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Results: 1 - 15 of 28
View Fayçal El-Khoury Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Fayçal El-Khoury Profile
2019-04-30 12:04 [p.27160]
Mr. Speaker, for the fourth time in as many years, I am delighted to be commenting on the budget tabled by my colleague, the hon. member for Toronto Centre, the Minister of Finance of Canada.
Four years ago, he presented Canadians with a plan to kick-start our economy. As everyone knows, government budget planning is a process that starts with a clear vision of who we want to be as a country, a vision of the future based on precise economic forecasts. The hon. Minister of Finance has done a terrific job over the last few years.
The financial results for the last fiscal year show how well our economy is doing. These results are due to the robust labour market, increased tax revenues and higher corporate profits. They are the direct outcome of the budget initiatives and investments that our government has carried out since taking office.
Thanks to our previous budgets and careful, responsible fiscal management, Canada now has the most vigorous economy in the G7. Better still, our previous budgets lifted 300,000 Canadian children out of poverty, reduced the unemployment rate to a 40-year low, created 900,000 new jobs, and are enhancing the employability of women, indigenous people and newcomers, as noted in the prestigious English magazine, The Economist.
In addition to maintaining the downward trajectory of Canada's debt-to-GDP ratio, the latest budget takes Canadians' concerns into account and addresses each and every one of them. As the next phase in the government's strategic plan, it includes new investments that will maintain our economic growth, support workers, create new jobs, help workers adapt to new technology, better prepare young people and graduates for good jobs, support seniors who want to remain in the workforce, and improve seniors' income security.
There are two main measures in the budget that support first-time home buyers. The first concerns the registered retirement savings plan, or RRSP, and the home buyers' plan, more commonly known as the HBP. The budget increases the RRSP withdrawal limit to $35,000 from $25,000 to buy a first home.
The second measure is new and very attractive for members of the middle class with maximum household income of $120,000. It gives them the opportunity to finance a portion of their home with a mortage from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, or CMHC. This measure will let new buyers lower their monthly payments with a lower mortgage and make their dream of owning a home come true.
I am convinced and pleased that many Canadian families and many residents of Laval—Les Îles will benefit from these new measures.
There are other measures in the budget that will have a positive impact on our economy and the environment.
For instance, Infrastructure Canada has allocated $3.9 billion to Quebec for over 5,100 projects, including several major projects that will benefit my constituents in Laval.
Indeed, our government has already invested $23.7 million in 26 projects undertaken by the Société de transport de Laval, or STL, as part of the public transit infrastructure fund. With those investments, STL can purchase and replace buses and continue its studies on the electrification of its network. These investments are having a direct impact on the residents of Laval—Les Îles, as they are improving their daily commutes.
People who take the subway at Montmorency, De la Concorde and Cartier stations in Laval will also see some changes, since our government has invested over $215 million for the purchase of 153 new subway cars. This investment will give residents of Laval—Les Îles who go into Montreal for business or pleasure a more reliable, more efficient transit system so they can avoid gridlock.
The Réseau Express Métropolitain, or REM, light rail will terminate in Sainte-Dorothée, in Laval, in 2021, two years from now. The REM will significantly improve public transit in the greater Montreal area. The Canada Infrastructure Bank is providing $1.28 billion to support this ambitious project.
This new budget gives Canada an array of significant, encouraging projects that respect the environment and give Canadians confidence. With an eye on climate change, our government also developed a brand new measure for those who cannot use public transit and want to decrease their greenhouse gas emissions. Our 2019 budget includes a federal incentive of up to $5,000 for the purchase of an electric vehicle. Thanks to our government's investments and the City of Laval's network of charging stations for electric vehicles, the transition from gas vehicles to electric vehicles will be much easier. With this type of initiative our government continues to encourage the transition to a much greener society.
Once again, our government is fulfilling its mandate. It is carrying out the mandate given by Canadians in 2015 when they chose a government with a vision for the future and, above all, a vision that benefits everyone.
We are also improving access to mentorship, and resources for apprenticeships and the start-up of new innovative businesses. We are advocating tolerance and inclusion to make Canada, our beautiful country, a model for all countries.
Under the leadership of the right hon. Prime Minister, our government's vision is hopeful and forward looking. It is embodied in budget measures such as those in the 2019 budget. These measures are reassuring to me and to a great number of Canadians.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for giving me the floor. I want to say that I am extremely proud to be working on behalf of the people of Laval—Les Îles and to be part of a government that considers all Canadian citizens.
View Sean Fraser Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Sean Fraser Profile
2019-02-04 15:33 [p.25212]
Mr. Speaker, the Canada I think most of us envision is one that is prosperous, socially just and environmentally healthy. The motion on the floor of the House today, in a sometimes roundabout way, touches on a number of these themes. However, there is an additional theme it touches on as well, perhaps unwittingly, which is the importance of truth in our political discourse.
Given the economic focus of so many parts of the motion, it is important we examine its contents in the economic context we find ourselves today. It is important we start by acknowledging that over these past few years, things have actually been going very well for the Canadian economy. We know that since 2015, the Canadian economy has added over 800,000 jobs, primarily private sector full-time jobs. We also know that unemployment is at a historic low, the lowest in over 40 years, since we began tracking that data.
However, it is not enough to simply acknowledge the economy might be doing well. We have to ensure we take steps that make the economy work for everyone. In particular, we need to make sure the economy is working in a way that makes life more affordable for Canadian families struggling to make ends meet. This has been a focus of our government from the very beginning.
In particular, we can point to the fact that we know Canadian families today are, on average, about $2,000 better off than they were at the time of the last federal election. There are a number of reasons this is the case. First and foremost, we have introduced certain social policies that put more money in the pockets of ordinary Canadian families. If we look at the Canada child benefit, this is a program putting more money in the pockets of nine out of 10 Canadian families. To date, it has lifted over 300,000 Canadian children out of poverty. In the area I represent, it helps about 11,000 kids every month. The average benefit for families who qualify for this program is about $6,800. That is $48 million a year coming to the communities in my constituency and making life more affordable for Canadians.
While it is all well and good to be pointing out these statistics, which are meaningful, it is extremely important we remember there are human beings behind every one of these statistics. I remember a conversation with a single mom I bumped into in the town of Stellarton, who told me that she was able to afford a new outfit for her kids for the first day of school for the first time after she started receiving the Canada child benefit. She said that every year in September it was an embarrassing time of year for her because she never felt she could afford to put clothes on her kids' backs. These are the stories that will stick with me, as a representative, for the rest of my life.
I have talked to other families who have said that they have been able to enrol their kids in swimming lessons. I have spoken to other families who have said that they are trying hard to put healthier food on the table. These are positive social outcomes. It does not matter which party one represents, we can acknowledge that when families like this are better off then they are well served by government policies.
We can look at policies like the Canada workers benefit, which can put up to $500 more in the pockets of people who are working hard but unable to get ahead. We can look at policies like the tax cut on the middle class, which raised taxes on the wealthiest 1% of Canadian income earners and made life a little more affordable for the rest of us.
On a number of occasions, the motion before the House today suggests that life has somehow become less affordable under this government. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is not just these measures I can point to that demonstrate that life is actually becoming less expensive for Canadian families. If we look at the point in the motion that refers to the Canada pension plan, seniors are better off today than they were three years ago, and that is for a number of reasons.
We have rolled back the age of eligibility for old age security from age 67, under the previous government, to age 65. We have boosted the guaranteed income supplement, which helps low-income single seniors, some of the most vulnerable members of our communities, who can now receive up to $947 extra dollars a year as a result of this policy change. When it comes to the Canada pension plan, it is helping the generation currently working today have a more secure and dignified retirement when they finish their careers.
When it comes to students, which I know are referenced in the motion as well, we have made certain changes to previously existing boutique tax credits, but we have reprofiled benefits for students so that low-income students can afford to go to school. We have done this by increasing the Canada student grants program by 50%.
We have also made it more affordable on the back end of students' education so they do would not have to start repaying Canada student loans until they were earning at least $25,000. Coming from the province of Nova Scotia where so many young people get educated and have to move away, knowing they will have this relief on the back end of their education from one of our many universities or colleges will encourage more people to stay in the communities where they came from or where they gained an education.
The thing that is perhaps most disappointing is that each of the measures I just listed, that make life more affordable for Canadians could not earn the support of the Conservative Party of Canada. On the one hand, the Conservatives criticize us for making life more expensive. However, at each and every turn, when we put forward policies that are designed to improve the quality of life and affordability of life for Canadian families, they vote against those measures.
I note that the Conservatives have suggested in the motion as well that somehow small businesses are worse off as a result of the policies our government has introduced. This is completely false. I note in particular that as January 1, the small business tax rate has come from 11% to 9%. Put simply, nine is a smaller number than 11, and small businesses are saving money as a result of this policy change. A small business that is able to take full advantage of the small business tax cut can save up to $7,500 in an ordinary year.
However, it is not just the lower tax rate from which small businesses are benefiting. We have new trade deals with the European Union, the United States and with countries around the Pacific Rim as well. These are creating opportunities for small businesses to export their products and to hire more people in Canadian communities.
If we look at the measures that were announced in the fall economic statement this year, we are investing in measures that help businesses create jobs rather than just allowing a single person who might own all the shares in a company to become wealthier.
We are allowing businesses to achieve tax incentives if they invest in things like new equipment or new buildings that are going to help increase their productivity. I note as well that we have boosted investment at regional development agencies in Atlantic Canada, such as ACOA, that will help diversify our regional economy and create jobs.
Again, when we had a motion on the floor last year to increase support for Atlantic Canadian business growth, every Conservative member of Parliament voted against that measure. I do not want to beat a dead horse here, but we have extra investments in innovation and in infrastructure that are leading to projects in my riding, like the highway twinning between Sutherlands River and Antigonish, the creation of a new institute of government and centre for innovation on campus at one of my alma maters, St. FX University, and a new Pictou Campus trades innovation centre for the skilled trades in our community. Investments in infrastructure are putting people to work for local small businesses.
I have a specific interest in one particular part of the motion, given my role as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Environment. Subsection (h) of today's motion suggests that the cost of our environmental policy could go as high as $5,000 in the future. These numbers are just being picked out of the air. The Conservatives' strategy when it comes to the environment seems to be to trick Canadians and not take action on climate change.
Realistically, I assume the vast majority of us in the House can agree that climate change is a serious problem. If we can agree that it is a serious problem, and not all of us do agree on that, we can turn the debate to what steps we should implement to solve that problem rather than throw our hands up in the air, saying that this is not good enough, that we are not going to contribute anything to the debate.
In my opinion, we have a responsibility and an obligation not only to take action, but to identify the most effective measures. Canadians, by and large, know how serious the threat of climate change is. It was outlined in significant detail in the recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to the United Nations. We are staring down the barrel of a serious problem and it is incumbent on all of us in the House to take action to do something about that problem.
Our plan, despite the singular focus of the opposition on our plan to put a price on pollution, contains many different elements that will help us achieve meaningful climate emissions reductions in order to prevent catastrophic damage to our communities.
What a lot of Canadians do not realize is that we are putting forward policies that are going to ensure that by 2030, 90% of our electricity will be generated by renewable resources. We are making the largest investment in public transit to encourage more commuters to take mass transit to work rather than their own vehicles so they can minimize their own carbon footprint. We are phasing out coal by 2030, which is more than 30 years in advance of the schedule under the previous government.
The great thing about investing in these different kinds of programs is that this leads not only to a solution to a problem we are dealing with, but to an extraordinary, once-in-a-generation economic opportunity.
When I look at our plan to make investments in energy efficiency, I see that jobs are already being created in the communities I represent. I have talked about them a few times in the House. However, I will bring up the example once more of the Trinity group of companies, based out of Pictou County, Nova Scotia.
It was started by a couple of guys who were good craftsmen. They were able to do home repairs. It was just two people in the beginning. However, when they started to benefit from government programs that invested in energy efficiency, they realized there was a market to not only bring down our country's emissions, but save ordinary Canadians money on their home heating bills each year. This was done by replacing old windows with more energy efficient ones, installing smart thermostats and taking other efficiency measures.
They are able to help bring down the cost of living for ordinary Canadians. They are able to take part in the global fight against climate change. Importantly, they are able to create jobs. There are dozens of employees working at home for this business now, making life more affordable and reducing our emissions at the same time.
However, this is not the only example that stands out. We can look at CarbonCure, which is in the member for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour's riding. It has discovered a way to strengthen concrete by sequestering carbon out of the atmosphere.
There are some incredible technological developments going on. By investing in the green economy, we are able to achieve economic growth by being on the front end of a very important economic wave.
Of course, the policies I have referred to are not the entirety of our plan to combat climate change. Yes, our plan does include putting a price on pollution. Now that I have more than the 35 seconds allowed every day in question period, I am happy to make an attempt to explain it so more people can understand what is actually going on.
When we acknowledged climate change was a problem and when we acknowledged that we had to do something about it, we went through a process. We asked experts who had been studying climate economics and science for their entire careers about the best and most effective path forward. We learned that the single best tool we had to reduce emissions was to put a price on pollution, while maintaining the affordability of life, which I know is a real concern for so many of the people I represent. People will change their behaviour and we will bring emissions down over time and the revenue collected from the price on pollution will be returned to families to ensure that at the end of each year, they are left better off. This plan puts more money in the pockets of Canadians and brings emissions down.
Members do not have to take my word for it. They can talk to last year's Nobel Prize winner in economics, Professor William Nordhaus. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for his discovery that the method I just described was the most effective way to bring climate emissions down. When asked where we could look for models to implement the system, he pointed to the system in British Columbia.
This is a bipartisan idea. Stephen Harper's former director of policy is advocating for our plan. Preston Manning, who I think everyone in the House would recognize as a household name, is advocating to put a price on pollution. Even members of Doug Ford's team in Ontario testified before Parliament just a few years ago that the single most effective tool we had for transition to a low-carbon economy was to put a price on pollution.
A number of notable people on both sides of the political spectrum in the United States recently signed a letter, including chairs of the Federal Reserve and chairs of the economic advisory council to the President, saying this was the best opportunity we had to achieve meaningful emissions reductions.
It is important we talk about facts that we can agree on, rather than lobbying numbers in the air to trick Canadians about how expensive this plan will be, so we can debate the merit of ideas. If members of the opposition have ideas about how we can reduce our emissions, I will listen to them. If they are more effective than our plan, I will approach that conversation in good faith.
However, the response we have seen to date regarding our plan to price pollution and make life more affordable has been to spread misinformation about the cost. This is not a helpful contribution to the debate. It is perhaps the most important public policy debate we will have in my lifetime.
Many of us here are parents. We want to ensure our kids have a healthy environment to grow up in and to experience, as we did.
We also want to ensure that we capitalize on the $23 trillion opportunity, according to the governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney. We have to take advantage of these opportunities. If we are not one of the first to market, we will miss the boat. It is the only way forward and it is the responsible way forward to meaningfully approach the threat posed by climate change.
However, I have good news. We are going to achieve social cost savings by making these kinds of investments. The cost of inaction is far greater than the cost of taking action. We are already paying the price if we look at municipal property taxes. I was speaking with a representative of the Insurance Bureau of Canada today. He indicated we were paying more today as a result of climate change and our failure to take action over the previous decades.
If we look at the big bond rating agencies, they are going to make it more expensive by downgrading the credit rating of municipalities that do not have a climate plan. They are going to make it more expensive to build, for example, flood mitigation infrastructure. They are going to make it harder to borrow money to deal with climate change on the back end if municipalities do not have an effective plan to combat climate change on the front end.
We recognize that we are already paying the costs. By 2030, I believe the estimate is that we are going to be paying about $5 billion to deal with the results of climate change, such as floods, wildfires and hurricanes.
It is important to make one final point during my remarks today. One of the themes that runs through each of the sub-points made in today's motion is the fact there are a lot of half truths and omissions that the Conservatives have used to try to drive home the point that life has somehow become less affordable. At the beginning of my remarks, I established that it was simply not true.
This assertion that 81% of middle-income Canadians are seeing higher taxes is false. The next point, that the average income tax increase for middle-income families is $840, is also false. There are allegations in here that we are trying to discount employee benefits and dental benefits. That is not happening. The Conservatives are suggesting that the price of our environmental plan is going to be $5,000 per family.
All pieces of information are false. The entire strategy of the Conservatives seems to be to throw information out there that is completely false in the hope that Canadians grab onto it and are scared to embrace a responsible plan that is creating jobs, reducing our pollution and helping ordinary families get by.
At a time in our global political discourse when we are seeing certain movements around the world rely on false information in the hope they can grab lightening and have some sort of populist movement is greatly disappointing.
As well, at certain times when the media calls out some of the falsehoods being peddled, there are attacks on it. We are operating in a post-truth era of politics and it is greatly disappointing.
While, in my opinion, the motion is inaccurate and somewhat ridiculous, it is disappointing to me that the strategy to earn the support of Canadians is to trick them into believing things like life being more expensive or plans being ineffective. If we are going to have a debate about ideas, it is essential that we rely on facts, not these half truths in order to deceive folks.
I want the people who are watching at home to pay attention to politics. We have the opportunity and a platform here to do serious good, to make life more affordable for Canadians, to improve our environmental protections and to grow our economy. If they watch closely, they will see that there are members, probably of all parties, who take liberties with the facts. However, there is something going on that we all need to be diligent toward, and that is ensuring the debates we have here are based on science, facts and evidence, not ideology and misinformation. Therefore, if they are watching and they see something they do not like, I encourage them to get engaged. If people are not going to take steps to move forward on the things they care about, nobody else is going to.
I am thankful for the opportunity to stand and debate the motion today. I care so strongly about making life more affordable for the folks I represent, for protecting our environment and ensuring we create economic growth opportunities so people in places like Pictou County, Antigonish and the eastern shore of Nova Scotia have an opportunity to make a living or to stay at home if they choose.
View Ruby Sahota Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Ruby Sahota Profile
2019-01-29 15:40 [p.24983]
Madam Speaker, it has been a very interesting debate today and, I think, a very productive one.
The numbers have been very clear. Our government was elected in 2015 on a plan to grow the economy, and what we have heard here today is that this is happening. The economy has been growing. Unemployment is at all-time record lows.
The opposition really wants to talk about the deficits and the debt and their fiscal picture. In the last 10 years, the Conservatives left us with a 7.1% unemployment rate. We have now brought it down to 5.6%. Does that sound like an economy that is not growing? All the businesses in my area have been having a hard time meeting the needs and demands and hiring more people because of the growth that they have been sharing.
I forgot to mention at the beginning of my speech that I will be sharing my time with the member for Winnipeg North, and we all know that the member for Winnipeg North will add much-needed facts and figures to this debate to shed more light on the debt issue.
Our debt-to-GDP ratio is continuing to decline. That is our plan, and it is a plan that has been working, as we have seen since 2015 through the investments we have been making. The member for Durham mentioned investments several times, and that has been our key focus. Every budget that we as a government have put out has been thinking about what investments we can make in our country, what investments we can make in Canadians, and that is exactly what Canadians in my area, Bramptonians, want to see.
They have been devastated by the cuts of the Doug Ford government. Every time I have a meeting in my constituency, I see an angry commuter because of the cuts to GO transit or an angry student from my youth council because of the cuts to OSAP. That is probably what we can expect from the Conservatives if they come to power, because that is what they like to talk about. They want to try to balance the budget at any cost on the backs of Canadians. They will do it by taking away from health care or by taking away from students.
What have we done as a government? As we have heard, the average Canadian has $2,000 more in their pocket because of the middle-class tax cut that we have provided and because of the Canada child benefit, which is tax-free. The former Conservative government taxed that benefit. We have made it tax-free.
That is not to mention 50% more in student grants and making sure that students do not have to repay their loans until they make at least $25,000. These are measures that help and benefit the average Canadian, the middle class and those who are working hard to join it. If we want to talk in particular of those who are working hard to join it, our Canada workers benefit will benefit those people who have a job and will incentivize them to keep working by giving them a little bit more so that they can make ends meet.
Those are the types of plans that we have put in place and those are the plans that have been benefiting this country from coast to coast to coast. That is why we are seeing record-breaking job numbers. We are seeing 800,000 jobs created by Canadians in this country. That does not happen without investments. We made the right investments at the right time, and Canadians have been taking that opportunity to grow their businesses.
Do members know what else helps Canadians grow their business? It is the tax cuts that we have provided to small businesses. We have provided many measures that have been helping to alleviate the burdens that have been placed on small businesses.
Along with the tax cuts are the services that have been provided by this government. Innovation Canada has provided an excellent tool to serve small business so that they can find grants. They can find money through various levels of government and through various different programs. We are making sure that we are listening to people, not just debating them every step of the way. We are listening to their needs.
What I am hearing from businesses is that they find it very hard to navigate government. That is why we put those types of measures in place, so that they can access the capital and the help that they need to continue to grow. I believe that is why we are seeing the success that we are seeing in our economy.
Canadians do not have to take my word for it. Our federal debt-to-GDP ratio is amongst the lowest in the G7 countries. That is what keeps our economy growing. The International Monetary Fund commended Canada last year for our AAA rating and for our debt-to-GDP ratio. We are looking good. We are in a good financial situation. Despite the Conservatives painting a fake gloom-and-doom picture, it is quite the contrary. We are seeing that in the actual numbers.
In Brampton North alone, the CCB has helped 14,470 families. Over 14,000 families. They are better off under our government. I know the Conservatives like to talk about their boutique tax cuts, but that is not the best way to help all Canadians. With these measures, making the Canada child benefit accessible to anybody and making it tax free, we are allowing families to be able to save for university, to pay for those sporting activities and to pay for tutoring and extracurriculars.
The city of Brampton also saw a major investment in transit by our government. Over $32 million was invested in transit projects, like replacing and fixing buses and having storage facilities for these buses. That has been a tremendous help to the city of Brampton. Our transit system, for those who do not know, is one of the fastest growing at 18%. On average, in the country, we see a 1% growth. It is remarkable. We have one of the youngest cities in the country, one of the fastest-growing cities in the country, and because of that we have a fast-growing transit system.
These investments are needed more than ever. My fear is that the plan the Conservatives have been tossing around would take away a lot of those measures that Bramptonians so desperately need. Bramptonians have seen major benefits through all of the trade agreements that have been signed by our government.
Through the hard work of the foreign affairs minister and her team, and the trade minister, we have now secured access to over 1.5 billion people through CETA, CPTPP and the USMCA. All of that gives us larger market shares, and that helps grow our economy and helps businesses to be able to export more efficiently. That is a plan that cares about Canadians and cares about growing the economy.
I have visited many businesses in my area, and I would like to talk about one. HRWARE is a local, family-owned business that sells innovative technology services and HR software across the globe.
It is agreements like these that have opened up markets for them, so that they can hire on more young students coming out of Sheridan College. Hopefully, one day, Brampton will be able to say that it has its very own university, but unfortunately, very recently we just heard from the Doug Ford government that this was a cut it was going to put in place. It cut a Brampton university from our city, a city that, as I just mentioned, has one of the youngest populations and has a great need. It is the ninth largest city in the country.
That is what worries me about the Conservatives. They try to hide their plan but we know what it really is. It is austerity. It is going to be cuts, just like Doug Ford. That is going to hurt Bramptonians. It is going to hurt Canadians. We will not see the type growth that is needed in this country when those cuts are made.
In conclusion, I would like to say this. We need to make sure that we continue investing, that we keep down this path and that we re-elect this government so we can see even more growth for years to come.
View Francesco Sorbara Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Francesco Sorbara Profile
2018-11-01 13:42 [p.23137]
Madam Speaker, it is a great pleasure to rise today to speak on Bill C-86, which implements into legislation a number of provisions that were laid out in budget 2018.
Today, I will be splitting my time with my hon. colleague and friend from Saint Boniface—Saint Vital.
When I speak to this bill, I would like to focus my thoughts on the hard-working middle-class families in my riding of Vaughan—Woodbridge, who, like Canadians from coast to coast to coast, know that our government is working for them to build a stronger economy and a healthier environment, not only for today but also for generations to come to ensure that our children, much like my children, will have a prosperous future and confidence knowing that our government made the right decisions for their future.
I also wish to salute the entrepreneurs in the city of Vaughan, who run over 12,000 small and medium enterprises. They know they have a strong advocate in me as their MP and in our government to ensure they have the tools to compete and succeed both domestically and globally.
Our government is committed to building a strong middle class and helping those working hard to join it. We know the results to date and are very proud of our record: a record low unemployment rate; over 500,000 or 600,000 new jobs created in the last three years, the majority of which are full time; and, amazingly, over 500,000 job vacancies in Canada. A majority of the jobs that have been created in this great country have been from the private sector, another thing we should be proud of.
There are many elements in Bill C-86 that I could speak to, everything from the pay equity act to the Canadian gender budgeting act to the wage earner protection program to the enactment of a department for women and gender equality act, which, as a father of two young daughters, I am very proud of. It would establish a department for women and gender equality to assist the minister in ensuring that we as a society and a government advance equality with respect to sex and sexual orientation. There are even amendments to the Bank Act to strengthen provisions that apply to a bank in relation to the protection of customers and the public. Canadians expect and deserve the strongest consumer protection standards when dealing with their financial institutions and we will deliver on that.
However, I wish to focus my time this afternoon primarily on one aspect of Bill C-86, which for me represents our government's commitment to building a more prosperous country and that would ensure that all Canadians benefit from economic growth and a more inclusive and fair society.
Division 21 of part 4 of Bill C-86 enacts the poverty reduction act, which sets out for the first time in our country's history targets for poverty reduction in Canada from coast to coast to coast. The poverty reduction targets our government has put forward are ambitious and realistic, and are lifting and will lift hundreds of thousands of Canadians out of poverty from coast to coast to coast. Our government aspires to achieve a poverty reduction target of 20% below the poverty level in 2015 by 2020, and 50% below by 2030. These targets are not just numbers, because behind them are the stories of hard-working Canadians from all walks of life and all parts of this great country. Canadians are ambitious and steadfast. They expect nothing less from their government. When we look at the measures behind the poverty reduction act we can not only be proud of the work we have done as a government but, more importantly, also of the work we have done as a country.
The pillars of our poverty reduction strategy are based on the following: dignity to lift Canadians out of poverty by ensuring that basic needs are met; opportunity and inclusion to help Canadians join the middle class by promoting full participation in society and equality of opportunity; and resilience and security to support the middle class by protecting Canadians from falling into poverty.
How do we achieve these targets? Let me list the measures that our government has put in place: the transformational Canada child benefit; a 10% increase in the guaranteed income supplement; the Canada workers benefit; and the profound national housing strategy, a $40 billion plan over 10 years, that will see housing needs reduced or eliminated for over half a million Canadians across this country. In my riding of Vaughan—Woodbridge, we will see more than 150 units of affordable housing built in 2019.
Moreover, investments in public transit under the PTIF 1 and now PTIF 2 will deliver sustained secure funding for public transit across Canada.
There is also the Canada workers benefit, which in budget 2018 provided a tax benefit that will put more money in the pockets of low-income Canadians. In fact, it is estimated that over 70,000 Canadians will be raised out of poverty, and over two million Canadians will receive assistance, from the CWB. Someone making $15,000 a year will receive $500 more from the CWB in 2019 than in 2018.
In Bill C-86, our government will enact changes that will ensure that an individual who is eligible to receive the Canada workers benefit can receive the benefit without having to claim it. Enrolment will be automatic. No Canadian will be left behind by our government, and the automatic enrolment mechanism that we have included in Bill C-86 is one further step to ensure this.
In achieving our poverty reduction targets, we also need to consider the transformational social program that we introduced, the Canada child benefit. We are delivering it to families who need it, not millionaires but hard-working, middle-class families across this country. In my riding alone, it equates to about $5 million a month, helping over 17,000 children and 9,000 families, with an average payment of over $500. That is real change that is working for Canadians from coast to coast to coast. That is real change that is benefiting middle-class families from coast to coast to coast.
We also indexed the CCB two years ahead of schedule, which will mean hundreds of extra dollars for families to help them pay for their kids' sports activities, to save for their education or buy clothes for the upcoming winter. It is estimated that the CCB will lift nearly 300,000 children out of poverty.
For our most vulnerable seniors, our government has raised the guaranteed income supplement by 10%. Promise made; promise kept. In my riding of Vaughan—Woodbridge, over 2,000 seniors received, on average, over $800 extra per annum. That is real change, helping real Canadians, our most vulnerable seniors. Furthermore, we came to an agreement on the CPP, the Canada pension plan. We enhanced and strengthened it for future generations.
There are other measures that we have instituted, but I would like to talk briefly in my remaining time about two measures in Bill C-86. One deals with the Canada Labour Code. For many of us who follow labour relations, there was an element in labour relations dealing with contract flipping or contract re-tendering. It was one of these things that was really unfair to the middle class, unfair to hard-working workers. We have addressed that.
It is contained in division 15 of part 4 of this bill. Our government will address continuity of employment issues when a work, undertaking or business becomes federally regulated, or in case of contract re-tendering. This is important, as there are instances where employees obtain a new employer through a contract tendering process, and then face much lower wages for exactly the same job.
Anyone who follows what happened at the airport in Toronto knows that this happens to many workers there, where they will be employed by an employer, making $20 an hour, and a contract re-tendering will come up and they will have to go to a new employer who imposes a much lower wage rate. It is unfair. We have addressed it. The legislation is in line with that in other jurisdictions, including the U.K. and Australia.
I will not read the pertinent section of the bill, but I encourage my colleagues from all parties to do so. It is groundbreaking, and it will ensure that we help all middle-class Canadians, all hard-working Canadians, including those workers who face a contract re-tendering.
In Bill C-86 and prior budgets, we have also addressed the issue of tax fairness and tax avoidance. Our government has invested approximately $1 billion in the Canada Revenue Agency. This morning there was an article in one of our national newspapers applauding our government for taking the concrete measures that are in Bill C-86, when looking at the issues of tax fairness and tax avoidance. We have a prosperous economy, Canadians are working at record levels, and we have the highest labour force participation rate for women in our country's history, but we must ensure that all individuals and organizations pay their fair share, including large corporations and wealthier Canadians.
We are preventing banks from creating artificial losses. We are enhancing tax reporting requirements for trust funds. We are strengthening rules for limited partnerships. We are cracking down on tax-free corporate distributions. We are also increasing ownership transparency.
It has been a pleasure to speak on Bill C-86. There are a number of great measures in this budget implementation act. I did not even touch on the pay equity bill, which will be transformational for millions of folks in this country. It will reduce the gap between what men and women are paid, which we must do. It is the right thing to do. It is the fair thing to do. It is the thing to do for my two daughters, who are at school today, for their futures. I am proud of our government that has acted on so many fronts.
View Joël Lightbound Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Joël Lightbound Profile
2018-06-05 15:20 [p.20267]
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure and an honour for me to speak to Bill C-74, the budget implementation act, which is important for us and will implement measures that we believe will have a positive impact on Canadians.
This bill continues our government's efforts to reduce inequality and stimulate growth, in particular through the Canada workers benefit, which was revised in budget 2018. This benefit will give more money to those who need it most, that is, low-income workers. We will ultimately increase the benefit by 175%. We are investing $1.75 billion in the Canada workers benefit.
This measure is consistent with the Canada child benefit, which was introduced in budget 2016. As many MPs know, nine out of 10 Canadian families have benefited and received an additional tax-free $2,300. This deserves to be known. We are indexing this benefit two years earlier than planned to keep pace with higher family expenses and needs, and to help as many families as possible. We know the impact of such a measure and I can tell you about it.
All I have to do is visit the food banks in my riding, talk to volunteers at the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul, or stand outside of grocery stores, as I often do on weekends to meet my constituents. They often tell me about how this measure has had a positive impact on their lives.
Here is how this benefit came to be. We looked at how the former government administrated family assistance. We implemented a more progressive system that provides assistance based on families' incomes. We stopped sending Canada child benefit cheques to families with over $150,000 in annual income, so that we can give more to those who need it most.
The Canada workers benefit follows the same logic. We believe that Canada's prosperity must be inclusive and help as many people as possible.
This is one thing I think is important in the budget implementation bill, but it is not the only thing. There is also the price on carbon pollution, a commitment we made during the election campaign. Climate change is having a serious impact on all Canadians and on future generations. Climate change also has an impact on our economy.
Take, for example, the claims submitted to insurance companies for damage caused by natural disasters. A few years ago, such claims totalled a few million dollars. Now, that number has increased to over $1 billion per year, and we expect it to continue to rise. For us, climate change is very real, and we have to deal with it.
By putting a price on carbon pollution, as proposed in the budget implementation bill, we are giving Canada a real opportunity to meet its climate change targets and be a responsible global citizen. The carbon tax will also allow us to mitigate and reverse the effects of climate change as much as possible. Those are two very important aspects of the budget implementation bill.
We also ultimately lowered the small business tax rate to 9%. We know how crucial Canada's SMEs are. They help drive our economy and create a large number of jobs in Canada. It goes without saying that we need to support our job creators and SMEs, which day after day, week after week, contribute to Canada's prosperity. We are taking that important step by lowering taxes for SMEs.
I would like to come back to something that I mentioned earlier, and that is the importance of having measures to reduce inequality. We also need to review certain measures that benefit the wealthiest members of society in order to have better targeted measures, such as the Canada workers benefit, and help those who need it most.
This could mean up to $170 a year for an unattached low-income worker. That is more money every paycheque. For a couple, the amount is even higher, of course.
Providing access to this benefit and increasing it is one thing, but we also want to make it automatic. In budget 2018, we announced that we will be implementing automatic enrolment so that every eligible worker receives the benefit without needing to file a claim. This issue is important to us, and I believe it is a positive aspect of Bill C-74, the budget implementation bill we are studying today.
Our government's goal is really to ensure that our growth benefits as many Canadians as possible and that our prosperity is inclusive. We have observed that the countries that have experienced significant economic growth in the decades since the Second World War are often those where inequality is lower and gaps have not been allowed to widen. In particular, I am thinking of Scandinavian countries, which have fascinating models. We have seen that reducing inequality boosts economic performance.
This is where initiatives like the middle-class tax cut for the $45,000 to $90,000 income bracket come in. This is where the Canada child benefit comes in, by giving more money to those who need it the most. We know that this money stays in the Canadian economy and is reinvested very locally, and we know that this has an impact on growth. I can confirm that under the leadership of the Minister of Finance, we fight for every decimal point of growth. That is why I strongly support initiatives to index the Canada child benefit sooner than expected, to make the Canada workers benefit automatic, and to enhance it.
This is where I see broader initiatives putting more money in people's pockets. While these initiatives are perhaps less direct, they are still very useful to people and are helping reduce inequalities. One example that comes to mind is the national housing strategy, where we are investing $40 billion over 10 years, I believe. This really confirms the federal government's commitments regarding community and social housing. Since the 1990s, the federal government has been backing away from its responsibilities with regard to community housing, and this is true of both Conservative and Liberal governments. One only needs to talk to organizations working on the ground to get a sense of how thrilled they are that the federal government is finally re-engaging and investing in community housing and social housing though our ambitious plan. The goal of our plan is to reduce chronic homelessness by 50%, renovate 300,000 housing units and build another 100,000 for those in need. That is one example.
Another area is public transit. We want high-quality, reliable, and efficient public transit systems at the lowest possible cost, systems that are so efficient that some some families can do without a car, or at least reduce their reliance on cars. These savings add up at the end of the day, but good public transit also improves quality of life and is good for the environment. These are all very positive initiatives.
Housing is an issue that is close to my heart. When I was young, I lived in a subsidized housing unit. I know how much of a burden it took off my mother's shoulders. I will never forget the day we got the call from the municipal housing bureau telling us that our application had been accepted. We were on a waiting list, and I know that it was a major change for my mother because she did not have to be afraid to get evicted at the end of the month anymore.
I am heartened to see the housing initiatives taken by our government. I am sure that they will have a similar effect on hundreds of thousands of Canadian families. In a way, it makes me glad that I am paying taxes, because I know that they are put to good use to increase social mobility, strengthen the social safety net and make sure people have access to basic necessities. Housing is a right. The most vulnerable in our society must have that right too, and the federal government needs to be active on that front.
Our government's focus is reflected in the measures we announced in budget 2018, but also since budget 2016. We are striving for a society that is more fair, more compassionate and more efficient, but we also want to create wealth. Indeed, to redistribute wealth, we have to create it first.
We also need to innovate and create a business-friendly climate, which will help fill federal coffers and create jobs. I would remind the House that 600,000 jobs have been created over the past two years. We recorded the strongest GDP growth in the G7 by far during that same period. That is what we need for inclusive prosperity. If we want to invest in useful and generous social programs, we need that prosperity. That is a crucial factor in the creation of a just society. It is important to have both, and we think the two go hand in hand.
When I examined budget 2018, what stood out for me and, I suspect, for many of my constituents, was the historic investments we made in science, especially basic science. Funding bodies across the country were pleased and applauded our initiative. For a decade, their budgets were frozen or slashed. Scientists were even muzzled. Canada fell behind. Anyone who stands still while the world moves forward falls behind.
Canada fell behind in terms of investment in basic research, which is crucial to future innovation, that is, in 5, 10, or 15 years. This is about more than just drugs in the future; it also has to do with innovation and businesses that could emerge as a result of ideas developed in university laboratories.
The Quebec City region is home to many, many businesses that emerged from basic research conducted at Laval University. It is always done by the brilliant researchers I am lucky to represent in my riding who eventually manage to commercialize this research and turn it into businesses that benefit our economy and the other businesses in our region. This helps them innovate and offer technological benefits in health, pharmaceuticals, and technology. This has an impact on people's day-to-day lives and also creates jobs.
There is a reason why the Quebec City region is doing so well. If we consider the research being done and how that is translating into jobs, businesses, and innovation, it is no surprise that the unemployment rate in Quebec City is 3.8%. That is practically full employment and, in practical terms, it is.
This creates another challenge that our region is currently facing, namely, recruiting and attracting a labour force. I hear about this everywhere I go in the riding when I meet with entrepreneurs.
The budget 2018 investments in basic research are historic because they are higher than any previous federal investments in research. We must provide for long-term prosperity. We do not want to stifle innovation in Canada; we want to promote and encourage it, and this is why we are making these investments.
We want to make sure that Canada stays at the forefront of technological advances and science. It goes without saying that investing in science is a long-term investment in our economy and our collective prosperity.
Similarly, putting a price on carbon pollution is a long-term investment in a healthier environment. We will be creating a liveable country and planet, where we have drinking water and as little pollution as possible, and therefore without all the health problems this pollution would cause, like respiratory problems.
The price on carbon pollution clearly shows that we want to develop the economy, which is very important, but at the same time we want to protect the environment, which is just as important. This leaves us with the third option, which is a fair, balanced, and responsible approach. You sometimes hear people say that it must be one or the other. We chose to adopt a more balanced approach.
I want to add that, if you look at the jurisdictions that have put a price on carbon pollution, this measure encourages innovation and reduces the greenhouse gas emissions that the most innovative companies will produce. This is also the objective.
Let us not forget that certain jurisdictions have already put a price on carbon pollution. British Columbia, for example, did so a number of years ago and its economic record is one of the most impressive in Canada. It is the same thing with Quebec and Ontario, two provinces with remarkable economic performances who have put a price on carbon. We think that both can definitely go hand in hand. It leads to a more innovative, responsible and green economy. That is how the transition has to occur.
We know that the transition will not happen overnight, but we know that it can happen gradually. It will need incentives to succeed. For example, putting a price on carbon pollution is an incentive for innovation. Investments in public transit are incentives for people to change the way they commute because they have better options. I am also thinking of tax breaks and support for green energy. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been invested in green and renewable energy. A broad range of measures that ensure both our economic prosperity and the protection of our environment and allow for a gradual and thoughtful transition have been implemented. That is where people expect the Liberal government to be responsible.
I know that my colleague from Ville-Marie—Le Sud-Ouest—Île-des-Soeurs likes the idea that environmental protection and economic growth can and must go hand in hand. That is our approach. In Bill C-74, pricing carbon pollution fosters innovation and better choices, makes our economy more innovative and responsible, and protects the environment. I think that this idea is what is driving my colleague from Ville-Marie—Le Sud-Ouest—Île-des-Soeurs and most members on this side of the House.
We believe that economic development and prosperity are important, but that protecting our environment is equally important. We believe that both go hand in hand and that the resulting prosperity should be inclusive.
View Francesco Sorbara Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Francesco Sorbara Profile
2018-04-16 13:32 [p.18301]
Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time today with my hon. colleague from the riding of West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country.
It gives me great pleasure to speak to Bill C-74, the budget implementation act, 2018, No.1, which is intended to strengthen the middle class and make sure all Canadians have the skills and opportunities they need to succeed.
Budget 2018, appropriately entitled “Equality + Growth: A Strong Middle Class”, is a statement that continues to build upon the solid foundation laid out in our government's prior two budgets.
Our economy is strong and the future for our country and for all Canadians is bright. Our progress as a government over the last two and a half years is something of which we can all be proud.
Hard-working Canadians, including those in my riding of Vaughan—Woodbridge, are taking risks, investing in their communities and their businesses. Due to their efforts over 500,000 net new jobs have been created, an overwhelming majority of which are full time.
Our unemployment rate is below 6%, the lowest in 40 years, and thanks to the middle-class tax cut, nine million Canadians are paying less tax. Over a period of five years, that will add up to more than $20 billion in tax relief for Canadian families.
Our government has ambitiously completed historical and progressive trade deals, including CETA, which will create thousands of good middle-class jobs for Canadians, will strengthen economic relations, and will allow Canadian companies unlimited access to over 500 million consumers.
Putting the interests of the middle class at the centre of our trade discussions ensures that Canadian businesses and the Canadian economy will reap tangible benefits.
We have also put in place an infrastructure plan that invests billions in public transit so commuters in my riding of Vaughan—Woodbridge can get home sooner to their families. This we can see is real tangible progress for all Canadians.
Our vision strengthens Canada's social fabric and balances the desire for a strong economy, while introducing long-term measures for a healthy environment. This includes pan-Canadian pricing for carbon pollution, an important measure in Bill C-74. Each province will determine how to spend the money generated from carbon pricing. This is the right approach.
I do wish to stress that all the measures in Budget 2018 and laid out in Bill C-74, in my view, only further strengthen our fiscal position.
As an economist and someone with over two decades of experience in the private sector, I have seen and experienced the ups and downs of the global economy, including the 2008 global financial crisis and before that the technology bubble. I know how important it is to maintain a strong fiscal framework.
I am proud to say that our plan includes a gradual reduction in the federal debt-to-GDP ratio. According to the International Monetary Fund, Canada has the lowest net debt-to-GDP ratio in all G7 countries.
We have looked at Bill C-74 on a larger scale, so why not look at how the measures we have laid out in this bill would directly affect Canadians in their day-to-day life.
Let us examine the Canada child benefit.
In my riding of Vaughan—Woodbridge, the CCB is assisting thousands of families. The numbers speak for themselves. In one year alone, CCB payments benefited 19,400 children in my wonderful riding, with approximately 10,400 payments and an average tax-free payment of $5,400. This is approximately $59 million that is delivered tax free to families in Vaughan—Woodbridge and to 337 other ridings in Canada. This is money which will assist families with paying for their kids' sports, clothes, or can help save for their children's future.
Bill C-74 indexes the Canada child benefit beginning in July 2018, that is, two years earlier than originally planned, to help families deal with the high cost of raising children.
It is estimated that this measure will provide an additional $2.1 billion to families in Ontario alone until 2022-23. That is the kind of leadership Canadians expect from our government.
At this time, the CCB is helping lift millions of families and hundreds of thousands of children out of poverty across the country.
These measures are not only putting more money in the pockets of numerous Canadians families, but they will also positively affect business owners across the country.
In my riding of Vaughan—Woodbridge, the city of Vaughan is home to over 11,000 small and medium-size businesses, employing more than 208,000 people. I am proud to say the city of Vaughan is the largest employment area in the whole York Region.
My riding is home to many businesses, from the large, multinational companies like FedEx and Home Depot, to many family-run firms, including Vision Enterprises, Quality Cheese Inc., Decor-Rest Furniture Manufacturers, to family-run bakeries, which I frequent all too often. When I am home, my family and I enjoy visiting our favourites like Sweet Boutique, La Strada Bakery, and St. Phillips Bakery to just name a few.
With Bill C-74, we will strengthen our businesses by lowering the small business tax rate to 10% effective January 1, 2018, and to 9% effective January 1, 2019.
Once fully implemented, those hard-working small business owners will see a tax reduction of up to $7,500 annually. This measure is a cumulative tax reduction of nearly $3 billion over the next five years in the pockets of hard-working Canadians across the country.
Our government initiated extensive consultations to make sure that entrepreneurs can continue to invest in and grow their business, but also to ensure that all Canadians are paying their fair share of taxes and that the economy is working for everyone.
I know this is crucially important for the many successful private business owners in my riding of Vaughan—Woodbridge who are involved in various industries, from advanced manufacturing, high tech, construction, and the food and beverage sector. I have met with many of these hard-working large, medium, and small business owners, some employing 10 workers and others employing thousands. I am incredibly proud of their hard work and to be their voice in Ottawa.
Our government will ensure that business owners can continue to invest in their businesses and also increase flexibility for owners to build a cushion of savings for personal circumstances, such as maternity leave or retirement.
However, we will restrict tax deferments for passive investments in private corporations. Once a private corporation has amassed significant passive investments, it will no longer be subject to the small business tax rate. This measure will affect less than 3%, or about 50,000, of Canadian-controlled private corporations.
As I noted in my introduction, our government is committed to helping all Canadians succeed, and we are putting money in the pockets of those who need it most.
In budget 2018, our government makes a significant investment in boosting the earnings of low-income workers with a near $1 billion investment in the Canada workers benefit. The investment will lift 70,000 Canadians out of poverty and, as important, encourage more people to join the workforce.
With the legislative changes that will automatically enrol Canadians, an estimated 300,000 additional low-income workers will receive the new CWB for the 2019 tax year. For example, an individual in my riding who is earning $20,000 annually, which is not a large sum for a lot of people, and some people make that stretch a long way, will receive an additional $500 from this measure, where previously no boost was received.
As the son of parents who immigrated to Canada with nothing but the desire to work and create a better future for their family, I know that the Canada workers benefit will improve the living conditions of thousands of Canadian workers.
I have touched merely upon a few things that Bill C-74 introduces. The indexation of the Canada child benefit, the Canada workers benefit, and support for small businesses are all measures that will benefit millions of Canadian workers and Canadian businesses from coast to coast to coast.
These measures will lift tens of thousands out of poverty, help families in raising their kids, encourage more folks to enter the labour force, and allow business owners to invest more money to grow their businesses. These are real, tangible, positive outcomes that will better the lives of Canadian families, business owners, and our economy. I am proud of budget 2018 and what is in Bill C-74.
View Harold Albrecht Profile
View Harold Albrecht Profile
2017-06-05 17:44 [p.12024]
Madam Speaker, it is an honour to rise on behalf of the constituents of Kitchener—Conestoga to speak about the Liberal government's second budget. Perhaps I should call it the Liberal government's wishful election budget, as the majority of the spending outlined falls after the next election.
I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news for my hon. colleagues across the way, but there is an election in 2019 and our Conservative plan includes balanced budgets, fiscal responsibility, and an end to the reckless spending of the Liberal government.
Following the release of budget 2017, I held a round table discussion with several business owners and representatives from my constituency. I would like to share some of their comments and concerns.
With respect to red tape, taxes, and fees, all of the attendees expressed that they were disappointed the current government did not follow through with its promised small business tax cut. This is a promise the Liberals made during the 2015 election, throughout Canada and in Waterloo region, but they have had two budgets since, and there is still no tax cut.
The participants also shared concerns that it is becoming much more difficult and expensive to do business in Canada because of red tape, increased taxes, and fees. One participant told me that their revenues have more than doubled but there is less profit and a lot of it has to do with government payroll taxes and it's only going to get worse as CPP taxes are on the rise. Another participant told a story about how he now employs two full-time employees who deal specifically with government red tape. He spoke about the difficulty and cost of using the scientific research and experimental tax incentive credits and the difficulties companies face when dealing with the Canada Revenue Agency.
Small- and medium-sized businesses should be focused on running their businesses and being successful, not navigating government red tape. This was a common thread throughout most of our round table discussion. There was a concern expressed by all the members about the intervention of government in business operations.
A number of participants were disappointed—and that word is far too mild—that Bombardier was given a bailout. They feel that these dollars could have been spent far better elsewhere. Another member of the round table voiced his concern with the ballooning debt being carried by the federal government and talked about how much money could be used for infrastructure if it were not being spent on interest payments on the debt. Every member of the round table shared concerns about Canada's growing deficit spending and wanted to see a return to fiscal responsibility.
It is round tables like these that keep me engaged with the issues that affect my constituents the most. I would encourage the hon. members across the way to sit down and really take time to listen to their constituents, especially those who help to create jobs and opportunity, our small- and medium-sized business owners.
In addition to the issues that were raised in the round table, I will discuss a number of problems with this current budget: infrastructure spending, eliminating the public transit tax credit, and the laughable scheduling of inadequate funding for agriculture, clean tech, and home care.
Kitchener—Conestoga, being part of the Waterloo region, is both urban and rural. We are a community of people who utilize public transit. We are also a community of people who work both in the region and travel into Toronto along the 401. As well, we have many commuters travelling into the Waterloo region from the GTA, especially a large number who are employed in the high-tech sector.
By allocating public transit funding based on ridership, the Liberal government is disadvantaging Canada's growing communities in favour of already-developed large urban centres. That is what is happening in Kitchener—Conestoga in the region of Waterloo. Too often, communities like ours are left to fend for themselves. Of course, a bridge in Wellesley township will never have the traffic volume crossing that an intercity bridge does, but that does not mean it is not important to the growth and health of our local economy.
Municipalities need good and safe infrastructure, but they also need programs that are easy to access, without miles of red tape. They need programs that provide predictable funding and do not leave small and rural communities behind.
That brings me to the public transit tax credit. I raised this issue in earlier debates on the Liberals' budget and I heard the arguments from the other side of the aisle. My hon. colleagues point out that it is not used often and has not increased ridership. In that case, what the government clearly needs to do is highlight the availability of the tax credit, and possibly even increase the tax credit so that more Canadians will consider it as a viable option.
Cancelling the tax credit is exactly the wrong thing to do, especially when we are investing billions of dollars in that infrastructure. It needs to be more fully utilized.
My riding is an example. As a result of cancelling the public tax credit, an adult would lose about $150 per year, or the equivalent of about two months' worth of bus passes. Talk about encouraging people to take transit: we want people to take public transit, but we are going to add a $150 fee for the privilege.
Getting 12 months of public transit for the cost of 10 is a great incentive. We need to do a better job at communicating this to our constituents and possibly increase the credit, but certainly not eliminate it.
As I noted earlier, the budget should be called the next election budget, as the majority of its spending comes after 2019. The government's spending on clean technology, digital industries, and agrifood is an example. The government announced $400 million, but less than half of that will be spent before the next election. To be more specific, only $95 million will be spent by the fiscal year 2018-19. That is $95 million of the $400 million.
What about the government's plan to invest in agriculture innovation? Again, this budget announces $60 million to invest in science, innovation, and agriculture, but less than 25% of that budgeted amount will be spent by the next election. It is only $13 billion, yet the government bragged that it is investing $60 billion.
I have been up multiple times during question period to ask the government about its plan for Canada's aging population and I have not yet received an adequate response. Maybe one of my hon. colleagues from the Liberal Party can give me an answer today. For the first time in Canada's history, there are more seniors than young people. Something needs to be done to address this situation, but the Liberals seem to be kicking this responsibility down the road again until after the next election. Of the $5 billion they announced, less than half will be spent by the time the next election comes around.
We heard that the Liberals were going to invest $3 billion in home care and palliative care, yet here we are 20 months later, and only $5 billion has been announced over a long period of time, less than 25% of it before the next election. What does the Liberal Party plan to gain from backdating of their spending to beyond the mandate that Canadians have given them? It all sounds good, but there is no real action.
Last, I would be remiss if I did not mention and include some facts about the national debt and just how much interest we pay each year. Despite the Prime Minister's promise to return to budget balance, the Minister of Finance admitted on budget day that he has no intention whatsoever of returning our books to balance. The Prime Minister broke his election campaign promise to run a $10 billion deficit. In fact, for the year ahead it is $29 billion, three times what was promised.
The government in four years will add a whopping $100 billion to Canada's federal debt. The interest charges on our national debt just for this year will be $24.3 billion, and that number increases every year for the foreseeable future under the Liberal government. By 2021, our interest costs alone will be $33.3 billion each and every year, and it will continue to grow after that.
Let us think about what that $33.3 billion could do. It could have meant increases to health care transfers, investments in palliative care and hospices and home care, more money invested in infrastructure, or simply a reduction in our tax burden.
I will not be supporting the budget, as it lacks a clear vision to return Canada back to financial stability, and just as it backloads funding to after the next election, it backloads our national debt to future generations. This is not a responsible action for the House to take.
View Brigitte Sansoucy Profile
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise once again in the House today to speak to budget 2017.
More and more people are telling me about the fine promises made during the election campaign and the string of disappointments and disillusionment once the party that got voted in formed government. This is what I have heard about the Liberals for over a year and a half. The 2017 budget is no different, and there are many areas where the investment is inadequate, if not inexistent.
How can this government justify to the six out of 10 unemployed workers who do not have access to employment insurance that it is not planning to invest anything in improving access? The lack of access to these benefits deprives many workers of the resources they need to survive.
The government keeps telling us that it is creating jobs, but it is unacceptable to leave people unable to support themselves without assistance. Employment insurance is paid for through employee and employer contributions and it needs to help those who need it, when they need it.
The employment insurance system needs to be changed so that those who have been left behind can access these benefits. Many workers are in several precarious jobs, which is why they are unable to access these benefits. This is especially the case for seasonal workers, and I want to remind this government once again that each year 15,000 people are in this situation, close to 40% of them in Quebec. It is also the case for young people, since 40% of the jobs worked by 18- to 34-year-olds are precarious.
How can our small businesses create good jobs when they do not have adequate infrastructure? Internet access is a fundamental issue for rural residents and businesses. However, nowhere in the budget does the government announce new investment to allow rural communities to have access to high-speed Internet.
In the riding of Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, which I represent, we are among those left out of high-speed Internet. It is an impediment to our community, particularly our small businesses. I have pledged to bring fibre optic throughout the riding, and I will continue to fight for that. The government needs to invest in public infrastructure to make new technologies accessible to everyone, everywhere.
On the topic of small businesses, microbreweries and small wine producers are a vital part of our economy. Small businesses create 80% of good-paying jobs. Increasing the excise tax would impose added costs on microbreweries and small wine producers. Breweries pay to the federal government the same excise duties on each litre of beer, regardless of volume, and this is unfair to the microbreweries unable to compete with the major breweries.
The federal government should instead help microbreweries, microdistilleries, and vintners market their products. It needs to eliminate the excise tax hike on microbreweries and small wine producers.
This government has said time and again that it wants to help the hard-working middle class. Again, there is a big disconnect between what the Liberals say and what they actually do. Child care costs have gone up more than 8% over the last two years. This strong middle class that the government wants to build is paying very high child care costs, while the budget does not include one extra penny for new child care spaces this year, and the amounts to be provided later are mostly inadequate for the needs of parents.
During the election campaign, the Liberals criticized the NDP plan saying that it was too slow. Under our plan, there was more more money for the first year than the government plans to invest during the fifth year. Some families pay up to $1,600 a month per child for child care. No matter how hard you work, that is a gaping hole in the household budget.
The Liberals are also cutting the public transit tax credit that helped many people save up to $200 a year. Families expect this government to work for them, but clearly it prefers to gift $725 million annually to Canada's wealthiest CEOs. Is that what the Liberals mean by building a strong middle class?
To the long list of those who have been cheated, we must add dairy farmers. In November, the government promised to invest $350 million to help dairy farmers cope with the repercussions of the comprehensive economic trade agreement signed with the European Union, but there is not a single line item in the budget for such an investment. Like many Liberal promises, this one seems to have vanished. Many dairy farmers in the riding of Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot and in Quebec and Canada in fact, were expecting support from the federal government. It is high time that a government protected our farmers and truly helped them.
People do not seem to be able to count on this government when it comes to health care costs. Despite all of the requests that have been made by the provinces, the Liberals have once again chosen not to make the disability tax credit refundable. Low-income Canadians therefore have to deal with the double sentence of living with functional limitations and being trapped in a precarious situation by a government that ignores them because it would rather give tax credits to the wealthy.
There are inequalities in health when it comes to the price of prescription drugs. Canada has the second highest drug prices in the world, but the government turns a deaf ear to the suffering of those who cannot get the drugs they need. Some people do not take all of their medication and some do not take any at all because they cannot afford it. Others have to choose between health care and eating. Unfortunately, the existing system can kill, and it costs $7 billion a year more than necessary because we do not have a national pharmacare program.
This year, we celebrate Canada's 150th anniversary, and the government is constantly sending out its messages to remind us. However it should keep in mind some other figures. Nine hundred and ninety thousand is the number of children living in poverty in Canada in 2017. These 990,00 children among 4.5 million men and women in Canada living in poverty are the reality we must strive to change. People have less and less money. The household debt amounts to 167% of their revenues on average.
However, when discussing people getting poorer, I am obviously talking about the majority of them. A small minority of people, the richest in our society, keep acquiring more and more wealth. Whereas all hard-working wage earners have to pay income tax, only half of the revenues from selling shares is taxed. Just in case the government is unaware, let me remind them that selling shares is not a major source of income for the middle class and it is even less so for the most vulnerable.
The tax rate for big corporations has been constantly declining for the past 15 years, and that rate is applied only on taxable revenues. In spite of the ever-decreasing rate, big corporations still engage in tax evasion, a scourge that deprives the state of revenues worth 7 billion dollars a year.
That said, it really becomes indecent when the government itself allows the richest to evade income tax. The stock options tax break for big corporation CEOs represents a net loss of 800 million dollars a year for us. The government wants to promote hard-working men and women, but even by pushing themselves to the limit, most people cannot earn as much as a single one of the richest Canadians can earn from his shares. Owning shares that generate millions of dollars cannot be called work.
We can therefore see how negligent the government is. While it forfeits large sums of money in the form of tax credits for the wealthiest and fails to crack down on tax cheats, some people are hurting because they are poor.
Let us not forget that more than 800,000 people use food banks every month. This represents a 28% increase since 2008, and 36% of those people are children. Reforms could solve that problem, and it is high time the government took action.
View Dean Allison Profile
View Dean Allison Profile
2017-05-04 15:54 [p.10788]
Mr. Speaker, I am thankful for the opportunity today to give some of my thoughts on this budget.
I really believe this budget is a lot of bafflegab and bluster. I believe it is short on substance and that it saddles future generations of Canadians with massive debt. One of the biggest challenges is that we will be putting the burden on our young people, on our kids and our kids' kids, to pay off the massive debt that we will incur over the next few years.
The Prime Minister campaigned on the promise to run a modest $10-billion deficit, but it was not long after the election that he broke his promise. He pledged to return to a balanced budget, and that pledge has been completely abandoned. To top things off, our national debt is spiralling out of control.
Before I continue, I want to mention that I will be sharing my time with the member for Lethbridge, if I may.
This budget is simply nickel-and-diming the middle class. It is making the cost of living more expensive for middle-class Canadian families. It is becoming obvious to us in this place and to Canadians across the country that the Liberal economic plan is not working. Budget 2016 failed to create jobs and failed to grow our economy; budget 2017 is just more of the same.
The Financial Post reports that in 2016, the economy had one of its most difficult years, with a growth of merely 1.3%. It goes on to say that it does not get much better looking forward and that the federal government's own Department of Finance predicts economic growth will average just 1.6% out to 2030. Further, the report notes that growth expectations from private sector economists have consistently declined since the Liberal government came into power. Even more troubling is that the Liberal economic update forecasts have consistently decreased, and have now been downgraded to 1.6% in budget 2017.
Our party leader correctly noted that the government's own numbers show that the economy is growing no faster than before its spending binge began. She also correctly noted that Canadians are working fewer hours and that their wages are not keeping up with the cost of living.
The Prime Minister should not be surprised by all of this. He cannot expect different results by using the same old Liberal tax-and-spend methods.
As was the case with the 2016 budget, this year the Liberals have once again abandoned small businesses. Small businesses are the largest employers of Canadians across the country. Almost every business needs a tax break, but when it comes to spirits, wine, and beer, the Liberals have decided to increase taxes by 2%. This tax hike will have a very negative impact on wineries, craft breweries, and small distilleries in the riding of Niagara West, and consumers will once again have to pay more at the cash register because of more new Liberal taxes.
I have received numerous letters from stakeholders in the wine industry who are pleading with the Prime Minister and Minister of Finance to reconsider this ill-conceived tax hike. Wine is among the highest value-added agricultural products in Ontario, and many of our grape growers may face economic hardship in the face of this tax increase. Wine, as one of Ontario's signature industries, should be supported and promoted by our federal government, not selectively targeted.
The long-term impacts on wineries across Canada will be immense, as will they be on others in the value chain, including restaurant workers, bartenders, delivery truck drivers, and others. For the sake of the long-term survival of the Canadian wine industry, the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance should pay attention and consider reversing this tax hike immediately.
The wine industry is not the only victim of Liberal overtaxing. Others will feel the Liberal pinch as well. With respect to public transit users, for example, roughly 1.8 million Canadians will see higher taxes and higher prices for bus passes because the Liberals have decided to get rid of the public transit tax credit. A Toronto Transit Commission analysis showed that the elimination of this credit will mean 2.5 million fewer people will ride the TTC in 2017. Uber and ride-sharing services will become more expensive because the Liberals have decided to slap a tax on them.
Others include donated medicines; child care; small business owners, including farmers, fishers, doctors, lawyers, and accountants; oil and gas companies; and the tourism industry.
These are all in addition to the Liberal tax hikes last year on gas and home heating and Canadians' savings accounts, the implementation of more payroll taxes for businesses, and the ending of tax breaks for children's soccer and piano lessons. It seems that no matter what the Liberals do, they always somehow end up raising taxes on average Canadians and plunging our country into more debt and deficit.
It also seems strange that the Liberals are calling budget 2017 their innovation budget. There is really nothing new or innovative in this budget. Many of the programs are recycled and repackaged. What is becoming clearer is that they have no plan, no commitment, and no ideas on how to create jobs and grow our economy.
However, here is the kicker. They are spending billions on buzzwords and catchphrases. Mr. Speaker, unless you are a venture capital catalyst or a supercluster, this budget is simply not for you.
Innovation thrives when businesses and entrepreneurs are free from excessive taxes, regulation, and interference, but this budget takes the opposite approach. It picks the winners and just does not really care about anyone else.
Here is what really worries me. The Prime Minister promised to run modest deficits for a couple of years. What this has turned into is borrowing $143 billion over six years. If that is a modest deficit, then I do not want to see or hear what he considers a large one.
What Canadians must keep in mind is that the national credit card that the Prime Minister keeps swiping works in a very similar way to their own credit cards—namely, the money needs to be paid back, and paid back with interest. Incredible amounts of money have already been borrowed. What this means is that not only this generation but generations to come will need to pay the principal and interest on the debt being racked up now. Canadians turning 18 years old today will not see a balanced budget until they are in their fifties. Essentially, our children and even our grandchildren will be on the hook for paying off debt that the Prime Minister is needlessly racking up now.
This is in addition to making all Canadians pay more taxes for virtually everything, and it explains only half the vicious cycle the Prime Minister has been inflicting upon us. What happens when the debt cannot be paid back? Will he raise taxes even more? Round and round we will go again.
With all this spending of billions of dollars on our national credit card, the Prime Minister could not seem to find a sufficient amount of money for our men and women in uniform. For the second year in a row, the budget contains very little for them. Budget 2017 makes major cuts to defence, despite demands from the U.S. that NATO members commit to spend at least 2% of their GDP.
The government is deferring $8.5 billion in equipment purchases, having already deferred $3.7 billion in the past budget. The Department of National Defence now faces a $12-billion shortfall. It certainly does not look like national defence is a priority for this Liberal government. In an era of so much Liberal spending, it is of great concern that the largest cuts are consistently at the expense of the Canadian Armed Forces, raising the question of whether the Liberals believe that Canada needs the ability to defend itself and our allies from clear threats such as Russia, North Korea, Iran, and ISIS.
Recent examples, including the Liberals' decision to pull our CF-18s out of the fight against ISIS, their preference for fourth-generation fighter jets, their lack of increased support for our Ukrainian allies, and their failure to advance important procurement projects, all suggest that the Prime Minister is of the view that other countries should be relied upon to do the heavy lifting.
With growing United States pressure for increased budgets, Canada's allies have committed to modernizing their military capabilities and spending 2% of their GDP on defence. Our Prime Minister has not followed suit, putting us in a very precarious position. Considering the clear global threats to our security, we need the appropriate investments in Canada's national defence and we need them now. The finance minister does not seem to agree, stating that the government believes the military is appropriately provisioned.
We are living in dangerous times, when our security as a nation should be regarded as a matter of the utmost importance. By not allocating the necessary funds to our armed forces, we are playing a dangerous game and putting our country at constant risk. lt is simple: the Liberals are asking Canada's military to do more with less. This cannot stand. On this side of the aisle, we will continue to fight for the resources that our Canadian Armed Forces deserve.
If the Liberals will not listen to us here in this place, then I hope they will listen to the hard-working Canadians that this budget will directly affect. According to a Nanos poll reported by The Globe and Mail, most Canadians are giving the Liberal government's second budget a thumbs down. What this poll found is that Canadians are expressing a strong desire for the Liberals to lay out a plan for eliminating the deficit after the budget, there is no mention of when the federal books will be balanced. It is no surprise that only 5% of Canadians had a positive view of the budget.
Nik Nanos himself said:
I think the fact that only one out of every 20 Canadians had an outright positive view of the federal budget should give the Liberals pause because it suggests that the budget, at least for a number of Canadians, was a disappointment.
When Canadians were asked if it is important to them that the federal government have a plan in place to eliminate the deficit, four in five Canadians agreed that a plan should be in place. The reality is that the Liberals have no plan.
We, as the official opposition and as Conservatives, are the voice of the taxpayers and will hold the Liberals to account. We will not and cannot stay silent while the Prime Minister nickel-and-dimes Canadians with no plan whatsoever to create jobs and grow our economy. Too much is at stake, and we hope he listens and understands that so far his ideas are not working.
View Sheila Malcolmson Profile
View Sheila Malcolmson Profile
2017-04-05 16:55 [p.10214]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to stand on behalf of Nanaimo—Ladysmith and the New Democrats to speak about the hits and misses in the 2017 federal budget.
I will be splitting my time with the member of Parliament for Elmwood—Transcona.
On affordable housing, there is a huge built-up demand, a great need, both on pricing and on volume. There is only $20 million in affordable housing for 2017 and, reading the fine print, 90% of the money for housing will not go out the door until after the next election.
On home energy retrofits, we hear repeatedly that voters, homeowners, renovators, and small businesses want incentives to reduce emissions, enable households to save electricity, and get people to work doing these renovations. This is a good, local, sustainable job-creation exercise. The budget does not include any allowance for the home energy retrofit program.
For 15 years in my seat in local government before I was elected here, I have been advocating for federal leadership on abandoned vessels. There was a big announcement by the federal government in November, but there are zero dollars in this budget to deal with abandoned vessels. This weekend I am meeting with community leaders elected on Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast in British Columbia, the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities. They were hoping I would have some good news specifically about how we will be partnering and funding community work to remove the oil spill risks posed by abandoned vessels. There is zero in the budget for them.
The transit tax rebate is another disappointment in my region. It made the daily use of public transit a little more affordable for bus riders, but it also made public transit a little more affordable in ferry-dependent communities, such as the one that I represent, as well as Gabriola Island, where I live. Lots of commuters go back and forth every day. That was a way to help make ends meet and to accommodate the tremendously high, way-beyond-inflation, fare increases that have been brought in under the British Columbia Liberal Party over the last 14 years. Inflation, in some cases, is almost as high as 10%. That transit tax rebate program has been cut in this budget to save $170 million.
We say instead that if the government were really serious about closing tax loopholes, it would have kept its election promise and closed the CEO stock option loophole, which would have provided $750 million in revenue every year. Instead, inexplicably, yesterday in question period, the representative for the finance minister said that this tax rebate was used disproportionately by wealthy people. It boggles the mind, honestly. The transit tax rebate was cut to save $170 million on the backs of working people. It is extremely disappointing. It is not leadership and not walking the talk on either the middle class or climate change.
There was a huge need expressed for home care that I heard daily when knocking on doors throughout the federal election campaign. The Liberals promised $3 billion over four years. Instead, this budget commits $2.25 billion over four years. It is one year late and 25% short, and that again is on the backs of families.
For coastal communities, I really thought, given the government's election promises, that there would be commitments around salmon enhancement and the implementation of the Cohen commission recommendations, every single one of which the government said it would implement. There is nothing in the budget for salmon, which are at the foundation of indigenous communities on the original settlement pattern on the coast and which, in our modern economy, are so much at the root of tourism and commercial and recreational fisheries.
The opioid crisis has hit the community of Nanaimo particularly hard. There were more deaths per capita than anywhere else in British Columbia in the early part of this crisis, I think, because of drug dealers testing out this bad product and using my community as a test market. It is no fault of the community, but the community and our firefighters and first responders sure are taking the brunt of it.
This budget allocates $110 million to the entire drug and substance strategy over the next five years. The Conservatives had planned to spend $556 million on their anti-drug strategy over the same period, and honestly, it is a sad day when the Conservatives are spending more on drug treatment and the opioid emergency than the Liberals are. It is stunning, really.
As well, the budget fails to allocate a single dime in emergency funding for the opioid crisis, as my colleague, the member for Vancouver Kingsway, has pointed out. It is unacceptable. To think that the opioid crisis is over is not supported by the evidence. Let us say it that way. The crisis is getting worse, if anything, and there is nothing allocated. There is $14 million this year for the entire drug strategy across the whole country, whereas last year $16 million was spent by the federal government in B.C. and Alberta alone.
Regarding small business, again it is a big disappointment to see the government continuing to dishonour its election promise to lower the small business tax rate. Small businesses are our job generators and are a huge part of the Nanaimo—Ladysmith economy hub.
There is also nothing to reduce the unfair credit card merchant fees that gouge small businesses and raise costs for consumers.
As for people living with disabilities, the Liberals have once again ignored loud and clear calls to make the disability tax credit refundable to ensure that it provides the support that low-income individuals need.
Then we move to the gender budget. There were big headlines on this issue, and a lot of expectations were raised. In fact, the budget named dozens of barriers women face, but it did not actually implement very many solutions for them. The budget mentions the word “women” 274 times, but there is very little action taken.
With regard to murdered and missing indigenous women, no money is allocated in the 2017 budget for implementation of the inquiry's work. As for violence against women, the offer is $20 million a year over the next five years for federal services. This is only a little more than the government is committing to space exploration. NGOs had asked for $500 million a year, and some of that would go to the operators of domestic violence shelters, who, with no support from the current government, are doing very good work on the part of the country to shelter women and children escaping domestic violence.
For addressing pay equity, there are zero dollars. For child care, there are zero dollars last year and this year for any child care spaces. This is quite different from the New Democrat election promise of $1.2 billion in new investments that would have happened this year, which during the election campaign the Liberals said was too little and too slow. It is a head-shaker.
I like the idea of extending parental leave. That is good for families and it is good for women. However, the government did not commit any new dollars, so again only the wealthiest families, those who can afford to live on one-third of their salary, are able to take the full benefit.
Regarding unpaid care work, there is also a good general direction, but many female caregivers will not qualify, because they do not have a high enough income to qualify for this tax break. As well, the Liberals are delivering less than they promised in their platform.
We are also disappointed that the Liberals failed to use the budget opportunity to close the problem that we identified around the Canada pension plan expansion. Doing so would have helped women and people living with disabilities so that they would not be penalized.
Indigenous children, again, are left behind. There is just $155 million, to come into compliance with the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal. Again, it is such a betrayal of the government's promises that it does not specifically allocate money in this budget.
In closing, many Canadians are struggling with part-time and precarious employment, rising costs, and record debt, and they were hoping that this budget would lift them all up. Instead it looks like a tremendous amount of government spending without any effect on people on the ground, in their lives, this year, right now.
I urge the government to reconsider, to make its budget more generous and bring it more in line with its election promises.
View Majid Jowhari Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Majid Jowhari Profile
2017-04-04 16:45 [p.10161]
Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Bourassa.
I am honoured to stand in the House to discuss budget 2017 and its potential impact on my riding of Richmond Hill. This year's federal budget follows in the footsteps of budget 2016 and offers a road map to individual prosperity for Canadians and to economic success for Canada. This budget provides detailed provisions as to how the Liberal government has listened to Canadians and is taking action to make the necessary financial commitments that will ensure that each and every Canadian has a real and fair opportunity to improve their lives.
I will focus my remarks today on four key areas. First, I will highlight how budget 2017 provides new opportunities for Canadians, including our youth, to strengthen existing skills, to develop new ones, and to build a qualified workforce of the future, while also providing our seniors with the ability to sustain a better quality of life.
Second, I will explain how budget 2017 encourages business innovation and economic progress for Canada.
Third, I will discuss how this budget will provide infrastructure support for the modernization and resiliency of our neighbourhoods.
Fourth and finally, I will describe how budget 2017 provides for more and enhanced home care, mental health services, child care services, and affordable housing for those who need it the most.
With this budget, the Liberal government upholds the promise of progress that will benefit all Canadians. On the topics of youth and seniors and digital skills, our government will be allocating $50 million over two years so that digital skills trainers can apply to teach digital skills to students from kindergarten to grade 12. This is excellent news, given that the Canadian economy is rapidly changing, and my colleague before me talked about that change. This commitment will prepare individuals, starting from a young age, to gain the proper skills to prepare for the jobs of the future.
Seniors will also benefit from digital skill training, as budget 2017 will provide $29.5 million over five years for a new digital literacy exchange program to support not-for-profit organizations to implement initiatives that teach basic digital skills, with a focus on groups that can benefit from acquiring these skills.
As noted in the 2016 Town of Richmond Hill economic development strategy, youth up to age 24 make up 32% of the population. The population of seniors aged 70 and over was 8%. Together, they make up 40% of the Town of Richmond Hill's entire population. Therefore, 40% of Richmond Hill's population could benefit from the federal funding provided in budget 2017 for digital skills training.
On the business innovation side, another aspect of budget 2017 that would greatly benefit Richmond Hill is the provision of funds to encourage business innovation in Canada. The budget allocates $950 million over five years, starting in 2017-18, to support a number of business-led innovation superclusters that have the greatest potential to accelerate economic growth. By investing in superclusters and also providing the strategic innovation fund, SIF, with $1.26 billion over five years to consolidate and simplify business innovation programming, including the strategic aerospace and defence initiative, the technology demonstration program, and the auto innovation fund, where there is actually an extra $200 million over three years in new funding, our government is leading the way.
Budget 2017 also provides for a venture capital catalyst initiative, with $400 million over three years for late-stage venture capital to young, established businesses with revenues to enhance their operations. Budget 2017 has recognized an identifiable need in our economy, and businesses will benefit from it.
This represents the innovative leadership that the government and budget 2017 delivers for Canadians.
On the topic of infrastructure, budget 2017 provides funding for infrastructure support for the modernization and resiliency of our neighbourhoods and communities. The budget has made a significant investment in public transit projects that would shorten commutes, decrease air pollution, and allow Canadians to spend more time with their families, through an investment of $20.1 billion over 11 years that would be allocated to provinces and transit systems, based on ridership and population.
I am confident that Richmond Hill and York Region Transit will receive a fair share of the funding to put toward local priorities, such as a subway line from Finch subway to the Highway 7 extension for Richmond Hill. This will help a significant portion of my constituency, which will benefit from the expansion of the subway line.
I will now talk about budget 2017's contribution to health care, home care, child care, and affordable housing for Canadians who most need it. I think I speak for all of my colleagues in the House when I say that Canada's publicly funded universal health care system is a source of national pride. It is also an essential foundation for a strong, fair, and prosperous nation.
As of today, the federal government has reached new health funding agreements with 12 provinces and territories that have accepted their share of $11 billion over 10 years to provide enhanced health care for all Canadians, including as well funding for home care and mental health support. Of this funding, $1.9 billion will be allocated in support of mental health initiatives in Ontario. Improving mental health services directly impacts the riding of Richmond Hill, giving support where it is definitely needed. In addition, $2.3 billion will be dedicated to better home care in Ontario, including addressing critical home care infrastructure requirements.
I know this funding will help to break down barriers for individuals, families, and communities, such as mine, that prevent them from receiving better care and reaching their fullest potential.
In addition, the budget allocates $3.2 billion dollars to provinces and territories for a federal-provincial partnership to support affordable housing. This will be helpful to Canada's seniors, persons with disabilities, and to others needing accessibility modifications, helping them to live independently. Furthermore, $5 billion will be invested over the next 11 years for a new national housing fund to address critical housing issues faced by the most vulnerable members of society.
In addition, the government proposes to allocate $7 billion over 10 years to support and create more high-quality, affordable child care spaces across the country. I know many hard-working individuals and families in my riding who can benefit extremely from this funding by making it easier for them to find safe, adequate, and affordable places to live with quality and affordable child care.
Budget 2017 puts people first. It delivers the help that Canadians need. It is an essential step to restoring prosperity to Canada's middle class. It provides new opportunities for our youth and seniors by equipping them with skills that they need. Budget 2017 encourages job creation, entrepreneurship, and business innovation. The budget also provides much-needed assistance for infrastructure. It also supports more and better home care, mental health support, child care support, and affordable housing for all Canadians.
I am proud to stand behind budget 2017. It is the right road map for our country and the efforts of our government to restore prosperity to the middle class.
View Rona Ambrose Profile
It is my pleasure to rise on behalf of our Conservative caucus and all Canadians who are concerned that their tax dollars are not being respected to respond to the Liberal Budget.
I have had many opportunities to travel this country, and I have seen first-hand how the job-killing policies this Prime Minister promotes are hurting families and businesses.
It is my pleasure to rise on behalf of our Conservative caucus and all Canadians who are concerned that their tax dollars are not being respected, to respond to the Liberal budget. As Conservatives and as the official opposition, we are here proudly as the voice of the taxpayers.
I have had the opportunity to travel this country quite a bit in this role, and I have seen first-hand how the job-killing policies the Prime Minister promotes are hurting families and businesses. In Medicine Hat, I visited a greenhouse that is set to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars, in fact exactly $750,000, to accommodate the Prime Minister's new carbon tax at $50 a tonne.
On Canada's proud east coast, I met families who are finding it harder and harder to save after the government hiked the cost of textbooks and after-school programs for their kids. The Prime Minister likes to talk about cleaning up the tax code, but he forgets that all of the tax credits that he is taking away from families made life more affordable for them. The truth is that regular Canadians feel like they are being nickel-and-dimed to death by the Prime Minister.
He promised a lot in the election. He made a lot of commitments, but now it seems like a lot of rhetoric. For all the money that he spent, and for all the taxes Canadians have to pay, what are the results? The Prime Minister is now in his second budget, clinging to this failed Liberal idea of taxing and spending because it seems impossible for him to understand what regular Canadians are actually going through out there.
Canadians needed a break. That is what they were hoping for in this budget, but they did not get one. We, on this side of the House, are not surprised. After all, this is the same government that broke its promise to lower taxes on small businesses, broke its promise to limit its deficit spending to only $10 billion, and broke its promise to balance the budget, all within six months.
These broken promises are proof to Canadians that the Prime Minister does not understand the everyday challenges families and workers are facing.
Canadians are not looking for bigger, shinier promises that will cost millions but never arrive. They are looking for common-sense solutions to the most pressing problems.
What are those most pressing problems? They are about getting new jobs for our young people, and people keeping their jobs and getting to keep more of their hard-earned money while the Prime Minister makes life more expensive.
I was at a function this morning with a lot of small business owners. One of them said that he works 15 hours a day, seven days a week, and in this budget the Prime Minister says he is going to target small business owners because he thinks they are sheltering money. That small business owner said that he invests every cent he has back in his business. He buys new equipment, hires another employee, and expands his business, and the Prime Minister thinks that somehow he is using the tax system to hide taxes.
This is the kind of attitude the Prime Minister has toward small business owners. This year's budget is just a sequel to last year's budget of his nickel-and-dime plan. Last year, it was textbook and education tax credits, which were cancelled. That cost families up to $600 per student. The Prime Minister made after-school programs more expensive, to the tune of hundreds of dollars. For a regular family, hundreds of dollars is a lot of money. If a family can write off an expensive registration for hockey, soccer camp, arts classes, or piano lessons, that is a big deal to a family, and those are all gone.
The Prime Minister steamed ahead with the higher small business tax. He got rid of the hiring tax credit for small businesses, which are struggling across the country. They want to hire more people.
We need to provide them with those incentives. Why would he take away an incentive to hire more people in this country? This year they are raising money off the backs of small businesses again by hiking EI premiums and CPP premiums.
They are raising taxes on Canadians who use the bus. Really? If a person takes the bus to work every day, or to school every day, and likes to enjoy a beer at the end of the day, guess what? They are taxing that too. They are even taxing our Saturday night plans. If we want to grab an Uber to go to the pub to have a glass of wine with friends, or a beer, they are taxing all of that. They are taxing Uber ride-sharing. They are taxing our wine, our beer. Why? It is because they are looking for every possible cent they can find in the sofa cushions to fund more government spending.
In short, they are making everyday life more expensive for regular Canadians. What do they have to show for it? They promised more growth. Guess what? There is none.
Despite continuing to squeeze taxpayers, there is not even in this budget new support for the Canadian men and women in uniform who help keep us safe. The Prime Minister just does not seem to get it. The more we watch him, it is like he does not understand what regular people are going through out there.
This budget is proof that the Prime Minister is out of touch with the needs of working people. Any family across this country will tell you the anxiety they feel about losing their job. Any student will tell you that their biggest anxiety is whether or not there will be a job for them when they graduate, a job that pays enough to cover their student loan payment and maybe a car loan payment someday. They have reason to worry because wages are not going up, and the jobs out there offer fewer hours of work, which means less money in their pockets.
This budget is proof that the Prime Minister is out of touch with the needs of working people, because any families we talk to across the country will tell us about the anxiety they feel about maybe losing their jobs. Students will tell us that their biggest anxiety is whether there is going to be a job to look for when they finally graduate, a job that will pay enough for them to be able to buy a car one day, get a car loan, get a house or a condo, and pay back a student loan. They have reason to worry, because wages are not going up and the jobs out there on offer are offering fewer hours of work, meaning less money in their pockets.
For all the Prime Minister's grandstanding plans, let us remember back to the election. He promised to not raise taxes; he has raised them. He promised to balance the budget; he has not. He promised to spend $10 billion on infrastructure, such as roads and bridges, which is what most people think of as infrastructure; he has not. What do we have for it? Less growth. We are not seeing the growth he promised, so what is all this spending for?
With an aggressive American administration looking to attract every available job to its side of the border, time is running out to get serious. This budget missed a huge opportunity to protect the Canadian economy from the policies of the Trump administration. We were all waiting for it. We were hoping that he would recalibrate. This is a real threat to our economy. That country is our biggest competitor and our biggest customer. There is a lot on the line. There is a potential border adjustment tax. There are potential changes to NAFTA. He had a chance to change course, and he did not.
Lower taxes and less red tape are the tools to do exactly that to keep us competitive. However, instead of competitive solutions, the Prime Minister offers, and we are not surprised, more spending. As for his buzz words programs, how do I say this? I think yesterday they even invented new words. I thought that was a George Bush thing, but now, apparently, our Prime Minister invents new words as well. These kinds of programs do not reach the vast majority of Canadians. They will never see a benefit from these kinds of programs, as great as the Prime Minister thinks they are. All those people out there who are waiting for a signal from the government are the ones who are going to face much more intense competition from a low-cost, low-tax United States.
If the Liberals think people's jobs are fashionable enough that they might make a good photo-op after the budget, the Prime Minister might show up there. There is a good chance that they might be able to get a photo with him. They will be lucky. If they have a super cluster venture capital accelerator, then they are in luck, because this budget was made for them, but I do not think there are a lot of them in Portage—Lisgar. Maybe one day.
The truth is that graduates are looking at this and saying that they are struggling to pay off debt, let alone save a bit of money. They are looking at this budget and thinking, “What's in it for me”, because that is what people look for. There is not a lot. There is not a lot in it for the guy who is working on the oil drilling rig. There is not a lot in it for the person running a family farm. If someone drives a truck or owns a hair salon, those jobs are not fashionable to the current Prime Minister, and there is nothing in this budget for them. I hate to break it to those people, and it is not funny, but those jobs are not Liberal favourites. The Liberals are picking favourites, and the rest of the workforce will pay for it. The rest of the people in this country, families and businesses, will pay for that.
As it stands, these billion dollar programs are not really about the average working Canadian. Families and businesses were looking to this budget for a sign that the Prime Minister had done his homework, figured out a plan, and would be moving beyond his haphazard tax-and-spend approach.
As it stands, these billion-dollar programs are not really about the average working family. They really are not. Families and businesses were looking for a sign in this budget from the Prime Minister that he had done his homework, that he had listened, that he had figured out a plan and would be moving beyond this haphazard tax-and-spend approach. However, the opposite is true. There is actually no fiscal plan in the budget. An economist made mention of that yesterday. When is the last time there was a budget with no fiscal plan? There is no fiscal plan. There is no plan to return to balance. There is no appreciation of what this will cost. There is no accounting for the programs and the jobs they will create. There is no costing or measurement of the amount of GDP associated with these programs. The Liberals have not done their homework.
Despite the Prime Minister's promise to return to balance, he admitted yesterday that he has no intention whatsoever of returning to balance. Not only did the Prime Minister break his solemn commitment during the election to spend only $10 billion, but the upcoming deficit for this year is $29 billion. In fact, since November of last year, which is just six months, the Prime Minister blew through an additional $13 billion. Taxpayer money has disappeared into a black hole of photo ops and international trips, which have produced zero growth. Let me rephrase that. There is growth. Do members know where that growth is? It is in the size of government. Yesterday, the comment was made that this is unprecedented growth in modern times. That is how it was described. There has been 12% growth in the size of government. When taxpayers look at that, they think, “What is happening? That is not the bargain we were told we were going to get when the Prime Minister got elected.”
The budget also admits that the Prime Minister's infrastructure plan is not on track. It is right there in black and white. Very little of the billion dollars that was earmarked has gone to roads and highways and ports. It sounded like a good idea. We want shovels in the ground. We want people working. Those are the kinds of things Canadians expected when he said he was going to spend on infrastructure. That is not what happened. The construction sector has actually declined by 3.3%. Money is not getting out. Projects are not being built. Shovels are not in the ground. That means that jobs were not created in the construction business.
What is worse, the Prime Minister has not ruled out the idea of selling off Canadian airports to pay for an infrastructure plan that he even admits in this budget, still, after two years, is vague and unfinished. Let us be clear about that. The Prime Minister is still considering selling off Canada's airports to fund what amounts to a $40-billion shot in the dark for an infrastructure bank. Remember, the infrastructure bank was never mentioned in the election. This was not a promise the Prime Minister made. However, guess what? Canadians will be paying for it.
Something else that is very concerning in this budget is the notion of targeting small business owners. There is a shot across the bow in this budget that is very concerning for small business owners. If they are professionals, people who are accountants, doctors, dentists, lawyers, physiotherapists, chiropractors, and I could name a lot of people who are professionals, who work hard in our communities, who serve their communities, who are small business owners, the Prime Minister thinks they are hiding money in the way they manage their money, and he is coming after them. He has done that in this budget. He is also warning in this budget that he is coming for more.
We know the Liberals are squeezing farmers. They are even squeezing campground owners, who are small business owners. They are squeezing everyone who is a small business owner, because he thinks, as he said in the election, that small businesses are a way to shelter money and that somehow small business owners are cheating the system.
I think back to the guy I talked to this morning who works 15 hours a day, seven days a week. That is what small business owners do, and they take a risk to become small business owners. We should thank them, because they take a risk.
They are not living off the government. They are not living off the taxpayer. They have taken a risk and invested their hard-earned dollars to create jobs and to invest in the community. Many of them give back to the community through charitable donations and community work. These are the people who are the backbone of our economy, small business owners, and that is who the government is targeting. Where are its priorities?
Canada's Conservatives are here to be the voice of the taxpayer. Taxpayers are regular Canadians: moms and dads, workers and small business owners, seniors and students. All of them have been hit by Liberal tax hikes generated by reckless Liberal spending. Canada’s Conservatives will fight to keep money in everyone's pockets at every turn. However, this Prime Minister does not get that.
I will end by saying that Canada's Conservatives are here to be the voice of the taxpayer. Taxpayers are regular Canadians: moms and dads, workers and small business owners, seniors and students. All of them have been hit by Liberal tax hikes generated by this Liberal reckless spending, and Canada's Conservatives will fight to keep more money in the pockets of taxpayers.
Why? I think back to the fellow I talked to this morning and so many other people I have met across the country. They have worked hard, with early mornings, late nights, and long commutes. They have made sacrifices for their families. The Prime Minister does not seem to get that.
We know that responsible governing today will make the decisions of tomorrow far less difficult. Now it is time for the Prime Minister to get serious. There is about to be far more competition from our southern neighbour, which is drastically cutting taxes and reducing red tape in an effort to spur job growth and draw business investment to its side of the border.
For the second time, Canadians were hoping to see a plan from the Prime Minister's budget , and unfortunately, they have come away disappointed.
With that, I move:
That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word “That” and substituting the following,
this House not approve the budgetary policy of the government as it: (a) includes a further deficit of at least $29 billion; (b) contains no plan to return the books to balance; (c) nickel-and-dimes Canadian taxpayers to death by hiking taxes on public transit users, Uber and ride-sharing, beer and wine, donated medicine, childcare, small business owners; and (d) demonstrates that the government's economic plan has failed to create the jobs it promised.
View Alexandre Boulerice Profile
Mr. Speaker, I guess the hon. leader of the official opposition will agree with us that this is in fact a budget for members of the Rideau Club and those working hard to join it.
Unfortunately, this is once again a Liberal budget of broken promises. The Liberals voted in favour of the motion to put an end to poverty among indigenous children. The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ordered the government to invest $155 million to address that issue, but there is nothing in the budget about it. The Liberals promised to close the tax loophole for stock options for CEOs, but there is nothing in the budget about that. They promised to lower the tax rate for SMEs, but there is nothing in the budget about that either. However, there are some surprises. There are unpleasant surprises for families and the middle class. For example, the Liberals have done away with the tax credit of $150 to $200 a year for people who take the bus to work.
I would like to hear what the Leader of the Opposition thinks about this Liberal measure that is going to hurt families across Canada.
View Rona Ambrose Profile
Mr. Speaker, I agree with the hon. member's comment about a budget that is not for regular working people. I love that comment about this being for the elites and friends of the Liberal Party. This is what the budget is about.
The member talked about bus passes. This is mean-spirited. Why would the Liberals take away a benefit for people who take the bus every day to school? This tax credit allowed people to get almost two months of free bus passes back on their tax return. Seniors use this. Students use this. Low-income Canadians use this.
This is not a budget for regular working people, and it's not just about the people getting to work and back, but the people who want to work those 15 hours a day to actually own a small business one day. They want a return on their investment and they are thinking about taking that risk. How do we encourage them to take a risk? If there is a reward at the end of the day, if they work those 15 hours day, then they are going to get to build a business, to hire people, to actually keep some of their own money. What a wonderful opportunity for them and their community, but what are we doing? We are telling them they are tax cheats. That is what this budget does. We are coming after small business owners now.
It is everything from campground owners to people who operate a family-owned farm. This is ridiculous. This has to end.
We will be the voice of the taxpayers, and we will stand up for families and stand up for small businesses.
View Gérard Deltell Profile
View Gérard Deltell Profile
2017-03-23 13:29 [p.9938]
Mr. Speaker, it is always a pleasure for me to rise in the House, but obviously I am very disappointed.
I am very disappointed today to speak on this budget that, unfortunately, keeps going down the wrong path that the Liberal government wanted to take a year ago. The government has completely lost control of public spending. It is living beyond its means, it is leaving spiralling debt for our children, our grandchildren and our great-grandchildren who, unfortunately, will have to pay for the current government’s mismanagement.
It was not surprising, three days ago, to see the Minister of Finance all happy and proud, as is the tradition, to be able to launch his budget with a photo session, what in the business is called a photo op, surrounded by a group of children. What is clear is that he was surrounded by those who are going to have to pay later for today’s mistakes. That is the defining mark of the current Minister of Finance's second budget.
The government got elected, we sadly recall, almost two years ago on a formal commitment: to run very small deficits for three years of a maximum of $10 billion and to return to a balanced budget in 2019.
Basically, this was not a good election promise. However, we are democrats. We respect public opinion. The people spoke in October 2015 and elected the Liberal Party, which promised to run very small deficits. Had they run very small deficits, we would not have been happy, but we would have at least respected those who kept their word.
However, that is not the case here. Within months of getting elected, here we have them wallowing in a spending spree, completely breaking their election promise to run very small deficits. In the first year, we saw this government run a deficit that according to the books is $23 billion.
Let us not be fooled: the reality is that this government took the $6 billion financial cushion, which was to provide the necessary flexibility for unforeseen circumstances, not to deal with emerging economic issues, but to deal with its mismanagement. The reality is that the first year of this government resulted in a $29-billion deficit. This is three times worse than expected.
The government's latest budget does not deviate from that path: deficits, deficits, and more deficits. This year, $28.5 billion; next year, $27.4 billion; $23.4 billion in 2019-20; and $21.7 billion and $18.8 billion in the years after that. How very typical of this government: deficits in the tens and tens of billions of dollars.
The Liberal plan was to balance the budget in 2019-20. That is what millions of Canadians voted for. Instead, the Liberal Party will be partying it up with a deficit approaching $24 billion. That is typical Liberal government, and we will not stand for it.
When I say “we”, I do not mean just the Conservative Party, the party that balanced the books and left Canada on sound financial footing, the party that, under the leadership of the Right Honourable Stephen Harper and experienced ministers including John Flaherty and Joe Oliver, made sure that Canada emerged from the worst financial crisis this country has seen since the 1920s faster and in better shape than any other country.
We left the house in order and a $2.9 billion surplus. When I raised this point a few days ago, the Prime Minister refused to answer my question and spouted a bunch of nonsense about how it was not true. It is. If he cannot see that, could he at least believe the parliamentary budget officer who, at the request of Senator Larry Smith, determined that our government left a $2.9 billion surplus? We were careful about that. We were careful with government finances.
Should we be surprised by the Liberal government's lack of vision and finesse with respect to financial responsibility? Mr. Speaker, I do not know where you were and, honestly, I do not remember where I was on October 10. What I do know is that the Minister of Finance was in his office.
What did he have on his desk on October 10, 2016? He had a report signed by his own officials that concluded very clearly on page 14 that if Canada did not change course, the budget would not be balanced until 2055 and we would be $1.5 trillion in debt by 2050—incidentally, $1 trillion is $1,000 billion. In other words, the Liberals missed their mark by 36 years. Even worse, they have absolutely no plan to balance the budget.
Mr. Speaker, in your personal life, if you exceed your budget and go into debt, year after year, do you think that one day someone might knock on your door and tell you to get your act together? I know you are an honourable man, but it could happen to anyone.
How is it that the people who control a budget of $330 billion could lose sight of what all parents and Canadians know? That is what does not make sense. Even worse, the Minister of Finance was so proud to have that report on his desk, a report written by his own officials that said that if nothing changed, we would not return to a balanced budget until 2055, that he kept it all to himself for 10 whole weeks.
If such a damning report were written about me, I too might want to stick it in a desk and pretend that it did not exist. The Minister of Finance's primary responsibility is to face facts and to face the 35 million Canadians who pay his salary. That proves he did not have a clear conscience. It is hard to have a clear conscience after getting elected on a promise to return to a balanced budget by 2019 only to have that turn into 2055.
Worse yet, the government squandered an opportunity to turn things around with this budget. It chose to stay on the same path, the path to deficits, the path to debt, and the path to transferring debt to our children and grandchildren, who are going to pay the price for this mismanagement.
The Conservative Party is not alone in crying foul. Yesterday, on RDI, a Radio-Canada/CBC station, René Vézina, an economist, said, “The fact remains that there is quite a bit of red ink. There is no end in sight.”
It makes no sense, we need to know that much. What if the minister had told us that, well, we are spending quite a bit, but in seven, eight or nine years, we will be back to a balanced budget. That would not have been great, but at least there would have been a game plan, a vision, an action plan. We would know where we were going. This is not the case. There is no vision about the future of public finances, nothing. This is completely unacceptable.
That is what led Mr. Vézina to say that this is nonsense. That is also what led Carl Vallée, spokesperson for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, to say that it does not make sense and that “the fact there is no sign of returning to a balanced budget soon is very troubling and certainly the most disappointing aspect of this budget”.
This is the reality and that is why we have to be careful.
What about Michel Girard, economist and analyst with Quebecor’s QMI, LCN and TVA? He said that this is a big spending budget, that “the federal debt is out of control” and that we are lucky we currently have low interest rates. However, sooner or later, interest rates are likely to rise and each percentage point increase means an extra $6 billion or $7 billion.
François Pouliot of Les Affaires wrote that “the goal of any government should be to protect its credit rating for the future and to get on a better financial footing for the next generation”.
That is exactly the opposite of what this government is doing. It makes no sense. There is a complete loss of control when it comes to taxpayers’ dollars.
There are other worrisome aspects, such as tax increases that will be borne by taxpayers and the elimination of certain tax credits put in place by our government. First, the government decided to come up with the Friday and Saturday night tax. The government is now charging a new additional tax on alcohol, tobacco, and the like, so when a Canadian worker, who has worked hard all week, seeing half of his paycheque going to taxes, wants to have a cold beer with his friends on Friday night, he will have an extra tax to pay, thanks to this good government.
On Saturday evening, hard-working fathers or mothers who want to enjoy a good meal with their spouse and go buy a nice bottle of wine will now have to pay more thanks to this government. That is because of the Friday and Saturday night tax that this government just imposed. I am not the one saying it, it is an economist. I did not come up with that phrase.
It is not a good idea to raise taxes on alcohol and tobacco. According to the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, this is a major tax increase for consumers. It is a way for the government to take money out of the pockets of those who are going to use these completely legal substances regardless.
The government needs to be very careful about doing that.
What is more, there are dozens of tax credits. If someone had told me two days ago that I was going to say what I am about to say, I would not have believed it possible because we are talking about the Liberals. However, the Liberals are indeed directly attacking people who use public transit. Who would have thought?
This government goes on and on about how much it cares about the environment, unlike the big, bad Conservatives who could not care less. This government says it wants people to use public transit instead of cars. It has even said crazy things about the oil industry, but that is another story. Now it is eliminating the tax credit for transit riders, a tax credit created by the Conservative government.
Who would have thunk it? The Liberals are doing away with a green policy implemented by the Conservatives. That makes no sense.
Who is this move going to hurt? Cash-strapped students who have to scrimp and save. Seniors and people who cannot afford a car. People with modest incomes. People who want to be part of the solution, people with an environmental conscience who care about the planet and want their footprint to be as small as possible, who choose public transit over cars. Those are the people the Liberal government is hurting here. Those are the people the Conservative government protected. It was not a flashy measure, but it was a good one that should not have been axed.
Again, it is not just us big, bad Conservatives saying that. Who else? Our friend Denis Coderre, mayor of Montreal, and former Liberal member and minister is saying the same thing. Denis Coderre is criticizing the Liberal government. I am sensing some scepticism across the way. Allow me to quote an article by Boris Proulx, updated on March 22, 2017, at 6:15 p.m. to be precise: “[Denis Coderre] is disappointed that the budget eliminates the tax credit for transit passes. He sees this as a contradictory measure from the Trudeau government.”
That was Denis Coderre, former minister, former Liberal member in this place, and a good friend of the current Prime Minister, the hon. member for Papineau, as everyone knows. “How can the government fund mega projects in public transit and then stop encouraging Canadians from using it?”, the mayor asks.
I have the same question for the governing party. They do not have to answer me if they do not want to, but let them at least answer their friend Denis Coderre who is questioning their unacceptable contradiction.
The same goes for public transit users, who simply do not understand. On TVA yesterday, people in the street were asked what they thought of that measure. They said it makes no sense. Sure, that tax credit was not going to change the world, but still, it was a little extra incentive. It gave people a bit of breathing room, and they were excited about that. Now the Liberals have decided to punish people who use public transit. It is just ridiculous.
I would point out that there were some other Liberals who were not too happy, either, namely the Quebec provincial government Liberals, under the leadership of the Hon. Philippe Couillard, the Premier of Quebec. We know that there is no link between the provincial Liberal Party and the federal Liberal Party, ever since Jean Lesage in 1965, but they are Liberals nonetheless. Yesterday, the Quebec minister of finance and the president of the Treasury Board were “extremely disappointed”. Here is exactly what senior ministers in the Couillard government said yesterday: “We are extremely disappointed and concerned that there's no clear signal in this budget.” There is nothing in this budget to address Quebec's needs. Pierre Moreau called out his federal counterparts:
I would have liked to hear the Quebec caucus speak up on matters relating to the province's major infrastructure projects.
I am therefore once again asking my government friends from Quebec where they were when it was time to stand up for Quebec at the cabinet table. I have a lot of respect and regard for the member for Louis-Hébert, and he knows that. However, the president of the Quebec treasury board, the hon. Pierre Moreau, believes that the 40 federal MPs from Quebec were mostly silent, restrained, and sidelined during the preparation of the budget. I am therefore calling them to order.
Many people who believed in what this government could do were disappointed by this budget. We, on the other hand, knew full well that the government's approach to managing public funds was wrongheaded.
Now let me talk about innovation.
The current government is very proud of innovation. The Liberals say that this is the budget of innovation, and they talk a lot about innovation. The Globe and Mail reported that the Liberals used the word “innovation” more than 250 times in the budget. This is the key issue of this budget, is it not? The reality is that we are talking about $1 billion for the next five years. It is not bad, and we are not against it, but is it really an innovation budget that they are talking about? Not so much.
More than that, I just want to say something for the members. Yesterday we were around the table with some colleagues working on that, and I had the privilege of sitting with great personalities, great people who served this country well for the past 10 years as ministers. Among them, close to me, was a former minister. She said, “Look at that. They are talking about innovation, but there is nothing new there. We did exactly the same a few years ago, when I was a minister.”
The former Conservative government tabled a plan called “building Canada's innovation economy”. That is exactly what it was. We created that too, and we were not the first government to table that kind of issue, because every government has to address the issue of innovation. Year after year, in the 1960s, the 1970s, the 1980s, and the 1990s, all governments tabled innovation platforms. This is good. We did it, and the Liberals are doing it; fine, but is that worthy of being called brand new? Not at all.
This is why I just want to say to the cabinet minister that we do agree on some issues, especially about innovation, because it is the reality of Canada and the reality of every country that governments have to address the issue of innovation instead of looking at others and doing what they do.
However, the way to help businesses is to lower taxes. With the current government, there is no indication that it wants to address the reality of the Trump administration, which has said day after day that it is going to lower taxes in America. If we do not do that, our companies and businesses will not be able to respond appropriately to our most important partner and our most important competitor.
However, I still want to be a good sport and recognize the good things that this government has done, particularly in this budget, such as the support for family caregivers. This is a sensitive issue that cuts across party lines, and our government made investments. When my colleague from Richmond Centre was in government, she made some good proposals in the area.
We are pleased that the government has decided to implement these measures and to group them in a single program that will move things along. Well done. It is the right thing to do.
Unfortunately, this government missed an historic opportunity to turn things around. It had a golden opportunity to admit that the plan it implemented one and a half years ago has not yielded the desired results. If it does not turn things around and take control of spending we are going to hit a wall and our children and grandchildren will be footing the bill. Unfortunately, this government failed on that account.
The government had a golden occasion to say it would get back to controlling public spending, but unfortunately it failed. It has only created a budget that is a manufacturer of deficit. This is why we urge all the members here to reject this bad budget.
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