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.