So to the people who are here today, I thank you for it.
Mr. Chair, we are living in a strange, strange world. I think everyone here knows that. No one can deny that. It's almost like the world has been turned upside down.
Who could have predicted, a scant two months ago, the type of world we are living in right now? Who could have predicted, two months ago, that we would be living in a world where there was a global lockdown, a world where people could not leave their houses, were told by their governments not to leave their houses, couldn't go next door to a neighbour's place to have a cup of coffee, couldn't ask their grandchildren to come over for a visit, and couldn't attend a funeral? Nobody could have predicted that.
Who would have predicted, two months ago, that literally tens of millions of people would lose their jobs literally overnight? Who would have predicted, a scant two months ago, that today over three and a half million people would have contracted this deadly virus? There's a death count in most democracies and the industrialized world, in fact in countries throughout our globe and throughout our planet; people are still dying because of COVID-19. Who could have predicted that? The answer, of course, is no one.
What have we done as a country? What have other countries done in terms of trying to combat this? I have to say that generally speaking, most countries that I am aware of have done good to exceptional jobs. They put in health protocols to help flatten the curve of this pandemic. They also did other things from an economic standpoint to try to support their citizens. They got money out the door to support those who lost their jobs. They got money out the door quickly to support those who had to close businesses.
Those economic initiatives were not only necessary; they have worked. The problem and the difficulty is at what cost, and at what cost economically? We are looking at a situation now in Canada where this year's deficit alone will be somewhat north of $250 billion. That figure is rising, and the spending tap has not been turned off yet. Was it necessary? Yes. But what will happen two months from now? The day of reckoning has yet to come upon us, but it will.
I want to spend the remainder of my time here to just reflect for a few moments on what this government has done to try to prepare for the situation that we find ourselves in now from an economic standpoint and compare that with a previous government, the government that I was a part of for nine years. I can tell you that despite the government's rhetoric that their own initiatives financially put their government in a good fiscal position to withstand something like we're seeing today, they did not. Yes, it's true that the net debt-to-GDP ratio is around 30%, in the low thirties. The government keeps touting that as an example of how their economy, while they were governing this country, was doing a good job.
I agree that the economy seemed to be humming along, but what this government will not say to Canadians, will not remind Canadians, is that in the first four years of this government's mandate, from 2015 to 2019, this government added over $70 billion to the Canadian debt. Any economist, any financial analyst, will tell you that during good times, that is the time when governments should be putting money aside for a rainy day. It should be paying down debt and saving money for the future in case a recession or some other unknown or untoward calamity washed up on our shores.
Right now it's not just raining; it is pouring. The government was, despite its rhetoric, in my view, completely unprepared from an economic and fiscal standpoint to deal with the situation that we have before us today.
How will we recover? That's a question I want to ask this government when the time is right. I recognize that now is not that time. Let's compare for a moment the situation this government finds itself in compared with some of the initiatives that the previous Conservative government embarked upon from 2006 to 2015. When I was first elected in 2004, we were in a minority situation, but we formed a government in January 2006. I can remind members that, in the first two years of our Conservative government, we paid down $40 billion of debt while at the same time reducing the GST from 7% to 5%.
In 2008-09, there was a recession that washed up on our shores, as it did throughout the world. That was the global recession caused by the subprime mortgage crisis initiated in the United States. As a government, we recognized we had to do something. We borrowed $50 billion to put into the economy as stimulus, primarily using infrastructure projects across Canada that were shovel-ready. What happened? It worked. Our economy came out of the recession before any other country's in the world. By the time we left office in 2015, we were back into a balanced budget.
That's fiscal responsibility and that's fiscal restraint, two themes I don't think this government truly understands.
I point out to members that, during our first four years in opposition after the 2015 election, we consistently asked the Minister of Finance when the government's budget would be balanced. There was steadfast refusal from the finance minister to answer that question. I'm sure it was not because the minister didn't want to answer the question. It was because he didn't know the answer to the question. He could not provide an answer as to when the government's budget would be balanced.
Think about that for just a moment. Arguably, the second most influential and powerful person in Canada, the finance minister of Canada, was not able to answer a simple question: When will your budget be balanced? If it was bad enough back then, when the economy was in relatively good shape, how will the Minister of Finance answer that question today? How could he possibly answer that question?
There are only two options that I see this government has as we move forward, as we hopefully leave the health crisis, the pandemic know as COVID-19, behind us. That is to do one of two things, either cut spending or raise taxes. My colleague who spoke before me already indicated that raising taxes would simply not be the right move right now because of the negative impact it would have on the Canadian economy. That leaves option number one: to reduce government services. I have never seen a government more unlikely to do that than the government sitting across from me today.
I look upon members opposite and ask them to think long and hard. What initiatives must they be faced with? What will they do to make sure that Canada's economy not only gets back on its feet, but that we start dealing with the massive debt we'll have to deal with. It's not me, not my children, not even my grandchildren. It's probably my great-grandchildren who will have to pay off that debt. That's an unfortunate circumstance that this government, in part, brought upon itself.
Mr. Chair, Canadians deserve better.