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House of Commons Hansard #45 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

Board Of RefereesOral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Reform

Jim Gouk Reform Kootenay West—Revelstoke, BC

Mr. Speaker, the board of referees normally has two chairs but now is shut down because the government chose not to renew the term of the only current chair.

Will the minister agree to extend the term of Rocco Mastrobuono so that the board can continue to function, given the length of time the government seems to need to deal with this problem?

Board Of RefereesOral Questions

11:45 a.m.

York North Ontario

Liberal

Maurizio Bevilacqua LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I will take that question under advisement. We will report to the member as soon as possible.

Social HousingOral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Bloc

Maud Debien Bloc Laval East, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the Minister of Public Works a question. On February 24, the Minister of Public Works said in this House that the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation intended to save $120 million over four years and that this amount would be used for social housing.

Since the minister promised to use this $120 million to help the poorly housed, can he tell us how many social, co-operative and non-profit housing units will be built this year with these savings?

Social HousingOral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Cape Breton—East Richmond Nova Scotia

Liberal

David Dingwall LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services and Minister for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for her excellent question.

I apprise her that we are attempting to achieve greater savings than $120 million over the next four years in view of the co-operation which is taking place between the Government of Canada and the different provinces. Until such time as we can identify for this fiscal year the amount of those savings it would be premature for me to announce on the floor of the House of Commons the exact way in which those expenditures are to be made.

I do want to assure the hon. member that we are consulting with the provinces. We will be consulting with various stakeholders across the country in order to try to achieve better value for the taxpayer's dollar.

Social HousingOral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Bloc

Maud Debien Bloc Laval East, QC

Mr. Speaker, in view of the information which the minister wishes to give us, even though we still lack quite a few details on this subject, I would like to know if he could also confirm that he intends to offer shelter assistance, that is, direct aid for tenants, instead of investing in collective housing projects like low-income housing and housing co-ops, in case he should change his mind.

Social HousingOral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Cape Breton—East Richmond Nova Scotia

Liberal

David Dingwall LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services and Minister for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

Mr. Speaker, it is not a matter of changing one's mind. It is a matter of getting the best value for the taxpayer's dollar.

All options will certainly be examined. There will be meaningful consultations with the provinces and various stakeholders. I want to assure the hon. member the suggestion she has made which seems to be coming not only from members of her party but also from other individuals in the province of Quebec and elsewhere is something my government and hopefully other governments will seriously consider.

I do not wish to raise false expectations that large sums of money will be readily available for that sector. However it is on the table. It is an option and we are considering it.

FisheriesOral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Reform

John Cummins Reform Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans.

Last Friday we complimented the Minister of the Environment on the proposed action on the Irving Whale .

We also suggested that a problem existed in the adjacent waters of Northumberland Strait. People who harvest lobster and other fish in these waters have expressed fears that the government appears prepared to agree to a proposal to discharge effluent from the Scott Maritimes mill via a two kilometre pipeline into spawning beds for lobster, scallops and other fish.

What assurances can the minister give these people that their fishery will not be harmed by a proposed new treatment facility? Does this insurance include an EARP assessment of the facility, a commitment made in 1991 by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and Environment Canada?

FisheriesOral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Humber—St. Barbe—Baie Verte Newfoundland & Labrador

Liberal

Brian Tobin LiberalMinister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Delta for giving notice of his question.

I want to assure the hon. member exactly as I have assured the member for Central Nova. Neither the Department of the Environment nor the Department of Fisheries and Oceans under section 35 of the Fisheries Act has yet completed a full and proper assessment of the proposal that has been put forward for the effluent diffuser into the Northumberland Strait. No such decision has been reached nor will it be reached until a full and proper assessment is done and until a full consultation occurs with the fishermen from that region.

FisheriesOral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Reform

John Cummins Reform Delta, BC

I appreciate the minister's answer, Mr. Speaker, and recognize he is concerned about these environmental issues.

However government officials have suggested that the designation of the boat harbour treatment facility be changed to allow some pollutants in the effluent to be increased by as much as 800 per cent.

Can the minister assure this House that present effluent regulations will not be gutted to allow Scott Maritimes to increase pollutants by 800 per cent?

FisheriesOral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Humber—St. Barbe—Baie Verte Newfoundland & Labrador

Liberal

Brian Tobin LiberalMinister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, I have an obligation under section 35 of the Fisheries Act to protect habitat. That is an obligation I have in law.

This government has not hesitated to take the most difficult decisions in the name of conservation of habitat. This is the government that took the decision to close down a food fishery, a basic hook and line fishery, in the name of rebuilding critical cod stocks. Decisions, like those to not allow pollutants contrary to the Fisheries Act into critical spawning areas, would be easy for us to take.

This government will not compromise conservation of habitat for any reason. We have acted forcefully and we will continue to act forcefully in the interests of conservation.

Preston And Area Development FundOral Questions

March 25th, 1994 / 11:50 a.m.

Liberal

Ron MacDonald Liberal Dartmouth, NS

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister responsible for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency.

Recently there has been a lot of controversy over the future of the Preston and area development fund. This fund was established to address the real systemic obstacles to black entrepreneurs in Nova Scotia gaining working capital. The mandate of this particular program expires on March 31.

Is it the intention of the minister's department and his government to continue with this program? If not, will he be announcing a replacement program for black entrepreneurs in the Preston area in the near future?

Preston And Area Development FundOral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Cape Breton—East Richmond Nova Scotia

Liberal

David Dingwall LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services and Minister for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for his unexpected question.

I assure the hon. member his analysis is correct. The fund will lapse on March 31, 1994. Through the efforts of the member himself as well as other community leaders we hope to be able to replace that particular structure and that fund in the foreseeable future in order to provide economic benefits to one of the most depressed areas of the province of Nova Scotia.

I want to thank the hon. member for his efforts in assisting the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency in that objective.

Publishing IndustryOral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Bloc

Suzanne Tremblay Bloc Rimouski—Témiscouata, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is directed to the Minister of Canadian Heritage. The minister still refuses to order a public inquiry into the circumstances around the sale of Ginn Publishing to Paramount. The minister would rather refer the matter for consideration to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage. However, in this morning's Globe and Mail , we read that the minister's Liberal colleague, the chairman of this committee, has made it clear he does not want to conduct an inquiry into this controversial matter.

Does this mean that the Minister of Canadian Heritage suggested referring the matter to the Commons committee, while he knew perfectly well his colleagues would refuse to consider the matter, probably because they also sensed the government had something to hide?

Publishing IndustryOral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Laval West Québec

Liberal

Michel Dupuy LiberalMinister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, the government has absolutely nothing to hide. I am very pleased to see that hon. members on both sides of the House are capable of making up their own minds and making their views known in committee, and I accept their decision.

Publishing IndustryOral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Bloc

Suzanne Tremblay Bloc Rimouski—Témiscouata, QC

Mr. Speaker, since the minister is now aware of the fact that his colleagues have refused to examine this matter in committee, is he prepared to show his good faith and concern for transparency

by reversing his decision and agreeing to order a public inquiry, since the Liberal majority on the Canadian Heritage Committee will not let us investigate the matter in committee?

Publishing IndustryOral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Laval West Québec

Liberal

Michel Dupuy LiberalMinister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, I think it would be advisable for me to consult my colleagues before making a decision, and I shall be delighted to do so.

Hyundai Motor CompanyOral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Reform

Jim Silye Reform Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the finance minister.

The federal government and the provincial government of Quebec have paid $46.4 million in government grants to Hyundai motor company to assemble cars in Bromont, Quebec. I understand the finance minister plans to spend another $32 million on this project in the name of job creation.

When is the finance minister and his government going to learn that regional development programs do not work, that injecting cash into the private sector distorts the marketplace and that these dollars ultimately dig our debt hole deeper? When will the finance minister learn something and stop wasting taxpayers' dollars on direct grants and subsidies to businesses?

Hyundai Motor CompanyOral Questions

11:55 a.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance and Minister responsible for the Federal Office of Regional Development -Quebec

Mr. Speaker, as has already been announced in this House, the respective ministers responsible for the development agencies, namely the minister responsible for ACOA, the minister responsible for western diversification and the minister responsible for FORD-Q, have all said the way in which regional development policies have been carried out in the past are certainly ineffective and really not in accordance with the needs of a modern economy.

As a result, all three ministers have said they are reviewing and in fact have either imposed or brought in substantial changes in the way government interacts with the economy.

Our position has been very clear on that and we are in the process of doing it. In fact a great deal of that is manifested in the budget and will be manifested in subsequent budgets to come.

In terms of the particular incident the member raises, first of all this agreement was signed prior to our taking office. It was also within the context of a larger overall agreement between Quebec and the federal government, as has been signed with many other governments. While there are numerous problems with that, we are going-

Hyundai Motor CompanyOral Questions

11:55 a.m.

The Speaker

Order. The questions and the answers should be shorter. The hon. member for Calgary Centre for one final question.

Hyundai Motor CompanyOral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Reform

Jim Silye Reform Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, has the finance minister and his government even asked why Hyundai closed its doors and why this project did not work, before pumping another $32 billion of good taxpayers' money after bad? Does he know the answer?

Hyundai Motor CompanyOral Questions

11:55 a.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance and Minister responsible for the Federal Office of Regional Development-Quebec

Just to show you that I have learned my lesson, Mr. Speaker, yes we have asked those questions.

Hyundai Motor CompanyOral Questions

11:55 a.m.

The Speaker

Colleagues, on two different occasions today I intervened in questions. I simply want to inform the House why.

When we have questions with regard to committees or chairman of committees, the ministers who would ordinarily be involved with those committees are not responsible for those committees. That is why I intervened on the two questions.

It being 12 o'clock, we will now proceed to the routine business of the day.

Public Service Employment EquityRoutine Proceedings

11:55 a.m.

York Centre Ontario

Liberal

Art Eggleton LiberalPresident of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for Infrastructure

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to subsection 2.4 of section 11 of the Financial Administration Act I am pleased to table, in both official languages, the first ever annual report of the President of the Treasury Board on the state of employment equity in the public service. This deals with the fiscal year 1992-93.

Ways And MeansRoutine Proceedings

Noon

Scarborough East Ontario

Liberal

Doug Peters LiberalSecretary of State (International Financial Institutions)

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 83(1) I wish to table explanatory notes and a notice of a ways and means motion to amend the Excise Tax Act, and I ask that an order of the day be designated for consideration of the motion.

Public ServiceRoutine Proceedings

Noon

York Centre Ontario

Liberal

Art Eggleton LiberalPresident of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for Infrastructure

Mr. Speaker, the first annual report on employment equity in the public service which I just tabled is a requirement of the Financial

Administration Act as a result of amendments that were passed in December 1992 as part of the Public Service Reform Act.

I would like to remind hon. members of the important role-those who were of course in the last House will recognize this-that my parliamentary secretary, the hon. member for Ottawa West, played in ensuring that this report would be tabled in the House.

Indeed, when the act was in committee she introduced an amendment that the government of the day accepted and that became the section on employment equity in the Financial Administration Act.

In speaking in the committee the hon. member for Ottawa West said that the amendment represented a renewed commitment to some very positive action to ensure that people in the four designated groups are no longer denied opportunities to be whatever they are capable of being in the public service of this country.

To return to the annual report that I have tabled, I should note that the Treasury Board has been publishing employment equity data since 1988.

These information packages which were made available to the public, although not tabled in this Parliament, have provided useful information on the state of employment equity in the public service.

However, they did not show the range of positive initiatives and activities that the Treasury Board and the Public Service Commission together with departments had been taking to advance the goals of employment equity programs.

The annual report that I have just tabled tries to fill that gap. As the act states, the purpose of employment equity programs and policies in the public service is to improve employment and career opportunities for four designated groups. They are women, particularly women in non-traditional and executive positions, aboriginal peoples, persons with disabilities and, finally, persons who because of their race or colour are in a visible minority.

How are we to achieve this result: By eliminating employment barriers against persons in designated groups; by introducing and supporting, as the legislation requires, positive policies and practices; and by trying to ensure that persons in designated groups are represented in the public service in proportion to their representation in the workforce of this country and of the particular communities they serve in. However, focusing on the number of designated group members in the public service is not enough. Public service managers and employees must value diversity and must show it consistently through their actions.

At this time I want to reiterate the government's commitment to employment equity and specifically its commitment to employment equity in the public service. It was in the red book, we made that point and we stick by it.

The numerical goal of employment equity may be more difficult to achieve in times when the public service has stopped growing. However, let me assure hon. members that the employment equity program is a high priority of this government and that we will do everything possible to ensure that its goals are met.

For example, just three months ago, we made a lot of changes to the Special Measures Program that was put in place by a Liberal government in 1983.

The report does not provide details of these revisions because it covers the period April 1, 1992 to March 31, 1993 which is before we came into office. However, I would like to inform the House that the Treasury Board has approved funding for a restructured special measures initiative program which will provide for pilot projects co-funded with departments that help increase our employment equity opportunities.

One of these initiatives aims to improve, for example, employment opportunities for persons with disabilities in the public service.

As of April 1, 1994, I am pleased to announce that a special fund of $500,000 will be created to assist employees with disabilities. This is replacing a program that was a mere $40,000 I might add. This assistance includes attendant care, modifications to computer equipment, materials and alternative formats and special telephone equipment.

Second, retention of aboriginal employees is of concern to the government. The Treasury Board is developing a guide for managers to help them create a work environment that will encourage aboriginal employees to join and to remain in the public service.

Furthermore, an executive development program for persons in a visible minority is being extended. Of course the recruitment program for visible minorities is also being continued.

The progress of women in the public service has been steady and we shall be putting more emphasis on the development of opportunities for women in the public service.

Courses on cultural awareness and diversity in the workforce are widely available to both public service managers and employees who are encouraged to take such training. It is important to set the right atmosphere in our public service and that kind of program helps a great deal.

Finally, the Financial Administration Act requires the Treasury Board to prepare annual employment equity plans. All departments and agencies are required to have employment equity plans ready by this coming April 1, 1994. Anyone interested may obtain copies of the plans from departments and agencies.

I also invite members of this House to make suggestions on how, since this is our first report, we might improve the annual report on employment equity.