House of Commons Hansard #208 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was grandparents.


Grand Parents' Day ActPrivate Members' Business

5:40 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

If I understood the hon. member correctly, he has asked for unanimous consent that the order be discharged and that the subject matter be referred to the Standing Committee on Health. Is there unanimous consent among the members present for this to happen?

Grand Parents' Day ActPrivate Members' Business

5:40 p.m.

Some hon. members


Grand Parents' Day ActPrivate Members' Business

5:40 p.m.

An hon. member


Grand Parents' Day ActPrivate Members' Business

5:40 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

There was an indication that one of the members does not give unanimous consent to that happening.

Grand Parents' Day ActPrivate Members' Business

5:40 p.m.


Paul Crête Bloc Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, I wish to commend the hon. member for Don Valley North for his bill. Indeed, who could be against a bill aimed at honouring the contribution grandparents make to society by designating the second Sunday in September of each year as "National Grandparent's Day"?

Such bills always put us in the same dilemma. On the one hand, there is the honourable intention of designating a grandparent's day but, on the other hand, we wonder if the government will go beyound good intentions and pay close attention on a daily basis to these seniors who helped build our society.

The old age pension plan is a case in point. As you may recall, there have been previous government attempts to reduce seniors' benefits, and a reform of old age pensions is planned for this fall. In every golden age club, people like the directors in my riding who have already retired or will do so in a few years have a lot of questions about their future financial security.

While it is nice of the hon. member to ask that the second Sunday in September be designated "Grandparents' Day", we should be checking with his government to see if the member's wishes will be acted on and whether these seniors will be guaranteed fair and equitable treatment.

This bill also gives us an opportunity to look at the way seniors are treated sometimes. Take for example the voice box issue. Do we really show seniors respect when they need information about a pension cheque that is late in coming or a in different amount than usual, or any other matter, and we cannot provide it to them? Having dealt myself with the voice box at the Department of Human Resources Development, I can tell you that there is cause for frustration, and serious frustration.

I think that we would show much greater respect for seniors and grandparents by remedying this kind of situation effectively than by simply dedicating one day out of the year to them. We would be showing that we care year-round.

The other example I would like to give you is that of repeated computer errors in recent months. I have received dozens of calls at my office about computer errors, and the problem was from coast to coast. Pensioners were no longer receiving the income supplement they were entitled to. They were not always provided with adequate information in this matter. Again, this is a case where the really respectful thing to do would have been to treat them fairly and with compassion.

At any rate, this bill on grandparents' day is very commendable. We can all dig out an anecdote from our pasts. My paternal grandfather has always been a model of honesty to me. He was a man who wanted the matters he discussed with others to be clear and to get settled. That is something that he taught me and that is now part of my background. Each and every one of us in this House could tell a similar story.

The same is true of my maternal grandmother. I could tell you about her strength of purpose and about how she inspired me through my studies. We have to realize that we are definitely influenced by such role models, and grandparents do make an important contribution to their grandchildren's education. As we get older, we realize the full significance of that contribution, particularly when we know what grandparents have gone through and what a source of wisdom they can be.

Who knows? Having a grandparents' day might trigger a debate on how to better benefit from their experience. I remember my grandfather telling me about voting on conscription during the Second World War, and about the political context of the fifties. The past is a treasure trove of information to help us make decisions, now and in the future.

We often notice that young people lack a sound knowledge of our history. One way to remedy that might be to rely more on the experience of grandparents, who can bring us a lot, in a concrete way, in our daily lives, rather than in terms of our formal history. When we think about the grandparents' contribution, it should not only be in terms of their role with grandchildren, but also with the parents who are sandwiched between the two generations.

In the daily grind of raising children, it is sometimes useful to take time out to turn to grandparents, who have often raised much larger families than those of today and have been through all sorts of situations that have equipped them to give us useful advice.

It seems to me that this bill is a good idea. It is recognition that is only reasonable and which our grandparents deserve. But this recognition should be given in the same spirit year round, it should be reflected in government services for seniors, in our

concern for their basic financial security, so that we are sure that the way they are treated on Grandparents' Day is the way they are treated every day.

I will conclude by saying that in addition to the idyllic images of grandparents that we often see on television, the traditional families, but there are also much more difficult situations. Grandparents are often excluded from family life and live alone in cramped quarters, and I think the setting aside of a national grandparents' day, as with everything to do with the family, would be an opportunity to recognize that there is no one model of a family, any more than there is no one type of grandparent. These seniors have contributed in a variety of ways to the growth of our society.

I hope that by recognizing grandparents' day we will make it possible for values to be transmitted from one generation to another, that we will realize what the past has given us and what we must still seek in order to attain our vision of the future, and it is for these reasons that the members of the Bloc Quebecois support this bill.

Grand Parents' Day ActPrivate Members' Business

5:45 p.m.


Julian Reed Liberal Halton—Peel, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to second the bill on grandparents day, declaring the second Sunday in September every year national grandparents day.

Earlier this month I introduced a bill which would declare 1995 the year of the grandparent. I believe this is the third time this year grandparents have been recognized by various parties in the House. During the last debate, on May 2 of this year, there was a unanimous endorsement of that private member's bill.

It was rather disappointing that the committee assessing the bill considered it non-votable. Whether the arguments I put to the committee were not convincing enough, I am not sure. Perhaps I should bear some responsibility for that. Nevertheless, the feelings in the House crossed all party lines, a rare occurrence. I wonder whether in this, the third instance of recognition of grandparents this year, the hackneyed phrase family values has again risen to the fore in our society.

In the debate on May 2 there some statements registered very strongly with me. One was that grandparents are a pillar of our existence. I had the privilege of having one grandparent whose strength and values were imparted to me as strongly as those of my parents. He was a pillar of my existence.

I have underlined showing the way by example. Grandparents do their very best in leading by way of example. They impart those examples to their grandchildren. The word wisdom caught my attention. Grandparents are most often much wiser than parents because of the accumulation of experience and the way they can interpret life for their grandchildren.

Another word which came up was tolerance. As we grow older we tend to be either more tolerant or less tolerant. I have found the grandparents of our children and my own grandfather had tolerance. They set the standard for tolerance.

They provide strength and enrich the family. When things go wrong, as they often do in family life, grandparents are often a source of strength and security. Children need to feel secure on a continuing basis. It cannot be a start and stop affair or catch as catch can. Very often grandparents can fill the role of providing security. That leads me to one of the great concerns all of us in the House share. With the divorce rate and the break-up of families very often grandparents at the present time find themselves without access to their grandchildren.

I will be doing everything I can to make sure that state is changed so grandparents in future will be able to have proper access to grandchildren especially at the time in their lives when they need them so badly.

Other words I found are grace and dignity. I have talked about family strength. The grandfather I had a great experience with lived by a very strict code. He imposed a code of conduct on himself, for which he was admired by so many in the small community where we lived.

He did not always preach about it. He did not always try to impose it, although sometimes he looked with wonderment at the way the world seemed to change. We all agree the more things change, the more they remain the same.

As I get older I find myself more appreciative of that code my grandfather imparted to me. I hope some of that has by example been shared with our children who did not know that great-grandfather.

They also knew grandparents; they grew up with more grandparents than I had. Those grandparents were wonderful people in the way they helped our family, the graciousness with which they accepted responsibility we often imposed on them when they took care of our children, when we needed them.

Grandparents have a much stronger role to play in family life than society has acknowledged to this point. The year 1995, with the recognition and debate we have put forward in the House, should set the stage for the years to come as recognizing the importance of the family and the role grandparents have in it.

Grand Parents' Day ActPrivate Members' Business

5:55 p.m.


Dick Harris Reform Prince George—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak on Bill C-274, proposing to make the second Sunday of September every year national grandparents day.

When I arrived at the House I had some good feelings about this bill and I was in a good mood. Then I watched as the member for Don Valley North sought unanimous approval to have his bill made votable. I understand the member for Don Valley North first sought in committee to have his bill made votable and was denied. I just wonder what kind of heartless minds exist in the Liberal Party opposite. The member for Don Valley North simply sought to have his bill recognized by a vote in the House, hoping for a majority vote for a bill which would stir the emotions of Canadians and was denied.

I proudly support this bill. It was put forward by a member of the Liberal Party and I am very pleased to support because it does not cost the Canadian taxpayer one red cent. It is very unusual for a bill to come forward from the Liberal Party that is not going to cost the taxpayer some money. I congratulate the member for Don Valley North for putting it forward because it is something we have not been used to in the House.

In the past a number of bills have been forced through the House by the Liberal Party. Bills C-33 and C-34 will cost the taxpayers millions upon millions of dollars. They were rammed through the House using closure. The government tried to put Bill C-22 through the House. It would take away the freedom of private citizens to challenge the government in a court case.

We saw the Liberal government try to put through a budget in the House last February that is going to increase our national debt by $100 billion over a three-year term and add about $10 billion or $12 billion to our annual interest payments. The government is trying to put through Bill C-68 which will cost the Canadian taxpayers perhaps $500 million.

It is a great day in the House of Commons, a great day for the Liberal Party and a great day for Canada to have a member of the Liberal Party try to put through a bill in the House that is not going to cost the taxpayers one red cent. I congratulate the member for Don Valley North for this bill.

That is a celebration in itself, but I have another reason for speaking to this bill. As a member of Parliament I get a special perk today. I can stand up in the House of Commons of Canada and on national television I can announce that yesterday I was informed that I am going to be a grandfather before this year is over. Therefore this is absolutely appropriate. This proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that you do not have to be old to be a grandfather.

I am proud of my daughter, Lisa, in Vancouver. She will be a mother some time later this year and she will make me a grandfather. I am going to be able to realize some of the personal satisfaction that you get from being a grandfather, particularly when I get to babysit and the kids get cranky, I will know the parents are coming home sooner or later that night.

In a more serious vein, it is very important to recognize a day like grandparents day because it not only recognizes the important role that grandparents play in the lives of families, but it also recognizes the tremendous contribution that our ancestors have played in the building of the country.

I am a firm believer that it is the family unit; the mother, the father, the children, the grandparents, the aunts and the uncles who built this country as strong as it is now. I also believe above all else that this Parliament has a responsibility to ensure that the family unit is not broken down any more than it is already. Parliament has a responsibility to try and rebuild the family unit as it was prior to the 1960s.

The taxation levels since the mid-sixties have risen to a point where it is almost a demand that the mother of a family go out to work in order for the household to have enough disposable income to support the family. That is a tragedy and is one of the things that has broken down the family unit.

Grandparents can and do play an important role when the two spouses in a household are working. It is an absolutely critical time in the lives of children who become, through no wish of their own, latchkey kids. The parents of these kids, because of their jobs, are too busy to spend time with them. This makes the grandparents' role even more important.

I want Parliament to recognize that grandparents are part of the formula for making a family unit strong. For that reason alone, just that one reason, we should support this bill.

Another thing about grandparents that I find very important is they tend to pass down family values and history from one generation to another. Grandparents who spend a lot of time with their grandchildren generally have more time to talk to the kids about how their parents are working so hard to try to provide a home for them, to try to provide an education for them, something the parents often do not have time to do. This is a very important role for grandparents and they should be recognized for that as well.

A huge number of grandparents have also played an important part in the protection of democracy. They fought in the wars. They fought against fascism and communism in order to preserve the democracy we hold in such high value. They should be recognized for this as well.

I can speak from experience because I was a child in a one parent home. My mother worked every day while we were being brought up. Many times the only people I had to turn to for help with problems were my grandparents. I am eternally grateful for

the role they played in my life and the values they tried to instil in me that became beneficial when I grew up and started a career.

Grandparents day would provide an excellent opportunity for all Canadians to recognize the very important role grandparents play in a family.

I move that the House respond in a fashion that would come from the heart and not from instructions received from a committee and that unanimous consent could be given today that Bill C-274 become a votable motion.

Grand Parents' Day ActPrivate Members' Business

6:05 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Hon. members, is there unanimous consent for transforming the motion on Bill C-274 to make it a votable motion?

Grand Parents' Day ActPrivate Members' Business

6:05 p.m.

Some hon. members


Grand Parents' Day ActPrivate Members' Business

6:05 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Resuming debate. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister.

Grand Parents' Day ActPrivate Members' Business

May 31st, 1995 / 6:10 p.m.

Etobicoke—Lakeshore Ontario


Jean Augustine LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to address the House on the private member's motion to establish a special day in recognition of grandparents for their enormous contribution to families and society. Liberals recognize this.

There is a process whereby private members' business gets to the House. The procedure was followed by an all party committee with the member across the way being a member of that committee. Tonight I will address the private member's motion on the recognition of grandparents.

Creating a special day for grandparents will afford Canadians the opportunity to further demonstrate their continuing commitment to the family. As Liberals we believe this. It is not dollars and cents. It is a philosophy Liberals believe in and share with members across the way.

I fondly remember my own grandmother. She was a wise woman, though uneducated in a schooling sense. She affirmed me with words like: "Child, you can do it". It is women like my grandmother that most of us in this room do remember. Maybe most of us are here as a result of the affirmation we received from our grandparents.

In December 1991, Canada ratified the convention on the rights of the child, a landmark in Canadian social history. Countries agreed that children should grow up in an atmosphere of happiness, love and understanding with the protection and assistance required for the full development of their personalities to better prepare them to become responsible adults. One of the central truths of the convention is based on the conviction that the family is a fundamental group of society and the natural environment for the growth and well-being of all of its members, particularly children.

The role of a grandparent is vital to the child. Grandparents can be companions, becoming friends more than parents. The relationship can be a major source of satisfaction to both the grandparent and the grandchild. Other members have referred to the fact that in today's society with marriage breakdown and single parenting, some grandparents take on the role of surrogate parents.

According to a study conducted by the British Columbia council for the family, grandparenting provides the older adult with a feeling of self-worth, a source of love, respect and support. Being a grandparent is a potential source of giving and receiving affection.

Grandparenting is also a means of establishing a link between past and future generations. Continuity, together with unconditional love, forms the cornerstone in the development of a child's self esteem and sense of trust. Among the riches that are passed down are language, culture and the wisdom that comes from experience.

A recent television show characterized the role of grandparents as one of providing both the roots and the wings of a whole generation of people. This is an apt definition of grandparenting.

Seniors, the majority of whom are grandparents, are a vital part not only of their own families, but also of all aspects of community life. They are active members of their communities. Some continue to do paid work, as does the member across the way. Some are members of churches, seniors organizations and clubs. Fitness and sports groups and cultural organizations such as art galleries, drama and musical groups all have the talent of our seniors. Seniors are involved in social action. They are teachers. They are board members. They are volunteers and they are politicians.

As we consider a grandparents day we should also contemplate our collective Canadian family in which seniors play a critical role. The uniqueness that grandparents bring to the family is in my opinion and that of many others worthy of being celebrated with a national grandparents day in Canada.

Grandparents and seniors in general deserve a day to commemorate their extensive and important contributions. This is why I support the private member's motion that is before us.

Grand Parents' Day ActPrivate Members' Business

6:15 p.m.


Osvaldo Nunez Bloc Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, I welcome this opportunity to take part in the debate on Bill C-274, an Act respecting a national grandparent's day, introduced on September 27 by the hon. member for Don Valley North.

I want to commend the hon. member on his praiseworthy suggestion that throughout Canada, and each year, the second Sunday in September shall be known as grandparent's day. He can count on my full support and that of the Bloc Quebecois. I have a special interest in this proposal, being myself a grandfather and representing the riding of Bourassa in Montreal North, where 15 per cent of the population is in the 65 and over age group.

In 1994, the AQDR of Montreal North was founded as a branch of the Association québécoise pour la défense des droits des personnes retraitées et pré-retraitées, whose basic objective is to improve the living conditions of this group: income, taxes, health, accommodations, transportation, social policies and so forth. The organization already has more than 300 members.

I would like to express in the House my profound gratitude and best wishes to the members of the executive elected at the annual meeting held on May 29, the day before yesterday: Jean-Claude Potvin, president; Roger Lagacé, vice-president; Pierrette Vallières, secretary; Martine Leduc, treasurer; and advisers Umberto di Genova, Audette Thibault, Régine Daigle, Guy Baril, Claude Ouimet, Pierre Grondin and Joseph Zara. Like many other seniors, these people do a lot of volunteer work and are known for their dedication and generosity.

Bill C-274 is justified in every respect. This day should have been established long ago. Fortunately, a number of provinces and municipalities as well as many organizations and seniors' homes already unofficially celebrate a day known as grandparent's day. I think the time has come to officially recognize the second Sunday in September of each year as the day on which we pay tribute to our seniors and especially to grandparents.

In 1978, U.S. President Jimmy Carter decided that the first Sunday after Labour Day would be set aside to pay tribute to grandparents. A dynamic and remarkable grandmother from West Virginia, Marion McQuade, had fought for years to have a special day set aside for senior citizens in the United States. I hope that Canada will be inspired by this example and act accordingly.

The government, in particular the Minister of Canadian Heritage, must take the lead on this issue. Grandparents are extremely important for their grandchildren, especially until they reach adolescence.

Seniors are becoming a proportionately larger sector of our population. We estimate that their numbers will increase by 40 per cent in the next 15 years. Therefore, the government must take real steps to recognize the important contribution they make to society. Unfortunately, despite its many promises, the Liberal government has done nothing to improve the situation of seniors.

On the contrary, they cut their tax credits, and, knowing this government's philosophy and vision, it is quite likely that they will take even more away from them, in particular in the area of old age security benefits.

Furthermore, I would ask the government to stop reducing grants for organizations which finance seniors, in particular programs like New Horizons.

I have had the great joy of being a grandfather for two years now. In fact, the wife of my oldest son gave birth to little Olivia in 1993 when the election campaign was in full swing. My whole family, including the child, was a great help to me during that period. I regret that my work as a parliamentarian does not leave me much time to play with and take care of my granddaughter Olivia.

According to recent statistics, 90 per cent of all children have at least one living grandparent. Unfortunately for me, my grandparents all passed away before I was born. I even lost my mother and father when I was 11 and 13 years old respectively. Admittedly, one half a century ago in Chili, a developing country, life expectancy was not very high.

The fact that I never knew my grandparents did not prevent me from understanding and valuing their importance for families and society, be it for children, adolescents or adults. They convey stability, link the generations and transmit certain fundamental values which must be preserved. And today, with so many break-ups in couples, their role has become even more important. In certain instances, they are the ones who raise their grandchildren and care for them.

Three Canadians out of four 65 years of age or older are grandparents. Naturally, you do not have to be 65 to be a grandparent. Some grandparents today are even in their forties or fifties.

I am proud to point out that Quebec has officially recognized the role of grandparents in article 611 of the Civil Code, which reads as follows: "In no case may the father or mother, without a grave reason, interfere with personal relations between the child and his grandparents".

This provision, therefore, accords grandparents the right to visit and take their grandchildren out. Unless there is an agreement between the parties, the terms of these relations are decided by the court. In all cases, the judge will consider the welfare of the children first and will consult them as need be.

Grandparents are very concerned about the happiness and well-being of the children and do everything within their power to improve their world.

For all these reasons, I enthusiastically support Bill C-274.

Grand Parents' Day ActPrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.


Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I realize that private members' hour is coming to an end, but I want to take the opportunity to thank the member for Don Valley North for raising his private member's initiative.

Private members' bills very rarely get selected to be votable in the House and very rarely get passed. That does not mean they are not important. They are extremely important. I assure all members of the House and all the people of Don Valley North that their member has worked extremely hard lobbying all members of the House to support this important initiative.

I do not know anybody who does not like grandparents. Everyone has stories. One of my grandfathers was a butcher and the other was a carpenter. From one I learned how to do carpentry work in my home along with other related home improvements and from the other I learned about foods and about eating. He had a grocery store as well. It was wonderful to go there to see him work. He loved his grandchildren so much. They are both gone now.

The grandmothers, the matriarchs of all families, took care of us and loved us as if they were our mothers. They took very good care of us when we were young and learning. They were always there when our parents had problems. They were always there to provide the support and the love we all need. Obviously grandparents play a very special role in our lives.

I want the hon. member for Don Valley North to have a couple of minutes for his final rebuttal, but I simply reiterate that he has worked hard to bring recognition to an important aspect of our lives, our grandparents. I congratulate him and all members of the House who have taken the time to thank the member for raising it and to make special mention of their grandparents.

Grand Parents' Day ActPrivate Members' Business

6:25 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The mover of the motion will speak last and will have the right to close the debate.

Grand Parents' Day ActPrivate Members' Business

6:25 p.m.


Sarkis Assadourian Liberal Don Valley North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank all members who spoke in favour of the motion. I notice that nobody spoke against it.

However I would like to set the record straight. The hon. member for the Reform Party said that Liberal members did not support the motion. The subcommittee on Private Members' Business did not recognize the motion as being votable. Once the subcommittee says no it is highly unlikely members of the House will say yes because we respect the independence of the subcommittee. On that subcommittee there are members of the Reform Party, of the Bloc Quebecois and of the Liberal Party.

Once again I thank all members who supported the motion. As the expression goes, he who runs away may live to fight another day. We will come back to the issue at some other time. We will ensure we pass the motion with the support of all parties before this Parliament is dissolved in 1997 or 1998. We will ensure that the grandparents of the country have a day to celebrate.

Grand Parents' Day ActPrivate Members' Business

6:25 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The time provided for the consideration of Private Members' Business has now expired.

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

Grand Parents' Day ActAdjournment Proceedings

6:25 p.m.


Svend Robinson NDP Burnaby—Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, in the middle of March I asked a question of the Minister of Health concerning the betrayal of budgetary promises for federal funding for the community action program for children, or CAPC, a program for vulnerable and at risk children. At the time I urged the minister to reconsider the drastic cuts in funding for the program and pointed out to her that in effect she and her government were cutting the deficit on the backs of the poorest and most vulnerable children.

In response the Minister of Health stated that the budget did not dramatically cut CAPC. She said that it reduced the actual growth of the program.

I have a memo written by the regional director for health promotion and social development in the British Columbia region who confirmed that in fiscal year 1996-97 there will be an approximate 30 per cent reduction to the original allocation and the following fiscal year, 1997-98, will see an approximate 50 per cent reduction to the original allocation. If that is not a dramatic cut in funding for programs for poor, at risk, and vulnerable children, I do not know what is. It is a shameful betrayal of the promises that were made. Certainly groups such as the B.C. coalition for children and individuals who are working with poor children share that sense of concern. Minister Joy MacPhail with the B.C. government has spoken out strongly against these cuts.

It is very clear that these cuts are part of a broader agenda of the government. We see it in Bill C-76, enormously destructive legislation, which this government is now ramming through the House without even allowing the public to have hearings across

the country, without even allowing the possibility of a committee of eminent persons to review the destructive impact of this bill.

We know that the bill will gut the Canada assistance plan of its national standards. This will open the door to workfare and cheap labour standards. We know as well that it will dramatically cut funding for post-secondary education.

It is in the area of health care and medicare that I want to raise a couple of very grave concerns as well. The implications of this government's policies in the area of health care are very serious, the implications of Bill C-76. There is no doubt that we are going to see the possibility of a massive erosion in the quality of health care. We will see two tier health care. It is a direct consequence of the North American free trade agreement. We know that once the provincial governments move to de-insure any medical services it is open season for private insurance companies. Under NAFTA this is considered to be a market commodity. That is why the private insurance companies are just waiting to get in and make money.

This legislation is enormously destructive for the social fabric of the country. It was the member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce who said that these cuts will cause considerable harm and pain to a segment of the population that has already been hit very hard. He said: "The cuts are not only wrong in principle, but contrary to what we said in the red book, contrary to what we did during nine years in opposition, and completely junking all of the principles we stood for".

I call on the government to reinstate the funding for the community action program for children. I call on the government to reverse Bill C-76, to recognize that the United Nations committee on economic, social and cultural Rights has been very critical of this legislation and recognized that we are in breach of our international obligations under the international covenant on economic, social and cultural rights.

There are alternatives. The Prime Minister has suggested that medicare was only intended to be temporary in terms of federal involvement. He said it was only intended for catastrophic illness. Well it is time for this government to look at alternatives. It is time they rescind Bill C-91, which was a gift to multinational drug companies. It is time they implement the 1995 alternative federal budget, which was a very different approach. It is time in the area of health care that we place far more resources into preventative health care, as was recommended by the Canada health coalition, the Hospital Employees Union in British Columbia, the National Federation of Nurses Unions, the Council of Canadians, the Canadian Labour Congress, and many others.

It is time that this government came to its senses and recognized that the impact of Bill C-76 and of its budget and budgetary policies is to shred the social safety net, is to mean that poor kids are going to get even poorer, that the gap between rich and poor will be greater, and that our health care system, the Canada assistance plan, and post-secondary education will all come under attack.

Grand Parents' Day ActAdjournment Proceedings

6:30 p.m.

Etobicoke—Lakeshore Ontario


Jean Augustine LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I would like to respond to the member for Burnaby-Kingsway's question of March 15, and not really the last gospel that we just heard recited.

Children continue to be a priority for the Government of Canada, especially those who currently live in conditions of risk and poverty. As the House is aware, given the fiscal realities that all Canadians face, the federal government has had to make some very difficult choices.

The budget for the community action program for children, CAPC, has not been reduced dramatically and is still quite substantial. In the next two years over $92 million will be available through the community action program for children.

Let me assure the hon. member that the reduction to the community action program for children was applied in an equitable manner. All jurisdictions, including British Columbia, will continue to receive the percentage of total CAPC funds originally agreed to in the respective protocols signed with all provinces and territories.

The community action program for children remains a model of how different levels of government can work together with community groups to address the health and social needs of at risk children.

In addition to the children's action program, the government is making significant investments in new programs. For instance, the aboriginal head start and the Canada prenatal nutrition programs also address the social and health needs of children at risk and their families.

As stated in the red book, we must give our children the best possible start in life. Investing resources in our children is investing in the future of our country.

Grand Parents' Day ActAdjournment Proceedings

6:35 p.m.


Jean-Paul Marchand Bloc Québec-Est, QC

Mr. Speaker, we have another instance of lobbying, patronage, and maybe corruption with the Agusta affair involving an Italian firm, Agusta S.p.A., a manufacturer for the EH-101 helicopter contract which was cancelled and for which there was to be no compensation.

The present Prime Minister said that there would be no compensation. And I quote:

"The program is cancelled and there isn't any compensation for anybody".

And yet, there has already been some compensation. The firm Unysis has received $166 million in compensation. There are ongoing negotiations with Agusta, and with Westland, regarding compensation, despite the fact that the Prime Minister said that there would be no compensation, despite the fact that some ministers have already spoken against it and would have liked an inquiry into this affair.

This is serious. As we know, Agusta was found guilty of corruption in Belgium, and gave bribes in Italy. This firm has a very bad reputation. Yet, the government is now reaching agreements with lobbyists, some of whom, like James Deacey and Daniel Despins, are well known Liberals with very close connections to the party, are currently negotiating compensation for a firm. At the same time this government is cutting social programs. It has reduced the social housing program by some $300 million in Canada. Of course, the poorest people arre getting hit, but the government is about to give millions and even hundreds of millions of dollars to a firm which does not deserve it at all.

This is another example of the power lobbyists exert on the federal government, as was seen in the case of Power DirecTv, which was perhaps an even more serious example of nepotism. As we know, the son-in-law of the Prime Minister had succeeded in having a CRTC decision overturned, in favour of his own company. This is yet another example of the power of lobbyists and of the patronage which prevail with this government.

The issue concerning Agusta is whether or not to provide compensation. We asked the minister responsible and he seemed to indicate that he was negotiating to that effect. But do we compensate or not? I know that the government's answer will be very vague. We will not know for sure. The government will tell us: "Well, we are negotiating, we are discussing, but this is not really about compensation".

We are suspicious because, in fact, the government will once again try to find a few hundred millions and give that money to a company which does not deserve it, all this at a time when it makes cuts in social programs and social housing in this country.

Can we say that the Prime Minister of Canada is keeping to his word, since he said this regarding the EH-101 helicopter program:

"The program is cancelled and there isn't any compensation for anybody".

Those are the Prime Minister's own words. Is this Prime Minister keeping his word or not? We want to know if there is any compensation. If there is, and if there are negotiations, perhaps we should even have an inquiry into this case, because Agusta, as I said earlier, has a very bad reputation, and has already been convicted of corruption in Italy and in Belgium.

So, I ask the question, and I hope to get a clear answer from the government.

Grand Parents' Day ActAdjournment Proceedings

6:35 p.m.

Halifax Nova Scotia


Mary Clancy LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, I have never been nebulous in my life.

Which word did my hon. friend not understand? I will do this very slowly to make sure the member gets it. The Government of Canada did not breach the contract with EH industries. The government terminated the contract in accordance with the termination clause and in accordance with our promise in the red book which we kept on November 5, 1993 as soon as the Prime Minister took office.

The Prime Minister did say absolutely that there is no compensation for anybody. Furthermore, he said that ministers involved would make sure we do not pay a cent more than that we are obligated to pay. His statements are entirely correct. The Government of Canada is not negotiating a compensation settlement with EH industries.

I ask my hon. friend to read the contract. The contract was arranged and signed by a previous government which had as a member the hon. gentleman who sits in the front row and leads my hon. friend's party. However, a mere bagatelle.

Contractors are being reimbursed only for costs legitimately incurred up to the point of termination plus those costs arising directly out of termination. No compensation is being paid; no penalties and no lost profit for the cancellation of the contract. Which word does the member not understand?

If people should choose to hire lobbyists when the government goes forward in the purchase of other military equipment, that is their prerogative. I make it very clear that no firm requires the services of a lobbyist to do business with the Government of Canada.

We might ask, however, who is lobbying the hon. member across the way on this issue? As for the suggestion there are backroom negotiations between members of the government and lobbyists in this matter, it is simply untrue.

I am confident the errors being presented as fact by the Bloc are the results of poor research and misunderstanding rather

than a desire to mislead. Thankfully I have had the opportunity to explain the real facts.

Grand Parents' Day ActAdjournment Proceedings

6:35 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Pursuant to Standing Order 38(5), the motion to adjourn the House is now deemed adopted. Accordingly, the House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 6.42 p.m.)