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House of Commons Hansard #122 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was animal.

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Division No. 1392Government Orders

7:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Norman E. Doyle Progressive Conservative St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, the Progressive Conservative members vote yes to this motion.

Division No. 1392Government Orders

7:25 p.m.

Liberal

André Harvey Liberal Chicoutimi, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will be voting in favour of the motion.

Division No. 1392Government Orders

7:25 p.m.

Independent

John Nunziata Independent York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of my constituents I would vote yes.

Division No. 1392Government Orders

7:25 p.m.

Reform

Jake Hoeppner Reform Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, the constituents of Portage—Lisgar vote yes.

Division No. 1392Government Orders

7:25 p.m.

Bloc

Réjean Lefebvre Bloc Champlain, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will be voting against the motion.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Division No. 1393Government Orders

7:25 p.m.

The Speaker

I declare the motion carried.

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

Division No. 1393Adjournment Proceedings

7:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Greg Thompson Progressive Conservative Charlotte, NB

Madam Speaker, a number of weeks ago, in fact in June before we recessed for the summer, I asked a question of the Minister of Finance regarding the CHST, the Canadian health and social transfer, the moneys going to the provinces mainly for education and health care among other things. It is the moneys that come from the federal government in support of health care provincially.

Obviously we are not satisfied with the arrangements. In response to the minister's reply, there is no question that there is an election coming. We are having a bit of fun on the other benches, I can see, but the federal government has just announced that about $4 billion is going to the CHST. I remind the Canadian public that this will bring us back to the same levels of spending that we had in 1994. We will almost 10 years behind the eight ball. Of course, that money will not kick in for another 18 months.

It is money that the provinces and the federal government agreed to, but basically the provinces did it with no guarantees at all coming from the federal government in terms of national standards. The provinces simply bought in with the money, with no guarantees for national standards in the future.

The government is taking a lot of credit for having done this, for putting money back into health care. However, the House will remember that the government created this problem. The government has not fixed it. It has no plan for the future. Basically the government makes it up, fixes it up and rolls along without any consideration for what it will do down the road. Canadians are not satisfied with that approach of stumble along and make it up as we go along. It is an approach that the government has taken for the last seven years and I think the Canadian public is getting wise to it.

Why I say this is that with this injection of money basically on the eve of an election, we can see how quickly the provinces came to an agreement with the federal government. Knowing full well that an election is coming, the government wanted it off the table. Basically the Prime Minister said “Here is the cash. Take it and run. Get out of my way. Incidentally, there is an election coming, so just get out of my hair. Here is the money. Take the cash and run”.

That is not a plan. That is just political opportunism for the wrong reasons. Basically the Liberals are hoping for a deathbed reprieve, which the government got in 1997. The House will remember that on the eve of the 1997 election the Liberals threw in a billion dollars to appease the provinces and in the middle of a campaign came up with a promise for pharmacare, a pharmaceutical program and a home care program, a promise that they had no intention of keeping.

It was simply to appease the people, to get them on side, and it was “By the way, an election is coming”. They have not honoured those promises. They have no plans for the future nor do they have a plan going into this election other than “Here is the cash. Take it and run”.

There is an old expression “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me”. The Canadian public will not fall for this trick, the same trick that the Liberals used in the 1997 election. They fooled us twice. They are not going to do it—

Division No. 1393Adjournment Proceedings

7:30 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault)

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance.

Division No. 1393Adjournment Proceedings

7:30 p.m.

Etobicoke North Ontario

Liberal

Roy Cullen LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Finance

Madam Speaker, the member for New Brunswick Southwest seems to have the numbers mixed up. In fact, the Prime Minister recently concluded an agreement with the provinces and territories which will invest $23.5 billion in the health care system through the Canada health and social transfer. That is in addition to the $14 billion that was put into the CHST in the two previous budgets. That is a total of $37.5 billion, which is significantly more than the figure of $4.5 billion the member quoted.

The reason for the original question from the member to the minister had to do with the CHST as a block fund. I would like to say that the CHST gives provinces greater flexibility to allocate resources according to their own priorities. As a block fund, the CHST also allows provinces to design programs and reflect their unique circumstances and needs. Maintaining artificial boundaries between social programs is not good social policy. Health, education and social assistance are all interrelated. Furthermore, these programs fall under provincial jurisdiction. Provinces know how to best tailor programs to meet the needs of their own residents.

Having said this, I should note that maintaining the CHST as a block fund does not preclude agreements on targeted investments. Indeed, at the last first ministers meeting, as I just pointed out, first ministers agreed that of the additional $21 billion invested in the CHST over five years, $2.2 billion would be earmarked for early childhood development. In 1999 all premiers made a commitment to spend the $11.5 billion in new CHST cash provided in that year's budget on health care.

In conclusion, the agreement reached at the first ministers meeting and the 1999 budget clearly demonstrate that the CHST is an effective instrument for achieving national policy objectives while at the same time providing provinces and territories with the flexibility required in a mature federation.

Division No. 1393Adjournment Proceedings

7:35 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault)

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 2 p.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 7.36 p.m.)