Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, a colleague who, like me, was elected in 2000.
I am very pleased to speak to Bill C-86, the Liberal government's budget implementation act, 2018.
When we stand in the House to speak to bills such as this one, we do a synopsis of the bill and ask how it is going to help future generations and how it is going to help right now. Regrettably, the more we look at it, the more we realize there is nothing in this bill that can secure the future of our country for generations to come.
What we have here is a simple continuation of the Liberals' failed policies, especially their failed fiscal policies. There has been deficit after deficit with no end in sight, despite the Prime Minister's promise in the 2015 election that he would only run small deficits. I sincerely hope that in 2019 Canadians will not forget how promise after promise has been broken by the government.
The Liberals promised a very small deficit of $10 billion a year, but what we have now, as revealed by the public accounts for 2018, is a deficit of $19 billion, which as the Auditor General points out is essentially the same amount in percentage as the previous year. Our country's net debt is $759 billion. The net debt is the amount by which the government's liabilities exceed the value of its financial assets and revenue.
The Auditor General also reported that revenues were $313.6 billion, an increase of $20.1 billion over the previous year. What is truly shocking is that the government did not use the increase of revenues to eliminate the deficit, but rather, in true Liberal fashion, continued to increase its program spending.
Why has such grave concern been expressed about the many families across the country who are unable to balance their household budgets and are accumulating debt at an alarming rate, while the Liberal government is unfazed by the national debt that it is mounting?
When we were in government, household debt was one of the biggest concerns to a growing economy. Household debt in Canada increased to 171.3% of gross income in 2018, up from 170.20% in 2017. Household debt continues to increase in our country.
Household debt to income averaged 127.31% from 1990 to 2018, reaching an all-time high of 173.34%. There have to be warnings as to what could happen in the future with household debt increasing in this way, especially as we see our Governor of the Bank of Canada raising interest rates.
We should be very concerned about these statistics, and equally concerned about the national debt, but we also need to be concerned that the government does nothing to address that. The Liberal government must stop borrowing money that other people will have to pay back, including Canadians who are not even born yet.
However, we have a Liberal government that has no plan to get out of debt and no plan to stop overspending. It has no plan to balance the books. It has no plan to start paying down the accumulated national debt. All the Liberal government can manage to do is pay interest on the massive amounts of money it has borrowed.
While it is failing in this regard, and in so many other ways too, this government continues to raise taxes on the middle class. Since 2015, the Liberals have cancelled tax credits and raised CPP and EI premiums. The price of everything continues to rise: transportation, fuel, groceries and rent, and very soon Canadians will be suffering under a carbon tax on everything. That carbon tax will not be used to reduce carbon emissions. Rather, it will be spent by Liberals on their millionaire friends and their pet projects.
The Liberals' so-called new tax bracket to tax the top one per cent of income earners has not worked. After the Liberals hike taxes on the wealthy, we find out the wealthy top one per cent of income earners are actually paying a billion dollars less in taxes per year than they did before the Liberals tried to increase their tax level.
The middle class did not receive any of the revenues from the top one per cent of income earners because there was not enough revenue raised by hiking taxes on the wealthy to pay for the programs and services the Prime Minister implemented. Those programs and services did not lead to real and sustainable job creation within the private sector.
The Liberals bragged about the income and the employment rate, but 11 out of 12 jobs that have been created under the current government are in the public sector; they are government jobs. Let us think on this for a moment. The economy has not given the confidence to the private sector to see massive growth. One new job in 12 is in the private sector, and 11 in 12 are in the public sector.
This is not sustainable. Revenues from the private sector pay for jobs in the public sector. Revenues from public sector jobs do not create more jobs in the private sector, or even in the public sector. Still, the Liberals say there has been a reduction in the unemployment rates this year, and they continue to hire public servants.
The Liberals do not talk about the fact that fewer people are looking for work. Statistics show that two-thirds of the unemployed in Canada are not looking for work anymore but remain unemployed.
On the issue of the public sector, or rather the public service, I would be remiss if I did not talk about the recent observations by the Auditor General of Canada in the 2018 public accounts. The Auditor General, along with the deputy minister for the Department of Finance and officials from the Treasury Board Secretariat, appeared before the public accounts committee, which is a committee I am honoured to chair. As most here today would know, the public accounts committee examines in a non-partisan manner the performance of the public service and the federal departments and agencies in implementing what the government has been ordered to do by the Parliament of Canada.
For the past three years, the Auditor General has been tabling separate documents entitled, for example, “Commentary on the 2017-2018 Financial Audits”. This year, the document includes a section entitled, “The Auditor General's observations on the government's 2017-2018 financial statements”, which was previously provided in the public accounts.
The first observation is on the transformation of pay administration, better known as the Phoenix pay system. The Auditor General noted that as of March 31, 2018, there were 615 million dollars' worth of pay errors. I think back to my meetings in Wainwright, Drumheller, Stettler and Camrose, where massive numbers of federal public employees were expressing their frustrations toward this Phoenix system.
Furthermore, for the last pay period, the percentage of employees with pay errors was 58%, an increase of 7% from the previous pay period. Despite the minister saying that things are getting better and that by October 2018 things will be solved or we will have a real goal that can be accomplished, she is failing. It was 51% last year and 58% this year.
While the government says it is working to solve this horrific problem for public servants, the situation has become worse. As the Auditor General reports, the government underpaid some employees by $369 million and overpaid others by $246 million, and now we are trying to figure out how to claw back that money. This significant number of individual pay errors did not result in a financially significant error in the government's total reported pay expenses, because overpayments and underpayments basically offset each other.
The Auditor General further explained to our committee yesterday that while the government recorded year-end accounting adjustments to improve the accuracy of its pay expenses, it did not correct the underlying problems, nor did it correct the pay errors that continue to affect thousands of employees.
Through budget 2018, the government plans to spend $16 million over two years, beginning in 2018-19, to work with various experts and public servants toward implementing a new pay system. Furthermore, it has committed $431 million over six years beginning in 2017-18 to fix Phoenix.
I have grave concerns, as do some people within the public service, that we do not have the necessary IT expertise to manage complex IT problems like these. These are not being addressed in this budget. People are not being paid. It is unacceptable.