Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time today with the member for Edmonton Riverbend.
It is said that if one wants to bring constructive criticism, one should make a sandwich; say something positive, then bring the criticism, then finish off with something else positive. That is what I will try to do today. I will make a budget 2016 sandwich.
As the science critic, I will begin by pointing out an extremely positive aspect of the budget. The Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development and I met earlier in the session and, together, we decided that it would be a good idea to develop a Canadian science strategy that both sides of the House could support. That is what we did.
As members can see in this budget, we kept the granting council, which supports quality applied research in co-operation with universities, industries, and governments. Increased funding was granted in order to enhance Canada's innovation skills.
Built upon the strong supports of our previous government, budget 2016 would now provide the granting council program for NSERC, CIHR, and SSHRC for research investment with an additional $141 million in annual resources.
I am also very pleased that our previous Conservative government's knowledge infrastructure fund has been retained as the post-secondary investment fund. Targeted investments aimed at our post-secondary institutions will promote Canadian research and discoveries for generations to come.
Similarly, we restored targeted basic research methods. As a result, Canada has made considerable gains in genomics and particle physics, several areas of medical research, and big data.
In other areas, at the global level, we are working on maintaining our international ventures. We also recognize that we need to support the commercialization of Canadian technologies to create more jobs in Canada. Therefore, $100 million was included in the budget to that end. That is very positive.
However, not everything in the budget is positive. The Liberal government has promised deficits nearing $30 billion this year, and more than $100 billion over the next four years. On top of this, the Liberal government seems to have no clear plan on how to pay it back or to balance its budgets in the future. This will cause Canadians to have a deficit of $10 billion annually just to pay back the interest on the money borrowed by the Liberal government. No family would put in place a budget that would put it into debt forever. It is just not wise.
I am also not pleased about the fact that tax cuts to the Canadian middle class will cost the country more than $1.7 billion every year. It was supposed to be cost neutral. Can the government not do basic math?
The same goes for small businesses. Budget 2016 would stop the previous government's lowering of taxes on small businesses. The Liberals promised to cut the tax rate to 9%, but they have broken this promise, which would now cost these same small businesses upward of $2 billion in extra taxes annually.
Next, we will look at infrastructure funding, which was supposed to keep the recession at bay while creating jobs. However, less money is available this year than was promised.
My riding of Sarnia—Lambton has a project for the creation of an oversized load corridor. In discussions with the Minister of Infrastructure and his team, I was assured there would be a fund for trade corridors that this project would fit very well into. For $12 million, this project would create up to 3,000 well-paying jobs in southern Ontario. However, no funding was made available in the budget and therefore no jobs were created for the project. In fact, overall in the budget, the government predicts it will only change the unemployment rate by 0.3% over four years. Seriously? This, for $113 billion?
I would now like to speak about the climate change direction in the budget.
The reality today is that Canada makes up less than 2% of the world's carbon footprint. We could totally eliminate our footprint in Canada, and it would have no fact and evidence based temperature result on the planet. Therefore, our approach should be to leverage our carbon emissions reduction technologies to the substantive contributors like China, the U.S., and India, which make up 40% of the footprint. This budget, with an attempt to layer on additional carbon tax, would drive jobs out of Canada to other regions, but would not help the planet. It would just move the carbon footprint somewhere else.
An example of this from my riding is a project currently being considered, worth billions of dollars and thousands of jobs. With two levels of carbon tax, this project is uncompetitive here and will go to the U.S. gulf coast. The carbon footprint is the same for the planet, but we lose thousands of jobs. This is what will happen across the fossil-fuel business without a better plan. While we lose job opportunities like this one, $2.65 billion is being spent in a foreign fund to benefit other nations like China and India, which are substantive contributors to the global carbon footprint and which are still building coal facilities. This is not an approach that would help the planet, help Canadians, or help Canada.
I am also concerned about how much money we give to other countries, in light of the fact that there are people in need in Canada.
At present, more than $5 billion of taxpayers' money is sent abroad for various programs. At the same time, we have homeless veterans and seniors who cannot make ends meet after having worked all their lives. Fort McMurray is still burning and hundreds of thousands of jobs have been lost.
We need to help Canadians and realize that we cannot be as generous as we once were given our current financial situation.
Let us move past these issues into another area of concern for the Canadian public: national security and defence. One of the most important jobs for any government is to protect its citizenry. Now more than ever we need more defence, not less defence. Cutting $3.7 billion from the defence budget is absolutely reckless, as I heard at the town hall meeting I held on this issue in my riding, where I consulted broadly with people. Much-needed ships for the navy as well as equipment for the air force have been put on hold with no explanation or expectation given for future timelines of availability. We need to ensure the men and women who protect our country are well-equipped, and we need to ensure our borders remain secure.
Now, I come to the final part of the budget 2016 sandwich.
Having just spoken about defence, I do appreciate any increase in benefits for veterans. There is much more to be done, and we need to ensure veterans are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.
I also would like to speak about seniors. My riding has an aging demographic, so I am pleased to see an increase in the guaranteed income supplement. It may only be $18 a week, but seniors on a fixed income need all the help they can get. I still think we need to do more. I am glad that the income splitting for pensioners was retained, but I would like to have seen the tax-free savings account limit expanded. Many seniors use this to preserve their savings and increase their flexibility in retirement.
Finally, with an ever-growing number of individuals of all ages experiencing chronic and terminal conditions across Canada, and in light of the assisted-dying legislation, I was happy to hear the Minister of Health say that there were $3 billion in this budget for home and palliative care. That said, I could not find the actual words palliative care in the budget. However, I trust that since this has been repeated by the minister in the House on numerous occasions, and the Liberal Party recently made a resolution on palliative care, I believe there is support for this on all sides of the House.
That is why I have introduced my private member's bill, Bill C-277, on palliative care. Good palliative care covers a wide range of services such as acute hospital care, hospice care, home care, crisis care, and spiritual and psychological counselling. Those who have access to good palliative care choose to live as well as they can for as long as they can. Now is the time to get this in place for the 70% of Canadians who do not have access to this service. I am pleased with this commitment. It is a good start.
I am happy to see more summer jobs for youth as well.
To summarize the budget sandwich, thumbs up on science, thumbs down on fiscal responsibility; thumbs down on the approach to infrastructure, climate change and defence; and thumbs up for moving in the direction of good for seniors, veterans, palliative care, and youth.