Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Motion No. 230. I would like to thank my colleague, the member for Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, for the motion. I know my colleague is a very committed to his constituents. On this side of the House, he is famous for his annual tour throughout his riding, when he puts tens of thousands of kilometres on his van, his bike and even his canoe, getting out to know his constituents. I am very happy that he has brought this motion forward, representing the desires of his constituents to live more affordable lives and save money on essentials.
I would also like to recognize that this motion was also put forward in a private member's bill by the hon. member for Regina—Qu'Appelle a short while ago. Again, the intent was to provide more affordable lives and lifestyles for Canadians. Roy Rogers is famous for saying he never met a man he did not like. The current government is the same, in that it never met a tax it did not like, and its desire to keep taxing home energy seems to be part of that.
Home heating is a necessity; it is not a luxury. I have had the pleasure of living across the country, from Victoria to St. John's and a lot of places in between. Even in Victoria, where I have lived three separate times, I have seen severe winters. In the winter of 1996, I was living in Newfoundland, where winter is year round. In 2001, the year of the big snow, there was 22 feet of snow in Newfoundland. I remember shovelling my driveway after a snowstorm in June, but never in my life had I seen as much snow overnight as I did in Victoria in 1996. We got about three feet of snow overnight. A lot of houses in Victoria are not set up like houses in the rest of the country to deal with cold, so the heating is on non-stop when it turns cold, which, in Victoria, is usually at about 15°C.
The fact is that Canada is a winter country. I have lived in Fort McMurray, in Edmonton three times, in Toronto a couple of times, as well as Ottawa and St. John's.
An hon. member: Winnipeg.
Mr. Kelly McCauley: I have not lived in Winnipeg, though my family is from Winnipeg. I have lived in Huntsville, Scarborough and Lake Louise and I have seen the effects of winter. As I said, heating our homes is a necessity and not a luxury.
I will note that in Edmonton, not this winter but the winter before, there was a record 176 consecutive days when the temperature dropped below 0°C and we had to heat our homes. Putting GST on top of home heating punishes Canadians. I would also note that on the last day of those 176 days, even as the temperature dropped below zero, I opened my front door and there was a spider hanging there, so my nightmares continue even in the winter.
Essentials are not taxed in this country. Groceries are not taxed, medical supplies are not taxed, sanitary products are not taxed, so home energy should be no exception. We asked the people of Ontario after years of provincial Liberal governments what it is like paying the GST on catastrophically high energy bills. People are getting punished.
Alberta has a carbon tax, which thankfully was just repealed by new premier Jason Kenney. Albertans were paying more in carbon tax than for energy, and then they were paying GST on the energy, as well as on the carbon tax. It puts a lie to the Liberal line that the carbon tax would be revenue neutral. In B.C. and Alberta alone, there was over a quarter of a billion dollars collected in GST alone. The PBO report, which Liberals like to reference so much, neglects to mention that there is GST on their imposed carbon tax, which goes straight into the coffers of the government.
I want to applaud my colleague from Langley—Aldergrove, who is fighting cancer right now. I want to let him know that we are thinking of him and that he is my prayers every night. He put through a private member's bill to remove the GST on the carbon tax, not to allow a tax on a tax.
What happened? Well, people on this side voted to eliminate the GST to help everyday Canadians, but of course, our Liberal colleagues voted against it, because again, there is never a tax they do not like.
Every dollar saved under this motion would be a dollar in the pockets of Canadians. I want to go over how much people would save on this. By 2022, people living in Newfoundland would be saving $151 a year; in P.E.I., $155; in Nova Scotia, $135; in New Brunswick, $142; in Quebec, $93; in Ontario, $116; in Manitoba, $95; in Saskatoon, $127; in Alberta, $121; and in British Columbia, $92. Therefore, the average Canadian would save over $100.
Why is this important? We heard recently in a report that 50% of Canadians are only $200 a month away from insolvency. They are just $200 away from not being able to pay their bills for food or whatever. That $200 is not very much, and so every little bit, every extra dollar in Canadians' pockets, is going to help them.
What would be covered under this rebate? All home energy, including electricity, natural gas, heating oil, propane, wood pellets, other heating sources for primary residences, would be exempt from the GST, and the CRA would get the utilities to rebate directly.
Earlier in my speech, I spoke about putting an Order Paper question to the government asking how much taxpayers' money it actually wasted sending out postcards. The Liberals submitted that it was $1 million. However, we just found out today that the total was actually $3.5 million the government wasted on postcards to send out to Canadians to let them know that they were going to get a GST rebate.
We heard a Liberal member earlier stand up and say that he is against the motion, that it is not good for the economy and that we need every penny we can get. Under this member's plan, we could have helped 31,000 families, or we could send out a postcard and waste $3.5 million, and that is a priority for the government. It had a chance to help 31,000 families or send a partisan, politically driven post card. What did they choose? They chose the partisan, politically driven postcard instead of helping 31,000 families. Every action the Liberals take has an effect on Canadians. They could have helped 31,000 Canadian families and chose not to.
I will go back to some of the comments from my constituents who are having difficult times right now in Edmonton and why it is important that we push this through to save them the GST on their home heating.
I got a note from Karen, who said, “l'm a senior with a fixed income and everything going up, it gets tighter every year.” Do members not think she would like to have the GST off her home heating? Maybe she could be one of those 31,000 families we could have helped instead of sending a postcard in the mail.
Bruce writes, “A lot worse off! I am 62 years old. I was forced into early retirement.... I take money out of my RRSP and Canada Revenue hammers me with taxes”. At 62, it is difficult to get back into the workforce, especially in Alberta after the government punished it with a tax on its energy industry. Do members not think we could help that person by rebating his GST on his home heating in Edmonton, when we have winter, God bless us, six or seven months a year?
Another said that he is worse off with higher taxes, including the carbon tax, and that there are fewer opportunities at work. Do members not think that we could help him with this instead of standing here and virtue signalling on a carbon tax? Of course not.
We have Sam, who says that he is worse off as prices are going up and up, and he is on a fixed income.
I would like to help seniors in our riding. We put through a motion on helping to protect them from fraud. They are on fixed incomes. Again, these are people we could help every single day across the entire country by taking the GST off home heating.
Conservatives support it. Canadians support it. I hope the government will get in line and support it as well.