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View Marc Serré Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Marc Serré Profile
2021-04-20 10:04 [p.5825]
Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1), I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian Section of ParlAmericas respecting its participation at the 12th gathering of the ParlAmericas Parliamentary Network for Gender Equality, held virtually on September 23 and October 2, 2020.
View Blaine Calkins Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blaine Calkins Profile
2021-04-20 10:05 [p.5825]
moved for leave to introduce Bill C-289, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (sentencing).
He said: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to table this important piece of legislation. For many rural communities across Canada, crime has reached a crisis point. Rural Canadians too often do not feel safe in their own homes, many are victimized, often they have given up reporting property crime altogether and they cannot get affordable insurance, if they can get any insurance at all. My constituents are tired of being victims. They are tired of the revolving door of the justice system and of crime not being taken seriously. They are losing faith in the justice system because too often it works in favour of the criminals, to the detriment of the community and the victim.
My bill is taking a step toward protecting these vulnerable Canadians and putting the needs of lawful citizens ahead of criminals. It would create a new aggravating factor at sentencing for crimes committed where there is evidence that the offence was directed at a person or a person's property that is experiencing increased vulnerability due to remoteness from emergency, medical or police services. It would make the aggravating factor associated with home invasion more inclusive of rural properties by ensuring outlying structures are included. It would ensure that the use or possession of a weapon in home invasions can trigger the aggravating factor and ensure that if offenders do something so egregious that they do not receive bail, the judge considers that rationale for why they remain in custody when giving credit for time served.
I want to thank all of my colleagues for helping me with this bill, my colleague from Lakeland and all of the citizens in Alberta, who helped me come up with this idea.
View Gérard Deltell Profile
CPC (QC)
View Gérard Deltell Profile
2021-04-20 10:07 [p.5825]
Mr. Speaker, I am tabling the following petition in the House of Commons.
We, the undersigned citizens of Canada, draw the attention of the House of Commons to the following:
Whereas, a new report published by the Associated Press has revealed that there has been an ongoing campaign of Uyghur birth suppression by the Chinese Communist Party which includes methods such as forced sterilization and abortion; and,
Whereas, in addition to the recent news of coordinated Uyghur birth suppression, there is also a body of mounting evidence showing that Uyghurs are being subject to political and anti-religious indoctrination, arbitrary detention, separation of children from families, invasive surveillance, destruction of cultural sites, forced labor, and even forced organ harvesting; moreover, it is estimated that up to three million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities have been detained in what have been described as concentration camps; and,
Whereas, evidence now makes clear that the Chinese Government's treatment of the Uyghurs meets most, if not all, of the criteria for genocide as outlined in the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide; and,
Whereas, Canada cannot remain silent in the face of this ongoing atrocity.
Therefore we, the undersigned, call on the House of Commons to take the following actions to address the situation:
1. Formally recognize that Uyghurs in China have been and are being subject to genocide.
2. Use the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act ("Magnitsky Act") and sanction those that are responsible for the heinous crimes being committed against the Uyghur people.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
I would like to remind members to be concise and specific and make sure they do not take too much time.
View Arnold Viersen Profile
CPC (AB)
View Arnold Viersen Profile
2021-04-20 10:09 [p.5826]
Mr. Speaker, I am presenting several petitions this morning.
The first petition is from Canadians across the country, and these petitioners are calling the attention of this place to the prime importance especially relating to human death and Bill C-7 and the current amendments that would protect those suffering from mental illness.
Petitioners are calling on the government to support measures to protect human life, as all human life should be regarded with great respect from conception to natural death. Petitioners say that we should support Canadians who are most vulnerable and defenceless and not facilitate their death.
View Arnold Viersen Profile
CPC (AB)
View Arnold Viersen Profile
2021-04-20 10:13 [p.5826]
Mr. Speaker, the second petition I am presenting today is from Canadians across the country who are concerned we are the only G7 nation in which the use of sound moderators is not allowed. They say this is a violation of section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Sound moderators, for the firearms community, dramatically increase the safety of their use in preventing folks from losing their hearing. They are calling on the government to allow for a legal acquisition possession in the use of sound moderators on firearms by all licensed firearm owners in Canada and call upon the provinces and territories to amend provincial and territorial prohibitions and allow the use of sound moderators while engaging in all legal hunting and sport shooting activities.
View Arnold Viersen Profile
CPC (AB)
View Arnold Viersen Profile
2021-04-20 10:13 [p.5826]
Mr. Speaker, the next petition I am presenting today is from Canadians across Canada who are concerned about Bill C-6 and the definition of conversion therapy.
Petitioners are calling on the government to fix the definition. They are also calling on the government to ban conversion therapy, a degrading practice designed to change a person's sexual orientation; ensure there are no laws discriminating against Canadians that would limit the services they could receive based on their sexual orientation; allow parents to speak to their own children about sexuality and gender, to set house rules about sex and relationships and to allow free and open conversations about sexuality and sexual behaviour; and avoid criminalizing professional and religious counselling voluntarily requested by consenting Canadians.
View Arnold Viersen Profile
CPC (AB)
View Arnold Viersen Profile
2021-04-20 10:13 [p.5826]
Mr. Speaker, the next petition I am presenting today is from petitioners across Canada who are calling on the government to recognize sexual explicit material online is many times depicting sexual violence and could be easily accessed by young people. The consumption of sexually explicit material by young persons is associated with a wide range of harms, including pornography addiction, the reinforcing of gender stereotypes, and the development of attitudes favourable to harassment and violence, including sexual harassment and sexual violence particularly against women.
Petitioners are calling on the government to recognize the harmful impacts of the increasing accessibility of sexually explicit material online for young persons. They are calling on the quick passage of Bill S-203 in the other place and for the government to recognize it. They are calling for the government to rapidly pass this bill.
View Arnold Viersen Profile
CPC (AB)
View Arnold Viersen Profile
2021-04-20 10:13 [p.5826]
Madam Speaker, the final petition I have this morning draws attention to the plight of the Uighur people. When we in this country say “never again”, we do mean never again. I am not sure if members have had a chance to see the pictures of the Uighurs lined up on the train station platform being loaded on to trains, but the plight of the Uighurs is an incredible thing that we are called in this place to recognize.
Petitioners are calling for the government to formally recognize the Uighur situation in China, the plight of the Uighurs in the face of the communist government there, to recognize that as a genocide and to use the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act, also known as the Magnitsky act, to sanction those responsible for these heinous crimes so when we say never again we mean never again.
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
CPC (SK)
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
2021-04-20 10:13 [p.5826]
Madam Speaker, I have two petitions to present to the House today.
The first petition brings to the attention of the House that conversion therapy has historically referred to coercive, degrading actions that seek to change a person's sexual orientation or gender identity which are wrong and should be banned. Bill C-6 defines conversion therapy as “a practice, treatment or service designed to change a person's sexual orientation to heterosexual, to change a person's gender identity or gender expression to cisgender or to repress or reduce non-heterosexual attraction or sexual behaviour or non-cisgender gender expression”. This broad definition, the petitioners indicate, wrongly applies the label “conversion therapy” to a broad range of practices, including counsel from parents, teachers and counsellors encouraging children to reduce sexual behaviour.
Bill C-6 expressly allows counselling, medical and surgical efforts to change a child's gender, but prohibits support for a child seeking to de-transition to his or her birth gender. Bill C-6 could restrict the choices of LGBTQ2 Canadians concerning sexuality and gender by prohibiting access to any professional or spiritual support freely chosen to limit sexual behaviour or de-transition.
Petitioners are calling on the House of Commons to take the following actions: ban coercive, degrading practices that are designed to change a person's sexual orientation or gender identity; ensure that no laws discriminate limiting the services that individuals can receive; allow parents to speak with their own children and to set their own house rules; allow free and open conversations about sexuality and behaviour; and avoid criminalizing professional and religious counselling voluntarily requested and consented to by Canadians.
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
CPC (SK)
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
2021-04-20 10:16 [p.5827]
Madam Speaker, my second petition is in regard to the ongoing campaign against the Uighur people by the Chinese Communist Party. It involves such things as forced sterilizations and abortions for birth suppression, subjecting them to political and anti-religious indoctrination, arbitrary detention, separation of children from families, invasive surveillance, destruction of cultural sites, forced labour and even forced organ harvesting.
It is estimated that up to approximately three million Uighurs and other Muslim minorities have been detained in what have been described as concentration camps. Evidence now clearly indicates that the Chinese government's treatment of the Uighurs meets most if not all of the criteria of genocide as outlined in the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.
These individuals, like so many, are calling on our government to formally recognize that the Uighurs in China have been subjected and are being subject to genocide and to use the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act, the Magnitsky act, and sanction those who are responsible for the heinous crimes being committed against the Uighur people.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2021-04-20 10:17 [p.5827]
Madam Speaker, on a point of order, the Speaker just prior had indicated to members about the length of speaking on petitions and I just want to reinforce this. I did not want to interrupt the member, but when presenting a petition, members should be sticking specifically to the petition and it does not necessarily mean that one reads the petition. It is supposed to encapsulate the essence of it briefly and hold back on the commentaries. I just wanted to reinforce what the Speaker had said earlier.
View Alexandra Mendès Profile
Lib. (QC)
That is noted.
The hon. member for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke.
View Cheryl Gallant Profile
CPC (ON)
Madam Speaker, I am disappointed my greatest fan interrupted me before I even got started.
I, too, am presenting a petition to have the Uighurs recognized in such a way that the people who are pushing it forward are prevented from benefiting further by invoking the Magnitsky act. We know the government finally agreed to declare this horrible act a genocide, but we need to go further.
I hope that satisfies my greatest fan.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Madam Speaker, I want to congratulate my friend from Winnipeg North on his campaign for Speaker. I am sure we will be hearing more views from him on the rules in the coming days.
I have three petitions to present to the House today.
The first petition is in support of Bill S-204, a bill that would criminalize Canadians going abroad to receive organs that have been taken through forced organ harvesting and trafficking.
I am pleased to share with the House that the bill has just passed the committee stage in the Senate and will be headed very soon for third reading. I congratulate Senator Ataullahjan and all the senators involved in that important work.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Madam Speaker, the second petition is with respect to the ongoing humanitarian situation in the Tigray region of Ethiopia. The petitioners draw the attention of the House to the human rights abuses involved in the conflict, as well as the ongoing humanitarian challenges. They call on the Canadian government to be strongly engaged with the governments of both Ethiopia and Eritrea on working to improve the situation.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Madam Speaker, the third and final petition I am tabling this morning is with respect to Bill C-6. The petitioners are very supportive of efforts to ban conversion therapy, but they are very concerned about the drafting of the bill, in particular the definition used for “conversion therapy”. The definition of conversion therapy used in Bill C-6 is like no other definition of conversion therapy used in other statutes, at other levels, that address this practice. The definition is erroneous in such a way that it would restrict private conversations—
View Alexandra Mendès Profile
Lib. (QC)
The hon. member for Timmins—James Bay is rising on a point of order.
View Charlie Angus Profile
NDP (ON)
View Charlie Angus Profile
2021-04-20 10:20 [p.5827]
Madam Speaker, you have clarified the rules regarding petitions. This is not a form of debate; it is just to present petitions. The member is using this as a platform, which is not within the rules.
View Alexandra Mendès Profile
Lib. (QC)
I would ask the hon. member to present the petition succinctly so we can address the rest of the orders of the day.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Madam Speaker, I was finished presenting the petition, but I will say on the point of order that this is a very long petition. It fills up an entire page with text. I think a few sentences offering a summary is not the same as—
View Alexandra Mendès Profile
Lib. (QC)
Now we are getting into debate. Is the hon. member finished presenting petitions?
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Madam Speaker, my comments were with respect to the point of order. I am done presenting petitions, and I have completed my intervention on the point of order.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2021-04-20 10:21 [p.5828]
Madam Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.
View Alexandra Mendès Profile
Lib. (QC)
Is that agreed?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
View Ed Fast Profile
CPC (BC)
View Ed Fast Profile
2021-04-20 10:22 [p.5828]
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise in this House again to continue to respond to the 2021 budget that was tabled by the federal government yesterday.
As so many parliamentarians, members of the media, stakeholders and even some ordinary Canadians have done, I too have spent hours poring over the contents and the backgrounders, the annexes and other finer details of this budget. Since this is the first budget we have seen in over two years, to be true, a dubious record for Canada, and given the unprecedented health and economic circumstances we are in, I was very eager to receive and review the budget to determine what it would mean for Canadians in the short, medium and long term.
Before I get into the details, let me once again congratulate my colleague the Minister of Finance for making history yesterday as the first female finance minister to table a budget in this House. As I said yesterday, this consequential achievement is long overdue. My four daughters will undoubtedly take inspiration from her.
That said, they certainly will not take inspiration from the budget that the minister has laid before us. This is by far the biggest-spending budget in the history of our nation. It has delivered an avalanche of spending the likes of which our country has never seen before, and yet for many this budget will be a major letdown.
With well over two years since the last budget, the government has had ample time to get this right. For way too long, Canadians have been left without a comprehensive plan for our economy to guide us through what has now become the stormiest season of our lifetime. One would have expected that, with so much time to prepare, the government would have offered Canadians renewed hope and confidence that a secure future would still be theirs. One would have expected a revised and hopefully more effective plan to get Canadians vaccinated in short order. One would have expected a clear plan to safely reopen our economy and get Canadians back to work again. One would have also expected a bold strategy to help struggling small businesses back on their feet again. Finally, one would have expected a responsible government to come forward with a credible plan to manage the massive financial consequences of this COVID pandemic, consequences that future generations of Canadians will be saddled with and have to pay for.
Those who were hoping to see these things in the budget will surely be disappointed. This not a budget that has been developed to fight the pandemic; this budget was developed to help Liberals fight an election. Of that, there can be no doubt.
To be sure, there are a number of positive measures in this budget, some of which we will undoubtedly support and promote, especially those that continue to help Canadians through this very difficult time and also those investments that secure our long-term prosperity. They should expect our support for those.
For example, we are pleased to see that the government listened to us and to the many business organizations across Canada and extended the Canada emergency wage and rent subsidies. We are supportive of a number of important small business measures, such as the new hiring incentive program, the promise of lower credit card processing fees, and supports to help businesses move online in a digital economy.
Sadly, what is completely missing from this budget is emergency support for new businesses, which have somehow fallen through the cracks because in early 2020 they did not yet have the established revenues to qualify for the government's emergency support measures. They are still falling through the cracks.
We also support the introduction of a policy that would allow companies to expense the full value of qualified capital investments in the same fiscal year in order to encourage companies to reinject their corporate savings back into our economy on an expedited basis. We welcome the extension of the student loan interest waiver and the making of additional investments in broadband to improve connectivity within Canada.
Similarly, we welcome additional steps to eliminate the interprovincial trade barriers that measurably undermine our economic growth. We also support the decision to extend sick leave for seriously ill Canadians to 26 weeks. This is precisely the type of spending we are inclined to endorse.
We Conservatives have consistently supported the government in its efforts to help Canadians through the health and economic crisis of our lifetime, and members can be sure we will continue to do so, but there is more to a federal budget than just borrowing and spending. Budgets are about promoting economic growth, including the setting of priorities. They are about exercising fiscal prudence and probity and delivering to future generations a bright and economically sustainable future, and that is what is missing in this budget.
In the lead-up to budget day, we provided both the Prime Minister and his finance minister with a list of must-haves for this budget for the government to win our support. These were measures that we believed were absolutely essential to safely reopen our economy, get Canadians back to work again and provide future generations with the hope and confidence that they can still live out their Canadian dream. As I mentioned, a number of these measures have made their way into the budget. It is amazing what happens when the official opposition does its job by prodding and poking the government from time to time, so I commend the minister for acting upon at least some of our asks.
However, instead of creating a sustainable road map for economic recovery, and I emphasize the word “sustainable”, this budget appears to represent a wasted opportunity to do right by future generations of Canadians. It does not deliver a comprehensive plan to position our economy for long-term success. Spending a loan is not an economic plan. The budget fails to sufficiently address the most important structural weaknesses in our economy, including our declining productivity. Nowhere does it meaningfully address the dramatic flight of foreign capital from our country, nor does it commit to comprehensive regulatory and tax reform.
This budget is notable for its marked pivot away from our natural resource sector, another vote of non-confidence in a sector whose contributions to our national prosperity have been immense over the years. There is no mention of our world-leading and ethical oil and gas sector. There is no critical minerals strategy, just half-hearted measures about consultations, research and a centre of excellence. The government's failure to meaningfully address the skyrocketing cost of housing means that millions of Canadians will see their dream of owning a home slip through their fingers. This is another failure.
Some two billion dollars' worth of trade crosses our common border with the U.S. every day, yet the budget scarcely touches on border security and trade facilitation, and it makes no mention whatsoever of what steps are being taken to plan for an eventual safe reopening of our border. The budget also fails to measurably address the state of Canada's health care and, most importantly, the mental health wall that our country faces. Fortunately, our Conservative leader has identified this significant vulnerability and has committed to addressing this challenge in a future Conservative government.
We had called for the current Liberal government to stop supporting and investing taxpayers' money in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which is an institution that delivers no meaningful or measurable benefit to Canadians. With Canada's current bilateral relationship with China in utter disrepair, giving taxpayers' money to this China-led organization is completely futile, indefensible and unacceptable. Did the minister respond to our request? No. For the Liberal government, it is business as usual with the communist regime in Beijing.
We are judging the government's budget not on the quantity but on the quality of its spending. Based on that standard, we have found this budget to be wanting. Notwithstanding the additional benefits that the budget would deliver for Canadians who continue to struggle through this pandemic, measures which we support, it is enormously expensive, as members know, and it would dramatically expand the role of government in the lives of Canadians.
Last year's deficit will be a staggering $354 billion, and the government has no plan whatsoever to eliminate its deficits. Our national debt is expected to reach $1.4 trillion this year, with the government signalling that this debt is likely to hit an eye-popping $1.8 trillion by 2025. That is why the Liberals asked for an increase in the debt ceiling to $1.83 trillion.
Presumably with this in mind, the Prime Minister gave the finance minister a revised mandate letter in which he laid out three clear directives to safeguard our national finances. Those directives were: first, avoid creating new permanent spending; second, review Canada's debt management strategy; and third, present a new fiscal anchor. That is the standard the Prime Minister himself has set, and Canadians should be able to take him at his word. Therefore, we are going to measure this budget against that standard.
How did the Prime Minister and his finance minister do?
Let us look for a moment at permanent spending. Remember that the finance minister was instructed to have no new permanent spending. Instead of complying with the Prime Minister's instructions and mitigating against the immense financial challenge facing our country, the finance minister and her government have triggered a plethora of new permanent spending commitments that will likely hobble the prosperity of generations for years to come and mean massive new taxes under the Liberal government.
Similarly, the minister's half-hearted attempt to present a debt management strategy falls far short of the rigour expected of an accountable and responsive government. Indeed, the budget failed to justify why the minister felt that further economic stimulus in the amount of $100 billion was needed when GDP growth has strongly rebounded. She should be happy about that. Preloaded stimulus is the form of savings is primed for release. American stimulus and infrastructure investments well north of $4 trillion are ready to wash over into our economy.
Then we found out in the budget and from exceedingly frank finance officials that much of the stimulus was not stimulus at all. It was emergency support funding, much of which we support, and it was programming that bore absolutely no relation whatsoever to stimulating the economy. Imagine our surprise when a departmental official opined “Oh well, all government spending is stimulus.” No, it is not. All the minister had to do was be transparent about her $100 billion, as we would likely support a number of the initiatives that this fund would support. However, we know that there is an election around corner, and it is now very clear that this funding of $100 billion is simply intended to stimulate the re-election of the government.
Then there is the Prime Minister's directive to present a new fiscal anchor. It was very clear to the finance minister that she present a new fiscal anchor.
The minister referenced that anchor on page 53 of her budget. That is another fail. The closest this anchor comes to being a true anchor is its vague commitment to “reducing the federal debt as a share of the economy over the medium-term.” That is it. That is not a new anchor. That was the government's own anchor, the debt-to-GDP ratio, except that this one, the so-called new one, does not even have a target and will tempt the government to run up further debt in the years to come.
As the Prime Minister blithely stumbles into the fiscal unknown, Canadians should take little comfort in the government's promises to manage our debt and get our deficit situation under control.
Based on the Prime Minister's own mandate instructions to his minister, this budget must be considered a fail.
I began my speech by saying that I was very eager to review the budget to determine what it would mean for Canadians in the short, medium and long term. In the short term, yes, there are a number of investments and programs that will help Canadians make it through this economic and health crisis. We are supportive of many of those measures. However, in the medium and especially the long term, there is very little to get excited about, just endless debt and deficits with not even a pretense of the Liberal government ever wanting to return to a balanced state, even in the long term.
As a responsible official opposition, we are still carefully reviewing and analyzing the budget and we will discuss it with our caucus tomorrow before casting final judgment on it. Suffice it to say that, so far, I am not encouraged.
One thing Canadians can be confident of, absolutely confident of, is that a Conservative government, led by the member for Durham, will implement a true Canada recovery plan that secures our future by getting Canadians back to work, by helping small businesses recover, by restoring Canada's reputation and competitive advantage and by prudently managing the massive financial burden with which the pandemic has left us. The Conservatives have done this before; they will do it again.
I therefore move:
That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word 'That' and substituting the following:
“given that the budget:
(a) adds over half a trillion dollars in new debt that can only be paid through higher job-killing taxes;
(b) contains over $100 billion for a re-election fund while doing nothing to secure the long-term prosperity of Canadian; and
(c) fails to rule out the introduction of capital gains taxes on the principal residences of Canadians, currently being studied by Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation, as a way to pay for the government's spending;
the House demand that the Liberal government's budget be revised in order to focus on accelerating the vaccination plan to end the dangerous third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and policies that will create jobs and stimulate economic growth
View Alexandra Mendès Profile
Lib. (QC)
The amendment is in order.
Questions and comments, the hon. parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Finance.
View Sean Fraser Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Sean Fraser Profile
2021-04-20 10:42 [p.5830]
Madam Speaker, I thank the member for his generous comments toward the finance minister on her remarkable achievement as the first woman in our nation's history to table a budget Canada's House of Commons.
I note that the member has outlined some of the measures he does support, but I find it curious. Over the course of our pandemic response, there are certain rather obvious policies that the Conservatives have come out against. In particular, I note that the Leader of the Opposition has voiced his strong opposition toward CERB, the Canada emergency response benefit, on a number of occasions. Similarly, after everything we have been through with our long-term care facilities, he has indicated he does not want the federal government to make investments to improve the quality of life for residents in long-term care facilities and would rather leave that exclusively to the provinces.
My question for the hon. member, specifically, is whether he supports the historic proposed investment to create Canada's first national early learning and child care strategy which would ensure women have a fair shake at participating fully in Canada's economy and would reduce the cost of child care for parents.
View Ed Fast Profile
CPC (BC)
View Ed Fast Profile
2021-04-20 10:44 [p.5830]
Madam Speaker, I find it passing strange that the member was not listening carefully as I gave my speech, as our opposition has been articulating its views on a child care strategy. In fact, our letter to the Minister of Finance expressly calls for the government to implement policies that support women, helping them to engage in the workforce. This is critical for our long-term productivity.
What we do not support is an Ottawa-knows-best, one-size-fits-all approach. We know that many families will be left behind, that do not avail themselves of institutionalized day care. They have family, friends and neighbours who help out with that. On top of that, the member's party has been promising this for 30 years.
View Alain Therrien Profile
BQ (QC)
View Alain Therrien Profile
2021-04-20 10:45 [p.5831]
Madam Speaker, during the 2019 election campaign, the Bloc Québécois sounded the alarm about seniors' inadequate incomes. We think the government should address that insecurity by increasing seniors' benefits.
We know that the pandemic has made things even worse. Health consequences and isolation hit seniors first. In July, the government finally gave in to pressure from the Bloc Québécois and gave seniors an extra $300 plus $200 for the guaranteed income supplement. The Bloc Québécois insisted that there should not be two classes of seniors and demanded that the increase be monthly and systematic.
In this budget, the government is creating two classes of seniors, which is exactly what the Bloc Québécois rejected in the first place. We do not understand why the government would increase benefits for those 75 and over but not those aged 65 to 75. That does not—
View Alexandra Mendès Profile
Lib. (QC)
Order. The hon. member for Abbotsford.
View Ed Fast Profile
CPC (BC)
View Ed Fast Profile
2021-04-20 10:46 [p.5831]
Madam Speaker, as the member has noted, there is some support for seniors in the budget, but before we embark upon any new permanent spending programs, we need to place of all this in the context of the long-term fiscal sustainability of our country. That is why the mandate letter to the Minister of Finance clearly says that there will be no new permanent spending, yet the budget completely breaks her responsibility to follow that directive.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Madam Speaker, my colleague is a fellow British Columbian, so he knows very well that my constituents in New Westminster—Burnaby are hard working. They are running small businesses. Families, people with disabilities, seniors and students are all struggling through this pandemic and we have now hit this tragic third wave, which is the worst yet in the pandemic. My constituents are shocked with the fact that the Liberal government will be cutting the supports that people so desperately need during this pandemic and are angered by the profiteering we have seen during this pandemic. Canada's billionaires are adding $78 billion to their wealth at a time when so many people are struggling.
My question for my colleague is very simple. The budget gives a free ride to the ultra-wealthy in the country. Does he feel it is appropriate, at this critical time, that the Liberals are giving a free ride to Canada's ultra-wealthy?
View Ed Fast Profile
CPC (BC)
View Ed Fast Profile
2021-04-20 10:48 [p.5831]
Madam Speaker, this is a question the member has asked me before in the House. I appreciate him repeating it, and I will repeat my answer.
The real way of supporting Canadians and introducing fairness across all sectors of our economy is to generate economic growth. We had gone into this budget saying no new taxes, especially on our hard hit small business sector, and we are pleased that for the most part there is not a dramatic increase in tax burden on those businesses that are still struggling, although there is some.
These businesses are still calling for help from the government, and new businesses are not receiving it because of the reasons I outlined in my speech. I wish this member of the NDP would focus on economic growth and generating wealth within Canada so every family across this country benefits from that prosperity.
View Marty Morantz Profile
CPC (MB)
Madam Speaker, my question is around credit ratings. Last June, Fitch downgraded our national credit rating. At the same time, S&P warned it could downgrade our credit rating over the next couple of years, “should the deterioration in the government's fiscal position become more severe and prolonged than we currently expect.”
My colleague pointed out very aptly that the Prime Minister has now stumbled blithely into the fiscal unknown. Does my colleague think Canada might be in danger of a credit downgrade again, and what effect might that have on our prospects fiscally?
View Ed Fast Profile
CPC (BC)
View Ed Fast Profile
2021-04-20 10:50 [p.5831]
Madam Speaker, I certainly do. My letter to the Minister of Finance outlined the fact that we had serious concerns that Canada's credit rating was going to be downgraded because of a declining fiscal situation. That is a result of unmanageable debt and deficits and unmanageable stimulus spending, which overheats the economy and leads to inflation. We want to make sure our economy is on sound, solid footing.
When Fitch downgrades us, as it recently did, it should sound alarm bells to all of us to ask what the Liberal government is doing wrong.
View Mark Gerretsen Profile
Lib. (ON)
Madam Speaker, I want to go back to the first question from the parliamentary secretary, because the member did not answer it and skated around the answer. He was asked whether he supports the child care initiatives here. What he said was that one size does not fit all and that we have to look for different solutions.
This is a tested program in Quebec. It is a successful program in Quebec that has gotten more women into the workforce. It has done a lot for gender equality in the workforce.
Which is it: Does the member support the initiative or think the model has been a failure in Quebec?
View Ed Fast Profile
CPC (BC)
View Ed Fast Profile
2021-04-20 10:51 [p.5831]
Madam Speaker, first, we support the provinces in making their own decisions in these areas. Clearly, Quebec has made its decision to establish this program, and we laud them for that, but there is nothing in the budget I have seen that says the minister is going to adopt the Quebec system. She has praised it, but we have no details in the budget about what this system will look like, other than that it is going to lead to $10-a-day daycare and a reduction in child care costs by 50% over the next few years.
There is no detail attached to this proposal, so this member is asking me to judge something I have not even seen in its entirety. I will repeat that what we want to see is a system that creates new child care spaces but also incorporates flexibility for families that have other models of child care they want to access. We believe in the rights of parents to choose for their children. I wish this member would.
View Yves-François Blanchet Profile
BQ (QC)
Madam Speaker, let me begin by saying that the Bloc Québécois stands in solidarity with the people of all Canadian provinces, and especially Ontario, who are dealing with a resurgence of the pandemic, which has become alarming in many respects. Quebec seems to be managing a little better for the moment. Let us hope we can get out of this situation as soon as possible.
Quebec and Canada, like the rest of the world, have been hammered by a devastating and unexpected pandemic, the scale, scope and devastation of which no one anticipated. This was followed by a serious, significant economic crisis that has rocked key sectors of our economy, including everything from self-employed workers and small, local businesses to big multinationals and the greedy giants that the airlines have become.
The government has done the right thing in one respect, specifically, taking advantage of its huge borrowing capacity, which compares favourably with most other OECD countries, to be able to inject significant amounts of money into the Quebec and Canadian economies. It is the right thing to do. Some $50 billion will be spent this year, followed by $100 billion over the next three years, to invest in the actual economic recovery. That is something the government can do, and it is certainly what needs to be done.
In some ways, it listened to the Bloc Québécois—not just the Bloc, that is not what I am saying—when it came to addressing the interests and needs of Quebec and what Quebec was calling for. The government did listen, to some extent. In some cases, there was more talk than action, but the government did pick up on some of the themes that we, together with the National Assembly of Quebec, deemed to be absolutely essential for stimulating economic activity.
I am thinking about the aerospace sector, which appears in a Canadian budget for the very first time. I am thinking about the biopharmaceutical industry, which is now gaining prominence under the current circumstances after being neglected in recent years. Canada and Quebec in particular, were a hub of pharmaceutical research until the sector was decimated after years of neglect.
I am thinking about the electrification of transportation. Let me say from the outset that this is very much a Quebec issue, subject, and expertise. Quebec is an undisputed leader in this area just as it is in the aerospace industry.
I am thinking about the forest-based bioeconomy. I suspect, and I will say it with a smile, that it would not be in the budget if not for the very eloquent and strongly worded statement, addressing the reality of the Quebec regions, made by what we call the Bloc Québécois “caucus du bois” at the initiative of the member for Jonquière and the member for Lac-Saint-Jean. We agree that it is not huge. More money has been allocated before, for example to fight the spruce budworm. However, it is a good start that some funding will be invested in forest-based bioeconomy and that intent is what we were looking for. We will see later whether it is significant or not.
I have to admit that there is some concern associated with that. Where will this money be invested? For example, had the federal government decided in 2021, as it did in 2009-10, to inject a massive amount of money into the automobile industry, we would not expect it to go to Drummondville or Val-d'Or. We would expect it to go to Ontario. If the government injects substantial amounts of money in aerospace, we expect that half this funding will go where half the aerospace industry is located, that is, in Quebec, which is a world leader in that sector.
The pharmaceutical industry was seriously gutted. The expertise was Quebec-based and research capacity is still Quebec-based, not exclusively, but for the most part. Initiatives were brought in during the pandemic by Quebec businesses and corporations.
The electrification of transportation is more than just an economic sector in Quebec. It is our identity. Quebec cannot take full credit. Its geography and history have made it a place where clean hydro-electricity, drawn from its rivers, has shaped our province as a leader in clean energy and everything that follows, including the electrification of transportation. It seems only natural that such leadership would be recognized.
Buying Quebec products, such as charging stations by AddÉnergie Technologies, and installing them across Canada would be a good way to recognize our production capacity and technology. There are several other companies such as Elmec in Shawinigan.
However, we would have reservations and concerns if the plan is to take our expertise and move it somewhere else, diluting the competence and expertise that Quebec is renowned for, to benefit Canadian provinces with our own money. That goes for the forest-based bioeconomy as well, although there is obviously a large forestry industry in British Columbia and a little in New Brunswick and Ontario. This expertise must not be moved, because that would undermine Quebec's competitive edge in key economic sectors. We will have to be very vigilant.
In the aerospace sector, for example, the federal government had no problem retroactively passing a bill allowing Aveos jobs to be transferred from Montreal to Manitoba. If that is where this is going, we are not interested.
When the government decided it was interested in the electrification of transportation, it initially announced $500 million for a Ford plant in Ontario. That does not mean there will not be any plants in Quebec, but we in Quebec obviously know that Ontario is not a hub for transportation electrification.
I remind members that the government made investments to combat spruce budworm in the Maritimes but not in Quebec, which was also having problems with that pest.
Glaring omissions like this have happened repeatedly in the past. Here is another example from this budget: the Davie shipyard, one of Quebec City's economic powerhouses that represents 2% to 3% of a budget merrily hovering around $120 billion, even though it accounts for half of Canada's shipbuilding capacity. The government says it is because Irving is failing to deliver, so bureaucrats will be hired to go support Irving, which will keep on failing to deliver. There is nothing here for Davie, which makes no sense.
This tendency to cherry-pick Quebec's expertise and use our own money to generously distribute that expertise across Canada could turn into an issue. Are these amounts enough? Bioforestry is a special case.
We certainly applaud the fact that something that has been good for Quebec is being applied to the rest of Canada. Quebec has been innovative and has gained international recognition for the child care policy my premier, Ms. Marois, implemented. According to every economic analysis, not just Quebec-based ones, that policy massively increased women's presence in the workforce. The fact that Canada has at long last decided to implement a similar model is worth applauding.
Now, as I have said elsewhere, students do not tell teachers how to correct their work. The federal government will not tell Quebec how to run a child care system. Instead, it should express an interest in learning how Quebec runs its system. There can be exchanges of ideas and free consent to improvements. Generally speaking, the concept of free consent should be the basic principle underlying Quebec-Canada relations.
If the strange notion of an asymmetrical agreement with Quebec means something other than a simple transfer of Quebec's share of the funding for child care with no strings attached, then that is unacceptable.
This morning, the Quebec finance minister, Mr. Girard, was very clear. He does not intend to negotiate. Quebec just wants its share of the funding. That is the way it should be, even though, yesterday, the Minister of Finance was unable to resist saying that the money should be invested the way she says it should. To put it bluntly, it is none of her damn business.
Quebec does what it wants with Quebec's money. Quebeckers have a Quebec government and a National Assembly that deal with such issues. The other Parliament, where we are currently, has no right to tell the National Assembly what to do with its money. That is a bad habit that the federal government has gotten into and is having a hard time overcoming. It is almost genetic. In this case, we are informing the federal government that we will take the money, but we will not be told what to do with it.
The same thing is happening when it comes to long-term care centres for seniors. It is the only federal contribution in health. This is something much larger than an elephant in the room. We are coming out of a pandemic. It is a health issue. Who are the primary victims of the pandemic? Seniors are. We saw that. The loss of life has been dramatic, especially among seniors. What is the budget missing? It is missing help for health care and help for seniors.
I scratched my head. I even thought that in terms of electoral opportunism, a skill this government has mastered, I would have done something. However, there is nothing and it is a slap in the face to Quebec and all of Canada's premiers who are being told that they will not be getting their health transfers. Quebeckers and people elsewhere in Canada might take note and get fed up with this lack of respect. As for the rest of the budget, anyone could have come up with it. The right decisions were easy to make. However, the bad decisions are shocking.
I was talking about CHSLDs, or their equivalent across Canada. The federal government said it would invest $3 billion over five years, which should mean roughly $120 million a year for Quebec. In the context of long-term care, that is not a lot of money. On top of that, the federal government said the money would have conditions attached, because it is Canada, which is intrinsically superior to Quebec's jurisdictions.
However, this fails to acknowledge that the underfunding of the health care system is largely to blame for what happened. In fact, Ottawa has not been paying its fair share for quite some time now. The average age is higher in Quebec than elsewhere.
The federal government likes to take a moral stance and tell others how things work, even when it has no experience in the matter. The federal government has never run a health care facility, but it knows everything because it is the federal government, and they are the Liberals so they are, by definition, superior. This constant tendency to meddle in Quebec's affairs makes no sense, especially considering that Ottawa can barely manage its own jurisdictions, such as border control.
Word choice is a problem here. The federal government uses words like “aeronautics”, “forests”, “health” and “electric transportation”, but the measures themselves are quite vague. In reality, we will debate the budget for a number of days, after which we will vote on this budget, with all of the consequences that entails. We will then move on to the budget implementation bill and other things.
I want to get back to the very important topic of seniors. The Liberal government, that eternal warrior against all forms of discrimination, be they imaginary or real, decided to invent a new form of discrimination, distinguishing between real seniors, aged 75 and older, and phony seniors. If I were a senior 75 and over, I would not be having a big celebration, thinking that I was going to get something. In reality, I would get a $500 cheque in July, which is less than $50 a month over the year. That is insulting enough as it is, but seniors aged 65 to 75 do not even get a little something. They get nothing at all.
I do not know what planet the Prime Minister is living on, but since yesterday, we have all been getting messages at our riding offices and on social media from people aged 65 to 75, who are furious, or even pissed off, if I may say so. They are feeling disrespected.
Because we are good people, as everyone knows, we will urge the government to make things right.
The government's economic statement last November predicted a deficit of $380 billion, a figure that ended up being $350 billion. The $30 billion difference is the same amount that it would cost to implement the provinces' demand to increase health transfers from approximately 22% to 35% in one year. It absolutely would not get the government in trouble. This is something it could do.
If the government accepts our amendment, the Bloc Québécois proposal would increase old age security for those 65 and over by $110 a month. That is a significant sum that would total approximately $4 billion a year. That is just a little more than 1% of last year's deficit for the group of people who were most affected by the pandemic.
We should be able to talk to one another. If our amendment were adopted, we could be in a situation where this summer's disappointing $500 would be accessible to everyone 65 and over pending the adoption of implementing legislation for next year. In this context, there would be legislation next year because we would work together to bring in this law.
We will not be headed to the polls as early as the government would have liked, but we will presumably still be on the campaign trail come fall. Therefore, there will be no legislation to increase old age security before next summer. It will not happen. We could accelerate things if our amendment were accepted because it would create fairness compared to the profound unfairness of the current version.
We are therefore tabling an amendment to the Conservatives' amendment. I have the pleasure of reading it.
That the amendment be amended by deleting paragraphs (a) and (b) and substituting the following:
“(a) does not include any increase to the Canada health transfers;
(b) abandons seniors between the ages of 65 and 75; and”
and by adding after the words “economic growth” the following:
“, support health care systems by increasing the Canada health transfers to 35% of health care costs and contribute to the quality of life of seniors aged 65 and over by increasing Old Age Security as of age 65 and dropping the age for the one-time payment of $500 for the summer of 2021 to age 65.”
The door is wide open for the government securing the Bloc Québécois vote for this budget and significant appreciation by the simple application of Quebec's basic rules of fairness.
View Alexandra Mendès Profile
Lib. (QC)
The amendment to the amendment is in order.
Questions and comments.
The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Queen’s Privy Council.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2021-04-20 11:13 [p.5834]
Madam Speaker, the Prime Minister and government members have recognized the true value of having an national child care system that supports parents being in the workforce. We look at the Province of Quebec and its success. It is something that should be applauded. We can look at a system and ways to incorporate that nationally.
The member makes reference to long-term care. The constituents of Winnipeg North and I, and I believe Canadians in general, see the need for national standards. We have seen this throughout the pandemic.
Can my friend across the way indicate if he thinks we should support what the government is being called upon to do and look at national standards for long-term care? It such an important issue, and it seems to me to that people in all regions of the country want to see that happen.
View Yves-François Blanchet Profile
BQ (QC)
Madam Speaker, I have a suggestion for my esteemed colleague. Rather than apply Canadian standards to Quebec, which has been doing this for 20 years while Canada has not done it at all, the government could apply Quebec's standards to Canada, and everything will be fine. I do not see why it should be done otherwise. Then Quebec can thank the feds when it gets its cheque and say how pleased it is to have helped women in Canada.
Quebec did not wait for the federal government's go-ahead to become a more feminist state. We have had plenty of budgets tabled by female finance ministers, such as Ms. Marois and Ms. Jérôme-Forget.
I am very happy to see this change. I really feel for people in Toronto who pay $1,300 per month per child for care. That is absolutely crazy. Kudos to Canada for following Quebec's lead. I just want to make it clear that the federal government will not be forcing its policies on us just because it was inspired by us.
View Marty Morantz Profile
CPC (MB)
Madam Speaker, I want to talk about the child care promise in the context of the history of the government not being able to keep its promises. The Liberals promised to balance the budget by 2019. They promised electoral reform, elimination of boil water advisories, reduction of cellular fees by 25% and many, many other things.
How much faith does the member have that the Liberal government will be able to keep this promise?
View Yves-François Blanchet Profile
BQ (QC)
Madam Speaker, that is a big question. I do not even know where to start.
If we had to list all of the government's broken promises, we would be here all night, so instead I will name just a few. There is often a direct correlation between the probability that a promise is kept and the proximity of an election, so there is reason to be skeptical.
Quebeckers have an advantage when it comes to child care because we already have a system in place. At best, the Quebec government will receive additional funding and will do what it likes with it.
However, with all of the hype on this issue, I hope that the federal government will follow through on this commitment, that the entire House will agree on the principle of an early child care program and that such a program will be implemented, no matter what the future may bring. Quebec will always be willing to co-operate.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Madam Speaker, I commend the leader of the Bloc Québécois on his speech.
He quite rightly spoke about the failures of this budget, which include insufficient funding for health care and a lack of support for seniors. It is clear that the budget fails to properly address these two issues.
Another failure is the Liberal Party's refusal to make the wealthy pay. During this pandemic, billionaires grew $78 billion richer. We know that we are losing $25 billion per year to tax havens. We also know that 20% of Quebeckers want a tax on wealth.
How does the leader of the Bloc Québécois explain the Liberal government's refusal to make the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes?
View Yves-François Blanchet Profile
BQ (QC)
Madam Speaker, I am tempted to use chemistry terms like centralization versus decentralization.
The Liberals have a compulsive habit of trying to centralize everything. The government is trying to set conditions on programs that should exist regardless. This creates delays, adds complexity and does not provide people with the help they need.
Now, making the rich and the ultra-rich pay is something we can get behind. I will use the example often highlighted by my esteemed colleague from Joliette, namely, tax evasion and tax havens. The federal government is losing out on $900 million a year that it could be going after.
I am being about as subtle as a freight train—and who knows whether trains between Montreal and Quebec City will even survive—but a single tax return would allow us to decentralize power to Quebec, which tends to honour its commitments, something the federal government does not do. Right now the federal government is leaving $900 million lying around in champagne-soaked, sunny tax havens, while Quebeckers are in lockdown in a post-pandemic economic crisis.
View Martin Champoux Profile
BQ (QC)
View Martin Champoux Profile
2021-04-20 11:19 [p.5835]
Madam Speaker, the main things missing from the budget are of course health transfers and support for seniors.
In my view, another important omission is the print media. For over a year now, we have been calling on the government to support the print media industry, especially regional media venues, which are going through an unprecedented crisis. The budget would have been a great opportunity to do something for that industry, but there was nothing.
I want to ask my colleague, who is also my party leader, to comment on the fact that this was missing from the federal budget.
View Yves-François Blanchet Profile
BQ (QC)
Madam Speaker, the federal government announced that it planned to impose a suitable tax on web giants, which are creating a lot of unfair competition in the communications, arts and media sector.
Imagine being on a flight to Europe with enough fuel to get to Greenland. It stops halfway there. The government taxes 3% of its revenue. However, that is only a temporary measure while waiting for something else for which there is no deadline, and also, the money is going into the consolidated revenue fund. The government criticizes Quebec for taking the money from child care services and putting it into the consolidated revenue fund, but it is taking money from arts, culture and the media and putting it in the consolidated revenue fund, which is unacceptable. That money needs to go to the media and the arts, which desperately need it.
View Mark Gerretsen Profile
Lib. (ON)
Madam Speaker, I want to go back to the response that the leader of the Bloc Québécois gave to our colleague, the parliamentary secretary, about imposing Quebec's great success on long-term care facilities onto the rest of Canada.
Indeed, that is the whole point of national standards, to look to the provinces for the great successes that they have had so that we can use them throughout the rest of the country. Indeed, if there are great successes in Quebec I would love to be able to give those as an opportunity to Ontario. Likewise, I can only imagine that the leader of the Bloc Québécois would want the same.
If another jurisdiction in Canada were so successful in long-term care, would he not like to see those as being options and being made national standards? Does he not see the value of coming together from various provinces and jurisdictions throughout the country to develop standards that can be to the benefit of everyone?
View Yves-François Blanchet Profile
BQ (QC)
Madam Speaker, I am overcome by emotion.
Now that I have gotten ahold of myself, I would say yes, but on one condition: free consent between equals. If Quebec is recognized for its extraordinary success in child care, then it should not have standards imposed on it or be told how to spend its money. It should be asked what it thinks about that. If Quebec thinks it is a good idea, it will say yes. If it does not, it will say no. That is what I meant by free consent between equal partners. In fact, this concept of free consent between equal partners should be extended to all relations between Quebec and Canada. That would be very beneficial, at least for Quebec.
View Jagmeet Singh Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jagmeet Singh Profile
2021-04-20 11:23 [p.5835]
Madam Speaker, I want to begin by putting in context what this budget means. We are over a year into a global pandemic and it has hit hard. It has hit the world hard, and it has hit people here in Canada very hard.
Specifically, we know the impacts have been devastating; people have lost their jobs; people have lost their businesses; and people have lost their lives. We also know the pandemic has disproportionately impacted some people. We know indigenous people, who have lived with historic and ongoing injustice when it comes to access to health care and overcrowded housing, have felt the impact of this pandemic even more.
We know women have been disproportionately impacted by this pandemic. Women have lost their jobs in service sector and care economy positions. We also know that on top of having to care for children and aging loved ones, women are stretched to the brink and they cannot find affordable child care, so they have been disproportionately impacted to the point that women are now at the lowest job participation rate in decades.
We know that racialized people have been disproportionately impacted. Some of the hardest-hit communities in our country are where there are more newcomers, new Canadians and racialized people. We know of frontline workers who have to go into factories and warehouses, whether it is in logistics or transportation, and are working in grocery stores, on the front lines. These are workers who are often among the most vulnerable and often racialized. They have been disproportionately impacted.
We know young people have felt the burden of this pandemic significantly. Young people who are just starting off their careers saw their jobs cut. Young people who hoped to work in the summer saw many of the jobs they usually worked no longer there. Young people who are looking to build their lives, find partners and grow their careers are unable to do so. Young people have been disproportionately impacted.
One of the greatest shames, something I have referred to as a national shame, is that this pandemic has disproportionately impacted seniors, particularly seniors in long-term care. They have borne the brunt of this pandemic with their lives, and it is something we cannot allow to continue. It should have never happened in the first place, but we cannot allow this to continue.
Now we are dealing with the third wave. The third wave is hitting harder than all the previous waves. We are seeing numbers rising across the country. We are seeing a particularly dire situation in Ontario, where field hospitals are being set up and ICUs are being overwhelmed. Health care workers are telling us they are also at the breaking point. They cannot bear to see more travesty. They are seeing entire families being admitted to the ICU. With this variant, we are seeing younger people who have to be on ventilators. No longer is it just an illness that impacts more so elderly or more immunocompromised people, the variant is impacting younger and younger people. In Ontario, it is clear we are losing the race to the variant.
We have also seen across this country that the poorest communities, where we have the highest number of essential and frontline workers, are the communities with the highest rates of COVID-19 infection, but the lowest rates of vaccination. This is a serious problem.
These are tough times. We are hurting. COVID-19 has hit all communities, and the third wave is hitting hard. Times are hard everywhere. Case numbers are rising, and front-line health workers are struggling. We must act now to protect workers and ensure better care for our seniors. We must take definitive action right now.
What did the Liberals choose to do in this budget? Budgets are always a matter of choices. They are always a matter of priorities. What does this government choose to do, and what does it choose not to do? Both of those questions are fundamental in any budget.
We have seen the pandemic hit people and impact communities differently, but the one thing that is absolutely clear is this. While working people and small businesses have suffered, the ultra rich have not only been spared suffering, they have seen their wealth increase in the midst of this pandemic. The richest Canadians, the 44 wealthiest billionaires, have increased their wealth by over $62 billion. We have seen web giants like Amazon, Netflix and Google increase their profits. We have seen large corporate grocery stores increase their profits. The ultra rich have done very well in this pandemic.
We have seen inequality grow. We have seen the inequalities that were already in society get worse, so one would think that, given the growing inequality, and the fact the ultra rich saw their wealth increase disproportionately while workers and small businesses saw their livelihoods diminish and their lives become worse, this budget would do something about it. One would think the budget would answer the question of who will pay for the pandemic and recovery, which should be the ultra rich. That is what one would have thought, but the reality is the budget makes a clear decision and a clear choice. The Liberal government and the Prime Minister have chosen that the ultra rich will not pay their fair share; instead, the burden will fall on families and workers.
This budget does not include a wealth tax. It does not include an excess profits during the pandemic tax. It does not close offshore tax havens or loopholes. It does not tackle the inequalities at all. It does not mean the wealthiest billionaires in this country will be contributing more of their fair share in any significant way. It does not do that. In doing so, the Liberal government is saying that it will continue to allow profits to be made off the backs of seniors in long-term care and that families and workers will have to continue to bear the burden.
Over the course of the pandemic, inequalities have increased, with the ultra-rich becoming richer than ever while people needing help are still struggling to get by. The crisis has highlighted the many holes in our social safety net. This budget should have helped Canadians, but the Liberals continue to favour the ultra-rich while leaving families and workers behind.
Budgets are a matter of choices. Who did the Prime Minister choose? He did not choose families, workers, or seniors living in long-term care homes. He chose the ultra-rich. The budget has no wealth tax, no excess profits tax and no action to combat tax havens.
The Prime Minister and the government have once again chosen to do nothing, allowing the ultra-rich to keep using tax havens and loopholes. The government chose not to make the ultra-rich pay their fair share. That was a choice, and in making that choice, the Liberal government chose not to help families. It did not address these issues with our tax system.
We have also noticed some good things in the budget. Without a doubt there are some positive things in this budget. The problem with the positive things in this budget is the Liberal government's track record. On the one hand, there certainly seems to be a strong emphasis on child care. In fact, it looks like it borrowed the plan we have been running on for the past number of elections. In 2015 and 2019, we ran on a commitment to bring in universal, accessible, affordable child care. The Liberals have taken from that, which is great. I would love for them to take from that and get it done. The problem is this. We have a really clear example in front of us that I think the Liberals might have forgotten about.
The fact is that the Liberals and the Prime Minister ran on universal pharmacare in 2019. They included it specifically in the throne speech, but had no qualms of completely abandoning it in the budget. They have yet to endorse their own commissioned report, which states very clearly that it should be a universal, entirely public pharmacare for all, and that is not surprising, because all the experts agree. However, the Liberal government has failed to even accept that report. The Liberals have not come out and said that they agree with the clear recommendation. Instead, they have completely abandoned it. The problem with doing that is this. When they run on something, when they campaign on something, when they put it in the throne speech and make as a priority but then completely abandon it, it makes it pretty hard to believe that they will follow through on another promise in the budget.
The sad reality is that so many people, so many women in our country are just fed up with phony promises. The Liberal government has promised universal child care for 28 years. That is three decades that Liberal governments have been in power, in majority governments, and they have not done it. Many members of the Liberal government were asked, why now? Why have they not done it before? Why are they suddenly realizing this epiphany? It makes so sense that the Liberal Party has been in power so many times over three decades and have nothing to advance this. How can Canadians believe them now?
As I just mentioned, the Liberals have been promising pharmacare for 24 years; that is 24 years of broken promises.
The budget includes a federal minimum wage increase, which is great. We ran on that. The funny thing is that when we first proposed it, the Liberal government was opposed to it and ran against it, but I will put that aside. Now the Liberals agree that it is the right thing to do. However, they promised to do it in 2019, they promised to get it done by 2020 and we are halfway through 2021. This is an easy fix. People can see things, hear the promises made and not see the action. The problem is that this one is an entirely easy thing to get done. Cabinet could get it done immediately. We are going to follow this and see if this is another example of a Liberal promise just to sound good but not do anything about it.
Herein lies the problem with the Liberal budget: The Liberals are saying a lot of nice things, but they do not actually do them. They do not actually follow through on them. The problem is that when they do not follow through on them, it is not just a void, but people who need this help get hurt.
This really aligns with what we have experienced throughout this pandemic. The Liberals often started off with something that was just the bare minimum and we had to fight tooth and nail to get more help for Canadians. Let us look at some of the examples of things that the Liberal government promised recently or delivered, and we had to fight to make it better.
When we realized that people were going to lose their jobs because of this pandemic and that it was going to be very difficult for businesses, we said that we needed support to keep people hired. The Liberals started off with a 10% wage subsidy. Put simply, that meant they were willing cover 10% of a person's salary. To cover 10% of a person's salary really will not keep that person hired. It is no significant way to keep people in their jobs. We had to fight tooth and nail and push hard. We said that it had to be more. We wrote a letter, which brought together pretty interesting allies such as the president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business and the president of Unifor. We said that it had to be at least 75% or higher. We fought hard and we won, so Canadians could see themselves in their jobs. We covered 75% of people's salaries to keep people employed, saving millions of jobs. This is an example of where the Liberals just wanted to do the minimum and we had to fight to get the maximum.
With CERB, the Liberals started off at $1,000, knowing that it was not enough to even cover rent for a lot of people. We had to fight hard, tooth and nail, to ensure we doubled that to $2,000, so people would be able to put food on the table. People in lockdowns who could not work would be able to pay their rent and stay in their homes.
The Liberal government completely ignored students and had no support directly for them. There were no financial supports. We listened to students when they said that they needed help because they would not be able to work this summer. We fought hard to bring in direct financial support for them.
One of the biggest tools to fight this pandemic is paid sick leave, and we fought hard to bring that in at the federal level, the first of its kind, the first new social safety net increase, but we said that there were some problems with what the Liberals have done. They did not bring in enough supports, and they have failed to fix that to date. When the Liberals do not do what they say and when they do not fix the problems we have raised, people end up paying the price and suffering.
Let us look at the choices made in the Liberal budget, who the Liberals have chosen to support and who they have chosen to ignore.
We said that we needed an answer to the question of who would pay for this pandemic, and that had to be with a wealth tax on the ultra-rich, a tax on excess profits, on the pandemic profiteering. We said that there had to be a closing of the tax loopholes.
Did the Liberal government choose to do any of those things in the budget? No. By not choosing to tax the ultra-rich, to close tax loopholes and to end offshore tax havens, the Liberal government has chosen to protect the ultra-rich, which hurts everyone else.
What did Liberals choose to do in the budget? They chose something very interesting. The Liberal government chose to extend the supports that people needed, which is great. However, we are in one of the worst parts of this pandemic, the third wave, and the Liberal government specifically has chosen to cut the amount of help people receive by $200 a month. These are people who have been laid off or cannot go back to work because of the pandemic.
Let us look at this choice. While the Liberals chose not to make the ultra-rich pay their fair share, choosing to help the ultra-rich, they chose to hurt workers who may have lost their jobs because of lockdowns this summer. Hopefully that will not happen again, although we are currently in a lockdown in Ontario. They chose to cut the amount workers, who were laid off in the summer, received, which is a choice against workers.
What about families that are struggling to pay for medications? Who did the Liberal government choose? It effectively chose big pharma over families struggling to pay for their medications. Who else benefits without a universal national pharmacare program? Big pharma.
Everyone agrees that if we pooled our resources as a country, if every province and territory that already buys medications pooled that buying power, we could negotiate better deals and get better prices. It just makes sense. When the government chooses not to do it, it chooses specifically to help big pharma. No one else benefits from that, and it hurts families that are struggling.
What about refusing to take the profit out of long-term care? The Liberals refused to that in this budget. They voted against our motion that called for this. In that choice, all they are choosing to help profitable for-profit long-term care centres, and that hurts seniors who are suffering.
When the Liberals choose not to improve paid sick leave, they hurt workers who are struggling because they cannot make the choice to go into work sick or stay home and not pay the bills. They are choosing not to help workers.
When they choose not to help students by forgiving their student debt, they are continuing to make it harder for them.
I want to wrap up with the immediate concern of the pandemic in Ontario. Right now, the Premier and the Prime Minister have both refused to show leadership to deal with this crisis, which is urgent and serious.
We need two things specifically. We need immediately, and we wanted to see this in the budget, an all-hands-on-deck approach to get the vaccines to the communities that need it most. That is a serious problem. Second, we need to immediately improve paid sick leave. All experts agree that paid sick leave will save lives.
The Premier of Ontario has failed to do anything about this. The Prime Minister has failed to act on what we said, which was to improve the paid sick leave program to get help to people. We suggested the use of the Emergencies Act, specifically a public welfare emergency, which would allow us to have more tools to get help to people. We need to do something now. The situation is a crisis. Ontario is on fire. We need to immediately improve paid sick leave and get the vaccines to the people who need it most. We need to tackle this. The consequences are dire, and we are hearing warning after warning.
We will not give up the fight for people. We will continue to apply pressure on the government to ensure it does what is necessary and right for the people of this land.
View Mark Gerretsen Profile
Lib. (ON)
Madam Speaker, in this budget is a serious commitment to delivering on child care across the country, something we have not seen in decades. It is a real commitment to putting the infrastructure in place and getting child care down to $10 a day for parents throughout Canada. We were in a very similar situation just over 15 years ago when Paul Martin introduced a similar budget that would have gotten us there. The NDP teamed up with the Conservatives at the time, brought the government down, Stephen Harper was elected and Canadians did not see that child care.
My question for the member is very simple. Will history repeat itself with this budget or will the NDP support it so parents throughout Canada can get the child care promise in the budget, which was promised last time when the NDP took down the government?
View Jagmeet Singh Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jagmeet Singh Profile
2021-04-20 11:44 [p.5839]
Madam Speaker, the member brings up history repeating itself. Twenty-seven years ago, the Liberal government promised pharmacare and has had majority governments since. For 27 years, history has repeated itself. Sadly, history has repeated itself with the Liberal government saying one thing and doing another, breaking promise after promise, and that hurts people. The New Democrats absolutely believe in child care. The reality is that the Liberal government likes to talk about child care, but never actually does it.
View Marty Morantz Profile
CPC (MB)
Madam Speaker, the leader of the NDP really hit the nail on the head. We have a situation of a government that has a damning track record of making big promises and not keeping them, such as to balance the budget by 2019; electoral reform, which was a centrepiece of the 2015 campaign; boil water advisories; reduced cellular fees; and the other things he has mentioned.
What reason would Canadians have to believe this promise on child care? Why should they believe it?
View Jagmeet Singh Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jagmeet Singh Profile
2021-04-20 11:45 [p.5839]
Sadly, Madam Speaker, I agree with the member. The problem is that the Liberal government often does say one thing and does exactly the opposite. The most recent example I keep bringing up is the 27 years of broken promises on child care as well as the 24 years of broken promises on pharmacare. It is hard to keep the broken promises straight as there are so many of them.
There is a recent example with pharmacare. The Liberals campaigned on it in 2019, they included it in the throne speech and they have now walked away from it, as if Canadians would not notice. Canadians have noticed. It is hard to believe the Liberal government is serious about something when it just broke a very similar bold promise that it made very recently. The sad reality is that the government will say one thing and then do another. The Liberals say one thing to get elected and once elected, they do not do it.
View Charlie Angus Profile
NDP (ON)
View Charlie Angus Profile
2021-04-20 11:46 [p.5839]
Madam Speaker, the Liberal budget is the best budget we could have had in 2015. In 2015, the New Democrats ran on child care and the Liberals ridiculed us. They thought $10-a-day child care was ridiculous and made so much fun of it. Now they understand the wisdom of it. On the $15 minimum wage, the Prime Minister, a millionaire's son, thought that was ridiculous. Now the Liberals understand, stealing New Democratic ideas.
However, we are not in 2015; we are in 2021. We are in the midst of the worst medical crisis that our nation has ever seen. ICU beds are being overrun and people are drying. The people dying are young, racialized workers who have to go to work day in, day out. I do not see anything in the budget that recognizes the need to support them, to get the resources or use the powers in the Emergency Act to work with the provinces.
Why is the government also cutting the funding for workers in the gig economy? They are the ones who are suffering.
View Jagmeet Singh Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jagmeet Singh Profile
2021-04-20 11:47 [p.5839]
Madam Speaker, the hon. member is absolutely right. This is a matter of choices and the Liberal government has made some really clear choices. It has chosen not to improve paid sick leave, which would directly save lives, and not to support workers, when they might lose their jobs, by cutting the amount of money they receive. These workers are the most vulnerable and they might lose their jobs. The government has chosen to cut the amount of support they get at the end of the summer.
The government has clearly chosen to ignore the crisis going on in Ontario. That is why we have to again redouble our efforts to say that we need to use the Emergency Act, we need to ensure vaccines get to the communities that need it most and we need to ensure paid sick leave is in place to keep workers safe.
It is a matter of choices and the government has shown again and again that it did not and has not chosen to work for people; it has chosen to protect the ultra-rich.
View Adam Vaughan Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Adam Vaughan Profile
2021-04-20 11:48 [p.5839]
Madam Speaker, there is a street in my riding called Manning Avenue, named after Archbishop Manning from England. Years ago he said, “What we will, we are, and what we are, we do.” I know I cannot cure the leader of the NDP of his cynicism, and all politicians should take responsibility for the cynicism that grows in politics when we do not deliver as accurately and as strongly as we want to.
He has said he is going to vote for this budget. I appreciate the support and the stability that is implied in that commitment. How can we move toward establishing child care? His party in British Columbia talks about giving all the powers to the provinces, and letting the provinces do what the provinces are going to do. He says that in British Columbia, but in Ontario the results would be devastating. We already saw the Ford government's response to our budget yesterday. Its members sound much like their Conservative counterparts in the House. They do not like public child care.
Will the NDP support us in making sure that the federal government negotiates a strong deal with the provinces and that we do not succumb to provincial desires alone in creating this new, national program? Will he back off saying one thing in B.C. and a different thing in Ontario when it comes to establishing child care?
View Jagmeet Singh Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jagmeet Singh Profile
2021-04-20 11:50 [p.5839]
Madam Speaker, the whole premise of the question comes back to whether the Liberals are actually going to do what they say. The reality is that sometimes cynicism is not borne out in the evidence. Sometimes it is just pure and raw, and it is unfair; however, in the case of child care, and in the case of the Liberal government, we have 27 years of evidence that despite majority governments, the Liberal government does not do what it promises to do. We have the evidence with pharmacare: The Liberals campaigned on it, made it a priority, said it was important, put it in the throne speech and then did not do it.
We believe in universal, affordable child care. We believe in working with provinces and territories to make it happen and we will continue to fight for it. Our concern is that the Liberal government just likes to say certain things and not ever end up doing them. We are going to fight to make sure it actually happens. We are going to fight to make sure people have the support they need, and people can count on us to do that.
View Todd Doherty Profile
CPC (BC)
View Todd Doherty Profile
2021-04-20 11:51 [p.5840]
Madam Speaker, there is a lot to unpack in this 754-page document, which is basically an election platform. It is not really a budget. I would offer that a lot of what is said in those documents is in year two and year three. If we read the fine print, the spending is over five years.
We are in the middle of a mental health crisis, and not only a mental health crisis, an opioid crisis as well. While a billion dollars for mental health is not a small figure, it is merely a drop in the bucket, and $116 million spread out over five years to fight the opioid crisis is truly a drop in the bucket.
Does my hon. colleague feel that more should have been spent on fighting some of the worst health crises, mental health and opioids, that our country has ever seen?
View Jagmeet Singh Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jagmeet Singh Profile
2021-04-20 11:52 [p.5840]
Madam Speaker, while we are in the midst of a global pandemic, and that is a major crisis, it does not mean that other crises have gone away. We still have an opioid crisis, which has taken so many lives in our country. We still have a mental health crisis. In fact, it is going to increase given the additional pain of this pandemic: The isolation, the lack of activities and the lack of interaction will only make problems with mental health worse.
We absolutely need to make sure we are prioritizing mental health. We believe, in fact, that mental health should be included in our health care system so that we truly have a head-to-toe health care system. It is going to be vital coming out of this pandemic. The second piece is the opioid crisis. We believe we need to immediately—
View Alexandra Mendès Profile
Lib. (QC)
We have to resume debate.
The hon. Minister of Middle Class Prosperity and Associate Minister of Finance.
View Mona Fortier Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mona Fortier Profile
2021-04-20 11:53 [p.5840]
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to the 2021 budget, which was presented yesterday by my colleague, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance.
I will begin by informing you, Madam Speaker, that I have been having technical difficulties since this morning. If I lose the connection, I will rejoin quickly.
Budget 2021 is an ambitious and bold budget that focuses on finishing the fight against COVID and laying the groundwork for a strong economic recovery. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused the deepest and fastest recession globally since the Great Depression, and Canada has been no exception. Our government has laid out a plan that is committed to creating more jobs and a better quality of life for Canadians in the days and decades to come.
As we continue to push through this third wave, we know that brighter days are ahead and budget 2021 will get us there. From the beginning, we have made it clear that our first priority is to fight the pandemic and save lives. The largest immunization campaign in Canada's history is now well under way and by the end of September, Canada will have received more than enough doses for every adult to be fully vaccinated. The budget includes an additional $1 billion to help speed up immunizations and another $4 billion for our health care systems.
Our second priority is supporting people and businesses through this crisis and building back better. Budget 2021 not only supports Canadians and businesses as they work their way out of the COVID pandemic, it also invests in the future of our country. Budget 2021 proposes to extend the Canada emergency wage subsidy, the Canada emergency rent subsidy and lockdown support to save jobs and ensure businesses are ready when the economy fully reopens.
The third priority is to build back better. On this front, budget 2021 sets us firmly on a path to a brighter tomorrow. The COVID-19 recession has affected everyone, but the impacts have not been equal. In the labour market, women were hit earlier and harder and their jobs continue to recover more slowly. Long-standing gender inequities have only been amplified over the course of the pandemic, which has put decades of hard-fought gains for women in the workplace at risk.
To date, more than 16,000 women have dropped out of the labour force completely while the male labour force has grown by 91,000. This is a “she-cession”. Budget 2021 lays out an expansive jobs and growth plan that seeks to build a recovery that gives all women in Canada the ability to fully participate in our economy. It proposes providing up to $146.9 million over four years to strengthen the women entrepreneurship strategy, which allows women entrepreneurs greater access to financing, mentorship and training. We must build back a better and fairer Canada.
Budget 2021's historic investments in early learning and child care, in youth and innovation and in housing will all contribute to a more inclusive country and a more solid recovery. In particular, we are proposing a truly generational investment in a Canada-wide system of quality, affordable child care. This budget commits up to $30 billion over five years to work with provincial, territorial and indigenous partners to build this system. By 2025-26, these investments will reach a minimum of $8.3 billion per year ongoing, including indigenous early learning and child care. Our vision is to reduce costs for parents to an average of $10 a day by 2026 everywhere outside of Quebec, which already has its own affordable public system. This would start with a 50% reduction in average fees by 2022. This will make a huge difference for Canadian families.
Quebec began putting in place a universal system of child care centres more than 20 years ago, and we must learn from its experience.
Today, the participation rate in the economy for women with young children is higher in Quebec than in the rest of Canada. In fact, Quebec's rate is among the highest in the world.
The Canada-wide early learning and child care system will help more women participate in the workforce. It will also help more children get a good start in life, and it will support Canadians who need it the most. It will stimulate our economy.
We know that our economy needs a boost. Today, approximately 296,000 people are still out of work because of the pandemic, and another 247,000 are facing sharply reduced work hours, which could mean sharply reduced wages as well.
Job creation is a very important aspect of the budget. I would even say that it is a priority. The measures we are proposing will create half a million job and training opportunities for workers over coming years. There will be 500,000 jobs, including 215,000 for youth.
Young Canadians have been hit hard by the pandemic and job losses. However, the impact goes even deeper. The pandemic has had the greatest impact on youth mental health.
We cannot sacrifice Canadian youth because of the pandemic. The budget therefore includes assistance for young Canadians, including those from low-income households, who wish to pursue and complete their education, and provides additional relief from student loan debt.
In the 2021 budget, we are also continuing to help Canadian businesses, particularly small and medium-size businesses, adopt new technologies. The pandemic has hastened the economy's digital transformation. Businesses, workers and consumers are doing more and more business online. By helping businesses shift to digital, we are helping them become more productive and create good jobs, including for young people.
The budget measures also consolidate Canada's position as a world leader in research, innovation and the economy of tomorrow. That is what building back better means.
We know that the COVID-19 recession has also widened the gaps in access to housing for Canadians. These gaps must be closed if we want to build back better. The investments included in budget 2021 would provide thousands of families with safe and affordable places to call home. In real numbers, $1.5 billion in additional funding for the rapid housing initiative will add 4,500 new affordable housing units, on top of the 4,700 units that were already funded through the program in the fall 2020 economic statement.
The budget provides an additional $567 million over two years for the reaching home program: Canada's strategy to end chronic homelessness. Let me tell colleagues that this investment in affordable housing will make a real difference in Ottawa—Vanier, the riding I have the honour to represent. Just yesterday evening, I had the opportunity to speak with local stakeholders at the Shepherds of Good Hope, who told me how critical it is that we do whatever it takes to end chronic homelessness.
We are also proposing to enhance the affordable housing innovation fund. This would create up to 12,700 units in addition to the 17,600 units supported by the program to date.
These investments would not only make sure that tens of thousands of families have safe places to call home, they would create good, middle-class jobs and prosperity.
We know that the COVID-19 recession has also widened the gaps in access to housing for Canadians. These gaps must be closed if we want to build back better. The investments included in budget 2021 would provide thousands of families with safe and affordable places to call home.
In real numbers, $1.5 billion in additional funding for the rapid housing initiative will add 4,500 new affordable housing units, on top of the 4,700 units that were already funded through the program in the fall 2020 economic statement.
The budget provides an additional $567 million over two years for the reaching home program: Canada's strategy to end chronic homelessness. This investment in affordable housing will make a real difference in Ottawa—Vanier, the riding I have the honour to represent. Just yesterday evening, I had the opportunity to speak with local stakeholders, including the Shepherds of Good Hope, who told me how critical it is that we do whatever it takes to end chronic homelessness.
We are also proposing to enhance the affordable housing innovation fund. This would create up to 12,700 units in addition to the 17,600 units supported by the program to date. These investments would not only make sure that tens of thousands of families have safe places to call home, they would create good, middle-class jobs and prosperity.
Increasing the amount of affordable housing is one of the many things this budget does to support and strengthen the middle class. This is a priority, and it should come as a surprise to no one. Since day one, this government has made consistent efforts to support the middle class.
Early in both of our mandates, we cut taxes for middle-class Canadians. Millions of Canadians are benefiting from these measures and the reason for them is quite simple. We cannot have a strong economy without a strong middle class. It is a matter of fairness. Fairness is also why we have raised the taxes on the wealthiest 1% while lowering taxes for the middle class.
We also know that we have to work hard for all Canadians who want to join the middle class. The 2021 budget enhances the Canada workers benefit, which, over six years, will put almost $9 billion into the pockets of Canadian workers in low-paying jobs. This is an important investment because, in all of our ridings, low-paid workers are often the front-line workers in our local grocery and hardware stores.
These workers need more help to pay their bills. The proposed changes mean that, for the first time, single parents working full-time will be eligible for up to $2,403 in non-taxable financial assistance. To allow more Canadians to join the middle class, our government intends to introduce a $15 minimum wage, keeping its promise to Canadians.
Building back better means helping those most in need and supporting businesses wisely. The 2021 budget will allow businesses to immediately expense a large portion of their investments. This will be particularly useful for small and medium-size businesses, because it will make growth-stimulating investments more attractive. It will also free up capital that can be used to create more good jobs.
To create more jobs and support green growth, the budget will also reduce the tax rates of businesses that manufacture zero-emission technologies. All of these measures will improve Canada's competitiveness, attract investment to the country and create good, well-paid jobs.
Strong small businesses and resilient communities are the backbone of a strong economy and a growing middle class.
We have seen some encouraging signs of recovery. Canada's real gross domestic product rose by almost 10% in the fourth quarter of 2020, building on a record gain of over 40% in the third quarter. This is obviously good news, but we know those numbers do not tell the whole story. A recovery plan that would focus on GDP alone would risk leaving people behind, and we do not do that.
Even before the pandemic, the government was clear: We need to look beyond the gross domestic product, or GDP, if we really want to grow the economy for the welfare of all Canadians. Statistics like the GDP tell us about the growth of economic activity overall, but do not say much about the quality of life of a family with two children that cannot find affordable housing.
An effective recovery plan is one that helps these families find a place to live, helps their children on the path from day care to university, gives parents the training they need to find and keep good jobs, and protects grandparents as well. In short, we need a recovery plan that allows these families and all Canadians to enjoy a good quality of life, as well as growing the GDP.
COVID-19 has had an enormous impact on the quality of life of many Canadians. I am obviously thinking about the impact on health, but many of our fellow Canadians are also at grips with job loss, mental health issues and social isolation.
The pandemic has highlighted inequities in many societies, and Canada is no exception. We can do better, and we must do better. Budget 2021 proposes measures to improve the quality of life of many Canadians. As I have said earlier, it would give every child the best start in life by establishing a Canada-wide early learning child care system. This would also support parents who want to work because, without child care, parents, often mothers, cannot work.
Budget 2021 would also help ensure that seniors and those in care live in safe and dignified conditions by helping provinces and territories strengthen long-term care. It would increase old age security for seniors aged 75 and more. It would help young Canadians complete their education and get a job by making education more accessible and by creating job skills development and work opportunities.
It would help more families find a safe place to call home thanks to new investments in affordable housing. It would lift nearly 100,000 people out of poverty with the proposed changes to the Canada workers benefit by expanding eligibility and, for the first time, providing substantial support for full-time minimum wage workers. As well, this budget proposes to create the new Canada recovery hiring program, which would allow businesses hard hit by the pandemic to hire the workers they need during the economic recovery. It would also accelerate access to high-speed Internet in rural and remote communities, but it would not stop there.
Advancing a national action plan to end gender-based violence would give survivors reliable and timely access to protection and services. Addressing the gap in health outcomes faced by first nations, Inuit and Métis people through a broader approach to health and well-being would lead to healthier, safer and more prosperous indigenous communities.
We have also committed to promoting both our official languages thanks to historic investments aimed at supporting the vitality of official language minority communities and fostering bilingualism in Canada.
Budget 2021 earmarks more than $390 million for this initiative, including $8.7 million for the modernization of the Official Languages Act. Moreover, our enhancement of the women entrepreneurship strategy will give businesswomen greater access to financing, mentoring and training activities.
The budget will also enhance diversity in business governance. In short, economic growth is important, but we also need to measure our qualitative progress to be able to develop the appropriate policies. In this regard, I would like to point out that quality of life is already a criterion for government decision-making, and it will continue to guide our efforts to improve Canadians’ quality of life.
Budget 2021 is truly a recovery plan for jobs, growth and resilience. For jobs, this budget would create half a million new training and work experience opportunities for Canadians. For growth, the investments in early learning and child care, small businesses, students, innovation, housing and the green economy would lead to a growth that benefits everyone. As for resilience, after more than a year of battling COVID-19 day in and day out, I think we can all say that Canadians are resilient.
Budget 2021 would strengthen that resilience by supporting those who are under-represented in the economy, fighting climate change, building on innovation and moving forward with reconciliation with indigenous peoples. It is time to finish the fight against COVID and to invest in a better, fairer, greener, more prosperous and more innovative Canada.
Canadians have been battered by COVID-19, but we will overcome the pandemic. In fact, not only will we overcome the pandemic, we will rebuild a more prosperous country and economy for all Canadians.
The 2021 budget contains measures to heal the wounds left by the pandemic and to help Canada bounce back and become even more prosperous, both for us and for the generations to come.
View Cathy McLeod Profile
CPC (BC)
Mr. Speaker, I greeted the presentation yesterday with both skepticism and concern. My question will focus around the skepticism and hopefully later I can talk about the concerns.
The Liberal government has promised democratic reform. For over 29 years it promised child care. For over 24 years it promised a pharmacy plan. It made fiscal commitments prior to the pandemic. It promised to end boil water advisories on reserves and introduce an action plan for missing and murdered indigenous women and girls.
In his mandate letter to the finance minister, the Prime Minister stated that there will be no new fiscal programs, and he asked the minister to create a new fiscal anchor. If the mandate letter from the Prime Minister to the finance minister means nothing, and the government has such a history of breaking almost every important promise it has made to Canadians, why should we greet this particular document with anything other than skepticism?
View Mona Fortier Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mona Fortier Profile
2021-04-20 12:14 [p.5843]
Mr. Speaker, we have realized many things in the five years since we have formed government. We have ended many boil advisories. Yes, we still have some to get to, but we have dedicated this budget to continuing the work we have been doing to help with that initiative and the many more we have been working on.
We will continue to fight the pandemic, as well as support Canadian families, businesses and workers to ensure a bridge toward recovery. This is what we are presenting, a budget that has Canadians' backs. We have a plan for that.
View Denis Trudel Profile
BQ (QC)
View Denis Trudel Profile
2021-04-20 12:15 [p.5843]
Mr. Speaker, you would really have to live on Mars not to notice that there is currently a housing crisis in Quebec and Canada.
The government is relaunching the rapid housing initiative, which is not a bad program. Last fall, they announced $1 billion in funding. Unfortunately, Quebecers who submitted projects under the first billion-dollar program have not even heard back from the government.
The budget proposes investing $1.5 billion, which is not bad in itself. However, under the first program, the government received applications for more than $4 billion. Clearly, there is a demand for this type of program but, once again, the government is merely tossing a few coins around.
I think it is time to have a real national housing strategy in Quebec and Canada to deal with the problem. We should keep in mind that housing is one of the main indicators of extreme poverty.
When will the government implement a real national housing strategy to deal with poverty in Quebec and Canada?
View Mona Fortier Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mona Fortier Profile
2021-04-20 12:17 [p.5844]
Mr. Speaker, we implemented the national housing strategy in 2017, and it changed things for many communities across Canada.
A few months ago, we implemented the rapid housing initiative, and many regions of Quebec will be able to benefit from it. The program changes things in communities, and it has even exceeded expectations. Our target was approximately 3,500 units. As I said in my statement, we were able to rapidly create 4,700 units across the country. There are four projects under way in my community, two of them in my riding.
We found that the program was effective. In the pre-budget consultations, the communities asked that we continue the program, because many of the initiatives had still not been financed.
The government intends to invest $1.5 billion in rapid housing, since demand for units is high. We will therefore be able to help people find housing more quickly.
View Alistair MacGregor Profile
NDP (BC)
Mr. Speaker, I know the minister devoted a bit of her speech to talking about the middle class, but I would like to centre my comments on the working class, specifically with regard to the precarious and part-time workers, those who are in retail, tourism, and arts and entertainment.
The government has acknowledged that this pandemic has disproportionately affected women, young people and racialized Canadians, and many of those groups work in these industries. The government also recognizes that it may need to expand measures like the Canada recovery benefit beyond September, into November, recognizing that we are not out of the woods yet.
Why did the government pick an arbitrary date in July to reduce the Canada recovery benefit by $200 a week? That is going to be an $800-a-month hit to precisely the same people the government has identified as having been disproportionately affected by this pandemic. Why is it kicking these people when they are already down and have suffered so much? Why is it making these people pay for the pandemic, rather than the wealthy and well-connected?
View Mona Fortier Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mona Fortier Profile
2021-04-20 12:19 [p.5844]
Mr. Speaker, I agree with the hon. member. We know that many groups were affected deeply with this crisis, and at the beginning we brought forward the CERB to help them get through the first wave. Then we adapted our programs to make sure the Canada recovery benefit can continue to support those low-wage workers, women, racialized and indigenous communities that need support. We will continue to support them as we go through this third wave.
We are also including a lot of investments to support the sectors that have been really affected, such as tourism and hospitality. For example, over $500 million will be invested in the tourism sector. We have clearly listened to Canadians during the pre-budget consultations. We have looked at how people are affected, and we have been adapting our programs to make sure we continue to have Canadians' backs. That is what we will continue to do—
View Bruce Stanton Profile
CPC (ON)
View Bruce Stanton Profile
2021-04-20 12:21 [p.5844]
Questions and comments, the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance.
View Sean Fraser Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Sean Fraser Profile
2021-04-20 12:21 [p.5844]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the minister, whom I have the pleasure of serving in the capacity of her parliamentary secretary as well, for her leadership in particular on the consultation process in advance of this budget.
One of the things I heard while taking part in that process of consultation was the importance of recognizing the disproportionate negative impact that COVID-19 has had on the economic well-being of women in the Canadian economy. Obviously, a marquee initiative outlined in the budget is a $30-billion investment to establish Canada's first nationwide early learning and child care system.
I am curious if the minister can shed light not only on the value to supporting women and the cost savings this would have for families, but on the economic return we expect to see as a result of this investment, because it would allow more women to take part in the economy. I would be grateful if the minister could shed light on the economic value of this investment.
View Mona Fortier Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mona Fortier Profile
2021-04-20 12:22 [p.5844]
Mr. Speaker, I also want to thank my hon. colleague for his hard work in getting this budget done and also for listening to Canadians, not only in the past months but in the last years, and making sure we focus on what we really need to do on the ground to bring forward those measures.
The Canada early learning and child care initiative is a transformative one. We know this will be a transformative investment. We know it will bring women back to work. We know it will also give our children a better-quality education and get them started early.
As a mother of three, I went through the challenges of not being able to have access to day care. I had to set up my own day care in my basement. We are going to be bringing forward, and working with provinces and territories to set up, an early learning and child care system that will help parents have better affordability. For 2026, we are looking at having a $10-a-day day care. That is going to make a big difference in putting money into families' pockets, so they are able to better sustain their homes and put food on the table, while making sure we can also grow the economy.
It would create very good jobs. The care economy is something we really need to focus on. Experts have shared it, and many parliamentarians have had debates in the House about this, and we should all be working together to make sure the care economy is—
View Bruce Stanton Profile
CPC (ON)
View Bruce Stanton Profile
2021-04-20 12:24 [p.5845]
We will have to leave it there. The time has expired for this segment.
Resuming debate, the hon. member for Kildonan—St. Paul.
View Raquel Dancho Profile
CPC (MB)
View Raquel Dancho Profile
2021-04-20 12:24 [p.5845]
Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Mégantic—L'Érable.
Yesterday, the federal Liberal government tabled its first budget in over two years, which happens to be the longest period of time our country has been without a budget in Canadian history. It was the first budget in a crisis so vast in scale that the last time we faced a crisis of this magnitude was the Second World War. That was the last time Canada was at this level of financial burden. This was also my first budget as a member of Parliament.
All things considered, the pressure was on for the Liberal government to get this right and deliver a real plan to secure Canada, to get us out of this crisis and to recover our economy. I listened very intently to the budget speech yesterday, hoping to hear something that would give me and the people of my generation the confidence that the Canada of tomorrow will be better than the Canada of today. However, I regret to say that, following the Deputy Prime Minister's speech, I did not feel that confidence.
As Canada braces for the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, I have spent a significant amount of time, as we all have, reflecting on what is at stake. The crisis we face in this country and around the world—the uncertainty of the future, the uncharted waters and the millions of deaths and economic casualties—feels at times unsurmountable. Every week, I spend a morning calling my constituents, and I can confidently and sadly say that the anxiety, the fear and the worry are palpable.
Confidence in the future is not a common commodity among the people right now, and it is really no wonder. Tens of thousands of small businesses have closed, as we know, each one representing a Canadian family that put its heart and soul, years of sacrifice and work into its business, which contributed to the cultural landscapes of our communities. Millions more Canadians depended on these businesses for employment to put food on their tables and to live their lives, and now these opportunities are gone. It is predicted that 220,000 businesses may close before this is all over, which may impact another three million jobs.
What is frustrating is that not all countries in the world are facing a third wave as we are here in Canada. The United States seems to be well on the road to recovery. It is the same thing with the United Kingdom, which is holding fast to its plan to fully reopen in two months. So, why is this not the case in Canada? This is really what I do not quite understand. Why is it that the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic is now raging in Canada's four largest provinces, with Ontario entering a six-week stay-at-home order and closing schools indefinitely to try to stem the exponential growth of this virus? Manitoba just announced further restrictions as well.
If we listen to the Liberal government, it is trying to pin the blame for this third wave on the provinces. Yet, if nearly every province is facing this third wave and if other countries are managing to do better, perhaps the fault lies with the lack of national leadership, with our Prime Minister and his Liberal government.
Canada has more deaths of people over 85 years of age than do our American counterparts, and we now exceed the U.S. in new per capita cases. The U.S. has provided its citizens with over 250 million vaccines, and in Canada we have had less than 10 million. It is really shocking how far apart we are from our neighbours to the south and across the pond. Just last week, the Prime Minister stood in this House and repeated this bizarre misinformation that the U.K. was in the midst of a third wave, when in fact the U.K.'s daily COVID infection rates are a quarter of Canada's daily total, despite having double our population.
It seems that countries that more successfully procured vaccines have been able to prevent the level of death, hospitalizations and economic closures that Canada is now experiencing. Canadians are paying the price for Liberal mismanagement of the pandemic. This third wave is the Prime Minister's third wave, and he has left Canadians unprotected and not secure.
If the third wave was not enough for Canadians to deal with, now we have a budget from the Liberal government that does little to get us out of this pandemic. In fact, there seems to be very little in the budget overall that can make Canadians feel secure in the future and feel that it is going to get better. There did not seem to be a coherent, thoughtful, strategic or innovative plan for recovery in this budget, and I do believe Canadians were really hoping to see something like this. I think they were hoping to wake up in the morning and see headlines like “Finally a Plan”, yet that was not the case.
We now know that the deficit for this past difficult year is $354 billion, and next year it is projected to be $154 billion. Further, the budget predicts that our federal debt will grow to $1.4 trillion by 2026, which is double what it was before the pandemic, which means that the debt that was created in 150 years was doubled in a few short years.
The Minister of Finance continues to tell us that it is all good and we can afford this because interest rates are low. However, Jack Mintz, professor at the University of Calgary's school of public policy, has said:
It’s kind of like rolling the dice.... We are hoping that this huge amount of stimulus won’t impact inflation and interest rates even within the next five years or beyond.
Therefore, we are hoping, but there really is no guarantee. The Liberals are just guessing and hoping that this tremendous gamble, gambling the future of Canada, will all work out and everything will be just fine. However, we know from six years of Liberal government that the Liberals do not keep their promises to Canadians. Despite promising in 2015 that they would run only three modest deficits of $10 billion, which we all remember, the Liberals spent over $100 billion in deficits in their first four years. They justified this by promising it would create amazing economic growth, yet Canadians experienced sluggish economic growth during the Liberals' first term. As the Conservatives warned before the pandemic crisis, spending $100 billion of debt with little economic growth was foolish and selfish and left us more financially vulnerable when and if a crisis hit Canada; and then it did hit Canada.
The truth is that the overwhelming majority of members who rise to speak to this budget will not have to deal with the long-term or even medium-term consequences of this type of spending and this mismanagement. It is my generation that will be on the hook for this bill. As it now stands, we are the first generation since World War II to inherit a worse economy from our parents. Millennials are dealing with a decimated job market, soaring housing costs, increased debt and a dim economic future with what seems to be no end in sight, and the situation has only intensified after six years of the Liberal government. The last time, the Liberal deficits did not work to create economic growth, so why should the Canadian people trust that this time it will be different, that all the spending announced yesterday will deliver better results? I am not buying it.
Despite all of this, all these deaths and all these closures, the loss of freedoms for well over a year, the fear, the anxiety, the worry and the incomprehensible spending and debt burden for future generations, what has been the tone from the Liberal government? How has it really been viewing this crisis? From last week's Liberal Party convention, we know how the Deputy Prime Minister sees this crisis: “COVID has created a window of political opportunity”. She said that.
Then, when the Prime Minister was asked last week if he would do anything differently to avoid the devastation of the third wave, he simply replied that he had no regrets and would not change a thing. This is not leadership. This is political opportunism and a Liberal Prime Minister who fails to grasp the severity of his failures.
People wonder if perhaps the Liberal government does not take the time to speak to isolated seniors or out-of-work newcomers or devastated small business owners to truly try to understand what the past 13 months have done to people in Canada. I feel that if it had, it would never have made these offensive and insensitive comments. These comments do not make Canadians feel secure that the Liberal government knows what it is doing.
To conclude, I will share, yet again, what I am hearing on the ground in my own riding, where I have spoken to many parents who tell me their little children are depressed and do not want to eat. I have had elderly women being very emotional with me on the phone, saying they do not want to spend the last few months or years that they have on this earth locked in their apartments away from their grandkids. I have had grown men cry to me on the phone as they have watched their life's work, their small business, go up in flames.
The most frustrating part for everyone is that there is nothing they can do about it. They cannot force the Liberal government to care or to show competency or to prevent the third wave. They cannot go back in time and stop the Liberals from wasting a hundred days betting on a Chinese company to produce vaccines for Canada, only to be embarrassed and dismissed by the Communist Party of China, putting Canadians three months behind other countries for viable vaccines. They cannot go back and force the Liberals to heed the Conservatives' advice to close the borders when we first learned of this mysterious virus wreaking havoc on China, and later Italy.
That is our job as parliamentarians, to hold the Liberal Prime Minister to account. I, along with my Conservative colleagues, have been standing virtually in this House for months, over a year, pleading, asking, demanding that the Liberals show leadership, put forward an innovative, strategic plan and take care of our country's finances so they do not bankrupt Canadians and bring on a second Great Depression. I wish Canada's Prime Minister would acknowledge the impact of his decisions and lead with humility, given the enormous toll his mistakes have had on Canadians, and bring forward a real plan to get us out of this.
I will close by saying that I am proud of the resilience and the strength of the people of Kildonan—St. Paul. I am thankful for their prayers, their kindness and their support. That support gives me strength to keep going in the tough days. It is my duty to represent them, and I will continue to faithfully fight these battles on their behalf and fulfill my duty as their member of Parliament.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2021-04-20 12:34 [p.5847]
Mr. Speaker, it is disappointing to listen to Conservatives spin or provide misinformation. The government from day one, whether with the Canada emergency wage subsidy, emergency rent subsidy, emergency business account, credit availability program, CERB program, or direct support for seniors and people with disabilities and so much more, has been there for Canadians in a very real and tangible way over the last 12 months plus. We will have over 40 million doses of vaccines before the end of June.
Can the member tell the House if she believes that it was the federal government's fault that Manitoba was leading during the second wave back in November? We need to recognize that we have a federation and provinces do have a role to play. The federal government has been there in a tangible way. Has it been perfect? No, but we have made the changes and the modifications. This budget embodies a way in which we can build back better. That is what Canadians want: strong leadership. They are at least getting it from one political entity inside this chamber, the best I can tell, based on the speeches I have been hearing.
I wonder if the member might want to reflect on some of her comments and recognize the many good visionary things—
View Bruce Stanton Profile
CPC (ON)
View Bruce Stanton Profile
2021-04-20 12:35 [p.5847]
The hon. member for Kildonan—St. Paul.
View Raquel Dancho Profile
CPC (MB)
View Raquel Dancho Profile
2021-04-20 12:35 [p.5847]
Mr. Speaker, it is disappointing that the member, again, like many of his colleagues, has yet to show humility for the shortcomings of his Liberal government. In the speech I gave I was trying to be very honest and earnest about what I have heard.
I do stand firm on the position that if the Prime Minister had provided real leadership we would not be in a third wave of the pandemic, experiencing hundreds more deaths and thousands more business closures. That is on the Prime Minister.
View Jack Harris Profile
NDP (NL)
View Jack Harris Profile
2021-04-20 12:36 [p.5847]
Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate the hon. member on her speech. She noted that this is her first budget, which is a big thing, and there are lots of big numbers showing up in it.
Throughout the pandemic—
View Bruce Stanton Profile
CPC (ON)
View Bruce Stanton Profile
2021-04-20 12:36 [p.5847]
I am just going to interrupt the hon. member.
The hon. member for Drummond on a point of order.
View Martin Champoux Profile
BQ (QC)
View Martin Champoux Profile
2021-04-20 12:36 [p.5847]
Mr. Speaker, I do not think the member has the equipment needed to speak because he does not have his headset on.
View Bruce Stanton Profile
CPC (ON)
View Bruce Stanton Profile
2021-04-20 12:37 [p.5847]
I can see that the hon. member for St. John's East has switched his audio device. We will just ask him to start again with his question to make sure that we have the audio functioning properly.
I thank the hon. member for Drummond for his comments.
The hon. member.
View Jack Harris Profile
NDP (NL)
View Jack Harris Profile
2021-04-20 12:37 [p.5847]
Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for reminding me of that. It is important for the interpreters.
I want to congratulate the hon. member on her speech. She mentioned at the beginning that this is her first budget. The numbers are huge, as we all know, and the Conservatives, throughout the pandemic, have been expressing concerns about the enormous amount of money being spent.
I just want to ask the member whether she thinks there ought to be a little bit more fairness as to who will actually pay for the cost of this pandemic. We have been talking about the necessity for a wealth tax and the fact that during this pandemic billionaires have earned billions more money. Would she and her colleagues support a fair share of the cost of this being paid for by the ultra wealthy?
View Raquel Dancho Profile
CPC (MB)
View Raquel Dancho Profile
2021-04-20 12:38 [p.5847]
Mr. Speaker, the people who we should ask whether it is fair for them to pay for this are the members of my generation. The millennial generation and their children are going to be the ones burdening the tax increases that will surely come to pay for this. We know that inflation is coming. We know that higher interest rates are coming and, yet, the Liberal government before the pandemic was setting us up for failure, should a crisis hit.
As I mentioned in my speech, we were left with low defences because of the amount of money that was spent before. Now with this unbelievable amount of spending, we have doubled Canadian debt. It took 150 years to acquire that debt and we have doubled that in now, what, two years? It is unbelievable, so I think the unfairness lies with future generations who are going to have to pay for this.
There has been zero acknowledgement from the Liberal government of the debt burden it is putting on future generations and the severe consequences that may have on the public services provided by the Canadian taxpayer from the federal government.
View Martin Champoux Profile
BQ (QC)
View Martin Champoux Profile
2021-04-20 12:39 [p.5847]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to hear what my colleague from Kildonan—St. Paul thinks about the things that were not in the budget and about the fact that the provincial governments and the Quebec government are once again being left with an underfunded health care system, because the federal share is dwindling year after year and the Liberal government refuses to increase health care transfers.
There is also the matter of regional media. I am sure that there are regional media outlets in her riding that are having a hard time because of the crisis. I would like her to share her comments on these things that the budget failed to include.
View Raquel Dancho Profile
CPC (MB)
View Raquel Dancho Profile
2021-04-20 12:40 [p.5848]
Mr. Speaker, there are a number of things not in this budget, like a plan for how we are going to get out of this and a real, strategic, innovative, thoughtful plan of how we are going to get our economy back to normal to make sure the days of tomorrow are better than the days of today.
On the health care transfers, the Conservatives have been very clear. We know that the health care burden on the provinces is incredible and we believe that provinces should have more autonomy to spend health care dollars how they see fit in their regions. We know no two regions are the same.
What is interesting is that the Liberal government will say that vaccine distribution is a provincial jurisdiction, this is provincial jurisdiction, that is the province's jurisdiction, so it is not the government's fault, it is the provinces' fault, and yet when it comes to something like the child care announcement, which is clearly in provincial jurisdiction, that is not a problem to the Liberals. They are happy to spend billions of dollars in the provincial jurisdiction when it suits their electoral fortunes.
View Luc Berthold Profile
CPC (QC)
View Luc Berthold Profile
2021-04-20 12:41 [p.5848]
Mr. Speaker, I want to begin by commending my colleague from Kildonan—St. Paul for her excellent speech. She did a great job of identifying the positive and negative aspects of the budget speech that was given yesterday by the Minister of Finance.
I also want to commend the Minister of Finance on her first budget. Yesterday was a historic moment in the House of Commons. The minister was the first woman to ever present a budget speech. I think that is worth pointing out and celebrating.
Obviously, I am not going to spend 10 minutes singing the praises of the finance minister, but I do want to quote her. She said before that the budget she was going to present would be the most significant of our lifetime. She was not wrong. This budget will go down in Canadian history as the highest-spending budget ever.
The Minister of Finance made sure of it by presenting a budget containing spending measures beyond belief. Everyone in the Liberal Party of Canada's voting base who had a request got a little something in the budget. Of course, there was $100 billion to spread around. The Liberal government was handing out money like drinks at an open bar. Some people must be sorry they did not ask for anything, because they probably would have gotten it.
That being said, the Canadian provinces made requests, but they were ignored. We would have expected a budget announcing the end of the pandemic to focus on bolstering the fight against the pandemic and making sure we never find ourselves in this situation again.
Unfortunately, the Liberal government did not say a word about health transfers. There are not even any plans for that. The budget makes mention of many plans, but none of them have anything to do with health transfers to the provinces. What the Liberal government presented yesterday was an election budget.
It is clearly a red-ink budget. It was probably drafted at a time when the Prime Minister was thinking about triggering an early election because he has a minority government. Unfortunately, since he was unable to procure enough vaccines for Canadians, a third wave hit. We will have a lot of vaccines by the fall, but when we needed them, when it was important for all Canadians to be vaccinated, there were none. That is why there was a third wave of COVID-19, because the Prime Minister and his government were unable to anticipate our vaccine needs and failed to negotiate at the right time.
We have been given something halfway between a pre-election budget and a pandemic budget, and we clearly saw that choices had been made. We approve of some of the measures. In fact, some of the measures announced yesterday are worth mentioning. They are actually measures that we asked for. They are measures that were needed, like extending the emergency programs to help Canadians and businesses. In my opinion, given the situation Canada is currently in, it was obvious that the government needed to maintain them.
One would have expected the budget to provide a little hope and give some indication of what will happen after all Canadians have been vaccinated later this year. Unfortunately, this budget has just a smattering of the measures that Canadians have been calling for over the past few weeks and months. More than anything, it is a Liberal pre-election platform.
Were it not for the pandemic, not even this Liberal government would have dared to present this kind of agenda. The pandemic was the perfect excuse to come up with a pre-election budget. The ultimate proof is the $500 that will be sent to seniors aged 75 and over in August, which is most likely the best window for calling the election.
I am not the only one saying so. All political commentators are confirming what I am saying here this morning.
My office received many telephone calls this morning. Everyone is asking why that money is going only to people aged 75 and over, and why the Liberal government is ignoring those aged 65 to 75 in this budget. People are wondering what they did to be left out of that measure, because they have the same needs. Sometimes their needs are even greater, since they tend to be active and want to participate in the economy. Unfortunately, we have not gotten an answer.
We asked for clear and specific action to be taken to help Canadians and stimulate the economy. Our leader, Erin O'Toole, has presented an economic recovery plan.
Mr. Speaker, I apologize for naming one of my colleagues in the House.
The opposition leader called for clear, targeted, temporary measures to stimulate our economy. Unfortunately, what the budget actually contains is an assortment of superficial measures lacking a clear, precise, concrete objective. We asked the government for measures to stimulate our economy. We agreed on the principle. Unfortunately, that is not what we got.
Economic stimulus means having job creation targets and a plan to end public spending and get out of the recession. What the government presented yesterday contains none of that.
Commenting on this government and the idea of balancing the budget, pundit Bernard Drainville said this morning that it is as though this government takes special pride in not balancing the budget. That concept scares Liberals.
We all remember the Liberals' 2015 promise about running small deficits and balancing the budget by the end of their term. Not only did that not happen, but we also ended up with a $100-billion deficit before the pandemic even hit.
Today the government is announcing a $354-billion deficit for last year and more than $150 billion for this year. Deficits will continue to pile up like that to the point that we will have to start a using a new word when talking about public finances. That word is “trillion”, and that is how big Canada's deficit will soon be. Canadians will be $1 trillion in debt. This budget adds half a trillion dollars to the debt. We have to take these things very seriously and think of future generations.
I would like to talk about the national child care service. My wife is an early childhood educator. Yesterday, the government made a big deal about this announcement to impose a single Canada-wide child care system on the provinces. In its budget, it has allocated $30 billion to create this system. It did not mention that part of that amount will be paid directly to Quebec, which established this system many years ago.
Had this been an economic recovery measure, we might have understood. However, I know and respect the work of Quebec's early childhood educators, and I know that they must have a minimum of three years of training, and it also takes time to build and upgrade these buildings. Do the Liberals honestly believe they can deliver what they have put in the budget and that it will contribute to our post-pandemic economic recovery?
It is quite simply impossible. It is not an economic recovery measure. The Liberals are making a promise that they may not be able to keep, because there will be an election in the meantime. Once again, we have become accustomed to the Liberals making announcements and not keeping their promises.
In closing, I want to mention something else that is conspicuously absent from the budget: compensation for supply-managed dairy farmers under the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement. Despite all the billions of dollars it dished out yesterday, the government was unable to keep its promise to fully compensate supply-managed farmers for their losses. We certainly must take note. The government probably thought that group had already received enough in the past and did not need any goodies before the next election.
That is what I dislike about this budget. The government is trying to please so many people without thinking about the future. The 724 pages that were presented to us yesterday tell us that the future is not important to the Liberals.
View Mario Beaulieu Profile
BQ (QC)
View Mario Beaulieu Profile
2021-04-20 12:51 [p.5849]
Mr. Speaker, I would like my colleague's thoughts on two things in particular.
First, how does he square the federal government's penchant for centralization with its refusal to increase health transfers? Every year, Quebec sends half of its taxes to the federal government. Cuts were made—
View Bruce Stanton Profile
CPC (ON)
View Bruce Stanton Profile
2021-04-20 12:51 [p.5849]
Order. I must interrupt the hon. member to ask him to wear his headset and repeat his question for the hon. member for Mégantic—L’Érable.
View Mario Beaulieu Profile
BQ (QC)
View Mario Beaulieu Profile
2021-04-20 12:52 [p.5849]
Mr. Speaker, first, how does the member square the Liberal government's penchant for centralizing decision-making, even on matters of provincial jurisdiction, with its refusal to increase health transfers? In the 1960s and 1970s, the federal government funded 50% of health care expenditures. Today, it funds just 22%, and health care systems like Quebec's are always at breaking point as a result of this chronic underfunding. Why does the Liberal government keep refusing to restore health transfers while trying to impose standards on the Government of Quebec and the provinces?
Second, we know that seniors have suffered the most during this pandemic. It is bordering on insulting to offer a paltry $500 to seniors over the age of 75. Why not increase pensions? The Bloc Québécois is calling for old age security to be increased by $110 a month. Seniors built Quebec and Canada. They should be able to live decently and maintain their purchasing power.
View Luc Berthold Profile
CPC (QC)
View Luc Berthold Profile
2021-04-20 12:54 [p.5849]
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from La Pointe-de-l’Île for his questions. It is not very often that we agree on all of the points he mentioned.
To answer his question, it is in the Liberals' DNA to want to centralize and to preach to the provinces. It is therefore clear that they were not going to use an election budget to meet the legitimate demands of the provinces.
With regard to health care for seniors, what stood out to me is the fact that the Liberal government allocated $3 billion in the budget for measures affecting Quebec's long-term care facilities. However, this morning, the Quebec finance minister described that amount as a pittance, since it will have no impact over the next five years. What is more, the federal government wants to impose national standards in Quebec's long-term care facilities.
It is in the Liberals' DNA to want to impose their solutions and their views on the provinces. There is a well-known expression that says, “Ottawa knows best”, which, in this case, can be interpreted as, “the Liberals think they know best”.
View Charlie Angus Profile
NDP (ON)
View Charlie Angus Profile
2021-04-20 12:55 [p.5850]
Mr. Speaker, one thing that is really important for people to understand is how fundamentally different the economy of northern Ontario is from the rest of Ontario. We are resource-based and we are isolated. The resources that are created in the north go to Queen's Park or they go to Ottawa, and we have to go cap-in-hand and beg for programs to maintain some kind of balance.
I noticed one thing in the budget that is really important for people to recognize. The New Democrats have been pushing for FedNor to be a stand-alone agency for years, something the Conservatives refused to do. The Liberals have ridiculed it up until now and we have seen nothing from its northern members to defend northern Ontario. The Liberal government has finally realized that the New Democrats are right and has established FedNor as a stand-alone agency. It will be in the same category as all the other economic development agencies in the country.
Up until now, northern Ontario has been the poor, underfunded cousin. It is really important for the House to recognize that northern Ontario has a right to proper economic development and FedNor, as a stand-alone agency, will make a huge difference for our region.
View Luc Berthold Profile
CPC (QC)
View Luc Berthold Profile
2021-04-20 12:56 [p.5850]
Mr. Speaker, as I said, the Conservative Party wanted the government to include specific measures in the budget in order to help every region of the country to grow.
As long as FedNor has the tools it needs to restart the economy and make sure that those who lost their jobs are rehired, then I think that time will tell whether creating FedNor was the right decision.
Is that the ultimate solution to all of northern Ontario's problems? I do not think so, but if it is a possible solution, then I do not see why we should not examine it.
Still, I hope that this was not just more lip service from the Liberals to try to win over people from northern Ontario, because it is going to take a long time before the budget is passed, not to mention that there is also the risk of an election.
View Marty Morantz Profile
CPC (MB)
Mr. Speaker, yesterday in her speech, the Minister of Finance basically said it would be irresponsible not to borrow hundreds of millions of dollars because interest rates were so low, completely ignoring the fact that interest rates will inevitably rise.
Does the member think the budget should have had a plan to account for future interest rate increases in its expenditures for it to be a responsible fiscal plan?
View Luc Berthold Profile
CPC (QC)
View Luc Berthold Profile
2021-04-20 12:57 [p.5850]
Mr. Speaker, of course there should have been a plan. There is no plan for economic recovery, and there is no plan to control spending. This is a budget without a plan.
Just beneath the surface though is the Liberal Party's re-election plan, and that is a shame. The Liberal Party and the government put their own interests before the interests of our generation and future generations.
Half a trillion dollars in debt is being added to Canada's total deficit, and that will take years or decades to pay back. Canadians will have to pay that back for generations.
View Sean Fraser Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Sean Fraser Profile
2021-04-20 12:58 [p.5850]
Mr. Speaker, we are at a pivotal moment in the history of our nation. How we respond as we continue to fight COVID-19, and as we plan to emerge from the crisis that it has created from both a public health and economic point of view, will dictate what Canada looks like not just next month or next year, but 10 years and 20 years from now, when my five-year-old daughter is ready to join the workforce.
As we embark upon this debate, I would impress upon my colleagues the importance of focusing on the tasks at hand, which are defeating COVID-19, creating jobs and growth opportunities as we emerge from this pandemic, and setting the stage for a recovery that is both inclusive and sustainable.
Before I go further, I would like to inform the Speaker that I intend to split my time with the hon. member for Newmarket—Aurora at the 10-minute mark.
Those three categories that I have outlined, the continued public health response, the need to create jobs and growth and the need to set the stage for a sustainable and inclusive recovery, are precisely what this budget endeavours to do. Over the course of my remarks I will spend a moment on each of those particular items.
When it comes to the public health response, though the conditions here in my home province of Nova Scotia are quite good compared with just about anywhere in the world, I recognize the same is not true for many different parts of Canada. In order to continue the public health response that we have started over the course of this pandemic, our government proposes putting forward several very serious measures backed by spending commitments. In particular, in the budget I note our commitment to invest $4 billion to strengthen public health care systems in provinces across Canada.
I have spoken to community members who have had appointments delayed and who have been dealing with certain services simply not being available as the public health care system has pivoted to deal with the influx of COVID-19 cases. In the early days of this pandemic I remember wondering whether someone in a car accident would have a place to go, if the case loads got too high in our local hospitals. This injection of billions of dollars into provincial health care systems would help alleviate those strains and let our front-line health care workers have the tools they needed to do their jobs and keep us safe.
When it comes to vaccination, Canada is currently third in the G7 in terms of the number of residents who have had access to a first dose, but we know that we need to continue to do more. Budget 2021 proposes to inject an additional billion dollars to help provincial governments administer vaccines as they arrive.
One of the national tragedies we have witnessed over the course of this pandemic is what has taken place in our long-term care facilities. Here in Nova Scotia the vast majority of deaths we have seen as a result of COVID-19 have come from a single long-term care facility: Northwood in Halifax. We need to make the kinds of investments today that will ensure this tragedy does not repeat itself and that will provide an enhanced quality of life, so that our elderly, when they move to long-term care facilities, can count on living a dignified experience. While there are good facilities all across Canada, we have seen some horror stories emerge from this pandemic. That is why this budget's investment of $3 billion to strengthen long-term care facilities across Canada and our work to establish national standards are so important.
One of the chief concerns I have heard from residents of my own community, both over the course of this pandemic and before COVID-19, is the importance of mental health. Through the pandemic we have advanced measures that would see increased investments in telehealth opportunities and would ensure folks could tune into the Wellness Together portal online. However, we know that is insufficient, particularly for people who need the support of a medical practitioner face to face.
Members will note that budget 2021 includes a commitment to work with provinces and territories to establish national standards on mental health as well. This is backed by funding that would allow the process to actually take place and achieve meaningful progress in the mental health portfolio. However, this pandemic was not just a crisis of public health: It was also an economic crisis that we continue to experience, and we have advanced record measures to support Canadian households and businesses so that families could keep food on the table and businesses could keep workers on the payroll. I am so pleased to share with businesses in my own community that we are going to be extending the emergency benefits, which they have come to rely on to get them through this very difficult time, until it is safe for their customers to return at full scale.
The Canada emergency wage subsidy has now kept more than five million Canadian workers on the payroll. The Canada emergency rent subsidy has let hundreds of thousands of businesses keep their doors open at a time when it would have been very difficult to do so otherwise. However, it is not enough to support businesses through this pandemic. We have to set the stage for jobs and growth so we can accelerate out of this pandemic and get back to where we would have been had the pandemic not shocked our economy so badly.
That is why I am thrilled to see the kinds of investments that are included in this budget, including hiring incentives for businesses and supports that will help small businesses and medium-sized enterprises in particular adopt an online strategy so they can participate in the digital economy. We see record investments in skills development, particularly for young people, new investments that will spur entrepreneurship, investments to remove internal trade barriers and investments in the kind of infrastructure that will create growth for the long term. It is that growth that will allow us to escape this pandemic and ensure that we can afford the measures we are putting in place today.
Colleagues in the House who have known me for some time will know that I have been a passionate advocate for our environment from the time I was young. In fact, the very first time I was involved in politics was when I was seven years old and signed up to be the vice-president of the environment club at my elementary school. I have literally been an advocate for a clean environment since then. Of course, I had the chance to serve as the parliamentary secretary to the minister of the environment and climate change in the previous Parliament and I am proud of many of the measures that we introduced.
When I look at the measures that are backed by serious funding commitments in this budget, I see the opportunity to take advantage of clean growth opportunities in the global economy, and to promote opportunities in my own community in the green economy. I see that we are not only going to invest over $8 billion to reduce industrial emissions, but we are also going to let homeowners take advantage of hundreds of thousands of opportunities for home energy retrofits. There are massive investments to develop clean technology and expand zero-emissions vehicle infrastructure and manufacturing opportunities right here in Canada. I see opportunities for us to make investments that will mitigate the consequences of severe weather events, whether forest fires in the west, floods throughout the country or hurricanes on the east coast. I see the single-largest investment to protect nature in the history of Canada included in this budget, and I am very proud to support it.
It is not enough that our budget is sustainable from an environmental point of view: It also needs to be inclusive to ensure that everyone is able to take part in the economic recovery. I note in particular the support for women in the economy in this budget, including the marquee policy of Canada's first early learning and national child care strategy. This is a policy that will be a legacy piece for this government, and 30 years from now I am confident that families will look back and say that this was the right thing. We know that although it may be expensive to advance this particular policy, the impact it is going to have of allowing more women to take part in the economy will more than pay for itself. It will save phenomenal amounts of money for families of young children and will allow families not only to have that extra cash on hand but, as I have mentioned, allow the secondary earner, who is more often than not a woman in the household, to take part in economic opportunities that she may not have had access to in the absence of an investment of this nature.
I see the significant investment of billions of dollars to support young people and make education more affordable. I see opportunities for job placements and hiring incentives specific to young people in this budget. I look at supports for low-income workers and precarious workers, such as the $8.9 billion investment in the Canada workers benefit. It will ensure that someone who works full-time in a minimum wage job will not live in poverty in Canada. I see new protections for workers in the gig economy and I see an expansion of the EI sickness benefit to 26 weeks, which is very important to me at home. I want to thank in particular Kathy MacNaughton, who raised this with me in 2016 and has been working alongside me to see this done. People should not be better off to get fired than to get cancer in the 21st century in Canada.
There are additional supports for Black Canadians. There are additional supports for indigenous Canadians. There are additional supports for the LGBTQ2 community. We will do whatever it takes, for as long as it takes, to see Canadians through this pandemic, but this budget also sets the course for jobs and growth that will allow us to rebound out of this recession more strongly. It will ensure that everyone, no matter their background, no matter their age and no matter their level of income, is able to have a fair shot at taking part in the economic recovery. This is the Canada that I want to build, and this budget lays the framework to achieve these outcomes.
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
CPC (SK)
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
2021-04-20 13:09 [p.5852]
Mr. Speaker, I noticed when the budget was presented that revenue was not indicated in this budget as coming from tax increases. I believe the expectation of the government is that the programs it is implementing are going to stimulate the economy, and that growth is where the funding is going to come from to pay for what it is doing. However, as the member mentioned, child care is its big budget item, with the biggest payoff, but that child care program will take years to implement and, in the meantime, interest rates can go up and all kinds of other things can happen.
I want to quote Amanda Lang, whose views on the budget I really appreciate. She said on Power Play, “I will say this, Evan, and this is kind of like one of those more boring line items, but it is important especially for resource industry companies, and that is there is a form of a corporate tax increase in this budget that the Liberals have talked about for a while. It is a reduction on dividend interest deductions allowable. It is super boring sounding, but I will tell you this: It could hurt oil and gas companies disproportionately and at a time when they can least afford it."
Our oil and gas industry is part of the future. It is part of the sector that will bring about the environmental changes that we want, yet this government continues to cause it the greatest duress. Why is that?
View Sean Fraser Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Sean Fraser Profile
2021-04-20 13:10 [p.5852]
Mr. Speaker, there is a lot to unpack in that question. First and foremost, when it comes to the cost of our measures and the risk of interest rates going up, I would point out that there is a severe cost of not taking action and making the kinds of investments that we have made. In particular I would point to a recent IMF report, which indicated that in the absence of the government's pandemic response our deficit would have been roughly the same, but the economic scarring would have been enormous, limiting our opportunity to grow out of this recession.
Regarding the energy sector, I will let the hon. member know that I spent about five years working in Calgary, Alberta, much of which was spent working in the energy sector. The reality is that we need to be implementing measures that transition to a clean economy, but we also know that we need to support workers, regardless of the industry in which they work. That is why we have extended record supports to the energy sector through things such as the Canada emergency wage subsidy and support for abandoned wells.
I would be happy to carry on this important conversation with the member at her leisure.
View Louise Chabot Profile
BQ (QC)
View Louise Chabot Profile
2021-04-20 13:11 [p.5852]
Mr. Speaker, I do want to applaud the fact that this is the first time a female minister has tabled a budget in Parliament, but I have to say that, in many ways, it is a very paternalistic budget. What I mean is that the federal government is taking a top-down approach, telling us what is good for us, and imposing national standards for long-term care homes and mental health. In addition, it plans to develop a national child care strategy. Given Quebec's experience in that area, I could go on and on.
To truly meet the provinces' needs while respecting their jurisdiction over health care, can the government distinguish between temporary allocations and what provinces really need, which is recurring funding through Canadian health transfers?
View Sean Fraser Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Sean Fraser Profile
2021-04-20 13:12 [p.5852]
Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for her question. I hope she does not mind if I reply in English.
I disagree that this budget is paternalistic toward our provincial partners. In fact, when it comes to child care, full credit goes to the Province of Quebec for leading the way on this, years prior, to show that we could make these kinds of investments that would pay for themselves.
On the establishment of national standards, the reality is that I am not okay with the quality of life that seniors who live in these facilities enjoy. With all of the investments that we are putting forward that impact areas of provincial jurisdiction, we are saying we will work with the provinces and territories to establish these standards. I am not okay with simply transferring money with absolutely no oversight of the outcome of how that money is spent.
I am looking forward to continuing the conversations with our provincial counterparts so we can work on shared objectives and enhance the quality of life for our constituents.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Mr. Speaker, I work with my colleague on the finance committee.
In my riding, people are very concerned about the absence of universal pharmacare. I am thinking of Cole and his family. They pay $1,000 a month for heart medication and they struggle, like 10 million other Canadians, because they have no coverage for pharmacare.
As we know, in 2019, the Liberals promised to bring in public, universal pharmacare, yet the budget has abandoned that promise. It is quite simple. I know the member's constituents are in the same situation as mine. Why did the government abandon its commitments around public, universal pharmacare in budget 2021?
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