Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I retract that and appreciate that correction.
I do want to talk about what the budget is going to do to the manufacturing sector. We have seen a record number of job losses over the last number of years. It is not a current crisis that has emerged over the last year. This has been several years in the making where we basically witnessed a strategy of saying that reducing tax cuts would actually lead to economic development, and growth and prosperity in the manufacturing sector.
That is not the case because we witnessed the decline of that industry because of a whole series of issues related to trade and tariff and non-tariff barriers, as well as unfair competition. It is also reflected in the changing technologies where we have not been supportive and where other countries have done that to ensure they take advantage of it.
What has happened is that we have eroded ourselves. For example, in the automotive sector, we were actually number four in the world in terms of producing and assembling automotive vehicles. Now we are actually down to tenth. The slide will continue as the government continues to negotiate a Korea trade deal which will be at the expense of the automotive industry.
I want to pay particular attention to a couple of aspects of the budget affecting the automotive industry which are very important. The first is the feebate program which we were happy to see cancelled. This eco-feebate program, for those who are not familiar with it, literally saw millions of dollars of Canadians' money wasted, some of it actually going to those who produced automotive vehicles in Japan, Korea and other countries abroad. This program cost $116 million over two years. We were glad to see this program gutted at the end of the day and cancelled, but I was very disappointed with the Minister of Finance who did not rollover those funds into a specific automotive strategy.
What the Conservatives have done instead is kept the component which has the tax on vehicles which will go to many Canadian manufacturers and that is roughly estimated at $50 million a year. They cut $116 million out of automotive, kept in an extra tax, and now have introduced and maintained a current tax on automotive, and from tax rolled out another $250 million program over five years. It is a $50 million program over five years. That is just coming from the tax, so they have really gutted the automotive component and support.
This is at a time when even parts manufacturers were looking at some type of an investment strategy. We have seen a lost opportunity with the automotive sector and we are going to completely witness its demise if we do not come out with a practical strategy. The strategy has to come with an investment arm and I would argue it has to be more complicated than what the province of Ontario is suggesting. It has to have greater accountability when it comes to job creation, components to technology as well as accountability.
I would also argue that the federal government is wrong by not having that actual strategy compared, evaluated and supported by a trade strategy. That is very important because the Minister of International Trade is pursuing a deal with South Korea. This is ironically the star candidate from the Liberals who crossed the floor in the House of Commons just after losing out in a general election but winning his seat back.
This deal has been condemned unilaterally, just basically across the board by many groups and organizations including the auto industry because there are several factors not taking place in terms of the consideration of how we actually ship vehicles to Korea. We have only a few hundred vehicles that get there, but the Koreans get hundreds of thousands that can be put into the Canadian market. That is not fair. We have to have some sense of balance. With that we are expecting to see some type of change.
Regarding the budget there was no understanding or appreciation with regard to the tool and die, mould making and parts sector. We have seen that the capital cost reduction allowance is going to be diminished by the government over the next three years. We fought hard on this issue at the industry committee. We actually committed to work together and created a report with over 20 different recommendations, many of which were shelved. However, one of the ones we were pleased about was the capital cost reduction allowance.
The government only came in with terms of a two-year program, but it was not sufficient because many decisions had already been made about investment at that point in time. What we want is the third, the fourth and the fifth year. So we went for two years which is only a small window but it was helpful to some degree. We were appreciative of that.
There were actual projects that got underway that are very helpful. But the fact of the matter is that the Conservatives are now phasing out this strategy, so what we will see is a devolution of this as an opportunity to invest back into Canada.
I do not care what the personalities are, but I am sick and tired of listening to the battle going on between the province of Ontario and the federal government. It seems to be a war of personalities more than actually working to create an opportunity for economic development.
That apparently goes back 10 years, but it does not matter, because the fact of the matter is that we need an automotive strategy. For many years, we in the NDP have been proposing that through a green transportation strategy. We would like to see movement on that. The budget does not do it. Instead, we see a complete erosion of the fiscal capacity of Canada, to the point that when we have to respond next time, it is going to be more challenging.
Hence, one of the key elements that we see as taking advantage of people and as egregious is the fact that the government is changing the employment insurance system to basically rob workers and employers of all the money in contributions they have put in over the years. From the previous administration, and going back several years, we know that the fund is up around $57 billion in terms of employment insurance. Now that system will be basically robbed and the government will be putting in a $2 billion program.
I am from a city that has been struggling with the recovery of manufacturing and trying to go forward, and I can tell members that retraining and opportunity are very important. With this employment insurance decision, when areas have greater losses of jobs and there will be a squeeze on the funds, I am willing to bet the number one thing that will happen is that we will see a reduction of workers' hours and a reduction of eligibility.
It will be just as it is now. Many people who pay into the system can never take advantage of it because they are working at part time jobs or they do not have enough consecutive weeks. We see it every day in my constituency. People do not meet the qualifications any more because the bar has been set far higher than the hours they can work or achieve in the current market. That is wrong, because people need an opportunity to be retrained and they need to have faith and hope that supports will be there for them and their families.
As for what is happening right now, we only have to look at a few industries to see examples. A lot of people just assume that we should go high tech, that we should do the high end of things and make sure that we will be the best in the world. I can tell members that this is happening right now in our tool and die and mould-making sector. Windsor and Essex County are the best in the world, there is no doubt about it, but they are significantly challenged because of the lack of automotive decision making and the procurement decisions that have happened, as well as being blocked from other markets, intellectual property theft, and a whole series of things.
All we have to do is tour some of these plants and we literally will see that work that used to be done in this area, which was the best in the world, is now sent overseas to China and to other places, and sometimes it has to be sent back to be fixed at our own plants here.
However, here is what that has done. It has meant layoffs for workers in our community, workers who have good skills and abilities unmatched across the world. Some people think we can just lower the wages by a couple of dollars, but that will not make a difference at all. We could lower it to $10 an hour on a job. If we do not have access to the market, it will not make a difference.
That is just like the corporate tax cuts we see right now. As tool and die and mould-making companies are struggling to get buy, a reduction in taxes does not help them. They need targeted, specific, developed plans. One plan, for example, needs to deal with some of their funding. When they make arrangements with the auto sector, they do not get paid for a year or a year and a half for their actual projects, so they have a problem getting access to capital from banks and large loan centres, or they have to pay extra interest, which becomes an inefficiency.
We need the federal government and the province to work together on a strategy that eliminates this type of non-cooperation with regard to the fiscal arrangements and also to make sure that there are going to be supports there, so that when workers are the best in the world and are actually trained, they will have access to the markets that are being penetrated over here.
I have to say that I cannot support the budget. There is a whole series of reasons behind that. It is not just the economic sector and the manufacturing sector, but I want to be very clear about what will happen if we do not seize the opportunity. Despite the fact that we have a lot of unemployment and despite the fact that a lot of change is happening, if there is a real interest in being involved with this, there can be significant change.
Canadians have done their part. The people in my constituency of Windsor West have shown consistently that they are the best in the world in terms of producing and manufacturing automobiles and all the component parts. They win awards on a routine basis. I am very proud of their accomplishments.
However, they cannot do it alone. They need fair trading practices and a government which recognizes that other countries are doing these things at their expense. Even the countries next door, such as the United States, for example, have several favourable clauses under our NAFTA agreement that protect their industries at the expense of Canadians.
We cannot pretend that this is going to go away. We have to deal with it. This budget does not do that.