Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Lethbridge.
Since today is Vaisakhi, I want to start by wishing all Sikhs across Canada and around the world a very happy Vaisakhi. This is an opportunity to recognize the generations of Sikhs who have contributed to building this great nation, Sikhs who today are on the front lines fighting this pandemic, Sikhs serving in Canada’s military and Sikhs who continue to support their fellow Canadian through Seva or a duty of selfless service.
[Member spoke in Punjab]
I am honoured to rise in the House today to debate Bill C-14 on behalf of my constituents of Edmonton Mill Woods.
The bill has some aspects with which we agree. It would provide more support to those who need it during this pandemic and it would top up the Canada child benefit, which was in the platform of the leader of the Conservative Party. The bill would also fix the gaps in the second version of the rent relief legislation, a mistake that could have been prevented if we were afforded more time to properly examine the bill before it was rushed through the first time.
Throughout this pandemic, the Conservatives have proudly supported programs to help Canadians who have been the hardest hit. However, I do have concerns surrounding the increased debt with which we will be saddling our children's future. The last part of the bill would amend the Borrowing Authority Act to significantly increase the borrowing limit of the federal government, which I cannot support.
One of the things I have been hearing the most from my constituents throughout this pandemic is their concern about the state of Canada's economy and the impact COVID-19 spending has had on our federal deficit. The parliamentary budget officer estimates the government ran a deficit of about $363.4 billion in the 2020-21 fiscal year and will be running another massive deficit this year.
How will the government pay for all of this stimulus spending? The answer is found in part 7 of the bill where the government would raise the upper limit on the borrowing authority by 56.8%, from $1.1 trillion to $1.8 trillion. However, $700 billion is far beyond what the government needs to fund all the emergency programs, the stimulus and even additional spending promises. This is another $700 billion that will be left to our children and future generations to pay.
Spending to protect and support Canadians who have been hit hard by this pandemic was the right thing to do, and the Conservatives supported it, but we cannot pass unsustainable debt on to future generations.
I would ask members to apply this scenario to real life. If I went home to my wife tonight and said that I was going to ask the bank tomorrow to increase our credit limit by 56%, she would probably want to know why, and my bank would want some type of plan as to how I would repay it. However, the Liberal government is asking us, as MPs, and the bank of the Canadian taxpayer to trust it with another $700 billion without a plan. That is completely backward. We need to see a plan for the spending.
It is worth noting that the $700 billion increase in the maximum borrowing limit that the bill proposes is vastly beyond what is needed for all the emergency programs and stimulus suggested to date. This leaves the question: To which ineffective pet projects is this money really going to? Perhaps this provides the leeway needed for the universal basic income program, or the UBI program, that the Liberals passed at their convention this past weekend, a big step toward their plan of reimagining Canada's economy. This would require the Liberals to increase personal income taxes by almost 50% and triple the GST. The simple fact is that this kind of risky and unknown experiment will leave millions more Canadians behind.
The reason we are in this position of borrowing more money is because of the Liberal's mismanagement and failures during this pandemic over this last year.
Right now Americans are seeing businesses open, restaurant patios busy and fans returning to watch in-person NHL, NBA and MLB games. Canadians on the other hand are seeing businesses close again, workers losing their jobs again or having their hours cut again, and the mental health crisis continues to drag on. That is the real-world result of the Liberals’ failures during this pandemic, especially on vaccines.
We should be focused on a plan to secure jobs and get our country back to work. On this side of the House, we know that every Canadian deserves the security and dignity that comes with a secure, stable and well-paying job. We know our economic recovery should create opportunity in all sectors of the economy and all parts of the country, not just in areas where the Liberals find political success in sectors they support or by giving handouts to politically powerful corporations with inside access to the Prime Minister’s Office. We know that only paycheques will reduce Canada’s debt, put food on Canadian’s tables, roofs over their heads and tax dollars into schools, hospitals and roads.
That is the reality of this and it is the crossroads about which our Conservative leader has talked. The two paths before us could not be more different. One veers off into the unknown, with more risky shutdowns and unfunded, unknown and untested changes that will leave millions more Canadians behind.
The other is a path of the Liberals' reimagined economy, where an Ottawa-knows-best approach picks and chooses which jobs Canadians should have and in what sector or region. It is a path where the connected few get richer while working families get left behind; a path where the budget does not balance itself but where sky-high deficits and burdensome debt will have to be paid for by some means of new income for the government, meaning higher taxes and possibly taxing the capital gains on personal property, as some Liberals have proposed.
Our Conservative team is offering a path of security and certainty that will safely secure our future and deliver us to a Canada where those who have struggled the most throughout this pandemic get back to work. It offers a Canada where manufacturing at home is bolstered, where wages go up and where the dream so many Canadian families have of affording a better life with their children can be realized.
Bill C-14 would increase the upper limit on the borrowing authority by $700 billion without a plan. The Liberal government has no plan for that spending, no plan for Canada's economic recovery and no fiscal anchor to keep our country's finances afloat. Again, while I agree with some parts of the bill that would directly help those who are struggling throughout this pandemic, I simply cannot be in favour of increasing the government’s credit card limit by 60%, especially without a plan for the spending.