House of Commons Hansard #154 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was tax.

Topics

Government Response to PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8) I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to five petitions.

Canadian HeritageCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Hedy Fry Liberal Vancouver Centre, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the fourth report of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage in relation to Bill C-311, An Act to amend the Holidays Act (Remembrance Day).

The committee has studied the bill and has decided to report the bill back to the House with amendments.

Procedure and House AffairsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Liberal Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 28th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.

The committee advises that, pursuant to Standing Order 91.1(2), the Subcommittee on Private Members’ Business met to consider the order for the second reading of a private member’s bill originating in the Senate, and recommends that the item listed herein, which it has determined should not be designated non-votable, be considered by the House.

Also, the committee advises that, pursuant to Standing Order 91.1(2), the Subcommittee on Private Members’ Business met to consider the item added to the Order of Precedence on Friday, February 24, 2017, and recommended that the item listed herein, which it has determined should not be designated non-votable, be considered by the House.

Animal WelfarePetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present three petitions. The first two are from outside my riding. Petitioners from Calgary are urging the government to change the treatment of animals under the Criminal Code and to remove animal cruelty crimes from the property section to strengthen language around federal provisions of the Criminal Code relating to cruelty to animals.

Falun GongPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, the second petition is from petitioners in the Toronto area urging the government to press upon the People's Republic of China that it must stop the persecution of practitioners of Falun Dafa and Falun Gong. They particularly draw attention to the horrific issue of organ harvesting.

AgriculturePetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, my third petition, from constituents within Saanich—Gulf Islands, points to the threat to the diversity of seeds and the ability of farmers, particularly in the global south, to save and preserve their own seed varieties. The petitioners call on the government and the House to adopt international aid policies to aid in seed saving, particularly for the farmers of the developing south, mostly women.

Palliative CarePetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition signed by residents of Elliot Lake who want the government to identify hospice palliative care as a defined medical service to be covered under the Canada Health Act.

The petitioners state that palliative care and hospice palliative care help improve quality of life for patients and their families as they cope with terminal illness.

These services provide relief from pain and other distressing symptoms, while affirming life and regarding dying as a natural and normal process. The petitioners tell the government that hospice palliative care does not seek to hasten or postpone death but does so much to help with pain, as well as other physical and psychological problems patients and their loved ones must deal with. For these reasons, they ask the government to do the compassionate thing and have hospice palliative care covered by the Canada Health Act so it is available to all Canadians when and where they need it.

ImmigrationPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Julie Dzerowicz Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege for me to rise in the House today to present a petition spearheaded by the Ecuadorians in my downtown riding of Davenport. To date, it has received over 1,500 signatures.

The petitioners are calling for the Parliament of Canada to pass a motion allowing the opening of a special immigration program and to fast-track the processing of sponsorship applications for those residing in the Ecuadorian provinces of Manabi and Esmeraldas who were victims of the earthquake of April 2016.

More specifically, the petitioners are asking the Government of Canada to fast-track sponsorship applications for family and extended family members, including siblings, cousins, aunts, and uncles; to allow for private sponsors under group-of-five and community-sponsored programs; and to increase the quota of working holiday visas for young persons.

This petition was presented by Ecutorianos Unidos-Canada and supported by the Latin American Collective, the Latin American Tenants Association of GTA , and the generous support of community volunteers.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I would ask that all questions be allowed to stand at this time.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

The Speaker?

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:10 a.m.

Sturgeon River—Parkland Alberta

Conservative

Rona Ambrose ConservativeLeader of the Opposition

moved:

That, given the failure of the government to achieve the economic and employment objectives presented in Budget 2016, and given the growing protectionist and competitive threat from the United States, the House call on the government to ensure that Budget 2017 includes: (a) no further tax hikes on Canadian families, businesses, seniors or students; (b) immediate measures to encourage companies to hire young Canadians and address the youth unemployment crisis; (c) a credible plan to return to a balanced budget by 2019 as promised to Canadians; and (d) no plan to sell Canadian airports that involves (i) using the revenues to finance the Canada Infrastructure Bank, (ii) selling them to investors or enterprises that are under the political influence of foreign governments, (iii) higher user fees for Canadian taxpayers and travellers.

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Since today is the final allotted day for the supply period ended March 26, 2017, the House will go through the usual procedures to consider and dispose of the supply bills. In view of recent practices, do hon. members agree that the bills be distributed now?

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

Rona Ambrose Conservative Sturgeon River—Parkland, AB

Mr. Speaker, as the official opposition, it is the Conservative Party's responsibility to tell the Prime Minister what hard-working Canadian families expect to see in his budget tomorrow.

Canada’s Conservatives are the voice of the taxpayer. We focus on results for Canadians.

Budget day used to be an exciting time for Canadians. Looking at some of our past Conservative budgets, I was thinking about the day before the budget in the 10 years we were in government. It was an exciting day, because we all knew that the next day, we would be giving Canadians a break. For all those people back home who are working hard, who are struggling, who are working in their small businesses, who are worried about their kids, we knew we would be giving them a break. We did that in every consecutive budget, so it was an exciting time.

Our plan created 1.1 million net new jobs. It cut taxes to their lowest level in 50 years and increased health transfers to the provinces by 70%. We had a very aggressive free trade agenda. We introduced tax free savings accounts so families could save for their retirement and for their future. We introduced income splitting so couples could afford to have a family. Business confidence was high. However, today, the day before this budget, people feel anxiety. There is anxiety all across the country, and people are wondering when the other shoe is going to drop. Question after question keeps coming up. I have never seen anything like this before a budget day in the House of Commons.

Small-business owners are wondering, families are wondering, “Are the Liberals going to raise capital gains taxes?” They say they are, we just do not know when. “Are they going to come after our homes? Are they going to come after my business?” These are the questions people are asking. “What tax credit are they going to take away from my family that I use day in, day out to make life more affordable? What is next? What taxes are the Liberals going to raise?” These are the kinds of questions Canadians are asking.

Business investment is at an all-time low. Business confidence is low. This is the kind of business climate and economic climate the Prime Minister has created.

This will be the Prime Minister's second budget, and we are now encouraging the government to seize this opportunity to change course, but all indications are that it will not. There is so much anxiety, in fact, that the Liberals are not even going out to their ridings after the budget.

I think back to the 10 years we were in government. Not only was the day before a budget exciting, because we knew we were going to give hard-working Canadians yet another break, but we were excited to get out to our ridings to tell everyone about it. We would meet with our chambers of commerce. We would meet with all of the families and business owners in our communities, excited to tell them about how we made their lives more affordable.

Do members know what the Liberals are doing? They are staying here for the weekend for an emergency caucus meeting. I guess they are a little embarrassed about what might be in this budget and what might not be in this budget.

After a year and a half, the evidence is clear. There are a lot of broken promises and there is a lot of spending, but no results for hard-working Canadians. Let us go back to the Prime Minister's original election promise, that he was going to borrow his way to prosperity. He was going to borrow only $10 billion in order to grow the economy and create jobs. On that first part, on the borrowing, Canadians got a lot more than they bargained for. On the second part, the job creating, they got far less than they deserved.

The promise to borrow no more than $10 billion has been forgotten, broken even before last year's budget was presented. The deficit is now much higher—we will know how much higher tomorrow—because of an irresponsible policy of increased spending that has been described as unprecedented in modern times.

In a report that was quietly released right before Christmas, the Department of Finance admitted that the government will not be able to balance the budget for at least 30 years. Under the Liberal plan, the next generation will be forced to pay down our generation's debt. Canadians who are 18 years old today will not see a balanced budget until at least the age of 50.

Imagine, a Canadian who turns 18 years old today will not see a balanced budget until he or she is 50 years old. I do not remember this being in the Liberals' election platform.

The Prime Minister broke one of his key election promises when he said that he promised to balance the budget by 2019. He still believes, apparently, that the budget will balance itself, and those words are just as foolish today as when he said them during the campaign.

What have Canadians actually got for all of this spending and red ink? Growth is no higher than before the borrowing began. The Prime Minister is not growing our economy; he is just growing the size of government.

Let me repeat that. The Prime Minister borrowed all of this money. He put the next generation in debt and this generation in debt and he has not actually created any growth. He is not creating the jobs that he promised, so what was it all for? It was to grow the size of government.

Imagine: the Prime Minister actually promised to add 0.5% to GDP in 2016. He was very specific. However, Statistics Canada data shows that the economy grew no faster than initially projected. The only thing he is growing is the size of government.

He promised he would spend this money on infrastructure, but guess what—the infrastructure funds are not flowing into critical projects like roads, highways, or bridges. I know that people in my home province of Alberta hoped the government would get the shovels in the ground so those jobs would be created, but in fact the construction industry shrank by 3.3% last year. The shovels are not in the ground and jobs are not being created through infrastructure projects.

Now the Prime Minister is looking for more money anywhere he can find it to fund his pet project, the so-called infrastructure bank, because apparently there are not enough banks in Canada. All of us are concerned that the money that the Liberal Party and the Prime Minister desperately needs will come from a sale of important assets, such as Canada's airports. Private investment might be beneficial for Canadian airports, but the complete lack of transparency about a proposed sale leaves Canadians asking a lot of questions, such as whether this is in our national interest, whether this is just a fire sale to fund the Prime Minister's reckless spending, or whether it will increase costs for travellers, businesses, or airport authorities.

This is not about a vision or strategy. It is just because the Prime Minister has run out of money and needs to find more. A botched airport sell-off does not protect Canadian travellers and could also lead to dramatically higher costs, but we have none of those questions answered.

Of course, this morning, as usual, the Prime Minister creates all kinds of anxiety and then says the government may not do that. That creates a lot of conflict. Once again, he says he is backing away from this idea of selling off strategic assets like airports, but yesterday the Prime Minister refused to actually commit one way or another. It is not good enough to keep Canadians guessing about such a critical issue. He does this on taxes. He does this on everything. This constant indecision and lack of any clear plan or vision for our economy is creating anxiety all across the country. The Liberals move from one thing to another, from one idea that they float out there to another. They actually have no real plan.

Whether it is airports or other assets, the Prime Minister should not be selling off the furniture because he ran up the credit card. That is not a vision for this country.

Canadians pay among the highest air transportation costs in the world. Canadian families who want to go on vacation and entrepreneurs who need to travel to build and grow their businesses should not have to pay for this government's mistakes.

The rumours that airports are to be sold off at a garage sale are problematic and not just because of the costs involved. Canadians have every right to question whether selling those airports is in Canada's best interest or is simply a way for the Liberals to finance their out-of-control spending.

We also know that lurking behind of all these ideas of selling off strategic assets to an infrastructure bank, there is this idea that the Prime Minister is very welcoming to Chinese government-owned companies and their interest in buying up Canadian assets. In fact, Conservatives feel he is ready to sell just about anything to them. The sale of Canadian airports or any other strategic Canadian assets to companies with links to foreign governments must first meet a test of national interest, always, because they are strategic assets, but we have no transparency on this as well.

Let us remember that this is the same Prime Minister who held closed-door cash-for-access fundraisers where he met with people from the Chinese government and then weeks later reopened national security reviews on the sale of Canadian companies to companies that were controlled by the Chinese government.

When they hear this, Canadians rightly wonder, “Is our national security for sale to the highest bidder?” Canadians have good reasons to be concerned about the Liberals selling off assets, and we demand more transparency. Canadians do not want to see a fire sale in tomorrow's budget or the next budget. In fact, since the Prime Minister took office, Canadians are actually working less. Their paycheques are not rising, and they feel it.

The young people of our country feel it the worst. The youngest workers have now lost over 40,000 full-time jobs just in the past year. We have a youth unemployment crisis. What did the Prime Minister do? He promised an EI break for workers who hire youth. Then what did he do? He broke that promise, and instead he raised EI premiums on businesses, making them less likely to hire.

We want the budget to include immediate measures to put young Canadians back to work and address the youth unemployment crisis.

However, as we have seen, creating a realistic plan to stimulate the economy and help Canadians find good jobs is simply not a priority for this Liberal government.

However, that is not what we are going to see tomorrow. This will be a budget written by Liberal government consultants, and it will grow the size of government. For some reason, Liberals are enthralled with these latest glossy, jargon-laden consultant schemes, all about moon shots and innovation strategies, but it is really simple when we are thinking about innovating the economy. As economist Jack Mintz says, if we want to create innovation, we have to create an attractive business climate, cut red tape, lower taxes, and boost entrepreneurs' confidence in the economy.

I have a lot of confidence in Canadians and I know they are going to see right through this. They know that these buzzwords and these brochures do not actually put people to work. These flashy programs also come with a $1-billion price tag, and this bill gets paid by the millions of regular Canadians who are not so lucky to work somewhere that the Prime Minister wants to go visit for a photo op, such as New York.

Canadians see this Prime Minister's priorities. If people are fashionable and well connected and work in a certain sector that he thinks is sexy, then he is very generous. However, for the taxpayer—well, they have to pay up. They have to pay up to $2,500 per household for a new national carbon tax, and add another $2,200 per household for higher CPP premiums. Then they have to give back their family tax cut on income splitting, watch their tax-free savings account get slashed, and say goodbye to their kids' arts and fitness tax credits and the textbooks and education tax credit if they are students.

The Liberals have an innovation program for every government consultant, but to pay for it, they have a tax hike for every Canadian. Frankly, families cannot take any more of this. With the cost of living rising, the last thing they need is more government. The last thing they need is their government looking for new ways to nickel-and-dime them.

This government is taking far more from Canadians than it is giving them, and that must stop.

The situation calls for a change in direction, and that is what everybody was hoping to see tomorrow, especially when we know the United States is about to slash taxes and cut red tape to pull investment and job growth south of the border. We are already seeing it. There is a reason that business investment is already leaving Canada to go to the U.S.

We cannot meet these challenges with decades of deficits, an ever-increasing tax burden, and a government that cares more about pleasing major foreign investors than helping Canadian families get by.

Tomorrow Canadians, regular Canadians, want to see a plan that makes their jobs and their families a top priority. They want a break from the government. They want a plan that gets spending under control, focuses on real-life job creation, and stops these nickel-and-diming tax hikes.

As the voice of the taxpayer, we will be judging tomorrow's budget on whether it meets those priorities. Canadians can always rely on the Conservative Party and the opposition to put them and their families first. That is why we are calling on this House to adopt our motion today.

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

Liberal

Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, I think I will go with a comment as opposed to a question.

The atmosphere in the room is providing as much rhetoric as it normally does. However, I will say to the member's comments specifically with respect to the previous budgets and how they were embraced with such fanfare that as a municipal leader, I attended three of the four budgets proposed by the previous government. I sat up there in that gallery and I listened to them, and we usually did not come with a sense of excitement over what was to come. Instead what we witnessed was smokescreens, such as “We will eliminate the penny”, while at the same a whole bunch of other legislation was delivered through omnibus bills that lacked support for municipalities throughout the country.

There is no doubt in my mind that the budget we will see tomorrow will be one that will support the middle class, support people struggling in our country, and help to provide the infrastructure that this country so badly needs that was neglected by the previous government for 10 years.

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

Rona Ambrose Conservative Sturgeon River—Parkland, AB

Mr. Speaker, that would all be well and good, except the infrastructure funding is not even flowing. There is no money being transferred to municipalities and projects are not getting out the door. Mayors are saying that across the country, so I am not sure what the member is talking about.

I would like to remind the member of the record of the previous government. We lowered taxes over 100 times for individual Canadians and business owners. It was the lowest tax level in 50 years at the federal level. We balanced the budget. That was not an easy thing to do after taking on a deficit, but we slowly and prudently paid it off. At the same time, we increased federal transfers to the provinces by 70% for health care so that people did not go without the essential services that they needed for their families.

However, the current government is going completely in the opposite direction. All of the money it has spent has done nothing to create growth or create jobs. All it has done is grow the size of government, and who is paying for it? It is the hard-working people of Canada. They are paying for it. Every time we turn around, there is another tax increase, another fee increase, all to pay for the Prime Minister's pet projects. Who has to do this? This is all on the backs of hard-working people.

Every day the Liberals find another way to nickel and dime Canadian families and take away from them the things that we gave them to make life more affordable, even the tax-free savings account. This is after-tax income. People have worked hard for it. They are saving for their retirement, and the Liberals are taking half of that away.

There was a tax credit for textbooks. People use these things so that they can make life more affordable if they have students in their house. There was a tax credit for tuition. These are the kinds of things that they just keep taking away from families. They are nickel-and-diming Canadians to pay for their own priority, which is growing the size of government.

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate and thank my colleague from the Conservative Party for her speech and her motion.

This is a motion we can really sink our teeth into. It covers quite a bit, but I am going to focus on one aspect on which we can all agree. Canada's airports are a public asset. They belong to us all. There are troubling rumours swirling around that the Liberal government wants to have a fire sale and pay the rent by selling the furniture, the airports, to private interests. Let us consider who will pay the price. Passengers, people who travel, are the ones who will pay the price. Our airports are currently being managed by not-for-profit organizations that have to self-finance. They already charge fees to passengers, but they are not required to make a profit or a get a return on investment. If the government sells these public assets that belong to us all and puts them in the hands of private companies, these companies will obviously want to make a profit. That is the point of buying the assets. What will those companies do? There are two ways to make a profit. They will either cut back on the quality of service and perhaps our level of our security, the health, safety, and working conditions of workers, or they will charge additional fees. One way or another, either airport workers, clients, or passengers will pay the price.

I would like the leader of the Conservative Party to share her thoughts. Did the Liberals get a mandate from voters to privatize our airports?

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

Rona Ambrose Conservative Sturgeon River—Parkland, AB

No, Mr. Speaker, they do not. I agree with the hon. member about this issue; there is absolutely no transparency around this.

Ports and airports, in particular, are strategic assets. When there is a thought of selling them, we need complete transparency. The member is right about the issue of profit, because we know who the Prime Minister has been meeting with behind closed doors. He has been meeting with a lot of very wealthy investment companies that are looking to buy up assets. They only want assets that they will make a profit off, of course, because this is what they do for a living. If they are going to buy an airport, they are only going to buy one if they can make a profit off it. The member is exactly right. Therefore, where is the transparency about who is going to pay for this? Of course we know who is going to pay for this. The travelling customer, the taxpayer, will pay for it. This is all to make a profit for a private investment firm.

The Prime Minister does have to come clean on this because he is making a transaction that will hurt the public for a profit for an investment firm. Right now we have no transparency around this. We also hear that the Prime Minister might actually put up public money to fund this kind of an interaction or this kind of arrangement with a private sector company.

Let me get this straight. Taxpayers have already paid for this asset, and now we are going to pay for a private investment company to buy it so that we can now pay again. How does that in any way—

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

An hon. member

That is Liberal financing.

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

Rona Ambrose Conservative Sturgeon River—Parkland, AB

That is Liberal financing.

How does that in any way benefit the taxpayer?

At the end of the day, we have the Prime Minister nickel and diming families and businesses over and over again with tax hikes, and his solution is to give a benefit to a private investment firm at the expense of taxpayers. No, this plan has not been thought through whatsoever. Once again, I think it is just a way for the Liberals to find some fast money to pay for their pet projects.

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

Kevin Sorenson Conservative Battle River—Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, the leader of my party gave a great speech, contrasting former budgets with what we are seeing today.

One thing we all know here in this House is that tomorrow's budget will be written in red ink. It will all be red ink. There will be no talk about balanced budgets; there will be no plan. The Prime Minister made the commitment and promised that; and right away, in the first budget, backed away from it. We know that will not be mentioned. We know that the other contrast with former Conservative budgets was that we lowered taxes to increase economic growth opportunities for people and for business. We know that will not happen. The government has committed to new taxation, whether it is payroll taxes or small business taxes. Those are some of the things we know about.

We know that in former budgets Conservatives supported families, especially seniors. We created things like tax-free savings accounts and changes to the RRIF and universal child care benefits. We know the government is bent on taking those tax breaks away and creating new taxes.

The leader of my party mentioned in her speech a number of job-creating opportunities that the budget could have. I am wondering if she would elaborate a bit on that. The government has backed away from tax cuts to small and medium-sized business. If we talk about middle class, we cannot really speak about middle class without talking about small and medium-sized business.

I would ask the leader of my party to elaborate a little on missed opportunities and things the government should be bringing forward to help businesses that are the job creators.

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

Conservative

Rona Ambrose Conservative Sturgeon River—Parkland, AB

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is exactly right. We all know, although I do not think the Liberals know that—breaking news—governments do not create jobs. Businesses create jobs; individual Canadians create jobs. It is our job in this place to create the climate for that and allow them to reach their potential to do the things they want to do, like start a new business.

How do we do that? We lower taxes. We put in place the right measures so that when they take that risk and invest their own hard-earned money to start that new business, buy that equipment, and hire that new first employee, there will be some kind of return for that investment. That is not what we are seeing now. We are seeing, across the country, income taxes over 50%. The Prime Minister talked about helping youth, and that has just been thrown right out the window. Youth is where we really need to focus our efforts. What did he do? He is punishing small businesses with all kinds of taxes, to the point where there are not jobs available for youth today.

There are a lot of things this government could have done differently. Conservatives are going to keep pushing the government to do the right thing.

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe New Brunswick

Liberal

Ginette Petitpas Taylor LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise before the House today to talk about our ongoing support for Canadian youth and seniors. I am glad the member opposite has raised this important issue, which is so vital to the economic well-being of our nation.

Youth and seniors are high on our government's agenda. There is no doubt about that. Since we took office in 2015, we have brought in real, tangible changes that are making a real difference for Canadians both young and old.

Youth represent our present and our future in Canada. They lead, shape, and transform this country. When we invest in our youth, we are investing in a brighter future for all of us. With that said, let me start by outlining the support we provide to young Canadians.

In budget 2016, we increased our investment to the youth employment strategy, better known as the YES program, by $278.4 million. The fund is being used to create new jobs for youth and increase the number of youth who access the skills program. It also increases job opportunities for young Canadians in the heritage sector, and it increases the number of jobs offered through the Canada summer jobs program. In fact, the Canada summer jobs program created more than 65,800 jobs last summer, essentially doubling the number of jobs created, compared to the previous year. Our investment has yielded real results for young Canadians.

Apart from making investments in our youth programs, we know that we need to identify barriers to youth employment. This is why we launched the expert panel on youth employment initiatives in October 2016 as a way to improve the opportunities for all youth in Canada. The panel's findings will play a key role in identifying future investments in youth programs, including ways to enhance our youth employment strategy.

For young Canadians to get good jobs, they first need to get a good education. With this in mind, we will continue to work with our provincial and territorial governments regarding the implementation of the Canada student loans and grant measures. In fact, as of August 1, 2016, we kept our promise and increased Canada's student grants by 50% for students from low- and middle-income households. This will help an estimated 247,000 students from low-income families and 100,000 students from middle-income families, as well as about 60,000 low-income part-time students each year.

We are doing more. Starting August 1, 2017, students from low-income families will only have to contribute $1,500 per school year, with contributions rising to a maximum of $3,000 for students with a higher family income. This change will allow students to work and gain valuable market experience without having to worry about the reduction in their level of financial assistance. It will also simplify the application process for student financial assistance, making the Canada student loans program more transparent and more predictable for our youth. Furthermore, students with identified employment barriers will not be expected to make a contribution, including students who self-identify as indigenous, students with permanent disabilities, and students with dependents.

In November 2016, we also increased the repayment assistance plan threshold to ensure that no students will have to repay their student loan until they have reached earnings of at least $25,000 per year. We estimate that about 23,000 additional borrowers will have lower, more affordable payments if they apply for their repayment assistance plan.

Helping families plan for education expenses is also key and very important. The Canada learning bond is money the Government of Canada deposits into registered education savings plans for children to help save for their post-secondary education. The government is committed to working in collaboration with the provinces and territories to promote the benefits of early savings for post-secondary education in RESPs for all Canadians to ease access to the CLB for low-income Canadians. These measures are making post-secondary education more affordable for Canadians.

Post-secondary education is an invaluable asset in today's job market, but employers are looking for more than a person with a degree. They also need the experience and the skills to succeed in today's workforce. That is not something we can teach in a classroom.

That is why our government has invested more than $73 million over four years to support the student work-integrated learning program. One might ask what exactly this initiative is. The goal is very simple: the program will help ensure that students develop the foundational, entrepreneurial, and business skills required to secure meaningful employment in high-demand occupations in the fields of science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and business.

We need to work with colleges and universities to prepare the next generation of Canadians for the highly skilled jobs that are out there, and we need to ensure that Canadian employers can bring about and benefit from co-op and work-integrated learning opportunities. Under our government, more students and workers will have access to co-op placements, work-integrated learning opportunities, and summer jobs so they can get the skills they need and their employers need.

Let us take a moment now to talk about seniors. I have covered the extensive support we have provided to youth, and now I would like to turn my attention to seniors.

Seniors are among the most valuable members of our society. They actively contribute to their families, to our communities, and to our economy, but they can also be among the most vulnerable of our society, especially low-income seniors.

We are proud to report that Canada has one of the lowest rates in the world of seniors living in low income. Our latest numbers indicate that, in 2013, 3.7% of our seniors were considered low income. However, Statistics Canada tells us that about 192,000 seniors still live below the low-income cut-off. These valued Canadians are struggling to make ends meet at a time in their lives when most are not able to work. Our government believes that all Canadians deserve to live out their senior years with respect and dignity. They should also be able to have peace of mind knowing that their needs will be taken care of. We also have to keep in mind that the demographic composition of this country is changing very fast. I, for one, know that in the province of New Brunswick, where I am from, we are actually at the point that the death rate is outnumbering the birth rate. It is very concerning.

Predictions are that seniors will make up nearly one-quarter of the population by 2030. Millions more Canadiens will be eligible for the OAS and the CPP over the coming years. We are talking about hard-working Canadians who contributed to this country their entire lives and paid into the tax system. When they enter retirement, it is time for us to give them the support they need in recognition of the contributions they have made to Canada during their entire working years. That is where the old age security program comes in.

The old age security program, also known as OAS, has a clear purpose: to provide a minimum level of income to seniors and contribute to their income replacement in retirement. The OAS program is composed of a number of benefits. The first is the OAS pension, which is paid to everyone who is 65 years old and older and who meet the residence and legal status requirements. The second is the guaranteed income supplement for low-income seniors. The third is the allowances for low-income Canadians from ages 60 to 64 who are the spouses or common-law partners of GIS recipients or who are widowers or widows.

The previous government increased the eligibility age of OAS from 65 to 67 years old. These changes were set to take place starting in 2023. However, changing the age of eligibility is unfair to Canadians who have worked hard their entire lives and cannot, for a variety of reasons, continue to work at the ages of 65 and 66. This government will not leave low-income seniors high and dry at a time when they need our support the most. That is why our government set specific goals to support Canadian seniors and ensure economic security for them.

First and foremost, we have repealed the previous government's measures to move the eligibility age for old age security and the guaranteed income supplement from 65 to 67. This will put thousands of dollars in the pockets of the lowest-income Canadians each year as they become seniors.

We are not just maintaining the status quo. We are taking clear steps to help lift thousands of seniors out of poverty. In this spirit, we are increasing the guaranteed income supplement for low-income seniors by 10%. This will give one million of our most vulnerable seniors up to almost $1,000 per year. This is much needed support for our most vulnerable in our society. We will also consider a new seniors price index to make sure that the old age security and income supplement benefit keep up with seniors' actual rising costs.

Let us take a moment now to talk about the CPP, Canada pension plan, measures. Retirement income security starts with a good, stable, public pension program. This is more important than ever at a time when many Canadians are not saving enough for their retirement. In particular, middle-class families without workplace pension plans are at a greater risk of under-saving for retirement. A third of these families are at risk. While those in workplaces where pension plans are faring a little better, 17% of them are still under-saving, and they are not the only ones feeling the pinch. Economic conditions since the global recession of 2008 pose a particular risk for younger Canadians.

With this as a backdrop, we have enhanced the Canada pension plan. Last summer, Canada's finance ministers reached a historic agreement to make meaningful changes to the CPP that will allow Canadians to retire with more money in their pockets. The CPP enhancement will increase the benefits that people receive when they retire. This also means that contributions will increase accordingly, typically 1% for most people, and cash benefits will accumulate gradually as individuals pay into their enhanced CPP.

Young Canadians just entering the workforce will see the largest increase in benefits. What does that mean for future generations? That is a good question. As my fellow members know, the CPP is currently designed to replace a quarter of our income in retirement. The changes we are proposing will increase that percentage to fully one-third, so if someone earns $50,000 a year over their working life, they will receive about $16,000 per year in retirement, instead of today's $12,000 per year.

To fund these enhanced benefits, annual CPP contributions will increase modestly over seven years, starting in 2019. For example, individuals who make $54,900 per year will contribute about an additional $75 per year, or $6 a month, starting in 2019. By the end of the seven-year phase-in program in 2025, their contributions will amount to an additional $515 per year, or $43 per month.

Employee contributions to the enhanced portion of the CPP will also be tax deductible. Providing a tax deduction for new employee CPP contribution will avoid increasing the after-tax cost of saving for Canadians.

I used the amount of $54,900 per year in my example because this is currently what we call the year's maximum pensionable earnings when we talk about CPP. This means that everyone contributes 4.95% of their income up to that amount. Once these enhancements are fully implemented in 2025, the maximum will increase by about 14% to $82,700. An individual who makes $80,000 a year over his or her working life will get a third of that per year in retirement from his or her CPP.

Helping people plan for their retirement is among the key elements of long-term economic and social stability, and in fact Canada has a long history of doing so. Our retirement income system is widely recognized around the world as one of the best. A stronger CPP is the core promise we made to middle-class Canadians, and we are very proud that with the collaboration with the provinces, we have been able to deliver these important enhancements. Our government is fully committed to supporting seniors and giving them a dignified retirement.

We are also giving equal attention to our youth. By focusing on education and job training, we are giving young people the support they need to steer Canada to economic success both today and in the future.

In closing, tomorrow, our government will cement this commitment as we table budget 2017.

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am growing more and more concerned. The Liberal government said it was going to have a $10-billion deficit. We now hear comments that this budget is going to be focused on people's feelings. People's feelings; that is absolutely ludicrous. We have a government that thinks the budget will balance itself and that an economy grows from the heart out.

When the member opposite was campaigning, did she stand in any forum or at any door and commit to a budget that would get back to balance by 2019, a $10-billion deficit? What is she going to do to make sure that she sees those commitments through for the constituents she made those promises to?

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.

Liberal

Ginette Petitpas Taylor Liberal Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Mr. Speaker, what I told constituents when I was campaigning and knocking at their doors was that our commitment to middle-class Canadians was that we were going to work hard for them. When I spoke to my constituents, I told them we would enhance the CPP. I also advised constituents at the door that we wanted to put in place the Canada child benefit program, which has lifted hundreds of thousands of children out of poverty.

We also indicated to our constituents, or I did anyway, that we were going to be increasing the guaranteed income supplement for low-income seniors. When I attended several senior citizens' homes and provided them with that information, I could see how relieved they were, because that $1,000 additional amount they were going to be receiving per year was going to make a real difference in their lives. It was going to allow them opportunities to buy groceries or to pay for whatever expenses they had.

Our government is focused on helping middle-class Canadians, which is exactly what we are doing.

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I was wondering if my colleague while canvassing and speaking to people during the last election campaign talked about the fact that the Liberal government might privatize the airports. I never saw that in one debate. I never saw that in the program of the Liberal Party, but still the Liberals are not closing the door to that possibility.

Right now, airports are a public asset managed by non-profit organizations. Those airports are paying rent of about $1 billion per year to the federal government. If the government sells all those airports, the quality of service will decrease and fees for passengers will increase. Let us say the government sells them for $8 billion. In the ninth and 10th years, they will begin to lose money. It is a short-term sell-off to try to balance the books, and it is going to be a disaster, like Hydro One in Ontario. Sell, sell, sell, but after that the people, the clients, the consumers, will pay the bill, not the Liberal government.

I ask the member if the Liberal government will or will not privatize the public airports in our country.

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

Ginette Petitpas Taylor Liberal Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his question.

During the 2015 election campaign, we promised to support the middle class and those working very hard to join it, especially the most vulnerable. Our plan provides for concrete steps. First, we said that we would cut taxes for the middle class. We also said that we would introduce the Canada child benefit, and then we would help our seniors.

With respect to airports, the Minister of Transport clearly said that any decision made would ultimately benefit travellers.

At this point, we must wait for the budget to be tabled tomorrow to finally see what initiatives will be implemented.

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, I was very relieved and impressed by how much time the parliamentary secretary focused on talking about seniors in our country. This is something that I heard about when I was out canvassing during the last election campaign. Seniors and those getting close to the age of retirement are seriously concerned about what their future looks like. In fact, the World Health Organization now says that there are more people over the age of 65 than under the age of 14, for the first time in human history.

I am wondering if the parliamentary secretary could provide some input as to how she thinks what this government is doing and proposes to do for seniors will have a real impact on seniors in our country and in her riding in particular.

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

Ginette Petitpas Taylor Liberal Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Mr. Speaker, during campaign 2015 when I knocked on doors and talked with seniors about what we were proposing to do for seniors, it hit really close and near and dear to my heart. I am the youngest child of a family of nine kids. My father was a janitor, and my mom was a stay-at-home mom, so we are talking about middle-class Canadians who worked very hard to raise the family. My parents actually depend on the guaranteed income supplement and the OAS. When I was able to go to doors and speak to people about the real difference this investment can make to Canadians, I really spoke from the heart, because my parents could see what that tangible difference was going to mean in their monthly budget and also in their pocketbook.

What does the increase that we have made mean? As indicated, when we look at the projections over a year, we can see that is almost $1,000 that those people are going to have in their pockets. Again, that can contribute to purchases that they are going to be able to make throughout that year, whether it be medication, groceries, whatever they choose to invest their money in. The other important thing this government did was to enhance the CPP, the Canada pension plan. We have been able to work collaboratively with the provinces and we have all come to the agreement that this is the best way to move forward as we want to ensure that our seniors have a dignified retirement. Finally, we have lowered taxes for middle-class Canadians. Again, that is a step in the right direction. That is exactly what we are going to continue doing moving forward, helping middle-class Canadians and those working hard to join the middle class.

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.

Conservative

David Tilson Conservative Dufferin—Caledon, ON

Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the member could tell us who the middle class is.

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

Ginette Petitpas Taylor Liberal Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Mr. Speaker, middle-class Canadians are hard-working Canadians, just as my neighbour here indicated. When we campaigned at the doors, we heard what the priorities were for Canadians. We have indicated to them very clearly that our priority was to focus on their needs. That is why we put in place the Canada child benefit program. That is why we lowered taxes for middle-class Canadians and why we are continuing to move forward in putting programs in place that can absolutely assist them. From there, we have also made some historic investments when it comes to infrastructure. As a result of those investments, we have been able to see that jobs are being created and from there the economy is stimulated.

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

11 a.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, if the Liberals want to help the middle class, why do they not lower taxes for everyone earning less than $45,000 a year, or everyone who makes less than $23 an hour, which is the majority of Canadian workers? Why do the Liberals not include those people in the middle class?

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

11 a.m.

Liberal

Ginette Petitpas Taylor Liberal Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Mr. Speaker, first, I would like to remind the member that the first thing our government did was cut taxes for the middle class and also increase taxes for the wealthiest 1%. The opposition party, however, voted against that proposal.

In addition to that, it was our government that introduced the Canada child benefit, again to help lift hundreds of thousands of children out of poverty. I will reiterate that we increased the amount of the guaranteed income supplement for seniors.

We implemented initiatives and our program is working.

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

11 a.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, first of all, I wish to inform you that I will be sharing my time with the incredible, fantastic member for Windsor—Tecumseh.

I want to pick up on what our Liberal colleague just said. According to the Liberal government's definition, the middle class does not include any workers who earn less than $45,000 a year. Those workers did not benefit in any way from the tax cuts the Liberals have been bragging about for the past year. They did not get one red cent. That is a rather strange definition of middle class. The people who benefited the most from Liberal tax cuts are those who earn between $90,000 and $210,000 a year. Those folks got a rebate of $270, while the workers who need it the most got absolutely nothing. Zero.

I will now talk about the bragging the Liberals have been doing about infrastructure. Our regions, our cities, and our towns desperately need the government to invest in infrastructure, not only to stimulate the economy and economic growth, but also, quite simply, to help businesses move their goods, their services, and their employees.

As the parliamentary budget officer pointed out recently, although the Liberals made a big deal out of their $13.6-billion announcement, only $4.6 billion of that has actually been or is about to be invested. That means about 75% of the total was a figment. The people doing the work in public service and municipal government have not seen a penny of it. That money is not doing anything to create jobs or stimulate the economy. We need to take Liberal promises with a grain of salt.

I am very much looking forward to tomorrow's budget speech to see if there will be any new developments in this area. The Liberals will talk about innovation and training workers, but what they announce is likely to differ from what they actually invest. Unfortunately, there is a big difference between what this government says and what it does.

I would like to talk about the Conservative Party's opposition day motion. We do agree about one thing: privatizing Canadian airports is dangerous. I am surprised that the Liberal government is even considering this because there was no mention of it during the election campaign or in the Liberal platform. Maybe I should not be too surprised, because the Liberals often say something but do not do it. Electoral reform is a prime example of that. On other matters, they keep mum, only to spring unpleasant surprises on us, such as this airport business.

Right now, federal airports in Canada belong to everyone. They are public assets. Our airports are managed by airport authorities and non-profit organizations. They have to self-fund, which is why we have airport fees. Their purpose is not to turn a profit or generate a return on investment. They also pay rent to the government, a total of about one billion dollars a year.

Right now it feels like the federal government is in panic mode. It is trying to sell our belongings so it can gain control of its massive deficit. That is shortsighted. There are two ways for the airports to turn a profit: either make cuts to services, jobs, and the working conditions of airport employees, or increase fees. Passengers are going to end up paying out of their pockets. They are literally going to pay the price. All those who travel in the country or abroad will pay the price for the Liberals' nasty little surprise, its move to privatization. Will private foreign companies be allowed to buy our airports? Airports provide not just any public service. They are also part of a very strategic infrastructure. At the risk of fearmongering, not only is this a bad idea, but it could also lead us down a path that we do not want to take.

The Liberal government has been skating around this issue for two months now. It refuses to answer questions and avoids the issue. We know that the Liberal government hired a firm to study the pros and cons of privatizing airports. Who was hired to conduct this study? A company called Credit Suisse, an international company that specializes in privatizing airports and ports. That gives us an idea of where they are going with this. I am sure that Credit Suisse will provide a fully impartial and neutral report. Yeah, right. The people in that company are extremely biased. It is their business. It is what they do for a living.

This fire sale might bring in $8 billion, $9 billion, or $12 billion. That is a quick cash injection, but since airports are a source of revenue for the federal government, what will it do in year 9, 10, or 12? That is when the government will start losing money and then it will be too late. It will be over. It is the passengers who will pay the price.

To ensure that everybody understands the message, I will continue in English on the same issue of the privatization of our airports. The Liberals never said anything during their campaign. It was not in their political platform. Suddenly it is a bad surprise for everybody. There is an option that is probably on the table to sell our airports. Right now federal airports are the property of everybody in the country. It is a common good. It is a service for all travellers. Those airports are managed by non-profit organizations. They have to raise enough money to function, but they are not there to make profit. Therefore, what will happen if the Liberals sell off our airports?

The private company that will buy them will need to make money, and there are only two ways to do that: decrease the services, the quality of services, or the working conditions of the employees at the airports, or increase the fees that passengers pay to use the services at airports. At the end of the day, travellers will literally pay the price for a bad decision by the Liberal government. We do not have any clear answer on that, but the door is wide open right now.

We know the Liberal government asked a company to study the advantages and disadvantages of eventually selling and privatizing airports. Who did the government ask to do that? It was Credit Suisse. What does Credit Suisse do? It provides counselling for the privatization of public assets like airports. The conclusion is already quite clear.

I want to point out that there is another part of the Conservative motion that New Democrats strongly oppose, which is forbidding the government to increase taxation on individuals or companies. The New Democrats do not think it is a good idea for the CEOs of the country, in big companies like banks and oil companies, not to pay their fair share for good public services, like taking care of seniors, health care, child care, and housing.

Right now, the average pay of the 100 highest-paid CEOs in our country is $9.5 million per year. They are earning 193 times the average pay of Canadian workers. There are growing inequalities in the country. If we cannot raise taxes on big companies or eliminate some loopholes, such as the stock option deduction, for the richest in our country, we will not have the resources we need to take care of our neighbours, to create good jobs, or to take care of our environment and health care.

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:10 a.m.

Gatineau Québec

Liberal

Steven MacKinnon LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Services and Procurement

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech. We are debating a Conservative motion that wants to set out the broad terms of the government's budgetary policy. I am really not very surprised that the NDP seems to agree once more with the Conservative Party's budgetary policy. During the last election, they said that the budget had to be balanced at any cost. However, when we took power we discovered the terrible economic legacy the previous government left us.

I am giving my hon. colleague the opportunity to reconsider, to rise, and to tell us, on behalf of his party, whether he regrets having said that the budget had to be balanced at any cost rather than helping the middle class and those in need in our country, as we are doing.

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:10 a.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will refute the premise of that intervention.

On a more serious note, we are extremely concerned that the Liberal government seems to be spending recklessly and not investing where it is really needed. I think that the case of social infrastructure and public infrastructure is a good example. Only 25% of what was announced was really spent. We are extremely concerned about this trend towards privatization.

I talked about airport privatization, but there is also the infrastructure investment bank, which is apparently intended to include private partners brought in on a massive scale to take care of our public infrastructure. This is completely contrary to the Liberal rhetoric during the election campaign. They said it was time to invest in our infrastructure because interest rates were low. They ranged from about 2% to 2.5%. It does not cost much to borrow money to invest, stimulate the economy, and create economic growth.

However, they are telling us that they want to include private partners, who are going to ask for 7% or 9% returns on their investment, while we could borrow that money at 2%. Why do we need to pay 7% or 9% returns to private companies, when we could have this money at only 2%? That does not make sense.

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:10 a.m.

Conservative

Dianne Lynn Watts Conservative South Surrey—White Rock, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have one question. The member mentioned the review of the eight top airports: Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa, Winnipeg, and Halifax. He also mentioned that the Liberals were reviewing the ownership of 18 Canadian ports. They have said that any privatization or selling off airports would go to fund an infrastructure bank, which would provide a return on investment of 7% to 9%, which is unheard of.

I would like the member to comment on the fact that the Liberals are also reviewing 18 Canadian ports.

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:15 a.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for the question.

Indeed, ports are also included in this study, this Liberal government review. That has us concerned as well. It brings up the same fee- and security-related problems for the companies or individuals that use these port facilities. It feels like the Liberals are doing this to please their cronies, certain privileged friends and an elite group that has connections to the Liberal Party. This does not serve the public interest and neither does the Liberal Party's broken promise to close the tax loophole for stock options deductions that benefit a very small portion of the population. This loophole costs us $800 million a year and two thirds of that money goes to only 75 people in the country. That is totally unacceptable.

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:15 a.m.

NDP

Cheryl Hardcastle NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today on the motion before us. As this motion is very much aspirational with respect to budget 2017, I will use my time today to talk about the things I believe Canadians need to see in it.

New Democrats have expectations for this budget that are entirely reasonable given the commitments the Liberals have made, either during the last election or since. We will welcome all concrete initiatives to address the many pressing issues facing Canadians today. Frankly, everyone has pretty much had it with rhetoric at this point. It is time to follow through.

A good way to start is by building a fairer tax system, closing loopholes for the wealthy, and cracking down on offshore tax havens. While most Canadians pay their fair share of taxes, our tax code is full of loopholes that allow the wealthiest among us to pay less. Altogether, our unfair tax system takes tens of millions of dollars from Canadians annually in lost revenues, money that should be spent to support services like health care.

The Liberals campaigned on a specific promise to address a gaping hole in our tax code that costs the government more than $800 million each year: the stock option deduction used by CEOs. They have since abandoned that promise in response to lobbying from corporate executives.

The government also curiously left untouched Stephen Harper's radically low corporate tax rates, which were slashed by a third and continue to cost the government more than $12 billion each year. In spite of this giveaway, Canadians have not seen the promised increases in investments or jobs.

The Liberals could also use this budget to deliver on promised investments in public infrastructure, rather than selling off airports and pursuing their infrastructure privatization bank scheme. While selling off Canadian assets like airports to turn a quick buck may make short-term sense, from an accounting perspective, it will leave Canadians to pay the costs through increased user fees for many years to come.

Canadians are increasingly stuck in precarious jobs characterized by part-time, low-paid, and temporary employment without benefits or pensions. Let us also hope that this budget will make a priority of creating and protecting good full-time jobs for Canadians and of improving conditions for all workers. It can implement a $15 federal minimum wage and restore promised small-business tax reductions.

Canada can also create good full-time jobs and be a leader in clean energy if the Liberals take the necessary steps to invest in home energy retrofits, to train workers for the emerging green economy, and to get critical infrastructure dollars out the door.

As Canada celebrates its 150th anniversary, it is unacceptable that indigenous people continue to face third-world conditions as a result of a long and indefensible history of chronic underfunding of services. They lack adequate access to housing, clean drinking water, mental health services, and education. The budget must make immediate investments to rectify this long-standing injustice by immediately investing the minimum required $155 million to end discrimination in the delivery of child welfare services, as per the unanimously passed NDP motion last year.

It should also provide the necessary resources to end the dozens of boil-water advisories affecting indigenous communities and ensure that all communities have access to clean, safe drinking waiter. It should, likewise, make an immediate injection for mental health services for first nation and Inuit communities to address the tragic funding shortfalls for such services, shortfalls that have been acknowledged by department officials. It should also lift the punitive 2% gap in funding transfers that continue to apply to most of the base funding that supports indigenous communities. That was a key election promise.

These commitments were made to our indigenous brothers and sisters in a very public way. The fact that the government has yet to honour them shames and embarrasses us all to no end.

Following from this, it would be great to see stable, predictable funding for the many native friendship centres throughout the country. With over half our native population living off reserve, friendship centres provide an array of services to urban natives but lack a regular funding formula. This has forced a number of these centres to close, while many others struggle from month to month to keep their doors open. On a yearly and grant basis, it is impractical to expect organizations such as our Can-Am friendship centres to consistently be able to strategize and provide these services.

It is crucial, as well, that this budget take the next steps to meet the health care needs of Canadians. Currently, one in 10 Canadians are unable to fill their prescriptions due to financial constraints. It is simply unacceptable that Canada remains the only country in the world with universal health care that does not include prescription drug coverage. It is time to fill this gap by committing to a universal pharmacare plan. This will not only make critical medicine more affordable for Canadians but will save provinces and our health care system billions in lower drug costs.

Despite lofty promises of a renewed co-operative federalism, the government has used a divide-and-conquer approach in provincial-federal health accords. It has forced deals on provinces that are, disappointingly, based on Stephen Harper's planned cuts to health care transfer increases. In fact, the Liberals, who I would like to remind this chamber were elected as a real change government, are giving only the same 3% escalator proposed by Harper for core health care funding, far short of the resources required to ensure the quality of care Canadians expect. More disturbingly, the Liberals have agreed to ignore violations of the Canada Health Act by accepting private clinics, such as MRI clinics in Saskatchewan, in order to cut a deal, another short-term gain that will result in more privatization and more costs down the line. As well, new funds for mental health and home care services are heavily back-loaded, with just 2.7% of new funds to flow in the first year. This will leave Canadians waiting for improvements and suffering.

Lastly, the Liberals made a promise to civil society groups during the previous election, as part of their successful campaign to woo progressive voters, to establish, if elected, an office of the mining ombudsperson. The ombudsperson would operate independently of government and would provide much needed oversight of Canadian extractive industries operating abroad, oversight these industries are in dire need of, given the increasing number of well-documented human rights abuses, as well as violence, associated with their operations around the world. I would say to the current government that it wooed them, it got them, and now it needs to honour its word and create this office.

One of the main reasons the Liberals were trounced out of power 12 years ago was that Canadians had grown tired of a party that seemed willing to say and do just about anything to stay in power. It has unfortunately only taken a year and half for the Liberal Party to re-establish its reputation along these lines. However, with this new budget, all could be changed. The Liberals can show Canadians that when they make a solemn commitment, they intend to follow through, or not.

We will be watching.

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:25 a.m.

Conservative

Jim Eglinski Conservative Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals are talking about possibly getting rid of our airports in Canada by selling them to the private sector. One only has to look back, as the hon. mentioned a few minutes ago, 10 or 12 years, when the Liberals were in government. They got rid of some 26 airports across Canada. They sweet-talked a lot of municipalities into taking over these airports and told them it was going to be great for them and would be given to them for a dollar.

I happen to have been a mayor of a community that took one of these airports, and I sat on that committee for many years. I think I know a thing or two about airports and privatization. I am also a commercial pilot and have put my wheels down in many airports across Canada. Of those 26 airports, a number closed. Many of them ran in the red year after year. They became white elephants.

Our airport was in the black because of the Conservative tax cuts that allowed businesses to grow in my area of northeast British Columbia. Businesses grew and supported the airport, and we could operate that airport in the black. We operated with four municipalities that worked together.

Does the member see a repetition possibly of what we saw in the early 2000s, with the 26 airports the Liberals gave away, and what might happen in the immediate future?

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Cheryl Hardcastle NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, I too have insight and experience in how privatization has impacted airports, particularly in my area. My caucus has been sounding the alarm about privatization since we learned of the very cryptic wording “flywheel for reinvestment” and “asset recycling”. In my community, a town hall is planned for March 30 about that very issue, about what happens down the road when we privatize. Obviously, I am talking about it because I am in Ontario. This is about hydro. Though that is a provincial jurisdiction, why are we not learning lessons? Why are we not looking at this?

As politicians, it is part of our job to look, to learn, and to not operate in silos. It is really frustrating to see that we are going to follow this same pattern, and we know what will happen. It is exactly what is happening right now in Ontario. We are expecting that this will happen not just with airports but with other assets.

What exactly is the government's role in intervening? It is not to facilitate corporate profit, and that is exactly what privatization does. The way the Canadian infrastructure bank is being proposed is sounding even more alarms. Issues such as what my hon. colleague mentioned are going to be heightened. It is unfortunate that we are looking at this with a very narrow view for some kind of short-term gain so that somebody can look at a piece of paper and say that it was a good idea within a six-month period. How unfortunate for us, and what a disservice to Canadians.

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:25 a.m.

Gatineau Québec

Liberal

Steven MacKinnon LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Services and Procurement

Mr. Speaker, I tried earlier with my colleague and her party, and I will try again. We saw in the last election that the Conservative Party and the NDP were pretty lined up on fiscal matters. I know that the hon. member would have campaigned very hard on that platform. I would like to give her the opportunity to perhaps stand in her place and explain whether they have done some thinking about their commitment, like the Conservatives, to at all costs balance the federal budget, whatever the costs for middle-class Canadians.

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:30 a.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

The hon. member for Windsor—Tecumseh, in 30 seconds or less, please.

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:30 a.m.

NDP

Cheryl Hardcastle NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is unfortunate that I have only 30 seconds to respond to a very simplistic argument. We have been watching and have been engaged and rethinking the campaign balanced-budget issue for a long time, and guess what? As I said earlier about making observations, nothing has changed. We can see the right thing to do for Canadians, and we can see the right thing to do with corporate taxation. People paying their fair share means that we would actually be able to invest in Canadians. This simplistic argument actually does a real disservice to Canadians who want a balanced budget and responsible services for Canadians, not this cop-out we have seen from the Liberals.

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:30 a.m.

Conservative

Gérard Deltell Conservative Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to take the floor today following the Leader of the Opposition's motion on the budget that will be tabled tomorrow.

As is the case every year, the finance minister of some government or parliament or other stages what is called a photo-op in the business, meaning a photo session on the broad strokes of the finance minister's enthusiasm. All finance ministers of every party have participated in this kind of PR exercise. Of course, this is an opportunity for the minister to show off his new shoes, as British tradition dictates.

Yesterday, what caught my attention is that the Minister of Finance was in Toronto, which is a good thing, but he had children with him. What a nice way for him to show how kind and sensitive he is to children!

However, knowing full well that our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren will have to foot the bill for the finance minister's poor fiscal mismanagement, the photo of him surrounded by children truly captures the harsh reality of this government's mismanagement.

We will have an opportunity a bit later to take a look at the Liberal government's record over the past 16 months, since the Liberals have already been in power for 16 months.

First of all, let us recall the facts. What was the state of Canada's finances at the time of the 2015 election? There was a surplus of $2.9 billion, as confirmed by the parliamentary budget officer last October 24 at the Standing Committee on Finance.

We left a clean house, with a surplus. Yes, “surplus”. This word existed under our government. It was not a deficit but a surplus, and our government had to address the worst economical crisis in the world since 1929. However, thanks to the Right Hon. Stephen Harper and those members of Parliament who supported him hard and strong, like the late Hon. Jim Flaherty, we came back as strong as possible. We came back as Canadians can come back. This was the signature of the Conservative government in the last 10 years. We left a clean house, and we were the first country in the G7 to get back on track. We were faster and better, which was Canada under the Conservative government.

Actually, we left the house in order with budget surpluses and the lowest tax rate that Canada has had in the last 50 years. All in all, Canadians had more money in their pockets at the end of the Conservative administration than in the previous 50 years. That, too, was signature Conservative.

We also had the best debt-to-GDP ratio in the G7, the most valuable legacy a government can bequeath to its constituents, and especially to the following government. Indeed, this debt-to-GDP ratio gives it the wiggle room it needs. Still, you need to know how to use it intelligently, contrary to what the Liberals have done.

Let us now remember the circumstances in which the Liberals were elected.

It was very surprising to see the successor to Paul Martin table a platform, which included a deficit. Paul Martin did a credible job as the minister of finance in the good old days of the Liberal Party when the Liberals were very afraid to have a deficit, and they fought for that. However, the successor of the Right Hon. Paul Martin, the actual Prime Minister, tabled a program in which he included a deficit. It is crazy.

What was this deficit?

Let us remember that the Liberals promised a very small deficit of $10 billion a year for three years, and then a return to a balanced budget in 2019. Hogwash.

Last year, the Liberals were very proud to table a budget that had a deficit of about $30 billion, three times higher than planned, and now they have completely lost control of public finances. We are not the ones saying it, Finance Canada officials are saying it, too. Indeed, two or three times a year, these officials conduct evaluations, assess our current situation and consider future prospects.

Now, on October 10, 2016, the Department of Finance gave the Minister of Finance a report that concludes that if nothing changes, Canada's debt will be $1.5 trillion in 2050, and if nothing changes, we will return to a balanced budget in 2055, 36 years later than expected under the Liberal agenda.

This isn't coming from the Conservatives. Department of Finance officials, the people who deal with this every day, are saying it. They see exactly what is going on. Their conclusion was brutal.

There will be a zero deficit in 2055. The government missed the target by 36 years. This is totally unacceptable but this is totally Liberal. This is the same situation.

The minister was so proud of the report. What did he do with the report? He put it on his table, not for a day, not for a week, not for a month, but for a full two months. He did not look at it for 10 weeks and then finally published it. When?

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:35 a.m.

An hon. member

Before Christmas.

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:35 a.m.

Conservative

Gérard Deltell Conservative Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Just a few hours before Christmas.

In French, there is a nice song by Beau Dommage. When did they release it? On December 23.

December 23 “Merry Christmas, Mr. [Tanguay]!”

Take it easy, little buddy! See you again on January 7...

That is the song, but we actually did meet again on January 7.

On January 7, we finally had the report. The odious face of the government was shown to everybody. The Liberals had lost control of spending.

That is the signature of the Liberal government.

Today, we are just a few hours away, 26 or 28 hours away, from the budget being tabled, and Canadians are rightfully worried. They were promised many things in the last budget, as we recall. Even today, the overblown rhetoric drones on. The Liberals spout lofty principles and claim to be thinking of the children, that they have never been as generous as with the Canada child benefit.

Hang on a second. First of all, let us recall that this program abolished all sorts of programs parents could use to help their children. This government abolished the tax credits for fitness and arts activities, the purchase of textbooks for school. This government that spouts lofty principles about helping families has eliminated a number of tax credits.

Worse still, the Liberals are all proud to say that they are spending $2 billion more than the previous government. Of course they are, they are creating a deficit. They are sending the bill to our grandchildren; they will be paying for it. Which brings me back to the picture I spoke of at the start of my speech. The Minister of Finance, surrounded by children. Of course, he told them that he will be sending them the bill later and that they are the ones who will be paying for his mismanagement.

Let us not forget that this government overlooked one small detail in its new family allowances. It forgot to factor in inflation. This is just a small detail. This small oversight turned into a $20-billion mistake. It is incredible. Any low-level accountant working for a small business, whatever it is, forgetting to factor in inflation would be quickly kicked to the curb. Now this government is patting itself on the back, pleased as Punch. They are the nice guys; they can do no wrong.

It is totally unacceptable. To forget the inflation rate when a budget of billions of dollars has to be tabled is the proof without a shadow of doubt. The Liberals have no control when it comes to spending money. This is a signature of the Liberal government.

It gets better, as the government's lofty principles do not end there. It claims Canadian workers pay less tax because it was good enough to think of the poor, hard-working folk and to punish the big bad one-percenters, those who make a good living, as if they were criminals. Come on, now! For my part, I dream of the day when the 1% will be the 10%, 20% or 30%. That is what we want. Why attack them from all fronts, on all sides?

Worse than that, these people say that they are the modern Robins Hoods, that they will make the rich pay for the less fortunate. What is the result of their tax changes, really? On Senator Larry Smith's initiative, the parliamentary budget officer was asked to assess the precise impact of these tax changes. The PBO revealed that 65% of Canadian workers saw no difference at all. Those earning $45,000 or less get $0. Those who earn $60,000 have $2 more in their pockets a week. Even worse, the biggest winners are those who earn between $140,000 and $200,000 a year. I admit to my conflict of interest, as I fall into that category of people, like every other MP. Indeed, MPs are paid handsomely.

That means this measure will benefit us the most. Those people are trying to tug at our heartstrings by saying they want to help the middle class. Well, I am sorry, but when the people earning $199,000 a year are the ones benefiting the most from these changes, that is hardly the middle class.

That is what we, as parliamentarians, have been working with up to now, so we are very concerned about what the government has planned for the budget it will be tabling tomorrow. We are especially concerned about three issues: entrepreneurs, Canadian workers and the management of public funds, and the potential sale of airports. Let me go over those one by one.

The government has been hiding the truth from Canadian workers. False promises, bad management, and saddling our children and grandchildren with crippling deficits is the name of the Liberal government's game.

Canadian workers who get up every morning only to watch half their paycheque drain away in taxes expect to get their money's worth. Eliminating tax credits for families, as we discussed earlier, does not help these people. Even worse are the new pension plan fees that will cost businesses an average of $1,000 more per worker. That is classic Liberal government.

The same goes for the Liberals' coast-to-coast carbon tax, which will hit taxpayers right in the pocketbook.

Just to be clear with everyone, the best example of that is this. The government had a study done by the civil servant about the impact to the average Canadian of the Liberal carbon tax. I thank my colleague, the member for Carleton, who day after day in the House of Commons talked about the reality of the carbon tax cover-up. The government is not so proud of this study because, without a shadow of a doubt, it concluded there would be a lot of money to grab from the pockets of the people instead of helping them.

The carbon tax will have a real impact on the average Canadian. That is why this is totally unacceptable. I extend my thanks for the hard and good job of my colleague from Carleton who has raised the issue in the House of Commons day after day. We also had a debate on it a few days ago.

Canadian taxpayers therefore have good reason to be worried about the Liberal government's upcoming budget. Let us talk about entrepreneurs.

For us, the Conservative Party of Canada, entrepreneurs form the backbone of our economy. Those people create wealth. They create jobs. They are real actors for the wealth of the Canadian economy. We shall support them as far as we can. We do not want to make things difficult for them. We must help them.

For us Conservatives, small and medium-sized business owners are the backbone of our economy. Need I remind the members of the sad day barely two years ago when the current Prime Minister said quite seriously that, as far as he was concerned, small businesses were a means to save on taxes or even evade taxes?

I understand that he was looking at himself in the mirror when he said that, but I would prefer that he respect those who risk suffering huge consequences and who are creating real jobs and real wealth.

What did the government do for those people? First, it eliminated a number of tax credits that helped stimulate economic activity for businesses. This government is going to increase pension fund premiums for every worker. Not only do employees have to pay $1,000 more for their pensions, but businesses also have to pay an extra $1,000 for each employee.

I would also remind the House that the Liberal carbon tax is going to penalize those who work to grow the economy rather than carbon producers. This is not the right approach, and we do not support it. This is why entrepreneurs ought to be supported, especially since the new American administration keeps saying that it plans to reduce fees and taxes for businesses.

Let us face facts: our Canadian businesses are going to go head to head with U.S. companies, which are both our main competitors and our main partners. They will be facing businesses that will see their taxes go down, while Canadian businesses will see theirs rise. That is not the right approach. We believe that the best way to help businesses is not to invent 36,000 programs, but to lower taxes.

Finally, let us look at airport privatization. This is worrisome because, to my knowledge, the Liberal platform did not include this measure. Every time the issue is raised, inside or outside the House, the government avoids giving a definitive answer: maybe yes, maybe no, maybe we will do this, maybe we will do that.

We are asking the government to take a firm position against this privatization. We must be vigilant. Let us keep in mind that starting on December 5, the Leader of the Opposition and I have asked about 20 questions in the House. The questions were about a possible tax on health and dental benefits. After he was asked twenty or so questions, the Prime Minister finally rose, here in the House, and said that the Liberals would not tax health and dental benefits. We were very pleased. Common sense had finally prevailed. However, six days after the Prime Minister said this, we had a vote on a motion that said exactly what the Prime Minister had said. What did he do? He opposed it. He voted against what he himself had said. What is the Liberal government's word worth? Nothing.

This is why we are concerned. When we hear the government say one thing, we know very well that it could do the opposite—not to mention that it got elected by promising to run small deficits, when in actual fact these are massive, colossal deficits, and the budget will not be back in balance until 2055. This is ludicrous, preposterous, and unacceptable.

What concerns us about airports?

Let us get one thing straight: airports are not corner stores. They are the gateway to Canada. The same goes for ports. There is an over-arching function to this kind of infrastructure that makes it different from the others. Moreover, Canadians have already paid, through their taxes, to develop the airports that we have today. If they are sold, the new owners will need to make money somewhere. This makes perfect sense in a market economy, of course. We have nothing against this principle, but can it be applied to airports? We do not believe so, because Canadians have already paid for airports with their taxes. By increasing fees and charges, this government will make Canadians pay twice for something they have already paid for. This is not the right thing to do.

We are not talking about jet-setters here. We are talking about average Canadians who go on pleasure trips with their families to see friends across Canada or abroad. Gone are the days when only the proverbial 1% travelled by air. Today all Canadians regularly travel by airplane. These are the people who will end up paying if the government unfortunately goes ahead with this initiative. Why are they doing this? It seems that this would be to finance the infrastructure bank. Why does the government want to establish an infrastructure bank given that a private infrastructure investment tool already exists? It is called PPP Canada. Yes, it was created by the Conservatives. Is it because it is a Conservative creation that the Liberals are unable to use it? It is not some venereal disease!

We are asking the government what its motive is to create this initiative from scratch. Why do we need something else when the tool already exists? Even worse, creating a bank takes a fund. What will they do with the $15 billion they are going to put in the fund? Will they freeze it just like that? The government is going to freeze billions of dollars at a time when the Canadian economy needs them today.

Do not get me wrong, Mr. Speaker. We do not disagree with the investment for infrastructure. When we were in office, the hon. member for Roberval was the head of the ministry that had tabled an $80 billion budget for infrastructure for the next 10 years. It was a most ambitious program at that time, and we are proud of that. The main difference is that we would have done it with a zero deficit budget, compared to the current government, which spent without any control.

Today we are debating the sound management of public funds. This government has proven without a shadow of a doubt that it has no control over public finances, threatening to put Canada in a downward spiral without a return to a balanced budget until 2055. This is completely unacceptable. I call on all parliamentarians to vote in favour of this motion, which takes the government to task and takes to heart the interests of our entrepreneurs and, first and foremost, the interests of all hard-working Canadians.

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:50 a.m.

Gatineau Québec

Liberal

Steven MacKinnon LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Services and Procurement

Mr. Speaker, the member is suggesting that we are a bit full of ourselves. The fact is that after 10 years of Conservative reign during which we observed the decline of the middle class, after nine deficit years in a row, after disasters like the Phoenix fiasco, and after years and years with no major military acquisitions, Canadians needed real change, and that is precisely what we are delivering.

The party across the way is once again attempting to write Canada's economic and fiscal policy from the opposition benches. The member is his party's finance critic, which is to his great credit, but there are 14 other people travelling across Canada promoting their visions and their versions of Canada's economic and fiscal policy.

Can my hon. friend assure us that, no matter the outcome of the interminable Conservative leadership race, the economic vision he is presenting today is the one that the future Conservative Party leader will espouse?

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

Gérard Deltell Conservative Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for drawing Canadians' attention to our leadership race.

In a leadership race, each person expresses their ideas and we debate them. If everyone sang the same song with the same instrument, the same song sheet and the same tone, it would not be a leadership race. It is a debate of ideas.

My colleague thought it was appalling that we were in a deficit for nine consecutive years, but I urge him to be careful, because it was not quite nine years. I am not sure where my colleague was at the time, but we were all on planet Earth, and the whole world was facing the worst economic crisis in history since 1929. That is why we ran such deficits.

However, thanks to the rigorous management of Mr. Harper and the late Mr. Flaherty, Canada was the first G7 country to emerge from the crisis. It had the best debt-to-GDP ratio and Canadians had more money in their pockets in over 50 years—so yes, we are proud of that record.

At the same time, it must be embarrassing for the government to talk about the Phoenix pay system. Must I remind the parliamentary secretary that, about a year and a month ago, when the Liberals were in power, they were the ones who authorized the implementation of the Phoenix pay system, although our ministers had warned the government about the associated risks? If the government wants to politicize the issue, I would say welcome to the big leagues, because this government is the one that pushed the green button at the wrong time.

Now the Liberals have the gall to talk about military procurement when they are the ones who just signed a $5-billion cheque to buy the Super Hornet jets that no one wants and that serve no purpose. They have some nerve to raise that issue. I am very proud of the Conservative administration when I see the billions of dollars the government is shamelessly spending.

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:50 a.m.

NDP

Pierre Nantel NDP Longueuil—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate my colleague for his very lively speech. However, I would urge my colleague from Louis-Saint-Laurent, in the Quebec City region, to be cautious when he talks about Beau Dommage, which is very much a Montreal group. The words of the song 23 décembre definitely talk about Mr. Côté, not Mr. Tanguay.

That said, my colleague also talked about Robin Hood and Liberal mismanagement. During the election campaign, the Liberal Party promised the moon and a small deficit. The campaign was led by people who did not think they would one day form the government. They wondered what they could do to stand out and they would say anything. Now, Canadians are left with nothing much.

Indeed, many Canadians travel, but I would not go so far as to say, as my colleague did, that all Canadians travel by air, because many of them are not well-off, and I see that in my riding. However, what is true is that Canadians are still the ones who will pay for the lies the Liberal government told during the election campaign.

I would like to hear what my colleague thinks about that.

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Gérard Deltell Conservative Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for adding to my musical culture, which clearly was lacking. I should have written down the lyrics, but the song 23 décembre only came to mind this morning as I arrived in the House.

The member is quite right that not all Canadians travel. Let us agree, however, that air transportation is much more democratic today than it used to be. We totally agree on that.

I want to point out the guts and the sense of responsibility the NDP displayed during the last election campaign. That party had the courage to come clean with Canadians and tell them that it would not promise a deficit, because deficits are bad. That took a lot of guts and a huge sense of responsibility, so I commend the New Democrats.

Canadians are now realizing that the deficit has risen to $30 billion despite the government's promise of a small $10-billion deficit. Plus, the government was supposed to balance the budget by 2019, but now that will not happen until 2055. This government was elected on a promise that it would strike a balance and help business owners, but now it is doing exactly the opposite by creating new taxes and new fees.

As my NDP colleague put it so well, those people were elected by promising the moon to Canadians. It may be party time now, but our children and grandchildren will be left to pay for this Liberal government's gross mismanagement.

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

Mr. Speaker, I would like to reassure people in the House that my jurisdiction in Saskatchewan is the only jurisdiction in this country that does not support the carbon tax.

We know it is not revenue neutral. We know that. In fact, the agriculture minister paid a visit to my city of Saskatoon last week. He was welcomed with open arms by the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities. It had its annual meeting. The minister got an earful.

We know that south of the border they are cutting taxes. We compete with the United States. Here, there will be increased costs. Farmers and food producers are not happy. They are waiting for tomorrow in anticipation of the budget. They gave the agriculture minister an earful last week in Saskatoon.

Does the hon. member for Louis-Saint-Laurent think farmers should wait, holding their breath, for the Liberal regime to finally recognize agriculture in the budget, not like last year when it was never mentioned once?

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Gérard Deltell Conservative Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to pay respect to my hon. colleague from Saskatoon—Grasswood who is representing his constituency with greatness and honour.

Yes, this was totally unacceptable. I think it was maybe the first time in Canadian history that a budget did not talk about agriculture. Worse than that, the throne speech made by the Governor General had no mention of it. This is totally unacceptable.

We shall respect our agriculture and the people who work in farming. The farmers of Canada are part of the backbone of the Canadian economy. I am very proud to say that my family is involved in agriculture. My daughter is involved in the farm business, because my son-in-law is involved in a dairy farm. I am very proud of all the farmers in Quebec and all the farmers in Canada.

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:55 a.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I am always intrigued by the member opposite when he articulates his position.

It is interesting that the opposition made this particular motion. It is a reflection on budgets, obviously. I was surprised by the Conservative Party at the last budget, because what we saw was a substantial tax break for Canada's middle class. It was a tax break. The Conservative Party went out of its way to make it clear that it was voting against a tax break to Canada's middle class and those aspiring to join it.

Could the member explain to the House why the Conservatives voted against a tax decrease?

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

Noon

Conservative

Gérard Deltell Conservative Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have a lot of respect for my hon. colleague. I appreciate it every time he rises in the House, and it happens quite a few times every day. I appreciate his style.

In answer to his question, it is because the budget had a deficit and not a small deficit, as was promised during the campaign. It was a huge deficit, three times more than expected, three times more than what they had been elected for. Worse than that, there was no plan for a zero deficit.

What we are seeing, thanks to the civil servants in the Department of Finance, is that the government will get back to a zero deficit in 2055, missing its target by 36 years. That is why this was totally unacceptable.

More than that, the member is talking about a so-called tax break for the middle class, but may I remind him that the report made by the parliamentary budget office concluded that 65% of people will see no effect from the so-called tax break? The best winners were not exactly the middle class but those who earn between $145,000 and $200,000 a year, so we are not talking about the middle class. This is why we told the government that it was not the right way to get full control of the economy.

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

Noon

Liberal

Greg Fergus Liberal Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Vaughan—Woodbridge.

Last fall, the Minister of Transport presented his vision for the future of transportation in Canada, also referred to as Transportation 2030. This vision reflects his extensive engagement with Canadians, stakeholders, provinces and territories, academics, and indigenous groups, following the release of the Canada Transportation Act review final report in February 2016.

Transportation 2030 emphasizes five main themes: the traveller; strengthening transport safety; green and innovative transportation; waterways, coasts, and the north; and trade corridors to global markets. During the consultations conducted by the Minister of Transport and his superb parliamentary secretary, Canadians were very clear. They want lower-cost air travel and more opportunities for leisure and business travel. They seek more efficient processing at the border and airport screening with shorter wait times. They have asked for long-term, sustainable competition, which would allow the introduction of additional air services, improved air connectivity, and more choice. As competition increases and air carriers look for ways to reduce prices, Canadians also want a more consistent, transparent, and rigorous approach to passenger rights.

The Minister of Transport has listened, and is committing to achieving tangible improvements to the travel experience. He is taking action now.

The government believes that the rights of Canadian air travellers need to be made clearer and fairer for passengers and airlines. That is why the Minister of Transport is establishing more predictable and reasonable air passenger rights. To that end he will introduce a bill mandating the Canadian Transportation Agency to develop regulations that would create a new air passenger bill of rights.

Although the exact details are established by the Agency's regulatory process, the new bill of rights will establish clear standards for treating people travelling with children and travellers who end up in trying situations, such as flight delays or cancellations, which will also include compensation in some cases.

The bill of rights will also ensure that passengers are clearly informed of their rights and will allow Transport Canada to gather more data on airline performance. The government intends to take a balanced approach in this file by assuring the airlines that their ability to compete will not be compromised and that they will not be made to bear an excessive burden that could potentially affect the cost of air travel.

The transport minister will pursue legislative changes to allow international investors to own up to 49% of the voting shares of Canadian air carriers, which is up from the current 25%.

As some members may know, other countries have different approaches to international ownership of air carriers. It is important to ensure that Canadian carriers compete on a level playing field. To protect the competitiveness of our air sector and support connectivity, no single international investor or any combination of international air carriers will be allowed to own more than 25%.

Liberalizing international ownership restrictions means that Canadian air carriers will have access to more investment capital, allowing them the opportunity to be better funded. This new measure is expected to facilitate more competition in the Canadian air sector, and lead to more choice and lower prices for Canadians, as well as benefits for airports and suppliers, including new employment opportunities.

In the interim, in December of last year, the minister granted exemptions to the current international ownership restrictions to two companies that are looking to establish new ultra-low-cost carriers: Canada Jetlines in Vancouver and Calgary's Enerjet. This action is intended to allow these companies to go ahead with their financing efforts while the new legislation is being developed.

Furthermore, as he announced in November 2016, the Minister of Transport remains determined to establish world-class service standards for aviation screening in Canadian airports.

Also, the government continues to improve the experience of air passengers by negotiating new and expanded air transport agreements with international partners, which will enable airlines to expand Canada's links to the rest of the world.

Air transport agreements provide Canadian passengers with access to more airlines, destinations, and flights.

Canada has signed air transport agreements with 120 bilateral partners. In recent months we have expanded our air transport agreements with key aviation partners such as Mexico, China, and Australia. These expansion efforts made it possible for Air Canada to launch daily service between Vancouver and Brisbane, Australia, in 2016.

In closing, I want to point out that the experience of Canadian air passengers is an important priority for the Government of Canada. The initiatives that I have just described contribute greatly to improving the experience of Canadian passengers. They will help lower prices, provide more choice, improve connectivity, and clarify the rights of air passengers while ensuring the viability and competitiveness of Canadian airlines.

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:05 p.m.

NDP

Richard Cannings NDP South Okanagan—West Kootenay, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to change the subject from air travel and go back to the budget and the huge deficits that Canadian taxpayers are facing over the next decade.

The Conservatives cut corporate income taxes by over one-third over a six-year period. The parliamentary budget officer found that these cuts were costing the Canadian taxpayer $12 billion a year. That is a lot of money and could go a long way to helping the government pay off its debts. What is more, there is no evidence at all that these cuts stimulated any industrial growth or jobs, and so they were a pure debt on society.

Right now, corporate income tax is well below that in the United States, our competitors. I am just wondering what the Liberal government is waiting for when it comes to making big corporations pay their fair share of taxes.

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Greg Fergus Liberal Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member and I were elected at the same time and we have equal experience in this House.

One thing which I certainly know would be very important for us to do, and it is a message that all Canadians would like to hear, is that we would want to make sure we do not raise the tax burden on Canadians. They are struggling enough as it is. We have seen the middle class having enough difficulties making it work.

I agree that the actions of the previous government did not lead to the desired economic growth. This is why we took the position we did when we were campaigning and why we have done what we have pretty much every day since we were elected in terms of the policies that we have pursued. We are making the necessary investments in infrastructure and providing relief for middle-class Canadians so they can feel the pressure is off of their shoulders for a little bit. Not only that, we are making the right kinds of investments which will spark and stimulate economic growth and leave behind the quality infrastructure that we need.

This is a very important approach to take. It is a balanced approach, and one that I am very proud to support as a member of the governing party. I know that many members on all sides of the House want to see the Canadian economy gather further steam, and it is the actions we are taking that will lead to that.

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:10 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, my question is related to some of the initiatives. The member made reference to the infrastructure program, the historic levels of infrastructure spending by this government.

I also want to pick up on two very important social points that were in the last budget which I would like to hear further comment on from the member. One of them is in regard to the guaranteed income supplement, a program which literally lifted thousands of seniors out of a poverty situation. We also had the increase in the Canada child benefit program, which lifted thousands of children out of a poverty situation.

I wonder if the member could provide some of his thoughts on the social impact of the previous budget and how we can anticipate that we will continue to see a good direction for Canada's middle class and those aspiring to be a part of it in the budget tomorrow.

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Greg Fergus Liberal Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am really glad that my colleague was able to ask me that question. Taking off our partisan hats, these initiatives that he mentioned, such as the increase in the guaranteed income supplement and the creation of the Canada child tax benefit are important initiatives that really help out Canadians.

When I go door knocking in my riding, I see people who are struggling, who are just having a hard time making it. They are doing all the right things. They are working. They have kids. They are trying to contribute to their society, but the fact is it is hard to make ends meet. Housing is extremely expensive nowadays. Things are not getting cheaper. It is hard for people to get out from under that. Now with the Canada child benefit in particular, which helps out more than 12,000 families in my riding, this is a huge initiative that allows people to take advantage of these tax-free benefits and, if nothing else, to do no more harm. At its best, I think it helps them find some financial freedom so they can do the things they need to do to raise their families properly and give their kids great opportunities to play around, to take part in school activities and, as a result, to become better citizens. This is great and I am very proud to be part of a government that would bring forward this type of new social policy.

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

Francesco Sorbara Liberal Vaughan—Woodbridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to say how pleased I am to speak in the House today on what our government has done and is planning to do for infrastructure in this country.

The Government of Canada knows that infrastructure provides Canadians with opportunities to get an education, to volunteer, to grow a business, to raise a family in a safe community. Infrastructure is the foundation of better communities. It strengthens our economy, and a strong economy starts with a strong middle class.

Investing in infrastructure creates good, well-paying jobs that help the middle class grow and prosper. By making it easier to move people and products, well-planned infrastructure can deliver sustained economic growth for years to come.

The Government of Canada is more than doubling infrastructure spending. We are investing more than $180 billion over 12 years to support public transit, green and social infrastructure, and trade and transportation in rural and northern communities. We have already started by addressing our most pressing infrastructure deficits, making repairs to our aging pipes and roads, building and refurbishing affordable housing, and adapting buses to ensure seniors and individuals with disabilities have access to safe and reliable transportation.

Our plan is well under way in two key programs that I am proud of: the clean water and waste water fund and the public transit infrastructure fund. They are already making a difference in Canada and Canadian lives. More importantly, more than1,100 projects have already been approved under these programs, and more than half of those projects are already under way. It is because of this progress that residents in many communities in Newfoundland and Labrador will experience fewer water shut-off requests and school closures caused by deteriorated service lines.

Commuters in Surrey, B.C., will get to spend more time with their families and enjoy a cleaner environment as a result of the expansion of key transit lines. These expansions will reduce travel times and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, something we all must applaud. In the north, residents of Iqaluit will benefit from a new secondary waste water treatment plant that will ensure cleaner water flows back into the environment.

Those are just a few examples of the outcomes we will see across the country.

With more than $10 billion announced in budget 2016, infrastructure projects across the country are already making a huge difference in communities. These projects include nearly 550 public transit projects, including the expansion of more than 80 transit systems that will make it easier to get to work on time, reduce pollution, and ensure that public transportation is there when Canadians need it; more than 700 projects under the clean water and waste water fund that will improve access to clean drinking water and reduce pollution in our lakes and rivers; more than 1,000 projects to retrofit or renovate social housing to repair more than 48,000 social housing units, which will make housing more affordable for families and more energy efficient to live in; and more than 950 housing projects in indigenous communities, including 125 projects aimed at building and improving schools and 200 water and waste water projects.

We have also worked closely with partners to expand eligibility requirements and accelerate the funding being delivered under such legacy programs as the new Building Canada fund and to quickly move forward with new programs to support projects across the country from coast to coast to coast. These improvements respond to the feedback we have received from communities and stakeholders across the country. Broadly, these changes created greater flexibility for highway and road projects across Canada and expanded funding categories to include culture, recreation, tourism, civic assets, and passenger ferries. We are listening to stakeholders and responding.

Of these legacy programs, $800 million was committed in the last year to new projects that are moving forward. The remaining $30 million is being transferred directly into the federal gas tax fund so that Canadian communities can have immediate access to those funds.

This approach is generating results. For example, in Newfoundland and Labrador 20 projects were approved in the last year, whereas no projects had been approved in the previous three years under these legacy programs. As well, just last week three municipalities in Quebec received more than $18.3 million in federal funding for much-needed recreational facilities that will greatly enhance the quality of life for residents. Without expanded program parameters, these important projects would not have been funded.

We are also following through on our commitment to find innovative ways to fund infrastructure in Canada by announcing the creation of the Canada infrastructure bank. The bank will allow the federal government to “crowd in” private sector investment in infrastructure through loans, loan guarantees, and equity participation. It will create more options and opportunities for provinces, territories, and municipalities across the country to undertake transformative infrastructure projects, such as major public transit in our largest cities, energy transmission corridors, major corridor projects, and much more.

The bank's funds are over and above the commitment we made to double infrastructure funding to approximately $180 billion over 12 years. By using private capital to build those new projects, public money is freed up to build more public infrastructure. Most importantly, it offers our funding partners a new tool to help meet their pressing infrastructure needs.

The Government of Canada recognizes that in order to compete globally, our communities need to be at their absolute best. That is why we are moving forward on the Smart Cities Challenge, which will challenge communities across Canada to develop integrated, innovative, evidence-based solutions to improve quality of life for their residents.

The challenge draws from similar competitions around the world and aims to accelerate the planning and adoption of innovative urban infrastructure. It will be an opportunity for communities to innovate, take risks, and think outside the box. Ultimately, the challenge is another tool that will help support long-term transformative changes across Canada.

In conclusion, the Government of Canada remains committed to building a fairer, more inclusive country that reflects the priorities of Canadians and reflects the priorities of the residents of my riding of Vaughan—Woodbridge. The government understands that change must result in the kind of growth that benefits all Canadians at every stage of their lives—young Canadians, newcomers to Canada, working Canadians, seniors, veterans, and indigenous peoples.

We have made significant progress over the last year investing in projects that build healthier, more liveable communities, with cleaner air and water, and better care for our kids and grandkids. Budget 2017 is the next step in the Government of Canada's ambitious plan to invest in Canada's future, putting Canada's talented, skilled, and creative people at the heart of a more innovative future economy.

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:20 p.m.

Conservative

Dianne Lynn Watts Conservative South Surrey—White Rock, BC

Mr. Speaker, my colleague's speech was interesting because some of the information that he relayed in his speech is not quite accurate. I just wanted to make note of that and then ask a question.

He is saying that infrastructure projects are already making a huge difference in communities. I want to bring to his attention that as of today, 1,432 infrastructure projects have been announced and reannounced, and 1,344 of these projects have not been under construction.

My question is this. He referred to the infrastructure bank as a new tool to leverage private sector dollars. I am wondering if the member realizes that PPP Canada is already set up, is in place to leverage private sector dollars, and has already generated billions in infrastructure projects across this country.

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

Francesco Sorbara Liberal Vaughan—Woodbridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, our infrastructure program that we are ramping up and announcing projects for with the $180 billion over 12 years includes the York-Spadina subway extension in the City of Vaughan, for which I had the pleasure of announcing a $30-million inter-regional bus terminal. It is under construction, with shovels in the ground. I am proud to say that.

I will say this on the infrastructure bank. If we look around the world, we see the liquidity that is available from private investors to invest in a country like Canada. It is an opportunity for us to leverage those private capital dollars that are available to accelerate infrastructure and to build Canada. We have an infrastructure gap and we are addressing it.

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:20 p.m.

NDP

Tracey Ramsey NDP Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, as we are approaching budget 2017, it is clear that the Liberals are looking for a way to create some type of revenue. The NDP has provided them with a wonderful way to create some revenue in our country, which is to close the tax loopholes and eliminate the tax havens. That would bring money back into Canada that could support the system.

The Liberals have some out-of-control spending for which they will need to be accountable to Canadians and to people in their ridings. I am deeply concerned that what we will see is a privatization of our airports and ports. This will end up costing all Canadians more money when they travel and could cause potentially dangerous health and safety issues as well as issues at the airport.

Privatizing our public services is not the way to go. Our public airports currently send $1 billion back to Ottawa every year. We cannot recoup that cost if we sell them off. In Ontario we have a prime example of the mistakes that the Liberals have made around privatization. We just have to look at what is happening to the cost of hydro here in Ontario.

Can the member speak to the mandate that he feels that he and the Liberals have from Canadians to privatize public services in Canada?

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.

Liberal

Francesco Sorbara Liberal Vaughan—Woodbridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, our mandate is to invest in Canadians. Whether it is through the Canada child benefit, whether it is through the increased guaranteed income supplement, whether it is through middle-class tax cuts, whether it is through asking the 1% to pay for a bit more, our mandate is to help hard-working middle-class Canadians and Canadians who want to join the middle class.

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for Vaughan—Woodbridge for his speech and in particular for his focus on infrastructure.

Dduring my time in municipal politics, it was extremely frustrating over the last 10 years when municipalities would go to the federal government to look for infrastructure funding. It was a game of going to different conferences, sitting in front of ministers, and basically begging for money

The system is quite different now. The government has a new direction, one that is focused on providing predictable, sustainable funding for municipalities so that they can plan their infrastructure needs for the future.

I wonder if my colleague would comment on how that will impact his community.

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.

Liberal

Francesco Sorbara Liberal Vaughan—Woodbridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, our government is a government that consults and our government is a government that listens. That is exactly what we have done with municipalities. We have sat down with them and we have listened to them. They know best what their needs are. That is what is our government is doing: listening to them and responding, and ensuring that they have the resources available to continue to build up their cities so their citizens can get home earlier at night. They can take their kids to soccer and they can get to work faster.

That is what we will continue to do. We will continue to partner with all levels of government, whether it is provincial, municipal, and, in some areas, regional.

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

Karen Vecchio Conservative Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Mr. Speaker, today I will be sharing my time with the member for South Surrey—White Rock.

I am honoured to rise to speak to the opposition motion presented by the leader of the official opposition.

Tomorrow we will hear from the Minister of Finance the government's plan on the future of Canada's economy and for all Canadians. Our ask of the government is simple: no further tax hikes; measures to address youth unemployment; a plan to see the budget balance by 2019; no plan to sell Canadian airports that involve revenues to finance the Canada Infrastructure Bank; selling to investors influenced by foreign governments; and no hikes to user fees for our taxpayers and travellers.

In budget 2016, we heard a great deal from the government about how it was planning to grow the middle class and help families. However, what did we actually see and what were the end-user effects?

As I have said often in the House, I am the mother of five children. Issues such as the cost of post-secondary education, employment opportunities, affordable housing and taxes are commonly discussed. I want to know that my children have a chance at a good future and a chance to have the same opportunities that I have had.

In a report circulated by the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, we have seen statistics comparing 2012 and 2016 data. In 2012, 48% of respondents stated that they felt the next generation's standard of living would be lower. We have actually seen an increase in this number in 2016, and over 58% of Canadians now indicate that they feel the next generation's standard of living will be lower. That is a huge increase, especially when we see these elements that the government is pushing. This same document stated similar findings when asked, “Canadians are increasingly feeling left out of the middle class”.

In 2009, 63.3% felt they were part of the middle class, with 28.9% indicating they were in the working class or poorer. In 2016, just three months following the federal budget and changes to the Canada child benefit and to the tax rate, only 48% felt they were part of the middle class, and a hike to 44.3% felt they were part of the working class or poorer. To me, these are not good results. This document indicates that job insecurity is increasing, saving for retirement is harder, and the growth has not been inclusive.

I would like to focus on the future and on the future of our country. Tomorrow we will potentially hear about a plan focused on the national child program and social housing. We will hear from the Liberal government plans to create new jobs through innovation investments. We may hear how the Liberals are planning on selling capital assets to finance an infrastructure bank. And we will hear that Canadians will be burdened with more taxes, whether it is today or in the future.

The 2016 budget introduced the Canada child benefit, while eliminating the universal child care benefit and the Canada child tax benefit. We saw the cancellation of important tax credits to families, including the child fitness tax credit and arts credit. We saw income splitting eliminated for families. While some families may be receiving more money through tax benefits, is the government making a plan to help families in the long-term?

I am also proud to be from a riding with many smaller municipalities that rely on volunteers, volunteers who include firefighters. In this budget, I fear that important tax credits, including the tax credit for volunteer firefighters and search and rescue workers, will be eliminated. We have to think this. Without these credits, what will be the impact to municipalities like Central Elgin and the municipality of Bayham in my riding that have volunteer firefighters, who not only help with fires but as well the search and rescue missions on the shores of Lake Erie? What will these effects be?

There are also murmurs of the elimination on public transit tax credits, and extremely important in my community, the trades person tool deduction. At the end of the day, people will be paying more taxes.

Through the HUMA committee, we studied a poverty reduction strategy, and the committee is finalizing a report on the findings. Some witnesses clearly indicated that important factors such as skills development, high taxes and unreliable income were issues that were not being dealt with. When looking at some of the strategies that members of the government have spoken of in the past year, we see band-aid solutions. This will is not lead the country to growth and prosperity. We need solid plans, not just more spending.

The government promised to remove the cap on post-secondary education for indigenous people. We know that education will provide important skills development and knowledge that will help those living on a reserve. However, we have not seen or heard anything about about this important issued in the past 18 months. When reviewing the "Pre-budget tour: The State of the Middle Class", PowerPoint presentation put out by the minister, it notes that certain groups remain particularly vulnerable to poverty, specifically indigenous peoples on-reserve. Therefore, will the government do the right thing and remove this cap?

Youth employment is also a huge concern. In the 2015 election, the Liberal Party focused on youth employment, while scolding the Conservative government for its initiatives and belittling the efforts of the Canada summer jobs programs. Trust me, it happened in my own debates. However, in reality, increases to temporary work for summer students is all we have seen from the government. We need to ensure that we are looking at the labour force and matching it to the skills development. Has the government taken any of these steps to fill the gap in the labour force by ensuring we are graduating students from programs where employment opportunities exist?

I currently have two children in post-secondary education. I know the expenses that are incurred for each year of education, especially since we assist with some of those costs. Those costs include housing, tuition and food. My son pays $950 a month in rent in the city of Toronto so he can go to George Brown College. Each year, costs for each of my children are approximately $17,000. What are we doing to ensure that students have employment to assist not only in their current education, but down the road when they try to pay off these loans? Are we going to ensure that when our children graduate, there is actually going to be employment so they can get on their own two feet?

We know the best way out of poverty is a sustainable, reliable, and decent income. The most reliable method of gaining this income is through a job. We support job creation through tax breaks to small businesses, and avoiding needless government debt.

What is the government going to do to assist Canadians to get ahead? If we are looking at the government's record, we see the following: a decrease to disposable income through the Canada pension plan tax hikes; the cancellation of the small business tax rate; potential taxes on health and dental benefits; and potential user fees. The first three of the four points hurt employers. These employers are the people who employ Canadians in the private sector. It is the private sector that keeps our economy healthy.

According to a study published by the Fraser Institute, Canada has put itself at a disadvantage to attract and retain skilled labour, investment, and entrepreneurs, due to personal income tax rates that in response, truly failed to meet the expected increase in revenues to the government. Therefore, what we have seen is less revenue and more spending.

We have heard for months from the new administration in the United States that it will be focusing on lowering taxes and right now, we do not have a plan to compete with this new reality.

I live in a community with U.S. borders, both to the east and west of my riding, and along the 401 corridor. Over 500,000 vehicles per day travel this highway, with billions of dollars of goods transported through this corridor. My area is filled with agricultural producers and manufacturing facilities that rely on trade and export to the United States. If Canada cannot remain competitive, what will happen to these jobs and to the goods that cost more to produce in Canada?

We need to have a plan to be competitive, and I do not see the Liberal government creating a solid plan that can be implemented immediately. The government must come forward with a low tax plan to remain competitive that in turn will create high-paying jobs.

Just yesterday, I read a quote in the National Post. It said:

Middle-income Canadians may take comfort in the Liberal message, but this messaging hasn’t yet resulted in policies to increase median incomes. At some point, middle-class Canadians may start to wonder when the Liberal message will finally be backed up with cash.

To me, this means income and employment opportunities. I am concerned that the government's plan does not consider any of these factors and we are jeopardizing the future of young Canadians, families, and indigenous people. We need to ensure there is job security, the ability for businesses to invest and grow, and for us to be competitive.

Will the budget do what is necessary for Canadians as a whole? I guess we will find out tomorrow what the government is planning for its future and the future of Canada. I am hoping it does not come with a $30 billion price tag for the next generation.

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:35 p.m.

Gatineau Québec

Liberal

Steven MacKinnon LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Services and Procurement

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative Party is putting forward a document today that would have us essentially rewrite the fiscal and economic framework of the government. We know that elections have consequences. What the Liberal Party proposed to Canadians was relief for the middle class, looking after our most vulnerable in the form of the guaranteed income supplement, and looking after our manufacturing and innovative sectors with job training and an ability to grow our businesses in Canada. There is a renewed focus on families, with nine out of 10 families better off with the Canada child benefit, which they can now choose to spend as they wish. One would argue sometimes that this is a Conservative ideal, but I guess it is not something they can support because they voted against it.

My colleague is from southwestern Ontario. We have put all these measures in place that will help families in her very riding. Would the member not agree that these Liberal policies have been good for southwestern Ontario and for Canada generally?

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:35 p.m.

Conservative

Karen Vecchio Conservative Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Mr. Speaker, let me go back to the statistics I just read from the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development. We have seen a 10% increase in the number of families that feel they are no longer a part of the middle class. If this program is working, then people would not feel they were doing worse. These are documents from the member's own minister. We have to be aware of these things.

With respect to the child benefit, our party did not necessarily vote against the child benefit. We voted against a $30 billion deficit. It is great for those members to sit over there and tweak out what they think we are pulling apart. The government talks about lowering taxes on the middle class, but it forgets that it has a $30 billion price tag attached to this. It is going to be my five children and the children of all members and all Canadians who will be paying for this outrageous spending.

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:35 p.m.

Conservative

Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

Mr. Speaker, the member is a mother of five children, with two in post-secondary education. Our Conservative government did more for post-secondary students in the history of our country. We believed in our kids. We gave kids a chance to get that first job through post-secondary education. The Liberal government has done the exact opposite. We have seen the numbers in the last year. They show that youth in our country have no hope at all.

My colleague comes from an agriculture area. Let us remember that a year ago the Liberals never mentioned agriculture once in their budget. Will the Liberals mention tomorrow that our food producers are important to our country? Does my colleague from Elgin—Middlesex—London think the word “agriculture” will be mentioned tomorrow?

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:40 p.m.

Conservative

Karen Vecchio Conservative Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have personally held five different agricultural round tables in my community. The agricultural sector currently employs about 20% of the people who live in my riding. Out of 111,000 people, 20% are employers or employees in the agriculture sector.

We have to be aware of the need to harmonize things. We need to recognize there are some important things we need to address, especially since many of our products, especially those in southwestern Ontario, are exported to the United States. If we cannot have trade and if we cannot be competitive, then those exports will not exist. If the cost of labour and the cost of everything that we do is higher in Canada, then we will not be competitive.

I recognize there are some great programs available for agricultural producers and we need to continue to support them. I have put forward a paper to the Minister of Agriculture. I want to ensure he hears the voices of the people from southwestern Ontario, especially those in my riding of Elgin--Middlesex--London, for all sectors, including supply management, our feathers and everything of that sort.

I am not scared by any of the woes and things over there. It is fine. I support the agricultural industry and I always will. I sure hope the government will be on side.

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:40 p.m.

Conservative

Dianne Lynn Watts Conservative South Surrey—White Rock, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and speak today to the Conservative opposition day motion that states:

That, given the failure of the government to achieve the economic and employment objectives presented in Budget 2016, and given the growing protectionist and competitive threat from the United States, the House call on the government to ensure that Budget 2017 includes: (a) no further tax hikes on Canadian families, businesses, seniors or students; (b) immediate measures to encourage companies to hire young Canadians and address the youth unemployment crisis; (c) a credible plan to return to a balanced budget by 2019 as promised to Canadians; and (d) no plan to sell Canadian airports that involves (i) using the revenues to finance the Canada Infrastructure Bank, (ii) selling them to investors or enterprises that are under the political influence of foreign governments, (iii) higher user fees for Canadian taxpayers and travellers.

I felt that it is important that we all know what the motion clearly states and what we are talking about here today. As we know, tomorrow the Liberal government will table its second budget, a budget that is expected to include tax hikes for Canadians, a budget that is expected to sell Canadian airports to foreign investors in order to raise funds to finance the Liberals' infrastructure bank even though we have P3 Canada, which was specifically set up to leverage private sector dollars for infrastructure projects. In fact, P3 Canada has leveraged $6.6 billion for infrastructure, which would not require the government to sell off our ports or airports.

As the official opposition critic for infrastructure, communities, and urban affairs, I have been following the Liberals' infrastructure plan very closely, and I use that term very loosely. I have several concerns around the continued announcements on infrastructure spending and the number of projects that are actually under construction.

Despite numerous announcements and re-announcements of infrastructure projects, the Liberals have actually failed to begin construction, create jobs, and grow the economy as promised to Canadians during the election. The only thing that is growing is the deficit. The Liberals are burdening Canadians in debt with no possibility of a balanced budget until 2055. As of today, there have been 1,432 infrastructure projects announced and re-announced by the Liberal government. Of these projects, 1,344 have not—I repeat, have not—started construction. That is 94% of the infrastructure projects. There are more than 1,300 projects not under construction, not creating jobs, and not stimulating the economy.

The Liberals like to claim that they are investing more money in infrastructure than ever before, simply because they like announcements and of course we know they love photo ops. Yet, they have announced more projects in their first year in office than any government previously, not built, not constructed, not growing, just announced. The difference here is this. The Conservative government actually managed to build infrastructure, not just announce it. In fact, under the Conservative government, we did announce 7,802 projects and we constructed more than 7,300 of those projects. Some 94% are complete, and that means jobs. In fact, that means 1.1 million jobs were created. We completed 94% of our infrastructure projects before we left office, while the Liberal government has not been able to start 94% of its infrastructure projects.

When the Conservatives came into power, the federal government had been spending approximately $500 million a year on infrastructure. By the time we left office, we were investing over $5 billion per year in infrastructure. We still managed to balance the budget and leave a surplus. I have provided these details today because infrastructure is directly related to today's opposition motion. Canadians need to understand exactly where their money has gone and how much is being spent to create a $30 billion deficit.

During the election, the Liberals promised Canadians that their small $10 billion a year deficit would pay for unprecedented levels of infrastructure spending in their communities, would stimulate the economy, and would create thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of jobs. All of this would be over the first three years in office, and in the fourth year they would balance the budget. Instead, Canadians got a $30 billion deficit in the first year and admittedly an unprecedented level of infrastructure announcements and no balanced budget. We heard from the Prime Minister numerous times that budgets balance themselves, but as every Canadian knows, budgets do not balance themselves. The Liberals failed to get infrastructure funding to communities in 2016, and in fact they have frozen nearly $1 billion that, according to budget 2016, should have gone to communities last year. Instead, they have allowed it to lapse, one thing they said they would never do. In fact there are many things they said they would never do, but this is one. Instead of sending the money to communities through the gas tax fund, as they promised during the election and which is written in their platform, the Liberals decided to roll it over into next year's budget.

In receiving and reviewing the 2017 main estimates, the parliamentary budget officer stated in that report that $2.5 billion worth of infrastructure projects cannot be located. This is money that according to budget 2016 should have gone to communities next year. Another parliamentary budget officer's report states that the Liberals' infrastructure plan has no way to measure performance, has virtually no transparency on how the money is being spent, has shortchanged communities billions of dollars for local infrastructure, and has failed to stimulate the Canadian economy. That is all from the PBO. There have been four independent reports citing the same concerns, including the latest Senate report.

We hear over and over again the Liberals' talking points of how they have cut taxes for the middle class, but they also ignore the fact that they have introduced numerous new taxes on the very same Canadians, like the new national carbon tax, new taxes on savings accounts, new taxes on children's arts programs, taxes on tuition and textbooks, taxes on children's fitness and sports programs, higher CPP taxes, higher EI premiums, higher small-business tax rates, higher taxes on campgrounds. Also, coming soon, capital gains taxes are on the table, airports and ports are up for sale, and we do not know yet about the health and dental benefits. The list goes on. This is what Canadians need to know when the Liberal government tells them it is growing the middle class and helping those who want to join it.

We need a plan that cuts taxes for Canadians. We need a plan that gets Canada's spending back under control and brings in a balanced budget. We need a plan that will support small businesses and encourage companies to hire and create jobs, especially for young Canadians. We need a plan that does not include selling off some of Canada's most valuable assets. Unfortunately, a solid, transparent, and accountable plan for Canadians' future is not what we can expect from the Liberals' 2017 budget tomorrow. Therefore, I urge my Liberal colleagues across the way to work with all parties in this House and come up with a real plan, a plan that puts Canadians first.

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, the member across the way says she wants to see a plan. There is Bill C-2, a tax cut for Canada's middle class. How did the Conservative Party vote on that plan? The Conservatives voted against that plan.

Then we have Conservatives across the way talking about how they want to give advice to the government on balanced budgets. That has to be one of the weirdest things, because the Harper government never got it right. It had deficit after deficit, and it even created the deficit prior to the last recession coming into place. This government does not need to take any advice from the Conservative Party with respect to balanced budgets.

Why did the member vote against Bill C-2, which is a great tax decrease plan?

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

Dianne Lynn Watts Conservative South Surrey—White Rock, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am always entertained by my colleague's questions.

We voted against a $30 billion deficit. We voted against all of what I just spoke about, all of the tax hikes and the removal of tax credits. I will further explain to my colleague across the way that Conservatives talk about a plan that is needed for infrastructure and to help the Liberals get their spending under control, and so do the reports from the parliamentary budget officer, the Senate committee, the C.D. Howe report, and the Fraser Institute report. It is not just us. There are many people wanting the government to have a plan in place.

As far as the budget goes, our House was in order and we handed over a balanced budget. In fact, we handed over a surplus of $2 billion. The member really needs to get caught up on what the actual facts are.

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

NDP

Karine Trudel NDP Jonquière, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened attentively to my colleague’s speech, whom I thank.

I wanted to talk about my community and Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, or more specifically the riding of Jonquière, which I am very proud to represent. The Conservative motion mentions unemployment and students, and earlier I heard my colleague refer to post-secondary education in his speech. If I am not mistaken, the topic was student debt. Full employment is a very important concern. We are seeing young people leaving. Every day, some of our young people leave because there is no full employment. We have nothing for them. We do not exactly have concrete plans. We just talked about plans, but initiatives and ways to keep our young people in the region are major concerns.

As was already mentioned, during the election campaign, the Liberals raised the stakes to invest in our infrastructure. Now, we do not even have anything concrete. We have not seen one red cent. We are not seeing any results.

I would like to hear what my colleague has to say about full employment and youth unemployment.

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.

Conservative

Dianne Lynn Watts Conservative South Surrey—White Rock, BC

Mr. Speaker, one of the things we take and hold so dear concerns creating the environment for job creation.

That means there are low taxes, access to post-secondary education, and access to training for students and for the younger population. It is absolutely key to create that environment. The more the job creators are taxed, the more Canadian families are taxed, the more people will leave. They will leave to find better opportunities. That is what the Liberal government just does not get.

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.

Conservative

Kevin Sorenson Conservative Battle River—Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, I want to commend my colleague for a great speech. When she mentioned in the lobby earlier that she was going to speak on infrastructure, I thought that would be a great opportunity for us to learn about the failed infrastructure program of the Liberal government. That is what we have here.

We know that tomorrow we are going to hear a budget that will be written in red ink again. We will be neck-deep in deficit. It will be another spend, spend budget, and yet the delivery of a lot of infrastructure, as the member pointed out, will not happen.

In the previous government, we saw the largest infrastructure program ever, the $75 billion building Canada fund. We saw those projects delivered. Today, in Alberta, for example, the Liberals have announced money for infrastructure where the province is now talking about taking the packet for municipalities and putting it into provincial general revenue. There is no infrastructure money getting down to the municipalities. There are no projects under way. There are no projects that are even really being planned in smaller communities.

Could my colleague comment on that type of program, a failed program of the Liberal government?

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.

Conservative

Dianne Lynn Watts Conservative South Surrey—White Rock, BC

Mr. Speaker, as I alluded to before, it is not just the Conservatives, and me, as a critic, saying this. There are two reports, the parliamentary budget officer report and the Senate report, that clearly state that the infrastructure plan is not transparent. We cannot follow the money. The infrastructure dollars are not getting out the door to communities, where they should be. The Liberals are now looking at selling off airports and ports to pay for a bank, when we already have PPP Canada, which has leveraged private-sector dollars to the tune of $6.6 billion.

Every time we turn around, we see different independent organizations clearly stating that the current government does not have a plan, and whatever plan it thinks it has is failing miserably.

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.

Liberal

Raj Grewal Liberal Brampton East, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Rivière-des-Mille-Îles.

Mr. Speaker, it is always a pleasure to rise in this House regarding the Government of Canada's ambitious plan to make smart investments that will create jobs, grow our economy, and provide more opportunities for the middle class and those working hard to join it.

Over the past year, the government has put in place a plan to grow the economy in a way that works for the middle class and those working hard to join it. Our government has raised taxes on the wealthiest 1% so that we could reduce taxes for the middle class. We have introduced a new Canada child benefit that gives more money to nine out of 10 Canadian families and lifts 300,000 children out of poverty. We have strengthened the Canada pension plan to help Canadians have a more secure and safe and dignified retirement, which they deserve.

We are supporting strong communities by using innovative solutions to help meet pressing infrastructure needs. We are investing in infrastructure that creates good, well-paying jobs that help the middle class grow and prosper.

By making it easier to move people and products, well-planned infrastructure can deliver sustained economic growth for years to come. We put in place an ambitious long-term infrastructure plan that will invest more than $180 billion in federal funding over 12 years. This plan focuses on five key areas: public transit, green infrastructure, social infrastructure, trade and transportation, and rural and northern communities.

Under the first phase of this plan, budget 2016 invested more than $10 billion toward public transit and social and green infrastructure projects. We wasted no time in rolling it out and have made considerable progress. This includes investments toward nearly 550 public transit projects that will make it easier for Canadians to get to work on time and will ensure that public transportation is there when Canadians need it the most; more than 700 projects under the clean water and wastewater fund that will improve access to clean drinking water and will reduce pollution in our lakes and rivers; and 1,000 projects to retrofit and renovate social housing to repair more than 48,000 social housing units. These projects are already making a difference in communities across our country.

To maximize the benefits of infrastructure investments and to ensure that more money flows into infrastructure, the Government of Canada is committed to finding new and innovative ways to fund infrastructure and mobilize private capital. As part of our fall economic statement, we announced the creation of a Canada infrastructure bank. We have consulted broadly with experts on the creation of the bank and will continue to work with our partners to ensure that the bank meets their needs and the needs of all Canadians.

Canada has a very mature market when it comes to infrastructure projects, and partnerships between the public and private sectors have always been a key to the success of infrastructure. Many key pieces of infrastructure, including the Edmonton light rail transit system, were financed in part by the private sector.

In terms of moving the yardstick even further, we believe that there is an opportunity for the federal government to crowd in private sector investment in infrastructure through loans, loan guarantees, and equity participation. The bank will do just that.

The bank will also create more options and opportunities for provinces, territories, and municipalities across the country to undertake transformative infrastructure projects. The bank will invest $35 billion in new projects across Canada, projects such as major public transit in our largest cities, energy transmission corridors, major corridor projects, and more. Of the $35 billion planned to capitalize the bank, $15 billion will be sourced from the announced funding for public transit, green infrastructure, social infrastructure, trade and transportation, and rural and northern communities. This $15 billion is less than 8% of the total commitment of infrastructure funds under our long-term plan.

In addition, $20 billion in capital will be available to the Canada infrastructure bank for investments that will result in the bank holding assets in the form of equity or debt. This $20 billion will therefore not result in a fiscal impact on the government.

The bank will serve as a single federal government point of contact for the private sector and will employ private sector experts to enable the government to invest effectively with private capital. The bank's funds will be over and above the commitment this government has made to double infrastructure funding. Most important, it will offer our funding partners a new way to help meet pressing infrastructure needs. By using private capital to build those new projects, public money will be freed up to build more public infrastructure.

The bank will be a centre of excellence in infrastructure investment by the private sector. It will provide advice to project proponents to allow for better planning and procurement decisions. The vast majority of the infrastructure funding will still be delivered through traditional financial contributions through bilateral agreements or national programs. As such, many infrastructure projects will not need the bank.

I want to be clear. We will not impose the bank on any of our partners, but we will work with willing partners who think this can offer them additional value. The bank is just another tool in our tool kit that our partners can use to invest in the infrastructure they need.

The Government of Canada remains committed to building a fairer, more inclusive country that reflects the priorities of Canadians. We want to put an ambitious plan in place to grow the economy and to build healthier and more livable communities. We are already taking unprecedented action to invest in Canada, our communities, and Canadians. With these smart investments and a commitment to fairness, the government will ensure that Canada's best days are ahead.

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:05 p.m.

Conservative

Matt Jeneroux Conservative Edmonton Riverbend, AB

Mr. Speaker, the member referenced private sector funding of an LRT project in my hometown of Edmonton. It seems that even though the speech was probably written by somebody else in the back room over there, he does not have a clue that it is not up and running yet. It is not even going at the correct speed it was supposed to go about two years ago, when it was announced.

I would like to get the member's comments. Is this is going to be a trend in public sector funding that we have seen from this infrastructure minister, who seems to have a real disconnect from what is going on on the ground in our communities?

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:05 p.m.

Liberal

Raj Grewal Liberal Brampton East, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to make it clear that my reference to the LRT was used as an example of something that was funded through public and private infrastructure. I did not speak about the fact that it was ready to go completed. Attention to detail is something members opposite should pay particular attention to.

I also have a soft spot in my heart when it comes to Alberta, because I was born in Alberta. I have a lot of pride in that province.

I will say that we will take no lessons from the party opposite on job creation or economic growth. For 10 years, it had the worst record when it came to job creation and economic growth. It had low economic growth for 10 years. What has our government been doing? In the last six months, we have created 220,000 jobs. We have decreased unemployment. We have decreased taxes for the middle class, a middle-class tax cut the party opposite voted against. Why? It is because it wanted to reduce taxes for rich Canadians. Our government made a commitment to raise taxes on the wealthiest 1%. That is exactly what we have done. That is exactly what we are going to do in tomorrow's budget. We are going to keep fighting for the middle class. I encourage my colleagues on the other side of this House to support us.

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:05 p.m.

NDP

Pierre Nantel NDP Longueuil—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today.

My colleague's partisan fervour is totally inappropriate.

Quite honestly, as the member for Longueuil—Saint-Hubert, I can safely say that very few people have benefited from these so-called middle-class tax cuts.

As for heritage and culture, we have been asking the Minister of Canadian Heritage to talk to the Minister of Finance for months now to get international players to pay the same taxes as everyone else and stop them from spiriting their profits away to tax havens in foreign countries. The Liberals should be ashamed of themselves for doing nothing about major issues like that. I am tired of hearing about their middle class.

I have a very simple question that relates directly to today's topic. The government says it plans to borrow money for major infrastructure projects because interest rates are so low, but it is approaching lenders that want returns on the order of 7%, 8%, or 9%. How does that make sense?

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:05 p.m.

Liberal

Raj Grewal Liberal Brampton East, ON

Mr. Speaker, my colleague across the aisle started his question by talking about tax fairness. Our government is extremely committed to tax fairness. The finance committee, of which I am a proud member, did a study on tax fairness and made 14 recommendations that were tabled in the House. I am pleased to announce that the government accepted all 14 recommendations to ensure that Canadians pay their fair share of taxes.

When it comes to the Canada infrastructure bank, it will make sure that we make smart and wise decisions to ensure that not only are we leveraging private investment to build public transit and infrastructure projects across this country but also that these projects are creating good, well-paying middle-class jobs. That is a commitment our government has had from day one.

The member opposite and the entire NDP caucus keep talking about working-class Canadians. They keep using the rhetoric that they used in their campaign, but when the time came to vote in favour of a middle-class tax cut, they voted against it. I would like to ask them a question. How can they tell their constituents, when we on this side are helping the middle class by increasing support for families, that they voted against it? They should be ashamed of themselves.

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.

Liberal

Linda Lapointe Liberal Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to take part in today's debate, which has been very lively.

I am pleased to have the opportunity to talk about our efforts to ensure that Canadian seniors enjoy a good quality of life. I am also pleased to note that my colleagues in the opposition do not want any burden to be placed on our seniors. I agree with them wholeheartedly.

During the last campaign and every time I go out and about in my riding, Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, I speak with seniors about their ambitions and their vast knowledge, which they so enjoy passing on. I believe that including our seniors is crucial to the well-being of Quebec and Canadian society.

As everyone knows, our government is doing everything it can to allow all Canadians, including seniors, to participate fully in society and in the economy.

Currently one in seven Canadians is over the age of 65. In 2030, which is soon, it is estimated that there will be 9.5 million seniors in Canada and that they will make up nearly one-quarter of the Canadian population. In 2030, I will be one of those seniors.

Seniors are among the most important members of our society. As we all know, they are very much engaged in their families and contribute actively to their communities and our economy. That said, seniors, particularly those with low incomes, are also among the most vulnerable members of our society.

We are proud to say that Canada is one of the countries with the lowest low-income rate for seniors. Indeed, the most recent data indicate that in 2014, only 3.9% of them were considered low-income. However, Statistics Canada tells us that some 212,000 seniors are still living below the poverty line. These important Canadians are struggling to make ends meet at a point in their lives when most of them can no longer work. I think we all need to agree that no one should have to grow old in poverty or in isolation. I cannot emphasize strongly enough the importance of this issue for our government.

Our government believes that all Canadians deserve to retire with respect and dignity. They should also have some peace of mind knowing that the government will help them make ends meet. We are talking about Canadians who worked hard their entire lives and who contributed their fair share to the tax system. When they retire, it is up to us to give them the support they need in recognition of their contribution to Canadian society during their years of work. Budget 2016 included important measures that sought to do just that.

The previous government pushed back the age of eligibility for old age security and the guaranteed income supplement from 65 to 67. One of the first things we did was to correct that situation and bring the eligibility age back to 65 for old age security and the guaranteed income supplement.

We believe that someone who works their entire life and contributes to our economy and our society deserves a secure and dignified retirement. Seniors do not deserve to be told to keep working for two more years to qualify for their pension. Every Canadian should have the chance to live without worrying that they will not be able to make ends meet.

That is why we increased the guaranteed income supplement by 10% for low-income seniors living alone, which was very well received in Rivière-des-Mille-Îles. As we know, the guaranteed income supplement is an important tool for reducing poverty among seniors. It will give one million of our most vulnerable seniors almost $1,000 every year. We believe that this measure will lift 13,000 of the most vulnerable Canadians out of poverty.

I would like to remind the House that pensioners and seniors are also fathers, mothers, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, grandparents, friends, and neighbours. No one wants their friends or family members to suffer and clearly no one wants to find themselves in a difficult situation in the future.

That is why we are also going to ensure that the old age security program will continue to provide adequate support for the most vulnerable seniors by indexing it to the cost of living. This was raised by groups in my riding and several other Canada-wide associations.

We will index the old age security and the guaranteed income supplement benefits to reflect the increase in the cost of living that seniors face. With respect to income security, our government is currently working to strengthen the Canada pension plan. I would like to assure the House that we will work with our provincial and territorial counterparts and that we will also honour the close relationship between this plan and the Quebec pension plan.

I am proud to say that we have kept our promises to seniors. Other key initiatives, such as the Canadian poverty reduction strategy, will also have a big impact. Last year's budget also included an investment of more than $200 million over two years in support of the construction, repair, and adaptation of affordable housing for seniors.

However, financial security is not the only measure of a happy life. We all hope to continue to be active and to contribute to our family life and to our community as we age. One way to succeed is through the new horizons for seniors program, which supports projects led or inspired by seniors who make a difference in the lives of others in their communities.

Not only do these projects promote volunteerism, which seniors in Rivière-des-Mille-Îles are quite involved in by the way, and mentoring among seniors, but they also help many seniors stay active and engaged as well as keeping them from the dangers of social isolation. To date, 7,000 projects across the country have been approved, and six were approved in my riding since I took office.

As well, in recent weeks, I announced two grants under this program in Deux-Montagnes to support two projects created by and for seniors. I can tell the House that our seniors are motivated to help their neighbours and to make our communities better places to live.

All this clearly demonstrates our commitment to seniors. I am proud to say that the important work we are doing for Canadian seniors will continue after the budget is announced tomorrow. Our government is taking important and decisive action to provide seniors with the support they deserve. We will continue to do so in the coming year.

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

NDP

Brigitte Sansoucy NDP Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, I completely agree with my colleague about the importance of considering and supporting our seniors.

However, when we know that close to two thirds of Canadians oppose the privatization of our public infrastructure system, including ports and airports, I am absolutely certain that many of the seniors who contributed to creating the public infrastructure system we have in this country are against privatizing it.

How is the member taking into account this position, this opinion shared by two thirds of Canadians, in fact some of them in her riding, who are opposed to privatizing airports? What position will she be taking on that?

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

Liberal

Linda Lapointe Liberal Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate my colleague's question.

Today, I chose to speak about seniors because they are very vulnerable people in our society. I believe my colleague across the way agrees with our measures that seek to help our seniors in Canada, particularly by boosting the guaranteed income supplement and returning the age of eligibility for old age security and the guaranteed income supplement to 65 years old.

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

Conservative

Bernard Généreux Conservative Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would simply like to ask my colleague, whom I very much appreciate by the way, if she agrees with the fact that in the years including last year and the next four years her government will have created a deficit of about $100 billion.

How can she be okay with that? I would like her to explain why she supports creating a $100-billion deficit in four years.

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

Liberal

Linda Lapointe Liberal Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his question.

We are facing the same issues regarding official languages. I feel that he is eager and looking forward to tomorrow. I can understand this, but tomorrow is when we will see where we are going.

I would like to assure him, and the House, that our government remains committed to the well-being of all Canadians, including seniors, and we will continue to prove it with our budget, which will be tabled tomorrow.

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

Conservative

David Tilson Conservative Dufferin—Caledon, ON

Mr. Speaker, I asked this question to one of the member's colleagues this morning. I wonder if she could tell me what her party means when its members talk about the middle class. Who is the middle class?

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

Liberal

Linda Lapointe Liberal Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his question.

I am surprised that an MP who has been sitting in the House for several years is asking me what the middle class is. In my riding, the middle class is made up of couples who work very hard and find it difficult to make ends meet.

We are working for the middle class, and we will continue to do so. We will provide another good example of this tomorrow.

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

NDP

Karine Trudel NDP Jonquière, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her speech.

There has been a lot of talk about the middle class here; the government cannot stop bringing it up.

As I said earlier, the middle class is made up primarily of people earning about $22 per hour, which adds up to $45,000 per year. In its last budget, the government did nothing for those people, yet as I see it, they are the middle class because they make up about two-thirds of Canada's population. They are very hard-working people. The government, however, chose to give a tax cut to those who make more than $90,000 per year.

The government goes on and on about the checks families are getting and all the benefits available to them. Once children turn 18, what happens to single moms and dads? How can they keep helping their kids and paying for post-secondary education?

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

Liberal

Linda Lapointe Liberal Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Jonquière for her question about the middle class.

Budget 2017 will be tabled tomorrow. We are working hard for the middle class and those working hard to join it, and that is what we will keep doing. I am very proud to represent all the people of Rivière-des-Mille-Îles.

Provisions in Draft Supplementary Supply BillPoints of OrderGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

Conservative

John Nater Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have a point of order concerning the draft supplementary supply bill that was distributed earlier this morning. In schedules 1.3, 1.4, and 1.5, the proposed bill contains provisions to pay a number of ministers of the crown through the use of an appropriation act. Specifically, payments would be made, and I believe have been made, to ministers without portfolio or ministers of state who do not preside over a ministry of state.

This initiative—raising all ministerial salaries—was part of the Prime Minister's efforts at gender equality in appointing female ministers with no portfolio responsibilities. Then he discovered, or the ministers discovered, that there was a significant salary variable.

The government subsequently introduced Bill C-24 to amend the Salaries Act to give statutory authority to these pay increases. Bill C-24 is still before the House of Commons, was debated at second reading on October 7 and October 19, 2016, but has not yet received approval in principle. It has languished on the Order Paper, neglected and unloved, and so we are confronted with the rule against anticipation.

It is long-established procedure that estimates cannot be used as a substitute or shortcut for legislation, and it is clear that the government saw the need for legislation when it introduced Bill C-24 to amend the Salaries Act. The House will appreciate the irony of a government that ran against omnibus bills using obscure wording in the estimates to hide and to expedite pay increases for ministers.

O'Brien and Bosc has this to say at page 869:

The Chair has maintained that estimates with a direct and specific legislative intent (those clearly intended to amend existing legislation) should come to the House by way of an amending bill. Speaker Jerome stated in a ruling:

...it is my view that the government receives from Parliament the authority to act through the passage of legislation and receives the money to finance such authorized action through the passage by Parliament of an appropriation act. A supply item in my opinion ought not, therefore, to be used to obtain authority which is the proper subject of legislation.

He also said in a further ruling:

...supply ought to be confined strictly to the process for which it was intended; that is to say, for the purpose of putting forward by the government the estimate of money it needs, and then in turn voting by the House of that money to the government. ... legislation and legislated changes in substance are not intended to be part of supply, but rather ought to be part of the legislative process in the regular way which requires three readings, committee stage, and, in other words, ample opportunity for Members to participate in debate and amendment.

I have a number of references in support.

The collected rulings of Speaker Lamoureux, at page 429, reference a proceeding on December 10, 1973. The issue is stated, “Should items of a legislative character be included in the Estimates?” The decision of the Speaker was,“No, they should not.” A subsequent entry on page 430 contains this statement: “Parliament cannot legislate by Estimates.”

In Beauchesne's, sixth edition, citation 941 at page 259 states:

If a Vote in the Estimates relates to a bill not yet passed by Parliament, then the authorizing bill must become law before the authorization of the relevant Vote in the Estimates by an Appropriation Act.

Reference is made to the 18th edition of Erskine May at page 364, where it is stated:

A motion must not anticipate a matter already appointed for consideration by the House, whether it be a bill or an adjourned debate upon a motion.

Here I respectfully remind you, Mr. Speaker, that debate on Bill C-24 has been adjourned since October 19, 2016.

In a similar manner to the ruling at page 69 of the Journals of January 25, 1973, I would suggests that at this point the House in its totality has not made a decision on the supplementary estimates except to study them. Bill C-24 has, however, been given first reading, and the House is now considering whether it should be read a second time. The bill to amend the Salaries Act would be the more effective way of securing spending authority, and the supplementary estimates ought not to anticipate the decision of the House.

In anticipation of a response from the government that this is not a new practice, I would make two points: first, disorder is not cured by repetition; second, in this instance there is a bill to amend the Salaries Act on the Order Paper. While the practice may have slipped through in the past and become law, this House should respect its own procedures for considering bills.

Therefore, Mr. Speaker, I ask that you remove all references to authority for ministerial salaries contained in these supplementary estimates.

Provisions in Draft Supplementary Supply BillPoints of OrderGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, as we know, the Prime Minister has made it a top priority to have a gender-neutral cabinet. The Prime Minister has also made it a priority, in a very clear statement, that all cabinet ministers are equal.

I will report a direct response with respect to the point of order that has been raised by the member back to the House in due course.

Provisions in Draft Supplementary Supply BillPoints of OrderGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

NDP

Irene Mathyssen NDP London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, the point made by my hon. colleague in the Conservative caucus is one that we need to consider.

Very clearly, the government promised that it would be transparent, it would be different, it would be above board. We have some concerns in regard to this particular situation. I would indeed support the need to look at it carefully, in light of the fact that Bill C-24 is before the House.

Provisions in Draft Supplementary Supply BillPoints of OrderGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

I thank the hon. member for Perth—Wellington for bringing his legitimate point of order to the House's attention. To the hon. parliamentary secretary to the government House leader and the hon. member for London—Fanshawe, I note that they will wish to come back to the House at a later time.

The House is aware that this is a matter that will be before the House fairly soon. Timeliness is of the essence here, but we will take the matter under advisement and act on it as quickly as we can.

The House resumed consideration of the motion.

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member of Parliament for Calgary Nose Hill.

It is always a pleasure to participate in this place. Before I begin to offer my comments, I would first like to state my belief that people offer themselves up for public service with a sincere belief and desire to build a stronger and more prosperous Canada. At times we may disagree on how best to achieve those goals, but I believe a democratic debate and a healthy democratic environment, like we enjoy in Canada, are all part of this. They are all part of what we collectively celebrate on July 1st of each year.

I mention these things because I believe that those members of the Liberal government who campaigned on a promise to run modest annual deficits and then return to a balanced budget in 2019 all did so with a sincere belief that these promises were true and accurate. I would like to believe that there was no intent to deceive Canadians, but here is the problem.

We know now that the Liberal government, in budget 2016, blew past these budget promises by saying that it would spend roughly $30 billion in debt. How much has been spent in the last year alone? We do not know. Was it 50% above the Liberal election promise? Was it 100%? Was it double or triple or somewhere in-between? I am not talking about over the next three years that the government promised but just in this last fiscal year that is coming to a close. If we are honest, many on that side would support even more in the upcoming fiscal year. Worse, if we dig a little deeper, as the parliamentary budget office did recently, we would find that less than $5 billion of that could be identified in real infrastructure projects. Where has the rest gone? We know from both the current and previous parliamentary budget officers that the balance is going toward increased spending.

To be fair to the Liberals, I would suggest they have a mandate for some of that increased spending on which they campaigned. However, they did not campaign on much of that other increased spending. Worse, if we read the Liberals' own budget documents, we would find that infrastructure spending eventually has to be increased to meet the Liberals' big spending promises. However, no matter how we cut it, we have a very real challenge now, when spending massively dwarfs revenue. That is why the Department of Finance, in a forecast report, warned that if the current Liberal government does not change course, Canada will not return to a balanced budget until at least 2050, and at that time Canada's debt will be well over $1 trillion.

The finance minister first saw this report back in October. He then punted it, pushed it from the public eye, until Friday December 23. When I asked the finance minister in question period about this report, he threw his own department under the bus, trying to discredit its report. When I made mention of studying this report at finance committee, the Liberals on committee blocked it.

If this report is seriously flawed, as the finance minister contends, he would welcome this scrutiny as it would have surely backed up his claims. Every person in the room knows the real reason the report was blocked. This leaves the question: How will the Liberals overcome what is basically a Liberal-created structural deficit and return to a balanced budget? In question period I have asked when the Liberals will return to a balanced budget. The finance critic for the Conservatives has asked numerous times.

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

An hon. member

Fifteen.

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

I think it was fifteen times, Mr. Speaker. Surprise, surprise, the Liberal government refuses to provide an answer, here or even out and about. I would submit to the House that we may very likely have the first finance minister in Canadian history who believes the term “balanced budget” is dirty words.

I hope I am wrong about that. I hope that the finance minister will come to this place and tell Canadians that a balanced budget is important to Liberals, who of course campaigned on a promise to return to a balanced budget. However, more important, I hope we will learn exactly when the Liberals' fiscal plan will return to a balanced budget. Will it be in 2050, as the minister's own department contends, or when will it be? We do not know. Seriously, who knows? Does any member on any side have any idea when Canadians will see a balanced budget? That, of course, takes us to this motion today.

Here is the problem, as this motion summarizes. Spending continues to exceed revenue to at least the year 2050, unless the Liberals can show us otherwise. Spending, by the Liberals' own plan, is set to continue to rise. If the Liberals will not reduce spending, and we know they will not, then that leaves raising taxes. In effect, that is precisely what happens when the Liberals' national carbon tax comes fully online. Carbon taxes increase costs on businesses and hydro costs, and the businesses become less competitive overall. Increased CPP, let us not forget, increases payroll costs to employers, and that in turn makes Canadian employers less competitive against other jurisdictions.

Here is an interesting fact. Business investment continues to decline in Canada. In fact, it has declined basically every quarterly period since the current Liberal government was elected. I am going to give Liberal members of this place the benefit of the doubt to recognize the importance of business investment in Canada, and it is no surprise that if they make the business environment less competitive they lose investment. With Canadian business investment already in firm decline, how much longer can we continue to ignore that? If they are increasing costs onto our employers at the same time our competitors are decreasing them, as is the case in the United States, at the very least I would trust that Liberal members would agree that, if investment is already in decline—as is the case, the lowest since 1981—there is no fiscal capacity to further decrease Canadian competitiveness.

Keep in mind that the minister's own department, in a different set of reports, warned that increasing the Canada pension would be a drag on the Canadian economy for decades. However, of course the current Liberal government—or at least those who run things when the Prime Minister is travelling elsewhere for whatever reason—does not seem to care about Canadian competitiveness. Where do we go from here? Increased taxes are already hurting Canadian competitiveness.

Liberals will not reduce spending, so it is suggested that they may do a one-time sale of some federal airports to raise some cash. This strikes me as being like a tradesman selling his tools in order to make the minimum payment on credit card bills. I am open to privatization, but let us have a conversation and not simply put the items out on eBay. Yes, it would get them through next month's bills, but it would not change the fact that, as long as spending exceeds income, they have a household headed for trouble. We should not lose sight of the fact that it will be Canadian families of the future who will be left to pay these bills. Again, with an aging demographic, it looks as if our children and grandchildren will have a lot of work left for them from us, and that is not a positive development.

Basically, that is what this motion is about: hoping that budget 2017 will help fix these challenges and not continue to make them worse. As the opposition, we are asking for the government to take this motion seriously and introduce a budget that does not ignore the fiscal and competitive realities. The fact is that we are currently not paying our way and we are leaving debt and other challenges behind for our kids and grandkids to pay for. I would submit that it is not investing in the middle class; it is mortgaging it. It is time we stopped the out-of-control spending that results in higher taxes and creates serious challenges for our future generations. That is why I will be voting in favour of this motion. There are some members across the aisle who may not support it, but I really hope they think and also speak to the finance minister, and if not in tomorrow's budget, I hope these concepts are in future budgets. It is in Canada's best interests.

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Ajax Ontario

Liberal

Mark Holland LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to the comments of the member opposite, and I am confused. The previous Conservative government ran deficits just about every year, and yet Conservatives are now saying that deficits are an awful thing.

Before they were in power, Canada had gone from the worst debt-to-GDP ratio to the best, and debt levels went from being called totally unmanageable to being the best in the G8. Having the best debt levels has been maintained through this process. In fact, when there are reviews of how strong the Canadian economy is relative to its peers, one of the key factors is the investment the Canadian government is making in the Canadian economy, saying that is one of the main factors in why the Canadian economy is doing so well.

Despite the fact that I have confusion about why the Conservatives have suddenly found religion on the issue of deficits after running so many of them when they were in government, my main questions are these. Where would they cut, how would it impact the economy, and would he be willing to shut down the growth of this economy to get what he is looking for?

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

Mr. Speaker, simply put, when we look at what the Conservative government did after coming into power, we see it put $56 billion toward paying down the debt and cut taxes, which allowed the Canadian economy to be already ready when the financial crisis in 2006-07 and the subsequent great recession hit, the largest drop in demand since the great depression came. The domestic economy was prepared for a very tough time.

We are in a much different environment today. There are many people who question whether stimulating the economy works in a macroeconomic model when other countries like the United States are not doing so. Therefore, I would suggest to the member opposite that, if throwing money out today does not provide results and, ultimately, productive infrastructure to make our economy grow, what is the purpose? Are Liberals so addicted to throwing money out the door that they will use any reason—in fact, no reason—to do so?

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

NDP

Karine Trudel NDP Jonquière, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to talk about the fact that the government wants to privatize airports. Instead of doing that, the government could get more than $7 billion by tackling tax havens. That is a fact and something we talk about regularly. It is money that could easily be recouped and used to improve our health care system. Earlier, I was talking about post-secondary education and the huge tuition fees. Young people are going into debt in our regions.

It would be easy to get that $7 billion. Instead, the government seems to be at an impasse and would rather privatize our airports and our ports. That really worries me.

In mid-May or June, Canada Post will be tabling its report. Will the government come up with yet another surprise and privatize Canada Post out of the blue in order to scrape up a bit of money? We have to look at the long term and preserve our public services, which are so important. They create good jobs.

I wanted to share my concerns with my colleagues in the House.

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

Mr. Speaker, I do not hold the same ideological opposition to privatization. I believe it is a tool in the tool box and that, in cases where there are privatized airports throughout the world, there have been some very good results.

What I am concerned with is the rationale for doing so. Is the government putting these assets on fire sale simply to pay for the credit card? Second to that, is it doing so in a transparent and open way? It talks about consulting on every widget it comes up with, but when we ask questions in the chamber, all we hear is that it will do what is best for consumers. That is not good enough, and I expect better of any Canadian government.

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Conservative

Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is always a pleasure to rise in this House, and specifically today to speak to this motion.

I have a good friend. She is a young woman who is just finishing her university degree. She sent me a Snapchat which said, “Do something to stop the Prime Minister from taking my money.” That is really why we are here today. We are debating a motion that would have the government commit to stop spending Canadians' taxpayer dollars in such a reckless and irresponsible way.

The motion in front of us today, which was proposed by the Conservative Party, would have the government agree that there should be no further tax hikes on Canadian families, businesses, seniors, or students. That is a no-brainer. We have not seen a lot of economic growth under the Liberal government's tenure to date. It seems reasonable to ask the government to show Canadians that it is willing to make a commitment, ahead of its disastrous budget tomorrow, to stop the haemorrhaging and to stop raising taxes on Canadian families.

We are also asking the government to take immediate measures to ensure companies hire young Canadians and address the youth unemployment crisis. We know that economic growth has slowed under the Liberal government's tenure, and that the people who are most affected by this are young Canadians. Certainly, in my home province of Alberta, that crisis has been magnified to a very large extent over the last year and a half.

We are also asking the government to vote for a credible plan to return to a balanced budget by 2019, as the Liberals promised Canadians in the election campaign. They have completely abandoned this promise, and they are expecting Canadians just to turn a blind eye to it. The Liberals have an opportunity with this motion today to support that.

In this motion, we are also asking the government to not sell Canadian airports. The analogy I used this weekend on a television talk show is that it is as though the Liberals went to Vegas on a drunken weekend bender, got this massive credit card bill, have nothing to show for it except a hangover, and now they are selling Canadian airports to pay for it. We are asking the government not to do that.

That is the form and substance of the motion. Why is it so important that the government do that today?

First, I need to point out the higher tax burden that Canadians are paying under the Liberal government. We want the government to agree to stop raising taxes. Why? Since the Liberals have formed government, and because they have put in place higher Canada pension plan premiums, each Canadian household will pay about $2,200 more every year. That means $2,200 coming directly out of the pockets of Canadian families. For most Canadian families, that is a lot of money and the government has taken that right out of their pockets.

With the Liberals' national price on carbon, which we know will not actually reduce greenhouse gas emissions and will not do anything to help climate change, that means up to another $2,500 directly out of the pockets of Canadians.

The Liberals cancelled the family tax cut. We know that is about $2,000 per household. They cancelled the arts and fitness tax credit. That is about $225 a child. For a family that is trying to put their kids into hockey, that is a lot of money. The Liberals took that away, so effectively that is a tax increase. The other thing, which is especially for students, is that the government cancelled the education and textbook tax credits, which is another $500 roughly per student.

The Liberals also increased the small business tax rate. That is an average of $1,800 per company. They have also increased employment insurance premiums, which is another $85 per worker.

What is even more important is that the Liberals, if they refuse to stand up and say, “Yes, we agree. It is common sense, and we are not going to increase taxes on Canadians”, and I am not optimistic about it, then they are going to provide Canadians some assurances on what we are hearing is going to actually be in their budget tomorrow. We are hearing that tomorrow's budget will increase the capital gains inclusion rate. What does that mean? The Liberals are pre-positioning this with editorials in the Toronto Star and whatnot saying that the capital gains tax only affects the wealthy.

However, in reality, there are 1.2 million Canadians who earn less than $50,000 who take advantage of that tax credit. Many of them are low-income seniors. These would be seniors who had bought stocks in a company or something 20 or 30 years ago and are looking to divest some of that. They are going to have a huge tax burden. This is going to send a chill right across the economy. If this is in the budget tomorrow, my God. When we look at competitiveness with our neighbour to the south right now, this is just disastrous. It is not only disastrous for the economy, but it is directly disastrous for those 1.2 million people who want to become part of the middle class and are now not going to be able to afford to do it.

The Liberals are going to tax stock options for employees. We have heard about this. Ending the public transit tax credit is on the table, as is ending the volunteer firefighter tax credit. The Liberals have also been pre-positioning a tax on Internet services, like Netflix.

It is very simple for the Liberals to stand here and say, “We understand all of this damage that we have done to Canadian families, but we are going to give them a break tomorrow, and we are going to stand up and say that we are not going to increase taxes.” However, anybody who has been listening to the debate today will know that they are not going to vote for this motion. Why? The Liberals have mortgaged our future into oblivion.

Here is the problem. The Liberals have increased taxes on Canadians by a crazy amount, and members can do the math that I outlined at the start of my speech. This is a lot of money for the average Canadian family. What is even more important is that they have increased our deficits to the point where the parliamentary budget officer is saying that we cannot balance the budget for at least 30 years, and what do the Liberals have to show for it? Nothing.

Here are some key economic metrics. Canadians are working less under the Liberal government. The hours worked are down by 0.3% over the last year. Canadians are earning less wages, down 1.3% over the last year, but the cost of living is up by 2.1%. I do not need to tell these statistics to Canadians, because they are feeling it in their pocketbooks, which is why we need to support this motion here today.

For us in this place, we have a fiduciary responsibility to Canadian taxpayers to be responsible stewards of their money. If we are going to spend into oblivion, as the government is doing, we better have some results from it. I will continue to tell members about what is not happening for Canadians.

This spending has failed to grow the economy. GDP grew by 1.4% in 2016, which is exactly what the federal government projected before last year's budget. If members remember, this time last year, the federal government was saying that it would be mortgaging Canada's future, and all of a sudden we were going to see a massive increase in growth. What did we see? Nothing. There was no growth.

The other thing I am going to point out is that the government was supposed to flow all sorts of money into infrastructure spending. I do not see any roads being built. I do not see the LRT in my riding being completed, especially in Alberta where we have so many people out of work, especially trades that could be getting back to work with some of these funds, but the government has done nothing. However, I will say that the infrastructure minister managed to find time to spend $800,000 to renovate his office here in Ottawa, so that was a priority.

The other problem we have is competitiveness as we compare ourselves to the U.S. As we sink ourselves into a deeper hole, get no results from it, and take more money away from Canadian taxpayers, there is no bright future here whatsoever for Canadians, and that is wrong.

This is why we put this motion forward today. It seems very reasonable to me for the government to stand and say, “We oppose taking away more money out of Canadians' pockets, because we know that we have nothing to show for it.”

It is very funny as I stand here and listen to the Liberals heckle me. They are uncomfortable because they know that I am right. They know there has been nothing to show for their reckless spending. They know that their campaign promises were abysmally improperly costed. It was just a massive sham. Now those chickens are coming home to roost.

I am proud to stand up for my constituents and hard-working Canadians to say that enough is enough. I will be standing up and voting for this motion to say that, no, we do not need to tax Canadians more. No, we do not need to grow government for absolutely no reason with absolutely no results, and that is the difference between this side of the House and that side of the House.

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Spadina—Fort York Ontario

Liberal

Adam Vaughan LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Families

Mr. Speaker, one of the great things about coming to this House from municipal council is we have friends right across the country who are mayors and members of city councils in places such as Calgary.

I remember talking to Mayor Nenshi specifically in the last year of the Conservative mandate about how the previous government had approved zero dollars in infrastructure projects for Calgary, and not just zero dollars in infrastructure projects for Calgary, but zero dollars for all of Alberta for two straight years.

The member opposite said that she wanted to see results from the federal infrastructure spend. I can tell the member that Mayor Nenshi has been more than glowing in his praise for the federal transfers that have gone through the provincial capital straight to the people of Calgary, including projects like the Green Line, the 17 Avenue transitway, the southwest transitway, the Stoney CNG bus storage and transit facility, the north crosstown bus rapid transit line, the south crosstown bus rapid transit line, the bus rapid transit line, and the Sirocco LRT parking lot expansion to accommodate all the growth and expansion.

If those projects are happening in the member's city, would she open her eyes, please, and acknowledge them?

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague opposite for giving a laundry list of the infrastructure investments that were announced under our Conservative government. I thank him for mentioning especially the Green Line.

What is very interesting is that if my colleague from downtown Toronto, which is so congruent to understanding the needs of my riding in Calgary which is seeing a 10% unemployment rate right now, had any understanding of what is going on in Calgary, he would know that the municipal tax rate in Calgary is so high that businesses are closing their doors. I really want to thank him for reiterating the infrastructure investments that were committed under our government under a balanced budget with the lowest federal tax burden in 50 years. I would really like to thank him for that, and I would also like to take this chance to remind him that that particular mayor he mentioned has seen a very large increase in property taxes which nobody in Calgary appreciates.

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

Pierre Nantel NDP Longueuil—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her passionate and very interesting speech.

The Conservatives know that we agree with many points in their motion today, specifically their point on airports because that is absolute heresy. However, when it comes to freezing certain tax rates, we are not on the same page.

In a recent speech, I quoted the British finance minister, Mr. Osborne, who said that their corporate tax rate was among the lowest in the world, but England expects those taxes to be paid. I would like to know my colleague's thoughts on that.

What does she think about the government's inaction when it comes to online suppliers and their unfair competition with our retailers who operate a storefront, have employees, and pay their taxes here in Canada?

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, to be honest, I only heard part of my colleague's question. I heard him talk a little about corporate taxes.

What I wanted to emphasize to the House was that under our former government, while the federal tax burden was at its lowest level in over 50 years, we actually saw government revenue increase. Why was that? When we know that there is a competitive environment for job-creating companies to undertake investment, the economy grows and government revenue grows, because if we have more businesses creating more revenue, we have a bigger tax base that can go to government for programs and services.

That is the problem with Keynesian economics. Keynesians think they can spend their way into prosperity and they often forget the other side of the equation which is that what is spent has to be paid back. Both the Liberals and the NDP have no idea about this.

Certainly it is my pleasure to stand up for common sense and my constituents in the House to have a low tax burden and prudent common sense when it comes to government spending.

Vic DermanStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is always an honour to rise in this place and pay tribute to people from my community of Saanich—Gulf Islands. However, it is particularly difficult when I am paying tribute to someone who has passed away far too soon.

Saanich councillor, Vic Derman, died this weekend. He had served on council since 2002, but before that he was a key community leader.

He founded the Saanich Community Association Network. He was a founder of the land conservancy. He was my friend. He was a community leader in every way one could imagine. He was a school teacher before he went into politics. He inspired many young people, who are now paying tribute to him, to give themselves to public service.

He leaves his wife, Lauraine, his daughter Michelle, and countless others like me who hold Vic Derman forever as a hero, a champion of climate action and sustainability.

Valcartier VictimsStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Dan Ruimy Liberal Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is with deep sadness, but also a sense of peace, that I rise today.

In July 1974, young cadets gathered at the Valcartier Cadet Summer Training Centre in Quebec. During a training exercise a grenade exploded, killing six cadets and injuring dozens more.

I was a member of the Royal Montreal Regiment cadets when we learned that some of our fellow cadets were among the victims.

For over 40 years, these cadets and their families did not see the fair treatment or compensation they deserved. This month, the Minister of National Defence offered a formal apology, along with providing compensation for the former cadets and their families whose lives were changed forever by this tragic incident.

The fight for justice for the Valcartier victims was long and stressful. It has been a very important issue for me for many years. I would like to thank the government for finally—

Valcartier VictimsStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

The hon. member for Mégantic—L'Érable.

Plessisville Hunting and Fishing AssociationStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Mr. Speaker, do you know the story about the fellow who went fishing and rented a tractor trailer to bring home a huge trout, or the one about a hunter who had to replace the door to his home to bring in the magnificent 12-foot rack of the animal he had watched for so long that his hair turned white?

Over the past 60 years, we have heard lots of these kinds of hunting and fishing stories in Plessisville. Today, I am proud to recognize the 1,400 members of the Association de chasse et pêche de Plessisville, which will be celebrating its 60th anniversary on March 28.

On my honour, the best hunting and fishing is in Plessisville, the most dedicated volunteers are those of the fishing and hunting club, and the best fishers and hunters in Canada live in the riding of Mégantic-L'Érable.

On behalf of all my constituents and myself, I would like to thank and congratulate the Association de chasse et pêche de Plessisville. Thank you to everyone who supports the association by volunteering and supporting a solid membership that will see the association through another 60 years.

Innovation and Economic DevelopmentStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Alaina Lockhart Liberal Fundy Royal, NB

Mr. Speaker, I rise today as a dedicated advocate for innovation in rural Canada. My beautiful province of New Brunswick remains one of the most rural provinces in Canada, and we are proud of it. Rural communities not only feed Canada, they develop and protect our natural resources, and in my opinion, provide an appealing alternative to urban life.

I am proud to be part of a government that understands what innovation looks like in rural Canada and has committed to investments in broadband internet connectivity and other technologies that support resource-based industries, like agriculture and fisheries.

We are working to strengthen the workforce through immigration and investing in training and skills development, as well as growing the economic potential of tourism through infrastructure investments, like our own Fundy trail.

We all must be champions for rural Canada in the House, as we will continue to rely on tenacious and innovative rural Canadians for sustainability and growth. By continuing to look at innovation from a rural perspective, we can realize the full potential of our great country.

International Day for the Elimination of Racial DiscriminationStatements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Tracey Ramsey NDP Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize March 21 as the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. The 2017 UN theme is racial profiling and incitement to hatred, with a focus on how this impacts refugees and migrants.

The recent terrorist attack against the Muslim community in Quebec was a devastating reminder that Canada is not immune from hate crimes and racially motivated violence. Racial profiling of minorities continues on our streets. Systemic discrimination against first nations, Métis and Inuit peoples continues across Canada. People are being discriminated against at our border by Trump's prejudiced immigration and travel ban.

There is no place in Canada for hatred or discrimination of any kind.

Teanna Ducharme, member of the Nisga'a Nation and Daughters of the Vote delegate, stood in the House and said, “I envision a Canada that is fierce in its leadership and shows just how much every person is equal.”

We must challenge racist attitudes and behaviours if we hope to continue building a fair and equitable society, and to change the reality in Canada for racialized people and all who seek racial justice.

International Day of ForestsStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Frank Baylis Liberal Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

Mr. Speaker, today is the International Day of Forests. Protecting our forests is crucial, and this begins with the environment. Forests are the lungs of the earth, and they provide habitat for countless forms of life.

There is a wonderful parable by Dr. Seuss, called The Lorax. In it, the Lorax says, “I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues”.

Today, I encourage all Canadians to speak for the trees through their actions: plant a tree, donate to a charity, or pick up a piece of litter. Finally, take a moment to go for a walk in the woods and contemplate how we are all one with nature.

World Down Syndrome DayStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Colin Carrie Conservative Oshawa, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House to inform members that today, March 21, marks World Down Syndrome Day, a day where Canadians celebrate people with Down syndrome and their families, from coast, to coast, to coast.

Today serves as a platform to share information about Down syndrome in order to debunk the myths and install the facts, facts that will help Canadians have a better understanding of Down syndrome.

The date March 21 is significant because it symbolizes the characteristics of 95% of the people living with Down syndrom, which is the triplication of the 21st chromosome.

I would also like to use this time to recognize the Canadian Down Syndrome Society and its board chair, Laura LaChance. They are here today, as they celebrate 30 years as Canada's only national Down syndrome organization.

I personally would like to thank the society for all the hard work and advocacy that it has provided to Down syndrome awareness in Canada over the past 30 years.

The Push for ChangeStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Marwan Tabbara Liberal Kitchener South—Hespeler, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to acknowledge Joe Roberts, his wife Marie Roberts, and The Push for Change team.

In 1989, Joe Roberts was a homeless youth in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, struggling with substance abuse and homelessness. Thanks to the support of his mother and an OPP officer, he turned his life around and became a successful entrepreneur.

On May 1, last year, in St. John's, Newfoundland, Joe began pushing a shopping cart across Canada to raise money and awareness about the issues of youth homelessness that impact 35,000 young people each year.

Today is day 325 of the 517-day walk and Joe has already walked nearly 6,000 kilometres. When he arrives in Vancouver on September 30, Joe will have walked 9,000 kilometres and engaged in over 400 school and community events.

Let us keep pushing for change. We thank Joe.

International Day of ForestsStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

William Amos Liberal Pontiac, QC

Mr. Speaker, today, many Canadians are celebrating International Day of Forests.

With the third-largest forest area in the world and 37% of the world's certified forests, Canada's forest sector is ideally positioned to drive innovation, create jobs, and combat climate change.

Canada's forests also provide opportunities for all Canadians to enjoy the outdoors and natural experiences.

In my riding, Pontiac, the iconic white pine has formed the core of our rural culture and was an engine of economic growth for over 200 years. Log Driver's Waltz could be another Canadian national anthem.

The Canadian forest industry continues to embrace innovation by adopting clean technologies, producing green energy, and reducing its need for water.

Our government is proud that our forest industry is recognized worldwide for sustainable forest management, which is vital to securing the health and well-being of our nation's forests and forestry sector.

Sylvia Fletcher ThomasStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Gord Brown Conservative Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to former Gananoque, Ontario, mayor and my friend Sylvia Fletcher Thomas who passed away at home last week at the age of 68.

Sylvia, as she preferred to be known, was a fierce promoter and cheerleader for the town of Gananoque and the 1000 Islands, first as the executive director of the chamber of commerce, then as a councillor, and then as a two-term mayor. She led the community through several controversies that saw major commercial development, along with a new emergency services building required by the police and fire departments.

I had the honour of serving with her on council and the pleasure of working with her on many projects in town. I can say that she was very passionate about her work, both at the chamber and as mayor, but she also enjoyed a good laugh and could even poke fun at herself.

On behalf of all members, I offer condolences to her husband Jim Hector Thomas, her son Dwayne, who is now a town councillor in Gananoque, her daughter Cindy Wrong, her mother Elin Philips, her 10 brothers and sisters, and her extended family.

She will be missed.

International Day for the Elimination of Racial DiscriminationStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Gary Anandasangaree Liberal Scarborough—Rouge Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, today is the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

Racism affects all our institutions and has a real impact on the lives of racialized Canadians every day. Indigenous and black communities are vastly overrepresented in our jail; 25% of those in federal prisons are indigenous men and women, and 36% of those in federal prisons for women are indigenous. Other vital statistics illustrate the deep, historical impact of government policies toward our first nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples.

This year, we saw racism manifest in its deadliest form with a shooting in Sainte-Foy, Quebec. Reported cases of Islamophobia have more than doubled in the past three years alone. We see mosques and synagogues vandalized. We see girls and boys, women and men targeted for just being who they are.

On this day, we need to reflect on these startling facts and resolve to fight racism in all its vilest forms, right in Canada and around the world.

Post-secondary Policy Forum ChallengeStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Filomena Tassi Liberal Hamilton West—Ancaster—Dundas, ON

Mr. Speaker, our democracy thrives when each new generation produces thoughtful leaders and thinkers.

Today I am pleased to announce that five students from McMaster, which is a world-recognized institution in my home town of Hamilton, have won the Minister of Finance's post-secondary policy forum challenge. Their submission focused on reform and modernization of employment insurance.

The Minister of Finance called their submission innovative and bold. These talented young people will be on the Hill tomorrow and will be able to hear the minister deliver the 2017 budget, and will also have the opportunity to meet with him afterward.

I wish to congratulate these bright young minds for their innovation and creativity. They inspire great optimism in me, for Hamilton, and for Canada. Well done students; Well done McMaster University.

Sexual AssaultStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Tony Clement Conservative Parry Sound—Muskoka, ON

Mr. Speaker, I recently hosted a meeting in my riding of Parry Sound—Muskoka with local advocacy groups and the mayors of Huntsville and Bracebridge to discuss an alarming report in the Globe and Mail.

The report revealed one in five sexual assault claims in Canada is dismissed as unfounded by the police. My riding has some of the highest numbers in the country, with more than half of sexual assault allegations being dropped. We must work together to address these disturbing and unacceptable statistics.

We should be looking at alternative models of addressing sexual assault allegations, including the Philadelphia model. This model was implemented 14 years ago, and allows front-line groups, which understand trauma, to review reported sexual assault cases directly with police.

I am encouraged that communities and advocacy groups in Parry Sound—Muskoka and across the country are working together and learning from one another to find effective solutions to support sexual assault victims. Let us all help our communities to reduce and eliminate sexual violence, and bring perpetrators to justice.

HealthStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Randeep Sarai Liberal Surrey Centre, BC

Mr. Speaker, 914, that is the number of lives lost last year in British Columbia to the opioid crisis, which has ravaged families and communities across British Columbia. Zero is the number of deaths that occurred at any supervised consumption site last year.

These numbers are important and they tell a story, that harm reduction saves lives. After over a decade of inaction by the previous government, this government has taken swift and immediate action to not only save lives, but make evidence-based decisions that will allow for more supervised consumption sites, including in my riding of Surrey Centre.

Surreyietes deserve access to the very best of health care, and Bill C-37 will do exactly that.

I want to extend my personal thanks to the paramedics, firefighters, police officers, and all front-line workers who have not only worked long and difficult hours to save lives, but who have also put their own lives at risk while doing so.

Acton Vale RegionStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

NDP

Brigitte Sansoucy NDP Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, at the beginning of the month, I once again had the pleasure of visiting a number of businesses in the Acton Vale region. I had the opportunity to meet workers at the Burnbrae Farms liquid egg plant, workers who manufacture forestry mulchers at DENIS CIMAF, and workers who produce high-quality pet food at Food for Pets. Their products are popular here and around the world.

I also visited Ferme Clovis Gauthier, whose eggs are sold throughout Quebec. I had the pleasure of visiting Apolline boutique and the Upton general store, which are both filled with amazing treasures. I also went to Laliberté Moto Sport, which is an excellent example of a family business where multiple generations share a passion for what they do.

It was such a pleasure for me to converse with my constituents, including the residents of Maison Saint-Amour and Domaine Rousseau, as well as the staff who take care of our seniors with such grace and dedication, and other people I met all over town.

TaxationStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman, MB

Mr. Speaker, tonight the Liberals have a chance to right a wrong for a group of soldiers who feel like they have been kicked in the stomach by their own government. Since September, a small group of Canadian soldiers stationed in Kuwait in the fight against ISIS have been losing up to $1,800 per month because of a new tax on their danger pay. When the minister said he would make sure there was more equity for our troops, I never thought this new tax would be extended by the Liberals to an additional 300 soldiers. On this side of the House, we understand that our troops deserve better.

Tonight we will be voting on our Conservative motion to reverse this cold-hearted tax grab from the brave men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces and their families. The defence minister has indicated that only a small group will have their tax relief restored, while nearly 300 stationed in Kuwait will continue to pay the Liberal's tax for fighting ISIS. I urge all members of this House to stand tonight, on behalf of every member of the Canadian Armed Forces and their families, to ensure that they receive all the benefits, danger pay, and respect they deserve.

2017 Global Teacher PrizeStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Sean Fraser Liberal Central Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, we all know that some of the best people in the world come from Atlantic Canada. Last week, Maggie MacDonnell, a teacher from Antigonish, Nova Scotia, proved this to be true. Maggie was recently selected as the recipient of the prestigious Global Teacher Prize from among more than 20,000 applicants in 179 countries. This prize comes with an award of $1 million and the right to claim the literal title of world's best teacher.

Though Maggie was born out east, it was her extraordinary work in Salluit, Quebec, a remote village in Canada's north, that puts her in a class of her own. Her contributions to the school and community include establishing a fitness centre, a community kitchen, healthy eating programs, and a life skills program for girls. Maggie plans to use her prize winnings to further enhance her community. She hopes to create an NGO that will focus on environmental stewardship and physical activity through kayaking to help enhance physical and mental health among indigenous youth.

Maggie's prize may have been a million bucks, but we cannot put a price on the real value of the work she continues to do. I can tell her that we are some proud of her back home.

Government AccountabilityOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Sturgeon River—Parkland Alberta

Conservative

Rona Ambrose ConservativeLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, each and every person here was elected to represent the people in their riding, and together we represent the Canadian people.

Far from a mere inconvenience, the Prime Minister appearing in the House every day to answer questions is a critical tool for him to provide accountability to each and every Canadian.

How can the Prime Minister justify his willingness to show up in the House only once a week? Why is he attempting to shirk his responsibilities?

Government AccountabilityOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

On the contrary, Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to be here today and as often as necessary to answer questions from members of the opposition.

That said, I would like to point out that our government is different from the previous government. We have an amazing cabinet. Our ministers are very capable of directly answering questions regarding their own actions in their own portfolios. That is how a government by cabinet operates. That is how a government operates when it is accountable to its citizens.

Government AccountabilityOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Government AccountabilityOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Order. Let us not start off with a noisy question period.

The hon. Leader of the Opposition.

Government AccountabilityOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Sturgeon River—Parkland Alberta

Conservative

Rona Ambrose ConservativeLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has announced that he wants to change the rules of Parliament to make his life easier, and no one's life will be easier than his. If he gets away with this, he will only have to show up to work once a week. He also wants to strip the opposition of its power to hold him accountable.

We know that the Prime Minister says China is a dictatorship he admires, and he certainly had a bizarre infatuation with Fidel Castro.

Can the Prime Minister at least agree that he, the Prime Minister of Canada, should be accountable to the House of Commons and to Canadians more than once a week?

Government AccountabilityOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we have put forward a discussion paper, that we have published and shared with all Canadians, to talk about how we can improve the functioning of this house of democracy, how we can make sure that Canadians are better heard, that the opposition has the opportunity to ask tough questions to hold the Prime Minister to account and to hold this government to account.

That is why, among the many proposals we have made, we have talked about the model of the British prime minister's questions that devotes an entire question period to the prime minister answering questions.

We are open to all sorts of discussions about how to improve the functioning of this Parliament, because we know Canadians expect a modern workplace out of this place so we can better serve them.

Government AccountabilityOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Sturgeon River—Parkland Alberta

Conservative

Rona Ambrose ConservativeLeader of the Opposition

Modern, Mr. Speaker? Efficient? Efficient like the Chinese dictatorship that he thinks is so efficient? We do not live in China. Those are the Prime Minister's words.

We do not live in China or Cuba. We live in Canada, and we have a parliamentary democracy that is accountable to Canadians. We think the Prime Minister should show up every day.

Here is a thought. We could have question period with the Prime Minister every day. He could answer all of our questions every day.

Government AccountabilityOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I look forward to every opportunity to stand up and talk about the great things this government is doing.

Tomorrow we will be presenting a budget that will create growth for the middle class, opportunities for Canadians, investments in the future of this country that we know, after 10 years of slow growth under the Conservative government, will turn our growth path around. This is about giving opportunities to Canadians.

I am always happy to talk about the important things the Canadian government is doing for the middle class.

FinanceOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Sturgeon River—Parkland Alberta

Conservative

Rona Ambrose ConservativeLeader of the Opposition

Let us start with facts, Mr. Speaker. The fact is that the middle class grew by 30% over the last 10 years.

Here is an interesting fact. The Prime Minister's Office has already spent more on polling than the previous Conservative government spent in eight years. Millions of tax dollars are being spent to track Canadians' views for the political benefit of the Prime Minister.

I have a really simple question for the Prime Minister. Has the Prime Minister polled Canadians on whether or not he should keep his promise to balance the budget in 2019?

FinanceOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the member opposite wants to talk about facts. The fact is, the very first thing we did in government was lower taxes on the middle class and raise them on the wealthiest 1%. Unfortunately, the fact also is that that party voted against raising taxes on the wealthiest and lowering them on the middle class. That, unfortunately, demonstrates that they still do not understand that Canadians need investments in the middle class and support for the middle class, not for the wealthiest, like they did for 10 years.

TaxationOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Sturgeon River—Parkland Alberta

Conservative

Rona Ambrose ConservativeLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, what Canadians want tomorrow is a break from the Prime Minister.

In the last budget, he hiked taxes on small businesses, on families, and on students, and then we got the national carbon tax and a payroll tax hike, but that is not enough. Now the Prime Minister needs to cancel more tax credits. He wants to raise user fees. He is even considering putting GST on Netflix.

Does the Prime Minister realize that Canadians are tired of being nickel-and-dimed to death?

TaxationOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, over the past year and a half, we raised taxes on the wealthiest 1% so we could lower them on the middle class. We delivered a Canada child benefit that gives more money to nine out of 10 Canadians by stopping the sending of child benefit cheques to millionaire families, which the previous government did.

The fact is, on the tax cut for the middle class and more money through the CCB, that party voted against both initiatives. Shame on them.

Small BusinessOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister really likes slogans and sound bites, such as the one about 2015 being the last election under the current system.

I see this is still a sore point for the Prime Minister, but what happened to his promise to cut small business taxes? Well, in committee, his minister responsible for small business said that this promise was, and I quote, a sound bite to get elected.

Why is the Prime Minister turning his back on his promise and at the same time going ahead with a privatization bank that he never mentioned during the campaign?

Small BusinessOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we know what our small businesses need: economic growth.

Following 10 years of a government that failed in this area, we are working to put more money in the pockets of the middle class and create opportunities for our small businesses.

By connecting our small businesses to global markets, especially through the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, which the previous government was unable to conclude but we managed to do so, we know that we are creating opportunities for small and medium-sized businesses every day. That is our government’s focus.

InfrastructureOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Prime Minister conveniently forgot to mention that his platform promise does not look anything like the privatization bank he is now proposing. In fact, the word “privatization” does not ever appear in the Liberal campaign platform. Neither do “user fees”, “tolls”, or “private profit on public property”.

Will the Prime Minister admit that he never campaigned on privatizing infrastructure?

InfrastructureOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the member opposite remembers well the campaign, because we committed to invest in infrastructure, while he committed to balancing the books, at all costs, on the backs of Canadians. Canadians made a different choice. Canadians knew that investing in our communities, investing in infrastructure, whether it is social housing, whether it is child care spaces, whether it is public transit, is necessary for the future of our economy, for the future of Canadians. That is what we are doing. We are looking to leverage as much public infrastructure as we possibly can for the benefit of Canadians, and that is what the infrastructure bank is going to help do.

TaxationOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, here is something that did appear in the Liberal campaign platform: “set a cap on how much can be claimed through the stock option deduction”. We know a little about that, because it was actually in our platform long before the Liberals discovered it. Tomorrow the Liberals have an opportunity to put the interests of every Canadian above those of wealthy insiders. Last week they actually voted for it and said they were going to do it.

Will the Liberals keep their promise to close the stock option loophole, yes or no?

TaxationOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, it is interesting how the member opposite talks about doing more for the middle class and less for the wealthiest, because he voted against lowering taxes on the middle class and raising them on the wealthiest 1%. If he were serious about helping the middle class, he would make sure that his party stood with us as we lower taxes on the middle class and raise them on the wealthiest 1%.

JusticeOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, the NDP voted for increasing taxes on the wealthiest Canadians, but he is right, we did oppose a plan that did nothing to help the middle class.

This morning, the government dropped gangsterism, trafficking, importation of narcotics, weapons possession, kidnapping and other charges against 36 individuals arrested during a major anti-mafia sweep.

My question to the Prime Minister is as follows: why?

JusticeOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, it is important that we ensure that our justice system works to keep Canadians and their communities safe. We are always working to improve our justice system so that criminals are prosecuted and face the consequences of their actions. There is still work to do to improve the system.

The BudgetOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Conservative

Denis Lebel Conservative Lac-Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, I can understand why someone would borrow to invest in an RRSP. However, when they borrow to buy groceries, there is a major problem. This is what the government is currently doing.

The government promised to create thousands of jobs through various programs. However, it seems that these jobs have not been created. Today, people will have to pay to bring the deficit down as low as possible.

Tomorrow we will find out which segment of the population will end up paying the price. Will income splitting for seniors be taken away to pay for the government’s out-of-control spending?

The BudgetOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe New Brunswick

Liberal

Ginette Petitpas Taylor LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.

We are the party that committed to investing in the middle class and growing the economy. We are the party that committed to helping our seniors. We are the party that brought in a 10% increase to the guaranteed income supplement for low-income single seniors. Lastly, we are the party that lowered taxes for the middle class.

We support our seniors and we are moving forward.

The BudgetOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Conservative

Denis Lebel Conservative Lac-Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, as the member just said, the government made promises, but it has broken many of them. This is just one of many.

The government cobbled together a plan to sell our airports, which would put money in its pocket and make it look not quite so bad.

What will be in tomorrow's budget for the forestry industry and softwood lumber? How will the budget secure the future of our regions? A lot of people are very worried. Tomorrow, who will have to pick up the tab for the Prime Minister's out-of-control spending?

The BudgetOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe New Brunswick

Liberal

Ginette Petitpas Taylor LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, once again, I thank my colleague for his question.

Budget 2017 will build on our commitment to support the middle class and grow our economy. Our government is the one that introduced measures to ensure the middle class gets some support. We are the ones who gave members of the middle class a tax cut. We created the Canada child benefit, which has lifted hundreds of thousands of children out of poverty. We have also helped our seniors—

The BudgetOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

The hon. member for Carleton.

The BudgetOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, how about a riddle? According to Finance Canada, the federal government had a balanced budget in 2015. Now, Finance Canada says we will have deficits until 2055. In just one Liberal budget, we added four decades of deficits. After a second Liberal budget, in approximately what century will we be projected to balance?

The BudgetOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe New Brunswick

Liberal

Ginette Petitpas Taylor LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, for far too long, middle-class Canadians have had a hard time getting ahead, with the decisions that were made by the previous government. We have a plan to grow the economy and strengthen the middle class. Our plan is working. If we look at the numbers that came out just two weeks ago, we see that we have created more than 220,000 full-time jobs and part-time jobs. We can also see that our unemployment rate has gone down from 7.1% to 6.6%. Our plan is working, and it is good news for Canadians.

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, speaking of news, Bloomberg news quoted the following: “Feelings Are Worth Spending For”—finance minister on the eve of budget. The Prime Minister would agree. He was feeling pretty good when he spent $127,000 in tax dollars on his visit to billionaire island. That was a real middle-class adventure, by his definition. Do the Liberals know who is not feeling good, though? It is the tomato farmer in my riding, who had to pay $6,200 in one month for a carbon tax. When will the government realize that its feelings are not worth hammering taxpayers with more costs?

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Ottawa Centre Ontario

Liberal

Catherine McKenna LiberalMinister of Environment and Climate Change

Mr. Speaker, we are committed to taking action that will grow the middle class and create good jobs. Action on climate change is estimated to grow the world economy by $19 trillion through investments in renewable power and energy efficiency. We understand the need to trade good jobs to protect our environment, grow the middle class, and ensure a more sustainable future for our kids.

BudgetOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Conservative

Gérard Deltell Conservative Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister wants to limit his own speaking time. I would suggest he find something interesting to say, first.

Let us remember that, just two years ago, the Prime Minister said that budgets balance themselves. In just a few hours, the government will table its second budget.

After promising an initial deficit of $10 billion and ending up with a deficit of $30 billion and a return to a balanced budget in 2055, how will the Prime Minister go about ensuring that the budget will balance itself tomorrow?

BudgetOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe New Brunswick

Liberal

Ginette Petitpas Taylor LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his question.

I say again that it was our government that committed to investing in the middle class and growing our economy. It was our government that introduced a tax cut for the middle class, while raising taxes for the wealthy.

It must also be said that the official opposition party voted against the motion.

BudgetOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Conservative

Gérard Deltell Conservative Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Mr. Speaker, let us not forget that 65% of Canadians were not affected by these so-called tax breaks, and that those who benefited the most from these so-called tax breaks are people who earn between $140,000 and $200,000.

If that is what this government calls the middle class, I can understand why it is incapable of managing the country's finances properly and balancing the budget, and above all, why it is constantly punishing the middle class.

Will there be any good news for the middle class in tomorrow's budget?

BudgetOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe New Brunswick

Liberal

Ginette Petitpas Taylor LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, budget 2017 will build on our commitment to support the middle class and foster economic prosperity.

It was our government that introduced the Canada child benefit and finally lifted thousands of children out of poverty. It was also our government that increased the guaranteed income supplement by 10% to help low-income seniors. We have a good plan, and we will continue moving forward and supporting Canadians.

Rules of the HouseOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

NDP

Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet NDP Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals want to change the rules of the House under the guise of making Parliament more efficient.

That party, which obtained only 39% of the vote in 2015, now wants to change the rules unilaterally. To hell with sunny ways.

As a show of good faith, why do the Liberals not drop their plan, like they did for Motion No. 6, and create a committee whose membership is representative of the popular vote to look into the matter?

Rules of the HouseOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Waterloo Ontario

Liberal

Bardish Chagger LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister of Small Business and Tourism

Mr. Speaker, during the election campaign, we promised to modernize Parliament and bring it into the 21st century.

Our objective has always been to ensure that Parliament is relevant in the eyes of Canadians and that the House is accountable, predictable, efficient, and transparent.

I know that we can work together. That is why it is a discussion. I encourage all hon. members to take part.

Rules of the HouseOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, it was Stephen Harper who broke the record for shutting down debate in Parliament; yet in his darkest dreams, he never tried to stifle the voices of the opposition the way the Liberals are trying to do right now.

It is the Liberal Prime Minister who wants to automatically limit debate on all government bills, and it is the Liberal Prime Minister who says he only has to show up one day a week to answer questions Canadians have for him.

Newsflash: this House does not belong to the Liberal Party. It belongs to all Canadians, so will the Liberals step away from this disastrous and undemocratic plan, and work with us to make Parliament work again?

Rules of the HouseOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Waterloo Ontario

Liberal

Bardish Chagger LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister of Small Business and Tourism

Mr. Speaker, it was I who released the discussion paper. I shared it with all members in this place as well as the public.

The member is correct that we are here to serve Canadians. Each of us is elected. The discussion paper provides many ideas, and it is a conversation, a discussion. We have asked the committee to do the important work that it does to modernize this place and to bring it into the 21st century.

This government recognizes that members of Parliament do work in this place as well as in their ridings. As the member of Parliament for the riding of Waterloo, I am proud to have some of my constituents here. I will work for them in this place as well as in my riding as, I am sure, all members of Parliament do.

Rules of the HouseOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Conservative

Candice Bergen Conservative Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, how disingenuous can the member be? As we speak, the Liberals are trying to ram this through and force these rules on all of us.

We all saw the Prime Minister try to elbow his way in this House last year, trying to get his way. That was not a pretty sight. Now once again he does not want to be here answering questions, so the Liberals are trying to force these changes on this House.

Does the House leader or the Prime Minister commit that no changes will be made unless all of us agree, or are we to see elbowgate, act two?

Rules of the HouseOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Rules of the HouseOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Order, order. Most members in all parties are able to sit and hear things they do not like to hear. However, the test of course is for adults to be able to do that quietly, on all sides.

The hon. government House leader.

Rules of the HouseOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Waterloo Ontario

Liberal

Bardish Chagger LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister of Small Business and Tourism

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for the opportunity to rise in this place and to remind all members, as well as Canadians, of the important work that members of Parliament do.

Yes, there is a discussion paper. The discussion paper is available to all members as well as the public. The committee is doing the important work it does. The committee has the opportunity to look at ideas, bring in experts, and really consider a better way to do Parliament.

We believe that all members on both sides of this place should have the opportunity to have meaningful discussion, and that is why I think it is an important conversation to have.

Rules of the HouseOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Conservative

Joël Godin Conservative Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, QC

Mr. Speaker, when I was elected in October 2015, my constituents expected that I would work very hard defending their priorities. Since then, I have worked countless hours to do a good job as an MP.

How can a responsible government consider reducing the number of hours of work we do here in Ottawa? Why does the Prime Minister not want to answer members' questions? It seems to me that the Prime Minister is not taking his job seriously.

Can the Prime Minister tell us the truth and explain the real reasons for this new reform?

Rules of the HouseOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Waterloo Ontario

Liberal

Bardish Chagger LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister of Small Business and Tourism

Mr. Speaker, we know that the previous government's approach was very different when it came to discussions and conversations.

We believe that we can have discussions. We believe that these conversations are important conversations to have. I agree with the member that it is not about counting hours. Every single Canadian across this country, from coast to coast to coast, works very hard.

We will continue to work hard for Canadians. We made a commitment to modernize this place and to bring it into the 21st century. That is what that discussion paper is about. I encourage the member not only to read the parts he chooses to, but to read the document in its entirety, because part of the suggestions I have offered are actually about looking at ways to improve this place.

Rules of the HouseOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Strahl Conservative Chilliwack—Hope, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals want to cancel Friday sittings, cut off debate in committees, eliminate debates on committee reports, and severely limit debates in this House.

Now the Prime Minister only wants to show up for question period once a week. Maybe the Liberals can get one of those cardboard cutouts to fill in for him.

The Liberals are diminishing Parliament and reducing accountability. They should not be changing the rules of the House to make this a safe space for the Prime Minister. When will the Prime Minister end his constant attack on the ability of MPs to hold the government accountable?

Rules of the HouseOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Waterloo Ontario

Liberal

Bardish Chagger LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister of Small Business and Tourism

Mr. Speaker, it was this Prime Minister and this government that took unprecedented levels of consultations with Canadians. We will continue to work hard for Canadians. We will continue to work hard for members of Parliament.

I know it is very difficult for the member opposite to understand, but our objective has always been to ensure that Parliament is relevant to Canadians and that the House becomes accountable, predictable, efficient, and transparent. I know we can work better in this place.

Rules of the HouseOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Rules of the HouseOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I remind members that it is not helpful to decorum to suggest that members are unable to understand things.

Rules of the HouseOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Strahl Conservative Chilliwack—Hope, BC

Mr. Speaker, as members of Parliament, we are just temporary occupants of these seats in the House of Commons. They do not belong to us. They belong to Canadians. They do not belong to political parties or the Prime Minister.

The Liberals are proposing drastic changes to Parliament that will permanently damage the ability of MPs to hold the government to account. Why are the Liberals willing to cause collateral damage to the House of Commons in their attempt to damage the opposition, and when will backbench Liberal MPs stand up to the Prime Minister and defend the right of all members of Parliament to hold the government accountable?

Rules of the HouseOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Waterloo Ontario

Liberal

Bardish Chagger LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister of Small Business and Tourism

Mr. Speaker, this is a discussion paper. It is true this place does belong to the people of Canada. That is exactly why I shared the discussion paper with all members of Parliament, as well as the public.

This is a conversation that we want Canadians to participate in. We want Canadians to be part of this place and to help us make the important decisions that we make.

I encourage all members to be part of the conversation. I encourage all members not only to listen to their views but to listen to opposing views and differing views. That is why I am encouraging us to have this conversation.

Indigenous AffairsOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

NDP

Romeo Saganash NDP Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, QC

Mr. Speaker, Canadians are appalled by the government's attitude towards human rights. This week, the Attorney General will argue that the Human Rights Tribunal does not have the power to enforce its own orders.

Instead of questioning the authority of the tribunal, the government needs to say whether or not it intends to respect the human rights of first nations children in this country. That is the real question.

When will the government respect the human rights of first nations children?

Indigenous AffairsOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Toronto—St. Paul's Ontario

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett LiberalMinister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs

Mr. Speaker, we are committed to completely overhauling child and family services for first nations. We believe that we are abiding by the tribunal's decision. We will now pursue our efforts with first nations and the provincial and territorial governments through the established tripartite process in order to work on real reform that focuses primarily on the well-being of children.

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

NDP

Hélène Laverdière NDP Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, Vladimir Yakunin, a member of Putin’s inner circle, is on the U.S. sanctions list, but is still not on Canada’s list.

When she was in opposition, the member for University—Rosedale asked the Conservative government: “When will the government match its actions to its rhetoric and sanction Sechin and Yakunin?”

Now that the member is the Minister of Foreign Affairs, my question for her is this: when will the government walk the talk and sanction Mr. Yakunin?

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

University—Rosedale Ontario

Liberal

Chrystia Freeland LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I would like to remind the member that it was the Conservatives who did not sanction Mr. Yakunin in 2014 and 2015.

Now, Mr. Yakunin is no longer in power, just like the Conservatives. This is an important reality. As for our position vis-à-vis Russia, I think all members in this House would agree with me when I say that our government’s opposition, as well as my own as Minister of Foreign Affairs, remain very strong.

Status of WomenOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Bill Casey Liberal Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Mr. Speaker, the recent session at the UN commission on the status of women was attended by the Minister of Status of Women and several members of the standing committee. Two of my constituents from Truro, Linda MacDonald and Jeanne Sarson, made presentations there on the need for appropriate laws.

These two women are tireless advocates for human rights and women's rights in particular. Could the Minister of Status of Women outline what progress was made at these UN meetings?

Status of WomenOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Peterborough—Kawartha Ontario

Liberal

Maryam Monsef LiberalMinister of Status of Women

Mr. Speaker, it was truly an honour to lead the Canadian delegation of over 200 Canadians at this year's UN commission on the status of women. People like Linda and Jeanne are truly at the heart of the movement to advance women's and girls' rights domestically and around the world.

Canada has made significant progress since I was last there in 2013, and we will remain at the forefront of global efforts to ensure that women and girls everywhere can reach their full potential.

Public SafetyOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Conservative

Tony Clement Conservative Parry Sound—Muskoka, ON

Mr. Speaker, the reeve of Emerson, Manitoba, says another 29 asylum seekers illegally crossed into his community on Sunday night alone. We also know that refugees are illegally crossing into Quebec with American visas issued at the U.S. embassy in Saudi Arabia.

Canadians are tired of the Liberals' inaction and denial. Where is the plan? When will the Liberals finally take action and regain control of our borders?

Public SafetyOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Regina—Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Mr. Speaker, the hon. gentleman and Canadians can be absolutely assured that every Canadian law is being properly enforced and applied by both the RCMP and the CBSA. We are monitoring the situation very carefully.

It is true that the numbers over the last number of weeks and months have risen compared to where they were before, but the RCMP and the CBSA have assured us that they have the resources at the present time to deal with the situation adequately and appropriately. If they require additional resources, they will certainly let the government know.

Public SafetyOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Conservative

Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, one could argue that the time for monitoring has passed and the time for action is now, because we know that illegal border crossings are increasing with no end in sight.

What is of more concern right now is we are going to see this trend increase as warmer weather increases. Affected communities are very concerned. Families are concerned. Border enforcement issues are concerned. What is more concerning is that we are seeing and hearing concerns about international gangs and criminals taking advantage of the Liberals' inaction to begin organized shuttling of illegal migrants to the Canadian border. What is the minister doing to stop this particular issue?

Public SafetyOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Regina—Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Mr. Speaker, there is no tangible evidence of the issue that the hon. member has raised. However, this was a subject that was discussed between myself and the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security. We are concerned about the pattern of people arriving at the border, particularly those who, in the last number of weeks and months, have actually risked their lives in very severe weather conditions in transportation.

This is an issue that is under very close scrutiny by both our government and the Government of the United States.

National DefenceOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Conservative

James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman, MB

Mr. Speaker, Canadians get really tired of waiting for the Liberal government to do something about securing our borders. They are also really tired of seeing the Liberal government tax our troops who are in the fight against ISIS.

This has to stop right now. These men and women in uniform were promised up to $1,800 per month in danger pay, yet halfway through their mission, the Liberals pulled away these benefits. Trying to pinch pennies on the backs of our troops and military families is wrong and it is immoral.

Will the defence minister support our Conservative motion to give back the danger pay, and will he give these benefits to all our troops who are putting their lives on the line in the fight against ISIS now—

National DefenceOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

The hon. Minister of National Defence.

National DefenceOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Vancouver South B.C.

Liberal

Harjit S. Sajjan LiberalMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, it is great to see the passion from the member opposite. I just wish he had the same passion when he sent the troops to Iraq without the tax-free benefits.

In February 2016, working with the finance minister, we put in the tax-free exemption. I ask for the members to take politics out of defence, but it would be great if the member opposite told me about the rules that they placed in 2014 that brought the benefits down.

It is okay. I gave directions to the chief of the defence staff to take a look at this, and we will fix this problem.

National DefenceOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Paul-Hus Conservative Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Mr. Speaker, the minister knows that is false. It has already been shown that the danger pay was brought in by us.

We know that the Liberals are big spenders. Their generosity consists of cutting off funds to our soldiers sent to Iraq to fight ISIS. The Liberals cut off the $1,800 per month to military spouses, who have to get by until the end of the mission. It is shameful. However, there is a but: but the Liberals seem open to fixing their mistake.

Will they support our motion, fix their mistake, and retroactively restore the danger pay to all soldiers sent to fight ISIS?

National DefenceOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Vancouver South B.C.

Liberal

Harjit S. Sajjan LiberalMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, as I stated, the previous government was the one that actually sent our troops to Iraq without the tax-free benefit. In February 2016 we corrected this problem, but rules that were placed in 2015 by the previous government brought the benefits back down. Now they realize what those rules have replaced. We are looking at it, and the CDS will be making recommendations so that we can fix this problem once and for all.

TaxationOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

NDP

Gord Johns NDP Courtenay—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, at committee the Minister of Small Business said that the Liberals' promise to reduce taxes on small business was “a great sound bite” and “a great headline”, but at the end of the day, they were not really going to do it. My goodness, the old Liberal arrogance is alive and kicking. First they steal an NDP policy, then they abandon that promise in their very first budget, and now the minister is bragging about it.

Will the Liberals do the right thing tomorrow and reinstate the tax break for small businesses, yes or no?

TaxationOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Waterloo Ontario

Liberal

Bardish Chagger LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister of Small Business and Tourism

Mr. Speaker, Canadians elected our government on a plan to grow the economy and strengthen the middle class, and we are delivering on that commitment. Over the last six months, almost 220,000 jobs were created, the majority of which were full-time and the majority of which were created by small and medium-sized enterprises. This is the strongest six months of job growth in almost a decade. This is evidence that our plan is working.

We will continue to make the necessary investments in budget 2017 to continue to strengthen the middle class and to grow the economy.

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, many were shocked by the announced cuts to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, including severe cuts to bilateral commitments on the Great Lakes. Canadians will be further concerned to learn how the Liberal government also intends to make cuts to water protection. The minister likes to talk about her deep commitment to the Great Lakes, yet not only is her government continuing the substantial cuts put forward by the Harper regime but they are going even further.

Will the Liberals restore funding to these vital initiatives or will they continue to be all talk and little action for our treasured waters?

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Ottawa Centre Ontario

Liberal

Catherine McKenna LiberalMinister of Environment and Climate Change

Mr. Speaker, I was in Washington last week on Great Lakes Day where I made it perfectly clear to Americans, to my counterpart, that we need continued American investment in the Great Lakes, that we need to be working together because 40 million people rely on the Great Lakes for clean drinking water. It is an engine of the economy. We cannot have things like Asian carp come and destroy our Great Lakes and we are going to continue pushing with the United States to work to clean up our Great Lakes.

EthicsOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Conservative

Blaine Calkins Conservative Red Deer—Lacombe, AB

Mr. Speaker, more details have now emerged about the Prime Minister's New Year's vacation. Taxpayers now know they are on the hook for over $120,000, and that is not even counting whatever the numerous ethics investigations are going to cost. The Prime Minister made a conscious decision that it is the responsibility of the taxpayer to pay for his luxury travel. When did the Prime Minister forget that it is his job to serve Canadians and not the other way around?

EthicsOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Waterloo Ontario

Liberal

Bardish Chagger LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister of Small Business and Tourism

Mr. Speaker, as has been the case for previous prime ministers, including the previous one, for security reasons RCMP officers always accompany prime ministers, whether for personal or business travel. One of the first things we did after taking office was to ask the clerk of the Privy Council Office to develop guidelines surrounding the reimbursement for travel by sitting prime ministers, their families, and guests. Prior to our government taking office, no such policy existed.

EthicsOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Conservative

Blaine Calkins Conservative Red Deer—Lacombe, AB

Mr. Speaker, lots of Canadian families travel by plane on a special getaway once a year. On these flights, one could buy a sandwich or maybe a diet Coke and a bag of chips for a snack. It is not great, but it is certainly reasonable. What is not reasonable is over $1,700 worth of food and drinks for a three-hour flight between Canada and the Bahamas, which is how much the taxpayer was billed by the Prime Minister getting to his private island vacation.

My question is simple. Just what in the world was the Prime Minister eating on that plane ride?

EthicsOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Waterloo Ontario

Liberal

Bardish Chagger LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister of Small Business and Tourism

Mr. Speaker, the work that we do in this place and for Canadians we take very seriously. As I have mentioned, and as has been the case for previous prime ministers, for security reasons, RCMP officers have always accompanied prime ministers, whether on personal or business travel. One of the first things we did when we took office was to ask the Clerk of the Privy Council to develop guidelines surrounding the reimbursement of travel by sitting prime ministers, their families, and guests. Prior to our government taking office, no such guidelines existed.

Canadian HeritageOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Conservative

Jacques Gourde Conservative Lévis—Lotbinière, QC

Mr. Speaker, according to media reports, the majority of projects in Quebec funded through the Canada 150 fund, 87% to be exact, just happen to be in Liberal ridings despite the fact that only half of Quebec ridings are represented by a Liberal member.

Can the Minister of Canadian Heritage confirm to the House that 87% of allocated funds have been earmarked for the ridings of her Liberal friends? If so, does she find that acceptable?

Canadian HeritageOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Ahuntsic-Cartierville Québec

Liberal

Mélanie Joly LiberalMinister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, the Canada 150 vision is rooted in our communities and designed for families right across the country. We are proud to have invested more than $130 million in projects of national significance, which will have an opportunity to stop in a number of communities in all the regions. In addition, they will have a significant impact on every riding in the country.

Of course our goal is to achieve equitable regional distribution; 2017 will be a big year. Of course we encourage all Canadians to celebrate regardless of their political stripes.

Small BusinessOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Liberal

Nick Whalen Liberal St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, high-growth companies and small to medium-sized enterprises are key drivers of Canada's economic growth. In January, our government launched accelerated growth services, a pilot program in Atlantic Canada to help coordinate access by high-growth companies to the innovation, trade, finance, and other support services that are available across various government departments.

Can the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development please update this House on how accelerated growth services are already updating—

Small BusinessOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

The hon. Minister of Innovation.

Small BusinessOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Mississauga—Malton Ontario

Liberal

Navdeep Bains LiberalMinister of Innovation

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for St. John's East for his question, his hard work, and his leadership. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all 32 MPs from Atlantic Canada for their leadership and hard work, and for really driving the Atlantic growth strategy.

As part of this strategy, we have expanded the accelerated growth strategy. This is a one-stop shop that will help small businesses grow and expand in that region. We have identified 28 companies as part of this pilot initiative. This is very important for Atlantic Canada. This is very important for growth and jobs.

Indigenous AffairsOral Questions

3 p.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Mr. Speaker, Canadians were very hopeful that the inquiry into murdered and missing aboriginal women and girls would lead to a brighter future, but families are losing patience. It has now been eight months, and we now hear that the commissioners only have 90 names in their database, yet hundreds and hundreds of families are waiting to hear from them.

The minister needs to take action. There are some very simple fixes to this issue. She needs to break down bureaucratic barriers and ensure that the inquiry gets the necessary information to do its job.

Indigenous AffairsOral Questions

3 p.m.

Toronto—St. Paul's Ontario

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett LiberalMinister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs

Mr. Speaker, on this ongoing national tragedy, we are confident that the commission has the tools, resources, and networks to provide the families with the support they need. I can confirm that government officials are scheduled to meet with the commission to discuss how best to utilize the information resources already provided.

We remain steadfast to our commitment and will continue to work collaboratively with all parties to ensure the commission is ready to hear from families this spring.

Official LanguagesOral Questions

3 p.m.

NDP

François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, La Presse reported that, since 2010, the percentage of bilingual employees at security checkpoints in almost all major airports in the country has dropped dramatically.

This information is consistent with a report submitted just today by the Commissioner of Official Languages that reveals the provision of bilingual services in our airports leaves much to be desired.

What does the Minister of Canadian Heritage intend to do to promote bilingualism and to ensure that our official languages truly enjoy equal status in airports across the country?

Official LanguagesOral Questions

3 p.m.

Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Westmount Québec

Liberal

Marc Garneau LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, bilingualism and the Official Languages Act are extremely important for our government.

Federal services must then be provided in both official languages. We take that very seriously. We are of course responsible for safety in our airports, but we insist that it be done with respect and courtesy, and in accordance with the Official Languages Act.

Mining IndustryOral Questions

3 p.m.

Liberal

Marc Serré Liberal Nickel Belt, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada understands how important mining exploration companies are to supporting middle-class families and indigenous communities and to building a clean, green economy.

Can the Minister of Natural Resources tell the House about what the federal government is doing to ensure that Canada remains a top destination for exploration and mining?

Mining IndustryOral Questions

3 p.m.

Winnipeg South Centre Manitoba

Liberal

Jim Carr LiberalMinister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Nickel Belt for his excellent question.

I recently announced that our government will extend the 15% mining exploration tax credit for an additional year. The credit helps exploration companies finance their projects and contributes to creating good jobs in remote and indigenous communities.

Veterans AffairsOral Questions

3 p.m.

Conservative

John Brassard Conservative Barrie—Innisfil, ON

Mr. Speaker, many veterans struggle in finding meaningful employment after leaving the service. On transitioning to civilian life, the Liberals promised to engage with stakeholders like Monster.ca to use military skills translators to help our vets find work, including jobs in the public service.

The U.S. uses this same algorithm to help its soldiers find jobs, but we have heard nothing from the Liberals on this campaign promise.

Could the minister explain, with a real answer for veterans, why the Liberals are dragging their feet on this campaign promise?

Veterans AffairsOral Questions

3 p.m.

Calgary Centre Alberta

Liberal

Kent Hehr LiberalMinister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his commitment to veterans across Canada. We are committed to finding veterans more work in both the public sector as well as the private sector.

Since the passing of the Veterans Hiring Act in 2014, we have brought on board a mandate, through me, to the rest of my cabinet colleagues, as well as the deputy ministers, to look at more ways to hire more veterans. We are also investigating opportunities with the private sector to build those bridges and get those opportunities for our veterans and their families to better their lives. We will continue to do that in our department.

The EnvironmentOral Questions

3 p.m.

Bloc

Monique Pauzé Bloc Repentigny, QC

Mr. Speaker, President Trump wants to axe spending on cleaning up the Great Lakes. The Great Lakes flow into the St. Lawrence, the source of drinking water for millions of Quebeckers.

Mayors of communities around the Great Lakes and along the St. Lawrence and environmental groups have reminded us that protecting water should be considered an essential service, but time is running out.

Will Ottawa turn its back on Quebec and sacrifice our water, or can the minister assure us that American cuts will not threaten the waters of the St. Lawrence?

The EnvironmentOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Ottawa Centre Ontario

Liberal

Catherine McKenna LiberalMinister of Environment and Climate Change

Mr. Speaker, while in Washington last week, I met with representatives of both U.S. parties, mayors, and environmentalists. I made it very clear that Canada recognizes our obligation to protect the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence.

That is what I told my American counterpart. I was very clear about how vital it is to work with the United States to ensure that the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence remain environmental priorities.

Softwood LumberOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Bloc

Marilène Gill Bloc Manicouagan, QC

Mr. Speaker, we have met with people in forestry, and it is clear that the softwood lumber dispute will resume in a few weeks.

The last time, the federal government was to blame for the loss of 15,000 jobs in Quebec in one year. That means a lot of people and families, and many villages and regions are emptying out.

Among other things, our workers need loan guarantees to deal with the next dispute.

Will Ottawa let our people down once again?

Softwood LumberOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Winnipeg South Centre Manitoba

Liberal

Jim Carr LiberalMinister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, we recognize the importance of forestry in Canada. We have started a very good conversation with the provinces that may be affected by new measures. We will most assuredly take coordinated measures to protect jobs in this country. Canadians can count on us.

Softwood LumberOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Bloc

Mario Beaulieu Bloc La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent for the following motion. That this House, while recognizing the importance of debating matters of public interest, voice genuine outrage over the disparaging prejudices and stereotypes used in a column in Maclean's magazine published on March 20 to cast aspersions on the Quebec nation and that it condemn the rise of “Quebecophobia” in Canada.

Softwood LumberOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Does the hon. member have the unanimous consent of the House to move the motion?

Softwood LumberOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Oral QuestionsPoints of OrderOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman, MB

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. During question period, I believe the Minister of National Defence misspoke, and I would like to give him an opportunity to correct the record, when he said that we sent troops to Iraq without any support. I can tell members there was danger pay. He has an Order Paper question that he has tabled in the House under his signature, and I would like to point out for him that if he would look at Question No.—

Oral QuestionsPoints of OrderOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

This is a matter of debate. I do not think it is appropriate. This can be carried on in debate at another time, but it is debate, not a point of order. I am sorry.

Provisions in Draft Supplementary Supply BillPoints of OrderOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker. with regard to the point of order raised earlier today, I listened with interest to the member's intervention and his allegation that the government was seeking to legislate Bill C-24 through the supply bill for the supplementary estimates (C). Nothing could be further from the truth. Let me explain.

Remuneration amounts for a payment are established in the Salaries Act—

Provisions in Draft Supplementary Supply BillPoints of OrderOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Provisions in Draft Supplementary Supply BillPoints of OrderOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Order, please. Members are concerned. Apparently they are not aware there was a major point of order raised earlier and this member indicated he would come back to the House to respond to that point of order, which he is is now doing, on a substantive point. I would ask members to either listen carefully or involve themselves in whatever other activities they may have to be involved in.

The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons has the floor.

Provisions in Draft Supplementary Supply BillPoints of OrderOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Remuneration amounts for payment are established in the Salaries Act for ministers with a portfolio, ministers of state who preside over a ministry of state, and the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons. This statute does not authorize remuneration for either ministers without a portfolio listed in the Salaries Act or ministers of state who do not preside over a ministry of state. Therefore, the vote lC wording contained in the supply bill for certain organizations provides the authority to make such payments.

Using a supply bill to authorize such payments is a long-standing arrangement going back at least to 1995. At that time, the authority appeared only in the program expenditures vote on the Privy Council Office. Since 2007-08, the authority appears in the program or operating expenditure vote of each department that could potentially support a minister without a portfolio or a minister of state who does not preside over a ministry of state.

With respect to Bill C-24, with the exception of the Minister of La Francophonie, the individuals appointed on November 4, 2015, to positions of Minister of Science, Minister of Small Business and Tourism, Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, and Minister of Status of Women are remunerated under vote 1C.

When Bill C-24 receives royal assent, it will authorize payment under the Salaries Act and vote 1C will no longer be used for this purpose in future estimates.

The payment under vote 1C not only respects the supplementary estimates process, it is also fully within the legal mandate and authority of the government.

Provisions in Draft Supplementary Supply BillPoints of OrderOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I thank the hon. parliamentary secretary to the government House leader. I will be coming back to the House with a decision on this point of order.

The House resumed consideration of the motion.

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

David Anderson Conservative Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Mr. Speaker, I am excited to to speak to this today—

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Order, please. I have not recognized anyone yet. As I understand it, the next speaker is the parliamentary secretary to government House leader.

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Conservative Moose Jaw—Lake Centre—Lanigan, SK

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Being only a few feet away from my colleague, I distinctly heard him start speaking first before you recognized any member on the government side. Therefore, since my colleague, the member for Cypress Hills—Grasslands, did speak first, I move:

That the member for Cypress Hills—Grasslands be now heard.

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

All those opposed will please say nay.

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Call in the members.

(The House divided on the motion, which was negatived on the following division:)

Vote #222

Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I declare the motion lost.

Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Davenport.

It is a happy day today. Tomorrow we are going to be witnessing part two for Canada's middle class and how the middle class of Canada is going to be further advanced.

Let us talk about part one. When we think about part one, what comes to my mind is the middle-class tax break that was given to Canada's middle class. That was really important, I believe, and very well received by—

Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Order. I would ask members to take their conversations out into the lobby. In fact, I am giving them a moment or two as I say this to do so. Perhaps they could quiet down a bit.

The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons has the floor.

Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, when I think of the first budget, there are a number of elements in that budget that should be repeated and reinforced. Number one for me, as I have indicated, was the tax break for Canada's middle class. Another really important aspect was the additional special tax created on Canada's wealthiest 1%. It is a redistribution of wealth to ensure that there is a higher degree of equality.

Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Conservative Langley—Aldergrove, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I am trying to listen to the member and I am hearing a lot of chatter from the other side. Perhaps the member could ask his colleagues to calm down so we can all listen.

Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

I do notice, as is sometimes the case after votes and other things when many members are assembled, that there is a lot of noise in the chamber. I now see that members are making their way to their respective lobbies, so I will invite the hon. parliamentary secretary to continue.

The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons.

Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, one of my colleagues across the way suggested that I start over. I would love to start over. I would only ask that they reset that clock, the 10-minute clock.

I want to emphasize, as I did when I started my speech just a minute ago, the importance of the first budget, because tomorrow we will be witnessing part two of the first budget, and I am anticipating that Canadians as a whole will welcome that budget, much as they have expressed so much appreciation for the first budget. This is the reason why I believe that first budget was one that really benefited Canada's middle class and those aspiring to be a part of it.

I have made reference to the tax break for Canada's middle class. I have made reference to the special tax that was created for Canada's wealthiest one per cent, which is a redistribution of wealth, which I believe is really important to the constituents in the riding I represent.

There was so much more in that budget. The Canada child benefit program and the increase that this government has provided that program will literally lift tens of thousands of children out of poverty. Many of those children are residents and call Winnipeg North their home.

It does not stop there. Think of Canada's most vulnerable seniors. If seniors are receiving a guaranteed income supplement, that means that their annual income is significantly low and they face many hardships. One of the biggest increases was given to the guaranteed income supplement, much like the Canada child benefit. As a direct result, tens of thousands of seniors will be lifted out of poverty. Again, we are talking about many residents whom I represent.

There is so much more to be optimistic about. We now have a government that genuinely understands that, in order to build a great, strong country, we need to invest in infrastructure. We have a government that has made a historical commitment in terms of the billions of dollars we are putting into Canada's infrastructure. It does not matter what region of our great nation. There is a commitment to work with municipalities, provinces, and other stakeholders to make sure we realize, in a very tangible way, infrastructure projects that will create jobs, that will build Canada's infrastructure, which will assist us into the future. That is good news.

We hear about what else is happening even beyond the budget. The opposition members talk about the creation of taxes, and they are somewhat misleading. They should be looking at what the government was able to accomplish, things at which the previous Harper government failed miserably. Let me give two or three examples of that. The first example is the price on pollution that was created. The vast majority are very supportive of that. People are concerned about our environment.

The Prime Minister went to Paris, along with other stakeholders, including provincial representatives. When they came back from Paris, a discussion and dialogue took place. Imagine the premiers working with the Prime Minister, and the different governments came up with an agreement where there will in fact be a price on pollution.

I think Canadians were so pleased when they saw the type of support there. Governments of all political stripes got behind it. Even some of the former Conservative leaders are behind the price on pollution. Only the Conservative Party, the party that has genuinely lost touch with what Canadians want, is in opposition to having a price on pollution.

The Conservatives try to say that Ottawa is getting all this money as a result of it. That is just not true, and they know it is not true.

All of the revenue that will be generated by a price on pollution is going to provincial governments, and it is up to those governments to determine what they will do with that revenue.

This is about a vision for Canada. For the first time in many years, we have a Prime Minister who has a long-term vision for this country, a country that is going to deliver in tangible ways to Canada's middle class and the many others aspiring to be a part of it, and in fact to all Canadians.

The price on pollution file is not the only file. There are others.

For the first time all premiers have come to the table, have come to an agreement with respect to the CPP. The CPP is about ensuring that our workers of today have the finances for tomorrow when they retire.

The Conservative Party across the way has lost touch with what Canadians really think. Those members do not support the CPP. However, once again, provinces of all political stripes have come together, worked with this government, and ultimately came up with a historical agreement that will ensure we are providing that much more to individuals who are working today for their retirement in the future.

The good news does not stop there either. There is, for example, the issue of health care, an issue with which Canadians most often identify. I had this discussion with my daughter just the other night. We talked about the importance of health care to the constituents we both represent in the north end of Winnipeg. I can assure the House that, whether provincially or federally, both of us have a role to play. The Minister of Health has done a phenomenal job of reaching out to the provinces. We now have an agreement with all provinces, with the exception of one, and I will not say which one, but I am hopeful that province will join the agreement.

Why do I raise these three issues in particular? It is primarily because I want Canadians to know that not only does our government take a proactive approach to building our country and providing support for Canada's middle class, but it is prepared to work with other levels of government to get the job done. This government has demonstrated that time and time again.

Tomorrow will be a good day for Canadians. The Minister of Finance will deliver on the decisions that have been made through our caucus, through cabinet, and through the Prime Minister's Office. Canadians will see a reflection of what they really want to see. I say that because our Prime Minister has consistently told not only Liberal members of Parliament but all members of Parliament that he wants them to represent here in Ottawa the interests of their ridings. He does not want them to represent the interests of Ottawa in their constituencies. I take that challenge from the Prime Minister seriously. It is one of the reasons why I always take the opportunity to share my thoughts with ministers and other members of this privileged chamber. The budget we are going to see tomorrow will be a continuation of what was in the 2016 budget. That is why today is also a good day.

I thank the House for allowing me a few minutes to share the many wonderful things that we can be happy about in Canada. It could have easily been an hour-long speech, because there are so many wonderful things to be happy about in Canada.

Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

4 p.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened intently to my colleague's speech, and he spoke a number of times about putting a price on pollution. One of the first actions the environment minister took upon her election in 2015 was to allow the City of Montreal to dump eight billion litres of raw sewage into the St. Lawrence River. I wonder if my colleague could tell me what the price of pollution was on that. A year later the minister authorized Quebec City to dump another 86 million litres of raw sewage into the St. Lawrence River. Could the member tell me what the price was on those acts of pollution that severely polluted our waters?

Here is my second question. We were promised a maximum $10 billion deficit, and it has now gone up to $30 billion. The really disturbing part is that the interest costs alone on this deficit are increasing by $15 billion per year, and that is added to the budget. I wonder if we can count on another $15 billion being added because of tomorrow's budget.

Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, first, in regard to the price on pollution, the most important thing for Ottawa to demonstrate is its ability to work with the many different stakeholders and to demonstrate very strong leadership.

The leadership we have seen on the environmental file has come not only from the minister responsible for the environment but, I would suggest, right from the Prime Minister of Canada. We have made a genuine commitment to work with others, demonstrating strong national leadership, something that was missing in the previous 10 years.

In regard to the deficit, I would put it up as a cautionary note that members across the way need to realize that Stephen Harper had a higher deficit than any other prime minister. It was well over $150 billion. Stephen Harper took a budget surplus and converted it into a budget deficit, even before the recession kicked in.

The reason I point it out the way I have is that the Liberal Party would be best advised not to take advice from the Conservatives on deficits.

Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

NDP

Gord Johns NDP Courtenay—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, the member talked about how we should get ready for part two of the middle-class budget.

I am hoping that this time the Liberals will actually include the middle class, the 17.9 million Canadians who got nothing from their middle-class tax break, those who earn $23 an hour and work full time and who got left out last year in the so-called middle-class tax break.

The member also said other parties are out of touch with Canadians. This is a party that could not be more out of touch with working-class people. In the last budget, the Liberals forgot about working-class people. People in my riding have high unemployment. In the Alberni Valley, mills are closing. In Qualicum and Parksville, seniors cannot afford medicine. In Courtenay, people cannot get a livable wage and cannot find a well-paying job.

They talk about a 1% tax break for the rich. What about closing CEO tax option loopholes? What about ending tax havens and tax deals for the super-rich? Talk about getting out of touch. Hopefully tomorrow we will have a real budget for middle-class Canadians, and it will include the 17.9 million Canadians who are working and who were totally left behind last year. It is their turn. I hope the government actually follows through with the promise of real change, including the middle class, and helping those who are not in it to join the middle class.

Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, the member across the way is factually wrong. That is as simply as I can put it.

The member needs to realize that the New Democratic Party voted against—and this is a fairly long list—a special tax on Canada's rich, a middle-class tax break, a substantial increase to the Canada child benefit that would have delivered tens of thousands of children out of poverty, and increasing the income of Canada's poorest seniors, once again which would have delivered tens of thousands of seniors out of poverty.

The NDP has done something I would never have thought it would do. Here, last year, we had one of the most progressive budgets in our country's history, and the NDP actually voted against it. I suspect it has something to do with the mentality that the NDP had during the last general election when it said it would balance a budget at absolutely all costs.

We know that if the New Democrats had to revisit that decision, they would probably back away, but they do not have the courage to admit that they would back away from it.

Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

Liberal

Julie Dzerowicz Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is such a pleasure to rise in the House this afternoon to speak on the opposition day motion on budget 2017, a budget that is to be announced tomorrow by our hon. Minister of Finance, Bill Morneau, at 4:00 p.m. Oops, sorry.

One part of the opposition motion being debated—

Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Order.

Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Mr. Speaker, I think we have been here over a year and a half now, so certainly the protocol around mentioning member's names should be adhered to.

Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

I thank the hon. member. I note that the hon. member for Davenport did catch her error on that. I think it is useful to remind all hon. members that we try to avoid, in fact should avoid, the use of proper names or any references to other hon. members in the House.

Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Julie Dzerowicz Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, I apologize.

It is such a pleasure to rise in the House this afternoon to speak to the opposition day motion on budget 2017, a budget which is to be announced tomorrow at 4 p.m., by our Minister of Finance.

One part of the opposition motion being debated in this venerable House today focuses on youth. It asks that the 2017 budget provide immediate measures to encourage companies to hire young Canadians and address the youth unemployment crisis. I want to thank my fellow member for her concern for Canada's young people. I want her to know that this is also an issue of great importance for the residents of my riding of Davenport, and especially for the Davenport youth council, which has identified youth unemployment as a key issue for them.

In the time I have today, I will be relaying how youth has been a key focus for our government, outlining key initiatives introduced over the last year and indicating that there is no doubt that youth will continue to be a key focus for our government moving forward.

One of the things our government understands clearly is that Canada's prosperity will increasingly depend on young Canadians getting the education and experience they need to prepare for the jobs of today and tomorrow. One of my very favourite quotes from our Prime Minister is that if we do not give everyone a chance to succeed, we do not live up to the potential of Canada. Now more than ever all governments at every level need to do all they can to help our youth, to set them up, to get them started, to support them. We need to do all we can to give them the best start on the road to achieving their potential.

Young Canadians need to have access to meaningful work from the beginning of their careers. A large part of our success as a country rests on our youth, but unfortunately, they still face barriers to employment. As such, I am pleased to let members know that we have been taking concrete measures to help young Canadians enter the workforce and contribute to our country's economy.

One of the initiatives we launched was the expert panel on youth employment in October 2016. We launched it as a way to improve job opportunities for all youth. The panel's findings are key in identifying future investments, including ways to enhance the youth employment strategy, also known as YES.

In budget 2016, funding for the youth employment strategy was increased by almost $300 million. That funding is being used in four very specific ways. One is to create new green jobs for youth. These are occupations that are involved in preserving or restoring the environment and jobs in renewable energy, or energy efficiency. The second way the funding is being used is in increasing the number of youth who have access to the skills link program. This is a very important program that is available particularly for youth that are disadvantaged in a number of ways. The third way the funding is being used is to increase opportunities for young Canadians who want to work in the arts sector, a sector that is very popular, rich, and diverse in my riding of Davenport. Last, the funding is being used to increase the number of summer jobs offered through the Canada summer jobs program.

I am very proud that both last summer and this summer our government has more than doubled the number of jobs available through the Canada summer jobs program. It is important to highlight that because that increases the mentorship for our youth. It increases their job experience. It helps them to more quickly get started in their future careers.

There are also many youth initiatives that fall under the umbrella of skills and employment that support all Canadians. After extensive consultation with experts, employers, and labour and service providers, we have finalized amended agreements with each of the provincial and territorial governments to provide an additional $175 million in labour market training for youth, for a total of close to $3 billion. Included in this amount is $125 million in funding for labour market agreements and $50 million in funding for the Canada job fund.

Turning our attention to the trades, one of the most promising career paths for young Canadians today is in the skilled trades. Tradespeople play an important role in our economy and our society. We all depend on the work of skilled trades, and we want to encourage more youth to take advantage of good, well-paying jobs in skilled trades. Therefore, the federal government is providing support to Skills Canada to actively promote careers in skilled trades and technologies to Canadian youth by working with local organizations, educators, and governments right across Canada.

We are making significant investments in apprenticeship through the Red Seal program, and we are offering numerous federal supports, including grants, loans, tax credits, and EI benefits during in-school training. In addition, our government is providing more than $800 million through grants to individuals for the progression and completion of their apprenticeship training. Our government is working with provinces and territories to make apprenticeship training more consistent across the country. This will help support apprentice mobility, help apprentices complete their training, and give employers access to a larger pool of workers.

Our government and, indeed, the nation recognize that unions play an important role in training their members for careers in the trades. As such, to support their efforts, budget 2016 provided $85.4 million over five years starting in 2016-17 to develop a new framework to support union-based apprenticeship programs. In Davenport, there are a lot of union workers. Most of them are in the building trades. There are a lot of youth who are very interested in a career in trades because they provide good-paying jobs, which will help them to support their families and communities in the future.

The federal government is also addressing the importance of demand-driven education and training through the student work integrated learning program. I am specifically talking about training and funding for training because I think they are equally important in terms of setting up our youth for the future, their future careers, and achieving their future potential.

Budget 2016 announced an investment of $73 million over four years to support partnerships between employers and willing post-secondary educational institutions. The program will help ensure students develop the foundational, entrepreneurial, and business skills required to secure meaningful employment in high-demand occupations in the fields of science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and business. We need to continue to work with colleges and universities to prepare the next generation of Canadian youth for the highly skilled jobs that are out there. We need to ensure that Canadian employers can bring about and benefit from co-op and work-integrated learning opportunities.

There are so many companies and businesses in Davenport that are very excited about this. More and more of our companies are working with post-secondary education to make sure that the right training and education is provided to our youth, and that it sets them up to more quickly enter the workforce and start to develop their careers. I think we are going to see more of this in the future.

Indigenous youth is another key focus for the Davenport youth council in my community. Everyone in this House is aware of this government's commitment to restoring fairness and opportunity to indigenous people, including indigenous youth. One way to help indigenous youth receive training and find jobs is through the aboriginal skills and employment training strategy, also known as ASETS. It is through this program that we have been working with indigenous organizations to further strengthen their capacity to provide job training and wraparound supports. Our government has engaged with indigenous stakeholders to see how we can improve and strengthen the indigenous labour market programming for a future longer-term strategy.

Our government has provided quite a bit of support for Canada student loans and grants because we know how expensive that education and training actually are. We are doing everything we can to make sure that low-income and middle-class youth are not going to suffer, that they have access to the grants they are looking for and the education they seek so that they can set themselves up in terms of education and skills training for the jobs of today and tomorrow.

We have accomplished a lot, but we know there is a lot more to do. We know that the job market is evolving and changing, and that is true particularly for young Canadians. That is why we are making such historic investments in skills training and education.

I look forward to the budget announcement tomorrow. I am sure we will continue to support our youth in the future.

Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have listened to the debate throughout the day, and I have not heard the government address in any terms what is a significant issue. The significant issue is the fact that the Liberals took what was a surplus, promised a $10-billion deficit, and turned it into a $30-billion deficit, with no end in sight. I do not know if my colleague has young children, but it is her children and her grandchildren who will be forced to pay for the Liberals' inability to spend within their means.

Certainly, the economy is stronger than it was last year when there was a surplus budget. Does the member agree that the minister must include a path back to balance in the budget that would fulfill the government's commitment to getting back to balance in 2019?

Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:20 p.m.

Liberal

Julie Dzerowicz Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, when I was canvassing in the last election, I spoke to many families and many youth. They told me that education is expensive and that life is expensive. They were very much attracted to the Liberal team, which is now the government, because of its desire to invest in the middle class, to invest in youth, and to invest in our future. That is why we have introduced the Canada child benefit. It is why we have provided a tax break for the middle class. It is why we have provided all of the programs and investments that I spent 10 minutes highlighting today.

I want the residents of Davenport and all Canadians to know that we are spending Canadian money in a responsible way. I think we will be hearing more about that spending tomorrow when our Minister of Finance makes the announcement with respect to budget 2017.

Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:20 p.m.

NDP

Gord Johns NDP Courtenay—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, we know that in Canada the real job creators are small business people. They are the people who drive our economy. They sit on our volunteer boards and our local governments. They are struggling to make ends meet. When we talk to small business people in our communities, they are having a hard time paying their rent and paying their employees' wages.

What we have seen over the last 25 years is a significant tax reduction for Canada's largest corporations. We have seen a reduction from 28% to 15%. Under the Conservative government we saw it go from 22% to 15%. We did not see the job creation that was promised. Instead, what we saw was Canada's largest corporations having record profits, hoarding tons of money, CEOs earning more money than ever before, and corporations shipping money to tax havens out of the country to avoid paying taxes here in Canada.

Canadians expect more. They want to see us invest in our local communities and our small business people. Why are we choosing Canada's largest corporations and CEOs over small business people, the people who are building our communities? What is the Liberal government waiting for when it comes to making big companies assume their fair share of the tax burden? Will the Liberals provide relief to small business people and make them a priority? Canadians expect us to take care of the people who are building and serving our communities, and they are our small business people.

Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:20 p.m.

Liberal

Julie Dzerowicz Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is such a pleasure to answer that question. I do not agree with the member's premise that we are trying to favour large corporations over small businesses. What we are trying to do is create a strong economy in Canada so that it is beneficial for all businesses. We are also trying to create a strong middle class, and those who are trying to join it, because the stronger they are, the stronger our overall economy will be. That is the reason we introduced our middle-class tax cut, which we have talked about quite a bit in the House.

I also want to let the member know that the small businesses in my riding really love the summer jobs program. It allows them to hire local students. It helps them support their own businesses, as well as support jobs. They are very excited about that.

There is another thing that our small businesses are excited about. I represent the largest Portuguese community in the country. They are really excited about CETA. Many of the small businesses in my riding are doing business in Europe, and they like agreements like CETA that will provide benefits not only to small businesses in Canada but also abroad.

Finally, I have mentioned the Davenport youth council a couple of times. That council is very active. One of its key concerns is small businesses in Davenport. The council wants to be active in ensuring that the Canadian government continues to support not only small business but our overall economy in general.

Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Edmonton Manning.

Today my Conservative colleagues and I are calling on the Liberal government to take four very simple and very concrete steps going forward. These actions will benefit everyday Canadians.

One, we call for no further tax hikes on Canadian families, businesses, seniors, or students. Two, we call for immediate measures to encourage companies to hire young Canadians and address the youth unemployment crisis we currently face in our country. Three, we call upon the government to put a credible plan in place to return to a balanced budget by 2019, as was promised to Canadians. Four, we call upon the Liberals to halt all plans to sell Canadian airports to finance their reckless spending.

Today my Conservative colleagues and I are doing what we do each and every day in the House: we are standing up for Canadian taxpayers. We are standing up for those who work hard to make ends meet, to pay their mortgage, to put food on their table, to fuel their car, to care for their children, to enjoy life.

We are taking a stand for those who do not have a job but desperately desire to have one. We are taking a stand for the students who have invested countless hours of time and energy into earning a degree and who are now looking for meaningful employment. We are taking a stand for business owners who have taken risks for the sake of pursuing a dream and by doing so have created jobs and contribute to the well-being of our economy.

Today we are taking a stand for the young and the old and all of those in between. Not only that, we are taking a stand for the generations that are still to come after us, because when all is said and done, we recognize that the decisions we make today will impact those tomorrow. We must do all that we can to ensure a vibrant future for those who come after us.

Today we are calling on the government to join us in this endeavour, an endeavour that will serve each and every Canadian.

Although all points of the motion before us today are certainly worthy of attention, I will focus the majority of my time advocating on behalf of Canada's young people.

Since being elected by the people of Lethbridge 17 months ago, I have had the privilege of travelling from coast to coast to talk to young people across our country, and without exception, they have made one thing very clear to me: despite the finance minister's damning position on job creation for young Canadians, calling it “job churn”, it will not be tolerated by the rising generation. They are insisting that things can and should be different, and I agree.

Allow me to home in on my home province of Alberta for just a moment. It is no secret that Alberta is facing a jobs crisis. From 2015 to 2017, the unemployment rate doubled, going from 4.4% to 8.8%. Today 220,000 Albertans are out of work. Youth unemployment sits at 13.5%.

During November and December, I held six round tables throughout my province, where I talked to young people with regard to their job prospects. Overwhelmingly they reported feeling discouraged by the labour market and the lack of opportunities that are available to them. Many have worked hard to earn their degrees, and they would like the opportunity to use them. Others are seeking to save for their education, for travel, for a house. Others are looking for a job in order to provide for their families, and still others are just simply looking to pay the bills and get by.

The state of Alberta's economy makes it extremely difficult for young professionals. With a significant cohort of unemployed skilled workers who are now flooding entry-level positions, young professionals are actually faced with a huge disadvantage because there are qualified competitors now who are competing for a very small number of jobs. Meanwhile, statistics show that students who gain experience related to their area of study are 66% more likely to find a job after graduating, but unfortunately they are finding it extremely difficult to find co-op placements, paid internship opportunities, and summer student positions.

Although l have zeroed in on Alberta, the reality is that these problems plague Canada's young people in every corner of our great country.

In the fall I had the opportunity to meet with members of the students' union at the university in P.E.I. and with another student organization in Fredericton. Like those in Alberta, these students are also faced with very few job prospects, and they are feeling overwhelmingly discouraged.

Today more than 190,000 Canadian young people are unemployed and looking for work. As we all know, higher education comes at a cost. I believe it is good for students to invest in their training and education. We know that investment spurs greater responsibility and ownership. That said, I also recognize that students are graduating with increasingly large amounts of debt and need meaningful, well-paying jobs in order to be able to pay it off.

However, what concerns me just as much as the youth unemployment rate is the number of young people who are having to settle for part-time or precarious work. The Minister of Finance told Canada's young people that they will just have to get used to “job churn”. I disagree. By creating an environment of economic prosperity, the government can and should support businesses in their desire to grow and create meaningful and stable employment for those who are starting out in the labour market.

The Prime Minister promised to create “40,000 good youth jobs” each year from 2016 to 2018. Sadly, like most of his other promises, this one has not materialized. According to the final 2016 job numbers published in February, only 9,000 jobs were created last year for workers between the ages of 16 and 24. This is the net number after we account for the 40,000 full-time jobs that were lost from Canada's economy and the 49,000 part-time jobs that were created. In other words, all of the jobs that were gained by young people in our country were in the sphere of part-time work only.

The Prime Minister also promised to create 35,000 summer jobs for students through the summer jobs grant, as mentioned by our member who previously spoke. At the end of August 2016, Statistics Canada reported that when employment rates were compared year over year, there were 48,000 fewer jobs for young people than the year before. Coincidentally, the year before—when there were 48,000 more jobs—was when the Conservatives were in power.

Liberals also promised to invest $160 million to create co-op placements for students in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and business programs. Shortly after making that promise, however, the Prime Minister relented and brought that number down to only $73 million, which is half of what he originally promised.

The federal government has two main responsibilities. One is to keep Canadians safe and the other is to facilitate an environment of economic prosperity. Today, my Conservative colleagues and I are calling on the Liberal government to live up to its mandate.

During our travels across Canada, one of the things Canada's youth have recommended to me is that the federal government provide a tax incentive to employers who are willing to hire young people. This, of course, makes sense, because it would empower job creators to do just that—create jobs. Specifically, these jobs would be targeted at those who are just entering the workforce.

Furthermore, when it comes to looking out for the economic well-being of Canada's youth, we are calling upon the government to champion our oil and gas sector, as this has significant economic benefit for young workers from across Canada.

Finally, we are calling on the government to balance the budget, as we know that sensible fiscal management is absolutely essential to secure long-term prosperity for Canadians from all generations, and especially for those who will inherit the outcomes of today's decisions.

My colleagues and I on this side of the House are calling on the Liberal government to act today and to act responsibly for the sake of those who inherit this great nation tomorrow.

Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, there is an issue that Conservative members across the way like to raise, and that is the issue of the deficit. I wonder if the member can explain to me that while Stephen Harper was the prime minister, in budget after budget there was a significant deficit, to the degree that, in total, over $150 billion accumulated. The best-case scenario for the opposition is that it is debatable whether or not the country was left in a deficit situation. We would argue that it was left in a deficit situation.

Therefore, my question to the member is this: when did the Conservatives have this road-to-Damascus revelation that all of a sudden deficits are bad? Every year that Stephen Harper was the prime minister, the country had a deficit, but now the Conservatives seem to feel that deficits are bad. I do not quite understand. When did that conversion take place?

Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, when the Conservatives were in government, the world was facing a bit of an economic crisis. That said, it would be fair to compare economies from around the globe. Canada fared at the very highest point, so with regard to the hon. member's question, let us compare apples to apples here. At the end of the day, we left the current government with a surplus, and the Liberals took that surplus and let it spoil. They wasted it.

Now, today, my generation and the generation that comes after me is going to have to pay for the indecisions of the current government.

Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, maybe we should get a little more factual.

When Stephen Harper took office, he was left a multi-billion-dollar surplus. That was not in question at all. He had a multi-billion-dollar surplus. Before the recession even began, he turned that billions of dollars in surplus into a deficit. I would ask the member across the way to explain how the Conservatives can say today that deficits are bad when Stephen Harper had a deficit every year, even during good times.

Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his theatrical question.

There are a couple of points here. Number one, when the Conservatives became government, it should be pointed out that the Liberals were the former governing party and had just cut back drastically in spending on provincial transfers, particularly around health care. They may claim to show fiscal management, but what they really did was gut the money from the provinces that was rightfully theirs.

The second thing that should be noted is this. Within the Conservatives' first few years of government, we paid down over $40 billion of the national debt. That was done on behalf of the generations that were to come after us. That was done on behalf of the youth of this nation, and that is responsible leadership.

Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate my colleague's responses to what have been very fact-free questions in terms of the record of the Conservative government.

I would like the member to compare and contrast the situation facing us now, as opposed to when deficits were necessary, at which time the Liberals indeed asked Conservatives to spend more than we were. There are very different circumstances. I would like the member to comment on why different solutions are needed for different times.

Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, we certainly are looking at a very different time than when the right hon. Stephen Harper was leading government. At that point in time, of course, as I mentioned briefly before, the economy of the world was facing a downturn. We struggled through that, which meant that yes, a deficit was created in this country.

At this point in time, we are not facing that same downturn on the world stage. We are not even facing a downturn within our own country, so there is absolutely no reason that the government should be taking on the amount of debt load or deficit that it is.

I should also note that the Prime Minister made a promise to Canadians to only incur $10 billion of deficit, and that number has grown quite significantly, now being over $30 billion. That is worth noting.

Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

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 Longueuil—Saint-Hubert, Canadian Heritage; the hon. member for Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman, National Defence; and the hon. member for Nanaimo—Ladysmith, Status of Women.

Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:40 p.m.

Conservative

Ziad Aboultaif Conservative Edmonton Manning, AB

Mr. Speaker, last fall I travelled with the Standing Committee on Finance across the country as part of the pre-budget consultations. We heard from academics and business leaders, from farmers and trade unions, and from students and senior citizens. One thing they had in common was a concern about the direction of Canada's finances.

When the previous Conservative government left office, the nation's budget was balanced. We had come out of a difficult recession, when the government had been compelled to put billions of dollars into economic stimulus measures. That sort of spending was no longer necessary in 2015. The Conservative government had the economy in good shape. We had weathered the recession, and Canada had been praised internationally for the soundness of its banking system and the economic policies of its government.

What a difference 18 months can make. Now we have a government that has not a clue about fiscal management, led by a Prime Minister who believes, in some magical way, that budgets balance themselves. If he truly believes that, then we can expect no new taxes when the Minister of Finance rises in the House of Commons tomorrow to table his new budget. Canadians who are already struggling as the government has increased the tax burden on the middle class will have nothing to fear. There will be no carbon tax on seniors and students. By the way, that carbon tax is raising the price of almost everything Canadians do or touch.

Those of us who live in the real world know better. We know that the current government has a spending problem and not a revenue problem. There is not a trendy program at home or internationally that is not supported by the current government with huge chunks of taxpayer dollars. No one on the government side ever asks if Canada can afford this reckless spending. No one on the government side asks how the endless borrowing will be repaid. The Liberals expect the Conservatives to clean up after their fiscal mess when we win the next election in 2019.

Will the Minister of Finance admit to this House that the problem is not one of inadequate government revenues? They can ask anyone, as I had the opportunity to do as the finance committee travelled the country. People will tell them that taxes are already too high and that the government wastes the money it receives. Will the minister commit to not raising taxes on hard-working Canadians until he is able to get his fiscal house in order? Can the minister tell this House when he expects he will be able to bring government spending under control and balance the budget, or will he continue to pretend that borrowed money never has to be paid back? How can the government promote thrift and savings to Canadian citizens, when it refuses to lead by example. Where is the credibility in that?

Before the people of Edmonton Manning asked me to represent them in this House, I was a business owner, an entrepreneur. I can read a balance sheet. I understand about profit and loss. I know about the need for a return on investment if a business is to be successful. In the early years of a business, as a company is getting established, it is not surprising if operating costs are high and the business does not turn a profit. There are capital expenditures up front, perhaps, or extra personnel costs in launching a new venture, but after a few years, if the business is well run, it starts to turn a profit, and that profit makes up for losses in the early years.

Government is not the same thing as a business. There is no profit and loss in serving the public, but some of the principles are the same and are supposed to be the same. A business that is always in the red does not stay in business very long.

When we always have to borrow money to stay afloat, it is a sure sign of bad management, and eventually no one will loan us any more money and we will have to shut down.

When a government runs deficit after deficit, always borrowing money to pay for its spending, the cost of borrowing goes up each year. Eventually lenders are unwilling to extend any more credit unless there is a plan to repay the money, not just a theoretical plan but something the government is actually required to stick to.

Those people who lend money, especially the major international lenders who deal in the billions, know very well that budgets do not balance themselves. Someone has to take charge and reduce spending. Will the Minister of Finance be the person who says, “Enough”, to fiscal insanity, to deficits three times their election promises? I really hope so, but given his track record and the track record of his party, I am not very optimistic.

I am the proud father of two sons, young men just beginning to make their place in the world. I know how difficult it can be to get established in the workforce. At times it seems like employers want to hire young people only if they have 20 years' experience. It is tough to get started in a career in this world.

When the minister presents his budget tomorrow, I hope he takes that into account. Canada has an abundance of smart, educated young people who are unemployed and underemployed, through no fault of their own. The job market is tough, especially as businesses are reluctant to expand because of the ever-increasing tax burden they face. No one is tougher than Canada's youth. Whether they have just finished their education or are taking time off school to save money for it, young Canadians are having difficulty finding meaningful work.

Given such a situation, one would expect the government to address the youth unemployment crisis, to take immediate measures to encourage companies to hire young Canadians. This is the sort of thing we would expect governments to do, one of those areas where profit and loss are not measured the same way they would be in a business. Money spent on such a program would have long-term benefits for the health of the country. It would provide young Canadians with that all-important first job in their chosen field.

I would not be surprised if the Minister of Finance includes something like that in his budget. It would be the right thing to do. People would praise him and the government for their actions.

What he will not tell young Canadians, what they will have to figure out for themselves, is that he is merely loaning them this money to get them started. The government, due to reckless spending decisions already made, does not have the money to support our youth. If it wants to do anything to deal with youth unemployment, it will have to borrow the cash. It will use that money with no plan for how to pay back. It will be left to future generations, those just starting in the workforce now and those yet to come, to pay this bill, plus interest. So it is with anything this government does. We do not need to pay now, but we will pay later, much later and much more, once we add all the compound interest.

It would be nice to see fiscal sanity return to this House when the minister tables his budget. Is that too much to hope for?

Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

Spadina—Fort York Ontario

Liberal

Adam Vaughan LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Families

Mr. Speaker, I had the honour of serving for a very brief time in the last Parliament, so I have a bit of a living memory of the previous government's economic record. There was a recession we were charting and following as the Conservatives tumbled out of economic distress into economic chaos. I remember nine years of trade deficits. I remember $150 billion added to the federal debt. I remember the only way we could get close to balancing the budget in the last year of the previous government was by selling GM shares at a discount, effectively selling the furniture to pay the rent, advice we are told not to follow by members of that party.

When the hon. member talks about having to pay back deficits and pay back debt and respond to young Canadians, how are we to pay your $150-billion debt? What program should we scrap to pay the $150 billion you saddled young Canadians with, $150 billion that must be paid back before we even start talking about paying back our situation?

Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Order, please. I would just remind hon. members, when they find themselves repeatedly using the “you” word, not in a rhetorical fashion but particularly directed to other hon. members in the House or on the other side, that it is usually the first indication that we are getting out of the third person mode and into something that is not really desirable in terms of comportment in the House.

We will go to the hon. member for Edmonton Manning.

Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

Conservative

Ziad Aboultaif Conservative Edmonton Manning, AB

Mr. Speaker, bad memories or good memories, the one thing the government needs to remember, the one lesson in economics 101, is not to borrow money one cannot pay back. Do not spend what one does not have, and look after Canadians before looking outside Canada. That is the best recipe to control spending and balance budgets and to keep the economy in the right place at the right time.

What the government is doing now is the opposite of all the good things we learn in our memories in our classrooms in school. That is my message to the government, and that is my answer to the hon. member.

Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

NDP

Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his comments. Like all parents, we want our children to do well.

When we look at the economic budget issue, there are many aspects to consider, one of which is that the Conservative government, for six years in a row, lowered the corporate income tax for big corporations. The Conservatives are probably proud of that, but let us just put the figures on the record and analyze them for a minute.

The corporate income tax went down from 22% to 15% over the course of six years. That meant that $12 billion in revenue was lost for Canadians and for the government. That is money that could have been invested in a variety of fashions.

The evidence indicates that these cuts actually did not stimulate investments or deliver the promised job creation. Barbados and the Bahamas, two countries that are tax havens because of their lower tax rates, have unemployment rates of about 12%. In the context of that, would the member agree that there should be a redirection with respect to the corporate income tax and that those monies be regained and invested for Canadians where they need it the most?

Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

Conservative

Ziad Aboultaif Conservative Edmonton Manning, AB

Mr. Speaker, again, I will go back to economics 101. We need to lower taxes on the job creators. That is exactly what happened. That is not only on large businesses but also on small businesses. We are the pro-small-business party. That is what we believe in.

I am a small business owner. I am not sure about the hon. member. We created 1.1 million full-time jobs for Canada's economy. That reduction in the business tax helped us create jobs and bring more money into the economy. That is a smart measure. That is a smart step to take in doing business anywhere, and we are very proud of our record.

Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Mr. Speaker, on the eve of the budget presentation, I am pleased to speak to an opposition motion that deals with the budget. In a way, we are beginning the budget debate a day early.

We agree with many of the Conservatives' proposals, particularly regarding the problems related to privatizing airports. Of course, we also agree that the Liberals are completely out of touch with today's reality and the inequality that Canadians currently face. They talk about helping the middle class, but on the ground, that is definitely not what is happening.

Nevertheless, we unfortunately cannot support this opposition motion. One reason for that was addressed by my colleague from Vancouver East. This does nothing to tackle tax problems, such as the tax rate for large corporations. These issues are very important to us.

Despite the heckling we heard during the question and despite the tax cut from 22% to 15%, not only did the federal treasury lose money, but the jobs that were promised never materialized. On the contrary, businesses that were supposed to benefit from the tax cut for large corporations left Canada and set up shop elsewhere.

That being said, I heard the hon. Conservative member, in his response to the question, talk about the importance of small and medium-sized businesses and his own experience as an entrepreneur. We agree on this. Although we would like to see corporate tax rates go up, which, by the way, would still keep us competitive with the United States, a neighbouring economy that is our biggest competition, we want to lower the tax rate for small and medium-sized businesses. It is important to mention that in the context of the opposition motion and especially in the context of the budget that will be presented tomorrow.

During the last Parliament, in the last Conservative budget just before the election, the Conservatives promised to lower the tax rate on SMEs over the coming years. That was good, but not quite fast enough for our liking. We wanted it to be done right away. The Liberals remained mum on the issue. During the election campaign, we heard the Prime Minister claim that if this tax cut went through it would lead to tax havens. He did all sorts of intellectual backflips. Now we realize that he does not seem to understand what real tax evasion is, because he is doing nothing about it. That is another topic we will come back to shortly.

During the election campaign we promised to lower the small business tax rate. So did the Conservatives. Then the Liberals finally decided to follow suit and they promised the same thing. They recognized, as all of us do, or at least I hope so, that small businesses are the engine of our economy at the local and national levels. They are also the main creators of jobs and we rely on them for that.

However, we have to look at the current situation. Lowering taxes for small businesses is just another broken promise.

Unfortunately, we are becoming increasingly accustomed to broken promises. We are very optimistic, but for a Liberal government, whether this one or those of the past, reneging on promises is commonplace. What is really mind-boggling is hearing the Minister of Small Business and Tourism say in committee that, in any event, the promise was just meant as a television clip or a good newspaper headline. Not keeping a promise is shameful, but admitting that they never intended to keep it is even worse. The Liberals did not give reasons for not being able to keep their promise, did not say that they had done something else, or that it would wait and they would keep their promise the next year. There was nothing of the kind. There was no honesty, or perhaps they were being too honest. They decided to look us in the eye and tell us that they never intended to do it. That is very unfortunate.

It will soon be six years since I became a member of Parliament. When I look at the chambers of commerce, particularly the Bassin de Chambly chamber of commerce and industry or the Vallée-du-Richelieu chamber of commerce and industry, I see some very dynamic chambers of commerce and a lot of young entrepreneurs renowned worldwide. I am thinking for instance of the Mobux company from Mont-Saint-Hilaire, which will go to Berlin for the G20 meeting as one of the Canadian and Quebec companies representing Canada.

We are very proud to see people and companies from home at the G20. These companies need the federal government's help. They need it to reduce their financial burden so that they can continue to grow, to succeed, and to thrive both at home and abroad. In so doing, they will set an example for other entrepreneurs in Canada. This creates a nice cycle that leads into the next generation of entrepreneurs.

However, this is not just about the tax rate for small and medium-sized businesses. The issue of infrastructure and the privatization of airports is also raised in this motion. One of the biggest problems in this file is that the Prime Minister refuses to answer certain questions that he has been asked for several months, maybe even a year now.

Almost one year ago, we heard something about consultations with Credit Suisse. We did not hear from the parties who really need the federal government’s help, but rather from the Minister of Finance’s economic council and from individuals such as Credit Suisse representatives, who are experts in privatization. This caused a great deal of concern.

We heard rumours that they were going to sell off our airports because they were no longer able to manage the finances and meet their election promises, such as using public funds to finance public infrastructure, which by the way we support. However, this is not what we are seeing here.

As for selling off airports, we asked the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance if that was going to be on the table. This was a concern for the presidents of the country’s airport and port authorities. The Minister of Transport simply replied that consumers would always be their priority, in order to get the best prices and avoid overcharging. One might say that you cannot turn down a good thing, but this is not what we are dealing with.

Experts believe that airport privatization will result in higher prices and fees. We are going to let the private sector take over our public infrastructure and charge more fees to consumers. This will also have a significant impact on airlines.

My riding is on Montreal's south shore. My constituents can go to Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau, or they can go to U.S. airports to avoid paying what they see as sky-high prices. Many people choose the latter. Airport authorities and airlines say that privatization will make things even worse. Instead of departing from Canadian airports, thereby helping to fund Canadian airport infrastructure, travellers will go elsewhere. That is a problem.

The government is doing this to keep a promise that was not even in the Liberals' campaign platform. They never mentioned selling airports. With all due respect, it seems to me we have a serious problem when even the Conservatives think privatization is going too far. The Liberal government needs to reconsider.

Privatization is not just about prices and fees. It is about safety too. Airport safety is extremely important.

Look at rail safety. When the government privatized our railroads, it went on and on about how great privatization was and how much it would benefit consumers. Serious rail safety problems have emerged since then. I may be speculating, but it is an easy conclusion to reach.

Given the threat of airport privatization raised by the government, there is cause for serious concern over airport security, supposedly an issue the government is very concerned with.

I do not want to draw conclusions that are too far-fetched, but Bill C-23, for example, would increase the powers of U.S. pre-clearance officers on Canadian soil, in the interest of safety, of course. At the same time, the Liberals want to privatize airports and potentially risk compromising security. What an odd approach to take. It shows this government's inconsistency and failure to properly manage the affairs of state.

The issue of privatization does not just concern airports. There is also the infamous infrastructure bank, another file that we have been asking the government about for many months. We asked the government about the bank's structure, what terms and conditions it would operate under, and what would be the impact on small rural municipalities that would be adversely impacted by such a bank. Clearly, the private sector will have little or no interest in investing in infrastructure projects that are not very profitable even though they would be of great benefit to our towns and to the rural communities that really need them.

Incidentally, all those questions remain unanswered. The Prime Minister always gives us the same answer with a bit of a smile, and we have heard other Liberal members say the same thing, that is, we should just wait and see what is in the budget, which will be presented tomorrow. However, this has left the municipalities and Canadians feeling very uncertain, which is very problematic.

Although the government is boasting about public investments spread over 12 years, this a bit of a charade. In fact, we now realize that most of that money will not be spent right away, but rather over a much longer period than initially planned. We also note that the government will use some of that money to open the door to the private sector.

This poses a number of problems because I firmly believe that taxpayers feel very strongly that their money should be used to finance public infrastructure that is properly managed. I firmly believe that, and I think my constituents would agree with me.

Certain things do not sit well with taxpayers, and we saw this in the debate on the Champlain Bridge, for example. If we are asking taxpayers to accept a huge deficit run up by the federal government to fund public infrastructure, not only must that infrastructure remain public, but people must not be asked to pay twice for that infrastructure through user fees and tolls. That is very important.

Many of my constituents come to see me and tell me that they are unsure where they stand on tolls and user fees, because they have to do with road conditions and public transit, which is another very important file for a suburban community like mine.

When we look at the proposals, or what we can make of them, we are given none of the details because there is no transparency, as I said. I tell my constituents that when we look at the proposals, it is not so much about whether the federal government is going to provide funding for public transit. I explain that the federal government is spending their money to fund public infrastructure and an infrastructure bank that is looking for private investment. The company investing in infrastructure will then charge tolls and user fees. None of that will fund a public transit system that will help people get to work more easily and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. That is going to create a profit margin for private companies that invest in these projects.

The private company does not want to be reimbursed just for the capital it spent on the bridge, road, or whichever project is on the table: it wants a return on its investment. It is not enough to be able to tell the people of Beloeil, Carignan, or Chambly, who are stuck in traffic on highway 112, that they can now get to Brossard or downtown Montreal using a light rail system. That is another very important file that we will come back to in the coming months and years.

The private company is not in it to finance a project, but instead to make a profit.

The Liberal Party made these commitments during the last election campaign. We are seeing that it has broken its promise to use public funds to better manage public infrastructure than the previous government.

It turns out that the Liberal government intends to use public funds to privatize our public infrastructure so that private businesses can make a profit and, in effect, subject Canadian citizens to double taxation through tolls and user fees. That is a problem.

Other questions concerning the infrastructure bank remain unanswered. For instance, who will sit on the bank's executive? Where will it be located? How will consultations take place? Someone has already been appointed to help the government create a team to set up the bank. The individual in question comes from Ontario politics and knows the Prime Minister's friends quite well; they work in her office. She was already involved in starting the process of privatizing Hydro One, for which the residents of Ontario are now paying the price.

We have serious questions about the interests that will be represented. Will municipalities have a seat at the table? The municipalities are wondering. How will we make sure that Canadians and those who really need federal infrastructure help will be at the table? We need to ensure that we have public transit, infrastructure, bridges, highways, and wastewater treatment systems that meet the public’s expectations in a country such as Canada in 2017.

Once again, all these questions remain unanswered. Will we have answers tomorrow? In a way, I hope so, because we are finally going to see whether the government is heading toward disaster for our public infrastructure or whether it has finally seen the light and realized that this is the wrong direction. However, perhaps I hope not, because I am quite concerned about finding out what the end result will be. We are not the only ones who are concerned, because as I said, Canadians have been talking about this for quite some time.

Sadly, our position and the Conservatives' are far enough apart that we cannot support the motion, but I want to close by talking about one other point in the opposition motion that we do agree with, a point that merits our attention. That point is youth unemployment, which was of particular interest to me in the previous Parliament as the NDP's youth critic. Of course, young people are not the only ones without jobs.

We also need to talk about precarious work. Many young people with excellent education are underemployed. They have jobs that pay less than they should be earning with their professional qualifications. They are overqualified for their jobs. This is a major issue, and once again, we look forward to seeing what the government has to say about it tomorrow.

The Prime Minister is happy to take pictures with young people. The government is happy to talk about the youth council despite the lack of transparency that my colleague from Salaberry—Suroît has pointed out. What we do know is that the Minister of Finance, and therefore the Prime Minister, somehow thinks it is acceptable to tell young people to be okay with this reality.

Those of us in our twenties know that no matter what decisions the government makes today on our behalf and on behalf of all citizens, we are the ones who will have to live with the consequences of those decisions whether they have to do with our infrastructure, our environment, or our jobs. So far, the government has let us down tremendously.

My optimism allows me to hope that the disappointment will end tomorrow, but so far nothing leads us to believe that that will be the case. I am, however, open to the idea.

Supplementary Estimates (C)—Speaker's RulingPoint of OrderGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I am now ready to rule on the point of order raised earlier today by the hon. member for Perth—Wellington concerning the supply bill that was distributed with Supplementary Estimates (C) for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2017, which will be called for debate later today.

I thank the hon. member for Perth—Wellington for raising this important issue, as well as the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and the hon. member for London—Fanshawe for their observations.

In his arguments, the member for Perth—Wellington indicated that the parts of the draft appropriation act concerning the salary of certain ministers were already before the House in an amending bill, Bill C-24, an act to amend the Salaries Act and to make a consequential amendment to the Financial Administration Act. He contended that, as such items of a legislative character should not be included in the estimates, the Speaker should remove from the estimates all references to authority for ministerial salaries.

As the member has indicated, House of Commons Procedure and Practice, second edition, states at page 869:

...estimates with a direct and specific legislative intent...should come to the House by way of an amending bill.

However, as the member also noted, this situation is not new. In fact, members may recall that during the current Parliament, Bill C-8, An Act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the federal public administration for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2016 and Bill C-9, An Act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the federal public administration for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2017, had the exact same provisions regarding ministerial salaries. Both bills were adopted by the House without any concerns being raised either beforehand or afterwards.

As has been pointed out by the parliamentary secretary to the government House leader, this procedure has been used consistently since the mid-1990s.

In reference to the specific arguments raised by the member for Perth—Wellington, the Chair would be remiss if it did not point out an important nuance, namely that outlined by Speaker Parent in his ruling November 25, 1997, found at page 2209 of Debates, when he said:

...what was objected to in the past and what different Speakers have ruled out of order were attempts to amend existing acts or legislate new programs as part of a legislative measure granting supply.

Clearly, the draft supply bills currently available to members on this last supply day are not amending existing acts or legislating new programs. Accordingly, the Chair is satisfied that the form or content of the bills is not at issue in this case.

The Chair is therefore prepared to let the estimates, and the supply bills that flow from them, proceed today in their current form.

I thank hon. members for their attention.

The House resumed consideration of the motion.

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

It being 5:15 p.m., and today being the last allotted day for the supply period ending March 26, it is my duty to interrupt the proceedings and put forthwith every question necessary to dispose of the business of supply.

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

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

All those opposed will please say nay.

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Opposition Motion—Budget 2017Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

In my opinion the nays have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Call in the members.

And the bells having rung:

Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

The question is the following one. Shall I dispense?

Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:50 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

[Chair read text of motion to House]

(The House divided on the motion, which was negatived on the following division:)

Vote #223

Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

6 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I declare the motion defeated.

The House resumed from March 9 consideration of the motion.

Opposition Motion—Canadian Forces Tax BenefitBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

6 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Pursuant to order made Thursday, March 9, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion of the member for Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman relating to the business of supply.

The question is on the motion.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #224

Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

6:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I declare the motion carried.

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2016-17Government Orders

6:05 p.m.

Kings—Hants Nova Scotia

Liberal

Scott Brison LiberalPresident of the Treasury Board

moved:

That the Supplementary Estimates (C) for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2017, be concurred in.

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2016-17Government Orders

6:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

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

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2016-17Government Orders

6:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2016-17Government Orders

6:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2016-17Government Orders

6:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2016-17Government Orders

6:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

All those opposed will please say nay.

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2016-17Government Orders

6:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2016-17Government Orders

6:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And five or more members having risen:

(The House divided on the Motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #225

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2016-17Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I declare the motion carried.

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2016-17Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Liberal Kings—Hants, NS

moved that Bill C-40, an act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the federal public administration for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2017, be read the first time.

(Motion deemed adopted and bill read the first time)

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2016-17Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Liberal Kings—Hants, NS

moved that the bill be read a second time and referred to a committee of the whole.

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2016-17Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

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

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2016-17Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2016-17Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

The hon. Chief Government Whip on a point of order.

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2016-17Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

Liberal

Pablo Rodriguez Liberal Honoré-Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, I believe if you seek it, you would find agreement to apply the result from the previous vote to this vote.

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2016-17Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Is there unanimous consent?

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2016-17Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #226

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2016-17Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I declare the motion carried.

(Bill read the second time and the House went into committee of the whole thereon, Mr. Bruce Stanton in the chair)

(On clause 2)

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2016-17Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

Conservative

Pat Kelly Conservative Calgary Rocky Ridge, AB

Mr. Chair, can the President of the Treasury Board please assure the House that the bill is in its normal form?

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2016-17Government Orders

6:20 p.m.

Kings—Hants Nova Scotia

Liberal

Scott Brison LiberalPresident of the Treasury Board

Mr. Chair, the form of this bill is in fact the same as that passed in the previous supply period.

I greatly appreciate the continued interest of the hon. member in this important and pressing issue before the House, and for his hard work on this file.

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2016-17Government Orders

6:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Bruce Stanton

Shall clause 2 carry?

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2016-17Government Orders

6:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

On division.

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2016-17Government Orders

6:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Bruce Stanton

(Clause 2 agreed to)

Shall clause 3 carry?

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2016-17Government Orders

6:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

On division.

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2016-17Government Orders

6:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Bruce Stanton

(Clause 3 agreed to)

Shall clause 4 carry?

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2016-17Government Orders

6:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

On division.

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2016-17Government Orders

6:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Bruce Stanton

(Clause 4 agreed to)

Shall clause 5 carry?

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2016-17Government Orders

6:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

On division.

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2016-17Government Orders

6:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Bruce Stanton

(Clause 5 agreed to)

Shall clause 6 carry?

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2016-17Government Orders

6:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

On division.

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2016-17Government Orders

6:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Bruce Stanton

(Clause 6 agreed to)

Shall clause 7 carry?

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2016-17Government Orders

6:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

On division.

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2016-17Government Orders

6:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Bruce Stanton

(Clause 7 agreed to)

Shall schedule 1 carry?

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2016-17Government Orders

6:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

On division.

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2016-17Government Orders

6:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Bruce Stanton

(Schedule 1 agreed to)

Shall schedule 2 carry?

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2016-17Government Orders

6:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

On division.

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2016-17Government Orders

6:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Bruce Stanton

(Schedule 2 agreed to)

Shall clause 1, the short title, carry?

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2016-17Government Orders

6:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

On division.

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2016-17Government Orders

6:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Bruce Stanton

(Clause 1 agreed to)

Shall the preamble carry?

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2016-17Government Orders

6:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

On division.

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2016-17Government Orders

6:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Bruce Stanton

(Preamble agreed to)

Shall the title carry?

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2016-17Government Orders

6:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

On division.

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2016-17Government Orders

6:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Bruce Stanton

(Title agreed to)

Shall the bill carry?

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2016-17Government Orders

6:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

On division.

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2016-17Government Orders

6:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Bruce Stanton

(Bill agreed to)

Shall I rise and report the bill?

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2016-17Government Orders

6:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

On division.

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2016-17Government Orders

6:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Bruce Stanton

(Bill reported)