Fall Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2022

An Act to implement certain provisions of the fall economic statement tabled in Parliament on November 3, 2022 and certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on April 7, 2022

Sponsor

Status

In committee (House), as of Nov. 22, 2022

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Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, an excellent resource from the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Votes

Nov. 22, 2022 Passed 2nd reading of Bill C-32, An Act to implement certain provisions of the fall economic statement tabled in Parliament on November 3, 2022 and certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on April 7, 2022
Nov. 22, 2022 Failed 2nd reading of Bill C-32, An Act to implement certain provisions of the fall economic statement tabled in Parliament on November 3, 2022 and certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on April 7, 2022 (reasoned amendment)
Nov. 21, 2022 Passed Time allocation for Bill C-32, An Act to implement certain provisions of the fall economic statement tabled in Parliament on November 3, 2022 and certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on April 7, 2022

TaxationAdjournment Proceedings

November 24th, 2022 / 5:45 p.m.
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Burnaby North—Seymour B.C.

Liberal

Terry Beech LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance

Madam Speaker, I take a lot of time writing my notes, but to get off that for a second, at the request of my colleague, there was in fact a carbon price seven years ago, just not in his home province of Alberta. In my home province of B.C., there absolutely was a price on carbon, and guess what. During that period, British Columbia had the fastest-growing economy in the country at the same time as we had a carbon price. That is just some food for thought before I get into my extensive notes.

Our government understands that many Canadians are worried about our country's economy and that we are facing a global slowdown due to global challenges of high inflation and higher interest rates. However, it is important to remember that inflation is in fact a global phenomenon. Indeed, it is a lingering result of the COVID pandemic, Putin's illegal war on Ukraine and the snarled supply chains that are affecting so many people and businesses right around the world. The good news, though, is that no country is better placed than Canada to weather the coming global economic slowdown and thrive in the years ahead.

Canada's inflation rate is less severe, at 6.9%, than those of our peers, like the United States, at 7.7%, the United Kingdom, at 11.1% and Germany, at 10.4%. We rely on Stats Canada to do those calculations. Also, our country has a AAA credit rating and has had the strongest economic growth in the G7 so far this year. That is alongside the lowest deficit- and net debt-to-GDP ratios in the G7. In fact, we have strengthened that advantage over the course of the pandemic. Our unemployment rate is also near its record low, and 500,000 more Canadians are working today than before the pandemic.

We do appreciate, though, that this is a difficult time for families, friends and of course our neighbours. That is why we are now moving forward with targeted measures, including new ones introduced in the fall economic statement. For example, Bill C-32 would make the federal portion of all Canada student loans and Canada apprentice loans permanently interest-free, including those currently being repaid.

We are also continuing to implement our government's affordability plan, which includes targeted measures worth $12.1 billion. For example, with Bill C-31 having recently received royal assent, we are moving forward with the creation of the Canada dental benefit for children under 12 in families with annual incomes of less than $90,000 who do not have access to a private dental plan. Also, individuals and families receiving the GST credit started receiving an additional $2.5 billion in support earlier this month, and I thank my friend opposite for supporting that measure.

These are targeted measures that help make life more affordable for Canadians who need it the most, while being careful not to add fuel to the inflationary fire.

When it comes to pollution pricing, we know that a national price on pollution is the most effective and least costly way of reducing greenhouse gas emissions while putting more money back into the pockets of most Canadians. Climate action is no longer a theoretical political debate; it is an economic necessity.

Earlier this month, the Parliamentary Budget Officer published an analysis showing climate change has negatively impacted and will continue to negatively impact the Canadian economy. The Conservatives regularly conflate the increased cost in global commodity prices with a price on pollution, but this is a fundamental error in practice. In B.C., for example, the carbon price has increased by only two cents per litre over the last three years while the price of gas has increased by over a dollar. That means the Conservatives are regularly ignoring 98% of the real problem. They also ignore the fact that the federal carbon price is revenue-neutral and that it actually makes life more affordable for eight out of 10 Canadian families through the climate action rebate.

The House resumed from November 21 consideration of the motion that Bill C‑32, An Act to implement certain provisions of the fall economic statement tabled in Parliament on November 3, 2022 and certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on April 7, 2022, be read the second time and referred to a committee, and of the amendment.

Oil and Gas IndustryAdjournment Proceedings

November 21st, 2022 / 6:50 p.m.
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Burnaby North—Seymour B.C.

Liberal

Terry Beech LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I will start by sharing the sentiment of my friend from Kitchener Centre with regard to the urgency of this issue and with regard to making sure that we get this right, for the sake of our children and all children across Canada and around the world.

Canada remains committed to phasing out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies. We have already taken action to phase out nine tax measures supporting the fossil fuel sector. We have also pledged to undertake a peer review of inefficient fossil fuel subsides under the G20 process. The reality is that Canada fought hard at COP27 so that the world did not backslide on the phasing out of fossil fuel subsidies. We reiterated our commitment to phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies by 2023, two years earlier than the G20 commitment.

Some have argued, including the member who just spoke, that our recent measures to support the emerging carbon capture, use and storage sector amount to an inefficient fossil fuel subsidy. This is not true. The fact is that CCUS is one of many tools in our tool box to meet our climate commitments. I would note that many respected global organizations support CCUS development. This includes the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the Paris-based International Energy Agency.

In fact, the agency estimates that this technology could be responsible for about 15% of global emission reductions. It is part of the plan. It also gives us a tool to lower emissions outside of the oil and gas sector. Steel production, cement and other emission-intensive industries can benefit from this technology. This, in fact, builds on our world-leading climate plan, one that approaches reducing emissions and developing clean technology in all facets of our economy, and one that we further expanded on in the fall economic statement tabled earlier this month.

While we are removing tax credits from flow-through shares on oil, gas and coal, we are also creating new investment tax credits for clean tech and for clean hydrogen. We are also creating a sustainable jobs training centre that will prepare our workers for the high-paying sustainable jobs that will be created as new economic opportunities emerge as part of our climate plan. In addition, we are investing in a world-leading innovation and investment agency and a $15-billion clean growth fund that will help Canada further tap into the economic opportunities that the clean transition provides.

That being said, our government's priority, beyond fighting climate change and growing an economy that works for everyone, is to make life more affordable for Canadians who are currently struggling with global inflation.

Indeed, we are now moving forward with targeted measures, including new ones introduced in the fall economic statement. For example, Bill C-32 would make the federal portion of all Canada student loans and Canada apprenticeship loans permanently interest-free, including those currently being repaid.

We are expanding our efforts with regard to affordable housing and we are making sure that every child in Canada, no matter how wealthy their parents are, has access to affordable dental care. This is in addition to our investments that have lifted millions of children and seniors out of poverty, including an early learning and child care agreement that will make our kids smarter and allow hundreds of thousands of parents to rejoin the workforce, if they choose to do so.

Finally, we have doubled the GST benefit to help 11 million Canadian households, including more than 50% of seniors, better handle the impacts of global inflation.

Any responsible plan must tackle climate change in a way so that no one is left behind in our economy, and that is exactly what our government is doing.

Fall Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2022Government Orders

November 21st, 2022 / 5:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Glen Motz Conservative Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner, AB

Madam Speaker, it is always a privilege to rise in the House to represent the incredible people of Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner.

Today, as we debate the fall economic statement, Bill C-32, I find it challenging to speak to the government's financial priorities. The priorities of the Liberal government differ dramatically from the priorities of Canadians and the official opposition. We have fundamentally different beliefs, and we generally disagree on the role government should play in the lives of Canadians.

This is a politically charged financial statement with two objectives: first, for the Liberals to spend enough money to buy the support of the NDP so their Liberal-NDP political love story can continue; and, second, to divide Canadians based on an ideological framework regardless of the financial or political consequences.

Canadians are tired. We have been stretched emotionally and spiritually, and now we have been physically pushed beyond our limits, especially over the last two and a half years. Like an overworked body, we need time to rest and recover. We need a sense of normality and hope, but that is not what is happening here. Canada is facing a cost of living crisis brought on by years of overspending, excessive borrowing and money printing, though the government will say it is quantitative easing, which has created the highest rates of inflation in decades.

Of late, the Bank of Canada has been raising interest rates at an unprecedented pace, and it is not done yet, all in an effort to curb the inflationary trend. The government has doubled Canada's debt in the last seven years, and the Prime Minister, as has been said many times before, has added more debt than all prime ministers in the history of Canada combined. For those trying to keep track of that at home, that is over half a trillion dollars.

The Liberals would have us believe that they had no choice, given the pandemic. However, 40% of all new spending and measures has nothing to do with COVID. That is over $200 billion. The resulting national debt interest payment costs have doubled, and next year those interest payments will be nearly as much as the Canada health transfers to the provinces. Let us just think of the impact of that.

I am sure that members of the House recall the Prime Minister, the current finance minister and the previous finance minister touting how inexpensive it was for the government to borrow money. This is no longer the case. Now Canadians are stuck repaying their bills at these new and much higher interest rates.

The only person with any fundamental financial understanding back then and now is the Conservative leader. He warned the finance minister back in December of last year. She was asked what impact a 1% average increase on interest rates would have on Canada's national debt. She was unable to provide any number. The crushing part is that rates did not go up 1%. They are up 3.5%. A finance minister who could not fathom a 1% increase when questioned was clearly unprepared for that eventuality.

Now we are in a situation where the reality is substantially worse than that, yet the finance minister remains equally as oblivious to the situation and as arrogant to her colleagues as she was a year ago. In her fall update, she should have been singing the praises of the Leader of the Opposition. After all, he was clearly the only one with both the foresight and understanding that interest rates would not remain at historic lows forever and the conviction to ensure that the government had a plan.

During this time of self-induced financial uncertainty, the government needs to partner with Canadians and not continue to punish them. Let us take small business owners, for example. They are the unsung heroes of Canada's economy. They employ nearly two-thirds of workers across the country and take on incredible risk to provide the necessary goods and services to our communities, yet under the Liberal government, small businesses are being punished with rising payroll taxes, an increasing carbon tax, labour shortages and staggering inflation, which is driving up the cost of everything.

This fall economic statement was the Liberals' chance to let Canadians know that the Government of Canada is a strong and stable partner, and they failed. It was the Liberals' chance to rein in spending and focus on getting the country's financial house in order, but they failed there, too. It was their chance to acknowledge that a carbon tax only hurts Canadians who are struggling to make ends meet, but Liberals let Canadians down there, too.

Sadly, the Liberal plan does nothing to address the cost of living crisis and government overspending. Rather, it shows that government revenues have increased by $40 billion this year alone. This not only means that inflation is increasing the cost of everyday essentials, but it also means there is an increase in taxes while the Liberal government is profiting from increased inflation on the backs of already struggling Canadians.

Canada's Conservatives had two clear expectations and demands of the government, as did Canadians: stop the taxes and stop the spending. Stopping the taxes means no new taxes and includes cancelling all planned tax hikes and the increasing of the carbon tax. Stopping the spending means no new spending and that any new spending by ministers must be matched by an equivalent saving. None of those demands were met in the fall economic inflationary update.

As I stated recently in the House, all that Canadians really need to thrive and survive is individual freedom and good government. I believe a good government is for the people, not of the people, and is transparent. It acknowledges that every time a dollar is given away, it must first be taken from a Canadian who went to work to earn it. It is a government that makes life more affordable for Canadian, not by creating more cash but by creating more of what cash can buy, and understands that ethically produced and environmentally responsible Canadian energy helps fuel our economy and should fuel the world. It is a government that knows carbon taxes will not tackle climate change and that focuses on promoting Canadian technology to the world, making alternative energy cheaper, not making Canadian energy more expensive. It is a government committed to reforming the tax and benefit system so that those who work can keep more of what they earn, and one that offers Canadians hope and creates an environment to succeed and prosper.

Freedom and good government are exactly what the Conservative leader, my Conservative colleagues and I are intent on providing Canadians. Buckle up folks. The fight to get Canada back on track has started.

It starts with removing the carbon tax, which is further burdening already struggling Canadians. It starts by helping the finance minister understand that her plan to print, borrow and spend on political pet projects needs to end. It starts by voting down this misguided and hyperpartisan fall economic statement. I ask my colleagues to please join me in ensuring that this bill does not pass.

Fall Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2022Government Orders

November 21st, 2022 / 5:10 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Gerald Soroka Conservative Yellowhead, AB

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to speak to Bill C-32, the fall economic statement implementation act, with a particular focus on how the NDP-Liberal government claims to put Canadians' interests first, yet continues to push forward with its uncontrolled, insatiable inflationary spending.

We have two simple demands of the NDP-Liberal government to address the affordability crisis: Stop the taxes and stop the spending.

The cost of living crisis did not come without fair warning. We Conservatives have a long record of warning the NDP-Liberal government of the consequences of its actions. Needless to say, the direction it has demonstrated has been one of irresponsibility, mismanagement and carelessness. Skyrocketing inflation and the affordability crisis are likely to be mishandled yet again unless the NDP-Liberal government continues to listen to common-sense, realistic Conservative solutions to truly support Canadians across the country, so this is what we have to say.

The economic update does nothing to remedy the homegrown affordability crisis, and there is a running theme of deflecting the blame altogether. Whether it be the war in Ukraine, the pandemic or inflation being a problem around the world, the Liberal government chooses to blame everything else but its inflationary spending.

The inflationary deficits, totalling about half a trillion dollars, have sent more money chasing fewer goods. These inflationary practices are hiking the cost of everything while leaving Canadians with band-aid solutions that provide them with no long-term support. The Liberals' tax-and-spend agenda is completely unsustainable, and Canadians deserve better than choosing between eating or heating this winter. Seniors deserve better than barely scraping by with the cost of groceries. Families deserve better than paying the ever-climbing carbon tax. Students deserve better than facing a bleak housing market post graduation.

Canadians have never paid so much into taxes as they are because of this government. With record-breaking price hikes for gas, groceries and home heating, it is no wonder that more Canadians are turning to food banks for extra support once they have exhausted everything else they could possibly have saved money on.

The Prime Minister has managed to pack on more debt for Canadians than all the past prime ministers combined. That is why we Conservatives are championing the interests of hard-working Canadians by advancing two demands of the government: Stop the tax hikes and stop the inflationary spending.

The government loves to masquerade its inflationary spending as “helping Canadians” but tends to neglect saying that it is adding more debt and hiking inflation with its so-called affordability measures. If the NDP-Liberals were sincere about supporting Canadians through the cost of living crisis, then they would cancel all planned tax hikes, including the tripling of the carbon tax. Canadians are already struggling with inflation. My constituents have been talking about how much it costs to heat their homes nowadays. Since when has heating during the winter become a luxury?

Canadians work hard. They have demonstrated resilience and hard work to support their families and help their neighbours throughout the pandemic, even now, when the price of everything drifts further out of reach. Ironically, this coincides directly with the NDP-Liberal government's drifting further out of touch with how much it costs to live under its inflationary nonsense. Canadians deserve better than choosing between heating their homes for the winter or putting food on the table for themselves and their families.

Furthermore, we Conservatives are calling on the NDP-Liberal government to stop the inflationary spending and strongly consider reinvesting that back into the Canadian economy by creating more things that money can buy: more Canadian energy, more Canadian products and more Canadian jobs.

We are also calling on the government to manage its inflationary spending for once, by matching new spending with equivalent savings elsewhere to rein in inflation as well as to stop the inflationary deficits that drive the costs of everything up. It is no lie that Canadians' paycheques are no longer going as far as they used to and their dreams of a brighter future are fading.

None of our practical solutions to curb inflation were reflected in the fall economic statement, and for that reason, we Conservatives cannot stand by the inflationary updates outlined in Bill C-32. The NDP-Liberal government had every opportunity to understand that its approach does nothing to serve Canadians, yet it moved forward with its problematic plan anyway.

From the lengthy lineups at airports, to the painfully slow passport processing, the wasteful ArriveCAN app and, even now, Bill C-32, the NDP-Liberal government has proven that it is incapable of addressing inflation and meeting the basic needs of Canadians. The cost of government is driving up the cost of living for Canadians. The Liberals are out of touch and Canadians are out of time. Winter is here and the government should do everything better to prevent Canadians from choosing between eating or heating this winter.

This government likes to pretend that there was no other choice than to double the debt. While the Prime Minister spends $6,000 a night on the most expensive hotel room in London, Canadians are barely able to afford home heating or a roof over their heads. When Canadians are struggling to pay for groceries, this government tells them to tighten their belts and, further, to cancel their Disney+ subscriptions. The Liberal government likes to call the carbon tax a price on pollution while its members are chauffeured everywhere they go. Canadians on the other hand have to pinch pennies at the pumps.

This government once stated that the country's debt would not exceed $10 billion. It lied. In fact, over 40% of new spending was not related to the pandemic at all. That is $205 billion of inflationary spending. On top of that, interest rates are skyrocketing at an unprecedented pace. Mortgage payments are becoming unaffordable and most young people do not even think about buying a home at all any more. Canada is one of the largest, richest, most proudly diverse countries in the world, yet Canada has had the second most inflated housing bubble.

Canadians deserve better than just being able to afford to get by. They deserve security, opportunity and a fiscally responsible government. Instead of printing more and more cash to throw around, we Conservatives believe in creating more of what cash buys, bolstering our economy and making more quality jobs and opportunities for Canadians.

We are lucky enough to be in a country so full of resources, so why are we not investing more proudly in Canadian products, such as food and energy, instead of importing oil from other countries? The NDP-Liberal government loves to claim environmental protection for the tripling carbon tax, but it chooses to import oil from other countries, which costs more in funds and emissions to ship, trains and trucks into Canadian households.

Instead of providing people with one-time rent support cheques, which only helps a fraction of Canadians, we Conservatives urge this government to cut the red tape, quit the gatekeeping and get shovels into the ground to build more affordable housing for Canadians. It is time that the Liberals understand the real consequences of their wasteful spending and listen to Conservative solutions. It is time for the government to show more compassion and stop the inflationary recklessness. It is time for the government to stop spending and stop the tax hikes.

Fall Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2022Government Orders

November 21st, 2022 / 4:55 p.m.
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Conservative

Jeremy Patzer Conservative Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Madam Speaker, I rise to join the debate today on Bill C-32 as the government tries to push through some of its fall economic update. Not only are we talking about yet another bad bill, but again, it is trying to rush through the process of us reviewing it.

We saw this morning the government wants to cut short our debate by limiting it until the end of the day. To be clear, when I say “government” in this case, it applies to something more than what the Minister of Finance and the government House leader, as cabinet members, are supposed to represent when they introduce their bills or motions. It is something more than the wider Liberal caucus in this place that has stood by and supported the government's decision no matter the cost it brings to Canadians.

What is happening right now actually goes back to the agreement made earlier this year with the NDP. Yes, we are starting to see the NDP-Liberal coalition back in action.

It reminds me of when, not too long ago, Canadians first learned about a deal between the Liberals and the NDP. Everybody knew it was a convenient arrangement for these two parties to help each other stay in business, but they have been downplaying it from the time they announced it. They tried to pass it off as a working agreement on a small number of points where they had some mutual understanding. However, over here in the opposition, we have already seen what is going on, and Canadians outside this place can see it too.

The NDP and the Liberals will not dare to call themselves a coalition, but the whole time they have behaved like they are a majority government in Parliament. Back in the spring, it did not take long for them to bring forward a motion to push through government bills. The most shocking part of it might have been that it allowed a minister to move, without notice, a motion to adjourn the House until we would resume months later in September. Such a motion would be decided immediately without debate or amendment.

From early in May, the opposition was left waiting to see if the government would suddenly shut down Parliament for months. It was a strange thing to give the government such power if there was never actually a chance or need for it to be used.

At the same time, the motion also allowed the government to change the parliamentary schedule and give next to no notice. A minister could rise a minute before adjournment and declare we are sitting until midnight on a government bill. This introduced a lot of uncertainty into the whole process, not just for members but for parliamentary staff like our interpreters, who have had to work throughout these proceedings.

The Liberals and the NDP would have to explain to me the practicality of a lot of this happening without them working so closely together to coordinate the agenda and prepare for any last-minute changes. It would be exactly like if they were all part of a government trying to keep the opposition on its toes and undermine our important work. As we have heard from the government so often, it made it seem like this was only temporary and that it expired before the summer break. Then we all came back and it seems to be happening all over again.

First, the Liberals and the NDP used a special motion to rush Bill C-31 through the House with late-night debates and committee meetings. The result is more inflationary spending, which might fulfill part of their political agreement but is not the right solution for what Canadians are going through and asking for at this moment in time. However, that was not enough for the coalition. Last week, it passed another motion similar to the one it used before the summer, so now it can play games with the opposition again until the end of June.

It is a clear pattern. It is even more troubling to see it come from a party that is supposed to be in opposition and still officially pretends it is. Instead, it is enabling the Liberals to avoid accountability as a minority Parliament. That is what they are doing again with Bill C-32 today. However, none of this will stop us Conservatives from doing our jobs and doing our best to stand up against the desperate decisions of a government in decline.

Right now there is a cost of living crisis caused by inflation and interest rates, and they are failing to address it. The cost of groceries went up at the fastest pace in 40 years, and people have had to pay the highest gas prices ever. While Canadians are forced to cut back on spending, we are not seeing the government show fiscal restraint or provide tax relief. Instead, it continues to waste taxpayer dollars and weaken the foundation of our economy, especially by attacking our energy sector.

With that in mind, it is ironic to read this part of the economic update:

There is no country better placed than Canada to weather the coming global economic slowdown and thrive in the years ahead. We have the most talented and resilient workforce in the world, and we are a country that skilled workers want to move to. We have the key resources the global economy needs, and as we enter an era of friendshoring and our closest partners shift their strategic reliance from dictatorships to democracies, they are looking to Canada to provide them with those resources.

It is the last part of that statement that I find the most interesting. The government, from day one, has spent the last seven years attacking the development and growth of our natural resources sector here in Canada. During that entire time, the Conservatives have defended Canada's great potential to supply the world's needs, while our industry follows higher standards for respecting human rights and the environment. We keep saying it and the government ignores it time and time again. Even now, I doubt it really even cares to get it.

The sad reality is that the government is hurting the same sector that would strengthen our economy and support our allies all over the world. We have already seen that the federal government's past decisions have limited Canada's ability to help Europe as much as we otherwise could have during an energy crisis, but what is worse is that the government still does not have the willingness to rise to the occasion with Canadian energy. We saw that when the German Chancellor personally came here on a special trip and the Prime Minister gave him a disappointing response. The Chancellor came here looking for Canadian LNG to help wean Germany off its dependency on Russia, and he was told “no”.

The Liberals are not going to reverse their anti-energy policies, which they will continue to expand. One of the new and subtle ways they are doing this is through a shares tax. They are not saying it openly, of course, but the industry has raised it as a concern. What is even more telling, though, is that opponents of the energy sector have also pointed to this tax as something that specifically targets Canadian oil and gas.

The likely result is that there will be damage done to Canadian jobs and industry more than anything else. It is also going to help drive carbon leakage into other areas run by dictators, like some of these overseas places we are importing oil from and other countries are dependent on when they should instead be focused on Canadian oil and gas. As usual, the Liberals pretend to go after big business, while their policies make life more expensive for all Canadians, including the most vulnerable. It is exactly the opposite of what is needed while facing economic hardship.

This is the same government that weakened our economy before it had to go through stressful events, and then decided to make it worse with wasteful spending. The Liberals' economic update proves that they have not learned much from their mistakes. As a case in point, the Liberals are going to raise the carbon tax, even though it has been a big part of the problem in terms of the cost of food and fuel. They say it is an environmental plan, but it is really nothing but a tax plan.

Along with that, the Liberals are failing to support workers and communities affected by their mandated coal transition. I represent some of these communities, alongside the member for Souris—Moose Mountain. Rockglen and Willow Bunch are such communities that are in my riding, and this year the environment commissioner's audit has shown that so far, the transition program is shaping up to leave these communities and their workforce behind. In fact, it goes so far as to say there is a complete lack of a plan, and that over the pandemic the Liberals have taken the last two years completely off, while not even allowing an extra two years in lieu for these communities to get their orders in line to be able to meet this transition from the government, but without the government's help.

There are a lot of talented people who are doing the best they can to prepare for this coming change, but again, as I just alluded to, there is still no planning and no attention from the government. These places still are not getting the answers they need for the future. When I look at the economic update, it still seems like this not a real priority for the Liberals, and that they will continue to break their promise to these coal communities.

These are the things we need to talk about while the government tries to shut down debate. These are things that should have been brought up in the fall economic update and have not been brought up, which is why we need this time to be debating this here today.

The Liberals are once again missing an opportunity, and they will continue to use the same kinds of decisions that brought us here, to where we are, where they limit debate along with the help of the NDP, and Canadians cannot afford it anymore.

Fall Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2022Government Orders

November 21st, 2022 / 4:50 p.m.
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Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook Nova Scotia

Liberal

Darrell Samson LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence

Madam Speaker, I want to congratulate my colleague on a very well delivered speech. I would expect nothing less from a man of wisdom, one with so many years of experience.

He delivered a speech that showed a great deal of concern for Canadians, and I thank him very much for that, as well as for his work and his words.

I would like to address a few points in his speech. I would like my colleague to respond to them with his own comments.

In terms of our investments in health care, we spent an additional $2 billion not too long ago to try and catch up on surgeries that were delayed because of the pandemic. That was on top of the $4.5 billion that was added during the pandemic, also to help Canadians.

With respect to Bill C‑32, I would like to remind my colleague that the Canada workers benefit will also help those in need.

Fall Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2022Government Orders

November 21st, 2022 / 4:35 p.m.
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Bloc

Louis Plamondon Bloc Bécancour—Nicolet—Saurel, QC

Madam Speaker, Bill C-32 has more bulk than substance. My colleagues were right in saying so earlier.

Bill C-32 contains 25 different tax measures and a dozen or so non-tax measures. That may seem like a lot, but there are in fact two kinds of measures. Some are minor amendments, like the ones this Parliament adopts on a regular basis to comply with court rulings, treaties and new accounting policies or to correct an unintended effect of an act, while others were already announced in the spring 2022 budget but had not been incorporated into the first budget implementation bill in June.

Simply put, like the economic statement of November 3, 2022, Bill C-32 does not include any measures to address the new economic reality brought on by the high cost of living and a possible recession. It is a bill that does not do any harm but does not deserve much praise either. At the same time, it is not a total disappointment, because it does contain a few positive measures.

The Bloc Québécois takes issue with an economic update that mentions the inflation problem 108 times but offers no additional support to vulnerable people, such as the elderly or those who have lost their jobs. It offers no solutions, despite the fact that a recession is expected to hit in 2023. Quebeckers concerned about the high cost of living will find little comfort in this economic update. They will have to make do with what is basically the next step in the implementation of last spring's budget.

The Bloc Québécois asked the government to focus on its fundamental responsibilities toward vulnerable people, such as increasing health transfers, which I will come back to, adequately supporting people aged 65 and over, and immediately reforming the EI program, which is the best stabilizer in times of economic difficulty. The government dismissed our proposals. We can only denounce this as a missed opportunity to help Quebeckers deal with the tough times that they are already going through or may face in the months to come.

With respect to health care, there is an ongoing standoff between the federal government on one side and Quebec and the provinces on the other. The Bloc Québécois asked the federal government to agree to the unanimous request of Quebec and the provinces to increase health transfers immediately, permanently and unconditionally. Let us not forget that, in 1993, former minister Paul Martin decided to erase the federal deficit by cutting health transfers from 50% to 25%. The provinces were in crisis. Since then, no government has been interested in getting funding back up to that 50% over time. We would be happy with a boost to 35%, but the government has not only failed to restore funding to where it was, it has reduced it to 22%.

That is unacceptable. This injustice must be corrected. Sick people and health care workers are the ones suffering. ER doctors are warning that our hospitals have reached the breaking point, but the federal government is not taking action. Obviously, it would much rather prolong the health care funding crisis in the hope of breaking the provinces' united front so it can convince them to accept less than they are asking for.

I would remind the House that sections 92 and 93 of the Canadian Constitution state very clearly that the only role of the federal Parliament is to transfer money to the provinces without any conditions. When I look at the various political parties here in Ottawa, I often wonder if they are proud to be Canadian. I am very proud to be a Quebecker, and if there were a Quebec constitution, the first thing I would do to express my pride would be to respect it. At the federal level, the Constitution is abundantly clear about health transfers. Why, then, does Ottawa choose not to respect the Constitution? Are those members proud to be Canadian, yes or no? Anyone who is proud to be Canadian would respect the country's Constitution.

Let us now talk about the two classes of seniors. This is the first time we see an attack on the universality of health programs. People between the ages of 65 and 74 continue to be denied the increase in old age security, which they need more than ever before. Seniors live on fixed incomes, so they cannot deal with such a sharp rise in the cost of living. Seniors are the most likely to have to make tough choices at the grocery store, the pharmacy or the gas pump. The government continues to penalize those who are less well-off and who would like to work more without losing their benefits. Unlike the government, inflation does not discriminate against seniors based on their age. Currently, Canada's income replacement rate, meaning the percentage of income that a senior retains at retirement, is one of the lowest in the OECD.

The increase in old age security should prevent demographic changes from significantly slowing economic activity. Contrary to what the government says, starving seniors aged 65 to 75 will not encourage them to remain employed. That is done by no longer penalizing them when they work.

There are several solutions that could help seniors. I would like to quote from a letter I received from Robert Bernatchez, who lives in my riding. His proposal is very acceptable, very simple to understand and very simple to implement, but for the time being the government is turning a deaf ear.

His letter reads as follows:

Dear Mr. [MP], allow me to share with you an initiative that may help seniors 65 to 74. They do not benefit from the increase to old age security, since the federal government increased the age of eligibility to 75.

Whereas the 10% increase to old age security is reserved for individuals 75 and older and this is unfair to individuals who have not reached that age. It should be noted that we had a universal plan starting at 65 for the old age security pension.

Whereas there is currently no permanent government measure that allows retirees 65 to 74 to increase their income to cope with growing inflation.

Whereas the message sent by the federal and provincial governments to retirees 65 to 74 is that “if you want more money then get a job to help address the pressing labour shortage and/or to increase your income”.

Whereas many retirees 65 to 74 do not want to return to work or they would have already done so.

Whereas these are the same people who helped build the Quebec and Canada of today. They have made invaluable contributions and now want to receive some help.

We, retirees aged 65 to 75, are calling on the federal government to change the eligibility criteria for the guaranteed income supplement to include the following.

When inflation exceeds 3%, the following measures will apply:

Retirees aged 65 to 75 who earn less than $50,000 in income, as entered on line 199 of their income tax return, can withdraw up to a maximum of $2,500 from their RRIFs without any reduction to their guaranteed income supplement. This measure will apply for the 2022 tax year. An adjustment will consequently be made to non-refundable federal tax credits to increase the amount of deductible pension income to $2,500.

Sir, I hope you will defend this new measure like you defended the earnings exemption for self-employed workers in 2019....

I hope the government will get the message.

Fall Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2022Government Orders

November 21st, 2022 / 4:35 p.m.
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Bloc

Luc Desilets Bloc Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Madam Speaker, does my colleague agree with me on the following?

Bill C-32 sets out 25 tax measures, but they are basically nothing but minor legislative amendments. Some measures that were announced were already in budget 2020. There is nothing new in Bill C-32 to help combat inflation.

Does he agree with me?

Fall Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2022Government Orders

November 21st, 2022 / 3:25 p.m.
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Bloc

Claude DeBellefeuille Bloc Salaberry—Suroît, QC

Madam Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise today as we debate the—what is it now?—18th or 19th time allocation motion so far.

It is hard to keep track because this habit has become so ingrained in how we operate. It is time allocation after time allocation. Maybe people will start using that expression. Time allocation used to be the exception, but now, since the pandemic, since the advent of the hybrid Parliament, it seems to have become common practice, and I think that is a shame. I think it is a shame to shut down democratic debate and take away what really matters in a Parliament: time and space to debate and air contrasting views.

That is why I am pleased to share some of my thoughts on Bill C‑32.

Before the economic statement, the Bloc Québécois had great expectations. We really wanted a conversation about health transfers. We were hoping for a sign that the government wanted to give Quebec and the provinces the health transfers they have been asking for so they can fulfill their responsibilities.

In Quebec, that means addressing the aging population and the significant issues with mental health services, which are lacking in number and scope to meet the demand. Unfortunately, there is nothing in the economic update about that.

My colleague from Shefford has said this, and the Bloc Québécois has said it, and it is one of our priorities. We do not understand how the government does not consider those between the ages of 65 and 74 to be people who need to regain a certain amount of purchasing power, especially with the inflation crisis. If there was ever a segment of the population that needed a helping hand, it is them. Increasing old age security would have really been good news, a sign that the government is listening to seniors, those who built the Quebec of today.

In the economic update, we really wanted to see the government's desire and firm resolve to overhaul employment insurance. Today, I will use the minutes at my disposal to speak in greater detail about the EI program and the need to reform it.

Today, as we speak, barely 40% of workers have access to EI.

That is sad because, as we know, the EI fund is an insurance program. That means that workers pay premiums on their paycheque and employers pay premiums, and the money goes to build the EI fund, an important reservoir for workers who need it. Unfortunately, although the fund is quite healthy at the moment, it does not actually serve the people who really need it. Access is restricted.

I am very committed to this cause. The Bloc Québécois has been asking for EI reform for years, and we do not understand the government's resistance.

As I like to remind everyone, I decided to run again in 2015, the year the Liberals campaigned on a promise of comprehensive EI reform. In 2019, they promised it again, and then again in 2021. It is promise after promise, but nothing ever happens. The government had included $5 million in its budget to conduct extensive consultations across the provinces and Canada to understand and gauge the needs of workers, employers and civil society, and yet, 18 months later, we still have nothing. There has been no proposal and no plan to reform EI, even though my colleague from Thérèse‑De Blainville made it a subject to be studied by her committee. The committee heard from many witnesses who expressed the needs and shortcomings of the current system, which, as we all know, really needs to be modernized and updated to be tailored to today's labour market.

Of course, we have a number of demands. Workers who have paid premiums all their lives but find themselves in a difficult situation, like if their business is forced to shut down and they have to rely on EI, receive benefits equivalent to 55% of their income. The Bloc Québécois believes that, in the overall reform, that percentage really needs to increase to 60%. I think this is reasonable, and the rate was 60% prior to 1993. I remember very clearly when it was reduced to 55% of income. This demand remains permanent and is also being made by all the stakeholders who support the unemployed and others.

In its overhaul of EI, we would also like the government to eliminate the one-week waiting period. I do not know the reason behind the one-week period, but it is in addition to the system's bureaucratic delays for those who lose their jobs. People do not choose to go on EI. They do so because they lose their jobs as a result of the closure of a business, layoffs or any number of other reasons. Because of this long waiting period, which really should not happen, claimants only receive their first payment after six weeks. At least, that was the waiting period before the government system was paralyzed, back when it was working well and the performance and service standards were met. That was in the old days. Now, someone who loses their job in early or mid-June will not receive a cheque until late September or early October, because the system is completely paralyzed.

Our demands for the reform are important, and we were hoping to see them reflected in the economic update. We wanted people with a serious illness to be able to get 50 to 52 weeks of special EI sickness benefits in the event they are unable to return to work.

As members know, in the last Parliament, I introduced a bill that proposed that. What is more, as we speak, Bill C‑215 has been studied in committee, and the majority of the members who sit on that committee voted in favour of ensuring that people who have a serious illness can take the time they need to fight the illness and recover their health without having to worry about their financial circumstances.

As things stand now, it pains me to see people get to the end of their 15th week of special benefits when they have not finished their cancer treatments, their chemotherapy or their radiation. By the next week, they will have nothing left to pay their bills.

The minister seems to be sympathetic to the situation, but I think it is unacceptable when she promises this will arrive in the summer, then in fall, then at Christmas. She keeps pushing the date back further and further. Although she has the budget to do this, she refuses to give a specific date that would give hope to those who are starting chemotherapy or radiation today or who are taking long-term sick leave to take care of themselves, so they can regain their strength and go back to work.

We have talked a lot about Marie-Hélène Dubé, a woman who had cancer a few years ago and who decided to fight to have EI sickness benefits increased to 52 weeks, because she had to re-mortgage her house to meet her responsibilities and take care of herself.

Unfortunately, in committee two weeks ago, she said that her cancer is back and she will not have time to heal before the end of her 15 weeks. She is reliving the nightmare she went through a few years ago. To my mind, that is unacceptable.

The Bloc Québécois will vote in favour of Bill C‑32, because it does contain some good measures, but I implore the government to take a step in the right direction by quickly agreeing to reform EI and to implement the special benefits program for sick workers as soon as possible.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-32, An Act to implement certain provisions of the fall economic statement tabled in Parliament on November 3, 2022 and certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on April 7, 2022, be read the second time and referred to a committee, and of the amendment.

Second ReadingFall Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2022Government Orders

November 21st, 2022 / 1:45 p.m.
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Bloc

Mario Beaulieu Bloc La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to hear from my colleague.

Bill C-32 is notable for what it does not contain. Old age security was increased for people 75 years and older. This created a two-tiered system for old age security, because those between 65 and 75 got nothing.

In my colleague's opinion, should there be just one benefit? Should the benefit not be increased for all seniors, not just those 75 and over?

The House resumed from November 18 consideration of the motion that Bill C-32, An Act to implement certain provisions of the fall economic statement tabled in Parliament on November 3, 2022 and certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on April 7, 2022, be read the second time and referred to a committee, and of the amendment.

Bill C-32—Time Allocation MotionFall Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2022Government Orders

November 21st, 2022 / 12:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Randy Boissonnault Liberal Edmonton Centre, AB

Madam Speaker, I respect my hon. colleague and his comments on making sure we use time efficiently in the House. I will take his comment under advisement and discuss it with the government House leader.

Today is about making sure we can get Bill C-32 to committee so we can get back here for third reading, and then we would be able to get housing supports to people, get student loan interest removed for apprentices and students, reduce taxes on small businesses and do all the other good things for growing the economy that are included in the fall economic statement.

Bill C-32—Time Allocation MotionFall Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2022Government Orders

November 21st, 2022 / 12:30 p.m.
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NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Madam Speaker, by my count, I think that the vast majority of last week was spent debating Bill C-32. Unfortunately, the House cannot debate two bills at any one time. As a consequence of last week, Bill C-20, the important oversight legislation for both the CBSA and the RCMP, has been bumped to tomorrow.

People have been waiting for years for an effective oversight mechanism for both of these agencies. The CBSA has never had this kind of oversight. There are other interests in play. I know that the Conservatives would like to keep on debating Bill C-32, but indigenous people in Canada, racialized people and so many people who have been at the wrong receiving end of both the RCMP and the CBSA have been waiting years for this important accountability and oversight legislation.

I hope that, after we get through Bill C-32 and it is sent to committee, I have a commitment from the government that Bill C-20 will get the priority it deserves.

We waited in the 42nd Parliament for Bill C-98 when that member was here. We waited in the last Parliament for Bill C-3 and we now, finally, have Bill C-20. I want to see a commitment that this bill will get the time it deserves.