Madam Speaker, I appreciate the time to debate Bill C-32, the fall fiscal update, as Canadians are hearing it. Sadly, the Liberals had a huge opportunity to help northern Canadians heat their homes and stay out of the food banks, but unfortunately, it does nothing to help northerners stay warm or buy groceries.
Let us start first with Yukon. The Yukon Party up there does a great job of really keeping its own Liberal government to account. A member of the Yukon Party, Wade Istchenko, speaks to what we have been saying in the House on the Liberal carbon tax. He said, “while this Liberal government promotes their federal counterpart's crippling carbon tax, everyday Yukoners sitting down with their families are trying to figure out how to finance this month's oil bill and buy groceries at the same time.”
The member from Winnipeg North says that everything is grand, and he even repeated it for me, but clearly it is not in the territories.
Cutting Disney+ does not do much to cover the $1,800 home heating fuel bill, so Yukon has become an unaffordable place to live under the Liberal government. I would like to mention that $1,800 is the first payment of many to heat our homes for the winter. It is not just Conservatives in Ottawa who are saying this. Members of the Yukon Party are agreeing that it is a huge problem to pay bills in the north. The Liberals have done nothing to address that with Bill C-32.
I will move now to Northwest Territories. We hear that the carbon tax is great. We even heard this evening that Canadians get thousands more back than they ever contribute. It is hogwash, and we all know it.
Another article's headline reads, “Bill to change N.W.T. carbon tax rebates would hurt remote communities the most, say MLAs.” Again, it is supposed to all be coming back, and more, but here is the truth on the ground in Northwest Territories.
The article continues, “The change comes in order to comply with new federal regulations that, in addition to increasing carbon prices, prohibit carbon tax rebates that directly reduce the impact of the carbon tax.”
I heard a member say, “What?” Again, Liberals talk a big game about supporting folks and how they are going to see most of their money back, and more, but they are actually getting in the way of a rebate that would see some of this federal carbon tax money get back to residents of Northwest Territories.
The article goes on, “Questioning the minister, Jackie Jacobson, MLA for Nunakput, said he understands 'the federal government is forcing our government's hand,' but argued 'there has to be a way that the [Government of Northwest Territories] can draw a line to stop rising costs for the residents in Nunakput.'
This is quite a different story than what we have heard. We are hearing from these guys on a daily basis that things are grand, and the NDP beside us here just goes along with it and says that everything is grand, while it is clearly not on the ground in the north. It is not good on the ground across the board in Canada for all Canadians, but especially in the north.
I will talk a bit about housing. In a recent announcement in Yellowknife, the Liberals announced more money for housing in the north. It sounds great on the outset, but how many times have we heard the announcements made but saw zero outcomes on the ground?
I was up in Nunavut and Inuvik, where I asked about this, and I have asked this question in the House before. I asked how many houses had been built this year, after the promises made by the Liberal government. How many houses were built in Nunavut? Zero were built.
We have announcement after announcement after announcement, yet zero houses and residences are getting built for the people in the territories. Promises do not matter. The member across the way from Northwest Territories will know that promises do not go very far when it is -20°C, -30°C or even worse, -40°C, especially when one does not have a place to live.
The promises come, but the impacts of just inflation are real on the ground. We see promises made for houses to get built, but this is what happened in Nunavut. An article from the CBC, related to inflation, states that in one case, inflation led to delays and to a contractor “backing out of a 10-unit Taloyoak project because the housing corporation took so long to award the contract, with building costs spiking in the meantime” due to inflation.
The article continues, “Kusugak also insisted the $10-million bid for a 16-unit project in Iqaluit was, in fact, withdrawn by the company that placed it.” Why was that contract retracted or rescinded? “All housing tenders this year have been cancelled because of high costs”, or inflation.
This is all while the member from Winnipeg says that there is nothing to see here and everything is grand. Well, it is not. Whether it is carbon tax and home heating or it is lack of housing in the north, the Liberal government is absolutely failing.
For my final couple of points, we talked about the cost of living. I got to see this first-hand. In a grocery store in Nunavut or Inuvik or wherever we go, a jug of milk costs us a lot of money. It is seven to eight bucks, and up there it is 20 bucks. That is just a carton of milk. We can look at ketchup or Kraft dinner, and Kraft dinner is almost $4 a box, but everything is grand according to the Liberals across the way.
Another article is entitled “Northerners are hitting the cost of living breaking point”. This is in Northwest Territories. The article says, “The Salvation Army in Yellowknife says it has helped 1400 more people this year compared to 2021”. It is kind of puzzling because, again, according to the Liberal government, everything is great, while we have seen this massive spike in people visiting food banks across the territories.
The article also quotes the organization's executive director:
The general comment is that food price increases, along with other household costs, [are] making it increasingly difficult to maintain bill payments.
As recently as today, I have heard from other non-profits that are expressing the same concerns. They too are seeing an increase in the need for food among other supports.
I will repeat it: If everything was grand, why are we seeing more visits to the food banks? It is not just in urban settings. I am talking about the territories specifically, and I will get a bit more specific with the numbers. We are almost getting to the 10% mark with respect to residents of the territories having to visit a food bank.
The final article that I will quote is titled “'A really alarming crisis': Iqaluit's food bank now feeding 500 people a day, many of them children”. It states:
In October of last year, the Qajuqturvik Community Food Centre was serving about 150 meals per day. Blais, the food bank's executive director, says they're now serving more than 500—well beyond their capacity.
The article goes on:
Food Banks Canada's latest report estimates more than 6,200 people across the three territories accessed their local food banks in March 2022 alone, and nearly a third of them were children.
They were at 6,200, and that was in March. We know things have gotten a lot worse. Even the Deputy Prime Minister is acknowledging that we are in for a tough road ahead. Many of our northerners are already seeing this. That number of 6,200 alone, as of March, pointed to a 36% increase in the number of people who have needed to access a food bank.
I started off by saying that Liberal promises in this economic update do not help northerners. The update simply does not help them stay warm; it does not help them buy groceries, and I wish it would.