Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Elgin—Middlesex—London.
While I was pleased to see some measures, such as a short-term extension of employment insurance benefits for oil and gas workers in my riding and some investments in social housing, I found that the budget borrowed heavily from future generations, without a plan for job creation and without any sort of thought toward returning to a balanced budget.
The budget borrows a lot of money. It will borrow $30 billion this year and over $100 billion over the next four. How can Canadians trust a government that has broken its promises right out of the gate? The government demonstrates an attitude of entitlement and an absolute disregard for the hard-working taxpayer.
The Prime Minister has said he wants to place emphasis on our young people, but the only thing he is doing for our nation's youth is simply saddling them with a horrendous debt and thereby making it extremely difficult for them to move ahead in life after graduating from school.
I have listened to union economists, Liberal politicians, and various pundits talk about how insignificant this deficit is, so let us talk about that.
The budget borrows $118 billion over six years from future generations. To put that in perspective, the Bow tower, which is the tallest skyscraper in Calgary, cost $1.2 billion to build. This means that our present budget could build 100 Bow towers. That is 50 skyscrapers more than the entire downtown core of Toronto.
The most worrisome part of the deficit is that there is absolutely no plan to eliminate it.
I would like to take a closer look at the budget and what it means for the hard-working people of Lethbridge that I represent.
First, let us look at jobs. I was saddened by the fact that there is no long-term vision to get Alberta's economy back on track. The budget confirms that the government is not interested in helping Alberta recover from a terrific downturn in the oil and gas industry and the loss of tens of thousands of jobs. The government's lackadaisical approach to job creation simply will not benefit anyone.
I am both proud of and confident in the entrepreneurial spirit and strong work ethic of the people of Lethbridge. I represent thousands of small business owners who are smart, willing to take calculated risks, and eager to give back to the community by creating jobs. Small businesses are the heartbeat of the Canadian economy. They drive our innovation and entrepreneurial effort as a nation and they employ more Canadians than any other sector.
During the campaign, the Liberals promised to lower taxes on small businesses. However, they have failed to come through. Our Prime Minister lied. This broken promise will cost small businesses across Canada a billion dollars a year, money that could have been reinvested to create jobs.
Let us talk about families.
Our previous Conservative government made families a priority. This was rooted in our belief that families are the fundamental building block of Canadian society. In order to pay for their new child benefit, the Liberals have eliminated the universal child care benefit, the children's fitness tax credit, and the children's art tax credit. Furthermore, the Liberals have also followed through on their threat to eliminate income splitting for Canadian families, an initiative that helped thousands of families in the Lethbridge region.
The government claims that families will get more money under its child benefit plan, but when we look at it closely, we see the big picture: the middle class actually loses out. Parents understand better than government what is in the best interests of their children, but the budget removes choice from parents, limits options for families, and ultimately puts more power into the hands of government instead of the hands of parents.
I was disappointed to note that the infrastructure spending proposed to trigger economic growth is already earmarked for big cities, in particular Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, and Vancouver. This appears to be a big-city budget that would do very little for a small centre like Lethbridge.
Furthermore, there is little in the way of investing in rural areas. In my area, we have many roads and bridges in the county that have not been repaired or maintained since the 1950s. These roads and bridges are used each and every day to help get agricultural commodities to market, which is very important for Canada as a nation. Overall, the budget is in blatant disregard of our primary producers and ignores their needs, thereby ignoring the needs of Canada as a whole.
I would like to draw attention to two other areas that I am quite passionate about. Those are persons with disabilities and our nation's young people.
As in the Speech from the Throne, there is a glaring omission, and that is help for persons with disabilities. The only immediate item for people with disabilities is a small $2-million-a-year increase to the enabling accessibility fund, a $14-million fund that was created by the late Jim Flaherty.
This is in contrast to the Conservative budgets, which created new programs such as the registered disability savings plan and the Canada disability savings grant to help families save for the future of a child with a disability. As well, Jim Flaherty created the enabling accessibility fund in order to create access to public spaces by persons with a physical impediment. The Liberal government promised to introduce a national disabilities act, but this promise, like so many others, has not come to fruition in the 2016 budget.
It is my sincere hope that in the coming years, the new government will actually meet with representatives of the community of persons with disabilities in order to understand the significant challenges that they face each and every day. I have had the immense privilege of listening to many of their stories and I am encouraged and amazed by their perseverance, resilience, and hope. I believe the Liberal government can do better—in fact, must do better—to build an inclusive Canada.
The Liberal government describes itself as a champion of young people. The Prime Minister has expressed that he intends to prioritize Canada's youth, but the monetary lines in the budget simply do not match his rhetoric.
That said, there are a few good things in this budget that I can support—