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 budget.

Topics

The Budget
Government Orders

9:30 a.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, unfortunately, I would say to my colleague that I do not wish to become involved in the reorganization of Canada. I would say to him that they will have a much easier time of it after we are gone.

In the sixties, we decided to take a number of steps, one of them involving the pension plan, on the assumption that one always runs one's own affairs best. We did the same for loans and scholarships and the joint programs we pulled out of in 1964, 29 of them if I remember correctly. Jean Lesage negotiated that withdrawal.

Throughout all this, Quebec developed a model very different from that of the rest of Canada. I am not saying it is better, nor that it is not as good, but simply that it is different.

I will tell my hon. colleague, who asked what the provinces should do, that in many areas the provinces could do much more, as Canada as a whole could, provided it is recognized that two realities exist north of the United States, namely the Quebec reality and the Canadian reality.

We should be two sovereign countries in a new partnership; this way, certain measures would not be imposed on the rest of Canada by this government because, for one thing, it would not be in office and we would be able to take care of our own business. I think that we would all have more respect for one another and the issues would be clearer, including with respect to the future of the Canada pension fund.

The Budget
Government Orders

9:30 a.m.

Stoney Creek
Ontario

Liberal

Tony Valeri Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to the comments made by the hon. member. He went on and on about the hiding of deficits. I am not quite sure what he said. However, I remind the hon. member that whether you are in Quebec, in British Columbia, in Ontario or down east, the other day the Minister of Finance stood to announce a balanced budget. That is great for this country. It is great for Canadians.

All Canadians participated in ensuring that we were able to achieve that objective. I think the hon. member should congratulate Canadians and Quebeckers for their participation in ensuring that particular objective.

With respect to the millennium fund, the hon. member went on and on about jurisdiction.

I would argue that whether a student is in Quebec or British Columbia or any other part of Canada, students do not want to hear about jurisdiction. They want to hear about assistance.

Yesterday this budget provided assistance to students to allow them to continue their courses, to allow access to education and further training and skills so that we can continue to build this country, a very united country into the next millennium.

The Budget
Government Orders

9:35 a.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague just walked in; he must have heard my remarks elsewhere. I started by congratulating Canadians and Quebeckers on the efforts they made and I did say that, if a zero deficit was achieved, it was thanks to the efforts made by the provinces, the unemployed, the taxpayers, and not by the people across the way.

If he recognizes this fact today, we agree on one thing.

With respect to the millennium fund, he suggests that students are very pleased. I would submit to him that, if there is one thing students in Quebec do not want to hear about any more, it is that party and its leader, the current Prime Minister.

It would be interesting for the hon. member to read Quebec papers. Even the Montreal Gazette —this is probably the only Quebec paper he reads—said this morning that Minister Landry was right and the federal government had no business in education. That is what the Montreal Gazette said. This morning, Pierre Elliott Trudeau was reported as saying that, when the federal government stepping in the area of education through the grants and loans door, people should not obey the law. Pierre Elliott Trudeau, the Prime Minister's hero, is inciting people to a tax revolt.

The Budget
Government Orders

9:35 a.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Against the federal government.

The Budget
Government Orders

9:35 a.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

The man whose portrait adorns the office of almost every Liberal member.

I think that my colleague has been transparent this morning, showing how little he knows Quebec.

The Budget
Government Orders

9:35 a.m.

Peterborough
Ontario

Liberal

Peter Adams Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Burlington.

I would like to follow up on the remarks of my colleagues, the member for Vancouver Quadra and the member for Kitchener—Waterloo.

In this budget, after many decades, we saw the elimination of the federal deficit. At the same time that elimination was announced we also announced new investments in health care and higher education and a new look and a redesign of the Canada pension plan.

If we look back on all the budgets since we were elected in 1993, difficult budgets for Canadians, difficult budgets for members of Parliament like me, we will see in those times when we were downsizing and redesigning government, in each budget some seeds were planted to help in the areas of health care, higher education and research and help with respect to the basic support supplied by Canada for senior citizens.

I am delighted that the deficit is now behind us. We can move on from that. I am also delighted at the way in which the deficit has been eliminated. We have been able to reinvest as we were redesigning and downsizing.

With the time I have available I cannot speak about the health care side or the Canada pension side of the budget. I would like to speak about the higher education part which has been the subject of discussion between members on this side and representatives of the Bloc.

Since I was elected to the government caucus I worked with a group of MPs from all regions of the country in a government caucus on post-secondary education and research. We have tried to listen to students from all over the country and their national representatives in Ottawa. We also went out to the regions to speak to them. We have met with presidents of universities and the AUCC, the association which represents the universities in the national capital.

We have met with individual members of faculty, from colleges and universities, all across the country and with their representatives, the CAUT and the other associations which represent university faculty. We have met with research groups from universities, from colleges, from institutes, from hospitals and researchers in the private sector.

This government caucus on post-secondary education, having listened over these years to the concerns of these groups, students, university and college groups, is truly delighted with the announcements in this budget and with the response of the government to these representations which have been made over the last three or four years.

I would like to put on record the letter to the Minister of Finance from this caucus group on post-secondary and research, a letter that was the basis of our discussions with him some weeks ago when we took the concerns of all those people I have mentioned to the Minister of Finance. We said to him that post-secondary education and research should be a priority for all Canadians in this budget. This is the sense of the letter which we sent to the Minister of Finance prior to our formal discussion with him:

Dear Minister:

As you know, the caucus on post-secondary education and research was formed during the last Parliament. Our executive consists of MPs, from all regions, who have a keen interest in the role of the federal government in higher education and research. We greatly appreciate the support you have given us over the years. Without your enthusiastic involvement, the millennium scholarships, the RESP program, the foundation for innovation and the increase in student loans and the extension of the grace period for those loans, would not have come into being.

We look forward to meeting with you next week.

During the meeting, we would like, with your permission, to develop two main themes. The first of these concerns is the importance of increased funding for basic research, particularly through the grants councils.

Those are the SSHRC, the Medical Research Council, and NSERC, the science grants council.

The letter goes on:

Like us, you have undoubtedly received a great deal of input from the research community. Their arguments, particularly with respect to levels of funding in other jurisdictions, are compelling.

We feel that it is time to move on support of the operational side of research to complement our investment in the research infrastructure through the new Canadian foundation for innovation.

That was one of the two main themes that our caucus on post-secondary education and research picked up from hundreds of representations that we have received from across the country, that basic research in the country, the actual performing of research in the hospitals, in the colleges, in the universities, now needed important support because the government in the previous budget had moved on the infrastructure side of research.

The letter goes on:

Our second theme concerns improving accessibility of students to college, CEGEP, university and other post-secondary training institutions. We believe that this is something which goes beyond further reform and revitalization of student loans programs (important though they may be). We would like to canvass topics such as student employment, further support for students' families and special provisions for disadvantaged students.

We would hope that you will address these themes in your upcoming budget—

That was the letter which was the basis of a discussion some weeks ago with the Minister of Finance. I want to thank the minister on behalf of the students, the professors and the researchers of our colleges, CEGEPs, universities, hospitals and institutes across the country for his response to these well supported requests from the higher education community.

I have always believed that the way you do things is as important as what you do. This is true in everyday life for each of us as we go about our business and our social affairs, but it is particularly important for governments.

I believe it is very, very important that the deficit has been eliminated. For me, the way it has been done is equally important. We have tried over the last three or four years to eliminate the deficit in as humane a way as was possible. That is very important. From the beginning we had a plan which, while downsizing was going on, involved reinvestment in various areas such as higher education as I have been discussing, but also with early childhood education, prenatal and postnatal programs and things of that type. In that sense it has been done well.

It was done well in the sense that when we cut the federal system, we cut it strategically, targeting some areas for large cuts and some for small cuts. It was also done well in the sense that we timed the cuts, for example we gave the provinces notice and time to adjust to the changes.

I am delighted with this budget and with the results that we have achieved. I am equally delighted with the way in which we have arrived at this point.

The Budget
Government Orders

9:45 a.m.

Reform

Rob Anders Calgary West, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask a question. As a matter of fact, it was a bug put in my ear by a fellow colleague.

When we think back to just after the election in 1993 and even during the election, we heard Liberals across this country say that the budget could not be balanced, that it could never be balanced in three years or in a short period of time because the economic growth rate would go through the floor. They were like Chicken Little running around the country then I remember.

Liberals were saying that if Canada tried to balance its budget, the growth rates would be non-existent. We would shrink. We would go back to having children with tar on their noses, something like the industrial revolution. The economy would grind to a halt because Canada could not handle a balanced budget and the cuts in government spending that would necessitate.

I am wondering how three years later the Liberals can sit here bleating, preening and patting themselves on the back for balancing the budget and not recognize that indeed they have gone against everything they were saying three years ago. They have accomplished what they said three years ago was impossible. Then only the Reform Party was saying that the budget could be balanced.

The Budget
Government Orders

9:45 a.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted the member opposite is listening so closely to what we have to say.

When we came to office in 1993, people seem to forget that we had a detailed elaborate plan for dealing with the fiscal problems faced by the federal government.

One of the reasons we stressed fiscal responsibility with the federal government is that in terms of interest rates, in terms of the strength of the dollar, it is the performance of the federal government that counts.

At the moment, there are two provinces which are still struggling with their deficit problems, yet our interest rates are lower than they have ever been, the growth in GDP is higher than it has been for many, many decades and so on. That is because it is seen by the international investment community that the federal government has its own house in order and has had and still has plans for what it is going to do in the future.

In 1993 when we came in, our plan was designed to put Canada on a good fiscal track. Because we have done that we have these other advantages, the lower interest rates that are helping the provinces at this time, the lower interest rates that are helping our businesses at this time, and so on.

All I can say is that I am delighted that the deficit has now been eliminated. I am delighted at the way we have done it.

The Budget
Government Orders

9:50 a.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask my colleague a question. He says he does not want to deal with the problem of health. He wants to speak of education. He is interested in education.

Is his reluctance to speak of the problem of health in Canada related to the fact that, before the budget, Canadians had clearly called for money to be put into that program? In New Brunswick this week the nurses association said that nurses were suffering from burnout. There is no money available in the health system for the administrators.

Yesterday, New Brunswick Minister of Health, Dr. Russell King, attacked the Liberal budget. The Newfoundland minister attacked the Liberal budget. You have missed the boat. In my opinion, you did not listen to Canadians.

Why do you not want to talk about it? Are you ashamed? Is that the problem?

The Budget
Government Orders

9:50 a.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, the largest single financial item in the budget was the $1.5 billion in restored funding in transfers to the provinces. That funding of course is for health and social services, but it is our assumption that a great deal of that will be put into health by the provinces.

In other matters of health, I mentioned the support for the grants councils. Funding for the Medical Research Council, which is going to be the major beneficiary of the Foundation for Innovation which will provide research infrastructure in hospitals and labs, was increased.

I would mention the caregiver tax benefit that was included. It ties in with the money we have invested in home care and national prescription drug programs in the last budget. I did mention in my remarks prenatal and postnatal care which we introduced in 1993 and which is still running.

The Budget
Government Orders

9:50 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

Resuming debate, the hon. member for Burlington. I must advise the hon. member that we are going to have to interrupt her at 10 o'clock for routine proceedings.

The Budget
Government Orders

9:50 a.m.

Liberal

Paddy Torsney Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to be part of this debate on the 1998 federal budget and to share my perspective on how this budget will benefit Canadians today and tomorrow.

I am particularly proud to be part of this debate as the vice-chair of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance. This year we completed the most extensive public consultation ever. My colleagues did an excellent job and made the many hours of deliberation pass quickly. Their support to me personally, especially on the road as we met Canadians in Regina, Winnipeg, Montreal, Fredericton and Charlottetown made chairing easy. To those Canadians who shared their ideas, their hopes and dreams and the benefit of their experience along the way and here in Ottawa, thank you.

During Burlington's prebudget meeting, the variety of opinions and suggestions was truly impressive, every idea born of experience and every suggestion a good one in its own right.

Balancing all of these special interests is not an easy task. In fact it is such a difficult task that some opposition members preferred not to consider special interests in their policy making. Our success is built on our commitment to ensuring that our policy decisions reflect the core values Canadians hold from coast to coast coast.

The 1998 budget reflects the hopes and dreams of Canadians of all ages. The Minister of Finance presented Canadians with a balanced budget, a focused plan which prepares and propels us into the 21st century. It is a Liberal balanced approach.

This budget signifies a turning point for all Canadians. Over the past four years our budgets have been about how to reduce our deficit and get our country back on track without kicking the legs out from the economy. They have been about making strategic small steps in areas we knew were desperate for help knowing that the dismal set of books left to us by previous governments limited our choices.

Our challenge then was about how to deliver very necessary services to Canadians under very restrictive circumstances. This budget is about pursuing those goals as individuals and as a nation. It builds on those baby steps and starts us walking freely and upright, proud of our accomplishments as a nation in working hard and getting our financial circumstances back in order.

This budget is about helping Canadians open doors. The Canadian opportunities strategy is a carefully considered well crafted initiative. It gives Canadians in every region something to look forward to, to count on, to believe in and to invest in. It builds on our commitment to getting Canadians back to work, to being financial responsible and to preparing our children for healthy productive lives. While time will not permit me to expand on all seven steps in the strategy, I will highlight a few.

The Canadian millennium scholarship foundation says to bright young Canadians they do have a chance for post-secondary education in spite of their families' limited circumstances if they work hard and produce results in high school. It ensures our next generation has a fighting chance.

The strategy includes grants of up to $3,000 to students with children allowing parents to take advantage of post-secondary education they only dreamed of in the past.

The strategy allows those who wish to increase their employability to do so by allowing them to withdraw tax free from their RRSP to enrol in full time education and training. This is particularly helpful to those on whom the economy has forced a second career at age 45 or 50.

In partnership with families the Canadian education savings grant provides added reasons to put a few dollars away for a child, a niece or a grandson, for their future post-secondary education. It builds on our previous initiative to remove some of the risk of that investment.

These are concrete examples of how much this government believes in its greatest resource, the Canadian public. Equal to this accomplishment and a critical commitment to Canadians was our increase of some $400 million over the next four years to the granting councils.

We have made a commitment to Canadian researchers, university professors and post-secondary students. This measure reflects the government's commitment to ensuring Canada remains competitive in the next millennium. It says to our brightest and our best: Stay here in Canada. Make your discoveries here. Invent your inventions. As partners we recognize your work enhances our economy and international competitiveness.

Finally, there is the important issue of taxation. While it should be every government's dream to reduce taxation to its citizens, governments must not do so irresponsibly. That is why Canadians did not ask for broad tax cuts. It is why they told us in city after city to reinvest in their society, provide some relief for the sacrifices they have made over the past few years and pay down the debt. Canadians are not foolhardy, even if some of their elected officials in opposition pretend that they would be.

This budget does cut taxes in a strategic way. It supports families by increasing the child care expense deduction to more accurately reflect the true cost of child care allowing young families more flexibility in their budgets.

This budget removes the 3% surtax for those who need the biggest breaks. It is responsible and fair.

This budget is consistent with our last budget and the one before that. It delivers on our strategy. It reflects the core values Canadians have. It reflects their priorities because it was created in consultation with them. It is a budget that makes strategic investments in Canadians. It delivers on the hopes of Canadians and their commitment to work hard to accomplish their dreams.

The Budget
Government Orders

9:55 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

We will interrupt the presentation of the member for Burlington, who has five minutes for questions and comments, and we will proceed now to the daily routine of business.

A message from His Excellency the Governor General transmitting estimates for the financial year ending March 31, 1999 was presented by the President of the Treasury Board and read by the Speaker to the House.

Interparliamentary Delegations
Routine Proceedings

February 26th, 1998 / 10 a.m.

Liberal

John Maloney Erie—Lincoln, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian delegation to the sixth annual meeting of the Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Forum hosted by the Republic of Korea which took place January 7 to January 10, 1998.

The Canadian delegation was very pleased with the outcome of the meeting, in particular the adoption of its two resolutions, namely the resolution on the banning of anti-personnel land mines which strongly encouraged all APPF signatory states to ratify the convention before the end of 1998, and the resolution on the use of technology which encouraged the development of technologies.

I wish to thank Their Excellencies Hang Kyung Kim, the Republic of Korea's ambassador to Canada, and Michel Perrault, the Canadian ambassador to Korea and their staffs for their assistance to us.

I also wish to thank the staff of the Department of Foreign Affairs, as well as the delegation members and staff.

Canada Land Surveyors Act
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell
Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria for the Minister of Natural Resources and Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-31, an act respecting Canada land surveyors.

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