Madam Speaker, it is an honour and a pleasure for me to talk about this bill today. It is also practically a miracle, given that the government has limited the time for debate. I want to point that out right away so that as many people as possible understand what non-Conservative members have to deal with every day. The government is constantly imposing time limits and gag orders, as my colleague mentioned earlier.
Bill C-38, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget, is the biggest bill that has come before the House this year. The country's finances will be managed and programs will be cut or saved based on what is in this bill. The Conservatives are eliminating many programs.
Not all members of my party or all opposition members will have a chance to talk about this bill, and that is utterly ridiculous.
The bill is over 400 pages long. It is a complex bill that should be studied much longer. Yet the opposition members are up against the time allocation imposed by the government, which is limiting debate. Basically, there is no way to address everything that is in this bill. This is an omnibus bill. As we have said repeatedly on our side of the House, there are many things pertaining to finances in this bill and many things that have nothing to do with finances. With this omnibus bill, the government tried to include all kinds of bills that it wants to pass quickly, without examination and without giving the appropriate committees a chance to study them.
I thank my colleague from Drummond, who pointed out that everything having to do with fish habitat will not be examined by the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development or the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans. Instead, it is the Standing Committee on Finance and its subcommittee that will examine the future of fish habitat in our country, which is ridiculous.
There are several aspects that I wanted to address. I will try to do so as quickly as possible, since I do not have much time. Earlier, a colleague across the floor was talking about youth and how proud he is to see so many things for young people in this bill. I am part of Canada's younger generation and, I must say, if I were an ordinary citizen—I mean if I were not an elected official—and I still had student loans to pay back at age 27, I would find my future very depressing.
There has been a lot of talk about the retirement age. In fact, it is very easy for the government to raise the retirement age from 65 to 67 in the next decade, and it is smart for the Conservatives to include this change in this bill. People will be a bit confused, and 10 years from now, when the change affects them, they will think that the government of the day is to blame. The current government is trying to confuse people so that they will forget what is happening.
What is happening is that the government has raised the age of eligibility for old age security benefits by two years. What impact will that have, aside from shifting the cost to the provinces? It will mean that the most vulnerable people in our society, often women, who receive provincial social assistance benefits, are going to have to wait another two years. Social assistance benefits do not pay as much as old age security benefits. These people are going to have to live two more years in dire straits. This is going to affect my generation, not people who are over 55 now. It is going to affect today's young people, tomorrow's seniors, who are going to have to work for two more years.
What has the government done for young people? It has done away with the Katimavik program, in which my sister, many of my friends and many people in my riding participated. It was a great program that taught young people the value of bilingualism in Canada, because it gave them an opportunity to learn both official languages. In addition, the program allowed young people to work in other provinces and discover Canada. It gave them the chance to gain leadership experience and become independent. It was a wonderful program that did not cost much compared to what the ministers in this government spend. Yet the government decided that for ideological and political reasons, it did not like this program, so it scrapped it.
The unemployment rate is highest among young people and there is nothing in the government's budget to address youth unemployment.
The government says that it is going to inject millions of dollars into helping the unemployed find jobs. In the meantime, it is cutting positions in the public service and in areas that interest young people, such as the environment. It is cutting funding for community groups that provided jobs. Young people from my generation that are graduating from university are ending up unemployed. The same is true for those finishing CEGEP or secondary school.
We are certainly grateful for the extra $50 million the Conservatives are going to invest in hiring under the youth employment strategy, but that is not enough. It is a far cry from a job creation strategy for unemployed youth.
A young person in my riding is worried about the skill link program. There is nothing in the budget for that program either. I find it worrisome and I do not understand how the member opposite can say that this budget is so great for youth.
Things with the environment are no better. We are living on a planet that is experiencing global warming. We have seen it over the past few weeks. A month ago it was 27oC out, and the following week it was -5oC. That is not normal. Young people are the ones who are going to suffer the long-term consequences of the Conservatives' current inaction.
As I said earlier, the most ridiculous aspect is that all the environmental measures in this budget will be studied by the Standing Committee on Finance. That is nonsense.
This bill has consequences for the future, for my generation and for everyone. Life expectancy is longer now. People who are 60 today, and who will live to be 80 or 90, will feel the effects.
Pollution is part of our lives today. I have asthma. I moved from Sherbrooke to Montreal and I felt the effects of living in a big city where there is more smog and more pollution. It is not inconsequential. This is happening right now and the Conservatives are doing nothing about it.
It is shocking that nothing is being done for aboriginal youth. We have talked about education for aboriginal youth. The government tries to boast about putting money into education. However, Cindy Blackstock, who is with the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada, took the government to court because it was shocking to see that nothing was being done for aboriginal peoples and to show the gap between funding for aboriginal children and all other children in Canada.
The government took the case to the Federal Court—we do not know if it will go to the appeal court—and it claimed that aboriginal children cannot be compared with children from another country because their situations are different. I am sorry, but a young Canadian is a young Canadian. Aboriginal children should have the same right to education and the same right to health care as other children.
At the same time that it was boasting about helping aboriginal peoples, the government cut funding to the Native Women's Association of Canada and the Assembly of First Nations. These two groups can no longer continue with their health initiatives. The government is harming the health of Canadian aboriginal children, while boasting about giving money to aboriginal peoples.
Getting back to the environment, this budget puts the kibosh on Kyoto. There is one sentence somewhere in the budget that says the Kyoto protocol will no longer be in force.
I see that I have just a minute left. I do not have much time, but I want to quote Devon Page, executive director of Ecojustice, who said that this budget is “a clear attempt to speed through new legislation and avoid parliamentary debate. And we think it’s wrong. Overhauling the laws that protect the air we breathe, the water we drink and the communities we live in needs vigorous debate. That’s how democratic societies operate.”
That suggests to me that this executive director thinks our country is not democratic. Personally, that makes me worry about my future.
I have a few seconds left. I would have liked to talk about immigration, a little more about the environment, and transportation. There is nothing in this bill for public transit, even though we would like to see a national public transit strategy. I would have liked to talk a little more about the economy, but I cannot because there is a time allocation motion that denies us the right to speak.
I will answer questions to the best of my ability. The main thing is that we cannot support this bill. It is ridiculous.