Mrs. Suzanne Tremblay
Mr. Speaker, the first thing to point out is that the transfer of responsibilities from the federal government to Quebec—Emploi-Québec—occurred five years ago, not eight years ago. Second, this system is working tremendously well. This week, we heard testimony at the Standing Committee on Human Resources Development. These people are frontline witnesses. They agreed to testify and to tell us simply and spontaneously that this system was working very well.
There is another important thing that my colleague from Chicoutimi—Le Fjord must consider. First, it is true that it bodes well for the campaign, because I am convinced that we will win the riding back and the member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord will sit with us in the next session. Unfortunately, I am even willing to give him my seat. He can sit here so the member opposite can see him well on television. Perhaps he will be sitting in the first row.
In any case, my colleague should realize that employment insurance is currently a hidden employment tax, which targets mainly the neediest and the least fortunate in our society, since EI premiums do not increase for people whose income exceeds $39,000.
It is a tax on the poor and the less fortunate that creates surpluses in the billions of dollars, which the government uses to pay off its debt even though it has never discussed this with anyone, that is, how long it might take to reimburse it, how quickly it should be done, to whom it should be reimbursed and so on. This is another thing that it does surreptitiously by hiding its surplus when it tables its budgets.
The government is bragging as though it were a good manager. It is saying, “Surprise, surprise, the surplus is not $3 billion as we said it would be, but $10 billion. Since it is too late to use it on something other than the debt, we will use $7 billion to pay down the debt”. This was planned from the beginning. The government thinks we are stupid. We have been seeing the same scenario for 11 years. The Liberals have not changed and, until they do, from year to year, Canadians will continue to lose confidence in them and they will clearly show it in the next election.