House of Commons Hansard #104 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

Budget Implementation Act, 2008
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have to point out what hollow, empty rhetoric we just heard from the member.

It is really remarkable. He talked about the Liberals accomplishments on immigration. He talked about the people they brought in. He did not talk about the enormous waiting list that built up under the Liberals, with the enormous landing fee they charged every immigrant to come to our country. They should be ashamed of that.

Second, when they did bring these immigrants in, they dumped them off, wishing them good luck and hoping they would make out all right. They never assisted them with getting any of their credentials or skills recognized. They abandoned them. They got their $1,000 and abandoned them.

That is the Liberal record on immigration, and it is terrible. There are 900,000 people waiting on the waiting list.

He talked about the train to Peterborough. I am very proud of that, but what I am really proud of is how that will assist the city of Toronto. That is every bit as much a Toronto issue as it is a Peterborough issue. It is an integrated transit solution for the eastern Greater Golden Horseshoe region.

What did the mayor of Markham say about it? I do not think the member knows. He talked about it as an integrated solution, how he would partner up with York Region Transit and how it would provide an integrated transit solution for the future of York region, for Durham region, for Kawartha Lakes, for Peterborough.

How many jobs will it support? How many jobs were lost in places like Peterborough and Oshawa because, under his government, infrastructure in our country declined? We have a massive infrastructure deficit. This government is doing something about it with the building Canada fund. His government did nothing. My region suffered because his government let us down, period.

Budget Implementation Act, 2008
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

Liberal

Joe Volpe Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Mr. Speaker, I guess when one does not have an argument to make, one can raise one's voice. However, when I and my party left government two and a half years ago, a sad day, the unemployment rate in Ontario, and in his part of the country in particular, was just under 6%. That comes awfully close to being severely underemployed. It means people in that part of the country were not only being well served by the government of the day, but they really thought they had struck something very important.

For example, he would probably have received an answer, had he asked, that one of the first things that happened in the government, of which I was a part, was some $350 million were put toward GO Train expansion and a further $350 million for the TTC. He probably would not have mentioned that because, unfortunately, when his government took over, it held up that money until just a few months ago. He said that they needed to have something that is very specific instead of something macro.

He probably would also have received the response if he had asked, but he is not interested, that the provincial and the federal governments combined put in $1 billion for the auto sector. So many people worked in the auto sector in Peterborough and the municipalities between Peterborough and Oshawa. However, this would suggest that he understands a plan when it hits him in the face, but he does not.

Budget Implementation Act, 2008
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

NDP

Penny Priddy Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, the member spoke earlier in his comments about the loss of jobs in the auto industry, and my colleague spoke earlier about the loss in the forest industry.

In his reading and review of the budget, did he see any understanding of the fact that those thousands of jobs lost were predominantly men's jobs, but those men had families? Often in small communities, members of those families are employed in secondary industries, or secondary businesses that will also potentially close.

We know that the abuse of children and women increases in times of economic stress. Did he see something in the budget, or did he hear the minister responsible for women talk about the dangerous effects that these job losses potentially would have on women and children?

Budget Implementation Act, 2008
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

Liberal

Joe Volpe Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Mr. Speaker, I think the hon. member probably knows the answer to that already. I am not in the habit of answering rhetorical questions, but it is a serious rhetorical question. It is a reflection on what I said at the very beginning.

The government in its fundamental document, the one that expresses whether it understands the dynamics of the country and the way that society evolves in the country, has come up very short. In fact, there is no evidence of that. There might be counter-evidence that the Conservatives, when they recognize it, will do something negative. We have seen all the cuts to those programs that the hon. member has suggested builds the social fabric of our society, but she is quite right.

When we lose jobs, tensions are created, whether the community is a nuclear family or a small community. The member has seen some of this happen already in over 350 communities across Canada, many of them in British Columbia, which rely almost exclusively on one industry and, in this particular instance, the lumber industry. She is quite right that when the lumber industry collapses, the entire community feels the social strains as well as the economic strains. The government has not calculated, but we have taken note, what happens to communities when a fundamental industry, which keeps them alive, is torn away.

We have not talked about what happens to the academic institutions that depend on a thriving economic environment to do the research and development to keep the community healthy. That is not seen in the budget. The government is again demonstrating it has no vision, no strategy and no plan.

Budget Implementation Act, 2008
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

Conservative

Blaine Calkins Wetaskiwin, AB

Mr. Speaker, I listened intently to my hon. colleague. He makes a bit of sense on a few issues, but I have some questions for him. I just read in the Calgary Herald today that the Ontario based construction sector council said Monday:

—unrelenting construction growth is pushing the labour force to its limits, and nowhere is the problem more acute than in Alberta. The council said Alberta will need an additional 52,000 construction workers over the next decade—21,000 just to replace retirees and 31,000 to handle growth.

Not only Alberta is growing. We are seeing construction growth in Ontario right now. The hon. member talked a lot about the knowledge based economy. I came out of the knowledge based sector. I have taught computer programing. I worked in the knowledge economy for a long time before I came here, so I know of what I speak. When we cannot find anyone to do the construction work to build colleges and universities, then we will not have much of a knowledge based economy to build it upon. While it is great that so many educated immigrants have come to our country with masters degrees and Ph.D.s, we also need people to get down into the trenches and do some of the heavy lifting.

While my hon. colleague is so vehemently opposed to the budget and he said we are absent in so many areas, will the member be present or absent when it comes to third reading on Bill C-50?

Budget Implementation Act, 2008
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

Joe Volpe Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for being here for my entire speech. I thought it was very gracious of him and I thank him for it. I thank him as well for noting that the items I discussed have a bearing on both society and the economy. I want to replicate that by addressing the very serious issue he raised.

It just so happens I used to be the minister responsible for human resources as well as the minister responsible for immigration. I know of the problems in the human resources deficit in Alberta. We were taking measures to address them. I know, for example, in Calgary, some three years ago, there was a shortfall of 16,000 job fillers on the spot. However, the issue is not so much how many. It is whether in fact we want to build a society on the basis of our need today.

The basic crux of the discussion is if the 16,000 per annum over a five year period in Calgary alone were to be filled by immigrants, whether they would be migrants who would fill a job that would be temporarily available or whether we would use the opportunity to build on those 16,000 additional job fillers per annum to bring them and their families in or to have them encouraged to stay here in Canada and to build a society for the future, to build not only the homes, the pipelines, the roads, but to also build the schools that would be required when they expanded society by making this their home.

Whether we recognize there is great need for skilled labourers in Alberta, or whether we use that opportunity to enlarge Canadian society, to build it for tomorrow and to ensure that the kind of wealth we see today in a place like Alberta would be carried on for the next generation and the generation after that, that is missing in this budget.

Budget Implementation Act, 2008
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am rising to speak, sadly, to Bill C-50, which is known as the budget implementation act.

Given the weakness of the Liberals, the Conservatives have rolled two other provisions into the budget implementation act, one that would simply gut our existing immigration system and give new powers to the minister, and another that would essentially take money that was set aside for Canadians in employment insurance and readjust that away, contrary, of course, to the advice of the Auditor General.

In my opinion, what we are considering today with Bill C-50 is the corporate handout act, the indentured servitude act and the legalized theft act. I would like to speak to each aspect of Bill C-50.

I will first talk about the corporate handouts. The Conservatives have not been speaking today. They refuse to defend their own budget, which is kind of interesting. However, when they did speak to it a couple of days ago, when they were actually willing to speak before they realized the inconsistency of the budget document, they said that they were spending a certain amount of money on this and a certain amount of money on that. They tried to say that the budget, overall, was a good budget because they would be spending some money on new programs that deal with the desperate situation that so many Canadians are in. I will say more on that in a moment.

It is important to note what the NDP has been saying in the House, even though the Conservatives are moving to adopt the budget, with the support of an incredibly weak Liberal leader who is essentially allowing the budget to pass, that for every $1 in new program spending, $6 will be going to the corporate sector in corporate handouts, in tax cuts to corporate CEOs. They are essentially shovelling money off the back of a truck to the corporate sector.

I call Bill C-50 the corporate handout act because it is a redistribution of income from hard hit Canadians to the wealthiest of Canadians.

We know the last 20 years have not been kind to ordinary Canadian families. Ordinary working families have borne the brunt of incredibly irresponsible and misguided economic policies conducted first by the Conservatives, then by the Liberals and now by the Conservatives. In fact, we have the same ministers sometimes crossing the floor once or twice. It seems to be the same group of people with the same economic policies.

It is helpful to talk a bit about what the actual impacts have been for ordinary Canadians since 1989. The portrait is a very disappointing one for NDP members who deal on a regular basis with ordinary Canadian working families. We can see the impact of misguided economic policies.

What has happened over the last 20 years? The wealthiest, the corporate CEOs, the folks who the Conservative Party love to give money to, now take half of all income in Canada. We have not seen that level of inequality in income since the 1930s, and that is essentially what the Liberals and Conservatives, working as some sort of weird wrestling tag team, have managed to produce in the Canadian economy. The wealthy now take half of all income.

What has happened to the other income categories? The upper middle class has seen stagnation, neither a rise nor a fall in their real incomes. However, it becomes much more sad and impressive when we look at what the income impacts have been as we move down the income ladder.

Middle class Canadian families earning between $40,000 and $60,000 a year, which is one-fifth or 20% of the Canadian population, have lost a week of real income for each year since 1989. It is like they are working harder than ever because the average Canadian family is working 200 hours more now than they were then. They have been working extremely hard but it is as if they do not get a paycheque for one week each year. They are working 52 week years and getting paid for 51 weeks, and that is because of the economic geniuses in the Conservative Party and the Liberal Party.

What has happened in other income categories? What about the lower middle class, those families earning between $20,000 and $40,000 a year? They have lost two weeks of income since 1989. They are working 52 week years but it is as if they miss an entire paycheque. Under the Conservatives and Liberals, they have one paycheque taken away from them. They now work 200 more hours a year but they now have to skip a pay period of two weeks.

What about the poorest of Canadians, the families earning less than $20,000? Under the Conservatives and the Liberals, they have seen a catastrophic fall in income. They have lost a month and a half of income for each year since 1989.

It is no secret why it is estimated that there will be about 300,000 Canadians sleeping out in parks and on the main streets of our country tonight. It is because for the poorest of Canadians, it is as if for a month and a half a year there is no paycheque at all waiting for them and they need to scramble to make ends meet.

We have seen a catastrophic incomes crisis for most Canadian families. Since 1989, the real income of two-thirds of Canadian families has gone down. What do the Conservatives and Liberals offer in their budgets? They offer more corporate tax cuts to corporate CEOs, as if that is the only group of Canadians that exists. It is as if they are unable to see that on the main streets of this country there is a completely different reality from Bay Street. Bay Street seems to be the only place they are willing to listen to because those corporate CEOs now take in half of all income. We have seen a decline in real income for the vast majority of Canadian families but what do we get in the budget? We get the corporate handout act. It contains $6 in corporate tax cuts for every $1 in new spending.

We have a crisis in the health care system. We have record levels of student debt in post-secondary education. We have the collapse of the softwood industry brought about by the foolish and irresponsible softwood sellout that has particularly impacted British Columbia. Now we have other trade initiatives from the government. It enjoyed selling out the softwood industry so well that it is now moving to sell out the shipbuilding industry with the EFTA. It just seems to be serial sellouts from the government.

We have seen, time and again, all of those elements that Canadians are crying out for, such as a national pharmacare program, which the NDP has been pushing forward, and the adequate funding for our health care system and actually saving money in our health care system by redirecting the money toward bulk purchasing of drugs, for example, which would actually allow us to save money on the health care system and redirect it to primary care, but instead, under Liberal governments, like Conservative governments, it just seems to be the same old story repeating itself, one time after another.

Budget Implementation Act, 2008
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

An hon. member

It'll never happen.

Budget Implementation Act, 2008
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

I hear some heckling from the Liberals and Conservatives. It is important to note that the Department of Finance did a long term study, the only time one has been done in Canada, on which governments managed money the best.

I think everyone in the House would agree that the people in the Department of Finance are the economic experts, supposedly. They did a long term study on the actual fiscal returns of NDP governments, Conservative governments and Liberal governments. They found that the NDP, while not perfect, managed money the best. Most of the time NDP governments actually finished their fiscal period returns, not the budget documents, not the promises and projections, but the actual fiscal period returns, and balanced its budgets or were in surplus.

What happened to the Conservatives? Two-thirds of the time the Conservatives were in deficit. We are not talking about the budget flim-flam, the budget documents and the promises. We are actually saying what happened on the bottom line. Two-thirds of the time Conservative governments were in deficit, which I think shows that they have some problems with fiscal management. In fact, Conservative fiscal management is kind of an oxymoron.

How did the Liberals do? It was the only party that was worse than the Conservatives. They were in deficit 86% of the time.

It is important to note that the federal Department of Finance, which I do not think anyone would say is a socialist hotbed, has looked at how the various parties manage money and it said that the NDP managed money the best.

Since I was getting some heckling from the Liberals and the Conservatives, I thought it was important for the people of Canada to know who manages money best.

It is true that the NDP would not be giving corporate handouts. It would not be providing $6 to corporate CEOs for every $1 in spending that touches vital and important issues like housing, health care, post-secondary education and getting the debt down, this mortgage on the future that we are imposing on younger Canadians.

We now have record levels of student debt, $26,000 on average. When these kids come out of post-secondary education they go into a labour market where the entry level wages are lower than ever before, which, unfortunately, has been accentuated by Conservative policies. I will come back to that in a moment. These people are also in a job market where most jobs that are created do not come with pensions or benefits.

We are looking at this apprehended incomes crisis where those kids, having finally succeeded in paying off their post-secondary debt, will retire, after a long working career, at a time when there is no company pension available to them. That is what has happened under the Conservatives and Liberals.

What has happened directly in terms of employment under the Conservatives? We saw that two weeks ago with the study that came out about the jobs we are losing in the manufacturing sector and the jobs that the Conservatives have managed to dig up for Canadians. They seem to be very proud. They talk about these jobs they have created but they do not mention what they actually pay. The jobs the Conservatives have lost paid over $21 an hour. They were good manufacturing jobs, family sustaining jobs.

We have lost hundreds and thousands of jobs in the softwood industry because of incredibly irresponsible policies, like the softwood sellout, and in a wide variety of other sectors, such as the auto sector and soon to be the shipbuilding sector because of another free trade deal that is a sellout. There is a complete lack of understanding of how the federal government can support key industries and put in place an industrial strategy to keep those industries, ensuring good jobs for Canadians.

We have lost the $21 an hour jobs. What have we gained? The same study indicated that the jobs the Conservatives have gained to offset that massive hemorrhaging of good manufacturing jobs are service industry jobs paying less than two-thirds of the salaries of the jobs lost.

Statistics Canada also tells us that most of the jobs created in today's economy are part time or temporary. We are not talking about family sustaining jobs anymore. A constituent in my riding told me that he guessed the Conservatives had created jobs because he had to take on three of them that are all part time jobs.

The Conservatives love to say that they have created lots of part time jobs but when a Canadian has lost a full time family sustaining job and has to take two or three jobs for $6 an hour for six hours a week, they are not better off. Their real income has catastrophically fallen. The Conservatives do not seem to understand that fundamental mathematics.

If people have a good job at $21 an hour and they lose it due to Conservative policies and then work at two or three jobs at $6 an hour, six hours a week, they have actually lost two-thirds of their income. They have not gained anything. The Conservatives continue to stand up in the House and pretend that there has been some kind of net gain. It is clearly not the case.

The extent of Bill C-50 is basically corporate handouts when support for health care, housing and post-secondary education were really called for.

What else is contained in the bill? The Conservatives, with Liberal compliance, have slipped in major changes to our Immigration Act as well. We call it the indentured servitude act because it would give the minister full powers to bring in temporary foreign workers, rather than ensuring the kind of family reunification that we used to have in Canada.

This has been put into place because we have seen, under the former Liberal government and the current Conservative government, chronic underfunding for the immigration system. The immigration system, like the health care system, has to be funded for it to work effectively, but we have seen cutbacks under the Conservatives and Liberals.

The result has been a waiting list that has ballooned to almost one million people. Seven hundred thousand of those came from the Liberal government which did not deal with the problem. Now because the Conservatives are not dealing with the problem, the list has grown even longer.

What is the solution? The solution is to invest in our immigration system. Instead, what we have is a reliance by the Conservative government on bringing in temporary foreign workers. Those folks are not subject to the health and safety regulations, nor the minimum wage laws that Canadians enjoy. This is to the advantage of a company, of course, because why pay a skilled worker from Canada a good, family sustaining wage when the company can bring in someone and pay below minimum wage?

No one objects to bringing in foreign workers when there is a skills shortage, but there is clear evidence that Canadians who could be in those positions are not being hired for those positions because the companies can bring in, with the compliance of the Conservative government, temporary foreign workers and pay them less. Then the companies send them home when their contract is finished. If the workers argue for a day off, or if they actually talk about forming a union, any of those reasons are good to send those temporary foreign workers home.

The Conservatives tucked this provision into a budget bill and the Liberals are saying that they are going to let this budget bill go through. As in Shakespeare's famous phrase, all sound and fury signifying nothing, the Liberals have stood up in the House of Commons and said that they are opposed to the immigration provisions. My goodness, they are opposed; they are opposed so much they are going to let the bill go through.

Budget Implementation Act, 2008
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Andrew Scheer

The hon. member will have three minutes left to conclude his remarks after question period. We will move on to statements by members.

Tourism
Statements By Members

June 3rd, 2008 / 1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Bruce Stanton Simcoe North, ON

Mr. Speaker, this week is Tourism Week in Canada. What a great way to shine a spotlight on a vibrant industry, one that is growing here at home and is helping lead economic growth globally.

Tourism is a $70 billion a year industry here in Canada. Expenditures on tourism have been growing for 18 consecutive quarters.

The number of visitors from overseas was up 9% in the first three months of this year. Why? Because we are improving access to Canada by building on the 70 air services agreements we currently have and taking steps to improve access at air, sea and land border crossings.

More Canadians are travelling in their own country. Why? Because our healthy economy and lower taxes are giving Canadians more disposable income.

Yes, Canadian tourism industry leaders have buckled down and made great strides in a highly competitive and unprotected global landscape. Our government is helping them and we will continue to take the right course to advance this critical industry for the Canadian economy.

300th Anniversary of the Enthronement of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Bernard Patry Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to join the entire Sikh community in my riding, in Canada and throughout the world in acknowledging the 300th anniversary of the enthronement of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji.

This eminent man advocated unity, respect, the sharing of common values and tolerance of all religions within communities.

Although this commemoration is a centuries-old event, it is still deeply significant in all Sikh communities.

I personally want to thank Surjit Singh Kainth and Kashmir Singh Randhawa, Professor Pawittar Singh Bhandari and Miss Vaishali Bhandari for their exceptional involvement in preparing for this event.

I offer my best wishes to all those who are marking this important celebration. This anniversary invites us, as a nation, to recognize our rich cultural diversity, which is the cornerstone of Canada's success and prosperity.

Rita Legault
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Cardin Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, today I would like to extend my sincerest congratulations to Rita Legault, who is celebrating her 20th anniversary this year as a journalist for the newspaper The Record.

Ms. Legault was recently invited to the gala of the Quebec Community Newspapers Association, and she did not leave empty handed. She brought home three awards, including the prestigious Paul-Dumont-Frenette award, handed out to the best journalist of all the community newspapers in the association.

She is very deserving of this award, and it is an honour for the entire Sherbrooke community.

On behalf of my Bloc Québécois colleagues and myself, I would like to congratulate Ms. Legault on the important work she has done for our region in the past 20 years.

Diamond Aircraft Industries
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Irene Mathyssen London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, Diamond Aircraft Industries Incorporated, a producer of small single and twin engine aircraft, is a company that has been working hard to create jobs in the London area since 1992.

Since its establishment, Diamond has trained workers and produced and tested its aircraft for the North American market in the city of London.

Diamond has seen an increase in both funding and demand for its product in recent years due to the aircraft's comparatively low cost and ease of operation.

Currently, over 350 orders have been placed for its D-Jet. To meet this demand, Diamond has decided to increase the number of workers at its London production facility. The total number of workers is expected to reach 1,000 by the end of this year.

In addition to jobs, Diamond has created partnerships with local businesses, flight schools and London International Airport. Diamond has displayed a high level of commitment to the betterment of the city of London.

I am proud that I have supported and will continue to support Diamond Aircraft. I was there at its beginning in 1992 and I am glad to see its continued success.

Millet, Alberta
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Blaine Calkins Wetaskiwin, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to invite you and all members of the House to visit Millet, the prettiest little town in Alberta. Year after year for over a decade the town of Millet, in the heart of the constituency of Wetaskiwin, has consistently won provincial and national Communities in Bloom awards.

The Millet and District Museum has been recognized as one of the best of its kind. The Griffiths-Scott Middle School is the first school in Alberta to be authorized to fly the UN flag and to do so daily. The renowned Millet and District Museum and Archives and Visitor Information Centre showcases interactive displays and artifacts, such as the prized vintage fire wagon.

Special mention was given for the town's commitment to heritage conservation throughout the community, which speaks volumes about the hard work and dedication of the members of the Millet and District Historical Society.

Municipalities throughout Alberta and across Canada strive to meet the standards set by Millet, but emulating Millet's high standards is not an easy feat. This picturesque small town of 2,100 has a corps of committed volunteers who willingly devote their time, energy, skills and creativity to make Millet the pride of the county.