House of Commons Hansard #34 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.


Canadian Association Of Former Parliamentarians Act

10 a.m.


Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, I believe the House would give its unanimous consent to the following. I move:

That a Bill entitled "An Act establishing the Canadian Association of Former Parliamentarians" be now deemed adopted at all stages without debate or amendment.

Canadian Association Of Former Parliamentarians Act

10 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is there unanimous consent?

Canadian Association Of Former Parliamentarians Act

10 a.m.

Some hon. members


Canadian Association Of Former Parliamentarians Act

10 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Consequently, the bill is deemed read for the first time and ordered to be printed, read the second time and referred to committee of the whole, deemed reported without amendment, deemed passed at report stage, read the third time and passed.

(Motion agreed to.)

The House resumed from Thursday, April 25, consideration of the motion that Bill C-31, an act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 6, 1996, be read the second time and referred to a committee, and the amendment and the amendment to the amendment.

Budget Implementation Act, 1996Government Orders

10 a.m.


Marlene Catterall Liberal Ottawa West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have an opportunity to talk about the budget bill which is before us today.

The budget is very much about preserving the future for Canadians. A major thrust is preserving our social programs and particularly the pension plans which have done so much to alleviate poverty among the elderly and provide Canada's seniors with a safe and secure retirement from an economic point of view. We want to make sure that we are able to continue to offer that same sense of security to today's young people when they are retired.

The budget is also about preserving economic opportunities for Canadians, with a very heavy emphasis on enhancing trade opportunities, removing internal trade barriers as well as getting more Canadians out there in the international marketplace trading, producing jobs and economic prosperity here at home.

It is about recognizing that the knowledge industries are where the job opportunities of the future will be and investing strategically what limited resources we have in those areas of technology that we think offer the greatest potential.

We promised Canadians that we would deliver efficient, effective government. We have done that through putting Canada's economic and fiscal position in a much better state and moving toward a balanced budget and eventually debt reduction. We have done it with no tax rate increases at all in this budget. In fact, in the last three budgets there has not been an increase in personal tax rates.

Part of the plan has been smaller, more effective, more affordable government, to look at what we do as a government, to look at how we do it and to look at how we can do it better. Part of that has been examining the best ways to deliver services. Some measures involve privatization and the setting up of special agencies which will operate in a much tighter and more accountable way.

Part has simply been to stop doing things that we felt government no longer needed to do and sorting out with the provinces what is their proper area of activity and what is ours, especially in those areas of government endeavour where there is overlap and duplication between the two levels of government.

As we have been going through this change there is no question at all that it has had a significant impact on employees, many of them my constituents. The fundamental principles, as we have gone through this period of change and as we continue through it, is to be fair to employees, to make changes in a way that will be less disruptive to them, to their lives, to their careers and to their families.

I want to put a few comments on the record on areas where we have achieved that with some success because some comments were made in the House yesterday that did not quite accurately reflect things that have been done and things that are planned. When my colleague from the Reform Party, the hon. member for

St. Albert spoke, I hope he was ill-informed and was not being mischievous with the facts of the situation.

I will put on the record a couple of facts that may correct some misapprehensions arising from his speech yesterday. He talked about air navigational service employees. It is important to know these employees will receive their severance pay when they move to NavCan. The employer has respected the collective agreement which was in place at the time the agreement was signed. Subsequent negotiations have occurred on the treatment of employees who will be affected by alternative delivery mechanisms, some of which I have mentioned.

The majority of public service unions, although not those representing the majority of employees, agreed to changes in the collective agreement such that severance payments will not be made at the time of transfer, but the liability for that severance payment will be transferred to the new employer when the collective agreement is transferred through successor rights.

This agreement with the unions was conditional on the government introducing successor rights through amendments to the Public Service Staff Relations Act and the Canada Labour Code. While one of the public service unions does not agree, I can only say to those unions which were involved in concluding this agreement that they bargained well for their members.

I know the kinds of things they achieved for their members and this is one measure that would not have been accomplished without their involvement and without their working and fighting very hard for their members. The government has honoured its commitments to the 13 unions that did sign this agreement by introducing these amendments and legislating them in Bill C-31.

During question period yesterday, the member for St. Albert, the Reform critic for human resources, pointed out the difference in treatment of these workers with air navigation services and other employees with respect to severance pay. The hon. member also commented that the introduction of successor rights in budget legislation seems to be the employer's way of avoiding negotiating with its union on each transfer case.

Our employees want to know exactly where they stand when new arrangements come into place. I believe their unions have bargained well for them and have provided the kind of security that anybody in a climate of significant change in their place of work would want to have. I do not want to get into the details of that issue, but this is a continuation of our commitment to the employees to change government without drastically altering their lives.

I am pleased to note that the budget has announced that the Public Sector Compensation Act, which froze federal government wages for five of the past six years, is due to expire in 1997. The act will expire as planned. It was introduced under the previous government. We have let it run its course but we do not intend to renew or extend it. We intend to get back to collective bargaining with our employees.

We are also reinstating this June the normal process of increments and performance pay for government employees. There is no question that our fellow citizens who work for the Government of Canada have borne a major portion of the cost of starting to restore fiscal order to Canada's house.

I hope this return to collective bargaining and the way in which the reduction of employment in the public service has been handled has been a signal to them that we value and respect the work they do. I hope they are looking forward, as the government is, to a return to collective bargaining.

No budget is perfect, no piece of legislation is perfect. However, this legislation represents a reasonable balance of many of the objectives we are trying to accomplish.

Budget Implementation Act, 1996Government Orders

10:15 a.m.


Keith Martin Reform Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure today to speak on the budget implementation bill. I would not be standing here speaking today if this government and previous governments had done their jobs.

The situation we find ourselves in today is a very serious one indeed. It compromises the lives of every Canadian, every social program and not only the lives of Canadians today but the lives of Canadians tomorrow.

Today we see, through the budget implementation bill, the facts. The government is having to borrow on the futures of children of today and tomorrow to pay for what it is spending today.

Three years ago we gave the government our zero in three plan. It was a definitive, specific plan to get Canada's economic house in order. It told the government where to cut, how to cut and how much to cut. It was not some nebulous plan, not some mythological plan, but a highly specific plan to get Canada's house in order. What did the government do? It ignored it. It ignores it at its peril.

The finance minister has repeatedly said "we will stay the course because we are doing just fine. Don't worry, Mr. and Mrs. Public, Canada is doing just fine with out economics. The Liberal government has a hold on things. We are in control. We are staying the course".

Staying the course for what, so the Canadian economy can run head first into a brick wall? That is not a course the Canadian public wants to take. It is not a course it wants for its future or the future of its children.

We have solutions. We put them forth. I implore the government once again to look at the zero in three plan so that we do not need to bring forth budget implementation plans.

We have been accused many times by the government and by members of the public of being a slash and burn party. I would like to refute once and for all that the Reform Party is the slash and burn party. We are the only political party that has the plan to save social programs in Canada. It flies in the face of conventional wisdom. It flies in the face of what has been put forth by members across the way. Those are the facts, and I will explain why.

The single greatest compromise to social programs is the inability to get our fiscal house in order. Why is that so? When we were first elected three years ago, one-quarter of all the money the government spent went to interest. It went to service the $550 billion debt which saddles all of us. It is our responsibility.

Today because of government overspending, because of repeated deficit spending, we have added to the national debt. I am speaking only to the federal debt. Provincial and municipal debts are another matter. We have added to the federal debt and the interest payments have increased.

Imagine the pie once again; one-quarter three years ago and today that number has moved around to about 35 per cent of that pie. As time passes the amount of the pie to be eaten up and eroded by interest payments will increase. It will swallow up the ability of this government or any government to spend on education, on health care, on welfare, on pensions; in short, to provide for those people who need our justifiably laudable social programs.

It compromises not the rich, but those who are poorest. One thing we pride ourselves on as Canadians is our ability to take care of those who are less fortunate than ourselves. It is in a sense a defining aspect of being Canadian.

Therefore it is the inability to get control of government spending, the inability to get our deficit to zero and attack the true ogre in this equation, the debt, which compromises our social programs and our economy. If interest payments rise, the amount of interest will increase, greatly impeding the ability of the government to provide those things we hold dear, things Canadians rely on.

It also crushes the life out of the economy. Why? Repeated deficit spending and the debt force us to have higher relative interest rates than other countries.

There was a superb article which looked at relative interest rates compared with other countries. Although our interest rates are apparently low, the real interest rates are some of the highest in the world. It is those interest rates that compromise the ability of our companies to invest and spend. They also compromise the ability of Canadians to spend because of the relatively high tax rate on Canadians in order to service the debt.

There is a terrible vicious circle and the only way to break it, save our social programs and kick start the economy and get people back to work, provide for education and for a stronger economy is to bring the debt down.

The finance minister has said they are doing a great job, contrary to what the International Monetary Fund said at the end of last year. It gave a stern warning to the finance minister: "Stay the course and your country will hit the wall. The budget projections are completely inadequate. You must upgrade them in order to have a strong economy for Canadians in the future".

We in the Reform Party have absolutely no desire to compromise social programs for the poor. The reason many of us here gave up good careers and a comfortable lifestyle was to get Canada back on track. There is a narrow window of opportunity to do that. As time passes it will be increasingly more difficult to get the country back on track.

The failure to address the problem today will produce the biggest compromise Canadians have seen in the last 75 years. Solutions are there. We have provided them. I say to the government that its failure to ignore this will imperil Canadians from coast to coast. Its failure will show up at the next election. I implore members to work with us and use some of our ideas. We do not have all the answers but a lot of them are backed up by Canadians through our grassroots process. Use the ideas. Do not just talk about them repeatedly. Do not study them again for the 100th time. Put them into effect and take action on the problem now.

During the election campaign the Liberals told the Canadian people they would abolish the GST, knowing full well it is a financial and economic impossibility. Now they are doing a mea culpa and eating crow. Some members volunteered to give up their seats if the GST were not abolished. They know full well they could not get rid of it. It think it is reprehensible that they have pulled the wool over the eyes of Canadian taxpayers by this myth, this illusion that they will get rid of the GST.

The harmonization process they are proposing to the Canadian people that will somehow get rid, eliminate or decrease the GST is another illusion put forth by the magicians across the way, bad magicians at that.

The harmonization process is nothing but a gerrymandering of dollar figures. It is inequitable and unfair to Canadians outside the maritime provinces. They are asking the rest of Canada to give $1 billion to the maritime provinces. Furthermore, the maritime provinces do not accept harmonization because they know it will cost them more at the counter, particularly the poor and the middle

class. As well, the tax base will broaden to include essentials. The rich will not suffer; the poor and the middle class will suffer.

The government should take a long, hard look at harmonization. The public will not accept it, which the government will find out at the next election.

Economically it is fundamentally wrong. There are good solutions. The government must control spending and decrease taxes. Once it has decreased the debt it can lower the GST rate. That is the responsible thing to do.

The debt and the deficit will not go away by themselves. Strong leadership is required. The budget implementation act will not solve the problem. However, using the solutions we have suggested will solve the problem.

Budget Implementation Act, 1996Government Orders

10:25 a.m.


Brent St. Denis Liberal Algoma, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to join my colleagues in a few words about Bill C-31 and the related issues of the March 6 budget.

The hon. member for Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca made much about his party's commitment to a zero deficit in three years, the so-called zero in three program. We heard a lot about that when the Reform Party introduced it. However, this year as preparations were being made for the federal budget the promised Reform Party alternative budget never materialized. We really have to ask ourselves whether zero in three has gone by the boards. The program should be renamed zero in one. If the Reform Party continues to behave as it has recently, in one year there will be zero members of the Reform Party in the House.

We are here to work together for all Canadians. We understand the cut and thrust of Parliament and the need to criticize, but that criticism must be fair. It must not be designed to confuse people so they do not know where a party is going.

Good government can be best exemplified by the historical expertise this party has brought to government in Canada. We have the best country in the world. The Prime Minister has said that many times. I have said that many times. My constituents know we have the best country in the world.

In December I spent a few days in Russia observing the parliamentary elections to the duma. I can confirm that even though that great superpower has an important political place in the world, few of us would choose to live there or in many other countries. Canada is a beautiful country, built on the honest effort of people around the world who believe that working together and co-operating is the only way to build a country. I dare say to my colleagues across the way that we have the best country in the world because we have had good government for most of the past century. For that I think we should thank the Liberal Party of Canada and the excellent leadership it has provided.

Good government is not perfect government. During the next election campaign I will be questioned on certain matters but I know I will be able to stand proud in front of my constituents and say that we did a good job in this last term. We did not do a perfect job but I suggest that nobody could do a perfect job. Anybody who said they could do a perfect job would be attempting to pull the wool over the eyes of voters. We have done a very, very good job.

Our approach to the problem of getting Canada's deficit in hand has been very responsible and reasonable. We have not done it on the backs of middle and low income Canadians. We have not done it on the backs of those who can least afford it. We have provided a transitional means of cutting back on federal expenditures. It is our commitment to have the federal deficit down to 2 per cent of GDP by the end of fiscal year 1997-98 which literally is just around the corner. We will have achieved that without putting the country in a state of confusion and uproar.

The Minister of Finance reminded us in his budget speech that we went into our mandate with four very key principles or areas of concern.

The first is to secure our financial future which means that we provide stability for those in the business sector who must plan for the future. We provide stability for Canadians who unfortunately find themselves out of work, who must themselves plan for the future. In so doing we have introduced the employment insurance legislation. As they study it more and more, Canadians will find it is the right answer to the dilemma this country is facing as far as balancing the need to protect those who are unemployed against those who are able to work but who must be more able to respond to the changing workplace.

The second major principle we must pursue is to secure our social programs, and Canadians agree with us on this point. Another signal or sign of a good government is one that does not sacrifice in this process those least able to take care of themselves: the handicapped, single parent families, those who find themselves at the lower end of the economic scale, those who are disadvantaged for one reason or another. These people will not be forgotten under a Liberal government. Other parties might not be able to accomplish what we have been able to accomplish thus far in this regard.

The third key area the finance minister outlined in his budget is investment in the future. This is where we recognize the importance of high technology for the future of this country and for the future of the world. We must not only engage business and all

Canadians in general, but more specifically our young people who find themselves facing a workplace that has changed drastically. It changes dramatically year by year.

When I graduated from engineering school more than a few years ago there were jobs for all the graduates. The world of work was more stable, more predictable. One could expect to be with a company for their full career. It is the nature of the world that this has changed. With the flow of information, the vast improvement in the availability of high technology and the fact that these things change almost every week, it is true that graduates now must be flexible, adaptable and prepared for a workplace that will require them to learn throughout the rest of their lives. Our young people are prepared for that and it is our job to assist them in their preparation.

The fourth significant area, which is the subject of Bill C-31 which we are debating today, is getting government right. I remind my hon. colleagues across the way that my constituents, and I am sure Canadians from coast to coast, in expecting good government do not expect perfect government.

As the Prime Minister outlined the other day, we have already completed three-quarters of our campaign commitments. I would expect that by the next election call we will have nearly completed the balance of those commitments.

I look forward to standing in front of my constituents during the next election campaign at various all-candidates meetings and saying that we accomplished the vast majority of our campaign commitments and the only reason we did not complete the others was that the opposition parties would not allow us to do so or the province of Ontario would not allow us to do so. I will be able to say that the Reform Party was full square behind the idea of harmonizing the GST and the provincial sales tax but it made so much to do about the issue it made it more difficult for us to get the agreements with the provinces. It gave Canadians the wrong impression about where we were going.

This is a good government for Canada.

Budget Implementation Act, 1996Government Orders

10:35 a.m.


Antoine Dubé Bloc Lévis, QC

Mr. Speaker, my turn has come to speak on Bill C-31, and I will be better able to concentrate on my speech as soon as I have some quiet.

This bill is aimed at privatizing certain services and gives the government the opportunity to dispose of rail stock. It makes minor changes to the old age pension-until the real thing comes along in five years-provides for the Canada social transfer, in other words it combines three transfer programs to the provinces into one. Of course, it will be transferring cuts to them at the same time. It gives more power to the Minister of Industry and it modifies the Student Loans Act. But mainly, the bill enables the Minister of Finance to give $963 million in compensation to the Atlantic provinces in exchange for harmonization of the GST.

My colleague, the finance critic for the Bloc Quebecois, has addressed this at length, so I shall concentrate my remarks mainly on unemployment insurance.

So Friday has arrived, the end of the week, and what a week we have had here in the House. A rather special week, since the government imposed two gag orders, the first on Bill C-31, on which we are speaking today, and the second on the committee stage of Bill C-12 on unemployment insurance, in the human resources development committee. But Bill C-31 also addresses unemployment insurance.

It is a bit odd. With this approach, the government could be said to be wearing both a belt and suspenders. In other words, the amendments to the unemployment insurance plan are in two bills that are being considered at the same time. Different.

Furthermore, Bill C-31 is worse than Bill C-12 in that its effect is retroactive to January 1, 1996. People should be reminded that, while we are being gagged and while the time spent by the Standing Committee on Human Resources Development in consideration of this bill is being limited, as it was this past week, here we are passing another bill containing two measures: the reduction in the ceiling on insurable earnings to $39,000 and its effect being made retroactive to January 1, 1996. This is quite something. They are not taking any chances. Perhaps they are afraid of protests against this bill in the Senate, the House or somewhere outside Parliament. They are not running any risks; they are going at the unemployed with two bills.

Worse yet, there was contempt of the House this week. This is why I called this the week of the gag. I am not talking about yawning but about being gagged. I am talking about being very wide awake and being gagged. We were very much awake in opposition, even if we did go to bed very late, even going without sleep Tuesday night, because we tried to convince the government and the whip opposite that it did not make sense, at the stage of considering the bill clause by clause, to allow only five minutes per clause.

What is more, I showed that clause 5 alone-my only example-took 12 minutes to read. So, with the time limit the government wanted to impose this week, it was not even possible to read the clauses. It was not permitted. It was impossible. So, as you can imagine, there was no time for answers to our questions, and we could not complain, obviously. So, they pushed it through. The government, for the second time in this Parliament, is setting time limits with this bill against unemployment insurance, as it did with

the bill sending railway employees back to work, where we sat here on a weekend.

What is worse, they are so contemptuous that, on January 1, they issued an employer's guide, a job statement I have in my hands, asking that contributions be made on the basis of $39,000 instead of $42,400. Employers were advised to comply since a bill to that effect would be passed. They said one bill, not two. So this measure has already been implemented.

We know that this measure, which would reduce maximum insurable earnings from $42,400 to $39,000, represents an amount of $900 million that the government agreed to forgo on a retroactive basis. I wonder what kind of game they are playing.

Then they accuse us of wasting the government's money because we want to take our time to study the clauses. The government, for its part, can give a present to business and to people making more than $39,000 to make them more receptive to its bill. Meanwhile, people who did not have to pay premiums before will now have to, including those working less than 15 hours a week, whose contributions represent another $900 million.

This is the exact opposite of Robin Hood, who tried to help the poor by robbing the rich-although the means might not have been the most appropriate. The government, however, gives to the rich so it can take more from the poor. What is the world coming to? This is a week of muzzling; nothing makes sense any more.

They send this to employers, thus showing their contempt for Parliament.

I will not say much about the GST. As we know, the Prime Minister does not want to acknowledge the statements he made about the GST, although the Minister of Finance admitted that they indeed made a mistake, that they did promise to kill the GST but that it was not feasible. I am not talking about the red book, but about the Prime Minister's statements.

The Prime Minister refuses to acknowledge his comments, but he may recognize the letter he sent Mouvement action-chômage on March 26, 1993. I would like to read it, as it is not very long:

Thank you for your fax expressing your opposition to the legislative measures taken by the government-the Tory government and former minister Valcourt-to amend the unemployment insurance plan.

I can assure you that the Liberal Party shares your concern about this attack against the unemployed. We do not believe either that the recent superficial amendments will change the fundamentally unfair nature of these measures.

Our country is still in the throes of the worst economic crisis it has gone through since the thirties.

I will skip the next paragraph as it contains figures.

Given how serious the crisis is, the Liberals have urged the government-the Conservative government-to take steps to stimulate the economy and create jobs. Yet, the Minister of Finance says not only that he will renew the same fiscal, monetary and trade policies that have plunged us into this recession, but that he will go after the unemployed in order to reduce government spending.

The Liberal Party is appalled by these measures. Obviously, by reducing benefits and further penalizing those who leave their jobs voluntarily, the government shows very little concern for the victims of the economic crisis. Instead of getting to the heart of the problem, it goes after the unemployed. These measures will have a disturbing impact, for they will discourage workers from reporting harassment cases and unacceptable conditions in the workplace.

Finally, you can be assured that the Liberals will continue to call on the government-the Conservative government-to withdraw this unfair bill. As Leader of the Opposition, I appreciate your taking the trouble of sharing your views on this matter with me.


Jean Chrétien,

Leader of the Opposition.

This is not a statement but a letter. I will not repeat it. Now, through Bill C-31, and especially Bill C-12, the government will reduce UI benefits even further. People will no longer qualify.

In conclusion-you are indicating my time is up, but I know you are not trying to muzzle me-I deplore this week of muzzling. It is the end of the honeymoon and the beginning of the end for this Liberal government.

Budget Implementation Act, 1996Government Orders

10:45 a.m.


Jack Iyerak Anawak Liberal Nunatsiaq, NT

Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to say a few words about the 1996 budget, the government's third budget.

In October 1993 when the Liberal government took over from the Conservatives, the country's deficit and debt situation was out of control and swift decisive action was needed. The deficit had to be reduced and the role and priorities of the government had to be clarified.

Steps were taken immediately to get the country back on track. A comprehensive review of all federal government programs and services was launched. As a result of that review, some programs have been eliminated, others have been cut and still others have been transferred.

By the end of the 1998-99, program review measures will have reduced program expenditures by $9 billion. In that reduction process, however, the government is being careful.

Protecting the most vulnerable is paramount. Better targeting of spending is crucial. While the government is reducing overall

spending, it has at the same time identified its core role and refocused its resources on priority areas.

I am pleased to note that the needs of the aboriginal people have been identified as a government priority. Accordingly, while aboriginal programs are experiencing some reductions, they are comparatively few compared to other areas of government spending.

In this regard, I am also happy to say that the government has decided to maintain the food mail program, which is very important to the health and well-being of northerners. Under this program, the government funds the transportation of nutritious, perishable foods to isolated communities. Without this program, most people could not afford a healthy, nutritious diet. I am pleased that the government has recognized the importance of this program to the future health and well-being of northerners.

Securing the future of Canadians is the main theme of the 1996 budget. Investing in the future is another major theme. The jobs and growth initiatives of the budget focus on youth employment opportunities, technology and trade. Protecting the most vulnerable is another key feature of the budget.

The 1996 budget contains some good measures for families, particularly low income families. It provides more support for children, youth, women and the elderly. There are no tax increases in this budget. Affordable, accessible social programs are being ensured.

Support for seniors is being maintained and support for low income seniors is being enhanced. Pensions are being protected. Under the new seniors benefit to be introduced in 2001, guaranteed income supplement recipients will get an additional $120 a year. The spouses allowance will be increased by $120 a year. Seniors will only have to apply once when they turn 65, although they will have to continue submitting annual income tax returns.

Support for children is being ensured. New child support awards after May 1, 1997 will not be considered as income of the recipient for tax purposes. The age limit for the child care expense deduction is being increased to 16 years from 14 years.

Support for low income families is being increased. The working income supplement under the child tax credit will be increased from $500 to $750 in July 1997 and to $1,000 in July 1998.

The budget contains additional support for youth education and jobs with an additional $165 million over three years through the tax system to help students and their families deal with the costs of education.

Single parents will now be eligible for the same child care expense deductions as are available to couples. High school students will now be eligible for the child care deduction.

There will be an additional $315 million over three years to help create youth employment opportunities, in addition to existing youth internship and youth service Canada funding. Some of the funds will go to summer jobs. Funds for 1996-97 student summer employment are doubled to $120 million.

There is more help regarding the information highway. Every school and library in Canada will be connected by 1998 and more rural communities will also be connected.

Federal transfers to provinces and territories for health, post-secondary education and social assistance, the Canada health and social transfer, will be secure, stable and will grow.

The budget also contains some cuts. While the budget's positive measures will benefit my constituents, they are also being asked to assume some of the restraint in areas of direct concern to them. Spending on Indian and Inuit programs is being restrained. The increase in growth of spending will be reduced.

The changes to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation also affect my constituency. The budget indicates that CMHC is getting out of social housing except for housing on Indian reserves. Provincial and territorial governments are being offered the opportunity to take over the management of existing social housing resources.

I would like to say a little more about the housing situation in my constituency. There has been no ongoing funding for new social housing units since 1993. For the Government of the Northwest Territories, the decision by the former Conservative government to discontinue funding new social housing units meant a reduction of $47 million. The Government of the Northwest Territories has been unable to replace the $47 million lost in 1993, yet it spends more of its budget on housing than any other jurisdiction in Canada.

Housing need in the NWT is severe. In recognition of this fact, in October 1994 the federal government announced a special one-year strategic housing initiative for northern and remote communities. Seventeen million dollars was made available for emergency housing needs in northern Canada. The NWT was allocated $9.5 million of this amount.

The assistance was gratefully received, but there are still major outstanding needs, particularly among aboriginal people. Twenty-five per cent of northern NWT households are in need. This is the highest proportion of households in need in any Canadian jurisdic-

tion. Over 87 per cent of the NWT households in core need are aboriginal people.

In the NWT aboriginal people make up nearly 98 per cent of the social housing client base. There is only one reserve in the Northwest Territories and the Inuit do not live on reserves at all. Therefore, assistance for housing on reserves does not benefit the vast majority of aboriginal people in the NWT This fact is important for members of this House to understand.

Most Indian and all Inuit people of the Northwest Territories do not qualify for the department of Indian affairs' housing program because they do not live on reserves. Housing assistance for aboriginal people in the Northwest Territories comes through the NWT government, so any cuts to NWT housing mean cuts to aboriginal housing.

Most communities in the NWT are almost totally dependant on government for shelter. Aboriginal people have moved off the land into permanent communities only during the last 30 to 40 years. There has never been enough housing in the NWT to adequately house all the people requiring shelter.

In addition, the NWT population is young and is growing rapidly. The birth rate in the NWT is almost twice the national average. Forty-one per cent of NWT children under the age of 12 are living in overcrowded conditions. This negatively affects their health, social development and school performance.

In conclusion, housing remains an area of great concern to me and all northerners. I continue to urge the federal government and the territorial government to work together to address the serious housing needs of northern aboriginal people.

Budget Implementation Act, 1996Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

It being close to 11 a.m., we will now proceed to Statements by Members.

B.C. Summer GamesStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Jim Gouk Reform Kootenay West—Revelstoke, BC

Mr. Speaker, the area of southeastern British Columbia that I represent is a great place to visit at any time. When I moved there in 1976, it was only intended to be a temporary move, but the beauty of the area and the warmth of the people soon convinced me there was no better place to be.

This summer there is a further special reason for Canadians to visit this jewel of the B.C. interior. The cities of Trail and Castlegar are combining to host the 1996 B.C. summer games from July 25 to July 28.

Both of these communities and other local surrounding communities will be pulling out all the stops to ensure that visitors have a very rewarding experience. In addition to the games, visitors will be able to experience restored and preserved wild west history, pristine lake fishing, championship golf courses, hot springs, hiking trails, areas of breathtaking beauty and much more.

I invite all the members of the House and those watching in the various parts of the country to visit the west Kootenays this summer and discover for themselves the reasons we are so proud of our area.

Army Cadet MonthStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Harold Culbert Liberal Carleton—Charlotte, NB

Mr. Speaker, the upcoming month of May is designated as Army Cadet Month.

Through their training, cadets are fortunate to acquire a sense of citizenship, leadership, discipline, comradeship and a healthy lifestyle which are all hallmarks for success and unique to our Canadian identity.

Further to this special designation, the Minister of National Defence will visit Carleton-Charlotte for a special ceremony and annual cadet inspection at the Border Arena in St. Stephen, New Brunswick, on May 2.

I also wish to acknowledge the adult leaders who give so generously of their time, talents and energy in order to guide the cadets in their training and development.

I thank the Minister of National defence for taking the time to recognize this important event in Carleton-Charlotte, and further to congratulate all cadets across Canada for the significant role they play in our Canadian identity.

Two-Dollar CoinStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Jack Iyerak Anawak Liberal Nunatsiaq, NT

[Editor's Note: Member spoke in Inuktitut.]

Mr. Speaker, over the years Inuit have been teaching the rest of the world their language. Because the rest of the world is awfully slow, we teach them about one word every 10 years, such as kayak, igloo, umiak, anorak. Over the years we have taught the world about 60 Inuit words and it will take a few thousand years for people to learn the Inuit language.

I would like to teach Canadians one more Inuktitut word which they can remember for the next 10 years. That is the word "nanuq" which in English means polar bear; majestic, strong, powerful and mysterious, the creature which now graces our two dollar coin.

I suggest we adopt the name nanuq for our two dollar coin in honour of Inuktitut, one of the original languages of this country, and the name of a truly northern Canadian animal.

VolunteersStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Ken Epp Reform Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, I want to salute and thank all of the volunteers across the country, particularly those in my Elk Island constituency.

Special mention must go to Henry Unrau, Jeanne Frame and the other community leaders who are managing the Information and Volunteer Centre for Strathcona County. These special volunteers in my community have spearheaded a new national initiative helping to recognize the important contribution volunteers make.

Volunteer Spirit Day exemplifies the motivation and satisfaction of the millions of people across Canada who give freely of their time and bountifully of their resources to help others. This is truly the spirit that makes Canada the outstanding compassionate society it is.

I am sorry the rules of the House do not permit props because I have a volunteer T-shirt to present to the Prime Minister from this group in Elk Island.

Congratulations and thanks to volunteers everywhere.

Fédération Des Communautés Francophones Et AcadienneStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Stéphan Tremblay Bloc Lac-Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, on October 17, 1996, in the middle of the referendum campaign, the Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne issued a press release stating that the assimilation of francophones in Canada had declined. But the federation made a mistake. Its president, Jacques Michaud, recently confirmed on the CBC that indeed an error had slipped through when the announcement was made in October last year.

It is surprising enough that the federation would make such a mistake concerning the assimilation rate of francophones, but the fact that it did not rectify its mistake and make a public apology for this blunder is inexcusable. This incident has sullied the credibility of an organization on which francophones outside Quebec depend.

Since it is never too late to acknowledge one's mistakes, what is the Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne waiting for to apologize?

Workplace Safety And HealthStatements By Members

11 a.m.


George Proud Liberal Hillsborough, PE

Mr. Speaker, on April 28 we will commemorate the National Day of Mourning. I urge all hon. members to reflect on the horrendous tragedy of accidental death and serious injury of Canadian workers on the job. Our most recent statistics are for 1994 when over 700 workers were killed while performing their jobs. On the National Day of Mourning we are also renewing our determination to reduce and prevent accidental deaths and injuries in the workplace.

The federal approach to occupational health and safety dealt with in part II of the Canada Labour Code is based upon the internal responsibility system. This system recognizes that an employer has the right to manage its enterprise in an effective manner and at the same time the employer has a responsibility to protect the safety and health of its workers.

Governments, workers and employers must continue to strive toward greater improvement in workplace safety and health.

Olympic Games In AtlantaStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Nick Discepola Liberal Vaudreuil, QC

Mr. Speaker, today, Canadians from coast to coast share the great pride of knowing that a fellow citizen has been selected to sing the opening theme at the upcoming Olympic Games in Atlanta. Canadian composer David Foster's "The Power of the Dream" will be performed by none other than Céline Dion.

Accompanied by about 100 musicians, the great singer born in Charlemagne, Quebec, will perform this beautiful song in front of an audience of 80,000. It is estimated that more than 3.5 billion viewers worldwide will watch the show on television.

Canada is delighted, to say the least, with the honour bestowed upon Céline Dion and we can assure her right now that, from the moment she steps on to perform on July 19, the hearts of 29 million Canadians will be beating in tune with hers.

Department Of National DefenceStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Roger Pomerleau Bloc Anjou—Rivière-Des-Prairies, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of National Defence must take his responsibilities. Here in this House, he has always defended his new protégé, Jean Boyle, the chief of staff of the Canadian armed forces, against allegations of conspiracy to withhold information

from the public and to wilfully deceive taxpayers, the media and members of this Parliament.

However, based on new documents and testimonies, the chief of staff may have been more than aware of this dishonest practice and may even have taken part in it.

Who runs the Department of National Defence? Is the minister capable of running that department? Is he a mere puppet whose role is to hide the facts and the unscrupulous actions of some high ranking officers?

The credibility of the armed forces is at stake and the risks of a faux pas are obvious. The minister should suspend his chief of staff until all the facts are known regarding this issue.

Alzheimer's DiseaseStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


John Richardson Liberal Perth—Wellington—Waterloo, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to talk about Alzheimer's disease.

Alzheimer's is a debilitating disease, the negative effects of which are not limited to the affected individual. Family members and friends are left helpless in this battle and endure constant suffering.

The impact of this disease will continue. Seniors are the fastest growing segment of the Canadian population. With age, the odds of falling victim to Alzheimer's increase dramatically.

Yesterday I met with a representative of the Alzheimer Society to discuss this disease. Just recently I had the chance to take part in Perth county's Alzheimer Society open house in my riding.

I am impressed by the great work performed by the Alzheimer Society. The work of this organization reaches far beyond care for the individual. The society works with the community to aid in the adjustment process for family and friends.

I salute the Alzheimer Society of Canada for all its hard work and wish the representatives gathered in Ottawa for their annual conference a pleasant stay.

Palestine Liberation OrganizationStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Colleen Beaumier Liberal Brampton, ON

Mr. Speaker, earlier this week the ruling body of the Palestine Liberation Organization voted decisively to delete from its founding charter all references calling for an armed struggle to destroy Israel.

This vote, coming on the 48th anniversary of Israel's independence, is a very important step toward creating a just and permanent peace for all peoples in the Middle East.

Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres has offered the highest praise to PLO chairman Yasser Arafat for keeping this vital commitment.

Canadians and all peoples of goodwill join in this praise for a courageous act of leadership. We pray for successful talks between the Israelis and Palestinians as their leaders strive to settle the permanent status of the West Bank and Gaza Strip in a just and equitable manner.

ChernobylStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


John Finlay Liberal Oxford, ON

Mr. Speaker, today marks the 10th anniversary of the nuclear accident at Chernobyl. This was the biggest peacetime nuclear accident, so far. Fully one-third of the area of Ukraine has been contaminated by nuclear fallout.

Many Ukrainians, especially children, have been affected by nuclear radiation. Medical scientists are presently studying what has become known as post-Chernobyl syndrome. It affects all victims and gives them a distrust of government and a feeling of being ignored by the rest of the world.

As we commemorate this disaster and send our sympathy to the people of Ukraine, may it spur us on to co-operate with all other nuclear nations in seeking better safeguards for the use and disposal of nuclear materials.

Ten years after the accident in Chernobyl, let us work together to ensure that such a tragedy never happens again.

Quebec City BridgeStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Antoine Dubé Bloc Lévis, QC

Mr. Speaker, the federal government's inaction regarding the restoration of the Quebec City bridge is a constant threat to the survival of this structure. Last fall, Jean Pelletier, the Prime Minister's chief of staff, promised the Coalition de sauvegarde du point de Québec that the issue would be quickly settled after the referendum. "Do not make waves regarding this issue before the referendum", he said.

Since October 30, Mr. Pelletier is nowhere to be found. Moreover, it is just as difficult to discuss this issue with the Minister of Canadian Heritage, even though the Quebec City bridge was recognized as a heritage site of national interest by her predecessor.

Is the Liberal government acting out of revenge in dragging its feet, given that it did not succeed in getting a single member elected in the Quebec City region?

If this is the case, such an attitude is outrageous. Otherwise, the federal government should do like its Quebec counterpart and quickly announce its contribution to the restoration of the Quebec City bridge.

National UnityStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.


Bob Ringma Reform Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, recent events show that we can longer ignore the true voice of federalists in Quebec.

This week 2,500 Quebecers marched on the Fairview Plaza in Pointe-Claire to protest against Quebec's oppressive language laws restricting the use of English.

Last night in Hudson, Quebec it was my honour to be in the company of hundreds of loyal Canadians wishing to remain a part of Canada should Quebec separate. Those in the standing room only crowd have a message they want conveyed to politicians in Ottawa. In the event of a future yes vote on sovereignty, they demand the federal government recognize and protect their right to remain Canadian citizens.

I was also presented with a petition signed by 4,400 Quebecers asking Parliament to act upon their concerns. I call upon the member for Vaudreuil to join me in tabling the petition and asking the Prime Minister to personally respond to these petitioners' concerns.

Reformers stand solidly behind these Canadians from Vaudreuil.

Fédération Des Caisses Populaires De L'OntarioStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.


Raymond Bonin Liberal Nickel Belt, ON

Mr. Speaker, this year the Fédération des caisses populaires de l'Ontario is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Since the establishment of the first caisse in 1912, the concept of a bank belonging to the community and serving the community rapidly spread to all of Ontario. Today, the Fédération includes 42 caisses, 65 service centres, close to 200,000 members and assets in excess of $1.6 billion.

Franco-Ontarians are rightly proud of their institutions and the central role they play in the development of their community. I invite my colleagues to join me in congratulating the Fédération and its directors, who are meeting in Ottawa this weekend to plan the successes of the next century.