Mr. Speaker, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
The latest budget implementation bill is, not surprisingly, another omnibus bill. This one is 150 pages long and amends dozens of acts, most of which have nothing to do with the budget. Unfortunately, that should come as no surprise. The Conservatives have gotten into this habit and have tried to make it the norm for Parliament. They have gotten us used to disdain—even outright disgust—for the basic principles of parliamentary democracy. Frankly, this is one of the biggest disappointments of my first mandate.
Since being elected as a majority government, the Conservatives have done everything in their power to sidestep their transparency and accountability obligations. They are the government, but they seem to have forgotten that the MPs, including Conservative backbenchers and opposition MPs, are responsible for overseeing and studying bills. Unfortunately, the Conservatives have repeatedly used omnibus bills as a tactic to avoid the oversight that is meant to be carried out by all of the other parliamentarians in the House as well as all Canadians.
With this clearly undemocratic process, the Conservatives are trying to rush through hundreds of legislative amendments that have nothing to do with the budget, without any study. In the case of the most recent budget, which was tabled on April 21, 2015, on one of the rare work days of our current Minister of Finance, the Conservatives saw an opportunity to launch their election campaign. For the Conservatives, it was not an opportunity to help people who really need help and middle-class Canadian families. It was an opportunity to give presents to their wealthy friends instead of helping those most in need.
Despite the warnings of the Parliamentary Budget Officer, many opposition MPs and various experts, the Conservatives are moving forward with their ill-advised income splitting regime, which will obviously help just 15% of the richest Canadian families and not those who really need help. The income splitting together with the increase in the TFSA contribution limit, which will rise to $10,000, will mean a decrease of billions of dollars in the public coffers in future years.
That money could be used to implement social programs to help families; people living in poverty; single mothers, who the Conservatives claim to want to help; more traditional couples; and so on. However, the government prefers to work on getting re-elected. According to this government, it is not the problem of today's elected officials. Rather, it is the problem of the Prime Minister's granddaughter and future generations. Quite frankly, that is one of the worst things I have heard in the House or anywhere else.
In any case, that is what the current Minister of Finance and this Conservative government think. They are washing their hands of it and will leave it up to our children, grandchildren and future generations to fix all the problems they are creating now. Frankly, that is an irresponsible attitude that I do not understand, especially from people who boast about being extraordinarily strong fiscal managers. Time and time again we have seen that this is not the case.
The Conservatives would have us believe that this is their reputation, but Canadians can see right through it. They know very well that this is not the case. In fact, more and more recent studies name provincial New Democrat governments as the best managers of public funds. In 2015 we will have the opportunity to show Canadians that we will also be the best federal managers of public funds.
To get back to the budget that was just tabled, even the measures that appear to be universal will have very few positive effects on Canadian families. The universal child care benefit is the best example of that. The Conservatives announced a $60 increase with much fanfare. Canadian families will now receive $160 to help them with child care costs. At first glance that may seem like a lot, but with the Conservatives, the devil is in the details and you have to dig a little deeper.
The first thing the Conservatives refuse to tell Canadian families is that this universal child care benefit will be considered taxable income. It is therefore another tax that the Conservative government is imposing on Canadians, regardless of their income.
That tax will be imposed on families regardless of their income. The advice that financial experts are giving Canadian families is to not spend that money on child care but to keep at least half of it to cover any unpleasant surprises they may get when they file their income tax return next year. How does the government think it is really going to help families when they have to put some of the money it gives them aside to cover the cost of this new tax? Frankly, that is ridiculous.
The Conservatives do not seem to understand that $160 per month does not even come close to covering child care costs across the country. I would like to quote a few statistics from 2012 that I obtained from the Childcare Resource and Research Unit. Unfortunately, things have not improved since then. In Nova Scotia, parents who manage to find a day care space for their child—because not all of them can—pay an average of $825 a month. In British Columbia, parents pay an average of $1,047 a month, and in Ontario they pay $1,152 a month. In Toronto, more specifically, child care costs can be up to $1,676 a month. I do not know who the Conservatives think they are going to help with $160 a month. That amount is absolutely ridiculous when we look at the actual financial constraints faced by families who simply want to earn a living and make sure that their children are receiving the best care possible. I really do not know where the government's head is at, offering families such a ridiculously low amount, especially given that they have to save part of it to pay their taxes the following year.