Mr. Speaker, I rise today in the House to firmly oppose Bill C-59, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on April 21, 2015 and other measures. This bill should be rejected not only because of its content, but also because of how it was presented.
Once again, the Conservative government introduced an omnibus bill. We are accustomed to that, but it still needs to be mentioned. The government's intention is to bring in a number of changes, without considering the need to give the opposition parties and Canadians the time to really analyze all the measures the bill contains. Accordingly, the NDP denounces the undemocratic nature of the debate on this bill in the House.
Bill C-59 is 150 pages long, contains 270 clauses and makes a number of changes, many of which have nothing to do with the budget. The Conservatives are unfortunately no stranger to this practice. Since I first came here in 2011, they have not hesitated to resort to it repeatedly in an effort to suppress any critical voices that might express a different opinion and bring a different point of view.
This proves once again that the government has no problem implementing obstructionist and restrictive measures to serve its own interests. This bill has many flaws and gaps that will undoubtedly be detrimental to society in the short term and the long term. For example, it will not create new day care spaces, provide real support for families in need, or help Canadian workers or the unemployed.
Since I was elected in 2011, and since the government obtained a majority, six companies in my riding have closed their doors, including Aveos, BlueWater Seafoods and Humpty Dumpty. In addition, Tim Hortons' headquarters used to be in my riding, and there have been many job cuts at Bombardier.
In the past four years, I have seen the Conservative government's inability to keep these good jobs in Canada. In Montreal, Toronto and across the country more and more companies are closing. This budget and all the measures announced will not keep well-paying jobs in Canada. That is a great concern.
Bill C-59 as proposed by the Conservatives will implement an unfair tax system and one that is especially advantageous for the rich. It includes measures such as income splitting and the increase in the TFSA contribution limit, which will cost Canadian taxpayers billions of dollars. This budget takes Canadian taxpayers' money and gives it to the rich.
As my colleague said, on October 19 the NDP will offer an alternative. We hope to implement universal and affordable day care, which will reduce the cost from nearly $1,000 a month to a maximum of $15 a day.
On the weekend, I was knocking on doors in the village of Saint-Louis in Lachine, a very nice area of my riding, with a volunteer named Jamie. A mother told us that day care was her biggest concern. She was not a poor person. She had her own home in Lachine. However, she told me that she spends $40 a day per child for day care.
Since she has two kids, it costs her $400 a week or $1,600 a month to send her two children to day care. That is a lot of money. She told me that she receives a small amount from the government but that she has to put it aside to pay her income tax in March. The NDP's plan, which seeks to establish $15 a day child care, is therefore a really good one.
We also want to help families in need by raising the federal minimum wage and developing a national housing strategy, another glaring problem that needs to be addressed as soon as possible.
The NDP is also committed to establishing a job creation tax credit for small and medium-sized businesses and developing a comprehensive strategy to tackle unemployment and recurring structural underemployment among young people. These are also subjects I talk about when I knock on doors and meet with young people who are still in university. That is one of their concerns. They are wondering how they are going to find a job after they graduate.
As a member who is only 30 years old and who graduated from university five years ago, one year before becoming an MP, I have friends who are underemployed. They have a job, but it does not use all of their skills. They are very qualified individuals who could have a better job with better working conditions but who have to settle for less because the government is not doing anything to stimulate the job market. That is a loss to our economy.
With regard to the unfair tax practices that the Conservatives continue to defend, the NDP thinks it would be better to do away with income splitting, a $2 billion measure. The NDP wants to address the issue of tax loopholes that are depriving the government of a substantial amount of revenue. That includes the stock option deduction, which costs the federal government $700 million a year. The NDP would allocate that money to eliminating child poverty in Canada, for example.
A New Democrat government will do what is needed to recover the billions of dollars that are estimated to be lost to tax evasion, tax avoidance and tax havens. We will go after tax cheats more effectively and rigorously.
Once again, these are simple and essential measures. My colleague from Rivière-du-Nord did an incredible job and introduced a bill to recover the money invested in tax havens. We lose billions of dollars every year. With better measures, the government could bring in more money.
Although it is interesting to note that the bill includes some of the good ideas the Conservatives borrowed from the NDP, and while the method and process of their implementation could be improved, the New Democrats are glad to see the government acting on many NDP proposals, such as the small business tax credit and the extension of some workplace protections for interns. The bill also reduces the minimum amount that must be withdrawn from registered retirement income funds and includes the NDP proposal to extend the accelerated capital cost allowance for manufacturing investments in new equipment.
On the other hand, certain sections of the bill do not align with the NDP's views. Such provisions, which would allow the Conservatives to arbitrarily set sick leave and disability plans for employees in the federal civil service, are an affront to the ongoing collective bargaining process. Furthermore, the Conservatives' income-splitting scheme would take billions from the middle class and would give it to the wealthy few. The doubling of the TFSA would only make matters worse.
This makes it all the more clear why the Conservatives resorted once again to cramming inappropriate changes into an omnibus bill to avoid proper scrutiny. In fact, the Conservatives' road to a balanced budget was paved with devastating cuts to the public service, the raiding of the employment insurance fund, and the wasteful fire sale of Canada's share in General Motors. All of these will affect the quality of services that hard-working Canadian families rely on.
This hefty bill fails to address much that is significant, including proper proposals or changes to address the environment, Canadian veterans, or seniors, for example. An NDP government will prioritize these matters over tax cuts to corporations and will give them the full attention they rightfully need.
The NDP believes in building our economy while protecting the environment by working with companies to create sustainable, clean jobs and by ensuring that polluters pay the costs for their environmental mess.
We are committed to finally fixing the broken Veterans Affairs department, implementing the veterans charter, and re-opening the nine veterans service centres across Canada.
In addressing our seniors, we would immediately reverse the federal government's plan to raise the retirement age for old age security and the guaranteed income supplement to 67.
The NDP is set on addressing all Canadians instead of focusing on the wealthy few and misleading the rest of the population. The NDP has a practical plan to boost the economy while helping the middle class, including with the child care option and by raising the minimum wage. The Conservatives, on the other hand, have once again shown their inability to learn from their past mistakes as they continue on their current track with their seventh straight omnibus budget bill.
In the words of Scott Clarke and Peter DeVries, writers for iPolitics:
By their very nature such bills are immune to meaningful Parliamentary scrutiny, discussion and debate—they're hot messes, designed to be that way. They're built not only to prevent Parliament from doing what it's designed to do, but to discredit the institution itself.
Such is unfortunately very clear in Bill C-59. It would undermine small businesses by postponing tax relief over several years while offering immediate and extremely costly tax handouts to the wealthiest households. It would hinder the ongoing collective bargaining process by arbitrarily legislating sick leave and disability plans for the public service, and it would offer no help at all for minimum-wage workers who are working full-time but are still far below the poverty line.
I had other things to say, but I think I showed why I must oppose this bill.
I will take questions from my colleagues, since I think it is important to discuss this. This is a bill that cannot be passed. It is not in the best interests of Canadians.