House of Commons Hansard #18 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was federal.

Topics

Employment Insurance
Statements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Rex Barnes Gander—Grand Falls, NL

Mr. Speaker, the priorities outlined by the Liberals ignore the challenges facing rural Canadians.

People in Gander--Grand Falls need jobs and they want to work. Every day my office receives calls, letters and petitions from rural Newfoundlanders where hundreds of people are desperate for income to get them through the winter months. However, more than just getting enough hours for this year, what is needed is a long term economic plan for Gander--Grand Falls and rural Canada.

The Liberals have failed to put forth a vision for rural Canada so those who want work are given no hope.

Today I am meeting with officials from HRDC. It is my hope that this will mark a new understanding of the difficulties facing those who live in areas where the will to work is larger than the HRDC job bank.

The EI system must be more supportive of those who want to attend school and retrain so that the cycle of short term employment and EI reliance can be broken. The guidelines on how EI is administered must be consistent from office to office.

It is through dialogue and working together that will enable us to fix the EI system.

Autism Awareness Month
Statements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Andy Savoy Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

Mr. Speaker, October is Autism Awareness Month. I would like to ask all Canadians to take special care this month to understand autism and its effects. Autism is a disease that strikes 1 in every 268 births today. This is up substantially from previous generations, where autism occurred in about 1 in every 10,000 births.

It is essential that we continue to learn about autism, both so that we can treat it effectively and understand the social ramifications. It is of great importance that not only families understand the disease but society as a whole. The Autism Society of Canada does a remarkable job of getting the message out, increasing awareness and knowledge through an extensive website.

It is time to applaud the Autism Society of Canada and those families who support these individuals daily. This allows people with autism to reach their full potential.

Economic Update
Oral Question Period

October 30th, 2002 / 2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, today the Minister of Finance released his economic update and confirmed once again how badly over taxed Canadians are. In fact, since the government balanced the budget, it has raised taxes by $24 billion. That is how much tax revenues have gone up. Yet yesterday in question period, the government refused to rule out further tax increases for health care.

My question is for the Prime Minister. With the government awash in tax revenues, why will the government not rule out further tax increases to pay for health care?

Economic Update
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I never expected the Leader of the Opposition to compliment the government at this moment for the great performance on the economy and the fact that we have 2.5 million more people working today than we had in 1993. That is why the economy has grown by 3.4% this year and will continue to grow next year. We did not have a recession like the Americans. The government is in a good position because we have run a good government. I very much thank the Leader of the Opposition.

Economic Update
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, I was not going to compliment the government, but I will compliment the Prime Minister for having a finance minister with whom he can now work.

The government said yesterday that come hell or high water it would go it alone on the Kyoto accord. The government knows that without the consent of the provinces, the tools available to implement this accord are extremely limited. It can try to interfere in provincial jurisdiction or it can jack up energy taxes.

Since the finance minister did not roll out this possibility, I ask this question about this tax as well. Will the Prime Minister rule out carbon taxes? Will he rule out raising taxes on energy consumption?

Economic Update
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we have a very good habit of reducing taxes on this side of the House. There is a good chance that, when Kyoto is implemented completely in 2012, I might not be the Prime Minister, so it is difficult for me to conclude that there will be no tax increases in the next 10 years. However, if we keep good Liberal administration for 10 more years, there is a good chance that there will be no more tax increases.

Economic Update
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, in recent years, this government has increased spending for wasteful grants, for advertising contracts, for the hiring of an army of bureaucrats and for other dubious priorities.

Meanwhile, the provinces are struggling with increased spending for social priorities such as health.

What will the government do to correct this financial imbalance?

Economic Update
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, there is no financial imbalance. Under our system, the provinces have the power to levy taxes, and so does the federal government. Because we were good managers, we reduced taxes by $100 billion, over a five year period.

During the same period, most provinces reduced their taxation level. If they are now short of money, perhaps it is because their priorities were wrong.

We succeeded in fulfilling our obligations as a government and also in reducing taxes. If other governments did not achieve the same result, let them draw their own conclusions.

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Monte Solberg Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance announced today that the government will be flush with cash, but at the same time the overpayment in the EI account is $30 billion more than is necessary to keep the plan solvent. That explains why the Auditor General absolutely refused to sign-off on this scam in the last public accounts.

Why will the Prime Minister not announce today that he will end the over collection of EI premiums from workers and employers?

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the premium was supposed to be $3.30 when we formed the government. Now it is at $2.20, so we have done very well.

To help the hon. member of Parliament on the other side, I would like to quote what the Reform Party said:

To ensure that savings from the reform of UI translate into deficit elimination the Reform Party recommends the establishment of a permanent reserve fund for UI...Funds from this reserve would be applied against the deficit.

This is on page 46 of the taxpayers' budget written by the former leader of the opposition in 1995.

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Monte Solberg Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, I thank him for the blast from the past but let us talk about today. In the public accounts the AG stated that she is “unable to conclude that the intent of the Employment Insurance Act has been observed in setting the 2001 premium rates”. That is accountant talk for taxpayers are being soaked.

According to the CFIB, this year's rip off will amount to $5.3 billion. Why does the Prime Minister not announce today that he will end that tax rip off of EI premiums from workers and employers?

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, if the hon. member would have listened, he would have heard that when the Conservatives were in government they increased it to $3.30.

We have reduced it year after year to $2.20 and we will continue to reduce it. Yes, there is a surplus because we have created 2.5 million new jobs and these people have contributed to EI.

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Auditor General confirmed once again what the Bloc Quebecois has been saying for years: the federal government is diverting EI surpluses to pay off the debt. The Auditor General stated for the second year in a row that, by setting premiums on its own, the government is not abiding by the spirit of the law.

How can the Prime Minister explain the fact that his government is stubbornly ignoring the spirit of its own law, almost to the point of illegality?

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member knows very well that, when the Progressive Conservatives were in office, the account ran a deficit and was replenished through the government's consolidated fund.

Now, the economy is doing well, and 2.5 million new jobs have been created in the past nine years. We have additional revenue because the economy is doing well and, each year since 1994, we have reduced EI premiums.

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the government has mainly syphoned the EI account to pay off the debt. That is the reality.

This government has given itself the power to set EI premiums on its own. This is the government that had made a commitment to review the rate setting mechanism for EI premiums, a commitment it has yet to fulfill.

Instead of using the EI surplus to pay off the debt, what is this government waiting for to review the process so that, at the end of the day, workers and businesses pay fair premiums for an appropriate employment insurance system?