Appropriation Act No. 3, 2001-2002

An Act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the public service of Canada for the financial year ending March 31, 2002

This bill was last introduced in the 37th Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in September 2002.

Sponsor

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament.

Public Safety Act, 2002Government Orders

May 30th, 2002 / 10:45 a.m.
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NDP

Wendy Lill NDP Dartmouth, NS

Madam Speaker, I am deeply concerned that again we have this legislation before the House in its present form. It is especially disturbing that the government has decided to refuse the reasoned and rational requests for major amendments. The bill has to be changed. Like its predecessors Bill C-36 and Bill C-45, which was wisely withdrawn, it gives priority to an anti-democratic measure taken in the name of protecting our democracy. It fails the basic test of protecting our civil liberties from the state.

We are a country with a proud tradition of fighting for democracy. On Monday, I was dockside for the return of one of our proud naval vessels from anti-al-Qaeda patrols in the Arabian Sea. It is alarming to see the paradox of our brave sailors putting their lives on the line for our democracy while parliamentarians are trying to rush through a bill which would take powers from parliament and allow more single decisions from ministers to deprive Canadians of their civil liberties.

As an example, let us first look at the part of the bill that I find most troubling, the so-called military security zones from Bill C-42. These have now been changed to “controlled access military zones” in Bill C-55. The bill, with amendments, stipulates that these zones can be created only to protect Department of National Defence property or foreign military assets within Canada. These changes do not sufficiently address our concerns about how the power to create these zones could be abused. The basic message of the bill is that all of us, and including the very institutions Canadians have created to express their democracy and protect their freedoms, like parliament, like a free press, like public debate, have to trust the decision making ability of a single minister to restrict access to a designated place for any length of time the minister would like and we should not be able to question the decision. In fact we may not even publicly know about the decision.

Given our history of policy over reaction at APEC or in Quebec City or at the G-20 meetings just down the street from our Chamber, I frankly do not trust any single minister to protect the civil liberties of Canadians. Given the state of allegations of scandal and mismanagement being levelled at the ministers opposite, I am not sure that any Canadians trust any single minister to protect their civil liberties when left behind closed doors, yet this is what Bill C-55 is asking us to do. By doing this, the bill is attacking the democratic values those brave sailors who came home on Monday are fighting to defend.

Last year, along with my leader, I met with women from the Muslim community in Halifax and Dartmouth and we heard their very real fear of the legislative changes that the government was bringing forward in response to the September 11 attacks in the United States. Many of them came to Canada because they believed that our democratic traditions would protect them from oppression, but this series of security bills, of which Bill C-55 is the latest, makes them afraid to answer their doors: once again it may be the police taking them away because of the ethnicity of their name. Specifically, I wonder if provisions of the bill could be used against them because of their religion or their ethnic background.

I have been with teachers opposed to this bill because of the attacks on their civil liberties. I have met with immigrant service organizations who tell me of the fears of their clients. This legislative reaction of the government in response to the September 11 attack goes way too far and, we believe, way too fast. Where is the sunset clause on these measures?

One of the ideas touted by numerous witnesses on Bill C-36 was the idea of an American style sunset clause. This would have had the effect of forcing the government to reintroduce, debate and amend the legislation for it to take effect for another period of time. A three-year time limit affecting different aspects of the legislation was suggested by numerous witnesses.

The New Democratic Party proposed an amendment that addressed these concerns. However, the government had already decided that it would only include a watered down sunset clause by which the House and the Senate would vote after five years for a motion to extend the investigative hearings and preventive arrest sections, two of the most controversial measures in the bill. Though this is better than no clause at all, it is not a sunset clause in the true sense. Rather than the government having to reintroduce and re-examine legislation, this would simply require that the government tell its members and senators to vote an extension of that which currently exists in Bill C-36. The government refused to sunset Bill C-36 and it has never even entertained debate on a sunset clause for Bill C-55.

In just a few weeks there will be a G-8 summit meeting in Kananaskis, Alberta. I was amused yesterday to see that the member for Wild Rose was on his feet calling protestors terrorists for insurance purposes even before any protest has taken place. Even though I fully expect that the people in the Calgary march and the demonstrations will be peaceful and I believe that if there is a protest village in the bush the only violence committed will be against the mosquitoes and the black fly population, I fear for the protestors' safety because of reactions of people like the member for Wild Rose, people who have already called these peaceful labour and anti-globalization activists terrorists, a word that has serious legal consequences thanks to Bill C-36 and Bill C-55.

After seeing the violence at the summit of the Americas in Quebec City and at the APEC conference in Vancouver, I wonder how long it will take for the minister of defence or others in the government to simply start using these laws to stifle legitimate dissent that threatens the political future of the minister, dissent that does not have any real threat for the nation. Do not get me wrong, I oppose vandalism, even of McDonald's, but I also oppose any law that would equate these actions with the evil events of September 11.

I am strongly suspicious of the government. The tens of thousands of peaceful protestors are also suspicious of the increasing use of police force against demonstrators. The stubbornness of the government in refusing reasonable amendments to this historic legislation gives credence to these suspicions.

I believe in a democratic Canada. I take our civil liberties, given in our charter, extremely seriously. Let us take the time and make the effort to produce a law that protects our security while it defends our civil liberties in this anxious period in our history.

Message from the SenateThe Royal Assent

December 18th, 2001 / 5:05 p.m.
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The Deputy Speaker

I have the honour to inform the House that when the House went up to the Senate chamber the Governor General was pleased to give, in Her Majesty's name, the royal assent to the following bills:

Bill C-6, an act to amend the International Boundary Waters Treaty Act--Chapter No. 40.

Bill C-24, an act to amend the Criminal Code (organized crime and law enforcement) and to make consequential amendments to other acts--Chapter No. 32.

Bill C-31, an act to amend the Export Development Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts--Chapter No. 33.

Bill C-32, an act to implement the free trade agreement between the Government of Canada and the Government of the Republic of Costa Rica--Chapter No. 28.

Bill C-34, an act to establish the Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada and to make consequential amendments to other acts--Chapter No. 29.

Bill C-36, an act to amend the Criminal Code, the Official Secrets Act, the Canada Evidence Act, the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) Act and other acts, and to enact measures respecting the registration of charities in order to combat terrorism--Chapter No. 41.

Bill C-38, an act to amend the Air Canada Public Participation Act--Chapter No. 35.

Bill C-40, an act to correct certain anomalies, inconsistencies and errors and to deal with other matters of a non-controversial and uncomplicated nature in the Statutes of Canada and to repeal certain provisions that have expired, lapsed or otherwise ceased to have effect--Chapter No. 34.

Bill C-44, an act to amend the Aeronautics Act--Chapter No. 38.

Bill C-45, an act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the public service of Canada for the financial year ending March 31, 2002--Chapter No. 39.

Bill C-46, an act to amend the Criminal Code (alcohol ignition interlock device programs)--Chapter No. 37.

Bill S-10, an act to amend the Parliament of Canada Act (Parliamentary Poet Laureate)--Chapter No. 36.

Bill S-31, an act to implement agreements , conventions and protocols concluded between Canada and Slovenia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Peru, Senegal, the Czech Republic and Germany for the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income--Chapter No. 30.

Bill S-33, an act to amend the Carriage by Air Act--Chapter No. 31.

Supplementary Estimates (A), 2001-02Government Orders

December 4th, 2001 / 6 p.m.
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Liberal

Lucienne Robillard Liberal Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC

moved that Bill C-45 be concurred in at report stage.

Supplementary Estimates (A), 2001-02Government Orders

December 4th, 2001 / 5:55 p.m.
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The Chairman

Order, please. House in committee of the whole on Bill C-45.

Supplementary Estimates (A), 2001-02Government Orders

December 4th, 2001 / 5:55 p.m.
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Liberal

Lucienne Robillard Liberal Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC

moved that Bill C-45, an act granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the public service of Canada for the financial years ending March 31, 2001, be read the second time and referred to committee of the whole.

Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements ActGovernment Orders

May 3rd, 2001 / 11:15 a.m.
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Etobicoke North Ontario

Liberal

Roy Cullen LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Finance

Madam Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to address the House at third reading of Bill C-18, an act to amend the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act with respect to the equalization program. The bill fulfils the government's commitment made by the Prime Minister at last September's first ministers meeting to lift the ceiling for the equalization program for the 1999-2000 fiscal year.

In addition to this commitment, the Prime Minister asked the Minister of Finance to consult his counterparts in the provinces and territories as to how best to ensure follow up. The Minister of Finance concluded his consultations before the bill was introduced on March 15.

At the first ministers meeting, landmark agreements were reached on a plan to renew health care, improve support for early childhood development and strengthen social programs. These agreements resulted, through Bill C-45, passed in the last parliament, in the largest federal contribution ever made for health, post-secondary education, early childhood development and other social programs.

Over the next five years, federal spending in these areas will total $23.4 billion, $21.1 billion of it under the Canada health and social transfer.

As hon. members know, the CHST is one of the three transfer programs through which the federal government provides support to the provinces for health care and other social programs. The other two programs are territorial formula financing and equalization. Equalization is the subject of today's debate. Today the federal government transfers approximately $40 billion to the provinces and territories through these three programs.

The purpose of the equalization program is to ensure that less prosperous provinces can provide reasonably comparable public programs and services to their residents without their taxes being out of line with those of more affluent provinces. Equalization has played an important role in defining the Canadian federation since it was established in 1957. In many ways it expresses the generous spirit of Canadians.

The program is unique among federal transfers in that its objective was enshrined in the Canadian constitution in 1982.

The constitution states as follows:

Parliament and the Government of Canada are committed to the principle of making equalization payments to ensure that provincial governments have sufficient revenues to provide reasonably comparable levels of public services at reasonably comparable levels of taxation.

Equalization is also unique in that it was one of the very few programs not touched during the period when the government was struggling to bring order to the nation's finances. This reaffirmed the importance the government attaches to the program as part of the essential fabric of the country.

Equalization payments are unconditional and provinces can spend the money as they see fit. In 2000-01 the seven receiving provinces, Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, Manitoba and Saskatchewan, received payments totalling $10.8 billion.

Since 1993 the program has grown by 33% or $2.7 billion. This rate of growth of the program demonstrates clearly that the government understands what equalization means to receiving provinces.

According to the estimates, which are updated twice a year, the program is now at its highest level ever. Over the same period, other non-transfer program spending has grown by 2.6%. The latest estimates released in February by the finance minister show that payments to receiving provinces will be about $1.8 billion higher than estimated last October. These higher figures are due in large part to the exceptionally strong growth over the last two years in Ontario, one of the non-receiving provinces, not to the poor economic performance of receiving provinces. Those economies have been improving each year.

On February 27, 2001, the Minister of Finance announced that there would be an immediate increase in equalization payments of approximately one billion dollars. Of this amount, $52 million is for 1999-2000 and $955 million is for 2000-01. The other $800 million is the additional funding that will be provided to receiving provinces through passage of the bill.

I would like to stress also, as I did during the second reading debate, that the equalization program is reviewed on an ongoing basis by federal and provincial officials to ensure that differences in the abilities of provinces to raise revenues are measured as accurately as possible. Those discussions are under way as we speak. In addition, the program is renewed legislatively every five years, most recently in 1999.

A province's capacity to provide public services obviously depends on how its economy is performing. Equalization payments therefore are based on a formula that measures the relative performance of provincial economies. The formula applies in the same way to all provinces and adjusts automatically in response to economic developments in the provinces.

When a province's economy is booming relative to other provinces, its equalization payments automatically decline under the formula. Conversely, when a province's economy and therefore its fiscal capacity, or ability to generate revenues, decline relative to other provinces, its equalization payments automatically increase. In this way the program acts as an automatic stabilizer of provincial government revenues.

I would urge hon. members to keep in mind that individual provinces do not receive the same amount of equalization because they do not have the same economic circumstances. This year, for example, Saskatchewan needs $230 per person to be brought up to the equalization standard, while Newfoundland requires $2,000 per person. Equalization payments are also subject to ceiling and floor provisions.

The capping provision, which has been applied in only 5 of the last 20 years, enables the program to grow at a rate that the federal government can sustain. By setting a maximum payment level, this provision ensures that the program does not grow at an abnormally fast rate.

The floor provision is the flip side of this coin. It provides the provinces with protection against large and sudden decreases in equalization payments that would otherwise be warranted by the straightforward application of the formula.

The equalization ceiling does not cut entitlements, as some have suggested. Rather, the ceiling allows the program's growth to mirror the rate of growth in the economy and to grow at a sustainable rate. Based on the forecast for GDP growth in last October's economic statement and budget update, the ceiling will rise to $12.5 billion in the year 2003-04.

I would now like to turn to the specific bill we are debating today, which lifts the equalization ceiling for the 1999-2000 fiscal year and only for that year. As I explained earlier, lifting the ceiling fulfils the commitment made by the Prime Minister last September at the first ministers meeting. The final communiqué released at the end of the meeting states that:

The Prime Minister agreed to take the necessary steps to ensure that no ceiling will apply to the 1999-2000 fiscal year. Thereafter, the established equalization formula will apply, which allows the program to grow up to the rate of growth of GDP.

While the final cost of lifting the ceiling will not be known until the fall of 2002 when the final estimates for 1999-2000 become available, it is currently estimated to be $792 million.

That amount will be allocated among the seven eligible provinces on a per capita basis. In order to determine the payment that will go to each, the per capita amount is multiplied by the total population of each receiving province.

Each eligible province will receive an additional $67 per person. Viewed another way, here is the total breakdown per province. Newfoundland will receive $36 million. Prince Edward Island will be eligible for $10 million. Nova Scotia will qualify for $62 million. New Brunswick will receive $50 million. Quebec will receive $489 million. Manitoba's payment will be $76 million. Saskatchewan will receive $69 million.

In conclusion, the government realizes that not all parts of the country can generate the same revenues to finance public services. Federal transfers therefore help ensure two things: first, that important programs are adequately funded, and second, that all Canadians receive reasonably comparable levels of public services regardless of where they live. Bill C-18 contributes to achieving these goals.

It underscores the priority the government places on equalization and helps ensure that the receiving provinces continue to have resources to provide the services their people need and want.

Further, it fulfils the Prime Minister's commitment to lift the equalization ceiling for the year 1999-2000, which means more money for receiving provinces.

Bill C-18 continues the tradition of fairness through which equalization has been delivered for over 40 years. I encourage all members to support the bill and pass it without delay.

Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements ActGovernment Orders

March 22nd, 2001 / 10:25 a.m.
See context

Etobicoke North Ontario

Liberal

Roy Cullen LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak today at second reading of Bill C-18 which amends the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act with respect to the equalization program.

This legislation stems from the landmark agreements reached by Canada's first ministers on September 11, 2000 on a plan to renew health care, improve support for early childhood development, and strengthen other social programs.

In support of these agreements, the federal government is making the largest contribution ever to health, higher learning and social services: a new investment of $23.4 billion over the next five years.

Most of this funding, $21.1 billion, was legislated in Bill C-45 last fall and is being provided through the Canada health and social transfer, CHST, which I will discuss in a moment.

At the first ministers' meeting, the issue of equalization was also raised.

The bill before us today fulfils the commitment made by the Prime Minister at that time to lift the ceiling on the equalization program for the 1999-2000 fiscal year.

The Prime Minister also asked the Minister of Finance to consult with provincial and territorial finance ministers on how best to follow through on this commitment. The finance minister has recently completed his consultations.

Before discussing Bill C-18, let me take a moment to set the legislation in context. I want to briefly explain how the federal system of transfer payments works and the importance of the equalization program itself.

The federal government, in partnership with the provinces and territories, plays a key role in supporting the Canadian health system and other social programs. The provinces and territories deliver their own health care, education and social services, while the federal government provides them with financial assistance through transfer payments.

Today the federal government transfers approximately $40 billion to the provinces and territories. It does this through three major programs: the CHST, equalization and the territorial formula financing.

Because of transfers, all Canadians can expect: equal access to public health care; a safety net to support those most in need; the freedom to move throughout the country to seek work; higher education and training available to all who qualify; and reasonably comparable services wherever one lives.

I will take a moment to look at each of these federal transfer programs individually because there has been some confusion and misinformation in the Canadian public.

First, I will speak to the Canadian health and social transfer. The CHST upholds the five medicare principles of the Canada Health Act: universality, comprehensiveness, accessibility, portability and public administration. It also ensures that no minimum residency period is required to receive social assistance.

This block fund is provided on an equal per capita basis to provinces and territories in the form of cash and tax transfers for health care, post-secondary education, early childhood development and social programs.

The new funding legislated last fall is the fifth enhancement in the CHST since 1995. CHST cash transfers to the provinces and territories will now rise to $18.3 billion in 2001-02, $19.1 billion in 2002-03, and $21 billion in 2005-06—at which time CHST cash will be 35% above its current level of $15.5 billion.

I will speak briefly about tax transfers. This is one of the least understood aspects of the CHST despite the fact that tax transfers are fundamental to how the program functions.

In 1977 under established programs financing, one of the CHST's predecessor programs, the federal government transferred tax points to the provinces. The federal government decreased its personal income tax by 13.5% and its corporate income tax by 1% so that the provinces could raise taxes by an equivalent amount.

The net impact of tax points on taxpayers was zero. It was totally transparent. However the impact on the federal and provincial governments was very real. Indeed, tax point transfers represent increased revenues to the provinces and foregone revenues for the federal government. It was done so the provinces and territories would have direct access to revenues to fund health care, post-secondary education and social programs.

In 2001-02 the value of transferred tax points will account for nearly $16 billion, about half the total amount provided to provinces under the CHST. That point is often forgotten by members opposite.

The second federal transfer program, equalization, provides extra funds to less prosperous provinces to enable them to offer comparable programs and services to their residents. Payments are unconditional and provinces can spend them as they see fit. In 2000-01 seven provinces are projected to receive equalization payments totalling $10.8 billion.

Territorial formula financing or TFF, the third transfer program, recognizes the higher costs of providing public services in the north. In 2000-01 payments provided under this program are forecast to be $1.4 billion.

These are the federal government's three major transfer programs and, as I mentioned, they provide approximately $40 billion annually to the provinces and territories.

Bill C-18 specifically deals with equalization, a program that in many ways expresses the generous spirit of Canada. Equalization has been in existence since 1957 and has played an important role in defining the Canadian federation. It is unique among federal transfers in that its purpose was entrenched in the Canadian constitution in 1982.

As stated in the Constitution, “Parliament and the Government of Canada are committed to the principle of making equalization payments to ensure that provincial governments have sufficient revenues to provide reasonably comparable levels of public services at reasonably comparable levels of taxation”.

Phrased another way, its purpose is to ensure that less prosperous provinces can provide reasonably comparable public services without their taxes being out of line with those of more affluent provinces.

At present, seven provinces qualify for federal support under equalization: Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, Manitoba and Saskatchewan. Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia are not eligible.

The fact that equalization was one of the few programs exempted from restraint measures during the mid-1990s illustrates the importance the government attaches to it. The government clearly understands what equalization means to receiving provinces.

Equalization has increased faster than anticipated. It has grown by 33%, or $2.7 billion, since our government took office. Equalization estimates are updated twice a year as newer data become available regarding economic developments and their impacts on provincial revenues.

Estimates show that equalization is at its highest level ever. The latest official estimates released by the finance minister in February show that payments to receiving provinces will be about $1.8 billion higher than estimated last October.

These higher figures are not due to the poor economic performance of receiving provinces. On the contrary, payments are increasing immediately by an estimated $1 billion due in large part to the exceptionally strong economic growth in Ontario over the last two years.

Of this amount, $52 million is for 1999-2000 and $955 million is for 2000-01. The other $800 million is the additional funding that will be provided to receiving provinces through passage of the bill.

Allow me a moment to explain how the equalization program operates. It is quite technical and misunderstood. Equalization is the most important federal program for reducing differences in the abilities of provincial governments to raise revenues. Federal and provincial officials review the program on an ongoing basis to make sure the differences are measured as accurately as possible.

In addition, the legislation is reviewed every five years. The last renewal was in 1999. Payments are calculated according to a formula set out in federal legislation, and adjust automatically in response to economic developments in the provinces.

When a province's economy is booming relative to other provinces, its equalization payments automatically decline under the formula in proportion to the increased wealth of the province. Conversely, when a qualifying province's fiscal capacity declines due to a slowdown in its economy, its equalization transfer automatically increases.

In this way, the program acts as an automatic stabilizer of provincial government revenues. Equalization payments are subject to “ceiling” and “floor” provisions.

The ceiling provision provides protection to the federal government against unexpected increases in equalization payments. In other words, the ceiling prevents changing economic circumstances from driving equalization payments through the roof. The ceiling thus ensures the program remains sustainable in the long run.

The floor provision is the other side of the coin. It provides protection to provincial governments against sudden large decreases in equalization payments.

The ceiling for 1999-2000 was set at $10 billion and, except for the provisions in this bill, will grow at a rate equal to the growth of GDP in subsequent years.

I now turn specifically to Bill C-18, which lifts the equalization ceiling only for the 1999-2000 fiscal year. As I explained earlier, lifting the ceiling fulfils a commitment made by the Prime Minister last September at the first ministers meeting.

The communiqué issued at the end of the meeting clearly states that “the Prime Minister agreed to take the necessary steps to ensure that no ceiling will apply to the 1999-2000 fiscal year. Thereafter, the established Equalization formula will apply, which allows the program to grow up to the rate of growth of GDP”.

While the final cost of removing the ceiling will not be known until the fall of 2002 when the final estimates for 1999-2000 become available, the cost is projected to be $792 million.

That amount will be allocated among the seven eligible provinces on an equal per capita basis. Each will receive the same amount of money per person because the ceiling affects all provinces in the same way. Removing the ceiling for 1999-2000 means that each receiving province will receive $67 per person.

The total breakdown per province is as follows: Newfoundland will receive $36 million. Prince Edward Island will be eligible for $10 million. Nova Scotia will qualify for $62 million. New Brunswick will receive $50 million. Quebec will get $489 million. Manitoba's payment will be $76 million, and Saskatchewan will receive $69 million.

I want to clarify an issue relating to the new equalization estimates released in February. The recent announcement of an additional $1.8 billion in equalization payments has generated reaction among some people. Some see the funds as a slap in the face if their own province's allocation is small, or they complain of favouritism if the allocation to other provinces is large.

Equalization payments are based on a formula that measures the relative performance of provincial economies. That formula is applied the same way to all provinces.

All provinces that have a revenue-raising capacity below the standard receive payments from the federal government. Why? Because the federal government is committed to the idea that all provinces should be able to provide comparable levels of service to their residents.

Provinces do not receive the same amount of equalization because they do not have the same economic circumstances. This year Saskatchewan needs $230 per person to be brought up to standard, while Newfoundland needs $2,000 per person. Per capita figures are multiplied by the total population of a province to arrive at the total equalization payment.

Quebec, despite the second lowest per capita equalization entitlement, generally receives the highest total payment because of its large population. At the other extreme, P.E.I., with its second highest per capita entitlement, generally receives the lowest total payment because of its small population. I hope these explanations will help clarify the issue for my hon. colleagues.

I will review a few points. All parts of the country cannot generate the same revenues to finance public services. Federal transfers, therefore, help ensure that important programs are adequately funded. Transfers also help ensure that all Canadians receive reasonably comparable levels of public services no matter where they live in Canada.

The result is that we all benefit from knowing we live in a country where health care, education and basic public services are provided at roughly comparable levels of quality in all provinces.

In considering the legislation I urge all hon. members to keep in mind that federal transfers have increased significantly in the last few years. Over $35 billion has been added to the CHST. Equalization entitlements are up $2 billion annually since 1995-96 and are expected to increase. Removing the equalization ceiling for 1999-2000 will add almost $800 million to transfers alone for that year.

I want to impress upon this House that, through this bill, we are fulfilling the Prime Minister's commitment to lift the equalization ceiling for 1999-2000, which means more money for the receiving provinces. Bill C-18 underscores the priority the government places on equalization and helps ensure that the receiving provinces continue to have resources to provide the services their people need and want.

I will conclude with a quote from the finance minister. After his meeting with the Atlantic finance ministers a few weeks ago, he said:

The federal government in the end always has to act in the national interest, and part of that acting in the national interest is ensuring that every single province is treated fairly.

This is exactly what Bill C-18 does. It continues the tradition of fairness with which equalization has been delivered for over 40 years. I urge all hon. members to pass this legislation without delay.