Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to the budget implementation act and, along with my colleagues, I intend to vote against this bill. It is very problematic.
The budget and the budget implementation act would basically strip away the government's fiscal capacity and place a rising burden on individual taxpayers.
We have seen corporate tax giveaways rising while the individual burden proportionately is increasing through this budget and it is destroying any semblance of balance between the taxes paid by large corporations, many of which are very profitable, and the taxes paid by ordinary Canadians.
We know that the kinds of across-the-board tax cuts that the government is bringing in continues the pattern, unfortunately, of previous governments, which is of giving back moneys to the most profitable companies. Who has been making the big profits in this country? Certainly the banks have been digging in with both hands and have been extremely profitable. The oil and gas companies have seen their profits skyrocket with the rising price of oil. They are doing extremely well and these corporate cuts just fuel their profits and support. It subsidizes a sector that, quite frankly, should not be getting subsidies.
What is the impact here? The impact is that the proportion of tax revenue coming from large corporations will go down by 12% but the percentage paid by individual Canadians, the average person who goes to work every day and pays taxes, their share will be increased by 14%. In other words, individual Canadians will be paying a greater share of creating the fiscal capacity that we have in this country to pay for the programs and services that we all want to enjoy.
This growing imbalance is increasingly squeezing the average person at a time when personal debt is at an all-time high. Salaries are flat. More and more people are working full time and still below the poverty line. Individual savings are at a real low point. Most people do not have savings for a rainy day.
To summarize, what we are seeing in this budget is that for every dollar that the government is spending in services, programs and infrastructure, it is spending $6 on corporate tax cuts. Six to one is the ratio of spending in this budget. We disagree with it and that is why we have opposed it.
As I said, these tax cuts are shrinking our fiscal capacity. What does that mean? It means that we are not spending in the areas that we ought to be investing in, in spite of some of the very pressing needs that we have in this country.
What could we have done with the money that the government is spending in corporate tax giveaways? We could have created 1.14 million child care spaces. We could have done that to help working families that are so squeezed when both parents are trying to make ends meet and still care for their kids.
We could have added 74,000 hybrid transit buses that are clean, new and more accessible and, my goodness, even Canadian made. We could have put these on our streets, created a lot of jobs, kept a lot of people in work, created new jobs and created a big demand for all the auxiliary parts and services that go into this production.
We could have created 12.1 million units of non-profit affordable housing. Would that not have been something? That would certainly clear up the 70,000 families that are on the waiting list for affordable housing in my city of Toronto alone.
We could have invested in 25,000 MRI machines to help with some of the backlog in our health care system. We could have invested in our health care system so that Canadians could get the timely, efficient, good quality care that they need. We could have invested in annual health services for 10 million patients and made sure that our seniors, or anybody who needs health care, have the services in a timely fashion.
We could have helped with undergraduate tuition for 11 million students. That would have made an enormous difference for young people starting out in life rather than saddling them with an oppressive mortgaging of their future. We could have invested in their education and helped them get the kind of start that they ought to be getting in a country as wealthy as ours. We could have forgiven 2.1 million graduates of their student loans.
Unfortunately, supported by the opposition, the government has decided not to invest in all of these pressing priorities, whether it is child care, housing, health care, or the arts, many of the issues that are of concern to people in my riding of Parkdale--High Park.
Another choice that the federal government made was to undermine one of the core adjustment programs that working people in our country need and that is our employment insurance program.
This program has already been significantly undermined by previous governments. It used to be our strongest program to help working people when they lost their job and needed to get into a new job. This program used to provide funding for unemployed workers. Some 80% of unemployed workers used to get EI to help them through their transition.
As a result of cuts made by the previous government that significantly undermined who would get benefits and the level of their benefits, we find today that more than three-quarters of laid off people in the city of Toronto and about two-thirds across the country do not get employment insurance benefits. This is shocking. Is there any other insurance program where an individual cannot access the benefits even though he or she has paid the premiums? This defies logic.
Working people and employers across the country have been paying into the EI fund for some time, resulting in a surplus of $57 billion. Previous governments, as well as the present government, have used that money to pay down the debt or for other programs. People who have been paying into the fund and ought to be getting the benefits are in fact being denied the benefits.
What is the Conservative government doing? Rather than saying there is an imbalance between the money paid in and the abysmal level of benefits and services available as a result of the inadequacy of the EI program, the government has decided to take, or steal in fact, the $57 billion and set up a separate account that will not be accountable to this Parliament. That is shocking. That is a disgrace. That is a dishonour to unemployed workers across the country.
The decision by the government to change the immigration act and put so much discretion and power in the hands of the immigration minister is a terrible betrayal of the hopes and dreams of newcomers who want to come to this country.
Our system is far from perfect. There have been too many cutbacks in the system that have created a backlog. But too many people are now going to be denied the opportunity to come to this country because of the changes in this budget implementation act.