Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to have an opportunity to add my comments to this important debate today. I will be splitting my time with the member for Random—Burin—St. George's, who will follow me shortly.
I rise today as the representative for York West, what I call the best riding in Canada, but I guess we all try to say that. I certainly believe it and we have the best constituents around. However, inasmuch as my riding is a wonderful place to live, work and play, like many communities, York West has been hard by the recession and the subsequent global economic slowdown.
People are asking for help and unfortunately the current government has again turned its back on my riding and others. On September 11, the government announced its so-called plan to create jobs, a plan that does not even begin for several months. Then after my constituents and others wait until January 2015 for help, they will be handed a strategy that has no hope of creating any jobs. Quite the contrary, the Conservatives' small business job credit has been panned by most economists. In fact, credible economists have called this plan exactly the opposite, a disincentive for companies to grow.
In contrast, the Liberal counter-proposal would reward companies that are growing and creating new jobs for my constituents and for workers across Canada. That is the choice: a government that keeps looking backward and trying the same failed and tired plans over and over again, or a Liberal plan that is forward thinking and very practical.
Time and time again the government has proven an ingrained ineptitude when it comes to financial management. The Prime Minister fancies himself an economist, but his ideas, which are growing more and more outlandish, are constantly out of step with industry, labour and the financial community. I now understand why the Conservatives spent $1 billion, taxpayer dollars, on advertising to boast about their so-called fiscal plan, because it takes $1 billion to create an ad campaign that tries to weave the words “Conservative” and “success” into a single commercial, but it certainly is not supported by facts.
For eight years, the Prime Minister has been telling Canadians, with a wink, to trust him. He says his plan will put a chicken in every pot, but after all this time, Canada's employment numbers still trail our major trading partners. Over the past year, Canada has experienced very little job growth. From August 2013 to August 2014, the entire country created a net 81,000 new jobs with only a fraction of those being full-time. Sadly a part-time job serving coffee, flipping burgers, or mending clothes is often not enough to raise a family. These jobs are important but they rarely offer pension security, growth opportunity or wages over and above the poverty line.
In contrast to Canada's dismal job creation performance, the U.K. created 775,000 jobs over the last 12 months and the United States created 2.2 million. This means that the percentage growth in total employment in the U.K. was up 2.6%. The U.S. was up 1.5% and unfortunately Canada was up a bleak 0.5%. The Prime Minister may like to crow about this record, but Canadians know that a flimsy crow is certainly not a chicken in every pot.
The government has dumped hundreds of millions of dollars on boardroom tables throughout Canada and then justifies that giveaway by promising that the payoff would protect Canadian jobs. As we watched last week the Stelco meltdown killing hundreds of good manufacturing jobs, Canadians are growing weary of empty Conservative promises. The Minister of Finance wonders why Canadians are carrying more household debt than ever before. This is why. The Minister of Finance wonders why Canadians are carrying more credit card debt than ever before. This is why.
People are not putting new yachts, cars and summer homes on their credit cards. People are not extending their lines of credit to finance new capital ventures or exotic vacations. People are accumulating debt to pay for food, rent, daycare, education, medicine and other essentials of life. The fact the government would see all of this and still table a strategy like this EI plan clearly shows that Conservatives are out of touch.
Of course, I understand why the need for intelligent policy would vex this particular Prime Minister and his front bench, so let me frame it another way. The Liberals have a real solution, an EI premium exemption for new jobs created in 2015 and 2016. This represents a benefit of up to $1,279.15 for each newly created job. For the same price as the Conservative scheme, our proposed EI premium exemption could help create over 175,000 new jobs.
We must create the right conditions for jobs and growth that benefit the middle class. In effect, we want success around the kitchen tables, not just the boardroom tables. This requires investments in infrastructure, training, innovation, and expanding trade, as well as competitive tax breaks.
Under the Conservative scheme, only businesses with EI payroll taxes below $15,000 get any money back, a move that creates a perverse incentive for businesses to fire workers in order to get below the $15,000 threshold. In fact, Conservatives are proposing that the maximum benefit for a company that pays just under $15,000 in EI premiums would be $2,234; however, a company that pays one dollar more would receive nothing at all.
Economists, save for the one across the way, have pointed out that this could result in companies holding back on pay increases, reducing hours, or in the worst-case scenario, laying employees off. As strange and as confounding as this may seem, the Conservative scheme to create jobs offers up to $2,200 for firing a worker and only $190 for hiring a worker. I suppose this reverse logic will be covered in the next round of commercials and ads the government will be commissioning at taxpayer expense, but I hope so because when presented with these numbers and when given the actual facts, Canadians will make their own determination. I know my constituents will see through this deception.
The NDP have spoken very critically today of the motion, but I fear that their opposition stems from partisanship rather than the facts. First, let us look at the NDP costing of our proposal. The NDP claims that our plan would create at least a million but probably closer to 1.5 million net new jobs next year. That is great, but given that there are 1.3 million unemployed Canadians, that would be quite a feat.
However, if it did create 1.5 million new jobs, the income tax generated alone by those new employees would more than pay for the cost of the credit. Just to be clear, on the one hand, the NDP is arguing that under our Canadian plan for the workers, Canadian businesses and governments would all be big winners, but on the other hand, it says it cannot support it.
Second, the NDP's last platform had this commitment. It specifically promised to establish a job creation tax credit that would have provided funding on a per-hire basis. Specifically, it promised to give employers a one-year rebate on CPP contributions for each new hire. According, though, to the NDP rhetoric today, it is accusing Jack Layton of having wanted to raid the CPP for his pet projects. Imagine.
Instead of trying to sow divisions in the House, I think the NDP should really take a second look at the motion and reconsider it. Possibly its members did not fully understand it.
In 2008, the Prime Minister said the recession and the global economic slowdown would never happen. When Liberals disagreed, Conservatives accused us of fearmongering. Starting in 2009, the Prime Minister raided the cupboard and spent nearly $100 billion on gazebos and other stimulus measures to end the recession that he said would never happen. When Liberals disagreed, again, Conservatives accused us of not being up to the task. Today, we are faced by another fly-by-night Conservative plan to fix an economy that they said was not broken, and again, they are dismissing Liberal objections out of hand.
For eight years, we have been listening to a Prime Minister with a legacy of being wrong on issues involving the nation's finances. Perhaps it is time for a fresh arm. Perhaps it is time to take a look at the Liberal plan, a plan that would create the right conditions for jobs and growth for Canadians and for Canada.