Mr. Speaker, it is always a pleasure and an honour to rise in this House on behalf of my constituents in Calgary Midnapore.
Before I begin my remarks on Bill C-30, I would like to send my dearest regards to our good friends and fellow Canadians across Atlantic Canada and eastern Quebec. Now is the moment to prepare as the storm approaches. My thoughts and prayers are with our fellow Canadians in Atlantic Canada and in eastern Quebec.
No doubt, the GST rebate will provide some welcome relief, which Conservatives will support, but ultimately, fundamentally, this will not address the real problem. Inflationary deficits and taxes are driving up costs at the fastest rates in nearly 40 years. My goodness, that is almost as long as I have been on earth, and I will not give my age here, but it is certainly a long time.
I would say that, for longer than two years, Conservatives and our new leader, the member for Carleton, have tried as best as they could to warn the Prime Minister about the consequences of his actions and how much they hurt Canadians from coast to coast to coast, and the coasts are important to remember as we remark upon the events of today. Conservatives have called on the government to cancel all planned tax increases, including the payroll tax hikes planned for January 1, and as the shadow minister for employment, this piece is particularly important to me, along with the tax hikes on gas, groceries and home heating scheduled for April 1.
Another tax that has been an incredible burden on Canadians has been the carbon tax. If the Prime Minister was, in fact, serious about making life more affordable for workers, families and seniors, he would cancel the carbon tax immediately. These taxes are coming at the worst possible time for Canadian families who are already struggling with rising costs due to the Prime Minister's inflation. Instead of freezing taxes, the Prime Minister is raising them on people who are already struggling to make ends meet.
This credit will be a one-time help of $467, which, as I said, we welcome as a small piece of relief for families, but we must contrast that with the fact that the average family of four is now spending over $1,200 more a year to put food on the table, not to mention the rising costs of heat, gasoline and rent.
Grocery prices are up by 10.8%, rising at the fastest pace in 40 years. Fish is up by 10.4%, and perhaps it will be more after the dreadful weekend ahead of us. Butter is up 16.9%. Eggs are up 10.9%, and margarine is up by 37.5%. Bread, rolls and buns are up by 17.6%. Dry or fresh pasta is up by 32.4%. Fresh fruit is up by 13.2%. Oranges are up by 18.5%, and apples are up by 11.8%. Coffee is up by 14.2%. Soup is up by 19.6%. Lettuce is up by 12.4%, and potatoes, which will perhaps increase more after this weekend, are up by 10.9%.
Individuals without children who earn more than $49,200 and a family of four or a couple with two children who earn more than $58,500 will receive no benefits, yet these food prices will not change for them. The amount of the inflationary increases they will have to pay on their items will remain the same.
This will impact small businesses. I come from a small business family, so this issue is especially dear to me. Small business insolvencies, I am sure members know, are on the rise, and the Canadian Federation of Independent Business reported that owners of one in six businesses are considering closing their doors, with 62% of small businesses still carrying debt from the pandemic. The Liberals have created a risky environment for small business, and small businesses cannot afford to do business with these upcoming tax hikes, rising debt costs and staggering inflation numbers. Again, if the government is serious about small businesses surviving, recovering and growing in Canada, then it should immediately cancel all of the tax hikes that impact small businesses.
Members should not take my word for it. Many economists are talking about the Prime Minister's inflation bill. I will add that these are individuals from very credible institutions. I know that the government across the way certainly likes to turn up its nose at some Conservative-friendly institutes, such as the Fraser Institute. I heard snickering today. However, the Liberals cannot argue with these sources. One individual said:
It's always good to help people in need.
The problem is, what does that do for everyone else and does it really help [those on low incomes] to begin with? If we have high inflation and that high inflation continues, that assistance is not going to do very much to help anyone, including the recipients of that assistance. It is just not going to be enough, and while the Bank of Canada is doing quite a bit to bring down inflation [through increasing interest rates], the government really has not done much of anything.
I am sure the government would like to think it was the Fraser Institute that said that, but it was Professor Pavlov of Simon Fraser University, a very well-known university, known to not always have Conservative opinions. Therefore, we are certainly not alone in our criticism of how little, or how “much of anything”, to quote Professor Pavlov, the government has done in an effort to fight inflation.
Another professor from Simon Fraser University, Professor Herrenbrueck, said, “If you're asking will this put further pressure on inflation, I would say probably yes, it would have to”. That is again not a glowing recommendation of the government's action on inflation from professors from a very well-known university, which does not necessarily have a Conservative point of view.
I have another quote:
While there are times where fiscal largesse is just what the economy needs, these aren't such times. In a period of high inflation and excess demand, cutting taxes or handing out cheques can add fuel to the inflationary fire, and make the job of a central bank that's raising rates to cool demand all that more troublesome.
That quote was from the chief economist at CIBC. How can we argue against the chief economist of the CIBC? It would be almost impossible.
Here is another quote and, I would say, our support of this part of the bill follows in suit with this comment: “We’re not going to deny that there are households seriously in need of help right now in this inflationary environment. But, from a policy perspective, we all know that sending out money as an inflation-support measure is inherently … inflationary.”
This is once again something our leader, the member for Carleton, has attempted to point out to the government on numerous occasions. That quote is from Robert Kavcic, the senior economist at the Bank of Montreal.
I have one final quote, which says, “it seems sensible to assume that this will add to pressures on measures of core inflation.... Any belief that it will ease inflationary pressures must have studied different economics textbooks.”
I would certainly say we are not all singing from the same songbook here when it comes to addressing the Canadian economy and inflation. That quote, to round out my quotes, is from Derek Holt, the vice-president and head of capital markets economics at Scotiabank.
We have three major banks here, CIBC, Bank of Montreal and Scotiabank, all indicating that the government has not done enough to stop inflationary measures for Canadians, which I outlined extensively with my food list and the way this is impacting people.
The average family of four is now spending over $1,200 more each year just to put food on the table. I am a mom. I go grocery shopping. I see the prices in the grocery stores. I am even hesitant to think about how my family will budget for them. I am a very fortunate mother in a very fortunate family, so I worry for my constituents and I worry for Canadians.
Grocery prices are up by 10.8%, the highest rate since 1981. Across the board, food prices are up by 9.8%. As I said, while Conservatives welcome this much-needed support, this one-time cheque of $467 for families of four eligible for the benefit covers less than 40% of Trudeau's inflation at the grocery store alone and does not begin to cover the rising cost of heat, just as winter is coming, gasoline and rent.
More than 70% of families with children would not receive this support. Again, individuals without children earning more than $49,200, families of four earning more than $58,500 or couples with two children would receive no benefits.
In closing, we have had enough of the band-aids. This economy, this country, is on life support. We need solutions. Right now, all we have is this sad bill and “Justinflation”.