Madam Speaker, I am glad to be here to speak on Bill C-32 today. Although we are close to the end of the debate, it is good to get one's two cents worth in, particularly right after tax season when it is all that many Canadians will have left as a result of the tax and spend policies of the Liberal government.
We just had a budget introduced in Ontario that gives significant tax relief. On the heels of that budget, there was a dinner in Toronto last night at which every leader of a major Conservative-minded, Conservative policy political party, were in attendance. We note that the leader of the Tories at the far end of the building was not there. We thought maybe Joe Clark did not consider himself to be a Conservative. We have been saying that for quite some time.
The reason our taxes are so high is that the Liberal government is not really in control of spending. Since I am deputy critic of Indian affairs I thought I would talk about some of the uncontrolled and misdirected spending occurring in that area with which I am most familiar.
In committee recently it is interesting to note that members of all parties have begun to speak out on the mismanagement of resources and the wasted lives of Canada's aboriginal people despite massive government spending that is equal to or exceeds the amount spent on other Canadians. Spending on elementary and secondary education of Indian children is in the region of $976 million annually. This is second only to social assistance in the amount of $1.097 million. That is a lot of money. The money spent on education amounts to 21% of all spending by Indian Affairs and Northern Development.
In chapter 4 of the latest report of the auditor general he pointed out that money spent on aboriginal education was not being properly accounted for. The report makes statements like:
Actual education costs are not known to the Department.
The report goes on to say:
It is noteworthy that education funding and costs may be different from each other. For example a March 1999 study concluded that it is not possible to determine how education funds provided by the Department for First Nations schools are actually spent...We reported similar concerns in our previous audits of funding arrangements between the Department and first Nations.
I note the use of the plural of audit. In section 4.65 he says:
We could not find any separate cost per student analysis for First Nations elementary and secondary schools; nor could we find information that identified per student costs paid directly to provincial authorities.
I have spoken to a couple of school boards in my riding about that same issue, where funds have not found their way to the school board responsible for educating the children who have moved in off the reserve. It is getting to be a major issue. Moving on to section 4.66, the auditor general again raised the issue of funding by saying:
—methods used to allocate funds from the Department's headquarters to its regions are based largely on information that was developed at least 15 years ago. The Department has no updated analyses.
What can I say? That 15 year old information is still being used to base spending. The Minister of Finance is raising funds to transfer for Indian education based on 15 year old information, which is a complete waste of taxpayer money.
Special needs students are a special responsibility of society, and here is what the auditor general reported on this area:
In one region of Canada the amount spent on special needs children was $581 per year for all students. In another costs range from $2,047 per special needs student to $65,650 although there was no mechanism in place to ensure that the needs of those students were being met.
What can we say about that? Why should Canadian taxpayers be happy about statistics like those? These figures are not out of the air. They are actual statistics used by the auditor general in making his report.
The finance department collects taxes from all Canadians to fund education for Indians. It is necessary to ensure that the taxes and other funds collected are well spent. Mismanagement of public funds is one of the main reasons taxes are so high. Repayment of Canada's national debt which stands at almost $580 billion is negligible.
We have been speaking about the money side of it, but the numbers only tell half the story about Indian education. The latest auditor general's report uncovers a human tragedy. Students are just not getting the education they need to succeed in society. Their dropout rates are far higher than normal. They are not moving from high school into jobs.
The dropout rate before completion of grade 9 is 18%, whereas the rate for all Canadians is 3%. For Indian youth between the ages of 18 and 20 who left school the rate is 40% and 16% for the Canadian population. For Indian youth between the ages of 18 and 20 who graduated the rate is 30% whereas for all Canadians it is 63%. The population with at least a high school education is 37% for Indians and 65% for all Canadians.
Canadians are paying a lot of money in the form of the millions of dollars the finance minister's bracket creep has brought into the taxation system. This includes people from the first nations and immigrants. It includes all taxpayers from teenagers with after school and evening jobs to people past retirement age who are still working and everyone in between, the rich and the poor. People have been pushed into higher tax brackets and are paying more and more money for results that just do not amount to anything. It is a disaster for the human beings involved in this kind of program. We should all be ashamed of it. I certainly am.
What can we say about the government when it comes to other things like debt repayment? Does debt repayment amount to anything? Not at a bit. No homeowner or businessman would be permitted to take such a cavalier attitude toward debt reduction.
Let us imagine what would happen if people with mortgages on their houses were permitted to tell the bank how much they were going to pay. What would happen if they could walk into a bank, reach into their pockets or wallets and pull out some change? What would happen if they counted out a few bills, tossed them down and said that is what they were paying on their home mortgages? They would not even get out of the bank without the manager grabbing on to them and saying that they need to sit down, sign something and make a plan to get out of debt.
When people get too far in debt I am told counselling is available. Maybe we should send the finance minister for counselling to figure out how to handle Canada's debt. The government is putting a mortgage on the future of our young people. Anybody who deals in mortgages knows that is a dead hand, that we cannot move. That is the way of the future.
Unless the Minister of Finance gets a grip on Canadian taxation and allows the economy to get moving, we will pass on to our children a non-performing economy and a country that will be better to leave if future economic prospects mean anything. The best alternative is a Canadian Alliance government, and that is what will happen after the next election.