House of Commons Hansard #50 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was finance.


Canadian Association Of Former Parliamentarians ActPrivate Members' Business

11 a.m.


Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, I believe that there is unanimous consent for the following motion. I move:

That a message be sent to the Senate to acquaint it that this House agrees with the amendments made by the Senate to Bill C-275, an act establishing the Canadian Association of Former Parliamentarians.

(Motion agreed to.)

Referendum On Funding For AbortionsPrivate Members' Business

11 a.m.


Garry Breitkreuz Reform Yorkton—Melville, SK


That, in the opinion of this House, the government should enact legislation which would require that a binding, national referendum be held at the time of the next election to ask Canadians whether or not they are in favour of federal government funding for abortions on demand.

Mr. Speaker, Motion No. 91 is not just about abortion. It is about democracy. It is about giving voters a real say in how they want their scarce health care dollars spent. It is about voters deciding which health care procedures they consider essential. It is about voters making these tough decisions for themselves, not having politicians and bureaucrats make these decisions for them.

We are debating whether voters have the right to direct federal government health care funding to medical procedures they think are most essential and of the highest priority. We are debating whether Parliament should decide for the people or whether the people have the right to decide for themselves.

Throughout my speech today I will pose key questions that need to be answered in relation to this debate. Then I will proceed to answer each one.

First, where do the people stand on tax funded abortions? In the 1991 provincial election in Saskatchewan two-thirds of the voters in a plebiscite voted to deinsure funding for abortions. A January 1995 poll conducted in Alberta produced similar results, with 73 per cent of women and 69 per cent of men opting for defunding of abortions. In November 1995 an Environics Focus Ontario survey found that 57 per cent of respondents do not think the Ontario health insurance plan should pay for abortions.

As of this morning in the short time available since my motion was presented to the House, I have received 109 petitions with 2,790 signatures supporting my Motion No. 91. I will start tabling these petitions in the House later today. Many other MPs have also received petitions from people objecting to their money being spent on medically unnecessary abortions.

Next, how much do abortions cost Canadian taxpayers? A 1995 Library of Parliament research paper found that approximately 100,000 therapeutic abortions are performed each year in Canada. About 70,000 abortions are performed in hospitals at a cost of about $500 each, a total cost of $35 million per year. Another 30,000 abortions are performed in free standing clinics at a cost of about $250 each, totalling about $7.5 million a year. Physician fees were calculated in the 1992-93 fiscal year to be $9.1 million. The cost is quite substantial.

Next, is abortion only a provincial issue? I disagree with those who say this is a matter for the provinces to decide. As long as the federal government is paying part of the provinces' medicare bills, federal politicians have a responsibility to ensure that scarce taxpayer dollars are being spent on medical procedures that voters think are the highest priority.

In April 1994 Terese Ferri, barrister and solicitor and a member of the Ontario Bar, wrote a paper titled "Legal Issues Concerning the Public Funding of Abortions in Alberta and Canada". Ms. Ferri wrote:

It is well established that, while the federal government has jurisdiction to make federal funds for health care contingent upon adherence to national standards, legislation on matters concerning the provision of health care is entirely within the domain of the provinces.

From my review of legal briefs on this issue, I conclude that the federal government has the power to set national standards and provide federal funding in accordance with these standards. It is clearly within the power of the federal government to say which medical procedures it will fund and which it will not.

Performing abortions is a provincial jurisdiction. Paying for abortions is a decision for both federal and provincial governments to make independent of one another because they each pay a portion of the costs.

The Reform Party is on record saying we want to define core services which are covered by medicare. Is this a decision best left to politicians and bureaucrats or to the people? I say it is the people who should decide, which is what would happen if Motion No. 91 were passed by Parliament today.

Next, what does the Canada Health Act say? In the legal analysis mentioned previously lawyer Terese Ferri wrote:

Under the Canada Health Act, federal funds are available to provincial health care plans which, among other things, are comprehensive, universally available and accessible. The plan must insure all insured health services provided by hospitals and medical practitioners, section 7. Hospital services are defined as "services preventing disease or diagnosing or treating an injury, illness or disability". Physician services are defined as "medically required services rendered by medical practitioners", section 2.

Section 3 of the Canada Health Act states that the primary objective of a Canadian health care policy is to protect, promote and restore the physical and mental well-being of residents of Canada.

Unfortunately the Canada Health Act does not include a list of medical procedures or services which the federal government thinks are services preventing disease or diagnosing, treating an injury, illness or disability, or a list of medically required services.

I think it is about time the federal government start defining which hospital services and physician services are medically necessary.

Reformers have referred to this list of medically necessary services as core services which should be supported by federal tax dollars.

If it can be proven that a medical procedure or service does not protect, promote and restore physical and mental well-being, that the service does not prevent disease, is not an illness and is not medically required, then this should be sufficient reason to deny federal tax funding for such a procedure. Is that not right?

Further, if it can be proven that abortions actually jeopardize the health and well-being of the patient, the federal government has a duty to withdraw tax funding for this procedure because it violates the purpose of the Canada Health Act as stated in section 3. Terese Ferri's legal analysis concluded that it would be legitimate for the federal government to disqualify from funding those provinces which do insure such services.

That logically leads to the next question. Is abortion medically necessary? Induced abortion as interpreted by the Canadian Medical Association is the active termination of a pregnancy before fetal viability. Viability is considered to be the ability of the fetus to survive independently outside the womb. A fetus is considered viable in Canada after 20 weeks of gestation and/or the fetus weighs 500 grams at birth.

A non-therapeutic abortion is an interruption of a pregnancy for non-medical reasons by any means. A therapeutic abortion is an interruption of pregnancy for legally acceptable medically approved indications. Therapeutic is defined as curative, dealing with healing and, especially, remedies for diseases. I find it hard to believe that anyone can consider most abortions to be the curing or healing of an illness or that a normal pregnancy is considered a disease.

Dr. R.M. Ferri, in a 1994 psychiatric brief, reported a 1983 study of abortion practices in a typical Ontario hospital which revealed that 98.5 per cent of the 704 abortions performed that year were for mental health reasons. To show that this 1983 study is false let me report on another study.

The family planning division of Health and Welfare Canada conducted a study of 554 women who received abortions in Canadian hospitals. Here are the responses to the question: "What is your main reason for your decision to have an abortion?" Two hundred and eleven of the 554 women, or 38 per cent, did not want children at this time, did not want children at all or said their family size was complete. One hundred and one of them, or 18 per cent, said they could not afford a child or that they did not have the money to move to larger accommodations. Ninety-seven, or 17 per cent, said they were too old or too young to have a child, that they were afraid the child would be abnormal or they feared the pregnancy would pose a risk to their health. Sixty-nine, or 12 per cent, said they were not married, did not want their friends to find out about the pregnancy, that the child was not their partner's, that the partner did not want a child or believed the pregnancy threatened their mental health. Seventy-six, or 14 per cent, said they were alone, did not want to raise a child, would have to quit school or a job, or that it would interfere with their career plans.

These responses demonstrate that most women seeking abortions do so for reasons other than treatment for medical or mental health problems.

Dr. Ferri concluded from his literature review that, first, abortion is not a verifiable remedy which significantly improves the health of a patient; second, the safety, efficacy and validity of abortion for mental health reasons has not been proven; third, abortions

performed for psychiatric reasons worsen a woman's mental health; fourth, abortion is not therapeutic and is actually harmful to women's mental health; and fifth, funding by the government under a health care plan cannot be justified.

In 1989 The Psychiatric Journal of the University of Ottawa, Volume 14, No. 4, published a major Canadian survey of studies on abortion for mental and emotional health reasons. The study survey was conducted by Dr. Philip Ney, the psychiatric director of the adolescent unit of the Queen Alexandria Hospital in Victoria, B.C. The study concluded that, first, there is no satisfactory evidence that abortion improves the psychological state. Second, mental ill health has been shown to be worsened by abortion. Third, recent studies are turning up an alarming rate of post-abortion complications. Fourth, the emotional impact of these complications needs to be studied. These are important considerations which we cannot ignore.

The committee to end tax funded abortions concluded in its January 1995 report that abortion is a procedure that disrupts the normal physiologic process and carries a physical risk to the woman undergoing the procedure. In spite of the fact that over 23 million abortions have been performed in North America in the last 25 years there are no good medical studies demonstrating the therapeutic benefit to women on physical, psychiatric or psychological grounds. The procedure, therefore, has no proven medical benefit and cannot be justified as medically necessary in any context other than political. My own review of available research leads me to the same conclusion.

I do not have time today to touch on some of the other health related concerns which abortion raises, for example, the evidence that is mounting that abortion raises a woman's risk for getting breast cancer, a study that needs to be done more thoroughly.

Would ending tax funded abortions violate the charter of rights and freedoms? In preparing for this debate I reviewed three independent legal opinions on the question. Would non-payment of abortion procedures violate the rights guaranteed by sections 7 and 15 of the charter of rights and freedoms?

First, in his November 1994 analysis Frank de Walle of the firm de Walle and McDonald concluded that refusal to fund abortions did not restrict access, did not discriminate and did not place any government obstacle in the path of a woman choosing to terminate her pregnancy.

He added that the government is not obliged to finance rights and used this analogy to prove his point. A right to freedom of expression does not entitle one to demand the government pay for press coverage. Just because you have freedom of speech does not demand that you have the right to demand others pay for the expression of that.

In May 1994 Darren Richards of the law firm Snyder & Company arrived at similar conclusions. He said that the de-insuring of abortion procedures may not be found to violate section 15(1) of the charter. His legal analysis concluded if the courts found such an action to be discriminatory that the de-insuring of medically unnecessary abortion procedures could qualify as a reasonable limitation of rights pursuant to section 1 of the charter.

Mr. Richards also reviewed section 7 of the charter which protects everyone's right to life, liberty and security of the person. He concluded that the non-funding of abortion does not place any government obstacle in the path of a woman choosing to terminate her pregnancy and therefore her to life, liberty and security of the person is not violated.

The third study I would quote is from Terese Ferri, barrister and solicitor in the province of Ontario who concluded that de-insurance of abortion would not infringe on the rights guaranteed under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

What does the Criminal Code of Canada say about abortion? Section 287 of the Criminal Code made abortions illegal except when completed by a qualified medical practitioner in an accredited or approved hospital. It was struck down in 1988 by the Supreme Court because it violated section 7 of the charter of rights. It is still a criminal offence under section 290 to supply a drug or instruments to be used to cause a miscarriage.

Section 223 of the Criminal Code establishes the point at which a child becomes a human being for the purpose of determining if a homicide has been committed. This section defines that a child is a human being if it has completely proceeded from its mother in a living state and provides that a homicide is committed if a child dies after meeting the definition of a human being.

Therefore any abortion completed before the baby has completely proceeded from its mother's womb is not murder. While late term abortions are not common, I find it unconscionable that the Criminal Code does not prohibit them, but this is a matter for another private member's bill.

I was at a meeting last year at which the speaker was a woman in her late teens. She related some of her objections to abortion. She had survived the abortion procedure. This in itself may not sound too remarkable unless I go on to explain that she was the unborn child that was aborted. We need to change our Criminal Code definition of murder.

In conclusion, Motion M-91 raises several fundamental questions. First, do the people of Canada have the right to a direct say in how the government spends their money? This is a question of democracy and the right of people to have input. Second, abortion is not a medically necessary procedure in most instances and scarce

health dollars should not be spent on it. Third, approval of my motion does not contravene the rights of anyone.

It is wrong for a government to avoid talking about sensitive issues. The essence of what we do in the House of Commons should be to fully debate all issues of concern to the Canadian people. The job of government is to carry out the will of the people. If we cannot decide the issue here it should be referred to the people of Canada and not simply avoided. I therefore make this request. I seek the unanimous consent of the House to have my motion declared votable.

Referendum On Funding For AbortionsPrivate Members' Business

11:25 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is there unanimous consent to permit this to be a votable item?

Referendum On Funding For AbortionsPrivate Members' Business

11:25 a.m.

Some hon. members


Referendum On Funding For AbortionsPrivate Members' Business

11:25 a.m.


Shaughnessy Cohen Liberal Windsor—St. Clair, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am rising to speak on Motion No. 91 concerning federal funding support for abortion services on demand. I want to address the role of the federal government vis-à-vis the Canada Health Act with respect to determining insured health services.

As one of our greatest national projects, Canada's health care system is a defining element of Canadian society. Medicare has contributed to a quality of life that is recognized to be one of the best in the world. It also gives us a comparative advantage in the global marketplace.

I am happy to say, as I usually do, that the riding of Windsor-St. Clair and my community of Windsor had a great deal to do with that, starting with early insurance plans like Windsor medical and with the great vision of the Right Hon. Paul Martin, Sr.

The health care system represents the best of the Canadian spirit, reminding us of the good that we can achieve together. Medicare was introduced and developed by a succession of Liberal governments, providing a tangible example of the commitment of the Liberals to compassionate public policy.

The Liberal Party and the government remain firmly committed to the five fundamental principles of medicare as set out in the Canada Health Act: public administration, comprehensiveness, universality, portability, accessibility.

The one principle which I particularly want to focus on is comprehensiveness. At its most basic, comprehensiveness requires that provincial health care insurance plans cover all medically necessary services performed by doctors or in hospitals. The term medical necessity is a key concept. It is an integral part of the understanding and operation of the act. The term medically necessary is used in the Canada Health Act in conjunction with other conditions to assure Canadians that once a decision has been made that a service is medically necessary, then access becomes universal and on uniform terms and conditions.

In my view this debate is not just about abortion. This motion has much broader consequences than that. It is about which government is going to decide that any medical procedures are necessary. It is about whether our aging parents will have access to oxygen when their respiratory systems fail. It is about whether children and adults with disabilities will get the specialized support they need. It is about whether our constituents will have universal access to any medically necessary procedure.

Since the beginning of federal support for health care in 1957 through the hospital insurance and diagnostic services act, decisions regarding what is medically necessary have been left to the provinces to determine. This is consistent with the provisions of the Constitution. It makes sense because after all the provinces manage the health care system. The government does not do that and the man or the woman on the street does not do that.

The provinces work with the appropriate medical experts. They are delivering the service, they are closer to the patients. This means that decisions regarding medically necessary insured health services are up to the provinces and their medical associations or those whom they consult to decide.

I might add that there is a remarkable degree of congruence and consistency among all provinces and territories on this front. On the matter of health insurance coverage for services all provinces and territories, particularly for abortion services, have regarded them as medically necessary services and insure them on this basis. I emphasize that there is almost no service that is not medically necessary in some cases. These determinations have been made based on the context of the service being provided.

The government firmly believes that it is not for Ottawa to say that this procedure or that procedure must be covered. This responsibility is better left to the provinces and physicians who deliver services on a daily basis and who are aware of the circumstances under which they are delivered.

This approach stands in sharp contrast to what is happening in the United States where insurance companies are telling more and more physicians what they will cover, what they can or cannot do for their patients and even how to do it.

The Canada Health Act permits the determination of medical necessity at the point of delivery of the service. This approach is superior to developing a list of insured health services. Lists are simplistic and rigid. They result in some services being insured and others not being insured in all circumstances. They also invite a steady move to privatization especially if more and more services

are covered by private insurance because the government is out of them because it is not on the list.

Determining medical necessity at point of service is one of the greatest strengths of the Canada Health Act. This approach allows circumstances to vary from service to service. It is an approach that recognizes the medical condition of the patient. It is an approach that ensures Canadians receive services on the basis of need, not on the basis of ability to pay.

Since the beginning of medicare, medically necessary services have been made available without point of service charges. I cannot deny that fiscal realities have forced us to make some tough decisions regarding our health care system. There is still room to make our health care system more efficient.

Putting our universal and comprehensive health care system in place took commitment. Facing the challenges and finding solutions to problems which arose over the years took commitment. That commitment is still here today. It is a commitment that Canadians want and one that this government takes seriously.

We will ensure that Canadians continue to receive medically necessary services on the basis of need and not on the basis of their ability to pay. Access to services is based solely on the medical needs of the patient. Medical necessity, not how much money one has, should dictate access to medical services. Canadians expect that they will have medically necessary services available without point of service charges.

The federal government has an important role to play in ensuring that Canadians receive the care they need. What we can and will continue to do is to interpret the Canada Health Act as requiring coverage of all medically necessary services.

Our national health insurance system is close to the hearts of Canadians. It is something too precious to tamper with on a piecemeal basis. This is why the federal government cannot support this private member's motion. Supporting this motion could jeopardize the principles of the Canada Health Act. It could jeopardize the constitutional authority of the federal government and the provincial governments. More important, it could jeopardize the health of Canadians.

Referendum On Funding For AbortionsPrivate Members' Business

11:30 a.m.


Pauline Picard Bloc Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to participate in today's debate on Motion M-91 put forward by my colleague from Yorkton-Melville.

Abortion has long been a matter of concern to the people of Quebec and Canada. It is a very sensitive issue that brings into play profound and very different convictions on individual rights, social responsibility and moral standards. It also raises questions on the place of women in our society. For all these reasons, abortion could easily become a divisive issue.

This, however, does not mean that the issue of abortion must be ignored. Unfortunately, too many governments, lacking the courage or the political will to take their responsibilities in sensitive matters, go for the easy way out and bury their heads in the sand.

At that level, the motion put forward by my colleague from Yorkton-Melville at least has the merit of trying to move the issue forward. The motion reads as follows: That, in the opinion of this House, the government should enact legislation which would require that a binding, national referendum be held at the time of the next election to ask Canadians whether or not they are in favour of federal government funding for abortions on demand.

The idea of asking Canadians to settle the matter is quite democratic and may seem interesting at first sight. It would be nice to see the Liberal government be as democratic toward the men and women of Quebec who want to make Quebec a sovereign country. These people will undoubtedly remind them of this in the next election.

To get back to Motion M-91, one must go beyond mere appearances and wonder whether a referendum is really the best way to settle this matter. After thinking about this and reading the documentation available, I can only conclude that a referendum is not the way to go, for several reasons.

First of all, there is a vast consensus within the public in favour of free choice; that is a well known fact. An Environics poll dated June 29, 1992, indicated that 79 per cent of Canadians agreed that the decision to abort is one that should be made by each woman, in consultation with her doctor. In Quebec, 80 per cent of respondents also agreed with this statement. Considering that, every year, more and more people support freedom of choice, we have every reason to believe that these numbers are at least as high, if not higher, today.

I therefore think that holding a referendum on this issue is unnecessary. It is up to us, as elected members, to act accordingly.

The public is not the only one in favour of free choice. Year after year, decision after decision, the courts reaffirm the legality of abortion. An often used argument concerns the rights of the mother to be. On August 8, 1989, the Supreme Court ruled that no presumed rights of the foetus or the father existed or should take precedence over a woman's right to decide what happens to her own body.

This kind of thinking on the part of the courts is observed worldwide. In the United States, in England or wherever, it is

becoming increasingly obvious that the only arguments against abortion that may hold up are moral in nature.

The motion before us today also raises a totally different issue, concerning jurisdiction over matters of abortion. Under section 92(7) of the Constitution Act, 1867, the establishment, maintenance and managements of health care institutions come under exclusive provincial jurisdiction. We can never stress this point enough. In addition, the courts have vested in provincial legislatures extensive jurisdiction over public health matters of a merely local or private nature, in accordance with section 92(16).

Regulatory control of all professions, and health care professions in particular, also fall under the provinces' jurisdiction over property and civil rights, in accordance with section 92(13) of the aforementioned act.

For these reasons, which leave no doubt as to the fact that Quebec and the other provinces have jurisdiction over health, the federal court of appeal ruled, in 1983, that the general issue of abortion comes under the exclusive jurisdiction of provincial authorities.

Therefore, we wonder why it should be necessary to ask Canadians whether or not they are in favour of federal government funding for abortions, as proposed in the motion moved by the hon. member for Yorkton-Melville.

Let us be clear: health comes under provincial jurisdiction. It is only because it acted in a roundabout way that the federal government managed to get involved in this sector, thanks to its spending power. Of course, eligibility for federal funding depended on certain conditions being met. We all know the story very well.

Upon reading the motion moved by the hon. member for Yorkton-Melville, one also wonders about the appropriateness of holding a referendum at the same time as a general election. The themes, the stakes and the whole dynamic surrounding an election are many and varied, and are not necessarily given the same weight.

Imagine for a moment that the motion is passed, that the government enacts a law, and that a referendum is held in Canada and in Quebec on federal funding for abortions. What do we do with the results? How do we interpret them?

For example, if a majority is in favour of federal funding for abortions, which conditions should apply? Who can perform these abortions? Where? When? How? For what reasons can a woman get an abortion? Who ultimately makes the decision? All these questions remain unanswered because the current wording of Motion M-91 only deals with the financial issue.

By contrast, if a majority opposes federal funding, does it mean these people are opposed to abortion? Not necessarily. People may be in favour of abortion, but opposed to its funding.

In conclusion, the motion before us raises more questions than it answers. Given the costs of a referendum, we seriously wonder about the appropriateness of the wording of Motion M-91, not to mention that we would first have to ask the Prime Minister to tell us which percentage, in his opinion, would be required, since he seems to be in the process of redefining democracy.

The issue of abortion is much too important for women and for society in general to be treated as a mere funding issue, particularly through a referendum to be held at the same time as a federal election. For all these reasons, and for other ones, I cannot support Motion M-91.

Referendum On Funding For AbortionsPrivate Members' Business

11:40 a.m.


Leon Benoit Reform Vegreville, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to take part in the debate on the motion presented by the hon. member for Yorkton-Melville which reads:

That, in the opinion of this House, the government should enact legislation which would require that a binding, national referendum be held at the time of the next election to ask Canadians whether or not they are in favour of federal government funding for abortions on demand.

I will generally debate the basis of what services our public health care system should be required to pay for. I will also speak on the issue of allowing Canadians to decide how their tax dollars should be spent.

This is a federal and provincial issue. The federal government has the power to set national standards for health care and provide federal funding in accordance with these standards. It is clearly within the power of the federal government to say which medical procedures it will or will not fund. Performing abortions is a provincial jurisdiction. Paying for abortions is a decision that provincial and federal governments make independent of one another because they each pay a portion of the costs.

As an aside I will talk about the federal government portion relative to that of the provincial government. When the Canada Health Act was set up, funding for health care was 50:50. Now approximately 22 per cent is paid by the federal government and the rest by the provincial government. By the time the recent budget of the finance minister is implemented, the federal portion of funding will be reduced to approximately 17 per cent. It is an ever decreasing amount.

Getting back to the motion, it really does not matter which government is involved, in the end the same taxpayers are paying. One would think that federal and provincial governments would target spending of taxpayers' money based on the good it will do or the need for the service. In this case where health care spending is involved the main consideration should be the impact of making people healthier or preventing disease or injury.

How are decisions regarding health care set out in the Canada Health Act? The Canada Health Act requires the provinces to provide and pay for medically necessary procedures. In most cases abortion is not medically necessary. It is a service which does not make people healthier or prevent injury or disease. In fact, it does the opposite. It disrupts a normal physiological process and poses a risk to the woman undergoing the procedure.

Surveys demonstrate that the vast majority of women seeking abortions do so for reasons other than the treatment of a medical or mental health problem. The member who proposed the motion has already mentioned a study by Health Canada which I believe is well worth repeating.

It was a study of 554 women who received abortions in Canadian hospitals. Here are the responses given to the question "what is your main reason for the decision to have an abortion". Thirty-eight per cent said they did not want children at this time, did not want children at all or that their family size was complete. Eighteen per cent said they could not afford a child or that they did not have money to move to larger accommodations.

Eighteen per cent said they were too old or too young to have a child, that they were afraid the child would be abnormal or they feared that pregnancy would pose a risk to their health. Twelve per cent said they were not married, did not want their friends to find out about the pregnancy, that the child was not their partner's, that the partner did not want a child, or that they believed the pregnancy threatened their mental health. Fourteen per cent said they were alone and did not want to raise a child, would have to quit school or a job, or that it would interfere with their career plans.

Even abortion providers admit abortions are generally not medically necessary. For example, Henry Morgentaler told a Vancouver radio audience in 1988 that fewer than one-tenth of one per cent of abortions are necessary to save the woman's life.

Irvin Cushner of Planned Parenthood Federation of America testified before a Senate hearing that more than 98 per cent of abortions are done for non-medical reasons.

Notice that none of these studies was done by pro life groups or was even commissioned by pro life groups. It is exactly the opposite.

Through two decades of widespread abortion experience, doctors have increasingly described it as a surgery that carries risks to the woman's fertility, risks of chronic pelvic pain, breast cancer and in subsequent pregnancies premature labour or miscarriage. Studies show that even abortions performed for psychiatric reasons worsen women's mental health.

Motion No. 91 is not just about the funding of abortion. It is also about democracy. Politics has clearly become increasingly further removed from the people. This clearly shows a need to give voters a real say in how they want their scarce health care dollars spent.

Decisions regarding important social issues should be made by voters, not politicians and bureaucrats. The Reform Party is clear in its policy. It was presented during the last election campaign and it will be presented in the next election campaign. The Reform Party clearly says the role of a politician is first to tell their constituents during an election campaign what their view is on an issue such as this, providing public funding for abortion, of which I am not in favour.

We should hold a national referendum. That is exactly what this motion requests. It would give the public a direct say rather than leaving the issue in the hands of politicians and, in many cases, in the hands of bureaucrats. This will give people a direct say.

Barring a referendum, the opportunity for people to vote directly, Reform MPs are committed to ensuring public debate takes place across the country. Reform MPs will ensure the media is involved in these discussions. The media plays a very important role in the debate. Through some formal mechanism such as a public poll or a householder survey we will determine the will of the majority of constituents. In all cases Reform MPs will vote with the majority view in their constituencies.

Old style politics and the style of politics being done in the House by the governing party are anything but democratic. What the government feels is a free vote is really, rather than MPs voting the will of their constituents, voting their own consciences in most cases.

I seek the unanimous consent of the House to have this motion referred to the Standing Committee on Health.

Referendum On Funding For AbortionsPrivate Members' Business

11:50 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is there unanimous consent to have the motion referred to the standing committee?

Referendum On Funding For AbortionsPrivate Members' Business

11:50 a.m.

An hon. member


Referendum On Funding For AbortionsPrivate Members' Business

11:50 a.m.

Prince Albert—Churchill River Saskatchewan


Gordon Kirkby LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, this motion shows a misunderstanding of the process by which medical services are determined for funding. It assumes the federal government plays an active role in this determination. This assumption runs contrary to the spirit and the letter of the Canada Health Act.

This act respects the role of the provinces in the delivery of health services and recognizes that provincial health care systems must address the unique needs and circumstances of each province.

This allows each province and territory latitude to make necessary decisions. This also gives provinces and territories latitude in the application of the five Canada Health Act principles and the ability to make decisions consistent with their own priorities and capacities.

In January 1988 the Supreme Court of Canada, interpreting the charter of rights and freedoms, struck down the Criminal Code provisions involving therapeutic abortion committees. This removed all administrative apparatus associated with this procedure.

This decision invalidated the entire legislative scheme for limiting women's access to abortion, leaving the matter of abortion to be decided by women in consultation with their doctors.

The Canada Health Act requires that medically necessary hospital and physician services are insured. The operation of provincial health insurance plans and the delivery of health services to residents are within the purview and decision making power of the provinces and territories. In short, the provinces and their doctors will decide whether services are medically necessary. Provinces are then responsible for insuring and delivering these services to residents.

As a statement of federal policy, the Canada Health Act respects that the provinces must have flexibility in deciding how to best organize, finance and deliver health services. The federal criteria provide the framework, but it is the provinces and the territories that are responsible for these basic decisions.

This division of relative roles and responsibilities has given us the excellent health care system we have today. It is certainly one of the reasons the Canada Health Act received unanimous approval in the House of Commons in 1984.

The federal government's role in health financing has been instrumental in shaping our health care system while providing the provinces with the scope necessary for determining how best to allocate federal transfers to address the health needs of their populations.

It is important to consider what provincial flexibility really means in terms of the Canada Health Act. The provinces are responsible for deciding in partnership with their health professionals which services are medically necessary and which should appear on the list of insured services.

Each province receives its advice from licensing bodies as well as medical associations on a scientific and professional basis for these decisions. Each province has its own consultative mechanism. On the basis of such considerations, the various services have been determined to be medically necessary and therefore are insured in every province and territory in Canada.

The challenge that continues to face us is the prevention of unwanted pregnancies. We know the reasons women seek abortion include lack of information about or access to birth control measures or sex education. These can be addressed through research, education, counselling and other forms of assistance through organizations which provide information and support.

One of our goals must be to secure for Canadians the widest possible range of choices about whether and when to have children. Unintended pregnancy is a particularly troubling and frustrating issue since it is largely avoidable. Despite recent advances in education and accessibility of contraception, unintended pregnancy still occurs.

The heaviest burden of unintended pregnancy rests on those who are the most disadvantaged, the young, the poor and those without the support of a caring family. Youth are particularly vulnerable. We must make it a matter of high priority to educate our young people to be responsible. We must promote responsible behaviour. The importance of education and birth planning as well as policies and programs that inform Canadian families and reduce the need for abortions cannot be underestimated.

Health Canada will continue to make resources available where our limited funds permit for activities related to sexual and reproductive health issues. These include community based projects funded through the health promotion contribution program and grants provided to national heath organizations. It is important that government and voluntary organizations work together to respond effectively to health information needs, especially of high risk or hard to reach populations.

We recognize the federal government has the legal authority to conduct national referenda and that the federal government contributes to the funding of provincial and territorial health insurance plans.

However, we also recognize it is not within the constitutional authority of the federal government to dictate the specifics of the operation of provincial health plans. The federal government does not fund specific health care services or types of services on a national scale in the manner this motion suggests. Both as a matter of law and as a matter of policy the federal government would not intervene in the operation of provincial and territorial health insurance plans so long as the principles of the Canada Health Act are respected.

The government does not have any choice but to oppose this motion within the context of the Canada Health Act. The determination of what services to insure is a matter of provincial and territorial jurisdiction.

Referendum On Funding For AbortionsPrivate Members' Business

11:55 a.m.


Stan Dromisky Liberal Thunder Bay—Atikokan, ON

Mr. Speaker, responsibility for determining insured health services has

always been with the provinces. We must stress that time and time again because apparently our colleagues from the third party are not in harmony with this concept.

The responsibility is determined in conjunction with the respective medical associations. The Canada Health Act principle of comprehensiveness requires that all provincial and territorial health insurance plans provide coverage for medically necessary services.

Let us be clear. The responsibility for determining which services are medically necessary is a provincial one. Even though the decisions regarding medical necessity are the responsibility of the provinces and territories which manage their own health care systems, we find that insured medical and hospital services are more than evident between and among provinces and territories.

The federal government's role in part is to assume responsibility for setting national criteria to ensure Canadians receive the care they need. This is exactly what the Canada Health Act does. It ensures residents of Canada have reasonable access to necessary health care services on a prepaid basis.

Provinces administer their own health insurance plans. They manage their own systems. They are in the best position to make decisions regarding insured health services. This is particularly important given that there is almost no service that is not medically necessary in some situations. Why should we fix something that is not broken?

The federal government has a responsibility to promote and preserve the health of all Canadians. However, it cannot make the kind of decision this private member's motion is asking for. To try and use the spending power of the federal government in this way would be contrary to how this federation functions.

What we should do and will continue to do is to use our spending power to ensure that the five principles of the Canada Health Act are maintained. There is in this country a longstanding partnership between the federal, provincial and territorial governments with regard to health care. It is a partnership that we continue to develop and promote. Supporting this private member's motion would disrupt this historical distinction and balance.

Referendum On Funding For AbortionsPrivate Members' Business



Myron Thompson Reform Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, I realize there is not much time left so I will take as little time as possible. I will raise a couple of points that the member for Yorkton-Melville wanted to say before he ran out of time.

The hon. member points out to members of the House of Commons and to the nation that a number of individuals in Canada prefer not to support some things financially and they feel they should have a voice. He is trying to give them that voice through a referendum. If it is not possible to do it through a referendum, the hon. member would have liked to have done it through a vote by the members in the House of Commons.

The Bloc member said we do not need a referendum and that in the House of Commons we should represent the people. I find it very difficult to represent the people when we are denied a vote in the House of Commons by the voice of one individual. I find that totally unacceptable.

I also find it rather strange to hear the government members rigorously talking about the provinces' responsibility to decide whether or not they want to fund abortions or the provinces' responsibility in making a number of decisions when not too long ago I heard the Liberal members say point blank that the provinces would do as they tell them or their funding would be stopped. How hypocritical can they get? One day they are saying it is up to the provinces to decide how they want to run their system and the next day the federal government is going to take away all their funding if they do not do what they are told.

It boils down to when important issues come before the people of Canada, the one thing most Canadians do not realize is that they are being denied democracy by this Liberal government. They have been denied democracy for the past 10, 15, 20 or 30 years. Canadians want it to stop and I agree with them. It is time that democracy started ruling this House instead of the dictatorial attitude of certain individuals who sit on that side of the platform. The sooner that happens, the better off we will be.

Referendum On Funding For AbortionsPrivate Members' Business


The Deputy Speaker

The time provided for the consideration of Private Members' Business has now expired and the matter is dropped from the order paper.

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-31, an act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 6, 1996, as reported (with amendment) from the committee.

Budget Implementation Act, 1996Government Orders


LaSalle—Émard Québec


Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

moved that the bill, as amended, be concurred in.

Budget Implementation Act, 1996Government Orders


The Deputy Speaker

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Budget Implementation Act, 1996Government Orders


Some hon. members


Budget Implementation Act, 1996Government Orders


An hon. member

On division.

(Motion agreed to.)

Budget Implementation Act, 1996Government Orders


The Deputy Speaker

When shall the bill be read a third time? By leave, now?

Budget Implementation Act, 1996Government Orders


Some hon. members


Budget Implementation Act, 1996Government Orders



Paul Martin Liberal LaSalle—Émard, QC

moved that the bill be read the third time and passed.

Budget Implementation Act, 1996Government Orders

12:05 p.m.

St. Paul's Ontario


Barry Campbell LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to launch third reading of Bill C-31, the 1996 budget implementation act.

Of all the legislation proposed by a government, it is budgetary measures that stand at the core because they define the bottom line capabilities and concerns of government itself. This is especially true of Bill C-31. It is legislation dedicated to dramatic discipline change, change in the way government operates, change in how government spends and change in how government establishes and addresses its priorities.

These changes were not proposed just for the sake of it. Our initiatives reflect a reality experienced by governments in Canada as well as elsewhere in the world: they have to reassess their roles and responsibilities.

This does not mean that we have to give up the activities that are the government's reason for being: promoting job creation and economic growth as well as protecting people who are suffering great hardships because of change. Both these missions remain sacred for our government.

However, in this era of diminishing resources and intense global competition-a reality that has an influence on the operation of our economy-we must examine ways to fulfil these responsibilities more efficiently and more economically. We must also make better decisions about the priorities that are under our jurisdiction and about those that are more obviously the concern of other stakeholders in our society.

Getting the government right: that is the challenge at the very heart of this bill. I would like to point out to the House very briefly a few examples taken from the bill itself.

The bill includes measures to allow the Minister of Transport to privatize the government's fleet of grain hopper cars. Other clauses will remove the 10-year ceiling that was imposed on the repayment schedules for students who borrowed money under the Canada Student Loans Act. This will benefit students and may well save the government money by reducing the number of loan defaults. We propose to amend the Radiocommunication Act allowing the Minister of Industry to obtain greater revenues by auctioning off radio spectrum licences.

An important thrust of our government is to develop alternative ways to deliver services. That is why we will be introducing new service agencies and other mechanisms to deliver services to Canadians with the emphasis on better service and greater efficiency. To aid in this process, this bill includes legislative amendments to give the government the administrative mechanisms necessary to ensure a smooth transition to the new service delivery modes.

For instance, changes proposed to the Canada Labour Code and Public Service Staff Relations Act will permit the introduction of successor rights. That means unions will continue to represent their employees as they move from public service employment to other employers within federal jurisdiction. Collective agreements of course will continue to be in force until the terms expire.

We also want these new service agencies to have the tools they need to operate effectively and affordably. We will amend the Financial Administration Act to allow for multiyear appropriations for these organizations.

In the future, we will certainly not be able to improve the efficiency and the effectiveness of the federal administration without giving consideration to our employees, the people providing the services Canadians expect.

As we all know, collective bargaining in the public service was suspended when the previous government implemented the Public Sector Compensation Act. This act will expire, as provided for, in February 1997, when the collective bargaining system will come back into force.

However, when we negotiate conditions of employment with labour unions during the next three years, it will be necessary, in our opinion, to suspend binding arbitration for dispute settlement. We simply cannot afford having independent arbitrators, who are not accountable to Parliament, making decisions that do not reflect our financial situation.

Employees of the House, of the Senate, of the Library of Parliament and of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service are exempted. This is because they do not have the right to strike and are dependent on binding arbitration. In their case, arbitrators will have to take into consideration salary settlements in similar occupational groups in the public service.

This bill will provide authority for a 2.2 per cent increase for non-commissioned members of the Canadian forces. This measure will address the disparity in wages between members of the forces and public service employees, a disparity that existed before the wage freeze.

We are amending the Public Sector Compensation Act to reinstate performance pay after a five year suspension in annual increments for those employees for whom it was suspended when

we introduced the in-range increment freeze two years ago. The bill also contains reform measures regarding public service pensions.

All public service employees, those who will be transferred out and those who stay, will benefit from changes we propose to the Public Service Superannuation Act. This includes the two year vesting of pension benefits and new lock-in provisions. Pension benefits of public servants transferring to other organizations will be fully protected.

I must underscore the fact that the government will consult on the details of these proposals before they come into effect. Amendments to the Public Service Superannuation Act will also give us the flexibility to extend coverage under the act for a limited term to employees who are transferred out of the public service.

There are two further measures we are taking so we can deliver better service while being fiscally responsible. First, we will modify the Financial Administration Act to give Treasury Board the authority to establish group insurance plans for the public service, to set terms for the management of those programs and to acquire such programs by contract. This will allow these programs to be managed in a way that is more consistent with insurance practices in the private sector.

Second, we propose to amend the Public Service Staff Relations Act so that the government can better meet its ongoing youth employment responsibilities. We plan to provide students with learning opportunities and facilitate their transition from school to work. Their employment benefits will reflect their training status.

This is legislation centred on change. It is also legislation that will provide new certainty in an important area of Canadian activity, that is, federal support to provinces to better secure this country's social programs. This bill will amend the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act. We propose to provide secure stable funding for the Canada health and social transfer for an additional five years through to the year 2002-03.

As I have said before, and as the minister has emphasized, there should be no mistake about our commitment to this funding. In fact, in the three years beginning in April 2000, CHST levels are projected to rise. By 2002-03 total CHST entitlements are expected to be $2.3 billion higher than the level set for the fiscal year 1997-98. To provide additional assurance to Canadians, this legislation sets a floor, an ironclad guarantee that cash transfers will be maintained at or above the $11 billion level.

This proposed legislation also provides a new formula for allocating the CHST among provinces. Under this new formula which will be phased in over five years, existing disparities and per capita funding across provinces will be cut in half. Let me point out that the gradual phase-in of the new formula not only gives provinces time to adjust, it gives them maximum certainty in their planning.

It is also worth repeating that this single consolidated block transfer represents a more flexible and mature approach to federal-provincial fiscal relations. It gives the provinces extra flexibility as they design and administer their own programs while safeguarding the social programs Canadians rely on and support.

I remind hon. members of changes that this bill proposes to the Unemployment Insurance Act. Effective January 1 of this year the maximum insurable earnings are to be reduced to $750 per week in comparison with the $845 level which would have resulted under current legislation. Similarly, the maximum weekly benefit drops from $465 per week to $413. These measures will save $200 million in the second half of this year and reduce the UI payroll tax burden on working Canadians.

This bill also amends the Old Age Security Act to lengthen the period of time before newcomers to Canada become entitled to full guaranteed income supplement or spouse's allowance. Under the current system, some immigrants obtain full benefits with as little as one year's residence in Canada. Restricting this easy access will improve the fairness of the system and lessen the burden on Canadian taxpayers.

There is a final issue this legislation deals with which is part of an important national initiative announced just a few weeks ago, and this is adjustment support for the Atlantic provinces in harmonizing their sales taxes with the federal GST. Some voices in the country have tried to make political hay of this decision. However, I am convinced, and the government is convinced, that it is acting in a fair and responsible way and in the long term interests of Canadians.

This bill provides approximately $960 million in adjustment assistance to the provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador over a four-year period. This is intended to cover a fair share of the initial revenue losses they experience under the harmonized sales tax regime.

The government firmly believes, given the benefits that will flow from harmonization, that the total cost is reasonable and responsible. It is fully in keeping with firmly established practices of providing assistance when federal initiatives entail major structural change for provinces. Let me emphasize that this adjustment assistance will not jeopardize our deficit targets. These targets are secure.

In addition to the three provinces previously mentioned, Prince Edward Island, Manitoba and Saskatchewan would also qualify for assistance should they agree to harmonize their sales taxes. Ontario, British Columbia, Alberta and Quebec would not.

This deserves one last comment, more particularly in view of the remarks made in the House and the media when the Quebec finance minister recently sent a bill to the federal government.

In a nutshell, this is a totally groundless request that has everything to do with a separatist project and nothing to do with facts, history and economic common sense.

We are providing this adjustment assistance only to provinces that experience, through tax harmonization, a drop of more than 5 per cent in revenues from their retail sales tax.

But Quebec did not lose any money when it harmonized. Therefore, it is not entitled to any assistance.

Quebec has decided to spread the harmonization process over six years, and has been able to increase its revenues in the process because of the wider tax base of the value-added tax, while it kept taxing many business inputs.

On the basis of the partially harmonized sales tax system in place between 1992 and 1995, Quebec would not have qualified for assistance and once fully harmonized it still will not qualify.

The three Atlantic provinces that are now harmonizing have decided to move to a single tax all at once. This means they will not have the option of boosting revenues during the phase in period. Therefore, the adjustment assistance is essential to ensure they have the opportunity to participate in a single sales tax system on the same basis as Quebec and the other larger provinces.

I have taken up more time than normal at this stage of legislation but Bill C-31 deserves the effort because it will implement wide ranging beneficial change in so many areas.

Let me conclude with the same observation I made to the House finance committee. This bill is the heart and soul of the government's fiscal agenda as laid out in the budget. The story here is quite simple: getting government right. It is one we should all agree on in principle. I trust that the House will provide its approval so we can get on with meeting that goal.

Budget Implementation Act, 1996Government Orders

12:15 p.m.


Yvan Loubier Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, my colleague caught me a bit by surprise. He usually takes a lot more time to explain things. With all the nonsense he said in the last part of his speech on Bill C-31, about us, separatists, acting in bad faith, I was hoping his speech was going to take much longer. However, I have to admit that he caught me by surprise.

I am pleased to take part in the third reading stage debate on Bill C-31, a piece of legislation the official opposition considers very important, especially-and here is what I want to focus on-the part dealing with the compensation paid to three maritime provinces within the partisan initiative launched by the Minister of Finance to harmonize the GST in that region of Canada.

Before tackling head on this compensation issue, I want to go over some historical facts about the GST, although this part of our history is recent, well, maybe not so recent, since it only dates back to the time the Liberals were in the opposition, but that is still a part of our history which is, in my view, full of contradictions and cover-ups about the commitments made by the Liberals concerning the GST. When addressing such an issue, I think it is always important to remind the people of Quebec and of Canada of the many commitments made by the current government.

First of all, let me remind the House that, when the Liberal Party of Canada was in the opposition, when its representatives were sitting on this side of the House, they energetically decried the new goods and services tax introduced by the Conservative government. At the time, how many Liberal members made a big fuss and even raised quite an uproar just to condemn this Conservative policy? Even during the election campaign, at the end of which 54 members of the Bloc Quebecois were elected and now sit in the official opposition, the current Prime Minister made some pretty clear commitments concerning the GST. He said that it was out of the question for him to keep the GST if he ever was elected head of government.

I remember that, four or five months after he was elected, the Prime Minister even said, I think it was on May 2, 1994: "We hate it and we will kill it". There are people in Quebec as well as in Canada who voted for the Liberal Party because they hated this tax, because they believed in the commitments of Liberal members, because they believed that the Liberals, then in the opposition, were going to fight this tax with all their might and eventually, as the Prime Minister and many officials had promised-including the Deputy Prime Minister who was forced to resign lately because of this promise-because they believed that the Liberals were going to abolish the GST as promised. Instead, the government is resorting to the usual smoke screens and introducing the first phase of an in depth reform of the GST signed by the three maritime provinces, that is, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland.

Not only is this in complete violation of the Liberal election promise but this agreement, this vague attempt at a reform of the commodity tax will be extremely costly for all Quebecers and all Canadians. Why? Because the agreement announced approximately one month ago but the technical details of which have not been released yet provides for the payment to the three maritime

provinces of a $961 million compensation over the next four years, that is, almost $1 billion.

This is $1 billion that all Quebecers and all Canadians outside the three maritime provinces will have to pay to compensate for a loss of revenue due to the harmonization of the GST, to this vague attempt at a reform, to this mockery of an attempt at keeping their words by the Liberal Party of Canada, when they had in fact promised to kill the GST.

The government is spending $1 billion to make us believe that it is doing something about the GST. One billion dollars to make the GST disappear, not disappear in the true meaning of the word, but to hypocritically bury it in the price of products in the three maritime provinces. Frankly, it is unacceptable.

That is not what Quebecers and Canadians had understood during the election campaign. In fact, two government members resigned recently precisely to show that the Liberal government did not fulfil its promise, its campaign commitment to abolish the GST. These two Liberal members had the courage of their convictions and decided to inform the public that they could not live with the fact that their party did not fulfil its promise when it signed that agreement with the three maritime provinces.

What precisely are the terms of this agreement? Just like the Government of Quebec, the Government of Alberta and the Government of Ontario, we tried to know the exact terms of the agreement the federal government concluded with New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. We tried to get the details, but all our efforts have been fruitless. Why is the Minister of Finance hiding the exact terms of this agreement from the people of Canada?

We know, in general terms, that the compensation principle applied by the federal government is as follows: the federal government decided, unilaterally, that the provincial sales tax and the federal GST together could not be more than 15 per cent. It has also decided unilaterally, without any consultation, that it would compensate the maritime provinces if the provincial sales tax and the GST combined exceeded 15 per cent. If you look at the three maritime provinces, you will see that the PST and GST combined are just over 19 per cent.

So the federal government has decided unilaterally that the new harmonized sales tax would not exceed 15 per cent and that it would compensate the provinces for the difference between 15 per cent and 19 per cent. The federal government has decided to compensate the governments of the three maritime provinces for this loss of four percentage points in sales tax, even though it represents tax relief for consumers in these provinces.

How did the government estimate this loss? We do not know. We do not know where it got the figures with regard to tax revenues and to the cost of this harmonization exercise, but the finance minister is asking us to trust him, to give him a free hand, just like he does every time he makes deals behind closed doors and then imposes these things upon us, begging us not to ask too many questions. He is telling us to trust him.

The government is giving close to $1 billion to three maritime provinces for a partisan policy, a policy whose sole purpose is to show that the government is doing something about the GST. Do you not think it is a bit expensive? Do you not think it is expensive for Canadian taxpayers outside these three maritime provinces and also for Quebec taxpayers? Between $200 and $250 million of that sum will come from Quebecers. And the remaining $700 million will come from taxpayers from the rest of Canada.

If, in the opinion of several government representatives according to a member of the Liberal Party, we have to pay such a price every time we need to harmonize policies, every time we need to improve the economic and commercial operation of the federation, I wonder what is the value of the federalism these people have been defending desperately since we have come to this place. I wonder what it is worth if a part of the population of Quebec and Canada have to pay such a price every time people on the other side of the House want to improve the tax system.

I will quote someone I do not quote often because our ideas rarely coincide, particularly on constitutional matters. However, I want to quote the chief editorial writer of La Presse , Mr. Dubuc, who, of course, supported our point of view last week-end when he wrote: ``The federal government and its Minister of Finance made a huge blunder when, in order to convince them to harmonize their sales tax with the federal GST, they promised the Atlantic provinces to give them $960 million''. That was written by Alain Dubuc.

He added: "The Chrétien government had to buy them to convince them to adopt the GST system because he absolutely needed their support to be able to claim that he replaced the GST with an harmonized tax of 15 per cent. In other words-and I am still quoting Alain Dubuc from La Presse -$1 billion in public funds were spent in a partisan way for the sole purpose of allowing the Liberal government to claim that it was fulfilling its promise''.

Seeing the official opposition in agreement with Alain Dubuc is like, in Quebec, seeing Gérald Larose in agreement with Ghislain Dufour. Suffice it to say that opposition to the Liberal government's ridiculous GST policy is pretty much unanimous.

More and more Canadians are saying no to this sort of short sighted policy, this one step at a time strategy of claiming successes at various levels. I would say the Liberal Party is a past master at this game.

Quebec harmonized its provincial sales tax with the GST in 1991 and has had one system since then. The two systems of taxation were combined, with one administrative body, the Government of Quebec, administering its own sales tax in addition to the goods and services tax for the federal government. It did not cost the federal government one red cent, except, of course, what it understandably pays for relying on the services of the Government of Quebec to administer the federal goods and services tax.

There was never any question of the sort of compensation that is part of the agreement between the three maritime provinces and the federal government. Why was that? Because in Quebec, everyone recognized-business and the public alike-that some degree of harmonization was necessary in order to facilitate commercial transactions and the operation of the economy. We understood that and we did not need a $1 billion nudge from the federal government. We understood that and we did not need to be bribed to improve the Government of Quebec's system of collecting and administering taxes.

Why must there now be compensation of close to $1 billion for three provinces that are very cosy with the federal government? Why must Canadians in other provinces and Quebecers be made to pay for this local agreement between the federal government and the three maritime provinces? There is something not right about this policy.

Quebecers and Canadians need to understand what the federal government might do for these three provinces further down the road. Not only is there compensation of close to $1 billion paid for nothing-partisan compensation from federalists who normally support this government-but, furthermore, four years from now when the federal compensation comes to an end, it is not impossible, and it is even probable, that equalization payments will take over where the federal government's subsidy leaves off.

Why is this likely to happen? Why must Quebecers and Canadians alike see hundreds of millions of dollars more added on to this bad and partisan contract between the federal government and the three maritime provinces in the next few years? For a number of reasons.

I shall not go into the complex details of the equalization formula, but allow me to give an overview of how it works.

There is an equalization system in Canada, which affects certain provinces, including Quebec, in order to ensure that the poorest provinces, the ones which cannot raise sufficient tax revenues to ensure equivalent levels of services from east to west in Canada, can provide those services. When a complex formula is applied to calculate the taxation base for each province, the ability to collect taxes, this is where equalization payments come in for the poorest provinces.

One of the criteria for applying equalization payments is the tax base. In other words, if a province or provinces-in this case the three maritime provinces-have their tax base reduced by a federal policy related to the changes in the GST, equalization kicks in automatically to replace this reduction in the tax base.

In other words-returning to what was said at the beginning-at this time, when you take the average of the sales taxes in the three maritime provinces and add the GST, you get a taxation rate of over 19 per cent. The Minister of Finance decided it would be 15 per cent in future, so he is lowering the three maritime provinces' tax base by more than 4 points, more than 4 per cent. By doing so, however, by voluntarily reducing consumption taxes by 4 or 5 points, under a partisan agreement that hits all taxpayers in the pocket book, the equalization formula will necessarily kick in because the tax base has been lowered.

Once the $961 million are paid to New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, there is a mechanism which will force all Canadians and Quebecers, with the exception of the Atlantic provinces, to continue to pay this average compensation, hundreds of millions of dollars through equalization payments, because the Finance Minister has decided, in the name of the government, to show off. By doing this he wanted to prove that his government is going ahead with the tax reform, that it has begun to hold its promises on the GST. In fact, the government is doing no such thing since it had actually promised to abolish the GST once in power.

This agreement is getting costly. First of all, it settles nothing, in terms of sales tax harmonisation. There is still going to be a sales tax and there is no single system for the consumption tax in Canada. Second, equalization will come into play in the coming years to add to the first billion dollars paid by the federal government. Third, there is this whole mess created by the finance minister and the government through this agreement.

As if the constitutional muddle he created was not enough, the Prime Minister added to it, through the finance minister, by signing secretly, behind closed doors, this agreement on the GST with three Atlantic provinces, knowing full well that Quebec had harmonized its tax in 1991, at no cost. They did not boast about it. When Quebec costs nothing and Quebec is the most efficient and even one of the most effective partners in the Canadian federation in

trade and economic terms, they try to keep it under wraps, because the nasty separatists do not make good trading partners in this federation.

We are trying to find out more about this agreement. We are trying to find out more about the subject of our remarks this morning, that is, the part of Bill C-31 on the $961 million in compensation paid to the maritime provinces. What is distressing, however, is that we have had no response from the government. We asked for the detailed agreement between the federal government and the three maritime provinces. And we, the Bloc Quebecois, the official opposition, are not the only ones to ask for it. The Government of Quebec asked for it, as did the governments of Ontario and Alberta. Instead of responding, making things clear and revealing the details of the agreement, the Minister of Finance hid behind terms that needed tidying up, saying it would have to wait until next year, perhaps.

This is unacceptable. The Minister of Finance signs an agreement with some members of the Canadian federation that costs us $1 billion, and he refuses to tell us how he reached the figure of $1 billion. This is not normal. He will say: "You know the details. Sales taxes are at approximately 19 per cent in the maritimes at the moment. I have decided unilaterally that the combined tax, the new GST, will be no higher than 15 per cent, and I have decided to make up the difference".

There are a number of other questions the Minister of Finance is refusing to answer. The first one that comes to mind, which I mentioned earlier, concerns the real cost of the agreement. We are not talking simply about $961 million. There are other implications in terms of equalization payments.

The second question is: "How were the calculations made?" Any figure can be arrived at, it is only a matter of working from solid assumptions. But on what basis, on what assumptions was this deal with the maritimes reached, and how was the famous figure of $961 million arrived at?

For example, what is the anticipated revenue from the new goods and services tax in the three maritime provinces for the coming years? Do we at least have projected revenue for 1997-98, 1998-99, 1999-2000 and the following years? It is essential to know this. It is essential because, in addition to reducing the rate in the maritimes from 19 per cent to 15 per cent on average, the tax base has been extended, the new tax has been extended and will from now on apply to services in New Brunswick, in Nova Scotia and in Newfoundland. What more will this bring in, in terms of revenue? Is the extension to services of a 15 per cent tax-which was not applicable to services before-going to generate so much revenue that it will compensate for the reduction of the present tax on goods from 19 per cent to 15 per cent?

It is important to know this. If this extension generates extra revenue, could it be, this is the third question, that the compensation of nearly $1 billion-$250 million and $700 million of which are paid respectively by Quebecers and people in other Canadian provinces-is not necessary? The Minister of Finance said that it was necessary. This is not the way to govern a country. This is not the way to inform the public about the activities of a government, about justified actions of a government.

People need to be given explanations, they need to know this kind of detail to be able to judge the appropriateness of this deal. For the moment, the impression we have-not only us but people like Alain Dubuc, who are not necessarily and even rarely on the side of the official opposition or the Bloc Quebecois-is that it looks suspicious. Not only does it seem partisan, we have indications that it really is, according to the consensus reached outside the maritimes, in particular in Quebec, Ontario and Alberta.

Another question deserves an answer from the Minister of Finance, namely: "What were the alternatives?" Considering what happened in Quebec, where both taxes were harmonized without it costing the rest of the country a single cent, where Quebec succeeded in balancing its tax base and found different ways of managing its taxation system effectively, how is it that no alternative was considered to the agreement reached between the Minister of Finance and the three maritime provinces?

Could it be that, if the Minister of Finance had done his homework, if it had not been only a partisan matter for the federal government, there could have been other ways of compensating for lost revenues in the three maritime provinces within their own taxation systems?

If the finance minister had acted properly, and had wisely and competently analyzed the evolution of the tax burden as well as the present tax burden of taxpayers in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland, he would have easily realized-it does not take a rocket scientist for that-that, by lowering the consumption tax from 19 per cent to 15 per cent with his new policy, he was doing them a favour.

However certain adjustments to the provincial income tax in these three provinces might have been necessary. Without increasing the total tax burden of people in these three maritime provinces, personal and corporate income taxes could have been slightly increased in these three provinces in order to offset the loss in revenue from the consumption tax. It would have been legitimate, efficient and normal since taxpayers in these three provinces will see their consumption tax reduced by four to five points over the next few years and, unless it is decided otherwise, forever.

Would it not have been more logical to find a local solution to a local problem of tax harmonization and efficiency? I think so, and I believe it does not take much figuring out to reach this conclusion. I believe that if the finance minister had really wanted to contribute to improved taxation and to the harmonization of a new tax across Canada, he would have gone about it differently. It would not have been difficult.

I am extremely disappointed by the government's handling of this issue. As I said before, until now we have not succeeded, just as the Quebec government and other provincial governments have not succeeded in obtaining details of this agreement.

Today, in this House, I would like to present the government with a formal request. Would it be possible to shortly obtain all the documents, not only the press releases and the media documentation, but also the technical data at the basis of the $961 million figure, the technical data which would support some sound projections on tax revenues in the maritimes and a cost projection for the harmonization?

When we spend $1 billion, it seems only reasonable that people know what they are paying for. Until now the finance minister's attitude has been outrageous. This scandalous decision comes after others like the $2 billion invested in family trusts which crossed over to the United States without a penny being paid in taxes on capital gains.

For two and a half years now, we have been asking the government to act on that issue. For two and a half years, we have been saying it is inadmissible, but the government does nothing; they sit there and say family trusts are unimportant. That is why $2 billion from two family trusts were transferred south of the border tax free. Today, the government realizes the problem and says maybe we should review the taxation system. For two and a half years, we have been saying that the taxation system makes no sense. Now the government is asking the finance committee to find a solution. It was high time.

To avoid repeating the mistakes due to its incompetence, why is the government not listening to the official opposition, the Government of Quebec, the governments of Ontario and Alberta, Canadians and Quebecers who are asking that it suspend the process leading to the payment of a billion dollars in compensation to three maritime provinces, and that the whole question of harmonization of the GST be submitted to the next meeting of finance ministers which is to be held around June 18?

It seems to me that the process would be somewhat more open if the government were to table all the relevant data relating to the GST and make them available to all representatives of the Canadian provinces and Quebec, so they could talk about it and find ways to improve the federal tax system and the provincial tax systems.

It seems to me that, for once, it would be nice to have the Minister of Finance follow his own logic. We are talking about harmony, not just harmonization, between the federal government and the provinces, but when the time comes to make concrete decisions, goodbye harmony. As my colleague from Rimouski-Témiscouata would say: poof! harmony.

It seems to me it is high time that, for such important questions regarding taxation of consumer goods and services, the Minister of Finance be more open, that he table the technical documents we request and, moreover, that he discuss this question of harmonization of the GST and provincial sales taxes with his provincial counterparts at the next conference. In the meantime, he should stop implementing processes like this one which involves payment of $1 billion in compensation.

I think that most Quebecers and Canadians would be better off if the Minister of Finance were to listen to us, for once, and stopped acting that way. For all these reasons, on top of asking for suspension of the payment of $961 million, I urge all my colleagues in the official opposition, in the Bloc Quebecois, to vote against this bill.

Budget Implementation Act, 1996Government Orders

12:50 p.m.


Leon Benoit Reform Vegreville, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak at third reading of Bill C-31, the budget implementation act. In my speech I will critique the latest Liberal budget on how it responds to the wants and needs of Canadians.

I will focus on the main concern of all Canadians, namely, the creation and preservation of long term sustainable jobs. I will critique the Liberal government's performance in creating jobs, which is what it promised during the last election and since, and compare the results with the Reform Party's plan for economic prosperity.

A government budget is more than a forecast of spending practices. It is a game plan, a master plan which tells the people what are the intentions, the priorities and the goals of their government. It is a promise of performance.

The previous budgets of this government have been small steps in the right direction. The intention: deficit reduction. The priority: job creation. The goal: a better economic future for Canadians.

Even though the route taken by the Liberals has been slow, arcane and convoluted, on this side of the House we felt that they were headed in the right direction with past budgets. The 1996-97 budget is a much different story. The intention: to pull the wool over the eyes of Canadians. The priority: to maintain the status quo. The goal: to lead Canadians to believe that it has delivered on its promises in order to get re-elected. Canadians are smarter than that.

The government has promoted its political interest by subordinating the interests of hard working, tax paying Canadians. The government and, in particular, the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance should be ashamed of themselves. We in the Reform Party feel that it is our obligation as elected representatives to get to our electorate to find out what our constituents want and to represent them in the manner in which they want to be represented. As this is not the practice of many members opposite I will take a few moments to tell them what Canadians wanted from this budget.

Canadians wanted five things. They wanted long term sustainable jobs, tax relief, long term sustainability for social programs, an increased standard of living and to know when the government will balance the budget. Many Canadians have come to realize that the first four items on their list cannot be achieved until the government stops adding to the debt and the interest payments to service the debt. This list cannot be achieved if the debt is not stabilized and then reduced.

This list is not too much to ask from a government that campaigned on creating opportunities. Canadians were not expecting the government to create for them the opportunity to file bankruptcy or the opportunity to watch their jobs head south of the border or the opportunity to see their payroll and gas taxes skyrocket. It is probably not very comforting for Canadians to know that all of these opportunities are considered to be acts of God by our Prime Minister.

Rhetoric aside, let us take a closer look at this taxpayers' wish list to see how well this budget comes through for Canadians. First is the area of long term sustainable jobs. Canadians want work. They want to pursue employment opportunities created through a healthy and prosperous economy.

The government claims to have created hundreds of thousands of jobs. In the year ended December 31, 1995, employment had grown only a meagre 8,000 jobs. That is a fact. This number represents half a per cent of the labour force. Of course, these jobs were not created by government-nor should jobs be-but rather by companies and individuals.

The national unemployment figure is hovering just shy of the double digit range and does not take into account those who are no longer looking for work. The actual percentage of unemployed Canadians is approximately 13 per cent when including those who have given up looking for work. This figure is doubled when applied to unemployed youth.

The government has said that it is dealing with student unemployment. The budget contains a new initiative to spend $250 million on jobs for a few lucky students. These jobs will provide summer employment for a minute percentage of our youth. However, the initiative will not help to create real employment opportunities after graduation.

I would have thought that after the huge success-I say this with tongue in cheek-of the national infrastucture program, the government would have realized that throwing money into make work projects does not create meaningful jobs.

The second thing Canadians want from a budget and from a government is tax relief. The level of taxation in this country is one of the major job killers. This happens on many different fronts. Many corporations that are looking to expand operations do not consider Canada because of the outrageous level of taxation. It is a killer of potential jobs for Canadians.

Many companies in Canada cannot afford to maintain the size of their workforce due to the taxation cost per employee. This results in mass layoffs and downsizing and is the killer of present jobs.

In 1995, based on an average family income of $57,000, this family paid over $27,000 in taxes of one type or another. That is a taxation level of 46 per cent. Some estimates show the level at over 50 per cent when all types of taxation are considered. The average Canadian family's tax bill has increased by over 1,000 per cent since 1961 under successive Liberal and Conservative governments. That is not double, nor is it increased by a factor of 10. It is a shameful record. This budget does not provide tax relief.

Third, Canadians expect the budget and the government to preserve social programs. Canadians are concerned that the funding available for social programs such as health care, old age security and unemployment insurance will be swallowed up by debt servicing costs, that is, the interest payments on the debt. Currently Canada wastes close to $50 billion a year servicing the debt. That $50 billion is no longer available for social program spending on important programs such as health, education and pensions.

This has resulted in tax grabs and clawbacks, especially from our seniors. The changes to the mandatory withdrawal of RRSPs and the clawback on federal pensions at $40,000 are robbing our retired seniors of the savings they struggled for decades to accumulate.

The government promised to maintain universality of social programs. During the last election campaign the Reform Party proposed reducing and eliminating pensions for seniors who were above the average Canadian household income of $53,000. When we came out in the open and presented very honestly our zero in three plan the Liberals condemned us to Canadians for wanting to end universality of social programs. In the finance minister's last

budget he, the same person who condemned us for our zero in three plan, ended universality of seniors pensions.

The dishonesty is astounding. I think Canadians should know about it and consider it as we get into this next election period.

By not dealing with the deficit in the budget and with the debt continuing to grow and therefore the cost of servicing the debt, the government is jeopardizing the social programs which are most important to Canadians.

The fourth thing Canadians wanted and expected from the budget was an increase in the standard of living. For the last two decades Canadians' standard of living has been dropping. That is, take home pay after taxes and other payroll deductions has been decreasing steadily for the last couple of decades. Since 1989 Canadians have suffered an 8.6 per cent drop in real disposable income. That is just since 1989. This is attributable to an ever increasing tax bill. Due to ever growing levels of taxes and payroll deductions Canadians have less money to invest, to buy a car with, to buy a home with or to take that elusive dream vacation.

The Canadian standard of living has stagnated and regressed to the point where present and future generations will be worse off than their parents. This scenario is courtesy of the tax and spend policies of the present and previous Liberal and Conservative governments. Clearly the blame is to be laid on previous Liberal and Conservative governments and on this Liberal government.

The budget does not allow for an increase in the Canadian standard of living, the fourth thing Canadians wanted and expected from the government and the budget.

The fifth thing they wanted was a definite date for balancing the budget. In a recent poll 66 per cent of Canadians surveyed expressed the belief that the government has not gone far enough with its deficit reduction plan. The Liberals are content to delay the inevitable, bleeding red ink at a rate of over $80 million a day. This means the government spends $80 million a day, still more than it brings in; this is in spite of huge increases in tax revenues over the term of the government.

Every legislative body in the country has made a commitment to get its financial house in order except for the federal government. Because of this inaction the national debt is barrelling toward $600 billion. Currently the debt load is over $40,000 for every Canadian taxpayer.

The government blames the private sector for not doing its part to create jobs. Instead of lecturing the business community on how to create jobs, the government should work hard and make the difficult decisions necessary to balance its books by the end of this mandate. In doing so it would create an environment conducive to economic growth and job creation.

I quote the finance minister from his budget speech of February 1994: "For years governments have been promising more than they can deliver and delivering more than they can afford. This has to end and we are ending it".

The question that comes to mind now is when. When will the government end the ever increasing debt which requires the ever increasing interest payments to service?

The government's budgets have left Canadians with a deficit of over $30 billion. Since the Liberals took power in 1993 the national debt has grown by over $100 billion. The only thing the Liberals are putting an end to are jobs, economic growth, disposable income and certainly not the ever increasing debt.

It is not my intention to paint a dismal picture of Canada. Canadians are creative, industrious, hard working people who deserve a government which will legislate changes in their best interests.

Canada has the potential to be one of the economic powers of the global market. However, until the financial crisis is under control this potential of prosperity is in jeopardy. Do not take my work for it. This is what the experts are saying about this past budget of the finance minister, the budget which this legislation we are debating today would implement.

Diane Francis of the Financial Post stated:

The Liberals are not doing the cutting fast enough. By failing to cut deeper, faster, the Liberals ignore the real possibility that another recession will hit in a year or two and land us back in the deficit.

From Ernst & Young's budget analysis:

The government did not seize a most important opportunity to clearly reinforce its resolve to deal with our national finances. It is important that all Canadians not only understand when a balanced budget will be realized but also when surpluses will be created to facilitate tax reductions, systemic debt retirement and greater flexibility with our important social programs.

From Catherine Swift, president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business:

If we are going to see some enduring job creation and not just some political quick fixes like some of our youth initiatives, then we have to see a reduction in taxation on jobs, and we did not see that in this budget.

From the business editor of the Ottawa Sun , Stuart McCarthy:

We are all left sitting on a ticking time bomb which grows by the second called the national debt.

Granted, it is easy to sit back and criticize another's work, but it is much more difficult and credible to offer an alternative. That is what we in the Reform Party did when we published the taxpayers budget. I find it strange that the Prime Minister and the finance minister continually avoid our questions in question period by

asking us where our new budget is. When you do it right the first time, you do not have to redo it.

We did it right the first time with our taxpayers budget. The taxpayers budget is a logical, comprehensive, efficient plan to balance the federal budget. We stood behind it when it was first released in early 1995 and so did many of the experts. We still stand behind it because it works.

When asked difficult questions regarding cuts to social programs, the finance minister often refers to the so-called cold hearted Reform Party. He would have Canadians believe that I and my colleagues would sell our dear mothers down the river in the name of deficit reduction. It is the finance minister who has not only sold mothers down the river but has sent the farm with them.

The Reform Party's taxpayers budget established an old age pension clawback for those seniors whose yearly household income is $54,000 or higher. We felt these seniors were able to live comfortably without the assistance of the federal government. This was a difficult decision to make but we were forthright and had the courage to state our objections in writing.

The Liberal plan for old age security, and I have referred to it already, establishes a clawback for seniors benefits at $40,000 a year and ends universality of seniors pensions. Surely the finance minister must be apologetic to our mothers and fathers who find themselves paddleless on that infamous creek.

The finance minister is suddenly and conspicuously quiet on the subject.

Why is he so quiet? My guess is he has finally taken time to read our taxpayers budget and is trying to steal our ideas without our noticing. I have news for the finance minister. He can have them. We presented the taxpayers budget for him to look at and to learn from. That was our intent.

He would do well to take them and put them in effect. We would see the positive results of that budget. To make it absolutely clear, the Liberal government has cut about $3.5 billion more in the areas of health care, education and welfare than the Reform Party proposed in our taxpayers budget.

The same government, Prime Minister and finance minister who call Reformers heartless have themselves reduced federal government payments for health care, welfare and education by $3.5 billion more than the Reform taxpayers budget.

What would Canadians gain through the implementation of the taxpayers budget? If I wanted to be curt, I could mention everything they have lost through the irresponsible practices of the present and past Liberal and Conservative administrations. Unfortunately it is not that simple.

The most important aspect of the taxpayers budget is that it takes place over a relatively short time period. Canadians would regain control of their financial lives quickly. Canadians would be freed from the strains of our overburdened tax system and would be able to plan for their futures in a stable economy with sustainable, universal social programs.

The taxpayers budget offers deficit elimination and tax relief which would stimulate long term private sector job creation. It offers a more secure society established through the re-examination and reform of social programs, the unemployment of individuals and families and the decentralization of social program delivery.

Reform's formula is one that will eliminate the deficit in a quick, calculated, humanitarian way. Debt reduction and increased consumer activity will lead to job creation. However, there are other essential components to creating employment opportunities.

These are spelled out in Reform's five R plan in the taxpayers budget: reduce the federal debt, relieve Canadians of their tax burden, restore labour market efficiency and reduce social program dependence, remove barriers to internal and external trade, and renew Canada's physical and intellectual infrastructure.

The combination of these components is a sure fire way to create an environment in which the private sector can thrive and in so doing create long term, sustainable employment.

I have already spoken of the importance of reducing the deficit and relieving Canadians of their tax burden. Notwithstanding the importance of the previously stated issues, I will focus the remainder of my speech on an area of job creation which I am particularly interested in.

As the Reform Party internal trade critic, I am quite concerned about the lack of action taken by the government in dismantling barriers to internal trade. We in the House recently debated Bill C-19, implementing an agreement on internal trade.

The government stated in the red book and in both throne speeches that it is committed to the dismantling of the barriers to internal trade. If this were truly the case, why did the government pass Bill C-19 two weeks ago, 10 months after the agreement on internal trade came into effect?

While the agreement on internal trade is weak and in some areas actually tends to enshrine barriers, exactly the opposite of its intention, at least it was a start. Yet the legislation to implement the agreement was not passed in the House until 10 months after the agreement came into effect, almost two years after the agreement was reached in the first place.

Interprovincial trade barriers cost Canadians jobs and money. These are the two criteria budgets traditionally address, jobs and money. A budget is supposed to outline what initiatives have been undertaken to stimulate the economy, resulting in jobs and money.

This budget is a sunshine budget. The message of don't worry, be happy does not wash with me or with Canadian taxpayers. We are supposed to believe the government is doing all it can for Canadians. To listen to the finance minister, he has not left a stone unturned in his search for job creation and debt reduction.

Unbelievably, the Prime Minister stated last week in Calgary that high unemployment is unbeatable. The Prime Minister has thrown up his hands and has said that we will have to live with unemployment because we cannot beat it. Canadians are stuck with high unemployment under this government. If the Prime Minister is throwing up his hands and surrendering to unemployment, then he should step aside. There is plenty which can be done right here at home to deal with the high unemployment rate.

To start with, quick action should be taken to remove barriers to internal trade. These barriers between the provinces are a serious hurdle on the road to economic prosperity. Business groups, think tanks and academics across Canada all agree that it is in the economic best interests of all Canadians for trade barriers to be eliminated.

According to the Fraser Institute, if Canadian firms were able to operate freely across the country, the average Canadian household income would rise by as much as $3,500 a year. This is another means of putting dollars back in the hands of Canadians. This is a matter that this government refuses to address in a serious way.

The Canadian Manufacturers' Association, the Fraser Institute, the C.D. Howe Institute and others estimate that internal trade barriers cost Canadian businesses between $6 billion and $10 billion a year. It amazes me that this situation has not been addressed in any substantive way by the government. Stephen Van Houten, president of the Canadian Manufacturers' Association, said that trade barriers result in lost sales, lost investment and lost jobs.

Many Canadian businesses have had to resort to going through the United States, through American companies, in order to do business with businesses in other Canadian provinces. It is sad that it is easier to do business with the United States and Mexico than it is with other provinces.

Members may ask how this will affect job creation. Many companies are forced to leave Canada because they simply cannot afford to stay. When they leave they take with them Canadian jobs. Businesses leave Canada, certainly for many reasons, all of which must be eliminated.

I have already talked about the high taxes and payroll deductions driving businesses and jobs out of Canada. Excessive government regulation and interference is another factor causing businesses to leave this country. The restrictions and barriers to internal trade are another. We are not talking about a few dozen jobs. We are talking about tens of thousands and probably hundreds of thousands of jobs all lost because government in this country will not eliminate the barriers to internal trade.

I will cite one example. I will not use the company's name because I have not asked permission to do so. There is a company in northern Ontario that specializes in the high tech industrial heat treating of materials. This company is state of the art. Its workers are highly skilled at their trade. The company entered into tendering competitions for government contracts in Manitoba and Quebec. In both cases, the Ontario company could provide the best product at the lowest price. There was no doubt about that.

In both cases it was awarded conditional contracts. In Manitoba, the job would be awarded if this company would post an enormous payroll bond to cover its workers, a bond which was completely out of reach for this small company. In Quebec, the contract would be awarded only if Quebec workers were used. This is a highly specialized company which has spent a lot of time and money training staff to do a highly specialized job very efficiently. In both cases, the cost of doing business in Canada was too high.

The company is now contemplating taking its business and its high paying jobs to the United States where it can use the NAFTA agreement to gain access to Ontario and Manitoba. Does this make any sense? This kind of nonsense has to end and it must end quickly.

I could literally go on for hours citing examples of unjust trade restrictions within Canada. They would all draw the same conclusion: we must do something to rectify the situation. Patriotism should not be the sole rationale for doing business inside Canada.

With regard to internal trade barriers many companies have stated that the only reason they are staying in this country is that they are patriotic Canadians. One after another have said that patriotism can only go so far and that if things do not change, these companies will move their businesses to the United States, Mexico or elsewhere.

I will now summarize the government's approach to budgets to date. In the 1994-95 budget the Liberals tried to grow out of debt through make work projects. In the 1995-96 budget the Liberals tried to tax their way out of debt through payroll and gasoline taxes. The 1996-97 budget is really a do nothing budget intended to

stupefy the masses into believing that all is fine and that the problem has been solved.

I will conclude by reading an excerpt from the C.D. Howe study, "Deficit Reductions-What Pain, What Gain". This study should be required reading for anyone who believes that we can first, grow our way out of debt; second, tax our way out of debt; third, do nothing about our fiscal crisis. The study concludes by stating that short term sacrifice for deficit elimination can yield a rich, long term return.

The long term benefits of balancing budgets in a quick and efficient manner will accomplish the following: First is income and job security. A balanced budget will put an end to the downward spiral that we have seen in take home pay over the past 20 years. Second, it will provide tax relief. By controlling spending and balancing the federal budget, taxation levels would be reduced in conjunction with deficit and debt reduction. Third is social program security. By ending the continual increase in interest payments on the debt, tax dollars could be directed to maintaining social programs such as health, education and pensions which are so important to Canadians.

The answer is quite clear. The environment for job creation can be achieved through the taxpayers budget or a similar approach. It also will require dealing with and eliminating internal trade barriers. This can and must be done.

Through my speech today I have shown that the 1996-97 Liberal budget and the Liberal government's entire approach to fiscal reform is ineffective and does not respond to the needs of Canadians which have been stated quite clearly across the country. In this budget Canadians wanted job creation, not vote creation. I believe that Canadians can see through the statements of the finance minister and others that the problem has been solved. The budget will not end up being a vote creator.

Budget Implementation Act, 1996Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The Chair had an indication that another colleague wished to speak but I do not see him in the House.

Is the House ready for the question?