House of Commons Hansard #194 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was senate.

Topics

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

8 p.m.

Liberal

Alexandra Mendes Liberal Brossard—Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, that is just not true. We do accept amendments that the senators bring to bills that have been discussed, debated, and looked at by the Senate. We do not accept them all, but we accept many of the amendments that have been made. I do not know what the member is referring to.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

8 p.m.

Conservative

John Nater Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

Mr. Speaker, like my colleague from Sarnia—Lambton, I greatly enjoyed hearing the member read the Senate biographies from the Senate website into Hansard. That is always great and I appreciate in particular the member's commentary and glowing words for Senator Pratte. He is a new senator in the other place who is currently amending the budget bill in the other place, amending it to take the infrastructure bank out of the budget implementation act.

I appreciate the government's strong support for the new independent senators. Am I right to assume, given the glowing words by the member for Brossard—Saint-Lambert, that they will be accepting Senator Pratte's recommendation to split up the budget bill and break off the new infrastructure bank from the budget implementation act?

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

8 p.m.

Liberal

Alexandra Mendes Liberal Brossard—Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I obviously cannot presume what cabinet will decide. As the member so rightly pointed out, I am not cabinet. I am a member of Parliament, so I will not make that decision. I will let cabinet come to that decision.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

8 p.m.

Liberal

Greg Fergus Liberal Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, thank you for allowing me this opportunity to thank the member for Brossard—Saint-Lambert for her great intervention. I am glad that she brought up senators and the whole nomination process because the members opposite do not want to talk about the nomination process for the Senate. I am certain my hon. colleague can discuss why, and then the talk about the quality senators that we have appointed. I am glad my hon. colleague brought up the issue of Senator André Pratte, who came up with a very reasonable change to our budget bill in last year's budget, which was accepted by the government upon reflection. The Senate fulfilled its role of sober second thought and provided us with an option.

I am wondering if the hon. member could enlighten me as to what type of sober second thought the previous government had in terms of Senator Mike Duffy, or I could continue on with other senators. What types of reflection and contributions did they make to the legislative process in the other place?

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

8:05 p.m.

Liberal

Alexandra Mendes Liberal Brossard—Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would prefer to talk about the good things that our side of the House has done. I do not want to revisit the Senate's dark past.

All senators, including Senator Pratt, do meaningful work, including when they propose amendments for us to consider. In the case of the Citizenship Act, we accepted two of the three amendments proposed by the Senate. Obviously, as a government, our views will not always align with the Senate's proposals, but we take into account what the chamber of sober second thought proposes, since that is its reason for being. That is exactly why we have two chambers of Parliament.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

8:05 p.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, it certainly was very fascinating—the word I will choose to use—to listen to the member opposite talk about the Senate and do nothing more than simply read the biographies off the Internet.

We are here in this House today talking about the estimates, which really comes down to our taking taxpayers' money and allocating it into different services and provisions on behalf of the Canadian people.

My question is simple. Why does the member opposite not feel that it is necessary to speak on behalf of Canadians and take this process seriously?

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

8:05 p.m.

Liberal

Alexandra Mendes Liberal Brossard—Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I do not know why the member thinks we are not taking the process seriously. This is part of the estimates that we are discussing.

With regard to the Senate, I am not reciting a speech by rote. I believe what I just said. I believe in our Senate. I believe it has a very important role to play in our Parliament. It is a part of our Parliament. I believe we have extremely qualified senators on all sides of the chamber. Independent, Liberal, and Conservative senators do a wonderful amount of work and have a very important position in our Parliament.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

June 14th, 2017 / 8:05 p.m.

Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe New Brunswick

Liberal

Ginette Petitpas Taylor LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to thank my colleague for giving us a good overview and background on our senators.

As the member for Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe and as a member representing the province of New Brunswick, I was extremely pleased this year that we had two senators appointed, one of whom the member mentioned, Senator Cormier, who represents the Acadian population so well in my riding. Being a French Acadian girl, I was extremely proud when he was appointed to the Senate, because we have seen the amazing work that he has done. As well, Nancy Hartling, from near my riding, is another trailblazer. The member did not mention her today, but she also has a phenomenal background and has done wonderful work on violence against women. She is a strong feminist and activist. We are very proud of her.

I am wondering if my colleague could talk about the benefit of the independent process that we have, and how these independent senators benefit our House and our laws.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

8:05 p.m.

Liberal

Alexandra Mendes Liberal Brossard—Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I believe the process that has been put in place by the Prime Minister has resulted in an extremely non-partisan chamber that is fulfilling its main role, which is to provide us with a sober second thought on legislation. By choosing people who have achieved great success in their careers and their lives, we are precisely voicing what Canadians have done with their lives and what has made this country so magnificent and admirable throughout the world. Therefore, yes, I think the process is the right one, and it has taken away a lot of the partisanship in naming senators.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

8:05 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Conservative Langley—Aldergrove, BC

Mr. Speaker, I listened intently, and it was a very interesting speech, although not quite on topic. We are here to talk about the estimates. I did find the member's perspective interesting with respect to acknowledging the high quality of the appointments of senators.

What baffles me—and a lot of Canadians have asked me this—is if these are truly independent senators. If they are, why is it that the Prime Minister's Office and ministers are encouraging the senators to vote in certain ways? She said that she will be waiting for her instructions from cabinet as to how she will be voting, and we see something very similar with the senators. Why are the Liberals coaching these independent senators to vote in certain ways?

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

8:10 p.m.

Liberal

Alexandra Mendes Liberal Brossard—Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I do not even know how to begin to answer that question. I never said that I am waiting for cabinet to tell me how to vote. I have proven in this House that I vote as I see fit, and I will vote in the estimates as I see fit . That is not the question.

I did say that it is up to cabinet to decide what amendments to accept to a bill. It is not for me to decide whether I accept an amendment; that is the cabinet's role. Again, if the independent senators were not so independent, they would not be bringing back amendments that we do not necessarily agree with. I think that proves their independence.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

8:10 p.m.

Liberal

Peter Fragiskatos Liberal London North Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, we saw in the past election campaign ideas put forward by various parties on what to do with the Senate. The NDP wanted to abolish the Senate, which would have pushed us as a country into constitutional negotiations for the better part of a decade. In the difficult economic situation that the Conservatives had put us in at the time, that would have been very difficult to pursue. Mr. Harper wanted to stop appointing senators, which would have presented constitutional issues in and of itself.

We are pursuing a different path, a merit-based process. I wonder if the hon. member could comment on the utility of that and the fact that this is quite realistic, quite prudent, and in fact matches with what constitutional experts across the country have talked about and advised.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

8:10 p.m.

Liberal

Alexandra Mendes Liberal Brossard—Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, my colleague's question is very much what we hear constituents telling us: that they appreciate this new process, they appreciate the transparency with which we are doing it, and they appreciate the fact that the senators who have been named so far really do prove to have incredible merits and represent very well the successes of our country.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

8:10 p.m.

Conservative

Kevin Sorenson Conservative Battle River—Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise in the House again tonight. I will be splitting my time with the member for Sarnia—Lambton.

I appreciated the speech I just heard, and before I get into my remarks, my colleague the vice-chair from public accounts committee expressed very good comments and much confidence in the Senate. We will wait to see what the government does with the budget bill that the Senate will send back with all the amendments. We will see if she is bragging about the members of the Senate then. However, it is good to follow the member from the Liberal Party.

I am pleased to speak during the debate on the main estimates and this government's mismanagement of the Canadian economy. The main estimates are a publication from the federal Government of Canada. They detail the Liberal economic plan, how it has failed, and how Canadians are the ones ending up paying for it. Most disappointing is that we can see item by item, line by line, that the main estimates are telling us that the Liberal government's only solution to the problems it is facing is to try to manage on behalf of Canadians by borrowing more money, spending more money, and putting our children and grandchildren into bigger debt.

The biggest problem with this borrowed money is that in the long term it affects Canadian workers, families, and jobs. Economic forecasts suggest it could be 2055 before the government again has a balanced budget, unless, of course, Canadian voters decide to elect a Conservative government as soon as possible to stop the skyrocketing debt the Government of Canada is piling up.

On May 30 of this year, a few days ago, the parliamentary budget officer released a report entitled “Following the Dollar: Tracking Budget 2016 Spending and Tax Measures”. This document is important because it provides Canadians with an independent analysis of the Liberal government's finances.

In the annual federal budget, the government outlines its fiscal plan, including additional spending for ongoing programs, new spending initiatives, and changes to taxation. I want to highlight some of the findings in the parliamentary budget officer's document. For example, the parliamentary budget officer says, “...many spending measures had more funding or less funding in fiscal year 2016-17 than indicated in the budget (31 per cent)”.

The people of Battle River—Crowfoot, the investors on Bay Street and around the world, the middle class and, as they would say, those trying to join the middle class are disappointed that the Liberals were 30% wrong in their budgetary calculations. Imagine: 31% of the Liberal budget was wrong in its projections. In the private sector, accountants, number crunchers, forecasters, chief financial officers, and other executives would be in serious trouble if one-third of their facts and figures were wrong. They might be fired from their jobs for such a 30% error.

Small businesses around my constituency and across our country cannot survive and stay in business if they are one-third wrong on their budgetary estimates. Obviously they would be poor managers, and those businesses would undoubtedly lose business. However, the Liberals are confident that if things go off the rails, even by 30%, they can simply borrow more money off the backs of taxpayers in the next federal budget.

The parliamentary budget officer also found that 8% of the Liberals' spending measures “were not provided funding through the supplementary estimates.” This is important because it means that 8% of the budget was never funded. These budgetary announcements—“announcement” being the key word—were never paid for. They do not exist. The middle class and those trying to join it have been shortchanged by the Liberals by almost 10%.

Is this another tax, to simply withhold 8% to 10% of what they promised? Is this another way of promising something, then not delivering on it, and hoping no one notices?

The parliamentary budget officer noticed and we noticed. The parliamentary budget officer's report said, “That is, they were not implemented as stated in Budget 2016.” The Liberals promise, and then they break the promise. The current government should get an A for announcement and a D for delivery. It should get an A for making those wonderful promises to municipalities, and wonderful promises to Canadians, but when it comes right down to delivering, the budget officer said it is failing.

I hope the Canadian electorate tires of this talking the talk, but not walking the walk. I hope the voters do something in the very next election. The parliamentary budget officer is so very diplomatic in the way he makes these comments, much like our Auditor General. As chair of the public accounts committee, I have learned that Canada's auditors general, including our current Auditor General, are for the most part very matter of fact when they comment on the government's performances. The parliamentary budget officer, another officer of Parliament, carefully said, “...which suggests that the Government may need to improve its funding processes or its estimation methodology for spending measures included in the budget.”

Therefore, what makes this credibility gap that the Liberals are the architects of even more tough is, and I will again quote the parliamentary budget officer report. He said:

Moreover, there is no clear line of sight from budget announcements to their implementation. The different presentation, wording and accounting methodology makes it challenging to align budget spending measures with items included in the estimates. And it is not possible to track spending on most budget measures beyond the first year or what was actually spent on specific measures. It is thus very difficult for parliamentarians to follow the dollar and hold the government to account for implementing its fiscal plan, as outlined in the budget.

This would be brilliant if it were not so scary or so nefarious. It almost makes one wonder if this is some type of devious plan concocted by our finance minister and President of the Treasury Board, who is here tonight, so we can throw him in there too, both of whom should know better. An alternative explanation would be simple incompetence. Canadians do not want to believe that those in charge of Canadians' fiscal situation are so incompetent, but the facts and the figures they present cannot even be traced or linked to reality. That is according to the parliamentary budget officer, and yet Canadians do not want to believe that the books are cooked.

Even an accountant has a difficult time following the money trail left by the current government. Worst of all, we parliamentarians are supposed to be able to examine what has been done by the Liberal government, and debate these things during main estimates debate, for example, like we are doing here tonight. Canadians rely on us to spend the time going over these books: the budget, the estimates, the supplementary estimates, and even the public accounts of Canada. Canadians should be able to depend on and believe that these expenditures by the Liberal government are what it says they are.

Therefore, what do the Liberals do? They present this House with a budget that reads almost like a plate of spaghetti, and then they challenge the members of Parliament to follow each noodle of their expenditures of taxpayers' dollars, and make political and policy decisions on the success or failure of these expenditures. The Liberals make it as hard as possible to follow the expenditures. The average member of Parliament has very great difficulty following the promised expenditure to the actual expense. Liberal backbenchers do not have to read or study this; they just accept what the finance minister says. They are basically told, “Do not bother about that, we will give you your talking points; you're new, over the years you'll learn how to do this.” However, even the parliamentary budget officer says the methodology of working through this is difficult.

I have concentrated my comments on the work of the parliamentary budget officer. The Liberal government is scrambling the facts and figures we are debating tonight in the budgetary main estimates, and I believe dishonestly.

The budget officer tries to withhold the frustration of that office, and the PBO gently calls for more streamlined reporting in the budget process, a little more transparency and methodology.

I am thankful for the opportunity, on behalf of Battle River—Crowfoot, to bring forward some of the concerns we have with the government, the main estimates, and with its spending.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

8:20 p.m.

Kings—Hants Nova Scotia

Liberal

Scott Brison LiberalPresident of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to rise in the House tonight and participate in this debate. However, I found it curious that the hon. member, who had been a member of the previous government, has a very selective memory when it comes to the fiscal record of that government.

The Harper government inherited the best fiscal situation of any incoming government in Canadian history, a $13 billion surplus. During the good times, that government not only eliminated that surplus, it put Canada into a deficit before the 2008 financial crisis. It then went on to add $150 billion to the national debt, and all we got out of it were a few gazebos and a fake lake. We also had the worst growth record under that Harper government that we had since the Great Depression.

The Liberals are making in investments, implementing progressive tax cuts, and providing Canadian middle class and low income families with the help they need right now. That is working. That is why we have had the best growth in the last six months than we have had in 10 years in Canada, and the creation of 250,000 new jobs.

Why is that hon. member opposed to the kinds of important investments that can move Canadian families forward, build more livable communities, and a more competitive economy?

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

8:20 p.m.

Conservative

Kevin Sorenson Conservative Battle River—Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, I love the rhetoric coming from the President of the Treasury Board. Make no mistake, when the Conservatives came to power in 2006, he is correct, there was a surplus, almost a $9 billion surplus. They undoubtedly did like former Prime Minister Martin did in overtaxing Canadians. There was no question. There was no recession. Those were in very good times.

In 2007 and 2008, the world went into a recession. Canada was the last to go into the recession. The Liberal Party and the NDP were begging for the government to spend like drunken sailors. We know how drunken sailors spend. We can see how they are doing it today. We paid down $40 billion in debt. Yes, we went into deficit while the whole world was going into deficit to kick-start the economy. When the Conservatives left power, we were not in a recession, we balanced the budget, and we told Canadians that as long as there was growth in the economy, we would balance the budget. We would keep our spending in line.

The other thing that is forgotten is that the Conservatives encouraged Canadians to save through things like a tax free savings account. There are no options like that brought forward in a budget, nothing shown in the estimates. The Liberal government only cares about spending. It does not care about seniors or the average Canadian. It is a shame. The Conservatives will solve it in 2019.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

8:25 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, I want to follow-up on the comments made by the Treasury Board minister.

First, the member opposite accused this government of talking the talk, but not walking the walk. If there was any experience in that kind of talking the talk and not walking the walk, it was the previous government with cuts to the RCMP, services, EI, the public service, and to pretty near everything known to man.

Let us talk about the progress this government is making. Here is a quote from today's Globe and Mail, “The Bank of Canada sent out more signals Tuesday that it's moving closer to an interest-rate hike as the economy continues to strengthen.” A quote from the Governor of the Bank of Canada, “The economy is gathering momentum, and not just in certain spots but across a much- wider array.”

That is because of things this government is doing, and because of things the Treasury Board minister talked about. This government is talking the talk and walking the walk, and we are investing in Canadian—

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

8:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

The hon. member for Battle River—Crowfoot.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

8:25 p.m.

Conservative

Kevin Sorenson Conservative Battle River—Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals are not walking the walk; they are following along. They are caught in the wake behind the Unites States economy. That is a fact.

When we went into the global downturn, the United States and every G7 country had gone into that downturn as well. Canada was the last to go in. Why? It is because we paid down our debt by $40 billion. We lowered our taxes. We lowered the GST, and we lowered taxes for every Canadian. The average family in the time the Conservative party was governing had $6,600 more in their pockets than they have today.

We were the last to go into the recession, and first to come out. Why? It is because international investors understood we were going to get our house in order. Why are those same investors today going to China? Why are they selling-off all our goods to China? It is because it is hard to find investors here in Canada that believe the government in the long-term has the economy in mind. The government fails. It spends, but it is not concerned with balancing budgets and fiscal management.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

8:25 p.m.

Conservative

Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Mr. Speaker, what a surprise it is to be in the House tonight and to have more than three government members here at this time and to have them so passionate about the debate on estimates.

As usual, I am going to try not to say the same things everyone else has brought to this debate. I am going to try to add a few different perspectives.

In my past experience, I was a global leader in a multinational business. We had a budgeting process. We had a process to look at estimates. The first thing we needed to be sure of were the desired outcomes we were hoping to accomplish. That was the first question. Second, how much did we estimate the plans we needed to put in place to achieve those outcomes would cost? Third, could we afford to do them all, and if we could not afford to do them all, how would we prioritize them? What were the most important ones? Once we had that plan and the estimates associated with it, how would we track it as we went along to see how our spending was happening. Was it happening as we planned or not?

That ought to be the goal of this estimates discussion tonight. We should be looking at the estimates and we should be able to see what the desired outcomes are, what the plans are, how much each of those costs, and what the priorities are so we can then track them.

I would say that there is not a lot of disagreement about the desired outcomes of the budget. We have heard what they are, because it is the rhetoric we hear all the time. Everyone wants the middle class to do well. Everyone wants to raise people out of poverty. We want to help our seniors. We want to help our veterans. We want to defend our country. We want to help our families. Everyone in the House is on that page for those desired outcomes.

However, when I look at the estimates, it is very convoluted as far as how much we are really spending, when we are spending it, and how we will track it. There is some room for improvement.

Another thing we can look at is the gender part of budget 2017 and the estimates that come from that. As the chair of status of women, we certainly devoted a lot of time to coming up with a very detailed report on gender-based analysis-plus. There were recommendations that were accepted by the government that it was to implement, but so far, none of them have been implemented.

Although these estimates were apparently developed with GBA-plus in mind, there is no transparency from the government on what analysis was done, what exactly came of it, and what changes were actually made. That is not clear to me. If it is not clear to me, then it is not clear to other Canadians.

The other report we did at status of women that was critical was on taking action to eliminate violence against women and girls. One out of three or one out of four women in Canada will experience violence. This is a huge issue. If we look to the estimates, we see that the government is planning to spend $100 million over five years. That is $20 million a year to handle violence against women, which affects one in three or one in four women in Canada.

How does that relate to other priorities? The government is going to spend more than three times that amount to collect statistical data. That is how important eliminating violence against women is. It is more important to collect data than to do that. Again, when it comes to the priorities we see in the estimates, I take some exception to that.

Another subject I would like to talk about is pay equity, because of course, I was also able to serve on the pay equity committee, three times a week for about three hours a night, to make sure that we, in a hurry, came with recommendations for the government. We did come with recommendations, and again, there is nothing in these estimates to address that. There is no progress on those initiatives. While the government claims to be a feminist government that is about gender equality, I really have to question that. I do not see it reflected at all in the estimates.

We are currently studying how to improve the economic status of women in Canada. One of the things we are looking at are the barriers to women improving their economic security. One of them, of course, is child care. We saw earlier this week that the government had an announcement on that. It is talking about maybe 40,000 spots, which is about 100 or 120 per riding. It is totally inadequate for the need. The government is counting on the provinces to do the right thing and implement that in a way that will actually come with spaces.

We see in places like Quebec, which has child care that is subsidized, that there are issues with not only the quality of the care but the flexibility of the hours of the care, and there is also a huge waiting list. It is still inadequate to meet the needs. What is in the estimates certainly does not reflect what needs to happen.

The other thing I would say about the budgeting and estimates process is that in the real world, we come with our estimates and have no more money to spend after that. There seems to be a philosophy here that if we come to the end of the money, we just get a supplement. I sit on the liaison committee, and I watch continually as officials come with the estimate of what they are going to spend. They spend that, and then they come with supplementary estimates for what else they want to spend, and the Liberals approve that, and then they go again. This is not the way Canadian taxpayers want us to manage their funds. We need to be responsible with their funds. We need to put our plans in place and stick to our budget, and that is how it should work.

The government makes it worse by giving Canadians messages that it is not open and transparent. When we have asked for information on the carbon tax, it has been rejected. When people misrepresent facts here in the House of Commons and they are proven later, it erodes the credibility of the government. When there is not clarity in the estimates, people will say that the government has not been credible in some areas, so can they really believe that the money is going where they think it is? That is something that needs to be addressed.

On the subject of deficits, Canadians clearly supported a small $10-billion deficit, but then it got way out of control and was $30 billion, and it is going to be $30 billion again this year. The problem is that eventually, we are going to be paying $10 billion a year in interest payments on the deficit we have racked up, especially with interest rates that may go up. I do not see that reflected, and I am concerned about the ongoing sustainability of that.

I also need to comment on the science budget, because I am the critic for science, so I should have something to say about the estimates and what is happening there. There is an important review, the Naylor report, which looks at science and how we should change things. The report came in December 2016. It has 32 recommendations, but they are not reflected anywhere in the estimates. We know the value of what we are going to do is not zero, so there should not be zero in the estimates. There should be something, some plan, some amount of allotment the government would dedicate to that, because there are some very worthy recommendations in the Naylor report. I would be happy to give a speech another day and give a dissertation on that 300-page report.

The estimates should reflect the legislative priority as well, but I do not see that there really is a legislative priority. The government seems to be spending a lot of time discussing things that have already happened. We spent hours here talking about Bill C-24, which is a bill to address the salaries of the ministers and make the junior ones equivalent to the senior ones and to eliminate six economic ministers. Those actions have already been taken, but we spent all kinds of time in the House talking about it after it was already done. Obviously, we are not reflecting the priorities of the government.

There have only been 19 pieces of legislation passed, compared to 52 by the previous government, and of those 19, 10 were budgetary.

In terms of the estimates, we need to make sure that, once again, we come back to what they do in the real world. We know what the desired outcomes are, but we have to get clarity about the plans and how much they really cost so we can track them. We also have to give consideration to whether we can afford them all. Sometimes we cannot afford to do everything we want to do, and we have to draw the line. I would encourage the government to be more fiscally responsible and to not say yes to everything. It should have priorities and do what is important for Canadians.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

8:35 p.m.

Kings—Hants Nova Scotia

Liberal

Scott Brison LiberalPresident of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, we are making important investments with which I believe the hon. member would be in agreement. Investments in public transit and green infrastructure are part of these estimates. She mentioned the Naylor report. There are investments in the post-secondary institutions strategic investment fund, the SIF fund, which is specifically investing in post-secondary research infrastructure across Canada. She mentioned women. There is investment in social infrastructure to help families, including social housing. As a government, we have provided to low-income and middle-income families, through the Canada child benefit, a remarkable boost. A low-income single parent making $30,000 a year would be $6,000 better off under our plan.

We are investing in a lot of the priorities she says she supports, and I take her at her word, but she is not talking about those investments. Let us get back to talking about some of the specific investments we are making.

She has talked about making the budget and estimates process more transparent. I agree with her, and that is why we are moving forward with, and have in fact implemented, purpose-based budgeting in some departments, though we want to do more; reconciliation of cash in accrual accounting to make it easier for not just parliamentarians but Canadians broadly to understand the process; and results-based reporting for departments, including a new departmental results framework that focuses on what the departments are investing in and what they are actually accomplishing.

She also mentioned the sequencing of the main estimates. She mentioned that we should be doing things more like other governments. Perhaps she was referencing the private sector. In no other environment does it really make sense to have the main estimates before we have the budget. One of our proposals is that we have the budget and then we have the main estimates following the budget, such that it reflects the priorities of the government and we can have legitimate debate in the House on the main estimates and have the main estimates really mean something. Would she support that kind of change?

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

8:40 p.m.

Conservative

Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to correct the President of the Treasury Board on one point, and that is that there are no estimates that have to do with the Naylor report in this particular main estimates discussion. Those will come in the supplementary estimates, probably later this year.

With respect to his question on infrastructure, I do not think we should confuse infrastructure press releases with actual infrastructure projects. Of the 1,200 projects out there, I understand that between 5% and 10% actually have shovels in the ground. In fact, the construction industry in the country has decreased by 16%. That is of concern, because while I think we intended to implement infrastructure spending to get the kind of economic growth we wanted, we really have not seen infrastructure projects move along as well as they could.

In terms of the transparency of the budgeting process, I absolutely support the President of the Treasury Board's comments that we need to get estimates before budgets. That makes sense and is what is done elsewhere. It would also be more transparent. The government can say what it intended to do and then what it actually spent.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

8:40 p.m.

Conservative

Randy Hoback Conservative Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, in Saskatchewan in 2008-09, the global recession hit. It was interesting to see how the Conservative government at the time reacted, the decisions it made, the transparency, how the infrastructure money flowed out to communities, and how it was spent. It was spent on water systems, treatment plants, roads, and sewers. The infrastructure projects were vital for the people of Saskatchewan and right across Canada.

The member talks about transparency in the estimates. When she was in Ontario in 2008-09, there was a totally different picture. Can she tell me how transparency would relate to the fact that we do not want to see the mistakes they made in Ontario repeated here in Ottawa?

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

8:40 p.m.

Conservative

Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Mr. Speaker, Ontario has had a troubled past, especially under the Wynne Liberal government.

With respect to the rollouts, we spent a lot of money on power projects and renewable energy projects that were 86¢ per kilowatt hour, compared to 4¢ for coal and 8¢ for nuclear. This drove the cost of electricity up, which we are still struggling with in terms of small businesses and our ability to attract industry to us. Under the Conservative government, my riding received a lot of infrastructure money and put a lot of projects in place to address waste water, city sewers, roads, and a lot of the things that got the construction business going. Currently, under the Liberal government, I have been looking for $12 million of infrastructure money to create 3,000 jobs in my riding for an oversized-load corridor. It has been two years, and we are not anywhere yet.

Bill C-49—Notice of time allocation motionTransportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

8:40 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, I would like to advise that agreement could not reached under the provisions of Standing Order 78(1) or 78(2) with respect to the second reading stage of Bill C-49, an act to amend the Canada Transportation Act and other acts respecting transportation and to make related and consequential amendments to other acts.

Under the provisions of Standing Order 78(3), I give notice that a minister of the crown will propose at the next sitting a motion to allot a specific number of days or hours for the consideration and disposal of proceedings at the said stage.