Mr. Speaker, it is a bit of a pity to cut a presentation into two parts. However, I will recap for the benefit of my colleagues here this morning what I said yesterday. I pointed out that, given the spirit of openness shown by the current government in this economic context, and in particular given the fact that the government had recognized Quebec as a nation just two years ago, I had expectations of considerable openness from this government with respect to recognizing the demands of the Government of Quebec.
The main demands related to the equalization formula. The Government of Quebec is opposed to the changes to this formula, because it stands to lose $1 billion as a result. It is also opposed to the formation of a single pan-Canadian securities regulator, because Quebec wishes to retain its own securities commission, Since Quebec sees this as a cultural issue as much as one of economic control, it would be important for the government to recognize these demands by the Government of Quebec.
I will now move on to the rest of my speech in greater detail. Following on what I said yesterday, I wish to state that we regret that the bulk of workers who lose their jobs will continue to have no access to employment insurance, according to what was presented in the budget this week. Older workers are again marginalized, because there are no measures for them.
As for the fiscal imbalance—to which I have already referred—Quebec stands to lose $1 billion, up to $2 billion next year, according to the forecast. Quebec will therefore sustain losses with respect to health, education and family policy, all under provincial jurisdiction in our parliamentary system, as we know. In addition, the Conservative government is making a gift to Ontario with its calculation of the dividends from Hydro One compared to those from Hydro-Québec. Quebec will therefore lose an additional $250 million in equalization.
Culture is one of the essential elements of the Quebec nation. Many Quebec cultural troupes take Quebec culture around the world and their substantial performance incomes benefit the entire Quebec economy. The Conservatives' refusal to eliminate the announced cuts to culture —a sector of such importance to the economy—will continue to mean suffering for all of the regions of Quebec, as will their refusal to backtrack on the cuts inflicted on economic development bodies. We will get back to that point, because a great deal has been said about it already recently, yet this week's budget does not touch upon it at all.
I would also like to point out that this Conservative budget is contrary to the Kyoto accord and thus contrary to the economic interests of Quebec and of the environment.
This budget contains some questionable ideological choices. Overall, the budget is clearly lacking, and it is hard to imagine what would have happened if the Conservatives had a majority, because we expected that the government would make concessions in response to demands from the different regions. Even though this is a minority government, it ignored those demands.
he tax cuts are not targeted. A family earning $150,000 will get more than a family earning $40,000. These tax cuts will help neither people who lose their jobs nor companies that do not turn a profit. By the Conservatives' own admission, in opting for corporate tax cuts, they chose the measure that would stimulate the economy the least. That amounts to putting ideology before the economy.
As for social housing, the Conservative government is injecting $2 billion into social housing, but most of that money will go to renovations, while very little will go to building new units. Quebec alone needs an additional 52,000 units, according to one social housing agency.
In July 2007, in my own riding, having received the support of the voters in Saint-Vincent-de-Paul, I asked the Minister of Public Safety to take action in response to calls to revitalize the former penitentiary in Saint-Vincent-de-Paul. The government owns this building and could have converted it into new social housing. But there is no mention of this project in the budget. I would remind this House that the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation has an $8 billion surplus, but the government is not using one cent of that money in its budget for new housing.
The government should have used the budget to adjust the guaranteed income supplement so that low-income seniors in dire need could at least reach the poverty line. Clearly, this is an oversight. If only seniors were provided with additional income to bring them up to the poverty line, they would spend money, which would be injected into our economy and not lost.
Our party will be voting against the budget, as members know, for very good reasons.