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House of Commons Hansard #93 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was veterans.

Topics

(Return tabled)

Question No. 373Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

With respect to services offered to veterans in Canada: (a) how many full-time and part-time positions have been cut from Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) between 2006 and 2010; (b) what is the number of uniformed professionals, public servants and contractors by region; (c) what is the overall cost of contract workers; (d) over the next five years, what plans does VAC have to cut back or expand (i) its operational budget, (ii) full-time, part-time or contract positions, (iii) programs or services offered; (e) since 2005, broken down by year, how many (i) Second World War veterans have passed away, (ii) Canadian Forces (CF) members became veterans, and how many of these veterans have families, (iii) new recruits have become CF members and how many of these new CF members have families; (f) how are the numbers in (e) expected to change over the next five years; (g) how many Veterans Affairs’ case managers and client service agents currently exist and specifically, (i) where are they located, (ii) what is the average number of clients they serve, (iii) what are the projected numbers of case managers and client service agents needed over the next five years, (iv) what specific preparations are being undertaken to meet these needs; (h) how many times has the "Veterans Charter" been altered, listing for each change (i) the date, (ii) the nature of the change, and (iii) the reason for the change; (i) how many veterans are living from (i) the Second World War, (ii) the Korean War, (iii) Afghanistan, (iv) Canada’s peace-keeping missions; (j) for each group listed in (i) how many veterans are (i) disabled, (ii) severely disabled, (iii) receiving the monthly disability payment, (iv) received the lump sum pay-out of up to $276,089; (k) for those who received the lump sum pay-out, how many veterans received (i) the maximum pay-out, (ii) the average pay-out; (l) how many veterans received a lump sum pay-out between (i) $0 and $25,999.99, (ii) $26,000 and $50,999.99, (iii) $51,000 and $75,999.99, (iv) $76,000 and $100,999.99, (v) $101,000 and $125,999.99, (vi) $126,000 and $150,999.99, (vii) $151,000 and $175,999.99, (viii) $176,000 and $200,999.99, (ix) $201,000 and $225,999.99, (x) $226,000 and $250,999.99, (xi) $251,000 and $275,000.00; (m) how is financial need measured; (n) how many veterans are currently receiving social assistance, and how do these statistics compare with those under the previous monthly disability program; (o) how often was the monthly payment increased and why; (p) how many veterans have lost their homes in the last five years; (q) what was the average payment for spouses and children prior to 2006, and how do these statistics compare with the new lump sum, specifically (i) how often is the lump sum increased, (ii) is there a portion of the latter payment for spouses and children; (r) what was the average disability pay-out under the system prior to 2006 particularly over a Second World War and Korean War Veteran’s lifetime (in today’s Canadian dollars), and how do these statistics compare with each category identified in (l) and the maximum lump sum pay-out of $276,089; (s) what specific actions are being taken to address the 31 per cent of veterans not satisfied with the lump sum payment as identified in the VAC survey released in June 2010; (t) how many veterans are currently appealing decisions regarding their disability pensions, and what is the average time taken to a final decision; (u) how many veterans have appealed a decision regarding their disability pension (i) once, (ii) twice, (iii) thrice, (iv) four times, (v) five times; (v) how many veterans’ complaints were reviewed by the Veterans Ombudsman during his tenure, up to and including September 20, 2010, broken down by complaints against (i) Veterans Affairs Canada services, (ii) Veterans Bill of Rights, (iii) the Veterans Review and Appeal Board, (iv) the Bureau of Pension Advocates; (w) in detail, what are all emerging and systemic issues related to programs and services provided or administered by Veterans Affairs Canada brought forward by the Ombudsman during his tenure up to and including September 20, 2010, including, but not limited to, physical and mental health issues, the replacement of pensions with lump-sum payments and disability stipends, and pension claw backs; (x) what are the details of all outreach activities to veterans or organizations that serve veterans across Canada during the national "Leave Nobody Behind" campaign launched by the Veterans Ombudsman, including the issues brought forward by veterans or organizations; and (y) what specific measures were used to evaluate the Veterans Ombudsman’s performance in the areas of (i) accountability, (ii) ethics (iii) training, (iv) governance and stakeholder engagement?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 374Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

With respect to veterans, Canadian Forces (CF) members and their mental health needs: (a) what are the 31 recommendations regarding post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) made in 2002 by the Ombudsman for the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces, Mr. André Marin, listing for each recommendation (i) whether it is unfulfilled, partly fulfilled, or completed, (ii) any action taken to date; (b) what are the nine highlighted recommendations in the second follow-up report, made in 2008 by the Interim Ombudsman for the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces, Ms. Mary McFadyen, listing for each recommendation, (i) whether it is unfulfilled, partly fulfilled, or completed, (ii) any action taken to date; (c) how many psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, mental health nurses, social workers, chaplains and other counselling personnel currently serve in the Canadian Forces (CF), listing for each group (i) the ratio of practitioners to clients, (ii) the numbers of practitioners by region, including Afghanistan, and any other location where CF are based or deployed; (d) what is the average wait time for PTSD treatment by region, and what is the projected delay for treatment by region once the CF leave Afghanistan in 2011; (e) what follow-up is done for veterans with PTSD; (f) what research will be undertaken to determine (i) whether the risk of dementia can be reduced by effectively treating PTSD, (ii) what role traumatic brain injury might play in PTSD; (g) what data are currently being collected regarding current and former CF members affected by mental illness; (h) how many CF personnel have been treated for Operational Stress Injuries (OSI), anxiety, depression, or PTSD annually since 2001; (i) how many CF personnel have required in-patient treatment for severe PTSD annually since 2001 and what is the average distance to travel for in-patient care by region; (j) of the CF personnel currently serving in Afghanistan, how many are expected to develop OSIs, anxiety, depression or PTSD, and how many per year are expected to require in-patient treatment for severe PTSD; (k) what programs exist for families of military members affected by mental illness by province or territory; (l) what financial, human resource, and program planning is being put in place to address the mental health needs of returning CF personnel, including, but not limited to, in-patient mental health capability, building stronger relationships with mental health institutions, developing less onerous entry criteria to treatment programs, and developing or finding treatment programs which can also address addictions; and (m) what specific actions are being taken to address the mental health needs of soldiers and veterans once the CF leave Afghanistan in 2011?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 387Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Liberal Ottawa South, ON

With regard to veterans: (a) how many veterans currently participate in programs offered by the Department of Veterans Affairs; and (b) what is the projected number of program participants for each of the next three fiscal years?

(Return tabled)

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Conservative Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Madam Speaker, I ask that all remaining questions be allowed to stand.

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:50 p.m.

The Acting Speaker Ms. Denise Savoie

Is that agreed?

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:50 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Motions for PapersRoutine Proceedings

3:50 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, I ask that all notices of motions for the production of papers be allowed to stand.

Motions for PapersRoutine Proceedings

3:50 p.m.

The Acting Speaker Ms. Denise Savoie

Is that agreed?

Motions for PapersRoutine Proceedings

3:50 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Motions for PapersRoutine Proceedings

3:50 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

I wish to inform the House that because of the ministerial statement, government orders will be extended today by 22 minutes.

The House resumed from November 1 consideration of the motion that Bill C-47, A second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 4, 2010 and other measures, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery ActGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Bonnie Crombie Liberal Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

Madam Speaker, I rise today to participate in the debate on the economic statement.

It is fitting that I rise today on “waste Wednesday” when we are debating an economic statement that the government boasts about. The government is either oblivious or ignoring the truth.

We do not have to look much further than today's PBO report or today's unemployment numbers for a dose of reality. This morning's report on business tells us that 300,000 of the 1.5 million Canadians who are unemployed have been so for over 27 weeks and this number has doubled since pre-recession times. Canadians are remaining jobless for longer stretches and those most affected are over 55 years old.

This past summer, for the first time, the Conservative myth of competent manager was exposed for all to see. Misstep after miscalculation, the Prime Minister was exposed as an imprudent fiscal manager, as an emperor with no clothes.

Just a few short weeks ago, Canada suffered a humiliating defeat at the UN, a once proud role in peacekeeping and international reputation sullied by the government's foreign policies; an embarrassing withdrawal of landing rights in the United Arab Emirates at Camp Mirage; the senseless abolishment of the long form census; a wasteful $9 billion to build prisons based on unreported crimes; and a sole-sourced, untendered $16 billion contract for F-35 fighter jets and now a Chinook helicopter deal that was neither transparent nor accountable.

Since 2008 when I was elected, we watched the Prime Minister prorogue Parliament not once but twice when he would have otherwise lost a motion of confidence. He reduced the fiscal capacity at a time of economic contraction and recommended a stock purchase when the market bottomed out and the unemployment rate soared. He spent through the $14 billion surplus that the Liberals left behind for a rainy day, when he should have prepared for the looming and imminent economic downturn.

This list does not even include the lengthy list of broken promises such as income trusts from previous budgets, causing unnecessary and undue hardships for many seniors.

As a result of the 2010 budget, Canadians were left with a $54 billion deficit and a fire sale on gems such as AECL and Mississauga-based proprietary nuclear technology about to be auctioned off at a barnburner price tag.

Yes, Liberals demanded infrastructure stimulus to jump-start the economy and get Canadians back to work, but we cried foul when we realized that cheques were not in the mail after all. Fifty billion dollars was to be spent on roads, bridges, sewers and much needed municipal infrastructure spending, but with hard to meet exploding deadlines, communities scrambled to complete projects and saddled themselves with overtime costs and overrun budgets, all for naught. A once in a lifetime opportunity to invest $50 billion in projects would be spent with no leadership, no vision and no lasting legacy. Worse, it was discovered that ISF money would arrive in Conservative-friendly ridings or those being targeted in a hostile takeover.

The Conservative Party continued to demonstrate both arrogance and incompetence with a string of announcements highlighting its wasteful ways of economic mismanagement, beginning with a fake lake as part of $1.3 billion price tag for the G8 and G20 conferences, all this when the security costs of the winter Olympics were only $200 million.

We have since learned that South Korea will be spending 2% of what Canada spent on security, only $25 million.

We also saw outrageous, lavish and unjustifiable spending in a time of austerity and restraint, on items such as $200 million on hotel bills, car rentals, bug spray, lunch boxes, cell phones and parking; $300,000 on bug spray, hand sanitizer and sunscreen; 22,000 bottles of sunscreen, 33,000 bottles of bug spray and 111 bottles of hand sanitizers, all for one day in Deerhurst.

The government also spent $85,000 on snacks in a swanky downtown Toronto hotel, on 42,000 bags of chips, 71,000 chocolate bars and 57,000 bottles of Coke. That is more waste and mismanagement.

Next up was the $9 billion price tag to build prisons despite a declining crime rate, on a pretext that unreported crimes were on the rise. If that was not bad enough, the Prime Minister claimed we needed 65 new F-35 fighter jets to protect us from the Russian threat, an excuse to hand out $16 billion in an untendered contract announced late on a Friday evening in the hopes that Canadians were not paying attention.

Canadians have begun to realize that the cost of the emperor's new clothes is unsustainable and reckless in its disregard for public accountability. After all, one needs to have an ability to count to be accountable.

More recently, the Auditor General confirmed that there was no transparency, no fairness and no accountability by National Defence in managing the $11 billion Chinook helicopter purchase, which ballooned to twice the original estimated cost. It did not take the procurement to tender, it did not account for full life-cycle costs and it will not sign the maintenance contracts until after the purchase, thus losing all bargaining power. This kind of waste and mismanagement has become a pattern.

Canadians have also been innocent bystanders in the Conservatives' breathless contempt for democracy and democratic institutions. The Prime Minister does not tolerate disobedience or dissent. Canadians have been left panting, gasping and wheezing at the democratic deficit.

The Conservatives silence Canadians who speak the truth, Canadians including: chief superintendent, Marty Cheliak, director general of the Canada firearms program, who disagreed with the government on the long gun registry and was sent away for French lessons; Colonel Pat Stogran, veterans ombudsman, who was told that his contract would not be renewed; Linda Keen, chair of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, who was fired because she stated the truth about the government's mishandling of the isotope crisis at AECL; Peter Tinsley, chair of the Military Police Complaints Commission, who was fired for acknowledging that prisoners were being tortured; Paul Kennedy, chair of the RCMP Police Complaints Commission; Mr. Munir Sheikh, head of Statistics Canada, who tried to put the sense back into the long form census; Steve Sullivan, ombudsman for the victims of crime, who was replaced for questioning the government's claim of unreported crimes; and Kevin Page, the Parliamentary Budget Officer, whose office is chronically challenged and underfunded.

There was also Canadian diplomat, Richard Colvin, who had his good reputation smeared for speaking the truth about tortured prisoners; and Rémy Beauregard, chair of Rights & Democracy, who found himself under siege by Conservative ideological appointments. God rest his soul.

There was also the government's failure to present unredacted Afghan documents despite a parliamentary motion requiring it to do so, or its unwillingness to allow witnesses to appear before certain committees.

I have provided the House with an exhaustive but still incomplete list of individuals and agencies created to uphold democratic conditions and keep our government accountable but which have been shut down or shut out.

Further proof of the democratic deficit and lack of respect for the supremacy of Parliament is evidenced in the government's unfounded and unilateral decision to cancel the long form census. The consensus on the census is that cancelling it was senseless, or cancelling the long gun registry and twice proroguing Parliament. We recently heard that the Prime Minister was willing to go as high as the Queen to obtain his prorogation had the Governor General turned down his request.

What about the economic costs? Results since January 2008 speak louder than words. Canada has lost 200,000 high-paying, full-time jobs which were replaced by part-time and temporary full-time jobs. Canada's unemployment rate at more than 8% is 2% higher than it was during the last election. That is 370,000 more unemployed Canadians since 2008, except in the PMO of course where staff costs have increased by $10 million, or 30%.

The Conservative government put Canada into deficit even before the recession. The first three pre-recession budgets increased program spending from $175 billion to $206 billion, an 18% increase. Our deficit currently sits at $54 billion and is estimated to be $100 billion over the next two years, higher than it has ever been in the history of our country. The Conservative government is the highest spending, largest debt, largest deficit government in our history.

Household debt is also at record levels. Canada's trade deficit for the summer months was at a record low.

The Conservatives imminent $13 billion unemployment insurance tax hike will cost another 200,000 jobs and hard-working Canadian families hundreds of dollars.

The $156 billion of new debt that the Conservatives plan to borrow between 2009 and 2014 will cost taxpayers $10 billion in interest payments each and every year for decades to come.

The government has a disregard for democracy, a distaste for openness, fairness and accountability, a disrespect for fiscal prudence, and a disdain for competent economic management. It is a spiral that cannot continue.

As Thomas Hobbes' Leviathan predicted, the Conservatives reign will be “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short”.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery ActGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Gord Brown Conservative Leeds—Grenville, ON

Madam Speaker, I listened intently to the presentation by the member from the other side and I found it quite interesting. She talked about the creation of jobs and how we are facing some challenges.

Maybe she could explain to the House how it is that her party is proposing to roll back the corporate tax cut that comes in on January 1. I happen to come from a business background and know that if a company has to pay more in tax it will not be investing more in jobs and it will not be investing more in the company. Maybe the hon. member could explain to the House exactly how she thinks that reversing that corporate tax cut will create more jobs.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery ActGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

Liberal

Bonnie Crombie Liberal Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

Madam Speaker, we roll back corporate taxes or any kind of taxes when the country can afford it and when the economy is booming as it was when we put $13 billion away for a rainy day that the Conservatives spent like drunken sailors during the last election.

The Conservatives have been disingenuous with the House and with Canadians. They told Canadians in 2009 that we would have a surplus and then we entered one of the largest, strongest recessions of our day and they have become the greatest spenders. They have dug us into the largest hole with the biggest deficit and biggest debt of all time.

As we heard in question period today, we have a finance minister who cannot add and a Prime Minister who can only divide.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery ActGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Madam Speaker, in question period, the finance minister was pretty exercised about tax and spend, and I see why. The Parliamentary Budget Officer's report shows that over the next five years the finance minister will increase taxes by $68 billion and he will simultaneously increase spending by $39 billion. He has already, with the deficit this year, run us up another $156 billion by the end of 2015-16.

Just who is the tax and spender around here?

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery ActGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

Liberal

Bonnie Crombie Liberal Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

Madam Speaker, clearly the question was rhetorical. It is a government that has led us into a $100 billion deficit. No, we cannot count on the government because it cannot count.

I would like to emphasize the effects of the government's waste and mismanagement on Canadians and average families. The growing strain to find new work has gone beyond the manufacturing sector and has hit not only factory workers but long-term unemployment has spread out to professionals, to accountants, to executives, to educators and many older workers who have not been able to and will not be able to cope without a job for a long period of time.

Let us look at the effects on families. The increase in long-term unemployment has many implications. The longer individuals are out of work, the more skills they lose and the tougher it is to find a job. Many workers will be forced to find jobs that are beneath them, beneath their skill set or they will need to take a pay cut. Their confidence ebbs. There are health issues, mental health issues, marriages suffer and, in fact, marriages fall apart.

The consequences also affect the broader economy and more people move to social assistance, or depend on family members to live, or live off their savings or sell all their assets just to re-enter the job market. “This is human capital, which is being depreciated,” said Stephen Gordon, economics professor at Laval University in Quebec City.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery ActGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Liberal Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Madam Speaker, I would like a quick clarification and then I have a question. Being a recreational sailor who enjoys the odd libation, I want to assure the member that I would never spend money like the current government spends money. I want her to understand that.

I had the pleasure of working with my colleague from Mississauga—Streetsville this past summer. We met with a group from the National Philatelic Centre in Antigonish where we are seeing great full-time jobs being lost at that centre. What we are seeing in the public service is a shell game where some positions will not be renewed. Does the member think we can expect more from the government as we go forward, not backfilling those positions within the public service?

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery ActGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

Liberal

Bonnie Crombie Liberal Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

Madam Speaker, we cannot count on the government for anything and certainly not to create or sustain jobs, that is for sure. It is the Liberal Party that will protect the jobs of today, create the jobs of tomorrow, invest in research and innovation, commit to lifelong learning and protect those who are most vulnerable.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery ActGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

NDP

Niki Ashton NDP Churchill, MB

Madam Speaker, it is an honour for me to stand in the House and speak to the bill before us, Bill C-47, which looks at the budget and the economic policies taken by the government.

Essentially, this is a budget that people back home in the riding that I have the honour of representing, the riding of Churchill, know it is not a budget for them. In fact, it is a budget for very few Canadians out there, often Canadians who already doing quite okay, when we should be looking, especially in a time of recession, at what might benefit everyone and at particular areas, whether it is industries, regions or communities, that have faced particular hardships as a result of this most recent economic recession.

I am proud to stand in the House along with so many of my colleagues in the New Democratic Party to speak out on how this budget has done little to support Canadians. While we are happy to see that some of our measures and work in the area of employment insurance and in some small ways in certain other areas have been heard, the vast majority of proposals and the spirit of looking out for average Canadians and the challenges they face has not been heard in this budget. It certainly is not reflected.

This budget does something that is not only counterproductive to the situation we currently face but also presents a dangerous trend when we look ahead at our future. Budget 2010 presents ample evidence of a tax strategy that begins to take away increasingly from average Canadians and benefits more and more those who are well off and work in sectors that have been very successful.

The government continues to drive the country deeper into debt so it can give tax cuts to profitable corporations: $21 billion worth since 2008 and $60 billion worth by the time they are fully implemented in 2014. During that same period, the government, by its own reckoning, will add $162.4 billion to the public debt, $60 billion more than the 10 previous years of surplus erased.

While the government is giving corporations a free pass on contributing to the country's financial recovery, it is planning to take a big chunk out of the pockets of Canadian workers. Over the next four years, the Prime Minister plans to rake in over $19 billion more in EI premiums than is paid out.

While the oil and gas and banking sectors have benefited from tax breaks, the same has not been the case for the average Canadian. In fact, with the increase in EI premiums, that burden has been increased.

There are specific stories in the region that I represent that speak to how this budget has not responded to people's needs. I would like to first begin by looking at how this budget does very little when it comes to the needs voiced by aboriginal Canadians.

I have the honour of representing 33 first nations and many Métis communities in my area. When I visit these communities and hear from aboriginal peoples in northern Manitoba, they speak out for the need for adequate funding for education.

Just this afternoon I was speaking out on a new study that showed record high dropout rates among aboriginal Canadians in my own home province of Manitoba, something that is so disheartening to see in the year 2010 when so many of us know the value of an education. However, the reason we see these rates is because the federal government, both under the Liberal leadership and now under the Conservatives, fails to adequately fund education on reserves and fails to adequately fund post-secondary education across the board for first nations and Métis students. This prevents them from accessing opportunities that we all know are key to them progressing into the future.

We know that $10 million were put aside for the work around missing and murdered aboriginal women, many of these women coming from the region that I represent. However, instead of the government listening to organizations, like the Native Women's Association of Canada or the Sisters in Spirit organization, it has chosen a very narrow approach. While work to collect statistics and the policing approach is important, we also need to be looking at specific measures in terms of domestic violence and violence perpetrated against aboriginal women, as well as awareness and prevention in that area, something we do not see this pocket of money going toward.

In this budget, there is no new money for water or waste water management in aboriginal communities. This week, I have stood in this House to ask the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and the government what they are going to do about the third world living conditions in the first nations that I represent. The Island Lake communities face some of the worst water and sewer conditions in all of Canada. These conditions are shocking to Canadians. Yet, this is the reality for some Canadians today. This budget does nothing to address this dire need in northern Manitoba.

Housing is another area in need of significant action. There is a housing crisis not only in aboriginal communities but in northern communities and communities in general across the country, many of which have fast-growing populations. Yet there is no new money for housing. Aboriginal people, the people of northern Manitoba, northerners in general, all these groups are affected by a shortage of adequate housing.

Another issue with a direct negative impact on the communities that I represent is the way the government has handled foreign ownership.

My hometown, which depends on the mining industry, has seen the buying out of the company that ran the mine. It was formerly Inco; now it is Vale. We look forward to negotiating with this company, which put Canadian workers out of work when they went on strike for benefits, a proper pension plan, and a decent commitment to the people of the region, who allow these companies to produce such profits. Yet, the current government failed to say no to the foreign buyout of Inco, a profitable Canadian company. Moreover, it is continuing that trend, amending the Investment Canada Act in this budget bill so that only significant investments will now be reviewed.

The people who live in the communities I represent need a federal government that will stand up to foreign corporations, that will protect our resources, and that will protect Canadian working people and their communities. This budget would not do any of these things.

Smaller rural and northern communities require assurances that our essential services will be supported. This budget attacks our postal service through the withdrawal of international mailers from the monopoly that Canada Post now holds.

This means a reduction in the revenue that Canada Post depends on to provide service to rural and northern communities, which often do not fit a market model. In The Pas, Kelsey, Thompson, Flin Flon, and in communities across northern Manitoba, we fear that postal service to rural Canada will be the first to be cut back. We are already seeing some reduction in service. Yet, instead of having a government that will step up and recognize the importance of delivering this service to Canadians, no matter where they live, we see a move toward privatization and a lack of support for the crown corporations we rely on.

Finally, the state of infrastructure in the north is alarming. We have heard a great deal about the current government's commitment to infrastructure in its stimulus package.

I can tell members that there is a great deal of concern when it comes to ensuring that these infrastructure projects go out in time. I represent communities that are isolated, that have a very short construction period, and that are concerned about running out of time, despite having tried their best to get these projects rolling as soon as possible.

So, all in all, there are many ways in which this budget would not serve the interests of northern Manitoba. That is why I find it so disappointing.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery ActGovernment Orders

4:20 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

Madam Speaker, I wonder if the hon. member would care to comment on the budget and the waste of money involved in the government's decision to cancel the long form census, and what these things mean to the future of the country.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery ActGovernment Orders

4:20 p.m.

NDP

Niki Ashton NDP Churchill, MB

Madam Speaker, the government has not always based its decisions entirely on facts.

By eliminating the mandatory long form census, the government has reduced our access to the information we need to make better policy decisions. For people like northern Manitobans, the people whom I represent, it is a grave concern. As for aboriginal peoples, they are often silenced, and without the long form census their voices will be even less in evidence in the decisions that are made. This is truly troubling.

The same goes for medical decisions. When it comes to health care services in rural and northern Canada, we need the facts from the long form census. When it comes to child care, recreation, or infrastructure, we need the mandatory long form census.

As the member of Parliament for Churchill, I have never heard any of my constituents say that the mandatory long form census compromises the right to privacy. Many people, however, have told me that the absence of the long form census will serve to silence a part of Canada that is all too often not heard.