Madam Speaker, I would like to begin my remarks on Bill C-30, the budget implementation act, with a solemn reflection of my time in the House.
When I first began, I had the opportunity to reply to the Speech from the Throne. At that point in time, we were all hopeful that in a minority government, we could work through in a way that would be of the greatest benefit to Canadians. Then, with the next Speech from the Throne after prorogation, I rose in this very spot and talked about the regret I felt, that we could have done better by Canadians in this time of crisis.
I want to take this moment of solemn reflection and centre the conversation back to the 25,000 people who have died from COVID in our country. We heard the remarks from the previous speaker about our agricultural sector. I want to note the recent passing of a migrant farm worker, someone who was left without the basic protections that most Canadians seem to take for granted. I want to think about the key question of what a budget implementation act is meant to do in a time of crisis, in this time of COVID. We have heard the term “unprecedented” time and again.
The last time I rose in the House, I talked about the opportunity we had before us and how, as New Democrats, we could fight for what could be in Canada and not what was. I wish I could suggest today that we have somehow found that dream, but I continue to point to the promises made, but not kept, by the Liberal government to the working-class people of the country. We know this crisis was not experienced equally.
During the pandemic, inequalities have increased. There was not an all-hands-on-deck approach. This has not been a team Canada approach. While everybody else was $200 away from insolvency, while 25,000 people perished, many of them living in deplorable conditions in long-term care facilities that had been privatized and carved out of our so-called universal health care, the ultra wealthy among us acquired close to $80 billion in wealth.
We have learned a lot about the Liberal government over the last few years. It talks a really good game and chases those headlines, but has no intention of delivering. Even elements of its own budget announcement have been left out of this budget implementation act. There is no wealth tax. There is no excess profits tax. The government talks about consultations, so it can report back to the House at a future date, and all the while the ultra-wealthy in the country continue to profit from the misery.
There is a choice to be made each and every time a budget is presented. It is ultimately a choice of which side one is on, that of the ultra-wealthy 1% or the rest of us. Since the beginning, people in my community of Hamilton Centre, noting the chuckles in the House from the Liberal side, are worried about whether they will be able to keep their job or pay rent. Let us forget about them ever being first-time homeowners. That dream is long gone for the people in my city, because the working-class wages have been suppressed. while the ultra-wealthy gained incredibly obscene amounts of money.
This crisis has revealed the fragility of the social safety nets we tout and for which we have so much pride, those measures that supposedly distinguish us from the rest of the world. The whole system has been set up on the backs of working-class people. We only have to look at the way the EI program, which had been raided by previous Liberal governments to balance the budget, completely fell apart and left out part-time workers and people who were self-employed. During this crisis, it was the workers who experienced the direct consequences of years of austerity and underfunding from successive Conservative and Liberal governments.
In this moment of historic crisis, when we stood here fighting for greater benefits for workers and pushing to ensure people had some kind of security, we heard people in the House bemoan the fact the average everyday Canadian may have received a meagre $2,000 a month. All the programs and social spending combined, at about $100 billion, pales in comparison to the $750 billion that was transferred to Bay Street and the big banks.
When were talking about a guaranteed livable income and about increasing CERB supports for people, I remember the hon. member for Winnipeg North asking “What are we going to do, click our heels to support Canadians?” The Liberals certainly did that for Bay Street. This represents the largest transfer of wealth from the general public, the working-class people, to the ultra-wealthy in the country. Main street was absolutely mugged by Bay Street.
We were fighting for workers and tried to find that balance. One of the mistakes made over the course of COVID was the fact that rather than ensure the direct supports for wage subsidies went directly for workers, we allowed it to go to businesses. The Liberals did it in such a way they knew had significant holes and gaps, loopholes almost as big as their tax haven scams. What did that result in?
There were $18 billion that went into oil and gas in 2020. Imperial Oil took $120 million in the Canada emergency wage subsidy, while paying out $324 million to its shareholders. Chartwell received $3 million and paid out 11 times that amount, $33 million, to its shareholders.
Yesterday, in debate, I recall one of the hon. members from the Liberal side tried to challenge the hon. member for Burnaby, suggesting somehow he was not doing enough as an individual to contribute to his community.
I put a question to the House, to all the members who are watching in the Canadian public. When I talk about the theft of corporate Canada from taxpayers in the country, the question is cui bono, who profited from that crime? Who in the House holds stocks and shares that may have been paid off the dividends and off the back of our Canada emergency wage subsidy?
Air Canada was given $6 billion, yet Greyhound leaves and the government does not see fit to support northern and rural communities by expanding government as a service, a national passenger bus transit strategy that would have ensured people had the ability to move around the country. We can look at the close to one billion dollars given to pharmaceutical companies. We have no preferable procurement. We are giving money away to the private sector and getting nothing in return.
Why do we not have in this moment, in this budget implementation act, the ability for us as a nation to procure our own life-saving vaccines? Because the government would rather kowtow to pharmaceutical companies, to allow them to set the agenda, the prices and the market, the global market.
Nobody is safe in the country until the entire world is safe. The government continues to tout how many vaccines it has taken in, while simultaneously taking from the COVAX facility. At the very same time, with absolutely zero moral authority, it blocked the patent waivers for which the international world is calling.
My city was just named a Delta variant hot spot this week. This budget does not deliver on the ability for us to adequately respond to how this could potentially have mutations and could potentially make all our vaccination efforts useless.
I want the Liberals to reflect on the things they have said over the last two years versus what they have actually delivered. At the end of the day, I want them to be accountable for all the people they have left out in this implementation act.