House of Commons Hansard #68 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was finance.

Topics

The Budget
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Bloc

Suzanne Tremblay Rimouski—Mitis, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question, but he is confusing the Unity Office with the Information Office. The Unity Office comes under the responsibility of the Prime Minister or the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, while the Minister of Canadian Heritage is responsible for propaganda.

But to answer his question more directly, what is needed in this House is for people to show us some respect and stop interrupting us all the time. What is needed is for people to stop provoking us with the Canadian flag. It should be used appropriately. People should be more open-minded and respectful toward Quebeckers and toward members in the House, because we were elected democratically like everyone else. We have a job to do, and if they keep on like this, it will not bring about unity, but rather give us one more reason to leave.

The Budget
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Hillsborough
P.E.I.

Liberal

George Proud Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I will wait until the wind goes down.

I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Etobicoke—Lakeshore.

I am very happy to finally see that a balanced budget has arrived. Canadians have been adding to the nation's mortgage for 27 years and now, because of our collective efforts, we are actually starting to pay it off and to pay off the debt. I will admit that it will take quite a few years to do this, but at least it is a start and we are now out of the blocks.

Before I comment on the initiatives contained in this budget, I want to briefly point out that we have not forgotten about job creation. In fact, the focus of this budget is on jobs, future jobs. We already have a proven track record of job creation and now we want it to continue by increasing access to the knowledge and skills required in the new economy.

Over the last four years, the number of jobs have grown by over one million. From 1997 alone, 372,000 new jobs were created, all of them full time and in the private sector. The unemployment rate fell to below 9% in December, and while that is not near a satisfactory number, the improving trend is clear and it will continue well into the future.

The federal government cannot ignore global pressures. Canada is part of a fast changing, competitive, interdependent world economy, an economy that is increasingly knowledge based, but this is not only because of the new high skill jobs in the high tech industries. There has already been a steady rise of skill requirements in all sectors of the economy and in most types of jobs.

We know not all Canadians are in a position to access the knowledge and skills they will need throughout their lifetime to find and to keep good jobs. Barriers, most often financial barriers, reduce access to post-secondary education for many. That is why this government has created this education budget. This budget is about enhancing the equality of opportunity in gaining the knowledge and skills for today and tomorrow.

The centrepiece of our increased support is the Canadian millennium scholarship foundation. Through an initial endowment of $2.5 million, the arm's length foundation will provide scholarships to over 100,000 students each year over 10 years, starting in the year 2000.

However, the most important aspect—and I know this is important to all Canadians and indeed to all Prince Edward Islanders—is that Canadians of all ages, studying full time or part time in publicly funded universities, community colleges, vocational or technical institutions and CEGEPs, will be eligible for these scholarships.

Moreover, the foundation will have the authority and the discretion to include privately funded institutions. This has a much broader scope than any existing support.

In recognition that many students' needs are not fully met by scholarships and student loans, the government is also introducing Canada study grants. Beginning in 1998-99, grants will go to over 25,000 needy full and and part time students who have children or other dependants.

Student debt has become a very heavy burden for many Canadians.

Last December federal and provincial first ministers agreed that something must be done to reduce the financial burden on students. They asked the federal government to take action in this budget and it is.

First, all students will get tax relief, a 17% federal credit for interest paid on their student loans. Second, we are increasing the income threshold used to qualify for interest relief on Canada student loans by 9%, making more graduates eligible. Third, we are introducing graduated interest relief which will extend assistance to more graduates further up the income scale.

Fourth, for individuals who have used 30 months of interest relief we will ask the lending institutions to extend the loan repayment period to 15 years. Fifth, if after extending the repayment period to 15 years a borrower remains in financial difficulty, there will be an extended interest relief period. Finally, for the minority of graduates who still remain in financial difficulties after taking advantage of these measures, we will reduce their student loan principal by as much as half.

Together these new interest relief measures will help up to 100,000 more borrowers and over 12,000 borrowers a year will benefit from debt reduction when this measure is fully phased in.

Many Canadians who are already in the workforce want to take time away from work to upgrade their skills through full time study. We have introduced measures to help them overcome financial barriers. Beginning in January of next year Canadians will be able to make tax free withdrawals from their RRSPs for lifelong learning.

To preserve the role of the RRSPs in providing retirement income, the amounts withdrawn will have to be repaid over a 10 year period. In many respects this plan resembles a successful homebuyers plan.

Canadians oftentimes study part time to upgrade their knowledge and skills. We are proposing two new measures to help them. Beginning this year the education credit will be extended to part time students. This will benefit 250,000 Canadians.

In addition, for the first time parents studying part time will now be able to deduct their child care expenses. Currently only full time students are eligible. This new measure will benefit some 50,000 part time students.

Any long range plan to acquire knowledge and skills for the next century must look ahead to the students of tomorrow. The best way to help ensure children's future is to save for their education today. We want to establish a new partnership to help parents save for their children's future. That is why we are introducing the Canada education savings grant to make registered education savings plans even more attractive. Beginning in January we will provide a grant of 20% on the first $2,000 up to a maximum annual grant of $400 per child.

I want to point out that this does not take much to save for a child's education. For example, if a family contributes $25 every two weeks for a total of $650 a year for 15 years, their child will have $4,700 available each year for a four year period of education. Of that amount almost $800 a year would be as a direct result of a Canada education savings grant.

The Canadian opportunity strategy also addresses the urgent problem of youth unemployment. The actions we are taking will give young Canadians the job experience they need and provide support for those who have dropped out of school and face particularly tough challenges. First, the budget provides—

The Budget
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

The Speaker

My colleague, you still have three minutes left of your time. I am sorry to interrupt you now but it is two o'clock. We will go to statements by members. The hon. member for Charleswood—Assiniboine.

William Ormond Mitchell
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

John Harvard Charleswood—Assiniboine, MB

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to celebrate a life well lived and a life that resonated the values of Canadians to the world.

I speak of William Ormond Mitchell, a Canadian literary icon who passed away yesterday at the age of 83.

When I worked in television I had the honour of interviewing Mr. Mitchell. I remember his earthy charm, sincere warmth and salty wit. Moreover, W. O. Mitchell possessed the rare ability to write about his perceptive insights into the human condition. He was indeed a product of his prairie environment, genuine and true to himself and the world around him.

Although he will be missed, W. O. Mitchell has left Canadians with a better sense of who they are and for that legacy he will be long remembered.

On behalf of all members I convey condolences to his family.

Grammy Awards
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Reform

Keith Martin Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, Canada came out a winner last night at the Grammy awards in New York. We can all be proud of the outstanding achievements of our talented artists.

British Columbia's Sarah McLachlan came away with two awards. Bryan Adams was nominated for best male duet. Ottawa's Alanis Morrisette won best long term video. Montreal's Céline Dion was nominated for best duet. Daniel Lanois won for best album in contemporary folk.

This is only the tip of the iceberg. Our nation has literally thousands of talented artists: the Tragically Hip from Kingston, the wonderful fiddler Natalie McMaster from Nova Scotia, Leahy from Ontario, Terri Clark and Paul Brandt from Alberta, the Buicks from Calgary, the Great Big Sea, Lorena McKinnet and her beautiful voice, as well as the wonderful Susan Aglukark.

On behalf of all of us in the House and on behalf of the Reform Party we congratulate the winners of last night and the winners to be from our great pool of talented artists in Canada.

Winter Olympics
Statements By Members

February 26th, 1998 / 2 p.m.

Reform

Ian McClelland Edmonton Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, at this very moment the city of Edmonton is honouring all its Olympic athletes. At this time I would ask all members of the House to join with me in congratulating Pierre Lueders for his gold medal bobsled run, Judy Diduck and Fiona Smith for women's ice hockey, Kevin Quintilla for biathlon, Ian Danney for bobsleigh, Jaime Fortier for women's cross-country skiing, and Curtis Joseph for men's ice hockey.

The stunning victory of Pierre Lueders is ever more remarkable in that he won a gold medal in his first ever world cup race in 1992. Now, just four years and 24 world cup medals later, Mr. Lueders has become the second Canadian bobsled driver to bring home Olympic gold.

Congratulations to all our Olympic athletes.

Oceans
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Joe McGuire Egmont, PE

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure today to remind members of the House and all Canadians that 1998 is the international year of the ocean.

This is not only a year of celebration but also a year to raise public awareness about the role oceans play in our daily lives, even for those Canadians who live far from coastlines.

More than 70% of our planet's surface is covered by water and what we do inland makes a difference to the oceans' health.

Oceans regulate the world's climate and provide more oxygen than the rain forests.

Despite the importance of the oceans to every living being on the planet, they are often taken for granted.

By celebrating the international year of the ocean we can learn more about the three oceans that surround us and include all our communities in efforts to protect them.

We must raise awareness of the importance of this natural resource by involving municipalities, governments, youth groups, neighbours and friends.

It is encouraging that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans has taken a leading role on ocean related issues and that the department is seeking collaboration with oceans stakeholders toward the development of Canada's oceans strategy. The goal is to have a strategy in place by the year 2000.

Employment
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Mercier Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Lower Laurentians is a disaster-stricken area, hit by job losses in various industries.

After the problems with Kenworth and the transfer of international flights out of Mirabel, now the GM plant in Boisbriand has not only undergone further downsizing but it may well close down because the models produced there do not sell.

Years ago, Ottawa gave this company a $110 million grant to create and maintain jobs. Now these jobs created at public expense are seriously threatened. Their loss would be disastrous for the region.

GM will be investing $14 billion in its plants as part of a worldwide re-equipment plan. But not one cent was earmarked for Quebec, even though refurbishing the assembly line would enable the plant to build different models.

The public is expecting the federal government to look into this issue, which causes much anguish and on which the future of our region depends, and to make representations to GM before it is too late.

Canada
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Hec Clouthier Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canada is a very decent nation, capable of understanding, of diplomacy and of compromise. We are a very accomplished nation.

It was a Canadian who discovered insulin. It was a Canadian who invented the telephone. It was a Canadian who conceived of the emergency forces, not for war but for peace.

It was a Canadian who won two gold medals for speed skating in the Olympics.

This is not enough. We must continue to make every yesterday a vibrant and beautiful dream of happiness and every tomorrow a magnificent vision of hope. We must continue to make our voice heard clearly, distinctly and bravely.

Canada is a rare illustration that people from different backgrounds can live, learn and work alike, proud of our noble heritage, enriched by our diversity of talents and ennobled by our unity of vision. This is our responsibility. Let us—

Canada
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Kitchener Centre.

Grammy Awards
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Karen Redman Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, allow me to join with all Canadians in congratulating the successes of our artists last night at the 40th annual Grammy awards in New York City.

The number of Canadians represented at these awards reflects excellence in Canadian artists. The awards they won are prestigious international recognition of this talent.

Let me first congratulate Sarah McLachlan for winning both best female pop vocal performance and best pop instrumental. Let me also congratulate producer Daniel Lanois who shared awards with Bob Dylan for album of the year and contemporary folk album of the year.

Congratulations are due to Alanis Morisette for best long form music video and to folklore professor Neil Rosenberg for best liner notes.

Congratulations also to Céline Dion for her superb—

Grammy Awards
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Abitibi.

The Budget
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Guy St-Julien Abitibi, QC

Mr. Speaker, the budget tabled by the Minister of Finance is the best I have seen in a long time in this Parliament.

I have no hesitation in saying that it is better than all those that were tabled when I was a member of the Progressive Conservative Party. Indeed, I made a good choice when I joined the Liberal Party of Canada. I could see that the Liberal Party was committed to improving the quality of life of Canadians.

The finance minister's budget introduces and implements various measures designed to create a climate for continued economic growth.

The budget also provides for the elimination of the deficit, something we have not seen in 30 years. The Liberals' rigorous management, combined with the co-operation of all Canadians, has made it possible to resolve this serious problem affecting the future of our country.

I want to congratulate the Minister of Finance, and especially our Prime Minister, who leads his troops in an efficient and humane fashion, in the best interest of Canada. Our Prime Minister has set Canada on the road to prosperity and I wanted to underscore that.

Poverty
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Mr. Speaker, since taking office in 1993, the Liberal government has never stopped implementing policies that have a negative effect on the poor.

In this regard, the National Anti-Poverty Organization released a report on the impact, on low income Canadians, of government spending cuts and other changes affecting health care and post-secondary education.

This report, sponsored by one of the most respected organizations active in the fight against poverty, includes two findings that are disturbing to say the least. First, the actual per capita value of federal cash transfers for social programs dropped by more than 40% between 1993 and 1997. Second, access to health care services is becoming increasingly dependent on one's ability to pay, rather than on the need for medical treatment.

When will the Liberals realize that the fight is against poverty, not against the poor?

Durham College
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Judi Longfield Whitby—Ajax, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to thank the Minister of Finance for highlighting Durham College in his budget speech.

Durham College was founded in 1967 and began with a brave and important mission, to create and offer the best in college programs and to help students embark on successful careers.

Durham College has succeeded in this mission and is now one of the premier education institutions in Ontario, serving over 42,000 students.

It provides a true integration of the traditional workplace mandate of colleges and the traditional scholarship mandate of universities, thus providing the best of both worlds to students, employers and taxpayers.

With the announcement of the millennium scholarship fund, the RESP program and the Canada studies grants, more students will be able to take advantage of Durham College's vision for the future.

I congratulate Gary Polonsky, president of Durham College, who was in the gallery for the budget speech, for his contribution to the future of our young people.