Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Prince George—Bulkley Valley.
I am going to start by reading the motion again so that people who are commenting on the motion can really understand what motion is being debated today. The motion reads:
That this House condemns the government for imperilling the economic and social security of Canadians with their reckless commitment to dramatically increase spending, at a time when the average family's share of federal debt is approaching $80,000 and Canada has the highest personal income taxes in the G-7.
Some of the basic information in this motion has been refuted by members opposite. The information sources, in fact, mostly come from the government itself. It is kind of hard to understand why it is doing that. It is a little difficult indeed.
What I am going to do is talk about the four fiscal areas that have to be dealt with before this fiscal mess that we find ourselves in in this country can be dealt with.
The first is the deficit. The second is the chronically high levels of government spending. The third is the high level of debt that we have in this country. The fourth is the chronically high and increasing tax levels that we have. We have to deal with all four areas before we can solve the fiscal problems that we have.
Starting with the deficit, the balanced budget, we will have a balanced budget this year, no doubt. I think the Liberals should receive some credit for that. It is important we recognize that this government will be the first government in 25 years that has had a balanced budget. It deserves some credit for that. I am going to look a little bit later at how it arrived at this balanced budget. I think that is important.
I wonder what would have happened had we had the New Democratic Party as the opposition over the past four years. We would have had at least as high a deficit as was in place when the Liberals took government in 1993.
What if the Conservatives had been the opposition over these past four years? Then we would have had more of the same. If we look at the last 30 years, whether it was the Liberals governing with the Conservatives in opposition or the Conservatives governing with the Liberals in opposition, it really did not matter. We had ever growing deficits and we had this debt balloon to a level which is completely unmanageable.
It is really important to recognize that the real push for government to deal with the deficit came with the Reform Party as it was established first in 1987 and as we came to Ottawa in 1993. I give the government credit for being the government in place when the budget was balanced but it is important also to give Reform credit as being the force which nudged, prodded, pushed and cajoled this government into finally doing that.
Having a balanced budget only deals with one of the four key areas which have to be dealt with to solve this fiscal mess. The second is the high level of government spending, in fact overspending.
Interestingly enough, the Liberals have concentrated most of their speeches on how they are going to spend on all these very worthwhile causes. They are going to spend for this, spend for that. They have this program, they have that program. What about dealing with Canadians who really need help?
They are continuing. In fact they are returning to an increased pattern of overspending. That is pretty clear from what we have heard today. That is what is coming. Clearly the chronic overspending has not been dealt with.
The third area is the high level of debt, $600 billion. That probably does not mean much to a lot of people. My wife and I have five children. Our share of that debt is approximately $20,000 for each of us which amounts to $140,000 that we have to add to the mortgage on our house, the mortgage on our farm and the other payments we have to make. We have to make payments to pay down this $140,000 which is our portion of the debt. Because I earn probably higher than average income, our portion will be even higher than that.
What it means beyond that is that this government will spend more than $45 billion this year just to make the interest payments on the debt. The Liberals talk about caring and spending on social programs. I would like them to respond to how spending this $45 billion on interest payments is allowing more money for these important social programs.
It is a little difficult for me to understand. That $45 billion is not available for any social program. It only goes to pay the interest on the debt. Clearly that part of the fiscal puzzle, the high level of debt, has not been dealt with and as a result too much of our hard earned tax money is going toward interest payments.
The fourth area is the one which I want to concentrate on. I want to put it in personal terms. I only use my family as an example because they are the people I know best. I care about them and I talk with them more than anybody else, quite frankly, about these issues. This area concerns the chronically high tax levels in this country.
Disposable income under this government since 1994 has decreased by $3,000 for the average family. Yet the finance minister stands and with a straight face says “We have reduced taxes”. Liberal math is really hard to figure out. That is a well documented fact. This and various other tax increases, which I will refer to in a bit of detail in a few minutes, have an impact on my family.
As I mentioned, I have five children. My oldest daughter is 20 years old. She is taking business management and is in her third year of university. She has worked to earn money for university and she has taken on a loan to help pay her way through university.
I have two sons who have just turned 18. They are identical twins. The member for Crowfoot is not the only Reform member who can proudly say that he has twins. My sons are in their first year of engineering at university. They are very fortunate that they earned enough in the summer to pay for their education. They work hard. They have trained for years to gain the ability to earn their way through university.
They started their own business. The work they do amazes me. They rebuild combine headers. Farmers will understand what that is. They completely rebuild old headers, paint them to make them look nice, make sure they are in good working shape and they sell them. They carry on this business. More and more they are coming to me to talk about the high rate of taxes, how taxes are affecting them already and how they will be affected by them far more in the future.
The most recent tax issue which they brought to my attention was the Canada pension plan premiums. Because they run their own business and are self-employed, they pay both the employee and employer portions of the Canada pension plan premiums. That means as their business earnings increase, probably by the time they get to their fourth year of university they will be paying the full premium rates for the Canada pension plan.
Each one of them will be paying close to $3,300 in Canada pension plan premiums and for what? I have heard many Liberals say that it is for a secure retirement which will be guaranteed. The maximum amount they could ever hope to get out of that pension is $8,800 a year.
This tax increase and other tax increases have had an incredibly negative impact on my family and on families across this country. That part of the fiscal puzzle has to be solved and it cannot be solved until we start lowering taxes.