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House of Commons Hansard #153 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was banks.

Topics

Government Response To PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Peterborough Ontario

Liberal

Peter Adams LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to 20 petitions.

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Roger Gallaway Liberal Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the first report of the Special Joint Committee on Child Custody and Access.

The committee is requesting an additional two weeks' time to complete its final report.

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Peterborough Ontario

Liberal

Peter Adams LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present the 44th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs regarding the selection of votable items in accordance with Standing Order 92.

This report is deemed adopted on presentation.

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Peterborough Ontario

Liberal

Peter Adams LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I suggest that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is this agreed?

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-53, an act to increase the availability of financing for the establishment, expansion, modernization and improvement of small businesses, as reported (with amendment) from the committee.

Canada Small Business Financing ActGovernment Orders

10:05 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

There are 16 motions in amendment standing on the Notice Paper for the report stage of Bill C-53, an act to increase the availability of financing for the establishment, expansion, modernization and improvement of small businesses.

Motion No. 1 will be debated and voted on separately.

Motions Nos. 2 to 5 will be grouped for debate and voted on as follows. A vote on Motion No. 4 applies to Motion No. 5. Motions Nos. 2 and 3 will be voted on separately.

Motions Nos. 6 and 11 will be grouped for debate and voted on as follows. Motions Nos. 6 and 11 will be voted on separately.

Motions Nos. 7 and 8 will be grouped for debate and voted on as follows: an affirmative vote on Motion No. 7 obviates the necessity of the question being put on Motion No. 8, and a negative vote on Motion No. 7 requires a question being put on Motion No. 8.

Motions Nos. 9 and 10 will be grouped for debate and voted on as follows. A vote on Motion No. 9 applies to Motion No. 10.

Motion No. 12 will be debated and voted on separately.

Motions Nos. 13 to 16 will be grouped for debate and voted on as follows: an affirmative vote on Motion No. 15 obviates the necessity of the question being put on Motion No. 16, and a negative vote on Motion No. 15 requires a question being put on Motion No. 16. Motions Nos. 13 and 14 will be voted on separately.

I shall now put Motion No. 1 to the House.

Canada Small Business Financing ActGovernment Orders

10:10 a.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Bloc Mercier, QC

moved:

Motion No. 1

That Bill C-53 be amended by adding after line 22 on page 2 the following new clause:

“2.1 The purpose of this Act is to increase the availability of financing of small businesses, which would not otherwise have access to financing.”

Mr. Speaker, I would point out that the Bloc Quebecois voted for the principle of the bill.

We thought it would reform the situation so SMBs would have more ready access to the government guaranteed capital they need but would not otherwise have access to under the usual credit requirements. That was our understanding. This in fact is what the minister said initially when he introduced the bill.

Oddly enough, this bill, entitled an act to increase the availability of financing for the establishment, expansion, modernization and improvement of small businesses, contains no provision stating that this is indeed the intent of the bill. Given this obvious discrepancy, the Bloc Quebecois decided to propose an amendment indicating clearly the purpose of the bill.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business, the main voice of small and medium size businesses needing financing, repeated to us that the bill should make it easier for small and medium size business to obtain funding. The president of the Canadian federation stated at a press conference a few months ago that 29% of businesses reported having great difficulty obtaining credit. Very small businesses and new businesses have the hardest time getting this financing.

A number of Bloc Quebecois members conducted a survey among small and medium size businesses. Out of the more than 800 small businesses that replied to these seven members, 89% said it is difficult or very difficult to get financing. Yet, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business feels that, because of the greater competition generated by the active presence of the caisses Desjardins, the level of satisfaction in Quebec is high.

This means that accessibility is the main problem. Given that the act is entitled “an act to increase the availability”, it must provide, in its body and not only in the regulations, that such is its purpose.

We are in no way saying that lenders should not be serious, on the contrary. But all of us here know that it is always easier to lend to a well established business whose profitability has been recognized for years, than to entrepreneurs who are just starting up, who have put all the winning conditions on their side, but who have to prove that theirs will be a profitable venture.

Therefore, we hope all members will support this provision. Otherwise, given that a whole part of the act will now be included in the regulations and thus come under the exclusive authority of the minister, there is a risk that not only will the act fail to increase availability of financing, but that it will in fact reduce such availability. I am convinced that no one here wants that to happen.

We know that small and medium size businesses create jobs. We will go back to the need to look at this capability, which has been recognized by everyone. But if these businesses are to continue to create jobs, they must have access to the credit they need.

It is not normal to have so many small and medium size businesses find such access either very difficult or difficult. However, we can understand why when we look at the sectors in which they operate. There are some sectors where it is easier. A new optometrist setting up a business is likely to obtain credit fairly readily. It can, however, be very hard for a small business involved in the production sector or high risk sectors such as new technologies.

Government loan guarantees ought not to apply only to loans to businesses that would have obtained them anyway. Nor should they lead banks to assume bad risks. That is not what we are saying. However, we are saying that, given appropriate careful consideration, small and medium size businesses must have access to credit.

According to some people, things are getting easier. Credit is even available on the Internet from a certain bank. But it must be pointed out that ING bank, the one referred to, charges a far higher rate of interest and, according to what we have been told, loans only to businesses with proven profitability.

What I am trying to say here is that this bill is indispensable, because some businesses would not otherwise have the necessary credit to develop, to create jobs, to continue in operation, and sometimes to grow significantly. We support this bill because we are aware of how important it is, but its purpose must be clear. That is what the Canadian Federation of Independent Business has told us on numerous occasions.

I do not want to call on people's sympathy, but we need to know just how risky it is for an entrepreneur to launch a business. In French we say “launch themselves”. I am not sure how that comes across in translation, but there is a reason for saying “launch themselves”. It shows the big chance the entrepreneur is taking. He puts all of his energy into it, often investing everything he, his family and friends have been able to accumulate with great difficulty. It is therefore important, when he has done everything possible for himself, for him to be able to have access to a guarantee so that he may obtain a loan that would otherwise not be available to him. I therefore invite my colleagues to support this amendment.

I repeat, 80% of the small businesses surveyed by us say that this guarantee must apply to businesses that would not otherwise have access to financing.

I hope, speaking for small and medium size businesses, that this House will agree to having the content of the title reflected in the bill itself.

Canada Small Business Financing ActGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.

St. Catharines Ontario

Liberal

Walt Lastewka LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to have the opportunity to speak to this motion.

During debate of this bill in committee a lot of the discussion centred around the same thoughts as put forward by this motion. The motion says very clearly that the burden of proof will now be on small businesses to prove that they have gone elsewhere and were totally rejected. From my understanding, only those who have been totally rejected will then be able to apply under the program.

At the present time we have an incremental amount of about 56%. This was talked about in the report and in the auditor general's report.

The wording of the proposed amendment would create a program of 100% incrementality. I know we continue to move in that direction. There is always a desire that the Canada Small Business Financing Act be applied to small businesses in high risk areas in order to start new types of businesses and expand small businesses. I have a concern about this motion making it 100%.

The auditor general on numerous occasions has expressed the fact that the more the program is opened up and the more we insist on incrementality, the greater the losses are going to be. A balance is required to be struck when we have a program like the Canada Small Business Financing Act and the intention of the government to have a full cost recovery over time. The proposed amendment would limit the goal of achieving cost recovery over the 10 year life of loans under the program established in 1995.

Industry Canada will continue to monitor the incrementality and the cost recovery through independent studies to ensure that these two elements remain in balance.

I know the members of the standing committee who have debated this bill very thoroughly are very concerned about having proper statistics and data on an ongoing basis. Although the bill insists on a review every five years, the Standing Committee on Industry will be bringing this up on an annual basis in order to make sure we have good reports and understand what needs to be done.

Approving Motion No. 1 which would force 100% incrementality starting with this bill next April would not be fair to the small businesses across Canada that continue to seek small business loans because of their high risk factor. We want to protect the new small businesses coming on stream and those that want to expand.

I would suggest that my colleagues not support Motion No. 1.

Canada Small Business Financing ActGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.

Reform

Jim Pankiw Reform Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

Mr. Speaker, the official opposition is opposed to this motion but for reasons somewhat different than those of my hon. colleague from the Liberal Party.

Essentially the motion states that the purpose of the act is to increase the availability of financing to small business. That is a noble thing and something certainly we in the Reform Party would all like to see because we favour any measures that would assist small businesses.

The point is that this entire approach, an act, a government band-aid solution to a problem, is not the answer. Businesses have a problem in financing their enterprises right now, but the reason is not because of a lack of a government program or an inadequate government program. The reason is much deeper and more far reaching than that. It is because of government mismanagement of the entire economy in general, but specifically because of the high taxes individuals and businesses are subjected to.

For example, the employment insurance premiums are fully one-third over and above the break-even point of the EI fund. That places a great burden on businesses. The average Canadian worker pays $350 a year over and above the break-even point of the EI fund. The average employer pays $500. Per employee, per working Canadian, that is $850 over and above the break-even point of the EI fund. What does the government do with that money? It spends it on programs, useless, meaningless programs, I might add, grants and giveaways to special interest groups, subsidizing things like VIA Rail, CBC and on and on.

Canada Small Business Financing ActGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

Liberal

Dennis Mills Liberal Broadview—Greenwood, ON

What is wrong with that?

Canada Small Business Financing ActGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

Reform

Jim Pankiw Reform Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

Mr. Speaker, I was just asked what is wrong with that. I would like to explain what is wrong with that.

In September a constituent of mine called me and said “I work a 9 to 5 job. I make $30,000 a year. I have a wife and three kids. The fellow who lives down the street from me is on welfare and makes more money than I do. Explain that to me”. I said that first I would have to verify this and told him to send me his tax returns. I verified his income and his monthly take home pay after taxes. I checked with social services in Saskatchewan as to what an individual in the same circumstances would be making.

My constituent was not quite right. He is $220 a month better off than if he were living on welfare. But he has to drive to work every day. He has to put gas in his car. He has to maintain his car. Not only that, on social services a person has full medical benefits which are not available to ordinary working Canadians.

That is the point. This country's tax system is so repressive that people do not have a reason to go to work. They are better off to sit at home on welfare. It amazes me that the Liberals can sit over there and somehow justify that or think it is okay. Not only does the excessive taxation result in a situation where people do not even have the incentive to go to work any more, but it is affecting businesses.

I used the employment insurance fund as an example. Fully $5 billion a year is taken over and above the break-even point of the EI fund and dumped into government spending programs. That is what is wrong with those spending programs. The gentleman asked what was wrong with financing CBC and VIA Rail. In a utopian perfect world it would be great if we could finance a railway and have a wonderful state-run broadcaster. But in the reality of today's world, in the reality of the extremely high taxes that it takes to fund those types of things, the consequence is that we have tax system so repressive that people are better off to sit at home on welfare than they are to go to work.

That is what is wrong with those programs. That is what is wrong with a government that spends far too much money and involves itself in far too many programs in areas where it has no business being.

I get back to the small business financing act. If the Liberals would just downsize government, get their little fingers out of every program they want to devise and spend our tax dollars on, and cut taxes, we would not need a government program to cover up or try to be a solution for the problem created by their high tax regime. That is so simple yet they do not understand it.

The Reform Party would drastically downsize government. At the same time we would focus spending on areas that matter like health care and education. We would increase funding to those areas. We would substantially cut government spending so Canadians would pay less tax and would have reason to go to work because they would have a lot more take home pay. They would be able to finance their business enterprises much more effectively.

The problem is not access to more debt. This program purports to assist businesses in putting themselves further in debt. The problem is access to their own equity. The government is taking all the profit in the form of taxes. That is the problem.

The answer is not a government program that provides a taxpayer backed guarantee to businesses that cannot gain financing. The answer is to cut EI premiums to the break even point. The answer is to cut the size of government and to lower income taxes and capital gains taxes so there will be venture capital and businesses will have more equity. In turn they would have no problem financing their business ventures.

There is a fundamental principle that Liberals do not understand. A dollar left in the hands of an entrepreneur, a consumer, an investor or an ordinary Canadian citizen is far more productive than that same dollar being taxed out of their pockets and sent off to Ottawa to be administered by a bureaucrat, a lobbyist or a politician. That is a very simple fact but the Liberal government does not get it.

Maybe I do not give the Liberals enough credit; maybe they do get it. They are so wrapped up in their world in Ottawa, in their bureaucracy, in the big leviathan they have created that they have lost touch with reality. They do not address the true problems.

If that were not true, how could they possibly be contemplating raiding the employment insurance fund? That fund was paid into by workers and employers for the insurance of employment, but the Liberals cannot resist getting their greedy little hands on that money and diverting it to places where it does not belong and violates the law of the employment insurance fund. In order to do that they will have to change the law, and they will.

Canadians need to oppose that. Every working Canadian and every employer in Canada must understand they are being ripped off, that it is unfair and that it is harming them. It is harming the economy and it is harming business.

The motion is noble in the sense that it states the purpose of the act is to increase the availability of financing to small businesses. I agree with and support that statement, but the way to do it is not through yet another government program. The way is to get government out of people's lives, to downsize government and to cut taxes so businesses can truly have access to more of their equity and therefore to more financing. The answer is simple. I implore the Liberal government for once to open its eyes to that fact and to do what is right.

Canada Small Business Financing ActGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

NDP

Nelson Riis NDP Kamloops, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is amazing what Ottawa does to people. My friend from Saskatoon—Humboldt talked about the Liberals never leaving Ottawa or being captivated by Ottawa. I do not mean this in any personal way to my friend from Saskatoon-Humboldt, but members of the Reform Party came out yesterday with the comments that they have decided to support the bank mergers. I wonder who on earth they would have spoken to in the country to come up with this conclusion.

Canada Small Business Financing ActGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

An hon. member

Where did you read that?

Canada Small Business Financing ActGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

NDP

Nelson Riis NDP Kamloops, BC

That is what I heard, that members of the Reform Party said they would like to have some more competition in banking.

Canada Small Business Financing ActGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

An hon. member

That is the point. We need more competition.

Canada Small Business Financing ActGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

NDP

Nelson Riis NDP Kamloops, BC

However the competition is not coming so in the meantime it should be no to bank mergers. Talk about somebody being seduced by Ottawa, being captivated and overcome, or being Ottawa-ized. It is something like being customized or whatever.

Something else puzzles me. My friend from the Reform Party says if we had the perfect world, as the Reform Party would describe it, we would not need this legislation. We do not have the perfect world and we probably will not have the perfect world by the end of the week, by the end of the year or even next year. My friends from the Reform Party would have to agree that their perfect world will not happen soon, but in the meantime should we do absolutely nothing to help the small business sector?

Canada Small Business Financing ActGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

An hon. member

Absolutely. Reduce taxes.

Canada Small Business Financing ActGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

NDP

Nelson Riis NDP Kamloops, BC

My friend is saying that we should do absolute nothing. The point is they are not the government but they say we should have a perfect world. Soon my friends in the Reform Party will say we do not have the perfect world but we should do away with pensions. In a perfect world we probably would not need pensions or a medicare system. We do not have a perfect world and that is why we have governments.

What does the legislation do? Is it new legislation? No, it is not. The legislation has been around for a long time. Some time ago somebody acknowledged the fact that a lot of creative small businesses, real entrepreneurs, people with good creative ideas could not get financing from traditional lending institutions.

The banks would not listen to them. The banks could not care less about a young person with a great idea. The banks or financial institutions could not care less about a new entrepreneur who arrives with creativity and energy but could not get financing because he did not have the capital to put up for security or because he was too creative. The government of the day had to come up with something.

It asked what it could do to encourage financial institutions to support people who create things, lead the way, are on the cutting edge and build the country. What could it do? The banks were not being helpful.

The government introduced the Small Business Loans Act. Basically the legislation said that if one had difficulty accessing financing from traditional lending institutions the government would provide support in terms of a guarantee. If the bank felt that a group in its judgment was too risky, we would share in the risk, society and the bankers or society and the lending institutions.

We have talked to small business representatives, individuals and the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. We have asked what they think about the program. They say their members like it. I recognize they only speak for 90,000 small business people.

A small business organization from Halifax to Inuvik to Victoria could not be found that would not say it liked the program. Most federal government programs are bogus when it comes to helping small business. I am prepared to say that most programs are fluff. Most programs sound good but do not work. There are two or three that work well and this is one of them. That is why I cannot understand my friends in the Reform Party saying they do not support it. It is a mystery how they can say that.

It is fair country. It is a free country. They can support what they want but it mystifies me. I ask the next Reform speaker to explain in some detail why they do not support it. I realize that they say if we had a perfect world we would not need it. We do not have a perfect world. We will probably not have a perfect world for another few weeks or months or years or decades.

Canada Small Business Financing ActGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.

An hon. member

Two and a half years. After the next election, with the Reform Party.

Canada Small Business Financing ActGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.

NDP

Nelson Riis NDP Kamloops, BC

My friend from Saskatoon—Humboldt is in the wrong profession. He belongs at Yuk Yuk's on Friday and Saturday nights. He is a stand-up comic. He said the Reform Party would form the government in the next election. This is the ultimate form of hilarity and comedy. He is a great speaker, but he is in the wrong place. He will have great audiences at Yuk Yuk's.

New Democrats will support the amendment. It goes to the crux of what the legislation is all about. The legislation is about helping small businesses but not any small business. If a well established small business that has been doing well for a number of years wants to expand into a new area, getting support from the financial sector is not a problem.

My friend from Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre has been a small business operator. He has been liaising with the small business community from coast to coast for many years. He would concur with what I say. For many small businesses accessing capital is not a problem. For others it is a problem, particularly the sector we want to see expand and build. I am referring to new businesses, young businesses that reflect the emerging new economy of the country. They are often a little short of hard assets and have difficulty accessing funding.

The amendment acknowledges that group. It acknowledges people who would otherwise have difficulty accessing financing. I am not referring to small business individuals who can easily access financing. They do not need help. It is the ones who have difficulty accessing funding.

This is where I differ from the parliamentary secretary. Why not make the legislation exclusive and have it available only for small businesses that cannot get funding elsewhere and help them particularly? All of those that would normally get bank loans anyway do not need the help. They could probably get loans at a lower rate.

Why not make the legislation available only for business entrepreneurs, business investors and creative people who simply cannot find financing through traditional agencies? We as a society want to see these folks expand and grow and to see our economy grow. When the economy grows, jobs grow, the economy prospers, the tax flows in and the country gets to be a better place. That is what it is all about. That is what the legislation is all about. That is why the amendment makes a lot of sense to me. The auditor general has reminded us from time to time that was the problem and the amendment acknowledges it

I beg my friends in the Reform Party to change their position on the legislation. To my knowledge the Bloc Quebecois supports it. I think the Conservatives support it. Presumably the government supports it because it is behind the initiative. We in the New Democratic Party support it. We need to send a signal to small businesses and say that we are behind them. We want to particularly help small businesses that cannot access financing from traditional sources.

I ask my Reform friends to get behind parliament and join with us to say that the small business sector is where the action is. The small business sector is where the jobs are being created. We are behind small businesses 100%. We want to support them. We want to encourage them. We want to nurture them. That is why we should all be supporting the legislation with enthusiasm.

Canada Small Business Financing ActGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.

Bloc

Antoine Dubé Bloc Lévis, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to address Bill C-53, an act to increase the availability of financing for the establishment, expansion, modernization and improvement of small businesses.

Government members should support the amendment proposed by the hon. member for Mercier, since the title of the bill itself states that its purpose is to increase the availability of financing of small businesses.

The hon. member for Mercier proposes that this financing program apply to businesses that would not otherwise have access to such financing. This would allow increased financing to businesses that are in trouble. I do not understand why the Reformers seem to disagree with this amendment. They said repeatedly in this House that the act should apply only to businesses that would not otherwise have access to financing. This is precisely what the hon. member for Mercier is proposing in her motion.

Businesses that have access to the financial and banking institutions' regular program do not need this legislation to get financing. In fact, it would not be to their advantage to use this program, since the interest rate charged to businesses is 3% higher. Therefore, it seems that businesses should use the other types of loans offered by banking institutions. As a rule, the government should not take the place of banking institutions that play a role in the economy.

Reformers who support that view should realize that the banks would only be too happy if this were the case. For once we agree, to some extent, that we should leave it to banks and financial institutions to deal with regular loans, as they do a fine job of it. In my mind, banks include the caisses populaires, because half of the loans made in Quebec went through the caisses populaires.

I will let the Reform Party clarify their position. However, as far as I am concerned, they are contradicting themselves. They seem bent on an ideology where government should completely withdraw so that individuals have so few taxes to pay, if any—not no taxes whatsoever, as government would disappear—or play such a diluted role that its presence would be insignificant.

Not surprisingly the NDP believes that government should take action in a number of areas, including small business. In Canada, 98% of all businesses are small businesses with fewer than 100 employees—and the percentage may even be higher because the statistics are not necessarily up to date—yet they account for 45% of all job creation.

There is much talk about large corporations. That is fine, but large corporations do not need such a program. They have access to other financing sources. This program is suited to the small and medium size businesses that lost significantly fewer jobs than larger ones did during the recession, in the early 1990s, and created a significantly larger number of jobs in the following recovery.

Small businesses ought to be encouraged, on account of the various sectors they are involved in within the global economy. I am thinking of the agri-food industry, for example, including fisheries and forestry; in Quebec, 90.1 % of this industry is controlled by small and medium size businesses. The forestry and agri-food sectors are active in the various regions.

As the Bloc Quebecois critic for regional development, this program to enable small businesses—especially in the regions, outside large urban areas—develop, have access to financing and create and maintain jobs for people in the regions, especially young people, is of great interest to me.

The Conservative member for Chicoutimi, whom I saw just now, knows what I am talking about, when I refer to the Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean region. We have all kinds of problems in keeping young people in the region. Who does most to keep them in the regions? Small business, the target of this program.

In the construction sector, 88.2% of jobs in Quebec are in small and medium size companies with fewer than 100 employees. In the real estate sector, 73.6% of businesses are small and medium size. In the wholesale sector, 66% of jobs in Quebec are in small and medium size businesses. In Quebec, in the retail sector, which is important in rural municipalities, in small municipalities or in big city neighbourhoods—small businesses are the ones closest to the population and provide more personalized services—59.7% of businesses are small and or medium size. Also, 53% of the companies providing services to other companies are small businesses.

For a bill to be a good one, it must meet several criteria. It must be recognizable by its title. We agree with the title I read earlier. This is a bill to increase the availability of financing for small businesses. A title is all very well, but a bill must be real, must go beyond a mere title. Its clauses, its content and its regulations, if possible, must go with the title.

Suprisingly, in this case, while the purpose of the bill is to increase financing, not a single clause—I have read and reread them, because I am a member of the Standing Committee on Industry, where we studied the bill clause by clause—is consistent with the purpose. That is why the member for Mercier and I are requesting greater access be provided for those really needing it, those who would not otherwise have access to the regular bank financing programs. The government must give them its endorsement, because the government is not doing the lending. People have to understand, this is about guarantees of financing. The government is a guarantor, with restrictions and with control.

That is the role of the executive. It may not be the role of the legislators, but it is the role of government, through the executive, specifically the minister and his officials, to ensure that the banks see to that.

So that is why this has to appear in the bill. We will talk more about it when we consider the other amendments, those proposed by the government and the Reform Party, which are intended to add controls and restrictions and which serve to cut the program that existed in the past. We in the Bloc Quebecois want a better law, one more appropriate to the objective. This law must make financing more available and not reduce it, limit it or make it unobtainable.

The act includes so many conditions that, in the end, financial institutions may decide to make financing available to businesses that present no risks, but that could have access to other sources of financing. I find it very contradictory that this would be done in the context of a bill. Our objective is a good one and we are acting in good faith. When the bill was introduced in the House, we agreed with its principle at second reading. We still do, but we are now a little suspicious and sceptical, because we realize that the amendments proposed by the Reform Party would in the end restrict the scope of the bill.

We oppose restricting access to financing for small businesses. Rather, we would like to see such access increased. I hope the government will listen to our representations and realize that our proposals are in line with the bill. Our amendment, which was accepted by the clerk and by the Chair, is consistent with the bill and this brings to a close—

Canada Small Business Financing ActGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I am sorry, but the hon. member's time is up.

Canada Small Business Financing ActGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

Dennis Mills Liberal Broadview—Greenwood, ON

Mr. Speaker, I always enjoy having the opportunity to speak in the House on this bill. It was the first or second small business bill that I ever spoke on when I was in opposition.

When I was a member of the opposition it was the first time that our party supported the Conservative government's amendments to the Small Business Loans Act. Support was unanimous at that time and we put the bill through the House in a day. When I listen to the Reform Party saying it is not supporting this bill, I am absolutely mystified.

A Reform Party member said in his speech concerning the realm of taxes that taxes are so repressive in this country. That is the issue. On that point I support the member. If the Reform Party had any consistency or any real commitment to some of its core public policy thoughts it would help create a real debate on the issue of tax reform. It has been the most inconsistent, on again, off again attempt to try to advance the debate on tax reform that I have ever seen in the House. To try to weave something to do with tax reform into a small business act is a non-starter.

Eighty per cent of the new jobs created today come from small business men and women. This is the entrepreneurial energy, this is the realm where we get people rolling up their sleeves and doing a hard, honest day's work. This is not the realm of paper pushing. This is not the realm of speculating on our dollar. This is the small business realm which is carrying the country right now. Any attempt to reinforce the small business realm has to be supported.

I am happy to see the Bloc Quebecois, the Conservatives and the NDP member for Kamloops, who is responsible for building linkage with the business community, supporting this program; everybody in the House but the Reform Party.

The Liberal Party founded this legislation some 26 years ago under the leadership of Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau. We are happy to continue to be the warriors for small business.