Madam Speaker, every single Canadian wants one thing in life, or one thing among several in life, which is to have nutritious, sustainable and affordable food produced right here in Canada. However, the Prime Minister's carbon tax coalition with the NDP is making that almost impossible for Canadian farmers and for Canadian consumers.
The Parliamentary Budget Officer was very clear that Bill C-234, which we are trying to pass through the Senate, would save Canadian farmers close to $1 billion by 2030. These are not insignificant costs we are talking about that Canadian farmers are trying to absorb. We are seeing farmers struggle with higher input costs, higher interest rates and the paying of the carbon tax again and again.
This is reality, but there are consequences to this reality, which seem to be lost on the Liberal government. There are 800,000 Ontarians who made close to six million visits to the food bank last year, which is an increase of almost 40%. This is the highest single-year increase ever recorded. They cannot afford to feed their families.
The Liberals will say, every single question period, that all the Conservatives are going to do is cut. The cutting that is happening right now is Canadian families cutting meals for their kids and Canadian families cutting the heat down at night and putting on a sweater or a blanket because they cannot afford to heat their homes. These are the cuts happening every single day by Canadians, who are having to face extremely difficult choice of either feeding their family or heating their home. These are not choices that should have to be made in a country like Canada, but that is exactly what an ideological activist agenda by the Liberal-NDP government is forcing Canadians to do.
We have a common-sense Conservative bill, Bill C-234, that would help reduce costs for farmers and make food more affordable for Canadians, but the Liberal government is going out of its way to bully senators to block Bill C-234. This is disrespectful to this House of Commons, which is elected by the people to represent our constituents. This House, by a very strong majority, and in fact by every single opposition party in this House, supported Bill C-234. This is because every opposition party in this House understands the importance of Canadian agriculture. Every member of the official opposition understands the importance of ensuring Canadians have affordable food to put on their table, produced right here in Canada by Canadian farmers, ranchers and producers.
What we are seeing is the Liberals play games with the Senate, disrespecting, as I said, the decisions made by this House of Commons. My colleague from Wellington—Halton Hills has talked a great deal about the fact that this is a taxation bill that was passed by this House. The Senate does not have the jurisdiction or the authority to override a taxation bill decided upon by the House of Commons, and yet that is exactly what is happening. The Senate is playing games with the livelihoods of Canadian farmers. It is playing games with the lives of Canadian families who are struggling to put food on the table. Food should not be a luxury and it should certainly not be a plaything in the political gamesmanship of the Liberal government.
I want to take a moment to talk about the real-life consequences this is having on Canadian farmers. I had a phone call from a dairy farmer two weeks ago who was basically in tears. She has come to the conclusion that she is going to lose her farm by Christmas to bankruptcy. She has a number of loans on her farm, as every single farmer does. They have lots of assets but a lot of debt. Her interest rate on her debt went from 1.9% to 7.2%. She can no longer afford the interest payments. On top of that, her carbon tax and fuel bills have doubled over the last year, making it impossible for her to maintain her operation. This is yet another lost farm for Canadian farmers. It is lost jobs, but also lost production and lost yields.
A mushroom farmer from Ontario sent me a note. His carbon tax went up last year and he was going to be paying $173,000 in carbon taxes alone. When it goes up in 2030, his carbon tax bill will be $450,000 a year. How is that economically sustainable? I will tell us. It is not.
The government talks about environmental sustainability all the time, but it never talks about economic viability, which is the most important element. One cannot be environmentally sustainable if one no longer exists.
The note said, “It is difficult to see how our farm or any farm will remain in business if this continues. It will be unsustainable for our next generation to take on our farms, killing the food chain within Canada. This is not fair to farmers, families or the farming generations to come. It is not fair to Canadian consumers who want to eat food grown in Canada, which has a lower carbon footprint.”
Another letter from a poultry farmer in Alberta states that, last year, he paid $120,000 in carbon taxes. This year, he is paying $180,000. By 2030, his carbon tax bills will be $480,000 a year. He said, “We are a chicken business and just simply can't afford the crippling carbon tax. If this is allowed to continue and go to $170 a tonne, we will need to shut down. The tax we pay is not going to do anything to eliminate carbon emissions. Our best hope is that we increase our selling price to the consumer to recover these costs, which is the last thing you or I want to see in these inflationary times.”
We are seeing record-high food inflation in Canada as a result of farmers paying the carbon tax again and again. Not only do they pay it when they are heating and cooling their barns or drying their grain, but they are also paying it when they buy fertilizer, seed and chemicals. They are paying it again when they transport their grain or their cattle and when the rail line sends them their bill for moving their grain to port.
There are very few other industries that I can think of that pay the carbon tax more then Canadian farmers, yet they are dedicated to the job that they do and always finding better ways and new innovations to reduce their emissions. However, that is not taken into consideration whatsoever with bills that are being blocked by the Liberals.
A veteran retired from the military and moved to Saskatchewan. He said that, in 2020, his fuel bill was $7,000. In 2021, it was $9,000. In 2022, it is now $12,000. He said, “The weird part is that I drive my machinery the same amount and the same number of hours each year.”
His land is the same size, which means taxes are making up the difference in costs. “I am only farming a half-section, and I am farming organically. If I didn't, I would be broke by now.”
These are stories that we are getting in our office every single day. These are the real-life consequences of the carbon tax and the impact it is having on farmers. This is then increasing the cost of food, and Canadians are having to deal with that every single day.
When one increases the cost and carbon tax on the farmers who are growing the food, the truckers who are moving the food, the processors who are manufacturing the food and the retailers who are selling the food, do we know what happens? Food becomes unaffordable for the Canadian consumer. That is why we are seeing one in five Canadians skipping meals and record-breaking numbers at food banks.
This is not lost across Canada. We have letters from five premiers who are asking the Senate to pass this bill. Premiers across Canada understand the importance of this legislation. Saskatchewan, Alberta, Ontario, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick are begging the Senate to do its job, respect the will of the House of Commons and pass this legislation.
However, we have the Prime Minister's environment minister threatening to resign if this bill is passed. He says there will be no more carbon tax carve-outs. This comes days after the Prime Minister already admitted that his carbon tax is unaffordable and had a carve-out for home heating oil.
This is clearly common-sense legislation. It will make food more affordable. The most important thing is that Canadians want nutritious, sustainable, affordable food produced by Canadian farmers. Bill C-234 will make that a reality.