Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Scarborough Southwest.
Today, my speech is going to be very long. I already know that I will be cut short. I want to take the time to thank my constituents, the men and women who were active in my riding, who came to the office and to whom we provided services. I would also like to thank all the people who work in this place, from the pages to the maintenance workers who work through the night to all the food services people and you, Mr. Speaker, as well as the other two Speakers.
Today, I join my colleagues in speaking to the 2015 budget implementation bill. I have many concerns and questions about this bill that we are debating with just a few days left before the end of the parliamentary session. Recently, we have been going over the record of this past year, and I have been thinking about my record in my first term of office.
I want to digress for a moment and talk about how the government is using undemocratic processes to pass this bill. I got into politics because I care about our laws and our democratic process. I became a legislator in 2011 to serve the interests of the people of Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles. However, I have been on Parliament Hill for four years, and it has become clear that the party in power has no respect for this country's democratic processes.
For example, last week the Conservatives issued their 100th gag order since they took power, which is a Canadian record. This undermines the right of Canadians and their elected representatives to democratically debate important legislation.
In addition, we are now debating the seventh consecutive omnibus bill. As the election approaches, this government is trying to rush through hundreds of changes without subjecting them to studies or oversight. However, Canadians are not stupid. In other years this was done because as summer approached we reached the end of the sitting, but we get omnibus bills like this one every year.
The bill is 150 pages long and contains 270 provisions, many of which amend laws that have nothing to do with a budget. They give gifts to the government's friends and the wealthiest members of our society. When the bill was before committee, the government was unreasonable and ignored all of the opposition's amendments, including the very sensible amendments proposed by the NDP.
I would therefore like to say that I will be voting against Bill C-59 because of both its content and the undemocratic process that the Conservatives once again used to push this bill through Parliament. The people of Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles are fed up with this political manoeuvring. We can already tell that a desire for change is sweeping the country.
On a side note, I would like to tell a little story that I am sure my colleagues will find perplexing. It is a tradition in Canada for the finance minister to buy a new pair of shoes to wear when tabling the budget. This year, the minister chose to buy shoes that were made in the United States. That image calls to mind the thousands of jobs that have been lost in Canada's manufacturing sector. It is not surprising that the Canadian economy is in such bad shape when the Conservatives' symbol of job creation involves buying the product from another country instead of creating well-paid jobs in Canada.
Getting back to business, I would like to share with the House some of my concerns with this bill. I would like to talk about eight elements that the government has neglected but that matter very much to my constituents: the fact that the Conservatives have not done anything about excessive bank fees; the lack of consideration for the decline of French in minority communities outside Quebec; the dismemberment of CBC/Radio-Canada; the growing burden on families and women, particularly those without access to affordable daycare; the end of home mail delivery by Canada Post; the pillaging of employment insurance; poor statistics on employment in Canada; and the tax credit for labour-sponsored funds.
Coming back to the subject of bank fees, the government could have used budget 2015 as an opportunity to enhance protections for consumers and help families who are struggling with excessive bank fees. This is yet another missed opportunity. Canada currently has no regulations to limit bank fees. That is not right. The banks are raking in record profits, while Canadians are having a hard time making ends meet. There are numerous measures that could have been useful: guaranteeing free paper bills, capping credit card interest rates and putting an end to “pay-to-pay”, for example.
I encourage the Minister of Finance to carefully read my bill, Bill C-663, which proposes many positive measures for the pocketbooks of Canadians. For example, it proposes requiring banks to issue an annual report that shows all fees charged to customers, capping NSF fees, and giving customers a grace period before charging them for an NSF cheque. NSF fees give people bad credit ratings. The government has a duty to protect consumers through regulations and strong legislative measures.
When it comes to the Francophonie and the French language, I was extremely disappointed in this bill. In 2015 I became the official opposition Francophonie critic. I will take a moment to illustrate how disengaged this government is when it comes to its obligations under the Official Languages Act and the Canadian Constitution. The government does not seem to care that a number of francophone minority communities are at risk of losing more and more services provided in French by federal institutions. The Francophonie, linguistic duality and official languages are not even mentioned in the budget. How shameful.
We also see that there is nothing to protect the CBC, which is currently going through one of the biggest crises in its history. With the Conservatives making cuts to the tune of $115 million in three years, the effects are already being felt across Canada. There have been cuts to the length of the newscasts, the number of journalists abroad, sports coverage and documentaries. More important still is the death by a thousand cuts of the local productions that were extremely important to the francophone minority communities. The CBC's French service has been hard hit. Ten positions were cut in Acadia, 15 positions were cut in Ontario and 16 positions were cut in the western provinces.
The NDP is the only party that is promising to cancel the $115 million in cuts to our public broadcaster and give it stable, predictable, multi-year funding. We want to maintain the vitality and development of our francophone communities across the country.
With regard to the status of women, I am bringing my perspective to this debate as a mother and also as the former president of the Regroupement des groupes de femmes de la région de la Capitale-Nationale in Quebec City. I am disappointed that there are no measures in this bill to create new child care spaces. What happened to the child care spaces the Conservatives promised? They evaporated, much like the Conservatives' other promises. Many experts have said that the Conservatives' income splitting policy could encourage a disproportionate number of women to leave the workforce or not enter it at all. The NDP wants to promote employability, leadership and entrepreneurship among women, not return to the past.
I would like to close by saying that I condemn the government's tactic of dipping into the employment insurance fund to balance the budget. It does not make any sense that fewer and fewer people who contribute to the employment insurance fund are able to access it when they need it most. The NDP will immediately do away with the federal government's plan to raise the retirement age to 67. When it forms the next government, the NDP will reintroduce the tax credit for labour-sponsored funds, which was eliminated by this Conservative government.