Mr. Speaker, I would like to mention that I will be sharing my time with my colleague from Parkdale—High Park. It is important to me to speak today in support of this motion, which just makes sense.
The NDP is simply proposing that the government be straight with Canadians about the state of the country's finances. We are also asking the Minister of Finance to do his homework, by taking into account how tough things are for the middle class and by making economic diversity a priority in his next budget. It is not complicated.
Canadians are concerned about the current financial instability. When they fill their tanks with gas, they are happy to pay less at the pumps, but they wonder how this will influence our national budget and the employment situation. These are questions I have been asked frequently over the past few days, because people are not getting a clear answer from the government.
Obviously, we already know that the fluctuation in the price per barrel of oil will have an impact on the economy. We could expect nothing less because the Conservatives put all their eggs in the oil industry basket. The NDP has been warning the government about this practice for a long time. The lack of focus on innovation and diversification has made our economy vulnerable to this type of shock in the price of natural resources.
Several experts have already spoken about the potential impacts of the situation. For example, Stephen Poloz, Governor of the Bank of Canada, said:
The drop in oil prices is unambiguously negative for the Canadian economy. Canada's income from oil exports will be reduced, and investment and employment in the energy sector are already being cut.
Here is another example: According to an OECD study, federal revenue from corporate taxes and gas taxes will drop by $4.3 billion. Furthermore, according to a TD Bank report, the government will not even have a sufficient budgetary margin to enhance TFSAs or create a tax credit for adult physical activity, let alone introduce the infamous income splitting.
The Bank of Canada has weighed in. The OECD has weighed in. TD Bank has weighed in. Today, the Office of the Parliamentary Budget Officer weighed in on the financial impact of the drop in oil prices. Is it too much to ask that our Minister of Finance do the same?
It seems to me that Canadians are entitled to get accurate information from their government, particularly when we think that this recent financial protection was based on an oil price of $80 U.S. a barrel. We are also asking the government today for a clear commitment that the next budget will take the economic situation of the middle class into consideration, by making sure to propose measures that will lead to the creation of good, full-time jobs. This is something that should not need to be pointed out. After a succession of Liberal and Conservative governments, however, families have understood that they could not take it for granted that their government was going to work for them.
In fact, the incomes of the wealthiest 1% of the population are continuing to rise, while the average Canadian family has seen its income fall over the last 35 years. I do not need to remind you that this situation is largely a Liberal legacy: 94% of the growth in income inequality over the last 35 years took place under the federal Liberals. Let us be clear, however: what was a Liberal trademark is well on its way to becoming a Conservative tradition as well.
By proposing measures like income splitting, for example, the Conservatives have chosen to hand out billions of dollars to a few wealthy households, but absolutely nothing to more than 85% of Canadian families—when it is the middle class that needs a break. I hear this constantly in my constituency.
Families keep working harder, but keep finding it harder to make ends meet.
In four years, there have never been so many people knocking on my constituency office door to get help. I am not talking about help to file their tax returns or to get a faster reply from a federal department, since that is taking up more and more time because of the cuts made by the government, and not because of the hard work done by public service employees. No, I am talking about getting help to make sure their children are going to eat three meals a day. I am talking about getting help so they do not find themselves out in the street.
I hear the same story from the community organizations that are doing outstanding work in our region, especially with the resources they have at present because of the cuts they have suffered. In 2014, for example, Moisson Outaouais saw a 25% increase in requests for food assistance. At Centraide Outaouais, they tell me that families that used to be able to contribute to fundraising campaigns have become recipients of assistance.
The cuts this government has made to the public service have had a direct negative impact on the economy of the Outaouais, but the Conservatives continue to sit on their hands and refuse to help the families and job creators in our region get through this difficult situation.
I have just finished a round of visits to small businesses in my riding and I was truly impressed with the exceptional work these entrepreneurs are doing. There is tremendous innovation, knowledge and passion in the Outaouais. It is high time that the federal government realize this and genuinely support the efforts of these small businesses to stimulate our regional economy.
On November 29, I also participated in the Forum socio-économique de l'Outaouais organized by the Chambre de commerce de Gatineau. I want to take this opportunity to congratulate them on this excellent forum. I met dozens of stakeholders from all backgrounds, who came together to talk about their common vision for the development of our region.
It was depressing to see the extent to which these people no longer count on this government to help them out. On the ground, the federal government is no longer seen as a partner in the development of our communities. This is truly unacceptable.
In the NDP, we believe government can be, and has a duty to be, a partner with entrepreneurs, organizations and families. In the NDP, we have a plan; creating a program for accessible and affordable child care centres, a federal minimum wage of $15 an hour and a lower tax rate for small businesses are just a few examples. However, Canadians should not have to wait until the next election to be treated with respect.
That is why I invite my colleagues on both sides of the House to vote in favour of this motion, which will enable our fellow Canadians to be informed about the state of our economy and will give them a guarantee that all Canadians will be considered when the next budget is prepared.
In closing, I would also like to talk about instability within government programs. When a budget is introduced after the scheduled date, uncertainty is created. Not enough help is being given to the departments for sorting out or submitting a program for the following year. It is very unfortunate that disorder is taking hold both in the services and the public service.