House of Commons Hansard #120 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was lake.

Topics

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain Payments
Government Orders

3:40 p.m.

Conservative

Ed Komarnicki Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Small units--

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain Payments
Government Orders

3:40 p.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, he asked a question. He should listen to the answer.

The hon. member is arguing, of course, that there is not enough assistance to agriculture. For the beef producers of my area, and of course for the dairy producers and in regard to the cull cattle and so on, there is only one long term solution and that is opening up the Canada-U.S. border. We all know, of course, that this is the case. Some 50% of all the cattle produced in Canada are for export.

The hon. member asked me to comment on the legitimacy of the government. I believe he asked a question about the confidence vote. He will know that a motion referring something to a committee is not a confidence vote. No one really believes that, and I suspect that not even he does.

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain Payments
Government Orders

June 21st, 2005 / 3:40 p.m.

Conservative

Jim Gouk Southern Interior, BC

Mr. Speaker, I heard the hon. member mention that he was writing his memoirs. While I disagree radically with the hon. member's politics, I do respect that he is someone who likes to get things right and who works very hard at his job. I would like to make three points for the hon. member relative to what he said today.

First of all, he kept referring to the Conservative Party under Brian Mulroney and in the past. I would like to remind the member that his was the Progressive Conservative Party. Like the Alliance Party, and certainly like the government with all its faults now, each of us had some problems in the past, so we formed a new party using the best of both of those organizations, with a new policy and a completely new platform. He is talking apples and oranges.

Second, the Progressive Conservative Party that he refers to as adding this high amount to the debt was subject to the highest interest rates in my entire lifetime, international interest rates, not Canadian interest rates. Around the world at that time, interest rates were the highest that they have ever been in my lifetime. Right now, this government, while taking credit for what it is doing, is subject to the lowest interest rates in my entire lifetime.

Finally, the point I would like to make to the member is that the highest amount of debt that we have ever had in one year in this country, adjusted for constant dollars, was under a Liberal finance minister named Jean Chrétien.

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain Payments
Government Orders

3:40 p.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for some of his points. He talked about the high interest rates. I remind him that when the interest rates were at their high during the Reagan right-wing years, the Canadian rates were higher than the U.S. rates. Under this government the Canadian rates have been at par with or often lower than the U.S. rates because of the excellent management.

The hon. member corrected me about the Progressive Conservatives versus the present Conservatives and I do apologize for that. I do not want anyone across the way to think that I accused them of being progressive.

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain Payments
Government Orders

3:40 p.m.

Conservative

Bob Mills Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, I was certainly pleased to hear the member's speech. I would like to bring the member up to date on some other facts, because he gave us many facts. I will start with 12 or 14 years ago when we became involved in what are real problems for this country. That of course was the serious debt that the country was getting into.

I remind him that in 1969 we had zero debt. Under Mr. Trudeau and Mr. Chrétien, who were then the prime minister and the finance minister, it went to $18 billion by 1971. By 1984 it was up to $170 billion to $180 billion. From there it went up to $480 billion by 1993. Of course today it is at $530 billion. Basically, some $40 billion a year is spent simply on interest payments.

That is what concerned us. That is why we came here. Our philosophy was to leave money in people's pockets, let them spend it with less government, less bureaucracy. That was the philosophical reason behind why we came here.

Of course, we came to a tax and spend Liberal government and that has not changed. The fiscal recklessness of that party is only demonstrated by Bill C-48, the Buzz Hargrove budget, where $4.6 billion was spent to buy 19 votes in a hotel room in Toronto.

My constituents are seniors and low income single moms who have to pay their income tax. They are farmers who have the lowest grain prices they have had for many years. They are young farmers who are losing their farms because they cannot make their mortgage payments because of the cattle crisis. Imagine what they think about this hotel room budget drawn up on a serviette. Really it is a blank cheque.

I remind the NDP and the Liberals that is the way to get sponsorship, to get ad scam, the way to get Shawinigate, the HRDC boondoggle and the gun registry, the nine foundations where money has been socked away unaccounted for and not audited. That is how to get a blank cheque which is what we have received from this. There are few details. There is no accountability. Certainly from my perspective and from my constituents' perspective, this is a disgrace.

As far as the environment is concerned, there is $900 million budgeted and $800 million for rapid transit. Obviously we think that is a worthwhile project. We would like to see some details, however. We would like to know how that is going to be invested, how it is going to be accounted for, and how we are not going to lose it all in bureaucracy. As far as the $100 million that environment gets, again I am sure that the Liberals will find a way to dispose of that with no business plan, no vision and really no long term planning.

What else has the government done? The last speaker talked about how great we are and how we are leaders in so many areas. Let me mention a few examples, and I hope the member has his pen in hand so he can take notes on this. As the critic for the environment, I feel it is my job to read into the record some of the statistics for the member's benefit. He and I have been here quite a while now, he for much longer than I have, but he would be interested in this.

In terms of sulphur dioxide, the OECD rates us 27th in terms of our release per capita out of 28 countries. For nitrous oxide, we are 25th out of 28. For volatile organic compounds, we are 25th out of 26 analyzed. Does that possibly let the member know why we have a record number of smog days in Toronto, Ottawa and many other cities? If he looked at those figures, he would see that we are at the bottom or within one position of the bottom. For carbon monoxide, we are 26th out of 27. For greenhouse gas emissions, we are 27th out of 29. For water consumption, we are 28th out of 29.

I will try to go a little slower so the member can get all of this down. In terms of energy consumption, Canada is 27th out of 29. For energy efficiency, we are 28th out of 29. In terms of recycling glass and paper, we are 23rd out of 27. For hazardous waste production, we are 24th out of 27. For nuclear waste and storage, we are 28th out of 28. For consumption of ozone and ozone depleting substances, we are 13th out of 16 analyzed. For fertilizer use, we are 25th out of 28. For the volume of fish caught, kilogram per capita, we are 20th out of 28. For forest consumption in cubic metres per capita, we are 27th out of 29.

Members can see that this country is at the bottom in terms of environmental rating. That is not the kind of stewardship that I think the member would like to brag about. Obviously he decided to ignore some of those figures in his comments when he was bragging about where we were at.

Again I come back to the taxpayers who are asking, “What is happening? What is the government doing? How can it come up with a budget of $4.6 billion after it has already come out with a budget of $170 billion plus? How can it do that?” It is strictly politics. The Liberals are playing politics with our country.

Members who have travelled very much can see that when they go to other countries. They see how our influence is declining. We are not able to maintain the status we used to have largely because the government has lacked vision. It has lacked a vision of where we are going. There is no plan. There are no details. The government has no direction.

As a result, while the last speaker said that our country is a great success story, I would put forward from an environmental perspective that it is anything but that. Actually, we have a long way to go. When we talk about it, we should put some options forward.

What would the Conservatives do? I have elaborated a number of times in the House on some of the things we would deal with. We would deal with a clean air plan. That would deal with all of the products that are producing the pollution and smog that is infecting our cities and causing health problems for so many of our seniors and young people.

We would deal with the water. We would map our aquifers and deal with how our water exchange is occurring. We would plan with the provinces just how to deal with that. We would deal with the cross-border issues. Whether it is the St. Lawrence, the Great Lakes, Devils Lake or the Fraser Valley and the Sumas River, we would deal with those as issues and we would have a plan. The environment takes long term planning.

In terms of soil, we have contaminated sites. Just about every municipality has brownfields, such as a street corner where a service station used to be but which closed long ago. Services pass and the municipality gets no taxes from that area. If we really want to help municipalities, we can help them find solutions to clean up those brownfields.

Along with that, of course, there is conservation. There is preservation of our watersheds. That becomes most pertinent when we look at some of the flooding and so on that is occurring today.

Finally, we need to deal with energy. We need to deal with how we are going to protect our present fossil fuel industries in the long term, how we are going to develop conservation, transitional fuels, alternate energy and all those exciting areas we can get into.

Above all, it takes vision. It takes a plan. I say that Bill C-48 is an example of no plan, no direction and is considered to be totally despicable by the constituents in my riding.

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain Payments
Government Orders

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, my colleague invited me to note some of his remarks. I was pleased to listen to the entire speech, but there were a couple of things missing from what he said.

The hon. member talked about the environment. It is a big concern for many of us. He no doubt will remember that it was his own party, perhaps under his leadership--I forget whether he was the environment critic then--that opposed so ferociously the Kyoto accord, where all countries need to get together to improve on the quality of the environment.

I live in the province of Ontario downwind from the Ohio-Mississippi Valley. I know what it is like to live in the area of that smog. I have lived here all my life. Most of that smog is generated in the United States, more particularly, a lot of it in the states of Ohio and Michigan.

In addition, he will no doubt know that under the Conservative premiership of Mike Harris and his successor in Ontario, there was no action on the plans which probably by now would have shut down the largest source of pollution in North America, the Nanticoke coal fired generating station on the shores of Lake Erie. None of this happened after the years of Conservative government that we had in Ontario. The Government of Canada does not generate electricity at Nanticoke. That is the largest single source of pollution.

Second, I never was satisfied, nor were my constituents, as to why the member so vehemently opposed the Kyoto protocol enabling Canada and other countries to get together, put pressure on the United States and anyone else who is not joining in so that we can together fight the pollution that exists in the northern hemisphere.

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain Payments
Government Orders

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

Bob Mills Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member's question gives me an opportunity to explain to him and this House again why supporting Kyoto is just a pipe dream, why it is not going to achieve any of the things that he supposes it might.

I should remind him as well that it was the Liberal government that last week decided not to close the coal fired power plants. I would like to explain to him again as simply as I can that Kyoto is about greenhouse gases, largely CO

2

. CO

2

is not part of pollution. It is not part of smog days. Smog is caused by sulphur dioxide, nitrous oxide, particulate matter and surface ozone. That is what smog is. If every country in the world signed on to Kyoto and lived up to Kyoto, it would not change the smog issue very much because it is not targeting the right thing.

The bureaucracy of the whole Kyoto protocol is what the problem is. The problem as well is that the U.S., China and India are not part of this whole program.

I am glad he brought up coal because coal is pretty interesting. What would we do? We would promote the gasification of coal, technology that is 60 years old that is being used in other places and that is being really promoted in the U.S. Think if we developed that technology and became world leaders. We have enough coal in Canada to last us several hundred years. The Americans have approximately 1,500 years' supply of coal. Think about gasifying that.

Right now, if we developed that technology and could promote that technology, think of what we would do. Some 81% of China's electricity comes from coal; 78% of India's electricity comes from coal; 57% of the United States' energy comes from coal; 25% of Ontario's energy comes from coal; 70% of Alberta's energy comes from coal. Think if we developed the technology how much better it would be to market that technology around the world than it would be to send money to foreign countries so that they can develop the technology and compete with us.

How does that make any sense at all, sending money offshore when we could develop it and use a made in Canada development of technology? That is why we oppose it, because it is not going to accomplish the targets. We will not hit our targets and neither will most other countries signing on to Kyoto.

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain Payments
Government Orders

4 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, I was ready to ask a question which I have been trying to do all day, but I am happy to enter the debate and then perhaps we could still have an exchange.

It was disappointing to hear the comments made by the member for Red Deer about how much his party would like to see real development of clean coal technology as part of the answer to the climate change problem that we are dealing with.

One of the things that the Liberal government did when the finance minister, now the Prime Minister, decided to swing a meat axe at public spending in general was to make the biggest cuts to environment spending in the history of this country.

The Conservative Party, and to be fair it was then the Reform Party before it became the Alliance, was absolutely silent on the decision of the government to shut down important research that was taking place at the time in Cape Breton in the coal industry. His party was silent on how to develop clean coal technology, to get it on track, and to ensure that we could both continue to use coal in a safer, cleaner way and at the same time continue to be responsible to meet our environmental commitments.

In some ways, one of the things that makes this debate hard to stomach is the fact that we hear day after day from the Conservative members of the House about the sins and omissions of the Liberal government. For the last couple of weeks since the devastating Supreme Court decision on health care, we have heard from the Conservative benches again and again that our health care system is in crisis. We have heard how we now have two tier health care alive and well and progressing. That is actually a legacy of the Liberal government and it has been brought to us compliments of the former Liberal finance minister who is now the Prime Minister.

That is in part true, but it is also true that the Conservative official opposition was front and centre, used its might and muscle to scream, yell and demand cuts in social spending. When we heard the bragging of the then finance minister that his Liberal government had reduced social spending to the lowest level since the second world war, the Conservative official opposition did not do a thing to use the opportunity that its numbers to get the government to stop taking us down the road to two tier health care. Why? Because that party, not in words but in fact, supports that direction.

Now we are dealing with the debate on Bill C-48. We have heard member after member revile the NDP caucus because we are propping up these corrupt Liberals. That is why the Conservative opposition says that it cannot support Bill C-48 because this will be propping up the corrupt Liberals.

That begs the question and sort of circumvents the question that if that is the position of the official opposition on Bill C-48, that this is nothing more than the NDP propping up corrupt Liberals, how is it that the Conservatives in about 10 seconds of hearing the Liberal budget before the amendments and the changes brought in by Bill C-48, and before the add-ons that in fact make it a better balanced and more progressive budget, could not wait to get to the microphones fast enough? The Conservative leader was out before those microphones endorsing that budget in a whipstitch. Why? It was because he liked that budget a lot. It had massive tax cuts. That was the explanation given.

How was that not propping up the corrupt Liberals when the Conservatives stood up and said that they were going to vote for that budget? How was it not seen by them as a confidence vote and that they would be somehow evasive and irresponsible about not saying that they were prepared to support this budget?

It is a little hypocritical. There is a little problem in that it is convenient to criticize the Liberal budget. I would have thought the Conservatives would have a much harder time defending Bill C-43 with their constituents than the better balanced budget that we now have as a result of Bill C-48.

I would have thought that Bill C-43 would be more difficult for the Conservatives to defend in their constituencies who sent them here. After the massive cuts that the Liberal government engaged in, particularly affordable housing, post-secondary education, environmental initiatives, public transit and international development assistance, how could the Conservative official opposition not support the program to begin restoring some of the funds to those fundamentally important initiatives?

I keep listening to hear some rationale for why the substance of Bill C-48 is unsupportable. We heard last week and we heard again earlier this week, because it is convenient politically for the Conservatives to say so, that the Liberals wear the responsibility. It is the Liberal Party's legacy for having put our public not for profit health care system into such crisis and into such jeopardy, and we need to do something about that.

How is it not possible for this official opposition to not see that the same is true with respect to post-secondary education? The Liberal government has put our post-secondary education system into crisis with its reckless, unilateral massive cuts.

Applying the logic that governments should keep their promises, there is not one member on the Conservative benches that does not know that the Prime Minister, during the election campaign in 2004, committed to restore up to $8 billion that was gutted from our post-secondary education core funding. It was a specific commitment made to begin the restoration.

The NDP better balanced budget does not for a minute get us to the restoration of the core funding that would ensure that we could begin the rebuilding. Without the NDP investment of post-secondary education funds, that is contained in Bill C-48 that those Conservatives are going to vote against, we have only reached the level of post-secondary education core funding that was in place in 1995.

Ten years later we do not have it. However, these Conservatives cannot even bring themselves to begin the process of rebuilding the post-secondary education infrastructure, the quality of education having been significantly eroded at the same time that tuition fees have skyrocketed. They have skyrocketed because of the massive withdrawal of funds at the federal level and because of the weakening of needs based grants for students. Nobody on those benches seems prepared to acknowledge that they are about to vote against the restoration of at least $1.5 billion in funds of the $8 billion taken out.

Similarly with affordable housing. I heard several people in the rhetorical flourishes say that we need to ensure that people have affordable housing, so their families can live in comfort and dignity like the rest of us. The member for Central Nova said that as well as some others.

It is a known fact that we had in this country the best social housing program of any country in the industrial world. Canada was seen as a model. We were invited to go around the world and share that model with people. It was eliminated by the Chrétien government. The Conservative bench is not prepared to restore at least $1.6 billion toward rebuilding that affordable housing.

I look forward to debate some of the substance in the better balanced NDP budget that is contained in Bill C-48.

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain Payments
Government Orders

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Bradley Trost Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

Mr. Speaker, the member for Halifax was quite eloquent about all the wonderful imaginary things that would supposedly come through this budget.

I remember reading this short bill and thinking of all the different shell games the Liberals have played over the years. They say one thing and do another. I will give the House an example.

For many years there has been bracket creep, a de facto tax increase because of inflation. It is a tax hike which is automatically built into the system. When the Minister of Finance and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance stopped those systematic and continuous tax hikes after many years of criticism from the Conservative Party, they claimed it was a tax cut. It is weird and twisted logic that the lack of a tax hike is a tax cut. I use that as an example because whenever we look at a piece of government legislation, we are not always sure what we are getting. For example, a lack of a tax hike being calculated as a tax cut.

When I looked at the bill, I began to see what it was. It was vague generalities without any accountability. I believe $500 million is listed for foreign aid. Knowing the reputation of the government and how it defines things, I thought that it could define subsidies to a business connected to the Liberal Party or perhaps to many other things as foreign aid instead of something substantive and real such as money for wells in Africa, immunization programs et cetera.

We in the Conservative Party are not naive about how the Liberals do things. Why were the NDP so naive as to actually believe the Liberals meant what they said? How does the NDP know that at the end of the day the Liberals will not play shell games with the finance books, make spending adjustments in other areas, and that this will actually come to pass?

The hon. member believes that every last expenditure in the bill would build a better society. Fair enough. I do not necessarily agree. Does she actually believe, with the government's lack of credibility, that it will actually deliver?

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain Payments
Government Orders

4:10 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, I cannot even tell members how much I welcome that question. That is a wonderful question for us to debate here. I feel that we could actually begin to deal with the substance of Bill C-48 if we could continue down this path.

I do not believe that the Liberals can be trusted to just deliver what they have promised. God knows, there is a lot of evidence that they cannot be. But that brings us to the question of what is the responsibility of opposition members who are elected to this place.

Sometimes I think the Conservative Party has such a problem with power envy that it does not have any intention of using the official opposition numbers it has in the House and it is not prepared to understand that it is the job of members of Parliament to try to make this Parliament and government work. The way in which we are challenged and charged with making government work is to take the privilege that we have been given as members of Parliament to come here and advance the things that Canadians need.

I intend no disrespect to the Speaker's rulings when I say this, but it is pretty obvious that the opposition bench has no respect for the rule of relevancy, never mind consistency. We are debating four specific measures to do with affordable housing, accessible education and better training, cleaner air and public transit, and finally beginning to meet our commitments to overseas development assistance, something the Conservative Party has actually voted in favour of at committee level but cannot vote for here.

We are debating those four measures in Bill C-48. What I have heard from those members in just the last few hours is discussion about bracket creep, conditional sentencing, prostitution, pornography, age of sexual consent, gun registries and tax havens. I have to wonder if these members have any interest not just in making this minority Parliament work but in making government work at all.

I will go back to the question that was raised. Do I trust the Liberals to do what they say they are going to do? Not for a moment. I am here to make sure they do what they said they were going to do. That is how a democracy works and that is especially how a minority Parliament can work.

The more I listen to all the talk coming from the Conservative corner about corruption, lack of accountability and broken promises, the more I think that Canadians must actually be asking themselves what the official opposition has been doing. If there have been this many problems with the Liberals, I would say there is a pretty big indictment of the Conservatives' failure to do their job in getting the Liberals to deliver on what they have promised and to get the Liberals to be held accountable for any corrupt measures or malpractice that is going on.

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain Payments
Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine
Québec

Liberal

Marlene Jennings Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister (Canada—U.S.)

Mr. Speaker, the questions and comments that just took place were quite interesting.

It is my honour and privilege to rise this evening to speak to Bill C-48, which I believe is a concrete example of this Liberal government's commitment to continue to invest in Canada's social foundations and the commitment of this government to make minority Parliament work.

I think it is a strong indication to all Canadians, ordinary Canadians, that the Liberal government, with the assistance of the NDP, has put the interests of ordinary Canadians before partisanship, before personal political interest, before--

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain Payments
Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

An hon. member

Saving your own skin.

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain Payments
Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Jennings Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

The member opposite says saving our own skin. It has nothing to do with saving our own skin.

It has to do with building on Bill C-43, the government's February-March budget, which already had increased investments in these four areas of affordable housing, post-secondary education, the environment and foreign aid.

With the assistance of the NDP, to ensure that we continue to build on and improve the social foundations here in Canada in these four crucial areas, Bill C-48 was given birth. It was not a painful birth. Most women who have been through childbirth would say that it was a relatively easy birth, because it built on values that the Liberal Party of Canada holds dear, that the Liberal government holds dear.

I want to speak on two specific areas. I wish to speak on the affordable housing initiative and the increased investment into that and on the environment.

Why would I want to speak on those two issues? My riding of Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, which, since the electoral boundaries reform, also includes what is the city of Dorval, includes some areas which have been deemed in the province of Quebec to be the highest poverty areas, the areas with the highest level of dropouts and the greatest need for social housing and affordable housing.

I can give one concrete example that is helping several hundred families in NDG, families that would not have had access to social and affordable housing had it not been for this government's reinvestment and re-engagement in affordable housing and social housing and with the homelessness initiative. I want to talk about the Benny Farm veterans housing.

Benny Farm, to many across Canada, is very familiar. It was veterans housing that was built after World War II to house veterans and their families. Over the years, we have had fewer veterans to live in that housing. The housing, which was owned and run by CMHC, was beginning to fall into disrepair because investments were not being made in upkeep and buildings were being left vacant and actually becoming derelict.

Back in the 1980s, CMHC began a whole process. It wanted to get a zoning bylaw to literally demolish all of the buildings to build high-rises, to sell the land to private developers for luxurious apartments and condominiums. Ordinary citizens in NDG and across Montreal protested and were successful in blocking that kind of development for over a decade.

My predecessor, who represented the NDG part of this riding, the Hon. Warren Allmand, was part of that citizen engagement to try to get the federal government to go back into affordable housing, to go back into social housing and ensure that people in Montreal would have a venue where they could actually live, work and raise their families and not have buildings falling down.

When I was first elected in 1997, that was one of the first issues that I engaged in. I participated with the community activists and representatives of ordinary citizens in NDG in order to convince the government to transfer and sell the property to Canada Lands and to get the government to start a homelessness initiative and an affordable housing initiative. Thanks be to God, in 2000 the government made that commitment and began those investments.

As a result of that, today those buildings are in the process of being renovated. Some of the renovations have actually been completed. They have been purchased by cooperative housing. They have been purchased by organizations that work with and provide social housing for young, unmarried women or single parents who are in school but have to provide for their children. Actual families are living there besides the veterans and their relatives and the living survivors of veterans, who are living in new buildings that have been created.

Benny Farm, which has become a model of citizen engagement on the housing issue, would not have existed had it not been for the government's commitment to Canadians.

I want to thank the NDP for also having the issue of housing close to its heart, because it has helped us further our commitment in the area of affordable housing. On the issue of homelessness, that is part of affordable housing. It is part of ensuring that ordinary Canadians do not have to live on the street and that they have real solutions, durable solutions, particularly for those who suffer from mental illness.

I can give another example of an organization, this time in Lachine, which only began in 1997-98 to deal with residents who suffer from mental illness. One of the main problems we have with regard to this part of our population is that at times they are hospitalized for significant periods of time in order to follow treatment. When those individuals come out of the hospital they no longer have any housing and they end up on the street.

There is now an initiative, thanks to the homelessness initiative that the Minister of Labour and Housing, formerly the minister for housing and homelessness, was involved in. A 24 unit building is now going up in Lachine in order to ensure that residents in that borough who suffer from mental illness, and who as a result of the effects of their mental illness no longer have housing, will have housing. They will have the social services on site in order to assist them in continuing to take an active and healthy part in the ordinary life and society of that community.

The additional investment that Bill C-48 foresees for housing is extremely important. It is something that ordinary Canadians want to see. It is something that Quebeckers want to see.

The last piece that I want to address is the issue of the environment. I am so pleased that the government has ratified Kyoto, that the government has come out with its green plan, its action plan to implement Kyoto, and I am so pleased that both Bill C-43 and Bill C-48 involve billions of dollars to ensure that we meet our Kyoto protocol commitments, including investing in sustainable energy sources such as wind power.

I want to thank the members of the chamber who have been here to listen to this. I do not thank those who heckled, but I do thank those who listened attentively.

I want to thank all the members on this side of the House, which includes the Liberals and the New Democrats, for their support of Bill C-48. I admonish the Bloc members who will not be supporting Bill C-48 unless they change their minds, because there are good things for Quebeckers. Anyone who claims to have Quebec and Quebeckers' interests at heart will be supporting Bill C-48.

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain Payments
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4:25 p.m.

Conservative

Colin Carrie Oshawa, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for her comments, especially the one about affordable housing. I was wondering if she was aware that back in 1998 the Liberal government put aside $2.2 billion for affordable housing and there is still $1.8 billion left in the kitty.

The problem is the way the system has been put together. The province has to match the federal money to put forth these projects. Because of the Liberal cutbacks, many of the provinces do not have the money to provide affordable housing for Canadians who need it. Also, the way that the housing initiative is set up now is very wasteful. In other words, a lot more money is being spent to build affordable housing that could be done in the private sector.

I ask the member, why throw more money into a system that does not appear to be working when, because there is a glut of real estate, we could immediately be giving tax credits to seniors and people who actually need it and get them into affording housing right away?

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain Payments
Government Orders

4:25 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Jennings Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would invite the hon. member from the Conservative Party to do a little more homework and research. If he did so, he would know that the federal government's affordable housing program in fact invites and encourages private developers to be involved in partnership in affordable housing. In my riding, Benny Farm has private developers who are involved in building affordable housing. Private developers are there.

It also encourages partnership with co-ops. It encourages partnerships with municipalities and municipal governments that run their own social housing. It encourages partnership with, for instance, Habitat for Humanity. The great thing about the affordable housing program and about the homelessness initiative is that they allow for partnerships from all interested stakeholders, including the private sector.

I can only speak for Quebec. It is working in Quebec. Housing is going up. There are real people who are living in that housing, who did not have housing before or who were paying upwards of 50% of their net income and in some cases gross income on housing. Now they are paying no more than 25% or 30% of their income on housing. It is working. I do not know about where the member comes from, but it is working in Quebec.

My understanding is that the agreement has just been signed in Ontario. It will be working in Ontario with cooperative housing. If it is not working already, it will be working in B.C., Saskatchewan, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, the Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Yukon. Maybe the only place it is not working is in Alberta and perhaps it is because of the Conservatives.