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View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Anthony Rota Profile
2022-09-29 10:01 [p.7899]
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Pursuant to Standing Order 28(2)(b), it is my duty to lay upon the table the revised House of Commons calendar for the year 2023.
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View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Anthony Rota Profile
2022-09-29 10:03 [p.7899]
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It is my duty to lay upon the table, pursuant to subsection 40(1) of the Privacy Act and subsection 25(1) of the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, the Privacy Commissioner's report for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2022.
Pursuant to Standing Order 108(3)(h), this report is deemed to have been permanently referred to the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics.
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View Jamie Schmale Profile
CPC (ON)
moved:
That, notwithstanding any standing order or usual practice of the House, the motion for second reading of Bill C-29, An Act to provide for the establishment of a national council for reconciliation, be deemed adopted on division, deemed read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs.
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View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Anthony Rota Profile
2022-09-29 10:04 [p.7899]
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All those opposed to the hon. member's moving the motion will please say nay. It is agreed.
The House has heard the terms of the motion. All those opposed to the motion will please say nay.
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View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
View Elizabeth May Profile
2022-09-29 10:04 [p.7899]
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Mr. Speaker, I rise to present a petition from constituents and others who are extremely concerned about the climate emergency. They note that the House carried a motion that we are in a climate emergency, in June 2018. Constituents note that this requires that we act as if we are in an emergency, something that has not happened yet.
The petitioners call on Canada to address the climate emergency by reducing emissions by at least 60% below 2005 levels by 2030; making substantial contributions to assist the developing world or, as the petition refers to, countries in the global south; winding down the fossil fuel industry in such a way that ensures workers and communities are protected from any economic dislocation; providing good green jobs and an inclusive workforce; strengthening human rights and worker rights; expanding the social safety net to ensure decarbonized public housing and operational funding for affordable and accessible public transit nationwide; and paying for the transition by increasing taxes on the wealthiest and big oil and financing through a public national bank.
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View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2022-09-29 10:05 [p.7899]
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Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.
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View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Anthony Rota Profile
2022-09-29 10:06 [p.7899]
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Is it agreed?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
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View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
View Andrew Scheer Profile
2022-09-29 10:06 [p.7900]
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moved:
That, given that the cost of government is driving up inflation, making the price of goods Canadians buy and the interest they pay unaffordable, this House call on the government to commit to no new taxes on gas, groceries, home heating and pay cheques.
He said: Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise today to speak to this very important and timely motion.
The government's economic policy can be summed up in four simple words: smaller paycheques, higher prices. The cost of government is driving up the cost of living. What do the Conservatives mean when we say that? If we look at why prices are rising, it is directly linked to the massive deficits the Prime Minister has been racking up pretty much since his first day in office. In its first year in power, the government made a conscious decision to spend more money than it received and plunge this country into those deficits. That weakened our economy before the pandemic.
It is fair to say that nobody could have seen the COVID pandemic coming, but it is also prudent for a government to predict that the unknown could occur. We might not have known that it was going to be this crisis, but governments must be prepared for any number of world or global events that it might be forced to respond to. Plunging the country into those deficits when times were good was therefore a foolish thing to do. Obviously, in retrospect, it was massively unhelpful, as our country had to deal with the COVID pandemic from a weakened position because of the government's policies.
I know so many of my colleagues want to speak to this very important motion, because it is affecting people's lives in such a real and practical way, so I will be splitting my time this morning to allow for more members to participate in this debate.
How did the government's deficits lead to that higher spending? Well, the government had to go out and borrow a bunch of money that it did not have, so it turned to the Bank of Canada, and the Bank of Canada made a decision to underwrite the government's deficit spending by purchasing government bonds, or IOUs. When a government has to borrow money, it writes a promise to pay the money back. That is called a bond. Normally, individuals or institutions can buy those bonds and expect to get paid the interest, and the government pays the bond back at the end of the term. However, the Bank of Canada did something a little different: It created new money right out of thin air to buy those government bonds.
It started creating five billion dollars in new currency every single week, starting in March 2020, to buy those government bonds. That new money, not backed up by new production, not backed up by economic growth and not backed up by any extra production of goods or services, washed through the system.
There could be big winners when the government creates money out of thin air. The big winners are the large financial institutions that get the money first, because they go out and gobble up assets. They buy property and commodities. They do that with the new money before everybody realizes there is a whole new influx of currency in the system. When everybody else gets that money when it eventually makes its way through the economy, prices start to go up. Those large financial institutions and wealthy investors can then sell those commodities and make money on the difference. That is why prices have gone up, and it is also why we have seen record profits at large financial institutions like the big banks.
That is why we say that the cost of government has driven up the cost of living. Literally, the government's extra spending, wasteful spending, forced the Bank of Canada to underwrite those deficits, creating that new money and causing prices to rise. That is the higher prices.
What about the smaller paycheques? Well, what the government is planning to do on January 1 is take a bigger bite out of Canadians' paycheques with an increase in paycheque taxes. Canadians are going to be forced to pay more right off the top on their paycheques, and the government is going to take part of the extra tax it collects, scoop it out of the EI fund and spend it.
We know this. We know the government's plan for the EI increase is simply going to be gobbled up by regular government spending. In fact, the extra premiums the government will collect will put the EI fund into a $10-billion surplus over the short term, and all of that will be taken by the Prime Minister to finance his pet spending projects.
Where is a big chunk of that extra money going? It is going to the interest on our national debt. The Prime Minister has racked up more debt than every single other prime minister combined, and the PBO report indicates that just the interest on our national debt, which Canadian taxpayers will be forced to pay, will double. Soon, the portion of our tax dollars that go to pay just the interest on that national debt will be higher than the amount that is spent on the Canadian Armed Forces. That is the scale we are talking about.
What is the result? Well, we have all heard the heart-wrenching stories in our ridings. We have all heard from the seniors who have had to delay their retirement and watch their life savings evaporate with inflation. Thirty year-olds are trapped in tiny, 400-square-foot apartments in our large cities or, even worse, are still living in their parents' basement because the price of homes has doubled under the Liberals. Single mothers are putting water in their children's milk so they can afford the 10% year-over-year increase in the price of groceries.
It is no wonder that people are worried. Most are lucky just to get by, but so many are falling far behind. There are people in this country who are just barely hanging on. These are our friends and neighbours, and we in the House are their servants. It is up to us to take real action to address this Liberal-caused inflation crisis.
The Conservatives are bringing forward very simple and practical solutions to help Canadians across the country. Today, the Conservatives are calling on the government to not make the situation worse. The Liberals have already done damage with higher prices. They do not need to shrink Canadians' paycheques, which is what this government is planning to do. Not only are they adding inflationary fuel on the fire with their continued plans to increase spending, but they are reducing Canadians' ability to cope with the government-caused inflation by shrinking those paycheques.
A new poll out today is just jaw-dropping: 90% of Canadians are tightening their household budgets due to inflation. Almost half, or 46%, say they are worse off now than they were at the same time last year when it comes to their own finances, which represents a 12-year high. Over half say that it is difficult to feed their household, and this number rises to seven in 10, or 68%, among those with household incomes below $50,000. Canadians cannot keep up.
As for grocery prices, I have five children and our grocery bill is big enough as it is with a few teenagers in the house. Those prices have skyrocketed, up over 10% and rising at the fastest pace in 40 years. With inflationary pressures at this rate, the government's supports do not even help the problem but contribute to it, as that extra spending is added to the amount of money the government needs to borrow, which is causing that vicious circle of higher inflation.
The average Canadian family now spends more of its income on taxes than it does on basic necessities such as food, shelter and clothing combined. By comparison, 33.5% of the average family's income went to pay taxes in 1961. Thirty-three per cent of income in 1961 went to taxes and now that number is 43%, so more is spent on taxes than food, shelter and clothing combined. It is simply jaw-dropping.
On Tuesday, the Conservatives proposed that the government should cancel its plan to triple the carbon tax. The cost of everything is set to skyrocket as the government triples the amount that it charges Canadians on home heating and fuel, with all the effects that has on literally everything else that Canadians have to buy. Groceries, lumber and household items all go up when the government raises the carbon tax by 300%.
Today, we have another practical solution: The government should get its hands off Canadians' paycheques and let Canadians keep more of their hard-earned dollars. It has already robbed Canadians of the purchasing power that they are already earning, and their existing paycheques are already devalued because of the government's inflationary policies. It is never a good time to raise taxes, but the absolute worst time to raise taxes on Canadians' paycheques is when they are already struggling so hard to get by with day-to-day goods.
I hope every member of the House supports this common-sense, practical motion to stop the government's tax hikes on Canadians' paycheques.
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View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Anthony Rota Profile
2022-09-29 10:17 [p.7901]
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Before going to questions and comments, I just want to clarify with the hon. member that he said he was going to split his time.
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View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
View Andrew Scheer Profile
2022-09-29 10:17 [p.7901]
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I still will.
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View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Anthony Rota Profile
2022-09-29 10:17 [p.7901]
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I thank the member. I wanted to make sure that was on the record.
Questions and comments, the hon. member for Winnipeg North.
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View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2022-09-29 10:17 [p.7901]
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Mr. Speaker, it is truly amazing. The difference between the Conservatives and the Liberals is that the Liberal government recognizes the importance of developing and encouraging an economy that works for all Canadians. The Conservatives, on the other hand, have a policy one day and then will flip to another policy the next day.
If we think about it, let us talk about inflation. Canada, in comparison to other countries around the world, is doing exceptionally well. We can look at the U.S., look at Europe and look at England.
It does not mean we ignore the issue. In fact, we brought forward Bill C-30. Bill C-30 ensures that individuals will get an enhanced GST rebate. Originally the Conservatives said no. Now they have had a flip-flop and are supporting this Liberal initiative. The more time they give this government, the more they will find they like the policies. After all, they criticize the deficit, but they voted for billions and billions of those dollars that are going toward the deficit. They voted in favour of it.
Why should Canadians believe a party that does not understand basic economic principles? All one needs to do is to look at the silly idea of cryptocurrency that was being advanced by today's Conservative leader, where thousands of Canadians lost a great deal of money because of the lack of wisdom in his words.
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View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
View Andrew Scheer Profile
2022-09-29 10:18 [p.7901]
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Mr. Speaker, there we have it. The Liberal message to Canadians is to thank their lucky stars it is not even worse. It is a bit like an arsonist saying to a homeowner, “Well, I know I set your house on fire, but look, your neighbour's house is even more on fire.”
I do not think a single Canadian is going to be reassured by that message. When it comes to what this party has supported, we have always supported tax relief for Canadians. We certainly did not vote in favour of the government's wasteful and corrupt spending, such as when it sent $1 billion to its friends at the WE organization or when it gave $35 billion to an Infrastructure Bank that has turned into a corporate welfare machine and has not got a single project built.
On this side of the House, we recognize that when Canadians work so hard for their paycheques, they should be able to keep as much of it as possible. That is why we are so focused on this measure. The government should cancel the upcoming paycheque tax hikes so that Canadians can keep more of their hard-earned dollars.
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View Yves Perron Profile
BQ (QC)
View Yves Perron Profile
2022-09-29 10:20 [p.7902]
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Mr. Speaker, I would like to hear from the Leader of the Opposition. The Conservatives keep coming back to the same issue, one that is very important. No one is denying that. However, it seems to me that there is a lack of constructive solutions.
Would my colleague be open to increasing benefits for seniors on fixed incomes? The Bloc Québécois has been trying to hammer home this point for several months in Parliament and the government has not responded. Given inflation rates, which are particularly affecting food prices, we should help seniors by increasing the old age security pension. The agricultural community also needs more support, considering that the cost of gasoline has increased.
I would like to hear some constructive comments from my colleague.
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View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
View Andrew Scheer Profile
2022-09-29 10:20 [p.7902]
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Mr. Speaker, the motion we are debating today proposes a concrete measure to help Canadians.
Today's measure is a concrete proposal. It is a very simple, straightforward proposal to help Canadians deal with the Liberal-caused inflation. It will allow them to keep more of their hard-earned dollars. The government is devaluing the dollars they are earning, so the very least it can do is to let Canadians keep more of the dollars they have worked so hard for in the first place.
We have to get back to the root cause. It will do Canadians and seniors no good to increase something with the left hand, but with the right hand take away all of that benefit with rising prices. As long as the government continues its vicious circle of increased spending and the borrowing that goes along with it, we will continue to have inflation. It will just make the problem worse. That is why we have to tackle the root cause of inflation.
I should point out that for several months we have had 8% inflation in this country. It is back to school time and I have been helping my daughters with their math, and 8%, I figured out, is just about one-twelfth. That is as if one were to go buy a case of beer, open up the first one and just dump it right down the drain. It just evaporates, or it is like working all month, day in and day out, and at the end of that month one finds out one worked for nothing. That is the effect of 8% inflation. Canadians are tired of working one month out of the year for nothing. The very least the government can do is to let them keep what they have earned the other 11 months.
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View Tim Uppal Profile
CPC (AB)
View Tim Uppal Profile
2022-09-29 10:22 [p.7902]
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Mr. Speaker, my father has worked very hard ever since he immigrated to this country. He has worked in sawmills and in coal mines in Alberta and B.C., and to this day he continues to drive a taxi, because he just cannot stay at home, so he would rather go out and work. He has always said that in Canada, if people work, they can pay their bills and provide for their families, and if they work hard, they can buy really nice things, too. That is the reason so many people, like my father and many others, have come to this country. They came to Canada for the opportunities and to be able to provide for their families.
However, the Liberal government has created a Canada that many Canadians struggle to recognize now, where working hard no longer means people will be able to pay for fuel, heat their homes or even own a home at all. Affordability is a top concern for Canadians across the country. When asked in a recent survey what issues we should focus on during this parliamentary session, almost every response listed the cost of living as a top concern.
Now in Canada we have college students living in homeless shelters, single mothers who cannot afford to buy nutritious food for their children, and seniors turning to food banks as a last resort. Even in recent reports, those same food banks are saying that they are struggling to even stay open, that they do not have enough food to provide to those who show up for help and support.
We have a generation of young Canadians living in their parents' basements without the hope of ever moving out. Young families who were once saving up for a down payment are now having to use that down payment to buy groceries and pay for gas. Grandparents watch as their adult children struggle to provide for their own children, despite having jobs. There is much pain and struggle among Canadians. They did everything we asked them to do, yet the government is failing them.
When the Prime Minister took office, Canadians were paying 32% of their income, on average, to maintain a mid-size house. Now the average family has to pay 50% of its income just to keep that house. Canadians are putting themselves in debt to cover their basic expenses and repaying this borrowed money at an unpredictable and growing interest rate. The government told Canadians that rates would remain low for a long time, but now we can see interest rates rising every few months and Canadians just cannot keep up. Instead of providing relief to Canadians, the government is increasing taxes on those who are already struggling.
I have heard from many people across my riding, single mothers, small business owners and families in Edmonton Mill Woods, who cannot afford the government's spending agenda, a spending agenda that the government itself cannot afford. As one constituent said to me, we need a government that works for Canadians, not the other way around. I could not agree more.
My riding of Edmonton Mill Woods is very much a multicultural community. Many immigrants have come to this beautiful place to make their lives here. I know many hard-working immigrant families that work long hours, trying to provide a good life for their children, but still fall short of meeting the inflationary demands created by the government.
A constituent of mine, Abdul, is a local business owner and a new immigrant from Nigeria. Like most small business owners, he works a lot more than the usual eight hours per day. This is a person who is driven, hard-working and passionate about his business, yet he struggles to make ends meet. He confided in me that he cannot afford to put his children in hockey or put his daughter in dance. Unlike the government, he cannot spend money he does not have.
Kim, another constituent, is a single mother and the sole provider for her children. She continues to struggle to afford to put gas in her car in order just to get to her job. Unlike the government, she has to save up money in order to spend it on her children. She had to save up just to buy school supplies this year, which, of course, cost more because of the government-created inflation crisis right now. I believe single mothers like Kim and many other Canadians have something to teach the government. It must find a dollar to spend a dollar. It must have the money to spend the money.
Now the government is making things worse for Canadians. The government must scrap its planned tax hikes on Canadian families and Canadian businesses. Canadians cannot keep up with this out-of-control spending, which is driving interest rates and inflation. Instead of just printing more money, we need to produce more things we can buy. We need to produce affordable food, energy and natural resources right here in Canada.
Our farmers are the best in the world. By removing the barriers the government has placed on them, we would increase our food production and make food more affordable. We must scrap these taxes on farmers, scrap the government's plan to reduce the use of fertilizer, and eliminate even the red tape that makes it more expensive for farmers. Let our farmers do what they do best, which is to grow our food.
In fact, if the government would just get out of way, farmers would not only be able to provide more food for Canadians, but could also help in this looming food shortage crisis around the world.
I would also suggest the government go out and speak to Canadians and hear from them. I suggest the government speak to my constituents and other constituents across the country about what is actually happening to them, their families and their businesses. I recently sat down with a group of truckers, and I was astonished to hear that some trucking companies are actually finding it cheaper and saving money by parking their trucks. Diesel and the cost of paying for and finding a driver have become so expensive that they are saving money by not working.
We must ensure Canadians keep more of their paycheques in their pockets and that energy, gas, heating and other costs become more affordable. Instead of importing foreign energy, we must get rid of laws like the ones arising out of Bill C-69 and allow energy to be produced here in Canada. Bill C-69 itself was a major roadblock for bringing new investments and projects into Canada.
Canada currently imports over 130,000 barrels of overseas oil daily, mostly from dictator countries. This is despite the fact we have the third-largest supply of energy right here in Canada, with much of it in Alberta. That is all because the government prefers dirty dictator oil to responsible Canadian energy.
We will repeal the government's anti-energy laws and replace them with laws that protect our environment, consult our first nations and actually get projects done. That will mean more jobs for Canadians and more ethical Canadian energy for the world. This will also help the value of our dollar.
It is never the right time to raise taxes on working Canadians, yet that is exactly what the government is doing. We continue to call on the government to cancel all planned tax hikes, including payroll taxes planned for January 1 and tax hikes on gas, groceries and home heating on April 1. I hope the government and all other members of the House will support our motion today.
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View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Anthony Rota Profile
2022-09-29 10:30 [p.7903]
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I ask hon. members to be as concise as possible. There is a lot of interest in getting a question out there, and we want to make sure everyone gets the chance.
Questions and comments, the hon. member for Kingston and the Islands.
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View Mark Gerretsen Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mark Gerretsen Profile
2022-09-29 10:31 [p.7903]
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Mr. Speaker, I will be concise.
This member said “instead of providing relief” as part of his comments today. All this government has been doing is looking for solutions to provide relief for Canadians. Look at the GST rebate, the assistance with rent, and the dental care for children under 12 that has been established. These are all measures the federal government is putting in place to help provide some of that relief.
More importantly, as it relates to the GST rebate we introduced, I understand now the Conservatives are going to vote in favour of it, which is great. Since they have made that position clear, will the Conservatives let us vote on that, or will they insist on letting every member speak and then put forward an amendment and then have another round of everybody speaking just for no purpose other than to jam up the political process in here? Will they let us get that GST rebate out to Canadians who need it right now?
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View Tim Uppal Profile
CPC (AB)
View Tim Uppal Profile
2022-09-29 10:32 [p.7904]
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Mr. Speaker, I would not exactly call that concise, but I think there was a question in there somewhere.
As for helping Canadians, it was the Liberal government that caused all of these problems. It is the government that has caused this inflation and caused the cost of everything to go up, and now it is providing some things it is calling solutions. In fact, some of its so-called solutions will actually add to inflation and to those problems, and they are just temporary.
The fact of the matter is that anything the government provides now, whatever it is proposing, will actually be completely wiped out by the cost of everything and wiped out even more by its increased tax hikes. On January 1 and on April 1, the cost of everything is going to go up for Canadians. That will completely wipe out everything it has said it is trying to provide. It is not helping. It caused this problem and it is not helping now.
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View Denis Trudel Profile
BQ (QC)
View Denis Trudel Profile
2022-09-29 10:33 [p.7904]
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Mr. Speaker, it really is Groundhog Day here in Parliament. It seems as if we are talking about the same issue we discussed last Tuesday.
It is true that prices are going up. Let us talk about housing, for example. This week, the Canadian Housing and Renewal Association came to the Hill to meet with us. They told us something pretty interesting that predates the pandemic and the recent increase in inflation.
Over the last 10 years in Canada, 600,000 affordable housing units have been lost. These are units the government had paid for, that we had all paid for, and that were relatively affordable. They were moved to the private market.
The government boasts about having a national housing strategy in which it is investing $72 billion, supposedly to create affordable housing, but that money has been lost. Private developers are buying up the units and flipping them at higher prices.
This is a major crisis that requires major investment. What do the Conservatives have to offer?
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View Tim Uppal Profile
CPC (AB)
View Tim Uppal Profile
2022-09-29 10:34 [p.7904]
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Mr. Speaker, I would agree with my hon. colleague that the government's programs on housing have not been working. Day in and day out, we have been asking the government about affordable housing and their solution has always been to say, “We have spent so much money on it. We spent millions of dollars on this program, millions and millions of dollars on this program,” but the results have not been there. It is not working.
What we have said is that we need to increase supply. If there is a demand problem, we need to be able to figure out solutions to increase supply, something they are not doing. If we increase supply, that would actually fix the system. If we were to work with municipalities, work with the provinces and encourage municipalities, especially those gatekeepers who are very slow and not allowing building permits to go through, and if we could increase that supply and use more of the abundant land that we have in Canada to provide housing for Canadians, that would actually create more affordable housing.
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View Gord Johns Profile
NDP (BC)
View Gord Johns Profile
2022-09-29 10:35 [p.7904]
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Mr. Speaker, I could not agree with my colleague more when he raised that we could be spending today talking about more important issues. Here we are, on the eve of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. What do we hear from the Conservatives? We have a rerun of Tuesday. We had the House leader of the official opposition talking about beer.
What are they doing today? They are spending time, and every day this week, delaying getting help to people.
Does my colleague not believe that, today, we should be spending the day talking about the pressing issues that are facing indigenous peoples in this country, putting pressure on the government to fulfill their commitment on the truth and reconciliation calls to action and on the missing and murdered indigenous women and girls calls to justice? Why are they not spending today doing that? Why are we not spending this day doing that, today, right now?
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View Tim Uppal Profile
CPC (AB)
View Tim Uppal Profile
2022-09-29 10:36 [p.7904]
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Mr. Speaker, we are spending the day talking about important issues. We are talking about making life more affordable for all Canadians, including indigenous communities, new Canadians and Canadians who have been here for generations, because this crisis has gotten to a point where Canadians just cannot go on. On top of that, now, the Liberal government is going to make things even more unaffordable.
When we talk to our constituents and they say that they are having a hard time providing food for their families, that they are struggling to even support their families, that is a national crisis that we must deal with. We will continue to discuss this. We will continue to put pressure on the government until they stop increasing taxes on Canadians.
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View Terry Beech Profile
Lib. (BC)
View Terry Beech Profile
2022-09-29 10:37 [p.7904]
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Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be here to discuss this topic. I will be sharing my time with the member for Milton.
We are seeing higher inflation rates and a higher cost of living in Canada, and frankly right around the world. as a result of many factors. They include the war on Ukraine, global supply chain bottlenecks, in large part due to the pandemic, and global energy market uncertainty. Inflation is actually less severe here in Canada at 7% than among many of our peers. The United States is at 8.3% and the United Kingdom is at 9.9%. The euro area and the OECD also have higher inflation.
While inflation in Canada has continued to ease from its peak in June, we know that Canadians continue to be worried about the higher cost of living. They are asking what their government is doing about it and what we are going to continue to do to make life more affordable and to grow an economy that works for everyone.
While inflation is not a unique Canadian problem, we are uniquely positioned to deal with it. We have the lowest debt-to-GDP ratio in the G7. We have a AAA credit rating and, according to the International Monetary Fund, Canada will have the fastest-growing economy in the G7 this year and next year. This means we can build a comprehensive affordability plan for Canadians while continuing to reduce our debt-to-GDP ratio, and that is exactly what we are doing.
In terms of what this means for Canadians, our plan will help make life more affordable through measures like doubling the GST credit for six months, which will provide $2.5 billion in additional targeted support this year to roughly 11 million individuals and families who already receive the tax credit, including more than half of Canadian seniors. I am, in fact, very happy that the Conservative Party is now supporting this measure.
We are going to enhance the Canada workers benefit to put up to an additional $2,400 into the pockets of low-income working families. We are increasing old age security for seniors over 75, which increases benefits for more than three million seniors and provides more than $800 in the first year for full pensioners.
This year, a $500 payment will be made to 1.8 million Canadian low-income renters. We will cut child care fees by an average of 50% by the end of this year. Dental care for Canadians without dental insurance who earn less than $90,000 will be available for hundreds of thousands of children under the age of 12 for the first time in Canadian history.
We will continue to index to inflation some of Canada's most important programs, including the Canada child benefit, the GST credit, the Canada pension plan, old age security and the guaranteed income supplement. Simply put, our plan is putting more money in the pockets of Canadians when they need it the most. This includes our lowest-paid workers, low-income renters and families who cannot afford to take their kids to the dentist.
We know that the right fiscal path does not have us compensating every single Canadian for rising costs driven by a global pandemic and by an illegal war on Ukraine. To do so would only make inflation worse. Canadians understand that too. We are instead targeting supports to the Canadians who are the most disproportionately impacted by the effects of inflation.
Our government will also ensure our economy is growing, that our businesses have the workers they need and that Canadians can continue to find good-paying and rewarding jobs. We will do this while continuing our strong fiscal track record and not further fuelling the inflationary fire.
Let us be absolutely clear: This suite of measures that comprise our affordability plan will support Canadians without increasing inflation. This, of course, undercuts the Leader of the Opposition's motion, what his House leader has already said today and specifically runs counter to the claim that the government is driving up inflation.
Many economists, including the former deputy parliamentary budget officer, the University of Calgary's Lindsay Tedds and Alberta economist Trevor Tombe, have all agreed that this support package for Canadians is not inflationary. In fact, because our incremental investments only represent 0.1% of our GDP, even the current Parliamentary Budget Officer has stated that the impact on inflation would be neither significant nor measurable.
It is great to see that Conservatives have started to backtrack on their previous positions against getting support to Canadians and are now supporting the GST tax credit. It is time for them to support the housing benefit and dental care as well.
Let me take some time to discuss the Canada pension plan and the employment insurance system. At this time of global economic uncertainty, it is the height of irresponsibility for the Conservatives to suggest that we as a country stop putting money away for retirement and employment insurance. Cutting contributions will mean lower pensions for seniors at a time when they will need it most. Raiding pensions is a regular strategy for the Conservative Party, and this policy is similar to when they raised the age of retirement eligibility from 65 to 67. That took thousands of dollars away from seniors, and we should not let them do it again.
With respect to employment insurance, when we were elected in 2015, the EI premium rate was $1.88. Funny enough, the current Leader of the Opposition was the minister in charge of the file at the time. Today, the EI rate is $1.58, which is 30¢ lower. Next year it will go up to $1.63, which is still 25¢ lower than it was in 2015, when the Leader of the Opposition had full control of the file. I am certain this clarifies the issue for Canadians.
By the way, going after the pensions of Canadians is not just, resolutely, a poor economic and social decision, but a little misguided as well. I am sure the Leader of the Opposition knows that making changes to the Canada pension plan requires legislation and agreements from seven out of 10 provinces. If he truly wants to govern, he should think long and hard before he gets into a fight with the 13 provinces and territories over reducing the hard-earned pension plans of our fellow Canadians.
Let us turn to fighting climate change and our national price on pollution.
First, fighting climate change is an absolute necessity for the future of our planet. Let us also acknowledge that the effects of climate change are an inflationary pressure on our economy. It is well known that having a national price on pollution is a highly effective market mechanism for reducing greenhouse gas emissions while making life more affordable for the majority of Canadians. Throughout all the debates in this session, the Conservatives have tried to correlate the massive increase in the price of gas with the federal carbon price, and it is simply not true. In 2019, the carbon price was approximately 9¢ per litre in British Columbia, my home province. Today, it is 11¢ per litre. That means that although gas prices have increased by more than a dollar per litre, only 2¢ of that increase can be attributed to the price on pollution in British Columbia over the last three years.
Further, because the carbon price in British Columbia is provincially administered, if the federal carbon price was eliminated, as the Conservatives are regularly suggesting, this would result in zero savings for residents in British Columbia. Instead, it would simply mean that other jurisdictions, other provinces, would do less to fight climate change.
Also worth noting is that, with the climate action incentive, carbon pricing actually makes life more affordable for 80% of Canadian households, something the Conservatives always seem to forget when they talk about the subject.
I hope that all members opposite will share this information with their colleagues and convince their caucus to go back to supporting carbon pricing as they did less than 12 months ago.
I believe I have now fully addressed every point within today's motion. It is clear that our government continues to have a fiscally responsible plan to help make life more affordable and to grow an economy that works for everyone.
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View Julie Vignola Profile
BQ (QC)
View Julie Vignola Profile
2022-09-29 10:46 [p.7906]
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Mr. Speaker, I have risen in the House several times this week to talk about measures that might seem worthwhile in the short-term because they provide some relief for taxpayers. Today's motion might seem useful because it talks about lowering taxes. No one can be against apple pie.
However, we are in the midst of an inflationary period. As I used to teach my high school students, inflation is caused by a myriad of factors, such as supply issues, natural disasters that destroy areas that produce food and other goods, a labour shortage and so on.
I am trying to understand what medium- and long-term solutions the government and the opposition parties envision. What kinds of solutions will truly help us reduce inflation without draining our coffers? As I taught my high school students, inflation is followed by a recession, and that is when we will need money in the coffers.
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View Terry Beech Profile
Lib. (BC)
View Terry Beech Profile
2022-09-29 10:47 [p.7906]
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Mr. Speaker, I am happy the member works to educate her students on inflation and its many causes.
There tends to be a disagreement between the government and especially the Conservatives, and there is a lot of cross-talk over what is causing inflation. The member is right that things like climate change and natural disasters can cause inflation. The war in Ukraine is certainly putting inflationary pressure on global economies, as are the leftover remnants of the effects of the pandemic, where we have supply bottlenecks, which are global as well.
The opposition wants to make the thesis that it is solely the Government of Canada that is driving inflation, but that is a hard thesis to prove. There is no way that the fiscal policies of Canada are affecting inflation in Europe, the OECD or in the United States.
In the short term, we are going to make life more affordable for Canadians and helping to grow an economy that works for everyone. In the long term, we will use both our fiscal tools and the independent Bank of Canada's monetary tools to get inflation under control.
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View Taylor Bachrach Profile
NDP (BC)
View Taylor Bachrach Profile
2022-09-29 10:49 [p.7906]
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Mr. Speaker, one of the things I have been hearing a lot lately from seniors in northwest B.C. is how difficult it is to make ends meet on a fixed income, how their pensions, old age security is insufficient to cover the basic costs of living.
So many people have asked me when their public pension will increase to the point where they can afford the basics, where they can have the dignity of being able to pay for rent, medication and the things that so many of us take for granted.
Could the parliamentary secretary outline his government's plans, if indeed it has them, to finally increase the public pensions to a point where people can have the dignity of a basic income to pay for the things they need?
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View Terry Beech Profile
Lib. (BC)
View Terry Beech Profile
2022-09-29 10:50 [p.7906]
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Mr. Speaker, in the short term, with respect to supports for pensioners, we are increasing OAS for seniors 75 and over by 10%, so seniors can expect an additional $815 in benefits. We have reduced the retirement age from 67 to 65. Seniors over 75 received a one-time payment of $500 over the summer.
I am happy to report to the House that our policies are working, because 25% fewer seniors live in poverty today than when we took office in 2015. Through working with the provinces and territories, our government has established a plan where future retirees will see significantly more benefits when it comes time to retire, as long as we do not let the Conservatives take those benefits away from them.
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View Warren Steinley Profile
CPC (SK)
View Warren Steinley Profile
2022-09-29 10:50 [p.7907]
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Madam Speaker, the member talked about promises and commitments. I would ask him about a campaign commitment that his government made during the last campaign to never raise the carbon tax past $50. Now we see that it will go up to maybe $170 a tonne.
The member talked about some of the commitments we made in the last campaign. I am wondering how he feels about making a commitment on the doorsteps of his constituents and then not following through on that. They are seeing the price of everything go up because of the ever-increasing carbon tax.
I would like to hear the member's comments on not fulfilling the promise he made to the people who sent him here.
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View Terry Beech Profile
Lib. (BC)
View Terry Beech Profile
2022-09-29 10:51 [p.7907]
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Madam Speaker, I would refer Canadians to the content of my speech. If I could refer back to my experience in British Columbia, we have had a price on pollution since 2008. We have had the fastest growing economy in the country. Our plan actually makes life more affordable for 80% of Canadian households.
It is a good plan that fights climate change and grows the economy at the same time.
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View Adam van Koeverden Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Adam van Koeverden Profile
2022-09-29 10:52 [p.7907]
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Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to be here today with my friends and colleagues to speak to the very important issue of making life more affordable for all Canadians.
I am pleased to contribute to the debate today on this motion. Making life more affordable for Canadians is a key priority for our government, and I would like to highlight some of the measures that we are taking to address the cost of living.
The pandemic has been, we hope, a once-in-a-lifetime and generation crisis. However, like any major crisis, this has aftershocks and inflation is chief among those aftershocks.
Inflation has made the cost of living into a real struggle for a lot of Canadians and for many of my constituents in Milton, especially the most vulnerable. We understand that our neighbours are going through many tough times right now and these measures are designed to address some of those.
This is not a made-in-Canada challenge. Inflation is affecting people around the world. We are fortunate to recognize that inflation is not as bad here as it is in some other places, but we do have made-in-Canada solutions for the impact that our neighbours are feeling.
Over all, the government's affordability plan is delivering targeted and fiscally responsible financial support for the Canadians who need it most, with particular emphasis on addressing the needs of low-income Canadians who are exposed to inflation.
The government's affordability plan includes an enhanced Canada workers' benefit that will put up to $2,400 more into the pockets of low-income families. There is a 10% increase in old age security for seniors 75 and over, which will provide more than $800 in new supports to full pensioners over the first year and increase benefits for more than three million seniors in Canada. The main support programs, including the Canada child benefit, the GST benefit, the Canada pension plan, old age security and the guaranteed income supplement are all indexed to inflation and they will be increasing.
Last week, meeting a commitment made earlier this year, the government tabled two important pieces of legislation in Parliament. The bills represent the latest suites of measures to support Canadians with the rising costs of living without adding fuel to the fire of inflation. Bill C-30 would double the goods and services tax credit for six months. Bill C-31 would enact two important measures: the Canada dental benefit and a one-time top-up to the Canada housing benefit.
Doubling the GST credit will provide $2.5 billion in additional targeted support to the roughly 11 million Canadians and families that already receive that tax credit. That includes about nine million single people and almost two million couples, and more than half of Canadian seniors as well. Single Canadians without children will receive an extra $234 and couples with two children will receive an additional $467 this year. Seniors will receive, on average, an extra $225.
The next important measure is the Canada dental benefit, which will be provided to eligible Canadian families with children under 12 who do not already have access to dental insurance, starting this year. Direct payments totalling up to $1,300 per child over the next two years, which is up to $650 per year per child, will be provided for dental care services. This is the first stage of the government's plan to deliver comprehensive dental coverage for families with adjusted net incomes under $90,000 and will allow children under 12 to receive the dental care they need, while the government works to develop a comprehensive dental care program. As I have said many times in the House before, healthy children today is a healthy Canada tomorrow.
The one-time top-up to the housing benefit will deliver an additional $500 payment to 1.8 million renters who are struggling with the cost of housing right now. This more than doubles the government's budget 2022 commitment, reaching twice as many Canadians as initially promised. The federal benefit will be available to applicants with an adjusted net income below $35,000 for families and below $20,000 for individuals who pay at least 30% of their adjusted net incomes on rent, which is, unfortunately, a high proportion of those folks.
In addition to those important pieces of legislation and the rest of the affordability plan, I would also like to speak about an important key measure to help Canadian families; that is the early learning and child care program that we have launched in every province and territory across the country.
Despite legitimate doubts that it was possible, we have already signed agreements on early learning and child care with every province and territory. Our plan makes work and life more affordable for middle-class Canadian families. It means an average reduction in fees of 50% by the end of this year. By 2026, regulated child care will cost an average of just $10 per day right across the country.
Just recently, I heard from a constituent who is going to save $9,000 a year, because he and his wife have two children. They are both going to get to work slightly longer hours, and neither of them will be part-time this year. They were so grateful to the Milton Community Resource Centre for signing on to the early learning and child care plan. I have visited the Milton Community Resource Centre a number of times to ensure that its priorities have been met through that program. It is serving my constituents in Milton and so many families are going to save thousands of dollars next year, thanks to that program.
Labour force shortages are a problem right now for our economy, and affordable early learning and child care is going to be such an important part of Canada's solution.
At this point, I feel that I should make a comment on the so-called payroll taxes about which the Conservatives keep talking.
Canada pension plan contributions are not a tax; they are an investment in one's own retirement, security that receives a tax credit or a tax deduction. The CPP provides an affordable, low-cost and modest pension for Canadian workers outside of Quebec, who are covered by similar benefits of the QPP.
Many Canadians are worried that they will not have put enough money away for their retirement, and fewer and fewer Canadians have workplace pensions or large savings on which to fall back. Our government has delivered on a commitment to Canadians to strengthen the CPP, in collaboration with provinces, to help them achieve their goal of a strong, secure and stable retirement.
The measures I have mentioned today would deliver targeted support to Canadians who need it most, without exacerbating inflation. That is an important balance, and the government's affordability plan is already putting money back in the pockets of Canadians who need it most.
Even as we deal with the very real challenges of the global economy, elevated inflation and increasing interest rates, it is important to take comfort in the reality that Canada has a really strong economic foundation as we face these global challenges. We will continue to provide timely support where it is needed most, all while maintaining fiscal discipline and responsibility.
It has been a tough couple of years for all of us. It does seem like we have to overcome one thing after another, but there are better days ahead, and Canada is in a really good place right now. The numbers today dictate that, and our plan is a strong one. I hope all members in the House will support it.
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View Brad Redekopp Profile
CPC (SK)
View Brad Redekopp Profile
2022-09-29 10:58 [p.7908]
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Madam Speaker, it was interesting listening to the parliamentary secretary talk about the fact that EI and CPP were not taxes. I would refer him to his government's own website, where it clearly states, under the tax basics section, that they are, in fact, taxes. I am not sure if he is aware of that, so I wanted to make him aware of it.
Also, the member talked a lot about the ways that the government is shovelling money into the economy during a period of high inflation. Again, a basic economic principle that Liberals seem to misunderstand is that whatever the cause of inflation, and we may disagree on the cause, part of the solution is in the hands of government. One of the things that hurts inflation and makes it worse is when the government continues to pile money into the economy.
I wonder if he understands that and if he wants to do something about it.
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View Adam van Koeverden Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Adam van Koeverden Profile
2022-09-29 10:59 [p.7908]
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Madam Speaker, the Conservatives have been very ambiguous on which piles of money they disagree. Is it the CERB, which supported millions of Canadians across the country when they were out of work? Is it the wage subsidy, which supported small and medium-sized businesses across the country to support their workers? They have been very ambiguous with respect to which piles of money the government has been shovelling into the economy.
As somebody who grew up in a low-income household, my mother received HST/GST refunds, and they helped her pay the bills. I am really confident with these increases: the doubling of that GST credit; a little rental support for low-income Canadians; and ensuring that kids under 12 get dental care, and I can think of nothing more important than that. If the member opposite thinks that providing dental care for Canadians is shovelling money into the economy, then I think we would tend to disagree on that.
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View Louise Chabot Profile
BQ (QC)
View Louise Chabot Profile
2022-09-29 11:00 [p.7908]
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Madam Speaker, all week long, both in question period and during Government Orders, members have been comparing EI premiums to a payroll tax.
On one side of the House, the Conservatives are saying the rates are terrible and have to be cancelled. On the other, the Liberals say rates have gone down by 30¢, or something like that, since they came to power.
They are both wrong.
For starters, employment insurance premiums are not a payroll tax. They are a safeguard. They are contributions to an insurance plan for people who lose their jobs. The Conservatives are hardly ones to talk: They were the first to pillage the EI fund.
The current government is not one to talk either, because it is failing workers. Those contributions everyone is fighting over are not even available to 40% of people.
Imagine my private insurance company telling me it can insure my house, but only two of the rooms, not the other three rooms. It makes no sense. Either we have a proper safety net or we do not. This is a premium to protect workers.
Why did the government fail workers by putting an end to these emergency measures?
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View Adam van Koeverden Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Adam van Koeverden Profile
2022-09-29 11:02 [p.7909]
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Madam Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for the question.
Although I take French lessons three times a week, I will answer in English to ensure my comments are clear.
It is important to have a place, in the House, where we can debate the minutia and the details of the importance of a strong social safety net. That is why I appreciate the high-level question and debate from my hon. member.
We all agree, in the House, that a strong social safety net is really important so people can rely on a pension. It is just disappointing that some members in the House, who, let us confront it, have a really strong pension due to their work here in the House of Commons, would deny Canadians the very same.
I think it is so important that we stand up for Canadians and ensure they all have access to that security.
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View Heather McPherson Profile
NDP (AB)
View Heather McPherson Profile
2022-09-29 11:02 [p.7909]
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Madam Speaker, the parliamentary secretary talked about some of the things that are being done to make life more affordable for Canadians by the government, and I am very proud to say that the NDP played such a large role in dental care and some of these other movements, but one of the things that we have not seen the government move on is support for students.
On November 24, 2020, I brought forward a motion, which was unanimously accepted by the House, to freeze student loan repayments during COVID. That was not put in place.
We have since found that there are almost 70,000 students who have defaulted on their loans in Canada because they were not able to pay them back during COVID. We have some of the supports for some Canadians, and that is great, but I am not done yet. I am not done working for Canadians. I would like to be able to see some support for students.
What would this member bring forward to provide support for students in the coming months?
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View Adam van Koeverden Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Adam van Koeverden Profile
2022-09-29 11:03 [p.7909]
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Madam Speaker, I do want to thank my hon. colleague from Edmonton Strathcona for her work and her tireless advocacy on behalf of students and young people in this country.
In brief, what I will do is make my way over to her side of the chamber and discuss how we can better support students.
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View Xavier Barsalou-Duval Profile
BQ (QC)
Madam Speaker, I will begin by saying I will be sharing my time with the member for Terrebonne, who will definitely be very interesting to listen to.
Before getting into the presentation on our topic today, I think it is important to properly understand the motion. As some have already mentioned, reading it feels like déjà-vu. It feels like we are debating the same topic we did on Tuesday, on the Conservatives' opposition day. They are really stuck on this theme. It is important to them and it does them credit. It remains to be seen how important this is as a position and an idea. We will talk about it some more.
The motion reads as follows:
That, given that the cost of government is driving up inflation, making the price of goods Canadians buy and the interest they pay unaffordable, this House call on the government to commit to no new taxes on gas, groceries, home heating and pay cheques.
I will begin by addressing the elements they do not want a tax hike on, since I believe that that is what they are focusing on. That is what I gleaned from their remarks this week. They accuse the government of raising taxes on groceries, heating and paycheques. What are the facts? When they talk about a tax on gasoline, it is true that there is a carbon tax. Since gasoline produces carbon, there will be an increase in the carbon tax over time. Is this tax appropriate? I think so. Apparently, the Conservatives do not think so. Let us talk about this tax, because I think it is very important. It may even be the central focus of their motion, more than any other tax. In fact, this carbon tax appears to be what bothers them the most. As soon as we mention oil, their hair stands on end.
When it comes to the tax on groceries, I do not follow. They will have to explain what they mean. We will ask them questions later. Perhaps a member of the Conservative Party could explain how the government, with its new policies, is going to raise taxes on groceries. According to my understanding, basic goods at the grocery store are not taxed. The only products that will see a tax hike are, for example, sweets and soft drinks. These are not really basic goods and we do not really want to encourage their consumption. We know that there is a problem with the overconsumption of sugar and fats. Sugar is one of those ingredients whose content we should be trying to limit. I do not know why they should be so upset, given that these are not the most nutritious foods. People who live on sweets and soft drinks are probably very familiar with the health care system.
Then the Conservatives talk about a tax hike on home heating. The last I heard, there was not going to be a tax increase on Quebeckers' Hydro-Québec heating bills. Maybe elsewhere in Canada, but that is the carbon tax we were discussing earlier for people who heat with oil or gas, for example. These people may be affected. However, it is not a tax on home heating. Once again, the Conservatives are playing with words. It is sad to see. It is as if they are trying to say that the government wants to raise taxes on major daily costs, on essential goods. That is the crux of the Conservatives' motion: to portray the government as the bad guy.
Lastly, the Conservatives are talking about paycheques. They say that we will be raising taxes on paycheques. I must admit, they found a good way of saying it. However, I am uncertain about the content of the motion. It is more about form, and there is nothing really convincing about the content.
On Canadians' paycheques, we are talking about a very slight increase, but an increase nonetheless, in EI premiums. Of course, based on what we have seen with past Conservative governments, there would be almost no employment insurance if they were in power today. The Harper government did everything it could to cut employment insurance and tell workers that, if they are out of work, they should move. If memory serves, they had to accept jobs more than 100 kilometres away. Perhaps this was intended to help the oil industry or to empty the regions of Quebec. One thing is clear: the Conservatives missed a great opportunity to defend workers and reform the EI system.
They could have used their opposition day to point out that the temporary EI measures recently expired. Workers have been dealing with the gap in EI for a very long time now, and many people are not covered by the plan. The Conservatives could have said that it is time to talk about what we want to do with the employment insurance plan to better help Canadians now that the special measures have expired.
Based on their record, that is not something the Conservatives, who are calling us out for increasing premiums, would do. Increasing premiums is justified if there is a good reason, for example, enhancing the social safety net. In this case, we know that the rate of EI premiums is set by a commission, based on a seven-year forecast. I have not looked into it in detail but, during the pandemic, the government used the EI fund as a pandemic program so that Canadians could have an income. Helping people is not necessarily a bad thing, but the problem is that they depleted the employment insurance fund. They created huge delays, and the pandemic showed us that the EI program is no longer adequate and that it needs major reforms, which the government has still not done. I would very much like to hear what my Conservative colleagues have to say about that.
I would like to return to the issue of the gas tax we have heard so much about. They are afraid of the tax on gasoline. I understand that some people may be frustrated. When I saw the price of gas exceed $2 a litre in Quebec, I was angry and thought it was outrageous. There were surely people who were profiting from the situation.
In the end, it is the oil companies that are making record profits. They raise the price one day, and raise it again the next. Then they lower the price, and no one really knows why. All we know is that gas prices tend to rise far faster than inflation. It is difficult to understand the underlying reasons for these increases in oil prices.
What I find surprising is that I never heard the Conservatives denounce the practices of the oil companies. I never heard the Conservatives say that they are making absurd profits. However, if we increase the tax on gas by 0.01%, it will be the end of the world. In their way of thinking, the Conservatives believe that, if they lower the tax on gas, the price at the pumps will go down. From personal experience, I can say that is a laugh, I have a feeling that the price will stay about the same and the oil companies will pocket even more. That is what is likely to happen.
These companies are not interested in Canadians’ well-being. They are not trying to improve their living conditions. They are trying to raise the price as much as they can and as high as people are willing to pay to maximize their profits. If taxpayers get to keep more of their income because of a lower tax on gas, the oil companies will surely claw it back. Why would they not take the opportunity to make even more profits?
In fact, it is clear that this entire motion is meant to put a negative spin on the policies they do not like. That is not the real cause of inflation. The inflation problem was caused by a pandemic, by the fact that people stayed home and got money from the government. We had to help them. We did not want them to run out of money. They received money so they could meet their needs. Unfortunately, production stopped because people were at home.
When there is a gap between production and demand, prices rise. It is that simple. We need to help those who are suffering the most, not the oil companies.
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View Francis Scarpaleggia Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Francis Scarpaleggia Profile
2022-09-29 11:14 [p.7910]
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Madam Speaker, I listened carefully to my colleague's speech, which I thought was very clear.
I would like to ask him for some clarification so I can better understand where the Conservatives are coming from. Why does he think the Conservatives are talking about an insurance premium as though it was a tax? I will make a comparison. When I pay my premium—
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
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View Alexandra Mendès Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Alexandra Mendès Profile
2022-09-29 11:15 [p.7911]
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Order.
The hon. member for Lac-Saint-Louis.
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View Francis Scarpaleggia Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Francis Scarpaleggia Profile
2022-09-29 11:15 [p.7911]
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Madam Speaker, my home insurance premiums obviously increase the amount I have to spend on my home. Are we to consider this a tax?
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View Xavier Barsalou-Duval Profile
BQ (QC)
Madam Speaker, my colleague's question is very pertinent.
They are playing with words. I am an accountant and we talked about payroll taxes and social security premiums in my accounting courses. They are playing with words a bit.
Generally speaking, when we talk about a tax, we are not talking about a specific program that will benefit citizens. There are taxes we pay when we purchase goods, and these taxes go into a consolidated fund. There are also income taxes.
However, employment insurance is rather unique, because the fund is not fully arm's length. If it were, that would at least counter this argument.
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View Colin Carrie Profile
CPC (ON)
View Colin Carrie Profile
2022-09-29 11:16 [p.7911]
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Madam Speaker, I want to explain a bit about the carbon tax and the effect it has on people. I do not know if the member has had the opportunity to talk to constituents about the high cost of groceries or about farmers, who actually have to pay more for transportation and more for drying their products with propane, especially in Quebec with the cost going up.
This is a domino effect that affects every single thing people purchase. Unfortunately Canadians are already paying 43% of their money on taxes and only 35% on their housing, groceries and energy. People are in crisis. They cannot afford it. I am talking to constituents who are being evicted because of the high cost of housing. We need to help them. This carbon tax is a punitive tax and it needs to be repealed.
Now that I have explained it, could the member please talk about the people and how they are being affected in his constituency?
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View Xavier Barsalou-Duval Profile
BQ (QC)
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question. He asked me how people are living with the carbon tax in my riding. Perhaps this will explain the reality of my riding.
I must say that no one in my riding talks to me about the carbon tax. The reason is quite simple: This tax does not exist in Quebec.
As for the reality in my colleague's riding, I would encourage him to have another look at his party's long-term policies. The price of gas will continue to go up regardless, and, unfortunately, oil is really bad for the environment.
I hope we will continue to move towards the electrification of vehicles as soon as possible. The government needs to step up the pace. This would help lower oil-related costs in the medium and long term, and perhaps create an economy of the future in which we are the leaders, not the last in line.
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View Lisa Marie Barron Profile
NDP (BC)
View Lisa Marie Barron Profile
2022-09-29 11:18 [p.7911]
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Madam Speaker, here we are again, watching the Conservatives focus on CPP and EI premiums while also working alongside the Liberals to line the pockets of the ultrarich CEOs who are price gouging Canadians trying to keep food on the table.
Does the member agree that we need to start fairly taxing those who are profiting off the backs of Canadians and put that money back into the pockets of those who need it most?
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View Xavier Barsalou-Duval Profile
BQ (QC)
Madam Speaker, I think that my NDP colleague raises a good point.
Some people took advantage of the pandemic to line their pockets, unlike others, who are now tightening their belts. With the current rate of inflation, oil companies are making extraordinary profits. It appears that the banks also made huge profits and that some food industries increased their profit margins. It is not acceptable that these profits be made at the expense of poor people who are struggling to make ends meet.
I very much agree that measures need to be put in place. For example, we need to do more to make sure that those who are taking advantage of the situation are held accountable and made to justify their decisions. Also, as members of Parliament, we should encourage the government to implement tax measures in an effort to limit these types of practices. I am in full agreement with my colleague.
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View Nathalie Sinclair-Desgagné Profile
BQ (QC)
View Nathalie Sinclair-Desgagné Profile
2022-09-29 11:19 [p.7911]
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Madam Speaker, we are here to debate a Conservative motion that is interesting, to say the least. I really want the people who are listening to us today to read and understand the wording of this motion. It is very interesting, and I will explain.
The motion reads as follows:
That, given that the cost of government is driving up inflation, making the price of goods Canadians buy and the interest they pay unaffordable, this House call on the government to commit to no new taxes on gas, groceries, home heating and pay cheques.
This motion is really interesting in that it represents the definition of populism. Populism is using issues that people are rightly concerned about, such as inflation, and proposing bogus solutions to achieve a goal that is not described in this motion. This is simply an attempt to downsize government and prevent it from doing its job while also manipulating people and taking them for a ride to feed their fear of, or concerns about, the carbon tax. I wanted to read it out loud and demonstrate just how little sense this motion makes.
The cure for populism is education. Therefore, I would like to give a lecture similar to the one I would prepare for a college student enrolled in economics 101. I go into much more detail with my master's students.
Economics 101: What is an externality? An externality is when a cost or a societal effect is not included in the price, the price being a market indicator, of a good or a service. This externality is often incurred on goods and services for which there are environmental impacts that have not been quantified or taken into account in the price. The role of the state in these cases is actually to identify the externality and include it in the price.
That is exactly what the government is trying to do with its carbon tax. I will go into a bit more detail on the carbon tax. It is one of the necessary means to address climate change.
Let us go back to basics. What is climate change? I am looking at my friends over there to be sure they understand me clearly. Greenhouse gases, namely methane, CO2, nitrous oxide and ozone, are gases emitted by human beings that have an impact on people through climate change. The effects of climate change have been studied extensively for the past 20 or 30 years. We know all about them now. We can measure their impact on people. A few years ago, I was a co-author of a study on the impact of climate change in Quebec. We know that climate change has real, tangible costs.
First, there are infrastructure costs because of floods and storms. Today our thoughts are with our friends in the Magdalen Islands and eastern Canada that were hit hard by a big storm, hurricane Fiona. Hurricanes are stronger now because climate change intensifies them. Shoreline erosion is also an issue that has a major economic impact.
Then there is the thawing permafrost. When the land thaws, infrastructure built on the ground, such as housing, collapses. Look at what is happening to our first nations friends.
Those are direct, tangible, quantifiable impacts of climate change.
There are also health impacts, including those caused by the emergence of zoonoses. What are zoonoses? They are diseases spread by animals that are vectors for disease, for example Lyme disease or the Nile virus. These diseases came from the south because temperatures are rising. There are also allergies. Our Conservative friends really like to talk about productivity and efficiency. When people have allergies, which are on the rise with climate change, they are less productive at work.
Finally there are heat waves. That is very important. Every year, heat waves cause the deaths of seniors in their homes. The Conservatives constantly talk about seniors. That is real. Older individuals are dying because of climate change and their lives have value.
The cost of these consequences is quantifiable, and it comes out to millions of dollars. Climate change has a cost for society. This cost is not included in the price we pay for gas.
Now that we have addressed the problems, let us talk about solutions. Economists have given us solutions many times. One of them is the carbon tax. Another is the cap-and-trade system for greenhouse gas emission allowances implemented a long time ago in Quebec.
In 2014, Quebec linked its system with California’s. They did not link their system with any other Canadian province, but with California. They had to go south of the border to find people who cared to do something about climate change. That was in 2014, eight years ago. Maybe we were a little ahead of the curve in Quebec. This is not the first time I am saying that, and it will surely not be the last.
Quebec has assumed its responsibility in the fight against climate change. I will give a small but very important example to show how well these measures work. In 2015, Quebec reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 8.8% over 1990 levels. It works. The government must be able to implement measures to fight climate change.
The government needs to take action. Once again, the carbon tax is one of the measures it can use. However, we are happy that it does not apply to Quebec and that we can stay on the right track with the cap-and-trade system for greenhouse gas emission allowances. There are plenty of other means, but it is obvious that tax measures are the best way for a government to change people’s behaviour. That is a well-known fact; there is a lot of literature on the subject. I would be more than happy to send my colleagues a ton of papers. That might help them learn more about this very important topic.
Let us talk about the social cost of carbon. This cost does not reflect the market value of a tonne of carbon. There are now markets like Quebec's cap-and-trade system and the European carbon exchange that set a certain price. The social cost of carbon is higher. The U.S. has estimated the social of carbon at $51 per tonne. A very recent study in the journal Nature suggests that the cost should be roughly $180 per tonne. That is much higher than the estimate currently being used. The carbon tax is a start. It is nothing compared to the real cost of climate change.
The social cost of carbon is very difficult to measure. As I have already said, it can vary widely. Surprisingly, a tonne emitted in China has exactly the same impact as a tonne emitted in Canada. However, it is difficult to establish its value, which is why a range is used. This value is established by models that predict the impacts of climate change today and in the coming years. Everyone agrees that the next few generations are pretty important.
The government has a duty to take climate action. Everyone needs to come to an agreement on this, once and for all. Let us stop using issues like inflation, which concern the public and rightly so, to justify measures that stand in the way of the government taking climate action.
The Bloc Québécois has proposed some real solutions to combat inflation. I gave the example of seniors. The Conservatives go on and on about how much they care about seniors, but they do not have much to say when we propose increasing old age security.
We are also proposing that we build more social housing. The government should be investing 1% of its revenue in social housing.
We have a number of solutions, but one very important one on which we should align with the Conservatives is the free market. Why do we not hear them talk more about protecting and, most importantly, increasing the power of the Competition Bureau? As my colleague mentioned earlier, companies are getting rich at our expense. We must fight oligopolies and monopolies that are artificially making our prices too high.
These are measures that would truly help Quebeckers and Canadians. This is what the Bloc Québécois is proposing, while the Conservative Party proposes bogus solutions.
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View Leah Taylor Roy Profile
Lib. (ON)
Madam Speaker, I have more of a comment than a question. I was very encouraged by the speech the member opposite just gave. I only wish that some of the members opposite me had been listening and that perhaps a few more of them were in the House to support the motion they have put forward because—
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View Alexandra Mendès Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Alexandra Mendès Profile
2022-09-29 11:30 [p.7913]
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The hon. member knows that she cannot mention the presence or absence of members in the House.
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View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
View Garnett Genuis Profile
2022-09-29 11:30 [p.7913]
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I wish her members were in the House.
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View Alexandra Mendès Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Alexandra Mendès Profile
2022-09-29 11:30 [p.7913]
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It goes for both sides. We do not mention presences or absences in the House.
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View Leah Taylor Roy Profile
Lib. (ON)
Madam Speaker, the points the member made were very good. I am very glad to hear her call out the populism and the approaches being taken by the members opposite.
I would like to understand and get your thoughts on this. The new leader of the opposition has worked in the House since he was 24. He has never worked outside of the House. He has built his studies on the teachings of Milton Friedman. You spoke about his lack of consideration and lack of concern for monopolistic behaviour, as well as his emphasizing shareholder values and not worrying about Canadians. I am wondering whether you could comment on that and what influence that might have had.
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View Alexandra Mendès Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Alexandra Mendès Profile
2022-09-29 11:31 [p.7913]
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I would remind the hon. member that she has to ask questions through the Chair.
The hon. member for Terrebonne.
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View Nathalie Sinclair-Desgagné Profile
BQ (QC)
View Nathalie Sinclair-Desgagné Profile
2022-09-29 11:31 [p.7913]
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Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for her comments and question.
I think that, unfortunately, this motion is a bad start. There are many problems we need to address, but where are the solutions? I would like to remind our Conservative Party colleagues that real solutions do exist. Maybe we should be working together a bit more to help Canadians and especially Quebeckers.
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View Marc Dalton Profile
CPC (BC)
View Marc Dalton Profile
2022-09-29 11:31 [p.7913]
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Madam Speaker, I thank my Bloc colleague for her comments.
She talked about populism, but I would like to give her another definition of that term. I believe that populism also means being sensitive to people's needs and anxieties. The government and even experts should be very careful about taking the attitude that they know more than the average person. It is an important consideration.
She talked about the price of carbon. In Vancouver, where I live, the price of gas is almost $2.50 a litre, while in Alberta, it is roughly $1.50 a litre. That is a big difference that is attributable to taxes.
My question is on employment insurance. Premiums are going up by 9% this year, which is not insignificant, especially when there is a multi-billion dollar surplus in the fund. Can the member say a few words about that?
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View Nathalie Sinclair-Desgagné Profile
BQ (QC)
View Nathalie Sinclair-Desgagné Profile
2022-09-29 11:33 [p.7913]
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Madam Speaker, we can all agree on one thing: Alberta should be paying much more.
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View Gord Johns Profile
NDP (BC)
View Gord Johns Profile
2022-09-29 11:33 [p.7913]
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Madam Speaker, we are here on the eve of the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation. I think the House's time could have been better used to talk about the pressing issues facing indigenous peoples, but instead, this is a rerun of the Conservative opposition day we had on Tuesday.
I met with the Canadian Housing and Renewal Association this week. Members from her province were in my office, calling for the creation of a national housing authority designed by and for indigenous people. We know indigenous people have been asking for an urban, rural and northern indigenous housing strategy with sufficient funds to develop it. I am hearing from indigenous elders in my riding. My friend, Nora, is an indigenous elder from Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations. She is living in her car. That is unacceptable.
Does my colleague believe we should be focusing our attention here today on addressing those very important issues?
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View Nathalie Sinclair-Desgagné Profile
BQ (QC)
View Nathalie Sinclair-Desgagné Profile
2022-09-29 11:34 [p.7913]
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Madam Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his question.
These issues are definitely very important. We are concerned about what is happening with first nations too.
In my speech, I talked about how climate change affects homes on first nations reserves that are built on thawing permafrost, on thawing soil.
We should also address other issues, such as building social housing. We have shared our ideas about that. We just want to point out that Quebec has programs like AccèsLogis, which are paid for by the Government of Quebec. The federal government did not provide compensation for those programs for two years, so we had to build social and community housing ourselves. That meant fewer resources available to other people who need them because we did not get critical funding or support from the federal government.
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View Daniel Blaikie Profile
NDP (MB)
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
2022-09-29 11:35 [p.7914]
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Madam Speaker, I will start by saying I intend to split my time with the member for Edmonton Strathcona.
This is the first time I have had occasion to speak in the House since my father, Bill Blaikie, passed away on Saturday. I am hoping there will be time at some point for a more proper and fulsome tribute, but for now I would be remiss if I did not give a big thanks to all of my colleagues, the people in the parliamentary precinct and those beyond.
Canadians across the country have reached out with some really lovely messages about the ways my father's life and work inspired them in their own work. I am very grateful for those messages, as are my mother, Brenda; my sisters, Rebecca, Jessica, and Tessa; and our entire family. I want to thank everyone who has been a part of that.
Of course, it means a lot to us, and it would mean a lot to my dad because he really did love Parliament, with all of its shortcomings, disappointments and faults. That love was borne of a very real belief that it can be a place for positive and constructive dialogue that can bring our country to a better place, if we do it well while we are in this place.
It is in that spirit that I would like to offer some remarks today on the Conservative opposition day motion. There are two things about it that I think need to be called out.
The first has to do with the very proposal in the motion, which is that the emphasis of government right now should be on broad-based tax cuts as a way to fight inflation. Even if the Conservatives are putting this forward in the best of faith, they have it wrong. They have been out there saying for a long time that more money chasing fewer goods leads to more inflation. The fact of the matter is that broad-based tax cuts, as opposed to targeted income support for people who really are on the margins, are not targeted. People on the margins are struggling with choosing whether they are going to put some food item back on the shelf or not, or struggling with homelessness because they lost their place to live or are on the cusp of that, as opposed to some of us who are experiencing discomfort as a result of inflation and maybe having to pass up some things we would really rather like, but that are, at the end of the day, not vital. Providing income support to those people who really are at financial risk is the way to bring Canada through this extraordinary moment of inflationary pressure, which everyone is feeling in some way, shape or form. We have to bring Canada through this in the best possible way, doing the least possible damage to the smallest number of Canadian families.
That is why the NDP believes in doubling the GST rebate. That is why we fought for an increase in payments on the Canada housing benefit. It is why we believe looking to structurally change the cost of things that Canadians cannot do without, such as child care, dental care and prescription drugs, is a better way to combat inflation exactly because it is not doing what the Conservatives say they are concerned about.
We heard at the finance committee yesterday that even the IMF, the International Monetary Fund, of which it is fair to say is by no means understood as a progressive organization, as it has been the chief deregulator and tax-cutter, defunding and cutting the public service for decades, has said that broad-based tax cuts right now are going to fuel inflationary pressures in exactly the way the Conservatives say we must not do. The reason for that is because broad-based tax cuts put more money back into the pockets of the people who need it the least. The more wealthy one is, the more money one already has, and the more one will benefit from broad-based tax relief.
Earlier, a Conservative member talked about students who are living in homeless shelters and single mothers who are worried about ending up homeless. They are not going to benefit in the same way from broad-based tax relief as people living in far richer neighbourhoods, nor will seniors living on low fixed incomes. If those are the people who we want to help, then we need to do that with targeted income supports. That is the way to do it, not only to get more help to the people who need it most, but also to avoid delivering more money into the pockets of people who will use that as disposable income because they already have a fair bit of income.
That is why there is a real difference of approach between the New Democrats on the one hand and the Conservatives on the other. One can tell that I sometimes think the Liberal government feels caught in between, and its recipe would be to do nothing, just watch the debate happen between Conservatives and New Democrats and stand back.
This is why it is important to push, and why I am grateful to Canadians for having elected 25 New Democrats to this Parliament to do that work of pushing. When we first proposed the doubling of the GST rebate, the Liberals said no. That was well over six months ago, and in time and with persistent advocacy by New Democrats in the chamber, and many, many voices in civil society outside the chamber, we were able to get the government to change course.
That is a story of success for Parliament. That is a story of the Parliament Canadians elected doing the work they want us to do. Sometimes it is messy, and it is not always pretty or fun to watch, but there is a job getting done here, and it is because of the wisdom of Canadians in electing a minority Parliament with strong voices on many sides of the House that we are able to move forward.
The second thing I want to call out about this motion, which is a pet peeve of mine, and we heard it a bit before already today, is talking about increases in EI premiums and the CPP as though they were a payroll tax. If it were just a matter of arguing about words, then it would not matter. I do not care that accountants call EI premiums and CPP payroll taxes. If that is what they want to do within their profession for ease of accounting, that is fine by me.
When politicians start to talk about fighting payroll tax increases as a euphemism for fighting against properly funding our employment insurance system, I have a problem with it. When politicians use lowering payroll taxes as a euphemism for fighting against Canadians' pensions and denying increases in Canadians' pensions, especially when they are talking out the other side of their mouths about how much they care about seniors on fixed incomes, I have a problem with it. That is a major problem with this motion and what we have been hearing from the Conservatives today.
People are experiencing homelessness now who were not a couple of years ago and who are continuing to struggle with the difficulties of the economy we are in. There are a lot of jobs available in certain sectors of the economy, but it is still a difficult employment situation for other parts of the economy. There are people who are trained for those parts and have experience in parts of the economy that are still struggling, including tourism and hospitality, for instance. Those are industries struggling in various ways.
The hospitality sector is coming back, but if the employer is only willing to offer three three-hour shifts, the help-wanted sign in the window does not mean what a lot of Canadians think it means. It does not mean a full-time, well-paying, family-supporting job on the other end of that help-wanted sign.
Yes, we need to rebuild the EI system. We know that. We knew that before we went into the pandemic. All the more is the shame on the government for having reverted to the prepandemic employment insurance rules on September 24 without having a solve and without revealing the details of these consultations it has been doing, or having a better system in place in the first place. Employment insurance was leaving far too many people behind before the pandemic. We all know that.
We all know it needed to change, yet here we are moving away from the temporary rules of the pandemic, which were not perfect but were certainly better than what we had before, and we have gone back. Yes, EI premiums, after having been frozen during the pandemic, are eventually going to go up. That is part and parcel of providing insurance so people do not lose their homes when they lose their jobs in difficult economic circumstances.
A party that really had the backs of working people would understand that and not try to cover over its opposition to a proper EI system with euphemisms such as lower payroll taxes. The same is true of the Canada pension plan. We are at a point where the Canada pension plan finally is going to have another tranche for workers down the road. They are going to start to have to pay into that, as will employers. That is part of building better public pensions, so fewer Conservative politicians and others in the future will stand up to say how sad they are that seniors do not have a proper income. That is what is wrong with what is going on here.
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View Rechie Valdez Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Rechie Valdez Profile
2022-09-29 11:45 [p.7915]
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Madam Speaker, our government is working to put money back in the pockets of Canadians, as the member mentioned, by doubling the GST tax credit. Our government has supported businesses and Canadians through the pandemic and has helped Canadian families with affordable child care.
Does my colleague believe that this motion demonstrates a concrete plan to make life more affordable for Canadians?
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