Madam Speaker, it is an honour to rise to speak about the budget.
This is the fourth budget to which I have had an opportunity to speak. Each budget tends to have its own flavour, and I like to give them nicknames. In 2016, it was a shopping spree budget. In 2017, it was a virtue-signalling budget. In 2018, it was a nothing burger budget.
If I had to give a name to the 2019 budget, I would call it the recap budget. It is 460 pages long, but in actual fact if we took away everything that was just re-announced, then it would probably only be about 60 pages.
I will try to provide my usual balanced perspective today. I will talk about things in the budget that I am not happy about. Then I will talk about the things that I think would be good for Canadians. Then I will try to bring some helpful suggestions forward on what should really happen to the budget in the future.
First, I was dismayed to see that once again there are huge deficits going on in perpetuity under the Liberal government. The Prime Minister was elected on a promise to Canadians that he would run small deficits of $10 billion and that he would return to balance this year. However, $19.8 billion will be the deficit this year, and that goes on and on.
Why does that matter to Canadians? We have to pay interest on that debt, which is currently $15 billion, the debt we have picked up so far, and it will be $26 billion if we continue at the pace described in the budget.
Let us think about what we could do with $26 billion, such as repairing some of the hospital infrastructure that is missing across the country or spending on palliative care, about which I am passionate. Let us think about what we could do with the $25 billion that currently will pay interest on a debt that is never-ending.
I definitely am not happy to see that we are still in deficit-spending mode.
That said, I think Canadians understand that from time to time, if there is something worth buying, they might take a mortgage on a house or sometimes run up their credit card if an interesting trip comes around. They understand that if they are getting something for it, there might be a point.
However, what are we really getting for these huge deficits that are proposed in budget 2019?
First, from a health care perspective, we are not getting very much. There was an incredible amount of hype in anticipation of the budget. The media was told that this would be a pharmacare budget and that people would be impressed. Everybody was all hyped up. Canadians believe that people who cannot afford their medications ought to be able to get it. Our universal health care system is about that. Canadians would like to see that.
What did the Liberals put in the budget for pharmacare? No money. There were $35 million to create another bureaucracy to add to the PMPRB, CADTH and the pCPA drug approval processes that already exist, that are arguably very long and very costly. That is not going to give medications to anybody in Canada. It is not going to do a thing.
This is after the health committee studied pharmacare for two years. It gave very reasonable recommendations about how different options would be available to help fill the gap for people who could not afford their medications. That was a real miss on the part of the government. It is clear that Eric Hoskins missed his deadline when it came to the pharmacare report that was supposed to be delivered in March, in time for the budget. That is probably why there was absolutely nothing in the budget.
One thing that is good is the money for rare diseases, $500 million a year. We know that one in 20 Canadians has a rare disease, so everyone can relate to a family member who has to spend, in some cases, up to $1 million a year for these medications. Something definitely needs to be done. However, it will be put out in year 2022. That means it is another election promise.
If the Liberals get elected, then they will put $500 million out in 2022. What is the Liberal record on keeping election promises: running small deficits, balancing the budget within the mandate and restoring home mail delivery, no; last election under first past the post, no; no more omnibus bills, okay. I could go on and on about the broken promises. Putting it in the budget and putting out that far means there is nothing concrete for Canadians. However, we need a solution of that nature.
Another big miss in the budget has to do with the Liberal government's response to the opioid crisis. This has been going on since the Liberals were elected. Four thousand people died last year. We just finished a health committee tour across the country. We looked at the methamphetamine and opioid crisis to see where the gaps in the system were. A lot of information is available. What did the government decide? We have heard there is not enough affordable housing, not enough mental health aids for supporting the healing from the trauma that causes people to get addicted and not enough recovery spots. We know people have to wait between six months and two years to get a recovery spot. Winnipeg and Vancouver are epicentres of this crisis.
Instead, the government has allocated $6 million a year to buy the addicts safe prescriptive opioids. That is the government's answer to this. People are dying. We know we need solutions on the prevention side, on the recovery side and we need affordable housing. The government has been all talk and no action on affordable housing for nearly four years now.
The Liberals recognized the need immediately and started to talk about it. However, we are still talking about it and these are the dying days of the Liberal government. Where is the affordable housing that people need? Homelessness is one of the key factors that contribute to people being addicted. Again, it is very disappointing. Although the Liberals recognize there is a crisis, the response to the crisis is inadequate.
That is the same story on suicide. We know we have a suicide crisis. We know we need prevention, especially in indigenous populations and in the north, among young people, among middle-age men. The budget allocates $5 million a year. If we divide that among 338 ridings in the country, that is less than $15,000 per riding to address suicide prevention. What are we going to do with that? It is another case where the government recognizes there is a problem, but has come in with a totally inadequate response.
There is another key miss on the health file. The health committee finished a study on diabetes. Eleven million Canadians have diabetes or are pre-diabetes. This is one of the most costly diseases in our system. We having an aging demographic, one in six seniors right now and one in four seniors within six to 10 years. People are moving more and more to chronic disease because of obesity, nutrition, lack of exercise, but what is being done about it?
Diabetes Canada came to us with a very cohesive plan, the 360 plan. The health committee reviewed the plan. One of our recommendations to the health minister was that the plan be adopted. However, it is nowhere in the budget, not a dime for addressing diabetes, which is a huge cost and huge struggle for many Canadians. Once again, it is a total miss.
I used to be the chair of the Status of Women. When I look at budgets, l like to look at them through a gender lens. The government does a lot of virtue signalling on the fact that we have a feminist Prime Minister, although with the way he has been treating women in his caucus and cabinet of late that is arguable.
Let us look at some of the key things that show the Liberals are all talk and no action. When I was first elected, I was put on a special committee to study pay equity. We made recommendations to the government. The government agreed that it would come in with legislation that would address pay equity in the federal government sector for which it had control. How many dollars are available in budget 2019 to address pay equity? Zero dollars and zero legislation. Once again, it is all talk and no action on that file. That is too bad because a lot of women's issues really do need to be addressed.
Two nice things are in the budget. One has to do with addressing ovarian cancer. There has been a lack of research in the area of ovarian cancer and it is one of the top reasons that women die. I was pleased to see that in the budget.
However, if we look at research spending as a whole through a gender lens, about 3% of the research dollars go toward anything that will impact women. The government should put on its gender-lens glasses again and take a look at what the balance is and whether it is really addressing issues that are so important to women.
One other good thing that I see in the budget has to do with organ donation. One of the members of the Standing Committee on Health, the member for Calgary Confederation, brought forward a private member's bill to give people the opportunity to organ donate by declaring it every year on their tax returns. It would be a very easy way of allowing people to do that. The government agreed and put money in this budget to facilitate increasing the number of organ donors. This will save lives. After the Humboldt tragedy, there was a huge increase in the number of organ donors, which saved many lives.
There are some areas where taxes have been taken off, such as for fertility services. I think people would agree that medically necessary services should not be taxed. The government is a little hypocritical on this file. When it comes to medical marijuana, it has put a 15% on that. People who are suffering are having to pay a lot of extra money. The government cannot just pick and choose which medical services should not be taxed. It should be consistent in its approach. If it believes that medicines and medical treatments should not be taxed, then it has to be consistent across the board.
Let us move on to infrastructure. There was a delightful little nugget that said we would get $2 billion of actual money in this year being spent for municipalities for infrastructure. While we may say that is very good news, we should remember that $15 billion was taken away from municipalities from the infrastructure fund for the repair roads and bridges and it was put into an infrastructure bank that would do projects. It is only doing one project, which is coincidentally being done with SNC-Lavalin.
Therefore, to give $2 billion back after taking $15 billion away still means the government took $13 billion from municipalities for building roads and infrastructure. It is woefully inadequate and certainly not doing anything in the Infrastructure Bank.
It would be great if the government returned more money to people in ridings like my own. I was disappointed to not see any money to repair the Sombra ferry boarding crossing in my riding. I have been speaking about this. It has now been over year that this border crossing has been closed because of the damage done by Coast Guard vessels breaking ice and crushing the causeway.
We need $2 million to fix this problem, restore a border crossing and restore the opportunity to increase trade with the U.S., which is on the other side. I represent a border riding. The government can find $12 million to give to Loblaws, but it cannot find $2 million for Sarnia—Lambton to open a border crossing. It is absolutely distressing.
We also have a trade corridor project, which was not funded in this budget. I hope that can be remediated. I would like to give the government chance to reconsider. That project would create 3,000 well-paying jobs in my riding, and the cost would be $6 million. Again, the government can find $12 million to give to Loblaws to put in freezers, a company that made $3 billion in profit and can afford it. However, on the other hand, there is a project in my riding that needs $6 million to create 3,000 jobs and that was not funded in the budget.
Palliative care is always something I love to talk about. I was pleased to see the government come with a palliative care framework after my private member's bill, and that spending is beginning. It is starting to fund training for paramedics, for example, to administer palliative care in their off-emergency hours. It is a very efficient way to get care to people, which is also a benefit to the people who have difficulties travelling to receive treatment.
However, there are a lot of things that should have been funded that are not. What about hospices? Canada has about 100 hospices compared to 1,300 in the U.S. There is a real opportunity to partner with communities and build hospices so people can get the palliative care they need. We know that 70% of Canadians have nothing. They have no opportunity for palliative care.
Another enabler for palliative care is broadband Internet. Therefore, I was glad to see a recognition that more spending was needed with respect to broadband Internet.
I had projects in my riding that we applied for in the first year I was elected that we have heard nothing about. We have continually asked the government to address that and it has not. I am not sure who will be the beneficiaries, but I would guess that it will be Liberal ridings.
We can then talk about the parts of the budget that have to do with climate change and the carbon tax that is going to be put in place. I am distressed when I hear the government talk about how this is going to save the children and prevent floods. We should ask, at what price are floods going to be prevented? There is no relationship there. One is a tax grab, and it has absolutely nothing to do with the other. People want to talk about a global problem that needs a global solution, and Canada is less than 2% of the problem. If those regions that are 98% of the problem are not addressed, the problem will not be solved, and that is clear. The government definitely is off track when it comes to its environmental plan.
What about seniors? Earlier in my speech, I mentioned that one in six people is a senior, and that number is going to be one in four in a few short years. We see pretty much nothing in this budget that is going to help seniors. There is a doctor and nurse shortage across the country, and seniors who cannot afford to live. The measures that are prescribed here are, first of all, inadequate and also a recap. The government is recapping what it did with the CPP. It is taking $1,200 out of each working person's pocket, but nobody will see a benefit for 40 years. That is not going to help people who are struggling right now. More is needed to be done for the seniors, and there is absolutely no doubt about that.
I have seniors in my riding who are concerned that we do not have a plan for long-term care spaces. The hospitals are logjammed because there is no place for them to go. We know that several provinces are trying to build long-term care spaces. We are building 2,000 spaces in Sarnia—Lambton, and we probably need an additional 2,000 or 3,000. That is another area the government did not address that would have been very important for seniors.
Second last, I will talk about the training benefits. The government has decided that $250 a year is going to help people get the training needed to move on and get a good job. That shows how out of touch the government is. Does it not understand the cost of tuition, and the cost of training courses that are usually $1,000 a day? Therefore, $250 a year is not going to be very good.
There was an effort made to help first-time homebuyers acquire a home by allowing them to spend $35,000 of their RRSPs, instead of $25,000. I have two children who are of the age to buy a home, but I am not sure how many people of that age have $35,000 in RRSPs. Therefore, that was a miss.
As one of my other colleagues pointed out earlier, there are some restrictions related to a homebuyer's income as to how much support can be obtained. There will not be a lot of people who will be able to take advantage of that. Once again, the government has recognized that it has made buying a home, which is desirable for many young people, unaffordable, but it has done nothing about it.
I am coming to the end of my remarks. This budget has not met people's needs, and for that reason I propose an amendment.
That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word "That" and substituting the following: 'the House decline to give second reading to Bill C-97, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 19, 2019 and other measures, since the Bill does not balance the budget this year, as promised by the Liberals during the election, but instead the deficit will hit $19.8 billion and the debt will soar to over $705 billion.'