Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister bought the Minister of Finance a new pair of work boots for the budget the other day and it is a good thing because he has certainly got his work cut out for him.
Like all new work boots, or at least like any that I have had, it will only be a matter of time now before he gets a certain amount of organic material on them.
This was the minister's first budget and we can only hope that within the next three budgets he will get better at reducing the deficit. This budget will put Canadians another $39.7 billion in debt, bringing the total debt in two years to $550 billion. If we add the projected deficit of $39.7 billion to this and the $32.7 billion for the forecast for next year, one will find that we are adding another $72.4 billion to our already burgeoning debt.
Since we are living on borrowed money, as has already been pointed out by my hon. colleague from Calgary, and borrowed money is subject to interest of at least 7 per cent, if we are lucky, we are adding another $5 billion in interest to that debt.
To switch off of the negative for second, I do wish to commend the minister for showing at least some restraint and changing some government operations which will produce some savings.
Unfortunately, it seems to me that all of this will be negated by the cost of the 18 new programs and 15 new studies announced in this budget.
When will this government admit that we have a spending problem? Spending is the key, not revenue. The government revenues for 1993-94 totalled $127 billion. The Prime Minister said in this House not too long ago we cannot run government as if it were a business.
Even if we grant him that supposition, perhaps the government could be run like a household. Certainly, when we can no longer pay our bills in our household we have to take drastic measures; namely, do without some of the things that we can do
without in order to reduce our expenditures to fit our income. That certainly seems to make sense to me.
The whole issue of spending $70 billion a year on a social safety net and a further $40 billion on interest to service our debt simply has to stop. Past governments have certainly made the military their whipping boy at budget time. What do you know, this government seems to have taken right up where the other bunch left off.
We on this side of the House were quite pleased. We applauded and supported the government in its promise to undertake a military defence review. Instead it accelerated the process and we as members of Parliament did not have any opportunity for input. It completely prejudiced the outcome of the study by going ahead and closing bases and reducing others.
Perhaps if we had had a better equipped military we could have exercised sovereignty over the Atlantic fishery and we would not have to pay support to the whole east coast fishing industry. The cod stocks maybe would not be quite as low as they are now, and certainly they are depleted. Members opposite refer to our cod stocks as extinct. Now we have added all these otherwise self-sufficient business people to the ranks of the full time unemployed.
The January unemployment rate was 11.4 per cent in Canada. Stats Canada reports that there were 1,592,000 unemployed people in Canada last month and that does not take into account all those people who have dropped out of the system.
This budget simply nibbled at the edges in my opinion. The unemployment insurance program is a good example of that.
Reducing the generosity of the program is, however, a step in the right direction. After all, we are all aware that generous UI programs do have the effect of increasing the number of people drawing unemployment insurance.
The cumulative deficit of the unemployment insurance account amounts to $6 billion. It is a fallacy to believe that this is solely a worker-employer funded program. It is the government, the taxpayer of Canada, paying for the shortfall.
The unemployment insurance program changes announced in the budget begin to target social benefits to lower income Canadians, as the minister has said, to target those most in need. This as well is a positive step.
The Canadian unemployment insurance plan has become an inefficient income supplement plan rather than social insurance. We need to the "un" out of unemployment insurance. It should be employment insurance with extra emphasis on insurance. We buy life insurance, not death insurance.
The Reform Party policy is to make employment insurance a sensible, sustainable program of social insurance which provides compensation for temporary loss of employment. We believe the program should be funded by employers and employees who determine the level of premiums and benefits. This, I am sure, would go a long way in reducing the underground economy and ultimately relieving the tax burden.
To quote the hon. Minister of Finance, the underground economy is not simply about smuggling, it is about hundreds of thousands of otherwise honest people who have withdrawn their consent to be governed.
It appears that they are withdrawing their consent to be overtaxed as well.