Mr. Speaker, I suggest to my colleagues across the way that I was not trying to jump in front of them as far as the speaking order of the House.
As my colleague from Beaver River would know, having sat beside her for a number of months in the last Parliament, this member would not at all be interested in doing that sort of thing.
Tonight I would like to talk about issues that are very close to my heart as they relate to the estimates. Those who have had the opportunity to spend some time with the member for Kenora-Rainy River know that my interests are the interests of a very large rural riding. In that large rural riding there are some issues that I think need to be discussed in this place.
Those issues of course are the issues of what northwestern Ontario is all about. That basically is forestry, mining, tourism and a small amount of manufacturing along with the retail sector.
Like the rest of Canada, my riding is dependent on a very small business sector to create and maintain valuable jobs. The small businesses in Kenora-Rainy River can be found servicing, complementing and drawing on the strengths of major resource sectors. The viability of small and medium sized businesses in my riding is typical of the diversity needed to build secondary industries in Canada.
There is no doubt that main estimates' spending in 1994-95 in the federal budget is geared to reinforcing a solid small business sector to create jobs and spark the economy. It is because of the dependence on small business that I am pleased to see the initiatives in the 1994-95 budget addressing stability and growth for small business.
As I have said before, as a member of the opposition in this House in the previous Parliament, one of the major concerns that I focused on was the lack of initiative for small business, the lack of help that we as parliamentarians gave to the small business sector.
In Canada we must ensure sustainable and viable resource based industries are supported. But in order to build an economic foundation for the long term we must diversify our economy to take advantage of our raw materials and our technological development. Perhaps nowhere in Canada is that more evident than in northwestern Ontario where diversification and secondary industry development are the keys to opening tomorrow's doors.
The small business working groups recently established by this government are examining the initiatives needed to foster an environment for growth and give business the tools to expand.
I am happy to see that the government is making access to capital and appropriate training a priority for the small business sector. I have risen in this House on previous occasions and lamented on the sad state of the relationship between small businesses and the financial institutions.
I sincerely hope a new code of conduct between small businesses and banks provides a more fruitful relationship than we have seen in the past. Entrepreneurs need capital investment in order to expand and start up new ventures which provide the jobs this country is looking for. Expansion of the Small Businesses Loans Act will also enhance the flow of capital to legitimate business operations in Canada.
Small business also needs the expertise to explore export markets and utilize new technology. The budget speaks well to these concerns. The Canada investment fund for example will help companies access leading edge technology. As well, the business centres will help make information on government programs and services more readily available as well as providing insight into strategies for exploiting export markets.
The remote locations of many businesses in Canada have historically made it difficult to access pertinent information. Federal government spending on information services will give these businesses the knowledge they need to explore new technology and make inroads into international markets.
I am anxious to work with the business community in developing this government's objectives. Believe me, we have many ambitious and capable entrepreneurs in Kenora-Rainy River if only given half a chance simply by doing very key and very elementary things.
Let me give a couple of examples of those. One of those of course is replacing the GST. Reducing red tape and the burden that is on small business as it relates to red tape and harmonizing federal and provincial regulations are just some of the things that I find to be extremely important to creating the right environment for our business sector to flourish.
Such federal initiatives are a breath of fresh air to our small business community and something that I wait anxiously for in order that we can start creating the jobs. The small business sector is the key and what we as parliamentarians should not lose sight of if we are to see this economy start to grow.
Other measures such as changes to the social security system and new job training strategies for young people are essential to changing the fundamental structures in this country that will help lead the way to practical training for people entering our workforce. An expanding small and medium sized business sector needs a talented and appropriately trained workforce.
I am confident federal spending on innovative training programs will help accommodate this objective.
Realistic job oriented training, better financial, technological and information resources for small business are essential to building a strong economy in my region and across the country. However, to take advantage of these enhanced resources for small business my region in particular needs the very basic of infrastructure networks.
I feel we are on the right track with spending on the infrastructure projects. Not only are we creating jobs to jump-start the economy, small that it is, we are also providing the basic foundation for a competitive national economy. Basic infrastructure involves roads, buildings, transportation and water and sewer services.
I invite the members of this House to come and visit northwestern Ontario. Members will truly be impressed with the beauty of our natural surroundings, our forests, lakes and our famous sunsets. I am sure they will enjoy their visit. I am also sure that discerning individuals with attention to economic development will witness certain inadequacies in infrastructure.
They will see that our highways still need improvements. Some members will be dissatisfied that they cannot travel to certain areas simply because there are no roads at all. Some members will see and be surprised that growing municipalities do not have adequate sewer and water treatment facilities. One or two visits to First Nations communities will likely leave members disenchanted with current conditions.
The federal infrastructure works program speaks to these conditions. But I emphasize that northwestern Ontario and other regions in Canada need improved infrastructure. The north, remote areas of my riding such as First Nations communities, require basic infrastructure such as roads to open up economic opportunities. A road network where there is currently nothing will create the opportunities for trade within the region as a starting block.
Further road links such as the highway I have talked about in this House on many occasions from Red Lake in my riding to Winnipeg, which I have been requesting for some time and more reasonable air transportation connections, will then lead to enhanced trade outside of the region.
This trade will not only be in goods and commodities but also people themselves. Although tourism is a strong component of economic development in my riding there remains many untapped opportunities mainly because of poor transportation infrastructure.
Finally, I return to where I started, the resource sector. First I would like to comment on the mining industry which as most people are aware is a struggling industry in Canada. It is encouraging that the federal budget makes contributions to trust funds for mine reclamation tax deductible. This deduction will help mining companies utilize cash flow for other operating costs as well as making it convenient to ensure mine sites are rehabilitated after operations cease.
Certainly market trends have not been favourable recently for the mining sector in Canada. That is why it is all the more important for this government to seriously consider tax incentives or other measures to help stimulate mining activity. We need to encourage grassroots exploration and investment in Canadian based mineral companies.
I understand the Minister of Finance is open to the concept of mining incentives and I look forward to contributing to the process of renewing this policy.
Furthermore, I acknowledge that environmental guidelines for the mining industry are necessary and it is our responsibility to protect the environment. However, the procedures in place are convoluted and confusing, resulting in unnecessary delays to legitimate mine start-ups. As a result we are losing mineral investment dollars to foreign nations.
We must stop this leakage and support mining projects in Canada by established, concise and efficient environmental assessment procedures. We can protect the environment and ensure mining operations are safe without frightening away investment due to red tape and uncertainty from within the bureaucracy.
I can say from talking to the Minister of the Environment and the understanding that I have within the government that we are now in the process of dealing with that very difficult and complex issue of duplication of environmental policy across the country. I hope to be able to stand up here very soon and share in the announcement of this government that we now have one process for mines, one process for forestry, one process for Canadians as it relates to the environmental assessment process and not have to spin our wheels going from one department to the next, municipal, provincial, federal and God only knows wherever else we have to go before we can get economic development within our regions.
Second, I would like to directly address the forest industry in Canada which is by far the primary economic activity in my riding. The federal government as we all know does not have direct jurisdiction over forestry practices. The federal government instead contributes to research and scientific development through federal-provincial forestry development agreements.
I feel it is the federal government's responsibility and should remain an eminent priority to lend as much support as possible to the development of sustainable forestry practices. A viable and environmentally responsible forestry sector will provide a launching board for the growth of diversified businesses in northwestern Ontario and other forestry regions.
In the estimates there are many things involved, as I have talked about, relating to forestry and mining. It is so obvious to those of us who have been around this House for awhile, the opposition, where I was before this Parliament, that it is very easy to stand up and pick one or two issues to criticize the government on. I hope the members opposite get the opportunity to be on the government side, as some of them have. It would be of benefit to not hold their breath, but if in fact it were their wish to get the opportunity to create policy they would look at initiatives like this in a very favourable light as I have.
Coming from a region that is one-fifth of Ontario, almost the size of the Atlantic provinces put together, that fits in my riding, people have to understand that there is tremendous potential for economic growth given the right kind of policies. These are the policies that I am trying to relate tonight.
I want to conclude by saying that there are many decisions reflected in the budget estimates which hold promise for me and a renewed and vibrant future within the small business community which I talked about extensively in my speech.
Although I have expressed concerns for northern infrastructure and certain resource sectors, I want to stress again, as I have said to my colleagues opposite, that I am confident that if this government does not do what the previous government did, and that is lose its way and forget why we are here and why the people put us here, we will put the kind of policies in place that even the members opposite will cheer.
I know the member for Beaver River will stand up and cheer with me as she has done on numerous occasion when we were in opposition and did get our way on occasion.