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House of Commons Hansard #85 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was israel.

Topics

Canada-Portugal Friendship GroupStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Eleni Bakopanos Liberal Saint-Denis, QC

Mr. Speaker, as president of the Canada-Portugal Friendship Group I welcome to Canada the Secretary of State for Portuguese Communities, Mr. José Lello.

Portuguese explorers arrived in North America nearly 500 years ago. Since the establishment of their community, which numbers 500,000 today, Canadians of Portuguese origin have and continue to make a great contribution to the social, political and economic fabric of Canada's mosaic.

Our common membership in the United Nations, NATO, the OSCE and the OECD as well as recent commercial and technological links have strengthened Canada-Portugal relations.

This morning, with the member for Hull and the President of the Treasury Board, I attended the inauguration of a monument to all people of Portuguese origin in Hull. I will, if I may, cite the extract

from a poem by Jorge de Sena that is inscribed on the plaque. It reads: "I can only be from the land where I was born. Even though I belong to the world-".

I invite all my colleagues to come and meet the minister of state in the Commonwealth Room after Question Period this afternoon.

Benvidou ao Canada!

Mental Illness Awareness WeekStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Bonnie Hickey Liberal St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, October 15 to 19 is Mental Illness Awareness Week in Canada. One out of five Canadians, six million people, will suffer from mental illness at some time in their lives.

In recognition of Mental Illness Awareness Week the Canadian Psychiatric Association and several other associations have joined together in an effort to remove stereotypes and misconceptions related to mental illness. They have initiated a national education campaign to help people identify the symptoms of mental illness and to better understand them.

The impact of mental illness extends beyond the sufferers, affecting friends, family members and society at large. Mental illness is the second leading cause of admissions to hospitals of those 20 to 44 years of age.

With proper care including medication, psychotherapy, self-help and support groups, most cases can be successfully treated. I ask that hon. members join me in supporting Mental Illness Awareness Week.

World Mental Health DayStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Pierrefonds—Dollard Québec

Liberal

Bernard Patry LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, today, October 10, has been designated world mental health day. In Canada, the Canadian Mental Health Association has decided to dedicate this day to the prevention and detection of nervous breakdowns.

Fifty-four early detection centres and a 1-800 number have been set up in order to give those at risk or wishing to know more about this illness direct access to the services of professionals.

A recently published report by the World Health Organization predicts that, by 2020, nervous breakdowns will be the second largest health problem on the planet.

Given the extent of the anticipated phenomenon, it is fortunate that such initiatives are being taken to identify those already suffering from nervous breakdowns and to make us aware of the associated problems.

Goods And Services TaxStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Reform

Daphne Jennings Reform Mission—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, this week is family week, and the government has forgotten families.

First, the government pays lip service to family concerns and throws money into short term job creation programs for youth to look good on paper. To make matters worse, that money is drawn on the country's battered credit, already at nearly $600 billion in taxpayer dollars.

Now, after saying there would be no GST on books in its election promises, the government is still going ahead with a new 15 per cent tax on reading materials which will take effect April 1 unless the Atlantic provinces are prepared to bite the bullet and swallow the 8 per cent additional tax as premier of Nova Scotia, John Savage, said he is prepared to do.

The Prime Minister wants credit for this? When is the government going to keep its word and remove the GST on reading materials? I remind the Prime Minister of his promise to remove GST on reading materials. I remind the Deputy Prime Minister, who said that books are a necessity.

This is family week. Remove the GST on books.

Goods And Services TaxStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

The Speaker

Colleagues, I remind you from time to time the microphones are on at the desk near the person who is speaking and sometimes inadvertently your words are heard by Hansard .

Liberal MembersStatements By Members

October 10th, 1996 / 2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral Bloc Laval Centre, QC

Mr. Speaker, since Parliament resumed nearly four weeks ago, the official opposition has vigorously defended the interests of the citizens of Quebec and Canada. The same cannot, unfortunately, be said for the Liberal MPs from Quebec.

Since we started back this fall, the federal Liberals have been making shameless use of the period allocated for statements by members to denigrate the policies of the Quebec government, the Quebec premier, and all of the sovereignist spokespersons. Liberal members are resorting to these dodgy tactics at the rate of about two statements a day under Standing Order 31, about 20 per cent of their speaking time.

The federal Liberals are so obsessed with dumping on Quebec that they are no longer fulfilling their role as members of the government party. No doubt their antics are explainable by the

suggestion by Quebec opposition party leader Daniel Johnson that they might want to make political hay-

Liberal MembersStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

The Speaker

I must now give the floor to the hon. member for Kent.

EthanolStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Rex Crawford Liberal Kent, ON

Mr. Speaker, what a pleasure it is to rise today to announce the groundbreaking of the world class Chatham ethanol plant next Friday. Ethanol will provide new prosperity for corn growers and it will boost Ontario's economy.

The first phase of the ethanol plant will start next week, through the efforts of many, especially our minister of agriculture.

Ethanol is a win-win proposal for our environment, farmers and long term economic growth.

I am equally proud of this government's intestinal fortitude and determination to ban MMT, the nasty American fuel additive. Alternative fuels are the wave of the future. I urge all hon. members to fill their vehicles with MMT free ethanol.

The DeficitStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Nick Discepola Liberal Vaudreuil, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Canadian Minister of Finance has announced that the deficit for the fiscal year which ended on March 31 of this year was $4.1 billion less than projected. Apparently, if conditions continue unchanged, the Canadian deficit will be completely eliminated by the year 2000.

In reaction to this, the Bloc Quebecois has chosen to continue to spread half-truths, saying, and I quote: "Once again you are going to hit the least well-off and go after the unemployment insurance fund".

On the other hand, Quebec minister Bernard Landry is delighted with the news, and has been quoted as saying: "Having said that, it is positive overall and the trend must continue".

How can the Bloc Quebecois continue its unfair criticism of our strategy to tackle the deficit, when its boss, the PQ, is congratulating us on our work and offering us public support. If things continue in this vein, their presence in Ottawa will be hard to justify, particularly when the next election comes around.

The DeficitOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, although the Minister of Finance has forecast a $7.3 billion drop in the deficit for 1996-97, if we take a good look at his figures, we see that the cuts in transfer payments to the provinces are responsible for at least 25 per cent of this reduction, and that the minister is using the surplus in the employment insurance fund, which, in itself, is responsible for 70 per cent of this deficit reduction.

My question to the Minister of Finance is this: Will he admit that 95 per cent of his deficit reduction is financed by the employment insurance fund and cuts in transfer payments to the provinces?

The DeficitOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, first of all, transfers to the provinces represent between 20 and 25 per cent of our spending. Therefore it stands to reason that when we make cuts, we cannot cut 25 per cent just like that. We have to cut fairly across the board.

Now, we gave the provinces two years notice to give them time to adjust, while we made cuts immediately. I also want to say that the cuts we made in our operations were far more numerous than the cuts in provincial spending.

As far as the employment insurance fund is concerned, first of all, we must create a reserve to protect ourselves against a possible decline in the economy, and second, as the auditor general said in 1986, it is part of our consolidated revenue fund, so it is treated as such.

The DeficitOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the Minister of Finance. This is the first time we have had a clear statement from the government that the surplus in the employment insurance fund-the premiums paid by workers and employers-has been taken by the government to finance its expenditures. At last we have the confirmation we tried so many times to obtain in the past, but to no avail.

Since the Minister of Finance seems so willing to give me the right answers, I would like to ask him whether he is prepared to admit that if he had not cut transfer payments to the provinces, today a province like Quebec would have no deficit at all, so that Quebec's deficit is what Ottawa has downloaded on Quebec?

The DeficitOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, it may well be that when the Bloc finance critics ask questions, the Leader of the Opposition is not always listening. I have often

quoted in the House the auditor general's report for 1986 in which he insisted that the government return what was known then as the unemployment insurance fund-now we say employment insurance-to the consolidated revenue fund. So this is not news.

Second, as far as Quebec is concerned, thanks to the drop in interest rates, Quebec got $625 million more over the past two years than it expected, and this year, I gave Bernard Landry $600 million more than Jean Campeau had counted on, so that adds up to $1.2 billion.

The DeficitOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, members on the government side should not get so excited. The figures are there in the budgets. Everybody knows that transfer payments to the provinces have been cut. Ask the Minister of Finance, let the backbenchers ask the Minister of Finance and he will confirm this is true. It is all there in the budgets: Transfers, including those to Quebec, were cut substantially with the implementation of the Canada social transfer. So think about it, before you celebrate. Look at your budgets.

And now for our question. Since 95 per cent of the deficit reduction announced by the Minister of Finance came out of the employment insurance fund and transfers to the provinces, as he confirmed in his answer to the first question-the minister made no attempt to hide the fact-and since 95 per cent of this attempt to reduce the deficit is paid for by the provinces, by the unemployed, by workers and employers, what was the government's contribution, other than a meagre 5 per cent of this reduction, in other words, between 350 and 400 million dollars?

The DeficitOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, when the Leader of the Opposition starts talking about figures, he makes a few mistakes. It is quite clear that the federal government has borne the largest share of these cuts.

Let me give you an example. For 1994-97, although transfers to the provinces dropped by a total of $4.1 billion, we cut twice as much in our own operations, in other words, $8.3 billion.

Second, I think that as far as Quebec is concerned, it is quite clear that in 1996-97, transfer payments to Quebec will total $10.9 billion, more than for any other province. Quebec, which accounts for 25 per cent of the Canadian population, will receive 31 per cent of the transfer payments. Equalization payments alone will give Quebec $3.9 billion, which is 45 per cent of the total amount of equalization payments.

The DeficitOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, if the opposition makes small mistakes, the government and its finance minister in particular make big ones.

The finance minister's deficit reduction efforts are more than timid. And his job creation efforts are non-existent. After the recession in 1982, it took only three years to restore employment and labour force participation to their prerecession levels. Today, six years after the last recession, the Canadian labour market is still 879,000 jobs short. This is a disaster. Yesterday, while recognizing this is a disaster, the minister still replied that his government will not do anything about it.

How can the Minister of Finance admit that the job market is in a disastrous situation and refuse at the same time to put in place real measures to improve the employment situation in Canada?

The DeficitOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, this was discussed yesterday. The government has put in place several measures that have had a very positive effect in terms of job creation, be it the funds allocated by the former Minister of Human Resources Development to create jobs, summer jobs for young people or funding for research and development or for foreign trade.

Also, it should be pointed out that the vast majority of economists in Canada agree that lower interest rates have had a huge positive impact on the private sector's capacity to create three quarters of a million new jobs in Canada since we came to office.

The DeficitOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Conference Board itself recently declared that the job situation in Canada was a disaster, that the real unemployment rate in Canada was not 9.4 per cent but rather 12.5, when one includes those who have given up looking for work. The Chamber of Commerce of Canada shares the view that this is a disaster. Something can be done to help, which leads me to ask the following.

Will the Minister of Finance undertake before this House to substantially lower the contributions of employers and employees to the unemployment insurance fund and call an emergency meeting with the provinces to discuss the implementation of real job creation measures? In case he has forgotten, I remind the minister that employment is a national emergency.

The DeficitOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, since coming to office, we have reduced the burden of unemployment insurance, now called employment insurance, by $1.8 billion. This is a huge amount and possibly also one of the reasons why job creation has taken off.

That said, there is no doubt that the employment situation across Canada is of concern to us, as it is to the Government of Quebec. We have great hopes that the summit scheduled for the end of the month will be a success.

We have a problem, and I do not mean only the federal and provincial governments. All industrialized states have this problem. We must look into it. I, too, am concerned.

The hon. member referred to the recession. Clearly, Canada has suffered greatly from the 1989-92 recession being so intense and so long. In fact, its impact is still being felt. It will have to be looked into. I welcome the hon. member's questions because I think we should work together. The issue was raised at the finance ministers' meeting. This is one of the reasons why the infrastructure program is being extended.

Having said that, I would like to ask the finance critic for the Bloc Quebecois, if you will allow it, Mr. Speaker-

The EconomyOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Reform

Preston Manning Reform Calgary Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, yesterday a number of us sat patiently through the presentation by the Minister of Finance but his economic statement failed completely to address the principal concerns of Canadians. The finance minister failed to address the needs of the 1.4 million unemployed, the two to three million underemployed, and the one out of four Canadians who are worried about their jobs. He failed to address tax relief, the principal route to job creation.

Why has the finance minister failed to deliver what Canadians really want: lower taxes and more and better jobs?

The EconomyOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of all of us in the House, I would first like to welcome the leader of the Reform Party to the debate.

The fact is that had the leader of the Reform Party been paying attention, he would have noticed that right from the beginning when we took office we had a two track approach on the whole question of cleaning up the balance sheet. The first was certainly to get Canadians back to work. As a result of that, the Prime Minister embarked on several trips abroad with Team Canada which brought a great number of new jobs to this country. He would have also noticed that we extended concessional financing. We have invested in R and D. Through the Department of Human Resources Development we put money into summer jobs for students and re-entry jobs for students.

The fact is, in addition to the substantial interest rate decreases which have occurred as a result of this government's action, 750,000 new private sector jobs have been created since we took office. That indeed is something for Canadians to be proud of.

The EconomyOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Reform

Preston Manning Reform Calgary Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, if the finance minister wants to debate, he has to face unpleasant facts.

The unpleasant facts are the Liberals have cut transfer payments by 40 per cent. They have cut health care payments by $3 billion. They have cut benefits to seniors. They are dismantling social programs to pay the interest on the ballooning $600 billion federal debt. The finance minister has gone through all of this without being able to translate it into benefits of lower taxes and more jobs for Canadians.

My question again is: Why has the finance minister failed to give Canadians lower taxes and more and better jobs?

The EconomyOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I would simply ask the leader of the Reform Party to hark back to Reform's first budget. When he does so, he will see that what Reform recommended in terms of health care, what it recommended in terms of transfers to the provinces, and what it recommended in terms of old age pensions was to simply kill the patient.

It really is the height of something that would be unparliamentary in terms of language for the Reform Party leader to stand up now and talk about what we would do. I would simply ask him to carry his thought one step further. The leader of the Reform Party has said that we should cut taxes. Fine. Let him now stand up and tell us where he would cut in our programs. What social programs would he cut in order to justify a cut in taxes?

The EconomyOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Preston Manning Reform Calgary Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, in this House we ask the questions and the finance minister can bluster all he wants. He can avoid the question all that he wants, but he cannot escape the fact that he has failed to deliver on the government's promise for jobs. The reason he has failed is that he cannot deliver on tax relief.

I will ask him one more time. Why has the finance minister failed to deliver tax relief to Canadians and the more and better jobs that tax relief would bring?

The EconomyOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, in every one of our budgets we have brought forth tax relief for specific areas. In terms of unemployment insurance, we cut the costs over the last two years by $1.8 billion. We have provided tax credits for poor families with children. We have provided tax credits for people in school.

The leader of the Reform Party says that they ask the questions in this House. In terms of the basic question of what social programs would you gut to pay for your tax programs, the Canadian people will insist that you answer that question.