Mr. Speaker, I have the honour today to give a speech in response to the government's budget. Many of my colleagues, whether on my side of the aisle or the other side, have already given speeches about this budget, but today I am not here to simply support the budget blindly or criticize it for ideological or political gain. I am here today to speak from the heart. I am here to speak on behalf of my constituents. I am here to make clear to the members of this House how most Canadians from Calgary Forest Lawn feel about this budget.
Let me start with the short hand dealt to my fellow Albertans. This budget fell short in helping Canada's oil and gas, energy, agriculture and forestry sectors to be global leaders in performance and innovation. While there is money going to some sectors in our economy, there is no plan, as usual. As Adam Legge wrote for the Calgary Herald about this very issue, “It is not rooted in the sound recommendations of the government’s own Industry Strategy Council.”
While the government may say that this money will create a fancy new future and make jobs, the truth is that it is more lip service to Albertans. To the single mother who is a field project manager, to the Muslim sister who just got her citizenship and a job in our energy industry as a chemical engineer, and to the eighth-generation roughneck worker in the oil fields, it is very clear that the government has forgotten about them. It has forgotten about the average working class that has made this country great.
While the government's new budget makes life harder for my constituents to earn money, it also makes daily living more expensive and creates great harm for our children and future generations. April's inflation rate was 3.4%. That means the cost of goods is now 3.4% higher, on average. Many of my constituents have been laid off or have taken a massive pay decrease due to this pandemic. Many Canadians are living paycheque to paycheque, and this was even before the pandemic. Many Canadians cannot afford to pay more for basic necessities due to the Prime Minister's reckless spending and budget.
In April, our economy saw 207,000 jobs lost, with an unemployment rate above 8%. What is the solution? It is spending more, says the finance minister. According to her, it is an ideal time to borrow because interest rates are low. That is interesting, because as the global economy recovers, the interest rates are actually rising, and that has been the trend for the last few months. The cost of debt repayment has now reached a skyrocketing $22 billion per year. That means $22 billion less for our seniors, veterans, the health care system and many other important systems and groups that need this money.
Of course, as Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman once said, “There is no such thing as a free lunch.” Who will pay for this lunch, one may ask. It will be our children, their children and their children's children, and so on. I am already talking to many students who cannot find internships, who are in crippling debt, who struggle with many mental health issues due to this pandemic and even before. Now more over-stressed and with lack of employment due to our weak economy, what will they say when they find out a few years down the road that they will have to pay for all of this mess, a mess that the Liberal government has put us in?
The key word is “inflation”. For every dollar we print, the value of every dollar falls. It is basic economics. I wish we could print all the money in the world and help everyone, but there is such a thing as scarcity. The government does not understand that, and now our constituents have to suffer.
I also have the privilege of being the official opposition's shadow minister for immigration, refugees and citizenship. How does this budget affect immigration, one may ask. The immigration minister promised that Canada will welcome 401,000 immigrants this year, and still there are massive backlogs. We need immigration. Our working population is aging and, unfortunately, our immigration system is aging with it. This budget does nothing significant to address these backlogs. Families remain separated from their loved ones; parents are missing their children's first steps, birthdays and, in some cases, their births.
Just the other month, I received a call from a constituent saying they wanted to kill themselves because they cannot wait any longer to see their loved ones and cannot bear the isolation of this pandemic. My heart breaks for them.
The detail included in this budget is just a timeline or a promise to deliver a new program by 2023. Ignoring the government's track record with broken promises, pushing this problem down the road is not helping anyone. Families are separated for years. People are waiting for half a decade to have their applications processed, and yet the best the Liberals can do is promise an untested program being launched in the future.
There are also no details on whether the government will work with experts, national and cybersecurity professionals or even immigration experts to develop a platform that truly works for Canadians. There cannot be a strong recovery without a strong plan for immigration. What Canada needs now is a smarter immigration system that focuses on our resources and on making Canada a more welcoming place full of opportunity and potential.
A Conservative government will work to replace Liberal platitudes with a system that actually works again, one that does not leave families separated and desperate for hope but hopeful for a prosperous life in Canada.
Again, the government will point and blame when it hears these facts about its budget. Of course it will blame the pandemic and say it stalled efforts for economic recovery and the advancement of the immigration system, but the new question is, what is the government doing to reopen Canada safely? The government had a failed plan to procure vaccines, a failed plan to secure our borders to stop variants and a failed plan to support small business and our energy industry in withstanding the negative effects of this pandemic.
Just recently, a Calgary-based company that was making a vaccine for COVID-19 said it is leaving Canada, after the government ignored its calls for support. The goal is to retain Canadian talent, not drive it away. Before this pandemic, the government's policies against our world-class energy industry led to investment fleeing. I personally saw the tradespeople I dealt with having to lay off their workers and having to go back onto the field themselves. They blame the Liberal government's policies and inaction to help support them.
I ask people, even in the toughest of times and with a bad budget, to stay strong. To the small business owners, the families living paycheque to paycheque and those trying to start a new life in our great country, I say not to give up, not to lose hope, for what makes our country great is the people, not its government or fancy budget plans that do very little to help the little guy.
We are stronger together, and I stand here on behalf of my constituents to speak up against this budget and expose whom it is hurting: the everyday Canadian. Inflation due to this out-of-control spending does not really hurt the rich and privileged that bad. Whom it does hurt is the single mother from Calgary who is struggling to pay for her kids' schooling and groceries, the bus driver from Toronto trying to afford his mortgage, and the family-run restaurant owner from P.E.I. who has to close up shop for good because the government could not secure the vaccines fast enough, unlike our counterparts.
I came to this country as an immigrant and I grew up as an at-risk youth. I still remember the raindrops hitting my face as my family and I waited in line for low-income bus passes. I still remember seeing my parents and myself working multiple jobs to make ends meet and to survive. I do not want to see that struggle for my children or anyone's children, or in fact any Canadian. We came to this country to enjoy prosperity, not government debt and a crippling economy.
A Conservative government will have a real plan, made by the experts and guided by the everyday Canadian. We will have a fresh new vision of hope, so that no matter where people came from, who they are or when they arrived here, they will have a chance to live the Canadian dream, just as I and many members of this House did.
As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “We must accept finite disappointment, but we must never lose infinite hope.” Together we will fix this mistake, together we will recover this economy and together we will all grow.
May God keep our land glorious and free.