House of Commons Hansard #125 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was c-27.

Topics

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Joe Peschisolido Richmond, BC

Mr. Speaker, on November 30, EI premiums were cut by a measly nickel. This will save Canadian workers $19.50 a year. In January CPP premiums will go up by $172. This means that Canadian workers will pay an extra $150 a year in premiums.

How, then, can the Minister of Finance claim as he does that premiums have been cut?

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Willowdale
Ontario

Liberal

Jim Peterson Secretary of State (International Financial Institutions)

Mr. Speaker, when we took office the rates were at $3.07 heading to $3.30. We have cut them in every single budget since then and they are now down to a low of $2.20. That is saving the taxpayers $6.8 billion a year.

If the member wants to talk about tax cuts, let us look at what we have done for the workers: record tax cuts of $100 billion and the tax cuts which have gone to workers with families, 35%. That is how we are helping the workers.

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Joe Peschisolido Richmond, BC

Mr. Speaker, perhaps the member did not realize that I did not ask about taxpayers' dollars. I spoke about Canadian workers' premiums. That is the problem. The government simply does not get it.

The chief actuary has said that EI premiums could be cut to $1.75 and the EI system would still break even. There is a $36 billion surplus. The auditor general says that the EI surplus is so large that the EI law is practically being broken.

Is the reason the Minister of Finance has not cut premiums that he has already misspent and misallocated the surplus?

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Willowdale
Ontario

Liberal

Jim Peterson Secretary of State (International Financial Institutions)

Mr. Speaker, one has to be responsible. One has to look at exactly what we have done given the mess that we inherited in 1993. We have continually been able to cut those taxes. That has been one of our priorities. We have said that we will continue to cut those taxes.

The EI fund is not a shoebox. There are many priorities, but the big thing that we have done to help workers is to cut the income taxes of workers with families by 35%.

Guaranteed Income Supplement
Oral Question Period

December 5th, 2001 / 2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Marcel Gagnon Champlain, QC

Mr. Speaker, not only has this government exploited the unemployed, but for the past eight years it has unfairly treated thousands of seniors, who are among society's most disadvantaged, by depriving them of the $3.2 billion owed them under the guaranteed income supplement plan.

I ask the Minister of Human Resources Development what she is waiting for to reimburse these seniors the money she owes them?

Guaranteed Income Supplement
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Brant
Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, as I said yesterday, I am pleased to get the report of the Standing Committee on Human Resources Development on this important part of the Canadian pension program.

We will examine it in detail and respond to the committee within the timeframe set by the law. We want to be sure that every Canadian entitled to the guaranteed income supplement will receive it.

Guaranteed Income Supplement
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Marcel Gagnon Champlain, QC

Mr. Speaker, the minister could easily have approached the Association québécoise de défense des retraités to identify the persons involved.

How does the minister explain the government's creativity when it goes after money owed it and its inefficiency when the time comes to pay its debts to seniors?

Guaranteed Income Supplement
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Brant
Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, as I also said yesterday, we are taking action to ensure that all Canadian seniors who are eligible for the guaranteed income supplement do have access to it. I am working with my colleague, the Minister of National Revenue, to do just that.

I would note that St. Christopher House has written us a letter stating:

We are so pleased to learn that HRDC will be working with CCRA to directly contact these seniors. This seems like an efficient and effective way to address the problem.

Heating Fuel Rebate
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jason Kenney Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, we know that the Liberals are in favour of prisoners' voting rights, which perhaps explains why they sent 1,600 vote buying cheques to inmates last year, but it also appears that they were courting the cemetery vote when they sent gas rebate cheques to 7,500 members of the grateful dead.

Why did the government send half a billion tax dollars to the imprisoned, the dead and the wealthy, and when will the government show respect for real living taxpayers by apologizing for this atrocious abuse of tax dollars?

Heating Fuel Rebate
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Willowdale
Ontario

Liberal

Jim Peterson Secretary of State (International Financial Institutions)

Mr. Speaker, when we set up this program we had two criteria that were necessary to fulfill. First, it had to go to those who were going to need it the most, and second, it had to get there on time. This is why we had to choose the existing vehicle and this was the vehicle that was available.

Heating Fuel Rebate
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jason Kenney Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals had one criteria and that was to buy votes. They sure did not get there in time for 7,500 dead people.

When they say that they targeted low income people, that clearly contradicts what the auditor general said, that 40% of the cheques, $560 million worth, went to people who were not low income, who were either in prison, deceased, lived outside the country or were wealthy and had good incomes.

Why does the finance minister continue to refuse to apologize for this gross abuse of tax dollars? Why does the government not show some respect for taxpayers and just apologize?

Heating Fuel Rebate
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Willowdale
Ontario

Liberal

Jim Peterson Secretary of State (International Financial Institutions)

Mr. Speaker, I will not apologize for giving this tax credit to those who were going to need it the most.

What excites me is this newfound concern for low income Canadians. Perhaps the hon. member could tell us what the impact on low income Canadians as opposed to rich Canadians would be of his flat tax proposal, or has he scrapped that stupid tax?

Guaranteed Income Supplement
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Marcel Gagnon Champlain, QC

Mr. Speaker, seniors have been done out of $3.2 billion by the government, and, in our opinion, there is only one thing to do: Give them what the government owes them.

I call on the minister to rise in the House right now and tell us whether she will pay back the money she owes.

Guaranteed Income Supplement
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Brant
Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, there is no doubt that the guaranteed income supplement is a very important part of the overall pension program. What is extraordinarily important is to ensure that Canadian seniors who are eligible for this supplement have access to it.

As I pointed out, we are very aggressively going into communities, working with voluntary organizations. I am working with my colleague, the Minister of National Revenue, to ensure that all seniors who have eligibility for this program do have access to it.

Guaranteed Income Supplement
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Marcel Gagnon Champlain, QC

Mr. Speaker, we have a hard time understanding the reticence of the minister, who, for the past eight years has denied our society's most vulnerable people $3.2 billion.

Why is the minister refusing to do the only honourable thing, which is to announce that she will be reimbursing the money?

Seniors have rights: Respect them.