House of Commons Hansard #34 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.


Government Response To PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Kingston and the Islands Ontario


Peter Milliken LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8), the government's response to four petitions.

Parliamentarians' Compensation ReportRoutine Proceedings

March 10th, 1994 / 10 a.m.

Ottawa West Ontario


Marlene Catterall LiberalParliamentary Secretary to President of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the President of the Treasury Board, I am tabling this morning, in both official languages, the report prepared by Sobeco, Ernst and Young on parliamentarians' compensation.

The report, entitled Parliamentarians' Compensation , examines the allowances and privileges of members of Parliament.

The government is referring this report to the Lapointe commission to review allowances of members of Parliament.

Bill C-16Routine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Sault Ste. Marie Ontario


Ron Irwin LiberalMinister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-16, an act to approve, give effect to and declare valid an agreement between Her Majesty the Queen in right of Canada and the Dene of Colville Lake, Déline, Fort Good Hope and Fort Norman and the Metis of Fort Good Hope, Fort Norman and Norman Wells, as represented by the Sahtu Tribal Council, and to make related amendments to another act.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed.)

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.


John O'Reilly Liberal Victoria—Haliburton, ON

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I am pleased to present a petition on behalf of the constituents of Victoria-Haliburton who are vehemently opposed to the importation of serial killer cards.

This petition adds to the growing list of Canadians who are opposed to the killer cards which glorify serial killers and send a negative, violent message to the youth of our country.

The petition calls upon the Parliament of Canada to amend the laws of Canada to prohibit the importation, distribution, sale and manufacture of killer cards in law and to advise producers of killer cards that their products, if destined for Canada, will be seized and destroyed.

I note the first signature on this petition is by an 18-year old, my daughter.

(Questions answered orally are indicated by an asterisk.)

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Kingston and the Islands Ontario


Peter Milliken LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, question No. Q-1 will be answered today.

Question No. 1-

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.


Len Taylor NDP The Battlefords—Meadow Lake, SK

What is the government's intention regarding the automated security systems planned for the Fort Battleford national historic park in Saskatchewan, what is the rationale for the conversion, and what tests have been done on the system under consideration to guarantee that it works?

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Laval West Québec


Michel Dupuy LiberalMinister of Canadian Heritage

The government's intention is to install an automated security system at Fort Battleford national historic site. The system will be installed in five historic buildings, as well as the maintenance shop, administration office, visitor reception centre and storage garage by March 31, 1994.

The rationale for the conversion is to effect an annual saving of approximately $51,000, as follows:

  1. An electronic security system was approved for Fort Battleford national historic site in the 1989 management plan.

  2. Once the security system was approved for implementation, the site's two security staff were redeployed to the visitor activities department with no loss of salary.

  3. The Corps of Commissionaires was contracted through a master standing offer to provide security services on an interim basis until completion of the installation of the electronic security system.

  4. The average annual operation and maintenance (O & M) costs from April 1, 1990 until March 31, 1994 for the standing offer with the Corps of Commissionaires are $58,019 per year.

  5. One time installation costs for an automated security system are estimated at $60,000. Annual O & M cost based on existing system are estimated at $5,000 per annum (maximum).

A saving of approximately $51,000 will be realized annually, beginning April 1, 1994. In one year, installation costs will be recovered. Savings can be redirected as per the approved management plan.

The highest criteria imposed on installation proposals were utilized: all hardware had to be CSA (Canadian Standards Association) or ULC (Underwriters Laboratories of Canada) approved; must meet the approval of the Dominion Fire Commissioner and Labour Canada; only systems presently installed in several businesses and government offices across the country are being entertained as viable; generally similar systems have been used successfully at other National Historic Sites.

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The question as enumerated by the parliamentary secretary has been answered.

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.


Peter Milliken Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, I ask that the remaining questions be allowed to stand.

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Shall the remaining questions stand?

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Some hon. members


The House resumed from March 9 consideration of the motion that this House approves in general the budgetary policy of the government.

The BudgetGovernment Orders

10:10 a.m.


Maria Minna Liberal Beaches—Woodbine, ON

Mr. Speaker, this day marks the first time in history that a Liberal has stood in this House to speak on behalf of the people of Beaches-Woodbine. I am proud to be that Liberal.

As I campaigned door to door throughout last year's election, I promised the people of Beaches-Woodbine that we could have social justice and jobs. It did not have to come down to a choice of one over the other.

The budget brought down by my esteemed colleague, the Minister of Finance, reflects very much my commitment to the people of Beaches-Woodbine. He has succeeded in creating a judicious balance between the need to put our financial house in order and the equally important need to ensure that Canada remains a truly just society.

That hard to achieve balance is very important to the people of Beaches-Woodbine and to all Canadians.

Our long lasting commitment to social justice is the hallmark of our society. It sets us apart from most nations. If members think that is an overstatement, ask the millions of men and women who left their own countries over the last several decades and made a deliberate choice to become Canadians. Their being here has helped to make Canada a vibrant, dynamic model of living together, a model for the entire world.

Ours is a truly remarkable society and we must ensure throughout the nation-wide debate that is about to take place that we remain a truly just society of which we can all be proud.

We do have to take all necessary steps to arrest the growth of the deficit, reduce it to a manageable level and put in place sound economic policies to create jobs. The budget brought down by the Minister of Finance is a major first step in that direction.

The budget is, however, but one of several initiatives set in motion by the Liberal government. It is designed primarily to ensure that our financial house is put in order as quickly as is humanly possible.

I am more concerned, however, about the social justice part of the equation, that which sets us apart as a great, caring nation.

As we embark on the national debate about our social security systems, I find myself a little uncertain about the outcome.

Because of the pressure that has been placed on the economy and the social safety net by the recession there appears to be an almost panic mentality that has taken place. Get on with it is what everyone seems to say.

Because of my promise to the people of Beaches-Woodbine on social justice and jobs, I will do everything in my power to ensure that appropriate time is given and taken to ensure that the social safety net review is carried out in a worthwhile manner.

There is a great deal of talk of the stress that social programs have put on the economy but we must also look at the stress that the economy has put on the social programs. Despite some of the holes in our safety net this held out very well despite the huge demands we have put on it.

I believe that the social security system that we will need in the future should be one that can address the needs of Canadians from cradle to grave. It must be a system that is comprehensive, holistic in approach, completely accessible to all and flexible. People now are often falling between the programs.

This may mean a guaranteed income supplement. We have had a form of guaranteed income supplement in this country for quite some time. The old age security system, unemployment insurance and the way we have used them in eastern Canada has been a form of that.

We will have to make some fundamental choices, however. For instance, the labour market is changing with low value, short term and part time jobs on the increase. What choices will we make in the need for continuous upgrading of skills, the type of day care available and retirement planning?

Apart from the real fact that the comprehensive child care program is essential, if we are to have a chance at succeeding with upgrading, retraining and development of programs I believe it is our collective responsibility to ensure that children are cared for. The physical and mental well-being of children will mean healthy and well adjusted adults.

Today's youth are tomorrow's leaders. I attended a youth conference in Toronto on Tuesday of this week. It was attended by some 200 young people from all walks of life. Some had received welfare and were now on the youth employment program. Some were university graduates out of work and some were single parents on social assistance. The one thing they all had in common was their desire to want to work and their concern that maybe we, the baby boomers, were not interested in their concerns, did not understand their plight and did not have a commitment to tackle the problems that they are facing.

They made very insightful observations about the strengths and weaknesses of the current social assistance programs and their recommendations I thought were very practical and realistic. These are some of their statements:

"Most kids decide what to do by grade 10. They either stay in school or they drop out. So why can we not start apprenticeship as a career choice at grade 10". "I was asked to move back home in order to receive employment and training assistance", said another. "I have not lived at home since I was 15, so why am I going to move back now"?

Yet another: "I had to drop out of my college program because student aid was not enough and welfare would not pay if I received student aid. I now owe $3,000 in student loans, but still do not have an education. I really want to be an interior decorator".

Grants for students should come back.

They refer to themselves as the lost generation. They asked me if the government was really serious about addressing their needs. I said that if we did not do anything at this time and did not move quickly, we would be totally negligent and very stupid. They are the future of this country and we must meet their needs.

Social programs might cost more than we would like at first, but in the long run we save. If a young person is working they pay taxes. They will be able to create other jobs as they build their own businesses.

A comprehensive child care program allows parents to work and results in healthier children and we will save on further social costs.

Finally, the cost of the delivery of the programs does not necessarily have to be as costly as it is today. If we use an integrative approach instead of a selective approach and utilize all existing infrastructures such as schools for child care, the voluntary sector, and developed one stop shopping for all three levels of government it might just save some money. Economic renewal does not have to be at the expense of social justice. In fact, I believe that a strong social justice system will aid economic development

As I stated at the outset I am the first Liberal since confederation to stand in the House and represent the people of Beaches-Woodbine. And, yes, I do consider this an honour. The Beaches part of the riding's name derives from the fact that we have the best area of beach in metropolitan Toronto. Every summer and throughout the year thousands of people from outside the riding descend on the beaches and become honorary beachers for several hours of a day.

Our international jazz festival attracts upwards of 60,000 people, devotees of jazz across North America. The beach

family festival reflects a devotion to family and community that makes the beaches such a great place to live.

The Woodbine part of my riding's name takes up from the tree lined streets of the beach to Little India at Gerrard and Coxwell, the family run stores of the Danforth, the postcard perfect bungalows of the seniors in East York and the largely immigrant population high rise towers of Crescent Town. Does it not sound beautiful?

Beaches-Woodbine is a truly diverse riding and being the member for that area is a rewarding and demanding challenge. We have no factories in Beaches-Woodbine, no company head offices despite a large number of small businesses. We are very much dependent on opportunities for jobs outside the riding. That is why it is very important to us to ensure that metro Toronto gets its fair share of the infrastructure program and all other programs for economic stimulus.

As Toronto grows so does Beaches-Woodbine. You can be sure, Mr. Speaker, that I will avail myself of every opportunity to ensure that Toronto gets its fair share and makes its fair contribution to the growth and prospects of the whole country.

It is the whole country that should be speaking in the House in the debate on the budget, the social security system, our defence, health care and other national issues. We simply cannot afford to pull back, to think only of our ridings and of our regions. Today more than ever before it is important that we speak as one, as one country, one nation, one great people.

Mr. Speaker, I want to assure you that the people of Beaches-Woodbine will be well represented in national debate. We will be heard.

The BudgetGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Congratulations to the member on what I take was her maiden speech.

The BudgetGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.


Gilbert Fillion Bloc Chicoutimi, QC

Mr. Speaker, first I would like to commend the hon. member opposite for the comments she made in her speech. Since we started this debate on the budget, I believe this is the first time we have heard a Liberal member who is so emphatic about social justice, who tells the government to take its time in carrying out the reforms it plans to make and to examine all sides of the question in order to create the kind of social justice-and I was particularly struck by this comment-that will guarantee a better future for our young people, and the hon. member is to be commended for saying so. Throughout her speech, she repeatedly referred to the future of our young people and the fact that they too will have to make a life for themselves. I am sure that many members of her party will be mindful of what she said in her speech, for the greater benefit of young people in Quebec and Canada.

I understand where the hon. member is coming from, because I have worked with teenagers for many years, and the problems you described and heard described by various people sound familiar. I must say, Madam, I am impressed.

Before we finish, I would like to ask how you intend to persuade the Liberal caucus to share your views?

The BudgetGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.


Maria Minna Liberal Beaches—Woodbine, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member opposite for his kind comments.

In my caucus there is very open discussion on these issues. We have embarked on something that is quite unusual. A standing committee of the House normally does not embark on public hearings prior to legislation or prior even to a proposal being put before the House. In fact we are doing that right now, talking to Canadians to hear their concerns about these issues.

Once the proposals are presented to the House by the minister, which will be a discussion paper not yet legislation, we will again travel this country to discuss with every Canadian who wishes to talk with us. We will try to reach as broadly as we can to discuss those proposals and to share what kinds of ideas we want to share and to see what future we want to have.

I will continue to fight and work within my own caucus. A lot of my colleagues agree with me. I do not have to work very hard. I have a tremendously strong and very committed caucus with regard to social justice. I do not think that is something we need to be concerned about too much.

Once legislation is brought in at the end of the year at that point we will be able to consult on the legislation itself.

To explain to members opposite, there will be plenty of time to be able not only to share ideas but to work out solutions, to adjust and to share them and discuss them again with Canadians. Certainly for my part I intend to hold two or three public consultations in my riding. Every member of the House can do the same. In fact I think they are being asked to do the same by the minister so that we have as broad a consultation on this issue as possible.

Certainly the commitment that I have to social justice which is 20 years long is not going to diminish during this process but rather will increase.

The BudgetGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.


John Murphy Liberal Annapolis Valley—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, as this is my first formal speech in the House of Commons I would like to begin by offering a message to my constituents of Annapolis Valley-Hants. I thank them for putting their trust in me to represent their views in Parliament. I consider it an honour

and a privilege to have been elected to this position. Julia, Patrick, Kelly and I consider ourselves most fortunate to live in the valley where the warmth and generosity of our people enhance the natural beauty of our area.

When my Liberal colleagues and I were elected to form the government last October, it was as a result of our commitment to jobs and long term economic growth. This budget is a first step in fulfilling the commitment and promise made at that time. It strikes a balance between economic renewal, social policy reform and deficit reduction, a balance that will provide the foundation for jobs and growth.

This budget offers fundamental restructuring of our thrust to this balance so we can move from a passive system to an active one. The changes we are offering will cause some pain but this new active approach will bring on the creativity that is inherent in the people of my riding of Annapolis Valley-Hants and of all Canadians.

I know there is a lot of unemployment in my riding and I feel very badly. It is easy for me to say this because I am fortunate; I have a job. However, I will commit my energies to be a part of the process that will create jobs in my riding.

I recently had an opportunity to travel to CFB Greenwood and meet with the base commander and the defence staff. I have also had a chance to meet with the regular forces and reservists at Camp Aldershot. I am extremely impressed by the dedication, commitment and high levels of professionalism of these military personnel. While these centres have only been minimally affected by the budget, I will work to ensure that the military and civilian jobs at these bases remain secure over the long term.

As the budget indicates, one of the most effective ways to encourage economic growth and jobs is through support of the small business sector. I have talked with many small business owners in my constituency who believe that the federal government can play a very active role in helping small business not only remain viable but grow and create new jobs. I am also working very closely with the local agricultural industry which is the backbone of small business in the community of Annapolis Valley-Hants. By working with this local advisory group we can best determine how the government and the agricultural sector can work together to create jobs.

I have also in the past had the pleasure of working closely with first-rate institutions such as the Acadia University Centre for Small Business. Such centres are not only promoting local community networks but also provide valuable information services to help individuals get their ventures off the ground.

According to a recent survey conducted by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, a freeze or reduction in government payroll taxes was one of the most important conditions necessary for small business owners to hire more employees.

We have listened. By rolling back unemployment insurance premiums for small business, we are providing these firms with incentives necessary to increase both investment and job creation. I applaud the Minister of Finance's announcement that we are moving ahead with programs such as the Canada investment fund, the Canadian technology network, and a commitment to work closely with banks to improve access to capital for small business.

Aside from assisting small business, this budget has set the foundation for economic recovery through a number of important initiatives. First, the national infrastructure program is progressing rapidly. In Nova Scotia the federal contribution for this program over two years will be $69 million. Annapolis Valley-Hants is largely a rural riding and, having high quality physical infrastructure, it is imperative for the future economic viability of both the businesses and individuals who call this area their home.

Organizations in my area have submitted several innovative proposals and I hope they will receive positive approval.

Another major commitment we have made in this budget is the extension of the RRSP home buyers program. Prior to the budget I received many letters from the real estate companies and home builder associations in Annapolis Valley-Hants in support of this program. All of these letters indicated the housing industry will play a central role in Canada's economic recovery and that by promoting this program over the long term the government would be greatly assisted in this recovery.

The budget also makes a $50 million a year commitment to the residential rehabilitation assistance program. This will further boost the housing construction industry and help create many jobs.

The most important aspect of our commitment to economic restructuring however is our pledge to help individuals obtain the skills necessary to find meaningful jobs. It is my commitment to the people of Annapolis Valley-Hants that I will work tirelessly in this endeavour.

By investing in programs such as the Canada youth service corps, the youth internship and apprenticeship programs, we will assist young Canadians in gaining the training and skills necessary for jobs for the long haul.

I have received over a dozen phone calls in the last week from groups and individuals interested in putting forward proposals for the national youth service corps. I am committed to working

closely with youth interest groups in the riding to assist them in getting involved and benefiting from these important programs.

With respect to education and training I would like to take the opportunity to mention one program which is currently under way in my riding. It is a technology recycling program sponsored by a non-profit organization, Nova Knowledge, in conjunction with the federal government and a number of private sector organizations.

The purpose of the program is to collect used computers from organizations planning to purchase newer technology. These computers then go into community colleges across the province and students refurbish and repair them for shipment to many Nova Scotia schools.

I am proud to say that the province's first program is located in Annapolis Valley-Hants. Students at Kingstec Campus, Nova Scotia Community College in Kentville have refurbished more than 20 computers at this point in time which have gone to public schools. These are the types of innovative programs this government is committed to.

We are working with all the stakeholders to provide valuable training programs which will serve to benefit the local and national economy now and in the future. An important part of our commitment to education and training is our pledge to ensure that people collecting social assistance have access to skills upgrading programs.

It is quite clear the old system is not working. We need to find and make more jobs available. We need to make our approach more active. When we offer assistance we must also offer the opportunity to develop the necessary skills to find a meaningful job. At the same time we must assist small and medium sized businesses in creating a fertile economic environment.

As both the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Human Resources Development have outlined, by revamping our social assistance program we will be able to reinvest our resources into initiatives geared toward finding innovative ways to get people back to work. In that regard I applaud the announcement of $800 million being made available over the next two years for pilot projects so that we can help with the training of the unemployed.

I am confident this budget will set the course for growth and jobs in Canada. I believe these initiatives will have a positive impact in my riding of Annapolis Valley-Hants. I am proud that as a government we are fulfilling our commitment.

The BudgetGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.


Paul Crête Bloc Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask a very brief question to the hon. member. In his speech, he mentions that the deficit is quite reasonable, but the fact is that it is the biggest deficit ever announced by a government, a $39 billion deficit. Does he believe that such a deficit is acceptable? Should he not rather try to convince his government to review spending so that we can really make the necessary cuts and get room to manoeuvre to really create jobs, not only in the infrastructure area, where jobs are less specialized, but also all other types of jobs?

The BudgetGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.


John Murphy Liberal Annapolis Valley—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question. What really arises is that we are attentive to the deficit. We have spent a great deal of time trying to explain that issue to members across the way.

My emphasis is not less on the deficit, because we need deficit reduction and we are working toward that goal. However it must be remembered that we have to create a climate in which there is economic growth so that we can work on that deficit. This is a parallel, two-pronged approach which we need to work on.

I only tried to emphasize job creation, training and the advancement of an economic climate because in my riding I can make some differences working with people. I certainly have had an opportunity to talk with our Minister of Finance and our caucus over time. Yes, we are working on the deficit. I would only encourage members opposite that we work together.

I came to Parliament so that I could work with people to get them back to work and achieve economic recovery. I come from a psychiatric background and know what dependency is all about. I have been at it for 30 years. I want to see people become more independent. That is a goal for Canada, for members across the way and for our party. I look forward to the enhancement of that in my work here in Parliament.

The BudgetGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.


John Cannis Liberal Scarborough Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate the member for his presentation. I was very impressed with what he focused on. There is no question he outlined our deficit problem but it is very simple. He emphasized economic renewal. If we through the programs he outlined enhance economic renewal there is no question we are going to be addressing that problem.

I was impressed by how he used the approach that we have now moved from a passive to an active system. That is a prelude to attacking this deficit problem. More so I was impressed with the used computer concept, to refurbish them for use by schools.

I would like to introduce this program in my riding. We are accomplishing two things. First, we are educating people on how to train and upgrade themselves by repairing the computers. Second, we are passing this on to other institutions which use the refurbished computers thus allowing people to elevate themselves to a higher level.

There is no question that automation is where it is at today and where society is heading in the future. Therefore, the passive to the active system has very much impressed me. I thank him for sharing that.

The BudgetGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.


John Murphy Liberal Annapolis Valley—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, I have thought for a long time this was the route we had to follow. There is pain in this route, but I believe when we move from the passive to the active we bring on creativity. As a government we are allowing people to create opportunities and jobs. Therefore as a government we become facilitators. We are not the creators. We are the facilitators helping small and medium sized businesses get started and get the economic recovery back on track.

The BudgetGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.


Suzanne Tremblay Bloc Rimouski—Témiscouata, QC

Mr. Speaker, in this budget the government has attacked the most vulnerable members of our society. Unfortunately, the elderly and the unemployed had less clout than the Liberal Party's backers. This is unacceptable, and some day, Quebecers and Canadians will remember this.

We strongly condemn the $7.5 billion cuts in social programs especially as they affect unemployment insurance. A slow recovery, with little stimulus for employment, is hardly the answer to the tremendous economic problems facing us today.

The safety net introduced by Canadians is now, more than ever before, absolutely essential to the survival of individuals, families and communities that are in need. And now, when we need it most, the minister has decided to weaken the safety net.

The budget has attacked all aspects of the unemployment insurance program: benefit periods and rates have been reduced; to qualify for unemployment insurance, a person must have worked at least 40 weeks in his first job; and it now takes 12 weeks instead of 10 to be eligible for benefits. A measure that will be particularly hard on seasonal workers, for instance.

Incidentally, Serge Côté and Normand Anctil of the group for interdisciplinary research on regional development in Eastern Quebec at the University of Quebec in Rimouski have just published a study conducted with the co-operation of with the Minister of Human Resources Development. According to the study, 25 per cent of the unemployed in Rimouski are seasonal workers, and the figures is 50 per cent in the rest of the region, which means they represent 37 per cent of UI claimants. The study also found that 83 per cent of seasonal workers would prefer regular, steady jobs, which puts the lie to the stereotype that these workers are lazy and perfectly happy the way they are.

The minister has cleverly camouflaged cuts in benefits as a way to help low-income women, while at the same time invading the privacy of these women, who will be entitled to more benefits only if they can prove to UI employees-who are not always very understanding or forthcoming-that they have dependents and are the sole breadwinner. Moreover, women whose only fault is to try to get a second income for the family will be discriminated against, since they will suffer a reduction in their payments.

The Minister is thus launching a policy of intrusion into women's private lives, refusing them the right to live or cohabit with whoever they please, very often solely to save money and make ends meet.

What about social housing? During the election campaign, the Minister had personally promised that a Liberal government would, as it should, guarantee to one million Canadian families decent housing at a reasonable price. Looking at his budget, we realize that he forgot that promise. In 1989, $133 million were allocated to public housing. In 1993, the amount is down to $41 million and, in 1994, it will be nil, no money being allocated to new social housing projects.

What is worse, the government is refusing that municipalities use the infrastructure program to build social or co-op housing. Yet, building housing units is profitable in many respects. Because they are saving on rent, people can spend more; social expenses for shelter, soup kitchens or protective lodging are reduced; they offer greater security to low income seniors who cannot afford private foster homes.

The Minister should look around, because the situation is disastrous. In my riding, you can tell people are getting poorer by the fact that 40 per cent of households must spend more than 30 per cent of their income on housing. Senior citizens who are going to be affected by the elimination of the tax credit or the changes in their pension plan, as we now know, will see their situation deteriorate.

While the government is making cutbacks and is overlooking job creation, their friends can live in peace. In fact, the contribution made by businesses to government revenue over the last ten years has decreased. If only the minister had the courage to establish a minimum corporate tax, like the one in United States, taxpayers would pay less and might even benefit from a lowering of taxes without any changes required to our social programs.

At a time when the GST is a nightmare for all Canadians, the minister, once again, has spared the holders of some $25 billion worth of listed shares when he could have gained substantial revenues by taxing them.

I want to take a closer look now at some aspects of the expenditure plan of Canadian Heritage. The budget announces that the red book is going to be fully implemented, including an investment of $60 million over a period of three years in the cultural sector. That is great news if you think it involves new money, but such is not the case. In fact, as it is said in

The Budget

Plan, these initiatives will be "funded through internal departmental reallocations".

The government cuts with one hand and reinvests with the other. The left hand does not know where it will cut and the right one does not know where it will reinvest. I hope the Holy Spirit will enlighten the Prime Minister, the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Canadian Heritage, and that this new trinity will inform this House as soon as possible.

The estimates for the Department of Canadian Heritage are all the same: they give us very little indication about where the government is heading. On that point, the Minister of Canadian Heritage should make the Cabinet understand the importance of culture not only as part of our national identity, but also as a major driving force behind our economy, and increasingly so.

It is unfortunate that the federal government's inconsistency should have such an impact on major institutions such as the CBC and Telefilm Canada at a time when the main industries of the future are telecommunications and entertainment. The cuts of $100 million will be maintained for 1995 and 1996 for CBC and, during the coming years, the Corporation will have to deal with a structural deficit which will amount to $169 million by 1996.

The Minister of Finance is saying to CBC: Make the cuts yourself, take on that responsibility. Like Pontius Pilate, he is washing his hands of the whole question.

Moreover, the government keeps on repeating that it is guaranteeing CBC a five-year budget, but one should remember that, during the last campaign, this same government was promising that it would maintain social programs. Barely four months after the Liberals' coming to office these solemn promises have vanished into thin air. You understand now why we are working so diligently to bring about Quebec's sovereignty, so that we will not be around three years from now, when this government goes back on all the promises it made over and over again.

As far as Telefilm Canada is concerned, this budget maintains the 10 per cent cut in its operating budget announced by the previous government. As a result, for 1994-1995, Telefilm must give $10 million back to Treasury Board. The overall cut of more than $116 million over five years is maintained, at a time when the emergence of new technologies and specialty channels create an almost limitless demand for cultural material of Quebec and Canadian origin.

The Liberal government could not come up with a better idea than clipping the wings of such an essential cultural agency. However, to have us believe that culture is of great concern to them, the Liberals exempted Telefilm Canada from a further 5 per cent cut.

On behalf of the francophone and Acadian communities, one must rejoice in the reinstatement of the Court Challenge Program, the abolition of which they had condemned. It is thanks to this program that the right to be educated in French in Canada was recognized. However, I would like to point out that even though the courts have upheld this right, its formal recognition still leaves a lot to be desired in Canada.

In another connection, I would like to add that the Minister of Canadian Heritage recently allotted enormous amounts of money for the promotion of a failure, Canadian federalism. Here are a few examples.

Communications strategies, $16 million; negotiation of constitutional amendments for native people, $27 million; Knowing Canada Better Program, $6 million; for a better understanding between Canadians, $15 million; Canada Day, $3.6 million-48 per cent more than what was anticipated; the 125th anniversary of Confederation, $22 million; forty-two medals commemorating the 125th anniversary, $1.3 million.

Time is running out and I would be remiss if I ended my speech without saying a few words about amateur sport and especially about the Athlete Assistance Program. The Minister of Canadian Heritage went to Lillehammer where he met athletes and gave an interview on television. In answer to questions by two Quebec gold medallists, Gaétan Boucher and Sylvie Bernier, the minister admitted that the athlete assistance policy would have to be reviewed.

The last budget increase for that program goes back to 1985. To compensate for the loss of buying power due to inflation since then, benefits under the Athlete Assistance Program should have been raised by at least 43 per cent. What did the heritage minister do? He accepted a budget cut of 7 per cent which will bring average benefits to individual athletes down to $5,100 a year from $5,500.

The federal government lost no time in claiming the gold medallists of the last Olympics in the name of national pride and rewarding them with the country's highest decoration, but as for helping them on a day-to-day basis, they force them to live below the poverty line.

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10:50 a.m.


Julian Reed Liberal Halton—Peel, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take a couple of minutes to reminisce after hearing the words of the member for Rimouski-Témiscouata. In 1967 I had the distinct privilege of travelling through the member's riding with 200 Boy Scouts from western Ontario. It was during Centennial Year. We travelled 3,600 miles, as they were in those days,

through the south shore of Quebec and into the maritimes and so on.

One evening we camped in the town of Rimouski in a field beside the high school. Maybe it is still an open field, I do not know. We were wonderfully treated by the people of that town and by one of the service clubs. We were treated to a typical south shore dinner of turkey and rabbit. It was a wonderful evening.

We could not speak very much French and the local people could not speak very much English. However, I recall that when we returned to the campsite from dinner the young people from the town of Rimouski had all gathered and made a big bonfire. We discovered that we could sing together. We sang songs in both languages until about three o'clock in the morning. When we finally recovered and got on the buses we recalled it as one of our most wonderful experiences.

I was very interested as the hon. member talked about the need to support national identity. I concur with her in that regard. It seems to me that our duality and our national identity needs all the support it can get these days. I stand with her in that regard, even though I had a bit of a problem when she said she felt that somehow it was a lost cause. I want to go on record as saying that I do not believe it is a lost cause at all. It is the thing that makes us different in North America; it is the thing that makes us great.

I want to ask the member a question. At the outset of her speech she talked about the government is attacking the most disadvantaged seniors. Does she feel the 25 per cent of senior citizens who are in an upper income bracket of over $25,000 are disadvantaged senior citizens? I would have to challenge the statement.

I realize senior citizens deserve support and protection, but I believe many seniors in upper income brackets are willing to participate in helping Canada get out of its financial difficulty.

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10:50 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Order, please. The point has been made. It is time for the hon. member to reply.

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10:50 a.m.


Suzanne Tremblay Bloc Rimouski—Témiscouata, QC

Mr. Speaker, I mentioned two things. Presently, I want to reassure my colleague. Even when we are sovereign, he will still be welcome in Rimouski. We will still have parties on the beach and sing around a bonfire.

I think that the elderly, pensioners, did not have the chance to live in the same context that we did. They did not have a chance to save up as much as we did. Some of them did but I do not know how many. Perhaps the Minister of Finance could tell us how many of them are in his millionaires' club, but I doubt it is the majority of the seniors of our country. I think they need help.

Again, there were suggestions made, plenty of them. I mentioned two: one is a minimum corporate income tax and the other is the levying of GST on transfers of listed shares. With such measures, it would not have been necessary to make changes affecting the public or social programs. As long as there is no reform of federalist parties that keep on being financed by big funds and big business, there will never be a government in this House with the courage to change the Income Tax Act and tax those with the big bucks.

In the end, if we took care of corporations and tax shelters, we could lower the burden of taxpayers as they did in the United States instead of adding to it all the time. We cannot pay any more. If the government keeps on ignoring this simple fact, we will keep on heading towards bankruptcy.