Mr. Speaker, it is always an honour to rise in the House on behalf of my constituents from Surrey North. Today I will speak to Bill C-43, the budget implementation act.
Given the track record of the Conservatives, it is no surprise to me that they again have moved time allocation on this bill. I am lucky enough to get a chance to speak on behalf of my constituents, however, I know many members from the NDP and Liberal side, and maybe the Conservative side, will not get the opportunity to represent their constituents.
There is no possible way that a 460-page bill, which contains more than 400 clauses, could be adequately studied, analyzed and debated under this type of time restriction. Is that a surprise? Well, I am not surprised at all. Under the government, omnibus bills that amend dozens of acts at a time and pushed through the House under time allocation are unfortunately becoming the norm. It is unfortunate that the government insists on following this anti-democratic process time and time again. However, after three and a half years, I have recognized that the Conservative government is not planning on changing its ways any time soon.
There is a laundry list of things in the bill before us. It talks about temporary foreign workers, pay-to-pay fees, airports, the Canadian Polar Commission and the EI job credit. The Conservatives are also beating up on refugees in the bill.
However, I want to talk about what is important to my constituents. When I go back to Surrey, I like talking to people and finding out what their issues are, but none of those issues have been addressed in the bill.
I often say when we are on the Hill, that Ottawa is like a little bubble. We need to get outside of the Hill and hear what Canadians want. However, I get the feeling that the Conservatives are still living in that bubble, because what Canadians are saying is not being addressed in the House by the government.
I come from Surrey North, which is a dynamic, vibrant and fast-growing city in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia. I am extremely proud to represent a portion of such a diverse and interesting city. However, Surrey is facing many pressures and challenges that require action and assistance from the federal government to solve.
Surrey's challenges range from a lack of affordable housing, aging infrastructure, inadequate public transit and serious issues around crime and poverty. Federal funding and support is sorely needed to make inroads to address these challenges in my city.
I continue to hear from my constituents on the problem of public transit in Surrey, and I have to agree. Surrey is the second largest city in British Columbia, soon to be the largest city in the upcoming years. It is growing at a rate of about 12,000 to 13,000 new residents annually. As one of the fastest-growing cities in Canada, and the fastest-growing city in metropolitan Vancouver, there is a clear need for infrastructure funding to support this growth. Public transportation is increasingly a problem for a such a fast-growing city. Although the population of Surrey continues to grow at an astounding rate, public transportation has not kept pace.
The SkyTrain is Surrey's most efficient public transit connection to other cities in the Lower Mainland, such as New Westminster, Burnaby and Vancouver. However, SkyTrain service in Surrey has not been expanded since 1994 when three new stations were put in—all in my riding—but nothing has been done since then.
Twenty years later, the face of Surrey has changed dramatically, and it is well past the time that the federal government commit to funding critical infrastructure, such as the expansion of public transit in Surrey. Residents in my community of Surrey North will tell members that the public transit system in Surrey is inadequate, and I hear that quite often. There are long wait times and convoluted routes to get from one point in the city to another.
The city of Surrey is currently working to secure funding for a light rail transit network that will connect different town centres in the city as well as connect Surrey to cities in our area, such as Langley. This is an important step forward for our city and a very important investment that is critical to ensuring Surrey remains a livable and connected city.
It disappoints me greatly to see that the budget does not allocate funding to important projects that are critical to continued growth and development of major cities, such as Surrey. Other cities across the country are facing similar pressures with regard to public transit. We hear from the FCM on a regular basis about the lack of funding for transit infrastructure development for the cities across this nation.
Just last week, my colleague, the member for Parkdale—High Park, pointed out the issues that Toronto had experienced with the transit system not keeping pace with the population growth. This is not an isolated issue. Investment in infrastructure is necessary to ensure that our cities continue to be some of the best and most livable in the world.
In terms of infrastructure, public transit is not the only issue facing my community of Surrey North. As I have mentioned many times in the House, the aging Pattullo Bridge is a major concern to my constituents. I have been very vocal in requesting that the federal government step in and play a role in regional infrastructure planning and development. The 76-year-old Pattullo Bridge, which was built for a 50-year lifespan, now poses a significant safety concern.
The Golden Ears Bridge and the Port Mann Bridge, which both feed either directly or indirectly into Surrey North, are the only toll bridges in western Canada and the only toll bridges coming into my riding.
Many Surrey residents continue to commute across the Fraser River to go to work. The future of the Pattullo Bridge will have a significant impact on the residents of Surrey, especially on the residents of Surrey North, as it is the last non-toll bridge that feeds directly into our city.
I have been anxiously waiting for the federal government to commit to participating in infrastructure planning and development in the south Fraser River region. However, this budget proves that this is not a priority for the government.
Municipalities receive only 8% of the tax revenue, but are responsible for 60% of the development. This equation does not add up, and it is clear that the federal government has a responsibility to allocate funding to regional development and infrastructure in a reasonable manner that creates sustainable and livable cities.
This is not being done right now. It is not being addressed in this budget at all.
Finally, I hear concerns about crime in my community very frequently. Residents are concerned about the impact that crime is having on our community and what is being done to reduce the amount of crime.
Frankly, the tough-on-crime government has done nothing to help people in Surrey North. Instead, we have seen funding for policing downloaded to municipalities. Practical and cost-effective solutions such as prevention programs are not being utilized to reduce crime. For example, research shows that community-based programs focused on gang intervention, after-school mentoring and after-school recreation are promising at preventing crime.
Programs like this are practical, cost-effective and contribute to community building, as well as to the goal of reducing crime. My motion on youth gang prevention takes a similar approach by calling on the government to provide stable, long-term funding for youth gang crime prevention and intervention programs.
However, once again, I see no funding allocated to these types of common sense prevention programs that could help reduce the amount of crime in riding of Surrey North and communities across the country.
This approach of the Conservative government is very problematic. I am not surprised in the least that the budget is out of touch with the needs of everyday Canadians. This budget is an opportunity to truly address the needs of Canadians, however, the government has again failed Canadians.
I want to take this opportunity to wish all Canadians right across our country a very merry Christmas and a happy new year, and be safe.