Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise in this place on behalf of the good people of Davenport in the great city of Toronto to speak to Bill C-4, the budget implementation act.
This is another example of a missed opportunity for the current Conservative government in terms of job creation and in terms of accountability and transparency. It really underlines the mean-spiritedness in which the government participates in the process of bills and law-making in this House.
I have been listening very carefully to some of the debates and comments from my hon. colleagues on the government side, and it is almost as though they live in this fantasy world where they give the greatest gifts to the wealthiest corporations and keep saying over and over what neo-conservatives have been saying for 30 years, that these wealthy corporations will just trickle that money down like manna from heaven and we will all just be fine.
I listened with particular interest to my colleague from Mississauga who talked about her father's small business. I also listened to the member across the way, who grew up in the town named after him, talk about his family and small business.
Where I come from in Toronto, small businesses are one- and two-person operations. Small businesses are operated out of people's kitchens and basements. Small businesses are a mother and father working 12 or 13 hours a day running a store on Bloor Street. They are looking for some relief and what they are hearing is that the government has been doling out these wonderfully handsome tax breaks to the wealthiest corporations in Canada, who are not investing back into the economy but are sitting on the money. There is nothing in this bill that deals with one of the most significant issues of our time, and that is how we deal with the explosion of precarious work in our society.
In Toronto, in the GTA right now, in the member's riding of Mississauga South no doubt, almost 50% of workers cannot access a full-time, stable job. That is an outrageous statistic, which should engage this entire House, not just because it is my city but because it is an outrageous statistic. We are letting down and failing workers, and in particular we are failing young workers.
This budget implementation act, which would again throw in more than 70 law changes with everything but the kitchen sink in here, has not a single thing to address precarious work in our society. We listen to the rhetoric of job creation on one hand and we see the stats on the other hand where 15%, 16% or 17% of young people are unemployed, and that is the official rate that does not include those who have given up and those who are working very marginal, part-time jobs. This is the reality for so many urban workers: precarious work. People cannot find a full-time job. We are talking about folks who are now working as independent contractors.
The Conservatives are so consumed, almost obsessed, with their attack on organized labour that they cannot understand that people who run a small business want customers to come in. Those customers actually have to make a living wage in order to spend some of their money in the store. This is what the Conservatives do not understand. They do not understand the realities of urban workers today. They do not understand the reality of small business today.
We proposed many measures that would make it easier for small business owners to deal with their business.
We have a consumer program this government has borrowed some ideas from. They should actually take the whole thing. We would be willing to give it to them, because there are some excellent ideas, and they would actually deal with some of the main problems small businesses face with things like transfer fees for credit cards at point of sale, and that sort of thing. These are the issues many small businesses bring to us, which is why we have brought our proposals to the Canadian public on some of the very important issues for small business.
This is a government that, along with the Liberals, pillaged the employment insurance fund to the tune of about $57 billion and that is making it harder for Canadian workers to access the program to which they contributed. This is not the government's money. It is workers' money. We have legions of workers who cannot access basic employment insurance, basic income security, in times of need. Those times of need for many people are right now.
The Conservatives talk about job creation. They never talk about the kinds of jobs they are creating. In the GTA, we have a preponderance of $10.50 an hour jobs. I do not know, and I would be interested to find out from the member from Mississauga, if people in her riding could live on $10 an hour. Could they pay their rent? Could they raise a family? Can people raise a family on minimum wage in Toronto or in this country? The answer is absolutely not. It is very difficult. That is why people are working multiple jobs. It is why the fabric of our society is in such turmoil. It is because people in our large cities are working day in and day out just to survive. It is impacting on people's health.
We now know that precarious work adds incredible stress to the body. We have not calculated the health care costs of ripping the support from under workers today. I do not see that calculation in this.
We have not seen the government actually focus any attention on youth employment. The other day, the minister said, in answer to a question on precarious work, that if young workers have a problem in their workplaces, they should complain to the various tribunals out there. They are putting the onus on young people who, right now in Ontario, for example, are graduating, on average, with about $37,000 of debt. Then they are being welcomed into a workforce where they are either offered jobs that do not pay any money, as interns, or piecemeal jobs. They cannot get into the fields they studied for. The other day the minister said that they could blow the whistle on their companies if they feel that they are being treated poorly.
We are failing young workers. The government has utterly failed to address some of the key issues that affect urban workers. The fact is that too many people cannot access a workplace pension. Too many of us cannot access any kind of workplace benefit, and there is absolutely no job security for urban workers. All the bill does is make it worse.
The member from Mississauga talked about key tax cuts that would reap benefits for all Canadians, but what we are seeing in reality is that the tools the government uses to deal with the economic issues have just made things worse.
Bill C-4 is the fourth attempt in two years by the Conservatives to evade scrutiny by parliamentarians and the public. Canadians are watching. They want to see the government and this place function the way it is supposed to, which is with proper scrutiny. This side of the House, the official opposition, is doing its job. We would like to see the Conservatives start to do theirs.