Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure today to join you from the confines of my office in Saskatoon to speak about the budget implementation act.
Canadians have spent the last year and a half struggling under the weight of the COVID-19 pandemic. When COVID reached Canada's shores early last year, millions of Canadians lost their jobs. Those working in retail and service industries, anyone working in a restaurant and workers in a variety of other sectors were simply told to go home. Countless small businesses had to close their doors and families were forced to completely redesign how they lived their lives.
Life has become harder, less affordable and all around more difficult. Our economy is in a bad state. Our annual inflation rate right now is rising at its fastest pace in a decade. Soaring house prices are stoking fears of a cost of living crisis. The federal deficit is flying past historical levels and the national debt is growing at a record pace, having now exceeded $1 trillion for the first time in our history.
Canadians are well aware of the situation we are in today. According to the Nanos poll, 74% of Canadians, or three out of every four Canadians, are very worried about the size of the deficit. That is not just Conservative voters or conservative-minded Canadians. This represents concerns from voters across the spectrum that deficit spending is out of control.
I have heard those concerns in my riding in Saskatoon—Grasswood. When I asked my constituents about their top concerns, where and what they wanted to see in the recent budget of 2021, there were a few answers I heard over and over again. I heard from my constituents that a plan to get the deficit under control was the top priority. My constituents are also concerned about jobs and economic opportunities. A plan to deliver jobs and economic opportunities needs to be front and centre moving on.
Then I heard the same thing I have heard every year since the Liberal government came to power in 2015. Taxes are simply too high. Families, businesses, seniors, everyone needs relief as the cost of living just keeps going up and up. Unfortunately, when the Deputy Prime Minister finally presented her budget, 763 days between budgets, people were left very disappointed. The simple fact is that the federal budget of 2021 does nothing at all to secure long-term prosperity for Canadians.
In the 700 pages of the budget, there was little that gave Canadians the assurance that their federal government was focused on creating new jobs and economic opportunity. First, there was no plan to get our economy reopened, which would be the number one driver of job growth and economic opportunity.
While the provincial governments have begun to announce their plans, timelines and criteria to get their provinces reopened, we have heard nothing of this sort from the federal government with regard to industries and regulations within the federal jurisdiction.
Then there was the size of the deficit, which at $154 billion this year is astoundingly high. Save last year, this is by far the largest budget deficit that Canadians have seen in decades, and for what? It is in the analysis of the budget. The Parliamentary Budget Officer noted that a significant amount of spending in the budget would not stimulate jobs or create economic growth. The PBO also raised concerns that the amount of deficit created was above and beyond what was actually needed to get the economy rolling ahead.
What does this tell us? It tells us that the Prime Minister's so-called stimulus fund is more about spending on Liberal partisan priorities than creating jobs and growing the economic. What are the Liberals going to give struggling Canadians and their families for relief? In a word, nothing.
In fact, the Prime Minister announced he would be moving forward with a far greater increase in the carbon tax than he indicated in the past. Despite calls for a halt on the carbon tax to provide much-needed relief at this time, the Liberals have not only pressed forward with their planned increases, but have now also announced that, throughout this economic recovery that will be taking place over the next few years, they plan to continue to increase it by well over 300%. That is 300%.
At a time when more Canadians are struggling to make ends meet than at any time in recent memory, and when more small businesses are being forced to permanently close their doors, the Liberals have decided the best bet is to further raise the tax burden on Canadian workers and their businesses. I hear this every day in my constituency office.
As well, at a time when millions of Canadian and their families are struggling due to lost wages and a skyrocketing cost of living, the Prime Minister has announced a massive increase to the carbon tax be tacked on just to add further burden. In truth, the Liberals' approach actually dumbfounds me and my constituents of Saskatoon—Grasswood.
Let us get to the facts. Let us get to what we should be seeing and what should be the top priorities of the government. That is something we are not seeing at all out west. First and foremost, we need to be focused on getting our economy reopened. Many countries around the world are beginning their reopening. We can just look south to the United States, where businesses are open right now. Sports stadiums are filled and people are returning to work each and every day.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the U.S. has even released guidelines that individuals who are fully vaccinated can safely resume their pre-pandemic activities and no longer need to wear masks. That is hard to believe because Canada is so far behind that we are still in lockdown in many places in this country. Why is that? It is because the federal government has totally failed in acquiring the vaccines necessary to get us there.
In Israel, nearly 60% of people are fully vaccinated. In the United States, it is 40%, and in the United Kingdom it is approximately 35%. In Canada, 4.5% of Canadians are fully vaccinated. Pretty much the entirety of the European Union is ahead of us, as are Brazil, Chile, Mongolia and several other countries.
As has been the case for months, the Liberals have given Canadians no realistic indication on how they are going to get us there and when. Instead, they tried to shift the blame onto the provinces for the failures of the Prime Minister.
Alongside a plan to get Canadians vaccinated, we need to see a plan to create jobs in this country, an economic opportunity now and going forward into the recovery. We need to see programs that will spur innovation and encourage investment in this country, programs that will result in better wages for Canadian workers and help struggling small businesses get back onto their feet.
To accompany such programs, Canadians need relief and they need it now. They need to see that their government recognizes they are struggling right now. They need a lower tax burden, not a higher one. We also need to see a plan to get the economy and the budget under control.
We know the reality is that structural deficits, such as those the Liberals have created, result in long-term economic problems and a grim future for our children and grandchildren.
For all these reason I have outlined here today, I simply cannot support this budget.