which is high inflation, low economic growth and serious economic problems.
    My question for the member is this: Is this a return of “Trudeaunomics” or is it “Justinflation”?
    I ruled a little while ago about using that term, and I would like to remind members to be extremely careful given the ruling previously made by the Speaker himself.


    Madam Speaker, that is the best question I have received all day. I did not live during the tenure of the previous Trudeau government, but I can say that my grandfather made sure that I knew about what happened. My grandfather was working as an engineer in Alberta during the national energy program, which was the last time we had a prime minister named Trudeau, and the last time we saw those kinds of really aggressive attacks on our regional economy.
    We have seen a repeat of that dismissive attitude towards Alberta and the energy sector. We are seeing a repeat of those kinds of economic policies when it comes to inflation and making life less affordable for Canadians. The idea could come from various sources, but the bottom line is that these are failing policies. Canadians realize these policies are not working and are asking the government to change its course. The government is now trying to change some of the rhetoric. It is saying it is prepared to talk about these issues, but it is not delivering the results Canadians want.
    I will repeat the simple appeal that, if the government really cared about these issues, it would cancel scheduled tax hikes for next year. Will it cancel those tax hikes?
    As this is the first occasion I have had to speak in the House now that we are back after the parliamentary recess, it is an honour to be back with colleagues. It is great to see people again and I look forward to the work ahead.
    I am speaking on the Canada dental benefit today, but I would be remiss if I did not first mention hurricane Fiona. A lot of constituents back home in London will have family members and friends in areas impacted. All members of Parliament are thinking of those impacted, but for members of Parliament from the Atlantic provinces, including our Minister of National Revenue, who represents, among other places, the Îles de la Madeleine, this is a tragedy that has unfolded and our hearts go out to all impacted.
    We have in front of us a truly historic bill, a historic bill that has been called for from people across the country for a long time. The proposed Canada dental benefit is the result of a great deal of work that has been carried out, not just in this House but across the country by activists focusing on social policy, going back decades. It represents the culmination of that work, and it is the first stage of it.
    It would apply, in this first instance, to children under 12. In order to understand the importance of it, let me take a step back and put things into a broader context. I do so by referencing a philosopher my Conservative colleagues are very fond of quoting. Usually they quote him entirely out of context, but it is important to put on the record the thoughts of Adam Smith and apply it to this particular social policy. It is something that is not often done, but it puts things into good perspective.
    Adam Smith said, “No society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable.” What he meant by that is that, when a society experiences and sees poverty in ways that limit its members from fulfilling their true potential as human beings, then that society cannot be said to be thriving, successful or prosperous.
    That is a timeless insight and universal in its validity, whether it is Canadian democracy we are talking about or beyond. I use it as a way of understanding the importance of this policy innovation, the Canada dental benefit, because over 30% of Canadians do not have dental insurance. In fact, in 2018, over 20% said they did not see their dentist because the visit would be too expensive.
    We are talking about kids here, who are perhaps the most vulnerable in our population. These are kids under 12 whose parents could not afford to take them to the dentist. Canada remains one of the most prosperous countries in the world, but when one has an outcome like that, it is tragic, it is unacceptable and it requires a government response. I am glad to see the government is moving in this direction.
    As a result of Bill C-31, 500,000 children would be supported. Kids under 12 would be helped via a tax-free benefit. To get technical, and just so we are on the record with that, it would see support go in three different categories. Children under 12 with family incomes of less than $70,000 would see $650 per year per child. Children in families with incomes ranging from $70,000 and $79,000 could receive $390 per year per child, and in families where incomes range from $80,000 to $89,000, a child could receive $260 per year.
    The Canada Revenue Agency would administer the benefit and it would be available online via My Account, or on the phone if that is the option available for individuals. There would be an attestation process individuals would need to go through. For example, they would need to attest they are not already receiving private dental insurance and that the benefit would be used for dental expenses. They would also need to keep receipts.
    There are also other steps they would need to ensure. They would need to have filed their taxes in 2021. When applying, they would need to confirm they are the parent in fact receiving the Canada child benefit for their child, and they would need to set up direct deposit.


    The fact that it is administered by CRA is a very good thing because throughout the pandemic we saw the CRA and its public servants step up and support Canadians in need, including Canadian individuals, families and business. CRA, after all, was the agency tasked with the responsibility of overseeing and administering the various emergency response programs. Those programs proved absolutely vital.
     Sometimes we hear criticism, particularly from our Conservative friends. They cast aspersions on the programs that were made available. They voted for them, but now, all of a sudden, they are having second thoughts. It is important for Canadians, and all of us in this House, to think about what would have happened to the country if it were not for programs like the Canada emergency response benefit. If it were not for the Canada emergency wage subsidy or the rental subsidy, what would have happened to businesses?
    Those programs among others, of which there were several, kept the country going during the worst economic crisis that we have seen since the Great Depression. That is a fact. I hear my Conservative friends at length these days go after these particular programs. In fact, I worked with the new leader on the finance committee and I remember that, at the time when we were tasked with the responsibility of looking at the emergency response programs and understanding how they would work, he called these “big, fat government programs”. He went on record at a famous press conference to say that the Conservatives were not in favour of such programs. The Conservatives did vote in favour because there was enormous public pressure to go in that direction. However, now, taking on a sort of populist hue, although I am not sure what is going on, the Conservatives continue to speak out against those particular programs.
    In any case, the benefit itself is reflective of a view of government that says that government has a responsibility to help individuals in need. Again, 500,000 kids would benefit as a result of what is happening here. I heard my colleague opposite in the Conservative Party just a few moments ago go on at length about how he is opposed to Bill C-31.
     Let us look at it another way. What about all those kids who are currently not getting support who would get support? What would they prefer? Would they prefer that we ignore that child who has a genuine health care need? That is not just insensitive. It is cruel because it is proper to view dental care as health care. We have a responsibility from so many different perspectives to look at these issues in a compassionate way. That child in need is our collective responsibility.
    In Parliament, we are looking after our constituents. That is what we are sent here to do. In my own community, there are kids whose parents cannot afford to take them to the dentist. I gave the number earlier that about 20% of Canadians, at least in 2018, said they could not afford to go to the dentist and that would include taking their kids to see the dentist. That is not acceptable and that is why this bill is absolutely suited to the time.
    The other thing I need to put on the record is that we have a view in this bill that takes very seriously that individual rights matter, certainly, but that individual rights unfettered have no place in a modern democratic society that aims for prosperity. The aim absolutely is to put individual rights front and centre. Individuals, including kids, have the right to health care and when they do not our society is diminished. As Adam Smith rightly said, if we have poverty in society that limits people from ultimately fulfilling their true potential, then that society is absolutely not what it can be. The society does not have the ability to live up to its potential and that applies to its citizens as well. Therefore, when kids cannot get dental care, we are all brought down as a result.
    I appreciate the opportunity, Madam Speaker. I will stop there and I look forward to questions.


    Madam Speaker, I have two questions for the parliamentary secretary.
    My first question is as a person who was formerly on a board of a homeless shelter. We are seeing across the country and in my riding an increase in homelessness and an affordable housing crisis. How is $500 going to help the many people who are losing their homes in this affordability crisis? It is more like a band-aid on a gaping wound.
    Second, my understanding of the deal that the NDP signed with the Liberal Party was that the Liberals were going to put in a dental care program that would cover everyone. This one covers children under 12. With respect to the amounts we are talking about, I just got my teeth cleaned and it was almost $300. Seventy per cent of the folks are covered by programs and the rest who are on social assistance already receive this. How is this anything like the promise that was made? Why did the government break its promise to its partners?
    Madam Speaker, if the Conservatives are now coming on board calling for a full-blown dental program, that would be welcomed, but somehow I think that is not the case.
    As I said at the outset of the speech, perhaps the member was not in the chamber at the time, this is the case in the first instance. It applies to children under 12 in the first place, then to kids under 18, and by 2025 it will be a full program. We are working toward this incrementally, one could say, but from a Conservative perspective that would be a good thing. We will get there. We will get to a full-scale program.
    As far as homelessness is concerned, I would simply point out to the member the number of investments that have been made in southwestern Ontario, where I know she is from. I have announced a number of projects certainly in London. We are seeing people housed who were not previously housed. We have more work to do. I hope the Conservatives come on board finally and recognize the importance of it.


    Madam Speaker, I would like to know whether the parliamentary secretary, who seems to fancy himself as having some sort of monopoly on empathy for children, realizes that Bill C‑31 does not provide dental care. In fact, it denies children in Quebec the increase in the Canada child benefit and makes families have to wait for the Canada Revenue Agency, wait for officials, and wait for forms to be entitled to a simple increase in the Canada child benefit. That is what the bill does.
    If children's health is truly important to him, he would be in favour of increasing health transfers to the provinces and Quebec so that the existing Quebec dental insurance plan can be improved.


    Madam Speaker, there is so much there I do not know where to begin.
    With respect to the Canada child benefit, and I know the hon. member is concerned with poverty in Canada, it has lifted hundreds of thousands of children out of poverty. I will put that to the member if he was not already aware.
    With respect to his understanding of how this particular dental benefit will work with respect to kids, I think there is some misunderstanding there. As a result of the Canada dental benefit, 500,000 kids will be supported. I look forward to hearing the member's thoughts further. I think he has some concerns with respect to provincial jurisdiction, but that is a matter that I am sure he and his party will continue to take up.
    With respect to health transfers, I leave that to the government and the Minister of Health to take up in due course in the upcoming weeks and months, as I think will be the case.


    Madam Speaker, as the member knows, 50% of low-income Canadians have no dental coverage. In preschool children, the most common surgery performed in pediatric hospitals is for dental decay, and poor oral health in seniors increases the risk of pneumonia.
    Does the member agree that preventable dental care is long overdue due to continuous Liberal and Conservative inaction and would prevent costly and serious health conditions?
    Madam Speaker, I think what we have with respect to this bill is one of the greatest advances in social and health policy the country has seen. Therefore, I applaud colleagues in the NDP for helping to raise this issue. I know Liberal colleagues on this side of the House have been advocating for something like Bill C-31 for a long time. In the first place we see kids supported. We are going to see that expanded. When oral care is put front and centre, a person's overall health is certainly ensured. I look forward to hearing more from the member in the coming weeks on these issues.
    Madam Speaker, this is one of the important debates we have had over the years in the House of Commons. We can think back to more than 50 years ago when the Tommy Douglas health care bill establishing universal health care in this country was debated. It was an NDP initiative. The government of the day was forced to put it on the floor of the House of Commons. Canadians, 50 years later, have benefited from that enormously. In fact, as members are well aware, when Canadians are asked what institution in Canada they are most strongly supportive of, it is universal health care.
    I was pleased, and my colleague from Timmins—James Bay was in the House as well, when we debated the famous Jack Layton budget. A former Liberal government was forced, by the NDP's presence in the House and a minority government status, to gut and rip up a budget that would have given massive tax breaks, which the Conservatives and Liberals favour, to big corporations and the ultrarich, and instead invest that money in public transit, education, seniors, families and housing. That was an important debate as well
    The debate today is very similar because this is an NDP initiative and an NDP bill. There is no doubt. What it would do is establish the principle of dental care in this country and establish supports for Canadians who are struggling to pay their rents and keep a roof over their head.
    First, I will talk about the dental care provisions. The reality is that Canadians right across this country are suffering from a lack of dental care. It has been pointed out in the House by the member for Burnaby South and by many others that over a third of Canadians have no dental insurance. That means there are millions of Canadians who cannot afford to visit a dentist.
    I know the results of this. I have met with constituents who have teeth that are literally rotting out of their mouth, and we know that the most common surgery performed on preschool children at most pediatric hospitals in Canada is treatment for dental decay. We know as well, from emergency room physicians, that hundreds of millions of dollars of expenses come from Canadians who do not have access to dental care and have to go to emergency rooms because of dental emergencies and the intense pain of not having dental support. Emergency room physicians know that without dental care in place for all Canadians, there will continue to be a cost to the health care system, but more importantly, an intense pain and suffering that is not needed. Instead, we can take up this NDP initiative and put in place dental care.
    As members well know, the provisions of the bill start to lay the foundation around dental care and provide supports to half a million Canadian children under the age of 12 who do not have access to dental care now. The Conservatives have just moved a motion to gut the bill, which means they disagree with ensuring half a million Canadian children have access to dental care and that families receive the money so they can do the cleaning and maintenance to avoid the intense pain and suffering that comes from dental decay. Conservative MPs are going to have to answer to that on their doorsteps and will have to explain why they are opposed to dental care.
    As members know, what the NDP has forced as well is a commitment by the government to next year roll that out to youth under the age of 18, seniors and people with disabilities. In the final year, the full program would be brought to bear for all families across the country. The reality is that dental care will make a big difference for Canadians. Tommy Douglas said in this House more than a half a century ago that the intent of putting in place universal health care was to ensure that we had health care from the top of our heads to the soles of our feet. The member for Burnaby South has said that very articulately many times in this House and that what we need is a full health care system.
    Dental care is a fundamentally important component of that, and I am profoundly dismayed that Conservative MPs are not standing with, in each case, the 30,000 constituents in their ridings who do not have access to dental care. That is the average across the country. There are about 30,000 such Canadians in each and every riding across the country, which is millions if we put the 338 ridings together, and we have Conservative MPs saying they are not going to support that access to dental care.


    What profound disrespect that is to Canadians in their ridings, the Conservatives' constituents and bosses, who vitally need access to dental care and need that foundation. Those initial payments are for families that have children 12 and under. They need that dental care, dental support and dental maintenance.
    The second component of the bill deals with the housing supplement. About 1.7 million Canadians would receive a housing supplement and housing support so they can pay their rent and keep a roof over their head. The new Conservative leader, the member for Carleton, likes to point out that housing prices have doubled under the Liberals, which is true, but what he fails to point out is that housing prices doubled under the dismal decade of the Harper government. We have actually seen, over the past dismal decade and a half, housing prices quadruple.
    Now, I do not understand how the Conservatives will campaign in the next election. Is the member for Carleton going to say, “Well, vote for us because the Liberals have done just as badly as we did”, or “Vote for us because the Liberals have handed out just as much to the banks as we did”? With the incredible extent of overseas tax haves, would the Conservatives say, “Vote for us because the Liberals have been just as bad on overseas tax havens”?
    The reality is that the Liberal government has, at least, permitted itself to be forced, prodded, pushed and pulled by the NDP to put in place rental supplements that will help people and put in place dental supports, the foundation of dental care in this country. These are important steps, and this is why we are proud to have this NDP legislation being brought forward. It would make a difference in the lives of Canadians. It would make a difference in the lives of families. For the 1.7 million Canadians who are struggling to pay their rent right now as rent increases, this would help put food on the table and keep a roof over their head.
    However, if the thought is that NDP members will stop there and rest on their laurels, members know that is not the case. We believe firmly and fundamentally that we need to keep pushing on behalf of Canadians, and we will continue to push NDP initiatives on the floor of the House of Commons. We believe in a health care system that is comprehensive. We believe in restoring health care funding. We have also pushed the government, and have had some success, on building new, affordable co-operative and social housing. For a decade and a half, both under the Conservatives and the Liberals, we have had hollow promises. Now, as a result of the NDP initiative, there will be tens of thousands of units of affordable housing where rent would be capped at 30% of a person's income. That is fundamental.
    As members well know, in the past, when we had a national housing program and had provisions for the federal government to actually fund housing and ensure co-operative and social housing, we found that homelessness in this country had almost disappeared. However, then we found otherwise under successive governments. It started with the Paul Martin government, which gutted the national housing program, but we never forget that it was Conservative governments that maintained that irresponsible act. What we have found over those subsequent decades is that more and more Canadians are finding it difficult to even keep a roof over their head. The rental supplement will certainly help, but we need to go further. The NDP has pushed the government to go further to ensure that we actually have in place the provision of affordable housing that would allow for Canadians, particularly of lower income, to have a roof over their head throughout their lifetime.
    These are important initiatives, and these are things we will continue to push. We will not stop, because we believe that Canadians really need a party that is going to fight for them in the House of Commons. That is what the 25 NDP MPs have done. We have delivered it this time with this bill, but we will continue to push on behalf of Canadians, who are our constituents and bosses, so that we get more things done, because Canadians need help at this critical time. Canadians need support to put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads, and they can depend on the member for Burnaby South and the NDP caucus to continue to fight so they can do just that.


    Madam Speaker, I agree with the majority of what my hon. colleague had to say today. Of course, he talked about dental care, particularly for those who are most vulnerable, and I could not agree more, frankly. I think it is an important public policy. It is shared between our two caucuses, and it is great to see that spirit of collaboration here in Parliament.
    I am not privy to the ongoing working relationship between some of the ministers on this side of the House and the NDP, but it seems that the NDP wants a permanent federally delivered program. My question for the member is not on the merits of dental care but on the delivery. Why does the NDP feel that it should be administered by the Government of Canada when there are existing programs at the provincial level that are focused? Why not work with each province to make sure the outcomes we want at the federal level can be delivered by the provinces, which are closest to health care, and the providers that want to see this good work completed?
    Madam Speaker, the bill is very clear that this is a federal initiative. The reason it is so important to do that, as members know, is to ensure there are supports right across the country for dental care. What this means is that half a million kids and their families will have access to payments for teeth cleaning to avoid dental decay and for fillings, ensuring there is proper dental oral health for all those kids. That will extend to people with disabilities, seniors and all families.
    The alternative would be, as we have seen over the last seven years, consulting in circles for years and nothing being done. That is why the NDP pushed for a federal program. We are happy to see in this bill that we are laying the foundation for that and families will benefit.
    Madam Speaker, I just listened to the hon. member speak about everything except what is happening right now with how much Canadians have to face. They are paying extra taxes, and with inflation, everything is expensive. It seems like he spent time giving himself credit and attacking the Conservatives, when he should have probably focused on examining this and telling Canadians that he does understand what is happening right now regarding inflation and the cost of living, which is going through the roof.
    Why did the member not talk about cutting taxes to help Canadians? Why did he not speak about reducing inflation so Canadians can have better ways of living, instead of attacking and attacking and giving himself all the credit?
    Madam Speaker, I do not really know what to make of that. We have Conservatives in the House who say they are concerned about the cost of living for Canadian families, but they are not going to accept dental care and are not going to support it. In fact, they moved a motion to gut the bill, which would help families pay for their children's dental expenses. How can they square that hypocrisy?
    We have Conservatives standing in this House saying they are going to cut back pensions and that they do not want the CPP to be a sound foundation of support for people's retirements. I remember the Harper government saying to 65-year-old and 66-year-old Canadians that they were going to rip off their pensions and take them away.
    Mr. Ziad Aboultaif: That is misleading.
    Mr. Peter Julian: Madam Speaker, Canadians judged them on that in 2015 and that is why the Conservatives remain in opposition.
    There is a point of order, but I do want to remind the hon. member for Edmonton Manning that he had an opportunity to ask a question. When the answer was being given, he should not have been interrupting. I hope the hon. member has a point of order and not a point of debate.
    The hon. member for Edmonton Manning.


    Madam Speaker, it is a point of order. I did not mean to do so, but it is misleading and I would ask the member to apologize—
    That is a point of debate.


    The hon. member for La Pointe-de-L'Île for a brief question.
    Madam Speaker, I would like to know what my colleague thinks of the government's refusal to increase health transfers, which would allow Quebec and provincial governments to improve dental care.
    How will this plan not penalize Quebec and New Brunswick, which already have programs to cover dental care?
    Madam Speaker, as the member for Burnaby South and the member for Vancouver Kingsway both said, the NDP has always pushed for increased health transfers. I can say with absolute certainty that if the NDP were in government, if we had enough members to form the government, we would have already increased health transfers. How would we pay for it? That is a no-brainer. We are losing $25 billion a year to tax havens; we could that money for health transfers. That is what the Parliamentary Budget Officer has said. We believe that investing in health is more important. We need to increase funding for our health care system to ensure an excellent system for all Canadians.
    Madam Speaker, I would like to start by saying that I will be sharing my time with my colleague from Laurentides—Labelle.
    We are hearing all sorts of things today, but let us get back to the basics of Bill C‑31. This essentially provides financial support to the parents of children under 12. It is not a dental care plan. I will illustrate that later.
    It also creates a rental housing benefit. The Bloc Québécois is not against the principles of the bill in general. However, there are important problems that will need to be carefully examined. I hope that in committee, the parties will be open to the idea of supporting an increase in payments for health care.
    The first problem I see is that, as I mention all the time, health falls under the jurisdiction of Quebec and the provinces. They are the ones that have the expertise. As recently as July, they reiterated their request that the federal government increase health transfers to cover 35% of spending, which amounts to $6 billion for Quebec. That is a lot of money every year. When I hear about small, one-time, stopgap measures for housing, for example, and I hear politicians delivering somewhat rehearsed speeches about what they are getting done, to me, it is but a drop in the bucket. Let us get serious and increase health transfers.
    My colleagues have become accustomed to my saying this, but I want to quote the Canadian Dental Association: “The single best way to quickly improve oral health and increase access to dental care is to invest in, and enhance, existing provincial and territorial dental programs.” It is talking about investing in provincial and territorial programs. “These programs are significantly underfunded and are almost exclusively financed by provincial and territorial governments.” The association points out that it is “important to ensure that any new initiatives do not disrupt access to dental care for the large majority of Canadians who already have dental coverage”. That is coming from the experts and not just the Bloc.
    I had the privilege of replacing my colleague from Mirabel at committee last week. We heard from Ms. Tomkins and discussed this point. The committee heard from many people, including Mr. Ungar, a researcher attending as an individual, who explained the importance of keeping decision-making in the regions, close to the people with needs because the needs are not the same in Nunavut, Ontario or Quebec. That is why there are local governments that are in the best position to make these decisions. The greater the distance between the decision-making and the need, the less appropriate decisions will be.
    On the second point, there is no evidence in Bill C‑31 that this money will go to dental care. It pains me to have to point that out in the House. However, I am somewhat surprised that I am one of only a few people talking about it this morning. A parent will be able to submit a dental bill for $100 and automatically receive a cheque for $650, with no further follow-up. That is not necessarily what we want. Imagine the amount of paperwork this could create. Plus, it allows another level of government to dabble in an area that Quebec is already responsible for.
    It is so tiring to come to Parliament and see how far Canada lags behind Quebec in social matters and to see that we are always paying for others.
    In 1974, Quebec insured children under the age of 10. It is not perfect, and we would never claim that it is, but it started in 1974. I think Canada is behind.
    In 1979, we also gave support to people on social assistance. Now, the great, all-knowing Canada is going to swoop in and add another program on top of that, using our taxes, but distributing money elsewhere, not just in Quebec. Quebec has already figured out what it is doing with its half of the budget.
    Once Quebeckers comprehend how much we manage to do with half a budget, they will realize we should be using our whole budget and claiming political independence to get rid of useless duplication. There is a reason the Bloc Québécois wants independence, and it is not because it is cute.
    I have already moved on to the third item. I got a little carried away again, but it is important to tell it like it is.


    This bill is more about politics and optics than anything of substance. The Liberal government is stubbornly rejecting the opposition's ideas. It has no respect for the opposition; all it cares about is a majority. How did it get that majority?
    First, it called an election in the middle of a pandemic, which was a bust. That did not work; we wound up with the same government. It activated Plan B and got into bed with the NDP, making promises to that party it never intended to keep. I am sad for the New Democrats. This benefit is for children. It is not dental insurance.
    Members of the House are supposed to be able to read. People read documents properly. I would like people to open their eyes to what is going on.
    Earlier this summer, Liberal ministers realized that there was absolutely no way they could set up a universal dental insurance plan across Canada by year's end. That was the NDP's fabricated ultimatum, so there were supposedly threats issued that I do not believe meant a thing because I will be very surprised the day the NDP votes against the government in this Parliament.
    The NDP led the government to believe that their agreement was hanging in the balance. So the government is proposing a phoney monetary benefit. It is pretending to give money for dental care. In the meantime, young people and seniors will not necessarily get more care.
    Ironically, the day the bill was introduced, there was a media release by different groups that were on the Hill, including unions, people who represent the less fortunate and seniors groups. They told us that even though they all agree with the government offering dental care to children, the people who are having the most difficulty affording dental care are seniors. There is still nothing for seniors.
    I would like the people from the NDP to explain that to me. Maybe I will get some answers in the questions they ask, but I would love to chat a bit.
    What are they doing about increasing old age pensions for seniors to help them afford groceries and pay their rent? What is being done about that? Is that seriously being traded for a single $500 payment for housing? During an election campaign or in front of the cameras they will make fine speeches about how they took action, when these are totally ineffective half-measures.
    Let us look at what the federal government is actually doing. The federal government's approach suggests that it alone has the corner on the truth. It is imposing conditions and has decided to take over health care, despite the 1867 Constitution that it signed behind our backs. It is all-knowing.
    If the government is indeed all-knowing, why can it not manage its EI program properly? Why did the EI temporary measures expire yesterday? Why has the minister done nothing over the past year, despite her mandate letter to improve this program and adequately protect our workers? No, the government would rather continue to steal from people. At present, EI pays just four out of 10 workers. If that is not stealing, I do not know what is.
    Let us talk about passports. What a mess. That falls under federal jurisdiction. The government needs to take action and do something. In early July, my office was dealing with about 15 passport cases a day. I have three employees in my office, four, including the person working in Ottawa. Just with immigration delays and border problems, I think the government has a lot on its plate.
    Yesterday I watched Tout le monde en parle. They had people on to tell their stories. Incidentally, I have a lot of respect these people. I think they showed incredible strength. Honestly, in their situation, I do not think I would have been able to speak so calmly about my child having been killed. That is what we are talking about. Faced with this, the Liberal government has introduced a bill that will reduce the number of legal guns while doing absolutely nothing about the illegal ones.
    Start by doing what you are supposed to do. We, in Quebec, will take care of the rest. Give us our money.


    First, I must remind the member that he is to address questions and comments or his speech through the Chair and not directly to the government.
    Second, he used the word “steal”. It is really not accepted parliamentary language here in the House. I would therefore ask him to be careful of what he says in his speech.
    The hon. member for Kings—Hants.
    Madam Speaker, I thank my hon. opposition colleague for his speech this afternoon.
    I understand the principle of provincial and territorial jurisdictions, in particular with respect to dental care. However, I do not understand why my colleague is against direct payments for rent support and dental care support until a potential agreement is signed with our partners in the confederation regarding the implementation of this strong federal program.
    Madam Speaker, I want to take this opportunity to rephrase the last sentence of my speech. I urge Parliament to mind its own business and look after its own affairs, instead of interfering with the provinces. I think that is worded better. I will be careful in the future.
    Now, to answer the question from my esteemed colleague, I would say that we are not against the bill. We will vote in favour of the bill at second reading so that it can be studied. However, as I said at the beginning of my speech, I hope that the government will be open to making amendments so that we can support the bill.
    Yes, children need care, but, as I said, we already have a program. We obtained the right to opt out of the day care program with full compensation. That was just before the election and, as we know, that can sometimes change decisions. This is one unfortunate aspect of politics in Canada.
    Since the government made an agreement for day care, why not do the same for dental care, since we already have our own program?
    We are not against the direct payment for rent support, but this measure is just a drop in the bucket.
    Madam Speaker, I want to thank the member for his speech. I am not certain that the $500 is an effective solution for those who cannot afford their rent.
    Does the member believe that it is a good initiative?
    Madam Speaker, as I said, it is obviously just a drop in the bucket. It adds up to $42 a month. For someone paying $1,500 or $1,600 a month in rent, it does not make a big difference. However, when people are in need, every cent they receive can give them a little bit of breathing room. That is why we have mixed feelings about it. Some members are saying that this changes nothing, that it does not address the problem, but if we can give $500 to people whose rent represents more than 30% of their income, I think we should do it.
    However, that is not all we should be doing. We should also be building housing. I do not know how many of us have ever taken economics courses, but it seems to me that the basic rules of supply and demand are not difficult to understand. There is a shortage of housing, so we should invest in construction. That will lessen the pressure on housing. This will require action, however, and we are faced with a government that is doing nothing.



    Mr. Speaker, I really appreciated my hon. colleague's speech. I hold him in high regard. I serve with him on the agriculture committee.
    He asked, during his speech, why seniors are not being covered. I would just encourage him to read the full text of the agreement. He would see that seniors are the next group who will be covered as part of the terms of this agreement.
    I guess my frustration is that we have waited for so long for dental care to be an issue, and I know that the children in my riding need this help now.
    He has seen the statistics. He knows that this is a desperate need in his community and in communities right across Canada. Would he agree, at least at this time, in this moment, that parliamentarians can come together and actually deliver something that Canadian children, Quebec children, need, so that their health outcomes do not get worse?


    Madam Speaker, I humbly thank my colleague, whom I hold in high regard as well. As I said in my speech, we are not against funding for dental care. What we are saying is that Quebec already has a system.
    The government is just adding another layer with more paperwork. It will cost more than we get in return. The government seems to be randomly throwing money out there. We want to see things done properly. We want higher transfers for Quebec, which already has a program and can manage on its own.
    Let me reassure my colleague that we have the same fundamental objective. This is a need, and we need our money. That is what we have been saying for quite some time.
    Madam Speaker, I will start by saying I gave myself a little challenge, and this is my first time giving a real speech with only a few notes. This is also my first speech of the session. I hope that we can all be productive here. We hear a lot about listening, but I want to focus on active listening. In other words, members who are here in the chamber must truly be present. Let us listen to one another, take notes and make sure that we understand things before debating. Otherwise, what is the point of being here today?
    I am obviously going to be talking about Bill C‑31, and in particular part 2, but first, I want to say that my thoughts are with those on the Magdalen Islands and the north shore. We stand with them. I visited the Maritimes this summer and this has made me emotional. I urge everyone watching us now to be very generous.
    I now want to talk about part 2 of the bill, which has to do with housing.
    I have mostly focused on the details of the bill, but I would like to say that before becoming an MP in 2019, I had already been working in the social development field in my community for many years as the director of a community development corporation.
    A community development corporation is a form of association that brings together all the organizations that work for the community. Collectively, we sounded the alarm over ten years ago. In fact, we sounded that alarm just when the funds and the agreements that had been in place before no longer existed. There is a reason why Quebec decided to roll up its sleeves and help Quebeckers.
    When I arrived in the House in 2019, my first speech dealt specifically with my concerns regarding what I had observed on the ground. Across Canada, including in Quebec, we have seen an increase in the number of people who are homeless or living in vulnerable situations.
    Yes, some programs have helped people cope with our northern winters, but that does not change the fact that the growing number of vulnerable people is a problem.
    My colleagues from other ridings and I have talked about how often people turn to us. People want to know what is going to happen a month from now, because they have two children and they have looked everywhere but are struggling to find a place to live.
    One person who comes to mind is Mélanie, who was wondering what she was supposed to do. The only place where she could live was 40 kilometres from her work, but gas cost more than she would ever have thought possible.
    What can we do?
    I think we need to take another look at what the government did not do. How could it have done more than provide this rental housing top-up, which is just a band-aid solution?
    A break on the rent provides a little relief, but it is a drop in the bucket considering everything else people have to deal with when things move fast and it is hard to cope.
    Yes, that $500 will help people. My colleague mentioned earlier that it adds up to $42 a month. I own rental housing, so I am acquainted with this subject. Supply and demand have completely changed the availability of housing, especially affordable housing. We all know rent has gone up a lot.
    This measure may help, but, as I said earlier, there is something else we have to keep in mind. When people find a place that meets their basic needs but is not near where they need to go, they have to spend more of their household income on transportation. That is a problem.
    I am concerned about the impact of that and about availability.


    I think all members are well aware of the situation, especially in Quebec. People reach out to our offices, and we often give them the tools they need to get the money they are entitled to, even though they do not always realize it exists. There is work to be done in that regard. It is our job to let people know that we can help them. There is no denying that this bill is going to pass. Of course, we cannot be against doing the right thing, but we have to think about what happens next.
    Earlier, my colleague mentioned the need to take the bull by the horns. Some will want to talk about the labour shortage and will wonder how we can get this done. We have to start somewhere. Student co-operatives are being set up, and landlords in different municipalities are eager to contribute, so I think now is the right time. Funding must be accessible and available. We cannot wait two years for a Canada-Quebec agreement, since we are wondering if it is even necessary, given that we already have measures for our citizens.
    Yes, it is necessary and it is even urgent. I was looking at the numbers for access to housing. Our performance as a G7 country is especially embarrassing. This is not the first time I have had the opportunity to talk with people abroad. When we look at the picture of who we are, I am quite often embarrassed. I tell them that we are going to address the problem because we know the situation is tough. According to the Association des professionnels de la construction et de l'habitation du Québec, there is a shortfall of between 40,000 and 60,000 housing units in Quebec. Those figures are from 2016. It is unbelievable.
    My colleague next to me represents the riding of Mirabel. That town has seen one of the largest population increases. We are welcoming, but where are we going to house everyone?
    Are the situations we are experiencing as homeowners normal? Three years ago, I received a phone call from an individual who told me he wanted to add his name to a waiting list because he really wanted to rent my apartment. He liked the location because it was near his work and his children's school. I had to ask him what he was talking about. He told me that my renter was leaving the following month. I learned that people wanted to add their names to a waiting list before my renter even notified me that he was leaving. I was not given three month's notice. In light of all this, I hope that action will be taken on things people have been calling for in the House, for which plenty of arguments have been made and that have repercussions on our constituents.
    I would even say to members that these are the people who voted for us and we must not forget about them. I am sad when I return to my riding and have to talk about what we did during the week and what action we will be taking. I feel that this place has not acknowledged that the housing crisis is a real crisis because, had we done so, we would have taken action. During the pandemic, we demonstrated that we really can act quickly and effectively during a true crisis. That is why I am asking members to make decisions and do something for our people who are currently at risk of becoming homeless. That is all I have to say for today.



    Madam Speaker, I like to think of Bill C-31 as progressive legislation that will ultimately meet the very high demand out there. Providing support for children under the age of 12 to get dental care, I think, will bring about profound and positive change for many children who ultimately end up in surgery situations or having to go into hospital because of not getting dental work, as an example.
    For clarity purposes only, I wonder if the member could just give a clear indication about this. The previous speaker implied that they would be voting in favour. Am I to understand that the Bloc members are going to be voting against the amendment and then in favour of the bill itself?


    Madam Speaker, I thank the member opposite for his question.
    I really talked about just part 2. We will obviously be supporting this proposal.
    We are extremely worried because we do not want Quebec and New Brunswick, which have already taken the initiative to help these people, to be penalized. That aspect worries us.
    As my colleague stated, helping people who cannot afford dental care is one thing. However, this bill is not proposing a dental care program. In my opinion, as the bill states, it is a cost of living relief measure.


    Madam Speaker, we have seen over the last two years that the Prime Minister has refused to meet with the premiers who have concerns about addressing health care. Perhaps if the Prime Minister had taken those meetings, he would have learned that all provinces, except for one province and one territory, offer dental care support for children in low-income families. In addition, 70% of Canadians already have dental care.
    Does the hon. member think that if the Prime Minister had had those consultations and negotiated with the provinces in good faith, we could have addressed other affordability issues Canadians are facing? Does he think that perhaps instead of adding new spending that would not help children and would not help provinces because it is duplicating programs that already exist, it could have eased some of the inflationary burden that is eating away at people's ability to pay their rent and provide care for their children every month?


    Madam Speaker, when one is in a relationship and must live together, one will obviously find all kinds of ways to maintain that relationship.
    I sincerely believe that the wording of this bill is all for show. That is why we are talking about dental care and the details on how this measure will be funded.
    As my colleague pointed out, this is ultimately a supplementary benefit. This is not the much-awaited outcome of the NDP-Liberal coalition.



    Madam Speaker, I remember when Stephen Harper went to the World Economic Forum to announce that he was ripping seniors off of their pensions. He did not tell seniors in Canada, but he told the World Economic Forum.
    Now the member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan is pushing a motion to cut off dental care benefits for children under 12. At least we are seeing a consistency with the Conservatives. They are going to kick seniors to the pavement, and they are going after children.
    I know the member is normally pretty lame in what he brings forward, but I think this really sends a strong message. I want to ask my hon. colleague what she thinks about this Conservative vision, in which not only do they go to the World Economic Forum to go after seniors, but they use their member from Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan to try to cut dental benefits for children in need.


    Madam Speaker, I am pleased to see that my interventions are now a little more polished. After three years I am getting the hang of it.
    I want to talk about the benefits. I sincerely believe that my colleague must be very disappointed to have to vote on this bill. Based on what we have been told so far, the dental care is nothing like what was expected. I would tell my colleague that his party needs to keep working because they are not there yet.
    I must remind the hon. member, as I mentioned last week, that she cannot use documents that have the party logo on them in the House. Advertising is not allowed.
    Resuming debate. The hon. member for Richmond Hill.


    Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley.
    Today, as I rise to speak to Bill C-31, an act respecting cost of living relief measures related to dental care and rental housing, I feel proud. I am delighted. More important, as indicated in the name of the act itself, I feel relief, relief from the fact this legislation lays out the groundwork, complements programs and through its two main elements, serves to address some of the most prominent affordability concerns in Canada, more specifically in my riding of Richmond Hill.
    It is a known fact that, following the COVID–19 pandemic and all the global and domestic challenges that have arisen since, Canadians have been deeply impacted by the rising cost of living. Addressing such large-scale issues cannot happen overnight, but rather through a multi-step, gradual process, which is exactly what is offered in Bill C-31.
    Allow me to provide a brief overview of the bill by breaking it down into its two main components: dental care and housing. These are two domains that affect not only the financial, but also the physical well-being of each and every Canadian. Our government's focus on enhancing each of them is widely apparent through the bill.
    To give a quick summary, Bill C-31 would make life more affordable for families across the country by providing dental care for Canadians in need with a family income of less than $90,000 annually, starting with children under 12 years old in 2022.
    It would also provide immediate relief for individuals and families struggling with housing affordability through a one time $500 supplement to the Canada housing benefit.
    Canadians are entitled to good oral health, regardless of their financial situation. It is estimated that about one-third of Canadians do not have any form of dental coverage and that one in five have avoided dental care because of its overwhelming cost. This is a dark reality for many low-income families. Canadians should not sacrifice their well-being and face long-term health issues because of their inability to afford seeing a dental professional. This is why we continue to work tirelessly across provinces and territories to ensure that accessible dental care is delivered to those who need it the most.
    While our government continues to develop a durable and inclusive national dental care program, which will provide $650 a year to eligible parents for the next two years, it will also ensure timely dental appointments and checkups for children.
    As a member of the health committee, I had the pleasure of hearing remarks from the president of the Canadian Dental Association, Dr. Lynn Tomkins, during my study on the topic of children's health. Dr. Tomkins testified that tooth decay remained one of the most common and preventable childhood chronic diseases in Canada.
     Beyond the risk of pain and tooth loss, the effects of the absence of dental care for children can be devastating. Missing school, improper eating and lack of sleep are among the factors that arise from the lack of dental treatment for children. In the words of Dr. Tomkins, “nothing is more heart wrenching than having to treat a young child with severe dental decay.” The experience can cause lasting dental anxiety and fear.
    This is why the Canadian Dental Association welcomed our government's once-in-a-generation federal investment in dental care.
     The Canadian Dental Association expressed its appreciation of the phased approach being taken by government toward this issue. This gradual approach will allow time for consultation and collaboration with all relevant stakeholders on a long-term solution to improving access to dental services.
    Bill C-31 also puts another key objective forward, which is ensuring every Canadian has a safe and affordable place to call home. We all know that the affordability crisis is top of mind for Canadians.
     As such, during the summer, I had the opportunity to catch up with many community members and leaders through events such as our community council breakfast meeting where my constituents shared their concerns about their daily struggle to make ends meet.


    For many renters, the high cost of living has resulted in an increasing challenge to find housing they can afford, which is why this legislation has arrived at the perfect time.
    When passed, this will put hundreds of dollars back into the pockets of millions struggling with increased rent costs through a one-time $500-top-up to the Canada housing benefit. This top-up would be in addition to the Canada housing benefit, which already provides an average of $2,500 to thousands of working individuals and families from coast to coast to coast. I want to emphasize that this payment is part of a larger comprehensive plan to assist Canadian families nationwide.
    Our housing strategies and programs have been successful in many ways. As a singular example, the launch of the affordable housing initiative back in 2016 aspired to create 4,000 units of housing. Instead, it has yielded 19,000. Following the legacy of this initiative, our plan will put Canada on the path to double housing construction over the next decade.
     These are only two highlights of the consistent initiatives our government has taken to achieve affordable and sustainable housing for more Canadians. At this time, we are on the right track to accomplishing just that, through the passing of C-31.
    Allow me to demonstrate just how important this legislation is to the people of my riding and, most important, to the key community leaders and service providers that strive to provide life-saving support for people experiencing homelessness year after year in Richmond Hill and across York Region.
    Blue Door, as the largest emergency housing operator in York Region, strives to provide emergency housing support services to children, youth, men, women and families at risk of homelessness. Blue Door's housing emergency program has lifted over 500 individuals out of poverty by helping them navigate through COVID-19; provided over 19,000 nights of safety for homeless individuals; and served over 64,000 meals for the vulnerable population across York Region.
    I continue to hear about the tremendously positive impact Blue Door makes in Richmond Hill through programs such as the mosaic interfaith out of the cold program.
     Every year, from November to June, homeless adults and youth in Richmond Hill are provided with essential support at the Richmond Hill Presbyterian Church, which is one of Blue Door's emergency housing sites.
    Speaking of community leaders and heroes, the 360° Kids organization in Richmond Hill is yet another key community service provider, which provides kids in crisis with care. Day in, day out, Clovis Grant and his dedicated team at 360° Kids help youth make positive changes in their lives by overcoming barriers and moving from crisis to a place of safety and security.
    I can confidently affirm that passing this important legislation will have a direct and positive impact on the lives of people, as the 360° Kids and Blue Door service users.
     I urge members to support community leaders across all ridings like Michael Braithwaite, Clovis Grant and their dedicated teams from Richmond Hill, who provide housing services to our most vulnerable, by passing the legislation so we can provide a safety net for those who need it the most.


    Madam Speaker, with regard to my colleague's comments on direct and positive impact, you mentioned, and I can question you on this, dental care programs—
    The member may want to use the word “he” instead of “you”.
    Madam Speaker, dental care programs for low-income children exist in almost all provinces and territories, and almost 70% of Canadians have dental coverage. Therefore, I question your statements that conject against that. Further, I acknowledge my error.
    Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. It is not clear whether she is speaking directly to you or young sheep. It is fair, for the record, to have it clear she is speaking through the Chair to the member.
    The member just corrected herself, so I will let the hon. member for Hastings—Lennox and Addington finish her question.
    Madam Speaker, I will finish by saying that the Prime Minister has announced more inflationary spending that does nothing to help seniors and families struggling to put gas in their tanks and food on their tables.
     Could the hon. member comment on the fact-checking in his remarks today?
    Madam Speaker, I had the pleasure of working with my colleague at the health committee for a short period of time. During that time, we heard from a number of witnesses, who stated that Canada, for the funds it transfers to provinces, places second in OECD countries. However, for health care delivery, we are 27th. For funds being transferred from the federal government to the provinces, we rank number two; for delivery services, we rank number 27. There is a gap.
    As we can see, it is also evident in the fact that on service delivery as it relates to oral health, especially for children under age 12, this gap remains. Our government, through this progressive program being introduced in this progressive bill, is trying to address that gap.


    Madam Speaker, to begin, I would like to acknowledge the presence of the member for Richmond—Arthabaska, who reminds us that bullying has no place in politics.
    With respect to Bill C-31, I would like to know whether my colleague from Richmond Hill is comfortable with the fact that the poorest parents are the ones who will suffer the most from this bill. In order to receive the increased Canada child benefit, they will have to deal with the Canada Revenue Agency's administrative hassle, not once but twice: first to qualify, and then to provide justification after the fact.
    I would like to know whether my colleague is comfortable with these regressive conditions in Bill C-31.


    Madam Speaker, I would like to acknowledge that I also have the pleasure of working with the member at the health committee.
    As we said, this is progressive legislation and we look forward to it going to committee and studying it, ensuring that all the areas are addressed.
    As it relates to the provinces, the provinces are doing their job of providing service delivery, especially in health care, to a lot of their constituents. It is great to see that Quebec is leading that. This is why we need to ensure that we take our time, work with all the provinces and ensure there are no unintended consequences. The details of how people qualify, how the money gets transferred and all of those things are yet to be determined. However, there was a need to ensure that we addressed the shortfall for children 12 and under, and we are taking concrete action on that today.
    I hope my colleague and his party support the bill.


    Madam Speaker, I want to quote Bea Bruske, president of the Canadian Labour Congress, who said, “Moving forward on rental and dental relief is essential and will help to ease the affordability crisis being faced by families today. The rising cost of housing and out-of-pocket dental care has put many families under water.”
    Although the Liberals voted against the NDP's 2021 motion to give Canadians access to dental care, I am happy they have finally agreed to follow suit.
    Does the member agree that this much-overdue dental care is necessary for all Canadians and would benefit us all?
    Madam Speaker, naturally we do. That is why we have introduced the bill and have taken leadership on ensuring that the areas where gaps exist in our health care delivery are addressed.
    Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today in this House and speak to Bill C-31, a piece of legislation that comes at a very critical time for a lot of Canadians. Many of my colleagues here in this place speak with people in our home communities and across our ridings about the challenges they face. When I speak to folks these days, so many of them tell me about the rising cost of living and the challenge it is placing on their family budgets.
     Many of these people talk to me about it and express how it feels that this is happening to them, and they have very little agency. They did not cause the war in Ukraine. They did not break the international supply chains. They did not force huge corporations to act in a time of crisis to jack up their profits on the backs of ordinary Canadians. People are working hard and are falling further behind.
    This crisis of inflation affects everybody, but it affects some more than others. It especially affects those on fixed and low incomes. Some folks have the ability to shift their spending, but when they are living on a limited income and when their paycheque is a fixed amount and the cost of everything is going up, they have very few options. Everyone in this place would agree that it is there that we should focus our policy attention as legislators. Those are the folks who need help the most right now.
    Part of this bill is a very simple component. The top-up of the Canada housing benefit would get a one-time $500 payment to Canadians who qualify for that benefit. Specifically, they are families who earn a net income of less than $35,000 a year. That would help 1.8 million Canadians with the cost of living, and it would make a real difference. It is something that the government should have brought in months and months ago, but the time to act is now. We need to ensure that this legislation gets through so that people can benefit from this payment.
    The second part of this legislation is also related to the cost of living. It would help Canadians with their costs, but it is different. The other part of this legislation, the Canada dental benefit, is a down payment on something that is going to have a profound and long-lasting benefit for millions of Canadians. It is going to be transformational and to make a difference for generations to come.
    Many would agree that universal health care is our country's crowning achievement. This is possibly our greatest policy achievement. It is something that is based on a simple but profound premise, which is that in a world in which so many of the aspects of quality of life correlate with one's financial status, health should be different. Everyone, no matter their income, should have access and the dignity of access to basic health care, yet, ever since the Canada Health Act was first passed into law in the 1960s, it has been a project incomplete. It has been a vision unfulfilled, because we all know that there are aspects of our health that were not included in the legislation that created universal health care. As New Democrats we have always held as part of the vision, right back to the days of Tommy Douglas, that things like our eyes, mental health and dental care are integral to our concept of health and to our health outcomes, and that they must be included in our vision of universal health care for all.
    Nobody here in this place can argue that dental care is not a part of health care. We all know people who suffer from extreme health issues as a result of dental pain and dental issues that go untreated. Dental care is expensive; everyone knows this as well. Thirty-five per cent of Canadians lack proper dental insurance, and that number jumps to 50% when we are talking about low-income Canadians. Seven million Canadians avoid going to the dentist because of the cost. It is shameful. It is something that has to change, and the bill in front of us is the first step in heading down that road. Canada's most vulnerable face the highest rates of dental decay and disease and the worst access to dental care. This is something we have to change. We are going to change that. This bill is the start.


    The legislation in front of us begins with the children of low- and modest-income families, and that is no mistake. We all know that if we can catch these dental care issues at a young age, we can prevent much more serious issues down the road. This is about prevention, and it is about helping young children address serious health issues before they become even more serious.
    In 1964, the Royal Commission on Health Services recommended precisely this. It stated that the government should, as quickly as possible, implement a dental program for children, yet here we are over half a century later, finally tackling this critical aspect of health care.
    Shamefully, tooth decay remains the most common, yet preventable, chronic childhood illness in Canada. The most common reason for kids undergoing day surgery and missing school is dental decay. The most common surgery performed at most pediatric hospitals across Canada is related to dental issues. Left unchecked, these issues affect people's health in profound ways, as I mentioned, but they are preventable and we are finally on the path to making things better.
    We are not going to stop at dental care for kids. I sent a mail-out to my constituents asking for their feedback on this proposed dental care program. The vast majority of the responses I received were from seniors. It is absolutely heartbreaking to hear some of the messages they sent me.
    One woman wrote in and said, “My husband is working at 67 years old to keep his coverage going. It would be great to have support so he could retire.” Someone else said, “We skip dental care because we can't afford it, and dread the day we might need serious attention.” Another senior wrote me and said, “Last year, one tooth cost me $5,000. That is 10 months of my CPP.”
    This is something we can address. What we have in front of us with the Canada dental benefit is indeed a down payment on a permanent national dental care plan. It is not only going to help kids under 12. It is going to help seniors. It is going to help youth under 18. It is going to help people with disabilities. It is going to help millions of Canadians who are struggling with dental health issues.
    New Democrats have pushed hard for dental care for a long time. Of course, it was always a part of our vision for universal health care. Just a year ago, our brilliant colleague, Jack Harris, stood in this House and put forward a motion urging the government to implement a national dental care plan. It was a sad thing that both Conservatives and Liberals voted down that motion, yet here we are a year later, taking the first steps toward a national dental care plan that is going to help millions of people. We got there for one reason: We did not give up, because we hold on to that vision of universal health care.
    It is no coincidence that the last time we achieved a transformational public health policy for Canadians with the Canada Health Act, it was New Democrats coming off the experience in Saskatchewan with universal health care under the leadership of Tommy Douglas, who pushed a Liberal government in a minority Parliament to do the right thing and create a change that has benefited so many people over the years. Here we find ourselves again in a position where this idea of making lives better for people by providing this care that so many people need is at a point at which we can finally move forward, and we are not going to stop until it becomes a reality. Creating a national dental care plan is about dignity, it is about health care and it is about bloody time.

Statements by Members

[Statements by Members]



Democratic Institutions

    Madam Speaker, I want to take a moment to thank the thousands of people in the riding of Richmond—Arthabaska, those across Quebec and Canada, as well as my colleagues from all parties, who have supported me over the past two weeks following my decision to act in line with my values and convictions and, accordingly, to sit as an independent member of Parliament from now on.
    We are fortunate to live in Canada, in a democracy that is the envy of the world. I call on the leaders of the various political parties to show respect, to set an example for their members, supporters and staff, and to denounce bullying in all its forms.
    A bullying campaign like the one I was subjected to 10 days ago by my former political party is unacceptable. Canadians do not want to see that kind of behaviour, and every member in the House has a duty to debate passionately but respectfully and to condemn aggressive, hateful or threatening speech. Our constituents expect nothing less from us.
    For the sake of our democracy, and to combat the current cynicism, let us all raise the level of debate.


Women and Gender Equality

    Madam Speaker, I offer my sincere condolences to the family of Mahsa Amini, who died in the custody of Iran’s odious morality police and was allegedly arrested for refusing to wear a hijab.
    No government should have any say in what a woman chooses to wear or chooses not to wear. I strongly condemn the actions of the Iranian regime. Canada must demand justice, and this morality police must be disbanded.
    As members can see, I wear a hijab. This is my choice and mine alone. I will always stand for choice. No one should pressure a woman, whatever her choices.
    Wherever we call home, women are entitled to their autonomy. Governments should stop trying to police what we wear and do not wear. I stand in solidarity with those who protest and fight for these rights in Iran and around the world.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

    Madam Speaker, our new Conservative leader will put people first: their retirement, their paycheques, their homes and their country. That is why, this past June, I introduced my first private member's bill, Bill C-286, the recognition of foreign credentials act. This legislation will streamline the process of connecting skilled immigrants with jobs that our economy desperately needs. This is a vital step in making life more affordable for Canadians.
    I spent the summer consulting with stakeholders and constituents to discuss this legislation. The feedback is overwhelming. Canada's foreign credentials system is broken. It is a 19th-century system governing a 21st-century labour market.
    Having doctors drive taxis is unacceptable. The NDP-Liberal coalition is too busy fuelling the inflation fire and has not done anything to help newcomers work in their fields. Conservatives, under our new leader, are committed to helping newcomers get the jobs they were trained for.
    I urge every single MP to lay down their instruments, get to work and pass this important legislation for our country.

Human Rights in Iran

    Madam Speaker, watching the growing protests in my home country in demand of justice for 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, I ask myself how I would have coped if this tragedy and murder had occurred to my own daughter.
    The heart-wrenching murder of this young woman at the hands of Iran’s morality police is yet another demonstration of the unconscionable atrocities and continued violence inflicted by Iran's oppressive regime. The demands of the Iranian people and those of us living in the diaspora are simple. We demand justice, accountability and an end to the cruelty of the Iranian regime.
    In bold acts of defiance and at the risk of losing their lives, the brave people of Iran, led by women at the forefront, are rushing to the streets in protest, but their voices are silenced through Internet shutdowns and the killing of protesters.
    When you see the news, ask yourself: What would you do if it were your mother, sister, wife or daughter in the headlines?
    In solidarity with the women and people of Iran, join me in the chant that has swept the nation: “Woman, life, freedom.”
    Zan, Zendegi, Azadi.



Hurricane Fiona

    Mr. Speaker, the Gaspé Peninsula, the Magdalen Islands, the Lower North Shore and the Maritimes are assessing the damage. Hurricane Fiona left devastation in its wake.
    On behalf of the Bloc Québécois, I want to offer my condolences to the loved ones of the two victims and express my support for all the people who suffered losses. I also want to thank all the people who are working to clean up the damage, restore power and help the victims. I want to acknowledge my stepfather, Mario, and all the Hydro-Québec teams that have been deployed to Nova Scotia.
    I want to acknowledge that the federal government was active and collaborative this weekend. I appreciate that. However, the government also needs to realize that it is not normal to have a tropical storm here. Our regions are already experiencing the effects of climate change.
    Ottawa should go and ask the people whose homes were swallowed up by the sea whether it is a good idea to keep approving oil and gas projects. It should explain to the people who lost their car, boat or practically all their belongings why it is taking their taxes and using them to subsidize the oil companies.
    A tropical storm in eastern Quebec is not a normal occurrence, and it is up to the government to ensure that it stays that way.

Festival of Colours in Rigaud

    Mr. Speaker, this year marks the 24th time Rigaud celebrates the beauty of fall. For the seventh time in the House, I would like to take this opportunity to invite everyone in Vaudreuil—Soulanges to take part in the Rigaud festival of colours, which this year will be held from October 8 to 10.
    Thanks once again to the great job done by Christiane Lévesque and her team of dedicated volunteers, with the generous support of Canadian Heritage, Mayor Marie-Claude Frigault and the mayor's City of Rigaud team, everyone, young and old, can participate in the many activities and take the time to admire the magic of the fall colours on display.
    The natural beauty of our region and the richness of its artisans will be showcased together this year at Mount Rigaud, and I invite all the members of our Vaudreuil—Soulanges community to come discover them at the 24th festival of colours in Rigaud.


Automatic External Defibrillators

    Mr. Speaker, equipping each RCMP vehicle a decade ago with an automatic external defibrillator, or AED, would have cost under $10 million and would have saved roughly 3,000 lives over the 10-year life of the AED units, at a cost of $3,000 per life saved. However, this Liberal government has done nothing and those lives are gone forever.
    I first raised this issue in the House in 2015 and again in 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2020. Just before the pandemic, I met with the previous minister, and he agreed with me that AEDs should be a priority. In June of this year, I questioned the current minister, and he boasted to the House that he was spending hundreds of millions of dollars on what he called life-saving equipment for the RCMP, but in both cases there was no action.
     Records confirm that the last time a minister even requested information from the RCMP or the department regarding AEDs for RCMP cruisers was in November 2014. Surely the time has come for less wheel spinning and more action.

Run for Vaughan

    Mr. Speaker, great communities do not just happen. They are built on the values of partnership, teamwork and community spirit. Yesterday, all of these values were on display as hundreds of residents from the city of Vaughan came together for the annual Run for Vaughan.
    Organized by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association, and now in its 19th year, the Run for Vaughan supports excellence in health care in our city. Since 2003, the annual event has raised over $1.2 million, with this weekend’s event adding an additional $275,000 in support of the Cortellucci Vaughan Hospital. Impressively, this is a youth-led initiative by my dear friend Zohaib Malhi, with the run expanding this year to over 15 cities across Canada.
    The community spirit and generosity of the Ahmadiyya community is something that makes the city of Vaughan a more inclusive community and underpins the phrase that diversity is truly Canada’s strength.
    As chair of the Ahmadiyya parliamentary association, I wish to thank the entire community.


Savanna Pikuyak

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to honour Savanna Pikuyak, a young Inuk woman who was murdered just weeks after arriving in Ottawa to study nursing at Algonquin College in my riding.
    Before coming to Ottawa, Savanna studied pre-health at Nunavut Arctic College and worked at the health centre in her home community in Nunavut. All she wanted was to help people, but on September 11, at 22 years old, Savanna was senselessly murdered in the apartment she was renting.
    Too often, young indigenous women come to our city and do not have access to safe housing. Violence against indigenous women is very real and very devastating. Because there was no safe place for Savanna to live, her family and her community are grieving.
    I want to express my deepest condolences to Savanna Pikuyak's family and community. We will not forget her.


Conservative Party Priorities

    Mr. Speaker, the House of Commons has resumed parliamentary business, and the Conservatives are back with a new leader.
    In the coming months, this leader will put people, their pensions, their paycheques, their homes and their country first. For this reason, he has entrusted me with the role of political lieutenant for Quebec to ensure that our vision for Canada includes the priorities of Quebec society.
    I accept this role with humility, but also with the certainty that we will rally Conservatives across Quebec and offer political orphans a new vision of a government that is proactive, unlike the one that has governed us so poorly over the past seven years.
    Over the next few months and starting this week, I will be meeting with the business community, ethnic communities and various stakeholders to learn more about their vision, their challenges and especially the solutions they are proposing to improve government services. Many issues need to be addressed and that is what I will be doing in collaboration with my colleagues.
    Considering the ups and downs we have been experiencing as of late, changes need to be made. If anyone can bring hope to all Canadians and rally a majority of Quebeckers, it is the new Conservative leader.


Shootings in Milton

    Mr. Speaker, on September 12, a tragic and terrifying series of gun attacks left our community shocked, scared and in mourning. A Toronto police officer, Constable Andrew Hong, and Shakeel Ashraf, a small business owner from our community in Milton, as well as his colleague, Satwinder Singh, an exchange student, were brutally murdered when a gunman terrorized our communities and the residents of Mississauga and Milton.
    My sincere condolences go to the families and the loved ones of the deceased.
    I would like to extend gratitude to all of the first responders and police services of Halton, Hamilton and Peel, as well as the OPP, who worked together to bring an end to the attacks. I offer my thanks for their brave and dedicated service.
    Canadians deserve to feel safe in their homes and in their communities, and nobody should live in fear of gun violence. This government has done more than any in a generation to keep Canadians safe from guns and crime, but there is much more work to be done.
    Milton is a strong, compassionate and resilient community. We will continue to support each other as we grieve and work through this tragedy. We will remember Andrew, Shakeel and Satwinder as community leaders, friends and neighbours. My thoughts remain with their families, their friends and their colleagues. May they rest in peace.

Hurricane Fiona

    Mr. Speaker, hurricane Fiona has been devastating. First and foremost, I must send condolences on behalf of this House to the family of the 73-year-old lady who died in Port aux Basques.
    Further, I want to praise the resilience and comradery of the residents of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, P.E.I. and Newfoundland. To see neighbour helping neighbour without pretense or expectation warms my heart as a Canadian.
    Some have lost their homes and their businesses. Power remains yet to be restored to almost 40% of Nova Scotia Power's customers. This morning I left my family at home without electricity. On a positive note, it is important to remember the Jacob Currys of the world who are fearless, giving of themselves and a whiz with a chainsaw. How does one get a 60-foot tree off a car without causing further damage? It is done with a three and a half tonne jack, a six-by-six, a couple of two-by-sixes and great help, of course.
    We must remember that coming together in times of great need is what helped build this nation. When given a chance and hope, Canadians will rise to a challenge and give their absolute best. Let us continue to keep Atlantic Canada in our thoughts and in our prayers in this most difficult time.


Hurricane Fiona

    Mr. Speaker, this week has been quite an ordeal for Atlantic Canadians. Hurricane Fiona left desperation and destruction in her path throughout Nova Scotia, Cape Breton, Prince Edward Island, Îles de la Madeleine, and Newfoundland and Labrador. I stand with this House in mourning the loss of life, as all Canadians do.
    It will take days, if not weeks, to restore many communities' power. It will take months, if not years, to pick up the pieces of our communities. It is at these times that we are proud to be Canadians. We know that through despair and destruction we will find hope and love, helping one another to rebuild and to take care of one another. In the depths of the darkness of the wind and rain, there were many points of light trying to ensure the safety of our loved ones.
    I want to thank emergency measures organizations, first responders, police, fire and paramedics who were there through the hurricane to save lives and help others.
    I want to thank power crews and the public works department for starting the daunting task of cleaning up.
    Fiona may have knocked us down, but we are Atlantic Canadians. We are already back up.


Human Rights

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to sound the alarm on the critical situation of the Uighurs and other Turkic peoples in Xinjiang, China.


    Today, the National Council of Canadian Muslims and the Canadian Uighur community have organized a Uighur advocacy day on the Hill.
    In February 2021, this House recognized the Uighur genocide. Currently, over one million are living this nightmare. Recently, in August, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights released a groundbreaking report contributing to the mounting evidence of serious and systemic rights abuses against the Uighur people. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights further said that these may rise to crimes against humanity.
    Following the UN report, our foreign affairs minister said two things: that Canada will work with the international community to hold China to account; and that forced labour in supply chains will be addressed.

The Economy

    Mr. Speaker, with the economy on the brink of a recession and the Bank of Canada calling for the suppression of workers' wages, we already know who is paying the true cost of inflation. Central bankers and economists have always known that higher interest rates will directly result in higher unemployment and cause deeper economic suffering and further exploitation of the working class.
    Just last week, the Liberal government callously allowed the extended EI supports to expire, further punishing workers by making it harder for them to access the benefits they paid into, and the leader of the official opposition has shown Canadians his real priorities, attacking the pensions of vulnerable seniors who need it most and calling for a freeze on employment insurance contributions.
     In the face of even tougher economic times ahead, only New Democrats are fighting for stronger social safety nets and a co-operative economy that places everyday Canadians, and not corporate profits, at the heart of economic decision-making.


Trois‑Rivières Racetrack

    Mr. Speaker, the Hippodrome Trois-Rivières has been holding horse races since 1830, which makes it the oldest racetrack in Quebec. After the racetrack owner went bankrupt, the track was purchased in 2012 by the Quebec Jockey Club, which got to work revitalizing horse racing and making this track the only active professional racetrack in Quebec.
    Twice a week from May to November, the races are brilliantly called in French by Guy Lafontaine and presented by satellite across North America. More than 100,000 people go to Trois‑Rivières every year to watch the races and admire these magnificent animals at work. I hope to be able to admire the unforgettable Kingston Panic, Apocalypse Alpha, Miss Peggy Sue and Poisson d'avril for a long time.
    I congratulate the president of the Quebec Jockey Club, Claude Lévesque, for his excellent work, and I invite all horse race lovers to spend a day at the Trois-Rivières racetrack.


Hurricane Fiona

    Mr. Speaker, hurricane Fiona was not our first hurricane in Atlantic Canada. Since 1951 we have been hit by 37 hurricanes, 79 tropical storms and 140 extra-tropical storms. We know how to prepare for these. Fiona was different. It was huge, recording some of the strongest winds ever. Many in Nova Scotia are still without power. Northern Nova Scotia and Cape Breton were hit hard, so too P.E.I. and Newfoundland. Homes and businesses have been lost, critical coastal infrastructure destroyed and farms devastated. Fishing communities have lost their boats, gear and wharves.
     Nova Scotians are tough, and we will come together to support each other. I would like to thank the power workers putting in long days to restore power and those who are supporting their fellow community members at emergency shelters and warming centres.
    The character of our communities is most present at times of tragedy. As we start to rebuild, Atlantic Canadians know that the strongest storms bring out the best of us.


Hurricane Fiona

    Mr. Speaker, people across Atlantic Canada and into eastern Quebec have just experienced what is likely the worst system to have ever hit our shores. The images are burned into our memories forever: homes and loved ones swept into the sea; communities physically torn apart. Lives have been lost, but through this darkness stories continue to emerge of neighbours helping neighbours and incredible acts of kindness showcasing our region's resilient spirit.
    Canadian Armed Forces are on the ground in Nova Scotia, in Newfoundland and Labrador and in P.E.I., helping where they are needed the most. The government remains in constant communication with all affected provinces so that we can provide support as needed.
    We are looking at a very long road to recovery ahead of us. My message to everyone affected by this is that they are not alone. The government will be there as a strong federal partner every step of the way.

Oral Questions

[Oral Questions]


Disaster Assistance

    Mr. Speaker, first of all, I would like to express the official opposition's total solidarity with all the families in Atlantic Canada and eastern Quebec whose lives have been disrupted by hurricane Fiona.


    We offer our condolences to anyone who has lost a loved one and our support to anyone who has lost a home or a business. Would the government please tell us its action plan to help, and how members of this side of the House could join in solidarity with the government to make that help a success for our fellow Canadians in the east?


    Mr. Speaker, I thank the leader of the official opposition for his words, as well as all members who have expressed their solidarity with our friends in Atlantic Canada. Our thoughts are with everyone who is hurting as a result of this storm. Our thoughts are especially with the families who have lost loved ones.
    The Canadian Armed Forces have been deployed to Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador. The government has also set up a matching fund to double donations to the Red Cross over the next 30 days. I encourage all Canadians to be generous.
    Canadians are there for each other, and this time is no different.


    Mr. Speaker, P.E.I. potato farmers were already suffering because of the self-imposed export ban. Now they may have lost another year's crop. Dairy farmers out east are without electricity, meaning they might lose livestock. Fishers are losing boats, wharves and other critical infrastructure.
    Traditional bureaucratic government programs are very slow to respond. What will the government do to speed up a response to help those who feed all of us get back on their feet?
    Mr. Speaker, as early as last Tuesday, we started working with local communities on the ground and provincial leadership to prepare for what we knew would be a big storm coming. Indeed, when the storm hit, we were connecting immediately with premiers, municipalities and indigenous leaders to make sure they were getting all the support they have and need.
    We will continue to be there as a federal government with immediate supports, with the military where it is needed, with investments in the short term, but we will also be there over the medium and indeed long term as people rebuild, and as we support the people who work so hard to keep us fed and supported.


    Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotia Power reported that the ArriveCAN app blocked American crews that were trying to rush into the province to help with the recovery response and wasted valuable time. Originally, the public safety minister denied that had happened, only to be contradicted by the emergency preparedness minister who said that, in fact, there had been an issue at the border.
    Will the Prime Minister suspend the ArriveCAN app today, not Saturday, so no more holdups happen at the border for those who are trying to help those in desperate need?
    Mr. Speaker, obviously everyone's focus was on getting support to affected areas as quickly as possible. I, myself, saw off an Ottawa Hydro crew heading out to Nova Scotia to help out.
    We know how important it is that people get across the border quickly. I can confirm that there were no delays at any border because of ArriveCAN or otherwise.


    Mr. Speaker, hundreds of thousands of people in Atlantic Canada are still without power. Roads through these regions remain blocked, and several areas are unreachable. As we know, the Prime Minister has deployed some military personnel to help these communities, but I would remind the House that, in Quebec, in 1998, thousands of soldiers were deployed to help Hydro-Québec and to support emergency shelters.
    Can the Prime Minister confirm whether 5 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group is ready to be deployed immediately?
    Mr. Speaker, we have been working with our provincial counterparts since before the storm even hit to ensure that whatever supports they might need are ready, including military assistance.
    We responded immediately by sending the necessary military personnel that was requested, and we are prepared to send more, if needed. The federal government will continue to be there for the people of Atlantic Canada and eastern Quebec.
    Mr. Speaker, as everyone knows, as of yesterday, there were 340,000 homes without power in Atlantic Canada. To make matters worse, teams coming from the United States were held up at the border because of the ArriveCAN app.
    We know that the Prime Minister has asked that the ArriveCAN app be suspended for these teams, but can he confirm that it will be suspended immediately for everyone?
    Mr. Speaker, we understand how important it is for people to be able to get here and provide assistance. I saw a team from Ottawa going to Nova Scotia tonight. We have also seen teams from the United States coming to Canada to help those affected. We thank them all.
    The reality is that there have been no delays at the borders because of ArriveCAN or for any other reason. There have been no delays. We are working to ensure that all necessary assistance arrives quickly.


    Mr. Speaker, Ottawa is ending health measures at the border. No more tests, no more masks, no more quarantine. It is over.
    That brings me to the issue of health transfers. In 2021, the Prime Minister said that he was considering increasing them, but only after the crisis. He said, “We will sit down and talk with the provinces and territories about how to increase health transfers.... But those conversations need to take place after we have weathered this current crisis.”
    If the Prime Minister believes the crisis is far enough behind us to suspend health measures, when will he call a summit on health transfers?
    Mr. Speaker, as Canadians know, the federal government was there with record investments to respond to the health crisis that we went through over the past two years. We are talking about an additional $72 billion that the federal government invested in health care.
    For several months, our Minister of Health, other ministers and I have been in conversation with our provincial partners to determine how we can make investments to help our health care system get back on track and be prepared to meet future challenges. We are going to work together on this.
    Mr. Speaker, I cannot make these things up: There is one place in Quebec where the pandemic is still raging, and it is the only place where the federal government still refuses to invest money. I am talking about our health care centres.
    This morning, I was listening to the Minister of Health talk about exhausted health care professionals. He said we need to take care of our health care workers if we want them to take care of us. Those are fine words. That is exactly what Quebec and the provinces are asking for, and it is exactly what the federal government still refuses to do.
    If the Prime Minister wants to take care of health care workers, then there needs to be a summit on health transfers as soon as possible. There is no time to wait and no more excuses. He has to keep his word.
    When will he organize the summit?


    Mr. Speaker, our health workers and our seniors need real help, measures that will be implemented and services. That is why we have been working with our provincial partners for quite some time and, yes, we are committed to making more investments in health care.
    I know that Quebeckers and all Canadians expect to see results. That does not take just money, there have to be results. That is why we are having discussions with the provinces to ensure that these new investments make it into the right hands and really help people.


    Mr. Speaker, the price of groceries is skyrocketing. The price of bread is up 15%, fruit is up 13% and pasta is up 32%. Even a bag of potatoes costs $8.
    Families have to tighten their belts. In the meantime, the three major grocery chains are making $3.5 billion. That is $3,500 million. There is no question that grocery prices are increasing because CEOs want to make more profit.
    What is the government doing? Nothing. What are the Conservatives calling for? That the government not interfere. Why are the Liberals protecting CEOs' pockets instead of families' pockets?
    Mr. Speaker, first of all, members on this side of the House are very concerned about the rising cost of living confronting all Canadians. That is why we put forward a plan to double the GST credit, to help low-income families provide dental care for their children and to invest in helping low-income renters get through this crisis.
    We are here to help people. Plus, as we announced in the last election campaign, we are asking big financial institutions to contribute more because we need to make sure that everyone pays their fair share and that we help those who need it most.


    Mr. Speaker, those are all programs that the NDP forced the Prime Minister to do.
    The reality is there has been no crackdown on profiteering and no attempt to make the ultrarich pay their fair share. Grocery chain profits have hit $3.5 billion while a quarter of Canadians are going hungry. Corporate greed is making inflation worse and hurting Canadian families. While people struggle to pay for their groceries, the Prime Minister is letting corporate greed go unchecked.
    Will the Liberals put into place a windfall tax to force wealthy CEOs to pay their fair share now?
    Mr. Speaker, our focus on this side of the House is delivering real solutions for Canadians, which is why we are moving forward with a plan to double the GST credit for families that need it, moving forward on dental supports for low-income families that want dental care for their kids and moving forward with supports for low-income renters as well. These are things that we know will make a real difference in the lives of Canadians who are hurting. At the same time, budget 2022 included a temporary Canada recovery dividend and increased the corporate income tax on large financial institutions permanently. We will continue to stick up for all Canadians.


    Mr. Speaker, I will choose to believe the Premier of Nova Scotia over the Liberal Prime Minister with respect to ArriveCAN.
    Sadly, there are other things to highlight. Inaction by the Liberal government has left rural and remote Canadians at a serious disadvantage. In the last several days, while cleaning up, we have seen Atlantic Canadians with very poor cellphone service. The government's promise to improve connectivity for rural and remote Canada has not materialized.
    For the safety of Canadians, when will the government make connectivity a priority?


    Mr. Speaker, we know that mobile connectivity is very important to keeping rural and remote communities safe.
    For our country to be proud of its connectivity, we have to ensure access to high-speed broadband mobile services. That is why a dedicated funding envelope in the universal broadband fund for mobile connectivity in communities, including indigenous communities, is essential.



    Mr. Speaker, it is that kind of priority that makes us really question how soon help will get to Atlantic Canada.
    We are still cutting down trees to free trapped vehicles and damaged buildings, and the people in Cumberland—Colchester sadly come up to me to say they are very concerned about the economy and the cost of living. They want the Liberal government to know that times are tough, that they are finding it hard to make ends meet and that hurricane Fiona has made things even worse. They want to know when the Prime Minister will cancel the planned tax hikes on paycheques, gas, groceries and home heating.


    Mr. Speaker, as it is the first time I rise in the House today, let me start with a message addressed directly to the people of Atlantic Canada and the people of Quebec, who have been so hard hit by Fiona. Speaking as a member of this government, as Finance Minister and as Deputy Prime Minister, I want to assure them that they will have our government's full support, and I hope this House's full support, in the rebuilding of their homes and their communities.

Disaster Assistance

    Mr. Speaker, this past weekend, Atlantic Canadians were hit very hard by hurricane Fiona. Canadians across the country were shocked and saddened by the images they saw of destruction left behind in its wake. I know that those affected by this tragedy are in the thoughts and prayers of all Canadians.
    In a crisis, collaboration, coordination and rapidity of response are critical. Can the Prime Minister tell this House how the government is collaborating with the Atlantic provinces and premiers in their recovery efforts? Why has the government not authorized the deployment of more troops for the removal of downed trees, in conjunction with the provinces? The Atlantic provinces need help now.
    Mr. Speaker, we agree with our hon. colleague that the Atlantic provinces and eastern Quebec need help now, and that is exactly what we are delivering to the communities and people affected.
    I can tell my hon. friend that I spoke with the four Atlantic premiers again this morning. We have an ongoing and active conversation, as do all of my colleagues. Every request that they make of our government will be acted upon quickly. They know that. We acted before the storm hit so we would be prepared to respond in exactly the way my hon. friend wanted.
    Mr. Speaker, for months, the Conservatives have been calling on the government to scrap the failed ArriveCAN app, but rather than admit it was the right thing to do, the Prime Minister refused to budge on a border policy that was already plagued with issues. Incredibly, this weekend, that came at the cost of emergency crews from the U.S. being stuck at the border when Atlantic Canadians needed their help.
    Will the government ensure now that useless red tape is eliminated so that Atlantic Canadians can get the support they need?
    Mr. Speaker, I want to begin by attributing myself to the comment previously made by all hon. members, which is that we stand with all impacted Canadians in the wake of hurricane Fiona.
    As this House has heard, the government is deploying the Canadian Armed Forces. We are matching contributions to the Red Cross, and we are also dispatching federal funds to do whatever we can to support impacted Canadians.
    When it comes to ArriveCAN, I want to inform my hon. colleague that I reached out to Premier Houston, as did my colleague, the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs. We assured him and the members of his government that we will do whatever we can to facilitate the travel of first responders to help Nova Scotians and we will do whatever it takes to support Canadians at this time.
    Mr. Speaker, it is not the first time.


    Nova Scotia Power and Premier Tim Houston have said that ArriveCAN created issues for American teams coming to help restore power.
    The victims of hurricane Fiona need to know that their government is there for them. Sadly, the Liberal government is flying by the seat of its pants once again when it should be taking action. Unbelievably, Fisheries and Oceans Canada told people not to harvest any lobsters washed up on the shore instead of worrying about those whose houses were swept away into the ocean. That happened, and it is unacceptable.
    Will the Prime Minister get his people in line and help those who have problems, who are facing challenges and just had a terrible weekend?
    Mr. Speaker, during times of stress and hardship it is very important to stick to the facts. That is why I am happy to confirm that, contrary to any rumours or claims we have heard, there were no delays at the border because of ArriveCAN.
    Mr. Speaker, that is what Nova Scotia Power and Premier Tim Houston said.
    The Magdalen Islands, the Gaspé peninsula and all of Atlantic Canada were hit hard by hurricane Fiona at a time when the people of those regions are already grappling with the cost of living crisis.
    We have a question today. Can the government tell us how it plans to minimize the red tape involved in helping people rebuild their homes and revive their businesses so that everyone can get back to normal as soon as possible?


    I can assure him that that is exactly the kind of conversation we are already having with the premiers of the Atlantic provinces and the Government of Quebec. We are using a model the Prime Minister introduced with Premier Horgan in British Columbia. The idea is to expedite applications for federal assistance to make sure that reconstruction happens in partnership with the provinces as quickly as possible. I am going to pursue this conversation and work with our Atlantic Canada counterparts to set up a special system.

Climate Change

    Mr. Speaker, thousands of Quebeckers marched last Friday to demand that governments take bolder action in the fight against climate change. The fact remains that if there is one government that is not doing enough, it is this federal government. Oil production continues to rise, and oil subsidies remain in place. Canada is still part of the problem, despite the rhetoric.
    When will the minister start acting like we are in a climate emergency? When will he begin to take bold, concrete action to fight global warming?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question.
    I would also like to add my voice to those of other members who are thinking of the people and families who lost loved ones in hurricane Fiona, one of the worst storms to ever hit eastern Canada.
    The barometric pressure was the lowest ever recorded on the east coast of the country. I would like to take a moment to commend the work of the Meteorological Service of Canada in helping emergency services, local populations, and local and federal governments prepare for this storm.
    Mr. Speaker, let us talk about Fiona and the devastation in the Atlantic region. In Quebec, the Magdalen Islands, the Gaspé and the Côte-Nord were also hit hard. This is a direct result of global warming, along with the heat waves, forest fires, flooding and melting permafrost. Things are not going well, and if we do nothing then they will only get worse.
    Does the minister recognize that without bold ideas, strong action, and a solid strategy to combat climate change, we are headed for disaster?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question.
    I would remind her that we have a plan providing for investments of $109 billion to combat climate change, which is three times more per capita than the United States is spending.
    In addition, we fought for the carbon tax all the way to the Supreme Court. We are implementing programs to help phase out oil-based heating, which is three times more expensive and produces a great deal of pollution. We are working to eliminate cars and the use of internal combustion engines in Canada by 2035, as California and Europe are doing. Our government is one of the most ambitious governments when it comes to climate action.
    Mr. Speaker, we want to believe the minister. We want to see the Greenpeace and Équiterre activist, but we no longer recognize him. He is telling us that, yes, it is serious, but he is also giving the green light to Bay du Nord. He talks like a friend of the environment, but acts like a friend of the oil industry. He is saying that he will take action later, but we need action now. Let him tell the people of Atlantic Canada that he has objectives for 2030 and 2050.
    Why is he putting off to tomorrow what he must and can do today? Will he immediately get rid of fossil fuel subsidies?
    Mr. Speaker, it takes some nerve for my colleague opposite to ask that question, when the leader of his own party approved the Anticosti drilling plan without any environmental assessment. I do not think my hon. colleague is in a position to lecture us.
    I remind the member that our climate action plan was still supported by my former colleagues at Greenpeace and Équiterre and by many organizations across the country.


Fisheries and Oceans

    Mr. Speaker, a critical part of hurricane Fiona rebuilding is the damage caused to our fishing industry. Wharves are damaged and lost, fishing gear is ruined and vessels are totalled. Without this infrastructure, there is little economic opportunity for our coastal communities. Wharves are our fishing industry's Trans-Canada Highway. The poor DFO maintenance and management, raised in four parliamentary reports, made them vulnerable to destruction.
    They are DFO's responsibility. When will the rebuilding of our wharves begin?


    Mr. Speaker, I just want to add my voice to those thinking of all of the residents of Atlantic Canada who have been shocked and impacted.
    We are assessing the impact on wharves and other infrastructure in the fisheries communities. As the Prime Minister has said, we will be there for people. I can only imagine how difficult this is for Atlantic Canadians right now. We will do everything we can to support them. The Coast Guard and DFO—
    The hon. member for South Shore—St. Margarets.
    Mr. Speaker, good wishes are not enough. If this happened on the Trans-Canada Highway, reconstruction would be happening now. There are only a few weeks left until winter sets in. We cannot wait weeks for assessments, months for design and permitting, months for tendering and months for construction. DFO needs to use its enormous power now to begin rebuilding now.
    When will DFO do its job, support commercial fishermen and get to work?
    Mr. Speaker, our officials are doing just that. Our Coast Guard officials are standing ready to help in any way possible. They are helping with cleanup. They are helping with assessing the damage.
    We will be there for the residents of Atlantic Canada. We will be there for the fish harvesters and the damage to their interests and equipment.
    Mr. Speaker, hurricane Fiona has caused devastation in communities across Atlantic Canada. This lobster season has already been a tough one, with bait and fuel prices high and the price of lobster low. Fishermen have lost three days in this short but critical season. The search for gear and the resetting of traps will ruin more than a week. Fishing wharves have been heavily damaged, including Escuminac.
    Will the minister show support for our fishermen and extend the lobster season?
    Mr. Speaker, we are very aware of the extensive impact on residents and fish harvesters in Atlantic Canada. We are certainly considering requests to extend seasons as we do the other immediate work to help individuals and communities with the impacts of this incredible disaster.

International Development

    Mr. Speaker, 23 million Afghans are dealing with drought, food shortages and the breakdown of health services. Canadian humanitarian organizations face criminal prosecution if they even try to help because of the government's restrictive interpretation of the Criminal Code. We have been asking the government to fix this for over a year and the minister has done nothing. This inaction is shocking. Canadians want to help Afghans in need.
    Will the government promise to offer a workable solution for Canadian organizations before winter sets in and Afghans begin to starve?
    Mr. Speaker, Canada remains deeply concerned about the critical and worsening humanitarian situation that is unfolding in Afghanistan. This is why I announced that Canada is providing an additional $50 million for a total of $156 million in 2022 to help support the people of Afghanistan, particularly women and girls. The funding will allow Canada's humanitarian partners to provide life-saving assistance to ensure that humanitarian goods are dispatched and that workers continue to be able to support the Afghan people.

Fisheries and Oceans

    Mr. Speaker, coastal communities and marine environments depend on vital species like wild salmon. The science is clear that open-net salmon farms pollute marine ecosystems. Despite promising to transition away, the Liberals just approved three fish farm expansions in Clayoquot Sound, B.C.
    Will the government get toxic fish farms out of the water for good, while protecting first nations, workers and communities, or not?


    Mr. Speaker, I want to confirm that we are committed to protecting our iconic wild salmon on the Pacific coast. That is why we are investing so much in the Pacific salmon strategy. I am also deeply engaged in the transition away from open-net pen aquaculture.
     I would like to confirm that the member is not correct in saying there has been an increase in the Clayoquot Sound area. It has been a shifting from one area to another, but not an increase.

Disaster Assistance

    Mr. Speaker, our hearts were with Atlantic Canadians this weekend as their region was hit by hurricane Fiona. With hundreds of thousands of people affected, it will take weeks, maybe months, before things can get back to normal for the worst hit communities.
    Could the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs tell us how the government is stepping in to help people and businesses recover from this devastating hurricane?
    Mr. Speaker, as colleagues know, the scale of the storm witnessed in Atlantic Canada this past weekend was unprecedented.
     As we have said, our government stands ready to support provinces and all Canadians during this difficult time. My colleagues and I are, of course, working closely with local and provincial governments as well as indigenous governments to respond to the needs of impacted people and their communities very quickly.
     We obviously invite all those affected to continue to follow the advice of local authorities, and our government will continue to update Canadians on our efforts.
    Mr. Speaker, Atlantic Canadians have been devastated by the effects of hurricane Fiona this past weekend. They were then shocked to learn from Nova Scotia Power and Premier Tim Houston that emergency crews from our American neighbours were unable to cross the border due to the ArriveCAN app.
    The Prime Minister stated twice in the House today that no delays happened, but I want to hear it from the public safety minister. Was the Prime Minister correct in saying that no delays happened, yes or no?
    Mr. Speaker, I can assure my colleague that the Prime Minister was absolutely correct when he said that there were no delays caused by ArriveCAN. In fact, over the last number of days, we have been reaching out to CBSA and Nova Scotia representatives from the government to ensure that is indeed the case.
    Most important, this is a time for all members of the House to be united, as the Leader of the Opposition himself said, the leader of the Conservative Party, so we can work together to do what is necessary on the ground to support everybody who has been impacted.
    Mr. Speaker, I think you can understand that we would be confused when the Minister of Emergency Preparedness acknowledged there were delays at the border. Now the Prime Minister is saying that there were no delays, and the Minister of Public Safety is backing him up.
    We are not sure what the message is coming out of the government, but I think we can all agree that given the government has agreed to scrap the ArriveCAN, that the government will acknowledge it was a failure.
    Mr. Speaker, a tremendous tragedy has befallen the people in Atlantic Canada. Today is a time where we stand with all of them. At the beginning of this day, that was the sentiment I heard. We have attempted to answer these questions. We have answered that ArriveCAN was not responsible for any delays.
    Right now, we all need to be pulling in the same direction, asking questions about what real solutions we can offer to Atlantic Canadians. I look forward to those questions.
    Mr. Speaker, there has been unprecedented damage, homes destroyed, thousands are without power and now we are hearing reports about fatalities. We know hurricane Fiona was certainly destructive and deadly.
     Meanwhile, the Prime Minister and the Minister of Public Safety are busy denying that he Nova Scotia premier was telling the truth, that the ArriveCAN app delayed the entry of American power line crews to get to those in need in Nova Scotia and the Maritimes.
    Is this the priority of the Liberal government, to deny the claims of Premier Houston and Nova Scotia Power? Is this really its priority right now or will it apologize to east coast Canadians?


    Mr. Speaker, we have been working every moment with Premier Houston and with emergency officials. I, again, would repeat, and I am not sure how many times different ministers and the Prime Minister can say it, that there was no delay.
    I look forward to questions on how we can positively contribute to helping those in Atlantic Canada.
    Mr. Speaker, a way to positively contribute is not to pick a fight with the Premier of Nova Scotia in the middle of a hurricane, defending the ArriveCAN app.
     ArriveCAN has disrupted travel, damaged tourism, separated families and caused thousands of Canadians undue hardship for years, but those Liberals refused to act until it was too late.
    It took the delay of American power line crews' entry into Canada to get to those in need for Liberals to finally act to end the mandatory use of ArriveCAN. It is a national embarrassment.
    Will the Liberals show some humility and apologize?
    Mr. Speaker, in the spirit of collaboration in this moment of emergency, I want to assure my colleague that I reached out to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and I reached out to the Premier of Nova Scotia to be sure that he had all the support that we could provide from the federal government to help Nova Scotians at this difficult time.
    That is what we are laser-like focused on: making sure that the Canadian Armed Forces are deployed, that we are matching contributions based on the generosity of Canadians and doing everything possible to help Nova Scotians and all Canadians so they can get over this difficult period, and we will continue to do that.


Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

    Mr. Speaker, Roxham Road is all about human smugglers exploiting poor families and ripping them off. Having skirted the issue for years, the Minister of Public Safety finally acknowledged it on Saturday, but when Radio-Canada asked him what he planned to do to shut the racket down, he dodged the question again.
    There is a solution: suspend the safe third country agreement. The minister can do that without asking the Americans. It is in the agreement, and he knows it.
    Why is he refusing to take action to put an end to human smuggling at Roxham Road?
    Mr. Speaker, we have an asylum system that protects the rights of refugees and strengthens the integrity of our borders. Under our agreement with the Government of Quebec, we transfer hundreds of millions of dollars to accommodate refugees. That has helped the situation.
    We have an agreement with the United States that protects a process and includes consequences if the system is abused. We will continue to invest in making sure the rights of refugees and the integrity of our borders are protected.
    Mr. Speaker, come on, that answer will make the smugglers happy, since their business model is 100% based on the federal government's inaction.
    If the minister suspended the safe third country agreement, migrants could cross at any border crossing in Canada to claim refugee status instead of crossing at Roxham Road. With the snap of a finger, the minister could put an end to this racket led by criminals who are exploiting desperate families. He could unilaterally make this change and could do it right now.
    I therefore have to ask: How much longer will the federal government put up with this inhumane trafficking at Roxham Road?
    Mr. Speaker, we have a strategy to tackle human trafficking, and this strategy includes investments to help the police better enforce the law. As I have already said, we have an agreement with the United States. We are now modernizing the process to better protect human rights.
    We will continue to work together, in close co-operation with the Government of Quebec, because this is important for everyone.


Agriculture and Agri-Food

    Mr. Speaker, farmers in Prince Edward Island have been sending me photos of collapsed buildings, livestock without shelter and acres of crops under water.
     P.E.I. farmers are still reeling from the Liberals' self-imposed export ban on potatoes from last year and now, with harvest set to begin this week, another potato crop is in jeopardy. Their financial and mental health is deteriorating and many of them have said that if they do not receive support, they are done.
     What concrete steps is the agriculture minister taking to help Atlantic Canadian and Quebec farmers who have been impacted by the hurricane?
    Mr. Speaker, since it is the first time I am rising in the House, my heart is with all the families and especially farming families. I have had the opportunity to speak with the chair of the Prince Edward Island Potato Board and we know that it is an issue in P.E.I..
    We are working with provinces. Officials have been in contact. I have also been in contact with many boards, which are going to be reporting back and assessing the damages.
     The federal government will always be there. As it has been there for B.C. farmers, we will be there for Atlantic Canadian farmers.


    Mr. Speaker, conversations are not enough, and they cannot be the fallback position of AgriStability and advance payment programs, because we know that the impact of this hurricane has been profound.
     Farmers in Annapolis Valley have significant losses in the apple orchards. They cannot meet the threshold of many of these programs. Even if they did meet the threshold, they do not get payments for months and years down the road, and that is much too late. Farmers in Atlantic Canada and Quebec need support now.
    Again, what concrete and specific steps is the agriculture minister taking to ensure that those farm families get their crop off and survive this disaster?
    Mr. Speaker, the member very well knows that there is the business risk management already in place, and if that does not respond to the needs of the farmers, the AgriRecovery can be triggered.
     We are currently having conversations with provincial officials to assess the damage. I will be meeting with many stakeholders in the Atlantic region, and receiving phone calls later on this week, as they are still receiving the assessment of damages.
    Mr. Speaker, when asked, farmers have stated that their number one worry is not the market, it is not the weather, it is not international trade; it is the policies of the federal government.
    The delivery of seeds and plants to the farm incurs the carbon tax. The manufacture and delivery of fertilizer incurs the carbon tax. The delivery of farm products to market incurs the carbon tax. The government's plan for the carbon tax is to triple it.
    In a time of 10% food inflation, will this government finally give Canadian families a break and cancel this planned tax increase?
    Mr. Speaker, I find it quite difficult to listen to the member opposite speak about this, as many of his members, including the leader of his party, have risen in the House to talk about the impacts of Fiona.
    We know that it is linked to climate change, and we know that we have to do more to fight climate change. We know that, because of climate change, there are more hurricanes on our east and west coasts, which are more and more severe. Therefore, I am having a really hard time to find an answer to this question.


Disaster Assistance

    Mr. Speaker, last weekend, hurricane Fiona hit eastern Canada hard. It also slammed into the Magdalen Islands, causing considerable damage. I happen to know that the Minister of National Revenue is working very hard to ensure that people in the Magdalen Islands receive the help they need.
    Can the minister give us an update on the situation in the Magdalen Islands?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Alfred-Pellan for his question and his support.
    My colleagues and I are working with our local and provincial partners to meet the needs of the communities and people affected. I am in constant communication with the people in the Magdalen Islands, and the cleanup phase has already begun.
    I want to take a moment to thank all the volunteers and first responders who have played a vital role, not only in the Magdalen Islands, but throughout Atlantic Canada.



    Mr. Speaker, no one can afford the Liberals' tax-and-spend agenda, but their cost of living crisis and tax hikes hurt low and fixed-income Canadians the most.
     Pioneer Lodge in Lloydminster has housed low-income seniors since the 1960s, but last year, the Liberal carbon tax added over $26,000 to its expenses, which is going to quadruple under the Liberals' plan. The lodge is now forced to increase rent on the very people who can least afford it.
    Therefore, will the NDP-Liberals cancel their tax hikes on homes, heating and eating?
    Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives continue to flip-flop when it comes to the economy. Exactly one week ago, the Conservative House leader described our inflation relief plan as “It's a little bit like pouring water on a grease fire. It looks like it's going to help and just makes the root problem even worse.” However, just yesterday, he did a U-turn, saying “putting tax dollars back in the pockets of Canadians is something that Conservatives have always supported.”
    I am glad the Conservatives have seen the light on the GST tax credit. Now it is time to get on board with housing and dental.


    Mr. Speaker, Canada is number one. Unfortunately, it is number one in the world for a lack of affordable housing, a shortage of acute care beds and the priciest cellphone bills, and now we are number one in taxes to farmers, planned tax increases to paycheques and a triple increase to the carbon tax, all when Canadians pay more for taxes than for food, shelter and clothing combined.
    When the Prime Minister said that Canada is back, Canada did not know that meant it was at the back of the line. Conservatives understand that number one is the front of the line, not the back. Why does the government not understand this?
    Mr. Speaker, if the Conservative House leader is to be believed, the Conservatives have now seen the light when it comes to supporting Canadians with the GST tax credit. It is better late than never. The Conservatives claim to care about housing too, so may I suggest the next Conservative flip-flop? It is time for them to also support our $500 one-time payment to help vulnerable Canadians who are struggling to pay their rent.
    It is never too late to do the right thing, even for Conservatives.
    Mr. Speaker, with Fiona top of mind, people in my communities and across Canada are crying out for compassion from the Liberal government. Increased payroll taxes are hitting at a time when a lot of our small businesses are struggling to recover and maintain their employees. Those same workers are struggling to put food on their families' tables, put gas in their family vehicles and keep a roof over their families' heads.
    Will the government restore Canadians' hope and cancel its planned tax increase for Canadians' paycheques?
    Mr. Speaker, the EI contribution rate today is $1.58. Next year, it will go up to $1.63. Both of those rates are lower than the EI contribution rate was every single year Stephen Harper was prime minister, yet the new Conservative leader, who was actually employment minister under Prime Minister Harper, now wants to slash our contributions.
    Who do Conservatives think is the better economic manager: Prime Minister Harper or the new Conservative leader?


    Mr. Speaker, Canada's overdose crisis continues to have a tragic toll in the community of Guelph and in communities across the country. The COVID-19 pandemic has only worsened this crisis due to increased feelings of isolation, stress and anxiety, as well as the changes in the availability of support services. Recently, the Minister of Mental Health and Addictions visited my riding to announce over $2.9 million in funding for five innovative community-led projects across Guelph.
    Could the minister please speak to the importance of utilizing local expertise and working across multiple community organizations to help those who use substances to get the support they need?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his tireless advocacy on this issue.
    Too many lives have been lost to the toxic drug and overdose crisis. Ensuring local organizations have the necessary resources and capacity to support their communities is essential to ending this tragedy. The five innovative community-led projects we announced together will allow for increased safer supply capacity, as well as improved outreach for people dealing with problematic substance use. This funding will also help increase access to multiple supports for youth in the Guelph region and support training and certification for the truly effective peer support workers.

Indigenous Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, with Orange Shirt Day fast approaching, we are going to see once again a government that talks a good game about respecting the rights of indigenous peoples but does not follow through. For clean drinking water, deadline after deadline has been missed. On overcrowding and homes in disrepair on first nations, there has barely been a dent, and for all the government's public commitments that communities must lead their own searches for the unmarked burial sites of their children, communities are saying that the government is dragging its feet instead of supporting them.
    Can the government explain why, when it comes to really supporting indigenous communities, its answer is no?


    Mr. Speaker, as an update for the House, I think folks would appreciate knowing that there are about 91 communities that have now received funding to do searches on their own time, at their own pace. It is something we obviously have to respect as a government.
    If the member opposite has a community in mind that needs to be brought to my attention, I would ask her to please do so. I will ensure that the funding is provided expeditiously.


Employment Insurance

    Mr. Speaker, everyone knows about the passport saga with its endless delays.
    Unfortunately, we are experiencing the same problem with employment insurance, despite the fact that unemployment is at an all-time low and there are fewer applications. Public servants are saying they are powerless and cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel. Meanwhile, our citizens are paying the price for a service they are absolutely entitled to.
    Can the minister tell us what concrete measures are going to be put in place to deal with these unacceptable delays, which are only getting worse?
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his question.
    I can assure him that the people at Service Canada are serving Canadians, whether it is for help with employment insurance, pensions or passports. We will continue to ensure that Canadians receive these services.
    As for the employment insurance, I can assure my colleague that everyone is busy dealing with these changes and people are up to the task.


Presence in Gallery

     I wish to draw the attention of hon. members to the presence in the gallery of His Excellency Wolfgang Sobotka, President of the National Council of the Republic of Austria.
    Some hon. members: Hear, hear!

Russia's Actions in Ukraine

    Mr. Speaker, there has been discussion among the parties, and if you seek it, I believe you will find unanimous consent to adopt the following motion. I move:
    That, given:
(i) Russia is running sham referendums in temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine;
(ii) Russia has pre-determined the results of these referendums with the desperate aim to legitimize the territories it has seized in Ukraine, weaken international support for Ukraine and limit Ukraine's surging counteroffensives;
(iii) Russia is resorting to coercive tactics such as sending armed soldiers and police door-to-door to collect votes from Ukrainian citizens to secure those pre-determined results;
(iv) These sham referendums are part of Russia's illegal annexation playbook and were used in 2014 when Russia held a sham referendum in an attempt to legitimize its illegal annexation of Crimea from Ukraine; and
(v) The UNHRC Commission of Inquiry has confirmed that the Russian Federation committed war crimes in Ukraine in a number of regions, including the execution, torture and rape of civilians and the rape, torture and confinement of children;
the House:
(a) Condemn in the strongest possible terms the sham referendums being held in Russian-occupied regions of Ukraine;
(b) Declare that it does not and will never recognize the legitimacy of these referendums;
(c) Reaffirm that Ukraine's territory is that which was recognized at the time of the Budapest Memorandum in 1994 and includes Crimea and the Donbas, which Russia illegally invaded in 2014;
(d) Reiterate its unanimous support for Ukraine in the face of Russia's genocidal war; and
(e) Call on the Government of Canada to:
(i) Continue working relentlessly with our allies to ensure those who have committed or enabled war crimes in Ukraine are prosecuted and held accountable; and
(ii) Continue to provide additional support to Ukraine until all of Ukraine's territory is once again under the sovereign control of the government of Ukraine, by imposing more severe economic sanctions against Russia and providing Ukraine with more military, financial and humanitarian aid.
    All those opposed to the hon. member's moving the motion will please say nay.
    It is agreed.
    The House has heard the terms of the motion. All those opposed to the motion will please say nay.

    (Motion agreed to)

Routine Proceedings

[Routine Proceedings]


Indigenous and Northern Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 32(2), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, copies of the progress report on the implementation of the recommendations in the “Default Prevention and Management 2017" report of the Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs.


Committees of the House

Procedure and House Affairs 

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 14th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs. The committee advised that, pursuant to Standing Order 91.1(2), the subcommittee on Private Members' Business met to consider the items added to the order of precedence on Monday, June 20, as well as the orders for the second reading of private members' public bills originating in the Senate and recommended that the items listed herein, which it has determined should be designated non-votable, be considered by the House.
    Pursuant to Standing Order 91.1(2), the report is deemed adopted.

Foreign Affairs and International Development  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the fourth report of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development.


COVID-19 Mandates  

    Mr. Speaker, I am presenting a petition on behalf of Canadians across the country who are opposed to the COVID–19 mandates and want them all to come to an end. The petitioners state that throughout the pandemic truckers have served Canadians, that they are heroes and that they have been subjected to the vaccine mandates that have impacted our supply chains. The petitioners say the Prime Minister has politicized the vaccines and insulted Canadians who disagreed with him. They are calling on the House of Commons to immediately end all COVID–19 vaccine mandates and restrictions implemented and controlled by the federal government.


Charitable Organizations  

    Mr. Speaker, the next petition I have to present is from citizens across the country who are concerned about the Liberal Party's promise in its 2021 platform that would deny charitable status to organizations that have convictions about abortion with which the Liberal Party is in disagreement. This may jeopardize the charitable status of hospitals, houses of worship, schools, homeless shelters and other charitable organizations that do not agree with the Liberal Party on this matter. Many Canadians depend upon and benefit from these charities and the work they do. Therefore, the petitioners are calling on the Government of Canada and the House of Commons to protect and preserve the application of charitable status rules on a politically and ideologically neutral basis, without discrimination on the basis of political or religious values and without imposing another values test.

Human Organ Trafficking  

    Mr. Speaker, the next petition I am tabling comes from Canadians who are concerned about forced organ harvesting and trafficking. This bill has passed through the Senate twice and in this House once in its current form. It is currently stalled before the foreign affairs committee. The petitioners are hoping it will soon be passed. The families of victims of forced organ harvesting and trafficking have now waited almost 15 years for Canada to pass this legislation. The petitioners are calling for the House to pass this legislation quickly.

Age Verification Software  

    Mr. Speaker, the next petition I have today comes from petitioners across the country who are concerned about how young people can easily access explicit material online, including violently explicit and degrading material. The petitioners comment on how this access is an important public health and safety concern. They note that a significant portion of commercially accessed sexually explicit material has no age verification software. Moreover, age verification software can ascertain the age of users without breaching their privacy rights. The petitioners note the many serious harms associated with sexually explicit material, including the development of addictions and attitudes favourable to sexual violence and the harassment of women. As such, they are calling on the House of Commons to pass Bill S-210, the protecting young persons from exposure to pornography act.

Natural Resources  

    Mr. Speaker, the last petition I have today is from Canadians across this country who are suffering under inflation and the Liberals' carbon tax. The petitioners claim that the carbon tax is causing inflation and increasing the cost of everyday essentials, including gas, groceries and heating, making life very expensive for Canadians. The Bank of Canada has also said that the carbon tax is contributing to the impacts of inflation and is an added expense for Canadian businesses, which creates an economic disadvantage compared with other nations. The petitioners are calling for an end to the carbon tax. They want the government to control inflation and reduce its spending.
    Finally, the petitioners want to see pipelines and other projects approved, especially LNG pipelines, to take clean, ethical Canadian energy to tidewater and international markets to displace the fuel provided by authoritarian regimes and dictators.

Charitable Organizations  

    Mr. Speaker, I am presenting this petition today on behalf of Canadians who have mobilized because of a concern over a promise made by the Liberal Party of Canada in its 2021 platform to deny charitable status to organizations that have convictions about abortion that the Liberal Party views as dishonest. The petitioners feel that this is another opportunity for the government to use a values test, as it did to discriminate against worthy applicants to the Canada summer jobs program, and in the same way this will jeopardize the charitable status of many organizations, such as hospitals, houses of worship, schools, homeless shelters and so many others that play such an intricate role in taking care of the needs of Canadians.
    Therefore, the petitioners are calling on the Liberal government to protect and preserve the application of charitable status rules on a politically and ideologically neutral basis, without discrimination on the basis of political or religious values and without the imposition of another values test. Certainly of significance is that the petitioners are very concerned that the current government affirm the rights of Canadians to freedom of expression.


    Mr. Speaker, I rise to present a petition on behalf of Canadians. The petitioners wish to express concern with the Supreme Court of Canada's recent decision to strike down a Harper Conservative law that allowed judges to exercise their discretion to apply consecutive parole ineligibility periods for mass murderers. As a consequence, some of Canada's worst killers will be eligible for parole after just 25 years. The petitioners note that the Liberal government has tools at its disposal and has failed to use them. They call on the government to do so by, namely, invoking the notwithstanding clause.


Human Rights and the Environment  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to table a petition presented by Development and Peace—Caritas Canada that François Adam and Father François Baril, of the Solidarité Mercier‑Est pastoral committee, and also Yves Bourassa, of the Groupe local de l'Arrondissement Saint‑Léonard, had signed by 335 citizens from La Pointe‑de‑l'Île and Montreal East.
     This petition is in response to the fact that some Canadian companies contribute to human rights abuses and environmental damage around the world. Unfortunately, the Canadian government does not require that these companies stop these harms from happening in their operations.
    The petitioners are calling on the House of Commons to adopt legislation on due diligence for human and environmental rights. This legislation would require companies to prevent any negative impact on human and environmental rights throughout their global operations and supply chains.
    Peace is not only the absence of war. Peace is built by supporting social and economic justice every day.


First Responders Tax Credit  

    Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to table this petition, in particular because it is timely, given hurricane Fiona. This is about volunteer firefighters, who account for 83% of Canada's total firefighting essential needs as well as first responders. In addition, approximately 8,000 essential search-and-rescue volunteers respond to thousands of incidents every year. The petitioners cite that the tax code of Canada currently allows a volunteer firefighter and search-and-rescue volunteer to claim a $3,000 tax credit if 200 hours of volunteer services were completed in a calendar year. It works out to a mere $450 a year.
    The petitioners are calling on the government to increase the tax exemption from $3,000 to $10,000. It would help retain these volunteers at a time when volunteerism is increasing. Also, it would demonstrate how Canada values our first responders and our volunteer firefighters, especially in times like this.



    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present two petitions related to the situation in the Tigray region of Ethiopia, where there is a major famine. They are calling on the House of Commons to demand access to the region for aid groups to deliver food and humanitarian assistance, the restoration of communications in the region, the withdrawal of Eritrean forces and an arms embargo in Eritrea and Ethiopia.


    Mr. Speaker, my third petition is in regard to Somaliland. The petitioners question the legality of the union between Somalia and Somaliland, and call for Somaliland to be recognized by Canada as an independent country.

Climate Change  

    Mr. Speaker, I rise to present a petition from a number of constituents. This petition deals with the subject matter of what is generally called “just transition”. The petitioners note that Canada has a commitment to the Paris Agreement, which includes in its preamble the concept of making sure workers and communities in the fossil fuel sector receive transitional support so that they can be transitioned to renewable energy. It is one that protects individuals and communities.
    They call on the House to work alongside oil and gas workers to create such a plan and to include in it the 10 recommendations that were initially put forward by the special task force commissioned under former environment minister Catherine McKenna on a just transition for Canadian coal power workers and communities.

Human Organ Trafficking  

    Mr. Speaker, I am tabling a petition in support of Bill S-223, a bill that seeks to combat forced harvesting and trafficking of organs. I understand that similar legislation has passed twice in the Senate and in the House in its current form.
    Families of those who are impacted obviously want to see change, as do a number of Canadians, as reflected in this petition.

Questions on the Order Paper

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

Request for Emergency Debate

Hurricane Fiona  

[S. O. 52]
    There has been a request for an emergency debate. I wish to inform the House that I have received two notices of requests for an emergency debate concerning the same subject.
    I invite the hon. member for South Okanagan—West Kootenay and the hon. member for Cumberland—Colchester to rise and make their brief interventions.
    Mr. Speaker, I rise to ask leave to propose an emergency debate on the urgent and escalating situation in Atlantic Canada following hurricane Fiona. Fiona was the strongest storm ever to make landfall in Canada, with several lives lost; many homes swept out to sea; bridges, airports and other infrastructure damaged; docks destroyed; and close to a million Canadians left without power.
    While Fiona hit Atlantic Canada over the weekend, this is the first opportunity the House will have to discuss the federal response to the storm. We need to hear how the government plans to help Atlantic Canada in this unprecedented situation. I therefore ask that you, Mr. Speaker, grant this request for an emergency debate.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleagues and the House today for the interesting questions around hurricane Fiona. Having been there for the last two days and perhaps in one of the most hard-hit areas, I stand here humbly before the House to ask permission for an emergency debate.
    We all know very clearly that hurricane Fiona has been devastating to Atlantic Canada. We also know that it is, as my good colleague from South Shore—St. Margarets once said, a generational storm. For that reason, we know that it needs to be debated here in the House on an emergency basis. We know that infrastructure has been severely damaged, including roads, power lines, wharves, barns, homes, crops, etc., and that importance cannot be underscored without a significant and robust debate here in the House of Commons.
    I would also say that the fishing industry, which was previously under threat by significant cost due to bait and fuel, is now in significant peril due to the destruction of said infrastructure.
    Atlantic Canadians and Canadians in general also want to understand clearly the rapidity and the extent and the process that will be involved for them to gain the support they so dearly need. We shall overcome this, of course. However, without robust debate here in the House of Commons, people will not know exactly what will happen in the next steps.


Speaker's Ruling 

[Speaker's Ruling]
    I want to thank the hon. members for their interventions. I am prepared to grant an emergency debate concerning hurricane Fiona. This debate will be held today at the ordinary hour of daily adjournment.

Requirement of Royal Recommendations for Bills C-285 and C-290

    I would like to make a statement concerning the management of Private Members' Business.
    As members know, certain constitutional procedural realities constrain the Speaker and members insofar as legislation is concerned.


     Following each replenishment of the order of precedence, the Chair has developed a practice of reviewing items so that the House can be alerted to bills that, at first glance, appear to impinge on the financial prerogative of the Crown. This allows members the opportunity to intervene in a timely fashion to present their views about the need for those bills to be accompanied by a royal recommendation.


    Accordingly, following the replenishment of the order of precedence with 15 new items on Monday, June 20, I wish to inform the House that there are two bills which preoccupy the Chair. They are Bill C-285, an act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act, the Canada Labour Code and the Employment Insurance Act, standing in the name of the member for Niagara West; and Bill C-290, an act to amend the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act, standing in the name of the member for Mirabel.


     The understanding of the Chair is that these bills may need to be accompanied by a royal recommendation.


    I therefore encourage members who would like to make arguments regarding the requirement of a royal recommendation for Bills C-285 and C-290 to do so at their earliest opportunity.
    I thank the members for their attention.

Government Orders

[Government Orders]


Cost of Living Relief Act, No. 1

    The House resumed from September 23 consideration of the motion that Bill C-30, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (temporary enhancement to the Goods and Services Tax/Harmonized Sales Tax credit), be read the second time and referred to a committee.
    The hon. member for Calgary Midnapore has eight minutes and 30 seconds remaining in questions and comments.
    Questions and comments, the hon. member for Winnipeg North.
    Mr. Speaker, I understand and appreciate the fact that this is a legislation that the Conservative Party itself is going to be supporting, which is a positive thing. We have heard many different speeches coming from the Conservative Party. Earlier this morning, a member was talking about economic policy in terms of where we should be going as a government.
    One of the things that were talked about a great deal was when the now leader of the Conservative Party talked about the importance of cryptocurrency. In talking about cryptocurrency, he actually encouraged Canadians to invest in cryptocurrency, believing that this was some way to fight inflation.
    We all know that this particular recommendation caused many Canadians to lose a great deal of money, no doubt those who would have followed the advice of the leader.
    Can the member indicate to us what she thinks in terms of Conservative policy? Was this a policy that the Conservative Party supported back then, or was this something that today's leader of the Conservative Party had as his own personal idea?


    Madam Speaker, first, I would like to offer my condolences to the victims of hurricane Fiona.


    Our thoughts and prayers are with them at this time.
    Let us talk about the economy over the last seven years. We had 8.1% inflation in June, $56.5 billion now with the latest measures from the government in budget 2022. Let us talk about all of the sectors that the government has destroyed, most of all the natural resources sector, and most recently, the fertilizer sector.
    I am very insulted that the member would bring up a fleeting thought, an idea that was discussed during our leadership race. In my opinion, it is actually a tactic, a mechanism, and an effort to avoid the real problem here, which is also the band-aid solution we find in this bill, after a terrible job with the economy in the last seven years.


    Madam Speaker, we are really glad to see the Conservatives finally come on board and support an NDP initiative to get help to Canadians who need help right now.
    Here we are, doubling the GST tax credit, something we have been pushing for months. Finally, just yesterday, the Conservatives announced that they are going to support us.
    Here we are: We see rising gas prices and rising telecom fees, grocery store prices through the roof and fuel prices through the roof. We see record profits in the banking sector, oil and gas, the wireless sector and the grocery stores.
    Does my colleague not agree that those companies should pay an excess profit tax like the Conservative Party put forward in Great Britain? They had the courage to charge a 25% excess profit tax, to give back to the people of Britain and help them with their energy costs.
    Does my colleague not agree that they should pay their fair share?
    Madam Speaker, my hon. colleague is right. This is one area where we agree, but where my Conservative colleagues and I agree is on the fact that the NDP has helped the Liberals run this country and our economy into the ground.
    This is the reason we have these high gas prices. This is the reason we have these high food prices. This is the reason we are encountering all of these problems: because of the member's question, which is also destroying all of our profitable sectors across the country.
    Unfortunately, his point is the only thing we agree on, whereas my Conservative colleagues and I agree on all of these other factors I have mentioned, namely that he and his party are responsible for helping the Liberals run both this country and our economy into the ground.
    Madam Speaker, it is curious to me, because the NDP has not only been pushing for doubling the GST credit for over six months now. That help is desperately needed right now but was needed six months ago. We have also been pushing for dental care. We have been pushing for the rental housing benefit. We have been delivering for Canadians.
    What have the Conservatives been doing, other than bluster and often spreading misinformation? It is difficult to see how the Conservatives can really look themselves in the mirror recently.
    Madam Speaker, the only thing the New Democratic Party has been doing, in conjunction with the Liberals, is pushing up inflationary spending as a result of agreeing to everything the Liberals put in front of them.
    I said this before and I will say it again. If the member wanted to see different changes, things that are not currently within these bills or other ideas she had, she should have done a better job in negotiating with the government when they came to their agreement. I find it very rich that she accuses us of inaction, when in fact it is her and her party that have done a fantastic job of raising inflationary spending and running this nation into the ground.
    Madam Speaker, it is always a pleasure to rise on behalf of the people of Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo. I note one of my colleagues just asked how Conservatives can look themselves in the eye. We are His Majesty's loyal opposition, while the NDP has become the government's loyal coalition.
    When we look at the past three, four, five or six months with regard to the cost of living increase and all that, have there been any opportunities for the NDP to have supported what Conservatives are saying and really helped out Canadians?
    Madam Speaker, the reality is every single word every member of that party speaks is very hard to listen to, because they are actually working in coordination with the government in an effort both to bring down the economy of this nation and to wedge and divide and create space between Canadians.
    I certainly wish the New Democratic Party would have supported us in many of the different opposition day bills we have put forward in the past. There is good news: It has an opportunity to do so again later this week, as we have two opposition day motions coming up. I really hope if the member across the way is so eager to work in concert with the Conservative Party, His Majesty's loyal opposition, that New Democrats will take the opportunity to do so.


    Madam Speaker, when we take a look at inflation, something the member talks a great deal about, and compare Canada to the rest of the world, whether it is the United States, the United Kingdom or other G20 countries, Canada is doing exceptionally well.
    I am wondering if the member could provide her thoughts on why she believes Canada is doing far better when it comes to inflation rates compared to the rest of the world. Why is that the case? Are the other countries that bad?
    The hon. member for Calgary Midnapore has time for a brief answer, please.
    Madam Speaker, the government had the opportunity on many occasions to not spend the amount of money it did to raise inflationary spending, but it did not choose that. It chose to spend, and it is Canadians who will pay for it.
    Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with my dear friend and colleague, the member for Ottawa Centre.
    On behalf of all the residents of Vaughan—Woodbridge, I would like to send our deepest sentiments, thoughts and prayers to all Canadians living on the east coast who have been impacted by hurricane Fiona. This past summer my family and I drove out to the east coast, visiting P.E.I., New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. It is truly a beautiful part of the country, consisting of beautiful Canadians who are just so kind and generous. We deeply enjoyed our time there.
    Bill C-30 is our government's response to helping Canadians, and I would say helping the middle class and those working very hard to join it. It is a bill that provides direct relief to Canadians impacted by inflation, which we know is not only here today in Canada but across the world, particularly in developed countries. We have seen it.
     We have gone through a period over the last few years with the COVID shock, which was considered an exogenous shock to our economy. Battling through that, helping Canadians and being there for Canadian businesses and Canadian citizens who were impacted, our economy literally came to a standstill during that period of time. Then, proceeding to the events we saw with the unjustified, barbaric invasion of Ukraine by Putin's Russia, we have seen the impacts of that. We have seen an impact on grain shipments throughout the world. We have seen an impact on prices of commodities and so forth, through our supply chain and on to inflation, which is impacting Canadians.
    We know Canadians, particularly seniors, individuals on fixed incomes and working families, are impacted, and we are there to help. Fortunately, our government has been focused since 2015 on helping Canadians succeed, helping the middle class and helping those wishing to join the middle class. We have been strengthening the fundamental backbone of our economy, whether it has been working with the private sector unions or introducing the Canada child benefit, which we know is helping nine out of 10 families, unlike the prior program, which sent monthly, tax-free cheques to millionaires. Those types of programs have literally lifted hundreds of thousands of Canadians out of poverty, especially children, but also strengthened our middle class.
    Our government also introduced two cuts. The first tax cut, for the middle class tax bracket, was asking the wealthiest 1% to pay a little more, which was the right thing to do. The second tax cut, which Canadians are still benefiting from, was raising the basic personal expenditure amount to $15,000. Again, this literally took people off the federal tax rolls, helping seniors, students and all Canadians, which is great to see.
    Bill C-30, an act to amend the Income Tax Act, is something I advocated for within our caucus for several months. It is something I truly believe in as an economist, as someone who participated in and worked in the financial markets, both domestically and internationally, for over 20 years of my life. The GST tax credit is a very effective instrument for assisting Canadians dealing with this specific issue. It is a significant policy tool that allows direct payments to Canadians who need it the most. I am very glad to see this legislation. I understand that His Majesty's loyal opposition is also in agreement with this legislation. I could be corrected if I am wrong, but that is what I read. I am glad to see other parties in the House suggesting the idea, and I am also glad to see other parties in the House supporting the idea.
    This would support literally 11 million Canadians, giving $2.5 billion in direct payment to Canadians at a time when it is fundamentally needed. We have been dealing with inflationary pressures. We have seen the prices of food, rent and so forth, our daily necessities, rise. My family is very fortunate. We are raising three daughters, and I go to the grocery store. I see the prices. I fill the vehicles we have. My wife and I see the cost of gas.


    I am glad to see our government act, demonstrating empathy to Canadians through a policy measure that we know will provide real relief to Canadians. Canadians do not really need to do anything, because the payments will arrive by year-end. I would ask people to please file their income tax returns. We know that when Canadians file their tax returns, they receive a ton of credits and benefits that ensure that not only they and their families have a good quality of life, but our seniors have a good, secure and dignified retirement.
    As I said, under the GST credit, for example, a single mother with one child and an income of $30,000 will receive almost $400 for the July through December 2022 period and another $386.50, to be exact, for the January through June 2023 period. In total, in this manner, an individual would receive nearly $1,160 for the entire year through the GST credit. These are real funds helping real Canadians, those working hard day in, day out to put food on their tables and make sure their kids get to school. This is real assistance for Canadians at a time when we are dealing with persistent inflationary pressures in the interim.
    As another example, under the present system, a couple with two children with an income of $35,000 will be receiving $467 for the July through December 2022 period and another $467 for the January through June 2023 period. Again, it is real assistance for those families. In total, they would receive $1,400 for this benefit year through the GST credit.
    This is just another piece of legislation we brought forward that helps Canadians. I will repeat that it is helping the middle class and those working hard to join it, but also, very importantly, it is what I would call responsible leadership and a prudent fiscal picture. We have a AAA credit rating in Canada. Our debt-to-GDP ratio is on a declining trend. The provinces have come out with their fiscal picture, which is much improved. I know that under the stewardship of the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Canada will maintain a strong fiscal balance sheet going into the future so there can be a prosperous future for all children and all families in this blessed country we call home.
    With regard to our seniors, when we ran in the prior election, we campaigned on a 10% increase to old age security for seniors 75 and above, benefiting over 3.3 million seniors in Canada, like my parents and aunts and uncles, who are in B.C. these days. We did that; we fulfilled that promise. It was a promise made and a promise kept, as we say. When we think of the timing of that increase, which came in the month of June, seniors will receive up to $800 more in old age security payments. Again, that is real assistance. It is timely and dedicated to individuals who have built this country in the last few decades. I am very proud to serve the over 20,000 seniors in the riding of Vaughan—Woodbridge.
    If we look at the Canada child benefit, which I cannot mention enough, it delivers over $60 million, the last time I had the numbers, to my riding of Vaughan—Woodbridge. It assists hundreds of thousands of families in our country. It is another measure that we were able to provide. There is legislation on the table for the Canada dental benefit and the Canada housing benefit one-time top-up.
    To reference the Canada dental benefit, I am a bit of a fiscal hawk. I believe in free markets and I believe in capitalism. I have worked on Bay Street and Wall Street, but I grew up in a small town in B.C. With regard to dental coverage, I have heard too many stories from seniors who come to my office. They do not have dental coverage and have to spend $1,000, $1,500 or $500 out of pocket when going to the dentist. They cannot afford it. It is literally the difference, on a monthly basis, between our seniors putting food on their tables or getting dental coverage. We are doing the right thing.
    The same applies for children under 12 years old. I am so happy that I am part of a government that is moving this forward. If other parties want to make changes or suggest things, they can go ahead, but at the end of day, the premise is to help Canadian families and make sure they are getting ahead. That is most important.



    Madam Speaker, no one can be against apple pie. It is nice to have solutions to provide relief to seniors, families or low-income people. Nevertheless, these are temporary measures, like the dental insurance benefit or the housing support.
    When we help, govern and talk we also have to think about future generations and bring in solutions that are permanent and predictable.
    When will we see that here for housing and health?
    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague from Beauport—Limoilou.


    I will say that these measures we put in place are there to assist Canadians. As we go longer term and look toward the fall economic statement or next year's budget, I know with regard to stakeholders and constituents in my riding that everything is about economic growth and raising the standard of living for all Canadians from coast to coast to coast. I will continue to push for the types of measures that spur job creation and investment and that increase productivity and lift productivity in this country. That translates, for an economist, into making sure that Canadians have a higher standard of living tomorrow versus today.
    Madam Speaker, my question comes from a place of ideology, fiscal responsibility and the overall big picture of where the Liberal government sees the future of Canadians and of helping those who are suffering most and those who definitely need relief.
    How does the member across the way feel about the difference between investing in relief and investing in development, and about the sustainability of giving people an opportunity or a hand-up rather than a handout?
    Madam Speaker, if we look at the record over the last seven years, in terms of job creation and the number of policies we put in place not only to have what is called inclusive growth but, most importantly, to grow our economy, the record speaks for itself.
    On the productivity front, we need to put in place more measures to continue to spur investment. If we look at, for example, the auto sector here in the province of Ontario, as the member and I are both from the province of Ontario, we will see the number of record investments that have taken place. It is nearly $20 billion in investments. Today, I actually had an auto caucus meeting with representatives from that industry, which will create over 17,000 jobs by being a critical supplier within the battery supply chain as we transition to EVs.
    Our government is working with industry. We are consulting and we are listening, and that is the direction we need to continue on.


    Madam Speaker, I am glad the Liberal government has followed the NDP's lead with the GST tax credit, along with the Conservatives. I know my colleague kept going on about the Canada child benefit; however, here is the thing. His government is currently clawing back Canada child benefits from single mothers. Meanwhile, guess who they are not clawing money back from. Let us look at Galen Weston. Loblaws makes $5,100 an hour and saw record profits in the first quarter of 2022. At Loblaws, Galen Weston clawed back the pandemic pay of two dollars an hour for workers.
    Since my colleague is so keen on the Canada child benefit, would his government consider going after big corporations instead of single mothers?
    Madam Speaker, we have introduced a number of measures that have lifted literally hundreds of thousands of single mothers and children, and families for that matter, out of poverty. We will still continue to introduce a number of measures.
    We have also come out with a number of measures that have asked the wealthiest to pay more. There are measures here on the corporate income tax side for corporations. There was a series of PBO reports issued last week that refer to the revenues that would be collected from those tax measures. I encourage all members of the House to take a look at those PBO reports. They are quite interesting and quite detailed.
    Madam Speaker, I am thankful for the opportunity to speak to Bill C-30, which is an act to amend the Income Tax Act as it relates to the goods and services tax and harmonized sales tax credits. It is a bill that is very much focused on targeted tax relief for the most deserving in our communities. However, before I speak to the bill, I just want to quickly state that as this is the first time I am speaking in the House since the summer recess ended, I am thankful for the opportunity to speak. I hope all colleagues across the entire House had a good summer.
    As we heard earlier during question period, the devastation caused by hurricane Fiona is top of mind for all of us. We have seen the kind of devastation that this particular storm has caused in Atlantic Canada and in eastern Quebec. Just like everyone, my thoughts are with everyone who has been impacted. There have been a couple of fatalities. We are thinking of the families that have been impacted.
    I can assure the House, given my role as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Emergency Preparedness and in working with the minister, that the entire government, including the Prime Minister, was working hard, as soon as we knew this storm was coming our way, to make sure we were prepared. That involved working very closely with the provincial governments and local municipal governments so that all necessary steps were taken to prepare for this storm. Because of that, we are seeing all of the recovery efforts taking place at the moment.
    Just this morning, very early, I was glad to join the Prime Minister and the member for Ottawa South in thanking some of the crews from Hydro Ottawa that were departing for Nova Scotia. We thanked them for what they were doing, as what Canadians always do is look after each other.
    During the summer, like perhaps all members, I obviously spent a lot of time in my community. One of the things I always do is knock on doors during the summer months to talk to constituents of mine. I ask two very simple questions: “How can I help you?” and “What kinds of issues are of concern to you?”
    It will not come as a surprise to any member, as I have been hearing this from members of all sides of the House, that the cost of living and the rate of inflation are big concerns for everyone. However, I also heard about the need for affordable child care. So many parents I spoke to asked me when $10-a-day child care was coming to their community, the one I represent right here in Ottawa Centre. They were very important conversations, and parents told me again and again that they could not wait for that program to be fully implemented. It is going to save them thousands of dollars, especially if they have more than one child.
    This would be a tremendous savings, not to mention an opportunity for young children to socialize and take part in play-based learning. If we couple that with the full-day kindergarten that exists in Ontario for four- and five-year-olds, this is a really game-changing moment for children to thrive and for parents to be fully involved in the well-being of our economy by getting good jobs so they can grow in their professions. The savings are in the thousands of dollars for parents, and they are quite excited for the fact that this federal government, under our Prime Minister, has finally brought in a national child care and early learning system across the country.
    However, that is only one measure that would help people with the cost of living. We need to make sure that inflation does not continue, although we are starting to see it abating and coming down. The inflation rate in Canada is perhaps one of the lowest compared with the rates of comparable G7 countries.


    Regardless of that, we still need to take steps. We still need to take measures to find targeted reliefs for those who are the most marginalized in our society, the people who are on a low income, such as single mothers, who are working extremely hard every day, and I meet many people like that in my community of Ottawa Centre. We need to ensure that they have some targeted temporary relief, so they can live through this period.
    That is why this particular legislation, Bill C-30, is so important. We know that this inflation is global in nature. There are many factors which have gone into and have caused this inflation. Canada is not immune to it.
    Of course, the pandemic has had a big role to play. We have heard from other members that the unjustified, unwarranted war by Russia on Ukraine is another big reason that has caused this inflation.
    We need, of course, to find a made-in-Canada solution to help people. That is why, as I said earlier, Bill C-30 and Bill C-31 are so important because they would provide those targeted reliefs for individuals.
    In this case, under Bill C-30, we would double the GST tax credit for individuals and for families who have qualified for six months. That is real relief that would deliver about $2.5 billion in additional support to roughly 11 million Canadians. That is a very significant number of people who would benefit.
    Just to give us an idea, if this legislation passes, and I hope all members will support this legislation, as I intend to do, from the period of July 2022 through June 2023, for the benefit year, eligible people would receive up to $467 for singles without children, $612 for married or common-law partners, $612 for single parents and $161 for each child under the age of 19. That would be quite a significant additional contribution to those individuals for them to work through this inflationary period. Of course, as we are starting to see from economic indicators, the inflation rate is starting to abate, and hopefully, that will continue to happen.
    However, we are not stopping there. We would also be providing a one-time rent supplement of about $500, again to those who qualify for that kind of support, to ensure that they would be able to pay the extra costs they may be facing, and so they would not be at risk for homelessness. That is an important priority for our government, to ensure that people have access to affordable housing, and this particular support would be of significant benefit to them.
    Lastly, a program initiative that is also much needed, which is very similar to our creating a national child care program, is what we are doing in creating a dental program for young people, to, again, make sure that young individuals, young Canadians, can have access to good dental care. It is essential to their health. By providing the support for those who are making, I believe, $90,000 or less, they would be able to get that dental care and be able to stay healthy.
    This would only allow for them to live healthier lives, but it would also be yet more meaningful savings for individuals. We can really see a theme here of providing targeted supports that would really focus on people who need help and support the most. They also have huge benefits, whether it is getting good child care, improving one's health, or making sure that one does not become homeless.
    This is going to help our economy. This is going to help all Canadians because our number one job as the government, and my focus as a member of Parliament for Ottawa Centre, is to help build an economy that works for all Canadians.


    Madam Speaker, I heard the hon. member say that he hopes that inflation does not continue.
    What is this government's plan? It is proposing a one-off payment in response to high inflation. I am glad that the government is now acknowledging high inflation. If this continues, is the plan a continued series of one-off payments?
    What is the government's plan to address core inflation? I, too, agree and hope that inflation drops, but is this a long-term plan to address inflation?
    Madam Speaker, I want to first thank my friend from across the way and his party for supporting Bill C-30. It is a very positive step for all Canadians, and hopefully all parties will be supporting this important piece of legislation.
    Yes, we do hope the inflation will abate. That is why programs such as the child care and dental programs are important. It is because they are permanent in nature. They would continue to stay in place as national programs to help Canadians coast to coast to coast. That is an example of putting forward a program that is going to continue to help Canadians.
    We will, of course, monitor how things are progressing. Hopefully we will get to the point where the economy stabilizes and continues to grow again, as we are seeing with one of the lowest unemployment rates ever in the history of Canada, so people can have good-paying jobs as they contribute to our economy and to society.


    Madam Speaker, I was happy to hear my colleague say that we need well-structured programs. That is what the Bloc Québécois wants. We want to have permanent, targeted, well-thought-out programs.
    My concern is that, once again, it will be meted out sparingly. The funding will be scattered here and there. In my opinion, that is neither permanent nor well planned.
    How does the member deal with all of that?
    Madam Speaker, I welcome my colleague's question.


    If one looks at the kind of programs we are putting in place, taking child care as an example, it is not a program without a plan. It is a program that has been sought for a very long time by Canadians, especially Canadian women, who have argued that, for them to thrive economically, we need to make sure there is affordable child care available coast to coast to coast. By putting forward a well-thought-out plan, the way our government has done, we are ensuring there would be more participation, especially by women, in our society and in our economy. It would also ensure there is good early learning for our children.
    Madam Speaker, a report came out this summer showing that one in four Canadians are spending less than they need to on groceries. Many are going hungry. I want to thank him for his support for the critically important NDP initiatives, such as doubling the GST credit, ensuring we have a targeted support for people struggling to pay their rents and ensuring kids under 12 receive dental care as a first step toward a federal dental care program.
    One thing I did not hear about in his speech, which is a crucial part of this equation when it comes to rising costs, is corporate greed. The Liberals, so far, have refused to put a windfall excess profits tax on corporations that are making record profits. Would the member support an excess profits tax, or are the Liberals going to keep protecting corporate profits while Canadians go hungry?


    Madam Speaker, we work our very best when we work with each other, share ideas and put them in place. I am really happy to see our government is working well with the NDP and making sure we work in a collaborative way that is in the best interest of Canadians. I am happy to see the opposition supporting this important initiative as well, because that means Canadians are going to be first.
    We have done a lot of work as part of this government to make sure our tax system supports those who are marginalized. That is why we increased taxes on the top 1% of earners, took all that windfall and gave a tax break to middle-class and low-income Canadians. That is the kind of progressive policy we will continue to put in place.
    The hon. parliamentary secretary to the government House leader is rising on a point of order.

Business of the House

    Madam Speaker, there have been discussions among the parties, and if you seek it, I think you will find unanimous consent to adopt the following motion. I move:
    That, notwithstanding any Standing Order, special order or usual practice of the House, during the debate pursuant to Standing Order 52 later today, no quorum calls, dilatory motions or requests for unanimous consent shall be received by the Chair.

Cost of Living Relief Act, No. 1

    The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-30, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (temporary enhancement to the Goods and Services Tax/Harmonized Sales Tax credit), be read the second time and referred to a committee.
    All those opposed to the hon. parliamentary secretary moving the motion will please say nay.
    It is agreed.
    The House has heard the terms of the motion. All those opposed to the motion will please say nay.

    (Motion agreed to)

    Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Peace River—Westlock. Before I begin my remarks on Bill C-30, I do want to express my condolences and sympathies to all those suffering along the Atlantic seaboard. Even though they prepared as best they could, there have been some tragic results. I know that all Canadians are hoping for the very best, and for a very strong and quick recovery for all those affected.
    Right now, Canada is facing the highest rate of inflation in 40 years. Canadians are struggling. They do not know what lies ahead or if it will get any easier. Grocery prices have risen at the fastest pace since 1981, soaring above 10% on average, with some items having risen over 30%. This means a typical family of four now spends over $1,200 more each year to put food on the table. That is if inflation does not rise further, something we have no guarantee of under the Liberal government.


    Rising gas, heating and rent costs are weighing on the majority of Canadians, who are struggling to get from one paycheque to the other.


    Rental increases are crippling income levels, with many having to take on second or third jobs to afford to pay their bills and travel to work. I have heard from many constituents who cannot afford the basic essentials anymore for themselves or their children.
     If someone loses their rental accommodation for any reason, or needs to change location, they are hit with gouging increases. A single dad in my riding who has had full-time employment for years, and who is well regarded there, lost his basement suite because new owners wanted to take the space for themselves. He and his young son were literally priced out of other rental spaces that would be in any way similar. Friends are helping them out for now while he continues to try to find a home.
    Bill C-30, which amends the goods and services tax credit, would double the amount for individuals and families with low and modest incomes. The GST credit would equal a one-time top-up for an additional $467 for singles without children with a net income of about $39,000, and up to $934 for a family of four. This one-time assistance measure, which Conservatives support as welcome tax relief for workers and families, does little to address the inflation-fuelled affordability crisis facing all Canadians. Individuals without children earning more than $49,200, or a couple with two children earning more than $58,500, would receive no benefits.



    This benefit, which equates to $77 per month for a qualifying family of four, covers less than 40% of the Prime Minister's inflation at the grocery store alone, and does not begin to cover the rising costs of heat, gasoline and rent. More than 70% of families with children will not receive this support.


    Housing, the cost of living crisis, homelessness and mental health concerns are top issues for B.C. residents. In 2021 alone, there were over 13 million visits to food banks across Canada. That is up 20%. Do the Liberals in the government, who often speak about the need to raise Canadian children out of poverty, realize that children represent over 30% of those food bank users in Canada?
     Significantly, one in eight of those accessing food banks is employed. These services are a last resort for most, but they are becoming increasingly common for Canadians who have no other choice. Realistically, how could $77 a month address the burden of this level of desperation? It does not.
    The core issue impacting every person in this country is rising inflation levels. Unlike tax-relief measures, such as the GST credit, the government is implementing inflationary proposals, such as tripling the carbon tax on April 1 and lowering every Canadians' paycheque by increasing the employment insurance and Canadian pension plan premiums on the first of January.
    Under the previous Conservative government, CPP premiums remained stable and never increased. The fund was left actuarially sound for the next 75 years, and CPP benefits increased every year. Of course, working Canadians want to contribute to their retirements and will continue to do so, but this is not the time to increase those mandatory payments at source when buying power is shrinking more and more.
    Tripling the carbon tax will mean that Canadians will again pay more for groceries and home heating and will add up to 37.57¢ per litre to the cost of gas. Yesterday, in the morning, in my riding of South Surrey—White Rock, regular gas prices were sitting at $2.339 a litre. The cost fell in the evening to a mere $2.289 per litre. At this rate, British Columbians will be paying close to three dollars per litre in no time at all.
    My riding is a suburb of Vancouver with only one polytechnic university. White Rock is small and bordered beautifully by the water, but Surrey is growing rapidly. Infrastructure, however, has not yet fully caught up to the residential and industrial growth. In South Surrey, with no rapid transit and only bus lanes to get people in and out to Vancouver and beyond, or to get to the major universities in Burnaby and the UBC peninsula, these changes are burdensome and distressing to many who must drive to where they need to go. By the way, moving into Vancouver is not an option when a one-bedroom apartment now rents for $2,600 per month. The Liberals' one-time rent cheque would pay for about five to six days out of 365.
    At a time when the national focus should be getting the country's deficit back under control, the government is clawing back at the drastically reduced disposable income of hard-working Canadians, instead of cutting unnecessary spending within the bureaucracy. This government's approach is very limited. It lacks long-term vision for economic recovery.
    Many experts are raising alarm bells on the government's financial strategy. The heads of our major banks, including CIBC, the Bank of Montreal and Scotiabank are all warning that handing out cheques is inflationary and will make our economic woes worsen. Derek Holt, vice-president of Scotiabank, has stated, “Any belief that [these measures] will ease inflationary pressures must have studied different economics textbooks.”
    Inflation has been described as the cruellest tax of all by economists, because it hurts everyone by making all goods and services more expensive and it impacts low-income Canadians, seniors and students the most. Despite the relief that is offered by the government, high inflation crushes the ability for low-income Canadians to afford the basic necessities of life and curbs the ability of middle-income households to afford optional activities like sports or better quality food for their kids.
    According to finance professor Andrey Pavlov at SFU's Beedie school of business, “If we have high inflation and that inflation continues, that assistance isn’t going to do very much to help anyone, including the recipients of that assistance. It’s just not going to be enough.”
    Conservatives are advocating to bring inflation back under control. We need to do that. We need to stop inflationary spending. Conservatives understand monetary policy. We warned that inflation would naturally result from the Liberals' spending sprees, which continue. We will fight the government's tax hikes and inflationary deficits to protect Canadian paycheques and savings. We must do this because Canadians are not enjoying a higher standard of living, as I just heard. Canadians are hurting, and it is our job to transform hurt into hope.


    Madam Speaker, I thank members on the other side for committing to support this measure.
    When I was growing up, my mother received an HST refund and I know that it helped her with raising two boys with tight paycheques sometimes, and I am confident that this measure will do the same for families now.
    My hon. colleague's speech wound around a bit and talked about how sending out cheques can contribute to inflation, so I would ask her specifically if she thinks that paying for things like dental care and rent for low-income Canadians will contribute to inflation.
    Madam Speaker, the way the Liberal government is going about it will absolutely add to inflation. One-time cheques on these measures do not a dental plan make. This is not a dental plan; this is a one-time payment. This is not a rent plan; it is a one-time payment. As I just mentioned, for someone paying $2,600 a month for a one-bedroom apartment, $500 does not go very far.
    What needs to happens is that inflation needs to be dealt with, which is in itself a tax because it takes away from everyone. It is a regressive tax. It hurts low-income people the most. Liberals have to get the fiscal house of Canada in order. That would help people far more than one cheque.


    Madam Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for her speech in which she mentioned food banks. I recently spoke with representatives of SOS Dépannage, which is located in Granby but serves the wider region.
    What I am hearing about is the increase in demand. From August 2021 to August 2022, the demand for food assistance more than doubled. It is not just families who need it but also seniors, who are struggling because they are on a fixed income. One-time assistance is not the solution. Support and an increase in old age security is what is needed for all seniors, not just those aged 75 and over.
    I would like my colleague to comment on that.


    Madam Speaker, this is where vision is needed, a vision of a Canada where we can be more independent, where we can count on each other and where our economy is robust and working for everybody. That is what we need.
    We do not need further cheques to people. We need better paycheques for people. We need to get inflation under control because, as I mentioned in my speech, that is referred to as the cruellest tax of all. We cannot ignore it and economic policies must reflect a realistic look at the people hurting out there. The food bank situation is really atrocious in an affluent country like Canada. One of out eight Canadians is reporting putting water in milk for their kids. Canadians are reporting going without a meal. This is not the way Canada should look and the Liberals need to take it seriously.


    Madam Speaker, here we are on the eve of another climate emergency and what are the Conservatives doing? They are asking to get rid of the carbon tax. They are also asking for the government to help fund the climate emergency response, which I think we can all agree on. I, like my colleague, come from British Columbia where a carbon tax was brought in by the B.C. Liberals, supported by all political parties, because in British Columbia we understand the importance of fighting climate change.
    Does my colleague think the federal government can override B.C.'s carbon tax and reverse legislation that has been put forward by the Province of British Columbia to do the right thing?
    Madam Speaker, I am afraid my friend's question is very disingenuous because nobody has even been talking about going into provincial jurisdiction.
    We are talking about a tripling of the federal carbon tax on April 1, at a time when it is already, at the level it is at now, hurting people right across the country and hurting farmers immeasurably. It needs to be taken into account with the overall economy. People cannot afford this lowering and lowering of their purchasing power. They have to be able to look after their families and live in dignity, and we should be helping them to do that by not tripling the carbon tax on April 1.
    Madam Speaker, I, too, want to add my voice to the discussion around Bill C-30.
    In my lifetime, I have never experienced such inflationary times as these. We are living in immensely inflationary times, and I think this bill is an attempt to rectify that situation. We have seen a dramatic increase in the cost of living, the cost of food, the cost of fuel and the cost of housing. We have seen the average price of a house in Canada double over the last two years. Since the Prime Minister has become the Prime Minister, we have seen the price of housing double in this country. Over the last two years, we have seen butter, for example, come up 16%. Fuel has basically doubled in the last year. We are seeing how life is getting more and more expensive.
    There are two ways to address this issue. First is to make more money in order to pay for the things that we need to pay for. Second is to try to lower the cost of living and the cost of everything that we have to pay for like housing and all of those things. The reality that will come into effect is that both of those things will happen. People will find ways to make more money and hopefully the government will work to reduce the cost of things or at least stem inflation.
    We watched Joe Biden celebrate a little while ago. He said that inflation was flat for a particular month. He was wrong when he said that. In fact, inflation did not increase for a particular month. The percentage of inflation is how much one's money is being reduced in value every month. If the inflation rate is running at 5%, then our money is worth 5% less over that particular period of time. If that inflation rate stays at 5% and does not increase to 6%, that is not good news. It is just that, over the next same amount of time, that money will be worth 5% less instead of being worth 6% less. An inflation rate that is close to zero is what the goal of our whole system ought to be.


    I would ask the hon. member to move his phone, especially since it is near the microphone.
    Madam Speaker, I was just running my timer.
    Nonetheless, there is the work that needs to be done to make life more affordable in Canada and to reduce the inflation rate. What kind of tools does the government have at its disposal to reduce the inflation rate? Taxation is a big part of the tools the government has. We, as Conservatives, are calling on the government to impose no new taxes.
    On January 1 we will have a brand new tax increase on CPP and EI premiums. Happy new year. They are not optional fees for people to pay. If they were optional, the government may have been able to get away with not calling them taxes, but they will come off of people's paycheques whether they like it or not. They are taxes. That will reduce the amount of money people take home. They will make people's paycheques smaller, essentially. That will not help the inflation situation. It is not necessarily driving inflation, but it is one of the things that will not help people get over the inflation hump, so to speak.
    On the other side of this, on April 1 the carbon tax will go up. The carbon tax is very much an inflationary tax. The carbon tax gets built into the cost of everything. Whether it is the shoes we wear, the food we eat, driving to work, driving the kids to school, or driving anywhere, the carbon tax is making all of that exponentially more expensive.
    One thing that happens is that the carbon tax gets added into every part of the economy. When the raw products are taken out of the ground or the trees are taken out of the forest, the trucks that haul the trees to the lumber mill are paying for the carbon tax on their fuel. That cost gets built into the transportation costs of bringing the raw product out of the forest to the mill. The mill has to pay the carbon tax on the energy the mill uses to process that, so there is another added cost. As well, all of the packaging materials and supplies the mill needs are being shipped to that mill and they are paying the carbon tax on the products that are coming in, which is adding an increased cost.
    Most of these mills are publicly traded. Our pension funds are probably invested in these particular companies. As everybody wants to retire, they want a return on their investment. They are looking for a nominal 10% return on their investments. There is an expectation that no matter what the costs are to that particular mill, they have to turn a profit, so they are going to increase the cost. When the carbon tax on all of these different things is added to their input, it raises the cost of their input. When they sell their products, lumber for example, they are going to have to increase the price of lumber in order to get the 10% return they are offering to their shareholders and people who have invested in the stock market. There is that dramatic increase.
    As that carbon tax is bumped up, it cascades through the economy making it more expensive. I never even talked about that lumber getting delivered. The carbon tax will be charged as part of the costs of the truck driver for hauling it, including the diesel fuel needed for that particular truck hauling that lumber away from the mill to the local lumber yard. The local lumber yard is paying carbon tax on the natural gas they burn to keep the building warm. They are paying it on what they deliver. By the time someone gets that lumber delivered to their yard, there may not be a line on the invoice for that lumber that says “carbon tax” but rest assured that a significant amount of the cost of that two-by-four will be for carbon tax.
    The increase in the carbon tax on April 1, in particular, could be paused by the government. The government could pause that increase instead of ramping it up to three times from what it currently is. It could pause it or it could remove the carbon tax. The removal of the carbon tax would have the dramatic effect of reducing the cost of things across the country. I think that currently the carbon tax on gasoline is 12¢ a litre.


    Imagine if, in much the same way as Alberta has done, the provincial fuel tax was removed. When oil went over $90 a barrel, Alberta removed the fuel tax, causing a dramatic decrease in the price of fuel, which made life more affordable. People could get to work and their paycheques could go further. I hear more frequently from people who are having to ration their funds with respect to what they are buying and how they are heating their homes just so they can buy fuel for their pickup truck to make it to wherever they work.
    The Conservatives are calling for two things. One is a reduction in, the removal of, or no increase to the carbon tax on April 1. This would help to stem the tide of inflation and dramatically improve the cost of things. Two is no increase to the payroll taxes. This would allow people's paycheques to pay for all the things they need.
    The Conservatives are also calling on the government to quit borrowing money, quit raising taxes and quit raising inflation. We are calling on the government to stop borrowing money. We are calling for a one-to-one ratio. When the government wants to spend new money on a new program or a new initiative, it has to go back to the budget and find where there are some savings, whether that is from a program it is not interested in using anymore or it does not need. As society progresses, we see the government spend money and then, over time, the programs are not necessarily needed any longer. We are looking for that one-to-one savings, no new taxes, and for the government to balance the budget in the coming years.
    Madam Speaker, I was listening with interest to the hon. member across the way's perspective on inflation and the price on pollution. There is one thing that was going through my mind that maybe he can help me with, and that is the government's role in investing in triple bottom-line results.
    In Guelph we had six housing projects, for 243 units, with $45 million invested by the federal government to help stimulate the housing supply. A lack of housing creates inflation, which we have been facing. We have created a circular food economy in Guelph, with an investment of $15 million, to reduce food insecurity so people have access to food.
    Could the hon. member comment on the role the government plays in providing social, economic and environmental support for our citizens?
    Madam Speaker, I would say that the member opposite obviously thinks like a Liberal. Every time there is a problem, the Liberals pull out the government's debit card and try to spend their way out of it. Now they are faced with a particular problem they cannot spend their way out of. More spending of government money will only cause more inflation. The very thing the government is trying to stop will not be solved by spending more money.
    Uqaqtittiji, the North West Company is a for-profit corporation that benefits from the federal nutrition north program. In its last quarterly report it reported a 2.4% increase in sales to the tune of $579 million. Meanwhile, one in four indigenous Canadians lives in poverty. Does the member support corporate greed over indigenous poverty?
    Madam Speaker, I would say that I am quite familiar with the northern stores and how the nutrition north program works. Once again, this proves that the government struggles to build programs that work.
    Many times the free market is able to sort this stuff out better. I have heard of examples where Amazon Prime customers in northern Canada are able to get groceries cheaper than at their northern stores. Often those are the options.
     I look forward to working with the member to try to come up with some solutions for the north for sure.


    Madam Speaker, the statement of the hon. member that any more government spending leads to inflation is not borne out by many periods of time in this country and around the world.
     Certainly some kinds of spending can fuel inflation. This is a very strange inflation we are experiencing. There are some real increases in price due to supply chain disruptions. There are real increases in price based on Russia's invasion of Ukraine. There are distortions based on the usual kind of inflation, which is generalized through the economy, where the Bank of Canada is raising its rates in order to slow it. There is a minuscule proportion of the overall inflation pressure from carbon pricing, and in any province where the federal backstop is at work, the money is returned to the citizens of that area.
     To get a broader sense of that, some government spending is essential to help lower-income Canadians be able to cope with various pricing pressures.
    Madam Speaker, I want to respond to the comment about helping citizens cope with the rising costs.
     I would argue that working to reduce the cost of everyday items that are needed to live would help Canadians cope. A one-time $500 cheque that would be written would not increase that person's long-term paycheque and would not decrease the costs of natural gas, food and other things.
    We need to work to ensure there is more of the things that we need and less government.
    Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Victoria.
    It is a huge honour to rise today on Bill C-30, to help provide relief for the cost of living and double the GST tax credit. It is really great to finally hear that the Conservatives are getting on board with an NDP proposal, as well as the Liberals. We have been calling for this for a long time. Our leader has been calling for this since early in the year, to provide targeted relief to people who are being hit the hardest by inflation.
    When I talk about inflation, we are seeing a 41-year high in the rise of inflation and the prices of groceries, 10.8% just in the last year. I was just at the Port Alberni Friendship Centre at the elders luncheon. I was talking to elders, and they were telling me how unaffordable it is getting. People are living in already compromised housing, in precarious situations, struggling to make ends meet, to pay for groceries or cell phone fees or to put gas in the tank. They are being hit from all sides.
    When I talked about these measures, albeit small, it is so important to them to get this relief quickly. I am really hoping that the passage of this bill would happen quickly so that we could get support to those Canadians who receive the goods and services tax credit. The doubling of this credit would make a big difference for them in the next six months. In fact, it would help provide relief for over 12 million Canadians, which is a lot of people who are really feeling the pinch.
    I talked about what people are feeling and the pressures they are feeling. I do not know why the Liberals took so long to do this, but they did come on board. They also provided an excess profit tax on the banking industry, which is going to generate about $6 billion over five years. That is really important, because it could help provide relief for Canadians who are struggling the most. However, the Liberals left the oil and gas sector off the hook. They left their friends in the wireless sector off the hook. They left their friends in the grocery store chains that are making massive profits off the hook.
    In the meantime, these inflationary prices are being shouldered by everyday Canadians while these corporations are making record profits. If the Liberals had applied that excess profit tax to those other sectors, we would have had a lot more money to help everyday Canadians who are really experiencing difficult times due to increased inflation. Also, the Liberals have not addressed tax havens. We know the PBO said that this is costing about $25 billion in tax revenue every year. CEOs get a tax advantage on their wins ahead of everyday Canadians. They get tax preferences.
    When I look to the Conservatives, they have not brought any new ideas to help provide relief to Canadians. Great Britain applied an excess profit tax on the oil and gas companies of 25%. Why do the Conservatives in Canada not do that? It is because we know they are the gatekeepers for the big corporations. They are here to protect the profits of shareholders and the big corporations.
    We hear them talking about the increase to CPP and the increase to EI, and they call them payroll taxes. I was self-employed for 15 years. I ran a chamber of commerce for five years that was runner-up for chamber of the year in British Columbia. These are not taxes. These are actually investments in the employees. It is retirement security. In fact, it was Conservative premiers who were calling on Ottawa to ensure that we increase CPP contributions so that people could retire with dignity. People cannot afford to retire with what they are getting right now. It is leaving people vulnerable. These are not taxes. This is about employers matching their employees' contributions so that they have more money to retire on. These are deferred wages. The increase in EI is to ensure that if people lose their job or there is a disruption in the workplace, they are protected. It should be all of our parties looking after the employees.


    When we talk about what we are trying to do, this is just one suite of benefits. We are bringing forward a dental care plan and we are glad to see the Liberals get on board, but it is disappointing to see Conservatives not supporting getting dental coverage to people.
    I keep hearing from Conservatives that 70% of people across Canada are covered by a dental care plan. Penny just wrote to me from my riding and said, “I have to save for two to three years to cover my share of the dental cost for upper and lower dentures. Too many seniors cannot afford dentures, let alone dental repairs like root canals or major work they need badly. They are at the age where their teeth start falling out and dentures are needed.” Penny needs help.
    I raised this here in the House. My friend Ted, in Parksville, has lost his teeth. He has one tooth hanging out of his mouth. He cannot eat. He has fallen into depression, and he has lost 40 pounds. He is saying this plan is going to make a big difference for him. When I raised it in this House, a Conservative MP said that Ted needs to go back to work. That is what the member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan alluded to. Ted is 77. It is not okay to send Ted back to work so he can put teeth in his mouth and eat. That is not okay.
     Laura from Courtenay writes, “My daughter is in dire need of a root canal on her second last upper molar. She's in pain. The dentist has booked her in as soon as possible, August 16. However, for some reason, her medical needs are not covered under our health care and I'm not sure why this is as it's a medical emergency.” She talks about the threatening aspects of dental care. “Left untreated, dental abscesses can lead to serious complications, like a stroke, heart attack or life-threatening sepsis”, she says. “Why are my child's health care needs not being taken care of by our health care system?”
    I think it is mighty rich when I hear Conservatives who have dental care coverage vote against a dental care plan. Is that not unbelievable? It is okay for them to have dental care coverage, but not for the most vulnerable.
     Dermot, who lives in Qualicum Beach, says, “As my income is below the threshold you mentioned, I am retired and thus uninsured, this affects me. I know that you take pride in the role your party played in the introduction of medicare all those years ago.” New Democrats are proud because we need a health care system that is truly head to toe.
    I am the critic for mental health and harm reduction for the federal NDP. We need mental health care. We need parity between physical and mental health. The Liberals promised $4.5 billion a year ago. They said they were going to work with the provinces so that people can get mental health care when they need it. People need mental health care, and they need it now. It is clogging up our health care system when people are in emergency rooms and actually need health care supports.
    The federal Liberals have dropped the ball in terms of ensuring that we have a truly head-to-toe health care system. We are still waiting. We know they can do it. We saw them do it with child care. It took one year. They worked out a deal with the provinces. Why are they not doing that when it comes to mental health?
    We need to help people when they need it. We are committed to that. Through COVID, it was increasing CERB to $2,000 and the wage subsidy from 10% to 75%. With the commercial rent assistance program, although it was boondoggled, New Democrats helped them fix it, as well as the paid sick leave, and now we are bringing in rent relief, dental care and the doubling of the GST tax credit. We are going to continue to show up with proposals to get help to Canadians now.
    It takes forever to get the Liberals on board. There are many more things we can do. We know that the housing crisis is absolutely having a massive impact. The Conservatives love to throw mud at the Liberals in the doubling of house prices, but, guess what, on their watch, under Stephen Harper, housing prices doubled, too. They have gone up fourfold under these consecutive governments, making housing out of reach. We need non-market housing for people. Saying that the private sector is going to solve this problem is unrealistic. It has not happened anywhere in the world.
    I am calling on all of us to work together to bring forward solutions and for members to work with us. New Democrats are here to work with them. We are glad to see all members in this House supporting this legislation. This is going to provide relief to 12 million Canadians. We can do more, we want to do more and we look forward to working with members.


    Madam Speaker, the member across the way was a chamber of commerce executive. I was a chamber of commerce manager in Guelph for many years as well.
    I hear the arguments being brought forth by the Conservative Party that everything must be a tax if it is an investment in Canadians, whether it is employment insurance, the Canada pension plan increase or pricing pollution, never mentioning the rebates that go back to Canadians, which they can keep as they reduce their carbon footprint.
    Could the hon. member maybe comment on the business of supporting the entire person, including mental health, housing, food and economically?
    Madam Speaker, we know what happens when we do not look after people. If they do not have good dental care, they end up in the emergency room. If they do not have mental health supports, it drains the whole system. I was just with a first responder, a friend of mine who works for the Ottawa police department. He said that so much of his time is spent dealing with mental health issues. When we do not have a head-to-toe system or pharmacare, when people do not get the medicine they need, they get sick and end up in the health care system.
    We have asked the Liberals to increase health care transfers as well, so that we can make sure that people get access to the health care support they need when they need it. We need a system, but we need to make sure that it is funded properly. We see corporations with runaway excess profits. We know we can invest in saving taxpayers' money not by straining the other systems, but by actually providing solutions in dealing with mental health, dealing with dental care and dealing with our health care system in a way that is more efficient and with the proper supports and investments. We know we can save taxpayers' money in the long run.
    It is actually prudent and good fiscal policy to ensure that we have a head-to-toe system, and that is something we will continue to push for, especially when it comes to mental health. We need parity within physical and mental health. I tabled a motion around that, hoping that all parties in this House would support that motion.
    Madam Speaker, my hon. colleague is also from our home province of British Columbia. British Columbia has some of the highest gas and fuel prices. We know that Canadians who are living in rural and remote areas are disproportionately impacted by higher food prices and higher gas prices. We now know, from a recent report, that Canadians are paying higher prices in taxes than they do on food, gas and living costs for a roof over their head.
    I do agree with our hon. colleague that we have to view mental health the same way we view physical health, but this is not a plan. As we have seen time and again with the government throwing money at something, while it is nice and will help, it is not a plan.
    Does my hon. colleague agree that a real plan should be developed to help Canadians?


    Madam Speaker, that is exactly what we have been calling for. The member voted against my bill to have a national strategy and a response to the toxic drug crisis in this country. The same member says we need a plan, but then he votes against the plan.
    Of course we need investments, but the Conservatives are even afraid to go after the big oil and gas companies that are having record profits while fuel prices at the pump are skyrocketing. Where are the Conservatives? We see the Conservatives in Britain with 25% on excess profit, but these Conservatives do not have the courage to do that. They are going to leave it on the backs of workers and everyday people.


    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague from Courtenay—Alberni for his speech and for his enthusiasm, which is palpable.
    What bothers me a bit in this debate, however, is the feeling that several short-term gains are being made, but there is no overarching vision.
    Of course, inflation is really high at the moment, which is taking a serious toll. However, high inflation is often followed by a depression and austerity. In that respect, temporary measures have temporary effects, but they can have long-term repercussions.
    I would like my colleague to tell us whether the temporary measures are sufficient.


    Madam Speaker, it is not good enough. This is just temporary relief. I totally, wholeheartedly agree with my colleague that greedflation has taken over. We have corporate greed that has run out of control and inequality that is skyrocketing and needs to be addressed. One thing we agree with the Bloc on is that we need to make sure that we are closing those tax loopholes for the super wealthy and that large corporations pay their fair share. The Bloc, the NDP and the Greens have been calling for that, but the Liberals and the Conservatives are the gatekeepers for the super wealthy.
    Madam Speaker, we are speaking today on the unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinabe people. I represent the riding of Victoria, and the riding includes the homelands of the Lekwungen-speaking people, the Songhees and Esquimalt first nations, as well as part of the territory of the W’SANEC nations. It feels especially important to recognize first nations, Inuit and Métis nations, as September 30 is the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. In my community, there will be a South Island powwow hosted by the Songhees Nation, as well as the annual Orange Shirt Day event.
    I want to mention two incredible people in my riding who have poured their time and energy into this important work: Eddy Charlie and Kristin Spray. Eddy is a residential school survivor and he has dedicated himself to this work. We all have a responsibility to support the work of indigenous people and to stand in solidarity with survivors and communities today and every day moving forward.
    This afternoon, we are debating Bill C-30, a bill that would double the GST rebate. This morning, we debated Bill C-31, a bill that would deliver $500 in rental support to low-income Canadians and momentously support kids under 12 in accessing dental care as the first step in the creation of a national dental care program, the largest expansion of our health care in a generation.
    I mention these two bills together because at a time when Canadians are struggling with the skyrocketing cost of living, they are two critical pieces that will help families, students, seniors and the people who need it most. These are Canadians who are scrambling to make rent who were already struggling to make ends meet. Some are going hungry because food has become the most relentlessly rising cost in household budgets. The usage of food banks has tripled in many places, which is why we have been pushing, in addition to the GST rebate, for a windfall profits tax on grocery stores and big box stores to put that money back into Canadians' pockets. People need help and they need it now.
    When it comes to doubling the GST credit, we are talking about 11 million Canadians who would get some relief. However, that is not going to be enough on its own, and it should have come a lot sooner. In fact, over six months ago, our NDP team had been calling on the government to double the GST tax credit. We wanted a way to get help to people, and in a way that would not drive up inflation. We have relentlessly pushed for this, and now, finally, I am thrilled that we have successfully forced the Liberals to act to get help to 11 million Canadians who need it the most.
    We also forced the Liberals to double the GST credit and are forcing the Liberals to deliver dental care and a rental housing benefit. The rental housing benefit would help 1.8 million low-income Canadians. This year's dental care benefit would be life-changing for many families, and it is only the first interim step in the development of a federal dental care program.
    I hope we can take a moment to feel how big of a deal this is. Let us take a moment, because this will mean so much to families that right now cannot access the dental care they need. Families will no longer have to make the heartbreaking choice between paying for dental care for their kids and paying their rent or groceries. Parents have told me that being able to get dental care for their kids is going to be life-changing.
    The most common surgery performed on preschool children in Canada is treatment of dental decay. Let that sink in for a moment. However, we are not stopping at kids under 12. We are going to get dental care for all Canadians who need it.
    I have shared a lot of stories in the House from people I have met whose lives would be transformed by dental care, such as seniors who right now cannot chew their food, gig workers who miss days at work because of the excruciating pain and a person living with a disability who has been prescribed pain medication for her dental pain but cannot afford to get her teeth fixed. However, I want to share one more story, and I hope that my Conservative colleagues will listen closely.
    I spoke to a teacher who, when she was starting out, got a part-time position as an educational assistant. At that time, she was working hard as a single mom with three young kids. She wanted to build her career, but as a part-time EA, she did not get benefits. She made the difficult choice to go on social assistance, to keep working and to have her entire monthly paycheque clawed back, because at least on social assistance she could access dental care for her kids.


    If my Conservative colleagues claim to be fighting for single moms, dignity and respect, and if they claim to be fighting for small business owners, they should give them dental care. The Leader of the Opposition, in his speech on dental care, noticeably avoided mentioning dental care even once. Is he afraid to because he knows Canadians want this?
    He also said that politicians should have to follow the same rules as single mothers and small business owners. Well, I would ask him this: Does he believe that single mothers and small business owners should have the same benefits as politicians? I ask because as an MP, the Leader of the Opposition has been using publicly funded dental care for two decades, all while voting against giving dental care to single mothers and small business owners.
    The Conservatives have been saying they want to turn hurt into hope. Well, people are hurting. They are dealing with—
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Order. Members will have a chance to ask questions and make comments. Now is absolutely not the time to do that, as they are interrupting the member while she is speaking.
    The hon. member for Victoria.
    Madam Speaker, the Conservatives have been saying they want to turn hurt into hope. Well, people are hurting. They are dealing with the physical pain of dental decay and the lifelong damage of going without dental care. Parents are dealing with the horrible feeling of not being able to get care for their kids. As a parent, it brings me to tears thinking about how painful it would be not to be able to get my child the care she needs.
    Too many Canadians end up in the emergency room because of dental problems that could have easily been prevented if they could afford routine dental care. I am glad that my Conservative colleagues will vote in favour of doubling the GST credit, but if the Conservatives truly want to turn hurt into hope, I suggest they vote for dental care.
    Just last year, the Liberals and the Conservatives teamed up to vote against dental care. They are teaming up again to oppose a windfall profits tax on corporations that are making record profits and oil and gas companies that, in a climate emergency, are raking in billions. Families are playing by the rules, doing everything right, but they still cannot get ahead.
    There are three approaches in the House: that of the Conservatives, who want to let families fend for themselves; that of the Liberals, who have to be forced into doing the right thing; and that of the NDP, who are going to continue to work for people.


    Madam Speaker, I want to touch on dental care. I know we are talking about two separate bills, but it is part of the larger affordability element. I would certainly agree with the member about the importance of dental care, particularly for those who are most vulnerable. The health impacts are very clear and I do not want to debate the merits of that.
    My question is about the NDP, which seems to take the position that this should be administered by the Government of Canada. Of course, we are helping to provide payments, but what I have read in the news and what I can ascertain is that the NDP thinks this should be a federally administered program, notwithstanding that health is provincial jurisdiction.
    I understand that we are providing interim payments until those agreements can be worked out, but outside of indigenous communities and perhaps military families, why does the NDP think this should be federally administered, as opposed to working with the provinces, which have connections on the ground, similar to what was done on child care?
    Madam Speaker, I want to correct the record. Health care is a shared responsibility of the federal government and the provinces. We need to work together, which is part of the reason we will have an interim benefit. Families are going to get $600 this year and $600 next year. This means they can get their kids to the dentist to get dental care while we develop a more fulsome program. Ideally, the provinces will get on board, but no matter what, the government should be committed to ensuring that every Canadian can access dental care when they need it.
    Madam Speaker, this is interesting, because when NDP members stand up, they like to point fingers at our new Conservative leader, when they only need to look within. I ask if the hon. member has priced out the bespoke suits or the Rolex watches the NDP leader wears. Perhaps they should be introspective and not throw stones when they live in glass houses.
    Madam Speaker, I am sensing some defensiveness from my Conservative colleagues, and I get it. When their leader gets up and says that he is not going to support dental care and when their leader directs them to vote against this life-changing policy that would provide care for kids under 12, for kids who cannot access basic health care, well—
    Mr. Doherty: Come up with a real plan.
    The hon. member for Cariboo—Prince George had an opportunity to ask a question. If he wants to ask another question, he should wait until the appropriate time.
    The hon. member for Victoria.
    Madam Speaker, I can understand why my Conservative colleagues are feeling defensive, as they are voting against dental care and at the same time receiving publicly funded dental care right now.


    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague from Victoria for her speech. However, I have a few concerns. First, when it comes to Bill C‑31, there is nothing about taking care of seniors' oral health. We are nowhere near that point.
    In Quebec, children under the age of 10 are already covered by a plan. In fact, there is an election campaign under way in Quebec right now. Unions and community groups have shared their demands in the context of this election campaign that will determine the next government in the National Assembly. The elephant in the room for them is the lack of health transfers, which would allow Quebec and the provinces to implement and improve their dental care plans. We are not talking about national dental insurance, but about health transfers of up to 35%.


    Madam Speaker, we should be fighting for dental care and increased health transfers to the provinces. This is critically important, as we are in a health care crisis in emergency rooms. Staff are drowning. Of course we need to increase health transfers to the provinces now.


    Madam Speaker, I would like to inform you that I will be splitting my time with the member for Rivière-des-Mille-Îles.
    For my first speech after the summer break, I would have liked to talk about something a bit more divisive, but, unfortunately, Bill C-30 is fairly uncontroversial. It goes without saying that the Bloc Québécois will vote in favour, since it is a suggestion that was set out in all of our budget expectations. I hope that by saying this, I can avoid getting questions from the member for Winnipeg North in 10 minutes' time, since, at the end of the day, most of us agree on it.
    The one small criticism I have for the Liberal Party is that the government was slow to act. As members will recall, the Deputy Prime Minister stood in front of the Empire Club in Toronto and simply repeated measures that were in the budget. The government could have taken inflation seriously long before now and taken quicker action. That was a little digression for the member for Winnipeg North. Now he will perhaps have something to say later.
    I would like to quickly come back to inflation. In July, prices for goods and services in Canada rose by 7.6%. August brought a slight decrease, with inflation down to 7%. I am bringing this up again because I want to point out that this dip in inflation was primarily the result of a sharp drop in gasoline prices. That is why inflation slowed down.
    Some of you may have seen, as I did, short videos of the Conservative leader constantly talking about people who are trying to buy groceries and their experiences. I understand where they are coming from, and I agree with the Conservative leader. Consumer prices have skyrocketed. Prices at bakeries have risen 15% in the last month. That is a substantial increase. It is the same for fresh fruit, with prices having risen by 13.2% compared to a year ago.
    This is a developing phenomenon and we need to analyze it. Inflation is a complex economic situation. It will soon be clear where I am going with this. I have found a divisive element in something that is usually undisputed.
     It is a complex economic situation. I think we need to be careful how we respond to inflation. We have to be careful because the type of inflation we are seeing right now is not necessarily one we have seen before. In the past, it was a demand-side issue. What we are seeing now is an issue on the supply side as pressures from labour costs and energy costs are creating a supply crisis that is causing this inflation.
    Members will agree that there is no easy solution, especially when we take into consideration other causes that are completely out of our control, such as the war in Ukraine and global energy problems. It goes without saying that there is no easy solution. Why do I say that?
    I am not an economist and I do not know much about the mechanics of macroeconomics and microeconomics, but I am very familiar with political dynamics. As such, I can talk about what we should not do to fight inflation. In my opinion, what we should not do to fight inflation is use the inflationary tensions we are currently seeing to advance a political agenda; to me that comes back to playing partisan politics on the backs of the most vulnerable. I do not believe that populist speeches that use the catchphrase “have more in their pockets” are appropriate for fighting inflation. Such speeches might unite the discontented, but they do little to offer solutions to those on the losing side of our economic system.


    All this kind of populism does is distort things by offering piecemeal solutions, such as reducing the gas tax. In my opinion, over the past few months, we have been seeing a Conservative brand of populism stand up for the most vulnerable members of our society. I am not trying to pick a fight, but the Conservative Party does not exactly have a history of standing up for people disadvantaged by the economic system. Let me explain why I interpret the new Conservative leader's messaging as a kind of populism.
    Here is a brief definition of populism.
    The first thing to understand about populism is that many describe it as a divisive political strategy used to frame issues in black and white and pit people against one another. I have been listening to my Conservative colleagues for a while, and that seems to be their approach. How do they drive people apart? My Conservative colleagues say the only way to rein in inflation is to get rid of the carbon tax. That is an overly simplistic solution. I can see that others agree.
     The second thing to understand about populism is that some individuals have been giving speeches and displaying behaviour employing a certain rhetoric that combines utopianism and demagoguery, pandering to the people and pitting them against the ruling elite. I am thinking of the member for Carleton's rhetoric and a few clips I saw online in which he talks about a mother having to water down milk because she can no longer afford to feed her family. The member for Carleton said that the central bank is to blame for this situation. The Conservatives want someone to blame for inflation, so they have chosen the head of the central bank and the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister may have caused some harm, but the Conservatives are making the complex economic problem of inflation into a wedge issue.
    The third thing to understand about populism is that it condemns institutions that, in the populist view, do not pay enough attention to people's aspirations. It portrays political opponents as elites with little regard for the ideas of the people and popular common sense. We also heard this sort of rhetoric from the leader of the official opposition when he talked about the Prime Minister being out of touch and about the head of the central bank.
    I personally do not believe that this Conservative populism offers any proposals or solutions to fight inflation. Rather, I believe that it allows the Conservative Party to rally malcontents, those people on the losing end of our current economic system, to their banner without offering them any solutions. I will explain why I believe that the Conservative Party is not offering solutions.
    What does the Conservatives' traditional economic rhetoric sound like? I have always seen it as being similar to the Washington consensus, which emerged from the liberal ideology espoused by the Chicago school of economics. What is this rhetoric? I have been here since 2019 and have frequently seen the member for Carleton champion the laissez-faire approach. He has done so on many occasions. What is the Chicago school's Washington consensus all about? It advocates the systematic liberalization of markets and interest rates. That is strangely similar to the proposals frequently put forward by the Conservative member for the full privatization of businesses and the deregulation of markets. It sounds a lot like the Conservatives' rhetoric. In particular, there is an emphasis on heavy budget cuts, especially by reducing public spending. We heard this often, even during the pandemic.
    That is the Conservative Party's rhetoric. Does it structure government action in such a way as to help the most disadvantaged? I seriously doubt it.


    Two very interesting books by Joseph Stiglitz tell us the complete opposite. By implementing such measures, in line with free-market liberalism—


    I am sorry to interrupt the member. I was listening closely to his speech but I see that his time has expired.
    We will now go to questions and comments.
    The hon. member for Kings—Hants.


    Madam Speaker, normally I try to engage in French, but I want to make sure my point is very clear.
    I was interested in the member's conversation around supply-side economics. Of course the inflationary period we are seeing right now is somewhat unique. The Bank of Canada is increasing its benchmark borrowing rate to try to bring down demand.
    Does he have certain concerns on the monetary policy side such that if this is a supply-side economic issue that is driving inflation, and notwithstanding the Bank of Canada is trying to do its job to bring down demand, it may prove difficult to actually quell inflation because this is a supply-side economic issue?


    Madam Speaker, I will try to respond to my colleague while I finish my speech, talk about what needs to be done and suggest some solutions.
    I never thought I would have to say this, but I think that we need to protect the independence of the central bank. I never thought a politician would have to say this, but in light of the attacks by the member for Carleton, I have to say that we must indeed protect the independence of the central bank.
    There is one thing I think is fundamental, however. We must reduce our dependence on oil, and the government should therefore probably stop giving such astronomical subsidies to this industry. My colleagues and I know that the oil and gas sector is an bottomless pit for public funds. In Canada alone, through Export Development Canada, or EDC, we are talking about an average of $14 billion a year.
    If that money were reallocated in a better system with stronger social policies, we would have a much easier time tackling inflation.


    Madam Speaker, with reference to my hon. colleague across the way who was questioning as to whether this inflation was being driven more by supply-side economics, I wonder if the member could comment as to whether it is the supply side from economic goods or the supply of cash, in his opinion, that is driving this inflation.


    Madam Speaker, I am not an economist. However, what I am hearing from economic experts is that we are in a supply crisis, not a demand crisis. Very high fuel prices and labour shortages are what got us into this supply crisis, which is driving inflation.
    How can we address labour shortages?
    The Bloc Québécois has made a number of proposals. Allowing seniors to return to work and providing incentives to do so is one way to address labour shortages and reduce the effects of population aging. Transferring certain powers to Quebec could help as well. Immigration is a total mess. Every riding is having issues with temporary foreign workers. We could alleviate labour shortages by making it easier for foreign workers to get here. We can take some of that off Ottawa's plate.
    I think there are helpful measures that could be put in place. They would be more useful than simply saying that the head of the central bank should be fired.


    Uqaqtittiji, the cost of living does not seem to be factored for my constituents in Nunavut in this bill. I wonder if the member could respond to the passing of this bill being absolutely necessary, especially with increases factored for remote and isolated communities. This is actually very necessary to make improvements for those more vulnerable communities.



    Madam Speaker, I completely agree with my colleague. The government could do more. I would reiterate the solutions I mentioned earlier. If we stop dumping money down the bottomless fossil fuel well, maybe we will have more money to support our communities.
    Madam Speaker, we are here today to debate Bill C‑30, an act to amend the Income Tax Act regarding the temporary enhancement to the goods and services tax, or GST, credit.
    Bill C‑30 is sponsored by the member for University—Rosedale, our Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance. This bill, which is at second reading in the House, would create a new refundable tax credit of $229 for a single person and $459 for a couple, with an extra $114 per dependent child. To be eligible for the full amount, however, people's income must be less than $39,826 in 2021.
    If Bill C‑30 goes through quickly, eligible Quebeckers and Canadians may receive that tax credit in October. If not, it will not be available until November or December, which is very late. This measure, which will cost an estimated $2.5 billion, should help 11 million people. It is one tactic in the fight against inflation and the declining purchasing power of families in Quebec and Canada.
    We in the Bloc Québécois have no problem supporting Bill C-30, but we wonder if the $39,826 threshold to receive the full benefits is not a bit low. Even with a slightly higher salary, home ownership is not possible in Quebec or anywhere else in Canada.
    In the Laurentians, where my riding is located, the average rent for a three-bedroom apartment was $1,834 last spring. That is more than the cost of rent for the same type of apartment on the island of Montreal, and that is the number from six months ago.
    Given that the cost of housing has risen twice as fast as the consumer price index, that number has already increased by $250 in only six months. When you do the math, it gets truly frightening. The bottom line is that an income threshold of $39,826 could almost be qualified as stingy.
    There is more, however. The rebate decreases by 15 cents for every dollar earned above this threshold. This means that someone who earns $41,357 will not get a penny, even if the difference between the two amounts is quite small. I do understand, however, that 11 million people will benefit. We can assume that a lot of people will fall through the cracks, and that is what concerns me.
    The Bloc Québécois will support Bill C‑30, but doubling the GST credit for six months will not magically allow Quebec seniors to get their heads above water.
    Even before the surge of inflation, Canada was one of the industrialized countries where retirement income was the lowest compared to employment income for the same person. That number is 50.7% in Canada, compared to 57.6% in the OECD and 63% in Europe. Once we retire, we get half of what we earned when we were working. That is not a lot. It means that our seniors get poorer faster than those in other countries when they leave the workforce. Seniors need more than that to live in dignity. They need more than the $40 a month for six months that the government is currently offering them.
    We in the Bloc Québécois have said it before, and we will say it again: We need keystone measures that are well thought out and properly targeted.
    The first order of business would be to stop cutting the guaranteed income supplement payments of low-income seniors who received the Canada emergency response benefit or the Canada recovery benefit last year.
    The second order of business would be to increase old age security by $110 a month, as soon as people reach 65 years of age. This is a measure the Bloc Québécois has been defending tooth and nail for the last two years.
    Again, the Bloc Québécois will support Bill C‑30, but I remind members that our party already asked for this measure six months ago in its budget expectations. It is nothing new and it did not just pop out of the heads of the Liberals. We helped inspire it. Six months is a long time when you do not know how you will make it to the end of the month or even the end of the week. Six months is a long time for the most vulnerable people and those who are in a financially precarious position. It is even worse if the refund is paid in December or October, as I said before.


    Back home, singer-songwriter Dédé Fortin, who passed away unfortunately, summed it up best in his song The Answering Machine:

Yesterday, I met a poor man
He lives on the street, doesn't own a thing
He told me something that I thought was really funny
Life is short, but it can be long at times

    Let us think about that.
    My colleagues opposite will say that inflation is dropping, that it was 8% in July and 7% in August. That is true, but the drop is due entirely to the price of gas, which fell 18.8% after reaching an all-time high in June. Everyone knows that Ottawa does not have a say in world oil prices, which are essentially set by the London and New York exchanges.
    If we exclude gas, all other indices are rising, period. Baked goods have increased by 15.6%; fresh fruit, 13.2%; children's school supplies, 20%; housing, 15%; and the list goes on. These figures are from Statistics Canada, not me. In short, the Liberals can hardly be proud of and boast about this situation.
    Increasing the GST credit is a good measure, but it is largely insufficient to make up for all the cost increases caused by the current surge in inflation. Right now, 41% of Quebeckers cannot make ends meet. I think it is urgent that the government step in in other areas to support them.
    I would be remiss if I did not make the connection between the current relief measures and the situation of workers across the country. By country, I mean Quebec. Sadly, yesterday saw a return to the prepandemic EI system. Ottawa could have extended the measures it put in place during the pandemic. Ottawa could have delivered on its 2015 promise to reform EI. Ottawa did neither of those things. Now, six out of 10 workers are ineligible for benefits as of yesterday.
    This is a government that gives with one hand and takes back with the other. How shameful. As Bloc Québécois members have said repeatedly, Ottawa has to deliver on its promise and completely overhaul the EI system. That would be, in my view, a truly meaningful measure, the kind we in the Bloc Québécois like to see. It would counter the negative impacts of the increased cost of living that is putting untenable pressure on Quebec workers. It would be far more effective than a $225 cheque. We in the Bloc Québécois hope that the government can understand that.


    Mr. Speaker, being a senior myself, I was very interested in the comments of the hon. member across the way on supporting seniors. However, I am an employed senior, whereas we have many, many more seniors in our communities who are living on fixed incomes.
    The Conservatives are saying we should not be looking at increasing CPP deductions and giving more support for seniors in the future through that means. Could the hon. member comment on the need for support for seniors on things like long-term care and areas that are normally under provincial jurisdiction?



    Mr. Speaker, the member just opened a huge door for me.
    Indeed, I do not support the measures proposed by the Conservative side, should they have any. However, I would remind the House that seniors deserve much more than they are getting right now.
    The Bloc believes it is simple. We think seniors' pensions should be increased by $110 a month, not at 75, but at 65. That is one thing.
    I touched on the second thing during my speech. Honestly, this is something I learned while doing some reading to prepare for this debate. It is the difference between the amount seniors receive while working and the amount they receive after retirement. I was astounded to learn that there is such a large gap in Canada and in Quebec. Seniors become much poorer when they retire. I think we should reflect on that.


    Mr. Speaker, I am going to pick up where my Liberal friend from Guelph left off in talking about seniors. The seniors in my riding have been telling me about how the rising cost of living is making it very difficult for them when they buy things like gas and groceries, as these are becoming more expensive. We know the carbon tax plays a roll in exacerbating those prices and driving up those costs even more.
    Would my colleague agree with me that the government should look at scrapping the carbon tax or at least freezing the carbon tax increases in the new year to help seniors and those struggling to get by?


    Mr. Speaker, I understand that this issue is important to the Conservatives, but I am not at all convinced that it is the key. The carbon tax is seen differently in different parts of Canada.
    The Bloc Québécois has found other solutions that would help seniors. That is the answer to the first part of my colleague's question. I am extremely grateful that a young fellow like him is so concerned about us older folks.


    Mr. Speaker, I am really glad to see that everybody in this House supports an NDP proposal to double the GST tax credit to help people who have been the hardest hit by inflation.
    We have been hearing from Conservatives all day about getting rid of the carbon tax, yet they forget to talk about taxing the oil and gas companies, which are having record profits while prices at the pump are skyrocketing. In Great Britain, the Conservative government there went and charged a 25% excess profit tax and gave it back to people who live there.
    Does my colleague not agree that the Conservatives just do not want to talk about making the big oil corporations pay their fair share and taking a load off everyday taxpayers? Instead, they want to scrap a tax that is an investment. It goes back to eight out of 10 Canadians. We want to make sure polluters pay their fair share. Maybe my colleague can speak to that.


    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for that interesting question.
    Indeed, there has been a lot of talk about oil in the House today and in the past few months. The Liberal government has and would have had a great opportunity. Obviously this would never come from the Conservatives, but the oil companies' profits soared over the past few months, and the Liberal government refused to take a cut.
    That is too bad because we are not talking about millions of dollars, but billions of dollars. A small cut of that amount could easily help our seniors, the people who always lose out and get overlooked in our system.


    Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with my hon. colleague from Whitby. Tonight is the first time since June that I have formally risen in the House. I would like to begin by greeting my colleagues. I hope that they had a great vacation and summer in their ridings with their families and constituents.
    We are here tonight to debate Bill C‑30 which, along with Bill C‑31, represents a suite of federal measures to make life more affordable for vulnerable Canadians.
    I think it is very important to put things in context. Over the last couple of years, we have seen the effects of supply chains that have been rocked by the pandemic. There have been weather events. Of course, there is the war in Ukraine, caused by Russia's invasion. There are also demographic changes. The economy, in Canada and in other countries, is very robust. Unemployment is very low, and that creates inflation in Canada and around the world.


    I quite appreciated my colleague from the Bloc Québécois who talked about this being a supply-side economic issue. That is what I was trying to mention, while working on my French. Hopefully it came through in the translation. The fact is that some of what we are seeing right now is being driven by factors outside of Canada that relate to the products, goods and services that we, as global citizens, want to make sure we have as Canadian consumers. It comes down to two issues when we are talking about economics and affordability. The Bank of Canada has a role with respect to monetary policy and setting interest rates and trying to keep inflation to around 2%, and the Government of Canada has a role and obligation that pairs with that, albeit independent of the Bank of Canada, which is around fiscal policy.
    It was mentioned today in the House, I do not think it needs to be repeated, that it is important that all parliamentarians respect the independence of the Bank of Canada and its expertise in setting monetary policy. Our job here of course is to perhaps understand the implications of those decisions, but to really focus on the government's fiscal decision-making as it relates to and couples with monetary policy. We have seen the Bank of Canada acting. It has increased its benchmark rate, which is having an impact on Canadians. It is quelling some of that demand. In fact, we are looking at forecasts right now with respect to trying to avoid a recessionary period, not only in Canada but indeed around the world.
    I had the opportunity to review the decision by the Federal Reserve in the United States, which has significantly increased its interest rate. There will be a conversation that will have to be had by the Bank of Canada as to whether or not it will match that rate, such that we are not impacted from a consumer side with respect to imports and the value of the American dollar going higher, or whether or not we will try to pair a bit lower, such that our exporters can benefit with respect to that economic side. It is complex. I do not pretend to stand here as a pure economic theorist, but those are the decisions that are being made right now.
    That brings us to this conversation on affordability, because we know particularly vulnerable Canadians are struggling right now. During the pandemic, I will remind members, the government was there to help support the small businesses and individuals who were impacted the most. As we come out of COVID–19, as we move beyond the pandemic, it is also our responsibility to look at the situation and be able to rein in government spending.
     I will go on record to say, and it has not really been talked about here in the House, particularly by His Majesty's loyal opposition, that the government is actually in a surplus situation. I think that is pertinent right now given the fact the government has had to spend. It would be unwise if the government had not stepped up and provided that economic support at that time of uncertainty to make sure our economy continued to function and move forward, and indeed to set the stage for where we are at right now.


    Again, it is Keynesian economics at its core. Government spends during a down period when help is needed and then reins back spending when the economy is strong, as is happening right now.
    How do we try to help support Canadians without impacting what the work of the Bank of Canada is doing right now, which is to try to bring down demand? I think it is what we doing right now with Bill C-30 and Bill C-31, which are targeted measures. These are not just spending measures to provide support to all Canadians, including some of those who are the most wealthy. This is targeted to those who really need help the most.
    I want to give some context to what we are talking about today. Bill C-30 proposes to double the GST credit for the next six months for both individuals and families who are eligible. That is about 11 million Canadians. The benefits at an individual level would be for someone without children with a household income under $49,000. That is what we are talking about in terms of providing very targeted support to those who need it. For those who have families, the example would be under $58,000. For anything above and beyond that, these individuals would not necessarily be eligible for these supports.
    It is extremely important because it is targeting those who need the help without impacting Canada's fiscal position. This is a $2.5-billion spending measure. That is not insignificant, but it is not going to disrupt the work that the government is doing to rein in spending, at the same time understanding that the Bank of Canada has a mandate to bring down inflation. Indeed, in some contexts of what we hear His Majesty's loyal opposition calling for, the government is doing it. Perhaps that is not the narrative they want to spin, but we are working to do just that.
    I just want to take a moment to speak about Bill C-31. I understand it is a different piece of legislation, but they are interconnected. This is about providing affordability measures on housing with a $500 housing benefit for those who are vulnerable, and providing dental care. We have heard great impassioned debate and context about how important this is. The dental care is for children who are under 12 whose household income is under $90,000 and who do not already have private insurance coverage.
    Right now, conversations continue on how best to deliver this. I have asked some questions in the House of my NDP colleagues. There is merit in working out program delivery with the provinces, who are closest on the ground, who are going to be able to be there to help implement this and who would have relationships with dentists. I understand that right now this is an interim stop-gap measure to help provide that support to families.
    I, as a parliamentarian, may disagree with the NDP assertion that this should be a federally administered program. Perhaps it should be for indigenous communities, where the Government of Canada shares a very close constitutional relationship. I think that is clear. Perhaps it should be for military families if there is a way to roll that out through the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces. Otherwise, this is best suited for the provincial level.
    I recognize that my time is coming to a close this evening. What I way to say and what I want to reiterate is that I think these measures are reasonable, balanced and targeted to Canadians who need the support the most. We are in a situation where there is some level of economic uncertainty. Inflation is coming down. The Bank of Canada is doing its work. The government is responding in a responsible manner to not drive additional liquidity at a time when the Bank of Canada is reducing its interest rates accordingly.
    I look forward to the conversation and the questions from my colleagues here tonight.
    Mr. Speaker, I appreciated my hon. colleague's speech, and I appreciated that I heard, twice, his use of the phrase “rein in spending”.
    Earlier in this debate, I asked our colleague, the member for Ottawa Centre what the government's plan was going forward and whether it was more of a series of one-off payments in response to inflation. I am encouraged to hear the beginnings of a plan through the phrase of “rein in spending”.
    Where would my hon. colleague envision this reining in of spending occurring?


    Mr. Speaker, I certainly appreciate the candour of my hon. colleague opposite. We have a great working relationship on the agriculture committee.
    There is a whole host of areas I could look at it, but what I want to reference is when the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance tabled her budget. There is a plan to undertake about nine billion dollars' worth of spending efficiencies that the government is hoping to accomplish. There is probably a number of areas where that could happen. We are talking about a budget, in normal times, that would be around $370 billion. I do not want to label any one specific program; I think that would be inappropriate. However, I think there is room for the government to look at measures on efficiency and to rein in spending, similar to what we are asking Canadians to do. We know this has been a challenging time.
    We are going to do that responsibly. I will certainly look forward to the government's work on that. I am happy to take any suggestions if the member has some areas where he thinks that is particularly important.


    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Kings—Hants for his speech, in which he touched on housing, which is an important issue. There is no denying that, with the ongoing inflationary crisis, this is one budget category that has grown even more than most.
    Still, I am fascinated by the Liberal government's lack of long-term vision and its propensity for sending out cheques as a form of one-time support.
    As the Bloc Québécois critic for seniors, I have seniors getting in touch with me to say they cannot afford enough to eat. They see inflation driving grocery prices higher and higher. Does my colleague from Kings—Hants really think that a one-time cheque for $500 will help seniors? Would it not be better to consider a long-term solution such as increasing old age security significantly and permanently? I would like my colleague to comment on that, because I honestly do not think that $500 will do much for seniors.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question.
    The housing issue is a very complex one. The private sector and municipal and provincial governments must be part of the solution.
    Of course, the Government of Canada has a role to play and must help by implementing certain programs. However, it is above all a municipal responsibility. To some extent, the problem is rooted in the labour shortage and the supply chain.
    With respect to old age security, a $110-a-month increase for every senior is definitely possible. However, such a measure would cost $10 billion per year and per budget. I understand the importance of seniors, but at the same time, it is important to think about balancing the budget.


    Mr. Speaker, yes, inflation is the problem, and we can guess who is paying for it. It is everyday people, but there are solutions. For example, we have big corporations and CEOs who made record profits during the pandemic. They are not paying for it; that is a choice. Do members know who is paying for it? It is single parents getting clawbacks to their Canada child benefit. That is who is paying for it. It is everyday people who are paying more for bread. While Galen Weston, the CEO of Loblaws, makes $5,100 an hour, the cost of bread is going up.
    I am wondering why the Liberal government does not go after all these greedy corporations that are making record profits. Stop making excuses and do not make everyday people pay. Make corporations finally pay their fair share.
    Mr. Speaker, I will try to keep it short.
    Those things are exactly what we did in this last budget, where we increased the expectations on banking and insurance companies. We expect them to able to contribute a bit more during this period, so we are doing some of the measures the member opposite is suggesting. I am not going to do it on a class warfare basis and criticize people who are successful. We certainly take the view on this side that we want to increase taxes on the super-rich in this country. That is what we have done, but we can do it in a tactful way instead of just attacking individuals and corporate entities across the board in this country.


    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to participate in today's debate on Bill C-30, the cost of living relief act, no. 1. As my colleague has already mentioned, inflation is a cause for concern for Canadians and their families. While inflation is definitely a global challenge, the impacts on Canadians are nonetheless real, which is why our government has been working directly to help Canadians have more money in their pockets.
    Investments we have already made in the last two federal budgets and the new measures in today's legislation and in Bill C-31 will help Canadians who need it most. For example, the government's $12.1-billion affordability plan includes doubling the GST credit for six months, as proposed in Bill C-30. This would provide $2.5 billion in additional targeted support this year, to roughly 11 million individuals and families who already receive the tax credit. It will also enhance the Canada workers benefit at a cost of $1.7 billion in new support for workers this year to put up to an additional $2,400 in the pockets of low-income families. As well, there is a 10% increase to old age security for seniors over 75, which will provide up to $766 more for seniors. That will impact over three million seniors this year alone.
    The affordability plan includes cutting child care fees by an average of 50% by the end of this year. Looking at the child care fees in my riding, for example, families are paying $1,800 a month per child, at least. When we think about it, a 50% reduction in fees means $900 back in the pockets of those families, not to mention that in some families, both parents do not go back to work. This, in essence, supports families in having two incomes. That is almost a mortgage payment for many families.
    Dental care is another one that we have added to the affordability plan for Canadian families earning less than $90,000 a year, starting this year with hundreds of thousands of children under 12. That will obviously be extended to seniors and individuals with disabilities in years to come.
    We also must remember that our affordability plan has indexed to inflation a number of benefits, including the Canada child benefit, the GST credit, the Canada pension plan, old age security and the guaranteed income supplement. The federal minimum wage, which we increased to $15 an hour, is also indexed to inflation. Also, a $500 payment will go out to 1.8 million Canadian renters this year who are struggling with the cost of housing.
    I want to talk a little bit about the housing challenges that we have experienced and some of the solutions. My colleagues have already eloquently touched on some of the aforementioned points, including the doubling of the GST credit for six months that is proposed in Bill C-30. I would like to focus my remaining time on the housing measures proposed in Bill C-31, introduced by the Minister of Health earlier this week, which is a critical component alongside Bill C-30 in making life more affordable for Canadians.
    Our government believes that everyone should have a safe and affordable place to call home. However, that goal, one that was taken as a given for many previous generations, is increasingly out of reach for far too many Canadians. Young people cannot imagine being able to afford the house they grew up in. Rents in our major cities continue to climb, pushing people further and further away from where they work. All of this has an impact on our economy as well.
    This is why Bill C-31 proposes a one-time top-up to the Canada housing benefit program that would consist of a tax-free payment of $500 to provide direct support to low-income renters. This payment would provide direct help to those most exposed to inflation and those who are experiencing housing affordability challenges. With the support of this House, the payment would be launched by the end of the year. Specifically, the benefit would be available to renters with adjusted net incomes below $35,000 for families, or $20,000 for individuals.


    The Canada Revenue Agency would deliver the money through an attestation-based application process. In order to determine eligibility, the CRA would proceed with an up-front verification of the applicant's income, age and residency for tax purposes. Applicants would need to have filed their 2021 tax return and provide information and attest that they are paying at least 30% of their adjusted net income on rent, are paying rent for their own primary residence in Canada, which would include the address of the rental property, the amount of rent paid in 2022, and the landlord's contact information, as well as consent to the CRA to verify their information to confirm eligibility.
    It is estimated that 1.8 million low-income renters, including students, who are struggling with the cost of housing would be eligible for this new support. In total, the proposed funding will be $1.2 billion, of which $475 million were committed in budget 2022. This is a one-time top-up and would not reduce other federal income-tested benefits, such as the Canada workers benefit, the Canada child benefit, the GST credit and the guaranteed income supplement.
    That is not to say this is our only measure that impacts people who are having affordability challenges with housing. The one-time top-up is part of a broader set of initiatives introduced in budget 2022, indeed probably the largest chapter in the federal budget, that will provide more than $9 billion to help make housing more affordable, including by alleviating the supply shortages that are one of the main causes of the high price of housing. These are measures that will put Canada on the path to double our housing construction over the next decade, including with a new multi-billion dollar housing accelerator fund.
    Our government has a comprehensive plan to make housing more affordable by both funding and incentivizing new builds and by helping people get into the housing market.
    We are, for the first time, directly tying federal funding for infrastructure in transit to a requirement for municipalities to approve the building of more homes. All of this is in addition to further investments in affordable housing, the building of new social housing units and an additional investment of half a billion dollars to help end homelessness.
    While no government can solve the challenges of affordability overnight, we remain hard at work to address the cost of living and set Canadians up for greater success. We are also doing so by laying the foundation for longer-term economic growth.
    What today's legislation means is that most of our most vulnerable in Canada will receive more financial support now and, when combined with other measures in our affordability plan, will continue to receive new support in the weeks and months to come.
    For the Canadians who need it most, this will make their lives more affordable exactly at the right time. This is why I strongly encourage all members of the House to support Bill C-30.
    Mr. Speaker, I want to pick up on something the hon. member mentioned right at the beginning and that is inflation being a global phenomenon. I am not going to dispute that. We know that other countries are facing inflation as well. The part the member forgot to share was the fact that, in the countries that are spending more money, we see the correlation of higher inflation such as we are experiencing here in Canada. The PBO has confirmed that. Economists across the country have confirmed that as well. The government continues to ignore the fact that higher government spending leads to higher inflation.
    I am wondering if the member would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge that this government spending has exacerbated inflation and has made it far worse than it ever had to be here in Canada.
    Mr. Speaker, I am glad to hear an hon. member on that side of the House acknowledge that inflation is indeed a global problem and also acknowledge that Canada fares much better than many of our peer countries around the world.
    Inflation obviously is a challenging problem and the inflationary pressures that we see today are not just the result of pandemic relief spending, which I know the Conservatives continually purport in the House, falsely. I really believe that Canada has been set up for success. That is why we have seen the economic growth and the job recovery rate. In comparison to our peers, we are faring much better in terms of job recovery and growth. We really have set ourselves up to come out of the dip in our economy from the pandemic. We have seen a strong V-shaped recovery. Now we have to work on labour challenges, supply chain disruptions, etc.
    I do not believe that these new affordability measures will increase inflation.



    Mr. Speaker, no one can be against sucre à la crème, but the proposed measures are temporary, whereas the problems are permanent.
    My hon. colleague said earlier that housing construction would double. First, since there has been a shortage of 100,000 units per year since 2016, does that mean that, basically, 200,000 units will be built per year?
    Second, will these still be $2,500 units with a 10% discount?


    Mr. Speaker, the affordable housing challenges we experience today are deeply problematic for many reasons, but what we have seen is a market dynamic that has exacerbated the problem that has been around for a while.
    What our government has done in addition to the national housing strategy, which is a massive and sizable federal government investment in addressing that problem, is it has created greater supply and impacted over 500,000 Canadians already. As well, many rental construction projects have been happening. That plan has been rolling out with many investments across the country.
    There are many examples of projects, such as the rapid housing initiative. On top of that, we have added a whole host of new measures to help curb foreign and domestic speculation in the marketplace, increase supply and really help people get into the housing market and purchase their first home.
    There is a whole package of measures that are really designed to get at more of the root cause of the problem.
    Uqaqtittiji, the New Democrats agree with this bill and the necessary relief it would provide for families. Unfortunately, the amount does not address both inflation and the high cost of living for my constituents. All the figures mentioned by the member are not reaching my constituents.
    In what way will the government ensure all these investments he mentioned are reaching my constituents, who I am sure he agrees are in the most vulnerable communities he talks about?
    Mr. Speaker, I do agree there are members of her community, my community and all our communities who are vulnerable.
    As I think about this package of affordability measures, I think about a low-income family of, say, four people, which I think is, generally speaking, the average size of a Canadian family. It might be less than four, but let us just say four for the sake of it.
    Low-wage workers are going to receive the workers benefit. There is a housing rental benefit of $500. There is the GST credit they will be able to take advantage of. There is dental care coming online for kids in low-income families. They are getting a 50% reduction in child care fees and the Canada child benefit is increasing at the rate of inflation.
    I think there is quite a lot there to support the most vulnerable families across Canada.
    Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Kenora.
    It is an honour to rise to speak on behalf of the constituents of Saskatoon West, but before I speak to this legislation, I would like to let everyone in Atlantic Canada know that my thoughts and prayers are with them as they recover from this weekend's terrible storm. This is a very difficult time, with property destruction, injuries and deaths, and I know that the rest of the country stands with them and is ready to help with whatever they need.
    Over the summer, I spoke with many constituents, and all of them had the same message: The cost of living is really starting to hurt. Seniors are struggling to get by on their fixed incomes, and all Canadians know about the high cost of groceries, at least those of us who actually buy our own groceries. I am talking about grocery prices that are up by almost 11%. They are rising at the fastest pace in 40 years.
    Here we are in week two of our new parliamentary session. Is the government talking about reducing the sky-high cost of food? Is the government talking about stopping planned payroll tax hikes, such as the tax increases on January 1 that will reduce everybody's paycheques, or the coming carbon tax price increase on April Fool's Day, which is all part of the government's plan to triple the carbon tax? Is this what we are debating? No, we are here debating legislation that was born out of a cynical coalition deal between the NDP and the Liberals to keep this tired, worn-out government in power.
    Yes, this legislation, Bill C-30, is nothing more than a scheme cooked up between the NDP and the Liberals through a tweet. In the summer, the NDP leader tweeted that the Liberals needed to do this or that to count on his unwavering support, and the government responded with Bill C-30 and Bill C-31. Close to $5 billion will be used and, to use the words of the Minister of Tourism last week, thrown into the lake to keep the NDP happy.
    I do not believe that government should be throwing money into the lake just to cling to power. Governments exist to serve the people who elected them, so today I have good news for Canadians. Our party just elected a new leader who is well versed in economics. He is a man who actually understands how economic works. For years, the member for Carleton warned the government about reckless and out-of-control spending. What was his simple message? It was that excessive government spending would lead to out-of-control inflation. Well, guess what? Inflation is rampant and out of control. Our new leader predicted this, and he has a solid plan to get us out o