This week, I changed much of the tech behind this site. If you see anything that looks like a bug, please let me know!

House of Commons Hansard #68 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was claims.

Topics

The BudgetGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Helena Guergis Conservative Simcoe—Grey, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would remind the member that this is a new Conservative Party of Canada. I also would remind him, as I stand in this great House, that the residents of Simcoe--Grey elected a Conservative member of Parliament. Why? Because they believed the Conservative Party during the election. They understood that the Conservative Party meant business when it said it would increase military spending.

Let us talk about the campaign for a minute. In the last election, the Liberals campaigned against many of the Conservative initiatives, which they so happily now accept. The Liberals very much criticized our platform as being fiscally irresponsible.

The BudgetGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Pallister Conservative Portage—Lisgar, MB

It is unbelievable.

The BudgetGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Helena Guergis Conservative Simcoe—Grey, ON

Yes, it is unbelievable.

Our platform committed to $58 billion in new spending and tax reductions over five years. The Liberals now have made $55 billion in new commitments over the same time period. What has changed?

We told the truth. We knew what the surplus was. We knew the numbers. We will always know the numbers. We will always be honest with Canadians. The Liberal government was dishonest. It did not know the numbers, although I remember the Prime Minister saying time and again that he knew the numbers, that it was $1.9 billion. It is $9.1 billion in surplus.

Canadians and residents of Simcoe--Grey know that the Conservative Party means what it says. They know that if a promise is made by a Conservative government, the promise will be kept.

The BudgetGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, I know time is short but I would like to thank you for allowing my colleague a little flexibility in the time which permitted her to speak to all the important points. I hope you will grant me the same flexibility in the future.

I want to recognize my colleague for her expertise on seniors issues. She also has a lot of experience in women's crises and those types of issues. I want her to comment on some of the things in the budget which address that area, which is so crucial to women across the country.

The BudgetGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Helena Guergis Conservative Simcoe—Grey, ON

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is correct. I have a great deal of experience in working in issues of violence against women and children. For seven and a half years I worked at a rape crisis centre. In fact I walked through three ridings to raise awareness of violence against women and children. This goes back about 10 years and I am really sad to say that nothing has changed on the issue of violence against women and children. We are seeing statistics that indicate it is even more prevalent.

Unfortunately, the government has failed. It has actually put a great deal of money into this serious issue through Status of Women Canada, but it has failed to actually address the issue. Without the department providing any clear evidence that women's programs are working to reduce violence against women and children, all we see are statistics indicating that violence is going up. There should be a program in place that provides measurable results in terms of reducing the rates of violence against women and children.

Also, I would like to note that the member for Calgary—Nose Hill has continually exposed the government for continuing with its strippergate program, which, as a woman, I find very offensive. I am also very concerned that aboriginal women still do not have their matrimonial home rights. This is appalling. In this day and age that should not be the case.

I can assure the House and the residents of Simcoe—Grey that at any given opportunity I will work as hard as I possibly can to eradicate violence against women and children.

The BudgetGovernment Orders

4:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

It is my duty, pursuant to Standing Order 38, to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Surrey South—White Rock, Justice; the hon. member for Calgary Centre-North, Aboriginal Affairs; the hon. member for Lanark—Frontenac—Lennox and Addington, Ctizenship and Immigration.

The BudgetGovernment Orders

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Pallister Conservative Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, let me say that I very much appreciate the comments by the member for Simcoe—Grey and congratulate her on them. I also want to say that the focused comments she made and the strength of those comments is a reflection of the strength of the Conservative Party and the number of new members that we have. They have been such a source of new strength to this political organization. They will be such a source of strength to Canadians in the future.

Two weeks ago the annual budget circus came through town. I want to make some comments about it. It is an annual event in Ottawa. It is promoted with the newest version of the red book. Special interest groups come down to the midway out here looking for free rides. The media act as carnival barkers hyping the newest Liberal act or the newest Liberal special concession. All that is missing is a big red-nosed clown with a pair of oversized shoes. Perhaps that is an idea for the finance minister next year, something he could do to dress up more appropriately.

What passes for dramatic, high quality theatre in this insular little community, this little backwater, has long ago worn thin in the more civilized metropolitan areas across the country where this budget exercise is seen accurately for what it truly is: the dull, monotonous, repetitive noise of a theatrical troupe that long ago lost its capacity for original thinking. If it inspires at all, it only inspires tired yawns, because everyone knows that when the circus leaves town, it takes our money and we are left to pick up the garbage. There is an old song that goes like this:

It's a Barnum and Bailey world,Just as phony as it can be,But it wouldn't be make believe,If you believed in me.

What is there to believe in with the government? The same Foghorn Leghorn hoopla about fixing health care, day care and the dirty air that we have heard for over a decade since those guys came in. Is anybody out there still buying this? Have my fellow citizens not caught on to the deception yet? Do they not realize that the midway is full of con men and pickpockets bent on relieving them of their hard-earned wages?

P.T. Barnum may have been right; maybe there is a sucker born every minute. The government certainly has placed its faith in that philosophy. It will fix our roads, later. It will fix our military, later. It will help our students, later. It will sharpen its pencils, much later. It is not even trying to buy Canadians with their own money any more. It is trying to buy them with a promise to return a portion of their own money at some indistinct time in the future. It is trying to buy Canadians' votes with a postdated cheque.

It is pretty clear that the Liberal government has as much respect for Canadian taxpayers as a loud-mouthed, top-hatted carnival barker luring the hayseed, gap-toothed farm boys down to the midway so they can part with their hard-earned chore money on a cannot miss proposition, a cannot miss game of ring toss, a cannot miss game of chance. “Try again, sucker, you can't lose. You're a guaranteed winner”. That is the philosophy the government has revealed by this year's budget.

What I despise about the government's budget spin is the sheer phoniness of it. All the caring words have been clearly driven by polls, clearly crafted by communicators who know and who will tell us if we care to listen that Canadians do not care much about what we know; they only care about how much we care. The Liberal budget and its promotional documents are all about caring, but they are not much about knowing.

There is an old adage from the business I come from, estate planning, that estate planning is about caring and caring enough to act. The Liberals care; they just do not care enough to act. They have constructed a house of mirrors designed to show compassion, but the images are distortions of the truth.

The Liberals promise a more generous employment insurance program, pouring hundreds more millions into a program to make EI more easily accessible, sooner, for longer, with more generous benefits. We are supposed to see an image of caring for an unfortunate laid off worker, but the reality of the government is $45 billion overcharged, excessively high premiums that have been misappropriated year after year from working people and from small business people from coast to coast. That money could have helped to create real jobs. It is money that could have helped to provide sustenance to real, deserving, low income Canadians.

The reality is that the government's mismanagement of EI has become an inducement for people to become dependent on the program. The reality is mothers cannot get their teenagers to study. They cannot get them to continue their education. Why? Because it is too easy for them to go on the dole.

The reality is it is harder for businesses in the very regions the Liberals pretend to help to find willing workers, to find trained workers, to find trainable workers. The reality is elevated unemployment because of the program itself. But it does result in more repeat customers for next year's carnival and that is the government's objective.

Liberal social policies are like a fire that creates its own wind. They are like the circus promoter whose marketing strategy consists of nothing but yelling louder into a bigger megaphone.

Maybe we should lure people to come to the compassionate aboriginal tent where they can view the captive noble Indian. The Liberals care so much about aboriginal people. We can tell because they are spending $700 million more this year on new houses and $10 billion in total on aboriginal programs out of two dozen government departments. They must care. Here is the biggest shell game of all because every person in Canada knows the big lie: spending more equals better results. It never has and never will, except on budget day.

Here is the problem with throwing more money toward aboriginal houses. Aboriginal homes are a myth on almost all reserves in Canada. There are no aboriginal homes. There are only houses. Why? Because no one owns them. They will cost twice as much to build. They will last half as long. Why? Because no one owns them.

A few first nations communities have independently established their own programs for personal home ownership with exciting results. There is better maintenance, better security, better neighbourhoods, reduced crime, reduced vandalism. People do not vandalize their neighbour's house when they have responsibly managed their own. When people grow up with property rights, as most of us in the House have had the privilege of doing, they tend to understand certain things about managing property and they tend to develop respect for others.

Too many aboriginal young people have not had that right given to them. It needs to happen and aboriginal people in some reserves are taking the lead. If the Liberals really cared, why would they not have years ago encouraged the development of such uplifting programs across Canada? Because they want us to see how compassionate they are every year at budget time. That is made much more difficult when aboriginal communities are well governed and independent.

The definition of insanity is doing things the same way as in the past and expecting different results. This is an insane government. It asks Canadians to spend more on expensive canvas and paint every year but the expensive veneer of caring hides the reality of welfare and drug addicted Indian reserves, crime ravaged neighbourhoods, unaccountable bureaucracies and yes, unaccountable chiefs, and abused women with no rights.

As my colleague from Simcoe—Grey alluded to, after 12 years one would think that a compassionate government would at least have acted to provide matrimonial property rights, but apparently $10 billion a year only buys so much. It certainly does not buy results.

What would our wild west show be without cowboys? The BSE crisis has made these previously independent frontiersmen of the cattle industry prime candidates for Liberal caring. Promises of bailout packages, promises of increased slaughter capacity, the Liberal government must really care. Yet again, the reality is quite different.

When the polls have it that it would be a more popular approach for the government to put a stick in the eyes of the American trading partner, particularly the Quebec polls, let us watch how the Liberals care. Let them show us how much they care. After all, why would they risk their popularity and help the Americans of all people?

Why would we who are so secure and so fiercely independent not help Americans protect themselves against a North Korean missile? There are two reasons. One, the government needs the anti-American vote. Two, we are only compassionate domestically.

The real reason the Liberal circus has retained its patrons is that its patrons have no choice. The big top is the only one in town. The MPs ride around on the bumper cars, careening and occasionally colliding, shouting at one another and forming committees.

The media report on the ups and downs from the Ferris wheel. Unbeknownst to them, though it occasionally provides a somewhat different perspective, it is not really moving, while the special interest groups go for the brass ring on the merry-go-round.

“Get your tickets and step right up”, they say. Sure, it is not the greatest show on earth, and it probably never was, but hey, the Liberals gave us $16 back on our taxes. Buy some cotton candy. The show is about to start. Here come the clowns. Or is that a mirror?

The Conservative Party is going to close down the old Liberal carnival. We have new ideas. We have integrity. We have new energy. We are willing to keep our promises, something this government has not ever learned how to do.

The BudgetGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

Bloc

Marc Lemay Bloc Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, I greatly appreciated the speech our colleague has just given. I will, however, have just one question for him.

His speech demonstrates clearly that the Conservative Party is opposed to the budget we will be voting on about 63 minuted from now. Do all of his colleagues think the way he does, and will they be voting against the budget this evening? If they did, we would be having another election, and the Liberals would at last end up in opposition.

The BudgetGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Pallister Conservative Portage—Lisgar, MB

Unlike my colleague, Mr. Speaker, who has the luxury of languishing under the eavestrough down there and cannot bring the government down, unlike my colleague who is here based on a commitment not to support Canada in any way, shape or form but rather to simply support his own portion of Canada, unlike my colleague, I care very much for the proper management of taxpayers' dollars. So much so that I would not want to see $300 million thrown away on an election that virtually no Canadian wants, including him, if he had the courage to admit it, but he does not.

Unlike that member, I have every desire to see the government brought down and will make sure that it is done at the appropriate time.

The BudgetGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

An hon. member

You'll have your chance in two hours.

The BudgetGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Pallister Conservative Portage—Lisgar, MB

Let me address another issue. The member for the NDP who is heckling me, the member from Winnipeg, the member for sackcloth, I believe it is, has intimated that he would like to see the government brought down. I think that is only because he knows he will not have to run against the former mayor of Winnipeg who received a patronage appointment last week from this government.

The BudgetGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

David Tilson Conservative Dufferin—Caledon, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member for Portage—Lisgar commented in his speech on post-dated cheques and the phoniness of the budget.

When we look at almost all the expenditure promises that the government has made, the promises for Kyoto, defence and child care, they are all spread over five years, are they not? It is quite remarkable to look at the fact that 1998 was the first year the Liberals balanced the books and by 2005 spending will have increased by 82%. That is quite remarkable. I do not know how future governments, whether they are on this side or that side, are going to be able to have budgets, because there is no money left. The Liberals have spent it all.

Can the member make any predictions as to where in the world the government is going to find the revenue over the next five years to pay for all of these promises?

The BudgetGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Pallister Conservative Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, I think it is not unreasonable to assume, although one might be accused of cynicism, that the government will not keep its promises given its record of not doing so.

That said, of course in the budget documents much is made about the expenditure review process that the government engaged in this time. Only in the federal government, of this government's mismanagement, would the idea of reviewing priorities of expenditures be seen as original thinking. Everyone in their own home does this all the time. Every successful and most unsuccessful small businesses across the country do this all the time. Virtually anyone who has ever had a modicum of business acumen does this all the time.

However, here we have to read pages after pages. There are two pages in the budget documents on agriculture and 29 pages on how the government is going to review its expenditures. Methinks much ado about nothing. Methinks the Liberals make too big a case for doing something they should have been doing for a decade.

I was the minister of government services in Manitoba when we were forced by this government's downloading to the provincial governments to take an extremely sharp pencil to a lot of our expenditures. One of the areas that we in Manitoba, along with most of the other provincial governments, really took a strong look at was the area of procurement, purchasing, tendering, management of properties and so on. There are actually literally billions of dollars in savings to be derived in that category alone through better government management. Those billions in savings have been derived by provincial governments and the MUSH sector as well.

However, here we have a government 13 years after the fact saying it is going to do the same thing now. It is follow the leader. We have not had to follow the example of the federal government. We have proceeded at the provincial and local levels to manage better not because of their example but because of their downloading to us. Only in the federal government would government services efficiencies be considered a new, novel, original and creative way to manage government expenditures.

The government has said that well over half its committed reductions in expenditure will come through better purchasing of things like computers, centralized order placing, special orders and things like this. This is so funny and so pathetic because these are things that provincial governments were doing a decade ago, as I have said.

The federal government and this Prime Minister like to talk about what prudent fiscal managers they are, but it is clearly evident that any credit belongs to the Canadian taxpayers on whose backs this government has based its own undeserved reputation.

The BudgetGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

Trinity—Spadina Ontario

Liberal

Tony Ianno LiberalMinister of State (Families and Caregivers)

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak in support of the budget today, especially for me as Minister of State for Families and Caregivers, because this budget is designed to better the lives of Canadians.

This is a budget that says strongly and clearly, “Our priority is people”. Our goal is to make sure that everyone in this country has the chance to live a decent quality of life. Our mission is to ensure that all Canadians have the opportunity to make the most of their lives.

The budget sends a clear statement. As Canadians, we care. We care about children and we want them to share in every opportunity. We care about seniors and we want them to live in dignity. We care about our fellow Canadians who are sick or suffering and need support and healing.

I would like to congratulate my colleague, the Minister of Finance, for making this commitment, in working to ensure that no Canadian is left behind, and in following through on it.

This budget builds on a strong economic plan. Three million Canadians are working more today than 10 years ago and over three million Canadians will be off the federal tax rolls when this is fully implemented. It ensures greater equality of opportunity. It will help shape a more inclusive country.

As a budget that continues to address the needs of Canadians, it reflects the character of our nation. It is compassionate. It demonstrates a commitment to help those who need it and provides opportunity for those who lack it.

That is why it deals with one of the most important concerns people have: making sure they have access to health care. The budget builds on the plan to provide $41 billion over 10 years. It adds $805 million over five years in new direct federal health investments. That includes: an integrated strategy to encourage healthy living and prevent and control chronic diseases; support for improved waiting times and health performance information; enhancing the safety and effectiveness of drugs and other therapeutic products; key investments in pandemic influenza preparedness; and environmental health.

There are aboriginal health programs addressing urgent needs, focusing on children, youth and their families. Over five years we will be investing over $700 million for aboriginal health, $345 million for aboriginal early learning and child care and other services, $340 million for aboriginal housing and $120 million for education on reserves. We continue to work toward meeting the housing needs of Canadians through investments and programs for our national housing initiatives, affordable housing, including RRAP programs, and other initiatives that are ongoing with money still unspent.

This budget also addresses the literacy needs of Canadians. That is why the government has created a National Literacy Secretariat and is investing $30 million in funding over three years.

People care about each other. That is a fundamental Canadian value. Across the country, Canadians are caring for members of their families and friends. For some the demands are overwhelming. We have to help make it manageable for everyone. Budget 2005 doubles the amount of medical and disability expenses that Canadians can claim on behalf of a dependent relative, from $5,000 to $10,000. By further strengthening health care and equalization payments, the federal government will support provinces and territories in their efforts to deliver much needed home care and respite programs.

We know there is still a lot to be done, which is why we will be working with the provinces and territories in designing an overall strategy for caregivers.

This budget recognizes the need to meet our obligations to future generations. One of the ways we do this is by securing a healthy and sustainable environment. We are determined to help shape a green economy.

Budget 2005 supports that with a five year, $5 billion package. This includes a $4 billion action plan on climate change and a $1 billion clean fund, which will invest in cost effective projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This budget will help Canadians make Kyoto a reality and take advantage of the economic opportunity it presents.

Another Canadian priority is meeting our global responsibilities. That is why the government made a commitment to strengthen Canada's contribution to peace, prosperity and security in the world. We are doubling our international assistance by 2010-11. We will help Africa achieve greater health and prosperity.

As a people's budget, it looks to the future, just like Canadians look to the future of building a better tomorrow. Looking to the future includes a commitment to early learning and child care. The government is providing $5 billion in new investments to give our children the best possible start.

Looking to the future includes support for immigrants. Almost $400 million has been committed to help make services more responsive and integrate newcomers to Canada more quickly where they can contribute in meaningful ways.

The people's budget provides support for Canada's cultural development, helping to ensure that Canadian voices are able to tell Canada's story. Our cultural community is the soul of our nation and we continue to give much support to those who continue to describe who we are to the world.

The people's budget must do something else. It must reduce the tax burden on those least able to bear it. This budget will take an additional 860,000 people off the tax rolls, including almost 250,000 seniors. It implements the recommendations of the technical advisory committee on tax measures for persons with disabilities. I am especially glad that the budget addresses many needs of Canada's senior citizens.

At the request of the Prime Minister, I was pleased to lead the task force on active living and dignity for seniors. My report, “Creating a National Seniors Agenda”, made recommendations to improve the quality of life for seniors, addressing the needs of today's most vulnerable seniors.

The people's budget includes a key recommendation of the task force report, namely, increased support for low income seniors who receive the guaranteed income supplement, the allowance, and the allowance for the survivor. This represents the biggest income hike in a generation for seniors who need it most. This is the first increase to the GIS since 1984, other than inflation indexing, and totals $2.7 billion over the next five years. When the transition year is taken away, it will be $3.5 billion and ongoing.

By 2007 the increase will add up to approximately $433 a year for single seniors and $700 a year for couples. These amounts will make a real difference in their lives and will also make up to 50,000 more seniors eligible for partial GIS benefits.

This budget makes it easier for Canadians to save for their retirement with annual contribution limits rising to $22,000 by 2010. This gives us the additional opportunity to help those most in need.

The people's budget provides a mechanism to bring us together on seniors issues. A national seniors secretariat within the Department of Social Development will work with partners in and out of government to find ways to meet the needs of current and future generations of seniors working together. It will also look for opportunities to mobilize the energies and efforts of seniors who have already spent a lifetime contributing to Canadian society.

One of the ways we pursue that is through additional support for the new horizons program for seniors. It encourages seniors active living and social participation, enabling older Canadians to continue contributing to their communities. Tens of thousands more Canadians will be able to take part in projects that build vibrant communities by including and empowering seniors.

This budget recognizes the need to build strong communities. It delivers long term, stable and predictable funding as part of the commitment to a new deal for cities and communities. Under the new deal, federal, provincial, territorial, and municipal governments will work together with other stakeholders to develop long term strategies for improving our communities so that Canadians have better lives.

Let us not forget that people depend on an innovative, robust economy. The 2005 budget provides for significant strategic investments to build a highly skilled and adaptable workforce, and a world class research environment.

Working with the University of Toronto in my riding and the research hospitals, I know the importance of their work to ensuring that Canadians enjoy the quality of life we seek for our families. Over $11 billion has been invested since the 1997-98 budget and an additional $800 million has been added this time around for research and development.

We know more work needs to be done. We are determined to keep moving forward, for many budgets are about numbers but equally as important they are about people. Our budget underscores our unwavering commitment to build strong social foundations where no Canadian is left behind.

Budget 2005 reinforces that we live in a caring society. It underscores that we live in a society where we care about each other and care about the rest of the world, a society that ensures full inclusion of all its members where opportunity and fairness is assured for all. This is just an ongoing process. We will continue working to put the building blocks of our society together. I am proud to be a member of this Liberal government that will continue to ensure that no one is left behind.

The BudgetGovernment Orders

4:40 p.m.

Bloc

Paule Brunelle Bloc Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the minister a question.

We know that 54% of single mothers, 42% of women over the age of 65, and 38% of women under the age of 65 are still living below the poverty line in Canada, according to the statistics for 2002.

I am a member of the new committee in my capacity as critic for the status of women. Since we started sitting, we have had more than 40 women's groups come asking for basic funding for these groups, which work with the society's most disadvantaged women.

How can this government, with all the surplus funds it has, be so indifferent to the erosion of the middle class and the impoverishment of women in Canada? How can it not come up with some supplementary measure in this budget to help those in our society who are the least well off?

The BudgetGovernment Orders

4:45 p.m.

Liberal

Tony Ianno Liberal Trinity—Spadina, ON

Mr. Speaker, I neglected to mention that I am sharing my time with the member for Kitchener—Waterloo.

The reason I was addressing this budget on the basis of it being one of the best budgets in the last 12 years is because it deals with women and of course low income Canadians.

When we are dealing with child care, it is an opportunity for children to enhance their opportunities in life. When we take into account the need, whether it be from the Bloc or other parties, we must ensure that single parents have the chance to send their children to an enriching institution that will allow them to continue to grow. When we take into account that it is often single women who will be dealing with this issue, whether it be in Quebec or the rest of Canada, it is something that we care very much about.

When we take into account low income seniors, it is was often, due to our history, women who were staying home, being homemakers, and contributing to society in many meaningful ways. However, they were not receiving additional pensions, such as CPP, and other opportunities did not arise for them. In terms of low income single seniors, mainly women, they will be receiving an additional $433 when fully implemented and $700 per couple.

This continues to set the agenda with the national senior secretariat, allowing us to do research and have a focal point to work with other levels of government and stakeholders, so that we can enhance the needs of seniors as they continue to expand on the demographic side in our society.

I know that some of the members in her party that I have spoken with continue to support us on this. For many years this was not a highlight. Now, the Minister of Finance and the Prime Minister, who, as soon as he took over in December, named me to chair the task force. It has put 17 recommendations forward. We will continue to work with other ministers like the Minister of Labour and Housing in terms of dealing with housing issues, rent supplements for low income seniors, and especially with reverse mortgages. We will be speaking with stakeholders that will allow for opportunities to enhance low income seniors so that they can live with additional dignity. We will be dealing with private landlords so that they can contribute to the equation, as well as provincial governments, municipal governments and of course the federal government to ensure that Canadians have the quality of life that we all wish for them.

There are many things in this budget that we will continue to work on to ensure that low income Canadians have the opportunities so that they can continue to enhance their lives in a society that we all call Canada and of which we are all proud.

The BudgetGovernment Orders

4:45 p.m.

Liberal

Andrew Telegdi Liberal Kitchener—Waterloo, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to partake in this debate on the budget. I think most members will agree and demonstrate by their votes that it is a solid budget for the people of Canada, and we look forward to that acceptance tonight.

I could be talking about health care and improvements made there. The secretary of state just talked about seniors. We have great improvements in the environment and environmental technologies, heritage and the military. However, given the nature of my riding of Kitchener--Waterloo, I will focus on three areas: immigration, students and post-secondary education, and research and development.

My constituency of Kitchener--Waterloo is part of Canada's technology triangle. Within Canada's technology triangle there are 554 technology enterprises plus 404 others that provide related services. The technology sector provides 10% of the employment in the Waterloo-Guelph region and accounts for 45% of job growth.

The post-secondary institutions in my riding include Conestoga College, which is the number one college in Ontario. The college has 65 full or part time programs in applied arts, business, health sciences, engineering technology and trades.

The University of Waterloo is known worldwide for its leading computer science, mathematics and engineering programs. It has the world's largest enrollment in mathematics, 10% of Canada's engineering graduates, 15% of mathematics and computer science Ph.D.s in Canada, and 30% of all mathematics graduates in Ontario. The university has the world's largest co-op education program with over 10,000 co-op students each year. It was the University of Waterloo that pioneered cooperative education in Canada.

Wilfrid Laurier University is best known for its excellence in business and economics programs. Its faculties include arts, science, business and economics, graduate studies and social work. Since 1984 The Laurier Institute has designed and delivered management development programs to organizations in and around Canada's technology triangle.

There are 53 research institutes at the University of Waterloo: fifteen in information and communication technology, seven in engineering, six in science, five in life sciences, three in environment, three in education, three in mathematics, two in business, one in biotechnology and eight others. The Conestoga College of Applied Arts and Technology hosts one centre of excellence in engineering.

There are other research institutions in the Waterloo-Guelph region including the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, the Centre for International Governance Innovation, and the Grand River Regional Cancer Centre. In addition, institutes for technology transfers include Guelph Food Technology Centre and the Waterloo Biotechnology Research Centre.

I would like to point out that when I first came into this House in 1993 and I listened to the first Speech from the Throne that was put forward by the government, there was no mention of post-secondary education or research and development.

At that time I, along with the member for Peterborough and John English who was the member for Kitchener, started up the post-secondary education caucus. We were pushing for research and development in our post-secondary institutions. We really believed that the future of Canada lay in our innovation, and to that end, technology research funding in post-secondary education is very important. The member who chairs this committee for our caucus is the member for Dartmouth--Cole Harbour. I might add that this is one of the strongest caucuses we have in the Liberal Party.

If I go back to the whole area where we as a federal government got involved in research, which was probably in 1998 and 1999. At that time the cumulative money that we put in that year was $165 million. This year we are putting in a total of $2.085 billion or a total from 1998-99 of $9.97 billion. This is an incredible investment. I think members have seen from the budget and from our economic performance that it reflects the reality that innovation has been driving the economy in Canada.

When I compare the realities of what happened prior to the Liberal government assuming office and now and when we look at those figures, it clearly is good news. The national debt left to us by the previous Conservative government amounted to $562 billion before we were able to turn it around by balancing the budget.

This year we will for the first time be under $500 billion on the national debt. This is important. When we had a huge debt, as we had back then, 37.6% of every dollar went to finance that debt. The debt financing charges even today are too high. They are 19%. We are working on bringing them down and because we have done that, we are able to invest in programs for people in our communities across Canada.

The unemployment rate before we assumed office was 11.2%. At the present time nationally it is below 7%. I might add that Kitchener-Waterloo recorded the lowest unemployment rate in the last census. We were in the 5.4% category. All of this is very important. The best social program we can have in the country is to ensure that those people who want to work are able to find jobs and find meaningful employment.

Another issue I want to touch on in the budget relates to immigration. I commend the government for putting in an extra $298 million for settlement services, as well as $100 million over five years to target investment in the department. Also, $75 million has been put in to ensure that internationally trained health workers have an opportunity to become engaged in a sector where we really have a manpower shortage, and I commend the government for that. I look forward in future budgets to have the refugee appeal division as a budget line item in the budget so we can put the refugee appeal division in place.

As we look to the future, Canada is one of the leading economies in terms of having a budgetary surplus, paying down debt, being able to invest in programs and reducing the amount of money spent on interest payments. Ultimately it is our investment in people, our investment in our young people, our post-secondary institutions and our investment in research and development that will ensure we have an innovative economy that can provide the kind of standard of living that Canadians have come to expect.

The BudgetGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

Gary Goodyear Conservative Cambridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate the member opposite on the work he has done in the immigration area. It is nothing less than astounding.

One thing I would like to point out to the member and ask him about is this. Conestoga College, which he mentioned, is in his riding. I want to let the House know that the college competes with private educators because of unfair holes left in the programs by the member's very own party. Also, the member failed to mention that the University of Waterloo also has an astounding kinesiology, psychology and a general sciences program.

The member also has failed to mention that his government has increased its own spending by 77%.

The member mentioned money for health care. It has been seven months since that promise was made. Recently, near the member's riding and my riding of Cambridge, a beautiful young woman died because she could not wait nine hours to get health care.

Finally, his government and this budget offers 50¢ per Canadian for an accreditation process of which we have never heard.

First, what is the accreditation process that the budget offers to accelerate? Second, does the member really feel that 50¢ toward speeding up the accreditation process, which apparently exists, is all the government feels the lives and health of his constituents are worth?

The BudgetGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

Liberal

Andrew Telegdi Liberal Kitchener—Waterloo, ON

Mr. Speaker, yes, I am quite aware of the kinesiology program at the University of Waterloo. There are many other programs that I was unable to mention such as psychology, from which I graduated at the University of Waterloo while undertaking courses in history and political science. I agree with him that clearly this is one of the top universities.

Look back 10 years at all the traditional industries that closed down in our region such as Van Dresser, Seagram and Labatt. All sorts of industries related to knitting also closed down in other places in Cambridge and Kitchener. He knows well that we now have one of the fastest growing and most prosperous economies. This is because our labour force is highly educated and we have a great deal of innovation.

Companies have started up in our region, many of them high tech companies. No one even dreamt of them being in existence 15 years ago. The member well knows that this is one community that proves to all other places across the country that investing in education and innovation makes a huge difference.

The member mentioned some unfortunate situations that happened at the hospital. The government has put in billions of dollars to try to secure the health care for people in the Waterloo region as well as all Canadians. One important thing has to happen in health care, and that is we have to rationalize services. The member, as a health care provider, knows the importance of that, particularly when he practised as a chiropractor. He knows we have to have a whole range of services available in health care to the Canadian public.

The BudgetGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

Conservative

Jim Prentice Conservative Calgary North Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, in the limited time available to me, how can the hon. member possibly defend the budget and the absence of any tax cuts for regular Canadians? It is correct that we have made progress in Canada in the reduction of debt, but this has been done at the expense of taxpayers. The budget does absolutely nothing for taxpayers of Canada.

Tax freedom day in the country is on July 1. By comparison, in the United States it is April 30. How could the member possibly defend this budget in relation to tax cuts for everyday Canadians?

The BudgetGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

Liberal

Andrew Telegdi Liberal Kitchener—Waterloo, ON

Mr. Speaker, first, the government has instituted and just finished off a $100 billion over five years tax cut, which is the biggest tax cut in the history of the country. We are also raising the personal exemptions to $10,000.

There is one area that very much benefits every Canadian. All we have to do is look at the interest rates paid on borrowed money today. Many people take out mortgages for their houses. They are at a record low. They were at a record high when we took over from the Conservative Party.

The BudgetGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

NDP

Tony Martin NDP Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate speaking to the federal budget on behalf of the constituents of my riding of Sault Ste. Marie. I am also happy to be sharing my time with my colleague for Windsor West.

Budgets first and last should be about people. The test of any budget is what it does for every Canadian in every walk of life. Budgets are not only a statement on the economy. They also are intended as a statement of vision, where we want to go as Canadians.

Frankly, this budget vision becomes a nightmare for too many Canadians. The people in my riding of Sault Ste. Marie heard the Prime Minister warn them during the election about the Leader of the Opposition and his party's politics and how they needed to vote Liberal for a progressive agenda and stop the Conservatives, but the budget delivered Conservative priorities.

Promises made; promises kept. The refrain of the Liberals last week is more like promises made; promises delayed. So much of the spending on urgent issues such as cities, child care and the environment are back loaded to the end of the five year funding cycle. Farmers and students get nothing in the budget.

Anything progressive that the government has promised and is delivering on, after not doing so for three consecutive majority governments, is due to this minority Parliament and especially the work of our party.

For two decades federal budgets have forced working Canadians to make sacrifices to eliminate the country's deficit through stagnant wages, cuts to health care and other social programs, and through insecure pensions. We have to move away from rewarding wealth and back to rewarding work in the country. It is time to reward hard-working Canadians for the years of sacrifice they have made.

Instead the government delivered a budget of which the Conservatives are proud. The Liberals delivered $4.9 billion in corporate tax cuts. The Liberals have put $28 billion away in the consolidated revenue fund, and the Liberals have built up a $46 billion surplus in employment insurance.

People in my riding have shared their disappointment. Progressive voters wanted relief from tuition fees. The Liberal-Conservative budget delivered nothing.

On housing, progressive voters wanted to restart a 20 year national housing program to build 200,000 affordable and co-op housing units, a commitment to renovate 100,000 existing units and to provide rent supplements to 40,000 low income tenants. The Liberal-Conservative budget delivered nothing.

As the social policy critic for my party, I cannot begin to tell the House how disappointed I am and how disappointed many advocates are in the lack of a comprehensive vision and social policy.

As important surpluses are predicted by the government for at least the next five years, the budget could have been the one which really began to chart a brave new course to making poverty history. Some of that $28 billion rainy day fund could have been allocated more productively to increase social investments.

No new money is added to the child tax benefit, which is far below the $4,900 per year per child which is needed to help many poor families escape poverty. The scandalous clawback of the child tax benefit supplement continues.

No new improvements are made to employment insurance, in spite of major recent recommendations by a parliamentary committee to do that.

On child care, over the next year $700 million of the funding will go to the provinces without any need for accountability as to how they spend this money. What kind of deal can the federal government sign with the provinces in the next month which can ensure the real application of the QUAD principles to the building of a quality national system?

On FedNor, I am disappointed with the place of northern Ontario within FedNor and FedNor's place within government. FedNor is the regional development agency that was created, initially, exclusively for northern Ontario. I have nothing but praise for FedNor, its staff and the projects in northern Ontario that do a lot of good. However over the years its budget has been reduced. What was truly FedNor, an economic development agency for northern Ontario, has now become in fact “FedOntario”.

The minister from northern Ontario has been upset with our party's criticism questioning the government's claim that the FedNor budget has increased 250%. We have yet to see that claim backed up.

The northern Ontario development fund gets reduced from $36 million according to the supplements in 2004-05 to $9 million for the next fiscal year. The community futures partnership program that funds rural development corporations in southern and northern Ontario has its spending estimates reduced from $20 million to $10 million in 2005-06

New Democrats in northern Ontario are fighting for the north and I am fighting for Sault Ste. Marie. My party is not here just to be in opposition. Our platform in the recent election laid out a different social democratic vision for all Canadians. Our commitment to a balanced budget is the record of the NDP governments in Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

This minority Parliament budget beats the past majority budgets of the government but Canadians deserve much better. We will never tire of fighting for working Canadians to get their fair share. All Canadians should matter. The Soo has to matter to the government.

The BudgetGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

Jim Prentice Conservative Calgary North Centre, AB

Madam Speaker, my hon. friend comes from a particularly beautiful part of the country. He speaks of everyday working Canadians. I speak of everyday Canadians.

I wonder if he would be prepared to join cause with us, at least this far, in terms of tax cuts. What is clear is that in Canada today, productivity, although increasing, runs into the fact that tax cuts have stalled, real disposable income is slipping and the overall tax burden on Canadians has been increasing.

Canadians make about 78% of what Americans do on a pre-tax basis and only about 70% of what Americans make on a post-tax basis. Even though our economic output rose by 25% between 1989 and 2004, our after tax income has increased by only 9.3%.

The budget is scandalous in the sense that the Liberals in the last election committed to an expenditure program of $28.3 billion. The spending promises contained in the budget over five years are $75.7 billion, three times what they said they would do in the election. This is classic tax and spend liberalism.

The lost opportunity is that if we had kept our spending in this nation since the year 2000 to annual increases of approximately 3%, today we could justify a tax cut for Canadians of close to $30 billion, almost a 20% to 25% tax cut. Instead, we have a profligate government that is spending more and more money on bureaucrats and on social services and not helping everyday Canadians.

Would my friend be prepared to join cause with us in saying that the budget does not help everyday Canadians with tax relief?

The BudgetGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

NDP

Tony Martin NDP Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Madam Speaker, I could not disagree more, practically or fundamentally, than I will with the member and with the Conservative Party on that front.

The reason we are in deficit in housing, in health care, with farmers and with students is because of the tax cuts laid on the people by the federal Liberal government and the Conservative government in Ontario, for example, a place where I served for a number of years. We do not have the money to help our farmers through probably the most difficult challenge that they face because we have given the money away.

For the member to suggest more corporate tax cuts when banks are making historically record high profits, when corporations, quarter after quarter, are announcing historically record high profits, and to continue to come here and say that they need more relief, excuse me, but I do not accept that nor do I go along with that.

The people in my community are struggling with an economy in northern Ontario that has been sputtering for about 10 years and it needs huge investment, such as the one the government made into the auto strategy or the one it made toward expanding the casino in Windsor. We want to see those kinds of investments in northern Ontario. We need that kind of money, not the piddly amounts that have been announced here by way of FedNor in the budget. The estimates show that in fact that fund has gone down significantly.

If we think for a second that will jumpstart the economy of northern Ontario and those parts of the country that need that kind of infusion to actually get people back to work and making money, then we are sadly mistaken.

We, as New Democrats, are committed to the kinds of things that create a level playing field for everybody. We would go a long distance to reducing the gap that is growing between the rich and the poor. Canada now has two societies. The hon. member has not seen the record of commitment, work and effort that New Democrat governments have put forth in province after province as we have balance budgets and have found money to invest in health care, education, social programs and infrastructure across the country.

What we need in the budget is a commitment to invest in those programs and services that we know will create a level playing field for all our citizens, including the citizens of Windsor, Sault Ste. Marie and northern Ontario.

The BudgetGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Hon. Jean Augustine)

It being 5:15 p.m., it is my duty to interrupt the proceedings and put forthwith every question necessary to dispose of the Ways and Means Motion No. 3.

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?