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

Report stage (House), as of Dec. 1, 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

Fall Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2022Government Orders

November 14th, 2022 / 4:30 p.m.
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Bloc

Alain Therrien Bloc La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, in Quebec, fortunately, we use electricity most of the time for heating.

It is simple: When we talk about the carbon tax, that does not apply to Quebec. In Quebec we have the carbon exchange. It is not the same thing. It is not just the term that is different. The entire system is different. When we hear them talk about that, we have very little interest in what they have to say because it does not really affect us.

The thing that surprises me the most is to see the Conservatives from Quebec get worked up into a lather about getting rid of the carbon tax. I do not get it, because that does not affect them at all.

Fall Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2022Government Orders

November 14th, 2022 / 4:30 p.m.
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Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Chris d'Entremont

It is my duty pursuant to Standing Order 38 to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, Taxation; the hon. member for Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes, Public Safety; the hon. member for Abitibi—Témiscamingue, Sports.

The Chair would like to take a moment to remind members of the purpose of adjournment proceedings. The late show is a vehicle for brief exchanges on matters initially raised during question period for which a member remains dissatisfied with the response provided, and members themselves select which of their questions they want to raise again during the adjournment proceedings.

Both the member raising the issue and the minister or parliamentary secretary responding are expected to address the matter for which notice was given. As such, members should not be surprised if they are interrupted by the Chair in cases where their interventions are off topic.

Continuing debate, we have the hon. member for Mirabel.

Fall Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2022Government Orders

November 14th, 2022 / 4:35 p.m.
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Bloc

Jean-Denis Garon Bloc Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I wish I could say that it is with great enthusiasm that I rise today, but for me to be truly enthusiastic, I would have had to see something new in the economic update. There really was not much there. As my colleague from La Prairie said earlier, it merely dusts off and updates some old legislation. It is an implementation act and a very long document, but there is not much in terms of real content.

There is one new aspect, though. Once again, as my colleague mentioned earlier, we are doing something we did not do last March when the budget was presented. We are talking about inflation more than anything else. The word “inflation” appears in the document roughly 110 times and is referred to ad nauseam. There is also the prospect of a recession now and, for the first time, the document includes an official forecast of a slowdown for two consecutive quarters. This is an extremely important observation. We are talking about inflation and we are anticipating a recession.

As my colleague from La Prairie said, the situation is such that we are being told that inflation is very serious, and the Prime Minister is doing what he likes to do when he goes on a trip to India: He dresses up as a sorcerer, a magician or whatever, and thinks that repeating it 10, 20, 50, 100 or 120 times will make the problem disappear. However, the people struggling with inflation every day in their homes do realize that 80% of all the money announced and spent in this budget update had already been announced either in Bill C-30 or Bill C-31, or still in the last budget or one-off announcements. That is why there is almost nothing in there.

Part of what is new is that it provides for workers to access certain benefits, to which they are already entitled, a bit sooner. People in Saint-Colomban, Saint-Joseph-du-Lac or Sainte-Anne-des-Plaines who are facing inflation and are afraid of losing their jobs will look at this and surely see that it is largely a rehash.

What should have been proposed? The last election campaign was my first. One of the highlights of the campaign was when the Liberal Party went to the public for ideas. The Liberals called the election even though they did not know what to do. They did not even have a platform. They went door to door and had nothing to say. One suggestion in their suggestion box could have been to fulfill the promise they made seven years ago, which was to make major reforms to the employment insurance system.

Workers are sometimes overcome by life's misfortunes. They may have to go through a recession and face COVID-19 while paying for groceries that now cost 10% more. Currently, not even one in two workers qualifies for EI even though they have paid into the system every paycheque, and their employer has paid into the system every paycheque. The government must reform the system. However, we know that a Liberal promise is basically only good for being torn up and thrown away, much like the motions we vote on in the House.

This government does not know how to listen. Even when it takes a step forward, it fails to implement its very own measures. The Bloc Québécois asked for 50 weeks of benefits for people with serious illnesses, such as cancer, who need treatment for long periods of time. If people are undergoing chemo and not applying for jobs, I think it is fair to say they are not trying to rob the system. The Liberals thought 26 weeks of benefits was fair. That measure was voted on in the House and is ready to roll out, but to this day, workers are not getting even one extra week because cabinet has not passed the order in council. It has been 18 months and still no order in council. That is the very definition of a lack of political will, a lack of empathy for people, a lack of respect for Parliament, a lack of consideration for members of the public, for Quebeckers, for Canadians, for workers and for sick people. The Liberals' appalling failure to take action on employment insurance is a manifestation of all those things.

I had hoped there would be something in the statement about climate change, at least. The energy transition is an opportunity to transform our economy, an opportunity to invest, innovate and export. We have to unlock that potential.

The Prime Minister could not even be bothered to go to COP27. He is known for his judgment, so he surely had something less important to do. He did not go to COP27. We said to ourselves that at least the Minister of Environment, who is a reasonable guy, would go to COP27. Since the Prime Minister was not going with him, the minister was lonely and said he would invite some friends. He called the Royal Bank of Canada, one of the largest financial backers of oil projects, western Canadians and oil people. It seems that there was partying going on in Egypt at the Canada pavilion. Oil spill shots were served, people were standing on tables at midnight or 1 a.m. and they sang O Canada after 3 a.m. It seems that the oil people and the environment minister were really partying.

Now, the minister is saying that it was very important to invite them because they have a role to play in the transition. My colleague from La Prairie would say that it is like inviting Dracula to a blood bank. Those are his words.

My grandfather, who was a very wise man, used to say, “Tell me what company you keep and I will tell you who you are”. Today, we know who the Liberals are, and it is reflected in the budget update. The Liberals tell us that they are supposedly going to eliminate subsidies to oil companies, which is not the case, because they are only eliminating some of them. One positive aspect, though, is flow-through shares.

However, the government is subsidising small modular nuclear reactors. These reactors are only being sent to Alberta and the north to be used at oil sands processing facilities to produce more oil.

Does anyone know of any person, city or street in Canada that needs a small nuclear power plant on a skateboard on a street corner? Does anyone think they are for domestic use? No, these are oil subsidies. That is what the government is shamelessly doing. I wonder how the Liberals wake up in the morning feeling good about themselves when they say one thing and do the opposite. I would have a hard time with that and would struggle to look in the mirror every morning even just to shave. Maybe that is why the environment minister has a beard. Perhaps he struggles to look in the mirror to shave.

There is nothing for health care. As the Minister of Health said, this is a futile debate, and the money is not important. He wants to pay his doctors with love and sunshine. I hope he has good genes. He says that funding is not important, because the provinces have money. This is the new strategy. The provinces have been helping people with inflation by sending cheques, so that means they have money.

We look at the budget statement, in which the Liberals claim that they will reduce the federal debt to GDP ratio from 45% to 37% in a few years. They tell us that they have the money.

The week when the Liberals told us that the provinces have too much money, they announce in their statement cheques to reimburse the goods and services tax. They announce measures, but the provinces do not have the right to do anything at all. Essentially, what the Liberals are telling us is not to spend any more money on education or child care, not to help our seniors any more, not to build any more roads, to give up on public transit and certainly not move into an energy transition because as soon as we spend one penny, we will be told that we should have invested in health. According to their argument, which is flawed and preposterous, we should close down schools to prove to them that we truly need money for health. It is plain to see how the federal government is part of the problem.

Ottawa has money to subsidize the oil companies. It has money for that. Today, it had money for a military intervention. It can give money to Asian countries to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars, as announced today. There is money in Ottawa.

There is money to undermine our public dental plans for children. They have money for that. There is money for GST rebate cheques, to lower the second tax bracket for people who make $90,000, $100,000 and more. That is what they call the middle class because they assume that people cannot count. There is money for permanent facilities on Roxham Road for Liberal donor friends. They have money for that.

The Liberals need to stand up, show some backbone, meet with the health ministers and get the money out.

Fall Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2022Government Orders

November 14th, 2022 / 4:45 p.m.
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Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, there are many aspects of the fall economic statement that I thought the Bloc would in fact support. We can talk, for example, of the Canada growth fund, an investment that, using our tax system, is going to ensure that we have a greener economy. I would think that is an aspect the Bloc would support.

I get it. There are some other aspects. Bloc members will say that sustainable development in their natural resources is not possible. The Conservatives will say we are not doing enough and we are neglecting the areas that the Bloc would argue we should neglect more.

Do Bloc members actually support the fall economic statement, or will they be voting against it?

Fall Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2022Government Orders

November 14th, 2022 / 4:45 p.m.
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Bloc

Jean-Denis Garon Bloc Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, we have already said that we are going to vote in favour of it because the bar has gotten so low with the Liberals that we are now saying that they could have done worse. I hope they are happy with that. That is the highest compliment I can pay them today.

Having said that, this government is the world's foremost greenwashing champion. It is easy for the Liberals to call this or that a green transition fund, except that the reality is that the growth of the oil sands industry out west is still central to the future of the Canadian economy for them.

I am not criticizing them for having a rotten economic statement from top to bottom. What I criticizing them for, as I have since I was elected, and what I criticized them for prior to being elected, is their profound lack of ambition for the future of Quebec and Canada.

Fall Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2022Government Orders

November 14th, 2022 / 4:45 p.m.
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NDP

Peter Julian NDP New Westminster—Burnaby, BC

Mr. Speaker, there is one element of this bill that barely scratches the surface of the problem of tax havens and the $30 billion that leaves Canada every year. The government is proposing measures that will recover roughly $600 million out of the $30 billion. That does not go far enough, in my view.

I would like to ask my colleague a question on this topic. In his opinion, is it enough to reclaim 2% of the $30 billion of taxpayer money that goes to tax havens every year?

Fall Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2022Government Orders

November 14th, 2022 / 4:45 p.m.
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Bloc

Jean-Denis Garon Bloc Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I know those are big numbers, but in the grand scheme of the federal government's budget, $600 million rounded up is zero. Recovering $600 million is a drop in the bucket when it comes to a problem as big as tax evasion and tax avoidance.

Not to mention that the government actually encourages it. I asked the Minister of National Revenue about KPMG. In the U.S., charges have been laid for tax evasion and avoidance schemes, but, in Canada, there has been no investigation, no digging and no desire to make the truth or any information at all known to the public. The government actually seems to be doing its utmost to prevent an investigation.

This despite the fact that the minister legally has the power and the right to investigate. On behalf of the Government of Canada, the Minister of National Revenue is basically telling corporations that want to steal from Canadian taxpayers to go right ahead and help themselves.

Fall Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2022Government Orders

November 14th, 2022 / 4:50 p.m.
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Bloc

Sébastien Lemire Bloc Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, would my colleague go so far as to say that this economic statement is futile?

Fall Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2022Government Orders

November 14th, 2022 / 4:50 p.m.
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Bloc

Jean-Denis Garon Bloc Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, is it futile? It is not nearly as futile as what the Minister of Health said.

Then again, there was an opportunity here. In fact, a budget is presented every year, in March, and there are updates and implementation bills, like the one before us today. The government has the opportunity to put forward more measures, to implement them quickly, but also to present them to the public. When we are dealing with a budgetary or quasi-budgetary exercise like the one we are debating today, the public pays more attention, journalists pay more attention.

The fact that this opportunity was completely wasted and this statement mostly recycles old items shows just how tired and uninspired this government is.

Fall Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2022Government Orders

November 14th, 2022 / 4:50 p.m.
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NDP

Peter Julian NDP New Westminster—Burnaby, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to start by talking about a meeting I had a few minutes ago before I entered the House. It was with two remarkable young people in Canada, Shay Larkin and Andrei Marti. They are two kids who represent Kids For a Cure from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. They are here on Parliament Hill with their mothers, Marsha Larkin and Annelise Brown. Our rules do not permit me to say they are in the gallery, so I will not do that, but this is—

Fall Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2022Government Orders

November 14th, 2022 / 4:50 p.m.
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Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Chris d'Entremont

I would like to say, as a type 1 dad, that it is good to have them in the gallery.

The hon. member for New Westminster—Burnaby.

Fall Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2022Government Orders

November 14th, 2022 / 4:50 p.m.
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NDP

Peter Julian NDP New Westminster—Burnaby, BC

Thanks, Mr. Speaker. I appreciate your help in circumventing the rules. That is very kind and much appreciated.

They are here for a cure and for more funding so we can get the cure for juvenile diabetes. This is extremely important and we welcome their presence on Parliament Hill. This is a sign of the kinds of investments that need to be made, but they are, sadly, not being made through the fall economic update.

There are a number of things in the update that I think we can all support. First is the NDP drive for years to take the interest off apprenticeship and student loans. The NDP has pushed on this for years. Members will recall that when COVID hit back in 2020, on March 13 I was pleased to rise in the parliamentary press gallery to push the government, along with my NDP caucus colleagues, to remove the interest on student loans and to freeze repayment during the COVID pandemic.

To the government's credit, it did move in that regard, but it had not taken the move that so many student groups and students across the country, as well as the NDP caucus, the member for Burnaby South and I, had been pushing for years: that the government should not be profiting anymore from student loans. This is the debt that students undertake in this country for apprenticeship and student loans to gain the skills that will contribute to a vital economy in this country. The government should not be profiting from that, and it is something the NDP has been pressuring this Parliament and the government on for many years. We have finally achieved it, and the interest on the federal portion of student and apprenticeship loans will be eliminated. That is a welcome action, subject to the NDP pushing this consistently and constantly in Parliament.

Also, the government finally took action on what has been a profound loss on behalf of Canadians, and that is the massive amounts of money made by large corporations and the ultrarich in Canada that is taken overseas. The member for Burnaby South, who is our leader, and the NDP caucus have been calling for years for the government to put in place fair tax rules so that everybody pays their fair share. The Parliamentary Budget Officer estimates that it was $25 billion a year under the former Harper government and is now over $30 billion a year. That is money that could be spent on so many other things, but instead it goes to overseas tax havens and tax loopholes.

For Shay, Andrei and their parents, imagine the investments we could make to find a cure for juvenile diabetes. Instead of having $30 billion going offshore, we could have substantial investments in our health care system and in research. This would make a big difference in finding a cure. It would make a big difference in the quality of our health care system. It is $30 billion that is lost, and this is a minimum. As we know from the Parliamentary Budget Officer, which always admits there is a certain margin, the conservative figure, meaning a modest underestimate of the final amount of money that goes to overseas tax havens and tax loopholes, is now over $30 billion a year.

Given that context, what would the government do? Would the government step up and curb that? The member for Burnaby South called for an excess profits tax, such as we had in the Second World War. During COVID, this was something the NDP repeatedly raised. In the Second World War, at the height of crisis, an excess profits tax was put in place that allowed companies that were benefiting from increased profits to pay their fair share in contributing to the war effort.

As a result of that, Canadians were able to play such an important role in bringing an end to the massive hatred and genocide that was engendered by Nazism and fascism in Europe. That was absolutely fundamental.

The NDP have called for an excess profits tax. The NDP have called for a windfall profits tax, as we have seen oil and gas companies making windfall profits. The big grocery giant chains have been making windfall profits with inflation, raising their prices far beyond, which has engendered the term “greedflation”. That is a result of the fact that we have companies now profiting from inflation by jacking up their prices even more than what the inflation figures would actually justify. That greedflation has promoted and forced incredible hardship on Canadian families from coast to coast to coast.

We called for an excess profits tax. We called for a windfall profits tax. Ultimately, Liberals stepped up in this fall economic statement. They stepped up. Again, the figure is over $30 billion a year. Given the hardship that Canadians are facing and the importance of putting in place investments that will make a difference in their lives, in this corner of the House, the NDP have been fighting hard.

We have succeeded in getting dental care in place, and we know now that families will be able to pay for their children's dental work for kids 12 and under. Next year it will be youth 18 and under, seniors and people with disabilities. We forced a rental supplement that will be paid out to well over a million Canadians who are struggling to pay for their rent right now, and we forced a doubling of the GST to make sure that over 12 million Canadians who have lower incomes will actually have the wherewithal to put food on the table. These are all things that we forced.

We believe that our role is to continue to push Parliament and the government to provide supports to Canadians who are really struggling at this tough time. To do that, we need to make sure we close the loopholes and stop the hemorrhaging of tax dollars by big corporations and the ultrarich's overseas tax havens. As I mentioned, the figure is $30 billion.

I am asking a rhetorical question, but what percentage would colleagues think a responsible government, in a time of crisis, would actually start to curb that hemorrhaging of money to overseas tax havens, those windfall profits, those excess profits? What percentage would it be?

Mr. Speaker, if it were you or I running our household expenditures, I do not think we would be talking in the single digits. I think we would be talking about the idea that we all need to contribute, at this critical time, to the effort to provide Canadians with supports, including those for seniors and people with disabilities. The disability benefit and all of those things need to be put in place. At $30 billion, one would want to take a substantial proportion of that because that is money that could be helping Canadians but is being taken from Canadians and taken overseas.

Did the government take 20%? No, it did not. Did it take 15%? No, it did not. Did it take even 10%? That would be a very modest amount of money, which should be paid into public coffers to help all of us, the commonwealth in this country.

The fact is that Canadians pay their taxes assiduously, honestly, with integrity every year. Small businesses file their tax returns. People with disabilities file their tax returns. Families file their tax returns. People file their tax returns. They pay their fair share to provide that support that all Canadians can hopefully benefit from. Big corporations and the ultrarich do not do this.

One would think that 10% would be a relatively small amount but the government did not even go there. It did not go to 9%, 8%, 7%, 6% or even 5%, 4% or 3%. The sum total of the government's attempt to curb massive overseas tax evasion, windfall profits by the banks and big corporations, is a tax that will bring in about 2% of that amount. It applies to banks and life insurance groups, and that is it. It is 2%.

There is a real problem with Bill C-32. Yes, there is the NDP influence. New Democrats pushed proposals that would make a difference in the lives of Canadian students, and there are the other elements that we brought to bear over the course of the last few weeks, including the doubling of the GST credit, ensuring dental care and ensuring rental supports. All of those things do make a difference.

However, above all, this fall economic statement is a lost opportunity. It is a lost opportunity for Shay and Andrei and all of those activists in Kids for a Cure, who are looking for support for Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. It is a lost opportunity for those seniors who are struggling to make ends meet and really need support for an increase in their pensions. It is a lost opportunity when we compare, as far as student loans are concerned, the significant measures taken by the Biden administration in the United States to what we see here. Eliminating interest is an important NDP initiative, but it falls far short of what is actually needed.

Last spring, in the budget, the NDP forced significant investments in housing so that they start to build the housing required to make sure that every Canadian has a roof over their head at night and has that right to housing, and we are going to see the product of that in the coming year or two. However, we still have a long way to go. This fall economic statement is, again, a lost opportunity because there is not that increase in investments that could have made such a difference.

It is a lost opportunity when it comes to taking the GST off home heating. Members will recall that just a few weeks ago, on a Conservative opposition day, we proposed an amendment that would have taken the GST off of home heating. To the surprise of all of us, because in 2019 the Conservatives campaigned on taking the GST off home heating, when the NDP made that proposal for the amendment, they said no, which kind of flies in the face of it. When they make commitments on the campaign trail, they should keep them in the House of Commons. The Conservatives chose not to keep that commitment in the House of Commons. Therefore, this was another lost opportunity in the fall economic statement.

Above all, the issue of tax fairness in this country is becoming a huge and growing problem. We have needs to be met. We have an infrastructure deficit. We have Canadians who are struggling to make ends meet. We really need to have a tax system that ensures that everybody pays their fair share. We know that regular families do. We know that seniors do. We know that people with disabilities do and students do. They file their tax returns. They pay what they owe. We grumble sometimes when we do that, but we understand that there is something better and that is why we make those contributions.

We want to build a better country. We want a country where everybody can benefit and where nobody is left behind. We want to build a country where there is housing for everybody.

The member of Parliament for Nunavut has been an incredible campaigner and incredibly outspoken on the dearth of housing in Nunavut and the housing crisis up there. For a fraction of that $30 billion that goes offshore every year, we could be providing supports so that the people of Nunavut actually get the housing they deserve. These would be supports for housing for people right across the country and indigenous-led housing developments right across the country because, in so many first nations communities, housing is simply not there. We can provide housing for everybody in this country.

We can provide supports for everybody, including a disability benefit, which the NDP campaigned on. We continue to push the government to actually establish that benefit, and not just talk about but put in place, so it starts helping people today, including people with disabilities.

As members know, as we have seen the growing food bank lineups across the country, more than half of those people who are lining up are people with disabilities. We can provide those benefits now with tax fairness. We have the wherewithal to make those investments in housing and to make those investments to ensure that people get a basic level of income to allow them to live in dignity. We can provide the supports for our health care system so that we can ensure we are moving to an even better health care system.

The architect of our health care system, Tommy Douglas, always believed that it was the funding that was so essential. What we have seen under previous governments, both Conservative and now the current Liberal government, is an erosion of that funding, which has led to a deterioration of our public health care system, an institution that Canadians hold dear. We have to make sure that we are reinvesting in health care, and that includes reinvesting in research, which brings me back to Shay Larkin and Andrei Marti, who are here on the Hill to talk about more money for research to find a cure for juvenile diabetes.

There are many other advocates who come to the Hill who need funding, and sometimes remarkably small amounts compared with the $30 billion that we blow away every year to overseas tax havens to help the ultrarich and big corporations increase their profits. However, often for a very small fraction of that money, we could have breakthrough cures for a whole range of diseases.

We can do that in this country. We should be able to do that in this country. We should be able to provide the funding to renew our infrastructure across the country. We should be able to find the funding to ensure that we can provide post-secondary education and apprenticeship training in the whole range of areas where we have skills shortages. We should be able to do all of those things, but that starts with tax fairness. Other countries have put in place windfall taxes and excess profits taxes. They have closed loopholes. They have ensured that they actually cut off that flow of money out of their country, which is really, in a sense, the theft of taxpayers' money.

The money that we keep as a commonwealth, that we put together collectively to ensure the health and well-being of all of our citizens, should be used properly. It is not supposed to be on a beach in the Bahamas. That money is supposed to be helping that senior in Smithers, British Columbia. That money is supposed to be helping in Iqaluit with the dearth of affordable housing that we have. It is supposed to be funding the Nanaimo infrastructure that we are seeing. It is supposed to be funding, in New Westminster—Burnaby, supports for the Royal Columbian Hospital and Douglas College. These are all the things we can achieve when we have fair taxes.

Are there good things in the fall economic statement? Yes, and the NDP is proud to have pushed for those things and succeeded in getting them. However, does this fall economic statement fall short of what is needed? Absolutely, and there is a need for tax fairness that goes far beyond taking 2% of what is going to overseas tax havens. We can do that. One day there will be an NDP government in this country. When there is, we will see the kind of fair tax system that can make such a difference for all Canadians.

Fall Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2022Government Orders

November 14th, 2022 / 5:10 p.m.
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Kingston and the Islands Ontario

Liberal

Mark Gerretsen LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons (Senate)

Mr. Speaker, I am wondering if the member for New Westminster—Burnaby can speak to one of the comments that was made by a Conservative colleague, the member for Simcoe North, earlier. He said, “we do not have a student debt problem in this country.” I would argue that we do have a problem when it comes to education in this country. The problem is that more and more is being expected of young people now when it comes to education. However, more importantly, it is expected that they will bear the financial burden of it.

Four or five decades ago, one could get a publicly funded high school education and have a meaningful career afterwards that provided for oneself and one's family. Nowadays, a bachelor's degree is not even enough. People are expected to get a master's degree and further post-secondary degrees. However, it is all being done on the backs of their having to pay for it. Whereas, when it was my parents and their friends who were getting educated in high school, they could leave high school and get a good job, and they did not have to pay for it because the public system paid for it.

Does the member not agree that we do have a problem when it comes to education in this country and that we should be pushing for more government support to give people the quality of education needed to get meaningful employment afterwards?

Fall Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2022Government Orders

November 14th, 2022 / 5:10 p.m.
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NDP

Peter Julian NDP New Westminster—Burnaby, BC

Mr. Speaker, I completely agree, but first the government needs to take action on tax fairness. It cannot continue to hide in its shell and refuse to take action, with this hemorrhaging of tax dollars going overseas. It needs to take the steps. The NDP has laid out what it needs to do. All it needs to do is follow NDP leadership, and we will have those resources to start to renew the education sector.

It hurts the families tremendously, but it hurts many of the families because young people cannot go into those chosen professions. They cannot go $100,000 into debt or $120,000 into debt, so it means we end up losing the youth who go through the programs, have huge debt loads afterward, and end up basically having a mortgage on a future that takes 10 or 15 years to pay down. In my case, that is how long it took.

It also means we have skill shortages in every crucial area across the country. We are feeling it most acutely in the health care field, with the shortages of nurses and doctors. That is related to student debt.