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House of Commons Hansard #5 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was billion.

Topics

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

Conservative

Rodney Weston Conservative Saint John, NB

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to stand in response to the question from the member opposite. If we are going to move the country forward, we have to realize the position we are in. We are dealing with a difficult economic recession. It is the worst of its kind since the Great Depression.

Canadians have faith that our government is moving in the right direction. We have put in place the key stimulus funding programs that will help to keep Canadians working. The projects that we have funded have been well grasped by provinces, municipalities and by businesses alike.

We have been funding research and development and job creation. I spoke about the tariff-free zone that will help manufacturers create and maintain jobs. These all speak to what the member opposite was talking about.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Simms Liberal Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, NL

Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Vancouver Centre.

It is indeed an honour for me to be standing here to talk on this particular issue. I want to talk about and put into perspective, certainly for my riding and also for the nation itself, the fact that over the past two years it has been a time of tumult, restraint and worry. Certainly, it has been a time of worry for people in an aging community like my riding.

The average age in my riding is above average. Thus seniors issues have come to the fore in many respects over the past while, not only the OAS and the guaranteed income supplement, but also pension security. Some of the issues I will touch upon in my speech will speak to the general nervousness, to use the best word I can come up with, over the past while.

My riding comprises 170 communities. That is a lot, and the largest is only 13,000 people. Thus here is a string of communities, where not only do people have to worry about their personal positions, but also about the position of their communities. In many cases, when larger industries shut down branches or smaller plants, a lot of these communities face extinction. It has been a struggle to diversify and reclaim a spot in the provincial economy and, certainly, in the national economy.

One example among many is Lewisporte Wholesalers. One of the problems we faced was skills training. There seems to be a lot of red tape around the idea of skills training. I am not particularly blaming any individual or any past party or government, whatever these may be, but I think this entire House and all politicians, provincial, federal and municipal, could make a concerted effort to adapt these particular situations so these communities and companies can contribute in the future.

It is about empowerment. In times like this we need to empower the people, no matter where they live. So when we talk about plans, budgets, the economic action plan part one or part two, we need to allow people to be empowered so that they can be trained and productive parts of society and masters of their own destiny.

Over the past while, we have seen circumstances change. Unbeknownst to many, the world economy took a large tumble that started in the United States with the housing market crisis and spread its way through places like Europe and around the world. Canada, being dependent on the United States for most of its trade, and now increasingly the European Union, finds itself in a position where it has to adapt to that international regime more than it ever has.

Let me just return to my riding. This is a particular situation where we are well above average in many respects. Our quality of life is well above average; but, of course, I am biased here, as one of 308 members.

However, in this House we also talk about unemployment. The national unemployment rate hovers around the 8% mark, but in my riding the official number is now 24.9%. I say that again for emphasis: 24.9%. It is well above average.

In this particular situation, many people enjoy seasonal work, which is why we focused on the back end of the EI system when discussing changes to that system. By that, we meant the extension of weeks of eligibility for current recipients of EI. What this discussion did not address was the ability to claim EI benefits in the first place. Therefore, we have an issue that could have benefited my riding if it was addressed. Unfortunately, it did not, because we did not look at that.

I appreciate some of the smaller steps that have been taken when it comes self-employment, which I am sure my colleagues across the way will point out to me, and others as well. However, the missing element in EI reform was the front end of the system and the question of people being able to qualify for, particularly in my riding. With the unemployment rate at around 25%, one can get an idea of just how important that is.

There was one company that disappeared from my riding, and that was in the town of Grand Falls-Windsor. We had a situation where a 100-year-old mill closed. It closed its doors, was padlocked and was no more. Seven hundred direct jobs were involved, and if we include other tertiary activity, we were looking at well over 1,100 or 1,200 people involved in this particular cut.

What do we do? We need to diversify the economy. There were some smaller elements of diversification brought forward by the provincial government, as well as the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency. This particular budget did extend one of the programs, that is, the investment in the communities fund, but what I do not like about it is that there is no long-term commitment to how a community can adapt itself to that international regime; and therein lies what we should be looking at. That is why I put to the House that this budget lacks the vision it requires. It is a year over year, smaller investment that does not allow these people to plan.

For example, one of the industries that is about to take off in the Exploits Valley region where the mill went down is the cranberry industry. Apparently, unbeknownst to many people, Newfoundland is a good place for growing cranberries. With the higher demand for cranberry juice around the world, we have a way to diversify. However, here is the issue. For someone to put a solid investment into that, the problem is that the agencies such as ACOA that help them do not have the long-term commitment to funding, and that is what they need.

When we were in power, we believed in a five-year commitment to innovation money as well as communities money, because that was essential. In order for a community to survive, it must have that long-term agreement. Therefore, I would ask the government to reconsider and to look at ways of allowing a program that would give people in my riding the chance to diversify in that longer range. One of the programs they had was the community assistance funding, which is a national program.

The other problem is that they did not allow ACOA to have its own program so that it could be the master of its own destiny. I say this because ACOA has the people on the ground who know the most about the players involved.

Let me move on from that particular policy announcement in the budget with regard to the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency. I cannot speak on behalf of other regional development agencies, but I am sure they fall similarly within the same boat.

Youth unemployment is the highest it has been for years. Here is something that occurred to me, which I hear a lot of it in the riding, and that is the connection between the skills of youth and the labour market that awaits these youth.

There is an emphasis on getting individuals skilled to the point where they do what they want to do. They want to be geologists, or they want to be technologists. There are colleges in my home town that deal with mining and a lot of the technical trades that are in high demand, and also from a university standpoint, especially doctors and nurses. However, when it comes to a lot of the jobs and to allowing a community to retain these young people, what is missing here is the ability of a company or industry to reach out to those who are able to work for them in that particular area. Mining has picked up dramatically in central Newfoundland, and with the new-found resources in gold, copper and zinc, there are people around this country right now who would love to move to my riding to work there, but we do not make an effort to bridge that gap.

Companies and industries such as Teck Resources, which owns Duck Pond Mine, need the federal government, along with the provincial government, to help them to find people to work for them.

Here is an example of what I am talking about. One of the things that we can propose is a skills inventory directory, which does not get talked about much. It would allow the local government offices to compile a list of people who are willing and certainly able to work. That is the vision thing. That is just not happening in this particular budget.

Finally, I want to touch upon pension security. Some people will say that the individual who has a secured pension is a secure person, and that is great; but there is another element of pension security that I put forward to this House. Pension security is a vanguard, the beginning of economic development. In a community of only 1,000 people but with 40% to 50% of its inhabitants on pensions, if pension security is not sustained, these people will either have to move to where they can get more work or move in with other family.

The pensioners of AbitibiBowater face a 25% decrease in the value of their pensions. The problem is that we have to make pensions secure so that people can stay in their smaller communities. Who is going to move a company into a small community if there are no people there to work in the industry? That is the vision thing.

I hope the House gives careful consideration to the vision thing in dealing with this budget.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, I especially want to pay attention to the member's comments on the whole issue of pensions.

While the government promised to lead the charge to improve the pension system in this country, we have seen absolutely no movement in that regard so far. For example, we have known for some time that Nortel workers are suffering as a result of their pension deficiencies. At any time the government could have made changes to the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act. It could have taken the initiative and set up an insurance fund for pensions, because there has been a lot of discussion on that point. We recognize it is one of the answers to the problem.

We have to allow for alternative or supplementary pensions for workers. I believe the Province of Saskatchewan has had a program like that for a couple of years. Moreover, pensions themselves should perhaps be increased, and maybe even doubled.

This is the kind of vision that we need in the pension area and, clearly, it is not happening with the government. It seems the government has to be dragged kicking and screaming into any kind of progressive moves on the legislative front before it actually does things.

I would like to ask the member whether he agrees with that sentiment.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Simms Liberal Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, NL

Madam Speaker, if the member keeps asking relevant and thoughtful questions like that, I just might have to join his fan club. I truly appreciate his comments.

When we were talking about pensions and the whole issue of pension security, we were not just talking about what is publicly available, such as the CPP, old age security and the guaranteed income supplement. In fact, 34% of Canadians have private pensions and RRSPs, and 19% rely solely on CPP and 23% on OAS. You get the idea.

The whole idea of pension security is drifting into new territory. We are going now from defined benefits to defined contributions, which basically means that the entire risk of someone's pension relies on him or her as the individual. That is an onerous responsibility for someone who is not used to playing the market, for someone who is not used to being in that position.

I will not say that the government does not get it. I hope it does, but there has not been much action so far.

What do you think? Does it get it or not?

Getting back to the vision thing, here is the situation. Over the coming five to ten years, we need to look at the elements making pensions easily accessible and to define the universality of the pension plans to allow pension security. A large group of people is going to be pensioned off very quickly, and so there is no time to waste.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Madam Speaker, being from Atlantic Canada, my colleague would know that perhaps one of the best opportunities for Atlantic Canada came out of a study by the Liberal members of the Atlantic caucus called “Atlantic Canada: Catching Tomorrow's Wave”. It was a long-term vision looking out 20 years.

One of the programs in that package announced in 2001 was the Atlantic innovation fund, funded with $300 million. Under a Liberal government in 2005, it was funded with another $300 million. However, in this budget, ACOA will be given $19 million for one year.

The member talked about the need for long-term vision.

Is it the policy of the government to announce a little bit of money everywhere but not enough anywhere to really do the job, that is, to have a short-term vision rather than a good long term vision that can could actually do something for innovation in this country?

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Simms Liberal Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, NL

Madam Speaker, my colleague brings forward a very valid point, as it goes back to the vision thing.

“Atlantic Canada: Catching Tomorrow's Wave” and the other programs we talked about were visionary elements of five to ten years out, from which the benefits are still being reaped in my riding and, as a matter of fact, all over Atlantic Canada.

ACOA was given that responsibility and duty, which it followed through admirably, of putting money throughout the entire region to help people in traditional industries diversify their economies and become that much better within the communities.

The one over, year over year funding does not lend itself toward a visionary policy, and that is the biggest disappointment of all.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

Hedy Fry Liberal Vancouver Centre, BC

Madam Speaker, I want to speak to the elements of the budget that struck me the most.

This was the shortest budget in the last 50 years. If one had gone to the fridge for a snack and come back, one would have missed it. More noteworthy in this budget were its omissions rather than its promises.

It is a cynical budget. It is a budget that cut things that are popular and would be under the radar screen rather than what is really needed to move the economy forward and to build a strong social and economic infrastructure. It is a budget that pretended to cut taxes while surreptitiously increasing taxes in areas that are more likely to cancel out employment than to increase it.

It is a budget that stated that it had a massive stimulus package. Members know that this massive stimulus package only lasts for this one more year. That stimulus package is $19 billion to do more of what was done last year. Indeed, that stimulus package did create some jobs, but members know those jobs were short-term, temporary, did not pay a lot, and tended to be mostly in sectors that were not going to be sustainable in the 21st century.

Members also talked about this budget being a budget of austerity. That is a good thing, yes, but this budget is cutting program spending and decreasing the role of the federal government in the process. The federal government will have absolutely no relevance in the lives of Canadians, no ability to help Canadians create opportunities for themselves or to help them as things get worse. It is a government that says, “I am washing my hands of my ability to do anything for Canadians. You are going to have to fend for yourselves in the future”.

It is a budget that will leave many of Canada's vulnerable with absolutely nothing to fall back on. Here we see a government that is going to be cutting student subsidies, at a time when we need students to get the education, skills, and training they need to function in today's world of work.

The budget will cut farm subsidies when we are looking at a food shortage around the world and at Canada's ability to be self-sufficient in terms of creating its own safe food for its own people. Yet, the budget is doing that.

The minister said it is a budget that will cut taxes, but it is a budget without daring and innovation, and indeed takes no risks. In fact, the only risk that this budget took was to suggest that the government will eliminate the deficit in six years, and that is a big if. Under that position, it is indeed a very risk-taking budget in that it predicts something that many people are saying will not happen.

I want to speak about this budget being one that I would like to call a sleight of hand budget. In other words, the finance minister says he is going to do something, and then on the other hand he takes it away again, so that he neutralizes any good that might have come for the things he says he was going to do.

Here is a budget that says that it will not increase any new taxes. Yet, the increase in EI premiums, which is going to be 15¢ per $100 for employees and 21% per $100 for employers, is going to really harm the ability to create long-term jobs. Small-sized and medium-sized businesses are going to be hurt. Members know that those create 80% of the jobs in this country. Here is a budget that says it is cutting taxes, but it does not tell us that it is increasing the most significant taxes, which are the taxes that affect employment insurance premiums.

Members should remember that while Canada now has 550,000 people on our EI rolls, that is going to sunset very soon. They are going to be off EI. Of course, why should the federal government care? The provinces will take care of them with welfare, will they not? This is a really cynical budget from that perspective.

This budget says it is going to help business, but it took another hit at business. On the one hand its cut to tariffs will help some businesses and that is going to give businesses about $300 million of investment. The government did not extend the accelerated capital cost allowance, which we heard from businesses was probably the single most important thing that helped enable them to buy new equipment and invest in capital expenditure to expand their businesses. That is no longer going to be there.

On the one hand, this budget is saying that it is going to give business about $300 million to help with tariffs, thereby saving the government the tax hit it took of about $535 million by cancelling the accelerated capital gains tax. So members will see the sleight of hand again. The government is saying one thing and doing another.

Here is another example of some of that sleight of hand. What we need to look at in this budget is not what it says on the surface because it says all kinds of nice, innocuous things on the surface. The devil is in the details. We need to sit down and read about what is going to happen when thing A is done with the right hand and thing B with the left hand, cancelling each other out. Everyone thinks they are getting a deal, but when they look around, their pockets are being picked with the other hand.

Here is a budget that says it is going to increase research and development. It is important to increase research and development because if we are going to be productive and competitive in the 21st century world of work, we have to look at how we develop new technologies. We have to look at how we develop niche markets that will place Canada as a leader in certain sectors in terms of communications technology and biomedical technology. We were world leaders in genomics and nuclear medicine. None of these things are being invested in.

Instead, we are giving NSERC, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, $13 million. We are also giving the Canadian Institutes of Health Research $16 million. The budget is also giving the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council $3 million. However, given inflation and the fact that these groups are going to be frozen from now on, it is not giving them anything. It is just leaving them exactly where they were. So much for research and development investments.

There is nothing in this budget in terms of R and D for climate change. When we think about the fact that Canada is a leader in environmental technologies and can be the world leader in new energy, nothing has been done to look at the jobs for tomorrow. Nothing has been done to look at some kind of sustainable infrastructure for this country in terms of economic development.

When that stimulus money goes at the end of the year, all of those part-time jobs are going to be gone. Indeed, the government has extended job sharing, but no one is saying that job sharing got people full-time jobs to work half-time so that they are barely able to keep their head above water. Working part-time in very temporary jobs is not the way for people to continue to build and take care of their families.

This budget says a lot but does not do anything. It is going to give $25 million to the forestry industry. That is another interesting thing and it sounds good on the surface. However, the Liberals had given $100 million to British Columbia for research and development on the pine beetle and new ways of dealing with climate change with regard to the forestry sector. The government takes $100 million away and gives $25 million. That is money math, is it not? One does not have to be a mathematical wizard to know that one is getting $75 million less than one used to get in the past.

Listen to groups like the Canadian Association of Social Workers. I just spoke about the economic part of the budget. Let us look at the social part of the budget. We cannot build economic infrastructure and ignore our social infrastructure. As the Canadian Association of Social Workers has said that Canada's most vulnerable populations have been handed an empty envelope in this budget, and so they have.

There is nothing really in this budget to deal with the issue of poverty. With people working in part-time temporary jobs, we are going to have a whole lot of middle-income working class people shifting into dependency on welfare when the stimulus package ends at the end of the year. We are going to see small businesses closing down and people are going to be out of work. That is going to leave people trying to depend on EI when we do not have enough money in the coffers to properly support people who are out of work.

We have to look at the investments in human potential. Human potential is going to be the most important resource for Canada to succeed in this century. We have to build the best and brightest workforce. We have to invest in innovation and people. None of that is in this budget. There is nothing that is going to invest in human potential. Instead, we are giving students the boot by not giving them the subsidies.

There is no mention of arts and culture in this budget. There is no mention of health care and we all know that the higher the unemployment, the less number of people at work, the unhealthier they are, and the need for health care increases. None of these things are even mentioned. It is as if they do not exist in this budget.

This budget is passing the buck on to the provinces, who will then pass it on to the municipalities, all of the need for social infrastructure and services. What is going to happen to the municipalities? There is not a word about them in this budget. We see this budget as just handing off everything to others and not doing anything to help us in the long-term. It sounds nice, but it does not actually deliver.

There was actually one good thing in this budget. It talked about child safety and preventing children from injury. I am going to keep the government's feet to the fire on that because it has refused to do anything about—

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

Order. Questions and comments, the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Macleod Alberta

Conservative

Ted Menzies ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Madam Speaker, that was a most interesting speech from a member of a party who says it is going to oppose the budget when I understand that it is actually going to support it.

The hon. member talks about everything that she sees wrong in this budget, including the fact that she does not see where we are actually supporting health care, which of course is provincial jurisdiction. Let me assure everyone that we will not do what the Liberal government did in the 1990s, which was to cut health care funding to the provinces. We will continue to increase it at 3%. We will continue to increase the social assistance that goes to provinces, to give to people that require it, at 3%.

I have heard many people complaining and suggesting that we are not listening to seniors about pensions. I would argue that we have done a lot for pensions. We have put in place funding capabilities so that sponsors that have promised pensions to retirees will actually be able to fulfill that promise.

I would like to know if the hon. member is or is not going to support this great budget?

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Hedy Fry Liberal Vancouver Centre, BC

Madam Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition has been very clear about what his feelings are on the budget, so I will not go back into that.

However, I want to talk about health care being a provincial jurisdiction. Since when? The federal government has the Canada Health Act that determines the ability of people to have universal access to comprehensive health care. The provinces deliver the system, but the federal government is there to make sure that every Canadian, no matter where he or she lives, has access to health care.

The member suggests that the Liberals did not do anything about health care. Transferring records is a good thing, but the government has not talked about the fact that we need family physicians in this country. There are three million people who do not have doctors. There is not a word about that in the budget.

There is not a word in the budget about access to health care and waiting lists. That is gone. The last time I heard that language used was in 2004 under the Liberal government. That is no longer being discussed. Health care cannot be delivered if there are no people to deliver it. This is a joke.

As for passing on social assistance to provinces, when people go off EI and onto welfare, the provinces are going to have a huge—

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

Order. Questions and comments, the hon. member for Laval.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Bloc

Nicole Demers Bloc Laval, QC

Madam Speaker, I listened carefully to my colleague's speech. I heard her concerns about the lack of social measures in the budget.

However, I would like to know what she thinks about the announcement of $10 million to combat violence against women, particularly aboriginal women. There was no mention of where this money will go, and no mention of the Sisters in Spirit program, which is calling for renewed funding.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Hedy Fry Liberal Vancouver Centre, BC

Madam Speaker, we will obviously see where the government is going to put the $10 million for violence against women. The issue of violence against women is well known. We have heard from the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police and Canadian Police Associations everywhere that it has everything to do with gun control legislation. With the government it has always been on the one hand or on the other hand. It is going to put $10 million toward violence against women and taking away gun control legislation.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, I notice that the last questioner for the government was trying to deflect the government's lack of action on the whole pension issue. It has known that Nortel workers need help. Last year it could have done something but sat on its hands.

The question is this. Does the member actually believe that the government will in fact do anything meaningful in the pension area in the near future?

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Hedy Fry Liberal Vancouver Centre, BC

No, Madam Speaker, I do not believe so because there was talk by the government of protecting people whose employers went bankrupt. There is nothing about that in the budget. The pensioners of this country asked for a summit and all they got was a day on which they could celebrate the fact that they have become seniors. Talk about tokenism.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Keith Martin Liberal Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Madam Speaker, the devil in the details is that we are suffering because of the huge deficit. The government is going to make cuts of $3.5 billion a year. How on earth is the government expected to balance its budget with a $53 billion deficit by cutting $3.5 billion a year?

Does the member not think this is simply Conservative voodoo economics?

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Hedy Fry Liberal Vancouver Centre, BC

Madam Speaker, I do not know if that is doing a disservice to voodoo.

The hon. member's question is very important. I tried to highlight in my response to the budget that we have smoke and mirrors economics. The government is saying it will do one thing and then it is taking it away. The government is saying that it is going to decrease taxes, and then it is socking it to small businesses with EI premium tax increases.

This is a kind of neutral budget in that it almost cancels out everything the government says it is going to do by the negative things it will do to make it not work anymore. Cutting social programs and cutting spending will lead the government exactly to where it wants to go, which is to have no role to play in the lives of Canadians. It wants to hand everything over to the provinces and balkanize Canada into 10 little nation-states.

Komagata MaruStatements by Members

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Devinder Shory Conservative Calgary Northeast, AB

Madam Speaker, many across Canada are concerned about the kidnapping and beheading of innocent people in Pakistan. We offer our sympathy to the affected families.

On another note, the Komagata Maru incident was a sad time in our nation's history, but the Liberals did nothing about it.

After being elected in 2006, our Conservative government took action. The Prime Minister publicly apologized in the presence of thousands of Indo-Canadians. We set aside $2.5 million for the historical recognition program and recently made two funding announcements to recognize and preserve the facts of the sad incident.

Are the Liberals angry because our Conservative government is recognizing and preserving the history of the Komagata Maru incident, or are they ashamed because we have done so much on this issue in four years?

I call on the Liberals to stop playing cheap politics and appreciate our government for taking action, which the Liberals refused to do during their 80 years in power.

HealthStatements by Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Keith Martin Liberal Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Madam Speaker, every minute of every single day a woman dies as a consequence of pregnancy. This is also a death sentence for more than half of the children under the age of five who will also perish. Five hundred and thirty thousand women die every single year from five entirely preventable or treatable causes. Twenty times this number suffer from horrible injuries. Remarkably, 80% of the deaths are entirely preventable.

The solution is simple. Enable people to access basic primary health care, a trained health care worker, basic medications, diagnostics, clean water, basic surgical services, micronutrients and a full array of family planning options. Doing this would also enable us to treat 80% of the big killers, including pneumonia, gastroenteritis, tuberculosis and HIV-AIDS.

This year Canada will host the G8 and G20 summit. We have a moment in time. I ask the Canadian government to bury the politics, bury the ideology, do the right thing and invest in primary health care. In this way we will save the lives of women, men and children.

Marcel SimardStatements by Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Carole Lavallée Bloc Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Madam Speaker, it was with great sadness that we learned yesterday of the passing of the filmmaker and screenwriter Marcel Simard. His films included Les mots perdus, which gave voice to those suffering from aphasia, and Love-moi, one of his best known works. His last feature film, Le petit monde d'Élourdes, deals with children's distress. His works always reveal the man of action and conviction that he was, as well as his compassion.

He also founded Les Productions Virage, which enabled him to produce a number of documentaries, including À hauteur d'homme, directed by Jean-Claude Labrecque.

In my own name and on behalf of my Bloc Québécois colleagues, I wish to extend sincere condolences to his spouse, Monique Simard, with whom I had the pleasure of working in the Parti Québécois, his two daughters, his family and all his friends touched by this loss.

Aboriginal Healing FoundationStatements by Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Niki Ashton NDP Churchill, MB

Madam Speaker, in 2008 Parliament made history with its apology to residential school survivors. This moment set our country on a new path.

Healing has been an integral part of that path for aboriginal peoples. For 10 years survivors and their communities have looked to the Aboriginal Healing Foundation for healing and hope.

In communities in our region, northern Manitoba and across our country, the AHF has broken the silence around one of the darkest times in our history. Its work of counselling, creating awareness, working with young people and bringing communities together has been key to moving forward, but its work is not done.

Yet, the government's budget is silent on its support for the Aboriginal Healing Foundation which is set to fold on March 31. The AHF's work is integral to the spirit of the government's apology, integral to our journey toward truth and reconciliation.

It is not too late to do the right thing and stand by the historic commitment to aboriginal peoples and save the Aboriginal Healing Foundation.

Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political WritingStatements by Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Andrew Saxton Conservative North Vancouver, BC

Madam Speaker, I rise today to recognize the finalists of the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing. The five finalists are on Parliament Hill today. They are: John English, a former member of this place; Rudyard Griffiths; James Maskalyk; Daniel Poliquin; and Terry Gould, who is from my riding of North Vancouver.

Mr. Gould is an investigative journalist who is being honoured as a finalist for his work, Murder without Borders, which is a portrait of seven journalists who were murdered in the line of duty.

The Shaughnessy Cohen prize is a $25,000 award presented annually by the Writers' Trust of Canada to the best non-fiction book on Canadian political and social issues. The winner will be announced on Wednesday.

I congratulate all finalists and thank them for their contribution to the understanding of political issues among Canadians.

KAIROSStatements by Members

March 9th, 2010 / 2 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Madam Speaker, for nearly 40 years KAIROS has received funding to do projects in the world's poorest countries and is recognized as one of Canada's most respected charitable organizations.

Recently, four inspiring seniors came to my office committed to restoring funding to KAIROS so the organization can continue its work in aboriginal rights, climate change, corporate accountability and poverty reduction.

On January 21, 10 of the most influential national faith leaders from the Anglican, Catholic, Christian Reform, Mennonite, Presbyterian, Quaker and United churches requested a meeting with the Prime Minister to understand why his government made KAIROS a target for vicious attacks, including maliciously and wrongfully slandering the organization as anti-Semitic.

I hope that the Prime Minister will agree to meet with these faith leaders as they have requested, offer a full apology for the government's defamatory attacks and restore the politically motivated cuts.

Haitian Relief EffortsStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Patrick Brown Conservative Barrie, ON

Madam Speaker, I rise today to commend the work of Barrie residents in the Haitian relief effort.

Our schools, our city hall, our churches and our community groups have done some incredible work in raising funds. St. Joan of Arc Catholic High School in Barrie raised $2,000 which it provided to the Red Cross effort. St. John Vianney Catholic School and St. Monica's held a toonie drive. St. Mary's parish had a major fundraiser and agreed to match all the schools' donations, not to mention the matching donations of all its parishioners.

Our grade 8 students at Steele Street Public School raised over $1,000.

The Caribbean Cultural Institute in the City of Barrie in partnership with my office hosted a rally for Haiti concert, which was well attended. Kudos to the leadership of Ricardo Rowe and Quammie Williams on this project.

City of Barrie CEO Jon Babulic and several city staff came together for a hair-raising event. They raised $6,620 by shaving their heads in the Hairless for Haiti fundraiser.

The Barrie community will continue its fundraising efforts on March 18 when Noel Banavage and the Skyliners band will host a fundraiser at Barrie City Hall.

The heart of Barrie shows in these tremendous efforts.

Alexandre BilodeauStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Ménard Bloc Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Mr. Speaker, a Quebecker won the first gold medal on Canadian soil. Alexandre Bilodeau grew up in Rosemère, in a riding that bears the name of the great artist Marc-Aurèle Fortin. And Alexandre showed us that he too is a great artist.

Freestyle mogul skiing is an extremely demanding sport. His dangerous backflip with two twists, which he was the first to master, is a beautiful but dangerous jump. The rest of his run and the second jump were executed with perfect control, as though it were an easy feat.

The perfection of style gave us an aesthetic show of great beauty as well as an extraordinary sports performance. Too bad it was so short.

But it was tremendously rewarding for Alexandre, and for his family and friends who gave him so much support and encouragement.

This stunning victory revealed a charming person surrounded by an enthusiastic big brother, his best friend, an elated sister, and lovely parents, a family that has already touched our hearts.