Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak on the budget and what it means for us as Canadians and the residents of Simcoe—Grey.
I would like to begin by saying that the Conservative Party of Canada does not believe the Canadian public wishes to go to an election, at a cost of close to $300 million, less than 12 months after the last one. Therefore, we will not defeat the government at this time.
It is interesting to note that positive items in the budget are taken from the Conservative platform and the government is following the Conservative Party's lead on areas that are important to Canadians. Such areas include: tax relief for low and middle income Canadians, as per the Conservative amendment to the throne speech; reduction of corporate taxes to help stimulate the economy, create jobs and raise government revenue, as per the Conservative platform; the caregiver tax credit, which again comes directly from our Conservative platform; and the removal of the CAIS cash deposit requirement, part of a Conservative supply day motion, supported by everyone except the Liberals.
I would like to add that our agricultural critic, the member for Haldimand—Norfolk, did an excellent job in identifying how the government could bring immediate support to our farmers, rather than the continued broken promises we see from the government that continues to ignore the brutal reality our farmers are facing on a daily basis.
Although the current government has taken some of the Conservative steps we have introduced, the Liberal budget does not go far enough or occur fast enough to have a substantial impact on the well-being of Canadians. As usual, we see a great deal of dithering. Most of the money is delayed until the decade, with no real plan. Lots of promises, with no intent to deliver. For example, the tax break I mentioned just a minute ago amounts to a savings of about $16 per person this year. What to do with all that cash?
The lack of immediate commitment in the budget illustrates the government is not taking warning signs that Canada's high priority programs could be put in jeopardy if comprehensive steps are not taken to grow the economy before the demographic crunch.
The facts with respect to the demographic crunch are very simple. In 2004 seniors, Canadians aged 65 or older, comprised about 13.1% of Canada's population. By 2030, this number will nearly double to about 25% of Canada's population.
The Conservative Party of Canada devised a standard of living strategy in a prebudget submission that if implemented, would have ensured that high priority social programs would be available to Canadians when they required them. These social programs include health care, agricultural support programs, national defence, environment, women's initiatives, affordable housing, infrastructure and senior's programs. Unfortunately, the Liberals did not adopt our policies.
The key components of the Conservative Party's standard of living strategy are: the encouragement of investment in Canada's productive capacity; a reduction of corporate, capital and payroll taxes; a streamlined regulatory environment; a more rapid reduction of the national debt; a reduction of federal spending to sustainable levels; the encouragement of education and training; and the promotion and stimulation of affordable housing development.
It is unfortunate that while the Liberals had a majority government, we saw nothing more than waste, mismanagement and scandal. I firmly believe the billions of tax dollars that were sent to Ottawa would have been better managed if they were left in the pockets of Canadians.
The facts are absolutely astounding. Did members know that Canadians have seen their real take-home pay increase by only 3.6% over the past 15 years? This amounts to a person earning $35,000 a year receiving an annual take-home pay increase of roughly $1.60 a week. However, since 1996-97, government revenue has soared by 40%.
A family of four in Canada has $24,000 less to spend per year than the same size family living in the United States. That amounts to $2,000 a month that could be paying down a mortgage, providing for a child's education or for investing in retirement.
I remind members of the billions of tax dollars that were mismanaged by this Liberal government that should have been put back into Canadians' pockets. Some examples of the mismanaged funds include the long gun registry, $1 billion and counting, wasted on a program that has done absolutely nothing to make us more safe as we see and hear on the news every day. I support gun control and I support gun safety, but I do not support the long gun registry that only penalizes law-abiding Canadians.
With respect to the sponsorship scandal, $100 million was misspent. Canadians are truly embarrassed by their government's behaviour and what angers most of us is the arrogance dripping from the Liberals. For example, the former MP for Simcoe--Grey insisted that the $100 million really was not much to be concerned about when we thought about how much the federal government was responsible for spending.
That $100 million would have made a world of difference in my riding to help with infrastructure costs and to support our farmers. The towns of Collingwood and New Tecumseth want and need recreation centres. Water and sewer systems and roads throughout the riding need upgrading. Residents of Simcoe--Grey would have liked to have seen a plan for infrastructure, but the budget failed to deliver the promise on infrastructure funding. Another promise made; another promise broken.
That $100 million is not a drop in the bucket. To top it off, we have seen an outstanding increase in bureaucracy. The cost of bureaucracy has increased by 77% since 1996-97, yet Canadians are not getting better customer service. Canadians are still forced to wait in long lines to fill out incomprehensible forms and to speak with numerous representatives before they get to the right person, if at all.
I believe that when programs fail to deliver promised value for money, it is cruel to those who depend on them and unfair to taxpayers who fund them. Canadians work hard to contribute their taxes for government services. Canadians do not mind paying taxes. We are a very caring people and happily accept our responsibilities to care for each other with pride, but Canadians do mind being overtaxed and underserviced, and clearly they are. The waste and mismanagement must come to an end. It is about time Canadians received value for their hard earned tax dollars.
I would like to tell the House what Canadians should have seen in the budget.
Canadians would have liked to have seen a plan for our aging population, not just a few measly dollars thrown their way. A large group of seniors are living on such low levels of income that it is embarrassing for the government because it has done nothing about it. I consider it a human rights violation that such a large number of our seniors, who have given so much to our country, wonder how they will make ends meet. While we do welcome the promised increase in GIS, it is too little too late and it will take too long to get to our seniors. This is an empty promise.
To qualify for GIS, a senior needs to be making less than $13,000 a year. The fact that so many of our seniors have an income of only $13,000 is outrageous. Out of all those seniors receiving GIS, only 10% will qualify for the full increase about which the Liberals keep bragging. The remaining 90% will only see a portion of the increase. Ontario has GAINS. When GIS is increased by $1, GAINS is decreased by 50¢.
What I find most disturbing is that seniors will have to wait until January 2006 to receive the first half of the increase. They have to wait until January 2007 before they become eligible for all of it. The government brags about the $35 a month when in reality we know that is not the case.
I asked the minister if the government had consulted with the provinces about a possible GAINS clawback prior to delivering the budget to ensure that seniors actually saw the promised dollars. I did not get a sufficient answer.
Our seniors cannot afford to wait. The government should forward the money immediately and it should have assured us that provinces, like Ontario, would not claw back any of the additional funds.
My riding of Simcoe--Grey had what once was the largest training base in Canada. How it has deteriorated over the past decade. My home town of Angus, which is immediately beside Base Borden, and the entire riding were very proud that we had such a strong base. Now we find it embarrassing.
Residents of Simcoe--Grey want to know what an increase will mean for their community.
After having some time to review the budget, we have discovered that it really is not true. The government has bragged about the increased funding to the military of $12.8 billion, but the reality is it will only be $1.1 billion. This is not a good budget for the military. It is all about preparing the Liberals for the next election. Of this $12.8 billion, $5.8 billion is recycled money. Of the remaining $7 billion, approximately $5.9 billion is shown in the third, fourth and fifth years. This will never happen. We already know what the Liberals' track record is on our military spending, and they are asking us to trust them. Quite frankly, residents of Simcoe--Grey are having a hard time doing that.