Madam Speaker, we are here talking about the Minister of Finance's fall economic update. It is really just an update on how government spending is going in relation to the budget from some months earlier this spring.
The bottom line is that we are going further and further into debt. Inflation is at a 40-year high, and interest rates, inevitably, are going up to combat out-of-control inflation and spending. The Liberals say they had no choice. We were in a crisis, and we had to avoid a financial crisis around the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, we have learned now from the independent Parliamentary Budget Officer that a large amount of that spending was not even COVID-related. This is the Liberal government, with the support of its NDP cousins, saying that it just wants more government spending, and that government should be involved in a bigger piece of the economic pie. It is saying, “Down with free enterprise, and up with big government”.
Our leader, the member for Carleton who just spoke, has been warning for a long time that this type of reckless fiscal policy is going to lead us into trouble. We are seeing that now. There are real-world consequences. We are seeing signs of these pressures on everyday Canadians. Almost half of Canadians are less than $200 away from not being able to pay their bills. Twenty per cent, one out of five, are skipping meals, and 1.5 million Canadians have used food banks within the last month.
I received an email from a constituent. I am sure every member in the House receives these types of emails. Cory wrote to me recently. He said:
Me and my wife have a high cost of living like everyone else. With the cost of living increasing at an insane rate, we're not sure what to do.... We've done the following: driven to the United States to get our child medication...cut down on our spending, including buying less meat. We don't want to go to a food bank, so we are eating cheaper food on a regular basis.... We have both started driving on our extra time with Uber Eats but we find we are making less than minimum wage.
Cory sums up with this, and I could not have said it better myself, “I honestly don't know what to do from here. This is ridiculous and the government has [messed] up our lives.” There are many Canadians who feel that way.
When we are talking about the economic statement, we need to talk about the flip side of the government's happy-go-lucky “spend, spend” attitude. The Bank of Canada's driving up interest rates is the response. That is the consequence, the only tool it has available to react to the government's reckless fiscal policy.
Other than bond holders, no one is happy with high inflation. Let me talk about a young family who reached out to my office just recently. They bought their dream house two years ago. They tied down their mortgage rate for two years. They have just recently received a letter from their bank saying that, unfortunately, interest rates are up, so their mortgage payments are going up $700 a month. That is $8,400 a year. They get nothing extra for that. They do not get a new car. They do not get a trip to Disneyland with their kids. All they get is more money from their hard-earned paycheques going to people who are already wealthy, investors who can afford to lend out mortgage money.
As the member of Parliament for Langley—Aldergrove, I speak to many small and medium-sized businesses in my communities, including a woman who runs a small retail business in the business district of Langley. She told me about what inflation is doing to make running her business much more difficult. She was talking about what interest rates are doing. She is paying more money on her operating line of credit with the bank right now. Profit margins are already very tight, and they are just becoming tighter. She thinks that maybe she is going to have to cut costs by laying off workers. Nobody is happy with that except, of course, the Bank of Canada governor, Tiff Macklem, who is signalling that, in order to tackle inflation, we have to kill jobs.
I heard our leader, the member for Carleton, ask earlier this week if the government's position agrees with the Bank of Canada governor that we need to kill jobs in order to tackle inflation. Is that the government's position? I do not think we have heard an answer to that yet. Maybe we will get some comments on that.
I want to mention a meeting that took place in Vancouver just recently with the ministers of health of the provinces and territories. They met with our federal Minister of Health. It was a disaster, quite frankly. Everybody was pointing fingers at everybody else, saying it is everybody else's fault that this meeting fell apart. The provinces want more money for health care, with no strings attached. They say the federal Minister of Health just is not listening.
On the other hand, the Minister of Health is finally feeling the reality of scarce resources. He says the provinces just do not understand his dilemma. On the one hand, he is having to work with his government's inflationary spending, and that it is never enough for the provinces. On the other hand, he knows that inflationary spending is driving up inflation and driving up interest rates.
We are now in a position where just the interest cost to service the national debt is going to be roughly equivalent to the amount of money the federal government pays to provinces in health transfers. The Bank of Canada's posted interest rate of 3.75%, times $1.3 trillion, if my math is correct, works out to roughly $40 billion. The federal government pays $45 billion in health transfers. These are the pressures we are facing. This is the result of the government's reckless inflationary spending. This is the legacy the current government is going to have to carry with it.
What will the Conservative Party do when we form government? When I listen to my constituents, that day cannot come early enough. As our leader has said on many occasions, instead of creating more cash, we will create more of what cash buys: more homes, more food and more resources here at home. We will remove government gatekeepers, get more homes built and make Canada the quickest place in the world to get building permits.
I was talking to marine operators in the Port of Vancouver, and they were telling me how long it takes to get an approval for any kind of project. One who also operates in the United States told us that within 18 months of applying for the approval, they actually had shovels in the ground. We can compare that to what happens in Vancouver, in Canada, and it is no wonder our productivity is so low. Everything gets bogged down with government gatekeepers.
We will make energy more affordable by approving projects more quickly. We will tackle climate change by making alternative energy cheaper, not by making Canadian energy more expensive.
We will reform tax and benefit systems to ensure that whenever anybody works and puts in some extra hours, it will pay off for them. The message I want to give to Cory in my riding is that a Conservative government will ensure that hard-working Canadians will be able to keep more of their paycheques to feed their families.
We will be voting against the fall economic statement because it did not respond to the demands we put forward, which I believe Canadians think are very reasonable.
First of all, we had asked that there be no new taxes. This includes cancelling all planned tax hikes, including the payroll tax increase that businesses in my community are fearing is going to make business even more difficult. We are asking for no new spending: a dollar for a dollar. If the government wants to spend an extra dollar, it needs to find a dollar somewhere else, pay-as-you-go style. This, I think, is completely reasonable.
Canadians are expecting the government to manage its finances properly. Under the current government, our economy is not being managed well.