Mr. Speaker, I appreciate being able to continue after Oral Question Period. Earlier, when I rose, I was followed by a parliamentary secretary who made a comment. When the time comes to vote on the Bloc Quebecois motion for the creation of a committee to review public finance management, I hope that the parliamentary secretary, who is a Liberal member, will make good on his comments and support our motion.
I explained that a child is burdened with a $20,000 debt the minute he is born. I also talked about students and workers, and I would like to follow up by telling you about the elderly. Our seniors are overtaxed. These people have paid school, municipal, provincial and federal taxes throughout their life. Many of these people raised large families but managed to save a bit of money in RRSPs to enjoy a more comfortable retirement. Unfortunately, the government is still going after these people by forcing them to pay tax when they cash in their RRSPs.
Indeed, in his recent budget, the Minister of Finance decided to tax all seniors with a revenue of $26,500 and up. School and municipal taxes still have to be paid by those who keep their home. Retired seniors with a low income still pay the provincial sales tax as well as the GST. Many people who have reached the age of 65 continue to work because they do not have the means to enjoy a comfortable retirement. Seniors should benefit from major exemptions, so that people can retire no later than when they turn 60, or even 55 if possible.
That would open up new jobs for our young people, for those who graduate from university and wait for the government to create jobs.
The government will tax seniors till the very end, that is until their funerals. Undertaking and burial services are taxed. The GST applies to those services as well as to the cost of a coffin. We will have paid all of our lives and until our death.
The government is racking its brains to find new sources of revenues, but it will choose the easiest solution and increase taxes. The government urgently needs to set up a committee to review the reduction of government expenditures. In its red book, the Liberal government said it wanted to get rid of the GST. Of course, the government wants a hidden tax, that would increase from 7 to 12 per cent. It also wants to tax food, education, books, computers, all basic education needs, prescription drugs and health care.
The Bloc Quebecois will strongly oppose any effort by the government to tax prescription drugs and health care among other things, since poverty is rampant in Quebec and in Canada. A lot of people cannot even afford bread and butter.
I think the most urgent thing is to set up this committee. We are going through harsh economic times, and the cost of living is still very high for low-income and very poor families. More and more, wages are being frozen and people are working at the minimum wage. We have to deal with high levels of unemployment and welfare, smuggling, the underground economy, a rise in criminal activity and the fact that our prisons, in Quebec and in Canada, are more and more packed-full. Who pays for all of this? It is our society and our workers.
Under the Conservative government, we were told that the GST was supposed to reduce the deficit, but the deficit has grown ever since. Despite GST revenues of $14 billion, the deficit has tripled during the last nine years the Conservatives were in office.
Finally, I hope the government will set up a committee made up of course of government members who are responsible for running this country. In the latest budget, the Liberal government showed its inability to efficiently manage the public finances. If that committee is to be increasingly efficient, the government should add to its team a group of Bloc Quebecois members because they really want the government to lower taxes or at least freeze them for years to come.
They will have to review all the overlapping and duplication occurring in this government. In Quebec, we do not need the federal government to manage our health program, nor do we need the federal government to manage our education and occupational training, our manpower or our social programs.
It is urgent to cut on travelling expenses for ministers, senators, members of committees and parliamentary associations. Last week I attended a on Public Works meeting and asked the Minister of Public Works if he was ready to say in front of the committee that he would issue a public call for tenders in the papers to give those who wanted to bid the chance to do so; I also asked him if he would accept the lowest bid coming from a compliant bidder. He answered no, that he could not commit himself to that. The government must manage public funds; if businesses were managed like the government, they would all go bankrupt a few weeks after opening. Not a single business is managed like the government.
As a member of the finance committee, if the Liberal Party government invites me to do so, I will be happy to assist and work hard to find places where we can cut out the fat from government operations, items that could bring the budget down.
In conclusion, I would like to congratulate the members of the Bloc Quebecois and of the Reform Party who are concerned and worried because of the increase in the last budget.