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House of Commons Hansard #161 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

Referendum DebateStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

The Speaker

Dear colleagues, when making such statements or expressing such views, we must refrain from attacking individual members of this House. I would ask each of you not to use the names of the members of Parliament, just the names of their riding.

Old Age SecurityStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral Bloc Laval Centre, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the Chrétien government announced in its budget that it intends to cut pensions-

Old Age SecurityStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

The Speaker

Dear colleague, please do not use the name of the hon. member.

Old Age SecurityStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral Bloc Laval Centre, QC

Yesterday, the Liberal government announced in its budget that it intends to cut old age pensions as early as 1997. The budget tabled yesterday is proof positive that the biggest threat to old age pensions and social programs comes from the federal government, not the Quebec government.

Judging by the government's actions, this direct attack on the elderly, the unemployed and welfare recipients is only just beginning. The chairman of the no side, Michel Bélanger, who has been trying to scare people by saying that the nasty separatists want to cut old age pensions, must truly be disheartened.

We are anxious to hear his perceptive analysis of the federal budget.

Indian AffairsStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Reform

John Duncan Reform North Island—Powell River, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Auditor General recently stated some program spending of the department of Indian affairs fails to meet strategy objectives, exhibits management inadequacies, lacks appropriate performance and evaluation information and thus impedes accountability.

In addition, the department has not published an annual report since 1992. This deprives us of an opportunity to properly scrutinize efficiency of program delivery.

The federal budget calls for spending reductions in all federal departments except for Indian affairs. The government is asking Canadians to share in deficit reduction yet is increasing spending by 12 per cent over three years for Indian affairs. Much of Indian affairs' program spending is outside of constitutional, legal or policy commitments.

Given these concerns, the budgeted increase in Indian affairs funding is unacceptable and unfair.

The BudgetStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Harold Culbert Liberal Carleton—Charlotte, NB

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance tabled the government's budget yesterday. This budget, along with the one tabled in 1994, established the challenge and goal of the government: to bring the deficit and debt under control.

Canadians have requested and supported a combination of cuts in government spending and the continuation of our agenda of jobs and growth: growth that has led the G-7 countries over the past year and growth that will continue as a result of this strong budget.

The measures taken in the budget ensure we will reach our deficit target of 3 per cent of gross domestic product that was outlined last year.

The minister has produced a fair and equitable budget to provide social programs for Canadians' needs and the spending reductions they require.

Congratulations to the Minister of Finance for his dedication to controlling the deficit and debt and building the confidence of all Canadians.

AgricultureStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Cowling Liberal Dauphin—Swan River, MB

Mr. Speaker, this has been a tough budget but it had to be done. And true to our commitment it has been done fairly.

The best time to make cuts is during periods of growth. In the agricultural sector, prices are increasing, export markets are expanding and producers are in an excellent position to adapt to change.

The buyout of the Western Grain Transportation Act, the WGTA, with tax benefits, will put $2.2 billion in the hands of prairie farmers this year. We will ensure those dollars are paid out in a fair and equitable way.

I am confident that the men and women of Canadian agriculture will continue their proven track record of adapting to the constant changes of their industry to ensure that Canada remains a world leader in agricultural production.

The BudgetStatements By Members

February 28th, 1995 / 2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Martin Cauchon Liberal Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate the Minister of Finance for the excellent budget he tabled yesterday. It seems that the money markets were pleased with the resolve the minister showed in his fight against the deficit and their reaction was quick.

Indeed, the Bank of Montreal, the Laurentian Bank and the mouvement des caisses populaires Desjardins have already announced a reduction in their prime rate. In light of this initial reaction we can expect a drop in mortgage rates in the short term, which will contribute to a much needed recovery in the construction industry.

Such good news should reassure Canadian consumers and sustain our present economic growth. Congratulations to our Minister of Finance and to our government for sticking to their commitments.

The BudgetStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Roger Pomerleau Bloc Anjou—Rivière-Des-Prairies, QC

Mr. Speaker, Quebecers now know what to expect from Ottawa in this referendum year.

Far from proposing a decentralisation of powers, yesterday's budget shows that Ottawa still refuses to retreat from areas of provincial jurisdiction. In fact, Ottawa seems determined to step up its interventions, particularly in the area of job training.

The only thing the federal government has transferred to the provinces is the deficit. With yesterday's budget the federal government has tried to shift the burden of the deficit to the provinces: $2.5 billion next year, $4.5 billion the year after.

The federal government wants to delay until after the Quebec referendum the bulk of the cuts in transfers to the provinces and in federal services to the public. That would be the real cost of a "no" in the referendum, the real cost of the status quo.

AgricultureStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Reform

Leon Benoit Reform Vegreville, AB

Mr. Speaker, Reformers have always recognized the need to cut government spending and the need to empower people to take care of themselves when they are able to do so. Reformers also believe that before cuts are made, barriers should be decreased and flexibility increased so that people are able to do well in a freer market setting. Farmers share this vision.

Yesterday Department of Agriculture spending was cut substantially. Farmers and industry leaders say these cuts will be difficult but recognize they are necessary.

I am concerned however that in moving toward a more market driven system, the government has not removed regulatory barriers and has not allowed for increased efficiencies. Without these changes farmers and industry will be crippled instead of strengthened by these funding cuts.

In order for farmers to adapt to new fiscal realities they need stability, predictability and certainty. Farmers need the freedom to recoup some of the losses incurred by this budget. The government has failed to deliver.

Riding Of Brome-MissisquoiStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Denis Paradis Liberal Brome—Missisquoi, QC

Mr. Speaker, this is the first time I rise in this House and I want to take this opportunity to thank the people of Brome-Missisquoi for placing their confidence in me in the February 13 byelection.

I want to reiterate my commitment to make every effort possible to deliver the high level of service my contituents expect.

I am proud to join the forces of the Liberal Party of Canada in the House of Commons. I have asked the constituents of my riding to have confidence in the government. After less than a week on Parliament Hill I see the government will not let the Canadian population down.

The delicate financial situation of the country urgently needed to be addressed. A courageous and fair budget has been tabled. The country is now on the right track.

Senior citizens are protected, the tax burden of low and middle income families has not increased and the government will be streamlined and better managed. I undertake to be actively involved in the job creation and economic renewal process in the riding of Brome-Missisquoi and I want to thank my colleagues in the Liberal caucus who have already assured me of their support in the pursuit of these goals.

The BudgetOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Lac-Saint-Jean Québec

Bloc

Lucien Bouchard BlocLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, in its prebudget marketing blitz, the government announced that it would table a budget for a new Canada. The Minister of Foreign Affairs even went as far as to say, with a reformist zeal very uncharacteristic of him, that the status quo would no longer be an issue after the budget. However, what the promised decentralization really boils down to is Ottawa continuing to withdraw its funding for health, post-secondary education and welfare.

My question is for the Prime Minister. Where is this new Canada that was announced with great fanfare when all the government did yesterday was to offload $7 billion or so more onto the provinces?

The BudgetOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, in the budget tabled yesterday, we decided to give provinces much more flexibility in the administration of their programs and we are trying to improve the situation for everybody. It will be easier for provinces to establish their programs themselves, provided they respect the aspirations of all Canadians, that is that there be minimum programs for all Canadians so that the dignity of persons will be respected across Canada. I think this budget reflects the willingness and capacity of this government to propose changes.

The BudgetOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Lac-Saint-Jean Québec

Bloc

Lucien Bouchard BlocLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, how can the Prime Minister have the audacity to claim that while depriving provinces of $7 billion he gives them more flexibility and more capacity to innovate in social programs, when provinces already have an extremely difficult time dealing with their growing expenses in the areas of health, social assistance and education?

The BudgetOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, provinces had been asking us for a very long time to remove certain conditions which applied to the administration of social assistance programs, and that is what we are now proposing.

As for health care services and the five conditions set in the federal Health Act, everybody in Canada agrees that they should be maintained because they are the very essence of our society and they give people access to the same health care system, regardless of one's financial circumstances.

In any case, we had to be fair in our budget. We could not cut federal government's operating expenditures systematically and not cut transfer payments to provinces. It is only a matter of treating all government programs fairly.

The BudgetOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Lac-Saint-Jean Québec

Bloc

Lucien Bouchard BlocLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister said he tried to be fair in his budget. I wonder if he was thinking of Quebec when he said that, because criteria in documents of the Department of Human Resources Development already indicate that Quebec will bear the brunt of transfer payments reductions, with 41,7 per cent. Is that fair? Quebec is being taken to the cleaners.

The BudgetOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Yes, 41 per cent. Some fairness. Talk about fairness.

The BudgetOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Bloc

Lucien Bouchard Bloc Lac-Saint-Jean, QC

How can the government display that kind of arrogance, given the duplicity of its present attitude, on the one hand, proclaiming its determination to maintain the principles of universality and accessibility, and on the other, drastically cutting its contribution to programs?

The BudgetOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, program spending is being reduced at all government levels. Last December, if I am not mistaken, members of the present Quebec government, the opposition leader's friends, cut $600 million from health programs. We are doing the same, because cuts are necessary and all levels of government must benefit from those cuts.

The BudgetOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, in his budget, the finance minister announced that all transfer payments to provinces would be rolled into a single comprehensive transfer called the Canada social transfer. He set at $7 billion the amount of additional cuts in transfer payments in the next three years, but he did not specify how those payments would be distributed in 1997 and subsequent years.

How can the finance minister decide on such drastic cuts in transfers and casually postpone discussions with provinces?

The BudgetOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, it is not a question of putting off the discussions. We are willing to initiate them tomorrow if the provinces are ready. This is quite clear. In fact, we said so during our meeting with the finance ministers. I invited the provincial finance ministers to join me immediately after the budget speech, and I am ready to meet them anytime they want. There is no question of postponing the discussions.

The BudgetOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, by postponing, as the minister says in the budget, the negotiations with the provinces on the distribution of transfer payments, is the Minister of Finance trying to conceal from Quebecers before the referendum the negative impact of the new Canada social transfer because it is Quebec which will lose the most, 41 percent of the transfer payment cuts in 1997?

The BudgetOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, to begin with, the figures mentioned by the member are totally false.

Second, if you want to know, the cuts in Quebec, in 1994-95 and 1996-97, will amount to $350 million. These are not ridiculous figures like the ones mentioned by the member.

As for the discussions and the fact that he believes we will postpone them until after the referendum, we said in the last budget that we would inform them instead of surprising them like the former government did.

Is the member suggesting that we should proceed immediately? I believe Mr. Campeau will not be very satisfied with that.

Third, tell us when the referendum will be held, let us hold it and then we will be able to solve our problems.

The BudgetOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Reform

Preston Manning Reform Calgary Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, in yesterday's budget the Minister of Finance pledged to get the federal deficit down to $24.3 billion by 1997.

Meanwhile officials of the Department of Finance have been predicting to reporters and the financial markets that the deficit will then be reduced to zero by the year 2000.

However, yesterday's budget was silent on the all important question of how the minister proposes to get from a deficit of $24 billion to zero in three years.

Will the minister tell Canadians and tell the House today how he plans to get the deficit from $24 billion a year to zero: by increased taxes, by cuts to social programs or by both?

The BudgetOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I have said countless times in this House that in terms of government by far the best way of hitting targets is through a series of short term targets that keep government's feet to the fire.

That is by far the best kind of spending control that any government can have. It is the reason that we hit our target this year. It is the reason that we are going to hit our target next year and it is the reason that we are going to hit our target the year after.

I will tell members what this government does not want to do, and that is bring in a budget like the Reform Party did based on phoney assumptions and false input which does not attain its objectives.