House of Commons Hansard #124 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was billion.

Topics

Supply
Government Orders

5 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Deepak Obhrai Calgary East, AB

Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague on the other side got the wrong impression. I was saying that CIDA's $2.2 billion budget should be used more effectively before we think about increasing aid.

If the existing budget is not properly utilized, why would we want to spend more money? The biggest danger is that Canadians would start suffering from foreign aid fatigue because they would see their foreign aid dollars not being used effectively. Let us use the $2.2 billion more effectively before we start spending more money.

Supply
Government Orders

5:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Larry Spencer Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak on behalf of the constituents of Regina--Lumsden--Lake Centre on the opposition motion. A delayed crisis budget is a poor substitute for what Canadians deserve from their government. Canadians deserve a normal budget on a regular basis at predetermined times.

Has the Liberal Party found it easier to run the government through members of the inner circle of cabinet? How is parliament expected to function when the government administers public policy through the core of its inner circle? These are questions that are being asked in my riding.

I understand that I am one of the newer members of the House. That does not mean I do not understand that government is abusing power and authority in many cases by investing so much power in the Prime Minister's Office.

Since I am not fully acclimatized to this place it is easier for me to see that is where the power is coming from. There is such a thin green line, as I have said in talks in Saskatchewan, between us and a dictatorship. The erosion of democracy may be the reason for the rumour that the upcoming budget is not even from the Minister of Finance but from the Prime Minister.

Canadians deserve better. The Canadian Alliance is calling for $2 billion in national defence spending that would make us a more credible member of NATO. Another billion to our homeland securities providers would certainly not be an unrealistic expectation. The equipment and the resources given to our military are embarrassing to many of us.

Canadians deserve better when it comes to the support of agriculture. It is an established fact that the last decade has not served Canadians well. They have seen their financial situation worsen and the government is not likely to make any meaningful corrections in the budget.

Canada faced one of the worst droughts on record and the Liberal government could not seem to find any more than $2 million. I am not sure if it found that for Saskatchewan farmers to drill new water wells and dig dugouts. The agency responsible for that ran out of money in late spring or early summer. Saskatchewan asked for something like $5 million and according to the latest figures it might get $2 million.

Canadians deserve better support and more realistic employment insurance premiums. On November 30 the Minister of Finance announced a cut in EI premiums to $2.20 per $100 of insurable earnings. That is a nickel a hundred. Based on an annual income of $39,000 this EI premium would save workers just under $20 a year. A massive saving, is it not?

By contrast, CPP premiums would increase by almost $140 a year for the average Canadian worker and even more for the employer. The worker is suffering a $120 loss for the year. This year the EI account will run a surplus of $6 billion, bringing the cumulative surplus to somewhere over $40 billion by next March. The chief actuary has said that EI premiums could be cut to as low as $1.75 per $100 and that should likely work for quite some time. Yet we are only seeing them lowered to the $2.20 mark.

The Canadian Alliance motion proposes an EI cut of 15 cents this year with reductions in the following years to reach a break even point as soon as possible. EI premiums are job killers. In uncertain economic times we should be encouraging job creation, not maintaining job killing payroll taxes.

The Minister of Finance agreed with that at one time. In May 1994 he said that payroll taxes were a cancer on job creation. Employers and employees were apparently not a high priority with the Liberal government. If they were, the minister would accept some of the repeated calls the opposition has made toward reducing EI premiums. Canadians deserve better and stronger health care funding by the federal government.

After all, the federal government is the major tax collector of our nation. Both in Saskatchewan and Alberta there are propositions to deliver controversial policy changes for health care yet we expect that the Minister of Health will stick with his approach of around 14 cents, and for some provinces maybe 17 cents. We expect him to embrace the status quo and challenge anyone to alter the existing principles of the Health Canada Act. Is that good enough for Canadians? No, I do not believe that it is good enough.

The government has not even returned to the 1995 levels of funding and participation let alone to the 50% rate that was originally used in the early days of medicare.

Some of the items I have mentioned are not specifically mentioned in the Canadian Alliance motion. However the first point, the reallocation of financial resources from wasteful, low and falling priorities into higher need areas would allow for a broad number of changes as well as all the ones that the Alliance motion mentions.

A lot has been said here and many people will wonder why there is this exercise and why the Alliance would bring forth such a motion when it is so near the time that the budget is coming down. That is a legitimate question. We believe that this has been a good exercise. It has allowed many points of view to be expressed. Many members have offered suggestions of how prioritization can take place. The motion has called attention to the fact that prioritization needs to happen.

The hon. member across the way mentioned HRDC and CIDA among other things. It is not that the Canadian Alliance opposes those departments but anyone who has seen any of the spending reports from those places will absolutely know there is much fat to be cut. There are many areas of waste and useless government spending.

We believe that a government's first priority is that of safety and security for its own citizens. People throughout time have gathered together and they bind together for their own security and protection. That is the basis.

We need to talk about providing infrastructure so that our economy can function and things can happen. We seem always to get so far ahead of ourselves. We are so interested in providing for all of the different kinds of programs that we forget to take care of the infrastructure.

I am very grateful that we have had the opportunity today to address these issues.

Points of Order
Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

Halifax West
Nova Scotia

Liberal

Geoff Regan Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Earlier today the hon. member for Pictou--Antigonish--Guysborough raised a point of order with respect to the appropriations bill provision for foreign affairs vote 36a of $2 million for payment to compensate for transferred liabilities to the Export Development Corporation in respect of its employees who have contributed to the public service death benefit account. The member suggested that there is no statutory basis for this transfer.

I want to point out that the current name for the corporation is that which is specified in the appropriations bill.

I would like to note also that EDC withdrew from the Public Service Superannuation Act in April 2000. It thus incurred a one time liability at that time. This payment simply covers EDC's liability for that purpose. Authority is provided under the Public Service Superannuation Act for this. This would have been required with or without Bill C-31, the EDC Act and in fact, has nothing to do with that bill.

Points of Order
Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

I would like to thank the hon. member for the information. As soon as the Speaker is here just before the vote he will respond.

The House resumed consideration of the motion and of the amendment.

Supply
Government Orders

December 4th, 2001 / 5:10 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

It being 5.15 p.m. it is my duty to inform the House that proceedings on the motion have expired.

Today being the last allotted day for the supply period ending on December 10, 2001, it is my duty to interrupt proceedings and put forthwith any question necessary to dispose of the business of supply.

Supplementary Estimates (A), 2001-02
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

Westmount—Ville-Marie
Québec

Liberal

Lucienne Robillard President of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for Infrastructure

moved:

That Vote 30a, in the amount of $1,852,871, under PRIVY COUNCIL—Millennium Bureau of Canada—Operating expenditures, in the Supplementary Estimates for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2002, be concurred in.

Supplementary Estimates (A), 2001-02
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

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

Supplementary Estimates (A), 2001-02
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Supplementary Estimates (A), 2001-02
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Supplementary Estimates (A), 2001-02
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Supplementary Estimates (A), 2001-02
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Supplementary Estimates (A), 2001-02
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

All those opposed will please say nay.

Supplementary Estimates (A), 2001-02
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Supplementary Estimates (A), 2001-02
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And more than five members having risen: