Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to have this opportunity to share my thoughts on the 2015-16 budget despite the fact that it is yet another omnibus bill with closure. I think that the Conservatives have made history, not for their skill with budgets, but for their contempt of democracy. So successful have they been that the expression “Conservative tactics”—meaning the undue use of time allocation, lack of transparency and contempt for democracy—has become part of our everyday vocabulary. A sure sign of that is their use of an omnibus bill to pass measures that are outright illegal, such as those related to the RCMP and access to information.
We all know that the Conservatives are trying to protect themselves from prosecution by passing a bill that retroactively legalizes the illegal things they did. That is in clause 230, if I am not mistaken. When people in any Canadian province say that a government is using Conservative tactics, they are referring to this government.
If the members take a good look at themselves in the mirror, perhaps they will one day understand that what they have done here is completely undemocratic. It is really unfortunate, because more and more young people are becoming cynical about politics. The tactics that the Conservatives have been using over the past four years will only reinforce that cynicism among young people regarding politics. It is unfortunate.
Let us talk about the budget, but let us also talk about what is not in the budget. We talk a lot about what is in the budget, but we do not talk about what is not there.
We are in the middle of an unprecedented housing crisis in Canada and Quebec. We know that 1.5 million households do not have access to housing. The federal government continues to disengage year after year. In its 2012-13 budget, the government cut investments in housing by $21.7 million. By 2030—and 2030 is closer than you think; it is only 15 years away—if the federal government maintains its current level of disengagement, $1.7 billion will have been cut from social housing. This amounts to 85% of the total federal housing budget. For example, with the end of social housing agreements, 26,000 housing units have been affected since 2011. By 2016, over 100,000 units will have been affected. We are talking about families, women and children, who could wind up homeless, who will be forced to turn to food banks, who will no longer be able to afford groceries because they will have to pay too much for housing. Is that acceptable? No.
La Pointe-de-l'Île is no exception. In the borough of Rivière-des-Prairies—Pointe-aux-Trembles, 6,500 people spend more than 30% of their income on housing. The director of Infologis de l'Est de Montréal calls these numbers alarming. I would like to commend him on the excellent work he and his organization do for La Pointe-de-l'Île and Montreal East. When families spend more than 30% of their income on housing, they do not have much left to spend on other essentials, such as food. Almost 20% of the households in Pointe-aux-Trembles spend more than 50% of their income on housing; that is one in five households. It makes no sense.
In 2009, the current Prime Minister went to the UN and made a promise to the Human Rights Council to work with the provinces and territories to ensure that every Canadian and Quebecker had access to suitable and affordable housing.
The provinces are stretched to the limit and are at a loss as to what to do. The government's lack of leadership is only adding to the burden on the provinces. The lack of social housing and the deterioration of existing social housing have become critical. We are going to hit a wall.
The government needs to understand the importance of investing in affordable housing programs in order to put an end to homelessness and ensure not only that all families, all Canadians and all Quebeckers have a roof over their heads, but that they do not have to choose between food, health care and housing, because that is unacceptable.
We are the only G7 country that does not have a social housing strategy. It is high time that the government adopted the NDP plan for a national housing strategy so that everyone can have decent, affordable housing. Unfortunately, we cannot support a budget that reduces funding for social housing.
Let us now turn to rail safety because La Pointe-de-l'Île is a railway hub. Since the Lac-Mégantic disaster, we have come to realize that our system has privatized Canadians' safety. Rail safety and our system are inadequate. In the early 2000s, the system was privatized. Self-regulation prevailed, even with respect to inspection. At a time when the transportation of crude oil is increasing exponentially, our safety system must be reviewed.
In a report published on October 22, 2013, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives criticized the shortage of inspectors. In 2009 there was one inspector for every 14 tank cars. Now, in 2015, there is one inspector for every 4,000 tank cars. Since the tragic accident in Lac-Mégantic, the Government of Canada has hired just one additional inspector. We went from 116 inspectors to 117. That is unacceptable, and it is putting the lives of the people of La Pointe-de-l'Île in danger.
It is high time for the government to invest in rail safety. Everyone agrees on this: the unions, the Auditor General and the Railway Association of Canada. We have a big problem with inspections, and now is the time to take action. There is not a single mention of rail safety in the 2015-16 budget.
We cannot support a budget that puts the lives of Canadians and Quebeckers in danger. For example, the DOT-111 cars, which were declared dangerous by the Transportation Safety Board and the Auditor General, will be phased out, but it will be done over 10 years. For another 10 years those DOT-111 cars will continue to operate in communities across Canada and Quebec, including in my riding, La Pointe-de-l'Île. Rail safety is clearly a problem.
I am calling on the government to make appropriate investments in rail safety in order to keep everyone safe. For example, with regard to the most recent oil spill in Gogama, in northern Ontario, the Transportation Safety Board said that the problem was with the tracks. That means it is an inspection issue because the companies are responsible for the tracks. The government has been complacent about this. Given the large number of accidents that have occurred since the Lac-Mégantic tragedy, I hope that the Conservatives will realize that it is high time something was done about this.
There is also the issue of health, since we have an aging population. Seniors need proper and accessible health care. The government did away with the Health Council of Canada, which told it that the provincial transfers would have to be increased by 6% to address the issue of the aging population. The Conservatives silenced the Health Council of Canada and said that they were going to cap the transfers at 3%. The provinces are left with a $36 billion shortfall when it comes to health investments for everyone, including seniors.
Does this government really think we are going to vote for a bill that directly affects health care for Quebec and Canadian seniors? I am sorry, but we cannot support this budget.