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House of Commons Hansard #105 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

Financial statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11:15 a.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Madam Speaker, I thank you for picking up on the fact that she had mentioned the member by his name. It is important that we do respect this and I appreciate your input.

Financial statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11:20 a.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

Does the hon. member have the unanimous consent of the House?

Financial statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11:20 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Financial statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11:20 a.m.

NDP

Jinny Sims NDP Newton—North Delta, BC

Why don't they want to have these tabled?

Financial statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11:20 a.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

It is very strange, Madam Speaker. We will have to explain the Conservative reluctance to have all these emails, tweets, postings on Facebook and the faxes flooding in to our offices across the country tabled in the House. That shows we were right. Rather than sitting and letting the Conservatives churn out their manufactured Prime Minister's office talking notes, we are ensuring that the points of view of Canadian families, seniors and workers are put forward in the House of Commons. Obviously the Conservatives are not willing to do that.

I will keep going, ensuring that those views of Canadians are represented here. This is not our House. It is not a Conservative House. It is not an NDP House. It is the House of Commons. It is the House of the people of Canada. Their points of view should be expressed, heard and understood on the floor of the House of Commons. I find it very difficult to understand why the Conservatives are so reluctant to have those views expressed and to have them tabled.

As my colleague, the member for Newton—North Delta so eloquently said, and as my colleague, the member for Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing said, these are points of view that the Conservatives should be reading. They should not be just listening to me, to NDP members putting them forward. They should be reading them. They should be understanding how Canadians are reacting to their budget and they should be saying that since they have made some very clear violations of solid commitments that the Prime Minister made in the last election campaign, that maybe they should redo the budget that is keeping their commitment to the Canadian people, rather than the attacking and slashing of a wide variety of programs we have mentioned.

I will continue to read into the record a few more comments that have come from young Canadians. This is from another individual from the region of Halifax-Dartmouth, who says, “I am 18 years old, finishing high school in June. I was one of the volunteers going to participate in the July-December group. I've been preparing and looking forward to this for a while now. This would be my first time leaving home for this long. I would meet new people, make new friends and get a large amount of life experience that I just can't get elsewhere, and all the while, changing a community in my country of Canada for the better. Doing this would help me change my outlook on things and help me to fix problems with self-esteem and confidence. I planned my future around it.

When I heard that the funding was cut, I was devastated. I was counting on Katimavik to help with my resumé and employment options to show that I am willing to volunteer, that I am independent and have experience working as a team. As of right now, I have no idea what I am going to do with the next year of my life. I could work. There are few options for work where I live. Please bring back Katimavik. Give it the funding it needs so me and so many other Canadians can experience what it has to offer and make us better citizens”.

This is yet another voice of another young Canadian asking the government to listen to their voices, to listen about their concerns about the future, about a 15% youth unemployment rate, with all of the doors that the government has closed to post-secondary education, making it one of the least accessible education systems among industrialized countries. After closing all those doors to youth, the Conservatives closed off the final program.

We find that despicable. Canadian youth deserve much better.

This is another comment from a young man, again from the Sackville region of Nova Scotia. He says, “I was shocked and saddened to see the Conservatives' plan to cut the Katimavik youth volunteer program. We, the Canadian citizens, need our MPs to fight this decision and save Katimavik and so many other programs from the chopping block”.

Another comment comes from the island of Montreal. It reads, “I am writing to you to ask you to please help fight for the continued funding of the Katimavik program. The government has said that the program reaches a relatively small number of participants at a relatively high cost per participant. I hope from my example you can see that this is not the case. You see, I was a Katimavik participant 10 years ago, when I was 20 years old. I had completed a college degree and was working for minimum wage. To be honest, I didn't have much direction in my life at the time and so my family signed me up for Katimavik. I thought about the places I would travel to. I was excited. And what started as an excuse to travel the country, transformed the person I am, the person I want to be and my aspirations for the country”.

The person goes on to talk about growing up in a suburb of Toronto and not having been outside of an urban-suburban setting. However, this person lived in three different communities across the country, ranging from a small town of 500 people to a large town of 45,000 people and in a very multicultural dynamic with Canadians from across the country, including four Quebeckers and one native Inuit.

Another constituent from Richmond Hill, Ontario says, “Together, we learned to appreciate the differences between us, and 10 years later, it's clear to me that this is not something that a majority of people have a chance to appreciate. But it is critical for us to work in an effective, democratic society. So please, when you talk of the cost of Katimavik, please don't let it be spoken about in terms of cost per participant. By sponsoring Katimavik, the government is not just investing in a select few individuals. The government is investing in youth, investing in communities, investing in developing understanding between people of different backgrounds and investing in a future of a Canada that is full of engaged citizens. The Katimavik program is critical to maintaining these important values that I think we can all agree define us as Canadians. I can only hope that in the future the Katimavik program will be better known to all Canadians and will be able to accommodate anyone and everyone that wants to join”.

This is another voice from a young Canadian from Lower Sackville, Nova Scotia. This individual wrote to the member of Parliament, who is the member of Parliament for Sackville—Eastern Shore, the long-standing veterans affairs critic in the NDP caucus. It says, “Hello, I received an email earlier today informing me of the Katimavik project and how the funding for the program has been ended. In the email I was told that if I had an opinion, or wanted to make myself heard about this matter, to email my elected official. This is what I am doing now. This email is not for me, but for future youth who wish to sign up for this program and fail to do so for this same reason.

I have met so many people who have done this program and have come away with jobs and with new life experience that they put forward to their future careers. I work next to a group where one of them volunteered through Katimavik and years later she's back because she enjoyed the experience so much she decided to pursue that as her job. I'm stating my opinion on this as I am still counted as youth, and I'd like to make it clear that this type of cut in our government spending should never have occurred”.

I will move on to a another young Canadian voice from Edmonton, Alberta, and I would like to pay tribute again to the member for Edmonton--Strathcona, who states, “I was lucky enough to be a Katimavik participant in 2009-10. It's difficult to articulate just how much of an impact this program had on me as an individual, on my group and on the communities that we lived in. My group will always be my family, volunteering 40 hours a week individually and then evenings and weekends as a group. It did an incredible job of teaching all of us the value of hard work and perseverance.

The Government of Canada has attempted to justify its termination of the program with numbers. They say it costs too much for so few people, $45 million this past year for 1,000 participants, but what they fail to recognize is the number of people in all of the participating communities that this program has helped. My group was sent to Kamloops, British Columbia, London, Ontario and Dieppe, New Brunswick. I can honestly say that there are very few programs which foster national unity, cultural understanding and civic engagement as effectively as Katimavik, beside the basic life skills which we were all forced to develop along the way, neo-planning, event planning, budgeting, cooking, cleaning, etc. The grassroots impact of this program is unbelievable. Because of this program, I've learned to listen to others and consider that every opinion and every voice deserves to be heard”.

It would be wise to send all those Conservative MPs on Katimavik. They could actually learn listening skills and all the other things. As the individual said, “I've learned to listen to others and consider that every opinion and every voice deserves to be heard”. That is certainly the way we stand in the NDP, yet Conservatives do not seem to share that. Maybe that is why they are cutting the program. It is that respect to which they seem to be opposed.

Another young individual says, “I learned to speak French from my best friend in the program because it was no longer a subject in school. It was a way of understanding the points of view presented by my group mates. French was no longer a textbook. It became a face, a friend, a piece of me and a piece of my identity as a Canadian. By becoming involved in our community placements through our volunteer work, we became a part of our communities. Kamloops, B.C., London, Ontario, Dieppe, New Brunswick will always be a kind of home for me and I beg that Canadians listen to my story and the story of other participants and billet families and community partners, for if you do, you will hear the voices of thousands of Canadians who not only embrace this program but desperately need it.

The first photo which I've included in this package is one from the second month my group and I had been together, our first Christmas away from home. We decided to take pictures in ugly Christmas sweaters we found in a local thrift shop. Two months together and we already knew that we had a bond which could never be forgotten. This is my team and I will always be there for them no matter how many years separate us from the program and no matter how many kilometres separate us from each other”.

These are the kind of heartfelt expressions we are getting from young people across the country, from every province, region and community. They are all saying together, with one voice, not to cut Katimavik and that this program should never have been cut. Like so many other things that were cut in this budget, Canada's youth deserve better than what the government put forward in cutting Katimavik.

I will read another one in English and then I will read other emails that we have received in French.

This from British Columbia. This individual is writing to his NDP MP, the fabulous member of Parliament for New Westminster—Coquitlam, a strong representative. He says, “I have one very disappointed 19-year-old son this week. After several months of conscientiously preparing and submitting documentation for Katimavik, my son learned in an email that the federal government thought, in its wisdom, to cancel the funding for the program in the latest budget. I guess the concept of youth community service was simply too hard to bear for this reigning government”.

“I certainly understand the government's need to balance the budget, but honestly, encouraging the next generation of Canadians to develop their independence and citizenship and community service seems to me to be a budget priority well spent. The government thinks that it is a waste of money. Perhaps they can tell us why. The government wants to save Canadians money but perhaps simplification of the current tax system could help. I have personally discovered that there is a whole variety of complex and ambiguous exceptions within Revenue Canada and I have spent thousands of dollars of my time figuring out all of this complexity. Although I have never been a very political person over the years, I generally find myself increasingly drawn to the NDP vision for a kinder responsible government. I would hope that the official opposition NDP will challenge this destruction of Katimavik or at least identify alternatives for Canadian youth like my son over the coming months.”

We certainly will do exactly that. We will continue to fight the cuts to Katimavik.

There are other people speaking out. These comments are coming in from across Canada.

There is Ms. Allard, a woman from the riding of Honoré-Mercier, which is represented by a solid New Democrat. Ms. Allard says:

I am writing in reaction to the budget that was brought down today. I am just a student. I am not usually interested in politics. In fact, I rarely get involved. I get involved only when it is necessary, and today it is necessary.

The government has decided to stop funding the Katimavik youth program after 35 years. Katimavik is a program that allows youths between 17 and 21 to have an unforgettable experience.

Through that experience, the young people visit Canada, get involved in volunteer activities and participate in community life in the places they are assigned to.

Enough generalities. Let me tell you about my personal experience. I had the opportunity to participate in Katimavik from September 2008 to June 2009. Those nine months were not at all a holiday. As a young 17-year-old, I experienced highs and lows. But I survived; better yet, I grew up (yes, I will trot out that cliché). I lived in Ontario, Nova Scotia and Quebec. I worked with people from all over Canada and from various backgrounds: the young country girl from Ontario and the girl off the reserve in Saskatchewan, the city boy from downtown Toronto. All these people helped me learn about this beautiful country of which I am a citizen. Thanks to this program, thanks to the people I met, I am no longer self-absorbed and I take into consideration the reality of the people around me, the people who do not necessarily live as I do. Furthermore, the volunteer work helps the communities chosen. A number of organizations survive thanks to these volunteers. Every one of us can change the world. Katimavik empowers youth and helps them realize that this is not a cliché; it is true.

In general, Katimavik truly helps shape the citizens of tomorrow. It must continue to receive funding.

[Mr. Prime Minister], eliminating funding for Katimavik not only cuts help for communities, but also hinders the development of Canada's young people.

That is the voice of Ms. Allard in the riding of Honoré-Mercier. She is very eloquent when she talks about the importance of keeping the Katimavik program alive. We are all saying that Canada' youth deserve better than what this government's budget has delivered.

That is exactly right and we have heard it over and over again. Young people have told us that the program helped them to learn to respect Canada's diversity, to respect viewpoints other than their own, to listen to people and to understand them. These are all values that we need in Canada, that our youth need. We need youth who can think for themselves, who can come up with solutions and who can have a vision for the future of our country.

However, this government does not share this vision. This government absolutely refuses to have a vision for the future for young Canadians. We are saddened by this. We have a short-sighted government with a one-track mind that is so set in its ways that it is wiping an entire generation of young people off the map.

That is unacceptable. What is important is that so many voices are being raised across the country to say the same thing.

They are saying that this government lacks vision, that this government must do better for young people and that this government should not have cut vital programs for families, seniors and youth. We hope that the Conservatives will listen to these heartfelt messages from across the country.

I would like to read another message, this time from Montreal. This one says: “The government plans to eliminate the Canada School of Public Service's advanced leadership program. Once again, education is being cut. The young leaders of tomorrow cannot count on this government's support. Given the cuts that are being made to the public service and the attrition that will result in heavier workloads for fewer employees, would it not be wise to ensure that public servants have the skills they need to do their jobs? This is the Conservative government's vision: a pared-down and incompetent public service.”

This comes from a Montreal resident who is raising the types of concerns shared by people across the country.

I have another comment from a person from the riding of Hochelaga in eastern Montreal, which is also represented by a very good NDP member.

This man wrote his member of Parliament about the problems with the budget. He said: “The F-35s are going to cost tens of billions of dollars, as are the new prisons and the expenditures associated with invading Canadians' privacy. This government has lost our trust. This government seems to be even more right-wing than Sarkozy. When faced with all these facts, we have to say that this budget is not good for Canadian families.”

We wholeheartedly agree.

We are doing our best to keep up with all of the various comments pouring in from Canadians across the country. What it does show is the very close regard with which all Canadians and Canadian families are looking at this budget. That is why we are finding it difficult to keep up with providing all the comments as Canadians tweet them and put them on Facebook and in a wide variety of other places.

I will go to another Conservative riding. This comment is from a woman in Vancouver Island North from the town of Black Creek, B.C. She says, “My riding, Vancouver Island North, is one of those ridings under suspicion of electoral fraud”. She mentions the name of her Conservative MP. She goes on to say, “I have lived here for over six years now and I have yet to receive either a phone call or a written answer from my Conservative MP. I have called and I have emailed. Regardless of the subject or the number of times I have corresponded, I have still never heard from my Conservative MP directly. I thought he was supposed to represent and respond to all in his riding, not just his supporters. We have raised, a whole number of times, concerns about pieces of legislation that have come forward. It seems to me that the government, with the budget for example, seems to be thumbing their noses at all of us”.

She is hoping that the investigation into possible cases of election fraud in the riding are completed quickly because she does not believe that the ballot count was accurate.

I will now move from the west coast to the east coast to a riding in Cape Breton Island. This gentleman writes, “I have been trying to figure out how the budget will affect our fishermen. I understand that removing the fish habitat will endanger our waters. That is very bad, not just for us, but for future generations. What I don't understand is how the EI changes will affect my fishermen or the labourers that they employ. What effects will come to seasonal workers?”

I received another message from another individual on the east coast yesterday who wrote, “I am writing to thank you for the tremendous stamina and efforts today in the House. You did a great service to Canadians and I am grateful. At the end of the day today, you mentioned that you will resume tomorrow. I certainly hope that you do and hope that you can mention the two petition reports that I have attached here and possibly read a couple of the comments”.

The two petitions she mentions are “Keep Protection of Habitat in the Canada Fisheries Act”. I certainly mention that for Canadians who want to follow up on that. She also mentions “Save the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act from Further Gutting”. Those are the two petitions both in response to this budget and both with thousands of signatures.

She goes on to say, “From my personal perspective, this budget is a betrayal to Canadians and, in a broader sense, it is a betrayal to citizens everywhere. As a country that used to be respected and admired on an international scale for our decency, democracy and environmental protection and stewardship, we used to lead by example. Not any more. This budget does not respect Canadians' values or interests. It moves our nation backwards by decades, a mistake that will affect the entire planet, not just us. The reckless and expedited development of the oil sands will have a significant impact on global climate change”.

“This budget attacks youth, veterans, seniors, safe food, charitable and environmental groups, public broadcasting, agriculture, fisheries and the environment and only benefits industry and big oil. I believe that the increasing restrictions placed on scientists and the environmental movement goes against the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. My heart is heavy with the weight of what this budget, if passed, will embark upon us”. She is absolutely right. Canadians get what is in this budget. They get the attack on a whole variety of things Canadians depend on. Canadian families from coast to coast to coast deserve better than these cuts, better than these attacks by a mean-spirited government against a whole range of things that protect our quality of life.

With the passion we bring, all 102 members of this NDP official opposition caucus are determined to fight back on this budget because of the notes we are getting from people across the country and the concerns that have been raised by such a wide variety of Canadians. Canadians are right on the money about what this budget does.

When we were back in the seventh or eighth hour of debate, now in the tenth or eleventh hour, I quoted a heart-felt letter from a gentleman in Surrey, British Columbia, that brought hope to me and I hope to all of us. He is a life-long Conservative supporter who looked at the budget, read what the budget does, saw how mean-spirited it was and is now saying that people can change their way of thinking and that many of his friends and other people his age in his family are thinking differently about the government. Yes, we are passionately fighting back against all of the mean-spirited cuts that are in this budget, which repudiates everything that the Prime Minister promised.

However, we also have a profound sense of hope as we see Canadians reacting to the budget, as we see them waking up and saying, if they voted Conservative, that it was not what they voted for, as the gentleman from Surrey said so eloquently. In that hope, we know we can look forward to October 20, 2015, the day after the next general election, when it will be the first day of a new sunrise for Canada and the first day of the first NDP government in our history, because we know that will bring new change and hope to so many Canadians—

Financial statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11:45 a.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Financial statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11:50 a.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

Order, please. I would ask the hon. members to reduce the applause so the occupant of the Chair can hear the comments and that they can be read into the record. At this point, I cannot always hear the comments nor can those transcribing.

Financial statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11:50 a.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Actually, Madam Speaker, that was my fault. If they are kind enough to applaud and show so much energy 10 or 11 hours into the debate, then what you are actually suggesting to me, I think, is that I should stop talking when they are applauding. I will do that.

Financial statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11:50 a.m.

Robert Chisholm

Thank you, Madam Speaker, for that admonishment.

Financial statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11:50 a.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

I thank the Speaker for, as always, managing the House business with a great deal of dignity, tact and strength. We thank her for her service to the country in the Speaker's chair.

I have another very eloquent letter from Manitoba. We have mentioned the issue of manual labour a number of times. It was mentioned earlier when I quoted a gentleman who works with floor installers.

Yesterday we heard from a number of people from the manual trades. Manual workers wrote in because the budget talks about raising the retirement age from 65 to 67. They say that is provoking profound hardship in the lives of so many future seniors who have worked all their lives in the manual trades and whose bodies simply cannot give any more.

Earlier today I cited a profoundly eloquent letter from a constituent in the Annapolis Valley who said very clearly that, with the government's actions in raising the retirement age, she foresees many more seniors late in their lives having to go out into the blueberry fields to pick berries as a way to keep a roof over their heads. It is shameful that the government is even contemplating forcing that skyrocketing level of poverty that will become commonplace in Canada as a result of deliberate government policies.

We are hearing these eloquent augments from Canadians across the country who are just expressing themselves and they are doing it through us by emails, tweets and postings on Facebook. They are asking the government to please listen to them because what it is doing will profoundly impact their lives negatively. They are telling the government that it is forcing them to work two years longer, if they can, and, if they cannot, they will be forced to live in poverty. The government is giving them the worst of possible choices. After giving all of their lives to their community and their country, the government is raising the retirement age from 65 to 67.

Members will recall that we had the analysis that actually showed that the government is simply wrong when it says that OECD countries are raising the retirement age to 67. My NDP colleagues will recall that we were actually only talking about a handful of countries. Yes, there are some countries that have raised the retirement age, but they did not raise it from 65 to 67. They raised it from 62 or 63 to 65. Canada is off-side with the vast majority of industrialized countries in the OECD because what we are doing is out of step. Three-quarters of the countries in the OECD have 65 or under as the retirement age. Canada, under the Conservative government, is showing a disrespect to seniors that few other countries have shown.

Financial statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11:50 a.m.

Robert Chisholm

We want to hook ourselves to Greece.

Financial statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11:50 a.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

The government likes to say that Greece has done worse. Well, the government seems to be doing everything in its power to push the quality of life downward to those of other countries that we have heard about that have a worse quality of life.

This is what Manning Blair wrote to an NDP member:

You asked for our thoughts on the budget. I do not live in your riding; I am stuck with a Conservative member of Parliament and so I adopt other MPs randomly.

The first thing that strikes me is that as a 47-year-old blue-collar worker with arthritis, I have to work an extra two years. I'm really looking forward to that. I've already changed careers because driving truck is less physically demanding than construction work and I hope to hell I can keep passing the medical until I am 67 or I am really screwed.Of course, having come of age under the destruction of the Mulroney government and having had to suffer under Grant Devine in Saskatchewan and Gary Filmon in Manitoba, I kind of got off to an iffy financial start and have never really been able to save much. I have been downsized and right-sized. The OAS was about my only chance to retire at 65, thanks largely to the fiscal incompetence of Conservative federal and provincial governments. Still, I am in better shape than many. My house is paid for and I can always pick up some side work doing landscaping or landscape carpentry. That hurts like hell too when you have arthritis, which is why I quit doing it full time and started driving truck, but I can do it. Right now I am so upset that I can only do it when I get a chance. I was taught from a young age to work and make sure that I took care of myself, but this Conservative--

He does not use the word “government”. He uses a word that is unparliamentary, but we can understand his frustration.

--I am certainly not going to continue to pay for their grafts and kickbacks.

The second thing that strikes me about the budget is the continuing attack on science. I do not know exactly why the Conservatives hate science so much, but my suspicion is that it interferes both with their beliefs and their twisted instinct for short-term greed. Heck, it might just be that whatever gene makes you Conservative also--

I cannot complete the sentence, but the individual is saying that he thinks it makes one less intelligent. He went on to say:

If they fund science properly, maybe we could find out and discover a cure for Conservative--

Certainly, judging from the emails that we are getting, a lot of Canadians would like to see this. He said:

The Conservatives' hatred of science definitely shows up in this budget though. They cut funding for pure science, wanting it to be directed to feed corporate greed instead.

As he says, we need to make sure that we are investing in science. He went on to say:

Most concerning to me is global warming and the die-off that we are seeing in bees. There are other things, of course, but these are very important to me. There is nothing in this budget about dealing with the environment. The Prime Minister's continuing attack on the climate is pretty well documented and his cuts to science and reduced environmental regulation will make things even worse.

You asked for my thoughts and these are my thoughts. Keep fighting for us.

We certainly will. We will keep standing up for the Blairs of the country. There is no doubt about that.

I have another tweet hot off the press, “Many veterans of the Afghan campaign will not be eligible for OAS until 67, unlike veterans of past wars. They deserve fairness too.” We certainly support that.

All this feedback is flooding in from Canadians. I would like to read into the record emails from two residents of Victoria. I paid tribute to the member for Victoria earlier.

One individual from Victoria writes:

I am very upset about the Conservatives' 2012 budget. I feel particularly threatened by the so-called streamlining of legislative decision making around development projects and the cuts to the CBC, never mind everything that was not even touched in any significant way, education, housing, environment, transportation. I feel that the kinds of budget decisions the Conservatives are making are anti-democratic, limiting national public meetings, making decision making even further out of the reach of people, concealing the issues that would be addressed in the budget. They are selling this country out and eroding everything that Canadians that I know, we feel we stand for.

Mr. Swinden from Victoria writes:

What impacts me negatively is the fact that the government taxes OAS at 15%. What I object to as a recipient of GIS on a lower income scale is that I then have to pay the money back. This amount of money I should be able to use to afford basics like an eye care exam, a new mattress which will allow me to sleep better, and other basic essentials, not to mention dental and pharmaceutical expenses. What else I object to is that what we have is a government that is breaking its commitments. To help better balance income distribution, retirees on lower incomes should have their OAS increased, especially those living on GIS, in order to meet the rising costs of living so they could live decently and comfortably with reasonable material security.

That is another comment regarding OAS from a Canadian in Victoria, British Columbia. Moving right along, there are more comments coming in.

Ms. Hamilton from Scarborough, Ontario states:

The budget also ignored the needs of youth, especially for increased job and training opportunities and lower tuition fees, disregarded the environment by imposing time limits on environmental studies and new resource projects and providing zero leadership on environmental issues, dropping responsibility for providing leadership in health care, failing to address the fast growing gap between rich and poor, and cutting funding to the arts by strategically attacking groups that take a critical perspective on the status quo: the CBC, the National Film Board, Telefilm.

An individual from the Toronto region states that the federal budget does not address the issue of rising gas prices, particularly in Toronto. The individual also says that the government “thinks its infrastructure program is adequate. Both the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and the Canadian Urban Transit Association have called for a national strategy to invest in expanding public transit, involving the federal government, provinces and municipalities, with dedicated funding. This budget is deaf to this fact.”

My colleague from Dartmouth—Cole Harbour is wonderful at managing the paperwork. He is doing a great job.

This is another one from the metro Toronto region with respect to the budget. Ms. Blais, a small business owner, writes:

I am not happy that once again corporations receive breaks and the most vulnerable of our society, elderly, children and those in the mid and low income brackets, are the hardest hit. Canada is in the unique position now of being a world leader in human development, understanding and building a better society, but not with this government, which seems fairly bent on being another version of the U.S. Republican Party.

We are burdened with this majority government. I do not believe there is much you can do to change their minds or the road map they are determined to make. I find it frightening at best. The government is setting this country on a path that will benefit big business, but build an increasing divide between classes, effectively wiping out the middle class, and will leave our seniors in some cases to starve, while our mental health patients are placed in increasing numbers in a prison system that will not rehabilitate them. Canada was once a better country than the U.S. It is sadly becoming a poor imitation of the same.

That is the voice of another Canadian.

Again, from Victoria, British Columbia, there are a number of comments that the budget decisions made by the Conservatives are anti-democratic. They are saying that the Conservatives are limiting the national public media and taking decision making even further out of the reach of people, concealing the issues that would be addressed in the budget. That is something that so many Canadians are raising as a concern.

From the St. John's area, there is a concern about the OETC. This individual indicates that the elimination of the OETC would cause the loss of current and future Canadian higher trained, skilled workers. Many will leave our great country. Without it, a lot of Canadian companies that work in other parts of the world and bring a lot of capital back to Canada would not be able to maintain the workforce they now have. It would make it impossible for them to continue to operate in third world countries, which would be a huge loss for both Canada and the other countries involved. It would also mean that Canadian crew members working on vessels would essentially be taxed twice. Because it would reduce the effect of any job creation plans, he says that we have to stand together to keep that program. He said that to his member of Parliament, the member for St. John's South—Mount Pearl. That is yet another point that has been raised.

An individual from Edmonton, Alberta has written in to say:

I note that in tabling his March 28, 2012 budget, the federal finance minister made no mention of closing the loopholes that enable ultra-rich Canadians to avoid paying their fair share of tax. Through the use of tax havens and ambiguous tax laws, these wealthy Canadians get away with staggering sums of money that could be used to help sustain social programs and fund infrastructure renewal.

Before I get into what happened this morning, which is a key announcement that we need to come back to, I am going to read a comment that comes from the riding of Honoré-Mercier.

Here is what this woman said:

“Having looked at this week's budget, I would like to draw the following points to your attention. First of all, without a doubt, the government has shown that it is incapable of meeting the millennium development goals and is therefore completely abandoning developing countries. Dedicating 0.7% of its GDP to development assistance is a concrete measure that would help underdeveloped countries to get ahead. It is unfortunate that Canada cannot lead by example in that regard.

“Second, the government is treating us like imbeciles, wanting us to believe that it can maintain the same level of service to the public while eliminating 20,000 government jobs.

“Third, this government does not have its priorities straight, considering its decision to purchase F-35 fighter jets.

“Who are we so afraid of that the government has to buy those planes, just when it is trying to eliminate the deficit? Personally, I am not afraid of getting attacked by another country, but rather by this government—an attack on my own country.”

I would like to thank this woman from Honoré-Mercier for her letter. Of course, when the government says it can eliminate 20,000 public service positions without reducing services, that is precisely what we are refuting. This poses a serious problem.

This has just been confirmed. Job losses in the public sector will reach the same level as jobs losses in the private sector.

A few hours ago, as you know, we received an analysis by the Canadian Association of Professional Employees. According to that analysis, the 19,700 positions being cut in the public service—to which Ms. Tremblay referred—will lead to the loss of more than 40,000 jobs in the private sector. We are talking about 60,000 jobs lost in all.

We have to understand what is happening. Last fall, jobs were lost everywhere. Factories and all sorts of companies closed. We lost Mabe, Electro-Motive, Aveos—even though those people are trying to keep working—and the Brunswick mine. We lost job after job in a wide range of Canadian companies.

With Electro-Motive we lost 465 jobs; with Aveos, 2,600 jobs; with Ocean Choice International in Newfoundland—my colleague from St. John's South—Mount Pearl knows all about it—we lost hundreds of jobs. With Maple Leaf Foods, in New Brunswick, Ontario and Coquitlam, we will lose 1,550 jobs by 2013. With AstraZeneca, we lost 132 jobs; with Bick's Pickles, 150 jobs; with XL Foods in Calgary, 500 jobs; with Sunoco, 102 jobs.

Financial statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

12:10 p.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

What did the Conservatives do about this?

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12:10 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Absolutely nothing. They did absolutely nothing.

With Navistar, we lost 350 jobs; with Ford in St. Thomas, 1,100 jobs; with NewPage in Nova Scotia, 1,000 jobs. With Mabe, as I mentioned, 700 jobs will be lost by 2014.

Last fall was disastrous.

Jobs were lost across the country, including manufacturing jobs. How did the government react after all these layoffs? Did it say that services need to be maintained? No. It is going to eliminate 19,700 jobs instead. Canadian families are going to lose their livelihood, but what is more, we are losing those jobs. In the NDP, we are saying very clearly that Canadian families deserve better than the job cuts announced in the budget. Canadian families truly deserve better than this.

So this is what they did. After all of those job losses and plant closures, there have been members of the NDP caucus standing up one after the other over the last weeks. In every case there is strong push-back from NDP members. We understand that when a plant is closed and the government does nothing, there is a multiplier effect in the community. When we lose 2,600 jobs for Aveos, as the government has done, we are talking about a multiplier effect of thousands of additional jobs that are lost. This is what the government does not seem capable of understanding.

On Friday, I talked about the Conservative government's economic record. It is appalling when we look at what it has managed to do over the course of a small number of years. Members would agree that the reason we are getting so many Canadians sending in negative comments about the job losses in this budget and about the direction that the government is taking us is because those Canadians understand that the government is not responding to economic fundamentals.

We have catalogued some of the government's achievements that are not in the Prime Minister's Office speaking notes that Conservative MPs receive. They should be, however, because they are facts and we cannot have a fact-free government. We see in the budget cuts to the first nations, eliminating the First Nations Statistical Institute, eliminating the National Council of Welfare and severe punitive cutbacks to Statistics Canada. We see the government moving away from any sort of fact-based public policy. On this side of the House we believe that facts are the foundation upon which we should build public policy. That is the difference between the two sides. Certainly Canadians are looking ahead to October 20, 2015, when the first NDP government in the history of the country takes office. We can assure Canadians that we will be looking at facts and not just fiction that is manufactured by the Prime Minister's Office.

What are the facts? What have been the achievements of the government?

One achievement is we now have the worst merchandise trade deficit in Canadian history. That is because of an erosion of manufacturing that has been unlike any that we have ever seen. The government has managed to achieve the unthinkable, the worst merchandise trade deficit in Canadian history. The government would say it does not matter because we are really good at exporting raw resources: minerals, bitumen and logs. However, then we look at all exports. The merchandise trade deficit is Canada's sending of manufactured goods abroad and importing from other countries. We are not producing those manufactured goods anymore.

Then we look at the overall deficit which is called the current account deficit, the balance of payments deficit. It is also the worst we have ever seen in Canadian history.

On the merchandise trade side, the government has the dubious achievement in its dismal decade, the dismal, dark, divisive decade of Conservative government, of the worst merchandise trade deficit and the worst current account deficit on balance of payments in our nation's history. These are two achievements, but they are dubious achievements.

What else is there? Another record is that, on manufacturing jobs, we now have the lowest number we have ever had since they first started keeping statistics. It is the worst total we have ever had, a third achievement of the government: worst manufacturing jobs, worst merchandise trade deficit and the worst current account deficit on balance of payments.

What else is there? We also have what are becoming record levels of inequality now, where 20% of the country is earning essentially most of the country's income and has more than three-quarters of the financial resources. That means that the fourth record of the government is now, tragically, the worst level of household debt in our nation's history. We have worst for export, worst for manufacturing jobs and the worst for household debt. That is the Conservative government's economic record.

The Conservatives will point out that in the fewer jobs, less growth and less prosperity budget, they are anticipating that they will change this sorry record. That is what they will say. That is certainly what they will claim.

Let us look at their record so far. I did ask this question before, but I just wanted to raise it with colleagues who are a little bit different today. I just want to ask my colleagues in the House, just for a moment if I could, given how Canada has fared in the last few years, what they thought about how we have managed to do in economic growth among the industrialized countries worldwide.

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12:20 p.m.

Robert Chisholm

According to the government, we must be one or two.

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12:20 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

My colleague from Dartmouth—Cole Harbour says that the government always seems to say it is setting records and doing really well. It quotes Forbes magazine, which is a great magazine for billionaires, of course, but we prefer to listen to ordinary Canadians.

What have the Conservatives done in terms of projected growth among industrialized countries? My colleagues says first or second, and that is not the case.

Does anyone say the top five? Are there any takers for the top five?

Okay, does anyone say the top ten? I have a Conservative who says we must be in the top ten. Unfortunately, that is not the case. We are not even in the top ten.

Are there any takers, perhaps on the Conservative side of the House, for the top twelve? No.

Actually, for projected growth in 2012, Canada will rank fourteenth among industrialized countries. That is not too good.

We might say that maybe we will do better on overall growth, if we take worldwide growth. We are fourteenth among industrialized countries. Obviously the industrialized countries are doing much better.

Let us take all the countries in the world. Let us take the 200-odd countries in the world and let us ask the same question. How did we do for 2011 in economic growth?

Is anyone for the top ten? Obviously not, because among industrialized countries we are fourteenth, but is anyone for the top twenty? No, I should say that my NDP colleagues are very wise, because we are not in the top twenty.

How about top thirty? Nobody thinks so.

How about the top forty, top fifty, top sixty? How about the top hundred? Nobody, no takers there.

What about the top 120? No.

Okay, it is 130th for 2011 in economic growth. There were 129 countries better managed for economic growth than Canada was in 2011.

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12:20 p.m.

Robert Chisholm

We never hear them say that. They never say that, opposite, do they?

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12:20 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

No, we have never heard them stand up and say we are number 130.

The next question is this. If the Conservatives did that poorly in 2011, before this budget they must have already had plans in place to do better in 2012.

The IMF, the International Monetary Fund, has a ranking of projected economic growth for 2012. These rankings of economic growth are right here. So, I am just going to ask my colleagues. Obviously we would expect the government to do better in 2012, right?

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12:25 p.m.

Robert Chisholm

Oh, yes.

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12:25 p.m.

NDP

Jinny Sims NDP Newton—North Delta, BC

According to the finance minister, we are always doing better.

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12:25 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

My colleagues think the government must have done better for the 2012 rankings for the projected economic growth. That was prior to the budget. Let us try that out, then.

Who thinks we are in the top 100? Anybody?

Are we in the top 120?

Are we in the top 130? No?

My colleagues are very wise, again, because it is not the top 130. It is not the top 140. It is not even the top 150.

For 2012, for projected economic growth, we are projected at 152nd internationally. One hundred and fifty-one nations do better than Canada on economic growth, and that was before this budget.

The reason I bring this up is that we now have a budget with 19,700 public sector job losses. But here, from the calculations now done by the Canadian Association of Professional Employees, we see what the real cost of the budget is for Canadian jobs. I will read this out. It just came out. It is hot off the presses. I am certain Conservative members will be getting copies of this. I certainly hope they will, because if this is not further proof that this is a bad budget, I do not know what is.

According to an analysis done by the Canadian Association of Professional Employees, the $5.2 billion cutback in spending and services that was announced in the budget tabled in the House last week will now cause 40,825 additional job losses in the private sector. That is 19,700 in the public sector and 40,825 in the private sector. We are now talking about 60,000 families losing a breadwinner after six appalling months on the job front, as a deliberate result of the government's bad management of the economy and irresponsibility around the budget.

Financial statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.

Robert Chisholm

One would think they would have known that, though, right?

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12:25 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

The question my colleague from Dartmouth—Cole Harbour is asking is, “Would one not think they would know that?”

This is a government that does not even know how much its prisons are going to cost. This is a government that has absolutely no idea how much the F-35s are going to cost. The Parliamentary Budget Officer, fortunately for us, for Canadian taxpayers' sake, did a study and showed it was going to cost $30 billion, including the maintenance contracts. However, that was before all of these additional problems came up with the F-35s, which have been identified by the Auditor General and others.

The government has no idea how much the F-35s will cost. It has no idea how much the prison program will cost. Obviously, it had no idea that what it was doing was throwing 60,000 Canadians out on the street, that it was essentially leading to what can only be called a job meltdown, with more than 60,000 families losing a breadwinner.

Financial statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.

Robert Chisholm

Speaking of the F-35s, they are getting into a bit of trouble on that, I think, are they not?

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12:25 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Yes, my colleague from Dartmouth—Cole Harbour is absolutely right. I think we will find in question period, which will start in about an hour and a half, some real discussion around this F-35 fiasco.

The Canadian Association of Professional Employees applied an economic model developed by Statistics Canada to the information contained in the 2012 federal budget, which included $5.2 billion of spending cuts and a reduction in the size of the federal public service through the elimination of 19,200 jobs.

The Statistics Canada model indicated that job losses in the public and private sectors would affect all parts of Canada to varying degrees, and the Canadian Association of Professional Employees found that the announced cuts would result in the following job losses by region.

Here we go; here is where we really get a sense of the magnitude of what the government has done. Whether it knew it was doing it or not, whether it understood the economic impact of the multiplier effect or not, I cannot speculate. What is very clearly true is that when there are job losses in the tens of thousands, in this massive way, this is going to provoke exactly what the rating agencies, Fitch and Moody's, and so many economists are warning about, that after all the economic problems we have had over the last few months with the factory closures that I mentioned earlier, the plant closures, the loss of jobs, tens of thousands of jobs, economists and Fitch and Moody's and the rating agencies were all saying, “Do not cut deep; if you throw more people out of work, what you are going to do is provoke an even worse economic downturn”.

Now we are seeing the results. That is exactly what it is doing. Here are job losses by region. In the province of British Columbia, where I come from, what will happen is 5,869 British Columbia families will lose the breadwinner, 5,869. That is for my province of British Columbia, and that is catastrophic.

I will give one comparison. The last time we talked about job losses of this magnitude is when the mean-spirited government brought in the softwood lumber sellout. We fought that in this House, and in fact I fought it in committee. I remember speaking for 16 hours against what was a horribly poorly negotiated agreement. We knew it would lead to jobs losses. In my area of Burnaby—New Westminster, scant weeks after the government pushed through the softwood lumber sellout, 2,000 jobs evaporated. Three plants were closed.