Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to a budget which impacts my constituents in Brampton—Springdale and many Canadians across the country.
In attending numerous events in my constituency, meeting with many Bramptonians, both men and women, in their workplaces, listening to seniors in seniors homes and visiting with children at schools, I have had the opportunity to hear first-hand of their needs and their priorities.
The past few years have been a very difficult time for many families in Brampton. Brampton based companies, such as Nortel, Saputo and Chrysler have closed their doors. Other small and medium-sized businesses have also struggled. The impact has been felt by many men and many women who were employed at those companies.
There are men and women who have been let go and others who have been laid off. There have been seniors and many of the people who have been laid off who have been forced to make that choice between filling up the fridge, the medicine cabinet or their gas tank.
Many of those families that have struggled in the past few years are looking for opportunities for themselves to ensure they can put bread and butter on the table. They are looking for opportunities to ensure their children have the very best in education, resources, tools and skills they need to succeed. Then there are new Canadians who are looking for opportunities, the opportunity to contribute, to build a better Brampton and a greater and stronger country. Also seniors out there want to have the opportunity to age with dignity and respect.
I think all Bramptonians, like all Canadians, are looking for that better hope for tomorrow and a brighter future. This is why the budget implementation bill brought forward by the government is so incredibly important. It is important to those Bramptonians who are struggling to be heard and those individuals who are the vulnerable.
Let us take a look at the areas in the automotive and manufacturing sectors, both crucial to the economy of Brampton and Brampton families. When Chrysler closed its doors, over 2,000 men and women lost their jobs overnight.
It was amazing to see how the community came together in this time of need. The Chrysler Action Centre was opened for the men and women who had just lost their jobs. The union showed its leadership. Chrysler took leadership. The provincial government also took leadership in opening the centre, which provided resources such as resume writing and job finding for those who had lost their jobs.
They were also looking for leadership in that time of need from the federal government. The budget claims to have created many jobs, but the fact is the country has lost almost 300,000 jobs. Look at our unemployment rates, which continue to rise.
Just a few weeks ago in my riding, Saputo, Canada's largest cheese maker, announced its decision to close its plant. The result is 190 Bramptonians are out of jobs. These are hard-working families that are looking for hope and for the opportunity to give back.
We must ensure that as these people struggle in this recession, there is the opportunity to provide them with job security for the future and with the resources and the skills they will need to find new jobs.
This global recession really knows no boundaries or barriers. A demographic that has often been forgotten is our young people. This recession affected everybody. We only have to take a look at the unemployment stats for young people aged 15 to 24, which reached a record high in 2009 of 20%, the highest jobless rate since 1977.
A report of the Community Foundations of Canada, called “Canada's Vital Signs 2009”, provides insight into the dire situation young people face. The normally lucrative summer months for these young people was 30 hours. It now is down to 23.4 hours. We must ensure these young people have the opportunity to go to university or college. They need that employment during the summer months.
Investing in education, investing in our young people is really about investing in our country's future economic prosperity and productivity. No government can turn a blind eye to young people. We must ensure they have the opportunity to get the educations they desire. As Canada moves forward, we must base the opportunity to go to college and university not on the pocketbook but on the desires and passions of students.
Another challenge we have faced is the issue of infrastructure. Communities like Brampton, one of the fastest growing cities in the country, put forward a number of projects for which they needed funding assistance from the federal government. We heard during the Speech from the Throne and budget 2009 that funds were committed but many of those funds had not been spent.
Out of $2 billion for the infrastructure stimulus fund, $874 million were unspent. Out of $200 million for the green infrastructure fund, $186 million were unspent. The list goes on. Money unspent means projects have not started, which mean people do not have the opportunity to work.
The government needs to act to help Bramptonians who are looking for those jobs. If the projects Brampton had put forward had been implemented, it would have created an estimated 21,000 jobs for Bramptonians who lost their jobs in the past few years.
Then there is the issue of health care. In many ways Brampton's new civic hospital has been leading edge both in terms of technology and the provision of services. However, there still continues to be a challenge faced by not only for my constituents but by many people across the country, and that is the issue of wait times.
Looking at the statistics of Brampton Civic Hospital, individuals with complex conditions are having to wait 17.5 hours versus the average of 13.6 hours. We realize much work needs to be done in the area of health care. People are looking to the federal government for leadership on this issue.
As a health care provider, I have had the opportunity to see first-hand the challenges encountered in our health care system. There is the issue of wait times, as well as the shortage of doctors. We must ensure we provide Canadians with access to doctors, specialists and nurses. We must invest in health human resources to ensure that every Canadian, regardless of where one lives in Canada, or the amount of money one makes or one's socio-economic status, has the opportunity to receive the very best in health care. It is the hallmark of our great country.
I also want to touch upon the issue of poverty. Poverty is a growing concern in my riding. People look at the medium income of almost $80,000 and think my riding must be doing very well. The fact is the issue between those who have and those who have less continues to grow.
The issue of poverty is increasing and impacting many individuals. Many low-income and single-parent families are living too close to the poverty line. People like Edna Toth with the Peel Poverty Action Group have done incredible work to raise awareness.
We must ensure, as we move forward, that the federal government once again takes leadership and puts together a national housing strategy. We are one of the only industrialized countries in the world that does not have a national housing strategy.
There are many issues to discuss and many challenges being faced by constituents, Bramptonians and Canadians. I hope the government will take this opportunity to examine these challenges and work in a co-operative and collaborative manner to ensure Canadians get the changes they need and, most important, the hope for a better future and brighter tomorrow. We must ensure that every man, child, woman and senior in Canada are given the resources, skills and tools needed to succeed. When Canadians succeed, our country succeeds.