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View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
It is my duty to lay upon the table, pursuant to subsection 23(5) of the Auditor General Act, the spring 2021 reports of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development to the House of Commons.
Pursuant to Standing Order 32(5), these reports are deemed permanently referred to the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development.
View Marie-France Lalonde Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Marie-France Lalonde Profile
2021-04-22 10:04 [p.5997]
Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8)(a), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to 11 petitions. These responses will be tabled in an electronic format.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Mr. Speaker, I am rising on a point of order at the earliest opportunity I have to raise a concern I have about the “response” tabled to Question No. 461 from my colleague from Peace River—Westlock.
In brief, the question is with respect to a motion adopted by the House on June 19, 2019. It calls on the UN to establish an international independent investigation into the allegation of genocide against Tamils committed in Sri Lanka. The question asks about the government's position on it, diplomatic representations it has made with respect to that issue, as well as the government's intention with respect to raising the genocide investigation specifically.
The response that was tabled to that question makes no mention of any genocide investigation. In fact, it does not address the question at all. It refers broadly to Sri Lanka, but it makes no mention of the substance of the question.
I know that it is practice for the Speaker not to be asked to evaluate the particulars of the quality of the response. However, in this case, given that the alleged response does not in any way acknowledge or respond to the question, I would submit that this makes a total mockery of the expectation in the Standing Orders for the government to table a response.
There have to be some constraints on the response the government presents. After all, if the government were to present a response on an unrelated topic, I would submit that the Speaker would have to note that a violation of the Standing Orders had occurred. I would ask you to examine the response to this question and advise the House on whether the government's words actually constitute a response for the purpose of the Standing Order.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
From what I have heard, the hon. member has answered his own question. It is not the responsibility of the Speaker to rule on the answers that are given. I will take it under advisement and, if needed, I will return to the House.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Mr. Speaker, I am presenting three petitions this morning.
The first petition is calling on the government to recognize that Uighurs and other Turkic Muslims have been subjected and are being subject to genocide at the hands of the Chinese Communist Party. I note that as we speak, the British Parliament is debating a genocide recognition resolution and I commend all the members of the British Parliament involved in that important discussion.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Mr. Speaker, the second petition is highlighting the situation in the Tigray region of Ethiopia and calling on the Government of Canada to engage to a greater extent with and respond to the humanitarian, as well as the human rights, issues raised by that situation.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Mr. Speaker, the third and final petition is in support of Bill S-204, a bill on forced organ harvesting and trafficking that has just passed the Senate committee on justice and human rights and is now headed to the third reading in the Senate before hopefully coming to this place very soon. Petitioners are in support of Bill S-204 and hope that this Parliament is the one that gets it done.
View Gord Johns Profile
NDP (BC)
View Gord Johns Profile
2021-04-22 10:09 [p.5998]
Mr. Speaker, it is a huge privilege and honour today to table a petition on behalf of constituents of Parksville who are calling on the government to increase the tax exemption from $3,000 to $10,000 to help essential volunteer firefighters and search and rescue workers across the country.
The petitioners cite that volunteer firefighters account for 83% of Canada's total firefighting essential first responders. In addition, approximately 8,000 essential search and rescue volunteers respond to thousands of incidents every year. They cite that not only do these volunteers help save lives, but their efforts help cities and municipalities to keep property taxes lower because, if paid services were required, they would certainly cost more to these municipalities.
We need to help these volunteers. They have been there throughout COVID and beyond. This is an important opportunity to help them get the exemption they deserve to support them if they have been volunteering over 200 hours in a calendar year.
View Paul Manly Profile
GP (BC)
View Paul Manly Profile
2021-04-22 10:10 [p.5998]
Mr. Speaker, happy Earth Day. It is a privilege to table e-petition 3184, which was initiated by constituents in Nanaimo—Ladysmith. The petitioners call upon the government to take urgent action, based on science and independent expertise, to make Bill C-12 a world-class climate law by adopting the following three amendments to the bill before it passes.
The first amendment is to set the first emission target for 2025, strengthen the roles of the advisory body and the environmental commissioner, and ban fossil fuel executives from the advisory panel.
The second amendment is that Bill C-12 should be aligned with Canada's commitment to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, putting workers and communities first with no exceptions. It should set targets for sustainable job creation to ensure a just transition for all workers.
The third amendment is to create true legal accountability for the government by setting clear, unconditional obligations for the Minister of Environment to meet, not just plan to meet, actual targets.
View Marie-France Lalonde Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Marie-France Lalonde Profile
2021-04-22 10:11 [p.5998]
Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Is it agreed?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
View Mark Gerretsen Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise today to speak to the budget bill that has been presented to the House. Indeed, I want to add to the chorus of people and members who have come before the House to congratulate the first female finance minister on presenting a budget to the House of Commons. It is quite an important budget.
This budget is one that is very direct in its approach to get us through the rest of this pandemic, but in a way that brings Canada back to the resiliency that its economy had before. We need to get back to having the lowest unemployment rates that this country has seen in decades. We need to get our economy back to where it was.
I strongly believe that what has been proposed in this budget is the right step moving forward in that direction. I do want to take some time today to talk about what I see as being the signature piece in this budget, and that is the child care provisions. They are not only going to change the lives of Canadian parents but, indeed, are going to help our economy tremendously.
Before I get to that, I just want to talk briefly about the measures that are in this budget that relate to the pandemic, and coming through this pandemic in the way that we need to.
I have just been reminded by my colleague that I will be sharing my time with the member for Mississauga—Erin Mills.
Let us talk about the measures that have been put in here to support small business, to support Canadians and to make sure that they have the tools to get through this. We were faced with a stark choice a year ago, the same choice that is being presented to us right now with this budget. That is a choice between whether we want to allow Canadians to fend for themselves to get through this very difficult time or whether we want to come together collectively as a society to bear the burden of this enormous toll on our economy and, indeed, our society during the last year.
The Liberal government made a very clear choice. It said that we are going to take on that responsibility collectively. The federal government is going to step in on behalf of the people, the taxpayers of Canada and support, in particular, those who are being significantly affected by this pandemic, those who have small businesses that rely on people coming in and out of their stores on a daily basis, those who have restaurants, and those in the entertainment industry.
I think of a good friend of mine who literally has not worked in his profession throughout the last year, and for the foreseeable future will not. He is an audio engineer. He works at live events. At a lot of the conferences that we go to, he could very well be one of the people in the back running those. Those conferences depend on thousands of people being there, as do festivals and events that are held throughout Canada. He travels throughout the country, going and setting up from an audio engineer perspective, making sure that the quality of the sound in the room is right. Literally, that industry came to a standstill.
I will never forget the conversation we had last spring where he said that in a matter of 48 hours, he went from having the entire next six months planned to having absolutely nothing. He lived in downtown Toronto. He lived there for a number of years, probably the last decade, although he was born and raised in the Kingston area, like I was. He has since moved back to the Kingston area, Sydenham actually. He knows the industry is not coming back for a while. He has been trained and has a degree. He is a professional audio engineer. He does not have any kind of work whatsoever because of the nature of his industry.
The government made it very clear to people like my friend and other people throughout the country that we were going to take on this burden together. The government was going to be there to support Canadians to get through this. I am extremely proud to be part of a government that did that over the last year, but more importantly that is going to continue to do that to get us through to the other side of this.
That is what this budget is doing. In the beginning, when this budget comes into effect, the first measures will be to support Canadians through to the other end of this pandemic. We can see the light at the end of the tunnel. We cannot turn our backs on Canadians now. We need to finish what we started, and I am very happy to see the measures as they relate to small businesses, as they relate to continuing to support Canadians in this budget.
The other thing I wanted to talk about was child care and what this budget has specifically for early learning and child care for parents. Everybody who has put a child through child care is fully aware of the costs associated with it. People living anywhere outside of Quebec are likely paying a lot of money for child care. It quite literally puts parents in the position of asking whether one of them should stay home and take care of the children, because after they consider everything, they are really not going to be any further ahead. In some cases they will be further behind, so people make that choice.
The unfortunate reality is that more often than not, the majority of the time, it is the woman in the relationship who is making that decision to stay home. It is hindering female participation in our labour force. Nothing has impacted that more in the last short term than this pandemic. It has made that participation in the labour force for women extremely difficult. It has taken us back several years in terms of the progress that we made toward getting equal participation in our labour force from women.
Given that so much of it has to do with child care, if we can develop a child care system that will allow us to make it affordable, as Quebec has done, and it has done it extremely well, if we can develop a similar child care system for the rest of Canada, we will significantly impact not just the lives of those parents who have to pay for child care, but indeed the economic and social impacts that come with it.
Think of the potential if we can unleash so many single parents into the marketplace: entrepreneurs, people who want to be entrepreneurs but cannot because of limitations around child care. Women unfortunately are impacted more than men in that regard. The opportunities here are really not just about making child care affordable but, more importantly, about increasing women's participation in the labour force, and in particular, as I see it, as it relates to women entrepreneurs.
That is what this budget provides. It makes the transformative investment toward child care and early learning that this country has been asking for and looking for, for so long, by putting in the necessary funds. I believe it is about $30 billion in investment initially, over the next five years, getting us to a place by 2026 where the average cost of child care is $10 per day. That truly is transformative if we can get there.
We are in a minority government. I really hope that my colleagues across the way, maybe not the Conservatives, maybe not the Bloc members because they have this child care in Quebec already, but the NDP in particular, will see the value in this and support this budget. I certainly do not want to be in the same situation that the Liberal Party was in with Paul Martin when he introduced a budget to transform child care and the government collapsed and Stephen Harper did not have an interest in that, and here we are 15 years later.
There is a great opportunity here if we can come together and the NDP members can see the value in what we have here. I know that if they support this and we can get through this, we can start making a meaningful impact for child care throughout Canada.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Madam Speaker, on the issue of child care, I would submit that the government's policy really ignores the ways in which technology and work are changing. There is so much more telecommuting, more shift work, more flexible hours and precarious or gig-related work. Some of this is forced on parents, but some of it is something parents are seeking, that choice of being able to work from home, be present with their children to some extent or have flexible child care arrangements. As work is changing, the demands for different kinds of child care are changing, and that is particularly why today a one-size-fits-all approach to day care does not work.
I ask the member to think about that single mom who is working an overnight shift, who is not expecting that government-run child care is going to mean somebody coming to her house to be present with her kids while they are sleeping. People need flexibility. They need choice. They need community-based and workplace-based co-ops that respond to these new realities.
Why does the member double down on this one-size-fits-all government-run approach to child care?
View Mark Gerretsen Profile
Lib. (ON)
Madam Speaker, I do not know where the member is getting that information from. Where have I said that it is a one-size-fits-all approach? It is quite the contrary. What has been highlighted here is the fact that we want to bring in child care and early learning opportunities to support Canadian parents. There certainly will be, in my opinion, the opportunity for flexibility in this, and it is something that we need to make sure happens as the programs and plans are developed.
I appreciate the member's passion, and I am sure he will voice that passion when the time comes to develop the exact programs.
View Christine Normandin Profile
BQ (QC)
View Christine Normandin Profile
2021-04-22 10:24 [p.6000]
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech on the matter of agreements between the federal government and Quebec.
It took years for an agreement to be reached on tax harmonization, for example. If the federal government wants to impose conditions on the transfer of Quebec's share of the funding, then I expect it will take many more years of negotiation.
In order to avoid these additional negotiations, is the member opposite prepared to assure us that there will not be any conditions imposed on the transfer of funding to Quebec?
View Mark Gerretsen Profile
Lib. (ON)
Madam Speaker, I think the member knows that I am not in a position to be able to give her that assurance, but I would certainly say that there is always an interest in the Government of Canada in working with its partners. This government looks at provincial and territorial bodies as partners and will look for opportunities to work with them. We certainly will see what the situation might be as it unfolds, but I know that Quebec in particular, which this member is asking about, will have input into how money is distributed and what it will be specifically intended for.
View Heather McPherson Profile
NDP (AB)
View Heather McPherson Profile
2021-04-22 10:25 [p.6000]
Madam Speaker, my colleague spoke about event planners, and it tweaked my interest, because I actually met with the Canadian Association of Exposition Management just yesterday. They are a sector that has been deeply impacted by the pandemic. There are many people within the sector who will not be able to even start back to work until the fall, and we know that because of the cyclical nature of it, and because some of their events will not happen for up to a year, they are very concerned about the impacts on their sector and that we have started this race but we are not going to get to the finish line with what is being proposed by the Liberal government.
Would the member be willing to look at some of these supports for businesses and individuals, and look at them as the individual needs for certain sectors, knowing that some sectors are going to take longer and that peeling back the CRB and business supports by September is not going to be appropriate for all sectors?
View Mark Gerretsen Profile
Lib. (ON)
Madam Speaker, I agree with the member that this particular sector was the first hit and will be the last to recover. Not only do events take months to plan, but also we are going to need to get the degree of confidence in people's willingness to go into a room with 10,000 people. I cannot imagine how comfortable people will be with that initially, so there will be some time. Specifically to her question, I am certainly personally always interested to hear about that, and I look forward to that discussion at committee.
View Iqra Khalid Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Iqra Khalid Profile
2021-04-22 10:27 [p.6000]
Madam Speaker, I will start by sharing the story of Sandy, a constituent of mine. She has a really good education, but her struggles are those of many Canadians around the world. She gave up her career to start a family, and she continued to stay away from her career because child care in Ontario was too expensive and the waiting list was too long. Now, as her children are age five and seven, she finds herself living in a shelter, because she does not have housing as she tries to flee from an abusive marriage. She is now working part time while staying at this transitional house for women just like her. She is looking for housing and a stable job, but because of COVID, the situation of schools, and everything becoming so precarious, it is so hard for her to get into that workforce. The jobs that she does find are precarious, part-time and minimum-wage.
Women, in particular low-income women, have been hit the hardest by the COVID-19 crisis. They have faced steep job losses and shouldered the burden of unpaid care work at home. All the while, many have bravely served on the front lines of this crisis in our communities. There is no doubt that we remain firmly in a “she-cession” as lockdowns continue to impact our communities and many Canadians stay at home to stem the spread of an even more aggressive third wave.
I have heard from businesses in my riding about what would ensure the health of the economy of a city like Mississauga, a province like Ontario and, indeed, a country like Canada. For example, the Mississauga Board of Trade in my city has been quite clear: We need to have increased labour force participation. We need to have an empowered labour force of people who are willing, able and eager to contribute to our economy, to empower themselves and those around them, and to bring financial stability and economic prosperity, not just for themselves and their families but for all Canadians. Based on that feedback, our government has a plan through budget 2021 to emerge from the pandemic with a stronger and more inclusive society. Increasing opportunities for women's participation in our economy is at the forefront of our growth and recovery plan.
As I mentioned, the closure of schools and child care centres due to COVID-19 has really exacerbated work-life balance challenges for parents, and especially for women. It has made it more difficult for some women to work full time or, in some cases, such as Sandy, at all. More than 16,000 women have dropped out of the labour force completely, while the male labour force has grown by about 91,000. Child care is an essential social infrastructure and without it, parents, particularly women, cannot fully participate in our economy. Parents have told me this. Businesses have told me this. Single mothers have told me this.
This is an economic issue as much as it is a social issue. TD Economics has pointed to a range of studies that have shown that for every dollar spent on early childhood education, the broader economy receives between $1.50 and $2.80 in return. It is a sound investment. We can simply look at the impact of Quebec's early learning and child care system, where women in the province with children under the age of three have some of the highest employment rates in the world. Further, a study shows that child care alone has raised Quebec's GDP by 1.7%.
It is clear: Now is the time for the rest of Canada to learn from Quebec's example, and this is exactly what our government is proposing to do through budget 2021. We are making generational investments of up to $30 billion over five years to work with provincial, territorial and indigenous partners to build a Canada-wide, community-based system of quality child care, bringing the federal government to a fifty-fifty share of child care costs with provincial and territorial governments and meeting the needs of indigenous families.
Our government's plan includes a strategy for unprecedented expansion in child care across the country. This proposed investment would also be a critical part of reconciliation.
Early learning and child care programs designed by and with indigenous families and communities give indigenous children the best start in life. That is why this generational investment includes $2.5 billion over five years toward an early learning and child care system that meets the needs of indigenous families.
By 2025-26, new investments in child care will reach a minimum of $8.3 billion per year ongoing, including indigenous early learning and child care.
Our vision is to bring fees down to $10 per day on average by 2025-26 everywhere in Canada outside of Quebec. This would start with a 50% reduction in average fees for preschool care by 2022. Simply put, this investment will drive jobs and growth. It is a smart economic policy and it is the right policy for Canadians at this juncture.
However, it is not the only way that we are supporting women through budget 2021.
Budget 2021 also lays out an expansive jobs and growth plan that is very much a feminist plan. It seeks to build a recovery that gives all women in Canada the ability to fully participate in our economy.
For example, Canadian women entrepreneurs still face unique and systemic barriers to starting and growing a business. In light of this pandemic, that has become even more challenging.
To address these challenges, budget 2021 proposes to provide up to $146.9 million to strengthen the women entrepreneurship strategy, which will help provide greater access to financing, and support mentorship and training activities. Ensuring women have opportunities to work and grow in their businesses is absolutely crucial, but, of course, protecting the health and safety of women is also a priority.
Our government is also moving forward on developing a national action plan to end gender-based violence through new proposed investments of over $600 million, which will provide support for action against gender-based violence, for indigenous women and for 2SLGBTQQIA+ organizations, for the design and delivery of interventions that promote healthy relations and prevent violence and for increased access to information and support. This is in addition to reallocating $250 million in existing funding to support housing and shelter spaces for women and children fleeing violence.
We are accelerating work on a national action plan in response to the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls’ calls for justice and the implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action. To support this work, budget 2021 proposes to invest an additional $2.2 billion over five years, and $160.9 million ongoing, to help build a safer, stronger and more inclusive society.
Finally, budget 2021 proposes to invest $236.2 million over five years, starting in 2021-22, and $33.5 million per year ongoing to expand work to eliminate sexual misconduct and gender-based violence in the military and support survivors. This investment will reinforce the systemic efforts to change the culture and working conditions in the Canadian Armed Forces. Ultimately, these measures support the objective of increasing representation of women in the Canadian Armed Forces from 15% to 25% by 2026, which, if achieved, will further positively reinforce culture change.
It is absolutely absurd to think that, in 2021, we are talking about the need for some of these measures instead of simply living in a society where women and men are on equal footing, with the same opportunities to succeed in a truly inclusive society.
Our government will continue to build a feminist intersectional action plan for women in the economy that will work to push past systemic barriers and inequalities for good. The—
View Carol Hughes Profile
NDP (ON)
The hon. member's time for debate has expired, but she will be able to continue during questions and comments.
The hon. member for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke.
View Cheryl Gallant Profile
CPC (ON)
Madam Speaker, quite apart from intruding upon provincial jurisdiction, there is one aspect of child care that is under federal jurisdiction, and that is for the Canadian Armed Forces. For them it is not only a matter of having spaces available close to base, but women can be called into work at any time of the day or night.
What provisions are being made to create more positions to assist our forces in the military and is the government is going to do something for the provinces? Why does it not provide money for infrastructure so there will be spaces instead of just buying off people for the next election?
View Iqra Khalid Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Iqra Khalid Profile
2021-04-22 10:38 [p.6002]
Madam Speaker, when we talk about creating child care spaces and a national child care plan, it is not just about having adequate spaces. It is also about affordability and ensuring there are enough quality, educated workers to run these spaces. It is about providing and facilitating access to the economy and safe early learning for children and families as we grow and rebuild past COVID-19.
To be honest, it has been about 50 years that we have been thinking about how we can continue to get more women into the workforce. Child care is something for which many organizations and not-for-profits have been advocating, Now, through the pandemic, businesses and employers are advocating for it more and more because they want to increase the labour force participation—
View Carol Hughes Profile
NDP (ON)
I have to allow for other questions.
The hon. member for Lac-Saint-Jean.
Since the member seems to be having technical difficulties, we will come back to him later.
Questions and comments, the hon. member for Churchill—Keewatinook Aski.
View Niki Ashton Profile
NDP (MB)
Madam Speaker, we know that during this pandemic, the rich have become richer and more and more Canadians are struggling. Despite the Liberals' long-time commitment to fight for the middle class and lift Canadians up, the budget does not include a wealth tax, which would be critical in ensuring that the rich pay their fair share of taxes and that everybody can be lifted up.
What do the Liberals have against the rich paying their fair share of taxes?
View Iqra Khalid Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Iqra Khalid Profile
2021-04-22 10:41 [p.6002]
Madam Speaker, as I go through the budget, I see it as definitely an equity-seeking one, whether it is through the luxury tax on vehicles or a more robust system for ensuring we catch tax evaders. The difference between the Canadian economy and other economies around the world is that we are not a quid pro quo system where Canadians put in money to get something back for an individual service. The Canadian system and Canadian society are really about all pitching in to ensure that our neighbours are well taken care of and that on a rainy day we are taken care of.
When I look at budget 2021, again, it is one of the most equity-seeking, most equitable budgets that I have seen in a very long time and—
View Carol Hughes Profile
NDP (ON)
Because there was a technical issue, I want to give the hon. member for Lac-Saint-Jean an opportunity to ask his question.
The hon. member for Lac-Saint-Jean.
View Alexis Brunelle-Duceppe Profile
BQ (QC)
Madam Speaker, I apologize for the technical difficulty.
I thank my colleague for her speech. She really focused on this budget's feminist approach.
Of course, one sector in which the majority of the workers are female is health care, so I would like to know why the Liberals rejected the amendment to the amendment, which would have increased health transfers.
Why did the Liberals turn this into a confidence vote even though nobody wants an election?
Is this a way for the Liberals to shut down opposition party amendments?
View Iqra Khalid Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Iqra Khalid Profile
2021-04-22 10:42 [p.6002]
Madam Speaker, over this past year, we have seen that Canadians expect a team Canada approach. They do not want to see these partisan politics. They do not want to see this pushing, pulling and tugging among parties, saying someone did this or someone did not do that. Ultimately, Canadians want all of us, all parties, each and every one of us as individual members to be there and have their backs. That is really what this budget is about, and that is what we will keep on doing as a government.
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
CPC (AB)
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
2021-04-22 10:43 [p.6002]
Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the MP for West Nova.
It is almost incomprehensible that it has been more than two years since the last budget and that the Liberals have only seen fit to give Canadians two brief fiscal snapshots during a time of historic economic challenges and unprecedented government spending.
The Prime Minister has added more debt in just seven years than the combined debt of all Canadian prime ministers since 1867. He spent more money per person than any other prime minister in Canadian history. Canadians have a right to ask what all of it has actually achieved and to be worried about the astounding moral failing of passing this burden on to future generations.
In 2019, the projected deficit of $20 billion was already mind-boggling. The Conservatives urged the Liberals to set out a plan to balance the budget, implement fiscal anchors and save money for the future, like Canadians struggle to do every day in their households and businesses. The Liberals' spending was already extraordinary. No government outside of wartimes or major global recessions had ever spent so much but achieved so little.
Now Canadians see the consequences: over $354 billion in deficit, over $154 billion projected for 2021-22 alone in deficits, debt interest payments that will cost Canadians $39 billion through 2026. Every man, woman and child in Canada now owes $33,000 in federal debt.
The numbers show the reality of Liberal mismanagement. The Prime Minister once said, “Canada is back”, but the truth is his plan is making Canada fall back. Now Canada is an outlier globally in all the worst ways.
Global unemployment in 2020 rose to 6.5%; Canada's to 9.5%. Global GDP declined by 4.4%; Canada's by 5.4%. In 2019, the time of the last federal budget, 46% of Canadians were $200 or less away from being unable to pay their bills. Now 53%, more than half, live that unsettling and precarious experience every single day.
The Liberals love rhetoric over substance, announcements over delivery, promises over outcomes, and they seem to make a dozen new ones every day. There is one in a section in the budget that suggests unlocking Canadians' savings is a key to boosting the country's economic recovery. It states, “Over the last year, Canadian households, in particular, have built up significant savings. When the pandemic recedes, the release of pent-up demand could translate into a tangible if temporary boost to economic activity.”
The reality is that rising costs of food, gas, lumber and essentials, to eat, get around and put a roof over one's head and declining productivity, with fewer, good-paying full-time jobs in exchange for precarious lower paying part-time work while unprecedented investment has left Canada, means that for most Canadians their savings are stretched thin and their futures are uncertain, except, of course, for the ultra-rich.
Inflation rose 2.2% in March. Eggs cost Canadians 11.4% more, gasoline prices have jumped 35.3% and natural gas costs have risen 14.1% when compared to March 2020. There is no spending limit, no fiscal anchor, and to top it all off, Canada is now entering the uncertain world of quantitative easing, literally printing money to pay our debts.
I guess at least the finance minister seems to have given everyone a heads-up. She already wanted to dip into the private savings of Canadians months ago, saying, “If people have ideas on how the government can act to help unlock that 'pre-loaded stimulus', I'm very interested.” It is the spending of the government that knows no bounds, not the savings of everyday Canadians.
In this budget, Canadians needed a plan for reopening, a plan to secure the future, assurances for their small businesses. Over 200,000 are at risk of closing forever. That is one in six small businesses, potentially affecting 2.4 million Canadian jobs. This budget needed to include a concrete plan for the private sector and for entrepreneurs to take risks and create new jobs by reducing government-imposed barriers and layers of red tape and costs that stifle innovation and new economic opportunities.
Instead, Canadians received the rude wake-up call that the government would be saddling their grandchildren with more deficits and more debt. Meanwhile, in the most elite and privileged positions, the Prime Minister and finance minister call COVID a so-called opportunity to pursue an ideological great reset of the economy and busy themselves with reimagining, all a bunch of new ways of how to spend Canadians' money.
Speaking of imaginary money, and as the shadow minister for public safety, I did not see any mention of the estimated $3 billion to $5 billion for the Liberal, wrong-headed confiscation program. It is an ever-expanding list of firearms that they will ultimately take or prohibit the use of by millions of law-abiding Canadian sport shooters, hunters, collectors and firearms owners. At least this budget does increase funding for the Canadian Border Services Agency, $312 million over five years, to fight gun smuggling and trafficking, as Conservatives have urged consistently for years.
The Liberals failed again to address a significant issue in the RCMP, which is increasing funding for training new RCMP recruits and replacing its unsafe 25-year-old service pistols. The past year created a backlog in training new recruits. According to the National Police Federation, this “will impact recruiting and training for years to come, jeopardizing public and Member safety.”
With Liberal bills currently being debated that would reduce penalties for serious violent crimes such as gun trafficking, sexual assault and assault with a weapon, while allowing for community service for sexual assault, kidnapping, arson and human trafficking, RCMP recruits will be sorely needed in the coming years.
This budget also relies on a magical boost from American investment, but the Liberals are actively destroying Canada's trading relationship. They are driving jobs, contracts and businesses south of the border with the ongoing mess the public safety minister has either actively created or passively perpetuated. It has gotten so bad that the U.S. just advised not to travel to Canada. Workers who travel to the U.S. for essential work, but do not travel daily or weekly, are constantly subject to inconsistencies and contradictions.
The Liberals should mitigate this major problem by adjusting the order in council's wording to allow essential workers to travel to fulfill contract and business obligations not based on calendar days. I personally believe that all workers and all businesses, every single one, are essential to the Canadian economy, but the least the Liberals can do is fix their own policy so those they have declared to be essential could actually do their jobs.
Another announcement that is far behind is rural broadband. After first announcing it in their 2015 election platform, the Liberals then committed to 100% of houses being connected to broadband by 2030, in both 2019 and 2020. In the government's own strategy in 2017, it said 37% of rural households had access to 50 megabytes per second download speed.
Now, four years later, CRTC's 2020 communications monitoring report shows it has only grown to 45.6%. At that rate, 75% of rural homes will not have access to broadband for another decade. The Liberals have already spent $6.2 billion since 2015, but many rural people in Lakeland and Canadians in rural and remote communities all over the country are still wondering when it will make a difference for them.
Of course, Albertans are very familiar with the Liberals roller coaster of benign neglect and outright hostility. While there is a tax measure for carbon capture and storage, there is still no hint the Liberals will reverse their anti-energy, anti-resource, anti-business policies after failing to deliver timely and accessible sector-specific support, which they promised to Canada's energy industry as it reeled from a confluence of domestic government-inflicted, and external, challenges. I have to confess a sense of bitter irony that their main energy-related budget measure deals with keeping something in the ground, despite my support of the policy and the objective.
Naturally, true to form, this budget plays provincial favourites. Alberta's finance minister sums up Alberta's frustrations that the budget “is light on increasing investment and productivity, increasing market access opportunities...and growing the economy.”
He also said, “We are gravely disappointed that the federal government once again missed an opportunity to fix the fiscal unfairness of the federation by acting on the unanimous request of provinces to retroactively lift the cap on the fiscal stabilization program.”
This means that Albertans, who have paid way more than their fair share, $600 billion more than they have received in return, continue to be penalized during economic crisis and the global pandemic.
Alberta has been a leader in job creation, clean tech, responsible resource development and fiscal contributions to Canada for decades. The province's regulatory expertise and technological achievements is world renowned, but the Liberals cannot get past their ideological objections and partisan calculations to recognize that reality.
This budget does not help the constituents I represent in Lakeland. It inevitably means higher taxes, higher costs, fewer jobs and future generations left to pay the bills.
My constituents understand the concepts of setting a budget, putting needs before wants, not throwing good money after bad and spending within one's means. People there just want to know that if they work hard they can do better, and for government to remember that it does not have its own money. It all comes out of Canadians' pockets.
View Mark Gerretsen Profile
Lib. (ON)
Madam Speaker, I have heard the Conservatives directly misquote what the finance minister said. This member did it as well, and the Leader of the Opposition has done it repeatedly through tweets and various forums, where they imply that he said, “I really believe COVID-19 has created a window of political opportunity.” That is where they stop.
Of course, they will never give the rest of the quote. However, let me read the entire quote. It says, “I really believe that COVID-19 has created a window of political opportunity...on the importance of early learning and child care.”
Does the member not feel a bit embarrassed to completely misquote somebody in that manner?
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
CPC (AB)
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
2021-04-22 10:54 [p.6004]
Madam Speaker, I am not really sure what the member is talking about, because I did talk about the finance minister saying that COVID-19 is a political opportunity.
If the member does not like what the finance minister had to say, then I am sure he would acknowledge what the Prime Minister said, which is that he believes the global pandemic is an opportunity to reimagine the economy and to participate in what he called a great reset.
Make no mistake, this budget is absolutely a targeted, pre-election budget that is actually full of the Liberal left ideological agenda to increase the ever-expanding scope of government. It is just mind-boggling that the Liberals are willing to preside over such irresponsible and reckless decision-making, which will burden future generations of Canadians.
View Simon-Pierre Savard-Tremblay Profile
BQ (QC)
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for her presentation.
She believes that we are not doing enough to exploit our energy resources, but this budget maintains direct and indirect financing for fossil fuels.
In her opinion, how is it possible to square money for fossil fuels with the government's supposed environmental goals?
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
CPC (AB)
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
2021-04-22 10:56 [p.6005]
Madam Speaker, as a Conservative and as an advocate for an oil and gas riding in northeast rural Alberta, I am extremely proud to represent communities and people who have made outsized contributions to the finances of the province, and to every province and community right across this country.
I will explain what I meant. The Liberals, over the last six years, with the support of anti-energy activists in the other parties, have introduced a series of damaging policies and damaging legislation designed to shut down the fossil fuel industry and stop market access for Canadian oil and gas, which is the most responsible, and environmentally and socially responsible oil and gas on the planet.
I know this might come as a shock, but oil and gas workers and oil and gas companies do not actually want government money. They want to continue to do their work, which they do with the highest standards and the highest outcomes of any oil and gas producing jurisdiction on earth. That industry is fundamental for the Canadian economy and our standard of living.
The Liberals need to reverse course on all their bad legislation and policies, so the private sector could go ahead and continue to invest hundreds of billions of dollars in the Canadian economy and create the hundreds of thousands of jobs that come with that.
View Alexandre Boulerice Profile
NDP (QC)
Madam Speaker, during the pandemic, during the crisis, many, many families and small business employees suffered, but other people raked in huge profits. Canada's richest people increased their wealth by $78 billion in the past year.
Does my colleague think the wealthiest people and big corporations such as Amazon and Netflix should pay for the recovery, so that workers and their families do not have to?
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
CPC (AB)
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
2021-04-22 10:58 [p.6005]
Madam Speaker, the rich get richer, and the most connected, elite, big companies, the ones with the big lobby firms and the big connections, and the people behind them, are always the ones that do best when government brings out big government spending and big government programs and tries to help.
That is why I think Canadians should have expected the budget to have a recovery plan that would allow for a path to get back to balancing the budget, so future generations of governments would have the ability to make decisions that reflect their priorities, and actually enable the private sector and entrepreneurs to create jobs and invest in the economy.
I guess, just like how not one of 2 billion trees promised managed to plant itself, neither does the budget balance itself.
View Chris d'Entremont Profile
CPC (NS)
View Chris d'Entremont Profile
2021-04-22 10:59 [p.6005]
Madam Speaker, it is my pleasure to join the House from beautiful southwest Nova Scotia, where it is a little rainy. We do not have a whole lot of COVID-19 floating around, but it seems that here in Nova Scotia we are having a resurgence of variants. Due to a lack of vaccines, we are going to see a bit of the third wave the rest of Canada has seen over the last number of weeks and months.
Because it has been a year and a half since many of us were elected, and we have not had the opportunity to speak to a budget, I would like to start my first response to it as a new MP with something a little more Nova Scotian. I will talk about something that is a bit more positive in the budget, which is important to my area and extremely important to me and my family. It is the national framework for diabetes. This is something in the budget that I support.
This year is the 100th anniversary of the discovery of insulin here in Canada, something Banting and Best were able to do at the University of Toronto. We as Canadians continue to celebrate being a part of this historic change in the lives of people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. The budget provides $25 million over five years, starting in 2021-22, to Health Canada for additional investments into research in diabetes, including juvenile diabetes, and surveillance and prevention, to work toward the development of that national framework.
That is extremely important to me and my family because I am the dad of a type 1 diabetic. My son just recently, for lack of a better description, celebrated his fifth anniversary of being a diabetic. I can see from what he has had to go through, and what other diabetics across this country have had to go through, that there is no real standard of care for those individuals.
It is good to see Canadians get together. We need to work with our provinces to make sure that is going to happen. These are very positive developments for JDRF and Diabetes Canada. I hope this continues and that more emphasis will be put on some of the chronic diseases that Canadians continue to suffer from.
I wish the rest of the budget were as positive, but unfortunately, it is not. On the health care side of things, this budget is very lax in how it is going to help with COVID-19 and respond to the needs of the provinces for extra help, especially when it comes to the deferred health care that has happened over the last number of months.
I am a member of the health committee, and a couple of weeks ago we had radiologists in to present before the committee. They estimated that 380,000 Canadians have had their tests delayed, whether it was a test for cancer, a colonoscopy, or the like. If we start to delay health care, greater issues might happen. For people who are diagnosed with cancer, it might be a different level of cancer. They could be at stage three or four, which is much more difficult to treat.
The provinces have been asking for a top-up in their health transfers over the last number of years. That does not show up in this budget, yet we saw the Prime Minister go out the next day and say the government was going to do that after the pandemic is done.
The way things are going right now, the pandemic is going to be with us for quite some time. I wonder when that extra investment is going to be in the Canada health transfers. I believe they are asking for about $4 billion. In the scope of the $100 billion of extra, I would call, election funding the government has put forward, the $4 billion they are asking for seems like quite a bargain.
Let us move on from health care and talk about something that is important for the coastal communities here in southwest Nova Scotia. Quite honestly, this area is based on the fishery and access to that fishery. I want to talk about small craft harbours. Small craft harbours might not be important to many people across Canada. However, those of us who use them, and people who have their families in the fishing industry, want to see investments in wharves. They are part of our highway system. They are part of our business park, so to speak.
We see an investment of $300 million over two years in small craft harbours. That is a drop in the bucket of what is required to improve the safety of our ports and wharves and to adjust to the changes in vessel sizes and vessel safety over the last number of years. There is not enough room in a lot of these ports.
I was on beautiful Brier Island the other day meeting with the port authority of Westport. They have a fabled wharf in the Bay of Fundy that sees some of the highest tides in the world, but they have not had an expansion or an adjustment to their port in well over 50 years. They have had little projects along the way. There has been a bit of a breakwater and maybe a change to one of the wharves, but nothing has actually happened for them in that amount of time. The $300 million is going to be very difficult to sell, because we could spend way more than that just on the 27 wharves that require it here in West Nova. A number of wharves on our list are condemned. Fishers are still using them, but they have been condemned by small craft harbours because they do not have the dollars to do the work.
While I am on the topic of the fishery, I want to talk about the safety of our fishers and a couple of experiences we have had in the last few months. The Chief William Saulis, a scallop dragger out of Digby, basically out of Yarmouth, was lost and seven men were lost with it. It took a lot of time to find. There was not enough money in the budget for the Coast Guard to go out to recover the bodies of the men who were lost. We need to do more to make sure that our vessels are safe and that we have the systems to go out and actually help them.
In another example, the scallop dragger Atlantic Destiny went down off of Georges Bank and 32 souls were saved, but we learned a number of things that I do not see in this budget. The fuel for search and rescue is not available at the airport that is closest to the port. The great people at CFB Greenwood need to change a few of their processes to adjust to these kinds of situations, sending helicopters 100 kilometres offshore. The nearest airport needs to have the capability to do it.
I will present a quick personal issue from southwest Nova Scotia. A young gentleman who is a fisher just had a terrible accident: 24-year-old Andrew Saulnier was caught up in the engine room. He lost one leg and could possibly lose the other. He is a young guy with a few children. I am going to share this on my Facebook page, not that we should be presenting Facebook page issues here in the House of Commons, but if people want to help out families, a family like Andrew Saulnier's is one that we all should be supporting, and this budget does not.
View Mark Gerretsen Profile
Lib. (ON)
Madam Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for sharing his thoughts on the diabetes strategy. He shared a very personal story of how that would impact a family member of his, and I am wondering if he sees the need to continue to work together rather than to immediately throw the budget aside and say, “We cannot support it.”
Does he see the need, based on his comments, to bring this to committee to see if some of the other issues that he wants to see addressed can be amended? Perhaps the budget could have even more in it that he would like to see.
View Chris d'Entremont Profile
CPC (NS)
View Chris d'Entremont Profile
2021-04-22 11:09 [p.6006]
Madam Speaker, if that was the way the budget was structured then, yes, we should find things that we could work on together. However, what we find is a document that has not been presented in two years, so the pent-up demand from government departments created a 700-page tome of information with a whole bunch of things in it that are, in our case, unsupportable.
We supported the bill for a diabetes framework as it came down, and I am happy to be one of the co-chairs of the interparliamentary group on JDRF. There are other ways for us to support it rather than supporting an unsupportable budget.
View Julie Vignola Profile
BQ (QC)
View Julie Vignola Profile
2021-04-22 11:10 [p.6006]
Madam Speaker, I want to come back to what my hon. colleague said.
This budget proposes standards and agencies, as well as a $3-billion investment without providing any services to the public, which means more bureaucracy and consultation but without any additional services, at the end of the day. Could the member comment on that?
View Chris d'Entremont Profile
CPC (NS)
View Chris d'Entremont Profile
2021-04-22 11:11 [p.6007]
Madam Speaker, what we are seeing is nearly $100 billion being spent on programs that have more to do with a future election.
The government is doing its best to offer Canadians as much as it possibly can, in the hope that they will vote for the Liberals. I think Canadians can see through the game the government is playing with these investments to help Canadians and Quebeckers.
View Charlie Angus Profile
NDP (ON)
View Charlie Angus Profile
2021-04-22 11:11 [p.6007]
Madam Speaker, Elk Lake is a tough and scrappy town founded by Jack Monroe. He was a vaudeville superstar who also fought Jack Johnson and was a war hero. Descendants in Elk Lake are as tough as Jack Monroe, so I am very pleased that Eacom put $8.9 million into the Elk Lake sawmill to keep it sustainable.
I am glad to see some federal money going into supporting forestry, but my concern is that people are being gouged and totally ripped off on the price of lumber right now. When I go home to people in Elk Lake and my surrounding communities, they cannot even build a woodshed because of the price.
I would ask my colleague this: What does he think we need to do at the federal level? A two-by-four has gone from costing two bucks to eight bucks. It is completely affecting people's ability to build and do renovations at a time when we need to kick-start the economy.
View Chris d'Entremont Profile
CPC (NS)
View Chris d'Entremont Profile
2021-04-22 11:12 [p.6007]
Madam Speaker, not only are we seeing the same thing here, but we do not have access to those kinds of products.
Another issue here in southwest Nova Scotia is that the housing market has gone up as a lot of people have decided to move here. A young couple trying to buy their first home and get into the workforce cannot afford to, because of mismanagement and how this pandemic continues to go on. Everybody has moved here. It is positive for the people selling their homes, and positive for the real estate agents, but where are people, who have modest means and want to move here, ever going to be able to get into a house or build their own because of the access to those kinds of products?
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Hochelaga.
Ironically, I had occasion to repair my deck. Normally I would ask somebody else to do it, but these are strange times so I thought I would apply my formidable carpentry skills to the repairs. To no one's great surprise, it is clear that I should try to keep my day job.
While my lack of carpentry skills should not be a shock, the price of lumber certainly was, as was raised in a previous exchange. It cost 51 bucks for a 16-foot cedar deck board, which is three times last year's price. I considered myself lucky to get any after phoning four lumber yards, two of which had nothing at all. Now my simple job was going to cost me 75 bucks for a four-by-two square in materials alone. If I was intending to replace the entire structure, I probably would have had to put a mortgage on the house. Mortgage money is really cheap these days, which underlines the real estate frenzy that the previous exchange outlined.
Cheap money is also the underlying assumption of this budget. The related assumption is that the Bank of Canada can keep its commitment to an inflation target of below 2%. The government and the Bank of Canada are backed up by the best economists in Canada. They provide consensus opinions to the Minister of Finance and the governor of the Bank of Canada upon which all projections are based: GDP projections, nominal GDP projections, inflation projections, interest rates, etc.
Everything starts and ends with consensus numbers. Those allow the government to know what its revenue will be and, in turn, its deficit projections. However, what if the experts are wrong and have been measuring the wrong things? The basket used to calculate inflation is made up of quite a number of goods and services, some of which are questionable in a pandemic economy.
For instance, no one is travelling these days, so travel is actually deflationary, along with all of the related services and goods that go with travel. My deck board, on the other hand, or a trip to the grocery store is exactly the opposite: It is quite inflationary. In normal times this all balances out. However, these are not normal times and we need to be more than a little skeptical about these predictions.
In a November article in The Globe and Mail's Report on Business, the writer took on the post-March pandemic predictions of the leading economists and this is what he found.
Canada's best economists predicted, first, that there would be a significant weakening of the Canadian dollar. The reality is that a brief hit was followed by a full recovery. The second prediction was that equity markets would take years to recover. The reality is that markets took months to recover and they have been on a tear ever since, with what some might even call “irrational exuberance”.
Third, the GDP would plunge. In reality it did plunge, but it recovered quickly and with not much ground to make up to pre-pandemic levels. In fact, colleagues may have caught reports by the Bank of Canada that are revising GDP growth up to 6.5%, which is higher than the government's predictions as of Monday, so things are changing rather quickly. Fourth, housing starts would plummet. The reality is that housing starts are thriving and the real estate market, some say, is insane.
I appreciate that these are challenging times, but apparently being an economist means never having to say they are sorry. Colleagues might say that I am just ranting about economists, and that might be a little bit true, even if economists are some of the nicest and smartest people I know. The fact remains that at this time last year, some of the nicest and smartest people I know got it far more wrong than right. That puts the Prime Minister and Minister of Finance in a dodgy position. Spending demands far exceed the ability of the economy to support them. It is one thing to provide emergency support, but it is quite another to provide that support over the short or medium term. It is simply not sustainable.
I do not know what a 1% interest rate jump would do to the budget, but I do know that 2% would probably be quite devastating.
Many decades ago, I was doing mortgages for my legal clients in the 17% to 18% range for five-year fixed rates. I wish I had had the foresight to load up on long-term Canada savings bonds at 13%, however I did not. I do not claim any unique insight, but to those who claim it could not happen again, I say “think again”. I remember the inflation wars of the seventies and eighties, or “stagflation” as I suppose it was called at the time. I remember wage and price controls. I remember Canada being an honorary member of the third world. I remember the draconian financial disciplines of the nineties and early 2000s. I remember the banking crisis of 2008-09, where financial institutions were severely overleveraged and CEOs were buying fancy financial instruments that they did not even seem to understand. I also remember the wise words of Ed Clark, former CEO of the TD Bank, who said he would not buy anything for his bank that he did not understand. That is good investment advice.
We are in a time when no one really knows what is going on or will go on. I did not read the last year's predictions to embarrass some people; I read them to remind everyone that we are in perilous times, and as long as the pandemic remains in our midst, economic prognostications, even consensus ones, cannot necessarily be relied upon. The question has become, “has the Government of Canada taken us too far to a step to the abyss?”
A little history might provide some comfort, however. In 1946, immediately post-World War II, the net debt-to-GDP ratio was 110%. Some eight years later, by 1954-55, it was down to 38%. It was largely reduced by tight spending and a prosperous and expanding economy. By the 1975-76 fiscal year, it was down to 14%. Then it took off to the point, in 1996-97, where the debt-to-GDP ratio was 67%, and it was considered by all, particularly the economists, to be unsustainable. We remember the New York Times article about Canada being an honorary member of the third world. With fiscal and monetary discipline and an expanding economy, the government of the day was not only able to bring down the debt-to-GDP ratio to below 30%, but the government actually paid of $100 billion in actual real debt. I would note that fiscal targets were set and a contingency fund was created, so that everyone knew the plan. The 30% debt-to-GDP ratio has hovered there ever since 2006 to 2018. While history may teach us something, it does not teach us everything. We may be in the immediate post-World War economy, or we may be in something else.
I think I have said enough about what I think about economists' predictions. The other unknown is how the virus will behave. It has demonstrated a devastating resiliency, attacking populations that were once thought to be safe, so it is hard to know whether we have reached an armistice with the enemy or there will still be a full-on war or just a few battles left to mop up.
The finance minister is making a series of what I would argue are reasonable bets. One is that the economy will grow its way out. She has some evidence to support her position. As I indicated earlier, the Bank of Canada yesterday revised its expectations for the growth of the economy upwards quite dramatically, even higher than what the projection was set out last Monday by the finance minister. The second bet is that inflation is still within the band. I am a touch more skeptical, for reasons outlined above, but it is not an unreasonable assumption, and one of the monetary tools left by the Governor of the Bank of Canada to keep the expansion of the economy going. The third bet is that short-term interest rates will remain low. How long is short term? I am not quite sure, but I am, again, a little skeptical about that.
The fourth is that the fall deficit projection of $382 billion came down to $354 billion, which is quite true, and did show some evidence that the government's plan was working. The fifth is that the government—
View Carol Hughes Profile
NDP (ON)
Unfortunate, the hon. member's time for debate has expired, but he will be able to add during questions and comments.
Questions and comments, the hon. member for Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo.
View Cathy McLeod Profile
CPC (BC)
Madam Speaker, my colleague has been here for a while and has some very valuable historical insight on things that happen over time.
When I saw this budget of 700-plus pages with extraordinary debt spending and decisions around support for many different items, I worried about, as the saying goes, when we will have to pay the piper. Part of the Conservative amendment suggests that we are concerned that the government, in an election budget, has given things away, but is not talking about the hard choices it is going to make. Does the member guarantee that there will never be capital gains on private homes?
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Madam Speaker, one is not the business of issuing guarantees on anything that one cannot control.
The member is justifiably worried about whether we can pay the debt. The real question is whether the finance minister's assumptions are realistic under the circumstances. The other assumption I would add as I have a chance to is that President Biden is proposing $2.3 trillion in stimulus spending and Canada will be well positioned to pick up on that uptake, in spite of the buy American provisions.
The budget is 700 pages and I agree that we are in perilous times. The test is whether the Minister of Finance has made some reasonable assumptions. I believe at this stage she has and, in fact, they are probably the only assumptions she can make.
View Richard Cannings Profile
NDP (BC)
Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for his comments, especially around economists. I once heard a respected conservative economist say that economists exist to make astrologers look good.
I want to ask the member about taxing the ultrawealthy to help pay back this pandemic debt. It is low-income Canadians who have been really impacted by this. People have lost their jobs and some people have lost their lives. Why has the government not brought in a wealth tax? Eighty per cent of Canadians want a wealth tax on the ultrawealthy. Instead, we get a luxury tax of 10% on people's latest Ferrari or yacht. Why has the government not taken the bold step to bring in a wealth tax so that the wealthy are paying this debt down?
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Madam Speaker, I will tell the hon. member that I do not own a yacht or a fancy car, unless one calls a Subaru a fancy car.
The short answer is that wealth taxes do not work. When they have been tried, they have been abandoned. The most effective wealth tax we have is the capital gains tax. I expect that, given the irrational exuberance of the some of the real estate sales, there will be quite a significant windfall for the government on the sales of assets.
View Louise Charbonneau Profile
BQ (QC)
View Louise Charbonneau Profile
2021-04-22 11:28 [p.6009]
Madam Speaker, I thank the member for Scarborough—Guildwood for his speech.
These are huge and unprecedented expenditures. Let us remember that this spending comes on top of Ottawa's deficits.
Moreover, the government is investing very little in health transfers and support for seniors.
Could the member comment on that?
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Madam Speaker, what I would say about that is simply that the government has provided massive amounts of stimulus to be put into the economy in order that provincial governments survive and service their own jurisdictional responsibilities.
The transfers to provinces in the past 18 months are unprecedented. The provinces have, by and large, spent the money quite wisely on health and other related issues.
View Soraya Martinez Ferrada Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Soraya Martinez Ferrada Profile
2021-04-22 11:29 [p.6009]
Madam Speaker, I will start by acknowledging the people in my riding of Hochelaga. During this unprecedented and ongoing crisis, the people of Hochelaga have been resilient, supportive and engaged. I am so proud to represent them in the House, especially today, as I rise to speak to a progressive budget focused on an inclusive and feminist economic recovery.
I too want to commend my colleague and Minister of Finance, who is the first woman to table a federal budget in the House. A significant glass ceiling has just been broken.
Since the start of the pandemic, more than one million Canadians have contracted COVID-19 and more than 20,000 Canadians have died from it. I want to tell the families and friends who lost a loved one that I am thinking of them. I also want to thank health care workers for their dedication and tireless efforts. In Hochelaga and Montreal East, the vaccination campaign is making great progress. More than 83% of seniors over 70 have already been vaccinated.
We are still living with a great deal of uncertainty and facing a global health crisis. Now is not the time for austerity. We cannot ask the most vulnerable to go into debt to pay for food and shelter or just to live during this period of uncertainty. The federal government decided to be there for Canadians and support them in the fight against COVID-19.
I come from a family that strongly believes that the role of government is to fight for society's most vulnerable and to ensure that it is ready to step up in times of crisis. That is what this budget does. Our budget seeks to meet today's urgent needs, namely overcoming COVID-19 and building a fairer, more prosperous and more innovative future for all. This budget will have an important impact on the people of my riding and of Montreal East.
In my riding, many businesses and organizations have benefited from the Canada emergency wage subsidy. “We would not be here without the federal government”: This is a strong message from Benoist, director general of Hochelaga-Maisonneuve community kitchen. Without the help of this wage subsidy, this jewel of Quebec's social economy, this pioneer of community kitchens in Quebec, which has provided more than 140,000 meals, would no longer be there. In fact, the budget allocates an additional $140 million to the emergency fund for food security.
The wage subsidy has helped several industries and small and medium-sized businesses. We can be proud to have supported two new businesses in Hochelaga and Montreal East, Oshlag and Glutenberg. A few months ago, the Prime Minister and I met with co-owners David and Frédéric to talk about the impact of COVID-19 and the federal programs that helped them. I am proud to tell Benoist, David and Frédéric, as well as thousands of organizations and businesses throughout Quebec and Canada, that our budget will extend the wage subsidy until September 25, 2021.
On top of helping these companies and making it easier for them to keep their workers employed, we are jump-starting the economy by increasing the Canada workers benefit, enabling thousands of workers to upgrade their skills in this modern, ever-changing world. With this budget, our government aims to support a sustainable green recovery, focused on the jobs of tomorrow.
Community organizations have been there for the most vulnerable Canadians since the beginning of the pandemic. Volunteers have been working every day to help the less fortunate. In Hochelaga, more than 35 community organizations received assistance from the emergency food security fund. I want to tell all of the organizations serving our community, including Le Mûrier, the Fondation des aveugles du Québec, Le Chic Resto-Pop, Projet Harmonie, Un prolongement à la famille de Montréal, and the Un Élan pour la vie foundation, that the government is supporting them in this budget. They play an important role and we recognize that. This is why we plan to invest $400 million over three years to create a temporary community services recovery fund that will help organizations adapt, modernize and participate in the economic recovery.
One of the main concerns for people in eastern Montreal and Hochelaga is the high cost of housing, which continues to put financial pressure on families. These high costs undermine the economic and social prosperity of all families in Hochelaga and across Quebec and Canada. A family should not have to choose between paying rent or buying groceries, and families will not have to do so. In addition to investing in safe, affordable housing, we plan to increase the Canada child benefit, which has lifted more than one million Canadians out of poverty for good.
I want to tell organizations like Maison Tangente, Centre NAHA, L'Anonyme, CARE Montreal and CAP St-Barnabé that the budget provides an additional $567 million over two years to support people experiencing homelessness. An additional $2.5 billion is also being invested to speed up the construction of affordable housing.
COVID-19 has disproportionately affected women. In the labour market, women were hit early. Schools and child care centres had to close, making it even harder to achieve work-life balance. The budget includes a fundamentally feminist plan to support growth and jobs. This includes creating a nationwide early learning and child care system based on the Quebec model. Creating such a system will help ensure that women can contribute to economic growth.
I would like to remind the House that Quebec is one of the best places in the world for women to enter the workforce. It is time for the rest of Canada to follow that example.
A feminist recovery also means supporting women entrepreneurs, strengthening diversity in corporate governance and creating a national action plan to end gender-based violence. We must act.
Our thoughts are with all the victims of femicide. I want to say to all women at risk that we think of them every day.
Lockdowns and reduced social contacts during the pandemic have had serious repercussions on mental health. We have a duty to ensure that Quebeckers and everyone in Canada are getting the help they need when they need it. As a mother of two young adults, I can say that the pandemic has hit hard at home.
I spoke at length with two young students at Collège de Maisonneuve, Estelle and Jean-Emmanuel. The mental health of young people has been hit particularly hard. Overnight, they ended up isolated without necessarily having access to resources to help them prepare for these changes. I want to say to Estelle, Jean-Emmanuel and the thousands of young people in Hochelaga that the government has heard them. The budget we are proposing today includes $100 million in funding to support mental health interventions, including for young people.
For the first time, the federal government recognizes the precarious state of the French language in Canada. We have a responsibility to protect and promote it. We recognized the need to protect the French language in Quebec, but also across the country, because the declining demographic weight of francophones is very real.
The time has come to modernize the Official Languages Act, and that is what we are going to do by providing funding to Canadian Heritage and the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat for that modernization.
By providing $180 million to enhance French immersion and French second-language programs in schools and post-secondary institutions, we recognize that the status of the French language is at risk in Quebec and Canada and that we have a responsibility to protect it.
I would like to close by letting the House know how proud I am that east Montreal, which I proudly represent, is included in budget 2021. Our government recognizes the potential of east Montreal, its potential for innovative research, for new and growing businesses and for the economy of tomorrow.
As the proud government representative for Hochelaga and east Montreal in the House of Commons, I will continue to work hard to defend the economic and social interests of our area and, more importantly, to support all Canadians in the recovery of tomorrow—a green, sustainable, inclusive she-covery.
View Kelly McCauley Profile
CPC (AB)
View Kelly McCauley Profile
2021-04-22 11:38 [p.6010]
Madam Speaker, my colleague from Vegreville had commented earlier today about the Liberals' propensity for announcements instead of actual action, and I want her to reference this.
She talked about the need to promote entrepreneurship among women. I will note that three or four years ago the operations committee tabled in the House a report on helping women entrepreneurs with government procurement. Now, three years later, the government has not acted on a single one of over two dozen recommendations.
She also talks about the need to promote French language in Quebec, which I understand and I support. I will note that the Treasury Board, in providing a billion-dollar, sole-sourced grant to its friends at WE, violated Treasury Board rules and did not do the official languages impact analysis. The President of the Treasury Board from Quebec City violated his own rules. Why the hypocrisy?
View Soraya Martinez Ferrada Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Soraya Martinez Ferrada Profile
2021-04-22 11:40 [p.6011]
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.
I think that we basically share the same concerns, particularly that of ensuring that women are able to return to the labour market, and that is exactly what our budget proposes.
I would also like to remind my colleague that our government is the first federal government to recognize the decline of French and the need to protect the French language to ensure its vitality and demographic weight in North America.
View Julie Vignola Profile
BQ (QC)
View Julie Vignola Profile
2021-04-22 11:41 [p.6011]
Madam Speaker, I would like to pick up on the idea of a she-covery and the importance of women in the workplace.
Not only are many women in the workforce, but they are also caregivers. The number of patients per nurse, most of whom are women, keeps rising because of diminishing health transfers and the government's refusal to grant permanent, sustainable, ongoing transfers.
In Montreal, 800 nurses have resigned over the past year, and that has increased the workload for those who remain.
By denying the health transfers that Quebec and the Canadian provinces are calling for, is the federal government not shooting itself in the foot when it comes to a she-covery?
View Soraya Martinez Ferrada Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Soraya Martinez Ferrada Profile
2021-04-22 11:42 [p.6011]
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question.
This question really resonates with me because my mother is a caregiver and has been her whole life for my brother, who is now in a long-term care home. I have not seen him in almost eight months. All that to say, I truly understand people's concern about caregivers.
I would like to remind my colleague that our government was the first to introduce a strategy to recognize caregivers and people with disabilities by increasing the disability benefit.
My colleague mentioned health transfers. I would point out that our government had to contribute $8 out of every $10 during the COVID-19 pandemic. That is over $40 billion transferred and allocated to various health programs across the country.
We are there, and we will continue to be there for all provinces to support Canadians through health care challenges.
View Alexandre Boulerice Profile
NDP (QC)
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague from Hochelaga.
She knows that many people have suffered during this pandemic, in particular workers, seniors and business owners in her riding.
Many others have become much richer. The wealthiest have amassed an additional $78 billion during this crisis. Big companies like Amazon and Netflix have made record profits.
Unfortunately, her government refuses to create a wealth tax or an excess profits tax. Why are the Liberals going to make families pay for the economic recovery?
View Soraya Martinez Ferrada Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Soraya Martinez Ferrada Profile
2021-04-22 11:43 [p.6011]
Madam Speaker, I would remind my colleague that our government is committed to making GAFAM and their ilk pay and ensuring that they contribute to our country's economic and cultural system.
However, it is up to Canadians as a society to take on debt in order to get through this pandemic.
View Michelle Rempel Garner Profile
CPC (AB)
Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia—Headingley.
Today, we are debating the federal budget, which outlines how much money the federal government is going to spend in a period of time. We have not had a document like this, an outline, in over two years. During that period of time, the federal government has spent an enormous amounts of money.
When a federal budget is put together, typically a government looks at how much revenue is coming in, and revenue is, of course, in the form of taxation, fees, levies, etc., and then how much it is going to spend against that. There are two ways that the government can fund spending, and that is either through revenue from taxation, etc. or by borrowing.
In 2015, when the Conservative Party left power, we had a balanced budget. This meant that how much we were spending was about equal to what was coming in. We did not have to borrow.
In the six-year period, including what is in the document we are debating today, the federal Liberal government has added more debt to Canada, more than every other government in the history of country combined. That is really quite something.
The question that everybody in Canada should be asking is whether he or she is getting value for that money. People who are watching today know that when they put money on their credit cards, they have to pay interest on it. That interest payment could prevent them from spending on other things. Our whole country is in that situation now.
I want to speak to this from three perspectives: the pandemic, moving forward in the pandemic, and from my province of Alberta.
First, the budget should have been tied to a plan to move Canada permanently and safely out of lockdown restrictions. We know that a lot of spending in there is related to spending on measures that are needed when people are forced to sit at home by the federal government. That does not help everybody. Restrictions do not have an equal effect on everybody in Canada. A lot of people are more impacted by these restrictions than others.
For example, a government employee who has the ability to work from home, with a permanent paycheque, might not be financially impacted in the same way as a small business owner who has to close his or her business because of uncertain restrictions.
A year into the pandemic, other countries around the world, like the United Kingdom and the United States, have started to tie reopening to benchmarks like vaccination rates. We have heard nothing from the federal government on that. In fact, it has shied away from talking about this. I realize we are in the third wave right now. I do believe the federal government's failure to deliver vaccines to Canadians in January and February exacerbated the third wave. However, without that plan, those targets, that line of sight on when the economy could reopen, this plan is a house of cards. There is a lot of assumptions that we cannot evaluate, and that is a problem.
After the pandemic, at some point, and I am hopeful Canada can move out of this, we will have a major challenge as a country. I know that some people who are listening today have lost their businesses or their jobs. Those are not things that will easily come back.
This plan should have outlined measures that would attract investment into Canada, things that would have made Canada an attractive place to do business. Some people think that government spending creates jobs, but what creates sustainable jobs is an environment in which people can take risks, invest and hire people. That means lower taxation, consistent and lower regulatory burdens, a skilled workforce and other factors.
There is really nothing in this record amount of spending and of borrowing to do that. Why is that important? Without that clear line of sight on attracting investment and job creation, it means that we are artificially creating growth. Let us think about this for a second. It is like saying we are getting more money because we are spending more money on our credit cards. It is like taking cash out of an ATM on a Visa. This is essentially what the budget would do, and that is a huge problem.
With the time I have left, I want to talk about my province of Alberta. Alberta was in a very bad economic situation prior to going into the pandemic. We had some of the highest unemployment rates in the country, and this is because the federal Liberal government disrupted the energy sector with policies that made it almost impossible for projects to move forward. This is classic Liberal political philosophy, to paint Albertans as people with dirty jobs who do not care about the environment, put in place policies that are punitive to them without any plan to support workers, and then buy off votes in central and eastern Canada and hope the Liberals continue to hold power.
We know that a government that wants to maintain Canadian Confederation should put in place policies that benefit the whole country, which the Liberals have consistently failed to do, and this budget does the same thing. There is nothing in it to address the severe economic downturn that my province is facing, because the little bits of hope that we had after the Liberals' destruction of the energy sector, like the hospitality and tourism sector, like the airline sector, etc., are all wiped out now.
The Calgary Stampede, for example, brought $500 million into the city every year, but without a plan on reopening or some benchmarks, it cannot proceed and no amount of government spending is going to fix that. We need that plan. I will bring up WestJet. WestJet is a huge source of jobs for Alberta, and the federal government has done nothing for the workers in that industry. They have been begging for a plan for rapid testing at airports that would make things safer, but the Liberals have left this company out in the dark. In fact, they have made it worse in a lot of ways, and there are so many examples like that.
This budget, which spends so much money, really sets my province back. From 2007 to 2018, my province provided $239 billion in net fiscal transfers, essentially equalization, to the country. How much did it get back from that program? It got zero dollars. Think about what my province could have done with $239 billion. Instead, people in my riding are sitting at home. I have seen high levels of suicide and domestic violence, and it is because the government consistently overlooks that. The government thinks we can somehow put money on a credit card and magically hope things get better.
What we need is a stable macroeconomic situation to allow growth to happen over time, not artificial growth through government spending, which creates inflationary pressures, makes things more expensive and does not really create any sort of long-term growth. In fact, it actually hinders growth because of those interest payments on that debt. We cannot accept this. I believe this is a way to buy off votes in a feeble attempt that undermines the intelligence of Canadians ahead of a federal election that the Prime Minister's party really wants to have happen during a pandemic. I think that is morally bankrupt.
Instead, what the government should have done is have a plan that clearly states the benchmarks by which Canada can safely reopen. Liberals should have had a better plan for vaccination. They also should have ensured that there was regional specific support for hard-hit regions like Alberta.
I am really tired of policy happening to my province. If the Liberal government was really serious about helping every region of this country, it would be ensuring that the workers in my province who have been left behind by its policies have things like skills development or specialized support. We should be looking at ways to create a stable economic climate in Alberta to attract more investment right now, but that is not what this budget does. What it does is put a lot of money on our nation's Visa card for not a lot of return. There is a lot of structural spending in here with not a lot of return, and that is a huge problem. That is why I do not support it, and no Canadian should, either.
View Mark Gerretsen Profile
Lib. (ON)
Madam Speaker, I know that this member, the opposition critic for health, speaks a lot about comparing us to the United States and tries to paint a picture that the United States is in a much better position right now than we are. However, the reality of the situation is that yesterday Canada added 5,859 COVID cases for the entire country. By comparison, Michigan added 5,900 and Florida added 5,571. Just those two states alone had double the total cases throughout all of Canada.
How can the member justify continually pointing to the United States as a huge success story when the numbers do not support it?
View Michelle Rempel Garner Profile
CPC (AB)
Madam Speaker, this may come as a surprise to the member, but the United States has 10 times the population of Canada, and I believe the figures that have come out of the United States recently have shown that on a per capita basis—because that is how we measure things when there is not an equal amount, we have something called a common denominator—Canada's cases are actually outpacing the United States, and that is because the member's party failed to deliver vaccines to Canada in January and February, unlike the United States.
I will take this opportunity to thank President Biden for announcing that he plans to give Canadians some vaccines, where the member's Prime Minister failed to do so. I thank President Biden.
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