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House of Commons Hansard #132 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was money.

Topics

Economic PolicyGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

Liberal

Steve Mahoney Liberal Mississauga West, ON

Madam Speaker, it is really interesting to get a question about debt and deficit reduction from a member of the Conservative Party.

With all due respect, this member was not here. Other members of his family might have been but he was not here during that time. The reality is that we do not need any lessons from the federal Tories about how to eliminate debt.

What we have done with this budget is wiped out $28 billion. It is gone, kaput, done.

Economic PolicyGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Progressive Conservative Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Because of free trade. Don't forget that.

Economic PolicyGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

Liberal

Steve Mahoney Liberal Mississauga West, ON

The benefit of that amounts to $1.7 billion in payments that no longer have to be made. That is $1.7 billion that can be used to invest in students.

Economic PolicyGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Progressive Conservative Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Talk about the GST.

Economic PolicyGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

Liberal

Steve Mahoney Liberal Mississauga West, ON

If the member would stop chirping, I will talk about students. Do not take my word for it. Take the media's word which talks about a $3,200 tax credit going to students to help them with their rent and their textbooks. I do not think the member has even taken the time to read the document if he actually has to stand in this place and ask what this does for students.

This is one of the most progressive documents, which will assist students right across Canada with research and investment, and R and D in the universities, money for textbooks and tax credits to help students pay their rent. It is visionary both in terms of eliminating the debt, with $28 billion gone now, and a commitment to reduce the debt every single year that we are in office.

Economic PolicyGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

NDP

Gordon Earle NDP Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, it is quite pathetic to listen to the member opposite trying to justify that this vote buying budget is anything other than that, and trying to put it in the realm of a budget that deals with social ills.

Everyone knows that a budget is usually something that puts forth the goals and objectives of a government and should be addressing the major issues in our society.

A major issue that has been dominating the news for the last number of months, which has slowed down a bit because the fishing season has closed, is the dispute involving the aboriginal people in Burnt Church and St. Mary's Bay. That is just the tip of the iceberg, illustrating that there is a need to deal with the problems confronting aboriginal peoples across Canada. This budget does nothing whatsoever to deal with any of those problems.

A big part of the problem relates to the residential schools and the fact that the Anglican Church is now almost being forced into bankruptcy because the government has failed to take a leadership role in dealing with the residential school problem and has failed to bear its responsibility in that matter. The budget does not address that issue and it does not address many other issues.

I ask the hon. member, what in this mini-budget does anything at all to deal with the very important issue around aboriginal peoples on reserve and off reserve?

Economic PolicyGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

Liberal

Steve Mahoney Liberal Mississauga West, ON

Madam Speaker, clearly this is not a budget. It is an economic statement. It says so right on the document. It is something that the finance minister does each and every fall as he sees how the economy is performing.

We committed during budget 2000 that we would go faster if finances allowed us to do so. This is the appropriate time.

I am sorry if the hon. member's party is not ready with its platform. However, very clearly the government has an obligation to say to Canadians “Here is where we believe we should be going with your economic future and we want to put exactly what we are prepared to do on the table”. That has been done with this document and it clearly shows the vision for the country.

Economic PolicyGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

NDP

Lorne Nystrom NDP Qu'Appelle, SK

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to follow that member of the Mike Harris cabinet across the way talking about his very conservative budget. I see he is putting his earphone on. I said that I am very pleased to follow that fan of Mike Harris who spoke on the budget a few minutes ago.

The ghosts of Liberals past must be rolling over in their graves when they think of the sharp turn to the political right, this very conservative budget, this mini-budget we had delivered in the House yesterday by the Minister of Finance.

I have seen many budgets over the years but this is the most conservative, right wing budget I have seen in the last 25 years in the House of Commons. It is more conservative than Brian Mulroney, more conservative than the former Prime Minister who is now the leader of the Conservative Party.

This is a millionaire's budget. It is a Bay Street budget, with $100 billion in tax cuts skewed to the wealthy and the rich. If someone is making $300,000 or $400,000 a year, if someone is a millionaire or a golf partner and buddy of the Prime Minister making $400,000 or $500,000 a year, he will get anywhere from $20,000 to $50,000 in tax cuts depending on capital gains. A single person making $30,000 in Pembroke receives a tax cut of only $521 a year. Compare this to the millionaires who are going to receive $40,000 to $80,000 a year on tax breaks. That is a sharp turn to the right by the Liberal Party which has been influenced by the Canadian Alliance and by the politics of Mike Harris. The ghosts of Liberals past, leaders like Lester Pearson, Pierre Trudeau and Allan McEachern must be pretty disgusted with the government they see across the way.

Let us look at the facts. There are $100 billion dollars in tax cuts with only about $21 billion going into health care, social transfers, welfare and education. That brings us up to 1994 levels only. There are also at least $31 billion in terms of paying down the national debt.

The very size of government programs is dropping faster now than at any time in the history of Canada. The government is taking money away from social programs. When it took office at the end of Brian Mulroney's term, government programs amounted to 17% of the GDP. They now amount to about 13% of the GDP. The projections in the mini-budget, by the end of the next term if it is a majority government that lasts four or five years, will be under 11% of the GDP.

The government is taking money out of health care and education. It is providing less money for the environment. It is doing nothing about our farm crisis. This is a government leading a country, one of the few countries in the world without a national highways program, that has decided not to put money into highways. This is a government that is devising a tax system that is not as equitable as it is giving big breaks to wealthy people. This goes in the wrong direction.

If we look at results of polls and surveys we find that most people in Canada want more money put into health care. If we had a poll and asked people what to do with a surplus, whether it should be spent on massive tax cuts that favour wealthy people or put into health care and education, about 75% of the people would say that we should put more money into health care, education and the environment. That is the direction in which the Canadian people want to go. Those are the values Canadians want pursued. The Liberal Party, like the Canadian Alliance, wants to give more tax cuts to wealthy people.

Why is this done? The Liberal Party has been drafting a very cagey election program and strategy. What we saw yesterday was a move to the political right to capture votes from the Alliance and the Conservative Party in the 905 belt around Toronto, the wealthy areas around Toronto, the Mike Harris belt around Toronto. The big issue there is tax cuts so the Liberals are going to cater to that and they have taken the Canadian Alliance program. The Liberals left the Leader of the Opposition without a plank.

We are going to see the election announced on Sunday. The Liberals will come out with another red book and then they will shuffle to the left. They will talk about investing in education, in the environment, in people's programs and things of that sort. That is what the Liberal Party is doing with this particular economic statement before the House today. This is like the steak and the sizzle. This mini statement is giving a lot of steak to the wealthy and the privileged and only the sizzle to the poor and ordinary citizens.

There are many programs that should have been enhanced. Health care is the very best example of that. In 1995 we had the biggest cutback in our history in health funding than we have ever seen. That came from a party that at one time initiated a national health care system where the federal government paid 50% of health care. Before some of the money is reinstated, through the agreement of the first ministers' about a month ago, the cash funding for health care had fallen from 50% to 13 cents or 14 cents on the dollar. Even with the $21 billion in social transfers, the cash into health care only goes up to 1994 levels.

Where are the priorities? The Canadian people fought to get rid of the deficit. It is the Canadian people, through their hard work and their energy, who have created a surplus in this country. I argue that the majority of that surplus should be spent on the social deficit that was created by the cutbacks of the Liberal government from 1995 on.

I am sure that if the minister of financial institutions across the way had his way he would agree with me that more money should be spent in the social pocket rather than on wealthy tax cuts for his big powerful friends on Bay Street. However, that is the way the government has gone and that is not the right way to go. That is not the vision of a new Canada. That is not a vision of equality, a vision of justice or a vision of sharing. Those are the values that the Canadian people stand for and the Canadian people want.

If we look through the mini statement from yesterday there are many things not mentioned at all. I think of my own province of Saskatchewan. I have already talked about health care. Health care was started in Saskatchewan by the CCF, by Tommy Douglas and by James Shaver Woodsworth many, many years ago. After fighting against the Liberals year and year out, health care became a reality.

The Liberal Party promised health care in 1919, the year that the minister for financial institutions was born. It was promised in 1919 but it did not become a reality until the mid-1960s, 40-odd years after promising it to the Canadian people. It is only there because it was pushed and prodded by the CCF and the NDP who started health care in Saskatchewan back in 1961.

In 1961 when health care became a very volatile issue in our province, when there were organizations led by the doctors and others to stop medicare—they called it socialized medicine in those days—the Leader of the Opposition was Liberal Ross Thatcher. He was one of the leaders in the fight against health care in this country. He went into the legislative assembly with a photo op, and he kicked the door of the legislative assembly in opposition to health care in our province.

Health care was so popular with the people that public opinion was mobilized. Through the mobilization of public opinion it was forced on the Liberal government in 1965 or 1966 and the government of Lester Pearson brought it in across the country. The Liberal government had been forced by the CCF and the NDP, which shows the influence of a social democratic party as setting a popular agenda of equality for the Canadian people.

That whole agenda has now been highjacked because of a paranoiac fear of the Canadian Alliance. What the Liberals are doing is adopting the Alliance policy and moving sharply to the political right through $100 billion tax cut. Even the Minister of Finance himself a while back was ridiculing the then Reform Party for talking about a $50 billion or $60 billion cut in taxes. What does he do? He betters that with some $100 billion at the expense of the ordinary Canadian people and the programs that make this country so definitely unique from the United States of America.

We have the CA and the Liberal Party catering to the wealthy and to the privileged. We saw that last night at a dinner in Toronto where the corporate elite gathered. Tables were sold for this dinner. I watched the television last night to see how many ordinary grassroots Reformers there were from Wymark, Moose Jaw, or Kindersley, Saskatchewan or Brandon, Manitoba. I watched to see how many faces I would recognize of the ordinary people from Yorkton. Does anyone know how many I saw? I did not see any. I wondered why. Does anyone know why? It was because the cost of a table was $25,000. Some grassroots party, catering to the business arenas on Bay Street, to the big banks and the big financial institutions.

The old Reform Party is dead and gone, the so-called grassroots party that protested against this kind of elite gathering. We now have a new Bay Street party in the Reform Party; $25,000 a table. They were sipping champagne. They were pigging out on caviar. The party of the so-called grassroots people that rebelled against Brian Mulroney, rebelled against Bay Street, rebelled against this kind of imperial power, rebelled against these back room deals, has changed its skin. Now it represents the party of the wealthy, the rich and the privileged. That is the new Canadian Alliance, the old Reform Party.

What does the Liberal Party do? It gets scared. It is afraid. It is afraid of this new party that is rising so it moves sharply to the right. The member from British Columbia over there is crying in his seat. He is afraid as he weeps in the House of Commons.

What is in this budget? What is in this budget, for example, for the farmers of western Canada? I can see the headline “Farmers: An Endangered Species Survey”. A report from Statistics Canada says that there are 22,100 fewer farmers in the prairies this fall than last fall. The reaction it said was jaw dropping from economists across the prairies. Yet we had a surplus of $100 billion over five years to work with. What is there for the prairie farmer? There are 40,000 fewer farm workers in the prairies.

Farmers came to Ottawa last year asking for some help. The Europeans massively support their farmers. The Americans massively support their farmers. The government does diddly-squat. There is nothing in the budget at all.

We had a big deficit. The Canadian people won the deficit battle and now there is a big surplus. Where does the surplus go? It goes to $100 billion on tax cuts. Where does the surplus go? It goes toward cutting capital gains for speculators and wealthy bankers. The surtax on the rich is gone. The tax bracket was dropped in terms of what the rich pay in taxes in this country. All kinds of tax breaks have been given to the banks and we have 22,000 fewer farmers on the prairies.

I am surprised at the government across the way, but we have the Canadian Alliance going one step further. It does not like any support for farmers. The Alliance leader was in Regina back in August. Does anyone know what he said about the Canadian Wheat Board? He said that it should be voluntary. He said that if the Canadian Wheat Board was not a single best seller then it would eventually be eliminated and eliminated very quickly. That is exactly what the Canadian Alliance wants to do.

Then we had the member from Interlake who was saying a few days ago that the big drop in farmers is really a structural readjustment. That is the sensitivity we have from the official opposition.

What does the government do? It makes no response. There is nothing there to help our farmers in a time of need. These are things that were missing in the mini statement made by the Minister of Finance in the House of Commons yesterday.

I look again across my riding and across my province. I see a highway system that is collapsing because the government across the way has allowed the rail lines to be abandoned forcing farmers to take their grain to market in large trucks. The highways are being destroyed and yet there is no money for a national highways program to help rebuild the infrastructure of rural Canada and rural Saskatchewan.

Where is that money? That money has gone to Bay Street and to the wealthy. It has gone to pay down the national debt very rapidly and to pay off the bond holders on Bay Street. Where is the money for the ordinary people in Cupar, Dysart, Wynyard, Elfros, Raymore, Qu'Appelle and all those other places across Saskatchewan to make sure the highways are rebuilt?

It is a question of choices and a question of priorities. The Liberals made their choice and their choice does not synchronize at all with the preference of the Canadian people, which is to reinvest in people's programs and in a new deal for people.

Economic PolicyGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault)

It being 1.45 p.m., pursuant to order made earlier this day, the House will now proceed to consideration of Bill C-45 in committee of the whole.

House in committee on Bill C-45, an act respecting the provision of increased funding for health care services, medical equipment, health information and communications technologies, early childhood development and other social services and to amend the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act, Ms. Thibeault in the chair.

Canada Health Care, Early Childhood Development And Other Social Services Funding ActGovernment Orders

October 19th, 2000 / 1:45 p.m.

The Assistant Deputy Chairman

Order, please. House in committee of the whole on Bill C-45. Shall clause 2 carry?

(On clause 2)

Canada Health Care, Early Childhood Development And Other Social Services Funding ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Madam Chairman, with the government's support, I move:

That Bill C-45 be amended by replacing line 14 on page 2 with the following:

“the trust, taking into account the population of that province.”

This is what is in the agreement signed by the first ministers in Ottawa.

Canada Health Care, Early Childhood Development And Other Social Services Funding ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Willowdale Ontario

Liberal

Jim Peterson LiberalSecretary of State (International Financial Institutions)

Madam Chairman, we accept this amendment.

(Amendment agreed to)

Canada Health Care, Early Childhood Development And Other Social Services Funding ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Greg Thompson Progressive Conservative Charlotte, NB

Madam Chairman, seeing that we are in committee of the whole and given the fact there is a huge gaping hole in this legislation, I would propose the following amendment, that clause 6 on page 3 be amended—

Canada Health Care, Early Childhood Development And Other Social Services Funding ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

The Assistant Deputy Chairman

I must advise the hon. member that we are not on clause 6 right now. We are still on clause 2.

(Clause 2, as amended, agreed to)

(On clause 3)

Canada Health Care, Early Childhood Development And Other Social Services Funding ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Madam Chairman, again after consulting government members, I move:

That Bill C-45 be amemded by replacing lines 20 to 24 on page 2 with the following:

“ter of Health, for the purpose of defining standards governing shared data to ensure the compatibility of health information networks.”

Again, this is what is in the agreement signed by the first ministers, here in Ottawa.

(Amendment agreed to)

(Clause 3, as amended, agreed to)

(Clauses 4 and 5 agreed to)

(On clause 6)

Canada Health Care, Early Childhood Development And Other Social Services Funding ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Greg Thompson Progressive Conservative Charlotte, NB

Madam Chairman, given the fact that we are in committee of the whole, I am attempting to plug a big hole in this legislation. I propose the following amendment:

That clause 6 on page 3 be amended at line 18 by striking out “for the fiscal year beginning on April 1, 2001”, and substituting “therefore on the day this bill receives royal assent”.

Canada Health Care, Early Childhood Development And Other Social Services Funding ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Chairman, I suppose this is interesting, however it is a charge against the public treasury and it does not have a royal recommendation, as Your Honour will know. It advances a contribution from subsequent years to a present calendar year, present expenditure of the government and a charge against this year's treasury.

Canada Health Care, Early Childhood Development And Other Social Services Funding ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Joe Clark Progressive Conservative Kings—Hants, NS

Madam Chairman, on that point, the House and certainly the country knows that the agreement in principle that was met by the first ministers was an agreement that would restore all of the funding back to 1993 levels. This bill does not do that and so it behooves the House to find a way in which the words of the first ministers can be kept and in which we can avoid cheating provinces and territories out of $2 billion to $3 billion that they would otherwise receive as a result of the agreement in principle to go to full restoration of the 1993 levels.

The minister has found a technical point. There is no doubt that it would be possible for the government, if it chose, to find some means to rearrange existing expenditures, to front-end load the contribution by the Government of Canada so the word of the Prime Minister of Canada could be kept and so all of the funds that should go back to health and social transfers in the country will go back now rather than two years from now.

Canada Health Care, Early Childhood Development And Other Social Services Funding ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

The Assistant Deputy Chairman

The question before the Chair is very clear. It has to do with infringement on a royal recommendation and therefore I rule that it is not receivable.

Canada Health Care, Early Childhood Development And Other Social Services Funding ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis NDP Winnipeg North Centre, MB

Madam Chairman, I would also like to propose an amendment that Bill C-45 in clause 6 be amended by replacing lines 12 to 15 on page 3 with the following: “a cash contribution of $20.4 billion for the fiscal year beginning on April 1, 2004, and $21 billion for the fiscal year beginning on April 1, 2005”; that lines 23 to 26 at page 3 be deleted; and that line 20 at page 3 in the english version be replaced with the following: “ning on April 1, 2002, and”.

Perhaps I could speak to that very briefly. It should be noted there are many amendments that we would have liked to have proposed in the Chamber today that I am sure would have been ruled out of order and required a royal recommendation. This proposal does not add any new money to the bill, much as we would have liked to do that. It simply ensures that at the end of the five year period around which this first ministers' deal has been struck, the base would have moved from $15.5 billion to $21 billion. I move that constructive suggestion to the bill.

Canada Health Care, Early Childhood Development And Other Social Services Funding ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Willowdale Ontario

Liberal

Jim Peterson LiberalSecretary of State (International Financial Institutions)

Madam Chairman, as much as I appreciate the intentions of the hon. member I would have to say that, first, the bill respects to the letter the agreement reached among the 14 first ministers and, second, as the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance have indicated, if in future years budgetary conditions permit, issues about increasing the amounts can always be considered at that time.

Canada Health Care, Early Childhood Development And Other Social Services Funding ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Joe Clark Progressive Conservative Kings—Hants, NS

Madam Chairman, I was very interested that the amendment moved by the New Democratic Party was one that was designed to be within the limits with respect to the authority of parliament over expenditure. I would like to take advantage of the presence on the floor of officials to ask them whether in fact the amendment that was proposed is one that meets the requirements with regard to the role of parliament and spending. If it does, obviously there would be a desire on all parts of the House to support an amendment that would ensure that more money went into the system more quickly.

I call upon the officials here for clarification as to whether this is a receivable amendment.

Canada Health Care, Early Childhood Development And Other Social Services Funding ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Madam Chairman, the right hon. member knows parliamentary rules better than I and he knows perfectly well that officials do not speak in the House of Commons; members of parliament do.

Canada Health Care, Early Childhood Development And Other Social Services Funding ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Joe Clark Progressive Conservative Kings—Hants, NS

Madam Chairman, I appreciate the correction by my hon. friend.

Would my hon. friend consent to speak to his officials and to convey through his voice their responses to the questions that I have raised?

Canada Health Care, Early Childhood Development And Other Social Services Funding ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Madam Chairman, the right hon. member knows the rules as well as we all do and my hon. colleague, the secretary of state, has indicated the bill totally respects the agreement made with the provinces so I think it is the end of the discussion to that effect.

The right hon. member does raise, as he usually does, interesting issues nonetheless.