House of Commons Hansard #208 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was crime.

Topics

Income Tax Amendments Act, 1998
Government Orders

11:40 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to)

The House resumed from April 14 consideration of the motion that Bill C-71, an act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in parliament on February 16, 1999, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Budget Implementation Act, 1999
Government Orders

April 15th, 1999 / 11:40 a.m.

Reform

John Williams St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, we seem to be dealing with money all day today. First we had Bill C-72, an act to amend the Income Tax Act. My colleague just talked about how convoluted and complex it was and about how an amendment to the Income Tax Act was long overdue, not to add more convoluted taxes but to try to ensure that it is simple and Canadians understand the basis on which they are taxed.

People now have to sign tax returns and take the word of a professional that what is there is appropriate. They really do not understand the basis on which they are being taxed any more because the rules are so complex.

We now have entered the electronic age. A friend in my constituency, a tax professional who prepares corporate taxes on computer, finds that Revenue Canada requires the taxpayer to sign a statement saying that everything is true and correct. Yet the tax return contains line numbers and dollar amounts and there is no indication of what the dollar amounts are actually representing. However a statement is still at the end that certifying it to be true and correct. It is just a bunch of numbers with nothing on the tax return of any kind. We have to start thinking about the concept of Revenue Canada that says sign our lives away even though everybody knows taxpayers do not know what they are signing.

It will be interesting to hear what the Minister of National Revenue would have to say about that. He should seriously look at it. I wrote to him last week so I will be waiting with bated breath for his response. Maybe not with bated breath because it will take a little time.

Today we are talking about Bill C-71, an act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in parliament on February 16, 1999. It deals with a number of things. One is the trumpeted increase in funds to the Canada health and social transfer. There is no mention here or in government press releases that this is a small replacement of the money that was taken away in a previous parliament by a Liberal government. It states that the minister is authorized to pay $3.5 billion of those funds into a trust fund from which they will be distributed over a three year period beginning April 1, 1999.

The Minister of Finance has started a new concept whereby he takes all the cash and puts it in a trust fund, a separate bank account. Canadians not only cannot understand their tax return but now they are overtaxed, and the overtaxed money is sitting in bank accounts and is not even being used to provide services to them.

The auditor general has been very critical of the government in the past. He qualified the financial statements two years in a row saying that this could not be done. Here is another instance of the government collecting tax money, putting it in a bank account and leaving it there to be distributed over a period of time. First it was $800 million for the centre for innovation where the Minister of Finance wrote the cheque and the money was sitting in a bank account. As far as I am aware it still is sitting in a bank account providing no benefit, no research and no development for the taxpayers.

Last year it was $2.5 billion for the millennium scholarship fund. We put up this money through our taxes and it is now sitting in a bank account. The students are not benefiting from it because it is not going to be distributed until after the millennium.

This type of paying up front by the government has to stop. We have another $3.5 billion to be paid out over a number of years but the cash is sitting in a bank account.

After we add up $3.5 billion, $2.5 billion and $800 million, we see that almost $7 billion is going to get spent after the millennium. This sounds great, but it also happens to be just before the federal election. One wonders if there is a connection with spending this prepaid money just before the election. The Minister of Finance has all these goodies and has been trumpeting about how the government is benefiting Canadians but he is bribing them with their own money.

We can then talk about the $11.5 billion that he will put into health care. On top of that, there is the other $8 billion, which is on top of the $3.5 billion I was just talking about, that will be distributed over a four year period beginning April 1, 2000. It will be a year before we start to spend a penny of that and it will be spent over four years.

This $11.5 billion, that the minister takes great pride about putting back into health care, will be spent starting next year and continue over the subsequent four years. If we take this five year period at $2 billion a year, divided by 10 provinces, we have a few peanuts. This $11.5 billion is not an awful lot. Compared to the $20 billion that he cut out of health care, this is a drop in the bucket in return. That is only one part of the bill.

Another part of the bill deals with the suspension of binding arbitration for the civil servants. We wonder the civil service got a little bit upset at the collective bargaining process. When we take away the right to binding arbitration is it any wonder why the civil service gets a little upset and we have declining moral?

We have a government that does not want to enter into good faith bargaining. It wants to say “We are the big heavy stick. We are the government. We will impose our solution upon you if you are not prepared to bargain to a deal that we are prepared to offer you”. I would suggest this is pretty one-sided.

Why are we going through this farce of union negotiations? The government has made up its mind on how much it is going to offer. We can talk a little bit about it but the civil servants cannot go on strike or to binding arbitration. All we can do is talk about it and make the whole process look good. It is a sham. In the final analysis the government tells them to either take its offer or lump it. How can that lead to good employee moral?

The government is also talking about changes to the pension plan and the way we calculate the benefits. This morning the Minister of Finance tabled a bill in the House which shows that he intends to dip into the excess surplus accrual in the civil service pension plan. This is going to further exacerbate the problems of morale in the union.

Why does the government think it can help itself to all this cash and then stand up and say what a wonderful job it is doing in managing the finances? It is courtesy of the employees. The government is going to help itself to the surplus in their pension plan and the minister will say that he has done a great job in managing the finances.

The other thing is in part 5 where we are granting some bands the opportunity to tax fuel and tobacco. After reading through this it seems to me that natives on the reserves are tax exempt. They do not pay taxes on tobacco, fuel and so on.

It seems to me that we have had some debates over the years on municipalities wanting to tax fuel and things like that because of the high expenditure of maintaining roads. They have never been allowed to do such things, but here we have this creeping concept of granting more and more taxing powers to first nations. I am a little concerned about that because the more taxing powers the first nations have, the more they have to be accountable for that money. First nations today call themselves governments and want to be treated as a government, nut when it comes to the cash, they want to be looked upon as a private corporation and we are to keep our noses out of their finances.

I am aware of at least one band that is paying a member $1,000 a month on a stand-by contract to remove snow. This is fine in the wintertime but I understand this contract goes for 12 months a year. We cannot get this information out on the table. We do not have them being open and transparent with their money, which they have to be.

Budget Implementation Act, 1999
Government Orders

11:50 a.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am glad to have an opportunity to speak to the budget. This is the first chance that I have had to share my point of view on what most Canadians viewed as a huge disappointment.

We all thought that the bad news was over. Stoically, Canadians suffered through years and years of cutbacks. They were being told they could not afford anything even though we are one of the richest and most powerful nations in the world. They were being told they could not afford the basic needs for a family to survive. We were all sold that bill of goods. We were told this over and over again until working Canadians believed it. They really believed and accepted that there was not enough money to go around.

For seven, eight and nine years they suffered through this era of cutbacks, restraint and whatever buzzword the government was using at the time. This year was surplus time. They really thought there was a surplus. They thought they could finally get back to where they were in the pre-cutback era. Even if they were not moving forward, they thought they could at least get back to where they were.

No, there was none of that. They are being told again that we cannot afford the basic needs for a family to survive, such as a national daycare program. How long have we been waiting for a national daycare program? How long has it been recognized as a necessity? To get more people into the workforce we are going to have to provide for those basic needs.

While driving to work in the wintertime in my riding of Winnipeg Centre, two or three times I drove by the same woman standing at a bus stop at 6.30 a.m. on a cold winter morning. The temperature was probably 25-below, as it often is on a winter morning in Winnipeg. This woman was on her way to daycare, I presume, because she had with her a toddler of about 18 months old who was wrapped up in a parka, scarf and mitts. The child could hardly stand because of all the layers of clothing.

I thought to myself that this woman, to her credit, probably has to get up every morning at five to get this child wrapped up because she is standing at a bus stop at 6.30 with her child to go to work. This woman probably has to take the bus all the way across town, drop the child off at daycare and then take the bus back to get to her job. God knows what kind of work she was doing. She looked to be about 22 years old. This really drove home to me what an urgent need there is in this country for adequate, decent, quality child care that is affordable and accessible. No, there is no mention of that.

The basic needs and expectations of families was that maybe this year the bad news was over. Finally, we are in a surplus budget and we will start spending on some priorities that people really care about. No, that simply was not to be.

Everybody knows that the child tax credit does not go to families on welfare, the people who need it most. Our illustrious premiers are clawing it back dollar for dollar.

Yes, the feds are making a gesture in the right direction. However, the program is so flawed that it is not going to wind up in the hands of the people who need it most, the people on social assistance. It is being clawed back. We lose dollar for dollar, at least in our province. It is small consolation.

There are people, like that woman standing at the bus stop, who go from the day's drudgery to the evening's desperation. That is the whole scope of their life. They will take very little solace or comfort in the budget that we saw today.

When I say that the government is finally in a surplus position and could start spending on some priorities, one has to ask how it got there. One way it got there is from the $25 billion it looted out of the EI fund surplus, the overpayment. I will put this into context so people will understand. The surplus in the EI fund is $600 million, a month not a year, above and beyond what it pays out. It is staggering. This again is on the backs of those who can least afford it, the most vulnerable.

Unemployed Canadians are being denied benefits while this huge surplus is burgeoning. This is how the fund has arrived at a surplus. It is not going back. There is no trickle down. The only trickle down in this country for working people, if it is not water that is getting trickled on them, it is something else that is getting trickled on them. It is no beach party to be a working Canadian these days.

How else did the government get this money? How else did it put itself into a surplus? It stole $25 billion from the EI fund. Today the minister had the gall and the audacity to announce that he is going to steal $30 billion from the surplus of the public service pension plan. The man has more gall than Ceasar. It is absolutely atrocious. The same piece of legislation, Bill C-78, also jacks up the premium.

If the plan and the actuarial research was such that the premiums needed to go up to meet the government's obligations, why would it not take it out of the $30 billion surplus that is already in the plan? Why would it raise premiums and still pull out the surplus? Should it not use the surplus to increase the benefits to these people?

Everybody thinks the public service pension plan is such a rich gravy train. In actual fact most of the beneficiaries in the plan are women given the nature of the public sector. The average woman with 20 years service collecting a pension makes $9,600 income from her public service pension plan.

If the government divvied that $30 billion up and gave it to the people who properly own it, it would amount to $30,000 per beneficiary. If we spread that out over our retirement years it may be $4,000 or $5,000 a year more. That would improve the quality of life for our retirees and our senior citizens.

I caution the minister responsible for the Treasury Board that he is going to unleash a sleeping giant. He is going to have a grey hair revolution, a blue rinse revolt. We do not take the senior citizens of this country lightly. We go there at our peril. Ask Brian Mulroney what happened to him when he tried to de-index the pension plan. They drove him to his knees and he had to withdraw.

The same thing is going to happen here. The momentum is already building up. The people are already talking about today's announcement of Bill C-78. My phone has been ringing off the hook. They are asking me if the government can do this, if it can take the surplus from their pension plan. Raising the premiums and pulling $30 billion out is reprehensible. It is going to lose. It is going to pay—

Budget Implementation Act, 1999
Government Orders

11:55 a.m.

Liberal

Tony Valeri Stoney Creek, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order.

I do believe we are talking about Bill C-71. I am sure the hon. member will have ample opportunity to talk about other pieces of legislation when they come to the House. I would ask him to go back to Bill C-71, or am I to assume he is in favour of Bill C-71 since he has not said a word about it?

Budget Implementation Act, 1999
Government Orders

11:55 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

As the parliamentary secretary and all members know, the debate on this particular bill has been wide ranging, but I am sure the point raised by the parliamentary secretary has entered the consciousness of all members present.

Budget Implementation Act, 1999
Government Orders

Noon

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, it may seem that I was off topic, but if the member was actually here and listening to my speech he would know that what I was talking about was how we got into a surplus situation in this country and what the source of revenue was to put us into that surplus, revenue that we should be spending on the basic needs for families to improve their quality of life. That is how we arrived at that. The member would know that if he was actually in the House to listen.

I will talk about Bill C-71. I will talk about the budget for a minute because everybody knows what a charade it is to bribe people with their own money just before an election. It is leading up to an election year.

First the government takes about $8 billion or $9 billion out of the Canada health and social transfer, and then it puts $1.5 billion back and it expects thanks from everybody. We talked about trickle down economics. We are getting trickled on again on that issue. We are getting hosed in that respect. It is not a trickle, it is a flood.

Nobody bought that. That is why Canadians are disappointed. There was an opportunity to correct some of the historic imbalances in our social fabric.

We could use the tax system for the redistribution of wealth. It is one of the most effective tools. In fact I think the parliamentary secretary pointed out in his speech that one of the most effective tools we have to deal with the growing gap between the rich and the poor is a fair taxation system. However, there has been no effort to do that. Instead, the only real reference to taxes has been to give millionaires an $8,000 tax break.

In this budget millionaires now get an $8,000 tax break. The woman standing at the bus stop on the way to her minimum wage job, who does not have adequate day care, is going to take great consolation in that because if we have more millionaires we know that it will trickle down sooner or later. We in the lower classes will get our share. It is a good thing that more people are getting fabulously rich.

The growing gap between the rich and the poor should be the number one concern of this government because the shrinking middle class is a serious problem. Our biggest strength in North America is a burgeoning middle class, a consuming middle class, a middle class that has money and coins in their jeans to buy things. That is disappearing. We are going to have the very rich and we are going to have the very poor, from the day's drudgery to the evening's despair. It is a despair budget.

Budget Implementation Act, 1999
Government Orders

Noon

Reform

Ken Epp Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to rise in the House to represent the electors of Elk Island on this important matter of budget, taxes, debt and spending; all of the things this government just cannot seem to get right.

I was intrigued with the member who just spoke. His remarks certainly underline the fact that the last person considered is the poor, long-suffering, bedraggled taxpayer who is every year dragged to pay his taxes, which are forced from him whether he likes it or not. The total level of taxation in this country is so high that it is really very discouraging.

We have heard a number of different presentations. On the weekend I was at a trade fair at Sherwood Park. I was there all day, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday, and from 3 p.m. until 9 p.m. on Friday. There was an endless stream of people who walked by in probably one of Alberta's, and maybe even Canada's, best trade fairs, which is right in my riding. The people who came by stopped to talk to their member of parliament. The overriding issue that I heard was “When will we ever get rid of this high level of taxation?” People are depressed by it. If the people are depressed, there is no doubt the economy is depressed as well.

The second issue that I hear is that there is waste and mismanagement in the system while our health care system is suffering. I am going to get right to Bill C-71. I know the parliamentary secretary, with all of the other 153 Liberals present in the House, is terribly concerned that the health care system should be fixed.

We will soon vote on Bill C-72, which will implement certain measures of the budget from last year, actually making law the things that citizens are already required to do by the department in filing their taxes this year. That is a digression. I will return to Bill C-71, which is the bill to implement this year's budget.

One of the things that this budget and this bill does is to authorize the payment of some $3.5 billion for last year's budget. There is not a business in this country that could get away with that in terms of trying to get rid of taxes. Canadian taxpayers, individuals, small business people and large businesses should all have the ability to average out over the years. That system has really been eroded. We do not see the Liberal government addressing that question, the question of averaging over the last number of years. However, the government does it, even though the auditor general says it is not permitted. The government has loaded $3.5 billion from this year on to last year's budget so that it does not have to account for the surplus, so it does not have to give Canadian taxpayers the tax cut which they so rightly deserve.

Eventually that money will find its way into the health care system. I suppose if I wanted to search deeply for something to commend this government for I would commend it for this health care budget. Members may be surprised at that. How could I, as a Reformer, commend the government for this?

It is like the day I was being robbed. The guy was beating me with a stick. He went through my wallet and then he beat me up like crazy. In the end I thanked him. He asked why I thanked him and I told him I was grateful because he did not take the $20 that he did not find in my back pocket. That is what the government is doing. It has taken some $21 billion out of the health and social transfer and it is putting a little back, so we are thanking the government for putting a little back. Of course everybody knows it is not anywhere near what it has taken out.

Mr. Speaker, I warn you to pay close attention because you may want to call me on being unparliamentary. I know that I cannot use terms like deliberately deceive. I cannot call members liars. I cannot use any of those words.

Budget Implementation Act, 1999
Government Orders

12:05 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

The hon. member for Elk Island is absolutely correct. The member for Elk Island will not bring in through the back door that which he knows he cannot bring in through the front door.

Budget Implementation Act, 1999
Government Orders

12:05 p.m.

Reform

Ken Epp Elk Island, AB

My apologies, Mr. Speaker. I should not have said those things.

I would like to draw a picture for the House. I was watching not long ago a debate in the United States Congress. One of the nice things is that when members of congress give their speeches they can actually use charts, and they often do. Their speakers go to the front of the chamber, they speak from the podium and beside them they have these big graphs if they are talking about budgets. I wish we could do that here. Having taught mathematics and computing for 31 years, I love the ability to use visuals, because it helps people to understand. However, we cannot use props of any kind here. We cannot display the Canadian flag. We cannot use any props at all. All we can do is gesture with our hands and hopefully communicate in that way.

I will build a graph for hon. members, gesturing with my hands, to show what the Liberal government is communicating to the people versus what the truth is. This is how it is doing it.

When government members brought in this health care budget they said that they should put about $2 billion a year back into the budget. That seemed like a good number. Then somebody in the back room said that in the last five years they had taken out $20 billion and if they put $2 billion back the Canadian people would complain. They would say it is not good enough. Government members had to do better.

One of the gurus in the back row at their meeting said he could solve that by multiplying it by five. However, they did not have that much money to put into the health care budget. According to the guru that did not matter. They would just do it over five years. That way they could multiply it by five and it would be $10 billion instead of $2 billion.

This budget is an annual budget. Every year the Minister of Finance is required by law to stand in this place to declare for Canadians the government's plan of fiscal arrangements for the following year. To enter five years into it is very, very dishonest. It really is. It does not communicate.

I want members to visualize a graph. On the bottom of the graph we have 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2003, for a total of five years.

In 1999 the government is increasing the payments it is making for the health and social transfer. It is putting in $2 billion. The graph is increased by $2 billion from what it would have been if there were no changes.

It has a plan for the next year, which it has no business even talking about it. It has nothing to do with this year's budget. It is a projection for years two, three, four and five to follow. In the next year there is no change at all, but it is still $2 billion above what it would have been if it had not changed it. Then it is being increased by half a billion. In the next year there is no change and in the next year there is no change.

By putting $2 billion a year into the budget for two years and then increasing that by half a billion in the following year, which is the plan, it adds up all of those payments for five years and says they come to $10.5 billion.

What did the press release say? It said that this is a health care budget, that it will put $10.5 billion into health care. That is garbage. I cannot use that word. It is not accurate. Can I say that? It is not accurate. It is garbage. It is a miscommunication. It tells Canadians “We are doing this” when in fact they are doing that. It is a deceptive way of communicating with the Canadian people.

Part of Bill C-71 concerns the implementation of the money. The government wants everybody to believe that it is doing so great and that it is so wonderful. It just ain't so.

Budget Implementation Act, 1999
Government Orders

12:10 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Elsie Wayne Saint John, NB

Mr. Speaker, there are a number of issues that need to be addressed. No matter who sits in parliament and who sits on the government side, at this time in the history of the country it is very important that the right things be done. It is time that the government stop to take a look at itself and at Canada as a whole to see exactly how its policies have affected certain regions of Canada.

I am talking about my part of Canada, about the maritime provinces and Newfoundland. It is time that it sat down to take a look.

There are over 100 members from Ontario, some of whom have no interest whatsoever in what is happening in other regions of Canada. Decisions are being made that have real negative impacts on other regions.

I think back to the red book. I will never forget the red book when the Liberals were running. They were saying how they were going to abolish the GST. We all know that the GST is still there.

They were going to abolish the GST. They came into the maritime provinces and what did they do with the GST? It was turned into the HST and now there are moms and dads who have to pay more taxes on more items than ever before. A lot of those parents are living in poverty. They cannot afford to pay taxes on the diapers for their little ones. They did not have to before when we had the GST, but they have to now. For all the needs of those little children they are finding it extremely hard, they truly are.

When I attended the public accounts meeting the auditor general said that the government was not doing proper accounting. He did not just say it once. He told it year after year that it had to change what it was doing.

The government is telling us how wonderful everything is. The hon. member who just spoke referred to health care. He is absolutely correct. Having had a loved one who was just in the hospital and knowing how the nurses with so many cutbacks are working so hard, I ask myself what we are doing. The government talks about putting the money back into health care. In the next five years we will not have as much money put back into health care as the Liberals took out of health care since they came to power.

Then I look at the shipbuilding industry. The government and all of us want people to pay taxes. People want their dignity and they want to pay taxes. The only way they can do that is when they are working.

Just the week before last week in the city of Saint John a group of business people came from Louisiana, U.S.A. They were looking for people who could do shipbuilding. They said that Saint John, New Brunswick had the most qualified people in shipbuilding anywhere in the world. They offered 200 jobs and the men are going to have to go.

Why are they going to have to go to the United States? Because this government absolutely refuses to bring in a national shipbuilding policy for us to compete around the world on contracts. We could put 12,000 people to work in shipbuilding from British Columbia to Newfoundland. There would be spin-off effects for the economy in all regions of Canada. Companies would have to produce the parts. It would put other manufacturers back to work as well.

We are talking of over 200,000 people. They would all pay taxes. It would make it easier for the government to have a better budget. It would make it easier for all of us to have a better living.

I do not know if any of my colleagues on the government side have had little children come into their constituency office, as I have. A little girl came to me two weeks ago with tears in her eyes to tell me that she had to leave. I said, “Where are you going, darling?” She said, “We have to move to the United States because there is no work for us here. I have to leave my nanny and my grampy and all my cousins. But that is the only place daddy can get work”.

I do not know what has happened to us in Canada. I really do not. I look at my colleagues and the government ministers and I find they are not compassionate any more. We have an opportunity to bring dignity back to the lives of Canadians but we can only do that when the government is going to listen.

In the House this week people from my party and other parties were talking about Newfoundland and the fishery. I do not know, Mr. Speaker, if you have been to Newfoundland but it is a beautiful place and the people are wonderful. To tell all of them they have to go to the United States is hard to take.

It is time for the Liberals to sit down. It is time for them to look at my community which has lost over 10,000 people since the Liberals came to power. It is because of their programs. It is because of their budgets. It is because of what they have adopted as their policies. It has just about killed the Atlantic region, Newfoundland and Quebec as well. I am really upset.

Quebec is a shipbuilding province. Quebec also wants to put its people back to work. Just this past week we had the world curling championships in Saint John. I had people from all across the country, people from Saskatchewan, people from B.C. coming to talk to me. They said, “Please, get someone on the government side to listen”. This is a most serious situation.

I listen to what the government members tell me. They say that the only jobs they have created are through free trade and NAFTA. Where did free trade and NAFTA come from? It certainly was not from the Liberals. No, sir. It came right from the PC party. I have to tell those who are working that it came from those policies, not the Liberals' policies.

When it comes to shipbuilding I am begging the Prime Minister to intercede. I am begging him to take a stand. I am begging him to tell his Minister of Industry that it is time for him to listen.

Something happened today in our local Telegraph Journal that has never happened before. The premier of the province who is a Liberal, Camille Thériault, was condemning the minister for not meeting with the union boys who came up here. The minister wanted to meet with them. The mayor wanted to meet with them. He will not even talk to them. He will not even meet with them.

I do not want to be negative. I want to be positive. I am happy to say when the government does something right.

We will continue to fight for our people. We will continue to fight for them until we get a policy that puts them back to work and they have their dignity and they can feed, clothe and educate their children, but they cannot do it with the budgets and policies brought in by this government.

Budget Implementation Act, 1999
Government Orders

12:20 p.m.

Reform

Gerry Ritz Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

Mr. Speaker, it is certainly budget day here on the Hill.

Less than an hour ago we were discussing last year's budget and the dollars that have been pre-booked into this year. It is kind of like closing the chicken coop after the fox has already been there. We have less than two weeks in this fiscal year as far as Revenue Canada is concerned to implement the additions and complications that were added to Revenue Canada from last year's budget. People are already filling out their tax forms under those rules and regulations and we have not even passed them in this House yet. It kind of makes us wonder why we are here.

As to this year's budget, it is Bill C-71, an act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled on February 16, 1999. However, thanks to the way this finance minister has taken to spinning these books, we actually end up talking about money spent last year, this year and into the future, and other money Canadians will not see for two, three or five years.

It is too bad that while the Liberals are bragging about how well they listen to Canadians in their across Canada tours, the public does not seem terribly interested in keeping tabs on where their tax dollars go. They know they go to Ottawa and then they just disappear.

This system of prebudget and post-legislating has become so convoluted and complex that average Canadians do not have a hope of unravelling it before the next election. Unfortunately it may take a slowdown in the global economy to accomplish this unravelling and really bring out the problems, but by then we will all be struggling to survive the past six years of so-called Liberal prudence.

I will refer to some specifics of this myth of prudence. We all know that in theory the finance minister is only projecting two years into the future with each budget. The problem is that some of his spending is still tripping out of the treasury five years from now, the so-called health care budget.

We have seen the millennium scholarship fund from last year get deducted from the 1998 budget as a $2.5 billion forwarded expense. No one else in Canada can have that option. We are not allowed to forward budget like that. It may have helped to alleviate some of the problems on Canadian farms if they were allowed to do that. It is not $2.5 billion in reality. It is a series of charges handed out from the year 2000 and on that will only go to a handful of Canadians, in the face of opposition from Quebec and other provinces and most of the student groups we listened to.

It is not wanted out there and it is not needed since there are hundreds of scholarships and bursaries already out there from the private sector and other places. Why not top these up at a charge of $350 million per year only in the year the expense occurs? Why do we have to forward it into more and more years and book that $2.5 billion out of the so-called surplus? I guess no one else can get their fingers on it that way.

It is not prudent to give away taxpayers' money against their wishes in a way that brings disrepute on the nation's finances. So much for listening to Canadians. Do not for once think that financial experts from around the world are not looking over the shoulder of this government. We see that in our stock market rises and falls.

There have been compliments for Canada's sacrifices to get back on a balanced budget. That strong economy and those sacrifices belong to the Canadian taxpayer, not to this Liberal government. It may take the credit but it did not do the job. The minister has rightfully thanked the taxpayer for doing some of that but not all.

There is obviously a deep-seated nervousness about where the Liberals will go with this large gift of money that has been handed to them. The dollar reflects this. It is positively anemic. International organizations continue to warn us that our productivity, that great buzzword we are hearing kicked about, and our technological expertise are slipping badly.

Canadians who require years of training at public expense head for greener pastures because the government is too busy having a wild spending spree and thinking ahead as to what it can spend that found money on. The government is too busy to notice that the money it is throwing out the window has to be generated by its taxpaying citizens and businesses in the first place. So much for listening to Canadians.

I would like to remind the House what Dr. Prudence prescribed for this country in 1997. The projection for 1998-99 was for revenues of $144 billion. The next year it was revised upward to $151 billion, found cash. Now we are led to believe that in fact it may exceed $156 billion; just missed the target by $12 billion, luckily to the plus side.

Those extra dollars were generated by Canadians. Where do they end up? Back in the hands of the original owners? No, not a chance. The Liberal government finds ways to spend it faster and faster. When the government discovered that its so-called prudent projections were out of whack, it does not announce a more prudent retirement of the debt and it does not announce a more prudent reduction in how much of taxpayers' money it will skim off. Instead the government announces it will prudently spend everything it has and more.

In an article in the February 24 Financial Post William Watson directs our attention to table 3.4 on page 57 of the budget documents. This trained and respected economist says that before 1998 drew to a close, the government had $11.7 billion of extra taxpayers' money it had not spent yet. Great idea. What are we going to do with it now? Typically it lists a series of items that magically added up to $11.7 billion and declared a balance. Great accounting. Mr. Watson called it disgusting and I am inclined to agree with him.

The lesson we learned from this is simple. Given money, the Liberals will spend it for us. It would never occur to them to let Canadians keep it in the first place. The Liberals have another trick that they hope nobody will ever catch on to. They have a habit of making virtue out of vice and spinning themselves as the heroes of fiscal prudence.

Originally the government cut $21 billion out of social transfers over the last five years. Now the government is talking about putting $11.5 billion back into health care. Billions. Big numbers. Let us break that down. As my esteemed colleague from Elk Island pointed out, if we divide that amount by the five years it covers, we end up with a lot lower number, $2.5 billion. That hardly makes a dent. It is the same cost as the millennium scholarship fund going back to a health care system that is in crisis across the country.

I had a discussion with Dr. Hal Baldwin from Saskatoon a short time ago. He is the treasurer of the Canadian Medical Association. He said that it is not just money that was ripped out of health care across this country, the heart and soul was taken out as well. We have not just taken the money out, we have taken the care out of health care.

These people are working handcuffed. The nurses association is on strike right now in Saskatchewan. It is not just money they are talking about. Their hands are tied when it comes to caring for people, really caring, and putting that back into health care.

We have a $900 million farm aid package that is supposed to impact my province of Saskatchewan. It has had years and years of drought situations and people with no net income for three and four years. Do these people qualify for any of this aid? Not on your life. There is no part in the equation for a zero, zero, zero balance. That is unfortunate.

The minister of agriculture was asked the other day by my colleague from Selkirk—Interlake how many applications the department had received and how much money had actually gone out of this $900 million. The minister talked about 11,000 applications being mailed into Saskatchewan. Well that is notable but there are almost 60,000 farmers in Saskatchewan. We have less than one-fifth who have actually applied because they know they do not qualify. They have a little off farm income and some custom work. They have some livestock.

This program really goes nowhere. It is a great PR exercise but it is just like the whole budget. It is all puff and mirrors. There is no substance here at all.

Budget Implementation Act, 1999
Government Orders

12:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

Is the House ready for the question?

Budget Implementation Act, 1999
Government Orders

12:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Question.

Budget Implementation Act, 1999
Government Orders

12:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

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