Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to take part in this debate.
First I thank the people of Beauséjour—Petitcodiac for electing me to represent them. It is certainly a great honour. I want to talk a bit about the throne speech and what was in it for the people of Beauséjour—Petitcodiac.
I am here today as a member of Parliament representing people who felt it was time to put a stop to the painful cuts caused by the Liberal government.
It was time to elect someone they called one of their own: one who knows what having to borrow money for post-secondary education is; one who knows what poverty is; one who knows what having to look for a job means; one who knows what it is to be a single mom; one who knows what fishing lobster is all about; one who knows what wood cutters do; one who knows how people survive on social assistance because some of them are my friends.
Maybe some time we should stop and think about how they live. Many of my friends on social assistance do not know what it is to have gifts under the tree at Christmastime. Many of us here have never been in that situation. Many of my friends do not know how they will feed their children or where they will be tomorrow.
Some know what it is like not to wonder if they will be able to feed their children or be able to pay the $100 registration fee for a six year old to join hockey. Some know what it is like to live in shelters for battered women. There are many of us out there and no facilities to accommodate the need.
Some know what impact sun and rain has on tourism in the Atlantic. Does everyone understand the impact a rainy summer on the Atlantic region when the tourists do not come? Not only does it affect workers. It also affects businesses.
I am one who knows the impact of government cuts on small and medium size business. When people do not have money to spend businesses do not sell. I am one who knows what it is to be a seasonal worker.
I am proud to stand before the House on behalf of the people of Beauséjour—Petitcodiac and on behalf of seasonal workers. Seasonal work is important in Atlantic Canada but misunderstood by the Liberal government.
Seasonal workers have been called every name in the book by the Liberal government, from being dependent on the UI system to being lazy and drunk in taverns and not wanting to look for work. This is from the ex MP for Beauséjour, the prime minister himself.
It is interesting when we think about it that they are the same so-called lazy people he so proudly came to beg for support to get his one way ticket to Ottawa. I take part of the blame for his being prime minister; the people of Beauséjour elected him and gave him that opportunity.
Members may be wondering today what the riding of Beauséjour—Petitcodiac got from the Prime Minister in return for electing someone who is not from the area. It gives me great pleasure to tell you all about it.
First, we got cuts in health care, which have resulted in an unacceptable situation for our seniors. We all heard about the two employees who spoke up against the unacceptable situation in nursing homes caused by the cuts in transfer payments to the provinces. I must denounce the disciplinary measures taken by the management of the Providence home in Shediac against two employees who tried to pressure the federal and provincial ministers into putting more money in health care so that they could properly care for our seniors. These are the people who fought for our country during the Second World War. The present government shows absolutely no respect for our senior citizens.
We also saw cuts in unemployment insurance, now called employment insurance, a name I do not agree with at all.
Even though the Prime Minister had promised during the 1991 election campaign to shorten the qualifying period, today we find ourselves with a system that no longer meets the needs of the unemployed. People call us in our riding offices crying and saying their employment insurance benefits have run out and their seasonal work is not due to start for another two or three months. There are also people who do not qualify at all for employment insurance, such as part time workers in hospitals, schools, plants, and so on.
They even closed employment centres like the one in Bouctouche. Instead of helping rural communities overcome the lack of jobs, the federal government is taking away from the unemployed the necessary tools that could help them rejoin the labour market.
They also cut the staff of other employment centres, like the ones in Shediac, Sackville and Richibuctou, at a time when there is a surplus in the employment insurance fund.
Cutting jobs in our rural communities does not only translates into lost services. It has a disastrous economic impact on these communities because these jobs are the only ones that pay reasonably well.
We must start trying to understand the situation in which rural communities find themselves. In our region, jobs are not found on every street corner.
Let us see what Sackville received from the Liberals. We no longer have an animal pathology lab. Approximately 60 employees lost their jobs at Maritime Atlantic. The armouries is on the way out. Can we imagine that in a town of 5,400 residents Sackville is fighting to keep its post office open? After going door to door during the campaign I call Albert County the forgotten land. It has been absolutely ignored in every way imaginable.
We must not forget jobs, jobs, jobs. The Liberal government forgot a word in its promise of jobs, jobs, jobs, and that word is cut. The Liberals meant job cuts, 45,000 federal jobs. Not only were the jobs gone but the service with them.
In New Brunswick we are getting job creation at $6.25 an hour. Has anyone calculated how much money a person makes at $6.25 an hour for 35 hours a week and how much that person is paying for child care? I have talked to those people. I have had single mothers around me crying because they just do not work.
The $6.25 an hour jobs are for a maximum of 26 weeks so they can go back on EI. It is a vicious circle. They end up poorer in the end than when they started working. Now the Liberals are wondering why there are so many poor families.
As I look across the floor I can see who is responsible for the increase in poverty. It is the Liberal government. While it caters to the bank, families are suffering. This is not acceptable. Liberals should be ashamed. They should be setting targets for the reduction of unemployment just as they have set targets for deficit reduction.
Then we have the GST. We are rid of the GST in New Brunswick. We have the HST instead. We now pay 15 per cent tax on children's clothing, electricity, heating, and it goes on and on. Again it attacks low income families. When will it stop? The young people graduating from high school have lost all hope in post-secondary education.
All the cuts came with an extremely high price. Poverty has increased. Businesses are closing. People are losing their jobs. Families cannot take that stress any longer. Many families depend on the fishing industry as a way of life. The failures of past and present government policies have driven them to complete despair and destroyed their proud and historical way of life.
The throne speech mentioned a deep concern for aboriginal issues. If the government were so concerned about the first nations, why is the Big Cove Reserve suicide situation not recognized as a crisis? Two more young first nations people have died over the last three months since the help line was cut due to insufficient funding. Unfortunately there was nothing in the throne speech to give hope to the elderly, the students, the sick, the unemployed and the small and medium businesses of Beauséjour—Petitcodiac. Let us not forget we got one thing: we got a senator.
I thank the people of Beauséjour for paying off the deficit and all the other unemployed, sick and students of the country who paid the deficit. If members do not believe me they can ask the banks.
In closing, if a mother starves her child it is called child abuse, but if the Liberals starve a million children it is called balancing the books. The pain has to stop.