Mr. Speaker, Bill C-51 is an act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on January 27, 2009 and to implement other measures.
As members will know, from the debate that has gone so far, this bill touches on a broad range of subject matters, some of which I have mentioned in my previous remarks.
Before I move on to my final remarks, I would like to note that on page 6745 of the November 6 Hansard, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance raised a question about whether or not I had even read Bill C-51.
In my defence, I would remind the member that he chaired a briefing session for members of Parliament the day before it was tabled in this place and, as he will recall, I was sitting in the front row throughout the meeting and was one of the members asking most of the questions. He may want to withdraw the remark about my presence at the meeting or about reading the bill.
In reviewing some of the other matters that the members have talked about in debate and why it is relevant, because members have obviously raised it, was certainly to go back and remind Canadians about the November economic statement a year ago, which is where we need to understand where we came from and why we are here today.
The economic statement contained projections of surpluses and it included cuts to government spending at a most inappropriate time. It is really amazing what happened. The members will know the litany of changes we have undergone. A budget was brought in that ultimately included a fiscal stimulus through infrastructure and other members and the Liberal Party supported them. However, what did not happen was the execution of the matters in that budget. I remember raising in the House that, even with regard to the last fiscal year, some $3 billion of infrastructure funding did not get out the door. It was approved project by project, ready to go. We talked often about having shovel ready projects so that the money could get out quickly so we could save current jobs. That was one of the key elements of the infrastructure program.
We did not get the money out. We let the money lapse, which is a shame because it just goes back into the treasury, even though it was already announced, promised, funded and ready to go. Talk about shovel ready, that was it and they let it go.
We also know it is the same situation with regard to the current program of infrastructure spending. Only 10% of the projects that were submitted for funding are underway and have shovels in the ground. It is the government's term “shovel ready”.
In my own city of Mississauga, I just looked at the listing from the manager of the City of Mississauga who keeps the members of Parliament informed. There are a large number of projects in the sixth largest city in the country, Mississauga. However, in my own riding there are none that have any shovels in the ground yet, but they do have signs everywhere announcing them. It is really a shame because, as we have seen with the unemployment situation, we have gone from having the lowest unemployment rate in 30 years to now having the highest in our history. We are approaching 9% and expectations are that it could hit 10%. It means that we are still losing jobs when the stimulus program should have been saving those jobs, should have been creating those jobs through the infrastructure programs and through other initiatives. It has not. It has been a terrible execution.
It just strikes me that the Prime Minister once mused that Canada did not need to get on side in terms of stimulus, in terms of this overall so-called global financial crisis, because we are a trading nation, which means that other countries that are doing all the stimulus spending are creating an economic activity and they will trade with us and we will benefit from their economic spending.
However, we also need to do our share but now, instead of having a surplus in the current fiscal year, we are now up to a projected deficit of some $60 billion for Canada. It is outrageous that the current government has allowed this to happen.
The Prime Minister says that his government will not raise taxes and it will not cut government spending, particularly in transfers to the provinces for health care and other things. The Parliamentary Budget Officer says that we are in a technical recession. This means that we cannot grow out of it.
Projections show that even five years hence Canada will still be running a $19 billion to $20 billion deficit. This should be of concern to Canadians. This shows the government is incapable of managing the financial matters of the country. The government's responsibility is to be fiscally responsible. The Conservatives have spent all their time advertising things that have not happened.
I have some grave concerns about the government's ability to do the job. I have concerns about the EI commission, which the government wants to start up in 2010, with $2 billion in seed money. After that, all the premiums would go into the commission and all the expenses would come out of it.
With an unemployment rate that high, it is very clear to me, and I am sure to all Canadians, that the commission will operate at a deficit itself, and I hope members will ask about this. It will not have the resources to pay the employment insurance benefits to which Canadians are entitled. The government will have to make further transfers into the commission. It shows how incompetent the Conservatives really are.