Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Beauséjour, and it will be a great delight to do so.
Before I start, I sometimes wonder if the Bloc Québécois has a death wish. Last June it voted against things that Quebeckers believe in intrinsically. They believe in foreign aid, assistance for university students, supporting aboriginal people and the environment. Yet the Bloc voted against Bill C-48.
Then just recently, the Bloc voted for a budget that once again ignored all those things that were detrimental to students, foreign aid to aboriginal people and the environment. It keeps going down in the polls.
Today the Bloc members are suggesting, and hopefully we can change their minds, that they are going to vote against helping students, literacy, which is needed in this modern world, the Kelowna accord and modern research. We know lots of research is being done in Quebec. How can it keep denying Quebeckers the things they want and then expect to go up in the polls?
I want to talk today about building a foundation for a nation. Any party that wants to be in government should build the foundation upon which a nation can grow in this world. If we compare that foundation to the foundation of a house, the cinder bricks under the ground are not that exciting or newsworthy, but they are absolutely essential to a good structure, a solid house and a great nation.
The Liberals put a number of foundations in their platforms over the years. I will go through some of those. Many are lacking at the moment in any vision of the nation and we will be imploring people to take into account the foundations that are so important to building a successful country in today's shifting world.
It is even more important today because the foundations in the world are shifting not only because of the permafrost melting through climate change, but because the knowledge base upon which all employment and learning is based is shifting so quickly.
The very first base is child care, early learning and development at the early stages. Many scientists say that is the most critical stage in a person's life. If the options have been removed to get the development necessary so they can go on to all other stages in life successfully, one of the bricks of the foundation is missing. If one brick is missing, as we know, the house will start to tilt and fall over. To take out the $10 billion that the Liberals put into that foundation of early learning so all children could get an equal chance and parents could have a choice in the development of their children is a critical mistake.
Supporting the environment is absolutely fundamental. There cannot be an economy if people cannot go to work because of smog. If their time is spent in hospitals and the hospital costs are so high that the government has to increase taxes, we are then not competitive and there are no jobs. The mass cancelling of the environmental programs, which happened almost by stealth by the letting them expire on March 31, is going to show in the long run damage to the economy and to the health of the nation. Hopefully that will be before the next election,
In the foundation of a house, no brick is more important than any other brick. Even the weakest bricks have to be strong. It is like a chain is only as strong as the weakest link. We have to help everyone wherever they are in the foundation. That includes aboriginal people. As people know, for years aboriginal people have been below the general population in many determinants such as deaths in child birth, levels of education, incarceration and health.
Governments over the years have constantly put large investments into both basic services, the ultimate solution of self-government in land claims and healing with the residential schools agreement, so that base will not be another weakness, a foundation block that will crumble, causing the house to crumble. These determinants have been going up over the years with these investments. They have been improving, but there is still a great disparity.
When a historic agreement is made between the Government of Canada and the first nations people, where everyone worked together, the premiers, the first nations leaders who came up with the solutions and identified the problems, and it is broken, it breaks the great faith of the nation of Canada. It would have been so easy to have kept this historic agreement. That is going to be a very dangerous weakness in the foundation blocks of this nation.
I also want to talk about the labour market partnership agreements. The educational system, the training, the apprentices, everything is far more important today. Probably more pressure is put on today's students than ever before because the knowledge base keeps changing. They need more and more. We need to have lifelong learning, workplace training and all kinds of skills. In particular in Canada, unlike some European nations, we need special emphasis on skills. While we are doing quite well in university training, although I will mention some assistance problems in that area, we are lacking tens of thousands of tradespeople. We need investment in that area so we can catch up with the workforce.
The answer is not just to bring people from somewhere else to fill these jobs. It is not like 100% of Canadians are already employed. The first solution is to ensure that Canadians are skilled and trained for these roles. For people with disabilities, we have made great advances over the years by providing money for these them to be trained to get into the workplace.
The biggest opportunities in our country are for young unemployed aboriginal people. The Liberals were putting in place a special program to train them so they could fill that huge gap in the workforce. It would have taken a burden off any other programs.
Also when new immigrants come to Canada, they are not always job ready. They need advancement in skills or at least a coordination of skills with existing skills and language. We certainly need investment in those areas.
We need lifelong learning. It is no longer like the old days where we learned a trade in high school or trade school and then we were set for the rest of our life. We need constant learning and upgrading and we need some of that training in the workplace.
For all these things, we had set aside $3.5 billion, a huge amount of money, to strengthen these skills, to get job readiness and to have successful workplace participation for first nations people, Métis, Inuit, aboriginal people and for older workers as well. We were working on a strategy for them. I know other parties agree that this is a very important dynamic.
For the indirect of costs of research, we need to keep up research in this knowledge based and changing world. We need to fund the increased costs of research, the three major granting councils, to keep our leading spot in the world. If we do not do this, we will fall behind. We need to accelerate commercialization, and we made great investments in that area.
We were going to invest $550 million in education for students so 55,000 more low income students could get into the system. For regular students, $6,000 would have gone toward their tuition. For low income students, $12,000 would have gone toward their tuition. As well, there was money for graduates, for students studying abroad and general improvements of the student funding systems.
In my last minute I will talk about the poor. Once again, for low income people, we have another potential weakness in the foundation of our house, a brick that could crumble and the whole house could fall. How are we going to strengthen a weakened block by increasing their income tax from 15% to 15.%, by lowering their personal deduction $200, by taking away the basic low income young child tax credit and by taking away the EnerGuide program that would help them improve their houses so they would not have to pay the huge energy bills?
I am hoping that members will support this motion. It demonstrates that there are building blocks and foundations of a nation that need to be supported for people at all levels, from the highest education to the poorest and the most vulnerable.