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House of Commons Hansard #85 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was health.

Topics

Gasoline PricesAdjournment Proceedings

7:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons.

Gasoline PricesAdjournment Proceedings

7:25 p.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Liberal Beauséjour, NB

Mr. Speaker, as I said a few minutes ago, the government is clearly committed to meeting the needs of the handicapped. In the 2005 budget, my colleague, the Minister of Finance, has announced the government's response to the recommendations of the technical advisory committee on tax measures for persons with disabilities. Combined, the various measures in the 2005 budget will increase tax relief for persons with disabilities by $105 million in 2005-06, growing to $120 million in 2009-10.

It is important to note, as I mentioned earlier, the remarkable work of the Minister of National Revenue. This is a man of great compassion, who has a deep awareness of these issues. He is committed, along with his staff, who are doing a remarkable job, and he understands the importance of enforcing the legislation and protecting Canadians in need. I can—

Gasoline PricesAdjournment Proceedings

7:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

The member for Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière.

Gasoline PricesAdjournment Proceedings

7:25 p.m.

Bloc

Odina Desrochers Bloc Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to try to obtain a further response to the question I put on February 25. I had asked the question in response to a reaction by the Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada.

The federation was very disappointed to discover no additional amount for the development of francophone and Acadian communities in the budget announced by the Minister of Finance. In my work on the Standing Committee on Official Languages, we had the pleasure of welcoming Georges Arcs, president of the federation. Even then, he warned the federal government that money should be increased so services could be provided to all the communities outside Quebec.

All we learned since then, in response to questions put in the House and a number of interventions on the official languages committee, is that the Minister of Canadian Heritage announced on April 12 that a protocol had been signed with all the partners, all the provinces, but no time frame was mentioned. A lot of money was mentioned, but that is the way it always is.

What I find deplorable as well is that each time this government announces large amounts of money, there are always signing problems and difficulty meeting the timeframes set—as in the agreement on education. They said it would be signed on March 31. It had to wait until April 12. The minister may have wanted to bring us a little news when she met with the official languages committee.

All of this to say that the government appears to be having difficulty getting this famous official languages plan started, integrating decisions and obtaining specific results.

I asked whether the federal government would give additional amounts over and above the figures that appeared in the budget. At that point, the minister responsible answered that the amount of $750 million announced very publicly by the then minister responsible for official languages, now the Minister of the Environment, would be maintained. And yet we are still not seeing where the money is going.

I would like to know this evening whether the federal government really intends to make new investments for the development of francophone and Acadian communities?

Gasoline PricesAdjournment Proceedings

7:30 p.m.

Saint Boniface Manitoba

Liberal

Raymond Simard LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Deputy Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member opposite for his question. Some people, including the Commissioner of Official Languages, wonder about the ability of the Government of Canada to keep the promises it made in the Action Plan for Official Languages announced on March 12, 2003.

As the Minister responsible for Official Languages already made clear to this House, we are still determined to implement the action plan in its entirety and to achieve the ambitious objectives we have set.

Allow me to refer to this section of the Speech from the Throne of October 5, 2004.

What makes our communities work is our deep commitment to human rights and mutual respect. The Government is committed to these values. It is implementing the Official Languages Action Plan and will continue to promote the vitality of official language minority communities.

The $751 million announced when the action plan was made public two years ago was fully maintained in the last budget. As planned from the start, these investments will increase from year to year until 2007-08.

The mid-point report will be an opportunity to spotlight key accomplishments by the departments concerned by the action plan. For example, in the health sector, the Société santé en français created 17 community health networks throughout the country, thereby contributing to improving services to francophone minority communities. In fact, according to what departmental officials told us just recently in the official languages committee, $108 million of the $119 million earmarked for health was already committed.

In the field of immigration, the steering committee made public on March 30 a summary of initiatives, 2002-2006, to foster immigration to francophone minority communities, entitled, “Towards Building a Canadian Francophonie of Tomorrow”.

As for justice, a pilot project has been set up for the training of bilingual crown prosecutors for Ontario and other provinces, and as well there is an English version of the Quebec Civil Code. What is more, last week the Minister of Canadian Heritage announced that the Government of Canada and CMEC had reached agreement on the essential parameters for the next protocol on minority-language education and second-language instruction. These long-awaited agreements on education are now settled.

Another initiative is forthcoming that will also benefit official language minority communities. In March, the Minister responsible for Official Languages and his colleague, the Minister of State responsible for Human Resources Development, announced $12 million per year over three years for the enabling fund to support the economic development partnership initiative for official language minority communities, known as the RDÉE or Réseau de développement économique et d'employabilité.

Not only will this progress report let parliamentarians, minority communities and all Canadians know what projects have been carried out to implement the action plan, it will also allow us to make any necessary adjustments.

I am sure that this report, which we will be releasing this fall, will show that the government is far from losing its head of steam as far as its official languages action plan is concerned. On the contrary, we are on the right track to fulfilling our commitments and achieving the ambitious objectives we have set for ourselves.

Gasoline PricesAdjournment Proceedings

7:30 p.m.

Bloc

Odina Desrochers Bloc Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am nevertheless baffled by the series of figures my colleague opposite has just provided. I was unable to tell if, in actual fact, there were any new investments for the development of francophone and Acadian communities, as president Georges Arès had asked.

I know that my colleague opposite must defend his government, and once again, he has listed all the well-meaning wishes that will improve everything. I did not get the response that the francophone and Acadian communities are waiting for, not at all.

I am asking him, then, out of all the figures he has quoted, to identify one that provides an answer for these people.

Gasoline PricesAdjournment Proceedings

7:30 p.m.

Liberal

Raymond Simard Liberal Saint Boniface, MB

Mr. Speaker, I believe my colleague opposite is referring to the Canada-communities agreements, something I am quite involved in. This is something I am interested in and passionate about. I am in contact with the FCFA president and his counterparts in Manitoba almost daily.

I am very aware of the minority community demands. I am also aware of the increases they are looking for. You can be sure, and my colleague will certainly confirm it, that I am an ardent supporter of these communities.

I am told negotiations are going well. The Minister of Canadian Heritage indicated again the other day in Manitoba that negotiations with the communities were moving along quite well and I am confident this will be resolved shortly.

Gasoline PricesAdjournment Proceedings

7:35 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

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

(The House adjourned at 7:35 p.m.)