House of Commons Hansard #15 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was treaty.

Topics

The EconomyOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, we have provided tax relief. We did it in the 1997 budget. We did in the 1998 budget. We have provided over $16.5 billion in the 1999 budget, the three combined, over the next three years.

What is most interesting of all is that in Fresh Start, the Reform Party's election program, they said they would not provide any personal income tax relief before the year 2000. They are behind the curve.

The EconomyOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Reform

Preston Manning ReformLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the official opposition offers a 25% reduction in federal taxes over three years, which is something the finance minister cannot deliver and cannot even understand.

If this worker got this profound tax break from the finance minister, I ask him again how it is that when he looks at his bottom line he got gross earnings of $2,000, his paycheque was for $1,000, and the rest was eaten up by taxes. How does the Prime Minister explain that situation?

The EconomyOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, for almost a decade up until two years ago, the after tax disposable income of Canadians declined.

Last year for the first time the after tax disposable income of Canadians was on the increase. We have reversed the declining trend, which is something the Reform tax plan would not have done.

The EconomyOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Reform

Monte Solberg Reform Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, maybe it is time the finance minister got off easy street and came down to main street to see how people are living under his record tax burden. They will be a little more than ticked when they find out his top priority is not tax relief at all but a $47 billion spending spree.

Why will the finance minister not cancel his $47 billion spending spree so Canadians will be able to keep more of their own money to buy so-called luxuries like food, shelter and clothing?

The EconomyOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I have made it very clear. There is no such plan. All that has happened is that the public service from the three central agencies has costed a series of propositions, a number of which will never see the light of day.

Costing proposals is a basic responsibility of the public service. If Reformers would occasionally cost some of theirs they would not come up with some of the lamebrained ideas they have.

The EconomyOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Reform

Monte Solberg Reform Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, that is coming from a brain drain victim himself. Here goes the finance minister—

The EconomyOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

The Speaker

I think we better get past the brains and to the question.

The EconomyOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Reform

Monte Solberg Reform Medicine Hat, AB

Pure genius, Mr. Speaker. There goes the finance minister again trying to get through the express line with 130 items in his basket. That will not work. He is waving around the taxpayers' debit card to pay for it all.

Who does the finance minister really think he is, after all? He is taking $47 billion out of taxpayers' pockets. They would be happy to buy their own groceries if the finance minister would just let them keep a bit more of their own money.

The EconomyOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I tend to agree with you that talking about brains and the Reform Party is a bit of an oxymoron.

The EconomyOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

The EconomyOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

The Speaker

The answer, please.

The EconomyOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Martin Liberal LaSalle—Émard, QC

As I have said there is no such plan. but I can certainly tell the hon. member what the government has done. It has eliminated the deficit. It was $42 billion. We have now had two consecutive years of surplus. We have cut income taxes by $16.5 billion over the next three years.

We have brought in $2 billion worth of additional credits for the national child tax benefit. We have increased the benefit for small businesses—

The EconomyOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Laurier—Sainte-Marie.

Budget SurplusesOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, on the eve of the Minister of Finance's economic update, it is as well to remember that, in the last throne speech, the government clearly indicated its intention to create new programs in areas such as education, the family and childhood, health, home care and pharmacare, all of them provincial jurisdictions.

Rather than spending its time fuelling arguments over jurisdiction, should this government's priority not be to restore transfer payments to the provinces so that they can assume their responsibilities toward the public?

Budget SurplusesOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, that is largely what it did last year, when it not only increased health transfers to the provinces, to the tune of $11.5 billion over five years, but also worked very closely with the provinces in connection with the national child benefit, research and development, and a whole host of areas very important to Canadians.

Budget SurplusesOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, in actual fact, the government did not invest $11.5 billion. What it did was cut $32.5 billion instead of $44 billion. We are talking cuts, not handouts.

Should the government's budgetary policies not be focusing on acting with the necessary fairness towards workers who pay EI premiums and allowing them to receive the benefits to which they are entitled rather than forcing them to help shoulder the cost of new programs that come under provincial jurisdiction?

Budget SurplusesOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, one of the things the government announced in the throne speech was a substantial increase in parental leave.

At the same time, as far as the provinces are concerned, it has not only increased health transfers, but it has also increased equalization payments substantially, including a $1.4 billion cheque to the Province of Quebec.

Budget SurplusesOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, in allowing the employment insurance surplus to grow by $7 billion yearly and rolling that amount into the overall government surplus, the Minister of Finance is providing himself with some manoeuvering room at the expense of the middle class.

Will the Minister of Finance admit that, by using the surplus in the employment insurance fund to fund new government programs, he is making middle class Canadians and the unemployed foot the bill for the bulk of these new expenditures?

Budget SurplusesOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, middle class Canadians are the ones who benefit when employment insurance contributions are reduced. Middle class Canadians are the ones who benefit when parental leave is extended. Middle class Canadians are the ones who benefit when transfer payments for health or the national child benefit are increased.

Budget SurplusesOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, it is also middle class Canadians who make up 27% of the population but carry 50% of the tax burden.

Instead of announcing new expenditures in areas that fall under the jurisdiction of others, ought the Minister of Finance not to announce some tax exemption measures that target the middle income taxpayer specifically?

Budget SurplusesOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I am totally in agreement. That is why I was so surprised to see in the Bloc Quebecois tax reduction approach that the party did not want any tax reduction for those with incomes of under $30,000, only for those with incomes higher than that figure.

As for us, we have decreased taxes for the least well-off Canadians.

AgricultureOral Question Period

November 1st, 1999 / 2:25 p.m.

NDP

Dick Proctor NDP Palliser, SK

Mr. Speaker, news that the federal Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food has downgraded the seriousness of the farm income crisis on the prairies undoubtedly had farm families dancing in the streets this past weekend.

This analysis, albeit without any statistics to support it, must have been music to the ears of farm families that are at the end of their line of credit, unable to borrow more from their lending institutions or to pay their suppliers, and cannot afford new school supplies for their children.

In order that the unrelenting joy and affection from prairie farm families toward the government continue, I ask the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food when he will table these latest forecasts from his department.

AgricultureOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Prince Edward—Hastings Ontario

Liberal

Lyle Vanclief LiberalMinister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Mr. Speaker, forecasts are done every year by Agriculture Canada and the provinces in the months of July and February. They are forecasts. In between those two periods of time officials from both the provinces and the federal government continue to do analyses.

In July we all understand and realize that wheat is just coming through the ground. Come this time of year the harvest is completed. We know how much is there. We see how much individual producers have used the programs such as the net income stabilization account. It is only responsible to take a look at this. It does not diminish the fact that there are serious situations.

AgricultureOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Dick Proctor NDP Palliser, SK

Mr. Speaker, what happened last week with the farm lobby here was a total travesty and a cruel joke, as Henry Dayday will be the butt of two weeks from today.

What does the minister say to Darlene Doane from Saskatchewan who called this morning to say that with flaxen and canola off $3 a bushel they are $90,000 in arrears this year over last year? What does he say to the grade six student from Manitoba who wrote to the Prime Minister in November and said “Because my parents don't get enough money from the crops and the cattle, we don't get as much food, clothes, school or recreation supplies?”

In light of these heartfelt questions how could the minister possibly justify his department's unavailable assertions?

AgricultureOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Prince Edward—Hastings Ontario

Liberal

Lyle Vanclief LiberalMinister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member who just asked the question and his party were one of a number of people and parties that asked us a year ago to do something to assist producers so that the precipitous drop in incomes in 1998 in comparison to previous years could be assisted. We did that. We put $900 million in, along with the $600 million.

It was in comparison. It was made very clear at the time, for 1998 versus the average for the reference years before that, that is what the program does. That is helping. It is not helping everyone to the extent that we would like it to, but we are doing all we can possibly do.