Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to the budget on behalf of my constituents of Brampton--Springdale, a budget which impacts seniors, families, children, women and men not only in my own constituency of Brampton--Springdale but all of Canada.
In a time of growing economic crisis, many Bramptonians, like many other Canadians across the country, are suffering. They have been hit with the loss of their jobs either in the manufacturing or the auto sector, in the retail sector or at assembly plants.
If we take a look at my riding of Brampton--Springdale, the Chrysler plant has eliminated its third shift, the loss of 1,100 jobs. Eleven hundred families were impacted overnight. The Simmons factory has closed, with hundreds of other Bramptonians losing their jobs. ABC plastics has closed, and the list goes on and on when it comes to people losing their jobs and companies closing their doors.
The result of these people losing their jobs as companies close their doors is that thousands of families out there are struggling to make ends meet, whether it is that single mother worrying about how she will put food on the table for her children, or that father wondering how he will care for his family, or that family struggling to find a child care space, or those seniors having to make that very difficult choice of either filling up the medicine cabinet or their gas tank or their fridge.
We have known in the last month alone that over 100,000 Canadians have lost their jobs. I only have to go to an email that I received a short while ago in my office, which states:
“I have never written to any politician before but I write to you today out of desperation. After working for 22 years at a company I was told last week I was being let go. I have never known another job other than the company I worked for. I thought, when I was let go and the company was closing its doors, I would be able to apply for EI. I have just learned the wait period is for two weeks and then there is a massive backlog of another three weeks. Now almost four weeks later, I am without pay and I really don't know where to turn. I actually don't know where I'm going to be buying the next carton of milk for my baby. I know as I write to you I won't be able to get any money from you for the food that I so desperately need, but I am asking you to please tell your colleagues, your fellow MPs, that there are so many people out there like myself who were employed for years and years at one company and have been let go. All of us are looking for hope. We are looking for hope for a brighter future and a better tomorrow”.
Then there is the story of Mr. Beharry and Mr. Smalla, my constituents who came in to see me a few hours after they were informed that their company, ABC plastics, was closing its doors. They had been laid off. As I sat with both of these individuals, I learned that they had worked as well for almost two decades at the same company. They were left on that day without any direction or resources as to how they would go on to rebuild their lives. As fathers, they were concerned about how they would feed their children, and as husbands, how they would support their families.
The story of Mr. Beharry and Mr. Smalla is like the stories of many other Bramptonians and many other Canadians across the country who are struggling. It is these Canadians, these Bramptonians like Mr. Beharry and Mr. Smalla, who were looking to this budget, who were looking to the government of the day for the leadership, for some action and really for a sense of hope for a better tomorrow.
As time has gone on, we have seen that the Conservative government of the day mismanaged the economy. The result is absolutely no leadership and then no action plan to help those people who are so desperately struggling.
We look once again at the area of Peel, where the issue of poverty and the gap between those who are rich and those who are poor continues to increase. We look at the issue of social housing in my riding, which has a wait list of more than 13,000 individuals, more than 30,000 people. The wait time to get into a housing unit is 21 years. It is these people on that wait list who were looking to the Conservative government and this budget for a sense of hope for a better future and a brighter tomorrow.
Let us take a look at the number of people who are accessing emergency shelters. In 2006 over 11,776 people accessed the emergency shelter in Peel. The region provided a total of 111,812 bed nights to those poor people, to those residents who are so incredibly desperate.
Unfortunately, the budget has delivered absolutely nothing for affordable housing and homelessness. We thought, and many of us hoped, that the budget would provide for a national housing strategy. There is absolutely nothing.
Canadians had seen, through previous Liberal governments, eight consecutive balanced budgets. Canadians were given a sense of hope with having one of the best economic records in the G8 and one of the highest employment rates and the lowest unemployment rates.
As my colleague so eloquently described it, as the tsunami hit the global financial markets throughout the world, many of the other G8 countries acted. They acted on behalf of their citizens and on behalf of their nations to provide stimulus packages. What did we have in Canada? We had the Prime Minister of the day denying there was an economic recession. We had the Prime Minister and the Conservative government denying there was the possibility of a growing crisis. We had thousands of people losing their jobs, having the door shut in their faces. We had seniors struggling to make ends meet, to pay their energy bills and their mortgage payments. They received absolutely no hope from the government.
The government told us there would be surpluses. A few months later, when the budget came out the other day, we all learned Canadians would be inheriting an $84 billion deficit.
Then the government promised a stimulus to help create jobs with infrastructure spending. One only had to read the fine print. Mayors across the country got ready because they heard about possible infrastructure spending. They presented their wish lists of shovel-ready projects, wish lists that were presented by municipalities and cities like Brampton which had a wish list that included the Trinity Common Terminal refurbishment project and the AcceleRide bus rapid transit projects. However, when they read the fine print, even though cities like Brampton have a wish list, which have been included in the city's 2009 budget, in order to access the infrastructure spending provided in the budget they must come up with the money. Many of these municipalities do not have the money.
We realize that the list submitted by the Brampton municipality would create an extra 21,000 jobs, jobs that are so desperately needed by many of my constituents. I hope the government will look at an action plan to ensure it provides the support to municipalities that do not have the opportunity to give some of the funding.
Before I go forward, Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member of Parliament for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca.
Let us look at some of the initiatives that were left out of the budget. When constituents lose their jobs, they look to EI for hope. However, the budget does not provide increased accessibility to EI. There will be no reduction in the wait time before an individual can receive EI benefits.
Those people were looking to this budget for hope. Unfortunately, they did not receive it. This is why our leader and my Liberal colleagues have put the Prime Minister and the government on probation to ensure that there is accountability, to ensure the funds that have been promised do not just look great as words on paper but are delivered to the municipalities and to the people who so desperately need them. Canadians across the country and constituents like mine in Brampton are looking to government. They are looking to all parliamentarians, regardless of their political stripe, to put aside their partisanship. They are looking to us for hope.
I think by working together in a spirit of cooperation, in a spirit of collaboration, we have an opportunity to give those people, who are struggling to make ends meet, the hope that they so desperately need for a brighter future and a better tomorrow.