Mr. Speaker, each time the Conservative Party chanted “more, more, more” during the unveiling of the Conservative budget, we watched the fabric of our great nation unravel. Under Conservative leadership, Canada is moving from a “we” nation to a “me” nation. Instead of investing in the lives of Canadian children, students, families, businesses and seniors, the Conservative government offers small cash allowances and tax breaks and says, “Do it yourself”.
The Conservative budget has failed Canadians on child care, climate change and environmental initiatives, research and development, health care and wait times, tax relief for low and middle income families, and fiscal responsibility of the government to all Canadians.
The federal government's role and responsibility is to manage the country's affairs and to design economic and social policies for the betterment of Canadians now and in the future. Budget 2006, however, is a shameful masquerade of political opportunism that is designed for short term political gain to the long term detriment of the country.
This budget exploits the most vulnerable Canadians by raising the lowest income tax rate and then attempts to buy votes with a 1% reduction in the GST. It is absolutely ridiculous that the government intends to make up lost revenues by increasing the taxes of those who are most in need.
Do members want more poor Conservative planning? The Conservative government has cancelled the early learning and child care agreements with the provinces and replaced them with a taxable monthly allowance. Shame.
The national child care strategy was designed to ensure that all Canadian children were given the same opportunity to succeed in life. This is the type of national strategy that Canadians want, not a nearsighted political tactic designed to buy votes.
The Conservative child care scheme offers families under $3 per day. This is not a solution to the increasing need for affordable child care spaces or the need for a national early childhood education strategy.
As if $20 a week for child care is not bad enough, low income parents will be losing the young child supplement of the Canada child tax benefit. The Conservatives are cutting $1 billion from the CCTB, which was supposed to reach $10 billion next year.
Through the early learning and child care agreements, the previous Liberal government designed and implemented a solution to these growing concerns. It is incredibly sad that instead of using a good policy and dealing with the real issues of child care in Canada, the Conservative government has opted for a band-aid solution and political engineering.
Do members want more poor Conservative planning? The budget fails to address the issue of climate change. The government has eliminated climate change programs and has cancelled Canada's commitment to the Kyoto accord. Shame.
Its transit tax credit is costly and ineffective. It will cost almost $400 million over two years and increase transit use by only 5%. This translates to a cost of $2,000 for each tonne of carbon dioxide saved, which is 10 to 100 times the cost per tonne under our project green plan.
The Liberal Party of Canada believes in investing in the environment and climate change programs, not the elimination of 15 made in Canada climate change programs.
Do members want to hear about more poor Conservative planning? The budget fails to make any significant investments in education and innovation.
Budget 2006 has cancelled more than $3 billion worth of funding on education over the next five years, all of which would have gone directly to improve access to post-secondary education. Shame.
Additionally, the Conservative government has cancelled more than $2 billion in funding over five years to increase support for granting councils, research programs and internships.
The Liberal government had a concrete vision that would have helped put us at the forefront of competitiveness and innovation. This lacklustre and visionless budget contains virtually nothing in this regard.
The Liberal government believed strongly in positioning Canada as a leader in the world by investing in innovation and research, education and increasing Canada's productivity.
For example, for university research, our last fiscal update provided $2.5 billion. The Conservative budget provides $200 million, less than one-tenth of our commitments. For student aid, our plan would have provided up to $6,000 per student for tuition over a four year program. The Conservative plan provides only $80 for textbooks.
The bottom line is that budget 2006 and the Conservative government are simply not committed to a long term investment strategy in education, innovation, research and competitiveness.
Do members want to hear about more poor Conservative planning? The budget fails to address the real needs of seniors.
The Conservative budget continues its policy of buying votes and not dealing with the issues that greatly affect Canadians. The Conservative plan offers a mere $155 per eligible pensioner. There are no measures to allow for RSP income splitting between spouses, income securities or investment in long term care facilities.
By 2021 seniors will form 18% of Canada's population and we need responsive policies, programs and services to support this growing segment of our population. The Liberal government earmarked $1 billion for a national caregiver strategy and a comprehensive national home and community care program.
The simple fact is that the Conservative budget does little to help Canada's seniors, especially those living near or just above the poverty line.
Canada needs a government that plans for a better future. The Conservative government has shown a constant theme through its budget and governance: buy votes, avoid tough issues, and when the press is negative, silence them.
Canada needs a government that will look to the future and tackle tough issues, not one that governs for its own future political gain.