Madam Speaker, after waiting two long years for the Liberals to table a budget, they have instead presented a massive new debt burden for Canadians rather than a hopeful plan for a path forward post-pandemic—in a word, failure.
Unemployed Canadians wanted to see a plan to create new jobs. Workers who had their wages cut and their hours slashed had hoped to see a plan to reopen the economy. Families that simply cannot afford more taxes were looking for relief. Instead, this costly plan will add over $100 billion in new spending and will increase Canada's debt to a whopping $1.2 trillion. Yes, that is trillion with a “t", for the very first time in Canadian history.
It is a staggering amount that most Canadians cannot even begin to comprehend: $1.2 trillion. It is equivalent to every single Canadian being responsible for $33,000 of federal debt. Canadians and their children, their children's children and their children's children's children and on and on will be forced to pay off this massive debt of the government.
The Parliamentary Budget Officer recently released a report saying that this budget even underestimates the size of the federal deficits by about $5.6 billion per year. To quote the PBO, it “puts Ottawa on a long-term path of higher debt”.
What about fiscal anchors? No, there are none of those in there. There is only a vague mention on page 53, which says, “The government is committed to unwinding COVID-related deficits and reducing the federal debt as a share of the economy over the medium-term.” That sure sounds reassuring, does it not?
Canadians are right to be concerned about this Liberal spending. They will be footing the bill of $40 billion in taxes every year to pay the interest expenses on that debt alone. This is all predicated on a very risky assumption that interest rates and inflation will continue to remain low.
With all this spending and fiscal risk, one would expect some actual substance, but many Canadians are being simply left behind or ignored in this budget. How about a plan to unleash the prosperity-producing, economy-boosting Alberta energy? No, that one is definitely not in the budget. The government has been abundantly clear on its plan to landlock Canadian oil with Bill C-48 and Bill C-69 in the previous Parliament and the Prime Minister's comment that the oil sands need to be phased out.
The Liberal government already stood by idly while the U.S. administration cancelled Keystone XL, and of course it itself caused the cancellation of things like northern gateway and energy east. With Enbridge's Line 5, of course we know about the jeopardy it is in, and it is responsible for supplying half of the oil needs of Ontario and Quebec. The closure of that pipeline would literally create an energy crisis here in Canada, and then of course we would see more of Alberta's oil stranded, when Alberta's economy is already suffering. Instead, that biases it toward oil from places with far less environmentally friendly records elsewhere in the world.
All of that is due to the Liberals strangling Alberta oil in favour of that less environmentally friendly oil from other countries, which certainly do not share our commitment to environmental protection or to human rights. Again, the budget is completely silent on Alberta energy.
Despite this deafening silence by the Liberals, Conservatives will always continue to advocate for pipelines and projects that end our dependence on foreign oil and that will unleash our energy sector. Energy- and job-killing legislation from the Liberals has only decreased Canada's ability to produce and trade environmentally sustainable energy resources and to create more jobs.
Alberta's energy sector could be the key to economic growth and to success post-pandemic in Canada, but the Liberals have chosen instead to denigrate and ignore it. Its absence is glaringly obvious and Albertans will not forget it. Instead, this budget proposes a reimagined Canadian economy that dabbles in risky economic ideas that will leave the Canadian economy in a very precarious position.
However, so much more is also missed in the budget. For start-up businesses that are in desperate positions and do not meet the government's narrow rules of assistance programs, there is nothing either. For small businesses, there are major gaps and issues with federal programming that the Liberals continue to ignore. The CFIB said of the budget that “the government did not deliver on many of the major program gaps affecting thousands of small businesses facing restrictions, closures and huge amounts of COVID-related debt.”
Many of those small businesses are tourism businesses, and tourism businesses are desperate to have the government table a safe plan with metrics and targets to be able to open their businesses for the key summer season. I am sorry; there is nothing for them in the budget, either.
In my beautiful riding of Banff—Airdrie, tourism is a key economic driver that has been devastated by the pandemic. Lockdowns and border restrictions have stifled businesses. Many have been forced to lay off employees and in some cases, unfortunately, have closed down altogether.
This is happening everywhere, right across Canada. Tourism and travel-related businesses lost approximately $19.4 billion in revenue last year from the absence of international visitors. However, the government just extended, once again, the U.S.-Canada border closure well into the key summer tourist season without any kind of plan or any metrics on how or when it might be willing to safely reopen that border. Now, tourism businesses are looking at losing another key summer, and the budget is completely silent on a safe plan for reopening and for a safe way forward.
The government has unfortunately chosen winners and losers in this budget and unfortunately left many people out to dry. The Liberal government loves to tout the saying “We are all in this together,” but recently I heard another metaphor about the pandemic, which I thought was very apt to the chosen winners and losers in this debt-heavy Canadian Liberal budget. It is this: We are all in the same storm, but some are in yachts and others are in leaky rowboats. The Liberal government should not be waving to Canadians struggling in the pandemic storm in leaky rowboats while the Liberals are drinking champagne from the deck of their taxpayer debt-paid yacht. Spending without a proper plan is failure.
To the government, I say this: Fix this budget and give Canadians a hopeful path forward for economic recovery post-pandemic, not a lifetime of taxes and debt. That is what we see with this budget. We see a lot of money being spent, but a lot of people still being left behind, and what we then see is people being burdened. Canadians, their children, their grandchildren and their great-great-great-grandchildren will be seeing that burden of debt to pay for all of this spending.
That is the thing I think the Prime Minister and the Liberal government fail to understand. Money does not grow on trees. The government does not just manufacture the ability to spend money. That money comes from hard-working Canadian taxpayers who have earned that money, and it takes away from their ability to meet the needs of their families, to meet their own needs, to keep their businesses running and to keep their employees with jobs. That is not just now, but it is well into the future, to pay for the kind of debt burden that we have seen put on by the government.
It is just staggering to imagine the amount of money being spent and how there are still so many people being left behind. I talked about our oil and gas industry in Alberta. I talked about our important tourism industry across this country, about the small business owners, about the many people who have started new businesses and are left out of many of the government programs. The Liberals have been able to spend a lot of money, but they have not been able to help so many of the people who actually need it, and those are the same people who are going to have to pay for the burden being left by the government and all of its massive spending.
I say to the government that it has to try to do things to make sure it is not leaving people behind and that it is creating a hopeful and optimistic future, instead of burdening people with massive amounts of debt that will do the exact opposite.