Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Langley—Abbotsford.
It is certainly a pleasure to talk about the pay-more, get-less budget of this year. I really want to touch on three things. First, I would like to talk about what I found out from my constituents this past week, having a week to talk to so many of them.
Second, I would like to talk about some young people who took out their paycheques, looked at the reductions on them and started to ask some pretty serious questions.
Third, I would like to talk about where Canada really sits in the world and what is happening to our country.
I had the opportunity to talk to four different service clubs, to a high school, to a senior citizens' home, to a couple of town hall meetings and to a chamber of commerce. Pretty well everywhere I went I found a major concern about taxes, about health care and a real disappointment that here it is again: we are paying more, we are getting less, our health care system is in crisis and yet we are being asked to pay more and more taxes year after year.
They also talked about the dollar and how the dollar was not worth what it used to be. They talked about how concerned they were about their jobs, about their initiative and the destruction of that initiative by a budget such as this.
Canadian productivity is suffering and has been on the decline now for some 30 years. That is a message to which certainly the government has failed to react.
There is the loss of brain power. Young people are saying “If it does not get better I will have to leave this country”. I can identify with that, having had three of our family leave this country for that reason.
I have a son who teaches at Princeton. He was a Rhodes scholar who could not get a job in Canada. I have a daughter who is an architect in Norway. She could not get a job in Canada. I have a young daughter who was recruited to Holland. She was offered a scholarship because she could not get one in Canada.
That is what we are finding. That is the kind of thing we heard from the young people in high schools and colleges as we travelled the country.
We talked about paycheques. What are we getting from the deductions on the paycheques? Again it is pay more, get less. We have less health care. We have an EI system that is just not working.
Young people are saying that they cannot even make a claim. They are asking what the EI deduction is for. The average employee is paying $350 per year more than what this system needs. The employer is paying $500. There is a huge surplus which is thrown into general revenue and 40% or less can actually collect EI payments. They know that and they are upset by it.
Canada pension, 9.9%: It has gone up in the last two years and will go up for the next three. That was socialism of the 1960s and the state centred system that was to provide everything to everyone. Young people are saying they do not trust that system will be there for them and that the costs are just too high.
As far as income tax is concerned, it is pay more and get less. With bracket creep 2.5 million more Canadians will be in a higher tax bracket. This mainly affects low and middle income people, and that is most Canadians.
The result is that young people see no hope in the country. Small businesses see no reason why they should grow and provide jobs. There is no incentive because of a budget like the one we have just seen.
I would like to concentrate on our position in the world. Where are we in the world? I have been fortunate to have been travelling for close to 40 years. I have travelled to just about every country in the world. This past year I have been in countries like China, India, Pakistan, Paris, London and and Norway. Everywhere I go I get the feeling that Canada is falling behind. Canada's influence is not what it used to be. We are in trouble, no matter how we look at it from an international perspective.
Last summer I spent two days at the OECD in Paris asking what was wrong with Canada, what was happening to the country we are so proud of and want to see prosper? They said, if they had to summarize it, that there were three issues. One was the debt. No country can have a debt to GDP ratio like Canada has and expect to succeed.
Second, we cannot have taxes like we have. We cannot have corporate and personal taxes at the level we have in Canada and expect people to have initiative and expect productivity to increase.
Third, and most important of all, we do not have a plan. Our government does not know where it is going in three months, in three years, in thirty years. There is no plan. The government goes from pillar to post and we get a budget like the one we are talking about here.
As a result our dollar is dropping. As a result our percentage of the world GDP is now 2.3%. Twenty years ago it was 5% of the world GDP. That is a dramatic decline in Canada's influence in the world.
The Canadian government is in a state of denial. The Liberals love to brag. They want to keep their spirits high. They allege that we are the top country in the world based on the UN human development index, which most experts say is an economic hoax. By dreaming we are number one, they fail to realize the kind of economic decline the country is in.
The World Bank says that our standard of living and prosperity has dropped from third to twelfth place in the past 10 years. We are the only country in the top 13 industrialized countries that has undergone such a decline. That hits home and that hits home hard. Those are hard, cold facts.
Canada has been displaced by nine countries in the last 10 years: Kuwait, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, Norway, Belgium, Austria, Denmark and the United Arab Emirates.
Let us look at the real indicators of what is happening to us. We can look at unemployment. Let us compare our unemployment at 8% to 9% to that of our neighbours with whom we compete. They are at 4.3%. This shows a decline in our economic performance. We all know that the level of unemployment is higher if we consider the discouraged unemployed workers who are no longer searching for jobs and the many involuntary part time workers. In a healthy economy there is virtually full employment. There are jobs for everyone and certainly they are full time jobs.
I have mentioned the Canadian dollar. Those who do not realize what has happened can travel anywhere in the world and see what they can buy with the Canadian dollar. On taxes, pay more and get less; $2,020 more in taxes in the last six years. Taxes kill jobs. Taxes kill incentive.
I could talk about the debt and the size of government, but in conclusion basically our productivity is falling. Our standard of living is falling. Our unemployment rate is double that of our U.S. cousins. As well, we have the highest taxes in the industrialized world.
The government has nothing to be proud of in the budget. It is a budget of pay more and get less, and the Canadian public will suffer from it.