House of Commons Hansard #45 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was public.

Topics

Interest Rates
Oral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, the downward slide of the Canadian dollar, coupled with the fact that interest rates appear to be on the increase, is cause for great concern. This disturbing situation comes at a time when the dollar has fallen to its lowest level in eight years.

For the consumer preparing to renew a $100,000 mortgage, this could mean an increase of $80 a month, just at a time when the largest number of real estate transactions are made.

My question is for the Minister of Finance. Does the Minister recognize that the downward slide of the Canadian dollar and the upward pressure on interest rates are largely attributable to the actions of Japanese investors who are divesting themselves in mass numbers of their Canadian securities?

Interest Rates
Oral Questions

11:15 a.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance and Minister responsible for the Federal Office of Regional Development-Quebec

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the hon. member's question and the tone in which it was put. However, as you know, international markets are extremely volatile and it is really not the Minister of Finance's place to comment on the reasons why this is the case.

Interest Rates
Oral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, does the minister recognize that the falling Canadian dollar, which has tumbled even further than the US dollar, and the reaction in Japanese financial circles are directly attributable to the failure on the part of the Finance Minister to introduce strong measures to control public spending?

Interest Rates
Oral Questions

11:15 a.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance and Minister responsible for the Federal Office of Regional Development-Quebec

Mr. Speaker, perhaps I could refer the hon. member to an article in yesterday's Le Devoir by Mr. Sansfaçon who lists the reasons why markets are nervous and gives his own views about the Canadian dollar. He notes that a survey of the vast majority of foreign stock exchanges and a review of their reports has revealed one clear fact, namely that the reasons for the uncertainty surrounding our currency obviously have nothing to do-and these are his own words-with the February 22 budget.

Interest Rates
Oral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, does the Minister of Finance not agree that his strategy, which consists in shifting the deficit onto the backs of the provinces, is being judged very harshly by foreign markets and that this strategy is the direct cause of the problems which the Canadian dollar is currently experiencing?

Interest Rates
Oral Questions

11:15 a.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance and Minister responsible for the Federal Office of Regional Development-Quebec

Mr. Speaker, when we were in opposition, we made it very clear that shifting the burden of the federal debt onto the backs of the provincial governments was extremely harmful. That is why we did not take this kind of action in our budget. In fact, we did quite the opposite.

A month and a half before the budget, we adopted our equalization program which, I must say, is very beneficial to Quebec and to the seven provinces which receive equalization. This was a program that the previous government had neglected to ratify, preferring instead to merely extend its provisions. We have signed a five-year agreement and even Quebec has said that we have been generous. Moreover, when the time came to move on social security reform, we provided a two-year period of predictability with respect to payments and we have indicated that we will work with the provinces. And I must say that the provincial ministers of finance, including Mr. Bourbeau of Quebec, have reacted very positively to our actions.

Unemployment Insurance
Oral Questions

March 25th, 1994 / 11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance.

Confirmation was given to us yesterday that the poorest of the provinces, that is to say the Maritime provinces and Quebec, will be the hardest hit by unemployment insurance cuts. In Atlantic Canada and Quebec alone, cuts will total $1.36 billion a year for the next two years. Furthermore, these cuts will cause a substantial increase in provincial expenditures for social assistance.

Will the Minister of Finance confirm the statement made by his colleague the Minister for Human Resources Development to the effect that only 3 per cent of UI recipients will be affected by reductions in benefit rates, which means that, in Quebec, 3 per cent of our unemployed work force will foot the $735 million bill passed on to the provinces as a result of the minister's cuts?

Unemployment Insurance
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance and Minister responsible for the Federal Office of Regional Development-Quebec

Mr. Speaker, in terms of per capita UI benefits, Atlantic Canada will be receiving $970 and Quebec $739, as compared to a national average of $575. Following these changes to the UI system, Atlantic Canada and Quebec will continue to receive much more than the national average. So, there is no basis for saying that they are hit harder.

Unemployment Insurance
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am sure that this answer will sound incredibly cynical to all unemployed men and women in Quebec and the Maritimes, and the scale of the demonstrations held by people who are seeing more and more clearly what the government is up to should prompt him to act.

Here is my question. Is the Minister of Finance prepared to defer cutbacks in the unemployment insurance system at least long enough to put in place a real job creation strategy to help the jobless find work instead of forcing them onto welfare?

Unemployment Insurance
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance and Minister responsible for the Federal Office of Regional Development-Quebec

I will answer the hon. member through you, Mr. Speaker. Our budget is a real job creation strategy. Atlantic Canada and Quebec stand to benefit the most, because these regions are unfortunately the most seriously affected by unemployment.

I must say that the rollback in unemployment insurance premium rates will benefit small business in Quebec and Atlantic Canada and thus foster job creation. I must say that our technology network will help small business, Atlantic Canada and Quebec. I must add that our budget will help those provinces where the unemployment situation is the most serious because it is designed to create jobs by calling upon one of their strengths, small and medium-sized businesses.

Allow me to quote this statistical data published today concerning Quebec. There are apparently real signs of an upward trend in employment in Quebec. This fact was confirmed by the Quebec manpower development agency. From August to January, the employment level in Quebec has grown by 51,000 jobs to 2,983,000, the highest level since October 1991. Last January, a net number of 23,000 jobs were created, as opposed to 13,000 lost in December.

The Economy
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Reform

Elwin Hermanson Kindersley—Lloydminster, SK

Mr. Speaker, the dollar is falling, interest rates are rising, the government has stooped to writing its own report cards. Thank goodness it is Friday and thank goodness it is Easter break.

My question is for the Minister of Finance. Contrary to repeated assurances by the minister that he is not terribly concerned about interest rates, these rates continue to climb.

My purpose today is not to ask the minister why rates are climbing, whose fault it is or even whether he can do anything about it. My purpose is to get a straight answer to a specific direct question: Can the minister tell this House whether his department has developed any contingency plan to meet its deficit reduction targets if interest rates continue to climb.

The Economy
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance and Minister responsible for the Federal Office of Regional Development -Quebec

Mr. Speaker, we are on track for our deficit targets. We have built into our budget sufficient room to manoeuvre given the number of variables which well could affect our targets. Let me simply say to the member that we are going to hit our target.

The Economy
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Reform

Elwin Hermanson Kindersley—Lloydminster, SK

Mr. Speaker, not only are interest rates rising but the dollar is falling at a dramatic rate. The minister must realize that a falling dollar will increase the cost of imports and will inevitably cause inflation. The minister is counting on a low inflation economy and that is not a traditional characteristic of the Liberal government.

Can the minister tell the House if he has a strategy to maintain low inflation in Canada if imports begin to drive the inflation rate above 3 per cent?

The Economy
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance and Minister responsible for the Federal Office of Regional Development -Quebec

Mr. Speaker, I know that this is not the case but the member seems to be almost rubbing his hands in glee at what is happening. I am sure that is not the case because all members in this House will seek the best for the Canadian economy.

The Economy
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

An hon. member

Right on.