House of Commons Hansard #186 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was first.

Topics

Taxation
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Windsor West
Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray Deputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we want to treat everybody fairly. This is the basis for our budgets.

I want to ask the hon. finance critic for the Reform Party, why is it when he asked the question the last day we sat before the week's break, in the preamble to his question he in effect said that the Liberal tax policy was so good that the Liberals would still be in power in the year 2019? That is in fact what he said a week ago Friday.

Employment Insurance Fund
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, in an interview with the Journal de Montréal early last week, the Minister of Human Resources Development stated as follows in connection with the employment insurance fund surplus, “To be honest, it has been spent—. Is this appropriate?”

How can the government pretend there is still a surplus in the employment insurance fund as a buffer against a hypothetical recession, when the money has been spent? What is going to happen if we come upon hard times?

Employment Insurance Fund
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis
Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, this is a most interesting hypothetical question. I believe that, if our government continues to provide the country with the same interesting and creative direction, that hypothesis will not come to pass.

What I can say is this: job creation is so much of a priority for us that I can assure the House we insist on maintaining the drop in unemployment we have had for the past five years. Our unemployment level is now 7.8%. We have excellent programs which are proof that our general economic policy is working very well.

Employment Insurance Fund
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, what is not hypothetical is that the $25 billion surplus has been spent. Now they are prophesying that there will never be another recession on this planet. That is a good one.

The minister also said “I believe we must have a discussion and a societal debate on the use of these funds”.

Will the minister admit it would have been more intelligent to have that societal debate before spending the $25 billion surplus, as the Bloc proposed? Has the minister just wakened up?

Employment Insurance Fund
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis
Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, one thing is perfectly clear to us, the Bloc Quebecois is far more comfortable with deficits than with surpluses.

When there were deficits, they lacked imagination, for deficits were, of course, of no interest to them, for the Bloc Quebecois is capable of creating deficits. Now we have a surplus to contend with.

Since 1986, we have respected the wishes of the auditor general for the two accounts to be part of the Canadian government's consolidated fund. We are now managing the surplus as we had in the past to manage the deficit.

Employment Insurance Fund
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Human Resources Development has finally admitted that the federal government spent the EI surplus. The surplus no longer exists, his colleague the Minister of Finance having dipped into it.

Is the Minister of Human Resources Development not ashamed that he let the Minister of Finance get his hands on the $20 billion EI fund and did not even stand up for unemployed workers?

Employment Insurance Fund
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis
Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I find it a bit surprising that the Bloc Quebecois has only just clued in.

The EI fund has been part of the Canadian government's consolidated revenue fund since 1986. This has been the case for 13 years straight, whether there was a deficit or a surplus.

However, I would have thought that they would have toned down their language in light of recent political events.

I am not ashamed of what this government has done. No, I am not ashamed of the funding in the finance minister's budget for a youth employment strategy to help young people into the job market and a Canada jobs fund for job creation.

Employment Insurance Fund
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, does the minister realize that entrepreneurs, workers and the unemployed are right not to trust him, and will he admit that the only solution lies in creating an independent EI fund run by those who pay into it?

Employment Insurance Fund
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis
Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, now there is an interesting suggestion. This is the system the French have adopted. France's fund is independent. When there were deficits in Canada, the Bloc Quebecois did not push for an independent fund.

I am merely pointing out that now the Bloc Quebecois is singing a different tune. There is an interesting evolution in its thinking, as it begins to wonder how sovereignty will work in a context of globalization.

We wish it all the best in their evolution. It might actually end up understanding our government's economic policy.

Homelessness
Oral Question Period

March 1st, 1999 / 2:25 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister refuses to recognize the human horror of homelessness. Last week I saw it firsthand, people living in conditions not fit for humans, 90 people sleeping shoulder to shoulder in one room, sharing one shower, pleading with the Prime Minister. What were they saying? “We are desperate. We are dying”.

How many people will have to die before the Prime Minister recognizes the horror of homelessness?

Homelessness
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Windsor West
Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray Deputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we recognize the problem. For us it is more important to do something tangible than just look for photo ops. We went out last December and announced an additional $50 million for this fiscal year for housing renewal and rehabilitation aimed at low income Canadians and the homeless.

This new funding is on top of the $250 million we announced last year to support residential housing renewal programs over five years. This is more important than photo ops. This is something tangible to really help the homeless. That is what counts.

Homelessness
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, they are not doing anything to help the homeless.

Homelessness is all around us. This weekend a pregnant woman died of exposure within sight of Parliament Hill. The recent budget had lots for Canadians with two or three homes, but nothing for those with no address at all.

When will this government do anything to solve the crisis of homelessness?

Homelessness
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel
Québec

Liberal

Alfonso Gagliano Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, we are concerned with the problem. We are working with some provincial governments. Some provincial governments are not working with us. For example, perhaps the NDP leader should talk to the NDP government in British Columbia which does not participate in the RRAP program. If the Government of British Columbia participated in the RRAP program, it would have more money for the homeless.

In the meantime, last year we created 2,800 affordable units and this year we expect to have 3,000. Also, $12 million from RRAP will be targeted for—

Homelessness
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough.

Airbus
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, the RCMP investigation into the Airbus affair has cost Canadian taxpayers nearly $4 million and counting. Despite the fact that investigators have absolutely no evidence to justify chasing these false allegations, they have stepped up their efforts. This amounts to a vindictive and politically motivated pursuit of a former Prime Minister.

In light of this ongoing embarrassment for this Liberal government, when will the solicitor general stop wasting taxpayers' money and call off his Liberal posse?