Mr. Speaker, my colleague's speech was very clear and no one asked for any clarification on his excellent analysis of the situation.
Before dealing directly with the throne speech, I want to convey the following message to all farming families in my riding, in Quebec, and even in Canada: the Bloc Quebecois will not let you down. The Bloc Quebecois will continue to demand additional resources to fight organized crime efficiently and to eliminate the terror that these families are subjected to year after year by cannabis producers.
In the weeks or months to come, my colleagues from Berthier—Montcalm and Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert will propose legal measures to step up the fight against organized crime, particularly with regard to cannabis producers. We expect the government, which has a great responsibility in this regard, to take measures based on our proposals.
That being said, I will now deal with the throne speech from a public finance perspective. First, I want to correct two major blunders found in the Speech from the Throne, which I am sure are accidental, but which have left a lot of people wondering. I am convinced these are mistakes.
The two big blunders found in various parts of the throne speech are the references to tax reductions and to the government's determination to fight poverty. There appears to be two analytical and factual errors in the speech. I will take the next few minutes to set the record straight.
First of all, I practically fell off my seat when I saw in the throne speech that the government had reduced taxes by $16 billion over three years. At this rate, if we are to believe the government, in about ten years' time, Canadians will not be paying a cent in taxes.
That is what the Minister of Finance is telling us. He talked about the cumulative tax cuts he has supposedly made over the years and added them up. If we took this to its logical conclusion, in ten years not a single Canadian would be paying any personal income taxes.
It is well known that the Minister of Finance eliminates surpluses. The truth is that he has continued to cook the books. A look at the most recent Department of Finance publication shows that Quebecers and Canadians were paying $5.5 billion less in taxes in 1993-94, before the Minister of Finance and the Liberal government took office, than they are today.
In other words, by means of various hidden taxes, as well as tax tables and a fiscal structure in general that are completely unindexed, the government has increased the tax burden of Quebecers and Canadians by $5.5 billion since 1993-94. These are real figures.
As I mentioned, these figures can be found in any financial publication put out by the minister's own department.
Undeniably, there have been tax cuts. The last four years have seen a number of such cuts. Let us look at some examples of just what sort of cuts the Minister of Finance is offering.
Let us take the last budget. A significant measure in the last budget was the abolition of the 3% individual surtax.
And who will benefit from the elimination of the 3% surtax? It focuses first and foremost on those with incomes of $250,000 or higher. These are the people who have benefited from this tax reduction, from the abolition of the 3% surtax. On average, their tax savings this year will be $3,700.
Yet when one looks at those who have really been the ones responsible for putting public finances on a sounder footing, that is the middle income earners, those with annual incomes of between $30,000 and $70,000, they have saved approximately $160 in taxes this year. They are the ones who are being strangled by the lack of indexation and by other disguised taxes, and they are never the ones who get any recompense for their efforts.
Yes, there have been tax cuts. But cuts for the richest people in this country. Those who have been most responsible for putting public finances on a sounder footing have been totally forgotten.
We in the Bloc have done an analysis on people earning between $30,000 and $70,000, and we have consulted Quebeckers on the basis of that analysis. People who earn between $30,000 and $70,000 a year are the ones most responsible for putting public finances on a sounder footing, and yet they are the ones with the worst balance, in terms of tax payments.
I will offer two figures to illustrate this. Families earning between $30,000 and $70,000 in Canada constitute 27% of Canadian taxpayers. They are responsible for about 50% of personal income taxes that flow into the federal government's coffers.
Do you see the imbalance? These people make up a little over one quarter of all taxpayers, but they contribute half of all the taxes paid by individuals to Ottawa. It is for that group that the government must do something, not for those earning $250,000 or more, which include millionaire friends of the Minister of Finance.
It is in that category that the government should have taken action, but did not. The fact is that, in net terms, Canadian individuals pay $5.5 billion more in taxes than they did before the Liberal government came to office, in 1993.
The other major blunder to which I referred earlier is the fight against poverty. I read on page 7 of the throne speech that the government intends to make it easier for families to break the cycle of poverty.
I believe there is a mistake here. I think the analyses were not presented properly and the government will make corrections. How can you break the cycle of poverty when you are the one that created it?
When I see what this government did with employment insurance by excluding close to 60 per cent of those who should normally have benefited from the program, with the result that only 42 or 43% of unemployed people can now collect benefits, I can only conclude that this cycle of poverty was triggered by the government and the result is that there are now 500,000 more children living in poverty than there were when the Liberals came to office. I can only conclude that excluding the unemployed from the employment insurance program, excluding people who are experiencing hard times because they lost their jobs has resulted in an increase in the number of people living in poverty.
How can the cycle of poverty be broken when the government is the author of it and is not prepared to change the employment insurance plan.
In some instances, problems have been deliberately incorporated in the plan. Let us take, for example, the case of pregnant women, who must stop working because their health and the health of their child are at stake. Because of the problems in the plan, weeks spent on the Quebec CCST are not included in the calculation of hours and weeks worked in order to be able to enjoy special employment insurance benefits subsequently. This is a serious problem. Women are therefore going to think twice before taking precautionary time off work, thus putting their own health and the health of their child at risk.
There are a lot of problems in the system. And why do all these problems exist? Why are most of the unemployed excluded? In order to bring in a surplus of between $6 billion and $7 billion. This is despicable. Especially when the government is saying that it wants to break the cycle of poverty and then behaves in this way. This is an acceptable.
The government also cut the Canada social transfer, much of which goes to funding social assistance.
Every year, there is $4.6 billion less in the plan than there was in 1993. The government wants to break the cycle of poverty, but continues to create it and nurture it.
Finally, when we look at this government, we realize that it generates poverty. In conclusion, in examining this and having seen what the government proposed in the throne speech, we have no choice but to consider this government irresponsible. It is much better at making hollow formulae than at correcting inequality and fighting poverty with vigour.
For all these reasons, we reject this throne speech, which is worth nothing more than the paper it is written on.