Madam Speaker, my colleague is dead on. He has in very few words concisely put our government's agenda in the proper perspective.
My colleagues-at least the colleagues who would admit it, which would be the members of my party-and I are not receiving from our constituents the complaints about leaving programs exactly the way they are. "Do not touch them". We are not receiving those kinds of comments. People generally recognize that change has to take place. To argue: "Don't make
changes because this will happen or the sky will fall down" is totally inappropriate.
Those in need, the poorest of the poor, need us to make changes so they can more properly take their place in the work place. One of the previous speakers from the governing party mentioned literacy for example. There is a 38 per cent illiteracy rate in Canada. Almost four out of ten Canadians experience some serious degree of illiteracy where they have difficulty functioning in number or language skills.
This is part of what we are talking about in dealing with a redeployment of human resources. To say that we are doing this on the backs of the needy is churlish in my view. It is complaining for the sake of complaint. Let us get on with the job. Let us recognize and acknowledge that what we have done, as my hon. colleague said, for 20 or 30 years is not acceptable anymore.
Times have changed. The world is changing. We do not want huge sectors of our society being left behind as we move into the next century. If we care about our fellow Canadians, we must gather them up and move together. If we do not take action now and improve our safety net programs, we will leave those folks behind. That would be a tragedy of epic proportions. We have to take action.
I suggest the options that have been placed before Canadians are the right place to start.