Mr. Speaker, I would let the House know I will be splitting my time, so I will continue from the beginning.
The 's political vindictiveness is hurting Canadians. Since February, Conservatives have been presenting pragmatic and reasonable solutions to help Canadians who are suffering because of the affordability crisis. Instead, the Prime Minister is being vindictive, and he thinks he is hurting Conservatives politically by saying no to our proposals. In fact, he is punishing Canadians with petty political vengeance.
This is the last chance before the summer adjournment to listen to what Conservatives have been saying and to take action for Canadians who are suffering with the high cost of food, fuel and housing. The Liberals need a reality check, so here are some facts they might want to consider. Canadians are paying record high gas prices. Housing costs have had their biggest increase in a generation. The dream of owning a home is withering away for young Canadians. Food prices are up 9.7% this year alone. These are the realities that Canadians are facing, but instead of working to help, the government has the gall to hike taxes and drive the cost of living even higher.
The solutions that Conservatives have been offering for months to deal with this crisis are not radical ideas; they are common-sense ideas. When gas prices started to increase, we asked that the government suspend the GST on fuel to give Canadians a break. Provinces were doing it, and we believed the federal government could offer help too. The said “no”. We asked for relief for Canadians by suspending the carbon tax on April 1. Again, the Prime Minister said “no”. He thinks he can score political points with his friends at the UN, maybe, by making Canadians pay record-high gas prices. He thinks he can hurt Conservatives by acting like we are being careless, but that is just not true. It is clear the Prime Minister is saying no because of politics: It is because it is Conservatives who are asking. It is our idea. The fact is that in both cases his vindictiveness did not hurt us, but it did hurt Canadians.
This attitude is incredibly disheartening and it is failing the people who need help the most. It ignores the facts that single parents are not able to fill up their cars and that seniors are struggling to pay for groceries and rent. We must keep in mind that the cost of living crisis does not affect the at all. He does not pay for his own gas. He does not pay for his own food. He does not have to worry about standing in line anywhere.
Conservatives have also been asking that the tariff on fertilizer be removed so that our farmers and producers are not punished for using the tools they need to work effectively. Again, the said no to this, at the expense of farmers who have been working tirelessly through the pandemic to keep food on our tables.
Conservatives have also consistently been asking the to listen to science and to experts who say that vaccine mandates are no longer required. We have asked that he return to pre-COVID normal in order to allow Canadians to travel unobstructed, to help our hurting tourism sector and to let Canadians get back to their pre-COVID normal. Again, he said no to Conservatives, thinking he was hurting us, but saying no to Canadians is causing irreparable damage to Canadians.
To him, it does not matter that we are not the only ones asking that these restrictions be lifted. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce agrees with us. The Toronto Airport Authority has called for an end to the restrictions. There are the Hotel Association of Canada and the Canadian Tourism and Travel Roundtable. The CEO of WestJet has asked for it as well as the Canadian Airports Council, just to name a few. It does not matter to the . It does not matter what experts say: what doctors, scientists or public health officials say. All that matters to the Prime Minister is that he seize on these issues so that he can wedge, stigmatize and divide Canadians and try to hurt Conservatives. This is probably the most egregious example of his pettiness, his vindictiveness and his hypocrisy.
He travels around the world, and travels around North America today as we speak. He travels to countries without restrictions, enjoying their freedoms, having a good time, hanging out, eating, drinking and partying a little with people who may not be vaccinated. There are no masks on. We have all seen the pictures of the maskless in every country that he has visited over the past year while at the same time telling his own citizens, telling Canadians, they must abide by domestic restrictions that are incredibly draconian and completely out of date.
The 's forced restrictions at home in Canada, while he flaunts his personal freedoms abroad, are theatrics and astounding hypocrisy.
For months, we have been on working on this side to bring solutions to these problems and these challenges. I invite Canadians, and I invite everyone in the House, to go back and look at our record and at the reasonable things that we have been offering. We could have moved all kinds of partisan motions. Even today, we could have presented motions that would have put the Liberals, and even the NDP and the Bloc, in a difficult position. We have not done that, because we want to offer solutions to Canadians. We want to unite Canadians around things that make life more affordable for them, that allow them to visit their families and allow them to be able to go back to work. These are things that unite. These are the things that Conservatives have been offering. What does the do? He says no, and all for political gain.
While we call for action on gas prices and everyday expenses, unfortunately Canadians are paying higher costs. Parents should not be forced to choose between enrolling their kids in sports and putting food on their tables. They should not be forced to rack up mountains of debt just to pay for basic groceries. Young people should be optimistic and see Canada as a place of opportunity. Instead, a recent RBC report has shown that younger Canadians are actually losing money every single month, especially if they live in a big city.
However, the and his government have made it clear that they are more interested in vindictive and petty politics than in actually helping Canadians. At every turn, the Prime Minister has rejected our proposals because he thinks that it helps him politically by hurting Conservatives. While he is focused on scoring points, he is leaving Canadians behind. Canadians are the ones who are being forced to make sacrifices while he sits back and enjoys the praise of his Liberal friends, and I guess his Liberal caucus likes all of it, as well.
Today, we are offering our own omnibus motion of sorts. It is a motion that would give Canadians a break and get their lives back to normal. We do not think that is too much to ask for. We are calling on our colleagues on the NDP and Bloc side to help us help Canadians. They have a chance today to put Canadians first. Our message to our friends in the Bloc and the NDP is not to vote for Conservatives, but to vote yes for Canadians. They can do the right thing, and vote yes for Canadians.
The same opportunity exists for the Liberals. The can continue to be petty and stubborn, because boy oh boy, a lot of the things that he is doing are just pure stubbornness, or he can do the right thing and agree with our common-sense ideas for Canadians. Today, he has the chance to show leadership: to stop his childish games and stop blaming Russia, or the pandemic or whatever excuse he brings up, and recognize that Canadians need him to get to work.
Instead of spending all his time and energy on wedging Canadians and trying to figure out ways to try to hurt Conservatives and make Conservatives look bad, for once the could look beyond his own political future. Our motion would immediately provide relief for families, seniors, farmers, small business owners and commuters who are suffering from high prices. It would give hope to Canadians who are hoping to save up for a home or to those who just want to travel and visit their loved ones. It would help millions of Canadians who are struggling to make ends meet in this affordability crisis. It would help millions of Canadians who work in the federal sector to be able to go back to work. So far, the Prime Minister has utterly failed these people. He has abandoned them in order to play political games.
Today, we are offering our final chance. This is our final opposition day motion. Today, we are offering a final chance to put vindictive, petty politics aside and deliver the relief that Canadians need before the summer holidays begin. It is such an important time, and this year more than ever Canadians want hope. Conservatives are offering that hope. We ask today that the take the opportunity to give Canadians hope and opportunity, and know that things can be better for them, for their children and for this country.
Mr. Speaker, I want to highlight the excellent work of the , who today made a passionate plea on behalf of Canadians who are struggling and having a hard time making ends meet. By moving this motion today, the Leader of the Opposition clearly showed her support for Canadians, families, young people, workers, seniors and everyone affected by the skyrocketing cost of living.
Inflation is going through the roof. The cost of everything is rising more than it has in years. Take, for example, the cost of food, which has gone up about 10% over the past year. That means, on average, the cost of some grocery items has gone up by 20%, 25% or even 30%. Unfortunately, those items are often the ones people need the most. We have not seen prices go up like this since 1981.
The motion that the official opposition brought today is eminently sensible. It calls on the government to listen to Canadians for once and to set partisanship and the 's vindictiveness aside in order to do what is right: provide a little relief to Canadians who are struggling to make ends meet.
Over the past few days, the Prime Minister and his ministers, including the , have all demonstrated a total lack of compassion for what Canadians are going through. We have presented quite a few proposals, all of them just and sincere, to make things more manageable for people. Unfortunately, the government chose to say no to the Conservatives' proposals every time. What worries me is that the Prime Minister's attitude suggests he said no to the Conservatives because these good ideas were coming from the official opposition and the Conservatives. He wanted to punish the Conservatives by rejecting their ideas, which included lowering the gas tax and cancelling the carbon tax hike. Those were logical, eminently sensible proposals.
However, by doing that, the Prime Minister punished Canadians instead. He prevented Canadians from enjoying a bit of a break. He did not hurt the Conservatives, he hurt Canadian families, young Canadians, seniors and workers. That is the reality.
Today, we are giving him the chance to make amends. That is something he can do. We have moved a very sensible motion that the government could support to show a bit of compassion to Canadians. It is his last chance to do so, since this is the last opposition day. This is the last chance a member can move a motion in the House calling on the government to act now to provide some relief for Canadians. Based on what we have heard so far, this likely will not come from the Liberal benches.
The Liberals truly need to come down to earth and get in touch with the reality of Canadians. During question period, we call them out on the increased cost of living, because everything is going up. The price of gas is $2.23 or $2.32 a litre in some places in the country. It is crazy. When we ask them questions about that, the Liberals say that in their budget they lowered child care costs for families, brought in an expensive dental care program, and so on. These are all sorts of things that are likely connected to the coalition agreement the Liberal government made with the NDP, but none of them will do anything at all to help families that are suffering.
I had the opportunity to speak with some people from ORAPE, a food bank in my riding. Over the last few weeks, demand has gone up 10%. More and more people cannot make ends meet and are urgently going to the food bank so they can get a bit of food and make it until the next cheque, because everything costs more.
Workers are telling us that they can no longer afford the gas they need to get to work. Other parents are telling us that they can no longer afford to drive their kids to activities and that they are having to make choices: buy a bit more meat for dinner, or take the kids to a few more activities. This is Canada, in 2022, and families are being forced to make these kinds of choices. If someone had asked me last year if I thought this was possible, I would have said no. Today, this is the reality that many Canadians face.
When we hear the answers from the and ministers, including the , it is as though none of this exists. They think that inflation is global. It is all over the place, and according to them, Canada is doing a little bit better than everywhere else. However, looking at the numbers, we see that this is because inflation in Canada is not calculated the same way as it is in other countries. We are being told that everything is fine, that Canada is doing better than other countries and that this will continue to be the case. That kind of answer offers absolutely no help to families and the people who are struggling to make ends meet and are forced to make tough choices.
I would remind members that 25% of Canadians have been forced to make tough choices like buying less food to make ends meet, and that 40% of families and Canadians earning less than $50,000 a year are going hungry. When I say “families”, I am not just talking about families with children; I am talking about all kinds of families.
However, when we tell the these things, we are told to look at the latest budget and all the measures that will be introduced several weeks or months from now. We are told to look at the decisions that were made to deliver a budget that clearly proves that this government failed to see the current crisis on the horizon. There is absolutely nothing in the most recent budget to help families now, to help them deal with the crisis of high gas prices, to help people make ends meet. The budget includes a lot of spending for later, but the crisis is happening right now.
Are we going to ask people to keep tightening their belts, to not eat, to make hard choices and not send their children to their activities until these measures are implemented several years down the road? That is unacceptable. We cannot tolerate it. We cannot accept the government acting this way.
That is why we have introduced an eminently sensible motion that calls on the government to temporarily reduce the tax on gas and diesel and give Canadians a break. The price at the pump right now is $2.32 a litre.
In addition, we are calling on the government to scrap the carbon tax increase. They keep telling us that the carbon tax will be given back to families. Until those families receive a cheque, which will not be for the exact amount they paid, they need to put food on the table. That cheque will not give them any.
We are also asking the government to eliminate the punitive measures at airports to help the tourism industry and our small businesses across our regions. That will spur economic activity and put more money in people's pockets. That is the reality.
We have been proposing these measures since January. The various measures included in this motion were presented to the government previously. Each time, the said no. He said no to Canadians in need, to the most disadvantaged Canadians. However, more and more Canadians in the middle class, who are working very hard to stay there, are also finding it increasingly difficult to make ends meet.
That is why today we are appealing to the government, the Bloc Québécois and the NDP. We are asking them to support our motion, which will give Canadians a bit of a break, something they currently need. I believe it is the right thing to do. We must avoid partisanship and saying no to the Conservatives simply because it is a Conservative motion. It is not a Conservative motion, it is a common sense motion for Canadians.
Mr Speaker, I will be sharing my time with my friend, the hon. member for .
Canadians are feeling the effects of inflation, especially at the pump and at the grocery store. This situation is largely attributable to the residual effects of the pandemic, namely supply chain disruptions, China’s zero-COVID policy and, especially, the economic repercussions of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. This means that Canadians are paying more, especially for energy and food.
I would like to remind my colleagues across the aisle that inflation is being felt around the world and that, right now, in Canada, it is lower than in our peer countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany. It is even even lower than the G7, G20, OECD and European Union averages.
I would also like to remind my colleagues opposite, who like to blame all the world’s woes on government spending, that it is thanks to our federal government that Canadian workers were able to continue receiving a paycheque during the pandemic.
The reason why we implemented so many supports and programs is precisely so that Canadians could continue to put food on the table, heat their home and gas up their car. These programs proved to be absolutely essential for Canadians and the Canadian economy to survive the pandemic.
It is thanks to our support and that fact that we avoided austerity measures during the pandemic that the Canadian government was in the position to withstand the omicron wave, supply chain disruptions and many other situations.
The Canadian economy is recovering strongly right now. We recorded the fastest growth among G7 countries in the first quarter, and our real GDP, taking inflation into account, is now higher than what it was before the pandemic. That is remarkable.
Canada not only has the strongest and fastest economic recovery, but has one of the strongest and fastest employment recoveries in the G7. In fact, there are more Canadians working now than at any other time in the history of recording unemployment in this country, that is, over the last 50 years.
We have recovered 115% of the jobs lost in the very difficult and awful first months of the pandemic. Compared with other countries, that is an extraordinary recovery. Even in the United States, just 96% of jobs have been recovered. Canadians, our entrepreneurs and small business owners have created 3.5 million jobs in the last two years alone.
As the job numbers continue to increase and our output lost during the pandemic is being recovered, the focus in our most recent budget has been on making life more affordable for Canadians and making targeted investments that will build Canada’s economic capacity and support Canadians while doing so. However, before I get into that, let me address specifically what the Conservatives are proposing in their opposition day motion today and why these ideas are at best misguided.
The only concrete economic policy proposals that have come out of the Conservative Party recently are the temporary suspension of GST on gas and diesel and the cancelling of the price on pollution. That is it. This is the extent of the economic policy proposals we have heard from the Conservative Party.
That is all. It is just incredible.
As pointed out before in the House by many, there is absolutely no guarantee these large oil and gas companies will pass on any savings to Canadian consumers. It rests entirely with these companies to choose whether or not Canadians see any savings and relief at the pumps.
I know the price on pollution is a matter of huge contention in the Conservative leadership race. I know they are still deciding whether there is a climate crisis, and there have been many positions on this issue. In fact, there have been as many positions as there have been Conservative leaders in the past six years. However, on this, economists and scientists are very clear: A price on pollution is the most effective way to fight climate change.
The PBO has confirmed that our approach is putting more money back into the pockets of eight out of 10 Canadian families through our climate action incentive. That means Canadians receive more money back than they are paying at the pump with the price on pollution.
It is also ironic that the Conservatives are claiming that our fiscal policies, or perhaps the fiscal policies of the Bank of Canada, which they like to impugn, are somehow to blame for global inflation. They are now putting forward policies in this very motion that economists would all agree increase demand at a time of supply shortage and at a time when these policies would exacerbate inflation, although this may not come as too big of a surprise after the Conservatives campaigned on a $168-billion deficit.
The Conservative motion also proposes the easing of sanctions against Russia. I would like to tackle this head-on. The Conservatives stood up and applauded the sanctions against Russia and today are asking us to remove them.
When it comes to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, our policy is simple. We have one of the world's leading sanction policies and will continue to target Putin and his cronies. This is what the people of Ukraine are asking for, this is what the global community is asking for and this is what Canadians are asking for. However, for some reason, 100 days into the war the Conservatives are willing to fold to Russia. Perhaps they are under pressure from Russia. Who knows?
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
Mr Speaker, since we came to power, we have made real improvements to make Canadians’ lives more affordable, and these investments are helping Canadians now, despite inflation.
It was our government that introduced the Canada child benefit, which will give Canadian families almost $7,000 per child in benefits in the coming year. We also expanded the Canada workers benefit to support an additional one million Canadians, which could represent $1,000 more per year for full-time workers. We are also the government that increased the guaranteed income supplement maximum benefit for single seniors by 10% and decreased the age of eligibility for old age security and the GIS from 67 to 65.
Conservative members should bear in mind that all our major government benefits are indexed to inflation, including old age security, the guaranteed income supplement, the Canada child benefit, the GST/HST credit and many others. That means that benefits increase with inflation.
The Conservatives have attempted to block, at every turn, our support for Canadians. The Conservatives voted against our tax cut for middle-class Canadians and are now proposing a tax cut for the oil and gas sector, which is making huge profits. We will continue to put forward real, progressive policies that will support real Canadians.
Let me just take one example from our most recent budget. We all know that seeing a dentist is expensive. In fact, a third of Canadians do not have dental insurance, and in 2018, more than one in five Canadians said they avoided getting dental care because of the cost. This is an affordability issue that we are tackling head-on. We are investing in order to support Canadians and in order to help them pay their bills. There are numerous other examples in the budget.
As I am almost out of time, allow me to mention briefly the fact that our budget is tackling the housing crisis. Our budget is ensuring that we are supporting Canadian families by subsidizing child care. I could go on and on. These are real policies helping real Canadians, and I would invite the Conservatives to vote in favour of the budget rather than presenting a motion that is clearly void of any tangible economic policy to help Canadians.
Good morning to all my hon. colleagues here in the House. It is always a pleasure to rise in this honourable place and speak to Canadians and the residents of Vaughan—Woodbridge on the issues that matter most to them.
Today we are speaking to the opposition day motion put forward by the member for , a very good friend of mine, with regard to a matter that is very important to Canadians in terms of where we are in the world today and the pressures that Canadians are facing at home and that my family faces. I am raising three daughters. We know that the expenses Canadian families are facing are elevated and we need to be cognizant of that. Our government is cognizant of that.
Before I begin my formal remarks, tomorrow my oldest daughter is turning 11, so I am selfishly going to take the time to wish Eliana a very happy birthday. I hope to see her tomorrow evening. If that happens, great, but we will celebrate nonetheless tomorrow and in the days to come. I am blessed. God has blessed me with three beautiful daughters. They are the love of our life for my wife and me, and the time I have with them when I am back home is always very special. I try to be as present as possible. Happy birthday to Eliana.
We do know that in this time and in today's world, we are facing very elevated commodity prices, energy prices and food prices as a result of a number of factors that are unfortunately beyond our control, including the barbaric invasion of Ukraine by Russia and supply chain bottlenecks due to COVID-19 that are still being sorted out. We can look at the price of a container, for example. In my riding a container used to cost about $3,000 to go FOB from Europe to the port of Halifax, and the same container today costs about $12,000 to $15,000 to bring in products. That is just one data point, and there are many others.
One thing that is sort of within our control is how we fight climate change. As an economist, I know carbon pricing is a very effective tool in fighting climate change. We know that is what the international experts are saying. We know the world needs more of Canada's energy, both renewable and non-renewable, but we know there is a transition happening. I have read the opposition day motion from my hon. colleague and friend from , and the reference to suspending the pricing on carbon is something I disagree with. As an economist, I know we are doing the right thing.
With that, climate change is one of the most pressing issues of our time, and carbon pricing is the backbone of our climate plan. In recent years, climate change has had unprecedented effects on Canadians. Impacts from climate change are wide-ranging, affecting our homes, the cost of living, infrastructure, health and safety, and economic activities in communities across Canada. We saw that in B.C. with the recent floods, which we had to react to, and we did. The latest science warns us that to avoid severe impacts of climate change, greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced significantly and urgently to hold the global average temperature to 1.5°.
In April 2021, the Government of Canada responded by submitting a strengthened national emissions target of 40% to 45% below 2005 levels by 2030, in addition to its goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. On March 29, the government released the 2030 emissions reduction plan, outlining how Canada would meet its 2030 target. The plan builds on a strong foundation, starting with Canada's first-ever national climate change plan in 2016 and then our strengthened plan, which was released in 2020.
Carbon pricing is central to all of these plans because it is the most efficient and lowest-cost policy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Unlike the policy of the Conservative Party, which in its platform released a bureaucratic, inefficient program that would not have the desired effect of lowering greenhouse gas emissions, our policy of carbon pricing continues to be the most efficient market-based pricing mechanism to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from coast to coast to coast in Canada. I hope it is emulated throughout the world, as different mechanisms have been. We can look to Europe, of course.
We have heard from stakeholders across the country that consistency and predictability are key to unlocking investments in this low-carbon economy. We also know that businesses and industries are developing innovative technologies and approaches to reduce emissions. They need clear incentives and supports to put those technologies into practice. Carbon pricing creates those incentives without dictating any particular approach. It lets businesses decide how to best cut their emissions.
At the same time, Canadians are facing an affordability challenge, especially the most vulnerable Canadians. The federal approach to carbon pricing is designed to maintain the consistency demanded by industry and investors while prioritizing affordability for Canadians. We know it is not enough to create a cleaner economy; we have to make sure that Canadians can afford it.
It is true that pricing carbon pollution will modestly increase fuel costs by about 2¢ per litre of gasoline in 2022, and we know every little bit counts when gasoline prices are hitting north of $2 a litre. We see it, but carbon pricing has never been about raising revenues; in fact, our plan allows most households to end up with more money in their pocket than what they have paid in approximately eight out of 10 households. Wherever federal fuel charge proceeds are returned directly to households, eight out of 10 families actually get more back through climate action incentive rebates than they paid, meaning this system is helping with the cost of living for a majority of Canadian families.
For example, the average cost impact of carbon pricing per household in Alberta is expected to be about $700 in 2022, but this is less than the average climate action incentive payment of about $1,040. In Ontario, the average household cost is estimated to be about $580, but households will receive back, on average, about $7l0. These estimates take into account direct costs like paying more for fuel and also indirect costs like paying a bit more for goods and services. Families in rural and small communities are eligible to receive an extra 10%. Households can use these funds in any way they want. They can use them to absorb the extra 2¢ per litre of gasoline if they choose.
Any households that take action to reduce their energy use would come out even further ahead. Zero-emission vehicles are an option, with federal purchase incentives helping reduce the costs. The federal government is also supporting home energy retrofits under the Canada greener homes grant to reduce energy use at home, save money, and yes, cut pollution by reducing greenhouse emissions.
The Government of Canada has also committed to return proceeds collected from the federal output-based pricing system, the OBPS, to the jurisdictions of origin. Provinces and territories that have voluntarily adopted the OBPS can opt for a direct transfer of proceeds collected. Proceeds collected in the other backstop jurisdictions will be returned through the OBPS proceeds fund, which is aimed at supporting clean industrial technologies and clean electricity projects.
Climate change is a serious challenge, and it requires serious but reasonable leadership. This is an opportunity that Canadian industry, businesses and workers are taking hold of and leading globally. It is a very big opportunity. Canadians want to take advantage of the significant opportunities in the low-carbon economy. Analysis by the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate estimates that transitioning to a low-carbon economy will deliver an economic gain of $26 trillion U.S. and generate 65 million new jobs globally.
Just as we put a price on carbon pollution, we are also making historic investments in clean technology, innovation and green infrastructure to drive economic growth and yes, reduce pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, including $9.1 billion in new investments to cut pollution and grow the economy as part of the 2030 emissions reductions plan.
The “2030 Emissions Reduction Plan: Canada's Next Steps for Clean Air and a Strong Economy” reflects submissions from over 30,000 Canadians, provinces and territories; indigenous partners; industry; civil society and the independent net-zero advisory body. This plan represents a whole-of-society approach with practical ways to achieve emission reductions across all of the economy.
Canada is not alone in fighting climate change and pricing carbon pollution. The cost of inaction on climate change is enormous, and as a government and as a society, we must continue to ensure that we achieve our net-zero by 2050 goals and also make sure that the transition is affordable for Canadians.
On the affordability front, through the last several years our government has put in place two major tax cuts for middle-class Canadians. Literally tens of millions of dollars have been returned to the pockets of Canadian families. The Canada child benefit is another measure, along with the Canada workers income benefit. The upcoming 10% increase in old age security for seniors will benefit over 3.3 million seniors.
We understand that we need to assist Canadian families in getting ahead and we will continue to do that.
I look forward to questions and comments.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by saying that I will be sharing my time with my hon. colleague, the member for .
I am pleased to rise today to speak to the motion moved on the Conservative Party’s opposition day. This motion comprises many of the motions that have been moved by the Conservatives here in the past, most of which were defeated. They decided to take all these motions and lump them together, claiming that they were right and everyone else was wrong.
I will begin by quoting Albert Einstein, hoping that my colleagues will not be offended that I am citing a scientist. He said that “we cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them”. Let us be clear. Inflation is a real problem that concerns our constituents, but we need more than simplistic solutions to deal with long-standing patterns and complex phenomena. It is not enough to resort to libertarian monetary fads, such as cryptocurrency, to overcome rising prices caused by demand outstripping supply in the context of a labour shortage. Also, the word “cryptocurrency” is strangely absent from the motion, unless we should be expecting an amendment from the hon. member for . We will see.
We are dealing with a real conflict in terms of the distribution of wealth and equity. I am not saying that this is the crux of the problem, but it is one of them. There appear to be three fundamental differences between Canadian and British Conservatives. First, British Conservatives defend sovereignty. As we know, it was the Conservatives who orchestrated Brexit. Second, they did not fire their leader. Third, they are concerned about their most disadvantaged citizens. Boris Johnson’s government plans to levy an exceptional 25% tax on gas and oil company profits in an effort to return the revenues to households experiencing the greatest difficulties.
Canada’s Conservatives, on the other hand, are proposing that we suspend the goods and services tax on gasoline and diesel. That is pure demagoguery. Obviously, many Canadians get angry when they go to the pumps. Their anger is the most understandable and legitimate in the world and, for many of them, this simple solution may appear to be eminently sensible. They likely think that it would give them a bit of breathing room. The problem is that this is a false solution to a real problem. As long as oil companies control prices, they will obviously be able to increase them.
Oil companies understand full well that, despite people’s anger, they have no other option right now than to go to the gas station and fill up their tank. If we were to suspend the tax, the oil companies would only increase their prices. It is that simple. That is the problem. Even if consumers were to pay less in the short term, which is not guaranteed, prices would soon increase. One could even say that this motion moved by the Conservatives is a gift for their oil company friends.
An hon. member: Oh, come on!
Mr. Simon-Pierre Savard-Tremblay: Mr. Speaker, I am sorry to have unsettled my colleagues with this surprising revelation this morning.
In this morning’s Journal de Montréal, Michel Girard, in an article entitled “Les pétrolières nous pompent des milliards”, or oil companies are siphoning billions out of our pockets—another article that will prove to be unsettling for some—reported on the expected and past profits of several major oil companies. Suncor Energy pocketed $11 billion in 2022, Imperial Oil made $6.2 billion in profits in 2021, and Valero Energy made $6.5 billion in profits last year. Internationally, Shell is expected to pocket more than $40 billion this year. Moreover, the energy sector subindex has risen by 43% since the beginning of the year, and that followed a 42% increase in 2021.
I will now address the Quebeckers and Canadians who are listening to us. Here is the proof: Your inflation is their loot. It is that simple. We need a transition plan out of fossil fuels. We have been saying that for a long time, and we will continue to say it. We need to take action.
Obviously, it will not happen overnight. We do not want to lay anyone off tomorrow morning. There are workers in the sector. The aim is not to lay them off, but it goes without saying that decreasing our dependence on fossil fuels means decreasing our dependence on fossil fuel price fluctuations. That is just logical.
Today, as drivers are going broke, shareholders are celebrating. Sadly, there is nothing in the Conservatives’ motion about that. Still, the oil companies are not the only ones to be making record profits we could easily describe as obscene. Consider banks, with their astronomical senior executive salaries and profits in 2021.
Combined, the National Bank, Laurentian Bank, Royal Bank of Canada, Bank of Montreal, TD Bank, Scotiabank, CIBC and Desjardins Group earned $60.68 billion in profits. That is a 39% jump, or about $17 billion more, over the previous year, which was also a pandemic year.
The Royal Bank of Canada was the biggest profit maker, raking in $16.05 billion, an increase of over 40%. It was followed by TD Bank, with $14.3 billion, an increase of 20%. Scotiabank pocketed $9.99 billion, an increase of 45%. The Bank of Montreal posted profits of $7.75 billion, an increase of over 52%. CIBC took in $6.45 billion, an increase of more than 68%. National Bank made $3.18 billion, an increase of more than 53%. Only Laurentian Bank did not do as well as in the previous year.
Now let us look at salaries. The CEOs of these eight financial institutions took home $88.87 million, compared with $71.52 million in 2020. Not everyone is experiencing the crisis in the same way.
According to Canadians for Tax Fairness, 111 publicly traded companies headquartered in Canada recorded profits over $100 million in the first nine months of the year. Thirty-four of these companies posted record profits during a crisis. Let me repeat that: during a crisis. The top earner was TC Energy, formerly TransCanada, whose Keystone project has been in the news for years. The company made $3.5 billion in profit on sales of $9.7 billion in the third quarter.
Meanwhile, SMEs are going into debt. We need to levy a tax on profits exceeding $1 billion for banks, insurance companies, oil companies and big box stores. The tax revenue should be used to fund assistance programs, particularly for SMEs. That is how wealth is redistributed. That is also how the impact of the crisis is evenly distributed.
The Biden administration in the United States has proposed a tax on the super-rich to finance its postpandemic investment plan. There would be a tax on unrealized capital gains, in other words, a tax on dormant income, which would apply to approximately 700 taxpayers and would raise hundreds of millions of dollars, guaranteeing that the wealthiest Americans pay their fair share to finance the historic investments needed for a strong recovery.
Last year in Canada, the Parliamentary Budget Officer estimated that a tax on excess profits earned by big firms in 2020, during the pandemic, would have generated $7.9 billion for the federal treasury.
One promising solution that should be considered is a global minimum tax. In June 2021, the G7 finance ministers met in London and reached an astonishing landmark agreement to establish an international corporate tax rate of at least 15% and improve the distribution of tax revenues from multinationals.
I only have six seconds left, but I still have so much to say.
Before I take questions, I will conclude by thanking my colleagues for listening so carefully and by stating that the Bloc Québécois will not support these bogus solutions to real problems.
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague from Saint‑Hyacinthe—Bagot for that excellent speech.
I have here the Conservatives' opposition day motion. The motion is quite detailed and long. It includes all their failed initiatives from this parliamentary session. For their sake, I am glad it all fits on a letter-sized page. It includes a number of whereases that are hard to argue with, especially the ones about the high cost of living. That is a simple fact. We know inflation has gone up and the price of goods has gone up.
The whereases are fine. Things are off to a good start. For example, we know the price of gas is over two dollars. We are aware of that. People in my riding are worried about it. The same goes for the price of food, which has gone up over 9%. Other goods have gone up even more. We know that.
The motion also says that heightened inflation is projected to persist longer than was reasonably believed a while ago. Obviously, economic projections are made with the best information available at the time, and nobody predicted the war in Ukraine. The point is, it is true that the cost of living is higher and will remain higher for some time.
Based on the solutions offered in the motion, however, it is clear that, although they identified the symptoms of inflation correctly, the Conservatives do not understand the causes. They did not do their homework, and the facts cannot lie. Facts can be checked. The Conservatives are laughing, but they will learn.
The facts show that household demand has continued to increase, but it is not much higher than it would have been without the pandemic. Habits have changed and people are consuming less services and more goods, which has led to supply chain issues. This is true in Canada, it is true in Quebec and, because we cannot ignore the rest of the world, it is true in the majority of other developed countries.
On top of that is the war in Ukraine. The war in Ukraine has most certainly had an effect on supply chains, an effect that is still present today, for example, on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Russia is using supplies of grain, food and fuel as a weapon of mass destruction, which has made food prices here skyrocket. This weapon is also being used to make developing countries suffer because they are being held hostage. This is very real.
If we look at the figures, we can see that 70% of the factors driving the price increases are what we call supply-side factors. Neither we nor the Bank of Canada have any influence over these factors. That is our economic reality. It is unpleasant, hence all the grandstanding we are seeing, but that is our economic reality.
The Conservative motion proposes solutions to all these supply shock problems. The first solution is to end all federal restrictions on travel, masks and so on. There are not many federal restrictions left, but a few still remain. That is already out of touch.
I am a member of the Standing Committee on Health, and last week we heard from Dr. MacDonald, a professor at Dalhousie University who specializes in pediatrics and infectious diseases. I asked her if she thought that politicians should stop meddling in health measures and including specific health measures in motions in Parliament. She replied that she agreed, that it did not make any sense. She said that parliamentarians should stop dictating health measures and that these decisions should be made by public health authorities.
This is true of the Conservatives' motions, but it is also true of the Liberals, who may be using the health measures for political purposes. This has to stop. That is one reason this motion is problematic. It is not the Conservatives' job to dictate health measures in a motion.
There is also the cost of living. We know that the cost of living is going up. The Conservatives are saying that we need to do something about it and that they will propose something smart. Since March 2022, the solution of the motion's sponsor, the member for , has been to support the member for Carleton in the leadership race. We know they are popular. They are saying that what they will do, since everyone is suffering, is fire the Governor of the Bank of Canada. What a brilliant idea, as if firing the Governor of the Bank of Canada is going to help people in Mirabel and Beauce, or our farmers.
They want to fire the leader of one of the most credible central banks in the world when 70% of inflation is not his responsibility. As for the other 30%, the Conservatives who said he was not taking action are now complaining because he is taking action by raising interest rates. The last time a party or a government was irresponsible enough to propose such a thing was in 1961, when Prime Minister Flemming, who was a Conservative, shockingly enough, said he was going to fire the Governor of the Bank of Canada, James Elliott Coyne.
What happened? The government did it by passing legislation, because it was illegal. However, the Senate slammed the door on their faces. Things must be going badly if the Senate is giving lessons on democracy. The Senate told the government that the head of a central bank cannot be fired. Nevertheless, that is where today's Conservatives are headed under the member for Carleton. They are going to be given a lesson on democracy by the Senate. Lucky them.
There are solutions, and we have proposed some. The first is to tax oil companies in order to fund our public services and launch assistance programs. I am sure the Conservatives will say this is a Bloc fantasy.
There is only one entity in the world that is proposing to abolish gas taxes, and that is the Conservative Party of Canada. However, on May 26, the U.K. proposed a 25% windfall tax that is expected to bring in $6 billion U.S. I did not make this up; their Conservative friends in Britain proposed it.
On June 4, the Biden administration suggested a similar tax, which is now being studied. India is also thinking about this. How amazing to think that India is a step ahead of the Conservatives.
The Conservatives' solution is to lower taxes. As my colleague from said, the oil companies are going to lie low for a few weeks, like they did in Alberta. Then, once the public relations crisis is over, they will raise prices. They know full well that people are not going to run out and buy electric vehicles tomorrow morning, and that they will have to keep filling up their tanks. The Conservative motion will not help farmers in the member for 's riding, I can promise him that.
What should we do instead? First, we need to increase seniors' purchasing power. Where in the motion is the increase to the federal pension for seniors? Nowhere.
There needs to be a program to support the people who are most affected, such as farmers, who cannot buy a Tesla combine. Where is the targeted program for them? Nowhere.
There needs to be a program to help taxi drivers, including Uber drivers. Where is that program in the Conservative motion? Nowhere.
We need to address the labour shortage. There was nothing in the budget tabled by the Liberals, who are no better. Where in the Conservative motion are the solutions to the labour shortage? Nowhere.
We are talking about real people who are being affected by these higher prices. Where is the proposal for increasing the GST rebate and issuing cheques more frequently every month? It is nowhere to be found, either from the government or from the Conservatives.
We asked that fertilizers that had been ordered and paid for before the crisis in Ukraine started be cleared for delivery. That is not in the motion, although we do support the part about the tariffs on fertilizer. It just goes to show that there is always a little light in the darkness.
Where is the Conservatives' proposal for fixing social housing? We need 60,000 units in Montreal just to start getting back on track. Where is the Conservatives' proposal for sending that money to Quebec, since the Liberals think sending money to Quebec is even harder than building housing? Nowhere.
Where is the money for real housing, for real families who are on a real budget, with real children who go to real schools? Rather than helping people, the Conservatives are fixating on the governor of the central bank.
Where is the tax credit for experienced workers in our supply chains? It is nowhere to be found in the Conservative motion.
Where is the Conservatives' proposal for handing over control of the temporary foreign worker program to Quebec so that farmers in Oka, Mirabel or Sainte‑Anne‑des‑Plaines get the people they need, so that the process is efficient and there is no need to conduct the same labour market impact assessment twice? Nowhere.
Where is their aerospace policy that will help us become more efficient at research and development, seeing as Canada is the only country with such a large industry and no aerospace policy? Nowhere. The Liberals will tell us that they gave $800 million to Bell Textron. We know that, and we are happy about it. However, Canada still has no policy.
This Conservative motion is devoid of substance. As for the Liberals, they will do what they always do, which is stand up and tell us that they have increased family benefits indexed to inflation. However, indexation is always one year behind, and people are living with 6% to 7% inflation right now.
There are solutions out there, and we have proposed some, but they are nowhere to be found in this motion.
Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for .
I want to speak to what is a bit of a grab bag of various initiatives that we have largely seen before in the House in other Conservative opposition day motions. I take it that my colleagues on the Conservative side will not be surprised at the fact that New Democrats do not intend to support this motion because we have actually debated and voted on most of these initiatives already in the House. In fact, one wonders if there is not a procedural question about revisiting some of the same decisions in the House, but I will put that procedural point on hold to address what I take to be the substantive issues in the motion.
The motion is talking about a very real problem that Canadians are experiencing and, frankly, cannot get away from, which is the incredible price increases at the grocery store, at the pump and elsewhere on just about everything, which is making it really difficult for Canadians to operate within their normal budget. We all know that wages are not keeping pace with the extent of the price increases we are seeing, so we certainly welcome an opportunity to talk about the impact that inflation is having on Canadians and to propose solutions, even where we disagree about what those solutions ought to be.
One of the solutions proposed in the motion is to simply lift all public health restrictions. New Democrats have said many times in the House that we support public health officials leading those conversations, as they have in provinces, where they have come to certain conclusions and federal public health officials, at the moment, have come to different conclusions. We support public health officials making those decisions.
We also believe that Canadians have a right to know the evidence and information on which those decisions are based. I think the government's refusal to table that evidence and make it public has created a problem of public trust in our institutions, which is growing. I would beseech the government to make that information public and to be very frank about the recommendations it is getting from public health, including the data and evidence that support them, because that is important to building and maintaining public trust in our institutions. It is something that we need now more than ever, and the government is doing a disservice to Canadians and our institutions by not being more forthcoming with the information it is receiving from public health officials.
Even as we support public health officials, we certainly have our own critique of the how the government has handled the file and what that has meant in Canadians' own attitudes toward our public health officials at the federal level. As I say, we call upon the government to do better in supporting those institutions and Canadians by being frank, open and accountable about the information that drives its decision-making.
However, that is not the call here. The call here is to substitute politicians for public health officials and say that the House of Commons should decide, rather than experts based on the best available evidence, and that is a wrong turn. It is not one that we have supported at anytime during the pandemic, and it is not one that we are going to support at this time or anytime in the future, even as we encourage the government to do a better job of making that information available.
I will speak more generally now for a moment about the motion because it talks about a number of things. It talks about lowering the GST and the carbon tax on the price of gas, even though that is a solution that does not touch as many people as it needs to because we know there are a lot of people who do not drive vehicles who are also suffering from inflation. They are the people who ride their bikes and take public transportation and cannot afford to own a car, and this solution helps perpetuate a culture that is driving climate change. It is bereft of any kind of meaningful thinking about the next real economic crisis, which has already started to make itself felt and is only going to continue to make itself felt to a greater and greater degree.
Our solution to inflation in the present moment cannot be one that is going to compound a growing economic problem, which is the problem of climate change. We have to find solutions to inflation now that also set us up for success moving into the future. We are going to have to continue to grapple with serious economic challenges that will cause economic displacement and will continue to cause upward cost pressures on goods of all kinds as climate change will continue to interfere with supply chains beyond the life of the pandemic.
When I said I wanted to speak a little more generally, what I meant was that what is characteristic of Conservative solutions, as they call them, is that they are completely blind to the role the private sector plays in driving inflation. It is as if the private sector is completely innocent, that corporate board members are completely innocent, that the CEOs of large companies like oil and gas companies, big box stores, insurance companies and banks, which have all made a killing during the pandemic with profits way above their prepandemic norms, are somehow innocent, and if we only left it more to them, everything would work out.
They do not talk about the kind of good work that has been done by the member for on gas prices to actually do something. When we talk about raising taxes on oil and gas companies, they say that this will just get passed onto the consumer and, in the next breath, they say, “Let us cut taxes on gas.” As if those same companies, which have been known to jack up the price of gas by 8¢ a litre just because of a long weekend, are not going to take that space up themselves, now that they know that people are prepared to pay for it. The blind spots are inexcusable.
The way to take meaningful action on gas prices is to follow the lead of the member for , who has talked about establishing a price monitoring board that would look at real data from the oil and gas industry and determine what their pricing might be. We then need to have an ombudsperson who would be able to take complaints from Canadians who notice that the price of gas jumps every time somebody sneezes internationally and there is worry that it might cause a crisis. Well, actually, they are not worried. They see it as an opportunity for speculation.
That is what needs to be reined in, and the only way to do that is by properly regulating the market. When we do that, we could increase taxes on oil and gas companies that have made record profits over the course of the pandemic, and we would know that this money can be reinvested back into Canadians without them having to pay for it at the pump. That is how one sets up an infrastructure to actually look after Canadians and make sure that they are being treated fairly. We do not hear that except from the NDP in this place.
I hope that we will start to hear about it from more than New Democrats because it is something that actually ought to get done. However, the idea that, somehow, just by giving a little bit of a break at the pump for those who are driving vehicles is going to be the solution to inflation is facile. It puts us on the wrong track in the much bigger economic problem we are facing, which is climate change.
We talk about housing. The solution for housing proposed here is to have a public inquiry into money laundering. Well, we should be looking into money laundering and the role it is playing, but if we are talking about urgent action to help people during the pandemic, people would be much better off getting a bigger GST rebate, paid for by the largest companies that are making the biggest profits. I named those industries earlier: oil and gas, insurance and banking. Big box stores have also seen giant increases in profits.
That is something that would go directly to Canadians who are the most in need. It is something we can do now. It is something that the government has already done during the course of the pandemic, and that is why we know it can be done. We know it can be done quickly, and we know that it helps. Providing an extra $500 on the Canada child benefit this year is another way to help families that are struggling with rising costs. That is something that we can do right away.
We know that there are companies operating in Canada that have made additional profits that Canadians have paid for, so I ask what the difference is between that and a tax. Canadians go to the grocery store to buy food for their family, and Loblaws or somebody else has decided to jack up the price in a moment of opportunity, as they see it, or whatever the rationale is, maybe to shield themselves from future risk. Whatever it is, they have decided that Canadians are going to pay more for things they cannot do without and that is going to go into their bank account. The difference between that and a tax is that this never gets reinvested into Canadians at the bottom and the services that they need.
That is where a tax, if it is done well, is better than what we too often hear from the Conservatives.
On the question of tariffs on fertilizer, I think there is an interesting point here. The Conservatives clearly have put together a list of things with people that they want to be able to talk to and please, and there are some important points about the tariff on fertilizer that I will get to in the questions and comments, but the fact of the matter is that this reads more like a target demographic list of people they want to fundraise on.
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to this Conservative opposition day motion because I think it identifies a very real problem facing Canadians: inflation generally, and the price of gas, the price of food and the price of housing.
Unfortunately, it does something the Conservatives are wont to do recently, which is ignore the ongoing pandemic. It asks us to ignore health experts in favour of so-called freedom from mandates. I would just remind members of the House that in my home province of British Columbia, in the last week of May, 44 people died from COVID. We have many people, some of whom I know quite well, who are suffering from long COVID, and many members, or certainly many citizens of British Columbia, are receiving things like cancer treatments that compromise their immune systems, so there are lots of reasons why we should continue to listen to the health experts and not simply adopt some political position on mandates.
I would agree with the Conservatives on only one small aspect, which is that I think the government has an obligation to show its work, as we say, when it comes to mandates. I believe that public health officials will do what is right, but the government needs to show us the evidence it is using for the decisions it is making, which it was pretty good at during the early stages of the pandemic, but seems to have forgotten about now.
Having identified the affordability crisis, of course the Conservatives like to say the solution is more money in Canadians' pockets. Strangely, there is some agreement here. I believe there are some Canadians who need more money in their pockets. The problem is this: Which Canadians need that money in their pockets? The Conservative solution is to make sure that the pockets that get filled are those of large corporations and not the people who are actually facing an affordability crisis in their families.
When it comes to gas prices, let us look at the profits of oil companies. In the first quarter of 2022 only, Imperial Oil recorded $1.17 billion in profits. This was its best record in 30 years. Suncor recorded a profit, in the first quarter only, of $2.95 billion, which is four times its profits last year. What is going on here is profiteering. These are companies that are taking advantage of the international situation, of the climate crisis and of all kinds of things to line their own pockets. The Conservative solution here, first of all, is a bit ironic, because it is to increase the deficit by decreasing our tax revenues. It is also to trust that the oil companies would not just fill that space with their own price increases and scoop up all the benefits of any tax reductions. There is no mechanism to prevent that, and we have seen the record, over and over again, of the oil companies: they will take any advantage to increase their profits. The Conservative solution risks lining the pockets of big oil and providing nothing for families who are struggling with high gas prices on a daily basis.
The New Democrats have instead called for an excess profits tax not just on oil companies, but also on big banks and large food retailers. Scotiabank recorded profits of over $10 billion last year, the Bank of Montreal had over $8 billion, Loblaws had a net profit of $1.2 billion, and Sobeys, a smaller player, had over $600 million in profits. The Conservative proposal would increase the deficit and inflationary pressures, and there would be nothing about these record profits being racked up by the big corporations. It would take away necessary revenues for providing some help to those who really are hit by the affordability crisis. We know who is hardest hit: It is the seniors living on a fixed income, people with disabilities, indigenous people and northerners.
We must never forget that these impacts are strongly gendered, I will say, in that when we look at women over 65, a vast majority of them are living in poverty, especially single women over the age of 65. When we look at single-parent families who are living in poverty, the vast majority are headed by women, so when we are talking about these impacts of affordability, we have to remember that they hit particularly hard at Canadian women, no matter their age or their family status.
I want to thank the member for , who continually raises the food insecurity problem in the north, for bringing our attention to it again today. The biggest impact of these rising costs for Canadian families is food insecurity.
I want to draw the House's attention to the report released yesterday by Food Banks Canada. Canada, one of the richest countries in the world and one of the major food-producing countries in the world, now reports that 23% of Canadians, over seven million Canadians, reported going hungry in the past year because they could not afford to buy food. One-third of Canadians earning less than $50,000 a year reported having to skip meals because they did not have enough money, and 43% of indigenous people, to the enormous shame of this country, reported food insecurity that caused them to go hungry for more than one day.
What is the solution? Food banks do their best to fill that gap in our income system and in our food system, but we cannot keep asking charitable, hard-working volunteers to solve the food insecurity crisis. We need to step up and solve that crisis by putting more money in the pockets of those who face food insecurity, immediately and in the long term.
Conservatives point to that problem of food insecurity in their preamble, but then when we look down into the solutions in today's motion, there are none. There is nothing to actually help people who face food insecurity, unlike New Democrats' proposed measures to put money in the hands of those most vulnerable to food insecurity right now and in the long term. We have always called for an increase to OAS and GIS benefits for seniors. Seniors cannot do anything about rising food prices, because most of them already spend all of their fixed income. Their only choice is to eat less and put their health at risk. Again, we would like to see an increase to OAS and GIS.
We have called for an immediate hike to the Canada child benefit. Even a modest hike as we are calling for, of $500 a year, would provide an increase on a monthly basis to families with kids trying to meet food costs. We know there are lots of parents who go hungry and will not report it so they can feed their kids. They skip meals. They do not eat the nutritious meals they need as adults, so they can provide that food to their kids. An increase right away to the Canada child benefit would help meet that crisis, and would continue in the long run to help people with food security.
A doubling of the GST tax credit for low-income Canadians would go a long way in the short and long term to helping to meet that crisis of food insecurity.
It is interesting that the data that was released yesterday by Food Banks Canada also shows that 60% of those who use food banks report that housing costs are the main reason they are at the food bank. They cannot afford to buy healthy, nutritious food for their families because they are already paying way too much of their limited income to meet their housing needs.
This time, the Conservative motion acknowledges the affordability crisis in housing, but it proposes a national inquiry in money laundering as if this would have some impact on the provision of affordable housing units. I believe that we need to crack down on money laundering, absolutely. I do not think we need an inquiry to know what we need to do. Nevertheless, I cannot find the connection between the Conservatives saying there is a crisis in affordability and that we should have an inquiry into money laundering. It just does not make any sense to me.
New Democrats, instead, favour measures to curb the use of housing for speculative investments. We need to crack down on corporate landlords who are gobbling up affordable housing in many cities across Canada, and then renovicting the people who have lived in that affordable housing and forcing them out onto the street or into their families' overcrowded housing units.
We also need to crack down on real estate investment trusts. Real estate investment trusts get privileged tax treatment. They get tax breaks for buying up affordable housing. I just cannot imagine why we think that is good public policy in this country. I would love to see us eliminate the special tax treatment for real estate investment trusts. Obviously, we would have to phase in something like that, because people have done a lot of their financial planning based on it, but still it is something in the short and long term that we could do to address using the housing market for speculation and profit.
Instead, we should be doing something that I have always called for as a New Democrat and that we have always worked for. That is to get the government back into the business of building non-profit housing in very large numbers. The market will never provide the housing that we need at the low end. It will continue to build high-end housing until the cows come home, as they used to say where I was raised, but it will never provide those affordable housing units.
Non-profit housing could provide the housing security that is necessary for families. They do not necessarily have to own a single family house to feel secure in their housing. They could get a unit in a non-profit housing co-operative, for instance, and raise their kids in that security. It also creates a sense of community: of people who live together and have a common interest in taking care of their housing needs.
New Democrats are not the only ones who make the obvious link between the high cost of housing and homelessness, but it is something I do not hear the Conservatives talking about. It is something I rarely hear the Liberals or the Conservatives talking about. When I look in my community, I see the unfortunate complaints that are coming up about people feeling unsafe in the streets because of homeless people.
What is the solution? First of all, I do not think homeless people are the problem, in terms of safety locally. The solution is housing in the short term, so that those people are not forced onto the streets.
Of course, the member for has been very vocal, this week and always, in calling for the government to immediately fund a low-barrier, safe shelter place for indigenous women in Winnipeg Centre, and it is a good example—
Madam Speaker, I rise today to speak in support of the opposition motion before this chamber. While obviously I cannot speak for other members of this place, I can state that the affordability crisis in many parts of my riding is critical. I am reasonably certain that other members of this place also hear similar concerns from some of their citizens.
The recent rise in interest rates is taking as much as $700 or more out of people's household budgets. Gas and diesel prices are also taking a huge toll. I recognize that there are members who represent ridings where gas and diesel prices probably do not matter as much, perhaps those with a large urban city and good public transit.
I know that often in this place we debate how the carbon tax only drives up the price of gas and diesel, causing hardship on many Canadian families. I also know that in response, the will often say that this is not true because of carbon tax rebates. Here is the thing. Someone who lives in a large urban city and seldom uses a car, even if they own one, probably does come out ahead with the carbon tax rebates. However, we seem to have hit a situation here in Canada where, under the Liberal government, vast amounts of policy are geared toward those who live in urban centres.
We must be mindful that we collectively represent the national interests of all Canadians, and many Canadians, particularly in parts of my riding, absolutely depend on owning a vehicle that must be driven daily. In parts of my riding, there is still no high-speed Internet, despite seven years of Liberal promises to the contrary. In fact, there are even a few areas where people cannot get a wireless signal. Many secondary roads may only see a snowplow once a day in harder winter conditions, if that. People not only need a car, but need one with all-wheel drive and significant ground clearance to navigate these roads in the winter.
I should also add that in many of these small rural communities, public transport is not available. Even Greyhound is now gone. For most, there might be one grocery store or possibly two. Prices were always a struggle in these communities due to a lack of competition and high transport costs, but right now, with record high inflation, things have never been worse.
Many families are really struggling right now.
I heard about a senior on a fixed income who volunteers at a local thrift shop. She has been volunteering there for many years and understands how important these thrift shops are to low-income families. She can no longer afford the gas to get to her volunteer job at the shop.
I have heard about young families that had to cancel their summer vacations because of the high price of gas. Many local small business owners have spoken about having to pass on the much higher shipping costs, which makes them less competitive with online retailers.
I have heard from contractors who bid on jobs that they have to commute to complete them. Now the higher costs have eaten away at their profit margins. Everywhere I look, I am hearing from citizens who are being hit hard by the lack of affordability. High inflation and higher interest rates are causing the perfect storm.
Again, I feel the need to point this out: This is not the case everywhere in Canada. Wealthy citizens are largely not impacted by this. Likewise, for those people in larger cities where they are less car dependent, I am certain they are less severely impacted. However, we must recognize that we are here for all Canadians.
While I am on my feet, I would like to mention that I am splitting my time with the hon. member for , who will be giving an excellent speech that I am sure this chamber will approve.
We must recognize that we are supposed to be here for all Canadians. That includes people who live in smaller communities, such as Princeton, Merritt, Keremeos, Cawston, Olalla and Logan Lake. Of course, there are also unincorporated rural areas where these problems are even more challenging.
This opposition day motion cannot cure all of the challenges facing Canadians who live in these areas, but these measures could and would provide some assistance. They send a message of hope that people who are elected and sent to Ottawa are listening and that we are trying to do what we can to make life a bit easier for Canadians who are not wealthy and who live in rural areas.
Let us make no mistake that these challenges disproportionately impact those who live in rural areas of Canada. These are good people who send a significant amount of their paycheque here to Ottawa. They watch a federal Liberal government that does not think twice about giving $12 million to a multi-billion dollar grocery corporation so it can buy new refrigerators. I mention this point because imagine what it feels like for people struggling financially in a small community like Hedley, where there is no high school and they must drive their kids to school, to hear some members of Parliament say these proposed savings do not add up to much. To them, every dollar counts.
Let us keep in mind that many citizens who live in rural areas often do so because those are the only areas where they can find affordable housing for their families. They hear the say that gas prices are exactly what he wants, but in a place like Hedley, where people must commute to either Princeton or Keremeos and where a car or truck is the lifeline for services, school, groceries, supplies and a job, what do they do? Sometimes in this place I think the Prime Minister has forgotten places like Hedley and that those who live there absolutely need and depend on owning and driving a car. They should not be demonized for that fact.
The proposed measures in the motion would help them and would send a valuable and important message: that in a time of need, this Parliament tried to help, or at least those who will vote in support of the motion can take some comfort in knowing they tried to do something. Those who oppose it can, I suppose, ask themselves differently.
The bottom line is that I believe these proposed measures are a small but important step to help make life more affordable. Other G7 leaders are taking these actions to help make life more affordable for the citizens they serve. I am calling on all hon. members of this place to take action, vote in support of the motion and send a message that we are trying to make life more affordable for our citizens, who are struggling right now. The once said better is always possible, but after seven years under the Prime Minister, the reality for many Canadians is that more expensive is always possible, because their costs are going up and up and nothing is getting more affordable, despite the promises of the Prime Minister to the contrary.
We have a critically urgent situation in many parts of Canada, and it is indeed now the time to take action by voting in support of the motion, in support of giving Canadians a break at the pumps and in support of our farmers, so they can keep their input costs down, particularly for fertilizer, and can plant food and feed the world. The Russians have been bombing key strategic areas in Ukraine to block wheat transports. This is a crisis of affordability not just for Canadians, but for people around the world. Canadian farmers can be part of the solution, but they cannot do this if they cannot get some certainty and cannot plant accordingly.
We can also start to address long-term issues. Despite what other members of this place say, money laundering has been a major focus of the Cullen commission in my province of British Columbia. The Cullen commission has now reported to government, and the first thing that happened with money laundering in casinos is the government tightened things up. Guess what happened then. Suspicious transaction reports in Ontario immediately doubled. When one jurisdiction within Canada starts to tighten its rules, we will see that pushed to other areas.
The Government of Canada owes it to every Canadian to make sure it is doing everything it can, particularly when so many millennials feel the system is rigged. They feel they cannot get a mortgage because they have been excluded by the Liberal stress test. They feel that other speculative forces, such as money laundering, are entering the market and making things difficult. They will feel alienated if we do not allow them to get a home.
There are some common-sense measures in the motion, and I hope that all hon. members will look at them. We may not be able to make life easy in a time of struggle, but we can always make it easier. We can let Canadians know that Parliament, the House of Commons, is on their side.
Madam Speaker, it is my privilege today to speak to our opposition day motion.
The number one issue facing my constituents right now is the fact that they cannot pay their bills, put fuel in their tank and put groceries on their table. Inflation is costing everyone an extra $2,000 this year alone. Seniors, students and working families are getting crushed by the dramatic rise in the cost of almost everything they purchase. Food is up almost 9.7% in the last year alone. Gas is at record highs and there seems to be no end in sight. Housing is now out of reach for millions of Canadians, who will never be able to have a home of their own, which, as a grandparent, greatly concerns me.
The government should be seized by this issue, but all it has are empty talking points. It still does not have a plan to address inflation and fix the supply chain issues. In fact, in a recent consumer debt index survey from MNP, 53% of Canadians surveyed said they are $200 a month away from being unable to pay their bills at the end of every month and meet their debt obligations. That is proof in itself that families are struggling to get by.
I want to focus my speech on the dramatic rise in the price of energy. Driving to work or heating or cooling one's home is not a luxury. It is a necessity in Canada. For those thinking the government cannot do anything to ease the price at the pump, let me just remind them, as we have heard from some of our opposition colleagues, that a significant portion of every litre of gas they pay for is heavily taxed.
If a constituent in Brandon, Manitoba went to the gas station and filled up an F-150, which is probably one of the most widely owned trucks in Canada, it would cost an astonishing $266.56. Out of that $266 to fill up the tank, the GST and the carbon tax combined would amount to $28.26. In my constituency, it is not unusual for residents to have to fill up their tank at least three times a month, as they have to drive long distances to go to work, drop the kids off at school, get groceries or go to the hospital.
If we pass this Conservative motion, we would provide immediate relief from the record-high energy prices by suspending the GST and the carbon tax. That would result in tax savings of close to $85 a month. For some, that may not seem like a lot, but I can assure my colleagues that for a working family, that is a lot of money.
Constituents of Brandon—Souris are disproportionately affected by the carbon tax. The Liberal government needs to start realizing that its policies affect rural and urban Canadians quite differently. My riding covers a span of well over 17,000 square kilometres. That figure may be hard to picture for the , who lives in downtown Toronto, the ninth-smallest riding in Canada, but that is roughly the same size as three Prince Edward Islands put together.
I am a proud Manitoban. I am also proud to be from rural Canada. Unfortunately, I do not believe the government has any regard for the livelihoods and concerns of those who are from that portion of our great nation. Many members of the Liberal government probably do not understand what life in rural Manitoba is like. Let me paint a picture of it for them.
In my entire riding, there are only nine police stations and one Walmart. For many, the nearest full-scale hospital is a drive of up to two hours away. There is little to no public transportation in my riding, and many have to drive upwards of 30 minutes just to go to the nearest grocery store. I and the rest of the Conservative caucus believe in public transit but, let us face it, across rural Canada it is non-existent. Families need to take their kids to school and to hockey practice and to drive long distances to get to their jobs. With the price of gas hovering around $2 per litre, that is making life very difficult. I fear things are only going to get worse, as the Liberals are planning to hike the carbon tax even further: in fact, to actually quadruple it.
If the Liberals are concerned about those who live in rural Canada and all those who are struggling to pay their bills, they should vote in favour of our motion and suspend, not get rid of but suspend, the GST and the carbon tax on fuel.
The other part of our Conservative motion I want to touch on is taking the GST and the carbon tax off people's residential energy bills.
According to Manitoba Hydro, the carbon tax is equal to 9.79¢ applied to each cubic metre of natural gas that a household uses. The typical household in Manitoba will use around 2,250 cubic metres of natural gas in a year, resulting in $220 in carbon taxes. If we remove the GST from the average person's energy bills, it would result in even more savings.
We need to look no further than the Liberals' budget implementation act to see how their carbon tax is impacting people's pocketbooks. Part 1 of the budget implementation act aims to enact certain tax measures by “changing the delivery of Climate Action Incentive payments from a refundable credit claimed annually to a credit that is paid quarterly”. There is only one reason the government would have a need to change these rebates from annual to quarterly, and that is because the carbon tax is taking so much money out of people's pockets.
We also know from the Parliamentary Budget Officer's report released on March 24, 2022, that “[m]ost households...will see a net loss resulting from federal carbon pricing”. The report revealed that the average Manitoban will be giving $1,145 to the federal government due to the carbon tax. However, they will be receiving only $832 from the incentive payments, and $1,145 is a lot of money for those who are struggling to pay their bills.
The PBO report proves what we have been saying all along: The carbon tax is not cost-neutral and it is costing people a lot of money. To make matters worse, the has been claiming that eight out of 10 Canadians get more money back from the carbon tax, but the PBO declares that not to be the case.
Let us just end the charade and suspend the carbon tax. It is one of the easiest things the government could do to immediately help families and seniors who are getting squeezed by record inflation. Instead of taxing hard-working people, a responsible government would come up with a plan that not only protects the environment, but also protects people's bank accounts.
The Liberals can make the climate action incentive payments as frequent as they want, but that is not going to change the fact that more Canadians are going to be worse off than not. Making the climate action incentive payments quarterly does not relieve financial stress for those who cannot afford to put gas in their tank this weekend. The fact that the government is ignoring the calls for help should be much more concerning to them. I know it certainly is for me.
I recently put out a survey on the price of fuel, and I am starting to receive responses. I heard from my constituent Chelsea, who said, “The middle class...and those who drive to work every day are the ones who are suffering most”. Maybe the needs to hear from Keith and Marlene, who are seniors living on a fixed income. They are worried about not being able to stay in their home. They said, “We are seniors and the only pensions we have are OAS and CPP. Our world is crazy with high prices. We own our home [but] for how long?”
Folks across the country are in difficult situations. With the price of fuel and, quite frankly, most other essential items being so high, it is no wonder that young adults are having such a hard time saving up for big purchases, such as a new car or a home.
I also want to stress how the Liberal government is continuing to leave farmers behind and putting them at a competitive disadvantage. Just a couple of weeks ago, almost every single Liberal MP voted against our Conservative bill to finally exempt farmers from the carbon tax.
In closing, I implore my Liberal colleagues to vote in favour of our Conservative motion, suspend the GST and the carbon tax, and give people some much-needed relief. It is time for action and it is time to help those struggling to make ends meet. People are tired of hearing nothing but platitudes. This proposal would guarantee immediate financial relief and put money back into people's pockets.
Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for .
On behalf of the residents of my riding of Davenport, it is absolute honour for me to speak on today's opposition day motion regarding inflation and taxation.
Our federal government understands that Canadians are being hit hard by rising prices and, more importantly, we are taking effective action to meaningfully support Canadians so that they can deal with this challenge.
Inflation is a global phenomenon that is being driven by unprecedented supply chain disruptions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, not to mention the severe commodity disruptions arising from Russia's brutal and illegal invasion of Ukraine. It is a complex and multi-faceted problem, and with today's motion for debate, the hon. opposition is offering what appears to be simple solutions.
Unfortunately, the proposed solutions are not simple. Rising prices are the product of market forces, and these market forces are powerful. Taxes on gasoline and diesel, for example, represent only a very small portion of the total price that Canadians pay at the pump. Cutting them, as the opposition is proposing, would be ineffective in protecting consumers from these powerful global market forces.
Even if our federal government were to cut gas prices in Canada by 5% today by removing the GST on gasoline and diesel, the benefits to consumers would be completely wiped out by market forces within a matter of days. The federal government would then be in an uneasy position of having spent tens or hundreds of millions of dollars trying to unsuccessfully fight powerful market forces over which it has completely no control.
Instead of proposing unrealistic and ineffective solutions, our federal government is focused on implementing realistic measures to help families make ends meet, and we have been doing so since we were first elected in late 2015. Our government has already cut taxes for the middle class while raising them on the wealthiest 1%. We have also increased support for families and low-income workers through programs such as the Canada child benefit and the Canada workers benefit.
Thanks to the Canada child benefit, nine out of 10 Canadian families have more money to help with the cost of caring for their children than they did with previous benefits, and our expanded Canada workers benefit, which provides support to low-income workers and also encourages many to enter the workforce, will support an estimated one million additional Canadians, which could mean $1,000 more per year for a full-time minimum-wage worker.
Our financial support for Canadians does not stop there. In budget 2021, our federal government laid out an ambitious plan to provide Canadian parents with, on average, $10-a-day regulated child care spaces for children under six years old. In less than a year, we have reached agreements with all provinces and territories. This means that by the end of this year in 2022, families across Canada will have seen their child care fees reduced by an average of 50%. That is huge. That is an average of $6,000 in savings per child for families in provinces like Ontario, where my riding of Davenport is located.
These are not savings that will appear in five or 10 years; these are savings that are going to occur by the end of this year. Over the past weekend, I had the chance to meet many parents across the riding, and they were very excited about the national child care plan and very much appreciated the additional dollars that are going into their pockets to help cover their living costs. By 2025-26, our national child care plan will mean an average child care fee of $10 a day for all regulated child care spaces across Canada, meaning thousands of dollars in savings for families across Canada.
To support vulnerable Canadians at the other end of the demographic spectrum, we have increased the guaranteed income supplement top-up benefit for low-income single seniors. We have enhanced the GIS earnings exemption and we are increasing old age security for Canadians aged 75 and older in July of this year. This 10% increase will provide more than $766 in additional benefits to full pensioners over the first year. About 3.3 million Canadian seniors will benefit, and no action will be required on their part. They will automatically receive the payment if they are eligible. This is the first permanent increase to the old age security pension since 1973, other than adjustments due to inflation.
Seniors in my riding of Davenport are really happy to hear this. They have been struggling with their fixed incomes and struggling with rising costs, and they are so happy to hear of this significant increase, which will have an impact on affordability in their lives.
Seniors and Canadians who receive federal government support or benefits will also be happy to note that most of our federal government programs are indexed to inflation in order to protect Canadians from its impact. The government indexes the Canada child benefit to inflation, as well as the Canada pension plan, old age security, the guaranteed income supplement, the goods and services tax credit and other benefits for the most vulnerable Canadians.
To further offset the impact of inflation and make life more affordable for Canadians, we have increased the basic personal amount that Canadians can earn before paying federal income tax. To ensure the support is targeted at the middle class, the benefits of the increased basic personal amount are phased out for high-income taxpayers. When this measure is fully implemented next year, single individuals will pay $300 less in tax each year and families will pay $600 less each year. There are a number of measures that our federal government is enacting and implementing in order to support families and support Canadians in dealing with the affordability crisis that is currently under way in Canada.
Our federal government is also returning the direct proceeds from the federal carbon pollution pricing system to their province or territory of origin, with most of these proceeds going to families in those jurisdictions. In fact, in jurisdictions that do not have their own pricing system consistent with the federal benchmark criteria, those being Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, approximately 90% of direct proceeds from the fuel charge are being returned to residents in those provinces through the climate action incentive payments. In 2022-23, these increased payments mean that a family of four will receive $745 in Ontario, $832 in Manitoba and $1,079 in Alberta. In addition, families in rural and small communities are eligible to receive an extra 10%.
The reality is that as a result of these climate action incentive payments, most households are getting back more than what they are paying in increased costs as a result of the federal carbon pollution pricing system. What is more, the remaining fuel charge proceeds are being used to support small businesses, farmers, indigenous groups and other organizations. Going forward, the federal carbon price will continue to be revenue-neutral for the Government of Canada.
At the same time, we are ensuring that taxes are appropriate and fair. Our federal government knows that those who can afford to buy expensive cars, planes and boats can also afford to pay a bit more. Canadians agree. Our government campaigned on this promise in 2019 and 2021, and we were elected to enact this measure. To that end, we are following through on this commitment to introduce a tax on the sale of new luxury cars and aircraft with a retail price of over $100,000 and on new boats priced over $250,000. The revenues raised by this tax can be used to offset costs for Canadians and invest in a strong economic recovery that supports their highest priorities.
Another example of our government's commitment to tax fairness is our proposed tax on non-resident, non-Canadian-owned residential real estate that is considered to be vacant or under-used. This tax would become effective as of January 1, 2022. While this tax would not be paid by individual Canadian homeowners, it would definitely benefit Canadians. That is because the recent and rapid rise in housing prices has made finding an affordable place to call home increasingly difficult, and the under-used housing tax would help support investments in housing affordability so that all Canadians could have a safe and affordable place to call home.
Our recent budget introduced what may be the most ambitious plan to build new housing that Canada has ever seen, putting Canada on the path to double the number of new homes we build over the next 10 years.
In conclusion, the federal government has been seized, and will continue to be seized, with how we can make life more affordable for Canadians and provide offsets to the impact of inflation.
On behalf of the residents of Davenport, I want to express my thanks for the opportunity to speak today on this important opposition motion.
Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise and speak to this particular motion, even though I will be voting against it.
Often, the Conservatives are pretty good at using their imagination, which, at times, can be confusing and possibly even misleading in a number of the things they try to put on the record.
If we listen to the Conservative Party of Canada, we would think that it is just Canada that is experiencing inflation. What they fail to recognize is that there are things happening around the world that have had an impact on the cost of living for all of us, whether it is coming out of a pandemic or what is taking place in Europe with Russian aggression and the illegal invasion of Ukraine. All of this plays a significant role, which is why I think that, at least in part, for fairness, when we talk about the inflation rate in Canada, we also need to take into consideration what is happening around the world.
The inflation rate is higher in the United States than in Canada. In many European countries, the inflation rate is higher than it is in Canada. Relatively speaking, with the G7 or the U.S. and many of those European countries, we will find that Canada's inflation rate is actually lower. Does that mean that our communities are not impacted? Of course they are impacted.
I do not like to see inflation any more than any other person, let alone for my constituents. They want the government to do what it can with the tools and levers we have in government to try to minimize the harm of inflation, and we have seen that in many ways. The Conservatives will talk about supporting Canadians during these times, but members opposite know that things such as our guaranteed income supplement for seniors, the old age supplement for seniors and the Canada child benefit program are indexed according to inflation.
When the Conservatives say, “Well, give some tax breaks here and give some tax break there”, we see there is a Conservative mindset on tax breaks, and that is what they like to say to Canadians. However, we know that the Conservatives have been afforded the opportunity to support tax breaks. Members will recall the first budget that we brought in and the legislation that provided a tax break to middle-class Canadians. The Conservatives actually voted against it.
The Conservatives have come up with a motion today, and this is their policy, their alternative to the budget. However, I would suggest that there are significant flaws in what they are suggesting.
They say, “Let us reduce the tax on gas.” Yes, let us continue with all the government expenditures to support Canadians, as I just finished citing, but let us reduce the price of gas by lowering it from the consumption tax or from the price on pollution. However, there is absolutely zero guarantee that this price decrease would actually be passed on to consumers. The Conservatives cannot guarantee that price saving.
Earlier today, I asked a question of my Conservative friends. When Alberta was experiencing a significant decline in economic activities, we were being criticized by the Conservatives because the price of oil was too low. They were saying that gas prices were too low, and it was damaging the Alberta economy. We were being criticized for that. Now we are being criticized because the price of gas is too high.
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
Madam Speaker, the world price on oil and gas is not set by the Conservative Party of Canada. I would suggest there is no way the Conservative Party can guarantee any sort of savings by cutting a consumption tax or a price on pollution. There is no guarantee of that.
The motion talks about the housing market. At the end of the day, and we have had discussions about the housing market in Canada, the national government does have a leadership role to play. There is absolutely no doubt of that. We have done that, whether it be in the fall economic statement, which the Conservatives voted against, or within this budget, which the Conservatives are voting against.
Things like the annual tax on homes that are not being used as residences or the freeze being put into place through the budget on foreign ownership related issues are all having an impact. Most importantly, for the first time in a generation, we have a government that has been very proactive on the housing file. We have invested far greater amounts of money into housing and providing supports to the non-profit sector, to provincial and territorial governments and to indigenous communities. We are talking about hundreds of millions, going into billions, of dollars that has been incorporated into the national housing strategy, which is something that did not exist prior.
We have the intergenerational housing credit within this particular budget to encourage families to build onto homes or have something built on their property. This is an excellent program. We have encouraged community members to look at ways in which they can make their homes more energy efficient. For the first time in many, many years, we have a government that has been spending a great deal of resources and efforts at improving Canada's housing stock.
It takes more than a national government to deal with this problem, whether it is municipalities in the areas of zoning and making accessible properties or individuals who want to purchase property. If someone is a normal resident, it is very difficult to buy an individual building lot, especially in urban centres.
We can take a look at the amount of administration provinces are ultimately responsible for when it comes to housing. The federal government provides hundreds of millions of dollars on an annual basis to support low-income housing, not to mention the rapid housing program and other housing projects the has put into place.
The Conservatives will criticize the housing file, but when they were in office, they absolutely failed in comparison to some of the initiatives we have put into place. We can take a look at the speech that was given by the leader of the Conservative Party. Unlike the Conservatives, the Government of Canada and the will continue to focus our attention on the real issues that are facing Canadians every day of the week. It is why we are concerned about housing, inflation and many other issues, such as the pandemic. We will continue to do what we can to assist Canadians from coast to coast to coast.
Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for .
We are talking about an affordability crisis in the House today. I am very confident that I am not the only member of the House who is getting dozens and dozens of calls and emails every single day from constituents who are very concerned about their ability to put food on the table, put fuel in their cars, heat their homes and put their kids in the activities they enjoy the most. What we are talking about here in our opposition day motion is reducing taxes to make life more affordable for Canadians by eliminating the GST on fuel and the carbon tax.
What I am hearing is somewhat unbelievable. The argument from the Liberals and the NDP is that somehow eliminating a point-of-sale tax does not put more money in the pockets of Canadians. I am not sure how one can even argue that. In fact, their argument against this is that retailers are going to collude to ensure that savings are not passed on to Canadians. I can say from experience that in Alberta, where the provincial government has removed the provincial sales tax on fuel, fuel is about 20¢ cheaper than anywhere else in Canada. Albertans are benefiting from a government that has seen the difficulties Canadians are facing, has taken action to address them and has passed savings directly to Canadians.
What I am hearing from my constituents, after two years of the pandemic, is that they are exhausted; they are tired. They want to get life back to normal. While they are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, that the pandemic is all but over and that businesses are opening back up, they see the affordability crisis, where fuel prices are exorbitant, grocery prices are going up and housing prices are going up. A lot of this has to fall at the feet of the Liberal government.
I know the Liberals like to say this is a global issue and that the war in Ukraine with Putin is causing prices to increase. However, I have been in the House pretty much every day and I do not ever recall Vladimir Putin sitting across the way and voting in favour of a carbon tax. I do not recall Vladimir Putin putting forward legislation or a bill to increase the carbon tax on April 1. Maybe I missed that. I am not sure if my colleagues around the House can confirm that Vladimir Putin is the reason the carbon tax went up 25% on April 1, despite an affordability crisis around the world and a war in Ukraine. I am not sure how we put this all at the feet of Vladimir Putin.
Instead of the government offering relief to Canadians when they need it most, the is travelling around the world with no mask in sight, and here at home he is punishing Canadians over and over again with his draconian mandates and travel restrictions, which are not in place anywhere else around the world. That really seems to be the modus operandi of the Liberal government. It is going to punish Canadians at home and do something completely different around the world.
A good example of that is the fertilizer tariff. My colleague across the way does not seem to think that this is a problem and thinks this is a way of punishing Russia. I would invite my Liberal colleagues talk to any farmer, especially in eastern Canada, and ask them if the fertilizer tariff is hurting Vladimir Putin. The only people this fertilizer tariff of 35% is punishing are Canadian farmers. Vladimir Putin, once again, is not paying this tariff; Canadian farmers are paying this tariff. Even before the war in Ukraine, fertilizer prices in many parts of the country were more than double what they were the year before, as a result, in many cases, of the carbon tax. Do members know what makes fertilizer? It is natural gas. Carbon taxes put on natural gas cause prices to increase.
Canadian farmers are being punished and we have offered solutions. We have asked the Liberal government to provide an exemption on fertilizers purchased before March 2, before Russia invaded Ukraine. The Liberals said no. We then asked them if they would offer compensation to farmers who have had to pay an exorbitant price for that tariff. Again, the Liberals said no.
Let me put this in perspective. Canada is the only G7 country putting a tariff on Russian fertilizer, meaning that Canadian farmers are now at a severe competitive disadvantage to our compatriots around the world. They are paying an exorbitantly high carbon tax and they are paying a tariff on fertilizer.
At the same time, we are in the midst of a global food crisis. Food insecurity is probably the number one priority on earth and we are the only country on earth that is increasing taxes and putting a tariff on fertilizer. How does that make us competitive? How does that give us the ability to carry the burden of helping in a global food crisis, which our farmers absolutely want to do? They want to be there to help, but the Liberal government is doing everything possible to ensure that we cannot do that and do not meet our potential.
Despite the Conservatives offering these solutions, the Liberals carry on with this activist agenda, let us say, or the theatrics they are putting on that this is somehow punishing Putin when it is only punishing Canadian farmers. However, it is not just Canadians farmers who are going to feel the impact of this. If Canadian farmers have to reduce their use of fertilizer simply because they cannot afford it, yields are going to go down and the prices of commodities are going to go up. We have already seen the price of groceries go up. In many cases they are up 15%, depending on the product. This is only going to get worse. We are not only talking about countries that have been relying on Ukrainian commodities such as barley, wheat and sunflower oil; this is going to be felt here at home.
My NDP colleagues have been talking about food insecurity here at home in Canada. A lot of that is the result of Liberal policies. The Liberals are the ones increasing the cost of those groceries by increasing the carbon tax, putting a tariff on fertilizer and having additional red tape, making it very difficult for our farmers to do the job they do best and better than anyone else in the world. We are the only country with a government, in a food security crisis, that is asking Canadian consumers to pay more. It is the only government asking farmers to pay more. How does this make any sense whatsoever?
I want to get to another part of our opposition day motion. I talked about fertilizer, but I also want to talk about the carbon tax.
The carbon tax is something for which the Conservatives have offered a solution. My colleague from offered a private member's bill that would eliminate the carbon tax on farm fuels, Bill . The Parliamentary Budget Officer, in assessing the carbon tax, has said a few things that I think are very enlightening: The carbon tax is not revenue-neutral, the carbon tax increases inflation and the carbon tax does not reduce emissions. This is everything the Liberals are saying the carbon tax will accomplish, and the study by the Parliamentary Budget Officer has refuted all of those claims. Why are we charging this carbon tax on our Canadian farmers? We put forward a solution in Bill C-234 to eliminate the carbon tax from farm fuels.
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business has done the math. In the first year of the carbon tax, Canadian farmers paid on average about $14,000 a year. With the increase on April 1, that goes to $45,000 per average farmer. The Liberals are going to say there is a carbon tax rebate and eight out of 10 families make more off the carbon tax. Again, the Parliamentary Budget Officer, an arm's-length officer of the House, has said that is not the case. In Bill , with the carbon tax rebate, farmers get $1.70 for every $1,000 of eligible expenses. They are getting pennies on the dollar for what they are contributing to the carbon tax. Farmers are price-takers. They cannot afford to carry the burden of the carbon tax when we are asking them to improve yields and their efficiency. It does not make sense.
At a time when we are talking about global food security, we also need to talk about affordability. Our farmers, producers and manufacturers need to be able to do what they do and do it efficiently. I have talked about the carbon tax and the fertilizer price, but there is another issue where the Liberals continue to throw on red tape and obstacles, which is going to be coming out in the next little while. It is front-of-package labelling. That is a direct attack on beef and pork producers in Canada. The United States has already identified this as a trade irritant that will impact our beef exports and increase grocery costs here at home, making things even more unaffordable for Canadians.
In conclusion, our motion is very prudent. It would ensure that we address the affordability crisis facing Canadians, and, most importantly, help our farmers, producers and ranchers, who are doing all they can to address a global food security crisis, ensure that groceries are affordable for all Canadians.
Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise in this chamber to talk about the Conservative opposition day motion on a very important issue affecting Canadians: affordability and the cost of living.
Before I talk about the motion, I would just like to set some context for individuals who are here. Food prices have increased 9.7%; in many cases fuel is up, depending on what time it is measured, almost 65% to 70%; in some cases diesel has doubled in about 12 months; and retail prices, the prices paid for clothing and other goods, are also significantly higher.
It is also important to recognize that we were on an incredibly high trajectory of inflation before the war in Ukraine started. Inflation was at a 25-year high of 5.5% in February, before the Russian Federation's invasion in Ukraine. To suggest that it is all explained by the war misses the point that we were on a quite high inflation trajectory before that war started.
For full disclosure, I will concede to the members across the way that there are multiple reasons for inflation. Of course there are supply chain issues and of course there is the war. However, there are also serious structural issues that are leading to inflation. By its definition, a consumption tax is inflationary. The Bank of Canada even says this. At least half a percentage point of inflation can be attributed to the carbon tax, according to the Bank of Canada.
The challenge that I have, or perhaps some of the members on this side of the House have, is that every time questions about inflation or costs of living or affordability have been raised, they are waved away and explained away by referring to these external factors that are out of the government's control. I do not believe that to be true. Yes, there are things that are outside of the government's control, and I just mentioned a few of them, but there are simple things that the government could do to provide immediate relief to Canadians.
The challenge is about not acknowledging that inflation is perhaps not transitory. If we take a long enough view, everything is transitory. Even life is transitory, if we take a long enough view. The challenge is that the facts are changing on the ground. The government is now out of step with the rest of the world because it has yet to acknowledge the challenge of inflation and the tools that it has to deal with it.
In fact, just last week President Biden wrote an op-ed to the American people. In it he vowed to take action on inflation immediately and provided a three-point plan on how the federal government in the United States was going to deal with it, acknowledging that of course the central banks have a role to play.
Secretary Yellen said last week in an interview that she was wrong about inflation, that inflation was persisting longer than they had thought. We have also heard this from the Federal Reserve chair in the U.S. We have also heard it from Bank of Canada officials, who admitted that they had all underestimated inflation, but we have not heard it from the Liberal government. The government refuses to even acknowledge that it might be behind the curve.
I think Canadians would appreciate a little bit of humility in hearing, “Look, we were a little slow on the inflation front, but we have tools that we can use to combat inflation.” The question I have every day is this: How long does inflation need to persist or how high does inflation need to get before the government realizes that it must act?
We have put forward an opposition day motion, which I think some would even call an omnibus motion, with some interesting ideas. In the interest of constructive discussion in this House, there may be some ideas that individuals feel strongly opposed to, but they are ideas. The government could feel free to take any of these ideas it might like and act on them. We do not need to pass this entire motion. It does not sound as if we will have support from some other parties, but certainly there are some reasonable ideas. I would like to highlight a couple that speak to me.
With respect to suspending the GST on fuel, both regular gasoline and diesel, the price for diesel has doubled in 12 to 16 months. That also means that the HST the government receives on diesel has doubled. The revenue the government is making has doubled because the price has doubled, and it is applied right before people pay the final price. In fact, the government has never made as much money as it is making right now. That is why I have significant concerns about the idea that the answer to inflation is for the government to tax companies more so it can take that money and do something with it. The government does not need that money. It has never made as much money as it is making right now.
If we consider the budget of 2021 and what we believe the government will be making in revenues over the next five years and compare it to budget 2022 and the revenue it is going to be receiving now, it has found an extra $170 billion. The question is this: What is it doing with it? Why is it not returning that money to Canadians? It is coming from Canadians in the first place.
I think we have to be a little more realistic and pragmatic, because increasing taxes on companies is not going to all of a sudden solve our inflation problem. We have a bunch of extra revenue now and we still have inflation, so making the government bigger is not the answer to our worries.
The hon. colleague from Foothills talked about fertilizer, and because of the significant farming community in Simcoe North, I will mention it just for a moment.
I have phone calls every day, and I visit farms to talk to farmers in my riding. They are all saying they want to help Ukraine and do their part and that they do not mind paying a fertilizer tariff on fertilizer that is purchased after March 2. However, they prepaid for fertilizer in December and are still being hit with this tariff. The government did not even understand the impacts of that tariff before it brought it in, nor did it have very clear and defined rules, which shows a lack of understanding or an unwillingness to understand the farming community.
There is an element of this motion that talks about money laundering. Some members will wonder why we are talking about money laundering and will think it is incredible to be talking about money laundering when it is such a long-term problem. Well, the best time to plant a tree, if not yesterday, is today. The Cullen commission is coming out with an 1,800-page report, which I hope becomes public very soon, about the challenges of money laundering in British Columbia, but it is going to expose a significant challenge nationally that we must take head-on. We have to understand the impact of money laundering, especially on our real estate sector, because it distorts our real estate markets.
In Orillia, which is in Simcoe North, we have seen a 300% increase in the price of housing in six years. That is unsustainable. I believe some of that is due to the distorting effects of money laundering in our big cities, because people are now moving out and looking at other places.
It is in this context that I think most of the ideas in our motion are quite reasonable. We may not expect the motion to pass, but I hope we have a great debate and I would welcome the government to take any of these ideas as its own.
In closing, I will make a brief comment about leadership. True leadership is recognizing that perhaps one's original plan needs to change when the facts on the ground change. True leadership is showing a level of humility by acknowledging that humans can sometimes get things wrong. There are some interesting examples from the previous government, but I will only mention three: It decided to change its mind and tax income trusts in the face of different facts changing on the ground; it reversed its decision on interest income deductibility; and when the global financial crisis hit, it reversed its ideological position on running deficits and saved Canada from significant financial ruin.
I am thankful to have been afforded this opportunity today.
Madam Speaker, I am glad to reiterate what the rates of inflation are for different countries across the world.
The Czech Republic is dealing with a rate of inflation of 14.2%. Poland is dealing with a rate of inflation of 13.9%. Romania is dealing with a rate of inflation of 13.8%. Greece is dealing with a rate of inflation of 10.2%. The Netherlands is dealing with a rate of inflation of 9.6%. Hungary is dealing with a rate of inflation of 9.5%. The United Kingdom is dealing with a rate of inflation of 9%.
Belgium has an inflation rate of 9% as well. Germany has an inflation rate of 8.7%. The United States has an inflation rate of 8.3%. Portugal has an inflation rate of 8%.
Austria is dealing with a rate of inflation of 7.9%. Italy is dealing with a rate of inflation of 6.9%. Finally, Canada is dealing with a rate of inflation of 6.8%.
This is a world problem. Obviously, we are all suffering the consequences of the illegal war of Vladimir Putin in Ukraine, but that particular motion does not offer many solutions.
Let us talk about the fertilizer prices: “eliminating tariffs on fertilizer”. The hon. members offer that as a simple solution that will cause a great relief for all farmers. Do they not realize that fertilizer went up by 70% to 100% before the Ukraine war? Yes, now there is a 35% tariff on fertilizer, but do they not realize that there are Canadian companies that realigned their supply chains to ensure that they are not going to be penalized by that 35% tariff? Yes, they are paying higher prices, but I believe we should be advocating for a solution that offers all farmers a reduction on prices, not just those who have paid that 35%.
Obviously, for next year, the point of a tariff is for Canadian companies to stop dealing with the Russian government and Russian companies. We heard loud and clear from a Ukrainian MP yesterday that Canada should be doing everything to stop doing business with Russia. I believe that question was asked by the member for , who heard it loud and clear from that Ukrainian MP, and I thank her for her testimony at the agriculture committee.
The motion talks about the solution to address housing affordability being, let me get this straight, to launch a public inquiry. I just do not understand how that is going to provide immediate relief to Canadians. I am surprised that this actually came from the Conservatives, because the Conservatives are usually about smaller government. Now they are proposing a bureaucracy to look into how we could make sure that housing affordability is available through a public inquiry. Come on—