Madam Speaker, it is an honour to enter into debate on this concurrence report and, more broadly, the budget in general.
I will be splitting my time with the member for Cariboo—Prince George.
More than a year late, swimming in red ink and rife with risky new economic strategies based on the Liberals' reimagined Canada, the Liberals appear to be doubling down on failures. It is with great disappointment that we look back at the budget presented a couple of weeks ago and see how, in so many ways, it misses the mark on what Canadians need.
I am going to try something a little bit different in this speech. My communications assistant has livestreamed my speech as well. I am going to try to get some comments on the record from constituents, some of whom have written to me about the budget in the past and others who I am expecting will comment on Facebook. This is the first time I have tried something like this, so we will go from there.
Audrey from my constituency says clearly, “Instead of begging other countries for vaccines, we need to ensure Canadian manufacturing, like Providence Therapeutics that I would note just announced that they may be moving out of Canada. Without vaccines we won't be able to get back to work and a large percentage of small businesses that employ women may no longer exist”.
Debra says, “There would be money for programs if the Prime Minister's Liberals stop giving our money away to the Infrastructure Bank, China and their friends.”
Fred says, “With budget debate starting today, could we possibly get an answer as to why the OAS increase starts at 75 instead of 65 when OAS starts? Is that the Prime Minister's way to save money since by 75 there are some who will already have passed on?”
Those are a few of the concerns that I have heard from constituents.
When we look at other aspects of the budget we see a child care plan. I agree that a child care strategy is needed. In 2006, this was a heavily litigated issue in the election. In fact, it was Conservatives who ran on a universal child care plan. The Liberals like to take credit for the Canada child care benefit, but really what they did was take over a program that was introduced by the Conservatives and was incredibly popular. It was first brought forward in 2006 during that election. The Liberals adjusted it a little bit. Instead of paying taxes based on income, with a flat rate for every Canadian, they made it income dependent. They then ran on it as their own and claimed it as their own, but it was an idea brought forward by Canada's Conservatives and it was incredibly popular. It ensured that the playing field was level.
It is interesting because what is proposed in this budget actually goes against what the Prime Minister wrote in the Minister of Finance's mandate letter. He talked about her being careful not to introduce any more permanent spending. We have an Ottawa-knows-best approach to child care.
I am a Conservative, so ideologically I would suggest that often we can see that the government is not overly effective at delivering these programs. If we look, for example, at many of the government-run agencies and institutions across the country, we can simply see that they are not the best use of tax dollars. They are not effective in terms of providing the best services for Canadians. I have heard from some constituents and will admit there are some who are happy about the possibility of more child care spaces, but they are concerned that these will be focused on urban areas and will leave rural Canada behind, as we often see in these big government programs. There are many others who have alternative child care arrangements, such as when one parent chooses to stay home because they have a small business or differing hours, or when a grandparent, aunt, uncle or whomever provides child care. They may use an unregistered day care, which is how many Canadians get their child care. Those are all not part of the plan. It is an Ottawa-knows-best approach.
We see the $100 billion green infrastructure fund, which is a slush fund with little accountability. Forgive me for not trusting the government with that kind of money when we see 9,000 missing projects with the Canada Infrastructure Bank, and now the government wants another $100 billion.
With the rent and wage subsidy, my hon. colleague from Niagara Falls articulated very well some of the challenges. I have two communities in particular, and other small businesses across my constituency, that depend on seasonal tourism. To see it phased out at a time when we will hopefully just be starting to see a recovery is very problematic in terms of these businesses being able to survive.
I will get into a few more of those specifics, but I would just like to read a few of the comments I am getting on Facebook. Jesse is talking about the budget and feeling very sad for Canada. Shauna talks about the reimagined economy and that risky economic idea. It is troubling that, at a time when Canadians need leadership, we are not seeing it.
I have a comment from Ken saying he is concerned about how the Liberals seem to deflect the very valid questions Canadians are asking. These are not my comments. These are comments from, in this case, followers on Facebook. Canadians are asking some very serious questions.
I find this interesting with this budget. I have spent a great deal of time over the last number of months talking about the need for democracy, an essential service, and the Liberals talk often about a team Canada approach to the COVID response and otherwise. It is interesting to see who is included in team Canada. We saw with Parliament shut down there was so often a lack of collaboration.
I would add that I hope I have a new follower on Facebook in the member for Kingston and the Islands. I am certain my constituents will appreciate his comment.
This team Canada approach seems to leave many behind. It is unfortunate because, at a time when Canadians need leadership, they are left wanting. This may be because of the 750 pages in the budget, which many pundits and political observers have suggested is simply the precursor for an election platform.
The Prime Minister even let it slip over the Christmas holidays about expecting an election. Canadians are not looking for an election. They are looking for leadership out of some incredibly challenging times.
We see so clearly the need for leadership at a time when, as many have rightly suggested, we face significant challenges, whether as small businesses, families, women or young people who do not have the opportunities that should be present.
It has been interesting to try Facebook Live while doing a speech in the House of Commons. I am not sure that has been done before, but I look forward to maybe incorporating this again in the future.
I am seeing questions asking where the money coming from. I have a tremendous amount of research on swimming in red ink, as I mentioned before. We saw a deficit in the last year where there was no budgetary framework. It was approximately equivalent to the previous year's entire federal budget. That is debt being accrued by our country.
As I read through the budget, the debt repayment plan that has been outlined by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance has just been to make sure we refinance at a lower interest rate. That is not a debt and fiscal plan that Canadians can trust will not damage our future. That is money that will have to be paid back. I know it is the sort of thinking that could cause significant economic damage to our nation's future, the very future that the Prime Minister and the government talk about, yet they are being left behind by some of these risky strategies.
I look forward to taking some question from other members of the House. I would note that the member for Kingston and the Islands did comment on my Facebook post. I am not sure if that counts as his intervention or not.