Thank you, Chair.
Thank you all for appearing this afternoon. We apologize for the delay.
I have just a few comments. I want you to understand that we really do get along, and actually quite well. It's just that sometimes, we kind of butt heads ideologically. But you know, some of the things that were said are really not helpful. For instance, and I say this as constructive criticism, when you approach government just to get their ear, it's not helpful to suggest, for instance, that what we're experiencing is an artificially created crisis.
I just came back from the Netherlands. We sent a delegation there. The Netherlands is a country of 16 million citizens. They live in a country the size of Nova Scotia, and they are trimming €15 billion. We're trimming $5 billion. We have really not seen austerity measures, not to the extent that some of these other countries have.
Our debt is a crisis. We're handling it. At this point, it's $650 billion. The U.S. has a total lack of control and is approaching $13 trillion. So we see around us the Europeans and the Americans, and we try, as a government, to get a handle on things before things spin out of control. I would suggest, too, that in 2008 and 2009, we were faced with horrific challenges. And we've managed to curtail those. I think that the government has to move forward, and there are certain things that we have to do. Again, I understand that you represent your workers. I understand that these things will create hardships. We know those things too. But I think we need to keep our comments to a level that is mutually acceptable.
Mr. Linton, I guess I'm asking, more than anything else, if you have actual cases of what you talked about regarding the spray. In my riding of Chatham-Kent—Essex, we have a lot of greenhouses, and I can tell you, as well, that we have 5,000 foreign workers. They have a consulate there as well. Most of the workers are from Mexico. If there are any problems, they can go straight to the consulate and they're addressed.
When I speak to my greenhouse operators, I challenge them continuously. And when I talk to the workers, I don't get what you said. I'm getting that they're very happy to be there; they're excited about it. We had a witness here last night, Mr. Manicom, who works for the government with the foreign workers. If there's any complaint by what I believe are called the offshore or foreign workers who come, for instance, from Thailand, who just hire themselves out. We recognize that there needs to be better monitoring for these workers. Again, if you see abuses, by all means, let us know, and we likewise will.... I'm not looking for a comment but am just saying that we can work together on these things.
I think I can wrap-up. I just wanted to get a level of civility here so that we all understand that we all do really care about each other and that we all want the best for our country.
I want to give Mr. Oakey an opportunity to talk about the changes we've made to red tape and to tell us why it's important for us to move in the direction you're suggesting with regard to those workers. I just want you to talk about why that is so important.