Madam Speaker, I would like to begin by congratulating my colleague on being the first female Canadian finance minister to introduce a budget in the House of Commons. Though we are on opposite sides of the House, it is phenomenal. I do want to acknowledge that.
Although I am glad the government finally decided to introduce a budget after more than two years, it must be pointed out that we are the only country in the G7 that went this long without one. Despite the unprecedented amount of government spending that has taken place, it is only now that we are being presented with a spending plan. This, I believe, is absolutely unacceptable.
It certainly does not speak of a government that is striving for openness, transparency and accountability, as it often advertises. I recognize there has been a pandemic, but nearly every other government in the country, whether provincial and municipal, has put forward a budget during this time. If they were able to do so, then surely the Liberal government was also able to do the same.
Before the budget was tabled, constituents shared with me that they were hoping to see a real plan for economic recovery and for reopening society as we know it. They were hoping for a restoration of hope and confidence in our future. Those who are unemployed shared with me that they were hoping to see a plan to create new jobs and economic opportunities for their families.
Those in the oil and gas sector shared with me that they were hoping to see some support for this world-class industry. Those who own local businesses and create jobs were hoping they would no longer have to be on the verge of permanently closing their doors. They were hoping that proper supports would be offered to them and that we would go back to normal.
Sadly, what the Liberal government delivered was a 700-page budget that will increase Canada's debt load by $1.3 trillion by 2022 and includes very little for those who call Alberta home. This is not stimulus spending focused on creating jobs, but rather spending on Liberal partisan priorities. Although there are some necessary support measures contained in this budget for Canadians who are still getting through the economic challenges due to the pandemic, it goes well beyond what is necessary. This is like the government going to Gucci when it really should be going to Walmart. It is not going with its own credit card. It is going with ours, the Canadian people. This is the deal: The government racks up the debt, and Canadians foot the bill.
A strategic budget would have targeted revenue-generating industries in our country so that one dollar would turn into three dollars. Instead, we see massive amounts of cash being flushed through the country in a manner that benefits the current government's partisan interests, rather than the well-being of Canadians as a whole. The budget will extend the pandemic economic recession longer than necessary due to its exorbitant spending.
Canada is in a rough situation right now. People are hurting emotionally, psychologically, economically and physically. That must be acknowledged. Canadians are looking for a way out, a change, not more of the same. Sadly, that is what this budget is.
It is a perpetuation of our current fiscal state where unemployment rates are high, government handouts are a primary source of income and the human spirit is severely damaged. It is a superficial solution that does not fix the real problem of a struggling economy and a struggling people. This was an opportunity for the government to chart a course toward a return to pre-COVID times. Of course, I would propose 2014 to take that opportunity, but that said, I would take 2019 at this point.
Instead, we see a Liberal government that is extending the pandemic economic recovery efforts with this budget. This will put us at a serious competitive disadvantage globally, especially when we see other countries returning to normal. Their economic engines are running again and ours is being flooded with no hope of a jump start. It is hard not to be envious of countries such as the United States, where concerts are taking place on Fridays, sports stadiums are full on Saturdays and churches are bustling with life on Sundays. In Taiwan, life is basically back to normal and has been for a long time due to its rapid response to the virus. It had a total of 1,100 cases and only 12 deaths. That is amazing.
The current government seems to wear federal debt as a badge of honour. It is bizarre and troubling. More borrowing and spending does not equate to good governance. Under the Prime Minister, Canada has incurred the largest per capita deficit and hit the highest unemployment rate in the G7, which means Canada has spent the most to achieve the least. Money spent is not a measuring stick for success as much as the government would like to use it as such. Lowering the unemployment rate or growing our national GDP are things that are worth celebrating and using as measures of success.
Just a few weeks before the Liberal budget was tabled, the Deputy Prime Minister said, “I really believe COVID has created a window of political opportunity”. This mentality is truly shocking and troublesome, but it also explains how the Liberals view this pandemic. They see it as an opportunity to re-engineer society according to their value set. It is exploitive and wrong.
The Prime Minister's “reimagined economy” is a risky Ottawa-knows-best approach that picks winners and losers by design. He is dictating which jobs, sectors and regions of our country will stay afloat and prosper and which will be left to perish. Never before has there been such a divisive prime minister in this nation.
Canadians know the government has no money of its own. Anything the government spends comes from taxes and borrowing. What the government borrows, Canadians pay back through taxation. There is no such thing as a free lunch, regardless of how the government tries to package it. The thing about government spending is that it always comes back to the people at a significant cost. It is common knowledge that when taxes go up, an unfriendly or even hostile environment is created for business. High taxes result in businesses leaving the country for other jurisdictions where they are not taxed to fill government coffers. The problem with businesses leaving the country is that they take jobs with them. When they take jobs with them, they also take the revenue that the government relies on for the social safety net that Canadians enjoy so much. This results in higher unemployment and more Canadians being dependent on the government for support, as opposed to being independent and self-sufficient because they have jobs. This pattern is extremely detrimental to the Canadian people, but highly beneficial for a political party that only maintains power when Canadians are dependent on government.
Instead of working to get Canadians out of the dole line, it seems as though the Liberals are doing everything in their power to prolong the current situation and to capitalize on an obliged and increasingly indebted electorate. So much federal money has been spent on COVID-19 benefit programs that, on average, Canadians now have more personal income than they did pre-COVID, even though the average employment income has fallen dramatically.
Let us talk about big government. This is not a budget that a responsible government would put forward: It is a budget that sets up an opportunistic Prime Minister for success in the event of an election. Notably, despite the massive debt incurred, this budget failed in a few key areas. There is no plan to fight the pandemic. This is interesting, because the Prime Minister touted this budget as his pandemic response. There is no new money for health care transfers, no fiscal anchor or debt-management strategy. That is atrocious for a national budget.
Canada needs a prime minister who sees the solution to our country's current challenges and where they truly lie. It is not the government—