Madam Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise today to talk about Bill C-30, the budget implementation act.
I realize this will probably be my last speech before an election. Before I get to the budget, I would like to acknowledge that it is an honour to represent the people of Markham—Unionville in Parliament. When I first came to this country over 45 years ago, I barely spoke English and never imagined representing my community on the town council, let alone in Parliament. I want to thank my community for its continued support.
COVID-19 will be an event people will talk about for generations. A virus ground the whole world to a halt and killed millions. No government was truly prepared, and politicians were put in a position where they needed to make important calls quickly instead of waiting years to address the problem. In come countries, politicians rose to the occasion and worked with one another to help their country overcome the pandemic. In other countries, governments kept people in the dark about the pandemic, denied there was a problem and turned every decision into political showmanship. It is clear that Canada was in the second category.
In this budget, the Liberal government is planning to double down on many of its terrible ideas. Instead of focusing on what Canadians need to get back on their feet, the Liberals are looking for ways to spend on their priorities. Of course, those priorities always include making Liberal insiders a boatload of money. So far, the consultant and lobbyist business has never been better for people with a connection to the Prime Minister. The Liberals' priorities are adding billions of dollars to the debt that we cannot afford.
We know that when Liberal MPs defend their Prime Minister's spending spree, they like to slip into technical terms that make it hard to follow. I am going to try to do the opposite and make my points easy to follow.
When I came to this country, I pinched every penny. I was an Indian teen with almost no English, and finding a job was not easy. Every dollar I spent mattered. I made a lot of tough decisions in those days about what I could go without. That meant a lot of cheese sandwiches.
When I started my family, I had to continue making tough decisions. We could not spend more money than we earned. I remember sitting down with my wife Roopa multiple times and deciding to save for the children's education or for rainy days rather than taking a vacation. For us, education was the most important thing. That education included teaching my children about budgeting.
I believe that the hard decisions I made with Roopa at the kitchen table paid off. My eldest child, Rohin, is a physician now, and I could not be more proud of his success. The savings I put aside when he was still a baby helped him afford his medical education. His wife Preoli is a dentist with a very similar story.
My other son, Tarun, went to university and now works in the provincial government. He also used what he learned in school in business. My daughter Shalin was recently accepted into a law program. All of these events proved to my wife and me that saving had been the right choice. We had gone without many of the things we wanted, but we had the money we needed when tuition was due for our children.
I know that Liberals hate it when Conservatives compare balancing the budget with balancing the household. The Liberals say that it is much more complicated than that. While the federal budget is more complicated, the basic facts remain the same.
When money is borrowed, someone is on the hook for it. That may come as a shock to some members of this House. Every time there is a vote in this House to spend money, I think about who pays. Years ago when people talked about the budget, they would say that the government should overspend in the bad years to stimulate the economy, and in the good years the government should pay off the debts. That way, the next time things took a turn for the worse, there would be money ready to stimulate the economy again.
The Liberal government has abandoned that way of thinking. It wants Canadians to believe that no government has to pay anything back, that through careful planning the government could juggle the debts forever and have all the benefits of overspending with none of the drawbacks. It is a terrible plan.
COVID-19 proved that governments need to have room to spend. Without government support, many Canadians would have been bankrupted by COVID-19. I know that even with some government support, many small businesses did not make it.
The pandemic has raised our debt to new heights. When we vote on spending money in Parliament, we need to remember that we must be ready for the next crisis. That means not spending more than we can afford now.
The Minister of Finance has said:
Canada is a young, vast country, with a tremendous capacity for growth. This budget would fuel that. These are investments in our future and they will yield great dividends. In fact, in today's low-interest rate environment, not only can we afford these investments, it would be shortsighted of us not to make them.
That it would be “short-sighted of us not to make them” is an interesting statement. I wonder if the Minister of Finance can name a time when spending more than we have was short-sighted. The Liberal government seems to believe that more spending is always necessary. Just look at the promise the Prime Minister made in 2015: that the budget would be balanced in no time, with just a couple of small deficits and then smooth sailing. The promises of responsible spending have been nothing more than hollow words.
I am going to get back to who pays. Most Canadians probably do not realize how much Canada is paying for its borrowing. Even with low interest rates, it is well over $20 billion. The Prime Minister's plan to add more to our national debt than all previous prime ministers combined will grow the interest payments to new heights.
The Prime Minister told everyone that budgets balance themselves. If he is still under this belief, let me assure him that this is not the case. When we do nothing to tackle the debt and spending, things get worse. People are told to avoid these sorts of debt traps in their personal life. The Liberals think adding historically high debt is responsible. Their plan requires Canadians to think that debt is a problem far into the future, that Canadians will be okay with giving debt to the next generation. For me, that is unacceptable.
I came to this country for a better life. I knew this was a place where people could raise a family and have their children succeed. The last thing I would want to do is hand them a debt bomb that they and their children will need to deal with.
When I talk to Markham residents, I hear the same thing. People work very hard so that their children will have a better life than they have. They do not want to set up their children for hard times.
A debt crisis always ends in hard times with either tax hikes or cuts to services, or both. The new taxes in the budget are puny compared to the spending. To raise the money needed to put a dent in the debt, the Liberals would need to double some of these taxes every year.
Liberal tax hikes make it more unaffordable to support a family. Canadians cannot afford to pay more. Some people think inflation is a solution, but that is a mistake. It is a tax on everything, and it will make it even harder to borrow money.
The other option of cutting services has been done before. In the nineties, the Liberal government, in the middle of a debt crisis, went to the bank to borrow money, but no one was interested in lending it to them. To get their books in order, the Liberals took a chainsaw to government spending. One of the things they cut was the health care spending. The effects of those cuts are still felt to this day. Does anyone think health care in Canada can take another cut? I do not.
I was shocked, like many Canadians, that health care was not a huge part of this budget. Emergency rooms across the country were stretched to their limit over the past two years. Essential surgeries were put off because hospitals were COVID-19 hot spots. It takes a long time to deal with the backlog of the procedures.
The provinces need help from the federal government to address health care, but the Liberals do not seem to care. This mess can be fixed. The way to get ahead of the debt problem is to get the spending under control now. The government cannot kick this problem down the road.
This budget and plan for the future will create more problems and make life more difficult for Canadians in the future. That is why I will be voting against this budget.