Mr. Speaker, good government means looking ahead. Good government means recognizing trends, especially in a global environment.
The PC government recognized the global trends and brought this country free trade, the deregulation of financial services, transportation and energy, which enabled Canadians to compete nationally and internationally. The Liberal government inherited a country that was poised globally to compete and to succeed. It could have invested in Canadians. It could have provided opportunities for Canadians to succeed. Instead of allowing Canadians to embrace the future, the Liberal cuts to health and education transfers handcuffed young Canadians to the past.
The 280% growth in student debt has been a significant yolk, a significant burden on all young Canadians. The loss is to Canada. When are young people are graduating with a $25,000 student debt after a four year program, that is a loss to all of Canada. If we look at the reasons why Canadians are going south of the border and young people are pursuing their dreams elsewhere, we have to recognize that student debt and high taxes in Canada are directly related to that.
The February 14 issue of the Globe and Mail said:
There is evidence that the heavier tax burden, combined with lower overall incomes in this country is putting in motion a brain drain of our most productive workers. Higher tax loads mean bureaucrats substituting their judgment for that of business people and workers on how their income is to be spent. That is no recipe for productivity growth.
This is not about partisanship. This is about what is best for Canadians. I hope all members of this House support this motion because it is extraordinarily important that we take a non-partisan perspective on an issue as important as brain draining.
Like a lot of families in Atlantic Canada over the past 30 years, my family and I have watched the phenomenon of brain drain. We have watched our young people move to central Canada, for instance, to seek opportunities. It is very sad.
This phenomenon now exists throughout Canada. When the finance minister or any of these members fail to acknowledge the issue, when they look into that camera they are looking into the eyes of mothers and fathers in Atlantic Canada who are losing members of their families. They are losing their children. They are going away. The romantic thought that they will return some day just does not happen.
We have always talked about our standard of living in Canada and the quality of life our health and social programs provide us. With the right income that can be bought elsewhere. That is exactly what is happening.
Eighty per cent of Waterloo computer science graduates are now going to the U.S. There is a standing offer by Microsoft for Waterloo computer science graduates. Why? It recognizes the talent we have in Canada and that the Canadian economy will not provide the same level of incentive and opportunity for young people as the U.S. economy.
Let us look at some of the other issues in the U.S. On average, American manufacturing workers are paid $1 more per hour than Canadians. Effectively Canadians are paying one-third more in income taxes than Americans. The U.S. savings rate has remained steady at about 6%. That is about three times what Canadians have been able to save.
The budget will be about choices and we feel very strongly that those choices should be with Canadians. The Minister of Finance did not balance the books. The books were balanced by Canadians who have made significant sacrifices in their lives over the past four years. It is those Canadians who now deserve an opportunity to build their futures and to invest in their families, their educations and their homes in Canada.
Our registered education savings plan would provide tax deductibility. It is very similar to the structure of the RRSP. It would provide Canadians with more flexibility to save for their dreams, dreams that are important to them and their children.
That is the type of policy we are looking for and would like to see in the upcoming budget. We do not need the gigantic traditional Liberal policy of bringing forward some sexy program like the millennium scholarship program which will effectively do more for the Prime Minister's legacy than it will for young Canadians who are graduating at this point with significant debt load.
We need tax reduction. We are speaking about increasing the basic personal exemption from $6,500 to $10,000. Why should a Canadian making $8,000 per year be paying taxes? We have to ask ourselves that hard question. Why should a family that is below the poverty line be paying income taxes? It is fundamentally wrong. It is creating a direct disincentive to work and employment. It is similar to EI premiums which the government has refused to deal with in a significant way. We believe they should be set at about $2 as opposed to $2.70.
Payroll taxes, EI premiums and the CPP tax grab the government has implemented are the biggest impediments to job growth in Canada. High taxes kill jobs and the most insidious tax as a job killer is the payroll tax.
That has been demonstrated internationally. Policy does not need to be created in a vacuum. We can look at other countries and how they have succeeded. Let me say that high taxes kill jobs in any jurisdiction that practises them. In a global environment we do not have the luxury of taxing our citizenry to death because when we do it we are preventing them from participating in economic growth and prosperity in a global environment.
As we enter the 21st century what would be the best policy to ensure that our young people are able to compete in a global knowledge based environment? It is one that provides them with opportunities to seek and receive education and to succeed within their own countries.
The tax burden that has been inflicted on Canadians since 1993 with successive tax increases is draining the incentive for our brightest and best to stay in Canada and they are moving to the U.S.
We have a number of members from Atlantic Canada in our caucus who have a good understanding of this issue, based on what we have seen happening in our families over the past 20 or 30 years. It is now a national phenomenon.
If members opposite—and I see some of them grinning—do not take it seriously I would suggest they wait for a few years. When the continued government policy of high taxes has an impact on their families and their children move to the U.S. and other parts of the world, perhaps they will take the issue more seriously. I hope they will come to their senses and support policies to keep our young people in Canada.
This is an important issue, especially if we look at it from the perspective of Nova Scotians. Nova Scotia is the cradle of higher education in Canada. When I consider the impacts of the government's policies of taxing and cutting on my province and on my region, this issue is particularly important to me. In fact, to underline just how important this motion is, I would like to take this opportunity to move the following amendment to the motion:
That the motion be amended by adding the word “serious” before the words “brain drain” in the third line of the motion.
It is absolutely critical that all members of the House support the motion and ensure the policies we generate as parliamentarians will provide opportunities for our young people to embrace the future as we enter the 21st century and not handcuff them to the past.