Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to take part in this debate today on the budget which is to be adopted, or not, this Thursday. Truly, the future of the government is at stake with this motion.
I have been in politics pretty close to 30 years. In 1975 I was about to become the MNA for Champlain, and since then I have worked with a number of premiers and Prime Ministers, both in Quebec City and here on the Hill. Despite all those years in politics, this is the first time I have seen discussions on a budget that, in my opinion, is not a budget at all.
We, both the party in power and the opposition, held rounds of consultations to find out what people hoped to see in the budget presented to us. I know we consulted numerous people before making our suggestions to the government on the budget as we wanted to see it.
This is one of the first times in my career that I have seen a budget spread over five years. We do not have any clear idea of what amounts are going to be committed. We know, for example, that promises have been made for the next two, three or four years, and the public is being led to think that this money is going to be spent right away. Take the business of seniors for instance.
There is talk of increasing the guaranteed income supplement, of billions of dollars to be invested in this program, but they neglect to say that this amount is over the next five years. It will start in 2006, and the supplement will gradually increase. By the end of the next five years, if they keep their word—which, as far as this government is concerned, is not a sure thing—people will have recovered some $2 billion in guaranteed income supplement. They also neglect to mention the fact that some people have been deprived of the GIS for the past 12 years. That amount is twice what they will get back over the next 5. Knowing that makes all the difference.
The government calls itself a good administrator. It is relatively easy to manage things the way they do. Take money out and 15 years later, return less than the full amount. They come across as generous, but they are not. The guaranteed income supplement will be increased in the coming years, but it is the seniors—many of whom, unfortunately, will no longer be here—who will have paid for it.
We see this is many areas. For example—this may be a pre-election period; we will know for sure on Thursday—in exchange for its vote, the NDP demanded a number of things. Among other things, it demanded $1 billion for social housing.
Nonetheless, this government acts with forethought. It has done nothing for social housing. In my riding, there are people suffering because of a desperate shortage in housing. In Wemotaci, there is 15-member family living in a single, unsanitary, barely livable house. The government has not done what it should have, if it had any respect for these people. It has not built social housing.
The NDP says it is pleased to have succeeded in obtaining an increase. However, it should be noted that CMHC has a $3.7 billion surplus for social housing. This amount could have been spent. Adding a billion dollars for social housing will not change much if there is no intention of spending it.
I think the NDP could have required the government to draft a quick policy to spend the money already accumulated for social housing.
It would have made more sense, in my view, to say that we will build housing for Aboriginals over the next year and at affordable prices for the people who need it.
I was one of those who consulted people, along with our colleague here. He went around Quebec, while I went around my riding. It is unbelievable to see the needs we have on all sides. There is talk about a budget increase, but there is no information about how the money will be spent and whether there will be surpluses at CMHC. I can tell you that an increase does not result in much and does not meet the needs of the people who are waiting impatiently for suitable housing.
The member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot and the member for Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier went around the various municipalities to see what people thought about the fiscal imbalance. People in Quebec are unanimous that the fiscal imbalance is nonsensical. We absolutely have to get back to common sense. We have to ensure that the money stops going to federal coffers when the needs are in the provinces.
Everyone rails against the fiscal imbalance: the Liberal party in Quebec City, the Parti Québécois in Quebec City, and all the political parties. In the provinces, everyone involved in finance decries the fiscal imbalance. The only one who fails to acknowledge it is the party currently in power, the minority Liberal party.
And yet this fiscal imbalance is extremely serious because, in a few years, the provinces will be unable to cope any more with their health problems and education problems. They are already having tremendous difficulty, but no one in the government thought about fixing the fiscal imbalance problem, and they do not even acknowledge it. They are the only ones who fail to see it. They give this situation all sorts of names, anything to ensure that they do not have to adjust the funding for the provinces and the federal government.
We consulted like never before and there was unanimity. But they do not want to recognize the situation, which results in the incredible overlap that we have now. People are talking about it. I do not know how many speeches I have heard here about the fiscal imbalance, but it does not seem obvious to the people opposite, they do not want to recognize it.
Some provinces, as I mentioned, are hurting from the lack of funding. Their needs are enormous. The federal government is wasting money and does not want to acknowledge the needs of the provinces—and this is true in all sectors.
I think that this is a good time to talk about wasting money with the Liberal government, in fact, anytime is a good time for that. We need only follow the Gomery commission inquiry into the sponsorship scandal, and every day the revelations get bigger and more unbelievable.
When taxpayers' money is being wasted and wonderful programs have to be cut, we must realize that, of all the taxpayers, the poor are paying the highest price.
I want to tell the House a story. In an Amerindian community north of La Tuque, Wemotaci, alcohol and drugs are a problem, not just for the residents, but for first nations in general. Anyone who wants to can check into a treatment facility. When they check out, they are supposed to be sent to a rehab centre, because if they go back to the reserve, they will immediately see the person supplying the drugs or alcohol and it starts all over again. They went to rehab for nothing.
We want our own homes. We are prepared to build in La Tuque, but we do not have $20,000. No one will give us the money. When I look at the sponsorship scandal, I can tell you that many Liberal organizers had that $20,000 in their pockets. It should be used to help people, but this is not going to happen because this money was wasted.
I could talk so much more about this, but the time allotted me is running out. Every time a problem arises in my riding and my constituents come to see me, I have to tell them I can do nothing for them.
If I had leave, I would like to continue my speech. I have a few facts to relate. I therefore request leave of the House to continue my speech.