The House resumed from April 18 consideration of the motion that Bill , be read the second time and referred to a committee, and of the amendment.
Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak today on budget 2018. I am very proud to be in the House to speak about this budget, which provides a lot of investments to Canadians.
However, before I talk about the budget, I will talk about the overall economy. We have heard many times in the House a debate about where the economy is going, but the facts are unprecedented growth in Canada and almost the lowest unemployment rates in Canada in my lifetime. That is because of the investment we have made in Canadians and in Canadian institutions, and budget 2018 continues that investment.
Before I start on the specifics of the budget, I will say that, currently, when we compare ourselves to the G7 countries, we are in very good shape economically. When we compare ourselves to our neighbours to the south, certainly when we look at our deficit-to-GDP ratio, we are in a much better position. When we look at the deficit itself as a percentage of our GDP, we are at 0.5%. The U.S. is at 4%.
I have heard many times since November last year that the U.S. has cut taxes. At the same time, it is running record amounts of deficit. We cannot have it both ways. We have to be responsible with our investments, but at the same time responsible with our economy. That is exactly what budget 2018 does. By investing in Canadians and keeping the debt-to-GDP ratio on a downward slide, we are in one of the best fiscal positions across the world, while lifting families out of poverty and making sure that children get education.
At the same time, we are having a conversation about pharmacare, which is one of the elements of budget 2018. How do we move forward as a society and as Canadians on pharmacare? We also look at private pension security. How do we ensure that people who have invested in their pension have 100% of their pension when they get to retirement?
In my riding of Sudbury, there are unprecedented investments coming along by the private sector. Over $3 billion will be invested in the mining sector alone in the next few years. Three mining companies will start three new mines in the area. That is thousands of jobs in our area. The challenge we are actually facing in Sudbury is to find workers to fill those jobs. This is a great place to be, but at the same time it is very challenging.
That is why one of the pillars of budget 2018 is parity, ensuring that access to jobs for females is at the same level as for males. Ensuring that we are investing in education for females, certainly in trades, is a signature piece as well in our investments. We are looking at tens of millions of dollars to ensure that females have access to trade jobs and education with respect to the jobs that need to be filled.
Another investment that budget 2018 makes with respect to females is in women in sports, to ensure that the same number of women as men have access to spaces in sports. I have a daughter who plays hockey and aspires to play at the university level. The fact that we can create opportunities for girls at the same level as boys is very important.
Thirty-five years ago, in my hometown of Kapuskasing, my sister wanted to play hockey. Because she was a girl, my dad actually went to sign her up. They took her in and said okay. A week later, they came back with his cheque and said, “Sorry, she is a girl. She can't play.” She was devastated. Now, 35 years later, here we are, investing for girls to be at parity with boys in sports, and my daughter is aspiring to play university hockey.
In my riding of Sudbury, next year we will have the Esso Cup, which is the national championship for midget girls hockey. Again, when we look at where we were 35 years ago and where we are now, and the investment we are making to ensure parity so that girls have the same opportunities as boys, to me, this is a great way forward. That is how we build an inclusive society.
Two weeks ago, I was at the reserve of Wikwemikong, about a two-hour drive from the riding of Sudbury. Four thousand indigenous people live in that riding. I was with the member for , to have a discussion with him about the needs and concerns they have. They expressed to us how happy they were that our government was moving forward. However, they had concerns about how they would be able to tap into the investments. One of the investments they were ecstatic about but, again, wanted to make sure we were moving forward with, was on languages.
Wikwemikong is an Ojibwa community where around 20% of the population still speaks fluent Ojibwa. Now, with this budget, we are able to continue investments in indigenous languages. Given the fact that this is such an important community and the language is so strong, it is one of the biggest exporters of indigenous languages, certainly of the Ojibwa language, across the country and across the area, because people who live there train other people to teach the language.
When we talk about reconciliation, about language and culture, those are very important investments that need to be made. This is our government making those investments, after 10 years of cuts and no investments by the previous government.
I would like to talk about the major investments we have made in official languages. Here in Canada, we have a choice: either we are bilingual or we are not. Do we have a truly bilingual country or do we have a country that is not bilingual? In the Harper era, the Conservatives slashed funding for official languages. They even padded the last Roadmap for Canada's Official Languages 2013-2018 with other expenditures, further reducing investments in official language communities across the country.
In budget 2018, we are setting a new record. Over the next five years, the government will be investing more than $400 million to ensure our country is bilingual and to support cultural institutions in French Canada and English Quebec. We want to make sure official languages continue to thrive.
Through the budget, the new roadmap, and the action plan, we are also investing in youth as a way to invest in our communities and ensure that our young people continue to blossom culturally. Language and culture are expressed through the arts. Other very significant investments in the arts will be made through this roadmap.
I have four uncles who have intellectual disabilities. Two of them have participated in the Special Olympics at the regional, provincial, and national level. This budget continues investments, after stagnant investments, to give them the opportunity to participate.
Again, these are small amounts. These are small investments that go a long way for Canadians. That is why, in this budget, we are reinvesting in Canadians.
We are going to hear, just as we did with the question posed to my colleague, “When are we going to balance the budget? When will we have zero deficit?” Conservatives want to treat Canadians like numbers. We want to treat Canadians like people, and invest in Canadians. When we compare ourselves and our fiscal situation right now, we are in a great position to continue investing in Canadians.
It is not time for austerity. It is time to continue investing: in our veterans, in our indigenous communities, and in training. To remain competitive on a world basis, we need to ensure that we have the best and the brightest in the country and around the world. That is what we are doing. We are continuing to invest.
Another big investment, a record amount of investment, is in scientific research. A few weeks ago, after the budget, the Laurentian University president wrote a column in our paper, an op-ed, saying how proud he was that finally there is investment in Canada and Canadian research, instead of ignoring Canadian research.
That gives opportunities on so many levels for Canadians to thrive in Canada and around the world. These investments also go a long way toward educating our population here. At the end of the day, when we compare ourselves to other countries, we have fairly accessible universities. It is comparatively cheap to go to university here in Canada, although it is still expensive. We have more opportunities for research at the master's level and the Ph.D. level in Canada. We are on the cusp of continuing the Canadian brand, investing and expanding around the world.
On that note, I will end my comments. There is a lot more in this budget that I would like to speak about. Maybe I will have another moment to continue that conversation.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak to the budget implementation act.
A few weeks ago, I spoke to the original budget and I had different names for it. One of them was the “Honey, I sunk the kids” budget, because it sinks our children and grandchildren by adding almost $100 billion in debt over the next several years. In fact, about five years from now, we are going to be spending more on interest payments than we do on our military.
Another name for it is the “Dude, where is my infrastructure” budget. The government, in offering so much infrastructure, it is almost like watching the Oprah Winfrey Show. Instead of Oprah saying, “You get a car, and you get a car, and you get a car”, it is Liberal after Liberal saying, ”Here is infrastructure for you, here is infrastructure for you, and here is infrastructure for you.”
Unfortunately, none of it can be found. The PBO cannot even find half of what has been promised in budget 2016. Of about $15 billion identified in 2016, only $7.2 billion can be found. A lot of it is missing. A lot of it has lapsed. I understand that. He did note that of the $7.2 billion that has been spent so far, it has only created a certain number of jobs. In fact, it has cost us $700,000 per job created by the Liberals' infrastructure spending.
I have another different name for the budget. I am going to call it the “Vantablack” budget. For members who are wondering what Vantablack is, it is a chemical substance made of vertically aligned carbon nanotube arrays and is the darkest substance known to man, absorbing 99.965% of radiation in the visible spectrum. In fact, Liberals talk about openness and transparency. They say that sunlight is the world's best disinfectant. Liberals said that they will shed new light on government and ensure it is focused on the people it is meant to serve, which is Canadians. However, even a supernova could not shed enough light to get past the Vantablack in this budget. We have seen the Liberals fail again and again on transparency.
We have seen the fail with his update to the Access to Information Act. Our office has been submitting maybe ATIPs, access to information requests, since we started here two years ago. Some of them are almost two years old. At the rate of the Treasury Board president's sloth-like pace, we could actually see these ATIPs being eligible for parliamentary pensions before they actually come to light.
There is a gentleman named Allan Cutler who helped the government operations committee write a very good report, which the promptly threw in the garbage. It was about improving whistle-blowing protection for public servants. He submitted an ATIP regarding the UBS banking scandal, one of the largest banking scandals in the world. It involves Canadian firms and banks sending money abroad, basically laundering money and bringing it back. He received a response from the government saying that it would take 800 years to fulfill the ATIP. Members are hearing that right: 800 years.
We also have the Atwal case, where the trotted out the national security adviser with some cockamamie story about rogue Indian government involvement. I had to laugh. I am sure a lot of us saw the interview with the , where the press cornered him and he ran so fast to the elevator. He ran at such a speed even the Russians were asking for a doping test.
We also see the lack of transparency with respect to shipbuilding. The PBO said the national shipbuilding strategy was about $60 billion. We have some experts saying it is $100 billion now. We are not sure because the government will not release the RFP to the public or even to the Parliamentary Budget Officer. To talk about the costing for this shipbuilding program, the Parliamentary Budget Officer actually had to go down to the United States and use his top clearance to access its costing for the Arleigh Burke ships to bring back and extrapolate the cost for Canada because he cannot get the costing or the access for the DND.
I want to quote from the budget. I want to thank the Liberals for only spending about $800 on the cover, unlike the $200,000 they spent for last year's cover. For those following at home, on page 313, it says:
|| Compared to FES 2017, direct program expenses are lower, reflecting lower projected expenses for consolidated Crown corporations...year-to-date results...and updated departmental outlooks.
That is fine. When we look at page 324 of the budget, we see that the actual spending between 2017-18 and 2022-23 for operating expenses is only increasing 1.8% overall.
Normally I am quite fine with lower spending. However, with over five years of inflation, five years of population growth, as well as billions for the national housing strategy the Liberals have announced, billions and billions for ships, billions for infrastructure, half of which I know cannot be found, and billions for indigenous plans, a lot of these are very valid plans, but there are billions and billions that are not reflected in the outlook for program expenses.
We asked the government's finance officials to explain where the money is as identified on page 313. They have updated departmental outlooks. Where is the money? They refused to respond. The Parliamentary Budget Officer asked for specifics on the spending the government is doing over the years. Where is it going to cut to get 21.8% when there are billions in spending? The government refused to publish the information. A couple of scant details were sent to the PBO and were marked as confidential. Again, it gets back to zero transparency with the government.
Here is the kicker, the real part behind the “Vantablack” budget, as they call it. It is not the 600 pages of legislation. It is not the 200-page morass of the BIA that is the explanation of the carbon tax. It is not even the issues identified on pages 313 and 324 which I just spoke about. It is what is called vote 40. That is the $7.4-billion slush fund that is in the estimates.
The estimates process is when Parliament actually approves specific spending. The has decided to try to reform the estimates process to make it more transparent. He is obviously going the wrong way. He is making a lot of changes which take away accountability from Parliament for the sake of transparency. This is what the Parliamentary Budget Officer shared about the main estimates:
|| With respect to delaying the main estimates, the Government indicates that the core impediment in aligning the budget and estimates arises from the Government’s own sclerotic internal administrative processes, rather than parliamentary timelines.
The said that these materially delay the implementation of the government programs.
The government's own administrative issues are the problems with the line in the estimates. What is the solution? It is less oversight and scrutiny. The government cannot get its act together to get its programs out the door, so it takes away the ability of members of Parliament and the public to hold the government to account.
Normally there are spending authorities put into the main and supplementary estimates. Ministers come to committee with their deputy ministers and their staff to defend their spending decisions and explain exactly what the spending is going to be used for, but this is all taken away now for $7 billion. When we take away infrastructure from the operating expenses, it is over 10% of the government's spending and the oversight is taken away. Now $7.4 billion will sit with the Treasury Board to dole out without explanation or oversight until it shows up in the public accounts after the next election. The government is very good at avoiding scrutiny and this is just one other step.
The 's own cabinet and the Treasury Board oversight team have not actually vetted the $7.4 billion in the slush fund. It makes one wonder why he thinks they are actually worthy of parliamentary approval if the cabinet has not even approved them. The alleged programs being funded through this vote have not been approved by cabinet nor have had Treasury Board oversight. If they end up actually being ineligible for funding, the money is frozen. The Liberals are assigning funds to programs that have not been approved yet on the chance that they are feasible when they could be putting that money toward needed things such as infrastructure.
The language around vote 40 is so vague one could actually drive a truck through it. There is no actual legal authority that says the money set out in vote 40 has to be used for the items identified. The government can take that money and spend it any which way it wants. The same people that brought the sponsorship scandal, the same people who thought it was a great use of taxpayer money to spend $8 million on a hockey rink on Parliament Hill, the same people who spent $500,000 to wrap a building in Canada 150, the same people who cannot even plan a birthday party for Canada on July 1, want $7.4 billion for free spending without oversight.
That is a disgrace. This side of the House will not stand for it. Canadians will not stand for this attack on parliamentary principle and oversight, and I will not stand for it either.
Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise in the House today and add my voice on behalf of the 100,000 people in my community in response to budget 2018.
Presented on February 27, 2018, our government's third budget takes bold action to support our environment, ensure fairness, and help the middle class. Most importantly, this budget takes a huge step to improve gender equality with new pay equity legislation. This measure will give Canadian women a real and fair chance of success. Every day I am truly humbled by the strength of Canadian women all across the country. They are leaders in business, in their communities, and in the environmental movement. Women are at the heart of Canadian society and push us to do better, to be better, and to expect better. I have the privilege of serving alongside many women who make me proud to be an MP. On top of that, we are even stronger because we have an equal number of women and men in cabinet, at the decision-making table.
However, my pride in the work that we have accomplished together is dampened by the magnitude and importance of the work that remains to be done. Budget 2018 lays the foundation of a promising future for all Canadians. For my constituents in Vaudreuil—Soulanges, this budget opens the door to greater success for middle-class families, greater security for our most vulnerable seniors, and a better future for young Canadians.
I am proud to say that budget 2018 provides for an additional investment of nearly $300 million in Quebec's health care system, which means that our government wants to support the provinces and ensure that Quebec will be better prepared and able to meet the needs of its changing population in the years to come. This investment means that, since we took office, we have increased health transfers to Quebec by $600 million. This builds on the nearly $100 billion in historic investments we have made in benefits for seniors, children, and workers this year alone.
The government is taking measurable and tangible actions to meet the needs of people in my community and across Canada. People in my riding are fortunate enough to enjoy many gifts from Mother Nature, such as the summit of Rigaud Mountain, the Île-Perrot rapids, and the wooded trails of Saint-Lazare. The people of my riding of Vaudreuil—Soulanges expect and deserve a government that takes environmental risks seriously. They deserve a government that supports science and technology and that recognizes and appreciates Canada's natural treasures.
Budget 2018 takes necessary and significant steps to do that and a lot more thanks to a historic investment of $1.3 billion over five years to protect our beautiful natural surroundings. This investment means that wildlife, land, and ecosystems will be better protected and will be able to recover from damage already caused by climate change.
It means that our government's management of protected areas and natural parks will be increased. The plan put forward by the budget also ensures that our conservation areas will be better managed, integrated, and coordinated in a network supported by our provincial, territorial, and indigenous partners.
Finally, it means that my two children and thousands like them across Canada will be able to see our cherished natural parks for free until their 18th birthday.
Canadians across the country and in my community are also concerned for their future and the future they will leave behind for their children. As greenhouse gas levels continue to rise, they worry about our changing climate and the real impact it has and will continue to have on our region.
I was proud that in budget 2018 we set aside nearly $110 million over the next five years to implement our government's promise to set a national price on carbon. My children and our children's children will be thankful for the leadership of the and the in making the protection of our air, our water, and our future a priority.
We also know that in order to protect future generations, we have to ensure young Canadians have a real and fair chance at success, those opportunities developed first from strong, supportive, and comfortable middle-class families. That is why we will be indexing the Canada child benefit to provide an additional $5.6 billion in direct support to Canadian families that need it most, starting this July.
Each and every month families in my constituency receive $6 million in direct investment for over 22,000 of our kids through the Canada child benefit. That investment goes toward lifting thousands out of poverty, putting food on the table, and helping our children enrol in organized sports. Now, more than ever before, our kids will grow up with the supports they need to succeed.
Based on the discussions I have had with members of my community, it is already having a significant impact. I have spoken with parents who say they can now afford proper clothes to send their kids to school. I have spoken with parents who say they are now able to buy the proper school supplies they have wanted to buy for years but could not afford it. I have spoken to directors of our day camps who have told me that six months after the initiation of the changes to the Canada child benefit, for the first time in 25 years, they now have a waiting list of children looking to get into summer camp, most for the first time.
When they eventually grow up, our government will be right there to help them get the work experience and skills they need to get good, meaningful, and well-paying jobs through a nearly $450 million investment in the youth employment strategy. Budget 2018 also offers support for pre-apprenticeship training in partnership with the provinces, territories, and post-secondary institutions. Now, more than ever before, our young people will be ready to succeed, prosper, and lead the Canada we leave behind.
We are also taking significant measures to protect our heritage and culture. In Vaudreuil-Soulanges and throughout Quebec, we are proud of our history and our heritage, which deserves to be protected.
Budget 2018 supports the action plan for official languages, which will allocate more than $400 million in new funding to community organizations and francophone and anglophone minority newspapers. It will also improve access to services in English in francophone majority communities.
These initiatives come with a $50-million investment over five years in support of local journalism. By taking these steps today we are sending a clear message to Canadians and members of my community of Vaudreuil-Soulanges. In our Canada, everyone is welcome. We will support them. We are taking action to provide them with the best services in the language of their choice for years to come.
The budget is a clear commitment and promise to the people of Canada. It shows that this government is not simply here to make investments and to develop programs. We are here to implement real change for Canadians, change that recognizes we need to do more to promote equality, to protect our environment, and to help our middle class grow and succeed.
This budget proves that our government is listening to Canadians from coast to coast to coast. It is not simply hearing problems but it is actively working to solve them. That is change of which, as always, I am proud to be a part.
Mr. Speaker, I too am happy to stand today and have an opportunity to talk about why I am pleased to see what our government's 2018 budget is all about.
When we talk about equality and growth and a strong middle class in this budget, so many of us and so many of our communities are represented.
I want to particularly talk about the infrastructure investments that are in this budget, but I need to go back to my days as a City of Toronto municipal councillor.
As part of my job as a city councillor in North York or in Toronto, I was always doing budgets. I would have to figure out at the end of year how we were going to meet the needs of our cities while not significantly raising property taxes.
The first year that I became a councillor, I was inundated with phone calls from seniors and other low-income folks in the riding, who told me they could not afford these tax increases. At that time the increases were 2.5% or 2.8%. There were so many tears and so much sadness in those phone calls that to this day I have never forgotten those conversations, and that was some years back.
I committed at that time to those folks that I would do everything in my power to not raise their property taxes, because many of them were living on a limited or fixed income and there was no way they could afford to pay the increases. There were so many increases in other areas that adding property tax increases made them feel they were being driven out of their homes. I made the commitment to them at that time that I would do everything in my power to protect them and to avoid tax increases.
That meant getting a task force together and examining budgets and looking at ways that we could trim from here or find money from there. For 11 years we were constantly trying to balance budgets while seeing what we could cut from here in order not to increase something there.
We did zero budgeting in the city for probably about six years, but sooner or later everything comes home to roost, because money is still needed to advance. There's only so much that can be cut or saved or trimmed. There comes a point when additional funds have to be found; otherwise, roads deteriorate and the needs of the transit system cannot be met. Community centres were being neglected and the city was not in as good a shape as I would have liked to have seen it.
That was one of the reasons I decided that I was going to become a candidate at the federal level. I felt the federal government was where the money was, and if we going to be investing and building our cities, then the challenge for me would be to go to Ottawa and argue for the same things that I was arguing for at the city level, meaning investments in transit and investments in the quality of life of our citizens to make people's lives a bit better. Subsequently I did seek office, and with the blessing of my community I have had the good fortune of representing it at the federal level for 19 years or so.
The first thing I did when I arrived here was exactly what I said I was going to do. I started arguing about how I could get more money for the cities. I approached the then prime minister, Jean Chrétien, and told him about what was going on at the city level. He reminded me that cities are creatures of the provinces, not the federal government. We could not use the word “cities” here in the House. I could not talk about the City of Toronto or Hamilton or Niagara and their difficulties because they were not directly a federal responsibility.
In spite of that and my persistence, Mr. Chrétien put together a task force and asked me to chair it. He also asked me to consult with our urban centres. I think it was his way of keeping a new MP busy, but I took on that 18-month challenge that he gave me. I travelled a lot more in the city and across the country. I consulted with the urban centres about the pressures facing them. I worked with FCM, York University, Vancouver, and a lot of academics as well, and we put together a great report that talked about the need for a national urban strategy that would address their needs.
In addition to to that, of course, we now have a gas tax, we have infrastructure programs, and we can freely talk about the challenges facing our cities across the country. Hence the reason for my enthusiasm for what we have been doing as a government in the last almost three years in investing in transit, infrastructure, and all of the things that we need the federal government to do because the cities do not have enough money and the provinces are struggling with their own challenges.
Therefore, working in partnership is what it was all about. It was about establishing a partnership between federal, provincial, and municipal governments to ensure that our country would move forward in a positive way. Being able to do that and to see it happening, frankly, was the best satisfaction I have had since I came here. With the billions that we are investing in this budget going out into cities all across the country, we are ensuring that we will have infrastructure that can compete with any other country, and it is desperately needed.
We talk about the congestion in cities. In order to relieve that congestion, we need to be investing in transit, both in small communities and in large ones. I am very fortunate in being able to say that after $685 million was invested some years back, we have just opened the new subway that goes up Highway 7 to the city of Vaughan and has a stop at York University. It takes thousands of cars off the road and, more importantly, it reduces congestion. It also provides a better transitway for many of the students, increases the opportunity for York University to expand, and makes for a better quality of life for all of the students and academics going to the university every day.
Of course, we are now starting on the LRT across Finch Avenue, which will be a tremendous asset for the thousands of people who use the bus line to get to Humber College.
Connecting all of that costs money. There is no way around it, and it would not happen without significant investment from the federal government, which is why I am so pleased to see what we are doing with this budget in 2018, as well as in the budgets of 2017 and 2016.
Let me talk now about some of the folks who live in my riding.
All the seniors at 35 Shoreham, a seniors residence, are people who have struggled. They are low-income seniors and are all receiving the GIS that we topped up a bit more, which we continue to do almost every year. We are trying to keep it up with the cost of living, recognizing the challenges that are facing all of those seniors. Many of them suffer from poor health, are new immigrants to the country and have language issues, and are struggling.
We have also invested in research. Whether it is the genomics centre or NSERC, research is such an important thing to help us identify the answers to some of the terrible diseases that affect us. As a member of the ALS caucus, I think of Mauril Bélanger very often, and I think all of our colleagues remember the sad loss. Putting more dollars into research will help us find answers and solutions to rare diseases like ALS.
Pharmacare is our new initiative, and I hope that in the future we can bundle our efforts together to reduce the cost of drugs throughout the country. This is a new initiative that I look forward to seeing come to completion, and I know all of us in this House would like to see that happen.
Mr. Speaker, we are talking about budget priorities and spending by the federal Liberal government.
Being elected in British Columbia and representing Nanaimo—Ladysmith, a coastal region, the 's tease last weekend, that he was considering putting taxpayer dollars into the Kinder Morgan pipeline, was certainly a shock to voters who thought he was campaigning on a climate change initiative, not to mention his other broken promises on reviewing the Kinder Morgan pipeline process. There certainly was no mandate for that from voters. I am sure it was quite a shock to the people who believed his promises around climate change, indigenous assent, and new environmental reviews before threatening our coastline with any bitumen oil tankers.
That said, I am going to talk about the gender provisions missing from the budget implementation bill and missing from the government's budget. Women are named hundreds of times, but very little is delivered that will actually affect the lives of women on the ground right now and next year. There is no money for pay equity. There is no money for universal affordable child care.
How can the government think it is for women's equality, when it has not funded universal affordable child care and when it has not reformed unemployment insurance so all women are able to get access to parental leave? These are all serious goals. The government had lots of advice from lots of activists in the women's movement, including international organizations like Oxfam, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, CUPE, and Canadian Labour Congress. The government has been getting the best advice out there, and I am discouraged that it has not taken it up.
On Tuesday, with two of my NDP colleagues, I issued a report card on Canada's equality day, the anniversary, 33 years after the equality provisions were introduced into the charter by the Conservative government, forced by the courts. We are still waiting. In our Tuesday analysis, we found the gender provisions of the budget and the budget implementation bill very disappointing.
Speaking to Bill , one of the first pieces is the child care crisis. There is still no universal affordable child care system. The current system barely serves one in four children. My sister had to move out of Toronto because she could not find affordable child care. She was paying more for child care than she and her husband were paying for rent. This is the same story for families across Canada.
The International Monetary Fund recommended that the Liberal government invest $8 billion a year into a universal affordable child care program and said that it would pay for itself. It would allow working women to return to work, to earn more money, to spend more in the economy, to be taxed on their income. Countries that have taken on a bold, new, progressive program like universal affordable child care find these programs pay for themselves. That is certainly the Quebec example.
In March, the Conference Board of Canada gave similar advice, as has the Governor of the Bank of Canada. They all recommend it. There is no more credible economic advice the government could get, yet no new dollars.
My colleague, the member for Parliament for , has been doing good work on this in her critic role for children and families. We are going to continue to push for this most fundamental investment. This would be the first thing the government could do to help get women further ahead.
Pay equity is another big hole. These are the words of the when he made his budget speech. He said:
|| In this budget, the government is taking a historic and meaningful step by moving forward with proactive pay equity legislation in federally regulated sectors....What we can do is lead by example...
However, there is zero money for pay equity in the budget, not even the very simple ask of the Canadian Labour Congress and other labour partners made, which was to establish, right now, a pay equity commissioner, an office of gender equality to be able to put the infrastructure in place, the program and administrative infrastructure, so the government could make a program like pay equity run. Still there is no legislation for pay equity, although the Pierre Trudeau government promised it 42 years ago.
The current Liberal government promised it, under pressure from me and my colleague, the member of Parliament for , on our very first opposition day motion in the House. We were so glad to have agreement from the government that it would implement pay equity. However, here we are. The Liberals are ragging the puck until the very end of the term. Surely if they had wanted to campaigned in the 2019 election on true feminism and truly investing in women, they would have done this most fundamental thing. There are zero dollars in the budget, and still no legislation.
Under questions in question period, the said that the bill would not be tabled until autumn. That is not consistent with the advice it got from the consensus all-party pay equity task force. It is not consistent with advice from any NGO partners. It is a great disappointment.
We did see some movement in the budget, which I am glad to see, about federal leadership on coordination of policies for preventing on-campus rape and sexual assault. That was good news.
However, a piece that was missing, and mentioned in my gender report card, was an analysis of the New Democrats' repeated ask that the Liberals fund front-line women's organizations that were doing the bulk of the work around immediate servicing for women. They are answering the 24-hour hotline. They are giving shelter to women who are victims of domestic violence. They are helping homeless women who are in terrible economic trouble.
Again and again, we have heard these front-line groups say that they do not want program funding that has groups writing grant applications and competing with their NGO partners, hoping they might get the funding. They do not want to have to do something innovative, then having their funding expire at the end of the year and having to lay off people. Instead they want operational funding so they can keep the lights on and keep the staff they have hired. The budget might have gone some way in that direction, but we could not tease out the wording.
Since February, I have been asking the minister, in private correspondence and by getting her to make a commitment at committee, to please clarify what this funding will do. Is it operational funding for these front-line women's organizations that keep women safe and fed? There is still no clarification.
In the House on Tuesday, in response to my colleague, the member of Parliament for , when he said that in Victoria the sexual assault crisis hotline had to close because it could not get operational funding, the minister said that our report card was unkind, which was crazy language. Her budget was unclear. We have been giving her the opportunity to clarify. I really hope she has heard women's organizations. If she is going to give them operational funding, if that is being provided for in the budget, then I thank her, but we cannot tease it out. If it is still speculative, competitive only program funding, then that is a big disappointment.
Public transit is another piece that is an emerging part for rural women in particular. If there is no public transit, it makes them unsafe in British Columbia, and the Highway of Tears is a prime example of that. It also keeps women from saying yes to jobs. It is a true limiting factor. We urge the government to make deep investments in rural public transit infrastructure. It keeps women safe and keeps them better ahead economically.
We still found no measures to include equity hiring provisions in infrastructure projects. There have been great examples. In the 1990s, the NDP government in British Columbia put that as a condition on infrastructure investments. Employers have to hire 20% women and equity employees and indigenous employees. That worked very well on the island highway on Vancouver Island, where I was elected. It is such an opportunity. With the government making unprecedented spending in infrastructure, the Liberals should be tying in those conditions. That was absent from the budget.
We are glad to see gender-based analysis legislation being committed to, but it really needs to be now. Our all-party status of women committee asked for it two years ago. It still has not happened. That would make, in a transparent way, all budget decisions come through a gender lens.
We are glad to see the status of women ministry become a full department. The NDP has been advocating for this in many election platforms. My colleague, the member of Parliament for , advocated for this at committee. Two and a half years later, the government has taken our advice, which we are pleased to see.
In summary, this is a lot of talk, not enough action, and not enough delivery for women on the ground. I urge the government to accelerate and make real investments in women now. The economy will be better off. We will all be better off. It will be more fair.
Mr. Speaker, it is an absolute pleasure for me to stand in this House on behalf of the residents of Davenport, a riding I am very proud to represent, to speak to Bill .
Budget 2018 continues what we have tried to do since we were elected in late 2015 and in our first budget of 2016-17, which is continue to support Canadians, their families, our youth, and our seniors and continue to set up both Canada and Canadians for success moving forward. If I had to summarize, that is really what we are trying to do with this budget. It is a continuation of what we have already been trying to do.
I will focus my comments over the next few minutes on areas where I think budget 2018 is of particular benefit to Davenport. I will start with something that is top of mind for me right now, which is the skills and jobs of today and tomorrow.
I recently attended the Public Policy Forum, where Mark Carney was one of the honourees. He talked about a few things. He said, “Any large period of technological change mercilessly destroys jobs and livelihoods and therefore identities.” He also referenced a number of surveys. He said, “More than 90 per cent of people don't think their jobs will be affected by automation, while CEOs expect the exact opposite.” He also said that everyone will be going back to school and that there is a need to not only go back for lifelong learning but to look at our social welfare system with respect to how we are going to support our population moving forward.
I say all of this because in 2015, in one of the debates during the election, at J.J. Piccininni Community Centre, a 17-year-old asked me how the government was going to protect him and ensure that he has a job, because robots are taking over the jobs he wants to do. My response was that the world is changing faster than ever before, but we have a chance to actually chart our future. I want people to know that our government is seized with this issue. Last year we put a significant amount of money in budget 2017 for skills and training and put far more flexibility into our social welfare system to allow people to train and do all we can to encourage lifelong learning. Whether they want to do part-time studies, are on EI and want to do some retraining, or are in mid-career and want to completely change careers, we have put in a whole bunch of programs.
This year, in budget 2018, we have continued on this track. We have made a historic investment of nearly $4 billion over five years to support the next generation of Canadian researchers. What we are trying to do is invest in some of the areas where there will be future jobs. How will we invest in areas that will create those future jobs and encourage some of those innovations? There is $1.2 billion over five years for Canada's granting councils and research chairs in addition to additional dollars for laboratories, equipment, and infrastructure that researchers rely on every day. We have also put in quite a bit money to support our colleges. I am delighted to see that they are very much at the forefront of creating some of those programs that allow Canadian workers to transition.
We have put in quite a bit of money, $2.6 billion, for entrepreneurship. We want to make it easier for Canadians to do business and for entrepreneurs to more easily access the resources they need to innovate, scale up, create jobs, and reach customers around the world.
I will mention a couple of other things. We are spending some additional dollars, almost $2 billion, to support women-owned businesses, which I think is wonderful, and a whole bunch of programs that are going to help companies innovate and expand right across this country and around the world. We are very proud of that.
I want to move on to the next section, which was at the top of the list in my pre-budget consultations for 2018 in Davenport. People who came out let me know that Canada cannot achieve its potential if 50% of the population is held back. As members know, we have put quite a bit of money into making sure that women have an equal opportunity to succeed in whatever areas they want moving forward. The government is putting gender at the heart of its decision-making and working to help support women and girls, reduce the gender wage gap, and increase the participation of women in the workforce, which will help with economic growth for all Canadians. I am sure members have heard this many times before, but we are very proud of it. It is high time we put some significant money into these areas.
We are finally introducing our gender wage gap legislation, which will be introduced this fall. I was part of that committee. We named the report “Action Now”, because we knew it was a long time coming. Finally, at the federal level, we will ensure that we have pay equity nationally.
We are also putting quite a bit of money into helping women enter the trades and succeed in the trades. There is $20 million over five years for an apprenticeship incentive grant for women. We will see how successful it is and whether we need to put in more money moving forward.
There are a whole bunch of other initiatives around women in the workforce. I mentioned the entrepreneurship program, which would encourage and support more women when starting up and trying to build their businesses.
I should mention the employment insurance parental sharing benefit. I have had a number of parents say that this is a point of pride for them. It allows up to eight additional weeks if both partners raising children decide to take parental leave. It actually allows women, who have traditionally taken more of the parental leave, to go back into the workforce much more quickly. I am very proud of that.
The government proposes to provide $23 million over two years, starting this year, to increase funding for multiculturalism programming administered by Heritage Canada. The budget says that the funding would support cross-country consultations on a new national anti-racism approach. It would bring together experts, community organizations, citizens, and interfaith leaders to find new ways to collaborate to combat discrimination and would dedicate increased funds to address racism and discrimination targeted toward a number of minority groups that we have identified.
I was at the local mosque a couple of weeks ago. One of the congregants came up to me and said that he was having a hard time finding a job, and he was fairly convinced that it was because of his name and not his qualifications. I told him that we have money allocated in budget 2018 for anti-racism and systemic discrimination. I committed to him that I would hold something in our riding with employers and minority groups that feel that there is some sort of systemic discrimination or bias within the system. That is something we can study together to come up with solutions. I am very proud that we have that in our budget.
I also see this as a way of promoting multiculturalism. Fifty-two per cent of Davenport riding residents were born outside of Canada. I have a huge Portuguese, Italian, Hispanic, and Brazilian population. I am very proud of that, and I think they will be very happy to know that this funding exists.
Davenport is very proud of its environmentalism and of our federal government's commitment to achieving the Paris accord targets and to fighting climate change. In this budget we have committed $1.3 billion over five years to protect Canada's ecosystems, landscapes, and biodiversity, including species at risk. We love our nature. We are so blessed to have such a beautiful country, with lots of parks, lakes, and natural beauty. I am very proud to be part of a government that wants to protect it for today and for generations to come. We have also put some money in to make sure that we support the federal carbon pollution pricing system.
Small businesses have told me that they are elated that we are decreasing small business taxes from 11% to 9%. Seniors, in particular, have told me that they are very happy that we are serious about national pharmacare. We have created an advisory committee to look at how to implement it. We are not trying to decide whether we want to move ahead with it; we are trying to decide the best way to implement it across Canada.
I also want to mention that I am very happy with the dollars for border security and the no-fly list, the support for local journalism, the cybersecurity support, and the support for indigenous peoples.
Mr. Speaker, I am going to begin my comments on this budget implementation bill with a bit of trivia.
Who was it who said, and I am going to quote directly, “omnibus legislation as a way of avoiding debate, as a way of putting everything into a piece of legislation, whether or not it had links to it”? We all know it was the , who of course is also quoted as saying he would not use omnibus bills, period, full stop. Yet, here we are. This is another example of the “do as we say, not as we do” approach to governing that the Prime Minister likes to use.
I am reminded of the doing away with what is often referred to as boutique tax credits. I only mention that now as it is tax time. I have heard from families with active children and public transportation users who are upset at the loss of those tax measures.
We also know that while the was quick to eliminate those tax credits, he was quick to bring in one of his own. The tax credit I am talking about was the teachers tax credit. I am sure the measure itself was absolutely welcome to many teachers. However, many in this place might quietly question why the Prime Minister seems to be intent on supporting measures that are done by his government, whether or not they are welcome in the community or in the country. It is about whether or not it was put forward by a Liberal government or a Conservative one.
Shortly after the budget was released, I asked my constituents if this budget would do anything to help them or their families. I have a large and diverse riding. One comment in particular was quite telling, and that was that this budget is “pure fluff, borrowed money thrown everywhere to shore up their chances in the election next year. Zero in it for the average person, no plan, no vision....”
To be candid, I have yet to have a single person tell me how this budget is going to help them. I am not a pessimist. I believe that all federal governments set out to build a stronger and more prosperous Canada. That also includes helping citizens. However, I am also reminded of the comment from our Parliamentary Budget Officer who stated:
|| Budget 2018 provides an incomplete account of the changes to the Government’s $186.7 billion infrastructure spending plan. PBO requested the new plan but it does not exist. Roughly one-quarter of the funding allocated for infrastructure from 2016-17 to 2018-19 will lapse. Both legacy and new infrastructure programs are prone to large lapses.
This just shows that the government will say one thing during the election, that infrastructure is good, but when it comes time to actually put it in place, the government plays shell games with the numbers. This is not in the interests of Canadians. Quite frankly, when my constituents read that, when they found that their hopes for their area would not be funded because the government has not actually allocated the money, they raised legitimate concerns. As members of Parliament, we all have a duty to raise those concerns in this place.
Going through the budget bill itself, there are quite a lot of measures. I mentioned earlier that the budget has a nationally imposed carbon tax. Some 200 pages of the 534-page document are dedicated to a nationally imposed carbon tax. British Columbia already has a carbon tax. British Columbians have been paying a carbon tax for quite some time. The previous premier, Christy Clark, had actually called it , as the member for had mentioned earlier, a pan-Canadian framework on the environment to take measures.
First of all, not all provinces signed on. Some provinces signed on reluctantly, asking for an equivalency. As we know, Quebec and Ontario utilize a separate system for allocating carbon, and that is a cap-and-trade system. A cap-and-trade system allows large exemptions. We need look no further than to the European Union and the issues it had in first instituting that measure.
Further to that, the carbon tax in B.C. was revenue neutral. The only thing that has really changed since the the government came into office in British Columbia is the carbon tax is higher and it is no longer revenue neutral. In fact, the B.C. government, which is a minority supported by three Green members to allow surety of supply, has raised the carbon tax as of April 1. People in British Columbia are paying more at the pumps, but that money is not being returned to them.
When we view a carbon tax system, which puts a price broadly on everything, the exception being jet fuel and I will get to that in a moment, compared to a cap-and-trade system that can allow for large exemptions, particularly for those who are well connected and can lobby for those exemptions, the question is whether we have a uniform approach. The answer is no. At the finance committee, I asked the premiers of Nunavut, Northwest Territories, and Yukon, and there was a different approach in every territory. In fact, the Nunavut premier actually stated that 80% of the money that is spent on diesel fuel and energy for homes is subsidized already. His case was quite clear. A carbon tax that only increases the costs in those areas does nothing for them and the fact that if it is revenue neutral and is sent back, that is money the government has already circulated. Therefore, there is a lot to be said about the approach here.
When I asked the member for whether she agreed with her government's approach to not share information, she seemed to want to talk about taking action and leadership. In this place, I believe there is a role for a belief that we can make Canada better. However, we also need to temper that with the fact that governments will have excesses. A member from Winnipeg, in the last Parliament, used to make regular speeches about the excesses of the previous government, ones that he found to be negative. I would hope that privately he might have had a few that he had focused on that he thought maybe were good for Canada. I will say that parliamentarians should be able to get the information about this nationally imposed carbon tax, what it will cost the average family and how it will circulate and percolate in our economy, because not all taxes are created equal. Some will have very specific impacts on certain parts.
Going back to British Columbia, the cement industry there used to have just around 90% of the local market. Some people near the border of Alberta or near the border of Washington state may have used cement that is mixed from those places. As we know, cement mixing is very carbon intensive. What has ended up happening in British Columbia is that by applying this carbon tax, there has been a tremendous drop in the industry. I believe it is at 60%, and that is with a subsidy from the government.
When we ask questions about the numbers that the government is not presenting to Canadians, there is a challenge because we cannot make an informed decision. I would beg Liberal members of Parliament to talk to the and to the , because they made commitments on transparency, on working with governments. For example, they have singled out the Province of Saskatchewan, which is not convinced that a nationally imposed carbon tax is the way to go. Again, provinces have most of the levers of energy policy and if the provinces are not working with the federal government in a proactive way, it could lead to a lot of negative consequences.
In summary, we will be studying this bill at the finance committee. I have a lot of concerns around transparency. There are measures in here, I am sure, that some Canadians will welcome. However, if we cannot distinguish between what is good for Canada and what is not, I would argue that is not in Canada's interest. I would ask this House to not support the budget without seeing some of that transparency.
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to stand in support of the proposed budget, Bill , the budget implementation act, 2018, No. 1, which really has the four areas that we have been looking at as a government, taking input from across Canada and working with all parliamentarians. Those include growth, progress, advancement, and reconciliation. It is a wide-ranging budget that covers all aspects of Canadian society and business, as well as our environmental needs.
This is the first legislation our government is tabling to implement budget 2018. Budget 2018 continues to prioritize the needs of all Canadians.
Over the last two years, Canada's economic growth has been fuelled by a stronger middle class. Canadians' hard work, combined with historic investments in people and communities, has helped to create good jobs, almost 600,000 of those jobs created since November 2015. This budget means more help for those who need it, those who then go on to reinvest in their families and businesses in the communities in which they live.
Canada has renewed its relationship with neglected researchers, scientists, and universities and colleges, with the largest commitment to fundamental research in Canadian history. We have also reignited the reconciliation process after the scrapping of the Kelowna accord in 2006, and have removed 57 boil water advisories. This is an example of what we are doing, working with our indigenous partners.
Over the last two years, the environment has been at the heart of our policy and is inseparable from our economic success. By protecting our coasts, we protect our fisheries. By protecting whales, we protect one of our great natural inhabitants that share the country with us. Our tax credits for clean energy are helping to generate clean tech jobs, the jobs of the future.
Women represent half of Canada's population, and their full and equal participation in Canada's economy is essential for our future. Removing the systemic barriers to women's full economic participation will support economic growth, strengthen the middle class, and build a fairer society that gives everyone a real and fair chance at success. The McKinsey Global Institute estimates that by taking steps to advance greater equality for women, such as reducing the gender wage gap by employing more women in technology and boosting women's participation in the workforce, Canada could add $150 billion to its economy by 2026.
Equality in pay cannot be achieved without transparency. In the spirit of transparency, our government will provide Canadians with more information on pay practices of employers in federally regulated sectors. The government will commit $3 million over the next five years, starting in 2018-19, to implement this pay transparency policy.
As a member of the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology committee, I was proud to play a role in reviewing Bill , which is an act to emphasize diversity on corporate boards, getting women around boardroom tables to make decisions on behalf of business in Canada.
Canada's economic success rests not only on the hard work of Canadians, but also on strong trade relationships we have in an increasingly globalized world. Canada is, and always has been, a trading nation. Canadians recognize that done properly, trade can be a positive force for change. The ratification of CETA, which began under the previous government, and also the resurrection of the TPP, which is now the CPTPP, reflect the determination of our government as we open markets for Canadian goods.
Our government is also focused on rural Canada. Agriculture is at the heart of our rural economies. To support Canadian farmers, we have introduced the Canadian agricultural partnership. I was pleased to sit on the agriculture committee as we reviewed and made recommendation toward this new policy. This program will provide hundreds of millions of dollars to protect farmers and bring new innovative technologies to Canadian farms, while at the same time increasing innovation and public trust.
To make use of new agricultural technologies, farmers need reliable Internet access. The government is investing $500 million to extend high-speed Internet services to rural and remote communities across the country.
Budget 2018 also proposes additional funding of $100 billion over five years for the strategic innovation fund to support low earth orbit satellites and to develop the next generation of rural broadband. These satellites will be going on a north-south route versus an east-west route, which will help our northern communities and our fly-in communities in northern Canada.
Federal government scientists enrich Canada's research environment, contributing to research focused on the public interest as well as the kind of discovery science that breeds innovation. To accomplish this goal, budget 2018 announces a reimagined National Research Council and proposes to provide $540 million over five years. Coupled with the largest investment in fundamental research in Canadian history of $3 billion, Canadian scientists now have the tools they need to compete with and to attract scientists around the world.
This budget also advances Canada on the path to reconciliation with indigenous, Métis, and Inuit peoples. Together, we are working hard to improve the quality of life for first nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples, as well as forging a new relationship based on recognition of rights, respect, cooperation, and partnership.
In addition to the $11.8 billion invested in budgets 2016 and 2017, the government proposes to invest an additional $5 billion over five years. This investment will go to ensuring indigenous children and families have an equal chance to succeed in life, to build the capacity of indigenous governments, and to accelerate self-determination, as was announced by the on February 14.
To date, as I mentioned, we have removed 57 boil water advisories from reserves across Canada. I am pleased to serve as a champion to the , working on water on first nations.
The government also understands that reconciliation entails a new relationship between the government and Canada's indigenous peoples. That is why budget 2018 proposes to invest $8.5 million over two years to work with first nations to understand how to make the programs more responsive to the needs of individuals and families on reserves.
Budget 2018 also continues the important work initiated in 2016 to build a greener and more sustainable Canada. To support the implementation of this historic national plan, the government has allocated $5.7 billion over 12 years, including $2 billion for the low-carbon economy fund to combat climate change and to advance clean technologies in Canada.
In November 2016, the government also launched a $1.5 billion national oceans protection plan to improve marine safety and responsible shipping, to protect Canada's marine environment, as well as to offer new possibilities for indigenous and coastal communities. This is being discussed in the House a lot lately as we talk about pipelines on the west coast.
One example of how these investments can make a real difference in our communities is the energy neutral waste water treatment project at the city of Guelph. Utilizing a whole-of-government approach, both the federal and provincial governments came together with industry and invested $1.5 million in an initiative to make our waste water plant energy neutral. We are also using research from the University of Guelph.
Our partnerships between the research community, the business community, and our governments at all levels really are advancing the clean technology agenda for Canada. Projects like this demonstrate how this type of collaboration and targeted investments build results for Canadians, results we can share across Canada, and around the world.
I encourage all members of the House to support budget 2018, our equality and growth budget.
Madam Speaker, as this is my first opportunity to rise in this House, I just wanted to express my deepest sympathies and condolences for the Humboldt Broncos. This has been an incredibly impactful disaster in our country, and people are feeling it.
I also want to take an opportunity to thank Port McNeill, the Port McNeill IGA, and the Port McNeill Minor Hockey Association, which fundraised $6,000 to donate. I really appreciate, across the riding, how this has brought people together, when we think about those small communities where sports play such a fundamental role.
I also want to take this opportunity to express my deep condolences to a former member of this House, John Duncan, who used to represent a large of my part riding, who recently lost his wife, Donna Richardson Duncan. We may not have always seen eye to eye in terms of policy, but I deeply respect the hard work that every member does in this House. I know that John Duncan is well respected on the north island. I just wanted to share my deepest condolences with him and his loved ones.
Today I am here to talk about Bill , which is implementation legislation for the budget. It is a little hard for me to speak here, because I feel that it is a bit of a timid budget. When I look at the riding of North Island—Powell River, and I look at the fundamental needs there that I work really hard with my staff every day to address, I wish we could see more action coming out of this. One thing I have heard from many of my constituents is that the time for studying is over; the time for action is now.
We are talking about a bill today that contains 556 pages and amends 44 separate acts. It is another omnibus bill. This always concerns me, because I think debate is a fundamentally important part of what we do here. It is also about transparency for Canadians. This bill also has a new bill inside it on carbon pricing. This should be a stand-alone bill so that we can meaningfully debate this.
There are a few positives. I really appreciate the fact that a promise that was made and betrayed is now actually coming to fruition, which is a reduction in the small business tax rate. Small businesses have had a hard time in the last several months as the government has looked at them in a way that was not friendly. I know that it my riding, I have been talking to health care professionals, doctors specifically, who were appalled by the process that happened. They felt very offended and actually dealt with patients being angry with them because of some of the things that came out of this. They asked me to let the know that there are not a lot of rich doctors, just a lot of hard-working doctors, in our rural communities.
I am happy to see that there are some additions for judges to address significant shortages. I also appreciate improving access to the Canada workers benefit.
I want to come back briefly to carbon pricing. We really need to have this separated out. It deserves a robust debate. This is an issue that is becoming more and more important across the country, as people are concerned about emissions and whether we are tackling them in a meaningful way. As a member from British Columbia, and with what we are seeing with Kinder Morgan, this is something that has not been addressed. People need to understand and have a fruitful discussion.
We know that polling has said that a lot of Canadians are very unsure that this will actually reduce emissions. People want to see an impact. It would be great if the government would take this step so that it could go to committee and we could have a report that goes back to parliamentarians and back to Canadians. We want to make sure that what is happening is actually working.
The other thing I found very disappointing is that we are not seeing what we need to see, which is a more fair tax regime. The government has again not addressed the significant loopholes for wealthy CEOs and the very wealthy. Oxfam has just reported this year that about 82% of the wealth accumulated last year went to the top 1% of earners across Canada. I do not represent a lot of those people in my riding. I represent a lot of hard-working people.
We just had a senior come into our office the other day who is now having to pay back CRA, because his wife had to go into a care facility. They did all the appropriate paperwork for CRA. They talked about the forced separation. They were given a little support and relief because of that. Now CRA is saying that they have to pay it back. That is not a fair tax system. The most vulnerable people are being asked to pay back what little support they desperately needed during a very hard time in their lives.
Another issue is pharmacare. Across my riding, the issue of medication and the cost of medication comes up repeatedly. The Parliamentary Budget Officer was very clear about there being over $4 billion in savings to Canadians if we could address this issue. In my riding, we have too many people who are having to make significantly hard choices about what they can cost out. It is important to recognize that when people cannot afford to take the medication they need, the expense to the taxpayer increases, because those people go in and out of hospital. It is not good for their health, it is not good for their families, and it is not good for the taxpayer.
As I said earlier, many constituents in my riding are saying that the time for studies is over. The fact that the only investment we are seeing is another study on whether we need pharmacare is ridiculous. We just need to get to action. We now have a report from the health committee that has been very clear. All parties know that this needs to happen. We do not need to study. We have studied this repeatedly. This is a long-term promise the Liberal Party has made over many years. Let us get to the action part.
I represent rural communities, and I am very proud to do so. One of the things I find disheartening about this budget is that it is not addressing a lot of the fundamental issues rural communities have. Resource industries have built a large part of the wealth of this country, and many of those communities are like those I represent: they are small, rural, and hard-working. The resource sector has a history and a present, but it also has a future. We are not seeing the investment in innovation and diversification in smaller and rural communities. We do not want to leave our small communities. We want to make sure that they are robust. We want to make sure that they are healthy, and we sometimes need the government to give them opportunities for that to happen. I will be attending, for example, the Forestry Friendly Communities celebration in Port McNeill in May, where we are going to be talking about the innovation happening in that sector. We need to see that the government actually cares about these communities.
I have the great joy of representing the 19 Wing base in Comox in my riding. One of the sad and wonderful things about representing this area is that we have a lot of veterans who move to our community. I am happy to have them there. They provide a lot of support to our community, and I respect the work they do. However, one of the sad parts is that we often have veterans who have multiple challenges. A few weeks ago, we had the Wounded Warrior Run BC running through our communities. It was amazing to see the support. One of the most important things they were doing was fundraising so that more veterans who have post-traumatic stress disorder and need support get service dogs. It is a step in the right direction that we now see in this budget a tax credit to help with those service dogs. I want to be very clear that this is an expensive investment.
Another issue for veterans in my riding is access to housing, especially if they have service dogs. Sometimes it can be very challenging for veterans to find homes that will allow them to bring a service dog with them. It is heartbreaking for me that there are a few steps in the right direction, but they are too little and too slow. Veterans have waited a long time for some support, and we definitely want to see that happen for them.
Housing is a big issue in our riding. There are communities as small as, for example, Port Hardy, with 4,000 people, that are struggling to find housing for people. They do not have a lot of affordable housing. This is not just an urban issue. It is an issue across the whole country. I encourage the government to step forward. The Liberals have made announcements about funding. The majority of it is not coming to fruition. I encourage the government to please make that money flow faster. People need homes, and they need them now.
Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member for the work he has done on this very important issue.
From people in my riding, I know this is something that comes up quite frequently. One of the first experiences I had was meeting with a woman who bought a van, because with her health issues she could not afford both rent and medication. She said to me that she was doing the best that she could, but she was really worried it was going to get cold.
I come from Vancouver Island in B.C. A lot of people like to joke about how warm it is where I am, but if someone is living in a van because they cannot afford rent and medication, it can get pretty damn cold. Excuse my language.
I appreciate that making sure we implement this program really well makes sense, but there are a lot of models we could look at. We could continue to study and study and study, and I want to be very clear that this is what it says. The bill does not talk a lot about implementation; it talks about the study.
We have done a lot of studies in this place. This has been a promise, and people get tired of waiting. At some point we have to say that it is not going to be perfect right away but that we are going to get to the action part of this, and we are going to make it really clear.
The member is saying a year, so we are going to wait here and see if it happens. Unfortunately, that promise has been made many times. We will watch and we will wait, and hopefully it will happen, because a lot of people are having to make terrible choices, such as living in a van.
Madam Speaker, I am very happy to stand in the House today to talk about our 2018 budget. It is a fitting budget, called “Equality + Growth: A Strong Middle Class”, which is the direction our government is leading in Canada.
This budget is the next step in the government's plan, which is investing in people, investing in communities, and investing in our economy. It has already been able to put more money in the pockets of Canadians, it has helped create more well-paying jobs, and it is giving Canadians greater confidence in their future.
Since November 2015, when we took office, Canadians have created more than 500,000 new jobs, and the unemployment rate has fallen from 7.1% to 5.9%, close to its lowest level in over four decades. The Canadian economy has been very strong, growing at a pace that is well above all the other G7 countries since mid-2016.
Measures like those that we introduced around middle-class tax cuts and a new Canadian child benefit mean that Canadian families now have more money to save, invest, and spend on their families and in their communities because we have lower taxes for the middle class and we are helping them with the high-level cost of raising a family in many regions of this country. Therefore, Canadians are felling more optimistic about the future, and I certainly feel that in the riding that I represent.
Whether it is the ability to be able to save a little more, to buy a home for the first time, to go back to school and train for a new job, or obtain employment in regions where it has often been difficult, these are all things that people see as strength in our economy and in their communities. As the government, we are going to continue to grow that sector, to create those jobs that people want, and to ensure that people have opportunities.
New investments will support many pieces of infrastructure across Canadian communities. One of those pieces that has been critically important to many first nations, Inuit, and Métis communities in Canada has been the ability to ensure good housing on and off reserve in communities, as well as the ability to ensure that they have access to clean drinking water.
Investments we are making in this budget include committing over $170 million over the next three years to continue on the path of improving access to clean and safe drinking water on reserve. The has been very adamant on meeting this target and ensuring that long-term drinking water advisories in Canadian communities, especially indigenous communities, are eliminated.
We have also been making tremendous investments in housing. In the northern part of my riding, in the Inuit region of Nunatsiavut or in either of the first nation communities, if we were to ask today what their number one infrastructure priority was, they would say that it is housing. For the first time, every indigenous government had the ability to deliver on housing money in their own regions. Last year, for the first time, Inuit across the north received direct transfers from the Government of Canada to ensure that they were able to build and modify houses to meet their immediate needs.
This year's budget includes an additional $600 million over the next three years to support housing on reserve for first nations communities. It includes an Inuit-led housing plan for Inuit regions such as Nunavik, Nunatsiavut, and Inuvialuit, and the government has proposed $400 million over the next 10 years to address the needs of housing in Inuit communities. This is in addition to the $240 million that was announced in budget 2017.
The government is also proposing $500 million over the next 10 years to support the Métis nation's housing strategy. These housing strategies are important to indigenous Canadians. It is important that they have proper housing in their communities in order to make real progress in many other areas where they have concerns.
This year I was proud to be a member of Parliament in the Government of Canada, representing the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, because we saw major transfer increases to our province from the federal government. We saw increases in the Canadian health transfer and the Canadian social transfer, increases that will allow the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to meet and address some of the growing needs we have as a province, which ridings like mine are dealing with. For example, there are issues with respect to mental health and suicide. Here there are fundamental social programs that our government has continued to invest in. We have worked with indigenous communities in my riding to develop suicide strategies and to invest in those strategies, working side by side with them to eliminate and reduce suicide and addiction levels in communities.
We also work with those indigenous governments and the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador to invest more in mental health and addiction services. Last week I had the opportunity to be in Happy Valley–Goose Bay with the premier to announce that for the first time ever there will be six mental health beds opening at the hospital in Labrador and that two psychiatrists will be hired in that rural northern region where we have never had those services.
This is a government that is listening to the needs of Canadians. No matter how remote or how northern or how isolated those Canadians are, it is listening and acting to ensure that it meets the needs and addresses the issues that are important in those regions.
There were many things in this budget that my constituents and people across the country were proud of. I want to outline what some of those pieces are. I think it is important that we reiterate the investments that we are making, because these are not our investments but the investments that Canadians have asked for. We have worked with Canadians to form a vision of where they would like their country to be going. What we do as a government is in response to what they are asking.
I represent a riding that until a few years ago was basically unconnected in many ways, whether it was through Internet and broadband or through highway transportation and ferry services. As a government, we have invested in those areas. To date, we have been able to to build nearly 400 kilometres of paved road through one of the most northern remote regions of the country in my riding. We have invested in some of the smallest communities to allow them to have Internet and broadband access, a basic service that many Canadians have enjoyed for many years.
We have also listened when people talked to us about the need for EI reform for those people who work in seasonal industries, the need for reform for women and parents who are taking leave to have a child, the need to extend maternity leave benefits, and the need to look at sick benefits for people who have to care for sick family members, sick children, or themselves.
We listened to northerners across Canada when they told us that the northern tax deduction had not increased in many years, and we acted to ensure that northerners are receiving tax deductions that allow them to have a better quality of life, like other Canadians.
We have invested in small craft harbours, having listened to the fishing industry, which quite often had been ignored by previous governments, ensuring they have the infrastructure in their communities to create jobs in an industry that has allowed for tremendous opportunity in the Atlantic regions of our country.
We also brought great certainty to military operations. I represent a riding that is home to 5 Wing Goose Bay. For the first time in many years, we have ensured the operational requirements of that base and its stability and longevity as part of the national infrastructure for defence in this country.
We support workers in communities that I represent, such as Wabush and Labrador West, which are heavily engaged in the mining industry.
This budget is a reflection of Canadians.
Madam Speaker, never has Quebec been so diminished in Ottawa. Bill is a 556-page budget implementation bill, and all 556 of those pages ignore Quebec. To the and the , Quebec does not exist. Bill C-74 is for people in the GTA, the west, and the Maritimes. It is for Canada, but not Quebec. Quebec does not matter here. With Bill C-74, the government continues to rack up deficits so that it can give handouts to others, like the $75 million given to Irving to combat the spruce budworm in the Maritimes. This is a nice handout, but what an insult to Quebec, which does not receive a cent.
In Quebec, the budworm affects an area larger than all of New Brunswick. Bill is a massive 560-page document, larger than any other tabled so far by the finance minister. Never mind that the Prime Minister had made an election promise not to introduce massive bills. Unbelievable. These 560 pages do nothing to fix the EI spring gap for our seasonal workers.
In Quebec, we believe in using our lands. We want everyone across Quebec to be able to live and earn a living, not just those in major cities. Seasonal industries are a reality in the regions, and these workers need support. The government needs to do something about the period during which these workers are not receiving employment income or employment insurance. The EI eligibility rules must be changed. This has been going on for years. Every year, seasonal workers experience the same stress as they wonder whether they will be able to make ends meet. In its budget, the government announced that seasonal workers would be able to take 30 hours of training a week and receive replacement income, but this does not fix the problem. The government needs to listen to these people's concerns and take the necessary action to fix this problem once and for all.
Bill is a 556-page manifestation of the government's schizophrenia when it comes to the environment and the fight against climate change. We have a Prime Minister who wants to maximize economic opportunities from western Canada's dirty oil in order to raise money to protect the environment. Wow. We have a Prime Minister who has decided to side with big oil and force the Trans Mountain pipeline on a province and a government that do not want it. So much for democracy. Meanwhile, this same Prime Minister was patting himself on the back at COP 21 in Paris on climate change. This has led Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University to the conclusion that the Prime Minister and his government have lost all credibility in the fight against climate change.
Bill does not contain a single line or a single measure to support green energy, nor does it have anything for the electrification of transportation. Yes, imposing a carbon tax means there is a baseline to ensure that one province's efforts are not cancelled out by another province's. However, another thing missing from Bill C-74 is a clear plan and firm resolve to seriously protect the environment. For example, what is the Canadian government going to do if Doug Ford is elected premier in Ontario? Mr. Ford has already promised that he will eliminate Ontario's carbon exchange system and that he will fight the federal carbon tax. The same is true in Alberta, with Jason Kenney. As everyone knows, Quebec is way ahead when it comes to the environment, but its efforts are likely being unfairly cancelled out by other provinces that refuse to join the 21st century.
Ottawa is keeping the targets from the Harper era. The has already said that the tax would apply regardless of what the provinces think, but we have our doubts. In the Trans Mountain file, the federal government chose to side with the oil industry. Just imagine, it is even prepared to fund the project. The Liberals' targets are the same as the ludicrously low targets set by Stephen Harper's Conservatives, yet the government is not even on track to meet them. That is something we need to do.
Quebec needed Bill to include provisions that would support its fight against climate change, but no such luck. Bill C-74 is the first mammoth implementation bill for this budget. It talks about the cannabis tax. As we know, Quebec, the provinces, cities, schools, and law enforcement are not ready for legalization. They are asking for just a little more time to prepare, but Ottawa is ignoring their pleas. This will cost Quebec and the municipalities quite a lot of money.
We are seeing the same thing with taxes. Ottawa has decided to occupy the entire field of taxation. That means it will get to scoop up a quarter of the tax without having to spend a penny. It is easy money. Furthermore, Ottawa is not bearing any of the costs associated with cannabis legalization. We have reason to be concerned about the conditions that will be tied to the transfer of the tax to the provinces, like the health transfers. With this government, there are always plenty of conditions. It cannot even pay its own employees, yet it wants to stick its nose into everybody's business and tell Quebec how to run its own affairs. I worry that this will happen in this case too.
Since Ottawa occupies the whole tax field, it has the upper hand. I can already picture the forcing the provinces to do his bidding if they want the money even if everyone tells him he is out of line. It would not be the first time. That is what happened with health transfers, which are lower than they should be, as I said. Apparently health care funding does not win a lot of votes, so they cannot be bothered with it. Quebeckers want it, but nobody here cares. The same goes for infrastructure money.
Conditions are laid out and everything is negotiated separately, so money stays locked up here just because the government wants control over a decision it knows nothing about. I should point out that this is not what Quebec wants, and it breaks an election promise. So many broken promises. The budget does have a few little things, such as the Canada workers benefit, that will help Quebeckers. It is not a lot, but it will help people with low incomes. Quebeckers will also benefit from measures for veterans and the lower small business tax rate. These are measures we have been asking for since 2015, so we are glad to finally see them.
Of course we know that the government improvised this measure because it was roundly criticized for the tax reform it planned to introduce. It ended up backing away from the tax reform and, in fact, basically abandoned it. It kept the passive income measure, but watered it down so much that it will not be very effective.
Instead of wasting everyone's time with a tax reform that was going nowhere, why did the government not tackle tax havens? That is the most glaring inequity in the entire system. The projections vary greatly, but according to the Conference Board, the government would recover at least $9 billion. It could use that money to balance the budget, but of course, the influential Bay Street lobby prevents it from doing so. So much for Quebec's request to fix the problem of the illegal use of tax havens. Quebec does not exist. I said at the outset that Quebec has never been so weak in Ottawa. Each and every one of Bill 's 560 pages reminds us this. Our needs, our concerns, and our aspirations are nowhere to be found in this massive bill.
Bill C-74 makes it crystal clear that Quebec does not count in this place. That is what I wanted to say.
Madam Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise on this occasion to speak in support of the 2018 budget, and Bill the budget implementation bill, which will continue to advance the priorities of Canadians.
What I thought I would do this afternoon is break up my remarks into three themes. I will talk a little about where we were in 2015 when this government took office. I will talk a little about where we are today, mid-mandate. Finally, I will foreshadow where I think we are going in the future.
The budget introduced this year by the put into very sharp context and focus the many challenges that we faced coming into office. The former Conservative government had a record weak amount of growth, the weakest performance when it came to jobs and economic growth since the Great Depression, and this from a party that talks about being a champion of industry and enterprise, a champion for small business and hard-working Canadians. It was a Conservative government that promised not to ever run a deficit and ran six during the course of its 10 years in power.
Those were the challenging circumstances when the Liberals took the reins of authority and power. We did so with a commitment to actually deliver for hard-working middle-class Canadians.
Among the very first things that we did to turn things around was provide a tax cut to middle-class Canadians. It was the very first order of business that we did in December 2015, a little more than a month after taking office. This put more disposable income into the pockets of middle-class Canadians so that they could provide for their children, their relatives, their loved ones. This began the turnaround of the Canadian economy, a resilient and competitive economy, at a time when the global economy continued to face some uncertainty.
The second major thing this government introduced to spark and spur on economic growth was the Canada child benefit. This plan has been one of the bedrock principles that has helped families, young families. It is done through a means-tested approach, not a “one size fits all” approach. It looks at the needs of the family through the lens of the number of children in the family, their ages, and the overall income of the household. It is tailored to their needs to provide them with the transitional measures and supports so that they can provide for their children as they raise them to be successful and innovative, thriving young Canadians for future generations.
As a result of that, not only have we provided support for the present day, but we have lifted approximately 300,000 children out of poverty, something that every member in this House should be celebrating.
I hear my hon. colleagues heckling, which is an awful shame. It is tragic that the Conservatives do not realize that it is a positive thing to be lifting children out of poverty, and it reflects just how out of touch they continue to be. Canadians are watching very closely.
Something else that we have done since taking office is we have listened very closely to small and medium-sized businesses. They have been telling us that they need the support to remain a competitive jurisdiction in light of the uncertainty across the globe, and they want to keep taxes at a competitive rate. One of the key pledges we made in the last election was that we would reassess the small business tax rate and we would lower it. We went through an exhaustive consultation process, during which I heard from small businesses in my riding about the importance of keeping that commitment.
I am very proud to say that the 2018 federal budget will ensure that we are lowering small business taxes to 9%, which is among the most competitive in the G7, in the G20, in the OECD, so that the conditions are set for their success. This is in stark contrast to the last Conservative government that talked a big game around wanting to lower small business taxes. However, when the Conservatives had the opportunity to support lowering small business taxes in the 2018 budget, they voted against it.
Again, Canadians will be watching very closely. They will not just be listening to the conventional rhetoric they hear from Conservatives, that tired, recycled rhetoric, around being great champions of industry. Canadians are going to look at the Conservatives' voting record and ask their members of Parliament why they voted against this. Those members will not have a compelling answer.
Another area that we have been trying to address as Canada continues to succeed, thrive, and grow in an increasingly competitive global economy is to provide more flexibility around young families who are growing. We do that by ensuring that mothers, fathers, and parents can take the leave that is necessary when they are having children or adopting children. The flexibility that is in the 2018 budget will do that. Once again, I wonder why my Conservative colleagues do not support measures like that. If they truly are for families, why are they not supporting it? We get no answer, only silence. Let us remember their actions over words.
There are a few other areas I would like to touch on that will capture where we are today. We have made progress from where we were to where we are today. How do we know that? Over 600,000 jobs have been created since this government has taken office, a record jobs growth.
An hon. member: Full-time jobs?
Mr. Marco Mendicino: The majority are full-time jobs. I thank my hon. colleague for clarifying that. We had seen record unemployment. Statistics Canada has been taking very precise measurements around unemployment. We have seen it go through the floor.
This government has made investments, such as the Canada child benefit plan, reducing small business taxes, and creating the Canada workers benefit. The Canada workers benefit will ensure that low-income earning Canadians, those Canadians who are working hard to get a leg up to provide for their loved ones will have some additional support as well.
Very recently an issue that has hit very close to home for me and the people I represent in Eglinton—Lawrence has to do with gun violence. We have seen far too many innocent Canadians lose their lives as a result of organized crime, getting their hands on illegal guns but also guns which were purchased legally but then were commandeered through organized crime. This government is very sensitive to that issue. It is an issue which touches all Canadians.
An hon. member: What about the Criminal Code?
Mr. Marco Mendicino: I hear my—
Madam Speaker, before I get into the details of the bill, I want to mention a sentiment, which I think all members of the House will share. I hope the member for makes a speedy recovery. I know it has been in the news that he has been hospitalized. I want to express my best wishes to the members of the opposite caucus, and I hope he returns to the House. I am told he is doing quite well, but I am looking forward to seeing him back here.
As I do in many of my speeches, I have a Yiddish proverb I would like to use. I know some members expect it and the table expects it sometimes too. However, “a gentle word can even a bone”, which is a good thing since I do not have any gentle words to share about the budget implementation act, and I have gone through most of it.
Almost a third of the budget document is about the carbon tax. We were always told that the carbon tax would be so simple to implement. However, when we go through this document, it seems like it is a litany of how this will punish Canadian society, how it will punish individual Canadians, and some of the exorbitant and ridiculous reporting standards to which Canadians will have to adhere. There is very little with respect to transparency and reporting standards expected of the government. Those are two things I want to mention.
Another part is that I took the time to go through provincial budget documents. The interesting thing I found, and I will to go through them, is how taken provincial governments are with balancing the budget and demonstrating either an intent and a date, a specific timeline to get there, and the procedure by which they will get there. This is very different from what we see in this budget document. There is no table, no intention, and no words to convey that message to Canadians or to members of the House of Commons that the Liberal caucus or the Liberal government intends to get to a balanced budget.
We know the deficit for this year is $18.1 billion, which is three times larger than what the Liberals promised during the election. That is a broken promise right there. There is not a single fiscal table and there is not a single graph in the budget document, or in the BIA, that demonstrates whether they will return to a balanced budget.
The B.C. budget, at page 139, talks about a projected surplus of $219 million.
There is the Alberta budget document, although there is a question whether we should believe the document and its intention to reach a balance. However, even the Alberta NDP know that it is a culturally Canadian asset to say that it intends to get to a balanced budget and this is how it will do it. On page 12, it indicates that through efficiencies such as controlled spending, eliminating waste, and so on, it will get to a balanced budget by 2023-24.
On page 3 of the Saskatchewan provincial budget, it makes reference to this common cultural context in Canada.
Ever since the 1990s, we have tried to balance our budget on behalf of the hard-working taxpayers of Canada, who will be expected to pay for all this. All of this borrowed money will have to be paid for either by this generation or the next, or the one that comes after it.
The Manitoba budget, on page 3, expressly states, “We are on schedule to reduce the PST during our first term, and deliver a balanced budget during our second term. It is there in white and black. It knows it is important.
In the Ontario budget, and, again, whether we can believe the Premier of Ontario and the promises she makes, on page 166, it makes an attempt. There is a table there and wording as to the fact that the government will try to balance its budget. There is some shifting around of the numbers, but even it knows it is important to say the words and to understand how the mechanics of public budgeting work, and to present it to the public and make a case for it.
The federal Liberal government does not even bother making that case in the budget implementation act or in the budget document itself.
The 2018-19 Quebec budget, section A.3, says, “A budgetary surplus of $850 million is forecast for 2017-2018 and a balanced budget is forecast for subsequent years.”
The New Brunswick budget, at page 7, says, “a return to balance by 2021-2022.”
The Nova Scotia budget is in a surplus. It says, “third consecutive balanced budget for fiscal year 2018–19 with an estimated surplus of $29.4 million (Table 2.1).”
The Newfoundland and Labrador budget and financial plan is not balanced, but it states on the very first page, “Government remains on track to return to surplus in 2022-23.” The government there understands that it has to demonstrate to residents that it is returning to a balanced budget and it has a process by which it will do it. It is on page 1. It knows it is important.
In its budget, Prince Edward Island admits to a deficit of $46 million and that a balanced budget is expected in the foreseeable future. It has a table that demonstrates expenditures and revenues of the government. People can see the graph showing that in the very near future, in 2023-2024, the budget will be balanced. The lines meet, and at some point there will be a surplus. It is there.
Every provincial government in our country has a finance minister who, in his or her budgetary documents, has been able to demonstrate or prove a balanced budget, or an intent and method by which the government will reach it.
The federal government does not. The cannot seem to bring himself to say those two words and explain how he will get there. He did not do it in the budget document or the budget implementation act, and he has not done so before the finance committee. In fact, when we ask him the question, he resorts to attacks. He cannot even explain it. He does not even understand it.
On the specifics of the budget implementation act, let us admit one thing. It is an omnibus legislation. Subdivision K, Inspections, under “by whom” in regard to carbon tax will allow:
||...inspect, audit or examine the records, processes, property or premises of a person that may be relevant in determining the obligations of that or any other person under this Part...
That part is the carbon tax compliance. Does this mean it will be civil servants of the Government of Canada inspecting the premises and properties of Canadians to ensure they are paying the carbon tax they are supposed to be paying? Is that the expectation, through this section of the bill in subdivision K, that Canadians can expect civil servants to come onto their property to ensure they are paying the carbon tax due? It goes on:
||...enter any place in which the authorized person reasonably believes the person keeps or should keep records, carries on any activity to which this Part applies or does anything in relation to that activity...
It is a lot of legalese, but I do not see anything about there being a warrant. It just speaks of a person authorized by the minister who may at all reasonable times, for any purpose related to administration or enforcement of this part. This is a lot of compliance measures to ensure every Canadian pays the carbon tax, and how the government can ensure every bit of revenue is extracted from Canadian business and individual Canadians. That is the only reason to have such a section.
At committee, other members of Parliament have attempted to ask the how much GHG emissions will be reduced, if we pay a carbon tax and how much total revenue will be generated through the carbon tax. It is reasonable to ask the question. The Minister of Environment was unable, or unwilling, to answer the question posed by a Conservative member of Parliament.
I want to draw the attention of the House to part 4, report to Parliament, the annual report expected to be tabled on the carbon tax. That section states:
|| Starting in the year in which the second anniversary of the day on which this section comes into force falls and each calendar year after that, the Minister of the Environment must prepare a report on the administration of this Act and have a copy of the report tabled in each House of Parliament.
It is reasonable. I like reports to be tabled before Parliament, especially before they appear on some government website under carbon tax administration. However, should we not expect there to be some type of detail? Should Parliament not dictate to the Minister of Environment exactly what he or she will be reporting on? It should be things such as how much money has been collected by the carbon tax across all provinces and territories of Canada, how much residents have paid versus how much corporations have paid. It should also have the statistic that shows how much GHG emissions have been reduced by. That is a reasonable thing for Canadians to expect.
However, we know the Liberals do not know the answer to the question, because they have never bothered to look into it. From the very beginning, when members on this side of the House have asked questions on how the carbon tax will work or how it impact will middle-income Canadians, we have received either redacted documents or non-answers in question period and during debate. Now it continues at committee.
There is no way we can support this budget. All it will be is further punishment to the middle class and Canadians. I am opposed to the budget. I look forward to questions from the other side.
Madam Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to stand today and speak to budget 2018, our Liberal government's move forward to restoring economic prosperity to Canada.
Let me start by saying that I am a proud member of this House and a proud member of the riding of Saint John—Rothesay in southern New Brunswick. It is a riding that has a strong industrial base, a riding that is very strongly unionized, and a riding that has a strong heritage. It was Canada's first Loyalist city.
I am a proud member of the Liberal Party. When I ran for the Liberal Party, I ran on three different things. Number one, I ran on restoring infrastructure investment and infrastructure spending in southern New Brunswick and Saint John—Rothesay. Number two, I ran on being an advocate in championing the fight against poverty and championing poverty reduction in Saint John—Rothesay. Number three, I ran to lead the charge on restoring historic assets in Saint John—Rothesay, a riding in a city that has a wonderful history as Canada's first incorporated city and Canada's Loyalist city.
Over the 10 years of the previous Harper government, we saw a continued decline of attention to Atlantic Canada, a lack of attention to spending in Atlantic Canada, and a deterioration of infrastructure spending in Atlantic Canada, particularly in my riding of Saint John—Rothesay. Now there certainly seems to be clear attention to my riding. The Conservative Party is running Facebook ads naming me and pointing out my record in Saint John—Rothesay. The is coming to Saint John—Rothesay in a couple of weeks to speak. Let me state very clearly that the constituents of Saint John—Rothesay are going to ask the Leader of the Opposition many direct questions when he comes to my riding.
The party opposite likes to wrap itself up as being a steward of the economy, presenting itself as the best manager of the economy. Let me say that the previous government ran six straight deficits, ran deficit after deficit after deficit, and all of a sudden in its last year—
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
Madam Speaker, this is a government that basically inherited deficit after deficit. We have turned that around. We are investing in our economy. When the comes to Saint John—Rothesay, there will be questions asked of him. For example, which of the programs and infrastructure investments that we have seen in my riding, historic investments made over the last two years, would he cut? Would he cut the historic $67-million investment to transform the port of Saint John, which employs thousands and is an economic stimulus for southern New Brunswick? Would he pull back the $6-million investment for the new trade school at the New Brunswick Community College? Would he pull back the over $10-million investment for the YSJ airport, which the recently announced when he came to my riding last week, the first federal investment announced for the Saint John Airport in almost 20 years? Would he pull back the investments made into historic assets like Fort La Tour, the Martello tower, the Imperial Theatre, and the Saint John City Market? The residents of Saint John—Rothesay would like to know.
What would he do about the historic and transformational Canada child benefit, which is changing the lives of tens of thousands of people and families across our country, and is better for nine out of 10 families? Would he pull that back? I do not think so.
We are a government that believes we play a role in the lives of Canadians. We are a government that believes in investing in infrastructure, in our communities, and in historic assets in Saint John—Rothesay.
Let me clearly say that the government of the party across the way ran deficit after deficit. Then, mysteriously, in its last year in government, it balanced the budget. It threw in a little bit of an EI rainy day fund, it sold GM stocks, and it laid off workers and managers of the Phoenix system, all to balance the budget. That was not right. The Conservatives know it was not right.
We are turning our economy around. We are investing in Canadians. We are investing in children. In particular, in my riding I am thrilled to lead the fight against poverty. Unfortunately, Saint John, New Brunswick, leads the country in child poverty. One out of every three of our children lives in poverty. That number is not acceptable and needs to change, and under the leadership of the , we are making that change. We are reducing the number of children who are living in poverty.
Through our budgets, we have invested historic amounts into housing. We are leading a national housing strategy. We have invested historic amounts into early learning and child care. We have signed bilateral agreements with the Province of New Brunswick and Premier Gallant. Most recently, we invested $70 million into a seniors pilot program. I can go through investment after investment and project after project that our government is delivering in my riding of Saint John—Rothesay.
As a member of Parliament and the representative for Saint John—Rothesay, I am trying to make my riding better each and every day, for each and every person, by moving each and every project forward one at a time and by working hard for the wonderful citizens of Saint John—Rothesay. That is what our budget is about. That is what investing in Canadians is all about. As Liberals, we believe that we can have an impact on the lives of Canadians. We do not want to pull programs back. We believe we can invest and provide transformational programs that change people's lives.
When I go door to door in my riding, I find that people are genuinely appreciative of what our Liberal government is doing and what we are delivering in our budget.
Let us be transparent. I come from an industrial city, a unionized city. I come from a city that understands its role. I talk with industry people regularly. The industry wants to be a part of the solution. It does not fight carbon pricing. The industry wants to be a part of the solution.
The growth and investment in Saint John—Rothesay has been significant over the last two years. We are changing the culture of our city. We are showing the people that the federal government and strong federal representation is good and can change the lives of citizens of Saint John—Rothesay as well as citizens right across the country.
Madam Speaker, I rise to speak to Bill , the budget implementation act.
Two and a half years ago, when the government was elected, it could be said that it hit the jackpot. The Liberal government hit the jackpot because it inherited the sound fiscal management of the previous Conservative government, a government that paid down a historic $40 billion of Canada's national debt between 2006 and 2008 during good economic times. It was a government that resulted in leading Canada towards a balanced budget, and not only a balanced budget, but a surplus budget.
The Liberals inherited the Conservative jackpot. Then, to top it off, there were a lot of external factors, such as low interest rates, low inflation, a housing bubble that has resulted in an employment boom and revenue boom, a stronger than average global economy, a U.S. economy that has taken off, and the doubling of oil prices.
Having inherited such a good situation, what has the government done to the fiscal health of this country? The answer is that it has made an absolute mess of it. In fairness to the , during the last election, he said that he would take the Conservative surplus and turn it into a deficit. He said he would do it for a few years, for three budgets, but, not to worry, by 2019 there would be a balanced budget.
True to the 's word, he has delivered deficits. He delivered deficits in the first year, the second year, and this year. The deficit in the first year was more than double what he said it would be. The deficit in the second year was more than double what he said it would be. This year, the deficit is going to be three times what he said it was going to be.
What about that promise to balance the budget? According the projections for next year, we can kiss a balanced budget goodbye. We are not going to have a balanced budget. Instead, we are going to have a massive deficit of nearly $20 billion. Indeed, on the question of balancing the budget, there was no mention of a timeline towards a balanced budget, either in the budget or in the budget implementation bill. There was no plan for how Canada would return to a balanced budget. Indeed, there was no mention of a balanced budget at all in the budget or the budget implementation bill.
It seems that the hopes that Canadians will forget that he ever promised a balanced budget. I think it is important that we put it in some context. During the last election, the Prime Minister said that he would run some deficits but that he had a four-year plan to return Canada to a balanced budget.
When is the budget going to be balanced? At the current rate, based on current Liberal fiscal policies, it is not going to be in 2019. It is not going to be in 2020 or 2029 or 2039. It is going to be in 2045. What we have is a who has taken what he promised to be a four-year plan to return the budget to balance, and he has turned it into a 40-year plan to balance the budget.
Imagine, if during the last election the had come clean with Canadians and said that a Liberal government would run deficits, but not to worry because in 40 years the budget would be balanced. How would Canadians have responded to that campaign commitment? He would have been laughed off the stage.
Here we are with this fiscal train wreck, with a 40-year plan to balance the budget. In addition, with all of these deficits, the sea of red ink, the government is set to add nearly half a trillion dollars to the debt over the next 20 years. While we talk about a $20-billion deficits this year and next year and as far as the eye can see, and when we talk about half a trillion dollars in new debt, as gloomy as those figures are, they are conservative figures, because in order for those figures to be realized, next year's budget would have to not increase spending at all. Direct program spending could not go beyond a 1.5% increase. For the last three years, the government has increased direct program spending by over 6%. The idea that somehow after increasing direct program spending by 6% that it is suddenly going to be reduced to 1.5% is a fairy tale.
Moreover, the numbers in the budget are predicated on the basis that both Keystone and Trans Mountain are going to be built. Both of these projects are well behind schedule, thanks to the policies of the government. Indeed, Kinder Morgan is on life support. There is $450 billion of new debt, $20-billion deficits, and it is not going to be that; it is going to be far worse.
There are some very real costs associated with all of this Liberal red ink. One of those costs is debt servicing costs. Debt servicing costs are set to increase by one-third in the next five years. Debt servicing costs are scheduled to go from $25 billion today to $33 billion in five years, which is more than the federal government spends on any single federal department. Who is going to pay for all of this red ink, all of this borrowing, all of this spending? Why, it is the taxpayer, and there is only one taxpayer.
We have seen a government that has made life more difficult for everyday Canadians as a result of its fiscal mismanagement. We have seen the average middle-class family have their taxes go up by, on average, $800 out of their wallet. We have seen a government that is now going to make life even more difficult for everyday Canadians, with its tax on everything, its massive carbon tax, which is disproportionately going to impact lower income and middle-class Canadians. Indeed, in the province of Ontario under the Kathleen Wynne cap-and-trade scheme, one-third of lower income earners pay one-third more of their income as a result of that tax than wealthy Ontarians. That is who is going to pay for it.
The government is not only targeting everyday middle-class Canadians with more taxes to pay for its out-of-control spending, it is also shaking down small business owners, the job creators, people who invest in local economies and create jobs, with unfair tax changes that are, among other things, going to significantly limit the ability of small businesses with respect to passive income.
There are some very real, serious costs as a result of the government's fiscal mismanagement. What budget 2018, in the end, means is more deficits, more debt, higher debt servicing charges, higher taxes for middle-class Canadians, and a sea of red ink. As the hon. leader of Her Majesty's loyal opposition so aptly stated, never has a government spent so much to deliver so little.