Mr. Speaker, it is always an honour to rise to speak in this place and more so to speak to this Liberal budget.
As we know, the the Liberal 2015 campaign promise was to deliver three years of modest $10 billion a year deficits with a return to a balanced budget in 2019.
Let us remind ourselves that this was a promise the Prime Minister himself said was "very cast in stone", not somewhat cast in stone, not a little bit cast in stone, but very cast in stone.
In this budget, the 2019-20 deficit forecast is set close to $19.8 billion. This is on top of the $60 billion in deficits added in the first three Liberal budgets. The current budget indicates there is no path to balance until at the very least 2040, and by that point racking up an additional $271 billion in new debt.
There are words as a parliamentarian that I do not like to use, and many of those words describe the Prime Minister's broken promise to Canadians.
As every person in this chamber well knows, the reality is that the Prime Minister did not even try to honour his promise. That is a Prime Minister who will basically promise anything if at the time he believes it is what Canadians want to hear. On this point, Canadians want a government that will live within its means.
However, we are not here to debate the Prime Minister's broken promises. We are here to debate this budget, and on that point I do have some serious concerns.
Let me start with household debt.
Aside from the fact this budget is silent on it, I would submit it will only serve to increase it. Why is household debt a problem? After the Liberals first year in government, household debt, as a percentage of gross income in 2016, was 166%. In January of 2019, that increased to a whopping 176%. Let us think about that for a moment. Canadian household debt is now 176% of gross household income.
In spite of the Liberal government spending over $60 billion to date, people continue to fall further and further behind. Keep in mind we are not talking about the government debt being added onto their backs that one day somehow they will have to pay. We are talking about household debt.
How is that a concern in this budget? One example is the new Canada training benefit. On the surface, it sounds like a good thing. What could be wrong with encouraging job skills retraining?
When we read the fine print, only $250 is available per year up to a career maximum of $5,000. The challenge that I am already hearing is that the majority of training programs cost well in excess of that amount. Many skills training programs are literally thousands of dollars or more. For many workers to benefit from this $250 training credit, it means borrowing thousands of dollars and increasing household debt.
Similarly, to access the credit of $5,000 toward the purchase of a new electric car for most would mean borrowing up to the maximum for the program amount of $45,000. This again results in more household debt for anyone borrowing for a new vehicle purchase.
A similar situation is created with the new homebuyers program. Rather than simply eliminate the GST on affordable new housing, which has been done with the provincial sales tax in British Columbia and which would save people money, this budget only offers more options that encourage borrowing. That means borrowing $10,000 more from an RRSP up to a maximum of $35,000. How many new homebuyers have a spare $35,000 kicking around in an RRSP? This is not the reality for most new homebuyers.
The new first-time homebuyers incentive on the surface looks helpful. The program can help provide between 5% and 10% of the down payment toward a maximum CMHC insurable mortgage up to $480,000. That is not counting the total down payment.
The challenge for this program is also in the fine print. The maximum $480,000 mortgage value is based on the program's maximum allowable household income level of $120,000 annually. However, in a community where the average household income is $70,000, the maximum value under this program is set at four times the income. Therefore, the CMHC insurable mortgage limit is just $280,000, which is a significant difference.
Here is the great frustration: Housing markets throughout Canada have been severely impacted by the changes made by the current Liberal government largely because of housing markets in just two Canadian cities. However, with this signature program, even at the maximum $480,000, it will not make a dent in housing affordability in places like Vancouver or Toronto. In fact, it will most help in areas where housing is comparably already affordable. As public policy goes, this is an expensive one and a misguided one. CMHC told us at the technical briefing that it will have to borrow in order to finance this program.
These are just a few of the examples that all point toward increased household debt in order to access the benefits of these programs. Ironically, these programs are being offered in a budget with a $19.8-billion deficit, which means that the current Liberal government is borrowing money it does not have, which, as I have just demonstrated, will in many cases cause people to borrow money they do not have just to access these program benefits. That, my friends, is not good governance.
There is also another major missing part of this budget, which is any type of fiscal strategy to deal with Canadian competitiveness. We are hearing increasingly of plant closures, production shifts being eliminated, and of Canadian companies not investing here in Canada but in the United States and elsewhere. To be clear, the Liberals were warned. We know that the Department of Finance's own figures warned that the Liberals' enhanced CPP program would be a drag on the Canadian economy at least until 2030.
Now, we do not know what precisely the Liberals' carbon tax will do to the economy, but we do know that the Liberals are increasingly giving Canada's worst polluters carbon tax breaks. The Toronto Star has reported that polluting industries, such as cement, iron and steel manufacturing, lime production and nitrogen fertilizers, will get carbon relief based on a 90% industry average. Firms in other industries that emit at least 50 kilotonnes of greenhouse gas per year will get relief based on 80%. In New Brunswick, the federal government gave a 95.5% carbon tax relief to a dirty coal-powered plant.
Almost every day we hear the environment minister and the Prime Minister talk about putting a price on pollution, but of course, they do not talk about the growing list of exemptions and breaks for the worst polluters. Of course, our major competitors and trade partners do not have a carbon tax. Meanwhile, we continue to watch investment in these countries growing while this budget sits back and proposes no solutions.
I get that it is an election budget designed to buy people's votes with their own money. I also get that the Liberals who once promised a balanced budget now call that concept “austerity”. It is bewildering but true to hear any discussion that talks about living within our means described by the finance minister as an austerity measure. At some point, the Liberal government is going to need to reconcile this with reality.
All of this deficit spending was not spent during a time of world financial crises. Further, despite all the deficit spending, the Bank of Canada forecasts are crystal clear. Our economy is slowing down at an alarming rate, and this budget proposes nothing to address that, I think, in part, because the finance minister does not believe these things to be true, yet we all know that they are. It is another denial budget, spending money that Canadians do not have, and it is not a budget that I can support.
Therefore, I move:
That the House do now adjourn.