House of Commons Hansard #47 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was housing.

Topics

Starred Questions
Routine Proceedings

12:35 p.m.

Scarborough—Rouge River
Ontario

Liberal

Derek Lee Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

(a) The original estimated operational lifespan of the Sea King was 15,000 hrs or 25 years, 1988.

(b) The current lifespan of the Sea King has recently been extended to 2005. The aircraft with the most flying hours totals 12,011 hours. The average flying hours for the fleet is approximately 10,511.

(c) The following measures are being taken to extend the operational life of the Sea King:

i. Center Section Repair: This involves replacement of the Main lift frames of the helicopter required as a result of fatigue cracking. Repairs to 19 of the 30 aircraft have already been completed. The replacement of the main lift frames for the remainder of the fleet should be completed by may 2002. Each replacement is performed concurrent with the ongoing third line repair and overhaul contract.

ii. T-58-100 Engine Upgrade: This involves replacing components of the T-58-8F model engine that are no longer available with parts that are more readily available and in widespread commercial use. The upgrade, which also provides more engine power, is performed concurrent with the ongoing third line repair and overhaul contract. Five of 30 aircraft have been fitted with the upgraded engine; upgrades on the remaining aircraft in the fleet are to be completed by May 2002.

iii. T-58 Engine No. 4 Bearing Housing: This involves replacing the current bearing housing as the part is no longer available. This replacement started in 1997 concurrent with the ongoing third line repair and overhaul contract.

iv. Main Gearbox Upgrade: This involves upgrading the main gearbox with more durable internal components and an improved lubrication system, required as a result of flight safety concerns—such as incidents where the gearbox overheated—and the T-58-100 engine upgrade. One of 30 aircraft has been modified with the modification of the remaining aircraft in the fleet to commence in January 2000, to be completed by July 2002.

v. ASN-123 Tactical Navigation System Replacement: This involves replacing the obsolete ANS-501 TACNAV computer with the ASN-123 TACNAV, which is a more modern system. The replacement started in 1997, concurrent with the existing second line periodic inspection effort, at 12 Wing, CFB Shearwater.

vi. DC Power Upgrade: This involves either replacing the transformer rectifier units with solid state devices that are more compatible with some of the more modern avionics recently installed or using in-line-noise suppression filters to clean up the aircraft power. Both options are currently under review. Prototype design and installation should occur in fiscal year 1999-2000, with modifications on the remainder of the fleet to commence in fiscal year 2000-2001.

vii. Emergency Inverter Replacement: Repair parts for the inverter that is currently being used are becoming increasingly difficult to purchase. Prototype design and installation will occur in fiscal year 1999-2000, with replacement on the fleet to commence in fiscal year 2000-2001.

(d) i. & ii. Radius of Action and Endurance: In an anti-submarine warfare configuration, 2 hours 15 minutes, plus 30 minute reserve, and in a surveillance configuration, 2 hours 52 minutes, plus 30 minute reserve.

iii. Flight in Icing: No capability.

iv. Weapons Stations: Two external stations, each capable of one MARK 46 torpedo.

v. MAD—Magnetic Anomaly Detection: Seven of 30 aircraft fitted—CH124B model and operational test and evaluation aircraft.

vi. Data Recording: No mission data recording capability: Commercial video cassette recorder, VCR, available for recording forward looking infra red, FLIR, data.

vii. EMP/TREE—Electro-Magnetic Pulse/Transient Radiation Electrical Effects: No capability.

viii. Aircraft Self-protection Suite: Not fitted. Prototype system fitted and tested in one aircraft. Prototype requires additional engineering.

ix. Sonobuoy relay: One channel 5 minute transmit per 15 minute wait—limitation is high frequency, HF, radio duty cycle.

*Question No. 14—

Starred Questions
Routine Proceedings

12:35 p.m.

Reform

Jim Hart Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

What were the operational capabilities in the statement of requirements for the cancelled EH-101 helicopter in the following areas: (i) radius of action, (ii) endurance, (iii) flight in icing, (iv) weapons stations, (v) MAD, (vi) data recording, (vii) EMP/TREE, (viii) aircraft self-protection suite and (ix) sonobuoy relay?

Starred Questions
Routine Proceedings

12:35 p.m.

Scarborough—Rouge River
Ontario

Liberal

Derek Lee Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

(i) Radius of Action:

—Sub-surface surveillance: 100 nautical mile transit, 1.5 hours on station, 30 minute attack, 100 nautical mile transit, 30 minute fuel reserve;

—Surface surveillance: 40 nautical mile transit, 4 hours on station, 40 nautical mile transit, 20 minute fuel reserve.

(ii) Endurance:

—Sub-surface surveillance: 4 hours 10 minutes—3 hours 40 minutes, plus 30 minute safety reserve;

—Surface surveillance: 5 hours 10 minutes—4 hours 40 minutes plus 30 minute safety reserve).

(iii) Flight in icing: Equipment required to permit continuous flight operations in icing conditions at pressure altitudes up to and including 10,000 ft.

(iv) Weapons Stations: Two external 1,500 lb. weapon stations, each capable of carrying one MARK 46 torpedo or next generation weapon.

(v) MAD—Magnectic Anomaly Detection: Essential.

(vi) Data recording: Aircraft must have equipment that is capable of recording passive and active acoustics, forward looking infra red, FLIR, electronic warfare, communications and mission data, and must be equipped with cockpit voice recorder/flight data recorder, CVR/FDR.

(vii) EMP/TREE—Electro-Magnetic Pulse/Transient Radiation Electrical Effects. Essential that aircraft have the capability to continue operations after being subjected to EMP and TREE.

(viii) Aircraft Self-protection Suite: Essential that an electronic warfare sub-system and self-protection countermeasures are provided.

(ix) Sonobuoy Relay: Essential that a single channel sono-relay capability be provided.

*Question No. 58—

Starred Questions
Routine Proceedings

12:35 p.m.

Reform

Jim Pankiw Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

With regard to the $1.5 billion in assistance that the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food pledged to farmers under the agricultural income disaster assistance program, AIDA, what has the government determined to be the amount paid out to Saskatchewan farmers as of November 30, 1999?

Starred Questions
Routine Proceedings

12:35 p.m.

Scarborough—Rouge River
Ontario

Liberal

Derek Lee Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the Hourse of Commons

As of December 1, 1999, $100,717,300 had been paid out to Saskatchewan farmers.

Starred Questions
Routine Proceedings

12:35 p.m.

Liberal

Derek Lee Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, I ask that the remaining questions be allowed to stand.

Starred Questions
Routine Proceedings

12:35 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is it agreed?

Starred Questions
Routine Proceedings

12:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed consideration of Bill C-10, an act to amend the Municipal Grants Act, as reported (with amendments) from the committee; and of the motions in Group No. 1.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

12:35 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Mercier Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Ottawa government has finally put before the House of Commons Bill C-10, respecting payments in lieu of taxes.

The need for such legislation has been obvious for years, and the issue has been studied several times over the last five years. However, the wheels of government, as we know, grind exceedingly slow when it is not seeking to encroach upon the rights of provinces, as in the case of the so-called clarity bill.

In this case, of course, the government moved quickly, even to the point of imposing closure, as it did yesterday. But better late than never. The Minister of Public Works and Government Services has finally recognized the need to legislate, and I quote from clause 2.1 “to provide for the fair and equitable administration of payments in lieu of taxes”.

For 50 years, the federal government, as everyone knows, has been making payments in lieu of property taxes to municipalities with regard to federal properties.

Except for some reservations, which are reflected in our amendments, we consider Bill C-10 to be an improvement over the existing Municipal Grants Act.

Under the new act and regulations, crown corporations will have to pay interest on arrears and supplementary payments just like departments. Crown corporations will also have to make payments when their tenants do not fulfil their obligations. This is obviously a step forward.

Currently, the municipalities' finances are in order. The same would be true of higher levels of government if the rule the municipalities must abide by had been followed, a rule that every head of household knows very well: Never borrow money to buy groceries.

However, the drastic cuts in transfers to the provinces by the federal government have had compelled Quebec to share the financial consequences with the municipalities, in addition to putting the health care and education systems in jeopardy.

Therefore, payments in lieu of taxes made by the federal government represent a greater share than ever of revenue in many municipalities, including the six cities in my riding.

Of course, Bill C-10 does not go as far as to force Ottawa to make payments in lieu of taxes to cities and villages on the basis of the municipal evaluation rolls, as is the case for all the taxpayers. That would be asking too much. Rather, the real progress achieved in this bill is the extension of the type of structures covered by these grants and the reduced arbitrariness in the determination of amounts to be paid.

Our amendments are designed to improve the law and, since they are based on common sense, I am confident all my colleagues will approve them. Some were mentioned this morning by my colleague, the member for Saint-Jean. Among the other amendments that were tabled, one aims at defining more accurately certain terms which, because of their ambiguity, might be open to dispute when the legislation is implemented.

We are also asking for a statutory review of the law on a regular basis. This review is important because it will allow us to follow up and make appropriate changes. With this review, the municipalities will also be able to express their views clearly and directly.

In conclusion, the bill before us is good, and it will be made even better by our amendments. We are living and will increasingly be living in a universe where the globalisation of the economy and the levelling of cultures will threaten the individual in his heartfelt sentiment of belonging to his community.

After his family, his municipality is the community with which he has the closest ties. I am thinking here mostly of the cities in my riding, which are large enough to provide their citizens with all the services they need and, at the same time, small enough to maintain warm human relations instead of seeing them lost and diluted because of high numbers.

But this community must have sufficient resources, and that the buildings owned by the two levels of government actually not pay the full cost of the utilities provided to them, the same services provided to the residents, that is security, water, roads, and so on.

With Bill C-10, the federal government is encouraged to take on a fair share of those expenses. Our party will vote in favour of this bill and do everything it can to see that it is implemented as soon as possible.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

12:40 p.m.

Reform

Derrek Konrad Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, I would like to make a couple of comments on the way the bill is being administered. Everyone in the House basically agrees that it should go ahead and that the bill has merit. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities, even though it has some concerns, is in favour of seeing the bill go ahead, but the government has not invoked time allocation as it has done close to 60 times when anyone wanted to talk about something that it did not agree with.

I commend my colleague, the critic for this department, on his work on Bill C-10. The bill is highly technical. I congratulate him on his analysis and on the amendments he has proposed which have been designed primarily to increase ministerial accountability. Given what has gone on in the House in the last week, ministerial accountability is a virtue sadly lacking in some departments, in particular HRDC.

Grants seem to be a feature of life where the government is concerned. When granting procedures are as unstructured as they seem to be in HRDC—and they are certainly not mentioned in law—and a program is put together to please someone, there is political pressure, allegations of corruption, favouritism and those kinds of things. I feel the bill goes a long way toward addressing some of those concerns.

We would not want the industry minister, for instance, to make decisions without guidelines when he is handing over taxpayer money. He had in his mind that he would turn over about $20 million of Canadian taxpayer funds. However, people felt their wallets getting a little lighter. They felt the industry minister rifling through their wallets and they were an uproar. Without a structured plan in place these kinds of abuses can take place.

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities is to be commended for putting the pressure on the minister to come forward with guidelines.

The two certainties in life are death and taxes. In Saskatchewan we are seeing the death of many communities because of the state of our economy. The amount taxpayers have to pay is often not known because of uncertainties in income going to municipalities. This bill will address those uncertainties.

Municipal governments have been at the mercy of federal governments when making decisions on what buildings they will be given grants in lieu of taxes and on the amount of the grant. This will help a lot.

The bill attempts to address a problem that is in our constitution, which exempts the federal government and crown corporations from paying municipal taxes on their properties. It took from the date the constitution was written until 1950 to get something in law to establish a program of grants in lieu of taxes. Up until then everything was left up to ministerial accountability. As I said previously, that has created no end of difficulties for municipalities because they do things much the same way as HRDC does and the way the industry minister has attempted to do things. People need certainty in their lives beyond death and taxes. They need to know when the money is coming to them.

The Reform Party has proposed a number of amendments. Motion No. 4 reminds us that the bill currently reads that the minister may make payments. One of the things we do not agree with in the legislation is the minister having the ability to make the decision without being held accountable somewhere and in some way.

In order to hold the minister accountable for any changes in the payment or for the lack of payment, this motion would require the minister to sit down and write to the taxing authority, which would be the local government, the reasons for the changes or the withholding. Local governments need to be given a certain level of respect by this place. Currently, that does not often happen. We can see that in the way payments in lieu of taxes are handled.

Motion No. 5 reads that it is up to the opinion of the minister to decide whether or not a payment has been unreasonably delayed. We want to lessen the minister's discretion in that area so it is not based just on his opinion. The requirement in Motion No. 5 is that the minister provide written reasons to the taxing authority if he decides not to make a supplementary payment. This provision would hold a minister of the crown accountable for decisions that he or his department has made. He would not be able to just simply say “Well, it is my opinion. You have to live with it. That is as good as it is going to get”. It can get a lot better if the minister has to sit down and explain his reasons.

Throughout the bill we see “in the opinion” or “may” or something like that. My colleague's amendments are based on holding a minister to a standard that requires him to make a rational decision and to put it in writing so that the taxing authority can make the decision known to the people they represent. They are after all going to the same well as the federal government. When they have to increase taxes, the people should know why.

Motion No. 8 deals with discretion as to the method of payment. This would again require the minister to provide written reasons to the taxing authority. It also provides for ministerial accountability. Why was the method of payment chosen by the minister? Can it be made in annual instalments? Yes, it can. Can it be made with interest if it is on an annual instalment? Yes, it can. Can it be made in a lump sum payment without interest? Again, the answer is yes. Does the minister have to say why he chose to do it that way? No, the minister does not. This amendment should make it possible for the local authority to find out why the minister made the decision that he made.

There are three government agencies, the Royal Canadian Mint, Canada Post and CMHC, that hold property in local communities. We would like to see these agencies make payments in lieu of taxes as well. In order to do that at the present time, it would require an order in council, which would give the minister far too much discretion because of the way these types of things are done.

Motion No. 16 provides for crown corporation accountability with regard to non-payment in lieu of taxes. Like the minister, crown corporations may make payments in lieu of taxes. And again, without constitutional amendment, the bill cannot read that they must make payments. However, there are ways to get around that. In order to provide for some level of accountability, crown corporations should be required to provide, in writing to the taxing authority, their reasons for non-payment.

We have a number of concerns over inconsistencies that the government is able to introduce into its method of making payments to taxes. In one instance it can get out from under a requirement one way or it can basically lead a municipality around without letting it know why it is doing what it is doing.

The last motion deals with how the advisory panel provides advice to the ministry. The minister may accept or reject the advisory committee's advice, and that is acceptable. After all, that is what advisory committees do, is advise based on the best information they can get. However, the minister does not have to provide a rationale for why she or he accepts that information.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

12:50 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

Is the House ready for the question?

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

12:50 p.m.

Some hon. members

Question.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

12:50 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

The question is on Motion No. 1. All those in favour of Motion No. 1 will please say yea.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

12:50 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.