House of Commons Hansard #364 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was jobs.

Topics

Opposition Motion—The EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.

Liberal

Francesco Sorbara Liberal Vaughan—Woodbridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is great to rise to speak to this opposition day. It is great to rise because we know the economy of Canada is strong. We know the economy is growing. We know that benefits all middle-class workers and those Canadians who are working very hard and diligently to join the middle-class. I am proud to state that.

I would like to offer my colleagues on the other side a chance to take a look at The Globe and Mail today and the article from the CEO of Linamar, Linda Hasenfratz. She talks about her company investing hundreds of millions of dollars in their plants in Guelph. She talks about the company competing and winning. She talks about Ontario being a place the world can invest in because of its innovation and highly-valued manufacturing. She talks about those jobs coming to the province of Ontario.

I, as a member of Parliament for the riding of Vaughan—Woodbridge, know full well the economic contributions of our entrepreneurs who are working diligently, putting capital to work and employing thousands of Canadians and, most important, creating those good middle-class jobs that we want for Canadians and their families.

Three years ago, Canadians chose a government committed to growing the middle class and creating new opportunities for Canadians to succeed. They wanted a government that would base its decision on science and facts. They wanted a government that would be bold, that would be a trailblazer, that would lead, and we are certainly doing that. They wanted solutions that worked, with a proven record of delivering positive results for Canadians.

Canadians do not want Canada to be more competitive simply to enrich the top 1% at the expense of everyone else. Canadians want a more competitive Canada so hard-working Canadians have more opportunities to share in the benefits that come from a strong and growing economy.

We asked the wealthiest 1% of Canadians to pay a little more so we could cut taxes for the middle class Canadians, a tax cut for nine million Canadians over a five-year period, a multi-billion dollar tax cut for hard-working middle-class Canadians from coast to coast to coast.

With new measures like the Canada child benefit, we have provided real help to those who need it. These results are not built on ideology; they are built on facts and the facts are clear. Over the course of the past three years, Canadians have created over half a million full-time jobs. Many of those jobs are in the city of Vaughan in the riding I represent, Vaughan—Woodbridge.

The unemployment rate is at a historic 40-year low and the share of working-age Canadians with jobs is at an all-time high. Our economy grew at the fastest pace among our G7 peers in 2017, at 3%, and we are expected to remain among the leaders in growth this year and next year. Most important, the economic growth we are seeing in Canada is inclusive and Canadians are benefiting from it. Groups that have been under-represented in the labour force, such as young Canadians, new Canadians, women and indigenous peoples, are joining the workforce and improving their position in it.

Our successes in building a more competitive economy are far from over. We know, for example, that there is tremendous untapped potential within Canada's small business sector. By empowering entrepreneurs, we are empowering Canadians.

Seven out of ten jobs in the private sector are created by small businesses. We know that keeping taxes low and competitive allows Canadian business owners to keep more of their revenues so they can invest more in their companies and create even more well-paid jobs.

That is why we reduced the small business tax to 10% effective last January. In January 2019, the rate will be reduced even further to 9%.

However, there is still work to be done. Even though Canada's economy is strong and growing, we know that we cannot take that for granted. The Government of Canada listened to the business community. We understood that many businesses are concerned about their competitiveness, the recent tax reform in the U.S., and the impact that current international trade disputes could have on their bottom line.

We also know that Canadian businesses have what it takes to compete and succeed. In our fall economic statement, we looked for ways to encourage this investment in a responsible and targeted way so that businesses can have confidence in the future and be better able to invest in jobs for the middle class.

We continue to grow and strengthen our middle class here in Canada, the backbone of our economy.

Our fall economic statement proposed a number of tax changes designed to support business investment. These changes include allowing businesses to immediately write off the full cost of machinery and equipment used in manufacturing and processing as well as the full cost of specific clean-energy equipment.

We are also introducing the accelerated investment incentive to allow businesses of all sizes and across all sectors to write off a larger share of the cost of newly acquired assets in the year they are purchased.

These are important changes because increased deductions will attract more investment in assets that will stimulate business growth and make more jobs available for middle-class Canadians.

An accelerated capital cost allowance will grow our economy, incentivize firms to invest here in Canada and continue to invest here in Canada, and is something we can be proud of as a prudent fiscal measure in response to the measures that were brought in by the United States. We are doing it in a fiscally prudent manner. We are lowering our debt-to-GDP ratio. We are strengthening our fiscal anchor. We are growing our economy. We are strengthening our middle class, something we should all be proud of in this country.

The fall economic statement also proposes measures to do more to modernize regulations so as to make it easier for businesses to grow.

Perhaps my colleagues have heard people say that one of the biggest challenges for businesses is complying with all the necessary regulations imposed by the government. Members who have owned businesses might have first-hand experience with this. Let me be very clear: regulations play an important role.

We need to understand that regulations play an important role in attracting investment. Our regulations need to be transparent. They need to be effective. There needs to be a certainty. With bills like Bill C-69, that is what we are doing. We are putting regulations in bills for investors to know and understand the rules that they face so that they can invest here in Canada and continue to grow our economy.

Regulations serve as a book of rules governing how businesses must carry out their activities, and they play a crucial role in protecting the health and safety of Canadians and protecting our natural environment. Over time, however, regulations can become outdated, and regulatory burdens can accumulate, making Canada a less attractive place to invest and do business.

In our fall economic statement, we are taking action to overcome that challenge, for example, by planning a review of the legislative provisions so as to encourage regulators to take into account efficiency and economic considerations. To that end, we are introducing an annual modernization bill to keep regulations up to date, striking an external advisory committee to look at Canada's regulatory competitiveness, creating a centre for regulatory innovation and taking immediate action in response to a number of business recommendations.

We are also taking steps to help make Canada the most globally connected economy in the world. With the successful conclusion of the new North American Free Trade Agreement, as well as the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, CETA, and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, CPTPP. We are continuing our ongoing negotiations with Mercosur, and let us hope we can come to a trade agreement there. We know that progressive liberalized trade lifts all boats, strengthens our middle class, creates jobs here in Canada, creates jobs abroad, and is something good that we need to do for our future, the future of my children, and those great manufacturers and entrepreneurs located in the riding of Vaughan—Woodbridge.

Canada is now the only G7 country to have free trade agreements concluded with all other G7 nations. We want to give Canadian businesses more opportunities to grow and succeed. That is why we are proposing things like an export diversification strategy, to help grow Canada's overseas exports by 50% by 2025, with more help for small and medium-sized businesses, to help them explore new export opportunities.

To boost trade overseas, the government is also proposing accelerated investments in transportation corridors leading to Asia and Europe.

The actions taken by our government are not just making Canadians more competitive, we also want Canadians to benefit from being more competitive, with more jobs and brighter futures. That is what our government is about: strengthening the middle class.

Opposition Motion—The EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:35 p.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, at one point near the end of his speech, my colleague commented on the successful conclusion of the NAFTA. That is a bit of a joke because the Prime Minister said he would not appear at the signing unless the tariffs were removed. Here we are, with the aluminum and steel tariffs still in place.

From someone in the Waterloo region who spoke at committee earlier this year:

Currently, we directly employ approximately 475 people in the Waterloo region and support significantly more jobs in Canada. These are well paying value-added jobs.... Current Canada-U.S. tariffs are driving up prices of our inputs in North America and threatening our supply chain. The pressure heightened when the U.S. imposed a 25% tariff on steel and a 10% tariff on aluminum under section 232. Things were made worse when the EU and Canada responded with retaliatory tariffs. Our steel costs are up 18% this year alone. This is a substantial increase that our competitors...do not contend with.

How can my colleague believe that the USMCA is a good agreement, that is an improvement on the NAFTA when the tariffs on aluminum and steel continue to damage our small businesses in Canada?

Opposition Motion—The EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:35 p.m.

Liberal

Francesco Sorbara Liberal Vaughan—Woodbridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, very simply, it is in our overwhelming interest, for both Canada and the United States, that these reciprocal tariffs to be lifted. We have taken measures to protect our industry including $16.6 billion in reciprocal measures against U.S. imports. We will stand up for Canadian workers. We will stand up for Canadian businesses.

However, with regard to the renegotiated NAFTA, the new USMCA, we just have to look at what former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney said this week, that it was a “good deal”. We just need to look at what individuals such as members of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers' Association said, that it was a good deal. We need to look at leaders, from Linamar to Martinrea to Magna, to industries from coast to coast to coast, who said it was a good deal.

It was a great deal negotiated by our government and if we had capitulated like the Conservatives wanted, we would have had a worse deal.

Opposition Motion—The EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:40 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, my colleague mentioned the issue of USMCA and there is no doubt that we have had to make concessions in dairy, auto, digital rights and patent protection with regard to the extension of two years that will affect drug costs.

One of the concerns is that the USMCA does have to go through Congress and the Senate to be ratified. Congressional members are amending the bill right now with regard to hearings and the input they are getting from stakeholders. We are unlikely to see the exact same deal.

Will the Liberals continue to support a further amended USMCA with greater concessions, or is this the final line drawn in the sand for them?

Opposition Motion—The EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

December 4th, 2018 / 12:40 p.m.

Liberal

Francesco Sorbara Liberal Vaughan—Woodbridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have travelled with the hon. member from the Windsor area on the Canada-United States Inter-Parliamentary Group to the United States. We have spoken to a number of senators and congressmen and congresswomen about the importance of two-way free trade between Canada and the U.S. That is what we need to continue to do.

We need to continue that dialogue with the U.S. representatives both in the Senate and in Congress, ensuring that they know the benefits of trade between our countries, the volume of trade between our countries and how important the supply chain is between our two countries. I know in Windsor that supply chain for autos and auto parts is considerably important to the future and the lives and the jobs of those auto workers and that is why the supply chain has been maintained in the USMCA. We can be proud of that fact. When the Prime Minister went to Windsor, he was greeted by those workers and they thanked him and our negotiating team for the new revised NAFTA.

Opposition Motion—The EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:40 p.m.

Conservative

Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, I know members are riveted and want to know the answer to a question that was asked of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change last Friday in question period, and the member of Parliament for Central Nova also brought it up. Earlier in debate, the member for Central Nova misled the House by saying that I do not believe in climate change. I want to put this to rest. Yes, I believe in climate change. Hopefully that puts—

Opposition Motion—The EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:40 p.m.

An hon. member

Hallelujah.

Opposition Motion—The EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:40 p.m.

Conservative

Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Yes, hallelujah. I hope that is put to bed.

What I do not believe is how a carbon tax is going to do anything to bring down global emissions. It is not going to do anything to mitigate any global emissions and fight global climate change. Liberals like to say they have a plan when really it is a tax plan. The voters who elected our friend from Central Nova should probably be a bit concerned. I guess that is what happens when voters elect somebody from away. He might have been born in Antigonish, but he spent his formative years outside the riding and that is what we are seeing here today.

I am honoured to stand in the House to speak to this motion, brought forward by my colleague and good friend, the member for Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola.

I should have said I will be splitting my time with the member for Edmonton West.

It is fitting that the member for Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola brought this motion forward. I am going to focus my debate on softwood and how the Liberal government's failures have impacted the hard-working foresters and forestry families who depend on forestry and softwood for their livelihoods.

I want to give kudos where they are due. The very first time the word “softwood” was mentioned in the House was December 7, 2015, and it was by none other than the member for Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola. I want to go on record that I was the second person to say the word “softwood”. At no other time in the House has the importance of softwood and fighting for our forestry families been more evident than on this side of the House with the Conservative caucus.

It was not mentioned in the mandate letter to the minister and it was not mentioned in the first throne speech by the current government. As a matter of fact, the very first mention of softwood in Hansard by a Liberal member of Parliament was January 29, 2016. That is shocking. As I said, there was no mention of it in the minister's mandate letter and no mention of it in the Speech from the Throne. This is a $69-billion industry that provides a quarter of a million direct jobs and approximately one million indirect jobs. That is huge, and there was not one mention of it by the government. It has failed hard-working forestry families and rural communities. Over 600 communities across our country depend on forestry and yet the government, its economic policies and its failure to take action on critical issues are failing.

These are jobs in communities where there are often few other options: rural communities and northern communities. Forestry is one of the largest employers of our indigenous people, over 12,000 people, and an industry that works with over 1,400 indigenous-owned companies and suppliers. Softwood lumber is now being held ransom by an increasingly protectionist U.S. administration and the government's failure to act when it mattered the most.

The Liberal government has failed time and time again. There is so much fodder for us to use in today's motion. It is like a pre-Christmas gift. The fall economic update tabled just a few weeks ago did nothing to protect forestry jobs. The failed economic policies of the government are having a severe impact on Canadians right across our country.

Two weeks ago, notices of mill closures, work curtailment and layoffs swept through my province, British Columbia. There were hundreds of job losses in my riding alone. These are families who, just weeks before Christmas, are now facing tough times. What do they get from the government? Time and time again over the last three years, as we continue to press, it is, “Just hang in there. Don't worry. Be happy.”

West Fraser Timber, Conifex Timber, Tolko Industries, Canfor and Interfor have all announced some form of work or job action. Lumber producers in my riding have shut their doors because of the government's failed policies and inaction on critical issues. The Liberals are pandering shamefully to environmental groups. Over the last three years, we have stressed the importance of this industry time and time again, yet all we have heard from these guys is, “Hey, we've got this.”

B.C. is the largest exporter of softwood lumber to the U.S. The B.C. forest industry is the major contributor to the provincial and national economy. Every province is being negatively impacted by the government's economic policy, but nowhere are the government's failures in the forestry sector more evident than in my province.

Those members say it has never been better. There are hundreds of job layoffs, and it has never been better, according to them. That is like the tweet the Prime Minister sent last week, where he gave away $50 million. My gosh, when there are job losses in Alberta and B.C., how insensitive can he be?

There are a number of issues that are creating this terrible environment. I am not going to put all of the burden on the government. We have massive infestations, whether it is the pine beetle, the spruce beetle or the Liberals. That is what we are hearing. There have also been devastating wildfires in the last two seasons. In 2017, we lost 1.2 million hectares. In 2018, we lost 1.25 million hectares of fibre. It is getting harder and harder for our forestry companies to compete.

Another issue that these ministers and the government are aware of and yet have failed to act on is rail access for our forestry companies. In a recent survey, over $500 million of product had been stranded. The government has stranded our forestry companies and failed to deal with this issue. It would rather piecemeal this rail system issue with a smattering here and there, but our western Canadian producers are getting nothing. That is shameful. Eighty per cent of forestry mills in Canada are dependent on only one rail line. There are few other options, especially given a truck-driver shortage.

We also have a species at risk, which is the caribou herd problem. Canada has one of the most rigorous, environmentally sound forestry practices in the world. We are known around the world for careful management of our forests, yet the government continues to engage and put a priority on environmentalists and their programs, rather than on our producers, who are sustainable.

We also have the most sustainable harvesting in the world. As a matter of fact, just last week the government hosted a round table on the caribou herd issue. It brought in an activist group called the Natural Resources Defense Council. They had the nerve to say on the stage that in Canada, they do not replant their trees. However, it is the law that we have to replant the trees. As a matter of fact, in British Columbia, for every tree we harvest, we plant three.

That is what the government is listening to, and it is shameful, because it gives more credibility to environmentalists like Greenpeace, which wants to shut down our forestry companies. As a matter of fact, a few years ago, Greenpeace chose Resolute Forest Products as its next victim. Greenpeace went after it and its customers, and said that it is a forest destroyer and is causing caribou death and extinction. Then, when there was a lawsuit, Greenpeace came back and said that it was hyperbole, heated rhetoric, non-verifiable statements or subjective opinion, and should not be taken literally or expose them to any legal liability. That is who the government is listening to, and that is shameful.

We will always stand up for Canadian jobs, and we will stand up against the government's failed economic policies.

Opposition Motion—The EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

I want to remind hon. members that, just as members have done now, it is good that as we begin the period for questions and comments any members interested in participating stand up right at the start. It gives us chair occupants an idea of how many people we would like to fit into a short five-minute period. When members see that there is quite a bit of interest in participating in that period, it would reinforce the notion that they should keep their interventions more concise.

We will go first to the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change.

Opposition Motion—The EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

Sean Fraser Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Lib.

Mr. Speaker, to begin, a couple of shots were taken at me for having spent some time out in Calgary. As an Atlantic Canadian, I can say that one of the things that actually makes us more from Nova Scotia is spending a couple of years out west. One of the reasons so many people do that is that the previous government described ours as a culture of defeatism and never invested in Atlantic Canada for 10 years.

With respect to the radio interview that I referenced in my remarks, when asked whether human beings, in their industrial activity, caused climate change, the hon. member indicated that the climate has been changing for thousands of years. He likened it to more bodies going into a room and heating it up. When he was asked directly, “Are we in agreement...that human activity is causing climate change?” he said, “Quite possibly.” The interviewer asked, “Quite possibly, or it is?” The member accused the interviewer of trying to go down a rabbit hole.

I am going to give the hon. member an opportunity to clarify his remarks. Does he believe that climate change is a result of humans' industrial activity, or does he think it is a factor of more people being on the planet? If he believes that we are responsible for climate change, can he name one thing that the Conservative Party is going to do to contribute to the fight against climate change?

Opposition Motion—The EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, I love this tactic of deflect, deflect, deflect, and, “It is all about them, not us.” There is nothing to see here. Yes, I believe in climate change. Does that work?

We should be asking these guys and the government across the way and my hon. colleague from Central Nova what they are doing. What is their plan? The Liberals are taxing. We know there is a tax, but what are they doing? What are they doing to impact the caribou herds, for example? Maybe there is an impact of climate change on the caribou herds. What is the Liberals' action for that? What is their plan for that?

I should ask as well what their plan is to work with the provincial governments and the forestry sector to stem the tides of fires and pests. On that note, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change has stood in the House and talked about the carbon tax plan and how it is going to limit wildfires and floods. How high does it have to be? We have had a carbon tax in B.C. for over 10 years.

Opposition Motion—The EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have a quick climate change question for my friend. The first climate change legislation passed in any democracy was passed by the late Jack Layton and the NDP and unanimously agreed to in this House, but it later died in the Senate.

I would ask whether my colleague agrees with the Senate's killing a bill on climate change that was actually agreed to in this chamber. What does it say to the world when we have an undemocratic, unelected Senate that actually defeated legislation on climate change from a democratized chamber like this one?

Opposition Motion—The EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.

Conservative

Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am not going to get into one House versus the other, or policies, laws and legislation that have been introduced in the past. Everybody knows that when I am asked such things, I politely decline and say that I was not elected at that time, so I will leave it at that.

It is interesting that we have this debate. We are losing hundreds, if not thousands of jobs because of the current government's failed policies. We hear the heckling across the way. It is so insensitive when we have oil workers, forestry workers and manufacturers who are out of work and we hear the heckling from the government side. That in itself is shameful. The Liberals should know better.

Opposition Motion—The EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.

Liberal

René Arseneault Liberal Madawaska—Restigouche, NB

Mr. Speaker, with a certain pettiness and mean-spiritedness that he has perfected, my hon. colleague from Cariboo—Prince George insinuated earlier that my colleague from Central Nova is incapable of understanding the needs of his constituents because he left his region for a time to go and work in western Canada.

Is my colleague from Cariboo—Prince George saying that his party leader, who was born in Ottawa and now lives in the riding of Regina—Qu'Appelle, is incapable of representing Canadians properly? That is my first question.

My second question is this: what is the Conservative plan for carbon dioxide emissions?

Opposition Motion—The EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.

Conservative

Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition is not only going to be the leader for now, he is going to be the leader of our country for the future. The member talked about our hon. colleague going to Calgary for a while. I spent time in Grand Bank because of the questionable surf clam scam that the former minister of fisheries and oceans and the Canadian coast guard levied on the town of Grand Bank. I guess that makes me very successful and gives me the ability to represent all Canadians, because I spent a lot of time on the east coast, dealing with the clam scam issue, as well as on the west coast.

With that, I will cede the floor.

Opposition Motion—The EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.

Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is nice to hear so many cheers, or jeers perhaps. I am pleased today to speak to our opposition day motion calling for the House to recognize the looming job crisis.

Liberals will stand here in the House, and outside as well, one after the other and spout off how rosy things are: super-duper low unemployment, best-in-class GDP, dropping levels of poverty for everyone, rising wages, all the work done for women in the workforce and the $40-billion national housing study.

Actually, I have just done as much work for all these items as the Liberals have, because all they have done is announce things and not delivered anything.

I want to look at the facts. It reminds me of the meme, “Annoy a Liberal, use facts and logic.” Well, I want to give a warning right now. I am going to use facts and logic.

Let us look at the unemployment rate. It is 57% higher than the U.S. unemployment rate right now. The U.S. has probably the largest disadvantaged and marginalized demographic in the free world, and we have a 57% higher unemployment rate than it does. We have the fifth-highest unemployment rate in the G7. We are ahead only of France and Italy. They have basket-case economies with low growth and high average age, and we are barely ahead of them.

I want to go over how the unemployment rate has changed in the last couple of years, since the economic crisis. In the U.S., unemployment has dropped by 55%. The U.K., which is dealing with Brexit, was still able to drop its unemployment rate by 50%. Japan dropped it by 38%. Germany has dropped its unemployment rate by 52%.

Where does Canada sit? Ours has dropped by 19%. It is great; every job created is a win, but why are we so far behind all the other G7 countries?

The world is riding on an economic boom and we are sitting out on the sidelines. We hear again and again from the other side that Canada has the highest GDP growth in the G7. Liberals used to repeat that every day, until I rose on a point of order and offered to table a document from the Library of Parliament, showing that we were not first. All of sudden, they changed their mantra to, “Canada has among the highest growth in the G7.”

In just the last couple of weeks, they are now back to saying we are the best in the G7. Well, here is where we are. We are not the best and we are not the second-best. We have fallen behind the U.S. and Germany. We are also well below the IMF advanced countries, mostly made up of the OECD countries. Our GDP growth is well below OECD levels, and also well below world GDP growth.

The government talks a lot about reducing poverty. Just on Friday, we were discussing its poverty reduction plan. We talked about how we are going to measure it from now on. Page 8 of the document, which has the metrics, is blank.

The government said on Friday that it is reducing poverty for seniors. The reality is that poverty rates for seniors have gone up since the government took over in 2015.

Regarding wages, the finance minister stood in this House and said that Canadians are seeing the strongest wage growth in years. Guess what? The Parliamentary Budget Officer says that basically the entire growth in wages is due to the increase in the minimum wages in B.C., Alberta and Ontario. We can debate all day whether an increase in the minimum wage is good or bad, and whether it takes away employment from those at the bottom or benefits them, but the reality is that the provincial government-imposed minimum wage increases basically make up the entire wage growth in Canada.

The PBO also stated that for the first time in decades we are reaching the end of a growth cycle without wage gains. People in Canada feel they are not getting ahead; they are falling behind. They are feeling that because it is true. Therefore, the Liberals say, “What the heck, people are in trouble. What should we do? Let us hit them with a carbon tax. Why not?”

With regard to women in the workplace, we hear again and again from the government about gender-based analysis and what they are doing for women. It is wonderful, but it is not working. Workforce participation for women has dropped since the government took over. It reached a high under the Harper era, but has dropped since the current government took over.

Time after time, Liberals stand here and brag about all they are doing, but it is not working. With the national housing program, on Friday, we heard Liberals talk about $5 billion this year. Former PBO Kevin Page, from the Institute of Fiscal Studies and Democracy, has stated that he is only able to identify $1.5 billion over five years, not $5 billion this year. He says that the Liberals' entire plan for housing is just a glossy document.

Last week we held an emergency debate on the crisis in Alberta, where Liberal actions have led to the price of a barrel of Alberta crude being valued about the same as two lattes at Starbucks, and those are the tall size, not the venti.

I want to review the Liberal record.

First, the Liberals discredited the National Energy Board. The PM said it had been gutted and therefore that it could not be trusted. He said decisions would go back to being based on science, facts and evidence, as if the NEB were not already making decisions based on that. He said that the NEB would have to consider the views of the public. Therefore, it is science, facts and evidence if necessary, but not necessarily science facts and evidence.

Proponents jumped all over the newly discredited NEB. They used the PM's own word against the NEB's approval of pipelines, such as northern gateway. That pipeline would have brought oil to a deep-water port for large ships to bring it over to Asia. That was killed by the Liberals through an order in council. They will stand and say that it was a business decision. Rather, it was killed by cabinet through an order in council.

The Liberal MP for Calgary Centre was in cabinet at the time. Calgary Centre is the heart, the headquarters, of our oil industry. He said that northern gateway was merely paused. However, it was killed. It just shows how completely out of touch the Liberals are with reality.

We asked the Liberal member of Parliament for Edmonton Centre to stand and tell the people of Edmonton that he would vote against the job-killing, pipeline-killing, Alberta-killing Bill C-69, the “no new pipeline anywhere” bill. This is a bill to ensure that no new resource projects will ever be built in Canada again. He said he was proud of the bill and of the government. He was proud that the government gave taxpayer funding to Tides Canada. It is the same Tides organization that is funded through the U.S. and working to destroy the Alberta economy and jobs, and the current government gave money to it. He was proud of that.

He said he was proud of the carbon tax, a tax that sees Edmonton cement companies losing out on government infrastructure contracts to China because they are priced out of the market because of the tax.

He said he is proud of the policies that have sent people to the food bank in record numbers in Edmonton.

The Liberal member for Edmonton Centre said he was proud that the Liberals killed energy east by constantly moving the goal posts.

He said he was proud of his government rewarding the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with guaranteed markets to the east coast by blocking Alberta oil.

He said he was proud to have voted for the tanker ban to landlock Alberta oil, all the while ignoring the fact that we have never had an oil spill on the B.C. coast. It is a testament to the great work of the Pacific coast pilots.

The Liberal member for Edmonton Centre said he was proud of the government and how it has driven Kinder Morgan out of the country with $4.5 billion of taxpayers' money to invest in Texas to compete with us and to let the TMX sit unstarted.

He said he was proud of the Liberal policy that sent hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayers' money to China for the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank to build oil pipelines in the suburbs of Beijing. That was taxpayer money from Alberta to China to build pipelines outside Beijing. By the way, not one penny of any of the infrastructure bank projects have gone to Canadian businesses.

Alberta is suffering through its worst crisis since Trudeau senior almost destroyed Alberta with his national energy policy, and today's Liberals are right back at it. It is shameful that the three Liberal MPs from Alberta are proudly watching this happen. With friends like these, Alberta does not need enemies.

Opposition Motion—The EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:05 p.m.

Liberal

Mike Bossio Liberal Hastings—Lennox and Addington, ON

Mr. Speaker, after listening to the Conservatives, I guess I cannot blame them for being green with envy about the record growth and employment rates this country has seen under our government. With the lowest unemployment rate in 40 years, I can see why they would want to try to mess with the facts as much as possible. I am lost for the reasoning behind why they want to go in that direction when there is so much great news to discuss about what this government has been able to achieve in the last three years.

Does the member across the way feel that climate change is because of human-generated GHG emissions, or just millions of years of climate evolution? If he does believe that it is caused by human-generated GHG emissions, what is their plan for doing something about it? They like to talk and bash this government for the responsible actions it is taking to deal with climate change and its existential threat to future generations, but we have still not heard of a plan from the other side.

Opposition Motion—The EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:05 p.m.

Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

Mr. Speaker, normally I would thank my colleague for the question, but I do not. It is offensive. We are here to discuss the crisis that is happening. I am here discussing the crisis that is happening in Alberta. A hundred thousand people are unemployed because of this government, and there is record usage of food banks and suicides are on the rise, and the member across gets up and asks, “What is your belief?” We know climate is changing.

Blake Shaffer from the Fulbright School at Stanford University has commented that the government's large emitter pricing system is going to defeat its own purpose. He asks what is our plan. Their plan does not work.

I want to get back to why we are debating today. It is the job crisis. Three thousand are unemployed in Oshawa. I would ask the member to take this issue seriously, to stand up for constituents and workers in Canada and stop playing politics.

Opposition Motion—The EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.

Sean Fraser Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Lib.

Mr. Speaker, one of the interesting parts of the motion mentions higher payroll taxes. The member talked at length about the difficult time businesses are having, which by the way is not based on fact when we look at the economic record of our government.

I am curious. One of the questions I asked previous speakers about and got a very troubling answer in response was this. Is he concerned that the enhancements our government made to the Canada pension plan will be so devastating to the Canadian economy that the Conservative Party of Canada would take away a dignified retirement from our seniors by repealing the improvements we have made to that plan?

Opposition Motion—The EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.

Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

Mr. Speaker, the government has commented so much about making fact-based decision-making, but it shows once again: it is great at making announcements, but gets a D on delivery.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business did a massive survey of thousands upon thousands of businesses. It heard very clearly that the increases in the payroll tax are going to come at the expense of lower wage increases for employees and fewer job opportunities.

As stated in quite a few reports, the reality is that this is a made-up crisis by the Liberal government in order to push through another tax. It is very clear that the CPP is safe, but it delivers below-average returns compared with RRSPs or other investment vehicles. It is purely a tax on jobs, and it is going to cost Canadians in the short and long runs.

Opposition Motion—The EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.

Conservative

Matt Jeneroux Conservative Edmonton Riverbend, AB

Mr. Speaker, before addressing a question to my hon. friend, who is working incredibly hard for our province of Alberta, I would like to address some of the comments from the other side. Did the Liberals not see the 2,000 people in the streets of Calgary protesting the Prime Minister's visit there? These people are out of work. These people cannot to put food on the table. These people cannot afford to have Christmas this year. When the members stand up on the other side to ask us about climate change and pension reforms, it is disgusting to hear what they are saying. We on this side of the House are standing up for these workers.

There is a member over here from Edmonton West, who is standing up for our community in Edmonton every single day and pushing back against this terrible rhetoric we are hearing from the other side. I would say that to the other side of the House, but would also commend the member for the hard work he is doing and continues to do for his constituent to highlight the jobs crisis not only in our province, but across the country.

Opposition Motion—The EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.

Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

Mr. Speaker, I thank my neighbour from Edmonton Riverbend for his well thought out and tough question. He is right. We are here to discuss the jobs crisis not only in Alberta, but also elsewhere, because we have seen Bombardier slashing thousands of jobs and have also seen Oshawa decimated.

I would ask the members on the other side to take this issue seriously. These are people's lives at stake, people whom we need to help. The members opposite should not just stand and speak out with false information about how great the economy is, but get to work with all sides of the House to help people in Canada.

Opposition Motion—The EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.

Liberal

William Amos Liberal Pontiac, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Orléans.

Today, we will be talking about economic growth in Canada and job creation. With the fall economic statement, the government continues to meet its commitment to strengthen and grow the middle class while investing in a financially responsible way to promote the strength and growth of the economy today and for the long term.

In the 2018 fall economic statement, we proposed improving competitiveness by allowing the full cost of machinery and equipment used in the manufacturing and processing of goods to be written off immediately for tax purposes, and by introducing the accelerated investment incentive to support investment by businesses of all sizes and across all sectors of the economy. That is good for the farmers in the Pontiac. It is good for the forestry sectors. It is good for my entire riding and all of Canada.

These changes will make it more attractive to invest in assets that will help drive business growth and secure jobs for middle class Canadians.

We propose increasing investment in the clean-tech sector by allowing specified clean energy equipment to be eligible for full and immediate expensing. This will help Canada achieve its climate change goals and become more globally competitive.

We also want to work with the provinces and territories to remove internal trade barriers so that businesses can transport goods more easily, harmonize food inspection and regulations, and harmonize regulations governing the construction sector, including building codes across Canada.

We want to make it easier for businesses to ship alcohol to other provinces and territories. My riding, Pontiac, is close to Ontario, and interprovincial trade is very important to us. I know these measures are of great interest to my constituents.

We also want to help businesses grow by modernizing federal regulations and encouraging regulatory bodies to take economic competitiveness into account in designing and implementing regulations while continuing to protect the health and safety of Canadians as well as our environment.

We will also create a social finance fund to support charitable, non-profit and social purpose organizations across the country with a new source of funding that will help them connect with non-governmental investors.

Lastly, I would like to mention that we are going to move forward on pay equity by ensuring that women and men working in federally regulated sectors receive equal pay for equal work.

In terms of the state of the economy, I am so pleased to be able to speak to the people of the Pontiac and say that our economy is strong and our economy is growing. At 3%, Canada had the strongest growth of all the group of seven countries, the G7, in 2017 and is expected to remain among the fastest-growing economies this year and next.

There are more and more good, well-paying jobs for Canadians. That is what happens when a country, together, creates 550,000 new full-time jobs, pushing the unemployment rate to a historic 40-year low. We are talking about a strong economy, both in the Pontiac and across the country. This is reflected in wage growth. Canadians' wages are growing. For the average Canadian worker, wage growth is outpacing inflation, and if current trends continue, we know that 2018 could mark the strongest year of wage growth in close to a decade.

Consumer confidence is strong. That is reflected in Christmas purchasing already. With more money, more jobs, rising wages and lower taxes for the middle class, Canadians are feeling confident about their own financial positions. This is reflected in consumer confidence, which is elevated, by historical standards.

Business profits are also way up. The after-tax profitability of businesses in Canada is elevated compared to the historical average, adding further positive conditions for more investment.

Then, of course, there is the federal debt-to-GDP ratio. My riding is very concerned about ensuring that we are in control of our expenditures. The federal debt-to-GDP ratio is expected to continue to decline and to reach 28.5% in 2023-24.

No discussion on growing the economy would be complete without mention of the environment. Protecting the environment and growing the economy go together.

Last month's IPCC report confirmed that we are the last generation that can stop climate change. We must act now. Last week, doctors from all over Canada called climate change a “public health crisis”.

Our government has a plan to protect the environment and grow our economy, and this plan is working. Emissions are going down, and since we came to power, Canadians have created hundreds of thousands of jobs across the country.

We are putting a price on pollution, which is what Canadians were expecting. It is an issue we campaigned on, and now we are following through. We are phasing out coal to make sure that 90% of our electricity will be clean by 2030. We are making historic investments in public transportation and green infrastructure, including cycling trails across the Pontiac region.

As I mentioned, we are offering significant incentives to those who want to invest in clean technologies. We have placed a moratorium on offshore drilling in the Arctic, which is a very important issue. Lastly, we are better protecting nature through a $1.3-billion investment over four years.

Any serious government, any government concerned about climate change, understands that we need to put a price on pollution. The World Bank, former Conservative prime ministers, a Nobel Prize winner and business leaders from across our country all support this.

For a decade, the Conservatives had the chance to do something about it, and they did not take that opportunity. Because they could not grow the economy or protect the environment, it seems they chose to do neither.

I would posit that the Conservatives of today are no different from the Conservatives of the Harper era. Instead of bringing ideas to the table, they are fearmongering. They are trying to play the same old game. They are ignoring the cost of climate change, which has impacted Pontiac severely, with floods, droughts and terrible weather events. Ignoring the cost of climate change is putting the future of our kids and grandkids at risk.

The Conservatives have no climate plan, none whatsoever. They have no intention of creating one, so far as we can tell. It is irresponsible. Canadians deserve better.

That is why today, on my Facebook page, Will Amos-Pontiac, Canadians can see the open letter I have written to Andrew Scheer. I am taking—

Opposition Motion—The EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Opposition Motion—The EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

The hon. member for Abitibi—Témiscamingue on a point of order.