Mr. Speaker, I could begin my speech by confidently making a statement about which I am now absolutely certain, to wit: parliamentary democracy is now a thing of the past in Canada's Parliament.
Omnibus bills, reflecting an almost obscene form of grandstanding, have become a habit in the House of Commons, like gag orders, I might add. That is why I am not all that happy about taking the floor in the House for a second time to speak about the second omnibus budget implementation bill, Bill C-45.
On the other hand, I am pleased to be able to stand up for my constituents, because I believe that it is important for them to be aware of the government's sabotage. It is sabotaging our social programs, our regions, our employment insurance, the quality of our food, our environment, and our international reputation. I could go on about its sabotage for the next 10 minutes of my speech. That is more or less what I will do, but in greater detail.
Just as Bill C-38 went beyond implementation of the 2012 budget by making many other previously unannounced changes, we find ourselves once again dealing with a bill that goes far beyond simply implementing a budget. Much too far. We said so in May when the Trojan horse bill was forced through, and we are saying it again today: this is not an acceptable way of doing things in this House, in a democratic system. I will always speak out in this House against such practices.
Bill C-45 is 450 pages long and contains clauses that concern a host of disparate measures. It amends more than 60 acts. Needless to say, the bill also assigns more power to ministers. This worrisome Conservative penchant for concentrating power is proceeding apace. Bill C-45 eliminates some commissions to allow ministers to make more decisions without consultation and without having to answer to anyone.
It is also important to speak out about the weakening of our environmental protection measures, and of our ability to ensure sustainable development for future generations. I am really concerned that they could not care less about the next generation.
Bill C-45 also destroys the Navigable Waterways Protection Act and takes the teeth out of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. The Conservatives did not even allow the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development to study these changes, even though they will have a major impact on our environment.
The Minister of Transport likes to repeat ad nauseam that navigable waterways and the environment are two different things, but the fact is that there are fish in the water! They need protection because they are part of our ecosystem. And while it may be true that they are two different things, in the end, they go together.
Bill C-45 also proposes major changes to the Canada Grain Act. These changes, made without consulting anyone, will have a major impact on Canadian grain producers.
I will not discuss the proposed amendments to avoid any slips of the tongue, but will say instead that the government's amendments, drawn up without any consultations, make it more difficult for producers to challenge grain classification or weight decisions made by private grain producers. It is clear that this will be very harmful to the grain trade and small producers.
The Conservatives had assured us that Bill C-45 would hold no surprises. And yet, the 2012 budget did not say a thing about this. After reducing the powers of the Canadian Wheat Board and making budget cuts to AgriStability payments, the Conservatives have made it clear that they do not want to help farmers.
My riding is considered the larder of Quebec, and farming is everywhere.
Farmers in my riding are worried about the extent to which the government is ignoring and refusing to help them. And yet, they are the people who feed us all. Could they not be given at least a little recognition? That is the least the government could do for them.
Yet again, the Conservatives are trying to rush legislative measures through Parliament, keeping Canadians in the dark and not allowing them to learn more about them. In this bill, they go so far as to considerably reduce their own responsibilities. But governments have responsibilities. It seems to me that my colleagues across the way still do not know that. We have been working with this government for a year and a half, and I have yet to see them shoulder any responsibility for anything.
The government is also saying that the bill will create jobs. However, I have something to tell the House: according to the Parliamentary Budget Officer, the budget will lead to the loss of 43,000 jobs. Some job creation! We might return to the topic when some jobs have actually been created.
In reality, the budget would lead to a major hike in the unemployment rate, with fewer and fewer workers eligible for employment insurance. The main job creation measure in the bill is the introduction of a temporary hiring tax credit for small businesses. This is a measure we could support, because it is like motherhood. However, it only gives employers a maximum tax credit of $1,000 on their new employment insurance payments. That is not a lot. Even funnier, or even more ironic, the tax credit is available to employers for the 2012 tax year, even though 2012 has already ended. The 2012 year is ending now.
We just spoke about jobs. We might now talk about how poverty, homelessness and perhaps even housing. According to the Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada, 4 million Canadians, 750,000 of them children, are coping with pressing housing needs. By this we mean that their housing is too small, dirty and expensive, and that they cannot pay for it. Not only that, but between 150,000 and 300,000 Canadians currently live in the street.
Earlier, I spoke about the fact that the government must assume its responsibilities. The 2012 budget implementation bill does not contain any measures for housing or the fight against poverty. In my opinion, this is completely unacceptable. Yet, major institutions, such as the Wellesley Institute and the Canadian Federation of Municipalities have sounded the alarm several times. In the run up to the last budget, these organizations called on the federal government to invest money in housing. Obviously, nothing was done.
Housing is a crucial issue for families, people without families and seniors, a high-risk group. Seniors occupy one third of social housing units, and a third of them risked losing their housing as a result of the cutbacks the government has made over recent years. A lot of seniors and families are also at risk of losing their affordable housing because the long-term operating agreements between the federal government and housing co-operatives will not be renewed.
Once again, the government is not playing a leadership role. The NDP will focus its efforts on the real priorities of Canadian families: jobs, health care, pensions, environmental protection, the fight against poverty, agriculture, and the protection of workers. We have a plan to improve health care, to better reward those that create jobs, and to strengthen seniors' benefits. We also want to work in a transparent manner.
Unfortunately, the Conservatives are continuing to demonstrate that they are more interested in imposing their agenda than in being accountable to Canadians. Worse still, they have chosen to perpetuate an unsustainable situation. In our northern country, people are living in the streets and families must choose between paying their rent and feeding their children. The country is placing no importance on the environment and is jeopardizing the health of future generations with impunity. Canada is sabotaging assistance programs for people in need and is not at all concerned about the first nations.
It is high time that the government assume its responsibilities and play a leadership role in order to make our nation a land that welcomes people and a place where people want to live.