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House of Commons Hansard #83 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was c-23.

Topics

ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Benoît Sauvageau Bloc Repentigny, QC

Mr. Speaker, today, once more, the auditor general is criticizing serious shortcomings at Immigration Canada, including inadequate security of visas and data banks. Even more worrisome is the fact that medical screening for entry into Canada has remained unchanged for the past 40 years.

How does the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration explain that in 2000 her department is carrying out the same medical exams as it did 40 years ago?

ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Thornhill Ontario

Liberal

Elinor Caplan LiberalMinister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, let me repeat again that public health and security concerns are number one priorities for my department and for the government.

The auditor general says that we need to improve our security screening, and we are doing that. The auditor general says that we need to improve our medical screening, and we are doing that.

When we table the new regulations, for the first time we will have a definition of medical inadmissibility that has been agreed to in a consensus by all provinces. That should go a long way toward responding to those needs.

I want the members to know that at ports of entry every immigration officer who has a medical concern about anyone entering Canada can require and actually demand a medical examination.

TaxationOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Alex Shepherd Liberal Durham, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance. There are only 19 days left for Canadians to file their 1999 income tax returns. Many low and middle income earners know that as their incomes approach the thresholds of new tax brackets they often pay marginal rates of taxes as high as 50%.

This discourages people from working and reduces productivity, lowering the potential wealth for all Canadians. What is the minister doing to eradicate this disparity?

TaxationOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the question from the member for Durham is significant because we have in fact reduced the middle tax rate from 26% to eventually 23%; significant because we are increasing the threshold from $29,000 to $35,000 and from $59,000 to $70,000 respectively; significant because we have reindexed the entire tax system; significant because it is evident from question period over the last couple of months that it is only Liberal members of parliament who want to reduce taxes for Canadians.

Solicitor GeneralOral Question Period

April 11th, 2000 / 2:45 p.m.

Reform

Jim Abbott Reform Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, let us talk about mismanagement in the solicitor general's department where it does not just cost money but in fact costs people their lives.

The auditor general points to the infamous Bernardo disaster where DNA samples delayed by two years allowed him to commit four more rapes and two more murders.

How dare this government tell Canadians that it is serious about protecting law-abiding citizens. Its policies give licence for Bernardo and other predators to go after law-abiding citizens.

Solicitor GeneralOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Cardigan P.E.I.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay LiberalSolicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, we do take the auditor general's report very seriously. As far as DNA, they have improved dramatically over the last number of months and by September 30 all priority cases will be completed within 30 days.

Solicitor GeneralOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Reform

Jim Abbott Reform Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, how can we believe that? Let us take a look at another example in the auditor general's report. There was a 227 day delay in getting DNA samples processed in the case of a sexual assault of a child.

The auditor is very clear: The issue is not resources, the issue is mismanagement on the part of this government.

When will the solicitor general get serious about protecting law-abiding Canadians?

Solicitor GeneralOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Cardigan P.E.I.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay LiberalSolicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, this is of course a serious issue. It is too bad my hon. colleague does not do a little research before asking his question.

In his first question concerning the lab for the DNA test, it was the Ontario lab, not the federal lab. You should get your facts straight.

Solicitor GeneralOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

The Speaker

Order, please. I would remind members to please address their remarks always to the Chair.

ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, today the auditor general noted serious weaknesses in the economic component of the Canada immigration program. Not only do these shortcomings seriously limit Canada's ability to maximize the benefits of immigration, it gives ammunition to the enemies of immigration who would use any excuse to close the door and to keep people out of this country.

What steps does the minister of immigration intend to take to remedy these many criticisms, and will she concede that part of the problem is government cutbacks that have left immigration so starved for resources that it cannot possibly deliver a quality product?

ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Thornhill Ontario

Liberal

Elinor Caplan LiberalMinister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, the auditor general acknowledged the need for additional resources for my department. In fact, $139 million has been allocated and, of that, $49 million in the last budget specifically for security and health concerns.

The member opposite should know that it is the intention of the new legislation, which I just tabled, to address many of the other concerns. We want to close the back door to those who would criminally abuse our system so that we can open the front door wider to the people Canada needs to come and build this country to prosperity.

Aboriginal AffairsOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

NDP

Bev Desjarlais NDP Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, the minister of Indian affairs must know that one of the greatest factors affecting the education of aboriginal students is the inadequate housing and infrastructure.

This year's federal budget did little to address the issue. The auditor general has indicated that if these shortfalls are not addressed within the system, it will take 23 years for on reserve populations to reach education parity with the overall Canadian rate for high school.

Is the minister satisfied with that rate? Is it okay that it will take 23 years for on reserve aboriginal populations to reach educational parity with the rest of Canadian students?

Aboriginal AffairsOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Kenora—Rainy River Ontario

Liberal

Bob Nault LiberalMinister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, as I said in my previous answer, no, I am not satisfied and we have every intention of changing it.

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Elsie Wayne Progressive Conservative Saint John, NB

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Prime Minister made a personal commitment to send Canadian forces personnel to the Middle East if asked. The Middle East is a very dangerous theatre of operations, one that could become extremely volatile and dangerous for Canadian soldiers.

Did either the Minister of National Defence or the CDS personally know of and endorse the commitment before it was made?

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

York Centre Ontario

Liberal

Art Eggleton LiberalMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, we have a proud record in terms of peacekeeping in the Middle East. In fact we have the command position at this point in time in the Golan Heights. It is because the United Nations knows that Canada is dependable and can do a good job in peacekeeping. That is what the Prime Minister was saying.

We have an interest in the Middle East and continue to have one. We want to be of help. If the UN puts a mission together we want to be there and be part of it, but of course we will do the usual checks, including risk assessment, to make sure it is an acceptable level.

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Elsie Wayne Progressive Conservative Saint John, NB

Mr. Speaker, in the wake of the Prime Minister's decision last year to send Canadian forces personnel to East Timor, both the minister and CDS indicated that the military's operational tempo was too high. Since then the government has been very cautious in making peacekeeping commitments.

Now that Prime Minister Barak has been promised Canadian forces peacekeepers, what changes will the Minister of National Defence have to make to keep the Prime Minister's promise?

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

York Centre Ontario

Liberal

Art Eggleton LiberalMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, there are ongoing consultations which involve myself, the CDS, the Prime Minister and the Prime Minister's office. The notion of sending peacekeepers to the Middle East is one that I raised last fall when I was there.

We will continue to look at and assess this situation. We want to be of help, as we have traditionally been. We have less troops out there internationally now than we did a year ago. We have brought it down to a more reasonable level and we are ready to respond when the call comes.

Treasury BoardOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

Rey D. Pagtakhan Liberal Winnipeg North—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the President of the Treasury Board.

Today we are in the midst of National Volunteer Week. In the last throne speech, the Government of Canada expressed the commitment to establish a new creative partnership with the voluntary sector. What has the Government of Canada done to fulfill this commitment?

Treasury BoardOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Westmount—Ville-Marie Québec

Liberal

Lucienne Robillard LiberalPresident of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for Infrastructure

Mr. Speaker, the government is committed to renewing its relationship with the voluntary sector.

We intend to follow up on the recommendations made in the report entitled “Working Together”. One of the report's recommendations was to establish a reference group of ministers. The Prime Minister has just set up that group of reference ministers. We had a meeting last night with the leaders of the sectors to decide our priorities. The government intends to answer in a national accord in the year 2001 with the voluntary sector laying a new foundation for an active partnership.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Reform

Diane Ablonczy Reform Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, today we learned about still another example of human resources development's lack of trustworthiness.

According to the auditor general, the department made a commitment to reduce waiting times for counter service and for payments under OAS and CPP. It turned out that this was not much of a commitment. HRDC did not even bother to check whether or not waiting times ever got shorter.

How can Canadians believe this minister's promises given her track record of failing to follow through?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, on the contrary, I welcome the work of the auditor general. I met with him to discuss the details of the chapter that he presented today.

On balance, he talked very positively about the service delivery methods of the department. I will quote him. He stated that “HRDC has made considerable progress in addressing service quality.”

Option CanadaOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre De Savoye Bloc Portneuf, QC

Mr. Speaker, since the auditor general said so himself two years ago, the operations of Option Canada have yet to be clarified, and we still have no idea how the $4.8 million was used.

Will the solicitor general give us the assurance that he will act on the letter I sent him today asking to set up a police investigation to discover where the $4.8 million given Option Canada went?

Option CanadaOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Cardigan P.E.I.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay LiberalSolicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I understand that my hon. colleague sent me a letter just before I left for question period. I have not had a chance to review the letter but I will review it in due course.

Canada Pension PlanOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

NDP

Lorne Nystrom NDP Qu'Appelle, SK

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

As the minister knows, there are about 100 firefighters on Parliament Hill today asking parliament to make changes to the Canada pension plan so that they can qualify for early retirement benefits at the age of 55 and full benefits at the age of 60, instead of the current ages of 60 and 65. The minister is also aware that the House of Commons finance committee made a similar recommendation last fall.

In light of that, will the minister now propose an amendment to the Canada pension plan so that firefighters can obtain benefits at an earlier age because of this essential and dangerous occupation?

Canada Pension PlanOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, there is no doubt about the tremendous debt that all Canadians owe to firefighters right across the country.