Mr. Speaker, I am honoured today to speak on full supply for the 1994-95 main estimates.
Many of us are participating in the consideration of the main estimates which are prepared in support of the government's appropriation bill for the first time. I would like to take this opportunity to summarize for members the significant features of the 1994-95 main estimates and to describe the relationship between these estimates and the government's expenditure plan which was presented in the February 1994 budget.
The 1994-95 main estimates set out details of $160.7 billion of planned government spending. This represents a decrease of 0.2 per cent over the 1993-94 main estimates. It is important to note that almost 70 per cent of the $160.7 billion has been authorized by Parliament through substantive legislation. These statutory expenditures in the amount of $112.2 billion include the following: major federal government social transfers to Canadians, including old age security, guaranteed income supplements, spouse's allowance and unemployment insurance benefits, transfers to provinces under the fiscal equalization program, transfers to the provinces for health, post-secondary education and social assistance and public debt charges.
Therefore through these estimates the government is seeking Parliament's approval to spend $48.6 billion for those programs which rely on annual appropriations. Planned expenditures for these voted programs represent a decrease of $330 million or 0.7 per cent from 1993-94.
What is the relationship between these main estimates in the amount of $160.7 billion and the total budgetary expenditure forecast in the amount of $163.6 billion projected in the February 1994 budget? Allow me first to identify those items which
are included, followed by a description of items we were unable to include for various reasons.
As the member for Dauphin-Swan River, I am pleased to note that the 1994-95 main estimates incorporate a number of significant expenditures reductions set out in the February 1994 budget which amount to $1.2 billion. These savings are comprised of reductions in areas such as operating budgets, $400 million; ministerial offices, $13 million; defence, $350 million; cancellation of the EH-101 helicopter program, $395 million; and international assistance, $91 million.
These reductions clearly demonstrate the government's ability to follow through on its plans and policies to restore fiscal responsibility. We are keeping our word.
Items not included which total $2.9 billion essentially fall into three categories: adjustments, reserves and allowances for lapses. With reference to adjustments, some elements of the planned spending could not be incorporated in the main estimates because of the timing of the budget decisions or because they depend on the passage of separate legislation.
However, let me reaffirm the government's intention to deliver on the fundamental policy reforms and expenditure reduction measures involved. Major items in this category, all of which are decreases, announced in the February 1994 budget and not reflected in the 1994-95 main estimates include: changes to the unemployment insurance program, $725 million; reductions in subsidies to businesses, $117 million; reductions in non-statutory grants and contributions, $45 million; suspension of annual salary increments for public service employees, $50 million; and a reduction in the House of Commons budget, $5 million. The total savings anticipated from these adjustments in 1994 are $942 million.
The second item which was provided for in the expenditure plan of the Minister of Finance but not included in the main estimates is reserves. Reserves are excluded from the main estimates because they are used to meet spending requirements which cannot be detailed but are likely to arise during the year and appear as supplementary estimates.
Supplementary estimates A, which were tabled in the House of Commons on May 27, 1994, are an example of the use of reserves, in this case to allow the government to deliver the Atlantic groundfish strategy. Reserves in the 1994-95 estimates amount to $4.7 billion.
The third and final item which was included in the total budgetary expenditure forecast presented by the Minister of Finance but not included in these estimates is the provision for an anticipated lapse of $875 million in spending authority; that is, spending authority that will not be exercised by departments and agencies.
Lapses can occur due to many factors which are difficult to predict, ranging from contractual delays with outside parties to weather induced delays on construction projects.
Thus far in discussing these main estimates I have focused entirely on the significant features of the government's planned spending and direct budgetary action to reduce expenditures. In addition, I would draw members' attention to the fact that main estimates documents also contain information on numerous initiatives which the government has under way to improve service delivery to Canadians and to make government more efficient. Highlights of these initiatives are provided in part I, chapter 5 of the main estimates.
Improving service delivery to Canadians can be accomplished without increasing expenditures through greater co-operation with other levels of government, redesigning service delivery mechanisms and establishing a regulatory regime that encourages competitiveness and economic growth.
For example, the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and Minister responsible for Public Service Renewal is co-ordinating and steering a process to examine overlap and duplication and to clarify federal-provincial roles and responsibilities through co-operative intergovernmental arrangements.
The federal government has invited the provinces to examine such areas as securities regulations, environmental assessment regulations, food inspection, access to government business programs and services, student aid administration, drug prosecutions, social housing and labour market programs.
Another initiative designed to improve service delivery to Canadians is the establishment of Canada business service centres. CBSCs provide a comprehensive access point for information, assistance and referrals on all government programs and service to businesses. CBSCs are also intended to improve co-ordination and co-operation among federal departments and agencies that offer programs and services that interest or effect the business community. Aside from start-up funding to offset technology investments, CBSCs are being established without new operating resources.
In conclusion, as the member for Dauphin-Swan River, I would note that the 1994-95 main estimates reflect the government's resolve to implement measures which it believes are necessary to restore fiscal responsibility while remaining responsive and innovative to ensure quality and efficiency in public services.