Mr. Speaker, the success of a nation is judged by how we treat our children. The success of a budget is really dependent on whether we invest in children.
The hon. members opposite talked about scandals. Let me tell them that it is scandalous when we have a country as rich as Canada and we have 1.2 million children living in poverty at a time when we have a surplus of almost $20 billion. We have children living in Canada who are going to bed hungry. That is a true scandal.
It is scandalous that we have parties here that are willing to support the budget. I understand why the Conservative government would support its own budget, but I do not understand why any other party in the House would support this kind of scandalous behaviour in a budget that treats our children in such a way.
It is a deliberate choice when we have a surplus but we do not invest in child care. It is a deliberate choice when we do not invest in affordable housing. It is a deliberate choice when we do not put more money into the child tax benefit so families will get more money and parents will not have to worry about having to pay the rent or feed their kids.
Today is child care appreciation day. The people who take care of our children earn very low incomes. They spend all day making sure that our kids are raised in a way that is healthy and productive. While we appreciate them, these workers are underpaid because we do not invest in child care.
This is a time when the government actually subsidizes the oil and gas industry to the tune of $1.5 billion. How could the government make such a choice? It is scandalous. Those dollars, whether it is $1.5 billion or the $20 billion surplus, really should be used to train young people so they can learn a skill, so that they will have employment, so that they could retrofit homes. By retrofitting homes and making them green, Canadians would save on their energy bills. By making them green, Canadians would have renovated houses and we would actually get less greenhouse gas pollution.
Because we have money, we can also increase the guaranteed income supplement so that the poorest seniors can live in dignity. The guaranteed income supplement, which supplements pensions and old age security, had not been increased for at least 12 years until last year, when there was a very small increase.
Unfortunately, a lot of seniors are isolated in their homes. They do not have the money to buy a transit pass to visit their friends or go to the library. I know that some of them do not even have enough money to pay the electricity bill because it is so expensive. These seniors live in our midst when Canada is awash with money, yet we subsidize and have more corporate tax cuts.
A few minutes ago I stood outside Parliament Hill, joining many refugees who are suffering in this country. Many poor and cold young children and their families were outside. These refugees have escaped persecution and seek refuge here. Many of these women have faced persecution and, in many cases, domestic violence.
They are all refugees. They have a heavy burden. They are poor. They have no resources. They are seeking the opportunity for a better life in Canada, yet they face the ultimate indignity. They are punished and penalized with refugee fees. That is a terrible burden. I believe the Liberals introduced these fees with the excuse that they were trying to balance the budget. It was a lame excuse for a terrible burden which amounts to a modern-day head tax.
Now the Conservatives are blindly continuing that with these fees. These fees are causing great suffering. They are causing despair because some families just cannot afford to pay them. The fees are driving some of the families underground. They are driving them to hunger. They are keeping people from making a contribution and building better lives. Really, these fees are a head tax, a tax on the most vulnerable and on those who cannot afford to pay them.
The government has a pattern of giving the most to those who need the least. It also has a habit of giving the least to those who need the most. We have seen it as--