Madam Speaker, it is always a privilege to rise to speak on behalf of the people of northern Saskatchewan. Debates such as this on Bill C-47 are good opportunities for members of Parliament to bring their own unique backgrounds and perspectives to the House. As a former accountant and mayor, members can imagine that I have dealt with a few budgets and many numbers in my day. I want to spend the first few minutes tonight talking about a few of these numbers, some very big numbers.
In 2015, when the Liberals were first elected, Canada's national debt was $612 billion. This budget projects Canada's debt to be $1.22 trillion by next March, which is $81,000 per Canadian household, and it will reach $1.3 trillion by 2028. A simple fact is that the Prime Minister has accumulated more debt in eight years than all of Canada's previous prime ministers combined.
How did we get here? In 2015, the total expenditures of the government were $280 billion. This budget again calls for billions of dollars in new spending. The Prime Minister simply cannot help himself. This past year, total expenditures were $480 billion, and this budget projects to start at $497 billion and rise to $557 billion by 2027-28. That is an average of $526 billion in each of the next five years. That is also $246 billion per year or 88% greater than expenditures were in 2015.
If this is what the finance minister meant when she said, “we will review and reduce government spending, because that is the responsible thing to do”, I would hate to see what the irresponsible thing looks like.
I have a couple more numbers. Canada will have accumulated over $700 billion of new debt under the Prime Minister by 2028. As projected, the cost of interest on that debt will rise to over $50 billion per year. That is more than a 100% increase over 2021 and 2022, and it would then become about 10% of the total expenditures of the government. If I had run my accounting practice for the little City of Meadow Lake the way the Liberal government has run Canada's finances, I would have been out of business and run out of office.
Let us consider some promises made in 2015. First, the Liberal Party said it would run small deficits and return Canada's finances back to balance in 2019. I hate to break it to the members opposite, but not only did the Prime Minister overspend this promise by about $700 billion, but the budget was never balanced and there is no plan to ever balance it. It is no wonder that record numbers of Canadians no longer trust their government institutions.
Second, the finance minister talked a lot about the declining debt-to-GDP ratio. This was her fiscal anchor. She said, “This is a line we shall not cross. It will ensure that our finances remain sustainable.” That sounds like another promise. I hate to once again break it to colleagues opposite, but the debt-to-GDP ratio has risen every year since the government was first elected in 2015 and is projected to rise again in the coming year. When the Prime Minister and finance minister make promises about debt and deficits, forgive me if I do not hold my breath.
Sometimes one must invest in things to be successful, so it is important to measure what one gets in return for choosing debt and increasing spending. Let us consider the state of Canada after eight years of out-of-control Liberal spending and inflationary deficits. Food price inflation is at a 40-year high. Nearly half of Canadians feel they are less than $200 from insolvency. One in five Canadians is skipping meals to reduce the cost of food, and 1.5 million people used food banks in a single month. The average cost of housing, both to rent and purchase, has doubled since 2015. This is the record of the Liberal government and the measures it is proposing in budget 2023 will, in fact, make the situation worse for Canadians by pouring another $67 billion of new deficit spending fuel on the flames of inflation.
I am very proud of coming from northern Saskatchewan. I believe it is an area that is a very good benchmark to measure how Canada's economy is performing. It is a region that has many important sectors of our economy: mining, forestry, agriculture, oil and gas, tourism, etc. It is also home to a unique cross-section of communities and people, communities and people that, frankly, should be thriving. Instead, everywhere I visit when I go home, people speak about how frustrated and desperate they are with the current economic situation.
Municipalities are struggling. The cost of much-needed infrastructure projects has ballooned over the last few years. Whether it be upgrading a sewer line, building a recreation complex or improving a street, community leaders are being tasked to do more with less. The result is that not only do they have to do the heavy lifting for their people, but the conditions under which they are operating keep getting worse due to the economic policies of the NDP-Liberal coalition.
These same policies are negatively impacting small businesses in northern Saskatchewan. This winter, I was talking to a business owner. He supplies people living in remote and rural communities with home heating fuel. He described to me the difficult position he was in due to the rising cost of this home heating fuel. His customers were either being forced to buy very small amounts, or they were pleading with him to extend credit until they could pay. They were having to choose between feeding their families or living without heat in the middle of a northern Saskatchewan winter, and he was having to choose between possibly losing money or seeing these families live without heat. That is the choice that this small business owner was facing because of the NDP-Liberal coalition nightmare.
Small business owners are also continually telling me how the carbon tax disproportionately affects rural and remote areas like northern Saskatchewan. This is becoming a very serious situation for them. Not only are they dealing with a labour shortage crisis, but due to the rising carbon tax they are forced to increase prices. Now the costly coalition is adding a second carbon tax that will ultimately add 61¢ per litre to the cost of fuel.
Everything, everywhere in northern Saskatchewan must be trucked. There is no other option. According to the Parliamentary Budget Officer, this will cost the average household in Saskatchewan $2,840 per year. Increasing taxes at a time when people are struggling to get by is not a recipe for economic success. Is it any wonder that the people I talk to are fed up?
That anger can also be felt when I talk to farmers back home. The government members seem to forget that agriculture is the economic backbone of Canada. A stabilizing sector and one that provides the food we all rely on deserves better from its government. Let us imagine being the Minister of Agriculture in Canada and voting against Bill C-234, a bill that would give farmers carbon tax exemptions to produce the food we need. If the minister will not stand up at the cabinet table for farmers, who will?
Let us face it. When it comes to agriculture, these Liberals have become the living definition of biting the hand that feeds them. In a country that feeds the world, Canada is now a place where people cannot afford food. For many people in northern Saskatchewan who were already struggling with the increased cost of living, the skyrocketing price of food has become a crisis.
“This isn't working” are the words of a food bank chair from northern Saskatchewan, who adds, “Everything is increasing—gas, rent, food, heat.... I just don’t know how people are supposed to manage.” The food bank's monthly food budget is $5,000, and it now provides half the number of food hampers that it did just three years ago. The Liberals' mismanagement of the economy, assisted by their NDP enablers, has created conditions that directly harm the most vulnerable in our communities the most.
All of this is while the people from northern Saskatchewan and Canada have a Prime Minister who spends $6,000 a night on a hotel in London, but would not admit to it for months and still takes no responsibility; a Prime Minister who vacations in Jamaica at a luxurious estate of Trudeau Foundation donors; a Prime Minister who spends $8,000 a month on groceries; a Prime Minister who is embroiled in a foreign election interference scandal and uses Trudeau Foundation members and friends to investigate; a Prime Minister who named an interim Ethics Commissioner who is the sister-in-law to a cabinet minister, who is also a long-time family friend, to replace the former commissioner who grew so frustrated by the continued Liberal ethical lapses that he finally walked away. This is not leadership by any measure at any time in our history.
Budget 2023 is not an economic document. It is the political document of a government led by a Prime Minister who has chosen power over principle.