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House of Commons Hansard #32 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was money.

Topics

Opposition Motion—Vote 35 in Main Estimates 2009-2010Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, I think the issue with AIG is that Canadians, because they have been paying attention to what is happening in the States, do not want to see that kind of thing happen in Canada. Earlier in my speech I talked about the new horizons program and the fact that all but one of those announcements have been in Conservative ridings.

Canadians in this particularly difficult economic time want to see a fair, just, accountable, transparent process. It has to benefit Canadians from coast to coast to coast, not just people who live in Conservative ridings.

Opposition Motion—Vote 35 in Main Estimates 2009-2010Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

Conservative

Chris Warkentin Conservative Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, I stand today to support the special vote that is found in the main estimates known as vote 35.

As we have heard today, vote 35 is a $3 billion appropriation requested by the government for the Treasury Board to provide funding for initiatives set out in the economic action plan starting April 1. This is an extraordinary step taken to provide funding for departments that have projects that are ready to go right now. Many such initiatives are construction projects, which need to be started at the beginning of the season if Canadians are going to feel the positive effects in this given year.

There has been some confusion among the hon. members on the other side about the role of this $3 billion vote. I would like to shed some light on how this process would work.

Of course, there will always be those who prefer to muddy the waters so that Canadians and their members of Parliament are not clear about what the choices are, but I should think the hon. members opposite would appreciate my efforts in bringing clarity to this particular issue.

There are several challenges that need to be addressed with the economic action plan. These measures need to be dealt with by moneys that are put into place by this measure. One of them is the Budget Implementation Act, which provides funding for some of the economic action plan initiatives.

With this act receiving royal assent on March 12, the most important task at hand for hon. members is the passage of the main estimates. This is necessary to ensure that the measures provided for in the economic action plan, such as building roads and bridges, reducing taxes, supporting Canadians hardest hit by the economic downturn, and helping communities and businesses adjust and grow, will move forward now when they are needed the most.

Anyone who has ever invested money knows that the sooner one puts that money to work, the better it is. It is better to invest sooner, because the returns for that investment start flowing sooner and last longer.

When it comes to investing, time truly is of the essence. That is why we need vote 35 in the main estimates. It provides funding for a broad range of economic action plan measures that are not funded through the Budget Implementation Act but need access to money between the dates of April 1 and June 30. These include community recreational infrastructure projects, investments in first nations infrastructure, and investments in aboriginal skills and employment partnerships, just to name a few.

To ensure that departments can start funding these initiatives before this summer, we have requested the authority to make payments on these projects up to $3 billion.

This approach has been applauded by the International Monetary Fund. In a recent report, the IMF said that Canada's immediate focus should be on implementing the budget to mobilize spending.

This vote is necessary because the short time period between tabling the economic action plan on January 27 and the main estimates, which were brought forward on February 26, did not allow enough time for departments and agencies to seek funding for budget initiatives through the main estimates. Vote 35 allows the government to provide initial funding for ready-to-go initiatives until departments and agencies can receive funding through the normal parliamentary supply processes.

This really is bridge financing. It is simply a way of advancing the funding that would otherwise have to wait until supplementary estimates in June or even later.

However, make no mistake, we are accountable for this $3 billion. That is why we will table reports in Parliament on the status of the economic action plan initiatives, three more in this particular year: one in June, one in September, and one in December. The first report has already been tabled in the House.

In addition, the government will report on all allocations for the central vote as is the case for all central votes in subsequent supplementary estimate documents.

Finally, the Auditor General has indicated that she will be reviewing this process as well, and no one wants the Auditor General saying that money was not spent on what it was supposed to be spent.

This government has made accountability and transparency the cornerstones of its mandate and at this point we are not going to change our stripes. Our first piece of legislation was the Federal Accountability Act. Since tabling the economic action plan, we have cut red tape, taken extraordinary and unprecedented actions to ensure critical investments are not delayed--

Opposition Motion—Vote 35 in Main Estimates 2009-2010Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order. I am going to interrupt the hon. member. The chief government whip is rising on a point of order.

Fisheries and OceansCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

5:10 p.m.

Carleton—Mississippi Mills Ontario

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor ConservativeMinister of State and Chief Government Whip

Mr. Speaker, I think if you seek it, you will find unanimous consent for the following motion. I move:

That, in relation to its study of the lobster fishery, 12 members of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans be authorized to travel to the Magdalen Islands, Quebec; Montague, Prince Edward Island; Alma, New Brunswick; and Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, from March 29 to April 2, 2009 and that the necessary staff accompany the Committee.

Fisheries and OceansCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Does the chief government whip have the unanimous consent of the House to move this motion?

Fisheries and OceansCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

5:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Fisheries and OceansCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Fisheries and OceansCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

5:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Fisheries and OceansCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

(Motion agreed to)

The House resumed consideration of the motion.

Opposition Motion--Vote 35 in Main Estimates 2009-10Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

Chris Warkentin Conservative Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, during this process we will not compromise accountability. We believe it is critical to strike the right balance between the rapid delivery of stimulus measures and the appropriate due diligence and transparency. We have established clear conditions for the use of this vote to ensure the appropriate checks and balances are in place.

This fund can only be used for economic action plan initiatives announced in budget 2009, which has been passed by this Parliament. Every initiative funded from this vote requires approval of Treasury Board. Existing policy requirements on accountability and reporting must be met. For example, grants and contribution payments are subject to the transfer payment policy. The use of this vote is time limited as well. Funds can only be allocated between the dates of April 1 and June 30, 2009.

This economic crisis is an example of why government needs the ability to quickly and prudently respond to events that we see developing. Today because of the government's drive for more efficient and effective management within the public service, departments are better equipped than ever before to manage this process.

Over the past three years we have improved financial management standards across government. Departments now have independent internal audit committees that include members from outside the government. There are chief financial officers in every department. In addition, under the management accountability framework, the state of financial management and control within departments is assessed annually by the Treasury Board Secretariat.

Based on these assessments, large departments and agencies representing more than 90% of government spending have improved in areas of financial management and controls. Recent financial management and control indicators rated “acceptable” and “strong” are now up to 90% from 59% in the 2006-07 fiscal year. This government believes that responsiveness and responsibility should define the public service. This is the vision that has guided the transformations we have put into place here in Ottawa. This is truly the way forward.

This economic crisis is not of our making, but it is a true test. This is truly where the rubber meets the road. This is why we have shown Canadians that we are managing the economy and society in a new way to ensure that ongoing competitiveness and prosperity is given to every Canadian.

Opposition Motion--Vote 35 in Main Estimates 2009-10Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

It being 5:15 p.m. and the final allotted day for the supply period ending March 26, 2009, it is my duty to interrupt the proceedings and put forthwith all questions necessary to dispose of the business of supply.

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Opposition Motion--Vote 35 in Main Estimates 2009-10Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Opposition Motion--Vote 35 in Main Estimates 2009-10Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Opposition Motion--Vote 35 in Main Estimates 2009-10Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Opposition Motion--Vote 35 in Main Estimates 2009-10Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

All those opposed will please say nay.

Opposition Motion--Vote 35 in Main Estimates 2009-10Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Opposition Motion--Vote 35 in Main Estimates 2009-10Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

In my opinion the nays have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Call in the members.

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

Vote #32

Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

I declare the motion carried.

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2008-09Government Orders

5:45 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The next question is on supplementary estimates (C).

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2008-09Government Orders

5:45 p.m.

Provencher Manitoba

Conservative

Vic Toews ConservativePresident of the Treasury Board

moved:

That the supplementary estimates (C) for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2009, be concurred in.

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2008-09Government Orders

5:45 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2008-09Government Orders

5:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2008-09Government Orders

5:45 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.