Last in Parliament April 1997, as Liberal MP for Nepean (Ontario)
Won her last election, in 1993, with 59.55% of the vote.
Statements in the House
Member For Nepean April 24th, 1997
Mr. Speaker, I too rise in the House today with a profound sense of privilege, regret and anticipation, for in a short time my role as the MP for Nepean will come to a conclusion.
I feel privileged to have had the honour to serve the people of Nepean in this House since 1988. It is to the Nepean constituents that I have always felt the greatest responsibility and obligation. They have been my first priority as a member of Parliament.
I feel privileged to have been instrumental in moving many issues forward in this House, issues affecting women, children and health as examples. I believe I have succeeded in speaking out for the rights and freedoms of individuals. I feel privileged to have been member of a government that also upholds these ideals.
That is why I feel regret to be leaving the seat of our democracy. I wish farewell to you, my colleagues, on both sides of this House. It has been an honour to serve in Parliament along with you. While our viewpoints may have differed, I have always respected your dedication to your constituents and to the elements of democracy.
And so to my constituents, my caucus colleagues and especially to the Prime Minister and members on the other side of the House, I thank each and every one of you from the bottom of my heart. It has been the greatest honour of my life to serve as the member of Parliament for Nepean.
Petitions April 21st, 1997
Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions on the same topic. One petition has 54 signatures, the other has 28, and most of them come from the Ottawa area.
The petitioners state that the national highway policy study identified job creation, economic development, national unity, saving lives and avoiding injuries, lower congestion, lower vehicle operating costs and better international competitiveness as benefits. They call on Parliament to join with the provincial governments to make the national highway system upgrading possible.
Employment March 21st, 1997
Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Human Resources Development.
The government has announced that it will be making it easier for immigrants with high tech experience to enter Canada. The reason given is that there are too few Canadians qualified to fill these jobs.
Canadian university graduates are sitting idle. The government has a youth employment strategy. Should the education process not begin right here at home?
The Budget March 21st, 1997
Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for giving me the opportunity to speak on persons with disabilities as I did not have time to do it in my speech. The proposed measures in the budget will allocate $230 million over three years to assist the disabled.
The list of expenses eligible for the medical expense credit will be broadened. We will eliminate the $5,000 limit on the deduction for attendant care expenses for disabled earners. Audiologists will be allowed to certify eligibility for the disability tax credit.
The definition of a preferred beneficiary of a trust will be broadened to include adults who are dependent on others because of mental or physical infirmity. The customs tariff will be changed to provide duty free entry for goods designed for use in this area. I could go on and on.
The Budget March 21st, 1997
Mr. Speaker, obviously the Reform member was not listening to my speech. We are a very compassionate government. We have dealt with all of these programs in a most compassionate way.
The deficit has to be reduced first. Once it is reduced then we can start on the debt. Until we get the annual operating budget in order, there is no way we can start on the annual debt.
He is quite correct in stating that if interest rates rise and if inflation rises, it would certainly hurt our ability to reduce our indebtedness, both through the annual operating deficit and the debt.
We are quite confident that we have our house in order. Interest rates are down and inflation is under control. Obviously, we are at the mercy of international markets. We hope that what he says will not happen. I really see it as being hypothetical.
The Budget March 21st, 1997
Mr. Speaker, on February 18, my hon. colleague, the Minister of Finance, presented the government's 1997 budget, its fourth budget. I am pleased to speak on this budget. I will be sharing my time with the member of Parliament from Erie, Ontario.
It is a budget for all Canadians. It is a budget that works. It is a budget that stays the course. It stays the course in a manner that is seeing the deficit fall, but remains true to the ideals that Canadians hold dear. Through this budget the government has not only ensured but strengthened the social safety net for this generation of Canadians and for generations of Canadians to come.
The 1997 budget proposes selective tax cuts for low income families, charities, the disabled, students and workers pursuing higher education, and for parents saving for their children's future educations. But it is not yet feasible to consider a broad based tax cut. When the government does so, it will ensure that a tax cut is affordable and sustainable. Broad based tax cuts would be too costly at this time. They would require additional spending cuts or an increase in the deficit. Neither of these options are acceptable to the government.
The budget continues on the course of putting Canada's finances in order in a manner that is measured, deliberate and responsible. This is an approach that is giving Canadians control of their own finances.
Financial requirements will be eliminated by 1998-99. This means that the government will not have to borrow any new money from financial markets that year for the first time in 19 years. We are restoring self-sufficiency.
Keeping inflation low and progress in deficit reduction have paved the way for dramatic declines in Canada's interest rates. In the past three years Canadian short term rates have fallen close to 5.5 percentage points, the lowest levels in close to 35 years.
By creating a favourable economic environment, the government has enabled Canadians to save thousands of dollars a year on their mortgage payments and the benefits to small business have been even more dramatic. Let me give an example. On a $1 million loan with a 10-year amortization and monthly payments, a small business would save approximately $33,395 over comparable payments in 1995.
It is true that lower interest rates take time to stimulate the economy. However, developments in late 1996 show that the lower interest rates are beginning to stimulate growth. Let me give two examples. Housing sales soared in late 1996, stimulating strong gains in new home construction. This is very evident in the riding of Nepean. Sales of consumer goods have risen strongly, led by motor vehicle sales.
As demand has grown, so too has job creation. In the last five months 61,000 jobs have been created by the private sector, the majority of which are full time jobs.
The government is not alone in its optimism. It is shared by consumer, by businesses and by private forecasters alike. Consumer confidence has risen for four quarters in succession. Business confidence is at a record level with more businesses than ever believing that, now is a good time to invest.
Canadian forecasters expect the economy to grow by 3.3 per cent in 1997 and by nearly 3 per cent in 1998. They expect the economy to create between 300,000 and 350,000 jobs during 1997 with similar results in 1998. That is good news. Even international
forecasters are impressed with Canada's achievements. The OECD expects Canada and the U.K. to lead the G7 nations in growth for 1997 and it expects Canada alone to lead the G7 in job creation this year. The IMF also paints a rosy picture of Canada's economic outlook.
While the budget is helping to create a climate for long term jobs and growth, the government is also investing in immediate job creation, bridging the gap to the stronger growth that will result from lower interest rates. Through the Canadian infrastructure works program, the government has provided $2 billion in partnership with municipalities and provinces for $6 billion worth of investment in 12,000 different projects right across the country.
In the 1997 budget the government proposes to increase this commitment by an additional $425 million. When leveraged with municipal and provincial contributions, this could translate into approximately $1.8 billion worth of new investment and hence new jobs.
To further stimulate job growth, EI premium rates will be reduced by another 10 cents on January 1, 1998 and the new hires program will completely eliminate EI premiums this year for additional employees hired by almost 900,000 eligible small businesses. This reduction of payroll taxes will save both employers and employees, including those in Nepean, $1.7 billion in 1997. That is a very significant amount.
The budget invests in both the construction sector and needy households through a $50 million extension of the residential rehabilitation assistance program.
Tourism will get a further economic shot in the arm with a $15 million injection to the Canadian Tourism Commission. And $50 million to the Business Development Bank will help finance the private sector tourism infrastructure.
Neither is rural business forgotten. The 1997 budget provides $50 million to the Farm Credit Corporation to expand its capacity to support rural economic growth and diversification. Through the community access program, rural small businesses are being helped to plug into the Internet to the tune of $30 million over three years.
Another important initiative in the budget is the reduction of the paper burden for small business. Eligible businesses will be able to file quarterly rather than monthly. Then there are the budget measures that invest in long term job creation and growth. An important component of this long term strategy is the government's support for Canadian youth and for education and skills training.
In addition to the youth employment strategy, the funds for which were provided in the 1996 budget, federal assistance for higher education and skills enhancement will be enriched by $137 million in 1998-99. This allotment will grow to $275 million annually when the full impact of these measures come into effect.
Through the proposed education credit, the tuition credit and the carry forward of the unused portion of credits, the government has demonstrated its commitment to education. Students who need help repaying their loans will have their deferral period extended from 18 to 30 months. The loan repayment schedule will be tied directly to income in co-operation with interested provinces, lenders and other groups. The registered education savings plan contribution limit will double, and parents will be able to transfer unused RESP income into their RRSPs if their children do not pursue higher education.
No long term growth strategy would be complete without investment in innovation. Again, the 1997 budget proposes the creation of the Canada Foundation for Innovation. One of the main budget initiatives, the foundation will help to modernize research infrastructure at Canadian post-secondary institutions and research hospitals in health, environment, science and engineering.
The foundation will help Canadians be at the leading edge of research and technology developments which keep our industries competitive and create the jobs of tomorrow. It will encourage the best and brightest Canadian researchers to stay in Canada. It will assist in generating the kind of technology oriented graduates the future workforce will require. With its vibrant high tech sector, benefits such as these will be invaluable to the Nepean high tech community. The foundation will develop partnerships among educational institutions, research hospitals, business and non-profit sectors, individual Canadians and the provinces which could trigger approximately $2 billion worth of spending in research infrastructure.
These initiatives are all important for the creation of jobs and growth. However, if we lost our compassion in the process it would not be worth the price. I want to stress that the government has not lost its compassion in its fight to bring down the deficit. That is evident in the budget proposals that sustain and strengthen the social safety net. Included among these measures is $300 million which will be spent over three years to improve the delivery of health services to Canadians.
These announcements address a number of recommendations made in the report by the National Forum on Health. That includes $150 million for a health transition fund to investigate new and better approaches to providing health care, $50 million allotted over three years for the Canada health information system and $100 million over three years in additional funding to the community action program for children and the Canada prenatal nutritional program.
The federal government is also providing support for medicare and other social programs through the Canada health and social transfer.
While health is of prime importance, so too is the need to ensure our children's successful passage into adulthood. That is why the budget proposal for a national child benefit system is a major step forward.
Under the national child benefit system, the federal government will introduce an enriched Canada child tax benefit, while the provinces and territories will redirect some of their spending into improved services and benefits for low income working families. The proposal includes a two-step enrichment of the current child tax benefit to create a new $6 billion Canada child tax benefit by July 1998.
Canadians with disabilities have also been addressed by the budget. As well, charities have not been ignored.
In conclusion, we are staying the course on deficit reduction. We are investing in short term and long term strategies to stimulate job creation and growth.
Commonwealth Day March 10th, 1997
Mr. Speaker, today is Commonwealth Day and this year's theme is "Talking to One Another".
I have a children's poem written by Joseph Nancoo, and I will read some of it.
Children of the Commonwealth, In countries large and small, Children of the Commonwealth, We are brothers, sisters all. Children of the Commonwealth, Of every creed and race, We are God's creation We share his love and grace. Children of the Commonwealth Let's Talk To One Another: Our unity in diversity; A model for humanity. Children of the Commonwealth, A new century challenges you To be the best-only you can be, And respect each other's dignity. Children of the Commonwealth, Remember those who led the way, Again, our Affirmations let us say, This glorious Commonwealth Day.
Supply March 7th, 1997
Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Port Moody-Coquitlam.
I addressed in my speech how the child tax benefit helps families. I outlined the different amounts of moneys. Maybe the member was not in her seat at the time but I would be delighted to repeat what I said.
Through the working income supplement and the enriched Canada child tax benefit program, the 1997 budget will help to improve the assistance available to children in low income families who are the ones who most need help. This will be increased by $195 million in June 1997. This will provide a maximum supplement of $605 for the first child, $405 for the second and $330 for each additional child.
If this is not a major benefit and a major expense that this government is putting forward to help children, families and moms and dads, then I cannot understand her question. This is a major effort on behalf of this government.
Supply March 7th, 1997
Mr. Speaker, I thank the member from the Bloc Quebecois for her kind comments.
I do not think any government in history has been as concerned about the lives of women as this government in trying to improve the lives of women and to decrease the amount of poverty among women and children.
When the finance minister was preparing his budget every government department was asked to look at every issue where there was a proposed cutback or whatever it was with regard to gender equality and gender issues. It was one of the most important things a government could be concerned about. It is too important to leave to one person, as the minister responsible for women's
issues said this morning. We have to draw in all government departments.
Maybe the member from the Bloc Quebecois was not listening too carefully to me. I outlined many areas where this government is concerned with women's and children's issues and the poverty in this country.
I have time to expand on a couple of them. When one in five lives under the poverty line that is not acceptable, I agree, but if she had listened to what I said there are many measures that we are putting in place to try to decrease that amount.
With regard to transfers to the provinces I can only speak for the province of Ontario, the area I am most familiar with. In terms of transfers to the province of Ontario, and I assume it is the same with the province of Quebec, the federal government has decreased the transfers since 1993 to today by as little as $1.5 billion. That is less than what our government departments were asked to cut back. I think it is around 11 per cent. Each government department has been cut back by 15 per cent.
Why would a premier of a province then initiate a tax benefit to the people of Ontario? Who does this tax benefit or tax cut go to? It goes to the wealthy in the province of Ontario. They are the ones who are benefiting. Who are the ones who are being hurt in the province of Ontario? It is the poor people who are not benefiting. In addition, why has the premier cut back in education and hospitals? He must come up with $4.5 billion to cover his tax cut in the province of Ontario.
Let us not blame this on the federal government. It is not our fault. That is four times the amount of money that the federal government has cut in transfers to the provinces. It is about time to put the onus where the onus should be, back on the premier of the province of Ontario.
With regard to the 10,000 jobs lost at Canada Post, I have to assume the member is referring to junk mail.
It is my understanding that that those 10,000 jobs will be picked up in another area with regard to the private sector which will then be providing the same quality of service. I hope that will be the case.
With regard to the cutbacks in social housing, it is not my understanding that there are cuts in social housing. We are working with the provinces to increase social housing in this province. In fact, we are very concerned about some of the aspects of what different provinces are doing. Again I cannot quote on Quebec, but I know that in Ontario there is talk about privatizing and we are very concerned about any effort to privatize social housing in Ontario.
I hope I have responded to her concerns.
Supply March 7th, 1997
Mr. Speaker, I am very proud to rise in my place today to speak to the motion by the hon. member for Laurentides concerning the socioeconomic condition of women.
In the course of the debate I hope the House will not lose sight of the government's role to help women support their families. The issue of how Canadians care for their families should not be separated from a discussion about the socioeconomic condition of women.
I will outline how the government is moving on three fronts to improve the well-being of women who care for families. Maybe this will respond to the previous questioner's concerns. They are assessing the value of unpaid work, reforming the national child benefit system and ensuring that child support payments are made when a family breaks up.
The first issue is the unpaid work many women perform. It includes housework, care of children and care of other dependants such as the elderly. Most of this work is done by women, two-thirds according to Statistics Canada. This unpaid work provides the foundation of society. It keep our families strong. It serves as the bedrock of the social order upon which our paid economy can be built. This unpaid work is extremely valuable to society.
In 1994 Statistics Canada placed a monetary value on it of$285 billion. Even while it contributes so much to society and the economy, unpaid work often has a detrimental impact on the socioeconomic well-being of women. For many it means they do not have the choice of entering the workforce. For others it means their chances of advancing in their careers is limited. For some it means a double shift that can wear them out.
We need a better understanding of the role unpaid work plays in helping us promote the equality of men and women. It would help Canadians rebalance the sharing of family responsibilities.
The government has established an overriding, long term initiative to measure and value unpaid work. In 1996 we counted unpaid household work, child care and elder care for the first time in the census. We expect to see the results in 1998 and will add the information to the time use surveys and evaluation methods that have already been conducted.
Our efforts are now being directed toward a framework for evaluating the policy implications of unpaid work. Part of this is being developed through joint research with other OECD countries. In the years ahead we will use the information to improve our initiatives and to promote the socioeconomic equality of women.
While the government takes long term steps to promote better policy it has also taken immediate action to improve the socioeconomic impact of how women care for their families. Nowhere is that more important than in the case of child poverty, the second broad issue I will outline before the House.
Children's poverty is intricately linked with women's poverty. Many children live in poverty because they are under the care of a lone parent. That parent is usually a women and that woman usually has to make ends meet for herself and her children with a low paying job or with the support of the social safety net.
The government has moved on all these fronts. In the last budget the Minister of Finance introduced an historic initiative, the national child benefit, which will provide more money to families where lone parent mothers must care for children. It builds on the child support reform introduced last year.
Under the benefit system, a Canada child tax benefit worth $6 billion will be in place by July 1998. That is one step in a two step process to create the new system.
Every step involved in the working income supplement, which will increase in July 1997 from $500 per family to $605 for one child, $1,010 for two children and $330 for each additional child, is good news for low income families with children who want to get into the workforce.
In July 1998, one year after we increased the working income supplement, we will combine it with a child tax benefit. Benefits will increase to all low income families in which the parents have paid work as well as those who receive social assistance.
As a result of these measures, more than 1.4 million Canadian families will see an increase in federal child benefit payments by July 1998. That represents 2.5 million children. Many women will see their socio-economic condition improve and find themselves able to take better care of their families.
The third broad area where the government has moved to improve the socio-economic condition of women through family initiatives involves the support payments for children should a family break up.
Recently this House passed child support legislation based on the premise that when parents separate or divorce, a child's standard of living should reflect the means of both parents. Children are a shared responsibility. Both parents have an obligation to support their children.
The legislation changed the way that child support payments are taxed. Child support paid under a written agreement or court order made on or after May 1, 1997 will not be deductible to the payer or included in the income of the recipient for tax purposes. Therefore the new tax rules will apply to all new orders or agreements made on or after May 1, 1997.
The legislation also introduced measures to complement provincial and territorial efforts to enforce court orders. As a result, in a province's effort to enforce a court order, federal licences can be suspended and federal pensions can be diverted.
Federal data bases, including Revenue Canada's, can be used to track defaulters. Passports can be suspended if a debtor is in persistent arrears.
We also introduced child support guidelines to make the system more predictable and offer a simpler means to update awards. They have three main elements: child support payment schedules, rules to adjust the award to reflect four types of special child related expenses, and rules to adjust the award in cases of undue hardship.
Part of the reason for introducing these guidelines was to cut down on the legal costs of determining child support. Money that is spent on lawyers would be better spent to support these children.
These changes in child support legislation were long overdue. Soon lone parents will begin to benefit from them. In many cases these parents will be women, many of whom must struggle to keep their children fed and clothed.
The burden of caring for a family under these hardships adds an enormous strain to the health and well-being of these women. It is a burden that contributes greatly to the socio-economic inequalities that women face.
This is International Women's Week. It is a time to rededicate ourselves to the challenge of creating socio-economic equality of women. We acknowledge that much remains to be done to advance women's equality.
The advances must be an inclusive process that engages all sectors and individuals to make changes happen. Governments cannot do it alone, but this government under the Prime Minister has taken some very important steps to help ensure that we will all get there together.