Madam Speaker, I appreciate my friend getting up to ask that kind of question and providing me with an opportunity to respond.
I will address the last part of his question. There are two sides to education. One is the student side and the other is the educational infrastructure side. We can help students access post-secondary education but there must be post-secondary education for them to access. Therein is where this budget is sorely lacking. There are no transfer payments to assist in the development of colleges and universities, technical schools or vocational schools. That is one thing.
My friend raised the example of Saskatchewan. I will inform my friend of two or three elements he forgot to mention. After nine years of Progressive Conservative government in the province of Saskatchewan, the province was financially devastated. The debt loads were high. And which province was the first province in Canada to balance its budget? Was it a Liberal province? No. Was it a Tory province? No. Was it a Reform province? That does not exist. It was a New Democrat province. The New Democratic Party was the first political party in this country to balance its budget in recent decades. That is the first point.
There was a health care problem. The federal government cut hundreds of millions from health care year after year. Did the spending on health care in Saskatchewan decline? No. Because the provincial government backfilled all of the cuts to make up for all of the cuts by the federal government. The health care budget in Saskatchewan has been able to remain constant. No other province was able to accomplish that.
What about taxes? The provincial government decided that since it had a balanced budget it would be appropriate to reduce the provincial sales tax rate by 2%. It asked what it could do to help every Saskatchewan citizen whether they are in Lloydminster, Saskatoon, Regina, Prince Alberta or wherever. It said “Let's reduce the provincial tax. That will put money in people's pockets the next morning”, which it did.
That was its first balanced budget. It maintained health care, which no other province was able to accomplish, and gave tax cuts to the citizens of the great province of Saskatchewan.
My friend from Kenora—Rainy River should be on his feet applauding that government for setting the way, for being the beacon, for being the light, for showing what governments should be doing.