The House resumed from November 14 consideration of the motion that Bill , be read the second time and referred to a committee, and of the amendment.
Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting the remainder of my time with the member for .
I will pick up where I left off. I was talking about the importance of cancelling the federal portion of interest on student loans. When this was announced, I received a number of letters from recent grads in my riding. I have permission from the authors of two of them to read them to illustrate what the cancellation of interest meant on the ground for folks in Halifax.
The first letter reads, “I am writing to express my wholehearted support for the plan to make student loans permanently interest free. This makes sense on so many levels. Interest rates are way too high for recent graduates to be expected to pay. It's a poor tax. Personally, me and my family are super relieved to hear about this. I just graduated in September and we had our first child this summer. Budgets are tight, we are lucky enough to have an affordable apartment for the time being.... The announcement today is a much needed reprieve from the way things have been going. Please keep it up!”
Another reads, “I just heard about the federal government's proposal to permanently eliminate interest on the federal portion of student loans and I just had to reach out to say THANK YOU!!!!!!!! You have absolutely no idea how much of a burden has been lifted from my shoulders by this announcement. This will be so helpful for myself and all Canadians struggling to pay back their loans, I simply can't thank you enough. I actually burst into tears when I read the announcement, I was so stressed out about my payments going up again in the spring. Things are so hard for a lot of people right now and this move shows that the liberal government truly cares about Canadians. So thank you so much for this incredible move!”
I would now like to move on to the fall economic statement's revamp of the Canada workers benefit.
The Canada workers benefit has filled in a gap in our social safety net. We recognize that many of our support systems have been directed at families, seniors and students, but one refrain I hear often is this: What about single, hard-working folks out there who also need help, the lowest-paid workers who are slipping through the cracks? That is what the Canada workers benefit is all about: topping off the income of three million of our lowest-income workers.
In last year’s budget, we increased the benefit by up to $1,200 for singles and by $2,400 for couples. We are now ensuring that these payments are delivered on a quarterly basis rather than once a year, as they are now, so those who rely on the benefit can access it when they need it.
Next I want to talk about credit card fees and the pledges made in the economic statement to reduce the burden on our small businesses.
Small businesses, as we all know, are the backbone of our local economies, employing the vast majority of Canadian workers. The pandemic has hit them hard. We delivered critical financial supports for them through COVID, which is why we had an economy to return to, but we cannot stop there.
With rising credit card fees, small businesses are feeling the pressure. This is something that has been frequently raised to me by my local chamber, the Halifax Chamber of Commerce, and by business organizations such as the Halifax Partnership. I am pleased to say that in the fall economic statement, we are moving forward with our plan to help lower credit card transaction fees for small businesses. This way they are not forced to choose between lowering their profit and passing on fees to customers. That benefits both the businesses and the customers themselves.
The fourth measure I would like to highlight from the fall economic statement is all about housing.
Halifax has seen remarkable population growth in the last decade, and as such has experienced growing pains. The availability of affordable housing options has become increasingly scarce, and people are looking for the government to act.
The fall economic statement implements many of the housing commitments we ran on in the last election. For example, it creates a tax-free first home savings account that will allow Canadians to more quickly save a down payment to buy a home. Also, because we know closing costs on houses are increasing, we are doubling the first-time homebuyers' tax credit. Next, because we know homes are for living in, the fall economic statement cracks down on house flipping, slowing the rising cost of homes and giving more people the opportunity to buy their own.
The last example I will give, which is one I advocated for for a long time as a city planner well before my time in politics, is support for secondary suites. If a grandparent or family member with a disability wants to move back in, Canadians are now eligible for a multi-generational home renovation tax credit so they can afford to build a granny suite, laneway housing or whatever else to allow family members to live with them while maintaining independence.
I would like to address one more set of measures in the fall economic statement, and they are about climate change. As COP27 has made clear, if it was not already, we need to be moving further and faster in the fight against climate change. That is why I am really glad to see that the statement includes new tax incentives for companies adopting clean technologies. This means a refundable tax credit equal to 30% of the capital cost of investments in electricity generation systems such as solar, wind and hydro; stationary electricity storage systems that run on non-fossil fuel energy; low-carbon heat equipment such as solar heating or air-source and ground-source heat pumps; and industrial zero-emission vehicles.
All this and so much more is included in the fall economic statement. I believe that it provides the necessary support to some of the most urgent challenges facing Canadians, including those back home in Halifax. I look forward to working with colleagues to ensure it passes through Parliament in a timely fashion, as I know that all of our constituents will benefit from the measures that it contains.
Madam Speaker, as always, it is a great pleasure for me to rise in the House to talk about the work that the government is doing and the impact it is having in our ridings.
Let me share with the House the importance of the fall economic statement. It follows the budget and brings us to the fall. It will look at some of the measures that we passed lately that will help affordability for Canadians, but it will also share some key investments as we move forward, which are so essential.
Let us not forget that we went through two difficult years with COVID, and we were able to help Canadians because we were in a strong and positive position financially. We were able to help Canadians individually, as well as families and businesses. We were there and we had their backs.
Once again, we are faced with affordability challenges for Canadians, like at the pumps and at grocery stores, and we need to be there for Canadians. We need to be more focused on targeted supports for Canadians so that we can help those who are having the greatest difficulty.
Let us look at our accomplishments. When COVID hit, we lost over three million jobs overnight. Since coming out of COVID, by building back better, we recaptured millions of jobs that were lost, but we also added, as of today, 400,000 jobs to the economy, which is a direct indication of some of the successes of our government in building back better. We are in great shape this time around with the strongest economic growth in the G7. We still have a strong AAA credit rating and the lowest debt-to-GDP ratio in the G7, which puts us in great shape to move forward.
Let us talk about some of the things we have done in the last few months with the help of the House and the other parties. We are doubling, for six months, the GST credit for people who receive it. How many people are we helping? We are helping over 11 million families with that investment, which is really important. We are also helping seniors with an average of $225 more over the six-month period. It is a big investment to help people with low incomes with the GST credit.
The second thing we are doing is the top-up for housing for individuals who are struggling. This is a one-time, tax-free payment to make sure that it does not affect their income as we saw with some of the investments during COVID. We were able to make the adjustments beforehand to help 1.8 million Canadians, which is so important.
We also passed a very important tax-free payment for dental care. It is for families with kids under 12 years old, and that is essential. Every member of Parliament has coverage for dental care, but these individuals and these families do not. Families making $90,000 or less will be able to benefit from this investment. This will help over 500,000 children across this great country.
I will mention some of the new initiatives that are so important to Canadians and low-income individuals. Single individuals are asking what kinds of supports are available for single Canadians in the country. Our expansion of the Canada workers benefit will help over three million people with low incomes, people making minimum wage or just above minimum wage who are working extremely hard. Our government recognizes that they too need some supports.
These supports have been put in place through budget initiatives. However, this time with this investment, we are going to be able to advance the payments quarterly so that these individuals can receive these monies, rather than waiting a whole year to get the tax credit. This will be a very big change that will help many Canadians and it will take place in July 2023. It is not that far away. I have spoken to many people in my constituency about this as well.
With respect to the elimination of interest on student loans, as the House knows, I am a former teacher. I know the investment and cost to families and individuals for education, whether it be for university, community college or whatnot. Having to pay interest is one thing, but having to pay it when the interest rate is climbing very quickly makes it that much more difficult. Many of these individuals will save up to $3,000 in interest over the life of their loan. That is a big support for those individuals.
The Canadian Alliance of Student Associations has stated that there is big news for students right across the country. Starting on April 1, 2023, the Government of Canada has removed the interest on Canada student loans, and this investment is welcomed by past, current and future students who borrow money for their education.
Housing is also a big initiative. This government is the first government to bring forward the national housing strategy, which has various features to support Canadians in many ways with respect to housing. One of the initiatives we are bringing forward is the tax-free first home savings account, where individuals can put away up to $40,000. There is no tax going in or coming out, which is very similar to the TFSA that has helped many Canadians. Also, there is support of up to $1,500 for closing costs when one is purchasing a home.
The other initiative that is very important is the multi-generational home renovation tax credit. I have heard many families talk about having a second suite for a parent, a senior or people with disabilities. A constituent called me to ask if she would be able to renovate her garage into an apartment for her child who has some challenges, barriers and disabilities. Yes, with this investment, people can receive up to 15% of their investment. Therefore, if someone invested $50,000 to make the transformation, they would be able to receive $7,500 on their tax return. Those are big, focused and targeted areas to support Canadians.
Let us also talk about jobs, growth and the economy, which are so important. We are making investments into skills for a net-zero economy. We need to be better prepared to put forward the necessary skills to meet the needs in the labour market to achieve our transition goal. This investment into a sustainable jobs training centre is extremely important, and departments will come together to help in that area.
Jobs for youth are very important. One investment is the youth employment strategy. For people across Canada facing barriers there is Ready, Willing and Able. In Nova Scotia, this has increased participation in the workforce for people with disabilities. We have been able to establish 265 jobs, many of which are with Air Canada, Costco and Shoppers Drug Mart.
With respect to Canada summer jobs, we have seen over 70,000 jobs. Those are key for young people who not only want to attend university or community college, but also want to achieve success by learning new skills and getting out into the workforce to meet with many entrepreneurs, which will help them get various jobs in the future.
Immigration is a strategic keystone for our government. We need to bring more people into the country. We know we have a shortage of workers for over one million jobs, so we need to find ways to fill those. People forget that just over 60% of people who immigrate to Canada have the skills to meet the needs of our country. That is extremely important. We are also bringing some programs forward that will help the regional and rural communities, and we are doing extra in that area.
Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to rise once again as Thornhill's voice in Ottawa. I will be sharing my time with my friend, the hon. member for .
Everything is fine; Canadians have never had it so good. That is the constant refrain we hear from the Liberals and their NDP coalition partners, while Canadians from coast to coast to coast are struggling and while everyone in Canada pays the highest taxes on record, ever.
We have a problem in this country, and the Liberals must know it by now. It is hard to ignore. They either are not listening or they do not care. The Liberals have doubled our national debt since they came to power. The has incurred more debt than all prime ministers who came before him. The Liberals have doubled the debt. They have tripled the carbon tax. They have quadrupled Canadian mortgage payments, because Liberal inflation has led to Liberal interest rate hikes. We have a cost of living crisis in this country. The Liberals must have some inkling of that now.
The fall economic statement really could have helped. However, unfortunately it would do nothing to address the immediate cost of living crisis the Liberals seem to be ignoring. We asked for two very simple things from the Liberals: no new spending and no new taxes. This statement delivers neither. We asked for compassion for Canadians trying to get by and fiscal responsibility for future generations, and this statement delivers neither.
For weeks, Conservatives told Liberals this statement would have the opportunity to change the course, to freeze spending, to freeze taxes and to reverse the failed policies that are causing the chaos we see all over the country. It seemed like the Liberals were finally getting the message. The told Canadians it was time to cut back, that we should live within our means and that the era of big government spending was over. We even heard the utter the words “fiscal responsibility”. I almost fell out of my chair when he said those words together in the same sentence. However, when the update was delivered and Liberal promises and talking points collided with reality, like on every other issue, they fell short. Only a Liberal would think that this year's fall economic statement shows fiscal restraint.
Since April, the Liberals have added $11.6 billion to new government spending, and this update will add another $11.3 billion. The Liberals are addicted to spending, and Canadians are paying the price. On top of all that are the new taxes that this statement fails to do away with, like tripling the carbon tax and putting new taxes on paycheques, and inflation is already at 6.9%.
Interest rates are the highest they have been since the financial crisis. Rental rates are up 15%, and food inflation is at 11%. Where do families find that money? Gas is up to over $2 in many parts of the country. Diesel hit $3. Canadians have never felt worse about their finances. Every survey to every Canadian comes back with exactly the same refrain. All the Liberals have to do is check out of the $6,000-a-night hotel room, turn off the Disney+ and talk to Canadians to understand what is going on in this country.
The Liberals are flooding the market with cheap cash that is driving up the cost of goods, while simultaneously making people pay even more in taxes. How does that make any sense? They hear from the same people as we do, who are just struggling to get by. They read the same statistics as we do. The fact that 1.5 million people in this country used a food bank in a month should not be lost on anyone. This is Canada. The Liberals go back to their constituencies at the end of the week, just like we do. Therefore, why are they not changing course? Why are they not listening? Why are they continuing to do the same thing that got us into this in the first place?
The Liberals know their actions, their policies and their spending are causing inflation. The said it herself. The Bank of Canada governor said it, and the one before him said it. The banks have said it. Everybody except for members on the other side has said it, with the exception of the Deputy Prime Minister. The simple answer is that the Liberals care more about the power of government than the power of people. They care more about helping making their friends rich than helping struggling families get by. They care more about the voices on the cocktail circuit than the voices of real, everyday Canadians telling them to stop.
It is time to start listening to real people who know that budgets do not balance themselves, real people who know that monetary policy is important, real people who know that cancelling Disney+ is not a solution to put food on the table, real people who know that $6,000 for a hotel room is absurd, real people who know that $12,000-a-month grocery bills at the 's house are ridiculous, and real people who know that private jets and limousines are insulting as they cancel their vacations and struggle with driving to work every day. Maybe this is a statement of fiscal restraint for the Liberals, but it is not a statement of fiscal restraint for anybody else in this country.
I will promise Canadians that fiscal restraint, for the Conservatives, means deficits are at zero, not $15 billion and not $30 billion, but zero. For every dollar spent there will be a dollar found, because that is how real people live in the real world. The herself has warned of difficult times ahead, and for her to spend so recklessly despite knowing all that is, frankly, unacceptable.
What will the government do when the cupboards are already bare? That is the position we are in. How will it be able to deal with the rising interest rates on our debt, which will soon exceed the amount of money the government transfers to provinces for health care in a crisis? We are going to pay more interest on the debt than we are going to pay for health care in this country, from the federal government. Here is a spoiler alert: It will not. It will be the fault of this government, and Canadians will suffer more for it.
As I have said before and will say again, I have been part of budget processes before. In fact, the last one I was a part of in this country was balanced. I have never seen a government's fiscal policy so lacking in vision and so utterly meaningless. At least in the last crisis, Canada had a plan; we had a direction. It was because of our strong fiscal management that we were able to make it out of the worst economic crisis in a generation at the top of the G7. We were the last ones into the recession and the first ones out. We need a plan, no more platitudes, no more talking points and no more half measures of NDP fantasies to keep the Liberals in power.
I would support the economic statement if it had a meaningful solution anywhere in the document, but instead I will tell Canadians what we need to do. Consider this a bit of an edit. There is hope for the future, because we live in the best country in the world. We have so much of what we need right here, like our farmers, our oil sands, our natural resources, our minerals and, of course, our people. It is just a shame that we are not doing more to support any of those things. We are squandering our riches. We need to spend less cash and make more of what cash buys right here in Canada.
We need to build more infrastructure, pipelines and LNG facilities, and get government out of the way to make that happen. We need to increase building new homes by 15% in the biggest cities, where they are needed most, and make sure the people who can help with this, qualified immigrants being blocked by pointless government rules and perpetual backlogs, can get the certifications they need to get the jobs they truly deserve. I am a child of an immigrant, an uncredentialled engineer, who came here to drive a cab. Almost 50 years later, the story is the same, only that uncredentialled engineer will be driving an Uber.
We need no new taxes: no new carbon taxes and no new paycheque taxes. We need to ensure the documents presented to this House have a plan to grow the economy and not flood it with cheap cash. We have the lowest projected growth in GDP of any advanced economy in the world, and that ought to terrify anybody who wants to see this country remain competitive in a race we are losing.
It starts now. It starts with rejecting everything in the fall economic statement and what it stands for. “Bigger government, more spending and higher taxes” should be its title, and it will end when we elect the member for as the next Prime Minister of Canada.
Madam Speaker, it is always a pleasure to rise on behalf of Canada's number one riding, Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon. I am pleased to share some initial thoughts on the fall economic statement.
The economic update released by the costly coalition fails to address the cost-of-living crisis created by the out of control spending government. The 's inflationary deficits, to the tune of half a trillion dollars, have sent more dollars chasing fewer goods. His inflationary scheme is hiking up the price of groceries, gas and home heating. Canadians have never paid more in taxes, because of the Prime Minister, and have received less.
To reduce inflation and improve the cost-of-living crisis that Canadians are living with each day, the Conservatives had two very simple and clear demands: first, stop new taxes; and, second, stop new spending. None of our demands were met in the fall economic statement. For that reason, the Conservatives will not support this irresponsible economic statement put forward by the government.
The cost of government spending right now is driving up the cost of living and Canadians have had enough. As the member for just mentioned, we have a government that is focused on the power of government, of extending the reach of government. The Conservatives want to put power back into the hands of Canadians, back into the hands of people who can create things, produce things, pay taxes and be responsible citizens. However, because the government continues to spend more, to infringe upon our rights and into our day-to-day lives, it is taking away the power of people to live the type of life they want to live. I am opposed to that.
Before I go on, I would be remiss if I did not mention one line item in the fall economic statement that relates solely to my riding of Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon, and that is the promise made in June of this year regarding the $77 million put forward in good faith by the Government of Canada to rebuild the community of Lytton. I have yet to receive an answer other than to say that by transferring the funds from Pacific Economic Development to Infrastructure Canada, the village of Lytton would have more flexibility.
What I am concerned about, and what I hope I get an answer very soon from the government on, is why it has decided to extend that unique and historical payment over a five-year term. Right now, my community is without a village office and some core services, and debris removal is still taking place. The constituents of Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon need that $77 million and the flexibility to build in the upcoming spring. Having that money spent over five years, I am afraid, will delay even further the necessary construction work that needs to take place.
Lytton has been waiting long enough. The government came forward in good faith with a response. Let us move forward and let us get that money to Lytton sooner rather than later.
Turning back to the fall economic statement and the other measures included within it, I would be remiss if I did not mention a few points regarding small businesses.
One key item that has broad support across the country is addressing credit card transaction fees. Canadian small businesses pay some of the highest credit card transactions in the world. To the government's credit, in budget 2021, it agreed to address this issue. In budget 2022, it agreed again to address this issue. Now, in the fall economic statement of 2022, it says that if the private sector does not address this issue by December then it will do something about it.
While small businesses are struggling with a very challenging recovery in a post-pandemic economy, the government is dragging its feet on an area that there is broad consensus that needs action right away. My point is that it should take action now to get this problem fixed and help small businesses.
The second point I would like to address is CEBA loans. Over the last number of weeks, industry associations and small business organizations have been coming to Ottawa and speaking about the challenges they are facing.
I met a number of restaurant owners from Vancouver who are dealing with some very big challenges. They have said that in December next year, they are going to have to start repaying their loans. Right now, if they break it out on a month-by-month basis, they are going to have to pay approximately $10,000 to the Government of Canada to meet their loan payments. Small business owners want to pay back that money. They took it in good faith and took responsibility for that, but they asking the Government of Canada to give them some more flexibility, perhaps extending the timeline.
I mention this in the context of what is taking place in British Columbia. On the front page of the Vancouver Sun just a few weeks ago, it said there was lawlessness in Vancouver, that Canadians felt a sense of lawlessness. Property crime has never been higher. Businesses are not only dealing with smaller revenues and labour shortages, but also with property crime that is impacting their ability to produce goods and create money, like they were before the pandemic. My plea is that the government extend CEBA business loans and give our small business owners a break. We all need them, and we need to stand behind them.
The third item I would like to address is the ever-ongoing housing crisis. In budget 2022 and during the election campaign, the government talked in grandiose terms about a housing accelerator fund that would help the private sector build 100,000 new homes by next year. The government is not talking about that anymore because it has not done anything about it. It has done nothing to address red tape or work with municipalities to get housing built. We all need new housing, even in this affordability crunch, that will reduce the cost of living for Canadians. We all agree in the House of Commons that we need more housing. Let us move to do it right now. The government is not, and that is a failure.
The fourth point I would like to make is with regard to tax increases. On January 1, small business owners are going to have to pay more taxes to the Government of Canada. I recently mentioned that a small business owner with, say, 15 employees making over $60,000 will be paying over $20,000 every year to the Government of Canada just on employment insurance premiums. At a time when everyone in the country knows that small businesses are holding on by a thread, why is the government choosing to increase employment taxes on them right now? That is irresponsible and it will not help wealth creation or job creation in our country.
I would be remiss if I did not mention the elephant in the room, and that continues to be overspending by the government. Why is this a problem? It is a problem because in the very near future we will be paying more for debt than we are for health care. That is a sad reality for a country as wealthy and as prosperous as Canada. We have a health care crisis and we need to put more money into health care, not into debt payments. However, we cannot do that because the government overspent when it did not need to, and that is hurting Canadians across the country.
The final point I would like to make relates to government operations. In the fall economic statement, there is a special line item fund for $135 million to provide shelter to asylum seekers coming into Canada. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Canada shut down the illegal crossings across Canada. Why did it open them up again and why is it putting forward $135 million?
People across the world want to come to Canada, want to be productive citizens and want to have a fair chance to do what my grandparents did and what many members of the House of Commons did, which is to make a fair go of it in Canada, to pay taxes and be a productive member of society. However, with this $135 million, the government is saying that asylum seekers can break the rules and it will still support them. Shame on the government for not taking real action to address our border crisis and support the people who have followed the rules and who have waited for years, in good faith, to have the opportunity just to become a Canadian. We can do better.
We also need to address the brokenness of the federal public service. I was near the Service Canada office in my riding very recently and about 60 people were lined up outside. They could not access government services in a timely manner. Despite the growth in the public service by 24% since 2015, despite more spending than every other government in the history of Canada combined, people cannot get passports, seniors cannot get timely information on CPP and the guaranteed income supplement, and we cannot even give our hospitals enough money to give people the operations they need.
The government needs to get its house in order. This fall economic statement is irresponsible and, frankly, it is damaging to the well-being of Canada.
Madam Speaker, I was saying that I am here to represent my constituents, who were frustrated when Bill was rejected but are happy about Bill , which we are discussing today.
They are happy because this government bill contains precisely the measures my constituents need across every sector. For example, we are delivering on our commitment to make home ownership more affordable for young people and new Canadians with a new tax-free first home savings account that will make it so much easier to save for a down payment. That is very important for young Canadians.
We are delivering on this commitment by doubling the first-time homebuyers' tax credit to help cover the closing costs that come with buying that first home of one's own. We are delivering a multigenerational home renovation tax credit. That is something I am very much looking forward to myself. This will help families across Canada afford to have a grandparent or a family member with a disability move back in if they want to.
We are working to make sure families do not have to choose between taking their child to the dentist and putting food on the table. We are establishing a new quarterly Canada workers benefit, a little-known but important measure for low-income workers. This measure will deliver advance payments and put more money, sooner, into the pockets of our lowest-paid and often most essential workers.
We are providing hundreds of dollars in new targeted support to low-income renters and doubling the GST credit for the next six months.
We are working to deliver lower credit card fees. This is very important for our SMEs, which are often family businesses. That way, they will not have to choose between cutting into their already narrow margins and passing fees on to their customers.
We are taxing share buybacks to make sure that large corporations pay their fair share and to encourage them to reinvest their profits in workers and in Canada.
We are tackling housing speculation and making sure that homes are for Canadians to live in, not a frequently flipped investment asset. That is proof of our respect for the citizens of Canada and Quebec.
That is what we are dealing with, and that is why we must work together here in the House of Commons. That is what Canadians expect of us and why they elected us. They do not want to see frivolous quarrels and they do not want pointless drama. No, Canadians expect us to work together to take concrete action to improve their quality of life.
Bill C-32 includes measures that Canadians are eagerly awaiting, in my riding of Châteauguay—Lacolle and across the country.
I was in Lacolle last weekend, and the mayor asked me a question about Bill S-207. That said, I do not want to stray from the topic at hand.
In my riding of Châteauguay—Lacolle and across the country, people are counting on the government to help them through these tougher economic times. Everyone is feeling the crunch. We are fortunate to have numerous organizations we can count on, such as the Châteauguay Community Centre, La Rencontre châteauguoise, Entraide Mercier, Sourire sans fin and the many volunteer-run centres and services in the region. These organizations help the most disadvantaged on a daily basis. There is also the Société locative d'investissement et de développement social and the Fédération régionale des OSBL d'habitation de la Montérégie et de l'Estrie, which work to offer affordable housing. Some wonderful projects have been implemented in my riding recently thanks to the tireless efforts of these people who work in the field of social housing. That being said, even these organizations are swamped with a growing number of requests from citizens in need.
We need to be there to help our fellow citizens. Canadians expect us to help them by investing in quality of life and by supporting SMEs so that they can continue to operate in a stable environment.
In my riding of Châteauguay—Lacolle, we are very proud of our spirit of entrepreneurship. These SMEs are our partners. They support millions of Canadians by providing jobs that allow them to support their families. Canadians would not want to see us squander our nest egg on cryptocurrency.
What is it with bitcoin? It makes me mad. That is what some members have proposed here in the House and elsewhere.
Our government is aware of the challenges Canadians are facing. Right now, Canadians across the country are feeling the effects of inflation thanks to increased food and rent prices, but they are also worried about the future. It is our role as members of Parliament to reassure them by implementing measures like those in Bill .
We want to continue making life more affordable for people and building an economy that works for all Canadians. It is not complicated. We invest in Canadians in need and ask the wealthiest, especially companies, to pay their fair share. That will help everyone.
The 2022 fall economic statement is focused on building an economy that works for everyone and ensuring that no one is left behind. The investments we are making today will make Canada more sustainable and more prosperous for generations to come.
Madam Speaker, it is indeed a great honour to rise today to speak to the government's bill, Bill , which is an act to implement some of the measures announced in the fall economic statement just a few weeks ago before we were all home for the week of Remembrance Day in our respective ridings.
Many of my colleague from all parties have spoken about this, but this comes at a time of great struggle for constituents in Cowichan—Malahat—Langford. Overwhelmingly, the correspondence I get in my office regards the high cost of living and the fact that their wages are not keeping up.
We know that the increase in food prices is forcing families to make very difficult decisions at the grocery store. For that reason I am very glad to have won the unanimous support of the agriculture committee to commence a study into that and to have also had a unanimous vote here in the House of Commons acknowledging that this is a very real problem and supporting our committee's work in the weeks ahead. I, for one, am looking forward to hearing representatives of large grocery stores speak to what their companies are prepared to do to address this issue.
There is, of course, the high cost of fuel. The war in Ukraine has sent shockwaves through the energy world. We know this because Russia is a major exporter of oil and gas. Through their geopolitical manoeuvring and attempts to punish countries that are supporting the Ukrainian people in their fight for freedom and in their fight to halt Russian aggression, we have a situation where fuel prices for all sorts of fuels have spiked dramatically.
We have a very real problem of private companies involved in those industries engaging in what I would, frankly, call war profiteering. They are taking advantage of geopolitical tensions to rake in billions of dollars of profit, at a rate that we have never seen in this country before.
As for our health care system, and I think that this is the big sleeper issue in Canada that is only just now starting to get the attention it deserves, it has gotten so bad in my riding that, while it falls largely under provincial jurisdiction, constituents are now coming to me as a federal member of Parliament and pleading with me to do something.
We need to have a nationally focused amount of attention on this crisis. We need to have a Canada where people can be assured that they can have access to primary care when and where they need it. We need to find innovative solutions to help this crisis and address it. I am disappointed that the recent meeting between provincial ministers and the federal has yet to result in anything concrete to address the crisis.
Of course, while Canadians are struggling, they see a situation in which it was reported that we collected $31 billion less in corporate taxes than we should have last year. At a time when Canadians are struggling with costs to make their own family budgets work and are seeing more and more of the burden falling on their shoulders, they see Canada's largest and most profitable corporations getting away with it, through innovative tax schemes and hiding their wealth offshore to escape the burden of paying their fair share in this country. That is an issue that we absolutely must pay attention to.
In response to these big issues, my friends in the Conservative Party have focused a lot of their attention on the carbon tax. Yesterday, at the agriculture committee, I agreed with my Conservative colleagues in taking a small step to address some of the challenges that our agricultural producers are facing. We will be reporting Bill back to the House.
However, on the larger issue, I think that what is ignored by my Conservative friends is the fact that the federal carbon tax does not apply in all provinces. What they are advocating for will have no effect on residents in my province of B.C. because we, as a province, have chosen not to have an Ottawa-knows-best approach on pricing pollution.
We, as a province, have preferred to retain autonomy, so our policy is determined in the B.C. legislature in Victoria under the good and sound guidance of the B.C. NDP government. It allows our province to basically take that revenue and distribute it in ways that it sees fit because we, as a province, do not think that Ottawa should have control over that policy, so we, as a province, have decided to retain autonomy.
The Conservatives' fixation on the carbon tax does not take into account the fact that the inflationary pressures we see in the world are the result of things that are largely beyond the control of Canada as a country. In the United Kingdom, the Labour opposition is blaming a Conservative government for the same thing Conservatives in Canada are blaming a Liberal government for. This is a problem we see in many of the G7 countries. It is not limited to one side of the political spectrum or the other.
Again, if one is going to talk about inflationary pressures and completely ignore the massive profits oil and gas companies are making, one is doing a disservice to one's constituents. One is not addressing the elephant in the room here, which is that corporations are using inflation to hide and to pad the massive profits they are making. We need to have a serious conversation about that.
If we truly want to help Canadians with the unexpected costs that come with heating their homes and fuelling their vehicles, we need to develop policies to get them off fossil fuels. It has always been a volatile energy source. If we go back to the 1970s when OPEC, as a cartel, decided to cut production, we see what that did to North America. It has always been volatile, and as long as we remain dependent on it as an energy source, no matter what the tax policy is, we are going to suffer from that volatility. If we want to truly help Canadians, we need to encourage things such as home retrofits, and encourage programs that get them on different sources of energy.
In the meantime, if we want a policy that is effectively going to help Canadians no matter what province they live in, why do we not go with the NDP policy of removing the GST on home heating fuels? That, in fact, would benefit residents in British Columbia, unlike singly focusing on a federal carbon tax.
When I look at Bill , there are certainly a few good things. I appreciate that the Liberals are starting to see things such as a Canada recovery dividend are necessary. They are limiting it to the large financial institutions. We would like to see such a model be not only not temporary but also extended to oil and gas companies and to the big box stores. This is about putting fairness into the system because right now the free market, the so-called free market, is largely failing Canadians. The free market is trying its best, but the wages are not keeping up with rising costs.
One thing members have not yet mentioned either is that there is a critical mineral exploration tax credit in Bill . Canada has a very troubled history with mining, and any projects that go forward need to absolutely be done in conjunction and in consultation with first nations. If we are truly going to transform our economy into the renewable energy powerhouse it should be, those critical minerals that Canada has an abundance of are going to be key to developing that kind of technology.
What I have often found with the Liberals over my seven years of being in this place is that there are a lot of good ideas but they are not fully fleshed out. They do not go as far as they could have potentially gone to make the full impact we wish they would have done.
There is a lot in Bill for the committee to consider, and I hope it takes a lot of feedback from a wide variety of witnesses. There are measures here that are building on what we, as new Democrats, have been able to force the government to do, such as doubling the GST credit, providing an interim benefit for dental care and making sure there is help for renters.
I am proud that a caucus with less than 10% of the seats in the House of Commons has been able to achieve these things. This is what I came to Ottawa to do. I came to deliver for my constituents and bring tangible results that make a difference in their lives. Through this and other measures, I will continue to do that, to make sure they are getting the full benefits and assistance they need to weather these tough times so they can come out even more prosperous on the other end.
Madam Speaker, it is truly a privilege to rise in this place and have the opportunity to speak to the fall economic statement. Before I begin, I note that I will be splitting my time with the member for .
I listened with interest to the interventions made during the debate, both yesterday and this morning, and I just want to thank my colleagues on this side of the House for speaking up for Canadians. Canadians are finding it harder and harder to make ends meet, as there is more month left at the end of the money, and they are having to make really tough choices because the and the government did not.
This piece of legislation comes at a critical time for Canadians. There is a severe cost of living crisis, which the Liberal government has done nothing to address in this statement. Instead, it continues to spend more, which continues to push the inflation rate higher, causing the fastest rise in interest rates in decades. This has had devastating consequences for Canadians. In the fall economic statement, the Liberals are predicting that economic growth will be 0.7% lower next year and that Canada's national debt will reach $1.177 trillion.
Home prices have doubled since 2015. The increase in the housing prices and skyrocketing inflation and interest rates have put the dream of home ownership out of reach for millions of Canadians. Paycheques no longer go as far due to just inflation. Nearly 50% of Canadians are $200 away from insolvency, and the price of groceries, gas and home heating just keeps going up.
While the made the difficult decision to cut Disney+, too many Canadians are being forced to cut their diets. Food bank usage is at an all-time high. With the price of groceries up by almost 11%, moms are adding water to their children's milk, and seniors cannot afford to heat their homes. Canadians are getting closer to the edge, and the Liberal government just keeps pushing them further. The government does not understand how to assist Canadians.
Over the past seven years under the government, it has only gone from bad to worse. While believing that budgets will balance themselves and promising to budget from the heart out with no more than $10 billion in deficits, the has spent more than all previous prime ministers combined, running the most expensive government in Canadian history.
Now I know the government likes to use the pandemic for cover on spending issues, but 40% of all new government spending measures have nothing to do with COVID. That is over $200 billion. By next year, the cost to pay just the interest rate on our national debt will be equal to the amount being spent on the Canada health transfer.
Canadians need relief now, not more empty promises from the Liberal government. With over $170,000 being added to the deficit every minute, every minute counts.
That is why we called on the government to do two things: stop the taxes and stop the spending. The government could have, and indeed should have, committed to cancelling any planned tax hikes, including the tripling of the carbon tax. This would keep more money in the pockets of Canadians as they plan for their futures. Additionally, the government should have cut its wasteful spending and required ministers to find an equivalent savings to any new spending put forward. These are two simple initiatives that would have an immediate impact on helping Canadians.
Businesses are also feeling the impacts and struggling. While at home in my riding this past week, I had the pleasure of meeting with representatives from the Prairie Sky, Rosetown and Humboldt chambers of commerce. It was the first time that we were able to meet face to face. I would like to thank the executive directors and chamber boards for taking the time to meet with me.
While our conversations covered a wide range of topics, a common theme was how difficult the past two and a half years have been for local businesses, especially independent retailers. As I mentioned yesterday, I also heard about how lockdowns have driven customers to larger retailers and online shopping sites like Amazon. I heard how lockdowns have had not only a devastating impact on independent retailers, but a negative impact on supply chains.
The impact of inflation was top of mind for most, whether they were business owners or municipal representatives. For business owners, not only is inflation cutting into the bottom line of their customers, but it is also increasing costs for businesses, making it difficult for them to survive let alone thrive. In addition to the federal-government caused inflation, the recent hike in interest rates by the Bank of Canada is having a big impact on individuals and businesses alike. The likelihood of renewing loans and mortgages at rates more than double what they are currently paying is bringing solvency into doubt for both.
Added to this is the mess the government has made of the Department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship. Many business owners have told me that they are desperate for workers in certain industries but that it takes far too long for qualified people to get through the system. While the government loves to make grand announcements, citizens, business owners and newly arrived immigrants are telling me the system is broken.
The Liberals' mismanagement knows no bounds. The pattern of the government over the years has been to completely disregard the needs of Canadians and a consistent inability to manage Canada's finances.
Inflation is not just hurting individuals and businesses. One mayor told me that inflation is causing municipal projects to run 25% to 40% over budget, forcing municipalities to make cuts and raise taxes in order to balance their budgets. I have also heard from many municipal leaders in recent weeks that they may be forced to cover the back pay for the RCMP following the conclusion of the force's collective bargaining agreement with the federal government. If municipalities are forced to cover the back pay of an agreement they had no say in negotiating, this will put more pressure on municipal budgets. This means individuals and businesses would have to pay more for less from their municipal governments.
Canadians, small and medium-sized business owners and municipalities need a Conservative government that will put an end to the 's inflationary spending, which is driving up the cost of everything. Under the leadership of the member for , our Conservative caucus has been working to develop policies that will address the issues facing our country.
The Conservatives have a plan to make life more affordable for Canadians. Instead of printing more cash and fuelling the inflation crisis, we will create more of what cash buys: more homes, more gas, more food and more resources here at home. By increasing the supply of goods, we can fight the rising cost of living. We will make energy more affordable by repealing the anti-energy legislation of the Liberal government, and we will cut corporate welfare and get rid of the carbon tax.
To fight climate change, we will make alternative energy cheaper rather than making Canadian energy more expensive. We will ensure that paycheques go further. We will reform the tax and benefits system to make sure that when a Canadian works an extra hour, takes an extra shift or earns an extra bonus, they are better off and will keep more of their dollars in their pockets.
The Conservatives will continue to fight for Canadians across the country. We will continue to hold the government to account for its inflationary spending, and we will continue to put forward policies that put Canadians first before Liberal insiders and their friends.
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for her excellent speech.
I will start with a number: $1,000. That is how much one mom just paid to fill her heating oil tank for the first time this season. That $1,000 was a big surprise, a huge amount of money for her.
She wrote to me this morning to say that she hopes the winter will not be too harsh, because, at $1,000 a pop, she cannot afford to fill the tank four times, as she usually does every year.
This is not about comparing ourselves to other countries or to what we had in the past. This is not about saying Canada is doing well. This is about making sure everyone knows about this mother, who wrote to me today to say that her bill was $1,000 and that she will probably have to fork out that much cash at least three more times this season if the winter is mild, or maybe five times if the winter is severe.
This mother is desperate. She is also desperate because of the rising price of food. Groceries now cost 11.4% more than last year. That is the overall price of groceries, but looking more closely at the price of meat and essential items, for example, we can see that the price of pasta, which is a staple among students, has increased by 30%. The go-to food for students who do not have much money has just increased by 30%.
That is the reality facing families, students and this mother, who will have to choose between hamburger, pork chops and bologna to feed her family and make sure her children get enough protein. That is the reality.
The reality is also the ever-increasing price of gas. People work and need to drive their car, especially in the regions. Why? Because there is no public transit in the regions. They cannot go to work if they do not have a car. In the regions, jobs are often far from home. People absolutely need a car to get around.
Also, there is winter in Quebec, as in many other regions of Canada. Winter is hard. There are snowstorms, but people still have to drive to work. Their vehicles are a little bigger. They have trucks or SUVs. Unfortunately, the price of gas is rising, and we are hearing more and more from people who wonder how they will be able to get to work. Since they have to get to work, they must make other choices and cut into their food budget. That brings us back to our mother's heartbreaking choice between buying hamburger or bologna to feed her children. With the money that is left after she pays for gas to get to and from work, she will have no other choice but to buy bologna. That is the reality in Canada today.
We asked the government to do something to help families, or at least not to make things worse for them, by January 1. In the economic statement, we were expecting the government to take action and do something, as the hon. member for requested. We had two very simple requests, starting with the cancellation of the tax increases that are to come into effect on January 1.
The Liberals will say that increasing employment insurance and Canada pension plan contributions is not a tax increase. The result is the same. It is exactly the same thing: The mother I was talking about, who was already having to make difficult choices to pay for heating and groceries, will have a smaller paycheque. She has just been told that on top of all her problems, she will now have a smaller paycheque to pay for everything that costs more.
We expected the Liberals to hear that mother's message instead of including more inflationary spending in the economic statement. It seems that the Liberals have not heard the message, since that mother’s paycheque will unfortunately get smaller as of January 1.
Things will be even worse in some parts of Canada, since several provinces will see an increase in the carbon tax. This will cause this family even more hardship, since absolutely everything will be even more expensive. By tripling the carbon tax, the government is tripling costs for families, who will have less money to pay for gas, food and rent. That is our current reality.
We expected the government to say that it understands that the situation is difficult, that interest rates and food prices are the highest they have been in 40 years, and that it would give Canadians a break.
Well, no, they did not hear the message. When we ask the government ministers questions day after day in question period, they tell us all sorts of things. They tell us that this is a global crisis and that Canada is doing a little better than other countries, and they come up with every imaginable excuse. We are told, for example, that the war in Ukraine is responsible for all this, but we never hear a minister take responsibility for the situation. The government, however, must also look at itself in the mirror and ask what it did to get us where we are today.
To understand this, we have to go back to the election of the Liberal government in 2015. I remember very well that the campaigned on a promise that there would be three tiny deficits, $10 billion the first year, $10 billion the second year and $6 billion the third year, and that we would then return to a balanced budget. Wow. I cannot say that he lied, but I can certainly say that he misled Canadians.
In reality, the deficits were not tiny; on the contrary, they skyrocketed. We are talking about a $100-billion inflationary deficit, even before COVID-19. That is not surprising, given that the Prime Minister stated in his maiden speech that it was the right time to borrow, since interest rates would remain low for decades. At the time, interest rates were 0.5%, 0.25% or 0.75%. The interest rates were very low. The 's crystal ball showed him that it was not a problem, he could borrow money and that was the time to do it.
However, members of the House, mainly members of the official opposition, had warned the government that interest rates would go up and make things difficult for families. The government chose to close its eyes and turn a deaf ear. It did not listen and continued to borrow money.
Then the unexpected happened, COVID-19, and another $500 billion was added to the deficit. We would have expected that money to be spent on measures to help Canadians get through the COVID-19 pandemic. However, of that $500 billion, $200 billion was spent on new programs and expenditures that had absolutely nothing to do with COVID-19.
The 's fall economic statement was literally a failure on all counts. We cannot support measures that will just add to the deficit when the government has received $40 billion in new revenue from taxpayers' pockets. Think about the mother I mentioned at the beginning of my speech, who must make difficult choices to pay for her heating and groceries and to get to work.
Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for .
I am thankful for the opportunity to take part in today's debate on Bill , which introduces measures in the 2022 fall economic statement and key initiatives from budget 2022. The 2022 fall economic statement includes a series of new targeted measures that would help Canada weather the coming global economic slowdown and thrive in the years ahead. They are measures that would deliver good-paying jobs by seizing the opportunities of the net-zero economy, by attracting new private investment and by providing key resources to the world.
The next few years offer a historic opportunity for Canada. It is a time when we can continue building an economy that works for everyone and create the good middle-class jobs that Canadians will count on for generations to come. However, if we are to capitalize on the opportunities before us in the years to come, we need to step up and make more smart investments today.
Today, I would like to speak to a measure in the 2022 fall economic statement and Bill that would grow Canada's economy, create opportunities for workers and continue to address Canada's challenge with investment and productivity that has stretched back for decades.
Our government knows we are at a pivotal moment. The climate crisis is more urgent than ever. Canada is already experiencing an increase in heat waves, wildfires and heavy storms. These impacts and the economic and health repercussions that come with them will continue to accelerate if we do not act now.
We know that climate change is real and the path forward is clear. To protect our planet and build a stronger economy, we must do even more on climate action. Over the past six years, the federal government has taken important steps to position Canada at the forefront of the fight against climate change while also working to seize the economic opportunities provided by the global transition to net zero.
Canada's commitment to putting a price on pollution has provided an incentive for businesses and households to pollute less, conserve energy and invest in low-carbon technologies and services. However, it is clear that Canada will need to do even more to secure our competitive advantage and continue creating opportunities for Canadian workers. This challenge has become even more pressing with the recent passage in the United States of the Inflation Reduction Act, the IRA.
Since 2015, the government has been making foundational investments in clean technology, which the U.S. is doing now with the IRA. We welcome the U.S. legislation as it will play an important, pivotal role in the global fight against climate change and will further accelerate the building of sustainable North American supply chains. More importantly, the IRA's build North American policy for critical minerals and electric vehicle tax credits are also good news for Canadian workers and Canadian companies.
While the IRA will undoubtedly accelerate the ongoing transition to a net-zero North American economy, it also offers enormous financial supports to firms that locate their production in the United States, from electric vehicle battery production, to hydrogen, to biofuels and beyond. Without new measures to keep pace with the IRA, Canada risks being left behind.
As a first step in Canada's response, the government is launching the Canada growth fund, which will help to attract billions of dollars in new private capital to create good-paying jobs and support Canada's economic transformation, as well as bringing forward two new measures to support the adoption of clean technology across Canada. Today's legislation would authorize the to requisition up to $2 billion from the consolidated revenue fund in order to provide an initial capitalization to the Canada growth fund. The legislation would enable the minister to purchase non-voting shares in the corporation in exchange for capital.
Canada's road to achieving our climate targets, creating and maintaining good-paying jobs and building a net-zero economy that works for everyone will require the transformation of our industrial base, specifically the commercialization and deployment of low-carbon technologies and resources and the continued growth of clean technology businesses across Canada.
We have an opportunity to lead the way on the road to net zero and ensure that Canadian workers can benefit from good jobs for decades to come. However, this will require investment on a scale that government alone cannot provide. There are trillions of dollars in private capital waiting to be spent on creating the good jobs and prosperity for workers that a net-zero economy will bring. Canada is competing with other countries to attract the private investment we need.
To succeed, Canada needs to address two challenges. First, we need to incentivize companies to take risks and invest in cutting-edge technology in Canada. Second, we need to keep pace with a growing list of jurisdictions that are using public financing to attract private capital and create the jobs and prosperity for workers that accompany it, from the United States to the European Union and beyond.
In budget 2022, we announced the government's intention to create a Canada growth fund that will help attract private capital to invest in building a thriving, sustainable Canadian economy with thousands of new, good-paying jobs. It will also help Canada keep pace with a growing list of jurisdictions that are using innovative public funding tools to attract the significant private capital required to accelerate the deployment of technologies required to decarbonize and grow their economies.
Since Canada's economic prosperity has traditionally been built on natural resources and other emissions-intensive industries, a substantial transformation of our industrial base will be required to meet our climate targets and ensure long-term prosperity for Canadians and the Canadian economy.
Canada needs to build the technology, infrastructure and businesses to reduce our carbon reliance, but this will not occur without rapidly increasing and then sustaining private investment in activities and sectors that will strengthen Canada's position as a leading low-carbon economy.
Today, while companies and investors are aware of opportunities to commercialize and deploy emissions-reduction technologies, they are often restrained due to investment risks that are frequently associated with these investment opportunities. That is why the fund is designed to invest in a manner that mitigates the risks that currently limit private investment and unlock the domestic and foreign capital that Canada needs now.
The 2022 fall economic statement outlines the design, operation and investment strategy of the growth fund. The mandate of the growth fund will be to make investments that attract substantial private sector investment in Canadian businesses and projects to help seize the opportunities provided by a net-zero economy.
This includes investments that will help reduce emissions and achieve Canada's climate targets; accelerate the deployment of key technologies, such as low-carbon hydrogen and carbon capture, utilization and storage; scale up companies that will create jobs, drive productivity and clean growth, and encourage the retention of intellectual property in Canada; and capitalize on Canada's abundance of natural resources and strengthen critical supply chains to secure Canada's future economic and environmental well-being.
In the challenging economic landscape that Canada and the world are contending with, there is no country better placed than Canada to weather the coming global economic slowdown. The measures in Bill , such as the Canada growth fund, will build on actions the government has taken to make sure that Canadians and the Canadian economy come through this challenging economic period as quickly as possible, and that we are ready to thrive when we do.
I encourage all members of the House to support this legislation.
Mr. Speaker, it is a true honour for me to rise in the House today to speak to the fall economic statement, Bill , on behalf of the citizens of my riding of Davenport.
I would remind those who may be watching the speech that the fall economic statement provides insight into Canada's economic outlook and outlines the government's intentions moving forward. The fall economic statement also builds on the fiscal and economic work already under way in Canada to make life more affordable for Canadians, to build a stronger economy and to prepare for what lies ahead.
It is also always good to take stock of what the current context is. We have high inflation due to two and a half years of historic turmoil, including the after-effects of a pandemic, the current destabilizing geopolitical situation as a result of Russia's illegal invasion of Ukraine, the energy crisis and the impacts of climate change, to name just a few.
I am very proud of how the federal government stepped up to support Canadians during the pandemic. We were generous with our support. Some say it was too generous, but I feel very good about the decisions we made. I am also very supportive of the investments and additional supports to Canadians that we have been making over the last year. National child care is now in the process of being implemented, and my home province of Ontario and the city I live in, Toronto, will see child care costs reduced by 50% in December of this year, which is huge for families not only in Davenport but right across this country. We have seen an increase of 10% in the OAS for seniors over 75; and we have seen the doubling of the Canada student grant for post-secondary students, among many other targeted supportive measures.
More recently, as members will know, we have doubled the GST credit for the next six months, and 11 million Canadians received some additional funding this last Friday. We also have the dental care benefit and the housing benefit winding its way through the Senate. As well, we have announced that students who have Canada student loans will not need to start repaying their loans until they have earned $40,000, which is up from $25,000.
All these measures will go a long way toward helping Canadians who are struggling with the rising cost of living. I hear from Davenport residents every day, and they worry about the prices. They are appreciative of the support the federal government is giving, but they are also hoping the prices come down in the near future.
The fall economic statement puts forward a number of additional measures to support Canadians and to grow our economy, one that works for everyone. I wish I had more time, but I will be able to cover only two or three key measures, so I am going to cover immigration, business investment incentives and growing the clean, green energy economy in Canada.
A couple of weeks ago, the announced new immigration levels for Canada that would see us move to invite 500,000 new immigrants to Canada by 2025. This is going to help with the persistent labour shortages that we continue to have, especially in health care, construction and manufacturing. It will also help with ensuring that we continue to have a strong welfare system.
As was indicated to me, about 10 years ago we had one retiree for every seven workers in Canada, and now it is down to one retiree for every three workers. Therefore, if we want to continue to have a strong social welfare system, we have to make sure we are replacing our workforce.
The fall economic statement, more specifically, is going to increase the money to the immigration system, which will increase the capacity to ensure that applications are processed as quickly as possible and that backlogs are eliminated. It is also going to invest in the systems we need to help make sure we bring the talent and skills we need. The details are that the federal government has committed $1.6 billion over six years for the processing and settlement of new permanent residents, and then an additional $50 million in 2022-23 to address the ongoing application backlogs that I can assure members so many of our offices have. It is very frustrating to try to deal with them, but it is wonderful that we continue to put additional resources towards addressing this issue.
I would note as well that we are bringing in a historic number of immigrants and refugees. We should be very proud that over the last three years Canada has settled the highest number of refugees in the world. That's not the highest number per capita, but the highest number of refugees in the world for each of the last three years. It is something I am very proud of. We believe that diversity truly is a strength. We truly believe the increased diversity makes us a stronger and better country.
The next thing I want to talk about is something I worry a lot about. It is the lack of business investment by our businesses in Canada. I am sad to say that business investment in Canada is about half of what it is in the United States. I was reading a few reports online. C.D. Howe put out a report recently and I agree with a number of the things it says. One of the things it says is that business investment is so weak that the labour force is falling and the implications for incomes and competitiveness are ominous. Basically, it reaffirms the fact that business investment is very weak in Canada, which has huge implications for our competitiveness, both today and tomorrow.
Over the last 10 years, when we have had historically low interest rates, our businesses in general have not invested in research or innovation or in increasing wages. Therefore, the government needs to step in and take some action. One of the key things we are doing, which we are introducing in the fall economic statement, is to introduce a corporate-level 2% tax rate that would apply to all share buybacks by public corporations in Canada. This is a similar measure to the one that was introduced in the United States.
It is estimated that this measure would increase federal revenues by $2.1 billion over five years, while also encouraging corporations to reinvest their profits in workers, in innovation and in their own businesses in terms of growth. I believe this is a great first step. Far more needs to be done to ensure competitiveness in Canada, and there are a number of additional measures that we are looking at and considering as we run up to federal budget 2023. Our future economic prosperity depends on our getting this right.
The next thing I want to talk a bit about is climate change and growing—
Mr. Speaker, I have lots more to say, but I know I only have less than three minutes left.
The next thing I want to point out in the fall economic statement is because the residents of Davenport are very passionate climate activists. They really feel very strongly that we need to move as aggressively and urgently as possible toward meeting our net zero by 2050 targets, so the fact that there are some measures in the fall economic statement that will accelerate decarbonizing our economy and meeting our climate change goals, I think, is welcome news to them.
We were all alarmed when we heard the Secretary-General of the UN, Antonio Guterres, say this:
And the clock is ticking.
We are in the fight of our lives.
Greenhouse gas emissions keep growing.
Global temperatures keep rising.
And our planet is fast approaching tipping points that will make climate chaos irreversible.
It is incumbent on all of us to take as many measures as possible, so I am pleased to say that the fall economic statement proposes major investment tax credits for clean technology and clean hydrogen, which will make it more attractive for businesses in Canada to invest in technology and to produce the energy that will help to power a net-zero global economy.
The fall economic statement 2022 proposes a refundable tax credit equal to 30% of the capital cost of investments in the following: electricity generation systems, stationary electricity storage systems, low-carbon heat equipment, industrial zero-emission vehicles and related charging or refuelling equipment, among other things. I want to note that the Department of Finance is going to consult on additional eligible technologies. We, of course, are introducing these measures not only because we want to meet our net-zero target by 2050, but also in response to the adoption of the inflation reduction act in the United States, to ensure that we remain competitive in both the current and the future economy.
Given the fact that I have only less than a minute left, I will mention two other small measures, but I think they are significant ones that are going to be helpful to individuals, to all Canadians across the country.
The first is the elimination of interest on Canada student loans and Canada apprenticeship loans. Anything we can do to help students start their lives without debt or with as minimal debt as possible is going to be helpful.
The second is the new, quarterly Canada workers benefit, which is $4 billion over six years. We are going to be issuing that Canada workers benefit quarterly, which will be helpful and put money into the pockets of low-income Canadians sooner rather than later.
I am thankful for the opportunity to speak to the fall economic statement on behalf of the residents of Davenport. I would urge my colleagues on the other side to support this bill as expeditiously as possible.
Mr. Speaker, I will begin by saying that I am sharing my time with my colleague from .
I rise today to speak to Bill , on the 2022 fall economic statement. Unfortunately, this bill seems more impressive in form than in substance. Bill C‑32 contains maybe 25 various tax measures and a dozen or so non-tax measures. It may seem like a lot at first glance, but these are in fact two kinds of measures. Some are just minor amendments, like the ones this Parliament adopts on a regular basis, while others were already announced in the spring budget but had not been incorporated into the first budget implementation bill in June, Bill . In cooking we call that leftovers.
Simply put, like the economic statement of November 3, Bill C‑32 does not include any measures to address the new economic reality brought on by the high cost of living and a possible recession. This is a completely missed opportunity for the federal government. This bill will not exactly go down in history and its lack of vision does not deserve much praise either.
However, it does not contain anything “harmful” enough to warrant opposing it or trying to block it. The government often tends to bury harmful measures in its omnibus budget implementation bills, hoping they will go unnoticed, but that is not the case here. The bill contains no surprises, either good or bad.
As my colleagues can see, I am trying very hard to show some good faith. Bill C‑32 contains some worthwhile measures, but they were already announced in the last budget. I will go over them briefly.
An anti-flipping tax has been implemented to limit real estate speculation. That is a good thing. A multi-generational home renovation tax credit has also been created for those who are renovating their home to accommodate an aging or disabled parent. The Bloc has been calling for such a measure since 2015, as have many seniors' groups that have contacted me many times about this issue. I commend the government for introducing it.
There is also a first-time homebuyer tax credit to cover a portion of the closing costs involved in buying a home, such as notary fees and the transfer tax. It is hard to be against apple pie. There is also a temporary surtax and a permanent increase to the tax rate for banks and financial institutions, as well as the elimination of interest on student loans outside Quebec. Quebec has its own system, so it will receive an unconditional transfer equivalent to the amount Quebeckers would have received had they participated in the federal program.
In addition, a tax measure that supports oil extraction has been eliminated. It is just one drop in the bucket of subsidies, but it is a start. A tax measure is being implemented to promote mining development in the area of the critical minerals that are needed for the energy transition. In addition, assistance can be provided to a particular government. That is interesting. A total of $7 billion to $14 billion will be available for all foreign countries, when previously, it was $2.5 billion to $5 billion. While we are still far from the United Nations goal of 0.07% of gross GDP, the government is enhancing Canada's international aid, something the Bloc has been calling for for some time. As the status of women critic, I am regularly reminded that Canada can and must do more and better to safeguard the health of women and girls internationally.
Bill C‑32 sidesteps the big challenges facing our society, but there is nothing bad in it. It puts forward a few measures and does some legislative housekeeping that was necessary under the circumstances.
As such, I will reiterate, half-heartedly, what other Bloc members have said: We will vote in favour of Bill C‑32 even though the economic statement was disappointing. We take issue with an economic update that mentions the inflation problem 115 times but offers no additional support to vulnerable people and no new solutions despite the fact that a recession is expected to hit in 2023. The government seems to think everything will work out with an “abracadabra” and a wave of its magic wand.
Quebeckers concerned about the high cost of living will find little comfort in this economic update. They will have to make do with what is basically the next step in the implementation of last spring's budget, even though the Bloc Québécois did ask the government to focus on its fundamental responsibilities toward vulnerable people.
For the rest of my speech, I will therefore focus on the lack of increased health transfers, the lack of adequate support for people aged 65 and over, and the lack of much-needed genuine reform to EI, which, I should note, is the best stabilizer in times of economic difficulty. Sadly, the government dismissed our three requests, even though they made perfect sense. We can only denounce this as a missed opportunity to help Quebeckers deal with the tough times that they are already going through or may face in the months to come.
First, the Bloc Québécois asked the federal government to agree to the unanimous request of Quebec and the provinces to increase health transfers immediately, permanently and unconditionally. ER doctors are warning that our hospitals have reached breaking point, but the federal government is not acting. It clearly prefers its strategy of prolonging the health funding crisis in the hope of breaking the provinces' united front in order to convince them to water down their funding demand. It is the old tactic of divide and conquer.
I want to remind my colleagues that yesterday, at the Standing Committee on the Status of Women, on which I sit, during our study on the mental health of women and girls, the ministers of and of acknowledged that the national action plan concept, which seeks to impose national standards, was slowing down the process. Meanwhile, the women and girls who are suffering are being held hostage. The government's feminist posturing must end.
Second, people between the ages of 65 and 74 continue to be denied the increase to old age security, which they need more than ever before. Seniors live on fixed incomes, so they cannot deal with such a sharp rise in the cost of living in real time. They are the people most likely to have to make tough choices at the grocery store or the pharmacy, yet the government continues to penalize those who are less well-off and who would like to work more without losing their benefits. Unlike the federal government, inflation does not discriminate against seniors based on their age.
Currently, Canada's income replacement rate, meaning the percentage of income that a senior retains at retirement, is one of the lowest in the OECD. We cannot say that the government is treating seniors with dignity.
There is also the increase to old age security, which should prevent demographic changes from significantly slowing economic activity. Contrary to what the government says, starving seniors aged 65 to 75 will not encourage them to remain employed. That is done by no longer penalizing them when they work.
Not a day goes by that I do not receive a message from citizens about this. This morning, I again received comments from important seniors' groups such as AQDR and FADOQ, and they can be summarized in one word: disappointment. I do not even want to talk about the brilliant decision-makers who want to delay the pension process for 10% of seniors.
Third, let us remind the government that employment insurance is an excellent economic stabilizer in the event of a recession. While more and more analysts fear the possibility of a recession in 2023, the Canadian government seems to be backtracking on the comprehensive employment insurance reform that they promised last summer.
Essentially, the system has been dismantled over the years. Currently, six of 10 workers who lose their jobs do not qualify for EI. That is significant, it is a majority, it is 60%. Seven years after the government promised reform, time is running out. We must avoid being forced to improvise a new CERB to offset the shortcomings of the system if a recession hits.
During the pandemic, we saw that improvised programs cost a lot more and are much less effective. Above all, the government's financial forecasts show that it does not anticipate many more claims. In fact, the government is forecasting a surplus of $25 billion in the employment insurance fund by 2028, money that will go to the consolidated fund rather than improve the system's coverage. As for the 26 weeks of sick leave, the measure was in Bill to update budget 2021, passed 18 months ago, even before the last elections. All that is missing is the government decree to implement it, but those who are sick are still waiting.
One last important thing: Last weekend, I attended the Musicophonie benefit concert for a foundation in our area, the fondation Louis-Philippe Janvier, which helps young adults suffering from cancer. I was told that the organization does indeed have to make up for the government's lack of financial support. That adds to the unimaginable stress on those who are sick, who should instead be focusing on healing with dignity. Even 26 weeks is inhumane. A person cannot recover properly in that time frame.
In closing, the government is acknowledging the rising cost of living without doing anything about it. It is warning of difficult times ahead this winter without providing a way to get through them. It makes some grim economic predictions without ever considering any of the opposition's proposals as to how to prepare ourselves.
As a final point, I want to talk about supply chains. We learned how fragile they are during the pandemic. Last spring's budget document mentioned the problem 71 times. The budget update mentioned it another 45 times. Neither one includes any measures to tackle the problem, leaving business owners in limbo. The new Liberal-Conservative finance minister missed the opportunity to send a clear message of leadership and instead raised fears about potential austerity. The government is rehashing past measures, implementing what it already announced in the April budget, but there is no indication that it has a clear sense of direction, leaving the people who really need it out in the cold.
For those who lose their jobs, we need EI reform. For those who are sick, we need to increase health transfers. For our seniors, we need to give them more money so they can age with dignity.
Mr. Speaker, as always, you seem jubilant and you are in shape, so I will be pleased to talk to you about health.
As my colleague pointed out with respect to implementing the economic statement, we do not find the required measures in this bill to counter the reality that affects us today, that being inflation. Members can rest assured; I will not take the same direction as my Conservative colleagues. I do not think that the best way to fight inflation is to feed the gluttons in the oil and gas industry.
As my colleague demonstrated earlier, there are no measures to support seniors, either. This is very disappointing. We have been asking for that for many years now, almost three years.
I would say that the most glaring omission in the economic statement is the increase in health transfers. Whoever watched question period yesterday could see the 's usual attitude when we spoke of health transfers, one that I might describe as “stubborn and arrogant”. This makes me want to dedicate all of my speaking time to these health transfers we keep hearing about.
I do not want to impugn the government's motives, but I know very well that, through their action, what the Liberals want in the coming weeks is to break the common front that has formed between the provinces in order to reach a cut-rate agreement. My colleague pointed that out earlier. However, the situation will not disappear that easily. The current situation is putting enormous pressure on our health systems. Mandatory overtime for nurses and population aging are but two of the factors that are putting pressure on the system.
I would first like to go back to why we have been making this request for health transfers for such a long time. Let us remember that this involves $28 billion, which would increase the government's share from 22% to 35%. If we put that into perspective, we know that when the health care system was first created in the early 1960s, for every dollar invested in health, 50¢ came from the federal government and 50¢ from the provincial government. What an interesting system. Health costs were divided fifty-fifty. That is no longer the case today. In Quebec, the government's share is barely 22%.
The pandemic has also played a major role in the drastic rise of health care costs, so much so that everyone now agrees that major federal reinvestments are needed. The Quebec National Assembly passed a unanimous motion in this regard. The circumstances are clear: there are needs. Everyone, except perhaps the Liberal Party, agrees that the federal government is not doing its part.
Now let me try to explain those economic circumstances. I have no choice but to revisit something that is quite annoying to the government and federalists in general, namely the fiscal imbalance. I am not sure if members recall the Séguin report. I am not talking about the guy who has a goat or about Richard Séguin, the singer; I am talking about Yves Séguin, who was a Liberal finance minister. He was not a sovereignist, nor was he trying to embarrass Canada. He simply gave a presentation on Quebec’s fiscal situation in relation to the federal government.
As the Séguin report so well said, the definition of fiscal imbalance, according to Yves Séguin, is as follows: the provinces’ spending structure is such that expenditures grow faster than the economy, while those of the federal government grow at roughly the same pace. Furthermore, when it wants to revise its spending, the federal government can simply act unilaterally by cutting transfers to the provinces with no other political consequences for itself.
I will come back to this often. We should keep in mind what he said: with no other political consequences for itself.
The federation’s major problem is that the federal government can strangle the provinces by cutting its transfer payments, and it never pays the price for that. Allow me to demonstrate this. We have seen the same thing consistently for 20 years, according to reports from the Conference Board of Canada and the Parliamentary Budget Officer, not just the Séguin report: The federal government rakes in surpluses, and it can balance its finances on the backs of the provinces without paying a price for it.
A 2013-14 Conference Board of Canada report stated that if nothing were to be done in subsequent years, which is what happened, the combined deficit of the provinces could reach $171 billion in 2034, while the federal government could amass surpluses.
This analysis predates the pandemic, of course, but it does demonstrate that even a neutral organization like the Conference Board of Canada realizes that the fiscal imbalance does exist. The Parliamentary Budget Officer also reported that over the next 25 years, Quebec's revenues will probably be 0.6% less than its spending, while the federal government's revenues will increase rather than decrease.
This does not come from a member trying to provoke the government, but from neutral entities. Canada has a fiscal imbalance problem, and it is usually addressed by cutting transfer payments.
That brings me to our friend, the . He has come out in the last two weeks saying that he is acting in good faith. I would like to see if my colleagues think the Minister of Health is acting in good faith in making these statements. When talking about unconditional transfers, he said, and I am paraphrasing, that all they want is a cheque made out to their finance minister with no strings attached. That is not a plan.
As for sending a cheque to the provinces without a plan, with no strings attached, is it the role of the federal government to establish a health plan? I would simply like to point out that the provinces have exclusive jurisdiction over health, with the exception of military hospitals, quarantines, indigenous health and drug approvals. The provinces have exclusive jurisdiction over everything else. Why would the federal government want to come up with a plan of its own?
In my view, the plan should come from the people who have expertise in this field. Who has expertise in health care? It is the people who work in the system, people from within the sector. The Minister of Health has said we need to let health professionals do their jobs. I find that interesting. Perhaps we also need to listen to what they are saying. I do not know if my colleagues recall, but with my colleague's help, we got all the stakeholders in the health sector together: physicians' associations, medical specialists, people who work in public health and the major unions. We brought together all kinds of health care personnel. They came here to Ottawa and told the government that it needs to increase transfers. Why will the not listen to those individuals?
The Minister of Health said we must work together to ensure that patients get the care they need, where and when they need it. I will take the minister at his word. If he wants us to work together, why does he refuse to do what we have been asking of him all along, which is to hold a health summit?
The minister also talks about old ways of doing things. However, the current health care crisis shows that the old ways of doing things do not work. When he talks about old ways of doing things, do members know what it makes me think of? It makes me think of the Liberal government's ongoing cuts. In 1997 and 1998, the government cut $2.5 billion a year in provincial health transfers. Who paid the price at the time? It was Lucien Bouchard. The same thing was done when a Liberal government was in office. Who paid the price? The Couillard government had to bring in austerity measures.
What is worse, the Minister of Health is talking about effectiveness and results. He basically said that before we can talk about money, we need to agree on the objectives. I can give him objectives for immigration, passports, insurance and old age security. There are 70,000 new retirees who are waiting for their cheques. Worse still, the Liberals implemented a dental cheque scheme that is going to be twice as hard for Quebeckers to access.
The culmination of this bad faith is the futile debate. The told us that this debate is futile. The day that the federal government has to invest 42% of its budget in a single budget item, then it can tell me that this debate is futile.
This means that the remaining 58% of Quebec's budget must cover everything else: education, the fight against poverty, child care, infrastructure, municipalities and support for Quebec businesses. Quebec only has 58% of its budget to cover all that. It feels that it is still not enough.
In closing, I would like to say that I had a lofty goal in life, that of making my son and my wife happy. Now, I have another goal, which is to hold the Liberal government to account for all the terrible things it is doing in the area of health care.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to recognize that I am appearing virtually and that I am very fortunate to live, work and play on the traditional territories of the Musqueam and Coast Salish peoples.
I will be sharing my time with the member for .
We live in serious times. The world continues to grapple with the economic effects of the pandemic. The Russian invasion of Ukraine rages on, costing tens of thousands of lives, and continues to distort the world economy.
Climate change continues to cause droughts and extreme weather events around the world. We saw the devastating impact of the atmospheric river in my home province of British Columbia and, more recent, the disproportionate harm witnessed in nations like Pakistan.
Inflation and rising interest rates are a challenge for millions of Canadians, for our friends, our families and our neighbours. No nation is immune to these effects and Canada is no exception. As leaders, we must be candid about the future and that is exactly what the has done in this year's fall economic statement.
Canada cannot avoid the global economic slowdown coming our way any more than we could have prevented COVID from reaching our shores once it had begun. Again, as leaders, we must be able to adapt, adjust, revise and modify accordingly.
The fall economic statement lays out a fiscal and economic road map that is targeted, practical and responsive to the current and future needs of Canadians. It takes advantage of Canada's strengths, our record-low unemployment rate, a shrinking deficit, our AAA credit rating, the lowest net debt and deficit-to-GDP ratios and the strongest growth in the G7. We have witnessed historically low unemployment rates. Just last month, the Canadian economy added over 108,000 jobs.
Due to the Government of Canada's strong fiscal position and outperforming provincial economies, we are still capable of making strategic investments, investments in programs like the Canada growth fund, which will help to attract billions of dollars in private capital to create even more well-paying jobs and support Canada's economic transformation.
This year alone, auto manufacturers have committed to billions in private investment to retool our auto sector, to produce EVs and batteries.
The Canada growth fund will help target these kinds of opportunities to attract private investment.
Ensuring Canadian businesses remain competitive is critical if we are to attract private investment and grow the economy. Building upon billions of dollars of net-zero investment since 2016, the government will implement a refundable tax credit equal to 30% of the capital cost of renewable technology. From power generating and storage systems to low-carbon heat equipment and industrial zero-emission vehicles, helping Canadian businesses go green is not just good for the environment; it makes good economic sense.
To make this transition a reality, Canada must have a steady supply of skilled workers. That is why we are continuing to invest in Canadian workers.
Starting in 2023 to 2024, the fall economic statement proposes to invest $250 million over five years to help ensure that Canadian workers can thrive in a changing global economy. These investments would include the sustainable jobs training centre that would bring unions, employers and training institutions together. The centre will target areas of high demand, such as sustainable batteries and low-carbon building, as well as help forecast future skills requirements and develop on-site learning to train 15,000 workers.
A new sustainable job stream under the union training and innovation program will support unions in leading the development of green skills training for workers in the trades. It is expected that 20,000 apprentices and journey persons will benefit from this investment.
Finally, the government will create a sustainable jobs secretariat to offer a one-stop shop for workers and employers. That will provide the most up-to-date information on federal programs, funding and services across government departments, as Canada works to build a low-carbon economy with opportunities for everyone.
Most of these policies are long-term solutions, but we know Canadians need help with affordability and housing now. That is why we are rolling out a new dental care plan, starting with children under 12, to help families save this year. The government is also doubling the GST tax credit for six months and will start issuing advance payments of the Canada workers benefit in July.
To help more Canadians buy their first home, we are doubling the first-time homebuyers' tax credit, and we have the tax-free first-home savings account. We will also help increase the supply of housing by banning foreign buyers for two years as of January 1 and by taxing underused housing to limit speculation in the housing market.
To help Canadian students, we have doubled the Canada student grant and are permanently eliminating interest on Canada student loans and apprenticeship loans. The government is committed to supporting young Canadians in the economy. That is why the fall economic statement commits over $800 million to the youth employment and skills strategy over the next three years.
Immigration is core to our identity as Canadians, while also being a key driver of Canada's economic growth. Helping Canadian businesses access the skilled workers they need now is essential to reducing the labour gap. That is why the government is investing an additional $50 million in our immigration system and hiring 1,250 new employees. These resources will help tackle backlogs and increase processing capacity, allowing for skilled newcomers to fill critical labour gaps faster.
We stand at a pivotal moment in our history, indeed, in our world history. Climate change continues to threaten the way of life for millions around the world and in Canada. The global economy is still feeling the effects of the pandemic, which is being further aggravated by Russia's ruthless invasion of Ukraine. It is in times like these that Canada has stepped forward to lead.
The future of our earth and our children depends on transitioning away from fossil fuels and toward a green economy. Canada must be a leader in sustainable technology if we are to secure the fruits of this economy. The fall economic statement builds on the billions of dollars in past investments in clean technology and is a clear commitment to ensuring Canada's global competitiveness by continuing to invest in our net-zero economy.
Having the vision to introduce and implement solution-based ideas brings progress, and Canadians elected this government to bring about progress. That is exactly what the fall economic statement would deliver.
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased today to speak to Bill , the fall economic statement implementation act, 2022.
I hope that we will pass it quickly through the House because it includes much-needed supports for Canadians during these challenging times. The last few years have not been easy. We have gone through a global pandemic. Many of us have lost loved ones. The economy shut down overnight. We witnessed horrific conditions in long-term care homes, and many of the existing divides in society were made visible, including inequalities that have gone ignored for too long.
Since March 2020, the world has changed. I know that many Canadians are struggling with illness, job loss and isolation. Frontline workers have physically risked their own lives and mental health to be there for others, domestic violence has increased and teenagers have missed a key milestone in their formative years.
Now, when everyone wants to get back to normal, we are faced with inflation and the rising cost of living. Our government will continue to be there to help Canadians and build a strong economy for the future.
Just as it seems like we may be putting the pandemic behind us, the world is facing a rise in tyranny and authoritarianism with emboldened dictators around the world acting more aggressively, triggering conflicts and egregious human rights violations. The most alarming of which is Putin's illegal invasion of Ukraine. This has shaken a world already reeling from the pandemic with supply chain disruptions; global food insecurity, which has left 50 million people in 45 countries on the brink of famine; and energy shortages, which have led to a global inflation crisis.
At the same time, the world continues to face a climate emergency with extreme weather events that have led to devastation, as we saw recently in Atlantic Canada with hurricane Fiona and, earlier this year, the rare derecho that hit parts of Ontario and Quebec, including my riding of Ottawa West—Nepean.
Canadians are resilient, but these have been trying times. Most of my constituents just want life to go back to normal. We are all exhausted, worried about our quality of life and uncertain about the future, but these are exactly the times when we all need to pull together the most. Through all of this, our Liberal government has been there, responding to keep Canadians safe and healthy and to mitigate against the worst effects of these crises.
I am not going to stand here and pretend that everything is going to be okay tomorrow. According to the fiscal update, while we will see improvements, we will likely still be battling inflation and possible economic slowdown for potentially another 18 months or more as the global economy corrects itself. There are two things we can do. First, we need to keep putting in place the building blocks for Canada to not only recover, but also prosper and lead the world in the new economy. Second, we need to ensure that those who need it most are able to make it through, and that the opportunities we create will benefit everyone.
Let us start with a few facts. One of our key economic goals during the height of the pandemic was to avoid major layoffs, business bankruptcies and high rates of unemployment coming out of it. In this, we were successful. There are 400,000 more Canadians working today than before the pandemic. We have recovered 116% of prepandemic jobs and our economy is larger than it was before.
At the same time, the fall economic statement is fiscally responsible. Canada's net debt-to-GDP ratio is the lowest in the G7. Our inflation rate is lower than the G20 average, the European average, the U.K. and the U.S. As, well, both Moody's and Standard and Poor's have confirmed Canada's AAA credit rating with a stable outlook. We are also investing in skills training, tax credits and a Canada growth fund for the new green economy, both to tackle climate change and the costs of climate-related disasters and to make sure Canada is well positioned to benefit from the economic opportunities of a net-zero economy.
However, none of this changes the fact that people are hurting right now. That is why the fall economic statement includes supports targeted specifically for those who need it most. We are doubling the GST rebate for the next six months. In fact, last week, 11 million Canadians automatically received hundreds of dollars in their bank accounts because of this.
About 4.2 million low-income working Canadians are receiving an extra $1,200 a year through the Canada workers benefit. With this fall economic statement, they will receive this four times a year instead of having to wait until tax time.
About 1.8 million low-income renters will receive a $500 top-up through the Canada housing benefit. Families with children under 12 will be eligible for up to $1,300 to cover dental care. We are also eliminating interest on all federal student and apprenticeship loans permanently. This is in addition to previous measures such as increases to the OAS and the GIS for seniors and the Canada child benefit, which have already lifted 1.3 million Canadians out of poverty, including 435,000 children and 45,000 seniors.
Also, we are addressing issues that contribute to the wage gap between women and men, including pay equity legislation, and are cutting child care fees by 50% and ultimately to $10 a day. This is putting thousands of dollars back into the pockets of Canadian families and allowing more women to stay in the workforce.
On top of that, we are making sure that in these uncertain times, vital programs such as employment insurance and the Canada pension plan will be there when Canadians need them. Let us get the facts straight. The opposition is referring to the regular annual increase to EI and CPP premiums as payroll taxes. This is misleading. Putting money away for retirement or in case people lose their jobs is not a tax. It is a safety net and it is essential.
With respect to the so-called taxes on groceries and home heating, what the opposition is talking about is the price on pollution. This is a revenue-neutral tax, which means that every single dollar is returned to Canadians in the province where it was collected. Because everybody gets the same amount back, it means the people who spend the least and need the most will get more. In Ontario, eight out of 10 Canadians are benefiting, getting more in the rebate than what they will pay. If they are seniors or students living in a one-bedroom apartment and taking public transit, they will pay far less for the price on pollution than the amount they get back. Therefore, as this so-called carbon tax goes up, the amount people get back will also go up. This will help not only the people who need it, but also the people who are doing their part in their households to fight climate change.
There are those on the other side of the House who say that a few hundred dollars here and there make no difference, so I want to talk about a young woman who called my office a few months ago. She was very embarrassed to say that she had resorted to using food banks. They only allow people a certain number of points and she had run out of points for the month. This call happened to be the day after the climate action incentive was distributed and I mentioned this to her. While she was on the phone with me she checked her bank account, and she said there was money in her account and that she could now get groceries.
The amounts that our government is providing make a real and tangible difference, and I hope all members will vote for this.
While it cannot solve all the problems in the global economy, the fall economic statement lays the groundwork for a strong recovery. This includes hundreds of additional dollars by doubling the GST/HST rebate, an additional $500 for low-income renters, $1,300 for dental care for children under 12, and an additional $300 every three months for workers under the Canada workers benefit.
We have been there for Canadians during the pandemic and we will continue to be there.
The fall economic statement not only includes vital supports for the most vulnerable Canadians during these difficult times, but also lays the groundwork for stability and future prosperity, a prosperity that we will make sure is shared by everyone. I know that after the last two years, it is very hard for many Canadians to be optimistic, but our economy is strong, our position is secure and our government has Canadians' backs.
Mr. Speaker, I will say at the outset that I am splitting my time with the fabulous member for .
We are debating the fiscal update, or the fall economic statement, and when we look at the update, it is important that we have some context for the environment it was put into. Let us go back seven years to when the government was elected.
At that time, the soon-to-be said there would be a tiny deficit, one so small that we could not even see it: a measly $10 billion that would disappear by the end of his first term. At the end of his firm term, there was $100 billion in pre-COVID deficit spending. That is literally thousands of dollars of burden that he put on the backs of Canadians. During COVID, there is no doubt there was some good money spent to support Canadians. The Conservatives supported programs like the wage subsidy, but we wanted controls on the wage subsidy to make sure multi-billion dollar corporations were not buying back shares or giving dividends at the same time they were receiving government money.
In addition to that COVID money, $200 billion, according to the 's own Parliamentary Budget Officer, went out the door in non-COVID-related dollars. That equates to $5,400 for every woman, man and child in Canada. That is $5,400 for non-COVID-related spending. For a family of four, that is $20,000.
I spend a lot of time, as I am sure all members in the House do, with Canadians when travelling. Of course, we had the unnecessary, unneeded and very expensive election, but I did have the great opportunity during that time to spend my time talking to constituent after constituent. Not one of them had an extra $20,000 in their bank account because of this excess spending, so I question the value of that money spent.
The reality of an extra $200 billion, $400 billion or $500 billion in spending is that the government does not have the money. The government has three ways of raising money. One is by going to the markets and asking for a loan, and it did not have the fiscal framework or the ability to borrow $500 billion from the markets. The second is by raising taxes. Even the current government did not have the stomach to raise taxes that much that quickly. Finally is by printing money. That is through a fancy term called quantitative easing, where the government sells bonds and buys them back itself. In reality, it has the same effect as printing money.
For the last more than 2,000 years, we know what happens in this story, from the ancient Romans to the Weimar Republic to Yugoslavia shortly after War World II to Argentina, to name just a few examples. Actually, there is one right here in Canada. There was a prime minister here by the name of Pierre Elliott Trudeau who engaged in the same type of money printing, and guess what we got. We got inflation.
There was one individual who stood up over and over again and said that we would get inflation and that we should be worried about inflation. That was the member for , who was to become the official opposition leader. He said that inflation was on the way, and I heard heckles and people saying no. In fact, I cannot believe this is not the biggest news headline every day as we sit in perhaps the biggest monetary crisis of my lifetime.
We had a deputy leader saying that there was going to be no inflation, none. The Liberals said we should not worry about it and that the real problem was deflation. Talk about getting it wrong. Holy mackerel. Then we heard the say in public, not just in the quietness of his own home, that he did not think about monetary policy. Well, that is obvious.
As we see now, inflation is out of control. The inflation numbers will be coming out again and we will see what they are, but I guarantee they will not be in the Bank of Canada's target rate of 1% to 3%. Inflation is not just the numbers, it is not just the spreadsheets, it is not just the statistics; it is having a real impact on the lives of Canadian.
Parties on the other side of the spectrum like to say that the Conservatives are heartless. What is heartless is releasing a fall economic statement in the throes of one of the greatest affordability crises, with high inflation rates, and not addressing it. That means we will continue to see record use of food banks. In one month alone, in this great country that I love so much, 1.5 million Canadians went to food banks, a third of which were children. Five hundred thousand children in our great land were forced to go to a food bank, because the does not think about monetary policy. He should think again. Canadians are really struggling. Twenty per cent more than ever before are using food banks because the Liberals have failed Canadians over and over again.
What was the response in the fall economic statement to the affordability crisis, such as single moms not being able to feed their children; seniors not being able to make it to the end of the month, not being to pay their rent; young adults not being able to afford houses? We are going to have a 2% tax on share buybacks. I have had a number of constituents, neighbours and friends come to me saying they are having a tough time. They are having challenges. What we really need is a 2% tax on share buybacks, because that will create greater amounts of capital incorporation, which will create economic prosperity for all. Is this for real? Is this serious? This is a real document.
As we go on in this document, a document prepared by the Liberals, here is what it says. The bad news is that we are going to have high inflation. The bad news is we are going to have high interest rates. The topper is that we might be going toward a recession. The way the government assembled this document would be funny if it were not so sad. In their economic projection, the Liberals have said that we will have one-quarter of negative growth at baseline and the other one at 0%. Two negative quarters make a recession. It was like my nine year old changed his homework a little so he did not have to call it a recession. By the way, somehow inflation rates, which will come out tomorrow, will drop to 3.5% in 2023, less than 50 days from now. I am not going to buy some swamp land from the Liberals and I am certainly not going to accept that ridiculous notion.
With the fall economic statement, the government had a real opportunity to do something great to help Canadians with the affordability crisis to get them back on their feet by getting off their backs. It could have reduced the carbon tax. We are the only country in the G7 that did not do that. The Liberals had the opportunity to truly help Canadians by reducing the payroll tax, but they seem intent on penalizing, not rewarding, all those Canadians who are working so hard. They take more and more. Their greed knows no end. The government is out of ideas and it needs to be taken out of its misery.
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise to speak to the fall economic statement implementation act, 2022.
There is an adage that is found in the Book of Proverbs, written by one of the wisest men who ever lived. King Solomon wrote, thousands of years ago, “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children.” It is a statement that reminds us that the decisions we make today impact on the future. They can impact, and do impact, on future generations to come.
How much more is this true of leaders who are in charge of our nation’s finances. This proverb teaches us that if we want to be truly good, if we want to be wise and if we want to leave an inheritance for our children's children, we must conserve. We cannot just spend. We must save and invest in our future.
As elected leaders, we have been entrusted with a profound responsibility to be stewards of our democracy and to preserve our Canadian way.
I am very concerned about the direction of Canada and about the short-sightedness of the government. Canadians want clarity about the social contract that they have engaged in with the government. They know what they are giving, but they do not know what they are getting back. Often their questions are dismissed, laughed at and mocked by the government.
Canadians want answers to simple questions like: How can we buy an electric car to save the environment, when we can barely afford food to eat? Why does the government raise taxes on home heating, fuel and groceries, only to refund us a pittance of what has taken in the first place?
Canadians just want to be able to fill up their gas tanks, to have a roof over their head, to not have to skip meals and to be able to take their children to school and to soccer practice.
Canada is almost $1.3 trillion dollars in debt. The government has spent more than all other governments combined in the history of this nation. Right now, Canadians owe $56,000. That is their share of the national debt, and it is increasing by the day. Next year, interest payments alone will be nearly as much as the Canada health transfer to all provinces combined. That is at a time when people are literally dying in emergency rooms because they cannot be seen within a reasonable time by doctors.
Just a few years ago, the promised to never go over $10 billion deficit. According to the Parliamentary Budget Officer, 40% of all new spending measures have had nothing to do with COVID. That is over $205 billion dollars.
The Liberal government used COVID as a cover for its non-essential, wasteful spending. The cannot be trusted with our finances. His government cannot be trusted. Things are falling apart.
The government spent $54 million on an unnecessary app, the ArriveCan app, that discriminated against seniors without smart phones and accidentally sent thousands of vaccinated Canadians into quarantine. One developer replicated this $54 million project in one weekend and said that it should not have cost more than $250,000. Several contractors said that they never worked on the app and that they never received the millions of dollars the government said it paid them.
Millions of dollars are missing for which the Liberals just cannot account. The Liberals’ out-of-control has led to inflation, which has caused an increase in the cost of living.
The price of food has seen double-digit price increases, and 1.5 million Canadians visited the food bank last month, which is an increase of over 35% from last year. People are worried that they will have to choose between food and heating their homes this winter.
The cost of housing has become unaffordable. Even for people who do not have mortgages on their property, it is difficult to pay the utilities bills and the cost of heating. Young people cannot afford to move out of their parent’s homes. Seniors and those on disability do not have the ability to earn extra money to supplement their income. People on fixed incomes are living an unaffordable existence.
I met a lady named Hilary this weekend in my riding. She told me that to buy half a tank of oil it cost $1,100, of which $300 was government taxes, and this will only heat her home for one month. I receive calls from farmers, manufacturers and small businesses that are desperate for workers, yet we see massive backlogs at Immigration and Citizenship Canada. Despite this, the government still plans to triple the carbon tax on home heating, gas and food.
We are seeing billions of dollars of spending in this fall economic statement, yet the same problem of lack of transparency still exists. The Liberals have announced the Canada growth fund in the fall economic statement, which is found in part 4 of the act. The fund will largely give corporations money to undertake projects in the area of climate change with investments toward a net-zero economy. While I and most Canadians support protecting the environment, it must be done in a transparent way that yields accountability and reduces emissions.
Under the growth fund, we see a reference to ESG, “Environmental, Social, and Governance”, stated on page 30 of the fall economic statement. While the government has embraced this vague term, the average Canadian does not know what it means, but we have seen these types of pet projects before, like the growth fund, that have resulted in outrageous waste. The $35-billion Canada Infrastructure Bank has not finished one project that the Liberals announced in 2016, six years ago.
The whole approach has been a failure. It was supposed to attract private sector investments, but has repeatedly failed to do so. Instead, the Liberals are spending millions on bureaucracy, overhead, operations and executive termination packages that yield no financial benefit to the taxpayer. Now we are expected to trust the government with billions of dollars in this Canada growth fund, a taxpayer-funded investment fund that, just like the Canada Infrastructure Bank, will subsidize experimental corporate private business projects.
Despite the failure of the Infrastructure Bank in getting a single project completed, the Liberal government wants to invest $15 billion under the promise of a net-zero economy in a similar scheme, but Canadians have questions about the Canada growth fund and about ESG. Here are some of the questions that came to my office.
Since we know that businesses will have to register their products and services and that all transactions will be digitally recorded and tracked under ESG, environmental, social and governance, does that mean that the spending of Canadians will also be tracked?
How will this accounting for the entire emissions life cycle of a project affect small and medium-sized business owners? Will small and medium-sized business owners endure more red tape, and thereby have to spend thousands of dollars on lawyers, accountants and environmental, social and governance consultants in order to comply with this ESG requirement?
Since the goal is to reduce the carbon footprint and reach net zero, will there be limits on what Canadians can buy, where they can go and how much fuel and products they can consume? These are natural questions that Canadians are asking.
There is so much that is broken in our system, and we are not going to fix it with more Liberal policies and continued spending that lacks transparency and accountability. We cannot move forward when questions that Canadians are asking about policies, like environmental, social and governance and how this will affect their lives are left unanswered and mocked by the Liberal government.
This is not about politics. This is about the future of Canada. This is about making sure that we leave a good inheritance for our children's children. That is why, in good conscience, I cannot vote in favour of this reckless, inflationary bill that lacks transparency.