House of Commons Hansard #7 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was crime.

Topics

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

1:20 p.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, to try to link the accountability act to absolutely everything is an interesting proposition. I do not think we need to even go that far, assuming that one could go that far, because we are not talking about the need to link accountability and the Auditor General.

For instance, I believe the minister has had a report on this matter for three weeks now and nothing has happened. There is a need for both the Government of Quebec and the Government of Canada, through their appropriate ministers, to get on the same page to ensure the city has a great festival, which obviously it can have because it did, but there have been some difficulties in recent years. Through our respective agencies, SODEC or Telefilm, we have the means to ensure that gets straightened out. It takes a little leadership from the government to do that.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

1:25 p.m.

Liberal

Joe McGuire Egmont, PE

Mr. Speaker, in a democracy, the greatest gift people can bestow on a fellow citizen is that of being their representative in their government. I am pleased and humbled that the people of the riding of Egmont have chosen me six times for that honour.

One of the four ridings in P.E.I., Egmont encompasses the western part of Prince Edward Island from the city of Summerside to North Cape. It includes the city of Summerside, the main Acadian areas of P.E.I., the Evangeline area, St. Edward-St. Louis, numerous fishing villages and farming communities, the Lennox Island First Nation, the home of P.E.I.'s fledgling aerospace industry in Slemon Park and the wind power facility in North Cape.

I want to thank the people of Egmont for their continued trust and support.

I also want to, during this Easter season, commend our troops in Afghanistan for their services to Canada and to that unfortunate country. I wish them and their families here at home a happy Easter to all. We are proud of all of them.

In the last Parliament I was privileged to be the minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency. I would like to thank the prime minister of the Liberal government and all those who supported me in my role as minister.

I had the opportunity to work with many of the individuals, businesses, non-profit organizations and governments. I believe together we accomplished a lot. Most notably, we were able to secure a $708 million package for Atlantic Canada that will continue to foster economic development in our region over the next few years.

We have a $300 million Atlantic innovation fund, the R and D arm of ACOA, which was put in place in the year 2000 by the Liberal government and was continued in the last Liberal budget and which I see the present minister having a great deal of pleasure with these days in making announcements through Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.

We also had a $175 million innovation fund, the innovative communities fund, which is designed for rural communities and for community development.

ACOA plays an important and vital role in the economic development of Atlantic Canada. The men and women who work at the federal agency should be proud of their accomplishments. Their goal to help our region prosper is a noble one and I applaud their efforts. I was proud to be their minister and I wish them and all of their partners extended success.

Atlantic Canada must continue to strive to get its share of national investment in the area. It still has not reached that point yet and we still have a lot of work to do.

I would now like to touch on two key issues in my reply to the Speech from the Throne, that of fiscal responsibility and strong families. I would like to quote page 3 of the throne speech which states:

Through hard work, foresight and good fortune, we have come together to make our vast country one of the most successful the world has ever seen.

The distance we have travelled is remarkable. A country once perceived to be at the edge of the world is now at the leading edge of science, business, the arts and sport. Whether it is on the podium in Turin, on the rugged hills of Afghanistan, or in the bustling markets of Asia, Canadians demonstrate time and time again that they are leaders.

The Government is proud of what Canadians have accomplished so far, and is inspired by the country's bright prospects.

That is the true legacy left by the Chrétien-Martin governments over the past 13 years.

First I would like to comment on the issue of fiscal responsibility--

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

1:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

The hon. member is experienced in this House and probably will know the rules better than the man who sits in the Chair now. I would like to remind the hon. member and all hon. members that we do not name sitting members by name but by the names of their constituencies. Earlier this morning I admonished a member of the government side. It also is a matter for the members of the opposition.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

1:30 p.m.

Liberal

Joe McGuire Egmont, PE

Mr. Speaker, first, I would like to comment on the issue of fiscal responsibility. I am pleased to hear the government claim that it will follow the lead of our previous Liberal government. The Liberal government showed tremendous leadership by tackling and overcoming our nation's debilitating annual deficits.

As a result of the leadership demonstrated by the Liberal government, our federal government and our country has been able to boast of eight consecutive balanced budgets and has set the groundwork for our nation's books to remain positive. We will watch, with interest, to see that the government keeps its promise and maintains the positive legacy of the Liberal government, a legacy of strong fiscal and social management. The key to a prosperous nation is having one's fiscal house in order.

Our Liberal government was able to maintain strong growth by building on economic achievements, including, as I mentioned, eight consecutive balanced budgets, over $60 billion paid off on the national debt and more than $150 billion in tax savings. Our country is flourishing as a result of strong fiscal management. The national unemployment rate has gone from 11.2% in 1993 to 6.6% this past October, the lowest rate in 30 years. In 2004 we had the fastest growth in exports in more than seven years. Between January 2003 and October 2005, 650,000 new jobs were created, nearly all of which were full time. That is millions of jobs over the past 13 years.

Once our Liberal government accomplished the feat of balancing the books, we were able to invest in important priorities to Canadians. We were able to invest heavily in health care, in our children, in research and development and in the environment.

We made investments that encouraged growth in a knowledge-based economy and led to further job creation. Investments such as the Wind Interpretive Centre and the National Wind Institute in P.E.I. are two examples. These two facilities have put my home province of Prince Edward Island in the forefront of wind power generation. These positive investments have already captured national and international attention from those interested in the development of environmentally friendly, renewable energy sources. The knowledge garnered at these facilities is being shared across the country and will lead to further developments in wind power, creating new jobs and renewable energy sources that will help fuel a growing nation.

A prosperous nation, with a federal government that abides by the rule of balancing the books and paying off the national debt, is able to make investments, the kind of investments that make our country the envy of nations.

I believe one of the strongest investments we can make is by investing in strong families. Our future is our young people. Our Liberal Party has been very vocal and active in supporting families. I am proud that our Liberal government created the national child benefit, a program touted as being the most significant national social program since medicare. Payments under the national child benefit are projected to reach $10 billion annually by 2007-08 by which time the maximum benefit for a two-child family will be $6,259 per year. About 40% of Canadian families with children benefit from this important program.

Our Liberal government also brought in the Canada child tax benefit supplement, which provides an additional benefit for families caring for children under the age of seven at home. The benefit currently provides $243 per year for each child, and last year it helped support 2.4 million children. This supplement is on top of the Canada child tax benefit which is providing a tax free monthly payment to help low and middle income families with the cost of raising children. About 80% of Canadian families benefit from the CCTB.

I believe the principle of strong families is also a Liberal legacy that I hope, and I believe Canadians hope, to see the Conservative government maintain.

One of our greatest achievements as a Liberal government in the last Parliament was the establishment of a brand new social program. We marked an historic milestone when we were able to get a consensus with all provinces to establish the framework for a national, affordable, quality early learning and child care program. Affordable child care is something Canadians want. Once we had our fiscal house in order, we worked with our provincial partners and together we can be proud of what we achieved.

My fear, however, is that the Conservative government will undo all that has been accomplished. The Conservatives appear to have no intention of abiding by the agreement that was signed by all our provincial partners. Instead, the Conservative government feels that providing parents with $100 a month is better. How does $5 a day help with the cost of child care?

The tidbit about encouraging others to create child care spaces is not the kind of leadership Canadians want. The federal Liberal government showed leadership by working with the provinces to get the commitment to create quality child care spaces.

I urge the Conservative government to rethink its position and support our families and our children by living up to an agreement, by expanding it, not contracting it, an agreement which all our provincial partners agreed to in the last number of years.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

1:35 p.m.

Conservative

Barry Devolin Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened with some interest as my Liberal colleague talked about the Liberal day care plan. My recollection of history is a little different. I remember that in 1993 the Liberals promised a national child care program. In 1997 the Liberals promised a national child care program. In 2000 they promised a national child care program. In 2004 they promised a national child care program. After the 2004 election, with some fanfare, the member who became social development minister took this on, and many people in Canada thought that this promise, after 11 years and four elections, might actually be kept.

I happened to sit on the committee of human resources, skills development and social development in the last election. We also anticipated that the government would bring forward legislation to create a national child care program. That did not happen.

The reality is that today there is no national child care program in Canada. The previous government did not create a program. The last government made an allocation of $5 billion over five years, roughly $1 billion a year. With great fanfare during the recent campaign, it increased that to $10 billion over 10 years, which still sounds a whole lot like $1 billion a year. It could have said $20 billion over 20 years or $50 billion over 50 years, but it said $10 billion over 10 years, which is essentially the same thing.

There is no national child care program. The previous government never passed a program. What the minister did was negotiate a series of bilateral deals with provinces to give them money.

Why does my hon. colleague perpetuate the myth that in 13 years the Liberal government created a national child care program when it never did? There is none today. How does he answer to people who wanted that, but it was never delivered? How does he sit here today browbeating this government, saying we are going to cancel something that does not exist?

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

1:35 p.m.

Liberal

Joe McGuire Egmont, PE

Mr. Speaker, in 1993 we promised a national child care program, but we first had to deal with the $43 billion deficit left by the Mulroney government. After the deficit was slain and we started paying down the debt to bring us back from the precipice of fiscal disaster, we were able then to reinvest the savings we accumulated because of the hard decisions that we made in the first two terms of our government.

We started by reintroducing the money for the medicare program and many other social and economic development programs that we needed to build the country. As I quoted from the Speech from the Throne a few minutes ago, we are leaving our country in tremendous shape. We also had negotiated agreements with each of the provincial governments for a national day care program. That is a fact. It was budgeted and it was in our last budget. The commitment was there and it was made in 2004.

Because the Conservatives believe they have a better way, they are going to scrap those negotiations with Conservative, NDP and Liberal governments across the country. That commitment was made by all the provinces. Now we are going to disenfranchise a lot of the people and organizations counting on this federal money to set up a truly national program. It is not going to happen because the government is not going to let it happen.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

1:40 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, according to the member from P.E.I., the world is wonderful, but some farmers, fishermen, forestry workers and shipyard workers would beg to differ.

Will he assist the NDP and the Bloc to push the Conservative government to move forward the shipbuilding policy, which has been sitting on the desk of the industry minister since April 2001?

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

Joe McGuire Egmont, PE

Mr. Speaker, it is an issue that deserves the support of all members of the House on either side of the House.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

1:40 p.m.

Parry Sound—Muskoka
Ontario

Conservative

Tony Clement Minister of Health and Minister for the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario

Mr. Speaker, as one of the many newly elected members of the House, I want to begin by expressing my sincere thanks to the great people of Parry Sound—Muskoka who put their trust and faith in me to represent them in this new government. I am honoured to serve the 85,000 people in my riding who live in one of the most beautiful areas of Canada, 15,000 square kilometres stretching from Georgian Bay in the west to Algonquin Park in the east and from the French River in the north to almost the tip of Lake Simcoe to the south.

The riding brings together people from all walks of life who share a love of spectacular nature and the abundant number of lakes and rivers throughout the area. The numerous towns and villages in the Parry Sound—Muskoka riding are home to many families that have been there for generations and other families that have only discovered what the area has to offer.

It includes the notable communities of Bala and Baysville, Bracebridge, Burk's Falls, Dorset, Dwight, Gravenhurst, Emsdale, Honey Harbour, Huntsville, Kearney, Loring, MacTier, Magnetawan, Muskoka Lakes, Parry Sound, Pointe au Baril, Port Carling, Port Severn, Restoule, Rosseau, South River, Sundridge, Utterson and Windermere, to name a few. In addition to many other small towns and villages, it also includes my own home of Port Sydney on beautiful Mary Lake.

These communities are often referred as cottage country by visitors and residents alike and for over 130 years Parry Sound—Muskoka, has been a tourist destination.

However, it goes beyond cottage and outdoor recreation life and includes many industries that provide local employment and contribute to the national economy. These include: Fenner Dunlop in Bracebridge, which is a large employer for manufacturing industrial conveyor systems for worldwide distribution; Algonquin Industries in Huntsville, an auto parts manufacturer with branches in Gravenhurst and Bracebridge; Marshall Well Drilling in Sundridge, a long time family-owned and operated well drilling business; Shaw-Almex in Parry Sound, a locally owned and operated plant for splicing, repairing and manufacturing conveyor belts; Found Aircraft in Parry Sound, which is the manufacturer of the famous Bush Hawk-XP, one of the toughest, most versatile aircraft built today and named one of Canada's top 100 innovative companies by NRC and Industry Canada; and Muskoka Wharf development in Gravenhurst, a multi-million dollar joint venture to revitalize the Gravenhurst waterfront including residential, commercial usages in green space. These are just a fraction of the prosperous companies situated in my riding.

There are also nine first nations communities in the riding and they add to the mosaic of diversity found in Parry Sound—Muskoka

The riding of Parry Sound—Muskoka and the wonderful people whom I now know so well can feel confident in voting for change. I will always represent their interests, both in the House and in the riding, and I thank them again for the trust they have placed in me.

I also wish to thank my family, my wife, Lynne, my children, Alex, Max and Elexa, and my parents, Carol and John, for their patience and support through thick and thin. With family ties to Cyprus and the Middle East and having immigrated to Canada as a four-year-old, they have all helped me realize my dream of service to higher goals and community.

The options were clear to Canadians who voted last January. The citizens made their choice. Now they expect our government and the House of Commons to tackle the important issues.

That is why this government is moving quickly on its commitments as outlined in the Speech from the Throne. It is centred on the five priorities that the Prime Minister set out during the election campaign, five priorities that have been our focus since forming a government.

As health minister, along with my colleague the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health, one of our primary responsibilities is to ensure that Canadians receive the health care they need and deserve. Too often Canadians find themselves waiting too long for critical procedures with no alternative but to wait even longer, often in pain and discomfort and at some risk to their health. They want and deserve certainty that they will receive the care, what they need when they need it, wherever they live and regardless of the ability to pay.

We made a commitment to improve the quality of health care in this country and we will honour that commitment to Canadians. As mentioned in the Speech from the Throne, we will work with provincial and territorial governments to develop and implement a patient wait times guarantee for medically necessary services. We will ensure that all Canadians receive medically necessary treatments within clinically acceptable wait times.

The wait times guarantee will allow us to reach two important objectives. First, patients will have an idea of when they will receive care and will know what to do if wait times become excessive. Second, accountability is built into this guarantee so that patients will receive the treatment needed within an acceptable timeframe.

Since becoming the Minister of Health, I have discussed wait times with my provincial and territorial colleagues, health care representatives and other organizations whose members are on the front lines of health care delivery in Canada. In my discussions with these groups it became evident that reducing wait times is a priority we share together and that the wait times guarantee becomes the logical and necessary extension of that goal.

In fact, the Quebec government recently proposed its own guarantee for certain services. It is the first province to do so.

Ministers of health have already agreed on an initial set of 10 common benchmarks or common goals for the provision of medical treatments and screening services in key elective areas for cancer screening and care, cardiac surgery, hip and knee replacements and cataracts.

In addition, our government is ensuring the funding needed for action. Canadians through their governments have already made significant investments in the system and this government is on track to put that additional $41 billion over 10 years into the health care system.

To live up to the commitment of the patient wait times guarantee, the government will make some fundamental changes in our health care system, changes based on four key cornerstones: research, technology, improved collaboration between jurisdictions, and health human resources.

With regard to the first cornerstone, research, the government has committed to increase investment in this area. Mr. Speaker, I do not have to tell you that solid research evidence helps build consensus among the many different groups involved in health care.

We must continue to invest in research on wait times and to concentrate on establishing better indicators, a standard for measuring wait times and the best possible benchmarks based on clinical data.

This work has already begun through research supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. Governments have worked in partnership with CIHR to support research needed to establish an initial set of benchmarks in the five key priority areas. Further research will be carried out to help develop evidence and wait times benchmarks for cardiac procedures, diagnostic imaging and cancer. Research also plays a vital role in reducing wait times by helping to prevent illness.

Consider diabetes, a contributing factor to more than 40,000 deaths each year in Canada. Diabetes one day may no longer be a problem and diabetics may not have to worry about daily insulin injections, thanks to gene therapy research by a team at the University of Calgary.

Also consider breast cancer. Research from the University of Toronto has shown digital mammography is more accurate than film mammography in detecting breast cancer earlier for many women.

Finally, consider mental health, which accounts for up to 40% of disability claims in the workplace at a cost of up to $33 billion annually. CIHR has started a major research initiative on mental health in the workplace to find solutions to this huge drain on productivity.

Preventing or at least curbing the impact of any one of those conditions helps keep people healthier and reduces the strain on the health care system. It is supported by our government through CIHR and other organizations.

The government is convinced of the importance of research and will apply clinical results to an action plan for health care. This will improve the lives of all Canadians.

The second cornerstone is the need to continue to pursue advances in and the better adoption of information and communications technology in the health system. This will ensure better productivity, better information sharing and most importantly, better and more timely access to care for all Canadians. It is not about collecting data for data's sake, but rather on transforming access to the health care system and making informed management decisions. These technologies will ensure that patients do not have to repeat their health histories to several providers while going through the different stages of the health care system. They will provide health professionals on the front lines with the information they require to make the best choices for patients.

This use of technology can ensure that the people who are managing and coordinating the system have the information they need in order to meet patient wait time targets. Some regions are sharing diagnostic imaging between hospitals and throughout the country, telehealth initiatives are bringing vital health care services to people in remote communities. In most provinces there are already websites and online access management registries providing data on wait times and performance indicators.

Improved systems increase productivity, enhance access to information and ultimately reduce patient wait times and help enhance access to care.

The third cornerstone of change is improved collaboration between federal, provincial and territorial governments. Canadians have no interest in jurisdictional squabbling. They want results. We need to move away from talking about who is responsible for change and accept that we have a shared responsibility in delivering quality health care for all. On this front this government will lead the charge.

We must not focus solely on our similarities in terms of needs and values. We must respect and understand the differences, not only between provinces and territories, but also within the Canadian population. With an awareness of these differences, we will be better positioned to identify best practices throughout the country and to share them in order to improve health care delivery in the best interest of all Canadians.

The provinces and the territories have made significant progress. Together with the Canadian Institute for Health Information, they are working on developing standard means of measuring wait times This will allow for uniform measurement of wait times across Canada and for accountability.

The Cardiac Care Network of Ontario and the Saskatchewan Surgical Care Network are just two examples of systems that most provinces now have that rank patients on a waiting list according to urgency, so that those who need the service most get the attention their condition demands.

Collaboration among governments, clinicians, regional health authorities and researchers through the western Canada wait list project has been instrumental in developing prioritization tools to ensure that patients waiting for key services are treated fairly.

Some provinces now have centralized booking for particular types of treatment to streamline patient referrals and they are already producing excellent results. I am speaking of initiatives like Alberta's hip and knee pilot project, which has been part of reducing wait time from 47.7 weeks to 4.7 weeks for hip and knee replacements.

As mentioned in the Speech from the Throne, making our health system timely and sustainable requires innovation. All these innovative approaches clearly demonstrate that patient centred innovation is achievable within our current public system. They show that common commitment to results that Canadians want and which our government will support and encourage.

The fourth and final cornerstone of change in our health system is to address health human resource issues. We are talking about the women and men on the front lines of health care in Canada, doctors, nurses and other professionals. They want the best for patients and they want a system that works for all of us.

I wish to work actively with our partners from provincial and territorial governments, as well as with stakeholders, to provide Canada with the best pool and distribution of skilled workers to fill the many roles vital to our health system.

We have seen recent increases in the number of student placements in medical schools. We have seen considerable growth in the numbers of provincially funded openings for post-medical school education in our teaching hospitals and similar facilities. We are seeing more positions opened to the international medical graduates who have made Canada their home and who want to use their talents and expertise in this country.

Nurses and other health care professionals provide care before, during and after surgical interventions. Effective recruitment and retention initiatives are imperative to make sure that we have enough qualified workers to support the care guarantee and to reduce the burden of waiting.

The number of nurses is increasing. For example, the nurse practitioner role is being enhanced, which helps to improve access to health care. We are seeing better workforce planning as well as investment in promoting healthier, more stable workplace environments.

While these developments are important, we need to make more progress in exploring how health professionals work together and share responsibility. We need to explore opportunities for new and emerging health professions. This will require improving how health professionals work together, share responsibility and collaborate.

I also want to advise hon. members of our government's support for the Canadian strategy for cancer control. The Prime Minister has been clear about his support for the five year strategy at a cost of nearly $50 million per year.

The Speech from the Throne sets out the government's commitment to Canadians. It puts this government, the House and the country on a path that will mean increased benefits and better results for Canadians. I am honoured to have the responsibility for a priority that means so much to Canadians, ensuring Canadians receive the health care they deserve.

The government is committed to supporting and enabling innovative approaches to health care delivery. We will do so in ways consistent with the principles of universality and accessibility in the Canada Health Act.

I have been pleased to have had the discussions I have had with my provincial and territorial counterparts and with leaders of health organizations.

Quality health care is the foundation of Canadian priorities. Parry Sounders and Muskokans are counting on me to represent their values and interests in this place. Canadians are counting on all of us in the House to improve the foundation and build a better health care system for all.

Queen Elizabeth II
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Jim Abbott Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, on Friday, April 21, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will celebrate her eightieth birthday. On behalf of the Government of Canada, my colleagues and I would like to convey our most sincere wishes to Her Majesty for many more years of health and happiness as our head of state.

The Crown of Canada is a unique part of not only our system of government but our national identity. During a speech delivered at the Alberta Legislature last May 24, Her Majesty the Queen stated:

--I want the Crown in Canada to represent everything that is best and most admired in the Canadian ideal. I will continue to do my best to make it so during my lifetime, and I hope you will all continue to give me your help in this task...as, together, we continue to build a country that remains the envy of the world.

May Her Majesty enjoy many more years of health and happiness and may we, on her eightieth birthday, join in saying happy birthday to Her Majesty.

2006 Commonwealth Games
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Yasmin Ratansi Don Valley East, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to pay a special tribute to a young athlete who lives in my riding of Don Valley East.

Ms. Brittnee Habbib is a senior high performance gymnast who, at the age of 17, has already compiled a long list of impressive accomplishments. Brittnee trains six hours a day, six days a week. In addition to gymnastics, she is equally determined to keep up her independent studies at the Mary Ward Catholic School, one of the two schools in Canada offering this program.

Recently, Brittnee was in Melbourne, Australia, and competed in the 18th Commonwealth Games. Along with her fellow teammates, Brittnee brought home a bronze medal for Canada in the artistic women's gymnast category.

I ask all members of this House to join me in saluting Brittnee Habbib, a true Canadian champion.

Marc Thibault
Statements By Members

April 11th, 2006 / 2 p.m.

Bloc

Louise Thibault Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is with heartfelt emotion that I pay tribute today to Marc Thibault, who passed away on March 13.

For nearly four decades, Marc Thibault was a strong and vocal defender of the journalistic independence of Radio-Canada's news service.

He ran the educational and public affairs broadcast service from 1957 to 1964, and the news service from 1968 to 1981. He served as policy director for French network programming until his retirement in 1985 and he chaired the Conseil de presse du Québec from 1987 to 1991.

My Bloc Québécois colleagues join me in extending our best wishes to Monique, Sophie and Luc following the loss of a man who was exceptional in many ways.

Ekati Diamond Mine
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, congratulations on your election.

I rise on an issue of immediate importance to my constituents: the strike by the members of the Public Service Alliance of Canada workers at BHP Billiton's Ekati diamond mine. These 400 workers are fighting for the basic Canadian labour standards of seniority, pay equity and fair wages in their first contract with this huge multinational corporation.

BHP Billiton has responded with delaying tactics and by continuing to make contract proposals that have been rejected time and again by the workers.

I have been informed that BHP Billiton, a multinational with profits in the billions last year, has said it will continue to operate using private contractors who are not part of the union. This decision could lead to a long and difficult dispute.

The people of the Northwest Territories want to see this dispute resolved quickly but fairly. By and large, northerners get very little from the exploitation of their resources, other than some jobs and business opportunities. Northern workers put up with harsh conditions and long absences from their families in order to work at these mines. It is only right that they be treated fairly by their employers.

Because the non-renewable resources of the Northwest Territories are controlled by the government, these workers are regulated under the federal labour code. I ask both the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and the Minister of Human Resources to take an active interest--

Ekati Diamond Mine
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Niagara West--Glanbrook.

Vintners Awards
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Allison Niagara West—Glanbrook, ON

Mr. Speaker, as this is the first time that I rise in this the 39th Parliament, I would first like to thank the people of Niagara West--Glanbrook for once again putting their trust in me to be their representative.

I also rise today to congratulate the many vintners who were recently recognized at the Cuvee Wine Awards, where winemakers select the best of the best.

I cannot overstate the importance of the Canadian wine industry to the Canadian economy. Canada has over 240 wineries with a combined retail sales of nearly $1.2 billion.

The industry accounts for up to 10,000 direct and indirect jobs, an estimated $400 million in tourism revenues, over $120 million in federal tax revenues, and another $600 million in provincial revenue.

In addition to the winemakers themselves, more than 600 independent grape growers nationwide also supply the industry.

The efforts of grape growers and vintners have yielded exceptional Canadian wines. These national gems should be shared with the world. To that end, we need to increase their presence on the international market. I encourage Canadians to support their local wineries and their fellow Canadians. I encourage the government to promote the Canadian wine industry, both domestically and abroad.