House of Commons Hansard #5 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Simms Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, NL

Madam Speaker, my colleague brings forward a very valid point, as it goes back to the vision thing.

“Atlantic Canada: Catching Tomorrow's Wave” and the other programs we talked about were visionary elements of five to ten years out, from which the benefits are still being reaped in my riding and, as a matter of fact, all over Atlantic Canada.

ACOA was given that responsibility and duty, which it followed through admirably, of putting money throughout the entire region to help people in traditional industries diversify their economies and become that much better within the communities.

The one over, year over year funding does not lend itself toward a visionary policy, and that is the biggest disappointment of all.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

Hedy Fry Vancouver Centre, BC

Madam Speaker, I want to speak to the elements of the budget that struck me the most.

This was the shortest budget in the last 50 years. If one had gone to the fridge for a snack and come back, one would have missed it. More noteworthy in this budget were its omissions rather than its promises.

It is a cynical budget. It is a budget that cut things that are popular and would be under the radar screen rather than what is really needed to move the economy forward and to build a strong social and economic infrastructure. It is a budget that pretended to cut taxes while surreptitiously increasing taxes in areas that are more likely to cancel out employment than to increase it.

It is a budget that stated that it had a massive stimulus package. Members know that this massive stimulus package only lasts for this one more year. That stimulus package is $19 billion to do more of what was done last year. Indeed, that stimulus package did create some jobs, but members know those jobs were short-term, temporary, did not pay a lot, and tended to be mostly in sectors that were not going to be sustainable in the 21st century.

Members also talked about this budget being a budget of austerity. That is a good thing, yes, but this budget is cutting program spending and decreasing the role of the federal government in the process. The federal government will have absolutely no relevance in the lives of Canadians, no ability to help Canadians create opportunities for themselves or to help them as things get worse. It is a government that says, “I am washing my hands of my ability to do anything for Canadians. You are going to have to fend for yourselves in the future”.

It is a budget that will leave many of Canada's vulnerable with absolutely nothing to fall back on. Here we see a government that is going to be cutting student subsidies, at a time when we need students to get the education, skills, and training they need to function in today's world of work.

The budget will cut farm subsidies when we are looking at a food shortage around the world and at Canada's ability to be self-sufficient in terms of creating its own safe food for its own people. Yet, the budget is doing that.

The minister said it is a budget that will cut taxes, but it is a budget without daring and innovation, and indeed takes no risks. In fact, the only risk that this budget took was to suggest that the government will eliminate the deficit in six years, and that is a big if. Under that position, it is indeed a very risk-taking budget in that it predicts something that many people are saying will not happen.

I want to speak about this budget being one that I would like to call a sleight of hand budget. In other words, the finance minister says he is going to do something, and then on the other hand he takes it away again, so that he neutralizes any good that might have come for the things he says he was going to do.

Here is a budget that says that it will not increase any new taxes. Yet, the increase in EI premiums, which is going to be 15¢ per $100 for employees and 21% per $100 for employers, is going to really harm the ability to create long-term jobs. Small-sized and medium-sized businesses are going to be hurt. Members know that those create 80% of the jobs in this country. Here is a budget that says it is cutting taxes, but it does not tell us that it is increasing the most significant taxes, which are the taxes that affect employment insurance premiums.

Members should remember that while Canada now has 550,000 people on our EI rolls, that is going to sunset very soon. They are going to be off EI. Of course, why should the federal government care? The provinces will take care of them with welfare, will they not? This is a really cynical budget from that perspective.

This budget says it is going to help business, but it took another hit at business. On the one hand its cut to tariffs will help some businesses and that is going to give businesses about $300 million of investment. The government did not extend the accelerated capital cost allowance, which we heard from businesses was probably the single most important thing that helped enable them to buy new equipment and invest in capital expenditure to expand their businesses. That is no longer going to be there.

On the one hand, this budget is saying that it is going to give business about $300 million to help with tariffs, thereby saving the government the tax hit it took of about $535 million by cancelling the accelerated capital gains tax. So members will see the sleight of hand again. The government is saying one thing and doing another.

Here is another example of some of that sleight of hand. What we need to look at in this budget is not what it says on the surface because it says all kinds of nice, innocuous things on the surface. The devil is in the details. We need to sit down and read about what is going to happen when thing A is done with the right hand and thing B with the left hand, cancelling each other out. Everyone thinks they are getting a deal, but when they look around, their pockets are being picked with the other hand.

Here is a budget that says it is going to increase research and development. It is important to increase research and development because if we are going to be productive and competitive in the 21st century world of work, we have to look at how we develop new technologies. We have to look at how we develop niche markets that will place Canada as a leader in certain sectors in terms of communications technology and biomedical technology. We were world leaders in genomics and nuclear medicine. None of these things are being invested in.

Instead, we are giving NSERC, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, $13 million. We are also giving the Canadian Institutes of Health Research $16 million. The budget is also giving the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council $3 million. However, given inflation and the fact that these groups are going to be frozen from now on, it is not giving them anything. It is just leaving them exactly where they were. So much for research and development investments.

There is nothing in this budget in terms of R and D for climate change. When we think about the fact that Canada is a leader in environmental technologies and can be the world leader in new energy, nothing has been done to look at the jobs for tomorrow. Nothing has been done to look at some kind of sustainable infrastructure for this country in terms of economic development.

When that stimulus money goes at the end of the year, all of those part-time jobs are going to be gone. Indeed, the government has extended job sharing, but no one is saying that job sharing got people full-time jobs to work half-time so that they are barely able to keep their head above water. Working part-time in very temporary jobs is not the way for people to continue to build and take care of their families.

This budget says a lot but does not do anything. It is going to give $25 million to the forestry industry. That is another interesting thing and it sounds good on the surface. However, the Liberals had given $100 million to British Columbia for research and development on the pine beetle and new ways of dealing with climate change with regard to the forestry sector. The government takes $100 million away and gives $25 million. That is money math, is it not? One does not have to be a mathematical wizard to know that one is getting $75 million less than one used to get in the past.

Listen to groups like the Canadian Association of Social Workers. I just spoke about the economic part of the budget. Let us look at the social part of the budget. We cannot build economic infrastructure and ignore our social infrastructure. As the Canadian Association of Social Workers has said that Canada's most vulnerable populations have been handed an empty envelope in this budget, and so they have.

There is nothing really in this budget to deal with the issue of poverty. With people working in part-time temporary jobs, we are going to have a whole lot of middle-income working class people shifting into dependency on welfare when the stimulus package ends at the end of the year. We are going to see small businesses closing down and people are going to be out of work. That is going to leave people trying to depend on EI when we do not have enough money in the coffers to properly support people who are out of work.

We have to look at the investments in human potential. Human potential is going to be the most important resource for Canada to succeed in this century. We have to build the best and brightest workforce. We have to invest in innovation and people. None of that is in this budget. There is nothing that is going to invest in human potential. Instead, we are giving students the boot by not giving them the subsidies.

There is no mention of arts and culture in this budget. There is no mention of health care and we all know that the higher the unemployment, the less number of people at work, the unhealthier they are, and the need for health care increases. None of these things are even mentioned. It is as if they do not exist in this budget.

This budget is passing the buck on to the provinces, who will then pass it on to the municipalities, all of the need for social infrastructure and services. What is going to happen to the municipalities? There is not a word about them in this budget. We see this budget as just handing off everything to others and not doing anything to help us in the long-term. It sounds nice, but it does not actually deliver.

There was actually one good thing in this budget. It talked about child safety and preventing children from injury. I am going to keep the government's feet to the fire on that because it has refused to do anything about—

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

Order. Questions and comments, the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Macleod
Alberta

Conservative

Ted Menzies Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Madam Speaker, that was a most interesting speech from a member of a party who says it is going to oppose the budget when I understand that it is actually going to support it.

The hon. member talks about everything that she sees wrong in this budget, including the fact that she does not see where we are actually supporting health care, which of course is provincial jurisdiction. Let me assure everyone that we will not do what the Liberal government did in the 1990s, which was to cut health care funding to the provinces. We will continue to increase it at 3%. We will continue to increase the social assistance that goes to provinces, to give to people that require it, at 3%.

I have heard many people complaining and suggesting that we are not listening to seniors about pensions. I would argue that we have done a lot for pensions. We have put in place funding capabilities so that sponsors that have promised pensions to retirees will actually be able to fulfill that promise.

I would like to know if the hon. member is or is not going to support this great budget?

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Hedy Fry Vancouver Centre, BC

Madam Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition has been very clear about what his feelings are on the budget, so I will not go back into that.

However, I want to talk about health care being a provincial jurisdiction. Since when? The federal government has the Canada Health Act that determines the ability of people to have universal access to comprehensive health care. The provinces deliver the system, but the federal government is there to make sure that every Canadian, no matter where he or she lives, has access to health care.

The member suggests that the Liberals did not do anything about health care. Transferring records is a good thing, but the government has not talked about the fact that we need family physicians in this country. There are three million people who do not have doctors. There is not a word about that in the budget.

There is not a word in the budget about access to health care and waiting lists. That is gone. The last time I heard that language used was in 2004 under the Liberal government. That is no longer being discussed. Health care cannot be delivered if there are no people to deliver it. This is a joke.

As for passing on social assistance to provinces, when people go off EI and onto welfare, the provinces are going to have a huge—

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

Order. Questions and comments, the hon. member for Laval.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Bloc

Nicole Demers Laval, QC

Madam Speaker, I listened carefully to my colleague's speech. I heard her concerns about the lack of social measures in the budget.

However, I would like to know what she thinks about the announcement of $10 million to combat violence against women, particularly aboriginal women. There was no mention of where this money will go, and no mention of the Sisters in Spirit program, which is calling for renewed funding.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Hedy Fry Vancouver Centre, BC

Madam Speaker, we will obviously see where the government is going to put the $10 million for violence against women. The issue of violence against women is well known. We have heard from the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police and Canadian Police Associations everywhere that it has everything to do with gun control legislation. With the government it has always been on the one hand or on the other hand. It is going to put $10 million toward violence against women and taking away gun control legislation.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, I notice that the last questioner for the government was trying to deflect the government's lack of action on the whole pension issue. It has known that Nortel workers need help. Last year it could have done something but sat on its hands.

The question is this. Does the member actually believe that the government will in fact do anything meaningful in the pension area in the near future?

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Hedy Fry Vancouver Centre, BC

No, Madam Speaker, I do not believe so because there was talk by the government of protecting people whose employers went bankrupt. There is nothing about that in the budget. The pensioners of this country asked for a summit and all they got was a day on which they could celebrate the fact that they have become seniors. Talk about tokenism.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Keith Martin Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Madam Speaker, the devil in the details is that we are suffering because of the huge deficit. The government is going to make cuts of $3.5 billion a year. How on earth is the government expected to balance its budget with a $53 billion deficit by cutting $3.5 billion a year?

Does the member not think this is simply Conservative voodoo economics?

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Hedy Fry Vancouver Centre, BC

Madam Speaker, I do not know if that is doing a disservice to voodoo.

The hon. member's question is very important. I tried to highlight in my response to the budget that we have smoke and mirrors economics. The government is saying it will do one thing and then it is taking it away. The government is saying that it is going to decrease taxes, and then it is socking it to small businesses with EI premium tax increases.

This is a kind of neutral budget in that it almost cancels out everything the government says it is going to do by the negative things it will do to make it not work anymore. Cutting social programs and cutting spending will lead the government exactly to where it wants to go, which is to have no role to play in the lives of Canadians. It wants to hand everything over to the provinces and balkanize Canada into 10 little nation-states.

Komagata Maru
Statements by Members

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Devinder Shory Calgary Northeast, AB

Madam Speaker, many across Canada are concerned about the kidnapping and beheading of innocent people in Pakistan. We offer our sympathy to the affected families.

On another note, the Komagata Maru incident was a sad time in our nation's history, but the Liberals did nothing about it.

After being elected in 2006, our Conservative government took action. The Prime Minister publicly apologized in the presence of thousands of Indo-Canadians. We set aside $2.5 million for the historical recognition program and recently made two funding announcements to recognize and preserve the facts of the sad incident.

Are the Liberals angry because our Conservative government is recognizing and preserving the history of the Komagata Maru incident, or are they ashamed because we have done so much on this issue in four years?

I call on the Liberals to stop playing cheap politics and appreciate our government for taking action, which the Liberals refused to do during their 80 years in power.

Health
Statements by Members

March 9th, 2010 / 2 p.m.

Liberal

Keith Martin Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Madam Speaker, every minute of every single day a woman dies as a consequence of pregnancy. This is also a death sentence for more than half of the children under the age of five who will also perish. Five hundred and thirty thousand women die every single year from five entirely preventable or treatable causes. Twenty times this number suffer from horrible injuries. Remarkably, 80% of the deaths are entirely preventable.

The solution is simple. Enable people to access basic primary health care, a trained health care worker, basic medications, diagnostics, clean water, basic surgical services, micronutrients and a full array of family planning options. Doing this would also enable us to treat 80% of the big killers, including pneumonia, gastroenteritis, tuberculosis and HIV-AIDS.

This year Canada will host the G8 and G20 summit. We have a moment in time. I ask the Canadian government to bury the politics, bury the ideology, do the right thing and invest in primary health care. In this way we will save the lives of women, men and children.

Marcel Simard
Statements by Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Carole Lavallée Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Madam Speaker, it was with great sadness that we learned yesterday of the passing of the filmmaker and screenwriter Marcel Simard. His films included Les mots perdus, which gave voice to those suffering from aphasia, and Love-moi, one of his best known works. His last feature film, Le petit monde d'Élourdes, deals with children's distress. His works always reveal the man of action and conviction that he was, as well as his compassion.

He also founded Les Productions Virage, which enabled him to produce a number of documentaries, including À hauteur d'homme, directed by Jean-Claude Labrecque.

In my own name and on behalf of my Bloc Québécois colleagues, I wish to extend sincere condolences to his spouse, Monique Simard, with whom I had the pleasure of working in the Parti Québécois, his two daughters, his family and all his friends touched by this loss.