Mr. Speaker, I move that the fifth report of the Standing Committee on Finance, presented to the House on Wednesday, December 14, 2011, be concurred in.
I will be splitting my time with the fine, eloquent hon. member of Parliament for .
We have heard over the last few months how the Conservatives have characterized their government. This is the first report of the finance committee that comes from the so-called stable majority government. If Tommy Douglas were still in the House, he would say that the government sure smells like a stable.
It is true that when we look at the economic industries of the last few months, since the government's re-election on May 2, we can see that the report does not refer to what the reality is on the ground for the vast majority of Canadian families.
I will take much of my time, before I turn it over to my colleague from , to speak exactly to what has happened to Canadian families under the Conservative government?
I want to reference a few key statistics, which we do not always have the time in question period to raise but on which we would love to have a response from the government. The first two are related to trade statistics. The government has the worst merchandise trade deficit in Canadian history. It also has the worst deficit in current account of balance of payments in this nation's history. That is what the government has managed to create after six years. Now what does that mean?
First, what we have seen is a complete erosion of our manufacturing sector. What we have seen is a loss of 400,000 good family sustaining manufacturing jobs. We have seen all of that, which certainly explains the record merchandise trade deficit.
The government would respond that we are shipping raw resources out of the country and that is making up for it. The reality is that, when we look at the current account deficit on balance of payments, the worst ever under the government, we see that, even with the shipping out of raw logs, raw minerals and raw bitumen, the government has simply put manufacturing jobs, the good quality jobs that we used to enjoy in this economy, in jeopardy through what can only be described as very foolish policies. The fifth report does not reflect that reality.
I will now talk about the quality of jobs, which is also not reflected in the majority report presented by the finance committee. When we look at the quality of jobs, we see that most of the jobs created under the Conservative government are part-time or temporary, very precarious jobs. We are talking about Canadian families that are struggling to make ends meet, trying to hold together a couple of part-time jobs, if they can, and trying to go from temporary contract to temporary contract. The quality of jobs under the present government is very clearly failing. As I mentioned earlier, 400,000 lost manufacturing jobs are a stain on the record of the government, which will go down for generations.
I will now talk about the quantity of jobs. The Conservatives love to stand in the House and throw out these figures on job creation under their government. Statistic Canada tells a completely different story because, rather than just inventing statistics out of its gut, it actually tracks and produces the real stats of what is happening in the Canadian economy.
Since May 2008 through to the fall, which I will get back to a moment, we actually saw the job creation record of the government being a scant 200,000 jobs. The problem is that the labour force over that same time grew not by 200,000 or 300,000 or 400,000 but by 450,000 jobs. What that means for the average Canadian is that the government produced 200,000 jobs when 450,000 were needed just to tread water, just to stand still.
There again we see a real failure of the government. It is a quarter of a million jobs short, even before we hit the fall. What happened in the fall? The New Democrats certainly know because we are in touch with our constituents and with our communities. Many MPs from our side of the House, as well as Conservatives, have seen factory closures in their ridings.
What we have seen is the loss of 60,000 full-time jobs, 60,000 families have lost their breadwinner, 60,000 times workers got that feeling in their gut, having to go home and tell their family that maybe the kids will not be able to go to summer camp this year, that the family will need to rein in their expenses and maybe that they will not be able to keep their home. That happened 60,000 times under the government in just the span of the last few months.
I will now talk about salaries. In the last year, the average Canadian family has lost 2% of its real income. Families are struggling to make ends meet with less and less under the government. Any jobs that the Conservatives created pay $10,000 a year less than the jobs that were lost. They have lost hundreds of thousands of jobs and have made them up with part-time and temporary jobs that pay $10,000 a year less.
I will now go to the final category, which is how families are faring under the Conservatives. As New Democrats know, because we are in touch with our constituents, the average Canadian family is now struggling under the greatest debt load in our nation's history. Families are struggling to keep their head above water, struggling to pay the expenses, all because the government simply does not know how to manage the economy.
At the same time, we have also seen record levels of income inequality that take us back to the years of the Great Depression. We are now seeing a small minority of Canadians earning most of the real income in this country. Those are shocking statistics but those are realities. That is what many Canadians told the finance committee and talked about in the prebudgetary hearings that were held across this country. That is not reflected in the majority report. This is a fundamental problem when we have Conservatives on the committee who simply will not recognize the economic reality of so many Canadian families.
How have the Conservatives decided to proceed? We get a sense of this in the fifth report but even more so when we look at the main estimates that we have been talking about over the last few days, and the issues and questions that MPs from the NDP have been raising in the House, responding to our constituents' needs and to what our constituents have been telling us. They have been saying that they do not believe the government is on the right track at all when it wants to spend billions of dollars on untendered jet fighters that have serious flaws and problems.
The F-35s were supposed to cost $9 billion. That escalated to $15 billion or $16 billion, then $20 billion and now more than $30 billion. As most members know, no one on that side of the House actually knows what the total cost of the F-35s will be. The government is talking about $30 billion and potentially $40 billion. On this side of the House, we are saying that we need to start anew. If we want to replace the CF-18s, we need to re-tender it at a fixed price and ensure that any costing that comes out of the federal government is held rigidly in check.
The government has also put forward a very costly prisons agenda. That has been evaluated but no one on the Conservative side has been able to say with any certainty how much it would cost. We have had independent evaluations done that show the total amount would be close to $19 billion. These are not the priorities of Canadian families that are struggling under record debt load and are looking for a break. They are looking for a government that cares about them, is willing to invest in job creation, is willing to invest in services to help those families and is willing to put forward the kinds of priorities that are fundamental Canadian values that we all share.
We do not see those priorities reflected at all in the majority report. From the recollection that we have from the Canadians who came forward to the finance committee and tell their stores, we do not even see that reflected in the report.
What we do have, thankfully, is a minority report of the NDP that talks about reinforcing our pension system so that we can lift seniors out of poverty and have a solid pension system for years to come. In our minority report, we talk about job creation programs, putting in place a real priority for the federal government to create good, family sustaining jobs, the kind of jobs the Conservatives have lost over the last few years. In the minority report, we talk about reforming research and development, which has been a failed policy under the Conservatives. We talk about opening doors to post-secondary education. We talk about ensuring that Canadian consumers are protected from some of the financial practices that gouge them every day. We talk about empowering a green economy and investing in critical infrastructure. We talk about investing in children's early education and building that quality post-secondary education that leads to the jobs of tomorrow.
In short, the report talks about the kinds of priorities that Canadians really have, the kinds of values that we all share and the kind of direction in which Canadians want to see this country go.
In the minority report of the fifth report of the finance committee, we see what Canadians want: an economy that is built so that we can have the country we all desire, a country where everyone matters and nobody is left behind. That is the kind of economy Canadians want to build and that is what we presented in our minority report.
Mr. Speaker, the member for is a hard act to follow. I always learn a lot from what the member has to say. I think we all do.
This past weekend I had the pleasure, as did many of the residents of Halifax, the south shore, Bridgewater and Queen's County, of speaking with the member for Burnaby--New Westminster. He talked at some length with us on Friday night and again on Saturday afternoon about what he and the official opposition thought needed to be done with respect to the economy. He also talked at some length about the wrong-headed priorities of the Conservative government, which we found to be quite interesting.
He and I also took the opportunity to listen to a number of constituents. They talked about some of their concerns with respect to the economy and some of the things they were doing.
A business development officer from Lunenburg-Queens talked about how the economy of that region is changing and what people are doing to try to deal with those changes. He talked about what could be done at the federal level by the government, or by the NDP government that will be formed in 2015, in order to properly support the south shore of Nova Scotia and other communities throughout the country.
The people who attended those meetings were very comfortable with the information. They were inspired by the member for . I thank him for that.
The report of the Standing Committee on Finance is on the prebudget consultations. As the member for mentioned, there is a minority report attached to the report. The official opposition members on the committee did not think that the majority report properly reflected some concerns. Some ideas and concerns that witnesses had were not properly reflected in the report, and therefore, opposition members on the committee presented a minority report.
It was an important consultation. It gave Canadians an opportunity to bring to the attention of the committee important issues that affect the economy, their communities and families. There is no question that the consultation was a good thing.
We go through the prebudget consultation process to inform the House, the and his officials about what Canadians think should be reflected in the budget. However, after that happened, the of this country, while on a sojourn across the water to attend a think-tank session in Davos, Switzerland, announced that a critical program for seniors in this country was going to be changed. I do not know what he was drinking at the time, pop or Chardonnay or whatever, but he mentioned it in passing.
The committee had already heard from senior citizens. The committee had already talked to seniors. While it is not reflected in the main report, in the minority report we talk about senior Canadians' concerns about income security and the lack thereof when they reach retirement. Without question it is a very serious concern. Had they known that the government was going to change the OAS, which preponderantly advantages low-income seniors, they would have been outraged. They would have lined up to attend the meetings that were held across the country.
What troubles me is this facade of having consultations. We ask Canadians to contribute to this chamber's understanding of their concerns and what we should do. Then the government unilaterally announces what it is going to do, and it is going to affect hundreds of thousands of seniors across the country.
Another example is health care. It is fundamental to the lives of Canadians and the success of many organizations and businesses in this country. The unilaterally announced to the first ministers of the provinces what the funding formula is going to be over the next number of years. There was no discussion or consultation. There was no talk about how the government is going to work with the provinces in order to ensure that health care is not only maintained but restored, reinvigorated, modernized and properly funded. On an issue which is very important to the people of Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, the people in all of Nova Scotia, indeed the people across the country, there was no attempt to have those discussions. The and the government unilaterally determined that they were going to make this funding change.
Once again, outside of the prebudget consultations, this information was announced and blindsided Canadians. Without question, it causes us some concern.
Another thing that happened this week was the government's attack on veterans. The member for moved a motion to ensure that the programs and services to support the women and men who represent, fight for and defend our country are not cut. The government did not support the motion.
I am sufficiently troubled about this that I would suggest the government and members of the House need some time to reflect. Therefore, I move:
|| That the House do now adjourn.