Mrs. Suzanne Tremblay (Rimouski—Neigette-et-la Mitis, BQ)
Mr. Speaker, I am really pleased to have the privilege of rising today to address the budget. Perhaps it might be more accurate to talk about a non-budget.
I have been listening to hon. members since this morning. We almost always get back to the same issues, because these are the most obvious. I would like to raise a very interesting point about health.
As regards the $2 billion promised by Jean Chrétien, the government confirmed in the budget that it would pay this amount. That money has already been spent. Therefore, it is not very beneficial to those who have to prepare provincial budgets. Their situation will not improve very much with $2 billion that are slow to come and that, in fact, have already been spent.
This investment of $2 billion raised the federal government's contribution to 16%. But since these $2 billion have been taken out, this means that the federal government's participation is 14.5%.
Mr. Speaker, I want to submit something interesting to you, because you are probably good in math. The Romanow commission said that in order to make sense, in order to make things work properly in health and to improve the situation of the provinces, the federal government's contribution should go from 14.5% to 25%. This is from Mr. Romanow, who was hired by Jean Chrétien and paid by the federal government to produce a report and make recommendations on how to improve the health system.
I am concerned about the fact that the Liberal government claims that its contribution to health is 40%. If this is the case, we should expect huge cuts in health, since the government is claiming to be already contributing 40% when in fact its contribution is only 14% when it should be 25%.
It does not make sense to lie to the public like this. It does not make any sense at all. This has become so common that we no longer believe anything that comes from this government. It is very unfortunate, but the public is firmly convinced of that. Either we should expect cuts in health, or else the government lied when it reacted to the advertising campaign run by the provinces to point out that the federal government's contribution is 16%.
There is another thing that concerns me. The government did not find new money for infrastructure. Now it is saying: “We had $1 billion over 10 years; we will spend it over five years”. Do you know something? There is not one cent more. This is not new money, and the $1 billion has already been fully allocated. Thus, if there are people and municipalities in Canada that think they can come up with projects, they are wasting their time. There is not one cent left in the fund. The $1 billion has already been allocated.
Of course, the government will spend it over five years, so it does not look too bad in its budget, so it can put more in its pockets and have more in the surplus, because it will get to spend it over five years instead of 10.
However, it is making promises, and I would almost be tempted to say that they are promises from drunkards, but it would not be very polite. With regard to highway 185, it could not care less; every week, someone dies on that highway. As for highways 20, 30, 35, 50 and 175, they were all promised to Quebec. Imagine what it may have promised to Canada. I did not look into this, but I did go to New Brunswick. They have nice highways. All highways in Canada should look like the ones in New Brunswick, where highways are very nice. I do not know what New Brunswickers did for that. They do not all vote for the Liberals.
There is another thing. In the budget, there is nothing about poverty. In 1995, the Chrétien government allowed the finance minister at the time, the current Prime Minister—as it says in a book entitled Paul Martin, CEO for Canada? , that I recommend to all Canadian citizens, we understand quite well who the Prime Minister is after reading this book—to make a huge change in public administration.
He decided that it would be the end of social programs in Quebec. Moreover, he arranged that it would never again be possible to return to social democracy in Canada. In fact, it was better to be on the right with the neo-Liberals than to arrange—as my hon. colleague from Hochelaga—Maisonneuve said earlier—that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.
What has happened is that we are no longer able to offer social programs. What does that mean, when we no longer want to share the wealth? It has two very serious consequences. It increases poverty instead of decreasing it, which leads to an increase in crime. These three things go together. The best social programs decrease poverty and criminal activity; a decrease in social programs increases poverty and crime.
Is that the sort of country this government is leading us into? That gives us one more reason to leave this country and be even more thoroughly sovereignist than before, when we discover how much this government is impoverishing us.
As for any surplus, it has been hidden. Representatives of this government have no memories. They do not recall. They do not know. They are not up to date. They do not comment on the issue. They have no opinion. But they do know how to hide a surplus.
The Prime Minister has taught the new finance minister how to hide a surplus. Why hide a surplus? So that, in 10 years, the debt will stand at 25% of the GDP. This is excellent news for Canada, and Canada will pile up another surplus. During those 10 years, some $450 billion in surplus could be accumulated, while the provinces will all be impoverished, go further into debt and have enormous interest charges to pay, since it will be difficult for them to borrow money. That is another reason to leave.
If I had the time, as before, when we had unlimited time to talk, I would take this 450-page text—its weight signifies nothing—and, on each of these pages, I could say that it is written between the lines, “One more reason to leave this country”. On every page we find that we would be better organized if we paid all our taxes to Quebec and then decided ourselves what kinds of programs to create.
There is nothing for employment insurance. There is nothing for seasonal workers. The minister may rise every day and tell me: “We are taking care of this. We are looking at the problem. We have identified that—It is possible that—” , there is nothing happening, absolutely nothing. This makes no sense.
Once again, these are promises. I said it last week: “While the shirtless, the Sans-chemise, are out on the street, the heartless are across from us in this House”. They cannot understand that this is a problem for people who are currently living through the spring gap. They have no money. When someone comes to your office and tells you that he has $1,000 less in his monthly income to support his four children, this is serious. It is a huge problem to be confronted with: you are a little too rich to receive social assistance benefits, and ineligible for employment insurance benefits.
Unfortunately, the time that was allocated to me is already over. I had so many interesting things to point out that it flew by. I hope that, no matter when we go to the polls, the people will remember that this government needs to spend some time thinking in the opposition benches.
Topic: Government Orders
Subtopic: The Budget