Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleagues for their warm welcome.
I think it goes without saying that I have no intention of supporting this shoddy budget, not only because of its content, which I will talk about later, but also because of the fact that the government frequently resorts to an undemocratic process.
Omnibus bills have almost become a tradition in the House. This one is 360 pages long and has 500 clauses. It amends more than 60 acts, and the official opposition is not allowed to divide the bill to study it properly in committee. Furthermore, as usual, we do not have enough time to properly study the bill and propose amendments to improve it. There is no way to properly study this budget, which I find particularly disgraceful.
I am sick of the government introducing such measures and playing games with our laws without consulting the public. I think it is disgraceful and undemocratic. I am not the only one who feels this way, since my colleagues are in the same situation as I am. We need a change, and it will come soon, since 2015 is not far off.
I also find it particularly disgraceful that there is absolutely nothing in this budget to help the 300,000 additional Canadians who have become unemployed since the recession. The government has not come up with anything to help these people or deal with the loss of 400,000 manufacturing jobs during this government's reign.
There are many measures I disagree with in this bill. However, since I do not have unlimited time to talk about them, I chose to concentrate on the measures that affect my riding and my constituents.
We have been hearing a lot about rail safety for almost a year now, since the tragedy in Lac-Mégantic. This tragedy affected many people, and my constituents are particularly worried. There are many railways, and dangerous goods are transported in close proximity to homes in many of the 25 municipalities in my riding.
When I was reading the budget, I was very disappointed to learn that decisions about the standards related to the transportation of dangerous goods will now be kept secret. Canadians will no longer be informed of those decisions. I do not understand. It would be nice to have some sort of explanation about that. These decisions need to be transparent. The government should be consulting Canadians, the official opposition and experts. That would be helpful.
As for the temporary foreign workers program, it has many flaws. The minister tried to fix them, which is great. However, penalties are not being imposed on employers who break the rules. Can we really believe the Conservatives when they say that they will enforce the rules? I have my doubts.
I would like to be wrong though, because the temporary foreign workers program is very useful and helps many employers. However, we have to prevent abuses, and we first have to make sure that people here have work.
I am somewhat skeptical about that, so I am looking forward to seeing what will happen.
I would also like to talk about the Champlain Bridge. It is not in my riding, but many people from my riding, Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, work in Montreal and have to cross the bridge every day.
The NDP proposed four amendments at committee stage to find other solutions that would not involve a toll on the Champlain Bridge. All of those amendments were rejected and the government is imposing its unilateral decision. The Champlain Bridge will be built, but it will have a toll. I do not know how much the toll will be, between $1 and $3, perhaps. It does not seem like much, so some people might not think it is a big deal. Going to Montreal once in a while and paying $2 is not a problem. However, middle-class families use the Champlain Bridge every day. Let us do the math: $2 per trip equals $4 a day, $20 a week, or more than $100 a month. That is a lot of money for a middle-class family. A family can buy a lot of groceries for $100.
I am therefore wondering why it is necessary to make people pay for this bridge when Canada has the money needed to provide this sort of thing without making them pay. The government does not need to apply the user-pay principle to every new piece of infrastructure.
In that regard, the government announced $5.8 billion in cuts to local infrastructure. I cannot believe that the government is letting our infrastructure deteriorate so much. I do not understand it. Right now, I am touring the 25 municipalities in my riding. I am meeting with all the mayors and administrators to talk to them and see how things are going. Everyone is telling me that our infrastructure is aging. They all need money from the federal government. They cannot keep endlessly taxing residents and increasing municipal taxes. They have needs. They have to repair roads, sewers and many other things. However, the federal government is announcing $5.8 billion in cuts to local infrastructure. I do not understand the logic behind that. Is the government going to abandon our country like this? Is it going to let everything fall apart until we can no longer travel on our roads, until our sewers no longer work and until our municipalities are crushed by debt? I do not think that makes any sense.
What my party and I expect from a responsible government is for it to reverse the cuts to employment insurance, for example. We do not want people to have to travel 100 km from their home to work for 70% of their previous salary. That does not make sense. We want the age of eligibility for old age security to go back down to 65.
We also need to fight against tax havens. Rather than making billions of dollars in cuts to key areas such as infrastructure, the government could recover a lot of money by fighting against tax havens. What is more, $36 billion in cuts were made to health transfers to the provinces. It makes no sense. I am also going to promote my own cause. The bill that I introduced a year ago on a national housing strategy would help a lot of people.
I would like to send a message to the government. It would be great if it would soon realize that investing in social programs pays off.