Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to this motion.
We have certainly heard from both sides of the floor different points of view. However, my NDP colleague put it quite profoundly. She took my opening line about talking through both sides of their mouths.
In the minister's presentation today, we heard the reasons for tabling this motion on back-to-work legislation for Canada Post. She said that small businesses across Canada are facing a crisis. She even talked about specific business owners who have reached out to her office saying that they are in jeopardy of closing their doors if they cannot have a dependable postal service. She talked about how important it is to address the issues business owners across Canada are facing, and that is the reason she is taking this step today.
However, at the same time, she said, in response to my question, that they are going to do everything they can to ensure that they come to some sort of agreement. She did not finish that sentence. The end of that sentence is, “small business be damned, regardless of the consequences this is going to have.”
Small-business owners have raised the alarm bells on some very real concerns, as we head into their busiest time of the season, that if they do not make the revenue during the holiday season, it impacts the rest of their year. I certainly have had those conversations with small-business owners in my riding. They make sometimes 60% to 70% of their revenue during the holiday season, and a lot of that business is through online sales.
I will name a couple of examples. Frontier Western Shop, in Claresholm, was a very small western wear business that grew over the last decade into an international success story. It sells its wares across the world. Who would have known that people in Europe want belt buckles and cowboy boots? They do. It has grown into an extremely successful business, built on an online platform. The same can be said for Flys Etc., in High River. It was a very small business that started as a one-man shop, but because of his success in selling reels and rods and his handmade flies online around the world, this small High River business has grown into a great success story.
We can talk about the big businesses that are going to be impacted, but the messages we are getting from our constituents is that the very small rural businesses are the ones being impacted as well. The minister said in her presentation that she has heard stories from business owners who have asked her to take definitive action to get Canada Post back to work. Today the minister said, yes, she has heard their stories, but she is just going to put a motion on the table to talk about it. She is not taking definitive action. She just wants to talk about this some more, while each minute and each hour this goes on, small businesses across the country are suffering.
This is a bigger trend we have seen from the Liberal government. It is its inability to take action when it is needed. There is that desire to stand on both sides of the fence, and we all know what happens when people sit on the fence for two long. They get slivers, very painful slivers. Unfortunately, our small businesses are the ones who are feeling the consequences and the pain of that.
We have seen this story many times during the Liberals' three-year mandate. Let us go back a bit to the grain backlog. We had grain farmers across the country, specifically in western Canada, talking about the pain they were going through not being able to get their commodities to market. We encouraged the Liberal government for months to take action on this issue. It had definitive tools in its tool box to force the railways to start hauling more grain. This started last fall. We went through the winter. Every single time we brought this up to the Liberal government, the response was, “We really trust the railways to resolve this on their own. We are not going to get involved. They are meeting their targets. This is all going to resolve itself.” Meeting their targets meant sometimes meeting six per cent of the contracts they had signed. Six per cent is certainly not what I would say is meeting their obligations. We then went through the spring seeding period, and still no resolution. Finally, the summer came, and the Liberals tabled Bill C-49, the transportation bill, which we asked them to do eight or nine months earlier. If they had taken the legislation the previous Conservative government had done and put it forward, we would have resolved that grain backlog when it still could have made a difference to Canadian grain farmers. However, the Liberals wait until we are in crisis mode.
That is exactly what the minister said today in her presentation, that our small businesses are facing a crisis. What are the Liberals going to do about it? They are going to do almost something, but not quite anything. We are going to come here and debate it a little more and once again try to walk the fence. Our grain farmers in western Canada sure felt the ramifications of that. Even with Bill C-49, it does not force the railways to haul grain. There is no accountability in that bill. Again, it is window dressing so that Liberals can say eventually, when it really does not matter any more and it is way too late, they did something. Really, Bill C-49 does not address anything and hopefully this fall and winter as we go through the harvest once again, we will see what kind of an impact Bill C-49 will have on our grain producers.
Let us also go back to the Phoenix pay system, something that we have all dealt with. The Liberals like to pass the buck onto somebody else. They were told when they won the election that the Phoenix pay system was not ready to go. They needed to take some definitive action to address this situation, which would have impacts on federal employees across the country. Again, they did not take definitive action. They did not address the situation. They just pressed the green button and hoped for the best because hope and hard work solves all one's problems apparently. We have seen the consequences of that inaction. Federal employees across the country can certainly share that information and the impact this has had on their livelihood. Some of them have been overpaid and then been asked to reimburse the federal government. Some of them have not been paid at all. Again, we hear from the minister that they are taking definitive action and are fully aware of the crisis situation. Then what are the Liberals doing? Nothing or very little.
It is unfortunate, because our small business owners are now put in the crosshairs because of the labour disruption with Canada Post. As I said in my question to the minister, in 2011 when the Conservative government took similar steps to address the Canada Post work stoppage, we were criticized severely by the Liberal third party opposition members that we were being overly aggressive, that it was not something we should be doing. How interesting that the tables have turned just a few years later and now the Liberals are in the situation. They think this is something they should do, but they want to go halfway all the time. There is no ability to make a tough decision and follow through on that decision, to remedy the situation for businesses across Canada.
I want to bring some examples in the trend we have seen with the Liberal government over the last few years. One would be the outcry from Canadians, especially in Ontario and Quebec, with the illegal migrants coming across the border. This is a crisis. There is no question about it. We have seen the numbers increase over the last few years. Liberals like to take little snapshots to say in this week of July the numbers went down between two and four o'clock in the afternoon, so they have a handle on the illegal migrant crisis. If we look at the numbers in a broader vision, the numbers have continued to go up.
That is certainly not the impression that Canadians have of the situation, and this would resonate with my colleagues in southern Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba. The situation is not in control. Building permanent housing with tents and trailers along the border is not what I would consider a long-term solution to an illegal migrant crisis. Again, the Liberals do not want to do anything about it except talk about it. They say they are putting things in place. The Minister of Border Security, the minister with no portfolio really, has said ad nauseam that they have the numbers under control. However, in every statistic, in every media report and certainly when we talk to people on the ground, that is certainly not the case. Again, we see this inability to take definitive action when definitive action is needed.
I compare that to the situation we are in now. Canadian businesses across the country are saying that the crisis they are facing now is real. As we get into this holiday season, we have seen the stats, and I think the minister even mentioned them today, that the rotating postal strikes are costing small businesses an average of $3,000 a month. That includes not only lost sales, but also receivables that are not getting to those businesses.
Let us talk about what that impact would be at $3,000 a month. That is two employees who would now have to be laid off. However, if they had that $3,000 over the holiday season, then a couple of employees could be hired to help through this very busy season. The Liberal minister talked about how much of a crisis this is for businesses. There is a ripple-down effect to this inaction.
I have a 20-year-old daughter who is looking for some part-time work over the holiday season. She has gone to some of the retailers for work during the holidays, but a lot of them have said that they are not hiring until they know what is going on with the labour dispute. They do not know if they can afford to hire those additional part-time workers over the holiday season.
A lot of Canadians rely on that extra income. It helps them pay for their own Christmas presents and holiday celebrations. University and college students over the Christmas break absolutely rely on that additional revenue to help them pay for their tuition and school books, which have become more expensive. On a side note, the Liberals felt that tax credits for tuition and school books were not really necessary and that university and college students were too wealthy to qualify for these tax credits. Unfortunately, because of that, they are now having to rely on those part-time jobs over the Christmas holidays; part-time jobs that are not going to be there, because these small businesses are losing up to $3,000 a month due to the disruption in Canada Post services.
My Liberal colleagues were demeaning this by saying that the contrast between the Conservative action and the Liberal action when it comes to these types of situations is that the Conservatives acted quickly but the Liberals took their time with it. I am very proud of the fact that we acted quickly and took definitive action when it was needed, which ensured that our small businesses and companies across the country knew that the government was standing behind them and ensuring they had the tools they needed to be successful. What is frustrating them right now is a government that is taking no action, allowing them to suffer, and would rather stand on the sidelines and let these two groups come to an agreement, which they have obviously been unable to do.
I appreciate the union's position on some of the things it is trying to address, but it is clear that they have not been able to come to an agreement. We understand the situation before us with a very busy holiday season. Therefore, I think it behooves the government to take some definitive action to ensure that our small businesses are not going to be suffering through their busiest season. This is when they make their gravy. This is when businesses make the revenue that keeps them up and running for the rest of the year. There is no question about that. As I said, a lot them make 70% of their revenue during this time of year.
I have certainly heard over the last couple of weeks the frustration from small business owners who do not understand why the Liberal government does not have their backs. We can go back to last fall when the Liberals brought forward these small business tax changes. These were going to be imposed on small businesses across the country that would have been devastated by these tax changes. If not for this tax revolt from our farmers, ranchers and small business owners, there is no question the Liberal government would have gone ahead with these changes. We heard from our farmers that it would be the end of the family farm, because they would not be able to pass their farms on to the next generation. This was shocking, but it was fact. The Liberals do not dispute that fact, because it was true. Even though we were able to get the Liberals to walk back on some of these changes, the changes to passive income are still there.
There are still some challenges for our small business owners. The Liberals hiked CPP and EI taxes on paycheques, which again impacts business owners as well as their employees. The government is going to impose a federal carbon tax and add a tax on the GST and the HST. For whatever reason, the Liberals do not understand that all of these things are devastating our Canadian small businesses.
These small businesses are the ones that create jobs, as much as the Liberal government would like to take credit for that. Governments do not create jobs. Let us get that on the table. Governments can put policies in place that encourage businesses to grow and create jobs, but governments do not create jobs, unless they hire a lot of public sector workers, which is a subject we can save for another day. That is one way the Liberals are creating jobs.
More than 90% of jobs in Canada are created by our small and medium-sized enterprises, SMEs. They are successful because they are entrepreneurs, willing to take the risks. We have to ensure that they have the tools to take those risks, to be comfortable to hire new employees, to expand their business and invest in new equipment, new technology and new innovation. One of those tools is a reliable postal service.
As we go through the past three years of the Liberal government's mandate, it seems that one by one, it is removing every single tool that our small and medium-sized enterprises need to be successful, whether it is by increasing taxes or creating additional carbon taxes or additional regulatory and red tape regimes.
I would like to touch briefly on yesterday's fall economic statement. From my perspective, there was nothing in that presentation that addressed the crisis that we are facing in Alberta. We have a massive differential in oil prices. The Liberals think we are talking about big international businesses, and we are, because they are being impacted also, but all the junior and middle companies that rely on those big businesses are being impacted and rural communities in Alberta are being devastated. They feel everywhere they turn they are being punched.
Three of the biggest companies in the world, Trans Canada, Enbridge and Kinder Morgan, were ready to put private dollars into three major energy infrastructure projects at the start of the Liberals' mandate, and all three have now gone. Unless they hit the ground in Alberta, people cannot understand the impact that has had. Investment has gone. Companies are leaving and jobs are going with them. The impact has been devastating.
My Alberta colleagues and I talk about this a great deal. We cannot understand why the Liberals refuse to see it, why they refuse to understand the impact this is having on Alberta's economy and its small rural communities.
Christmas is coming, and more than 100,000 energy workers are out of work. Some of them have been out of work for more than two years now. They were looking at Christmas as an opportunity to have a small celebration with friends and family but they will not be able to have that either, because small businesses in these rural communities are suffering because of their inability to access their customers and get their receivables.
This is just another hit by a Liberal government that does not seem to understand the importance of small business and how much our rural communities depend on these small businesses and our postal service. These communities are sometimes very secluded.
I understand that email and the Internet are an easy way to do these things, but that cannot be done if there is no postal service, and that is very frustrating. We want to see the Liberals take definitive action on this. We do not want them to just talk about it, but to do something about it.
I have talked a lot about our rural communities and our small towns, but this also has international implications. We have heard now from the United Kingdom, the United States and several of our large partners and allies, many of which are countries our new Canadians and immigrants have come from, that Canada Post has now told them not to send parcels or mail as we are not going to be able to handle it.
That is pretty tough for a trading partner that these businesses, which have operations in other parts of the world, now cannot do business with one another because they are unable to access reliable mail service. This will impact the more than 100 countries who are members of the Universal Postal Union, and the other United Nations agencies this is going to impact. Again, it shows that the Liberal government is not protecting our export markets, our global economy, and the ability of Canadian companies to expand and operate outside our own borders. This has far-reaching impacts on our economy, not just here at home but certainly around the world.
The Liberals, I hope, over the course of the next couple of days will understand that Canada Post is an essential service for rural Canadians in our small towns, who rely on it to do their business and pay their bills. I hope they will hear that message today. I am sure they are going to hear the message loud and clear from my NDP colleagues that they take the situation seriously. They should not just talk about it, but take definitive action. They should not think small businesses are not suffering and can wait. They cannot wait. They need action today.