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

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I am pleased to present a petition on behalf of a number of Canadians, including those from my own riding of Mississauga South, on the subject of human rights.

The petitioners would like to draw to the attention of the House that human rights abuses continue to be rampant around the world in a number of countries such as Indonesia and Kosovo. They also acknowledge that Canada continues to be recognized as a champion of human rights internationally.

Therefore, they call on the Government of Canada to continue to speak out against human rights abuses and to seek to bring to justice those responsible for such abuses.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Nelson Riis Kamloops, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to stand, pursuant to Standing Order 36, to present a petition on behalf of a number of residents throughout British Columbia.

While they do not really say, I suspect they are really distressed that the signing of international trade agreements, like the North American Free Trade Agreement, limits the ability of parliaments to pass legislation to protect the environment and the health of Canadians.

The petitioners are distressed and are presumably asking the government to rethink some of the provisions of these trade agreements.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I know that the hon. member would seek to comply with the rules in every respect and just give a brief summary of the petition rather than a discourse on the implications.

Questions Passed As Orders For Returns
Routine Proceedings

April 15th, 1999 / 10:15 a.m.

Peterborough
Ontario

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, if Questions Nos. 142 and 149 could be made orders for return, these returns would be tabled immediately.

Questions Passed As Orders For Returns
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is that agreed?

Questions Passed As Orders For Returns
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed. .[Text]

Question No. 142—

Questions Passed As Orders For Returns
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Reform

Bill Gilmour Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

With respect to the Sydney Tar Ponds in Sydney, Nova Scotia, could the government provide a concise breakdown of: ( a ) how much money has the federal government spent on the Sydney Tar Ponds since 1982; ( b ) what projects have been federally funded and for how much; ( c ) which companies have received federal contracts and for how much; ( d ) will the government table all reports and studies conducted on the Sydney Tar Ponds?

Return tabled.

Question No. 149—

Questions Passed As Orders For Returns
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Reform

Rahim Jaffer Edmonton—Strathcona, AB

For each of the following, the Business Development Bank of Canada, Cape Breton Development Corporation and Entreprise Cape Breton, please provide the following for each fiscal year from 1993-94 to 1996- 97: ( a ) number of people on the Board of Directors; ( b ) how each Director was remunerated; ( c ) the total remuneration for each Director; ( d ) number of employees; and ( e ) average and median salary for all employees?

Return tabled.

Questions Passed As Orders For Returns
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, I suggest that all remaining questions be allowed to stand.

Questions Passed As Orders For Returns
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

The Speaker

Is that agreed?

Questions Passed As Orders For Returns
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed from March 18 consideration of the motion that Bill C-72, an act to amend the Income Tax Act, to implement measures that are consequential on changes to the Canada-U.S. Tax Convention (1980) and to amend the Income Tax Conventions Interpretation Act, the Old Age Security Act, the War Veterans Allowance Act and certain other acts related to the Income Tax Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee; and of the amendment.

Income Tax Amendments Act, 1998
Government Orders

10:15 a.m.

Reform

Roy H. Bailey Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to have this opportunity to talk about this bill and about this subject. If there is one branch of the department Canadians have learned to hate it is this branch.

We have some definite objections about Bill C-72. It does not address that two-income families qualify for child care and so on.

I will go to a specific example I have had in the past few years, particularly one this spring. I am sure every member of parliament deals with the Department of National Revenue in an attempt to help their constituents. I would suggest to that department, as it brings in new legislation, that it follow some examples of the treatment of its clients, the citizens of Canada, with a touch more humanity.

Let me give members a striking example of a case I am working on which I think is a disgrace. I know a young woman who is presently raising two children. She works at a full time job but because she has been deserted by her husband she also works part time on the weekends. I bring this case to the attention of all members because I am talking about the treatment of people. We can do all we like in legislation to write something down, but to practice it is a different thing.

This young lady has not seen her husband for three years. Revenue Canada finally—and I give it credit—caught up with her husband and was able get her the child support that she should have received for three years. It then sent her a cheque for $11,500. At the same time, she is being assessed by the Department of National Revenue as owing $5,500 in income tax. Not only is that dehumanizing, but this mother is struggling to raise a 16 year old and a 12 year old and does not have $5,500.

There is something wrong with a system that employs some 40,000 to 45,000 people, who can be rigid and efficient in tax collection, but surely they could be a little more humanistic when it comes to dealing with people. The people who are calling Revenue Canada and signing these letters are human beings and deserve to be treated as such.

I realize that the Department of National Revenue does deal with money and it is going to have agitations. However, I beg that when we get into this bill that we should play fair with people. I am sure each one of us in our history have had some grips with income tax. I am sure everybody has. I can pick out a dozen examples over the last two years where people have been treated as numbers. Quite frankly, even when the department is aware of the individual's circumstances it ignores them. This is not right for the Government of Canada.

I wrote a letter this morning to this young lady stating that I would do my very best to see that she does not have to borrow money to pay the federal government this additional $5,500. This support money was to have been spread over three years so this $5,500 should have been considerably less. This is not the only case I have to deal with. I have 12 other cases on file. I am not just citing one example.

I could stand here until midnight tonight citing examples that sometimes take a year before national revenue realizes it has erred. I have never seen a letter of apology from Revenue Canada but I have from other departments. There is never a thank you. Many of these people, out of sheer determination, go after the Department of National Revenue and pay their own legal costs. These costs, however, should be borne by the government as it was national revenue that fumbled around on these issues.

I have advice for dealing with Bill C-72. If there was ever a department that needed to become familiar with how to deal with people in a professional way it is this one. We can be strict or severe. We can be almost anything if we do it professionally, but there are too many people out there who do not deal with the constituents of Canada in a professional manner. The department says it cannot do this because it deals with money. Well I say it can.

For this young lady, this mother of two, and no doubt hundreds of others in Canada, let us humanize this department. Let us try to understand and ensure that the department has the staff to do it.

I am very delighted to speak to this bill because nothing churns me and makes me more irate than to have to counsel and try to help a constituent when I cannot get a response from this particular department.

I really hope all of Canada is listening to this. I want them to get after their MP, not just on this side of the House but on that side of the House, to humanize this department.

Income Tax Amendments Act, 1998
Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

NDP

Nelson Riis Kamloops, BC

Mr. Speaker, I certainly agree with the point my hon. friend makes. I suspect we have all had similar experiences, too many of them.

He referred regularly to the department and to the officials as not being prepared to bend or to be more humanistic and so on. Would he not agree that the responsibility for this law that he refers to, regarding the payment of moneys destined to assist children, is not a bureaucrat's decision or the department's decision but a political decision taken by the political leaders in government? If people have concerns about the Income Tax Act they ought not take them out on an official. They are just carrying out the law that has been introduced by the Liberal government, by the cabinet and by the Prime Minister.

Could he clarify this? He seems to be antagonistic about somebody, but surely it is not the bureaucrat. It must be the people who actually make the laws not the ones who carry them out.

Income Tax Amendments Act, 1998
Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

Reform

Roy H. Bailey Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, the member is quite right. The Income Tax Act is part of the government. However, the carrying out of the act belongs to the officials. Sometimes it does not get back to the department. I was referring to the fact that sometimes the officials make their pronouncements and judgments incorrectly.

In response to the hon. member's question, if the government was really concerned about these low income people, to which I referred, it would take a look now at the exemptions and raise them so that the people who are struggling could get by without having to pay nearly as much income tax. That is part of our problem.

I read in the paper this morning and heard on the radio that actual income has dropped. The actual income for the people who I mentioned in my speech has dropped even more because they are at the low end of the scale.

Yes, my colleague from the NDP, this is the government's legislation, but those who work in that department should become a little more familiar with each case and deal with it accordingly.