Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Québécois has already made known that it intends to vote for this budget.
As the hon. members know, one reason is that the Conservative Party promised in writing to correct the fiscal imbalance. We will make sure that it keeps its promise to Quebeckers.
We are particularly concerned because late last week, in the media, the Prime Minister was already backtracking, and his commitments seemed less firm. We hope that this was simply a moment of weakness and that he will keep his promises.
The Bloc Québécois had been proposing a number of other measures for quite some time, and we worked hard to get them. We got $1 billion for post-secondary education, $800 million for affordable housing, assistance for farmers and a tax exemption on bursaries. The Bloc Québécois had been calling for that for a long time, and we are glad to have obtained that gain for Quebec. As well, we obtained a tax credit for public transit users, something we had also long been calling for in this House. We are happy to have gotten the excise tax lifted from jewellery and to have obtained a tax credit for tools and a reduction of the tax on the landing fee. While we would have preferred that this tax be completely eliminated, this is a step in the right direction.
That said, the budget includes several negative measures that we do not agree with. I have already spoken in this House about all the government's continued and new intrusions into the jurisdictions of the provinces and Quebec. The $1,200 child care allowance is one example. We had suggested a refundable tax credit, which would have respected the provincial and federal jurisdictions, but the government did not want this.
The budget talks about creating a Canadian securities commission. Again, the Government of Quebec has always refused to allow any interference in its exclusive jurisdictions.
The annex on the fiscal imbalance cites notions of accountability, of Canada-wide standards. They say they are driven by considerations of the social union, but Quebec has always been opposed. As far as the fiscal imbalance is concerned, it is simple. All we need is an unconditional transfer of tax fields to Quebec.
This budget also talks about new research foundations, which is yet another overlap. It talks about a cancer strategy, which already exists in Quebec. The money should have been transferred. In connection with immigration the issue of refugee credentials is another good example. The government is interfering in something that is none of its concern. This area is one of Quebec's jurisdictions. Furthermore, when it comes to looking after its own jurisdiction and setting up a Refugee Appeal Division, which would require only $10 million, the federal government is not assuming its responsibilities. It is quite sad and I have seen the impact this has had in my riding.
As hon. members know, Abdelkader Belaouni is currently in a presbytery in Pointe-Saint-Charles. He did not have the opportunity to appeal the arbitrary decision made by a commissioner. All Quebeckers are allowed to appeal decisions they disagree with, but new arrivals are not allowed to do so.
This budget still contains far too many encroachments on jurisdictions of the provinces and Quebec.
In addition to being an interference, the allowance for child care services is very unfair in its proposed format because it will be taxed based on the lowest income and not on the family income.
I have two examples to illustrate this point. In a family of four, only one person works and earns an annual income of $213,500—a federal minister, for example. The other adult stays home with the two children. The tax on the allowance will apply on the lowest income, which is zero dollars in this case. This family will receive the entire initial sum and will not pay any tax on it.
On the other hand, the head of a single-parent family who earns $28,000 will have to pay an additional $800 in income tax whether in Quebec City or in Ottawa.
Our proposal was to solve this problem by introducing an income tax credit based on family income and a decreasing contribution based on income. The cost would be the same. Frankly, we have a hard time understanding why the government did not consider our proposal. This still has not been explained.
It surprises me that during the debates we have held in this House, not a single Conservative has ever explained what is wrong with our proposal. They are always trying to avoid the issue, always handing us the same old lines. They talk about choice, but what about Quebeckers' choice?
Quebeckers have chosen to have child care services that they pay for through their income taxes. But then they are penalized because when they fill our their federal tax return, they declare lower child care costs on line 214 than other Canadians. That means the federal government saves money every year because Quebeckers chose to set up their own system. The government is $250 million a year to the good on the backs of Quebec parents, who are paying for these daycares with their income tax dollars that go to the rest of Canada.
If the federal government really wants to respect the choices made by parents and by Quebec society, it will give the $250 million it is saving thanks to Quebeckers back to the Government of Quebec.
As far as older workers are concerned, we have often asked for an assistance program to be set up for older workers who lose their employment following a mass lay-off . Sometimes this affects two people from the same household who have worked for the same company for 20 or 30 years. The day the company closes, these people have difficulty qualifying for other jobs. They end up having to spend all their savings and going on welfare until their retirement at age 65. What a sad way for them to end their career after being contributing members of society their entire lives.
This program was not expensive. We know what we would be getting into since it already existed. The federal government did not include it in its budget, but opened the door to it in the Speech from the Throne. We hope this will be a done deal as soon as possible.
There is nothing in this budget on the Kyoto protocol. We understood why last Tuesday. It is because this government is against the Kyoto protocol. What were this government's arguments? It said it was unable to keep this commitment. Rarely have we seen a government cite its own incompetence for not moving forward. Essentially what the Conservatives are saying is that they are not competent enough to do the job.
The argument that our reduction goal of 35% would mean shutting down the transport sector, simply does not hold. That would be like a person who lives a lavish lifestyle drinking alcohol and partying being asked by his accountant to cut his expenses by 35%. That person could retort that this would cut into his rent and that he would end up on the street. Of course, everyone would tell him to cut from his excesses. The same goes for the federal government.
This government has not met Quebeckers' expectations. In the case of the Kyoto protocol, it chose the oil industry over the interests of Quebeckers. We will be watching this government over the next year.