House of Commons Hansard #128 of the 44th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was housing.


Fall Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2022Government Orders

4:50 p.m.


Raquel Dancho Conservative Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague very sincerely for her question, but if my memory serves, it was Conservatives who brought forward a motion to cut the GST on home heating. The NDP voted against it. Unfortunately, her question does not stand.

We called for a GST break so that Canadians could more adequately afford to heat their homes. We think that the carbon tax should be axed, especially given we are at 40-year-high inflation.

She is making the argument for the carbon tax, but what about the people who are being priced out of affording food? What do we say to them? Should we not be pausing all these tax increases? Does the NDP not support giving people tax breaks so they can afford to feed their kids and so seniors do not have to eat bananas and bologna because they cannot afford other food? I am hearing that from store clerks.

I will leave members with this: A store clerk approached me recently, and she said she is seeing more seniors than ever who are buying cat food, as cat food is pretty cheap, but they do not have cats. They are buying cat food because they cannot afford real food for themselves. That is how bad inflation is. That is how bad the taxes are that the government is putting on the energy to create our food. That is the real impact; people are eating cat food. We are asking them to axe the tax to give Canadians relief.

Amendment to Bill C-228 at Committee Stage—Speaker's RulingPoints of OrderGovernment Orders

November 16th, 2022 / 4:55 p.m.


The Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

I am now prepared to rule on the point of order raised on November 14, 2022, by the parliamentary secretary to the government House leader regarding an amendment adopted by the Standing Committee on Finance during clause-by-clause consideration of Bill C-228, an act to amend the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act and the Pension Benefits Standards Act, 1985.

In raising the point of order, the parliamentary secretary explained that the committee passed an amendment to protect termination and severance pay in case of bankruptcy. The chair of the committee ruled the amendment inadmissible on the grounds that it was beyond the scope of the bill. The decision was challenged and overturned. The committee then debated the amendment and adopted it.

According to the parliamentary secretary, this amendment broadens the scope and principle of the bill as agreed to at second reading. In addition, because the amendment introduces a new concept that was not contemplated at second reading, the parliamentary secretary argued that it should be removed from the version of the bill that will be considered at report stage and third reading.

However, the members for Niagara West and Sarnia—Lambton contended that decisions made by committees should not be overturned by the government of the day but allowed to stand in order to uphold their independence. For his part, the member for Elmwood—Transcona is of the view that the amendment should be allowed because the sponsor believed it to be relevant and it had also been referenced during debate at second reading.

After the report of the Standing Committee on Finance was presented to the House, the Chair was asked to ensure compliance with certain fundamental rules and practices and to consider if the committee had exceeded its powers with regard to an amendment included in its report. As Speaker Fraser explained on April 28, 1992, at page 9801 of the Debates:

When a bill is referred to a standing or legislative committee of the House, that committee is only empowered to adopt, amend or negative the clauses found in that piece of legislation and to report the bill to the House with or without amendments. The committee is restricted in its examination in a number of ways. It cannot…go beyond the scope of the bill as passed at second reading, and it cannot reach back to the parent act to make further amendments not contemplated in the bill no matter how tempting this may be.

The amendment at issue would create new clause 4.1 of the bill, which would protect the termination and severance pay that a bankrupt owes to various categories of its employees.

Bill C-228 is limited in scope. The summary of the bill at second reading states the following:

This enactment amends the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act and the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act to ensure that claims in respect of unfunded liabilities or solvency deficiencies of pension plans and claims relating to the cessation of an employer’s participation in group insurance plans are paid in priority in the event of bankruptcy proceedings.

The chair of the committee was right to conclude that the amendment is beyond the scope of the bill, as Bill C‑228 is intended to protect only employee pension funds and group insurance plans, not termination or severance pay for certain categories of employees in case of bankruptcy.

The Chair would like to remind members that the scope of a bill is not determined by its sponsor, by the government or even by the committee considering it, but by the House itself when it adopts the bill at second reading.

House of Commons Procedure and Practice, third edition, states the following on page 770: “An amendment to a bill that was referred to a committee after second reading is out of order if it is beyond the scope and principle of the bill.”

While the Chair recognizes that considering a bill at committee involves its share of challenges, committees must fulfill their mandate without exceeding their powers. Committees overstep the authority granted to them when they pass amendments that go beyond the scope of a bill referred to them after second reading.

In consequence, the Chair must rule the amendment adopted by the Standing Committee on Finance creating new clause 4.1 of Bill C-228 null and void, and order that it no longer form part of the bill that the committee reported to the House.

The Chair further orders a reprint of Bill C-228 so that the new version may be considered by the House at report stage.

I thank members for their attention.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-32, an act to implement certain provisions of the fall economic statement tabled in Parliament on November 3, 2022 and certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on April 7, 2022, be read the second time and referred to a committee, and of the amendment.

Fall Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2022Government Orders

5 p.m.


Patrick Weiler Liberal West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise in the House today to join the debate on the fall economic statement, otherwise known as the FES. This year, the FES comes at a very difficult time, as the world is suffering from inflation caused in large part by Putin's illegal invasion of Ukraine, which has reduced the supply of oil and gas in the market and boosted the prices of energy and all the other goods and services that we buy. Similarly, the reduction in grain from Ukraine in the market and the many droughts and climate disasters have inflated the price of food.

To cope with inflation, we have seen the Bank of Canada and central banks right around the world raise inflation rates to cool an overheated economy. The result is that even Canadians I know who have secure, well-paying jobs are worried about balancing the rise in the cost of everything they buy with paying the mortgage, especially those who have a variable rate mortgage.

It is even more crushing for those who do not have this security. That is why we passed legislation to double the GST credit for six months, which will provide $467 for families; to provide an extra $500 in rent support for low-income renters; and to launch a dental care program for low-income families, starting with children under 12.

This, of course, builds on programs that we have brought in since 2015, like the boost to OAS and GIS for seniors, the Canada child benefit, and $10-a-day child care, all of which have lifted over three million Canadians out of poverty and brought Canada to its lowest-ever poverty rate. We believe our approach shows compassion for those who really need the support while being cautious not to make inflation worse with further spending.

With this in mind, enter the FES. The FES is meant to provide an update on the state of the finances of the government and to introduce limited new measures while signalling where the government intends to go with the next year's budget.

That is exactly what the FES does this year, providing important supports for young Canadians, low-income workers and small businesses, while showing how Canada is going to compete in the global race for investment and jobs in the low-carbon economy.

The next year will be really challenging worldwide, but there is no country in the world that is better positioned to thrive going forward than Canada. The measures in the FES will move us closer to that reality.

We know our country and our economy cannot thrive if we leave students stuck with crippling and ever-increasing debt. Over the last seven years, we have doubled the Canada student grants to help students pay for post-secondary education and made it so that students do not have to start repaying their student loans until they are making at least $40,000 a year.

During the pandemic we also suspended interest on student loans, and now, through the fall economic statement, we are permanently eliminating the federal interest on student loans.

In budget 2021, we increased the Canada workers benefit to provide up to $2,500 more in the pockets of families who need it most. Given that the high cost of living today puts a real strain on people's day-to-day lives, we are moving payments to be quarterly, based on last year's income, so they have the support now, when they really need it.

Throughout the pandemic, the government of Canada was there to support small businesses with wage and rent support and access to liquidity. This meant that businesses survived the pandemic and provided the foundation for a recovery whereby Canada has recovered 117% of the jobs that were there prepandemic.

Canadians are increasingly moving away from using cash to pay for goods and services in favour of credit cards. This is something that very much happened over the course of the pandemic, but in doing so they are subject to credit card swipe fees, which are impacting businesses, particularly small businesses.

Small businesses do not want to pass this cost along to customers, especially at this time. To help these businesses and lower the cost of goods for all Canadians, we are proposing legislation to ensure that credit card companies reduce swipe fees.

We know that the elevated cost of housing is impacting all Canadians. As I mentioned, we are providing a $500 top-up to the Canada housing benefit. To tackle speculation in the market, beginning next year, we are also going to be bringing in a two-year ban on foreign buying of real estate, including a 1% tax on non-resident-owned, unused housing. As of May, we are also taxing property assignments.

In the FES, we are going to be helping first-time homebuyers get into the market with a tax-free home savings account of up to $40,000, the details of which will be forthcoming, as well as the first-time homebuyers tax credit.

At the same time, we are providing a new tax credit for owners who build a secondary suite for senior family members or those living with a disability, as well as bringing in a new tax on property-flipping.

The aforementioned measures will help all Canadians right now, but we know the world is not static. While the war in Ukraine has caused inflation and a short-term hike in the demand for fossil fuels, it has also accelerated the transition to cleaner energy as nations seek to end their dependence on fossil fuels and achieve energy security, as well as tackling climate change.

Nowhere is this inevitability of the transition away from fossil fuels more obvious than in what is happening south of the border with the Inflation Reduction Act. This act is aptly named because, contrary to what the leader of the official opposition believes, we do not opt out of inflation by investing in crypto, which of course has crashed by 61% this year. We opt out of inflation by reducing reliance on the roller coaster of fossil fuel prices.

The IRA offers enormous financial supports for firms that locate their production in the United States and creates generous tax credits to industries like renewable energy development and hydrogen production, and incentives for North American-made electric vehicles to power the transition. While, on a per capita basis, the U.S. investment of almost $370 billion pales in comparison to the $100 billion investment that we have made in Canada, Canada needs to respond to secure its competitive advantage and to secure investment and jobs, or risk being left behind.

On the fight against climate change alone and to build a net-zero economy by 2050, Canada will need to invest between $125 billion and $140 billion every year over that period. Total annual investment in the climate transition to date is about $15 billion to $25 billion, so no government can close this gap alone.

We need to mobilize private capital to invest in Canada's green transition and the clean economy, and while companies and investors are aware of opportunities to commercialize and deploy emissions reduction technologies, they are often restrained due to investment risks that are frequently associated with these investment opportunities.

That is why, through the fall economic statement, or FES, we are launching the Canada growth fund. This is a $15-billion facility that will help attract billions of dollars in new private capital to create good-paying jobs and support Canada's economic transformation towards a low-carbon future. The fund will aim to leverage private capital at a rate of at least three to one and respond to measures that international competitors are bringing in.

To supplement the Canada growth fund, the FES also proposes a refundable tax credit equal to 30% of the capital cost of investments in renewable energy, electricity storage, heat pumps, zero-emission vehicles, refuelling equipment and more. This will greatly assist with the electrification of our economy, which we will need to do to reduce our emissions.

However, there are parts of our economy that cannot be practically electrified, and that is where solutions like hydrogen become key, such as in freight transportation, air travel and shipping. To support the growth of this sector, the FES also announced that we will be introducing an investment tax credit for clean hydrogen, to ensure this critical clean energy source is developed here in Canada.

What is notable about all these measures is that we have geared the full extent of the tax credit only to those companies that follow proper labour practices and create well-paying jobs, which is key. However, to ensure that workers are ready for these jobs, the FES will also proceed with a $250-million investment to create a sustainable jobs training centre to help 1,500 workers upgrade or gain new skills for jobs in the low-carbon economy, and a union training and innovation program to support 20,000 union-based apprenticeship training opportunities in the skilled trades.

I see that my time is running out, which means I will not be able to discuss things like the additional $1.6 billion that will go towards delivering on our immigration levels plan, or the new tax that we are going to be bringing in on share buybacks to ensure that corporations, many of which are making record profits this year, invest in Canada rather than simply buying back their shares.

The FES shows that we are not only taking a responsible fiscal path but also being compassionate to those who are most impacted by inflation, through supports for students, low-income workers and small businesses. Importantly, it will also allow Canada to be competitive in the race for investment in the green economy, which will provide long-term prosperity and jobs for our country.

While we are navigating turbulent times at the moment, there is no country that is better positioned to thrive over time, and that is why I encourage all members of the House to support this legislation.

Fall Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2022Government Orders

5:10 p.m.


Maxime Blanchette-Joncas Bloc Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to my colleague's speech. He spoke about many things, but he forgot some important things. He forgot to mention seniors, the most vulnerable in our society.

Once again, we do not understand why the Liberal government continues to discriminate against seniors. It did so in August 2021 when it magically came up with $500 cheques to send to people aged 75 and over.

As we know, those great magicians are unable to deliver passports, but they can deliver cheques in mailboxes the day before an election, or even the day or the week before calling an election.

Let us continue. They have increased old age security for those aged 75 and over. They have created two classes of seniors. People are eligible for a pension at age 65, but the increase to which people would usually be entitled is only for those aged 75 and over. How can this government continue to discriminate against seniors?

We see that again with this economic update, despite the raging inflation. We are dealing with the worst inflationary crisis in 40 years, yet the government is doing absolutely nothing for the most vulnerable, who are having to turn to food banks. In my riding, demand is growing. People have to make agonizing choices between food and medication.

When will this government do something for seniors?

Fall Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2022Government Orders

5:10 p.m.


Patrick Weiler Liberal West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague from la belle province for his question.

However, I disagree with his question, because we are there for seniors and always have been. In my speech, I said that we had boosted OAS and GIS for seniors. The measures we implemented this fall will help seniors. I am thinking about the $500 cheques that will be sent to low-income renters. There is also the GST credit for people of all ages. I know that many vulnerable seniors will benefit from that.

I disagree with the member because we have always been there for seniors and for all Canadians. There are always new measures we can bring in to improve the situation. I am always ready to work on that with my hon. colleague.

Fall Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2022Government Orders

5:15 p.m.


John Nater Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

Mr. Speaker, we are talking about the cost of living increases that Canadians are being faced with and what the government can do to help those Canadians right now. One of the things that we have heard time and again is about the tripling of the carbon tax and the impact it is going to have on home heating, gas and groceries. Would the member agree that all Canadians can be helped right now and give some assurance that the government will just stop and cancel that increase on the carbon tax?

Fall Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2022Government Orders

5:15 p.m.


Patrick Weiler Liberal West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, BC

Mr. Speaker, this is not a measure that makes life more expensive for Canadians, because we know with the climate action incentive that eight out of 10 families get more back than they pay into this. In my home province of British Columbia it has been something that has been in effect for over a decade. It was brought in by a right-of-centre government at the time, so I completely disagree with that as an affordability measure.

The last thing we want to do is cut off the cheques that people are receiving. When we talk about the families that receive the most relative to what they pay, it is low-income Canadians, so I think that is precisely the last direction we want to be moving in.

Also, there is a very strong rationale for it as we are living in a climate emergency, so this is not the time to be scaling back on our actions with respect to that, because we have seen the very real cost just over the last couple of years. Look at what happened this year in Atlantic Canada, with hurricane Fiona. Last year, in my home province of B.C., the atmospheric rivers caused over $9 billion in damage. Climate change is real, and we need to make sure we are all playing our part in addressing it.

Fall Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2022Government Orders

5:15 p.m.


Pierre Paul-Hus Conservative Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am here to talk about the fall economic statement, which was presented last week.

For the past seven long years, the Liberals, with the shameful complicity of the NDP, have succeeded in breaking the spirit and morale of Canadians by making them poorer than they have ever been in the history of our country. When asked if I would like to share my thoughts on the fall economic statement, I did not think twice.

As members of Parliament, we are well positioned to see what is actually happening on the ground, and I wonder why the members opposite do not see how people are suffering, as we do on our side. When the Minister of Finance says that cancelling a Disney+ subscription is a good option to reduce the debt burden and make ends meet at the end of the month, it is clear that the Liberals are totally out of touch with reality.

I will give some examples. When the Liberals came to power in 2015, a litre of gas cost $1. Now, on average, it costs $1.67. This does not even take into account the increases that are expected in the new year, when this Prime Minister raises the carbon tax for a third time.

In 2015, the average price of a house in Canada was close to $300,000. Today, the average price of a house is over $746,000. This is 40% more expensive than in the United States. The Prime Minister has said he does not think about monetary policy all that much, and I have a feeling the Minister of Finance does not either. The economic update released by the Liberal-NDP coalition does not address the cost of living crisis created by government spending, which is out of control. The Prime Minister's inflationary deficits have driven up the price of groceries, gas and home heating. Canadians have never paid more in taxes than under this Prime Minister.

To reduce the cost of living in Canada, the Conservatives had two clear requirements. It was not complicated. First, we implored the government to not create any new taxes. We asked it to cancel all planned tax hikes and to not triple the carbon tax. Second, we warned the Liberals that they had to stop all new spending or ensure that any new spending was matched dollar for dollar in savings. In other words, to spend a dollar, they would have to save a dollar. What was so complicated about the Conservative Party's requests for this economic update? Nothing, it was just common sense.

I cannot show the document that I have with me, but we saw in this economic update that none of the Conservative Party's demands were met. For that reason, we cannot support this inflationary update.

The Liberals claim that they had no other choice than to double the debt. They have accumulated more debt than all previous prime ministers combined. Let us recall the 2015 election campaign. The Prime Minister, who was then the leader of the Liberal Party, said that the Liberals would have a small deficit of $10 billion the first year in office and another the second year. After that, they would balance the budget. They promised to make massive investments in the country's infrastructure.

It was a good marketing strategy. They promised to run up a deficit to invest money, and people thought that it might not be such a crazy idea. We all saw what happened. After their first four years in office, they had accumulated $100 billion in additional debt and no major infrastructure project had gotten off the ground in Canada. We fell for it from the beginning.

Then, the Prime Minister tried to make us believe that all of the spending in the past two years was related to the pandemic. However, today, we know that 40% of the new measures were not. We are talking about $205 billion. The Parliamentary Budget Officer did a study that showed that $300 billion of the $500 billion was used to implement pandemic-related measures. There again, we could look into all of that spending because there was no reason for some of it. Regardless, we know that, according to the Parliamentary Budget Officer's assessment, $205 billion in spending had nothing to do with the pandemic. What is worse, we do not know what that money was used for. Half a trillion dollars was spent in two years on top of the government's usual spending.

How did we get into this mess? The inflation rate is so insanely high that interest rates had to be pushed up to control it. Meanwhile, ordinary people are being bled dry.

Additional costs are related to things such as houses and mortgages. People with variable mortgages get hit first. Every time the interest rate rises, their mortgage interest rate goes up. The principal does not change, but the interest rate jumps.

People who have to renew their mortgage these days will have to pay an average of $7,000 more in interest per year for an average family. That is a chunk of change.

Our friends across the way used to love talking about how they were working for the middle class and the people who wanted to be part of it. What we have seen in recent years is the opposite of that. They have made the middle class poorer, not richer, and people are ending up in financial trouble.

The Bank of Canada announced that it had no choice but to raise the interest rate in an attempt to fight inflation driven by inflationary measures. That will make things even worse for people.

There was nothing in the fall economic update suggesting the government plans to do anything to keep all that under control. The only thing on the agenda is taxes, taxes and more taxes. We have been talking about the carbon tax for two months now.

Yesterday, I was pleased to see a report by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, which polled businesses across the country. One of the main conclusions is that the businesses confirm that the carbon tax is a major problem for transportation. All the costs associated with that are causing prices to go up and the consumer is left paying the bill. The CFIB is asking on behalf of its members to not increase the carbon tax. The Conservative Party is not making this up. Businesses across the country are saying that this absurd and that it needs to stop.

I am not even talking about food banks. Last month, there were 1.5 million visits to the country's food banks in just one month. That is a record number of food bank visits in the history of Canada.

I have endless examples, but the main thing I want people to remember from my remarks today is that ultimately, this economic update, which is about 100 pages long, simply repeats measures that were voted on last fall. There is nothing really new here. The Conservative Party's simple demands, which we know were backed by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, were not considered. Furthermore, the Parliamentary Budget Officer's assessments confirm what we are saying.

We are not making things up just so we can make speeches and blather on. We are stating economic realities that are easy to understand. Canadians who have to pay the bills at the end of the month understand this full well. They look to their government, which does not seem to get it. People are looking to their MPs and asking them what is going on and what they can do to help the economy make a smart recovery. That is our job.

The Conservatives are in opposition for now, but not for very long. We do not know how much longer we will be in opposition, but as long as we are, we will make sure Canadians know we are asking the right questions and making the right recommendations to the government to build a good, strong economy so that people can get up in the morning feeling happy to go to work and knowing they have enough money to treat themselves once in a while, not wondering if they will have enough money to pay the bills at the end of the month even though they have a job.

There was nothing new in the fall economic update. Nothing has changed, and that is very disappointing.

Fall Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2022Government Orders

5:25 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba


Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, I think most Canadians, if they understood the position the Conservative Party is taking on the legislation, would be somewhat disappointed.

We are going through some very difficult times, even though, relatively speaking, Canada is doing exceptionally well on the inflation front. Compared with the U.S., Germany, England and many of the European Union countries, Canada is doing well. However, it is not good enough. We believe that Canada could do more at the local level.

The Conservatives say they want us to do more, but they consistently vote against measures that help Canadians, so I have a specific question. Why is the Conservative Party opposed to supporting interest-free relief for students in Canada?

Fall Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2022Government Orders

5:25 p.m.


Pierre Paul-Hus Conservative Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Madam Speaker, we are against it because these are inflationary measures. Even Mark Carney said that Canada's inflation is domestically generated.

As long as we are comparing ourselves to other countries, why not compare ourselves to countries such as Switzerland that do not have inflation?

Should the government copy countries that are not handling things well, that are taking insignificant measures and creating problems? The answer is no. We should do what needs to be done for Canada here in Canada.

If we cannot stop inflationary measures, we will end up in a vicious cycle, with Canadians getting poorer and poorer.

Fall Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2022Government Orders

5:25 p.m.


Maxime Blanchette-Joncas Bloc Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Madam Speaker, I congratulate my colleague on his speech, which I listened to carefully.

We understand that the Conservative Party's strategy is to not raise taxes and to reduce investments. I have another solution to suggest to my colleague. The government could make cuts in unnecessary areas. I would start with subsidies to oil and gas companies. As everyone knows, Canada is a world champion in this field, providing financial support totalling $8 billion a year. That is significant.

Second, what does my colleague think of the monarchy, which costs about $60 million a year? That would be another good place to make cuts.

What does he think about abolishing the Senate? In recent years, the cost to operate the Senate has not increased by 5%, 10%, 15% or 20%; it has increased by nearly 40%. People are not elected to the upper chamber. That is archaic. What does my colleague think of that?

It is all well and good to go after taxes, but why not cut spending on completely useless organizations and companies that make billions in profits every quarter, like oil and gas companies?

Fall Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2022Government Orders

5:30 p.m.


Pierre Paul-Hus Conservative Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his many questions.

We definitely need to find savings. Over the past two years, at least $205 billion has been spent on who knows what. Imagine all the auditing that needs to be done.

I do not think that getting out of energy production is a good idea. We would end up buying foreign energy, which we are already doing too much of.

Instead, we should be self-reliant, consume Canadian energy and get organized. Our energy is the greenest in the world. Why consume foreign energy? Why invest in buying energy from other countries, corrupt countries, when we have everything we need here at home?

Fall Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2022Government Orders

5:30 p.m.


Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Madam Speaker, I am wondering what my hon. colleague's views are on the impact of corporate price raising in this country. Does he believe that it is playing any role in the current inflation? Would he agree with the NDP that at a time of windfall corporate profits, it is time to bring in a windfall corporate profits tax?

Fall Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2022Government Orders

5:30 p.m.


Pierre Paul-Hus Conservative Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for the question.

There is a balance to everything. There needs to be balance when it comes to taxes, both for individuals and businesses. However, let us not forget that businesses are wealth creators. Without businesses, there are no jobs.

We have to ensure that there is balance and no abuse. We also need to ensure that companies that make a profit reinvest in effective measures to build their business capacity while offering greener solutions for the environment.

Criteria need to be established and put in place. We cannot simply say that businesses are not paying enough taxes. There needs to be a balance. We need to see what we can do to make things better for businesses, individuals and the environment.

Fall Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2022Government Orders

5:30 p.m.


Sonia Sidhu Liberal Brampton South, ON

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House on behalf of the residents of Brampton South in favour of the fall economic statement, as tabled by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance.

The past two years have been challenging for residents in Brampton and for all Canadians. We worked together and Canadians rolled up their sleeves to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, and now the government is focused on supporting Canadians who need it while ensuring inclusive economic growth.

As the Deputy Prime Minister said, this is about building an economy that works for everyone from coast to coast to coast. It is a plan that will set Canada up for success and it is a plan that is balanced, targeted and responsible.

Already, as a country, we have the lowest deficit and the lowest debt-to-GDP ratio in the G7, as well as an AAA credit rating. Our economic engine in Canada is strong, but there are challenges on the horizon due to global inflation. This is why we need to take targeted steps. When I talk with parents, families, seniors and youth in my riding, I hear they are grateful that this government is taking targeted action to make sure Canadians in all our communities are supported.

The programs announced in this fall economic statement add to the series of recent announcements over the past months. These supports have already been reaching Canadians, and I want to begin with some perspective that leads us to where we are today. Recently, I was speaking with a single senior who lives in downtown Brampton. She told me about how impactful the increase to the old age security pension has been, as it is giving her greater peace of mind. I met her at an art class supported by the federal government. She also told me that she is looking forward to the eventual rollout of the dental care program, which will cover Canadians who need it.

On that point, I have served proudly on the health committee since 2015. Over the years, we have heard about the importance of dental care. We know many families do not have the means to send their kids to a dentist. In committee, we heard about how 2.2 million school days are missed by children every year because of emergency dental care. This is a smart investment from the federal government that will save thousands of dollars through prevention per patient and will help make sure our kids do not need to endure emergency surgeries.

The actions in the fall economic statement are informed by things we are already seeing on the ground. I also hear about the need for more affordable housing supply, and I am glad this government is recognizing this. Housing density in Brampton is high, with more than 26% of households having five or more people under one roof. In other words, according to the 2021 census, we have hundreds of multi-generational homes in our community. We need to respect and support the choice of families to live together.

The fall economic statement introduces a multi-generational home renovation tax credit. It would provide up to $7,500 in support for constructing a secondary unit for a family member who is a senior or an adult with a disability, starting in January 2023. I know $7,500 will make a big difference for families in Brampton who want to have a grandparent or family member live with them.

This government is also advancing the age well at home initiative, which will help seniors stay in their homes for as long as possible, providing practical assistance for everyday tasks.

Brampton is growing, and we have great economic opportunities, but we need more affordable housing options and an increased supply. I was very grateful to see the launch of the third round of the rapid housing initiative, which will be allocated in Peel. This is in addition to the largest investment ever made for housing in the region of Peel, in 2020, of more than $276 million. It means more affordable units in a region that is experiencing a high demand for new housing. In addition to large systemic investments to our regions and cities, we are also giving tools to Canadian families.

The fall economic statement would also implement the new tax-free first home savings account, which would allow Canadians under 40 to not only save up $40,000 toward their first home, but also withdraw it tax-free. For those most impacted and with income under $35,000, a one-time top-up to the Canada housing benefit program will roll out soon.

This government has made it a priority to make life more affordable by also reducing long-term inflationary pressures. I want to highlight the impact that our policies have been on young families. We see across the country how impactful our investments in child care have been. In some provinces, parents have already seen a decrease of 25% in their fees, and by the end of the year, they will see another 25% decrease, fulfilling our commitment to cut child care fees in half as we work toward $10-per-day child care by 2025. It is saving parents money and also giving them the chance to step into the workforce.

Building on that success, the fall economic statement introduces new measures for recent Canadian graduates. I recently spoke with a university graduate from my youth council who was born and raised in Brampton and who has accessed federal loans. This has already been a beneficial program, but we know Canadian students need additional support. That is why this government is making it easier for students to start their careers without the burden of federal student loan interest.

The fall economic statement includes a commitment to permanently eliminate the federal interest on Canada student loans and Canada apprentice loans. This will benefit over one million student loan borrowers and save an average borrower more than $3,000 over the lifetime of their loan. This will make a real difference to support young Canadians and is a great step in addition to increasing the loan repayment threshold from $25,000 to $40,000. I often say that young people are our leaders of today, and we need to make sure they are set up on the path to excel in their bright futures.

Immigration is also a key way to create a strong foundation for economic growth. I was pleased to see new investments for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada that will address backlogs and speed up the processing of applications. These applicants will help fill labour shortages in crucial areas such as health care, manufacturing and the trades. This comes with a much-needed $1.6 billion over six years and $315 million in new, ongoing funding, as well as $50 million to make sure that the department has the resources it needs to facilitate efficient processing.

This government recognizes the importance of attracting newcomers to rural and northern communities to address specific labour shortages in some provinces while providing additional much-needed support to communities with diverse populations such as Brampton. Families in Brampton waiting for their relatives applications to be processed will be pleased with our significant investments to reduce wait times and improve file processing.

Another important measure will be the creation of a new quarterly Canada workers benefit with automatic advance payments. This will be in the form of a refundable tax credit that tops up the earnings of low- and modest-income workers. It will put up to $2,400 in the pockets of low-income families. This will reward and encourage workers for doing essential jobs.

As we know, the backbone of a strong economy is made up of our small and medium-sized businesses. I received an email from a local grocery store earlier this summer that told me that the majority of the payments it processes are digital, with debit or credit cards, and it wants to continue to offer excellent services to its customers. It is a relief for it to hear the fall economic statement will advance efforts to lower credit card transaction fees for small and medium-sized businesses. This is something we have to do for small business owners. They were hit hard by COVID-19.

Finally, this past summer, when the Deputy Prime Minister visited Brampton to meet with workers in the trucking industry, we heard the concerns of some employees about their employment status. Last week the Minister of Labour was in the GTA to update industry members and highlight investments in the fall economic statement that will make sure employees can access their rights and what they are entitled to.

Fall Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2022Government Orders

5:40 p.m.


Fraser Tolmie Conservative Moose Jaw—Lake Centre—Lanigan, SK

Madam Speaker, as we have debated this subject, we have heard the Liberal government bragging about Canada's AAA credit rating. When one has a credit card, the provider is always looking to increase the credit, and lenders always make money.

I have a couple of points here. Number one is homelessness. The Auditor General just spoke about it and gave a failing grade. I sit on the committee for Veterans Affairs, and it is getting a failing grade as well. Why does the government want to continue processing its way of doing its carbon tax when it is failing the people of Canada?

Fall Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2022Government Orders

5:40 p.m.


Sonia Sidhu Liberal Brampton South, ON

Madam Speaker, this is a targeted and responsible plan. I want to highlight the fall economic statement is a top-up of measures already taken, it is permanently eliminating interest for federal students, launching the new Canada growth fund and creating a new quarterly Canada workers benefit.

All these benefits are helping Canadians, and this is a fiscal plan that will help Canadians in this difficult time. This is the way we have to move forward.

Fall Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2022Government Orders

5:40 p.m.


Kristina Michaud Bloc Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia, QC

Madam Speaker, I heard my government colleague say that she is proud of this economic update.

I was not proud when I presented this update to my constituents. There are seasonal workers in my riding, and on September 24, the government announced that, in the Lower St. Lawrence area, the number of insurable hours required to qualify for EI would increase from 420 to 700, even though EI benefits are paid for with the premiums deducted from these workers' wages. Obviously, by then, they had run out of time to work more and accumulate enough hours.

We expected that there would at least be something in the economic update to help these workers who are being left behind, despite being promised EI reform since 2015.

I am wondering what my colleague would say on behalf of the government to these seasonal workers in the Lower St. Lawrence area.

Fall Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2022Government Orders

5:45 p.m.


Sonia Sidhu Liberal Brampton South, ON

Madam Speaker, the government is presently doing consultations to ensure employers and employees have access to a high quality EI system. What we are debating today is the fall economic statement. We have already announced top-ups and support measures that will make a big difference in the lives of Canadians. For example, rental and dental supports, and doubling the GST credit, will all support what Canadians need.

Fall Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2022Government Orders

5:45 p.m.


Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Madam Speaker, many economists, including Jim Stanford, have noted that the economic policy that is being used to combat inflation has historically led to a recession. Many economists are actually predicting a recession next year, and it is estimated that as many as 850,000 Canadian workers are at risk of losing their jobs as a result of that policy of quantitative tightening.

What does my hon. colleague say to Canadian workers? What is her view of the Bank of Canada's policy of raising interest rates in an attempt to suppress wages, which will ultimately lead to a recession and many workers losing their jobs? Does she agree with that?

Fall Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2022Government Orders

5:45 p.m.


Sonia Sidhu Liberal Brampton South, ON

Madam Speaker, the hon. member is a great advocate in the health committee for his residents, but today I want say to members that this is why the fall economic statement is focused on making life more affordable for workers by increasing the Canada workers benefit with up to $2,400 for low-income families and ensuring truck drivers are protected with the Canada Labour Code. The fall economic statement's benefits are a top-up to programs already going on. There is one other thing I just want to say to members. A AAA credit rating sets Canada in a very good fiscal position.

Fall Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2022Government Orders

5:45 p.m.


Shannon Stubbs Conservative Lakeland, AB

Madam Speaker, Canadians are out of money and the fall economic statement shows that the Liberals are out of touch. Almost half of Canadians are $200 or less away from bankruptcy, cannot cover their living expenses this year, cannot save for the future and are cutting back on healthy food. A quarter of Canadian households cannot cover monthly bills and debt repayment.

It is appalling that the Prime Minister doubled Canada’s debt and said that the government “took on debt so Canadians wouldn't have to.” Canadians are now paying the staggering price for his reckless decisions, and he has added more debt than all previous prime ministers in Canadian history combined.

He claims that all the new spending was because of COVID, but over $200 billion of it had nothing to do with COVID. All that spending has created record-high inflation that is driving up the cost of everything, and essentials such as gas, groceries and home heating are almost out of reach. The fall statement does nothing to alleviate these burdens on struggling Canadians. With record debt, record inflation and, as it turns out, record taxes, Canadians pay more taxes now than ever before, and actually pay more in taxes than for food, clothing and shelter combined.

The fall statement shows that the Liberals are going to make things worse and will keep racking up debt to fuel their spending. Of course, they plan to triple the carbon tax too. The fall economic statement is an insult to hard-working Canadians struggling just to get by, never mind trying to actually get ahead.

The Conservatives asked the Liberals to commit to tackling inflation and the skyrocketing cost of living by ensuring they would bring in no new taxes and no new spending. They ignored both and will only fuel the skyrocketing cost of living fire they set.

As is the government's pattern, the fall statement undermines Canada's natural resources sector, which bolsters the entire economy and is a leading contributor to GDP, jobs, government revenue and closing the gap between the wealthy and poor in Canada. While the Prime Minister recently said Russia's attack on Ukraine has accelerated his government's effort to phase out oil and gas, the finance minister recently claimed that Canada is ready to “support our allies with energy security”. She claims it will be easier for businesses to invest in major projects in Canada, but the reality is that the Liberal record is one of deliberate policy uncertainty, unpredictability and added red tape and costs that drive businesses, jobs and money out of Canada.

Oil and gas is Canada’s biggest private sector investor and lead export, even now. However, the NDP-Liberals’ anti-energy agenda has already had stark consequences: 300,000 jobs lost, over $150 billion in energy projects and indigenous partnerships cancelled and four pipelines dead. They would have enabled Canadian energy security and self-sufficiency and would have exported more Canadian energy to the world.

Shockingly, under the Liberals, 25 LNG export projects have been stalled or abandoned, risking 100,000 jobs and $500 billion in new investment. In the same time, the U.S. built seven and approved 20 more, while only one in Canada, with the biggest private sector investment in Canadian history and approved under the former Conservative government, has shovels in the ground. In Germany, a major LNG import facility was just permitted and built in 194 days. They wanted Canadian LNG but cannot get it because of the Liberals. How many times was LNG cited in the fall economic statement? It was zero.

The finance minister talks about accelerating project approvals, but her government has actually done everything it can to slow them down or destroy them completely. She even said that Canada must and will fast-track “the energy and mining projects our allies need to heat their homes and to manufacture electric vehicles.” However, this fall statement actually eliminates incentives for small-scale energy start-ups, picks winners and losers in resource development and would make energy in Canada for Canadians more and more expensive.

The fall statement outlines an incoming 2% tax on buybacks of a company’s own stock. That would harm Canadian investment because it is double the rate of the U.S. It would cause Canadian businesses and investments to continue to move south.

The NDP-Liberals will also get rid of flow-through shares, which are a major source of start-up capital for many oil, gas, and predominantly mining projects. Cancelling them only for oil and gas would hurt small businesses, especially those investing in alternative energy and emissions-reduction technology, because 93% of oil and gas companies in Canada have under 100 employees. They face high costs, high uncertainty, high risk and domestic political hostility, so private investment is already a challenge.

Get this. In 2020, the then natural resources minister expanded flow-through shares to help small companies build stronger supply chains, including for critical minerals. However, this fall economic statement cuts them, so by their own admission, it is jeopardizing supply chains that are already severely compromised.

Liberal claims and policies are incoherent, contradictory and hypocritical. The finance minister's delivery of the fall statement mentioned “critical minerals” five times and she claims they are a priority. They should be a key pillar of Canada's resource future, but so far there is only talk. In reality, critical minerals in Canada such as nickel, lithium and uranium will stay in the ground because mining approvals take several years, duplicate provincial and municipal reviews and can be paused or get new conditions at any time. Canada currently produces no phosphate, a key component in electric car batteries. The Liberals say they want all new vehicle sales to be zero emissions by 2035, but phosphate is not even on Canada’s critical minerals list.

The gap between words and actions is not surprising, though. It is the Liberals' modus operandi on almost everything. Instead of actually fixing the regulatory mess they created, the Liberals drive Canada deeper into debt and announce more tax dollars to fund their broken programs. The fall statement seems to admit it because the Liberals plan to pour $1.28 billion into the various resource regulators.

The Liberals should be ashamed that this is necessary, since Canada was consistently world renowned for decades as the most responsible resource producer with the highest standards and performance and a best-in-class regulatory system by all measures. It was literally the best in the world out of the top ten resource-producing jurisdictions on the planet before the Liberals broke it. The only way the Liberals seem to get companies to pursue new major projects is by bankrolling them with tax dollars. Layers of red tape and duplication and an unclear and arbitrary review process cause investors to seek opportunities outside of Canada.

Unlike the Liberals, the Conservatives would remove unnecessary roadblocks and duplication, attract investment and accelerate approvals for resource projects that are crucial to economic and national security, while maintaining the highest global standards. The Conservatives would ensure things can actually get built in this country.

A Conservative government would axe the carbon tax, repeal the anti-energy, anti-business and anti-export bills and get more of Canada’s world-leading environmentally and socially responsible oil, gas and minerals to the world to displace these products from countries with lower environmental, human rights, labour and governance standards.

The Conservatives will put the people first. Instead of government creating cash and making everything more expensive, the Conservatives will make sure Canada creates more of what cash buys: more homes, more gas, more food and more resources here at home—

Fall Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2022Government Orders

5:55 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

The hon. member will have two minutes and 30 seconds to finish her speech the next time this matter is before the House.

It being 5:55 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of Private Members' Business as listed on today's Order Paper.

Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development ActPrivate Members' Business

5:55 p.m.


Luc Thériault Bloc Montcalm, QC

moved that Bill C‑282, An Act to amend the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Act (supply management), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Madam Speaker, it is a privilege for me to rise in the House to speak on behalf of supply-managed producers. I will present the main reasons why we, as lawmakers, should guarantee our producers a sustainable future by passing Bill C‑282.

I just want to take a moment to thank farmers in the riding of Montcalm who operate 87 supply-managed farms. Over 70% of the riding is agricultural. Its main industry is agriculture and agri-food.

Given that a number of Bloc Québécois motions to protect the integrity of supply management have been adopted unanimously, some members think it would be inconsistent not to pass this bill in principle and refer it to a committee for study. I thank them for that.

It is also a privilege for me to sponsor this bill, which I should note is identical to Bill C‑216. If memory serves, that bill won the support of a significant majority of 250 MPs in the previous Parliament thanks to my colleagues' amazing work.

I want to mention the work done by the member for Berthier—Maskinongé, a brilliant and staunch defender of the interests of the agricultural sector. I also salute the contribution of my young and eloquent colleague from Saint‑Hyacinthe—Bagot, the Bloc Québécois critic for international trade. Not to mention the member for Bécancour—Nicolet—Saurel, who sponsored Bill C‑216 in the last Parliament, a bill that would already be in effect if not for the useless election in August 2021. He is the dean of the House, the one who has seen the flood of good intentions in the ocean of promises to protect supply management.

These promises resulted in irreversible breaches in three major free trade agreements that unfortunately did permanent damage because the supply management system wrongly became a bargaining chip, as Gérard Bérubé wrote in Le Devoir on August 30, 2018:

Canada's supply management system has found itself in the crosshairs many times in the context of free trade and, unfortunately, has become a bargaining chip for Ottawa in the the past three major negotiations. From breach to fault, the crack continues to grow dangerously bigger.

I believe in parliamentary democracy and refuse to become a cynic, although I hold no naive beliefs about the ability of the legislative power to not let itself be subordinate to the executive, especially for those on the government benches.

As MPs, we are representatives of the people and we are legislators. We are the ones who must make the voice of the people heard and defend their interests against an executive power that all too often governs like a supreme ruler and that sometimes breaks its promises and goes against the unanimous will of the House, as expressed in the motions it adopts.

Some might think that Bill C‑282 is not necessary. They will swear, hand on heart, that they will protect supply management from now on. However, history tends to repeat itself, so I would humbly point out, by way of example, that, in the context of the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, the Bloc Québécois moved a motion on February 7, 2018, which said, and I quote: “That the House call on the government to ensure that there is no breach in supply management as part of the new Trans-Pacific Partnership.” This motion was unanimously adopted.

A month later, on March 8, 2018, the Liberal government went back on its word by signing the new Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.

In the context of the renegotiation of NAFTA, the Bloc also moved a motion on September 26, 2017, for the government to protect supply-managed markets. I will read it:

That the House reiterate its desire to fully preserve supply management during the NAFTA renegotiations.

One month later, on November 30, 2018, the Liberal government went back on its word by signing CUSMA, an agreement meant to replace NAFTA. Unfortunately, despite the promise made to Parliament, several concessions were made, putting the financial stability of Quebec's agricultural businesses in jeopardy. Four times the House unanimously expressed its desire to fully protect the supply management system. However, both Liberal and Conservative governments clearly did not feel bound by that commitment when they signed the last three free trade agreements.

These agreements have been disastrous when it comes to the concessions that were made at the expense of supply-managed agricultural producers and processors. Without the guarantee that Bill C‑282 offers to exclude supply management from free trade agreements, many are now questioning their future.

Bill C‑282 is very simple. It amends the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Act to expand the minister's list of responsibilities to include protecting the supply management system. Section 10 of the act would be amended to add supply management to the list of directives that the minister must take into account when conducting Canada's external affairs, including international trade. Once this bill is fully implemented, the minister responsible for international trade will have to defend supply-managed farmers to our trading partners. It will now be part of the minister's mandate to negotiate without creating loopholes in the system, as has been the case with the last three agreements. Bill C‑282 has become necessary because the loopholes that have been created are preventing the system from working effectively. They undermine the integrity of the principles that make up the system: price, production and border controls.

Supply management is an essential strategic tool in preserving our food autonomy, regional development and land use. It is also a pan-Canadian risk management tool designed to protect agricultural markets against price fluctuations. This system is based on three main principles, on three pillars.

The first pillar is supply management via a production quota system derived from research on consumption, that is, consumer demand for dairy products. The Canadian Dairy Commission distributes quota to each province. The provinces' marketing boards, also known as producer associations, sell quota to their own farmers to ensure that production is aligned with domestic demand.

The second pillar is price controls. A floor price and a ceiling price are set to ensure that each link in the supply chain gets its fair share.

The third pillar is border control.

Supply management is a model envied around the world, especially in countries that have abolished it. Dairy producers in countries that dropped supply management are lobbying to have it reinstated. Increasingly, American dairy producers are questioning their government's decision to abolish supply management for their sector in the early 1990s. For almost a decade now, the price of milk has been plummeting, and small farms are no longer able to cover production costs.

This price level is generally attributed to overproduction. Every year, millions of gallons of milk are dumped in ditches. In 2016, it was over 100 million gallons. In the state of Wisconsin, for example, nearly 500 farms per week were shutting down in 2018.

Producers can simply no longer afford to produce for so little income. One of the problems is that the dairy sector is organized around overproduction, particularly with the aim of exporting surplus production at low prices. As a former U.S. secretary of agriculture himself admitted, when you overproduce, only the biggest can survive.

Of course, there is another possible argument. Some people might think that, since producers and processors have finally been compensated, although four years later in some cases, and they are satisfied, small breaches can continue from one agreement to another by compensating people afterwards.

Of course, no amount of compensation, no temporary one-off cheque, will cover the permanent structural damage and losses caused by the breaches in the agreements with Europe, the Pacific countries, the U.S. and Mexico. Supply management is not perfect, but the advantages outweigh the disadvantages, especially in allowing all links in the chain to produce and to have fair and equitable incomes for everyone in the entire production chain.

In closing, the question we need to ask ourselves is this: Do we want to protect certain segments of our agricultural industry from foreign competition while abiding by the rules of the WTO agreements?

The answer to that question should be yes, especially since the supply management system follows those rules. We have the right to do so, and many countries avail themselves of those provisions. We are not the only ones that protect certain products. Everyone does it, even the countries that are criticizing us for doing so.

It is important to remember that Canada has signed 16 free trade agreements that do not affect supply management in any way. It is therefore possible to discuss and negotiate without touching supply management.

We cannot allow the United States or other countries to force us to abandon our agricultural policies and practices. What are we really trying to protect our production from? We want to protect it from unfair competition.

Our main partner, the United States, is breaking many international trade rules while constantly asking us to give them more access. The U.S. is providing its agricultural industry with billions of dollars in illegal subsidies a year, which cuts production costs for farmers and enables them to resell their products locally or elsewhere at a lower cost. That is strictly prohibited by the WTO.

There is no question that Quebec and Canada are exporting nations. This is not about increasing protectionism. What we want is to maintain a system that has proven its worth for almost 50 years.

Since 2015, I have had the opportunity to introduce two bills, which were rejected. This is my third attempt. If the House were to adopt Bill C‑282, I would share my pride with all parliamentarians from all parties, and with all those who care about protecting an agricultural model that provides our producers with the predictability required to look to the future with dignity, to grow their businesses in the hope of proudly passing on their passion to the next generation with human-scale farms, while always ensuring that they produce high-quality products ethically. This model ensures that everyone wins, from producers to processors to consumers.

By adopting Bill C‑282, we will ensure that never again will supply management be sacrificed on the altar of free trade.