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House of Commons Hansard #146 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

March 18th, 1997 / 2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Bloc Mercier, QC

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

Last week, much to our surprise, the minister disputed the undeniable figures provided by Statistics Canada to the effect that, for 1996, just over 40 per cent of the unemployed were receiving UI. We can understand that this is shocking for the minister, but it is even more shocking for those who are unemployed and unable to draw benefits.

I therefore ask the minister again how he explains to the one and a half million people without jobs, to all those paying into the UI fund, that, when the Liberals came to power, 60 per cent of the unemployed received UI, while in 1996 this dropped to 41 per cent and, in the last six months, to 36 per cent. How does he explain this?

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Michel Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I did not completely disagree with the member's allegation last week.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew Liberal Papineau—Saint-Michel, QC

What I said was that the figure did not include workers who may now, in our system, continue to work up to a certain amount and, now that our system is more flexible, there are people who may continue to work and receive EI benefits at the same time.

If these people are included, the figure is approximately 48 per cent, a major improvement. But it is obvious that the system must be improved and we must ensure that more and more Canadians learn to work with it and I am confident that this figure will go up, as it has already been doing monthly.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Bloc Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, this is unbelievable. The minister is telling us that we should include those receiving supplements among the unemployed. But, Mr. Speaker, there are no more of them now than there were before, and they have never been included.

I ask him whether he is aware that, for 1996 alone, there was$3 billion less available to the unemployed in Quebec and in Canada to help them through times of difficulty because of the Liberal government?

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Michel Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, to my surprise, the member has obviously misunderstood what I said. She was undoubtedly very distracted by certain activities in recent weeks and did not have the time to really examine the issue. She is now the one who does not understand it.

What I told you was not those entitled to the income supplement, that is completely obvious. What I said, and the member pretends not to understand, is that those now entitled to a certain income, because you can work up to a certain amount, are now covered in a system that is really much more interesting. That is the situation.

ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Reform

Val Meredith Reform Surrey—White Rock—South Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, recently a young immigrant arrived in Montreal with her approved Canadian residency papers but was refused entry into Canada by the Canadian immigration officer because Quebec had not granted her the right to live in Quebec.

While the Canada-Quebec accord permits Quebec to select economic immigrants to that province, it also acknowledges that every person with permanent resident status is granted mobility rights, equal protection and equal benefit without discrimination.

What right did the minister's department officials have to deny entry to an immigrant who arrived in Quebec with documents which stated that this individual has been approved for residency in Canada?

ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Saint-Henri—Westmount Québec

Liberal

Lucienne Robillard LiberalMinister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, it is very clear that, under the 1991 Canada-Quebec agreement on immigration, Quebec has power over the selection and settlement of immigrants.

What does this mean in reality? When a person wants to immigrate to our country, and wants to settle in the province of Quebec, Quebec's and Canada's offices abroad work together, so that the person arrives at our borders with a Quebec selection certificate in hand, as well as a permit to settle in Canada.

Unfortunately, in the case in question, the person had neglected to bring the Quebec selection certificate. So the problem is only a technical one. But I can assure the hon. members of this House that

the Canada-Quebec accord is working very well at the present time with respect to immigration.

ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Reform

Val Meredith Reform Surrey—White Rock—South Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, this individual was also refused entry into Ontario because this person was not going to reside in Ontario but in Quebec.

This is just another example of the government's policy of exclusion that treats people differently across the country. This is still a united country and it would be nice if the government acted as if it were.

Is the minister prepared to instruct Canadian immigration officers that approval for permanent residency in Canada is valid from coast to coast to coast?

ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Saint-Henri—Westmount Québec

Liberal

Lucienne Robillard LiberalMinister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, I encourage my colleague to read the Constitution of Canada wherein it is stated very clearly that immigration is a shared responsibility between the Canadian government and the provinces.

When provinces such as Quebec, Manitoba and others want to take on the responsibility of immigration we are very pleased. We all realize the provinces also have a role to play in integrating immigrants into our country.

Social HousingOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Gilbert Fillion Bloc Chicoutimi, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the minister responsible for the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

For nearly a year now, the minister has been announcing that she was on the verge of negotiating with the provinces the transfer of all federal social housing programs. When questioned on this by the Bloc Quebecois, close to ten months ago now, the minister stated that negotiations were progressing well, and implied that an agreement was imminent.

Now that her government has settled with Saskatchewan, and is exhibiting all sorts of good intentions on the eve of an election, will the minister act in good faith at the negotiating table, in order to finally reach agreements with the other provinces, Quebec among them?

Social HousingOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Sudbury Ontario

Liberal

Diane Marleau LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member has said, we have signed an agreement with the province of Saskatchewan. We are preparing to sign another, this week probably.

As for Quebec, we shall continue to work with them. They know what we have on the table, and they can look at the agreements we have completed as well. We shall continue our efforts in order to keep our promises.

Social HousingOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Gilbert Fillion Bloc Chicoutimi, QC

Mr. Speaker, since Quebec has faced a $120 million annual shortfall for more than ten years in this area, can the minister promise during the negotiations under way that Quebec will receive fair and full financial compensation?

Social HousingOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Sudbury Ontario

Liberal

Diane Marleau LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, Quebec knows full well what is on the table.

In the past, Quebec did not want to take part in programs and the federal government honoured its wishes. Now, we are going to continue to operate under the terms of the agreements we have with Quebec. That is what is on the table, nothing else.

HousingOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Elijah Harper Liberal Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development.

One of the serious problems facing aboriginal communities in northern Manitoba is housing. The shortage of adequate housing poses a threat to the well-being and health of thousands of my constituents.

Will the minister tell us what he is doing to address the serious housing problems in northern Manitoba?

HousingOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Sault Ste. Marie Ontario

Liberal

Ron Irwin LiberalMinister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question, not because of the essence of the question but because he brings a knowledge and base to the House which remind us of just what a shortfall there is. We can talk about quality housing and training but we have to walk the talk, which means taking our dollars and focusing them on where the need is.

I am pleased to report to the member that over the next five years we will allocate $140 million in extra money. In 1996-97 there will be a package of $352 million. In Manitoba generally there will be an additional $28 million.

The hon. member has brought the need in Shamattawa to our attention. There will be $826,000 for the winter road; an additional $500,000 to hit the April 1 deadline; $2.3 million for design and construction; and $2 million for the design and construction of a water treatment plant.

Biotechnology ResearchOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Reform

Chuck Strahl Reform Fraser Valley East, BC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of International Trade.

Last month the minister had the honour of having a research centre in Israel named after him. I am sure it is only a coincidence but only two days before the announcement of the naming of the Art Eggleton Centre of Molecular Medicine Research, a biotechnology centre, his department announced a grant of $3 million for biotechnology research in Israel.

Is the minister purchasing personal monuments with Canadian taxpayers' dollars?

Biotechnology ResearchOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

York Centre Ontario

Liberal

Art Eggleton LiberalMinister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, I was very honoured by the Technion Institute's gesture which I think is a recognition of Canada's involvement in helping to support that fine institute.

The Canada-Israel Industrial Research Development Foundation is a totally separate matter. It is a totally separate fund that was established some three to four years ago to help promote a matchmaking between Israeli firms and Canadian firms for research and development in high technology co-operative areas.

That has produced a great deal of jobs in both Israel and Canada. It is a very solid and a very good program. It is in no way connected to the great honour that the Technion Institute bestowed upon me and upon this country.

Biotechnology ResearchOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Reform

Chuck Strahl Reform Fraser Valley East, BC

Mr. Speaker, it reminds me of the Carly Simon song: "You're so Vain" You probably think this question is about you, don't you?

There is a cyclotron in Chalk River, a world class research institution in Canada. The government is to shut it down. It is likely to cut it up for scrap. All it needs is $3 million to keep it open.

If the people at Chalk River promise to name the cyclotron after the minister, will he grant it the money to keep the cyclotron in operation?

Biotechnology ResearchOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

York Centre Ontario

Liberal

Art Eggleton LiberalMinister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, the research foundation in Israel has produced tremendous results in terms of promotion of trade and investment opportunities both in Israel and in Canada. It is creating thousands of jobs for Canadians.

That is the trade and opportunity that have arisen out of the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement I helped to present. There is absolutely no connection with the other matter, but I am greatly honoured by the Technion Institute's offer.

AlbaniaOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Bloc

Stéphane Bergeron Bloc Verchères, QC

Mr. Speaker, I was most interested in the minister's reply, although he could have spared a word about the Tokamak in Varennes.

My question is directed to the Minister of Foreign Affairs. Faced with the disintegration of Albania and the unpredictable consequences of this situation, the foreign affairs ministers of the European Union, NATO, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, and the Western European Union have made no concrete proposals for dealing with the current crisis.

Since the mediation mission of former Austrian chancellor Franz Vranitsky, which was supported by Canada, appears to have failed, could the minister tell us what he now intends to do to help deal with this crisis?

AlbaniaOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Winnipeg South Centre Manitoba

Liberal

Lloyd Axworthy LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member just recognized in his question that the international organizations of OSCE and NATO have both looked at the matter.

There is a mission of OSCE members right now of which Canada is a part to determine what kind of initiative might be helpful to bring stability to that area. That is why there have not been any specific recommendations. Therefore we as a government do not respond until we receive the proposals put forward by the European Union.

AlbaniaOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Bloc

Stéphane Bergeron Bloc Verchères, QC

Mr. Speaker, considering that since February 28, the wave of violence in Albania has left more than 80 people dead and 600 wounded and that the situation may continue to deteriorate, could the minister tell us whether he agrees with the Turkish position which favours, for instance, NATO's intervention to restore peace in Albania?

AlbaniaOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Winnipeg South Centre Manitoba

Liberal

Lloyd Axworthy LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, Canada is a good citizen and works very much within the multilateral organization.

If there are joint decisions by the OSCE and NATO to take action we would have to look at them. So far there have not been any recommendations made to us from individual countries. Each of these organizations can come forward with proposals but there must be an agreement or a consensus.

We are very concerned about the situation in Albania. We have provided assistance to get Canadians out of that stress ridden country. In this case the countries closest to the area in Europe are

looking at the situation and will make recommendations. The Government of Canada will then respond.

Tobacco ProductsOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Reform

Keith Martin Reform Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, documents from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada show very clearly that the government is using taxpayers' money to fund research into increasing the addictive potential of cigarettes. I quote: "They want to improve the level of nicotine and focus on higher nicotine content".

My question is for the Prime Minister. As leader of the government how could the Prime Minister possibly justify using Canadian taxpayers' money to find ways in which to increase the addictive power of cigarettes?