House of Commons Hansard #126 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was tax.

Topics

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Brant
Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, let me again say to the hon. member that my department makes every effort to collect on outstanding debts and money owed to the government.

I can tell the hon. member that in this year's public accounts $547,000 of unrecovered money in grants and contributions are being written off. I note that these files are at least two to five years old.

With regard to the Canada student loans program, we are talking about $294 million. In fact, I need to correct the first number. It is $500,000, but when we are talking about Canada students loans it is $294 million and again—

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Calgary—Nose Hill.

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Diane Ablonczy Calgary—Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, those numbers are good and I am glad the minister actually has them but she did not answer the question.

The question was why the write-offs under her stewardship have risen so dramatically over the last three years, from $50 million to $280 million to $344 million. Where will it end? Is the minister looking after public money or not? She needs to be able to tell Canadians that she is.

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Brant
Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I am very glad to tell the Canadian people that we are looking after public money.

If the hon. member were serious about the issues that she has been raising she would have taken the time to read our second progress report which shows that my department is a very different place now than it was a year ago. We have implemented organizational changes to improve accountability. We have new systems in place that improve our monitoring and assessment of programs. We have hired new staff to help us with project management. And our performance tracking directorate is telling us that we are on track to do what we told the Canadians public we would do.

Women's March
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Caroline St-Hilaire Longueuil, QC

Mr. Speaker, in a few days, women from across Quebec and across Canada will begin marching to express their demands on the subjects of poverty and violence. At the initiative of the Fédération des femmes du Québec, marches will be held in 157 countries.

Could the Minister of Finance tell us today whether we will see specific measures for women, finally, in the mini budget he is preparing in order to dispose of the enormous surplus amassed since the start of the year?

Women's March
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, first let me say there is no doubt this is a very important measure, and we support it 100%.

Next, it may be seen from past budgets that we have always taken the needs of women into account, and we certainly intend to do so in the future.

Women's March
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Caroline St-Hilaire Longueuil, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is clear from the Minister of Finance's response that there is a need for specific measures.

Here are some that women have proposed: increasing international aid to .7% of the GNP; unconditionally transferring to Quebec money intended for parental leave, so it may be universal; and providing the provinces with major funding to develop daycare services.

Could the Minister of Finance tell us what kind of commitment he is prepared to make for the women of Quebec and Canada?

Women's March
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I consider the hon. member to be making representation with her question. It was well put, and we will give it due consideration.

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Reform

Monte Solberg Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, two years ago the government was handing out student loans. Two years ago the government was handing out grants and contributions. The only thing that has changed in the last two years is the minister.

Why is it that in the last two years we have seen her department increase bad debt write-offs by 700% under her leadership?

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Brant
Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, again I point out to the hon. member that the files to which he refers are sometimes six or seven years old and sometimes even older than that. As part of good management we look at the files and determine at what point we write off the debt.

Let me say that on this side of the House we continue to be committed to helping Canadians across the country by ensuring that they can benefit from our new and growing economy. On that side of the House it is absolutely clear that is seen as being a waste. I would ask those members how they face their own constituents who are involved in these programs and benefiting from them when they are calling them a waste.

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Reform

Monte Solberg Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, forgive me for challenging the minister but she does not exactly have a stellar record on these issues. The only thing we can do is refer to the numbers. The numbers do not tell a very good story: from $50 million two years ago in bad debt write-offs to $344 million today. That is a horrible record by anybody's standards, maybe even hers.

How can she justify that type of huge increase in bad debt write-offs under her leadership? She is responsible.

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Brant
Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I think the record will show that I have taken responsibility for the administration of my department. I think the record will show, as will progress reports, as will the voice of the auditor general, that this government takes very seriously accountability and management of taxpayer dollars.

I would encourage the hon. member to look at the facts, to look at the progress reports and to recognize the changes that have occurred in my department, and to give credit where credit is due.

Shipping
Oral Question Period

October 4th, 2000 / 2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Antoine Dubé Lévis, QC

Mr. Speaker, during the 1993 election campaign, the Prime Minister came to the Lévis shipyard and pledged to act quickly to help the marine industry. Seven years later, on the eve of another election campaign, nothing has been done.

What does the Prime Minister have to say to the workers who are here today to hold him accountable?

Shipping
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Ottawa South
Ontario

Liberal

John Manley Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is well aware that the bill is being reviewed by the Standing Committee on Finance.

Also, we have had consultations with interested stakeholders from across the shipbuilding industry, including shipbuilders, shipowners and workers. We have received many suggestions and we can look at them. Let us also not forget that there is an excess capacity of about 40% in that industry. That is the fundamental problem.

Shipping
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Antoine Dubé Lévis, QC

Mr. Speaker, when he is in trouble, the Minister of Industry always resorts to nice rhetoric and endless consultations.

How can the minister reconcile his grand speeches to marine workers with the fact that he, along with other Liberal members, did not support my bill, which essentially seeks to help the marine industry and its workers?