House of Commons Hansard #100 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was tax.

Topics

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 2Government Orders

12:30 p.m.

NDP

Guy Caron NDP Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Madam Speaker, the member shared an example about social housing in his city, which he knows so well.

In response to that one example, I can give 10 examples of public-private partnership programs that were dismal failures. Should I start with CHUM, the Université de Montréal hospital? Should I start with an example that will cost Quebec's treasury billions of dollars even though it was an outrageous waste and shameless mismanagement on the part of successive governments, which failed to keep things under control, and absolutely irresponsible investors? No.

The member failed to ask one basic question. This is not just about pension plans. This is also about private investment funds. This is about how BlackRock has more money than the Caisse de dépôt et de placement du Québec, money it can use to not only invest in infrastructure, but also acquire their very sources of revenue. We are opening up not only pension plans but private investment funds too.

There is no comparing a small-scale social housing program from Toronto to the impact this will have on the Canadian economy and the future of our infrastructure. They are just not in the same league.

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 2Government Orders

12:35 p.m.

NDP

Gord Johns NDP Courtenay—Alberni, BC

Madam Speaker, I want to thank my hon. colleague, our critic for finance, for his great work in making sure that people understand what the bill proposes.

In my riding of Courtenay—Alberni and certainly right in Alberni Valley, one-third of the children are living in poverty. I will just give the House some quick stats on what that looks like. Children in care were 281% above the provincial average in B.C.; teenage pregnancy, 371% above the provincial average in B.C.; and the percentage of children under 15 receiving income assistance is 274% above the provincial average.

When we look at the legislation and we talk about the child tax benefits that the Liberals always talk about and how important they are to lifting children out of poverty, we know these are not just percentages; these are real children who need help. I would like the member to talk a little about the impact of the Canada child tax benefit and how it is not being indexed and the impact that might have in tackling child poverty.

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 2Government Orders

12:35 p.m.

NDP

Guy Caron NDP Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for a good question. It will be indexed in this budget implementation act. It was just not supposed to be before the parliamentary budget officer told the government that with the lack of indexation, there would be less money in 2025 for most of those families, most of those kids, than there was under the Conservative government.

When I raised that issue, the parliamentary secretary told me it is not true and that the Minister of Finance actually said it would be indexed. No, he never said it until the parliamentary budget officer presented a public report on this.

It was clear that the child benefit that the Liberals put in place would actually, initially, provide more money, but they were well content to let that money lapse slowly until it was brought forth publicly by the parliamentary budget officer. I thank the PBO and his office for their work in raising that important question and ensuring the children in my colleague's riding, in my riding, and everyone in the country would be able to count on that indexation past 2020 and further.

Let us remember the lack of indexation would ensure that there would be less money gradually over the next four years to the point where, in 2020, when it starts being indexed, a family of three earning $30,000 with a child would have a mere $500 more than they would have had under the Conservatives. That means about $500 a year more than they would have had under the Conservatives. It is not much and I am glad that the Liberals are correcting this mistake. They should have admitted they made a mistake in the first place.

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 2Government Orders

12:35 p.m.

Liberal

David Graham Liberal Laurentides—Labelle, QC

Madam Speaker, I have a quick question.

I always like hearing what the member for Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques has to say. We often hear the official opposition oppose things, and we know that the member rarely opposes the same things.

In the interest of finding common ground, can the member tell us what he likes about this bill?

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 2Government Orders

12:35 p.m.

NDP

Guy Caron NDP Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Madam Speaker, there will be things that we can agree on. Obviously, no budget gets everything right or everything wrong, but I am not going to spend my time praising the Liberal government. I am sure the Liberals are quite capable of that.

I am here as one of the few and probably the first to ask where the government is headed and to raise the important issue of the privatization of Canadian infrastructure. The government will not be raising the issue, and neither will its advisory council on economic growth, which is not calling it privatization, but asset recycling.

He spoke of leveraging private capital with public capital. There is no word on privatization, but this is the meaning of privatization. This is exactly where it is going.

If we can no longer voice outrage in the House over such a critical issue, what are we doing here?

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 2Government Orders

October 28th, 2016 / 12:40 p.m.

NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Madam Speaker, I was really glad to hear my colleague's speech and comments today, which really underlined the fact that the Liberals are still very much marching to the same tune that was started by Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s, the ideology of neo-liberalism.

The problem with asset recycling and privatization is that the public gets to accept all of the risk, and all of the reward goes to the corporations. What is often not talked about in this place is that corporations get to enjoy the public infrastructure assets that taxpayer dollars built for them. It allows them to conduct their businesses through the roads, bridges, and airports that our tax dollars have funded, and they are not paying their fair share. When corporations do not pay their fair share, the costs get downloaded onto the everyday population. We have seen privatization schemes blow up in Canada and around the world. In B.C., the B.C. ferries were privatized and the costs keep going up. If we look at what New Zealand did when it privatized its railways and ferries, it then had to buy them back because it was one of the biggest disasters it has ever had.

Therefore, I would again like to hear my hon. colleague's comments on the dangers of going down this route, and why we should be looking at alternatives.

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 2Government Orders

12:40 p.m.

NDP

Guy Caron NDP Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Madam Speaker, when my colleague was asking the question, I was looking at the members on the other side, who were rolling their eyes when he talked about Thatcher and Reagan.

Yesterday, when I was listening to Robert Martin at committee, he was talking to the Conservative members, and one of them actually said that this should have been a Conservative measure. They will agree with this. They will agree with getting this infrastructure bank and the leveraging of private assets with public assets. If the Conservatives are in agreement with this, I think it should raise questions for many of the members of the government who call themselves progressive as to where their government is going, because it is going in the direction of Thatcher and Reagan.

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 2Government Orders

12:40 p.m.

Liberal

Kyle Peterson Liberal Newmarket—Aurora, ON

Madam Speaker, I am happy to rise today to comment on this budget implementation act.

Canada is a country built upon optimism, often in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges. However, this promise of a better life has been eroding in recent decades. The reality is that many middle-class Canadians have had their confidence shaken. While our economy continues to grow, middle-class Canadians are struggling. Many Canadians are working harder and longer as the cost of living continues to rise. Middle-class Canadians just do not feel as though they are getting ahead.

It is time to recapture the hope and optimism for the future that existed in previous generations. We must embrace the spirit of those early founders and build upon their legacy by providing the same opportunities for advancement and mobility they once unlocked. We already possess the keys to this future.

Canadians are among the most highly educated people in the world, ranking among the top of all members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. More than half of Canadians have a post-secondary degree. We are world-renowned for scientific research and discovery, and can often be found on the cutting edge of the clean technologies emerging right now on the world stage. We have abundant natural resources, outmatched only by the resourcefulness and diversity of our people.

With interest rates at record lows, now is the time to make the investments that will invigorate the heart of our Canadian economy, our middle class and those working hard to join it.

This is no small undertaking. The challenges this budget identified cannot be solved in one year, but we can and must take the next steps that will focus on growing the economy for the long term, in ways that will benefit every Canadian. The legislation we are debating today, budget implementation act, 2016, No. 2 will complete the measures we introduced in budget 2016.

This is a budget that offers a fresh boost to the core of Canada's economy, Canada's middle class. The bill we are debating today will build a strong economy for Canada, and it will give the middle class and those working hard to join it more money in their pockets to save, invest, and grow the economy.

This bill includes measures that build on Canada's economic and fiscal strength. It offers help for the middle class. It includes measures that protect consumers. It ensures tax fairness and integrity.

I would also like to discuss Canada's economic and fiscal strength. As I mentioned, many middle class and other Canadians are working harder but not getting ahead. There is a growing consensus in Canada and globally that governments need to invest, not only to boost economic growth in the short term but also to set the stage for long-term growth as well.

Canada has the lowest debt-to-GDP ratio of any G7 country, and interest rates are at historic lows. Now is the ideal time for Canada to invest in its future success.

I also want to talk about what this budget does to help the middle class. Obviously we can all agree, I would hope, that a strong economy starts with a strong middle class. When middle-class Canadians have more money to save, to invest, and to spend, everyone benefits. A strengthened middle class means that hard-working Canadians can look forward to a good standard of living and better prospects for their kids and grandchildren. When we have an economy that works for the middle class, we have a country that works for everyone. We must do for our kids and grandkids what our parents and grandparents did for us.

Also important when it comes to growing the middle class is making sure that we help young Canadians succeed. Budget 2016 makes post-secondary education more affordable for students from low and middle-income families and will make it easier for students to repay student debt. It will also help young Canadians gain the much-needed experience and income they need, and to be in a position to find good jobs after graduation.

Now more than ever, it is important that post-secondary education remains affordable and accessible. Young Canadians must have access to meaningful work at the beginning of their careers and must not be burdened by increasing student debt. Budget 2016 will address these concerns.

Budget 2016 also improves the employment insurance regime. Canada's employment insurance program provides economic security to Canadians when they need it most. Whatever the circumstances, no Canadian should struggle to get the assistance they need. To make sure that Canadians get the help when they need it, several changes are being proposed to the EI system. Changes to eligibility rules will make it easier for new workers and those re-entering the workforce to claim benefits. The waiting period will also be reduced from two weeks to one week, providing unemployed workers with hundreds of dollars more at the time they need it most.

Budget 2016 will also improve the quality of life of seniors. The government, through budget 2016, will make significant new investments to support seniors in their retirement years. Increased benefits will ensure that Canadian seniors have a dignified, comfortable, and secure retirement.

Budget 2016 also has measures to support Canada's veterans. The Government of Canada has a social covenant with veterans and their families. It is a sacred obligation that we must meet with respect and gratitude. Our veterans have dedicated their lives to the defence of our country and they deserve our unwavering support, as I am sure all members of the House agree.

The government will give back to veterans who have given so much in service to all Canadians. Canada will restore critical access to services for veterans and ensure the long-term financial security of disabled veterans. Canada's veterans will receive more local, in-person government services, as well as better access to case managers. Our veterans deserve nothing less.

Budget 2016 also includes many measures to help protect consumers. Canadians deserve financial consumer protection in banking that keeps pace with their needs. In line with this, budget 2016 contains plans to strengthen and modernize the financial consumer protection framework, by proposing to amend the Bank Act.

Canada's financial sector was resilient enough to weather the 2008 financial crisis, and we are seeking to build on this strength. We want to make sure that the financial sector is able to adapt to new trends, including emerging financial innovation and technologies. What this legislation proposes to do is consolidate and streamline existing consumer provisions into one new chapter of the Bank Act, and to introduce amendments to the Bank Act to enhance consumer protection in the areas of access to basic banking services, business practices, disclosure, complaint handling, as well as corporate governance and complaints and accountability.

The federal government is exercising leadership by taking targeted steps to strengthen financial consumer protection. This includes measures to improve access to basic banking services, impose certain limits on business practices, and enhance disclosure to facilitate and inform the decisions being made by consumers. These reforms reaffirm our government's intent to have a system of exclusive rules for consumer protection to ensure an efficient national banking system from coast to coast to coast.

The budget also does much to ensure tax fairness and integrity. A fundamental Canadian value is one of fairness. This is why the Government of Canada is committed to a plan of action to combat international tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance that strengthens existing efforts at home and abroad and includes new measures.

Under the common reporting standard, Canadian financial institutions will be expected to have procedures in place to identify accounts held by non-residents, and to report information on those accounts to the Canada Revenue Agency. Tax administration in foreign jurisdictions will likewise collect information from their financial institutions about accounts held by residents of other countries, including Canada. The CRA will formalize exchange arrangements with foreign jurisdictions, having verified that each jurisdiction has the appropriate capacity and safeguards in place. Then the financial account information will begin to be exchanged on a reciprocal bilateral basis. The introduction of the common reporting standard is an important global development, which will help to enhance tax compliance and eliminate the opportunities for tax evasion.

In addition to this new legislative tool, budget 2016 also announced $444 million in new resources for the Canada Revenue Agency to address tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance.

Going forward, Canada will continue to work with the international community to ensure a coherent and consistent response to tax avoidance.

Budget 2016 and the budget implementation legislation are an important step, not only in the life of this government, but in growing Canada's economy, preparing the Canadian economy for the future. To do this, Canadians know that our government must invest in infrastructure and innovation, but, most importantly, invest in Canadians.

During the campaign, all of us were successful in being elected. Our success was due in part to listening to the voters in our own ridings; otherwise none of us, whatever side of the aisle we happen to be on, would be in the chamber today. We listened to Canadians. I certainly did.

In my riding of Newmarket—Aurora there was concern with what was happening. There was concern about whether or not people's children and grandchildren would have the same opportunities that we had. The budget clearly addresses many of those concerns.

Let us look for a minute at the Canada child benefit, which is an important social policy and also an important economic policy. There are nine out of ten Canadian families who are now receiving more through this child benefit than they were receiving previously. The effect that this has, among other things, is that 300,000 young Canadians will be lifted out of poverty. That is 300,000 young people with more hope for the future. That is 300,000 young people who can participate more fully in the lives of their communities. That is 300,000 more people who can participate in the opportunity that Canada offers to all of our young people. This is important, and it should not be overlooked.

There are people in my riding to this day who stop me and thank me for our government having taken this measure. I am fortunate to live in a riding that is relatively affluent, but, even among that affluence, there are pockets of need and pockets of want.

A few weeks ago, I was honoured to attend the opening of the Newmarket Food Pantry in my riding, and I was speaking with the executives and the great volunteers of that organization. They told me that even though it is located in the community of Newmarket, which has so much wealth and prosperity, more people use the Newmarket Food Pantry every month. The need continues to grow. None of us want that trend to continue. This is just one example of where some Canadians were feeling left out and left behind.

I was fortunate at that Newmarket Food Pantry to be asked to say a few words. I was a little overwhelmed by many of the clients at the food pantry. These are hard-working Canadians. These are Canadians who struggle. Many of them are single parents, many are single moms. I do not think anyone would not sympathize with people in this situation. The Canada child benefit helps the exact people that it is intended to help.

As I said, someone asked me to say a few words. I said that I would love to be around on the day that instead of celebrating the opening of the new expanded food pantry, we are celebrating the closing of the doors of the food pantry, not only in Newmarket, but in all of our communities, all food banks. Until that time, it is great to have volunteers and the great people who run these facilities. However, it would be much better to not need these facilities at all. I know everyone in the House agrees with that sentiment.

That is why the Canada child benefit is so important. It helps people who need it most. I can think of nothing more Canadian than that, and that is one facet of the budget that I am very proud of. We see it every day. However, the budget is just the first step in our plan. Of course, there is much more work to be done.

The other facet I am very eager about is the investment in infrastructure. The municipalities in my riding are growing very quickly, and they cannot keep up with the population surge. There is a gap in infrastructure needs, not only highways and sewers and waste water, but even things such as broadband. We have many small and medium enterprises, but even though we are half an hour or 45 minutes north of Toronto, we have issues with connectivity. That needs to be addressed, in all regions of the country. If we want to be part of the technological economy of the future, we have to make sure we invest now. There is also the infrastructure such as highways, transportation, sewage, and waste water, or any of these great infrastructure investments. Budget 2016 realizes that. There is much work to be done.

In the few minutes I have left, I want to discuss why this is a good time to invest. As I mentioned earlier, interest rates are at an all-time low. This is the time to borrow money, but it is not a time to spend recklessly. The borrowed money must be invested prudently, and it must be invested with the view to a return on that investment.

Many Canadians borrow money. Most Canadians borrow money to buy a house, a car. These are necessities. Therefore, taking on debt for important investments and expenses and the fundamental essentials of life is a prudent way of running one's household finances. The same applies to government.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with borrowing money to invest in important projects that are needed by Canadians and that are needed by the Canadian economy, especially when those investments will yield a return in the future. That is what a responsible government ought to do, and I am proud to be part of a government that is going to do just that. Investing now to build future prosperity for Canadians is something we should all be very proud of, and I know I certainly am.

Budget 2016 represents a strong first step in our plan to put people first and to deliver the help they need now while investing for the years and decades to come. With these investments, and inspired by a sense of fairness, we are ensuring that Canada's best days lie ahead. I therefore encourage all members in the House to support the bill.

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 2Government Orders

1 p.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Madam Speaker, the hon. member made a comment in his speech, saying that it is our responsibility as members of Parliament—the very fact that we are here actually attests to this, he said—to listen to our constituents. I think he makes a very good point and I would agree with him.

My question for the hon. member is this. In listening to his constituents, which of his constituents told him that they would like a carbon tax or a tax on everything, and which of his constituents said they would like a decrease in the amount of child benefits that low-income families take home each and every month?

I would also like to know which of his constituents said they would like a decrease in job numbers. In fact, the PBO just released a report the other day, saying that half the average rate of job creation of the previous five years is what Canada faces right now. Coincidentally, in those previous five years, of course, the Conservatives were in power.

As well, I would like to know which of his constituents want a $34-billion debt load added to our country. The hon. member could perhaps help me in understanding which of his constituents are advocating for this.

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 2Government Orders

1 p.m.

Liberal

Kyle Peterson Liberal Newmarket—Aurora, ON

Madam Speaker, I can tell the member what my constituents told me. They told me they want our economy to grow. They told me that they have just lived through 10 years of the slowest economic growth, and deficits, and what they want is growth. They want hope for the future. That is what they want, and that is why I am so happy to be speaking about this budget today. We will deliver exactly what the great people of Newmarket—Aurora wanted when they voted for me, and I am happy to deliver on those promises.

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 2Government Orders

1 p.m.

NDP

Guy Caron NDP Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Madam Speaker, I listened to the speech of the hon. member, and I was nonplussed by his arguments.

How stupid would a household, the government, or the private sector be not to borrow, like the government actually could right now, to fund infrastructure at 2.5%, instead of borrowing private assets and asking for a rate of return of 5%, 6%, 8%? It does not make sense.

I will note that the member was silent on my previous point that demonstrated his government is asking Credit Suisse to advise the government on privatizing airports when they actually have an interest in buying our airports. How is that not a conflict of interest? How is it not a conflict of interest that the people advising the Prime Minister, like Dominic Barton, like Michael Sabia, like Mark Wiseman, have an interest in the revenue stream of that infrastructure? They will be advising the government on this.

Why is the comparison of the borrowing of a household coming into play when we are seeing the potential impacts on the Canadian economy being played out this way?

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 2Government Orders

1:05 p.m.

Liberal

Kyle Peterson Liberal Newmarket—Aurora, ON

Madam Speaker, that is a good question and I thank my hon. colleague for it.

The issue is that if we are going to borrow, we should invest it properly. I do not share the same fear of corporate involvement that my friends in the NDP do. If it makes more efficient sense to borrow money and be able to leverage that borrowed money with help from the private sector, then that is worthy of examination. We are open to any ideas or suggestions that any member of the House of Commons may make.

The best thing for us to do as Canadians, and as a Canadian government, is to listen and consider all options as to how best to leverage taxpayer money, how best to get results for Canadians, and how best to grow the Canadian economy. I am proud that our government is doing precisely that.

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 2Government Orders

1:05 p.m.

Acadie—Bathurst New Brunswick

Liberal

Serge Cormier LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries

Madam Speaker, personally, when I look at the investments and commitments made by our government over the past year, I feel compelled to describe just how much this has been a boon for my riding and for Canadians.

I will cite a few examples. The retirement age has gone from 67 to 65. We increased the guaranteed income supplement for people living alone. We made changes to employment insurance, which is very important in my region. The reform of employment insurance by the former Conservative government hit us very hard.

We invested in infrastructure and universities and colleges. We lowered taxes. We helped first nations. We made investments in fisheries, ports, and small vessels. These are just a few examples of what we did. I am surprised that the opposition is opposed to these measures.

The program that is closest to my heart is the Canada child benefit. According to some statistics, it will help over 112,000 children in New Brunswick alone. I would like my colleague to tell us more about this program, which I feel is essential for lifting many children out of poverty, and for him to explain what the Canada child benefit is all about.

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 2Government Orders

1:05 p.m.

Liberal

Kyle Peterson Liberal Newmarket—Aurora, ON

Madam Speaker, I want to thank the member for Acadie—Bathurst for that question. I know how hard he works for the great people of his riding and how much they respect the work he is doing. He works very hard in our caucus and indeed in all his duties in the House, and I thank him for his tremendous efforts in that regard.

The Canada child benefit is the single most profound measure in budget 2016. It has helped people in my riding, as I alluded to. I am sure, as the member for Acadie—Bathurst just said, it is helping people in his riding. It is lifting thousands of children out of poverty.

Whatever components of the budget one may or may not agree with, I think we should all agree that this outcome is a positive step for Canadians. That outcome is a positive step for Canada, and that outcome is something we should all take great and tremendous pride in.

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 2Government Orders

1:05 p.m.

Conservative

Ziad Aboultaif Conservative Edmonton Manning, AB

Madam Speaker, it has been all about the child benefit. It is very important to point out that the child benefit, the extra money the government is giving Canadians, is about $1 billion a year and is gradually going to come down towards 2020. It equals about $27.77 per capita. That is something that has to be known by the public, because all this bragging about the child benefit is not true and is not growing the economy.

The labour market report by the parliamentary budget officer says that job creation is half the average job creation compared to the past five years. Compared to the past five years of the previous Conservative government, the current government is creating only half, and that will be the trend until 2019.

Are the Liberals going to stop talking about the child benefit that is giving Canadians nothing and start talking about job creation?

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 2Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

Liberal

Kyle Peterson Liberal Newmarket—Aurora, ON

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for Edmonton Manning for his question. I know how hard he works for the people of his community.

It will not surprise this House to hear that I do not necessarily agree with the premise of the member's question. First, he referred to the Canada child benefit as doing nothing. I have met people who rely on that child benefit to buy groceries every month. Does that member want to tell those people that this child benefit is doing nothing for them? I do not think he does.

On the point of job growth and labour-market growth, that is precisely why we have to continue investing. We have to continue the steps we are taking to make sure we grow the economy. Canada's economic growth is slow right now. We need to prime the pump. That is exactly what budget 2016 would do.

I want to thank the member for Edmonton Manning for pointing out how important the measures in this budget are for all of Canada.

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 2Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

NDP

Georgina Jolibois NDP Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River, SK

Madam Speaker, I was just listening and heard about the benefit of the child benefit for families. Yet in my riding, I have single dads and single moms coming forward who have been cut because of the new plan. How can I explain it to them? I need an answer from the Liberals.

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 2Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

Liberal

Kyle Peterson Liberal Newmarket—Aurora, ON

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for her question and for raising the concerns of her constituents in this House, which of course is our principal role as members of Parliament.

I am obviously not familiar with the particulars of those incidents, but my understanding is that there are more Canadians, nine out of 10 families, receiving child benefit payments under the new plan. Three hundred thousand Canadians have been lifted out of poverty. I am willing to work with the member and get my government colleagues to work with her to help if there are special cases that need addressing in her riding to make sure that every Canadian gets the benefits that she or he is entitled to.

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 2Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to rise to speak to the budget implementation act, 2016, No. 2.

For people who might be watching or listening, a brief summary of the process may be helpful in terms of why we are here and what we are debating.

In the spring, the Liberals presented their first budget. The actual implementation comes in two phases. There was Bill C-15, the Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 1, which of course was passed last spring. Now we are implementing the next phase of the budget. It is known as the budget implementation act, 2016, No. 2. These are the technical measures to move the budget into law.

The Liberals always used to talk about the Conservatives and the omnibus nature of our legislation. I am not going to call this omnibus, although we can see that it has many different features. It is necessary, sometimes, to move a budget into law that impacts lots of different pieces of legislation. The Liberals called it omnibus. I just call it good governance and how a budget is actually put into action.

Part 1 is a number of income tax measures. Part 2 focuses on the goods and services tax, the harmonized sales tax, and some commitments made there. Part 3 focuses on the excise tax. Part 4 has a number of different pieces, including the Employment Insurance Act, the Old Age Security Act, the Canada Education Savings Act, the Canada Disability Savings Act, the Financial Consumer Protection Framework, the Royal Canadian Mint Act, and funds management, etcetera. What we can see is a broad piece of legislation impacting many acts of Parliament. It is not called omnibus. It really is just a government doing its business.

Before I talk about my concerns about this particular budget and the budget implementation bill, not all is bad. There are perhaps one or two features that I actually think are reasonable.

We all know of lower-income senior citizen couples who are perhaps separated. Perhaps one needs additional care and has to go into a home. Their benefits are still calculated as a couple. I think it is reasonable to say that if a couple is separated and someone has to go into a home, they now have double the living expenses, so the calculation of the GIS and OAS will not be impacted.

I want to note that there are one or two pieces that I think are reasonable.

More importantly, I think the budget is a disaster for Canada and overall is totally unsupportable.

I remember very fondly when I had the privilege of serving on the finance committee when Canada entered the global recession. The late hon. Jim Flaherty was our finance minister. He was also named the best finance minister in Canada.

It was a global crisis at the time. It was a catastrophe. We were very concerned. Leaders across of the world had many sleepless nights because of the global recession. I can remember that the hon. Jim Flaherty came up with a plan. He articulated that plan to Canadians. He said what he was going to do over a number of years. Not only did he articulate the plan, he executed the plan, and he executed the plan in almost exactly the way he said he would when he first announced that we were going to have to take extraordinary measures to deal with the global recession.

It is important to say that it was a plan. It was articulated to Canadians, it was executed, and the results speak for themselves.

Up to about 2008-09, things were moving along very well. About $30 million or $40 million was paid back on the debt, then we were struck by the global recession.

The plan at the time was a number of years of deficit spending. The reason I am going over this is to contrast the current plan of the Liberals with the plan we had back then. It was deficit spending to deal with an extraordinary situation, but it was declining deficit spending, starting at approximately $55 billion, and over five years getting back to surplus. That was the plan. It was seen as short term. We needed an infusion to get the wheels going when the systems were failing around us.

Canada can be incredibly proud of having the stimulus. I would say to the Liberals that it was truly infrastructure stimulus. It got out the door fast. It was something that actually gave a jolt to the economy. We did not make mistakes and create deficits because of calculation errors.

Jim Flaherty also knew that once we opened the taps of government spending, it becomes incredibly difficult to turn those taps off. Any of us who lived through the 1990s, when we were in an absolutely horrendous position, realize that turning off those taps is very painful. It was very painful for the provinces. They saw health care transfers come down. There was a lot of pain and effort to get our finances back into a reasonable condition. That was a lesson we recognized.

The late hon. Jim Flaherty would have been incredibly proud to know that he achieved his plan. He did not live long enough to see the results. There are some lessons the Liberal government needs to take from that exercise.

It is also important to note that for 2015-16, the parliamentary budget officer recently confirmed that had it not been for the Liberal spending spree once it took office in October and November, we would have had a $2.9 billion surplus.

Different times require different remedies. Canada came through the global recession. None of our banks failed. We had a short-term stimulus for the economy, we had the best job creation record in the G7, and we moved into a bit of a steady state.

Yes, we have slow growth, but we are not in a recession. That is critical to remember. Slow growth is not a recession, and a different remedy is required economically. The Liberals seem to feel that it needs the kind of jolt we had during the global recession. We need a different remedy to deal with the slow-growth situation we are in, as opposed to the catastrophe we faced with the global recession.

I want to talk about how the Liberals believe they need to craft a budget. In the last year we heard that the budget would balance itself and the economy would grow from the heart out. Nothing could be further from the truth. The budget will not balance itself, and the economy is not going to grow from the heart out. It takes a lot of work and a lot of specific policies to ensure that the government does its part in creating an environment for the economy to grow, and balancing a budget requires some spending discipline. That is something we have not been seeing.

I talked about how we had a plan and that it was not a structural deficit but stimulus spending. It was roads and bridges and different investments that created short-term jobs.

What we are creating with the policies of this new government is a structural deficit that is growing and growing and is going to be more concerning as time goes on.

First, on the middle-class tax cut the Liberals so proudly talk about, they miscalculated by a couple of billion dollars. It was going to be revenue neutral. What the rich pay, the middle-class was going to benefit from, but they missed by a billion or two in the structural deficit.

It was a difficult decision to move the age of eligibility for old age security from 65 to 67. Canadians are living longer, and that is what a lot of other countries are doing. A number of countries in the world have moved the eligibility age for old age security from 65 to 67, because times are different. People are living a lot longer. This was something that would create a sustainable structure for old age security. The Liberals have obliterated that. It is now back to age 65. They have not taken into account the huge structural deficit that will be created with that.

The Liberals talk very proudly about their child care benefit. However, they did not index it. They have learned from the parliamentary budget officer that in a few years it will not be as good as the program we had in place. Therefore, they are indexing it through this budget implementation act. However, the cost of indexing it is $4.2 billion over five years. We have not heard what they are doing to create that revenue, so that will also become part of this structural deficit.

During the election, the Liberals claimed they had to run a small deficit of $10 billion because we had a sluggish economy. It was $30 billion, give or take, when they presented the budget. We will see what the minister has to say next week about this whole economic forecast. I hope I can be optimistic, but I am worried about that $30 billion deficit increasing. What we have is a deficit that continues to grow. There is no plan to create a fiscal anchor to bring it back to balance. They speak of the debt-to-GDP ratio, but have no anchor. Rather, they have a horrific spending problem.

At the same time, the middle class appears to be the touchstone word that we hear from the Liberals. To be frank, instead of growing the middle class, the Liberals are breaking it. They are creating an environment that is very difficult for businesses to thrive in.

Another broken promise is with respect to small business, which is the foundation of our economy. It is critical for employment and the revenues that come into government. The Liberals made a promise, reversed it, and now the small business tax has gone up.

During the election, every party committed to a low small business tax, because we recognized that what the government did not take in, the businesses would put into growing their business and increasing their payroll. Therefore, we felt that supporting small business with low taxes would be fundamentally important for the economy. The Liberals backtracked on that promise.

The next thing the Liberals did to small business owners was cook up a deal with respect to the Canada pension plan. Not only has small business had its tax raised, but it will cost an additional $2,000 a year for every employee: $1,000 paid by the employer and $1,000 by the employee. That might not sound like a lot, but for a new business with 20 employees that is struggling to make payroll, $20,000 can make a huge difference as to what it does and how it deals with its business. A number of these measures are creating some significant issues for the middle class.

I need to make a quick comment with respect to rural communities. Again, rural communities are incredibly important. We do not have a softwood lumber agreement signed. We are concerned about these good-paying, middle-class jobs, which keep the fabric of our rural communities alive. It will be an especially important issue for British Columbia. There does not seem to be any concern at all for rural communities.

Today, our colleague who represents Vegreville, which is a small community of 1,000 people, made reference to the fact that 200 immigration jobs would be moved to Edmonton. That will potentially destroy that community. It will have a huge impact.

The minister justified that by suggesting there were economies of scale. It does not take much to recognize that the commercial rates in Edmonton are going to be a whole lot different from the commercial rates in a small town. I really doubt that the business model is going to have that much impact. In the meanwhile, what they are doing is destroying a small town, and those who choose to move to Edmonton, all of a sudden, are going to face huge challenges because housing prices are extremely different.

We have talked about the middle class. I really do not think the middle class is benefiting from this particular budget. We certainly know that our small businesses are not benefiting from the budget. We certainly know the additional complications that are being created around environmental assessment processes, which are really causing pause. I heard from an investor from Korea who was looking at making significant investments in our country, but who is now backing away. He was saying there's now no certainty, that they do not know what the environmental assessment process will look like and how the carbon tax will fit in. People are looking at Canada and saying that maybe their money would be better spent in another place.

What the government does not realize is that money is mobile and for people to invest in Canada, they need to have confidence in Canada, but the changing landscape with government processes is really creating some challenges. They need to have certainty. They need to know what the process is. They need to know how long the process is.

Yesterday, we had a pretty powerful discussion about the indigenous child welfare system. The fact was brought up that during the first 100 days in office, the Prime Minister committed to spending billions of dollars in other countries. I am not sure those billions are really creating a positive impact in Canada. I do agree that we need to do our part to help address some of the challenges facing other countries. However, when we have in Canada some aboriginal communities facing underfunding of their child welfare services, that is a problem.

In conclusion, the government has time to take pause. It is not too late. But please, before you create this structural deficit, those the government says it is helping, the children, are the ones who are going to have pay it back.

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 2Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

Thank you very much.

First of all, I am not going to create the deficit. I would just encourage members not to use the word “you” in the House. It would be so much easier.

The member will have about two minutes left for her speech the next time this is before the House, plus her questions and answers.

It being 1:30 p.m. the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business, as listed on today's order paper.

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-224, An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (assistance — drug overdose), as reported (without amendment) from the committee.

Good Samaritan Drug Overdose ActPrivate Members' Business

1:30 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

There being no amendment motions at report stage, the House will now proceed without debate to the putting of the question on the motion to concur in the bill at report stage.

Good Samaritan Drug Overdose ActPrivate Members' Business

1:30 p.m.

Liberal

Ron McKinnon Liberal Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC

Good Samaritan Drug Overdose ActPrivate Members' Business

1:30 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Good Samaritan Drug Overdose ActPrivate Members' Business

1:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.