Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Brandon--Souris.
I would like to comment on the remarks just recently made by my colleague from the NDP and also on the question asked by the member for Esquimalt--Juan de Fuca. They talked about raising the exemption level in relation to the payment of income tax. That is something which not only will we support but we have also recommended.
We have too many people living on fixed incomes and very low incomes who quite often have to turn to the government for social assistance. The government takes away, as the member for Esquimalt--Juan de Fuca said, on one hand through the income process, only to give back through some social program. It does not make any sense. It would be much better for the psyche of the individuals involved if they could go out, make a living, and hold on to the amount of money that they need in order to make a basic living.
The cost of living in this country and right across the world has gone sky high. We have not adjusted our exemption level in tune with the expenses and the needs of the average family in our country. Certainly, the government must look at that.
The NDP member for Churchill talked about seniors. They are perhaps one of the two groups in the country completely ignored by the government.
When I spoke earlier on the budget, I talked about the need to invest in our youth, to invest in education, and to educate our young people so that they will be contributors to society, rather than going out into the field without an education and forever taking from the system. It is a no-brainer. A young, educated population will be a contributing population
Any statistic we look at shows that individuals with a post-secondary education, plus any extra degrees at a higher level they might want to pick up, have a better chance of employment. If they cannot afford to go to a post-secondary institution they have no other choice except to go out and try to find some work in the workplace. These days such work is quite often intermittent, and therefore they end up on social assistance or drawing employment insurance, and because of the inability to look after themselves, their health costs escalate, and so on.
We have two choices. We can invest up front and have a population that contributes, or we do not invest and have a large portion of our population who, through absolutely no fault of their own but because of geographic or economic circumstances, will be taking from the system more than they will be putting in for the rest of their lives.
The other group includes our seniors. Many of them, especially in the rural areas, live on fixed incomes and old age pensions. Many of them have absolutely nothing else. If they worked in the private sector they probably do not have any extra pension except a small Canada pension which would be minimal. Many older people, particularly women, basically stayed home in their day, raised families, and consequently do not have Canada pension benefits.
These people are on a low fixed income which has not been increased for a considerable amount of time to any degree at all to meet the rapidly rising costs of living in this country. Yet, we expect them to maintain their residences, buy food, clothe themselves, cover the horrendous costs of health care that they face, in particular drugs which are not covered by medicare, and we do nothing to assist them. These are the people who built our country. These are the people we should be helping. We have not been doing it and it is about time we got around to doing it.
Let me talk about a few other concerns. The last time I spoke I gave the government credit for some of the new innovations in the budget. However, one of the concerns I have with the government, and I am sure others share it, is that we see all kinds of fancy announcements, but when we analyze them we realize they would be implemented over the next 3 years, 5 years, and 10 years. By that time the amount of money would diminish considerably in relation to value. When we look at the implementation process, the bureaucracy, and the money that must go to the advertising companies to advertise such programs, there is little left for individuals who are supposed to be the beneficiaries of such programs. It is not what is in the budget; it is what is not in it that is probably more important.
One of the interesting things when we talk about programs and the money going into new programs is that while the government is telling people it is doing this to a certain program and bringing in that new program, it is immediately telling its departments that they must cut $1 billion from programs. It did that, in fact, a couple of days ago. It gave the departments a deadline. The promises are extended over a considerable amount of time with all kinds of dollars that can be moved, taken out and changed. A lot of it has been double promised over the years and promised every time the government makes an announcement. However, the $1 billion is coming out today.
Some programs, for example, within the Department of Fisheries and Oceans are being cut by $17 million. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans has been begging on its knees for money for the past 10 years. The government has made these cuts from day one. The Coast Guard is at rock bottom. Boats cannot even afford fuel to do their jobs and are tied up in port.
We have security concerns in the country and nobody to address them. We have infrastructure problems and people within the department openly telling the government and the country at hearings that it would take $400 million to bring our facilities up to par. About 21% of our wharves are not safe to walk on.
Then, of course, we have the science branch. Two days ago the FRCC made recommendations on the cod stocks and yesterday in relation to the northern cod. It is basically saying to the government that these cod stocks are not growing. In fact, the northern cod is practically non-existent, less than 1% of the biomass that was there 15 years ago. It will also tell us we do not know very much about what is going on in the ocean simply because we have no science. That is inexcusable. As we run into these problems we need an increase. We do not need the government, telling departments behind everybody's back, to cut and cut from such things as science.
One of the things the government can do to help this country prosper, to help small business, to help business generally and to get out there and create the money that can help seniors, students and our science is to cut out some of the red tape and bureaucracy. We have too much bureaucracy. The more complicated the system the longer the bureaucrats have their jobs.
We must streamline delivery. We must have one stop shopping. We do not need 13 stops to get permits to start developing our minerals or the offshore. We need to cut down on bureaucracy and let the private sector get out there to create jobs, and create the type of economy that can help those who need help.