Mr. Speaker, I rise today on behalf of the NDP caucus to serve notice that we will not support the budget implementation act, Bill C-28.
My time does not permit me to outline the many shortcomings of the budget but let me at least say that I am disappointed that we did not get an opportunity to manoeuvre or negotiate any benefits through the budget because five minutes after the budget was tabled in the House of Commons, the leader of the Bloc Québécois walked outside into the scrum area and told all and sundry that it sounded good to him and that he would take it.
All the Conservatives needed was a dance partner and they got their dance partner first off, which is when all negotiations stopped. Normally in a minority Parliament there are opportunities for the opposition parties to do a little bit of horse trading. We were denied that opportunity because one party cashed in all its chips before the bargaining even started.
I will simply preface my remarks by saying how disappointed I am as an opposition member of one of the opposition parties that this minority Parliament was not even allowed to function the way minority Parliaments are supposed to operate because of the self-interest and selfish action on the part of the Bloc Québécois.
Let me touch on two reasons why we are disappointed in the budget because time does not permit any more detail than that. I come from the riding of Winnipeg Centre that used to be represented by Stanley Knowles. Stanley Knowles has a reputation as one of the founders, the father perhaps, of the Canadian pension system. I can safely say that Stanley Knowles would be doing flip-flops in his grave today if he knew that after nine years of surplus budgets by two senior parties in the country, old age security paycheques for low income seniors are actually going down as a result of the budget.
It sounds shocking. Some would challenge me perhaps to the veracity of those facts. I had to do a lot of research to plough through our arcane and complicated tax system but here are the facts. In actual fact, seniors have walked into my office with their July OAS cheque and their September OAS cheque. It is $10 a month lower. The government actually lowered the basic personal exemption for OAS and GIS senior pensioners. In other words, pensioners are paying tax on $400 a year more than they were last year, which, at a rate of 15.25%, is $60 per year or $5 per month. However, because it is for this six months, it was doubled to average it out over the year. It is $10 a month for this six month period.
This only applies to seniors who, because they have such a low income and no other source of revenue, they qualify for the guaranteed income supplement. There is an offsetting pension credit in another category for private pension plans. However, if the person is one of those many low income seniors in my riding who are trying to survive on just his or her old age security and CPP, the person will get less this month than he or she did last month.
Maybe it is a byproduct or maybe it was an unforeseen consequence, I do not know. I am not accusing anybody of trying to starve low income seniors but that was the result and I cannot support it. I cannot do anything but condemn that result and consequence. The Conservatives should really rethink this. Surely, in a time of prosperity and record surpluses, we could do something for our low income seniors.
I talked with some anti-poverty groups and they said that the $10 a month probably represents four or even five days of a grocery budget for a low income senior. It is not quite one full week but what they have left over to spend for food, $10 a month is a significant drop. At the very least, it is a quality of life issue. It is one less thing that they will be able to do with their income.
That is one of the reasons I cannot support the budget. The other reason is perhaps what is not in the budget. I cannot understand for the life of me why in the first Conservative budget of a newly formed government, the Conservatives would not have done something to plug the outrageous tax loophole that allows Canadian companies to set up dummy companies offshore to avoid paying their taxes in Canada.