House of Commons Hansard #174 of the 44th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was iran.


Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

March 28th, 2023 / 4 p.m.

University—Rosedale Ontario


Chrystia Freeland LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance


That this House approve in general the budgetary policy of the government.

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 83(1), I would like to table, in both official languages, the budget documents for 2023, including notices of ways and means motions.

The details of the measures are contained in these documents.

Pursuant to Standing Order 83(2), I am requesting that an order of the day be designated for consideration of these motions.

Canada's economy has made a remarkable recovery from the COVID recession. Last year, Canada delivered the strongest economic growth in the G7. There are 830,000 more Canadians working today than when COVID first hit. We have recovered 126% of the jobs that were lost in those first months, compared to just 114% in the United States.

When we announced a Canada-wide system of affordable early learning and child care in our 2021 budget, we said that it would create new economic opportunities for mothers all across Canada and thus greater prosperity for all of us. It worked. I am so proud to say that last month the labour force participation rate for Canadian women in their prime working years hit a record high of 85.7%. That is feminist economic policy. Therefore, today there are more Canadians with good jobs than ever before.

Putin and the pandemic drove up inflation around the world. Central banks have responded with one of the fastest and most synchronized monetary tightening cycles since the 1980s.

Today, here in Canada, inflation is coming down. Inflation has fallen for eight months in a row, and fell to 5.2% in February. The Bank of Canada predicts it will drop to just 2.6% by the end of this year.

In February, the average wage for Canadians went up by 5.4%. That meant paycheques outpaced inflation, which meant more money in Canadians' pockets after a hard day's work—from coast to coast to coast.

However, we all know that our most vulnerable friends and neighbours are still feeling the bite of higher prices. That is why our budget delivers targeted and temporary inflation relief to those who need it most.

For 11 million Canadians and Canadian families, a new grocery rebate will help make up for higher prices at the checkout counter—without adding fuel to the fire of inflation.

What all Canadians want right now is for inflation to keep coming down, and for interest rates to fall. That is why the budget I have tabled today will ensure that Canada maintains the lowest deficit and the lowest debt-to-GDP ratio in the G7.

We are making sure the very wealthy and our biggest corporations pay their fair share of taxes, so we can afford to keep taxes low for middle-class families and invest in our health care system and social safety net.

Canada is a country of peace, order and good government. We have strong institutions and a resilient financial system that is the envy of the world. Our country has a proud tradition of fiscal responsibility. That is a tradition we are determined to uphold. We are refocusing government spending while taking great care not to reduce the services and direct support Canadians rely on.

By exercising fiscal restraint, we are ensuring that we can continue to invest in Canadians and in the Canadian economy for years to come, just as we have done since 2015. We know that investments in Canadians are also investments in our economy. This is what the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, Janet Yellen, has referred to as “modern supply-side economics”.

We are investing in housing, because our economy is built by people and people need homes in which to live. We are investing in Canadian workers so they have the skills they need and can travel to where the jobs are. We are investing in a stronger immigration system and welcoming record numbers of skilled workers to Canada to support our growing businesses. We are also investing in affordable child care for families from coast to coast to coast, so that more Canadian mothers no longer have to choose between their family and their career.

Investments in housing, skills, immigration and child care are not just social policies. They are economic policies.

Health care is another one of those policies, so today we are delivering the comprehensive $198-billion investment in public health care that the Prime Minister announced last month.

From helping every single Canadian find a family doctor to tackling the unacceptable backlog of surgeries and combatting the opioid crisis that has devastated so many of our families and our communities and has taken so many lives, we will ensure that Canadians receive the care they need. We will ensure that every Canadian can rely on a world-class, publicly funded, universal health care system, one that is deserving of its place at the very heart of what it means to be Canadian.

Just as we are reinforcing the public health care system we have today, we are also expanding its reach. Since December, our investments have helped more than 240,000 Canadian children receive the dental care they need.

Let us just think about that: 240,000 Canadian kids. Maybe their parents could not take them to the dentist before. Maybe their teeth hurt. Maybe they missed days at school. It is so important.

That is why today I am so proud to announce the creation of a new Canadian dental care plan. By the end of this year, by the end of 2023, we will begin rolling out a dental care plan that will eventually cover up to nine million uninsured Canadians. This will mean that no Canadian, ever again, will need to choose between taking care of their teeth and paying the bills at the end of the month. It will mean that one cannot tell the size of someone's paycheque by their smile.

These are significant and necessary investments, because a strong and effective public health care system is essential for a strong and healthy Canadian workforce. We need a strong and healthy Canadian workforce now more than ever because, as we wrestle inflation to the ground, Canada must also navigate two fundamental shifts in the global economy.

First, in what is the most significant economic transformation since the industrial revolution, our friends and partners around the world, chief among them the United States, are investing heavily to build clean economies and the net-zero industries of tomorrow.

At the same time, Putin and the pandemic have cruelly revealed to the world's democracies the risks of economic reliance on dictatorships. As a result, our allies are moving quickly to friendshore their economies and build their critical supply chains through democracies like our own.

Together, these two great shifts represent the most significant opportunity for Canadian workers in the lifetime of anyone here today, including our most senior and respected members of the House.

This is not hyperbole or mere turn of phrase. When President von der Leyen stood in this House earlier this month, she said that she wants Canada and Europe to “join forces for the climate, for our economies” and to end what she called Europe's “dangerous dependencies” on authoritarian economies.

When President Biden stood in this House just last week, he told us that we are at an “inflection point in history”. He said that we had all learned the hard way that just-in-time global supply chains make us vulnerable. He urged us to work together to build a shared future where Canada and the United States can “anchor the most competitive, prosperous and resilient economic region in the world.”

These are our closest friends. These are our steadfast democratic allies. These are our two greatest trading partners. Like so many of our friends around the world, they need the expertise of Canadian workers, the ingenuity of Canadian businesses and the resources that Canada has in such fortunate abundance.

Today, and in the years to come, Canada must either meet this historic moment—this remarkable opportunity before us—or we will be left behind as the world’s democracies build the clean economy of the 21st century.

So we will fight for Canadians, and we will fight for Canadian businesses. We will ensure that Canada seizes the historic opportunity before us. We are going to build a clean electrical grid that connects Canadians from coast to coast to coast, protects our environment, and delivers cleaner, more affordable electricity to Canadians and Canadian businesses.

We are going to make Canada the very best place in the world for businesses to invest, because that means more vibrant, prosperous communities, and more good careers for Canadians.

Canada has free trade deals with countries that represent two-thirds of the global economy. We are going to make Canada a reliable supplier of clean energy to the world, and, from critical minerals to electric vehicles, we are going to ensure that Canadian workers mine, and process, and build, and sell the goods and the resources that our allies need.

We are going to make sure that the unions who built the middle class can continue to thrive, and we are going to make it easier for Canadian workers to learn the skills they need.

When the Government of Canada buys things from other countries, we are going to make sure that those countries offer Canadian businesses the same access that we give them.

We are building big things here in Canada, from a Volkswagen battery plant in Ontario to the Galaxy Lithium mine in Quebec, to the Trans Mountain expansion in Alberta, to the Atlantic loop, to the LNG terminal in Kitimat, B.C.

Our plan means good-paying jobs, good careers for everyone everywhere, from our biggest cities to our smallest towns, from Toronto, Ontario, to Peace River, Alberta, for our auto workers building electric vehicles and our bus drivers who drive them, for our skilled tradespeople, expanding our clean energy grid and building thousands and thousands of affordable energy-efficient homes, for our miners and energy workers powering Canada and the world, for our health care workers and teachers, who make our communities thrive, for our farmers and fishers, who feed Canada and the world, for our incredible service workers, who are as essential today as ever.

Our plan is good for our forestry workers, for our climate scientists, and for our environmental biologists, for our engineers designing hydrogen plants and SMRs, and for our computer scientists who have made Canada an AI superpower.

Our plan is good for indigenous peoples building major projects and sharing in the prosperity they create, for our new generation of small business entrepreneurs dreaming up solutions to the challenges of the 21st century and for their hard-working employees providing for their families all across our great country.

As I travelled across Canada over the past year, I met a lot of incredible hard-working Canadians.

Jeff is an electrician who lives in Etobicoke with his wife Cheryl, an ICU nurse. They are proud of their jobs and proud of the family that their jobs have made it possible for them to raise. As Jeff said to me, “I've got the skills to pay the bills.”

Léonard, a software developer in Quebec City, who codes charging stations that are used from San Diego, California, to Happy Valley-Goose Bay in Newfoundland and Labrador.

I met two young union women. To Nicholle in Oshawa, who will start her first electrical placement this week, I would say, “Well done, Nicholle.”

Kayla, who I first met in Edmonton and then again in Calgary, teaches apprentices to weld and she gave me a couple of lessons too.

I have met potash miners and early learning and childhood educators. I have met scientists and innovators, and the longshore workers and the truckers who keep Canada's economy moving.

All across Canada I have met people who value the same things: a good career that pays them well for doing work they are proud of; the ability to live with dignity, to be who they are, to love who they love and to be judged on their character rather than what they look like or where they were born; the belief that if they work hard they can afford to raise their children and launch them into an even more prosperous future; and the conviction that because they live in Canada, by birth or by choice, every single day represents a new fresh opportunity.

That is what this budget invests in: the possibility for every single Canadian to share in the remarkable opportunities that Canada provides and in the new era of prosperity that we will build together.

The brave people of Ukraine have reminded me, I think they have reminded all of us, that we must never take our freedom and our democracy for granted. We have the power to shape our country's future and we must always be sure to use it.

What a gift it is to call this remarkable country our home. Canada is a land filled with good, hard-working people, people who do big and important things. It is because of us, the people of Canada, and the big and important things we will do in the months and years to come that I have never been more optimistic about the future of our great country than I am today.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.


Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Mr. Speaker, the budget we are being presented with today raises many questions.

First, it bears repeating that, in 2015, this government promised to run only modest deficits before returning to a balanced budget in just four years' time. This is the same Prime Minister who said that, one day, the budgets would balance themselves. This is the same Prime Minister who said that it was time to invest in Canada because interest rates were low and would stay that way.

Today, the Minister of Finance is tabling a budget that follows last year's budget, when she said the following:

On this next point, let me be very clear. We are absolutely determined that our debt-to-GDP ratio must continue to decline and our deficits must continue to be reduced. The pandemic debt we incurred to keep Canadians safe and solvent must [and will] be paid down.... This is our fiscal anchor.

Here is what the minister said in English:

This is our fiscal anchor.

Last year's figure was 42.4. The minister went on to say:

Canada has a proud tradition of fiscal responsibility. It is my duty to maintain it and I will...

This year's projected ratio is 43.5. The projection for next year is 43.2. In its first budget after announcing its fiscal anchor, the government is exceeding its fiscal anchor. It should never be exceeded.

Given everything I have just said, can the Minister of Inflation tell us why Canadians should believe a word of these budget forecasts or trust them?

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.


Chrystia Freeland Liberal University—Rosedale, ON

Mr. Speaker, we promised that deficits would come down, and today we have demonstrated that. Last year, the deficit was 1.5% of our GDP. This year, the deficit will be 1.4% of our GDP. To use actual numbers, last year's deficit was $43 billion. This year's deficit will be $40 billion. That is still a decrease.

I want to point out, for Canadians who are watching, that Canada maintains the lowest deficit in the entire G7 and the lowest debt-to-GDP ratio. Not only do we have the lowest deficit in the G7—lower than Germany, the United States and the other G7 countries with AAA credit ratings—but our deficit is also lower than Australia and the Netherlands, which have AAA credit ratings.

Let us not be narrow-minded. We need to understand and look at Canada's economic situation within the international context. Our country is strong, and we are very fortunate to be here in Canada.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.


The Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

Before we continue, I would like to remind members that our time is limited.

I would ask everyone to be as concise as possible with their questions and their answers, so we can get as many questions as possible.

The hon. member for Mirabel.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.


Jean-Denis Garon Bloc Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, the aeronautics and aerospace industries are the pride of Quebec. Despite this, Canada is the only G7 country that does not have a comprehensive policy in that area.

This budget contains nothing to correct the harmful effects of the luxury tax on small aircraft, which threatens 2,000 direct and indirect jobs in Quebec. When the time came to help Ontario's auto industry, Ottawa was always there.

Today's budget allocates $18.6 billion in subsidies, most of which will go into the pockets of oil companies. There is not one red cent for the aerospace sector. Why?

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.


Chrystia Freeland Liberal University—Rosedale, ON

Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague raised several issues. I will start with the luxury tax. Our government is proud to have introduced this tax because we think that the wealthy should pay their fair share. If the party across the way disagrees, it should say so to its voters.

As far as industries in Quebec are concerned, our government was there, is there and will always be there. Our electricity credit is excellent; it is a fantastic program for Quebec. Quebec has a global advantage thanks to its green electricity, but Quebec will need more and more electricity. That is why we have announced a major investment in green electricity. If the member across the way disagrees with me, then he should talk to Léonard, a software developer I talked to last week at a firm that makes charging stations. He will support our agenda.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.


Daniel Blaikie NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I would be remiss if I did not mention some of the things in the budget worth commending. They are very familiar items to those of us in the NDP caucus who have been calling for affordability measures such as another doubling of the GST rebate; a Canada-wide dental insurance plan, which is now on the way; real and meaningful labour conditions around federal investments in clean tech to ensure that it is not just companies but workers who would actually benefit from the investments we have to make to launch ourselves into the new energy economy; and meaningful investments for indigenous people living in urban, rural and northern communities who are struggling, as many Canadians are, with the housing market.

However, I have to say the budget also rightly includes warnings of a coming recession, warnings that we are hearing from private sector economists as well. We know that when a recession hits and unemployment goes up, the program that Canadians depend upon to pay the bills is employment insurance. In fact, the employment insurance system was so bad, it had to be completely overhauled during the pandemic because it could not get the job done.

In September of last year, the government let those temporary measures drop. The Liberals have been promising EI modernization for the entire seven, or eight, depending on who one talks to, years they have been in government. They have not delivered. Why is it that, as Canada looks down the barrel of a recession, the government is missing in action on employment insurance reform?

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.


Chrystia Freeland Liberal University—Rosedale, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to start by thanking the member for Elmwood—Transcona for his collaboration and his hard work as we prepared this budget. I do want to emphasize a couple of the points he made. I am, as I said, really proud that we are the government that is introducing dental care for every single person. I am glad that we are able to provide support for the most vulnerable Canadians in providing a grocery rebate. These are people who really need the help, and it is so important that we are able to be there for them.

I really want to emphasize the third point my colleague made. This is the labour element of our clean economy tax credits. This is an innovation for Canada. We have not done it before, but this time, when the government supports economic growth, when the government supports innovative entrepreneurial businesses, we are going to make sure that we are supporting great jobs for working people at the same time. That is so important.

When it comes to EI, I will say that our government has always been there for Canadian working people, whether it was during COVID, when we had to put in place emergency measures, or whether it has been in the innovative design of these tax credits. So far, let me just say, employment is holding up pretty well, even as the economy slows down, but no one has a crystal ball. I want to conclude by assuring every single Canadian listening to us today that we will always be there for every single Canadian, come what may.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Carleton Ontario


Pierre Poilievre ConservativeLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, I will read what the minister of inflation stated last year: “On this point, let me be very clear. We are absolutely determined that our debt-to-GDP ratio must continue to decline...This is a line we will not cross.”

One year later, she has missed the mark. That is important, because she already admitted a few days ago that deficits would fuel inflation. Today, she tabled a budget of $43 billion in additional spending that will be paid for by taxes and result in inflation. The Conservative Party will always work for those who work. That is why we will vote against the Liberals' inflationary plan.

The finance minister was telling us only a few days ago that deficit spending would spark even more inflation, higher grocery bills, more expensive housing and other costs for families. Today, she rolls out a bonanza of $43 billion of new inflation, debt and taxes that will be on the backs of everyday, hard-working Canadians.

We set three conditions for our support of the budget. The first was that it bring home lower prices by eliminating the inflationary carbon tax and deficits. The second was that it bring home powerful paycheques with lower taxes that reward hard work. The third was that it bring homes that our young people can afford by removing gatekeepers to speed up building. None of these three demands have been met.

All that the Liberals have delivered is more debt, more inflation and more costs on the backs of the hard-working and beleaguered people of this country, and that is why Conservatives are proud to announce we will be voting against the inflationary spending.

In fact, the gross cost of all the new spending announcements in the budget works out to $4,300 for every single family in Canada. That is almost enough to house the Prime Minister in a hotel room for one night. That is how expensive the government has become.

The war on work continues. The inflationary policies intensify. Canadians are living in desperation, skipping meals, living in parents' basements, unable to drive to work, falling into depression and even considering suicide because they cannot afford the pressure and the bills the Prime Minister has imposed after eight long years. The budget would make all of those pressures, pains and costs even worse.

This budget adds to the costs, pressures and hardships each and every family is facing. That is why we will be voting against this budget. We are going to bring forward our own common-sense approach that takes into account the common people who work and pay the bills in this country.

We are on the side of the people who work hard, pay their taxes and play by the rules. We want to bring home a nation that works for the people who do the work, bring home lower prices, bring home powerful paycheques and bring homes people can afford. It is the common sense of the common people united for our common home, my home and everyone's home. Let us bring it home.

I now move to adjourn.

(Motion agreed to)

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

4:40 p.m.


The Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

Before moving to adjourn, I just want to remind the hon. members that I know sometimes they get carried away in their speeches, but there were some sarcastic calls at each other. I just want to make sure everybody respects each other.

I want to remind members that when they are referring to another member, they must use their title rather than made-up names that are insulting. I do not want to hear any insulting language from either side. That is just some food for thought. I would like members to be judicious in their choice of words.

Pursuant to Standing Order 83(2), the motion is deemed adopted and the House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 2 p.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 4:47 p.m.)