Yes, the question must be clear and specific. I would like the government side of the House to answer clear and specific questions.
Since it took office, this government cut $17 billion from health care. It is absolutely incredible because, meanwhile, the demand for health care is increasing. We all know that the ageing of the population is increasing the demand for health care and yet the government cut some $17 billion in health care.
In the last budget, the Minister of Finance gave back some of that money, in transfers for health care, but that simply brought us back to where we were ten years ago. To have such a government in this day and age is absolutely incredible.
Canadians are furious at the Prime Minister for having revived the constitutional debate. Given the government's record in the House right now, I can assure members that Canadians want change. I can hardly wait for the next election, because then the people will have the opportunity to say exactly what they think about this government.
Let us consider the problems in the health field. During the past year, I had the privilege of being a member of the Conservative Party's committee that toured Canada to study poverty. The government has nothing to brag about when it comes to poverty, which is growing in Canada. We have seen much evidence of this. I had the opportunity to meet some university students during the tour and, believe it or not, I discovered there are soup kitchens in Canadian universities. It is absolutely incredible that there should be soup kitchens our Canadian universities.
We wonder why health costs are so high. It is because of the constant stress Canadians are under. In some regions, Canadians are looking for jobs, they are having a hard time making ends meet and they are under heavy stress as a result. And where does stress lead? Stress gets people into the hospital, sometimes for long periods of time. We also know that stress has an impact on the cardiovascular system.
I think all the hon. members in the House know only too well what this causes and what it costs. We should be focusing our efforts on this, to reduce health costs.
I totally support Bill C-13, but I think we should examine the origin of the problem and the causes of skyrocketing health costs. Again, we have an aging population in Canada. Nowadays in Canada, young families are like mine, with two young children aged six and two; there are no more families of six and more; we do not see that anymore.
So, we have an aging population, which has an impact on taxes collected. We will have to pay attention to this. We have serious problems, and we really have to focus our attention on the causes of health problems.
I want to go back to what I said a few minutes ago. I was saying that I was deeply disappointed with the government's work during this session. I honestly think this is one of the laziest governments we have seen.
It has to be the laziest government in this century. It is totally unbelievable. We are going on to the constitutional debate again when Canadians really want to hear us talk about health care. I know I want to talk about health care and I think most of the people in here want to talk about health care. I am sure most of the people on the government side want to talk about health care as well.
Unfortunately, today and for the past week in the House everyone knows what we have been talking about. Who initiated all this? I think it was our friend across the way, the Prime Minister of Canada.
It is totally unbelievable to throw gas on the fire like that. It is ironic because our party, the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada, believes in a united Canada. This was demonstrated when Jean Charest left our party to head the federalist party in Quebec. He seems to be doing a good job there trying to bring up the popularity of federalist troops in Quebec. We saw in a poll about two weeks ago that the federalist forces in Quebec were on their way up. I think it was at 57% and the Lucien Bouchard troops were down to 30%.
We should keep an eye on the polls in the coming weeks to see what happens in Quebec. I am sure we will see a change in the polls.
Members of parliament were debating clear issues that people were concerned about. We were talking about jobs and health care. We must be getting close to an election because it seems to me that every time there is an election in the country we talk about the constitution. Believe me, we should be talking about much different things.
When I say that it has to be the laziest government in this century, I think that is why the PM is trying to hook onto this.
Let us look at what we did as a Conservative government and at the balanced budget today. Why do we have a balanced budget today? Let us take a look at what free trade did to the country. Free trade was brought in by this government. It is one of the biggest pieces of legislation this country has had in this century. That was a proactive government taking care of business.
What free trade has done for us in Canada is to raise our exports from $90 billion to $230 billion over five or six years. That is absolutely incredible. These are very fine figures indeed and I believe the government is very proud of them today.
Had the Liberal government had it its way, free trade would not be what it is today. However, the Minister of Finance must be very pleased with that $230 billion figure today. The Liberals are patting themselves on the back now about having a balanced budget. But why is it that they have that balanced budget? I think the $230 billion certainly has something to do with the fact that there is a balanced budget. Let us be realistic.
As for the GST, I was not much in favour of that as a businessman, and many people in Canada were also opposed. We saw what happened in 1993. Looking a little further, we can see that the GST will bring in $24 billion in revenues to the Government of Canada this year.
Looking at what we did as a government and what the present government has done, it is evident that the employment insurance cuts have hurt the poor, particularly women. It can be seen from last week's Statistics Canada report that the poor are the ones most affected by employment insurance reform.
I am pleased to take part in this debate, and we are going to support Bill C-13.