Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to rise and address the government's budget. It is a budget that the hon. member for Outremont and leader of the NDP rightly called the “we'll get around to it” budget. In part he called it that because if we look at the budget, the columns for this year for various initiatives are filled with zeros. The government is clearly not doing it now, so presumably it will get around to it. We will see about that. That is from the present.
However, he was also making a historical comment about the typical behaviour of Liberal governments. He cited the example of the Chrétien-Martin era. A lot of promises were made in the red book in 1993, for instance, around a national pharmacare plan and doing something with respect to child care. Come the time the Liberals were ultimately defeated in 2006, they were still saying, “just one more election and we're going to get to it” and “It's coming.” They had the audacity, frankly, to be indignant about the fact that they were defeated after 13 years of government and some pretty unsavoury stories coming out of the Gomery commission saying that there were things that Canadians needed, that they really wanted the opportunity to do them, and shame on other parties for having observed they were not getting around to it and maybe it was time to replace them.
Therefore, given that historical context, one has every reason to look at that behaviour, and at this budget, and worry that this government is not serious about getting around to the things that need to be done.
A good example is the housing file. If we look down the column, it is filled with zeros for this year. Of course, there are promises of big money, that it is coming but we have to hang on. In 2023 things will be really great, we will have spent multiple billions of dollars, and that by 2027 that will have doubled. I submit to the House that this is not really a good way of making policy. It certainly is not a good way of doing politics. It is sort of starting an arms race of who can announce money further into the future.
What we are concerned about, and I think Canadians and people in Elmwood—Transcona are concerned about as well, is having the government allocate resources and funds to its priorities now, not 10 or 20 years from now. If we make a habit of getting into announcing money further into the future just to have bigger, more impressive numbers, there is no reason why we should not be talking about $40 billion by 2039 or $50 billion by 2047. If we wanted to get really polemic, we might announce a trillion dollars by the year 2100.
This game of simply announcing money further into the future to make it look as though the Liberals are taking action on priorities today is not the right way of doing politics. It is not a good way of doing policy for that matter. That is not to say that we cannot have long-term deals, but those deals have to include some action today. There is no guarantee that one, or two or three elections from now the government of the day will honour those deals. Therefore, if the government wants to show its sincerity with respect to taking action on the priorities of Canadians, it is important it spends some money today. That certainly was promised by the Liberals in the last election, but it is not delivering that with this budget.
Child care is a great example. The Liberals talk big numbers on child care. If we look at the amount of aid that will got to working Canadian families that need child care so they can report to work and have confidence that their kids are in a safe place with well-trained staff, the number is zero. That is a strange way for the Liberals to treat their priorities.
Incidentally, I have noticed this is a feature of the government. A number of things have happened, for instance, undermining the lawsuit of Air Canada maintenance workers who wanted to keep their jobs in Canada. That was not mentioned as a priority of the government, but it certainly got done. There have been other examples of things that were done in the House that were not talked about in the election. The things that are not being done are the things that were promised. Therefore, the lesson here is, God forbid we become a priority of the Liberal government because we would wither on the vine.
The things that corporate CEOs bring to the government, which the Liberals did not talk about during the election, are going to get the priority. That is the list people want to be on, if they are rich enough to get on it. That lesson is evident in this budget.
Canadian workers who have been laid off in the economic slowdown might be one of the six out of 10 Canadians who cannot access the EI fund. There is nothing in the budget that talks about changing the eligibility rules to allow more workers who have been laid off to access that money to make their mortgage payments, to put food on the table, and to keep a roof over their head while they look for new employment.
Canadians are owed that, particularly when we consider that successive Liberal and Conservative governments stole money out of the EI fund. Workers paid into that fund in case they needed it in these circumstances. It is shameful to see, once again, that ordinary working Canadians are being asked to wait, being told by the Liberals that they will get around to it, maybe if they are elected two, three, or four more times, 15 to 16 years sounds about right.
The corporate lobby bandwagon might have slowed down by then and then the Liberals will get around to the priorities of Canadians. We have seen this with the veterans. There is nothing in the budget about restoring lifetime pensions for veterans, which was a promise of the Liberals during the campaign. They are being asked to wait.
On defence spending, the Liberals are taking money that was allocated for defence spending and back-ending it. It was not enough to just back-end the new money. The Liberals looked at the budget and noted that there was old money that was not back-ended. They could correct that by taking it out of the budget and back-ending it. Never mind the fact that the Canadian military needs new equipment now to do its job properly and safely.
The Liberals have not been content with just back-ending new money. They want to back-end the old money as well. They are doing this in the context where through Bill C-27, and a couple of other examples I would mention if I had time, they are mounting an attack on the pensions of Canadian workers. We saw it a bit with the CPP not including the dropout provisions for women and people with disabilities. Incidentally, if people take advantage of their extended parental leave, which is just extra time with no extra money, the same amount of money they would have had over the course of a year stretched over 18 months, they are then penalized on the next tier of CPP that the Liberals were so proud to have brought in because they did not include the dropout provisions for women and people with disabilities.
Even when the Liberals are trying to do something right, they just cannot seem to help themselves. They have to do something to throw a monkey wrench into it, particularly when it comes to pensions. If people need any evidence at all, Bill C-27, sitting on the Order Paper, is all the evidence they need to know that the government is not committed to real pensions for Canadian workers. Shame on it for that.
How do the Liberals do all this? How do they go to seniors and say, “sorry, there is nothing in the budget for you”, even though a national pharmacare plan would actually save money for Canadian taxpayers, but they cannot be bothered to do it? They tell seniors that they do not have the money to do it. Meanwhile, a Liberal priority in the election, and as I said earlier, God forbid we become a Liberal priority, was to close the CEO stock option loophole, something worth over $750 million of revenue to the government each year. It was a priority during the election, so it is not getting done.
Then the Liberals have the nerve to turn around to Canadian workers and tell them that there is no money for them when it comes to pharmacare, expanding EI, investing in child care. They just say that they do not have the money, because Bay Street showed up and said that it did not like the idea of being taxed fairly so the Liberals backed right off.
When it comes to sweetheart tax haven deals with Barbados and other countries that allow corporate CEOs to hide their money offshore, the Liberals are not taking any action. It is easier to go to Canadian workers who do not have the same power and the same say as CEOs and tell them to wait, to tighten their belts. That is what is shameful about this budget.
When we hear about the CRA giving amnesty to Canada's richest and worst tax cheats, when that revenue could be used to invest in those services that working Canadians actually need, it is easier for the Liberals to tell those working Canadians to wait.
Shame on the Liberals for having so little for Canadian workers, because they are not willing to stand up to those who should be paying their fair share. It is not enough to tell Canadian workers to tighten their belt when the money is out there.