That, given the government's carbon tax will impose higher gas prices, and making “better choices”, as the Prime Minister suggested, will not help most Canadians heat their homes and buy groceries, the House call on the government to cancel plans for new taxes that would further raise prices on consumers.
Mr. Speaker, when prices rise, the effective salary of average Canadians drops; the distance their dollar will go shortens; and it becomes harder and harder for people to pay the bills. In recent months, we have seen this problem worsen. Inflation has reached its highest level in a very long time, well over the 2% target rate that is set by the Bank of Canada. This means that the goods and services on which people rely actually become more expensive and more difficult for people to afford at their current salary rates.
The hon. member for Calgary Shepard will be commenting on this, as I will be splitting my time with him today.
Furthermore, the cost of servicing the very large debt levels that Canadians shoulder is also on the rise. Just last week, RBC and TD significantly raised their posted rates for five-year fixed mortgages. In the case of RBC, they went up by 45 basis points or almost 10% of the total interest rate charged to the average mortgage borrower, from 5% to roughly 5.69%. This is on top of record gas prices that are afflicting motorists, particularly in British Columbia but starting to affect people right across the country.
One of the root causes of increased costs for consumers is most often forgotten, and that is the cost of government. Government represents over 40% of our entire economy. Thus, when the cost of government rises, the cost of everything else rises with it, and that is the focus of my remarks today. Let me dissect how growing government costs cascade down to consumers at all levels.
Let me start with the proposed Liberal carbon tax. The government has said it will impose a tax on anything that requires fossil fuels to produce or deliver. What does this mean to the average Canadian consumer? The government admits that the carbon tax would increase the cost of gasoline by at least 11¢ a litre at the pump. The Liberals admit that the average households would pay roughly $200 more per year to heat their homes. That is all they are prepared to admit.
They have not calculated how much this tax would increase the cost of groceries, which of course are transported by truck and rail. Therefore, when the transportation costs go up, the costs are passed on to consumers at the end of the day. The Liberals have not revealed how much costs will increase for other household expenses, such as electricity. In many, if not most, provinces, electricity is produced by some form of fossil fuel, whether natural gas, coal fire, or some other source that would be affected by this carbon tax. Even people taking transit might end up paying more for their transit passes because so many of our buses continue to run on gas, diesel, or natural gas, all of which will become more expensive once this carbon tax is fully imposed.
Finance Canada has released documents conceding that the cost of the carbon tax would cascade down to consumers through higher prices. I have obtained documents from Finance Canada estimating how much those costs would be for households, depending on their income. The only problem is that the government blacked out all the numbers on those documents. We know from the evidence I have obtained that there will be higher prices for Canadian households; we just do not know how much, because the government is concealing that information.
Before the House now is Bill C-74, the budget bill, which would impose a federal carbon tax of $50 per tonne of greenhouse gases.
The government is asking our permission, as the House of Commons, which has the exclusive power of the purse, to give the finance minister permission to impose this tax, without telling us what the tax will cost.
The basic principle of the power of the purse is that the government cannot tax what Parliament has not approved. However, Parliament cannot approve what it does know. Right now, we do not know how much this tax will cost average Canadians.
There is a whole series of estimates. Some estimate it will be $1,000 a household. Some estimate more, some slightly less, but the government will not say, even though it has performed all of the calculations. It knows; it just does not want Canadians to know.
This is a particularly insidious tax because all of its costs are embedded in other products. For example, the price of fresh fruit might become more expensive for a single mother, but she will not know what share of the extra cost of that fruit is the tax. She might assume that it is just that her local grocer has raised prices. In this way, the government is attempting to blame local shopkeepers, grocers, and other small businesses for rising prices that are really imposed by government.