House of Commons Hansard #159 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was transportation.

Topics

Health
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Vancouver South
B.C.

Liberal

Ujjal Dosanjh Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, the agreement we have reached with the lawyers for the class of pre-1986 and post-1990 is substantial. That agreement says two things. Here are some steps that we need to take to get the evidence to determine the class, the size of the class, the status of the class. Then, at the end of that process there shall be compensation for that class. That is absolute advancement from the previous propositions that we had.

Official Languages
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, on November 17, the House passed Bill S-3, which confirms the Government of Canada's obligations to promote linguistic duality. On November 22, the Senate did likewise.

My question is for the Minister responsible for Official Languages. When will Bill S-3 come into effect in order to protect Canada's language minorities? Could he answer my question, as this is likely the last question I will ever ask in this House?

Official Languages
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Ottawa—Vanier
Ontario

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Minister for Internal Trade

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question and for sponsoring Bill S-3.

It is my pleasure to inform the House that the bill received Royal Assent last Thursday. It is now law.

Our support of this bill signals our government's ongoing commitment to Canada's linguistic minorities. This is in contrast to the attitude of the Bloc, which claims to be supporting anglophone and francophone minorities and then turns its back on Bill S-3. A sorry sight.

Electoral Reform
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Independent

Carolyn Parrish Mississauga—Erindale, ON

Mr. Speaker, on this my last day in the House, I would like to ask when will Canadians, particularly the 10% who support smaller parties and independent candidates, see their votes really count in a modern system that includes proportional representation and fixed election dates?

Electoral Reform
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Ottawa—Vanier
Ontario

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Minister for Internal Trade

Mr. Speaker, as the member will know, the government called for proposals to engage Canadians in a very thorough process of consultation so we will know what Canadians expect from their institutions and what values they wish reflected in their parliamentary institutions.

Only when we know what Canadians want to see, will this government move on that. We will then take the time to do it right.

Points of Order
Oral Question Period

November 28th, 2005 / 3:05 p.m.

Beauséjour
New Brunswick

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I rise to provide further information to the House on the point of order raised by the member for Edmonton—St. Albert on November 23, 2005, concerning the supplementary estimates.

The member essentially raised two concerns, one dealing with Service Canada and a second concern dealing with Downsview Park.

Let me first address the issue of Service Canada. As the member pointed out, Service Canada is not included in the supplementary estimates (A) and from this observation, he comes to the erroneous conclusion that the estimates are not properly before the House. If I understand the member's argument correctly, he suggested that the government has created a new department and that no moneys expended through Service Canada have been included in the estimates.

The member is mistaken on both points. Service Canada is not a department under the Financial Administration Act, FAA, or any other framework statutes governing the Public Service, nor has it been referred to as such by the government. Rather, Service Canada is a horizontal initiative for the delivery of services and programs associated with departments from across the government.

No new department has been created. Rather, employees and resources of current departments, notably the Department of Social Development and the Department of Human Resources and Skills Development remain in their own departments. To ensure one stop access for Canadians and to ensure integrated management of this innovative horizontal initiative, these public servants are now under a common management team led by the deputy minister for Service Canada.

However, it is important to note that this deputy minister is not a deputy minister for the purposes of the Financial Administration Act as the member has erroneously suggested. Rather, the deputy ministers of the Department of Human Resources and Skills Development and the Department of Social Development have delegated their responsibilities under the Financial Administration Act in respect of services provided by Service Canada to the deputy minister for Service Canada.

Although the member cited order in council PC 2005-1609 for the proposition that the deputy minister for Service Canada is a deputy minister with her own department, he did not say that under the order in council the deputy minister for Service Canada is cross-appointed as an associate deputy minister to the Department of Human Resources and Skills Development and Social Development Canada.

This reflects the accountability regime that I have just outlined and allows this deputy minister to have horizontal operational responsibility for this important initiative. Given that Service Canada is not a department but rather a horizontal initiative, there is no separate entry in the estimates for Service Canada.

Rather, services provided under this initiative, such as the delivery for example of old age security benefits and the Canada pension plan, are fully accounted for in the estimates of the partner departments I mentioned earlier. To sum up, the hon. member asked two questions to which there are clear answers.

First, where is the legislation authorizing the department of Service Canada? There is such department. Statutory authority for the programs delivered through Service Canada is found in the relevant departmental statutes and program statutes.

Second, where are the Service Canada estimates? They are found in the estimates of the partner departments whose services are being provided through the Service Canada initiative.

There is no affront to Parliament as was suggested by the member. Rather, the government has taken existing programs and expenditures, all fully authorized by Parliament, and has brought them under a horizontal management model that respects both Parliament and the Financial Administration Act.

To include Service Canada in the supplementary estimates would be an improper use of the estimates process, as it would be an example of legislating through the estimates.

On March 22, 2004 the Speaker commented on the practice used during previous governmental reorganizations. The Speaker pointed out that:

--the government may request funds only for programs and activities that have already received parliamentary approval. It may not present in the estimates, requests for departments, agencies or activities which have not yet been granted the appropriate legislative authority by Parliament.

The Speaker concluded that:

The Main Estimates reflect the existing structure of government at the time that they are presented to the House.

Therefore, the exclusion of Service Canada in the supplementary estimates is consistent with the established rules and practices of the House.

Turning to the Downsview Park question, there appear to be two issues again. One issue is the use of one dollar items to carry out transactions. The second issue is whether the transfer of land from one department to another federal entity should form part of the estimates.

With respect to the one dollar items, one dollar items are used in supplementary estimates to seek an alteration in the existing allocation of funds as authorized in the main estimates. They do not seek new or additional funds, but rather reallocate existing spending authorities between votes or provide appropriate authorities. The introduction to supplementary estimates makes this process clear, and it is a practice that has been recognized and followed by successive Parliaments.

Provision for the forgiveness of debts owned by crown corporations is specifically set out in section 24 of the Financial Administration Act, which specifies that “no debt or obligation shall be forgiven in whole or in part otherwise than by or under an Act of Parliament, including an appropriation Act”.

As the Speaker ruled in 1981, the government recognizes that there be no legislating through the estimates.

The creation of a one dollar item, in vote 4a in National Defence for debt forgiveness and a non-budgetary one dollar item, and vote L13a in Office of Infrastructure Canada for the establishment of a borrowing authority, specifically set out in section 101 of the Financial Administration Act, is consistent with the principles outlined above.

With respect to point two, the Auditor General, in her November 2003 report, concluded that the government had addressed the issues raised about Downsview Park's accountability to Parliament and the shortcomings in its corporate structure.

However, the Auditor General, in her November 2004 report, pointed out that:

--the Government of Canada has not requested—and accordingly Parliament has not provided—clear and explicit authority to create and operate an urban park, an initiative that Parc Downsview Park Inc. has undertaken...Furthermore, Parliament has not authorized the related spending of public funds.

On May 19, 2005, the government reconfirmed its previous decision to use part of the Downsview lands for the development of a park and authorized the transfer of specific parcels of land from the Department of National Defence to Downsview Park.

It was considered important to assign a transfer value, while ensuring that parliamentarians had an appreciation of the true value of the asset being transferred to Downsview Park. Accordingly, the government decided that the transfer would take place at net book value, which is the accounting treatment in the books of the government. The government placed a line item in the estimates, as urged by the Auditor General, to ensure that this action was transparent and therefore approved by Parliament.

The Auditor General, in her November 2005 report, stated that:

If the government's decisions of May 2005 are implemented, matters that we have previously brought to Parliament's attention would be resolved. Notably, Parliament's approval for the transfer of the Downsview lands and the financing of the park would be obtained.

In order to ensure complete transparency and to meet the request from the Auditor General, the financial informational components related to the transfer of the land from the Department of National Defence to Downsview Park are being presented to Parliament for approval and not for any mandate authority for such a transfer.

The Auditor General has indicated that she is satisfied with the proposed mechanism in the supplementary estimates which shows that land has in fact been transferred from the Department of National Defence to Downsview Park at no net cost to the corporation.

Accordingly, the government has taken the necessary action, through the inclusion in supplementary estimates (A) 2005-06 of a non-budgetary vote, L11a, in the Office of Infrastructure of Canada to address this outstanding issue.

I therefore submit that the use of one dollar items for Downsview Park in the supplementary estimates conforms to the established rules and practices that have guided this House.

Points of Order
Oral Question Period

3:15 p.m.

The Speaker

I thank the hon. parliamentary secretary for his very thorough review of all the material that he felt was relevant to the point of order raised by the hon. member for Edmonton--St. Albert. I will take his submissions under advisement and, assuming the House is sitting the rest of the week, I will try to get back to the House later this week with a ruling on this very important issue that was raised by the hon. member for Edmonton--St. Albert.

Government Response to Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Beauséjour
New Brunswick

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, thank you for acknowledging the thoroughness of that important response.

Pursuant to Standing Order 36(8), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to 20 petitions.

Interparliamentary Delegations
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

Greg Thompson St. Croix—Belleisle, NB

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34, I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian delegation of the Canada-U.S Interparliamentary Group respecting its participation at the National Governors Association 2005 annual meeting in Des Moines, Iowa, from July 15-18.

I would also like to present to the House, in both official languages, the report respecting the Canada-U.S. Interparliamentary Group at the Council of State Governments, Eastern Regional Conference, 45th annual meeting at Montville, Connecticut from July 25-28.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Steckle Huron—Bruce, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour this afternoon to present to this House, in both official languages, the final report “Financial analysis relative to meat packing companies in the context of the BSE crisis of 2003”.

This is the 10th report from this committee. I believe this report will verify what Canadians have long come to believe, that the packers made exorbitant profit on the backs of Canadians, not only the primary producers but certainly the consumers of Canada. We are glad that this report has been presented before this House adjourns.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

John Maloney Welland, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 18th report of the Standing Committee on Justice, Human Rights, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness.

In accordance with the orders of reference of June 7 and June 27, and its mandate under Standing Order 108(1), the committee has established a subcommittee with a mandate to examine the process for appointments to the federal judiciary and make recommendations for reform.

I wish to thank the member for Charlesbourg--Haute-Saint-Charles, chair of the subcommittee, for bringing forward this initiative, and also the members of the subcommittee and the standing committee for their contributions.

I also have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 19th report of the Standing Committee on Justice, Human Rights, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness.

In accordance with the order of reference of Wednesday, May 4, the committee has considered Bill C-215, an act to amend the Criminal Code (consecutive sentence for use of firearm in commission of offence), and agreed on Monday, November 28 to report it with amendments.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Susan Kadis Thornhill, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the fifth report of the Standing Committee on the Status of Women, entitled “Interim Report on the Maternity and Parental Benefits Under Employment Insurance: The Exclusion of Self-Employed Workers”.

During the course of its study, the committee heard compelling evidence from groups that represent the broad diversity of the self-employed in Canada. The committee heard the perspective of low income self-employed workers such as cleaners and home child care providers, and also from self-employed workers in higher income groups such as lawyers and entrepreneurs.

Given the range of witnesses consulted, it is indeed very telling that all the witnesses who appeared before the committee maintained that maternity and parental benefits should indeed be extended to self-employed workers. Given the changing realities in the Canadian workplace and the importance of investing in our children, the committee urges immediate action to ensure that self-employed workers are made eligible for maternity and parental benefits including employment insurance benefits.

Pursuant to Standing Order 109 the committee has requested a comprehensive government response.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Raymonde Folco Laval—Les Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 11th report of the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills Development, Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities regarding the 2004-05 report on the implementation of the Centennial Flame Research Award Act.

Excise Tax Act
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

James Bezan Selkirk—Interlake, MB

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-458, An Act to amend the Excise Tax Act (no excise tax on fuel for farmers and fishermen).

Mr. Speaker, I am proud today to introduce my private member's bill to eliminate the federal excise tax charged on fuel used in farming and in the fishing industry.

Farmers are in dire straits right now. If we can deliver a tax break on one of the largest farm inputs, it would help restore profits in the farming industry. Public policy has long dictated that tax should not be built into the cost of food to consumers, who enjoy high quality food products at affordable prices. Fishers in my riding of Selkirk--Interlake and across the country would benefit from the tax reduction on their inputs as well.

The bill would eliminate the 10¢ excise tax on gasoline and the 4¢ tax on diesel fuel used by fishermen and farmers. This would help lower the input cost to farmers who are currently selling many commodities at below the cost of production while absorbing years of losses caused by BSE, trade disputes, droughts, early frosts and flooding.

As the WTO tries to move toward greater liberalization of trade in agriculture, it is important that we develop policy that is viewed as WTO-green. This tax break would fit in perfectly. This initiative would allow farmers and fishermen to keep those dollars in their pockets.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Canada Health Act
Routine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-459, An Act to amend the Canada Health Act (Autism Spectrum Disorder).

Mr. Speaker, one out of every 166 persons in the country has an autistic child. The purpose of this enactment is to ensure that the costs of applied behavioural analysis, ABA, or intensive behavioural intervention, IBI, for autistic persons is covered under the health care insurance plan of every province and territory.

It is a sin that children who have autism are not covered under our health care act. It is time for that to change. The bill would do exactly that.

I would encourage all members of Parliament to rapidly move this to third reading, pass it through the Senate and have it done by this evening.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)