Mr. Speaker, I have the great pleasure today of rising to speak to Bill C-43.
It should come as no surprise to anybody that the New Democrats are going to oppose this legislation, and I am going to explain why we oppose it. I am going to provide some reasons to explain why we are going to oppose it.
One of the many reasons is that the Conservatives have used an anti-democratic process to force legislation through Parliament. They have used this trick over and over again. When they have a bill that they know will not pass on its own, they put it into an omnibus budget bill. Even though it has absolutely nothing to do with budget issues, they put it in an omnibus bill and get it passed that way.
My colleague from Skeena—Bulkley Valley moved several amendments that would have improved the bill. They would not have made it perfect, but they certainly would have improved it. I want to go over some of the amendments that were suggested.
The first one was as follows:
That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word "That" and substituting the following:
this House decline to give second reading to Bill C-43, A second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 11, 2014 and other measures, because it:
a) amends dozens of unrelated Acts without adequate parliamentary debate and oversight...
As I mentioned a while ago, the Conservatives shoved a lot of bills that they knew would not pass on their own into this omnibus bill.
The amendment goes on to say:
b) fails to address persistent unemployment and sluggish economic growth;
c) aims to strip refugee claimants of access to social assistance to meet their basic needs;
d) imposes a poorly designed job credit that will create few, if any, jobs while depleting Employment Insurance funds...
Depleting the employment insurance fund we have seen before. The Liberals took $50 billion out of the employment insurance fund, and the Conservatives rubber-stamped that—I do not want to use the word “theft”—money that they took from the employment insurance fund and put it in general accounts. That was a Liberal move that was rubber-stamped by the Conservatives.
The amendment further states:
e) breaks the government's promises to protect small businesses from merchant fees and to ban banks from charging pay-to-pay fees.
Previously, small businesses could use a tax credit to hire more employees to create employment. As we know, it is the small businesses that create employment in this country. It is not the big businesses but the small ones, the mom-and-pop businesses, that are very important.
With regard to pay-to-pay fees, the Conservatives like to cut public service jobs by forcing Canadians to pay their bills by computer, but as we know, a lot of seniors in Canada do not know how or do not want to use computers and are forced to pay these pay-to-pay fees in order to pay their everyday bills.
Bill C-43 is another omnibus budget bill designed to ram through hundreds of changes with little study and no oversight. The Conservatives used time allocation over and over again. I am not sure what number we are up to, but it is certainly 75 to 80 times that they have used that process. The bill is over 450 pages, has more than 400 clauses, amends dozens of acts, and includes a variety of measures never mentioned in the budget speech.
Bill C-43 is an outright attack on some of the most vulnerable people in our society, refugee claimants being one, and the implementation of a hiring credit has already been panned by experts and the Parliamentary Budget Officer as wasteful and extraordinarily expensive. Their way of creating jobs is to spend lots of money. They accuse the opposition party of being spenders, but if we look at their track record, it is not very impressive.
There is nothing in this bill to get the almost 300,000 more unemployed Canadians than before the recession back to work or to help replace the 400,000 manufacturing jobs lost under the Prime Minister's watch.
I would like to go back to pay-to-pay fees. This is one of the things in the bill that we support. We are happy to see the Conservatives finally adopt an NDP proposal—I repeat, an NDP proposal—to end pay-to-pay billing. It was a private member's bill that my colleague from Sudbury introduced, and the people of Sudbury should be very happy to be represented by such a good MP.
Canadians should not be forced to pay these bills. Unfortunately, Bill C-43 would only ban pay-to-pay for telecom and broadcasting companies. It fails to live up to a promise that the Conservatives made to end the unfair gouging by banks.
A lot of companies use pay-to-pay fees. It is not only the telecommunications companies. It is Ontario hydro, Hydro-Québec, credit card companies, and a lot of the major companies. A lot of the major companies are using this pay-to-pay fee and making Canadians pay to pay their bills.
The other thing in this bill is about credit unions. Being a former member of the Caisse populaire Vermillon in Chelmsford, Espanola, and Dowling, I know that the credit unions and caisses populaires are very important to Canadians. However, with Bill C-43 the Conservatives are changing the regulatory landscape for credit unions without their input, so again the Conservatives have decided on their own, without speaking to credit union operators, managers, or the people who run credit unions. They did not have an input into what the Conservatives decided to do. The exact impact of those changes is not yet known, but we know they are going to adversely affect the credit unions and caisses populaires.
This is almost like the changes that the Conservatives made in the 2013 budget, which unfairly hiked taxes on credit unions. I happened to have a meeting with the caisse populaire from Verner. The manager was in my office, along with some other people from the caisse populaire. They were very concerned about the effects that this bill would have on the credit unions.
What we would like to see is action to implement a pan-Canadian child care program that would ensure that families have access to quality child care spaces for less than $15. This would grow our economy, help women enter the workforce, and help families to make ends meet. In today's economy, it is very difficult to raise a family on one income, and that is because of some of the laws that have been passed by the Conservative government. If we were able to organize it as Quebec has done and help families with daycare, it would certainly go a long way toward strengthening our workforce.
I want to jump a few pages and name some people and businesses who are validating our position.
Mike Moffatt, from the Ivey Business School at the University of Western Ontario, said:
...the proposed “Small Business Job Credit” has major structural flaws that, in many cases, give firms an incentive to fire workers and cut salaries.
Paul Wells, from Maclean's magazine, said:
...by the broadest measure of expenditure on research and development, Canada has fallen from 16th out of 41 comparable countries....
That is not very impressive.
Here is one from conservative commentator Andrew Coyne. Of the omnibus budget bill, he wrote:
Not only does this make a mockery of the confidence convention, shielding bills that would otherwise be defeatable within a money bill, which is not...
This brings me to the point I mentioned previously, that the Conservatives have put a lot of sections in this bill that are not related to money.