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House of Commons Hansard #5 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was billion.

Topics

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

Tim Uppal Conservative Edmonton—Sherwood Park, AB

Madam Speaker, that is a tough one to sum up in 30 seconds, but my colleague talked about the elimination of the tariffs. It is expected to create over 12,000 jobs in the manufacturing industry.

Having Canada as one of the number one countries in the world to invest in, because of what the Conservative government is doing, is going to help Canadians across the country by creating jobs and increasing the investment into Canada. It is good government and it will help the economy.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

March 9th, 2010 / 12:25 p.m.

Bloc

Robert Carrier Bloc Alfred-Pellan, QC

Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Chambly—Borduas.

I would like to take this time to share with the House my comments on the budget brought down by the Conservative government.

During the prorogation imposed by the government at the end of 2009, I had the chance to take part in the Bloc Québécois' prebudget consultation tour of the various regions of Quebec with my colleague from Hochelaga, who is also the Bloc finance critic.

Quebeckers were very happy to see us and share their needs and expectations with regard to a budget they dreaded. They often told us that other political parties did not visit their region. The Bloc's closeness to Quebeckers is a key reason why the Bloc has always enjoyed the support of the majority of voters in Quebec.

Whether we are talking about forestry, aerospace, the environment or culture, Quebeckers' priorities, as expressed during our tour, are completely ignored in this budget.

By bringing down such an empty budget, the Conservative government is showing us once again that federalism simply does not benefit Quebec.

Once again, the Conservatives are missing an opportunity to properly address Quebec's economic, social, environmental and financial needs.

They have shown once again that, as far as Canada is concerned, it is as though Quebec does not exist. The Conservative government is continuing to follow the course set by its 2006 economic statement, which established policies geared to the needs of Ontario and Alberta to the detriment of the very pressing needs of Quebec.

Despite all the wonderful Conservative promises in 2006 of a new openness towards Quebec, there is nothing in the new Conservative budget to address the needs of Quebec's economy.

Like the Quebec Forest Industry Council, the Bloc Québécois is calling for loans and loan guarantees, such as those made available by Investissement Québec, an agency of the Quebec government.

Furthermore, a comprehensive policy to support and modernize the forestry industry is needed. For example—as shown so clearly in the budget where the figures are set out side-by-side—the automotive sector, which is concentrated in Ontario, has received $9.7 billion over the past two years whereas the forestry industry, which is so important to Quebec, received only $170 million for the whole country.

Investment in Ontario was 57 times greater. After the government invested so much money to save jobs in Ontario, which was legitimate, forestry workers would have expected that protecting the forestry industry and its jobs would be given consideration in this budget.

In another area, in response to the budget, the Front d'action populaire en réaménagement urbain, the FRAPRU, a well-known community organization in Quebec, accused the government of creating a deficit at the expense of the poor. In fact, fighting the deficit will affect the most disadvantaged in society: those living without proper housing, the homeless and individuals and families living in poverty. During our consultation tour, people inevitably talked about the lack of social housing.

In Montreal alone, more than 23,000 households are waiting for affordable housing. In the province of Quebec, there are 35,000 households on the waiting list.

Although construction of social housing for seniors and the disabled is required because it was already in the government's action plan, the current budget does not propose to construct social housing for the poorest families. That would be housing with more than two or three bedrooms, which it makes sense to build for our society.

People from across Quebec also pointed out many flaws in the EI system. My colleague from Chambly—Borduas will surely expand on this later.

In any case, the budget does not propose any measures for unemployed workers, except for an extension of the work sharing program. This is not a new measure, since it was announced in the last budget.

There is no mention of the reforms needed in order to improve accessibility. It must be repeated over and over that less than 50% of workers have access to employment insurance. That is why a major overhaul is so important, although it has yet to be included in a budget.

Although the budget will lift the freeze that had been placed on premium rates, this will not improve the system.

What is most appalling about all of this is the fact that the government plans to pilfer a total of $19 billion from the EI fund between 2011 and 2015. Those figures are written in black and white in the budget. That money will be taken directly from the workers. Instead of helping workers improve their situation, the Conservatives are going to take more money from them.

Now what about our seniors who are living in poverty? The guaranteed income supplement paid to the most disadvantaged is keeping them below the poverty line. In addition, over 40,000 people in Quebec are still not receiving it, because they do not know it exists or because they cannot understand and complete the application form.

On June 4, 2008, Bill C-490, which I had the honour to introduce, passed second reading in the House after being supported by a majority of members, with the exception of the Conservatives. I find that shameful.

The government put an end to the bill when it called an election in September 2008, thereby preventing the bill's passage.

The bill proposed automatic registration for the guaranteed income supplement—since the government has access to people's income, and an additional $110 a month just to help them reach the low-income cutoff, which used to be called the poverty line, as well as full retroactivity for seniors who have been shortchanged and realized it when they finally applied. At present, retroactivity is limited to 11 months. The bill proposed full retroactivity, since that money was owed to them.

Now that the worst of this crisis is behind us, we could have expected the government to use this budget to correct the situation by helping people who are relatively poor and allowing our seniors to live in dignity.

I say dignity because that is the word seniors used when they spoke to us during the guaranteed income supplement consultation tour we went on when we introduced the bill. These people are not looking for charity. They just want to live in a dignified way.

Unfortunately, despite all the steps often taken by the Bloc Québécois, our seniors will again have to settle for their government's lack of consideration because there is nothing for them in this budget.

I would now like to reiterate that Quebec is the only province to have harmonized its sales tax and not receive compensation for it. The Atlantic provinces are receiving a $1 billion compensation over four years, Ontario will receive $4.3 billion and British Columbia will receive $1.6 billion.

It is very complicated for Quebec. The government has been saying for a year that it is in talks with Quebec to finalize compensation for harmonizing the tax, which has been applied in that province for 18 years now.

Quebec assessed the cost at $2.2 billion and it said officially that it needed that money in order to prepare its budget in the coming weeks. It is inconceivable that the current budget is not correcting this injustice, which has been dragging on for so many years.

Unless there are major changes, it is clear that the Bloc Québécois will vote against this budget.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

12:35 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Madam Speaker, I am particularly pleased that the member took the time to talk about seniors and the difficulties that they are facing.

They have come through a low interest rate scenario where the return on their retirement nest egg has been very small. They are probably living off their capital now. The demands on the health care system are rising. The demands on our social services are rising. Their pensions have been at risk and have been damaged by decisions of the government.

This seems to be an issue of the government feeling that all we have is a fiscal deficit and it has focused on that. It has not focused on the social deficit. It is almost like a tsunami where the earthquake was the global economic recession but the wave yet to come is going to be the impact on people.

I want to thank the member for raising the plight of seniors. There are some major matters coming forward, certainly with the aging society issues such as mental health problems, Alzheimer's and the like, dementia. These are serious problems that government is going to ignore at a time when it should be planning to provide the support and services that our seniors need.

I wonder if the member would like to comment.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

12:35 p.m.

Bloc

Robert Carrier Bloc Alfred-Pellan, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my Liberal Party colleague for his question and for bringing up the subject. This subject is very important to me; I introduced a bill about it.

Right now, the government's problem is that it is obviously looking for sources of cash to try to eliminate the deficit. The Bloc Québécois is well aware of the problem, but solving it at the expense of the poorest members of society is not the right thing to do. We suggest that those in the highest tax bracket—those earning over $150,000—pay an additional 2% to cover the government's revenue shortfall. Everyone will agree that this is a logical solution: people with high incomes ranging from $150,000 to $200,000 and up can kick in a little extra to help cover the government's shortfall. The government cannot keep low-income earners in poverty while it allows the rich to go on living large.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

12:35 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, I want to note that just yesterday one of his colleagues spoke about the whole area of nuclear power development. I note in the budget that $126 million is being put aside for nuclear research.

We in Manitoba have a vast supply, as Quebec does, of hydroelectric power, and only half of it has been developed at this point. Even the minister of democratic reform has been on record trying to encourage his own government to develop an east-west power grid. So rather than selling all of our electrical power in Manitoba to the American market, we would be able to share that power with Saskatchewan, Alberta, and B.C., and we would be able to send the power east into Ontario so that it may not have to develop the nuclear power plants that it is suggesting will be developed in Ontario.

We know that nuclear waste is certainly going to be a big problem. We know that it is going to be almost impossible to get approvals because at the end of the day no citizen in this country will want to have a nuclear plant anywhere near where they live.

Why does the government think it is somehow going to solve the problem by developing nuclear plants when it already knows in advance that the road is going to be a rough one to get approvals and to deal with the waste issue? All it has to do is start building an east-west power grid, something that its own minister of democratic reform has been supporting and cannot convince the government to do.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

12:40 p.m.

Bloc

Robert Carrier Bloc Alfred-Pellan, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his very specific question.

Nuclear power does raise a lot of issues, particularly with respect to radioactive waste. Atomic energy is not actually that clean. There are a lot of doubts surrounding this plan. The government could choose to support many other forms of green energy instead of nuclear, which could end up causing us a lot of problems in the long term.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

12:40 p.m.

Bloc

Yves Lessard Bloc Chambly—Borduas, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to begin by congratulating my colleague from Alfred-Pellan on his speech. I also want to say how pleased we are to see him in good health. We certainly need a member of his calibre to keep standing up for Quebec's interests and for people who have taken hit after hit, as we have discussed repeatedly. Society needs people like him. I would also like to acknowledge my colleague from Hochelaga, the finance critic. I believe that he is doing an extraordinary job.

The Bloc Québécois is against this budget. There can be no doubt that it is an unacceptable budget. We will only be able to support this budget if the House passes the Bloc Québécois' proposed amendment. Our amendment would remove all of the elements that constitute an attack on Quebec's sovereign rights with respect to a number of tools, including its securities commission.

After hearing the budget, I was asked to sum it up in one word. I immediately replied, “conservative”. If I had to answer that question today, I would say “reformist”.

This budget is conservative or reformist because it is based on a government strategy to take away social tools such as the social safety net. That would later enable the government to justify the measures it wants to put in place. But they have shown virtually no restraint when it comes to helping the military and oil industries.

I remind members that the government first gave away one of its tools when it lowered the GST by 2%. For more than a year now, it has frozen EI premiums at $1.73, when we know very well that that is not enough to fulfill the obligations of that system. Members will also remember that nearly $60 billion was removed from this fund and spent elsewhere. Even worse, this government, just like the Liberal government before it, is prepared to divert another $19 billion from employment insurance by 2014.

It has also abolished measures that supported women's groups, in particular, one of the essential measures to achieve pay equity in the public service or in any federally-regulated workplace: the ability to take legal action to achieve pay equity. It is unbelievable. With the support of the Liberals, the Conservatives managed to do it. Worse yet, they forbid unions from going to court to represent these working women, threatening them with fines of up to $50,000 a day. That is unbelievable. This country defends these rights when we send our young soldiers to fight in other countries. Here, these rights, rights that were the result of a long struggle, are being taken away from female workers.

I am saying this because I think the government's offensive against women is shameful. Once again, women are standing up and asking us to walk with them and for them. This past Sunday, March 7, I attended an event, the beginning of a worldwide march, in my riding. This march will culminate in the Republic of Congo on October 18. A number of marches are planned in Quebec and Canada between now and then.

The women presented me and my colleague from the National Assembly, Mr. Curzi, with beautiful decorative bouquets of shoes, as a symbol of the march and a reminder of the situation facing women, regardless of their social situation. From sandals, which are often worn by the poorest women, to work boots, running shoes and moccasins, all kinds of shoes were represented in order to symbolize women's various situations.

The rules of the House prohibit me from showing the bouquet here today, but I nevertheless kept a moccasin with me, since the rights of aboriginal women are among the most often ignored. Yet aboriginal communities are under federal jurisdiction. It is the only segment of the population to which the federal government has a fiduciary responsibility. However, the federal government has been failing miserably in that regard.

We must once again allow these women the recourse to go before the courts and exercise their right to equality. We must also ensure that funding for literacy programs is restored. All these measures, like social housing, affect women most of all. When there is not enough housing, women and children are most likely to be affected. Of course it affects the entire family, but it affects women more directly.

As my colleague was saying earlier, the unemployed have been neglected in this budget. It is unbelievable. In Canada, even when we get a new government it is more of the same. They are so similar that, when it comes to attacking women's rights, the Liberals vote with the Conservatives. When it comes time to vote against the rights of the unemployed, the Liberals vote with the Conservatives. In earlier times, it was the Conservatives who voted with the Liberals when they were slashing the employment insurance programs.

On the department's site, the government acknowledges that only 46% of people who are not working can hope to receive employment insurance benefits. Of that group, only 33% are women. Discrimination exists even there. In the meantime, injustice exists for everyone. In normal circumstances, almost 88% of the unemployed should expect to benefit from employment insurance.

In closing, I will quickly address the issue of seniors. It is outrageous. As I was saying at the beginning of my speech, the government has shown no restraint in granting funding to the war industry and the nuclear industry. There is no holding back. We see astronomical funds allocated to those sectors. We see to what extent this government is attacking the rights of the unemployed, women and seniors.

This government still owes seniors $3.2 billion in guaranteed income supplement payments. The most appalling thing is that the government is hoping that as many as possible of those seniors—because it knows who it owes that money to—will die, so that it can shirk this responsibility.

Measures and bills have been introduced to overhaul the employment insurance system with respect to the number of hours, weeks of benefits and level of benefits. The same should be true for seniors. Their pensions need to be improved and the flagrant injustice surrounding the guaranteed income supplement needs to be corrected.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Madam Speaker, the hon. member for Chambly—Borduas is a very good member of Parliament and is always thoughtful in his comments. I appreciate what he brings to the House. He has demonstrated what many have said today in the debate on the budget, that the budget should not simply address the fiscal deficit, that there is a social deficit and there are implications.

The last time Canada had a recession, three things happened. First, there was an increase in the property crime rate. Second, there was an increase in the demands on the health care system. Third, there was an increase in the demand on social services, particularly for women and seniors.

I agree wholeheartedly with the hon. member with regard to women's issues, whether they be pay equity, court challenges, or equal opportunity. He laid out a sound view that we need to address Canada's aging society as there are significant consequences. He also talked about jobs and the importance of EI. He mentioned the increase in premiums, some $19 billion over the next five years.

The fact is that over the next couple of years, the EI benefits for 500,000 Canadians are going to lapse; they will be done and then we will have a problem. On top of that, the unemployment rate is going from 8.2% to 8.5% in the coming year. These are social deficits that we must address.

I want to give the hon. member an opportunity to add a few more comments regarding those arguments.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

Bloc

Yves Lessard Bloc Chambly—Borduas, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague, who always has something very appropriate to say.

His comments remind us that only employees and employers pay into employment insurance and that there was enough money to make all the changes and improvements that should have been made. The surplus was built up on the backs of people who lost their jobs and on the backs of their families and the regions concerned.

How can the system be fixed now? Simply by using EI contributions for the purposes for which they were intended. Next year, the government is going to start increasing premiums again, which will create the surplus he mentioned, but that is where they must be used.

If I have another 30 seconds, I will finish by saying that what is shameful in all this is that in order to fill the holes in the social safety net, the government is relying on the social solidarity net, which is made up of community groups whose funding it is also cutting. To add to the irony, the government is giving them a day of celebration, but it is not giving them any money to celebrate. It is the same thing for seniors. There is no money for them, but they are getting a day—

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

The hon. member for Edmonton—Strathcona.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, I would like to direct the hon. member's attention to the $126 million that the Conservatives have put in the budget for nuclear research, and their signal that they are going to promote and develop nuclear plants in Ontario and Saskatchewan.

Nine of the fourteen members from Manitoba are in the Conservative caucus. One of the Conservative members, the Minister of State for Democratic Reform, has been on record now for two or three years as supporting an east-west power grid so that Manitoba hydro power can be developed. Manitoba has only developed half of its power. Rather than sending all the power that it currently does to the United States, in the future Manitoba could send power to Saskatchewan and Ontario to help with Canada's energy problems.

I would like to ask the member, why does he think the Manitoba Conservative caucus has not had much of an effect in convincing the government to develop that east-west power grid?

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.

Bloc

Yves Lessard Bloc Chambly—Borduas, QC

Madam Speaker, they have not been successful probably because they suffer from the same weakness as the Quebec Conservatives. I do not know what they are up to.

Quebec does not want nuclear power, but the government is promoting it. Where were the members from Quebec? It is just like the situation in the member's province. Who is leading? It may be the Prime Minister, but who is leading the Prime Minister? Good question. This government has made political choices to develop the war industry, the oil industry, and we could add the nuclear industry. But Quebec is not in favour of developing the war industry and the nuclear industry.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.

Conservative

Kelly Block Conservative Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, SK

Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with my colleague, the member for Saint John.

I will take this opportunity to thank the House for this chance to speak in support of budget 2010 and year two of Canada's economic action plan.

I also want to thank the chair of finance committee, as well as the other government members with whom I have the privilege to serve, who worked so diligently in preparation for budget 2010.

As a new member of the finance committee, I appreciate the many hours spent in prebudget consultations. In just two and a half short months, our committee logged over 70 meetings and met with over 400 organizations, universities, professional associations, industry and business leaders, and financial institutions in preparation for budget 2010.

We did not stop there. Once our report was tabled, we returned home to our ridings where we have been busy listening to Canadians across the country to help shape this budget.

While in my riding and travelling across the country over the past months, I have heard from many residents. I have also received a huge amount of feedback as a result of a survey I sent to the residents of Saskatoon--Rosetown--Biggar regarding what they would like to see in this budget. The response was overwhelming. I am proud to report that many issues raised by the residents of my riding are addressed in this budget.

After hearing stories from Canadians all across the riding of Saskatoon--Rosetown--Biggar, there was a common theme that became glaringly obvious: people want the economy to be this government's number one focus.

While this means different things to different people, common among all concerns was the need for Parliament to prioritize the protection and creation of jobs in the short term and to focus on building a competitive framework for long term economic success.

We need to ensure Canada will attract investment from abroad and inspire the confidence and entrepreneurialism from within to ensure Canada continues to be the best place in the world to work, live and raise a family. That is exactly what budget 2010 will do.

The success of the first year of Canada's economic action plan has been felt throughout the country. Through no fault of our own, Canada entered the most severe economic recession since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Canada's economic action plan has helped to stimulate our economy through these difficult times and, at the same time, prepared us for the economy of tomorrow by ensuring we have the economic and fiscal advantage.

Some in the opposition imply that Canada's workers are lazy, or others that the economic action plan this government put in place is not working. I refer them to the recent Statistics Canada report that announced our economy grew 5% in the fourth quarter of 2009, the strongest quarterly rate of economic growth in approximately a decade.

This growth is also right on the heels of global economic uncertainty, proof positive that this government's quick actions and response were effective, well-measured and appropriate. That is something all Canadians can share and be proud of.

Budget 2010 continues to build on almost four years of continued tax relief for Canadians. We are providing personal income tax relief of $3.2 billion through adjustments to federal tax brackets, enhancing the working income tax benefit, higher child benefits for parents and lower taxes for low and middle income seniors.

This is on top of our Conservative government's initiatives, such as the tax free savings account, the public transit tax credit; the children's fitness tax credit, the disability savings program, the universal child care benefit, pension income splitting, the first time homebuyers tax credit, apprenticeship job creation tax credit, the tradesperson deduction for tools, working income tax benefit, the Canada employment amount meal exemptions for long haul truckers and the textbook tax credit for students. All of these helped Canadians pay less tax.

In budget 2010, we are taking steps to support a strong and competitive Canadian livestock industry. We are opening new markets for agricultural products so that we can sell what we grow. In last year's budget, Canada's economic action plan committed $550 million to help the agricultural sector deal with global economic pressures. We strengthened Canada's slaughterhouse capacity and have been working on improving our competitiveness.

In this year's budget, we are building on those successes by investing $75 million in the agri-flexibility fund, ensuring cattle producers continue to have access to competitive processing operations in Canada.

This is good news for my riding. We will be investing $10 million in the slaughter improvement program which will introduce new, cost effective technologies. We will be investing $25 million in processing plants that handle cattle over 30 months of age and another $40 million to support the development and commercialization of innovative technology that will help with the removal and use of specified risk materials, reducing handling costs and creating potential revenue resources from these materials.

Just yesterday, the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities had this to say about budget 2010:

SARM has always taken the position that Canadian cattle producers must have a level playing field compared to their American counterparts. We are pleased that the government has recognized this problem and is addressing it.

Over the next two years, we will also be investing $51.7 million in the Canadian Grain Commission. We remain committed to bringing the Canadian Grain Act up to date and ensuring the Canadian Grain Commission evolves to the needs of the sector.

Canada is, without a doubt, the best country in the world to live but it did not become this way overnight. We owe a debt of gratitude to the generations who built this country to be the great place that it is. Our government knows that seniors deserve respect and dignity. Since 2006, our Conservative government has been working hard to improve financial security for seniors. We brought in income splitting for seniors. We increased the age limit for converting RRSPs to RRIFs to 71. We have increased the age credit amount twice. We have doubled the pension income credit to $2,000. We have provided seniors with a tax-free way to save with a tax-free savings account. Withdrawals from the tax-free savings account will not affect government benefits, such as old age security or the guaranteed income supplement.

We have started strong and, in budget 2010, we are building on our accomplishments for seniors. This year, Canada's economic action plan will be investing $10 million in New Horizons. This program has been a fantastic help in my own riding of Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar and will continue to be so as it provides spaces for seniors to gather, promote volunteering in communities and help to combat the financial abuse of seniors.

Over the past year, we have been consulting with Canadians about larger reforms to Canada's pension and retirement systems. This month we will launch public consultations on how to improve Canada's retirement income system and we will continue to work with our provincial partners that regulate roughly 90% of pensions in Canada to ensure that Canadians can retire with peace of mind.

Since the launch of Canada's economic action plan, our objectives have been absolutely clear: help families, save jobs and stabilize our economy. Let me be clear that we are on track. Canada has weathered the storm better than all other major industrialized countries.

Our government listened and now, in this budget, we are delivering. We know that Canadians, the hard-working men and women of this country, are the people who make this country great. The people who put their trust in Parliament deserve to be honoured by having their tax dollars spent on programs and initiatives that are run effectively and efficiently.

I call on all members of the House to pass this budget for all Canadians.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:05 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Madam Speaker, it is always good to hear from my good friend from Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar.

The member mentioned seniors on a couple of occasions. I was very glad to hear that. She also used the words, “seniors should be able to live in dignity and respect”. That would tend to indicate that somehow we are talking about those seniors who have some difficulty in meeting their financial requirements and obligations for their own personal health and well-being.

The program the member mentioned, the provision allowing seniors to split their pension income, I would like to advise the member of a recent study that was done that shows how 75% of seniors do not have pensions to split. If we take out of those who do have pensions, those who have no partner, and we take out those who are already at the lowest marginal rate, only 14.2% of seniors can actually benefit from this program and it is only the highest income earning seniors in Canada.

I hope she will take that back to the finance committee and maybe find out how we can help real seniors in need to live in dignity and with respect.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:05 p.m.

Conservative

Kelly Block Conservative Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, SK

Madam Speaker, while that is an interesting question, I want to go back to what we heard from Canadians as we crossed the country in our pre-budget consultations and what I heard when I was in my riding.

What I heard from all Canadians as our government held hundreds of consultations is that they remain concerned about jobs and the economy. Budget 2010 is a jobs and growth budget that continues to see our economic action plan completed by delivering $19 billion in new federal stimulus in 2010. Without a strong economy, we will not be able to provide for all of the other programs that we are able to. We are taking additional steps to protect existing jobs—

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:05 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

I try to allow equal time for the question and the answer.

The hon. member for Halifax.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:05 p.m.

NDP

Megan Leslie NDP Halifax, NS

Madam Speaker, it is interesting that the Conservative government came forward with an innovation and productivity agenda. It is a bit rich considering that the government recently let Nortel collapse, a company that did the bulk of R and D in the private sector in this country and actually made Canada a leader in telecommunications.

Now that Nortel will potentially declare bankruptcy under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, I would love to hear if the member would be willing to support our Nortel bill, which would solve this problem, put pensioners ahead of the line when it comes to a company that has declared bankruptcy and ensure their pensions are protected.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.

Conservative

Kelly Block Conservative Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, SK

Madam Speaker, we have consulted with Canadians across this great country and what we heard is that they want their government to continue to focus on the economy and to create jobs. Our new budget is about jobs and growth.

Over the long term, balancing the budget is essential to economic growth and job creation, which is why we will implement a clear three-point plan to return to a balanced budget. First, we will follow through with the exit strategy built into the economic action plan. Second, we will take action to ensure that government lives within its means. Third, we will conduct a comprehensive review of government administrative functions and overhead costs.

Our government intends to be a partner in our economic recovery, not an obstacle to growth.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.

Conservative

Merv Tweed Conservative Brandon—Souris, MB

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the comments the member has made. There is a real contrast between what the government is saying and what the opposition is saying on this budget. Many of them are talking about raising Canadians' taxes and spending more money.

I would ask the member for Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar to tell us what the differences are between the government of today and the Liberal Party of tomorrow.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.

Conservative

Kelly Block Conservative Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, SK

Madam Speaker, our Conservative government believes that the private sector, not the public sector, should be the primary source of jobs and economic growth. Everyday Canadians depend on healthy businesses for their jobs, which is why we are proposing to make Canada a tariff-free zone for manufacturers, an initiative—

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

Resuming debate. The hon. member for Saint John.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.

Conservative

Rodney Weston Conservative Saint John, NB

Madam Speaker, it is a great pleasure to rise in the House today to congratulate the Minister of Finance for the fine job he has done in balancing the needs of Canadians during this time of global economic recovery with the long-term financial security of Canada.

The second phase of our government's economic action plan sets out a real and achievable plan to solidify Canada's economic recovery. By investing in key stimulus projects, which deliver the necessary infrastructure to our communities, our budget is enabling economic growth and creating jobs for today and tomorrow.

Canada is on track to recover faster than the rest of the world and in better financial condition, with its manageable debt levels and a workforce that is better prepared. Our Conservative government is leading the way in the global economic recovery and our government's insight and understanding of what makes our economy work will be recognized in the future as we move ahead of all other countries.

Canadians have a record of which they can be proud. We have the lowest debt to GDP ratio in the G8. Canada's decline in the real GDP was virtually the smallest of all G8 countries. Our Canadian labour markets have fared much better than that of the U.S., where job losses are proportionally three times larger than Canada's. Canada's banks and other financial institutions were better capitalized and less leveraged than their international peers and we are widely acknowledged as having the soundest banking system in the world. Canada's housing market has not seen the excesses that have caused instability and housing bubbles in other jurisdictions.

Our government has navigated Canadians through the worst global recession since the depression. Now, looking to the future, Canadians are depending on our government to put forward a plan to address the challenges that communities are now facing as our economy begins to recover. That is exactly what the second phase of our economic action plan sets out to do.

Phase two will help solidify Canada's economic recovery by implementing $19 billion in new stimulus funding to create jobs now. It includes personal income tax relief of $3.2 billion, retraining and worker support of over $4 billion, infrastructure funding of $7.7 billion, research and development funding of over $1.9 billion and targeted support to industries and communities of $2.2 billion. Canadians will respond. We will lead the world in our recovery because our government has targeted resources to jobs now and for the future.

The budget creates and protects jobs. It sustains Canada's economic advantage and lays a strong foundation for the future by supporting workers. We are investing $100 million to extend the maximum length for work-sharing agreements. We are helping younger workers by offering over $100 million in support to young workers through internship and skills development to help them find jobs.

We are investing in research and development. We are delivering over $600 million to help develop and attract high-quality jobs, to strengthen our capacity for world leading research and development and to improve the commercialization of research.

We are working with the manufacturing sector, making Canada a tariff-free zone for manufacturing inputs to boost new investment in job creation. We are supporting businesses by establishing a red tape reduction panel to reduce the paperwork for businesses.

The budget did not leave any part of the country out. Our Conservative government's ongoing commitment to strengthen all regions of the country is apparent in our economic action plan.

While the Liberals starved the provinces and municipalities of the much needed support during their time in office, our Conservative government has increased transfers to provinces. In New Brunswick alone, we are seeing $1.6 billion through equalization, an increase of $233 million since 2005-06, $580 million through the Canada health transfer, an increase of $23 million from last year alone, and $246 million in social transfers, an increase of $34 million over 2005-06.

On behalf of all New Brunswickers, we are pleased. We will continue to receive increased federal support through budget 2010. Total transfers will hit $2.7 billion, an increase of $591 million under the old Liberal government. This long-term support will help ensure that New Brunswick has the resources to provide essential public services, such as health care, post-secondary education and many other social services.

New Brunswick has been well served by this budget and will receive many other benefits from it. Local communities and businesses in New Brunswick will benefit from the $28 million provided to support the operations of ferry services in Atlantic Canada, including the route between Saint John, New Brunswick and Digby, Nova Scotia.

Communities and businesses in New Brunswick will benefit from the $19 million per year in ongoing funding for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency to support regional growth and innovation through the Atlantic innovation fund and the innovative communities fund, allowing people to earn more income before paying federal income taxes and before being subjected to higher income tax rates. We are working on enhancing the working income tax benefit, which reduces the welfare wall, by making work pay better for many low income Canadians and higher child care benefits for parents and lower taxes for low and middle-income seniors.

There are $32 million per year for federal research granting councils to support advanced research and improve commercialization, $8 million per year to support the indirect costs of federally sponsored research at post-secondary institutions, $15 million a year to double the budget of the college and community innovation program, which fosters research collaborations between businesses and college researchers and the creation of the new Canada post-doctoral fellowship program to help attract the best researchers to Canada.

Forestry companies in New Brunswick could be eligible for the next generation renewable power initiative, which will invest $100 million over the next four years to support the development, commercialization and implementation of advanced clean energy technologies for the forestry sector.

New Brunswick will also receive $12 million as its share of the community development trust and the police officers recruitment fund and $11 million for labour market training as part of the commitment of $500 million a year in new funding to provinces and territories, beginning in 2008-09.

Our government has held true to its commitment of stimulating economic growth and creating and protecting jobs and this is continued in the second phase of our economic action plan.

The budget also sets out to meet another commitment, reducing the deficit. Our government is planning for the future by initiating the three point plan to reduce the deficit once the economy recovers.

The government will undertake a comprehensive review of government administrative functions and overhead costs by winding down extraordinary stimulus spending in Canada's economic action plan on time and as scheduled, restraining government spending through targeted measures and launching a comprehensive review of government spending on administration and overhead.

Canada cannot afford a tax and spend approach to managing government. I am proud to be a member of a governing party that keeps its commitment to fund key projects required by all regions of our country, while planning for the future with job creation and sound financial controls. This budget shows Canadians that we can be the best, that we can manage without mortgaging the future.

The extensive consultations of the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance across Canada have proven to be beneficial, with a focused advantageous budget that will help our provinces, municipalities, businesses and, more important, our people. I am very pleased that the Prime Minister chose to come to my riding to gain insight into what Canadians were thinking in preparing the budget and we see a lot of that message reflected in this document.

I am thankful for this opportunity to speak on a budget that will see our country so well positioned for the future.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Madam Speaker, I listened to the member for Saint John, New Brunswick say how proud he was. I think the people of New Brunswick had better understand. With previous Liberal governments, the money was spent on innovation and development. When the Conservatives came to power, they cancelled that. It was not borrowed money. The member talked about all the wonderful numbers. People should understand that this is the biggest deficit in Canadian history after the previous budget, which was the biggest spending budget in Canadian history. The money the member talks about is borrowed from our children and grandchildren.

The Minister of Finance's prediction is not even living in the land of reality in terms of it going to be paid back by growth. The money the member talks about has not been put out in a responsible way because it has been borrowed from our children and our grandchildren.

However, I have a specific question for the member. The government has talked for a long time about the Atlantic gateway. Funds were to be put in place to build key infrastructure for the movement of goods in and out of Canada, which would involve all three maritime provinces. Where is the money? The advisory committee tells us there are no funds in place for the Atlantic gateway. Is it another broken promise? Why is that money not in this budget?

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

Conservative

Rodney Weston Conservative Saint John, NB

Madam Speaker, I rather enjoyed the lecture from the member for Malpeque.

The member for Malpeque spoke a lot about borrowed money. He should know very well about borrowed money. When he talked about the surpluses of his government, that was borrowed money all right. It was borrowed from the health care of Canadians. It was borrowed from the education plans of Canadians. It was borrowed from the provinces and the seniors.

The audacity of the member is unbelievable, to stand in the House and lecture our government. We are working with the provinces and the municipalities to fund the social needs of the provinces and the infrastructure needs of the municipalities. For the member to stand in the House and lecture us is unreal and unbelievable.

The member asked about the Atlantic gateway. I can speak to the Atlantic gateway from a New Brunswick context. We have seen many examples of increasing the benefits of the Atlantic gateway.

It was not all that long ago that the Prime Minister was in New Brunswick and we opened the third border crossing, a new border crossing between St. Stephen and Calais. I was pleased to be at that event. Yesterday the Government of New Brunswick announced a program for twinning the highway to that border crossing. These are great examples of the Atlantic gateway.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, 800,000 workers are on employment insurance and are about to run out of benefits. There are no jobs for these people to go to. The government says the economy is going to grow by 2.6% in 2010, but it has to do at least that. The working age population is growing at over 1% per year.

The budget's unemployment projection shows jobless rates increasing this year to 8.5% and falling very slowly after that, which is an admission that the job creation efforts have failed.

What were these corporate tax cuts that the members are talking about then, when in fact they are not going to show the results that the member is suggesting?