House of Commons Hansard #353 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was balanced.


The House resumed from October 3 consideration of the motion.

Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with DisabilitiesPrivate Members' Business

11:05 a.m.


The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Resuming debate, the hon. member for Kingston and the Islands has eight minutes remaining in his speech.

Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with DisabilitiesPrivate Members' Business

11:05 a.m.


Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will attempt to pick up where I left off on this when we last debated it. I do again want to thank the member for Mississauga East—Cooksville for bringing forward this motion.

I know that one of the criticisms that we heard a little bit when the debate happened in the first hour was the fact that this was only focused on one particular area of the country. I think that when we look at one area rather than the entire country as a whole, we have the opportunity to see exactly and to dive deeper into the issues that are affecting the trades and why we are getting people to start work and careers in the trades.

For that reason, it would be very prudent of this House to pass this motion that directs the HUMA committee to look specifically at this one area of the country, a very important and largely populated area, so that decisions and recommendations can be made to this House in terms of how the government can bring policy forward that will better create opportunities and encourage people to get into the trades.

I know that when I was last speaking in the first hour of debate that I briefly mentioned an individual who is a TV personality named Mike Rowe in the U.S. who has programs called Dirty Jobs and Somebody's Gotta Do It. Basically, what he attempts to do in these shows is to highlight the fact that there are jobs out there that for some reason many people are no longer interested in getting. He exposes us to why it is important that people fill these jobs and how the jobs can be huge opportunities for people to make a lot of money and have well-meaning jobs for years to come. To understand why there is this shortage, we might want to look back at how we got to this shortage. Something else that I mentioned in the first hour of debate is that I think, personally, it has to do a little bit with the fact that when we as parents look at our children, we want to encourage them to grow up to be better than we are.

I think back to my grandparents who immigrated here after the Second World War, from Holland and Italy. When they got here, they were individuals on both sides of the family who worked tough, rigorous construction jobs in various trades and fields of employment. For that matter, it was both my grandmothers and grandfathers. All they wanted was to see their children become better people than what they thought they were, in professions such as doctors, lawyers and politicians. Therefore, they encouraged them to go to school, to graduate and go to university so that their children could have what they perceived as more professionally aspiring careers.

What we have done through this process over several generations is to create a stereotype that says if one wants to be a carpenter, mason, plumber or an electrician, there is something wrong. That means one has decided to take a second-tier career. In reality, as we see today, those jobs can pay massive dividends in terms of one's ability to grow as an individual or to provide for themselves and their families. As a matter of fact, it has been said that by the year 2020 in Canada, we will have a skilled trade shortage of roughly a million people.

There are some interesting statistics that I have been able to research, between the time we first debated this and now. A 2007 study found that Canada has 361,000 job vacancies, of which 38,000 are in the construction industry, which equates to more than 10% in Canada. Construction is the third-largest industry for job vacancies in Canada. A shortage of skilled labour could bring a challenge to delivering infrastructure projects in Ontario, which is exactly what we are seeing here and why the hon. member has brought this forward. He is relating this back to the housing shortage. There are just not enough people to work in various different jobs.

Therefore, what we are seeing is an opportunity. I am really happy to see that the way this has been brought forward is to look at how the government could develop policy and bring in direction to make sure these opportunities can be realized by people who might have an interest in them.

While I am on the topic of opportunities, I will relate this back to a private member's bill I introduced into the House that is currently before the Senate. It has to do with females who want to get into construction and hazardous work. It would probably be even more burdensome for a female than a male to become a plumber or electrician or carpenter. That is why we see in Canada only 4% of the skilled trades are currently held by women. In the construction fields, more specifically, only 0.5% of the construction jobs are filled by women. This would give an amazing opportunity to start to fill some of these positions with women who want to get into trades. There are many women who do, like Melodie Ballard, a welder, who comes from my community. She has faced some challenges because the government does not have the necessary programs and policies in place to make sure that happens.

I am very supportive of the motion. I am glad to see that the member for Mississauga East—Cooksville has brought it forward. There is a great opportunity here to study what is going on in the GTA, and the Hamilton area specifically, to develop some policies that could be brought forward that the government could implement. Later on down the road, we can see how we could extend those to other parts of the country.

This is exactly what we need. It is extremely timely, given some of the shortages we have. I look forward to seeing how we can continue to advance not just this particular bill, but this topic. This is going to become one of the biggest challenges for Canada in terms of how we are going to continue to physically build the infrastructure we need to sustain our country.

Thank you, Madam Speaker, for allowing me to finish my speech in the second hour of debate on this. I look forward to continuing to hear the debate this morning and voting in favour of the bill when we get to that point.

Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with DisabilitiesPrivate Members' Business

11:10 a.m.


Colin Carrie Conservative Oshawa, ON

Madam Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to speak before the House today on Motion No. 190, tabled by my colleague, the member for Mississauga East—Cooksville, on this very important topic. Before I begin, I would like to thank my colleague for his work and for bringing this topic to the attention of the House. I certainly enjoy serving with him on the international trade committee.

This motion asks that the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities be instructed to undertake a study on labour shortages of the greater Toronto and Hamilton area, in particular, in the construction industry, and to analyze models used in Atlantic Canada.

I am very pleased to have this topic brought to the attention of the House as it will be of the utmost importance for the years to come.

Adam Morrison, vice-president of the non-profit Ontario Tourism Education Corporation, characterized the labour shortage problem as “a slow-motion train wreck you've always been told is coming.” I believe as parliamentarians we have an obligation to make the best recommendations so we can ensure that we can contain as much of the damage as possible. Therefore, I believe this is a very worthwhile study.

As was mentioned previously, in the next decade Canada will see more than one-fifth of its construction labour force retire. The construction industry is one of the backbones of Canada's economy, certainly in my community of Oshawa. It employed 712,000 people in 1996. Today, that number has grown to 1.4 million Canadians. However, by 2027, about 21% of the labour force will be older than 65 years old. To add to that, young people are not joining the workforce in these trades fast enough to fill this gap, which makes finding skilled labour difficult for companies.

Because of the demand in increase for construction in the greater Toronto and Hamilton area, the GTHA, the labour shortage is more acutely felt. The association representing the masonry, block and stone industry has warned that the labour shortage that currently exists, and which will get larger with time, will create extreme difficulties for delivering on the many infrastructure projects the government has planned.

While I am excited to see the booming construction sector all around the GTHA, I believe it is our responsibility to develop the tools to help companies address this labour shortage. If we do not, companies will have a much harder time completing projects on time or will have to stop taking on more projects because they do not have the resources to provide the level of service they know they can provide, which affects families, communities and entire regions. Canadians are very hard-working and they want to work more. Therefore, we have to help them with that.

In the absence of federal leadership, organizations have already started to work to solve this problem. For example, in my region of Oshawa, the Durham District School Board hosts information sessions on the Ontario youth apprenticeship program, a school-to-work program that opens the doors for students to explore and work in apprenticeship occupations. This can show parents how viable a career in the skilled trades is for their kids. Parents always want the best for their children and just need to be reminded what a wonderful career they can have in these fields. The board also holds a number of tours so students can actually see what working in the shops is like and get some hands-on activities.

Unfortunately, the problem is not contained to the construction industry. The Ontario Chamber of Commerce members cite the inability to find new employees as one of their biggest obstacles, according to a survey released in February. Of the 60% of businesses looking to hire in the last six months of 2016, 82% of them said they had experienced difficulty finding employees.

The issue spans across sectors, affecting for example the retail and service industry sectors as well. There is no shortage of stories of restaurant owners having to close down on certain days because they do not have enough staff or hotels having to close down entire floors because they cannot staff the rooms.

Over 90% of Canadian businesses are small and medium-sized businesses. This year, BDC, the Business Development Bank of Canada, conducted a survey of 1,208 entrepreneurs from SMEs and found that 40% of them are having difficulties finding new employees. Because of a retiring workforce, Canada's labour growth is forecast to fall near zero. This affects the growth capacity of companies and affects all Canadians, because when businesses are thriving, Canada thrives.

I would like to echo what my colleague from Foothills mentioned earlier in his remarks. This problem is not confined to the GTHA. The problem in the construction sector is also acutely felt in British Columbia and Atlantic Canada. In British Columbia, for example, nearly one in 25 jobs are going unfilled. According to the Canadian Federation for Independent Business, 3.9% of jobs were unfilled in the fourth quarter of 2018.

In fact, one does not even have to leave the province to find out that there is a labour shortage problem. Many rural areas in Ontario are struggling to attract and retain talent and workers. The jobs are there, but there are barriers, such as transportation, that must be discussed so that we can find solutions that work for all Canadians. Canadians living in rural areas face challenges starkly different from the ones those living in the GTHA face. However, that does not mean that we should not take the time to carefully examine the issues they face.

One often cited barrier is that young Canadians and their parents do not see a career in the trades as a viable option for them or their children. The current government has, unfortunately, failed in changing that perspective. Through its actions and comments, it has made Canada an unattractive country for energy investments and has shut down projects that would have created many jobs in the trades and in these sectors. If we look at Bill C-69, as an example, it would basically guarantee that no major resource project would ever be built again in Canada. What kind of message does that send kids who would like to get into the trades?

To add to that, instead of doing what was best for Canadians and Canadian workers, the government decided to snub its nose at our ally again and again. Now we find ourselves with a bad trade deal for Canada, the UMCA, and with section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum still in place. Again, what kind of message does that send to young people looking for jobs in those industries?

Throughout our study on the Standing Committee on International Trade on the impact of these tariffs on the steel and aluminum sector, we have heard over and over again that the situation is dire. Companies are shutting down, moving to other jurisdictions or reducing shifts. In this environment, it makes it very difficult to encourage young Canadians to pursue careers in the trades.

Like my colleagues, I will be supporting this study, because I believe that it would address a very important issue. I believe that with good recommendations, we can help the businesses and hard-working people in my riding of Oshawa. However, I think we should expand the scope of the study to include all of Canada, because this is an issue that does not discriminate based on geography. It affects people in every province, in urban and rural communities. It would also provide an opportunity for Canadians to show how innovative we can be. It would allow us the opportunity to come up with solutions to these complex problems. I look forward to receiving the results of this study when presented in the House.

A very important thing is happening here in the House this week. The Minister of Finance is tabling an economic update, or, in other words, where the priorities of the current government are.

As I said in my speech, I believe that this is an incredible motion to bring forward at this time. However, I do not see the same commitment from the government in what it says and what it does. We are hearing over and over again how uncompetitive a place Canada is to do business in, whether that is the uncertainty of new regulations, and I mentioned Bill C-69, or, as I mentioned, the uncertainty moving forward, as the government wants to bring forward a carbon tax, which each and every one of us in the House is going to be affected by. It will affect each and every Canadian, each and every family, not only on direct costs for things they buy in the energy resource sector but also downstream, whether it is groceries, heating buildings or more taxes for municipalities. It is going to affect every aspect of Canadians' lives.

I will be supporting this motion, but I do not have high expectations, because this motion alone is not going to fix the problems Canada is facing. We hope the government takes these issues seriously, especially in regard to competitiveness, because human resources are only a piece of it. We look forward to the minister's economic update later this week.

Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with DisabilitiesPrivate Members' Business

11:20 a.m.


Karine Trudel NDP Jonquière, QC

Madam Speaker, I want to begin by thanking my colleague for moving Motion No. 190.

The problems addressed in this motion are as bad as they have ever been and will keep getting worse if we do not take action now, so the committee needs to study them. This is an issue of real concern to us all, and we have got to find sustainable solutions.

The labour shortage affects the entire country, even my riding, Jonquière. That is why I would like the committee to look at the impact in places other than the GTA and Hamilton and to consider sectors other than construction. Many sectors and many parts of Canada have critical labour shortages. Still, this is a start, and I hope that the recommendations in the report will be relevant to every member's region, including my own.

We know the problem is not going to go away on its own. According to Pierre Cléroux, chief economist at the Bank of Canada, quite a lot of people think the shortage is temporary. It is not. On the contrary, the labour shortage is likely to get worse over time. We are seeing signs of that all across the country. Restaurants have no choice but to close their doors at the end of the summer because there are no workers to be found. There are customers aplenty, but restaurants hire students in the summer, and nobody else is available to do those jobs when the students go back to school in the fall.

Some farmers lose their crops because they do not have enough workers to harvest their fruits and vegetables. That is not to mention another problem that we are experiencing in Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean, namely a serious lack of welders and other skilled workers. Businesses have to contact their competitors and ask them to lend them welders so that they can fulfill their contractual obligations. That makes no sense. In my region, there are many jobs going unfilled, and it is a serious problem.

Ensuring that skilled workers are available to meet labour demands is a responsibility the government should take very seriously. A more sustainable and equitable solution would be to see Canadian workers, employers, unions, educational institutions, and federal and provincial governments working together strategically to meet our labour force goals.

According to a Conference Board of Canada report, the wave of retirements, combined with the declining birth rate, will create a labour shortage that will continue to grow for years. Something needs to be done. Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean is already feeling the effects of the labour shortage. In 20 years, Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean has gone from having a shortage of jobs to having a shortage of workers. I never thought I would see that. It is estimated that the region's population will increase by only 0.4% from 2016 to 2021, while the population of Quebec as a whole will increase by 3.8%. If this situation continues, over the long term, the revenue generated by SMEs could diminish because there are not enough workers.

The forestry industry is also an important economic driver in my region. The future of Quebec's forestry industry depends on new employment access policies for women and indigenous peoples and on better targeted immigration strategies to deal with the labour crisis in our plants. This labour shortage is already having a negative impact on economic growth in my region of Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean.

In March 2018, at the Action Économique conference in Alma, the CEO of Béton préfabriqué du Lac said, “We invested $25 million in our plants outside Canada, but we invested zero dollars [in those in Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean]. Why? There are no workers.”

Several initiatives are already under way to solve this problem in order to make the region more appealing and attract workers.

Let me share an example of something that happened recently, about two weeks ago, in my riding. The Saguenay-Le Fjord chamber of commerce and industry organized an event to woo about 30 immigrants who have arrived in Quebec over the past five years. The purpose of the event was to encourage those workers, whom our economy badly needs, to settle in the Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean region.

I went to the airport to welcome them personally. An entire day was set aside for them to meet with employers, bring their CVs and tour businesses. The event was an effort to attract workers to our region, and I hope it pays off, because we really need them.

I would also like to talk about other organizations in my riding, such as Place aux jeunes en région and Carrefour jeunesse-emploi Saguenay, which are doing a wonderful job of recruiting and attracting people from outside our region, keeping them in our region and facilitating their integration. I personally applaud their efforts. As an example, the goals of Place aux jeunes en région include preventing and slowing the exodus of young people to large urban centres, promoting and facilitating the professional integration of young people in the region, supporting and promoting the social engagement of young people in the region, educating young people, those close to them and local stakeholders about the impact of the exodus, and encouraging business creation in the region.

In Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean, four migration officers are posted to different areas. The migration officer is the resource person for matters related to youth migration, settlement and retention in the region. The migration officer's mission is to attract a growing number of young people to the area they represent.

Migration officers are front-line, well-informed resources who support young people and engage the community. Their job is to support young people remotely through the process of settling in the region, organize and run familiarization visits, be familiar with the labour needs of local businesses and with local economic development projects, and post job offers and regional news. They also work with local employers to help them find qualified graduates to hire, encourage local teens to see the potential in their home region and learn about local labour needs, and make their community aware of the consequences of the youth exodus and come up with strategies to welcome and retain young people.

In a region like mine, Saguenay—Lac Saint-Jean, retaining young people is very important, but we also have to ensure that immigrants who come to our region find the resources they need to tour businesses and to settle in our region for good.

Those are the reasons I will be voting in favour of Motion No. 190. A study of this kind would help us make the economy more dynamic and competitive and ensure that employers get the workers they need and that workers get the opportunities they deserve.

Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with DisabilitiesPrivate Members' Business

11:30 a.m.


Rob Oliphant Liberal Don Valley West, ON

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak in favour of Motion No. 190, “That the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities be instructed to undertake a study on the labour shortages of the greater Toronto and Hamilton Area.”

I want to thank the member for Mississauga East—Cooksville for his ongoing passion for, and work on, this issue.

One-fifth of Ontario's current construction workforce will be retiring in the next 10 years. Sustaining industry capacity through recruitment and training efforts is, and will continue to be, a high priority for industry leaders. The number of major refurbishment, infrastructure and transportation projects is expected to rise significantly in the coming decade, and even today these projects are developing at a rapid pace across the country.

Parts of my riding of Don Valley West feel like an ongoing construction zone. Once finished, the Eglinton Crosstown will be one of many projects that significantly improve the lives of all of us, but it is taking a huge number of skilled workers to make it a reality. New condo and apartment construction, home renovation and city infrastructure projects are everywhere. The economy is booming and the development of our communities is necessary to keep up with a fast moving, growing population. With the booming Toronto economy and more projects like these just around the corner, recruiting highly qualified tradesmen and tradeswomen will be vital to the growth of our community and our country as a whole.

From the perspective of my home province, it is clear that Ontario requires the recruitment of workers in the construction industry from outside the province. The aging workforce, along with many retirements, will account for a higher share of new job openings within the next decade. While the Ontario population ages, natural population growth will not be enough to sustain our labour requirements. Immigration and migration to the province will be necessary to sustain labour requirements, especially in the construction industry.

I very much expect that a study on labour shortages in the GTA and Hamilton area would help Canadians understand the great need for immigrants who are skilled in the trades and other jobs. It would add to the sense of urgency to address this problem.

The Carpenters' District Council of Ontario recently appealed to me in my role as chairperson of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration about this pending crisis in the labour market. The council represents hard-working, skilled women and men across Canada and is committed to providing training and apprenticeship programs that allow people from a diverse range of backgrounds to enter the workforce and build meaningful careers in carpentry, drywall and resilient flooring, to name just a few.

The Carpenters' Union, like many other trade unions, has known for some time that Canada is facing an increasingly significant shortage in the skilled trades. In 2018, BuildForce Canada reported that by 2027, 21% of the nationwide construction labour force will need to be replaced. Further, to meet the overall labour requirements of Canadian construction over the next decade, nearly 30,000 new skilled workers will be required. BuildForce recently reported that with the growing demand for construction services in Ontario, our province alone will face a deficit of some 23,000 skilled workers in the next decade. Finally, a Stats Canada report noted that the construction industry is working at 92% capacity, the highest rate in nearly 30 years.

The Carpenters' Union and other unions say that we need a fresh look at how Canada recruits and hires workers in the trades industry. Altered immigration patterns and the lack of young workers joining the trades in the numbers required demands that we find a new way to attract people to work in our skilled trades sector. Immigration programs need to be adjusted to ensure that the right candidates are being selected to work in the right areas to relieve specific and consistently expanding skilled labour shortages.

Our government is committed to addressing these concerns. We eliminated the four-year cumulative duration rule, imposed by the Conservatives, in order to prevent unnecessary hardship and instability for both workers and employers. Our government is further increasing opportunities for temporary workers looking to transition to permanent residence.

These are all constructive steps, but we know that more work needs to be done. Undertaking the study called for in Motion No. 190 would address the concerns of the construction industry in an important and constructive way. A study designed to provide solutions for how to increase construction skill development in the Hamilton and Toronto region would be a vital tool in moving forward and addressing industry trends. The time to take further action is now.

Last November, the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration completed a study entitled “Immigration to Atlantic Canada: Moving to the Future”. This study was similar to the one envisioned in this motion, focusing in large part on labour shortages, this one particularly on shortages in the four Atlantic provinces.

The study showed that in order to combat both short and long-term labour shortages in the region, immigration levels in Atlantic Canada needed to be increased. Low birth rates, elevated death rates and an increasingly aging population mean that Atlantic Canada will require other sources to stabilize and grow its population. The study found that immigration provides an important piece of an overall solution. The study made it clear that the four Atlantic provinces need to recruit and retain more immigrants to fill the labour shortages gap. This was particularly relevant for the Atlantic region's infrastructure industry.

That is the key aim of the Atlantic immigration pilot program. As of March 2017, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada started accepting permanent resident applications through this pilot program, a three-year immigration project that includes a specific stream for international graduates. Outreach to individual businesses has led to significant interest and participation in the program. Jobs have been identified in various sectors, with teams overseas already having success in recruiting qualified immigrants as a result of the pilot program.

One of the goals of Motion No. 190 is an analysis of the Atlantic immigration pilot and its initiatives. This pilot project could serve as a model to address the skilled worker needs in the greater Toronto and Hamilton areas. I know that the pilot project in Atlantic Canada is already showing signs of success, and introducing something similar in Toronto and Hamilton would benefit the province and, subsequently, the whole country.

As the MP for Don Valley West, I know this study would assist our government's ability to address the current need and trend in the construction industry. It is abundantly clear that Ontario needs to do more to recruit and retain new Canadians who are skilled in the trades. My constituents need strong, qualified people in the construction industry if we are going to continue to take advantage of a booming economy, maintain our quality of life and grow the middle class.

From carpentry to landscaping, and everything in-between, addressing the labour shortages via Motion No. 190 is a step in the right direction. For that reason, I fully support this motion. Again, I thank the member for Mississauga East—Cooksville for this wonderful initiative.

Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with DisabilitiesPrivate Members' Business

11:35 a.m.


Brigitte Sansoucy NDP Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Madam Speaker, people driving along Casavant Boulevard in Saint-Hyacinthe will see school buses parked near the Viandes Lacroix plant. This might seem odd, but it is not. On the contrary, it is a symbol of Quebec's labour shortage. The Saint-Hyacinthe family business was forced to buy three buses to transport employees living in neighbouring towns and the greater Montreal area to the plant every day. Like Viandes Lacroix, 70% of Quebec employers are having a hard time finding workers. This is a real problem for our businesses, which are forced to refuse contracts, increase overtime, miss deadlines and more.

This issue is not unique to Viandes Lacroix. Olymel also runs a free shuttle bus to take workers from Saint-Hyacinthe to Saint-Damase. In Quebec, there are more than half a million jobs to be filled by next year. Over the next 10 years, there will more than 1.3 million jobs to be filled. It is urgent that we take action and implement a national labour strategy. The Liberal government's failure to take action on some key points is a factor in the ongoing labour shortage.

I visited businesses in Acton Vale and Saint-Hyacinthe and met with owners. All of them told me that they are struggling with the labour shortage. They also told me that all of the red tape with the temporary foreign worker program makes it hard for them to hire staff. Immigrant workers are necessary to make up for the labour shortage.

This problem is not unique to these businesses. Businesses across my riding of Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot struggle with this same problem, and this is clear to me every time I travel around my riding and and see signs that say "We're hiring" in English, French, Arabic and Spanish. I saw one just yesterday at VIF Plastics.

The economic and business communities of Saint-Hyacinthe and Acton Vale are being bold and innovative in addition to working on recruiting staff.

I want to recognize all members of my riding's economic community and their teams who are doing an extraordinary job. This includes the Acton Vale CFDC; the Acton RCM Développement économique et local; the Acton region chamber of commerce; the chamber of commerce of the greater Saint-Hyacinthe region; the Relève en affaires committee; the Femmes d'affaires maskoutaines committee; the Comité Resource humaine, which brings together managers from manufacturing, service, retail and government businesses; and the Saint-Hyacinthe Technopole.

I also want to point out that Emploi Québec in Montérégie and Développement économique in the Maskoutains RCM have been doing excellent work and have hosted a job day for the past four years. The fourth event, held on March 22, was a huge success. These events are tangible proof that our ridings need workers.

Michaël Morin runs a sharpening shop in my riding, and he told me how hard it is to recruit skilled, motivated people to help his business thrive. Mr. Morin would like to recruit a skilled young man with temporary foreign worker status. Unfortunately, the current criteria are getting in the way. Mr. Morin wants to recruit people to grow his business, but he is being denied permission to hire foreign workers because his business has fewer than 10 employees.

Small businesses like Mr. Morin's are crucial to maintaining the integrity and vitality of our communities. They are the ones suffering because of this situation, and their attempts to find solutions should not be stymied by red tape.

I wrote to the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship and asked him to adapt temporary foreign worker hiring rules to the reality facing Quebec, and especially rural regions such as Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, which are being hit hard by the labour shortage. On October 15, I also asked the minister to set up a service office for employers in Saint-Hyacinthe to make the process easier for them and our constituents. When I talked to employers in my riding, they also pointed to the importance of adapting various kinds of skills training to meet their actual needs.

I also believe it is essential to focus on training and knowledge transfer. That is why I propose developing a system as part of a training program that would pair a newly hired young person with an employee who is close to retirement.

Businesses have talked to me about the problem of knowledge transfer. A retiring employee often leaves with the wealth of 30 years experience, but the businesses do not have the budget to keep the retiring employee on as the new, often young employee is getting started. We have to develop either a tax credit or a program, some sort of support for businesses to help them keep both these employees at the same time for a month or two to allow for a real transfer of knowledge.

In addition to allowing practical and technical knowledge of the job to be transferred, the goal is to transfer love for the job, establish human connections, and develop social skills that create an ideal work dynamic for everyone. Young people would then benefit from the mentorship and experience and expertise they need to carry on the work.

I think we should support associations such as Espace carrière, Action Emploi and Parcours Formation that not only connect workers and businesses, but also provide counselling to immigrant employees who need it. I want to commend these employee integration and economic development businesses. Parcours Formation and Action Emploi do remarkable work in our riding.

It is difficult to integrate an individual into a work environment without considering the social and personal reality that affects their work. I had the opportunity to accompany the Minister of Labour to the meeting of G7 labour ministers in Turin, Italy. We met with a state organization that is mandated to do exactly that. In addition to helping young people integrate into the job market, this organization helps employers.

Employers look after the professional and technical job integration of staff. However, young workers may come to work and find it difficult to do their job because their family lives in extreme poverty, one of their friends died of an overdose the night before, their mother lives with domestic violence, or because they are financially supporting their family at a young age. Employers often need the support of such an organization because they do not have the resources needed to help this young person deal with social issues.

The Italian organization I mentioned meets with youth at their place of employment and offers help. It also works with the family at home and with existing community and government resources because the young person's social and personal issues can hinder their integration at work.

I believe that we need to develop programs to help these people truly integrate and keep their jobs. I was the director of a community organization that helped youth at risk and our job was not to ensure that they went to work the first day. Our job was to help them stay motivated and keep going to work every morning, despite their problems, and to continue integrating into the workplace.

The labour shortage is a real economic drag on our business development. Since my riding is experiencing a labour shortage, I will be holding a round table on the economy with my riding's economic development organizations, chambers of commerce and community organizations.

We need to work together to identify solutions and develop a common action plan that will maintain co-operation between stakeholders and pinpoint specific solutions for our riding that we can propose to the government. Many economic stakeholders and municipalities in my riding support this undertaking. I therefore invite as many businesses, community and economic development organizations and chambers of commerce in the riding as possible to attend this round table.

The labour shortage is a complex problem and we all need to be part of the solution. By joining forces and combining our different skills, we can improve the situation. Solutions do exist.

Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with DisabilitiesPrivate Members' Business

11:45 a.m.


Judy Sgro Liberal Humber River—Black Creek, ON

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased we have this opportunity to debate Motion No. 190, a private member's motion brought forward by my colleague from Mississauga East—Cooksville.

One of the first things we talked about following the 2015 election was the ongoing problem of labour shortages and what we could do about it. All of us know very well the various unions that represent people throughout the country. We also know that the labour shortage is a very serious problem. I was pleased that the member for Mississauga East—Cooksville put forward Motion No. 190, which provides us with a way to focus on this issue.

As we heard from previous speakers, this is not just an Ontario problem. It is in fact a problem in various parts of our country. It is important to try to focus some attention on how we can meet the demands.

I applaud my colleague for the work he has done in putting this together. His continued passion for the skilled trades is like no other. He had a former career as a provincial member of Parliament, so he is familiar with labour issues and labour shortages.

The study that is being proposed by the motion would examine ways to solve the skilled labour shortage problem throughout Canada.

Ensuring that skilled workers are available to meet labour demands is a responsibility that our government takes very seriously. Following the 2015 election, we have had many discussions with colleagues of all parties on how to better deal with the labour shortage.

I have been monitoring the progress and path of the motion for quite some time, as it would have a significant positive impact for the constituents of my riding, an area within the GTA.

Whether we are talking about carpenters, bricklayers, masonry workers, the shortage is there. One of the challenges with our young people today is getting them interested in the trades. They are much more interested in IT and so on. When I speak in schools, it is hard to get them interested in this type of work, even though I tell them that great jobs can be found in the building trades, that the jobs pay well and that they will not be out of work. When they see workers outside on snowy, cold days doing the things they have to do, this does not exactly interest them. However, for those who do go that way, they have positive careers. They are able to buy houses and purchase cars. They have everything they need. However, there is a real challenge in trying to get people interested in that.

We are investing millions of dollars in infrastructure projects throughout Canada. This increases the need for many skilled workers. I cannot tell people the number of companies with which I have spoken. They have a lot of work, but they cannot get workers to get the jobs done. We want infrastructure money hitting the road, so new buildings can be built and so forth.

There were many examples of the shortage with respect to finishing up the renovations to West Block. There was a lack of a sufficient workforce.

The current employment numbers are estimated at approximately 413,600 jobs, which are evenly split between residential and non-residential construction.

The demand in the construction industry is expected to grow, and we want to see it grow. I have always found that if the construction industry is doing well then Canada is doing well.

Many years ago, my husband, who is a carpenter, immigrated to Canada from Italy. As a result of his skill trade as a carpenter, he went on to build a very successful career, and we have a successful family.

There are many needs out there and Motion No. 190 focuses on finding solutions to the problem. Workers currently in the country who are looking to sponsor family members to come here will help to continue to build on that.

Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with DisabilitiesPrivate Members' Business

11:50 a.m.


Angelo Iacono Liberal Alfred-Pellan, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague from Mississauga East—Cooksville for moving Motion No. 190, which calls for a study on the labour shortage in the construction industry.

Like my colleague, I am concerned about the growing labour shortage in Canada's construction industry. A viable solution must be found to the challenge facing the construction industry, which employs over 1.4 million people in Canada.

According to the Canadian Construction Association, 132,000 workers will retire between 2016 and 2025, yet only 127,000 new workers will enter the workforce, which leaves a shortage of at least 5,000 workers to fill in that gap.

The economic impact of this labour shortage is equally troubling. It is absolutely vital that we support the work of those who build our schools, our workplaces, our ports and our highways. It is also crucial that we support those who are building our country, one brick at a time.

Motion No. 190 moved by my colleague from Mississauga East—Cooksville is a solid recommendation, because it is in everyone's interest that we ensure that the supply of labour in the construction industry can meet Canada's needs in that regard.

The construction sector is a source of pride for Canada.

Numerous solutions to combat the labour shortage were discussed during the first hour of debate, mainly to intensify the inclusion of under-represented demographic groups in the construction industry in Canada, such as indigenous people, youth and women. Calling upon these under-represented groups will bring many advantages to the industry.

That is why it is crucial that measures and initiatives be implemented that take into account our specific northern reality while creating jobs for this under-represented demographic group.

The contribution of women to the construction industry must also be explored as a possible solution. Many women have carved out a prominent place for themselves in a traditionally male-dominated field.

Earlier this session I had the honour to rise to speak to the labour shortage in the aviation sector. That is why I support Motion No. 190, which calls on the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities to undertake a study on the labour shortage in the construction industry in the greater Toronto and Hamilton area.

Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with DisabilitiesPrivate Members' Business

11:55 a.m.


Peter Fonseca Liberal Mississauga East—Cooksville, ON

Madam Speaker, I will first thank the members who just spoke on Motion No. 190. The member for Kingston and the Islands advocated bringing more women into the workforce, particularly the trades. The member for Oshawa understands the dilemma and is looking for a solution to help businesses. The member for Jonquière provided very touching personal stories from her riding about the gaps that businesses are experiencing. The member for Don Valley West, whose riding I drove through and saw all of the construction there, explained how much of it has been delayed. The member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot shared experiences from her riding. Indeed, we are hearing that labour shortages are being experienced from coast to coast to coast, particularly in construction. The member for Humber River—Black Creek has advocated and championed tremendously for this issue to be addressed, not only over the last number of years but decades. We heard how it touches not only her riding and region, but also her family. I also thank the member for Alfred-Pellan for his remarks.

We are hearing all members say that they are experiencing labour shortages in their ridings. Motion No. 190 is specific to construction in the greater Toronto and Hamilton area so that we can do a more in-depth, focused study. If we find solutions, they could be rolled out across Ontario and all of the provinces and territories, which would benefit the country. It would give us the opportunity to do that, and in short order.

Do we have a challenge? Yes, we do. We have a challenge because unemployment is at a 40-year low. There are massive projects. The biggest private sector project ever in this country was just announced a few weeks ago, a $40-billion LNG project in British Columbia. Moreover, in 2016, construction and maintenance workers built, installed, maintained, repaired and renovated infrastructure, estimated at $250 billion across our nation.

The construction and maintenance industry has 1.4 million workers. Cumulatively, that accounts for 7.7% of all employment in Canada. Indirectly, the industry accounts for almost 12.5% of employment in our nation. These figures are a testament to a robust industry that has provided well-paying jobs for generations of Canadians.

We need to understand that we have an aging workforce. Two years ago, there were more people over the age of 65 than under the age of 25. Much of the aging workforce comes from baby boomers, who have made up a disproportionate share of our construction workers. The reason is that over the last number of decades, many young people have not gone into the skilled trades or construction. One of the things we want to find out through a study is why that is. These are good-paying, family-sustaining, strong middle-class jobs. They would help people climb the ladder into the middle class, and that is what we are encouraging more and more.

To put numbers on this in terms of growth, the industry is growing at about 4% in Ontario, but the GTHA is experiencing about 8% growth. Contractors in this industry were surveyed and asked what kept them up at night. Seventy-one per cent of them indicated that recruitment was their most significant concern and one-third of them said they are not able to find the people to do the work.

With all of our infrastructure across this land— bridges, roads, hospitals, schools, and businesses—we need a solution. That is why I encourage all members to vote in favour of the study proposed by Motion No. 190, so that we can keep building our great land.

Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with DisabilitiesPrivate Members' Business



The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

Is the House ready for the question?

Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with DisabilitiesPrivate Members' Business


Some hon. members


Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with DisabilitiesPrivate Members' Business



The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

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

Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with DisabilitiesPrivate Members' Business


Some hon. members


Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with DisabilitiesPrivate Members' Business



The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

All those opposed will please say nay.

I declare the motion carried.

(Motion agreed to)

Opposition Motion--FinanceBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders



Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON


That the House call on the government to tell Canadians in what year the budget will be balanced, and to do so in this week’s Fall Economic Statement.

Madam Speaker, it is only about 42 more sleeps until this Prime Minister is scheduled to keep his promise and show us how the budget will balance itself, because 2019 will soon upon us, the year when the Liberal election platform said the budget would be balanced. We remember those modest temporary deficits that were promised, of no more than $10 billion and for no more than three years. “Back to balance by the end of the term,” he said, and we were all to be comforted by that commitment. In fact, if we go to the Liberal Party website today, we still find that election platform and that commitment.

Unfortunately, no one at the Liberal Party headquarters has talked to anyone over at Finance Canada. There, officials report, though the finance minister refuses to confirm, that the budget will not be balanced until 2045, a quarter century later than the Liberal Party says it will. The Liberal Party says it will be next year; Finance Canada says it will be in 25 years. Who are we to believe? We are here today to find out. I have put forward a motion with the strong support of Her Majesty's loyal opposition.

Opposition Motion--FinanceBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders


Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Opposition Motion--FinanceBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders



Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

Members should feel free to interrupt my remarks with their applause at any time. I will be conservative in my remarks as long as they are liberal in their applause.

However, unfortunately, the current Liberal government has been too liberal with our money. Government spending has grown at a rate of about seven per cent a year, even though economic growth has only been around two and a half per cent. The combined rate of inflation and population growth has been less than three per cent. In other words, we are growing the government more than twice as fast as we need and twice as fast as we can afford.

Last year and in the years before, this Prime Minister inherited great fortune. That was nothing new to him. He inherited a multi-million-dollar trust fund and he has never had to worry about money. Luckily for him, more good fortune fell from the sky in the year 2017. In that year, the U.S. economy and the world economy were roaring. Commodity prices were up, housing markets boomed in Vancouver and Toronto and elsewhere, and interest rates were near record lows. All of this good fortune, which is out of the government's control but to its benefit, generated a windfall of $20 billion last year according to the government's own records.

I am pleased to report that our Prime Minister did the responsible thing. He saved it all for a rainy day; he put it aside in the great Canadian tradition and prepared us for difficult times ahead. I am kidding.

In fact, he blew every single penny. When he was done blowing every penny of the windfall, the increased revenue he had enjoyed, he continued his spending splurge and borrowed $20 billion more, meaning his deficit in that fiscal year was about twice what he promised it would be. This year, if we believe Finance Canada, the deficit will be three times what the Liberal platform promised. Next year, there was supposed to be no deficit at all.

Soon, in fact just two days from now, the finance minister will introduce his fall economic update. He will tell us, we hope, the size of the deficit and when this miraculous self-balancing budget will manifest itself. We have put forward a very non-partisan motion that anyone should be able to support, namely, that the government simply reveal the year that the budget will be balanced. We are not even contesting the extraordinary bonanza of spending and the massive debts and higher taxes the government has imposed on Canadians—we know that will be a central debate in the next election—but are putting all of that aside and simply asking for the government to give us the year when the budget will be balanced.

The fact that we even have to put this in a motion is rather startling, because past governments always projected the year in which budgets would be balanced. They projected many years out how big the surpluses would be and what the size the debt would be in given years down the road.

The current government has changed that practice. It has stopped concluding a medium- and long-term fiscal forecast in its budgets and fall updates. That means that Canadians are left guessing when it is that their government will stop adding debt in their name. If Finance Canada documents can be believed and the 25 years of deficits go ahead, that will add nearly half a trillion dollars of new debt to this country.

Now, it is always difficult to appreciate the urgency of tackling debt. Sometimes people think it is a theoretical problem, far away from home. In reality, it is quite simple. Deficits today mean massive tax hikes tomorrow, because the bankers and the bond holders who have lent us that money expect to have a rate of return. It would be completely unrealistic to expect that they would just donate that money out of the kindness of their hearts or park it with the Canadian government in the hope of getting it back at the same value. No, these bankers and bondholders want to collect increasing interest at increasing rates, and that is exactly what has happened.

According to the Parliamentary Budget Officer, by the year 2023, the Government of Canada will be spending nearly $40 billion on interest on the national debt. That $40 billion is a two-thirds increase over last year. It means that we will be spending more on interest on our national debt than we currently spend on health care transfers to our provinces.

That is money that working-class taxpayers will have to fork over to wealthy bankers and bondholders, people with money, because only people with money can lend government money and earn the resulting interest. These working-class families will contribute that tax money, and they will get nothing in return for it. They will simply have the comfort of knowing that some affluent lender, somewhere on Bay Street or Wall Street or in Hong Kong or some other world financial capital, is reaping a windfall because the government could not control its own spending.

That represents, by the way, a wealth transfer from the working class to the super rich, another example of the government's continual efforts to take from those with the least to give to those with the most, to take from the have-nots and give to the have-yachts.

There are three major consequences from these spiralling deficits. In the short run, deficits put upward pressure on inflation and interest rates. In other words, they raise the prices Canadians must pay for the goods and services they use, and because the government is competing with homeowners for borrowed money, the amount lenders can charge to lend that money actually goes up. Our homeowners have to pay higher interest rates in addition to higher costs, because the government is competing with them for credit.

The second consequence is that because higher debt today means higher taxes tomorrow, Canadians will feel the crunch of higher interest rates on their household debt at the same time they are experiencing it on their tax bills. As interest rates go up for the government, they will be going up for households that are facing record debt of their own. The government, on its current trajectory, will have to raise taxes on the very people who are struggling the most to make ends meet in order to pay interest on an out-of-control and unnecessarily large debt.

Third, increased debt and deficits render us vulnerable in the bad times. There will be bad times again. We know this, because history repeats itself. That is why, in the early Conservative government, we paid off about $30 billion of debt, which helped prepare Canada to have a solid financial footing when the U.S. financial system came crashing down. In that once-in-a-generation, or maybe once-in-a-century, financial crisis, Canada was the last to go into deficit and a recession and the first to come out of both among all its G7 peers. During the good times, we prepared, we stored away and we built our foundation so that when the storm struck, we were able to resists its ravages.

However, the current Prime Minister has done precisely the opposite. He has blown all our good fortune in the good times. When everything was going in his favour, when all the luck was on his side, he squandered it, every last penny. Therefore, when the next crisis comes, unless we change course, the Prime Minister will lead us into it with an unprecedented degree of weakness and a lack of readiness. That is the third consequence of having unnecessarily large debts and deficits in the good times.

The Prime Minister said that the budget would balance itself. He said he could spend, spend, spend and that the money would magically appear in the budget. He promised that the budget would be balanced by 2019, which is in about 40 days. As the official opposition, we are here to ask the government exactly when it will balance the budget.

The minister will deliver his economic statement in two days. When a government delivers this kind of statement, it usually predicts when the budget will be balanced and tells Canadians how much they can expect to be added to the national debt in the meantime.

This is a non-partisan motion. We are not even debating the content of the government's policy. We are not saying that the government is bad or good. We are simply saying that the government should be transparent and give us a date. Without this information, we cannot debate. If the government has nothing to hide, it should have no problem sharing this information.

The existing deficit has three main consequences. First, government deficits increase inflation and interest rates for consumers. They also increase the cost of living for workers, families and suburbanites.

Second, we will have to pay more interest on our national debt. According to the Parliamentary Budget Officer, in four years, we will have to pay $40 billion. That is a two-thirds increase in the interest payable. That means more money for bankers and other wealthy individuals. On the other hand, it means that ordinary people will be paying more taxes without getting any programs or services in return. The higher interest rate and the increase in the debt represent a migration of wealth from middle-class workers to the wealthy. Our government should not transfer poor people’s assets to the wealthy, but that is exactly what happens when a government is carrying too much debt.

Third, we will see more crises in the future. We do not know when, but we know that they are coming. That is why, in the past, responsible Liberal and Conservative governments decided to pay back the debt during good years in order to prepare for future difficulties.

The former Conservative government paid back $30 billion before the 2008 crisis that started in the U.S. That is why we were the last G7 country to experience a recession and post a deficit, and the first to get back on our feet.

Today, our country has an enormous deficit despite the fact that there is currently no crisis, while the Prime Minister could have taken precautions by taking advantage of a favourable situation: lower interest rates, spectacular economic growth in the United States and around the world, very strong real estate markets in Vancouver and Toronto, and an increase in the price of Canada’s various assets.

All of these factors are beyond the government's control, but the Prime Minister benefited from them. He will not, however, always have this undeserved good fortune. That is why his decision to launch us into a significant deficit during the good years was so irresponsible. That is why we are demanding that the government tell us when we will be returning to a balanced budget.

We on this side of the House stand for fiscal responsibility to prepare Canada for a rainy day, to stop the outrageous transfer of wealth from the working class and the poor to the super rich in the form of interest on debt, and to stop the government from raising the cost of living on everyday Canadians, who are already facing a cost-of-living crunch.

The first step, though, is for the government to tell the truth. To resolve any problem, one has to admit that there is a problem, and the first admission of that problem would be to tell us the day. Is it really going to be 2045 when the government returns to a balanced budget, a quarter of a century from now and half a trillion dollars later?

By the way, I should mention the bad news. That 25 years, that half trillion dollars, assumes that the government does not spend another penny in the fall update or in its pre-election budget. That would expect a degree of financial discipline the Prime Minister has not demonstrated once in his entire life, yet we have hope. We have hope that if he comes forward with the cold, hard truth that his budgetary plan is a mess and that he has broken his word to Canadians, he will awaken to the need to live within our means, just as ordinary Canadians who do not have multi-million dollar trust funds have had to do their whole lives.

We ask the Prime Minister to join, finally, for once in his life, in solidarity with those people, the people who pay the bills, and at least tell them what the situation is and when the budget will be balanced, and give us the truth so that we can restore the solid fiscal foundation upon which this country's economy has long been built and that he inherited.

Opposition Motion--FinanceBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:20 p.m.


Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Madam Speaker, it has been 1,126 sleeps since Prime Minister Stephen Harper was here and since we learned the reality of the situation: there was no fictitious surplus, as purported by the preceding government. The reality of the situation is that in Canada, the debt is relatively low compared to other western countries. Our debt-to-GDP ratio compared to other developed countries in the world is low, despite the fact that we have the fastest-growing economy among the G7 countries.

I will very happily stand up for the plan this government has put forward. I, on any day, would happily compare the record of this government to 10 years of Stephen Harper.

Opposition Motion--FinanceBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:20 p.m.


Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

Madam Speaker, the member opened by saying that there was no fictitious balanced budget left behind by the Conservatives, and he is absolutely right. There was no fictitious balanced budget, there was a real balanced budget. That balanced budget allowed us to, as I said, enter the recession and deficit after every other government and country in the G7 and re-emerge more quickly. That was a massive worldwide crisis, the likes of which we have not seen since the great global recession, a crisis that came to Canada from abroad, but one that we were successful at responding to here at home. We were the envy of the world, with Jim Flaherty even voted the best finance minister on earth at the time.

Now, the government has exactly the opposite situation. The world economy is roaring strong, commodity prices are up, interest rates are at record lows and booming housing markets in Vancouver and Toronto have poured money into government coffers. It has squandered every penny and much more. When will it stop? When will the budget finally balance itself?

Opposition Motion--FinanceBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.


Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Madam Speaker, all Canadians remember well that in 2015 the Liberals campaigned and promised Canadians they would run three modest $10-billion deficits and then balance the budget in their fourth year. That is only one of a growing litany of broken promises to Canadians. We know the Liberals also told Canadians that 2015 would be the last election under the first-past-the-post system. They also told Canadians they would run the Kinder Morgan pipeline through a brand new environmental assessment process. That is another promise that was broken.

Where in the litany, the pantheon of broken promises of the current Liberal government, would my hon. colleague rank the current issue before the House, which is the broken promise to do with running deficits and balancing the budget?

Opposition Motion--FinanceBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.


Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

Madam Speaker, for the member to give me such a long list to choose from in such a short period of time is really an unfair question, but I will forgive him that. What our grandchildren will not forgive us for, though, is piling massive debt on their shoulders, debt they never voted for but for which they will forever have to pay.

What working-class Canadians should never have to forgive is their own government putting upward pressure on inflation and interest rates, making the cost of living even less affordable than it already is. What our lowest-income Canadians will also not forgive, and should not have to, is paying higher taxes to transfer more and more wealth to the connected bondholders and bankers who will absorb and enjoy this $40-billion a year windfall of interest on our national debt. We should never have to forgive any of those things.

Where does this broken promise rank? I will tell the member when we find out the government's answer to the question of when the budget will balance itself.

Opposition Motion--FinanceBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

November 19th, 2018 / 12:25 p.m.


Robert-Falcon Ouellette Liberal Winnipeg Centre, MB

Madam Speaker, the flip side is the Conservatives’ hidden agenda. To achieve a balanced budget, we would need to make cuts to indigenous infrastructure, as well as the Canada child benefit and affordable housing, which would affect Canadian families.

Doug Ford and Manitoba’s Brian Pallister also have similar hack-and-slash agendas. That is the Conservatives’ hidden agenda. We might even have to make cuts to official services in French, the language of Molière. French is important, not only here in Quebec and Ontario, but across the country. Perhaps a Conservative government would make cuts to every service of any importance of these communities across the country. The hon. member knows this all too well.

Opposition Motion--FinanceBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.


Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

Madam Speaker, if a balanced budget is so terrible, why did the hon. member and his leader promise one for 2019? It was their own election promise. Why would they promise something as awful as a balanced budget, if that is the case?

What is the Liberal Party’s secret agenda? An increase in the national debt will oblige Canadians to pay more interest. How will they pay for that? Will they once again increase taxes on the middle class? Will the Liberals have to cut social programs in order to pay more interest on the national debt? That is the Liberal Party’s hidden agenda. The Liberals should now reveal their real plan by telling us when we will return to a balanced budget.

Opposition Motion--FinanceBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.


Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Madam Speaker, my thanks to the hon. member, who spoke with great emotion. Everybody agrees that we need to make sure that we do not leave future generations with a debt to pay. Of course, the debt is rising. However, there is another big question with respect to why the Liberals are putting off until the future high priorities, like getting first nations off safe drinking water boil advisories or giving them access to equivalent education and taking action on climate mitigation measures in municipalities, as the FCM calls for.

My question to the hon. member is this. What would his party do to balance the budget, how quickly would they do that, and what would he cut?