Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to respond to the concerns of the hon. member.
As announced in the finance minister's February budget, the postal subsidy will be reduced. This cut follows earlier cuts already announced in the previous government's December 1992 economic statement and in the finance minister's April 1994 budget.
These cuts have been planned as follows: 10 per cent in 1993-94; 10 per cent in 1994-95; 15 per cent in 1995-96; and 20 per cent in 1996-97.
This breakdown explains the difference between the 8 per cent reduction reported in the latest budget and a 24 per cent reduction mentioned in some newspaper articles.
Despite the extent of these cuts, we are happy to point out once again that the postal rate increases for 1995-96 have been restricted to 5 per cent for paid circulation periodicals and to 10 per cent for small community weekly newspapers.
Also, we have successfully participated in the effort to reduce the deficit while protecting minority language weekly newspapers and ethnic newspapers. It is a success that deserves special recognition.
With regard to the overall evolution of the budget for the postal subsidy, it was first reduced from $220 million to $110 million by the previous government by excluding certain categories of beneficiaries and by moderately increasing the rates for the existing beneficiaries.
The previous government had decided to eliminate all foreign publications, periodicals distributed free of charge and dailies from the program. In April 1993, $25 million was devoted to the creation of a replacement program for the Canadian book trade. Access to the postal subsidy is now reserved for paid circulation periodicals, for library books and for small community weeklies.
I hope this response will reassure the hon. member for Kamouraska-Rivière-du-Loup regarding the short and medium term future of the postal subsidy.