Mr. Speaker, first I would like to say that I will be sharing my time with the excellent member for Edmonton—Strathcona.
Bill C-4, the budget implementation bill, was introduced on Tuesday. That same evening, the government provided a briefing on the bill in English only. Since it was in English only, which is against the rules, the Conservatives had to start over last night, after the debate had already started. When the second presentation on Bill C-4 was given—this time in both languages—the Conservatives themselves admitted that they had not consulted everyone affected by the bill. The Conservatives are not doing their job. Their measures are flawed, haphazard, amateurish and disrespectful.
What is more, the Conservatives are once again imposing a time allocation motion. They are allocating only five days of debate to a third, botched omnibus bill that is 300 pages long and amends dozens of laws, many of which have nothing to do with the budget.
This shows just how little respect the Conservatives have for our democracy and our parliamentary structures. This lack of respect clearly demonstrates that the Conservative government is old and worn out and has no vision for the future of Canada and our various regions.
Once again, parliamentarians must debate and examine important changes, including some meant to correct errors made by the Conservatives themselves. This government is attacking Canadians' quality of life by gutting environmental protections, raising the price of consumer goods and doing nothing to protect consumers. Furthermore, the Conservatives have failed to kick-start the economy and create high-quality jobs.
With this bill, the Prime Minister is once again undermining the government's ability to help and protect Canadians. Workers are the ones who will suffer the consequences.
The most substantial and most reprehensible changes in the latest budget implementation bill will affect Canada's labour environment. This bill fundamentally changes Canadians' right to a healthy and safe working environment.
When workers' health and safety is being attacked, there is a problem. Yet that is exactly what this bill does. Indeed, it removes the powers granted to health and safety officers by the Canada Labour Code and gives those powers to the minister. Do the members opposite really believe that taking basic protections away from workers will go unnoticed?
In addition, it will be harder for employees to refuse to work in dangerous conditions. The NDP firmly believes that no worker should ever be forced to work in dangerous conditions. Why place nearly all powers related to health and safety in the hands of the minister? It is likely in order to be able to place employees and send them wherever the minister wants to send them.
We definitely see a pattern in the government's decisions in recent years. Employment insurance is an excellent example. The bill eliminates the Canada Employment Insurance Financing Board and gives the Minister of Finance the power to manipulate rates. Having an independent and accountable body to oversee EI financing was in fact a Conservative promise. Now that promise has been broken. This is just one more broken promise.
People from Charlevoix, the upper north shore, many regions in Quebec and the Maritimes remember the back-to-back Liberal and Conservative governments that shamelessly pillaged $57 billion from the employment insurance fund, that artificially pushed premiums too high to surreptitiously tax people, or that artificially dropped premiums too low to prove that the program did not work and needed to be cut. Workers deserve better.
The bill also extends the $1,000 hiring tax credit for small business. The NDP proposed a $2,000 hiring tax credit that would not come out of the employment insurance fund and that would help businesses hire and train young workers.
The Quebec economy is built on small and medium-sized businesses. They create jobs in the regions. Côte-de-Beaupré, Île d'Orléans, Charlevoix, the upper north shore and Quebec City are no exception. There is also the fact that so many of our industries are seasonal. However, this government does not seem to care about our communities.
This bill also affects National Research Council Canada. Once again, the government is gutting a Canadian institution, just as it gutted some of our most respected scientific research institutions, just as it fired some of Canada's best scientists and researchers without consulting the scientific community and without evaluating the potential consequences on Canada's scientific capability and its international reputation. Myriad experts, scientists and civil servants were muzzled or fired for not toeing the Conservative line.
The budget implementation bill has the National Research Council in the crosshairs. The Conservatives are cutting nearly half the jobs, but are giving the president, whom they appoint, more authority. Wow, bravo.
The Conservatives made a mistake when they increased taxes on credit unions. This bill proposes changes to fix that mistake, which was made when they rammed the omnibus budget bill through the House.
As result of this mistake, credit unions were facing a tax hike of 28% rather than 15%. On this side of the House, we are very disappointed to see that the Conservatives have not learned from their mistakes and that they are once again using an omnibus bill. It was a bad decision to raise credit unions' taxes, but the Conservatives like raising taxes secretly or on the sly.
The NDP has been fighting tax evasion since the party was created. We support the various technical amendments in this budget implementation bill that seek to reduce tax evasion.
However, we find it troubling that the Conservatives are not taking the issue of tax havens seriously and are not cracking down on individuals and companies that do not pay their fair share of taxes. Let us not forget that, even as this government claims to want to do more to fight tax evasion, it is making cuts to the Canada Revenue Agency.
Another area that is affected is the public service, which is clearly being attacked in this bill. The changes being made to the Public Service Staff Relations Act do away with binding arbitration as a method of settling disputes. Why would a government make such a change if not to instigate labour disputes among public servants?
My colleague, the hon. member for Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, gave a very good speech about venture capital funds. The Conservatives are going ahead with their $350 million tax hike on venture capital funds, despite the strong opposition of that sector and the fact that a lack of venture capital has a negative impact on the ability to start and grow businesses. The Conservatives are going after one of our country's most important economic drivers, and it does not make any sense.
In conclusion, we are currently dealing with a Conservative government that makes purely ideological decisions and that is hijacking the government process—both Parliament and responsibilities of the state—for its own partisan purposes. The government is sabotaging programs to make it easier to eliminate them. It is sabotaging our parliamentary structures and it is circumventing our election laws.
Because of a lack of time, I mentioned only a few aspects of this bill. I spoke about them in a fairly general way and there were some that I did not have time to talk about. We should have the time to debate every aspect of the bill. That is what happens when a government has contempt for democracy and our parliamentary structures.