Mr. Speaker, the member for Burnaby—New Westminster is a hard act to follow. I always learn a lot from what the member has to say. I think we all do.
This past weekend I had the pleasure, as did many of the residents of Halifax, the south shore, Bridgewater and Queen's County, of speaking with the member for Burnaby--New Westminster. He talked at some length with us on Friday night and again on Saturday afternoon about what he and the official opposition thought needed to be done with respect to the economy. He also talked at some length about the wrong-headed priorities of the Conservative government, which we found to be quite interesting.
He and I also took the opportunity to listen to a number of constituents. They talked about some of their concerns with respect to the economy and some of the things they were doing.
A business development officer from Lunenburg-Queens talked about how the economy of that region is changing and what people are doing to try to deal with those changes. He talked about what could be done at the federal level by the government, or by the NDP government that will be formed in 2015, in order to properly support the south shore of Nova Scotia and other communities throughout the country.
The people who attended those meetings were very comfortable with the information. They were inspired by the member for Burnaby—New Westminster. I thank him for that.
The report of the Standing Committee on Finance is on the prebudget consultations. As the member for Burnaby—New Westminster mentioned, there is a minority report attached to the report. The official opposition members on the committee did not think that the majority report properly reflected some concerns. Some ideas and concerns that witnesses had were not properly reflected in the report, and therefore, opposition members on the committee presented a minority report.
It was an important consultation. It gave Canadians an opportunity to bring to the attention of the committee important issues that affect the economy, their communities and families. There is no question that the consultation was a good thing.
We go through the prebudget consultation process to inform the House, the Minister of Finance and his officials about what Canadians think should be reflected in the budget. However, after that happened, the Prime Minister of this country, while on a sojourn across the water to attend a think-tank session in Davos, Switzerland, announced that a critical program for seniors in this country was going to be changed. I do not know what he was drinking at the time, pop or Chardonnay or whatever, but he mentioned it in passing.
The committee had already heard from senior citizens. The committee had already talked to seniors. While it is not reflected in the main report, in the minority report we talk about senior Canadians' concerns about income security and the lack thereof when they reach retirement. WIthout question it is a very serious concern. Had they known that the government was going to change the OAS, which preponderantly advantages low-income seniors, they would have been outraged. They would have lined up to attend the meetings that were held across the country.
What troubles me is this facade of having consultations. We ask Canadians to contribute to this chamber's understanding of their concerns and what we should do. Then the government unilaterally announces what it is going to do, and it is going to affect hundreds of thousands of seniors across the country.
Another example is health care. It is fundamental to the lives of Canadians and the success of many organizations and businesses in this country. The Minister of Finance unilaterally announced to the first ministers of the provinces what the funding formula is going to be over the next number of years. There was no discussion or consultation. There was no talk about how the government is going to work with the provinces in order to ensure that health care is not only maintained but restored, reinvigorated, modernized and properly funded. On an issue which is very important to the people of Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, the people in all of Nova Scotia, indeed the people across the country, there was no attempt to have those discussions. The finance minister and the government unilaterally determined that they were going to make this funding change.
Once again, outside of the prebudget consultations, this information was announced and blindsided Canadians. Without question, it causes us some concern.
Another thing that happened this week was the government's attack on veterans. The member for Sackville—Eastern Shore moved a motion to ensure that the programs and services to support the women and men who represent, fight for and defend our country are not cut. The government did not support the motion.
I am sufficiently troubled about this that I would suggest the government and members of the House need some time to reflect. Therefore, I move:
That the House do now adjourn.