House of Commons Hansard #47 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was tax.

Topics

Presence in Gallery
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I would like to draw to the attention of hon. members the presence in the gallery of two ministers from Manitoba, the Hon. Eric Robinson, Minister of Culture and Heritage and the Hon. Steve Ashton, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and Emergency Measures.

Presence in Gallery
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear!

Oral Questions
Points of Order
Oral Questions

April 28th, 2009 / 3:05 p.m.

Liberal

Jim Karygiannis Scarborough—Agincourt, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Last week I questioned officials of Citizenship and Immigration if they had allocated extra staff to deal with the length of time it took to deal with spousal sponsorships for Sri Lanka, up to three times as long as other areas. Mr. Stewart, assistant deputy minister, said that no additional staff had been allocated. Today in question period the minister said that extra resources were allocated.

Why is the minister misleading the House and as such is being intellectually dishonest?

Oral Questions
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Order, please. I do not think the member is raising a point of order. It sounded like a matter of debate, so we will not pursue that.

Oral Questions
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett St. Paul's, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I do not believe the Minister of Health would willingly mislead the House, however, I think in her answer to the excellent question from the member for Etobicoke North she mistakenly said that there were stockpiles of vaccines in Canada. There are indeed stockpiles of antivirals, not vaccines, and that was the purpose of the question. I would invite the minister, with your permission, to correct herself now on the record.

Oral Questions
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Nunavut
Nunavut

Conservative

Leona Aglukkaq Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, to clarify for the record, the member is correct. I meant to say anti-virals. Let me go back again.

We have been in contact with provincial and territorial counterparts across Canada and provided them updates on the situation. The provinces and territories have already access to stockpiles of Tamiflu and are able to make decisions on its use. As well, yesterday in my press conference, I said that we were also conducting research on the vaccine development about the swine flu.

I thank the member for asking for that clarification.

National Food Allergy Awareness Week
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, there have been consultations among the parties and I believe you would find unanimous consent of the House for the following motion. I move:

That, in the opinion of this House, the week of May 4 to May 8, 2009 be designed as National Food Allergy Awareness Week.

National Food Allergy Awareness Week
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Does the hon. member for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke have the unanimous consent of the House to propose this motion?

National Food Allergy Awareness Week
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

National Food Allergy Awareness Week
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

National Food Allergy Awareness Week
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

National Food Allergy Awareness Week
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

(Motion agreed to)

Bill C-279
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, on February 25, you made a statement with respect to the management of private members' business. In particular, you raised concerns about five bills, which, in your view, appeared to impinge on the financial prerogative of the Crown. One of the bills you mentioned was Bill C-279.

I am therefore rising, Mr. Speaker, on a point of order regarding Bill C-279, An Act to amend the Employment Insurance Act (amounts not included in earnings).

Without commenting on the merits of the bill, I submit that Bill C-279 contains provisions that would change the purposes of the Employment Insurance Act that would result in new spending and therefore would require a royal recommendation.

Bill C-279 would remove pension benefits, vacation pay and severance payments from the amounts that may be deducted from benefits payable under the Employment Insurance Act. The changes would allow individuals to receive employment insurance benefits when they otherwise would not have been eligible because pension, vacation or severance pay would have reduced their benefits or made them ineligible to receive employment insurance benefits.

The Department of Human Resources and Social Development Canada estimates that the changes proposed in Bill C-279 could cost as much as $130 million per year.

Precedents demonstrate the new spending for employment insurance benefits not currently authorized under the Employment Insurance Act require a royal recommendation.

On November 6, 2006, the Speaker ruled in the case of Bill C-269, An Act to amend the Employment Insurance Act (improvement of the employment insurance system), that:

Funds may only be appropriated by Parliament for purposes covered by a royal recommendation.... New purposes must be accompanied by a new royal recommendation.

On March 23, 2007, in the case of Bill C-265, An Act to amend the Employment Insurance Act (qualification for and entitlement to benefits), the Speaker ruled that the changes envisioned in this bill “would have the effect of authorizing increased expenditures...in a manner and for purposes not currently authorized”.

The Speaker goes on to state:

Therefore, it appears to the Chair that those provisions of the bill which relate to increasing employment insurance benefits and easing the qualifications required to obtain them would require a royal recommendation.

Mr. Speaker, I submit that these precedents apply equally to the provisions of Bill C-279 which would change the purposes of the Employment Insurance Act resulting in new spending and, therefore, must be accompanied by a royal recommendation.

Bill C-279
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, with regard to the royal recommendation situation as it relates to any of the bills that have come up in recent times about employment insurance benefits, I have been concerned that there has been no discussion about the obligations of the government with regard to the notional surplus of the EI.

Under the rules guiding the employment insurance plan, where there is an accumulated surplus I believe the regulations require that two years of surplus be maintained and, second, to the extent that there would be a greater surplus than that, that it would be drawn down by either a reduction of premiums or by expansion or programs or introduction of new program benefits under the EI program.

Therefore, there is this other element of the fact that there is a notional EI surplus and that the government has an obligation to manage that and to deal with it in the prescribed fashion.

It raises the question as whether or not there is a blanket royal recommendation to authorize the government to continue to deal with the notional surplus or to discharge it by form of some legislation or changes of regulations related to the EI notional surplus.

I wanted to raise those points because we have had many interventions with regard to private members' items calling for changes in the program. The element is that there are funds available in that program and accounted for by the government to the extent that they have been included in the revenues of the government, which is a requirement of the Auditor General, but I do not believe that overrides the government's obligation to properly manage the notional surplus account and to use the funds in accordance with the regulations prescribed.

Bill C-279
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The Chair wishes to thank the hon. parliamentary secretary and the hon. member for Mississauga South for their interventions on this matter. I will return to the House with a decision in respect of the issue in due course.