House of Commons Hansard #104 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

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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

3:25 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to continue into what is now the fifth hour of debate in this important budget discussion. One of my colleagues from across the way asked how much longer I intended to speak. I will just answer this way. The budget is 500 pages. Canadians are tweeting and posting on Facebook,. They are sending in emails, and faxing their comments. The NDP will speak as long it takes to get the message across that the budget hurts ordinary working families, that the budget hurts Canadians families and that Canadian families deserve better.

During question period, we had all kinds of Canadians who seem to be excited. The more they find out what is in the budget, the more Canadians seem to be galvanized to respond.

It is interesting to note that the feedback we are getting from Canadians from coast to coast to coast is, above all, from Conservative ridings, ridings that have elected a Conservative MP in the past and ridings that are represented by Conservative MPs. I find that very interesting, the opportunity the NDP is giving those Canadians to make their voices heard in Parliament. I am very pleased that Canadians in those Conservative-held ridings are exercising their democratic right to have their views brought forward before the House of Commons.

I will begin by reading some of the tweets that have come forward in the last few minutes, since question period was just a little over an hour ago. I have a tweet from a gentleman saying, “Demographic graph shows the cutoff for OAS cuts falls just after the baby boom late 1950s birthrate bump. Cynical if this by design”.

We heard on CBC's The Current this morning that, “Myth of ratio workers to support retirees was debunked. Should look at actual hours worked today and tomorrow. The U.S. took much longer to address an OAS-like issue. The Conservative Party is too reactive. Knew about the demographics since the 1960s and have put together a knee-jerk poor plan”.

When Suzanne Legault testified at committee she said, “They should not be subject to cuts already dealing with stretched resources. Canadians have a right to know”.

I have another tweet from lifelike telling the NDP, “We appreciate your efforts on behalf of Canadians for sharing the feedback in the House of Commons”.

We certainly appreciate the tweets and the Facebook postings that are coming on.

Another persons writes, “Since when do we accommodate poverty as opposed to try to prevent it?”

Another comment reads, “The finance minister is the last person who should be criticizing Ontario provincial finances. How very unhelpful to national unity. Ontario is 38% of Canadian GDP”.

Another person tweets, “My feedback regarding budget is the short time period Canadians have been given to adjust to the new age for OAS and many will suffer”.

Another comment from Ottawa reads, ”The government should stop demonizing anyone who raises the issue of taxation. Revenue generation through income tax is a valid measure”.

Another tweet said that they like my glasses. I thank them for that.

From Ottawa again, it reads, “Governments should be working to decrease the growing gap between richest and poorest Canadians. Tax grid should be more progressive”.

That is a very important point. As we know, under the government, Canada is now experiencing record levels of income and equality, with a small proportion of Canadians now earning most of the income pie.

Another comment reads, “The CBC is such an integral part of the Canadian fabric from sea to sea to sea that anything done to weaken it would harm us all”.

Another comment n from Ottawa reads, “How can the public service function effectively with constant turnover in uncertainty? What institutional memory will be left after the losses?”

Another comment reads, “Cuts should not be made to officers of Parliament. Why is the Prime Minister's Office's noise machine not setting an example in cutting its wasteful budget?”

What those comments refer to is the fact that the budget of the Prime Minister's Office has gone up more substantially than any other component of the budget over the last few years. It has been massive increase.

Obviously, Canadians are reacting to that as they have in the past with the fighter jets and the prisons agenda. Canadians are saying that building new prisons and buying costly fighter jets and the F-35 fiasco should not be priorities. The priorities should be making sure that services work for people.

Another constituent commented, “To me the budget is going to take me out of a comfortable retirement. Because of the environmental changes and the gutting in environment, of course my health will suffer”. Another constituent commented, “I am reminded of the hypocrisy of former Reform Party MPs opting back in after criticizing the pension plan”.

The comments go on and on. I do not want to devote all of my time to reading tweets but they are coming in one after the other. They are coming in faster than I can read them out.

Canadians seem very galvanized. They have been following the budget debate. They heard what the Conservatives promised last May 2. The Conservatives promised not to attack health care or retirement security. They promised to maintain services. They also promised to be fiscally prudent and responsible and then we see what the results have been in this budget.

In December in Victoria the finance ministers imposed what over time will be a significant cut in health care transfers. The Parliamentary Budget Officer has evaluated those cuts at over $30 billion, at a time when Canadians need health care. The government is not taking any of the responsible approaches on health care that we have talked about in the House and as our former leader Jack Layton and our new leader, the member for Outremont, have mentioned. None of those things have been brought to bear.

We have talked about expanding home care, which would reduce the cost of acute care beds. Often seniors who are unable to stay in their home without the provision for home care end up in acute care beds at a cost of many thousands of dollars more than it would be if we simply provided home care in the first place.

We have also talked about the bulk purchasing of medication. That has worked in other countries in bringing down the cost of drugs. Because of the long-term patent protection that is given for pharmaceutical drugs, Canadians are paying far more than they should be paying for pharmaceutical drugs.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

3:30 p.m.

NDP

Robert Chisholm Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

And don't forget CIDA.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

3:30 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, as my colleague from Dartmouth—Cole Harbour has mentioned, the concern around CIDA is that the situation will be even worse.

These are fundamental problems that absolutely need to be addressed. These are problems that cannot be addressed unless there is a government that is concerned and cares about health care.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

3:30 p.m.

NDP

Robert Chisholm Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

When are we going to get that government?

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

3:30 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, we are going to get that government on October 20, 2015.

The Canadians who are writing to us, tweeting and posting on Facebook are reacting to the broken promise around health care. They are also reacting to the broken promise around retirement security.

We have had a chance thus far to raise a number of times the importance of the OAS and the overall pension plan in Canada and how Canadians feel strongly about that. Over the course of the last few hours and as we enter what will soon be the sixth hour of debate, I have raised the concerns of Canadians from coast to coast to coast around retirement security.

Canadians are reacting to that the same way they are reacting to the broken promise around how the health care transfers have been gutted and reduced over time without the kinds of measures that we have been talking about, such as putting in a valid fiscal framework for health care transfers and health care costs. They have seen retirement security gutted. There are the cuts to a wide range of services that we saw in the budget on Thursday night, whether it be food safety, transportation safety, or environmental assessments. I will get into that in more detail later on. We are talking about wide and deep cuts which in many cases will eliminate completely some of the services Canadians enjoy. In some cases it will eliminate completely the source of information. This has been a recurring theme.

The First Nations Statistical Institute was gutted, killed by the government. The Nation Council of Welfare was killed by the government. StatsCan was seriously gutted. All of these organizations supply facts to the Canadian public and the Canadian government. In each case the government is saying that it does not want and cannot handle the facts. It wants to invent its own facts. It does not want Canada’s modern economy to function on a fact basis. It wants it to function in some kind of weird ideological fact-free zone. Canadians have seen those cuts as well and are reacting.

Canadians are seeing cuts in jobs, some 19,700 in the public sector and add to that the cuts in the private sector. There is a multiplier effect. I came here from the private sector. I know that cuts in the public sector lead to larger cuts in the private sector. That is a basic fact. There are members opposite who would like to function in a fact-free zone, but that is just the reality. We are talking about tens of thousands of jobs that will be hemorrhaged--there is no other way to put it--over the next few months. Under this budget, which we call the “fewer jobs, less growth and less prosperity budget”, actually admits that the unemployment rate is going to climb.

It is hard to believe that a government would put on the front page of a document that it knows creates fewer jobs, that it knows creates less growth, that it knows creates less prosperity and say that it is going to pretend exactly the opposite. That is what the government did on Thursday.

What is wonderful about Canadians is that they see through all that. The government provided its arguments on Thursday night. Canadians were willing to listen to the finance minister's speech. They were willing to look at the budget, as we all were. Then they saw what was in it. That is why we are being deluged by comments from Canadians from coast to coast to coast. They want their comments put forward in the House of Commons. A continued recurring theme of what they are saying is that Canadian families deserve better than this budget.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

3:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear!

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

3:35 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, I cannot believe that the NDP MPs continue to be so energetic and dynamic after over five hours of budget debate. When I see the energy they bring to representing their constituencies, I can say that it gives me energy.

They do a good job as members of Parliament. I have seen many groups, but the NDP class of 2011 is the best ever elected to the House of Commons. It is true. It is an extraordinary group.

I want to read some of the faxes and emails that are coming in now. We have some particularly relevant comments from constituents from NDP ridings and from the ridings of other parties. I am trying to bring forward the points of view that are expressed from Conservative-held ridings because we are getting more and more. As I mentioned earlier, the fax machine in the lobby must be smoking from all the faxes that are coming in. These are from Conservative-held ridings. When Canadians are living in ridings which at least for the moment are held by Conservatives, it is very important to bring those views forward.

The first is from Kelowna—Lake Country which is a Conservative-held riding in the interior of British Columbia. This individual said, “The finance minister is using half-truths to justify his changes to OAS. For example, with regard to demographics, it is true that there will be fewer workers per retiree in 2030. However, the ratio of workers to seniors alone does not determine the burden on workers, but is only one-half of the equation. The dependency ratio, or DR, is a measure of burden on the labour force defined by Statistics Canada as the population age 15 to 64 of supporting services for children and youth”. Those are individuals age 0 to 14 and seniors age 65 and over. She continued, “The dependency ratio will be 64% in 2031. It was 70% in 1961”. That dependency ratio in 1961 was higher than the dependency ratio will be in 2031. She said, “It did not break the bank then. It will not break the bank in 2031”.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the wonderful pages of the House of Commons. They are the ones giving me water and Kleenexes and anything else that I need. They deserve our appreciation. Normally we do not get the opportunity to thank the pages for their terrific work, but I think I can take a moment of my time to do that today. We are all aware of the important work the pages do and they do it so discreetly. They are giving me Kleenexes, water and everything else. They do a fantastic job.

The pages are a symbol of the younger generation that we need to be looking out for. We need to make sure programs are in place for younger Canadians. We need to make sure we are addressing issues of chronic unemployment with younger Canadians. We need to ensure that their quality of life is similar to what previous generations enjoyed. On behalf of the official opposition NDP caucus, 102 members strong, that is a commitment we make. It is a commitment we will keep on October 20, 2015 when we form the government of this country.

I will get back to what the constituent from Kelowna--Lake Country, currently a Conservative-held riding, said. She said, “The dependency ratio in Canada is the lowest in the G7. The minister claimed that France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the U.S.A. are all moving to increase their eligibility age for retirement. That is true. However, among the G7 countries, France, Germany, Japan and Italy are bringing their age of eligibility up to 65.” Not 67, but 65. “The U.S.A. made the decision in 1983, started implementation in 2003 and will complete the process by 2025”. That is 20 years later.

She then continues, “Among the 30 OECD countries, eight will have a retirement age under 65 and 15 will have a retirement age of 65.” This is very important, and I thank her for bringing this forward—“.

Let us review those numbers: there are eight under 65 and 15 at 65. Only seven, including Canada, will have an age above 65.

She says, “I believe there is a need to challenge the government on substantial grounds.” This individual is from Kelowna, British Columbia.

This is fascinating. The government's pretext around raising the retirement age is that all countries are doing it. We heard the Minister of Finance raise that idea in the budget speech as if this is something that everybody is doing. It is true that the retirement age was raised, but it was to 65, not above 65.

We are talking about virtually every single one of the OECD countries, Canada being one of a handful of exceptions. In almost every one of the OECD countries, the retirement age is 65 or under. We believe that is what the retirement age in Canada should be. Canadians deserve to have standards at least as good as those in the other countries in the OECD. That is what we had at 65; we do not have that at 67, and I thank the consituent for bringing that issue to our attention.

I would like to move on to another Conservative riding. This is from Vancouver Island. This letter says, “This budget is a reflection of the government's agenda towards the total elimination of CPP, the old age pension and the guaranteed income supplement. We pensioners need an honest answer from this government, because for sure our budgets are going to be affected again. We are asking for an answer from this government.”

This is a constituent in a Conservative-held riding who is raising concerns about the way the government has implemented it and how the government is attacking seniors.

We look at what the government promised prior to May 2. Prior to May 2, had the Prime Minister or the Conservative Party candidates said, “Elect us and we will make serious cuts in the longer term in health care transfers so that our health care system a decade from now will be worse off than it is now”, what would have been the result?

Had the Conservatives come forward and said, “We will actually gut retirement security, cut back on OAS and go the opposite of the way that most industrialized countries are going” and had they said they would force everybody to work until they are 67, regardless of their circumstances, and that people would either live in poverty, as they would have no source of income, or keep working, even if they were a manual labourer or a carpenter, what would have been the result?

It is a particularly mean-spirited attempt by the Conservatives to say to people who are manual labourers, as I was and as so many Canadians are, that it does not matter if their bodies give out; they have to keep working because the Conservatives say so. They want to buy their fancy F-35 fighter jets no matter what the cost, and they want to build those fancy prisons despite the fact that the crime rate has fallen. If they had come forward and said that prior to May 2, I wonder what the results would have been.

What if the Conservatives had come forward prior to May 2 and said that they were going to gut services, cut back on all those services that Canadian families depend on, gut food safety, transportation safety, slash environmental assessments, make sure there is no funding for social housing, and, as one Canadian wrote and as I mentioned earlier today, deal with the $125 billion infrastructure deficit by providing $150 million towards it? Is that not ridiculous? That is like saying I want to buy a new car, but I only have $30. I just cannot do it if I offer only a one-thousandth of what is needed, but that is what the Conservatives did in this budget. Rather than say we have a substantial infrastructure deficit with deteriorating infrastructure across the country and address that, they offer a few pennies, a token, to deal with a massive $125 billion deficit. What would have happened if they had come forward on May 2 making that pledge as well?

I ask those questions because we all know the results. If the government had come clean on its agenda prior to May 2, the NDP would have been over there governing this country and the Conservatives would be in opposition. Canadians would not have stood for that agenda. Canadian families deserve better.

There is absolutely no doubt that the Conservatives could not come clean before May 2 and therefore did not talk about this agenda at all. They covered it up because they knew they would not have been elected had they come clean with what they were intending to do: impose their ideology on the whole country, cut back on facts and making them as little available as possible, imposing instead, to my mind, a wrong-headed ideology.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

3:50 p.m.

An hon. member

We saw that in Davos.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

3:50 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Yes, we certainly saw that in Davos.

I think that is why there has been such a substantial push-back from the Canadian public over the course of the last three days. That is why our fax machine is smoking; it is because it is working so hard. It is why emails are coming in fast and furious and the Blackberrys are hot. Tweets and Facebook postings are coming in fast and furious. A Parliament that is welcoming to new technology should, of course, be incorporating comments received by Twitter and Facebook. There are a bunch of comments coming in from a variety of sources, and I will move on to some them.

I want to read another email from Burlington, Ontario, a Conservative riding. This consituent writes, “I live in a riding held by Conservatives. Harper”—

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

Order—

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

Merv Tweed Brandon—Souris, MB

He named the Prime Minister; Peter, shame.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

3:50 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, the member for Brandon—Souris is absolutely right, and I apologize. I have been translating, but sometimes one needs to keep a step ahead so that one uses appropriate Parliamentary language when reading emails.

I will continue with the email: “The government's budget does not include reductions in the atrocious cost of the Senate. What's needed in the 2012 budget is a start on abolishing the Senate.”

Jack Layton, the former leader of the NDP, called for a freezing of appointments to the Senate so that through the years there would be a gradual diminishing of people in the Senate. However, the Prime Minister has ignored this and has filled every vacancy with Conservative supporters.

The email continues, “Abolish the Senate as it serves no useful purpose. It costs many dollars, but the benefit is zero. I live in a riding held by the Conservatives.”

Another tweet has just come in, and I thank the member for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour for monitoring Twitter and Facebook so that we can get up-to-the-minute updates.

Here is another comment to the NDP: “Thank you. It's hard to admit, but I'm really afraid for my generation's future, and just hearing someone talk about it is comforting.” We thank that young Canadian for writing in.

Here's another, from the Ontario riding of Leeds—Grenville.

This individual, Mr. Irwin, says, “I was watching the debate in the House today in regard to the budget. I would just like to state that I'm very glad to see you listening to Canadians in regard to their concerns over this extraordinarily shallow budget from the Conservatives. I am unfortunately not in an NDP riding. I am in the riding of Leeds--Grenville, which is a Conservative riding in Ontario. I am a student in university with ever-increasing tuition and rising debt. I am not sure if I can afford to even complete my degree. Thank you for standing up for Canadians today. I appreciate it very much, and keep up the good work.”

We thank Mr. Irwin for writing in and letting us know his views as a young Canadian who will be impacted by the budget.

We get these responses from young Canadians time and time again. Young Canadians have a profound belief in the future of our country. They believe in the environment. They believe government plays an important part in ensuring that families are protected, in ensuring that the economy works well, in ensuring that there is access to post-secondary education, because that not only provides for a better future for those families but also provides a better future for all of us in this country.

I am particularly gratified with the number of young Canadians who are tweeting and posting on Facebook and sending in emails and their comments. They believe in Canada; they do not believe in the budget, but they believe in Canada and in the future of our country. They believe that together we can build that better Canada that we all aspire to. They believe that Canadian families deserve better than the budget that was given to them by the Conservative government.

I will move on to Kitchener, another Conservative-held riding. Here a lady has written to say, “I heard your response to the federal budget and want you to know I agree completely with your opposition to this plan to dismantle our social safety net.

“I am recently retired, having worked for a social agency most of my life. I am very upset about the proposal to destroy the universality of old age security. This plan totally ignores that a number of studies have made it clear that OAS is a very sustainable program. By delaying OAS until age 67, many of the most vulnerable seniors will also be deprived of the GIS supplement.

“It is ludicrous to assume that ordinary people can save sufficient money to fund their own retirement. With the massive layoffs in the manufacturing sector, many people are having difficulty with surviving, and savings are just a dream. Moreover, it seems patently unfair to expect that in the current precarious financial climate, ordinary people are put at the mercy of the stock market to attempt to grow any savings.

“The glaring lack in this budget is any attempt to reform the Canada pension plan in order to make it a sustainable solution for all the people for whom the private sector has failed to provide any pension security. Instead of attempting to drive divisions between those who have earned pensions and those who are deprived of pensions, a reasonable government would attempt to provide security for everyone.

“I am also very concerned about the plan to make deep cuts into the public service. I live in Kitchener, Ontario, and we have a federal women's prison in our area. In spite of the expected influx of more prisoners thanks to the omnibus bill, cuts to the staff will inevitably cause serious destruction of programs that now attempt to address some of the serious problems that led to the incarceration of the prisoners.

“I am also concerned that staff cuts in other federal programs will cause serious delays in such programs as the delivery of unemployment benefits.

“Another area that causes me concern is the cuts to regulations that protect me from contaminated food.

“The proposed streamlining of environmental reviews, coupled with the attack on environmental organizations who would challenge such plans as the Gateway pipeline seem to me to be another way to suppress dissent to this government.

“Speaking of suppression, I was upset but not surprised, that after raising some very serious indication of organized voter suppression tactics in more than 200 ridings in our last federal election, Elections Canada has had serious cuts to their budget. Thank you for voicing the concerns of ordinary people whom this government seems happy to treat with contemptuous disregard”.

We thank her for writing in.

This is absolutely the issue we are talking about. The OAS cuts also lead to commensurate GIS cuts. What we are talking about is an overall cutback to the whole foundation of retirement security. As so many people are writing in to say, this is simply unacceptable. It is a real concern to many Canadians. Fundamentally, what I think these Canadians are saying as well is that we are going to see far more seniors living in poverty.

We had a previous letter indicating already that in most OECD countries, almost all of them or three-quarters of them in fact, the retirement age is actually 65 or under. Canada is one of those few countries that is so regressive with its own seniors, so lacking in respect for the contributions seniors have made to the country, that what the current government is actually doing in this budget is upping the retirement age from 65 to 67. That is a real shame because Canadian families deserve better than that. They really do.

I would like to move on now to another Conservative riding. It is no secret that what we are trying to do is to make the case against this budget step by step, brick by brick, by raising constituents' concerns in ridings that are represented by Conservative MPs. I do not think anything could be clearer than to have all of these letters, tweets and Facebook comments flooding in, all of which address Conservative members of Parliament. In all cases, they are saying, “My Conservative MP is not representing me if he or she votes for this budget”. I think that is a very important thing to underscore, that what we are doing through the course of this debate is establishing the case that, effectively, Canadians living in Conservative ridings are making their voices known.

If I were a Conservative MP, with a bad budget like this that will guarantee fewer jobs, less growth, less prosperity, I would think twice and say, “Hold on. My constituents are reacting. They are reacting to all of the various components of this agenda. Maybe I have to think twice”. Perhaps we will see, over the course of the debate, Conservative MPs standing and saying, “I'm going to represent my constituents. I'm going to vote against this budget because this budget is not good for families in my riding and not good for the country”.

Maybe we will see that. As we read out these letters coming from across the country from Conservative-held ridings, maybe we will see Conservative MPs standing and saying, “We're going to vote for what's good for the country. We're voting against this budget. We're going to vote for a budget that actually creates jobs”.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

4 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

4:05 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

One might say that is absurd and that a Conservative MP would never do that. However, when we think back, a few years ago no one would have said there would be 102 strong NDP MPs representing constituents right across this country from coast to coast to coast. It was not impossible because we believed that we could get things done and represent our constituents strongly.

When I started out, I was down in that far corner. There were only 19 of us back in 2004, but with Jack Layton we continued to progress. We moved across and then moved up. Now we are the official opposition and are poised to form government on October 20, 2015. People always said that would be impossible and I say nothing is impossible when one has fundamental Canadian values and when one strongly represents constituents.

I do not believe it is impossible that some Conservatives on the other side will wake up after having read the budget and say they will not vote for it because it is bad for Canada and bad for Canadian families. Instead, they will vote for retirement security, for the type of retirement age that almost all OECD countries have, and they will vote for the types of things that the NDP brings forward, including sustainable, long-term funding for health care and services. They will vote against this budget and for something better. I do not believe that is impossible. I am hopeful that through the course of this debate, as we read letter after letter from constituents in Conservative-held ridings, that we will see the Conservatives waking up. We will see it one day. We will see members on the other side smile. The penny will drop, even if they are doing away with it, which we certainly support doing, but the penny will drop and they will say this is a penny-wise and pound foolish budget and they are not going to vote for it. We will see that and that is my hope in the coming days.

I will move on to another resident of a Conservative-held riding in London West. This constituent is writing to the NDP MP next door, the member of Parliament for London—Fanshawe, who is an extraordinary seniors and pension critic.

She says, “I know I am not a resident of your riding, but my Conservative MP never seems to respond with anything but platitudes. I know you are doing the best you can for our community, so I wanted to tell you what this budget means for me.

“I am a 50-year-old, unemployed single female. Finding a job is tough and this budget has nothing in it to help me and soon there won't even be anyone left to answer the phone. I am running out of blood pressure medication because I have no benefits, which wouldn't matter if I had a pharmacare program, but I saw nothing for me in the budget on that. I do, however, fall into the age category of the first few years' worth of senior citizens who will lose two years of OAS payments. I have been told my whole working life that while there was no pool of money, I was paying for the people who are retiring now and that younger people would be paying for me, and so on, this while my savings have been eaten up trying to find stable employment.

“For me, this budget is a recipe for poverty, but the Chief Electoral Officer was the only officer of Parliament to face immediate funding cuts. It was a corrupt decision, cynical beyond belief.

“I did notice that while the Conservatives claimed to be in favour of smaller government, the cabinet is huge, at 38, and there were no announced cuts to that burgeoning group nor to the Prime Minister's Office. I have seen money and tax breaks flung at corporations who then leave the country with them, leaving broken communities in their wake. I see valuable resources being depleted and value added offshore and these policies are anathema to job creation. This budget ignores these issues. A hold on yet another tax cut does nothing to reverse the effect of a financial crisis that was created by the tax cuts that went before.

“First nations people are being treated horribly, and women are being ignored and yet, apparently, there is no end of money available to purchase jets, with no public process or even proper bidding procedures being followed. I guess I shouldn't be shocked by the government that couldn't even see its way clear to bringing a flag down to half mast when our soldiers died would not take care of the ones that returned home”.

That was from a woman in London West in Ontario, whom we thank for writing such heartfelt comments about the future of this country. We are going to make sure this country is run the way we would like it to be. We are not going to forget her, that is for sure.

I would like to move on to a letter from a constituent in another Conservative-held riding, Ottawa—Orléans. Here is another person writing in a very heartfelt way.

He states that, “I, too, have a Conservative MP, and just got a pamphlet about tax saving tips on the same day his government announced they will be laying off thousands of public servants. Many will be this MP's constituents.

“The problem with the excuse of people living longer as a reason to attack future OAS recipients is that the more well off a person is, the longer they can expect to live, and the poorer a person is, the shorter they will live. These are facts that are supported by Statistics Canada. All the Conservatives have done is ensure low-wage workers are available to take unglamorous jobs a few years longer. Some will never retire anyway, but now that number is guaranteed to increase.

“This budget is a disgrace. It has money for venture capitalists and further erodes good-paying jobs in our communities. If the Prime Minister wants to play Dragons' Den games, I encourage him to resign from his current job and show us what a brilliant, trained economist he is with his own money.

“Keep on speaking the truth in Parliament, we are watching and cheering”.

The comments from these Canadians, showing their courage and their vision of how this country ought to be and their profound belief that this country can be better, that those Canadian values can continue despite how meanspirited this budget is, encourage all of us in the official opposition NDP caucus to keep doing our work, to keep standing up for Canadians and to keep fighting for that day when we can have a progressive government in power in this country. That is what keeps us going and drives us forward.