Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Surrey North.
First, I would like to thank the people of Acadie—Bathurst who elected me for the fourth time to represent them in this Parliament.
At the same time, this is my first official speech in the House of Commons in this Parliament. That does not mean I did not raise any questions. I want to thank the people of Acadie—Bathurst who gave me my fourth mandate to represent them in the House of Commons.
We will be talking about not what the federal government did, but rather what it did not do. It is unfortunate that in this budget it is offering a national child care program that requires the provincial governments to abandon the agreements signed with the federal government. NDP has worked very hard in this respect. My colleague from Sault Ste. Marie has done a lot of work on child care to focus more attention on the issue.
The government has decided to give Canadians $1,200, saying that they will then be able to do what they want with the money. Certainly we all like to do what we want with our money. On the other hand, we have to take the whole community, and the problems it directly experiences, into consideration. Today in many families both husband and wife have to work. Therefore, they need child care. We can congratulate the Government of Quebec for establishing child care centres charging $35 a week. The system there genuinely helps working people, far more than a $1,200 allowance to families that is taxable by the federal and provincial governments. At the end of the day, there is absolutely nothing left.
The budget provides for $7 billion in tax credits for big corporations. On the other hand, the poorest and most disadvantaged people will get a tax increase of 0.5%, when the rate goes up from 15% to 15.5%. The government has decided to cut taxes for the richest people and raise taxes for the poorest. This is totally unacceptable.
For education, the budget provides $1 billion to assist institutions and pay for administration, while students themselves will get no reduction in their debt.
We were proud that the previous government’s budget, Bill C-48, provided money to reduce students’ taxes. It provided for $1.5 billion to reduce student debt throughout Canada and Quebec. That budget also provided for $1.6 billion to assist in the construction of social housing units for people living on the street. It was a good budget. It also gave $900 million to municipalities and communities for infrastructure, $500 million to developing countries with high levels of poverty and $100 million for workers so that they could get appropriate training in order to keep their jobs in Canada.
The most regrettable aspect of this budget is its failure to provide even one cent for employment insurance. I would like to quote the very unfortunate comments of a few Bloc Québécois members. My dear friends in the Bloc Québécois surprised me. I recall the comments of the member for Chambly—Borduas last year with regard to Bill C-48:
Our friends in the NDP thump their chests and say they got $4.3 billion in the negotiations over the budget.
In fact it was $4.6 billion.
However, the Prime Minister said that only $1 billion of this is new money. When we do the math, it becomes clear that it was the unemployed who were sacrificed.
Today I am asking the NDP members who are going to vote to take a close look at that. Tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow, or the day after the vote, I would ask them to explain their decision to the unemployed—
I would ask the Bloc Québécois today to explain its decision to vote with the Conservative Party to the unemployed, when there is nothing in the budget. It does not, unlike the previous budget, provide a total of $4.6 billion, or $1.6 billion for affordable housing, or $1.5 billion to reduce student debt or $900 million for municipalities.
Quebec would have received $1 billion of this money, but the Bloc voted against Bill C-48.
I can understand the Bloc Québécois not wanting to vote with the Liberals, but at least it could have voted with the NDP. These were matters of importance to it, matters that brought it and us together, such as affordable housing and student debt. But it chose to vote against Bill C-48.
Let us remember what the member for Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean had to say. He came into the House and made a huge fuss, saying:
During the negotiations when the NDP sold its soul to the Liberal Party, we told the Prime Minister, “We will not support your budget if you do not give the unemployed their due”. The Bloc Québécois is saying today, “We cannot agree to support a government, a budget or any motion whatsoever that does not give the unemployed their due”.
Where in the budget do the Conservatives give the unemployed their due? Where are the best 12 weeks? Where are the 360 hours to qualify for EI? Where are the 28 recommendations of the parliamentary committee on changes to employment insurance? They are nowhere to be found.
The Bloc led us to believe that with the Conservatives there would be a pension for older workers. Nowhere in the budget is it said clearly that by a given date, older workers will receive a pension if they are laid off because of a plant closure. There is absolutely nothing except for a study. The situation was studied for 13 years by the Liberals. Now the Conservatives seem to want to the study the issue again.
I want to quote what the Bloc Québécois said in Le Quotidien on March 3, 2005:
[For the Bloc to support the 2005 federal budget] some serious work needs to be done in regards to the fiscal imbalance and the Kyoto protocol. In addition, we are demanding that the government apply the 28 recommendations made by the Human Resources Committee with employment insurance.
There is absolutely nothing about the 28 recommendations made by the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills Development, Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities.
As I was saying earlier, at the time the Bloc Québécois—and my colleague from Chambly—Borduas—said that we were bragging about being the saviours of the unemployed, but that we had sold our soul. I can tell you that we sold our soul for $4.6 billion for Canadians. We sold our soul for $1.6 billion for affordable housing; for $1.5 billion to give students a chance to decrease their debt; for $900 million to help municipalities and the regions with infrastructure; for $500 million to the poorest countries; for $100 million to help workers get training in order to find employment. Today, the Bloc Québécois is selling its soul for nothing. It is a shame because with a minority government we could have obtained changes to employment insurance.
With that I wish you a good day and I ask that the Bloc Québécois vote against the Conservative budget because it ignores workers. I am asking the Bloc to do some soul searching.