Madam Speaker, it is always a pleasure to rise to speak to the types of things the government can do to support Canadians in all regions of the country. We are witnessing that Bill C-56 is a substantial piece of legislation with an intent to support Canadians.
Unfortunately, as my colleague has pointed out, the Conservative Party has chosen, once again, to use this legislation as a way to slow down the process of proceeding and prevent the government, wherever it can, to allow legislation from ultimately passing. I will hold my breath in the hope that the Conservatives will wake up and understand the reality Canadians are facing.
We often talk about the issue of inflation. There is no doubt that inflation is hurting people. Yes, it has improved. If we look at the bigger picture and compare Canada to the United States, France, the G7 or even the G20 countries, we are doing relatively well regarding our inflation rate on a worldwide basis. Since June of 2022, we have had an inflation rate of just over 8%. If we look at the last number of months, we have made significant gains in bringing down that inflation rate. We are focused on doing that because we recognize the harm it causes to our economy and, most importantly, to Canadians. That is one of the reasons we have been very targeted, whether with legislation or budgetary measures, to give those breaks to Canadians. We want a government and an economy that works for all people.
Unlike the Conservative Party, we believe in Canada's middle class and those aspiring to be a part of it. We understand and appreciate the importance of lifting people out of poverty. We have demonstrated that with hundreds of thousands of children and seniors. We recognize the harm it does. That is why I look forward to the fall economic statement that will be coming out tomorrow from the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, who has been out in the communities to get a better understanding and a better sense of the types of actions we can take as a national government to provide relief wherever we can to support Canadians.
The fall economic statement we will see tomorrow will be a reflection of what we have been hearing, whether from individual members of Parliament bringing back their concerns to Ottawa or the consultation work that the different ministers, in particular the Minister of Finance, have been doing. We are doing this because we understand the pressures that are on Canadian families. It is the reason why we have developed programs of a national nature, such as the affordable $10-a-day child care. It is the reason why we have brought in programs such as the grocery rebate program.
When we think of Bill C-56, we should think of two aspects: housing and groceries. Fighting to stabilize the price of groceries is important to the government. We often hear about how we need to improve the Competition Act. Bill C-56 is an attempt to not only improve it today, but also to continue to look at ways we could modernize it.
One of the significant improvements we are seeing today in this legislation is the use of the efficiency argument so that the Competition Bureau does not have to listen to companies saying that, for efficiency purposes, they need to buy up a company. If members think about it, at one time we had six major grocery suppliers, and we are now down to five. Why are we down to five? It is because, when Stephen Harper was prime minister and the leader of the Conservative Party sat around that cabinet, Shoppers was bought out for billions of dollars, so we went from six to five.
Even today, we hear Conservatives say that the way to ensure lower prices is to ensure that there is more competition. This legislation would go a long way in getting rid of the efficiency argument, so we would be better able to ensure there would be more competition.
I would like to think that most people in the chamber would recognize that as a positive thing. It is one of the reasons we should not have to wait endlessly and accept the ongoing filibustering of the Conservative Party. If they are serious about the cost of groceries, and if they are serious about wanting to stabilize grocery prices, Conservatives should be supporting the amendments to the Competition Act that are being brought forward, amendments that would enhance the Competition Bureau's ability to protect the interests of Canadians and of consumers. Actions speak louder than words. We look to the Conservative Party to start taking action.
On the other part of the legislation, we often hear Conservatives talk about the issue of housing. We often hear them raise the issue. However, when it comes to taking action, again, they sit on their backside and do nothing but filibuster. This legislation is good, sound, solid legislation. The proof is in the pudding. Let us think about it. The federal government, through this legislation, is saying that for purpose-built rentals, there would be no GST.
It is a sound idea. I can say that because we have provincial entities in Canada today that are copying what Ottawa is doing, but with the PST. In part, we need to recognize that, when it comes to the issue of housing, it is not just the federal Government of Canada that has to deal with the issue. The federal Government of Canada has a role to play. No government in the last 30, 40 or 50 years has played a stronger role in housing than the Prime Minister and this Liberal government. No government has.
If we are talking about a disaster, we could look at the previous Harper government and the lack of attention the Harper government gave to housing. We could contrast that to today's government, which has brought in a national housing strategy, the first of its kind, with billions of dollars of investments.
We could talk about what the government has done to support housing co-ops and other non-profit organizations in building non-profit housing, as well as our investment in tens of thousands of housing units. When I say “tens of thousands”, it is well over 150,000, so it is a bit of a guesstimate. I would say it is probably closer to 250,000 units the federal government continues to support, based on income, at least in good part, by working with provinces.
We talk about the housing crisis, and the Liberal government's approach is to work with the stakeholders and with provinces and municipalities. The Conservative approach is to hit them with a stick. The Liberal government plays an important role, which I believe we have been fulfilling, not only with legislation but also from a budgetary perspective. We are actually materializing and demonstrating that leadership.
However, cities also need to play a role with things such as zoning. Provinces also have to play a role. We are working with other jurisdictions. We have brought in programs through the housing accelerator program that ensure there is a higher sense of co-operation on the housing file.
I can assure the House that our government, whether it is the Prime Minister, cabinet ministers or the Liberal caucus as a whole, will continue to deal with the issues of inflation, the price of groceries and affordable homes the best way we can. As a government, we are concerned and care about Canadians and their well-being. That is why we work every day to try to make a difference, working with different levels of government at the same time.