House of Commons Hansard #103 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was conservatives.

Topics

The House resumed from March 29 consideration of the motion that this House approve in general the budgetary policy of the government.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, I should warn my colleagues that I will go on at length about yesterday's budget. To begin, I will discuss some of the reactions from across the country to the budget that was tabled in the House yesterday.

I will read some of the emails that we have received. I will also share some other emails, tweets and reactions from the public.

I will be talking for some time, so NDP members are inviting members of the public to take a look at the budget and send their NDP MP—or a nearby NDP MP if they do not have one of their own—their thoughts about and reactions to all aspects of the budget that the government tabled yesterday, such as the cuts to old age security—we hope that Canadians understand that people will have to work two years longer—and the cuts to services, because the government announced cuts to services in several different areas.

We also invite Canadians to contact us through local NDP members, by phone, fax, or email, and on Twitter and Facebook. We would like to hear what the Canadian public has to say. We invite everyone to take part in this very important debate.

We saw yesterday's budget and we have had a chance to read it. As my colleagues know, the budget is so ideologically motivated that the NDP will be voting against it when the time comes. Of course, we will propose amendments, in the enduring spirit of Jack Layton, our former leader, and in the spirit of our new leader, the hon. member for Outremont, who have both always maintained that Canadian families' priorities must come first. That is what we will do. We will propose amendments. We will vote against the budget as tabled, because of all the negative repercussions it will have on the Canadian public.

Today we are inviting Canadians to participate in this budget debate. We are asking them to contact their NDP MPs directly, if they are lucky enough to have an NDP MP. If they do not have an NDP MP yet, and hopefully that will change in 2015, then we are asking them to contact an NDP MP in their region. They can do that by fax, email, Twitter, Facebook, or the old-fashioned way, by phone.

Given what we have seen in this budget, such as a forced additional two years of working for those who can work, by raising the retirement age from age 65 to 67, and the service cuts taking place in a wide range of areas, in food safety, transportation safety or environmental assessment, clearly we think Canadians should have the last word. We encourage Canadians to participate in this debate.

I know that our NDP MPs are hard-working, amazing MPs, many from the class of 2011 and one from the class of 2008. I must say that, pound for pound, woman for woman, man for man, the NDP class of 2011 is the strongest class of members of Parliament ever to come into this House of Commons. They show this every day.

I want to read some of the feedback. I will be doing more of this later. I will talk about Canadians' initial reaction to the budget that was tabled yesterday. We certainly have the Minister of Finance's spin on all of this, but how do Canadians feel?

I would like to read from this document called “Initial Reaction”. “Re: The public service cuts. The increase in hiring since the last cuts was because we needed the positions filled in order to provide service effectively to Canadians. The 19,200 cuts, and it is cuts regardless of what the government says because the positions will not be refilled, those jobs are needed to provide the services required. I know personally of many, many public servants already working overtime without compensation in order to get the job done. Now with further positions gone, services will be in crisis as will the remaining public servants. Burnout is already present in several departments and any satisfaction in the work we are doing is diminished by this government. All of this does not bode well for services to Canadians.”

Second, from my community of Burnaby, Mr. Walker writes regarding the draconian cuts that we are seeing to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. He says:

I oppose severe cuts to the CBC. We need good public media to keep Canada connected. The proposed cut of $110 million represents the majority of the cost of providing CBC radio, and much more than the current budget for all of CBC’s digital programming. This dramatic cut...will damage our news, our culture and our digital economy.

I have an email from Alberta about the issue around the fisheries. I will get to the significant and draconian cuts to Fisheries and Oceans Canada later. This individual is from a Conservative riding in Alberta. Hopefully we will get that to change in the next election. The individual writes:

The government is rumoured to be considering amending section 35 of the Act which prohibits any works or undertakings that could harm fish habitat.... This is problematic because the draft legislation would remove all references to fish habitat, which is vital to fish survival. Protecting fish themselves is of little value if they have no habitat in which to live and thrive.

The individual, a Canadian, goes on to talk about the draconian cuts to Fisheries and Oceans. I can say, from the open-line programs I participated in last night in British Columbia, that is a real concern right across the west coast.

In British Columbia we are already under-resourced. We had a near collapse of the salmon fishery three years out of four. British Columbians have been clearly calling for substantial improvements in investments in fisheries and oceans, and for salmon enhancement and fish monitoring. We are very concerned about the collapse of the salmon fishery in British Columbia. Yet, as this Canadian from Alberta has pointed out, what we are seeing instead is the wrong-headed approach, as the government is moving to slash Fisheries and Oceans. That is simply unacceptable.

I would like to read a third one. This is from an individual in Ontario, again not from an NDP riding yet. Obviously we are hoping to change that. This person writes, “The federal government doesn't need to slash and burn the jobs and hopes of its citizens to balance its budget. What's at stake is the future of our young people, and of course the ability of our government to help preserve the environment of our planet.”

We are receiving emails and comments as a wide variety of Canadians are reacting to the budget immediately. We encourage them to write. We will make sure that their comments are known. Whether they are tweeting, putting it on Facebook, emailing, or using the old fashioned telephone, we are certainly there for them.

To preface my comments on the budget, we need to talk about how the government has thus far managed the economy. I think my Conservative colleagues will be quite disappointed when they see what StatsCan and other reputable organizations are saying about the Canadian economy.

We have dubbed the budget “the penny-wise and pound foolish budget”. It does get rid of the penny, which is something the member for Winnipeg Centre has been asking for from the NDP caucus for some time. That is good news. I have big jars I will be taking out of the closet. However, we call it “pound foolish” because of what it does to Canadian families, Canadian seniors, Canadian services and Canadian institutions.

It is a penny-wise and pound foolish budget. However, the government has tried to say that the budget is somehow designed to produce jobs, growth and prosperity. Therefore, we really need to start the discussion about the budget with how the government has done thus far. If the government is promising that the budget in some way is actually going to address issues around the loss of jobs and the profound malaise in which we find ourselves in terms of growth, then we have to look at the government's record to date.

I mentioned this yesterday, but I think it is important to note again today. In this extensive budget of 500 pages, there is a very key page that actually points to the government's admission that as a result of this budget, unemployment is actually going to go up. It is quite astounding that the government would put jobs on the front page of a budget that it knows is actually going to promote unemployment. The unemployment rate from 2011 will go up in 2012.

We know about the 19,000 jobs that it is cutting. I mentioned earlier one of the Canadian citizens who wrote to us expressing her concern about how seriously these public services are going to deteriorate. Also, for each job that we lose in the public service we lose another one in the private sector as well. Therefore, we are actually talking about nearly 40,000 jobs that would be lost in a very short time frame over the next little while.

How a government that is actively pushing a higher unemployment rate and actively throwing thousands and thousands of public sector and private sector workers out of work could possibly pretend that this is somehow a jobs budget is beyond me.

I will now go to the government's record. I am sure the Conservatives on the other side are waiting with bated breath. I should signal right away that this will not be the talking points from the Prime Minister's Office. This will be something I know folks on the other side of the House fear because they have certainly done massive cutbacks to Statistics Canada. I will be giving real facts, and that is important. We are not talking about the fiction of the PMO talking points. We are talking about the actual facts of the state of the nation as this budget pushes for nearly 40,000 more lost jobs, plus whatever multiplier effect that may have, which means 40,000 Canadian families losing a bread winner and a higher unemployment rate.

How does the budget mesh with the Conservatives' record to date? I will just mention 10 particular economic indicators that are important to look at as we look at the budget as a whole.

The first indicator is the issue of the merchandise trade deficit. Under the Conservative government, Canada now has a record merchandise trade deficit. We used to have a trade deficit with offshore countries that was offset by a merchandise trade surplus with the United States. The opposite has now happened. We are now seeing a deficit in the United States as well.

We had a merchandise trade deficit in 2009, 2010 right through to 2011 that is now a record deficit on merchandise. What does that mean? It means something that members are well aware of. The member for Outremont raised it in his first question in the House of Commons as the new leader. It means that the government has gutted our merchandise sector and manufacturing in the country. There is no other way to put it. When we look at the number of manufacturing jobs that have been lost and the fact that we are in a record merchandise deficit, we can see that the government, far from looking at best practices, is actually looking at worst practices. I would say that Canadian families deserve better and we should be looking at best practices.

The Conservatives would say that they have gutted manufacturing, that hundreds of thousands of jobs have been lost in manufacturing but that we need to look at the overall export situation. We are exporting raw logs, raw bitumen and raw minerals. The government would say that we cannot look at the merchandise deficit, that it has done the worst of any government in Canadian history on that, but that we need look at the raw materials that are being exported.

I wonder why that has never appeared in the PMO's talking points. Unfortunately, under the Conservatives, we now have the worst current account deficit on balance of payments in our nation's history. We have the worst merchandise deficit and worst current account deficit on balance of payments. What does that mean? It means that even with the raw materials that we are exporting, we are in a substantial hole with the rest of the world.

The minister's speech yesterday talked about signing trade agreements. Later on, I will go into what those trade agreements have actually produced, because it is quite enlightening when we actually look at the export figures from each of the countries with which we have signed a free trade agreement. In Canada's case, it is very interesting to see that Canada has tanked pretty well every time that we have signed these agreements. Although imports from those markets go up, in most cases exports from Canada often go down.

When we look at the current account deficit on balance of payments, we see a complete and utter failure in terms of export industries, whether we are talking about shipping raw resources and jobs out of the country or the collapse of the manufacturing sector. I will put these two facts together. We have the worst merchandise deficit and the worst current account deficit on balance of payments for overall exports in our nation's history.

I will talk about how that has evolved. In 2006, when the Conservative government took over, the deficit in trade was about $14 billion. In 2007, after a year of the Conservatives being in office, it went from $14 billion to $18 billion. They went even farther in 2008 when it went from $18 billion to $21 billion. It will be no surprise that we have gone from there to $22 billion or $23 billion, a record current account deficit on balance of payments.

When we are having the worst deficits in terms of merchandise, manufacturing exports and the worse deficit in terms of our overall exports in our nation's history, I do not think anyone in this House would stand and pretend that the government is doing a good job. It simply is not.

The government does some ribbon cuttings and it signs a trade template that is one of the oldest and most rickety in the world. It dates back to the 1980s. Other countries have modernized and made much more progressive fair trade agreements. Canada is still back in the era of Reagan and Mulroney.

The point is that, regardless of how bad the approach is, how bad the trade template is, how little the government has provided in terms of any sort of robust export support, it has the worst deficit in merchandise and the worst deficit in current account on balance of payments in our nation's history for exports, and Canadian families deserve better.

I will go on to another key indicator. I will take a little bit of time with this. I see my Conservatives colleagues are enthralled, and that is good. I hope they put up with me because I will be speaking for a while.

I want to talk to about manufacturing jobs. Back in 1976, I was still in high school. I am not sure where you were, Mr. Speaker. You are older than your years. You may even have been a child prodigy, I do not know. However, back in 1976, I was wearing bell-bottom trousers and Saturday Night Live was big. Back in 1976, we put in the labour force survey and started tracking manufacturing employment.

In 2011, after five years of the Conservatives being in power, we see how they have done on manufacturing. Unbelievably, despite the fact that the country's population has almost doubled over that same timeframe, the number of manufacturing jobs today is actually lower than it was back in 1976 when we first started keeping statistics. That is an appalling record.

On Monday, the Leader of the Opposition raised in this House the fact that 400,000 manufacturing jobs have been lost on the government's watch. The reality is that we have never had lower levels of manufacturing employment since we started keeping statistics. Therefore, one could say that in our statistical history, dating back to 1976, it has never been lower, even though the population and the economy have grown.

We have seen devastation in our manufacturing sector. I will mention some of the jobs that have been lost over the course of the last few months. In every case, strong NDP MPs have raised this in the House and brought this forward. Certainly nobody on the Conservative side could say that he or she was not aware of this because we have been raising it day after day in the House of Commons.

The member for London—Fanshawe and a number of other NDP members raised the issue of the Electro-Motive and Caterpillar closures in London, Ontario. There were 465 jobs lost in February 2012. It was something we felt particularly strong about because the Prime Minister had used the backdrop of those workers for a photo op. It is incredible that he would use those workers as a photo op in an election campaign. Canadian taxpayer money went into supporting that enterprise and then it pulled out and the government did absolutely nothing. I have to say shame on it.

More recently, we had the Aveos workers in Montreal, Winnipeg and Mississauga, 2,600 strong. Those workers have been impacted by a shutdown that is illegal. There is nothing more we can say than that. The Air Canada Public Participation Act mandates or requires that Air Canada maintains those overhaul centres. In fact, I would like to pay tribute to the strong B.C. members of Parliament who are part of the 102-strong NDP official opposition caucus because B.C. members of Parliament have tabled a bill to amend the Air Canada Public Participation Act to include Vancouver as an overhaul centre that must be maintained by Air Canada.

Despite the fact that Vancouver is not yet part of that, the government has made no move at all to protect the workers in Montreal, Winnipeg and Mississauga, the 2,600 jobs lost. The government has the ability and has bragged in the past about having the ability to stop the massive layoffs, because Air Canada has to be held to keep its obligations, and yet the government has done absolutely nothing for those workers. On this side, we say that Canadian families deserve better.

I will go on to other factory closures. Hundreds of jobs were lost at the Ocean Choice International fish plant in Marystown and Port Union, Newfoundland in January 2012. With regard to Maple Leaf Foods, the areas affected included Moncton, New Brunswick; Burlington, Ontario; and Kitchener, Ontario. I live in Burnaby—New Westminster, British Columbia and right next to New Westminster is the city of Coquitlam where jobs have been lost as well. We are talking about 1,550 jobs that are being cut over the course of the next little while. We are not talking about three jobs lost here and five jobs lost there. We are talking about thousands of jobs as each of these add up, one after the other, all announced in the span of the last few months.

At AstraZeneca, a pharmaceutical research company in Montreal, 132 jobs were lost. They evaporated. The jobs at Bick's Pickles in Dunnville, Ontario were moved to the U.S.A. in 2011, with 150 jobs lost as a result. At XL Foods' beef processing plant in Calgary, 500 employees were laid off in May 2011. There were 102 jobs lost at the Sonoco packaging plant in Winnipeg, and that was just as we entered the fall of 2011. There is the Navistar truck manufacturing plant in Chatham, Ontario, where another 350 jobs were lost last summer. There were 1,100 jobs lost at the Ford assembly plant in St. Thomas, Ontario, again back in the fall. At the NewPage Port Hawkesbury mill, Nova Scotia, there were 1,000 jobs lost. Of course, the Mabe factory in Montreal is closing in the next little while. There we are talking about 700 jobs.

As for La Malbaie, we have some strong members, NDP members from the Montreal region, who rose every day in this House calling on the government to do something to save those jobs, because we truly believe that Canadian families deserve better than this.

That is only a partial list of the manufacturing jobs that have been lost across the country on this government's watch. We are now at a stage since we first started keeping statistics, and here it is not too much of an exaggeration to say since the dawn of recorded time, meaning in this case back in 1976, where we have never had lower manufacturing job figures.

This is the third indication of a profound failure by the government to stimulate the economy, to develop a healthy Canadian economy and provide the kind of action that is needed so that Canada can be a leader in economic development and in terms of its citizens' prosperity. I table that as a third indication.

It may begin sound a little bit like we are putting the government on trial, and in a way we are. We feel that the budget tabled yesterday was irresponsible in cutting services, particularly as the government had promised Canadians before May 2 that it would not be cutting services. The Conservatives promised Canadians that they would not be making cuts to retirement security. They promised as well that they would not be making cuts to health care transfers.

These are solemn commitments. When a person is running for prime minister, like the current Prime Minister, and makes those solemn commitments to Canadians, we expect him to keep them. Canadians expect him to keep those commitments. He said that they would not cut health care transfers, and then we saw what transpired back in December in Victoria, British Columbia.

I was at that meeting. I was with those provincial finance ministers, speaking with them shortly after the bomb was dropped on them when the Minister of Finance showed up and made his announcement without any regard for provincial health care budgets, without any regard for the pressures that those health care programs are feeling.

There are demographic pressures for sure, but there are also pressures from the lack of innovation by the federal government. It should be working with the provinces to develop the bulk purchasing of medication, like our former leader, Jack Layton, was such an active proponent of doing. With home care, for example, it should be looking at new ways to actually reduce the cost of acute health care, which is something that all provinces and people feel can make a big difference. When we provide a home care platform, we reduce the cost of acute care. Instead of providing any proposals and being thoughtful about what needed to be done to improve our health care system to make sure the services are there, and instead of working to make it effective so that the Canadian taxpayers are getting the maximum bang for our buck, the Minister of Finance simply said that they would start cutting back on health care transfers in a few years' time.

I spoke with those finance ministers. They were enraged. Of course they were angry, because they can see what that meant further down the road. It will mean a lower ability to actually provide the health care services Canadian families depend on.

It will be tough in Nova Scotia. It will be tough right across the country, the prairies, Ontario and Quebec. It will be tough in British Columbia. The finance minister for British Columbia admitted that it would put a huge strain on the B.C. health care system.

Rather than proceeding in a responsible way, he just dumped that in the middle of the provinces and took off, in direct contradiction to what he had promised prior to May 2.

Then yesterday we saw the other two promises. It is not as if the Conservatives made a lot of promises, but we do expect them to keep the ones they made. He had promised not to gut retirement security, and we will be going into that a little while later on. He has done exactly the contrary; he has gutted retirement security. He had promised not to cut services to Canadian families. We have seen that broken promise as well.

The reality is this, and I want to make this clear. If the government had campaigned on what it really intended to do, it would have said that it would be cutting health care transfers; that it was going to force people to work two more years, regardless of people's ability to do that at that late age; that it was going to cut services, food and transportation safety and environmental assessments; that it was going to cut Canadian institutions like the CBC; and that it was going to cut the Auditor General so that the auditor could not check up on the government to see if it were using its money effectively, because it does not like the Auditor General because he or she questions its questionable purchases like the F-35s that go from $9 billion to $40 billion. If the government had actually said all of those things, members are as aware as I am that since Canadian families deserve much better, it would be the NDP on that side of the House.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

10:40 a.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear!

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

10:40 a.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

I thank my colleagues for their enthusiastic reception. One would not think that all of them had just gone through a very busy and intense leadership convention over the course of the last weekend, when we elected the member for Outremont as our new leader and the leader of the official opposition.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

10:40 a.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear!

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

10:40 a.m.

Robert Chisholm

We are not tired, we are invigorated. We are ready to rock their world, as Charlie would say.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

10:40 a.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

I thank my colleagues for that, particularly my friend from Dartmouth—Cole Harbour. That was very kind of him.

The government did not say it was going to break all those commitments and did not make it clear what its real agenda was. For that reason then, yes, the government is on trial and that is what we are going to be using this budget debate for, to put the government on trial for broken promises. When we look at the F-35s and the prison agenda in terms of fiscal mismanagement and when we look at the facts as I am rolling them out now, we have only come to the first three key economic indicators but the government is also on trial for economic mismanagement. We are going to hold it to that.

Let us look at the job situation over the last few months, since the government has gutted the manufacturing sector. Look at the last quarter of 2011 and look at the first couple of months in 2012. That time frame is prior to the budget, which kills 40,000 jobs, roughly, if we believe the government's figures. I am a bit skeptical because austerity budgets or draconian budget cuts tend to have a multiplier effect, but let us give the government the benefit of the doubt and say it is killing 40,000 jobs with this budget. Prior to its killing 40,000 jobs, both in the public sector and from the multiplier effect in the private sector, 50,000 full-time jobs were lost in the last quarter of 2011. We saw that in October, November and December. We saw that in January and February as well.

All of us on the NDP side of the House are acutely aware of what that means. That means fathers or mothers are going to work and getting a pink slip, feeling a deep and sickening feeling in their stomachs that their jobs are no more, that the jobs they worked on for years or decades have disappeared, that the jobs they got so good at doing and the companies they devoted their lives to, by coming in on weekends and evenings and juggling family responsibilities, as we all do, and gave their heart and soul and sinew to, are no more. They get the sickening feeling that all of those years of dedication are no more.

Coupled with the sickening feeling of that sense of loss is the economic reality. Far too many of those who become unemployed do not even have access to employment insurance because of the changes that the government has made. The Canadian Labour Congress estimates that most unemployed workers do not have access to employment insurance. Some do, but even those who do are facing a tremendous financial challenge. They then have to drive home and tell their family. Maybe it is their parents who need the family's help to buy medication. Maybe it is their kids who want to enrol in a special program, or they want to go to summer camp, or they want to buy a computer, or they want to get involved in sports, all of which costs money. Then that family, because of that pink slip and because of that devastation, has to make tough decisions about who has to give up what and what they have to do if they want to keep a roof over their heads.

It is not about statistics. It is about the impact on each one of those families across the country, the 50,000 who went through that over the course of the fall, and the 40,000 who will be going through that because of this budget. It is the impact on the families that we are most concerned about. We say profoundly that Canadian families deserve better than a government that throws their breadwinners out of work. We say Canadian families should come first with the government.

That is the fourth indicator.

The government would say, “Well, okay. We did a lousy job this fall. We did a lousy job early in the year.” At least I think that is what the government members would probably say. I certainly hope they would come clean, be honest and say they did a lousy job.

However, the government has this statement which the finance minister sometimes rolls out, “We did a good job before. Remember? After the recession, we did a good job.” It throws out a figure which I am very skeptical about. The government has had a history of a certain amount of fake stuff. We recall the fake lake and the $1 billion it spent on the big conference in Muskoka. There were the fake new citizens at the fake citizenship ceremony. Those fake job figures are part of that trend.

If we go back to May 2008, we have to look at the job figures as we were going into a recession. May 2008, members will recall, is the time when the economy went into a downturn. It started right there. That has to be the reference point.

From May 2008 right through to the summer of 2011, which is our reference point, before the 50,000 jobs which the government lost over the course of the fall and the winter, and the 40,000 jobs that it announced that it is really cutting, if we are being realistic and straightforward with the public, before all that, there were 200,000 jobs created in this country from May 2008 right through to the fall of 2011. It is not the number that the government tries to use. It is not even close. The government's numbers are, quite frankly, bogus. One might say that at least there was some job creation going on.

Here is the problem, and this is something which the government has never acknowledged. Statistics Canada is aware of it. Perhaps it is because it has come clean on what is actually happening in the Canadian economy that it is taking a big hit in this budget. The science of studying what is really going on in the Canadian economy is something that Conservatives seem to fear, so Statistics Canada is taking a big hit.

Let us look at what Statistics Canada says. The labour force grew by about 480,000 over that same timeframe. We are talking about people who finish school and then get work. Parents, fathers and mothers, who finish raising their children can go back into the workforce. There are a wide variety of factors why the labour force, because of our population growth as well, grows considerably. Over that same period 480,000 job seekers hit the sidewalks and went into the labour market. How many of them found jobs? Two hundred thousand.

That is the problem. It is not the bogus numbers that the government puts out; it is the difference between the vapid spin and reality. The reality is there are more than one-quarter of a million Canadians who came onto the job market who are still looking for work, hitting the pavement, going door to door. They have that sickening feeling every day wondering how they are going to pay their bills, keep a roof over their head and provide for their family. Every single one of them has been abandoned by the Conservative government.

If we look at a net shortfall of one-quarter of a million jobs, add to that the 50,000 jobs lost over the course of the fall and early winter, and then the job loss budget, the end of prosperity budget, the end of growth budget that puts another 40,000 breadwinners out on the street, that is the real problem with the Conservative government's approach on the economy.

That is the fifth statistical indices I want to raise today as we put the Conservative government on trial for what has been its real economic performance, not the fake one, not the bogus one, but its real economic performance.

I will now turn to the quality of jobs. We have talked about manufacturing job losses and how the government in the last few months has done appallingly badly, but even since May 2008, it has not done well at all. What about the quality of those 200,000 net new jobs? Two hundred thousand net new jobs is the real figure. It is what the government has to go with. It is what Statistics Canada actually backs up. How many of them are part-time and how many are full-time? This is something else that is not part of the Prime Minister's talking points, but nonetheless, it is vitally important. Eighty per cent of those 200,000 net new jobs, and we needed nearly half a million, are part-time.

We are talking about part-time workers who earn less than full-time workers. The average wage for part-time workers, as members well know, is $16 an hour, which is not enough to keep a roof over one's head or pay for shoes for the kids. At $16 an hour, one is perilously close to the poverty line. Full-time jobs pay much more, an average of $25 an hour. When part-time workers are looking for full-time work and cannot find it, there is a fundamental problem in our economy.

There is another point I want to raise on the 200,000 net new jobs over the last three years, almost all of them part-time, and I will come to that in a moment, if not before question period then hopefully after. I want to talk about how Canadian families are faring under this budget.

I am sure my colleagues would like me to talk about the issue of wages. The member for Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing has just said that Canadians have a right to know and I certainly agree with her on that.

Wages are not keeping pace with inflation. Part-time workers saw their wages grow 1.4% over the past year. Full-time workers saw their wages grow almost at the rate of inflation. In both cases neither part-time nor full-time wages are keeping pace with the rate of inflation, but for part-time workers it is much lower. It is much worse and a much greater problem.

This is a fundamental issue which, as Canadians, we certainly have to wrestle with. When we see only 200,000 net new jobs since May 2008, when we see that the vast majority of those jobs are part-time, and when we see the wages for those part-time jobs are falling further and further behind at $16 an hour on average and far below the rate of inflation, we are setting up a permanent situation of insecurity for Canadian workers. It is undeniable. We are seeing with so many Canadian families a sense of insecurity because they do not feel the government is doing a good job.

Even though I have not completed the statistical analysis of where the government has failed on the economy, it is important to go over again what I mentioned regarding the economic failures of the government. In fairness, the government will say two things. It will use a bogus job number, not 200,000 which is what Statistics Canada says is the real number. The Conservatives chose another number. I do not know where they found it. Maybe it was written on the back of a napkin and it looked good. The number probably sounded as promising prior to May 2 that health care transfers would be maintained, that retirement security would not be touched, and that the services Canadian families depend on would be maintained. The Conservatives will say that the number is not 200,000, that it is another number.

The Conservatives' other argument to pretend in some way that they are managing the economy effectively is that Forbes magazine likes them. That magazine is owned by a billionaire. They listen to that and say it is a good thing.

On this side of the House we have a different way of looking at things. It is fine that a magazine likes them. However, we feel that the people we should be listening to are Canadian families. The people we should be listening to are Canadian seniors. The people we should be listening to are Canadians from coast to coast to coast who are struggling under record debt loads, who are seeing their wages degraded, who are living under profound economic uncertainty because of the actions of the government.

It is a government that chooses not to help them, not to provide additional services, not to provide the supports that Canadians need. It is a government that says when it comes to health care, in a few years Canadians will be on their own. It is not going to be funding health care the way it ought to.

The government says on retirement security that Canadians are on their own. It is going to force Canadians to work two more years rather than take the responsible Canadian approach for those seniors who have laboured all their lives and contributed to their families, their community, their region, their province, their country.

We say that because those seniors paid into those pension plans and made contributions to our country we need to take care of them. That is our approach. It is different. We listen to Canadian families. We listen to seniors. We want to make sure we are building the kind of Canada where everyone matters and where nobody is left behind.

I am going to be speaking after question period as well, but I would certainly appreciate getting a sense from you, Mr. Speaker, of when I have one minute to go.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

It is 11 o'clock, so it is a good time to go to statements by members. The member for Burnaby—New Westminster can conclude his remarks immediately following routine proceedings.

Health
Statements by Members

11 a.m.

Conservative

John Weston West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, BC

Mr. Speaker, doctors have identified rising obesity rates among our children as a national epidemic. This is a problem which leads to diabetes, cardiovascular and other problems. On the economic side, one consequence is unsustainable health care costs.

Three years ago, with the support of members of all parties, I started the parliamentary fitness initiative to encourage MPs and senators to live healthier lives through walking, running and swimming together. When we do this, we are role models for increasing the health and fitness of all Canadians.

A natural progression would be a national day, recognized at the local level, which would provide opportunities for Canadians to discover healthier habits and to celebrate the potential in all of us for positive change.

I rise today and congratulate all 12 local governments in the riding I represent for dedicating June 2 as National Health and Fitness Day, opening their recreational facilities at a lowered cost to increase participation. Let us ensure we have the healthiest nation on Earth and that we are all fit to govern.

Persons with Disabilities
Statements by Members

11 a.m.

NDP

Tarik Brahmi Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, on February 9, we learned that, since 2007, 85% of the money available for persons with disabilities through the enabling accessibility fund has gone to Conservative ridings. In my riding, the town of Saint-Valentin tried desperately to obtain funding to make its municipal building accessible. However, on March 20, the town learned that its application for funding had been denied because of a small technicality: a date was missing on a letter of support.

Rather than pointing this out and allowing the town to submit its application on time, the department waited until the deadline had passed and then denied the town funding on that pretext. This shameful tactic clearly shows this government's appalling bad faith. Even people with disabilities are not immune to its infamous partisanship.

National Parks
Statements by Members

11 a.m.

Conservative

Michael Chong Wellington—Halton Hills, ON

Mr. Speaker, budget 2012 contains excellent news for all of us who are working toward Canada's newest national park in the greater Toronto area.

As promised by the Conservatives in last May's election and reconfirmed in the Speech from the Throne last June, yesterday's budget reaffirmed the Government of Canada's commitment to establish this new national park in the Rouge Valley.

The Rouge Park Alliance has been the body responsible for this initiative over the last 15 years and has worked tirelessly toward the establishment of this park. I want to thank and recognize the members of the alliance whose hard work and commitment to the environment has made this happen.

This new national park will be easily accessible by more than a quarter of Canada's population. For the more than eight million Canadians, many of them new Canadians, who live in the Golden Horseshoe, it will be a wonderful opportunity to experience the great outdoors and connect for the first time with Canada's national park system.

Brain Awareness Month
Statements by Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, March was national Brain Awareness Month. The brain is the body's most critical organ and if it does not work properly, every aspect of life is compromised.

In Canada 5.5 million people live with a chronic neurological condition. Most of these conditions are progressive and degenerative, with no known cause or cure. While therapies exist for some conditions, in most cases there is no way to stop or even slow progression.

As the Canadian population ages, the impact of brain disease, disorders and injuries will be staggering. Within the next 20 years, neurological conditions will become the leading cause of death and disability in Canada.

We need a national brain strategy in Canada, including income security measures for those with chronic neurological conditions, support for caregivers, laws to prevent genetic discrimination and education programs for the Canadian public and front-line health workers.

The Budget
Statements by Members

11 a.m.

Conservative

Chris Warkentin Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, yesterday afternoon the Minister of Finance stood in the House to deliver his seventh consecutive Conservative budget. This balanced pragmatic and visionary plan is the right plan for Canadians and the plan that was asked for by Peace Country residents.

Peace Country residents asked for a plan that cuts government waste and leads to balanced budgets and prosperity, and the minister delivered. Peace Country employers asked for measures to make it easier to find qualified employees to fill labour shortages, and the minister again delivered. Peace Country residents asked for a long-term plan that would drive innovation and reduce red tape for entrepreneurs, and again the minister delivered.

Peace Country residents can be proud that they have a government that understands their priorities and ambitions. We in the Peace Country are committed to building a stronger and more prosperous future now and for future generations, and this budget will assist us in doing just that.

Telecommunications
Statements by Members

11:05 a.m.

NDP

Ruth Ellen Brosseau Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, the residents of the Maskinongé RCM want the CRTC to change its decision to allow telephone competition in rural areas.

At least 150 residents shared their concerns at a recent meeting in Saint-Paulin. The Association des compagnies de téléphone du Québec is worried that service will not be maintained in remote rural areas because it will not be profitable. Customers in remote areas would then find themselves with no telephone, cable or Internet services. The association is circulating a petition.

Right now, the companies that have a monopoly in these sectors are obligated to provide telephone service. The CRTC wants to open the markets covered by small telephone companies to the major players in the industry without imposing the same regulations on them, which creates unfair competition.

We have to make the right choice in order to improve the accessibility, price and quality of telephone service in rural areas.

The Budget
Statements by Members

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Mr. Speaker, there is much to be excited about in yesterday's budget for my riding of Okanagan—Coquihalla. In particular, budget 2012 invests heavily in innovation and research.

In my riding a partnership with industry and the Pacific Agri-Food research centre has resulted in a new shipping technology that can greatly extend the shipping life of fresh produce. This technology means that more economical shipping options can be accessed. With our new free trade deals, this opens up a world of new markets to Okanagan farmers.

In the community of Okanagan Falls, private industry is working with support from our government, which has resulted in a new building technology known as cross-lam construction.

Cross-lam structural wood products are as strong as concrete but four to five times lighter. Cross-lam requires less energy to produce, can be made from less valuable timber, is easier to ship and is very earthquake resilient.

Most important, it has created jobs today in a community that lost a lumber mill.

In both instances, our government's investments in innovation are paying off in creating value-added jobs. I am excited that budget 2012 will continue to support R and D and innovation.

The Budget
Statements by Members

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canada's economic action plan 2012 was tabled yesterday. In that context, a number of things are worth noting.

Canadians will pay less in taxes to the federal government than they have in decades and our fiscal position remains the envy of the world.

The Waterloo region benefited greatly from previous budgets. A new Quantum Nano-Centre, the Institute of Food Processing Technology and the high-tech business incubator are some of the strategic investments that will pay dividends for decades.

I consulted my constituents in the lead up to yesterday's budget. Municipal leaders sought a long-term plan for infrastructure renewal. Employers hoped that we could reduce their red tape burden. Emerging entrepreneurs asked us to preserve and improve the focus of vital programs, like SR&ED and IRAP. I asked the Minister of Finance to invest in suicide prevention.

On all of these items, the budget delivered.

On behalf of my constituents, I must offer thanks. Under this government, Canada and the of Waterloo region have the fundamentals in place for long-term prosperity.

Old Age Security
Statements by Members

11:05 a.m.

NDP

Alain Giguère Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Conservatives delivered a devastating blow to the 16,200 people in my riding of Marc-Aurèle-Fortin who rely on old age security and the guaranteed income supplement in order to have a decent standard of living. Currently, those two programs combined do not always keep the people in my riding above the poverty line.

This was a low blow by the Conservatives, who simply changed the eligibility rules for these pension plans. It was especially cruel to people who have spent their entire lives serving Canada and who are responsible for our country's current prosperity.

Yesterday, the government showed a lack of respect for Canada's seniors by failing to come up with any proposals to reduce the poverty rate.

We think Canadian seniors deserve dignity, but the Conservatives showed tremendous disrespect for that principle. The government is treating seniors as—

Old Age Security
Statements by Members

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

The hon. member for Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission.

Organ Donations
Statements by Members

11:05 a.m.

Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission
B.C.

Conservative

Randy Kamp Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and for the Asia-Pacific Gateway

Mr. Speaker, over 4,000 Canadians endure a reduced quality of life and the possibility of premature death, while waiting for an organ transplant.

In 2008, for example, 486 donors were able to provide organs for more than 1,500 transplants, but despite that success, another 300 Canadians died on the waiting list. We know we can and must do better.

Today, Step By Step's Torch of LIfe Relay is coming through Ottawa. This campaign allows youth to participate in this public conversation and encourages Canadians to sign their organ donor cards.

Following question period today, many hon. members will be in front of the Peace Tower to welcome Ottawa relay participants, including George Marcello, who has walked the length of Canada to promote this issue.

This year, the Ontario portion of the relay is dedicated to Betty Albrecht, whose final gift saved five lives. I thank the member for Kitchener—Conestoga for his work on this issue. From many of his friends in Parliament, we miss Betty too.

AIDS Community Action Program
Statements by Members

11:10 a.m.

NDP

Hélène Laverdière Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, last December we asked the federal government about the unreasonable delays in tendering projects for the AIDS community action program. Now there are further delays, but this time the problem lies with funding approvals.

It is March 30. If these organizations, which do extraordinary work, are denied funding, they will be forced to close their doors on Monday. They have not yet heard anything.

These organizations will be told on very short notice whether they will be able to pay their experienced and competent employees, and they run the risk of losing all the expertise that has benefited the entire community. A whole group of people is anxiously hanging by a thread.

How can this government boast that it is a competent and efficient manager when this type of botched management is becoming the norm?

Economic Action Plan 2012
Statements by Members

11:10 a.m.

Conservative

Jacques Gourde Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, QC

Mr. Speaker, our government is focusing on jobs, growth and long-term prosperity. Economic action plan 2012 contains measures that will create jobs now and will provide more opportunities for Canadians.

To create jobs now, we will extend by one year the hiring credit for small business—a practical, proven measure that encourages businesses to hire more workers. We will provide new funding to improve border infrastructure, make new investments in local infrastructure through the community infrastructure improvement fund, and renew the fleet of the Canadian Coast Guard, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary.

Economic action plan 2012 takes important steps to address the challenges and help take advantage of the opportunities of the global economy, while ensuring sustainable social programs and sound public finances for future generations.

Roy Nelson
Statements by Members

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, loyalty and service are two good words describing the late Roy Nelson of Glentworth, Saskatchewan. Maybe it was the gutsy generation to which he belonged. Maybe it was his experience in the Royal Navy and then a veteran. Maybe it was his deep Prairie roots as a farmer and rancher. Whatever influences shaped his character, they produced in Roy an extraordinary individual, dedicated to his family and all those around him.

Roy's passion for agriculture was evident in his support for the Wheat Board. He fought for fairness for those affected by the Poplar River Power Station and the Grasslands National Park. He was national president of the Canadian Piedmontese Cattle Association. He was an authentic rural voice.

A lifelong Liberal, Roy Nelson served in the provincial legislature. He personified the bedrock strength of Saskatchewan. We just knew for sure he would never let us down.

Our thoughts and prayers are with his loving wife Kay and their family.

The Budget
Statements by Members

11:10 a.m.

Conservative

Randy Hoback Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, yesterday's budget, “Economic Action Plan 2012: Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity”, was great news for Saskatchewan. Our provincial finance minister welcomed the budget. He said that the changes to the employment insurance system would benefit our province and help deal with the skilled labour shortage. Additionally, the best 14 weeks pilot project will continue to apply in the EI region of northern Saskatchewan.

The future is bright for Saskatchewan and Canada. Our efforts to improve responsible resource development and our investments in training and infrastructure are reducing the barriers to entering the workforce.

More opportunities for aboriginal people to fully participate in the economy have expanded with investments in first nations education and school upgrades. In cities, the urban aboriginal strategy will continue to improve opportunities for aboriginal Canadians.

The year 2012 looks to be a bright one for Saskatchewan. I commend the Minister of Finance and I look forward to working with him as we increase the long-term prosperity for Canada.

Conservative Party of Canada
Statements by Members

11:10 a.m.

NDP

Randall Garrison Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives came here promising to clean up Ottawa, but we can see now that unethical behaviour has become too tempting for them to avoid.

We have seen the industry minister violate the conflict of interest law by going on hunting trips with his lobbyist friends with no consequences. Apparently he thinks this is okay as long as he brings his own food and sleeping bag.

When the Chief Electoral Officer explained the scope of electoral fraud, finding hundreds of complaints in more than 200 ridings, the Conservatives denounced this as simply a circus. Clearly, they have no respect for those who had their right to vote attacked.

Yesterday, the Conservatives eliminated the public appointments commission that they created in 2006. Apparently they do not need a public appointments commission because they already know who donated to their party.

The government has proven time and time again that it has become everything it used to hate. Unfortunately for Canadians, it is becoming difficult to tell those Conservatives from the old sponsorship Liberals.

New Democratic Party of Canada
Statements by Members

11:15 a.m.

Conservative

Costas Menegakis Richmond Hill, ON

Mr. Speaker, the new NDP leader has committed to fight against our government's low-tax, low-debt plan for jobs, growth and long-term prosperity. He has decided to oppose a plan that has already helped Canada come out of the recession sooner and stronger than other developed nations, putting over 610,000 Canadians back to work in the process.

The NDP has already opposed our government's record investments in health transfers and seniors and every tax cut and credit introduced for hard-working Canadian families. Its proposal is higher taxes and job-killing regulations. Our government has a proven track record of job creation, economic growth and long-term prosperity. Canadians simply cannot afford the NDP and its dangerous economic experiments that will kill jobs and hurt hard-working Canadian families.

The Budget
Oral Questions

11:15 a.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, Conservatives promised to create jobs. Instead, they slashed the vital services that Canadian families rely on, such as old age security and health care. They promised jobs and growth. Instead, they delivered reckless cuts. In the Conservative budget there is nothing on jobs, aside from the title, and nothing on growing inequality.

Why did the Conservatives table a budget so out of touch with the priorities of Canadian families?

The Budget
Oral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, we tabled a fair and balanced budget yesterday, focused on jobs, economic growth and the long-term prosperity of Canada. We are excited about this initiative. It is all about how we can build up the private sector and create more jobs so there is more hope and more opportunity. We need the NDP to finally agree to support plans and proposals that will actually create jobs in this country. Let us challenge the NDP to join us in building a better Canada.

The Budget
Oral Questions

11:15 a.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, if they had any credibility on jobs, they would ask the 2,600 workers at Aveos who are out of theirs.

The reality is that in this budget the Conservatives are actually forecasting that unemployment will go up. Everybody can see this budget for what it is. It is penny-wise and pound foolish. Conservatives are cutting jobs and services to Canadians and ignoring growing inequality. How can they fail so badly to create jobs for Canadians when even their own numbers project that unemployment will grow in Canada this year?

The Budget
Oral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, let us look at the facts. Since the bottom of the recession, we have seen the Canadian economy create 610,000 net new jobs. Since this Prime Minister came to office in 2006, we have seen more than 1.1 million net new jobs created in this country. This economic action plan is working. It is creating more hope and opportunity. Just this week we got more good news: 400 well-paying manufacturing jobs at Toyota. Will the member opposite stand up and join those of us on the government side and congratulate those 400 people who are getting jobs in the manufacturing sector at Toyota?

The Budget
Oral Questions

11:15 a.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, will the Conservative members demonstrate solidarity with the 2,600 Aveos workers and the hundreds of workers in New Brunswick who have lost their jobs? Thanks to this government, Canadians will have an even harder time making ends meet than they already do. Instead of helping families by protecting public services and pensions, it has bestowed an austerity budget upon them. It is cutting public services, breaking its promise about old age security and eliminating 19,000 jobs, which will actually result in the loss of 40,000 jobs. Why is this government forcing its ideology on Canadians instead of—

The Budget
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

The hon. Minister of Foreign Affairs.

The Budget
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, economic growth and job creation in all regions of Canada are key priorities for this government and this Prime Minister. That is why we have done our utmost to support job creation. Over the past two years, over 600,000 new jobs have been created in Canada. This week, we learned that Toyota will be creating 400 new jobs here in Ontario.

Canada is making great progress, and that is why we will continue working very hard to promote economic growth and create even more new jobs in Canada.

The Budget
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

NDP

Robert Chisholm Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, the reviews are coming in and Canadians are not happy with this budget. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities—

The Budget
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

The Budget
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

The hon. member for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour has the floor.

The Budget
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

NDP

Robert Chisholm Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities says the budget failed on housing. The United Food and Commercial Workers union called it a blow to Canadians. The Canadian Association of Retired Persons said that it will hurt the next generation. Conservatives ran an entire election campaign less than a year ago and never said a word about this plan.

In response to our former leader, Jack Layton, the Prime Minister pledged not to cut pensions or health transfers. Why does the Prime Minister not keep his word?

The Budget
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Saint Boniface
Manitoba

Conservative

Shelly Glover Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, let us listen to what the Canadian Federation of Municipalities really had to say about this budget. It stated, “Canada's municipal leaders welcome today's commitment by the federal government to continue working with cities and communities to rebuild the local roads, water systems, community centres and public transit that our families, businesses, and economy depend on.”

A number of stakeholders have said this is the right budget at the right time for all Canadians across this country. We need the NDP to stick with us on this and create more jobs, more prosperity and growth here in our country.

The Budget
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

NDP

Robert Chisholm Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, it is becoming clear to Canadians that this Prime Minister will not stand up and keep his word. If he had come clean with Canadians about his plan to cut pensions and health care, even more people would have rejected the Conservative plan in the last election and we would have an NDP government creating good jobs in this country. It is not too late. Conservatives can still listen to Canadians because New Democrats are willing to work and fix this budget. Will they work with us and—

The Budget
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

Order, please. The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance.

The Budget
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Saint Boniface
Manitoba

Conservative

Shelly Glover Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I am sorry but I heard him say the NDP had a plan. Well here is its plan. The NDP wanted to double CPP. The NDP wanted to raise taxes on corporate businesses. The NDP wanted to raise taxes on the average Canadian family by increasing the GST. This is not a plan that would create jobs. However, the budget that we just released yesterday is a budget concentrated on jobs, economic growth and prosperity for this country. I am pleading with the NDP to please do the right thing and vote for this budget.

Pensions
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, on the question of the change in the old age security, the government never told the Canadian people that this was in its plans a year ago. If there was a demographic crisis, which the Conservatives are now pointing to, they would have known about it six months or a year ago. Why would the government introduce this change which is going to cost those who are eligible to receive OAS and GIS $30,000 for each person who qualifies? Why would the government do that, flying in the face of every major study which says Canada has—

Pensions
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

Order, please. The hon. Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Pensions
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Minister of Foreign Affairs

Let me explain this to my friend from Toronto Centre. In the 1970s there were seven workers supporting every retiree. By 2030, there will only be two workers to support every OAS recipient. This is a fair, balanced and reasonable position. We are giving plenty of notice so it would not affect any retirees or people who are going to retire soon.

If it is so unreasonable, then why are Australia, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, Turkey, the United States and the United Kingdom all doing much the same thing?

Pensions
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, the minister is giving examples of countries that have done the same thing. The problem with the minister's argument is that he is the one who is most likely to tell Canadians bluntly that there is no crisis in Canada, that the deficit has been taken care of, that we have no deficit problem, that there is no budget crisis, that we are different than other countries and that we lead the G7.

If that is all true, why punish the poorest Canadians? Why punish those who are most vulnerable?

Pensions
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, these changes are part of a plan to balance the budget. These proposals will not come into effect until over 10 years from now, in 2023. We can make these decisions and give taxpayers plenty of notice. That is what all the other OECD countries—including Australia, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Japan, the United States and the U.K.—have done. All of those countries have done the same thing, because the program needs to be protected for future taxpayers.

41st General Election
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, one small item that struck me in the budget was that of all the cuts that were put forward, most were what we would call back-end loaded. That is to say, their full impact would take place in the next two or three years. The one exception to this was the cuts to Elections Canada which are up front in the first year, $7.5 million.

At a time when the Chief Electoral Officer has told us he has to deal with 800 complaints in 200 ridings, an unprecedented investigation is under way and never before in the history of the country have we had such an investigation, why would the government be cutting that budget?

41st General Election
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

York—Simcoe
Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, the Chief Electoral Officer said he has all the resources he needs to do his job. We commend the Commissioner of Elections Canada because he has actually come forward with his suggestions on how he can do his part, as part of a government-wide effort to save taxpayer dollars and do things more efficiently. These are the numbers that he has provided to us as part of his plan for reducing expenditures. We commend him for contributing to a government-wide effort.

Pensions
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives promised not to touch old age security.

For months they refused to tell Canadians anything, but yesterday, they finally told the truth: they are going to push the age of retirement from 65 to 67. That is bad news for a lot of people. It is an unfair decision that is going to jeopardize the future of today's young people and seriously harm the most financially vulnerable people in our society.

Why are the Conservatives attacking seniors' incomes? They can do better than that.

Pensions
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Simcoe—Grey
Ontario

Conservative

Kellie Leitch Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development and to the Minister of Labour

Mr. Speaker, current seniors will not be affected by this. Yes, starting in 2023, this will be phased in. We are doing that so young people in this country will actually have access to OAS in the future.

Seniors in my riding have told me that they want to ensure their grandchildren have opportunities to receive these benefits. They will not if we have nothing.

I strongly encourage the NDP to please support our budget because there is a lot of great opportunities in it to ensure individuals are supported.

Pensions
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

Mr. Speaker, those arguments are misleading, and the parliamentary secretary knows it.

Experts agree that our old age security system is sustainable. The truth is that the Conservatives are trying to balance their budget on the backs of the most vulnerable seniors and on the backs of the provinces.

The Canadian Medical Association maintains that the provinces will have to pay more for health care because the most vulnerable seniors will no longer have the means to pay for their drugs and will therefore become sick more often.

Will the Conservatives do their job and protect seniors instead of making them poorer?

Pensions
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Simcoe—Grey
Ontario

Conservative

Kellie Leitch Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development and to the Minister of Labour

Mr. Speaker, as I have said several times in the House this week, today there are four individuals for every one senior and in 2030 there will be two to one. That is an increase from $32 billion to over $108 billion as an expenditure. That is pretty simple math.

We want to ensure we have a sustainable OAS system so that Canadians have access to it in the future. I encourage the NDP to support our initiative.

Pensions
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

NDP

Dan Harris Scarborough Southwest, ON

Mr. Speaker, this is what the Prime Minister told this House on January 30, 2012:

We have been very clear that as we reduce the deficit, we will not be cutting transfers to either the provinces or individuals.

He went on to say, “The reality is that we are not cutting programs for seniors”.

That was just two months ago. Did the Conservatives write the budget on the back of a napkin or were they misleading Canadians?

Pensions
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Saint Boniface
Manitoba

Conservative

Shelly Glover Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, it is shocking to hear the misleading statements being made by the NDP.

When we look at federal support that has gone to our provinces and territories, we have increased federal support nearly 43% since we formed government. We are talking about historic levels, $60.9 billion.

Unlike the Liberals, we have not and will not slash transfers to the provinces or to people. I would encourage the NDP to set aside its high tax agenda and vote for this budget to protect Canadians' jobs and security.

Pensions
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

NDP

Dan Harris Scarborough Southwest, ON

Mr. Speaker, the one thing that is clear is that the Prime Minister's word is worthless on this issue, and it is seniors who will suffer. We are talking about taking $12,000 out of the pockets of seniors, mostly low income and mostly female.

Younger Canadians are now left wondering if they will be able to afford to retire or whether they will be left out in the cold when they turn 65.

Why are the Conservatives balancing the budget on the backs of seniors? Why are they choosing failed fighter jets instead of retirement security?

Pensions
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Simcoe—Grey
Ontario

Conservative

Kellie Leitch Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development and to the Minister of Labour

Mr. Speaker, this government has done more for seniors because we appreciate what they did to build this country.

I find it rather amusing to hear from the opposition on this issue with regard to seniors. We put forward GIS increases in 2006, 2007, 2008 and in 2011 to ensure seniors were supported.

I just do not understand how the hon. member has the gall to get up and say that in this House when he has voted against all of these initiatives.

Health
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Mr. Speaker, when it comes to health care, the provinces have given the government a failing grade. Instead of strengthening health care, this week's budget downloads even more costs to the provinces, costs they will need to shoulder alongside a multi-billion dollar Conservative prisons agenda.

When will the government stop being the problem and start working on solutions? When will it finally start listening to the provinces and come up with a health care funding formula that actually works for Canadians?

Health
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Nunavut
Nunavut

Conservative

Leona Aglukkaq Minister of Health and Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency

Mr. Speaker, only the NDP could do the math that would say that increasing funding by $40 billion is a cut. The opposition's claim that the health transfers are being cut is absolutely false. It clearly is unable to do the math.

In fact, the federal transfers for health care will increase faster than provincial spending. Yesterday's budget confirmed that our government will transfer record amounts of health transfers to the provinces and territories, climbing to approximately $40 billion per year by the end of the decade.

Health
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives can twist their language, they can stick to their talking points but even the Parliamentary Budget Officer confirms $30 billion will be cut.

As we expected, in the budget, the Conservatives pawned their health care responsibilities off onto the provinces. The provincial premiers are furious.

By announcing changes to health transfers to the provinces, the Conservatives are directly attacking front-line health care for Canadians. The Conservatives promised not to touch health transfers.

Why are the Conservatives attacking our health care system?

Health
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Nunavut
Nunavut

Conservative

Leona Aglukkaq Minister of Health and Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency

Mr. Speaker, yesterday's budget confirmed our government's commitment and confirmed that transfers will reach a record level of $40 billion by the end of the decade. Again, only the NDP could do math that would say that increasing funding to the provinces and territories in health care to $40 billion is a cut.

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

NDP

Rosane Doré Lefebvre Alfred-Pellan, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is unacceptable to force seniors to choose between paying for their medication and paying for their groceries.

The government is going to cut back on environmental protection legislation in order to be able to more quickly implement megaprojects such as the Enbridge pipeline.

Without this protection, who is going to protect us from harm? If there is an oil spill, it will have a negative effect on all Canadians.

Why are the profits of big polluters being put ahead of the interests of all Canadians?

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Thornhill
Ontario

Conservative

Peter Kent Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, if the NDP members would stop lobbying against new jobs in the resource sector and stop their campaign against responsibly regulated resource development, they would have a great deal more credibility in their professed concern for the environment.

Yesterday's budget contained a clear commitment by our government to continue a very active and fully forced environmental agenda, while, at the same time, help to protect jobs and our economy.

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, the budget pulls the plug on the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy. That is a body set up to provide crucial advice to government about addressing climate change while growing our economy.

However, there is no room for science or a balanced approach with the government. It has muzzled scientists, stifled civil society and has now killed its climate change advisory body.

Does the government even believe in climate change? Why are the Conservatives turning their backs on our grandchildren's future?

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Thornhill
Ontario

Conservative

Peter Kent Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, our government appreciates and has thanked the round table for its service over the years for any number of reports addressing environmental issues.

However, the reality is that the round table was created a quarter of a century ago. It was created before the Internet, when there were few such sources of domestic, independent research and analysis on sustainable development. That is simply no longer the case. There are now any number of organizations and university based services that provide those services.

Charities
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

NDP

Hoang Mai Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the minister's response clearly demonstrates that he does not care about the environment.

Apparently, it is not enough for the Conservatives to call environmental groups radicals. They went even further in the budget. They are now going to monitor these groups' political activities. The Conservatives are cutting $225 million from Revenue Canada, but they have enough money to create an $8 million fund to play the enforcer. They are doing everything in their power to protect their pipelines from the evil organizations that oppose them.

Why are the Conservatives infringing on charities' right to freedom of expression?

Charities
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo
B.C.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, the changes announced in the budget will provide education to charities to ensure they are operating within the laws and with more transparency to Canadians who donate so generously. We have not changed the laws.

Our government understands that registered charities are an important part of our society and encourages Canadians to donate generously. In order to protect Canadian interests, we have a duty to ensure that these organizations are operating in compliance with federal laws. We taking action so that Canadians can be sure that charities are using their resources appropriately.

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, yesterday was a sad day for Canada. The government delivered the inaction plan for the environment.

The government severely cut the budget to Environment Canada, cancelled the national round table, took aim at its critics, gutted environmental legislation which protects the health and safety of Canadians and has continually muzzled government scientists.

Why the war on the environment, the destruction of 50 years of safeguards and the failure to understand sustainable development?

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Thornhill
Ontario

Conservative

Peter Kent Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I know my hon. colleague is doing her best to find something to complain about with regard to the environmental chapters in the budget but the fact is that we renewed full funding to protect species at risk. We renewed full funding for the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. We are moving forward, for example, on a new national park in the Rouge Valley in Toronto. We also are ensuring new and continuing funding for Lake Simcoe and Lake Winnipeg. We are getting the job done.

Pensions
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

John McCallum Markham—Unionville, ON

Mr. Speaker, by changing the terms of old age security, the Minister of Finance is asking the most vulnerable seniors to give up $30,000 over two years. And yet no cuts were made to the Prime Minister's Office, ministers' offices or vanity ads.

Is the Conservative machine more important than low-income Canadians?

Pensions
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Simcoe—Grey
Ontario

Conservative

Kellie Leitch Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development and to the Minister of Labour

Mr. Speaker, old age security, as I have mentioned, will not be changed for seniors, for individuals who are a little older than me but maybe not as old as the member opposite. We are moving forward with our initiative. It is extremely important that future Canadians have access to old age security. We are moving forward with a sustainable plan so that younger Canadians will have access to this benefit.

Persons with Disabilities
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, to qualify for a registered disability savings plan, one must first qualify for the disability tax credit. What about those people with a debilitating disease like MS, for example, that takes a long time to develop? That person may not be severely disabled today so they would not qualify for the DTC and, therefore, cannot have a savings plan. However, they know for sure that their disability is coming. They want to save for that sad reality but the government will not help them. This is short-sighted. Will the government fix this unfairness?

Persons with Disabilities
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Simcoe—Grey
Ontario

Conservative

Kellie Leitch Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development and to the Minister of Labour

Mr. Speaker, this government took unprecedented action by putting in place the registered disability savings plan. I think it is incumbent upon all of us as members to ensure that as many Canadians who have young children with disabilities or older individuals with disabilities know that it is available.

I encourage the member opposite and all other members to encourage those families that have children with disabilities or those older people with disabilities to register so that they have access to this great plan.

Canadian Food Inspection Agency
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

NDP

Jean Rousseau Compton—Stanstead, QC

Mr. Speaker, making cuts to food safety is not a good idea, even in times of fiscal restraint. This could give Canadians indigestion.

Instead of strengthening the safety of the Canadian food system, the Conservatives are telling consumers to take up their problems directly with the businesses concerned. That makes no sense.

Will the government monitor nut-free food production or will it take action only when there is a tragic event? It is unthinkable. It is unacceptable.

We have known for some time that the Conservatives could not care less about the advice of public servants, but do they really want to sacrifice our food system to their austerity crusade?

Canadian Food Inspection Agency
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell
Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Lemieux Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture

Mr. Speaker, we take food safety very seriously. I would like to point out that in this particular budget, over $50 million will be committed to continuing the enhanced surveillance, early detection and response capabilities for food-borne illness emergencies.

I would like to know if this member, after that lengthy question, will actually stand in his place and support this positive measure for improving food safety here in Canada?

Canadian Food Inspection Agency
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

NDP

Jean Rousseau Compton—Stanstead, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will certainly not support this budget when in another section it says that the budget of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency will be reduced by $56 million over the next three years.

It is already deplorable that we inspect less than 2% of all imported food. Now, the situation will worsen. The Conservatives had already started lowering standards for monitoring, labelling and regulatory compliance. Yesterday's budget is one more step in that direction.

Why does the government want to make cuts to the agency responsible for inspecting food when the number of employees is declining and they are asking for help on the front lines?

Canadian Food Inspection Agency
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell
Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Lemieux Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture

Mr. Speaker, I really do not understand my colleague's question at all.

I just mentioned that in this particular budget there is an additional $50 million for food safety. I am wondering how this member is going to vote after that lengthy question. I would also point out that in our last budget we included $100 million in additional funding for food safety, which that member voted against.

I believe that if the member is going to stand and ask questions about food safety, and if he wants to see additional funding for food safety, then he should also stand and vote in favour of this budget.

Air Transportation
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

NDP

Mathieu Ravignat Pontiac, QC

Mr. Speaker, not only will the Conservatives' budget affect the well-being of all Canadians, but it will also make air travel less safe.

The government introduced a safety management system that limited inspectors' access to planes, then it refused to protect the jobs of qualified mechanics working for Aveos. Now it is cutting the air transportation safety budget by 7%.

Why are the Conservatives so determined to endanger the safety of air travellers in this country?

Air Transportation
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Nepean—Carleton
Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, the truth is that our government will ensure the safety of Canadians. We will not measure our success in this area or in any other by how much it costs.

We will deliver the goods efficiently without spending more. Yesterday, the NDP announced that it wants a bailout plan for Aveos, which has wasted $1 billion, has declared bankruptcy, and is refusing to appear before a parliamentary committee to tell its side of the story. We will never agree to that.

Air Transportation
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

NDP

Mathieu Ravignat Pontiac, QC

Mr. Speaker, while the Conservatives figure out who is going to answer the question, what I will say is that I just do not get it why the government will interfere to prevent a strike but not interfere to save thousands of jobs for Canadians.

The combination of all of these cuts could create a perfect storm. After moving our inspectors out of airplanes and into offices, and cutting 7% of the aviation safety budget, the Conservatives are rolling the dice with the safety of Canadians. They will not even apply the law to make sure that Air Canada keeps its skilled maintenance workers at Aveos.

How can the minister justify reducing the measures that ensure the safety of Canadians?

Air Transportation
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia
Manitoba

Conservative

Steven Fletcher Minister of State (Transport)

Mr. Speaker, this member's rhetoric is really alarming and disappointing. It is beneath members of Parliament to suggest that any of us do not take the safety of Canadians as our first priority.

The savings will be of a nature that will not affect the safety of the airlines, and will respect taxpayers' money. The situation at Aveos is unfortunate. I feel for the families. However, we have a legal opinion that Air Canada is within its legal rights. Moreover, Air Canada said yesterday at committee that it wants to be able to hire many of those Aveos employees to continue to do the maintenance.

Science and Technology
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Conservative

Peter Braid Kitchener—Waterloo, ON

Mr. Speaker, our government is focused on jobs, economic growth and long-term prosperity. That is why our economic action plan 2012 will make significant investments in science and technology to encourage businesses to invest more in research and development and to continue to create world-leading talent across this country.

Would the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry please update the House on our government's continued commitment to science and technology?

Science and Technology
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont
Alberta

Conservative

Mike Lake Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, our government committed to strongly supporting university and college researchers, the National Research Council, Genome Canada, the Canada Foundation for Innovation, the industrial research assistance program, and the list goes on.

These investments will ensure Canada's long-term competitiveness, creating jobs, growing our economy and improving the quality of life of Canadians.

The Budget
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

NDP

Alexandrine Latendresse Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday's budget punishes all Canadians. Not only does it contain zero measures for job creation, but there is nothing to improve our municipal infrastructure.

We are not the only ones criticizing it. The Union des municipalities du Québec is also calling on the Conservatives to move on to serious concerns. There is nothing in this budget for public transit, affordable housing or infrastructure.

How can the Conservatives ignore the pressing needs of our municipalities?

The Budget
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Nepean—Carleton
Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, the best way to judge the state of Canada's infrastructure is to look at the average age of each piece of infrastructure. When we came to power, that age was 17 years. It is now 14 years. Our infrastructure is younger and more up to date than it has been in the past 30 years. We will continue to proceed with a program that is producing results, rather than spending just for the sake of spending.

The Budget
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

NDP

Rathika Sitsabaiesan Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, are the Conservatives trying to punish areas that did not vote for them by underfunding them? It really seems so. Cities are facing major funding gaps and the budget does nothing to address any of them.

Affordable housing? Not there. Public transit? Not there. Immigrant settlement services? Not there.

Most Canadians live in urban areas, but they are the ones who are going to be missing out.

When will the Conservatives accept their responsibilities to fund the services that Canadian cities rely upon?

The Budget
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia
Manitoba

Conservative

Steven Fletcher Minister of State (Transport)

Mr. Speaker, in fact, that member is wrong. Many MPs from the cities are Conservatives, but many are not.

What we are undertaking is a review of the building Canada fund to see what went well, what needs to be improved and what needs to be done. That will occur over the next two years.

In the interim, $10 billion is going to be invested in cities and infrastructure. This is an historic amount. No other government has put in so much.

The Budget
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

NDP

Françoise Boivin Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, over 1.3 million Canadians are currently unemployed. Yesterday's budget will add another 20,000 people to that number, most of them in our national capital region.

Is that what the Conservative government means by job creation? Cutting public services and reducing the number of people providing those services? When will the minister responsible for the national capital region stand up and defend the local economy?

The Budget
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, this government has brought forward some fair and balanced measures. Public servants are taxpayers too. The biggest threat to public services in Canada is skyrocketing deficits and out-of-control spending. That is why we have taken some fair and balanced measures.

There were some who were predicting, literally, 60,000 job losses in the capital. In fact, it is only going to be a small fraction of that.

Obviously, it is very difficult for any single person who loses his or her job, but we will ensure that they are treated fairly and reasonably. We have unprecedented investments in the national capital region, on both sides of the river. This will create more jobs, more hope and more opportunity.

The Budget
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

NDP

Paul Dewar Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I do not think the Conservatives understand the magnitude of the job losses. I am not sure if you received this tweet, Mr. Speaker, but this morning at 8 a.m. I received a tweet from the Government of Canada saying, “Start a career in the public service”. What career? They are killing 20,000 jobs.

The budget really is a cruel joke on Canadians, particularly Canadians who work for the public service. All we have here are job losses and service cuts. Where is the hope for good public services? Where is the opportunity for jobs?

The Budget
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

North Vancouver
B.C.

Conservative

Andrew Saxton Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board and for Western Economic Diversification

Mr. Speaker, our 2012 budget is a low tax, low debt plan focused on jobs, growth and long-term prosperity.

Our government's modest and measured action is subdued compared to the measures implemented in the mid-1990s. Public servants who lose their jobs will be treated fairly.

Public Safety
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Public Safety received a letter from the mother of student who goes to Canterbury High School in Ottawa. She says the member for Yorkton—Melville said some extraordinary things about giving people the right to carry arms and bear firearms and how that was good for public safety. He denied the statement, but now the woman in question has insisted that that is exactly what he said.

We also have the member for Calgary West who just put out an article saying “Where do we aim our guns now”, calling for even further weakening of our gun control legislation.

I would like to ask the minister, is it the policy of his government to encourage these expressions of vigilantism?

Public Safety
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Portage—Lisgar
Manitoba

Conservative

Candice Bergen Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, these baseless smears against the hon. member for Yorkton—Melville are terrible. They are beneath the leader of the third party.

This member has worked very hard for his constituents and has worked hard for law-abiding Canadians. I am proud of our caucus. I am proud of our government. We are finally ending the wasteful, ineffective long gun registry, and the member from Saskatchewan has done a great job in support of that.

Young People
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Liberal

Justin Trudeau Papineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives are doing away with Katimavik.

They claim it costs too much, but their own recent assessment found that this youth program is relevant, important and valuable. This program also benefits thousands of Canadians through more than 80,000 days of work a year at more than 500 community agencies across the country.

Claiming that a few exchange programs in Toronto or Quebec City will be better is insulting to our young people and their desire to be leaders—not leaders of tomorrow, but leaders of today.

Will the minister reverse this foolish decision?

Young People
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Oak Ridges—Markham
Ontario

Conservative

Paul Calandra Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, at the outset let me say how excited I am about Saturday's fundraising initiative. My mother and my father died of cancer, so anything that brings some attention to that cause, I am in favour of.

Specifically, since 1977, Katimavik has received roughly 99% of its funding from the Government of Canada. That is almost $400 million since it was created. It costs $28,000 for every young person it supports.

What we are going to do with the economic action plan is to focus on creating jobs and opportunity for all Canadians, for our young Canadians, and we are going to do it with programs and services that actually work.

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

NDP

Craig Scott Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, yesterday's budget showed once again that the Conservatives just do not seem to care when it comes to Canadian culture.

At least $115 million was cut from the CBC's budget. That means less unique Canadian programming and it means less local content. Canadians do count on the CBC to be informed, entertained and inspired.

Is the government actually trying to cripple the CBC? Why will it not defend this important Canadian cultural institution?

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Oak Ridges—Markham
Ontario

Conservative

Paul Calandra Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, at the outset let me say that this government has invested more in arts and culture than any government in the history of this country. We are the only country in the G7 that has not only maintained but actually also increased funding for arts and culture.

The Canada Council is receiving the largest amount of funding it ever has, and through the economic action plan that is going to continue. Our museums are receiving the largest amount of funding, and that will be protected in the economic action plan going forward

On this side of the House, we understand that arts and culture is good for the economy and good for jobs. That is why we are going to continue to invest in it.

We asked our friends at the CBC to be part of helping us bring our budget back into balance. They are participating in that because they know it is good for the economy.

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

NDP

Hélène Laverdière Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the Conservatives showed once again that culture and information matter little to them: $115 million in cuts to the CBC amounts to a direct attack on our public broadcaster.

When will this government realize that when it attacks the CBC it is attacking our culture, our heritage and an important vehicle for presenting the issues facing our society?

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Oak Ridges—Markham
Ontario

Conservative

Paul Calandra Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, we are very proud of the investments we have already made in Canada's cultural sector. We on this side of the House know that these investments are very important for Canada's economy.

Unfortunately, the NDP and the Liberals voted against all those investments. I hope that they will vote in favour of our artists and Canadian culture the next time they have the chance.

Natural Resources
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Ray Boughen Palliser, SK

Mr. Speaker, there are over $500 billion in potential investment in our resource sectors. This investment will create hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions in economic growth. However, we are competing with countries around the world for this investment. It is not guaranteed. We cannot sit back and just wait for it to happen.

Could the parliamentary secretary tell the House how our government will unleash Canada's full resource potential?

Natural Resources
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Cypress Hills—Grasslands
Saskatchewan

Conservative

David Anderson Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources and for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, while the no development party is opposing all investment in the Canadian economy, our government is creating hundreds of thousands of new jobs.

We need to modernize a one project, one review regulatory system with clear timelines from beginning to end. That will help move Canada's economy forward. It will benefit Plan Nord in Quebec, the Ring of Fire in Ontario, mining in British Columbia and all of Canada.

Canadians also need to know that we are enhancing environmental protection, with more safety measures for pipelines and tankers.

This is good news for the economy, for the environment and for Canada.

Employment Insurance
Oral Questions

Noon

Liberal

Scott Andrews Avalon, NL

Mr. Speaker, yesterday's budget draws attention to “an individual’s past history with the EI program”. The minister needs to explain this reference.

What comfort does the government have for fish plant workers from my riding who depend solely on seasonal work? They work in a struggling industry, do not have access to other part-time employment and depend on their employment insurance benefits to make ends meet.

Will the minister assure seasonal workers that the government will not change their access to EI benefits?

Employment Insurance
Oral Questions

Noon

Simcoe—Grey
Ontario

Conservative

Kellie Leitch Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development and to the Minister of Labour

Mr. Speaker, our government's top priority is job creation, economic growth and long-term prosperity. The government is making improvements to the EI program to ensure that it is fair, continues to meet the needs of Canadians and is responsive to local labour market demands. As we face unprecedented skill shortages, it will be critical that we work to help Canadians find available jobs as quickly as possible.

We will work to better the Canadian EI system and give Canadians the tools they need to obtain gainful employment.

International Cooperation
Oral Questions

Noon

NDP

Sana Hassainia Verchères—Les Patriotes, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is not just the environment that was put on the back burner in this budget. The Conservatives confirmed that they will once again slash spending related to foreign aid and diplomacy.

By 2014, Canada's foreign aid to GDP ratio will be the lowest it has ever been.

Why are the Conservatives balancing their budget at the expense of the poorest people in the world? Why not improve Canada's position on the international stage and try to make a difference in developing countries?

International Cooperation
Oral Questions

Noon

Durham
Ontario

Conservative

Bev Oda Minister of International Cooperation

Mr. Speaker, this government is committed to aid that is focused, effective and delivers results for people on the ground. However, first and foremost, we are accountable to hard-working Canadians whose tax dollars we are spending.

We are building on our successes and lessons learned to provide the best aid for our aid dollars. It is about making a difference. It is about results, and we are delivering those results.

Foreign Affairs
Oral Questions

Noon

Conservative

John Weston West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, BC

Mr. Speaker, earlier this month the world was shocked to read about the excesses of the Assad family shopping for crystal shoes and golden candlesticks, literally while Syria was burning.

Despite months of empty promises, Assad and his regime have failed to deliver on promises of peace and restraint.

On April 1, our Minister of Foreign Affairs will be in Istanbul, Turkey to participate in the Friends of Syria meeting. In advance of this meeting, would the minister please update the House on the recent steps Canada has taken to bear pressure on the Assad regime?

Foreign Affairs
Oral Questions

Noon

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, Canada is standing with the Syrian people in their hour of need. Canada is, today, imposing our seventh round of sanctions against the brutal and increasingly out-of-touch regime in Damascus.

These latest sanctions target those who profit from their association with the regime, those closest to Assad, including his wife Asma and his mother. We are joining the European Union in putting sanctions against those two individuals and others.

Assad's family members may be kept shielded from the misery of the average Syrian, but they will not be immune from the international will. Our position remains clear that Assad must go and we are committed, particularly on the humanitarian front, to providing support to the Syrians.

National Defence
Oral Questions

Noon

NDP

Dany Morin Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

Mr. Speaker, almost a quarter of the cuts in yesterday's budget affect defence and the Canadian Forces. Our armed forces and their families are wondering how they will be affected by these cuts. There is a cloud of doubt hanging over many military bases across the country, including the base in Bagotville, in my riding. There is nothing in yesterday's budget to reassure the families who depend on military bases to earn their living.

Can the government finally be transparent and tell us the extent of the cuts that will be made to our military bases? It is the least it can do.

National Defence
Oral Questions

Noon

Vaughan
Ontario

Conservative

Julian Fantino Associate Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, this government has made unprecedented investments in the Canadian Forces in recent years. In fact, since 2006, the defence budget has grown by an average of over $1 billion annually. Over the past two years, we have examined ways to implement cost-saving measures to ensure efficiency and effectiveness combined with the end of the combat missions. National defence will now return to a more normal pace of operation.

Departments will be informed, unions and employees, about the specific changes and we will communicate those accordingly.

The Budget
Oral Questions

12:05 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-François Fortin Haute-Gaspésie—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Minister of Finance tabled a shameful budget that will hurt Quebec and the regions, as well as all seasonal workers in the tourism, forest and fishing industries, who are losing five weeks of unemployment.

The government is punishing seniors by increasing the retirement age to 67. Quebec is being saddled with the cost of justice, public services are being reduced, the CBC's budget is being cut, funding for Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions is being cut by $62 million. There is nothing for agriculture or housing. What is more, the government is making drastic cuts to forestry programs.

My question for the government is simple: how could it be any worse?

The Budget
Oral Questions

12:05 p.m.

Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière
Québec

Conservative

Jacques Gourde Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, our budget focuses on Quebeckers' real priorities: jobs, economic growth and long-term prosperity. This budget maintains transfers to Quebec. Health transfers will continue to increase steadily and more quickly than provincial expenditures. We will create long-term jobs through research, innovation and responsible investments, which will benefit all Quebeckers.

Statements by Members
Points of Order
Oral Questions

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, my point of order is with regard to the members' statements that began this session.

I have been here for eight years. I take quite a bit of delight in bringing attention to events and people in my riding who do wonderful things. I am sure every member in the House does much the same for all the right reasons.

Members' statements that preceded question period were shameful. It was all an extension of debate in the House that we should be doing during debate. It is 15 minutes in a day. Could we not talk about the people and events of this great country for just that period of the day?

Could you please make a ruling on that, Mr. Speaker, and come back with an opinion?

Statements by Members
Points of Order
Oral Questions

12:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

As the member knows, members are given a great deal of latitude during statements to discuss issues that they feel are important to them or things in their constituencies. I did not hear anything today that would cause the Chair concern, but I am happy to get back to the member after reviewing the blues.

Government Response to Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8) I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to five petitions.

International Trade
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

South Shore—St. Margaret's
Nova Scotia

Conservative

Gerald Keddy Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the third report of the Standing Committee on International Trade in relation to a study of the Trade Commissioner Service.

Pursuant to Standing Order 109 of the House of Commons the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to this report.

Criminal Code
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Conservative

Joy Smith Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, today I have the honour of presenting several hundred petitions in support of my Bill C-310, which will go to third reading today. These petitions were totally unsolicited by me.

I am pleased to see that these people are supporting the bill, as are all members on all sides of the House.

Asbestos
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to rise today to present a petition signed by literally tens of thousands of Canadians who call upon the House of Commons to take note that asbestos is the greatest industrial killer that the world has ever known.

The petitioners point out that more Canadians now die from asbestos than all other industrial and occupational causes combined and yet this country remains one of the largest producers and exporters of asbestos in the world. They also point out that Canada spends millions of dollars subsidizing the asbestos industry and blocking international efforts to curb its use.

Therefore, the petitioners call upon the government to ban asbestos in all of its forms and institute a just transition program for asbestos workers and the communities in which they live. They also call upon government to end all subsidies of asbestos, both in Canada and abroad. Finally, and perhaps most important, they call on the government to stop blocking international health and safety conventions designed to protect workers from asbestos, such as the Rotterdam Convention.

Air Canada
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I have the pleasure to present two petitions today.

The first petition deals with the Air Canada and Aveos concern. Across Canada, literally thousands of individuals are now unemployed because of the government's refusal to take legal action against Air Canada.

The petitioners, in this case from the province of Manitoba, call on the government to take the necessary action to hold Air Canada accountable to the Air Canada Public Participation Act.

Old Age Security
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, my second petition deals with the OAS.

The petitioners call upon the government to revisit the issue of increasing the qualification age from 65 to 67, recognizing that individuals should be able to retire at the age of 65. They believe very firmly in that.

Abortion
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

Gary Schellenberger Perth—Wellington, ON

Madam Speaker, I have a petition from 27 members of my community.

The petitioners state that Canada is the only nation in the western world, in the company of China and North Korea, without any laws restricting abortion and that Canada's Supreme Court has said that it is Parliament's responsibility to enact abortion legislation.

Therefore, they call upon the House of Commons and Parliament assembled to speedily enact legislation that restricts abortion to the greatest extent possible.

Housing
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, it seems a little ironic to stand today to present petitions on issues that are so pressing and which were so completely ignored in yesterday's budget.

The first petition deals with the need for affordable housing. The petitioners had hoped to see something in the budget that would allow for the tax benefits that once existed for purpose-built, affordable rental housing.

The petitioners are from the Ottawa area, and they ask the House to continue to look at the need for affordable housing.

The Environment
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, the second petition deals with the issue of allowing full, fair, appropriate environmental reviews to take place, specifically with respect to the Enbridge project, the great pipeline of China, to deliver bitumen crude to tankers which will take it to foreign refineries where foreign workers will benefit from the jobs.

Of course, this is an area specifically targeted in yesterday's budget, not to ensure full, fair, transparent and unbiased review, but to call for fast-tracking and railroading toward a government objective that flies in the face of the best interests of this country economically and environmentally.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, the following questions will be answered today: Nos. 459 and 462.

Question No. 459
Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Mount Royal, QC

With respect to Bill C-10, An Act to enact the Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act and to amend the State Immunity Act, the Criminal Code, the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, the Youth Criminal Justice Act, the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and other Acts: (a) what steps did the Minister of Justice undertake to conduct a review pursuant to sbs. 4.1(1) of the Department of Justice Act to ensure Bill C-10’s constitutionality and compliance with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms; (b) will the Minister table the review mentioned in subquestion (a) before the House; (c) did the Minister review Bill C-10 in light of section 7 of the Charter regarding cruel and unusual punishments; (d) did the Minister conclude that Bill C-10 respects section 7 of the Charter; (e) has the government undertaken cost projections with respect to litigating challenges to C-10’s constitutionality and, if so, how much has been allocated; and (f) does the government plan to amend Bill C-10 in light of the R. v. Smickle decision?

Question No. 459
Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Niagara Falls
Ontario

Conservative

Rob Nicholson Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, in response to (a), (b), (c), and (d), Bill C-10 is a comprehensive bill that includes reforms that were previously proposed in nine bills introduced in the last session of Parliament.

Bill C-10 includes the following former bills: Bill C-4, Sébastien’s Law (Protecting the Public from Violent Young Offenders), proposed to amend the Youth Criminal Justice Act;

Bill C-5, the Keeping Canadians Safe Act, proposed to amend the International Transfer of Offenders Act;

Bill C-16, known as the Ending House Arrest for Property and Other Serious Crimes by Serious and Violent Offenders Act, proposed Criminal Code amendments to prevent the use of conditional sentences for serious and violent offences;

Bill C-23B, the Eliminating Pardons for Serious Crimes Act, proposed to amend the Criminal Records Act to expand the period of ineligibility to apply for a record suspension, currently referred to as a pardon, and to make record suspensions unavailable for certain offences and for persons who have been convicted of more than three offences prosecuted by indictment;

Bill C-39, the Ending Early Release for Criminals and Increasing Offender Accountability Act, proposed amendments to the Corrections and Conditional Release Act to support victims of crime, and to address inmate accountability and responsibility and the management of offenders;

Bill C-54, the Protecting Children from Sexual Predators Act, proposed Criminal Code amendments to better protect children against sexual abuse, including by increasing the penalties for these offences and creating two new offences aimed at certain conduct that could facilitate or enable the commission of a sexual offence against a child;

Bill C-56, the Preventing the Trafficking, Abuse and Exploitation of Vulnerable Immigrants Act, proposed to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to authorize immigration officers to refuse work permits where it would protect vulnerable foreign nationals against exploitation, including sexual exploitation;

Bill S-7, the Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act, proposed reforms to allow victims of terrorism to sue terrorists and supporters of terrorism, including listed foreign states;

Bill S-10, the Penalties for Organized Drug Crime Act, proposed amendments to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to provide mandatory minimum penalties for serious drug offences, including when offences are carried out for organized crime purposes, or if they involve targeting youth, or where other stated aggravating factors are present.

Pursuant to subsection 4.1(1) of the Department of Justice Act, the Minister of Justice is required to examine every government bill presented to the House of Commons in order to ascertain whether any of its provisions are inconsistent with the purposes and provisions of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the charter, and to report to the House of Commons on any such inconsistency.

Each of the component bills that make up Bill C-10 were reviewed for consistency with the purposes and relevant provisions of the charter. Such reviews constitute legal advice and are subject to solicitor-client privilege. The Minister of Justice is confident that Bill C-10 is not inconsistent with the charter.

In response to (e), notices of constitutional challenge to provisions of the Criminal Code and other federal statutes are considered on a case-by-case basis. Generally the attorney general of the province where the challenge is brought, namely the attorney general that has prosecuted the offence, would respond to the challenge. The Attorney General of Canada determines on a case-by-case basis whether to intervene to defend the constitutional validity, particularly at the appellate level. Where the Attorney General of Canada does not intervene, our officials provide assistance as needed to the attorney general of the province to do so.

The Attorney General of Canada has sufficient capacity to defend the constitutional validity of the provisions of Bill C-10 and/or to assist the attorneys general of the provinces to do so.

In response to (f), the government does not intend to amend Bill C-10 in light of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice decision in R. v. Smickle.

The Attorney General of Ontario has filed a notice of appeal with the Court of Appeal for Ontario

Question No. 462
Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Mount Royal, QC

With respect to the government’s filing in L. and M. v. Attorney General (Canada) and Attorney General (Quebec) regarding same-sex couples married in Canada but comprised of one or more non-residence spouses: (a) by what process was the filing reviewed, by which government employees, and on what dates; (b) did the Minister of Justice or his office, or any other agent or officer of the government, issue any directive with specific regard to this case, and, if so, what were the contents of the directives or memo; (c) has the government amended its filing; (d) if the government has amended its filing, in what way has it done so, and, if not, why not; (e) will the government withdraw its filing; (f) who was the highest-ranking official to have approved the filing and when did this occur; and (g) is it the government’s policy to make similar filings in cases of this nature?

Question No. 462
Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Niagara Falls
Ontario

Conservative

Rob Nicholson Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, the Attorney General of Canada’s answer to the application in L and M v. Attorney General of Canada and Attorney General of Ontario was filed on June 29, 2011. The answers to the six specific questions posed are as follows.

In response to (a), the filing was reviewed by counsel in the family, children and youth section and the human rights law section at Justice Canada’s national headquarters, as well as by officials in the Ontario regional office, including their litigation committee at a meeting on June 15, 2011. The reviews took place from mid-April to mid-June of 2011.

In response to (b), no directive was issued with regard to this case by the Minister of Justice, his office or any other agent or officer of the Government of Canada. In response to (c), (d), and (e), the filing has not been amended. A preliminary motion challenging the applicants’ standing to challenge the constitutionality of the Divorce Act on the basis that their marriage was not legally valid in Canada was discontinued on January 17, 2012. On February 17, 2012, the Government of Canada tabled Bill C-32, an Act to amend the Civil Marriage Act, which would change the law in Canada to allow non-residents who were married in Canada to access divorce where they are unable to do so in their country of residence because their Canadian marriage is not recognized.

In response to (f), the answer was reviewed and approved by the litigation committee of the Ontario regional office of Justice Canada. That committee comprises the senior litigators in the regional office and the regional director general. That approval was given on June 15, 2011.

In response to (g), on February 17, 2012, the government introduced Bill C-32, An Act to amend the Civil Marriage Act. This bill would fill the legislative gap left in the Civil Marriage Act by the previous government.

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, if Question No. 464 could be made an order for return, this return would be tabled immediately.

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

Is that agreed?

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Question No. 464
Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

NDP

Mylène Freeman Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

With regard to Confidential Services for Victims of Abuse (CSVA) program: (a) what steps are being taken to ensure stronger federal-provincial coordination in the delivery of CSVA; (b) once a victim enters the CSVA, what steps are being taken to make sure that access to a secure identity is provided as quickly as possible; (c) how does the CSVA ensure that victims receive adequate support and services during the period in which their new identities are being processed; (d) how does the CSVA adequately provide access to secure housing and financial support for victims entering the program; (e) how does the government intend to redress the fact that victims in the CSVA program in the past were not provided with adequate housing and financial security; (f) what steps are being taken to ensure that the victims entering into the CSVA program now will not face similar difficulties with accessing housing and financial security; (g) what services are provided to victims in the CSVA program after the secure identity is obtained; (h) how are these services coordinated among the provinces and between each province and the federal government; (i) in the event that the secure identity is compromised or revealed, what recourse within the program is available to victims; (j) how can victims whose secure identity is compromised access further services and support; (k) if a victim has complaints about CSVA services received, what recourse is available to them; (l) if a victim has complaints about the timeliness of services provided, what recourse is available to them; (m) what is the timeline for distribution of services in the CSVA program; (n) how is the timeline for distribution of services from the CVSA coordinated with the provinces; and (o) what is the government’s policy concerning the relationship between the CSVA and its international obligation to protect women and girls from violence?

(Return tabled)

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Madam Speaker, I ask that the remaining questions be allowed to stand.

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

Is that agreed?

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that this House approves in general the budgetary policy of the government.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

12:10 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to continue this discussion. I have already flagged it will take some time to go over the Conservatives' economic record and what they have done with the budget to provoke a worsening of the Canadian economy.

Madam Speaker, to start off with, I would like to say through you to Canadians who have been sending in all sorts of commentary by emails, faxes, tweets, and messages on Facebook that I will read some, but by no means will I be able to read all of them today. There has been such a huge amount of information coming in.

I want to thank Canadians very much for making their thoughts known and to encourage other Canadians who are concerned about the reckless and meanspirited cuts that are contained in the Conservative budget, the cuts to old age security and the cuts that we saw in December to the long-term sustainability of our health care system, to write or to phone their local NDP MPs. If they do not have an NDP MP yet, we certainly encourage them to phone the nearest NDP MP across the country, because this information is very important.

I want to thank all of the people who are writing to us and sending us messages via Twitter, Facebook, email and fax, as well as the people who are calling us. Their thoughts are important.

I will read some of their messages before getting back to the Conservatives' lack of credibility on economic matters. First up, a woman from Montreal's south shore posted this message on Facebook: “This is a partisan and biased budget that will not help the country or its people. This budget was created by and for Conservatives. Is that what democracy is about nowadays? I think that we should remind the Prime Minister, who was elected by fewer than two out of five voters—fewer than one in four Canadians of voting age, taking voter participation rates into account—that he has to consider the 75% of Canadians who did not vote for him. The nation's budget is a budget for all Canadians, and I am willing to bet that this budget does not respond to the needs of 75% of Canadians. Just who is this government working for?”

A man in Montreal wrote, “Isn't it more than a little suspicious that the Conservative government, which is suspected of bending the rules and has been found guilty of violating the Elections Act, has cut Elections Canada's budget? That should raise more than a few eyebrows.”

I have many other messages here, but I will not read them all. I had to put many of them aside because question period was just 45 minutes long. Canadian families are certainly interested in this budget, but not in a good way. Canadian families are very worried.

Here is another comment. We have received a number of comments about the programs that have been eliminated, including the following comment from a person in the West Island area of Montreal.

Here is a little bit of good news for the Conservatives. A Canadian says that abolishing the penny is a good move. We have said that this is a penny-wise and pound foolish budget. Certainly we do not mind the abolition of the penny. In fact, it was the member for Winnipeg Centre who first raised this issue in the House of Commons. He has succeeded in his campaign. It will save money for the Royal Canadian Mint.

However, that was the only good thing this individual had to say about the budget. He went on to say, “That very minor point aside, there are numerous serious flaws in this budget from obfuscation on details to ideological moves towards libertarian chaos that the Prime Minister seems to be fond of.” He also said that the New Democratic MPs should keep up the great work.

Someone in Manitoba wrote, “The amount in the budget is a really inadequate amount for Canada's first nations. We will no doubt continue to hear of horror stories on reserves that are far enough north that they will not be easily seen by Canadians. The government continues to believe that most Canadians do not care about what is happening in aboriginal communities. They are wrong.”

Someone in Ontario wrote, “I heard your interview on Anna Maria Tremonti's program this morning on the CBC. Good job. There was also one person who was interviewed who brought up a good point about the budget and R and D. Some of the best innovation in Canada for all types of enterprises have come from our large cities in part because a large influx of immigrants bring all types of talent and work experiences from around the world, but this government is removing itself from the type of co-operative federalism and seems to be doing it from a perspective of ideology. This will leave our cities underfunded as provinces will struggle with their own budgets.”

We made that point as well. This is where we miss Jack Layton. He came from municipal politics and had a deep understanding of the needs of cities and the influence they will play in the future as a result of globalization.

The individual also wrote, “Hopefully the NDP will keep a careful eye on the impact of the federal budget and on provincial budgets as a result of this federal budget.”

We have a number of comments about the cuts to Katimavik. I will read some of them. As I said, the comments are flooding in and we will certainly endeavour to intersperse the comments we are getting from Canadians. As New Democrat MPs, it is our job to bring those comments to the floor of the House of Commons along with prepared presentations that we are getting as well.

My colleague from Dartmouth—Cole Harbour just mentioned another one and I thank him for that. We live in a very interactive world. It is instantaneous. As soon as Canadians raise these concerns, we can bring them to the floor of the House of Commons. Evidently, there is a lot of opposition developing to this budget. People are emailing, twittering, and posting on Facebook their concerns.

A grade 12 student at Auburn Drive High School in Dartmouth said:

Seeing that yesterday the Conservatives and the budget cut has had a serious impact on my life and all those who are anticipating the dates on which we were able to go, the cutting of Katimavik is a serious blow to my future plans and without it I am completely unable to know what I am able to do without such a wonderful program. I have talked to many people about the amazing things that the Katimavik program does for youth participating within it. It helps not only students like myself learning to grow into a more mature and successful adult, but it also helps the community in which Katimavik is placed into. It is an opportunity for youth to do some good, to learn about the vastness of Canadian cultures as well as a volunteer program that had no reason to be cut. It does more good than harm. This is a serious issue. Please work as hard as you can to restore funding to Katimavik. Thank you for reading.

I thank her for writing in.

I have another message from a young woman from Saint Hubert who said, “I am writing to you about something that is very important to me and that is Katimavik. I just learned that this program will not be receiving any more funding from this government. That really saddens me because I am currently in the program. I just finished my first three months of the program and I have been living in Lethbridge, Alberta. Now, for the past two days, I have been in Sainte-Foy, Quebec. The fact that this program will be cut makes me really sad because before this program I had no idea what I wanted to do in life. Now, after going through these first three months I know exactly what I want to do”.

That is another young Canadian writing to us to denounce yet another program elimination by this government for purely ideological reasons.

Here is another message, from Sherbrooke this time, “I have not had time to read the Conservatives' entire budget yet, but I see that they have cut the Katimavik social program. I believe it is a very worthwhile program for youth development in our Canadian communities”.

I have received a message from a woman in the Eastern Townships. She just wrote to me on Facebook about the elimination of the Katimavik program and she thanks me for my prompt reply.

I will read one last comment. I have received so many that I could go on reading them, but I get the impression that this afternoon's session cannot be extended, unless the Minister of Foreign Affairs wants me to keep reading these emails.

I will read one last one about Katimavik, from Vancouver.

The email says, “Our family has been supporters of yours. We also strongly support Katimavik. Today's announcement to end Katimavik was a shock to me. Our family has been a host family with this organization for a long time. We have kept boys and girls from all over Canada in our home. All of them have been friendly, articulate and unique. Some of their best qualities grew and flourished through this program. Katimavik has nurtured young people to grow up, be great and give back to Canada. I believe the decision to terminate its funding was a short-sighted one. Please do your best to battle this decision.”

I would like to thank all of those who are writing in about Katimavik, about the cuts to food safety, the cuts to transportation safety and the cuts to environmental assessment.

The NDP caucus will continue to fight for these people on the floor of the House of Commons because Canadian families deserve better than they got in this budget.

I also received a couple other emails that are not directly related to the budget, but I thought I would answer them just the same. One of them was not a very kind email. It basically said, “Where does your suit come from?”, I think implying that, given the collapse of the manufacturing sector, I must buy my suits offshore. Madam Speaker, through you, I want to assure that Canadian that this suit is made by unionized workers in Hamilton, Ontario. I believe in supporting Canadian manufacturers. I am very proud of the suit.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

12:25 p.m.

NDP

Robert Chisholm Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Me too.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

12:25 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

And the member for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, as well.

The second less kind comment I received was, “Who are you to comment on the Conservative economic record?”, implying that we should not question what the Prime Minister's Office puts out as a spin to cover up Conservative failures. That person implied that somehow I had not worked in a real job.

I just want to say through you, Madam Speaker, to this Canadian, I started working at the age of 12. I worked as a manual labourer for many years, saved up my money to go back to university as an adult learner and became a financial administrator. I worked for a number of organizations, both nationally and in the province of British Columbia, as a financial administrator. I always balanced my budgets, paid down debt and maintained services. That is a particular talent of New Democrats.

As financial administrator and executive director for WIDHH, a social enterprise, I was fortunate, on behalf of that organization, to be a recipient of the Consumer Choice Award for Excellence in Business in 2003 and 2004. My longest affiliation, of course, has been with the New Westminster Chamber of Commerce. I am also a proud member of the Burnaby Board of Trade.

This NDP caucus, the largest in history elected to this Parliament, including the class of 2011, which is a brilliant and dynamic class, comes from a wide variety of backgrounds. We have business experience. We have labour experience. We have experience in a wide variety of occupations, running small businesses, as doctors, as lawyers, as teachers, as nurses, as people who have come from manual professions. There has never been so much diversity around occupations as we see in the current NDP caucus. We bring that multitude of experience, that raw depth of experience to the House of Commons.

The other point that I want to raise is the NDP's record on fiscal management. Members should know that the annual fiscal period returns published by the Ministry of Finance show which parties are best at balancing budgets. It is important to note that every year now for 20 years, as the fiscal period returns are presented, one party outshines the rest. Now, of course, the NDP governments that are part of those fiscal period returns are provincial governments. We have not yet governed at the federal level. We are fighting very hard to be governing as of October 20, 2015.

However, NDP provincial governments, compared with Conservative and Liberal provincial and federal governments, have had the best record at balancing budgets and paying down debt for every single one of those 20 years.

So, to the individual who asked who am I to question to the Conservatives and who is the NDP to question the Conservatives, it comes from having strong fiscal management experience on a personal level, always managing money and paying down debt without cutting services, because that is how Canadian families do it. They do not invest for thrills like F35 fighter jets and stick to it even when the budget goes from $9 billion, to $13 billion, to $15 billion, to $20 billion, to $25 billion, to $30 billion, to now somewhere between $30 billion and $40 billion.

With an NDP government in power, we would have tendered it in the first place and kept the close cost accounting in place so that boondoggle, that fiasco, would never have occurred. I will come back to that in a moment.

The government pushed through the crime bill to build more prisons in the country. I will come back to the study that evaluates the overall cost at $19 billion, at a time when the crime rate is falling. This agenda was put forward for political reasons. If we look at that package, we can say that the NDP does have the best record—

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

12:30 p.m.

Liberal

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

Madam Speaker, on a point of order, there does not appear to be a quorum in the House, requiring 20 members.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

12:30 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

I now see quorum.

On a point of order, the hon. Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

John Baird Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

Madam Speaker, I wonder if I might ask for a ruling. For 20 minutes, there were no members of the Liberal Party present. Is the House allowed to sit when there are no members of the Liberal caucus in the House?

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

12:30 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

On the hon. minister's question, the rules forbid members from mentioning the absence or presence of members in the House.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

John Baird Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

I respect your ruling, Madam Speaker. I want to categorically withdraw that I mentioned there were no Liberal members in the House.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

12:30 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Madam Speaker, the final point is in regard to the feedback I received during question period.

A number of individuals wanted me to do a quick recap of the information I gave out in the first hour of debate. They said that they wanted to take some notes because they had not received this information from Statistics Canada, and understandably so. We are bringing forward this economic information so that Canadians can compare the difference between the rhetoric we get from the Conservative government and the reality. I will quickly recap the concerns I mentioned in the first hour of debate.

First, we have a record merchandise trade deficit. In other words, we have never had a deficit this large on our exports of manufactured goods in Canadian history.

Second, the current account deficit on balance of payments covers all exports. We have never had a greater deficit in that regard in Canadian history. It simply shows that the raw materials, bitumen, logs and minerals, we are shipping out of the country, along with the value added jobs that should go with them, simply have not compensated Canadians. In fact, it is quite the opposite. It has accelerated the economic decline of Canada.

Third, manufacturing jobs are at the lowest level since we first started keeping records in 1976,. At that time there were about 1.75 million jobs. Today, under the present government, manufacturing jobs stand at 1.7 million.

Fourth was the issue around lost jobs. We lost over 50,000 jobs in the last quarter of 2011 and the first couple of months of 2012. I will come back to how that is accelerated by the budget. I also said that the job losses over the last six months have been disastrous.

I also raised the point that the government was simply wrong to wildly throw figures around saying that it had created jobs. The actual figure is 200,000 net new jobs since May 2008, which might sound like the government has done something, except that the labour force grew by 500,000 people over the same period. We are well over 250,000 jobs short just for the new job seekers who are going into the labour market.

The final point I had made this morning was that the vast majority of the so-called 200,000 net new jobs since May 2008 were part-time. Estimates are that as high as 80% of those so-called net new jobs are actually part-time.

I will now go on to what all those economic values have meant for the average Canadian family. The first is something I think would be clear to most members. When we look at the job losses we have seen over the last few months, the fact that the jobs being created are part-time and also the fact that the jobs being created as a whole are paying less than the jobs we have lost, it comes as no surprise that we have seen over the past year a real wage reduction. In other words, we believe Canadians deserve a raise. Under the Conservative government, we have actually seen falling wages because the inflation rate is much higher than any increases in salaries, whether those are for part-time or full-time workers.

As a result of that, Canadian families from coast to coast to coast are finding it more difficult to make ends meet and more difficult to move forward. They are finding it harder and harder to keep a roof over their heads, to buy clothes for their kids for school and to ensure their medication is taken care of. It is not just a perception. It is a reality that, under the Conservatives, Canadians are poor.

A real wage reduction has taken place. Last year it was about 2%. In previous years it was smaller than that but over time Canadians are earning less and less. However, that is not for all income categories. Under the Conservatives, 20% of the top income earners have seen their incomes skyrocket by well over 30%. We are now seeing a small minority of high income earners taking half of the income pie in the country. We are now seeing middle class and poor Canadian families receiving a smaller piece of the pie while more and more of the pie is going to a small proportion of people.

One of the chief problems that Canadian families are facing as they struggle to make ends meet is the fact that, as part-time work replaces full-time work, salaries continue to decline. That is relative to a couple of phenomena. First is the fact that the jobs being lost are full-time and the so-called net new jobs are largely part-time or temporary, which does not give people the chance to raise a family. They are not family sustaining jobs if people are going from contract to contract month to month. That is one part of the dynamic.

The second part of the dynamic is that the Conservatives have lost the high paying, value added, family sustaining jobs. We have seen 400,000 manufacturing jobs lost over the course of just six years of the government of the day. I hate to see what another six years might bring. What that means is that as these new jobs come on the market, which are largely part-time or temporary, the wage levels go down by about $10,000.

We need to look at this picture. This is a key Conservative economic failure. The jobs that have been lost paid $10,000 a year more than the jobs that the government is managing to create in today's economy with billions and billions of dollars in corporate tax breaks. Ten thousand dollars a year less means over time that has helped to contribute to what has been a clear erosion in the quality of life and standard of living of Canadians.

I will now move on to the next index of Conservative economic failure. I talked earlier about record levels of inequality. It now reads in the OECD that, because of the government's policies, we are seeing above average inequality in Canada. Three million Canadians are living below the low income cut-off line and the richest 20% of Canadians now earn most of the Canadian income pie.

What have all these dynamics, the rising inequality, the falling levels of full employment and jobs and falling levels of wages, meant? They have meant, as a whole, that for the average Canadian household to make ends meet, to ensure the kids have new clothes or adequate cloths for school, ensure the kids have school books, ensure their elderly parents have their medication and supports in place and ensure everyone in the family is being taken care of, they are now, tragically, going into more and more debt.

This situation is nothing less than a debt crisis in our country among average Canadian families. The average debt to income ratio is now well over 150%, which means we are talking about debt levels that cannot be resolved in a year or two or three of income. We are talking about crippling levels of debt.

Members will recall the last time a country reached those kinds of debt to income ratios was the United States, at 160%, just before the collapse in 2008.

The Governor of the Bank of Canada has warned about this and consumers organizations are concerned about this. We are hearing a wide variety of professionals, like the Certified General Accountants Association of Canada, raising concerns about a crisis level of debt in the average Canadian family.

However, it is inevitable with this push to the bottom that has taken place under the present government. There is no doubt, with the policies it has put in place, with the cuts to services and benefits, such the OAS and health care support, as well as producing lower paying jobs and part-time jobs and getting rid of the value added full-time family sustaining jobs of before, which is the only way to put it because the government seems to be deliberately putting policies in place to cripple our manufacturing sector, that is what has led to crippling levels of debt in this country under the watch of the government.

What we are seeing increasingly is a country where a small number of Canadians are benefiting from the government's policies while the vast majority of middle class and poor families are struggling under record debt loads, trying to cobble together two or three part-time jobs just to keep a roof over their head and struggling to keep their head above water.

That is the context of the budget that was presented yesterday. It is nothing less than a slap in the face for middle class and poor Canadian families. It strips away some of the services they depend on. It forces them to work longer after a full working life struggling to make ends meet. And, with the announcement in December in Victoria, it also undercuts our health care system, which is not only the chief economic advantage that Canadian companies have compared to their American counterparts but it is also one of the most important aspects of the Canadian social safety net.

The Conservatives will say that they have failed on all of these various indices, jobs, exports, wages and debt, and yet they say that we are doing better than other countries. When we think about it, that has really been the their message. They mention Forbes magazine, too, but far less often these days since Davos, Switzerland and the Prime Minister's speech to the world billionaires.

We need to look at the facts. I have the GDP growth rankings. If the Conservatives failed in all these other measures, we will perhaps see how well they are doing in terms of overall growth.

In terms of the projected economic growth for 2012 in industrialized countries, the OECD countries, Canada ranks in 14th place. When we think of the economy six or seven years ago when we were doing better, although with the Liberal government it was hard to tell as it did not manage the economy generally very well at all, we have now been dragged down to cellar dwellers within the OECD numbers.

Now we need to look at how Canada did in 2011 in projected economic growth worldwide. The Conservatives will say that, yes, we are at the bottom in the OECD but that we did better worldwide. Unfortunately, I have bad news for them. This is not something they will find in the Prime Minister's Office speaking points but it is important to have the facts on the table.

I will ask my colleagues if they think Canada ranked in the top 20 worldwide? No. Anybody for top 30? Anyone for top 40?

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12:40 p.m.

Liberal

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

Forty-six.

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NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

We have 46 over there. I thank my colleague from Newfoundland and Labrador.

Anyone for top 60? Anyone for top 80? Anyone for he top 100? Anyone for top 110? Anyone for top 120?

No, in economic growth under the Conservative government in 2011, Canada ranked 130th worldwide. Incredible.

Let us look at the projections for 2012. We would expect, after their deplorable record in 2011, that the Conservatives would then say that 130th was pretty bad, that it was embarrassing and they could not go back to their ridings and say that Canada was 130th. They would be embarrassed.

In 2012, with this budget, where does the IMF put Canada? Do members think it is in the top 50? How about the top 80? Top 100? Is there anyone for the top 100? Okay, I understand, members are skeptical about Conservative economic performance.

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Liberal

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

It is 136.

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12:45 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

My colleague from Newfoundland and Labrador is saying 136.

Actually it is not even in the top 150 in 2012. In 2012, according to the IMF, with this budget, the Conservatives will succeed in dragging us down to 152nd. We will be 152nd worldwide in economic growth under the Conservative government.

I do not understand how Conservatives can come to work having dragged Canada down to 152nd and be proud of that. Do they have signs up in their constituencies saying “We are 152nd”. It boggles my mind—

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NDP

Robert Chisholm Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

I just want to thank the member for bringing that information forward. It is really important for us to know, especially for the members across.

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NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

I thank my colleague from Dartmouth—Cole Harbour.

We are 152nd. Who is ahead of us? Who is doing a better job with economic management and economic growth? Pretty well everyone is, I think it is safe to say. When one is 152nd, one has to try to a little bit harder. This budget obviously dragged us even further down.

Ahead of us are Slovenia; Saint Vincent and the Grenadines; Malta, which is five places up on the list, Finland; and Japan, which is no surprise; and then Turkey, El Salvador, the Bahamas, Iceland; and there is Norway, another industrialized economy that is way ahead of us; and Trinidad and Tobago, St. Lucia, Luxembourg, Iceland, all of whom are better than us—

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NDP

Robert Chisholm Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Did their banks not default?

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NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

They have had a lot of economic problems, but I guess its government is a little bit more competent in office.

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Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

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NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

I will come back to that later.

There are also Jordan, Poland, Latvia, Guatemala, Bulgaria, Bosnia, Serbia, and Zimbabwe is even doing better than Canada in the IMF growth projections—

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Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

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12:45 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

There are also the Slovak Republic; Algeria; Nicaragua; and Australia, of course, which has a strong Labour government and is doing much better.

Australia has a government that decided to put in place the kind of progressive fair trade agreements that the NDP on this side of the House has been championing in the House of Commons. They took out the investor-state provisions that a former right wing government had put in. Australia is an example of a progressive, social democratic country with a progressive fair trade agenda. It is dozens and dozens of places ahead of us, so I think we can congratulate Australia for being so much better.

Then there are Romania, Lebanon, Kiribati and Honduras. I am not going to read the whole list for obvious reasons, but there are also South Africa; Mexico; Brazil; and New Zealand, of course, which has another government that in the past has been social democratic; Sweden; Tunisia; Estonia; Costa Rica; Namibia; Guinea; and Benin. I am not even up to the front pages, but I think the point is pretty clear.

I could spend a lot of time reading out the list of the countries that will manage to achieve a higher economic growth rate in 2012 than the Conservatives will with this budget.

As was mentioned during question period, the fact that the government puts in the budget the clear and undeniable fact that the budget will push unemployment up strikes me as just a tad strange.

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NDP

Robert Chisholm Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Didn't they call it a jobs budget?

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12:50 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Yes, the Conservatives called it a jobs budget and when we look at the job numbers in it, there is more unemployment. My colleague from Dartmouth—Cole Harbour is absolutely right: it should say it is a less jobs, less growth, less prosperity budget. I think we have a new title for the budget.

Let us look at some of the other indications, since they are not doing very well on growth at all. We need to look at what the Conservative government has done in terms of the change in real per capita GDP. This is just among OECD countries. We are 14th among OECD countries in growth. I certainly would not want to raise how we are doing worldwide, because it makes the government look so appallingly bad, at 130th in 2011 and 152nd in 2012.

Let us just take the OECD countries and look at the change in real per capita GDP. The Conservatives, as you recall, Madam Speaker, because I know you were first elected in that year, came to power in 2006. I congratulate the Speaker on being re-elected a couple of times. Since that time, up until 2011, how has Canada done in terms of the change in real per capita GDP, because that is the key consideration here?

We have had growth in population. However, as we have seen, the jobs have not kept pace with the growth in population. In fact, we have quarter of a million more Canadians now out on the streets after the recession, looking for work, knocking on doors in that endless, hopeless quest for jobs that simply are not there because the government has not invested to create them.

We also have a number of discouraged workers. In February, we had nearly 40,000 Canadians just give up. They have left the labour market. The Conservatives were happy about that because it resulted in a lower unemployment rate and does not make them look as bad, but the reality is that there are 38,000 Canadian families where the breadwinner simply gave up looking for work. Those jobs are not available because the Conservatives have been cutting them steadily, instead of putting in place the kind of real economic action that we actually need.

How has Canada done when we look at the change in real per capital GDP during the Conservative mandate compared to other countries? I will just test my colleagues. Do they think we were in the top three? No one thinks we were in the top three. The top five?

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12:50 p.m.

An hon. member

We must be in the top five.

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NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

No, not in the top five and not in the top 10 either and not in the top 12. In fact, all of the top 12 among the OECD, and remember that we were 14th in terms of growth, had a positive change in real per capita GDP from 2007, just after the Conservatives were elected, to 2011, but Canada was 17th, believe it or not. Nonetheless, here is the real kicker for all Canadians struggling to make ends meet, those families across the country, the families who are sending in emails and texts, who are concerned about the impact of the Conservative budget. Under the Conservative watch and mandate, the change in real per capita GDP in Canada, in other words GDP divided by the number of citizens, has actually gone down. It is minus 1.4%.

The Conservatives are not taking us forward, they are not taking us upward, they are not taking us to the next level: They are taking us downward. What we say on this side of the House is that Canadian families deserve better than that.

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12:55 p.m.

Conservative

David Anderson Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

It's the first time I have seen anyone run on water.

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12:55 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

I apologize, as I did not hear the comment from my friend opposite, but I know it was meant in the spirit of the debate on the budget.

Let us talk a bit—

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NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

Order, please. On a point of order, the hon. member for Laurier—Sainte-Marie.

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12:55 p.m.

NDP

Hélène Laverdière Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Madam Speaker, my hon. colleague began his speech, which was very interesting and greatly appreciated by everyone I am sure, by saying that throughout his speech he would do something that is fundamental to the NDP, namely to share in this House the points of view and opinions of the Canadian public, the people who are going to have to pay for this ill-advised budget.

I have received some comments from one of my constituents and I would like to share them—

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1 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

Order, please. I am sorry to interrupt the hon. member for Laurier—Sainte-Marie. She may be raising an interesting point, but it is not a point of order.

The hon. member for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour on a point of order.

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NDP

Robert Chisholm Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Madam Speaker, on the same point of order, I want to say that I think it is a point that should be considered by the Speaker because there are a lot of Canadians who are paying attention to what the member for Burnaby—New Westminster is saying. They want to be represented in the chamber, they want to—

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1 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

I thank the hon. members for their comments. I considered them very respectfully, but in my opinion this is a point of debate and these issues can be raised during debate.

I will return to the hon. member for Burnaby—New Westminster.

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NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleagues from Laurier—Sainte-Marie and from Dartmouth—Cole Harbour for raising those points and I thank you, Madam Speaker, for your eminently wise counsel in that regard. I also thank Canadians.

Let us move on to another economic index. I know it is a bit depressing for us to go over the Conservative economic record. It is even more depressing for the families that are experiencing the economic lack of action and the incompetence of the government. It is important to get all the facts on the table.

What we have seen is a failure in every major indices around the economy, not just for Canadian families but worldwide. We will come later to the whole issue of research and development. Canada has an appallingly poor track record on research and development, which is not addressed at all in this budget. When we compare it to other industrialized countries, and we look at all of these indices, we see a failure of the government. However, it keeps coming back to an inflated job figure as if that makes everything okay.

The ultimate statistic that shows the failure of the government, even on employment, is Canada's position relative to other industrialized countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development from 2008 to 2011. As I mentioned earlier, in terms of economic growth, we are not first, or fifth or tenth; we are fourteenth. In terms of per capita GDP, we are not first, fifth, tenth or even fifteenth; we are seventeenth.

The final statistical fact that we need to put forward is the change in employment rate for OECD countries for 2008 to 2011. I will turn to my colleagues again and ask if anyone thinks we finished in the top three. People seem fairly skeptical about that. Does anybody think that we were the top 10? Unfortunately, we were not in the top 10. Is anybody for the top 15? No. Canada finished 17th for the change in employment rate, and this again is the kicker.

As I mentioned earlier with real per capita GDP, it has actually been in decline. What we have seen for the change in employment rate is exactly the same thing. Whereas other countries have a positive change in employment rate from 2008 to 2011, Canada, in 17th place, has a negative change in employment rate of 1.2%. Our employment rate actually declined under the government over the last three years.

We have had a chance to talk a bit about what is the appallingly poor economic record of the government.

Let us look for a moment, before we go into specifics of the impacts of the cuts, at where the government seems to want to invest the resources that we hold collectively as Canadians. As Canadians, we live in a democracy and we elect our government, which makes certain commitments, and we expect it to follow up on those commitments. That is the Canadian way. A Canadian way is a handshake. We look people in the eye, make a deal and keep it.

Prior to May 2, the Prime Minister looked in the eyes of the Canadian public and said that his priorities would be to invest in health care and maintain the health care transfers. As well, he said that he would maintain retirement security, that he would not gut OAS or change, wildly, retirement ages.

The Prime Minister said as well that he would maintain services. Those were the commitments he made and Canadians expected him to keep them. Also in December in Victoria, the issue of the health care transfers was thrown up, and I will come back to that a little later.

Instead of the issue around OAS, which the Prime Minister committed to keep but has now gutted in this budget, and instead of maintaining the services that Canadian families depended upon, this is what the Prime Minister and the government seem intent on doing. We have heard this for weeks and have had strong questioning from the NDP opposition around one of the pet projects, which is the F-35s.

We have pressed the government to come clean on that issue, but it has never responded and continues to want to spend the money of Canadians on the F-35s. I want to read into the record exactly what many people think about the F-35's lack of tendering process and the cost overruns, which have gone from about $9 billion to replace the CF-18s to now somewhere up to $40 billion, but no one really knows. We have asked questions persistently, but have never received a response. According to the Parliamentary Budgetary Officer, it was $30 billion, and that was before the latest cost overruns. Is it $40 billion or is it more? Nobody knows. However, it is a question of choices in a budget.

The government says that it has to cut back on old age security, on the programs and services that Canadian families depend, gut health care transfers in the long term and cut back on health care so it will no longer be there when Canadians need it. When government makes those choices, it has to explain why it invests in other things. Despite our questioning, despite the fact that we have raised this issue again and again on the floor of the House of Commons, the Conservative government has never explained how much the F-35s would cost and why it is so intent on purchasing them.

I want to read into the record an issue in The Waterloo Region Record that comes from Geoffrey Stevens. It says, “Ditch jets to sweeten sour budget”.

The author says that the Minister of Finance will unveil a budget that will cause weeping and gnashing of teeth. He certainly foresaw that. He talks about the cuts in services and government offices being closed. The author suggests that to sweeten that sour budget, the government should announce that it has decided not to spend the billions of dollars to purchase the F-35s from Lockheed Martin in the United States and instead has decided to invest that money in pension improvement for Canadian seniors. That seems to be a very thoughtful and sensible suggestion. Why not invest in pensions, re-tender the contract for the CF-18 replacements and ditch the F-35s? That would make a lot of sense.

He talks about what the Conservatives have done: He says:

It did not hold a competition to determine which aircraft on the market best suited Canada's requirement; if it had, it might, with a view to the safety of patrols in the north, have chosen a plane with two engines, rather than the single-engine F-35. It did not stop at the question of whether Canada's role in the world really requires a “sharp end of the stick aircraft” capable of escaping radar detection while taking out enemy air defences.

It did not even call for tenders from aircraft manufacturers to try to make sure it was getting the best price. Nor did it take into account that by ordering an aircraft that is still in the development stage two things are bound to occur: the price will rise and the planes will never roll off the assembly line on schedule. Both of those things are occurring.

Governments never likes to admit mistakes. “I was wrong”, are the toughest three words for any [Conservative] politician to utter. But [the Prime Minister] would not actually have to admit his government had been wrong. He could have noted that things had changed; cost overruns and production delays, plus the F-35s' failure to meet performance expectations...From this distance, the F-35 looks increasingly like the Edsel of the air.

Given those circumstances, [the Prime Minister] could ask Canadians: would it not be more prudent for Ottawa rethink the F-35 and [re-tender the contract?]

It was Geoffrey Stevens who wrote that in The Waterloo Region Record.

People are certainly paying attention. People are very concerned. They see the link between the cuts in pensions that ordinary families are getting and the bloated costs of the F-35, the cost overruns, the performance problems and delays.

I just wanted to reiterate some of the problems that have occurred around the F-35, and that “Lockheed has said that U.S. plans to slow down production will hamper its efforts to lower the cost of the plane.”

The brief rundown on what is happening in some of the other countries is the following:

Britain...said in a 2010 defence review that it would cut its planned order of 138 F-35 fighter jets and decided to pull out of the short-takeoff variant completely. Last week, a U.K. official said the government would not decide until 2015 how many F-35s it will buy.... Turkey has already halved its initial order of four planes and Australia is rethinking when to buy the next 12 of its initial order...given the U.S. delays.... Italy, the only other buyer of the short-takeoff version of the F-35, has hinted at possible “significant” reductions in its overall buy of 131 planes....Norway’s parliament approved the purchase of four F-35 training jets last summer and is slated to decide this year on plans to buy up to 52 more planes.

The purchase of the F-35s is obviously a fiasco. That is the only way to put it.

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1:10 p.m.

NDP

Robert Chisholm Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

We need to find a replacement for the CF-18s.

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1:10 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Exactly.

We are saying one has to keep careful cost accounting on the initial cost of $9 billion. That is what we are suggesting here.

Seniors in Canada and future seniors have to give up their OAS and their benefits. Canadian families have to give up on their services.

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1:10 p.m.

NDP

Robert Chisholm Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

CARP has said the next generation will be punished.

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1:10 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

As the Canadian Association of Retired Persons has said, and the hon. member for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour has repeated very eloquently: we are punishing future generations in an effort to spend tens of billions of dollars on an over cost fiasco. We are saying Canadian families deserve better than that.

That was the F-35s. I am now going to address the issue of prisons, which are the second part of what we are discussing today, because these are the government's two priorities.

We already know that there are going to be budget cuts, cuts to old age security. We have already seen how this government is attacking ordinary families across the country. Middle-class families and the poorest Canadians are being affected by cuts to services. In this budget, the government claims that the bills it is proposing, for example, the crime bill, will not cost any money.

First, I must point out that, right now, there is a low crime rate. The number of crimes being committed in Canada is decreasing. At the same time, the government made major cuts to programs to prevent and combat crime across the country. We know full well that every penny or dollar spent on a crime prevention program will save us six times that amount—6¢ or $6—down the road in other parts of the judicial system, whether it be costs related to police, criminal courts or, of course, prisons. However, this government has cut funding for programs to prevent and combat crime.

Then, instead of presenting an agenda that we could agree with, the government presented its prison agenda. In the budget, the government says that this will not cost anything. Frankly, we do not believe it. In the studies that were conducted, the government never divulged the real cost of its programs and bills. It never made any estimates or calculations. As a former financial administrator, I am wondering how anyone could go ahead with a bill without doing any calculations at all to determine how much it will cost.

In this case, the government has not done any calculations or made any estimates. It has no idea of the cost. Even in the budget, the government clearly stated that we do not need prisons. Provinces all over the country know full well that the hodgepodge bills that the government has been introducing one after another will cost taxpayers a lot of money. The provinces will have to build prisons, and we also know how much that will cost us.

The Institut de recherche et d'informations socio-économiques did a study that took all these factors into account. It is too bad that the government did not try to do the same. I know that the Parliamentary Budget Officer provided a good estimate of some aspects of the programs, but the only valid estimate, the only valid and complete calculation of the cost of these programs comes from the Institut de recherche et d'informations socio-économiques, which said:

Don Head, the Commissioner of Correctional Services Canada [he did his own calculations], later said that he estimated that federal prisoner numbers would increase by 3,400, requiring 2,700 new spaces, at a cost of $2 billion to support that increase.

The increase will result from the bills this government has introduced without calculating the costs associated with them. This will also have an impact on the provinces.

The study also states:

Although passed by the federal government, many of the bills introduced will have a significant impact on the provinces and their public finances. According to some estimates...for Bill C-25, the provinces will be forced to bear most of the cost of funding the new prison system. The PBO predicts that, for the Truth in Sentencing Act alone, which came into effect on February 22, 2012, provincial and territorial responsibility for funding the prison system will increase from 49% to 56% compared to the federal level. The provinces will have to bear 78% of the cost of building these new cells, that is, $12.655 billion. Quebec's share alone will be $2.6702 billion. There is nothing to indicate that future legislation will reverse this trend.

As for all of the construction-related calculations, not to mention the annual costs associated with these bills, the eminent researchers with the Institut de recherche et d’informations socio-économiques, very reputable people, reported the following:

This socio-economic report has demonstrated the misleading nature of the Canadian government's statements regarding its crime-fighting policies. The changes made by Bill C-25 and Bill C-10 are very unlikely to have any impact on Canada's crime rate. As recent experience has shown, an approach that focuses more on offender reintegration and rehabilitation is more likely to effectively reduce the number of crimes committed. What this report adds to the file is that not only are the government's measures likely to be ineffective, but they will also be very costly for taxpayers.

This is a very important point.

They will require investments of at least $18.802 billion in prison infrastructure and engender ongoing costs of $1.616 billion for the federal government and $2.222 billion for the provinces. In addition to the federal investment, the changes will force Quebec to invest $3.057 billion in its own infrastructure. Bill C-25 will also cost the province an extra $407 million per year, and Bill C-10 will cost an extra $82 million per year. The government of Quebec allocated $379 million for prison operations in 2011-12. These additional annual costs will increase that budget by 129%.

Since the justice minister...promised that, “This is just the beginning of our efforts in this regard. We'll introduce other legislation as well," we feel it is important to point out other solutions. Focusing on reintegration and rehabilitation, which are proven solutions, would enable the government to spend much less on prisons, giving it more flexibility to invest in social policy.

This is extremely important. We are talking about two programs. One would probably cost about $40 billion and the other $19 billion, with additional annual costs of $1 billion to $2 billion.

We find all these priorities to be unbelievable. The government has no credibility since it is telling us that there are cuts coming for seniors and ordinary families, but then it is willing to spend whatever it takes on its pet projects.

We are saying that Canadian families deserve better.

I can honestly say that the NDP caucus, which is made up of dynamic and energetic individuals, is really the best in the world.

One would never imagine that we came from a convention over the weekend during which nobody slept and right into the budget deliberations. We have our new leader in place, the member for Outremont. Everybody in the NDP is still full of vim, vigour and energy. It is a wonderful thing to see. What a fantastic, amazing group. One can just imagine how much more energy we are going to have on October 20, 2015, when the first NDP government is formed.

It will not be a government that is going to spend $40 billion on a fighter jet whose costs have simply exploded. We are going to be tightly monitoring budgets so that kind of thing does not happen. If a project goes off the rails, we will cancel it. We are not going to spend $19 billion on prisons when the crime rate is actually going down. We think we should be investing in crime prevention programs. We think we should be investing in bringing the crime rate down even further. We should be investing in addiction programs.

We will be doing something for our police officers and firefighters as well. It is important to mention this. Five years ago the Conservatives voted for the NDP motion to establish a public safety officer compensation fund to ensure that when firefighters and police officers pass away in the line of duty, their families are taken care of. We have been waiting and firefighters and police officers have been waiting now for six years for the Conservative government to bring that in and the Conservatives have not done it. They have left those police officers and firefighters out in the cold. When an NDP government is elected, one of the first things we are going to bring in is a public safety officer compensation fund.

Ultimately, that is what we are all about in the NDP. We take care of Canadian families. We take care of Canadians. We are folks who work very hard. NDP MPs have the reputation of being very strong constituency advocates. We work very hard. We can see the energy people have been putting in, even over the course of the last hour, which is remarkable, given the last few weeks with everybody working double and triple shifts every day of the week.

We do that because our energy comes from Canadian families. We represent them because we truly believe that our place in the House of Commons is to stand up for those Canadian families, to represent them, to be their voice in the House of Commons.

The many emails and faxes, the postings we are getting on Facebook and the tweets that are coming in on Twitter all attest to the fact that the majority of Canadians out there are concerned about the direction this country is taking. They are concerned about the kind of country we are seeing increasingly, with a small minority of people who seem to have most of the pie and where families are increasingly left out in the cold. They are concerned about the fact that they see families struggling more and more to make ends meet as their wages go gradually, but on an ongoing basis, lower and lower. They are concerned about seeing families in their neighbourhoods lose a breadwinner because of plant closures. I prefaced my remarks this morning by talking about the dozens of plants and factories that have closed in this country only in the last few months. They are concerned about what they see as a meanspirited government, a government that does not respect democracy, a government that does not respect input, a government that says seniors and future seniors have to pay the price for its misguided priorities of prisons and fighter jets before future seniors and services that Canadian families depend on.

That is what is happening with more and more Canadian families. The majority of Canadian families are very concerned.

The Conservative government was elected on May 2 on the promise to maintain health care funding, on the promise to maintain retirement security, on the promise to maintain services for Canadian families.

This budget is a betrayal. It is a betrayal of those promises that were solemnly made by the Prime Minister. He looked Canadians right in the eye, shook their hands and said, “I will not touch health care transfers. I will not touch retirement security. I will not touch the services your family depends upon.” This is a betrayal--

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

I must interrupt the hon. member.

It being 1:30 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-310, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (trafficking in persons), as reported (with amendments) from the committee.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

1:30 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

There being no motions at report stage, the House will now proceed without debate to the putting of the question on the motion to concur in the bill at report stage.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

1:30 p.m.

Conservative

Joy Smith Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

moved that the bill be concurred in.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

1:30 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

1:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

1:30 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

1:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

1:30 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

All those opposed will please say nay.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

1:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

1:30 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Pursuant to Standing Order 98, the recorded division stands deferred until Wednesday, April 4, 2012, immediately before the time provided for private members' business.

It being 1:30 p.m., the House stands adjourned until Monday, April 2, at 11 a.m. pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 1:32 p.m.)