House of Commons Hansard #156 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was als.


Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.


Hedy Fry Liberal Vancouver Centre, BC

Mr. Speaker, I go back to what I originally said, that this was a good Liberal budget.

Liberals do not tend to say they will do everything in one year, damn the consequences and spend as much money as they want. We have to look at the balancing of budgets, bringing down deficits, while at the same time increasing the ability of businesses and others to spend more money so we are building the economy while waiting over a period of time so we can get to do the things we want to do.

I draw the attention of the House to past Liberal budgets under the Right Hon. Jean Chrétien. Every year, while we would say we would do this in certain years, we would add to the amount in the past because we would have gained that ability to bring down deficits and debt so we could say that we could now add to this.

While the member says that $11 billion over 10 years is not enough money, it is a start. It puts down the marker that says we will do this and we will build on it. We will also have to work with provinces, and Quebec's best practice is always a good one at which to look. Nobody has said that we will reinvent the wheel.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.


Francesco Sorbara Liberal Vaughan—Woodbridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure today to rise to speak to budget 2017. This budget is the next step in our government's focus to ensure a brighter future for all Canadians with what I call a three-pronged approach: a focus on innovation, infrastructure, and skills training. This budget deals with the global realities and certainties that Canada faces, but meets head on the exciting opportunities that we as a nation must grab hold of, and charts a course in which Canadians can be proud and confident.

As someone who spent over two decades working in the global financial markets of New York City, London, and Toronto, I can state with expertise that budget 2017 is fiscally responsible and undertakes strategic investments that will strengthen and grow Canada's middle class, while taking the responsible approach to fiscal management, cemented in a stable and declining debt-to-GDP ratio. Canada's fiscal strength rests on its load-debt burden, and protecting this source of strength is of paramount importance.

On a personal level, as a father of two young daughters, Natalia and Eliana, this budget is not just a plan for the future of this generation but of successive generations. I know budget 2017 will make a positive difference in the lives of the residents I have the privilege of serving in the dynamic and growing riding of Vaughan—Woodbridge.

Earlier this year, I announced a multi-million dollar investment in a new inter-regional transit terminal in the city of Vaughan, which will connect with the Toronto-York Spadina subway extension project, due to be up and running in later 2017. This investment by our government, in partnership with the other levels of government, will benefit not only my community but all communities in York Region and the GTA. As I like to say, a better place to live, learn, and work.

We have already begun to see the green shoots in the Canadian economy, including a labour market characterized by having the strongest job growth since 2012, spending by consumers supported by gains in disposable income and the Canada Child benefit, and a robust housing market, that are attributed to budget 2016. The transformational Canada child benefit will provide over $20 billion of direct tax-free payments to Canadian families this year.

Strategic investments in infrastructure, the lowering of taxes for over nine million middle-class Canadians, and pursuing trade policies that saw Canada complete a progressive and standard-setting agreement with the European Union are all providing a solid foundation for a brighter economic future for all Canadians for years to come.

Let us examine the specific measures in budget 2017 that focus on what I called our three-pronged approach: innovation, infrastructure, and skills training. In our fall 2016 economic statement, the government announced that it would invest $81 billion in infrastructure for the next 11 years. I am proud to announce that within budget 2017, we see those details. This will include nearly $21 billion to support social infrastructure in Canadian communities, including $7 billion over 10 years to support and create more high-quality, affordable child care spaces across Canada.

I wish to highlight this specific investment in Canadian families with a quote from Marni Flaherty, chair of the Canadian Child Care Federation, as follows:

We are pleased that Canada’s federal government has taken this significant first step in committing to a multi-year funding plan. Moving forward, creating fundamental changes in how Canada supports the middle class – and all families – in accessing high quality and affordable child care will require increased funding, planning and coordination.

Over $11 billion will be invested over 11 years for an inclusive national housing strategy. There will be $1.8 billion invested over 10 years for cultural and recreational infrastructure. An additional $10.1 billion will be invested in trade and transportation projects from coast to coast to coast. We need to get our goods and services to market to export and we need to break down bottlenecks.

I applaud the strategic investment of $152 million to provide consistent and effective security screening of travellers and workers. Air Canada commented as follows:

Air Canada today said it welcomes funding in the Federal Budget that will improve airport security screening processes at Canadian airports. This will benefit travellers by reducing wait times and should enhance the overall travel experience.

Airports are key economic drivers with, for example, in Toronto, GTAA, a key economic cluster as the second largest employment zone in the country.

Canada also faces a rapidly changing global economy and for us to succeed, we must foster citizens to be global leaders in their fields and have our creative and entrepreneurial citizens propel the economy forward. Our plan on innovation and skills training meets this challenge and will position our citizens and companies to succeed not only at home but also on the global stage.

Budget 2017 contains a number of measures on innovation. We all know that Canada is positioned for innovation with the most highly skilled and educated workforce and one of the best places for openness in trade and investment.

Briefly, there are three I wish to highlight, which will help companies scale up and identify those with the greatest potential. These measures include establishing Innovation Canada, a new single window at Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada for business innovation programming to help coordinate and simplify innovation programs. Second, $950 million will be invested over five years to support business-led innovation superclusters that have the greatest potential to accelerate economic growth, and up to $400 million will be invested in the Business Development Bank for a new venture capital catalyst initiative.

I am proud of our commitment and the compassion we demonstrated for Canadian families. Our commitment to Canadian families is steadfast. We understand that Canadians face a job market that requires lifelong learning, and we are there to help. As an old proverb states, if you give people a fish, you feed them for a day; but if you teach people to fish, you feed them for a lifetime.

Our government will invest $2.7 billion over six years to help more unemployed and underemployed Canadians access the training and employment supports they need to find and keep good jobs. Additionally, $225 million will be invested over four years to identify and fill skills gaps in the economy, to help Canadians be best prepared for the new economy.

Our budget follows through on a promise to parents. Our budget will let parents, at their choice, extend their parental leave for up to 18 months versus the 12 months currently. This is important as it will provide enhanced flexibility to families, particularly in areas where there is a current shortage of child care spaces or where there is a prohibitive cost for child care spaces. As we all know, the gap between 12 months and 18 months in child care is great, because a lot of child care centres do not offer the service for kids between those ages, or younger.

Additionally, there is a new employment insurance caregiving benefit of up to 15 weeks to cover situations where individuals are providing care to an adult family member. As well, expectant mothers will be allowed to claim EI maternity benefits of up to 12 weeks before their due date versus the current standard of eight weeks. Taken together, these measures are smart investments to assist Canadian families.

A few other measures that I believe are noteworthy include an initiative for better data collection in the Canadian housing market, with a $39.9 million investment to establish a housing statistics framework to address housing data gaps identified by the federal, provincial, and municipal housing working group. Our government's actions to date on the housing market are to ensure a sound housing market for all Canadians. Better data collection will strengthen our ability to ensure that home ownership remains robust and that our housing market remains sound.

Finally, a measure on which I hope to comment in the future is the introduction of the new Canada caregiver credit, which will vastly simplify the current system. It will replace the caregiver credit, the infirm dependent credit, and the family caregiver tax credit. With a single new tax credit, we will be better able to support those who need it the most. It will apply to caregivers, whether or not they live with their family member, and help families with caregiving responsibilities.

It is this type of measure that reflects the values of this government, and it will make a real and positive difference in the lives of Canadian families. It makes me proud to be part of a government that introduced budget 2017 with those types of principles and values.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.


Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to see the government taking action on child care, because we heard a lot of testimony as we studied the economic status of women in Canada, which said this is a key thing that needs to be done. However, I was concerned to see that only 40,000 spots were being created, which is about 120 per riding. It is really not that much, and it does not start until the 2018-19 year.

Some of the other things that I liked philosophically, such as skills training for youth, etc., are also not starting until late in the mandate, and there are a lot of projections of things that go past the government's mandate.

Why did the government decide to delay all of these initiatives that are really critical to creating jobs and getting women into the workforce?

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.


Francesco Sorbara Liberal Vaughan—Woodbridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will take a holistic approach and look at all the pieces we have put in place to support families across Canada. There is the introduction of the Canada child benefit, and the investment of funds for child care spaces across Canada. We need to sit down with our provincial counterparts and ensure that the money is being delivered for child care, which is very important. Also, there is our Canada summer jobs strategy for youth, and a number of programs we have put forward for innovation. These will all make a difference not only for our economy but, more importantly, for Canadian families.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.


Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, some of the things that are found in the Liberals' election platform are missing from their budget. It is as though they were forgotten along the way.

I would like my colleague to answer the following three questions.

First, why did the government not lower the tax rate for small and medium-sized businesses, as promised? Second, why did the government not close the tax loophole for stock options for CEOs, as promised? Finally, why did the Liberals not abide by the decision of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal and invest $155 million to help first nations children?

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.


Francesco Sorbara Liberal Vaughan—Woodbridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, with regard to the tax loopholes or tax advantages that people or organizations may wish to gain, we have again committed substantial funds to the Canada Revenue Agency. I believe it is over $500 million, so we can ensure that all Canadians, all organizations, are paying their fair share of taxes. We will continue on that track and we are committed to that track.

We also need to ensure that we have a competitive tax system. Reviewing tax expenditures and reviewing the tax code is something that we as a government should continuously be doing, and we are doing that. We need to ensure that entrepreneurs that take risks, that move forward, that put capital forward, and that put people to work are rewarded, but we also need to ensure that everyone is paying their fair share.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.


Judy Sgro Liberal Humber River—Black Creek, ON

Mr. Speaker, my colleague covered off all of the issues that matter to many Canadians when it comes to building a strong nation. The foundation of a nation always goes back to families and children and what kind of support we provide for them.

Over and above all of my colleague's great comments about the things we are doing, the housing issue is a critical one, because if people do not have a roof over their heads, it makes life very difficult. Many families in the Toronto area are truly struggling with this very issue.

I would like to hear more comment on the housing strategy and the commitment of dollars for housing. What are those dollars meant to be for, specifically?

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.


Francesco Sorbara Liberal Vaughan—Woodbridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to say that our government is investing over $11 billion in a new housing strategy, which will assist those Canadians who need it the most: our seniors, disabled veterans, and low-income families. It is of paramount concern within the GTA that individuals have access to affordable housing, and our government is putting down a large investment to ensure this happens.

We have also undertaken measures within the housing market to ensure that it remains stable and sound for Canadians. Houses are Canadians' biggest investment. They are their homes. We need to ensure that remains sound.

I am very excited to announce those measures. I am proud to reiterate the message that we are undertaking, for the first time in a very long time, a national housing strategy from coast to coast to coast that will benefit Canadians who really need it the most.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.


Gérard Deltell Conservative Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is always a pleasure for me to rise in the House, but obviously I am very disappointed.

I am very disappointed today to speak on this budget that, unfortunately, keeps going down the wrong path that the Liberal government wanted to take a year ago. The government has completely lost control of public spending. It is living beyond its means, it is leaving spiralling debt for our children, our grandchildren and our great-grandchildren who, unfortunately, will have to pay for the current government’s mismanagement.

It was not surprising, three days ago, to see the Minister of Finance all happy and proud, as is the tradition, to be able to launch his budget with a photo session, what in the business is called a photo op, surrounded by a group of children. What is clear is that he was surrounded by those who are going to have to pay later for today’s mistakes. That is the defining mark of the current Minister of Finance's second budget.

The government got elected, we sadly recall, almost two years ago on a formal commitment: to run very small deficits for three years of a maximum of $10 billion and to return to a balanced budget in 2019.

Basically, this was not a good election promise. However, we are democrats. We respect public opinion. The people spoke in October 2015 and elected the Liberal Party, which promised to run very small deficits. Had they run very small deficits, we would not have been happy, but we would have at least respected those who kept their word.

However, that is not the case here. Within months of getting elected, here we have them wallowing in a spending spree, completely breaking their election promise to run very small deficits. In the first year, we saw this government run a deficit that according to the books is $23 billion.

Let us not be fooled: the reality is that this government took the $6 billion financial cushion, which was to provide the necessary flexibility for unforeseen circumstances, not to deal with emerging economic issues, but to deal with its mismanagement. The reality is that the first year of this government resulted in a $29-billion deficit. This is three times worse than expected.

The government's latest budget does not deviate from that path: deficits, deficits, and more deficits. This year, $28.5 billion; next year, $27.4 billion; $23.4 billion in 2019-20; and $21.7 billion and $18.8 billion in the years after that. How very typical of this government: deficits in the tens and tens of billions of dollars.

The Liberal plan was to balance the budget in 2019-20. That is what millions of Canadians voted for. Instead, the Liberal Party will be partying it up with a deficit approaching $24 billion. That is typical Liberal government, and we will not stand for it.

When I say “we”, I do not mean just the Conservative Party, the party that balanced the books and left Canada on sound financial footing, the party that, under the leadership of the Right Honourable Stephen Harper and experienced ministers including John Flaherty and Joe Oliver, made sure that Canada emerged from the worst financial crisis this country has seen since the 1920s faster and in better shape than any other country.

We left the house in order and a $2.9 billion surplus. When I raised this point a few days ago, the Prime Minister refused to answer my question and spouted a bunch of nonsense about how it was not true. It is. If he cannot see that, could he at least believe the parliamentary budget officer who, at the request of Senator Larry Smith, determined that our government left a $2.9 billion surplus? We were careful about that. We were careful with government finances.

Should we be surprised by the Liberal government's lack of vision and finesse with respect to financial responsibility? Mr. Speaker, I do not know where you were and, honestly, I do not remember where I was on October 10. What I do know is that the Minister of Finance was in his office.

What did he have on his desk on October 10, 2016? He had a report signed by his own officials that concluded very clearly on page 14 that if Canada did not change course, the budget would not be balanced until 2055 and we would be $1.5 trillion in debt by 2050—incidentally, $1 trillion is $1,000 billion. In other words, the Liberals missed their mark by 36 years. Even worse, they have absolutely no plan to balance the budget.

Mr. Speaker, in your personal life, if you exceed your budget and go into debt, year after year, do you think that one day someone might knock on your door and tell you to get your act together? I know you are an honourable man, but it could happen to anyone.

How is it that the people who control a budget of $330 billion could lose sight of what all parents and Canadians know? That is what does not make sense. Even worse, the Minister of Finance was so proud to have that report on his desk, a report written by his own officials that said that if nothing changed, we would not return to a balanced budget until 2055, that he kept it all to himself for 10 whole weeks.

If such a damning report were written about me, I too might want to stick it in a desk and pretend that it did not exist. The Minister of Finance's primary responsibility is to face facts and to face the 35 million Canadians who pay his salary. That proves he did not have a clear conscience. It is hard to have a clear conscience after getting elected on a promise to return to a balanced budget by 2019 only to have that turn into 2055.

Worse yet, the government squandered an opportunity to turn things around with this budget. It chose to stay on the same path, the path to deficits, the path to debt, and the path to transferring debt to our children and grandchildren, who are going to pay the price for this mismanagement.

The Conservative Party is not alone in crying foul. Yesterday, on RDI, a Radio-Canada/CBC station, René Vézina, an economist, said, “The fact remains that there is quite a bit of red ink. There is no end in sight.”

It makes no sense, we need to know that much. What if the minister had told us that, well, we are spending quite a bit, but in seven, eight or nine years, we will be back to a balanced budget. That would not have been great, but at least there would have been a game plan, a vision, an action plan. We would know where we were going. This is not the case. There is no vision about the future of public finances, nothing. This is completely unacceptable.

That is what led Mr. Vézina to say that this is nonsense. That is also what led Carl Vallée, spokesperson for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, to say that it does not make sense and that “the fact there is no sign of returning to a balanced budget soon is very troubling and certainly the most disappointing aspect of this budget”.

This is the reality and that is why we have to be careful.

What about Michel Girard, economist and analyst with Quebecor’s QMI, LCN and TVA? He said that this is a big spending budget, that “the federal debt is out of control” and that we are lucky we currently have low interest rates. However, sooner or later, interest rates are likely to rise and each percentage point increase means an extra $6 billion or $7 billion.

François Pouliot of Les Affaires wrote that “the goal of any government should be to protect its credit rating for the future and to get on a better financial footing for the next generation”.

That is exactly the opposite of what this government is doing. It makes no sense. There is a complete loss of control when it comes to taxpayers’ dollars.

There are other worrisome aspects, such as tax increases that will be borne by taxpayers and the elimination of certain tax credits put in place by our government. First, the government decided to come up with the Friday and Saturday night tax. The government is now charging a new additional tax on alcohol, tobacco, and the like. So when a Canadian worker, who has worked hard all week, seeing half of his paycheque going to taxes, wants to have a cold beer with his friends on Friday night, he will have an extra tax to pay thanks to this good government.

On Saturday evening, hardworking fathers or mothers who want to enjoy a good meal with their spouse and go buy a nice bottle of wine will now have to pay more thanks to this government. That is because of the Friday and Saturday night tax that this government just imposed. I am not the one saying it, it is an economist. I did not come up with that phrase.

It is not a good idea to raise taxes on alcohol and tobacco. According to the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, this is a major tax increase for consumers. It is a way for the government to take money out of the pockets of those who are going to use these completely legal substances regardless.

The government needs to be very careful about doing that.

What is more, there are dozens of tax credits. If someone had told me two days ago that I was going to say what I am about to say, I would not have believed it possible because we are talking about the Liberals. However, the Liberals are indeed directly attacking people who use public transit. Who would have thought?

This government goes on and on about how much it cares about the environment, unlike the big, bad Conservatives who could not care less. This government says it wants people to use public transit instead of cars. It has even said crazy things about the oil industry, but that is another story. Now it is eliminating the tax credit for transit riders, a tax credit created by the Conservative government.

Who would have thunk it? The Liberals are doing away with a green policy implemented by the Conservatives. That makes no sense.

Who is this move going to hurt? Cash-strapped students who have to scrimp and save. Seniors and people who cannot afford a car. People with modest incomes. People who want to be part of the solution, people with an environmental conscience who care about the planet and want their footprint to be as small as possible, who choose public transit over cars. Those are the people the Liberal government is hurting here. Those are the people the Conservative government protected. It was not a flashy measure, but it was a good one that should not have been axed.

Again, it is not just us big, bad Conservatives saying that. Who else? Our friend Denis Coderre, mayor of Montreal, and former Liberal member and minister is saying the same thing. Denis Coderre is criticizing the Liberal government. I am sensing some scepticism across the way. Allow me to quote an article by Boris Proulx, updated on March 22, 2017, at 6:15 p.m. to be precise: “[Denis Coderre] is disappointed that the budget eliminates the tax credit for transit passes. He sees this as a contradictory measure from the Trudeau government.”

That was Denis Coderre, former minister, former Liberal member in this place, and a good friend of the current Prime Minister, the hon. member for Papineau, as everyone knows. “How can the government fund mega projects in public transit and then stop encouraging Canadians from using it?”, the mayor asks.

I have the same question for the governing party. They do not have to answer me if they do not want to, but let them at least answer their friend Denis Coderre who is questioning their unacceptable contradiction.

The same goes for public transit users, who simply do not understand. On TVA yesterday, people in the street were asked what they thought of that measure. They said it makes no sense. Sure, that tax credit was not going to change the world, but still, it was a little extra incentive. It gave people a bit of breathing room, and they were excited about that. Now the Liberals have decided to punish people who use public transit. It is just ridiculous.

I would point out that there were some other Liberals who were not too happy, either, namely the Quebec provincial government Liberals, under the leadership of the Hon. Philippe Couillard, the Premier of Quebec. We know that there is no link between the provincial Liberal Party and the federal Liberal Party, ever since Jean Lesage in 1965, but they are Liberals nonetheless. Yesterday, the Quebec minister of finance and the president of the Treasury Board were “extremely disappointed”. Here is exactly what senior ministers in the Couillard government said yesterday: “We are extremely disappointed and concerned that there's no clear signal in this budget.” There is nothing in this budget to address Quebec's needs. Pierre Moreau called out his federal counterparts:

I would have liked to hear the Quebec caucus speak up on matters relating to the province's major infrastructure projects.

I am therefore once again asking my government friends from Quebec where they were when it was time to stand up for Quebec at the cabinet table. I have a lot of respect and regard for the member for Louis-Hébert, and he knows that. However, the president of the Quebec treasury board, the hon. Pierre Moreau, believes that the 40 federal MPs from Quebec were mostly silent, restrained, and sidelined during the preparation of the budget. I am therefore calling them to order.

Many people who believed in what this government could do were disappointed by this budget. We, on the other hand, knew full well that the government's approach to managing public funds was wrongheaded.

Now let me talk about innovation.

The current government is very proud of innovation. The Liberals say that this is the budget of innovation, and they talk a lot about innovation. The Globe and Mail reported that the Liberals used the word “innovation” more than 250 times in the budget. This is the key issue of this budget, is it not? The reality is that we are talking about $1 billion for the next five years. It is not bad, and we are not against it, but is it really an innovation budget that they are talking about? Not so much.

More than that, I just want to say something for the members. Yesterday we were around the table with some colleagues working on that, and I had the privilege of sitting with great personalities, great people who served this country well for the past 10 years as ministers. Among them, close to me, was a former minister. She said, “Look at that. They are talking about innovation, but there is nothing new there. We did exactly the same a few years ago, when I was a minister.”

The former Conservative government tabled a plan called “building Canada's innovation economy”. That is exactly what it was. We created that too, and we were not the first government to table that kind of issue, because every government has to address the issue of innovation. Year after year, in the 1960s, the 1970s, the 1980s, and the 1990s, all governments tabled innovation platforms. This is good. We did it, and the Liberals are doing it; fine, but is that worthy of being called brand new? Not at all.

This is why I just want to say to the cabinet minister that we do agree on some issues, especially about innovation, because it is the reality of Canada and the reality of every country that governments have to address the issue of innovation instead of looking at others and doing what they do.

However, the way to help businesses is to lower taxes. With the current government, there is no indication that it wants to address the reality of the Trump administration, which has said day after day that it is going to lower taxes in America. If we do not do that, our companies and businesses will not be able to respond appropriately to our most important partner and our most important competitor.

However, I still want to be a good sport and recognize the good things that this government has done, particularly in this budget, such as the support for family caregivers. This is a sensitive issue that cuts across party lines, and our government made investments. When my colleague from Richmond Centre was in government, she made some good proposals in the area.

We are pleased that the government has decided to implement these measures and to group them in a single program that will move things along. Well done. It is the right thing to do.

Unfortunately, this government missed an historic opportunity to turn things around. It had a golden opportunity to admit that the plan it implemented one and a half years ago has not yielded the desired results. If it does not turn things around and take control of spending we are going to hit a wall and our children and grandchildren will be footing the bill. Unfortunately, this government failed on that account.

The government had a golden occasion to say it would get back to controlling public spending, but unfortunately it failed. It has only created a budget that is a manufacturer of deficit. This is why we urge all the members here to reject this bad budget.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba


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

Mr. Speaker, a major part of the member's speech was about innovation. Here is a direct quote by the president and CEO of the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters, Dennis Darby, in regard to innovation:

This is a budget that puts innovation where it belongs—as a driving force behind strategies for long-term growth in manufacturing and trade to build a better future for middle-class Canadians.

Manufacturers are pleased to see government following through on our recommendation for an industry-led super cluster strategy that will focus efforts of the federal government to support advanced manufacturing and help Canadians companies to compete head-to-head in markets around the world.

The difference between the Prime Minister and prime minister Harper is that we actually listened to what Canadians had to say. We understood what it took to advance our economy. We are a government that is investing in Canadians and our economy. That is what is going to make a difference for today's middle class and those who are aspiring to be a part of it. This budget is part two of the first budget, which puts Canada on a road that many countries around the globe are very envious of.

Why does the Conservative Party continue to be out of touch with Canadians on what really matters? The creation of jobs and providing quality health care are the types of things that matter to Canadians. The Conservatives continue to want to be out of touch with reality and Canadians.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

Before going to the hon. member for Louis-Saint-Laurent, I want to remind the members that the protocol in the House is that usually one member speaks at a time. I am sure the hon. member for Winnipeg North appreciated the coaching he was getting from across the floor, but I do not believe it is necessary, and I am sure the hon. member for Louis-Saint-Laurent will not need any coaching from the other side either.

The hon. member for Louis-Saint-Laurent.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.


Gérard Deltell Conservative Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Mr. Speaker, I know that I am a real example to respect the protocol in the House, especially with my colleagues.

Let me take four words: building Canada's innovation economy. That was the program that our government tabled. We had that. We believe in innovation. We believe the success of the future of this country belongs to those who create wealth, who create jobs, and who create new technology. We believe in innovation. Let me talk about innovation in my province and the Quebec City area.

The National Optics Institute, a technology innovator and economic development tool created in the 1980s under the Mulroney government, has always had the support of our government and is backed by the current government. We were expecting funding announcements. In Quebec, the National Optics Institute is asking for an additional $25 million. Where is it? There is nothing at all in the budget about this.

For the Quebec City region, we find nothing for the port, the Institut nordique du Québec, the third road link, the bridge, BRT, or the National Optics Institute.

I have to acknowledge that the member for Québec was right: Quebec City does not have a minister in cabinet.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.


Brigitte Sansoucy NDP Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

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

We must be here in the House to make sure that the decisions we make improve the quality of life and living conditions of the people we represent. In yesterday’s budget, I really had trouble finding what will be an improvement for the people I represent.

My colleague is very familiar with my concerns about poverty. The government talks a lot about the Canada child benefit, but we know that it is not the answer to everything. Taking a closer look at yesterday’s budget, I was extremely disappointed to see that, for example, when it comes to employment insurance, not one penny has been added for women to maternity or parental benefits. For example, preventive withdrawal is now going from 8 to 12 weeks. Yesterday, I figured that there is going to be an extra four weeks, but no, the total is still 50 weeks. They will be able to start it earlier, but it will end earlier. It is the same thing for parental benefits; they will be shared differently, but there will not be any more.

We know that right now 60% of the people who pay into employment insurance each week do not have access to it. There is nothing to improve access to employment insurance.

I did not see anything that would alleviate poverty or help small and medium-size businesses in the riding I represent.

I would like to hear what my colleague has to say about that.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.


Gérard Deltell Conservative Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have a positive attitude, so I will play along. As I said, additional support for family caregivers is one of the good things in this budget. I would like to acknowledge that this is an issue that really matters to my colleague from Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot.

However, she and I both know that there is absolutely nothing in the budget in the way of help for the most vulnerable members of our society. Worse still, the government eliminated tax credits that helped businesses be more generous to their employees.

Also, on the subject of day care spaces, we had a plan to give businesses a tax credit for setting up workplace day cares, but the Liberal government got rid of that.

The member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, who represents thousands of farmers, also knows that the government abolished the tax credit for insurance for farmers and people in the fishing industry. There is precious little in this budget for farmers.

True, the government is going to do agriculture research. That is fine, and we are not against it, but there is nothing at all in this budget in the way of actual help for farmers in the field, so to speak. Plus, the government is eliminating a tax credit for insurance, which means that farmers will pay even more tax because of this big, mean government.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.


Dave Van Kesteren Conservative Chatham-Kent—Leamington, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member for Louis-Saint-Laurent is one of our great orators in the Quebec caucus, possibly one of the greatest. He is not only a great orator, but he is also an excellent critic for finance. We all respect his intense knowledge about financial matters, and he touched on one aspect, which is the enormous debt that we have accumulated, to which the current government is not only adding but adding at an alarming rate. The fact is that today we have historically low interest rates. We know that these rates will not continue. As a matter of fact, they are manipulated. Therefore, I wonder if he could expound, and he did that to some degree, and give a really clear picture to this House, and especially to the Liberal government, of just how critical that is and what that would mean if the interest rate were to rise by one point, let alone two or three.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.


Gérard Deltell Conservative Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to accept those comments from my dignified colleague. The reality is that a debt is a bill that we will be sending to our children and our grandchildren. Today we have to pay for the debt that was created during the seventies. If we put aside the war, there was no deficit in Canada. However, the deficit was created by the Trudeau Liberals in the seventies, the old Trudeau, I would say. I am sorry to say it, but that is the history.

Today we are talking about $30 billion that we have to spend to pay the debt. If there is a margin of 1%, we are talking about $7 billion more to pay just 1%. That is $7 billion less in the economy, less to help people, and less to give tax credits to people or businesses. It is less money that we can invest or that people will have in their hands to create wealth and jobs. Therefore, this is a very serious issue. When we do that, we are thinking first and foremost of our millennials. Those who are young today will have to pay for the bad administration of the current bad government.

Incident at U.K. ParliamentStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Xavier Barsalou-Duval Bloc Pierre-Boucher—Les Patriotes—Verchères, QC

Mr. Speaker, terror has struck once again.

There are no words to express how disgusted and sickened we all feel every time terrorists strike. There are no words to express how angry we feel following these life-destroying acts of barbarism and cruelty. There are no words to express the profound sadness and sorrow we feel in the wake of such tragedies. We are so fed up, disgusted, and outraged, but also incredibly saddened. Terror will not win. Terror cannot win.

Our thoughts are with the people of Great Britain, who today are still reeling from this terrible tragedy.

The Bloc Québécois offers its sincere condolences to the families and loved ones of the victims of the attack in London.

Winter Festivals in EdmontonStatements By Members

March 23rd, 2017 / 2 p.m.


Randy Boissonnault Liberal Edmonton Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise today to talk about Edmonton's winter city initiative. Thanks to the City of Edmonton's winter city initiative, Edmontonians are finding creative ways to embrace the winter months with community-wide light-ups, sparkling ice castles, and winter festivals, such as Ice on Whyte, Bright Lights Festival, and Candy Cane Lane. There is always something to do in Edmonton, even in winter.

Having lived most of my life in Alberta, I know one thing is certain.

As sure as radiant blue skies will fill our summer, and as sure as the green and gold of Edmonton's river valley will announce the arrival of autumn, the winter winds will howl once again. The energetic, enthusiastic Edmonton response will be to spin that wicked winter weather into festival gold for all to enjoy.

Thank you, winter festivals, for getting us through this past winter. We look forward to seeing you again soon, but not that soon.

Youth Programs in Central AlbertaStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Blaine Calkins Conservative Red Deer—Lacombe, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Red Deer Youth and Volunteer Centre has a new name. Youth HQ is a network of services available to youth in central Alberta, which includes Big Brothers Big Sisters of Red Deer, Boys and Girls Club of Red Deer, 49th Street Youth Shelter, and Camp Alexo.

Youth HQ empowers youth in a safe environment where they can learn and grow. The mentorship programs offered deliver outcomes such as youth who are 45% less likely to use substances, are more active, and maintain healthier lifestyles; 80% of youth involved in mentorship programs have higher literacy rates and are more likely to graduate and pursue higher education.

Since its opening in 1984, Camp Alexo has supported more than 22,000 youth who may not otherwise have had the opportunity to attend camp.

Central Alberta is enriched by these programs, and I would like to acknowledge the founders for their vision and leadership and thank the staff, volunteers, and community partners who continue to build on their legacy.

I ask all my colleagues to help me congratulate Youth HQ. Youth are the future, and Youth HQ is for them.

Retirement CongratulationsStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Greg Fergus Liberal Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, today, the parliamentary community bids a reluctant farewell to Normand Gagnon, coordinator of the parliamentary Press Gallery Secretariat.

For 30 years now, Norm has been a key ally, a friend, and sometimes even a therapist to the hundreds of journalists who have covered Parliament Hill over the years. I would even go as far as saying that he has been a media advisor to us members. He first came to the Hill with CBC/Radio-Canada. Norm then joined the extended parliamentary family, and I wonder how many journalists, members, and House staff he has known throughout his career.

However many people he has met, mentored, and befriended over the years, I know they all join with me in congratulating him on his retirement and wishing him all the best in the next chapter of his life.

Thank you, Norm.

Appointment to Saskatchewan Human Rights CommissionStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Sheri Benson NDP Saskatoon West, SK

Mr. Speaker, today, I rise to recognize the achievements of a constituent of Saskatoon West, Mr. Michael San Miguel.

Mr. San Miguel has been an active member of the Filipino community in Saskatoon and is the former president of the Filipino-Canadian Association. Mike has worked to build support for community initiatives to increase cultural awareness and diversity, youth engagement, neighbourhood safety, and access to affordable housing.

In 2010, Mr. San Miguel was awarded a leadership award by the Saskatoon Community Foundation for his volunteer efforts. Seven years later, Mike has still not stopped giving back to Saskatoon.

I am pleased, today, to congratulate Mike on his appointment to the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission.

Please join with me in recognizing Mr. Mike San Miguel for his many years of service to the people of Saskatoon. We are proud that he will continue to serve in his new capacity at the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission.

Special Olympics World Winter Games 2017Statements By Members

2 p.m.


Stéphane Lauzon Liberal Argenteuil—La Petite-Nation, QC

Mr. Speaker, from March 18 to 24, Team Canada will participate in the 2017 edition of the Special Olympics World Winter Games in Austria. Canada will be competing in six events: alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, figure skating, floor hockey, snowshoeing, and speed skating.

This is the largest team Canada to ever go to a Special Olympics World Winter Games.

Canadians across the country would like to thank all the members of Team Canada for their hard work and dedication and congratulate them for reaching the highest level in their sport.

They reflect the transformative power of sport to foster more active individuals and inclusive communities.

On behalf of all Canadians, the Government of Canada would like to congratulate the athletes, coaches, and support crew members who will don the maple leaf as part of Team Canada.

Red Deer RebelsStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Earl Dreeshen Conservative Red Deer—Mountain View, AB

Mr. Speaker, today I am honoured to stand to congratulate our hometown Canadian major junior hockey team, the Red Deer Rebels, on solidifying a spot in the WHL playoffs again this year. Of course, last year, Red Deer was host to one of the best Memorial Cup competitions ever. Hockey fans know how difficult it is to stay competitive year after year, so we are very proud to see that the Rebels have remained a top-tier team following the 2016 Memorial Cup appearance. The Sutter family and their entire leadership team deserve a tremendous amount of credit.

I would also like to acknowledge one of my former students, Dave “Radar” Horning, who has been with the Rebels since 1995 and in the WHL since 1991. Radar will be marking his 25th season as a trainer for the Rebels this year.

On behalf of the constituents of Red Deer—Mountain View, congratulations to Radar and to the entire Rebels team for their accomplishments, and good luck in the first round against the Lethbridge Hurricanes. Go Rebels go.

AbbotsfordStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Jati Sidhu Liberal Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon, BC

Mr. Speaker, Abbotsford Police cite that there have been about 50 significant violent gang-related incidents in Abbotsford since 2014, five of which were homicides.

The Abbotsford Police have developed a sophisticated approach to tackling gang violence. There are also commendable front-line efforts to steer at-risk youth away from crime, including the Abbotsford Community Services' In It Together program and the Mission Community Services Society's My House project.

Our government is pursuing a comprehensive approach by improving access to education, housing, and economic opportunities for young people while working with communities and law enforcement in British Columbia to ensure that they are receiving the necessary federal support to make it harder for criminals to acquire handguns and assault weapons. It is crucial that we continue to support our provincial and municipal partners.

Madawaska—RestigoucheStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


René Arseneault Liberal Madawaska—Restigouche, NB

Mr. Speaker, this year, we are celebrating Canada's 150th birthday.

I have the privilege of representing the beautiful and proud riding of Madawaska—Restigouche, which has become what it is today thanks to all of its founding communities: the Mi'kmaq, Maliseet, Acadians, Irish, Scottish, and British. Today, they are joined by immigrants from other places who are looking for a fresh start.

Madawaska—Restigouche covers 12,000 square kilometres in northern New Brunswick. Officially, it has a population of roughly 62,000, which works out to five people per square kilometre. Despite the challenges it faces because of its rural nature, Madawaska—Restigouche is home to many innovative entrepreneurs and hard workers.

This great country was built with the ingenuity and sweat of people in rural Canada. As we celebrate our 150th anniversary, let us remember our history and the debt of gratitude we owe to those who still, today, embody that pioneer spirit.

Although rural Canadians live far from major centres, they are doing more than ever to contribute to our country's vitality.