Speech about Conservative government's budget implementation bill
Another omnibus bill that has 400 clauses and is more than 460 pages long
December 9th, 2014 - 6:54pm
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Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to the Conservative government's budget implementation bill because it does not meet our expectations, nor does it meet the expectations of my constituents in Hochelaga.
This budget implementation bill is the second one this government has introduced since last February's budget. The Conservatives could have taken this opportunity to fix some of the flaws in the budget and to address the consequences the budget has for Canadian families. However, as usual, the government introduced another omnibus bill that has 400 clauses and is more than 460 pages long. It amends dozens of laws on subjects that were never mentioned in the 2014-15 budget speech.
The NDP does actually support some of the measures in this bill, which we have been asking for for quite some time, such as an end to pay-to-pay fees in the telecom and broadcasting industry and the creation of a DNA data bank to help in missing persons cases, which we have been calling for since 2007. We also support the measures to fix the mess the Conservatives created themselves when they introduced the Social Security Tribuna. That tribunal has been sloppily run and has delayed the review of several important cases for Canadian citizens.
It is too bad that this is such a mammoth bill, because I could have voted in favour of those measures that I do support. However, I have no choice but to vote against Bill C-43 as it stands, because it fails to correct several omissions and it attacks some of the most vulnerable people in our society or does nothing to help them.
Of course, as we all know, every Conservative minister likes to add a cookie-cutter phrase to their talking points at the end of all the so-called answers they give in question period, to remind us that we voted against the proposed measures.
Before anyone asks, I would like to give some of the reasons why I will be voting against this omnibus bill. First of all, the new Minister of Finance had an opportunity to correct the approach taken by his predecessor, who felt that the expiry of certain social housing agreements was an opportunity to save money and who planned to use that opportunity to balance his budget by creating a huge social and economic deficit for people who need government help.
When we show the government examples of how the expiry of these agreements affects certain individuals and families, they do not really seem to understand what we are talking about and just say that at the end of the agreement, the mortgage is paid off and the government's contribution is no longer necessary. Once again, I am forced to explain to the minister how these things work in the hope that in his next budget, he might consider those families that have a hard time making it to the end of the month, not just the small percentage of wealthy people who do not necessarily need any help from the government.
Long-term social housing agreements are two-pronged. Of course, they enable social housing projects to pay the mortgage, but they also enable low-income families to receive subsidies in the form of rent supplements. That means that they will not have to spend more than 30% of their income on housing. It also means that they will have at least a little bit of money for the family's other essential needs, such as food.
What happens when these agreements come to an end? Two things. Since they were long-term agreements—over a period of 25, 30 or 50 years—some of the housing projects have deteriorated over the years and need renovations. My colleagues opposite own a residence, I am sure. They should be able to understand that. On the other hand, and this is probably the most pernicious effect of the expiry of these long-term agreements, eliminating the subsidies means that some families will have to pay as much as $500 more a month for housing, sometimes even more.
Not understanding that $500 a month for a single mother is a lot of money is like saying that the nutrition north program is effective because it reduces the cost of groceries by $110 a month, even though it can cost as much as $1,200 a week to feed a family in Canada's north. I have seen and heard it myself: a bag of apples can cost $9 and a pumpkin can cost $75.