Mr. Speaker, the following questions will be answered today: Nos. 1304, 1305, 1308, 1310, 1313 and 1315.
Question No. 1304—Ms. Michelle Ferreri
With regard to the government's Sectoral Workforce Solutions Program: (a) what are the processing times of applications, overall and broken down by sector; (b) as of March 7, 2023, how many applications were still awaiting a decision; (c) of the applications in (b), how many were received by the government more than (i) 30 days, (ii) 60 days, (iii) 90 days, (iv) six months, (v) one year, ago; (d) for each application that has been pending for more than 90 days, what are the details, including the (i) name of the applicant, (ii) date the application was received, (iii) reason for the delay, (iv) date by when a decision will be made; (e) what are the details of all funding delivered to date under the program, including, for each recipient, the (i) name, (ii) amount, (iii) location, (iv) project description or the purpose of funding; and (f) what is the total amount of funding provided to date?Mr. Irek Kusmierczyk (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Lib.)
Mr. Speaker, with regard to part (a), the average processing timeline for applications received through a call for proposal is 22 weeks. However, this can vary quite significantly based on the volume of applications received and the complexity of the program. Applications received through the sectoral workforce solutions program are processed at the same time and are not broken down by sector.
With regard to part (b), as of March 7, 2023, all applications that were received through the sectoral workforce solutions program’s 2022 open call for proposals are still pending a decision.
With regard to part (c), all applications were received one year ago.
With regard to part (d), given that the process for the sectoral workforce solutions program’s 2022 open call for proposals is still ongoing and no funding decisions have been made, the department cannot disclose information on the applications that were received. On February 6, 2023, the department sent an email to all applicants that applied under the 2022 open call for proposals to inform organizations of the delay and indicate that they will be informed as soon as funding decisions have been made.
With regard to part (e), Employment and Social Development Canada, or ESDC, shares information related to successful applicants in a funding process, which is like a call for proposals, on the proactive disclosure website, found at https://search.open.canada.ca/grants/. ESDC cannot share information on unsuccessful funding applicants with third parties, including members of Parliament.
With regard to part (f), to date, $410 million has been invested in 21 projects through the sectoral workforce solutions program to help key sectors of the economy implement solutions that address their current and emerging workforce needs.Question No. 1305—Ms. Michelle Ferreri
With regard to the monitoring of social media accounts of opposition members of Parliament by officials at Health Canada: (a) how many bureaucrats are currently assigned, as part of their job, to monitor these social media accounts; (b) which member's accounts do they monitor; and (c) what are the details of how they were assigned to monitor such accounts, including who issued the directive or assignment to monitor the accounts and on what date?Mr. Adam van Koeverden (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health and to the Minister of Sport, Lib.)
Mr. Speaker, while the communications and public affairs branch, or CPAB, does monitor social media for health-related issues and topics, the monitoring of specific social media accounts of opposition members of Parliament by officials is not part of the mandate of CPAB. As a result, CPAB concluded that producing a comprehensive response to this question would not be possible.Question No. 1308—Mr. Brian Masse
With regard to border crossings (land, bridge and tunnel) between Canada and the United States and the operations and facilities of the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA): (a) what is the cost of overall operations of the CBSA at each border crossing location; (b) what are the operating and maintenance costs for buildings and facilities used by the CBSA at each border crossing; (c) how is the cost to (i) operate CBSA services, (ii) maintain buildings that are used by the CBSA, at each border crossing location paid for and by whom; (d) are there any agreements or other mechanisms where (i) border crossings provide financial support or services free of charge to CBSA or other government entities, (ii) CBSA or other government entities provide financial support or services free of charge to the border crossing, including buildings and facilities, and, if so, what are the details of each instance; and (e) for the new Gordie Howe Bridge crossing, how are the services and buildings and facilities maintenance for the CBSA going to be paid for and by what mechanism, since it is the only public-private partnership border crossing owned by the federal government?Ms. Pam Damoff (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety, Lib.)
Mr. Speaker, with regard to part (a), the Canada Border Services Agency, or CBSA, is unable to respond to this question, as the agency’s financial systems do not track costs by individual border crossing.
With regard to part (b), the CBSA does not pay for the maintenance or operating costs for the ports of entry that are deemed legislated facilities provided by the owner of those facility under section 6 of the Customs Act. At these ports of entry, the CBSA is only responsible for providing border service officers and the CBSA’s operating equipment. The agency’s financial systems do not track costs by individual border crossing.
With regard to parts (c)(i) and (ii), the agency’s financial systems do not track costs by individual border crossing.
With regard to part (d)(i), the CBSA does not pay for the maintenance or operating costs for the ports of entry that are deemed legislated facilities, which are provided free of charge by the owner of those facility under the requirements set out in section 6 of the Customs Act and in the Health of Animals Act, Plant Protection Act, Quarantine Act and the immigration and refugee protection regulations. With regard to part (d)(ii), there is an arrangement between The Federal Bridge Corporation Limited and the CBSA for the provision of facilities at the Cornwall port of entry.
With regard to part (e), under section 6 of the Customs Act, the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority, or WBDA, is the responsible entity, which is required to provide the buildings and facilities for the CBSA. Questions on the facility and funding should be directed to the WDBA. Question No. 1310—Mr. Richard Martel
With regard to what will happen following the coming into force of Bill C-208, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (transfer of small business or family farm or fishing corporation), from the 43rd Parliament: (a) when will the government set a coming into force date for the new act; (b) as of what date will transactions be affected by this act; (c) what directives is the government issuing for accountants and other individuals affected by the new act regarding the (i) time when this act must start being applied, (ii) way in which to interpret this act; and (d) how will the act be applied to transactions that begin before the coming into force date, but are not concluded until after the coming into force date?Hon. Chrystia Freeland (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Lib.)
Mr. Speaker, Bill C-208 has been in force since June 29, 2021. The Canada Revenue Agency published guidance on this matter on April 20, 2022.
Budget 2023 announced proposals to strengthen the intergenerational business transfer framework. Information about the timing and details of the proposed measures is publicly available in the budget’s supplementary information on tax measures in the 2023 budget plan, under the section “Strengthening the Intergenerational Business Transfer Framework”. These proposed measures would apply to transactions that occur after December 31, 2023. Transactions that occur after Bill C-208 came into effect and before 2024 would continue to be subject to the rules introduced by Bill C-208.Question No. 1313—Mr. John Nater
With regard to the Prime Minister's comments on February 23, 2023, that "there are so many inaccuracies in those leaks" in reference to recent media stories about election interference: (a) what specific information reported in the stories is inaccurate; and (b) what proof, if any, does the Prime Minister have that the information cited in (a) is inaccurate?Mr. Greg Fergus (Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and to the President of the Treasury Board), Lib.)
Mr. Speaker, the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics, or ETHI, and the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, or PROC, are currently studying the issue of foreign election interference. It would be appropriate to note the testimony from the national security and intelligence adviser, or NSIA, during her appearance on March 1, 2023, at PROC and at the Standing Committee on National Defence, or NDDN, on December 8, 2022, during which the NSIA said, “We have not seen money going to 11 candidates”.
As previously announced, the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians, or NSICOP, will complete a review to assess the state of foreign interference in federal electoral processes.
The National Security and Intelligence Review Agency, or NSIRA, will review how Canada’s national security agencies handled the threat of foreign interference during the 43rd and 44th federal general elections.
Additionally, an independent special rapporteur has been mandated to identify any outstanding issues requiring attention, recommend any additional mechanisms or transparent processes and identify innovative approaches and improvements in the way public agencies work together to combat foreign interference in our electoral processes.Question No. 1315—Mr. Andrew Scheer
With regard to foreign diplomats interfering in Canadian elections, since January 1, 2016: how many foreign diplomats have been expelled or had their credentials revoked as a result of interference or suspected interference in Canadian elections, broken down by year and by the country represented by the diplomat?Mr. Robert Oliphant (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.)
Mr. Speaker, Canada expects all foreign representatives to exercise their functions in keeping with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, or VCDR, and the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, or VCCR, including respecting applicable Canadian laws and regulations and avoiding interference in internal affairs. The context for a decision to declare a foreign representative persona non grata, under either article 9 of the VCDR or article 23 of the VCCR, varies from case to case, and each decision would be based on specific circumstances. The Vienna conventions provide that the receiving state, which is Canada, does not have to explain its decision to the sending state. In order to protect this prerogative, data with respect to the concerns giving rise to persona non grata declarations cannot be disclosed.
Mr. Speaker, if the government's responses to Questions Nos. 1302, 1303, 1306, 1307, 1309, 1311, 1312 and 1314 could be made orders for return, these returns would be tabled immediately.
Some hon. members: Agreed.
Question No. 1302—Mr. Blake Richards
With regard to vacancy rates in government owned office buildings in the National Capital Region with over 100,000 square feet of office space, broken down by building: what is the (i) name, (ii) location, (iii) total square footage, (iv) total square footage of usable office space, (v) current number of employees, (vi) square footage of occupied office space, (vii) square footage of vacant or unoccupied office space?
(Return tabled)Question No. 1303—Mr. Eric Melillo
With regard to the processing of requests made under the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act: (a) what is the policy or standard practice, broken down by department, agency, Crown corporation, or other government entity, with respect to consultations concerning personal or third-party information of former members of Parliament; (b) during the course of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police's processing of an access to information request related to their file on the Trudeau Report (A-2021-02029), why were consultations about the information of the former member for Thornhill, the Hon. Peter Kent, referred to the current member for Markham—Thornhill, the Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development; and (c) on what date was the Privacy Commissioner of Canada informed about the incident in (b)?
(Return tabled)Question No. 1306—Mr. Colin Carrie
With regard to gloves in the National Emergency Strategic Stockpile (NESS) which are manufactured by Sinopharm International Corporation and its subsidiaries, since November 2019: (a) how many units of these gloves did the NESS, or its parent organization and procuring body, acquire, broken down by month; (b) how many units of these gloves did the NESS contain each month; and (c) how many units of these gloves were shipped to each provincial and territorial government, broken down by month, quarter and year?
(Return tabled)Question No. 1307—Mr. Robert Kitchen
With regard to the National Housing Council, since its creation: (a) what was the council's annual budget and expenditures, broken down by year; (b) what is the breakdown of (a) by item and type of expenditure; (c) what were the locations of each council meeting, broken down by the meeting date; (d) for each year, what were the council's total expenditures on (i) travel, (ii) hospitality; and (e) how is the council composed, including (i) how the members and the chairs of the council are chosen, (ii) the number of members, (iii) the financial compensation rates, including annual amounts and per diem rates, if applicable?
(Return tabled)Question No. 1309—Ms. Jenny Kwan
With regard to the processing of immigration applications at Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, for all streams, broken down by stream and by country of origin: (a) what are the current application processing service standards; (b) what are the actual current application processing times; (c) what percentage of applications are meeting the processing service standards; (d) where standards are not being met, what efforts are being undertaken by the department to improve processing times; (e) what are the acceptance and refusal rates; (f) what accounts for discrepancies in acceptance rates and processing times across geographic regions; and (g) how many applications are currently in the backlog and how long have these applications been in the system?
(Return tabled)Question No. 1311—Mr. Arnold Viersen
With regard to the report that Employment and Social Development Canada provided to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) on November 5, 2021, concerning allegations of forced labour within the supply chains for the production of personal protective equipment: (a) what specific allegations were contained in the report; (b) what is the summary of the report; (c) what is the website link where the report is available; and (d) what actions did the CBSA take in response to the report, broken down by the date the actions were taken?
(Return tabled)Question No. 1312—Mr. Rob Morrison
With regard to the government's plan to increase the tax on alcohol as of April 1, 2023: has Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada or Pacific Economic Development Canada conducted any analysis on the negative impacts this increase will have on British Columbia wineries, and, if so, what are the details, including the findings?
(Return tabled)Question No. 1314—Mr. Tony Baldinelli
With regard to the government's plan to increase the tax on alcohol as of April 1, 2023: has Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada or the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario conducted any analysis on the negative impacts this increase will have on Niagara wineries, and, if so, what are the details, including the findings?
Mr. Speaker, I ask that all remaining questions be allowed to stand.
The Speaker: Is that agreed?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
The House resumed from April 24 consideration of the motion that Bill , be read the second time and referred to a committee, and of the amendment.
Mr. Speaker, as always, it is a privilege to rise in the House on behalf of my constituents in Vaudreuil—Soulanges to speak to budget 2023, “A Made-in-Canada Plan”, tabled by the hon. .
This budget reflects the global challenges we are facing as Canadians. It is a prudent, responsible and considered budget.
We must invest in the future of this incredible country that we are fortunate to call home and in the well-being of individuals, workers and families. We must invest in the green transition and in the cleaner and more prosperous economy of the future.
For the members of my community of Vaudreuil—Soulanges and for individuals and families across Canada, this budget is the next step towards a better future in which more Canadians will be able to find meaningful employment and live in an environment with better protection that will be enjoyed by future generations.
It comes at a time when the strength, resilience and perseverance of Canadians are once again on full display, because even with the immense challenges we have experienced over recent years, business owners and entrepreneurs have created over 865,000 more jobs for Canadians. Canada's debt-to-GDP ratio remains the best of all G7 member countries, and the Bank of Canada has projected that Canada's inflation rate should drop below 3% by the end of the year. Even while the economy has grown, Canada's annual report on emissions shows an 8.4% reduction in emissions since 2005. This is proof that, by working together, we as Canadians can meet any challenge we face, and through smart policies implemented over the last seven years, the Government of Canada can be there to support Canadians along the way.
In my remarks today, I would like to speak to three main components of this budget that would continue to respond to the needs of Canadians and build a better, stronger Canada: first, the strengthening of Canada's national health care system and the expansion of the national dental care; second, a grocery rebate for Canadians when they need it most; and finally, the unprecedented investment toward building a greener economy.
First, budget 2023 would address one of the biggest challenges we face as a nation and one that has been highlighted by the pandemic: the need to strengthen and renew our universal public health care system. That is why budget 2023 would commit Canada to delivering $198.3 billion to reduce backlogs, expand access to family health services and ensure that provinces and territories can provide quality health care to Canadians while also ensuring greater transparency and accountability.
Budget 2023 would also provide the funding necessary to deliver on our promise to expand national dental care, an investment that would ensure that up to nine million Canadians who need it most will receive the dental care they need. In 2021, I had the honour of meeting several incredible volunteer dental hygienists in the city of Pincourt, in my community of Vaudreuil—Soulanges, where they were holding one of their mobile clinics offering free preventative oral care. They highlighted the necessity of greater access to dental care for Canadians and stressed that, by bolstering preventative oral care, Canada could reduce avoidable health care costs at our hospitals. This sentiment was one shared by members of my seniors committee, who spoke to their experiences and those of their loved ones who have had limited access to dental care due to budget constraints. It is also what I have heard time and again from struggling parents in my community who have no dental coverage through work, and whose children have had to wait years between visits to the dentist, if they have ever gone at all.
This budget would ensure that, by the end of 2023, dental care would be available for seniors, youth under the age of 18 and Canadians with disabilities with household incomes below $90,000. This budget says, loud and clear, that when a child smiles in my community or any community represented by any member of the House, it is no longer acceptable to be able to gauge the income of parents based on the smile of their child.
The new grocery rebate is another key component of the budget that will make food bills more affordable. Over the past year, food prices have skyrocketed around the world, and Canada is no exception.
As a result, families have no other choice but to spend more on groceries every week. To help them, and to help 11 million families across Canada, we will be giving eligible couples with two children up to $467 more, single Canadians with no children up to $234 more, and seniors up to $225 more, on average. This is a $2.5-billion investment in Canadians’ well-being that will be appreciated by seniors, parents and workers in my community, Vaudreuil—Soulanges, who need it the most.
The third component I would like to address is the ongoing commitment in the budget to build a green and prosperous Canadian economy for the future. In my community, we will support not only a prosperous economy, but also a healthy environment. In Vaudreuil—Soulanges, we are blessed with magnificent landscapes and the daily benefits of our environmental wealth. A great many collective memories in our community are forged in the nature that surrounds us, as we enjoy snowshoeing on the trails in Saint-Lazare, kayaking in Vaudreuil-Dorion Bay, hiking on Mont Rigaud, cycling on the Soulanges Canal, or even picnicking at Pointe-du-Moulin in Notre-Dame-de-l'Île-Perrot.
I am extremely proud of the work we have done to enhance our environmental protection measures and of our government’s ongoing efforts to fight climate change. The 2023 budget delivers on our promise to Canadians to build a greener Canada and makes great strides in the fight against climate change.
We are tackling climate change with a three-pronged approach: a prosperous energy sector, clean electricity and a clean economy. Overall, we allocated $88 billion in new investments between now and 2035. This means more money for greener electricity and associated infrastructure in order to create an affordable, sustainable and reliable Canada-wide electrical grid, increase battery manufacturing, reduce taxes for the manufacturing of zero-emission technologies, and provide more support for workers in the clean economy sector.
The results of these investments are already being felt. Recent reports show that Canada has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 8.4% over 2005.
Finally, I would like to speak to a specific component of this budget to help Canadians reduce waste and save money.
More electronic devices in our society means more chargers of all shapes and sizes piling up in our homes and our offices, burdening all Canadians with additional costs and contributing to thousands of tonnes of electronic waste every year. This January, I launched a campaign within my Liberal caucus to have Canada commit to joining the European Union in mandating USB-C universal charging by 2024. After productive discussions with the and her team, securing the support of the and Liberal caucus members, I was truly happy to see that budget 2023 would commit Canada to working with partners and stakeholders to explore implementing a standard charging port in Canada for small electronic devices and laptops as well.
Adding to the success already realized through the government's ban on select single-use plastics, the implementation of universal chargers in Canada would be a practical way to not only reduce waste but also keep more money in the pockets of Canadians. I look forward to helping this move forward in the months and years ahead.
For these reasons and many more, and on behalf of the community of Vaudreuil—Soulanges, I fully support passing the 2023 budget in the House. I will be voting in favour of this budget, and I hope that my colleagues from all parties will also voice their support.
Madam Speaker, I am happy to learn who this budget was meant for. Now I understand that it was meant for the citizens of Vaudreuil—Soulanges. I am happy to have heard my colleague’s speech.
I invite the citizens of Vaudreuil—Soulanges to read the budget carefully and consider what the government means when it speaks of the environment, because the Liberals are still in favour of carbon capture and storage as a means of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. With regard to dental care, I also invite my colleague’s constituents to note that there is already a dental program in Quebec.
The question I would like to ask my colleague from Vaudreuil—Soulanges concerns the Liberals’ commitment to make federal services more efficient. In 2022, money was set aside for this in the budget. This year, the Liberals committed to improving federal services and making them more efficient.
I would like to know how that is going so far.
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to announce to the House and to my constituents in Vaudreuil—Soulanges that I will be giving them the opportunity to ask a few questions. I will be holding a town hall with my constituents in the coming weeks here in Ottawa, virtually and in my community.
I look forward to answering their questions in person and explaining how the 2023 budget will help them and their families in the years ahead.
Madam Speaker, the member opposite talked quite a bit about affordability and its importance in his speech, but the budget really does the opposite of addressing affordability. It adds billions of dollars of debt, which is going to drive up inflation. It adds new taxes, especially the carbon tax, which is going to make the costs of gas, groceries and home heating more expensive.
My question for the member opposite is simply this: If he is so concerned about affordability, why does the budget make life more unaffordable for Canadians?
Madam Speaker, one thing I will say is that we differ on the definition of affordability. On this side of the House, we like to provide more support for Canadians when they need it the most. On that side of the House, they like to vote against all the measures we are putting in place, including the Canada child benefit and child care.
In the budget, we put money toward helping Canadians pay for grocery bills, which the Conservatives are voting against. We have money for dental care, which will put hundreds of dollars, if not thousands of dollars, back in the pockets of seniors, youth under the age of 18 and those with disabilities. The Conservatives are voting against it.
We have a different understanding of what affordability is, and it is a shame that the other party will be voting against all these measures.
Madam Speaker, the New Democrats have spent a lot of time working with energy workers and those who are trying to see a move toward a clean-tech economy. We have heard a lot of promises in the budget, but I cannot go back to workers in Windsor or Fort Mac without a legislative framework and tell them to trust the government. A legislative framework is needed.
They are talking about a sustainable job secretariat. Where is it? When they talk about a sustainable jobs partnership council, is this going to be legislated? I cannot go back to workers and say, “Hey, trust 'em. It's going to happen somehow. It's somewhere in the budget.”
Will the government commit to putting those key elements into legislation with rights for workers to guarantee that we move toward a clean-tech economy with well-paying union jobs?
Madam Speaker, I know this is an issue that is extremely important to my colleague. It is one that is important to me. I spent 10 years in the environmental field prior to entering politics. For me, the proof is in the pudding.
We have been fighting for record investments in transitioning towards a green economy. This budget alone commits $88 billion to make that happen. It means more charging stations across the country. It means continuing to fund the subsidies, the incentives to buy electric vehicles. It means investments of $13 billion in bringing the factories that are going to produce the next-generation batteries for electric vehicles to Canada.
This is what we have been waiting for as environmentalists, as people who have been fighting for this for decades. It is finally here. It is paying off, and we are going to continue to invest in a transition towards a greener economy.
Madam Speaker, respectfully, I would put forward that what we have been waiting for as environmentalists is to stop subsidizing fossil fuels. I respect what this member has done before being elected and while elected to work toward that. However, there are still four new subsidies in the midst of a climate crisis, totalling over $3.3 billion in this budget.
What is he going to do to put pressure to put an end to that?
Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my hon. colleague for his commitment and dedication to the environment even prior to entering politics.
I would say that this budget continues along our promise to reduce our subsidies to the fossil fuel sector by 2025. It is a commitment that we made. It is one that I will be pushing for continuously behind the scenes, with many members of our caucus, to ensure that we meet this promise. I too want to be able to look my constituents in the eye and say that we kept that promise.
Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with my colleague and friend from .
It is always an honour to rise in this place. Today, I speak in response to another Liberal budget failure. Budget 2023 and the budget implementation bill do not work for the people who do the work. More will be spent, but Canadians will actually get less. During a time when Canadians are finding it harder and harder to make ends meet, the and the just made things a lot worse. I will explain how that came about.
Conservatives had these three clear demands for the budget: lowering taxes on workers, including scrapping the carbon tax; ending the inflationary deficits and wasteful spending that is creating the cost of living crisis, plus driving up inflation; and building more affordable homes for Canadians. In other words, Canadians believe that Canada should work for the people who have done the work.
However, the budget meets none of our demands. Instead, what the and the presented were more Liberal tax hikes, more deficits and more inflationary spending. The budget includes billions of dollars of new inflationary debt and taxes.
I surveyed individuals, businesses and municipalities in my riding to better understand how the cost of living crisis has been impacting them financially. Seventy per cent of Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner residents who participated in the survey do not believe that Canada's economic situation will improve in 2023. In fact, 70% of respondents expect that their personal financial situation will be the same as or worse than it was in 2022. Overall, they have no faith in the Liberal government's ability to offer hope for their financial stability or future prosperity.
Maybe this is why: In budget 2023, tax revenue has increased a whopping 92% from 2015 and now sits at $261 billion more than the last time Conservatives put forward a budget. It is no wonder taxes are so high. Spending is up to $456 billion from $280 billion in 2015. That is a 63% increase in just seven years. Low-income and working-class people will suffer the most because of the Liberal deficits and inflation. In fact, this budget will add about $4,200 per family in new government spending, with taxpayers left holding the bag.
While we are on the topic of bags Canadians cannot afford to be holding, we can talk about grocery bags. The wasteful spending of the Liberals has caused the cost of food and groceries to skyrocket. Their so-called grocery rebate is actually a GST rebate. It is really just lipstick on a pig. It will provide a meagre $234 for a single adult and $467 for a family. This does little to cover the rising cost of food that the Liberals' own inflationary deficits and wasteful spending have helped to create.
What is worse is that the Liberals think that they are helping, but as we all know, “Canada's Food Price Report 2023” predicts that a family of four will actually spend nearly $1,100 more on food this year alone. Anyone who has been to a grocery store lately will know that this is not even the worst of it. The small one-time Liberal payoff is lost in the inflation and ever-increasing carbon tax.
Speaking of taxes, the Liberals raised payroll taxes on workers and small businesses in January of this year. A worker making about $66,000 a year will be forced to pay an extra $255 to the mandatory Canada pension plan and an extra $50 for employment insurance tax. That is a $305 increase per worker, meaning that, in a family with two working parents, the parents will be required to spend over $600 in new taxes right off the top of their paycheques. There is also a cost per business. With so many new taxes and existing tax increases, 86% of the people in my riding believe this will make life much more difficult.
That leads me to the carbon tax. We know that the carbon tax, as has been shown, does nothing to protect the environment. Rather, it simply drains the pocketbooks of Canadians, who are just trying to heat their homes, get to work and drive their kids to events.
Of people polled in my riding, 78% supported the removal of the carbon tax. Of businesses that responded to my survey, 100% indicated that the carbon tax was having a negative impact on their business.
What did the Liberals do? They increased the carbon tax on April 1, making it even more expensive for Canadians who are already struggling with the rising cost of living. The Liberals and their NDP coalition are completely out of touch.
The Parliamentary Budget Officer has indicated that the carbon tax will cost the average family as much as $847 more than the rebates they will receive in 2023. Canadians cannot afford that.
Speaking of things we cannot afford, the has spent more and added more national debt than all prime ministers in Canada's history combined. Even worse, he has no plan to balance the budget and control his inflationary deficits, which are driving up the costs of the food we buy, the goods we buy and the interest we pay. This is at a time when 50% of the municipalities in my riding are looking to the government to focus on reducing inflation.
Canada's federal debt for the 2023-24 fiscal year is projected to reach $1.22 trillion. That is nearly $81,000 per household. Moreover, in Canada's budget projections, there is neither a path to balance nor a plan to pay back the debt. This alone is a cause of the inflation and cost of living crisis that my constituents and all Canadians are facing.
The members opposite need to hear that 75% of the people in my constituency who responded to our survey said that the biggest issue they are facing is the cost of living. The second-largest issue is health care, and that was at 9%. That is the impact this cost of living issue is having on my riding.
There we have it. There is $43 billion in new debt, and nothing in the budget for working Canadians except new taxes.
It will not be the paying back the debt. He has no plans to do that any time in the foreseeable future. The Canadian taxpayers will be left holding the bag again.
Canadians need a government that will make life more affordable for them, and the Conservatives are the only ones willing or even able to do that. After the election, when the Conservatives win a majority, we will lower taxes on workers. We will scrap the carbon tax and end the inflationary deficits and wasteful spending that are driving up inflation. We will build more affordable homes for Canadians. We will fix the damage the Liberals and the costly NDP coalition have caused and get back to common-sense solutions that work for Canadians who do the work.
Madam Speaker, this budget builds on the actions taken over the years to support vulnerable Canadians. It also builds on such actions as investing $1.2 billion into artificial intelligence, quantum computing, other advanced technologies and the critical minerals strategy, which was strengthened by the critical minerals infrastructure fund last year. In this budget, we have invested $1.2 billion into space technologies.
What is the hon. member's reaction or opinion on the investments the current budget is making into the technologies of tomorrow so that we can secure a place at the forefront of the advanced technologies in the world?
Madam Speaker, of course, any government needs to be continuing to plan for our future, build infrastructure and plan for where technology is taking us. However, I look back to what my constituents have told me in a recent survey we finished in March, in anticipation of what the budget could be.
We asked what the government should focus on to support long-term economic growth and job creation. Here is what they told me: The number one thing my constituents said, at 21%, is that we need the natural resources and energy sector. Number two was agriculture, number three was small business, number four was manufacturing and number five was new technologies. There was then a three-way tie among tourism and hospitality, the service sector, and green technology and renewables. My constituents have made it very clear what they expect from the government.
Madam Speaker, in his speech, my colleague pointed out that taxpayers will be paying about $50 more into the EI system.
Personally, I do not mind paying more to help others when it fulfills a need. However, I see two problems when people are paying more but the system does not work and has yet to be improved, despite the promises made. Even now, only 40% of people who lose their jobs qualify for EI.
Could my colleague talk about this sort of dichotomy that exists when contributions increase but services do not?
Madam Speaker, I agree that there is frustration in the workplace with increased taxes, but, like my friend, most Canadians do not mind paying for protection for if they lose their job. However, the fight we have as Conservatives, and what my constituents are really against, is that it is coming at a time when they are struggling. Businesses are closing in my riding. Business owners are saying they do not know whether they are going to make it through 2023. All these added costs for the workplace, employers and employees are, at this time, inappropriate.
Madam Speaker, I was really struck by my hon. colleague talking about taxpayers being left to hold the bag. Let us talk about the bag that taxpayers have to hold for the 's digs.
It is a 19-room house at 9,500 square feet. He has a private chef and servants. Who is paying for that? It is not him. It is the taxpayers. There are two water metres at his house. One bill was $4,107 in April, and then there was a bill for $7,556 in June. What is this guy doing with all that water? There has been $1.4 million in repairs over 10 years, but then it costs $170,000 a year just to keep it clean for him. Let us not even talk about if someone gets invited to his summer parties.
Canadians cannot afford this guy, and he has the gall to tell senior citizens that they should not be able to get free dental care. I am not buying that.
Madam Speaker, I did not hear a question. It seems that the NDP coalition supports the government. I am sure Tommy Douglas and Jack Layton are turning in their graves.
Madam Speaker, it is always a pleasure to rise in the House to speak on behalf of the wonderful citizens of Calgary Midnapore.
On March 28 of this year, the said, “I have never been more optimistic about the future of our country than I am today.”She said, “Budget 2023 will deliver new, targeted inflation relief for the Canadians who need it most; stronger public health care, including dental care for millions of Canadians; and significant investments to build Canada’s clean economy. At a challenging time in a challenging world, there is no better place to be than Canada.
The budget is supposed to be about finance and numbers, yet something does not add up. If there is no better time to be in Canada than now, then why can Canadians not afford to eat? Justin Trudeau's inflationary spending has caused the—
The member knows that we cannot use the names of current members of the House. This is not a new rule.
Madam Speaker, the 's inflationary spending has caused the cost of food and groceries to skyrocket. One in five Canadians are skipping meals. People are now going to food banks and asking for help to end their lives, not because they are sick, but because they cannot afford to eat.
This government's rebate will give $234 for a single adult to cover the rising cost of food, which its inflationary deficits helped to cause. Canada's Food Price Report 2023 predicts that a family of four will spend up to $1,065 more on food this year, which is $598 more than the $467 rebate they will receive. At a $305 increase, the 's grocery rebate just gives money back to Canadians that the government had clawed away from them with its tax increases. It will not solve the cost of living crisis for many struggling Canadians who are already over the edge.
Finally, the Liberal government is still raising taxes on restaurants and breweries already struggling to survive by increasing the excise tax on alcohol by 2% of the expected 6.3%. This temporary cap in the increase of the excise tax on alcohol is only for one year, but I am sure we will see that it will continue.
If this is such a great time to be in Canada, then why is there a disincentive to work? Why is there a disincentive to start a small business? Why is that so? It is because, just this year, the raised payroll taxes on workers and small businesses, and now a worker making above $60,600 will be forced to pay an extra $255 through the mandatory Canada pension plan, according to the CTF. This worker will also have to pay an extra $50 through employment insurance tax, which is a $305 increase. The grocery rebate, once again, gives back to Canadians what has already been clawed away. In addition to being a difficult time for Canadians, it is also a difficult time for workers to be incentivized and for Canadians to want to start a business.
I come from a small business family. I recall my dad saying to me in our store, “Don't give that bag if you don't have to because it cost 10¢.” That is how concerned we were about money at the time, and there was tension around the dinner table. This government's legislation is not helping that, and certainly not this budget.
If this is a great time, and there is no better place to be than Canada, why are Canadians stressed about getting to work or getting their kids to school? Why are people who just want to be warm called polluters That is what is happening. The 's carbon tax will increase to 14¢ per litre, which it did on April 1, making it more expensive for Canadians to heat their homes and get to work. As well, by 2030, the Prime Minister's two carbon taxes could add up to 50¢ per litre to the price of gasoline.
If there is no better better place to be than Canada, then why do Canadians have to give so much back to the government to get so little back? The Parliamentary Budget Officer himself showed that the carbon tax will cost the average family between $402 and $847 in 2023, even after the rebates. How can the possibly say that there is no better plan to be than Canada?
If there is no better place to be than Canada, then why can Canadians not afford a home? The dream of home ownership has died for young and new Canadians under the Prime Minister. Nine out of 10 people who do not own home say that they never will. The down payment needed to buy a house has now doubled, and the minimum down payment on an average housing has gone from $22,000 to $45,000 across Canada.
Average mortgage and rent payments have nearly doubled since our recent took office. Then, the average monthly payment on a new house was $1,400, and today it has gone up to over $3,100. In 2015, the average rent in Canada for a one-bedroom apartment was $973, and today it is $1,760. The average rent in Canada for a two-bedroom apartment was $1,172, and today it is $2,153.
When the took office, people needed only 39% of an average paycheque to make monthly payments on the average house. That number has risen to 62%. By every objective measure, things are more expensive and Canadians are taking home less, but “there is no better place to be than Canada.”
In the weeks leading up to the release of budget 2023, the Liberal government signalled an intent to rein in its spending. In fact, the made this promise to Canadians. She said, “that is one of our primary goals in this year’s budget: not to pour fuel on the fire of inflation. So...we will exercise fiscal restraint.” The government has done anything but exercise fiscal restraint.
When I was young, I was told that a budget worked like this: We bring home this much money. We spend this much money. We have this much money left. We knew, and we know, budgets do not balance themselves. The , the and government have yet to learn that. In this budget we see that the Prime Minister has added more debt than all other prime ministers combined, and he has no plan to balance the budget and control his inflationary deficits, which are driving up the cost of the goods we buy and the interest we pay.
Canada's federal debt for the 2023-24 fiscal year is projected to be $1.22 trillion. That is nearly $81,000 per household in Canada. There is no path to balance the budget in the current government's projections. The deficit for 2022-23 is up to $43 billion, and in 2023-24, the deficit is projected to be $40.1 billion. The fall economic statement projected a $4.5-billion surplus in 2027-28, and budget 2023 now projects a $14-billion deficit in 2027-28, which is as far as the projections go.
I started this speech by saying that on March 28, the said, “there is no better place to be than Canada”, but why can Canadians not afford to eat? Why is work disincentivized? Why is gas so expensive? Why must we pay such high taxes? Why can no one afford a home?
The government simply cannot manage the books. This does not add up.
Madam Speaker, Canada's prosperity has been built on natural resources such oil, gas, minerals, metals, forestry products, and the hard work of several generations of Canadians, including current day seniors.
Another natural resource that is opening up for our future economic growth is the entire food chain of critical minerals, from mining and processing and conversion, to their use in the manufacture of batteries in electric vehicles and everything that is coming up.
I would like to ask the member about her comment on the tax credit that has been given in this budget to attract investments into clean electricity, clean hydrogen and clean manufacturing.
Madam Speaker, while we always need to look forward to the future, I think it is very important that we also stay focused on the present and what Canadians and the world need. We have had other nations ask us for our oil and gas, and we have turned them away. It is always very important to think about the future, but I also think we need to focus on what we have and need now.
Madam Speaker, even though I do not entirely agree with my colleague's analysis, there is something I will agree with. I agree that workers are struggling at work and I also agree that in other regions of Canada and Quebec there are workers in situations where they lose their job and the EI program does not cover them or just leaves them behind. EI is being referred to as a payroll tax.
Does she not think that, as part of government spending, it would have been important to increase the minimum wage, enhance the employment insurance program and come up with good anti-scab legislation, which does not exist in Canada and denies workers' rights? Is that part of the programs your party is in favour of?
My party is not in favour of anything.
The hon. member for Calgary Midnapore.
Madam Speaker, first, I would like to thank the Bloc Québécois for its Bill , which is currently before the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates.
Of course we agree that workers' rights are important. I think that we can also agree that the government and the are to blame for the current strike.
Based on the questions I got, it is clear that we agree on a lot of things concerning workers' rights and the government's responsibility.
Madam Speaker, we know, with housing, that we are not going to be able to deal with the housing crisis unless we start curtailing inflationary investor activity. The Conservatives are doing a lot of talk about giving money to developers, but we know that developers are not known for social enterprise or for helping out folks; in fact, they are for lining their pockets. Therefore, I wonder why the Conservatives are focusing on municipal permitting when there are so many private sector investors who are responsible for the current housing crisis.
Madam Speaker, we have expressed continually, both in our platform and in our policy, that we are for supply at all levels of the spectrum and with all players of society. Certainly, while these non-governmental entities are important, we also need to work with developers as well.
Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for .
I am very happy to rise today to talk about Bill , and other measures.
With our made-in Canada plan, the 2023 budget will put money in the pockets of Canadians, helping them meet the challenges of today and tomorrow while building a safer, more sustainable and affordable Canada for Canadians across the country.
The key measures of the budget implementation act include providing for automatic advance payments of the Canada workers benefit; doubling the tradespeople’s tools deduction; enhancing registered education savings plans; banning animal testing in the cosmetics industry; strengthening Canada’s supply chains and trade corridors; and, among other things, continuing our efforts to support Ukraine by taking action against Russia.
Once again, our government has introduced a responsible and inclusive budget. It is a budget that is responsive to the needs of all Canadians. It is a budget that takes into account the climate emergency and the need to take action today to guarantee the future of our children and grandchildren.
I am pleased to see that the budget will improve the lives of Canadians across the country. In particular, there is the new grocery rebate, which will put up to an extra $467 in the pockets of eligible families of four so that they can continue to eat properly. This new rebate will help 11 million Canadians who need it the most.
This measure is in addition to the relief we quickly put in place last year, including doubling the GST credit, which is highly appreciated; introducing a new quarterly benefit for Canadian workers of up to $2,400 for low-income families and families earning minimum wage; providing a $500 top-up to the Canada housing benefit for low-income renters; reducing child care costs across the country; providing the Canada child benefit, which amounts up to $7,000 this year; and introducing a climate action incentive to be paid into the bank accounts of eligible Canadians. These are examples of real measures aimed at supporting Canadian families.
What can I say about dental care costs? Thanks to our new program, we will have a direct impact on the health of Canadians of all ages. Although some here in the House still underestimate the importance of good dental health, we are aware of the positive impact it has on people’s lives. Good teeth help build self-esteem. A nice smile is always the best calling card.
Oral medicine tells us that some dental and periodontal diseases can have broader consequences such as cardiovascular and lung problems, digestive disorders, and pregnancy- and diabetes-related complications, among others. This program shows that we can do a lot for Canadians when we decide to work together toward a common goal.
Back home in Châteauguay—Lacolle, more than 330 children under the age of 12 have already benefited from the expansion of the program in Quebec. We also want to work with the Quebec government to improve access to dental care for other vulnerable populations.
The 2023 budget proposes other important measures to help Canadians financially. In particular, it cracks down on junk fees, including unexpected, hidden and additional fees, to continue to ensure that businesses are transparent with prices and to make life more affordable for Canadians. The budget also proposes automatic tax filing for low-income Canadians so that more people can have access to all the benefits and support to which they are entitled.
Let us talk about two measures in Bill that are extremely relevant for citizens in my riding of Châteauguay—Lacolle. The first is the doubling of the tradespeople’s tools deduction. This increase in the maximum deduction for tradespeople’s tools from $500 to $1,000 is very important as a support to tradespeople. We need to encourage our contractors and subcontractors so that they can build and renovate houses and commercial buildings. This deduction offsets the increase in the cost of tools and represents our recognition of the importance of tradespeople’s work.
The second measure is the automatic advance payment of the Canada workers benefit. We propose automatic advance payments of the Canada workers benefit for workers who were entitled to the payment the previous year, starting in July 2023 for the 2023 tax year. It is very important to help workers with their current cash flow before next year’s tax season. Workers will receive a minimum entitlement for the year through advance payments based on the income reported in their tax return for the previous year, and any additional entitlement for the year will be paid when they file their tax return for the current year. This measure This measure will provide, in three advance payments, up to $714 in total for a single worker and up to $1,231 in total for a family.
The 2023 budget invests in the future of Canadians, but it is also aimed at ensuring the future of the planet. Our made-in-Canada plan will make it possible to develop a clean economy, fight climate change and create quality jobs and careers for today and for future generations.
If I had the time, I could talk about the new tax credits for clean investments that will support Canadian companies that manufacture clean technologies, such as electric vehicles, or that process the critical minerals key to the manufacture of solar panels.
However, I will conclude by mentioning another very important measure in the budget implementation bill for Canadians, who are very concerned about animal welfare. I am talking about the measure prohibiting animal testing for cosmetics. This measure will amend the Food and Drugs Act to prohibit the testing of cosmetics on animals in Canada. It will also prohibit the sale of cosmetics relying on data derived from animal testing to establish the safety of the product, subject to certain exceptions. Lastly, it will prohibit deceptive or misleading labelling concerning animal testing for cosmetics.
Budget 2023 is a prudent and realistic budget. Bill will help ensure that we continue to make progress on things that matter to Canadians, namely, building a clean, healthy economy that can bring prosperity, middle-class jobs and greater vibrancy to communities across the country. By focusing on a green, healthy and clean economy, the budget responds to the concerns of many Canadians, especially those in Châteauguay—Lacolle.
Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague, whose riding neighbours my own. We share the services of Anna-Laberge hospital, which is currently under expansion. This hospital is often cited in the news for its occupancy rates that are making life very difficult for both patients and staff. Most of the professionals who work there are really overloaded and need help.
The question I have for my colleague is very simple. Does she believe that what the provinces are being given for health and social services will really lighten the workload of professionals at Anna-Laberge hospital and reduce occupancy rates? Does she really think that the amount given by her government will improve the situation at Anna-Laberge hospital?
Madam Speaker, with more than $46 billion in health transfers, the provinces will be getting new money. I truly believe in the separate jurisdictions of the various levels of government. The province will be taking steps. The expansion of Anna-Laberge hospital is an example of how the Quebec health ministry takes the concerns of Quebeckers into account.
We will continue to work with all the provinces, but more directly with Quebec, to ensure that the public has all the care it needs and to meet the needs of the workers who supported it in difficult times.
Madam Speaker, we have heard from veterans about the gold-digger clause, which was implemented after World War I to prevent women from marrying veterans for their pensions and benefits. The Liberals promised to fix this. For eight years they have been in government. I know my colleague heard about this from veterans in her riding.
Blair Meadows, a veteran from Qualicum Beach in my riding, cited, “If I marry after the age of 60 and pass away before my spouse, she won't receive any of my benefits.” This 100-year-old law needs to be abolished. It is an archaic regulation that really needs to be fixed.
Does the member not agree that this is discriminatory against veterans, people who put their lives on the line, and leaves spouses in poverty? This is unacceptable. Does my colleague agree that this needs to be fixed by her government?
Madam Speaker, it is interesting that the question has to do with pension and pension regulation. I did dabble in this in my previous life. I agree that there are many pension agreements. As the hon. member no doubt knows, these pension agreements were made over time and they reflected the mores and norms at the time they were developed. Is it time to look at them again and modernize them? There are many pension agreements. I could go into more detail about the incompatibility of many pension agreements, but I will not go there. Definitely, it is valid concern and one that needs to be looked at.
Madam Speaker, someone was stabbed yesterday in my riding. Although it is too early to confirm whether mental illness was a factor, I wonder if my colleague could talk about how our integrated approach to improving mental health care, particularly with an investment totalling nearly $200 billion, will help people who need mental health support.
Madam Speaker, it is actually my colleague who is really the expert in this area, but I can confirm that my constituents certainly appreciate the investments that the federal government is making in mental health supports. Canadians really appreciate the additional resources.
Madam Speaker, I always find it such an incredible honour to rise on behalf of my constituents in London—Fanshawe and to be the voice for them in the House. I want to thank them for that opportunity, as always.
I also want to thank my constituency staff. They have been working so hard, helping thousands of people in London. We are in the middle of another successful tax clinic, which ensures that people have the free help they need to file their taxes. We are contacting folks to ensure they know about the additional money we secured for them in the housing benefit and the GST rebate.
We are helping people reunite with their families or to immigrate to our country, so they can contribute to the social and economic wealth that we have here. We are helping people to get their passports, or figure out their EI claims or their pensions, and so much more. I really want to thank them for all the work they do.
My constituents are doing what they can to navigate through the housing crisis, the labour shortage, inflation, the health care crisis and climate change. It is getting so much harder for people.
Now we have to throw on top of that the fact that the government has failed to negotiate a fair contract with public servants for two years. I am so worried about how my office will continue to help people, help my constituents, because the government has failed to ensure that those workers get a fair collective agreement.
I want to take a minute so the House can hear some of the voices of those folks in London who are on strike right now.
One said, “We really don't want to strike, but we have to because we're fighting for all workers' rights. Right now, with the cost of living and inflation, we're really falling behind.”
This is not a cushy job. Our average employee makes $35,000 to $65,000 a year. Many union members are single income earners. They have second jobs. One of their federal colleagues works in pizza delivery.
Mandy talked about the fact that so many of her colleagues had to use the food bank. They cannot afford to feed their families. They cannot afford child care. They cannot afford a roof over the head. Inflation is taking its toll. The strike is a last resort for them. She said, “None of us want to be on strike. We're here because we need to. We tried to raise our concerns, and they're not being heard.”
Chris, who has worked in the federal public service since 1985, said, “We don't get any respect. I just want to go home and cry at night because I've worked so long and so hard, given my whole life to working as a servant to the government. And when we want a raise, and they won't even talk about it.”
I am so proud of the work that my office does for constituents of London—Fanshawe. I am often frustrated by the things we cannot do. For all the successes we do get, we could not do it without those PSAC workers.
When I ran in 2019 and 2021, I promised my constituents, on their doorsteps, that I would fight for fairness and real solutions. Like those on strike with the PSAC, people in my riding just want fairness. They want a government that makes decisions with their best interests at heart and a government that does what it can, instead of having this incredible opportunity that it wastes. It makes decisions that keep itself in power or it helps those who already have so much power and wealth. It gives that power to them, not to everyone else.
My idea of a successful government is one that takes power that has been given to it in good faith by all people and redistributes it fairly to all people, that creates long-term solutions, that builds programs and that expands on supports.
When my caucus colleagues and I were elected, we were determined to deliver just that for people. Not being the government party is challenging, especially when I know that so much more could be accomplished. When we entered into the agreement with the current governing party to not cause an election in exchange for progress on a number of key policy areas, we did so because we needed to build something.
We have not gotten everything we need, and I reference this in terms of the budget. It is not an NDP budget. However, this budget includes initiatives that we think are really important, things that would not be there if New Democrats were not there.
First and foremost, of course, is dental care. This is a really important initiative that will allow millions of Canadians, who up until now have not been able to get their teeth fixed, that opportunity. We worked hard to ensure that by the end of this year, all children under the age of 18, all seniors and all people living with disabilities would finally get access to dental care. That has real consequences. It affects their ability to get and keep a job. It affects their sense of self-confidence in socializing with others. It affects the way that other people look at them. It prevents them from enduring constant pain and other long-term health problems.
A few weeks ago I was at the Wright Clinic in my riding of London—Fanshawe. The Wright Clinic is run by Dr. Ken Wright and a number of incredible people. They provide dental services at a low cost, or at no cost, because they know what that means to people in our community.
I met a woman who spoke to me about the fact that for over 10 years she had been screaming into her pillow because she could not deal with the pain. She could not study, she could not work and she could not focus. That pain took over her entire life. She found relief because of folks at the Wright Clinic, who do this incredible work. She found a new future.
A fellow who was also there talked about the fact that he could not keep a job because of the way he looked. He was able to get a brand new life because he had a brand new set of teeth. That is just incredible. Those are the things for which the New Democrats are fighting. The creation of this dental program has long-lasting benefits. That is the role of the government. It equalizes, it pulls people out of pain, it saves them money. Dental care is just one victory.
There are a lot of other victories that the NDP was able to get in this budget. I would love to talk about them, but I am sure you will cut me off, Madam Speaker.
I want to move on to discuss the biggest thing I see that is missing from this budget. Of course, that is housing. We all know that the housing market is out of control. In fact, housing has been made a commodity when it should be a human right.
In 2015, a house that sold for $150,000 in my neighbourhood in Pond Mills now sells for $400,000 today. In my neighbourhood, rents have soared by more than 25% over the past year. In March, rent for a one-bedroom unit was over $1,700, while rent for a two-bedroom unit was the average price of about $2,100. That is an increase of 27.3% or 24.3% from the year previous, respectively.
Sadly, we see very little in this budget around housing and solving that crisis. To be perfectly honest, I think that past governments, consecutive Liberal and Conservative, do not really want to address it. They do not see it as a problem they need to solve because they see the housing market as just that, a market. Except housing is actually a human right and requires government to invest in it. The trouble is that government has not invested in it directly. No government has directly built housing for over 30 years.
We now have the revamped national housing strategy introduced by the Liberal government, but that has a lot of problems, with a haphazard approach to the way we deal with affordable housing. It has placed a lot of hardships on the not-for-profit organizations that actually want to do that work.
In November 2022, the Office of the Auditor General released a report exposing all the major issues with the national housing strategy. Programs have not created the targeted number of units that are required and many of those are not what is deemed to be affordable. That is unacceptable.
This crisis needs a solution. We need to preserve affordable homes and we need to build them faster. The NDP has a plan for that, of course, and the government can take that great idea as it has taken so many.
The first steps we have to take are to preserve affordable housing and prevent renoviction. We need to create an affordable housing acquisition fund to allow not-for-profit housing providers to purchase affordable housing when they come on the market and to keep it permanently affordable and out of the hands of for-profit housing profiteers. We have to put a moratorium in place on the acquisition of affordable homes by housing profiteers, so not-for-profit housing providers do not have to compete with them.
Jack Layton was an inspiration for so many, and for me as well. I think of him as a parliamentarian. He always said that we needed to not just be an opposition party; we had to be a a party of proposition. We need those good ideas that we know work for people and put them in the hands of people. We have to ensure that those solutions go forward. Dental care and our housing plan are just two solid examples.
People are scared. London—Fanshawe folks talk to me all the time. They do not know how they are going to survive. Before the pandemic people were just getting by. They just had their heads above water; they were treading water. Now it feels like they are sinking further and further below that surface. People are lined up at food banks in record lineups. We have a generation that has given up on the dream of owning a home. People see the consequences of that.
There is a lot to be angry about, but at this time when there is so much division in our politics and everyday conversations, we need to find a way to work together. That is what we are trying to do here with the government. The New Democrats are working together and we are working to find that leadership and really good solutions for folks.
Madam Speaker, the hon. member mentioned her constituents in London and their concerns about health care. I agree. Health care is in crisis. All that Canadians should need for health care is their health card, not a credit card.
The budget will invest $198.3 billion in funding for the provinces and territories, including $46 billion more in additional funding. We want the provinces to use this funding to help access to family doctors, to reduce the backlogs, to support health care workers and to improve the mental health system.
I would like to know from the hon. member what she thinks about this additional new funding the federal government is providing to provinces and how best it can be used.
Madam Speaker, additional money is good. It is fine. It is a step. However, the money he talked about, the majority of it, was actually already calculated. The $46 billion extra has to be shared over 10 years over all the provinces and territories, so that is actually a drop in the bucket of what is required.
One of the things the New Democrats brought forward in an opposition day motion was to eliminate loopholes on privatization of health care, and that is one of the huge issues that is taking money away from people who need it within our health care sector. The government voted no.
Those are the major problems I see and the major problems we need to fix. We need action, not words.
Madam Speaker, the hon. member spoke about housing attainability and affordability. Other than the actual affordability of groceries, homes and all that, young people are despondent right now. They are not angry or upset. They feel like they have been lied to or let down by the government as it relates to their lives being better vis-à-vis housing affordability and attainability.
I am wondering what the hon. member would say to those young people, who are doing everything right. They have university educations and are getting good jobs. They cannot afford down payments or mortgage payments. Even if they had been able to, now with interest rates increasing, that affordability crisis has become even greater. I wonder what she would say to young people about what is going on right now.
Madam Speaker, I hear it too. Young folks in London—Fanshawe do not know where to turn, and there is a hopelessness around that. It is unfortunate. It used to be the federal government and provincial governments hand in hand would directly build housing, and since 1995 we are short about 15,000 to 20,000 affordable units built every year by governments. That consistent decision by federal and provincial governments not to build housing has created this crisis. We need to be able to directly and quickly build co-ops and not-for-profit housing centres, and have rent geared to income so we have that balance. We need to focus a lot less on developers and people who are making a ton of money off rental income for their benefit and are not being appropriately taxed. We need to put that back into the housing stock.
Madam Speaker, I, too, believe that social equity must be factored into a budget. What bothers me a little is that they are introducing programs that fall under Quebec's jurisdiction. That was also the case in the last budget.
Dental health is very important. It is part of a holistic approach to health. Consequently, in Quebec, children have preventative care because that is where it has the most impact.
Now, the government has decided to invest $13 billion in a program that the federal government is incapable of managing. It is not investing in federal social programs, such a those for seniors and the unemployed.
What does my colleague think of the issue of weakening social programs that—
I must give the hon. member for London—Fanshawe about 20 seconds to answer the question.
The hon. member has the floor.
Madam Speaker, it is important we recognize a lot of the good things that have been done across provinces, but it is not just children who need support with dental care. Everybody needs that support. Certainly, seniors in her riding I am sure need that support as well.
The interpretation does not seem to be working. Could the hon. member repeat her reply?
She now has 15 seconds left.
Madam Speaker, it is incredible some provinces are doing some of that work to support children with dental care, but I know a lot of seniors, and I am sure in her riding as well, need that support, as well as people living with disabilities. In fact, everybody needs it.
One of the key things the federal government needs to do is put forward those social programs to equalize and make—
The hon. member for Salaberry—Suroît.
Madam Speaker, I would like to inform you that I will be sharing my time with my dear colleague, the member for .
What is a budget implementation act? What are we doing right now? The government tabled a budget. In a budget, a government lays out the measures that it intends to take. To implement the measures set out in the budget, legislation must be tabled to execute what is stated in the budget.
I feel I ought to remind all those watching that the budget, which is very lengthy, held many disappointments for the Bloc Québécois. I would like to point them out because I care deeply about seniors, and there is nothing in the budget about them. Every time I organize events in my riding, seniors remind me that they feel like they have been forgotten by this government.
As well, there have been symposia, conferences and studies on the housing crisis. It is well documented that we are in the middle of a housing crisis, yet there are no specific measures in the budget to address that crisis.
Clearly, we are also a long way from the EI reform that the Liberal government has been promising since 2015. There is nothing in the budget on that.
There is also a major disappointment in terms of the environment. This budget still talks about carbon capture and storage, when we have known for many years that this technology is no good, that it is not ready and that it does not get the job done. In a way, the government is using this to ease its conscience with regard to the environment, but in reality, these are just backdoor subsidies for oil companies. Pretty much everyone knows it. By saying that it will fund research into carbon capture and storage, the government is trying to pull the wool over the public's eyes and ease its own conscience.
The funny thing is that, in 2008, when I was the Bloc Québécois critic for natural resources, I participated in a study on carbon capture and storage that reached the same conclusions as are being reached today. The same committee is still conducting studies, still documenting the issue of carbon capture and storage, and still reaching the same conclusions, namely that it is not really the best technology for reducing greenhouse gases. However, it allows the government to assuage its conscience, and in particular, it allows oil companies to feel like they are doing something for the environment.
However, I would like to talk about certain promises and principles that were in the budget but not in the budget implementation act.
I want to talk about the promise that the government made in the budget about anti-scab legislation. I believe that promise to pass anti-scab legislation is even part of the agreement between the Liberal Party and the NDP. I am talking about this because I know that my father René is watching right now. He is sort of the reason I am talking about anti-scab legislation, which is so important but which is absent from the budget implementation act. My father was a tradesman for much of his life. He was a union activist who unionized his workplace and always said that it was important to stand up for labourers' working conditions.
Today, there is nothing in the budget implementation act about anti-scab legislation, even though it would have been easy to include it. The budget implementation act is 430 pages long and amends 57 acts, in addition to the Income Tax Act. This lengthy bill also grants royal titles to Charles III. It is a really dense bill, but there is no mention anywhere of the possibility of us passing anti-scab legislation together. It would be very easy to do that, because the Bloc Québécois and the NDP agree. I would imagine the Liberals also agree, since it was mentioned in their budget. I do not understand why the government did not take advantage of its omnibus bill to include a bill that would certainly be supported by three parties in the House.
Quebec has had anti-scab legislation since 1977. I think this is long overdue. We are behind the times in not having that legislation, because it is so important for governing the work of our union members.
I raised this issue because my father is watching. He must be proud to hear me defending an issue that he himself defended when he was a union member in his company. He was a sheet metal worker, so he was right on the shop floor. He realized that there were problems with working conditions, so he rallied the workers. He created a union and negotiated for all the workers. It is for his sake that I raised this issue today, and it is also for his sake that I am raising the issue of EI.
The 's mandate letter mentions EI reform. For years, and even recently, the minister has been telling us that she was holding consultations. However, the consultations have ended. She said she was consulting, but the consultations are over. She will not stop consulting, but everything is documented. There is a consensus that the Employment Insurance Act must be reformed. This is an old act that is not modern, that is not suited to the labour market for either employers or employees.
It is hard to understand why the minister does not see it as a priority. In a way, I both understand and do not understand why. I think she may have good intentions, but it is cabinet, the executive, that does not want to move ahead for the simple reason that the government is using the surplus in the EI fund to pay for the surplus EI claims that it received during the pandemic. Basically, the fund is spending $24 billion to pay for what happened during the pandemic. I will note that people had to leave their jobs not because they wanted to, but because their workplace shut down. They were forced to apply for EI. It is only natural that claims would go up.
The EI fund took out $24 billion to cover all those costs. Now things are a bit better, and it has seven years to balance out. That is the minister's magic excuse, namely that until the account is balanced again, sometime in the next seven years, she cannot move ahead on reform or propose anything else that would improve the Employment Insurance Act. That is bad.
All the spending incurred during the pandemic was covered by the government, but now employer and employee contributions are being used to pay for all the jobs lost during the pandemic. It was not by choice. I think the government could have covered part of the cost and left the money for workers and employers alone, so that everything that is needed to reform the Employment Insurance Act could be done.
It is frankly laughable how every new minister's mandate letter or list of priorities states that this is a priority. It is not really a genuine priority. Every excuse or event gives the minister a reason to put off the reform.
I am very serious about this. The government must stop beating around the bush and reform EI once and for all so that Quebec and Canada can have modern legislation to govern the new reality of the labour market.
The Bloc Québécois will always be there to defend unemployed workers, employers and businesses that are struggling with replacement workers as we speak, such as the Port of Quebec and Océan remorquage in Sorel-Tracy.
It is very clear which side the Bloc Québécois is on. It is on the right side, the side of the people.
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for her speech. She spoke a lot about workers. However, she did not mention official languages at all. Budget 2023 provides for more than $1 billion for official languages, on top of the roughly $2 billion already allocated under the action plan.
I have no doubt that, like me, my colleague thinks it is important to protect French in Quebec and Canada and to protect anglophone minorities in Quebec. I would therefore like her to share her thoughts on that.
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question. However, I really wish she had asked me the same question that she asked the member for about the $200 million for mental health care. She can come back to that later.
I would have liked to answer her that I really wonder what that $200 million will do for people who are suicidal or in distress. The fact is that all of the mental health resources in Quebec are funded by Quebec, and direct assistance is administered by professionals in Quebec. Since she did not ask me that question, I will not get into detail about it.
With regard to official languages, I would say that we are very pleased that the francophone communities outside Quebec will now have more means of defending their language, because they really are in the minority. As for Quebec, my answer would be so long that the Speaker would have to cut me off. I will just say that the bill is clearly a compromise and that the Bloc Québécois finds it to be unsatisfactory.
Madam Speaker, the Liberal member did not ask the question about mental health, but I will, so that my colleague can answer it.
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague very much. As everyone knows, I am a social worker, a member of my professional association and a manager of a Quebec CISSS. I use the term “CISSS” because I know Quebeckers will understand what I mean. One thing I can say for certain about mental health is that no professional who delivers mental health services directly to residents in my riding, or in the riding of the member for Sherbrooke, receives any federal funds.
Federal funds pay for help lines and websites. I am not saying that this is wrong. However, when someone is in distress or experiencing a crisis and thinking of committing suicide, they call their local community service centre's crisis line. I am looking forward to seeing what percentage of this $200 million will find its way to the Suroît area's local community service centre.
Madam Speaker, I looked at the budget and was really disappointed to see, once again, a lack of investment in ending the current crisis of gender-based violence. We know that rates of violence have increased since the pandemic, yet the amount that has been allocated in this federal budget is beyond disappointing. It is like women in this place are always a second thought, like we are the last thought in any budget. I am wondering if my hon. colleague can provide her thoughts on that.
Madam Speaker, first, I want to remind my colleague that her party supported the budget. It needs to be said. Second, I fully agree that, when it comes to intimate partner violence or gender-based violence, more money is essential.
In Quebec, we have a comprehensive network of shelters for abused women or men facing challenging circumstances. There are even support groups for abusive men. In Quebec, there is a network of community organizations throughout Quebec that provide assistance in that area. Yes, it is true that more funding is needed. However, it is not really the federal government's job to fund the resources dedicated to this problem, since it falls squarely under provincial jurisdiction.
Now, I think that the secret here is that, if Ottawa and the NDP had listened to what the provinces were asking for, which was a greater increase in health transfers, the provinces would have had the option to invest more or less money in certain social or health issues as needed.
The dental care program is being imposed on the provinces through a centralizing objective. I am not saying that teeth are not important, but I think that we are facing other problems that are just as important and they were equally deserving of more funding.
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill .
First, I would like to salute my constituents in Thérèse‑De Blainville. I have not done that in a while. I salute them because when I am not here in the House, it is always a pleasure to meet up with them back home to talk about the challenges they face and see all the work they are doing every day for the community. It is wonderful.
Among other things, these days, I make a point of visiting seniors in their homes to talk about their concerns in the current economic context. This relates to the budget, of course. Seniors are as worried as everyone else about inflation.
They are also worried about being able to afford housing, which is very important. Seniors may have gained a nest egg by selling their home, but now that they are living in a residence, they are exhausting the little bit of money they have left. Some of them are worried, while others are even thinking of moving and are anxious about finding affordable housing.
Seniors are also concerned about their health. They asked me what is going on with the Canada health transfers. All that is to say that their concerns are real.
I would remind the House that the Bloc Québécois voted against the budget. We explained to seniors why we voted against it. Bill is a translation of the budget. As my colleague was saying, this omnibus bill is more than 400 pages long and fixes 59 pieces of legislation. It is so complex, it makes my head spin. The government promised it would no longer introduce huge bills like this one that make us lose focus.
What is more, Bill C‑47 paves the way to recognizing King Charles III, which is rather mind-boggling. What a circus. I did not need to tell everyone I meet about this, because it is significant. This is what the government is focusing on when there are bigger fish to fry.
The Bloc Québécois has always said that it is here to stand up for and promote the interests of Quebeckers. We will vote in favour of what is good for them, and we will vote against what is not good for them. If that happens to be good for all Canadians, then that is good as well.
My approach to analyzing the budget is based on the definition of social safety net. A government that has a vision, that claims to be democratic, progressive and supportive of workers, should have made sure to correct certain inequities in its budget.
What is the social safety net? I am not going to give an introductory course on the subject. I am sure that people know that the social safety net is a set of social programs and public services that offer support to citizens. Two of those social programs fall exclusively under the federal government's jurisdiction. They are old age security for seniors and the employment insurance system for workers.
There is nothing in this budget about old age security. It simply maintains the discrimination that was created in the previous budget by increasing old age security only for those over the age of 75. What is the difference between a 73-year-old senior and a 75-year-old senior? There is no justification for it.
Rather than investing in jurisdictions that are in no way its responsibility, the federal government should spend money to strengthen its social programs.
With regard to seniors, Canada ranks near the bottom of all OECD countries in terms of income protection for seniors. This social safety net needs to be strengthened, and yet no mercy is being shown.
This is all to say nothing of the broken promises regarding the EI system. We have lost count of them. There is no excuse for the government's failure to state its intention in the budget to reform employment insurance once and for all. It needs to be modernized in line with the current labour market. It needs to be brought up to date and out of the last century. An employment insurance system acts as an economic stabilizer. It needs to guarantee workers who lose their jobs a minimum income that allows them to weather the storm.
The government claimed many times during the pandemic that it would take too long to reform employment insurance, saying that the EI system had too many flaws, that it was full of holes. There are a number of players involved. The government promised, virtually hand on heart, to reform EI. We are not asking for this just for the fun of it. We are asking for it because it is necessary. What does the government not understand about that?
I have said it before and I will say it again. Will the government have the courage to reform the employment insurance program, given that it knows exactly what needs to be done, or will it shamefully abandon all of the workers who pay into the EI fund?
Only 40% of workers manage to qualify for EI because the eligibility criteria are discriminatory, particularly against women and young people, most of whom hold non-standard jobs.
The EI system does not cover self-employed workers. We saw that during the pandemic in the arts, entertainment and cultural sectors, which depends heavily on those workers. The government promised to correct those shortcomings. The even promised to do so last summer. What is stopping the government from taking action? Is it going to use the economic situation as an excuse?
On the one hand, the government is saying that all is well, that the unemployment rate is at a record low, that there is a labour shortage and that it will not reform the system. On the other hand, the government is saying that there is a risk of a recession and that now is not the time to reform the program. That does not make any sense. The government is twisting and dodging to avoid the issue. The time to reform the EI program is now, when we are not in a period of crisis.
I think the minister has free rein to do that. She needs to have that free rein. Members of her caucus are affected; they are dealing with the fallout from flaws in the system as well. She has all the solutions in hand. We invite her, we urge her, to introduce a bill that proposes new criteria to guarantee that workers, people in the regions and workers in seasonal industries can access this social safety net. That is what needs to happen. It would have been nice to hear the government stand up and strongly advocate for what we believe to be most fundamental, and that is ensuring equity and fairness.
In closing, public services are fundamental to ensuring equity in a strong state. Robust, high-quality public services rely on decent working conditions for employees. On that note, I would like to emphasize that we support and stand with the federal employees who are currently fighting for decent working conditions in the public service.
Madam Speaker, in her speech, my colleague stated that she would be voting for what is good for Quebeckers.
Does she consider providing a grocery rebate for 11 million Canadians, increasing the Canada workers benefit, doubling the tradespeople's tool deduction, and capping the inflation adjustment for excise duties on alcohol at 2% to be good for Quebeckers?
Madam Speaker, we hear these kinds of comments in the 10-minute speeches by my colleagues opposite.
I am not saying that these are not good things. However, the government is not addressing the basic issues, the fundamental issues, the most dire issues. The government is basically not there for workers. I can say, for example, that the appeal board is a good measure. The Liberals finally saw sense, made this change and included it in this omnibus bill. However, all the other issues—
Order. The hon. member for Lévis—Lotbinière.
Madam Speaker, does my colleague have anything to say about Bill on employment insurance? The government refused to recommend this bill for royal assent even though it would have provided welcome assistance to workers struggling with serious health problems. It refused to increase the number of weeks of EI sickness benefits from 26 to 52. Is this important to the member?
Madam Speaker, this issue is extremely important.
This was another wasted opportunity. However, it may still be possible. It took 50 years to address this problem and raise the number of weeks from 15 to 26. As every study shows, this is not enough. People who are gravely ill are being left without enough protection to recover in dignity.
Madam Speaker, the member very often raises the issue of EI, and I want to thank her for that.
My colleague from , earlier today, raised the point that the supposed feminist government is not really looking after the issues of women. We know that, when EI was first formulated, the participation rate of women in the workforce was less than half of what it is today. The EI system was not built for women.
Can the member share some comments on why it is so important to get this modernized for women after seven years?
Madam Speaker, several measures in our policies discriminate against women. Employment insurance is a prime example. When the employment insurance program was initially designed, it reflected the fact that workers work full time and that male-dominated jobs were the most important. That may have been appropriate at the time.
Now women are being discriminated against in two ways. The eligibility rules work against them because the rules are designed for those who work 40 hours a week. If a person works only 20 hours, they are necessarily discriminated against.
Then there are pregnant workers, women who carry a child and then lose their job. The rules currently discriminate against them because they will not be entitled to employment insurance if, when they return, they no longer have employment. They are no longer entitled to their benefits. They won in court and the ruling was appealed. I hope that decision will be upheld. The EI program needs to be reformed. It is essential and a matter of fairness.
Madam Speaker, I disagree with the member. We can think of the Canada workers benefit, the supports from the government for the trades and unions, the $10-a-day child care and the credit for tools. In many ways, the government has been there for the workers of Canada.
Can the member give a tangible example of any other government that has done more than this government has for the workers of Canada?
Madam Speaker, my colleague truly believes what he is saying. I would not be able to sleep at night if my beliefs held that we cannot support workers.
I would remind the House that there is a universal program in Quebec, the program for early childhood education services, that has been around for more than 25 years. The Liberals have decided to feel good about themselves by introducing a similar program across Canada when that does not fall under their jurisdiction. They spent $30 billion when the people for whom the government—
Order. Resuming debate.
The hon. member for Dorval—Lachine—LaSalle.
Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for .
Canada's recovery from the recession caused by COVID-19 has been remarkable. In fact, we have the strongest economic growth among G7 countries over the past year. There are about 830,000 more Canadians in the workforce now than there were before the pandemic. The unemployment rate is near its record low. The labour force participation rate for Canadian women in their prime working years is at a record high of 85.7%, supported by our Canada-wide system of affordable early learning and child care. Inflation has fallen for eight months in a row, and the Bank of Canada predicts it will fall to just 2.6% by the end of the year.
With these strong economic fundamentals, the 2023 budget comes at an important time for our country and for the world. It is also a time when we must take bold steps to ensure our country's prosperity and set an example for the rest of the world. Canada is the best place to be in these challenging times, in a complex world.
In the near term, we must contend with a slowing global economy, elevated interest rates around the world and inflation that is still too high. Over the past year, the government has introduced a series of new targeted measures to help those who need it most pay their bills.
In the months and years to come, Canada must seize the remarkable opportunities arising from two fundamental shifts in the global economy. The first is the race to build the clean economies of the 21st century. The second is our allies’ accelerating efforts to friendshore their economies by building their critical supply chains through democracies like our own.
In budget 2023, the federal government would provide new, targeted inflation relief to Canadians who need it most. Specifically, the budget proposes to introduce a one-time grocery rebate. The rebate would be delivered through a one-time payment from the Canada Revenue Agency, as soon as possible following the passing of the legislation. For 11 million low- and modest-income Canadians and families, the grocery rebate would provide eligible couples with two children with up to an extra $467, single Canadians without children up to an extra $234 and seniors an extra $225, on average. This would be delivered through the goods and services tax credit mechanism.
Today, fewer women have to choose between their family and their career. In February, the labour force participation rate for women in their prime working years reached a record 85.7%. As of April 2, six provinces and territories are providing regulated child care for an average of just $10 a day or less, significantly ahead of schedule. All other provinces and territories remain on track to achieve $10-a-day child care by 2026.
The Government of Canada has entered into an asymmetrical agreement with the Province of Quebec. This will allow for further improvements to its early learning and child care system, where parents with a subsidized reduced contribution space already pay a single fee of less than $10 a day. Under its asymmetrical agreement, Quebec has committed to creating 30,000 new child care spaces by March 2026.
Budget 2023 announced that financial institutions would be able to start offering a tax-free first home savings account to Canadians as of April 1, and the money saved could be deducted from their income tax come tax time. This would give prospective first-time homebuyers the ability to save $40,000 on a tax-free basis, with a maximum allowance of $8,000 saved per year.
To ensure that Canada's national housing strategy programs can continue to deliver new, affordable homes for Canadians, especially for the most vulnerable, the federal government is taking action. Budget 2023 announced the government's intention to support the reallocation of funding from the national housing coinvestment fund's repair stream to its new construction stream as needed, to boost the construction of new, affordable homes for Canadians who need them the most.
During the pandemic, the federal government provided unprecedented funding for provincial and territorial health systems, personal protective equipment, vaccines, treatments and testing, as well as for public health measures for everything from schools to public transit. In other words, Canada was able to weather the worst of the pandemic thanks to the support provided by the federal government, which amounted to eight dollars out of every $10 spent to fight COVID-19. This significantly contributed to the budgetary surpluses that many provinces and territories are enjoying today.
Budget 2023 lays out the federal government's plan to provide an additional $195.8 billion over 10 years in health transfers to provinces and territories, including $46.2 billion in new funding through new Canada health transfer measure, tailored bilateral agreements to meet the needs of each province and territory, personal support worker wage support and a territorial health investment fund. This funding would be used to improve and enhance the health care Canadians receive; it is not to be used by provinces and territories in place of their planned health care spending. With historic federal health investments and a range of new measures to ensure that Canadians receive the care they need, budget 2023 would help deliver the improvements to health care that Canadians expect and deserve.
Nobody should have to choose between taking care of their teeth and being able to pay the bills at the end of the month. In budget 2023, the federal government would be moving forward with a transformative investment to provide dental care to Canadians who need it. In addition, budget 2023 proposes to provide $13 billion over five years, starting in 2023-24, and $4.4 billion ongoing to Health Canada to implement the Canadian dental care plan. The plan would provide dental coverage for uninsured Canadians with an annual family income of less than $90,000, with no copays for those whose family income is under $70,000. The plan would begin providing coverage by the end of 2023 and would be administered by Health Canada with support from a third party benefits administrator.
Budget 2023 is a direct response to essential short- and long-term objectives, such as reducing inflation through targeted inflation relief measures; strengthening our public health system, including dental care; developing Canada's clean economy through significant investments that will create more middle class jobs; and maintaining the lowest deficit and lowest net-debt-to-GDP ratio in the G7.
We are proud to present budget 2023, a plan to build a stronger, more sustainable and more secure Canadian economy for everyone, including indigenous peoples. With new measures and important investments, budget 2023 will help everyone share in the opportunities and prosperity that Canada provides. Budget 2023 reaffirms our government's commitment towards indigenous peoples as we continue to build on the progress we have made together since 2015 on walking the path of truth and reconciliation with indigenous peoples, building strong, diverse communities, and protecting the environment and fighting climate change.
We will continue building a country where everyone can reach their potential. We have the remarkable fortune to live in the greatest country in the world, a country filled with people who can do big things.
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague, whom I recently worked with on issues of violence against women.
I would like to come back to that, because I know that she is very interested in feminism. How is it possible that a government that claims to be feminist is not providing better support to women who are victims of domestic violence by increasing health transfers to shore up our social services system, particularly in Quebec? How is it possible that a government that claims to be feminist is not keeping its promise to reform EI? We know that the people having the most issues with EI right now are women who, for a variety of reasons, have difficulty qualifying for the program.
My colleague also talked about the issue of mothers, pregnant women.
I would like to hear my colleague talk about these two critical issues, namely increased health transfers and EI reform. That is feminism.
Mr. Speaker, I thank my dear colleague for her question. I would also like to thank her again for supporting the bill that she mentioned in her question. Her help is really a generous gift, and I agree with her.
That is why, as I mentioned in my speech, fewer women have to choose between their families and their careers. Paying $10 a day for child care is something that will truly help women continue their careers and stay in the workforce.
Mr. Speaker, within the budget, the government has committed $80-plus billion in tax credits toward investing in a newer, greener economy. In the budget, it is very clear that it is there. It is not a secret, but with the announcement of Volkswagen creating a new plant near St. Thomas, Ontario, there is a tremendous amount of secrecy, in terms of what that $13-billion investment would actually be going toward.
I am wondering, if it is no secret what the tax credits are in the budget, which are coming from hard-earned taxpayers' money, why there is this level of secrecy in terms of this contract with Volkswagen. Should Canadians not know what that deal is all about, considering the fact that the government would be spending that money on that investment?
Mr. Speaker, I am a little puzzled by my colleague's question. I am just wondering if he is against the investment. That is what it sounds like, but I would like to say that Canada has one of the cleanest electricity grids all across the world. We are very proud of our record on this, and it is very important to continue with green technology to make sure that our environment and our economy can both work at the same time to improve the lives of all Canadians and contribute to the world as well.
Mr. Speaker, in a previous life I was a carpenter, I was a chimney sweep and I was a roofer. I ran a small business from my home, and we used to feed our kids french fries to help us get the mail-outs done in time at the end of the month. I had to go to the dentist and try to cut deals so the kids could get their teeth fixed.
I looked at the 's LinkedIn, and I was astounded. He has never actually had a job; what he has had is 19 years of free dental care, and he has the gall to tell senior citizens and working-class families that they are not entitled to free dental care.
I would like to ask my hon. colleague why she thinks the leader of the Conservative Party thinks he is so much better than people who have actually worked their whole lives.
Mr. Speaker, it is incredible that there are people who would still want to be against dental care in this manner. Dental care helps all Canadians. It helps those who are most in need. As we know, dental issues can cause other health issues as well. It is very important that we allow those who have the least to be able to maintain health security for themselves when they are just trying to live their lives. As my colleague said, he lived on a tight budget growing up. These are the people we want to help. This is why we are here.
Mr. Speaker, I always welcome the opportunity to rise in this place on behalf of the good people of Scarborough Centre. Today, I rise to speak to a very important piece of legislation, the budget implementation act, which I believe contains a host of measures that speak to the concerns they share with me every day. When I am attending events, knocking on doors, or meeting with constituents, they often talk to me about the cost of living. This is an overarching issue that manifests itself in many ways.
A long-standing issue of concern is access to safe, adequate and affordable housing. Rental housing, when it can even be found, is even more unaffordable and often old and inadequate for the families that want to call our community home. The dream of home ownership, once considered a birthright for hard-working Canadians, is becoming for many a seemingly impossible dream.
It is part of the larger issue of affordability in many aspects of everyday life. While the data shows that Canada has fared better than most other G7 countries when it comes to inflation, that is little comfort to my constituents, who go to the grocery store and find so much of their paycheque just going to put food on the table. This has them looking warily to the future. Will they ever be able to get ahead of the daily grind? Will they be able to find the money to save for their future or to put away for their children’s education?
It is because of concerns like these that the government is laser-focused, including in budget 2023, on affordability. With our made-in-Canada plan, budget 2023 would ensure that Canadians have more money in their pockets and are able to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow, while building a Canada that is more secure, sustainable and affordable for people from coast to coast to coast.
Let us start with everyday expenses. While our opponents across the way want to lower taxes for the wealthiest 1% and hope the money will somehow trickle down to the middle class and those working hard to join it, decades of failed Conservative economic policy show that this does not work. Instead, our government is focused on delivering targeted inflation relief directly to the most vulnerable Canadians to help support them with the cost of living.
That is why, in budget 2023, our government is providing new, targeted inflation relief to the Canadians hardest hit by rising food prices. Budget 2023 introduces a one-time grocery rebate, providing $2.5 billion in targeted inflation relief for 11 million low- and modest-income Canadians and families. The grocery rebate will provide eligible couples with two children with up to an extra $467, single Canadians without children with up to an extra $234, and seniors with an extra $225 on average. An individual or a family would have to be entitled to the GST credit in January 2023 and have filed a 2021 tax return in order to receive the grocery rebate. This additional support would be delivered by the Canada Revenue Agency as soon as possible following the passage of the legislation, using the GST credit system.
Shortly after the budget was released, I visited Atiya's Fresh Farm, a grocery store in my riding, with the to talk about the grocery rebate. I spoke with several mothers, who told me how the extra help from the grocery rebate would allow them to make better choices when doing the family’s grocery shopping. For families in my riding, this will mean being able to buy healthier options and more fruits and vegetables, instead of cheaper, less nutritious, processed food. That is especially important for children, to ensure they have the energy they need to grow and be active, as well as succeed in their schooling.
Speaking of schooling, with budget 2023 we are also making it easier for families to save for and invest in their children’s future. We are proposing to improve registered education savings plans by increasing limits on certain RESP withdrawals from $5,000 to $8,000 for full-time students, and from $2,500 to $4,000 for part-time students. We are proposing to allow divorced or separated parents to open a joint RESP for their children, which would make it easier and more affordable for parents to save for their children's education.
We are increasing Canada student grants by 40%, providing up to $4,200 for full-time students. We are raising the interest-free Canada student loan limit from $210 to $300 per week of study. We are also waiving the requirement for mature students, aged 22 years or older, to undergo credit screening in order to qualify for federal student grants and loans for the first time, which would allow up to 1,000 additional students to benefit from federal aid in the coming year. This follows other support for students announced by our government, including permanently eliminating interest on Canada student loans and ensuring that borrowers do not need to make payments on their loans until they earn at least $40,000 per year. We are committed to working with students in the years ahead to develop a long-term approach to student financial assistance in time for budget 2024.
Also, on affordability, I have already seen in my community how the Canadian dental care plan is making a difference for lower-income families. It is allowing families that have been putting off dental care for their children to be able to get their children in to see a dentist and make their oral care a priority. Dental care is health care, and an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. By expanding the program this year to include seniors and other lower-income Canadians, we are both helping make life more affordable and ensuring healthy outcomes for more Canadians.
I would also like to talk about housing, which, as I have said, is a real issue for my constituents. While the Conservatives did nothing on housing for a decade and still like to pretend the rental market does not exist, our government takes a holistic approach to housing that includes both homeowners and renters. Everyone should have a safe and affordable place to call home. However, for too many Canadians, including young people and new Canadians, the dream of owning a home is increasingly out of reach, and paying rent has become more expensive across the country.
Centred by the national housing strategy, over the past year the federal government has taken significant steps towards making housing more affordable for Canadians. We are building on that in budget 2023 by announcing that financial institutions will be able to start offering the tax-free first home savings account to Canadians as of April 1, 2023; publishing a guideline to protect Canadians with mortgages who are facing exceptional circumstances; and committing an additional $4 billion to CMHC to implement a co-developed urban, rural, and northern indigenous housing strategy.
This builds on other measures we have taken, such as a two-year ban on non-residents or non-Canadians purchasing residential property; a 1% annual underused housing tax on the value of residential property owned by non-residents or non-Canadians that is vacant or underused; a new tax-free first home savings account to allow Canadians to save up to $40,000, tax-free, to help buy their first home; an accelerator fund to remove barriers and incentivize housing supply growth, with the goal of creating at least 100,000 net new homes across Canada, and much more.
As I have said before, no one level of government holds the key to solving the housing crisis in Canada. It will take cities, provinces and the federal government all working together. There is still much more to do, but I am glad that, after a Conservative decade of darkness, Canada again has a government that is a willing partner in housing.
While our government is focused on programs that make life more affordable for Canadians, such as dental care and child care, the opposition on the other side is opposing us every step of the way. The even called our child care plan, which is saving families hundreds of dollars every month, a “slush fund”. It is clear who is looking out for Canadian families.
Let us pass this budget and keep the focus on affordability for everyday Canadians.
Mr. Speaker, I would actually like to talk about the topic of a slush fund.
The housing accelerator fund, which will be put out by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, has billions of dollars set aside for, well, we just do not know. We do not know exactly what it will go towards. I am concerned for municipalities, because I have heard from a local chief administrative officer who had no idea what the project does. How is this going to tangibly build homes that people can live in?
Mr. Speaker, housing is a really important issue for my constituents.
We believe in a long-term approach to housing. We have a national housing strategy, which is based on a 10-year plan for building more affordable housing for Canadians. In the budget, we are building on that.
We will make sure that housing becomes more affordable for all Canadians. It should be a right for all Canadians to have a safe place to live and to call home.
Mr. Speaker, my colleague spoke at length about housing.
I think the logic is very simple. It is about supply and demand. The problem in my riding—and I think it may be a problem in my colleague's riding too, as it is throughout Quebec and Canada—is that there is not enough housing supply. There are several reasons behind this, including the proliferation of Airbnb, people living alone and so on. All this means that there is far less housing available. The priority should have been housing construction.
I welcome the measure included in the budget for a $4-billion increase over seven years for urban, rural and northern housing for indigenous people. However, there is nothing for housing construction for the rest of Canada. In my view, the biggest impact of the labour shortage is that people cannot find housing in our communities. That is a problem.
Why has the government not taken concrete action on housing construction?
Mr. Speaker, housing is an issue that one government cannot resolve. As the federal government, we are working with provinces and municipalities to make sure that we build more affordable housing.
In budget 2023, we have taken some measures to make sure we build more affordable housing, including announcing that financial institutions would be able to start offering tax-free first home savings accounts to Canadians as of April 1. We are publishing a guideline to protect Canadians with mortgages who are facing exceptional circumstances. We are committing an additional $4 billion to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation to implement a co-developed urban, rural and northern indigenous housing strategy. We have announced a housing accelerator fund to make sure that municipalities could work to build more affordable, better housing for Canadians.
Mr. Speaker, although I thank the member for the comments on housing, the Liberal government is tinkering around the edges in a crisis.
I am happy to see that there are structural investments in this budget around dental care, which will be long-standing and eternal for Canadians. However, what the government really missed was housing. Where is the investment in affordable housing in this budget?
We knew operating agreements that were made 40 years ago were going to expire. Ten years ago, we should have had our eye on it. Municipalities had their eye on the fact that operating agreements were expiring this year, last year, next year and the next three or four years. Where is the investment in affordable housing in this budget?
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for her concern in making sure that Canadians have access to affordable housing.
Housing is not something that we could resolve in one or two years. Since we came to power in 2015, we have worked on building a national housing strategy, which is a 10-year plan to make sure that we build more affordable housing. In this budget, we have taken certain measures to make sure that Canadians get access. We have announced a housing accelerator fund, which is a great investment and which would help in building more affordable housing, working with more municipalities and making sure that they cut the red tape to have quicker processes for building more affordable housing.
Mr. Speaker, the hon. member and I share a border. Our ridings are next to each other. I am always aware of the great work that she is doing with young people in her community, with her youth council and with the local schools.
In the budget and past initiatives, we have seen $10-a-day child care and dental relief. We have seen relief on interest rates, as well as many programs, such as the child benefit, which help young people in our community.
Could the member tell us what the response has been from young people in her community?
Mr. Speaker, since we came to power in 2015, certain measures that we have taken are really helping to make a difference. They include the Canada child benefit, $10-a-day child care and programs to make sure that we provide more support to students. When I talk to people in my youth council, they tell me how these additional student grants are helping them to make sure they can concentrate more on their studies. Many students find it difficult to find a job after graduating. However, they have some room in that they do not have to pay their student loans until they start earning $40,000. That is really helping our young kids to grow and be more successful in life.
Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for , who is actually my neighbour. His riding is right beside mine.
In talking about the budget, we should look at some numbers. The first number I want to talk about is $176 billion. Government spending is up $176 billion since 2015. That is a 63% increase in government spending in eight years. We might ask ourselves what all this spending has done for Canadians. It is a very reasonable question. That is a massive increase.
If I increased my home budget by 63%, I am going to guess my spouse and children might look around and ask, “Since the budget is way up, what is better? Have things gotten better here?”
Let us look at what all this spending has done for Canadians. Right now, there is a $176-billion growth in government spending per year, and one in five Canadians is now skipping meals because life is so expensive and unaffordable. I was not an A student when I went to university, but I am smart enough to understand that this is a problem.
Let us look at this other number: 1.5 million Canadians are now using the food bank. Let us go back. There is $176 billion more in government spending, and the result is that 1.5 million Canadians are using the food bank. We can take that part out of the equation. Affordability is actually being able to buy groceries and live. We know that the affordability question is awful after all this government spending. Every Canadian we talk to would say that life is unaffordable. However, we can put that aside for just one second.
Let us talk about something else that is important for Canadians. We can talk about rent. Rent has almost doubled since 2015. There is $176 billion more being spent, and one needs to pay twice as much for rent. We can imagine what that does to a family's ability to make ends meet. Families are now paying twice as much in rent. Have their paycheques gone up? Have they doubled? No, they absolutely have not, but the rent has.
It is the same thing if one wants to buy a house. Since houses are now so expensive and have gone up so much under the government, one now needs to put twice as much down as a down payment. People are thinking that their rent is terrible and unaffordable; maybe they should get out of the rental market and buy a house. What happens then? Now they need to have twice as much money as a down payment to buy that house.
Again, after eight years of the Liberal government, $176 billion more is being spent per year. When we look at affordability, or the ability to make ends meet, Canadians are skipping meals and going to the food bank. On that metric, it is an F.
Let us look at what else is going on, such as with housing. Housing is extremely important. Rents have doubled. If someone wants to buy a house, they find that down payments have doubled. A recent survey showed that nine in 10 Canadians who do not own a house think they never will. We can let that sink in for a second. That is how bad it is. This is after eight years of a Liberal government and increasing government spending by $176 billion.
To go back to my own house, if my budget had gone up by 63% and my spouse and children looked around and everything was more expensive, they might be asking me what is going on. They might ask what all this spending was for.
That is the incredible thing about it. Right now, we are in the middle of a massive public service strike. The Liberals massively increased the size of the government over the past eight years, as well as spending on the government, and still somehow managed to have 100,000 public servants go on strike. We are now on day nine. This is stunning incompetence.
Everything is more expensive. People cannot buy a house, and they can barely pay their rent. Government workers have walked off the job. That is the Liberals' record. It is astounding. When we look at all this, it has been financed with deficit spending, which adds to the debt. The debt is now $1.2 trillion. Interest payments on the debt have also almost doubled to $44 billion a year, soon to be $50 billion a year.
Many Canadians, from coast to coast to coast, find it hard to get medical appointments or specialist appointments. We can imagine for a second what $50 billion per year would do for health care. It would help to remove the lineups that Canadians are stuck in. When so many Canadians do not have access to a family doctor, it would help to hire more family doctors. Again, this is Liberal Canada after eight years.
The Liberals may not believe me; I find that often happens in this place. They seem to say they were spending all this money and ask why the Conservatives are talking about the problem. I will tell members why. It is because I get emails from people like Kim.
Kim sent me an email that says, “I am stretched so thin. I either pay bills or buy food because I can't afford both.” Again, we should let that sink in. There is $176 billion more spent per year by the government, and Kim is choosing whether to eat or pay bills. It is a disgrace what the government has done to this country and what it is putting Canadians through. Canadians deserve so much better than what the government has done. Kim goes on to say, “Food costs are ridiculous. Gas and heating keep going up. Is life better under this government? Not by a long shot.”
Can we guess what the government's answer to the affordability crisis is? It is that the carbon tax is going up. The carbon tax makes everything more expensive because the farmer who pays the carbon tax on the fuel to run the farm passes that cost on to consumers. Then the truck that takes the product from the farm to be processed has a carbon tax. That is more expensive. The plant that does the processing has a carbon tax. That makes it more expensive. It then gets trucked to a grocery store, and there is a carbon tax. It makes it more expensive. The grocery store has a heating bill with a carbon tax. That makes it more expensive. If we wonder why Canadians cannot afford to eat, it is because the government just increases the carbon tax at every opportunity.
I visited a farm two weeks ago in my riding. Guess what its carbon tax bill was? It was $17,000. The Liberals say the carbon tax is revenue-neutral, but it is not. The PBO has made clear that the carbon tax is making the lives of Canadians less and less affordable all the time.
I want to finish with an email from Daina. I got it just the other day. They said, “I want to express concerns for two full-time, very hard-working adults, one of which is a small business owner and in our home, so the home tax rebate doesn't assist us. We can't afford to bring a child into this world because of the costs.”
This is from a young couple that somehow managed to buy a home. It says she bought it five years ago, so things were not as bad then. They are choosing not to have children because they are barely making ends meet. I know what the member is going to jump up and say, “What about $10-a-day day care?” They know about it, and they are still making this choice. For one thing, it is just not available for everybody. Not everybody gets it.
The government spends $176 billion more per year, and everything is worse in this country. People are going to food banks. People are choosing between heating their homes and eating. People are choosing not to have children. That is the Liberals' legacy, and it is disgraceful.
Mr. Speaker, in so many ways I disagree with the member's statements. Let us take a look at what the Conservative Party has said.
Hundreds of millions going into billions of additional dollars being spent every year to support health care, $198 billion over 10 years. Hundreds of millions of dollars going into billions of dollars every year to ensure that child care is more affordable. These are the types of needs that Canadians have and the expectations that Canadians have of the government to provide. The Conservative Party believes that the child care investment is nothing more than a slush fund. All the provinces' different political parties have signed on.
Is it still the Conservative Party's position that we should rip up the child care $10-a-day plan? Is it the Conservative Party's plan to get rid of the tens of billions of dollars that we are putting into national health care? What is the Conservative plan? It does not have one.
Mr. Speaker, this is incredible. I just read two emails from the hundreds I have been getting about how tough life is even after all the spending. What does this member stand up to say? He asked if they know about the spending.
Of course they know about the spending. They know that all the spending has made their lives worse. That is what they know and this member stands here, effectively gaslighting Canadians, asking how dare they say things are so tough; look at all the money being spent.
They have spent the money in such a way that it has made Canadians' lives worse. We had a member just before who said the exact same thing. It was actually enlightening to hear that housing is unaffordable and all those kinds of things. However, their answer is to spend more money on things that are not going to make life better.
Mr. Speaker, members of the official opposition party have repeatedly mentioned the deficits being racked up by the government. They have also mentioned the Parliamentary Budget Officer's reports.
However, they are overlooking some information, including information from the Parliamentary Budget Officer. I would mention the tens of billions of dollars in funding announcements that remains unspent. In 2021-22, this added up to $38 billion, and it was roughly the same amount last year. I would also mention the fiscal imbalance that is keeping funds in government coffers. This money comes from taxes paid by taxpayers. The situation has now reached a point where, in a matter of decades, the federal government will have settled all its debts stretching back to 1867, while the provinces and Quebec will be on the verge of technical bankruptcy, or will have lost much of their budgetary autonomy.
Is my colleague not outraged about this situation, this budgetary and financial hypocrisy, and the damage to the public and workers?
Mr. Speaker, I am always happy to talk about deficits. What every prime minister up until this point accumulated to the national debt, the and the current government have doubled over the span of eight years. Think about that. All the history of previous prime ministers, a certain amount of debt, has been doubled. What has that done? It has significantly reduced the fiscal capacity of the government just on interest payments alone, I would suggest.
What could go into transfer payments to the provinces if the national debt was not causing $50 billion a year just to service the debt? That is interest on the debt. Imagine what that could do to help the fiscal situation of the provinces. The growth of the government is contributing to that, $176 billion a year more, and it is still not transferring enough to the provinces. It is a remarkable disaster.
Mr. Speaker, in my riding, the Comox Valley Chamber of Commerce said the number one priority to help solve the labour market crisis is increasing spaces in child care. In fact they are saying to keep going because we are seeing more and more spaces open up because of the agreement with Canada and the provinces. As someone who ran a chamber of commerce, as someone who actually had children in child care as a single parent at one time, I know how important those child care spaces are.
Does my colleague not agree that this would be a very important measure to help solve the labour market crisis in this country? What does he have to say to the chambers of commerce in my community?
Mr. Speaker, child care is important. That is why we were the first government to actually send money directly to parents for children. That was back under former prime minister Harper.
While $10-a-day child care sounds like a great idea, the problem is about how many spots and access people have to them; there are not very many. There are also lots of people who do not want to put their children into institutional child care. They want to take care of the children themselves or they want to put them into a family member's home or a neighbour's home.
To me this is so exclusionary. It is only open to a very small number of people. It is just not going to help enough.
Mr. Speaker, our economy is stagnating, and that is not just in the last year or two, that has been going on for years. Let me explain. Average per capita gross domestic product is stagnating. In other words, average national income has not been growing. Per capita output has not increased in years. In fact, last year it was roughly the same as it was five years ago, in 2017. Flat per capita output, in the face of skyrocketing prices for assets like housing, in the face of skyrocketing prices for consumables like groceries, is the reason why households are struggling to pay the bills. It is the reason why Canadians are feeling the pinch. It is the reason why Canadian families are taking on ever-increasing amounts of household debt just to make ends meet.
Canada's flat per capita GDP is in marked contrast with what is going on in other advanced economies, which are rocketing ahead of us. Research by John Cochrane and Jon Hartley at Stanford shows that real GDP in Canada was just under $44,000 U.S. per person in 2021. In the United States, it was $61,000. That is shocking. American per capita GDP is now fully 40% higher than here in Canada.
However, even worse than the government's record over the last several years is the projection for the future. The OECD projects that Canada will only achieve 0.7% GDP growth this decade, putting us dead last among advanced economies. This projection is an indictment of the government's economic policies over the last eight years, and the government's own budget documents admit to this.
One chart in last year's budget, budget 2022, chart 28 on page 25, speaks a thousand words. It is titled “Average Potential Annual Growth in Real GDP per capita, Selected OECD Countries, 2020-2060”. The chart says that Canada's projected real GDP growth per capita will be dead last among advanced economies. That chart is in the government's own budget documents.
The budget in front of us, budget 2023, does nothing to change this trajectory. The budget in front of us is the seventh budget. It should have been the eighth, but instead of the government presenting a budget in 2020, it proposed an unprecedented power grab by proposing to give the PMO the power to approve taxation and spending for an unprecedented year and a half. While the Liberals backed off from that power grab, they set a dubious record for the longest period in Canadian history without introducing a government budget, and their lack of budgetary planning is beginning to show.
The budget in front of us proposes billions in new spending in the form of consumption rather than investments for things like dental programs that are often covered by existing employer and provincial plans. Rather than meeting our international commitments to the rules-based international order by making much-needed investments in our defence and our military, the government has chosen to spread more consumption in the form of programs that will further fuel inflation.
The budget also proposes billions in new spending in the form of massive industrial subsidies. Failing to heed the lessons of the past, the massive industrial subsidies do not work. In fact, the said as much last month in Washington. She voiced concerns about large industrial subsidies and warned against “a new mutually sabotaging competition to provide ever richer corporate subsidies”. That was last month.
This month, the government has introduced massive new industrial subsidies in the billions of dollars for large corporations. None of these policies, gobs of new spending on consumption rather than investment and gobs of new spending for massive industrial subsidies, are working. Canadians' standard of living continues to decline, and many economists are now ringing the alarm bells.
I want to quote from a piece published by Jonathan Deslauriers, executive director at the Walter J. Somers Foundation, and Robert Gagné, a professor at the Université de Montréal. It states:
In 1981, Canadians enjoyed a $3,000 higher per capita standard of living than the major Western economies.... Forty years later, Canada was $5,000 below that same average. If the trajectory continues, the gap will be nearly $18,000 by 2060.
This is an alarming analysis. In light of the recent $13-billion subsidy announced for Volkswagen, I would like to quote another part of their analysis. The article states:
Canada now remains stuck in an interventionist logic dedicated to protecting the immediate interests of Canadian companies. Successive governments have failed to move on from protectionist reflexes and impose the necessary reforms: they should have adjusted the regulatory framework to stimulate the competitiveness of Canadian companies in the domestic market. Instead, Canadian companies continue to operate within an outdated institutional framework that does not value competitive forces.
Here is what the authors conclude if the federal government does not change course:
[G]rowth will remain inadequate and our standard of living will continue to quietly decline unless we put competition back at the heart of Canada’s economic strategy.
None of this should surprise us. Massive industrial subsidies never worked in the past and they will not work now. They distort the price of capital, leading to a less efficient allocation of capital with the attendant declines in productivity and wage growth. Low productivity is the path to poverty. The only long-run determinant of prosperity is high productivity.
With respect to our aggregate GDP, our top-line numbers do not look too bad. However, our overall GDP growth is underwritten by Canada's massive population growth. We have one of the highest population growth rates in the world, including in the developing world. That massive population growth is masking low per-capita GDP growth. If the population goes up 3% but GDP only goes up 2%, people are getting poorer.
The master-of-the-universe types, the CEO types and the hedge-fund types are all fine with flat if not declining per-capita GDP growth, provided we have high population growth, because it means more customers for them by the millions, even if that average customer's disposable income is flat and if not declining, because the number of customers times the disposable revenue per customer equals total revenues. What the exact value of the number of customers is and what the exact value of the disposable income per customer is do not really matter if the multiplication of these two values is higher revenues because on the profit-and-loss statement higher revenues means higher profits, which means higher pay and bonuses for the master-of-the-universe types. Meanwhile, ordinary Canadians suffer to pay the bills as their per-capita income stagnates.
Let me finish by saying this: My parents immigrated to Canada. My father immigrated as a Chinese immigrant from Hong Kong in 1952. My mother immigrated as a Dutch immigrant from the Netherlands in the 1960s. They both left poorer countries and places to come to a much wealthier, more prosperous country. Decades later, the reverse is true. We are in big trouble. We are falling behind big time and we have a government that is utterly incapable of arresting this decline in our standard of living.
For all the reasons I have outlined, I cannot support the government's budget and I cannot support the current government.
Mr. Speaker, as members know, we hear time and time again Conservatives stand up and indicate concerns about the deficit and the debt. Having gone through the pandemic, with respect to the massive investments in things such as Canada's health care system and child support and the amounts of money we are talking about, including the wage loss subsidy programs, CERB, the rent subsidy programs to support small business owners, literally keeping hundreds of thousands of jobs intact, supporting Canadians to be able to get through the pandemic and meeting the needs of health care going forward, do the Conservatives not believe those to be wise investments in Canadians or would they rather we had not done that?
Mr. Speaker, not once in my speech did I mention government debt or deficits. I focused on our declining standard of living.
In the five-year period from 2017 to 2021, economic output per capita was flat. We have not had any per capita growth, and that is why Canadians are struggling to pay the bills. The government has focused its economic agenda on consumption rather than investment. In the long run, only through investment, whether private sector investment or government investment in public infrastructure, are we going to get to higher levels of productivity, with the attendant increases in wages and prosperity for all Canadians, but the government has not been doing that.
In fact, it has been doing the opposite, which is why our per capita GDP is now much lower than that in the United States. Per capita GDP here is $44,000 U.S., while it is $61,000 U.S. south of the border. The American economy now has fully 40% higher output, per capita, than we have here in Canada, and that is affecting our ability to pay for social programs, such as health care and education.
That is what the government does not get and is incapable of addressing.
Mr. Speaker, my colleague spoke about people's quality of life.
Agriculture is a sector where the workers' quality of life has been hit hard this past year. Our agricultural producers have been severely impacted by the cost of inputs and fuel. In Abitibi—Témiscamingue, costs could be $40,000 higher this year than last just because of the cost of fuel. This has huge consequences.
Our farmers need cash flow. There is a rather interesting measure in the budget that would increase the interest-free limit under the advance payments program from $250,000 to $350,000. This helps farmers manage their debt a little better, but does not provide them with cash flow. If we want to maintain our agricultural production and food resilience in Canada, we need to make investments. Why are there none in the budget? What would the member have done?
Mr. Speaker, I come from an agricultural riding that has many dairy and beef farms and farms that produce hay and other agricultural products. I really understand the importance of our agricultural sector and our farmers.
Agriculture is one of the few sectors in the Canadian economy that is a free trade sector and not heavily regulated by government, like the banking and telecommunications sectors are. What does the government do? It saddles our farmers with ever-increasing regulation and taxes, making it even more difficult for them to sell corn, wheat, soy beans, beef or pork on global markets.
The government cannot get anything right. We could be an agricultural powerhouse, but we are not. In fact, the second-largest agricultural exporter in the world is the Netherlands. It is far ahead of Canada. We have the second largest landmass in the world, and we are not taking advantage of it because the government has a completely misguided industrial strategy.
Mr. Speaker, we know there are 3.2 million Canadians who are underhoused. Now, the government set out an ambitious agenda of inviting 500,000 new immigrants a year for the next three years, but it has no cohesive strategy on where they are going to live.
Desjardins has made it clear that we would have to increase all new housing starts by 50% in the next year, just to meet immigration. The provinces are saying they need money for non-market and social housing.
Does my colleague not agree that, after 30 years of Conservative and Liberal governments lacking investments in social housing, this is the time to invest in social and affordable housing?
Mr. Speaker, quite simply, the government is putting roadblocks in the way of constructing purpose-built apartments buildings in this country. It is almost impossible to build a purpose-built apartment building, which is why all the focus is on building owner-occupied dwellings. It is because the government has subsidies for owner-occupied dwellings through CMHC's mortgage insurance, OSFI's regulatory structure and Finance Canada's rules, while on the other hand it is putting up roadblocks to building apartment buildings.
That is the fundamental problem that the government is not even talking about, and it is something it should be focused on.
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak in the House today. I will be sharing my time with the member for .
It is always a great honour for me to stand in the House to speak on behalf of the great people of Don Valley East, representing communities such as Wynford, Flemingdon Park, Don Mills, Fenside and Victoria Village. It is really a true honour to represent these communities within a larger community. Without question, I would argue that my neighbourhood is probably the most diverse and vibrant community in all of Canada. However, I know some may argue that point in the House. We are all proud to be a part of our communities, and I cannot say enough how proud I am to be here today to speak to this important bill.
There is no question that Canadians are going through a very challenging time. Things were tough before the pandemic, but they were amplified during COVID. I grew up in my community, and there were always challenges in my neighbourhood, but it has become more difficult for people. We can see this clearly in my community and communities across this great country. With the increase in mental health challenges, and the lack of affordability, and even of social cohesion, people are having challenges.
However, it is our job in the House, as members of Parliament, to look for ways to bring people together, articulate the challenges we are facing as a society and bring forward solutions in the House to move forward. I think most people in the House would agree that that is our job as MPs. I have to believe that every single person in the House of Commons wants to look for ways to identify problems and bring forward solutions to alleviate some of these challenges.
We have seen these big challenges come forward, but we are making some progress. We have seen an increase in job creation in this country. Inflation has dropped from 8.1% in September of last year to below 4.5% today. There are 865,000 more jobs today than prepandemic, so we are making progress. Despite the rhetoric that comes from the Conservatives, we are leading economic growth in the G7. There is no question about that. Despite all of this success, we cannot ignore the challenges people are going through.
I believe we are all on the same page when we identify the issues and problems people are going through, but the Conservatives and the Liberals differ on one thing, which is the solutions we bring forward. The Conservatives will tell us that the best type of government is the smallest government we could ever find, one that minimizes and cuts, which we have seen before, to do as little as possible to assist people who need help. Under their leader, they have found the solution is to gather support by taking on the fear and anxiety out there to steer people into a discourse and a discussion not necessarily about how they can help Canadians, but how they can amplify the anger that is out there. It is the get-out-of-the-way approach of letting the market take control and everything will be fine.
I think that is a very simple, archaic and naive philosophy, which really ignores the belief that government itself can be used as a mechanism for the common good. I know that is true because I am living proof that good government programs can bring out the best in people. I see it throughout my community all the time. Government can be used as a force for good. It is the belief that we are stronger as a society when we work together, pool our resources and present solutions together.
On this side of the House, we believe that, if we work together and invest in the right programs and services, we can benefit society as a whole. I have seen this with my own eyes. We have seen this on a grand scale historically with investments in programs, such as our national health care programs and provincial education programs, and we have seen it more recently with the child care programs in Ontario and across the country.
However, we know without question that there is a stark difference between the Liberal approach and the Conservative approach. That is why I am a Liberal. When it comes to building good government, one that will invest in people, that is what drives me to continue to do the work I do.
The Conservatives and the are doing something that we have not seen in recent decades in this country. It is usually reserved for a very right-wing international style of power pursuit, where they look for ways to tap into people's anger and actually amplify that anger.
It is kind of like when one sees two people arguing and there is a person on the sideline who is actually amplifying that frustration between the two people, looking for ways to divide those people. I think the is in a position of power where he could use that role to not only critique government but also bring Canadians together. I would argue that the success of this country has been entirely built on the fact that we as Canadians have stuck together when times are difficult. The Leader of the Opposition stands on the sidelines, encouraging people to amplify their anger and frustration rather than offering them real solutions to the problems we face as Canadians.
Even when the solutions are offered to the Conservatives and to the Leader of the Opposition, such as those, for example, in this budget, or many of the initiatives that have been brought forward, they simply disregard those solutions. The Conservatives said that they would vote against the budget even before seeing the budget. To me, that says a lot. It means they are so embedded in ideology, so driven by the pursuit of power, that they are actually pushing all of these great ideas to one side to pursue something completely different.
Conservatives are not interested in exploring innovative new ideas, and I think that this is to the detriment of Canadians as a whole. I want to take the opportunity to tell Canadians what the Conservatives are voting against in this budget.
There is a grocery rebate. I have heard members opposite just disregard it as being a small amount that will not really make a difference. Well, it is a $2.5-billion investment to help Canadians who are struggling to pay grocery bills.
There is the Canadian dental care plan. We are going to expand it so that it helps families who earn under $90,000. This is an important program for people in my community and many communities across the country. There is also $500 million over the next 10 years for a strategic innovation fund and $14,400 of accessible money to students for post-secondary.
This is not part of a new plan. This is a long-term plan that we have had on this side of the House for many years now, to look for ways to continue to invest in people. They are our greatest resource in this country, and we will continue to bring forward ideas that ensure that people in this country have the best options going forward.
I have little hope in the and the Conservative Party when it comes to providing those solutions. Just imagine a party that does not believe in climate change, that will tell one to take one's life savings and invest them into cryptocurrency.
Do not get me wrong, I believe in digital currency. I think there is a pathway for it, but to suggest that one should take one's life savings and invest them to avoid inflation is irresponsible. It is irresponsible for anyone who wants to end up being prime minister of this country.
We know the approach that the Conservatives take. It is a very old-style approach of trickle-down economics in which, at the end of the day, the rich become richer and those who need the most help are pushed to the sidelines.
Many Canadians are frustrated. They feel this way, and we have to acknowledge that Canadians are feeling this way, but we have to take that energy and come together as Canadians to look for ways to bring us together, find solutions, and really build the country as a whole together.
I believe that there is hope in this country. There is an option that is opposite to what the is offering, an approach that recognizes the problems we face, brings people together to better understand the issues, works with Canadians to find solutions and uses the strength of good government to leverage everything we can do collectively as Canadians to continue to put in place programs and services that strengthen our greatest asset, our greatest resource: our people, Canadians.
Mr. Speaker, I think we all bore witness to a bit of a comedy show here and a member who forgets that it is his leader who has divided this nation along many lines, including economic, race, faith, gender, etc. This is a leader of the Liberal Party, the , who has referred to people as racists and misogynists, and who has referred to not having to tolerate these kinds of people, yet the member speaks about division.
The one thing Conservatives are is reflective of the voices of Canadians in this place, and the Liberals can learn a lesson about reflecting the voices of their constituents as opposed to the government telling them everything.
I am wondering if the hon. member has any comments about his leader wearing racist blackface so many times that he actually forgets how many times it was. How come he did not condemn his leader for doing that?
Mr. Speaker, it is so interesting that when the only Black person on this side stands up to talk, the member brings up blackface. I think it is ridiculous. They are a joke on that side. They bring up issues in the House on economic policy, but a Black person stands up and he brings up this issue—
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
Order. When we have questions and comments, we wait for the question and answer to be heard.
We have a point of order from the hon. member for Timmins—James Bay.
Mr. Speaker, I find that we are getting into very dangerous territory when we see a white man in caucus attacking someone of colour over issues of race and then saying that this is about an issue of racism. That is way beyond the pale.
I believe this is descending into debate on the issue.
I will let the hon. member for Don Valley East defend himself.
Mr. Speaker, when the Conservatives were in power, I was in the Ontario government, and I can remember that in their budget, they actually made cuts to refugees when it came to health care. It is a perfect example of the approach and style of the Conservatives when they get into power. It is about cuts. Imagine a Conservative government cutting refugee services in health care. It is unbelievable, but those are the kinds of services we get with the Conservatives in power.
Mr. Speaker, the Liberal Party's role is to exaggerate the benefits of its budget to draw attention away from the things it is hiding and the major oversights. The role of the opposition parties is to cut through the Liberals' rhetoric.
It is all well and good for the Liberals to use “investing in people” as their slogan while completely forgetting about seniors, unemployed workers and unionized workers who are the victims of replacement workers. What a slap in the face from this party that taunts the opposition party about cryptocurrency while giving GST exemptions to those who mine cryptocurrency.
Will we get some consistency and respect for the Constitution in this budget at some point? That would be a welcome change.
Mr. Speaker, I agree 100% that the role of any opposition member is to critique anything this government brings forward. That was exactly the point of my speech.
The Conservatives, the loyal opposition, are in a position of power where they can look for ways to critique and make suggestions for improvement to help Canadians. However, the number one piece, which is important when we are looking for ways to build this country, is to keep people on the same page, keep people together and stop dividing people and exploiting that divide in the pursuit of power.
Mr. Speaker, the came to northern Ontario and said he was too busy to meet with any indigenous people, which I think sent a clear message. However, then he made all these jokes about electric vehicles. The leader of the Conservative Party has never had a real job, so maybe he does not understand this, but in northern Ontario, which is mining country, we are going to be seriously focused on EVs because of the economic opportunities. Then this morning, again I heard the Conservatives insinuating and attacking investment in a battery plant in St. Thomas.
As the Americans are tooling up for a complete overhaul of their economy, we have the Conservatives attacking and undermining EV technology and digital investment. I would ask my hon. colleague why he thinks the does not understand the basics of economics.
Mr. Speaker, I got to spend some time with the member and, like me, he has had many different jobs. I have worked in restaurants where I had to clean the bathrooms. I have worked so many jobs in my life just to try to get ahead, and I think work experience is a really important thing.
As to the , I think the member is quite right that this is the only job he has ever had. He is a professional politician. I think in order to be successful in the House, we need to take the life experience that people face every single day and bring it into forums like this so we can make the best decisions possible.
I would like to thank the member for the question and thank him for his commitment to Canada.
Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise in this House to speak on behalf of my riding of Vancouver Granville.
I want to talk a bit about the measures in budget 2023 that would improve the lives of my constituents in Vancouver Granville and indeed individuals across Canada.
A lot of issues have been discussed over the course of the last little while. My friend and colleague just gave an important speech that reflected some of the challenges we have in terms of the need for good debate in this House. I want to start with things that hopefully we can all agree on.
First is the fight against money laundering. Money laundering has been a central issue in Vancouver and across B.C. These criminal acts threaten the integrity of the Canadian economy and put Canadians at risk. Just last year, the Government of British Columbia released the final report of the Cullen commission on money laundering. The Cullen commission highlighted major gaps in the current anti-money laundering and anti-terrorist financing regime, as well as areas for deepening federal and provincial collaboration. That is why I am so happy and so pleased to see that budget 2023 introduces a new focus on combatting money laundering and terrorist financing and closes these gaps.
The budget announces the government's intention to introduce legislative amendments to the Criminal Code to make it easier to investigate money laundering, strengthen enforcement capabilities and improve information sharing between government agencies. In particular, law enforcement would have the ability to freeze and seize virtual assets with suspected links to crime. Under these proposals, the CRA, law enforcement and FINTRAC would be able to share financial intelligence. We are introducing an offence for those who structure financial transactions to avoid FINTRAC reporting. We are also extending whistle-blower protections to employees who report financial information to FINTRAC.
These are just a few of the many ways we are working to end money laundering and ensure that no terrorists are hiding their money here in Canada. I hope everyone in this House can support those measures.
Budget 2023 also announced measures to protect Canadians from the risks of crypto-assets. We know that Canadians have invested in crypto. There is nothing wrong with that. I have invested in crypto. However, there is a big difference between investing in crypto and telling Canadians they should put their life savings in crypto to avoid inflation.
The crypto-asset market is extremely turbulent and is prone to high-profile failures such as those of FTX, BlockFi and Signature Bank. We are all aware that crypto-assets are not a credible way to opt out of inflation. We have heard this time and again, and it is important for Canadians to know that. If anything, unregulated and risky crypto-assets can threaten the financial well-being of Canadians.
Budget 2023 proposes new measures to protect Canadians, including ensuring that the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions, or OSFI, would consult federally regulated financial institutions on guidelines for publicly disclosing their exposure to crypto-assets. These types of measures would ensure financial security for Canadians.
Speaking of the economy, following the impressive rebound the Canadian economy has made coming out of the pandemic, Canadians need assurances that the economy will remain strong. Inflation is steadily coming down and interest rates are steady. To see how stable the economy is, let us look at the key indicators that most people are concerned about.
First, the federal debt-to-GDP ratio continues on a declining path from 2024-25 onward. Second, the deficit continues to project a decline in every year of the forecast. Third, our public debt charges, as a share of the economy, are projected to remain at historically low levels, and our credit ratings in this country remain strong.
However, we cannot stop there. Our government intends to invest in key areas that are strategically targeted to help everyday Canadians. These are investments that would not risk increasing inflation.
It is vital that economic policy focus on helping middle-class Canadians and those working hard to join it. That is why a major focal point for the budget is affordability. During a time of heightened inflation around the world, the budget proposes new, targeted support to those who need it most.
When times are tough, we have to remember to take care of the people who are struggling the most. That is why in this budget, we will find a grocery rebate aimed at helping people afford essential goods. Over 11 million Canadians and families would benefit. Eligible couples with two children could receive up to an extra $467, and seniors would receive up to an extra $255. When people can worry a little less about providing basic necessities for their families, it gives them further room to thrive, including almost 30% of modest-income individuals and families in my province of B.C.
We are not stopping at grocery costs. Unexpected hidden and additional fees can quickly eat up a budget. They are frustrating and are a sneaky way to hit the pocketbooks of everyday Canadians. This is why budget 2023 takes action to crack down on what we call “junk fees”, whether it is Internet overage charges, roaming fees, extra charges on a concert ticket that one has saved up for or things like excess baggage fees. We are going to work with regulatory agencies, provinces and territories to reduce these junk fees for everyone. We are going to strengthen existing legislative tools and create new regulations to ensure that we curb the escalation of and remove junk fees wherever possible.
Another area my constituents in Vancouver Granville are deeply concerned about is the fight against climate change and moving emissions to net-zero. Canada is a major energy producer, and we have a unique opportunity to build a cutting-edge clean economy. With the help of our highly skilled workforce and partners in the private sector, we will be net-zero by 2050.
However, the federal government cannot do this alone. With the help of provincial, territorial, municipal and indigenous governments, we will help realize this goal. How we do that is going to be important.
We have announced an investment tax credit for clean technology manufacturing, and it will provide support to Canadian companies that are manufacturing or processing clean tech and their precursors. This is going to assist companies across sectors and will apply to those extracting, processing or recycling critical minerals that are essential for clean tech and those manufacturing zero-emission vehicles. The tax credit will also apply to the manufacturing of grid-scale electrical energy storage equipment. By investing in clean, safe technology, we can ensure a prosperous country for generations to come.
It is important to recognize that this budget is a study of contrast. On this side of the House, we have solutions. We have ideas that are going to help make life more affordable for everyday Canadians. We have a plan to build the economy of the future. We are taking care of the most vulnerable in our society, but we are seeing it as an investment into the future of this country rather than as a handout.
We know that tax cuts are not the solution. We know investing in Canadians is. On this side of the House, our commitment is to Canadians and to working with Canadians to ensure that they can support their families, that they have access to affordable child care, that they have access to affordable and high-quality dental care and that the most vulnerable in our communities do not need to worry about where their next meal is going to come from. Most importantly, we will work to give Canadians a sense of hope for the future of this country. That hope comes from their ability to work and live in an environment that is clean, where we take care of our natural resources and, above all else, respect one another in the debates we have and in the way we build a better future.
Mr. Speaker, as I am sure the member for Vancouver Granville knows, a commitment to net-zero by 2050 is not worth the paper it is printed on if we do not stop subsidizing the companies most responsible for the crisis we are in.
He mentioned affordability and mentioned supporting the most vulnerable Canadians across the country. As he knows, 40% of people living in poverty are living with disabilities. In this budget, once again the Canada disability benefit was not funded.
I would like to hear what he is going to do to put more pressure on the governing party to move much more quickly on moving forward the Canada disability benefit.
Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his advocacy.
It is important for us to recognize a few things. First of all, our government has made historic investments in ensuring inclusivity and building an inclusive economy that considers the challenges faced by those with disabilities. There is always more we can do, and it is important for us to find ways, as we move forward, to make additional investments where we can.
What this budget does is look at other means to support those with disabilities, whether it is the grocery credit or dental care. There are so many options and opportunities here for us to help alleviate the burden on all Canadians and particularly those with disabilities. I will commit to working with the member to see if there are more things we can do going forward, because I believe that to build a truly inclusive economy and build a truly inclusive country, we must take into consideration the most vulnerable in our society.
Mr. Speaker, the way Canadians judge a budget is by looking at the previous year's budget to see whether the government has actually implemented the promises it made in that budget.
I went back and looked at the previous year's budget, and there was a commitment that the government was going to introduce a policy to ensure that “profits from flipping properties held for less than 12 months are taxed fully and fairly”. I would love to hear the member's comments on how that implementation has gone. Has the government actually implemented any policies that would basically cut down on the flipping of properties and the financialization of housing in Canada? How is that process going?
Mr. Speaker, as the member across is well aware, every single member on this side of the House in our caucus is fully supportive of those measures. These are important measures to reduce the financialization of the housing market in this country. We are going to keep taking those up.
I note the Conservatives continue to oppose those measures, and I would love for the member opposite to be explain this to the House and all Canadians: While every single person on this side of the House is uniformly supportive of taking additional measures, why do his party and his continue to oppose them? They will increase affordability for Canadians and improve the ability of Canadians to get into good-quality housing.
Mr. Speaker, the government's slogan is “investing in people”. The mammoth budget bill contains a clause recognizing King Charles III as Canada's head of state.
Given that 56% of Canadians and 70% of Quebeckers are in favour of abolishing the monarchy, I am wondering how much it is costing or will cost to recognize that in the budget and what that has to do with the needs of Quebeckers and Canadians.
Mr. Speaker, it is very complicated to get into a debate about our relationship with the monarchy. This is a very important subject for many Canadians, regardless of their point of view.
Debates about our institutions that have a long-standing history and practice in our Constitution are things that are worthy of discussion and consideration. We should always be willing to have those conversations.
What we have seen in the House is an effort to undermine our institutions. We have seen so many examples of that over the last little while. It is really important for us to engage in thoughtful debate and conversation about the institutions that make our country what it is and be able to call into question and challenge those institutions but in a way that is respectful and thoughtful with respect to the views of all Canadians.
Mr. Speaker, I am happy to be here to talk about the budget bill before us and the next steps that the government needs to take to make things a bit better for Canadians.
Just over two years ago, I remember sending out a mailer to my constituents of North Island—Powell River, asking them what they felt about dental care and if that would have an impact on their lives. We were inundated with responses, letters, emails and phone calls, from people across the riding. They talked about what dental care would mean in their lives.
I remember one day going into my office quite early in the morning and a gentleman was waiting outside. He had a slip and had written an extra note on it. He talked about the fact that he worked a very good job his whole life. He had a pretty comprehensive pension but he was struggling to afford dental care. He had some significant teeth issues and that was such a huge gap in his life. Even though he made a fairly decent income, a fixed retirement income, not a totally crazy amount of money, he could not afford it. He said that he was there to talk about himself, but, more important, he was there to talk about the many people he knew who could not afford dental care at all.
I am very proud that the NDP pushed the government to make this a reality. In this budget implementation act, people under 18 years of age, seniors or people with disabilities will be able to get access to dental care, which will fundamentally change lives. I do not think we can ever underestimate how it feels for families not being able to afford basic dental care for their children and when their children experience bad dental health, what it feels like to know that this weight can be lifted from them. If they cannot make it work, what does that mean to them every day when their children are in pain? It means they are going to the hospital as a last resort, and this needs to change.
I also want to acknowledge that this budget is hard for me. I am the spokesperson on veterans affairs for the NDP. For years, I have been fighting for the government to fix the marriage-after-60 gold-digger clause.
I talk to seniors. Just last week, I talked to a beautiful woman in her eighties, who married a veteran after he turned 60. She looked after him for many years, loved him very much and when he passed away, she did not receive a cent of his pension, nothing, after many years of caring and loving another human being. It is appalling that so many people who serve our country are not allowed to pass on anything to their loved ones, the survivors of their deaths, because they were married after 60.
What is particularly frustrating for me is the fact that the veterans survivor fund was announced in 2019. There was a little research done that said, and I know this is crazy, we should be ensuring that caregivers, largely women, of military and RCMP veterans should get something. This clause was made in 1901; it is now 2023. That $150 million over five years has not been moved to one survivor of a veteran, not one. Statistics Canada told us that about 4,400 or 4,500 spouses, somewhere in that range, were subject to the gold-digger clause. They have received nothing from this $150-million announcement.
As much as I will stand here and fight for people across the country to get dental care and to see an increase in the GST rebate so that people who are struggling every day to make ends meet will get a little more, the hard part is that not everything that would be in an NDP budget is here.
One of the other things that I am proud of, but also have a challenge with, is the investment in a clean energy economy to create well-paying union jobs while addressing the climate crisis. The member for was one of the people who worked very hard to make this a reality.
Workers across the country need to know that, as we move forward to address climate change, their having a good job on the side of that process is important to the NDP. We pushed really hard to ensure that employers who were moving forward were doing things that would help us address the climate change, and moving forward in a more positive green and sustainable way. If they are actually supporting their workers, if they are paying them well, they are going to get better tax credits. This encourages behaviour that we want to see in our country.
We also know that the oil and gas subsidies just continue on and on despite being the biggest emitters. They are not being held to account in a way that I would like to see. We are still working on that. I think of the member for who is continuously working on that issue, but the government is continuing to not take active steps. A sustainable future is important.
I represent a rural and remote riding. Our economies have been boom and bust because they are largely resource-based. These communities are doing a lot of innovative and great work to adjust to a new and changing world, but resources need to be put in place for those communities to find sustainability.
I was in Port Alice a few weeks ago, talking to the mayor about some of the challenges that his community was facing. He talked about connectivity and the opportunity that they were not getting. They need that bit of money to help connect them to the fibre that is being laid. We are working on that. These communities are working hard to create economies that are strong and they need supports that are going to help them do that in a sustainable way. I think everyone in my riding agrees that we do not want to continue to see the boom and bust. We want to see a steady boom that keeps everybody paid well and respected for the incredible work they do.
I am also pleased to see that there are some things in this budget to address the most wealthy in our country. We know that the top 1% is making an incredible amount of income and they do not have to pay their fair share. People in my riding have to pay their fair share. They work really hard and they pay their taxes because they believe in having a strong country. They also are frustrated that so many in the top 1% are not paying their fair share.
One of the things we see in this budget is the change to the alternate minimum rate, from 15% to 20.5%, and the removal of the tax exemption for dividends received on Canadian shares held by financial institutions as business income. This is important. It means that they are being held a bit more to account, not to the extent that the NDP would do but it is definitely moving in a direction. This means more of the ultrarich are paying their fair share.
The resources that are needed to address the genocide of indigenous people to the missing and murdered indigenous women, girls and gender-diverse population is being a little more addressed. I am really pleased to see the red dress alert. This is something that can be done to allow a system that alerts our communities quickly to any indigenous women, girl or gender-diverse person going missing. We need that.
When I think of my riding, we have a couple of groups that fundraise. They bead and do different activities. They fundraise to help support those families that have lost indigenous women, girls and gender-diverse people. There are too many missing. We need to do better. This is a step in the right direction, but so much more could be done.
I am also pleased to see that there is more support for indigenous housing in urban, rural and northern indigenous communities. I wish there was more. I do not think there is enough. I know in my riding that urban communities are really looking for strong indigenous housing, and it has been neglected for far too long.
I will be supporting this budget. Politics is hard and I am willing to take that challenge, because making lives better for Canadians will always be my main focus.
Mr. Speaker, I think that when we take a look at the budget we have presented, there are many different forms of direct relief. We can talk about the grocery rebate and about how we would be expanding the dental program to cover seniors and others, but there are other aspects of the budget that are maybe not getting as much attention. For example, there is the enhancement for air travellers. After all, it is a budget implementation bill. We are taking a look at better ways in which we can provide more money up front for the Canada workers benefit.
I wonder if the member could provide some additional thoughts on those aspects of the budget implementation bill or whatever else she might want to talk about.
Mr. Speaker, I am glad to see there is some more movement on passenger rights and strengthening airlines' obligations to compensate passengers. We have definitely seen, during the last while, how frustrating it can be for Canadians as they are trying to travel.
However, one of the other areas of concern is that I did not see anything momentous around housing. I know that, in my riding, we see a lot of people without housing. The challenges of finding affordable housing just continue to grow, and although the province is investing substantially in our region, the need is so high that it would be really good to see the federal government step up as a meaningful partner. We look forward to that.
Mr. Speaker, although I do not agree with the budget, I was very interested in the “gold-digger” clause on veterans. Of course, I have a lot of people who are involved in that and certainly support it.
I wonder if the member can just expand a bit on the “gold-digger” clause, which is a clause about the spouses of veterans who have died. Why is that hung up? Why have we not moved forward with that? What is the problem there?
Mr. Speaker, I have put forward a private member's bill on this, and I just want to remind people that we do not have to wait for my bill to be in the order of precedence. Actually, the government, at any point, could take leadership and address this issue in a meaningful way. My bill is just one suggestion. The government has the power to do that.
The other thing I want to draw the member's attention to is that the veterans committee did do a study, at my request, on this very issue. We talked to veterans and their spouses, who talked about the reality of the “gold-digger” clause. I might add that women across this country are very offended by that name. I have heard from so many of them who say that they are absolutely not gold diggers. They did not marry veterans for their money; they married veterans because they cared about them.
I think there are a lot of acts we can do, but we definitely want to see the veterans survivors fund. That money needs to move and go to these people.
Mr. Speaker, today we are talking about Bill , the budget implementation bill.
In theory, it is a budget implementation bill. We would expect such a bill to contain budget measures. In reality, that is not exactly the case, because this bill that we are currently seized with is a 430-page bill that amends 59 acts. That is a lot. It is a big bill that the government has decided to cram with as much stuff as possible so that the House does not have time to debate and study it properly.
It is a shame, because there is a lot in this bill that we would have liked to debate. There are a lot of things we would have liked to study, but unfortunately, the bill is so big that it is difficult to do that job properly. It is also unfortunate that it is not simply about the budget. Rather, it is a bill that deals with a bunch of other matters.
If we at least had the opportunity to discuss the budget, and only the budget, that would have been fine. There is much to say about the federal budget. As some of my colleagues have already mentioned, the Bloc Québécois had very specific requests for the federal budget that unfortunately were not answered.
For starters, there was the issue of increasing health transfers, which is critically important. Everyone agrees that there is not enough money, not enough funding for the provinces' health care systems. For example, we would like the federal government to fund 35% of system costs. That is not the agreement that was reached with the provinces. The agreements with the Quebec government were disappointing. Even the Quebec government said that it signed the agreement with a knife to its throat. It is a shame, because it is reflected in the budget. A pleasant surprise would have been nice, but we did not get one.
We would have liked to see an increase in old age security starting at age 65. We are faced with a staggering increase in the cost of living. Everyone is struggling, everyone is having a harder go of it, but workers have an advantage over retirees. They can go to their boss and ask for a little more money because it costs more to feed their family and to get to work. Retirees do not have that power, and the government should have listened to them.
When I walk around my constituency, I get told the same thing every day. Seniors tell me that it is insulting to receive pension increases of $1, $1.10, or $1.50 a month. What are they going to do with that? It makes absolutely no difference in their lives, and they feel like they are being laughed at. That is what the federal government is doing to our seniors, and it is really sad to see. The message it is sending is that they are not important.
The Bloc Québécois also expected to see the employment insurance reform that the Liberal government has been promising for years. There is no sign of it yet, but they tell us it is coming. This government has been in office for almost eight years, but the much-touted EI reform has still not happened. However, there were consultations. We saw lots of consultations but not a lot of results. Unemployed workers are getting impatient. Regional workers who are grappling with the spring gap are getting really impatient.
What it comes down to is that this government is not interested in anything the Bloc Québécois requests, because it has an agreement with the NDP to interfere in areas of provincial jurisdiction. Consider the dental care plan, a matter that falls squarely within the authority of the National Assembly of Quebec, since health is exclusively a provincial domain. The federal government waded right in, with the NDP at its side.
That is how we ended up with a budget that does not make any sense and that does not meet the needs of Quebec, that does not meet people's needs. What is worse, as I said before, the Liberals are taking advantage of this opportunity to include a number of measures in the bill that have nothing to do with the budget.
Speaking of measures that have nothing to do with the budget, we got a big surprise when reading division 31 of part 4 of the bill, which is found on page 325. It states that we recognize Charles III as King of Canada by amending the royal titles. This is a budget implementation bill. Do we need to recognize Charles III as the new King of Canada for the budget to work? Is the King is costing us too much money? Is that why the government decided to include that in the budget implementation bill? I do not really understand what that is doing in there.
The Liberals did not mention this at all in the budget speech. Not a word was said about Charles III. It seems as though the government was trying to pull the wool over our eyes. It made sure that there would be no debate about the monarchy. The Liberals know that there are members on the other side of the House who do not like the monarchy and who do not identify with it. Most of the population is opposed to the monarchy in Canada. The Liberals therefore hid that somewhere in the 430 pages of the budget so that no one would talk about it. Unfortunately for the Liberals, the Bloc Québécois is here to talk about it and to say that people do not agree with this and that it is not going to fly.
The ascension of King Charles III should not be formalized in this bill. It should be done in a separate bill so we can have a debate about it as a society. A provision on Canada's head of state has been buried somewhere in the 430 pages of the budget. One would almost think that the Liberals are ashamed to be monarchists or to be part of a monarchy. I can think of no other reason why they would bury this in the budget. It does not make sense. A provision about the head of state is buried at the bottom of the budget. Personally, I would like to be proud of my head of state. I would put it at the forefront and explain how important it is to me. Unfortunately, I am not proud that my country is a monarchy or that it is governed by the Liberal Party.
There are other things in this bill that I find quite relevant and that I would like to discuss. Once again, they are mentioned in the budget, but I do not really understand what they have to do with the budget. These are measures for passengers. It is sad, because it would have been really good to talk about these issues. During the pandemic, it was evident that there was a major problem with rules protecting passengers in this country. The government admitted it, even though it was in denial for so long. Its air passenger bill of rights was a complete failure. The government said that it was because of the pandemic, but, ultimately, the same problems occur season after season. It has nothing at all to do with the pandemic. It is because of the government's incompetence and failure to listen. When the government came out with the air passenger bill of rights, it did not listen and did not do the work properly.
The government is now trying to fix things. That is a good thing, but this deserved a completely separate bill, outside of the framework of the budget, so the matter could have been discussed properly. I hope that we will have the opportunity to discuss this in detail instead of talking about it for just a few minutes along with the other 430 pages.
A drastic change needs to be made for passenger rights. I understand that the government wants to address the issue, but this needs to be taken seriously. We welcome the changes. Sadly, I do not have a lot of time to talk about this during my speech. I would have liked to talk about it for 10 or 20 minutes, even half an hour. We could have invited witnesses to committee to discuss this and see how we might do more to help passengers. This would have enabled the government to introduce a better bill to better protect passengers.
Unfortunately, all I can say is that I am glad the burden of proof has been reversed. The bill ensures that the airlines will have to cover some of the cost of dealing with complaints. The agency's decisions will be more transparent. Carriers will be forced to respond to people more quickly. These are all good things. The compensation categories are staying the same, but under the bill, passengers will be entitled to compensation for any flight delay or cancellation. These are good things, but why were they not introduced in a separate bill?
Why did the minister end up hastily organizing a press conference one morning to make this announcement? Since people might have missed a small item about air passenger rights in this huge 430-page bill, the minister made his announcement at a last-minute solo press conference. He would have liked people to talk about it, but his government did not have the time for it, so he hoped that this would do the trick.
That is sad, because the government does not do its job properly. Its work is shoddy and half-baked, and we will live with the consequences for many years. When addressing such an important matter, the government needs to take it seriously and do it right by introducing a real bill so we can have a real debate and find a lasting solution. Then we would not have the same problems we experienced with the passengers' bill of rights that was implemented by the government and by former minister Marc Garneau in 2019. There was a whole host of predictable problems that could not be corrected.
I hope that the government will listen to us and do the right thing as we move forward.
When we resume debate on this matter, the member for Pierre-Boucher—Les Patriotes—Verchères will have five minutes for questions and comments.
(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)
(Division No. 303)
Collins (Hamilton East—Stoney Creek)
May (Saanich—Gulf Islands)
McKinnon (Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam)
Sidhu (Brampton East)
Sidhu (Brampton South)
Total: -- 204
Duncan (Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry)
McCauley (Edmonton West)
Total: -- 113
Total: -- 10
I declare the motion carried.
The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill , be read the second time and referred to a committee, and of the amendment.
Mr. Speaker, we would be hard pressed to find an individual in this chamber who does not love Canada. However, there is a difference in approach in this House as it pertains to managing the affairs of the country on behalf of the taxpaying Canadians who have elected us.
We are servants in the House of Commons, not masters. If one wants to see greatness, they should not look around this chamber but around our ridings. In my riding, it can be seen in the coal-stained shirt of Jason, the miner who extracts metal-making minerals from the ground in Elk Valley, metals the government has not acknowledged as critical minerals. It can be seen in the hands of farmers like Tyler, who understands the science and the weather, the soil and commodity prices and how to bring food from the fields to our tables. It can be seen in Terry, the electrician in Cranbrook who can send lightening shooting through a copper wire to light up our homes.
Often these people are called ordinary, but they are not ordinary. They are extraordinary. They are the ones bearing the brunt of broken federal policies. They are the individuals paying, from their paycheques, for the inflation caused by out-of-control federal spending.
Waitress Kassidy in Revelstoke can serve 15 customers at the same time, be on her feet all day, have enough energy to help her son with math homework and pay all of her bills on a minimum wage salary, but she is unable to save any money for her and her son's future. She is not ordinary; she is extraordinary.
Police officer Constable Dianne pushes through the pain of recovering someone's overdosed daughter from a homeless camp in Cranbrook or Nelson, and then, with her husband, tucks their children in at night. She is not ordinary; she is extraordinary.
As the has said, that is “the goodness, the greatness, and even the genius of the common people.”
It is the common sense of the common people striving for the purpose of the common home. The people's common democratic home is right here in this place, the House of Commons. All of this is theirs, and it is their common-sense voice that is missing from this budget.
They are the experts on the expense of inflation, an expense caused and fanned by the government. The reality for the hard-working people in Kootenay—Columbia is that life is now more expensive, homes are unattainable, groceries are becoming a luxury and life has become more difficult. However, the says she has “never been more optimistic about the future of our country”. She is out of touch. This should not be the Canadian experience.
This chamber is green because the first commoners met in the fields of England over 800 years ago. They wrestled power away from high society, the nobility, to make themselves, commoners, masters in their own homeland. Would those who wrestled agree with the policies of the ?
On this side of the House, the official opposition remembers what the government has forgotten: We are servants, not masters. It is the common people, those we serve, who are the masters in this free land, and they are the ones who fund the budgets of the day. It is their common sense that is absent from this budget. In fact, this budget continues the 's nonsensical approach of higher taxes and inflationary deficits. It does not make Canada work for the people who have done the work.
On the point of the budget, the Conservatives asked the government for three things. First was that the budget pave the way for Canadians to bring home powerful paycheques by lowering taxes and scrapping the carbon tax. Instead of listening to Canadians, the government is continuing with its war on work and increasing taxes, which means workers are punished for working and will now take home even less of their paycheques. Inflationary spending has caused the cost of food and groceries to skyrocket. One in five Canadians is skipping meals, and people are going to food banks asking for help because they cannot afford to eat.
The 's grocery rebate would give $234 for a single adult to cover the rising cost of food that the government's inflationary deficits helped cause. Canada's latest food price report predicts that a family of four will spend up to $1,000 more on food this year. That is $600 more than the $467 rebate they will receive.
Just this year, the government raised payroll taxes on workers and small businesses. This means that Ken, a forestry worker living in Creston making $66,600, will be forced to pay an extra $255 through the mandatory Canada pension plan tax this year. That worker will also have to pay an extra $50 through the employment insurance tax. That is a $305 increase.
The grocery rebate does nothing more than just give money back to Canadians that the already clawed away with his tax increases. This will not solve the cost of living crisis.
There is more. The government increased the carbon tax to 14¢ per litre on April 1, making it more expensive for Canadians to heat their homes and get to work. The PBO shows that the carbon tax will cost the average family between $402 and $847 in 2023, even after the rebates. By 2030, the 's two carbon taxes could add 50¢ per litre to the price of gasoline. The people of Kootenay—Columbia are already paying $1.70 a litre, which is 40% more per litre than the same fuel 30 minutes away.
We are all well aware, especially in rural Canada, that our food security is dependent on distribution from our truck drivers, those who use diesel fuel. The significant increase in the carbon tax has a direct effect on the cost of our groceries, and the more remote, the more expensive. The cost of fuel is added to all of the commodities shipped, which is a huge burden on the families and seniors in rural Canada.
I could go on. The fact remains that the budget continues the government's war on the worker.
Second, we asked that the budget pave the way for lower prices by ending the inflationary debt and deficits that drive up inflation and interest rates.
Instead of listening to Canadians, the added more debt than all prime ministers combined. He has no plans to balance the budget and control his inflationary deficits, which are driving up the cost of the goods we buy and the interest we pay. Canada's federal debt is projected to reach $1.22 trillion. That is nearly $81,000 per household in Canada, which is more than many households earn.
Worse than that, he is planning on growing the deficit by $40.1 billion. According to the budget, Canada's debt-to-GDP ratio is projected to increase from 42.4% to 43.5%. Last budget cycle, the said that Canada's debt-to-GDP ratio was her “fiscal anchor” and that the debt-to-GDP must decline for Canada's finances to be sustainable.
I would like to repeat the 's words, for the constituents of Kootenay—Columbia. The minister said:
...let me be very clear: We are absolutely determined that our debt-to-GDP ratio must continue to decline. Our deficits must continue to be reduced. The pandemic debt we incurred to keep Canadians safe and solvent must—and will—be paid down.
This is our fiscal anchor. This is a line we shall not cross. It will ensure that our finances remain sustainable.
This means, according to the , that the 's inflationary debt and deficits are unsustainable.
The third thing the Conservatives asked for was that the budget pave the way for Canadians to bring the opportunity for homes Canadians can afford by removing government gatekeepers to free up land and speed up building permits. The dream of home ownership has gone from a reality to a dream for young and old