This is the text of MP Brassard’s April 25th speech in the House of Commons.
Click here to watch the video:
Madam Speaker, I am really pleased to get up this afternoon on the first day back after a couple weeks back in our ridings to speak about the budget. It reminds me of that old adage that people of integrity expect to be believed, and when they are not, time will prove them right.
Time is certainly proving us right on predictions that were made a year and a half to two years ago when the money-printing machines were going at full force to provide the types of supports that were needed for COVID. There were predictions at that time on this side, and right across the spectrum economists were predicting that inflationary pressures would actually begin to increase, and we are now seeing those inflationary pressures affecting Canadian families in a way that they have not for a generation.
I have been in my riding for the last couple of weeks, as all members have, and received emails, phone calls and text messages from the people of Barrie—Innisfil who are quite concerned about the inflationary pressures that are happening within my community and in communities across Canada. This morning I happened to be watching the finance committee, and the governor of the Bank of Canada, Tiff Macklem, was on there. He was asked a point-blank question by our shadow minister of finance: “Can we still consider inflation as transitory?” His answer was “No”.
We are entering into a period of permanent inflation, it seems, and we know, based on Statistics Canada, last month it was at 6.7%. Members can think of the impact that has on Canadian families and the families I represent in Barrie—Innisfil. The price of everything is skyrocketing. The prices of gas, home heating, consumables, groceries, commodities and the necessities of life are increasing dramatically right across this country, and the expectation is, according to the governor of the Bank of Canada, that this inflationary period we are in is going to be lasting for a long time. This is going to further impact families’ affordability, further erode their retirement savings and really dramatically impact their ability to pay for things, especially at a time when they can least afford it.
We heard, even in the last couple of weeks, in some of the surveys that came out about how Canadians are desperately clinging to affordability. In many circumstances, over half of Canadians do not have enough money at the end of the month to pay for the necessities of life they need.
This budget actually increases government spending. There are certain things that are sure in life, and the one thing we can count on is that this budget is going to pass. Because of the coalition between the NDP and the Liberals, the New Democrats have signalled they are not only going to support this budget, but they are also going to support subsequent budgets. We can sit here and criticize, and I do have some things that I want to bring up specifically related to the budget as it relates to local issues in my riding of Barrie—Innisfil, but when we want to get an assessment of what people think about this budget, we certainly can go to the experts.
People do not have to us; they do not have to listen to the government or the other opposition parties. They can listen to what those respected economists are saying about this budget and the impact it is going to have on Canadians. Howard Anglin wrote of Don Drummond, who is a former senior Department of Finance official, former TD Bank chief economist and current Queen’s professor:
He said: “If I were in the business world I’d be extremely depressed, because we are at some point going to have to turn to how we fund all this spending, and it would seem the go-to funding source is corporate income tax.” It’s the first seven words that caught my eye: “If I were in the business world.”
The problem is, we are all “in the business world,” whether we like it or not—as workers, consumers, and taxpayers. Tax business, and you tax almost everything we consume and most of the services we depend on.
Those services will be hardest hit as a result of this. We have spoken about this many times. The impact of this type of continued spending is that taxes go up and services get cut. It is that simple, especially in a period where we are entering into higher interest rates. Even the—
When the Liberals were out selling the budget and travelling around Canada contributing to greenhouse gas emissions, the Parliamentary Budget Officer issued a report on Friday that was quite troubling with respect to the budget. He flags several downside risks for the recent federal budget, the biggest being big ticket campaign promises that have yet to make an appearance in the government’s fiscal forecast.
There are things in the budget forecasted, but there are things that are not forecasted that are going to cause some significant costs later on. The PBO’s largest concern is expenditures looming outside of the budget including some of the Liberal campaign pledges and lobbying by provinces for big increases to health care transfers.
On the spending side, he said there could be a significant delta. Yves Giroux went on to say some of those election promises were slated to start up in the current fiscal year, most notably a commitment to increase annual payments to seniors receiving the guaranteed income supplement. He said many of these costs including a promised increase to Canadian mental health transfers do not appear in the budget. Universal pharmacare which, of course, is a large part of the NDP-Liberal alliance could cost billions of dollars a year. The Liberals pulled up short in this commitment to a full blown program during the campaign, but the agreement struck with the NDP last month says the government will make continuing progress toward such a program, yet there is no forecasted cost to that. Those costs will come up later on.
When the Parliamentary Budget Officer is warning about this particular budget, then I think all Canadians should heed those warnings. As I said earlier, I spent the last couple of weeks in the riding and I heard from a lot of people.
I know the Liberals’ argument because I have heard it a couple of times this morning, has to do with some of the geopolitical problems that are happening around the world as a cause of current inflation whether it is supply chain issues, but as I said at the onset, this was predicted to happen when the money printing presses were going at full steam a year and a half ago and two years ago.
Even then, people were concerned about the cost of living. Some emails I received August 25, 2021, almost eight months ago, begged me to do something about this if not for them, then for their future children. They need to fix this broken situation as it relates to housing.
Another one from August 25, “I’m not sure who I would send this letter to, but I wish to express my concern with current rental and housing shortages in Barrie and surrounding areas”. This is a serious issue and many people are struggling as a result.
I know there are billions allocated toward housing, but there have been billions allocated in the past and we have not seen any measurable increases.
There are affordability projects right now that are waiting for approval from the government. I wrote a letter to the Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion three or four months ago and still no decision has been made on an already existing project that is waiting to go through the rapid housing initiative and a joint partnership between Simcoe County and what we hope would be the province and the federal government, but yet we have not heard anything to this point.
There are a lot of announcements, but the list is long. The emails and texts are long about the anxiety and the affordability crisis that people are facing right now. Adding on billions and billions of dollars for more long-term, unsustainable programs from across the affordability standpoint to Canadians is awfully difficult.
The last thing I will say is my profound disappointment about Lake Simcoe. In 2019, Conservatives were promised $30 million for the re-establishment of the Lake Simcoe cleanup fund. Just two or three days before the election in the advance polls, the then deputy Prime Minister, now finance minister, came to the shores of Lake Simcoe promising $40 million for the reinstatement of the Lake Simcoe fund.
Just a couple of days after the election, my colleagues and I wrote a letter to the Prime Minister. In this budget only $19.7 million was allocated not for direct funding for Lake Simcoe, but to be spread across the country. There were $60 million spent to clean up Lake Simcoe. We saw measurable improvements.
I am extremely disappointed that the commitment made in 2019 was not lived up to in this budget. We are going to continue to fight for Lake Simcoe.