Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Essex for agreeing to share his time with me. I am pleased to rise on behalf of the Bloc Québécois to speak to Bill C-3, An Act to implement certain provisions of the 2011 budget as updated on June 6, 2011, introduced on June 14. The bill consists of 12 parts, one of which is very attractive for Quebec. I am talking about part 8, which directly concerns Quebec and its government, since it provides a payment of $368.9 million for equalization.
That is just one more reason for me and my Bloc Québécois colleagues to support this budget, especially since it already provides $2.2 billion in compensation for our sales tax harmonization. Of course, we could not pass that up. I have been a member in this House for seven years now, and this will probably be the third time I have voted in favour of a budget. Every time, the only reason I voted for it was because it was in the best interests of Quebeckers. The people of Quebec have sent us to the House of Commons to represent their interests, to stand up for them. When budget 2006 provided $3.3 billion in 2006 for the fiscal imbalance, voting against it was out of the question. For the same reason, we will support this budget here today.
With any budget, we must be careful. The government will always say that its budget is perfect, that all of the measures are wonderful and that there are no shortcomings, while the opposition will find everything that is wrong with it, criticize the measures and always say that it does not go far enough. In the House, we must take stock and weigh the pros and cons of a budget before voting. In this case, there are a number of shortcomings in the budget, and I will perhaps have time to list a few of them. However, in weighing the pros and cons, members from Quebec cannot, in good conscience, vote against a budget like this. Members will recall the long battle waged by the Bloc Québécois and the Government of Quebec regarding the $2.2 billion for tax harmonization.
The Government of Quebec harmonized its sales tax with that of the federal government in 1992. However, only Ontario, the Maritimes and British Columbia received several billion dollars in compensation, while Quebec was left waiting, supposedly for administrative reasons. I am wondering why the federal government did not act before now, particularly since this measure was in the budget before the election was called; the Bloc Québécois would have immediately supported the budget. The Conservative government, a minority government at that time, would then have been assured that it would keep its place. We likely would not have had an election, as we unfortunately did over these past few months. Everyone was saying that an election costs a lot of money and that it was the fault of the opposition. The Conservative government had the opportunity to prevent an election. We can look back and replay the past but it does not do much good.
As a result of pressure from the Bloc Québécois and the Government of Quebec, an announcement was made during the election campaign that $2.2 billion in compensation would be allocated in the budget. I am not the type to be content with the answer that the cheque is in the mail. We therefore waited to see whether that money would be in the budget, in black and white. It is, and we are very happy about it.
However, like the hon. member for Essex, I question the reaction of the NDP MPs from Quebec who have decided to ignore the measure giving Quebec $2.2 billion in compensation. This measure will help not only the Government of Quebec, but all Quebeckers. The NDP MPs have decided not to support the budget. They will have to answer for their actions and explain to their constituents why they disregarded this measure by voting against the budget.
The hon. member mentioned some examples from his own region, where the MPs also decided not to support the budget. It is an entirely democratic choice, but I was rather shocked to see that many of the NDP MPs from Quebec decided to reject this measure.
There are other interesting measures, including some for seniors, namely $300 million to help seniors living in poverty. The measure having to do with the guaranteed income supplement is a step in the right direction.
That is another lengthy battle we waged in the House. The Bloc Québécois moved a number of motions to improve the guaranteed income supplement. The math is not hard: another $110 a month is needed to lift the least fortunate out of poverty. It is not going to make them rich. Now there is talk of $50 a month; the necessary amount has not been reached, but I have to say that at least this is a step in the right direction for the least fortunate seniors.
As the member for Richmond—Arthabaska, this also makes me want to vote in favour of the budget. That is not to say that the battle is over, that we can sit back and finally say that the guaranteed income supplement issue has been resolved. It is not resolved, especially since there is a shortfall of $60 a month and we also want—