The House resumed consideration of the motion.
Madam Speaker, the member is not. He is standing up on a point of order to say it is not relevant to a concurrence motion that is dealing with the budget, when Bill is all about the budget. It is all about the fall budget. I just cannot quite understand why the Conservatives, for whatever reason, have chosen to vote against that bill.
When we think about a report from the finance committee on budget ideas, we can take a look at Bill . In listening to the consultations, I can assure the member opposite that Canadians are very much concerned about the pandemic. The very bill the Conservatives do not want to debate today, for whatever weird reason, deals with the priorities Canadians have today.
I concur, they are priorities. The issue is why the Conservative Party does not recognize that providing things such as rapid tests is important. All one has to do is look at what provinces and territories have been saying. They want to have rapid tests. This provides literally hundreds of millions of dollars for the acquisition of rapid tests for Canadians, which are in high demand.
It provides supports today. The concurrence motion is referencing the importance of consultation, and if the members opposite consulted, they would understand that we need to support small businesses. That is in fact what Bill does. If they continued to look at consultations, they would see that many people are concerned about the air they breathe and ventilation in our schools, in particular. They would find that, if they were in fact consulting with Canadians. Once again, that is what is in Bill . If the Conservative Party of Canada really understood the importance of consultation and actually reflected what they were hearing from their constituents back inside this chamber, Bill would have passed long ago.
Now, it is as if the Conservatives have turned a leaf and know how to consult. They are saying that they want to concur in this report because of all the things that they heard in regard to this particular report. However, let us listen to some of the speeches they have given. There were only two Conservative speakers, so far. I sure hope it gets better. What did the members talk about? I made notes of some of the things they were talking about. They talked about cutting back on borrowing and stopping any form of tax increases. That is the message from the Conservative Party. Some members opposite might applaud while others are saying that it is a good start.
However, there are expenditures. This is the question I put earlier. The expenditures the government makes do cost money. “Expenditure” means that it costs money, but just because the government is spending money does not necessarily mean that it is not bringing in money. The example I would give is the Canada child care program. For the first time in the history of Canada, we now have a government that has instituted a national child care program. Let us talk about that program. I am sure that if the Conservatives did their homework, and they did not, they would find that there is a broad spectrum of support for a national child care program. There are even some Conservatives, albeit somewhat shy Conservatives, who actually support child care programs and what the national government is doing.
Some hon. members: Name them.
Mr. Kevin Lamoureux: Madam Speaker, I would not want to embarrass them by naming them.
Here is the reason I like to use it as an example. Let us take a look at the province of Quebec. The nice thing about being in a federal system is that we can see what is happening in different regions of our country. The province of Quebec has been highly successful with a day care or child care program that has enabled more people to have access to child care.
The national government recognized the strengths and benefits implemented in the province of Quebec, and we turned it into a national program. As a direct result of that, we will see that day care across Canada is now going to become a whole lot more affordable. There is no doubt about it.
We will see more day care spots. For the first time, we will see more people getting engaged in different aspects of our society. That could be more people volunteering for wonderful organizations, but more often than not it will enable individuals who would not have been able to work to enter the work force. When they enter the work force, they are going to be paying income tax. It will generate revenue.
Yes, there is a government expenditure. It is going to cost money to ensure that we have that national child care program, but it is also going to allow people to engage in work and generate additional revenues for the Government of Canada. It is a fair policy. It is a good decision for the government to move in that direction.
The Conservative member who spoke before me talked about the government being too concerned about income equality, or that was the essence of one of the points he was trying to make. I can appreciate why the member would say that. I do not know how many times in the past I have talked about some of the actions we have taken in government.
I can tell the member that, in the consultations I have had, there is a good deal of support for the initiatives we have taken to deal with income inequality. For example, when we came into government one of the very first things we did was put a tax on Canada's wealthiest 1%. The Conservatives voted against that, and today we are being criticized because it did not generate as much income as we wanted to see it generate as a government. It is unbelievable.
At the end of the day, it was a smart thing to do. All the members have to do is consult with their constituents. Had they consulted with their constituents, I would suggest that a vast majority of Canadians supported us having an increase in the tax rate on Canada's wealthiest 1%. I can assure members that is the case in Winnipeg North, and I would suggest it is the case in 337 other ridings.
Another issue that we dealt with in addressing income inequality was lowering tax points for Canada's middle class. Again, the Conservative Party voted against that measure. The party that likes to say it wants tax breaks actually voted against a tax break. It was one of the more significant tax breaks in the last 20 years and it voted against it. It just does not make any sense.
We are talking about consultations. I am wondering this. If my friends across the way were to consult with their constituents on this one, what do members think their constituents would have said about having a tax break for Canada's middle class?
I am not a gambling man, with one exception in regard to the member for , to whom I lost a McDonald's meal, but I can tell members that, at the end of the day, a vast majority of my constituents supported that measure. They recognized the value of it.
We can continue talking about consultations and commitments that have been given by the government. One of the earlier actions taken by the government was to listen to what seniors had to say. After a decade of Stephen Harper, there was a huge need to give attention to Canada's seniors. We have seen that virtually from day one, when we came into government, to today. We have had the , the department and 150-plus Liberal members of Parliament actually working with and consulting their constituents. We are participating wherever we can in things such as roundtables and are listening to the different stakeholders, whether they are labour unions or business representatives, big or small. We are trying to get a better understanding of what other things we can do.
One of the common things we hear is with regard to the issue of seniors. We have a very proactive , who ensures that the issues surrounding seniors are a top priority for the government. We even have a caucus group of members of Parliament who talk about the importance of seniors and what else we can do.
I am happy to report to members that, from day one, we have consistently been there to support our seniors. I would like to give a few examples of that.
We will recall that one of the first actions we took was to reduce the age of OAS eligibility from 67 to 65. I recall that I was in the third party in the corner back here, and Stephen Harper was overseas when the Conservatives made the announcement that they were going to increase the age to qualify for OAS from 65 to 67. I can tell members that the reaction in Canada was not very favourable. I suspect that was why Mr. Harper was in Europe during that particular decision. It did not go over well.
We listened to Canadians, much as is expected when we consult, i.e., the consultation on the budget report that we are talking about today. I know—
Madam Speaker, I really believe I should get a bonus two minutes because I had to entertain points of order.
Having said that, with respect to consultation, which is so very important, from the very beginning we have been working with Canadians in a very real and tangible way. An excellent example is what we have done with respect to seniors. In the first few months, there was a substantial commitment for the GIS increase. It was somewhere around $800 or $900 to max out. It literally lifted hundreds of people out of poverty in Winnipeg North. Seniors from Winnipeg North were lifted out of poverty because of that one particular initiative.
I know members want to talk about something more recent. In the pandemic, we had one-time payments for both OAS and GIS. We also supported people by listening to the many different organizations that are out there to support seniors. We literally gave tens of millions of dollars to those organizations to enhance services for seniors during the pandemic. We have now brought forward a budget that is actually seeing a 10% increase in OAS for seniors over 75.
We take the issue of consultation very seriously. We have a and the finance department. As I have referenced before, the , over the years, has been very consistent in terms of his expectations of members of the Liberal caucus. That was to get the sense of, and be advocates for, the ridings that we represent and to bring the voices of our constituents to Ottawa. I believe that, in good part, we do that.
We factor that in, along with the many different types of round tables, meetings and discussions that have been happening through a multitude of different ministers all focusing in with the . In a couple of days, we are going to see a budget that will reflect what Canadians really want to see. It is, first and foremost, going to be a team Canada-reflected budget on Thursday.
I know to a certain degree that the far-right element within the Conservative Party, which has really raised its head in the last number of weeks, will likely be a little disappointed.
Madam Speaker, with your permission, I would like to share my time with the hon. member for .
I want to begin by stressing the importance of pre-budget consultations and their particular significance this year. We are emerging from two years of a pandemic. It has been extremely difficult. Our businesses, taxpayers, workers and families have been through trying times, something quite out of the ordinary. Given those circumstances, it is more important than ever to consult our constituents, our organizations, the business community, so that we are drawing ideas from the grassroots level.
I am an optimist, and I cannot wait to see the budget this Thursday. However, we are already starting to get the feeling today that things are not going well and that there is a chance we will be disappointed. Let us start with health.
We know that the pandemic was very hard on the health sector. There has been a lot of focus on COVID-19 patients, COVID-19-related deaths, and long-haulers. We are there for them. It is still very hard for many people, but we cannot forget the triaging, the surgeries that had to be delayed and the families who have had to go through extremely difficult times.
We have seen this in other countries. Switzerland comes to mind, for example. Certain other countries have more resilient health care systems. They were more resilient because they have been reformed. They have been reformed because funding was available and more hospital beds were available. This enabled them to do better in the pandemic and to reduce the economic costs associated with all the lockdown measures. What we need now in order to deal with future crises, to clear the backlog of surgeries, to clear all the backlogs, are health transfers with no strings attached, transfers that cover 35% of system costs. Indeed, our health care systems need to be reformed.
The Quebec health minister has already presented a major reform plan, but it needs to be funded. As we know, the money is here in Ottawa. We had a long list of health care stakeholders in Quebec today. Everyone was there, including general practitioners, specialists, unions. These people are calling for health transfers with no strings attached in order to ensure predictable funding so that we can plan reforms. These are the people who work on the ground, in hospitals. These are the people who take care of others.
I imagine that the budget is pretty much ready to go, that copies are being printed and bound in pretty plastic covers. When we asked the the question, he said that, yes, the government would be giving small amounts. I am sure the member for will talk about that later. The government is handing out money, but these are ad hoc microtransfers, bits of money here and there. Then the Minister of Health expects us to thank him for that. In the meantime, he is refusing to meet with people in Quebec who take care of the sick day after day.
This is one of our demands, something we need to support the budget. We are proud of that because it is what Quebeckers and others want. The federal government is the one with the money and it has to recommit. We are also asking for the Canada social transfer to be brought back to its 1993‑94 levels.
The Conservatives are on their soapbox again. Last time it was about their love for Paul Martin. Today it is Paul Martin, Jean Chrétien and John Manley. They like all the Liberals who made cuts. As I have said before, starting in 1995, they merged the health and social transfers and then made repeated cuts to them. We are still not back to the same level of funding as we had before.
The Canada social transfer is used for post‑secondary education, social assistance, early childhood education, and educational services. It is astounding to hear the Liberals brag about interfering in provincial jurisdictions when it comes to child care when, for years, they have not made up for any lost ground with the Canada social transfer. That should be done. It is necessary. The provincial governments are the ones providing the services. When the federal government tries, it rarely goes well. We are seeing that right now with Citizenship and Immigration.
I attended and participated in the budget consultations at the Standing Committee on Finance. Before the marriage between the NDP and the Liberals was even consummated, people were already asking questions. The recommendations were presented, and we told them that they fell under provincial jurisdiction. However, they do not understand what these jurisdictions are.
Last week, the member for told me that she understands why the Bloc wants the government to stay out of provincial jurisdictions but that mental health is such an important issue that the government should intervene.
I have no doubt that they are sincere, but sincerity and incompetence do not get us anywhere. What matters is money, and it needs to be given to those on the ground.
Let us talk about the cost of living. As an economist, I know that the supply chain and the issues we have had are partly to blame for the inflationary pressures we are experiencing. The Conservatives are living in their own little world, where the Earth is flat and there is nothing outside our borders.
I know that all these supply problems are a big source of the inflationary pressure, but there is another factor at play. Inflation has been at 2%, or between 1% and 3%, for decades, so families, businesses, governments and anyone who needs to procure goods have planned their finances around a predictable inflation rate of 2%. Everyone was taken by surprise.
The most vulnerable members of society are among those who were taken by surprise. Some families are struggling to make ends meet. They are being told that this is temporary, that it will not last long. They are being told that they only have to go hungry for two years, then inflation will go back to 2%.
The Bloc Québécois believes that these people need to be supported. This must be done through an increase in the GST credit when inflation is above 3%. Indeed, there is a monetary policy commitment that inflation would not exceed 3%. The frequency of cheques could also be increased. It is important to help these people, because they are struggling financially right now.
Let us talk green finance. We want to see that in the budget. During question period today, the once again boasted about eliminating fossil fuel subsidies. To hear him tell it, one would think the Liberals had been in power for six months, but they have been in power since 2015.
The subsidies are still there, and the government is still dumping taxpayer dollars into fossil fuels. That kind of short-term thinking is what gets the world in trouble. That kind of short-term thinking means that, when gas is $2 a litre, we will be even more dependent on it. That is what we need to work on.
Our financial institutions must disclose climate risk. That is under federal jurisdiction, but the one time they do have jurisdiction over something, they do not use it.
We also need to change the the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board's mandate. It is clear from what the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec is doing and from all the financial innovations at Desjardins that people want green investments. We have to put money toward the transition.
The CPP Investment Board has come up with its own strategy. It wants to invest in carbon capture. Carbon capture does not exist, though. It is a last-ditch strategy that may one day enable us to knock out the last few units, the last few metric tonnes of emissions, but they are up to their eyeballs in oil.
Let us talk about access to water. Are the Liberals proud of their legacy? The Chrétien government promised our first nations access to drinking water, Paul Martin made a commitment to that effect, and the current government keeps talking about it, but it has not happened yet, even though drinking water is essential.
I will talk about farming because it is very important to my riding, Mirabel. Earlier during question period, the told us that our farmers know how much they will be getting in compensation. Their market was stolen from them with CUSMA, but they will not be getting their money until next year. I feel like going up to every government MP and telling them that their salary is x amount, but I will not pay it until next year, so good luck with the mortgage.
Those payments need to be moved up. Farmers are important. They are the ones who feed us. Farmers, especially those who are supply managed, are having a very tough time right now because of input costs.
I will close by saying that expectations are high and I am very worried about the signs I am seeing.
Madam Speaker, I would like to begin by thanking the hon. member for Mirabel for sharing his time with me.
These days are particularly important. Obviously, they are quite extraordinary, given the current context. Two years ago, our country closed its borders, implemented health measures and entered the pandemic era. Also, the budget is about to be tabled. There is plenty to say, and I want to begin by looking at the current challenges.
To begin with, we are in an era of shortages: customer shortages, labour shortages and supply chain shortages.
I want to start with customer shortages. Consumer habits have changed. Although economy activity has picked up, some businesses are barely staying afloat. I recently spoke to the executive director of the Terrebonne SODEC, a cultural development agency. She told me that theatres, even the busiest ones in Quebec, are not filling up. They may be open and operating at full capacity, but people have changed their habits and are not coming back.
Now let us talk about the labour shortage. Everyone knows that most companies are having trouble recruiting. We are returning to an era of full employment, but companies are struggling to fill positions. Once again, there is some tension. I recently spoke with a number of people and businesses in my riding. They told me they are having a really hard time finding staff. They are quite stressed out by the fact that Immigration Canada and Service Canada cannot keep pace with the needs of businesses. The wait times are outrageous, forcing some companies to shut down while waiting for employees to arrive. I am talking about temporary foreign workers and workers in the economic immigrant category. I am also talking about companies that simply cannot keep their plants running because there are not enough workers.
Lastly, I want to talk about supply chain problems. Many companies have talked to us about the parts shortages that are affecting the manufacturing process of their products. One of the reasons for this shortage of parts and products is the delay in containers arriving from western Canada. It is also caused by the many shutdowns that occurred during the pandemic. In short, these parts did not arrive. We are at the point where the economy is reopening in most countries around the world, but these companies still cannot produce their goods and are forced to shut down because of parts shortages. We are in an era of shortages.
We are also in the middle of a climate crisis. The environment file is a major one, but our is having a hard time deciding whether to green-light the Bay du Nord project, which would extract one billion barrels of oil over 30 years. Let us not forget that this is a former Greenpeace leader having a hard time making a decision about a project that makes no sense.
Then there is inflation. Lots of people have talked about this. Not that I want to provide ammunition to any of our friends in the House, but I would like to reiterate that inflation is currently at a 30-year high. We are also seeing record-setting rent increases and gas prices. Today, the Bank of Canada released a report showing that businesses think this inflation is not temporary and will last a long time. People are worried, and they have reason to be.
With all that in mind, let us look at what the Standing Committee on Finance did. The committee received 495 briefs from individuals and groups that wanted to have their say about the future budget and wanted their voices heard as part of this democratic process. We listened to them. Between January 31 and February 14, 29 witnesses from all sectors of our economy were called. The committee heard from representatives of community organizations and small, medium and large businesses, and their recommendations were taken into consideration.
This committee's overall objectives are to grow the economy, of course, but also to protect the vulnerable. We also need to make sure that there is still a planet to leave to our children.
Economists agree that for this to happen, we obviously need to increase productivity, but we also need to strengthen our social safety net. I remind members that the Bloc agrees with the report that was presented, but we have several unconditional demands.
The first demand has to do with health transfers. My colleague from spoke about this one. Every time we ask a question about health transfers, the government gives us the runaround, which unfortunately does not help the people who are suffering in our health care system. Our demand is quite simple. We are calling for the federal government to respect jurisdictions. Respect for jurisdictions is the bedrock of the Bloc's mandate. Provincial jurisdictions must be respected. We developed our knowledge and skills over time. The government cannot reinvent the wheel. Our demand is clear. We want the government to increase the Canada health transfer from 22% to 35% of health care costs, and then by 6% annually. We are also calling on the government to restore the funding for the Canada social transfer to its 1994-95 level. This is not rocket science.
Second, we are calling for the government to pay close attention to our seniors. We need to ensure that those who want to keep working are able to do so. I should also point out that this is a solution we proposed for addressing the labour shortage. We are calling for old age security to be increased by $110 over three years, starting at age 65. We do not want two classes of seniors.
Third, we proposed and will continue to propose measures for fighting inflation. Obviously they include short‑term measures to protect the most vulnerable, as others have mentioned. For instance, we suggest doubling the GST rebate whenever the inflation rate exceeds the rate set by the Bank of Canada and paying it out every month. We are asking for an increase to the Canada child benefit to keep pace with inflation. We are asking for targeted support for SMEs. There are also several medium-term measures that could be taken immediately, if the government is willing to be a bit more proactive, in order to help fight inflation and especially to boost our resilience. For example, we suggest building social housing to address the housing shortage. We could also develop segments of the economy that we are missing, such as semiconductors. We know that there is a shortage and that these parts are very important to our economy. There is also the fight against monopolies. It is outrageous that Canada still has monopolies creating certain costs that have been eliminated in other places around the world. The European Union broke up the telecommunications monopolies. Canada should no longer have any monopolies.
Fourth, we want green financing. Our banks must be more transparent. Finally, there is the issue of first nations housing. It is not right that there are still problems with access to clean drinking water and a lack of social housing in a G7 country.
If the trend continues, we will have a minority Liberal government Thursday evening and probably on Friday as well. However, as with every budget, our proposals should be incorporated. The Bloc Québécois's role is to make concrete proposals. That is what we did. The government has often listened to us. We are there for Quebec.
Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for .
Members of these companies have been making record profits. We are seeing CN Rail, for example, with huge profits of over $7 billion. We are seeing Suncor spend $3.1 billion on its shareholders. Canadians are losing their hard-earned money. I am a former energy worker, who the Conservatives often talk about supporting. Never once did the Conservatives go to the workers to talk to them about what it means to ensure the security and dignity that workers across this country deserve.
Soaring housing prices continue to make our country more unaffordable for the average Canadian. Young people are being left behind. Single parents have nowhere to go. Children are not sure what their future is going to look like. We are seeing a world that is increasingly unpredictable. Last summer, we saw record heat waves. We have seen floods. We have seen droughts. We have seen regular communities take on the brunt of this work, yet where is the support? We need to ensure that we work toward rebuilding our economy so that it works for every single Canadian, not just some of us.
I want to particularly highlight some community organizations in Edmonton Griesbach that are doing the hard work to lift up communities, such as Boyle Street Community Services, Hope Mission, and some of the Amity Houses that are spread throughout our great city of Edmonton and are working with everyday community members. They are seeing them and meeting them where they are, so that they actually have a chance to get out of poverty. Some of these families have been living paycheque to paycheque for years, not knowing when they are going to get a break.
We are also seeing huge impacts on young people and their ability to make sure that they have good lives because of student debt. Student debt payments continue to be collected by the current government. Students have paid nearly $4 billion today in student loan payments during one of the most difficult times in our country's history. Young people need support, now more than ever, to make sure that they can actually get to a point where they see that their education is going to pay off: it is not just a debt sentence where they are going to be left with an unimaginable debt load and an unpredictable future.
We need a country that will understand the issues of some of the communities we are leaving behind the most. Indigenous communities have been disproportionately affected by the poverty crisis and are disproportionately impacted by the unjust levels of profiteering by the companies that are partnered with them.
We are seeing the need to increase social responsibility for these companies, to make sure that they are paying into our social safety net and they are continuing to do the hard work. In Alberta, for example, we are seeing that some of these oil companies have forgone municipal taxes. They are not paying municipal taxes. In what jurisdiction do we allow companies not to pay basic municipal taxes? Alberta is one of them. These communities, these municipalities, these reserves and these Métis settlements need that revenue.
I talked just recently to president Herb Lehr of the Métis Settlements General Council. The council predicts that it is missing over $3 million in unpaid taxes due to these companies. That is $3 million that is not going toward the basic needs of family members in these communities: the basic infrastructure that goes into clean water, roads and building communities. We often talk about reconciliation as if it is this thing that is going to cost us billions of dollars, but we often do not even give indigenous peoples the tools they need, such as enforcement to ensure that these companies pay their fair share.
We know that a guaranteed livable basic income is something that would dramatically change our country. It would dramatically change how Canadians live. It would give people the dignity that they need to move on with their lives. It would ensure that our economy works for everyone. When consumers have the power to spend what they need in order to accommodate things such as rent, food and gas, it creates confidence in an economy that can actually continue to grow. We need to ensure that people are living with dignity, and we need a guaranteed basic income now.
When we look at this affordability crisis, we know that long-standing issues the New Democrats have fought for for decades, such as child care, dental care and pharmacare, are things Canadians need now. We are seeing an issue where young people have to go to Stollery Children's Hospital at the twelfth hour to have surgery performed on their teeth because they had no preventative measures. This is actually costing Canadians. We can tackle these issues if only we have the courage to do what is right.
When I think about the struggling families in my community of Edmonton Griesbach, we often think about those who are unhoused, but we do not often think about those in the middle: they are right on the edge of poverty and need help now. They need a huge amount of assistance. They need to see the current government working for them. They need to see their monthly paycheques increase. We need to see justice for families who are working, sometimes three or four jobs, and still not making ends meet. No one in this country should have to work more than one job in order to have a good life. That is what we are living with right now in my community. Community members are working 15- or 16-hour days because they have family members or children who need that support.
I recently visited the Nebula Academy in Edmonton. It is a not-for-profit community school that is working to make sure that marginalized communities can continue to get the supports they need. New Canadians are often abandoned when they come to Canada, with respect to receiving the education they need that is culturally appropriate and in the language of their choice. They want to see their families and religions represented in the place they call home. These are the kinds of programs that are going to go a long way toward ensuring that we have a better Canada for everyone.
Madam Speaker, today we are debating a motion to concur in the report of the finance committee regarding recommendations arising from the pre-budget consultations. As we often hear, budgets are about choices on expenses, services and the investments we are making to create a better Canada, and choices on revenues and who we ask to pay for those investments.
It is therefore good to look at where we are now, or at least where were before the pandemic, when the parliamentary budget office reported that 1% of Canadians shared 25% of the wealth and that 40% of Canadians have only 1% of the wealth shared among them. The pandemic has only accentuated and aggravated these inequalities and differences. Supply chains have been disrupted. We have had labour shortages that are still very critical. We have had climate disasters, droughts, floods and heat domes, a lot of them happening in my riding or adjacent ridings. We have seen the impacts of what climate change is bringing. Now we have an illegal war in the Ukraine that is further exacerbating the situation in the world economy.
How did the inequalities change during the pandemic? Well, billionaires got richer. Billionaires in Canada added more than $70 billion to their own wealth while the rest of those in Canada really struggled. This committee report fails to recommend any solution that would change or reverse this trend. The NDP feels that we need a tax on additional profits that were brought in by many of the big corporations during the pandemic. We need a wealth tax of 1% on superwealthy Canadians who have assets of over $10 million. Instead, we see superwealthy Canadians and big corporations taking money out of Canada year after year. We are losing over $25 billion in tax revenue every year because we are not taxing the people who can afford these investments and are, instead, taxing the people who cannot afford them.
In terms of climate change, there are many recommendations in this report on what we need to do about climate change, and we agree with many of those recommendations. However, we really want to emphasize that a successful transition to a low-carbon future in Canada must be centred on workers. As my colleague from so eloquently said, he has personal experience with that. We need a federal authority created and funded by the federal government that has a mandate to quickly implement a real plan to guide us to that low-carbon future.
Hundreds of thousands of new jobs could be created by bold work on retrofitting our buildings, as 40% of our emissions come from our buildings. The government came out with a plan a few years ago that would do a small part of that necessary work with a combination of grants and loans. It helps people who can afford to do the work up front. They spend thousands of dollars retrofitting their homes and then apply for a smaller grant, or they take on a loan, of $20,000 perhaps, to do the work. However, who that leaves out is the 20% of Canadians who live in energy poverty and cannot afford to spend that money up front and cannot afford to take on any loan, no matter how low the interest. The government recently came out with a plan for climate action that it said would help people in energy poverty, but it is in the form of loans. That will not work.
One area of expenditure that neither the Liberals nor the Conservatives want to eliminate is the billions of dollars the government gives every year in subsidies to oil and gas companies. I could go on and on about this. One of the biggest ones, of course, is this obsession to build the Trans Mountain pipeline, which has now cost over $20 billion. This is $20 billion to build a piece of infrastructure that we cannot afford in light of climate action and that we do not need.