House of Commons Hansard #35 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was industry.

Topics

Housing
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Bloc

Christian Simard Beauport, QC

Mr. Speaker, the meeting of ministers responsible for housing ends today. Ottawa is delaying new investment in this sector on the pretext that the funds available have not been entirely spent by certain provinces. This approach penalizes Quebec which, to date, has satisfied all requirements.

Does the minister responsible for housing intend to use the end of this meeting on housing as an opportunity to restart construction of social and affordable housing by injecting the $2.4 billion CMHC surplus equitably into the system?

Housing
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Eglinton—Lawrence
Ontario

Liberal

Joe Volpe Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member knows, affordable housing comes under provincial jurisdiction. The ministers are meeting today to determine the next phase of this program. We will be continuing. We have already done some good work with Quebec. We are trying to do the same with the other provinces. However, we must continue to dialogue and negotiate.

The House resumed from November 25 consideration of the motion.

Supply
Government Orders

November 30th, 2004 / 3 p.m.

The Speaker

It being 3:03 p.m., pursuant to order made on Thursday, November 25, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion of the member for Calgary Southwest relating to the business of supply.

Call in the members.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Supply
Government Orders

3:15 p.m.

The Speaker

I declare the motion carried.

Supply
Government Orders

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

Dale Johnston Wetaskiwin, AB

Mr. Speaker, because of all the security on the Hill, I was delayed. I would like to be recorded as voting yea on this motion.

Supply
Government Orders

3:15 p.m.

The Speaker

Does the hon. member for Wetaskiwin have the unanimous consent of the House to have his vote recorded as voting yea on this motion?

Supply
Government Orders

3:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Supply
Government Orders

3:15 p.m.

An hon. member

No.

Supply
Government Orders

3:15 p.m.

The Speaker

I wish to remind hon. members of the reception being held at 3:30 p.m. in Room 237-C for an important unveiling of a portrait.

I wish to inform the House that because of the deferred recorded division, government orders will be extended by 15 minutes.

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-5, an act to provide financial assistance for post-secondary education savings, as reported (with amendment) from the committee.

Canada Education Savings Act
Government Orders

3:20 p.m.

The Speaker

There are two motions in amendment standing on the notice paper for the report stage of Bill C-5. Motions Nos. 1 and 2 will be grouped for debate and voted upon separately.

I shall now propose Motions Nos. 1 and 2 to the House.

Canada Education Savings Act
Government Orders

3:20 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough Halifax, NS

moved:

Motion No. 1

That Bill C-5 be amended by deleting Clause 3.

Motion No. 2

That Bill C-5, in Clause 13, be amended by adding after line 32 on page 10 the following:

“(l) establishing a process for defining the conditions that constitute undue hardship under subsection 9.1(1) for a beneficiary or the primary caregiver of a beneficiary.”

Canada Education Savings Act
Government Orders

3:20 p.m.

The Speaker

We will have a little order please.

It is hard to hear when everyone is talking and there are discussions in the gallery.

I encourage hon. members to go to their galleries and lobbies, and have their discussions there. The hon. member for Halifax has the floor.

Canada Education Savings Act
Government Orders

3:20 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, as we resume proceedings, we are debating two report stage amendments to Bill C-5, an act to provide financial assistance for post-secondary education savings.

The stated purpose of the bill is:

--to encourage the financing of children’s post-secondary education through savings, from early childhood, in registered education savings plans.

The effect of this first amendment, to delete clause 3, would be to actually delete the stated purpose of the bill. Let me be clear about what we are talking about here. Clause 3 purports to serve the purpose of introducing so-called incentives to encourage families to save for their children's future. However, it fails to take into account the reality that many low and fixed income families cannot afford to put money into RESPs.

We heard from witnesses, who appeared before the human resources committee on Bill C-5, that the stated purpose was bogus and that the provisions contained in the bill could not possibly come close to achieving the stated purpose. It was the view of all but one witness of the many who appeared before the committee that Bill C-5 would actually widen the gap between upper income families who can afford to open RESPs for their children and those living on low and fixed incomes who cannot.

It cannot be ignored if there is not to be a total democratic deficit in the work of the human resources committee. Every single organization that spoke to the bill said to scrap it. Fundamentally, there were two reasons why they said to scrap it.

The provisions of the bill do not achieve the stated purpose. It could be documented in dollars and cents that low and modest income families would not be the chief beneficiaries of the bill. The greatest benefits of the bill would go to upper income families who could afford to set aside savings and who could draw down the benefits that are contained in the bill in a way that lower income families could not do.

Student representatives, spokespersons for anti-poverty groups and single parent groups spoke against the bill because it completely failed to address what was really needed to achieve the purpose of opening up accessibility for low and modest income students to our post-secondary education institutions.

There is absolutely nothing in the bill that even purports to address the current post-secondary education crisis that is sweeping this country. Every single education stakeholder who appeared before the committee as a witness demanded that what was needed instead was a needs based grant system instead of this woefully inadequate piece of legislation.

I have heard some people argue that Bill C-5 is better than nothing. The bill would not achieve its stated purpose and that is why we are proposing the deletion of the stated purpose because it is bogus. If it does not actually achieve its stated purpose, at least it does attempt to do something. There would be some people in the low and modest income family category who would benefit from it. It is true that some would benefit. One must take into account whether this is the best use of the money that would be invested.

The reality is that the principal beneficiaries of the money invested will be upper income families and therefore we have to take into account the opportunity cost.

As is proposed in Bill C-5, the forfeited use of that money would be invested. It was the overwhelming contention of everyone that if the government is sincere in its intention to do what is most cost effective in achieving the stated purpose, then that same amount of money will be invested in a needs based system of grants. Anything short of that would be bogus and should not be supported.

For that reason I am appealing to members of all political parties, particularly those who heard the witnesses again and again say that this was not where public dollars should be spent. They said that public dollars should be spent on addressing the crisis in post-secondary education to ensure we have a system of needs based grants, something for which we could all be proud and which together we could all support.

I want to be perfectly fair. We did hear one representative of an organization, unapologetically, which is fair enough, say that his organization supported the bill because his organization was in the business of dealing with registered education savings plans and therefore would be a principal beneficiary of the provisions of the bill.

However I do not think the purpose of the bill is to enrich the investment activities of an organization that is in the business. Nothing is wrong with that, and if that is the intention of the bill, then there will be such beneficiaries, but the stated purpose of the bill is to deal with low income students and families who face a major accessibility problem in gaining entrance into or maintaining their status as students in post-secondary education institutions.

With regard to the first amendment, I ask all members who heard those pleadings and the overwhelming evidence from witnesses, and representatives of all of our respective caucuses who are here to support this amendment, to recognize that the stated purpose of the bill is bogus and to vote in favour of the amendment that is now before us, which is to delete clause 3.