House of Commons Hansard #52 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was children.


Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

6:10 p.m.


Peter Adams Liberal Peterborough, ON

Madam Speaker, I have the honour to present the 17th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs regarding the membership and associate membership of committees of the House, and I should like to move concurrence at this time.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

6:10 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

Does the hon. member have the consent of the House to present the motion?

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

6:10 p.m.

Some hon. members


(Motion agreed to)

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-228, Antipoverty Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Antipoverty ActPrivate Members' Business

6:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Keith Martin Canadian Alliance Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to talk on this topic of poverty. The government adheres to a socialist, archaic method of dealing with the issue of poverty that has proven to be an abysmal failure. If we are truly going to deal with poverty, there are a number of constructive solutions that have worked internationally to elevate those people who are in the lower socio-economic groups while not harming anybody else.

Traditionally this and previous governments have adhered to a socialist economic platform, that is, they have adhered to the notion that we must raise taxes and redistribute those moneys from the haves to the have nots. At a certain level that is appealing, but in effect what it actually does is retard and harm the ability of an economy to provide jobs and indeed to provide the investment in our social programs that we require to help those who simply cannot help themselves, the mark of a humane society.

We see this in Atlantic Canada, for example, where fiscal federalism, handouts from so-called have to have not provinces, have not had the effect that we would like. In actuality, they have hamstrung and retarded the ability of the competent, dynamic people of the Atlantic provinces to improve their economic situation. That is a fundamental difference between the Liberal government and the Canadian Alliance in how we would deal with poverty.

Our country has indeed the highest personal income taxes of any G-7 nation. When we look at the OECD countries, we see that we fit in at about the middle. This is a significant hindrance, because as I mentioned before it actually impairs the ability of the private sector, which is, as the former finance minister said, the prime generator of jobs in Canada, from being able to provide those jobs. It creates a brain drain to areas of lower taxes, lower regulations and lower restrictions on the ability of the private sector to provide those jobs and expand.

In the end, what would we propose in order to alleviate poverty in Canada and provide the resources for the social programs we have come to enjoy? I would propose the following.

First, nobody in the country who is making less than $20,000 a year should be paying personal income taxes. One cannot live on $20,000 a year, so why is the government taxing people who make less than that? The most important thing that the government can do for those in the lower socio-economic groups is abolish all personal income taxes for those making less than $20,000 a year.

Second, we need to flatten and simplify the tax structure. In our country today it is so difficult to do our taxes that most people require an accountant. Therefore I would suggest that there be two tax structures: one between $20,001 and $60,000, and one for those who make above $60,000 a year, lowering the tax structure for both those areas.

Third, the elimination of capital gains taxes would add a significant impetus to investment and research and development in our country.

Fourth, we should elevate the amount that people can put away in RRSPs and also increase the foreign ownership content.

Fifth, we should allow people to work. We are going to see in the changing demographic that we have in our country a very large bubble of baby boomers who are going to retire. The pension structure we have right now is not going to be sufficient to provide for those people, and many of those people have not saved up enough or invested well enough to be able to provide for themselves. We have to enable those people to work. What we should do is eliminate the mandatory retirement age of 65 and enable people between the ages of 65 and 70 to have a graded ability to accept their CPP while being able to earn money. That would take the pressure off the CPP while enabling individuals to work and to make an input into our economy.

We know that in the future with our changing demographics fewer people will be working and therefore fewer people will be paying taxes into the social programs we require. This contraction of the workforce in one area and the expansion of the retirement age will put an unsustainable amount of pressure on our social programs. The way to alleviate that is to abolish that retirement age of 65, enable people to work beyond that, keep the money they earn, and actually also earn a percentage but not a complete amount of the CPP.

Furthermore, with regard to the OAS and GIS, we can ensure that people who make less than $60,000 a year will receive that but those who make above that amount will not. This is to ensure that OAS and GIS will be there for those individuals at their retirement age.

We have to invest in education. Professional faculties are becoming the purview of the rich. There is no way that I could afford to go to medical school now on the income I had, even with working every summer. It is not possible. The professional faculties such as medicine and dentistry are becoming the purview of the rich. Individuals can go to these faculties if their families have enough money, but if they do not, they cannot attend even though they might be qualified. Our education system must be available for those individuals who have the competence to be accepted into those faculties.

We could adopt what I call an income contingent loan replacement fund. It would enable people to receive government loans and pay back those loans based on the amount of money they earn when they retire. Back in 1994 the former leader of the Reform Party also proposed this idea.

People should have greater labour mobility in Canada. The provincial barriers are a significant hindrance to labour mobility.

We should also encourage research and development. Lowering taxes would enable the private sector to invest in research and development. In so doing, Canada would regain its rightful place as the engine of growth and innovation.

Governments have to become much more efficient. We in the Canadian Alliance have always said that we want a smaller, more efficient government. Some people think we just want to slash and burn but that is not true. We want a government that states its objectives clearly, that measures those objectives and is transparent about them.

Too often ministries do not have specific measurable objectives. They do not state their objectives clearly, they do not measure them and we do not know what the outcome is. There is no transparency in government spending. If we had that we would have a more efficient government. The taxpayers' money would be better spent and we would be better stewards of that responsibility.

The mark of a humane society is to enable individuals to work, to thrive and to be the best that they can be. On the other hand, thankfully in our country as a mark of a humane society, we have social programs to take care of those who cannot take care of themselves.

As the system is now, those in the private sector who are generators of our economy are being penalized and are being driven out of Canada. The poor are also being hurt because the prime generators of jobs have been squeezed out. The ability to generate jobs is being contracted which prevents people from getting jobs.

Because of the relatively high taxes, we are harming the ability to provide money for our social programs, for example, health care. Back in the early 1990s then Prime Minister Mulroney for one brief moment in time actually lowered taxes. His government found that because of the expansion of the economy, more tax money was going into the public coffers. There was more money for health care, education, and pensions. The bottom line was to take care of those who could not take care of themselves.

If we reversed that, those who adhere to the notion that raising taxes will somehow enable us to redistribute income to the have-nots would find that it actually impedes the have-nots from getting a job and getting the social programs they require. Social economics is voodoo economics. It has never worked. One only needs to look at what happened in northern Europe.

A job is the best social program anyone could ever have. We want to provide for those social programs. We want to enable people to work. We want to enable Canadians to be the best that they can be and provide for those who cannot provide for themselves.

Antipoverty ActPrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.


Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Madam Speaker, I congratulate my hon. colleague from the Bloc, the member for Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, for introducing Bill C-228. It is a fine and excellent bill and something that is long overdue. It is an important piece of legislation and I am very glad we are debating it today.

We need an anti-poverty law. We need something to spell out clearly that targets need to be established to eliminate poverty. We need legislation reviewed through a poverty lens.

I strongly support the idea of adding social condition to the prohibited grounds of the Canadian Human Rights Act. In fact when I first came to Ottawa as an elected member, I too had a motion on social condition. If the member remembers, there was also a motion from the Senate that came forward but unfortunately it was defeated. I too had a motion to set targets to eliminate poverty.

I was surprised to hear the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice say that the government has broken the vicious cycle of poverty. If that is the case, I wonder why we are here today debating this bill.

If the truth be known, the gap between the rich and the poor in our country has actually increased. The number of people who are struggling below the poverty line is increasing as evidenced by a recent report from the Caledon Institute.

Even today in the Toronto Star there is an article about 300,000 Canadians, and I believe they are in Ontario, who because they are living on minimum wage and are living way below the poverty line, are struggling to make ends meet. There has not been an increase in the minimum wage in Ontario since 1995. All of these are indications of how difficult it is for millions of Canadians who live below the poverty line.

There has been a lot of work done by a lot of groups to really bring this issue forward. Using Quebec as a model, there has been some excellent work done by a coalition of groups that convinced the national assembly of Quebec to pass a unanimous anti-poverty bill, Bill 112. It is a fine example of what can be done when elected representatives work closely with community representatives to tackle the issue. I wish we could adopt the same kind of thing here.

In the last couple of years we have seen an important court case, the Gosselin case, that went all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada. It challenged the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and put forward the notion that social and economic rights need to be recognized in our country. They are recognized in international law, for example in the international covenant on social, economic and cultural rights to which Canada is a signatory, but unfortunately we are in violation of that covenant. We have even been criticized by the United Nations for the status of aboriginal people in our country, or the state of homelessness.

The Gosselin case, although it was not approved by the Supreme Court, did raise a very important debate in the country and that is we need to be upholding social and economic rights. We need to be upholding these international covenants. I would say the government, far from breaking the vicious cycle of poverty, has contributed to the social and economic environment that is driving more and more people into despair.

I heard the government member speak about the child tax benefit. Let us be realistic about this. Even the child tax benefit is not available to the poorest of the poor, that is, people who live on income assistance. Before the demise of the Canada assistance plan, which was before the Canada health and social transfer, at least there were some principles and rules about social expenditures and social rights. That was abandoned long ago by the Liberal government.

One only has to look at my own province of British Columbia to see what is happening to poor people. There have been massive cuts in disability pensions and services to low income people.

Today I was reading an announcement about women's centres being cut. I had another motion in the House and I know that my colleague has had a bill on the whole question of the sex trade and prostitution as well. There is a correlation here because in my own community in east Vancouver, more and more women out of desperation are going to the streets and living off the avails of the sex trade. They are living so far below the poverty line that they are there out of economic desperation.

I raise this because it seems there is a very strong connection between a federal government that has abandoned this field and the need to have strong anti-poverty measures, setting targets, bringing in social condition as a prohibited grounds for discrimination, the child tax benefit, the lack of a national housing program, not having any rules for the provinces to abide by. All of this is now having an impact. In provinces like B.C., Ontario, Alberta and elsewhere, the available resources for poor people and the income structure have been so fragmented and cut back it is leaving more and more people out in the cold. More and more families and children are struggling to live in an environment where they have no support.

Supposedly we had a goal of eliminating child poverty by the year 2000. It was a unanimous resolution in the House put forward by the former leader of the NDP, Ed Broadbent. It was an honourable goal and resolution. Not only did we fail to meet the target of eliminating child poverty by the year 2000, but the situation has actually deteriorated. I would say it has deteriorated because we have not seen the kind of resources and attention that is needed from the federal government. As a result the provinces have cut back on welfare and have introduced things like workfare programs. As a result we see more and more discrimination against poor people.

For all of those reasons, this bill is very important. We never really debate in the House what is a national disgrace which is poverty in a country as wealthy as Canada. We can set targets to eliminate poverty. The Liberal government is very proud of what it did with the deficit. The finance minister set targets to eliminate the deficit. Why are we not able to do the same thing when it comes to our social deficit? Why are we not able to say that this is a political priority?

I encourage members of the House to consider the bill as a step in the right direction to establish an anti-poverty agenda which I think would have broad support. I congratulate the member and say to him that we in the NDP support the objectives and the measures that are contained in the bill. We are very disappointed that the government has not seen fit to support it. At least it was a place to start. At least it was a place to say that social condition is an important factor in preventing discrimination against poor people. Setting targets is a place to begin.

We will continue to support these kinds of measures. We will continue to advocate for them. We will continue to hold the government to account for its dismal failure and its record of abandoning low income and poor people in this country.

Antipoverty ActPrivate Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

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

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to have a few words to say on the bill. As well, I want to congratulate the hon. member who initiated the bill. It is a very good bill and one which we can support.

Let me say at the outset that I would support very strongly adding the phrase “social condition” to the list of prohibited grounds for discrimination.

It is difficult to believe that or understand why the government is not supporting the bill. Given the facts that there are problems associated with poverty, that poverty is rampant in this country and that the government has contributed more to the problems of low income people in the country than it has created solutions, it is difficult to understand why the government would not be supporting the bill.

The hon. member says that the government has broken the cycle of poverty. My initial reaction would be to say, how dare he say that the government has broken the cycle of poverty given the fact that people are lining up at food banks in ever increasing numbers across the country. Either the member is living in a fool's paradise or he is engaging in wishful thinking. Either way, it is a dangerous attitude that he is displaying.

The bill would amend the Canadian Human Rights Act by adding “social condition” to the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination. It would make refusal by a financial institution to provide banking services to an individual by reason of the individual's low income a discriminatory practice. That sounds very reasonable to me and it is something that we could support.

The bill also would require the Canadian Human Rights Commission to review any bill introduced or presented in the House of Commons by a minister of the Crown to ascertain whether any of the provisions are likely to result in a discriminatory practice prohibited under the act.

It would also require the Canadian Human Rights Commission to submit an annual report to the Minister of Justice on poverty in Canada and on the amounts that should be expended annually to end poverty. This can only be a very good thing that we review every single year the amounts of money that are expended on trying to end poverty in the country.

The thrust of the bill is one of equality. It seeks to achieve equality for those less fortunate through the addition of the phrase “social condition” in section 2 of the Canadian Human Rights Act. Specifically, the aim of the bill is to stop the discriminatory practice of financial institutions which refuse to offer banking services to individuals with low incomes.

It is hard to believe that this could actually be occurring in this day and age. This is 21st century banking. The poor and the low income again are being done a very grave injustice, and this time by our banking institutions, our financial institutions.

Clause 3 amends section 10 of the act by adding proposed subsection 10.1(1), which reads:

It is a discriminatory practice for a financial institution offering a banking service to refuse to provide the banking service to an individual by reason only of the individual's low income.

Statistics have shown there is an ever increasing gap between the rich and the poor, and the idea that someone would face discrimination based on wealth is abhorrent. The larger issue surrounding the bill has to do with poverty and questions about how government can work collectively to alleviate that kind of disparity.

Accountability is also central to the bill. Clause 4 amends section 61 by adding a stipulation in proposed section 61.01 that the commission be required to review any bills introduced to ascertain whether or not any of the provisions would be likely to result in a discriminatory practice. That would be a step in the right direction as well. It is something that we could support.

The review in terms of discrimination is very important. I would suggest that all bills which come here be examined in that vein. As the primary legislators in the country, it behooves us all to take seriously bills which affect Canadian individuals. The toughest of scrutiny must always be exercised when examining bills that affect people. The far-reaching impact of government cannot be underestimated. The amendment also makes mandatory the requirement that the minister issue a report on the findings of the commission and that a copy of the report be tabled “before each House of Parliament on any of the first two days in which the House is sitting after the Minister receives the report”.

With all of the inherent problems that this administration has had in terms of accountability, this is an amendment that possibly could be put in all legislation coming from the government side. We need only look at the Liberal legacy, with billions lost in HRDC, dramatic cuts to health care, an underfunded military and hundreds of millions of dollars wasted on a long gun registry that does not save lives. It is always necessary to be vigilant when government is introducing bills.

The bill also calls on the commission to prepare a yearly report detailing the status of poverty in Canada. The report would be submitted to the minister along with an estimated amount of money that should be expended annually to end poverty.

As the NDP member who spoke before me indicated, the House made a unanimous decision many years ago to end poverty. Back in 1990, I think it was said that child poverty would be ended by the year 2000. We see what has happened in these intervening years, when child poverty has increased and is on the rise and housing programs have been downgraded.

I was a part of a committee that went across the country, all the way from Newfoundland to British Columbia, hearing briefs on child poverty. Some of these briefs that were presented to us left one absolutely amazed at how people can get along on such a very small income or with such a small amount of money. It is no wonder that we have people using food banks across the country in ever increasing numbers. The hon. members opposite have the nerve to say that they have broken the cycle of poverty while on a daily basis children are going to school hungry.

It would indeed be a good idea to see a report given to the House each year on the estimated amount of money that should be expended annually to end poverty in the country.

I have no problem with the majority of this legislation. In fact, I believe we should be doing more.

Antipoverty ActPrivate Members' Business

6:40 p.m.


Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank all of my colleagues who took part in the debate. I was rather surprised by the parliamentary secretary's statement, and I would like to remind him of a few things.

There is expertise and caselaw to be found in the various jurisdictions with regard to social condition. The parliamentary secretary implied that if we were to add social condition as a prohibited ground of discrimination under the Canadian Human Rights Act, it would force the government to grant a certain level of income. It would also prevent the government from having a targeted policy for a number of Canadians. I do not think this view stands up to scrutiny.

In 1977, I was still an child, or rather I was in my early teens. Jacques-Yvan Morin was a member of the National Assembly. He convinced the National Assembly. At that time, the debate was not centred on including social condition, but rather social origin as a prohibited ground of discrimination in the Quebec charter. Some were saying that social origin was too closely linked to the past whereas social condition concerned the present status of individuals.

There are no precedents and no court judgments relating to social condition or a similar ground. I said earlier that eight provinces had provisions comparable to social condition and to discrimination based on income or similar grounds. A court never said to a government, “You will have to provide a certain level of income because it relates to social condition”.

A few weeks ago, I was reading the Gosselin case, where, on the basis of section 45 of the Quebec charter, the Supreme Court reiterated that the government has the right to have targeted policies and that this cannot be measured by the failure to or willingness not to discriminate. It is not a matter of income, it is a matter of legislative environment.

I want those who are listening to us to know just how cowardly the government is, just how irresponsible it is and just how much laxness there is, considering that Quebec has had this since 1977.

In 2000, the then Minister of Justice, who is currently the Minister of Health, had asked the former judge of the Supreme Court, Mr. Laforest, to chair a task force. He submitted a report in 2000, with 165 recommendations, including the inclusion of social condition. We know very well what social condition means.

My bill is hardly all-inclusive. My colleague, the member for Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, has introduced five bills on employment insurance. Other members of the Bloc Quebecois have also proposed measures. I do not claim that this bill will be the end of all debate or that it is all-inclusive. It is a path, a road to follow, but it is quite important and it will provide specific tools.

As for the need to review all bills with a poverty lens, that is happening in France. France is a comparable country.

I believe my time is running out. Madam Speaker, I know that there does exist a real spirit of cooperation in the House. I have been very tenacious with this bill: I have introduced it three times now. There is agreement among all parliamentarians that poverty is a concern and that this is an issue that cuts across all lines, rural and urban, men and women, seniors and youth. Poverty affects all of society and all parliamentarians must act, without regard to partisan politics, and you know how hard it is for me to be partisan.

With these concerns in mind and in a context where we want to review the rules of the House to give members of Parliament more say, perhaps you could ask if the House would give its consent to declare the bill votable, and follow the appropriate process and be referred to the Standing Committee on Human Resources Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities.

Antipoverty ActPrivate Members' Business

6:45 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

Is there unanimous consent to make this bill votable?

Antipoverty ActPrivate Members' Business

6:45 p.m.

Some hon. members


Antipoverty ActPrivate Members' Business

6:45 p.m.

An hon. member


Antipoverty ActPrivate Members' Business

6:45 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

The period provided for consideration of private members' business has now expired.

As the motion has not been designated a votable item, the order is dropped from the Order Paper.

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

Antipoverty ActAdjournment Proceedings

6:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Andy Burton Canadian Alliance Skeena, BC

Madam Speaker, back in December I asked the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development a question relating to a specific Indian band regarding education funding and non-payment of bills.

I am not on a witch hunt, but this is a serious problem and it is not just localized. It is a problem right across the country. The crux of the matter is that Indian bands are allocated federal funds earmarked for education costs. School districts in my riding and other ridings are contracted to deliver education to these children. Education is provided by the bands. Some pay and some do not and this is what is creating the problem.

The federal minister has refused to make the Indian bands pay their debts. School districts as a consequence, some in my riding and some in other ridings, are owed millions as a result and have no recourse.

When the last master tuition agreement expired in 1992, school boards and bands were encouraged to enter into local education agreements under which bands would purchase services for their status, on-reserve students, using the federal grant provided for tuition.

At first the existence of such an agreement was a prerequisite to the band's receipt of federal funds. Later the federal government commenced direct funding under which a band could elect to receive tuition directly whether or not an LEA was in affect. Boards were expected to invoice such bands. Some paid and some did not. The receivables in some school districts grew and this of course was the crux of my question.

Boards were advised by the ministry to work on relationships and that eventually payment would come. They were informed that, “A recent judgment by the B.C. Supreme Court necessitates that DIAND take steps to ensure this funding is consistently directed to the purpose for which it was appropriated”.

In a letter from the provincial minister to my school board regarding INAC funding, it states that, “INAC expects its school districts will invoice bands and that it is working with these first nations to resolve any unpaid tuition accounts and to ensure that payment to school districts continues”. The letter goes on to say, “School districts are encouraged to bill the bands as soon as possible. The ministry is continuing to work with INAC regarding the funding of first nations students”.

On March 1, 2002, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada wrote to all first nations in the B.C. region that for fiscal year 2003 a signed local education agreement outlining terms and schedules for tuition payment must be in place before the DIAND would be able to place provincial school tuition funding in first nations funding agreements.

Reference was made to this and I repeat, “A recent judgment by the B.C. Supreme Court necessitates that DIAND take steps to ensure this funding is consistently directed to the purpose for which it was appropriated”. I feel that is the job of the minister to ensure that.

A letter from Kevin Langlands, B.C. special adviser to the minister, stated that, “Concerning tuition arrears, outstanding, up to and including March 31, 2002, I anticipate that this issue will be resolved by July 31, 2002”.

The problem is far from resolved. Senior levels of government have a clear duty to make financially whole the school boards who have been providing educational services to these aboriginal students. School boards must not be left to borrow funds, incur interest costs, and spend scarce education dollars on legal fees chasing questionable legal remedies for non-payment and late payment of tuition fees.

If the federal government has made unconditional grants to bands and paid out money that it should have paid to the province and thus to the school boards, that is not the fault of the school board or of the students.

I wish to ask the minister, is the minister washing his hands of this type of debt?

Antipoverty ActAdjournment Proceedings

6:50 p.m.

Miramichi New Brunswick


Charles Hubbard LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Madam Speaker, it is important tonight to point out to the hon. member and to all members of the House that education is a very important part of the relationship that we have with first nations peoples.

In fact, over the last 20 year or more years we have worked with first nations groups to make sure that schools are available often on reserve but, above all, if schools are not available on reserves for the particular grades or groups, that arrangements are made between the first nations and the public school system of the province concerned through a local education agreement. With that, we are able to have good relationships between our Indian bands and the people in the public school systems.

I am a little bit concerned here. The hon. member has brought this twice to the House, last fall and again in January, and with it he seems to use a tone which says that the minister should force somebody to do something.

I would say that is very important, in terms of my own relationships with first nations peoples, that if there is a problem back in his riding, the hon. member should probably speak to the chief and council to see if some arrangements can be made to meet the obligations on both sides.

With regard to the problem in Prince Rupert, we must recognized that there is a difficulty in terms of the understanding of the gentlemen's agreement that was reached when that school was constructed in 1997. In terms of the band and council, they do not necessarily agree with the amount of money that was assessed to the band on the basis of those pupils attending that school.

I know we want to foster and promote good relationships and make sure that good arrangements are made, but the hon. member has already said that progress has been made in Prince Rupert with the district school board. With that I am hoping the hon. member will see progress being made in the weeks ahead and will be able to come back to the House and say to the minister that a successful arrangement was made in terms of the amount which was in dispute, hopefully, with both parties agreeing to an amount, and that an arrangement was being made to make those obligations to the district school board.

We are hoping for an arrangement. I hope the hon. member will give time to both groups and that the arrangement will be satisfactory to both parties.

Antipoverty ActAdjournment Proceedings

6:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Andy Burton Canadian Alliance Skeena, BC

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the response but what I am trying to point out to the minister is that this goes far beyond any one situation. I think that is really the problem.

The initial situation is being resolved. I have spoken to the chief and the school board and we hope it will be resolved. My point is that I think there are some accountability issues here on the minister's part. He needs to be aware of these things. It is a problem across Canada. It is not localized. It is a huge issue.

Under the provincial school act, the school districts must provide the service. They must educate first nations people whether they are paid for it or not. Does the minister not agree that by abdicating his responsibility to ensure that funds transferred to a band be used for the express purpose for which they were transferred? I think that is the crux of the matter. What this is doing is putting a further burden on the taxpayers.

Antipoverty ActAdjournment Proceedings

6:55 p.m.


Charles Hubbard Liberal Miramichi, NB

Madam Speaker, we would like to admit that we in the department are aware of the problems in terms of moneys being paid to local and provincial school systems.

I want to say to the House tonight that we have never had an Indian band yet that did not meet its financial obligations. I know we do have certain situations where there are problem in terms of management and control. However we do have before the House Bill C-7, which talks about governance. It talks about assisting and working with first nations peoples to see that they meet their obligations.

I can assure the hon. member that certainly in the long run our Indian bands have not only met their obligations, but in terms of the province of British Columbia, interest is being added to those bills. In most cases, when satisfactory arrangements are completed, the obligations to our first nations peoples are met with the various people with whom they do business.

I hope all this will improve and we will see better education and more first nations people being well educated in their own schools and in the schools of our nation.

Antipoverty ActAdjournment Proceedings

6:55 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

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 6:56 p.m.)