Mr. Chairperson, nowhere is the matter of inadequate housing so clear as when it comes to seniors. I'm sure all of my colleagues around this table have heard from our valued senior citizen members who feel that housing is not there when they need it. Nowhere is there more of a requirement to invest in housing than when it comes to seniors.
So this amendment deals specifically with the housing issues that I've raised before, but it specifically deals with the matter of senior citizens. So I would like you to look at page 133 of the Conservative budget, Canada's Economic Action Plan, where it refers to housing for low-income seniors, where it says that in fact investments are needed and should be, have to be, cost-shared with the provinces and the territories.
Again, Mr. Chairperson, we're going to put in place an unnecessary roadblock. We're going to slow down the flow of this money at a time when it's critically needed, when senior citizens are living in poverty. I am not saying all senior citizens live in poverty. I'm saying some of the greatest poverty we face as a nation is among our senior citizens, who have given so much to this country. In fact, some of the greatest poverty rests with our veterans, who have made sacrifices for this country. So it seems to me that if we honour those people, our seniors who built this country and our veterans who fought for it, then we ought to at least ensure that this money is available when they need it for quality housing. Why do we allow for any kind of bureaucratic process to slow down the flow of this money?
I would hope that my colleagues in the Bloc and the Liberals would agree with this at least. They may not have agreed with other amendments, but here is something that hits so close to home in terms of people who deserve to be treated with respect and who deserve prompt government action, who have waited a long time for the federal government to say yes, let's get involved in housing to some extent.
In fact, I remind my colleagues around the table that after the Liberals abdicated this field of housing, period, the only housing money that flowed among the federal, provincial, and municipal governments came as a result of Bill C-48 which, as you will all know, was the legislation pioneered by the NDP that diverted money-- billions of dollars from corporate tax breaks--to areas like housing, urban transit, aboriginal communities, and the environment. So the only money that has flowed from the federal government over the last...I don't know how many years of any substance and significance has been that money.
Provinces have tried to invest that money, have tried to put it in trust, have tried to spread it out, and they have said very clearly to the federal government that they need the support of their federal partners on housing, especially when it comes to seniors' housing. We have huge line-ups and waiting lists, whether we're talking about independent living arrangements or supported arrangements. That kind of situation has to be met on an urgent basis, and so by specifying that we do this in accordance with Treasury Board rules and in accordance with the plan laid out by the federal government whereby it has to be cost-shared with provinces and territories, we're cutting off our nose to spite our face. We're denying the very people we set out to help.
This budget was supposedly there to help people in times of need. Who is hurt more than anyone else in times of economic recession? The elderly, people with disabilities, the poor, those who don't have huge savings with which to withstand the economic blows of the present times, those who have been hurt by some of these fraudsters out in the marketplace ripping off people and seniors. We're talking in the House right now, as we speak, about whether or not we need a national securities commission.
So here we have an opportunity to act. Here we have an opportunity to make the money flow quickly. I hope that my Liberal friends at least will support us on this one. I know they're propping up the Conservatives. I know that they've ceded 50 votes in favour of the Conservatives. They don't seem to blink when you sing happy anniversary to them for their fifty-third vote in favour of the Conservatives. I know it's hard for them, and they're holding their noses, and they're doing it out of political expediency, not for the good of this country. We know all that. But surely on this one issue they could at least support something as rational and progressive as this measure, which would be to allow money to flow quickly to senior citizens and to meet the housing needs, which in turn will help stimulate the economy.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I hope I made my case effectively.