House of Commons Hansard #91 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was women.

Topics

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

Lise Zarac LaSalle—Émard, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his question. I would like to take this opportunity to thank him, on behalf of his constituents, for the excellent work he does in his riding.

In fact, I wanted to raise this point in my speech. Winter is just around the corner, and construction comes to a halt at that time. No work is done. Because of the March 31 deadline, numerous projects will not be completed. Municipalities and provinces will not be able to finish the work, which will then be abandoned for lack of funding.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, as long as the member has raised it, in my view, the biggest lie in the two budgets was the economic stimulus package for shovel-ready projects, if the member will recall that terminology.

One of the things we have found is that many of these projects in fact have not generated the jobs that were intended. We now have this problem that many of projects have had all the engineering and consulting work done but do not have shovels in ground and they face the possibility of not being completed within the time.

In my view, any project that has been agreed upon by the government, which is being delayed for no reason or for causes outside the control of either of the parties and which would create jobs, should be given the green light to go ahead and be completed.

Would the member like to comment on that?

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

Lise Zarac LaSalle—Émard, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.

It is true that a lot of projects will not be completed for reasons outside the control of those who are trying to get them done. Since it is outside their control, I think this government is being unfair. A promise is a contract. If the matter goes to court, and one party has suggested that it would pay, it is responsible for the expenses. So the government should be held responsible too.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Simms Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, NL

Mr. Speaker, I was taken aback by part of the member's speech, which I thought was very impressive. We forget to draw links between what was a record established prior to arriving in federal governance. The provincial government in Ontario at the time had all these tremendous tax cuts in order to grow its way out of a deficit position. It did not quite work out in that manner, certainly when it came to corporate tax cuts.

Would the member please comment on that?

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

Lise Zarac LaSalle—Émard, QC

Mr. Speaker, the government is proud to say that it is creating jobs. But I have to wonder whether jobs have really been created with these projects. Furthermore, are the jobs that have been created full-time or part-time? What are the proportions? That is where we might see the government's transparency. When it tells us how many jobs it has created or maintained, it should tell us specifically how many it has maintained, how many it has created, and whether they are temporary or part-time jobs.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Tony Martin Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak to this important budget bill, Bill C-47. It is another in a continuing series of discussions we are having with the government about what it should be doing to deal with some of our difficult economic realities. Among other things, it should be investing in communities and people, and looking after families that are finding it hard to make ends meet in these difficult times. As jobs continue to be lost or changed in nature, incomes go down, the cost of living continues to increase, and people struggle to keep body and soul together as they attempt to provide their children with support, education, and help with their health care needs.

As we continue this discussion about the budget and the economy, it is important to understand how they connect, and how we as government support communities that are struggling to keep all of their citizens' heads above water. It is important to understand and reflect on what got us where we are today. We need to consider the 2008 collapse of the world's financial sector and understand why it happened.

The government did not recognize the 2008 recession until the opposition on this side of the House made it aware of the problem. Then, all of a sudden, the government began to realize that it needed to respond in a serious way to this economic and financial tsunami that was coming at us.

The cause of this was that we allowed our banking systems, both here and around the world, to continue to be further and further deregulated. Besides the banks, we deregulated a lot of other financial practices. We allowed the ethos of greed and fear to be the driving force behind the decisions made by corporations and governments around the world. Finally, to keep things from getting even worse, governments had to step in and become engaged again.

Deregulation and free trade, which went hand in hand with the deregulation, allowed some corporations to become more powerful and wealthy than many countries. We saw a push towards less government intervention, which is what is now challenging the government of the day. Even though they are great believers in less government intervention, this government was forced to intervene in the economy as never before.

At the same time, we lowered taxes for corporations over and over again, at the provincial and the federal levels. Finally, the government woke up and realized that it had to come to the table with big bags of money to help its friends in the business world to weather these difficult times. But because it had given away so much of the treasury, so much of the capacity of the government to play a role in our economic life, the government had little money left. The result is that we now find ourselves with a huge deficit, and we will be in deficit for a long time to come.

Why are we in the New Democrat caucus speaking so aggressively against this budget today? It is because the government will not be turning these corporate tax breaks around. Instead, the government wants to reduce even further its ability to intervene in the economic affairs of this country.

If we do not stop, take a long look, and do something different, this will be tragic. It will be especially tragic for those who are most at risk and marginalized, and this is the group of people that government has the greatest and most urgent responsibility to help.

For the six years that I have been in this place, and particularly over the last two years since the collapse of the financial world, I have been calling for a national anti-poverty strategy. Six provinces in this country recognize that something significant needs to happen if we are going to deal with the increasing number of people who find themselves unable to make ends meet. Provincial strategies have been put in place. I was in the Northwest Territories a couple of weeks ago, and they are moving on a strategy to deal with poverty.

The provinces are telling us that they will not be able to do all that they have to do. They will not be able to put in place those programs that they know are necessary to lift people up and give them the opportunity to take advantage of the new economy when, a year or two from now, this recession has eased off.

The provinces just do not have the resources, and they are calling on the federal government to be a partner in this effort. They know that we need to move away from this ethos of greed and fear to one of hope and concern for the common good.

Those of us who have been engaged in this exercise over the last three years know that it makes good economic sense to deal with poverty. The choices we make will affect not only our ability to help those who are in difficulty, but also our ability to turn our economy around. Failing to address the problem is costing us in many direct and substantial ways.

We heard from all kinds of people as we travelled the country, getting input on what the federal government should be doing about poverty. They told us the choice is clear: we can pay to address poverty now, or we can wind up paying a lot more for a lot longer.

We pay for poverty through lost productivity, lost opportunity, and increased family violence. We pay for it through the health care system and our criminal justice system. We pay for it through growing demands on an already-frayed social support system. We pay for it through our children's reduced life chances, employment opportunities, and earning capacity.

For the first time in their lives, thousands of families across this country are going into Christmas relying on the good graces of provincial and municipal welfare systems, or what is left of them. People are finding that there is not much to be had.

After the government of the day's 1995 elimination of the Canada assistance plan, the reduction in the transfers to provinces, and the huge rollout of corporate tax breaks, not much was left in the coffers when people came calling in their time of need. People who pay their taxes, work every day, and pay into unemployment insurance are finding as they face this Christmas that the safety net they thought was there has disappeared.

If nothing else, when we consider this budget we should be addressing the difficult reality that is confronting many of our friends and neighbours, our constituents. We need to deal with the question of poverty in this country.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, the question the member raised has come up often in the finance committee, namely, whether we need to cut back right across the board, without differentiating, whether we ought to try to grow out of this now, and make it up later on.

Some of the groups from the poverty coalition came before us and reminded us of the pain caused during an economic downturn. They told us how difficult recovery can be for those who had nothing in the first place. I tend to agree with my colleague.

I wonder if the member would like to comment on whether there was a time when we had to look at providing means tests so that individuals could get certain benefits in our social programs.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

Tony Martin Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to suggest that the member go back to a time in our history when we used a means test to distinguish the deserving from the undeserving. That is long past.

We as a country, as a government, need to take the same approach we took a few years back. It was driven by the NDP, and it looked at the question of poverty and seniors. We brought forward hugely successful programs: the Canada pension plan, the old age security plan, and the guaranteed income supplement. We put those vehicles in place so that we would not have to get into long and hurtful discussions about who deserves and who does not. We put in place programs to help seniors, and we literally lifted all seniors out of poverty.

We need to be doing the same thing for all of our citizens today, no matter where they live or what their socio-economic condition may be.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

Bill Siksay Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member mentioned that he has done a lot of work on poverty and an anti-poverty strategy. I know he had wide consultations across Canada with many people active in the movement to eliminate poverty. He came up with a private member's bill that calls on the federal government to adopt a strategy for the elimination of poverty in Canada.

I wonder if the hon. member might talk about what that process would be. Perhaps he could also relate how he developed this piece of legislation that he tabled in the House.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

Tony Martin Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member himself participated actively in the discussions by bringing to the House the stories of the people he represents.

The hon. member is absolutely right: there are real opportunities here. There will be a report tabled in this House, probably after the Remembrance Day break, that will make solid recommendations. If adopted, they will go a long way towards developing a partnership with the provinces, territories, municipalities, and first nations that will eliminate poverty in this country once and for all.

Bill C-545 would serve as the framework for this federal project. This empowering piece of legislation would give the government the vehicles it needs to begin working in partnership, so that we can once and for all get rid of the scourge of poverty that affects so many of our constituents, neighbours, and family members.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Simms Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, NL

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member mentioned poverty reduction in his speech. He mentioned six jurisdictions that are now making efforts to reduce poverty. One of them is my own province of Newfoundland and Labrador, which has a wide-ranging poverty reduction strategy. This strategy includes subsidized heating costs for seniors and nutritional supplements for young low-income mothers.

This could be important. Yet the vision does not lead to an overall poverty reduction strategy. Lacking a general narrative or theme, we have only a patchwork of short-term measures.

I wonder if the member could comment on one of the general themes that he would choose as a plank for poverty reduction.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act
Government Orders

2 p.m.

NDP

Tony Martin Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Mr. Speaker, Newfoundland was one of the first provinces to move forward with a strategy. But they are saying to us that, unless the federal government is at the table, it will be difficult for them to achieve all they know they can achieve.

There is no lack of good ideas out there. We heard them from many people, and there will be a lot of them in the report that will be tabled.

Bill C-545 mentions three areas that could immediately be addressed by the federal government and by all of us here: housing, income security, and social inclusion.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act
Government Orders

2 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

We will now proceed with statements by members, beginning with the hon. member for Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo.

Veterans Affairs
Statements By Members

November 1st, 2010 / 2 p.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to pay tribute to a former member of Parliament for Kamloops as well as a war hero, 93-year-old Don Cameron.

Don is presently on a mission to ensure that the death of every fellow veteran throughout Kamloops is recognized. Working in collaboration with the local legion, Veterans Affairs and officials from the last post fund, Don is heading up an effort to find unmarked veterans' burial plots and ensure that a proper headstone is in place.

This has proven to be a difficult task, with Don spending hours every day combing through newspaper obituary notices, looking for mention of military service or looking for familiar names. He then presents the names to the local cadets who have agreed to search the maps provided by the local cemeteries to detail which plots are marked and which are not.

This kind of painstaking work speaks to the character of Don Cameron. There are not too many people today who would take on this difficult task with such selfless determination.

On behalf of the constituents of Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, we thank Don for his exemplary efforts.

Betty Louise Crossley
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Martha Hall Findlay Willowdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased, but with sadness, to rise in the House to recognize a wonderful person. Betty Louise Crossley, born Betty Noble, was an activist and an extraordinary member of the Willowdale community.

Her husband, Kelvin, two sons, Kelly and Matt, and, of course, her grandchildren were her immediate family; however, her family life extended to many others whom she met and was close with over the years.

She was an outstanding teacher and her students will all have left more learned but, more important, more engaged in the world around them. The same is true for anyone who had the privilege of getting to know her.

In a time of increasing apathy, getting people more engaged, which is so critical to improving society, is one of the highest legacies possible and it is very much one left behind by Betty Crossley.

Betty has now passed on but her family and friends know that, as she called it, her “unsolicited advice”, which was always greatly appreciated, will live on.

We thank Betty. She will be missed.