Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise to speak to the budget implementation act at third reading. As I think all members of this House know, budgets are really where the government shows its hand, and notwithstanding what it might say, what its real priorities are.
We can look at this budget implementation act and what is in it and compare it to what was in the budget document. There were some things the Liberals said they wanted to move ahead with in the budget document that were laudable. The question then becomes, when the time comes to put them into law and decide what we are going to move ahead with, whether they are here in the budget implementation act. If they are not here, then all Canadians get on those issues are the words in the budget document, which by themselves do not do anything for Canadians and do not change anything.
If the government wants to say, as I believe it did in the budget document, that it is going to get hard on CEOs who are abusing tax loopholes to avoid paying their fair share of taxes, that is all well and good. We say that too. However, if it does not put that in the implementation legislation to change the law that allows those CEOs to do that legally, they are just words.
The Liberals said in the budget document that they were concerned about workers, such as the Sears workers. Of course, we know that workers in many other companies, across many other industries, have faced a similar problem: the company declares bankruptcy and the money in its pension plan is doled out to big banks and investors, or in some cases, to the very same CEOs who were underfunding the pension plan for years by taking holidays or in other ways. It is all well and good for the government to say that it is concerned about that in the budget document, but when it comes down to it, even though what is happening is absolutely wrong, it is legal.
The point of raising the issue and what it means to stand up for those workers is for the government to say that it will change the law so that it is no longer legal. If that is done, those companies can be pursued in court and made to face justice. This budget implementation act does not do that, even though the government talked about the issue in the budget.
The Liberals brag about bringing in a new carbon pricing regime on the one hand. On the other hand, they have told us in question period many times over not to worry, because 85% of Canadians already live under a carbon pricing regime. Which is it? Are they providing leadership on carbon pricing, or are Canadians largely already there? I think there is a real tension in that message.
What is a glaring deficiency in the carbon pricing regime they have proposed in this budget implementation act is that for the fallback carbon price for provinces that do not already have their own systems, the government has not proposed any kind of rebate system. In provinces like B.C. and Alberta, the NDP brought in carbon price rebate programs to ensure that low-income Canadians were not disproportionately affected by a new carbon price. That is something the government could have put into this legislation. It is something we would have been happy to push harder for, although we have mentioned it in the House before.
One of the things we tried to do was take those carbon pricing provisions and break them out into a separate piece of legislation so that we could have a more detailed study of those provisions. That would have provided the opportunity to talk about a meaningful rebate program for low-income Canadians, including seniors who are living on fixed incomes, who will be hit by this in provinces where they do not already have that regime or in provinces that will bring in a carbon pricing regime but will not bring in a rebate program. We think that would have been appropriate and that the federal government could have modelled that in this legislation. However, because it insisted on bringing in that pricing regime in an omnibus budget bill instead of breaking it out, we did not have the time it takes to prepare those kinds of proposals. That is one of the problems with these kinds of bills.
I have said this in the House many times, and I truly believe it. Part of the problem with omnibus bills and using time allocation in the way the current government has, which is setting records with respect to the amount it uses it, and the short period of time it allows after imposing time allocation, is that civil society does not get the opportunity to weigh in on these bills.
It is difficult enough for members of Parliament who have not had a lot of time to appreciate what is in a bill to do their due diligence. However, we are supported. We are supported by the Library of Parliament. We have staff in our offices, and still we struggle. In some cases, due to the time constraints imposed by the government, we are not able to do the kind of study and perform the kind of due diligence I think people expect of members in this place. However, for people in civil society who do not have that kind of time and do not have those resources who are trying to educate themselves about what is happening here in Ottawa after work or between looking after their kids, and all the many other things Canadians do during a day, time allocation in this place makes it even harder for them to engage in discourse about what is happening.
Pensions are a big issue for folks where I am from in Elmwood—Transcona. Therefore, it was a big disappointment to see that there was no legislative follow-through on the discussion of pension theft in the budget document. It was a rather weak discussion, I would say. Nevertheless, if one wanted proof that those words were weak and did not mean anything, the fact that there is nothing here, particularly in light of the fact that my colleague for Hamilton Mountain has already drafted the legislation that would be required to get this done and that the government has taken the good ideas of some other NDP members and incorporated them into government legislation already, shows that the government decided not to move forward with it. I think that is a disappointment to a lot of hard-working people across Canada, particularly in Elmwood—Transcona, some of whom worked at Sears and others who saw what was happening to employees. It was a long-standing institution at Kildonan Place mall. People felt that the workers who worked there for all those years ought to get a fair shake. It is disappointing not to see that.
People in Elmwood—Transcona are disappointed to see that the only thing that came of all the talk on pharmacare by the government was the establishment of a simple committee, and there is actually no money even for that committee to operate. Maybe they will find that money elsewhere. Why they would not put it in the budget, though, in terms of being open and transparent about what the costs for that committee are actually going to be, I do not know.
When we talk about fairness for workers and a budget implementation act being an important opportunity for the government to signal its commitment to a good future for workers, where they can go out and get a fair day's pay for a fair day's work, we think of women across this country who have been waiting for a very long time to get pay equity. Again, pay equity was mentioned in the budget document. However, it does not appear anywhere here.
When we talk about pay equity, the debate for decades has centred on the need to bring in legislation. If this was going to happen spontaneously, out of the good will of corporate Canada, presumably it would have happened a long time ago. We know we need legislation. The budget document itself said we needed legislation. The budget document in 2016 said we needed legislation. The Liberals, in the campaign in 2015, said we needed legislation. Here is another opportunity that has gone by to provide that legislation, and people are rightly beginning to wonder if another election is going to go by before we see that legislation presented.
Pay equity is an important component of any real vision for the future in Canada where we manifest real fairness for workers. We cannot ignore over half the workforce and pay them less for doing work of equal value and pretend that we have fairness for workers in the country. That is another example of where this budget implementation act simply does not live up to the kind of vision the Liberals were trying to project in their budget documents.
Therefore, I forgive Canadians who maybe listened to the news coverage or even the budget debate and thought, wow, there is a lot of great stuff in there for workers. The fact of the matter is that this does not really bring us closer to a fair future for Canadian workers. It ought to. That is why I came to Parliament. I know that is why my colleagues here in the NDP caucus came to Parliament. We will continue to hold the government to account until we replace it.