House of Commons Hansard #31 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.


Borrowing Authority Act, 1994-95Adjournment Proceedings

6:20 p.m.


Herb Grubel Reform Capilano—Howe Sound, BC

Mr. Speaker, frequent contacts with my constituents indicate that the two areas of greatest concern to them are the deficit and immigration. The two issues are related.

My constituents wonder about the costs which immigrants impose on Canadian governments during this period of fiscal crisis. Even though on average and over their lifetime immigrants historically have made a net contribution to the coffers of the government, they are concerned about those who enter Canada under the family unification program.

The minister has announced that next year he has ordered the admittance of 110,000 individuals in this category. Under current laws these family unification immigrants are almost exclusively the elderly parents of persons already in Canada as landed immigrants. We know from past years that the bulk of these parents are of an age where they are likely to pay only small if any premiums to the provincial medicare program. Yet

as landed immigrants they are entitled to free medicare for the rest of their lives.

A distinguished newspaper columnist had obtained information on the numbers and age distribution of family unification immigrants admitted during the period 1988 to 1992. Using data on the average cost of medicare services required by older people, the columnist estimated that the family immigrants admitted during this period added about $1 billion to the annual cost of the Canadian medicare system.

I think it is legitimate to ask an equivalent question about the family immigrants to be admitted next year and in future years once their levels have been decided. In fact I believe that the government should be required to publish regularly estimates of the costs immigration policies are expected to impose on public services.

If the costs are as high as some experts think they are, the government might consider changes in existing policy. One such change might involve the rule now existing in Australia according to which parents are admitted only if they do not leave at home more of their children than they join in their new country of residence.

Another perhaps somewhat more radical policy might be to admit only immigrants who agree to live in Canada without having their parents join them. There are large numbers of foreigners willing to come to Canada under these conditions, I am sure.

I should note that no one expects a definitive answer on the dollar costs. Canadians are sophisticated about the uncertainty surrounding all such estimates involving social and economic magnitudes. They want an estimate accompanied by explanations of the underlying data and the assumptions. They will interpret it with the proper caution.

I thank you, Mr. Speaker, for allowing me to bring forth these issues again in the House. I am sure the people of Canada will appreciate having the answer to the question I raise.

Borrowing Authority Act, 1994-95Adjournment Proceedings

6:20 p.m.

Halifax Nova Scotia


Mary Clancy LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration has launched a public consultation process that will help shape the country's immigration policy for the next decade. His intentions are clear, and that is to hear from Canadians.

Family reunification has always been a cornerstone of Canadian immigration policy. We must never underestimate the advantages of family based immigration. Family members help to integrate and settle newcomers successfully with little associated costs.

In a 1991 study the Economic Council of Canada stated that immigration had a positive albeit small impact on the real per capita income of Canadians. Thus if the impact is not negative it cannot be used to argue that levels are too high. Economic neutrality in fact supports the current levels of humanitarian immigration.

In addition the Economic Council also made the point that an increase in immigration did not increase unemployment neither in the short nor the long term. This was verified by examining 12 OECD countries.

We on this side of the House tend to agree with the council's findings when it says that everyone benefits economically and otherwise from immigration.

Another study by Samuel and Conyers in June 1986 entitled "The Employment Effects of Immigration: A Balance Sheet Approach" concluded that the net impact of immigration from the perspective of job creation was positive and that immigrants were net creators of jobs.

Studies using the 1986 census data have concluded that immigrants collect less welfare. Since they also pay taxes they are contributing positively to maintaining our social safety net, which in turn helps pay for Canada's social programs including and perhaps most especially our health care system.

Borrowing Authority Act, 1994-95Adjournment Proceedings

6:25 p.m.


Suzanne Tremblay Bloc Rimouski—Témiscouata, QC

Mr. Speaker, on February 22 last, I put a question to the Minister of Canadian Heritage concerning the $350,000 in severance pay awarded to the Director General of the National Arts Centre following a putsch organized by the Mayor of Ottawa.

As a supplemental, I asked him whether it was true, and I quote:

that the person responsible for the placement agency in the Prime Minister's Office, Mrs. Collenette, is desperately looking for a new job in the federal public service for Mr. DesRochers?

The minister answered as follows, and I quote:

there announced vacancy that is not yet effective but will become so a little later in the year.

What are we to make of the minister's response? He listened to my question and he answered it. I must therefore interpret it and draw a connection between it and my question. So, by informing me that there will be an opening later this year, the minister led me to conclude that the director of appointments in the Prime Minister's Office intends to keep this position for Mr. DesRochers.

If my interpretation of the minister's answer is correct, then we in this House have the right to wonder whether the Liberal government plans to replace all senior public servants with Liberals because, if it is so, we will be paying compensation for a long time. Let us just remember all the political appointments made by the previous government in its dying days.

I sincerely hope that, even though the answer was written in advance, the minister will reassure the House and make a commitment to take the necessary steps to address the problem of mismanagement in government agencies, which is extremely costly to Canadian taxpayers.

We have to remind ourselves of the difficulties encountered in 1987 in securing the appointment, for the first time, of a French-speaking director at the National Arts Centre. As Mr. Leroux, the Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Francophone Affairs for the City of Ottawa, mentioned, and I quote: "The dismissal of Mr. DesRochers is a step backward for the Francophone population which can no longer deal with the senior management of the National Arts Centre in its own language". Mr. Leroux resigned to show his disapproval, and we can expect further resignations.

Furthermore, the minister hides behind the managerial autonomy of these agencies to avoid responding to the real questions and the real issues raised by the Bloc Quebecois. If the minister wants to be responsible, he must tell us clearly without further ado what concrete measures he intends to take to address the problem of mismanagement in government agencies, particularly in the Canadian Museum of Nature and the National Capital Commission.

The minister must regain control of these agencies, ensure a more transparent form of management and, this time, answer the questions that are put to him with all the intelligence that I am willing to give him credit for, otherwise he could very well lose his credibility once and for all.

Borrowing Authority Act, 1994-95Adjournment Proceedings

6:25 p.m.

Mississauga East Ontario


Albina Guarnieri LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, in answer to the question asked by the hon. member for Rimouski-Témiscouata, first of all I have to make it clear that the National Arts Centre's director general is appointed by the corporation's board of directors. Moreover, the director general's salary is set by the Governor in Council; so, all the terms and conditions of employment of the director general come directly under the responsibility and authority of the National Arts Centre's board of directors, as provided under the National Arts Centre Act. As for the first part of her question, the hon. member for Rimouski-Témiscouata can therefore see that it is not incumbent on the government in this specific instance to determine the working conditions and the severance pay of NAC employees.

The director general position is classified by the Privy Council at the GIC-8 level which currently has a salary range of $110,100 to $129,700. Mr. Yvon DesRochers was appointed director general of the National Arts Centre in 1988 for a five-year term and was reappointed for another five years in May 1993.

His salary was fixed by the Governor in Council subsequent to negotiations between the board of trustees and Mr. DesRochers at the time of his appointment. Specific information on Mr. DesRochers' salary is protected under the Privacy Act as it is for all Canadians protected by this legislation.

The Minister of Canadian Heritage would also like to point out that the salary of the director general was set by the previous government.

Finally, Mr. Yvon DesRochers' contract has been terminated following the decision made by the National Arts Centre's board of directors on January 14, 1994.

Borrowing Authority Act, 1994-95Adjournment Proceedings

6:30 p.m.


David Iftody Liberal Provencher, MB

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to refer the Minister of Human Resources Development to a question that I raised in the House on February 7 concerning the issue of labour disputes at the port of Vancouver.

As history has proven, free and unimpeded movement of goods and services is the cornerstone of an economy that relies on a free market. Western Canada in particular was opened by our exports almost 100 years ago. In 1896 the wheat boom was a creation principally by a transportation system and security of labour relations which allowed us to export our grain to markets around the world.

When the free flow of these goods and services of any type is obstructed the Canadian economy is harmed and indeed weakened. In any kind of labour dispute which brings about these kinds of work stoppages there are no winners but everyone loses.

This was most definitely the case in this instance. Grains and other exports were stored in warehouses while 74 ships in the port of Vancouver were idle without any stock and not moving out of the port at all.

The Canadian Wheat Board said that this backlog of ships cost the prairie farmer $6 million in penalties. I want to point out that this is a cost Canadian farmers cannot afford to bear in these times. The storage fees alone for keeping that grain outside those ships was $300,000 a day.

I want to point out that this strike affected personally the people in my riding of Provencher. Outside of the grain farmers I want to draw members' attention to a manufacturing firm that has Japanese customers and is shipping over finished products in the lumber industry. It faced over $50,000 worth of late

penalties and an additional $13,000 in air freight charges to ship those goods to the Japanese customers to get them there on time.

Above and beyond this, one of the principal concerns of these kinds of labour interruptions is the fact that they call into question Canada's reputation as a good trading partner. The day before the actual strike the marketing director for the port of Vancouver in Beijing, China was receiving hundreds of calls questioning Canada's ability to deliver its goods to its trading partners on time.

China is Canada's largest importer of grain and it is a very valuable market to Canada. What sort of message are we sending to our international trade partners, to China and to the Asian Pacific rim in particular?

At a time when we are linking our economic trade to international relations it is critically important that Canada have security in our transportation systems and in our labour systems to ensure that business people in Canada, in western Canada and in Provencher in particular have their goods and services transported to their destinations without interference.

This is why I am asking the minister on behalf of the people of Provencher what specific measures were taken since the government introduced its legislation to bring the parties back to the table? What specific measures are being taken to ensure that we will have easy and unimpeded access to international markets throughout the world and the Asian Pacific Rim?

Borrowing Authority Act, 1994-95Adjournment Proceedings

6:35 p.m.

York North Ontario


Maurizio Bevilacqua LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to respond to the hon. member's question concerning the recent dispute on the west coast between the British Columbia Maritime Employer's Association and the International Longshoremen's and Warehousemen's Union.

The West Coast Ports Operations Act, 1994, passed by Parliament on February 8 and given royal assent the same day, called for the immediate resumption of longshoring operations on Canada's west coast upon the coming into force of the act and provided for the final settlement of those items remaining in dispute between the parties by the final offer selection process.

While disappointed at the inability of the parties to resolve their dispute through collective bargaining, the Minister of Human Resources Development did not hesitate to act in the public interest and take measures to ensure the resumption of important export shipments through the west coast ports.

During the House debates on Bill C-10 the minister committed to consulting members of the opposition parties regarding the selection of an arbitrator. I am pleased that members of the Bloc Quebecois and the New Democratic Party supported Mr. Allan Hope's appointment as arbitrator.

Prior to the recent disruption there had been indications of reasons to hope that labour and management in the port of Vancouver had moved away from the dismal pattern of the 1970s and the first half of the 1980s when Parliament was forced to provide for resolution of their disputes. Settlements arrived at through the collective bargaining process in the two previous rounds gave some reason to believe that the pattern had changed and that the parties were entering a new era of constructive labour relations.

It is hoped that the current difficulties do not represent a reversion to previous form and that the parties will endeavour in future to find better ways of resolving their differences. The competitive future of our west coast ports and consequently the livelihood of those involved in the longshoring industry relies on their ability to approach the bargaining relationship in a spirit of common interest.

Reports from the west coast indicate that grain shipments are being loaded at a brisk pace in order to fill outstanding export commitments. While it is unfortunate that export commodities were impacted upon by the work stoppage, the government realized that through co-operative initiatives such as the Vancouver Ports Corporation stakeholders conference and the government's involvement with the western grain storage and handling industry, solutions can be found to industry concerns which will allow for improved relations between the parties and the fast, efficient movement of export commodities through the west coast ports.

Borrowing Authority Act, 1994-95Adjournment Proceedings

6:35 p.m.


Rey D. Pagtakhan Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, on February 16 I posed two questions to the Minister of Health, essentially asking what steps the department will take to ensure that the network of health care volunteers, professionals and organizations will be involved in the design, implementation and monitoring of any blueprint to ensure that the anti-smoking education campaign is successful.

Since that question, we had a report last week of a survey indicating that the anti-smoking campaign has not had much influence on the habits of young smokers. Therefore, I ask the minister again, what specific steps will she take to ensure that any anti-smoking education campaign will have the input of health care professionals. By using their expertise and skills we will ensure greater success for any such campaign.

A second point relates to what specific new regulatory framework the government envisions taking to ensure that the Government of Canada has greater control over tobacco manufacturers and to ensure again that we prevent young Canadians from starting the habit of smoking.

What a turn of events. Only last week we heard the report that tobacco manufacturers might have added nicotine deliberately during the manufacturing of cigarettes. That almost strengthens

the urgency of the need to move with a new regulatory framework.

Today the regulation allows manufacturers greater latitude and freedom to do things other than those prohibited by law. The focus must be changed. When tobacco manufacturers envision doing something new or something unknown to us as yet, they should submit their proposals and then the government will say yes, it is okay or no, it is unhealthy for Canadians. We need that kind of new regulatory framework to ensure that we truly take to heart the health of Canadians foremost.

On that note I would beg the minister and his parliamentary secretary to bear before Parliament the steps they will take to ensure that health care network of the country will be involved in the design, implementation and monitoring of any new blueprint to combat smoking in the country and at the same time indicate the new regulatory framework the government is prepared to take to ensure that the health of Canadians is foremost and that we prevent the smoking habit that only creates illness, disability and ultimately death.

Borrowing Authority Act, 1994-95Adjournment Proceedings

6:35 p.m.

Bonavista—Trinity—Conception Newfoundland & Labrador


Fred Mifflin LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Minister of Health I welcome the opportunity to respond to the question raised by the hon. member about our anti-smoking campaign.

I know how much he is committed to it. I can assure my hon. colleague that his government's determination to reduce and eventually eliminate tobacco use particularly among Canadian youth is very much in force. We will not stand idly by allowing young people to be exploited and to become addicted. The unnecessary tragedy of premature death and the burden of disease caused by smoking with which he is very familiar must not be inflicted on another generation.

We are well aware that smoking is already responsible for approximately 40,000 preventable deaths in Canada each year. We realize that with lower tobacco prices additional work very seriously needs to be done now.

I am pleased to report on behalf of the minister that much of this work is in progress. As the member may be aware, stronger more visible messages will be appearing on cigarette packaging by September 1994. The Tobacco Sales to Young Persons Act came into force in early February 1994. It is now unlawful to sell tobacco products to persons under 18 years of age. If we go into local stores we should be able to see federal signs to this effect.

In addition, legislation has been introduced to ban the sale of kiddy packs. As well the Minister of Health recently announced the tobacco reduction strategy, an $185 million dollar initiative over three years with which innovative legislation is combined. That is to say targeted health activities will develop appropriate prevention and smoking cessation efforts. This will be combined with media campaigns aimed at younger people.

The Minister of Health has had preliminary discussions with her provincial and territorial counterparts as well as the National Health Organization. Within weeks she will meet again to discuss joint approaches on this very serious subject. There can be no doubt about the need to convince people to stop smoking, not because it is politically correct, environmentally friendly or fiscally prudent, but because it will be healthier.

We will save our limited health resources and more important, as my hon. colleague is well aware as a physician, it will save lives. I know my hon. colleague will offer his support to further ensure the success of these efforts.

Borrowing Authority Act, 1994-95Adjournment Proceedings

6:35 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Pursuant to Standing Order 38(5) the motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. The House therefore stands adjourned until tomorrow at ten o'clock.

(The House adjourned at 6.42 p.m.)