House of Commons Hansard #132 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was bankruptcy.

Topics

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Madam Speaker, I proudly rise today to present two petitions from several Saskatchewan communities including Tugaske, Central Butte, Aylesbury and the fine community of Craik. Residents of these communities are extremely concerned about the potential closure of rural post offices.

These petitions have been signed by several hundred residents of those communities. They are encouraging and urging the government to retain its current moratorium on rural post office closures.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

Greg Thompson St. Croix—Belleisle, NB

Madam Speaker, plans are underway to build a liquid natural gas terminal on the U.S. side of Passamoquoddy Bay. This site can only be accessed by tankers passing through internal Canadian waters, namely, Head Harbour Passage. The petitioners demand that the Government of Canada say no to the transport of LNG tankers through Head Harbour Passage as it did 30 years ago to protect our environment, our citizens and our economy.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition from a group of constituents from my riding. It deals with the same issue raised earlier by the member for Guelph regarding amendments to section 83 of the Criminal Code of Canada to provide for an exemption for martial arts sanctioned by provincial boards.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Madam Speaker, I have another petition signed by many Canadians. The petitioners ask that the Canada Health Act and corresponding regulations be amended to include IBI therapy for children with autism spectrum disorders.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Langley, BC

Madam Speaker, I rise today to present a petition from residents in my riding of Langley.

The petitioners state that fuel and gas prices have reached all-time highs, that the charging of GST on the federal excise tax and other taxes is double taxation, that every cent of increase in fuel generates an extra $40 million of revenue for the federal government, and that these high prices on oil and fuel have a negative effect on our economy, businesses, and low and fixed income families. The petitioners ask the government to stop taxing the tax.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

October 5th, 2005 / 3:20 p.m.

Beauséjour
New Brunswick

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Hon. Jean Augustine)

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Motions for Papers
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Beauséjour
New Brunswick

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, I ask that all Notices of Motions for the Production of Papers be allowed to stand.

Motions for Papers
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Hon. Jean Augustine)

Is that agreed?

Motions for Papers
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed from October 4 consideration of the motion that Bill C-55, An Act to establish the Wage Earner Protection Program Act, to amend the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act and the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Wage Earner Protection Program Act
Government Orders

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

Gurmant Grewal Newton—North Delta, BC

Madam Speaker, yesterday when I was talking about participating in the debate on Bill C-55 I mentioned a few changes this bill was recommending, particularly regarding employees. When an employer goes bankrupt, the wages earned by employees should be paid prior to other creditors.

I also talked about the impact on small businesses, as well as financial institutions. I also talked about locked in RRSPs not being part of the payments during bankruptcy.

Then I talked about the bill's impact on students. As members know and as the report states, the Senate banking committee recommended that student debt be eligible to be erased in a bankruptcy five years after the student completed his or her studies. In the case of hardship, the recommendation was that the court be allowed to discharge student loan debt in a period of time shorter than five years.

Bill C-55 does not go as far as the Senate committee recommendation. Instead, the government proposes amending the law to allow student loans to be eligible to be written off in a bankruptcy if a student has terminated his or her studies seven or more years ago. Also, higher student loan limits and higher tuition fees ensure that the students will continue to graduate with higher debt loads. However, many graduates find few job opportunities. If they end up seeking bankruptcy, it is a decision not taken lightly.

The Liberal government is seeking to doubly punish the students. While the Liberals allow their friends and donors to get away with repaying only 2.4% of grants to loans, they expect young people to pay 100% of the student loans. Who are they trying to punish?

I am disappointed to see that Bill C-55 neglects to offer protection to firms that are suppliers to bankrupt companies. The reality is that the bankruptcy of one company can drag down many others with it, especially when suppliers are small businesses.

The current system is unfair to workers as well as to the students. It must be changed. The Conservative Party generally supports these amendments. We will allow the bill to pass, but we will continue to seek further clarifications.

Wage Earner Protection Program Act
Government Orders

3:25 p.m.

Bloc

Carole Lavallée Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Madam Speaker, I listened closely to the speech by the member for Newton—North Delta. I was pleasantly surprised by his remarks on student debt and bankruptcy by former students.

People are often prejudiced against former students. They think that declaring bankruptcy is easier for graduates than for other socio-economic groups. They also believe that students are more eager than others to get rid of their debts by declaring bankruptcy. However, as the member for Newton—North Delta said, it is not easier for graduates than for anyone else. In reality, this must be a very psychologically and emotionally difficult process.

No doubt the member for Newton—North Delta would be willing to support an amendment that the Bloc Québécois intends to move in committee on this particular aspect of Bill C-55. Why make former students wait seven years before they can discharge their student debt when declaring personal bankruptcy? This waiting period is so arbitrary, as was the ten-year waiting period set out in the previous legislation. Why not five, four or three years, or even nothing?

In keeping with its commitments in recent years, particularly those set out in its 2004 election platform, the Bloc Québécois will move an amendment in committee to eliminate this mandatory waiting period before former students can discharge their student debts during a personal bankruptcy.

I want to hear what the member for Newton—North Delta thinks about this.

Wage Earner Protection Program Act
Government Orders

3:25 p.m.

Conservative

Gurmant Grewal Newton—North Delta, BC

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the comments of the hon. member from the Bloc, and I do think that how students are treated in this country is a serious concern, particularly when we know that tuition fees have been skyrocketing.

In British Columbia, the average student tuition fee is about $5,000, but students make barely $10 an hour when they work to finance their education. On average, a student graduating with a bachelor's degree owes more than $20,000 in government debt. Private loans are not included in that amount. A government debt of $20,000 is too high. Then, when students graduate, they find that either there are not enough jobs for them or the jobs are not the type where they will be making enough money to pay back their loans. This is a serious concern.

On the amendment the hon. member is talking about, the time period for terminating the debt used to be 10 years after the students terminated their studies, but the Senate committee has recommended that it be five years. The government is saying it should be seven years. I do not think there should be any time limit like that. The member is right. There should be no arbitrary time limit. It should depend on the student's circumstances. If the student is facing undue hardship in repaying the borrowed money, the limit is supposed to be lower than five years, but again, it is not very clear.

Therefore, I suggested toward the end of my speech that we would be seeking clarification on those amendments. We will review the amendment the member is talking about once the amendment is made; this amendment has not been made in committee. We are open to the amendments. The Conservative Party does not want either students or workers to suffer. That is what I explained earlier and argued for in the bill.

I look forward to the amendment the member is suggesting, Then we will make a decision. Certainly we do not want to punish students when they try to get higher education by borrowing money for their studies.