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House of Commons Hansard #62 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was c-20.

Topics

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Liberal

Herb Gray Liberal Windsor West, ON

—who are not interested in the sick and who have left in a bank account $800 million that could be used to provide immediate relief to the sick.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Liberal

Herb Gray Liberal Windsor West, ON

The auditor general, who is an officer of this House, is already conducting a public investigation. But the silence over health care needs in the Province of Quebec is troubling.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, the Montreal Gazette announced today that, in a letter—

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Order, please. It is difficult to hear the questions and the replies. I know that everyone wants to hear.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

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

The Gazette announced today that, in a letter dated December 13, 1999 and addressed to the Minister of Human Resources Development, deputy minister Claire Morris recognized that, since June 1999, there had been, and I quote, “poor administrative practices in most of our grants and contributions programs”.

Does the Deputy Prime Minister stand by the Prime Minister's statement to the effect that there are only 37 isolated cases, when, to this day, there are 12 known investigations, and the media are talking about a “Shawinigate”?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Oakville Ontario

Liberal

Bonnie Brown LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I want to remind the House and all Canadians that suggesting that these investigations are representative of what is happening is completely false.

There are 30,000 projects. I want to remind the opposition that in any group of Canadians we will have some people over here who are saints and some people over here who are sinners—we call them criminals—and in the middle we have a broad band of Canadians who are doing their best to improve this country and to help Canadians march forward toward hope. But if we keep focusing on the people over here, then I suggest—

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, is the root of the problem not the fact that, since her appointment, the minister has attempted to deny the existence of a scandal and has refused to order a public, independent inquiry under the Inquiries Act?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray LiberalDeputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, why does the hon. member not trust the auditor general, who is an officer of this House? Why does he undermine the auditor general's efforts?

These investigations are conducted at arm's length from the government. Why does the hon. member speak in a way that could prejudice the investigations, which are necessary to protect the public interest? The hon. member should rethink his approach on this issue.

Health CareOral Question Period

March 3rd, 2000 / 11:25 a.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Deputy Prime Minister.

Yesterday the Government of Alberta introduced legislation having to do with the privatization of health care in that province which, if allowed to continue, will be the beginning of the end for medicare in this country.

Today is the day when the Government of Canada should act in order to assure Canadians that this will not be allowed to happen, that the spirit and the letter of the Canada Health Act and what people hold to be true about medicare in this country will be upheld.

I want to ask the Deputy Prime Minister, what does the government intend to do about that legislation?

Health CareOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray LiberalDeputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I want to assure the House that quality accessible health care for all Canadians is a priority of this government.

We have just learned about the bill. It is being actively studied. We will do what is necessary in light of our jurisdiction to make sure that the interests of all Canadians are protected.

Health CareOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is not as if the government did not know about this legislation. It is not as if the government did not know what would be tabled yesterday.

Today is the day for the government to say more than quality health care will be a priority and that kind of rhetoric. What we want to know is will the government act to make sure that this does not happen? Otherwise it will be open to charges of the political equivalent of criminal negligence when it comes to protecting medicare in this country.

Health CareOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray LiberalDeputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, when we speak of our commitment to the maintenance of a quality accessible health care program available to all Canadians, it is not rhetoric, it is our policy. We will carry out our responsibilities.

It is only common sense that when before there was press speculation, now there is an actual bill deposited before the Alberta legislature. We are studying the bill actively and we will have a response as soon as possible.

Health CareOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Greg Thompson Progressive Conservative Charlotte, NB

Mr. Speaker, every premier in the country and all the provinces agree that the health care system is in crisis. That includes, by the way, the Liberal Premier of Newfoundland.

What they are asking is pretty straightforward. They are asking for some evidence of a long term, sustainable plan to fix a health care system that the Liberals broke.

My question is pretty straightforward. Where is that plan? We have been waiting seven years.

Health CareOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray LiberalDeputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the government put $11.5 billion into health care in the last budget and $2.5 billion in this budget. That is the basis for an effective plan. The Minister of Health has already invited his colleagues, the provincial health ministers, to meet with him in May to work on further renewal and restoration of the health system.

Speaking personally, the first thing that should be done is for those premiers who have not spent the money which they were given by the federal government, which they could have spent last year and this year, to get on with the job and apply that money to health care. I speak of Quebec—

Health CareOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member for New Brunswick Southwest.

Health CareOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Greg Thompson Progressive Conservative Charlotte, NB

Mr. Speaker, that answer is absolutely bogus. The reason it is bogus is because he does not talk about the money the Liberals took out of the plan. He talks about putting in $11.5 billion. Why does he not talk about the $17 billion they took out?

At the end of their three year plan, if they do have one, we will be back to the same spending levels that we had in 1990. We are 10 years behind the eight ball. When are they going to get the message? They created the problem. We want a plan to fix it. Where is the plan?

Health CareOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray LiberalDeputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, our first plan was to get rid of the mess left us by his party, the Conservative Party, when we took office in 1993. That is the basis for our plan and we are working on it.

We want to work co-operatively with the premiers, but I would like to say firstly, as a resident of Ontario, that a first step is for the Ontario government and the Quebec government to spend the money they were given in the last budget, which they could be spending today to help people who are ill and in need of medical care in their provinces.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Reform

Jay Hill Reform Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, if this government would spend as much money on real doctors as it does on spin doctors perhaps health care would not be in the shape it is in.

According to the documents we received this morning, a strategic debate took place regarding the potential release dates of the damning audit in the HRDC department. The department was considering a release date as early as September. However, the documents suggest that a September release would follow too closely on the heels of the TAGS report and they did not want to draw comparisons.

Will the minister admit that it was these strategic considerations that kept her from releasing the audit until January?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Oakville Ontario

Liberal

Bonnie Brown LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Human Resources Development

Once again, Mr. Speaker, the Reform Party is referring to draft communication plans prepared by the department in preparation for the acceptance of the final audit report, which came much later than when those plans were drafted.

There was absolutely no idea of not releasing it. As a matter of fact, the communication referred to in the papers this morning backs up the fact that the minister was determined to be transparent and open, was determined to release it and did so as soon as all the information was assembled.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Reform

Jay Hill Reform Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is just inconceivable that the minister did not know about this so-called draft report until November.

The department was engaged in an internal strategic debate about when to release these documents. There was a communications plan in place. Senior officials were engaged in these discussions. In January, however, Reform sniffed out the audit.

Why will the minister not just admit that she was waiting as long as possible to tell Canadians about her billion dollar bungle?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Oakville Ontario

Liberal

Bonnie Brown LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I can only say it so many times. The minister was briefed on November 17. The audit and the plans to fix the problem were released in January. This is a reflection of her own determination to be transparent and open.

The release of 18 binders, five and a half inches thick, proves that we are being open and transparent. We also have an MP inquiry line, and I should tell the House that only 20 calls have been received from opposition members. They do not want to know the facts. They want to draw conclusions without facts.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, the documents the Minister of Human Resources Development has provided each member indicate that 51 companies which received over $12 million from the TJF in order to create jobs have gone bankrupt or closed down operations. The amazing thing is that they are supposed to have created at least 959 jobs.

Can the Deputy Prime Minister explain to us how a company that goes bankrupt or shuts down, laying off its workers, can be included in the government's job creation figures?