House of Commons Hansard #59 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was seniors.


Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11:40 a.m.


Monte Solberg Conservative Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, I want to say to my friend that he is completely and absolutely wrong. He is misrepresenting the facts. In our platform, we said that we would preserve guaranteed income supplements, old age security and the Canada pension plan. That is exactly what we said.

However, the real issue is that not only have we improved benefits for people on guaranteed income supplements, we have introduced these important changes and brought forward big increases to guaranteed income supplements, 7% over the last two years.

We have improved the take-home pay for seniors in many different ways and improved the new horizons program. We have provided seniors with a seat at the cabinet table, something that no government in recent memory has done.

If the member claims to stand up for seniors then why has he and his party repeatedly voted against every measure that we have brought in to help seniors? What hypocrisy.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11:40 a.m.


Olivia Chow NDP Trinity—Spadina, ON

Mr. Speaker, the front cover of this Conservative budget document supported by the Liberals shows a young child waving a flag and asking for help, saying that we are stranded, that the children of Canada are stranded in Canada on this island with no help from the Conservatives.

There is nothing in this budget on child care. There is no new funding to increase the child tax benefit. There is not a penny of new dollars for affordable housing. If this child on the front cover of this budget document, which is called “Investing for Tomorrow”, is waiting for affordable housing, let us say, in Toronto, who may be from one of the 65,000 households waiting for affordable housing, there is not one new penny in this budget for this child.

Let me tell members that in Toronto as recently as last weekend a native person froze to death on the corner of Bay and Bloor. There is a huge waiting list for affordable housing. It is a desperate situation, yet this budget has completely left these people behind. I want that minister to explain why he would be putting forth a heartless budget like the one we have in front of us.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11:45 a.m.


Monte Solberg Conservative Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, for the member the Canadian flag may represent a cry for help, but to this government it represents hope. I want to argue that in this budget there is a lot of hope for a lot of people.

Not only are we continuing to be prudent and make sure that we lower taxes so we continue to be a prosperous nation, so we are insulated from some of the troubles in the world, and so we pay down debt and do responsible things like that, we are investing strategically. Today this government invests more in affordable housing than any government in history. We invest more in training than any government in history. By the way, I would point out that when we did increase spending for affordable housing, that member and her party voted against it.

However, one of the most important things that we put in this budget is $110 million for the Mental Health Commission, which the head of the Mental Health Commission points out will help Canada “lead the world” when it comes to addressing issues like addictions, homelessness and poverty. We are proud of that initiative.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11:45 a.m.

Provencher Manitoba


Vic Toews ConservativePresident of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to support the budget delivered by my colleague, the Minister of Finance, on February 26. I believe this budget demonstrates responsible leadership from a government that continues to be vigilant and smart about how it spends the taxpayers' money.

Across the government, my ministerial colleagues are working hard to deliver programs to meet the needs of Canadians effectively and efficiently. My job as President of the Treasury Board is to strive for excellence across the government in the way programs, operations, and spending are managed.

As part of this effort, we announced our new expenditure management system in budget 2007. In budget 2008 we announced some of these results. In this initial year of strategic reviews, 17 organizations of government participated and assessed their program spending to ensure that it is aligned with the priorities of Canadians and delivers value for money.

We examined departmental spending amounting to $13.6 billion, or 15% of total direct program spending, and that was essentially in the half-year from June to December of 2007. As a result, these departments have identified savings totalling some $386 million per year.

This means that we are reallocating from within to fund new initiatives, both inside departments and for the broader priorities of the budget. This is how the new system is ensuring that all federal programs are effective and efficient, provide value for money and are aligned with the priorities of Canadians and federal responsibilities.

With this new system, we are transforming how we manage tax dollars.

Over the last number of years, there has been a huge increase in the government's discretionary program spending, but no appropriate way to ensure that what was being spent was giving taxpayers full value for their money. This spending grew from $63 billion in 2000-2001 to $83 billion in 2004-2005. That is a 33% increase overall, equal to an ongoing increase of $2,200 a year for a family of four.

A renewal of the existing system was needed to improve decision making, promote excellence in the management of tax dollars and help control the growth of government spending. That is why we introduced this new expenditure management system. This system is built on three pillars.

First is managing for results: we evaluate our programs and demonstrate results for Canadians.

Second is upfront discipline: all new proposals for government spending require clear measures of success and better information about how the new proposals fit among the existing programs.

Third is ongoing assessment: conducting strategic reviews of all direct spending to ensure that the programs funded are efficient, effective and aligned with the priorities of Canadians and with federal responsibilities.

The strategic reviews cover all direct program spending and the operating costs of major statutory programs. With these reviews, all government spending will go through a systematic and rigorous examination on a four year cycle. This is not an ad hoc exercise but a new way of doing business, so that over a four year cycle all existing spending in our organizations is subject to an in-depth assessment.

Now, for the first time, and I cannot stress that often enough, the Government of Canada is in a position to decide on new proposals by taking into account the broader picture of other existing spending in the same area. That was the difficulty about bringing in new programs earlier: one did not know what money was being spent on related programs or indeed what related programs were accomplishing. This is a major advance over what was done before.

Five years ago, for example, we could not say how many federal programs we had for aboriginal people. In fact, two years ago, it took us seven months to actually count up the number of programs serving aboriginal people. For members' information, we have 360 programs in that respect.

Now, with this new approach, when a new program proposal goes to cabinet for consideration, ministers will have access to better results and performance information for existing programs and will know the full extent of the associated costs of those programs.

Cabinet is then able to determine how the newly proposed program and associated funding will fit within the existing program and funding framework. It can then decide if the new program is required, based on how it will deliver on the priorities of Canadians.

Included with the new program proposal are measures of success. These measures enable the program to be evaluated to determine if it is producing results and in fact providing good value to Canadians. This new system ensures that we can help Canadians meet their evolving needs effectively and efficiently.

It has the effect of ensuring that every tax dollar Canadians send to Ottawa is spent on high-priority and high-performing programs. With these improvements, Canadians now have better information to hold the government to account for the management of these tax dollars.

This is simply good management. It is really no different from what Canadian families do when they make sure that as a family they are spending money efficiently, meeting their own shifting priorities within their household, keeping their finances on track and, of course, living within their means. It is also providing more tangible evidence that business is being done differently in Ottawa.

By reducing spending on ineffective or inefficient programs and stopping programs that do not work, our government is ensuring that taxpayers' money is being spent where it performs best. In this way, we are aligning resources with priorities and helping to control the overall growth of spending.

This government will not waste taxpayers' hard-earned money. We want to spend it effectively and efficiently on programs that provide value and results to Canadians. Unlike the New Democrats and the Liberals, I actually believe that giving Canadians back their money, which they have paid to government, is not a waste of money, and that in fact allowing ordinary hard-working Canadians to keep more money in their pockets is one of the best ways that we can spend money.

The government has made tremendous progress in moving to a more disciplined approach to managing tax dollars to meet the priorities of Canadians so that we can meet essential social needs as well as keep more money in Canadians' pockets. Ongoing strategic reviews are a part of this approach.

That is what responsible leadership is all about. It is about making better spending decisions. It is about making tax dollars deliver results. It is about keeping the average rate of growth in government spending below the rate of growth in the economy.

This, I would submit, is responsible leadership. It is good management. It is important. It is good government. This is now the norm for how things get done in Ottawa.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11:55 a.m.

Edmonton Centre Alberta


Laurie Hawn ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I appreciated the remarks of my hon. colleague. He mentioned giving Canadians taxpayers back their money. Could he comment on the importance of the combination of paying down the national debt and turning those savings into giving Canadians their money back through taxes?

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11:55 a.m.


Vic Toews Conservative Provencher, MB

Mr. Speaker, I cannot emphasize how important it is to pay down the debt and give Canadians their money back. Many Canadians do not realize what it means in terms of money that was saved on an ongoing basis when we paid down that first $13 billion or so of debt. I cannot remember the exact amount of money we paid down on the debt, but we saved approximately $1 billion in interest costs. That was over the course of one year, and it will go on for every year in perpetuity.

When we pay down $30 billion, $40 billion, $50 billion, look at the interest we are saving. That money is permanently in the hands of the people and not in the hands of those who lend money to government. The people can now determine how we spend our money.

The Liberals and the New Democrats want to drive us into spending more money and ignoring the debt. I remember the conversation that went on many years ago when some of the trade unions asked Bob Rae to declare Ontario bankrupt. They did not understand the long term implications that would have on our children and grandchildren.

Paying down debt and living responsibly within our means ensures that our children will have a chance to voice their opinions and make them count, not simply the voice of the banks or the large lenders, but the ordinary person. When we pay down debt, we empower ordinary people.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11:55 a.m.


Brian Murphy Liberal Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Mr. Speaker, I am glad the hon. minister mentioned the name Bob Rae in his speech because in a couple of weeks he will have to refer to that person as the member for Toronto Centre.

I point out that it was the current Minister of Finance who left Ontario nearly broke and bankrupt. However, I want to centre on the minister's speech and the lack of mention of two huge gaps.

He represents an area with a significant francophone population, but there is no mention of new money for the Official Languages Act roll out.

The minister may consider Manitoba to be the centre of Canada, but I do not. What possesses him to be in a government that mentions nothing about regional economic development? In my region, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, headquartered in Moncton, New Brunswick, received not a mention in a very voluminous budget document.

Why are these two things missing from the budget? If his response is that the Liberals are afraid to bring the government down, he should be sure that we will pick our time. The time is nigh. What will the minister say to the Canadian public about those two important missing elements from the budget of which he is so proud?

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11:55 a.m.


Vic Toews Conservative Provencher, MB

Mr. Speaker, the member forgets is it was a prior Conservative government, before all the Liberal governments, that enhanced educational funding for francophone schools in Manitoba. Liberals then tried to take credit, but it was a Conservative platform to ensure that francophones, as a minority language group in Manitoba and other areas across Canada, were well represented.

I am proud of the Prime Minister and his strength in standing up for minority language rights across the country. This is not an issue that is simply in one area or the other. The Liberals are always looking at the polls and looking for the votes. Our Prime Minister stands on principle and one of his principles is to defend minority language rights.

As an MP who represents perhaps the largest francophone population in western Canada, second perhaps only to Saint Boniface, and that may well be changing, I am very proud to represent francophone Manitobans.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders



John Maloney Liberal Welland, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak to the Conservative 2008 budget. I will be sharing my time with the member for Sydney—Victoria.

The sad reality is the budget will likely be one of the least memorable in recent federal history. Its most glitzy tax cutting measure was the $5,000 a year savings account with interest accruing tax free. Over time, it may assist some wealthy seniors in meeting their ongoing savings needs, particularly after age 71 when they are required to begin drawing down their RRSPs. However, it is still a pale response to the income trust debacle.

The savings account will be of no assistance to low and middle income earners, including many young families and seniors who cannot afford the luxury of savings. The amount of interest earned at today's rates will be pennies in any event. On the other hand, with a slowing economy, additional spending by Canadians would help to stimulate the economy. This is a short-sighted program for our current economic conditions.

Speaking in general terms, the budget is a hodgepodge of very low dollar spending initiatives, with no apparent theme or direction: 58 spending initiatives in total with 55 of these being less than the cost of a federal election.

In 2006 the Conservatives inherited the largest surplus and the best economy in Canadian history. Now after two years and a few budgets and economic updates, they have spent it all and moved the country, once again, to the brink of deficit spending. The Conservatives must like living on the edge, as the country returns to Mulroney economics, something that the Liberals will never do when we return to government.

The story in the budget, however, is what is not mentioned. Let us talk about the crisis in manufacturing.

Canada's economy is hurting badly. Ontario's is hurting worse and Niagara's economy is worse yet. A St. Catharines-Thorold Chamber of Commerce report on manufacturing in Niagara notes that currently manufacturing accounts for 14% of Niagara's economy, down from 29% over the past two decades. Niagara's overall employment growth has been less than 1% since 2000. This average places Niagara near the bottom of the province in statistics related to full time employment rates and employment income levels in the province.

What does the Minister of Finance do? He tells all the world that Ontario is the last place in which business would invest. In public comments made earlier this week, the Minister of Finance claimed Ontario's manufacturing industry was suffering because the province faced the highest corporate tax rates in Canada. However, the minister's claim is nothing but a distortion of reality. Only four provinces have lower corporate tax rates than Ontario for manufacturers and processors. In terms of attracting new investment, the nearest competing U.S. states, including Michigan and New York, face corporate tax rates 12% higher than Ontario's and Ontario continues to lower the tax rates.

The budget's paltry support for the manufacturing sector has prompted the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters, in frustration, to explain that it has received only recycled ideas and pocket change at a critical time when it needs tangible solutions. Out of a $6 billion budget, manufacturing received $150 million.

In my region health care remains one of the major areas of concern. Physicians lobbying on Parliament Hill today will tell us that there are five million Canadians without a family doctor, that England has twice as many physicians per capita than we do, that we have over 4,000 medical students training outside our country because there are insufficient spaces in our medical schools and most of these will not come home to work, that we have foreign trained doctors within Canada who need assistance meeting our standards and that we have an aging doctor population leaning toward retirement. It is urgent that we address this. Our emergency room crisis, patient wait times and physician health care work shortages are all crying out for help. Sadly, there is none. Sadly, no one is listening.

There is nothing in the budget to address poverty and homelessness. A poverty report prepared by the region of Niagara stated that approximately one-third of visits to food banks in the Niagara region were made by children. In 2005 just over 4,000 households utilized 13 food banks across the Niagara region, and the situation continues to decline.

The Regional Municipality of Niagara owns or manages over 5,500 housing units that are subsidized, of which 2,200 are occupied by families whose average family income is $15,680. The poverty line for a family of four in the Niagara region is $27,500. The need for housing assistance is very high within Niagara. There were 4,000 households on the waiting list in June of 2006. The number of rental units has simply not kept pace with demand.

The huge negative impact of poverty and homelessness in my riding has been left to flounder and fester. The budget's silence was deafening. Nothing for the less fortunate in our society. Perhaps government members should visit a hostel, soup kitchen or food bank and look directly into the eyes and faces of those who cannot fend for themselves, for whatever reason. In the region of Niagara there is an urgent demand for homeless spaces. These figures are compounded across the country and the totals are staggering.

Surely the measure of our worth is diminished when we fail to take initiatives to help. Community-minded volunteer organizations, donors and churches are struggling under a terrible burden, but the government walks by, completely oblivious to the pain and suffering.

What have the Conservatives accomplished during their time? They have accomplished very little. They continue to spend while eroding the tax base. With economists across the country warning that cuts to the GST would be the worst tax cuts to consider, the Conservatives blundered ahead to reduce the GST by two percentage points, all for the sake of what they felt was politically astute for their party, not what was economically good for Canadians and the country.

As the party that introduced the GST, perhaps the Conservatives felt guilty. They have a lot to feel guilty about, but such poor tax cuts are not the way to redemption.

The Conservative child care program has not produced any new child care spaces that young couples and single parents so desperately need. The reality is it was simply a baby bonus program with no vision, no direction and no spaces. Young mothers and fathers were most appreciative of the money until they filed their income tax returns last spring and began to realize the Conservative child care program was all smoke and mirrors. This wonderful $100 a month per child is taxable. They are not pleased that they have been duped once again.

The Prime Minister has become the largest spending prime minister in Canadian history, and now the cupboard is bare. What did Canadians really get for it? Are they really better off? Canadians will send a resounding no in the next election.

As our biggest trading partner, the United States, continues to spiral into recession, our economy, so connected with them, continues to be pulled down. There is also the economic uncertainty of a high Canadian dollar and a retiring skilled workforce. Our country is heading into the perfect storm at a time when no one in the Conservative government is at the helm. Any shock to revenue or any unanticipated spending initiative will put Canada back into deficit.

What has the government done to prepare the country for a possible economic downturn? It has done simply nothing. Are we surprised? We should not be. The finance minister drove the province of Ontario into deficit, all the while claiming a balanced budget as his Conservative government headed into a provincial election. The smile of the victorious McGuinty government soon turned sour when independent auditors discovered a huge deficit. So much for openness, transparency and accountability.

Canadians are very concerned that Conservatives have a projected surplus of $2.3 billion for this year and $1.3 billion for next year, which is well below the $3 billion contingency fund that Liberals consider the bare minimum to cushion against unanticipated economic shocks. It has been said that our country is one SARS crisis away from a deficit, and this is if one believes the Conservative projections are accurate. The finance minister's prior track record of misrepresentation makes me and the entire country uncomfortable.

Moreover, the Conservative government lost an opportunity to address Canada's infrastructure deficit by failing to act on the Liberals' proposal to use $7 billion from this year's surplus to fund infrastructure programs across the country. As municipalities beg for financial assistance to address the compelling infrastructure deficit, as bridges collapse and aging water treatment plants malfunction, the government plods blindly, seemingly oblivious, to the cries from our communities. Let us not forget the positive impact of well-paying construction jobs that infrastructure projects would have provided.

Actually, the Liberal opposition should be flattered that many of the budget initiatives were driven by them.

It was the Liberals who first created the gas tax transfer to municipalities in 2005 and pledged to make it permanent over a year ago.

It was the Liberals who advocated direct support to Canada's ailing auto industry. The Conservatives' $250 million over five years to provide research and development is simply a pittance.

It was the Liberals who committed to desperately needed improvements in public transit. Is a rail line from Peterborough to Toronto through vast tracts of agricultural lands and small hamlets our country's biggest priority? Is there enough potential passenger usage to make it financially viable?

It was the Liberals who committed to funding to have more police across our country.

It was the Liberals who committed to improving cash flow, supporting livestock producers and providing direct payment for hog farmers.

It was the Liberals who advocated reversing the Conservative government's previous cuts to university councils and research programs. It was the Liberals who urged the modernization of the Canada Student Loans Act.

We are pleased the Conservatives are adopting prudent Liberal policies, but the insufficient funding, because of an ill-advised national debt payment, will detract from their effectiveness.

I suggest the budget is a non-event, paying lip service to worthy causes such as the environment, students and crime, but by no means is it a green budget, an education budget or a law and order budget. There is no economic stimulus or poverty initiatives to help Welland riding. There is nothing of great substance. It is simply underwhelming. After two years, the Harper government has exhausted its legislative agenda and has lost its drive.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

12:10 p.m.


The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

The hon. member for Welland knows that we do not name other members of the House.

Questions and comments, the hon. member for Burnaby—New Westminster.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

12:10 p.m.


Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, I always like to hear the member for Welland. He made a very passionate speech about how lousy the budget is for working families.

He had a lot of the same criticisms that the NDP has had about the budget. It essentially gives tons of money to the corporate sector. It does not provide the kinds of supports for working families that are needed. It does not provide a penny for affordable housing, the same way the former Liberal government did. I cannot but agree with his criticisms of the Conservative budget.

Why oh why is the entire Liberal caucus supporting a budget that they have the nerve to stand in the House and condemn? It makes absolutely no sense. How can the leader of the Liberal Party pretend to have the least bit of credibility when members of his caucus are standing in the House and criticizing a budget that they are supporting? It makes absolutely no sense.

It is beyond belief that they think Canadians will be fooled by their speeches when they are supporting the budget. The least they could do is, like the Conservatives, say that corporate tax cuts are the be all and end all and that is all that the federal government should be doing; forget about housing; forget about child care; forget about any support for our manufacturing sector, which has been devastated.

All that is available now basically are burger-flipping jobs and the Conservatives tend to say that we have more jobs. They know that those jobs are part time and temporary and are not family sustaining.

Why do the Liberals not simply say either they are opposed to the budget and they will stand in the House and vote against it, or if they are voting for it, which is what their leader has said, they should just say that all that counts for them are corporate tax cuts. Why do they not just come clean with the Canadian public and say that they do not see any difference between the Liberal Party and the Conservative Party and that is why they are supporting the budget?

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

12:10 p.m.


John Maloney Liberal Welland, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member asked a very interesting question and I think the answer is obvious.

This budget is all smoke and mirrors. It is fluff. As I said, it is a non-event. To really come out and support it is of no consequence. There are more demanding issues in this country than that we go to the polls. We will go to the polls on an issue that is of importance to this country, not a do nothing budget, simply not.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

12:10 p.m.


Brian Murphy Liberal Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Mr. Speaker, is it not humourous that the NDP would pose questions about who supported what when they brought us that B movie over there called the Conservative government.

I would like to ask the very hard-working member from southwestern Ontario, who has very deep concern about the Niagara region and his riding of Welland, what has the government done for his region?

There are issues with respect to the border crossings. There are issues with respect to the economy in southwestern Ontario to which regional ministers are not even responding. I know the member wanted to get to this in his speech, but did not have an opportunity to tell the people of his region just how poorly the government is representing his region.

Would he please answer that question for the House and for the public?

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

12:10 p.m.


John Maloney Liberal Welland, ON

Mr. Speaker, that was a very insightful question.

As I pointed out, the government has done nothing to address poverty and homelessness in our area.

The manufacturing sector in our region is on the decline and there is nothing in the budget to assist it.

The auto sector is very important for my riding, with manufacturing plants and auto parts. There is nothing to help that sector, except $50 million each year over five years. That is a pittance. It is simply not enough to help this major industry that is really driving the Ontario economy, which drives the economy of our country.

My friend mentioned the border. Under the Liberals we had an extensive border infrastructure program. We widened one of the crossings at Lewiston from four lanes to five lanes. We were on the cusp of another bridge being twinned. In advance of that we improved the plaza infrastructure on both the American side and the Canadian side so that the conduit to the United States would not be strangled. We moved forward on these insightful programs.

I found it most interesting too that the NDP criticized us for failing to address some of the programs like child care. It was that party that voted the Liberal government down in a non-confidence motion. We would have had such programs as child care had the NDP not voted us out of office.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

12:15 p.m.


Mark Eyking Liberal Sydney—Victoria, NS

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to have this opportunity to stand and speak about this year's budget.

There could have been a lot more big initiatives in this budget, but the government has left the cupboard bare. The federal government has no money and no power to help fund health, education and infrastructure. I fear that the government has done more damage to the federation with its budgets than it ever could have done by reopening the Constitution.

My riding has serious challenges that have to be addressed. The government has put $10 billion on the debt, which is $10 billion that would not have been there, were it not for the 10 good years of solid Liberal fiscal management.

It is a good thing to pay down the debt, but it seems to be a waste when we look at the infrastructure deficit in this country. Canada has the lowest debt to GDP ratio in the G-8. Does it make sense to pay down so much of the debt given the challenges that we face on infrastructure? In my riding alone, the government could spend a billion dollars on infrastructure and probably the job still would not be done.

For example, the CBRM, the Cape Breton Regional Municipality is the largest municipality in my riding. The CBRM is in debt to the tune of $90 million. How is the CBRM going to pay for its infrastructure? At the same time, there are new national guidelines which will require secondary sewage treatment in the next decade. Without federal and provincial help, the municipality will never be able to afford the infrastructure. The council and the mayor are not spending money on frivolous projects. The money is being spent on basic sewage, water and roads, but they are only scratching the surface.

The Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment is planning a new national standard for municipal waste water treatment. Once it is implemented, it will require secondary level treatment of all sewage being discharged into rivers, lakes and oceans. This will happen as early as the next decade.

Recently I met with a group of citizens from the New Waterford and Lingan area who were very concerned and upset because of the inadequacy of their sewage treatment plant. Sewage is running into the drains. They want something done. Those people pay their taxes. Also at the meeting was the CBRM's engineer who really wants the project completed, especially with the new guidelines that are coming up. However, there is not enough money coming from the federal government to help with this much needed infrastructure. Everyone has to wait. What will happen when the new guidelines are implemented? The CBRM will be caught in a big bind.

The municipality will not be able to plan for the future. Certain projects should be done every year in order to meet the guidelines. The guidelines are important in this day and age; we have a rich country and Canadians should have safe sewage and drinking water standards.

The CBRM has to comply with the new standards. It could cost $400 million for the sewage and water projects that must be completed. How will the municipality come up with the money to pay for these projects?

Another municipality in my riding, Victoria County, faces challenges. Victoria County is large and encompasses the Cape Breton Highlands National Park. There is also Pleasant Bay. It is the whole region on the northern part of Cape Breton, which has a small population. It will be very difficult to service some of the needs of this region.

The north side of my riding is badly in need of a new rink. Leo Steele and the North Sydney rink committee are doing a great job. They have raised over a million dollars from volunteers and have commitments from the business sector and local community members. The CBRM has also done its best to put a million dollars on the table. As many in this House know, a basic rink cannot be built for under $10 million these days. More money is needed for infrastructure.

Recreation facilities right across my riding, and right across Nova Scotia and the country are in desperate need. Many of these were built in the 1970s and the condition they are in now, whether they be refrigeration equipment, bathroom facilities or the structures themselves, some need to be repaired and others need to be replaced. There has to be an infusion of money to help these recreation facilities.

The only bright side I see about infrastructure for municipalities in the budget is the gas tax transfer payment. Again, that was a Liberal initiative. The member for LaSalle—Émard announced it in Sydney a few years ago. It was greatly received not only by the province but also by the municipalities. I guess I have to say that the Conservatives did one good thing in this budget, which is to continue on with the Liberal initiative to leave the gas tax with the municipalities where it is greatly needed, but one wonders why the government has no new ideas of its own to deal with infrastructure or recreation.

Let me talk about roads. The roads in my riding are deplorable. During the break a few weeks ago I visited rural areas. I started in Pleasant Bay and travelled to Cape North, Ingonish, New Haven and Neils Harbour. Everywhere I went, the roads were in deplorable condition.

One might say that roads are a provincial issue, but they are not really, because the national park system is in much of my riding. Many of the residents of small fishing and tourist communities have to travel through the park system and the road are in much need of repair. Again, many of the roads were built in the 1970s and have to be fixed.

On my tour when I travelled the rural areas, including Iona and Middle River, the issues that need attention in those areas are roads and water. There is a new water line going in to Iona but it is not going far enough. The railroad is causing a problem. As we can see, the rural areas need a lot of help.

Many in the House will recognize the village of Baddeck. This year Baddeck is celebrating its 100th anniversary. One hundred years ago the village was created and there will be some celebrations, but next year is going to be a very important year for the community of Baddeck. It will be the 100th anniversary of the flying of the Silver Dart by Alexander Graham Bell. It was done on a cold February day on the ice of Baddeck Bay 100 years ago. It was the first flight in all the Commonwealth. It is going to be a big event next year that will be held in Baddeck and all over Cape Breton.

It is not going to be just a Cape Breton celebration. It is going to be a Canadian celebration of the great inventor Alexander Graham Bell, who lived at Beinn Bhreagh and did much work not only for the deaf and hearing impaired but for the aviation industry. There is going to be a big do next year. It is going to kick off in February. There will be special events and will close off with the Celtic Colours, which is a big musical festival in my riding. People will come from all over the world.

My point is there is an ask in to the government to help the communities out with some infrastructure and facilities, but they have not seen anything yet and this could have been in the budget.

The city of Sydney is the largest community in my riding and it has some great economic opportunities. It used to be one of the busiest ports on the east coast with steel and coal. In World War II it was very busy. Right now it has big potential. There are cruise ships coming in. Coal is going to be hauled from Donkin. However, the port needs to be dredged. That is another thing.

Marine Atlantic is on the north side and the ferries go to Newfoundland. It was announced in the budget that it will get $17 million, which sounds like a lot, but it is chartering a new ferry. It is not building a new ferry like we had in our plans. We also need new facilities there.

Also, there have been hardly any announcements in the last while from Enterprise Cape Breton, which is an offshoot of ACOA. We are very concerned about Enterprise Cape Breton because it is under review, especially when there has been a cut to the ACOA budget. We are wondering where the government is going on that.

In closing, as we can see, this budget is missing many major initiatives that could be done in Cape Breton and right across the country. The government needs to step up to the plate and get it done.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.


Anthony Rota Liberal Nipissing—Timiskaming, ON

Mr. Speaker, what I liked most about the hon. member's speech is that when he spoke it came from the heart and it came from some experience he had already. When I listened to him, it could come to light because I come from a rural area much the same as the hon. member and I see what is going on in the municipalities.

I was also a former municipal councillor and I see the shortages. The average age of infrastructure across Canada ranges anywhere between 80 and 115 years. Communities and cities are the basic building blocks for the Canadian economy. Without that infrastructure in place, the communities fall apart. If the communities fall apart, then the economy starts to tremble and it starts falling apart. We need that infrastructure in place and it has to be renewed. I know we can argue about whether it is provincial responsibility or it is federal responsibility but when it comes down to it, it affects all of us and all of us have a stake in this.

Maybe the hon. member could explain how ignoring the infrastructure will affect not only the economy in his riding but also the economy of all of Canada.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.


Mark Eyking Liberal Sydney—Victoria, NS

Mr. Speaker, that is a very good question from the hon. member for Nipissing—Timiskaming who is also our national caucus chair.

When we talk about the Cabot Trail, it is one of the icons of Canada. It was also voted in many magazines as one of the best destinations on Cape Breton Island to go to.

Now when the infrastructure is collapsing in this region, what happens? People do not travel. Tourists do not come. When they get disappointed about coming, they email back to other friends that this is a hard place to get to and that the roads are bad. It has a reflection on all Canada when a riding that has the Cabot Trail in it has infrastructure that is falling apart. In the summertime there are millions of tourists from all over the world visiting all these rural areas of the country. Most people visit to see our wildlife. What happens when they get on some of the roads and see some of the infrastructure? We need more infusion into our parks because when people go through our parks they need to have a good experience. They cannot see the scenery and watch the wildlife when their vehicles are going all over the place.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.


Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, we have had another impassioned speech from the member for Sydney—Victoria, another Liberal member, against the Conservative budget in the same way that the member for Welland gave an impassioned speech against the budget, but they are missing the final sentence, which I think would help clarify things for Canadians.

The final sentence is: I said all these things against the Conservative budget because it is a bad budget but I am voting for it. That is the important missing element from Liberal members of Parliament who are speaking against the budget in the House but neglecting to tell Canadians and their constituents that they are voting for it, that they are supporting this budget and propping up the government.

Most Canadians see that wrong direction as a complete absence of concern for working Canadian families. The budget does not have a cent for housing. Nothing in it actually affects Canadians' quality of life in a positive way. It just has a lot more corporate tax cuts. The government is a one-note government. The Liberals have some very legitimate criticisms but they are voting for it.

If the Liberals do not like the budget why do they not vote against it?

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

12:30 p.m.


Mark Eyking Liberal Sydney—Victoria, NS

Mr. Speaker, the rhetoric from the NDP is continuously coming. We have one member there and then I think they just get into lines so they can continue to go.

It is comical because it was the NDP that propped up the Conservatives to put them in power. We had all these initiatives, such as Kelowna and child care, but what happened? The NDP members put the Conservatives in power and now, all of a sudden, they want us to do the job of getting them out. It is just mind-boggling how they operate. They try to play this one off on each other.

The NDP members had the chance to stand up for some good initiatives when we were in power and now they are standing all mighty up here and saying that we are supposed to bring those guys down. We cannot flip-flop with every idea the NDP has every time we bring in the government.

I think he should give somebody else a chance to ask some kind of new question in this House so we can have a little more entertainment here.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

12:30 p.m.


Rick Dykstra Conservative St. Catharines, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to have the opportunity to speak to the budget this afternoon and honoured to be splitting my time with the hon. member for Oshawa who is the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry and who has done an outstanding job on behalf of not only his community but the auto sector and certainly industry across the country.

It is an honour to rise today in my place and speak in favour of budget 2008. This is a budget that delivers support for individuals, families, small businesses and large corporate employers. This is a budget that invests in Canada's physical capital and it is a budget that invests in Canada's human capital.

This budget, in particular, is one that speaks to the needs of my constituents in St. Catharines, a community where thousands of jobs depend on maintaining a strong and vibrant manufacturing sector, a community where thousands and more depend on trade and tourists to continue to flow across a safe and secure border and a community where thousands of students of Brock University need to work hard every day to ensure their tuition bills get paid. For my community, budget 2008 gets the job done.

We know that certain economic forces outside of our control mean that there will be challenges ahead but with this budget we have shown that we are ready.

In budget 2008, our government has laid out a strategic plan, with targeted investments in specific sectors, to ensure that our economy remains stable and that the next generation will have the skills it needs to compete in the new global economy.

I will speak to that strategy. Beginning in 2009, every Canadian over the age of 18 will be eligible to deposit up to $5,000 per year in a tax-free savings account. The money deposited will not be exempt from tax but all capital gains and investment income on those sheltered funds will be. Withdrawals can be made at any time and they will not be taxed. Unused contribution room can be rolled over and the contribution limits will be indexed to inflation. Income earned within and withdrawals made from a TFSA will not result in the clawing back of any means tested federal benefits.

Finance Canada estimates that in combination with existing registered plans, the TFSA will eventually allow over 90% of Canadians to hold all of their assets in tax efficient saving vehicles.

All good economists know that incentives matter. This proposal gives Canadians a strong incentive to save, which will help keep our economy strong.

It is important for individual Canadians to be financially responsible but it is just as important for the government to do it as well.

That is why I am proud to be part of a government that as of budget 2008 will have reduced the national debt by $13.8 billion by 2009-10. By 2012-13, total debt reduction by this government since coming into office will be in excess of $50 billion. As I am sure Canadians know, thanks to the tax back guarantee, those reductions mean $2 billion in annual interest savings by 2009-10 which will be dedicated to ongoing personal income tax reductions.

As I said earlier, this is a prudent Conservative budget with specific limited investments in targeted areas. One of those priority areas is infrastructure. Cities, like St. Catharines, need help to maintain and upgrade their physical capital. That is why I am glad to see that budget 2008 is making permanent the gas tax fund worth $2 billion in 2009-10. That means on a yearly basis for a riding like mine close to $2 million in yearly investment.

I am glad to see that budget 2008 sets aside money for public transit infrastructure. St. Catharines has already benefited from this government's commitment to infrastructure. Just last month I was honoured to announce that we received over $1.7 million to improve water mains in the city of St. Catharines. It was money that was greatly needed and the improvements will be truly appreciated.

As I mentioned, St. Catharines is also very dependent on our manufacturing sector, which is why budget 2008 is great news for our city. It extends the accelerated capital cost allowance treatment for investment in machinery and equipment for three years, with a 50% straight line accelerated CCA treatment then provided on a declining basis over a two year period following.

Then there is the additional $1 billion in support for Canada's manufacturing industrial sector that will go into the community development trust established just this past winter. Ontario received upwards of $350 million of that funding. In combination, this is a tremendous shot in the arm for an industry hard hit by the international economic climate.

One of the largest employers in my community is General Motors so it is great to see that there is support specifically targeted for the auto sector and auto makers.

First, the budget allocates $34 million per year for new research to the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council targeted to the needs of key industries like the auto sector. Then there is the outstanding news that we are establishing an automotive innovation fund that will receive $250 million over five years to support strategic, large scale research and development projects by automotive and parts manufacturers in developing greener, more fuel efficient vehicles. It is good news for the environment, it is good news for the economy and, most of all, it is good news for St. Catharines.

There was good news for students at Brock University and Niagara College. As the Millennium Scholarship Foundation winds down, we will provide $350 million for a Canada student grant program in 2009-10, growing to $430 million in 2012-13. Thanks to this reform of federal student support, we will now reach an additional 100,000 students from low and middle income families than we have been able to help under the current system.

Parents will be happy to hear that budget 2008 proposes to enhance the flexibility of RESPs by raising the maximum time limits that an RESP may remain open from 25 to 35 years and by extending the maximum contribution period by 10 years. In combination, those measures help make it possible for all Canadians to get the tools they need for our 21st century economy.

The budget also has a number of measures for families. It provides support for the Mental Health Commission of Canada to help develop best practices to aid Canadians facing mental health and homelessness challenges.

It provides support for Canada's food and consumer safety action plan will help prevent lead from showing up in children's toys. There is an expansion of the list of eligible expenses under the medical expense tax credit, including service dogs and training to help individuals cope with disabilities or disorders such as autism.

My riding has over 23,000 seniors who are active and involved in the political process. I know they will be happy to hear about the results delivered in budget 2008.

Like I said, good economic policy is all about incentives, which is why we are increasing from $500 to $3,500 the guaranteed income supplement exemption for earned income. In other words, we are ensuring that lower income seniors who want to stay in the workforce are not facing government disincentives if they make that choice.

In the same vein, we are extending to 2012 the targeted initiative for older workers to help even more older workers who want to stay in the workforce.

For seniors facing the risk of elder abuse, budget 2008 provides over $13 million over three years to help seniors and others recognize the signs and symptoms of this terrible phenomenon.

To recognize the debt of honour we owe Canadians and our veterans, budget 2008 expands the veterans independence program to support the survivors of veterans. It is the right thing to do.

Finally, I mentioned that my community needs trade and tourism to keep flowing over a safe and secure border and budget 2008 makes that possible. We will be investing over $15 million in Niagara over two years to establish a permanent facility to enhance the security of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway region.

People right across the country will be glad to see that budget 2008 commits to introducing a higher security electronic passport by 2011 and doubling the validity period to 10 years when this passport is launched.

This a good budget. It shows an awareness of the challenges we face and sets our country on a prudent, responsible course that will see us through to a prosperous future. I eagerly await its passage and look forward to seeing its benefits at home in St. Catharines and right across our great country.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

12:40 p.m.


Mario Silva Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, I compliment my colleague for his remarks, but at the same time I am confused about the fact that there was very little in his remarks about the fact that the Canadian Federation of Municipalities had stated that there was about $123 billion of infrastructure needs across this country.

I am a former Toronto city councillor. The city of Toronto is clearly experiencing pressures associated with the realities in regard to roads, buildings, bridges, schools, recreational facilities, sewage systems, inter-city transit, and the list goes on.

The mayor of the city of Toronto, David Miller, wrote to this particular Minister of Finance on February 13, 2008 about the need for a partnership with our cities. He talked about Toronto's pre-budget submission which included a call for a national transit strategy and an action plan on homelessness. What we have seen from this government, it has not delivered in this budget.

Maybe my colleague could comment, not just about Toronto's needs but really the infrastructure needs of cities because that is missing in this budget.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

12:40 p.m.


Rick Dykstra Conservative St. Catharines, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the compliment from the member in regard to the speech and I am certainly happy to clarify.

He asked about infrastructure. We have provided over $33 billion in the 2006, 2007 and 2008 budgets. When we put together the building Canada fund, and if all of the provinces, territories and municipalities partner with us, that will bring us to $100 billion. We have told municipalities, “The gas tax is yours. Do not ever worry about having that taken away. It is staying right where it is”. That allows municipalities to plan long term.

In this 2008 budget alone, we have provided $500 million for public transit. In the 2006 and 2007 budgets, there were huge investments in affordable housing. We are investing in infrastructure.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

12:40 p.m.


Ron Cannan Conservative Kelowna—Lake Country, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for St. Catharines for the great work he is doing on the finance committee and for his presentation to us this afternoon. I also wanted to thank the hon. Liberal colleague who mentioned Kelowna. I have the great privilege of representing the constituents of Kelowna—Lake Country and there were some comments about municipal council.

I had nine years of service on local council, as did my colleague from St. Catharines, and I know the importance of investing in infrastructure.

It was the hon. member for Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam who pushed the previous government to get the gas tax in on a sustained basis for local governments. I am really proud to be part of the government that is going to have that long term stable, predictable funding for local governments, so when they go to prepare their budgets each year, they know that the money is there and they can rely on the government for investing in infrastructure, people and knowledge.

I would like to thank my colleague for his comments about the tax-free savings account. Talking about the economy, there is also another issue, the other component in social, cultural and arts perspective, which is the environment. I would ask my colleague to bestow some of his wisdom on this group here as far as what is in the budget and how our government is investing in the environment.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

12:45 p.m.


Rick Dykstra Conservative St. Catharines, ON

Mr. Speaker, one of the priorities that we made in the 2007 budget was to make sure that our ecoenergy policies and programs moved forward. The 2008 budget simply builds on the strength of the ecoenergy programs. We invested over $1.2 billion in the 2007 budget, and another $33 million this year with respect to the carbon issue that we are dealing with as a country.

I might just point out that as a member of the finance committee I had the opportunity to travel across the country and I know that the member for Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, who sits on the committee with me, indicated that he was the only member of the Standing Committee on Finance to travel everywhere across the country, and had actually as a vice-chair, chaired a couple of meetings. He indicated that he was the only member there, as if the government for some reason did not want to be there. He suggested that and I am not sure exactly what he meant by it.

I certainly want to indicate that the member needs to be corrected because I attended every single meeting that this finance committee held across the country. We heard about issues like the environment and infrastructure, and we have responded.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

12:45 p.m.

Oshawa Ontario


Colin Carrie ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure today to speak about the benefits of budget 2008 for my hometown of Oshawa. I want to thank my colleague, the member for St. Catharines, for his excellent speech and his dedication to the auto sector.

For too many years Liberal governments ignored Oshawa, but no more. This Conservative government has delivered again and again for the city of Oshawa, and through budget 2008 that legacy continues.

This is our government's third balanced budget in a row. It builds on our long term economic plan and delivers real results for Oshawa residents. The residents of Oshawa expect their government to be responsible and show strong leadership as the country goes through economic uncertainty.

We are taking the same approach to federal finances as families would with theirs. In times of economic uncertainty, we do not overextend ourselves. We pay down the debt and focus on government spending.

We understand what opposition parties do not. Government surpluses do not belong to us. They belong to hard-working Canadians, like those in Oshawa. We will not make uncosted spending promises like the Leader of the Opposition. Those promises would, without question, plunge Canada back into deficit and run up a bare minimum of $62.5 billion in new debt.

Canadians will not go back to false Liberal promises, and I am overjoyed that over two years ago the residents of Oshawa voted for change and voted for a responsible Conservative government.

Budget 2008 builds on the decisive, pre-emptive action taken in the 2007 fall economic update and during winter 2008 to lower taxes for people and businesses, pay down debt, and provide targeted support to troubled industries.

One of those industries is the automotive sector, an industry that Oshawa depends upon and one that I care deeply about. I am acutely aware of the current challenges facing this critical sector and the unfortunate job losses, which is why this government will continue to deliver real tangible results that address these challenges head on.

It was this Conservative government that had the foresight to act ahead of the curve to protect our manufacturing and auto industries.

We are creating a competitive tax environment through broad-based tax reductions that support job creation, growth and investment in all sectors of the economy, including manufacturing.

Actions taken by the government since 2006 are providing $21 billion in incremental tax relief to Canadians and Canadian businesses this year alone. This is a significant and substantial economic stimulus equivalent to 1.4% of Canada's GDP.

Specifically, the government will provide over $9 billion in tax relief by 2012-13 to the manufacturing sector. We have also responded by extending the temporary capital cost allowance for manufacturers for three additional years on a declining basis, which will assist the sector to restructure and increase investment.

Our plan is taking affect. There were approximately 18,000 new manufacturing jobs created in January and the manufacturing unemployment rate is 5.9% versus the national rate of 6.1%.

Our auto industry is a great source of pride to us in Oshawa and through budget 2008 we will take the needed steps to ensure that it will always remain something of which to be proud.

The actions taken by this government will result in over $1.6 billion in benefits for the automotive sector over this and the next five years. Moreover, the automotive sector will also benefit from over $1 billion in tax relief by 2013.

Once again, our actions are making a difference. In February 2008 General Motors of Canada saw a sales increase of 14% over the same month last year. The year 2008 is already off to a good start.

In order to ensure the auto industry continues to thrive and succeed, the Minister of Industry has recently unveiled our government's auto action plan. This approach is built on four pillars: first, a positive business climate; second, an integrated North American auto sector; third, investing in automotive research and development; and fourth, the creation of a new automotive innovation fund, a $250 million fund to lever large scale private sector R and D and innovation in greener, more fuel efficient vehicles.

This is great news for Oshawa auto workers. The Liberals ignored Oshawa's auto needs and under their watch there were significant plant closures in 2004-05.

The Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers' Association knows we are on the right track. Mark Nantais, president of the CVMA, said on February 29:

The federal government’s attention and focus on one of Canada’s most important sectors of the economy is greatly welcomed and well timed given the challenges currently faced by Canada’s vehicle manufacturers...The government's policy is positive and should assist our industry as it transforms, adapts and strengthens in response to unprecedented global challenges.

We are getting the job done for the auto industry.

I would also like to take some time today to talk about the benefits of this budget to students and hard-working Oshawa families. To date, our government has made nearly 60 tax cuts that will provide almost $200 billion in tax relief over this and the next five years, $140 billion of which will be for individuals.

Our government is establishing a proud legacy of tax relief. We have provided relief in every way that government collects taxes: personal taxes, consumption taxes, business taxes and excise taxes. We are now rounding out our tax relief package by reducing taxes on savings with a new tax-free savings account.

Oshawa residents have told me we need a mechanism that will allow them to save more of their hard-earned money and watch it grow, and this government has delivered. This is the first mechanism of its kind in Canadian history and the most important savings vehicle since the introduction of the RRSP.

Budget 2008 is also delivering for our students. As a father of three children, I strongly believe in investing in tomorrow's leaders. Budget 2008 invests in our youth and will give them the tools they need to succeed. As the Canada millennium scholarship foundation winds down, our government will provide $350 million for the Canada student grant program, growing to $430 million in 2012-13. This funding will reach over 100,000 more students from low and middle income families than the current system.

Budget 2008 is building on initiatives that have already been announced for students. These include education, tuition and textbook credits, public transit credits and an apprenticeship job creation tax credit. We are creating a climate of success for our students and budget 2008 is taking a huge leap forward.

Through budget 2008 we are also protecting those in need in our communities. To date the Conservative government has committed $1.4 billion over three years through three trusts with provinces and territories to help address short term pressures with respect to affordable housing. I have had the privilege of making housing announcements over the past two weeks, one at the Anderson House and the other at Houselink Delaware, and saw firsthand the results of this funding.

We have also committed funding to affordable condominiums in the GTA and to renovate the historic Oshawa hotel. These new units will allow lower income families and individuals in Oshawa to live in safe, quality housing at an affordable cost. We are delivering on a commitment to help those who are homeless and at risk of becoming homeless.

Regrettably, those who are homeless often suffer from mental illness as well. To that end, our government is providing $110 million to the mental health commission to support demonstration projects focused on homeless people who are mentally ill.

In addition, through budget 2008, we are providing $500 million to make further investments in public capital transit infrastructure. This funding will directly benefit the residents of Durham region through the re-establishment of the rail link between the city of Peterborough and Toronto's Union Station, which will flow through the north of Oshawa.

In February, Minister Flaherty also committed $2.5 million to the Durham region for the development of a long term transit plan. This fund--