Madam Speaker, I am going to start off where my Liberal colleague from Scarborough—Guildwood left off, where he talked about economic fundamentals.
What are the economic fundamentals right now of Canada? The economic fundamentals are that we are living through the period of greatest inequality in our nation's history. That is an economic fundamental that both this budget and previous Conservative budgets completely ignored. We now have two Canadian billionaires who have the same wealth as 30% of the Canadian population, or 11 million Canadians.
Another fundamental that this budget does not touch in any way, shape, or form is the fact that Canadian families are now struggling with the worst debt burden, not only in our nation's history but in any industrialized nation's history. The average family debt now is a crushing burden. That, of course, was created by Conservative policies and has been enhanced by Liberal policies. However, these are economic fundamentals that this budget does not take into account in any way, shape, or form.
This budget is a cruel hoax for all those Canadians who actually believed that this government was going to do what it said it wanted to do in the 2015 election. We have seen a whole host of broken promises. My colleague from Skeena—Bulkley Valley certainly could speak to the broken promise around democratic reform, but we have seen a whole host of broken promises. This budget just enhances what has been a drive toward more inequality and an unjust tax system.
Madam Speaker, I would like to start with the inequalities and the Liberals' broken promises. Several weeks ago, our leader, Jagmeet Singh, and I held a press conference. We wrote to the Prime Minister and to the Minister of Finance to talk about the ever-increasing inequality across the country and to talk about the major changes needed to help all Canadian families.
We said that the government must go after tax havens. The government must close tax loopholes, including tax havens, instead of continuing to allow major corporations and wealthy Canadians to avoid paying taxes. Instead, the government signed even more treaties with notorious tax havens. I am talking about the Cook Islands, Antigua and Barbuda, and Grenada. Even the Conservatives did not want to sign agreements with those countries. Now these agreements exist and they allow companies to not pay taxes.
We also talked about web giants that do not pay taxes like Netflix and Facebook. These companies are effectively stealing from Canadian businesses, and communities are struggling as a result. These web giants were not addressed at all in this budget. This is yet another failure.
When we talk about all of these tax havens, when we talk about these special fiscal arrangements that allow some of the world's biggest businesses to not pay one cent of tax in Canada, when we talk about what that actually means, there is a cost to Canadians, a huge cost to Canadians. My colleague, the Liberal member, was talking about fiscal discipline. This government has shown absolutely no fiscal discipline whatsoever, in the same way that the Conservatives did not. With the Conservatives it was a free-for-all. Every month they would sign another special treaty with an overseas tax haven. Now the Liberals are in the process of doing the same thing.
What is the cost to Canadians? The Parliamentary Budget Officer and a whole host of think tanks in Canada, whether we are talking about the CCPA or the Conference Board of Canada, have evaluated what it costs Canadians to have this free-for-all, this most egregious signing of taxation-free agreements, which allow money that is made in Canada to go overseas and not be taxed one cent.
The cost for the web giants alone is over $1 billion, which could be money that serves collectively for all of us to fight the inequalities that I mentioned earlier, to provide the programs that Canadians desperately need, and yet the government is not willing to touch that.
When we talk about tax havens, depending on the estimates, we are talking about a minimum of $10 billion a year. We are talking about up to $40 billion a year. These should be those common resources that all Canadians in solidarity use to make sure that their families are taken care of when there are health care problems, when they need medication, and so that they can actually provide child care for their children. Canadians have said very clearly, certainly in the last election, that they believe in a society where we collectively provide those resources and those supports for families. However, Conservatives and now Liberals have been frittering away tens of billions of dollars each and every year by refusing to close all of these tax loopholes.
There was a brave paragraph in the budget, and I am going to praise the government for this very brave paragraph. On page 69 in the English text, the finance minister and the Liberal government actually say that they are going combat tax evasion and tax avoidance, and that the government will invest money to address the issues of tax evasion and tax avoidance, which, as I mentioned earlier, are in the realm of tens of billions of dollars each and every year.
This is what the budget says. This is what all Liberal MPs stand behind. “As the CRA has a proven track record of meeting expectations from targeted compliance interventions,” which is the combat of tax evasion and tax avoidance, “Budget 2018 accounts for the expected revenue impact of $354 million over five years.”
About $70 million a year with that enhanced compliance is what the Liberals are expecting to get. Now, each and every question period when we raise the egregious issue of the massive amounts of money going offshore for tax havens, the Liberals have responded by saying that they are going to spend over $1 billion over 10 years to get some of that money back. Now we know what they are targeting. They are spending $1 billion, or half a billion over five years, and are expecting to get back $354 million, and remember, Liberals very rarely meet their targets. They would spend half a billion to get back $354 million. It is almost laughable. It would be a comedy if it did not have such a profound impact on Canadians.
Here are some of the other things the Liberals refuse to close.
There is the stock option loophole, which was evaluated a few years ago as benefiting, to the tune of half a billion dollars, 75 of Canada's wealthiest corporate CEOs. Those are figures under the Conservatives, but the figures today would be similar. Seventy-five wealthy Canadians, because of the stock option loophole, got an average of $6 million each. That is half a billion dollars in taxpayers' handouts to some of Canada's wealthiest people on Bay Street, yet the same Liberals who are defending this budget will stand up and say that we cannot afford child care, housing, or pharmacare. They are saying that because they have a complete absence of the fiscal discipline to say to the wealthiest in our country that they have to pay their fair share of taxes, the fiscal discipline that means standing up to the corporate sector, which now has a real effective tax rate of less than 10%. It is 9.8% as evaluated by the CCPA.
Ask a tradesperson, a nurse, or someone who works in a mill if they can get by with a 9.8% effective tax rate. They cannot, of course, but Canada's wealthiest enterprises, courtesy of Conservative and Liberal policies, can get by with that small a rate of taxation.
We have said that we need a fair tax system, and I can tell members that in this corner of the House we are not going to stop until there is a fair tax system in this country that allows us to invest and provide for families when they are in need. Canadians, because of the record level of family debt and because of the record level of inequality, have never been more in need than they are now.
It is not just what the Liberals refuse to do, which is establishing any sort of fiscal framework. It is what the results have been. That is why we tabled the subamendment to the budget decrying how undisciplined this fiscal framework has been in giving most of the nation's resources and wealth to a very few Canadians, and virtually nothing to Canadians who are struggling.
I will start with housing. On page 78 of the budget, we see that $31 million has been allocated to build more rental housing for Canadian families.
As we know, this means that only a few dozen apartments across the country would be affordable for Canadians.
All amounts combined, including those elsewhere in the budget, represent less than 10% of what is needed this year to deal with the housing crisis that exists across Canada. Even I am affected by this crisis, and my fellow citizens, who are my bosses, feel it every day in New Westminster—Burnaby. In fact, the cost of housing is increasing and more and more people are finding it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to access affordable housing. Take Hélène, for example, a deaf woman who could not afford an apartment even when she was working. She had to turn to a local organization that provides services to deaf people.
In Canada, half of the people who are currently homeless, and we are talking about tens of thousands of people, are people with disabilities. As we can see, this crisis is profoundly affecting people with disabilities and other poor people.
It is not just disabled Canadians who are impacted. I am talking about John Young, a pensioner who worked all his life. He paid into a pension and has a modest pension. However, because of the increase in rent in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, in my riding, he struggled to keep his apartment but could not, because he was going further into debt. He then tried to room with a friend, which did not work out, so he ended up in a parkade in downtown New Westminster.
These are the victims of the lack of fiscal discipline of the government, which allows people to be homeless and not have the services they need while it feeds tens of billions of dollars to offshore tax havens. These are extraordinarily poor choices. These are the kinds of choices that should force the government out of office in 2019.
It is not just about housing. Let us talk about first nations. We have a government that committed to ending boil water advisories within a couple of years, yet the funding in this budget is only pennies of what is needed to end boil water advisories in this country. It does not even come close to the $320 million that is needed this year. It is pennies on the dollar. It is a cruel hoax for all those first nations communities across the north and across this country that expected that the government would care enough to actually make those investments.
As well, the government falls lamentably short of the nearly $1 billion that is needed this year alone for housing for first nations communities, to address what has been a chronic absence of funding by the federal government. Since the former Liberal government eliminated the national housing program, Canadians, in so many cases, have been forced to make incredibly difficult choices. In first nations communities, only a fraction of the money that is needed this year is actually being provided in this budget.
Let us talk about universal child care. It is not here.
Any sort of investment to deal with the industries that are facing what is an intense push from the new Trump administration against Canadian industries is not there.
My colleague from Hamilton Mountain has done an extraordinary job of protecting pensions. As he has said many times, there is nothing in this budget, and there will be nothing in the budget implementation act, that actually addresses the theft of pensions that is hurting so many Canadians.
The reply of the government was to introduce Bill C-27, which would of course help the finance minister with Morneau Shepell, but it would not help Canadians who are struggling to keep their pensions. Sears pensioners losing their pensions are only the latest who have seen the money they have invested over a lifetime evaporate because there is no pension protection in this country.
As well, I can mention Phoenix, where the government has to make a phenomenal investment, a significant investment, to address the Phoenix pay system, and it chose not to in this budget. The Parliamentary Budget Officer and even the Australians, who would have warned the Liberals not to implement Phoenix, say that it costs $1 billion to $5 billion to fix it. The Liberals have only pennies on the dollar in this budget, not enough to fix it, and not enough to make sure our public servants receive the paycheques they so richly deserve in working so hard for our country.
With regard to pay equity, I mentioned earlier that there is not a cent.
The most cruel hoax is the issue of pharmacare. In the days prior to the budget, the Liberals leaked out that they would be taking real action on pharmacare. We have repeatedly brought to this House motions directing the government to enact pharmacare, and the Liberals have refused to vote for them. However, in the buildup to the budget, they said that this time they really meant it.
It made a lot of sense that they would enact pharmacare. Even the Parliamentary Budget Officer has said very clearly that all Canadians would save money if we have a universal pharmacare system. The cost of drugs, over $30 billion a year, can be reduced remarkably if there is a single-payer system. We saw that in New Zealand, with costs being reduced by 90%. Provincial and territorial governments can save billions of dollars, and so can businesses and individuals. Canadians who cannot afford to pay for their medication now and take the medication they so desperately need would actually have that medication provided.
In the past, I have quoted Jim, who is right outside Parliament Hill begging every day for the $580 he needs for the medication that will keep him alive. After all that buildup, what the Liberals gave was a cruel hoax to Canadians who are desperate to have a pharmacare system in place. The cruel hoax is that they just decided to study it for another couple of years. They will make another promise in 2019, if they get re-elected.
My point is that the budget is a cruel hoax. The Liberal government has repeatedly broken promises it made back in 2015. On the basis of this budget, the government not only does not deserve the support of the House of Commons for this budget, but it does not deserve the support of Canadians in 2019. The Liberals have kept the same cruel fiscal framework that allows the gross inequalities we see in our country, the tens of billions of dollars that go to offshore tax havens and stock options, the whole range of loopholes. None of those are shut down.
What the government is saying is that for those Canadians who want to see pharmacare, instead of struggling and having to choose between putting food on the table or paying their rent and paying for the medication their doctor has prescribed, there is no hope. The Liberals are just offering a study. For the tens of thousands of Canadians who are out on the streets and parks of our nation tonight, there is not going to be any housing coming. There is a little bit, but not nearly enough to actually address the size and scope of the crisis that has befallen Canadians.
If people are looking for pay equity, for their pensions to be protected, or for support for their industry being attacked by Donald Trump, they should not look in this Liberal budget.
This budget is a cruel hoax. Canadians deserve better. Canadians expected better. In 2019, they will be able to get better.