House of Commons Hansard #7 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was riding.

Topics

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, the auditor general today confirmed in his report that the surpluses accumulated as at March 31, 2000 in the employment insurance fund amounted to $28 billion, twice the figure the chief actuary of Human Resources Development Canada deemed sufficient to build a reserve for the plan.

Is the auditor general not confirming in his remarks what the Bloc Quebecois has said for a number of years, namely that the government is unacceptably dipping into the employment insurance fund, thus making off with money that does not belong to it?

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Brant
Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, let me remind the hon. member again of a number of things. First and foremost, unemployment numbers in Canada today are at record lows. More people are working, more people are paying premiums and that is good for us.

I would remind the hon. member that there have been times in the recent past where we have been in deficit and so we have to manage that account wisely.

I would also remind the hon. member that there is a bill before the House that will allow us to review the premium setting process. I am sure he will want to support that bill.

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, did the minister not just acknowledge that the employment insurance bill, which will now enable her to use the fund surplus as she will, is intended to escape such scathing remarks by the auditor general in future reports?

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Brant
Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, it seems like the hon. member is asking us to review the process by which employment insurance premiums are set. In the bill before the House that is precisely what we are recommending.

Surely he will support that bill when it is in committee and we will move on.

Health
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Diane Ablonczy Calgary—Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, the health minister allowed the Sagkeeng Solvent Treatment Centre to receive over 40 times the average funding for native addiction treatment. This enormous windfall was given in the face of his own auditors looking into corruption and misspending beginning in 1995.

Can the minister explain to Canadians why he poured such extraordinary amounts of the public's money into a group with a long track record of questionable practices?

Health
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, first let me congratulate the member on her appointment as the health critic for her party.

Let me first say that she should know we have ordered a forensic audit of the centre to which she has referred. In fact, we are before the court this week to ensure that we get full access to all the records so that we can trace all the public moneys.

I share her concern that there be a full accounting for all public moneys spent. We have stopped funding the centre. We will get to the bottom of this. We will do everything possible to recover any funds that were misspent.

Health
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Diane Ablonczy Calgary—Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, the point is that the minister ignored an earlier audit which showed incredibly questionable practices by this group.

Here are some of the warning bells in the audit that the minister slept through: more than $1 million in payments to companies owned by clinic directors; a whopping bill of over $300,000 for just one client; questionable vehicle payments; unsupported travel claims; and money spent on trips to Las Vegas, Australia and Hawaii. The list went on and on.

Why did the minister fail so badly in his duty to protect the public interest?

Health
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, some of the transactions the member refers to and the entire activities of the centre are now under careful scrutiny, not only by Health Canada and auditors but where appropriate by police authorities.

I share her concern that those public funds be accounted for fully. I assure her we will do everything to make certain that occurs.

Auto Industry
Oral Question Period

February 6th, 2001 / 2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Susan Whelan Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, DaimlerChrysler has announced it is reducing its operations in Canada as part of its restructuring plan. In particular, Windsor and Brampton are the subject of job losses.

As one in seven jobs in Canada depends on the automotive industry, could the Minister of Industry inform the House and all Canadians today what action the government is taking?

Auto Industry
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Bonavista—Trinity—Conception
Newfoundland & Labrador

Liberal

Brian Tobin Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Essex for her question. I acknowledge the interest of the member for Brampton Centre and many others in this place about the health of the auto industry.

Yesterday I spoke with the international president of DaimlerChrysler. I met with Mr. Buzz Hargrove from CAW last night. I offered the assurance of the government that we want to work with both the industry and the union to assist in the transition for those who for the moment have lost their jobs because of the downturn.

We stressed quite strongly with DaimlerChrysler our interest in seeing both R and D in Canada continue and a new product line for the Pillette Road plant.

Health
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis Winnipeg North Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, the auditor general today issued several alarming reports showing serious negligence by the government regarding food safety and health protection.

One example is that Canadian meat exporters to the United States must meet certain standards regarding salmonella and E.coli. If the standards are not met, the establishment cannot export but can continue to produce for Canadian markets.

Given everything we know about salmonella and E.coli and now mad cow disease, how can it be that the government has no such standards? Will it immediately introduce a pathogens reduction program?

Health
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Prince Edward—Hastings
Ontario

Liberal

Lyle Vanclief Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Mr. Speaker, I confirm to the hon. member and everyone in Canada that the explanation of how this system works is being given to the auditor general.

The United States asks that we use its system of inspection to reach a certain point. It is a different way of getting there. If we get there exactly the same way, only we use a different track with the Canadian inspection system, I can assure her that if a product is not suitable to be exported it will not be provided to the domestic food chain either.

Health
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis Winnipeg North Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the health minister who has ultimate responsibility for food safety.

The auditor general showed that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has unilaterally and arbitrarily decided not to regularly inspect non-federally registered establishments. We are talking about infant formula, unpasteurized juice, peanut butter and other products in a sector where about half the recalls in terms of food happen and which only gets about 5% of the food safety resources of the government.

This is a violation of the Food and Drugs Act. The minister is in dereliction of duty. Will he correct this matter immediately?

Health
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Prince Edward—Hastings
Ontario

Liberal

Lyle Vanclief Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Mr. Speaker, as I explained to the House before, the role of the food inspection system in Canada is to monitor and enforce regulations set by the ministry of health. The ministry of health monitors the actions of the Canadian food inspection system.

We have federally inspected plants. By the Constitution, we are not involved in the inspection of food produced in provincially inspected plants. That is the role of the municipality and the provincial governments.

Health
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. Recent disclosed information tells us that the Virginia Fontaine clinic in Montana received $37 million and is owned by Perry Fontaine.

There is evidence of highly questionable funding and spending practices. An exorbitant amount of money was approved by Paul Cochrane, an assistant deputy minister at health who resigned two weeks ago, and whose wife purchased condos at Mont Tremblant on behalf of Mr. Fontaine.

Could the minister explain how his former ADM could authorize such an enormous amount of cash with little or no departmental scrutiny?