Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup.
On Monday, November 26, General Motors announced that no more products would be allocated to the award-winning plant in Oshawa after December 2019. This was devastating for the over 2,800 workers in Oshawa, but the impact is much broader. It impacts not just the workers but also their families and all the businesses in the community that depend on the economic activity provided by the plant. We have seen time and again what a closing like this does to a community, not only to its economy but more importantly to its people.
When we say that the manufacturing sector is one of the backbones of our economy, it is not just a platitude, because it links with so many other sectors in the economy. Success in the manufacturing sector has a ripple effect on the rest of the economy. It is what is called the multiplier effect. For the auto sector, it is estimated at seven jobs for every job lost on the assembly line.
In Oshawa, we have gone through difficult times before, but our community is resilient and able to rise to the challenge. Our consolidated line was scheduled to close in 2008, but because of our tenacity and our ability to innovate, our line was able to remain open for years. At the time, we worked with the federal, provincial and municipal levels of government, as well as the unions, the workers and the company, to find a solution. We did.
Today, Oshawa workers just want a chance to bid on a new product for our plant. The Prime Minister says he wants to attract the jobs of the future, the exact jobs that GM is saying it will not build in Oshawa. GM is saying it is transitioning to electric and autonomous vehicles. This is a once-in-a-generation investment, and it has decided not to make it in Oshawa or Canada. We must ask why.
This is why the Conservatives put forward a motion at the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology, calling on the government to study the impacts of the plant closures in my community of Oshawa and the province in general. I cannot explain how disappointed I was when the Liberals voted it down.
Actions speak louder than words. The Prime Minister is good at sounding sincere when he says he wants to use all the tools available to help my community, but when he had the chance to act, the Liberals voted it down. The people of Oshawa are asking if the Prime Minister truly cares about our community and our jobs. It has been over a week since we heard the news, and he still has not even picked up the phone to call our mayor and offer his support.
I want to say how proud I am of our leader. When he found out about the closure of the plant, he changed his plans and came to Oshawa within hours, standing at the gates with the workers. Within 24 hours we had met with businesses, General Motors and, most importantly, the workers. They asked us on this side to fight for their jobs, and that is what we are doing.
The Prime Minister has famously said he wants to transition away from manufacturing. If we cannot transition to building the electric and autonomous vehicles of the future, what exactly does the Prime Minister want us to transition to? When will he understand that his failed policies have real consequences for real communities and real people, like those in Oshawa?
The Liberal talking points we have heard here today mention the closure of the plants in the United States, as if to say it is not just a problem in Canada. I would like to say two things to this.
First, in addition to the direct losses of over 2,800 jobs in the Oshawa plant, there will be spillover job losses of an estimated 20,000 jobs. When we compare this number to the approximately 3,600 direct jobs that will be lost in the U.S. and consider that the United States economy is more than 10 times bigger than ours, the impact is just not comparable.
Second, the government has created an environment in which companies regard Canada as a bad place for their investments, thereby depriving Canadians of good-quality manufacturing jobs. In fact the Prime Minister has implemented policies that have made it very unlikely that investors will see Canada as a worthwhile option. Under the Prime Minister, we have seen the biggest decline in Canadian energy investment in 70 years. The Liberals have chosen to implement policies that have made Canada uncompetitive on the world stage, and are making sure investors steer clear of our energy sector. The result is thousands of jobs lost in the energy industry. In Oshawa, we stand with those workers in the energy field. We think it is reprehensible that this government is standing in their way.
Canada's energy sector is instrumental to the well-being of our economy, and it seems like the Liberals are doing everything they can to ensure this industry fails. Uncertainty is an investor's worst nightmare, and under this Prime Minister we have seen project after project shut down: energy east, northern gateway, Aurora LNG, and the list goes on and on. With them, we can say goodbye to the $50 million in investment in Durham region, my neck of the woods, due to the energy sector.
In addition to uncertainty and an overly burdensome regulatory system, the Liberals have ignored calls by the business community to lower corporate tax rates to give Canada a competitive advantage. This means companies with low-margin products, like cars, are finding it hard to compete. For a Prime Minister who talks so much about the middle class, he does not seem to want to help Canadians join it.
Our corporate tax rate does not make Canada a competitive jurisdiction, and on top of that the Liberals have implemented a job-killing carbon tax that will make Canada even less competitive. The carbon tax not only ensures that companies have to pay more to the government rather than invest in growth, but also adds to the environment of uncertainty created by the Liberals. For once-in-a-lifetime, 50-year investments, companies need to know what their costs are going to be for more than five years, but the Liberals have not told us how much their carbon tax will rise after 2022.
According to a UN report, countries would need a carbon tax of up to $5,500 per tonne, which would mean a huge hit for our companies, especially when we consider that the United States and Mexico do not have one. This creates uncertainty for businesses and makes Canada unattractive for future investment.
To add insult to injury, the government has just signed on to a deal, the new NAFTA, without having the section 232 steel and aluminum tariffs removed. The Standing Committee on International Trade has been studying the impacts on these sectors, and the situation is dire. Businesses are shutting down, laying off workers, reducing shifts or moving production to other jurisdictions. Once these businesses leave, they are not coming back.
We have also been hearing from small and medium-sized businesses in these sectors that they cannot get the money the government is taking, because of the countervailing measures. The process is too long and onerous, and the owners of these businesses just do not have the time to work through the government's red tape. We need the government to give businesses their money back now.
The businesses in bigger industries such as the auto and energy sectors are struggling because of the policies of the Liberal government, so we can imagine what it is doing to small businesses in our country. Small and medium-sized businesses make up over 90% of the businesses in this country. They are one of the main drivers of our economy and the most affected by high taxes, burdensome regulations and the carbon tax.
According to a survey by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, one third of business owners are bothered so much by government regulation that they say they would have preferred not going into business in the first place. Is that not sad? When people spend all of their days running small companies and then whatever little time is left trying to navigate the never-ending government red tape, it becomes impossible to focus on growing their businesses.
Two weeks ago, the finance minister delivered an update on the state of the economy, in which he strongly underestimated the risks Canada will face in the not-so-distant future. Many economists do not share the minister's optimism when it comes to the long-term health of the Canadian economy, especially since he relied heavily on the unemployment rate to make his case. We have heard that here today. The unemployment rate falls not only when people are employed, but also when workers leave the workforce and stop looking for employment.
Demographic trends in Canada point to the fact that labour participation rates will continue to fall. There are around 2.7 million Canadians aged 15 to 24 in the labour force, compared to 3.4 million Canadians aged 55 to 64. In fact, when we look at the employment rate, the share of the labour force that is employed has been steadily declining since December 2017.
With that in mind, it is even more worrying that the Liberals have continued with their tax-and-spend strategy, rather than cutting the deficit like they promised they would do. Remember, the budget was supposed to balance itself. The Prime Minister promised Canadians the budget would be balanced, yet now the Department of Finance is projecting deficits out to 2045. This is a reckless strategy that will put Canada in jeopardy when the next recession comes.
To conclude, the Liberal government is failing Canadians. It promised to balance the budget, and it has not done so. It has raised taxes, making it harder for Canadians, and it has made Canada less competitive for business. It has increased the level of uncertainty for investors and raised their costs through the carbon tax. Is it really a surprise that businesses are moving and investors are fleeing? That is the scary point.