Madam Speaker, the mini-budget brought down today by the Minister of Finance would do any member of the Canadian Alliance proud.
It is a budget that leans to the right. It is a budget that will satisfy a certain cross-section of taxpayers in Quebec and in Canada, but which ignores a large chunk of the population.
With the staggering, not to say exploding, surpluses at the disposal of the Minister of Finance, we were expecting that he would do something for those who were really responsible for helping put the fiscal house in order, those whose efforts have made the last three years of zero deficits possible and are still being gouged by the federal tax system, those who are the reason the minister can stand here today and boast about surpluses.
We thought that the main beneficiaries of these tax cuts would be low and middle income families, not families at the top end of the scale, those earning $250,000 and up, not the millionaire friends of the Minister of Finance.
We were expecting that a major effort would be made to provide relief for the neediest families, those who are responsible for Canada's improved finances.
Instead, we see tax cuts for those at the top, those earning $250,000 and up. Many of them are listening today. We see tax cuts for these folks that are 40 times the tax cuts for a Canadian family earning $35,000. That is 40 times higher.
Tax cuts for a family with one dependent child and a $35,000 income represent 1% of that family's income, whereas tax cuts for families with an income of $250,000 or more represent 8% for that income bracket. What kind of fairness is this? It is worse than the flat rate advocated by the Alliance.
With the tax cuts, the change in the capital gains taxation, and the elimination of the surtax, a family that has an income of $250 000 will get a $20,000 reduction in its tax bill this year. This is $20,000 after taxes for people who do not need it and did not contribute to the surplus. So this family will get $20,000, and a single income family with one dependent child and $35,000 will get only $500. That is $20,000 compared to $500.
Can we imagine what we could have done by transferring to low and middle income families the tax cuts being granted to the rich? We could have eliminated all federal income tax for families with an income of $40,000 or less. Families in need, families that are in need because of this government and this callous finance minister, could have been dropped from the federal income tax roll.
Today, the finance minister candidly gave us an interesting bit of information. We have often risen in the House to ask him to do something to ensure that single parents with one dependent child earning less than $35,000 not pay any tax. He has always said “It is already taken care of, those people no longer pay any tax”. How can he explain now that he wants to reduce the income tax level for this bracket of income when these people supposedly no longer pay any tax?
After saying just about anything about the surplus, after hiding the real figures from the Canadian people to prevent any public debate on the Liberals' priorities right wing priorities, they are now fudging the figures on income tax reduction. They want Canadians to believe that they will benefit from extraordinary income tax cuts and from the government's generosity, but this is not the case at all. The only ones who will benefit from all this, as was the case in the last two budgets, are Canadians with very high incomes, friends of the party, and they say that there are income tax cuts.
With the last budget for the same family earning no more than $35,000, there is a $200 reduction. For a family earning $250,000 and more, there is a $9,000 reduction. Is that the kind of fairness the government is talking about? Is that what is meant by responsibility in the minister's documents? So much for social justice. Our viewers will not be fooled. They will realize that for the vast majority of taxpayers there might be some tax cuts, but inadequate cuts, since the Minister of Finance has surpluses coming out his ears.
This year he dares to say that the surplus will reach $6 billion only, whereas close to $12 billion has already been accumulated in the coffers of the federal government. That is more than double his forecasts for this year. He might have doubled the effort he is making now, but for ordinary people.
Given the proposals that are made, I think that is pretty clear. Over the next five years $74 billion will go to tax reductions, but these should be directed at the real people. Nine taxpayers out of ten should get tax reductions because they are the ones who paid in order that public finances could be placed on a sounder footing. We are talking about people earning less than $80,000.
That is what should be targeted, that is the unfairness that should be corrected, for these are the people who paid for fiscal improvement. These are the people who are still getting bled white by the tax system so that very affluent families can enjoy those incredible tax reductions. People within those same income brackets workers and small business people contributing to the employment insurance system are funding, through the surplus accumulated in the EI account, the tax reductions the finance minister is giving today on a silver plate to the very rich taxpayers.
I am talking also about the unemployed men and women who are not receiving any EI benefits since they were literally thrown out of the system because of the drastic cuts made in this system and because of the tightening up of the eligibility criteria.
In rural areas in particular, families are out of a job eight weeks every year and cannot qualify for EI. These people who are in dire straits are the ones who pay for the tax reductions granted to the rich. It is unacceptable.
In this statement as in the last two budgets tabled by the Minister of Finance, the last two Liberal budgets, where are the liberal values and the social solidarity? Where?
The purpose of these measures is to gain the support of the right wing, being courted by the Alliance. The Liberals are starting to look like the Alliance.