House of Commons Hansard #55 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was cuts.

Topics

Opposition Motion--Status of Women
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, as we know, women provide most of the caregiving. A situation of which the member is aware is families with children with autism and the stress that puts on families. In some of cases, with which I have been dealing, the pressure has been so great that the marriage breaks up and the child is usually left with the woman.

There is no national health care plan for children with autism. It is up to the provinces to devise their own plans in this regard. Alberta has cared for children with autism up till age 18. In Ontario it is age six. New Brunswick and Nova Scotia have pilot programs. It is simply not good enough that families and women with children with autism have to suffer such great financial and emotional burdens brought about by this neurological disorder.

Will the hon. member, the good Yukoner that he is, support a national autism plan that would fall under medicare, where the federal government would work with the provinces and territories to develop a national plan that would benefit all families with children with autism? We then would have a uniform strategy across the country so people would not have to move to other areas to get it. It would help stabilize the families and provide those children, and especially the caregivers, the women who provide the care, some immediate help and respite in the future.

Opposition Motion--Status of Women
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, that is a wonderful question because just a few hours ago I replied to a letter from some children at a school in New Brunswick asking for a national autism strategy. I told them I was totally supportive of this and I congratulated them for their efforts at such young ages. I also sent them all Yukon pins.

Opposition Motion--Status of Women
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Bloc

Paule Brunelle Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Laurentides—Labelle.

The Bloc Québécois will support the Liberal motion, because we believe that the cuts to Status of Women Canada that have been announced are symptomatic and provide disturbing evidence of how important women are in the mind of this government.

The Bloc Québécois calls on the government to take a step back, because we believe that this cut is being made not in the spirit of budget rationalization—because we know that this government has surpluses—but rather from an ideological perspective, one that is contrary to the values of Quebeckers. We think that women in Quebec are being judged based on how Status of Women Canada’s programs are being managed.

The Conservative government has announced cuts of $5 million over two years to the secretariat of Status of Women Canada, whose budget is only just over $24 million. That means a cut of 20% of its budget, a budget that it was allocated after heated battle.

I would like to remind this House of the tough battles that were fought, with the Bloc Québécois among those leading the charge, to have the Standing Committee on the Status of Women created. For more than 10 years, we had to call for this committee and demand that it be created, and it finally happened in October 2004. I was among the first group of members who took part in that committee’s work. At those parliamentary committee meetings, where we heard ordinary people, experts and ministers, but most importantly many representatives of groups and organizations, we saw that the needs and the problems are enormous.

That is why I find it absolutely incomprehensible that today the organization that manages those programs is having its budget cut, when women are barely starting to get access to services and the needs are growing.

That committee was given the authority to review all issues arising from the mandate, management, organization and operation of Status of Women Canada, and also to hold an inquiry. If we make cuts to the management of Status of Women Canada, however, who will deal with that committee’s reports? The Standing Committee on the Status of Women is important.

Let us recall that five reports have been submitted. There was a report on maternity benefits, employment insurance parental benefits, that talked about the exclusion of self-employed women—and that is still the case.

A very important report on pay equity was submitted. We know that the pay equity problem is a grave injustice, and that it is very difficult to deal with it. In Quebec, we have made significant progress, but here in Canada women’s wages are still much lower than men’s.

A third report about funding by the women’s program was also submitted. The question was what the women of Canada thought about it.

Of course a report on increased funding for equality-seeking organizations was also submitted. The organizations are underfunded. We have identified a lot of flaws, particularly recently, when Women and the Law had to close down because the minister dragged her feet on providing the funding it needed.

Another report dealt with gender analysis. When we are dealing with discrimination against women, it is important to understand that we have to have an analysis, department by department, to be able to prove what is being argued and prove what women need.

We are concerned that if Status of Women Canada's budget is cut, the Standing Committee on the Status of Women, an essential committee, will have few respondents and few responses.

Yet the Conservative government may well need the expertise of Status of Women Canada—this was abundantly clear in the child care agreement. The Conservative government's decision to cancel the child care agreement, which was signed by the governments of Canada and Quebec on October 28, 2005, was anything but unremarkable.

That legally binding contract, which took months to prepare and was announced with great fanfare, was cancelled the following year by the Conservatives. It is this failure to follow through on promises that women in Canada and Quebec find so discouraging. I would like to remind the House that this cancelled contract represents a loss of over $800 million for child care centres in Quebec.

In its place, the government is offering a $1,200 annual, taxable allowance. This shows just how out of touch this government is with women's needs. It would have been wiser to listen to the Bloc Québécois' suggestion and grant a refundable tax credit, but the government refused to do so.

As further evidence of their obsession with making sure everyone knows about their ideas, it seems that for the first two months, the minister sent parents their $100 cheques through the mail rather than electronically. The cost to taxpayers: $2 million. This is a great injustice.

So when the government comes back to tell us about accountable financial management, that raises more than a few eyebrows.

What about attempts to get preventive withdrawal for female federal employees who work under conditions that could pose a risk to their children's safety, whether at border crossings or elsewhere? Preventive withdrawal for pregnant women is still not the norm.

As for work-life balance, it is clear that the government has no vision about this. We should have a vision about child care, in order to develop a solid network of child care centres for the future so that we can have a safe place for our children and avoid health and dropout problems later on.

Yet, the minister responsible posted this on the Status of Women Canada website. Yesterday, September 27, 2006, we could read this:

As a member of the Canadian Heritage Portfolio, Status of Women Canada plays an important role in the life of Canadians.

Status of Women Canada is responsible for promoting gender equality, and over the next year it will work to achieve the objective of supporting the full participation of Canadian women in all aspects of society. I am pleased that particular attention will be given to those challenges that are currently faced by Canadian women. I look forward to working with them on such issues as the economic stability of women and the situation of Aboriginal women.

Given the circumstances and given the quote from the minister, how could she have written and approved that after announcing a 20% cut in the organization's funding?

Often, when we talk about the economic stability of women, what we are really mean is poverty. Children are living in poverty in Canada because families are poor, and we know that the poorest families in our society are single-parent families, most of which are mother-led families.

Although the Canadian economy grew by 62% between 1994 and 2004, which produced nearly $480 billion more each year in market value during those ten years, more and more women saw their salaries stagnate or barely change, while hard costs such as housing, tuition fees, child care and public transit have increased, which has had an impact on family economies.

In conclusion, it is important that we continue to fight to stop the cutbacks that have been announced. We demand that the government reverse its decision and cancel the cutbacks.

It is important to understand that these cuts are not the result of rational thinking, rather they result from an ideological approach that completely opposes the values of Quebeckers and everything defended by the Bloc Québécois.

We can only conclude that this government is reactionary and, unfortunately, misogynous. We in the Bloc Québécois will continue to rise and defend the women of Quebec and ensure equality in all areas for Quebec's women.

Opposition Motion--Status of Women
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I do not wish to proceed immediately to the question and comment period that would normally follow the speech given by the hon. member for Trois-Rivières. This would take too long and statements by members must take place at 2 p.m.

We will therefore proceed immediately to statements by members.

The hon. member for Winnipeg South.

Municipal Infrastructure
Statements by Members

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Rod Bruinooge Winnipeg South, MB

Mr. Speaker, after 13 years of waiting and broken promises, the residents of Winnipeg South were finally able to drive through Kenaston Boulevard without suffering at the mercy of train schedules.

This past Friday afternoon I, along with the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, cut the ribbon on the Kenaston Boulevard underpass. The federal government contributed $13 million toward the cost of construction and was on hand to celebrate the completion of this project.

The immediate benefit of the Kenaston underpass includes less traffic and reduced idling, thus giving cleaner air. For the fastest growing area in Winnipeg this underpass will ease traffic congestion and reduce travel time.

The government is committed to achieving results. With a population boom of 40,000 new residents in Waverly West expected in my riding, more investment infrastructure will be needed for the new roads and underpasses.

I am committed to working tirelessly to ensure that these needs and all the needs of Winnipeg South are met in the future.

Youth
Statements by Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Maria Minna Beaches—East York, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative government's meanspirited cuts took over $10 million out of the international youth internship program, abandoning our young people.

This great employment program provides underemployed or unemployed Canadians with the opportunity to gain viable international development work experience.

Through CIDA Canada sponsors internships that help unemployed college and university graduates between the ages of 19 and 30 from all provinces gain international development experience.

Roughly 65% of the youth who benefit are young women and 98.4% of the interns completed their program. Of the 550 who completed their internship during the first year 71% were successful in finding employment within six months. An additional 19% returned to school and only 9% reported being unemployed.

Why has this government chosen to target Canada's unemployed youth?

Culture Days
Statements by Members

1:55 p.m.

Bloc

Maka Kotto Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, September 29 and 30 and October 1 mark the 10th anniversary of Quebec's culture days. More than 1,800 free activities in 289 municipalities will bring together the general public and artists and creators.

Quebec's culture days provide me with another opportunity to remind this government of the vital importance of culture in the lives of people and societies.

To attack our culture the way the Conservative government does is to break up the foundation of our social connection, to destroy what makes sense in our existence and our identity.

What lack of concern, what thoughtlessness.

Government Programs
Statements by Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, earlier this week the government announced that it was cutting vital community programs so that it could reallocate that money to the real priorities of Canadians. All told, those cuts amounted to over $1 billion.

Where do we find that money going? Why, into subsidies to the oil and gas industry in the Prime Minister's own province.

I have to say that is not the priority of families in Hamilton Mountain. They are already being gouged at the pumps and certainly would not agree to have more of their hard-earned tax dollars go to the oil and gas industry through government subsidies.

No, the real priority for Canadians is health care. In fact, the Conservatives recognized that during the election campaign when they promised to make health care one of their five priorities. Once elected, they dropped health care completely from their list of must do items.

New Democrats are not going to let the government get away with that.

I say to the Prime Minister that he has a $13 billion surplus. Cut wait times and improve care by hiring more doctors and nurses, expand home care and long term care programs, and bring in national pharmacare. The surplus belongs to Canadians. Spend it to meet their needs.

Robert MacIsaac
Statements by Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Wallace Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, today I want to honour Mayor Robert MacIsaac of the city of Burlington. The mayor has announced he will not seek re-election this fall. This loss is a loss for my community.

Mayor MacIsaac has been a true municipal leader in Burlington, in Ontario and in our country. He has had nine very successful years as mayor. He understands the balance between a growing urban community and a city with more than half of its land mass being rural.

Mayor MacIsaac has pursued smart growth principles, formed the mayor's transit caucus, and chaired Ontario's greenbelt task force. He established team Burlington to promote all aspects of economic development and led the revitalization of the downtown and the waterfront. His mayor's gala has raised over $1 million for the community foundation.

We have not always agreed, but I have always admired his clear vision and his great contribution to the quality of life for the citizens of Burlington.

Mayor MacIsaac has done a great job for our community and the people of Burlington thank him. He will be missed.

Government Programs
Statements by Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Nancy Karetak-Lindell Nunavut, NU

Mr. Speaker, on Monday the minority Conservative government cut the commercial heritage property incentive program and $7.6 million in other grants and contributions given out by Environment Canada. This continues this government's long string of needless cuts to environment programs, cuts we know are needless because its own officials say so.

In February the Minister of Natural Resources was told that EnerGuide ranked among the most efficient and effective GHG reduction programs in the country. What was the government's response? It cut EnerGuide.

The minority Conservative government was told in February that over half of Canadians learned about global warming through the one tonne challenge and six million of them took action to reduce their energy consumption. What was the government's response? It cut the one tonne challenge.

This government was also told in February by its own officials that renewable energy projects were reducing more GHGs at a lower cost than had been anticipated. What was the government's response? It cut the renewable power reduction initiative.

The Environment
Statements by Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Luc Harvey Louis-Hébert, QC

Mr. Speaker, today the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development submitted her report. We had a chance to learn that the former Liberal government had invested nearly a billion dollars in various programs. The result, and that is what matters here, is that a one megatonne reduction, in other words one half of one per cent of the Kyoto objectives, cost the Canadian government nearly a billion dollars.

Lucky thing our new Minister of the Environment has taken matters in hand and that the Canadian government will be able to come up with concrete cost-saving measures, including the use of fuel containing 5% methanol and various types of support for public transit.

Hydroelectricity
Statements by Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Paule Brunelle Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, during a media scrum last Wednesday, the premier of Newfoundland stated that it was in Canada's best interest to give greater support to hydroelectric projects in Labrador rather than those of Quebec because he believes that the political climate in Quebec is unstable. Furthermore, the premier is urging Ontario to not buy its electricity. Quebec has every right to sell its electricity to whoever wishes to buy it, including the United States.

Nothing in Quebec suggests an unstable political climate. The Quebec government is fully responsible for developing its hydroelectric potential within its territory, which it will continue to do. Once Quebec becomes a country, it could then develop and sell its electricity to whomever it likes. One province's thin skin will not change anything.

As the Governor General would say, the premier of Newfoundland and Labrador is completely out of touch.

HIV-AIDS
Statements by Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Laurie Hawn Edmonton Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, on Sunday, September 24, I had the privilege of taking part in Edmonton's 15th annual HIV-AIDS Walk for Life. I am proud that this event is held in my constituency and I want to salute the organizers, the donors and all the people who took part in this phenomenal fundraiser.

I am happy to report that due to the support of people in Edmonton, Ottawa and many communities across the country, I was able to personally raise $3,600, and Edmonton as a city contributed $37,000.

This is a sign of our commitment to improving the resources, support and care for people suffering from this terrible affliction. This is also a coast to coast initiative and I know that many of the members in this House also took part in events in their own communities.

I encourage all Canadians to get involved with the local organizations that are making a difference in so many lives. All of us know someone whose family has been touched by the tragedy of HIV-AIDS. Events like Walk for Life mean we can look forward with hope in the future in the fight for a cure.

Justice
Statements by Members

September 28th, 2006 / 2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Ruby Dhalla Brampton—Springdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, this minority government takes great pride in portraying itself as a government of law and order. However, its idea of law and order is becoming more and more clear all the time. There is more money for jails, less money and fewer regulations for gun control, taking conditional sentencing away from our experienced judges, and arbitrarily increasing mandatory minimums.

That is certainly not something to applaud because its concept of law and order means three things: more guns, more jails and longer sentences.

This week the government has cut over $14 million from the national crime prevention program, a program which actually endeavoured to reduce crime and victimization. This is yet another example of all its cuts and talking about safe communities but doing absolutely nothing.

Constituents in Brampton—Springdale and Canadians deserve safe communities. The most vulnerable among us, women, minority groups, francophones and families living in poverty, all demand safe communities.

George Bolton
Statements by Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Helena Guergis Simcoe—Grey, ON

Mr. Speaker, George Lawheed Bolton, a D-Day veteran with the Queen's Own Rifles of Canada, died this past Monday in his 87th year. He was a resident of Elmvale and a member of the Elmvale Legion.

In 1939 he joined the Queen's Own Rifles Reserve, trained at Camp Borden, and was shipped out to Gander, Newfoundland. After a year in Gander as an operator-mechanic, he was assigned to the Bren Gun Carriers. He was shipped to Britain in 1940. After several assignments he became involved in the preparation for the Normandy invasion of June 6, 1944.

George hit the beach during the first assault wave on D-Day. Seasickness, deep water and intense enemy fire did not keep him from reaching the seawall. Despite leg wounds he continued on to Falaise suffering shell shock from a bomb hit. George remained in Holland until the war's end and then completed his tour in Germany before returning to Toronto.

Canada has lost another fine soldier and hero. Let us never forget his courage and that of the brave men and women who have and continue to serve our country.