The Bursting Bubble: How We Got Here, How We Get Out
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November 7, 2022
The Empire Club of Canada Presents
The Bursting Bubble: How We Got Here, How We Get Out
Chairman: Sal Rabbani, President, Board of Directors, Empire Club of Canada
Distinguished Guest Speakers
The Honourable Pierre Poilievre, Leader of the Official Opposition of Canada
Dave Forestell, Vice-President, Canada Stakeholder Relations, TC Energy
Kevin Kelly, Chief Financial Officer & Executive Vice-President, Finance, Bruce Power
Head Table Guests
Dany H. Assaf, Co-chair, Competition and Foreign Investment Review Practice Partner, Torys LLP
Peter Quiring, CEO, Nature Fresh Farms and President, South South Essex Fabricating
Lisa Raitt, Managing Director & Vice Chair, CIBC Capital Markets
John Stackhouse, Senior Vice-President, Office of the CEO, RBC
Rebecca Thompson, Vice-President, Public Affairs, Almaos Gold Inc.
It is a great honour for me to be here at the Empire Club of Canada today, which is arguably the most famous and historically relevant speaker’s podium to have ever existed in Canada. It has offered its podium to such international luminaries as Winston Churchill, Ronald Reagan, Audrey Hepburn, the Dalai Lama, Indira Gandhi, and closer to home, from Pierre Trudeau to Justin Trudeau; literally generations of our great nation's leaders, alongside with those of the world's top international diplomats, heads of state, and business and thought leaders.
It is a real honour and distinct privilege to be invited to speak to the Empire Club of Canada, which has been welcoming international diplomats, leaders in business, and in science, and in politics. When they stand at that podium, they speak not only to the entire country, but they can speak to the entire world.
Welcome Address by Sal Rabbani, President, Board of Directors, Empire Club of Canada
Good afternoon. Welcome to the 119th season of the Empire Club of Canada. To our person attendees joining us at the Arcadian Court in Toronto, and our virtual audience joining in live or on demand, thank you for your support. This incredible community of colleagues and peers is the driving force behind our mandate to engage, debate, and advance the dialogue on issues of importance to Canadians.
Welcome. My name is Sal Rabbani, and I'm the President of the Board of Directors of the Empire Club of Canada. And to formally begin this afternoon, I want to acknowledge that we're gathering on the traditional and treaty lands of the Mississaugas of the Credit, and the homelands of the Anishinaabe, the Haudenosaunee, and the Wyandot Peoples. We encourage everyone to learn more about the traditional territory on which you work and live.
I'd like to recognize the Empire Club's distinguished past presidents, board of directors, staff and volunteers. Thank you for your contributions to making this event a success. We're also hosting a table of students from the University of Toronto thanks to the generous support of Bell Canada. I hope you enjoy today's events.
The Empire Club of Canada is a not-for-profit organization, and we'd like to recognize our sponsors, who generously support the club and make these events possible and complimentary for our online viewers to attend. Thank you to our lead event sponsors, Bruce Power, TC Energy; thank you to our VIP reception sponsor, Nature Fresh Farms, and SEF Fabricated Structures; and thanks to our supporting sponsors, BMO, Scotiabank, Spirits Canada, TD; and thank you to our student table sponsor, Bell; and thank you to our season sponsor, Bruce Power.
For those joining us online, if you require technical assistance, please start a conversation with our team using the chat button on the right-hand side of your screen. We're accepting questions from the audience. I now would like to take the opportunity to invite David Forestell, Vice President, Canada Stakeholder Relations, TC Energy, to introduce our guest speakers. Dave, welcome.
Opening Remarks by David Forestell, Vice President, Canada Stakeholder Relations, TC Energy
Well, thank you. It's a real pleasure to be here today. And I want to start by recognizing, Pierre, you did a lot. You did something that a lot of people thought wasn't possible—a lot of Bay Street executives thought wasn't possible—you filled up the downtown core on a Friday afternoon, congratulations. Now, Pierre, before I begin my remarks as a representative of TC Energy, let me just first speak as someone who's known you for 15 years. I'm so impressed by all you've accomplished. I'm proud to call you a friend, and I want to congratulate you on your election as Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada.
At TC Energy, we move about 75 percent of the gas that reaches Canadian homes and businesses. We also move a substantial amount of gas in Mexico and the United States. And in Mexico, we just announced an important new gas pipeline that will reduce emissions, help grow their economy, and reduce poverty.
Developing our domestic energy industry—which means building more pipelines, more nuclear, more energy storage, and much faster than we do today—will ensure that we and our allies have safe, affordable, reliable, and responsibly-produced energy. Energy to fuel our homes and businesses, provide food security, allow us to produce and process critical minerals, and grow our manufacturing sector. And our energy can also play a vital role in the world. Last year, there were 195 coal plants under development or in construction, 90 percent of them in Asia. Canadian LNG can help move the world off coal, with an energy source that produces 50 percent fewer emissions. And liquefied natural gas off the west coast of Canada will be the cleanest LNG product in the world.
So, we at TC have a project under construction right now, Coastal GasLink, where we were proud to sign an equity option agreement with 16 First Nations in British Columbia, allowing them to be true owners in the success of the project. Economic reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples requires their true participation in Canada's resource economy. The projects of the future are going to be built by Indigenous employees, serviced by Indigenous businesses, and owned by Indigenous Nations.
During the course of the leadership campaign, Pierre set out some pretty ambitious objectives. Making Canada energy independent in five years and building more pipelines, a pay-as-you-go budget law that caps new spending, getting rid of the carbon tax, increased new housing across the country. And all of this was underpinned by a guiding principle: fewer gatekeepers would result in greater personal freedom, making Canada the freest country on Earth. So, as I mentioned, I've had the privilege of knowing Pierre for 15 years, first as a member of parliament, then as a cabinet minister. Pierre’s core beliefs, personal freedom and responsibility, smaller government, lower taxes, have never wavered. I've also gotten to know him as a friend, father and husband. He cares deeply about his family, and is so proud of his wife and their children. Today's his first major speech outside of the House of Commons since his election as leader, and it gives me great pleasure to welcome Pierre Poilievre, Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada.
The Honourable Pierre Poilievre, Leader of the Official Opposition of Canada
Thank you very much, David; a long-time friend, someone with whom I have much in common. We joined Conservative politics as tiny Tories about two decades ago. We both married Venezuelans, which injected a lot of passion into our lives, that we tried to bring into business and into politics. And obviously, David has been more successful than I have, but I'm honoured to sit next to him today and to have this introduction from him. Thank you very much, David, for all that you do.
Thanks to all of you in this room. A lot of familiar faces, my old friends from cabinet we have here; we have Lisa Raitt and Tony Clement. Tony was in politics before I was. So, when I got to Parliament Hill, I went to seek some advice from him, and some mentorship. And I went to his office, and I said, ‘how do you succeed in politics? What's the trick?’ And I was obviously a mid-20s know-it-all—as a lot of young men are, they think they know everything and want to tell the world all about it—and I said ‘Tony, what's the trick to all of your success?’ And he had a stuffed fish on the wall that he caught in Lake Muskoka; and he said, ‘Pierre, you see that fish on the wall?’ And I said, yes. He said, ‘if he'd kept his mouth shut, he'd still be alive.’ And it's good advice—sometimes I don't always follow it, but....
Funny that I'm speaking today on this subject the day after the fall economic update. Fortuitous timing, because it gives me an obvious subject to address. You know, about two weeks ago, a strange optimism came over me about the government's direction. They suddenly had an epiphany and started to admit that overspending causes inflation—who knew? And Justin Trudeau even uttered words that would have been anathema to him not so long ago. Two words: fiscal responsibility. I think many people almost hit the floor when they heard him say that—this is Mr. “the-budget-will-balance-itself.” And so, we thought that yesterday, we would see this carried out in practice. They were kind of—but what we saw, what we have seen, is that, you know, to quote the incoming Israeli Prime Minister when he was talking about the problems in that country in the 1990s, he said, ‘the government is like a big fat man on the back of an increasingly skinny man, the private sector, being carried up and increasingly steep hill.’ And we thought that that big fat man—called the Trudeau Government, which has increased in size by 30 percent in the last two years—was about to put himself on a diet. But what we learned was, in fact, he was going to engorge himself at the all-you-can-eat buffet at least one more time.
With 20 billion dollars of new and previously unbudgeted spending and no offsetting savings to match it, and going forward with a plan to triple, triple, and triple the carbon tax on the home heating, the gas and the groceries of everyday Canadians right in the middle of an inflation crisis, when every other country in the G7 is giving Canadian giving their people a break from energy taxes. It's worth asking how we got to this point. How did we get to a point where 1.5 million people visit a food bank in Canada in a month? Where one in five Canadians skip meals or cut portions because they can't afford food. Where we have the highest level of personal indebtedness in Canadian history. And where food price inflation forces people to cut back on eating or go to food banks. And the food bank on the corner of Jane and Finch has to move, because rent price inflation has made it too expensive for them to stay there.Or where we have students that literally live in homeless shelters so that they can afford to study. This is in Canada. How did we get here?
Well, the answer, of course, is that the cost of government is driving up the cost of living, A half-a-trillion dollars of inflationary deficits mean more money chasing fewer goods, which always equals higher prices. Inflationary taxes increase the cost for businesses, farmers and workers to make those goods. The more they spend, the more things cost. And to pay for it all, they not only ran deficits, but they printed money. Now, whenever I say that, I get a group of pointy headed experts who say it's not so simple. You see, quantitative easing is really not money printing. It's really just exchanging government bonds for Central Bank deposits. It's a technical accounting ledger thing; it really doesn't have a lot of consequence in the real economy. It's just something that really clever people who adjust their glasses and their ties at exactly the right time and fold their fingers cleverly over each other when they're talking in rooms and using technical language that nobody understands; they do this stuff called quantitative easing. And because it is two clunky words, one right after the other, that no one should really be concerned about it.
Well, actually, quantitative easing is figuratively money printing, and it is literally money printing. And let's go through it. Because frankly, in downtown Toronto, there have been a lot of people who have contested this point. But I am going to go through it regardless, because it is important to understand how we got here and make sure that we never get here again. So, what happened was, the government was running deficits that they could not borrow from the marketplace, because there were not enough lenders on planet earth that would have lent the half-trillion dollars that Trudeau was borrowing. He also wanted to be able to say he was doing it at record low rates, something that wouldn't have happened if the market mechanism would have allowed supply and demand to move the bond yields up as you would normally expect if the government were borrowing that quantity of cash out of the economy in such a short period of time.
So, what happened was that the Central Bank bought back on the secondary market bonds that the government had only days earlier sold to the market. Now, this is seen as exculpatory among some economists, 'they are not printing money to give it to the government, they're buying these bonds in the secondary market.' That's actually worse. Why? Because what happened is, the government would sell the bond on a Monday, and the Central Bank would buy it back on a Wednesday at a higher price; allowing financial institutions lucky enough to be on the Payments Canada network to arbitrage the difference between the government selling them something at one price and buy and get right back at a higher price. Somebody paid for that arbitrage. And obviously, it is the seller and the buyer, which is, of course, the Canadian taxpayer. Now, how does the Central Bank pay to buy these bonds? Well, it deposits money in the financial institutions accounts that are held at the Bank of Canada. And so, the deposits that the Central Bank had for these financial institutions skyrocketed to about 300 billion dollars from almost nothing, within a couple of years. And those deposits can be turned into hard paper cash. And that is why, first, the money supply went from 1.8 trillion dollars to 2.3 trillion dollars, half-a-trillion dollars, which is almost exactly what the deficit was right? Not a coincidence. And the paper money, the stuff that's printed, went from 90 billion dollars to 124 billion dollars. Both increasing by approximately 27 percent in two years. So, yes, they created cash. And yes, they printed money.
Now, the money that's still on deposit with the Central Bank has created a new problem, right? Because what does the Central Bank pay in interest on those deposits? Well, the policy rate. That wasn't a problem when the rate was 0.25 percent. Well, now it's 3.75 percent. So, the Central Bank bought bonds whose yields were .5 percent. And paid for it with deposits on which it now has to pay 3.75 percent. In other words, they're now losing money on the spread. And for the first time in Canadian history, the Central Bank of Canada needs a bailout of 4 billion dollars a year. And that's just right now. That doesn't take into consideration any additional losses that will happen if they eventually sell those bonds, which are worth less now than when they bought them. Now, this has been very good for the very wealthy, of course. Because, in addition to arbitraging those transactions, this inflationary policy drove up asset prices. So, if you have a 10-million-dollar mansion, and house prices go up by 50 percent, well, you've made 5 million dollars tax-free. If you're the new immigrant who doesn't own any property, the purchasing power of your dollar in terms of real estate has just gone dramatically down. So, it is a massive wealth transfer from the have nots to the have yachts.
Now, a lot of people—I think there might be a few have yachts in this room, I think they're gonna get up and leave, march out of my speech. But listen, let's go through, quickly, all of the excuses we've heard for this policy. One, we had no choice. The Americans were doing it. Well, of course, the Americans were doing it. The Federal Reserve has long printed money to balloon Wall Street, right? We haven't always followed suit. In the 2008-2009 financial crisis, America did quantitative easing. Canada did not. We did not print money; we did not buy government bonds using the Central Bank. We borrowed real money in the real marketplace, and then we rushed to get the budget back to balance, so that we no longer have to do it. And what happened? We kept inflation low. It never exceeded four percent, and we didn't have massive asset bubbles as a result. So, we don't need to do what all of our neighbours are doing. As our mothers told us, just because our friends are jumping off a bridge does not mean that we have to jump off a bridge.
Second—thank you—we're told that they had to spend all this money because of COVID. Well, it is true that COVID cost a lot of money. Government shutdown economies, and we had to compensate workers and businesses for the lost income that they endured. There's no question about that. But we did not have to continue to pay CERB benefits when there were a million vacant jobs and economies were fully reopened. We didn't have to send those same CERB benefits to prisoners. We didn't have to spend the roughly 200 billion dollars of new measures that have come into play since the spring of 2020, that the parliamentary budget officer says had nothing to do with COVID. We did not have to increase government spending by 30 percent, from pre-COVID to present, to present, now, when all of the COVID programs are supposedly lapsed. We didn't have to have a rate of permanent growth in spending, unrelated to COVID, that has left us in this precarious situation.
And finally, we were told that the war, as a result of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, is what is causing all of the inflation today. Well, let's point out the obvious. Less than 0.3 percent of all of Canada's trade Is with Russia and Ukraine combined. And secondly, the things they make are the things we already have. The increase in commodity prices resulting from the war should have actually given our economy a boost, because, of course, they produce food and petroleum. And we have food and petroleum in among the most abundant supply on planet Earth, if only the prime minister would get out of the way and let our farmers and energy workers produce it.
So, the inflation that we have today is a result of deliberate decisions to flood our economy with more money. Do you know that we have had a 27-percent increase in the money supply in two years, even though the economy has grown by 2.5 percent, or 2.7 percent. In other words, the supply of cash in our economy has outstripped the growth of goods and services 10 times over. In fact, about one in five dollars in the economy today was created in the last two years alone. And this is the fundamental misunderstanding of Justin Trudeau and his government. And it is this: government cannot give you anything without first taking it away. Government doesn't have anything to give you. It must take the money out of one pocket in order to put it back in the other and take a cut during the transaction. And that is why people are suffering more than at any time in modern Canadian memory. You know, if you have 10 loaves of bread and 10 dollars, it's a buck a loaf. All of a sudden you have 20 dollars for the same 10 loaves of bread, it's 2 dollars-a-loaf. It's very simple. More dollars chasing fewer goods are always going to equal higher prices.
Now, our Central Bank seems to have woken up to the fact that we have inflation and that it is not transitory—as we were all told—and they are rapidly increasing interest rates. That creates a new crisis. Of course, throughout the last several years, numerous bubbles have inflated. And that brings me to the title of my speech, "The Bursting Bubble." The two bubbles, of course, are debt, and real estate. Real estate prices have gone up a hundred percent Since Justin Trudeau took office. We have the second-most inflated housing market on planet Earth, according to Bloomberg. If you take median income and compare it to median house prices, Vancouver is the third, Toronto the tenth most overpriced market on planet Earth, more than New York, and more than London. More than many other places where they have more land, more money, and much more—sorry, they have less land, more money, and more people.
So, we have to ask ourselves why real estate has inflated to the degree it has? Well, the answer, of course, is that while the Central Bank and the central government have flooded our economy with easy money, our local government gatekeepers have prevented the market from supplying the homes in response. And so, you have more money buying fewer homes. It's pretty simple. You know, the average house in Vancouver has 650,000 dollars of governmental costs baked into it. That is the delays, the taxes, the development charges, and the other fees that are associated with just filling out the paperwork. There are places in this country where buying a new house means spending more money on government than spending money on materials and labour. And naturally, this means we, even though we have—this is ironic, we like to blame circumstance for our problems a lot, this is one where we simply can't—we have the second biggest country on Earth. We have more land where there's no one than we have land where there is anyone. We have a country where, if you look across the cities, the big cities themselves, at the amount of unused land or underutilized land that we—in this country, we could have more than enough land in order to house all of our people. '
So, what is standing in the way is the governmental gatekeepers that make it impossible to get anything built. I realize that this is mostly a municipal and provincial issue. But, as Prime minister, I'm going to have mayors at my desk every day demanding more housing dollars. And here will be my answer: you will not get housing dollars unless you get housing built. I will link the number of infrastructure dollars that go to every big, overpriced city to the number of houses that actually get completed, in order to incentivize cities to remove the gatekeepers, lower the cost, and speed up building permits, so that we can get things done. Furthermore, I'm going to sell off 15 percent of the 37,000 underutilized federal buildings, so that we can turn those properties into housing for our young people. You know, it just warms my heart to think have the wonderful family, rolling up in their U-Haul, to move their belongings into their beautiful new home in the former headquarters of the CBC.
But in all seriousness, you know, the solution to our problem is not to create more cash. It's to create more of what cash buys. It's, build more homes, grow more food, and build more houses. And we have to ask ourselves why that has not been happening. Why is it that we have 800 billion dollars more of Canadian money invested abroad than the world has invested in Canada? Why is it that we import 128,000 barrels of overseas oil every single day? Why is it that we are so mercilessly dependent on the rest of the world for food prices? Well, the answer is that we're standing in the way of the people who make the stuff that we need. We've got Peter Quiring right here, one of our great greenhouse growers in this country. We, you know, we charge a carbon tax on greenhouse growers in Canada. So, I have a little greenhouse, they're called Suntech tomatoes. They produce the little miracles of Manotick, the most delicious tomatoes around. But they're paying a carbon tax on the CO2 that they release into the greenhouse, even though that CO2 is absorbed by the plant life, right? The I guess the government missed that day in grade four science class, right? And so, they're paying a carbon tax on CO2 absorbed by the plant life, which drives up the cost of producing tomatoes in Manotick, so that it is more expensive to buy that Manotick tomato in Manotick than it is to buy the Mexican tomato in Manotick, right? So, we're sending a price signal encouraging Canadians to buy the Mexican tomato, which had to be transported right across North America, burning diesel fuel in a train and a truck. How is that good for either the environment or our economy? Why don't we reduce the cost on our farmers by getting rid of the tariffs and taxes on their energy and their fertilizer and make it more possible for them to produce cleaner, more efficient, and locally-produced food right here in this country. That should be our goal.
And speaking of energy, here we are, importing more and more of our energy needs to this country. You know, by the way, this is not just linked from inflation either. It used to be that the Canadian dollar was carefully tracked by the price of WTI. The WTI would go up, the dollar would go up. There was a period in time when it was almost a dollar for a penny. When WTI went up to a hundred bucks, we were roughly at parity with the American dollar. When it went down to 90 dollars, we were about 90 cents to the US dollar. That relationship has been broken as the federal government has started to attack our energy industry.
Now, what does this mean for the average Canadian who's not working in that industry? Well, it means the purchasing power of the dollar goes down. When we have a 75-cent dollar, we get outbid. Why is it that the Swiss don't have high inflation? They're right smack in the middle of Europe. Europe has a huge inflation crisis. Why is it? Because they protect the purchasing power of the Franc. One, they didn't print Francs to pay for their deficit; they balanced their budget. And two, they have a productive export-driven economy that allows them to have a powerful currency. So, when their customers have to get into a bidding war with the rest of the world on internationally price commodities, the Swiss win. When you have a weak dollar like us, we lose. So, producing and exporting more energy, obviously, creates more demand for our dollars, brings us closer to parity with the Americans, and gives our customers more purchasing power for internationally priced commodities. That's why it matters. It's not just about paychecks, it's also about purchasing power.
So, why don't we have more purchasing power? Let's look at the energy policy of this government. They have killed—outright killed—two major pipelines. The Northern Gateway Pipeline, which would have taken Western crude to the Pacific Coast that could have been shipped to Asia; that would have been half-a-million barrels a day. They killed the Energy East Pipeline, which would have taken a million barrels of Western oil to Eastern refineries. And that is why we're importing that 120,000, 130,000 barrels at the Irving Refinery out East. And they have bungled the Trans Mountain Pipeline, which has now cost taxpayers 20 billion dollars, and it's not even complete. So, here we are forced onto our knees to beg the Americans to take our oil at a discount. There must be rooms like this, full of Texas oil men, who roll around in uproarious laughter on the ground, thinking about what suckers we are to send them our oil at a discount, so they can turn around, make a small number of upgrades to it, and then resell it at a massive profit on the world market. We are suckers to give away our energy at a discount like that. And it does absolutely nothing for the environment to do it.
So, how do we fix that? One, I'm going to repeal C-69, the anti-pipeline, anti-resource law. Two, we're going to speed up, we're going to pass a new law that will have clear, simple rules, that protect the environment, consult First Nations, but get projects built. Three, I'm going to sign off on Newfoundland's plan to increase its output by 400,000 barrels a day, which will allow us to fully replace all of the overseas oil we're bringing on the East coast, so that within five years, we can be one hundred percent energy independent from overseas oil.
But it's not just oil. We have 1000 300 trillion cubic feet of natural gas right under our feet. Look what's happening right now in Europe. The Germans now are reopening their coal-fired plants because they can't heat their homes for this forthcoming winter. How is that helping in the fight against climate change, right? Wouldn't have been better if they could have used Canadian natural gas to power their economy and heat their homes? Well, of course, that would be nice. And there were 15 natural gas export terminals proposed when Justin Trudeau first took office. Not a single solitary one of them has been completed. The only one that has even come close is LNG Canada—it's still far off. But we could be exporting Canadian natural gas to Asian markets to shut down dirty coal -fired plants. And we could be exporting Canadian natural gas to Europe in order to break the dependence on Putin. Instead, because we're not doing that, because we're not doing that, the Europeans have to fund Putin's war by buying his gas. And our response in Canada, our one contribution to this energy problem in Europe, has been to send Putin back his turbines. We are maintaining turbines for Russian pipelines at a Montreal warehouse. And when Putin said, I want them back, the Germans had to call Canada and beg us to send them. Why? Because they have no other choice.
So, here we are, blocking pipeline construction in Canada, and helping Putin operate his pipelines in Europe. The obvious solution is for us to take advantage of our natural advantages in this country. We are better positioned than the Americans on natural gas. Why? The shipping distance from North America to Asia and Europe is shorter from Canada than it is from the Gulf Coast. And second, how do you get gas liquefied to put it on a ship? You cool it down. What do we have in Canada? Cold weather. It's actually 25 percent cheaper to liquefy natural gas in Canada than it is in the southern Gulf Coast of the United States of America. So, let's cool that gas down to a minus 150 degrees, let's get it onto a ship, let's send it to Europe to break European dependence on Putin, let's turn dollars for dictators into paychecks for our people in this country.
The fundamental difference between the Liberal approach and the Conservative approach on climate change is this: they believe that the answer is to make traditional energies more expensive. That is their purpose. The carbon tax and the anti-energy policies drive up energy prices not by accident, but by design. They believe that if they just punish working class consumers enough, that people will stop using traditional sources of energy. There's another way. And that is to make alternatives more affordable. And we have the ability to do that here in Canada. One, Québec, Manitoba, and British Columbia have among the most abundant supply of hydro and hydro potential on planet Earth. Québec understands that by 2030, they're not going to have enough hydro to power the demand for electric cars. So, what they need is fast tracking of approval for new dam projects. But of course, with the new C-69, the anti-energy law that was supposed to protect the environment, that will add three or four years to the approval process for a dam project in La Belle Province. So, they're actually going—the federal government, in the name of protecting the environment, is going to slow the production of clean, emissions-free hydro electricity.
When Prime Minister Harper was prime minister in the great global recession, we had a simple rule. One project, one environmental approval. We didn't need to hire the same environmental assessment firm to approve the project municipally, provincially, and then federally. One project, one approval. I believe we should take exactly the same process. We should speed up the approval of clean green, hydroelectric projects in Manitoba, Québec, and British Columbia, so that we can add more affordable electricity to our grid and do it without emissions. Secondly, we need to accelerate nuclear technology. There's no question that there's no future for emissions-free electricity that does not include nuclear. Unfortunately, we have an environment minister who is dead set against nuclear energy. It's hard to figure out what he's for. He's against all forms of fossil fuels, he's against nuclear, so I don't know exactly how it is that he intends to power our economy. But what I will do as prime minister is put in place a clear, decisive process that will allow us to approve, and safely approve, nuclear projects in a timely fashion, and introduce incentives so that new energy that comes online as the result of a growing oil and gas sector can help incentivize more nuclear energy to come onto the grid, so that we can have baseload electricity without emissions, that is affordable to our customers right across this country.
And finally, the most important thing to supply us with the goods and services that we need is workers. But right now, we live in a country that punishes work. Think about it. We bring in hundreds of thousands of immigrants every year, and then ban them from working in their professions. I'll give you the worst example of this I've ever seen. We had the Aviation Association come before the industry committee to say that they, Air Canada, had employed an aviation mechanic in Munich so that when they land over in Europe, he does the fix up and the maintenance on the on the airplane. He decided to immigrate to Canada. He thought, 'good, I'm already working for a Canadian company. This is easy, I've already got a job.' He got here, they wouldn't licence him to work on the very same airplanes that he'd been working on for two decades—none of those planes fell out of the sky, by the way. And then we have cases where doctors come to this country who have practiced in advanced countries like Singapore, who then can't get their medical licence in this country.
Now, I understand that these labour markets are provincially regulated. But immigration is a shared jurisdiction. And that is why I will work with the provinces to sign deals to speed up the recognition of foreign credentials, with four main goals. One, that every immigrant that applies to work within their field gets a yes or no answer within 60 days based on their tested abilities, not based on where they come from. Two, that immigrants should have the ability to work on their credentialing before they even come here, by sending the modules that are available to work—whether they're an engineer or an architect—so that when they get here, they've already gone through the hoops. Three, we should work to establish testing standards right across this country so that we measure people based on merit and ability, instead of the insane process of trying to match up our universities with universities all around the world. And finally, my government will backup 30,000 small study loans. So, immigrants who are stuck in low-paying jobs but just need six months or so off work, so they can study up to the Canadian standard, have a few dollars in their pocket to pay their bills while they do. That they can go from making low wages to big wages, they can work in a highly technical and advanced sectors, and they can have big, powerful, inflation-proof paychecks in this country.
And finally, we need to reward work. We've become an anti-work country. Our tax and benefit system seems designed to prevent people from working. Even when the CERB was in place, they allowed you to earn a thousand bucks. But if you earn one thousand and one dollar, you lost the entire CERB. Instead of allowing people to graduate off it one dollar at a time—you'd lose 25 cents, for example, for every dollar you earn—they made it, they created a welfare wall. And so do we, throughout our entire system of benefits and of taxation. For example, if you are making 55,000 dollars as a single mother with three kids, you earn another dollar, you lose 80 cents and clawbacks of federal and provincial benefits, payroll taxes, and income taxes. So, why would people want to work? Why would people want to earn that extra dollar? If you are that mother, you earn 25 bucks an hour, you lose 20 dollars of the extra hour of earnings. So, you're making 5 dollars an hour, well below minimum wage. That is the perverse disincentive that we impose on people, particularly on low income people. Those who are on disability, and on other assistance, lose vastly more of each incremental dollar they earn, than do even the wealthiest people who complain about their high marginal tax rates. We need a remake and a reform of our tax and benefits, to make sure that people are always better off when they earn that extra dollar, take that extra shift, or earn that extra bonus. And that's what my government will do by reforming our tax system to reward work again.
Finally, what we really want is to restore what Canada always was and always promised to be. The three-to-five-hundred thousand immigrants that come to this country every single year don't do it for the good weather. They do it for the freedom, the opportunity to earn a better life for themselves and their children. For the same reasons that people came to this country a hundred years ago. You know, when Laurier was asked, what is Canada's nationality, he couldn't name an ethnicity, or religion, as you might do if you had been in a European country at the time. He said Canada is free, and freedom is its nationality. And so it is, ultimately, today. And that is why so many people have had so much opportunity in this country. I think of my own story. I was born of an unwed, 16-year-old mother, who had to put me up for adoption to two schoolteachers. But they always taught me that it didn't matter where I came from, it mattered where I was going. It didn't matter who I knew, but what I could do. And that is the country I want my children to inherit, and that is the country that we will restore when I'm prime minister. Thank you very much.
Thank you very much, Pierre Poilievre. I now would like to call upon Kevin Kelly, the Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President, Finance, at Bruce Power. Thanks, Kevin.
Note of Appreciation by Kevin Kelly, CFO & EVP Finance, Bruce Power
Thank you, Sal. And thank you, everyone, for joining us this afternoon. My name is Kevin Kelly, I'm the Chief Financial Officer at Bruce Power. I also want to thank the Honourable Pierre Poilievre for what would be considered a very excellent and insightful keynote speech this afternoon. As part of my closing remarks here, I also want to thank the Empire Club of Canada for hosting, yet again, an outstanding event. Bruce Power, as you noted, is the season sponsor for the Empire Club this year, and very proud. And we look at the quality of the programming that happens here. It's quite remarkable.
From a Bruce Power perspective, we are very proud to provide clean, affordable, and reliable electricity to the power, and the people, and the businesses on Ontario here. At the same time, we are providing cancer-fighting medical isotopes. So, not only are we producing electricity, but we are saving lives every day. Through our Life-Extension Program, which is extending the life of the facility at site, we are ensuring a carbon-free electricity for decades to come, while aiding the economic recovery here in the province of Ontario, through our private investment through OMERS, Trans Canada, our two unions, and 90 percent of our employees that own equity in the business.
I also want to note Bruce Power, recently, last fall, was the first nuclear power plant in the world to issue a green bond. That was something that was very important to us as part of our ESG strategy. You know, we did it in the middle of COP26 last fall, last year, and you know, it was a remarkable outcome. And when you look at those who have followed, OPG, EDF, you know, clearly, you know, setting the stage for the world to recognize that nuclear is part of the solution here to a carbon-free environment. And we believe that initiative. I'm joined by a number of my colleagues here this afternoon from the banking sector that allowed us to make that point possible.
We are certainly proud to help Ontario move forward through these challenging times. And we're honoured to be part of this afternoon session. And again, I'd like to pass it back to Sal for closing comments before we exit this afternoon. Thank you, everyone.
Concluding Remarks by Sal Rabbani
Thank you, Kevin. And again, thanks to TC Energy, Bruce Power, and all our sponsors for their support, and to the Honourable Pierre Poilievre, you have and everyone joining today, in person or online. As a club of record, all Empire Club of Canada events are available to watch and listen to on demand on our website. The recording of this event will be available shortly, and everyone registered will receive an email with the link.
Our next event of the 119th season is on November 9th. Join us virtually, in collaboration with CivicAction, to hear established diversity inclusion leaders and share their leadership journeys and offer perspectives. On November 10th, join us for Remembrance Day Reflection about the extraordinary stories of Canadian women in war during the two great conflicts of the 20th century, the First and Second World Wars. On Tuesday, November 22nd, Fortis CEO David Hutchens will talk about a pragmatic approach to delivering on a cleaner energy future. Thanks again for joining us today. We invite you to stay and join us in the lobby for continued networking. Have a great afternoon; this meeting is now adjourned.