House of Commons Hansard #85 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was judges.

Topics

Budget Of Quebec Finance Minister
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, Bernard Landry tabled his budget, a budget that came very close to being balanced but that was very tight, a budget that had no real room to manoeuvre because of the huge cuts imposed by Ottawa on the provinces in the areas of health, welfare and post-secondary education.

Is the Prime Minister not embarrassed that the federal government is literally swimming in money, when the provincial governments are too strapped to ensure adequate delivery of the front-line services for which they are responsible?

Budget Of Quebec Finance Minister
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, there are several provincial governments in Canada. The great majority of them are able to balance their books. They were treated exactly the same as Quebec, but if Quebec had started a little earlier, it would have made it on time.

Budget Of Quebec Finance Minister
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

The Prime Minister is perfectly right. If the Liberals had not left a deficit of $6 billion and had started to work on it earlier, we would now have a budget surplus.

But the Prime Minister should remember that all the provinces feel the way Quebec does about transfer payments.

Does the Prime Minister not find it abhorrent that the federal government overestimated its deficit by $17 billion, and that it is still going ahead and cutting billions from provincial budgets, all the while creating new programs in jurisdictions where it has no business, just for the visibility?

Budget Of Quebec Finance Minister
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member should perhaps ask the PQ government whether it created a Quebec blood agency just for the visibility, thus creating duplication in an area affecting the health of Quebeckers.

I think that we have done our job well here in Ottawa. We have balanced our books. If Quebec has taken a few years longer to do so, it is because Mr. Parizeau wanted to spend the money before the 1995 referendum.

Budget Of Quebec Finance Minister
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, if there is a financial problem in Quebec, it is because Minister Bourbeau, a former Liberal finance minister, left the largest deficit in the history of our province. This is the reality.

The government can make all sorts of excuses, but one fact remains: the federal government is literally rolling in dough, while provincial governments, including those that have balanced their budgets, have difficulties making ends meet.

Does the Prime Minister agree that it is unusual and unhealthy to have in Canada a government—

Budget Of Quebec Finance Minister
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

The Speaker

I am sorry to interrupt the hon. member. The Minister of Finance.

Budget Of Quebec Finance Minister
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member must know that the federal government achieved, with the help of Canadians from across the country, an incredible fiscal turnaround.

However, we still have a debt of $583 billion. We have a debt-GDP ratio of 70%, compared to the provincial average of 30%. We spend 30 cents of every dollar in interest, compared to the provincial average of 14 cents.

That being said, I am very pleased—

Budget Of Quebec Finance Minister
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

The Speaker

I am sorry to interrupt the minister. The hon. member for Roberval.

Budget Of Quebec Finance Minister
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, we can certainly listen to the finance minister's explanations. However, we cannot help but wonder about a federal government that spends in order to increase its visibility, while the provinces are having a hard time providing the basics to people.

Budget Of Quebec Finance Minister
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, since we took office, the value of tax points, for Quebec alone, increased by $2.1 billion, while equalization payments went up by $1 billion.

Lower interest rates in Quebec have also resulted in a windfall of more than $1.4 billion over the past three years.

Hepatitis C
Oral Question Period

April 1st, 1998 / 2:25 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the health minister admitted to excluding 60,000 hepatitis C victims from compensation. That is like turning your back on every man, woman and child in Antigonish and Moose Jaw because it would cost money.

What will it take for the Minister of Health to finally admit that his decision to exclude so many victims was not based on compassion or humanity? Why will he not admit this policy was worked out with a calculator?

Hepatitis C
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, thank goodness we live in a country in which the people who are infected, no matter when they were infected, have a wonderful health care system to rely upon.

For those who were infected during the period 1986 to 1990 all governments have come to grips with the question of when government should compensate those who are harmed by the system.

The hon. member knows that every day in every health care facility there are procedures carried out that involve risk. Is she saying that the public health care system should compensate everybody?

Hepatitis C
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, even Liberal caucus members are now indicating they cannot live with the package. They know that it is not fair or just.

Since the leaders in waiting have botched this compensation package, will the current Prime Minister now do the only just thing and implement Justice Krever's recommendation to compensate all victims with hepatitis C?

Hepatitis C
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I just said that it is a difficult decision. The minister is explaining the situation very well.

We were not the government when that problem occurred. It was before us but We take the responsibility that faces the government.

I say to the leader of the NDP that the two provincial governments that belong to the same party are in complete agreement with what the Minister of Health has done.

Hepatitis C
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Greg Thompson Charlotte, NB

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Health is caught between a rock and a hard place. The hard place is sitting right over there. He is called the Minister of Finance.

The government found $700 million for the botched Pearson airport deal and $500 million for the botched helicopter deal.

Why can this minister not stand in cabinet and come up with some money for these innocent victims, the 40,000 innocent victims of hepatitis C? Why can he not get some answers out of his own government and go in there and fight for these people?