House of Commons Hansard #79 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

Budget Implementation Act, 1998
Government Orders

12:15 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Jean Dubé Madawaska—Restigouche, NB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank you again for giving me another opportunity to get up and speak on this.

I would like to ask a question of the hon. member. What planet is he on? We all know that we are the highest taxed country in the G-7.

He also mentioned that I should visit his riding. I would like to bring to his attention my riding, the people I represent. He mentioned 19.5% or something like that. I will give him the number from my riding. How does 50% unemployment sound? It does not sound very good. I hear comments of bravo from the other side, but I would not say that to the people of New Brunswick, the people of Madawaska—Restigouche who are suffering today because of the cuts in transfer payments that the government has made.

The cuts to the EI, the reform of the Employment Insurance Act have put these people against the wall. I invite him to come to my riding and see these people, maybe consult with them. I invite the government to come to my riding and consult with these people and maybe find solutions to this chronic problem. It is not more EI. It is to find solutions.

My Reform colleagues next to me would do away with EI and do away with Atlantic Canada. That is what they would do. It would start in Ontario. We know what they think.

We have a responsibility to all Canadians. We have to study what has been going on in different parts of the country. It is not just to throw money at the regions with the highest levels of unemployment. It is to find solutions.

I invite the hon. member to my riding as well.

Budget Implementation Act, 1998
Government Orders

12:15 p.m.

Edmonton Southeast
Alberta

Liberal

David Kilgour Secretary of State (Latin America and Africa)

Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the hon. member would tell us how he would allocate the fiscal dividend. On $100, how much would he put to the debt, how much to investments in education and health and how much to tax reduction?

Budget Implementation Act, 1998
Government Orders

12:20 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Jean Dubé Madawaska—Restigouche, NB

Mr. Speaker, I agree that we have to attack the debt. We have said this all along. We need to have a balance. We need to balance debt reduction with our social responsibilities. If we can do that, we will find a way to please all Canadians, including those in central Canada and all the people in need. There is a balance to be found and we should look for it.

Budget Implementation Act, 1998
Government Orders

12:20 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to the remarks made by the hon. member for Madawaska—Restigouche, the riding next to mine in New Brunswick. I agree with him that we would indeed have expected a bill like this one to put back a much more substantial amount into transfer payments so that the provinces will have enough money to provide health care.

The Liberal government and its supporters claim, on the one hand, that health should be a priority and at the same time drastically cut transfer payments, starving the provinces as the result, and on the other hand, they say “We are going to develop a home care system”. Imagine the federal government involved in home care.

Does the hon. member agree with the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources Development, who stated this morning that the whole employment insurance issue was not an urgent matter? He said that we could take our time, that there was no rush to take action on this issue.

Will the hon. member for Madawaska—Restigouche, whose riding, like mine, is struggling with high unemployment and the problems associated with seasonal industries, comment on this position, which should have been reflected in the bill before us? Does this not go to show how insensitive the Liberals can be not only for eastern Quebec but also for all the maritime provinces?

Budget Implementation Act, 1998
Government Orders

12:20 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Jean Dubé Madawaska—Restigouche, NB

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question. I agree with him entirely.

As he knows, at my first committee meeting, I moved that we study the impact of the employment insurance reform, because I come from a region that is hard hit by unemployment.

I am disappointed by the committee's decision this morning, because this matter warrants study urgently, in fact more than study, because the employment insurance reforms have already been studied. The study did not reveal much. What needs to be done is for us to visit the regions, like those of my colleague and myself, to see what the employment insurance reforms have meant for the people. That would be much better for everyone. order

Business Of The House
Government Orders

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Kilger Stormont—Dundas, ON

Mr. Speaker, discussions have been held among the members of all the parties and primarily the member for Shefford on the division scheduled for Thursday, March 26, 1998 on Motion M-198. You will find unanimous consent for the following motion:

That, at the conclusion of the debate Thursday, March 26, 1998, on Motion M-198 under the name of the Member for Shefford, all questions necessary to dispose of the said motion shall be deemed put, a recorded division deemed requested and deferred until Tuesday, March 31, 1998, at the expiry of the time provided for Private Members' Business.

Business Of The House
Government Orders

12:20 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to address the government whip's point of order, on clarification.

I moved an amendment to the motion in question. Will the vote on the amendment be deferred the same way as the vote on the main motion? If so, we would support the government whip's motion.

Business Of The House
Government Orders

12:25 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Kilger Stormont—Dundas, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am sorry, and I apologize to the member for Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques for failing to discuss with him, because we need approval from him and the members involved. It is certainly our intention to have the vote on the amendment the same evening, on Tuesday.

Business Of The House
Government Orders

12:25 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Business Of The House
Government Orders

12:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to)

The House resumed consideration of Bill C-36, an act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 24, 1998; and of the amendment.

Budget Implementation Act, 1998
Government Orders

March 24th, 1998 / 12:25 p.m.

Liberal

Rose-Marie Ur Lambton—Kent—Middlesex, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with my hon. colleague from Elgin—Middlesex—London.

I am proud to speak in full and complete support of the government's budgetary measures. On behalf of my constituents I am also pleased to express their points of view on the budget. I have heard from many local residents in the month since the budget was first delivered on February 24 by the hon. Minister of Finance.

To me, families in rural Canada are the biggest winners in this budget, with $7 billion in tax cuts, $13 billion in debt reduction already this year and appropriate investments in health care and education. These are some of the items that my constituents have mentioned to me. I believe we are on the right track and must continue this course.

This budget is a balance between new spending and tax or debt reduction. The Minister of Finance has clearly accomplished that. For example, the elimination of the 3% income surtax for people earning under $50,000 and increasing the basic personal exemption are two measures that will reduce taxes for 90% of Canadians, especially low and middle income earners who form the vast majority of constituents in my riding of Lambton—Kent—Middlesex.

My riding is an assortment of small towns, villages and hamlets, with the two largest centres having populations of approximately 12,000. I was delighted to declare that rural and small town families are getting relief.

With the first balanced budget in 28 years and two more predicted to the year 2000, the Liberal government has targeted its efforts on the economic and social priorities that are important in my riding. These are items such as support for families with children, support for looking after ailing family members, increased access to knowledge and skills with more money for rural Internet access, help for small business owners to hire young people, and to enable them to deduct their own dental and health insurance.

As the Minister of Finance and the Prime Minister have stated, Canada has cut up its credit card. The era of overspending is behind us forever. I know that my constituents are breathing a sigh of relief. They want their hard-earned tax dollars to be spent wisely and prudently. People should expect nothing less from their government. We are delivering and will continue to do so.

As well, our goal is to put the horrendous national debt on a permanent downward track. Last year it dropped for the first time in a generation with more reductions to come to preserve our financial future as a country.

More help for families came in the form of an enriched child tax benefit. The 1997 budget allocated $850 million to the benefit. This year we will increase that by another $850 million over the next few years.

To help working Canadians with children, we will increase the child care deduction limit from $5,000 to $7,000 for children under the age of seven, and from $3,000 to $4,000 for children between the ages of seven and sixteen. This will assist about 65,000 Canadian families with children. It is yet another piece of good news from the budget.

Small business is the backbone of my riding. Entrepreneurs, service providers, corner stores, farm implements dealers and the farmers are all involved in our communities and make a positive economic impact.

If a small business hires someone between the ages of 18 and 24 in 1999 or 2000, their employment insurance premiums will be reduced to zero for those new hires. This will reduce payroll costs for the employers by $100 million a year. This is on top of the EI rate reductions announced in January. Both these actions could reduce payroll costs by $1.4 billion.

To improve equity in the tax treatment of self-employed Canadians, all owner operators of businesses will be able to deduct premiums for health and dental insurance against their business incomes. This is certainly an excellent step forward. In addition, the federal government will benefit the nearly 500 volunteer firefighters in Lambton county and the many more in Kent and Middlesex which are in my riding.

The tax free allowance has been doubled from $500 to $1,000. Mr. Don Crocker, Moore township's fire chief and Lambton county's fire co-ordinator, says: “It is a big deal for them, a big impact for the volunteers, manning the county's 20 primary rural Lambton stations. It is a big plus for volunteers. They are spending an awful lot of time and getting very little for it. I think it is wonderful”.

There are nearly 22,000 volunteer firefighters in the province of Ontario, so we can plainly see this budget is positive for rural Canada.

Camalachie fire chief Gerry Dochstader can attest to the low wages paid to volunteers. Some are paid on a points system, others get compensation from their municipality. The extra tax deduction will help, he says, in a February 26 article in the Sarnia Observer : “It is like compensation for the wear and tear of your car, tearing down to the fire station at 3 o'clock in the morning, whipping out on Sunday calls while still in your good clothes. For what we ask the rural firefighters they are given very, very little in return”.

The tax allowance covers the cost of clothes damaged in fires, special equipment, steel toed boots and other expenses they incur as volunteer emergency workers.

Many of Canada's important industries such as agriculture are based in rural communities. These primary industries account for almost half of Canada's exports. My riding includes some of the best dairy farmers in Ontario. Kent County is the number one corn growing region in the country and Middlesex is home to chicken, egg, beef and pork producers. Agriculture is the lifeblood of my riding and of southwestern Ontario.

The 1998 budget confirms the four year $20 million Canadian rural partnership initiative. This will support innovative programs to help rural Canadians find community solutions to challenges such as maintaining good soil and water and charting a successful course in a rapidly changing economy.

In addition, $30 million over three years has been provided to an expanded community access program. This excellent program will provide an Internet connection for virtually every community with 400 or more residents by the end of the year 2000.

I was pleased to recently announce on behalf of the Minister of Industry up to $15,000 in Internet funding for several libraries in my riding. I am confident that all of them will be hooked up to the information highway very soon.

Children and adults alike are using the services provided and I have heard nothing but great reviews.

Rural communities will also benefit from the $50 million capital injection in the Farm Credit Corporation announced in the 1997 budget. These additional funds will be used to encourage economic growth and diversification.

With fiscal discipline, targeted tax reductions and strategic investments, the 1998 budget is working for rural Canadians and all Canadians.

The budget marks a significant accomplishment for Canada. Tough fiscal control has gotten us this far, and we are not about to let up. Spending must continue to be constrained and federal spending has dropped to its lowest level in 50 years relative to the GDP. For the first time in half a century the Minister of Finance will be produce three consecutive balanced budgets, a remarkable symbol of financial stability on the world markets.

I am proud to be a part of the building of Canada and Lambton—Kent—Middlesex for the 21st century. We will lead all industrialized nations in economic growth this year and next. We can finally look forward to the future with renewed hope and optimism.

Budget Implementation Act, 1998
Government Orders

12:30 p.m.

Liberal

Gar Knutson Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to applaud the hon. member for her speech and ask her to comment on the following.

The budget set out a number of issues but the one I was most pleased with was tax relief for low and middle income Canadians. Beginning July 1, 1998 the basic personal exemption will increase, meaning 400,000 low income Canadians will no longer pay any federal income tax.

Beginning July 1 the 3% general surtax will be eliminated for Canadians with incomes up to about $50,000 and reduced for those with incomes up to $65,000. These two measures alone will yield close to $1.4 billion in tax relief for 14 million low and middle income Canadians by 1999 and the year 2000 90% of all taxpayers.

I ask the hon. member whether this focused targeted tax relief for those who need it most is being well received in her riding or perhaps she could give what comments on the tax relief she is getting in her own community.

Budget Implementation Act, 1998
Government Orders

12:35 p.m.

Liberal

Rose-Marie Ur Lambton—Kent—Middlesex, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague from Elgin—Middlesex—London for the question. I can certainly attest as to the calls that have been coming into my riding office. With the budgets that this government has produced over the last four plus years we have never really had many negative calls.

They were always positive, that the finance minister was certainly addressing the deficit. Many of the calls I received complimented the minister for exceeding his targets, which has not happened in several years.

The positive element within my community is the same for this budget as it has been in previous budgets the minister has delivered.

Budget Implementation Act, 1998
Government Orders

12:35 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Guy Chrétien Frontenac—Mégantic, QC

Mr. Speaker, I too represent and was born in a rural riding. I do not know what planet my distinguished colleague from the government party comes from. In my riding, however, I have heard but one piece of praise for the February 24 budget, and that was for the two years of employment insurance premium exemptions for employers hiring workers between the ages of 18 and 24.

I have, however, heard plenty of criticism about the lack of anything to do with job creation. Nothing has been done to reduce the poverty rate in Canada and to close the widening gap between rich and poor. Dr. Wagner of St. Hyacinthe even asked the leader of the Liberal Party to backtrack on the cuts, particularly those to health.

I would like to ask my hon. colleague from the government side a question. Is there in her riding anything like the AFEAS of Thetford, which is in my riding, a group of women who have flooded their MP with letters asking him or her to call upon the government, more specifically the minister of finance, to backtrack on the issue of calculating family income when women begin to collect the old age pension at 65?

It is common knowledge that women are, unfortunately, the ones who will be penalized when the time comes for them to collect their old age pensions.