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House of Commons Hansard #68 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was finance.

Topics

Millennium ScholarshipsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Stéphan Tremblay Bloc Lac-Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the Prime Minister clearly indicated that his millennium scholarship fund was designed to make his government more visible to young people.

Now that we know what the Prime Minister really thinks, will the government admit that, instead of stating before the Canadian Club that he is not playing politics on the backs of our young people, the Prime Minister should have said that he cares about their future as long as it benefits him politically?

Millennium ScholarshipsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I am disappointed in the attitude of the hon. member for Lac-Saint-Jean, a young man, toward the Prime Minister, who made a point of ensuring that students benefit from the 1997-98 dividends to get a post-secondary education at a time when they are getting deeply into debt.

The Prime Minister chose to put young people first and promote the knowledge and skills on which tomorrow's economy will be built. That is what the Prime Minister had in mind in celebrating the millennium, not the political benefits the member referred to.

Millennium ScholarshipsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Stéphan Tremblay Bloc Lac-Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am getting tired of these melodramatics. Everyone agrees that this millennium scholarship fund makes no sense.

On behalf of young people, I am asking the government, if it has an ounce of good sense left, to backtrack before it is too late.

Millennium ScholarshipsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, people spoke out, like André Bourbeau, of the Quebec Liberal Party, who urged the government to sit down at the negotiating table. Mario Dumont, of the ADQ, said the same thing.

The only thing PQ members care about is scoring political points. The two opposition parties in the National Assembly are urging them to sit down with us so that, together, we can see what can be done in this important area to ensure the future of our young people.

There are numerous stakeholders who have absolutely no problem with our action.

HealthOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Reform

Grant Hill Reform Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, after four years of fairly significant cuts to medicare, how does the finance minister have the nerve, the audacity, the chutzpah to say that forgoing the reduction in funds is somehow new money for medicare? Will he admit here today that this new money for medicare is simply a slowdown in the cuts that he himself ordered?

HealthOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member can play with words if he likes.

The bottom line is that as a result of our decisions, the very first major decisions taken after we put the fiscal house in order, the provinces are going to have $7 billion more money than they would have over the next four years. That is money for hospitals, that is money for treatment, that is money for health.

HealthOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Reform

Grant Hill Reform Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, here is what the Prime Minister had to say about medicare today. He said “I am not going to give any more money to the provinces because I don't like the way they spend the money. They will probably spend it on something that isn't for medicare. In fact, Ontario spent the money for tax cuts”. But at the same time Ontario cut taxes, it also gave more money to medicare. Since Ontario can walk and chew gum at the same time, why cannot our Prime Minister?

HealthOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray LiberalDeputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is quite incorrect in saying that the Prime Minister said there would be no more money for medicare. He did not make that statement. He did not say there would be no more money for medicare or no more money for health care.

What the hon. member is saying is based on an incorrect radio news report and there has been a correction sent out. If my hon. friend wants to be taken seriously by his little friend Zachary, he ought to be accurate when he gets to his feet in this House of Commons.

Employment Insurance FundOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Bloc Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance.

Between now and 2000, according to the government's own figures, $25 billion will accumulate in the employment insurance fund. Much of this money comes from business, including those that hire the most.

Does the Minister of Finance realize that by inflating the employment insurance surplus this way he is slowing job creation, and that because of him—

Employment Insurance FundOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

The Speaker

The Minister of Finance.

Employment Insurance FundOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the member should know that, when we took office, UI premiums were $3.07. They were to rise to $3.30. Today they are $2.70. In other words, we have lowered them substantially, three times.

We lowered them last year by $1.4 billion and the previous year, by $1.7 billion. These are the most substantial reductions in the history of the fund.

Employment Insurance FundOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Bloc Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, the most substantial thing in this is the astronomical surplus, which, this month, will reach $15 billion.

Does the minister realize that, with this $15 billion, he could eliminate premiums for a year? He could pay all benefits for a year and still have $3 billion left? What more could he want?

Employment Insurance FundOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, this is one of the reasons we were able to waive unemployment insurance premiums over two years for employers hiring young people between 18 and 24. That is what we did.

Main EstimatesOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Reform

John Williams Reform St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, this morning the government tabled the main estimates and we now see that the Prime Minister will celebrate the balanced budget by increasing the budget for his own office by $700,000 a year.

When Canadians were given tax relief amounting to just a case of beer, why does the Prime Minister need an extra $700,000 to run his own office?

Main EstimatesOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member asks a question about the functioning of the Privy Council Office and others. I want him to know that in the last Parliament there were two ministers directly related to the Privy Council Office. In this Parliament there are five because of a realignment of functions. There are now five ministers related to it. That is the reason for the budget increase.

Individual ministers are not increasing their budgets. It is a matter of not having a separate line department and hon. members opposite know it.

Main EstimatesOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Reform

John Williams Reform St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, realignment does not mean increase and these are increased expenditures. Not only does the Prime Minister get another $700,000 for his office, but the PMO duties are taking another 75% increase, $3.6 million in extra money and there is no decrease in ministerial staff budgets either.

This is extra money and we want to know why, when Canadians are getting no tax relief at all, the Prime Minister is spending all kinds of money on himself.

Main EstimatesOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, the individual staff of ministers was increased by one and the individual allocation of members of Parliament was also increased recently. The hon. member opposite knows that. One was used as a precedent to set the other, and he knows that too.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Bloc Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Human Resources Development says he is very concerned about the decrease in the number of unemployed workers receiving EI benefits.

He supposes this might be because the number of self-employed workers is on the increase. One thing is certain: although 83% of unemployed workers received benefits in 1989, today only 40% do so.

Instead of looking for some obscure explanation, why does the minister not admit that the only thing to do is to make EI more accessible? Everyone knows that is the answer.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I do not know whether that is everyone's view. Canadians are perfectly happy that we had the courage to change the EI system.

The opposition is asking us to take a step backward to an obsolete system that no longer served them well with respect to the modern labour market. They are asking us to take a step backward.

As a government, we will do the responsible thing. We want to serve Canadians well with respect to the current labour market. I have admitted to being concerned about the people in the system; we are going to look into the matter and make the right decisions.

Multilateral Agreement On InvestmentOral Question Period

February 26th, 1998 / 2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Sarmite Bulte Liberal Parkdale—High Park, ON

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

Constituents are calling my office and other members' offices regarding the negotiation of the multilateral agreement on investment. Individuals in my riding are particularly concerned about the impact the agreement will have on Canadian culture.

What is the minister's position on preserving our rights to promote and protect Canadian culture during these negotiations?

Multilateral Agreement On InvestmentOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

York West Ontario

Liberal

Sergio Marchi LiberalMinister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, I would thank the hon. member for her question. She is a passionate advocate for Canadian culture.

The very simple and straight answer to that question is that culture is non-negotiable. I have said many times in this House and outside the House the Canadian government would not sign an MAI if it were to include and involve Canadian culture.

I appeal to the NDP, if they care about the culture community, not to misrepresent the position and as well appeal to the Reform Party which is the only party in the House that is advocating opening the deal on culture, health care and social services. Let me reflect—

Multilateral Agreement On InvestmentOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for The Battlefords—Lloydminster.

The EconomyOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Reform

Gerry Ritz Reform Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Prime Minister told Canadians to relax and rejoice. Hundreds of thousands of Canadians are waiting for health services, 1.4 million are trapped in the unemployment line, 17% of our youth are searching for a full time job.

Does the prime minister in waiting also believe these people should rejoice and relax?

The EconomyOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray LiberalDeputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister was confirming that since this government took office unemployment is down by over two and a half per cent. We created some one million jobs. Inflation is gone. Interest rates are down, providing thousands of dollars in the pockets of people buying cars and paying mortgages.

When the Prime Minister wanted to reassure Canadians, he brought out the facts, unlike the hon. member who has overlooked completely how this government has helped this economy move ahead and how the budget that came out earlier this week will add to that progress for all Canadians.

The BudgetOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Reform

Jason Kenney Reform Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, the finance minister says this budget is going to give tax relief to middle income Canadians, but private sector economists are saying that because of bracket creep, this insidious tax on inflation, that the middle class is going to end up paying a billion dollars more next year than this year.

When the OECD is calling for the reindexation of the tax system, when the finance committee has called for it, when Canadians are going to be paying more, not less, because of bracket creep, why did this minister not act to take this insidious tax on inflation out of our tax system?