Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure, as always, to rise in the House to represent what I feel are the views in my riding of Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry, in eastern Ontario, in response to the government's economic plan. Since it tabled this legislation, which we have been debating over the last couple months, last week's circumstance of the surprise but unsurprising deal between the NDP and the Liberals blew up the fiscal framework, several parts of which are in the bill and are going to be in subsequent budgets over the course of the next couple of years.
This specific piece of legislation has $70 billion in new inflationary spending. One thing I say to constituents very often when we are talking about support for and the funding of various programs is that it is very easy to say that we are going to fund programs A, B, C and D. That is the motherhood and apple pie of our job. The difficult part, which I believe Canadians are paying more attention to, is the financial situation and stability that our country faces.
Every single dollar in this bill, if not every single part of it, is new debt and deficit to our Canadian treasury. Canadians hear the statistic, as confirmed in the bill, that our national debt is now $1.2 trillion and growing, and one of the things we hear about is ideas. Parliament is for proposing ideas, and we are all here to make life better for Canadians. However, like in many of these bills, discussions and debates, putting the paid-for aspects on the Canadian credit card, for lack of a better term, is not talked about by the NDP and Liberal deal.
I have to laugh as I say that. As an aside, we ask if it is a coalition, an agreement, a friendship, a pact or a Kumbaya. Whatever it is, there is a framework and deal when it comes to the fiscal policy of this country over the course of the next few years. I would argue that from a technical perspective, the parties have a right in Parliament to come up with this agreement. I will not deny that. However, I think there is an ethical challenge here in terms of the openness and transparency of it. Millions of people voted for the NDP and did not vote to give the Liberal government, when it comes to committee or other measures, a free pass. Alternatively, there are many people who voted for Liberal candidates across the country who did not agree, on top of already having a deficit, to billions and billions of dollars of additional money.
The Parliamentary Budget Officer, who does great work, has had a couple of great reports that I think show a few things when it comes to the fiscal framework proposed by the government and NDP team. When it comes to the proposed stimulus spending, the PBO said, “It appears to me that the rationale for the additional spending initially set aside as ‘stimulus’ no longer exists.” He also said, “Yes, they can” in response to being asked if government deficits can contribute to inflation.
Given the bigger picture here when we look at the economic situation and this economic bill, there is a clear contrast between us on the opposition side as Conservatives and this proposed bill from the Liberals and the NDP. There are a few things I want to talk about in my comments today that provide the contrast. Other ideas are better solutions for moving this country forward, getting back to normalcy, getting our fiscal house in order and addressing many of the growing challenges and situations I am hearing about in my riding and beyond.
Housing is an example. I have spoken nearly every time I have risen in the House for the past couple of months about the growing crisis, not only in the housing market but in the rental market in the city of Cornwall, the united counties of SDG and parts of Akwesasne as well. That is a microcosm of what is happening nationally.
What is in this legislation is not a ban on foreign buyers, which was promised. We believe they should be banned for two years. That could help cool the market, particularly in larger cities.
One of the other things we talked about, and a new motion coming up is proposing ideas on it, is the government's proposed fiscal policy when it comes to housing and the first-time homebuyer shared equity program. It has been an abject failure, number one because of the participation numbers in it. The idea that the government would help give shared equity to Canadians to buy their homes may be admirable at face value to some, but all that is going to do is further inflate an already expensive housing market.
If we provide an extra $100,000 or $200,000 to help people afford a home, all that will do is to let sellers know, when there are 13 or 14 people bidding on a house in the city of Cornwall, that they have an extra $100,000 or $200,000 more in leverage to inflate the market. This is more government debt and more government printing. It is not actually lowering prices and making home ownership more affordable. It is increasing debt and increasing prices and not addressing the fundamental aspect.
I have to call out another slap to Canadians, which is the bonuses that were given at the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation, which were released a few weeks ago. CMHC is an organization that has a literal mandate to make sure Canadians have housing affordability. I do not need to summarize where we are with that in this country. Housing prices, nationally, have doubled. In our riding, housing prices are over $400,000. That has doubled in the past five years of this housing crisis.
The very benchmark of the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation is to make housing affordable. The absolute opposite has happened. For more people, the dream of home ownership and affordability is out the window, but CMHC, the Liberal minister responsible for housing and the Liberal government gave $40 million in bonuses to employees at the organization. That is a slap in the face to the 30-year-old who is living in their parent's basement because they cannot afford their dream of home ownership and who cannot afford rent because we do not have supply. I do not know what shows more of the contrast in what we are doing.
The cost of living and inflation is at a 30-year high, the highest in nearly my entire lifetime of 34 years. At the rate we are going, when we get there, we will set another record in the coming months.
When we talk about contrast, I say each time that our job as opposition is to hold the government to account on what they have proposed but also to put our money where our mouth is. If we were on the other side of the aisle, since this is Parliament and we can propose ideas, what would we do?
I have to say, I have been very proud of my Conservative colleagues over the course of the last couple of weeks. They have highlighted a few issues that, I believe, provide a direct contrast with the plans proposed by the Liberals and the NDP.
First of all, we need to get opened back up. We need to end federal mandates, vaccine mandates and travel requirements. We have heard from employers, and we have heard from the travel and tourism industry, that they are very nervous about the year ahead. Based on where the science is at, not where it was two years ago, but here today at the end of March 2022, we can lift those mandates and get our country opened up. We can be back for business. We can be welcoming international visitors safely and smartly and get our economic engine firing at 100% again.
We lost that battle. We proposed that idea and, again, the Liberal and NDP coalition, friendship, team, pack or whatever we call them, did not agree with that.
Last week in our opposition day motion, which was one of the days last week, when we had the debate and then the vote right afterwards, was something we tried to put on record and did get on record. Unfortunately we were unsuccessful, again because of the other parties, but we talked about the high price of gas and many other goods in the country.
There are two things here. Number one is that we asked for a break on GST on fuel. I came into Ottawa last night from the riding. I stopped in Monkland to fill up with gas. It was over $1.70 a litre. I know there are a lot of people in Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry who have to drive to work. There is not a subway or LRT option in Monkland or Iroquois or Crysler. I do not think there is one coming anytime soon. Driving a car to get to work or to go to hockey practice is essential when living in a rural area.
We called for a gas tax break. It was voted down. It would not solve the affordability problem, but it could have given some tax relief at a time when Canadians truly need it.
The other problem we have to confront, which the government is not doing through their economic policies, is that the carbon tax is set to increase again later this week. We are saying that, if we are not going to give a break to Canadians at the pumps when prices are high, at least do not increase taxes on everybody on April 1. That was declined.
In a democracy, there are going to be contrasts. Our contrast is quite clear. We understand the cost of living. We understand the need for relief for Canadians. When it comes to housing, we have a fundamentally different approach.
For those reasons, again, I do not support the economic and fiscal update tabled by the government. I have a feeling that with the new deal between the Liberals and the NDP, I do not see ourselves doing so in the coming years either. We will see, here on the floor of the House of Commons, further constructive ideas from Conservatives.