The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-29, A second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 22, 2016 and other measures, be read the second time and referred to a committee, of the amendment and of the amendment to the amendment.
Mr. Bev Shipley (Lambton—Kent—Middlesex, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, indeed it is always good to stand in this place, particularly after the bit of confusion that we just went through in the voting. I can say that with Bill C-29, the budget implementation act, there is no confusion; it is actually a train wreck. It should not be called an implementation bill. It maybe should be referred to as a renovation bill, because when something is as disastrously wrong in the economy of this country as it is now, it takes not only severe renovations but also a change of culture within a government.
The riding of Lambton—Kent—Middlesex is in southwestern Ontario, and is very much a rural riding made up of small and medium-sized businesses. Quite honestly, in the riding I do not have a large business. We are made up of hard-working, middle-income folks and families who get up every day and go to work. They are strong entrepreneurs who generate wealth and employment, something that is hard to find in this budget. These folks in my riding actually stimulate jobs. That is because they have endured some hard times but have been able to buckle down and survive, up until some of these proposals in this budget.
Something that rang strong in a riding like mine and those across this country was the talk in the campaign by the Liberals about what they were going to do. Actually, the Liberals did not talk about what they were going to do, but actually made promises.
We were in the riding last week during Legion Week as we celebrated and thanked our veterans across this great country of Canada. We thanked the veterans who are alive, but we also recognized with our hearts the work and the commitment of those who gave their lives so we could be in a place like this and be able to have free discussion about topics that are important to Canadians. We celebrated Legion Week and thanked those who gave their lives for us in this great country and the veterans who were there. We always comment on and commend those who are in uniform, who stand up for us not only in our great nation of Canada but also abroad in many countries.
However, when the government breaks that promise, as the current government has done in so many ways, it takes a bit of the heart out of people. The broken promises did not happen three or four years after the election; they happened within days and weeks of the government being sworn in. It takes away the credibility not only of the government but, quite honestly, of all of us who are elected people, because people say they just do not trust any elected people. That is very unfortunate. Let me just say a bit about what happened with the breaking of promises and why that was so detrimental to people in my riding and, I am sure, across the country.
In the election campaign, the current Prime Minister talked about a teeny-weeny modest deficit that the Liberal government was going to hand to Canadians. They said it would be a $10 billion deficit. We have heard that time and again. Not within a year but within weeks, the $10 billion escalated to $30 billion.
That is 300% or three times what the projection was. When we talk about billions of dollars, ordinary Canadians really do not wrap their heads around what a billion dollars is, but they can wrap their head around what it actually means.
Let me give a little example of what it means, because this is what happens when the Liberals do not do what they say they will do and expect ordinary Canadians to believe them and then understand that when they break the promise, it does not mean much. That is really what the Liberals want us to think.
A small business guy goes into the bank with a proposal and a business plan that goes with it. He tells the bank or the lending institution that this is his business plan, that he needs a million dollars, that this is how he will bring it forward and this is how he will pay it back. His business plan talks about the growth. He thought about it. In six weeks he went back to the bank and tells the banker that he still has the same business plan and the sort deficit projection that I just mentioned, so that he needs not $1 million, but $3 million now.
I do not know if anyone on that side has ever had a business. Maybe no one on that side has had to put together a business plan and then take it to a financial institution. However, if an individual from a small business did what I just described, and it could have been any business in my riding, the banker would show them the door.
The difference is that the banker cannot show the government the door today, because the taxpayers are the lenders. Maybe in four years they will be able to show them the door. The Liberals promised they would cut taxes for small business. No, they never want to lose a revenue source from a tax.
The other promise was to make the tax plan revenue neutral, with the Liberals taking from the top earning rich and giving it to the poor, the lower income group. That was supposed to be revenue neutral. It took about three weeks to discover it was not revenue neutral. It was actually about a $2 billion hit to the taxpayers of Canada.
My point is that the government right now has absolutely no credibility. It now has a debt that is escalating. The Liberals have no plan for how they will pay it back. When the Prime Minister was asked when he would balance the budget, as was the Minister of Finance in question period today, they actually did not know. The Prime Minister indicated earlier that he did not know what the deficit would be.
I say to Canadians and to small business people and their families that we have a serious concern. We have a growing deficit and a debt that has escalated to what some say will cost us another $5 billion a year in interest payments. Where I come from, when we are in a hole, it is best to quit digging
However, I get the sense that is not the culture of the Liberal Party. They are on a glorious trip of big deficits, thinking they will just spend their way out of debt. I do not know where that has worked. From a business perspective, it just does not work.
I see that I am at the end of my time and I will be more than glad to take questions, but I am just concerned that with this budget the Liberals have betrayed Canadians and have broken their promises to them. This budget implementation act, unfortunately, will not be supported by me or my party.
Mr. Ken McDonald (Avalon, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to stand and speak on Bill C-29, a second act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 22, 2016, and other measures.
I am delighted to stand in this House and discuss a budget that provides much-needed help for the middle class and builds upon a strong economy. As we all know, when middle-class Canadians have more money to save, invest, and grow the economy, everyone in this country will benefit.
A strengthened middle class means that hard-working Canadians can look forward to a good standard of living and better prospects for their kids. When we have an economy that works for the middle class, we have a country that works for everyone.
We must do for our kids and grandkids what our parents and grandparents did for us. For example, we are giving Canadian families more help with the high cost of raising children. Our government has introduced a new Canada child benefit that is simpler, tax free, and more generous. The Canada child benefit will replace existing federal child benefits. With the CCB, nine out of 10 Canadian families will receive higher monthly benefits, and hundreds of thousands of children will be lifted out of poverty.
In my home province of Newfoundland and Labrador, families will receive, over a two-year investment, some $112 million under the new CCB. This new investment will enable families and single parents to better provide for the day-to-day needs of their children.
After a decade of being abandoned by the former federal government and the administrative neglect of a provincial Conservative government, I am pleased to now work on behalf of all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to deliver huge benefits for our province.
For example, we were able to assist Newfoundland and Labrador with a $31-million stabilization fund, $68.2 million for small craft harbours, almost $110 million to Memorial University, and an additional $2.9-billion loan guarantee for Muskrat Falls. This does not include over $235 million for municipal infrastructure projects, and a further $78 million of Parks Canada investment in Newfoundland and Labrador.
With the new co-operative approach between the federal and provincial government, we are delivering more solid investments to our province. In addition, we are also looking after those working Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, and all working Canadians, to better prepare them now for a much more secure retirement in the future.
As such, I am delighted that as a government we are proposing strategic and innovative changes to the Canada pension plan. Some of the things we are doing that will provide a more secure and stable retirement for hard-working Canadians include: increasing the amount of retirement pension, and also, very important to me, increasing survivor and disability pensions, and the post-retirement benefit, subject to the amount of additional contributions made and the number of years over which those contributions are made; increasing the maximum level of pensionable earnings by 14% as of 2025; providing for the making of additional contributions beginning in 2019; providing for the creation of the additional Canada pension plan account, and the accounting of funds in relation to it; including the additional contributions and increasing benefits in the financial review provisions of the act; and authorizing the Governor in Council to make regulations in relation to those provisions.
I am very proud to be working on behalf of my constituents, in the great riding of Avalon and to be part of a government that believes every Canadian deserves a secure and dignified retirement after a lifetime of hard work. In addition, I am pleased to speak from a very personal perspective regarding the current benefits of the Canada pension plan.
In early 2000, I lost my wife after a lengthy and courageous battle with cancer. At the age of 40 years, I accepted the responsibility of raising my young son to ensure his well-being and provide for an education that would help secure his future. After sitting here and listening to some of the hon. members opposite, it perturbs me that they use information that distorts the unfounded negativities of the real and true benefits of the Canada pension plan.
We have heard members opposite negligently throw out numbers and facts and state that 20% of Canadians do not benefit from their investments in the Canada pension plan because there is no one left to receive the survivor benefit. I do not believe this represents the true facts, and I do not think it is useful to this debate.
Furthermore, members opposite have stated that individuals are investing hundreds of thousands of dollars in the Canada pension plan and receiving a mere $2,500 payout. Once again, these statements by members are unfortunate and do nothing to provide an informative and factual debate in the House. The Canada pension plan and retirement is important to so many Canadians and we need to make strategic decisions that will provide enhanced future benefits.
From my personal experience, while the benefit is not large, as my wife died at the young age of 37, I have been receiving survivor benefits since my wife's passing in 2000. In addition, my son was receiving a monthly contribution from Canada pension during his high school and post-secondary education. Unlike what members opposite would want us to believe, the benefit was certainly a financial help to my son and me.
We all know that today middle-class Canadians are working harder than ever, but many are worried that they will not have put enough money away for their retirement. Each year fewer and fewer Canadians have workplace pensions to fall back on. As a responsible government with a commitment to strengthen and grow the middle class, we made a commitment to Canadians to strengthen the CPP in order to help them achieve their goal for a strong, secure, and stable retirement. Now we are making meaningful changes to the CPP that will allow Canadians to retire with more money in their pockets.
Every Canadian deserves a secure and dignified retirement after a lifetime of hard work and we have taken a powerful step to make that happen. When our finance minister and his provincial counterparts first started to discuss the future of pensions, it was a real opportunity for them to seize on a renewed spirit of collaboration and to get things done. The deal would boost how much each Canadian will get from their pension from one-quarter of their earnings now to fully one-third. Simply put, there will be more money waiting for Canadians when they retire. To make sure these changes are affordable, we will phase them in slowly over seven years from 2019 to 2025, so that the impact is small and gradual. The revisions are designed to help Canadians in every step of their lives, our grandparents, parents, and children.
Retired Canadians deserve to enjoy their freedom. No retired Canadian should have to worry about selling their home or getting a part-time job. The increases to CPP contribution rates are being gradually phased in starting in 2019. This is the responsible thing to do to make sure business and workers have time to adjust to the additional contributions associated with the enhanced program. The Government of Canada will enhance the working income tax benefit to offset the incremental CPP contributions of eligible low-income workers and provide tax deductibility for the enhanced portion of employee CPP contributions.
As stated earlier, the government has already taken action to support families by introducing the Canada child benefit to help families with the high cost of raising their kids. We cut taxes for the middle class, and now we have expanded the retirement benefits through a strengthened CPP. We have also helped our seniors by increasing the guaranteed income supplement top-up benefit by up to $947 annually for the most vulnerable single seniors. We know this will improve the financial security of about 900,000 single seniors across Canada. We also restored the eligibility age for old age security and guaranteed income supplement benefits to age 65.
As I conclude my remarks on Bill C-29, I believe it is more important than ever that we be responsible to the needs of our constituents, that we do what we can to continue growing the middle class, enhance family benefits, and secure an enhanced retirement program for working Canadians.
Mr. Michael Levitt (York Centre, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak on Bill C-29, an act to implement provisions of budget 2016.
I would like to focus on my riding of York Centre, the wonderful and diverse community I represent, and how measures in the budget implemented by this bill are helping the middle class in my riding.
I am a firm believer in engaging with constituents, not just at election time but between elections, and hearing about what matters to them so I can bring their priorities and concerns to this House and represent them fully. Just this past weekend, I held what I call “coffee with your MP” in my riding. The idea is that I sit in four coffee shops for an our each and invite members of the community to come and meet with me to talk about their concerns. It is a wonderful way to directly engage with my constituents and to also support local small businesses.
Each day I meet and talk to people from York Centre and beyond, and they tell me how positive they are feeling about this government's actions so far. I talk to parents of young children who now have the support they need to make ends meet. The Canada child benefit introduced in this budget, the benefits that would be indexed to inflation by this bill, is a revolutionary program to help the middle class and those working hard to join it.
I have met far too many families who constantly struggle to keep up with expenses. These are single mothers who face the challenge of supporting their children on a single income, and parents who face stagnant wages as the cost of raising their families increases. This is why the government introduced the new Canada child benefit. It is to give Canadian families more help with the high cost of raising children.
The Canada child benefit is simpler. Most families receive a single payment every month, tax free. Families do not have to pay taxes on payments. It is better targeted to those who need it most. Low and middle-income families get higher payments, and those with the highest incomes receive less than under the previous system.
It is also much more generous. Families benefiting will see an average increase of almost $2,300 in the 2016-17 benefit year. With the Canada child benefit, nine out of 10 Canadian families are receiving higher monthly benefits, and hundreds of thousands of children are being lifted out of poverty. To ensure that benefits match the cost of living, these benefits will be indexed. I cannot stress enough how important this investment is for the middle class of Canada and particularly for my riding of York Centre.
An incredible number of young families make York Centre their home and raise their children there, but as our community grows, our infrastructure has to grow and adapt with it. As I talk to my constituents, many of the concerns they raise relate to how their neighbourhoods are affected by aging infrastructure and how to adapt to growing density in their area. They are concerned about transit, about being able to get to work on time and about getting home at a reasonable hour.
It is unreasonable for someone who lives in York Centre and works in downtown Toronto to have a two-hour commute, when it should take less than 45 minutes. It is unreasonable to wait in traffic for an hour to move half a kilometre. This is not hyperbole. It is the daily reality faced by too many of my constituents.
On Dufferin Street at Finch Avenue, thoroughfares in York Centre, there is near constant gridlock. Residents in my riding waiting for a bus can wait for almost an hour to find one they can board. Residents suffer, businesses suffer, and our economy suffers because of these harsh realities. This intersection is also listed every year near the top in the annual CAA worst road for driving survey, another manifestation of our crumbling infrastructure.
There is a consensus that investing in infrastructure is the right thing to do, which is yet another reason I am proud of this government's investment in our country's infrastructure.
When we invest in our country and our communities, we are not just helping Canadians now but are investing in greater economic growth for the long term. The benefits will be felt by our children and by our children's children.
Budget 2016 is committed to doubling infrastructure investments over the next 10 years, including dedicated funding for public transit. We are working in partnership with all three levels of government to build rapid transit that will benefit communities for years to come.
What does this look like? In York Centre, we are seeing investments in transit across the board. The Spadina subway, which ends in my riding at Downsview, is being extended with federal funding, and we can expect it to open next year. This is just the beginning. The ambitious 10-year infrastructure investment presented by the government is a bold plan that will spur growth and help this country and York Centre get moving again.
It is not just transit. Community infrastructure and investments in affordable housing will help make our cities and communities more livable and more affordable.
York Centre has an aging stock of affordable housing, and families are deeply affected by the lack of availability. There is a 97,000-family wait list for Toronto community housing. As our population ages, we are facing shortages of affordable housing that meets seniors' needs as well.
I hear these concerns nearly every day from constituents concerned about being able to afford retirement, both those looking to retire and those who are currently retired. They worry about being able to stay in their homes. That is why I am pleased that budget 2016 is investing $2.3 billion over two years to give Canadians greater access to more affordable housing.
Far more than just bricks and mortar, infrastructure is a key driver of any community's social development. That is why the government recognizes that investing in infrastructure is essential to equipping municipalities with the building blocks they need to support a high standard of living for all Canadians.
Investing in public infrastructure is about creating good, well-paying jobs. It is about protecting the environment and improving public health. It is about developing recreational and cultural centres where people can enrich their lives and strengthen community ties.
I was privileged to announce back in June funding for the Jewish community centre's new campus in York Centre. This investment will lead to an incredible number of community resources being made available to young families, students, and seniors: fitness and recreation programs and facilities, health and wellness programs, arts and culture, and early child education. Healthy, active, well-connected communities are happier communities, and this investment will make a real difference in the lives of those who live and work in York Centre and North Toronto.
On a personal note, when I first moved here from Scotland as a teenager, my mother and I frequented the Bathurst Jewish Community Centre where this expansion is taking place. It was an essential resource for us when we felt like strangers in a big city, a feeling I know is shared by so many new immigrants today, many of whom call York Centre home. I remember the fun I had taking drama classes and doing sports programs in the gym. My own kids shared that positive experience there as well.
As MPs, we know the significant needs that exist among young families, new immigrants, and seniors, to name just few of the groups that will immediately benefit from the investment in our community infrastructure.
I think I have made clear the benefits of this government's economic plan as laid out in budget 2016 that would be implemented by Bill C-29. I am proud of the investments we are making and will continue to make in strengthening and growing our economy.
Hon. Michelle Rempel (Calgary Nose Hill, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, when we are faced with 200 pages of legislation, sometimes it is very difficult for us to put a human face on the implications of the legislation. I am here today to do just that.
My constituents elected me to be a strong voice for them here in Ottawa. Guess what? Today, I am going to do that. I want to give the people in this House a little lesson on what it is like to be in Alberta right now, and what this means for the people in my riding. In 2014, 20% of Canada's GDP was produced by Alberta, which represents only 12% of the Canadian population. We have always punched above our weight. We have always done our part. We have always supported the concept of Canada as a greater whole. We have never complained about it.
Other people in other parts of the country have looked at us, derided us, and derided our industries, but we always contribute to Canada. We have always been there for Canada. We contribute billions of dollars of equalization payments to prop up failed governments, like the Ontario Liberals, which spend billions of dollars on wasteful projects, and still we do not complain.
Alberta and the people in my riding are not just these numbers; they are people. Right now, thousands of them are out of work, thousands of them. In just about a year's period, Alberta and especially Calgary, especially my riding, went from the national rate of unemployment to nearly 10% unemployment. Let us think about that for a second. Let us think about what it means for a region to have such a dramatic, significant decrease in employment in such a short period of time.
It means that everybody is affected. Albertans do not know anybody who does not have somebody out of work. It is their mom, their dad, their spouse, their kid, their neighbour, their babysitter, their teacher; it is everybody. Do we know what that does to a community? It devastates a community. It takes the soul out of a community.
When I go home and talk to people, they are furious because they want to work. We are a proud people. We do not want lip service from the government. We want action. The very soul of our province depends upon it.
There is a 30% vacancy rate in downtown Calgary. That means that swaths, whole floors of buildings, in downtown Calgary are vacant right now. When we visualize that, we can think about all the people who are sitting at home right now who just want to work. They just want to contribute to the Canadian economy, but they cannot.
Every once in a while, I will hold a job or a career services fair in my riding, and usually a few dozen people show up. This is a service fair where we have educational institutions and different employers come in. More than 500 people showed up on a Saturday morning. There was a wait list to get into this event at a church. That is how bad it is.
These are people who cannot pay their child support payments and their vehicles are being repossessed, and we are coming into the Christmas season. Their credit cards are maxed out, their severance has run out, and they are trying to figure out how they are going to make ends meet for their families. They are not even looking at Christmas presents right now. Our food bank usage is going up. In our local newspaper, there was a giant front-page story about how women in Calgary are having to go into prostitution to make ends meet. Do members know what it is like to come home to a spouse who has not worked for a year? Do members know what that is like?
I hope no one in this place has to feel that. That is what is happening in my riding right now, and yet we have this—this, right here. Do members know what this has? It has sweet fudge all for my riding, nothing.
Albertans look at this and they ask, “Where is our government? Why are we not in here?” There is nothing here for them, except this. There is something all right. I am sorry, constituents; there is something. There is a giant increase in their taxes. They are down, they are out, they have paid their dues, but the government wants to take more of their hard-earned money to waste on its ineffective and inefficient government.
Let us talk about that. How is the government going to take more of their money? First of all, it is implementing a carbon tax. There is no space to have a pragmatic debate about climate change, with the government, and there is no space to have a pragmatic debate about the people in my riding who are unemployed in the energy sector right now. They have been called dirty. The government uses terms like “clean jobs” or “dirty jobs”. It is a moral statement on the lives of the people in my riding.
When the government introduces or implements a $50-a-tonne price on carbon, what does that do? Is that actually going to reduce greenhouse gas emissions? No. Can the government produce any data on price elasticity of carbon that shows that demand is actually going to decrease at that price? No, it cannot.
What does that mean? It means that it is essentially implementing a GST, an increase in the GST at a time when our province is in dire straits. That is a big fallacy and it is a big problem, and it is all right here. Here is a gift for Alberta.
The other thing that the government is trying to do right now is cripple small business. The government made a big song and dance around small businesses a year ago. It tried to court them, but it is a time when—and this survey came out today—94% of the small businesses in Alberta have no faith in our provincial government. There is a great indicator to show that we should invest in business in Alberta: 94% of small businesses do not have faith in the provincial government. The present government is doing what?
An hon. member: A carbon tax.
Hon. Michelle Rempel: A carbon tax, Mr. Speaker, yes; of course it is doing that. That is very helpful at this point in time.
The government is increasing CPP premiums. That amounts to a payroll tax. That, in this business climate, is a small business choice between saying, “Should I keep two employees or one employee?” That is what that is code for.
It is raising EI premiums.
This is what the government is doing with this. This is not a plan. This is a 200-page road map on how to waste my constituents' money. I cannot support that.
Why is the government not talking about how to retain skilled labour? Why is the infrastructure minister not talking about how to implement infrastructure funds and get construction workers back to work in Alberta? Why does the government treat Alberta like a fart in the room that nobody wants to talk about or acknowledge? That is where my constituents have been with the present government for over a year. We are tired of it.
I watched what happened in Brexit—oh, and by the way, constituents, as I am giving this speech, there are Liberals members across the aisle who are laughing at me, and they are laughing at my constituents.
I watched what happened in Brexit, and I know that, if we do not have a space to talk about where all people can prosper and where we do not make value judgements on the efficacy of an industry or what its role is, if we do not have a pragmatic conversation, if it is just a talked-down, dictated policy from elite academics who do not humanize what is happening, then we have failed in our role as legislators. I am not going to let that happen. I really hope the government will rethink this carbon tax in light of what is happening in the U.S. I absolutely support a smart climate change policy that does not negatively impact our province and our country.
The other thing I hope this government will do, as it rolls out this tax increase mess, is stop denigrating my constituents and start standing up for all regions of the country, including Alberta. When members stand here and say it is just commodity prices and it will rebound, that is not the case. When they ask how we can support their carbon tax, they should realize that industry is not CEOs; it is the workers, the people who are sitting out of work at home right now. That is who we need to help.
The reality is that we are a proud people. We will do our part. We will stand up for what is right. We will stand up for the country. However, our voices will be heard. We will not be silent. I encourage all of my constituents, who want their voices to be heard, to participate in the Alberta jobs task force, which my Conservative colleagues in Alberta have implemented. I encourage them to come out, write these MPs from downtown Toronto who stand up here and say that it is okay, that they are dirty jobs and we do not need to worry about them. This is about Canada, and if we do not stand up for Alberta, if we do not have a strong Alberta, we do not have a strong Canada.
Mr. Sukh Dhaliwal (Surrey—Newton, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak in favour of Bill C-29, a second act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 22, 2016 and other measures.
I will begin my remarks by speaking about my riding of Surrey—Newton, which is a community that will benefit directly from the measures outlined in the government's budget.
Much like the rest of Surrey, my riding of Surrey—Newton is experiencing the pressure of growth caused by the migration of 1,200 people moving into Surrey every month.
Surrey—Newton has a strong middle class, a range of different compositions of families with children and seniors. Because of the great interest from the residents regarding many of the budgetary issues and measures introduced last spring, I want to highlight a few of the items that will benefit my constituents the most.
The new Canada child benefit is a significant step forward in recognizing the financial pressures of the middle-class families with children. The new consolidated benefit is easier to account for, indexed according to income levels, and overall more generous than the previous system.
Today, families can receive up to $6,400 per year for each of their children under the age of six. For each child aged six to 17 years, families can receive up to $5,400 per year. This is significant because statistics show that nine out of 10 families have seen their benefits increase under the new plan that was rolled out as of July 1, 2016, with an average bump totalling approximately $2,300.
From the personal impacts I am hearing regarding such an increase, this is a windfall that is really extending the household budgets in Surrey—Newton.
Similarly, seniors are overwhelmingly appreciative of the changes to the Old Age Security Act, which returns the age of eligibility to 65, while at the same time increasing the amount of guaranteed income supplement up to $947.
Vulnerable seniors on fixed incomes are a group that every member of the House is encountering, given their respective constituencies. This budget would fulfill a promise to address those who are most at risk of financial uncertainty, both in terms of seniors as well as young families trying to get a foothold.
In fact, it is what classify as a people's first budget, meaning that this government is committed to improving the situations of middle-class families and seniors with tangible and targeted actions.
This does not mean, however, that it fails to recognize the broader picture when it comes to measures that will continue to build the nation's economic climate.
I want to touch on two specific areas of focus.
First is the number of changes that will allow for greater control over taxation. The budget does this by closing many of the loopholes and policies that allow for billions of dollars of unpaid tax dollars to escape scrutiny. This government believes that multinational corporations should never be able to accrue tax benefits that put them on a different level of consideration than the average, hard-working Canadian taxpayer.
By working with the G20 and the OECD, and ensuring that the provisions attached to both that addresses tax evasion are utilized, it disallows these mega business entities from operating in isolation within Canada.
There must be consequences for avoiding paying their fair share while operating in our country because the lost revenues that this government is currently encountering are dollars that can be invested in Canadian citizens.
Speaking of investment, this government is also looking at the infrastructure needs of the country and investing to build for our future.
For example, in the city of Surrey, residents and businesses alike are struggling with a public transit system that cannot keep up with the demand. As I mentioned earlier, 1,200 people are moving into Surrey every month. To deal with this demand, the Surrey LRT line is one of the most important and pressing projects in metro Vancouver at the moment. It is absolutely essential to keep up with the growth the city of Surrey is experiencing.
The fact is that with Canada having the lowest debt-to-GDP ratio of any G7 country, now is the time for Canada to build and invest for the future. These are not simply the opinions of the government, but one that is voiced by economists from across the country.
In fact, recently the Bank of Canada governor, Stephen Poloz, urged this government to spend more on infrastructure to boost sluggish and long-term growth. Let me provide a direct quote from Mr. Poloz. He said:
|| In the case of a targeted investment by government, which is identified in such a way that it will be growth enabling, is very likely to pay off very well, That is, it creates more economic growth for all those who use that infrastructure, and that of course creates tax revenues and the system keeps turning.
To address the fearmongering from the other side of the House, this is what Mr. Poloz said about the deficit. He said, “Canada is in a very good fiscal situation so we shouldn't be worrying about that at this time”.
This government is going to transform the empty announcements of the previous administration that often did not deliver on the funds. Instead it will make concrete investments that will energize our economy now and for decades to come by investing in Canadians who need consideration the most and for those whose spending serves as a spark for economic growth. By investing in infrastructure for our cities across the country, this government understands that a budget that does not deliver for people is a budget not worth delivering.
We recognize that impacting an individual or a family's daily life takes strong measures that clearly lay out a plan that is actionable and not just used for political purposes.
I am very proud to support this second budgetary implementation bill. I can see the difference being made in the lives of my constituents in Surrey—Newton and all Canadians. That is one of the most satisfying things I take away from being a member of Parliament and something I never take for granted.
Mr. Vance Badawey (Niagara Centre, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to stand in the House this evening to speak to Bill C-29. On behalf of the people of Niagara Centre, I rise today to speak about what this budget will mean for my community, our region, and the people and businesses that call Welland, Thorold, St. Catharines, Port Colborne, and all of the Niagara region home.
Since first being elected last year, I have participated in three federal budget consultations in my riding and throughout the Niagara region. The first was last January to ensure that the concerns and aspirations of my constituents were included in budget 2016. At this meeting, I met with over 15 social service groups, immigration groups, environmental groups, poverty groups, business associations, chambers of commerce, unions, and many other community leaders.
The second consultation last winter was with the parliamentary secretary for finance, the member for Saint-Maurice—Champlain, who joined me and 12 mayors from the Niagara region, the Niagara regional chair, various council members, and a number of economic development officers from the area who were all looking to re-engage with the federal government.
At both of these meetings, the message was very clear. The citizens of Niagara Centre and Niagara wanted to ensure that the federal government was helping Canadians by doing what we promised to do: first, create a business-friendly environment that keeps us competitive in a changing global economy; second, provide support for Canadians to learn new skills and knowledge to succeed in a changing world; third, partner with our provinces and municipal governments to build the core infrastructure people and businesses need to be healthy and secure and that will provide a springboard for success in the years to come; and fourth, provide returns that meet the requirements of a triple bottom-line mindset, that being economic, environmental, and social.
Last week, the member for St. Catharines and I held a pre-budget consultation for budget 2017. Much of the conversation reflected on the successes of budget 2016 and the long-term vision of the programs put forward last March. The regional chair, the mayors, business groups, social service providers, Brock University and Niagara College, and other community leaders once again came forward with their desire to build on budget 2016 and to continue to build partnerships between the federal government and the people of my riding of Niagara Centre, and, equally important, the people of the entire Niagara region.
These three formal consultations allowed me, as well as members of our community, to meet in partnership with municipal governments, social service providers, business groups, and educational institutions to discuss in an open forum how to strengthen the partnerships between these groups and the federal government while meeting the needs of hundreds of residents in my riding, middle-class Canadians and those working hard to join the middle class.
What I have been hearing from the people of Niagara Centre is how budget 2016 helps them. In my riding we have created a seniors council, a group of passionate individuals within our seniors community who meet with me and my staff throughout the year to discuss how governments and service providers can help seniors live healthy, independent, full lives. The Niagara Centre Seniors' Council supports the Old Age Security Act, which ensures that, in the case of low-income couples who have to live apart for reasons not attributable to either of them, the amount of the allowance is to be based on the income of the allowance recipient only.
In my riding we have also created a youth council, a group of engaged and inspirational young people from high school, university, and college as well as young business owners. These are the leaders of today. When this group comes together throughout the year, I am excited about Niagara Centre and the Niagara region's future. The youth council is motivated by this government's increased investments in Canadian colleges and universities, such as Brock University and Niagara College, both of which are in my riding of Niagara Centre.
They are also very supportive of the increased support for middle-class families and those working hard to join the middle class.
By increasing the amount of federal support for college tuition, they are now moving forward with more support for mental health services. They are in fact prioritizing, on behalf of all Canadians, moving forward on enhanced mental health services.
In my riding, many families are working hard to provide for their children so their kids can be successful. The Canada child benefit does just that. In early September, when so many of us were getting our kids ready to go back to school, I heard from mothers and fathers in my riding about how helpful the Canada child benefit was to them. For example, a family with an income of $65,000 a year, with two school-aged children, received a $500 tax-free cheque in September, money that was used to help pay for back-to-school supplies, clothes, registration for sports teams, cultural and theatre registrations, and nutritious foods for lunches.
My constituency office in the city of Welland had many hard-working parents from Port Colborne, Thorold, Welland, and south St. Catharines and from outside the riding come in to learn about the CCB. I have had many conversations with parents who have stopped in to thank us and tell me how the CCB has been a great help to them. As a father myself, it was incredible to see the effect this particular program had on families who want to ensure that their children have every opportunity to be successful.
Budget 2016 is an example of how the federal government can create partnerships with municipal governments, social service providers, the business community, and, equally important, hard-working Canadians to help grow our economy, support our next generation of business and innovation, and ensure that Canadians have the support they need to succeed today as well as tomorrow.
Budget 2016 focuses on partnerships that build sound infrastructure while creating good jobs with a strong focus on supporting hard-working Canadians. After three budget consultations to date, several youth and senior advisory committee meetings, and consultations with business groups, universities, colleges, anti-poverty groups, immigration groups, and various other community organizations, this is what the people of Niagara Centre have asked of their government.
Once again, it is establishing triple bottom-line results, including economic, social, and environmental. The result is that hard-working Canadians, middle-class families in Niagara and beyond, see in budget 2016 that the Government of Canada is working with them and listening to their needs and concerns to bring success today while ensuring the success of future generations. It is responsive government and responsible government.
Ms. Tracey Ramsey (Essex, NDP):
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak to Bill C-29, A second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 22, 2016 and other measures.
I would like to use this opportunity to address a number of concerns about this legislation. In particular, I would like to discuss the implications of the new infrastructure bank for rural ridings like Essex, and for the Canadian economy as a whole.
The potential privatization of our public infrastructure is extremely worrisome. When the government opens our country to private investors who control pools of capital worth trillions of dollars, it undermines the government's ability to provide effective infrastructure for Canadian communities. Private investors do not invest in Canada out of the goodness of their heart, but expect a return on their investment.
That return will come at a cost. For example, it could come at the cost of a working family's ability to put their children into hockey school. It could come at the cost of a senior's ability to pay for their already expensive prescription drugs. We need to ask ourselves if tolled highways and user fees are the best way to finance our infrastructure. What effect will privatized infrastructure projects have on the economies of smaller communities, small business owners, and the cost of living for hard-working Canadians?
The Liberals propose to raise public capital for this new infrastructure bank by selling off public assets. It then plans to raise private capital through privatizing the newly built bridges, roads, and trains. Higher fees for public transit lead directly to higher expenses for Canadians. Giving control of these new projects to private investors is outside the Liberal government's mandate. This grand plan has been termed “asset recycling”, but what it really is is “asset privatizing”.
The Liberal platform argued that the Canadian government's high credit rating would be leveraged to encourage municipalities and provinces to invest in infrastructure through low-cost financing, but this is not what the government has put forward. Instead, the Liberals want to sell off newly built infrastructure to private investors so they can finance the high rates of return for private investors.
What I am deeply concerned about is that at no time during the last election did the Liberal Party talk about introducing privatization of our infrastructure. Members may recall that the last election took place over several months, giving the Liberals ample opportunity to mention their plan. Their plan, which has now been revealed, exposes the real motive behind the proposed infrastructure bank, which is further privatization of our public infrastructure.
In my role as the member of Parliament for the people of Essex, I need to ask what this means for average working people in my community. It means tolls and user fees. Toll roads do not make life more affordable for Canadians. It means expensive bills every month.
The people in my community already know what headaches can come from private infrastructure projects. The Ambassador Bridge is privately owned and belongs to an 89-year-old billionaire who controls and holds this vital American-Canadian trade link hostage. The bridge is falling apart and is jeopardizing public safety. We desperately need the new Gordie Howe bridge to be built.
Every day, between 8,000 and 10,000 trucks cross our border. This bridge represents $700 billion in annual trade between our two nations. Last week, I met with representatives of a fish processing plant in Kingsville. They told me they were experiencing extreme backups when their delivery trucks return from Michigan. This is costing their plant time and money.
Tolls are not the way to go. As we saw with the building of Highway 407 in Toronto, one of the many failed public-private partnerships, tolls have increased so much that most people do not use the highway. How has this become a model to be replicated?
I was just speaking with my mom earlier today about this, and she said she never uses the 407 because it is so expensive. She simply cannot afford it. It costs my parents $30 for a one-way trip. They are seniors. This is an added expense that they simply cannot afford.
In my riding of Essex, small businesses create good local jobs and play an integral role in our communities. The Liberals' broken campaign pledge on the small business tax rate will cost business owners money and hurt their bottom lines. Instead of hiring that additional worker, they now have to set that money aside for taxes. Similarly, building highways that people will not be able to afford to use hurts rural communities and employers.
Employers in my riding are already struggling with attracting potential employees from the city to come to work in the county. We have no public transit, so people have to use their own vehicles to get around. I have spoken with many of these employers and they have told me about their struggles to maintain their workforces. Additional road tolls will hurt employers in rural ridings across Canada.
I am so proud of my community and its world-class production of wine. The Canadian wine industry provides an estimated annual economic benefit of $8 billion, which is a fraction of its potential value. Companies, such as Colio Estates, Cooper's Hawk, Mastronardi Estates, Oxley Estates, Colchester Ridge Estates, Muscedere, North 42 Degrees, Sprucewood Shores Estates, and Viewpointe Estates are only a few of the wineries in my region that operate incredible businesses and attract tourism dollars to our area. These wineries are local employers that look to the federal government to support their innovation. They need the government to present a budget that effectively directs public investment to high-growth industries, such as our agricultural sector. This budget does nothing for these small business owners.
Another infrastructure priority in my riding is broadband Internet. As an MP who represents rural communities across Essex, I welcome the government's commitment to improving access to broadband Internet. In my riding, we are expecting significant upgrades over the next year that will expand wireless coverage. This is welcome news.
However, if we are talking about support for farmers, the commitments in the budget fall short of the support farmers have asked for. The budget makes no provisions for promised compensation for farmers who will be hurt by trade deals like the TPP and CETA, even as the government continues to push to ratify these deals. Last week, the government finally announced a plan to compensate farmers, but it falls far short of compensating them for the losses they are expected to incur. These trade deals chip away at Canada's supply managed sectors at a time when we should be strengthening family farms and ensuring that they have the tools they need to remain viable.
There is a lot missing in the Liberals' budget. Where are the commitments to seniors who are struggling to make ends meet and plan for their retirement? Where are the commitments to invest in home care? Where are the commitments to make child care more affordable? In my constituency office, we have been helping people access the Canada child tax benefit. Just the other week, my office assisted a single mom who is struggling to access this benefit because of the onerous requirements to prove that she's estranged from her husband. We also hear regularly from parents who cannot find affordable child care, and the increased CCTB simply does not address these challenges.
We have also heard from people in my riding who have been impacted by the Phoenix pay system debacle. I have heard from students who were never properly paid this summer, and women coming back from maternity leave whose pay is interrupted. It is extremely stressful, given that most people live paycheque to paycheque and simply do not have the cash reserves to miss months of paycheques. These are the types of issues that matter to my constituents.
The Liberal Party ran on a platform of so-called real change. The budget would leave one questioning what real change means, or more ominously, who it benefits.
On October 20, we learned that the Liberals gave Credit Suisse, an investment firm specializing in privatization, the mandate to advise the Liberals on the benefits of privatizing Canadian airports. It seems like a foregone conclusion that Credit Suisse will recommend privatization. Along with concerns over increased fees for Canadians, the privatization of airports also raises concerns about security matters. There could be significant implications for travellers, and for public safety more broadly. What is next, the privatization of our border crossings?
I would like to speak more about some of my riding's infrastructure priorities. My riding of Essex is home to a short-line rail service called the Essex Terminal Railway. It is critical to the infrastructure necessary in my community. The short line rail industry made several requests of budget 2016, all of which fell on deaf ears. Clearly, investing in short-line rail would help create new opportunities to expand service and increase regional economic opportunities. We do not see that in this budget.
I urge the government to seriously rethink its infrastructure bank scheme. Privatization has many negative impacts and I am deeply concerned that this proposed bank will serve neither the interests of my constituents, nor the needs of my riding. For these reasons, I will be voting no to Bill C-29.
Mr. Kyle Peterson (Newmarket—Aurora, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, just one year ago today, Canadians asked us to do two things: help them and their families, and grow our economy.
While the economy has grown over the past decade, we know that the growth has been too slow and its benefits have not been shared widely enough. Middle-class families see the economy growing, but they have not felt like they are getting ahead. That is why we ran on a platform to support the middle class while growing the economy.
We were among the first countries in the world to pursue an approach to growth that strengthens the middle class, and people are listening. Our approach to supporting the middle class while growing our economy is one that is garnering praise and positive attention around the world.
The Financial Times called Canada “a glimmer of light”.The Wall Street Journal called Canada “the poster child” for the International Monetary Fund’s global growth strategy. Christine Lagarde, head of the IMF, praised our approach and said that she hoped it would “go viral”.
The Economist magazine has put Canada's approach on its cover with a story in a recent issue. “Liberty moves north” was the headline. It stated that “the world owes Canada gratitude for reminding it of what many people are in danger of forgetting: that tolerance and openness are wellsprings of security and prosperity, not threats to them”.
Our budget and the government's approach earned these endorsements because, I firmly believe, we are focused on exactly the right things.
As the government, we are particularly proud of our first budget. This is a budget that puts people and families first. It introduces investments that take an essential step to grow the middle class. It is the first step of a long-term plan to restore hope and revitalize the economy for the benefit of all Canadians. It is focused on people. It is focused on growing the economy for the long term in ways that will benefit every Canadian.
The legislation we are debating today, the budget implementation act, 2016, no. 2, will complete the measures we introduced in budget 2016. This is a budget that offers a fresh boost to the core of our economy: Canada's middle class.
Since being elected, we have lowered taxes for nine million Canadians and introduced the Canada child benefit, which will help nine in 10 Canadians to be better off. Since last July, Canadians have been receiving the new Canada child benefit, which will lift 300,000 children out of poverty. It is no small feat.
Families have been seeing more money in their pockets to spend on sports programs, music lessons, and on other activities for their children this year. Better yet, the Canada child benefit is simpler, it is fairer, and it is tax free, unlike the confusing and unfair system of child benefits it replaced.
To elaborate, since July 1, families can receive up to $6,400 each year per child under six, and $5,400 for a child between six and 17 years of age. The second budget implementation act indexes this benefit to inflation to ensure that it will serve Canadians now and well into the future.
An ambitious public policy like this requires a reliable tax base, and we must remain vigilant in the face of growing problems of international tax evasion and tax avoidance. All around the world, governments are coming together to fight tax evasion and avoidance. In budget 2016, we took an important step in this fight by devoting $444 million in new funding to the Canada Revenue Agency to crack down on tax evaders.
The second budget implementation act would implement key provisions of the international fight. Under the common reporting standard, Canadian financial institutions would be expected to have procedures in place to identify accounts held by non-residents and report information on those accounts to the Canada Revenue Agency. Tax administrations in foreign jurisdictions would likewise collect information from their financial institutions about accounts held by residents of other countries including Canada. The CRA would formalize exchange arrangements with foreign jurisdictions, having verified that each jurisdiction has appropriate capacity and safeguards in place. Then the financial account information would begin to be exchanged on a reciprocal bilateral basis. The introduction of the common reporting standard is an important global development that would help enhance tax compliance and eliminate opportunities for tax evasion, a goal all members in this House share. Going forward, Canada will continue to work with the international community to ensure a coherent and consistent response to tax avoidance.
As all members of this House know, budget 2016 would also commit considerable investments to infrastructure, an important step in growing Canada's economy and in strengthening our middle class. Investments in affordable housing; investments in broadband; and investments in roads, public transit, and waste water are all investments that are important to the people of Newmarket—Aurora and, I suggest, to people across this land. This is an important facet of this budget and it is one that would help grow our economy for years to come.
Canada's debt-to-GDP ratio is the best in the G7 right now. Now is the time to borrow money. Now is the time to invest in Canadians. Now is the time to invest in long-term growth. These investments are sorely needed. I can think of no better time. I can think of no better policy that would grow the economy in the short term, in the mid-term, and in the long term than these significant and important commitments to infrastructure investments. That is why I am so proud of that component of budget 2016.
Recently in my riding of Newmarket—Aurora, we had a pre-budget 2017 town hall. I spoke with members of my regional council there and asked them to prioritize what they saw as their infrastructure priorities. I think it will shock no one in this House that things such as waste-water treatment, roads, public transportation, and, importantly, affordable housing were on the top of their list. I live in a growing part of the country. The growth has put municipal and regional governments under some strain. As their member of Parliament, I am happy to offer some support to their priorities in the form of considerable investment in infrastructure that will help my regional government and my municipal partners deliver on what is important to the great people of Newmarket and Aurora. How they play out in our own ridings is something that we all bear in mind when we consider the important policies. I for one can say that they are playing out nicely in Newmarket—Aurora. They are much needed and appreciated.
Another important component that is found in budget 2016, and of course in the implementation act here, is that we are helping young Canadians to succeed. Now more than ever it is important that post-secondary education remain affordable and accessible. Young Canadians must have access to meaningful work at the beginning of their careers, and must not be burdened by increasing student debt. Budget 2016 would make post-secondary education more affordable for students from low- and middle-income families and it would make it easier to repay student debt. Budget 2016 would also help young Canadians to gain experience and extra income and to find good jobs after graduation.
Budget 2016 represents a strong first step in our plan to put people first and to deliver the help they need now while investing for the years and decades to come. With these investments, and inspired by a sense of fairness, we are ensuring that Canada's best days lie ahead. I therefore encourage all members in this House to support this bill.
Mr. Kelly McCauley (Edmonton West, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to speak to Bill C-29, the government's fall budget update.
Nearly two weeks ago, the Minister of Finance rose in the House to deliver a fall economic update to reassure Canadians that no matter what issue they faced, it was a Liberal top priority and it would be taken very seriously.
Unfortunately, it is very cold comfort to the tens of thousands of Canadians who have lost their jobs, have seen their wages fall, and their savings depleted. It is funny that the Liberals, who will say just about anything to win an election and have taken promise breaking to new levels in the past year, are once again asking the House and Canadians to simply trust them, that they know what they are doing.
As an adult, I have learned that people will say anything to get what they want, and this seems like more empty rhetoric. The government is asking us to give it more billions, that it will work out and not worry. It is starting to rank right up there with, “Don't worry, the cheque is in the mail”, and “Dad, get us that new dog. We will walk it and we will pick up after it”. “Fool me once, shame on me; fool me twice, shame on you”. Fool me thrice, now things are just getting silly.
Our world is filled with uncertainty. We live in a time where we simply cannot predict where we will be in five years. However, when faced with high uncertainty, the solution is not to throw cash at various ideas on the off-chance that maybe, just maybe, it might create a job.
Let us look at where we are right now. Since coming to power, the Liberals have turned a comfortable surplus into a bottomless deficit. They have raised taxes, promised to raise more taxes, and misdirected question about raising other taxes. Projects get announced, then delayed, postponed, ignored, swept under the rug. The money gets promised, trumpets are sounded, press releases are sent in a flurry of self-praise, but the shovel does not hit the ground. So far only one project has actually been started. It is like a press release to project ratio of about 100:1 right now. All the while there has not been a single, net, full-time job created in the past year.
When the Minister of Finance delivered his economic update, I was looking for three basic things: how many jobs would be created; what was the plan to return the budget to surplus and pay down the debt; and what was the Liberal plan to increase economic growth? The Minister of Finance did not provide answers. Rather, he simple told Canadians to relax, trust him, he knew what he was doing.
Perhaps members will forgive me for being a tiny bit uneasy about our country's future, given what the government has and has not done in the time it has held its majority, such as ignoring economic data and experts, manipulating data to fit its failed narrative and refusing to back down when it is shown that its strategy is not working.
We live in the best country in the world, and Canadians put their trust in a government that told them to look forward to sunny ways. We are still waiting for the sun to appear, and the horizon does not look much brighter.
Let us look at what the government presented.
First, the Minister of Finance acknowledged how much his government had spent so far, and then laid out how much more he needed to spend, because the first bout of billions had no return. Therefore, let us spend billions more.
He talked about high-minded ideals such as establishing an infrastructure bank, spending money on public transit, and made honourable mention to getting Canadian products to market. These are nice ideas, but they are not new. The government has had the same talking points since day one, and Canadians have not seen a return for the billions of taxpayers dollars spent.
What we actually get are economic growth forecasts downgraded and downgraded some more. We have seen a drop in full-time employment. We have received yet another promise, and been told, yet again, to wait, trust them, they know what they are doing.
The government says that conditions are out of its control, but is it not a little puzzling that a more competitive Canadian dollar, higher oil prices, and a massive jump in government spending has produced such anemic growth? The first plan is not working, and we can probably guess that more of the same will not have a different outcome.
Next, the government talks about “delivering a more open and transparent government” by, among other things, improving “clarity on government spending”. We approve this in theory, but the plan to increase clarity on government spending so far involves limiting debate on government estimates and making it harder for parliamentarians to adequately scrutinize spending by limiting the amount of time for parliamentary review.
In order to cement this clarity, the government wants to change the long-held rules of our Parliament to accommodate its work load, but we are told it is only for a couple of years then it will be changed back. The most basic purpose of our Westminster parliamentary system is the oversight of spending, and the government wants to change the laws to limit this oversight, then asks us to trust it, that it will be okay.
After a while repeated assurances, promises, and demands for trust wear thin when report after report shows its plan is not working. More and more Canadians are losing that trust. After reading this document, it is for good reason.
The finance minister gave lip service to global economic conditions. He mentioned them, then ignored them and indicated that the government was committed to carrying out policies that flew in the face of these conditions, policies such as its much loved carbon tax, despite the lack of multilateral co-operation with our largest trading partner and major competitor, and the push back of provinces under which it was imposing this scheme.
We as Canadians often fall over ourselves to assert our independence from our American cousins and friends, but the government is planning to go the extra mile.
The best strategy to differentiate two geographically and economically similar countries in order to attract new talent in global investment is not the Liberal strategy of higher taxes, more regulations, and a more overbearing government. That is not the formula for success.
The Liberals are not backing down. They are ignoring global conditions, common sense, and the basic economic principles of competition. No, they are not backing down. It is truly disappointing because no one benefits from this posturing, not the vulnerable, not the seniors, and certainly not the middle class, the Liberals' favourite talking point.
The Liberals love talking about the middle class. They love saying that the middle class is a top priority for their government, speaking like they actually understand the plight of the average Canadian. They patronizingly tell Canadians how to live their lives and control what they save, how much they save, and where they save, all the while pretending they are blazing new trails for the middle class, when neither the Prime Minister nor the Minister of Finance has ever actually been a member of the middle class.
It is extremely easy for the government to raise taxes by just a small amount, or increase the debt by a small amount, or make things harder for Canadians by just a small amount, because it has never seen the impact these small amounts have on a Canadian family.
When parents hand children a path forward on a silver platter, they are not like the vast majority of taxpayers. Every time the government institutes new taxes or takes on more debt, it further indicates that it does not understand the impact of these policies.
When the Minister of Finance and the Prime Minister defend their tax policies by saying that Canadians and small businesses can afford another $1,100 a year in CPP payroll taxes, or another 10¢, 15¢, or 20¢ per litre in new gas taxes to pay for their carbon tax, they are truly disconnected from the rest of the country.
Yesterday, The Globe and Mail published a study suggesting that nearly one-quarter of Canadians were worried about how to pay for groceries. Food banks today reported record increase in usage. Canadians are struggling. Food bank usage across the country is increasing, especially in Alberta, but the Minister of Finance and the Prime Minister are not listening.
However, we have been listening. Canadians tell us that they do not want to pay higher taxes, not while they are dealing with such uncertainty; not when they do not know if their job will be there for them in the next five years, two years, or even one year; not when their federal government abandons all reason and common sense to satisfy the desires of its backroom high-minded donor class; and especially not when we receive talking points, promises, and demands for trust, without seeing any meaningful results.
I want to reiterate what I had hoped to see from the economic update. I had hoped the finance minister would acknowledge that times were tough and Canadians could not afford to pay higher taxes. I had hoped he would acknowledge that the time to institute punishing, unilateral carbon taxes was not when we had not created a single full-time job in a year. I had hoped he would acknowledge that deficits in the tens of billions actually had to be paid back. Above all, I had hoped the finance minister would reassure the House and Canadians that his plan was an actual plan.
Plans have targets, objectives, goals, and real tangible methods of achieving those targets. This update is more like a casualty report, another few billion packed on to the deficit, another few billion in new debt each year, no realistic plan to create jobs, no tangible results from the pain already endured.
I am worried about our future, and rightly so. There is enormous uncertainty in the world and we need an actual plan. What do we tell our children in 30 years when they are out of work in a stumbling economy, burdened by billions in debt, deficits, and interest payments, unable to see the path forward? Canadians deserve better.
Mr. Dan Ruimy (Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, I am proud to rise today on behalf of my constituents of Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge to speak to a bill that takes us one step closer to a more fair, progressive, and inclusive society.
I want to take a moment to speak to the importance of Bill C-29, not only for its direct, positive impact on thousands of families in my community, but for how it reflects our nation's desire to see our collective interests as part of a brighter future for us all.
I would like to begin by briefly telling a story about a constituent in my riding. On the first day the Canada child benefit cheques were sent out, this constituent called my office to thank our government for this new fairer way of helping families get ahead and lifting hundreds of thousands of children out of poverty.
However, it is important to note that this constituent did not qualify for the CCB because his income was too high. This constituent explained that he had lived his childhood in poverty and, while he no longer needed the help, was so incredibly proud that this government was ensuring that hundreds of thousands of children would not have to live as he did.
This constituent is not alone. These constituents represent a belief that when we lend a hand to our neighbour, we are all lifted together. They represent a way of thinking that our collective good is in the best interests of all Canadians, now and for generations to come. The economics are clear. When our families are given a boost, it is not just a handout. These are transfers that are not only going to improve the life and standard of living for nine out of 10 families across Canada, but these are real dollars that are being re-introduced to the economy to help stimulate growth.
A successful, progressive fiscal agenda is one that, through addressing short-term challenges, produces long-term results. For families in Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge, this budget means that Stephen's parents can afford to register him for this season of Knights football, or Allison can go to camp at Timberline Ranch, and that makes the economy a little better.
When middle-class families have money in their pockets, they have more money to spend on their families and more money with which to stimulate the economy. Families benefit; the economy benefits.
Under the previous Conservative government, what was lacking—amongst many things—was an understanding that cheques to the wealthiest of Canadians do not produce economic growth, nor do they produce a more prosperous and fair nation. We know the realities.
The CCB is tax free, targeted, and simplified. Over the last few months, I have spoken to families in my riding, and I have heard how this new measure has helped put healthier food on their tables, buy their kids school supplies, or replace worn-out running shoes. These are real families in my riding. This is what they are experiencing.
Let us just call it what it is: real change for those families in my riding. It is also important to note that this vision for investing in our future is one that our government is proudly carrying out across ministries, and one that I know will benefit the constituents in my riding of Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge in many different ways.
Investments do not just happen overnight. The word “investment” means there is time involved. It takes time. We invest in our children. We invest in our families. We invest in our home. That is a long-term strategy. Bill C-29 follows suit with a vision for Canada that is being driven by Canadians themselves.
When I speak with folks in my community and I hear their hopes and concerns, their perspectives are not falling on empty ears. Canadians have and continue to be at the heart of our policy decisions.
It is not just about the direct needs of families, either. It is about what our communities value. For folks in coastal and watershed communities like my own, our government has listened and responded with a $1.5 billion investment in funding for an oceans protection plan. This was sorely needed. This has never been done in the past. The previous government did not invest that kind of money. We need this. For young people in my community who are struggling to finance their post-secondary education, we have heard them, and we have answered with an increase in Canada student grants.
It is about the future. Let us talk about that. I have met many young people in my community, and they are incredibly driven and optimistic. I recently started my constituency youth council. We have had a couple of meetings, and from age 14 to 24, these young leaders of today are bringing the tough issues to the table. They want to tackle issues such as transportation, youth mental health, climate change, education, and immigration. It just shows that these young people in our communities have brilliant, critical minds that we need to invest in. Studies say that this generation of young people are our most intellectually advanced, and yet, when we talk to Canadian youth, they and their families are still facing barriers to tap into their potential.
We are investing in our youth. We are doubling Canada student loans. We are supporting low-income students and helping them to pay off their student debts by waiting for them to actually have a salary of $25,000 a year or more. Until then, they will not have to pay that back. They will not have to worry about interest payments. That is what is going to help them.
We are also increasing funding for Canada summer jobs. This summer, I went on a mission and spoke with 80 of 100 students who got Canada summer jobs. I went to every single business, church, and organization and met those young people of today. I was proud to see the potential they bring to our country. It just tells me that we need to invest more into the future of our country, into our youth.
We are responding to real problems now with eyes on the future. These are not just policies that are checking off a wish list or un-targeted boutique tax credits that help families, regardless of whether they need it or not. Our policies are rooted in the needs and the values of Canadians and are a response to hundreds of thousands of ongoing conversations with members of my community and our communities. I have done town halls. We have done multiple round tables. The people I am meeting are open and frank with me.
Part of our responsibility as a government is matching the needs and desires of Canadians with programs and services. We are doing just that. In our government, Canadians, not personal agendas, are at the heart of everything we do.
Bill C-29 is important. To be frank, fulfilling our commitment to a fairer economic system is one I am incredibly passionate about. While members opposite may scoff at the many times our government talks about fairness and investing in our economy, I think it is incredibly important to continue to talk about them. Therefore, today, I will continue to share the importance of fairness, investment, and a brighter future for all Canadians. I will continue to share my enthusiasm for the policies outlined in Bill C-29 and the effect they would have in my riding of Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge.
Families in my riding have been struggling to get ahead far too long, and the measures in Bill C-29, and the measures that continue to be introduced by our government, are working toward a society Canadians can believe in.
Mr. Brian Masse (Windsor West, NDP):
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise here today to contribute to a very important debate about taxpayers' money and where this country is going.
One of the interesting things about the budget allocation process is the government's move to move toward public-private partnerships with respect to infrastructure, something that it did not campaign on in the past election but that is driving its actions right now because of the fire sale required to pay for some of its promises and its budgetary practices that are way out of hand. In fact, we have gone from a promised $10-billion deficit to a deficit of upwards of $40 billion. I would suggest that by the end, it will be higher than that.
Here is a situation that is interesting. On Monday, the Prime Minister and his assembled cabinet spent an afternoon at the Ritz-Carlton in Toronto to basically showcase and sell off parts of Canada, especially infrastructure, to the private sector. The private sector on that day included not only private equity firms whose investors we do not know, but also non-democratic countries who have their own infrastructure banks and monetary allotments to buy Canadian companies.
I remember one of my first notations in the House of Commons was when China Minmetals was wanting to buy Canadian natural resources and the Investment Canada Act had no national security screen on that. I worked hard to get an amendment to have such a screen as part of the Investment Canada Act because, at that time, we had a non-democratic Communist government that was using its financial resources to purchase Canadian natural resources. The ironic thing is that at that time, it was the Paul Martin administration that was selling Petro-Canada. So it was okay for the Communist government of China to purchase gas assets and resources and companies in Canada, but it was not good for Canadians to own a stake in their own company and their own natural resources, which they had already invested in in the past and were being dividends.
In fact, when we look at the books, we will find out, because we had a fire sale on, that the government lost hundreds of millions of dollars in the months after that because prices spiked after it had its fire sale. It was an interesting thing that took place and now, to this date, we have less.
When we look at the economics of this, we are looking at P3s being done in a country like Canada, which has one of the lower debt levels and some quite significant infrastructure assets. We are showcasing the strength of our capacity in that regard. We also have some of the lowest borrowing rates out there, which is important to note because those lower rates create these opportunities. Yet, the government still wants to go outside our country to bring in resources from other countries and from other private equity firms for them to make a profit over what Canadians have already paid for.
It is bizarre. When we think about the future for our children, we are sandbagging them, just like we did on the Highway 401 system that allowed these companies to get their assets and then pay for their profits at the expense of our children in the future.
I know I have to conclude, but it is a bizarre way of passing on a legacy to our kids that is supposed to about economic and fiscal responsibility.