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House of Commons Hansard #101 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was mission.

Topics

Air TransportationOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Hamilton West Ontario

Liberal

Stan Keyes LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, unlike the member opposite, this government is not going to practise the politics of division. We are going to hope that Canadian Airlines is successful. We do not want to look at the glass half empty, as the hon. member does so well.

Canadian is doing the best job it can. Right now it is trying to restructure to ensure that it is a viable airline in this country, and that is what we are hoping for. We are not looking down the road at the failure that this hon. member hopes to see, obviously, in the way he has been questioning this government.

Air TransportationOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, by not being forward looking to the future, this government is going to ensure that Canadian has no future whatsoever.

Canadian's financial difficulties also directly affect the public purse, for the company has to repay loans from the federal government.

Can the Prime Minister commit to bring pressure to bear on Canadian as a debtor in order to encourage the only possible solution, namely amalgamation of Canadian and Air Canada, the only way to ensure the future of this industry and the only way to save thousands of jobs?

Air TransportationOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Hamilton West Ontario

Liberal

Stan Keyes LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, Canadian Airlines, again we say, has brought forward a plan to restructure its airline. Let us have a look at the plan that President Kevin Benson has brought forward. Let us hope that the plan, in concert with the contributions that would be made by the employees of Canadian, would help to see this airline get back on its feet and be a viable competitor in the airline industry in this country.

Child CareOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Reform Beaver River, AB

Mr. Speaker, since national child day is on Wednesday, the government should take a look at a recent Angus Reid survey. It shows that 57 per cent of parents with young children work simply to make ends meet. A majority of those same people would like to have the freedom to have one parent stay at home with their kids if they could afford to do that.

This government needs to make Canadian families a priority. It needs to lesson their tax burden and give parents back some choice in how they raise their own children.

My question is for the Prime Minister. Why will the government not convert the child care deduction into a tax credit and extend it to all parents with children 12 years or younger, including those parents who choose to raise their kids at home?

Child CareOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Michel Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, the reality of child poverty in this country, which is a rich country, is of course of major concern to the Government of Canada.

Last week the Canadian Council on Social Development reported that most children in Canada are doing well. That is partly good news. However, we cannot ignore those children who actually live in poverty. This is why campaign 2000 recognized that the major reason for children not doing well is unemployment. For this reason, this government is insisting a great deal on improving the economic climate in this country. That is the way we will be able to do more.

This government has already done quite a lot in the last few years. This government has doubled the working income supplement provided to low income families. The Canadian government spends more than $5 billion a year on child tax benefits that has been paid to three million Canadian families already.

Child CareOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Reform Beaver River, AB

Mr. Speaker, when the minister talks about campaign 2000, we have our own plan for that as well, and that is that every Canadian family would have a tax break of $2,000 by the year 2000. I think that would be far more practical.

The Reform's fresh start platform makes Canadian families a priority. It will increase the spousal exemption by over $2,500 and extend child care deductions to all parents, including those who choose to raise their kids at home. That was my initial question and I did not hear anything like an answer for that, and so I will just ask it again.

What sort of specific tax relief does the minister have to offer Canadian families?

First, why will he not consider raising the spousal exemption, which would be a fairly simple thing to do, and second, to extend the child care deduction to all parents?

Child CareOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, if the hon. member cares to take a look at the existing provisions for married families, as my colleague has said, first of all in the last budget we doubled the working income supplement for families with four children by $1,000. At the same time the married credit exists which reduces income taxes by as much as $1,500 a year. There is a special supplement out of the child tax benefit for parents who care for preschool children at home.

The fact is if one takes a look at the vast range of policies introduced by this government and by previous Liberal governments, the hon. member will see that it is concern for children that has been upper most in the government's mind. If one would like to compare that to the vast majority of recommendations from the Reform Party, which would maintain the level of poverty as opposed to alleviating it, one would begin to understand that the line in the sand has been drawn and no amount of camouflage by the Reform Party will hide that.

Child CareOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Reform Beaver River, AB

Mr. Speaker, our recommendation is that parents who choose to raise their kids at home up to age 12 should be celebrated, not just the preschool ones he talks about.

The average Canadian family pays a staggering 46 per cent of its income in taxes. Children across the country are living in families where both parents are stressed out from having to work nights and weekends to pay for this Liberal government's spending habits.

Canadians have suffered a $3,000 pay cut since this government took office in 1993, and the finance minister knows that.

Instead of being satisfied with the status quo of high taxes, why will the minister not simply balance the budget and then give Canadian families some much deserved, much needed tax relief?

Child CareOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, why does the hon. member not admit where she and her party are going to find the money to provide the tax cut for the rich? The first area in which they will find it is by abolishing the Canada pension plan which is very crucial for Canadian families. It is the principal source of support. Under the Reform Party the Canada pension plan will disappear.

The second thing they will do is eliminate equalization for a number of provinces. Is she saying that people who live in Saskatchewan or Nova Scotia do not have families and are not entitled to the same level of public services as Canadians in other provinces?

The Reform Party would eliminate the maternal benefits under the employment insurance program. Is the hon. member in the process of saying that people who are on employment insurance are not entitled to maternal benefits?

Let us understand that what the Reform Party is suggesting is that in fact those programs which go to help low income families, families on welfare and middle income families would be gutted and eviscerated by the Reform Party in order to take care of the richer people in this country. This government will never accept that.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Bloc Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Human Resources Development.

Before the House adjourned, probably looking for an excuse to extol the virtues of the employment insurance reform, the Minister of Human Resources Development stated, and I quote: "Five hundred thousand Canadians who were not previously covered by unemployment insurance will now qualify".

Will the minister confirm that, instead of more Canadian workers being covered, starting on January 1, 1997, some 500,000 workers, mainly very low wage earners working fewer than 15 hours per week, will start paying premiums they are not required to pay at present, while the vast majority of them will never receive benefits because they will not qualify?

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Michel Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, this is not a new issue. It has been raised time and time again. I must emphasize that the employment insurance reform promotes active measures, in contrast to the previous system, which was universally condemned as inefficient and encouraging people to stay at home.

We now have a system ensuring that, by the year 2000 or 2001, the $800 million investment fund we are creating will be the sole source of funding. Those who work part time may of course pay premiums, but they will also be covered by the employment insurance system to the extent that they pay premiums.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Bloc Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, the government has given workers earning between $39,000 and $42,500 and the businesses they work for a break on premium payments. The truth is that an additional 500,000 people will have to pay premiums.

I would like the minister to tell me if he has read his department's paper on this and if he can confirm that only 45,000 of these 500,000 new contributors, very low wage earners, will be eligible, as indicated in a paper released by his own department on January 23, 1996. Is that how the Liberals intend to fight poverty?

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Michel Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I will confirm this: Starting January 1, 1997, an additional 500,000 Canadians will be covered by unemployment insurance, while they were not previously, because they will now qualify for coverage under this system.

The EconomyOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Leon Benoit Reform Vegreville, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister often brags that Canadians are benefiting from lower interest rates. He claims that Canadians will buy more houses and more new cars, saving hundreds of thousands of dollars due to lower interest rates.

My question for the Prime Minister is what about those Canadians who cannot afford to buy a home or a new car and who work two or three jobs to feed their kids. What is the government going to do for those children who do without so much, including time with their parents who have to work so hard and so long to feed this hungry government?

The EconomyOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the fact is if the members of the Reform Party will take a look at what has happened over the course of the last three months in terms of the benefits of the reduction in interest rates, what they would see is that housing starts are up. They would see that the announcement came out today that manufacturing shipments are up. They would see that the basis of the economy is becoming stronger and stronger. And as a result of that, thousands of Canadians are going back to work and it is the families of those Canadians that are going to benefit.

Over 700,000 new jobs have been created by the private sector; 46,000 jobs were created last month alone by the private sector. The fact is these people who are going back to work will be able to provide for their families as a result of the economic conditions set in place by this government.

The members of the Reform Party, they who have no policy to increase employment, no economic philosophy designed to help the middle class in this country, should not stand up in the House and essentially say that we will live with the dual economy, that we will live with an economy that benefits the rich and ignores the poor.

Canadians will not put up with it and neither will we.

The EconomyOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Leon Benoit Reform Vegreville, AB

Mr. Speaker, I find it sad and unbelievable that this finance minister will stand up and brag about an unemployment rate of 10 per cent when the United States has an unemployment rate of 5 per cent.

The Reform Party has brought forth a tax relief plan that will completely eliminate the tax burden of over 1 million Canadians. Our plan will leave more money in the pockets of these families to spend on groceries, rent and clothing.

My question for the prime minister is specifically how and when will his government provide tax relief for Canadian families.

The EconomyOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, it is quite the opposite. The Reform plan will not leave more money in the hands of average Canadians.

The Reform plan will take away their pensions, it will take away their health care, it will take away welfare benefits for those who are at the lowest end. The fact is that what the Reform Party will do will gut the Canadian dream for the vast majority of those who depend on government for help.

There is one other thing. The Reform Party ought to understand that what it is in fact advocating is a tax cut now and a massive tax increase for the next generation of Canadians. What it would do is impose on young Canadians a burden of deficit reduction, and we will not do that.

Coast GuardOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Bernier Bloc Gaspé, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans.

The minister, who is bent on implementing a new tariff structure, will release this week an impact study on the fee structure for services provided by the coast guard to commercial shipping. However, we have serious reservations about the credibility of this study, which we have with us, since it seems to have been drafted specifically to support the minister's intentions.

Will the minister admit that the study, which he commissioned, is nothing but a report to accommodate him, since it does not take into account several essential parameters, such as the increase in the price of oil in the east that will result from the new tariff structure, and the jobs that will be lost because of increased competition from American ports?

Coast GuardOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bonavista—Trinity—Conception Newfoundland & Labrador

Liberal

Fred Mifflin LiberalMinister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, as a member of the committee that asked for the study, I am sure the hon. member is very much aware that the study is a very objective study. In fact, it is so objective that it has looked at seven of all the activities that impinge on ports and indeed the whole business of shipping.

I will go a little further. This report looks at 1,200 critical movements of commodities in the Canadian shipping business and has examined a dozen or so of them in particular. It has consulted from coast to coast, many meetings in this country. I have met with the marine advisory board. I met with certain other sectors of the shipping industry to discuss the progress of this report.

I have to tell the hon. member that despite his misgivings it is a very objective report carried out by a very credible third party with no connections to the government. It was done at the behest of the committee on which the hon. member serves. He will be apprised of the results when it is completed in the very near future.

Coast GuardOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Bernier Bloc Gaspé, QC

Mr. Speaker, how can the minister accept a study which says the impact of its tariff structure will be negligible, considering that, for example, this new tax will reduce by 15 per cent the profits of iron ore companies on the north shore and will result in the closure of the Port-Cartier mine two or three years earlier than expected, thus worsening the unemployment situation in a region that is already hard hit?

Coast GuardOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bonavista—Trinity—Conception Newfoundland & Labrador

Liberal

Fred Mifflin LiberalMinister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, perhaps I will say it in another manner. The hon.

member is aware of the objectivity of this study. It has examined seven aspects that impact on the marine transportation business in this country and on the commodities. In fact, the 1,200 runs I talked about cover almost 90 per cent of all the commodity runs by shipping in this country.

I see the hon. member smiling. I do not know where he is getting his figures with respect to Port Cartier and its closing down, but it is impossible to measure every single aspect. I remind him that the study that was done was done at the request, in fact at the insistence, of the committee on which he serves.

We are responding to the request of the committee, of which he is a member. The results are objective and the study will show that there are some conclusions that he will be able to study in the very near future.

TaxationOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Reform

Jim Gouk Reform Kootenay West—Revelstoke, BC

Mr. Speaker, the government saw fit to open the borders to American competition against Canada's air carrier industry through the open skies policy. While I did not object to having a more open and competitive industry, I do question why the minister did this without first levelling the playing field on federal fuel taxes.

My question is for the Minister of Transport. Given that these American competitors have significantly lower fuel taxes and that fuel costs are a major component of an airline's operating expense, will the minister take immediate steps to lower the tax on aviation fuel in order to permit Canadian aviation companies to compete equally?

TaxationOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Hamilton West Ontario

Liberal

Stan Keyes LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, we in this government, and in particular the Minister of Transport, pride ourselves in listening to any suggestions being brought forward by the members opposite.

The member also spoke of the open skies agreement that has taken place between Canada and the U.S. Let us look at what it has done. It has created 100 new scheduled transborder routes, 24 new routes by Canadian air carriers, 33 Canadian air carrier flights which are now scheduled flights, 54 new U.S.-

TaxationOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

TaxationOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Stan Keyes Liberal Hamilton West, ON

I guess they do not want to hear the good news.

It has created 54 new U.S. destinations non-stop from nine Canadian cities. For Air Canada there are 1,000 new jobs. For Canadian Airlines there are 700 new jobs. It is a good news scenario.