Motion No. 3
That Bill C-11, in Clause 20, be amended by replacing lines 8 to 16, on page 6, with the following:
"20. For the purpose of facilitating the formulation, coordination and implementation of any program or policy relating to the powers, duties and functions referred to in section 6, the Minister may enter into an agreement with an agency of a province, after obtaining the approval of the lieutenant governor in council of the province, and may enter into agreements with a province or group of provinces, financial institutions and such other persons or bodies, other than an agency of the province, as the Minister considers appropriate."
Madam Speaker, we are now on group no. 2, Motion No. 3, an amendment to clause 20. The clause as presently written gives the federal government the power to bypass provincial governments, giving grants and so on the emanations of these governments, without first seeking approval of the provincial governments. This is unacceptable. The minister should not be able to circumvent provincial governments.
If this government believes in decentralization, as it says it does, it should be willing to consult with provincial governments rather than be involved in asking for legislation which allows it to give provincial governments the bypass.
Under such a clause the minister may choose to privatize or to contract out certain human resources department services. If this is to happen it should happen in direct relation to provincial governments, not leave open a door to go to some other agencies. Power should go directly to provincial governments and not through a roundabout route to one of these agencies as the bill would allow.
Therefore my amendment would change clause 20 to read:
For the purpose of facilitating the formulation, co-ordination and implementation of any program or policy relating to the powers, duties and functions referred to in section 6, the minister may enter into an agreement with an agency of a province, after obtaining the approval of the lieutenant governor in council of the province, and may enter into agreements with a province or group of provinces, financial institutions and such other persons or bodies, other an an agency of the province, as the minister considers appropriate.
I believe this amendment is a reasonable compromise. Is it not? The federal government has direct input into the lieutenant governors of each province. Surely consulting them is not too much to ask. I believe again this is more than a reasonable compromise.
I also believe the government is misleading Canadians and not dealing honestly with the provinces. I remind the government of a recent visit by the new minister of human resources to metro Toronto. The minister bypassed the provincial government, went straight to an agency or a group and announced a $4 million grant to child care. What is the federal government saying to the provinces? "We will give you less in transfer payments, but we still
want to look like the good guys so we will independently bypass provincial governments and play Santa Clause. Rather than work with our provincial governments, we will portray them in a very poor light. We will portray them as Scrooge".
Even worse, the appropriate minister involved in the Ontario government, Mr. Tsubouchi, did not even know about this. He read the announcement in the newspapers.
The government is always making great noise about how it works with the provinces, how it gets along so well and how it discusses things. I wonder if Mr. Tsubouchi would agree.
This clause, which allows the minister to bypass negotiating with the provinces for services delivery and enables him to deal with lower level agencies, should be changed. We are not asking for anything unreasonable from the government. The lieutenant governor is very closely associated with the federal government. This is most reasonable. This a compromise we could work together.
The Reform Party wants to work with the government when it can. If the government has legislation we feel is good, we will work to pass it. If it is legislation we feel needs to be amended, we will work to amend it and still pass it. The government must show that it too is willing to work with the elected representatives of the people of Canada. To date we have not seen that in the House.
As it stands, this clause amounts to a federal tax grab, a power grab, if you will. We believe power should be left in the hands of the provinces. This clause allows the government to avoid dealing directly with provincial governments, especially those that may not be sympathetic to some federal initiatives. Therein lies the problem. I do not think the government is being honest. If there is a problem with some governments, and it knows ahead of time that the governments may opposed federal initiatives, this is one way it can get around that problem. I do not think that is being honest. It is something we should address and the compromise addresses it.
If the government is adamant that it does not have this intention and that they are more than willing to work with all provincial governments, not worried that some provincial governments may disagree with it and therefore not go ahead with the legislation, all it has to do is go along with the Reform Party on this good amendment. Go along with the compromise and show provincial governments that it does trust them and that it does want to work with them and that it will not attempt to bypass them in such a shoddy method.