Mr. Speaker, it is a huge honour to participate in today's debate. First, I will be sharing my time with the member for Hamilton Mountain.
Today's debate is a very important debate, because we are obviously talking about issues related to the economy, around the pandemic and small business. It could not be more appropriate timing, as many small businesses are on the cusp of going out of business given that they have closed their doors to protect public health. In fact, small businesses truly are the unsung heroes in this pandemic, and we need to do everything we can to support them in this crisis.
There are many things in today's motion that we agree with. The Conservatives put forward a motion today with a couple of poison pills. I do not believe they actually want this motion to pass today, which is really disappointing. We have been waiting for the Conservatives, the official opposition to come forward with new ideas that could help support small business in the middle of a pandemic. One would expect that the Conservatives would come forward with ways to help support small business in a way that would make a meaningful difference. Instead, they are coming forward with old items that were on their agenda prior to the pandemic.
Sadly, I would say that the Conservatives are using the pandemic to leverage their political platform to attack workers' pensions, to slow down action when it comes to tackling climate change and doing our part, and it is extremely disappointing. They cite that 46% of Canadian businesses are concerned they are not going to survive. I do not doubt that.
The Liberals have rolled out program after program that have design flaws, and have left many people out, including the commercial rent assistance program. The NDP brought forward the concept of a commercial rent assistance program, and the last thing we thought was that it would be a landlord-driven program. We are glad to see the government finally fix that, but are disappointed that it will not backdate it to April 1. We do not understand why the Conservatives have sat idle, and have not joined us in calling on the government to backdate that program for the many businesses that were left out.
The Conservatives are talking about businesses that are concerned and are wondering how they are going to survive. We want them to join the New Democrats in calling on the government for what I think is really an injustice, by leaving out all of those tenants who were left out to dry. I am disappointed that that is not in this motion, calling on those who are benefiting and profiting from the pandemic the most, including the big banks and the biggest corporations, to pay their fair share. They are getting a free ride.
The Conservatives have put forward a motion calling for the postponing of the increase of the Canada pension plan and payroll taxes. It is like we are in one crisis and we are putting off a future crisis for seniors. We know that many of them were in crisis heading into this pandemic, without adequate supports and adequate safety and security in place, or retirement savings to get them through even the best of times.
We are seeing housing prices skyrocket in the middle of this pandemic. For a decade, we saw the Conservatives refuse to increase contributions to the CPP, which is really leaving seniors vulnerable today. Now they want to leave young people who are going to be the victims, carrying the debt load and the consequences of the pandemic and what it is going to do to the Canadian economy in the long run, to not have to contribute now, when we know that they deserve to have a retirement in the future, where they can retire with dignity.
Again, Conservatives are back on their track record of continuing to attack workers and seniors. We saw, under their regime, that they attempted to raise the retirement age from 65 to 67, and they refused to invest appropriately in the OAS. So the Conservative track record when it comes to pensions is pretty clear. What we do not want to do is use one pandemic as an excuse to have another crisis in the future, when it comes to seniors and retirement income.
The Conservatives are even calling it taxes. This is not taxes. This is about critical investments in people's retirement security. It is disappointing to hear the Conservatives say that they now support labour and workers, and they are changing direction. However, the Conservatives are now using words like “taxes” when it comes to increasing supports for income security for people in their retirement.
The other part that I am deeply concerned about is the carbon tax. I have to give credit to the B.C. Liberals for continuing to move forward with the carbon tax in B.C., despite the economic crisis we were in 2008, with the understanding that if we did not do our part when it came to taking climate action, we would inevitably be in another crisis down the road that would cost us much more, whether it be in forest fires or flooding. We see the impact that it is having on our warming oceans and our salmon.
Right now is the time to ensure we follow through with climate action. Right now we are still lagging behind jurisdictions such as British Columbia on a federal landscape. We see the new administration from the U.S., in its mandate, committing to taking on the issue of climate change. It is not backing down.
We are seeing leadership. Maybe the Conservatives need to look at other leadership around the world or other Conservative governments, such as in Britain, Japan or Germany. We are seeing right-leaning governments understand that it is good economics to invest in climate action and clean energy, and that it is a huge economic cost to leave to future generations. They talk about the Liberals and their deficits, but really they keep neglecting the huge economic deficit they are looking at passing on to future generations.
I have huge concerns about the motion. I am disappointed that the Conservatives threw in the poison pill. We would have liked to have support it. Part of this motion is about ensuring there is more credit availability, which is very important in my riding, especially to the tourism sector. Resorts in my riding have had an incredibly difficult time. Many of them did not get access to the BCAP program. It was very challenging to do that.
I worry that when looking at the LEEFF program, the Conservatives are really trying to erode the important mechanisms that are in place, so we do not see CEOs and shareholders benefiting from government financing and supports during the pandemic, as we saw in 2008 under the Conservative government when it was in charge of the oversight of the economic downturn from the recession then.
These are some of the things that we have identified about which we are deeply concerned. We will continue to work with all parties to ensure there are improvements and supports for small businesses. We want to see the Liberal government follow through with its commitment when it comes to accessible, affordable and universal child care, so everybody has a chance to have early childhood education and be able to go back to the work force.
I am disappointed to see that the Conservatives are not supporting these important investments. In Quebec, 70,000 women went back to work and the GDP grow 2% as a result of an investment in early childhood education. We have seen how important the CERB has been to support those workers and business owners who have been left out, such as musicians or artists whose businesses are gone. We would have loved to have seen the Conservatives bring forward a motion to invest in training, retraining or guaranteed liveable income to ensure that nobody would fall through the cracks in the future.
We understand that small businesses are under distress, that they need access to financing. We fought really hard to support the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada and get important economic supports and loans early on in the pandemic. We would like to see the government roll out a recovery plan to support those most vulnerable businesses, whether it be in the tourism sector or the whole economy. We have not seen the government come forward with a true recovery plan.
Therefore, we join the Conservatives in wanting to see what the plan is when it comes to rapid testing and a vaccination rollout, but also the economic recovery plan, which is critical.
Again, back to the importance of supporting small business, we need to be working together in a collective spirit and we need to be careful. I do not think it is the time for partisan approaches to putting a tax on really important supports for people. This is the time for us to recognize how inadequate the supports are for people and how sad our commitment to climate change is. We saw that in Bill C-12, which the government just tabled. There is a lack of priority by government when it comes to tackling climate change.
The New Democrats support some things in the motion, but we are deeply disappointed that the Conservatives had to throw a bunch of poison pills in it and really push what is a crisis now to future generations. We hope our colleagues will—