House of Commons Hansard #146 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

Government Response To Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Fundy Royal
New Brunswick

Liberal

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

Madam Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to six petitions.

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

March 18th, 1997 / 10 a.m.

Liberal

Mary Clancy Halifax, NS

Madam Speaker, I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, the first report of the Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs.

Pursuant to an order of reference dated Wednesday, February 3, 1997, the committee has studied Bill C-300, the volunteer Canadian service medal for United Nations peacekeeping act, and has agreed to report it with amendments and with much thanks to the member for Saanich-Gulf Islands.

Canadian Charter Of Duties And Responsibilities
Routine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Reform

Garry Breitkreuz Yorkton—Melville, SK

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-388, an act to establish a Canadian charter of duties and responsibilities.

Madam Speaker, one of the main problems I have identified in my research is that there are legal documents which describe the rights of Canadian citizens in great detail, but no legal document which describes their responsibilities. Consequently, Canadians are becoming more and more preoccupied with their rights, which is creating an unhealthy entitlement mentality in our society.

Today I am introducing a private member's bill entitled the Canadian charter of duties and responsibilities. My long term goal is to improve the balance between self-interest and public interest and to encourage a sense of trust, responsibility and generosity of spirit among all Canadians.

The specific purpose of my bill is to remind Canadians, every time they apply for a federal program, of this simple reality: we cannot continue to enjoy our rights until and unless we continue to fulfil our responsibilities.

My bill describes in very general terms 16 fundamental duties of citizenship and every time a citizen or permanent resident of Canada seeks any financial assistance from the federal government they will be required to sign a statement of duties and responsibilities. This routine process will serve as a regular reminder that the benefits of being Canadian also mean meeting one's obligation to our country, our communities and our families.

My bill will also ensure that all federal legislation is consistent with the principle that rights and freedoms must be balanced with duties and responsibilities.

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

Divorce Act
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-389, an act to amend the Divorce Act (marriage counselling required before divorce granted).

Mr. Speaker, this month the Vanier Institute on the Family reported that one out of every two marriages in Canada ends up in divorce and that 50 per cent of children will experience family breakdown before their 18th birthday. It also reported that 23 per cent of families in Canada are lone parent families and account for some 46 per cent of all children living in poverty.

This private member's bill seeks to amend the Divorce Act to require that spouses attend marriage counselling before a divorce is

granted, unless grounds of mental or physical cruelty are present or the court is satisfied that it is impossible or inappropriate for them both to take counselling. The issue here is not the divorced couple but the children.

Children of divorced parents are two to three times more likely to experience poverty and insecurity. They experience negative impact on their capacity to love. They are less likely to go to college or university. I could go on.

I want to conclude by saying that the children are the real victims of divorce, that mandatory counselling will provide reasonable guidance to ensure that a viable parenting plan is in place and that the acrimony in divorce is mitigated as much as possible.

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

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Bloc

Gilbert Fillion Chicoutimi, QC

Madam Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I have two petitions to table this morning.

The first one deals with the national highway system, 38 per cent of which is substandard. The petitioners point out that the national highway policy study identified job creation, economic development, saving lives, preventing injury and, more importantly, improving Canada's competitiveness on international markets as benefits of the proposed national highway program.

Therefore, constituents in my riding are calling on the federal government to join with the provincial governments in upgrading the national highway system.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Bloc

Gilbert Fillion Chicoutimi, QC

Madam Speaker, the second petition points out that the availability of sources of affordable fuel is a natural advantage to Canadians in reducing the high cost of shipping over long distances between source and market.

In addition, Canadians are paying approximately 52 per cent of the cost of a litre of gasoline in the form of taxes and the excise tax went up by 1.5 cent a litre in the last budget of 1996.

Constituents in my riding therefore request that Parliament not increase the federal excise tax on gasoline in the coming year.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Madam Speaker, I have two petitions today. The first comes from Guelph, Ontario. The petitioners draw to the attention of the House that our police officers and firefighters place their lives at risk on a daily basis as they serve the emergency needs of all Canadians.

They also state that in many cases the families of officers killed in the line of duty are often left without sufficient financial means to meet their obligations.

The petitioners therefore pray and call on Parliament to establish a public safety officers compensation fund to receive gifts and requests for the benefit of families of police officers and firefighters killed in the line of duty.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Madam Speaker, the second petition comes from Winnipeg, Manitoba.

The petitioners 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 assist families that choose to provide care in the home for preschool children, the chronically ill, the aged or the disabled.

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Fundy Royal
New Brunswick

Liberal

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

Madam Speaker, I suggest that all the questions be allowed to stand.

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

Is it agreed?

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed from February 20 consideration of the motion that this House approves in general the budgetary policy of the government; and on the amendment.

The Budget
Government Orders

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Gary Pillitteri Niagara Falls, ON

Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Fredericton-York-Sunbury.

We all know that budgets are delivered to the House of Commons and the nation as a whole, but budgets are lived every day

within communities throughout our country. This budget, in my opinion, has encountered a very positive response in the homes and workplaces of many families of my constituency, in fact, in hundreds of thousands of families across the nation.

This time the government did not speak to the corporate boardrooms of the nation nor did it speak to the international money making organizations, important as they may be. It spoke instead to the homes and families which are the real strength in the country. When we speak of families, every parent across the country will tell us that their greatest concern is the well-being and future of their children. The budget addresses the future of Canada's children.

In the budget, the Liberal government proposes a two-step enrichment of the current child tax benefit. What an historic undertaking, two levels of government committing to a new cross Canada child benefit system.

By investing in our children, we reflect Canadian values and priorities and make our investment in a stronger society. I am very proud that the budget allocates $230 million over the next three years to assist the disabled. Canadians with disabilities face real barriers. However, they do not seek any special treatment. They seek equal citizenship and need our support to secure it. For this important reason, the medical expense tax credit has been broadened.

In the budget, the finance minister addresses important family issues with his championing of medicare and his aid to the most in need among us.

My riding of Niagara Falls was lucky enough to be represented in the House by another champion of medicare. I am referring to the Hon. Judy LaMarsh, who was responsible for some of the most innovative legislation within the Pearson government. It was under her guidance, as minister of national health and welfare in 1963-65 that the Canada pension plan was implemented and Canada's medicare system was designed.

Recently, and always under a Liberal government, we have learned from the National Forum on Health that the money spent on health in Canada is more than sufficient. There is, however, a lot of evidence that the money is not being spent as effectively and efficiently as it could be. The budget has listened to this and is providing funds that will help to pave the way for more effective and efficient health care system which will bring Canada into the 21st century.

Despite the over 700,000 new jobs created since 1993, we strongly believe that the unemployment rate remains too high. What parent, as head of a family, is not concerned with how they make their daily bread? The budget addresses job creation, jobs which support the dignity of individuals as no one enjoys being unemployed, jobs which allow the breadwinners to give their families a decent standard of living, and jobs that will allow family members to contribute to the new revitalized Canada pension plan for which, Mr. Prime Minister, we all thank you today. The tourism sector is a very important component for the creation of jobs in the Niagara region. The industry is expected to grow by 125,000 new jobs in the coming years and the budget allocates $95 million for this very purpose.

My constituency of Niagara Falls borders the U.S. and it has some of the most spectacular scenery in the world. I must admit that the budget's support and encouragement of tourism is good news for my constituency and for all the Niagara peninsula. The help provided in the budget to the tourism industry will be great for all of Canada. Is it not true that almost every constituency in Canada is a tourist destination?

Tourism is more that just the scenery. By working in conjunction with the aid provided to tourism by the Liberal government we will succeed in making our cities, towns and villages equal to our scenery as places for tourists to see and enjoy.

We are building our tourism industry not only for visitors from abroad but for Canadians who will then be able to meet and discover one another and explore each other's culture. I firmly believe that inter-Canadian tourism can do much more to knit the country together than all the politicians and constitutional lawyers will ever be able to do.

As our cities, towns and village grow older and our population stabilizes we have to renew and rebuild much of our infrastructure system and the budget has recognized this. Even the most right wing of private enterprise supporters would have to agree that if there is a place for government spending it has to be on infrastructure. It must be the streets, roads, bridges and schools. As we all know, those are not in the areas where enterprises excel.

Our families need good infrastructure for improved health care, education and safety. Businesses need good infrastructure to become more competitive and to create the profits which in turn will supply the economy with jobs and revenue. My appreciation, and I am sure the appreciation of millions of Canadians, goes out to the Liberal government for recognizing the need of this basic stepping stone for reaching the 21st century.

Lower interest rates are expected to generate between 300,000 and 350,000 new jobs this year. They have translated into real savings and real benefits to individuals and business alike. Furthermore, the measures announced in our fourth budget cannot but facilitate greatly the task of small business in creating jobs.

Speaking of small business, I would like to address the farming community and its constituents who in most cases are small or medium sized business owners. I am sure they will appreciate the budget measures geared to the Farm Credit Corporation, which will enhance economic growth in rural Canada by providing specialized and personalized services to farming operations. Family farms

and small and medium sized businesses that are related to farming will then be able to benefit from it. Increases in the Farm Credit Corporation's lending activities will help to enhance the economic development of rural Canada, particularly the agri-food sector.

In conclusion, when we took office Canadians knew that tough decisions and fundamental changes were required. Canadians did not want any tinkering. They asked for lasting solutions. They wanted us to develop a plan and stick to it. With our fourth budget we have done just that and we are continuing to do so because we know we are on the right track.

One of our greatest prime ministers, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, said that the the 20th century belonged to Canada, and it surely has. However, our work is not complete. Our record is not perfect, but it shows that the Liberal government has taken its commitments very seriously. Our current Prime Minister and Minister of Finance have with this budget staked out our claim which will successfully lead Canada and all Canadians into the 21st century.

The Budget
Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

Reform

Jim Silye Calgary Centre, AB

Madam Speaker, I have a comment and a question or two to ask of the member for Niagara Falls.

I know he is a businessman. I would like to make this analogy. He praises this budget. He says that it is a good budget and that he is proud of it. When the government first came into power its members talked about how they would reduce the deficit to 3 per cent of GDP. Somehow we thought the deficit was $38 billion but that was inflated to $42 billion.

According to the budget the deficit for the current year now stands at $19 billion. Would he agree with me that a deficit in a business can be stated as a loss? When the government took power the previous government had run up a loss of $42 billion. The Liberal government has now reduced that loss on an annual basis down to $19 billion.

The member is saying that he is proud of a budget, that he is proud of a business, that he is proud of a finance minister who brags about breaking the back of the deficit or that he is proud of a finance minister who loses on behalf of Canadians, who spends more money than he brings in by $19 billion.

How can the member say that he is proud of a budget that loses this kind of money when the whole criteria of a budget should be to get to a balanced budget, and the sooner the better. I know the member is a businessman. I know the member understands that he could not run at a loss for 30 straight years and keep adding to his debt unless he had unlimited natural resources in Niagara Falls. Maybe he does. I know Canada is rich as well. I do not understand how Liberal members can brag about a budget that brings in a loss of $19 billion.

The member talked about the serious commitment of the government. We found out yesterday that to reduce the deficit the government has cut transfers to provinces by $7.5 billion. That represented about 23 per cent of its overall deficit cutting regime. Then the government representatives said: "Yes, we know it's tough to swallow. You provinces will have to handle it. You guys will have to work it out at lower levels yourselves and locally. But we're going to bite the bullet as well. We are going to reduce program spending and departmental spending by 18 per cent or so, by $9 billion".

The government was supposed to cut regional development by 50 per cent but it is still the same. It is still half a billion dollars away on transport even though it has done a good job in that area. If the government is serious about its commitment, then why have the cuts to departmental spending, the government's spending within its own jurisdiction, not been made to their full extent? The cuts are only half of what they should be according to the member who said that the commitment was strong.

The Budget
Government Orders

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

Gary Pillitteri Niagara Falls, ON

Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his excellent question.

When we went to an election in 1993 there was a $42 billion deficit. We stated at the time that we would bring our deficit down to 3 per cent of GDP, and we have done that. We are very proud of that. Not only have we done it, but we have excelled on it.