Madam Chair, what we witnessed today was, for the first time in history, something a government called a “fiscal and economic snapshot”. A snapshot is defined in most dictionaries as a quick photograph, or in modern lingo we call it a selfie, an economic selfie.
The finance minister, in talking for about 15 minutes straight, could not bring himself to utter the size of the debt or the deficit. Now, I will be the first, apparently, to do so. I ask all members to ensure they are in their seats. Anyone out there listening to this speech while operating heavy equipment might want to turn the volume down.
The government has now smashed through the trillion-dollar debt mark. The size of Canada's national debt is $1.06 trillion, with a deficit of $343 billion. To put that into perspective, when the current government took office, the entire budget of the Government of Canada was about $260 billion. In other words, the Liberals are borrowing more in one year than the Government of Canada used to spend in its entire budget not long ago.
The finance minister went to great lengths to brag about the low interest rates he is paying on the debt, as though he somehow set those interest rates himself, which raises questions about his perception of the Bank of Canada's independence. What he forgets is that those interest rates are temporary and only made possible by the cornucopia of cash that is coming out of the Bank of Canada, a bank that has created, through keystrokes on a computer, about $400 billion of new currency for government spending in less than 100 days. In other words, that is almost equal to a full quarter of GDP printed, created out of thin air by our central bank.
The Prime Minister thinks he has discovered a new idea in creating currency in order to spend it. He had best look back to history to know that this method of financing state activity can only go on for so long.
I raise all of this not because the programs to support Canadians and replace the wages that governments have taken away from them are unnecessary. They are very necessary, of course, when government deprives people, through lockdowns and shutdowns, of their ability to earn an income. It is the government's job to compensate them for that, and such measures have been necessary and generally, with exception, supported by the official opposition.
That said, we know that no nation can go on consuming without producing. The only way for us to continue to exist economically is to once again unleash the full and incomparable power of Canada's 20-million-person workforce, to let free the more than one million entrepreneurs and businesses that employ those workers.
That should have been the purpose of today's address, instead of a temporary moment of self-congratulation combined with hypnotic phrases intended to make us feel comfortable with a trillion dollars of debt. We expected that the finance minister would arrive here today with a plan to bring our economy back to life.
Instead, what he did was brag that his plan is the most expensive plan in the G7. He said that because it consumes 10% of GDP, higher than any other G7 country and higher than the G20 average, because it spends the most money, because it is the most costly, it must therefore be the best. Of course, it has simultaneously produced the worst results. Canada now has the highest unemployment in the G7. We went into the crisis with the highest save France and Italy, whose socialist policies the current government had long been trying to emulate, but now, only 100 days later, our economic position is even worse than theirs, even worse than Italy, which was among those that bore the hardest brunt of the COVID crisis.
Today, Canada has the worst job record and posture in all of the G7. In other words, the Liberals have spent the most to achieve the least. The only thing they have today for job creation is a new $15 million fund to staff up the Deputy Prime Minister's office. I guess $15 million are enough to create 150 six-figure jobs for political staffers working now for the Deputy Prime Minister.
It is funny that the Auditor General asked for $11 million so she could do her job examining all this spending. Today, the Auditor General is doing about 14 audits a year. Ten years ago, the Auditor General's office did 28 audits a year, twice as many. Government spending today is over $600 billion. Back then it was about $250 billion. In other words, spending is up by more than double and the number of audits is down by half, which means we have a quarter of the accountability.
Today we would just assume that in this massive spending splurge the Liberals would find $10 million or $11 million for the Auditor General. Compared to the other spending they are doing, it is not very much. In fact, the government is now spending almost exactly $1 million per minute. In the time I give my speech, the Liberals could have fully funded the Auditor General. However, they did not have money for the Auditor General; they had $15 million for the Deputy Prime Minister.
I am sure that later today when I move a motion in the House of Commons that we shift that $15 million from the Deputy Prime Minister to the Auditor General, we will have no problem getting unanimous consent. I am looking around and I see violent agreement from all sides of the House of Commons. I am sure that it will be a mere perfunctory matter of procedure to get it done when I move my motion later on.
However, it is interesting that the government's only job creation measure in today's presentation was in the Deputy Prime Minister's office.
What could we do as an alternative? We as Conservatives are proposing to transform the COVID programs into pro-growth, pro-job initiatives. Let us go through the list.
We support a generous wage subsidy in order to keep our workers active and contributing as much as possible during the shutdown and in the subsequent reopening. Unfortunately though, people have to be down 30% in order to qualify for that wage subsidy. That is forcing many businesses to artificially suppress their revenues in order to continue to qualify for the subsidy. That is because their extra revenue is not as big as the wage subsidy was itself. The government is arbitrarily forcing businesses to suppress their own revenues just to stay alive. A more perverse incentive could not have been invented. If there were such an incentive, it would be rent subsidy, which requires revenues to be down 70%. Again, the instant that business rises above that threshold, they lose the ability to pay their rent.
We as Conservatives, under the leadership of our small business critic from Edmonton, have proposed that businesses be able to gently phase out their need for assistance by increasing their revenues and slowly decreasing their wage subsidy at the same time.
Second, we have the Canada emergency response benefit, a necessary measure no doubt, but the government has imposed a back-to-work penalty. If people earn more than $1,000, the Prime Minister will kick them from the CERB to the curb. We in the Conservative Party believe that we should reward work to allow people a back-to-work bonus that will ensure that every dollar they earn, every shift they take, will make them better off than they were before. Canadians believe in work and their government should always reward work. That is why the Conservatives have come forward with a pro-work, pro-growth agenda.
We call on the government to embrace growth and jobs, to once again unleash the ferocious power of our workers and our entrepreneurs to bring our economy back to life, our finances under control and our nation on solid footing.