Mr. Speaker, I would have liked to put my question to the hon. minister who spoke immediately before my colleague. However, I will put it to the member who just spoke.
The minister was telling us earlier that the federal government spends $51.6 a year on pension and old age security programs. It seems to me that the government is doing very well out of this.
The hours of volunteer work done by seniors in a year are worth $60 billion. They do volunteer work so that the provincial governments are able to make ends meet. Because of the transfer cutbacks, governments no longer have the resources to pay for the helpers who are needed in hospitals, child care centres, everywhere that people are needed. That includes community organizations that help poor people, the homeless and single mothers, and food banks.
To give $51.6 billion to people who have given their lives to the country does not impress me at all.
However, I would like someone to explain to me why we do not give more consideration to these seniors, when we know that the poverty line has been set at $17,000, and the guaranteed income supplement and old age pension amount to $12,900 a year. That is below the poverty line. Earlier, there was back-patting going on about how the exemption for seniors’ income had been doubled, to $2,000 a year, so that a million and some hundred thousand seniors would no longer pay income tax. The reason they no longer have to pay tax is that they are very poor.
How can anyone smile while saying such things? I would like the member to explain this to me.