House of Commons Hansard #42 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was children.


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10:40 a.m.


Rex Crawford Liberal Kent, ON

I apologize, Mr. Speaker. I ask the hon. member if I could have her support and her party's support in this very important matter of ethanol.

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10:40 a.m.


Francine Lalonde Bloc Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, you can tell the hon. member that I will be very interested in learning more about that. From what I understand, he could get our support.

If I may, I would like to add that, in Quebec, we have really developed an expertise, because we had some problems, we always have serious problems and we know how important it is to combine in a synergic effort-although I do not really like that word-forces that exist in an area. It takes time, but it is the only sure recipe. Governments must know that macro-economic policies absolutely have to be implemented, promoted and, surely, prevented from interfering with what is going on at the local and regional level.

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10:40 a.m.

Western Arctic Northwest Territories


Ethel Blondin-Andrew LiberalSecretary of State (Training and Youth)

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise to respond to the motion moved by the hon. member for Mercier.

I am very glad to reiterate for all hon. colleagues of the Bloc Quebecois the Liberal vision of Canada. It is a Canada that offers to all young Canadians the kind of opportunities to work, to grow and to prosper as so many other Canadians enjoyed before them.

It should be noted that part of a government's vision is responding in an accountable, responsible and innovative way to what it sees around it, and not only responding to the problems but capturing the spirit of the potential that is there. This is what we as a government are attempting.

I also welcome the opportunity to expand on this government's actions to date on how we will create jobs and opportunities through an integrated and effective approach to investing in people. As the Secretary of State for Youth and Training, I specifically would like to address the House on what concrete measures this government is taking to improve the job prospects of our young people, to get young Canadians back to work in the mainstream of the workforce.

I should perhaps preface the rest of my speech with some comments about how inspired I have been in my travels across this country since having been appointed secretary of state. I have met young people from all across the country, from the east to the west, from the north to the south. It has been very inspirational for me to know there is vast potential for us to work with.

We have a wealth of resources in the ideas, the energy and the leadership among young people. It should be noted that generally young people have the potential, the talent, the ability and the willingness. They need the opportunity and this is what I would like to address today.

Other hon. members of the government will rise to speak on the Liberal vision for Canada and how that vision is fuelling concrete measures on several fronts to mobilize Canada's economic and human resources to create jobs and opportunities for all Canadians.

During the election last fall the Liberal Party articulated a vision for a Canada where people live and prosper with a sense of hope and opportunity. Our vision was clearly spelled out in the Liberal platform called "Creating Opportunity" or the red book.

It is a vision of an independent country that is economically strong, socially just, proud of its diversity and characterized by integrity, compassion and competence. These are the guiding principles that generations of Canadians live by and they laid the foundations for a great country and a fair society. The government stands behind these principles and we will create opportunities that reflect our strong belief in them.

As the hon. member for Mercier is no doubt aware, the Liberal vision for a strong, cohesive and productive country hit a responsive chord among many Canadians. They increasingly felt isolated by their institutions, worried for our young people and uncertain about their future.

The previous government adopted a wait and see attitude to social and economic policy and left Canadians to fend for themselves. However, this government has acted quickly to address the new social and economic realities of a global

economy by inviting Canadians to engage in a far reaching examination and rebuilding of the very structures that have made this country so great.

The impetus for change can be seen all around us. Where Canadians were once sure footed, they now feel they are slipping. Nowhere is the degree of uncertainty and the desire for change greater than when we hear the call from our young people to give them opportunities to contribute to their community, their country and to join in with other Canadians in building a brighter future for this nation.

Canada cannot risk seeing a generation of young people sidelined in the job market because we did not have the right programs at the right times. Canada had over 400,000 young people under 25 who were looking for work each month in 1993. That is an unacceptably high unemployment rate of over 18 per cent. Without opportunity they will lose hope.

In human terms, there are a lot of idle young people whose talents are being wasted. We need to ensure that young people have better opportunities like access to work, education, job training or community service. It is not for lack of interest. It is for lack of opportunities that this situation exists.

The most recent labour force survey shows that while the number of unemployed in Canada is down, the youth unemployment rate is rising. It reached 18.1 per cent last month, its highest level since last June.

We want to rebuild the social safety net for young Canadians who need help to get their lives back on track. In restoring the sense of security and opportunity, we want to offer choices that will help them make their way in the workforce. That is what the social security reform will accomplish.

I want to make it clear that helping young people make the transition from school to the workforce is a major focus of social security reform.

The government is calling on all Canadians to join in rebuilding our social security net. We are strongest when we act as a team. We are strongest when we combine the talents of governments, business, labour, educators, community groups and our youth. Together we have the human resources necessary to find solutions. Together we can do a better job.

Young Canadians have as much to contribute and to gain from the rebuilding of our social safety net as any other age group in the country. They are a top priority because they are our future workforce.

Young people will be the beneficiaries of these revitalized social programs. They will see the productive outcomes of a social security net that rewards effort, offers incentives to work and restores hope for the future.

Our vision is to create a more productive economy by investing in the potential of our young people. To do this we have to recognize the needs of young people who are in the workforce now and looking for a meaningful outlet for their talents, energies and ideas.

We also have to plan for the next generation too: those students who are just entering high school now and who will be planning their careers for a yet unknown job market and the generation after them as well.

Social security reform is being propelled by a strong desire to meet the social and economic needs of Canada head on. Canada's social programs have served us well but they were designed in a different time for different circumstances. We cannot keep waiting. The realities of the next century are on us.

On January 31 the Minister of Human Resources Development announced a three stage process for social security reform. It involves the participation of Canadians from all levels of the community.

A parliamentary standing committee has been holding public hearings and is scheduled to submit its report to the House later this week. We have met a number of times with our partners at the provincial and territorial levels. These meetings will continue. A task force has been appointed to advise the minister. From these discussions an action plan will be drafted and tabled in the House in late April or early May. Canadians will be consulted on proposals for social security reform to be outlined in the action plan.

We are moving quickly because the economic prospects of young Canadians can only improve if our system which can help them make that transition from school to work is redesigned and improved to meet their pressing needs.

It is time to rethink our priorities and come up with a plan to meet the needs of our young people, our workforce and our society in the 1990s and beyond. In doing so we will also put in place a system that is responsive, compassionate and economical.

The majority of jobs created now to the year 2000 will require at least 17 years of education and training. That is high school, plus four or more years of further schooling. Employers have raised the ante. Yet approximately 60 per cent of young people go looking for work right after high school. The doors to entry level jobs will be closed to them unless we give them the opportunities to improve themselves.

Youth unemployment is directly linked to education and training. Between 1990 and 1993 jobs held by university graduates increased by 17 per cent. The uneducated and undereducated are being squeezed out of the workforce. The longer they are out of the job market, the harder it will be to get back in. The gaps on a young person's résumé will put them at a great

disadvantage when they are up against newer graduates just entering the workforce.

Young Canadians have the highest unemployment rate and are the most vulnerable to economic downturns. There may be fewer youths compared to their baby boomer predecessors. However, their needs are more pronounced because of the increasingly complex world they are entering, in terms of the workforce, what is productivity for a nation per se and because of global competitiveness as well.

The federal government is offering jobs and hope to young people who have been hit hard by the recession and have fallen between the cracks in trying to find a job after leaving school. The failure to make that transition has a ripple effect on the economy and society.

What is particularly disturbing is the growing number of young people who have never held a job. That is why it is essential that we help young Canadians.

The Liberal government is committed to helping young Canadians make that transition. It is a top priority and that is why we are moving ahead with the youth service corps that was outlined in the red book. The youth service corps will help offer young Canadians an opportunity to serve and learn about their country and gain important skills and valuable work experience.

The government will reach out to young people to prepare them for the challenges of the future. Liberals believe now more than ever that Canada needs the skills, talents and energies of every young Canadian. The youth service corps will get unemployed youth working in community service projects to address the diminishing opportunities for young people as a result of the tough job market.

It is not a question of whether young people want to work, because they do. It is a question of giving them the opportunity to do something constructive and rewarding that benefits the individual, improves their community and strengthens our country.

Canada simply cannot afford a lost generation. Demographic trends clearly demonstrate Canada will soon suffer a worker shortage. As baby boomers leave the workforce in large numbers we will increasingly count on your young.

To compete globally in the next century we will need a highly educated, highly skilled workforce. You need not be a futurist to know our continued growth and prosperity depend on the workers of tomorrow who are generally the unemployed youth of today.

This venture will be less costly than unemployment insurance and welfare and will give young people the tools to build better lives for themselves and for our society. Young people are searching for relevant work experience that will give them saleable skills to get their foot in the job market door.

During my discussions with young Quebecers on the concept of the youth service corps I heard firsthand their enthusiasm for such a program. Quebec youth eagerly identified with the goals of the youth service corps to give them practical skills and work experience while contributing in a meaningful way to their country.

The youth service corps is a smart and necessary investment in our future workforce. It is a concrete measure which addresses the serious need to help the unprecedented number of youth who are squeezed out of the workforce, who are giving up on finding work. Canadians age 18 to 24 who are out of school and unemployed will have opportunities to gain a sense of accomplishment, self-reliance and marketable skills through practical work experience in the community.

Do we act now to offer young people opportunities so that they can acquire some skills and learn good work habits? Or do we write off a generation of youth and leave them unprepared to compete for jobs? The government has decided to act.

The youth service corps represents one of several concrete measures by the government aimed to better prepare youth for the fast changing labour market. It is part and parcel of our underlying vision to invest in Canadians. The same vision is behind the social security review process.

Young people today want what other Canadians want: good jobs; opportunities to enter and re-enter the workforce; the right to be part of the mainstream and to be treated with dignity. That is the essence of our vision for young people.

The government stands for creating opportunities for young people. For the great majority of Canadians, jobs are at the top of the list. A job is the best form of security. We want to give young Canadians all the tools necessary to aim for, prepare for and find jobs.

I should mention a number of other things that relate to youth between the ages 18 to 24 who are unemployed, left on the sidelines, out of reach of the opportunities. We also have a general preoccupation with the poor, the disabled, the street people, the people who are most in need and at risk. The initiatives we have outlined in the red book express that very well.

Let me give a few examples. We have proposed an aboriginal head start program that will deal with preschool child development. It will help greatly those sole parents who struggle on their own with their children in the area of parenting skills and nutritional skills. We have a great need there. These are for the inner city poor.

In a particular area of Winnipeg, one out of three children lives in poverty. This program is designed for the inner city poor. We now have a program designed to help keep young children in school called the stay in school program. It has been

hailed as a success across the country. Many regions have supported the program. There has been a marked difference in the attendance of people who have been impacted by the program.

We also have the brighter futures program, which is a carryover from the last government. We do not discard what works. We try to perfect, adjust and make better things that would work under our mandate.

We now have Youth Services Canada which will break the cycle of dependency. It will take youth between the ages of 18 to 24 years off unemployment insurance and assistance. It will be an enabling process.

We also have the summer challenge program on which the minister will speak later. It is a very successful program. It is a program for the young people of Canada who are out there right now educating themselves, training and working. This is their opportunity to work between the months of April and September. They want to work and they are working.

We also have the proposed youth internship program. I could go on and on about the wonderful things we want to do but my time is running out. We have laid out our priorities. We have expressed a commitment. We have looked at the human side of all the misery out there. We have laid out our plans concretely. For the first time in the history of the country the government has come forward and laid out on paper what it wants to do.

In particular reference to my mandate we are committed to helping our youth. Our commitment will be expressed over the months to follow. It has only been since November that I have been in this mandate. Conversely I have been inspired by these young people. They are knowledgeable. They are mature. They want an opportunity. They are a leadership resource and we aim to work with them.

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11 a.m.


Benoît Tremblay Bloc Rosemont, QC

Mr. Speaker, I very much appreciated my colleague's speech and the enthusiasm and determination she showed in talking about the Youth Service. She said that, thanks to that program, young people will have the opportunity to get off unemployment insurance. We must understand however that, given the recent unemployment insurance reform, they will not go from unemployment to that program since they will no longer be eligible for UI benefits.

If the prospects presented in that famous red book are so extraordinary, please tell us why, after just a few months, the Prime Minister got such a bad reception in the Maritimes and in Shawinigan? What is perfectly clear for Canadians is that the government made promises and that we are now being presented with some well-intentioned measures that are totally out of proportion with the real problems of our society and the extent of those problems. The government promised us heaven on earth.

Just remember what happened when Ms. Campbell said, during a debate, that the unemployment rate would stand at 9 per cent at the end of the century. She was treated like a pariah. Well, I suggest you read our Minister of Finance's budget. What does it say the rate will be in 1996 and in 1997? What are the medium-term projections for the unemployment rate? We will know in August.

The reality is that we are facing problems of a massive scale, the Liberal Party made irresponsible promises and now it is unable to abide by them.

I believe the last campaign was totally irresponsible as concerns public finance; the idea was it would not be necessary to cut government expenditures, all that was needed was job creation. Now we see major cuts, particularly in social programs, and we get some small measures totally out of proportion with the problems; that is why people are so disappointed.

I understand that a program of such a scale as the one announced could be reasonable for a village or a small region.

It is totally ridiculous to talk of investing $25 million in venture capital for small business. We would end up with about $60 per business for the whole of Canada. Twenty-five million, fantastic! It would make more sense if we gave this amount to a region in particular, to a small group of credit unions in the south-western part of Montreal for instance. An amount of $25 million in venture capital for small business all over Canada can only excite the imagination. But it has absolutely nothing to do with reality. The problem is there are more than a million small businesses in Canada. In the long term, the program is said to amount to $200 million, but in the short term, it is $25 million a year or $25 per small business. It is totally absurd.

The solutions you propose are out of proportion with the sheer scale of the problem. Throughout the campaign, the government described a situation becoming progressively easier. We now notice that it is rapidly deteriorating and, what is worse, that interest rates are affected more and more. Could the member explain to what extent the measures she mentioned are geared to the problems?

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11:05 a.m.


Ethel Blondin-Andrew Liberal Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to respond to some of the concerns raised by the hon. member.

I can understand the cynicism on the part of the Bloc Quebecois. I have been to Quebec and probably the most enthusiastic response in terms of the youth service corps specifically was from the youth in Quebec with whom we consulted. They were the unemployed, people dealing with justice, young offenders, street people and street youth organizations. They were very enthusiastic and wanted to endorse it.

Opportunities big or small are not shunned by people who need the opportunities. Opportunities for youth in Quebec to do something with their lives, be it an opportunity for one person or opportunities for twenty people, will not be pushed to the side by young people. These young people were very enthusiastic. Every opportunity for every person is worth gold to those people whether or not the hon. member agrees.

We never said that we had magical solutions. I salute the Prime Minister; I congratulate him. He went to the source. We knew there were concerns. We knew there would be a lot of reluctance. Change is difficult. Change is not without pain. Change is not without the kinds of difficulty and the controversy we are not afraid to confront. We know there is no pretty way around making the changes that will eventually lead to long term gain.

In the interim we as a government are prepared to face the kinds of responses there are. We are prepared to make greater gains in the long run: short term pain for long term gain. We know there really is no pretty way around it. We never said we had magical solutions, but we believe every opportunity we create is for people who want it.

Perhaps as politicians we tend to extrapolate on what is good for people in terms of jobs when we do not really have the right to do so. Those young people want those opportunities. They told us that. They endorse the programs enthusiastically.

We hear the concerns about job creation and small and medium sized businesses. That was part of our platform. We never promised paradise to Canadians because we knew the problems that would be there when we were elected. We promised commitment. We promised to work hard. We promised to consult. We promised to try to create opportunities for those people to do for themselves, not to do for them what they could do better than we could as a government.

That is where we are going. That is our intention. I would like the hon. member to be there to help us.

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11:05 a.m.


Dick Harris Reform Prince George—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to the secretary of state outline the plan of yet another program.

No one can deny that there is a serious problem in the country with youth unemployment. Certainly I am aware of it. The secretary of state talked about the government getting its priorities straight. I think the government does not have its priorities straight.

In the period leading up to the election members of the Liberal Party did their homework. They did polling to find out the cause of the lack of jobs in the country. The message came back from the very people who create jobs, the majority of whom are small and medium sized business people, that the cost of doing business was simply too high. The government's prior and current neglect of the fiscal problems has caused high taxation. It has driven up prices and the cost of doing business.

Jobs do not come from more government programs. There is a direct correlation between the deficit and the financial problems of the country and unemployment. If the government wants reassurance of that it should go back and ask the people who create jobs and will create jobs, the small and medium sized business people.

The answer to youth unemployment and to unemployment in general is not to put more programs into effect. There are no jobs in the country. Small and medium sized businesses have so much uncertainty about taxation levels and the cost of doing business in the future that they are simply not expanding. Investors are not investing because they do not know what the taxation levels will be. Consumers are not spending because there is so much uncertainty about the government getting its fiscal house in order. We have university students with diplomas clutched in their hands applying for jobs at McDonald's. There are trained people out there but there are no jobs.

I would suggest the government should re-examine its priorities and start to show some light at the end of the tax tunnel to encourage small and medium sized businesses to start creating jobs.

More social programs are not the answer. That is the philosophy of the government that started 30 years ago, a time when there was no deficit, a time when the debt was manageable. It has instilled in youth an attitude of entitlement, a "don't worry, don't take responsibility for yourself" attitude because the government will look after them with social programs. The generosity of social programs has created this attitude among our youth. Why would they work when the government will look after them?

The government should look at where jobs come from, the small and medium sized businesses, start to attack the problems people are telling it about, and the jobs will be created.

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11:10 a.m.


Ethel Blondin-Andrew Liberal Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, I am hearing a fundamental difference in vision here. We have our priorities right. We want to create jobs. We do not believe that investing resources to better the lives of young people who are unemployed, out of school and between the ages of 18 to 24 years is a poor investment. We cannot afford not to do it because those young people are actually a drag on the social safety net. We are either paying them unemployment insurance or welfare. We

have the choice of deciding whether they should be productive. This is an effort to enable these young people.

If I might explain in detail, once young people use the opportunities in community based pilot projects they get what is called a completer's bonus. This bonus could be in the form of a tuition voucher, a loan forgiveness note or a portable wage subsidy. It could also give them a credit note to start a small business or work with a small business. This is all directly related. It is not a government program for government people. It is the government's effort to provide adequate resources so that young people can have opportunities they do not now have.

It is a modest effort. It will not solve all ills. However in our review we are looking at every opportunity or every avenue to do better. We are not saying that we will solve all the problems of the world with one program. We are saying we cannot do everything but we know we have to do something.

We have to help those young people out there. If the Reform Party chooses not to, it sounds a little anti-youth to me and it sounds like a bit of a downer on the attitude toward youth.

I have met many youth who are capable, who want to work, who want the opportunities, who are on the cutting edge, who show leadership and who are very good at what they do. I could give many examples. I suggest that the hon. member go out there and meet with some of those young people.

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11:15 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

Resuming debate. I wonder if the member for Elk Island could assist the Chair and indicate if he will be splitting his time with a colleague or taking the full 20-minute complement.

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11:15 a.m.


Ken Epp Reform Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, the very first thing on my agenda was to give notice that on behalf of the caucus co-ordinator, called the whip in the standing orders, according to Standing Order 43(2), our speakers on this motion will be dividing their time.

The motion before us today is quite clear and quite succinct. It states that this House deplores the absence of vision and concrete measures from the government with regard to policies toward job creation.

There is really no need to work on establishing the fact that there is a job crisis in Canada today. The unemployment figures are quite convincing. When one adds the innumerable individuals who are unemployed and who have given up and whose names are not even on the lists of the unemployed, there is little doubt that there is a crisis in this area.

In the strictest sense of the wording of this motion, it should be opposed. We should really be opposed to the motion and hence appear to be siding with the Liberal government on its job creation plan. As the members on the opposite side might have applauded, some will be asking why. Is this motion before us not in agreement with what the Reformers have been saying about jobs?

In a way it is but if one takes the wording of the motion exactly as it is stated, at least the last part, one cannot accurately state that the government has failed to declare some concrete measures with respect to job creation. It seems to me that this government has proposed concrete measures for job creation in line with the vision of this government.

The fundamental problem is that this government's so-called jobs plan is the wrong plan. It will not work. I am sure members opposite will correct me if I am wrong, but here is the summary of what I see in their plan.

There is government deficit spending to review social assistance programs. There is government deficit spending to assist the space sector. There is government deficit spending to establish an apprenticeship program. There is government deficit spending to establish a youth service corps. There is government deficit spending on day care potentially. There is government deficit spending on home renovations, otherwise known as the RRAP program. There is government deficit spending on the granddaddy of them all, the infrastructure program.

I hear a howl of protest because I am saying deficit spending. Stop to think about it. Just saying that this money is being transferred from other areas where we will not now be spending it is an inadequate explanation.

My wife would be delighted if I told her that I have decided not to buy a new luxury car. We will have all this money to do renovations to the House. I would have had to borrow the money for the car. Therefore it would be quite deceptive to indicate that we now have a bunch of free money available.

We would now be borrowing it for another purpose but it would still have to be borrowed, and so it is with these proposed programs. As long as we have a $40 billion deficit we are doing what we are doing with borrowed money. Instead of borrowing for helicopters, we are borrowing for the things that I have listed.

There is a jobs plan. The leader of the Liberal Party said often during the campaign: "We have the people, we have the plan". The problem is that the plan, based on borrowing and deficit spending, will not provide any long term solution at all to the problem.

If the government could really solve the problem, and if the only problem were jobs, then it would work for the government to hire people to dig holes in the ground and then hire other people to fill them in again. Obviously with that facetious example I have shown that the job must add to the real wealth of

the country if it is to improve our standard of living and our economic well-being.

It seems to me the only real wealth we have is in the provision of goods and services that have a market among our citizens and the people of other countries. Therefore, and I hesitatingly admit this but I think it is true, to the extent that the infrastructure program enhances our ability to create real wealth, it is useful and will contribute to a longer term well-being, but only to that extent. There seems to be much in the planned activities of this program that is temporary, short term and that does not add to the ability of our nation in providing needed goods and services.

Let me also bring to the attention of the House the problems inherent in the government's debt-deficit plan. To a question I asked in the House last week I was given the answer that the deficit is under control. This government has stated publicly in the recent election campaign, in the red book, in the budget and in numerous statements both inside and outside the House that its goal is to bring the deficit down to 3 per cent of the GDP. I must state seriously that I doubt this will happen.

This first year spending is actually going up and the reduction in the deficit as a percentage of GDP is minimal and based on some fairly generous assumptions on economic growth. If we assume that the government assumptions are right, there is still a huge flaw. If we assume that government spending will help the country's economy, then the deficit as a percentage of GDP should drop dramatically during periods of high growth. The relationship should be the inverse of what is being stated. Conversely, the deficit would normally increase as a percentage of GDP in periods of low growth.

This is not to say that even if the government had it right, its interventionism would be the right policy. Adam Smith said:

The statesman who should attempt to direct private people in what manner they ought to employ their capitals, would not only load himself with a most unnecessary attention, but assume an authority which could safely be trusted to no council whatever, and which would nowhere be so dangerous as in the hands of a man who had folly and presumption enough to fancy himself fit to exercise it.

Is this what our government is doing? I say yes, just look at government spending. Using the government's own projections the deficits and debts will be growing year by year in perpetuity. Using the government's own 3 per cent target, by the year 2000 our debt will be approximately $700 billion.

I challenge anyone to convince me or any of my constituents that this is an acceptable level of indebtedness. It is unbelievable that this government will undertake as a goal taking the people of this country further and further into debt. I cannot be convinced that this will have anything less than a devastating effect on our long term well-being definitely as it relates to the job problem. At the rate given by the government's projections we will have $1 trillion of debt by the end of the first decade of the next century.

What will work? Let us hear Franklin Roosevelt:

A programme whose basic thesis is, not that the system of free enterprise for profit has failed in this generation, but that it has not yet been tried.

People do not need the government's assistance or interference so much as they need it out of the way.

How do we get it out of the way? We reduce the deficit, then debt, then taxes because the component of interest which is growing so rapidly decreases. Then we will instil confidence, both consumer and investor, so we can get the private sector hiring again. We can eliminate interprovincial trade barriers. We can eliminate the red tape barriers to business. We can help with training, among others.

Perhaps I am forced to admit that the government has taken hesitant steps in this direction. By mixing its incorrect theory with some correct theory it is accomplishing nothing but annoying both sides: the entrepreneur, and the worker who cannot find a job.

I highly recommend that the government take the most courageous step any politician can make to really spur job growth and get out of the way. In the words of Lord Acton, the finest opportunity ever given to the world was thrown away because the passion for equality made vain the hope for freedom.

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11:25 a.m.


Karen Kraft Sloan Liberal York—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened with a great deal of interest to what the hon. member had to say. I found it rather interesting that the hon. member was quoting different sources basically to suggest that government should not intervene in any way whatsoever in the domain of business.

However, I noticed a real contradiction with what the hon. member had to suggest. I find it rather odd because he is certainly agreeing with the Liberal policy of this particular government. He suggested that government had a role to play in training. I find that if government is not to intervene at all in the domain of business, training is one of the most important areas of business. I would like the hon. member to comment on that.

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11:25 a.m.


Ken Epp Reform Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to respond to that. I was previously involved as an educator for 31 years and therefore am well aware of the need for training and the effectiveness of it.

I would like to indicate in answer to the question that there are areas where government needs to be involved. I do not think that anyone would deny that. There are many areas in which we can collectively as a nation do things better than individuals.

However, having worked in the technical field I have found that we work best when we work in consort with the businesses that are hiring our graduates. I worked in a technical institute and we did that. In many areas and many times we provided as individuals and as an institute services on demand from industry for specific training where they needed the help.

Therefore, I would not ever say that government should not be involved at all. However, there are many areas where government interferes. I would like to give a quick example.

At the technical institute where I worked there are some 750 instructors. About a year or so ago in January when we got our cheques, our deductions for UI had increased sharply. Being in mathematics some of us were doing quick calculations and computed that collectively the 750 instructors of the institute were contributing about $1,200 per year into the UI fund, matched by the employer with a total of about $2,800 per year.

Had we been able to keep that money we could have spent it on things we like. I could have had my roof repaired. Someone could have been hired to do that. Instead we were simply contributing an amount of money which would have provided 60 jobs at $35,000 per year just on that UI. That is an interference of government: taking money by coercion to give it to people to meet their basic needs without really providing jobs for them.

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11:30 a.m.

Ottawa West Ontario


Marlene Catterall LiberalParliamentary Secretary to President of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, I want to comment generally on the comments the member has made. I really think it is up to him to be quite open and forthcoming with Canadians about the kind of impact the deficit reduction targets his party proposes would have on Canadians.

What the Reform Party proposes is exactly a more concentrated version of what we have seen in this country for the last nine years. They are the kinds of programs that have left 1.6 million Canadians unemployed and over six million Canadians dependent in one form or another on unemployment insurance or social assistance.

This is not the particular issue I want to raise with the member. I would ask for some elaboration on his final comments where he seemed to disparage the concept of equality as somehow destructive of freedom and democracy.

I know that some people do not quite understand that equality does not mean being the same. My personal view is that our world, our nation and our communities require a multitude of talents that our people possess. To not allow those talents to be fully and completely used and developed through various equality measures would limit our capacity as a society.

I really would like the member opposite to explain what he has against equality and why he thinks that some groups really are not quite as equal as he is perhaps. Could he just expand on what he has against equality.

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11:30 a.m.


Ken Epp Reform Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to comment on both. Since I graduated from university at a time when the debt and the deficit were more or less under control we had a choice of jobs, as many members in the House will know. That has changed remarkably. There is almost a 100 per cent correlation between the size of the debt in this country and the level of unemployment.

There is no doubt in my mind that the deficit and unemployment are closely related. The government is pulling more and more money out of the pockets of individuals, entrepreneurs and business people just to service the debt that is resulting. That is the first part.

The second part concerns equality. Indeed I do believe in the equality of people but in quite a different way from the way of those who tend more toward the socialist end. I do not believe that anyone in this country should suffer because of lack of health care or lack of educational opportunities because of lack of ability to pay.

I believe we need to make sure that in our governmental system we provide equality of opportunity. However, I do not believe we serve ourselves well, in fact I believe it is very detrimental if we use government policies, especially in the fiscal area, to provide equality of circumstance irrespective of what the individual does.

We really need to get back to a system of solid rewards for efforts expended. That would still provide everyone in this very rich country the ability and the circumstance to provide for themselves and to be very well off compared with the rest of the world.

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11:30 a.m.


Jim Silye Reform Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to address the opposition motion which reads:

That this House deplore the government's lack of vision and lack of concrete measures relating to job creation policies.

It is my belief that to stimulate the economy and to increase revenues for government, lenders, investors and consumers must possess a larger pool of disposable income. Jobs are created in the private sector, which the government readily admits is up to 87 per cent, which follows the laws of supply and demand. They would do a better job of creating long term meaningful jobs with $6 billion in cash than the Liberal government would do with its infrastructure program.

The role of government should be to do what government can only do: peace, order and good government. It is not job creation. It should regulate, administer, pass laws, defend borders but it should not enter the marketplace to create jobs. With regional development funds, grants and subsidies to busi-

nesses, governments distort the private sector, create temporary jobs and promote unfair competition within industry sectors. When will governments acknowledge that they are in fact part of the problem and not the solution.

I would like to educate this Liberal government on the reality of the private sector and not the perceived reality of the Liberal government.

Government overspending results in the raising of tax dollars. Higher taxation means that less capital is available in the marketplace which leads to a drop in demand. When demand drops, consumption drops, businesses close their doors and the cycle continues. This vicious circle is the main reason why 1.6 million Canadians are unemployed.

It takes money to create wealth but the government takes too much of it away from the people who know how to spend it. It takes it out of the system and then wonders why unemployment goes up.

The root of the unemployment problem in this country is the debt. The Liberals would have us believe that the debt is only one of many symptoms causing millions of Canadians to be unemployed. The fact is that the government is now adding another projected $41 billion-let us hope it is only that-to this debt which will take it to $550 billion at the end of this coming fiscal year. It is the debt and the interest to service that debt that is causing the problem.

Currently the unemployment rate is at 11.2 per cent. At the end of the year with the finance minister's own projections that he has defended in this House, including the $6 billion infrastructure program and the 168,000 short term jobs that it will create, the unemployment rate will drop to 11.1 per cent after 12 months.

This is one-tenth of 1 per cent. Is this what the Liberals call job creation? Are Canadians across the nation and especially in central Canada truly getting the changes that they demanded and were promised by the Liberal government? The answer is no.

The Minister of Human Resources Development has said in this House that capital creates jobs. So far he is right on. As a businessman I know this to be true. But what politicians on the other side of the House do not seem to realize is that there is a big difference between the spending of debt capital that is borrowed money and equity capital that does not have to be repaid.

The private sector understands the difference. It is time politicians did too. At risk money motivates; government money wastes. The government is going to spend $6 billion on infrastructure programs. Since it is going to spend the money anyway that money should be spent improving the kind of infrastructure that permits the productive sector of the economy, the private sector, to function more efficiently which in turn will allow it to create real long term jobs.

The government's role should be to develop an economic atmosphere, an environment, an infrastructure that facilitates investment, not to make the investment itself directly. The private sector will do that.

In his speech at the G-7 jobs conference in Detroit in the last two weeks, the Minister of Industry spoke of developing a national technology extension network to offer technological services across Canada. Sounds great. The minister stated: "Small business will be encouraged to work more closely with public sector research institutions to improve the commercialization of new technology, base products and services".

When will the government listen to what small businesses are saying: "Get out of our pockets, get off our backs, and get out of our way so that we can create the long term meaningful jobs".

Let me give a specific example of this. When the government talks about creating an information superhighway in conjunction with the public sector backed by the government with more government money, my suggestion is that it look south to the United States and see how it is addressing this need.

Two entrepreneurs, William Gates and Craig McCaw, have joined forces to build an extensive global communication superhighway. It is the marketplace that is addressing the needs in the states of consumers and not the government. I reference the article. It is in the Financial Post of Tuesday, March 22, and if anybody on the Liberal side of the House would like to read it, they may learn something from it.

The government need not build an information superhighway with taxpayers' dollars.

Freeing up the marketplace from government intervention creates opportunities, incentives, and real long term meaningful jobs. It generates real revenue and sends a message to investors and to all Canadians that this country wants a future based on prosperity not on government handouts and high debt.

The Liberal government must encourage the spending of equity capital from the private sector and not debt capital as is the current situation. For too long our governments have relied on the spending of borrowed money, not equity capital, in the funding of short term job creation programs that benefit specific groups and not society as a whole.

In a speech at the G-7 conference the Minister of Industry stated: "Well planned infrastructure spending offers a potential for immediate job creation in the short term", that is, while it is being built. "As well, there will be a payoff in the longer term through the support of higher levels of economic activity when it is operational".

Let us put this theory to the test. The Calgary city council just last night at a marathon meeting agreed in a 9 to 6 vote, this is at the municipal level, to use part of the infrastructure program of the government to renovate the Saddle Dome. For those members in the House who do not know what the Saddle Dome is, it is a hockey rink, a facility used in Calgary to house the Calgary Flames, the major tenant, and other programs and events throughout the year.

Is this infrastructure money being well spent? Does this benefit the city as a whole or just a select few?

In my opinion, there are a multitude of roads, bridges and buildings that urgently require immediate attention that would make it better for investors and businesses to live in Calgary. This is not the proper use of infrastructure funds. Only a few taxpayers will benefit at the expense of all taxpayers. Few if any new jobs will be generated in this instance because most jobs will go to contractors and workers who are already employed.

Federal funds will once again be used to interfere in a private sector matter. This issue is between the Stampede board and the Calgary Flames hockey club. With the Liberal program it now involves all the taxpayers. The federal government has no business allocating taxpayers' money to influence the outcome.

If the infrastructure program is intended to create jobs with the benefit being an improvement to the nation's basic infrastructure, then how can this be justified? The maintenance of basic infrastructure has always been the responsibility of governments which leads one to ask: What have they been doing for the last 25 to 30 years to bring about such negligence with regard to the basic responsibility?

The answer is instead of using taxpayers' dollars to take care of the fundamentals such as roads, sewers and bridges, the government has been squandering the nation's wealth on inefficient, expensive social programs. Those programs in many ways encourage people not to work, that is high UIC benefits and generous welfare payments that all started with the Liberal government in 1968 under Pierre Elliott Trudeau.

Once again it is a vicious circle. Government ignores its basic responsibility with respect to infrastructure in order to concentrate on an extensive and expensive social agenda. It increases the tax burden to finance that agenda, kills jobs through the tax burden, declares job creation as part of the social agenda, then spends more tax dollars to create jobs, working on the very infrastructure it ignored in the first place. Have fun, Liberal government.

I would like to conclude by quoting the hon. member for Calgary Southwest who has stated many times, and in my opinion is worth repeating many times: "A dollar in the hands of a lender, taxpayer or investor is much better than that same dollar in the hands of a bureaucrat, a lobbyist or a politician".

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11:40 a.m.


Dianne Brushett Liberal Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Mr. Speaker, I could hardly contain myself sitting in this seat when the hon. member talked about the infrastructure program. I am afraid he does not understand the legislative structure of the Government of Canada, the provincial governments and the municipal governments.

If he were to understand that municipal governments are those people elected by the grassroots citizens, the taxpayers of Canada, and it is the municipal governments, whether they be city governments, rural towns or very rural county municipalities, those local governments are responsible for the maintenance of their own highways, snow removal, their bridges, their sewers, their water treatment plants, that entire fundamental basic infrastructure that keeps Canadians doing their day to day business.

It is not the federal government which has been squandering its money. Its money comes from property taxes at the very basic level. The reason the infrastructure program was brought in arose from those municipal governments. I was part of one. Many of the member's colleagues in this House were also. We lobbied through our FCM to the federal Government of Canada for the past decade to get the government to cost share in infrastructure projects because they were falling by the wayside and property taxes could no longer afford to maintain basic infrastructure.

I reiterate that it was not the federal government squandering money. It was the lack of property taxes by all Canadians that could sustain our basic needs. We have shown the generosity, the fulfilment of that need from municipal councils to cost share so that we could build up those basic needs and maintain their industries, their citizens, their competitive edge and provide those jobs through a solid infrastructure. I would challenge the member to debate and refute the municipal councils across this country.

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11:45 a.m.


Jim Silye Reform Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for the history lesson on municipal government. I would also like to comment that it is awfully nice to say how generous the Liberal government is with money and funding to help, but whose money is it? It is other people's money. It is borrowed money and we have to stop borrowing because we have to stop adding to this debt.

There are lots of income taxes around. Municipalities have lots of ways to raise money to sustain themselves. This infrastructure program is going to people who already have jobs, who already are skilled. We need accountability.

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11:45 a.m.


George S. Rideout Liberal Moncton, NB

You do not know what you are talking about.

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11:45 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

Order. I know that this period of questions and comments usually allows for lively debate but I would hope that whoever has the floor and in this instance, the member for Calgary Centre, would be able to conclude his remarks.

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11:45 a.m.


Jim Silye Reform Calgary Centre, AB

Perhaps the hon. member who said that I do not know what I am talking about does not know the rules. The standing orders probably would help that member quite a bit.

The problem with the infrastructure program that the Liberal government has put forth is that there has to be a mechanism for accountability that it has created new jobs.

Our concern is that it is not really creating the new jobs, witnessed by the member's own evidence that at the end of the year the drop in unemployment is only one-tenth of 1 per cent.

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11:45 a.m.

Vancouver South B.C.


Herb Dhaliwal LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to my hon. colleague.

His background is business and my background also is business, starting as a small business person.

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11:45 a.m.


Jim Silye Reform Calgary Centre, AB

You should have stayed there.

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11:45 a.m.


Herb Dhaliwal Liberal Vancouver South, BC

The hon. member says that I should have stayed there, but I think I can contribute to this House just like he feels and that is why I am here. I want to comment and talk about some of the points made.

The budget the Liberal Party put forward talks about small business. It takes action on where the jobs are created. Eighty-five per cent of all jobs created are in small business.

I want to tell members about the infrastructure program. The hon. member said that was not creating jobs. In December I was in Singapore. There one learns how important infrastructure is. Its economy is booming. It has a very low unemployment rate because of a strong infrastructure.

Infrastructure is very good for the long term because it creates efficiencies. It lets business become more efficient and if one looks at what has happened in Singapore, it has an incredible ports system and an incredible airport system. All that has created a tremendous economic boom there where it has become the hub of that area.

The Liberal program is all about creating jobs. It is about economic growth. If one looks at the Reform Party's position, what it wants to do is bulldoze everything and cut the deficit in three years. It thinks that will build confidence in the economy. It thinks that will create jobs, that getting rid of thousands of jobs is going to create confidence in the economy.

This is a dream for the Reform Party. It is not true that one can create jobs by cutting $40 billion in a matter of three years out of the economy. What we need is economic growth. What we need is small business, incentive to create jobs and that is what we are doing.

We are reducing the paper burden for small business. We are looking at ways that small business can take advantage of research and development. We are looking at ways in which small business can export to other markets and that is where the jobs are going to be created.

I want to tell the member that we have not heard any concrete solutions from that side except cutting things like CMHC. If we cut CMHC, all the funding for CMHC-

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11:50 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

Order. Having been reminded of the rules of this House, I will try to interpret them as fairly as I possibly can. In the timeframe that we have I would ask the member for Calgary Centre for a short reply please.

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11:50 a.m.


Jim Silye Reform Calgary Centre, AB

My first response, Mr. Speaker, is that the infrastructure program of the government represents only one-half of 1 per cent of the gross domestic product. For the wonderful things that this is going to create, like the leader of my party says, that is like trying to fly a 747 with a flashlight battery.

When the hon. member talks about our plan and how bad it is, we have not had a chance to implement it. Give us a chance. He talks about job creation. When the finance minister first introduced the budget he said: "Give our budget six months at least. Do not hold anything that happens in the economy against us for at least six to seven months. Then give us a judgment".

Now the report comes in that higher employment has been achieved and the Liberal government is quick to jump on the bandwagon and try to take credit for it. There is no consistency of logic there.

With respect to the fact that the government's budget in this infrastructure program is well thought out and well planned and that it is going to take action, I would continue to debate that. It is all rhetoric. It is all talk. No action is being taken. It is filled with 14 or 15 new committees to study everything from social programs to a new study on the GST when the hon. member's own leader-

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11:50 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

Order. It is in that spirit of continuing debate that we will resume debate with the hon. member for Kamouraska-Rivière-du-Loup.