Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to debate a motion bought forward by the member opposite. The motion highlights the very different visions we have for Canada's future and the future our children and grandchildren.
The motion before us today, which calls to repeal the federal price on carbon pollution and remove the GST on home energy purchases, would seem to suggest that pollution has no cost and that it is free. It would also undermine a key feature of the GST that allows it to function effectively and fairly. The motion would undermine a vital part of Canada's plan to act on the real and serious threat posed by climate change.
It was wisely said by the late U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan that “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.” Certainly, people are entitled to their opinion that the Earth is flat, that the moon is made of cheese or that pollution has no cost. However, at the end of the day, we defer to science. We look at the facts and we look at the evidence. That is the basis of our government's policies. We base them on the evidence before us.
The fact is that manmade climate change is real. It is causing more frequent and devastatingly extreme weather events and it is making it harder for people to live today. That is the global scientific consensus on this.
Moreover, the costs associated with climate change are growing every year, with higher costs for health care, emergency services, structural repairs, insurance premiums and food as a result of climate change. All told, climate change is expected to cost Canada's economy $5 billion annually by 2020. The facts do not stop there.
We know that climate change is real and manmade, but we also know how to make fast and meaningful change. Canadians cannot wait. We need action now. The expert consensus, based on evidence and supported by Nobel Prize-winning economists is clear. The most effective and economically sound way to address the consequences of climate change is to put a price on carbon pollution, which is the primary driver of manmade climate change. That is precisely what our government has done.
Despite the efforts of the opposition and their allies, it is no longer free to pollute anywhere in Canada. This is an approach based on science, based on years of building a co-ordinated, international approach to stopping climate change before it is too late; based on respecting the autonomy of provinces and territories to choose a system that works best for them and meets a certain standard; and based on ensuring that every dollar directly collected under the federal system will be returned to the province or territory it came from, either to the provincial government in jurisdictions that have requested the federal system or by giving the bulk of the direct proceeds of the price on pollution directly to individuals and families in the form of climate action incentive payments. This is money that ensures middle-class Canadians are not carrying the brunt of pollution pricing.
As the independent Parliamentary Budget Officer noted, most households will get back more money in climate action incentive payments than they would pay in increased costs from the carbon pollution pricing system.
For Canadian businesses, carbon pollution pricing delivers economic benefits as well. It encourages Canadians and businesses to innovate and to invest in clean technologies and in long-term growth opportunities that will position Canada for success in a cleaner and greener global economy.
This presents significant opportunities for Canadian companies to tap into the global market for low-carbon goods and services, which is currently estimated to be worth over $5.8 trillion. In provinces that have not take action to meet the Canada-wide federal standards for reducing carbon pollution, our government will provide a portion of the proceeds from the federal carbon pollution pricing system to support small and medium-sized businesses.
These outcomes are not just fair for Canadians. They are good for the environment, they are good for our future and they are good for the economy.
By undermining these outcomes, Motion No. 230 would be bad for the environment, bad for our future and bad for the economy.
Canadians understand that a clean environment and a strong economy go hand in hand and that their quality of life today and economic success tomorrow rests on the commitments to protect our natural legacy and preserve our environment for future generations.
That is why the government has made significant investments to protect Canada's air, water and natural areas for our children and grandchildren and to create a world-leading clean economy.
To combat climate change, in budget 2017, the government increased financing support for Canada's clean technology sector by making available more equity finance, working capital and project finance to promising clean technology firms. In total, almost $1.4 billion in new financing was made available through the Business Development Bank of Canada and Export Development Canada to help Canadian clean technology firms grow and expand.
If that is not enough reason to oppose the motion, it is also bad from a tax policy perspective.
As we know, the GST is a value-added tax that is applied to the purchase of goods and services in Canada. Applying the GST to as broad a base as reasonably possible is important in allowing its rate to remain low. Removing the GST from home energy purchases, as proposed in the motion, would erode the broad tax base that provides for a simple and efficient GST and would allow the GST to be set at a low rate. Removing the tax on home energy would favour wealthier Canadians and would provide no relief to those living in apartments, nursing homes or rental houses, where energy costs are included in the rent.
Our government does want to help families with the cost of heating their homes, but this is not the right way to do so. Instead, we are starting by helping those who need it the most, providing tax relief from the GST to low and modest-income Canadians through the GST credit. The GST credit provides more than $4.5 billion in annual assistance to help offset the sales tax burden of low and modest-income families and individuals.
Budget 2019 also includes measures to help make more homes energy efficient, reducing heating costs overall and helping us down a path to a greener Canada.
Finally, I would like to point out that not only did the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal recently rule that the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act was constitutionally valid, but it prefaced its ruling by saying that climate change caused by greenhouse gas emissions was “one of the great existential issues of our time”. While Motion No. 230 would have the government turn its back on this threat, Canadians know we cannot and we must not.
We will move forward with our a plan, which is based on facts and evidence. I ask the House to vote against the motion.