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.



10 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Colleagues, the Chair is now ready to take up the matter of gender neutral language raised on Thursday, March 17 of this year by the hon. member for Ottawa West, the Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board.

I wish to thank her for her comments and I would also like to thank the hon. members for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell and for Surrey-White Rock-South Langley for their presentations.

There is no doubt a strong movement in society to eliminate the occurrence of sexual stereotypes in all forms of communication.

Concerning the word "chairman" specifically, the current trend seems to be to remove any gender connotation, although there is no clear consensus on the most satisfactory alternative. For example, since the beginning of this Parliament the practice has emerged whereby the chairs and vice-chairs of committees have been identified using the terms "chair, chairperson or chairman" as desired, in the publications in the House. My colleague, the hon. member for Saint-Laurent-Cartierville, refers to herself as Deputy Chairperson of Committees of the Whole.

In our standing orders we have eliminated any reference to Mr. Speaker. At the end of each issue of our Votes and Proceedings the Speaker is referred to simply as Speaker. As well, any reference to a member or a minister is gender inclusive; that is, the references are to he or she'' andhim or her''.

However, as the hon. Member for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell rightly noted, the Standing Orders still contain a number of words and phrases which could be considered gender-biased. This is also the case in a number of other parliaments and provincial legislatures. In some of these legislatures, just as in the House of Commons, the terminology used in their Standing Orders is not necessarily the same as that found in their publications.

This is an issue which has been raised many times over the years both in the House and in committee and the Chair continues to be deeply concerned about it. Given the inconsistencies in the use of language in the publications and in the House and its committees, perhaps it is time for a committee of the House to examine the matter with a view to recommending standardization of terminology.

I agree with the hon. member for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell that this is a matter which should be pursued or might be pursued by the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs. I would urge that committee to address it during its current review of the standing orders.

Budget Implementation Act, 1994Government Orders

10:05 a.m.

York Centre Ontario


Art Eggleton Liberalfor the Minister of Finance

moved that Bill C-17, an act to amend certain statutes to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 22, 1994 be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Budget Implementation Act, 1994Government Orders

March 25th, 1994 / 10:05 a.m.


Stephen Harper Reform Calgary West, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am rising on a point of order to make a procedural argument concerning the omnibus nature of this piece of legislation.

This is a new Parliament which I think has been working reasonably well in spite of our recent difficulties. I really would like to call the attention of the Chair to the nature of this particular bill and to urge the Chair to re-examine a practice we have fallen into.

The particular bill before us, Bill C-17, is of an omnibus nature. I put it to you, Mr. Speaker, that you should rule it out of order and it should not be considered by the House in the form in which it has been presented. I would hope that in making your decision on the acceptability of Bill C-17 in its present form you

will refer to the famous ruling by Mr. Lamoureux of January 26, 1971 in which he said:

However, where do we stop? Where is the point of no return? The hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre, and I believe the hon. member for Edmonton West, said that we might reach a point where we would have only one bill, a bill at the start of the session for the improvement of the quality of the life in Canada which would include every single proposed piece of legislation for the session. That would be an omnibus bill with a capital O and a capital B . But would it be acceptable legislation? There must be a point where we can go beyond what is acceptable from a strictly parliamentary standpoint.

Even though the Speaker in that case went on to rule that this point had not been reached, I submit to you that it has become a standard practice with governments to bring in omnibus legislation following every budget under what we might call the kitchen sink approach.

Beauchesne's sixth edition, citation 626 bears directly on this aspect of the matter. It states:

(1) Although there is no specific set of rules or guidelines governing the content of a bill, there should be a theme of relevancy amongst the contents of a bill. They must be relevant to and subject to the umbrella which is raised by the terminology of the long title of the bill.

Mr. Speaker, I would argue that the subject matter of the bill is so diverse that a single vote on the content would put members in conflict with their own principles.

In this present case, the drafters of Bill C-17 have incorporated in the same bill the following measures: public sector compensation freezes; a freeze in Canada assistance plan payments and Public Utilities Income Tax Transfer Act transfers; extension and deepening of transportation subsidies; authorization for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation to borrow money; and changes to unemployment insurance with respect to benefits and the payroll taxes.

First, there is a lack of relevancy of these issues. The omnibus bills we have before us attempt to amend several different existing laws.

Second, in the interest of democracy I ask: How can members represent their constituents on these various areas when they are forced to vote in a block on such legislation and on such concerns?

We can agree with some of the measures but oppose others. How do we express our views and the views of our constituents when the matters are so diverse? Dividing the bill into several components would allow members to represent views of their constituents on each of the different components in the bill.

The bill contains many distinct proposals and principles and asking members to provide simple answers to such complex questions is in contradiction to the conventions and practices of the House.

As well this will cause fairly serious difficulties in committee. This bill will ultimately go to only one committee of the House, a committee that will inevitably lack the breadth of expertise required for consideration of a bill of this scope. Furthermore, the workload of that committee will be onerous and it will be very difficult to give due consideration to all relevant opinion.

In concluding my point of order, I would like to quote the hon. member for Windsor West, the government House leader who said on May 30, 1988: "For all the reasons I have given, I respectfully submit that this bill is of improper omnibus nature. This is consistent with what I consider and I respectfully submit to be, the relevant precedents. This is consistent with the traditions of the House and, more important, the purpose of those traditions in terms of the relevance of this House to the life of the country now and in the future".

This is a new Parliament. I do ask that we take a new approach to this in spite of previous rulings on this matter. I would ask that you give consideration to this, Mr. Speaker. I would also ask the government members, particularly those who have spoken on precisely this question in the previous Parliament with precisely the same concerns, to give serious consideration to this issue of democracy and the functionality of this Parliament now.

Budget Implementation Act, 1994Government Orders

10:10 a.m.

Kingston and the Islands Ontario


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

Mr. Speaker, I am surprised that the hon. member has raised this point today in the House. The bill has been before the House for a period of time. I am surprised that if he had objections to the format of the bill he would not have raised them in a procedural way before.

However having done so, it is only fair for the hon. member to bear in mind this is not a particularly onerous bill in terms of the material contained in it. It is actually quite short. It is only 21 pages and by any standard in this House it is not a thick bill. There are ones with many more pages which have been introduced in this session already.

I also note that all the provisions in this bill are ones that arose out of the budget presented by the Minister of Finance a month ago. As such they were debated in the House for four days in the course of the budget debate. All the issues were discussed during those four days and those same issues will be discussed again on second reading of this bill.

The issues are exactly the same as those raised by the minister in his budget address and which have been debated by the House

already. I do not think there is anything unusual about lumping these together for the purposes of debate. The hon. member suggests they are totally disjointed and I suggest they are not. They are part of the overall economic plan of the government as announced in the budget.

There are many different acts involved in terms of amendments because of the freezes imposed on various parts of the public service, including members of Parliament, judges and so on. All those amendments to the various acts that are involved in those freezes are part of an overall freeze on payments made by the government.

Similarly the changes to the Unemployment Insurance Act fall into the same arrangement. The changes with respect to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation deal with freezes that were put in place in previous legislation and previous budgets and allow for some borrowing authority.

While the subject matter may be diverse, I suggest to the hon. member that given the fact they were all introduced in the budget, they form a whole, unified policy thrust which the government has put forward and which it will be defending in the course of the debate on this bill. Therefore in my submission, the bill is entirely in order.

In support of my position I refer to Beauchesne's, sixth edition, citation 634. I recognize the hon. member for Calgary West quoted a citation from Beauchesne's and quoted from a ruling of the Speaker in 1971 which is quoted in citation 634 of Beauchesne's. Notwithstanding his very able argument, I think he has missed the point. Citation 634 reads:

Speakers have expressed deep concern about the use of omnibus bills, and have suggested that there must be "a point where we go beyond what is acceptable from a strictly parliamentary standpoint". Nevertheless, the practice of using one bill to demand one decision on a number of quite different, although related subjects, while a matter of concern, is an issue on which the Speaker will not intervene to divide the bill.

I do not know what the hon. member is asking, if he is asking Your Honour to divide this bill or not. The authority in Beauchesne seems to be that the Speaker will not intervene to do that. I suspect he is really raising this matter this morning as a bit of a red herring.

I point out citation 635 of Beauchesne sixth edition. It says:

In the case of an omnibus bill, the Speaker has encouraged the use of motions to delete a clause at the report stage, pursuant to Standing Order 76(2) to permit the House to decide a specific issue contained in an ominbus bill, even though the motion might offend the principle of the bill.

If the hon. member genuinely believes that this is an omnibus bill that involves too many subjects for him to deal with in the committee or for the committee to deal with in a reasonable way, he has a remedy. He may propose amendments at the report stage to delete sections of the bill that would constitute obviously a one policy thrust if indeed he regards this as a series of different policy thrusts and have the House make a decision on that at report stage.

I suggest that is a fair and reasonable remedy, certainly in this situation. I do not think this falls in the category of a bill that deals with a host of subjects that are massive in their import. This is a relatively modest bill by any standard. As I have indicated it follows from a major policy thrust, namely this year's annual budget from the Minister of Finance.

Budget Implementation Act, 1994Government Orders

10:15 a.m.


Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to add very briefly a few points to what has been raised by my colleague the parliamentary secretary.

The member across the way invoked the fact, and I believe I am quoting him accurately, when he said: "We may be in favour of some articles and against others". That is precisely why committees of Parliament exist. Clauses can be deleted from the bill at committee.

There is a second remedy as well as was quoted by my colleague the parliamentary secretary for those members who do not sit on a particular committee. Of course that is the report stage of the bill where motions can be introduced to delete sections of the bill.

Finally, the member opposite indicated something to the effect that the bill was disjointed or did not fit the criteria of omnibus bills. He indicated that the subjects were diverse.

If that argument stands then surely it should have been made on the budget itself. After all this is a bill to implement the budget. If the bill has that disjointed characteristic that was ascribed to it by the member opposite, surely the argument would have also stood for the ways and means motion that was debated in the House and the budget itself.

If that was not true or if it was not invoked at those stages, and it has not been invoked since the bill in question was introduced on March 16, may I suggest that the argument has no more value today.

Perhaps I could add one last point. The Speaker ruled in the last Parliament that a bill which was far more comprehensive than this one, this bill only having some 20 pages, was not deemed to be offensive and against rule 634 of Beauchesne. That bill was at least 10 times the size of the one that we have now. If a bill 10 times the size was not deemed to be so omnibus that it offended this House, surely a bill one tenth the size of the previous one would not be any more offensive.

Budget Implementation Act, 1994Government Orders

10:15 a.m.


Stephen Harper Reform Calgary West, AB

Mr. Speaker, if I could just comment. Of course I am disappointed that the government cannot see the merit of its own previous arguments on matters such as these.

I would ask you to consider one point that has been raised by both of my colleagues on the government side. That is to acquaint the scope of the bill with the size and the length of it and the number of pages. I think that is an entirely inappropriate consideration. We all know that the scope of the bill is not necessarily related to the volume of paper it contains. A bill could be of the absolute maximum scope conceivable and be extremely short. Likewise we had a very thick bill in this Parliament on the income tax amendments which was actually quite narrow in scope. It is the scope of the bill rather than the size that is important.

I put it once again that this bill touches on a wide range of areas of public policy, what would normally fall in the purview of several House committees to look at.

I would also point out to you, Mr. Speaker, that if you examine carefully the arguments of the government members on the tests of the relatedness of these subject matters that the only relation the government has really pointed to is the fact that they are, broadly speaking, all part of the government's legislative agenda. I submit to you that that is not an adequate test of their relationship and their relevance to each other.

Budget Implementation Act, 1994Government Orders

10:20 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The Chair would like to thank all three members for their thoughtful interventions on this matter. In fact, the severance issue as it is called has been argued in courts many times. The lawyers in the House will know that. We have all argued it often in court, usually in matters of criminal charges. It is an issue which is most important.

The references that were made by the various members with which this chair occupant is familiar and the matters will all be considered carefully. Unfortunately it is going to take more than an instant to give a proper ruling on the matter.

We have had many omnibus bills in the past in this House. The bill will therefore have to proceed and if close examination is made a ruling will be made on it further down the trail, so to speak.

For the time being the bill will proceed and I would call on the hon. President of the Treasury Board.

Budget Implementation Act, 1994Government Orders

10:20 a.m.

York Centre Ontario


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

Mr. Speaker, one of the many groups of Canadians that are affected by Bill C-17 is the Public Service of Canada. When we came to power we found the public service under considerable stress. We have already started the rebuilding process and by the end of our mandate we expect the public service will have recovered its full ability to serve Canadians.

The wage and increment freeze which was announced in the budget is a difficult but necessary measure. The freeze which ensures that $1 billion can be booked in the fiscal framework to be reached in the year 1996-97 is something I recognize that public service employees will not welcome with open arms. But, frankly, we are freezing salaries to save jobs.

This government also announced in the budget an efficiency in program review aimed at reducing the cost of government. How that is connected is that if we find enough savings to meet the reduced departmental expenditure targets, we can apply the additional efficiency savings to reducing the length of the wage freeze.

Though the cool reception of many union leaders to the freeze of wages and increments announced in the budget is certainly understandable, I want to place our actions in perspective and show that we have been as fair as we could be to the public service in the present circumstances. I am confident that public service employees will accept this budget, especially when they understand the sacrifices that we are asking all Canadians, other groups of Canadians, to accept as well.

Most Canadians do not suspect how much they owe their quality of life to the employees of the Public Service of Canada. Let me give you three examples of the contribution of public servants to Canadians' welfare.

For more than 150 years members of the Geological Survey of Canada, using them as an example, have mapped the mineral resources of this country. This year and in future years commercial exploration will take place and new mines will open because of the work that is being done now by these public service employees.

Canada, as we well know and appreciate and as I have said many times, has just about the most respected police force in the world. Indeed, it is a national symbol. Everywhere Canadians are safer because of the work of policemen and policewomen of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Every Canadian who flies in this country as we all do benefits from a network of services that the Government of Canada has developed and maintains. The maps used to fly the planes, the air traffic controllers that guide them through the air, the weather warning systems, all come from the public service.

The organizations and people working for government are too diverse for any less to do justice to them. In addition to the people I have just mentioned, the examples I have given, are

peacekeepers, scientists, postmen and postwomen, grain inspectors, trade negotiators and on and on.

The purpose of this list is not just to catalogue the jobs that government employees do but, more important, it illustrates the real and substantial value of these jobs. The people of Canada are getting a good deal from the people who serve them.

Public service employees have long accepted the notion that although they would never get rich working in the public service, they would at least feel more secure in terms of job security than perhaps in some other sectors.

The main source of employment security for our employees is this government's policy to preserve jobs for Canadians. The main instrument of this policy in the public service is the workforce adjustment directive. In essence this directive says that no employee will be laid off because of reductions in the workforce unless he or she has received another reasonable job offer, provided the employee is mobile and willing to be retrained where necessary.

The previous government made it clear that its intention was to legislate unilaterally an end to the employment security features of workforce adjustment. It was saying to affected employees that it was only a matter of time before they would be out the door. Remember that phrase pink slips and running shoes?

Mr. Speaker, I am sure that you can realize the effect that this would have on the morale of the public service and its capacity to deliver quality service to Canadians. That is why the government will make no changes to the employment security features affecting workforce adjustment without agreement of the public service unions. In other words, it is subject to negotiations. They may want changes, we may want changes. We are not going to act unilaterally as the previous government had suggested it would do.

This government has no dogma about downsizing the public service. Our priority is and will continue to be to provide quality service to Canadians in the most efficient way possible. Of course some departments will shrink, others may even grow.

Our objective will therefore be to help employees affected by the cuts in some departments to obtain another position in the public service or elsewhere. Specific measures are provided for this purpose.

First, we shall continue to limit external recruitment and improve the management of the priority staffing process for employees whose positions are being eliminated.

Second, we shall ensure that departments have access to the incremental funds that they need to train for new jobs those employees who are affected by the workforce adjustment. When departments have additional training requirements because of this program the Treasury Board will provide central funding to complement departmental budgets for that purpose.

I would like to turn to the measures in this bill and explain their origins. The measures are a realistic combination of two elements. First, the budget recognizes that it is necessary for the attack on the deficit to book savings from the operating funds of departments through a wage freeze.

Second, it creates an opportunity for public service managers and employees to find more efficiency savings in an effort to shorten the duration of the wage freeze. Bill C-17 extends for a further two years the wage freeze for the Governor General, the lieutenant governors, federally appointed judges, members of Parliament and senators, members of the armed forces, RCMP as well as the employees of the public service. Why are we freezing salaries and suspending pay increments? Why are we taking these measures when the existing freeze still has another year to run? Public service employees deserve and need the answers to these questions.

The Minister of Finance gave the most evident and compelling reason for the freeze in his budget address. Simply put, there is no money for increases. The total salary costs of the government amount to $18.5 billion, thus making salaries a very important part of federal expenditures.

Though the government would rather proceed by negotiation than by legislation, I am convinced there really was not a reasonable alternative. In my consultations with our unions-and I did have prebudget consultations; other people engaged in them as well-they made it absolutely clear they had no interest in negotiating concessions. I understand that point of view.

If we had waited until the 1995 budget, a year from now, several bargaining units would have already been eligible to start negotiations and could have been off seeking third party arbitration by that point in time. Rather than let those processes begin under false premises we decided, albeit most reluctantly, to act this year in the budget and in this bill.

Bill C-17 also suspends normal pay increments. These increments, which are the pay increases automatically awarded to employees as they gain experience in new jobs, are common in both the public and private sector. We have chosen to suspend them because they were allowing a substantial number of public service employees to continue to get pay increases while their colleagues' salaries were frozen. The freeze on increments will put everybody in the same boat for the next two years. At the

same time this two-year measure on increments will reduce costs by some $400 million.

I might add that even in the years where there were zero increases in the existing legislation for wages the actual wage bill was going up at about 3 per cent because of the increments.

Though Bill C-17 does not allow the government to shorten or lift the freeze-it is not in the wording that we see before us-the government has made a very clear commitment to do so if efficiency savings in operating costs by December 31 of this year warrant it. Therefore we will make the decision on the freeze and our opportunity to lift the freeze, if it can be done, in the run-up to the 1995 budget.

The government is initiating a review of its operations, I think it is important to point out, to generate efficiency savings, reduce overlap and duplication, and eliminate low priority programs. The review for which my ministry will be responsible is intended to produce results by the end of December for use in the planning of the 1995 budget.

The Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and Minister responsible for Public Service Renewal will lead with one component of the review that will focus on government programs, the roles and responsibilities. It will determine what services the government should provide and what services the taxpayer can in fact afford. It will also seek to eliminate overlap and duplication both within the federal government and among other levels of government and to reduce or eliminate programs that are no longer a priority. The efficiency component of the review will concentrate on increasing the efficiency of government operations. The emphasis will be on how to deliver existing services more cheaply.

We have invited public service unions to contribute to the review with a focus on efficiency at two levels: national unions working on issues with the Treasury Board secretariat on governmentwide savings, and local components of the unions working with departmental management on efficiency savings in each department in each locale in the country.

My parliamentary secretary, the hon. member for Ottawa West, is meeting with union representatives this week to explore the most productive ways for them to participate in the review. We hope the review will generate savings over and above the restraint measures that this and previous budgets have put in place.

The added savings from changing government programs will be available for such purposes as reducing the deficit, reallocating funds to other major programs or shortening the length of the wage freeze. The government's decision on what to do with these savings will be part of the 1995 budget.

The government believes that unions, managers and employees share a common desire to serve Canada well. We therefore want to put before the public service unions and the employees a broad range of issues for them to consider at various times and in various forums. The unions have proposed several of these issues for joint resolution. Management will suggest others.

Here are some examples. For years the issue of contracted services has been a bone of contention among public service unions, managers and government. The unions see it as an attack on their members, while others consider it a cost effective way of doing business. We want to look at all aspects of the issue and make the best decisions for the people receiving our services and for taxpayers.

I have made a commitment to provide the Standing Committee on Government Operations with detailed information on contracting for services in the federal government. I have suggested to the committee that it undertake a broad review of the subject, here again opening to members of Parliament the opportunity to be involved in the decision making process.

In announcing the decision I wish to thank my parliamentary secretary, the hon. member for Ottawa West. Through the years of the previous government she and other members from the national capital region kept Parliament's interest in the public service alive. I know they are ready to make a strong contribution to the committee, as will members from across the country. After all, the public service is not just an Ottawa institution. I should point out that two-thirds of its members are located outside the national capital region in all parts of Canada.

The parliamentary committee may wish from time to time to examine other public service issues. The government remains committed to its employees and to their employment security. We intend to stabilize public service employment levels as much as we can. Nevertheless we must have the flexibility to make program adjustments as the needs of Canadians evolve.

Accordingly we will seek to make some modifications to the existing workforce adjustment directive, but we shall do so with the public service bargaining agents through the negotiation process that is now in place. They want changes as well.

Let me deal with pension management for a moment. There are compelling reasons for fundamental reform of major federal public service pension plans. The Public Service Superannuation Act, for example, is more than 40 years old and subject to criticism from several quarters. Plan members seek greater security of benefits. Taxpayers see the unlimited indexing of benefits as overly generous. The Auditor General has advocated changes to the plan's funding arrangements. Public service unions seek a greater voice in designing and managing the plan.

The government is determined to respond to these concerns with reforms that make the plan simpler, more affordable and easier to manage. We will develop the reforms in partnership with my advisory committee which comprises representatives of the plan's major stakeholders including the public service unions. We will renew the mandate of the advisory committee to develop a strategy for the complete overhaul of the program and to produce a framework for a replacement.

The Government of Canada and its employee unions have been unable to come to a full resolution on the issue of equal pay for work of equal value. Indeed the issue is now before a human rights tribunal where it could sit unresolved for another two years if no means are found to settle the matter through negotiation.

At the same time, to make it easier to resolve pay equity concerns in the long term we need fundamental changes in the job classification and remuneration structures of the public service. I am looking forward to trying to find a less confrontational way of ensuring that employees receive compensation that is in fact gender neutral. We are looking for ways to try to bring about a negotiated settlement of the matter.

The notions of what is a job and what is work are changing. We are moving away from the 9 to 5 routine, the old office and factory of the age of industry. For example, more work is being done at home under a policy that we have: Treasury Board's three-year Telework pilot project. Work schedules have to be adjusted to the needs of clients. We need to be more flexible. We need to change the structure of work. As the public service unions and managers have a big role to play in the evolution, this topic will be on the table for joint action.

I raise all of these matters, as I reach my conclusion, to illustrate that even though there is a wage freeze, which means we cannot go to the bargaining table on wages, we can go to the bargaining table to attempt to deal with a number of other issues. These are just examples. There are others that both we and the unions want to raise at the table. Through those means we will help to build the relationship between employer and employee over the years ahead.

I hope my remarks have made clear the main elements of the approach the government will take with the public service.

To begin with, we respect and are fully aware of the contribution to be made by employees of the Public Service of Canada.

We shall seek the broadest possible dialogue with public service unions and managers.

We will involve Parliament closely in all the major issues affecting the public service.

When necessary we shall act directly through legislation to ensure that the government's fiscal requirements are met. We shall respect the employment security of public service employees. I summarize these principles because they will guide all our actions. We expect to be held to them and I welcome that.

Let me conclude where I began. This is a responsible budget. A responsible bill flows from that budget. I look forward to working with the managers and the union leaders of the public service in implementing the budget measures that I have just discussed.

Budget Implementation Act, 1994Government Orders

10:40 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Since there are no questions and comments, debate is resumed. I will now recognize the hon. member for Mercier.

Budget Implementation Act, 1994Government Orders

10:40 a.m.


Francine Lalonde Bloc Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to start by pointing out that the previous speech was made by the President of the Treasury Board, and with respect, I think it is a disgrace that this government wants to change substantially how unemployment insurance works without introducing a separate bill to do so. Something even the Conservatives would not have dared to do.

The figures released yesterday on the total value of benefits paid, which will be reduced during 1994-95 and 1995-96-and I may recall that for each year this will be $630 million in the Atlantic Provinces and $735 million in Quebec-these figures show that the Maritime Provinces and Quebec will be hit with nearly 60 per cent of the cutbacks, although together they represent only one-third of the population. In fact, the Maritimes are being hit even worse. The Maritimes, or should I say the Atlantic Provinces, with 8.5 per cent of the population of Canada, will feel 26 per cent of the cuts, while Quebec is also seriously hit, with 25 per cent of the population and 31 per cent of the cuts.

I wanted to make this point because this amendment to the Unemployment Insurance Act does more than change the rules and the number of weeks. It marks the end of the redistributional effect of unemployment insurance. This effect was needed because of the widely differing economies in some of Canada's regions. I do not think the workers in these regions should be penalized for the poor state of the economy, especially when a government gets elected by saying: jobs, jobs, jobs, vote for us!

By making these cuts, the government is passing judgment on the economy of these provinces and the Maritimes. It is saying: It is useless to do anything to help you. Move somewhere else! So workers will have to move, and if they do not, they will only have themselves to blame. One minister says we can give them

some hope for the future by letting them pick up trash when they are between the ages of 50 and 65.

This bill will endear the government to no one, especially in the Maritimes, where the Liberals were elected with a strong majority and where they never told the workers who voted for them and their promises of jobs, that all these people who were seasonally employed would soon see their benefits cut by an omnibus bill.

These cuts are substantial, Mr. Speaker. We saw the overall figures, but to the individual, it means a loss of thousands of dollars and a change of status. For the benefit of those who have never been unemployed, there is a world of difference between being on unemployment insurance between jobs and being forced to go on welfare and feel like a social reject.

Measures to provide that in some cases, people could be employed for a certain time and then go on unemployment insurance, were introduced by a previous Liberal government. The Liberals initiated this mechanism to provide for a measure of equity regions and between individuals.

Did the Liberals not realize that these cutbacks would come down harder on the Maritimes and Quebec? Was this a coincidence and were they convinced that this was the route they had to take? No. Were they unaware of the consequences? Not on your Nelly. In the unemployment insurance bureaucracy it was common knowledge that people with short term employment could depend on unemployment insurance to supplement their income and could apply again, if they had to, but not every year. They could have this security, this money to tide them over. They knew, because there are plenty of tables at Unemployment and Immigration Canada that say so. These tables show that repeaters, as they are commonly called, tend to be from the Maritimes and Quebec. Individuals with between 10 and 20 weeks of employment are from the Maritimes and Quebec. In fact, in 1991, the proportion of repeaters was 65 per cent in Newfoundland, compared with 4 per cent in Ontario.

If the Liberals wanted a debate on the redistributional effect of unemployment insurance, they should have tackled this issue head-on. If Ontarians are sick and tired of paying for the rest of Canada, let us be honest about it, instead of hiding behind an omnibus bill that is touted as a set of new mechanisms but in fact introduces only technical changes.

What does this government want? What is it drawn to? The American model? Is it adapting to the North American model? I ask the question but, as a well-known Liberal Prime Minister once said, to ask the question is to answer it. Is the government adapting its policies to those of the United States, where the norm is six months on unemployment insurance and coverage is 50 per cent of the average industrial wage? We are very close. We are almost there.

These are the same Liberals who fought against free trade and NAFTA, and they are going to make the workers, the victims, pay for the impact of these globalization policies.

On the basis of the figures for the Maritimes and Quebec, our conclusion is that economic problems experienced by individuals can only be addressed by helping the individual. It is economic policy which determines whether or not Quebec's regions can develop. That is the issue.

Since this omnibus bill is presented to implement the budget, let me talk about the economic policy underlying it. This week, during debate on the motion concerning job creation, I said that there are two kinds of countries. There are those where employment is the residue, the leftover, what remains when all the rest has been dealt with, when inflation, the debt and business subsidies have been considered. What else! In other countries, employment is the goal and it conditions all the parameters of a government's policy; it is part of an overall employment policy or strategy, not half-measures. We find half-measures not in what is done but in the promises. We are promised half-measures.

The government has refused to address fiscal policy. It rejected the Bloc's proposal to set up a committee to look at all budget expenditures. The government has pursued the same monetary policy as the Conservatives, unsuccessfully, since we see how threatened the rates are now. The government does not care; on the contrary, the Liberals have always been the natural governing party, especially in Ottawa, so they do not care about giving the regions what they need to develop.

Mr. Speaker, Alain Dubuc, the famous editorialist of La Presse -by famous, I mean well-known; I do not always agree with him-recently wrote something which I believe is very important, especially coming from him. Unfortunately, I do not have a copy of the newspaper with me, but I am not misrepresenting him with this quotation: ``Lloyd Axworthy did not do what had to be done. He cut before putting measures in place to help workers''.

The unemployment insurance measures which arouse the anger we see developing, understandably, will make the most vulnerable and the most disadvantaged pay for a reform that is still poorly defined, but whose outlines we can suppose. Before putting assistance measures in place, before implementing an employment-based economic policy worthy of the name, they cut. They cut and attacked those in the most difficult situation.

As a member of the Committee on Human Resources Development, I heard the testimony of people from Sydney who are completely discouraged. Just raising the qualifying period from 10 to 12 weeks in a region where unemployment is 15 or 16 per cent, there are no jobs and shutdowns are everywhere, throws many individuals and families into despair, because instead of having an adjustment period to find their feet, they are forced to

go on welfare. They are rejected. They feel downgraded, abandoned, left behind by this government which, I repeat, was elected by a very large majority of people who voted Liberal in the Maritimes on the promise of jobs.

By the way, I want to point out the complacency of the Quebec Liberal government as well, which is not speaking out strongly to say how much these measures will cost it in additional welfare payments.

A booklet released yesterday by Employment and Immigration Canada broaches the subject of social assistance. The following is stated: "The minister invited provincial officials to meet with those responsible for human resources development with a view to identifying estimates and developing a common agreement on the implications of social assistance". Representatives in Ottawa currently put the potential repercussions for the provinces at between $65 million and $135 million. This means roughly $40 million for Quebec, given the situation in which it currently finds itself.

Is the Government of Quebec complaining? No. Of course, there is an election coming and the Quebec Liberal government is a prisoner of its own political options.

Once again, it is the workers who are going to pay dearly very soon for this government's refusal to keep its promises. The least fortunate are going to have to pay for the complicity of other governments seeking only to settle their own structural problems by paying no heed to ordinary people.

I see that I must wrap up my remarks, Mr. Speaker. I would have liked to continue, but I have been told that my time is nearly up. When I speak from the heart, I can go on for quite some time. However, before concluding, I would like to table the following motion:

That all of the words following the word "That" be rescinded and replaced by the following:

"this House refuse to proceed with the second reading of Bill C-17, an Act to amend certain statutes to implement certain provisions of the budget

1) given that the amendments to the Unemployment Insurance Act do not reduce the inequities between have and have-not regions in the country and contain no specific measures to reduce youth unemployment;

2) given that the amendments to the Unemployment Insurance Act do not cancel the increase in premiums paid by workers and employers in effect since January 1, 1994."

Having tabled this amendment, may I now use the time I have remaining?

Budget Implementation Act, 1994Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member may continue later. I will take the motion under advisement, examine it and make a ruling immediately following oral question period.

Budget Implementation Act, 1994Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

The Speaker

It being eleven o'clock a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 30(5), the House will now proceed to statements by members pursuant to Standing Order 31.

Commemorative StampStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Paul Steckle Liberal Huron—Bruce, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am very happy to inform hon. members of the issuing last week of a commemorative stamp to honour the 125th anniversary of the founding of Eaton's department stores by one of Huron-Bruce's favorite sons, Timothy Eaton.

Canada Post has issued a prestige booklet which includes stamps, photographs and a written text outlining the history of the T. Eaton Company.

Last week in London at the Galleria Eaton store there was a presentation of an enlarged commemorative stamp to the Kirkton-Woodham Community Centre and to Ray and Wendy Venturin, operators of the Kirkton market, the ancestor of Timothy Eaton's original business.

After coming to Canada in 1856 from his native Ireland, he settled and eventually opened his first store in the Huron-Bruce town of Kirkton, Ontario. In a small wooden cabin with his brother James, Timothy Eaton operated a small general store and post office.

Later Timothy Eaton left Kirkton for St. Mary's, Ontario, where he began a small dry goods store. In 1869 he headed for Toronto where he founded the store that eventually became the famous Eaton's chain, which prides itself on customer service, and quality merchandise for a good price.

Figure SkatingStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Antoine Dubé Bloc Lévis, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to congratulate Elvis Stojko, Isabelle Brasseur and Lloyd Eisler on their dazzling wins at the World Figure Skating Championships in Chiba, Japan. Elvis Stojko, the 22-year-old Olympic silver medallist from Ontario, won the gold thanks to a nearly flawless program. He won the gold after competing with the best in the world.

I also take this opportunity to point out the courage shown by Lloyd Eisler and Isabelle Brasseur, who won the silver medal at the same world championships in spite of a rib injury sustained by Isabelle Brasseur a few weeks ago. Congratulations to these athletes who make Canada and Quebec proud.

JusticeStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Jan Brown Reform Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, tragic circumstances in my riding will now haunt a Calgary family forever.

A cold-blooded murder, apparently premeditated, tells a story that in Canada is becoming all too common. Something must be done as Canadians everywhere are demanding major criminal justice reforms.

The chairman of the justice committee stated on March 23 that the justice system should be more lenient toward first degree murderers. He suggested that the eligibility for parole be reduced from 25 years to 15.

My constituent died as a result of a shotgun blast to the back at point-blank range. Why should there be any leniency in a case like this? How can such a change, as suggested by the Liberals, make our streets safer?

It is time to strengthen parole mechanisms, not to weaken them. Despite what the Liberals want, I can categorically say that Canadians do not want leniency at this cost. Convicted killers indeed have a place: off our streets and behind bars.

HockeyStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


John Murphy Liberal Annapolis Valley—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to resolve an ongoing controversy over the birthplace of hockey in this great country.

As documented by the Windsor Hockey Heritage Society, the game of hockey had its origins in Windsor, Nova Scotia in the early 1800s. It was first played by the students of Kings College School where it evolved from hurley, an Irish field game. In fact, hockey was played in Windsor for nearly a century before it was played in most other Canadian towns.

I am proud that in my riding of Annapolis Valley-Hants the Windsor Hockey Heritage Society continues to promote the history of this great game, both locally and across Canada. I would like to congratulate this organization for its dedication in preserving such an important part of our heritage.

Anna PaquinStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Ronald J. Duhamel Liberal St. Boniface, MB

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the residents of the riding of St. Boniface, indeed on behalf of all Manitobans and Canadians, I rise today to salute and congratulate 11 year old Anna Paquin.

Miss Paquin was awarded an Academy Award this week for best supporting actress for her role in the movie The Piano .

Anna Paquin was only four years old when she left Winnipeg and according to her uncle, Dr. Wayne Paquin of St. Boniface, she was always "very precocious, very bright, very outgoing and very talented". Miss Paquin became the youngest Oscar winner since 10 year old Tatum O'Neil won in the same category for Paper Moon 20 years ago.

Anna's grandmother, Mrs. Agnes Tuckwell, watched with a great deal of pride from her St. Boniface home as her granddaughter made her way to the podium on Monday evening and with good reason.

Once again, I extend my warmest congratulations to Miss Paquin, to her grandmother and her family.

Jury DutyStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


John Harvard Liberal Winnipeg—St. James, MB

Mr. Speaker, government should not speak out of both sides of its mouth. A case in point is jury duty.

Unless excused for a very good reason Canadians when asked are obliged to do jury duty. Most people do not complain because it is a service to our country.

But consider what happened to one of my constituents. She was on unemployment insurance when called to jury duty. She met her obligation but discovered later she lost her UI benefits while serving as a juror. What we have here is one department of government ordering a citizen to carry out her duties to Canada while another department penalizes her for doing so.

That is government speaking out of both sides of its mouth. Is this hypocrisy? Is the law an ass? The verdict surely is guilty on both counts.

Unemployment InsuranceStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Maurice Bernier Bloc Mégantic—Compton—Stanstead, QC

Mr. Speaker, the recent Liberal budget cut unemployment insurance benefits by $2.4 billion, $630 million of which comes directly from the Maritimes.

Demonstrators took to the streets to protest these inordinate cuts in a region hard hit by unemployment. Three large demon-

strations were held in Shippagan, in Bathurst and, just yesterday, in Sydney where over 1,500 protesters burned the Prime Minister, the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Transport in effigy.

Meanwhile, none of the 31 Liberal members from the Maritimes had the courage to denounce this situation. Did they forget those who elected them? Did they forget their first duty is to be loyal to their constituents? This new version of the Silence of the Lambs must be denounced.

Elvis StojkoStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Ed Harper Reform Simcoe Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to pay tribute to Elvis Stojko for his tremendous performance last night in winning a gold medal for Canada.

Elvis StojkoStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Elvis StojkoStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Ed Harper Reform Simcoe Centre, ON

This native of Richmond Hill, Ontario is a perfect example of what can be achieved through hard work and dedication.

There is a special feeling of pride in my riding since Elvis trains in Barrie at the Mariposa Figure Skating School under coach Doug Lee. No one attains a world championship without years of dedication and the support of family and friends.

I am sure all members will join me in paying tribute to this outstanding young Canadian.

AgricultureStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, the standing committee on agriculture has just completed hearings on whether to allow the use of BST in Canada. The entire committee process was conducted in public and open session, including the work on the recommendations and final report.

The work of the committee has confirmed the new role of parliamentary committees promised by our party during the last election. The decision to examine the BST issue, which one witness described as unprecedented attention to a veterinarian drug, was taken collectively by the committee.

Throughout the process members of the committee worked in a spirit of co-operation and commitment toward achieving a consensus report which will soon be tabled in the House.

Once the committee report is tabled it will be up to the government to respond with the appropriate legislation to implement the moratorium called for by that committee. I would hope that same spirit continues.

In that sense of co-operation, with a name like mine, I want to wish everyone in the House and everyone associated with it a very happy Easter.

Fetal Alcohol SyndromeStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Anna Terrana Liberal Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, Ms. Dawn Gardner is a Saskatchewan health journalist who is concerned about alcohol abuse on the part of pregnant women.

Fetal alcohol syndrome is defined as a random pattern of mental, physical and behavioural defects which may develop in the unborn child when the mother consumes alcohol during the course of her pregnancy. A pregnant woman never drinks alone.

Canadian estimates of children affected by fetal alcohol syndrome are over 36,000 yearly. These statistics tell us that over 50 per cent of these children become wards of the state. The same percentage will need corrective surgeries while many will suffer from blindness, deafness, epilepsy and most frequently mental retardation.

The government must take some responsibility for this situation and make sure that measures are taken to educate people by labelling all bottles of alcohol, posting signs, introducing health programs in the schools, et cetera.

Our youth is our future. Our children are the leaders of tomorrow. Let us spare them.

A happy Easter to you, Mr. Speaker.

Parliamentary AssociationsStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


John Bryden Liberal Hamilton—Wentworth, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to draw your attention to an overseas exchange program that has proved to be of immense value to the country. I speak of the House of Commons parliamentary associations which enable parliamentarians from other countries to visit Canada and Canadian MPs to visit them. It is thus that we cement the ties of democracy while building lines of communication for international trade.

Therefore, I would hope that the House would acknowledge those MPs who are taking part in these very important organizations, especially the anglophone members who have joined the French speaking associations and the francophone members who have joined the English speaking associations.

It is when these members go abroad to France, to Europe, the Commonwealth that we show the world we are indeed a united Canada.