Mr. Speaker, Thursday, December 8, may go down in history. It is a great day for all Canadians, because today the House of Commons has a unique opportunity to give some relief to all Canadian consumers who are suffering the effects of inflation, the increase in the cost of living and the increase in the price of food by doing something that is only right.
I am very optimistic and fully hope that all of my colleagues here in the House will finally, this time, do the right thing and vote in favour of our motion, which will cancel the carbon tax applied to all food chain inputs and production.
We are giving all members of the House a unique opportunity to do what is only right to give some relief to all Canadians. This motion seeks to help get things back on track for Canadians who are suffering, those who are struggling to put food on the table.
We asked for this many times. Many times we begged the government and the other parties to support motions simply seeking to reduce the carbon tax, or at least to not increase it. This time we are going a step further. We are asking them to cancel the tax on an essential need, namely food.
This is a day that may go down in history or that Canadians may remember for a long time. In fact, some parties may decide to vote against the motion seeking to give Canadians a break.
I would like to say something right from the start. I know that some members will probably ask why the member for Mégantic—L’Érable has risen to demand that the carbon tax be cancelled when it does not apply to Quebec.
I would remind the members opposite that Quebec is not self-sufficient when it comes to oil, food and supplies. Quebec has to buy products from around the world and especially, we hope, from everywhere in Canada.
The food that comes from the western provinces, the potatoes that come from the Atlantic provinces, all of that has to be brought in by truck. Unfortunately, the carbon tax applies to all of it, and the tax will increase over the next few years. Those are the facts. To deny those facts is to deny the reality that, right now, Quebeckers live in the province most affected by increasing food prices, according to “Canada’s Food Price Report 2023”. This report was issued by Dalhousie University, the University of Guelph, the University of British Columbia and the University of Saskatchewan. We are talking about 11%. Quebec is the hardest-hit province. However, it is the only province that is not subject to the carbon tax. That is what the Liberals are going to say today, despite the fact that I just demonstrated that such arguments are totally ridiculous.
I would like to talk about something else. Who will the carbon tax hurt the most? It will hit agricultural producers and farmers in the western provinces hardest. They will have to pay much higher tax bills, and will probably have to cease production in the coming years if nothing is done, if the government does not do the right thing and eliminate the carbon tax.
What will happen if there are fewer producers in the western provinces to supply food to Quebec? We will have to get our food from farther away and pay more for the same product. If we purchase from farther away and pay more, it will take more fuel to transport the food to Quebec. That will completely offset any positive effects of the carbon tax, and we know full well that the carbon tax has not allowed the government to achieve any of its greenhouse gas reduction targets.
I will not speak any longer about everything happening in the west because my colleague from , with whom I will be sharing my time, will be happy to demonstrate the effects of the carbon tax on the western provinces.
Where are we today? The newspapers are publishing headlines like “The coming months will be really difficult” and “Multiple devastating effects”. Of course, we are talking about the interest rate hike announced yesterday by the Bank of Canada, combined with the increase in the price of food which I will address in a few minutes and which is clearly explained in Canada's Food Price Report 2023.
I will read a paragraph from an article by Michel Girard this morning in Le Journal de Montréal, in which he says that the coming months will be really difficult: “Who is responsible? According to economists Jean-François Perrault and René Lalonde of the Bank of Nova Scotia...federal government spending on COVID‑19 support programs forced the Bank of Canada to aggressively raise interest rates. They believe that federal support for COVID‑19 victims, which amounted to more than $200 billion, was 'welcome, but probably overdone'. This spending created excess demand, which the Bank of Canada is trying to curb by increasing the cost of borrowing.”
There you have it. As we said earlier, the government had to do something, but the Liberals were sloppy once again. That is what the Auditor General said this week in her report. The government was sloppy, it was wasteful, it spent too much, and that is why we are seeing skyrocketing inflation today. That is why the Bank of Canada had to raise interest rates. At the same time, if everything is going up, if inflation is increasing, if the interest rates are skyrocketing, it is not surprising that the price of food is going up as well.
Canada's Food Price Report shows that the price of fish has increased by 10%, and the price of butter, by 16%. Even the price of fresh and dried pasta has gone up. When we were students and did not have much money to spend on food, we bought pasta. We ate pasta five days a week and, on weekends, instead of eating spaghetti, we ate macaroni. The price of pasta has gone up 32%. It is not surprising that students can no longer afford an apartment and have to live in their parents' basement.
The problem is that the government caused this inflation. We could call it Liberal inflation. The price of everything is going up. For example, the report projected that food costs for a family of four would reach approximately $14,700 in 2022. Based on what was observed in 2022, it appears that there will be a $455 increase for 2022. Worse yet, next year, the increase for the same family will be $1,065. That is a lot of money.
As I was saying earlier, Quebec is the province hardest hit by rising food prices. According to the report, the price of food has increased by 11% in Quebec. The increase across Canada varies between 9.2% and 11% in a single year. I do not know many people who received salary increases that will allow them to offset these increases. Moreover, it is not just the cost of food. I have not said anything about the cost of rent, mortgages or the additional costs of car loans. All of these new costs Canadians will have to pay in the coming years are outrageous.
It gets worse. According to HungerCount 2022 published by Food Banks Canada, food bank usage increased by 15% this year. The report states that high food prices are limiting Canadians' access to food. It is estimated that 23% of Canadians eat less than they should. That is what is happening in Canada in 2022. Normally, during the summer, the demand on food banks drops. That was not the case this year. This year, food banks faced their most difficult summer in 41 years.
The government can do something, Parliament can do something, the House can do something. Every member can do something today by voting for the opposition's motion, which asks that the carbon tax on food inputs and production, including all farm fuels, grain drying, fertilizer, transportation and other aspects of the food supply system be eliminated to give Canadians a little respite and allow them to put more bread, butter and milk on the table.
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague from for tabling this opposition motion today as it shows our farmers, producers and ranchers, as well as consumers across Canada, that the Conservative Party certainly understands food security and their economic viability.
In my opinion, the Liberals have a stark decision to make in the next few months. The decision is either to continue on this activist, ideological agenda, increasing carbon taxes and taxes on producers, or to start to understand that food security and the cost of food should be a priority for all Canadians. For a government that prides itself on making science-based decisions, clearly the policies it is putting forward are not based on sound science.
What is stark and what is really the impetus for the motion is the new 2023 food price report. It showed that by 2030, when the carbon tax would be tripled by the Liberals, farmers of a 5,000-acre farm, not a large farm by any means but a typical one, would pay $150,000 a year in carbon tax. I would ask the government how it could possibly think a farm family is going to absorb that cost and still be able to produce affordable, nutritious food, not only for Canadians but to help feed the world.
How does the Liberal government possibly feel a farm family could absorb $150,000 a year in carbon taxes alone and still remain economically viable? It simply cannot. That is the stark reality the Liberal government needs to understand sooner rather than later. When it makes these extreme ideological policies, there are consequences.
Part of that food report also stated that the average family of four would see its grocery bill go up more than $1,000 a year to a total of close to $17,000 a year in one year alone. The consequence of that, as we saw in March, is that 1.5 million Canadians were accessing a food bank, the highest number in our history. I cannot believe this is happening in Canada, a G7 country, where we are unable to feed our own people and where food security is at risk.
As my colleague said in response to the Bloc question, we did have the third-best harvest in our history this year. Why, if we had such a great harvest, are we talking about food insecurity and the economic viability of our farms, which are at risk? When there is a large harvest, the issue is that if the input costs far exceed the value of that crop, then the farmer is further behind at the end of the year rather than being ahead.
At committee yesterday, we had Rebecca Lee, executive director of the Fruit and Vegetable Growers of Canada, say that 44% of its members are selling their products at a loss. Almost half of the produce growers in Canada are selling their products at a loss. They cannot afford the massive increases in fertilizer costs. They cannot afford the massive increases in fuel costs.
How long does the Liberal government expect these farmers are going to stay in business? If they go out of business, we have to import more of those foods from other countries around the world. What will that do to our GHG emissions? What will that do to the government's climate change philosophy and policies?
We had Dr. Sylvain Charlebois at committee, one of the most respected food scientists in the country, from Dalhousie University. I am paraphrasing a bit, but he basically said, and I quote this part, the carbon tax is a bad idea. The carbon tax is putting farms out of business and putting our food security at risk. That is one of the top food scientists in Canada. He is saying the carbon tax is a bad idea and we are losing farms as a result of it.
When we lose farms, food prices go up. When food prices go up, food security is an issue. As a result, we see what has happened with more Canadians having to use the food bank.
There is more to that as well. This is where I think the Liberals are missing the point when they make these decisions not based on sound science and data.
For example, we asked the yesterday at committee why the Liberals are imposing these massive carbon tax increases on Canadian farmers when we are already more efficient than any other country on earth. The data show that out of Canada's total GHG emissions, which is about 2%, 8% of that comes from agriculture. That is 8% of 2%. That is infinitesimal on the global scale. The global average is 26%. That is a stark contrast when comparing where we are to the rest of the world. Why is the Liberal government not celebrating those achievements of Canadian agriculture?
Instead of punishing farmers with massive increases in the carbon tax, which is going to have a profound impact on food security in Canada, why is the government not saying to the rest of the world, “If you want to reduce your GHG emissions from agriculture, we are already there and we will show you how to get there. Use our technology and our practices, and we will export our manufacturing”?
We are already using zero till. We are already using cover crop. We are already using precision agriculture. We manufacture air drills in Canada that we are happy to export for other countries to use in their production. We use 4R nutrient stewardship. All of these things are already being used in Canada, but they seem to be ignored by the current government.
We asked the yesterday how she expects the family farm to absorb these types of costs. Her answer was that she does not understand what our definition of a family farm is. She is the Minister of Agriculture. If anyone should know what a family farm is, it is the Minister of Agriculture.
What makes it worse is the Liberals put forward Bill , which included a rebate on the carbon tax for farms. We know from the Ontario grain farmers association that their members get back about 15% of what they spend on the carbon tax. Finance Canada said the average payback for a farm family is about $860. The government can compare that to the $150,000 that the farmers are going to be paying. They are going to get $1,000 back. Does the not understand that? She was saying the families are going to get that back, but that the farm is a business. Ninety-five per cent of farms in Canada are family farms, owned by the family. Yes, they may be incorporated, but they are family farms. It is not possible to separate one from the other.
That is why we put forward our private member's bill, Bill , which would remove the carbon tax from natural gas and propane to help with grain drying, heating of barns and those operations that are integral to the family farm. We have the support of all the opposition parties on that private member's bill, including the Bloc, the NDP and the Green Party. The opposition understands how important agriculture is to the Canadian economy and our food security not only here at home, but around the world.
I am hoping the opposition parties also will be supporting our opposition motion today. It reinforces the importance of Canadian agriculture, and that the decisions impacting our families must be based on sound science and sound data. Instead of apologizing for the incredible achievements of Canadian agriculture, a Canadian government should be going around the world, as proud as it can be, being a champion of what we do and not apologizing for it.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to split my time with my friend and colleague, the member for , who will be up next.
I appreciate the opportunity to participate in a debate on the higher cost of living that Canadians and the world are experiencing. Let me reassure the hon. member that the government is well aware of these challenges, and that our priorities remain helping the most vulnerable in our society cope with the higher cost of living.
That is why the government has an affordability plan, a suite of targeted measures totalling $12.1 billion in new support in 2022. The affordability plan is designed to help address the needs of low-income Canadians who are most exposed to inflation. Because of investments the government has already made in the last two federal budgets, many of the measures in our affordability plan are in place right now to help Canadians.
In budget 2021, the government enhanced the Canada workers benefit, putting up to an additional $2,400 into the pockets of modest-income families, starting this year. I am pleased to say that most recipients have already received this increased support through their 2021 tax return.
This enhancement of the Canada workers benefit is extending support to about one million Canadians and helping to lift nearly 100,000 people out of poverty. The government also proposes to provide automatic advance payments of the Canada workers benefit to people who qualified for the benefit in the previous year, with these advance payments starting in July 2023. Workers would receive a minimum entitlement for the year through the advance payments, based on income reported in the prior year's tax return.
We are also fully aware that Canada and the rest of the world have been experiencing a period of higher inflation, including for food and groceries. This is part of a global phenomenon driven by the impacts of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which has led to sharply higher food and energy prices, as has been described today, as well as persistent impacts from supply chain disruptions and the COVID pandemic. That is why we are also providing targeted support to roughly 11 million individuals and families by doubling the goods and services tax credit for six months. This is delivering $2.5 billion in additional support to those who already receive the tax credit, including more than half of Canadian seniors.
With the passage of Bill , many Canadians have already received this additional payment. Single Canadians without children are receiving up to an extra $234, and couples with two children are receiving up to an extra $467 this year. Seniors are receiving an extra $225 on average. What is more is that the money is coming to them through a straightforward process. That is because the extra GST credit amounts are being paid to all current recipients through the existing GST credit system as a one-time, lump-sum payment. Recipients will not need to apply for the additional payment. They need only file their 2021 tax return, if they have not already done so, to receive both the current GST credit and the additional payment.
Finally, we know that the costs of climate change are significant. Climate change is real, and we know that carbon pollution pricing remains a pillar of Canada's climate plan as an efficient way to incent reductions and drive innovation. Carbon pricing lets industry, households and businesses choose the lowest-cost ways to reduce emissions and creates demand for low-carbon technologies, goods and services.
The pan-Canadian approach to pricing carbon pollution, announced in 2016, gives provinces and territories the flexibility to implement their own carbon pricing systems aligned with common minimum national stringency requirements, referred to as the “federal benchmark”. The federal carbon pricing system serves as a backstop in jurisdictions that requested or that do not implement a system aligned with minimum national requirements. All direct proceeds from the federal system will continue to be returned to the jurisdiction in which they were collected.
In order for a provincial or territorial government to receive these proceeds directly to use as they see fit, they were required to request the application of the federal system and commit to not using the proceeds to negate the carbon price signal.
More importantly, 90% of the projected fuel charge proceeds will be sent to households in the form of quarterly climate action incentive payments, administered by the Canada Revenue Agency. The majority of households will receive more back than they pay as a result of the federal system. This will help Canadians to pay for the food and basic necessities their families need.
Lower- and middle-income households will benefit the most. Also, there is a 10% supplementary amount for residents of small and rural communities. The other 10% of projected proceeds will be returned through federal programming, while 1% of the proceeds will be returned to indigenous recipients based on co-developed approaches and priorities; the remaining 9% of proceeds return through the environment and climate change programming for small and medium-sized enterprises in emissions-intensive, trade-exposed sectors.
Last month, the specified climate action incentive payment amounts for the 2022 to 2024 fuel charge year. Those have been announced in the House. In provinces where climate action and incentive payments will continue to be paid, there will be four equal quarterly payments starting in April 2023, so that households will receive these ahead of costs incurred and are not out of pocket. A family of four will receive, each quarter, $386 four times a year in Alberta; $340 in Saskatchewan; $264 in my home province of Manitoba, so over $1,000 a year; and $244 in Ontario.
In provinces where the federal fuel charge will start to apply in July 1, 2023, and where climate action incentive payments will be paid for the first time, there will be three equal quarterly payments starting in July 2023, in the following amounts for a family of four: $248 in Nova Scotia, $240 in Prince Edward Island and $300 in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Overall, a price on carbon pollution reduces pollution at the lowest overall cost to businesses and consumers, and it provides an incentive for climate action and clean innovation, while protecting business competitiveness.
Just to conclude, the measures I have highlighted today are delivering timely, effective financial help to millions of Canadians. For our neighbours who need this support the most, this means more money for them this year to help make life more affordable. While putting a price on pollution remains the most effective way to fight climate change while making life more affordable for Canadians, not only does pollution pricing ensure it is no longer free to pollute anymore, but for the eight out of 10 Canadians who receive climate action incentive payments, the federal pollution pricing system actually puts more money back in their pockets.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate my colleague from for his excellent speech today and for his answers to the questions, because he really hit the nail on the head.
This opposition motion makes a brief reference to pollution pricing. Pollution pricing is a good thing, because pollution has a price. It is not free to pollute. My hon. colleague from Winnipeg South mentioned that in his province, floods that should only happen once every 100 years have occurred twice. It has happened twice.
In my own riding, the Ottawa River burst its banks and caused flooding in 2017 and 2019. Statistically speaking, such floods should happen once a century, but they happened twice in three years. The climate crisis is here, and we need to get rid of practices that are not working anymore. The days when individuals, businesses, organizations and governments could pollute with impunity have passed. That is why I am very proud to say that we are going to be putting a price on pollution.
I am a firm believer in capitalism. I think it is good for people to earn money. We applaud all those who want to make money by producing a good or providing a service. If they pollute while doing so, however, they must pay. I have confidence in the wisdom and ingenuity of Canadians, and certainly in our entrepreneurs, who will find ways to produce goods while reducing their carbon emissions. That means they will pay less, their product will be more efficient and cheaper, and people will buy it because it works. That is the idea behind pollution pricing.
However, the motion before us today attempts to link the inflation we are experiencing today, the increase in prices, with pollution pricing. There is no link. When my colleague from was asking a question, he referred to a witness who appeared before the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food, on which my colleague sits. This witness is famous in Quebec and knows agriculture like the back of his hand. He was asked if the carbon tax was contributing to inflation and driving grocery prices up, and he said that it was not.
What is causing inflation is the global context. There are several factors. First of all, there was the pandemic. All the companies suddenly had to shut down to make sure that people were safe and that the COVID-19 virus did not spread. Eventually, thanks to the innovations that led to the development of vaccines, the economy started to reopen, following the advice of public health authorities.
All of a sudden, there were a lot of people all wanting to buy things at the same time. They wanted their freedom back. One or two people would have been okay, but when the whole world wants to buy things, it creates significant demand. Problems arose with supply chains around the world, especially in China because of its zero-COVID policy. That policy led to plant closures and disrupted supply chains worldwide. As if that were not enough, there is also Vladimir Putin's abhorrent war on Ukraine. It has hampered the flow of goods, creating product shortages and doubling price increases.
These are global trends that are happening, so what do we do? Canadians are facing price increases, but, unlike the official opposition, our government has an answer. Our answer is to help the most vulnerable Canadians. We are doing that in several different ways. Let me explain.
The first thing we want to do is make life more affordable for Canadians. With Bill , we doubled the goods and services tax credit for a period of six months. The GST credit, which is in place to help the most vulnerable Canadians, is a tax-free payment to low- and modest-income individuals and families. Regardless of the circumstances, these people need a hand, especially these days. Our measure will put $2.5 billion in the pockets of around 11 million Canadians, and these individuals and families will be very happy to have this money for the next six months.
With Bill , we created the Canada dental benefit. Once again, this benefit will put about $1,300 in Canadians' pockets to ensure that kids 12 and under have access to dental care. There is something else, too. We also paid $500 to 1.8 million low-income Canadian renters who are struggling to pay the rent. This is another targeted, non-inflationary support measure that will make a big difference for those in need.
Earlier this year, we increased old age security by 10% for people aged 75 and over. I can also talk about the Canada workers benefit, which is another way we are providing targeted assistance to support Canadians in need. This benefit is a refundable tax credit offered to Canadians and families who are working but earning a low or modest income.
All of these targeted and reasonable measures will help Canadians get through this global crisis. We can do all this while also fighting the climate crisis. That is what we have done in Canada. This will create a more sustainable economy, a healthier environment, and social cohesion. As parliamentarians, what are we good for if not bringing everyone together?
Mr. Speaker, I wish to inform you that I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Beauport—Limoilou.
Mr. Speaker, I went to the cafeteria on the first floor yesterday to get a grilled cheese, and I was really hoping to see you there. You are very charming and I really appreciate you. In the end, upon reflection, it was just as well that you were not there, because I ran into a Conservative member who spilled a coffee on his pants and found a way to colourfully blame it on the carbon tax.
I thought to myself, yes, that is obviously the source of all evil. I knew today was going to be a Conservative opposition day, so I made a bet with myself that the Conservatives would move a motion to give the bogeyman a new name, the carbon-tax man.
I read the motion last night, and I am pleased to say I was right, because that is essentially what this is. This entirely predictable motion portrays the carbon tax as the source of all evil and its abolition the solution to every problem under the sun. This is not really a motion about buying power or the price of food. It is not really about helping our farmers. This motion is further evidence that the Conservatives are trapped in their ideological cage, an ideology that says abolishing the carbon tax is the only way to fight climate change and make a transition. It is an ideological cage, and they are imprisoned inside it. Public debate is also being held captive, but the premise is false. It is false to say that this is the only solution.
The Conservatives are talking about our farmers. I would like to talk about farmers in the Lower Laurentians. The Union des producteurs agricoles, the UPA, recently held a convention in the riding of . I went to the UPA convention and talked to farmers. They thanked the Bloc Québécois for supporting Bill , which gives them a little GST relief on fuel for their tractors, agricultural equipment, propane and grain drying. They applauded our responsiveness, our pragmatism and our openness. They recognize that and told me so. That is always good to hear.
Instead of proposing a targeted approach, they are engaging in a generalized attack against the infamous carbon tax, which does not apply directly to Quebec, because Quebec has a cap-and-trade system. The basic principle of these systems is to increase the price of inputs or goods that pollute, while at the same time returning the tax-generated revenues to households. The relative price of these goods will be higher because they pollute more, but, in return, people will get help with their purchasing power. In the long run, it means that people will choose inputs and goods that pollute less. However, for these changes to be made, we must be realistic. There also needs to be a vision for the long-term transition. We must give people more options. Neither the Conservatives nor the Liberals are offering that. That is why we are still stuck in our current situation. Bloc Québécois members are realists. We think it is possible to walk and chew gum at the same time without getting stuck like the Conservatives.
This is why we supported the part of their motion that deals with agricultural fuels and which is the object of Bill C‑234. That is why we support the elimination of the tax on propane used to dry grain. At the UPA central union in Sainte-Scholastique-Mirabel, they looked me in the eyes and told me that it was important. However, that is the object of Bill C‑234, so the Conservatives do not need to waste time with their motion.
With respect to fertilizer, I would like to commend the extraordinary work of the member for . I myself participated in meetings where the member for Berthier—Maskinongé, our agriculture critic, had gathered everyone around the table, including farmers. There were meetings with firms to ensure that fertilizer supply contracts, which had been signed before the war in Ukraine, are not subject to sanctions. These honest farmers had the right to get their fertilizer at a predictable price. We were there for them.
The issue of transportation is important, because that is where we will have cut emissions the most over the next 10, 20 and 30 years, if we exclude electricity generation itself in most provinces. We have adopted a smart, focused and temporary approach that is compatible with the transition and shows compassion for the people who pay. This helps taxi drivers, truckers and those who are temporarily affected by the vagaries of the geopolitical tensions that we are currently experiencing.
I would remind our Conservative colleagues that the price of oil is currently determined by a cartel, by their friends in Saudi Arabia and their friends in Venezuela, who are communists. This is OPEC+, which includes Russia, which, again last week, decided to cut production to keep prices high, to the great delight of Alberta's public finances.
That is why we supported Bill . If we must point the finger at a party that does not support farmers, it is the Liberal Party. When we voted on Bill C‑234, I was there and the Bloc Québécois was there for farmers from Quebec and the whole country. I was the first of 338 members of the House to say on social media that even the had voted against farmers. The central unions of the Union des producteurs agricoles noticed that.
The reality is that we must embark on a transition; this was not decided on a whim. The Conservatives have never tabled a motion that would allow us to assess and appreciate how we can embark on a transition that would reflect the ambitions of the west. They are still fixated on the carbon tax.
The International Energy Agency, however, believes that demand in energy will drop by 7% by 2050 because some countries are making a effort, although Canada is not.
The European Union believes that energy demand will drop by 30% to 38% by 2050. Why? It is because some countries are doing their part. Canada is not among them.
France expects its energy demand to drop by 40% by 2050. Why? It is because France is a G7 country that is making an effort. Here in the House, whenever a Conservative motion is put forward, the substantive problems are forgotten in the rush to score partisan points. I have no interest in going down that road. We deserve better in the House.
When faced with the kinds of things I am saying now, the Conservatives attack Quebec. Just last week, Conservatives posted misleading statements on social media, saying that a metric tonne of carbon is cheaper in Quebec, with our cap-and-trade system, than in the rest of the country. The reason is simple: Our system is based on controlling quantity, and prices fluctuate. A metric tonne is cheaper in Quebec because there is less demand. There is less demand for allowances because we pollute less.
This system was the Western Climate Initiative, which originally included Canadian provinces and U.S. states. Some of them dropped out because they wanted to pay less, because they do not want to transition and because they knew it would cost them even more. Today, they refuse to consider possible solutions. That is what put us in the position we are in today.
Let us get back to the issue of inflation. All of this does not mean that no one is facing higher prices for groceries or fuel. The people I meet on a daily basis are experiencing these difficulties. We must address the weaknesses in our supply chain. It is not because of the Bank of Canada that we are having a hard time getting Japanese cars. There is just one Conservative telling us that. It is not the Bank of Canada's fault that lumber is in short supply. Last time I checked, the governor of the central bank was not out cutting down spruce trees in the Saguenay region. I did not hear anything of the kind.
It is not Canada's fault that we have seen record prices for resources such as wheat, rice or commodities. At the Chicago stock exchange, a few weeks ago, no one cared about Alberta's carbon tax. There is just one Conservative saying that and misleading the public.
Over the long term, global warming will cause even more disruption and instability in the supply chain. There is just one Conservative telling us it is a myth. This week, I heard a Conservative say that the holes in the ozone layer were a myth. They are the only ones who think that way.
When the Bloc Québécois moves motions on the prayer in the House or on the monarchy and the fact that we kneel before entering the House to pray to a foreign sovereign who is up to his ears in monarchy, the Conservatives lecture us about priorities.
I would have liked to see the Conservatives move a motion about our dependence on oil and how we can reduce it in a way that is fair to workers. I would have liked to see them present a targeted plan for low-income individuals or targeted support for our farmers. That is what our farmers are asking for, to deal with the structural weaknesses of our supply chains.
I would have liked to see them present a plan for building social housing for those who need it. Trickle-down economics does not work for housing. We must build housing for people who are living on the streets.
I would have liked to see a motion proposing solutions to address the weak links in the supply chain. Quebec's seaports are telling us they need help.
The next time the Conservatives call our priorities into question, I will tell them to buy a mirror, because they are on sale at Rona.
Mr. Speaker, the opposition motion before us today is the kind of Conservative motion we have had to debate since this session began. The message this motion sends is one of goodness, of awareness-raising of the financial difficulties that people are facing now. These struggles are real. Consumer prices have gone up. I have no doubt about my colleagues' goodness and desire to raise awareness on this subject. I have no doubts whatsoever, and I want to clarify that.
That said, when we take the time to analyze the motion, looking at its contents in greater detail and checking the facts, what we find under this lid of goodness and awareness-raising is a pot of soup filled to the brim with pieces of political and electoral interests, bits of misuse of information and incomplete facts.
The first premise of the motion sets out some frightening numbers for farmers, who are already struggling to get a sufficient income. According to this first premise, farmers will have to pay $150,000 a year in carbon taxes when they triple. That is a huge, terrifying amount. However, the motion fails to mention some information. For example, by 2030, the amount of the carbon tax will triple from what it is now. Consequently, the motion does not refer to a current or even near event. It also fails to mention that by 2030, a host of transitional measures will be in place to reduce the production of greenhouse gases. Yes, taxes are increasing, but if our GHG production is reduced, the amount to be paid in 2030 should be roughly the same as today.
Now let us talk about some inconsistencies. Concerning the first point, today's motion fails to mention one very important aspect. It boggles the mind that it could have been left out. I am talking about the fact that the Conservative Party, namely, the hon. member for , introduced Bill , which is intended specifically to remove the carbon tax on agricultural facilities. The bill is now in committee, and everyone agrees that it should progress quickly. In short, it seems as though the right hand did not know what the left one was doing when it was time to write this motion today. The first premise of the motion could be described as misinformation, since the information contained therein is incomplete.
I want to take my colleagues back to their intro to philosophy class in college. Disinformation is caused by three main elements. The first is omitting to provide all the information necessary to understand the facts. That is what we have here. The second is distracting the reader from the information. That is what the motion does by blaming all the world's woes on the carbon tax, when rising consumer prices are the result of a multitude of factors. The third is deliberately sharing false information. The good news is that this is not the case here, but we do have two of three elements of misinformation.
The next few premises also contain big numbers, ones that are accurate. Nevertheless, because of the first premise, we might believe that the carbon tax alone is causing consumer prices to rise. However, as I just said, consumer price increases are caused by a multitude of factors, not just the carbon tax.
Now let us talk about what the motion calls for. The first two points are about eliminating the carbon tax on farm fuels. As I just explained, Bill addresses that. The right hand has no idea what the left hand is doing. The third point is about eliminating the carbon tax on fertilizer. Bill C-234 does not cover that, which is too bad. A bill to that effect could be brought in quite quickly with all the goodwill that I know Parliament is capable of showing. Having said that, farmers are suffering the consequences of the sanctions imposed on Russia and its fertilizer exports. That needs to be addressed. Those sanctions have nothing to do with the carbon tax. They were imposed because of the war. The fourth point is about eliminating the carbon tax on transportation. What kind of transportation are we talking about?
It cannot be agricultural transportation, because that is already covered by the first point about farm fuels. Therefore, it must mean other modes of transportation. Does it mean heavy trucks, trains, planes?
In the case of trucks, technologies are already in place to reduce the pollution they create. Thanks to these technologies, which include diesel exhaust fluid, trucks will be emitting far less pollution by 2030, when the carbon tax will be $170 a tonne. Aircraft technology is also changing a lot in terms of fuels and greenhouse gas emissions. That just leaves trains. We need to figure out how to move beyond Canada's 19th-century rail system. I dream of high-speed electromagnetic trains, not high-frequency rail. I dream of real modern trains. That would be so amazing.
Lastly, the fifth point of the motion is overly vague. It calls for the carbon tax to be cancelled on all other appropriate aspects of the food supply system. What are all those other aspects? Does that mean electricity, coal, factories, oil industries? I have no idea. I will not dwell on this point any longer than necessary, because it is as blurry as a desert mirage.
As I said, inflation has multiple causes: labour shortages affecting agricultural businesses and companies in general; natural disasters, such as floods, drought, hurricanes and fires; corporate wage increases; and war, which we have to include in the list. By blaming the increase in consumer prices on the carbon tax alone, this motion blatantly oversimplifies a far more complex phenomenon, and that oversimplification amounts to disinformation.
There are viable and responsible solutions that I would have loved to hear my colleagues suggest. First of all, pensions could be increased to help seniors between the ages of 65 and 74. They should also be allowed to work, if they so choose, without being doubly taxed. They pay more taxes than a family, when they have already paid taxes their entire lives. Furthermore, their pension gets clawed back once their income reaches a certain threshold. That makes no sense. Second, a program could be implemented to support the people hardest hit by rising gas prices, such as farmers and truckers. I want to mention that since these people are dependent on gasoline, they are also at the mercy of fluctuations in gasoline prices. As part of the transition, we must provide these people with solutions so that they are no longer subject to fluctuations. Third, the supply chain could be stabilized by strengthening critical links and promoting local production.
Of course, Quebec does not pay a carbon tax because it participates in the carbon market. However, I would like to remind members, as did my colleague, that when Quebec became a member of this market it tried to convince all Canadian provinces to join as well, but it was met with outright refusal. Quebec was alone in finding this to be a good idea. Quebec was also alone in 1982 when the provinces stabbed it in the back by going back on their promise. Quebec was alone on child care, as well; Canada's provinces insulted us for 20 years by saying that Quebec could not afford it, but it suddenly become a good idea when the federal government agreed to pay for it. Quebec was also alone in standing up for aluminum compared to steel, the aerospace and pharmaceutical industries, and others.
Given that the premises of the motion are incomplete, that a bill to provide farmers with relief will be passed and implemented, we cannot vote in favour of this motion.
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise on this beautiful day to speak to the opposition motion before us.
I will be splitting my time with the wonderful member of Parliament for . Mr. Speaker.
It feels funny to be speaking on this topic, a little like Groundhog Day. It seems like no matter the problem, the tool is always the same for the Conservatives. I guess when the only tool one has is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.
The climate crisis, the very pressing issue of astronomical food prices and the impact on Canadians is a serious problem that requires serious tools.
The motion before us is ostensibly about farmers. I want to take a moment to talk a bit about the farmers in northwest B.C. who do such an incredible job, such as the dairy and beef farmers.
I met in Terrace the other day with the owners of a new goat dairy. It wants to produce its own artisanal goat cheese and goat milk in the northwest, which is a really amazing endeavour. That includes the vegetable farmers as well, the market gardens and producers who sell their food throughout the northwest. We have a really bourgeoning local food culture in northwest B.C. and it is something of which we are very proud. All those farmers, no matter the size of their operations, should be rightly proud of the work they do.
It is right that farmers are facing many challenges. One of those challenges is the cost of the inputs that they require for their operations, but it is not the only challenge. Of course, longer term, one of the biggest challenges facing farmers is the impact of the climate crisis. It is somewhat ironic to debate an opposition day motion that seeks to undermine Canada's approach to the climate crisis when the people who feel the impact of the climate crisis most intimately are farmers across our country.
I want to talk a bit about the farmers who would be affected by this, but I also want to talk about the farmers who would not be affected by this. I appreciate my colleagues in the Bloc highlighting that the Province of Quebec is part of a cap and trade system, a carbon market, that is provincial in nature, with which the federal government has no tie-in. British Columbia is in a similar situation because it has a provincial price on carbon.
It concerns me that at the heart of this motion is a bit of deception, because it talks about helping farmers across the country, yet it is not going to help farmers in Quebec nor farmers in British Columbia, like the ones I represent. There is going to be zero help for those farmers if this opposition motion were to pass and the government were to act accordingly.
The real problem faced by farmers who are struggling is with the cost diesel for their tractors. I talked to one neighbour on the south side of Francois Lake, who has a beef operation. The price that he was paying for diesel for his tractor was unbelievable. This is a real challenge. However, if we are looking to Canada's carbon pricing system as the villain in this, we are looking in the wrong spot. The real challenge, when it comes to gas and diesel prices, is the absurd gouging by the oil and gas companies.
Members do not have to believe me; they can ask the President of the United States, Joe Biden. He called it war profiteering and he threatened to put an excess profit tax on oil and gas companies in that country. They are not just gouging farmers, but all Americans who require petroleum products in their lives.
We could also look to the United Kingdom, where a Conservative government has put a 25% excess profit tax in place on the oil and gas companies. It will take the revenue from that excess profit tax and drive it back into affordability measures so the British people can benefit during hard times when inflation is out of control.
Those are the kinds of real measures that the NDP has been advocating for the government to get serious about in cracking down on profiteering and excess profits during a time that is difficult for so many Canadians. We need that kind of action.
When we think about the carbon tax in British Columbia, it has an interesting history. It was brought in in 2007-08 by the noted eco-socialist premier of British Columbia, Gordon Campbell. He did that because, to his credit, he believed climate was the existential issue of our time and we needed to act in a way that was rigorous and evidence-based. He was a very Conservative political leader, as the Speaker well knows, and he believed that markets were the best way to do that. Part of the Conservative philosophy is that the best way to tackle things is through markets because they are efficient and often provide the lowest-cost approach to tackling big problems.
Therefore, if we believe that the climate crisis is a problem, then it makes sense to choose a tool that is efficient and low cost. That is why the Conservatives, in their last election platform, sort of had a price on carbon. They wanted to use a market-based mechanism, albeit a bit of a goofy one, that would charge people a carbon tax and then put that money into a special savings account that could only be used to buy eco-friendly things like bicycles and solar panels. It was a bit of a weird implementation of the idea, but at its heart was the idea of using a pricing mechanism. They did that because almost every economist in the western world agreed that pricing carbon was the most efficient way to go about it.
Members might be surprised to hear that I am a bit agnostic on the topic. I want to ensure that we use whatever tools it takes to drive down emissions and tackle the climate crisis so my kids, and all members' kids, can have the kind of stable future, prosperous economy and good quality of life that I and my parents enjoyed. That is what we need. This motion would do not achieve that.
When we talk about the cost of the climate crisis, it is astronomical. If we do not act in a definitive way, not only to drive down emissions but to adapt our communities and our infrastructure, we will pay dearly for this crisis.
In British Columbia, we have already felt that. We lost the entire community of Lytton, which burned to the ground. Flooding in the Lower Mainland took out a huge amount of key infrastructure and crippled our supply chain just this past year. In 2018, there were devastating wildfires across northwest B.C. that affected so many parts of our economy and community.
This crisis deserves a serious approach. The affordability crisis and the crisis of inflation and food prices are serious issues that deserve a serious approach. We do that by cracking down on profiteering. We do that by having a real climate plan that uses credible evidence-based tools to drive down emissions. I am agnostic as to whether those are regulations or pricing mechanisms.
We need urgent action and political leaders who have a plan, who are transparent about their plan and can tell the Canadian people that this is the issue of our time and they intend to tackle it with all the seriousness that it deserves. Our kids are worth it. People in our communities who are struggling with the price of food are worth it. Seniors in Terrace, Smithers, Prince Rupert and Kitimat who cannot afford groceries are worth it.
Motions like this, which are inherently deceptive and try to fool British Columbians, Quebec residents and people across the country into believing that somehow removing carbon pricing from certain sectors is going to solve these problems, frankly, are unfair, unjust, and not the way to approach very serious issues in our country.
, I am happy to rise as the member for Nunavut. I thank my constituents for their trust in me and for allowing me to continue to amplify their voices and indigenous people's voices as well.
People are struggling. There is a rising cost of groceries, gas and housing. We all know this. This is a reality that Nunavummiut have been experiencing for decades. It is unfortunate that, while we have been suffering these high costs of living for decades, it has recently been the experience for most Canadians. I am glad, at least, to see that most Canadians now can understand what the struggles have been for my constituents in Nunavut.
Billionaires are getting rich while more people are suffering in poverty. Time and again, I have stood in this place to talk about the profits of major grocery stores, which continue to keep showing increased profits. This is at the same time that we have seen, as mentioned in the opposition motion, increased use of food banks.
New Democrats are showing leadership. We are speaking to seek accountability. We have seen the impacts of our good work. I have risen a few times in the House to talk about subsidies that are being provided to grocery stores, such as the nutrition north program.
Nutrition north is subsidizing for-profit corporations such as Northmart, which continues to show profits. The Northern stores are major grocery stores in northern Canada, not just in Nunavut. They are also in northern Ontario and northern Quebec. These subsidies going to grocery stores are completely unacceptable.
To speak to farmers, I see from my notes that there are already huge exemptions provided for farm fuels in the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act, so I think this motion may be quite ineffective if passed. This motion by the Conservatives would not do anything for provinces that have their own pollution pricing schemes, such as British Columbia.
I will return to my speaking notes about the food costs because that, to me, is something we can all try to do something more about. To remind the House, the CEO of Sobeys was awarded $8.6 million in 2022. Sobeys, a grocery store, is having so much profit that it is awarding its CEO $8.6 million.
Honestly, we have to ask, in this House, how we can make sure there is tax fairness. How can we make sure they are paying their fair share in taxes, so we can help ensure that we are actually alleviating poverty, as well as making sure that families are getting the help they need?
How does this party defend to their constituents that this is okay?
What do the New Democrats want? We want to force CEOs and large corporations to pay their fair share on excess profits. They need to be taxed for all of the profits they are making. There needs to be a launch of an affordable and fair food strategy that would address the profit motives of grocery companies, including requesting the Competition Bureau to investigate the profits of chain grocery stores.
While advancements in green technology are being developed to replace carbon-based fuel sources, we need to have supports for farmers with relief for high grain-drying costs and the costs of heating and cooling buildings used for raising and housing livestock. We need to support and increase investments for Nunavut to transition from diesel to renewable energy.
There needs to be a reform of the nutrition north Canada program. To date, the for-profit grocery stores being subsidized by the nutrition north program self-monitor the program. The federal government does not monitor how these for-profit corporations are doing in the program.
There needs to be a removal of GST from heating bills.
Finally, I will conclude by reminding the House that, while Canadians pay the price for rising food costs, billionaire Galen Weston, chairman of Loblaws, has increased dividends to shareholders from $118 million to $125 million in 2022.
Madam Speaker, as always, it is a privilege and honour to rise and bring the voice of Chatham-Kent—Leamington to this place.
I will be splitting my time with my hon. friend and colleague from .
Food inflation remains a top priority for Canadians from coast to coast, with almost six million people reportedly living in food-insecure homes in Canada last year. This is per Canada's Food Price Report. This number is expected to be even higher in 2022.
Food inflation is impacted by a number of factors, including general inflation, supply chain issues, geopolitical situations and, of course, internal policies. General inflation in Canada has reached the highest level in decades, as the more the government spends, the more things cost.
We have seen local supply chain issues caused by the global pandemic, and there are global impacts on food, especially fertilizer supply, as a result of Russia's illegal invasion of Ukraine. Yes, these events are not controlled here, but here at home, the Liberal carbon tax continues to drive up the price of all goods, along with all of the other non-pandemic-related spending that the government has chosen to do.
Canada's general inflation rate is 6.9%, the highest it has been in 40 years, and food inflation has exceeded general inflation for 13 consecutive months, with food prices surpassing even the high-end predictions for 2021 to an astonishing rate of 10.3% this past September. This has led to food banks experiencing their highest level of demand in decades.
Russia's invasion of Ukraine has had global impacts on food prices through trade restrictions and further supply chain interruptions. This ongoing conflict has especially affected the fertilizer market here in Canada, and more than it should have since Canada should be far more self-sufficient in nitrogen and potassium than it is. We have the national gas here to provide our nitrogen fertilizers, but not the pipelines across Canada to get the gas to eastern Canada. Railcars do some of the cross-Canada shipping of our petroleum products, which ties up and makes more expensive the option of railing potassium to eastern Canadian markets. Saskatchewan is a very large producer of potash, or potassium, but instead of using our own, we have became dependent on imports.
As Russia is also the world's largest exporter of fertilizer and as trade restrictions remain in place, the shortage of fertilizer puts pressure on global prices. However, instead of helping farmers, the government has demonized our farmers' use of fertilizer. The introduction of a fertilizer emissions reduction target of 30% could not have come at a worse time, and this unscientific scheme is not based on any measured baseline data. Progress could not even be directly measured, because there is no base to measure from, nor a way of directly measuring emissions. Canadian farmers are already outproducing the world on sustainability and continue to improve their environmental record, as they are already up to 70% more efficient in fertilizer use than many other countries.
Russia is also the largest gas exporter in the world, meaning that sanctions imposed on Russia by Canada and a number of other countries have placed pressure on other suppliers of gas, once again driving prices up. Higher fuel costs affect food prices in every step of our food value chain, as suppliers are forced to pass along their increased costs at every step up the chain and then, of course, ultimately to consumers.
The government's carbon tax, the subject of today's opposition motion, is yet another factor driving up food costs across Canada, as its exemptions are currently limited to only on-farm fuels and it is still applied in many other areas of the food supply chain. Not only does the carbon tax directly raise costs for Canadians, but it has far-reaching indirect effects as well, especially if the government insists on tripling it. It is important to note that a large part of inflation, and certainly the carbon tax, is the result of internal policies over which the government has control.
In my remaining time, I want to spend some time on an important issue that has been a priority for me since I first became a member of Parliament. It is the role that grocery retailers play in our inflationary challenges.
On the one end, our food supply chain continues to be crippled by the government's cash grab carbon tax, and we are certainly hearing about that in the House today. However, let us look at the other end of this equation and at the role of the large grocery retailers that complete the double whammy of the carbon tax.
The government has the opportunity to address the crisis of food inflation and lower food costs, namely through the implementation of a grocer code of conduct. Farmers are often called the first step in the food value chain. However, the “field to fork” expression is a bit of a misnomer. Farmers have many suppliers, so they are not the first step in the value chain. These suppliers, in turn, incur the carbon tax on many of their products and of course on the transportation of their products to the farm, and these costs are once again passed along to the farmer. Food manufacturers and processors are next, and then on to food distribution, which is either retail or the food service industry. The carbon tax is incurred at each step of this chain, eventually ending on the consumer's lap.
There are two seemingly contradictory statements being bandied about these days. The first is that retailers are seeing record profits. The counter-argument from the industry is that retailer margins have not changed in percentage terms throughout the pandemic. Both these statements can be true, as retail volumes have increased during the pandemic since consumers shopped more retail versus the food service that supplies the restaurants and institutional trade.
The carbon tax, which applies to the delivery of farm inputs and outputs and to the transportation all along the food chain, has increased costs, so retailers, maintaining their margins in percentage terms, which is what they are claiming, are applying this margin to a higher cost from suppliers and to higher volumes generated by the change in the market from consumers shopping retail versus food service. Of course, their profits then set records.
However, there is an opportunity before us that could accomplish many goals if we get it right. When properly implemented, it would result in increased profits for food manufacturers because of fair trading practices and reduced administrative costs in attempting to comply with the many “rules” applied by retailers. It would also lead to reduced costs for the retailers themselves in administering all these programs allegedly used as profit centres. Most importantly, it would reduce food costs for consumers.
Right now, shelf listing fees, fines for short or late deliveries and a host of other administrative exercises are adding costs that eventually end with the consumer paying a higher price. There is certainly an international precedent for such a solution, as the U.K., Ireland and Australia have all gone down this road with varying degrees of success.
Initially, retailers were afraid imposing a code would lead to a reduction in the number of retailers with gross sales meeting the threshold for the application of the code. However, the U.K., since fixing its original attempts, has seen more retailers succeed. At the outset of the program, only 10 retailers reached the threshold of dollar value throughput, but now 14 are large enough, meaning that the code has not driven consolidation.
In addition, and this is very important as well, it would allow the 10,000 independent grocers, which are crucial to so many parts of rural Canada, to be treated on par with the big five that control 85% of the grocery retail trade.
In conclusion, an appropriately structured code results in lower consumer prices and fairer trading practices within the value chain. Punishing farmers with an unscientific fertilizer emission target and applying a carbon tax to almost every step of the food value chain only serve to drive up food prices and drive more Canadians to the food bank.
Madam Speaker, it is a privilege to add my thoughts to the debate. It is shocking to watch the mental gymnastics taking place in the House to say that the rising inflation, which every Canadian is feeling, and the carbon tax have nothing to do with the cost of food. I have heard that a number of times.
Anyone watching in this country right now is affected by the price of food. Regardless of all other important things we talk about in this place, if people cannot feed themselves, they cannot do anything else. If people are worried about feeding their families, they simply do not have the luxury, necessarily, of worrying about some of the other issues we discuss here. If kids are not eating, then their school, their growth and their health all suffer.
We usually think of things like mass food insecurity happening in other nations that simply do not have the bounty that Canada has, but we never think about it in our own country on such a mass scale. The sad state of affairs in Canada right now is such that more people are being driven into poverty by failed economic policy from the government. Many rely on food banks, and some are not eating at all. If that is not important, then I think we should all question why we are here.
How do we know this? Our constituents tell us every day. Just last week I got an email from somebody in Thornhill. He said that he has lived in Canada for eight years. He is a student. He works and pays his taxes. His rent is being increased and food is being increased. He is living on one student's salary and is in so much debt. Instead of building their lives here, they are being ruined by the piling debt because of government inefficiency. That is from constituents. I assume members in the House are hearing a similar refrain.
It is not just people in our communities who are telling us this. It is also the statistics. A survey from Angus Reid found that, not too long ago, nearly 60% of Canadians were having a hard time affording enough food for their families. Food Banks Canada recently revealed that food bank use in 2022 was at its highest level ever recorded and that nearly 1.5 million Canadians used food banks in one month. That is up 35% in two years.
I want to make something clear. We are G7 country. We are one of the richest countries in the world. When people cannot even afford food, there is something wrong in Canada. We should ask what it is. Then we should ask how we can make it better.
I have heard a lot of rhetoric from the other side today about these two questions. The Liberals say it is all because of Putin's war, and it is all due to international phenomena. They say this even though we know that 0.3% of our trade is with Russia and Ukraine combined, and that inflation in this country was already two and a half times higher than the target rate when the war started.
It is always something else. It is always someone else. It is always somewhere else. It is a complete abdication of responsibility by the people in charge of this country. These are people who continue to want more control and less responsibility.
What do we see the NDP members saying? The entire inflation crisis is due to what they are calling greedflation. There are companies taking on unreasonable amounts of profits, and there is nothing else at play here.
They are missing the bigger picture. There is somebody else taking away more money than their fair share from Canadians' paycheques and hard work. That is the same Liberal government that they are propping up in their supply and confidence agreement. The greed that is making this crisis a crisis is the greed of the federal government, the greed of power and the greed of politics, because they are profiting from inflation.
The fall economic statement has shown that the government revenues went up more than $40 billion, because the cost of everything is going up. People are having a harder time making their paycheques last, and the Liberals want a share of that too. They are increasing the tax or the premiums on EI and CPP. Then there is the plan to triple the carbon tax. This is the tax they said they would not hike and the one that Canadians are paying more into than they are getting back. It is the one tax that has not met a single environmental target that the government has ever set.
We know that people are struggling and they are looking for hope. They are looking for real leadership and a real plan from the federal government. It is no surprise that the people who got us into this mess have no plan to get us out of it. What they are proposing is more of the same: tripling the tax on food, on gas, on home heating and on nearly everything else.
More than that, there are new fertilizer restrictions on Canadian farmers that are going to make it even harder for them to grow good, nutritious and affordable food here in our country. They are going to keep the reckless spending and the deficits. They are going to keep the waste, the tax hikes and the mismanagement. It is making inflation even worse.
Yesterday we saw another rate hike of 0.5%. That is the seventh in a row. How are people going to pay for this? We know that the Liberal plan is costing Canadians. The Governor of the Bank of Canada said so, and the previous governor said so too. It is not just because of them bringing us to where we are, but it is also where we are going. The latest “Food Price Report” released this week estimates that food prices are going up another 5% to 7%. That is $1,000 of after-tax income for a typical family to pay a typical grocery bill. Where do families find that money?
We have to do something, because this is not sustainable and it is not okay. If the Liberals are not going to listen to the millions of Canadians who are ringing the alarm bells, at least there is one party in the House, it seems after today, that is listening.
Conservatives are calling on the government to cancel the carbon tax on everything related to food production, including farm fuels, grain drying, fertilizer and transportation. To bring immediate relief, the Liberals can do something now. They hear it when they go back to their constituencies. They hear it from people who cannot afford to eat in a G7 country, in a rich country like Canada.
Conservatives have taken major steps already on this. Bill , introduced by my colleague from , would exempt the carbon tax from natural gas and propane used on farms. I would remind colleagues from the NDP and the Bloc that they voted for that, and they can vote for this motion. They can do the right thing by their constituents.
There is even more that we could be doing. We could be growing more food right here in Canada. We could be supporting good-paying jobs. We could be lowering prices at the same time. If members in the House do not think this issue is important and they talk about it being Groundhog Day, then it might be the case for them, but this is what Canadians are talking about and struggling with.
When our neighbours are making decisions about feeding themselves, we have lost the plot. Canadians will remember that this is the government that told us interest rates would stay low. It told us that the carbon tax would not go up. It told us that the problem was deflation, not inflation, and that everything would be okay.
We have record inflation. There is a plan to triple the carbon tax. We have the highest interest rates since the 1990s, the highest in the G7, and everything is not okay. It is time that the inflationary taxing and deficits that have led to this stop. It is time that we put people back in control of their lives. Let them keep their own money. This is not our money.
We have to be able to do the very basic thing and help Canadians feed themselves in Canada. Reducing taxes, capping government waste and removing red tape are just some of the best ways to end the inflation crisis. We talk about it here every day. This has trickled down to people's ability to feed their families, to feed themselves and to be productive.
The solution is not going to be bigger budgets. It is not going to be higher taxes. It is never going to be more government. It is the exact opposite of what we are seeing. My time here is limited, but if I were to list all the things we could be doing better, I would be here all day. I want to be clear. This specific proposal today is not the silver bullet that is going to make all of the problems go away. It is not the magic fix, but it will help. Anything that we can do to help Canadians right now is something worth doing. They are watching.
When our neighbours' and constituents' ability to feed themselves is at risk, it is incumbent on us to act in this place, because it is too important not to. Supporting this is just a start, and I hope that members in the House will do the right thing and spare Canadians their support for a failed carbon tax, one that they said would not go up, one that they said would reduce emissions and one that is costing consumers by driving the cost of everything up.
Today, I hope members will find an ounce of courage to start with food and to start with the production of the very basic things we need to feed ourselves in this country. That is the least they can do by supporting this motion.
Madam Speaker, it is an interesting process we have with our rules in the House. Opposition members are afforded the opportunity to bring opposition day motions. I have talked about this in the past in terms of how opposition parties will establish different types of priorities.
I will give credit to the Conservatives. They are definitely focused. They are focused on the price on pollution. They are on a little island of their own, not only here in Canada but around the world, where they are now convinced that a price on pollution is bad.
I believe this is the seventh time the Conservative Party, as the official opposition, has decided to bring this issue to the floor. I do not know if it is because it likes to feel really important, being the only party in the House that supports getting rid of a price on pollution.
After all, the Bloc supports a price on pollution. The New Democrats support a price on pollution. Members of the Green Party support a price on pollution. We all know the Government of Canada supports a price on pollution. It should be no surprise.
Back in 2015, the world came together in Paris. In the dialogue that occurred there, Canada was well represented by all sorts of stakeholders, including provincial entities. What came out of that, and was one of the ideas that really resonated, was the need to have a price on pollution.
Shortly after forming the government, we made the decision to listen to what Canadians were saying, appreciate the importance of our environment and implement a national policy ensuring a price on pollution.
In Canada, we were not alone. There were provincial jurisdictions that already had a price on pollution. Members might be surprised to know this, but in potentially the first jurisdiction in North America to take the principle of a price on pollution and put it into a budgetary measure, the Conservative Party did this in the province of Alberta many years ago.
The Province of Quebec, under Jean Charest, brought in a price on pollution. There have been a few leadership contests within the Conservative Party, but in the most recent one, interestingly enough, Jean Charest was one of the candidates. He received substantial support, and he too was an advocate.
His Liberal government, in the province of Quebec, brought in a price on pollution. The Province of British Columbia has a price on pollution.
People around the world are looking for ideas. We came back from the Paris conference saying we needed to get onside and recognize that a price on pollution is one of the most effective ways of being able to deal with the climate crisis of the century.
I can appreciate there are climate deniers within the Conservative Party. There are actual members of Parliament on the Conservative side who do not recognize that climate change is a reality.
When we first brought in a price on pollution, the Conservative Party actually opposed it. In the lead-up to the last election, not the last Conservative leadership race but the one before that, the Conservatives actually changed their position from their original one of opposing the price on pollution.
Just last year, during the election, the then leader of the Conservative Party actually put it forward in the Conservatives' platform. All Conservative candidates, in 338 ridings in Canada coast to coast to coast, had a platform document that said the Conservative Party of Canada supports a price on pollution.
Another leadership contest took place and the Conservatives now are not really too sure what they are saying. They just skip answering the questions when asked about the price on pollution, as I just finished demonstrating by my question for the deputy leader of the Conservative Party. They made the decision that it is just bad, that Canadians should believe them and that we should just be getting rid of the price on pollution. So says the new .
Do members remember the other idea the leader of the Conservative Party had, about cryptocurrency? The leader of the Conservative Party told Canadians that, if they want to fight inflation, they should invest in cryptocurrency. How did that idea pan out for the Conservative Party? Much like the most recent position of the Conservative Party on the price on pollution, that idea did not fly.
At the end of the day, those individuals who followed the advice of the leader of the Conservative Party of Canada have lost a great deal of money, well over 60% of their investments. In fact when I say “over 60%”, I am probably being a little conservative in that estimate, as many people have lost a lot more. Let us think of the seniors the Conservatives often talk about, as if they were advocates for seniors. We still have not even heard any regret or apology coming from the leader of the Conservative Party or from any Conservative candidate in regard to that idea.
What are the Conservatives waiting for now with the price on pollution? They like to say they are going to get rid of the carbon tax, as they call it. In Winnipeg North, eight out of 10 people actually get a net benefit with the price on pollution. There is the climate incentive cheque, which is given out four times a year. The Conservatives should be saying that, if they are going to get rid of the price on pollution, they are also going to be getting rid of those rebate cheques. Winnipeg North is not alone. Eight out of every 10 homes in the country receive them.
When the Conservatives say there is going to be a tripling of the price on pollution, and of course they are not talking about this year but about an increase over the next eight years, what they do not tell Canadians is that the rebate will also increase. We have the price on pollution and we have the rebate. All the Conservatives want to talk about is the price on pollution. They are more concerned about the bumper sticker, going into the next election, saying, “Axe the carbon tax.” That is what their priority is. It is not about the environment. It has nothing to do with the environment for the Conservatives. They do not even have a plan, as has been illustrated time and again. The last time they actually had a plan was for the price on pollution, and they abandoned that plan.
The Conservative Party is not reflecting the desire of Canadians to see some sort of plan dealing with the environment. To make matters even worse, they are spreading misinformation intentionally.
If the Conservatives were to come into Winnipeg North and we were to do a bit of door knocking, the Conservative candidate would stand beside me and say they were going to get rid of the price on pollution. However, I would say that if they get rid of the price on pollution, it would mean they would also get rid of the rebate. A person would get more money because of the rebate than they would pay on the pollution, generally speaking, for 80% of my constituents. Then, not only that, but at least as a government we are recognizing that the environment does matter and is an important issue, unlike the Conservative Party.
I suspect that if the sole debate were on that issue in the constituency of Winnipeg North, I would get more votes than I received in the last federal election. I am very grateful for the over 50% I got in the last election, but I believe I would even get more support if that were the only ballot issue being decided, because the rebate puts more money in the pockets of my constituents, and it deals with the price on pollution for climate change.
When we talk about farmers, the department of agriculture spends far more today than it did when Stephen Harper was the Prime Minister. In fact we are spending literally hundreds of millions of dollars, well past a billion dollars, supporting farmers, supporting our prairie farmers. We had one Conservative member say that this year was the third best on record in Canada for our farmers, and in particular our prairie farmers. My focus in Manitoba is canola, wheat and flax, all of these wonderful bumper crops, not to mention the other commodities, whether in the pork industry, the cattle industry or our chicken industry. All of these industries, we value.
That is why we have a very proactive . Not only is she proactive, but we are providing cash support. We are ensuring we can move toward a greener economy, just like other countries around the world. There is an expectation that Canada has to demonstrate leadership, and I believe it is important we do just that. By recognizing the importance of moving forward in a positive way with the environment, we will be in a much better position in the months and years ahead to ensure opportunities well into the future. We need to do this so Canada can continue to play that important role it does in the world, whether by providing food or through the many other industries Canada leads in.
The Conservative Party likes to say this is all about the issue of inflation. Inflation is a very serious issue. I like to think it does not matter what side of the House we are sitting on. We all recognize how important inflation is to address as an issue. The Conservatives bring forward a motion that really would not deal with the issue they are talking about in a tangible way that would assist the majority of Canadians. We have put into place, over the last number of months in particular, a series of policy announcements that do deal with and support Canadians in a very real and tangible way.
When the Conservative Party says that it is concerned about inflation and the government needs to do more to support Canadians, unlike the Conservative Party, we are not going to sit back and just watch things take place. There is a role for government.
Before the Conservatives make the suggestion, as they are now, that government should not play a role, let me talk about the larger picture of inflation outside of Canadian boundaries. We know Canada is doing better with its inflation rate than the United States of America. We are doing better than England and many different European countries. We are well below the average of the G7 countries overall. From a world perspective, our inflation rate is doing well.
I find this interesting. I looked up the inflation rates of the United States and Canada over the last two years of Stephen Harper. I think this is appropriate, because the Conservatives are trying to tell us what we need to do, as if they have wonderful experience in dealing with inflation. In the last two years of Stephen Harper, the United States of America's inflation rate was lower than Canada's. In other words, Canada had a higher inflation rate in the last two years of Stephen Harper. Today, if we look at our administration, in the last two years our inflation rate has been lower than that of the United States.
I do not think we need to follow the advice of the Conservative Party of Canada, in particular the leader, who recommends things like cryptocurrency, to deal with the types of policies that are not only important in having an impact on the overall inflation rate, but that we can use to support Canadians at a time when inflation hurts. Even though I pointed to the U.S.A. and how Canada is doing relatively well, my constituents, like everyone else in Canada, are hurting with respect to inflation. We are very much aware of the grocery prices and how much it hurts their pocketbooks. I too am offended that farmers are putting their blood, sweat and tears into ensuring we have food production but are not reaping in huge profits or rewards for their efforts to anywhere near the same degree others are. There are things we can do to help, and I could list them off.
We can talk all we want, but the Conservatives continue to vote against measures to support Canadians, whether with respect to issues like the dental program for children under the age of 12 or the Canada housing benefit to provide rental subsidies that would benefit two million Canadians. There are already 35,000 children who have put in applications for the dental program since we brought it in a couple of weeks ago. Also, the doubling of the GST rebate for the next six months will benefit 11 million Canadians. When it comes to the Canada workers benefit, by making quarterly payments, thousands of Canadians will benefit from that. There is the elimination of the federal interest on student loans, which will benefit thousands of students, and that is not to mention child care.
This government, unlike the Conservative Party, recognizes there is something the Government of Canada can do, and I can tell members that every Liberal member of Parliament will continue to fight, day in and day out, to ensure that we can marginalize the negative impacts of inflation, because that is the right thing to do, even though as a nation we are still doing better than the U.S.A. and most G7 and G8 countries.
Madam Speaker, it is an honour and a privilege to rise today in the House to address the concerns of my constituents in Perth—Wellington and Canadians across the country.
I will be splitting my time with my deal colleague, the hon. member for , Madam Speaker.
It is appropriate that we, as the Conservative opposition, are debating this opposition day motion today. Today is the last opportunity that the opposition can bring forward an opposition day motion. We are focusing on the issues that we have been hearing about from constituents over the past year and before. These are issues we have been raising time and time again in the House, in question period, and the issues we are hearing time and time again from constituents in our ridings across the country.
The cost of living and the cost of everyday essentials keep going up. We hear this from constituents who are struggling with home heating, groceries and putting gas in their tanks. I have been receiving emails and phone calls daily, hourly, by the minute basically, from constituents sharing their concerns with me.
Sam from Arthur wrote me a heartbreaking email about how she and her husband, a carpenter, were nearing retirement and they were struggling to get by. She wrote:
“Balancing a budget was incredibly difficult before COVID but now it is beyond me. Speaking for myself, basic essential groceries absorb at least half of my income....In our case, we tried to plan well. We took care of my husband's parents until they required fulltime care and we did our very best to conduct our affairs in the right way, for the right reasons. Now that we are at the point where we should be celebrating life with each other, we are struggling to try to make ends meet!”
Sam is not alone. She expresses the concerns of so many in our communities.
Danny from St. Marys wrote:
“I have been very closely watching the parliament broadcasts and what is going on with gas prices and the inflation that is going on right now. Honestly, I am very disgusted with the way the Liberal Government is looking at these issues. I am disgusted with the way the Liberal Government continues to misinform, evade, and deflect on every single topic.”
“My weekly gas price to go to and from work was approx. $150.00 a week, that is now $250.00 a week. My Wife and I generally buy the same groceries all the time, our grocery bill has gone from $160 a week to $25 0 a week. This is 200 a week more that is being spent each and every week right now. That is pretty close to $1000 a month, just in inflation.”
Anthony from Perth South wrote, “I have a really big concern with the gas prices. When are we going to see affordable prices? Buying an electric car is not a viable option given the cost even for a used car.”
Pam from Mount Forest in the north part of Wellington County wrote:
“I almost cried talking to my husband last night about how much our expenses have been in the past month. Last weekend we picked up a modest "freezer pack" and a few other things from the butcher, which was over $450 and being realistic it will last my family of four MAYBE a month. Then picked up our groceries ... another $250. $700 and we will have to get more from the grocery store the end of this week."
Walter from West Perth had to go back to work after retiring. He wrote, “Gas is driving everything up except for my pension, so now I get to go back to work. So much for a nice retirement. There has to be a way to get this liberal govt under control or out of office."
People in Perth—Wellington are struggling. People across Canada are struggling. While the Liberal government is making more and more inflationary spending, the impact of this inflationary spending drives up the prices and makes matters worse for everyday Canadians.
Over the past few months, the Liberal response to the criticism has varied from pathetic to downright infuriating. This past Monday in question period, I asked the government about the cost of groceries and the rising number of Canadians who were forced to use food banks. How did the government respond? The gave a non-answer, repeating the same false claim that the carbon tax was necessary to fight climate change, yet, as we have seen, emissions keep going up as the carbon tax goes up. These evasive and cowardly answers fail to address the real concerns.
Unfortunately, the Liberals have taken the approach that if they say the same thing time and time again, it might eventually become true. The fact is that it has not. The carbon tax has the impact of driving up the costs of growing, processing and transporting food, making it more expensive for farmers, farm families and Canadians across the country who are trying to feed their families.
Yesterday, I was up in question period again and asked another question that received an evasive answer. Instead of getting a response from the or , I received a response from a different minister, who took the opportunity to boast about the money that went out for CERB. What she neglected to acknowledge was that the day before, the Auditor General reported that nearly $13.4 billion had gone out in overpayments to those who were ineligible or to people who should be investigated further. She also said that those in prison received the CERB.
When a Liberal minister stands and says the Liberals' spending is helping those in need, it simply does not stand up to scrutiny.
Creating more and more inflationary spending will only drive up the costs in the short term and in the long term create structural economic problems, which have been going on since 2015.
When we are out visiting our constituents, we often get asked what we would do if we were in power. This opposition day motion is our answer. We would take the carbon tax off all food inputs, all inputs that are used for production of the food that feeds each and every Canadian. We have been trying to do this for months now.
In March, we had a motion calling for a tax reduction on gas and diesel prices. The Liberals and NDP rejected it. In September, we introduced a motion calling for a moratorium on new taxes. The Liberals and NDP rejected it. In October, we introduced a motion calling for a tax exemption on home heating. The Liberals and NDP rejected it. This is in Canada, where it gets exceptionally cold in the winter, and they rejected our call to remove the carbon tax on home heating. Every time we propose meaningful solutions for families and Canadians across the country, these proposals get rejected.
What would this motion do? On our last day of the supply period, we call for five simple things: to cancel the carbon tax on farm fuels, grain, drying, fertilizer, transportation and other appropriate aspects of the food supply system. Canada quite literally helps to feed the world, but we are handcuffed in that ability when the input costs keep going up on farmers and farm families.
In fact, just yesterday, at the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food, which I had the honour to sit in on, the member for asked a very simple question of the . The member asked, “Madam Minister, do you know what percentage of Canadian farms are family-owned farms?” The Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food responded “No.” The answer to that is 95% of farms in Canada are family owned.
Farm families feed families across Canada, and this motion serves to make it more affordable for farm families to feed our country and more affordable for families to feed their families. When we read heartbreaking emails each day about families struggling to make ends meet or when we hear that 1.5 million Canadians are using a food bank in a given month, half a million of those being children, we have the opportunity and the necessity to act. We need to remove the carbon tax on essentials. We need to remove the carbon tax on what it takes to feed our country.
We put this motion before the House, and I am incredibly hopeful that the Liberals, the NDP and the Bloc Québécois will join our Conservative opposition in making it more affordable for Canadians to feed their families.
Madam Speaker, I am honoured to follow my colleague who gave a very entertaining speech. It is always a great honour for all of us to stand in our place to speak on behalf of the communities that elected us.
The debate today is about a motion we put forward that we think is very reasonable in the economic crisis we are experiencing right now, this cost of living crisis. It is a motion that calls on the government to remove the carbon tax on all those input costs of the food processes we have, whether it is through agriculture, or in my part of the world, elements that are affected by the pricing on fishing.
It is important because the carbon tax is really a tax on everything. Most people are probably aware of that, but the primary reason we are having this inflationary, some say a just inflationary, type of period is that we have a tax that is applied to everything, and it is pushing the prices up, combined with government spending.
I would like my colleagues here to understand a little bit about the effect of these costs. Some here, as we are paid a fairly good salary, may not feel the pinch the same way as people in my community do, where the median individual income is $20,000 a year and the median household income is only $44,000 a year. We are forced, in our province, to heat with either oil, 53% of which is oil that comes from Saudi Arabia, so dirty Saudi Arabian oil, or with electricity, which is generated in Nova Scotia with coal, of which 60% comes from Colombia. Therefore, we do not have the choice, because of decisions of the government, to use clean Canadian energy in our province. We are forced to use these methods, which is dramatically increasing the cost of living. When one has a median income of $20,000, these increases are huge.
Some of the constituents have written to me, and we are all getting calls, I am sure, on all sides of the House, from people who are suffering. I will tell members what Jeff Kinar from riding wrote to me.
He said that he was absolutely shocked to pay over $2 a litre for diesel for his truck. He is a pensioner living in a rural area of Nova Scotia trying to enjoy what he considers to be a well-deserved retirement. He did his time in the public service and has a modest pension income. Fortunately, he has few medical issues and he does own his own home, but these fuel prices are unbearable for those who are living in rural areas who must make regular trips to town for groceries, prescription drugs and medical appointments. He said that it was shocking to see that almost the entire crew of Liberals jaunted off to Europe while exhorting, or extorting, the Canadian public to do their part in the fight on climate change.
Now, Nancy Celic in my riding wrote—
Madam Speaker, the NDP member from the costly coalition is obviously very sensitive to any accusation that his friends and fellow caucus members are putting up the cost of everything.
I will go back to what my constituents have written to me. The member for , I am sure, is getting emails like this. Nancy wrote to me to raise the issues facing those on a federal disability pension. The member for Kingston and the Islands is obviously not aware that people live on disability pensions.
She continued with asking us to please raise their pension. She wrote that her oil bill was over $700, and she gets $895 a month. She cannot afford prescriptions, power, cable, phone or Internet, to say nothing of food. She lives in rural Nova Scotia, so everything she needs, she has to drive to, but she cannot afford gas. She says she is usually home anyway, but this is ridiculous. She goes on to talk about her medical needs, and she says she is living a life like the early days of the pandemic because she cannot get out and misses appointments.
She then says that the government is giving away millions of dollars, and she understands why it has to do it, and she does sympathize, but she asks about Canadian citizens. She questions if the government cares about them. She then says that she finds it hard to see her mom, as she is 35 kilometres away, and Nancy cannot afford the gas to visit her. Her mother is on an old age pension too and cannot afford food.
I would think that the Liberals would care about these issues and vote for the motion.
We are seeing, for example, that food inflation is up 10.8% because of the policies of the government. Fish, which is very important in my riding, is up 10.4%. Butter is up 16%. Eggs are up 11%. Margarine is up 37%. I am not buttering members up on this. The reality is it has gone up by 37%. Bread and rolls, which is something we butter up, have gone up 17%. I can go on. The food costs have grown enormously.
Fishing is an important part of my riding. It is lobster season and the winter has just started. It is a dangerous job, fishing in the north Atlantic for lobster in the winter during storms, with waves and snow. There are dangers when people are out to sea, 40 to 50 miles off shore.
I know I am going to get scoffs from the other side, but the cost of diesel for a fishing boat is $2.70 per gallon, which is triple what it was at the start of the season last year. It is tripling. It is because of the policies of the government that we no longer have access to the necessary bait. We are not allowed to fish mackerel because of the decisions of the government. The reality is they have to buy bait from Europe and Norway, and the bait has now doubled to $1.40 per fish.
There are people who have a loan from the provincial loan board. They are young entrepreneurs who have gotten into the fishing business and have upwards of a million dollars of loans, so they could buy their boat, their licence and their gear. Their loans have just rolled over this fall. Do members know what they are now? They were paying 2%. What do members think they have gone up to? They have more than tripled to 7% on a million-dollar loan.
This is an incredible burden on and cost increase to the food that we eat. That is why we are putting forward this motion. We are saying we have to give people relief. The government has to give relief to Canadians to stop the cycle of inflation it is causing, which is driving up food prices and making our constituents have to choose between heating and eating.
How did we get here? Those tiny deficits were promised in 2015 and balanced by 2019. Before COVID, we had $110 billion of deficits spent by the government, which was supposed to have balanced budgets. Then during COVID, over $200 million was spent on issues that were not related to COVID, which added more debt to the country than all other prime ministers combined in the history of this country.
That excessive spending puts more cash into the market, and it is chasing fewer goods, which means our paycheques cannot buy what they used to. It is basic economics. However, if we had a government that understood or paid attention to monetary policy, it would have understood that and saw it coming, as we did two years. We warned the government that this was going to happen. The said she was worried about deflation. Do members believe that? She did nothing about understanding the basic economics of our economy.
I have a lot more to talk about on the wasted government spending that has led us to this point where we are calling on the government to give some compassion and relief, so people can afford to buy food and do not have to choose between food, heating and prescriptions in my province, and in some cases selling their houses.
I have asked questions here, and I had Debbie on the phone. Her mother has to sell her family house. She has to sell the family house because the price of home heating has gone up from $200 to $400 a month. We get calls every week from people having to sell their houses because they cannot afford to heat them anymore, and they have to make the choice between maintaining that home or eating, so they have to sell the home.
We are calling on the government to show a little compassion and reduce or eliminate its failed carbon tax, which has not met a single carbon target it has set out. The Liberals have not reduced carbon outputs in this country since they have been in government. It is an inflationary tax intended to drive up inflation, and it is not working, so we would urge all members in the House to please support this motion today. It is a brilliantly crafted motion, which would really help Canadians suffer through this terrible economic time we are in.
Madam Speaker, I am happy to be sharing my time with the very hon. member for .
I am very pleased to join in today's debate on the issue of the higher cost of living. It is one that is top of mind for our federal government and also for the residents of my riding of Davenport. It is also the top economic challenge facing our country right now.
We have been speaking with Canadians and know the real uncertainty they are feeling today. First, we have experienced a once-in-a-generation pandemic. We turned the Canadian economy off and then turned it back on. Then Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine. Now we are dealing with inflation. All of these things are related, of course. Global inflation has not been created by the decisions of any one government alone. Global inflation has been created by the combined aftershocks of two and a half years of historic tumult.
Fortunately, Canada is faring better than most other G7 countries in these very difficult times. However, that reality does not change the impact on Canadians when they are looking at their grocery bills or their gas receipts. Our federal government knows how challenging these past several months have been, and while inflation is down to 6.9% from a peak of 8.1% in June, it is still too high. It is also no comfort that Canada's inflation rate is one of the lowest of all G7 countries.
Affordability and covering the costs of everyday living will continue to be a top issue. It will continue to be a difficult time for a lot of Canadians, friends, families and neighbours. Our economy will slow, the same as economies around the world, as central banks continue to act to tackle inflation, as we heard from the Bank of Canada yesterday. There will be people whose mortgage payments will rise. Businesses will no longer be booming in the same way they have been since we left our homes after the COVID lockdowns and went back out into the world. Our unemployment rate will still be low but will not be at its record low.
We know that Canadians are worried about the higher cost of living and are also wondering when it will all end. For the Canadians who need it the most, namely those who are the most vulnerable and those who feel the bite of rising prices most acutely, our federal government is there with measures in our affordability plan right now, this year.
Our affordability plan has been providing up to $12.1 billion in new supports throughout this year, with many measures continuing after this year to help make life more affordable for millions of Canadians. Let me go through some of those measures.
We have doubled the GST credit for six months, which is providing $2.5 billion in additional targeted support to roughly 11 million individuals and families who already receive the tax credit, including more than half of Canadian seniors. Many received this additional payment last month.
The second thing we are doing is enhancing the Canada workers benefit to put up to an additional $2,400 into the pockets of low- and modest-income families, starting already this year.
We also increased, on a permanent basis, old age security by 10% for seniors over 75. That began in July. This increases benefits for more than three million seniors and provides more than $800 in the first year to full pensioners.
In addition, we have a $500 payment this year going to 1.8 million Canadian low-income renters who are struggling with the cost of housing through a one-time top-up to the Canada housing benefit.
We are also cutting regulated child care fees by an average of 50% by the end of this year. I am delighted that we have introduced Bill , legislation that will protect access to affordable, inclusive, high-quality early learning and child care now and ongoing. This legislation will make it harder for any future government to cancel or cut any child care in the future. I am very happy that this is happening and is currently under way.
We are providing dental care for Canadians without dental insurance who are in households earning under $90,000 and have children under the age of 12. They are getting up to $650 this year and up to $650 next year.
We are also indexing benefits to inflation, including the Canada child benefit, the GST credit, the Canada pension plan, old age security and the guaranteed income supplement.
All of these measures mean that Canadians are getting more money back in their pockets when they need it most. Also, when it comes to pollution pricing, we know a national price on pollution is the most effective and least costly way of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and putting money back into the pockets of most Canadians.
I would like to take a moment to further highlight two other measures in this plan in more detail.
First, in the fall economic statement, we set out a plan to further improve the Canada workers benefit, in addition to already expanding and enhancing it in budget 2021 to reach up to three million Canadians who do important jobs but do not get paid very much. The federal government currently delivers the Canada workers benefit through tax returns. That means eligible Canadians need to wait until the tax year is over to receive the money they have already earned.
However, bills need to be paid throughout the year. That is why in the fall economic statement, we set out a plan to further improve the Canada workers benefit. With the changes proposed in the fall economic statement, the Canada workers benefit will reach up to 1.2 million additional hard-working low- and modest-income Canadians through advance payments that would be made in July, October and January based on a worker's income in the previous year. This means that in total, the Canada workers benefit would top up the income of up to 4.2 million Canadians. They are among the lowest paid Canadians, and no one who works 40 hours a week should have to worry about paying the bills or putting food on the table.
The second measure I would like to underscore is our federal government's investments to support early learning and child care. Child care is not just a social policy; it is an economic policy too. Affordable, high-quality child care will grow our economy, will help give every Canadian child the best start in life and will allow more women to enter the workforce.
I call this policy a game-changer. In fact, just last week, Statistics Canada reported that almost 82% of women in their prime working years had jobs in November, the most on record, as our implementation of the Canada-wide early learning and child care system continues to close long-standing gender gaps in conjunction with a tight labour market. At a time when the cost of living is top of mind for so many, the investments we have made are having a real, tangible impact on what is often one of the biggest monthly expenses for a family.
This is very popular among residents in my riding of Davenport. They love this national child care plan. They are absolutely using it. They very much appreciate the additional dollars, especially during months like December, when there are some additional family gatherings and they need additional dollars.
In budget 2021, our federal government has made a historic investment of $30 billion over five years to build a Canada-wide early learning and child care system. In less than a year, we have reached agreements with all 13 provinces and territories. As I mentioned earlier, by the end of this year, regulated child care fees will be reduced by an average of 50% by 2025-26. Child care fees will average $10 a day by then for all regulated child care spaces from coast to coast to coast.
Today, that means parents across British Columbia can now save on average up to $550 more per month for each child they have in licensed child care, representing up to an additional $6,600 annual savings. This is on top of the existing savings of up to $350 per month introduced by the ChildCareBC plan in 2018, for a total of almost $900 in savings per month on average.
As we continue to work with the provinces and territories on the implementation of agreements, we are also creating an early learning and child care infrastructure fund. Through an investment of $625 million, this fund will enable provinces and territories to make additional child care investments, including for the building of new facilities, all with the goal of making high-quality child care across Canada more accessible and more affordable.
When it comes to ensuring Canadians will get through this challenging economic time, we are providing inflation relief, through our affordability plan, to Canadians who need it the most: the most vulnerable, who are most exposed to inflation. We, of course, cannot support every single Canadian the same way we did with emergency measures at the height of the pandemic. To do so would only make inflation worse and more persistent. In saying that, I note we have been responsible with our spending, we are being compassionate and we are going to continue to have the backs of Canadians who need it the most, both now and moving forward.