Mr. Speaker, I am really happy to have a chance to participate in the debate today. If I can summarize my view and our view of the budget, from the New Democratic Party perspective, the government has decided for one reason or another to turn its back on large numbers of Canadians, to betray a number of promises that were made to large numbers of Canadians.
It has decided to ignore the plight of those Canadians who have successfully, not necessarily on their own volition, fought the deficit war. I thought it was somewhat inappropriate for the Minister of Finance to suggest that he or the Liberal cabinet or the Liberal caucus or the Liberal Party has somehow been able to balance the books to achieve a surplus budget. If he did that either directly or indirectly, he certainly assumed the responsibility for having achieved that. That is wrong.
The reason we have a balanced budget today is that a whole number of Canadians have been asked to sacrifice a great deal over the last number of months and years. There are people who have not been able to get the surgery they require, who have had to sit in an emergency ward for hours and hours waiting for a doctor. There are hundreds of thousands of children who have been required and forced to live in a state of poverty in this country. There are hundreds of thousands of young people who do not have a job at all, to say nothing of the hundreds of thousands who have two or three part time jobs so they can try to patch together a decent income to attempt to start a family or buy their first home or apartment.
We are talking about 1.5 million people who do not even have a job, who are out there looking day after day for decent employment and cannot find employment. We are talking about another million people at least who are working at minimum wage, part time jobs, 20 hours a week in this shop and 5 hours a week over here in the evenings and so on, trying to piece together a decent income. All these people were ignored in this budget.
The Minister of Finance often talks about values, how really politics is about values and we are asked to make decisions about who we support in this country. The government has to make tough decisions now. Now it has a surplus budget so it has to decide who to assist with the surplus, who to help out, who to show support for, who to nurture and encourage along. Is it the poor? No. Is it the unemployed? No. Is it poor children? No. Is it aboriginal families? No. Is it students? No. Is it education? No. Is it health care? No.
Canadians from coast to coast to coast have told us as parliamentarians, have registered in polls, have written letters, have presented briefs. When the finance committee toured the country at every stop we heard the same thing. The health care system of this country is in crisis. The doctors told us it is in crisis. The nurses told us it is in crisis. The patients told us it is in crisis. The administrators told us it is in crisis. From coast to coast Canadians are in agreement that if there is a problem that needs to be fixed in this country, it is our health care system and this budget completely ignored it.
There seems to be some oddity. I could not believe my ears. I know my friend from Calgary will feel the same way this morning. We woke up, turned on the radio and we heard the Prime Minister. What was he saying? There is no need for more money for health care. Our health care system is fine. I do not know where he gets his health care. He must fly down to some elitist hospital somewhere in the United States to get his treatment.
We have all been there. We have all talked to our constituents who have told us their experiences in hospitals. They went down to the emergency ward and had to wait hours and hours because there are too few doctors to serve the lines in the emergency wards. Then people tell of their experience when they are in hospital. There is no criticism against the physicians, no criticism against the nurses, no criticism against the caregivers. There are just not enough of them to go around. The infrastructure is not there. The technology is not there. The research facilities are not there. The personnel are not there.
And this Prime Minister has the gall to say this morning that the health care system in this country is okay and it requires no more support, no more funding. Yet the Minister of Health just hours ago said we will be bringing in a health care budget soon because there are problems. As a matter of fact, the Minister of Finance said not too long ago the hardest thing he had to do was cut health care. He at least was honest about.
The Minister of Finance at least said that there is a serious problem in health care. He made choices. I think they were the wrong ones. He chose not to support health care. At least he admitted that there was a problem, there was a crisis.
The Prime Minister says there is no problem. Yet the Minister of Health just yesterday said we will have to deal with this as soon as we can. Talk about speaking out of both sides of your mouth, but every conceivable orifice in your body has a different sound coming out of it. There is something drastically wrong here.
What value does this reflect? Canadians are calling out for one of the centre pieces of our Canadian society that distinguishes us from most countries of the world, a first class health care system, and now it is eroding on all edges. Do government members acknowledge that fact? No. Are they prepared to put their money where some of their mouths are? No. Are they prepared to assist the provinces in terms of providing decent health care? No.
It is immoral for the members of the Liberal Party to sit in their seats today and say they do not care if there are line-ups in our hospitals, if people do not have decent health care, that they do not care about the line-ups in emergency wards, about the hospitals that are forced to close.