House of Commons Hansard #116 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was billion.


Food And Drugs ActPrivate Members' Business

11 a.m.


Paddy Torsney Liberal Burlington, ON

moved that Bill C-309, an act to amend the Food and Drugs Act (ingredients of food sold in restaurants), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, restaurants are important places in our communities. Whether for pleasure, business or while travelling, most Canadians eat out from time to time.

Families with food allergy sufferers know how confusing and dangerous this situation can be. So I am pleased today to rise in support of my private member's bill, Bill C-309, which proposes to amend the Canadian Food and Drugs Act to provide greater protection for those Canadians who suffer from serious food allergies.

When implemented, Bill C-309 would require restaurant owners to ensure that reliable information is available regarding the ingredients in their menu items. It would not seek mandatory labelling.

Before beginning my formal comments on the bill, I would like to acknowledge Mrs. Betty Lou Taylor of Burlington, Christian Taylor's mother. Christian died at the age of 17 after eating an apple turnover secretly flavoured with ground hazelnuts.

It is due in part to Mrs. Taylor's perseverance that the bill has made it this far. Mrs. Taylor has worked hard to ensure that Canadians who suffer from food allergies are protected. Through her efforts to raise awareness of the severity of food related allergies, more Canadians are informed and respectful of possible allergic reactions to certain types of food.

At 17 Christian Taylor was very aware of the effects that hazelnuts would have on him. He was careful to avoid hazelnuts. But Christian had eaten apple turnovers in other fast food restaurants and in the absence of labelling on the package or in the restaurant, Christian assumed he was safe. His assumption and the absence of labelling cost Christian his life. Yet Christian was doing what most of us do on a regular basis, enjoying a meal in a restaurant. Unfortunately for Christian on this particular occasion eating out would have a very tragic ending.

As we discuss the advantages and disadvantages of this bill, I encourage all Canadians, whether or not they personally suffer from food allergies, to remember that we have an opportunity to ensure that we support the type of legislation that reflects our concern for the health and safety of Canadians as well as our appreciation for good common sense.

Bill C-309 meets both of those criteria. It does not mean mandatory labelling. It is a simple bill. It asks restaurant owners and their staff to take responsibility for the foods they serve and to recognize that some of their patrons suffer from something that cannot be controlled with medication but something that can be prevented with education and access to information.

The bill addresses a medical condition known as anaphylactic shock. At least 50 Canadians die in anaphylactic reactions each year. These types of reactions can be triggered by minute amounts of allergen. For example, in 1994 a student on a field trip to Algonquin Park in Ontario died from trace amounts of peanut butter which had been transferred to a jam jar. Essentially anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that can lead to rapid death if untreated. Like less severe allergic reactions, anaphylaxis occurs when the body's immune system reacts to harmless substances as though they were harmful invaders.

However, instead of developing the familiar runny nose or rash, suffers of anaphylaxis respond with extreme body reactions. The reaction may start with itching, vomiting or swelling of the lips and face. Within moments the throat may begin to close, choking off breathing and leading to unconsciousness and death.

At least 25,000 Canadians are presently at risk of food related anaphylaxis. As I mentioned, an average of two Canadians die per month due to anaphylactic reaction from food allergy.

One in 15 children suffers from a food allergy. Not all anaphylaxis related deaths are reported as such because they are usually

recorded in the provincial records as death by natural causes. One in 50 adults suffers from a food allergy. Some 35 per cent to 60 per cent of Canadians are avoiding specific ingredients each and every day for a medical reason. The bottom line is that issue affects a lot of Canadians, it does not discriminate, it occurs for the young and the old. And yet what is the current legislation?

At the present time the Canadian Food and Drugs Act has provisions regarding ingredient disclosure in the food industry, but it applies only to prepackaged foods sold in grocery stores. Individuals with adverse food reactions are totally dependent on ingredient information. There are no medications or injections available to prevent these adverse food reactions, but once the reaction is under way adrenalin is needed immediately. For those who suffer and for those who know somebody who does, epipens and anakits are the two products available for those with an allergy. An epipen is a tool to self-administer adrenalin and an anakit contains benedril capsules and a double dose injection of adrenalin.

How do you prevent anaphylaxis shock? Avoidance is the only way to prevent anaphylaxis and this is where Bill C-309 can make the difference between life and death. How many people here realize that walnuts are commonly ground into salad dressings or added to dishes such as chicken or Cornish hen? How many know that peanut oil is frequently used to fry foods? It adds a nice flavour to fried chicken. Some restaurant chains have in fact built their success on its flavour, but it can kill some of our fellow citizens. How many people know that ground almond is commonly added to pastries and that ground hazelnut is commonly added because it adds terrific flavour to chocolate?

If one takes an item out of a food store there is a label and one can avoid an anaphylaxis reaction. In a restaurant one is playing Russian roulette. Bill C-309 attempts to reconcile the public safety concerns of consumers with the legitimate concerns of the restaurant industry regarding the prohibitive costs involved in the mandatory labelling of all restaurant foods.

As I have said many times, Bill C-309 does not seek mandatory labelling. It seeks to protect food allergy sufferers by giving them something as simple but crucial as access to reliable information regarding ingredients.

There are two scenarios for how it would work. One relates to the individual restaurant and the other relates to a chain restaurant. In an individual restaurant customers with food allergies or other ingredient related concerns would approach an employee in a restaurant. That employee would recommend that the person speak to the designated individual, usually the cook, to find out what ingredients are about to be used in the food that is being served them. It does not demand that they have long list. It can be as simple as saying: "I am going to cook with this oil, with this can of tuna and with this box of pasta. You read the ingredients and you make a decision". It is not hard to administer.

In a chain restaurant the customer would approach an employee and that person would either again refer to the designated employee or check in a binder of information. In some restaurants we have seen people list their ingredients on a board that people can refer to. Most McDonald's restaurants have a binder and in other kinds of chain restaurants one could rip off the end of the box that contained the buns that arrived at the restaurant for the hamburgers and if there is a change in supplier that is put in the back of the binder and people can make their own decisions.

There has been a lot of support for this bill since I have started to talk about it. There have been many days where there have been whole page articles in the Toronto Star or in the Ottawa Citizen and the Hamilton Spectator . There have been at least 36 municipalities, 15 boards of education and numerous national and provincial groups and associations that have specifically passed resolutions asking the federal government to act on this issue. Many Canadian schools have developed policies to protect anaphylactic children. Some have taken more drastic steps than others, banning certain types of foods altogether.

The federal government, in co-operation with the school board association, recently launched a booklet to help schools organize themselves around this issue. It is a terrific handbook and something that was desperately needed for schools.

The Canadian Food and Restaurant Association launched "Allergy Aware" in 1991. It is a voluntary program that requires participating restaurants to give patrons accurate ingredient information on request. Because it is voluntary, it is difficult to enforce, not well supervised and there is a very low participation rate. Not all restaurants in Canada are members of the Canadian Food and Restaurant Association.

The risks are that its campaign is not fully understood by employees. To test it out one evening, I asked someone who was proudly displaying the "Allergy Aware" sign at a convention type venue what that person could tell me about it. I was told that it was an "Allergy Aware" program. I then asked what I would hear if I said I was allergic to nuts, in reference to the food being served. Instead, the person told me not to eat nuts. Critical information was needed about the food that individual was serving me and yet that individual had no clue how the program worked.

I spoke to the Canadian Medical Association. Dr. Peter Noel in Newfoundland has been a great source of assistance, information and encouragement.

I did a survey of all members of the House of Commons and had a terrific response. Eighty-seven per cent of the MPs surveyed were supportive of this bill. Finally, and most importantly, Burlington

residents support this bill. We received over 100,000 signatures on a petition asking the federal government to take action in this area.

What do the opponents of Bill C-309 say? They argue that some restaurants will be driven out of business because of the costs. They suggest that it is too hard to administer. To these people I suggest they consider the following. Bill C-309 does not seek mandatory labelling. Surely it is not unreasonable to expect that something you are about to be served and consumed that you should be able to get some information about what you are about to eat. It is not unreasonable to think that the chef or the cook would know what the ingredients are in the food you are about to eat. This is life or death for a number of individuals. It does not impose unreasonable costs on restaurant owners. Providing a manual is a low cost solution to a life and death problem.

This is really not about cost. This is about health and safety. Food allergy is not a trivial disease. It is not easy to manage and can be fatal. More and more people are suffering from adverse reactions to food.

This bill suggests an easy way to implement a prevention program. Emphasis on prevention allows consumers to make informed choices instead of playing Russian roulette.

We have the responsibility to ensure that where possible we are protecting the health and well-being of Canadians and those around us. Bill C-309 is about accepting that responsibility. This bill is about ensuring that no other mom has to lose a child as precious as Christian Taylor.

I hope I have the support of all members on this bill. I ask that unanimous consent be given for Bill C-309 to become votable.

Food And Drugs ActPrivate Members' Business

11:15 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member has moved that the matter be made a votable one. Is there unanimous consent that it be votable?

Food And Drugs ActPrivate Members' Business

11:15 a.m.

An hon. member


Food And Drugs ActPrivate Members' Business

11:15 a.m.

Some hon. members


Food And Drugs ActPrivate Members' Business

11:15 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I hear a little no. I have to say that the matter may not be votable at this point.

Food And Drugs ActPrivate Members' Business

December 9th, 1996 / 11:15 a.m.


Margaret Bridgman Reform Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and speak to this bill. Prior to this life, I spent a number of years in health care as a hospital nurse and saw a lot of situations where allergies, anaphylactic shock and these kinds of things occurred.

I have mixed feelings about the bill. The overall objective is very worthy, but I have some difficulties from the point of view of onus, or sense of responsibility. It seems to me that we are placing a heavy responsibility on the providers of the food, the manufacturer or the restaurant. We must make that an equal responsibility for the individuals themselves.

It would have been nice to have heard some statistics in the previous member's speech in relation to those persons with allergies versus persons without allergies. What kind of percentages are we talking about? How many people have actually suffered from this kind of thing at restaurants and so on?

To get on to some of my other concerns, the bill as stated would require restaurant owners to make all employees familiar with the issue of food allergies, their potential serious consequences and be able to answer customers' queries about the ingredients that may be contained in the food sold in the restaurant or prepared in the restaurant and sold for consumption outside the restaurant. That is one possible scenario.

The second choice to meet this need would be to have one employee designated as having that information or making reference to it. I caution here and stress, as the member said in her remarks earlier, that we are not asking that waitresses become nutritionists and that they must have at their fingertips exactly what is in the contents of the meal.

The bill would require restaurant owners to maintain a list of ingredients of all food prepared and sold by branch restaurants. I do not know about branch restaurants. That does not seem to be too unreasonable for restaurants. I am talking not only of restaurants but deli type establishments as well, where one grabs a muffin or whatever in passing and leaves.

The thing that comes to mind here, and I cannot seem to move away from it, is that this looks as if we are assimilating the WHMIS program in relation to poisons which was introduced into the hospitals. To give an overview of the WHMIS program, basically what happens there is that in the workplace-I said it was introduced in hospitals but it was introduced in the workplace across the country-any potential hazardous material has to be listed and the appropriate action taken should an employee come in contact with that material.

Two things came out of that. One was that it was going to be a horrendous task for organizations to do this. Basically the onus went back to the manufacturers and in their instructions with the product there was sufficient information for agencies or employers to put it in their binder and have it readily accessible to all staff.

The other thing that arose out of that was the trade secrets in relation to the product. Under the WHMIS program if a company feels that their product has been violated they can take it to a committee to attempt to keep the secret. Kentucky Fried Chicken is the obvious one with the famous 11 herbs and spices in the chicken.

What has to be looked at is not the recipe actually being accessible to the waitress or designated person. We have to look at the chemicals, just as the chemicals are listed on a can that we pick

up on the grocery store. That may help allay the problem of the secret recipe.

There is another plus to this. Labels have been put on products in grocery stores to better inform customers about their purchases. For example, when I make a meat loaf at home I know what is in it if I read the ingredient labels. It does not seem too difficult to move to the next step. Instead of my having to cook the meat loaf, someone else will cook it in a restaurant. But I still should be able to see the list of chemicals versus the recipe in relation to that meat loaf.

There is a great amount of concern over what this means to a waitress or a cook in relation to his or her job. It is very important that the responsibility not fall totally on the restaurant. The onus should not be on the restaurant to assure the public that there will not be any allergic reactions. That must be stressed. If the individuals have that binder, they must be aware of the products in restaurant food to which they are allergic. The restaurant's responsibility stops with the provision of the binder. That does not seem to be stressed in the bill.

This may be a bit of a moot point but there are other food sources like delis, bakeries and food courts which should be included. I would like to see the word "restaurant" expanded to include any food source. Consumers should be informed about exactly what they are buying in terms of chemical content.

Anaphylactic shock is a very quick medical emergency. In most cases there is only 10 to 15 minutes to respond. Remember in days gone by when some people would be dead within a few minutes of receiving a bee sting? Then an alternative was introduced where a person could carry a syringe along with a little ampulla of adrenalin.

Today there is another life threatening food to some people, peanut butter. I suggest very strongly for those persons with very acute allergies that they should take some sort of medical precaution. They should carry that little vial or whatever it may be. You cannot expect a restaurant to save your life if you go into anaphylactic shock or if you have any allergic reaction. Not all allergic reactions end up being anaphylactic shock. We should also be aware of which allergic reactions are life threatening when we interpret statistics.

My approach to this bill is that it has its good points and points that need more development. We talk of recipes in the bill. I would like to see that developed into chemical components of products.

For any restaurant it is quite common to standardize recipes so that the vegetable soup made on Monday tastes the same as vegetable soup on any other day. It is usually a standardized recipe and that is just economics. Instead of letting every cook do whatever, there are standardized recipes. Of course the other thing too is that the customers acquire a taste and if the food is good, they certainly will come back.

With a standardized recipe when someone uses the ketchup as was previously stated, it would not be that difficult to take the label off the bottle or to have it reproduced in some way and placed in a manual.

I would like to stress very strongly that I do not see the need for every waitress or even one person in the restaurant at any given time having to be learned in the nutritional aspects of whatever the food products are that are being served. If someone does choose to inquire about what is in a food product, I would like to see that the written material is available and they themselves can sit down and make the judgment decision as to whether or not they are going to partake.

Those are my main points on this subject. If this moves into a WHMIS type situation, it is a whole new debate because there are a number of problems with the WHMIS program. I would hate to see that kind of thing arise.

When we get into the nitty-gritty of looking at this, it should move from recipes down to ingredients. There should be a definite stressing that the onus is on the individual. Also, the employees should have access to the information. They should not have to qualify, explain or whatever as the onus should rest with the individual and not the employee. If someone asks what this is, it is up to that individual to know what it is, not the waitress or the cook.

Food And Drugs ActPrivate Members' Business

11:30 a.m.


Eugène Bellemare Liberal Carleton—Gloucester, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to comment on the speech just made by the Reform Party member for Surrey North.

She seemed to have great concerns about the private member's bill of the member for Burlington. The member for Burlington wants restaurants to provide information about the content of the food they are serving so that people will not die from sudden shock which might happen with a reaction to the food.

I was surprised that the member for Surrey North was not more sensitive. She said that putting too much responsibility on restaurants is what our colleague wants. On the other hand, she said that we cannot expect restaurants to save someone's life if the person goes into a food reaction shock, that the onus is on the individual. I would suggest it is the responsibility of the restaurants to know what their products are all about because the lives of their clients might be at stake.

The member for Surrey North also suggested that we should have more statistics in order to justify this bill. This is awful. Should we have one death, 100 deaths or 1,000 deaths in Surrey, B.C., or should it be in Montreal?

People want to know what is in food.

Food And Drugs ActPrivate Members' Business

11:30 a.m.


Ian McClelland Reform Edmonton Southwest, AB

That is not what she said.

Food And Drugs ActPrivate Members' Business

11:30 a.m.


Eugène Bellemare Liberal Carleton—Gloucester, ON

I hear some members from the Reform Party stating that I am a little silly in my presentation. They do not want restaurants providing information to clients, obviously. They feel that in order to make all the employees knowledgeable of the food content would be an overstatement and an exaggeration of a commitment.

The member also stated that restaurants would be giving away trade secrets.

Food And Drugs ActPrivate Members' Business

11:30 a.m.


Ian McClelland Reform Edmonton Southwest, AB

Eugene, at least tell the truth.

Food And Drugs ActPrivate Members' Business

11:30 a.m.


Eugène Bellemare Liberal Carleton—Gloucester, ON

Obviously, I must be hitting a sore spot with the Reform Party since I am being heckled from the other side. They would like to protect the trade secrets of Kentucky fried chicken. Imagine that, 11 herbs. We do not want to know about the herbs, we want to know about the contents which could create a reaction, certain nuts for example. We do not want to know the secrets, we want to know the contents which could create a reaction.

I hope there are more opposition MPs who will support this bill at least in principle.

People who pay for food should receive good food. They should be able to get information about the food they receive. I commend the hon. member for Burlington for her very sensitive approach to this problem.

Food And Drugs ActPrivate Members' Business

11:35 a.m.


Daphne Jennings Reform Mission—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, it has turned into a rather lively session this morning.

Before we go any further, I want to say that the member opposite completely misrepresented the hon. member for Surrey North. I am really sorry when that happens in the House. If we do not have honesty between us, we have nothing. We have to treat each other with decency and respect. The hon. member for Surrey North actually supported the bill with caution. I am sure that every one of us has enough good sense to say that when we hear it. It upsets me. It has bothered me since I have come to this House.

Bill C-309 which the hon. member for Burlington put forward, if implemented would require restaurant owners to ensure that reliable information regarding the ingredients in menu items was readily available to food allergy sufferers. In essence that is needed. I do not think any of us could argue with that. We need to make informed decisions. That is what it comes down to.

The bill does not seek mandatory labelling. I know a bit about that because I have put forward a bill which does seek mandatory labelling, not in this case but in others. The concern here is one of awareness. The consumer must be aware of the contents of food, especially if they have a health problem. I would agree with the hon. member for Surrey North that those knowing they have an allergy or a health problem must also be held responsible. When I say that I am referring to something which happened.

It had nothing to do with food allergies, but had to do with McDonald's being sued because someone spilled hot coffee on them. The person who ordered the coffee spilled it. The legal claim awarded was absolutely ridiculous. It appears that none of us is responsible any more when we order a cup of coffee. If it is too hot, we can blame the restaurant. This is what I am concerned about. This is what might appear to be wrong.

The hon. member for Burlington said that restaurant owners and their staff will take the responsibility for the food they serve. Indeed, I would hope they would be willing to do so. However, the legal ramifications of that statement are what I am concerned about in light of what happened with the hot coffee which was spilled at McDonald's. That was absolutely ridiculous. Restaurants across the country are now afraid to serve hot coffee. That is a word of caution.

The responsibility has to lie with the person who has the allergy, the one who suffers. I agree with the hon. member for Surrey North. If those people could be handed a binder or something, as suggested by the hon. member for Burlington, it would be all written down. That would stop the legal responsibility and the onus would then be on the person who suffers with the allergy. That change might help. I am not sure how the hon. member for Burlington feels about that.

I agree with the hon. member for Burlington that ground nuts, peanut oil, ground almonds and ground hazelnuts are used in all of these things. Let us face it, they are flavourful, they are tasty and most of us enjoy the products which contain them. That being the case, I would like to express my other thoughts.

I do not think it is a surprise to anyone here that I am very concerned about where we are heading today with our food chain. I am not the only one who has grave concerns. On the weekend I watched three different television programs which dealt with it.

The member for Burlington spoke about informed decisions. That is what I am concerned about. I have two bills before the House. One concerns labelling any product that contains the hormone rbGH or rBST. That means all food products. If Canada starts to use injections of rBST, we will find that our butter, cheese, yogurt and our milk will also contain it. That is one of my major concerns. The other one is that we label any food product which is tampered with genetically. If there is biotechnology involved then it should say so on the label. It does not have to say exactly what it is. That is not necessary. But it must let the consumer know. Why?

Today we have the flavour saver tomato which apparently has a longer shelf life. By tampering with it, we no longer have a tomato as we know it and we do not know what the results of this may be over a long period.

Salmon in B.C. are also being engineered genetically, interestingly enough with fish genes. A scientist who spoke on the weekend said that some of the side effects are that those fish are aggressive feeders. If they are aggressive feeders and are released into the wild, it is not unlikely that we would see the demise of our natural salmon because they are not aggressive feeders.

We are looking at things in canola and soybeans. Vegetarians across the country are very concerned about the soybean which is being tampered with.

When do we as parliamentarians become responsible to our constituents? When do we make ourselves aware of all these changes and do something about it? This is not a light subject. Let me say to every member in the House that this is a very serious subject.

I recently watched "Jurassic Park". I am not a movie goer, but I picked it up on TV this past weekend. It was not very scary to me, but what alarmed me was the suggestion of change in science. The question I am sure everyone got out of that movie was not can we do it, but should we do it? I am suggesting to the House that those of us who feel that the people who are concerned about these things are way to the left had better rethink where they stand. We had better be responsible for these changes, because if as elected members of this legislature we are not responsible, who is? If it is not up to us to let our constituents know when things are happening, who is it up to?

When I came to the House I did not know anything about rBST. I looked into it. People on both sides of the House told me not to worry, that there was nothing to it. Fortunately, I did not stop there. I visited universities. I visited with Professor Joseph Cummins. I took the time to find out about something I did not know about. As a result I found that rBST may be very harmful, and I say it may be.

In the United States the FDA has already approved it. Although a group of Wisconsin farmers is fighting very hard to keep their milk products labelled "no rBST". They are in the courts with this right now. And we have lifted the moratorium in Canada, but is our health body going to say at some time that it is okay to inject our cows?

I read something from Joseph Cummins this morning. He says that such concerns are not as grave as those related to new findings showing that rbGH treatment stimulates the cow to produce insulin like growth hormone, the IGF-1 factor, which stimulates the growth of cells. He says that contrary to official claims, IGF-1 in milk is not destroyed in the human digestive system. Excessive IGF-1 causes a condition called gigantism accompanied by tumours of the colon. Tumours of the colon. Do we treat that lightly? The hormone also prevents programmed cell dealt leading to tumour growth. Insulin resistance leading to diabetes may follow excess IGF-1 exposure.

Ralph Kazer has suggested that IGF-1 exposure at high levels during fetal life and during puberty may imprint the female with abnormal IGF-1 sensitivity. That activity is believed to play a significant role in the development of breast cancer. We all know the number of people who are dying of breast cancer every year in our country. It is suggested that the IGF-1 causes too much cell division at critical times during breast development.

The bill put forward by the hon. member for Burlington is important in the fact that she is telling us of one very serious factor occurring right now in our society. I am suggesting that we cannot look at it in isolation because we are being hit every day with a group of them.

What about safety and health issues in biotechnology? This issue was put forward from Westech Microbes, which was charged with the occupational health and safety in biotechnology.

I wonder if this bill, put forward by the hon. member for Burlington, could be referred to the health committee for further study. There are so many ramifications. As members of a legislature, each one of us must make sure they are dealt with seriously. I thank the Speaker for the time and I thank the member for the bill.

Food And Drugs ActPrivate Members' Business

11:45 a.m.


Bonnie Brown Liberal Oakville—Milton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to support Bill C-309 proposed by my colleague, the member for Burlington.

The debate this morning seems to be revolving around the question of responsibility; that is, who is responsible when a person dies of anaphylactic shock based on a food allergy. The proposer of the bill is suggesting that the responsibility be charged.

I do not think there is any attempt to say that the person with the allergy or that person's parents are trying to shun their responsibility at all. The problem is that in many cases they cannot accept the responsibility fully because they do not have the tools with which to exercise that responsibility.

This bill is simply an attempt to give individuals in our society the tools with which to solve their problem in a responsible way. To that end we have support in the community of 100,000 people who have suggested that indeed they want the collective responsibility of the Government of Canada to be shown through some legislation that would require people who serve food for a living to equip the people with allergies with the information they need.

It is a moderate proposal. The bill is only asking the owners of restaurants to ensure that servers in their restaurants take the questions asked to them by customers seriously. It does not require that every server have all the information about all the ingredients of the food to be served. Rather, it requires that they understand it is a serious question and that they refer the customer to the designated person in the restaurant who has the required information. In all cases it would be only one designated employee. It would be the ingredients based on chemicals and it would not reveal the trade secrets of the merchant. There is no obligation to give amounts, just the content.

A previous speaker asked about statistics. Statistics show that 50 people a year die but there are other victims of these situations when they arise. For example, a responsible restaurateur would want to have such a system in place because the uproar in a restaurant is very distressing to his other clients who are sitting at other tables and to his staff. To be a responsible employer and protect his staff and try to maintain his good reputation with his other customers, it would seem to me that a system, a methodology that would solve this problem quickly and give people the information they want would be advantageous to all.

Of course we have to think about the families of these victims, the secondary victims. One cannot explain the depth of upset when a surprising event like this takes place.

The odd thing about allergies is that not everybody who has one knows. Therefore the onset of an allergic reaction is sometimes a surprise to the victim. Those people who have had odd reactions to medications have experienced this sort of thing.

We know that 35 per cent to 60 per cent of Canadians are avoiding certain foods because of medical reasons. They are acting responsibly once they know.

In summary, this bill deserves support for some basic reasons. We have this ever increasing phenomena of allergies in our society, and 100,000 Canadians are asking that this government fulfil its responsibility by a piece of legislation that would provide the information necessary to the victims.

Food And Drugs ActPrivate Members' Business

11:50 a.m.

Eglinton—Lawrence Ontario


Joe Volpe LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank hon. members who have intervened on this bill. They have expressed some very valid concerns and have raised some very important issues.

I have to ask myself whether there is a perception out there that Health Canada and the Minister of Health are doing nothing. If that is a perception that somehow members and their constituents are labouring under, then perhaps we should dismiss that.

What we want to do is take the opportunity to review some of the activities of the health protection branch of Health Canada and of the Canadian food industry in addressing the problems of food allergies. Health Canada is concerned about food sensitivities, as I believe we all are.

Several years ago the department embarked on a national program of public education on the issue. The program includes issuing information on food allergies through various channels such as the medical profession, the provincial ministries of health and education.

Health Canada has also recognized the importance of consumer education in dealing with allergies and has produced fact sheets on sulphites and monosodium glutamate, known as MSG. These fact sheets are available to the food industry and to consumers. They provide information on what these substances are, why they can be a problem for some people and how consumers can avoid these substances. As I say, they are available to everybody, people in the industry, in restaurants and consumers.

Representatives of Health Canada have consulted with organizations such as the Allergy-Asthma Information Association and the Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology to obtain their input on the extent of the problem of adverse reactions related to food.

Based on the results of these meetings, allergens associated with frequent or severe adverse reactions were identified. Representatives of the health protection branch at Health Canada have consulted with representatives of the food industry and the food service industry about implementing a mechanism to supply the consumer with information on the presence of reaction causing substances.

The seriousness of the problem of adverse reactions was quickly grasped by the food service industry and it began to develop a comprehensive plan to address this issue among its membership. In fact, in November 1991 the Canadian Restaurant and Food Services Association introduced a voluntary program entitled "Allergy Aware". In this program the participating outlets displayed an "Allergy Aware" symbol in their windows and a poster inside the facility explaining the program.

Food And Drugs ActPrivate Members' Business

11:50 a.m.


Paddy Torsney Liberal Burlington, ON

Sometimes employees do not know.

Food And Drugs ActPrivate Members' Business

11:50 a.m.


Joe Volpe Liberal Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

We have not taken a survey of every single employee in every single service industry but maybe the member might want to do that.

Each establishment provides ingredient information through one or more of the following: a food allergy and sensitivity chart, complete ingredient information on three or more main menu items, and/or complete ingredient information on three or more prepackaged meals.

In addition, a senior staff member on each shift is responsible for inquiries from patrons and has direct access to recipes and the kitchen staff.

This program is not just limited to providing information to allergy sufferers. The program also provides information on foods commonly associated with intolerance reactions such as those experienced by some individuals to lactose or gluten. The program has proven to be very popular and has received a considerable degree of approval from the restaurant clientele and individuals with sensitivities. This program is a first in the world and has been acknowledged in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine .

We have taken additional initiatives at Health Canada. They include a contribution to the development of an educational video on the problems of food sensitivities for use in training workers in food service establishments. This contribution entailed financial resources as well as expert advice and spokespersons to appear on the video.

Regulatory amendments have been passed to require the specific identification of peanut oil on prepackaged foods. Amendments have also been proposed to require the label declaration of sulphites on alcoholic beverages.

A third item is Health Canada has established a system of recording adverse reactions to food, food ingredients or food additives. Based on the information available to date it would appear that the incidence of adverse reactions to food in the general population is low. It should be at zero.

Through this recording system the department has been able to identify very specific areas where a regulatory response is appropriate. For instance, due to the potential severity of these adverse reactions to certain allergens such as sulphite, Health Canada has taken action to minimize such reactions in susceptible individuals.

Since salad bars were identified as the major source of adverse reactions to sulphites, Health Canada has amended the regulations to prohibit the use of sulphite on all fresh fruit and vegetables, except grapes, sold or served raw to consumers. Health Canada is supportive of all efforts aimed at alleviating the problems of individuals who have adverse reactions to foods.

The department will continue its educational thrust to assist consumers on the seriousness of such adverse reactions and to offer guidance to affected consumers as well as food operators.

Bill C-309 is intended I think to assist those who are afflicted by sensitivities to food or food ingredients, but we must also bear in mind the wide range of programs and activities already in place. Additionally, we find ourselves in an era when the government is trying to reduce the number of regulations affecting various industries in Canada and we must count the cost any additional regulations may place on the food service industry. While that is legitimate I want to remind all members that Health Canada at no time is going to engage in that kind of activity at the expense of the health of Canadians. It is important that members understand that.

We believe that the programs in place now should be given a chance to develop and produce meaningful results in assisting those who are subject adverse reactions to foods.

Mr. Speaker, I thank you for your attention and for that of the members who have contributed to this debate.

Food And Drugs ActPrivate Members' Business

11:55 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member for Burlington may under our standing orders sum up the debate. She has about three or four minutes to do that.

Food And Drugs ActPrivate Members' Business

11:55 a.m.


Paddy Torsney Liberal Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to make sure that everyone understands that people are asking to take the responsibility themselves. Again, the issue is that they are not being given the tools to take responsibility.

In fact, I have been there many times over many years where people are laughed at or told no, there is no coconut in something when there clearly is coconut in something. This is not a joking matter. It is life and death. Fifty Canadians or more die every year.

The program that the parliamentary secretary has mentioned has been in place for some five years. At the time when it was done the manual said "take this seriously, folks, or we are going to have legislation". Here we are five years later, 250 more dead Canadians at least, and the government is not taking it seriously.

I challenge the parliamentary secretary to go with me to each and every restaurant within five miles of here and I doubt if we could even find one individual who knew that there was an allergy awareness program or knew what it meant. I was talking to a fellow who was serving roast beef. That has nothing to do with nuts. He could not figure out what it meant. This is a serious issue. People are asking for a tool.

I find it ironic, since the most common and the most deadly allergen is peanuts, that the only time the parliamentary secretary mentioned peanuts was with respect to peanut oil in packaged foods. We are talking about restaurants. We are talking about food service establishments which play with our lives each and every day. They are not giving us something we use externally. They are giving us something we use internally. This is serious. Give us the tools to make educated decisions.

Thirty-five per cent to 60 per cent of Canadians today are trying to avoid a substance in their food for a medical reason. It is not for cosmetic purposes. It is not for fun. It is not because they do not like it. It is because it is life threatening.

The parliamentary secretary is right that the minister takes this issue seriously. We are trying to work on additional initiatives together. However, it is not enough and it is not fast enough. Hon. members have an opportunity today to make a change for the benefit of all Canadians.

Restaurant owners must tell their employees that this is a serious issue. They must take it seriously and they must designate an employee or write the ingredients in a binder. The customer must be told: "This is serious. If this is life and death for you, you can make a decision by looking at this information or by checking out these packages".

It is not about disclosing recipes or quantities, it is about finding out if there is a hazelnut in the food or if the food has been near a hazelnut. It is about finding out whether it has been cooked in peanut oil. It is about finding out about sulphates and lactose and gluten, as the parliamentary secretary mentioned. It is about people's lives each and every day. It is about the Christian Taylors of this world who do not have the opportunity to ask those questions and who pay with their lives as a consequence of sometimes uncaring employees or people who do not realize the risks involved.

I ask hon. members once again for unanimous consent to make this a votable item. I would like the government to work in concert with employers and food service establishments across this country in ensuring that consumers have basic information.

We have not even begun to talk about the cost to our health care providers and the medical system to treat these cases. A physician called me to say that three times he has had to bring his child to the emergency ward of the hospital. A physician cannot even get accurate information for his child because restaurant servers do not take the issue seriously. Some of them are working very hard. They have a lot of things to juggle. They have to ensure that the right order gets to the right place. However, there should be someone who can say: "Table No. 6 has a child with a peanut allergy. How do we make sure this poor child does not die while in our restaurant?"

The hon. member for Oakville-Milton was absolutely correct. Surely owners should care whether someone is dying in their establishment. They should care what their patrons think about eating in their establishments. That has not happened.

It is costing money. It is costing lives. It is a simple matter of creating a preventive program which will ensure that people have access to information so they can take responsibility for their own lives.

Again I seek the unanimous consent of the House to make this a votable item. I thank all parties for supporting me in this initiative. Reform members, BQ members and my Liberal colleagues have been supportive in developing this legislation. If this is not made a votable item, even if it is the parliamentary secretary's job to ensure it is not, we can at least know that the public has had an

opportunity to hear more about this very serious issue. Perhaps it will prevent some children and adults from not meeting a horrible fate.

Food And Drugs ActPrivate Members' Business


The Deputy Speaker

The time provided for the consideration of Private Members' Business has now expired, and this item is dropped from the Order Paper.

FinanceGovernment Orders


LaSalle—Émard Québec


Paul Martin Liberalfor the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons


That the House take note of the fifth report of the Standing Committee on Finance presented to the House on Thursday, December 5, 1996.

FinanceGovernment Orders

12:05 p.m.


Jim Peterson Liberal Willowdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to have this opportunity to speak on the basis of our report. I intend to speak on a number of things. First, I will look at Canada's economic record over the last three years. Second, I will look at some of the difficulties we faced as a finance committee in making the difficult decisions needed to make our recommendations for the next budget. I will then go through some of the decisions we did take and then conclude.

Looking back over the last three years, the financial record of the government and the Minister of Finance is truly remarkable. When we took office, Canada's debt was at $500 billion. Combined with the provincial debts of $188 billion, every single Canadian, man, woman and child, owed $24,000.

When we took office the deficit was $42 billion. In his three budgets, the Minister of Finance has taken us from that $42 billion, or 6 per cent of our gross domestic product, down to a figure well below 3 per cent of our gross domestic product. In his economic statement to the House of Commons, the finance minister said that by the year 1998-99, the deficit will be down to 1 per cent of gross domestic product or $9 billion.

When this figure is achieved it will no longer be necessary for the government to borrow from the markets to fund its annual deficit. This will mean that the deficit will be balanced in the eyes of every other country in the world because they go on the basis of financial requirements as opposed to the national accounts that we have pursued.

Part of this has been achieved through low interest rates. Because of the minister's fiscal responsibility, Canada has been able to lower its interest rates 20 times since March 1995. Interest rates have come down by five full percentage points. It started off two and a half percentage points higher than the Americans on the short end. It is now two and a quarter points lower for short term bonds and debt instruments. We are also equal to or less than the Americans going out to 10-year bonds.

Foreign borrowing requirements, which were the highest of the G-7 when we took office, are now being brought under control. This means that a degree of economic sovereignty has been reintroduced into the fiscal process. International financial markets will dictate to us less and less in terms of what Canada can and cannot do. This is so important in giving us the options for the future to set our economic agenda.

Over this period of time economic growth has increased. The Bank of Canada now recognizes that next year the economic growth rate will be 4 per cent or greater. This will be the fastest rate of economic growth of any of the G-7 countries.

In spite of all of this good news, one of the very difficult and agonizing facts of life is that unemployment is still very high at 10 per cent. If members from every side of the House could have one wish, I am sure it would be to see that every Canadian who wants a good job has a good job.

What is our record in spite of this very sobering fact about unemployment? Over the past three years, Canada has created 644,000 net new jobs. This is not to be scoffed at. This is at the same time that the federal and provincial governments have been going through incredible downsizing and unfortunately having to lay off public servants.

When we look at the record of 644,000 new jobs, what has happened in other countries in the world? Those 644,000 new jobs created in Canada is 87,000 jobs more than the four European members of the G-7, more than Germany, England, France and Italy combined over the same period of time.

The growth in jobs in the United States has been about comparable to that of Canada. We still have a huge gap. Therefore the finance committee of the House of Commons asked Professor Andrew Sharpe to come before us because of the work he had done in putting together a number of research papers and economic thinkers in this area.

He explained to us that the Canada-U.S. unemployment gap can be explained as follows. Seventeen per cent of it is definitional because United States does not count passive job seekers. Eight per cent of it is because the U.S. has about four times as many people incarcerated in jails and prisons. Naturally, these are going to be the people with the lower educational levels and the ones who would not likely fit as readily into the job market. That accounts for 25 per cent.

Fifty per cent of it is because of the cyclical weakness in the Canadian economy and the output gap we have vis-à-vis the United States. The remaining 25 per cent, he explained, was largely due to structural differences, namely higher benefits for the unemployed and second, different immigration policies.

We do not take any consolation from this because we realize that what we have to do is get more and more Canadians back to work. This has to be our major priority and preoccupation.

How can we best do this? We are seeing how the low interest rates are now creating incredible benefits for Canadians. We are seeing how the decrease in interest rates have resulted in a saving to a homeowner on a $100,000 mortgage of $3,600 a year.

We have seen how this decrease in interest has resulted in a decrease in the cost to a person buying a car on time of $525 a year. That is a $15,000 car. This decline in interest rates has resulted in savings to a business person who is borrowing $1 million a year of $34,000.

It is critical to the economic progress, to the increase in the growth rate and to job creation to maintain a course of monetary and fiscal policy that will ensure low interest rates. Nothing can do more to help create jobs in the future.

Over this period of time we have been in office, the Minister of Finance has had a record of achievement unparalleled in my generation not only in terms of the things I have talked about but in meeting his deficit targets and reintroducing a sense of credibility into the office of the Minister of Finance.

In the past, deficit targets had not been met. They never were. They were done on a five year rolling target basis where governments typically put off the difficult decisions until the fourth and fifth years. On the other hand, our minister has stuck to the two year rolling targets and in every year has not only met his deficit target but has surpassed it. His last deficit target of some $32 billion for 1995-96 he surpassed by more than $4 billion.

We in the Finance committee had to deal with the issue of what we do now that we are in a surplus position vis-a-vis our deficit targets. We had three alternatives. One was to use these surpluses to further reduce the deficit and eventually perhaps start to pay down our enormous and growing debt load.

The second one which many people called for was to introduce at this time a major tax cut. We had many suggestions as to what the tax cut should be.

A third option, urged on us by many, was to increase expenditure programs. One big item where we were called upon to increase expenditures, including by the official opposition, was in transfer payments to provinces.

We wrestled with all the options that were open to us and we felt that on balance we have come up with an approach which is balanced. We must above all else continue to finish the job of meeting and surpassing our deficit targets. But because we do have a little room to manoeuvre and subject to an update of economic circumstances before the next budget, we have suggested targeting six different areas. Those selected target areas were selected based on our Canada wide consultations, listening to Canadians and hearing their priorities, and also as members of Parliament listening to what we have heard in our constituencies and from our own colleagues.

The six areas we have chosen to target for action in the forthcoming budget, all within the context of finishing the jobs we have started, are the following.

First, children and poverty. We have suggested that the working income supplement might be increased in order to target the children of the working poor. Families that are among the working poor, as we heard before our committee, often have benefits of $3,000 a year less than those who are on social welfare. This creates the welfare wall, a disincentive for those on social welfare benefits to go into the workplace.

Second, we have targeted Canadians with disabilities. Over the past number of years, decades, the benefits going to those with a disability have eroded mainly because of the lack of indexation.

A wonderful job was done by the hon. member for Fredericton-York-Sunbury and his task force in identifying the increased cost that people who have a disability suffer simply because of that disability, increased costs which can prevent them from becoming active members of Canada's economy. We have called for modest measures to help recognize the added costs of those with disabilities.

Third is the area of literacy. We were shocked to learn in our deliberations that 42 per cent of Canadians do not possess the literacy skills necessary to deal with basic reading material such as newspapers. Even more shocking, only 22 per cent of Canadians have the highest literacy skills which are required in the new knowledge based economy of the future.

We owe a great deal of credit to Senator Joyce Fairbairn who established the Secretariat for Literacy which mobilizes thousands upon thousands every year to deal with this issue of literacy. We have called for substantial increases in its small budget which is only $22.3 million.

Fourth, we have asked that consideration be given to helping students who are bearing highly increased costs to get their own education. We have suggested three income tax measures which could help recognize the increased costs of tuition and attending a post-secondary institution.

Fifth, one of the great reasons that we have this huge unemployment gap with the United States is, as Dr. Andrew Sharpe pointed out, the problem of our output. It is basically a question of productivity. Since the 1980s Canadian productivity has not gone up and this is the major reason for our high unemployment.

One of the reasons we have not had this increase in productivity is that Canada does not fare well by international standards when it comes to our level of research and development. We feel it is important to target research and development and science and technology at this time. We have called for three different measures.

The first is to renew the program which funds the Networks of Centres of Excellence. According to George Connell, who appeared before us, this program for the Networks of Centres of Excellence is the most effective instrument yet discovered for capturing the benefits of academic research for the advantage of the Canadian economy; universities and businesses collaborating on a nationwide basis to apply our basic research and get it commercialized.

Second, we have called for increases to Canada's three granting councils. These are the Medical Research Council, the humanities council and the NSERC, the engineering council and science and council. They grant moneys to post-secondary graduate students in our universities to help them do their research on a post-doctrine basis. It is one of the most effective programs we have for ensuring that we have highly educated people here in Canada who do stay here to do their graduate work and hopefully afterward.

Third, we have called for a new type of infrastructure program.

Infrastructure one was good. Six billion dollars was mobilized in the three levels of government to replace wasting infrastructure at the municipal level. This was a concrete and mortar type of program. We of course cannot afford that type at this time.

We have said we should have a new type of infrastructure investment in our future going into our research and development facilities of our universities, hospitals and other research institutions. The Government of Canada would put up one-third and another one-third could come from the other levels of government or the private sector. This is the type of infrastructure that would

create short term jobs during the building, yes, but even more important, it would give rise to an expanded base for R and D in Canada and the creation of those long term jobs which conduce to our productivity and our economic future.

The sixth area where we have asked the government to target in the next budget is the voluntary and charitable sectors. We have had enormous cutbacks over the past three years. We realize that many Canadians have seen their programs diminished. Many Canadians have suffered as a result of that. We take no joy in that.

However, at the same time, we have seen a renewed commitment by the voluntary sector to help make this a better and stronger country. Over six million Canadians every year volunteer their time and efforts to help their fellow Canadians. This amounts to about a billion hours of contribution in terms of work. That is the equivalent of 617,000 full time workers or 5 per cent of all jobs in Canada.

FinanceGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.

An hon. member

At what salary?

FinanceGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.


Jim Peterson Liberal Willowdale, ON

At zero salary, contributing their knowledge, their time and their efforts to help their fellow Canadians.

At the government level we have had to cut back because of economic necessity. We are now calling on the government to increase the tax incentives available for charitable donations in order to help these voluntary organizations and charitable agencies. They impact so vigorously on the lives of each one of us.

We have looked at a number of proposals. We have 10 recommendations. Some are designed to help the major foundations and our major institutions in health and the arts get some endowment funding, but they also apply right down to the United Way and the smaller charities; enhanced tax incentives which we believe will not be costly but will help to mobilize the funds to enable the voluntary and charitable sectors to do those thing which government no longer can do.

Having discussed these six priorities, children in poverty, the disabled, literacy, students, research and development and the charitable and voluntary sectors, let me go back to talk a little about our tax levels in general. There were many people who came before us and told us that we had to reduce their payroll taxes and income taxes.

Since 1980 Canada's overall level of taxation in relation to the size of our economy has gone up about 20 per cent, whereas in the United States it has remained fairly constant. Overall now we are about in the middle of the G-7 countries in spending, with 35.4 per cent of our GDP coming from taxes. In the United States, however, this figure is 27.6 per cent, 30 per cent lower than in Canada. This is the group we have to compete with because 80 per cent of our trade and investment is with the Americans.

When we look at the individual taxes, in Canada our personal income tax rates are 13.4 per cent of GDP whereas in the United States they are 9.8 per cent. We are significantly higher in terms of personal taxes. In terms of corporate taxes, our level is just the same, 2.5 per cent of GDP. In terms of payroll taxes, we are actually below where the Americans are. We are at 6.1 per cent of GDP and they are at 7 per cent.

With respect to the necessity for being competitive in terms of job creation, our corporate taxes are comparable to those in the United States in terms of overall levels and our payroll taxes are actually lower. This is one of the reasons we cannot conclude at this time that we actually need a cut in payroll taxes in order to be competitive. What we have done-

FinanceGovernment Orders

12:30 p.m.


Jim Silye Reform Calgary Centre, AB

Their taxes are 30 per cent lower.

FinanceGovernment Orders

12:30 p.m.


Jim Peterson Liberal Willowdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will be happy to talk to the hon. member from Calgary afterward and respond to his concerns. I am always delighted to hear from him.

Look at what we have already done in terms of payroll taxes even though we have a lower level of payroll taxes than the United States. Since we have been in office, we have taken six major reductions in those payroll taxes.

We reduced the statutory formula which would have taken us from $3 to $3.30 and we held it at $3. We reduced the rate from $3 to $2.95 in 1996. Just recently the minister announced that it was going from $2.95 to $2.90. Every time we reduce it a nickel, it costs us $350 million. We reduced the maximum insurable earnings from $875 to $750, again for monstrous savings. In December 1995 we gave premium relief for small businesses and we extended that again last year. The sum of these six reductions has been to reduce payroll taxes by some $4 billion since we have come to office.

We recognize there is a surplus building in terms of employment insurance. We recognized that but we said that because of our priorities in order to be competitive we do not have to further reduce the payroll taxes or the corporate taxes because when we combine them they are already lower than those in the United States.

Where we have really high levels is in terms of our personal income taxes. We heard from the scientific community and the high tech community how these high levels of taxes in Canada are hurting us. We have heard, and the finance critic for the Reform Party has mentioned this many times, that Canadians with an income over $50,000 constitute 10 per cent of tax filers but they pay 50 per cent of the taxes. We also heard that a single wage earner earning $6,500 is also on the tax rolls.

Our priority as a committee was to say that because our personal income taxes are out of line, in the future when we might be able to afford cuts, which we cannot afford today and we did not

recommend them for today, our priority for tax cuts would be in terms of personal income taxes. What did we recommend in our majority report? Apart from targeting the six priority areas I mentioned, we called for minor tax reductions.

Again this year as last year we called for income averaging for people whose income fluctuates significantly from year to year and they suffer a tax penalty, people such as artists and writers. We have called for extending the deduction for medical and dental benefits to those who are self-employed. We called for abolishing the tax on jewellery, the 10 per cent excise tax and we looked at some other measures such as ones dealing with heritage property and the high cost of mechanics tools for those who are required to purchase them before they can get a job in a garage.

We called for tax increases as we did last year in terms of tobacco. We want those taxes on tobacco products to go up just as quickly and as often as circumstances relating to smuggling will permit. We know it is a deterrent to the iniquities of smoking. We have called for a tax on lotteries, a 15 per cent withholding tax on winnings from government run lotteries of anything over $600, as we did last year. We have also asked that the government consider a few other measures.

We recognize that big businesses are not going to be the job creators of the future in Canada. Job creation will largely fall on our small and medium size enterprises. We are still concerned about the role of our financial institutions in providing financing for small business start-up, equity and operating capital. We are pleased to note that this year, due largely to blandishments from the Minister of Finance and from the industry committee, the banks have taken very seriously their role of providing funding to small businesses. I compliment the banks on the number of steps they have taken in this area.

We have seen a tremendous blossoming of the labour sponsored venture capital fund. There is now $3 billion available to help small businesses get started, to expand and create jobs. We urge those who cannot get money from traditional lenders to take a look at this fund.

We are pleased that the business development bank has extra capital of $350 million. We were pleased that a group we recognized last year, the Calmeadow foundation, under the leadership of Martin Connell has increased its efforts to lend money to the small entrepreneur. We call it micro lending. It is for the person who needs $3,000 or $5,000 to get into a business. We commend these efforts and the steps taken in concert with our financial institutions to try to institutionalize this type of initiative, to take it beyond just the simple efforts of Calmeadow. This means co-operation with the banks.

Our finance committee recognized in its report on financial institutions which was tabled in this House in October, that it would be very helpful to consumers and small and medium size businesses if we increased competition. We have asked that Canada's doors be opened wide to foreign lending institutions, that the administrative barriers be removed. This will help meet the future needs of our small businesses.

We have also said that one of the biggest bangs for the buck we can get is through encouraging foreign direct investment in Canada. We recommended this last year and the government has taken steps. I understand there are now about 15 individuals working directly on this.

Studies done by KPMG Peat Marwick Thorne and others have shown that cities right across Canada have a competitive edge over American cities as places for new foreign direct investment. We have to get this message out to the big companies and investors right around the world. We recommend expanding these efforts to attract direct foreign investment in Canada which would create jobs here. We have such an incredible product to sell.

We heard from many Canadians, not just those in the voluntary and charitable sectors, who are making a tremendous difference in the lives of Canadians. There is one person in particular who came before us, Mr. Charles Pielsticker from Toronto.

A couple of years ago Mr. Pielsticker realized that business was not getting involved with our educational institutions so he formed the Learning Partnership which is funded basically by business contributions. It is doing many things, for example taking kids to work for a day, which involves hundreds of thousands of kids and their parents; and having volunteers work with teachers in public schools to help them teach science. This type of thing is all done on a voluntary basis.

A woman who is doing the same type of thing also appeared before us. It is another voluntary organization which teaches science to teachers to make it particularly interesting for their students. Again, it was another volunteer driven organization. We commend these people for the type of leadership they are giving us.

We heard considerable cries for Canada to increase the payments for transfers to the provinces. This came from the official opposition. Part of the cutbacks we have had to do unfortunately fell in the areas of post-secondary education, health care and helping those who are on welfare. Like everything, they had to be cut or we would not have got to our targets.

It was our finance committee having listened to Canadians a year and a half ago said that we cannot cut all the cash transfers, we have to have a minimum cash base in order that we can as a federal government ensure the five principles of the Canada Health Act are adhered to. We saw how the Minister for Human Resources Development went across the country talking to his provincial counterparts to try to get agreement on the principles that underlie

the CHST to the provinces, the transfers for health care, welfare and post-secondary education.

As Judith Maxwell who appeared before our committee said, we can no longer impose these federal standards unilaterally. We have to work in dialogue and in co-operation with the provinces. This is what she called the management of our interdependence. We encourage the government in its efforts to do this. This is so important, particularly in terms of the Canada Health Act because we all know that health is critical to Canadians but good health is also good for our economic future.

Tax harmonization was an incredible theme we heard going right back to the summer when we met with people working with the task force headed by Dr. Jack Mintz. He was appointed by the minister to look at our business taxation to see if it was competitive.

We heard in testimony before us how one corporation with four affiliates had to file 1,100 pages of tax returns. This is insane. Why should we have provincial and federal income tax, capital taxes, sales taxes, excise taxes and different payroll deductions, different administrations, different tax laws and different enforcement officers going in?

Canadians said: "We are only 30 million, we cannot afford it as taxpayers. We cannot afford it as companies that have to comply. Get your act together. You are politicians. You can agree on similar harmonized laws in all these areas. We expect you to. We expect nothing less of you. We do not want these petty jurisdictional turf wars". This is why we want a national securities commission. Why do we need 11 or 13 different jurisdictions dealing with securities in this country?

We heard from Canada's cultural industries. Our cultural industries employ one million Canadians. They contribute $30 billion to our gross domestic product. One of the wonderful things about people who are artists, performers or whatever, is that they do not need high paying jobs. They have found ways to cope and to supplement their income. To create a new job in the arts costs only $20,000. But these are the people who give us a raison d'etre for being Canadian. They are the ones that give us the heart and soul of what we are. We cannot do without our culture.

We encourage the government to look at a number of the measures we have suggested. In particular, we feel that the recommendation for vastly enhanced tax incentives for charitable donations are the ones which will impact very directly on the cultural industries and will give them the multi-year stable funding they need in order to plan for the future.

In closing, I would like to thank all members of the committee from all parties who worked so co-operatively. I thank the incredible staff of the House of Commons who arranged the meetings, the researchers, the person who advises on the text, Mr. David Abbott, people in our offices who worked with us.

Mostly I would like to thank Canadians. The last three to four years have not been easy. We have had to cut back in order to restore fiscal health and to protect the programs and the way of life which we consider to be so important. It is Canadians who have had their programs cut and have been the ones who have suffered. They have borne with us and shown a fortitude, an acceptance and a generosity of spirit toward their fellow Canadians and toward one another in sharing the burden we have imposed.

We must not detract from the overall goal of keeping on a sound monetary and fiscal track so the deficit targets are met and surpassed. In the meantime, because we have exceeded those targets to such a great extent, we believe it is good for the economic future but it is fundamental that we make some strategic investments at this time. These investments will introduce greater fairness into the system and are critical for a vigorous economic future. I am talking about investments in disadvantaged children and those with disabilities, in literacy, in students, in research and development and charitable and voluntary sectors.

I thank members for their indulgence and I look forward to the debate.