Madam Speaker, I am pleased that the drama lessons on this side of the House are paying off.
I am pleased to rise and speak to the 2017 budget that was tabled in the House on Wednesday, March 22.
During the election—and everybody knows this, including members on this side of the House—the Liberals went door to door promising they would run a small temporary deficit of $10 billion for two years and would then balance the budget in 2019. In 18 months, the Liberals have given Canadians a debt of $100 billion and no plan to balance the budget. Even if they started to try right now, they would not balance the budget until 2055. They have missed the target by 38 years.
Since budget 2016 was tabled, the Liberals have failed to deliver on a majority of the allocated infrastructure funds. Ninety-five per cent of the announced infrastructure projects are still not under construction.
As the critic for infrastructure, communities, and urban affairs, I had hope and optimism for budget 2017. I really thought the government had a chance to introduce a new infrastructure plan, a plan that would actually get infrastructure projects built instead of just announcing and reannouncing them; a plan that included transparency measures to ensure Canadians could clearly see where the infrastructure funds were going and how their tax dollars were being spent; a plan that included performance measures, a framework to measure progress and to ensure that the promised announcements were actually creating jobs and growing the economy; a plan that included clear funding commitments for Canadian municipalities; a plan that was transparent and accountable. After two parliamentary budget officer reports that identified these shortfalls, a Senate committee report that identified these shortfalls, two independent reports that identified these shortfalls, we see budget 2017 has included none of these measures. What we have is a back-ended budget. Canadians must wait. They must wait for child care dollars, housing, and transit projects.
The Liberal government is the government of announcements and reannouncements.
Several initiatives that support the most vulnerable will not start this year. They will not start next year. In some cases, they will not start until after 2022, well after the next election.
Let us just leave that piece for now.
I would like to switch gears for a moment and discuss infrastructure banks. Both the Prime Minister and the minister stated that we needed desperately to set up an infrastructure bank. Why? It was to leverage private sector dollars.
In 2009, the Conservative government set up PPP Canada specifically to leverage private sector dollars for infrastructure, and it worked. We leveraged almost $7 billion. The infrastructure is in place, the expertise is in place, and there is a proven record of success. Why does the government need to take $15 billion from Canadian communities, from rural communities, from projects that have already been announced and reannounced? In fact, $1.3 billion in committed funds from PPP Canada was already leveraged in public infrastructure.
As well, last August, during the Prime Minister's visit to China, he announced that Canada intended to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. This is an institution, backed by the Chinese government, is based out of Beijing, and it is specifically designed to build infrastructure projects in Asia. Upon its inception in 2014, both the Conservative government and the Obama administration decided that this bank was not the best way to use taxpayers' dollars, and both administrations decided to decline joining the bank.
Fast-forward to 2017, and it is clear that times have changed. This clearly shows where the Liberal government's priority is, so it was no surprise that this budget included $256 million committed from Canada for the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. However, what the budget conveniently left out is that Canadians will actually be on the hook for approximately $1.3 billion if the projects default, not just the $256 million that had been promised. Nowhere in the budget is this mentioned.
Going back to Canadian infrastructure, 95% of the announced infrastructure projects in Canada have not started construction. Instead of focusing on building projects here at home, the government is spending billions of dollars to build roads and bridges in Asia. Canadians need a government that is focused on their needs first, not spending their hard-earned taxpayer dollars overseas. Note that Liberal commitment spending outside Canada has exceeded $9 billion. The Liberal government members excel at telling Canadians how much they are spending on infrastructure, how they are creating jobs, how they are growing the economy, and how they are growing the middle class. Words are only words if there are no actions to back them up.
Furthermore, budget 2017 announced that the public transit tax credit will be eliminated starting July 1, 2017, Canada's 150th birthday. This common sense tax credit makes public transit more affordable for low-income workers, for students, and for seniors. In the budget, the Liberals have taken away the public transit tax credit that helps make public transit more affordable for Canada's most vulnerable. Their argument was that this tax did not help low-income Canadians because those who make less than $12,000 per year could not use the credit. Today we heard from another parliamentary secretary that the tax credit was for the rich. This is astounding, because I have never seen billionaires take a bus.
The rationale for slashing the tax-free savings account was that it was only for rich people. In my riding, seniors, the disabled, and youth are the ones using the TFSA and transit passes.
The Liberals took away income splitting, which allowed parents to stay home with their children, because it was only for the rich. This is a similar Liberal brain trust that believes “budgets will balance themselves”.
I now want to go back to my earlier point. There is a significant disconnect between Liberal announcements and reality, and let me give some examples. Page 120 of the budget lists five upcoming transit projects across Canada. On the list is the Vancouver Broadway subway project in the Lower Mainland, which I would note has no dollar figures attached, nor do any of the five transit projects. Just two hours after the budget was announced, the mayors said that the federal government had told them that $2.2 billion is committed toward their projects. Where did they get the information, and where are the funds coming from?
The budget states there is no new public transit spending this year, and most of the new public transit dollars will not flow until 2018-19. It is funny; that is just in time for the next federal election. The truth is that the Liberals will use existing Conservative infrastructure programs and the stacking of other green infrastructure programs to fund these projects, which is to the detriment of other promises they have made to Canadians.
Furthermore, this “announce now but delay funding” budget is not just related to public transit but also social infrastructure. When it comes to day care, billions of dollars were announced in the budget, but none of these new dollars will be forthcoming this year and 70% of the new money will not be spent until after 2022. The same thing goes for affordable housing.
As I am running out of time, I would also like to point out that there is no new funding in the 2017-18 budget for early childhood learning and child care, homelessness, home care infrastructure, housing research, northern housing, or indigenous programs, and there is no mention of funding for the RCMP or the Canada Border Services Agency at all.
I note that the Liberal government has allowed nearly $1 billion in infrastructure funding in 2016 to lapse. That means the government is unable to fund announced projects.
I could go on, because the budget is very thick, and on each and every page there is something missing, but I have run out of time.