IN THE HOUSE – Pandemic supports – CERB

44th Parliament, 1st session 

Mr. Speaker, I always appreciate hearing from my colleague and friend from Niagara West. He knows I have a lot of respect for him.

I have two questions that I think are very relevant. The member spoke of the tourism industry. We know that the pandemic continues to have economic impacts, yet the Liberal government is cutting the CRB within a matter of weeks, from $500 a week to $300 a week, which is far below the poverty line.

What does the member think the impact of that will be, when people are trying to put food on the table and have almost 50% less to do it with, even though they still cannot get back to their jobs because of the ongoing impacts of the pandemic?

Also, many profitable companies used the wage subsidies for dividends and for big executive bonuses. Does the member believe that those profitable companies should be paying back the wage subsidy? In that way, we could afford to make sure that the CRB continues at the rate of $500 a week.

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her speech.

I know there are people in her riding who still need the Canada emergency response benefit, which is set at $500 per week. The NDP lobbied hard for that amount. The government is about to reduce it from $500 to $300 per week. That means the people still receiving it will dip below the poverty line.

I have a simple question. How will this drastic reduction in the CERB affect her constituents, especially at a time when variants are spreading and COVID‑19 is still with us?

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Mr. Speaker, yes, I do that every year. It is fundamental that we support organizations in our community that do good work.

In the past, I have flagged in the House the Burnaby Firefighters Charitable Society, the New Westminster Firefighters Charitable Society, Caring During COVID in Burnaby, Helping Hands in New Westminster and many other organizations across the country that are struggling with this pandemic.

That is why we need to provide supports to people and families, and make sure that seniors and people with disabilities and students are taken care of. This is why I am so critical of the government. The Liberals should not be saying that the charitable sector can just pick that up. If they can give $750 billion in liquidity supports to Canada's big banks, they can make sure every Canadian is taken care of.

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Mr. Speaker, the member for Vancouver East is just an extraordinary member of Parliament, speaking out on behalf of not only her constituents but also people right across the country.

The member points out that so many people are concerned about this dramatic cut the Liberal government wants to bring in. Five hundred dollars a week is certainly not a sinecure. Five hundred dollars a week is just getting by. It is making sure they have a roof over their head, hopefully, and food on the table. Slashing it to below the poverty line at a time when Canadians desperately need it is simply the most mean-spirited cut that one could possibly imagine at this time.

The NDP tabled amendments and tried to push them through the finance committee. The Liberals have continued to say no. Their thinking is that they have taken care of banks and they have taken care of everything. Canadians' voices need to be heard. These cuts should not take place. The government should roll back on that and ensure that Canadians can get through the pandemic. We will continue to fight to make that so.

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Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her very pertinent question.

The NDP has been campaigning against oil subsidies for years. As my colleague knows, we have been campaigning across the country not just against these subsidies, but also against the TransMountain pipeline, which crosses my riding.

We have asked the Parliamentary Budget Officer several times to give us an assessment of the increased construction costs for this pipeline, as well as its lack of viability. The Parliamentary Budget Officer said that the government would never turn a profit on this pipeline, which will continue to swallow up taxpayers' money for years to come. The government refuses to listen—

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Mr. Speaker, I appreciated the member's presence at the finance committee today. This is something that should be on the front page of the Globe and Mail and the National Post if they were actually covering important issues like this. We have databases that are publicly accessible of thousands of Canadian companies and individuals. CRA admits that they have never prosecuted a single one. This is a litany of failures. We have had the national revenue minister get up in the House of Commons and say that they are taking care of it, when we know for a fact that there has never been a single prosecution.

I think the failures of the government are evident to everybody. There has been a hemorrhage of $25 billion a year. That is an incredible cost to our economy, communities, people's quality of life and Canadian families. It is at an enormous cost, yet the government has not tabled a single piece of legislation to provide the tools for the CRA to prosecute. It is simply doing nothing to stop the—

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Mr. Speaker, the member for Yukon always has thoughtful questions. He knows as well as I do, I am sure, that the issue of social bonds stems from Jack Layton and the NDP's green bonds. We brought them forward through a number of election campaigns. In fact, the member might recall that back in 2011 that was a major part of what the NDP put forward. Canadians could invest in that transition to clean energy, the green new deal, ensuring hundreds of thousands of jobs.

The building trades estimate that over the next four decades up to three million new jobs will come from investments in clean energy and the clean energy economy, so the green bonds issue was the inspiration. The social bonds are something that is much smaller in scope and scale.

I think it is fair to say that, given the challenges that we face, we need to be bold. We need to be looking to solutions that actually make a difference in Canadians' lives

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