House of Commons Hansard #45 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was money.

Topics

Food Freedom Day
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Rose-Marie Ur Lambton—Kent—Middlesex, ON

Mr. Speaker, February 7 was Food Freedom Day in Canada when the average family has earned enough to pay for an entire year's worth of food.

We enjoy the most affordable food system in the world. Only 9.8% of our disposable income goes to food compared to 11% in the United States and 33% in Mexico. Our farmers produce high quality and safe food at competitive prices but the farmer's portion has shrunk.

The question is, how many Canadians know that from a $1.50 loaf of bread the farmer gets 9 cents, or that if we have a glass of milk today for $1.50, less than 16 cents is returned to the farmer? A waiter or waitress will earn more from tips on a meal than a farmer earns for growing the food.

Our farmers are the most efficient and competitive in the world but the return on the raw product they produce gets smaller and smaller even though exports continue to rise.

Yes, let us celebrate Food Freedom Day while mindful that farmers must get a fair price to help them stay in business.

Health Care
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Norman E. Doyle St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to remind the Minister of Finance that he should not forget health care when he brings down his budget.

The budget has been balanced but there have been serious casualties as a result of the process. One of them is our health care system which is now seriously underfunded and not giving Canadians the level of protection they want and deserve.

The minister is no doubt besieged by demands on his new budget but I implore him to first and foremost reinvest in health care. That is what the 10 premiers want. That is what the medical community wants and that is what the Canadian people want. When they show up at emergency on any given Saturday night Canadians want sufficient doctors on duty and they want beds available when they have to be admitted.

After all, if we do not have our health, how will we ever enjoy our tax cuts?

Merchant Navy
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Raymond Lavigne Verdun—Saint-Henri, QC

Mr. Speaker, my beautiful riding of Verdun—Saint-Henri is home to several veterans of the merchant navy. I have made numerous representations to the Minister of Veterans Affairs so that non taxable compensation be paid to these veterans.

Today, I want to congratulate the Minister of Veterans Affairs, who announced last week that the war effort of merchant navy veterans is now recognized by the Government of Canada.

The minister announced a $50 million compensation program for these veterans. This concrete action means that we recognize the importance of the sacrifice of merchant mariners and their contribution to Canada's war effort.

We do live in a beautiful country, do we not?

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Edmonton North, AB

Mr. Speaker, the human resources minister has known for more than five months about this billion dollar bungle. She knows that audit represents just a tiny percentage of what is actually out there in terms of files. She knows there are billions more dollars at stake here and she knows that will come out.

She loves to blame her officials, which is unfortunate, but I would like to ask her how many of her top officials has she suspended, moved or fired as a result of this billion dollar bungle.

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Brant
Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, here again the opposition continues on this firing and resignation treadmill. I want to tell the House that while the opposition members are on that treadmill I am making distance.

We are implementing a six point plan so that we will have a quality administration of grants and contributions in my department, so that we can track every working tax dollar and that Canadians can measure us by our results.

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Edmonton North, AB

Mr. Speaker, it looks to me like a Damascus road conversion. It was just last week when the minister said they were all in the dark ages.

This minister is responsible for billions of dollars of taxpayers' money. She has proven that this current team can bungle a billion dollars, which is no small task. She talks about her six point plan. Her little six point plan is lovely, but if the same guys who dropped the ball the first time around carry it again, we could lose another billion dollars here. We say enough, stop already.

I ask the minister again how many of her officials has she moved, suspended or fired as a result of this boondoggle.

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Brant
Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I would like to advise the hon. member again that a billion dollars has not disappeared. We know where it is.

I say again that I take my responsibility as minister seriously. That is why we are implementing the plan and we will build a quality administration to ensure this never happens again.

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Edmonton North, AB

Mr. Speaker, the minister claims that she takes her responsibility seriously, but we have seen the Prime Minister for days on the news talking about what real ministerial accountability was.

He stood here in his place in 1991 and said that when ministers have problems, and we are talking serious problems in the department, they should take the fall.

This minister is the political CEO of the whole organization of HRD. She could come out with a 42 point plan but it is not going to work because she is at the top. When will she start by firing herself and sending that signal?

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Brant
Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, not only am I convinced that the plan is going to work but an independent outside official thinks it is going to work, and that would be the auditor general.

I remind the House that the auditor general says of our plan: “In our opinion the proposed approach presents a thorough plan for corrective action to address the immediate control problems that were identified”.

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Reform

Diane Ablonczy Calgary—Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has been caught in a glaring credibility gap. To deflect criticism of this top bureaucrat he told Canadians that Mel Cappe had specially ordered the HRDC audit.

This cover-up was flatly contradicted by HRDC officials who disclosed that it was a routine internal audit. When will the Prime Minister stop misleading Canadians, covering up—

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Withdraw, withdraw.

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

The Speaker

I would invite my colleagues to please stay away from the word misleading. It incites us a little more.

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, there was an audit that was asked for. They do that under the authority of the deputy minister, and the deputy minister knows what is going on in his office. He knew there was an audit, so there was absolutely nothing to quarrel with.

I have to be candid with the House and report that I have received the last note about the number of cases, the 37 that have been reviewed. Seven have been reviewed representing $11,937,000. In five there was absolutely no overpayment and two had overpayment of $250.

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Reform

Diane Ablonczy Calgary—Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, let us look at the facts. A random sample of over 60,000 receiving one billion tax dollars showed almost no checking, supervision or tracking. Eight per cent showed even worse wrongdoing. There are 60,000 cases of virtually uncontrolled spending with nearly 5,000 of those so bad we may never get to the bottom of it.

Why is the Prime Minister covering up the massive size of the problems in HRDC?

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the auditors of the department have been reviewing the files. They have done it in a very professional way. They have been in contact with the auditor general who has accepted the work. The auditor general has said in a public letter that what the department and the minister are doing is the right thing to do.

When the opposition talked about a billion dollars I reported that in $11 million of so-called problems there was an overpayment of a little bit more than $250.