Mr. Speaker, I move that the second report of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans presented on Wednesday, May 31, 2006, be concurred in.
It is indeed a pleasure to stand in the House today and it is a privilege to be here. I want to thank again the people of Cardigan, who so often gave me their support. With that support comes responsibility, and today I hope to fulfill some of that responsibility.
The problem is that in the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans last week we had a presentation by the Small Craft Harbours Branch, which gave us an overview of the funding requirements, harbour authorities and a number of other issues. The program began in 1997, but the harbour authority concept was approved in 1987.
The 1990 decision and the subsequent 1995 report were adopted. That was on core fishing harbours. It was a decision that was putting the funding in the appropriate place. Seven hundred and forty-eight harbours are core fishing harbours in Canada, 165 are non-core fishing harbours and 182 are recreational, some of which are to be divested. One hundred and eight harbours are at the legal stage of divestiture and of course there will be no more costs.
When it comes to the important part, it is the budget of $86.6 million: $8.6 million of this is in salaries; harbour maintenance, which is so important for anyone involved in the fishing industry across this nation, is 82% of that, or $71 million is being allocated to that; and harbour operations and public administration gets $5.5 million. The thing that bothered me when this report was brought to committee was the state of the current budget and that the $86.6 million will be reduced by $20 million next year.
For the situation we have in this country today, with the financial situation, with the surpluses we have, the dollars that are available, it is time to make sure that we put our ports in proper order. That is what I want to see today: that the House support the motion I moved. It is a very important safety issue. It is important to note that the fishers must have a place to tie up their boats. They must have a place to do their work on shore. Also, before a lot of work is done on small craft harbours, it is very important that we do in depth a study of what needs to be done. What we need to know is what the problems are, what needs to be done and where the dollars need to be spent.
That is why last Thursday in committee I moved that we not cut it by $20 million but that in fact we increase the budget by a measly $15 million, which is a very small amount and is only covering the cost of doing business.
In my riding in particular, which I know better than any other riding, when I was elected in 1988 the wharves were in a very poor condition--