House of Commons Hansard #15 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

Canada Post Corporation Act
Routine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

Andrew Telegdi Waterloo, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-239, an act to amend the Canada Post Corporation Act.

Mr. Speaker, the purpose of this bill is to provide for the establishment of a system allowing persons who do not wish to receive direct mail advertising or mailing of printed matter without further address than householder, box holder, occupant or resident to notify Canada Post Corporation accordingly, and that Canada Post respect the wishes of the residents if they do not wish to receive junk mail, and that Canada Post comply accordingly.

The bill would empower Canadians by having their wishes respected by Canada Post. It would also be good for the environment.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed.)

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

March 18th, 1996 / 3:05 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions to present pursuant to Standing Order 36. The first petition has to do with family taxation and comes from Vancouver, British Columbia.

The petitioners would like to draw to the attention of the House that managing the family home and caring for preschool children is an honourable profession which has not been recognized for its value to our society.

The petitioners therefore pray and call on Parliament to pursue initiatives to eliminate tax discrimination against families who decide to provide care in the home for preschool children, the disabled, the chronically ill and the aged.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, the second petition comes from Sarnia, Ontario.

The petitioners would like to draw to the attention of the House that the consumption of alcoholic beverages may cause health problems or impair one's ability, and specifically that fetal alcohol syndrome and other alcohol related birth defects are 100 per cent preventable by avoiding alcohol consumption during pregnancy.

The petitioners therefore pray and call on Parliament to enact legislation to require health warning labels to be placed on the containers of all alcoholic beverages.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

Paddy Torsney Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition which contains some 35 names, mostly from the Etobicoke area.

The undersigned Canadians are opposed to the approval of the synthetic bovine growth hormone, otherwise known as BST, the drug injected into cows to increase milk production.

The petitioners call on the government to keep rbGH or BST out of Canada through legislating a moratorium or stoppage on rbGH use until the year 2000 and to examine the outstanding health and economic questions through an independent and transparent review.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

Reform

Ed Harper Simcoe Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition to present on the Young Offenders Act.

The 468 petitioners, who are saddened by the brutal murder of Louie Ambas of Scarborough, request that Parliament pass legislation to strengthen the Young Offenders Act, including publishing the names of young offenders, lowering the age of application and transferring the most serious offenders to adult court.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

Reform

Bob Mills Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present two petitions signed by constituents of my riding.

The first petition urges the government to not consider any increases in taxes at any time in the future.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

Reform

Bob Mills Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, the second petition is signed by 50 petitioners who express a real concern that there will be an increase in gasoline prices.

Therefore the petitioners humbly pray and request that Parliament reduce government spending instead of increasing taxes and that Parliament not increase the federal excise tax on gasoline in any future budgets.

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Fundy Royal
New Brunswick

Liberal

Paul Zed Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

Is it agreed?

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that this House approve in general the budgetary policy of the government, and the amendment, and the sub-amendment.

The Budget
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Guy Chrétien Frontenac, QC

Mr. Speaker, to pick up where I left off, I was in the midst of condemning the unfairness of the finance minister's last budget. I was saying that nearly 50 per cent of Canada's industrial milk comes from Quebec, and that the farmers in my region produce 10 per cent of Quebec's industrial milk.

I was also saying that the Minister of Finance will cut Quebec dairy producers' income by five to seven per cent. I was demonstrating how unfair it is by using the rule of three-and I urge dairy producers to listen closely to my reasoning. Last year, the Minister of Finance paid close to $3 billion to grain producers in western Canada in compensation for eliminating grain transport subsidies. The Liberal government gave $1.6 billion out of this $3 billion to individual grain producers, depending on the size of their farms. Again, this $1.6 billion was not taxable and, by giving $1.6 billion to grain producers, the government will save $560 million in the future. As a result of eliminating dairy subsidies, the government will save $160 million in Quebec. If, in order to save $560 million, the government spent $1.6 billion, how much should it pay dairy producers in compensation for the $160 million in cuts? Using the rule of three, I arrive at some $400 million.

The Liberal government is imposing a $400 million penalty on dairy producers, if we want to be as fair to them as to grain producers in the west.

The agriculture minister stated earlier that he had consulted with dairy producers. With all due respect, what he said is wrong. Last weekend, I toured five ridings and met with dozens of dairy producers. I have here a statement showing that, for all of January, the Canadian Dairy Commission paid a dairy producer in my riding $506 in subsidies.

Would dairy producers accept losses of $7,000 or $8,000 a year? No way. What the minister should tell us is that he indeed consulted, but with milk processors, not dairy producers.

Dairy producers managed to adjust to competition by reducing costs.

Today, they are being rewarded with cuts of five to seven per cent, which represent average losses of $8,000 per dairy farm in Quebec. The government is being unfair.

This government told us that it had not raised taxes. That is true. It will, however, raise the cost of the food basket, including dairy products like butter and cheese. The cuts imposed by this government will translate into a price increase of 28 cents a pound for butter and 50 cents a kilo for cheddar cheese.

I therefore condemn the 1996 budget as unfair to dairy producers across Canada.

The Budget
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

John Bryden Hamilton—Wentworth, ON

Mr. Speaker, I paid great attention to the remarks of the member for Frontenac. I must say I am sometimes mystified by the position the Bloc Quebecois takes from time to time.

In the course of his remarks the member was commenting on how the Quebec milk producers produce 50 per cent of the industrial milk for the rest of Canada. In the same breath he was extolling the virtues of the milk marketing board which is a Canadian institution. This is a contradiction in the position by the Bloc Quebecois.

The milk marketing boards, the supply management system, are very much a federal institution. If Quebec were to separate it would spell the end of the supply management system. Would the hon. member not admit that this would cause great hardship to the milk producers and would lead to the loss of many hundreds of family farms?

The Budget
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Guy Chrétien Frontenac, QC

Mr. Speaker, there is nothing surprising about what my distinguished colleague told this House. Just this weekend, milk producers were asking me: "Why are Bloc members the only MPs rising in the House of Commons to represent our interests?" I can understand their feelings.

I had our research staff dig out the following information. New Brunswick-represented by only one opposition member, a Conservative-accounts for 1.25 per cent of all industrial milk production. There is not much point in making tremendous efforts. Nova Scotia, 1.32 per cent, all Liberals. I have not seen one Liberal member rise in this House to oppose the government. Prince Edward Island, 1.91 per cent. All Liberals anyway. They are playing dead. Saskatchewan, 2.49 per cent; Manitoba, 3.76 per cent; British Columbia, 4.31 per cent; and Alberta, 6.52 per cent.

The members representing these provinces cannot be relied on, especially Liberals. There is, of course, the leader of the Conserva-

tive Party who represents a riding in Quebec. I shall direct the following question to him: "Hon. member for Sherbrooke, why do you not rise in this House to defend the interests of your constituents?" He remains as mute as a maggot.

As for the hon. member for Brome-Missisquoi, who boasted about coming to Ottawa to defend his farmers, these producers, whom I met, asked me: "What is our MP doing for us in Ottawa?" My answer was: "He remains as mute as a maggot. He does not say a word in your defence". That is true. Take a look in Hansard and show me when he rose in this House to defend his farmers. Never.

Ontario produces 30 per cent of all industrial milk in the country, while Quebec produces 47.57 per cent.

I did not see a single Ontarian rise in this House, not one, but that is understandable: 98 out of 99 are Liberals. They are buying their finance minister's budget. They will applaud it even if it is no good. That is why only Bloc members are rising in this House to represent the interests of Quebec milk producers.

What our producers will be forced to do is to go before the Canadian Dairy Commission to request a price increase. If they do not, some of them are facing bankruptcy, while others will literally be working for peanuts.

Did you know that each 10 per cent increase in the price of butter entails a 7 per cent drop in sales? All this because a number of consumers will no longer be able to afford to buy butter at the price it will have to sell for.

The Budget
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Acadie—Bathurst
New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, first I want to congratulate my colleague, the Minister of Finance, on his excellent budget. The minister has once again reached his goal of reducing the deficit. This is the second time he manages to do that, thus succeeding where his predecessors of the last decade failed.

By targeting expenditures with determination, consistency and intelligence, the minister largely contributed to establishing a visible and sound financial environment. Indeed, a sound national balance sheet is an essential prerequisite to grow, prosper and improve our standard of living at the turn of the century. Such a balance sheet is the only durable basis that will allow us to maintain the best social security system in the world for future generations. Our goal is to achieve nothing less than that.

The United Nations, the OECD, as well as men and women around the world who seek to move to Canada all tell us that we have the best country in the world but here at home, Canadians need a reality check. We must challenge Canadians who do not agree that we are the best to tell us where countries do it better, more effectively and with better results, not where governments spend more money, but where they get more for their money.

We need to determine what nation allows low and average income seniors to retire with better security. What country has a better and more accessible post-secondary education system? What country has a better, more inclusive employment insurance system that balances the need for reasonable income benefits with active re-employment measures, including a basic income for low income families?

We must challenge Canadians who no longer have faith in our system to tell us in what country single mothers have better access to re-employment programs or child care assistance. What country has a more accessible and effective public health care system? Where in the world can disadvantaged citizens be assured of a stronger safety net to support their needs for food, shelter and basic services?

Canadians are going to have to learn to benchmark what we have achieved against the programs and practices of other G-7 and OECD countries, not against some phantom abstract notion of what we think we should have accomplished or deserve to have in the future.

The message that is fundamental in this budget is that the Liberal government is committed to modernizing and securing the Canadian social safety net and we make real strides toward meeting that goal. I do not hesitate to say that this is the first Liberal budget we have seen in this country in 12 years. We have reason to be very proud of it. The Minister of Finance had to struggle through his first few years cleaning up the mess that was left behind. Our objective is unmistakable: a Canadian social safety net that is affordable, effective and contemporary.

This budget is a major step toward a sustainable and reliable government pension plan for seniors in the next century. The new seniors benefit, which will take effect in the year 2001, is a practical and progressive solution to the costs related to our aging Canadian society. These costs must be contained, while also ensuring that most retired people will be as comfortable, if not more, than is currently the case under the old age security and guaranteed income supplement programs.

Most retired people in the year 2001 will enjoy greater protection. A full 75 per cent of seniors will be treated as well, if not better, in the year 2001 than now. Given the demographic projections for the next 25 years, this is quite an achievement.

The second component of the reform is to design the Canada pension plan so as to make sure that all Canadians can rely on it when they retire. Negotiations are currently under way between

the federal and provincial governments to find a sound long term financial base for the CPP.

We must find the best and most sustainable balance between the necessary increases to the contribution rates and the amendments to the benefit structure, so as to ensure the plan's middle and long term viability.

The budget demonstrates the priority we place on helping young people find their place in an increasingly competitive and tough global job market. We are investing in jobs for youth. The budget provides $105 million extra per year for three years to assist our efforts to help our young people get jobs. As part of this new funding the Government of Canada will double to $120 million the support for private, public and not for profit partners to create summer jobs this year alone.

We are helping to make work pay by doubling the working income supplement by 1998 to $1,000 a year per family. This special supplement is targeted directly at our nation's low income working families and will give our children a better future.

The right of children of divorced parents to adequate financial support will be respected. Major tax changes linked to new standardized guidelines nationwide for child support will be brought into effect and will be backed by tougher enforcement.

At the same time, we are helping working parents, particularly single parents, by broadening the child care expense deduction. These are parents who cannot be at home and need child care because they are on the job or taking courses to help them get a job. Eligible parents with teenagers between the ages of 14 and 16 will now be able to receive the deduction.

We are adding an extra $80 million a year to fund student tuition fees and education tax credits. The limits have been raised on registered education savings plans.

We are especially proud that this budget provides for a permanent floor for cash contributions to the provinces for health, post-secondary education and social services.

When the growing value of tax point transfers are included, worth some $14 billion this year, it means that overall the size of the CHST will stabilize next year and the two years following at $25 billion. By the turn of the century, the full value of these important transfers will begin to rise in a way that directly tracks economic growth. By putting these important transfers on a solid footing and establishing a growth path, we are demonstrating our unshakeable commitment to the Canadian social union.

We are ready to fulfil our responsibilities as a strong partner with the provinces which deliver the social programs and services to our citizens. This is the unique genius of the Canadian federation; this country was built by the national and provincial governments working co-operatively, recognizing and respecting the strains and tensions inherent to all federal systems. The implementation of the CHST marks a new era in the fiscal arrangements that support the Canadian social union.

The 13.5 tax points ceded to the provinces in 1977 to help pay for health and post-secondary education are now worth some $14 billion. They are every bit as important as is the cash component we hear so much about.

Indeed, in the speech from the throne as well as in last year's budget, our government committed itself to co-operate with the provinces to define by mutual consent the principles and rules of the Canadian health and social transfer.

Now that the long term funding rules have been decided upon, including the transfer distribution formula, we are going to have discussions on the principles. We have retained the five principles of the Canada Health Act with the proviso that provinces cannot discriminate according to the place of residence in the delivery of social services. Moreover, we are ready to discuss with our partners.

We are all increasingly aware of the unacceptable human deficit our society is confronted with.

This deficit can have all sorts of fiscal and other consequences for future generations of Canadians. But we do not have the means required to assess this human deficit, and we must understand the problem well in order to solve it.

We do not have a good system of social indicators similar to the economic indicators we all know-inflation, unemployment, growth, monetary aggregates, etc.-on which the government bases many of its decisions. This is a need that all governments should try and meet together. A lot of crucial work awaits us in this sector.

The budget clearly revives our plan to put our social safety net on a sound basis.

The employment insurance bill is before the House and it is hoped it will be implemented on the target date of July 1, 1996. This important pro-employment initiative is now being examined in committee where members will have an opportunity to make some adjustments that will improve the overall balance and fairness of the package.

Without prejudging the specific amendments that will be brought forward, I have already made it clear that we must have changes that will do the following. Resolve the problem of gaps in employment that unfairly affect benefits for workers in some

industries across the country where work patterns are irregular. The system must be connected much more closely to changes in local employment conditions. As jobs become available everyone should be obliged to take whatever work is available and must be well motivated to do so. The social safety net should be reinforced by ensuring an appropriate income floor for low income workers, particularly in our large cities where there are significant numbers of working poor who must have access to employment insurance.

A fundamental feature of employment insurance is the reinvestment in direct, results oriented re-employment measures for unemployed Canadians. We understand the enormous and turbulent impact of technological change on workplaces everywhere. Our intention is not to interfere with the provinces but to work in partnership with them.

As announced in the throne speech, the government is totally committed to accelerating discussions with the provinces to get agreement on how to best harmonize labour market activity. Already the draft report of the provincial Ministerial Council on Social Reform, the Quebec government statement of principles on a possible labour market agreement and part II of the EI legislation together provide for the orderly withdrawal of federal activity and training, and to explore new approaches and the appropriate roles and responsibilities of each level of government for strengthening national and local labour markets.

We plan to work closely with the provinces in the coming months to find a mutually acceptable way of strengthening access to child care services, thereby helping to reduce for many low income families and single mothers a serious barrier to jobs and economic independence.

However, I want to emphasize that as the throne speech stated, the Government of Canada will not use its spending power to create new shared cost programs in areas of exclusive provincial jurisdiction without the consent of a majority of the provinces.

To conclude, I repeat that the Government of Canada is determined to see to it that at the beginning of the next century this country offers its people the best social programs and the best tax and fiscal conditions in the world. The last budget tabled by my colleague the Minister of Finance will be a great help to that end, by giving us better control over our deficit while hastening the reform and the strengthening of the Canadian safety net.