Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to join the discussion today on the fall economic statement.
What we wanted to see is a plan for the future of all Canadians, but what we received from the Liberals in this fall economic statement is more reckless spending. We laid out two requests before the statement was delivered. One was no new taxes. The second was that if the government brought in more spending, it should find savings in the budget. That was not possible for the reckless Liberal-NDP coalition.
What we see right now is more spending and less money in the pockets of Canadians. We even heard the Governor of the Bank of Canada, Tiff Macklem, say that there is a made-in-Canada inflation problem. That is as a result of the reckless spending by the costly NDP-Liberal coalition.
I will go through a few of the spending items that we see as possibly unnecessary.
For one of them, the finance minister could not even answer a question. When asked about the $14.2-billion spend in the economic statement that is unaccounted for, she could not answer what it was earmarked for. As the finance minister of a G7 country, she should really have a better handle on where the money is going.
To add to the idea that the government right now is not in control of its spending, the Auditor General released a report today, and there are some very concerning things in it. A few of the numbers we saw today gave us a second to pause and wonder where the government is taking Canadians. One has to do with “overpayments to ineligible recipients” regarding COVID–19 spending. There was $4.6 billion in overpayments to ineligible recipients that the taxpayers of this country will never get back.
Let us not stop there. There is another one about “payments that should be investigated further” by the Auditor General. This was just released today, and there is $27.4 billion for further programs that we need to look into. One of my questions here, and I hope one of my Liberal counterparts will ask me about it, is whether the Liberals believe this needs to be investigated as well. Are they curious about where that $24.7 billion is that they said was necessary for COVID spending? I ask because we all remember the solemn hand-on-heart moment when Canadians were told by the Prime Minister that he has their backs.
Do members remember one of the last fall economic statements delivered by the current minister and the government? There was a famous line that will go down as one of my favourite quotes from the Prime Minister. He said the Liberals were going to take on debt so Canadians did not have to. How is that working for the government now?
I think Canadians across the country are wondering when exactly that is going to happen, because they have seen the government take on massive debt, more debt than all other governments combined. What I am seeing and hearing from Canadians across the country is they feel that this debt is now being passed on to them. That is how they feel. Where is this solemn pledge by the Prime Minister that the government is going to take on debt so Canadians do not have to? That is not a thing and Canadians are falling further and further behind.
I have a few examples of some of the discussions I have had.
This past weekend, I had the opportunity to speak with the Association of Canadian Custom Harvesters in Saskatoon. People from all over the country do custom harvesting. By the way, in question period, the associate minister of finance, who is from Alberta, keeps saying that there have been massive crop failures across the country, yet I did not hear that from the people who actually harvest crops. That is another one of the fabricated stories the Liberals continue to tell to make sure they have a compelling narrative to keep shovelling out dollars.
At this conference in Saskatoon, it was great to hear about some of the innovations and new technologies these custom harvesters are using to lower emissions. There were questions they kept coming back to ask me: How much is enough? For the carbon tax, what level will make the government happy? I was dumbfounded. I did not know how to answer that because I do not think it will ever be enough.
One of the custom harvesters actually does work across the border in Montana and the Midwestern states, and then comes back up. I asked him what the difference in his fuel bill is when he is harvesting down south across the border compared to when he is harvesting in Canada. He said it is between $15,000 and $20,000 a week. Could members imagine doing business in a different jurisdiction where it costs an extra $15,000 to $20,000 a week on something they have no control over? They have to fuel their vehicles. They have to fuel their harvesters and trucks. I asked him how it makes sense to keep going back and forth across the border. He said it does not. Then and there it just hit me that this is why we are becoming so uncompetitive. That is why the jobs are going south. It is because the current government is taxing businesses out of existence.
Then I remembered a quote I heard from one of the Liberal backbenchers, the member for Whitby. It all made sense when he stood in his spot and said to Canadians that they will have to go through pain. Can members imagine a government member standing up and saying that it is going to get worse? Can members imagine him saying he is not sure it is ever going to get better, but that Canadians can be sure that, as long as the Liberals are in government, it is going to continue to get worse for them, with more pain and suffering? I say “kudos” to that member because that is probably one of the first honest statements I have heard from a member of the Liberal Party in being honest with Canadians and saying that under the Liberals it will continue to get worse.
We see that situation across the country. One of the biggest things that hits me when I look at some of the statistics here is that 1.5 million Canadians are using a food bank every month in our country when we are supposed to be the breadbasket of the world. We have the food, fuel and fertilizer the world needs and we cannot feed our own people.
I opened the mail the other day when I was at home and my wife brought a letter to me. We are both U of R alumni. It was from the University of Regina. Usually people get these fundraising letters when it is for a capital project or some kind of infrastructure project. My wife said, “You will never believe this is coming from the University of Regina.” I read the fundraising letter and it was literally to feed students. It was an anonymous letter from one of the students saying that they go to bed hungry almost every night. There are 58.6% of university students at the U of R who are going to bed hungry. This is in our country now and it is shameful. From where we were to where we are now as a country, the food bank usages are up. Students are living in hostels and going to bed hungry, and they were looking for a vision from this economic statement. The government cannot spend itself out of inflation.
We are getting to another point where, if there are two more interest rate rises in this country, we are going to see a rash of bankruptcies. What is the Liberals' plan for that? Times are getting tough. I know people on variable mortgages whose mortgages have gone up $600 or $700 a month. Now it has come out that grocery bills are going to go up $1,000 to $1,500 per month. Eventually, there is nothing left.
In our country, under the current Liberal government, taxes now exceed take-home pay for people who are going to work every day. This is unsustainable in our country. We need a vision and we need a plan. We need to start making paycheques pay again. We need to make it so that people who are going to work have the ability to support their families and do not have to put water in their milk so they can make it go further for the kids. Parents are literally now scared to take their kids to the grocery store. I have constituents who have sent pictures to me of what $100 in groceries is buying for their family now, and it is sad. It is a couple of loaves of bread, maybe a jug of milk, some pasta and some pasta sauce. That is not good enough.
I will leave members with a quote. It is something Premier Wall always said when we were in government. He said that the best thing a government can and should do is leave things better than it found them. The current government has failed on that miserably.