This week, I changed much of the tech behind this site. If you see anything that looks like a bug, please let me know!

House of Commons Hansard #211 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was provinces.

Topics

Budget Implementation Act, 1995Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

Liberal

Warren Allmand Liberal Notre-Dame-De-Grâce, QC

moved:

Motion No. 29

That Bill C-76 be amended by deleting Clause 35.

Motion No. 30

That Bill C-76 be amended by deleting Clause 36.

Budget Implementation Act, 1995Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

Lethbridge Alberta

Reform

Ray Speaker ReformLethbridge

moved:

Motion No. 31

That Bill C-76, in Clause 37, be amended by replacing lines 12 to 24, on page 19, with the following:

"the government of the province shall, at the times and in the manner prescribed by the regulations, provide the Minister with such information, of a type prescribed by the regulations, as the Minister may reasonably require for the purposes of this Act."

Budget Implementation Act, 1995Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

Liberal

Warren Allmand Liberal Notre-Dame-De-Grâce, QC

moved:

Motion No. 32

That Bill C-76 be amended by deleting Clause 37.

Budget Implementation Act, 1995Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

Lethbridge Alberta

Reform

Ray Speaker ReformLethbridge

moved:

Motion No. 33

That Bill C-76, in Clause 38, be amended by replacing lines 27 to 36, on page 19, with the following:

"direct that any cash contribution under the Canada Health and Social Transfer to that province for a fiscal year be reduced, in respect of each default, by an amount determined by the Federal Court to be appropriate having regard to the gravity of the default pursuant to an application by the Minister, where the Federal Court determines that a default has occurred."

Budget Implementation Act, 1995Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

Liberal

Warren Allmand Liberal Notre-Dame-De-Grâce, QC

moved:

Motion No. 34

That Bill C-76 be amended by deleting Clause 38.

Budget Implementation Act, 1995Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

Lethbridge Alberta

Reform

Ray Speaker ReformLethbridge

moved:

Motion No. 35

That Bill C-76, in Clause 39, be amended by replacing lines 7 to 10, on page 20, with the following:

"for each suceeding fiscal year where the Federal Court determines that the default is continuing."

Budget Implementation Act, 1995Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

Liberal

Warren Allmand Liberal Notre-Dame-De-Grâce, QC

moved:

Motion No. 36

That Bill C-76 be amended by deleting Clause 39.

Motion No. 37

That Bill C-76 be amended by deleting Clause 40.

Motion No. 38

That Bill C-76 be amended by deleting Clause 41.

Motion No. 39

That Bill C-76 be amended by deleting Clause 42.

Budget Implementation Act, 1995Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

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

moved:

Motion No. 40

That Bill C-76, in Clause 43, be amended by replacing lines 1 and 2, on page 21 with the following:

"43. The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Act is amended by adding the following".

Budget Implementation Act, 1995Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

Liberal

Warren Allmand Liberal Notre-Dame-De-Grâce, QC

moved:

Motion No. 41

That Bill C-76 be amended by deleting Clause 43.

Motion No. 42

That Bill C-76 be amended by deleting Clause 44.

Motion No. 43

That Bill C-76 be amended by deleting Clause 45.

Motion No. 44

That Bill C-76 be amended by deleting Clause 46.

Motion No. 45

That Bill C-76 be amended by deleting Clause 47.

Mr. Speaker, in the budget of February 27 the Minister of Finance proposed cutting over the next two years $7 billion from programs which transferred money to the provinces for health care, post-secondary education and social programs. With respect to social programs it would cut money for both for social services and social assistance. Bill C-76 is the bill which implements those and other budget measures.

My amendments in group No. 4 and those in group No. 5 attempt to stop, attempt to kill, those cuts by deleting all those sections which would implement them. As I said in the earlier budget debate this is no fun for me. It is with no joy that I have to do this, but I feel I have no alternative.

In my view these proposals in the budget are completely contrary to what we said in the red book during the election campaign. They are completely contrary to what we said during nine years in opposition. They are completely contrary to what we did when we were in government under Prime Minister Trudeau and Prime Minister Pearson.

My group four amendments would do three things. First, they would delete clauses 30, 31 and 32 of Bill C-76, which clauses would cut payments under the Canada assistance plan as of April 1, 1996. These payments would terminate the Canada assistance plan by the year 2000.

The Canada assistance plan is that federal law by which social services and social assistance are financed in the provinces. By that law shelters for abused women and children, day care centres, foster homes, care for the aged and different types of social assistance are financed.

Secondly, my amendments in this group would delete clauses 33 to 41 inclusive of Bill C-76. These clauses would set up a new delivery system for reduced health care payments under the Canada Health Act.

Thirdly, my amendments in this group would delete clauses 44 to 47 inclusive, which would set up a new system for reduced payments to the provinces for post-secondary education and health care.

In effect, my amendments if carried would stop the cuts and stop the new delivery system for reduced payments and reduced national standards for social services.

Why am I doing this? I am doing it first of all because social programs in this country are not the cause of the deficit. In a question put to the Minister of Finance approximately two weeks before the budget in February, a member of this House asked him whether social programs were the cause of the deficit. The Minister of Finance said no. As a matter of fact he said that social programs were the same percentage of gross domestic product today that they were 20 years ago in 1975. Therefore, if social programs are not the cause of the deficit, why are they being attacked in the bill, whose goal it is to reduce the deficit?

Second, I am opposed to those provisions in the budget and in the budget bill because they would cause severe harm to those in need. They would widen the gap between rich and poor in this country and in my view lead to social unrest and increased crime.

Let me refer to a few recent articles. If members look at the business section of Saturday's Ottawa Citizen , June 3, they will see an article entitled ``The Widening Gap'' in which the former head of the Economic Council of Canada, Judith Maxwell, is warning that even if there is an improvement in the standard of living over the next few years, not everyone will share in it. She went on to say that we can expect increasing polarization in our society.

We can also look at a recent article in the Citizen dated April 6, 1995, in which the headline is 500,000 fall into poverty''. This is an article on the annual report of the National Council on Welfare, entitledPoverty Profile'', in which they say that nearly half a million more Canadians became poor in 1993, even though the economy was pulling out of the recession.

Then we have the committee of the United Nations, which for the second time in three years is criticizing the Canadian government because the Canadian government is failing to meet its obligations under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. In particular, they refer to Bill C-76.

Finally, I would like to refer members of this House to an excellent book that has appeared recently. It is a book by Linda

McQuaig called Shooting the Hippo , in which she deals at great length with many of the issues I am discussing today.

I am also opposed to those provisions in the budget because they are contrary to what we promised during the election campaign. I want to read once again what we said in our red book at page 74:

Since 1984, the Tories have systematically weakened the social support network that took generations to build. Not only have they taken billions of dollars from health care and from programs that support children, seniors, and people who have lost their jobs, but they have set us on the path to becoming a polarized society divided into rich and poor, educated and uneducated, with a shrinking middle class. This is not the kind of country most Canadians want to live in. In a polarized society, crime, violence, intolerance, and group hatred flourish.

That is what we said during the election campaign when we said that we would attack the deficit. I agreed with that, that we would reduce the deficit to 3 per cent of gross domestic product within three years of taking office. However, we said that we would not do it by reducing social programs. We said we would do it by cutting out waste in government, by getting rid of non-productive expenditure, by closing the gaps and holes in the tax system, and by providing for economic growth by providing for jobs so that people would be paying taxes instead of collecting unemployment insurance and social welfare, so that businesses would earn profits and pay taxes instead of going bankrupt. That is what we said during the election campaign.

I am wondering what happened in this country to the doctrine of the living wage. When I was at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish during the fifties we studied two great encyclicals of the Catholic Church, Rerum Novarum, which was from the late 19th century, and Quadrogesimo Anno, which came out during the 1930s, which taught the doctrine of a living wage. That doctrine was that everybody who works has the right to a wage to support themselves and their families with basic necessities. With the type of direction in which we are going today, with people working part-time, for minimum wages, with no unions and no support services, we are going completely contrary to that doctrine, which I thought was an excellent doctrine. I have supported it over the years. By the way, it was the philosophy by which I approached these sorts of problems in Parliament. That doctrine seems to have disappeared from the landscape of Canada.

I would like to say a word about affordability. Some people say that we cannot afford these programs today. However, we have an expanding number of consumer goods and services. Does it seem right that we can afford an expanding number of consumer goods and services but we cannot afford post-secondary education, health care, and social services at the level we set them at from the middle 1960s on? Is not the business community caught in a contradiction? They are saying on the one hand that we cannot afford these very important services at the usual level. On the other hand, through advertising they are urging us to buy more and more consumer goods and services. They are urging us to take out loans so we can buy more and more. They are urging us to use our credit cards to the hilt. What can we afford?

Mr. Speaker, I note that you are indicating my time is coming to a close. I simply want to say in conclusion that I regret I have to make these sorts of interventions in the House. However, I cannot contribute to tearing down a system that for my 29 years in the House I helped build up with the Liberal Party, first under Mr. Pearson when he was Prime Minister, then Mr. Trudeau, and when we followed the same philosophy for nine years in opposition. I just cannot do it.

I ask my colleagues to look very carefully at the things we said in opposition and in the red book. I ask that we be honest and fair and follow through on those things.

Budget Implementation Act, 1995Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, I think this time it is really my turn and I am much obliged to you for allowing me to speak on the fourth group of motions on Bill C-76.

Bill C-76, as it relates to the Canada social transfer, poses a major problem to Quebec. As the Leader of the Opposition mentioned again at second reading in particular, the problem is enormous. We said so during the finance committee clause by clause study of this bill. We, in Quebec, have a major problem with this bill on social transfers, because the federal government is cutting shamelessly in transfers to the provinces in the areas of social assistance, post-secondary education and health.

It is a disgrace to reduce these transfers on the backs of health care users, the underprivileged who have to rely on welfare or students, who are already among the most vulnerable groups in our society these days; just look at the number of students covered with degrees who are searching for jobs.

Quebec also has a major problem with this bill as it seems to reflect the intention to ultimately impose standards or general guidelines throughout Canada, including Quebec, in the areas of social assistance, health and post-secondary education.

During the debate at second reading, we were a little surprised when the Minister of Finance announced, out of the blue, the amendments which he was going to table to satisfy Quebec and make sure that it does not have the impression of being again the victim of strong arm tactics, like in 1981, because that is what it is.

But this is yet another attempt to isolate Quebec. Indeed, Quebec will never fit into the mould imposed by Canada-wide standards,

particularly in the education sector, which is the cornerstone of Quebecers' identity. Education is the cornerstone of the Quebec culture; it is the instrument which ensures its continuity. Consequently, Quebec will never accept to toe the line, to follow general guiding principles and even promote them, as asked by the other nine provinces and the federal government, in a sector as vital as education.

Let me go back to the Minister of Finance. He said that he was tabling amendments designed to make Bill C-76 acceptable to Quebec, as regards the implementation of Canada-wide standards. This is the last version of the bill, as tabled by the minister. It reads: "The Minister of Human Resources Development shall invite representatives of all the provinces to consult and work together to develop, through mutual consent,"-the expression "mutual consent" is never defined-"a set of shared principles and objectives for the other social programs"-these other social programs are post-secondary education and social assistance-"referred to in paragraph (1)(d) that could underlie the Canada Health and Social Transfer".

The first question that comes to mind, as I said while reading the clause, is what do we mean by mutual consent? Does it mean an amendment tabled by the Minister of Finance? If we look back at the recent past, the last 10 to 12 years of relations between Quebec, Canadian provinces and the federal government, we see that things were normally done by mutual consent, and that mutual consent could be, for example, the agreement of the federal government and seven provinces constituting 50 per cent of the population. That is what mutual consent could be, and it could be used to establish national education standards and to force Quebec to make the decision to either get in line and follow the guiding principles or national standards or to have the federal government cut off all funding. This is what it could come down to.

If that is what mutual consent means, to establish a national consensus, this bill settles nothing. On the contrary, the version revised by the Minister of Finance is even worse than the initial version, which said: "maintaining national standards, where appropriate". Now, appropriateness is not even in the picture. They will take the agreements signed by the provinces and the federal government and will impose them across Canada, without even giving Quebec a chance to say its two bits.

I must say that this is quite a sensitive issue for Quebecers, as Quebec has been strong-armed many times before, in particular in 1981, by the Prime Minister of the time who was a main player if not the band leader in the patriation of the constitution against Quebec's will, the person responsible for Quebec's isolation.

The national standards contained in Bill C-76, in the part on the Canada social transfer and research, are another example of the Prime Minister of the day strong-arming Quebec. In the history of relations between Quebec and Canada, the Prime Minister has always specialized in strong-arm tactics against Quebec. It is not surprising to see a bill like this one introduced by a Minister of Finance whose boss is the present Prime Minister and a former lieutenant of Pierre Elliott Trudeau.

And it comes as no surprise to see another instance of strong arm tactics as the government tries to shove national standards down Quebec's throat, in a sector as crucial as education, when we know that the present Prime Minister led the second attempt to strong arm Quebec which led to the demise of Meech Lake in 1990. He was there with his cellular phone in the hallways on Parliament Hill, conferring with the leader of the opposition in Manitoba, Mrs. Carstairs. He was giving her his instructions on the Meech Lake Accord.

He instructed her to isolate Quebec, to make Quebecers feel they were left out. This comes as no surprise.

We are not surprised but we are amazed that this government is so blatant in its approach. It makes no bones about it. They seem to think there is nothing wrong with calling this flexible federalism: giving the provinces full jurisdiction over areas which belong under their jurisdiction in any case. We are not surprised to see this third instance of strong arming in ten years, but we are surprised to see the government drop any pretence at diplomacy and do this openly, putting everything on the table and saying that if Quebec does not like it, its funding will be cut. That means up to $7 billion could be cut annually, the equivalent of federal transfer payments for the three items I mentioned before.

Whether the government likes it or not, during clause by clause consideration of the bill in the Standing Committee on Finance, there were various representations. I would say that 90 per cent of those from the provinces, with the exception of Quebec, asked for national standards. However, all representations from Quebec, without exception, objected to setting national standards, especially in the ultra sensitive education sector.

Whether people like it or not, whether it was rejected or not in 1990, there is a distinct society in Quebec, and a distinct nation. And this people will never allow English Canada to decide what should constitute the objectives of a pillar of Quebec's cultural future. Never will Quebec permit this sort of policy to be imposed on the province on the pretext of establishing a coast to coast standard in Canada.

Never will we allow Bill C-76 to make Quebec toe the line, as the present Prime Minister has tried to do since 1980, by promising us all sorts of reforms following a "no" vote on Quebec sovereignty, but by doing the opposite. That is, he has worked to Quebec's

disadvantage over the 15 years that followed. We will never agree to Bill C-76 in its present form.

We will never allow the Canada social transfer, which the federal government has already cut by $2.5 billion, to be applied uniformly and despite Quebec's refusal to such sensitive sectors as education. We will never permit the present Prime Minister to continue his dirty deeds against Quebec, which began following the referendum in 1980, continued in 1981 with the patriation of the Canadian constitution, despite the wishes of the National Assembly, and carried on in 1990 in his work against the Meech Lake accord, which did not recognize Quebecers as a distinct people, but simply allowed us the strict minimum, a minor distinction as regards the distinct society.

We will fight the provisions of Bill C-76 with our last ounce of energy, as the purpose of this bill is to isolate Quebec as the Prime Minister has done since his arrival in politics.

Budget Implementation Act, 1995Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

Reform

Diane Ablonczy Reform Calgary North, AB

Mr. Speaker, I listened very carefully to the hon. government member who spoke before the last member. I would like to commend this gentleman for his honesty in addressing squarely the fact that these new provisions under Bill C-76 for transfer of money from the federal government to the provinces to help pay for and support social programs are in total contradiction to the position taken and the promises made in the Liberal red book during the election. The member is to be commended for urging the government to show some integrity in the way it carries out the promises it made to Canadians.

The government knew or ought to have known that this country was in some financial difficulty. It should have been honest with the Canadian people during the election, as other parties were, and forthrightly suggested to them that changes would be made. However, it did not. In spite of that, changes were made by the government to funding for social programs, among them under Bill C-76.

The unfortunate thing is that these changes were not made in a planned and managed way. They were not made in a way that would allow the provinces to properly and sensibly deal with the changes, the funding drops and the different rules the federal government unilaterally decided to play by and imposed on the provinces in Bill C-76.

This is causing a great deal of difficulty for the provinces, which are responsible for delivering these services to Canadians, and thereby to Canadians themselves. The difficulties of poor government leadership and planning really go right down to the bottom line which is where people are or are not being served.

With respect to the funding for the Canada assistance plan or welfare, the money for CAP is presently based on a per capita formula. The money which the federal government provides to the provinces for welfare payments is based upon the welfare rates and population of each province. The more money the province spends on welfare because of its rates or caseload, the more money is transferred.

What Bill C-76 does is to provide a new formula. There are at least two things wrong with the formula, maybe more. The first is that it was imposed without any consultation with the provinces. This is rather shocking when we think about the fact that people's lives are involved in this about which Liberal members always say they are so concerned. They are so concerned about compassion, fairness, equity and all of those good things yet without the slightest consultation with the people who are going to be affected, these kinds of changes are made. The provinces are rightly upset and unhappy that they were not consulted and had very little chance to prepare or have a say in what was going to happen to them.

The second problem with these changes is that the formula imposed provides a formula for transferring money only up until the 1996-97 fiscal year. After that there is no formula and no plan at all. That is a real difficulty. How are the provinces and the people dependent upon services supposed to plan for the future or have any sensible long term goals and strategies when the funding which is always the underpinning of a program has been so cavalierly dealt with?

On asking the department, as I did, what its long term projections were, its five-year or 10-year projections for the programs based on the changes it has made in Bill C-76 that we are debating here today, the department said it did not have any. This is an absolutely shocking admission from a department which is supposed to be running some of the most important programs in our country. There are people who genuinely need these services.

The provinces are struggling with their own debt, their own fiscal situation and with the bigger picture of the economy, which was caused by the debt and deficit situation of our federal government. Some people think Reformers tirelessly mention that but it is so critical. How are these entities supposed to deal with the responsibilities they have given this situation when there are these sudden unexpected and unexplained moves made on the provinces without consultation?

We have some real difficulty. Some of the most troubling things to the provinces and to Canadians are provisions in Bill C-76 which allow the federal government to make a unilateral imposition of standards and rules for the use of these funds. The words in the section are that there will be a mutual agreement about how the standards are imposed. Again, according to the department when questioned it had to admit that mutual agreement is not defined. Does it mean the federal government in one province? Does it mean the federal government in two provinces? Does it mean the

federal government in seven of the 10 provinces with 50 per cent of the population? We do not know. It is not defined at all.

The federal government is diminishing its support for these programs but has the gall to say it is going to say how the money will be spent. It is going to call the shots. It is going to call the tune even though it is not paying the piper. This is a recipe for disaster.

The provincial governments very rightly one of these days and probably sooner than later are going to tell the federal government to go take a hike, as they are already doing on health care. How can the federal government impose its own will on the provinces, especially when it very obviously is so poorly thought out and poorly managed when it is diminishing greatly the support it is giving the provinces for these programs?

We have a federal government that wants to decide everything but other people are going to pay for it. Not only that, other people are going to pay for it in an atmosphere under a regime that keeps changing unilaterally. This simply is not workable for our social programs and for the support that this country's needy, who truly are needy and need the support under the welfare program, are wanting to retain.

When we look at Bill C-76 and the changes in the payments made under it, especially to the whole area of CAP funding we need to look at the fact that there should be some real consultation with the provinces, some mutual agreement. This is supposed to be a co-operative federalism. Instead, we have a very haughty, a very arrogant, a very single minded national government changing the rules in the middle of the game. It is changing them in the short term without any long term plan. It even admits that and then expects the provinces to continue to deliver services on standards that the federal government insists upon and sets.

What happens if the provinces do not fall into line? Under this bill, any payment the federal government might be making to the provinces can be interfered with. This is simply financial blackmail. There is no other word for it. There are many payments the federal government makes to the provinces under a variety of agreements. Yet the federal government says it can and will abrogate any and all of those agreements if the provinces do not toe the line the way the federal government thinks they should on a number of service delivery issues such as CAP.

I would suggest to the Liberal government that this is no way to run a country. It is certainly no way to run a country where many levels of government, particularly the two main ones, are responsible for the well-being of citizens and for providing services and spending the citizens' money in a way that best benefits everyone.

When a federal government is so arrogant it actually stands and says that things must be done its way or any dollars it might have promised are at risk, what kind of management style is that? How is that going to get co-operation? How is that going to get interaction among levels of government that really will benefit all the citizens?

We very strongly condemn the way this has been done. We acknowledge and Canadians realize there have to be changes to the structure of funding programs. However, this kind of change and the way in which it has been done is totally unacceptable and totally against the best interests of our country.

Budget Implementation Act, 1995Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

NDP

Audrey McLaughlin NDP Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to second the motion of the hon. member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce. It is true that the clauses in Bill C-76 which the member is proposing we delete, and I am in agreement with that, represent a fundamental restructuring of the social and health system of Canada.

It certainly makes a mockery of the review done by the human resources minister in which many people participated thinking that they could have real input. It certainly makes a mockery of the national health forum that was supposedly established to set out more clearly a national system of health.

Most concerning about the clauses that are proposed to be deleted is that they change Canada in a very profound way. While social and health programs are of foremost importance to citizens of the country in their daily lives, there are important economic programs that provide a social infrastructure absolutely essential to the competitiveness of the country.

It is shocking the Liberals have joined with the Bloc and Reform parties to dismantle national programs. Rather than saying up front that they are prepared to dismantle the programs, the Liberals are prepared to do it as one article recently stated: "by erosion through stealth, by the death of a thousand cuts".

Even today the government has brought in limited debating time for an extremely serious issue. It suggests that not only are the Liberals not keeping their promises in the red book but they do not want it brought before Canadians who will look at it more carefully and see the real implications. The shift has come without a full public debate. That is why it is so important to have a full debate in the House.

On other issues, whether the use of drugs in sports or medicare, we had independent commissions. This is one proposal I have made because of the long term impact of the clauses we are now

asking to be deleted. They should be deleted until there has been further in depth study of the long term social and economic implications to the country.

The Liberal government is sending a clear message to Canadians that it is willing to abandon its responsibility to promote economic and social equality. Canadians should be reminded once again that the Liberal Party won the last election on its promise to make job creation the number one priority of the federal government. Instead Bill C-76, a financial bill, kicks the legs out from under some of the supports that have softened recessions in the past and would do so in the future.

At a time when child poverty is at the highest rate we have had in history, when the United Nations is criticizing us for our lamentable record on poverty issues and when many young people are giving up hope, the government has all but abandoned the promises that brought it here.

Does the government have a national vision in terms of these important programs. We can only judge by its actions. When Canadians look at the clauses in Bill C-76, they will wonder about a government whose only goal seems to be to complete the downward spiral of social programs and encourage the lowering of wages and benefits for Canadian workers everywhere.

The $7 billion cut to federal transfers for post-secondary education, health care and social assistance will have a profound effect in further creating the haves and have not provinces and territories. The Canadian Hospital Association and the Canadian Medical Association have expressed their concerns about specific clauses of the bill. They are experts in the field who know what the effect will be on health care should the clauses pass.

The bill is not about making a small change to social and health programs. It is about dismantling them. The block funding arrangement means that funding from the federal government will not be tied to specific programs. It suggests that the government no longer embodies a national vision of the programs. That is why I say the motion must be supported. There must be much more study and much more understanding by Canadians about very important decisions on the future of health care and social programs.

My colleague from the Bloc Quebecois says that national standards are terrible. They have guaranteed, particularly under the Canada Health Act, some equity from sea to sea to sea. There is no guarantee it will continue. There is no guarantee at all. As the funding is not just reduced but no longer available from the federal government, the federal government will no longer have a say in implementation in the provinces and territories.

Under Bill C-76 the cash transfers to the provinces and territories will run out within the next decade. Without the power of enforcement the federal government will not be able to maintain medicare as a public not for profit system.

Even Liberal members of the finance committee who studied the bill opposed the plan, because it is a betrayal of everything the country has stood for. We are in a mad rush to the bottom. I am afraid we have not seen the end of it from the government.

The Prime Minister is on record as saying that we need to get our health care spending down and that maybe the Canada social transfer is one of the ways he will do it.

Let us look at the facts. We are spending about 10 per cent of GDP on health care. The Prime Minister says that is too much. The major increases in health care costs continue to come from increasing drug costs and private health insurance for extended health coverage. We spend only about 6.8 per cent of GDP on public insurance.

The Liberal government can do something to reduce health expenditures. It can rescind and repeal Bill C-91 that provided patent protection for multinational drug companies and dramatically increased drug costs and the costs to every health plan in every province and every territory.

The United States spends far more on health care than we do. It is precisely because it has a private system that is out of control. If one charts the statistics one can see that until the late 1960s when Canada introduced its public system health care costs were rising at about the same rate in the United States and in Canada. We spent about the same proportion of GDP on health. However when our public system was introduced we began to save money. The growth rate in the United States has continued to skyrocket where ours has levelled off. Now the United States looks to us for solutions.

The government promised that it would not withdraw from or abandon the health care field but the bill breaks the promise. The government is abandoning every Canadian who trusted the government. It is abandoning poor Canadians and the unemployed. It is abandoning the ill.

I despair for the country when the government has turned its back on the people. I strongly oppose Bill C-76. I strongly support the motion of the hon. member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce. I urge and indeed plead with the government to delete the clauses so there may be further discussion, public debate and open debate on the serious and fundamental restructuring of the social and health care plans.

Should the government choose to do so, it would have praise from many parts of the country. This is the opportunity for government members to vote for the motion to delete the clauses

and allow time for Canadians, not just the Liberal Party, to have a say about the future of health care and social programs.

I urge all colleagues in the House of Commons to support the motion to delete the clauses.

Budget Implementation Act, 1995Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Bourassa has two or three minutes before we go to members' statements.

Budget Implementation Act, 1995Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Bloc

Osvaldo Nunez Bloc Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to take part in the debate at report stage of Bill C-76, an Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 27, 1995.

I oppose this bill, which maintains national standards in the health field and provides for the introduction of new national standards with respect to social assistance and post-secondary education. These measures fly in the face of the provinces' autonomy and jurisdiction. If the provinces did not comply with these national standards, the federal government would impose sanctions by cutting transfer payments, having already cut benefits to the unemployed and those receiving social assistance and planning to target seniors next.

This bill will affect the education sector, a sector of exclusive provincial jurisdiction and one that is vital to Quebec's cultural identity. These Canada-wide standards will reflect the interests of the majority of English speaking provinces, not the reality of the special situation in Quebec, which is a distinct society.

In my opinion, this bill has two fundamental objectives: first, to steam roller over the legitimate claims of the government of Quebec in its own areas of jurisdiction; and second, to introduce unprecedented cuts in provincial transfer payments and, consequently, in social programs.

The first federal budget in 1994 began by offloading $5.5 billion in cuts onto the backs of the unemployed and $2 billion in cuts onto the backs of welfare recipients and the education system for the period from 1994 to 1997. The February 1995 budget announced additional cuts of $7 billion in transfer payments for social assistance, education and health, and another $700 million in cuts to unemployment insurance. Is this is the much touted flexible federalism of the Liberals?

In addition, the Minister of Finance announced in his last budget that the government will review the old age pension plan. Seniors, including the 15 per cent of the population in my riding of Bourassa who are aged 65 or over, can now expect to see their cheques further eroded. I hope that seniors will again rise up and protest, as they did under the Mulroney government, against the deterioration in their living conditions, particularly with respect to pensions.

Budget Implementation Act, 1995Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

The Speaker

My dear colleague, as it is almost 2 p.m., you will complete your remarks after Question Period.

It being 2 p.m., pursuant to Standing Order 30(5), the House will now proceed to statements by members.

Environment WeekStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Pat O'Brien Liberal London—Middlesex, ON

Mr. Speaker, on the occasion of Environment Week 1995, I extend an invitation to hon. members and to all Canadians to do more and to find more ways to protect and preserve our country's environment.

As a result of numerous activities and exhibitions being held nationwide, Canadians will have an opportunity to familiarize themselves with healthy environmental practices. I encourage all Canadians to take part in the activities.

We can do a great deal. We could build a composter, join an environmental organization, install water saving devices at home, car pool or use public transport.

In the spirit of Environment Week, let us keep in mind that preservation of the environment is an ongoing commitment. The initiatives taken are important not only this week but throughout the year.

Francophone And Acadian CommunitiesStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Bloc

Jean Landry Bloc Lotbinière, QC

Mr. Speaker, francophone minorities outside Quebec still face multiple frustrations ranging from the violation of their education rights to the lack of adequate government services in French at both the provincial and federal levels. Yet, instead of helping Acadian and other francophone communities, the Liberals prefer to lend a hand to their gravediggers.

This weekend, the leader of the Liberal Party in Ontario confirmed her opposition to any plan to establish a French language university in Ontario. Mrs. McLeod did not hesitate to violate the constitutional rights of francophones in her province by delaying the creation of a French school board. At the same time, the Government of the Northwest Territories is following in the footsteps of the Ontario Liberals by refusing to recognize the education rights of the French speaking minority in its new education law. In the meantime, the federal Liberals are greeting this infringement of francophones' rights with silence.

Human RightsStatements By Members

June 5th, 1995 / 1:55 p.m.

Reform

Keith Martin Reform Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, when the Liberals were in opposition they roundly castigated the Conservative government for not speaking out against human rights abuses in China. In their red book of broken promises they said: "We will continue to support democracy and respect for human rights worldwide". Yet in government the Liberals have done an about face.

The sixth anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre passed yesterday without a whimper from this government. Yet the people of China are still under the boot of a repressive regime. Human rights abuses abound and democratic principles are squashed.

In the face of this the government has said: "Give us your money and we will turn a blind eye", saying that trade should take precedence regardless of a country's poor human rights record. In the same vein, Canada is one of the world's leading suppliers of arms to the third world.

In the red book it said: "Canada will help develop greater international and intercultural collaboration in the interests of peace, justice and humankind". Sadly, the red book promise has shown once again that it is a book of hypocrisy.

TransportationStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Bonnie Hickey Liberal St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, it is appropriate that the inauguration of this year's National Transportation Week took place in St. John's, Newfoundland, the first time the kick-off has ever been held in our province. It gave us the opportunity to focus on our important local and provincial transportation issues.

The organization committee provided the delegates with a taste of Newfoundland life that included a harbour tour and a seminar at the Marine Institute, St. John's world class marine science research facility.

As islanders, Newfoundlanders understand the value of transportation. We rely on marine transport to take our products to market and bring back to us the goods we need.

The theme of this year's National Transportation Week is "Careers in Transportation: Opportunities, Training, Skills". It is a reminder that the modern national transportation system requires highly skilled and dedicated people. We all have a stake in seeing that the transportation sector continues to attract the best candidates possible. A successful transportation sector will keep the country moving into the next century.

Glenn GillespieStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Paddy Torsney Liberal Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to rise today to recognize the outstandingly heroic initiative of Glenn Gillespie of Burlington, Ontario.

On June 2 Glenn began his River of Hope kayak marathon for cancer research. Glenn's journey will take him from Fredericton, along the Gulf of St. Lawrence in New Brunswick, through the St. Lawrence River in Quebec and Ontario, until he reaches Burlington in August.

Years ago Glenn met Terry Fox jogging along the side of the road through New Brunswick during his Marathon of Hope. Glenn ran with Terry Fox and was inspired to take up Terry's challenge to raise funds for cancer research. This chance encounter with a truly remarkable young Canadian inspired Glenn to take up this adventure.

Mr. Speaker, fellow members of Parliament, please join me in saluting Glenn Gillespie of Burlington as he begins travelling along his River of Hope and wish him the best of luck.

Health CareStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Bonnie Brown Liberal Oakville—Milton, ON

Mr. Speaker, a Canadian company that recently brought jobs and investment to Oakville is also bringing sensible cost savings to Canadian hospitals without harming patient care.

In May, Livingston Healthcare Services Inc., an Ontario based health products distributor, opened a new logistics facility in Oakville. This company has introduced to Canadian hospitals a cost saving innovation: just in time delivery. The result is that hospitals no longer need to keep large, expensive inventories.

Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto has saved over $200,000 in its first year using this system. While the Toronto hospital anticipates savings of over $1 million annually, these savings have no negative impact on patient care and in fact can allow money to be reallocated to improve it. The latest investment and expansion has the potential to benefit all Canadians.

Clearly this is welcome news for Canada's health care system.

Privatization Of Canadian NationalStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Laurent Lavigne Bloc Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, to make CN more attractive to potential buyers, the

Minister of Transport is about to spend between $600 million and $1 billion in public funds to reduce this corporation's debt.

This squandering of public funds for the benefit of CN's future buyers is unacceptable, especially since the minister has refused to make a commitment to ensure the survival of AMF Technotransport. The minister himself admits that this CN subsidiary, which employs 1,300 people in Pointe-Saint-Charles, a Montreal neighbourhood which is one of the poorest in Canada, faces an uncertain future. The closing of this company would have serious consequences for Montreal and a disastrous impact on the Pointe-Saint-Charles area.

Instead of sweetening the deal for the eventual buyers, the minister should try to help AMF workers, who live in an area already afflicted by poverty.

Ontario ElectionStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Reform

Ed Harper Reform Simcoe Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Ontario polls show a clear preference for Mike Harris and his common sense revolution. Voters give every indication they will reject the Ontario Liberals' daughter of red book on Thursday.

This election is not about right versus left, it is about right versus wrong. Ontarians are saying that employment equity is wrong, that MPP pensions are wrong, and ever increasing taxes are wrong. Ontario is saying that hiring on merit alone is right, workfare is right, and balancing the budget by a fixed date is right. Like Alberta, Ontario is saying that the Reform agenda is right.

It proves clearly that popularity polls are meaningless until the rubber hits the road. Once the Ontario election was called, the common sense revolution destroyed the Liberal mirage.

This Thursday, what is wrong in Ontario will be rejected and replaced with the only party with the Reform message, which knows what is right, Mike Harris-

Human RightsStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Gurbax Malhi Liberal Bramalea—Gore—Malton, ON

Mr. Speaker, this week marks the 11th anniversary of Operation Blue Star, in which the Indian army stormed the Golden Temple in Amritsar.

The sanctity of the most holy place of the Sikh religion, the Golden Temple, was dishonoured. Many innocent men, women and children who were there to mark a holy day were killed in the ensuing battle for the Golden Temple. Religious freedom, which is protected here in Canada and in many other democratic countries around the world, was violated.

The Sikh community continues to tell its sad story of sacrifice to the world. Today, I ask you to honour the sacrifice of many innocent people who died in this senseless, ruthless tragedy.

We must remember the victims of Operation Blue Star and ensure that such a tragedy never happens again.

Human RightsStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Herb Dhaliwal Liberal Vancouver South, BC

Mr. Speaker, the first week of June marks remembrance for two of the darkest incidents in recent times. I am speaking of course of Operation Blue Star, the attack on the Golden Temple, one of the Sikhs' holiest shrines, and the Tiananmen Square massacre.

On June 3, 1984, the Indian army stormed the Golden Temple, injuring and killing hundreds and perhaps thousands in the process. The invasion of the Golden Temple was more than an assault on the shrine itself; it was an assault on the human rights of Indian people.

On June 4, 1989, Tiananmen Square was the site of a brutal attack on students by the Chinese army. Television cameras around the world recorded the horror of students being shot and run down by tanks.

In China as in India, the attack on the students was not only a savage murder of innocent people but also a vicious attack on human rights and democracy.

As parliamentarians, I believe it is incumbent on us to raise the awareness of human rights abuses and to speak out forcefully against them wherever they may occur.