House of Commons Hansard #56 of the 44th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was inflation.


The House resumed from April 7 consideration of the motion that this House approve in general the budgetary policy of the government.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

10 a.m.


Ed Fast Conservative Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am thankful for the opportunity to continue debate.

Yesterday when I started my debate, I quoted the words of King Solomon out of the Proverbs: “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” That admonition is actually etched on Canada's Peace Tower, and there is a reason it is etched there. It is a reminder to governments and a reminder to leaders, including the Prime Minister, that those of us in this august chamber are called upon not only to lead by example, but to lead with vision and have a long-term view of the best interests of our country.

I mentioned yesterday that I believe this budget reflected an unserious Prime Minister, an an unserious Minister of Finance and, quite frankly, an unserious government. I know that a few of my Liberal colleagues did not like my reference to “unserious”, but the reality is that it is a fair characterization of what has happened in this budget. Quite frankly, a serious Prime Minister would not say that budgets balance themselves. A serious Prime Minister would not say that he does not think about monetary policy, which is so critical today as we discuss inflation. A serious Prime Minister would not take a budget, cut the number of pages down by half, from 700 last year down to 300 this year, and then not cut anything else.

Why is it that the government somehow has made the assumption that bigger and bigger government is better? It is not. We as Conservatives believe that as much as possible, government should remain small. It should be as least intrusive in the lives of Canadians as possible. By the way, so should the tax burden, and I will get to that in a second.

I want to touch on four main things. I want to first talk about whether this is a growth budget. I want to talk about inflation and the cost of living, which of course is the biggest thing facing Canadians right now. I want to talk about spending, and this is a big-spending budget. It has not only big spending, but big permanent spending, which is going to saddle future generations of Canadians with a massive debt challenge. Then I want to talk about taxes and tax increases. The Liberal government always talks about having Canadians' backs and having taxpayers' backs. The problem is that it is all rhetoric. It is actually empty, vacuous rhetoric, because with every budget that it tables, the tax burden on Canadians increases and increases. I will get to that in a moment.

Let me start by talking about growth. One of the biggest challenges facing Canada today is that we have an economy that is not positioned for long-term success. Economist after economist and thought leader after thought leader has said that Canada's competitiveness is leaving us way behind in the global marketplace, and I will talk in a moment about what that means. The problem is that the government loves to put out documents like this budget, and smack dab in the title of that budget is the word “growth”. The Liberals want Canadians to believe that they have now heavily invested in driving growth in Canada, but the reality is that they have not.

Why is fundamental growth so important? Why are the structural deficiencies in our economy so pernicious when it comes to our long-term prosperity as a country? It is because we are undermining our ability to compete on the global stage. That is the problem.

If we can learn to produce more per person and more units per person, we drive prosperity. What we do is mitigate the inflationary pressures we face today in our economy. A lot of my Liberal friends do not understand that, but if we become more productive as an economy, as a nation, we reduce the likelihood of runaway inflation. We reduce the likelihood that the Bank of Canada, our central bank, has to step in and start increasing interest rates the way it is doing now.

This is a budget that will only fuel inflation because it is all about spend, spend, spend. There is virtually nothing about growth. When we talk about the few elements in this budget that touch on growth, they are actually about giving subsidies to the private sector. I do not know why the NDP is not screaming bloody murder. They hate subsidies to the private sector, yet there is a $15-billion fund in this budget that effectively amounts to using taxpayers' dollars to incent private companies to invest in themselves and invest in clean technology.

There is nothing in this budget that addresses the issue of interprovincial trade barriers, which is one of the most significant underminers of economic performance in our country. In many ways, we have freer trade with our free trade partners around the world than we have with our 10 provinces and three territories. It is really a sad comment on our country that our federal relationship cannot overcome barriers that prevent us from freely trading among ourselves.

There is nothing in this budget to address comprehensive tax reform. We as Conservatives have been calling for comprehensive tax reform. Even the finance committee, in one of its earlier reports and studies, called specifically for comprehensive tax reform. Why? We want to make sure that our tax system is fair, that those who really cannot afford to pay taxes do not, that those who should not be paying a high tax rate do not and that those who should be paying their fair share of taxes do.

There are four areas of tax performance, which I will get to in a moment, but if we can get tax reform right, we can be assured that Canada will again become a place where the world wants to invest. Members will not believe this, but right now Canada's investment performance as a country is the very worst out of the 30 OECD countries. Many of them are in the EU. They of course include Japan, the United States and Canada. We are at the bottom of the list of those 30 countries when it comes to being able to attract investment from around the world, foreign direct investment, as it is called, or FDI. That is a terrible performance. The government has had seven years to fix that problem and it has done nothing about it other than throw a bit of money at it.

There is also nothing in this budget about rural broadband. One of the best things we can do as a country is invest in the infrastructure that will bring rural broadband to every single Canadian, especially rural Canadians, many of whom still do not have broadband. When we give Canadians access to broadband, we link them to the rest of the world. We link them to the rest of their country. We link them to the rest of their community. When we do that, we improve productivity and our ability to compete and produce in this country. Whether it is products or services, we can do things more efficiently if we have comprehensive broadband infrastructure across our country. There is virtually nothing in this budget on that, except to signal that the Liberals did a bit in the last couple of years, so that should be good enough. When we are talking about competitiveness within the global stage, that is not enough.

There is nothing in this budget about trade-related or climate-related resiliency. In fact, I noted yesterday that there is one glaring hole in this budget. There are a number of us on this side of the House, some of whom are in the House right now listening to me speak, whose communities were devastated by the atmospheric river event that took place in B.C. last year in November, with the massive amount of rain that fell and the flooding that ensued.

In my community of Abbotsford, the whole Sumas Prairie was flooded, a prairie that is full of chicken farmers, egg farmers, dairy farmers, blueberry growers, vegetable growers and greenhouses. It goes on and on. In fact, Abbotsford is the agriculture capital of British Columbia. It is the breadbasket of the province, and for much of the country, by the way. It is the number one farm gate producer in the country per hectare, so everyone can understand, when one of our big prairies is under water by four, five or six feet, the devastation that was wreaked.

We sent a letter to the minister, co-signed by a number of my MP colleagues on the Conservative side, and begged her to please take this seriously. This was a once-in-100-year event that is probably going to become a much more regular event because of climate change-related weather patterns. This is going to happen again. It could happen this coming year or it could happen three years from now, but it is going to happen again.

Did the minister listen to us? Did she reach out to us and ask what it was all about, what specifically we would like her to do and what projects we think she should fund? She did not even reach out. Surely, we as a country can do better when one of the most significant climate-related events does not even get a mention in this budget, is not worthy of a mention, to protect human life, to protect livestock and to protect livelihoods. Clearly the minister does not care.

I have mentioned all of the different areas of this budget that could have addressed growth but did not. We want a deeply rooted economic recovery, not the shallow recovery we are experiencing right now, nor an inflation-driven recovery where Canadians actually get further and further behind. If we are going to have a true, thoroughly rooted recovery within an economically competitive economy, that needs to be driven by the private sector, by small and medium-sized businesses and, yes, by the many large businesses across Canada. This should not be bigger and bigger government trying to steer the economy in the right direction and always getting it wrong.

Next I would like to talk about inflation and the cost of living. Members may recall that in the last budget, from one year ago, the minister stood up in the House and said that in addition to all of the other massive spending she was undertaking in the budget, which, by the way, was the biggest spending budget in Canadian history, much of which has gone to waste, she was also setting aside over 100 billion dollars' worth of investment that she was going to call stimulus. She wanted to plug that stimulus into the economy, inject it into the economy, because the economy was not doing that well. She was priming the pump, so to speak, and we could see where this was going.

Then the Minister of Finance cautioned us. She said she was going to take care not to pump too much stimulus into the economy. We all know, in the House, that if we pump too much stimulus, too much cash, into the economy, it is more cash chasing the same number of goods and services. That creates inflation. She said that she was going to take care of that and make sure that consumers and Canadians were protected. She said she was going to put in place labour-based guardrails, and a number of other guardrails, that would give her an idea of whether this stimulus was actually required so she would not make the mistake of pumping too much in and driving inflation. At that time, a year ago, inflation was not at the level it is today.

Now, we fast-forward to today. Yesterday, I was in the budget lock-up, where we got to ask questions of the government officials. We wanted to know what happened to the stimulus. We wanted to know how much of the stimulus was actually spent, whether the guardrails were applied and how much of that stimulus was left unspent.

There was no answer. Officials stumbled, fumbled and said they could not really identify how much of that stimulus was spent, because it had been allocated to different departments and they were responsible for reporting on their own spending. They said they could not really tell us that.

What did they say about the guardrails? What did they say about these protective measures that would ensure not too much cash was pumped into our economy to stimulate inflation? They said they did not know. There was no answer.

Today, I think we know what the answer is. Every single penny of that hundred-plus billion dollars was pumped straight into the economy, and guess what we have today? We have the worst inflation in over 30 years, which was driven by the actions of the Liberal government.

I will be the first to acknowledge that not all inflation is driven just by what we do in Canada. Yes, there are supply chain constraints around the world. Yes, there are spikes in commodity prices around the world that drive up the cost of living. That is consumer price inflation. However, there is something else called “asset price inflation” that covers things like houses, and that is a Canada-made inflation problem.

That inflation, of course, has left millions of Canadians behind. It has left behind Canadians who want to get into the housing market and Canadians who can no longer afford to buy groceries for their kids. They are cutting back. It has left behind Canadians who cannot buy household goods.

We are now in an affordability crisis in this country, and the government has to bear some of that blame. This budget simply makes it worse. It exacerbates the inflationary pressures we have in our country. This is a big-spending budget. What it does is spend, spend, spend. There is more cash being pumped into the economy, which is driving inflation.

Canadians should not, in any way, expect inflation to go down in the medium term, or even in the short term. In fact, the Bank of Canada governor was before the Standing Committee on Finance not too long ago. He said we should expect that things are going to get worse before they get better. Is that on the Liberal government? Of course it is. The Liberals are the ones responsible for government spending, and this budget represents a massive government expenditure.

I got into the spending part of it. There is $56 billion in new spending in this budget. That is massive. What is worse is that most of this $56 billion of new spending is new, permanent spending.

I want to remind members of something. Back in January 2021, just over a year ago, the finance minister received a mandate letter from the Prime Minister. For those who do not know what a mandate letter is, it is simply a long set of instructions the Prime Minister gives either to new ministers or other ministers whose directions he wants to refresh.

He gave her this mandate letter and right there, in the middle of that letter, it said, “Minister, you will not embark on any new permanent spending.”

Period, full stop: There would be “no new permanent spending.”

That was her instruction just over a year ago, in the middle of the COVID pandemic, when the Liberals were spending wildly, and perhaps there were some justifiable reasons for spending a little bit more than we normally would in the budget.

Here we are, in March. Just four months ago, at the end of 2021, for some reason the Prime Minister decided to give the finance minister a new mandate letter. This was some 11 months after the first. We looked at it. We looked at it carefully. I am looking for it, and there is no reference to new permanent spending. The Liberals had purged the document of that directive.

Anyone who thinks that the Liberal government is committed to living within its means can forget it, as my colleague just said. This is not a serious government, as I said earlier, and we cannot take seriously any of the commitments that it makes, because tomorrow the Liberals will change their minds and say, “Too bad. Tough luck. Be happy.”

There is a ton of spending in this budget. Of course, there is the NPD spending on dental care. We see that there is more spending on the failed Canada Infrastructure Bank. In fact, the Liberals have expanded the mandate of the failed Canada Infrastructure Bank, which is finding itself incapable of getting money out of the door and actually making the investments in infrastructure that are required in our country. There is more spending and more wasteful spending, and who pays for it? Taxpayers and consumers do, because the spending drives inflation, which leaves Canadians behind. The taxpayers also have to pay the bill for this spending.

Of course, I have not even mentioned the fact that this is actually an NDP-Liberal government. This is an unholy alliance, and guess who the tail is that is wagging the dog? It is the NDP. The NDP is telling the Liberal government how many taxpayers' dollars it should be spending, and it goes on and on. Many of the asks that the NDP had, when it shacked up with the Liberals in their common-law relationship, have not been reflected in the budget. They are coming in the next and the following budget. They are coming. I can tell members that.

There are also promises that this government made in the last election that did not show up in the budget.

There is more spending to come. With regard to the suggestion from the finance minister that, somehow, she was going to rein in spending and discipline spending, and this was all in safe hands, the Liberals' record says otherwise.

In fact, did we know that, since the Liberals came into power, they have increased government spending by 53% in just over six years? Much of that is permanent spending, so future generations of Canadians are stuck with this, and this is spending that is generating inflation in our economy.

Did members know that, even since the pandemic crisis in 2019, government spending has gone up 25%? The minister stands in the House and claims that she is disciplining government spending and that she is reining it in. “Trust me,” is what she said.

I also talked about taxes. This budget is full of tax increases, and the Liberals have made them very discreetly. We have to explore the different corners of this budget to find these tax increases.

Of course, there are increases on alcohol taxes because there is an escalator built into the excise taxes on alcohol. What this government did, back in 2017, was something really clever. The Liberals said they did not want to keep going back to the representatives of the people to ask them for permission to spend taxpayers' money. What they were going to do was build into their structure an escalator that automatically kicked in and increased taxes on Canadians every single year. They did that with the excise tax.

Let me talk about GST. We have inflation in Canada, so the GST revenues to the government have skyrocketed because of the oil and gas revenues that have come in. The price of gasoline at the pump has gone way up, which has left Canadians behind. They are unable to fill up their gas tanks, unable to get their kids to school, unable to get to work and unable to drive their kids to hockey practice or music lessons.

On top of the high price of gasoline, the government layers the GST. The more that inflation sets in, the more GST revenue the government collects, which is why it had these windfall revenues this past year. The windfall revenues were not from good management on its part. It was not an underlying, strong economic performance.

This was about the government benefiting from inflation, and the Prime Minister benefiting from inflation through higher GST revenues and through higher excise tax revenues, but leaving Canadians behind because they have to pay the price for that. That is completely unacceptable. We, as Canadians, are better than that.

There is something in this budget about housing. The minister made a big thing about housing. I asked her a question yesterday after she gave her budget speech. I mentioned that housing was the number one concern facing Canadian families, especially those who are not in homes. They cannot get into homes anymore because inflation and housing affordability have left them behind.

In fact, in Canada, the price of housing has more than doubled since the Liberal government came into power. We did not see that kind of housing inflation under Stephen Harper, did we? There were steady increases, but they were controlled. Prices were stable. Today, prices are no longer stable and families have been left behind.

When I asked the finance minister a question yesterday, she could not respond. All she said was that I was right, and that housing was the number one problem in this country right now, especially for Canadian families. She made a statement and made the suggestion that she was going to double the number of houses she was going to build in Canada over the next 10 years. Do members remember that? She stood up and said, “I promise the House, and I promise Canadians, that over the next 10 years, I am going to double the number of homes”. She used the word “we”. I am assuming it was the royal “we”, and she was referring to the government.

I said to the minister, if she was going to double the number of houses, she must know how many houses she and her government had built over the past seven years since the Liberals were elected. She must know that figure because without knowing that figure, it would irresponsible to make the statement that the Liberals were going to double the number of homes they would build. I said I just needed a number on how many homes they had built in the seven years they had been in government.

The minister hummed and hawed, and spent about two and a half minutes pontificating and arguing around the question. She never answered the question, even though some of my colleagues were calling out, “What is the number? How many homes did you build in the last seven years?” She could not give an answer, yet she made the statement that she was going to double the number of houses over the next 10 years. It is a number that she does not even know. That is the kind of economic, financial and fiscal leadership we have with the NDP-Liberal government.

There is one way we can address the skyrocketing cost of housing in this country. In fact, there is a way we can address the issue of skyrocketing inflation, broadly speaking, whether it is on gas, household goods or anything else we buy, and on the services we buy in our communities. They have all gone up because of inflation. There is a way of controlling inflation, especially in the housing market. Do members know what that is? It is to control government spending. Thanks for asking. We need to control government spending.

Instead, the current government has done the very opposite. It is fanning the flames of inflation. In fact, it has poured gasoline on the flames of inflation and things are only going to get worse in the Canadian short term.

Before I finish, and I do have a motion to bring, I want to mention that, like any budget that is full of bad policies and massive Liberal spending, there are always a few things that we can support. For example, the announcement of enhanced defence spending is something we would support, but the reality is that the current government has allowed defence spending to lag behind. Now it is catching up, but we see this as simply a $6-billion down payment to strengthen our ability to defend ourselves as a country and to engage in the global community of nations when it is required.

We can support a $3.8-billion critical minerals strategy as well, because critical minerals are critically important to the electric vehicle industry, which we are trying to get a foothold in. I would love to see Canada become a leader in that.

There is a ban on foreign homebuyers for two years. I think we can support that.

Of course, for small businesses there is a small improvement when it comes to the small business tax rate. Small businesses across the country will be pleased that at least the government has finally, after years of pleading, agreed to adjust the phase-out schedule for the small business tax rate.

This is a budget that is profoundly lacking in vision. I mentioned that at the beginning of my speech. Canadians can do better. We have so much wealth in our country with the natural resources, the human capital and the education we have. We can do so much better than having to always borrow tens of billions and hundreds of billions of dollars every time a government tables a budget. We should not have to be doing this. As we do this, in the process we kick more money into the economy and drive up inflation, leaving millions of Canadians behind. We can do better.

I move, seconded by the member for Simcoe North:

That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word “That” and substituting the following:

“the House not approve the budgetary policy of the government since it fails to:

a. rein in spending in order to control inflation;

b. provide Canadians with tax relief; and

c. take immediate action to increase housing supply.”

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.


The Deputy Speaker Conservative Chris d'Entremont

The amendment is in order.

Questions and comments, the hon. parliamentary secretary to the government House leader.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba


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

Mr. Speaker, that was an interesting speech. I will say that much. I would also add that it was a little devoid of reality at times.

The bottom line is this. The member makes reference to it being serious, and it is a serious budget. It is a budget that reflects the interests of Canadians and truly cares about Canadians. We continue to support Canadians. Here are some basic facts. In 2019, our unemployment rate was at 5.4%. That was at a 50-year low. Today, the unemployment rate is at 5.5%. Canada is doing exceptionally well coming out of the pandemic from an unemployment perspective.

The member spent so much time on inflation. What he does not tell us is that, with respect to world inflation, Canada is at 5.7%, the U.S. is at 7.5% and the average of the G20 countries is 6.1%. Again, Canada is doing exceptionally well. This is a budget for Canadians. It is a budget that is going to make a difference. It is a budget that is going to continue to show that this is a government that cares and has a vision going into the future.

I wonder if my colleague can provide his thoughts as to why he believes Canada continues to make historic gains with respect to unemployment levels, especially following a pandemic.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.


Ed Fast Conservative Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, that member never has to ask me to answer a question. I would be glad to answer the question.

He obviously did not read the budget, because he just said this budget was in “the interests of Canadians”. That is a direct quote from him. Here is what else he just said, and he repeated it: “Canada is doing exceptionally well”. He should tell that to the millions of Canadians who have been left behind by the cost of living crisis. He should tell that to the millions of Canadian families who cannot get into homes because the price of housing has left them behind. He should tell that to the millions of Canadians who cannot buy groceries for their families anymore.

Is he kidding that Canada is doing exceptionally well? Canada is doing exceptionally poorly, and it will take a Conservative government to correct that course and to do much better.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.


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

Mr. Speaker, health care does not seem to be on the Conservatives' radar until they get on the campaign trail. I did not hear the word “health” once in my colleague's speech. That said, I did hear some interesting things, I must admit.

Health does not appear anywhere in the budget, as it stands. There is nothing about health transfers for the next five years. However, that was a unanimous request from the Premier of Quebec, the Government of Quebec, all the other provincial premiers and 85% of the population. In Canada, only one in 10 people feel the federal government is doing enough when it comes to health transfers.

Despite that, the Conservative party is mum on the issue. It is not as though health transfers will be used to buy random knick-knacks and put them on the walls of hospitals or to plant exotic flowers in hospital gardens. They will be used to provide better health care for patients and ensure the sustainability of the health care system, which has been particularly hard hit by the pandemic and by federal disinvestment in recent years.

What does my colleague think about the complete lack of action on health transfers over the next five years?

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.


Ed Fast Conservative Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, there is a reason why I did not mention health care. I knew the Bloc was going to talk about it, so why waste my limited time here? I knew he was going to ask that question, and I thank him for that question because health care is of critical importance to Canadians. The member is right. This budget has nothing in it that would enhance the health care transfers to the provinces. However, the question I am going to put to the government when I get the chance is this. It did come up with a dental care plan, and dental care is health care.

Did the government actually reach out to the provinces and ask if this was their number one priority? Is the billions they are now going to spend on dental care the provincial priority, or do the provinces have other priorities? My guess is that the answer will be that the government did not reach out because it knew better. Father or mother or whatever knows best. Big government knows best. Ottawa knows best.

That is the failing, again, in this budget. There is very little indication that there were comprehensive consultations with the key stakeholders that would have made this budget much better.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.


Bonita Zarrillo NDP Port Moody—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to start by thanking all the care workers who continue to keep people and the economy healthy. I want to thank the folks in Port Moody—Coquitlam at Eagle Ridge Hospital for their care for all of us.

Yesterday the government did not acknowledge care workers. There was no gratitude for long-term care workers, health care workers, teachers, janitors, personal support workers and all the unpaid workers who volunteered and home-schooled during this pandemic.

Life is about caring for each other, so my question to the Conservative member is this. Which programs in the budget that people would benefit from would the Conservatives cut? Is it dental care for children, quality child care for families or the $8 billion increase in military spending?

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.


Ed Fast Conservative Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, that is a fair question. What would we cut? That is a question that should be asked. I will start. For one thing, we would cut the failed Canada Infrastructure Bank. With $35 billion, this is an institution that has not delivered the infrastructure that it was supposed to deliver.

However, I do want to do a shout-out to all of those workers the member referred to. Yes, many of these people, the teachers and the health care workers who have been on the front lines, are the heroes within our economy. They went to work knowing full well the risks involved and they served us so well. The member mentioned the long-term care workers. That is a problem. Long-term care for seniors in this country is a real vulnerability. In a couple of years, 25% of Canadians will be seniors and over the age of 65. Imagine. Who is going to be taking care of them? Will they age at home? Will they be in institutions? Who is going to be caring for them is something we have to get our minds around. I do thank the member for asking that question.

In terms of cutting, I will say one last thing. It is very clear that the budget does not reflect a triaging of issues, in other words, a prioritization of the issues that matter most to Canadians. Had the government gone through a proper prioritization process and actually implemented and spent on the things that Canadians really need and care about, this budget would have looked quite different and would actually be much more responsible. Canadians want government to live within its means because Canadians live within their means. They have balanced budgets. Without balanced budgets, they go broke. They know that, unfortunately the government does not.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.


Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Abbotsford, not only for his public service but also for his giving a shout-out to all those communities still recovering from the floods of last year on which we have seen no action from the government.

The finance committee heard from Statistics Canada that it has not recorded this level of inflation in 30 years, and in fact the main drivers were gas, groceries and housing. This budget is pushing more and more inflation. The purchasing power of everyday Canadians is being lessened every time they go to the grocery store or fill up their tanks.

Could the member talk a little more about inflation and about how the government, this spend-DP-Liberal budget, is going to make it worse?

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.


Ed Fast Conservative Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, my colleague refers to the government now as a spend-DP-Liberal government and he is correct. It is a spendthrift government, and he did mention inflation and the elements of inflation.

The one thing I did not mention in my speech, and this gives me a chance to do that, is the role that taxation plays in inflation. I talked a lot about the spending, spending, spending that is driving the vicious inflationary cycle we are in right now, but that is contributed to by the fact that the government continues to raise taxes. The more taxes Canadians pay, such as GST, carbon taxes and excise taxes, the more that drives inflation because it drives up the cost of everything that Canadians buy.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.


Gabriel Ste-Marie Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, we are facing multiple crises, both current and looming, so we expected this budget to put forward concrete solutions to address the risks associated with these crises.

First is the public health crisis. After living with the pandemic for over two years, we are now entering yet another wave.

Next is the inflation crisis. For months now, inflation has been higher than expected. That seems unlikely to change for quite some time and will probably even go up. People are very worried.

Of course, there is the war in Ukraine, which is directly victimizing the Ukrainian people, who are being subjected to bombings and unspeakable atrocities. This conflict is impacting the whole planet, and we are feeling the repercussions here too.

Finally, there is the environmental crisis, which is causing all the climate catastrophes we have been witnessing.

As the crises multiply, so do the risks. These are uncertain times, and the budget was the best opportunity to protect us from all those risks. This budget, however, despite listing virtually all the problems in detail, addresses virtually none of them. What irony.

What we see in this budget, as we did in the previous budgets and in everything the government does, is a federal government that is more centralizing than ever. The government is once again using the budget as an opportunity to further centralize the federation's power. This is a real pattern. The bulldozer is moving forward slowly but very surely.

Here is one example. The government wants to tackle the housing issue, but it is making threats. It is telling the municipalities that it will cut infrastructure funding if they do not build enough housing. The federal government is once again infringing on other jurisdictions. It is once again centralizing. Once again, paternalistic Ottawa wants to be the be-all and end-all. They want to make all the decisions and tell everyone what to do. That is unacceptable. It is unacceptable for Quebec.

The irony is that, although the House recognizes my nation with its words, the government is trying to force the Quebec nation into the Canadian mould it has created. We can no longer live in our own way. This budget is a reminder of that. It is becoming increasingly difficult to do things our own way.

The best example of that is clearly health care funding. Ottawa has failed to include in the budget any commitments to review its funding for the next five years. We are in the midst of a health crisis. Our system is under maximum pressure. Health care workers are at the end of their rope, and we have had it. Rather than funding the health care system within its means, know-it-all Ottawa is telling us that we are not doing enough, even though it is not providing adequate funding.

While Quebec and the provinces are asking for increased funding with no strings attached, the feds are telling us that they only want to talk about the strings, not the funding. For instance, on page 155, the English version of the budget document reads, “Any conversation between the federal government and the provinces and territories will focus on delivering better health care outcomes for Canadians”.

This means more standards, without funding, even though the Parliamentary Budget Officer points out each and every year that transfers need to be set at 35% to restore the fiscal balance between Ottawa and the provinces. The Conference Board and the Council of the Federation both agree. This is what Quebec wants, what the provinces want and what the Bloc wants, but know-it-all Ottawa says no. Ottawa says we will get nothing except strings.

Transfers are currently set at 22%, and the Minister of Finance justified her inaction by citing a tax point transfer from the 1960s. She has dismissed decades of cuts and ignored all the serious studies on the subject. This is called being arrogant, in a big way.

Now let us talk about seniors. The cost of everything is going up. The cost of food is going to skyrocket because of the war in Ukraine. Seniors are always the first to suffer as a result of inflation. Seniors often live on fixed incomes that are not indexed to inflation. The budget should have done more to help them out, but the feds decided not to do that.

The Minister of Finance then adds insult to injury. In her budget she presents a graph showing that seniors are much wealthier than the rest of the population and that the feds have already done enough.

Groups representing seniors feel betrayed: We now have two classes of seniors and the government is not responding to the needs. The minister presented her little graph saying that seniors have nothing to complain about, they already have plenty of money. That is what we see.

As for inflation, with all the crises that are unfolding, high inflation is especially worrisome. The government should be lending a helping hand to seniors and the least fortunate, but it is doing little to nothing to help.

It should be lending a hand to SMEs, which are the hardest hit by high inflation, including family farms, taxi drivers and bus drivers. There is nothing for them. The feds describe the problem of inflation in the budget, but do not offer any help.

I want to give you a real example showing that Ottawa identifies the problems but does nothing about them. In the budget, there is one paragraph on the problem of the semiconductor shortage. There are specialized businesses in Quebec that we can be proud of and that have existed for several generations. These businesses repurpose trucks into ambulances and armoured trucks, for example, or add custom cargo boxes. That is a Quebec specialty.

As a result of the semiconductor shortage, major truck manufacturers are not getting product out and our specialized businesses are having trouble procuring trucks. We have been telling the minister about this for months.

In December, we even supported Bill C‑2 because she told us that the shortage would be resolved imminently, and she would even send us the figures to prove it. We believed her and we acted in good faith. Nothing was done and we never saw the figures. It was completely false. The problem has only worsened since then.

Businesses now run the risk of going bankrupt. We might lose for good specialized industries that have been operating for generations. The government's role is to support businesses and get them through the crisis.

Businesses joined forces and reached out to the government. They asked to meet with the minister. The Bloc has been waiting for a meeting about this for months, but we have not heard a peep.

The minister mentioned the problem with the semiconductors, but did not offer any solutions. She is not doing anything to save this sector, which is so important to Quebec's economy. All she said was that the government will look into photonics to see whether Canada could manufacture its own semiconductors. There was no indication of when, however.

That is actually not the problem. The government needs to help the companies that are going to shut down, because Ford and GM are manufacturing very few trucks as a result of the semiconductor shortage. These companies just need a little help until the American giants resume production. Has Ottawa abandoned these specialized industries because they are in Quebec? If they were in Ontario would the feds have stepped in? That worries me.

There has been one crisis after another, but the most important one right now is the environmental crisis. The climate is undergoing disruptive changes and we must now take drastic measures if we want to avoid disaster.

Even as the IPCC is saying that we need to drop any new oil projects if we are to stand a chance of avoiding disaster, know-it-all Ottawa goes and does the opposite. It sends its Minister of Environment and Climate Change to announce a one-billion barrel project. This minister is the same person who founded Équiterre with Laure Waridel and climbed the CN Tower for the environment when he was at Greenpeace.

With one gesture, one decision, he has dealt a terrible blow to the planet. Very few humans will have done this much damage to the climate. With this gesture, he undid all of his past work and turned his back on his values and commitments. He threw all that away to serve the federal government, which is a petro-state and an environmental embarrassment.

Elsewhere in the world, environment ministers have resigned for far less than that. From now on, this is how this minister is going to be remembered. I would like to remind the House that Marshall Pétain is not exactly remembered for winning the battle of Verdun.

The Minister of Environment and Climate Change, or the pollution minister, chose to make his announcement the day before the budget, just before the House rises for two weeks. That was intentional.

I thought that the government would include some extraordinary environmental measures in the budget to try to compensate for this terrible compromise, but it did not. Instead, the budget mainly contains measures that are vague and weak, such as a future public-private fund like the Canada Infrastructure Bank, which is a flop.

All the concrete measures in the budget support the fossil fuel industry. The budget allocates billions of dollars for carbon capture projects for the oil sands, a technology that is underdeveloped and that will cost a fortune, if it is ever actually implemented. According to the International Energy Agency, if the private sector were to cover the cost of such projects, it would quadruple the price at the pump.

Furthermore, the feds have announced that they will support the development of small mobile nuclear reactors to allow the industry to extract more oil and sell the gas they save. This is the government's plan for the environment, despite all the risks and health concerns.

To wit, on Wednesday, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change announced a project that will extract a billion barrels and, the next day, the Minister of Finance announced more support for the oil and gas sector. That is Ottawa's plan for the environment.

Illustrating just how far Ottawa is going in the opposite direction of the IPCC report, journalist Philippe Mercure, from La Presse wrote the following:

This report contains lengthy passages about the risks of “lock-ins”, meaning building new infrastructure that will pollute for decades and undermine our efforts.

One would have thought that UN Secretary-General António Guterres was speaking directly to the Minister of the Environment when he presented the document on Monday.

“Climate activists are sometimes depicted as dangerous radicals. But the truly dangerous radicals are the countries that are increasing the production of fossil fuels. Investing in new fossil fuels infrastructure is moral and economic madness,” he said.

Now more than ever, being part of Canada means choosing to be an environmental imbecile in the world's eyes.

The Bloc Québécois had five demands, five unconditional expectations, and called for a suite of more targeted measures. The first four of our five unconditional expectations are not in the budget: health, seniors, green finance and an acceptable transition, and concrete measures to address inflation.

At least the budget addresses first nations housing. That was one of our five demands. It is in the budget, so now all we have to do is hope that, for once, that earmarked money will actually flow and improve the lives of indigenous people. What we have seen to date is that the Liberals vote to put up cash but do not spend it. That causes all kinds of problems, such as lack of access to drinking water, that never go away.

The budget contains housing measures, but the Bloc Québécois obviously does not think there is enough money in the budget for social housing. Housing is a major problem, and the solution is increasing supply. The budget talks about 6,000 affordable housing units, which apparently means a two-bedroom apartment for $1,200 a month. That does not fit with the Bloc Québécois's definition of social housing. The money is there, but much more needs to be done.

As I said at the start of my speech, we are grappling with numerous crises. The government is aware of them and names them in the budget, but does not actually do anything about most of them. Any solutions it does put forward are poorly conceived. That is a problem.

In addition, what we are seeing is an increasingly centralist state that interferes and wants to impose its own model and make everything fit a certain mould. The feds are taking a father-knows-best approach and telling the provinces and Quebec, “All right kids, here is what you need to do and how you need to be.” That is unacceptable.

Events in MiltonStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Adam van Koeverden Liberal Milton, ON

Mr. Speaker, now that we have presented budget 2022, our plan to grow the economy and make life more affordable, it is time to get back to our communities, and I cannot wait to get back to Milton later today.

It is April, and there is so much going on. It is the start of the holy month of Ramadan. It is Sikh Heritage Month and Vaisakhi. It is Passover, Puthandu, and later this month, Easter weekend. There are spring community festivals and local town cleanups, like the one that I am hosting with Sustainable Milton on Saturday, April 16. It might be a little rainy, but I cannot wait for the tulips to come up in my garden. Of course, April is also Daffodil Month for cancer awareness.

There is no question that it has been a really difficult couple of years for all of us, but as we emerge from a dark, long and exceptionally cold winter, I hope everyone in Milton gets the chance to spend a little more time outdoors. Commit to that morning jog, ride a bike to school or work, do some gardening or hiking, or just enjoy the spring weather.

Junior A Hockey ChampionshipsStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Chris d'Entremont Conservative West Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, last Saturday night I had the honour of dropping the puck at the Mariners Centre in Yarmouth as the Mariners took on the Valley Wildcats from Berwick.

I am proud to point out that these two great Junior A hockey teams are from my amazing riding of West Nova, and I committed to both teams to congratulate the winner in the House of Commons, maybe wearing a jersey.

On Saturday night, the Mariners won 4-1, forcing a sixth game in the series, and the Valley Wildcats won the next day at home in Berwick, 4-2.

It has been exciting to watch both of these fantastic teams throughout the hockey season, so I thank them for that.

Let me start by giving a big congratulations to the Yarmouth Mariners players and coaching staff and to the management and fans for a great season, and a huge congratulations to the Valley Wildcats players and fans and organization for all their hard work. They move on to a series starting tonight against the Truro Bearcats in the beautiful constituency of Cumberland—Colchester, which I am sure will be a great one.

Go, Wildcats, go.

Natalie AgustinStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Emmanuella Lambropoulos Liberal Saint-Laurent, QC

Mr. Speaker, on March 22, 2022, the world lost a strong and inspirational young woman to stage 4 metastatic breast cancer.

Throughout her nine-year battle with cancer, Nalie experienced some of the darkest times that a human being can possibly face, and yet she always made room for light, inspiring so many others to do the same. She was an example to so many of my generation of what it meant to thrive with cancer.

Nalie's journey and her outlook on life changed the lives of everyone who followed her. Her message to us all remains consistent and powerful: No matter what obstacles life might throw our way, there is always a silver lining. It is about letting the light in and choosing to believe that everything will turn out okay.

What remains is the beautiful legacy that Nalie left behind. She will continue to live on in the hearts of the thousands of people that she touched with her light and love.

To her family and Vee, I offer my deepest sympathies and thank them for sharing Nalie with so many who so very much needed her hope, love and light.

To Nalie I say that I have no doubt that you fulfilled your life's purpose here and that your are in a much better place.

Andrina CalvertStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Richard Cannings NDP South Okanagan—West Kootenay, BC

Mr. Speaker, today I rise to celebrate the life of Andrina Calvert, my constituency assistant in Penticton, who passed away from leukemia last month. Andrina was an assistant to Bob Rae when he was premier of Ontario, and I was so fortunate to be able to hire her as my assistant in 2015.

Andrina was one in a million, a kind person with a bright smile and beguiling grin and an almost infinite capacity to listen to people when they had difficult stories to tell. She was someone who felt an obligation to give back to her community. She loved animals as much as she loved people, and volunteered for many local organizations and events.

I pass on my condolences to her husband, Jim, and to all of her extended family and many friends.

I would regularly meet people on the street who would say, “Please tell Andrina that she is an angel.” She was, indeed, an angel, and I will miss her. We will all miss her so very much.

Affordable HousingStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Élisabeth Brière Liberal Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance tabled a budget yesterday that will invest in the backbone of a strong and growing country: our people.

Sherbrooke is experiencing a serious housing crisis. The measures set out in the budget to increase the number of housing units and speed up housing construction and repairs will help families, workers and seniors find a safe and affordable place to call home.

Here is what we are doing to ensure that more housing will be available and to meet our target of keeping the rental price of at least 40% of new housing at or below 80% of the average market price. We are encouraging cities to build more homes. We are launching a fund tailored to the needs and realities of cities and communities. We are building affordable housing faster. We are extending the rapid housing initiative. We are creating a new generation of co-op housing. Finally, we are continuing to provide doubled annual funding for Reaching Home.

This is good news for the people of my riding.

Events in Hastings—Lennox and AddingtonStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Shelby Kramp-Neuman Conservative Hastings—Lennox and Addington, ON

Mr. Speaker, we know spring is in the air when rain is welcome, the warmer days are coming and the Masters golf tournament is on at Augusta National. Go Mike, Mackenzie and Corey.

Locally, events are popping up all over my riding: the Loyalist Easter egg hunt, Trinity United craft and vendor sale in Madoc, the Easter market and egg hunt in Deseronto, Easter bunny photos in Erinsville, exciting Easter crafts in Northbrook, an archery competition in Napanee and so much more.

However, it is officially spring when hot cross buns are available at Hidden Goldmine Bakery and the kayakers have arrived in Queensborough. Some of the pictures captured of the impressive jumps over the mill pond dam are fantastic. This weekend is M.A.C.K. Fest in Queensborough. While there, people can have some warm treats on the Black River, all while exploring this beautiful historic village.

I encourage everyone to ask their neighbours, check out local community papers, cable, Facebook groups and, if they have an opportunity, to get some fresh air, support some local initiatives and shop local.

Hargeisa Market FireStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Chandra Arya Liberal Nepean, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is with great sadness that I speak about a major fire last week in Somaliland, which destroyed the Waheen market in Hargeisa.

With several thousand businesses destroyed, Hargeisa Chamber of Commerce chairman Jamal Aideed said this market accounted for 40% to 50% of the city's economy. Thousands of people have lost their livelihoods, and this is more painful as it happened in this holy month of Ramadan. This disaster is on top of drought, famine and food insecurity already in Somaliland.

I call on Canada to take steps immediately to help Somaliland and provide much-needed funding support. I would like to recognize the Somaliland Canadian Congress and the Canadian Alliance to Rebuild Hargeisa Market for their hard work in advocating and mobilizing the required support.

Child CareStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Yasir Naqvi Liberal Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to share with this House how excited parents are in my community of Ottawa Centre with the announcement that we finally have a national child care and early learning program in Canada. It is absolutely a game-changer for young parents who want to be engaged in their kids' lives but also participate fully in the workforce. It is clear that child care is not a luxury but a necessity for families.

It is clear that child care is not a luxury, but a necessity for families.

The Ontario Liberal government introduced full-day kindergarten almost 10 years ago. Now we have this full early learning program for kids at $10 a day for affordable, bilingual, quality child care and, in the school setting, full-day kindergarten as well.

I want to very quickly thank so many parents and advocates from Glebe Co-operative Nursery School, Andrew Fleck Children's Services, Centretown Parents' Cooperative Daycare and many more who have been advocating on behalf of families and parents. Congratulations to them as we now have $10-a-day child care in Ontario.

Bread Ministry in Edmonton WestStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise to recognize the charitable work of the Saints Church in my riding of Edmonton West. Led by the dynamic duo of Lisa Ross and Linda Lo, a great team of volunteers created and run a bread ministry to distribute bread to those in need.

Every week the team picks up bread donated by the incredibly generous Cobs Bread on Winterburn Road to distribute to local families. The program started in October 2019 and has not once stopped, even during the height of the pandemic. Since the start of the program, the bread ministry has served over 5,000 families in need.

The pandemic has not been easy on our country, obviously, so I am grateful for the many places of faith that have stepped up to fill a void, to bring Canadians together, to simply help because it is the right thing to do. Saints Church and the bread ministry is one such place. I thank Pastor Brett, Lisa and Linda, their ministry and their church for all their service to the people of Edmonton.

Easter WishesStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.


Bryan May Liberal Cambridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, next weekend, millions of Canadians will be together with their families and friends for the Christian celebration of Easter, which honours the values of sacrifice, faith, renewal and peace. Over the holiday weekend, I encourage all Canadians to take a moment and think about the many Canadians who cannot be home for Easter, including those in the Canadian Armed Forces.

Whether people celebrate by going to church, by giving back to their communities through volunteering or by enjoying the age-old tradition of an Easter egg hunt, I wish everyone in Cambridge, North Dumfries, north Brant and all Canadians a happy Easter.

Support for UkraineStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.


Dan Mazier Conservative Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa, MB

Mr. Speaker, my constituency is proudly home to a vibrant Ukrainian community. I want to recognize some of my constituents who have stepped up to support the people of Ukraine.

Locals in Dauphin initiated the Parkland Ukrainian Family Fund to support parents and children fleeing to Canada. Grade 8 students at William Morton Collegiate Institute in Gladstone raised over $2,800 for the Canadian Red Cross. Minnedosa Collegiate students collected over 200 kilograms of essential items and over $3,000 in donations. The Municipality of Harrison Park has approved $20,000 in funding to support Ukrainians fleeing war.

There are many more constituents and communities that are opening their homes and hearts to support the people of Ukraine as they flee their homeland from Putin’s war. I want to sincerely thank each and every one of them for standing with Ukraine as Ukrainians continue to fight for freedom.

Support for UkraineStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.


Greg McLean Conservative Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, like many Canadians, I am blessed to have grown up with the descendants of Ukrainian immigrants who came to Canada after the pogroms visited on Ukraine by the Soviet regime after World War II. Those families and that culture are integral to our heritage. We all rejoiced when Ukraine joined the realm of free nations more than three decades ago. Witnessing the carnage brought on Ukraine by Putin hits home. Friends are asking for help for family and close connections who are doing what every family would in this situation: finding safety and hoping Canada can offer that.

My friend Zsolt Vigh, whose family fled Communism and sought refuge here, has raised tens of thousands of dollars to help Ukrainians find safety. He is also working with Calgary companies to facilitate temporary solutions for those who cannot yet reach Canada. We have everything we need to help: homes, resources, the means and a tight-knit community with the people who need us.

Let us stop the delays and bring these people to Canada now.

PassoverStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.


Ya'ara Saks Liberal York Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, Passover, or Pesach, is one of the oldest and most transformative stories of hope. It tells how a powerless people found their way from slavery to freedom through faith and perseverance to become a nation. The story of the Exodus is defining for Jews around the world and a living symbol for communities of hope against adversity.

As Jewish families and communities across Canada gather next Friday, we will be celebrating Passover with family for the first time in two long years. This year, with Ukraine and its Jewish communities fighting for their freedom and their lives, the story of Passover takes on new meaning in this holiday of spring and renewal.

We retell the Passover story every year to remind ourselves that freedoms are never fully won and can never be taken for granted. We must fight for them and cherish them in every generation.

On behalf of my family, I wish the Jewish community of York Centre and those across Canada chag pesach sameach.