House of Commons Hansard #282 of the 44th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was farmers.


Canada Early Learning and Child Care ActGovernment Orders

5:55 p.m.


Sylvie Bérubé Bloc Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with my colleague from Thérèse-De Blainville.

I am pleased to rise again to speak to Bill C-35, an act respecting early learning and child care in Canada.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a happy Valentine's Day, especially my spouse, Marc, despite the distance separating us.

This bill has come back to the House with an amendment adopted by the Senate. In December, the Senate adopted an amendment to maintain long-term funding for child care services for official language minority communities, as well as child care services for indigenous peoples.

The amendment reads as follows:

That Bill C‑ amended in clause 8, on page 6, by replacing lines 13 to 20 with the following:

“8 (1) The Government of Canada commits to maintaining long-term funding for early learning and child care programs and services, including early learning and child care programs and services for Indigenous peoples and for official language minority communities.

(2) The funding must be provided primarily through agreements with the provincial governments and Indigenous governing bodies and other Indigenous entities that represent the interests of an Indigenous group and its members.”.

On reading this amendment, it is clear that its purpose is to add the words “official language minority communities” to the bill. This amendment addresses the calls from the Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada and the Commission nationale des parents francophones, who wanted to see long-term funding commitments, especially for francophones outside Quebec. Since Quebec already has its own agreement with Ottawa, this amendment should not apply to Quebec.

In its current form, Bill C‑35 is not perfect from Quebec's perspective. I tried to improve it in committee, but all the amendments I proposed during the clause-by-clause study were rejected. In short, the demands of the Bloc Québécois and Quebec have not been heard or respected.

I want to provide a little background. Throughout the committee's study of the bill, we heard witnesses talk about how important affordable, quality child care is for early childhood development, for better work-school-life balance, for the emancipation of women and for return on investment in the economy. Throughout this study, Quebec was lauded as a model. On numerous occasions, the Quebec model was mentioned as one to draw inspiration from.

When it came time to include Quebec's expertise in the bill, however, I saw the other three parties dismiss that reality out of hand. The same thing happened with our amendments to include wording allowing Quebec to completely opt out of the federal program with full financial compensation. The only sign of any degree of openness was when a reference to Quebec's expertise was included in the preamble, the only place where these words ultimately have no real impact on the law.

Thus, Quebec does not have the option of completely withdrawing from this program with full compensation. The agreement concluded with the Quebec government spans a period of five years. Enshrining Quebec's full right to opt out of this program would help avoid another dispute between Quebec and Ottawa in case the federal government ever tries to interfere in Quebec's jurisdictions, as it does so well. Senior officials who worked on the bill also repeatedly stated, when questioned on the subject, that while nothing would prevent the federal government from imposing conditions as part of a future agreement, the bill had always been designed with the asymmetry of Quebec's reality compared to Canada's provinces in mind.

The various members of the Liberal government who spoke on the bill also repeatedly said that the Liberals intended to continue working with Quebec on this issue. The current agreement also appealed to Quebec because it did not interfere in any area of jurisdiction and left the Quebec government free to spend the money wherever it wanted.

Given the current agreement between Ottawa and Quebec and the federal government's express desire to continue working in this direction, Canada does not seem to have any intention of lecturing Quebec when it comes to child care.

We therefore believe that another bilateral agreement would be possible, probable and necessary, since Quebec is the inspiration for the Canadian government.

Then, at report stage in the House, nothing substantive was added to the debate. The Conservatives continued to argue that this bill has major flaws, particularly regarding accessibility, since private child care is not covered by the subsidies provided for under this bill. Meanwhile, the NDP continued to ask the government to interfere even more in jurisdictions belonging to Quebec and the provinces.

It is also important to remember that for many years now, many Canadian families have been envious of Quebec's child care system, because child care often eats up a large portion of their household income. These families have long dreamed of having access to the same service that families in Quebec have been receiving for a very long time. It is high time that all Canadian families were able to access child care without breaking the bank.

For a number of years now, Quebec's child care policy has enabled Quebeckers to benefit from a better work-life or school-life balance and more generous maternity and parental leave. It also extended family assistance programs to self-employed workers and workers with atypical work schedules. This model is a valuable program that the entire Quebec nation is proud of. Considering the popular support they enjoy, the child care centres rank among one of the greatest successes of the new social economy, being democratically managed using an approach that involves both parents and educators.

It is also important to remember that the mission of Quebec's early childhood education services is threefold: one, to ensure the well-being, health and safety of the children receiving care; two, to provide an environment that stimulates their development in every way, from birth to school age; and three, to prevent learning, behavioural and social integration problems from appearing later on.

In my opinion, a real family policy like the one in Quebec, which includes components such as family leave, income support and an accessible child care network, must be integrated into a coherent whole in order to be effective, so it should be overseen by just one level of government.

Despite the many the flaws and imperfections of Bill C‑35's current wording, the Bloc Québécois will support the bill. It is high time that families outside Quebec also got to reap the benefits of an early learning and child care program. With prices rising across the board, Bill C‑35's passage will certainly bring many families some welcome financial relief. Not only will it give Canadian families some financial breathing room, we know it will also allow more mothers to enter the job market.

Bill C‑35 will strengthen the vitality of the French language outside Quebec and prevent assimilation into English. As Jean-Luc Racine of the Commission nationale des parents francophones said, his organization's “experience in the field clearly shows that as soon as [francophone] children enter an English school, it's all over, even in immersion....As soon as people switch to the English-speaking side, within a few years, they forget French.” These are some of the major reasons I have decided to support Bill C‑35.

Canada Early Learning and Child Care ActGovernment Orders

6 p.m.


Michelle Ferreri Conservative Peterborough—Kawartha, ON

Mr. Speaker, I had an excellent time working with my colleague on this bill.

I have two things. Number one, does the member think it was worthwhile for the federal government to interfere in provincial jurisdiction when this is a provincial matter?

Number two, the Liberals turned these amendments down. These are in the Charter of Rights. These are about official languages and encouraging funding for French and minority languages. Why does the member believe the Liberals did not want to support that, especially in committee, and are changing their minds now?

Canada Early Learning and Child Care ActGovernment Orders

6:05 p.m.


Sylvie Bérubé Bloc Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, QC

Mr. Speaker, first of all, the federal government must not interfere in provincial jurisdictions, especially when it comes to Quebec. Second, I think our child care policy is a model worth following. As for the amendment, of course we must also help francophones outside Quebec gain access to day care services.

Canada Early Learning and Child Care ActGovernment Orders

6:05 p.m.


Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will be the first to admit that with a program like this, which was born out of Quebec and was inspired by Quebec's model, Quebec has shown the results. To my Conservative colleagues, if they are questioning whether or not more women get into the workforce as a result of a program like this, they should just look at Quebec. Quebec has had a program like this in place for a number of years, and when we look at Quebec, we see that there are more women in the workforce there.

However, we are seeing a repeat of the Conservatives' position last time this was in the House. They talk it down the whole time they are here. They criticize it repeatedly, and then when it comes time to vote, they silently stand up and vote in favour of it.

Does my colleague think the Conservatives will do the same thing this time, just trash-talk it the whole time but then, when it comes time to vote, vote in favour of it?

Canada Early Learning and Child Care ActGovernment Orders

6:05 p.m.


Sylvie Bérubé Bloc Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, QC

Mr. Speaker, our model is the best one. In fact, the member is proof positive that it is, since Bill C‑35 calls for another model.

As for the Conservatives, I have no idea how they will vote because they are impulsive. Unfortunately, I cannot say more than that.

Canada Early Learning and Child Care ActGovernment Orders

6:05 p.m.


Lisa Marie Barron NDP Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

Mr. Speaker, my question for the member is actually building on what my colleague was just talking about, which is around the fact that we know that Quebec's system of affordable child care has been a model for the rest of the country.

I am wondering if the member can share with us the benefits they have seen in Quebec in terms of gender equity, of women and all parents accessing child care, and of the quality of the child care that children have been receiving.

Canada Early Learning and Child Care ActGovernment Orders

6:05 p.m.


Sylvie Bérubé Bloc Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is accessible in Quebec. It is affordable. It is flexible. It is inclusive, too. Children get help. Families also have help for children with different ranges of abilities. I think Quebec really is a model that other provinces could learn from. The government should do the same with Bill C‑35.

Canada Early Learning and Child Care ActGovernment Orders

6:05 p.m.


René Villemure Bloc Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou for her passionate and moderate speech that puts things into perspective.

Let us not forget that, in 1997, Quebec brought forward such a plan. It was the work of Pauline Marois, whose courage allowed for great strides to be made.

I also remember that in 2006, my predecessor, Paule Brunelle, took part in the debate at first reading of Bill C‑303.

I would like to ask my colleague if the current bill does Quebec justice or if, on the contrary, it distorts an idea that was the best.

Canada Early Learning and Child Care ActGovernment Orders

6:05 p.m.


Sylvie Bérubé Bloc Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, QC

Mr. Speaker, that is a very good question.

I hope that the model in Bill C‑35 will be a success. Quebec is truly an example when it comes to child care services, parental leave, family benefits, tax credits and bonuses. So it is a model that should not be overlooked.

Canada Early Learning and Child Care ActGovernment Orders

6:05 p.m.


Louise Chabot Bloc Thérèse-De Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is truly a pleasure to be able to speak to Bill C‑35. However, it would be hard for me to do it any more justice than my dear colleague, who did an excellent job of shepherding it through committee brilliantly, passionately and with commitment. I thank her.

Today is February 14. Some colleagues have decided to wish everyone they love a happy Valentine's Day. I have a lot of love for my country, Quebec.

The reason we have Bill C‑35 before us, as it is, is because Quebec was a pioneer 27 years ago, in 1997, when it implemented a unique model not of child care services, but of early childhood education services. The initiative was spearheaded by the Minister of Education, Pauline Marois, who became the first woman to serve as Quebec's premier. All of civil society rallied around this legislation to create a strong and robust family policy, with the dual objective of achieving balance between family life and work. We saw the tremendous benefits that it opened up for women in the labour market, and for our little ones. It gives them equal opportunities.

Today, as part of Hooked on School Days, we see what a difference it makes to have an early childhood education services policy with a focus on education. We can chart the entire educational path for children aged zero to five years. That is really wonderful.

I also want to point out the commitment, dedication and passion that the educators and staff in our early child care centres have for our little ones. I want to commend them for that.

I would say that, in Quebec, we do more than that. When we implemented early childhood education services, the department at the time certified all of the women who provide child care in their homes. They were certified under the policy. They are part of the same mission, the same policy. It was a labour, social and feminist movement because we contributed to the right to organize and to collective bargaining. The policies that Quebec has implemented are really social policies, like a family policy for early childhood education services. We also have the parental insurance plan, proactive pay equity legislation that also dates back 25 years. I could give plenty of examples that show the choices that Quebec has made. Quebec has made societal choices. The social policies that we implemented make a difference for our nation, because they contribute economically and help to reduce social inequality. We are very proud of that.

When it comes to Bill C‑35, I would say the government has drawn quite a lot, been quite inspired by what is being done in Quebec. I would hazard to say that it is wonderful for women and toddlers outside Quebec if the government can draw inspiration from our model. I have taken part in missions to the OECD where Quebec was represented. I have taken part in missions to United Nations Women, where I have long heard women from other provinces calling for child care policies in their provinces.

However, the success of this does not lie in the fact that the federal government has once again interfered in jurisdictions involving family policy and education. That takes a lot of nerve. Once again, the federal government is interfering in provincial jurisdictions. The success of this lies in the fact that Quebec has made a societal choice. Why should anyone count on Ottawa to ensure that other provinces make the same progress?

Eventually, the federal target is approximately 200,000 day care spots across Canada. In Quebec, we have about 250,000 day care spots. It depends on the choices being made. Ottawa cannot be expected to take the place of the provinces when they choose not to make certain choices. Quebec did not wait for Ottawa to set up its services.

That is why I am so disappointed. I am shocked, but considering that today is Valentine's Day, I will keep calm.

I could have mentioned other programs. I will get to that. In Quebec, we have a dental care plan. In Quebec, we have a government-funded pharmacare program. In Quebec, we have anti-scab legislation dating back to 1977. The federal government is going to keep using its spending power to introduce more policies that interfere in areas under Quebec's jurisdiction.

After all my time here, I am fed up. People here seem to forget that Canada is a federation and that each province has its own responsibilities and jurisdictions. Ottawa keeps writing cheques so it can slap its flag on them and look good, while abdicating its real responsibilities, its real social safety net and social security policies for Canadians.

I will give three examples.

The government is starving the provinces when it comes to health transfers, even though health care is a priority and a provincial jurisdiction. The government is deliberately imposing conditions when it transfers any funding. That is pretty serious. In the meantime, we do not have any real tools.

The same goes for anti-scab legislation. Under this fine agreement, an anti-scab bill is supposed to be introduced, but there has been no mention of it for 14 sitting days in the House, and the bill has not come back.

We can also talk about seniors. Old age security is a federal government program, but the feds decided to discriminate against seniors on the basis of age by increasing old age security by 10% for people 75 and over while giving nothing to seniors aged 65 to 74. It is in its platform.

We have also been waiting for eight years for legislation to completely overhaul employment insurance, which also falls under federal jurisdiction. Instead of interfering in provincial programs and jurisdictions when we are making our own choices, the federal government should focus on improving its own social programs. With all of its programs, Quebec makes a contribution that is unlike anywhere else in North America in many respects, and that is widely recognized.

It is not perfect. We could do better, and the way to do better is to have our own power and be independent.

Canada Early Learning and Child Care ActGovernment Orders

6:15 p.m.


Michelle Ferreri Conservative Peterborough—Kawartha, ON

Mr. Speaker, I enjoy working with my colleague on the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities. She is a very direct and honest person, and I enjoy her humour as well.

My question for her would be in regard to Bill C-35 and the $10-a-day child care put forward by the Liberals and NDP. Does she think it makes sense for the federal government to intervene in provincial jurisdiction?

Canada Early Learning and Child Care ActGovernment Orders

6:15 p.m.


Louise Chabot Bloc Thérèse-De Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, there will be agreements with the provinces. Now, there is Bill C‑35. Some say that the provinces will not get there. It may not have been their choice. Child care services are $10 a day. In Quebec, they cost less than $10 a day.

When we brought in early childhood education services, the idea was to have a reduced contribution for parents. It was $5. Now, I have lost track, it may be around $9.

My colleague says it is $9, $10. It is the principle of indexing. It is the principle of a single rate, because no matter the parents' income, it is accessible for children. It is a public program. It is a public network of early childhood education services. Federal interference in provincial programs is not what will make this happen. It is going to take the will, at the provincial level, to push for and implement social policies.

Canada Early Learning and Child Care ActGovernment Orders

6:15 p.m.


Bonita Zarrillo NDP Port Moody—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have enjoyed working with the hon. member at the HUMA committee on many issues, including right now the OAS and the differentiation between seniors under age 75 and seniors over age 75. That too is a gender equality issue.

I have spoken in the House many times about how fortunate I was to live in Quebec in 1998 when my first child went through child care. It was $5 a day at that time. For my second child it was $7.50 a day. That allowed me to go back to school. I say that the reason I am standing in the House right now is that there was $5-a-day child care in Quebec.

I also want to raise my hands to applaud the work that Quebec does around making sure that families have access to free swimming lessons, free diving lessons and free synchronized swimming lessons: all kinds of opportunities for kids. It is a great place to raise a family.

My question to my colleague is this. There are many provinces in this country that are not taking care of child care, are not allowing women like me to be in elected roles because they do not have access to child care. Does she believe that this is a gender equity issue, and what should provincial governments be doing to pick up the ball to make sure that women and people who look after children can have affordable child care?

Canada Early Learning and Child Care ActGovernment Orders

6:20 p.m.


Louise Chabot Bloc Thérèse-De Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is also always a pleasure to work with my colleague on things that we have in common, such as gender equality for women, social justice and many other issues related to our social policies. She is welcome in Quebec any time.

I find it sad that other provinces have not made the same choices. Some provinces have gone further than others, but what I find sad is that we have to come to Ottawa to beg with respect to provincial jurisdictions. Quebec and each of the provinces must make their own choices about moving forward in a sensible way.

As I was saying, I hope that everyone can get to where Quebec is when it comes to gender equality for women and equal opportunities for children. Perhaps this is a start that will help the provinces follow Quebec's lead. I would tell them that they really have to stand behind their social policies to move forward.

Canada Early Learning and Child Care ActGovernment Orders

6:20 p.m.


Leah Gazan NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today in support of the Senate amendment, which the Senate adopted to clarify that funding for official language minority child care would be delivered through bilateral agreements with provinces and indigenous governing bodies. We know, as I have learned from my meetings with different francophone groups, that there is a severe shortage of French-language child care serving francophone communities outside Quebec.

This is a potential charter issue. In fact, in section 23, minority-language education is a right. It is also an amendment that francophone organizations like the FCFA and the CNPF have been pushing for, and the government motion would concur with this amendment. Therefore, I am very pleased to rise in support of it.

Basically, the Senate amendment to Bill C-35 breaks down clause 8, on funding commitments, into two sections while adding an entitlement for official language minorities. It states that Bill C-35 be read a third time. With respect to clause 8(1), it states, “The Government of Canada commits to maintaining long-term funding for early learning and child care programs and services, including early learning and child care programs and services for Indigenous peoples [and adds] and for official language minority communities.” Adding “and for official language minority communities” is a critical amendment, so I look forward to supporting the amendment in the House along with my NDP colleagues.

There is a national child care strategy. I have mentioned very often in the House that I am a very proud former early childhood educator. I can say that one of the reasons I left the field was that the respect this kind of noble profession deserves certainly was not given. In Canada in 2019, there were 300,000 individuals employed as child care workers. Child care workers are less likely than other workers to be unionized or covered by a collective agreement, and less likely to have a permanent job. They are 10 times more likely to be self-employed, and we know that the province of Quebec has the highest number of child care workers relative to its employed population. That is a very old statistic, but we can certainly say that Quebec is ahead of its time when it comes to providing early childhood education.

A third of child care workers right now are immigrants or non-permanent residents. We know that since COVID, the employment among child care workers fell 21% between February 2020 and February 2021, compared to only a 3% overall drop in other fields. Why is there a drop in the number of people wanting to become early childhood educators? We know that 82% of child care providers had difficulty hiring staff with the necessary qualifications. In Alberta, staff turnover was in fact 25%, and according to the ESDC data, the average wage for an ECE in Alberta was $18.50 an hour in 2022. ECEs need higher wages, and benefits, personal leave and pensions.

The median wage is so low; it was $21,000 a year in 2022, up from $20,000 in 2021. It is unacceptable that we are trying to lift off a national child care plan, yet somehow early childhood educators are supposed to act as martyrs to the system that exploits and underpays them. I note that the majority, once again, come from BIPOC communities and are primarily immigrants and non-permanent residents.

I do not mean to age myself, but these are the same fights we were fighting over 30 years ago. When I saw the campaign in Manitoba fighting for $21,000 a year, the level of exploitation that child care workers currently have to endure was very apparent to me. The Liberal government calls itself a feminist government, yet in a field that we know primarily employs women, immigrants and individuals with non-permanent residency, workers are not even being paid a living wage. This is not just a workers' issue; this is also a gender and equality issue. We know that in occupations that predominantly employ women, people generally get paid less. This is an equity issue. A third of the licensed child care workforce has no health benefits, zero.

I decided to leave my job as an ECE, a job that I loved. I loved the little ones. I had them all lined up for gym time. We would sing a song. We had a daily routine. I loved the two-and-a-half year olds, who took such pride in their accomplishments every single day. They were loving, tender and open. It was such an honour to work with minds that were not tarnished yet by the world. It was eye-opening and so inspiring to me.

However, I left the field. I decided to become trained as a teacher, and I will say why. By 21 years old, I knew that one day I wanted health care benefits. I knew that one day I wanted to earn more than minimum wage so I could afford my rent at the time, never mind with the housing crisis we are in now and the fact that rents are high. At the time, I could barely afford to pay my bills. The current salaries for early childhood educators are not are not a living wage. As a result, people are either discouraged from joining the field or they leave the field so they can live in dignity.

If the federal government is serious about making sure the national child care strategy gets off the ground, it needs to put in place a worker strategy that includes ensuring that funding is dependent on living wages, health care benefits and pensions for workers. Only then will we see a national child care strategy.

Canada Early Learning and Child Care ActGovernment Orders

6:30 p.m.


Michelle Ferreri Conservative Peterborough—Kawartha, ON

Mr. Speaker, I really enjoy working with my colleague on the Standing Committee on the Status of Women. Ideologically, sometimes we do not see eye to eye, but where we do is with respect to helping to empower women.

What the member is saying about ECEs is the exact same thing we are talking about when we say “women-owned child care facilities”. Women entrepreneurs are specifically being targeted by the language of the bill. A local woman talked about this recently in committee when we were studying economic empowerment. She said, “where women [have always been] fairly represented as owners and managers and it's not only being undervalued by government, but targeted for replacement by a government-run system.” That is a quote from Andrea Hannen from the Association of Day Care Operators of Ontario.

Does the member support the Liberal $10-a-day program's plan to eliminate women-owned child care businesses?

Canada Early Learning and Child Care ActGovernment Orders

6:30 p.m.


Leah Gazan NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, like with any business, I certainly am not against a small business; I want to be very clear about that. However, I do believe that public monies need to be used for public, not-for-profit child care. If somebody wants to have a business, I totally support that, but if we are going to use public money, it needs to go into public institutions that are regulated. We know through research, especially when we look at a strategy for workers, that in public, not-for-profit care, workers are generally paid better than they are in private centres where the goal is to maximize profit. That is the reality of the business.

Canada Early Learning and Child Care ActGovernment Orders

6:30 p.m.


Lisa Marie Barron NDP Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her powerful speech, yet again.

My colleague talked about the importance of a strong workforce strategy. I wonder if she can share with us the benefits of a strong workforce strategy to the little ones that she was talking about, which she enjoyed working with so much.

Canada Early Learning and Child Care ActGovernment Orders

6:30 p.m.


Leah Gazan NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, if this so-called feminist government wants to support women, then it has to do whatever it needs to to make sure women can work. We need a workforce strategy to recruit people, which includes money for training, and it includes transfers that ensure livable wages are paid.

This is not just a gender issue in terms of people who are working. It is also a gender issue in terms of limiting women's abilities to return to the workforce. It is a top issue. If we want to talk about affordability, women need the resources so that they can go and work. We are limited by the current national strategy because of the failure of this government to put in place a proper workforce strategy.

The House resumed from February 6 consideration of the motion in relation to the amendments made by the Senate to Bill C-234, An Act to amend the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act.

Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing ActPrivate Members' Business

6:30 p.m.


Rosemarie Falk Conservative Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

Mr. Speaker, Canada's hard-working farmers produce safe and nutritious foods that we depend on to feed our communities. They are vital to our food security. Not only do our farmers feed Canadian families, but also they help feed the world. However, the carbon tax-obsessed Prime Minister and his Liberal government do not value the work our farmers do day in and day out. If the Prime Minister did value their work, the Liberal government would not be hell-bent on imposing a costly and punishing carbon tax on our farmers, threatening the viability of their farm businesses.

My Conservative colleague, the member for Huron—Bruce, introduced what was a common-sense bill to remove the carbon tax from farm operations. The Parliamentary Budget Officer determined that the bill would save farmers $1 billion by 2030. That is $1 billion that the Liberals want to take from the bottom line of our farmers. Without the support of the Liberal government, Bill C-234 did pass through this chamber onto the Senate, but now we find ourselves, in the chamber, considering a gutted bill that would not provide the relief our farmers so desperately need.

It is absolutely shameful that the Prime Minister would use his appointed senators to delay and to gut Bill C-234. This carbon tax-obsessed Prime Minister and his environment minister browbeat senators to bend to their ideological will. That is not how good public policy is developed. The removal of barns and greenhouses from the carbon tax exemption, and the shortening of the sunset clause, stops well short of what this bill was trying to achieve.

To be clear, there was no outcry for any of these amendments from farmers or farm organizations representing them. In fact, it was quite the opposite. Farmers and farm groups from across the spectrum of commodities have been absolutely unified in their support for the quick passage of this bill in its original form, just as the premiers of Saskatchewan, Alberta and Ontario have also been doing. They all understand how punishing the Liberal carbon tax is on Canadians and on our Canadian farmers.

It is also worth noting that the Senate amendments are not even new proposals. The Senate amendments mirror proposals that were already put forward in the House of Commons agriculture and agri-food committee by Liberal members of Parliament. These amendments were rightly rejected. To reintroduce these rejected ideas through an unelected Senate undermines the will of the elected members in the House. The bill, in its original form, recognized the valuable contributions that farmers across Canada are already making to protect the environment.

Canada's farmers are deeply committed to being good stewards of the land. It has always been a cornerstone of farming practices, not only because their livelihoods depend on this, but also because it is in their DNA to care for the work they do. Canada's farmers are world leaders in sustainability and innovation. They are always looking to improve their productivity and to do more with less. Through technology and innovation, our farmers have already reduced their environmental impact, improved their efficiency, and are conserving water and soil.

There is so much to celebrate in Canadian agriculture. I would even argue the Canadian government should be championing our farmers. Instead, the Liberal government is punishing them. It is punishing Canadian farmers with its costly carbon tax that does nothing to protect the environment.

Saskatchewan grain farmers have calculated that grain farmers in Saskatchewan can expect to lose 8% of their total net income to the carbon tax. That is around $8,000 to $10,000 on a 5,000-acre farm.

The carbon tax bills of our farmers are also not small amounts, and they are certainly not offset by a rebate. They are paying thousands and tens of thousands of dollars to operate. Of course, we cannot forget the Liberal government is not satisfied with the current rate of the carbon tax; it wants to quadruple it, and that includes for our farmers and for all Canadians.

The government's activist-driven agenda ignores all the evidence that the carbon tax is fuelling the affordability crisis in our country and that it is hurting those who can afford it the least the most, all while doing absolutely nothing to bring emissions down.

The April 1 carbon tax hike will squeeze Canadians even tighter, and it will be an even bigger hit to the bottom line for our farmers. When the operating costs of farm businesses outpace their profits, we absolutely cannot expect that our farm businesses will stay operational. That is a threat to food security in Canada, and frankly, no government should take that lightly.

The fact is that millions of Canadians are already going hungry in our country because they cannot afford the basics of groceries. That is shameful in a country like ours, with an abundance of natural resources, but that is the legacy of the Liberal government and its carbon tax.

While farmers do absorb a lot of costs, and we have heard this before in the House, the reality is that when one taxes the farmer who grows the food, one taxes the trucker who ships the food and one taxes the grocer who sells that food, it is only common sense that Canadians who buy that food are stuck with higher bills at the checkout.

It is disgusting that the Liberal government wants to increase the cost of groceries during an affordability crisis. When two million Canadians visited a food bank in a single month, just last year, the Liberal government's solution is to increase the cost of food. Its NDP coalition partners are fully in support of the April 1 tax hike, a carbon tax that disproportionately impacts our farmers and rural Canadians.

Without the passage of Bill C-234 in its original form, it is a carbon tax that will make it impossible for our farmers to adopt innovative practices when they become available.

At the end of the day, if the Liberal government wants to tax our farm businesses to death, there are no funds left for them to invest in new innovative and sustainable practices. The reality is that their farm operations still require the use of natural gas and propane. It does not make sense to punish them for their reliance on those energy sources when there is no practical or appropriate alternative.

Yesterday marked Canada's Agriculture Day. It was an opportunity to celebrate Canadian agriculture and to show our appreciate for our hard-working farmers and producers. Our farmers need more than platitudes and empty words from the Minister of Agriculture and the Liberal government. They need a government that recognizes and values the contributions our farmers make to our Canadian food security, to our global food security, to our economy and to the environment.

Bill C-234 is an opportunity for every member of the House to put their appreciation for Canadian farmers and farm families into practice. This bill, as amended by the Senate, would undermine the entire purpose, and we must reject the harmful Senate amendments put forward by the so-called “independent” senators and stand up for Canadian farmers and farm families.

I want to urge every farmer watching today to contact Liberal MPs and Bloc MPs, and tell them to reject this carbon tax assault on their farm families, farm businesses and farm operations.

Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing ActPrivate Members' Business

6:45 p.m.


Branden Leslie Conservative Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, before I begin, I would like to wish my amazing wife, Cailey, and our beautiful daughter, Maeve, a happy Valentine's Day. I love them both, and I cannot wait to see them and celebrate.

I am going to speak from the heart a little on this one, it being Valentine's Day. It is something that is extremely close to my heart. I have been involved in the efforts to eliminate the carbon tax on natural gas and propane for grain drying for many years, going back to Bill C-206 in the previous Parliament. I worked for the Grain Growers of Canada prior to this.

This is a good piece of legislation. It should not be political. This is about fixing a policy that does not make sense and that simply punishes our farmers. Grain growers, when they have a wet year, have no choice but to store their grain at the appropriate moisture level. They do this by drying it, and the only sources to do that are propane and natural gas. In just the same way, our livestock producers are forced to use those fuels to heat and cool their livestock operations for the welfare of the animals.

This is a common-sense carve-out that would leave money in the pockets of farmers to reinvest in their own operations, to reinvest in their own communities and to lower the prices of food for Canadians. It amounts to $1 billion; it was the intention of the bill to allow our farmers to maintain that in their pockets. The amended version of this bill removes about $900 million of that, because the Senate gutted it.

Let us just go back through how we got to where we are. This was supported by parties across this chamber, and even some Liberal MPs. It was supported by the Conservatives, the NDP, the Bloc Québécois and even the Green Party members, recognizing the importance of this legislation to Canadian producers and to Canadian consumers. The members acknowledged that this carve-out made sense.

Things got political, though. When it got to the Senate, of all places, that so-called chamber of sober second thought had a whole bunch of political manipulation involved with it that caused absolute mayhem. The fact is that we are in no man's land here, with debate potentially never ending, thanks to the Liberal government and its intrusion into that so-called independent Senate.

The reality is that, after we got through the House, the bill went to the Senate. The senators tried to amend it at the senate committee with the exact same amendments that were tried in this chamber, but the Liberals could not find a dancing partner. All the other parties realized that this is good policy; only the Liberals stood in the way of it.

However, in their back pocket, the Liberals had the so-called independent Liberal, not by name, senators that they could manipulate. In fact, the environment minister even admitted that he called six of them. At our environment committee, I asked for the names of the six senators. He promised to get back to me, and after 49 days, he came back with three names. I guess he forgot, and guessed up, how many senators he tried to corner into moving and passing amendments at the committee stage and at the broader Senate chamber to try to gut this bill.

The Prime Minister's Office and the radical environment minister did everything they and their government could to force the Senate to gut this bill. The environment minister just loves the carbon tax and put his entire credibility and career on the line, saying that he would resign if there was an additional carve-out for farmers. That is how we have arrived at where we are today.

This, from the Liberals, should not be surprising. They are fully committed to a policy that is failing Canadians from coast to coast to coast. This carbon tax scam is raising the price of everything, making us all poorer, making us less competitive and driving down profits for our farmers.

It is not surprising, because this is the Liberal government that called all farmers and small business owners “tax cheats”. The same government voted against a common-sense piece of legislation, Bill C-208, that would have aided in the transfer of farms from one generation of a family to the next. It came up with a crazy idea to reduce the amount of fertilizer we use in this country by 30%, following Europe's lead. Europe is a continent that went from being a net exporter to a net importer of food; it is reliant on other nations for its energy, in this case, terrible aggressors, namely Russia.

We are going down an awful path as it relates to our food and fuel in this country, so it should come as no surprise that the government stands opposed to such common-sense legislation. Frankly, the Liberal record on agriculture and rural issues is horrendous. It is appalling. That is part of the reason I went from being an advocate, working on behalf of farmers as a representative of the industry, to wanting to put my name on a ballot and come here. I thought I could do more from the inside to stand up for our rural communities and farmers. That is what I am proudly doing today and will do every day for the rest of my time in this place.

The government seems to think it can rebrand the carbon tax or the rebate cheques to people and that they will somehow change their minds about this. People know better. They know that the carbon tax is failing them in every facet of their life and simultaneously not reducing emissions. We went from being ranked 58th to 62nd in the world because of our environmental outcomes. We have become worse under this government, yet it stands by its failed policies, which are making us all poor.

I would encourage the Liberal MPs who do not have the opportunity to represent farmers and probably deny them meetings when asked to come and explain their situation, to pick up the phone and call a farmer. I will provide a few phone numbers if they want. It will be the best five minutes of their life when they get the chance to ask them what they think about the carbon tax, or better yet, when they ask them why they are paying a carbon tax on drying their grain, why they are drying grain and why they need temperature-controlled barns. They should ask them what they think of the 5% GST they pay on the carbon tax specifically, the revenue-neutral carbon tax that has just collected an extra 5% for the government, which needs it here in Ottawa for its political pet projects more than Canadian farmers and Canadian consumers do, who are paying higher prices at the grocery store.

They would also be able to tell MPs stories about the innovations and strides that have been made by our producers across this country over the last number of decades. It is hard to recognize a farm from a few decades ago, from the improvements in seed and livestock genetics to the vast improvements in equipment and machinery, the tractors and combines, the data collection and the focus on increased yields while reducing emissions. In fact, we have doubled our production in this country since 1997, while our emissions have stayed the same.

That is what we should be looking at. The emissions intensity of our production in this country is something we should be proud of. We are better than other countries around the world at growing food. It is something we should be standing up for. We should be taking down barriers and roadblocks. We should be enabling trade. We should be enabling our producers to sell their products around the world at a profit to reinvest in their own operations and communities. Instead, we focus on anti-competitive measures that push businesses south of the border and make it harder for farmers to make a living in this country.

Our farmers, of all types, are the true conservationists. They are the ones on the ground. They are the ones focused on making sure that their land is better off when they leave it than how they found it, because it makes sense. It is common sense for them to make sure they can maximize production on their land. This land is passed down from generation to generation. They are proud of it, and they want to protect it.

At the end of the day, there is no good reason to support this gutted bill. The farmers know that. Every member in the House absolutely should know that. It should not be about politics. It should not be about the Liberals deciding that 3% of Canadians should get a break on the carbon tax on their home heating oil while our farmers have to pay more because of the Liberals' political hides being on the line.

This is good legislation, as drafted and unamended, to save farmers $1 billion. I urge my colleagues of all political stripes to listen to our farmers and the organizations that represent them, do the right thing, pass this bill without the Senate amendments and send it immediately back to the Senate, which should also do the right thing and pass this legislation as Parliament has asked it to.

Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing ActPrivate Members' Business

6:50 p.m.


Damien Kurek Conservative Battle River—Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, as always, it is an honour to stand in this place and defend and work hard for the people of Battle River—Crowfoot and, specifically, tonight, the hard-working farmers from east central Alberta and coast to coast.

I would be remiss if I did not say a very happy Valentine's Day to my sweetheart Danielle. I am not sure if she is watching, but I love her and I hope that she and those three boys are able to enjoy Valentine's Day back in Alberta.

We are talking about Bill C-234, a common-sense Conservative bill that would eliminate the carbon tax for many of the essential aspects of the work that our hard-working farmers and ranchers from coast to coast pay for and that ultimately drives up the price of their operations.

What is really unfortunate, in this entire process, is that this is where the Liberals lose the plot.

I am honoured to be the fifth generation on my family farm in Alberta's special areas. I know so many classmates and people I have gotten to know across the country since getting elected.

I want to reference, specifically, a young lady named Mady from Saskatchewan. I believe she is 12 years old. She told this story recently in an interview in New York. Her story is an incredible one. She was asked a true-or-false question during a test in school about whether farming was bad for the environment. She knew that the teacher expected the answer to be true. She marked that but put a frowning face beside the answer.

As Mady describes, and I believe she was eight years old at the time, it was this that inspired her and her parents. I have chatted with Mady and her mom. She has had the opportunity to speak to the ministers, the previous minister of agriculture and, I believe, the current Minister of Agriculture, and to advocate for farmers across the country and now even around the world. She knew that it was essential to get the message out about the value, the ability and the solutions that Canadian agriculture brings.

Where the Liberals lose the plot is summed up in a bumper sticker. I know that the Liberals hate when we use slogans, but this is not something that I created. This is something that I have seen on bumper stickers and the back windows of many trucks, minivans and tractors across my constituency. It is: “No farmers. No food. Know farmers. Know food.”

This is where the Liberals have lost the plot. They are blaming the very people and they are punishing the very people who are able to solve the problem that our country faces.

I received an email just the other day from a local food bank operator in Flagstaff County. Lynn told me I could share this story. She shared how tragic it was that there were a number of instances where, when individuals come into the food bank, they are lying about the number of people in their homes and where they live.

One would say, “That is not good.” It is never good to lie, right? We are taught that. One has to ask why they are lying. It is because they are hungry. These people, these families, are hungry. In some cases, they are so hungry that they have no choice but to go from food bank to food bank in order to be able to feed themselves.

Where the Liberals have lost the plot is that they blame farmers and believe that punishing them and all Canadians is the solution to somehow helping those individuals who are, in some cases, starving, as Lynn shared with me just the other day.

Instead, the solution is very simple, if one reduces costs for those who produce the food. Like I mentioned the other day, at every step of the food supply chain, one can reduce, ultimately, the price of food for Canadians. That is where we are. We have a simple, common-sense solution. We can get Bill C-234 across the finish line, as it was intended, and allow farmers to get to work, so they can reduce the price of food, and Canadians can afford to eat.

However, the problem is that we saw unprecedented political manipulation by the Prime Minister, the Liberals, and the criminal, socialist, activist of an excuse of an environment minister that we have. This was manipulation at an unprecedented scale, showcasing how the so-called independent Senate is anything but.

We saw the Liberals' carbon pricing scheme, which is now admittedly a failure. In fact, just today they announced they are rebranding it; it is so misunderstood. They do not even trace the emissions that it has reduced because they cannot see that it has even helped the environment in this country. Can members imagine an environmental platform that does not help the environment? What kind of absurdity is this?

We see that the Liberals saw that their carbon tax scheme was falling apart and that the scam was being seen for what it truly is: a scam. The Liberals put on the full-court press and pushed the Senate to pass a number of amendments that gutted the bill. It would have been common-sense relief to farmers. They could have worked at lowering the price of food for all Canadians, but instead, they played politics with the hungry stomachs of Canadians. That is the sad reality. As a result, we are seeing the consequences.

The simple fact of the matter is that if the coalition that is ruling this country would agree to pass Bill C-234, unamended, we could get to work and could see that amended.

For all the farmers and producers watching, the question is simple. They should reach out to their Liberal, NDP or Bloc member of Parliament. Tell them that it is time to do the common-sense thing and to pass Bill C-234, unamended, so that we can provide that much-needed relief for farmers so that they can do what is truly required to ultimately lower the price of food for Canadians.

We have heard from all parties, I believe, this week about Canada's Agriculture Day. It is interesting that there is only one party in this country that truly stands for our hard-working farmers and ranchers, and that is the Conservative Party. Here is the offer I would make, as a farmer and a parliamentarian, as somebody who cares deeply about the agricultural sector and about the hunger crisis that has been caused by the Liberals, the failed carbon tax, the inflation and all the dynamics leading to that; let us get to work to pass Bill C-234. We can show Canadians this thing called “leadership”.

My fear is that the Prime Minister, the Leader of the NDP who is just as weak and, it seems, just as corrupt because he is certainly propping up the corruption of the Liberals, and the members of the Bloc Québécois, seem clueless as to how they are impacted by this carbon tax, by the national mechanisms associated with it and by the national impact associated with it.

Let us pass Bill C-234 in its original form, and demonstrate to Canadians that common sense still exists in this country for the thousands of farmers I represent, who depend on common sense for their daily operations. I see a number of rural MPs. In fact, I think everybody who seems to be left in this debate represents at least part of a rural constituency.

Common sense rules on the farm. It rules in rural Canada, so let us see common sense rule in this place so that we can bring home lower food prices for Canadians. The question is simple: Will those other parties pass Bill C-234 to bring home lower prices and axe the tax?

Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing ActPrivate Members' Business

7:05 p.m.


Tom Kmiec Conservative Calgary Shepard, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Senate amendments to Bill C-234 have drastically changed the contents of the original bill that this House passed with support from multiple parties. It would basically have reduced the tax bill for farmers by about a billion dollars, savings that would have been passed on to my constituents whose greatest relationship with farmers is when they go to the grocery store to buy Canadian produce, Canadian goods that they need to eat. Now these things will not be cheaper because the government seems intent on making sure amendments that the government engineered on the so-called independent Liberal senators are now being reflected in a bill that would remove exemptions for barns and greenhouses, and changes the original sunset clause.

That is pretty typical of the government's actions. It does by stealth what should be done in public, transparently. The government should own the changes it is making to the legislation, but it does not want to do that. I would be embarrassed as well if I were trying to take food out of the mouths of people all over the country. Food banks have reported record-high numbers of Canadians using them to feed their families. The bill before us was intended to lower the cost of groceries.

For all of those people in the riding of Calgary Shepard who are going to be watching this, I say that the bill would lower their bills. It would lower grocery bills. It would lower their Costco bill. People go to the East Hills Costco or the Heritage Costco. Many people in my riding go to the Okotoks Costco because it is actually closer than most of the other Costco stores and grocery stores in my area. However, the Liberals seem to be fully intent on making sure that the carbon tax has the maximum impact on the monthly budget of my constituents, for the worse, not for the better.

None of these farmers gets a rebate of any sort to offset some of the costs of their farm operations. That is the economic damage that the Parliamentary Budget Officer calculated. Even with the rebates, everybody in Alberta is going to be worse off, or is worse off as of now, because of the carbon tax.

The bill would not address that, but it would at least relieve some of the pain that farmers are feeling. Some of them have a thousand dollars or tens of thousands of dollars extra per month in bills; it depends on the particular farm operation. What we know is that the vast majority of farmers are supplying goods, produce and food, that people in Canada are going to eat, and they are going to be more expensive unless the bill passes without the terrible Senate amendments.

We have heard other members say that the environment minister made phone calls to senators. The Prime Minister, according to media reports, was reaching out to so-called independent Liberal senators to get them to amend the bill and force it back to the House, delaying it and therefore delaying lower grocery prices in our stores.

After eight long years, people in my riding just cannot afford this anymore. They cannot afford the Prime Minister's carbon tax. The rebate is not helping in any way, shape or form. We know from the Parliamentary Budget Officer, as I said, that bills are up; they are higher, and it is doing damage to the economy.

The Liberals seem to think that he who cannot pay should learn to pray, to paraphrase a Yiddish proverb. That is essentially what they are saying to everybody in my riding and to every single farmer out there who is now going to be struggling to figure out how they can make their farm operation profitable for another year. How can they keep it running to be able to pass it on to their kids for the next generation? Is it even worth it? Countless members of the House have given examples of farmers who are set to give up. They just do not see how they can make their farm operation work with crushing bills that continue to get higher.

I hope everybody is learning how to pray, because that is essentially the message the Liberal government is sending to everyone. The Liberals just do not care. They are fine with putting a $1-billion bill on the backs of farmers, expecting them to pass it on to consumers. Consumers will then do the logical thing when they cannot afford food: They are going to buy less food, and then they are going to go to the food bank to make up the difference, because they have to eat. It is a necessity, so that is what is going to happen. They seem to be fine with that on that side of the House.

I thought there had been consensus that the original version of Bill C-234 was the right bill and that this House had told the Senate that we wanted it in a particular format. On spending and tax matters, it is not up to the Senate to tell us, the representatives of the people, elected every four to five years depending when the federal elections are, that people do not get the credit, tax relief or spending measures we wanted.

That is not the Senate's job. Its job, when it comes to bills such as this on the reduction of costs, on taxes and on tax credits, and especially getting rid of the carbon tax, should be to get out of the way. This House should vote down these Senate amendments. We should go back to the original version of Bill C-234, and the Senate should pass it expeditiously.

I have not had a single constituent tell me that they think it is a great idea to keep paying high grocery bills. Nobody has told me that Bill C-234 should have serious amendments to eliminate things such as barn heating and greenhouses. They would also question, and many residents in my riding have, such things as why people with home heating oil in eastern Canada get a discount, but people in my riding who heat with natural gas do not get one on their natural gas bills or their really high carbon tax bills.

They see the politicization of this and the temporary nature of the heating oil suspension on the carbon tax, which is now very similar to what is going to happen with these Senate amendments in Bill C-234. In three years, it would go back up. Even if this passes, what happens then? There could be a federal election by then. This is essentially the same game the government is playing, but it is using its so-called independent Liberal senators to get through this difficult period. We see it in the polls.

I see the polls too. I do not pay attention to them very closely; the only ones that matter are those on voting day. However, I know the Liberals are probably panicking. They are about 16 or 19 points behind, depending on the poll one looks at. Farmers and people in my riding, and there is a great Yiddish word for it, are farharghet. It is a way to say exhausted and worn out. They are worn out by this debate on the carbon tax. It is obviously causing damage throughout the economy, and it has raised the prices of basic goods and necessities. They are farharghet; they are tired of having this debate continue when we know that people want the tax to be axed. They want the carbon tax to go away in full.

The Liberals refuse to do that. I invite them to call a federal election. Let us have one right now. We will call it the “axe-the-tax election”, and Canadians can make up their minds. They can decide which side is correct. Do they want high grocery prices or not? In the meantime, we should get rid of these Senate amendments, send the bill back to the other place and have it pass the original bill. It is a tax-and-spend measure. Constitutionally, the Senate has no right to do this.

I have a lot of ranchers and farmers who actually choose to retire in my riding. It is an affordable place to live compared with some other places in Alberta and throughout Canada. A lot of the condos are actually filled with farmers who retired to be closer to their families. Their farm operations continue with their kids, but they have chosen to retire somewhere small. Their daughters and their sons continue the operations. They like to travel. They have earned it. After 30 or 40 years of farming or ranching, they have earned a bit of rest.

Everybody back home in my riding of Calgary Shepard, and throughout Calgary, should all start calling senators and members of Parliament. They do not have to call me; I am already convinced. I am good. I will vote the way my constituents want. However, they should be calling Liberal and NDP members of Parliament in Alberta, and they should let their views be known politely. They should tell their friends, co-workers and suppliers to call MPs and senators, telling them to pass this bill without the Senate amendments and return it to the original version.

Taxpayers, Canadian voters and farmers deserve a billion-dollar break on their bills, on their groceries, at the end of the month. Grocery prices will come down thanks to bills such as Bill C-234, and it has to happen. As I said, my constituents arefarharghet. It is an exhausting debate to keep having to convince Liberal MPs and the others in the coalition, the NDP, that this will lead to lower grocery prices; the carbon tax has been punishing them for years now.

I hope members on the other side will see the righteousness of the cause, pray on it and vote down these Senate amendments.

Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing ActPrivate Members' Business

February 14th, 2024 / 7:10 p.m.


John Brassard Conservative Barrie—Innisfil, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is really unfortunate that we are here tonight debating what is effectively a gutted Bill C-234.

Just to remind everyone at home, this bill would have provided a billion dollars' worth of relief to farmers in this country by exempting them on the carbon tax. In fact, members may recall that this bill passed through the House with all of the opposition parties voting for it. There were five Liberal members who voted for it, but the rest of the Liberal caucus voted against it, and it is unbelievable that they would actually vote against carbon tax relief for Canadian farmers and farm families who produce and create so much food security in this country. I think it was frankly an embarrassment to see this go on during that time.

However, the worst part about it was that it went through the House, as I mentioned, and it passed, so it went to committee. The Liberal members of that committee tried to move amendments in committee that were rejected by the majority of the opposition parties, and the bill ended up at the Senate. The Senate then, as a result of coercion and what some would say were bullying tactics by the radical, extremist environment minister and the Prime Minister, who by media accounts really strong-armed so-called “independent” senators who had been appointed by the Prime Minister, reintroduced those amendments back into the bill, and this is what we are dealing with today.

A billion dollars' worth of relief has been lost for Canadian farmers. I know members have heard this many times, but when we tax the farmer who grows the food and tax the transporter who transports the food, it is eventually the end consumer who ends up paying the cost, and that is what is happening in this case.

Let me tell members about Barrie—Innisfil. I am so fortunate to represent a riding that is a mix of urban and rural, and I would argue that that split is probably about 60-40, but we have farmers in Innisfil who are some of the best environmentally sustainable farmers, if not just across the country, then around the world.

Horodynsky Farms is the largest onion farmer in the country. Boris Horodynsky, who is of Ukrainian decent, uses the most influential technology we can find, drone technology, to make sure his land is sustainable. Kell Farms is one of the largest privately held farms in all of Ontario. We have Wardlaw's Poultry Farm, Barrie Hill Farms and Hewitt Creek Farm. We have some other producers who are greenhouse producers, such as Lakeview Gardens and Bradford Greenhouses. Every single one of those farms I represent in Barrie—Innisfil would be paying more because of what the Senate has done to this bill, complicit with the government.

It is a shame because one of the things we need to focus on, coming out of COVID, and it should be the number one priority in this country, in addition to energy security, is food security. We need to make sure that our producers are producing enough food so that we are not dependent on other aspects of the world, other despot nations or other big countries, bigger countries than Canada, for food.

This food security is being threatened. Those farms I described before, along with Eisses Poultry Farm, which is a chicken farm in my riding, are multi-generational farms, and the more these costs increase for these farms and farm families, the more at risk they are going to be in providing that food security for our nation.

The risk will come from industrialized farms, the big conglomerates. We have a couple of them here in Canada, but there are those farms globally. What happens when these farms no longer exist in this country? What happens when these farm families are put at risk as the result of an ideological attack by the government with its imposing and implementing the carbon tax? It puts all of our food security at risk. This is not to mention the fact that it increases costs, and I know many of the speakers before me have talked about that.

I will give an example. I was thinking about this as I was preparing for this discussion tonight. Earlier today, I had what every Canadian has had. Many members probably had it for lunch today. I had a clubhouse sandwich, and I looked at the ingredients of that clubhouse sandwich. I looked at the whole wheat bread, as I am trying to eat healthy, the tomatoes and the bacon, which came from pigs in those heated barns and is now going to cost more. I also looked at the lettuce, which is grown in those greenhouses and is now going to cost more as a result of paying to heat those greenhouses.

All of those costs are going to be added on. It will be an extra $910 million cost to the farmers as a result of the Senate amendments that have come back to this place. It is going to cost every Canadian family more, at a time when food insecurity is at its greatest. We are hearing that two million people are going to the food bank every month in this country because they cannot afford the cost of groceries, and seniors are walking into the Stroud I.G.A. or the Zehrs at Big Bay Point, looking at the food and at the price, and then putting the food back because they cannot afford it.

The government and its complicit senators are putting at risk that food security. They are putting at risk the ability of Canadians to be able to afford food.

As I said at the outset, this is not a controversial bill. In Atlantic Canada, we have seen a carve-out, because it was politically expedient for the Liberal government to carve out the carbon tax and allow an exemption because they were feeling the political heat of the cost of the carbon tax in Atlantic Canada.

What the member for Huron—Bruce did by proposing this bill was to provide that relief for those farmers who are producing our food and are producing food security. I do not think it is too much to ask. This is why we are here tonight, to talk to the government and the other opposition parties, and to tell them to support the bill in its original form, particularly the opposition parties, because they did, when it was brought to this place. When it went to committee, they voted against those amendments. That is all we are asking for, to be able to provide that relief to Canadian farmers and Canadian farm families.

The other aspect of this is really concerning. I have a restaurant in my riding and I recently spoke to the owner. I was sent their gas bill, and the federal carbon charge was noted on that gas bill. Without giving the name, they sell chickens, they sell a lot of chickens. The federal carbon charge on that bill was $1,413 for one month. Let us assume they work off 10% margins. They would have to sell another $14,000 worth of chicken, plus HST, as I am reminded by our agricultural critic, just to pay the carbon tax.

Now, as I mentioned before, we have Eisses Farm, chicken farms, a large chicken operation, in southwestern Ontario. Every single one of those producers will be paying the carbon tax as a result of the fact that this bill has been gutted in the Senate.

That is going to increase costs, not just for those restaurants, but for every single family in this country who is thinking about buying chicken, fruit, vegetables or anything grown or heated in this country. That is all the member for Huron—Bruce was trying to avoid in this bill. It was to give some relief to the farmers so that the consumers could get some relief at a time when we need relief.

This is not going to stop. This is a radical, ideologically left-leaning, activist government that believes that the carbon tax is the solution to fighting climate change. It is going to go up four times by the time it is done. People are going to be paying four times more. Producers are going to be paying four times more.

I stand here tonight, not just for those farms and farm families, but for every single person that I represent in Barrie—Innisfil, to fight to make life more affordable for them.

Before I stop, I do want to wish my wife, Liane a very happy Valentine's Day.