Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to speak on budget Bill C-38.
I wish to advise you that I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for London—Fanshawe.
When our Conservative colleague was talking about some of the panels or organizations that the Conservatives had stopped giving money to on the environment, the simple reason is that if they criticize the Prime Minister, that is it; they lose their funding.
The Prime Minister went to another country and said clearly that if somebody criticizes the government's work, they would lose the funding the government gives them. That is the only plain answer. There is no other answer.
This is a government that does not like to be criticized. It is as simple as that. Canadians know it, and they will make a decision one day on who they want to run the country.
The problem with Bill C-38 is that it is a budget bill that contains a lot of things that have nothing to do with the budget.
According to this government, the previous government passed things in its budgets that had nothing to do with budgetary matters. But just because one government has done it does not make it right. Why have a budget bill if all sorts of things are going to be hidden in it?
I am sure that I am not the only one who has not read the budget's 421 pages. Few members of the House can have read it, not even government members. This budget hides all kinds of things. One day, people are going to wake up and realize what it all means.
I would like to bring up a number of points. The Conservatives say that 50 hours to support or to attack the budget are enough. They feel that it is plenty of time. But it is funny that hon. members on the Standing Committee on Official Languages have been studying the Roadmap for Canada's Linguistic Duality since September.
Take the 150th anniversary in 2017. Committee members have been studying the 150th anniversary celebrations since September.
In this case, the Conservatives have introduced 70 amendments to existing laws. I will give a few examples, for instance, the Employment Insurance Act. In the past, if there were changes to EI, they would usually be studied by the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities. Thus, people in industry and workers across the county would come before the committee as witnesses and tell us how they would be affected by these changes. For example, with this bill, people will have to travel an hour from their homes if work is available. The government will be reasonable, it seems: refusal would depend on the job being suited to the worker, and that sort of thing.
Moreover, the government is getting rid of the board of referees. I am not sure if people understand this completely: 1,000 people across Canada sit on the boards of referees that decide whether the Employment Insurance Commission has made a good or bad decision. EI claimants have always had the fundamental right to appear before a board if they have been denied EI benefits.
Each board of referees is made up of three people: one represents the employer, one the employees and the third is supposed to be independent.
These people examine all the facts before them and decide whether or not the commission has made a mistake. If, like the commission, the board of referees rejects a claim, then the employee can appeal to an umpire. Conversely, if the board of referees agrees with the employee, then the commission can appeal to an umpire.
It is a transparent system where people can seek justice and accomplish something. The government is now doing away with the board of referees and the umpires. It is in Bill C-38.
Are the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development Canada—who rises every day to tell us how good the employment insurance system is—and the Conservative government doing justice to workers covered by a program that belongs to workers and employers? The government does not give a single penny to the program. Now that the penny is being eliminated, we will be saying that the government does not give a single nickel to this program. It is paid for by the employees and employers.
They pay for insurance in the event of job losses. The government is now eliminating the board of referees and umpires and replacing them with 38 people who it will appoint. Honestly, that scares me.
I remember that, when the Mulroney government made changes in 1988 and in the 1990s, Canadians took to the streets. They did not accept the changes of Brian Mulroney's Conservative government. I remember that, in 1996, when Jean Chrétien was in power, Canadians did not accept the changes. They took to the streets.
We can imagine what it will be like when there are only 38 people in Canada to handle these cases. They will never be able to take care of all the cases deemed inadmissible by commission officials.
Conservative MPs are going to wake up when they get numerous calls to their offices from people who will be telling them that they are not entitled to employment insurance benefits and who will be wanting to know what their MP intends to do. I am eager to see how the Conservative MPs will respond to those people. If they do not do justice by them, they will then wonder why people are taking to the streets.
The other aspect concerns the age of eligibility for old age security, which is increasing from 65 to 67. I listened to what my Conservative colleague said.
He said the Conservative government does not want to pass the buck to somebody else or the next generation and that we have to look after the retirement of people from 65 to 67 to make sure we have money for them. Well, it has been proven that there will be money for their retirement, and the Conservatives are saying they do not want to pass the buck? They will be passing the buck to the provinces.
The people who really need the old age pension are the ones who do not have any pension. They did not work for an employer that gave them a pension plan. Many worked hard physical jobs in a number of areas. As an example, I have seen women working in fish plants where there are 3,000 people working in one area. They can take their retirement at 65, and I honestly cannot see them working until the age of 67.
People who work in factories, for instance, do not have pension funds when it comes time to retire. There are no pension funds for these people. Who will be hit even harder? The women who work in these jobs. These are jobs without pensions. These people will not be able to retire, and the government is deciding that they will continue working until they are 67. If they cannot continue working, they will have to turn to social assistance, and the provinces will be the ones to pay.
The government says that it does not want to pass the cost off to future generations, but it is passing it off to the provinces. The provinces do not have the resources to assume the cost.
All of that is hidden in Bill C-38. The government is absolutely not honest. When it talks about creating 720,000 jobs one day, 740,000 jobs another day or 760,000 jobs yet another day, the government is not talking about the 19,000 jobs it is eliminating in the public sector that help people every day.
For these reasons, we cannot vote for Bill C-38. It is not a good bill, and the government has failed in its duty to represent Canadians.