Madam Speaker, I was listening to my colleague's shopping list of groups in society to be considered. I agree. However, his good wishes do not reach the most remote rural areas, which are still suffering.
I do not necessarily agree that the debt should be paid as soon as possible, as the Reform Party often says, because if a family is in debt for example, it has to stay in debt for a while, unfortunately, so the children can eat and go to school. It is true it costs a lot, but the family will continue to pay off its debts for a few years.
My response to my colleague is “Yes, we are doing something, but we cannot do it that way”. We want the money to be given back to the provinces through tax points or transfers. Who is in a better position to distribute the money? The provinces, of course. When I say provinces, sometimes it is the municipalities, but they have to go through the provinces.
What does the government do? It plans to put the Canadian flag on every cheque. It looks good. This is tantamount to buying votes. I would submit that anyone with compassion should not try to score political points on the backs of the less fortunate.
Why is it that, this year again, banks are posting billions of dollars in profits without anyone raising the alarm about this? Would they go bankrupt if these profits were taxed at a higher rate? No. In practical terms, this means that, in this country, instead of distributing wealth equitably, governments are letting the rich get richer as the poor get poorer.
In my riding of Matapédia—Matane, employment insurance is commonly referred to as poverty insurance, because many of my constituents will not qualify for it this year because they are 20, 30 or 40 hours short. People want to work. But because they have not accumulated enough hours to qualify for EI benefits, they are forced onto welfare and this is a blow to their dignity.
I have a question for my hon. colleague. I listened carefully to his remarks and some of them made sense. Could he not convince his colleagues to transfer this responsibility to the provinces so they can do as he suggested, but much more efficiently and cost-effectively, and by staying closer to the people?