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Results: 1 - 15 of 747
View Vance Badawey Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Vance Badawey Profile
2021-06-18 11:47 [p.8773]
Madam Speaker, the COVID-19 pandemic hit businesses across Canada hard. Now, as we move into recovery, it is crucial that we support communities through the reopening process. This is particularly important for indigenous businesses that often face barriers such as accessing capital or broadband Internet.
Could the minister please provide an update on the current supports for first nations, Inuit and Métis businesses?
View Marc Miller Profile
Lib. (QC)
Madam Speaker, on Wednesday our government announced $117 million to renew the indigenous community business fund to support local businesses and economies. The first round of this initiative helped fund over 1,000 first nations, Inuit and Métis-owned businesses.
We recognize that indigenous businesses, particularly community-owned micro-businesses such as beaders and craft workers, face unique challenges due to their size and have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. This distinctions-based fund will relieve financial pressure for businesses, sustain jobs and keep doors open through the economic recovery.
View Charlie Angus Profile
View Charlie Angus Profile
2021-06-18 12:50 [p.8785]
Mr. Speaker, I rise today on a question of privilege for an issue that I think goes beyond merely the procedural wrangling that often happen in the House. It speaks to issues that are confronting us as a nation and very much goes to the heart of what our obligations are as parliamentarians and what we need to do as a nation to address historical wrongs.
As I walked to Parliament Hill this morning, I noticed that the national flag continues to fly at half-mast. It is an extraordinary move that flags across this nation are at half-mast. They are there, of course, to pay respect to the 215 children of the former Catholic residential school in Kamloops whose bodies have been found. We now know about children found in Manitoba, and we know that we will find many other children who never got to go home.
I am sure members took the time to stop at the eternal flame to see the extraordinary outpouring of sadness and respect for the children who have been taken. It shows that Canadians, from all walks of life, are not only shocked and saddened by what has happened to indigenous children, but are looking to these institutions to correct it. The deaths of these children were not accidental. These children died through deliberate policies that were made in the chamber of the House of Commons. The taking of indigenous children from their families was done to destroy indigenous identity in Canada, and it meets the international test of genocide, as the destruction of a people involves the taking of children.
I say this, in leading up to my point of privilege, to encourage my colleagues and citizens to go see the memorial that is at the flame right now. For the indigenous people of this country, these are not historical wrongs, although the government always uses that term. It is a present-day attack through the broken social welfare system, through the taking of children that has continued without pause since Confederation. We have more children in the broken child welfare system today than were ever taken to residential schools.
The background to this, of course, is that in response to the revelations in Kamloops and the shock on the part of Canadians and the demand for action, we brought to the House, on June 7, a motion that was passed unanimously. It reads:
That, given that,
(i) the discovery of the grave of 215 children at Kamloops Indian Residential School has led to an outpouring of grief and anger across Canada,
(ii) the vast majority of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's calls to action remain uncompleted, despite the clear path to justice and reconciliation that the Commission provides,
(iii) survivors, families and nations are demanding concrete action to advance real reconciliation, as opposed to just more words and symbolic gestures,
the House call on the government to:
(a) cease its belligerent and litigious approach to justice for Indigenous children by immediately dropping its appeal before the Federal Court in file numbers T-1621-19 (compensation) and T-1559-20 (Jordan's Principle for non-status First Nations kids recognized by their nations) and to recognize the government's legal obligation to fully comply with Canadian Human Rights Tribunal orders in this regard;
(b) agree to sit down with the St. Anne's residential school survivors organization Peetabeck Keway Keykaywin Association to find a just solution to the fact that survivors’ access to justice has been denied as a consequence of the actions of government lawyers in suppressing evidence at the Independent Assessment Process;
(c) accelerate the implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action, including by providing immediate funding for further investigation into the deaths and disappearances of children at residential schools in compliance with calls to action 71 to 76;
(d) provide survivors, their families, and their communities with appropriate resources to assist with the emotional, physical, spiritual, mental, and cultural trauma resulting from residential schools; and
(e) within 10 days, table a progress report on actions taken in compliance with paragraphs (a) through (d) of the present motion, and that this report be deemed to have been referred to the Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs for consideration upon tabling.
I want to stress the call that within 10 days, we “table a progress report on actions taken in compliance with paragraphs (a) through (d) of the present motion”, which was passed unanimously in the House of Commons, and we refer the report to the Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs.
Late last night, the Liberal government presented a report at the eleventh hour, but this report in no way addresses the seriousness and specificity of what was laid out in the motion. In fact, it looks like some staffer did a cut-and-paste job and looked some stuff up on Google, and then had the temerity to present it to Parliament. What we see are Liberal electoral claims and claims from the previous budget announcements, but they in no way meet the test of what was laid out in a very serious motion about reconciliation and justice, particularly in the call to end the federal court cases in files T-1621-19 and T-1559-20 and recognize the government's legal obligation to fully comply with the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings. The report did not respect the right of members of the House to receive the documents and information needed for us to see whether the government has respected the will of Parliament.
We know that only days after Parliament instructed the Prime Minister to end his belligerent and toxic legal war against indigenous children, he opted instead to instruct the Minister of Indigenous Services and the Attorney General of Canada to return to federal court to try to quash the two federal cases specifically referenced in the motion. Once again, if we look at the memorials for the dead children that have been put up across this country, wherever we look they will show us pictures and stories of the children still being taken today. The Human Rights Tribunal found in 2016 that the government was guilty of systemic discrimination through “wilful and reckless” policies that it knew were harmful to the children. Parliament called on the government to end those court cases and negotiate a just solution.
The motion could not be considered unfair by the government, nor can it say we are not giving it enough time, because we know that the Assembly of First Nations has an offer on the table for the government to get out of court and settle. The government was instructed to do that. The motion was timely, and the issue of the 10 days was important because we knew the government was getting ready to return to federal court. Instead, the government has opted to be held in contempt by the House.
Members should listen to the explanations by the government about why it ignored Parliament. As we know, the Prime Minister, the Minister of Indigenous Services and all the key people on this file did not even bother to show up to vote on the motion. They said they did not vote because they did not want to show contempt for the courts. However, they were more than willing to show contempt for the indigenous people of this country, and they were more than willing to show contempt for Parliament.
If we believe, as a fundamental principle, that it is okay for members of cabinet to absolve themselves of the obligation to respect the will of Parliament and show contempt for Parliament, we are, I think, on very dangerous terrain. We are at a historical moment in this country, and that is why I bring this question to the House with such urgency. I have brought forward questions of privilege in the past about governments doing this or not doing that, but we are talking about the policies that led to the widespread death and damage of generations of indigenous children. The government says these harms are historical, but that has been proven to be untrue. It is ongoing.
What is incredibly cynical is that, in ignoring the order of Parliament, the Minister of Indigenous Services has misled the House time and time again, because we see what is actually in the legal case by the federal government. He claims that it is just trying to clarify jurisdictional questions. No, it is not. It is trying to quash the ruling.
He claims that the tribunal failed to give due consideration to Canada's right to procedural fairness through this process, and that when Canada raised concerns about the lack of procedural fairness, the tribunal stated that any procedural unfairness to Canada is outweighed by the prejudice born by the victims of discrimination.
The minister took that statement, which clearly says that the harms that have been done to children far outweigh the procedural fairness to the government, and is using that to attack the tribunal at federal court.
I raise this because the motion speaks about St. Anne's residential school survivors. In that case, the federal government took the exact opposite position and said that St. Anne's survivors were not entitled to the basic principle of procedural fairness. When it comes to denying basic services and rights to indigenous people, the government flips its argument.
I am getting to the point of the issue of contempt. The House of Commons Procedure and Practice says that while contempt can be hard to define:
The United Kingdom Joint Committee on Parliamentary Privilege attempted to provide a list of some types of contempt in its 1999 report...[including] without reasonable excuse, refusing to answer a question or provide information or produce papers formally required by the House or a committee [and] without reasonable excuse, disobeying a lawful order of the House or a committee.
Contempt is not limited to specific circumstances. It is intentionally meant to be wide-ranging and to provide the House the ability to determine when that bar has been reached.
In this case, the government has been ordered by Parliament to end its toxic legal war that has cost over $10 million in legal fees, resulted in 19 non-compliance orders and seen obstruction after obstruction. The government has been ordered to end this legal war, and to sit down and negotiate. We know there is a negotiating table waiting for them.
The government has also misled the House continually. Just the other day, the Minister of Indigenous Services claimed that because he has not put a six-year-old on the witness stand technically he is not fighting these children in court. In fact, the government's legal argument rests on the dubious case that because these children were found to have suffered systemic, mass discrimination, which the tribunal refers to as wilful and reckless discrimination, none of them is individually eligible for compensation. How can that be?
The government has also said that there has to be a test. That means that unless these six-year-olds, 12-year-olds and 15-year-olds are brought before a government body to be tested for how much suffering they have endured, the government will fight the tribunal.
The reason that the government was hit with $40,000 of compensation per child has to be understood very clearly. When the ruling came down in 2016 and the Prime Minister said he would not contest the order, he had an opportunity to work with Cindy Blackstock, the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society, the Assembly of First Nations and other players, and to sit down and negotiate a way to end these harms. Instead, the government did not. It fought, obstructed and continually ran on the principle that it was not accountable for the lives of children. In the end, the tribunal was so frustrated that it gave the maximum penalty of $40,000 per person, per child in this case, because it said it was the worst case of indifference that the Human Rights Tribunal had ever seen. That happened under the Liberal government.
The fact that the government has continued with these actions is contrary to the will of the House and is therefore an affront to the House. It is now up to the House to determine the action that is needed. I say this again, because we are at a historic crossroads. People are looking. Indigenous people are looking to see whether we take this seriously. Canada's argument all along has been that there is no evidence of children having been harmed through systemic, wilful and reckless discrimination. The government says there is no evidence that children have been harmed.
We know that we lose a child every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday in those broken systems. We lose three children a week, and no one over there seems to even notice.
Now the government has clarified that it has changed after all this losing, time and time again. My God, the government has had more failures than a Ford Pinto when it comes to fighting indigenous kids in court. It has lost every single decision.
This is not the first time the government has failed to comply with a motion on this exact issue. On December 13, 2019, the member for New Westminster—Burnaby raised a question of privilege alleging the government had not complied with a motion I had presented that was adopted unanimously in the House. It called on the government to abide by a decision made by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal on compensation for residential school survivors. In his Speaker's ruling of January 27, 2020, which was the Speaker's very first ruling, he said:
For a motion to constitute an order of the House, it would have to pertain to those matters where the House, acting alone, possesses the power to compel an action. This is true, for example, when the House sends for persons, papers or records, or when it regulates its own internal proceedings. Only in such circumstances will the Chair determine whether disregard for the order in question constitutes a prima facie case of contempt.
We were unsuccessful at that time, but today's case is substantially different because the motion put forward was a substantive debatable motion placed on the Order Paper, and that motion was subject to a recorded division. Therefore, it carries more weight because of the unanimous consent that was expressed in 2019. In this case it was clearly the will of the House that a document be produced and referred to the appropriate standing committee, and that this document was specific to the issues related to the court cases and whether the government was going to respect the will of the House.
Earlier this week, I will remind members, the government was found to have breached privilege on some issues that are very pertinent to this. The official opposition house leader argued this week that, in a May 2019 report on the power to send for papers, the United Kingdom House of Commons procedure committee concluded, at paragraph 16:
The power of the House of Commons to require the production of papers is in theory absolute. It is binding on Ministers, and its exercise has consistently been complied with by the Government.
The Speaker was very wise on ruling on that matter. He stated:
While they are not being challenged, it is still worth recalling that, at the heart of the parliamentary system, and firmly anchored in our Constitution, there are rights and privileges that are indispensable to the performance of members' duties.
For this, we need to receive the documents that treat matters as urgent as the lives of indigenous children and the issue of the finding of systemic discrimination with seriousness and respect.
I am going to conclude, but I want to mention two children: Jolynn Winter and Chantel Fox. They were 12 years old and died on Wapekeka First Nation, and I keep their photos with me in my office. The people of Wapekeka begged the government during the Human Rights Tribunal to get help to children in Wapekeka. The government claimed that it was its right to decide whether these children got services, and these two 12-year-old children died. They were loved and they are mourned, like so many other children who have died. The government was found guilty by the Human Rights Tribunal, in one of many non-compliance orders, of being complicit in their deaths and for its attitude that it is not accountable to the Human Rights Tribunal.
Parliament, in paying tribute to the deaths of those children and the other children who suffered, has called on the government to change track, and it is refusing. The vote was a vote for reconciliation. It was a vote for recognizing the role that this institution played in policies that deliberately attempted to destroy children and destroy indigenous people. It was a vote that told the government these issues are not historic wrongs, but ongoing policies that have caused, and continue to cause, serious damage to the indigenous families of this nation. From the residential schools to the sixties scoop, the millennial scoop and the children being taken today, there is an unbroken line of intent, damage and systemic abuse.
I urge members that we are standing at a historic moment of reckoning. Now I would like to quote the member for Nunavut, who just spoke this week, and I will finish on this. She said:
This place was built on the oppression of indigenous peoples.... Our history is stained with...the blood of children, youth, adults and elders. It is time to face the scales of justice.
On one side we have a mountain of suffering, and whenever the government gives us a grain of sand of support, it seems to think the trauma from our past has been rectified and that somehow it deserves a pat on the back. However, it will take a mountain of support to even begin the healing process. As long as these halls echo with empty promises instead of real action, I will not belong here.
I urge the Speaker, in his role representing Parliament and all our members, to hold the government to account for its contempt, its breach of privilege and its ongoing attack on the indigenous families and children of this nation.
View Bruce Stanton Profile
View Bruce Stanton Profile
2021-06-18 13:11 [p.8788]
I will take under advisement the words of the hon. member for Timmins—James Bay, take this into consideration and get back to the House in due course.
I see the hon. member for Saint-Jean is rising.
View Christine Normandin Profile
View Garnett Genuis Profile
Mr. Speaker, I wanted to offer comment with respect to the question of privilege from the member for Timmins—James Bay.
With the hon. member for Carleton about to rise, is now the appropriate time to do that?
View Sylvie Bérubé Profile
Mr. Speaker, on May 15, the Institut national de la recherche scientifique awarded an honorary doctorate to Édith Cloutier. This is her second honorary doctorate, after the one she was awarded by Concordia University in 2018.
Ms. Cloutier has been the executive director of the Val-d'Or Native Friendship Centre for more than 32 years and also served as chair of the board of directors of Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue. She was the first indigenous woman to hold this position at a Quebec university.
She is credited with implementing practical projects for the urban indigenous community such as the Minowé Clinic, a model of indigenous health care services in Quebec. Ms. Cloutier has received many accolades from governments, community organizations and universities, including the Ordre national du Québec in 2006 and the Order of Canada in 2013.
I congratulate Ms. Cloutier, and I thank her for all her work on behalf of members of first nations and indigenous peoples.
View Michael McLeod Profile
Lib. (NT)
View Michael McLeod Profile
2021-06-17 14:46 [p.8674]
Mr. Speaker, a person's name is fundamental to who they are. Indigenous names are endowed with deep, cultural meaning and speak to indigenous peoples' presence on the land since time immemorial. Yet, the impact of colonialism means that many indigenous peoples' names have not been recognized.
Could the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship please update the House on the progress the government has made in responding to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's call to action 17 to enable residential school survivors and their families to reclaim and use their indigenous names on all government documents?
View Marco Mendicino Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, supporting first nations, Inuit and Métis peoples in reclaiming and using their indigenous names is an integral part of the shared journey of reconciliation. We have now established a formal process for residential school survivors, their families and all indigenous peoples to reclaim their indigenous names on passports and other travel documents free of charge.
Fulfilling call to action 17 means that indigenous peoples can proudly reclaim that which was always theirs, their names, which will allow us to continue on the road to reconciliation.
View Greg Fergus Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Greg Fergus Profile
2021-06-17 18:32 [p.8706]
Madam Speaker, I am thankful for this opportunity to speak about the government-wide main estimates for 2021-22.
As members know, on February 25, the hon. Minister of Seniors tabled, on behalf of the President of the Treasury Board, the annual departmental plans and the main estimates, 2021-22.
These main estimates have been studied and last week the President of the Treasury Board put forward the motion that the main estimates, less the amounts voted in the interim supply, be approved by this House. Today, I would like to explain why this is so important and the steps the government has taken to ensure transparency and accountability in government spending.
As Canadians continue to fight COVID‑19 and its devastating impacts, the main estimates set out the government's requests for the financing needed to fund its ongoing operations in the year ahead.
As we all know, when the COVID‑19 pandemic hit, it plunged our country into our worst recession since the Great Depression. Tens of thousands of businesses closed down, and jobs and incomes were lost all across the country. The hardest hit were seniors, women, young people, racialized communities, low-income workers and small businesses, especially in the tourism and hospitality industry.
The pandemic took the lives of too many Canadians.
An essential part of Canada's fight against COVID‑19 has been the unprecedented support made available to Canadians and Canadian businesses by the government. We knew Canadians needed a lifeline to get through the COVID‑19 storm, so we launched programs to help our citizens, like the Canada emergency response benefit, the Canada emergency student benefit, the Canada emergency wage subsidy and targeted support for regions, economic sectors and not-for-profit organizations. This approach has worked, but the storm is not over. Canadians continue to need the government's ongoing support as businesses reopen and the economy is repaired and built back better for everyone. The funds requested in these main estimates will help the government do just that.
Government organizations are seeking funds to continue delivering already approved programs and services and to make investments to support Canadians during the pandemic and create the right conditions for a successful economic recovery. The funds requested reflect our ongoing commitment to investing in Canada's pandemic response, from economic support for individuals and businesses to paying for vaccines, enhancing support for mental health tools, virtual health care and more.
The main estimates provide information about the $342.2 billion in proposed expenditures for 123 organizations. That amount can be broken down into $141.9 billion for voted expenditures and $200.3 billion for statutory expenditures.
Statutory expenditures have already been authorized in existing legislation, such as the COVID‑19 Emergency Response Act and the Canada Recovery Benefits Act, so they are presented in the budget for information only.
In March, roughly $59 billion of the $141.9 billion in voted expenditures was approved to cover the requirements of organizations for the first three months of the fiscal year, including to continue the government's key operations, and for COVID‑19 response measures and emergency reports.
Of the total $342.2 billion being requested in the main estimates, just over $22 billion is related to the COVID‑19 pandemic response, split almost evenly between voted and statutory expenditures. This includes just over $10 billion for the Canada recovery benefit, the Canada recovery sickness benefit and the Canada recovery caregiving benefit.
Other significant changes in statutory spending from last year's main estimates include updates to major transfer payments, such as elderly benefits, the Canada health transfer and an increased climate action incentive payment published in the fall economic statement 2020.
Let me now focus on some of the larger organizations in these estimates. There are six organizations seeking more than $5 billion each in voted budgetary expenditures.
One of these is the Public Health Agency of Canada, which is asking Parliament for authorization to spend $8.7 billion. PHAC will use the money to continue its important work helping Canadians deal with the pandemic by investing in COVID‑19 vaccines, therapeutic products, medical equipment and PPE, as well as closing gaps in biomanufacturing.
PHAC is also responsible for maintaining quarantine facilities funded by the federal government, strengthening its border and health travel program and helping municipalities offer safe voluntary isolation sites to prevent the virus from spreading further.
Although the main estimates reflect government spending in response to the COVID‑19 pandemic, they also demonstrate ongoing support for other priorities that are crucial to Canadians' interests, such as national security and defence.
The Department of National Defence is presenting $22.8 billion in voted expenditures in the 2021-22 main estimates, which include investments in the “Strong, Secure, Engaged” defence policy, as well as important funding for equipment upgrades.
There is also the Department of Indigenous Services, which is seeking $13.4 billion. Included for Indigenous Services Canada in the estimates is a proposed net increase of $508.6 million to improve access to safe, clean drinking water in first nations communities. In addition, proposed spending includes increases of $122.6 million for supportive care in indigenous communities and $104.7 million for education programs at the elementary, secondary and post-secondary levels.
The fourth organization I will highlight is the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, which is seeking $7 billion through these main estimates.
These planned expenditures include a number of votes that are centrally managed by Treasury Board ministers and total nearly $3.7 billion. The funds are allocated to federal organizations and facilitate the Treasury Board's roles as employer, management board and budget office of the government. Just over $3 billion is also set aside for its responsibilities as an employer.
These expenditures will be used to make payments under the public service pension, benefits and insurance plans, including the employer's contribution to health, income maintenance and life insurance premiums.
Finally, the main estimates of the Treasury Board Secretariat also include a net increase of $27 million for program spending. The main objective of this increase is to improve diversity and inclusion in the public service and to ensure that the Canadian Digital Service can continue to provide critical digital products and services related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Another important priority for the government is international development and diplomacy. Through the proposed funding of the $6.3 billion in these estimates, Global Affairs Canada will continue to implement Canada's feminist foreign policy and support actions to reduce poverty and fragility in developing countries. Global Affairs Canada will also work with global partners to promote trade and continue to strengthen its consular program.
Hon. colleagues, Canadians also care about how we treat our veterans and how we want the government to honour their service. These men and women are the veterans who served to protect the very rights and freedoms we enjoy today. With the proposed funding in these estimates of $6.2 billion, Veterans Affairs Canada will continue to deliver important services and ensure benefit programs continue to meet the needs of our veterans.
I would like to mention a couple of other organizations that provide essential services to Canadians: the Canada Border Services Agency, or CBSA, and the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. The CBSA provides border services that support national security policies and facilitates the flow of people and goods across the border. To do this, it is requesting just over $1.8 billion.
The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation helps Canadians meet their housing needs. For example, it works with the provinces and territories, first nations, as well as the private and non-profit sectors to improve access to affordable housing. It is requesting approximately $3.3 billion to carry out its activities.
We would also like to assure Canadians that their government is committed to the principles of openness, transparency and accountability, especially in times of rapid change. Let me turn to that now, beginning with the overall estimates process, of which these main estimates are a part.
In our system of Parliament, the estimates are crucial to ensuring transparency and accountability in the government’s use of public money. The main estimates, supplementary estimates, departmental plans and departmental results reports, in conjunction with the public accounts, all help parliamentarians scrutinize government spending. I cannot overstate how important this information is to the functioning of our system of government. In fact, accountability is predicated on parliamentarians knowing how public funds are being spent, so that they can hold the government to account for its actions.
The government fully recognizes its responsibility and its commitment to accountability to Canadians through the members of Parliament who represent them. This commitment has taken on a special significance since the outbreak of the COVID‑19 pandemic and the emergency measures taken by the government.
Due to the unprecedented levels of spending in response to the pandemic, the government provided Parliament information that went beyond what is normally presented. For example, in the spring of 2020, the Minister of Finance began submitting to the Standing Committee on Finance a biweekly report on statutory spending in response to the pandemic. As for the estimates, we are providing side reports, with a detailed list of statutory authorities and an online annex on estimated pandemic-related expenditures.
There is also a complete breakdown of these planned expenditures by standard object, such as personnel, professional services, transfer payments and more. This information on planned spending on the COVID-19 response, along with estimated expenditures, is also publicly available on GC InfoBase, an easy-to-use online tool, and through the open government portal. By developing these datasets and digital tools, we are demonstrating our commitment to providing parliamentarians and Canadians with more information on where public funds are going and how they are being spent. To close the loop on expenditure reporting for the fiscal year, the government will also report on actual expenditures and results in the public accounts and departmental results reports in the fall.
Hon. colleagues, the government is committed to being open and transparent with Canadians and their representatives, particularly during this pandemic. We have introduced special measures to help our citizens, businesses and communities from all regions during these challenging times. Many of these measures were passed in Parliament through emergency legislation and continue to help Canadians through the crisis. Again, the full disclosure of all these is paramount for the government.
I should also mention part III of the main estimates, the departmental plans and the departmental results reports, which work together and have been part of the government's efforts to improve accountability to Parliament for the last 25 years.
In recent years, the government has tabled the main estimates and the departmental plans at about the same time.
The departmental plans show how each department plans to achieve results and provide further details on the resources requested in the main estimates. They also establish a link between program performance, expected results, commitments set out in the ministers' mandate letters, and government priorities. Departmental plans are organized according to core responsibilities and expected results, which are the baseline against which organizations monitor and report on their end-of-year performance.
That reporting and tracking is done through the department's subsequent departmental results reports, which are tabled in Parliament after the end of the fiscal year, at around the same time as the public accounts. All this detailed information is available on GC InfoBase, as well as departmental web sites. These reporting mechanisms ensure parliamentarians and Canadians can easily track our priorities and plan spending to see how we are achieving results.
I have gone into some detail describing the monies requested through these main estimates, why it is important and how we are ensuring transparency and accountability with respect to government spending, but let me come back to the key point. The story of the main estimates 2021-22 is more than just a story about numbers and expenditure management. It is a story about Canadians looking after each other.
We all know how hard the pandemic has hit Canadians and their families. It has been a matter of life and death for some, financial hardship for many and protecting our loved ones for us all. That is why the government acted quickly over the past year to provide financial help for individuals, businesses and the health care system.
A good number of these measures are ongoing in 2021.
These measures placed real pressure on many departments, which must continue to provide these emergency measures in addition to their core programs and services.
As parliamentarians, our work consists in ensuring that government organizations have the financial resources required to do the work that Canadians expect of them. Departments must have the financial capacity to continue protecting Canadians, and the funding proposed in these estimates will let them do that this upcoming fiscal year.
In closing, in the upcoming year, we will face ongoing and new challenges. The main estimates attest to the government's commitment to address these challenges while continuing to work on other national priorities.
It has been a long journey, and if COVID-19 has taught us anything, it is that we are in this together.
I would like to close my remarks by thanking my hon. colleagues on all sides of the House for their ongoing collaboration as we work together to help Canadians during these difficult times. As we finish the fight against COVID-19 and rebuild a resilient, economic recovery that creates jobs and growth for our people, I know that the government can count on members' support.
View Peter Julian Profile
Mr. Speaker, I just want to say that I am coming to you from the traditional unceded territory of the QayQayt First Nation and the Coast Salish peoples. I thank them for this privilege.
I would like to start off by paying tribute to frontline workers, health care workers and emergency responders across the country. We have seen over the last 15 months, as our country has entered into this unparalleled health crisis, incredible bravery and incredible dedication on behalf of all those Canadians who have tried to keep us alive and well, and who continue to serve us during this pandemic.
Now, we can look, and there is a potential light at the end of the tunnel, as we start to see, slowly, the number of infections going down. We still have much work to do, there is no doubt, but we can start to envisage what kind of society we can actually build post-COVID.
I do that from my background as a financial administrator. As members know, I started out my adult working life as a factory worker and eventually was able to save up enough money to go back to school and learn about finances and financial management. I was able, fortunately, to use that in a variety of social enterprises and organizations.
The one thing I learned that is fundamental, when we talk about financial administration, is that we have to follow the money to see what the priorities of a social enterprise, business or organization are. What the priorities are is often dictated by where the flow of money goes. In this debate and this discussion around the main estimates and where we are as a country, it is fundamentally important to ask the question “Where is the money flowing to?” That is why this main estimates process and this debate tonight are so fundamentally important.
As members well know, in our corner of the House, and this dates back to the time of Tommy Douglas, within the NDP we have always believed that it is fundamentally important to make sure that those who are the wealthiest in society pay their fair share. Tommy Douglas was able to, in the first democratic socialist government in North America, actually put in place universal health care. He was able to do that because he put in place a fair tax system.
We can look at the NDP governments since that time. I am certainly not telling tales out of school. As members are well aware, the federal ministry of finance is not a hotbed of New Democrats. However, the federal ministries of finance have consistently, over the last decades, acknowledged that NDP governments have been the best in terms of balancing budgets and providing services for people. That is the same approach that we will take, one day, to provide the type of stewardship that we believe is fundamental to renewing our country, providing the supports, and building a society where everyone matters.
Let us look at where the current government stands, in terms of that flow of money. Prior to the budget, we put forward, and it should have been reflected in the estimates process, a variety of smart ideas that other countries have already incorporated as we go through this pandemic. We believe that we should be putting into place, as other countries have done, a wealth tax. We should be saying to the billionaires and the ultrarich of this country that they have to pay their fair share. They benefited from this pandemic and their wealth has increased, and now they have to give some of that back, to make sure that we all have the wherewithal to move forward.
We also proposed a pandemic profits tax, because we have seen in previous crises, like the Second World War, that putting that type of practice into place ensures that companies maintain the same profit levels but are not profiting unduly from the suffering that so many people have experienced through COVID-19.
We have also been foremost with regard to cracking down on overseas tax havens. As members know, I have spoken out about this. The member for Burnaby South, our national leader, the member for Hamilton Centre and the rest of the NDP caucus have been vociferous in this regard because these lose an astounding amount of taxpayers' money every year. They are the result of both Conservative actions and Liberal actions.
The Parliamentary Budget Officer pointed out two years ago that Canadians lose $25 billion every year to overseas tax havens. That $25 billion could meet an enormous amount of need. It could serve in job creation or the transition to a clean energy economy. All of those things could be accomplished, but what we see is an intricate network of tax havens that has built up over the years because of both Conservative and Liberal government decisions. The cost to Canadians is profoundly strong when we think of $25 billion a year in taxpayers' money being lost to overseas tax havens.
When we couple that $25 billion with a pandemic profits tax, which the Parliamentary Budget Officer evaluated at $8 billion, and a wealth tax, which would bring in $10 billion a year, we start to see what financial underpinnings could be put into place to actually meet the needs of Canadians across the country. We often see that there is a flow of money to the ultrarich: the wealthiest banks and billionaires in this country. At the same time, we often see that those who have the most critical needs do not even get a trickle of that financial flow.
At the beginning of this crisis, where did the government decide to flow its money? We know this now. This is no secret. In fact, the Liberal government seems to be proud of this fact. Within four days of the pandemic hitting in Canada, an astounding, unbelievable, record amount of $750 billion was made available in liquidity supports to Canada's big banks through a variety of mechanisms and federal institutions: OSFI, the CMHC and the Bank of Canada. That is $750 billion. It is unparalleled in our history and unprecedented.
If we go back to the Harper government, there were criticisms at that time because during the global financial crisis $116 billion in liquidity support was provided to the banking sector. Of course the banking sector prospered enormously from it, but $750 billion is so difficult to get our minds around. It is a vast amount of money. It is a colossal flow of an unprecedented amount of cash in liquidity supports to the banking sector.
The banks have responded accordingly. There were no conditions attached. They jacked up their service fees, as so many Canadians know. They did not reduce their interest rates to zero, as we saw in the credit union movement. Credit unions, such as Community Savings Credit Union in Vancouver, reduced their line of credit interest to zero and their credit card rates to zero because they knew Canadians were suffering. Canadians had to struggle to put food on the table, and the credit union sector in many respects responded to that, but the banking sector did not. It just kept seeing that money roll in. During the pandemic, its profits have been $60 billion so far. It is unbelievable.
I pointed out earlier that there is no pandemic profits tax and there is no wealth tax. Canada's billionaires have increased their wealth during this pandemic by an astounding $80 billion, yet there are no measures for any sort of fairness or to make sure the ultrarich pay their fair share. We can follow the money and see, with the Liberal government, that as we went through an unprecedented crisis its first and foremost thought was for the banks and billionaires of this country. This is unique in the responses of governments through crises in the past.
During the Second World War when we needed to win the battle against Nazism and fascism, the federal government put into place an excess profits tax and wealth taxes to ensure that we had the wherewithal to win the war effort. After the Second World War, we were able to build an unprecedented amount of public housing, hospitals and educational institutions across the country and to build the transportation sector. The country boomed in so many respects because the investments were there starting with a fair tax system, but not this time. There is no wealth tax, no pandemic profits tax and no cracking down on overseas tax havens.
What did the NDP do? We hear rumours that the Prime Minister desperately wants to call an election, and we will all be asked what we did during the pandemic.
Under the leadership of the member for Burnaby South, the NDP went to work immediately. We saw the huge amounts of money that were made available to the banking sector right off the bat, and we started pushing for an emergency response benefit that could lift people above the poverty line. We forced and pushed because we had seen from the best examples of other countries that we needed to put in a place a 75% wage subsidy. We pushed hard, as members know, to make that a reality.
The track record is very clear. We pushed in the House of Commons for supports for students, seniors and people with disabilities, with the big caveat that the Liberal government never put in place wholesale supports for all people with disabilities. It has now asked them to wait three years before there is any hope of support. People with disabilities will have to wait three years while banks had to wait four days in the midst of a pandemic. That is the national tragedy we see with the flow of money going to the ultrarich, the wealthiest, to make sure that banks and billionaires benefit first.
New Democrats fought those fights and won many of them over the course of the past year. I know that has made a difference. We still see suffering. We still see people lining up at food banks in unprecedented numbers. Tragically we still see people with disabilities who are barely getting by. Tragically we still see people closing, for the last time, the doors of businesses that they may have devoted their lives to building up. These are community businesses that served the public and created jobs in communities across this country, but in so many cases those small businesses have had to close their doors. Nothing could be more tragic.
As we come out of such a profound crisis, we see many people being left behind; however, the government has put forward a budget that slashes the CERB benefits even more. The CRB was slashed from $500 a week to $300 a week, which is below the poverty level. We see the government responding to the economic crisis of seniors by saying that those over 75 get a top-up on their OAS to lift them up to the poverty line, but those under 75 are out of luck with the government.
That contrasts vividly with the government paying out money through the wage subsidy to profitable companies that then paid huge executive bonuses or often paid dividends to their investors. The government says that is okay, despite the NDP's warnings from the very beginning that it had to put measures into place. It is not a problem: It will recover money elsewhere, but then it slashes the CERB benefits for people who need them the most.
What does this mean, in terms of an estimates process, and how would the NDP approach the issue of making sure we meet the needs of Canadians and respond to the crisis that so many people are living through in this country? As I have already mentioned, New Democrats would tackle it from the revenue side. We would make sure that the ultrarich pay their fair share. We would crack down on overseas tax havens. The government never introduced a single piece of legislation that adequately responded to the crisis in financing we see with the hemorrhaging of $25 billion a year to overseas tax havens.
The CRA was before the finance committee last week. The year before, I asked who had been prosecuted in the Panama papers, the Bahama papers, the Paradise papers and the Isle of Man scam. A year ago, CRA was forced to say it had never prosecuted anybody. This year I asked the same question, and the result was exactly the same. No company and no individual has ever been prosecuted. We have thousands of names of people who have been using these particular strategies to not pay taxes, yet the CRA has never had the tools in place to take them on.
New Democrats would make sure that everyone pays their fair share, that the ultrarich actually pay their fair share, that billionaires do not get off scot free and that the companies that try to take their earnings overseas have to pay income tax and corporate tax. We would make sure of that.
What would we do in the estimates? What would an NDP estimates process look like? We have already seen signs of that over the past year. We have been tabling legislation, bringing forward bills and making sure that we actually put into place the programs Canadians need.
Members will recall I tabled Bill C-213, the Canada pharmacare act, ably supported by my colleagues for Vancouver Kingsway and Vancouver East. We brought that to a vote with the support of 100,000 Canadians who had written to their members of Parliament. Liberals and Conservatives voted that down, even though we know pharmacare is something that will make a huge difference in the quality of life for Canadians. It is estimated that 10 million Canadians cannot pay for their medication. Hundreds die every year because they cannot afford their medication. For thousands of others, families are forced to choose between putting food on the table and paying for their medication. We can end that suffering. At the same time the Parliamentary Budget Officer, that independent officer of Parliament who can tell us with such accuracy what the net impacts of policies are, has told us we would save about $4 billion overall as a people. We would be able to reduce the costs of medications, so the estimates process would include universal public pharmacare in this country.
As we saw with the member for St. John's East just last night, we would be bringing in dental care for all those who do not have access to dental care. Why is that important? We heard yesterday about a person in Sioux Lookout, Ontario, who passed away because they did not have the financial ability to pay for the dental work that was vitally important for them to be able to eat. These are tragedies that are repeated so often in this country.
What else would we see in the estimates? The guaranteed livable basic income was brought to the House of Commons by the member for Winnipeg Centre. We have seen how so many members of our caucus have fought for the rights of indigenous peoples. It should be a source of shame for the government that dozens of indigenous communities still do not have safe drinking water, six years after the Prime Minister's promise. As the member for Burnaby South said in response to a question from a journalist, how would we ever accept the cities of Toronto, Vancouver or Montreal not having safe drinking water? It is simply astounding, yet we have no wealth tax or pandemic profit tax in place. We have no set of priorities that allows us to ensure that all communities in this country have safe drinking water.
We saw the incredible tragedy of the genocide in residential schools. There are first nations communities that do not have the funding to find their missing, murdered, dead and disappeared children. This has to be a national priority as part of reconciliation. It cannot simply be pretty words. We have to act, and that means ensuring that when we say “follow the money”, it is no longer the very wealthy or ultrarich who receive the vast majority of federal funds, but the people across this country, indigenous peoples, who get the supports that they need and the quality of life they deserve.
There is the issue of the right to housing. Again, it would be part of our estimates to ensure that all Canadians have roofs over their heads at night. This is not rocket science. It takes investment. Other countries have had the right to housing instilled. In a country with a climate as cold as Canada's, housing should be a fundamental right of every Canadian.
We would provide supports to peoples with disabilities, students and seniors. People have been struggling through this pandemic, yet students are still paying their student loans, seniors are being denied the increased OAS if they are under age 75 and people with disabilities are being asked to wait three years. The Prime Minister wants to pump $20 billion into the TMX pipeline instead of investing in clean energy that would result in hundreds of thousands of new jobs.
The estimates process with an NDP government would be different and better. We will continue to fight for a country where no one is left behind.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2021-06-17 21:27 [p.8730]
Madam Speaker, I am speaking from the traditional territory of the Kwanlin Dun First Nation and the Ta'an Kwach'an Council.
I want to talk about the background to the estimates and the budget, and the fall economic statement that provides the background that the budget is supporting, that the estimates will be supporting. I will talk about transportation and a number of other items.
The biggest emphasis in the budget is to finish the fight against COVID, and there is a large contribution to the provinces and territories for that. It is still not over and that is very essential. There is support for individuals and businesses to get through this economic fallout. We are on the road of recovery, but as a number of interventions have shown, in the tourism industry, for instance, there is still a lot of time before everyone is fully recovered, so we need to keep those supports going.
The third big objective is for the economy to come roaring back in a way that includes everyone, with special supports, for instance, for women and for indigenous businesses. We want the economy to come back with a green economy, which has so much potential for jobs. We want an economy that will come back in a competitive way, where we can compete internationally, that creates a lot of new jobs, particularly for youth.
People who have experienced not having a job at some point in their lives, and they have to support a family, feel a big pit in their stomachs. There are very few things that can be so scary, upsetting and devastating. Although it was a very large investment, as many people have said, a huge investment, it was very essential to keep people working through these difficult times. That was obviously a big objective and the parties co-operated in a very good way to achieve it.
Based on the questions of some members, they may not have been aware that there were 861,000 CEBA loans for over $46 billion. There were 5.3 million jobs saved with the wage subsidy of $73 billion. Our first rent assistance program saw 140,000 applications approved and 1.25 million employees were assisted with $2 billion. The second rent assistance was worth $2.5 billion and helped over 150,000 applicants.
Even with all these programs, there may have been people who fell through the cracks. As everyone knows, these programs had to be created very quickly if we were going to help people from going under. There may have been cracks that were not filled, so the regional relief and recovery fund was put into the regional development agencies across Canada, with the tremendous leadership of the Minister of Economic Development. A few fell through the cracks, but that fund helped over 23,000 applicants across the country, with $1.4 billion.
Tourism is important to me, and out of those amounts of money, tourism alone had over 4,400 approvals for $392 million.
A lot of these supports were so critical to keep jobs during these unprecedented times not seen since the war. The fall economic statement added to that. For tourism, there is the HASCAP program. The RRRF I just mentioned was so needed and efficient that we had to increase money for it. Then there was the regional air transport fund, which is so important in rural Canada.
One of the most exciting things was the announcement of the new regional economic development agency for British Columbia. British Columbia is a unique area and there will be all kinds of special supports, recognizing that uniqueness, with this new agency.
Of course, that leaves the prairie regional development agency on its own with all those previous funds, which it can now enhance even more its work, over and above all the projects that went there through the RRRF already. This will be great for the Prairies, and they can lead the way for us in resource projects. Their human resources are very bright, great research done is done in the prairie areas, and all kinds of businesses can lead with exports and help the recovery in Canada.
I want to talk about some of the things that are really essential for the north. First, I am most excited about the increase in the northern residents deduction for the Territories and the northern parts of the provinces. A lot of people were not eligible for this deduction. People could only claim it if their employer put it on their T4 slip, gave them a travel allowance and then they could collect this northern residents travel reduction. However, this budget has allowed for everyone to have access that deduction. They do not need their employer to include it on their T4 slips. That will be so exciting for the economies of the north, and for the people of the north as a personal support.
Our biggest employer and hardest hit one is tourism. There is a record amount of additional funds specific to tourism in the budget, $1 billion, of which $200 million is for local festivals, cultural events, heritage celebrations, local museums and amateur sports events. In my riding, we have all those things in great numbers and, of course, they greatly contribute to employment and to our economy.
There are another $200 million for the major events in those areas, such as festivals, cultural events, heritage, local museums and amateur sports events. That does not affect my riding so much, but in the big cities of the country, that will be critical for those activities to carry on, to provide employment and to keep jobs. For decades, I think parliamentarians have underestimated the cultural sector and its importance to the creation of jobs and to moving forward our cultural ideas and thought processes.
There are also $100 million for Destination Canada. Canada has not put as much into marketing our great nation as some other countries of the world. It is something I have always advocated for, and I am so excited to see that funding for Destination Canada, again to help our tourism industry.
Then we have the $500 million tourism relief fund, once again, recognizing the tourism industry and how hard it has been hit. Our borders are open to all the other businesses. Trucks can come across. The one thing the border is not open to during the pandemic is tourism. On top of all that for tourism, is a $700 million for small business financing fund. It will not all go to tourism businesses, but again, it provides more support for small businesses to particularly help them in the green area, to be inclusive, to be competitive and to create more jobs.
In the north, our two biggest sectors are mining and tourism. In my riding, the mining sector's first request was support for hydroelectric power. We are running out of power in the north. Therefore, the budget includes $40.4 million to study and prepare potential hydroelectric projects across the north.
The Yukon government is one of the most progressive in the country with its climate change plan and reducing greenhouse gas plan, and it wanted some assistance, so the budget has included $25 million for it.
As a Conservative member mentioned earlier this evening, and I believe it was the member for Niagara Falls, tourism will not be back right away. It will take some time, yet our rent subsidy and our wage subsidy are running out this month. Therefore, unless we get the budget implementation act passed, there is going to be a lot of difficulty in the tourism sector, both for businesses and for NGOs that need the wage subsidy and the rent subsidy, which this budget implementation act, Bill C-30, would extend into the fall.
Another item that is very important for us and that probably has not been mentioned much is the centre of excellence for critical minerals. Critical minerals are needed a lot for batteries, for one thing, so they are absolutely essential, first for the mining industry and to have a clean environment to deal with the climate change crisis. As members know, one country in particular is trying to corner the market on critical metals, and we have an agreement with the United States. It is very important for us, for various reasons, so I am very excited to see that in the budget.
In past budgets, there has not been so much for communities, but communities were hit hard by this. Their various types of support were also reduced during the pandemic. I was delighted to see a Canada community revitalization fund, something brand new. There is $500 million there so the small communities across the country can have projects that are very important to them.
There are a number of supports for seniors. During our term, we increased the GIS for the lowest-income seniors, and there are several other supports for seniors during COVID. There is a huge increase to the new horizons for seniors program, and there is an addition in the budget of 10% for seniors over 75 to add to all that, for the most needy seniors.
Then there is a very large Canada digital adoption program. As members know, we are in the 21st century, the digital economy. It is a lot of learning for me, but if we are going to keep up with the rest of the world, our businesses have to keep up, so it is great to have that fund to help businesses transform over. There are a lot of jobs for young people in there as mentors to help the businesses transfer into the digital economy.
There is also the Canada recovery hiring program. As I mentioned, one of the big objectives is to hire more people, to get people back to work. If businesses had to lay people off, reduce their hours or reduce their wages, all those things can be supplemented from June 6 to November 20 through the Canada recovery hiring program. The very flexible idea is that for each month or each eligibility period for this program and for the wage subsidy, they can pick whichever one is best for their company.
I do not have time to talk about it now, but there are a number of improvements to small-business financing. Certainly there are significant investments in first nations. People will remember back to the biggest investment in history of $5 billion, proposed by Paul Martin for the Kelowna Accord. Well, this budget has $18 billion for first nations and $4.3 billion for infrastructure, for instance.
In my career, very seldom have I seen money for social financing, for NGOs and charities, but in this budget there is $200 million for a social financing fund. To get companies ready, there is an investment of $50 million in the investment readiness fund, because the first one was so successful it was all used up. There is a very unique concept being floated of social financing bonds for those who want to invest to help the country in a socially responsible way.
As I mentioned, communities need support, and there is a community services recovery fund to help various community services and NGOs adapt and modernize, after they have been hit so hard by COVID and so many of their resources have been decimated by COVID.
There is money for domestic vaccine production, which I think everyone appreciates. There is a huge increase, another increase, in the broadband fund, and that is very important for my riding, as well as cellphone coverage. There are 100,000 people being lifted out of poverty with the increase in the Canada workers benefit. There are huge funds for training, as I said, to get people employed again, 500,000 people, of which 215,000 are youth.
I will mention something that probably no one else will mention, the polar continental shelf funding of $24 million. That is to help Arctic research.
There is also $140 million for food security.
The Liard First Nation has a great housing manufacturing project that I am supporting. On self-governing first nations housing, they have great ideas. I would also like to see support for getting off-grid, remote mines off diesel, and increases for the equipment and O&M for indigenous broadcasters, who do such wonderful work in my riding.
I really appreciate the large investments in salmon, to enhance salmon on the west coast. They come right up into my riding. Salmon are very important for indigenous culture and ceremonies, for one thing, as well as for food.
There is also the doubling of the student grant for two more years and extending the waiver of interest to 2023.
I want to talk about aviation in the north for a bit. We really appreciate the northern air support that started almost from the beginning of the pandemic. It is important to know that we need interlining with the mainline carriers. We cannot let the mainline carriers put our small, local carriers out of business. We really need the mainline carriers to interline, to have co-operative arrangements where everyone wins. Neither airline has to go half-empty. The big carriers could get new customers for their overseas routes, while the local carriers that service the north could get the flights down to Edmonton, Vancouver, the big cities that are so needed for their competitiveness.
I could talk about a lot of other things, but I do not have time now. The Conservatives brought up that what is really important for them is a plan. We have huge plans. The fall economic statement was a 168-page plan. It had all sorts of things to return the economy. Then the budget is a 740-page plan.
I will just mention some of the items in that plan to get companies back to work, over and above all the ones I have already mentioned. There is money for food security, indigenous and women entrepreneurs, an A1 strategy, artificial intelligence strategy, the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research—again, we are in the 21st century—a quantum strategy, the Canadian Photonics Fabrication Centre, business-led R and D through the colleges, Mitacs for 85,000 placements, CanCode, the net-zero accelerator to help the resource industry, the clean-growth hub, support for Measurement Canada, strategic innovation funds, IRAP expansion, which has been so important for innovation in Canada for decades, Elevated IP, the strategic intellectual property program review, the innovation superclusters, the data in the digital world, and support for the Standards Council of Canada and the Competition Bureau.
I encourage everyone to support all these items that I have mentioned, and the ones in the estimates, so that we could get Canadians back to work and businesses could keep our economy going. We would not need to continue government supports for either individuals or businesses once we get everyone back. We need to continue support for Canada and around the world. When COVID exists anywhere in the world, it is still a threat to us.
I will leave it at that. I hope we get support from all parties, which have been very co-operative and helpful during the pandemic.
View Charlie Angus Profile
View Charlie Angus Profile
2021-06-16 14:46 [p.8527]
Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has defied Parliament and went back to court this week to try to quash the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruling. His argument is that his government is the party that was been wronged, not the thousands of indigenous children whose lives were destroyed in that system from “wilful and reckless” discrimination.
It is also false to claim that these are historic wrongs. This is happening today. We are losing an indigenous child every three days, and yet the Prime Minister would rather fight children in court.
When he is going to stop his toxic legal war against first nations children?
View Marc Miller Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, it is important for all Canadians and, indeed, this entire House to know that there is not a single indigenous child who has been asked to testify as part of this process and as part of the class actions, and it is our aim to keep it so. Any first nations child who has been discriminated by the broken child welfare system will get fair, just and equitable compensation. We will move forward on that as precipitously as possible as well as effect systemic transformation so this does not occur again.
View Kevin Waugh Profile
Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate you and your family on your 15 years of public service. You have been a leader in our caucus for many decades. Last night, I caught your retirement speech, whenever that retirement comes. You reflected very well on your years of service. You have done our country very proud and I want to wish you all the best when you do leave that chair and you leave this place. On behalf of me and my family, thank you very much for your years of service.
Now to the topic of the budget implementation act, 2021. It was one of the most important budgets in recent memory. Canadians were waiting for it. Why do I say that? We waited over two years for the budget. The pandemic started last March and the Liberals continued to delay the budget and the numbers went higher and higher. Then we found out we are $600 billion, or so, down over a trillion, in debt in this country. It was interesting when the numbers started popping out and Canadians from coast to coast to coast were surprised at the big numbers.
As we see a little inflation here in the last while, they are really going to be surprised at the results. We all know workers faced a year and a half of uncertainty about their employment, about their wages. In fact, now the question is when will they be able to return to work and will a job be there for them in the coming weeks.
Business owners continue to face uncertainty whether they have a small, medium or large company. Tonight while I was listening to the speeches, I received a text from Allan who owns SaskWest Mechanical in Saskatoon. He told me the costs are skyrocketing in his business. Sheet metals are going sky-high. He said that last August they were $24 a sheet. Today, suppliers are charging him $49.21 and they will not even hold pricing for more than 24 hours. Think of the uncertainty even quoting a job for the employees that he has. I cannot imagine quoting a job. It was nice to hear from Allan today. He has been in my office a couple of times. There is uncertainty with his business. He employs a lot of people. Heating is his business. He does a lot of commercial jobs and he faces the rise in costs as he quotes for jobs.
Prices are going up, for food, meat, lumber, almost everything that we have talked about. I hope I do not jinx it, but I think we are seeing the end of the light. I look at my province of Saskatchewan and I am going to give some kudos here tonight. Saskatchewan wants to be fully open by July 11. I have had my second dose of vaccine, so I am happy. I had the first one in April and my second one last week, so we are pretty good. I arrived in Ottawa on Sunday, and here in Ontario it is night and day. Shops are still closed. People can only go to restaurant patios. In my province of Saskatchewan we are almost wide open right now. I credit that to the Saskatchewan Health Authority and Premier Scott Moe.
The goal is to have everyone age 12 and over completely vaccinated. Right now the goal is to get to 70% of people having at least one vaccine. Today, we are at 67% in Saskatchewan. We are only 3% below that goal. In fact, Saskatchewan officials said today we only need 28,000 more people to get their first shot and then we are going to open things up. Is that not a great story in the province of Saskatchewan.
However, for the last 14 months, the province could not get the vaccines it needed, especially up in northern Saskatchewan where vulnerable situations exist. The first thing the Province of Saskatchewan tried to do was work with the indigenous communities. In fact, I am so proud of Saskatoon Tribal Council Chief Mark Arcand who took it upon himself to have vaccines made available at the SaskTel Centre for indigenous people and everybody else in the Saskatoon area. It has been a wonderful outreach by the Tribal Chief of Saskatoon. People in the community have been able to get their vaccine.
Today, for football fans, it was announced that Saskatchewan's premier wanted to see 33,350 people at the Mosaic Stadium for the home opener on August 6 against the B.C. Lions. That is now a goal in the province of Saskatchewan. However, the last 14 months have been devastating in Saskatchewan and across the country. We are all asking ourselves, “When are we going to reopen? How are we going to manage the debt. How much debt will there be?”
I talked about inflation, which is at its highest point in over a decade. We are up 3.6% this year alone. The declining state of the Canadian economy is a major concern. The member from Niagara talked about a baby born in Canada today is already $28,000 in debt. My daughter will deliver our second grandchild next Thursday in Saskatoon. We should be celebrating. I will now have two grandchildren. One is five and a half years old and the other will be born next Thursday, but with a $28,000 debt. That is what we have done to our kids. When the baby comes next Thursday, June 24, we will celebrate, but I also have to tell my daughter and son-in-law that is $28,000 in debt. How are they going to pay for that?
Canadians are resilient. They have faced uncertainty about the stability of our health care system. Thankfully, it has held up so far. We have had hiccups all over the country, but I think everyone would agree that we are coming out it now, some faster than others. We are a little concerned about Ontario and Manitoba, but they are coming out of it as we speak.
Therefore, we need a plan to secure the future of our country, to secure the future of my daughter's child who will be born next Thursday. We also need a plan that secures good jobs for Canadians; that secures accountability in governments, and we have talked a lot about that tonight; that will secure mental health for Canadians and supports for those who are really struggling.
Over the last 14 months, we have seen a decline in mental health. We all know someone who is struggling; some openly and others sit at home and say nothing. We see it in the House of Commons. Many of our staff have not been in the office. How are they doing at home? They get their work done, but when we come back to Ottawa and have a chance to see them, that is when we will know if things have changed in the last 14 months.
We need to secure our country against the next pandemic. We must get prepared for that. We need to secure our economy in the long term. The government is woefully unprepared to implement such a plan, and budget 2021 missed the mark in providing one.
The Parliamentary Budget Officer even noted that the significant amount of Liberal spending would not stimulate jobs, and we saw massive job losses in the last two months alone. In April, 129,000 jobs were lost. We had another decline in May. That cannot happen any more, because mom and dad coming home without a job does not sit well in the family.
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