Mr. Speaker, I have been following this debate since it began around noon, and I listened to my hon. Liberal colleague's presentation. True to form, the Liberals have rejected out of hand all the provisions that might help out ordinary citizens.
For example, there is the whole story about taxes, the GST and school boards. My hon. colleague suggested an excellent amendment. Who will pay for this? So, there is a move to make it retroactive. Not only are the school boards in Quebec and Canada being told, “You have to pay GST now, but also for the years when you did not pay any”. This kind of retroactive measure shows the Liberals' extreme arrogance too. This kind of retroactive measure means money will be taken from the taxpayers, who will be told, “You were allowed to do that for years, but now, not only is it no longer allowed, but you have to pay us back for the years when you did not pay any”.
This is totally in keeping with the Liberal's budgetary philosophy since 1993. Someone is hiding; it is the member for LaSalle—Émard. Everyone says he is the Prime Minister. And the Prime Minister's philosophy since 1993 has been to forget about the ordinary citizens. The Prime Minister and the member for LaSalle—Émard are two of a kind. The member for LaSalle—Émard can also count on us when he becomes leader of the Liberal Party: he will be taken to task for this arrogance and the unfair treatment of ordinary citizens.
The school boards are one example. The disability tax credit is another. Disabled people have been around for ages. They learn they are entitled to a tax credit and then, suddenly, what does the Liberal Party do? It goes after the disabled, people living in poverty, people who need this credit and who are suddenly told, “You will not be getting this any more”.
One of our colleagues from the NDP has proposed an amendment to help these people out. Once again it was shunted aside by the Liberals. What is keeping that party from going after the oil companies instead of rejecting such proposals? These companies are busy amassing billions of dollars in profits. There is no connivance, no collusion, between the companies. They all raise gas prices at the pump at all four corners of an intersection at the same time, but there is no collusion involved.
And the minister is taking refuge behind the fact that prices at the pump come under Quebec's jurisdiction. We say that he, being the one in charge of the competition bureau, needs to give the position of commissioner some teeth and that he is in a position to call a public inquiry to look into all aspects of the issue.
But no, the government prefers to go after the disabled rather than the oil companies. Why so? Probably for taxation reasons. The government keeps on piling up the surpluses. And what do I mean by that? That it takes too much money for the services it delivers and then, instead of telling people, “We are going to reduce the contribution rate”, it tells them, “Keep on paying in, and we'll pay down our debt with it”.
Perhaps it is important to reduce the debt, and I do not deny that. But when we are told that the surplus, the amount of which was underestimated at the beginning of the budget cycle, is going solely toward reducing the debt, there is a problem. People deserve value for money. What happens is that there is no change in services, but people pay more dearly for them, because of the surplus. Instead of helping ordinary people, the government keeps silent.
The gas companies pay excise tax; there is the GST; there are many taxes. So, the more gas prices go up, the more the government's revenues go up. What happens then? Additional revenues the next year, probably. And what will they go for? To pay off the debt.
Since the beginning, that is since 1993, the Liberal budget philosophy has remained unchanged. The member for LaSalle—Émard is the author of the whole federal Liberal budget philosophy. We can give a lot of examples. What are people getting out of the employment insurance fund? Before, seven out of ten people losing their job were entitled to benefits. Now the figure is barely four out of ten.
The surpluses in that fund continue to grow by $4 billion or $5 billion every year. They have reached a total of $44 billion over nine or ten years. What is this money used for? Once again, the government is using it to pay off its debt. But there are no special programs for those in difficulty, like the fishers in the Gaspé or the softwood lumber workers. They are being told, “Sorry. Pay your contributions to EI and when you need it, we'll say no. The money we make out of this, we'll put toward the debt”.
This is no longer an insurance; it has become a disguised tax. That is what EI is today. Many are challenging this in court and elsewhere.
The guaranteed income supplement is another example of the Liberal philosophy. There are 68,000 people across Quebec, and 1,000 in my riding of St-Jean who do not qualify. The latest statistics show that only 20% of these were found. They were eligible for the guaranteed income supplement, but no one in the federal government bothered telling them.
So, there are still 800 people in St-Jean who could use this $2,000 or $3,000 supplement every year. There were be economic spinoffs. These are not people who would take the money and put it in the bank. They will eat out, catch a movie, go out a little more than they can afford to right now.
Clearly the Liberal philosophy is not in favour of these people. There was talk of the disability tax credit and I spoke about it earlier. The same thing goes for transfers to the provinces. The provinces are dealing with enormous problems in health and education because this government has kept cutting back on its contribution. It is saying, “We will keep the taxes in Ottawa, but we will give you less and less”.
Health is a perfect example. The federal government used to pay 50 cents for every dollar spent in health care in Quebec. Today, it pays 14 cents. The federal government is not doing its share. On top of that, the 14 cents is tied to all sorts of Canada-wide standards. If the standards are not met, the government will reduce its contribution accordingly. Not only is the money conditional, but it decreases over time.
On the matter of fiscal imbalance, I hope that the new Liberal minister in Quebec City, Mr. Séguin, is going to address it. He headed a commission in Quebec that found that we were losing $50 million a week. That works out to $2.5 billion a year, hardly something to sneeze at. I hope that the Quebec minister will say to the federal government, which is also Liberal, “I was a part of a commission that calculated that Quebec lost $50 million a week. Is there some way to rebalance this?”
We know there has also been mismanagement because even in areas that are under the government's own jurisdiction, there have still been problems.
Let me give an analogy. Someone might say to me, “I am going to manage your house. It will cost you $2 a year”. At the end of the year, this person who was looking after my house hands me a bill for $1,000. That is what happened with the firearms program. A program that was supposed to cost $2 million a year has now cost $1 billion. That is using the same scale as my analogy. It was supposed to cost $2, but it wound up costing $1,000. Imagine the situation.
I understand that the government has trouble managing its own household. And moreover, it wants to run other people's households on the principle of giving as little as possible to taxpayers and the middle class. The middle class must pay. But when the time comes that they need a service, they do not get it.
I shall conclude by saying that, of course, the budget before us is not acceptable. Clearly, we are trying to reduce the negative impact on the middle class with amendments like the ones moved to help the school boards continue to provide services and to help handicapped people to retain their tax credit.
Once again, I have the impression that we are acting in accordance with a philosophy of compassion, where we understand people. We understand that they are overtaxed and need help. We understand that the government with the most money ought to do more to help these people, because it takes their income taxes and other taxes and does not give them back.
The sovereignist movement in Quebec has understood this for a long time. It is sad that this Liberal philosophy has continued, year after year, since 1993. From 1993 to 2002, the former Minister of Finance, currently the hon. member for LaSalle—Émard, was in charge. He was the one who put this slant on the government's outlook. We reserve the right to make him face up to his responsibilities when the election campaign begins.
I hope that Canadians and Quebeckers will remember all the budgets they have paid for and how little they got back.
In the current context, with amendments that may be rejected one after another, it is obvious that the Bloc Quebecois cannot support the motion to adopt the budget, a budget which, in our opinion, is regressive and which shows no appreciation for the people who pay the taxes.