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House of Commons Hansard #23 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was money.

Topics

Jobs and Economic Growth ActGovernment Orders

6:25 p.m.

Conservative

Stephen Woodworth Conservative Kitchener Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, every so often, the real facts must be given. I will do so in English.

This budget commits $11 million per year in ongoing resources for the 67 Community Futures organizations in Quebec. In addition, this budget confirms $19 billion in new federal stimulus under year two of Canada's economic action plan, including job-creating projects in Quebec, from $50 million to improve the Jacques Cartier and Champlain bridges, to $18 million to improve passenger rail service between western Labrador and northeastern Quebec.

Quebec will continue to receive increased federal support. Total transfers will hit $19.3 billion, an increase of $281 million from last year and $6.8 billion more than the old Liberal government.

Why does my hon. colleague not support these benefits for Quebec?

Jobs and Economic Growth ActGovernment Orders

6:25 p.m.

Bloc

Paule Brunelle Bloc Trois-Rivières, QC

Madam Speaker, we are definitely voting against this budget. For Quebec, we are talking about tens of millions of dollars, but for Alberta, we are talking about billions of dollars. As far as I am concerned, I pay my taxes in all fairness based on my income. I expect a government to manage its revenues like a good parent and distribute funds fairly based on the population's needs.

I find this budget very disappointing. Even if they send us millions of dollars, if that money is poorly allocated, the problem will not be solved. We must listen to the people.

Jobs and Economic Growth ActGovernment Orders

6:25 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, all day the government members have been hiding from this debate. We have not seen any government speakers at all get up to defend their 880 page budget implementation bill. We see the odd one sneak in with some notes from above to ask a planted question and then they retreat.

I am looking forward to asking a government speaker, when and if they ever get up to speak on this particular bill, to justify the atrocious salaries that the bank presidents earned last year on profits of $15.9 billion. We have bank presidents making upwards of $10 million a year. I would like to know when the current government will come in with some guidelines that are being--

Jobs and Economic Growth ActGovernment Orders

6:25 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

Order, please. The hon. member for Trois-Rivières has 30 seconds to respond or to make a comment.

Jobs and Economic Growth ActGovernment Orders

6:25 p.m.

Bloc

Paule Brunelle Bloc Trois-Rivières, QC

Madam Speaker, we can certainly criticize bank presidents' salaries, but the Bloc Québécois has also suggested higher tax rates for the leaders of large corporations, the managers who receive bonuses and golden parachutes for their retirement. Greater responsibility needs to be taken in that regard.

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

6:30 p.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Madam Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge a sad anniversary. Three months ago today, Haiti was struck by a devastating earthquake. Today, on April 12, three months later, we are in a situation that seems to be getting worse.

The day after this disaster, we understood that the government was going to make search and rescue operations its priority. Everyone agrees on that. However, two weeks later, when that operation officially ended, I met with representatives of the Department of Citizenship and Immigration to provide them, in a very orderly fashion, with information they already had. Before the earthquake, 39 Haitian families from Ottawa—Vanier had already sponsored members of their families for reunification. Since the government had announced its intention to accelerate the process, I thought it was a good idea to provide them with the documents again.

When the House resumed on March 12, I asked the government whether it planned to be as flexible as the Government of Quebec was in temporarily broadening the definition of family member, namely in terms of age. This allowed Canadian citizens of Haitian origin to sponsor and bring into the country people who are now alone, perhaps cousins or people related in some other way to them. I did not get an answer. I think the parliamentary secretary to the minister did not understand my question because there has been no response. That is why I am here today.

I would like to take this time to expand on two other subjects. First, I would like to discuss the refugees arriving from Haiti whose claims have not yet been processed. Many of them have children in Haiti. The government did not waste time bringing orphans here to be adopted by Canadian families not of Haitian origin, and we should acknowledge that it did well in that respect. But what is it doing about people in Canada as refugees whose claims have not yet been processed and who have children in Haiti? These people are not even being allowed to sponsor their own children, who are living in tents in utterly horrifying conditions.

I would like to know if the government is even thinking about these people, about helping them and relaxing the rules.

My second question is about the 140,000 Canadians of Haitian origin, some 130,000 of whom are in Quebec, I am told. Thus, the vast majority of our fellow citizens of Haitian origin are governed by a more flexible system that enables them to take action for their loved ones who are living in impossible situations in Haiti. The other 10,000 who live outside Quebec, many of them in the national capital region in Ontario, find themselves in the devastating position of having to consider moving to Quebec so they can help their family members.

When the government said that it was not prepared to be flexible, did it consider the repercussions of that position on these citizens who live in the same country but are subject to two completely different systems? One system is flexible and responsive; it prioritizes human nature and reflects a strong desire to take action. The other system cannot or will not afford a little flexibility toward the other 10,000 citizens.

Has the government considered what these people are going through?

6:30 p.m.

St. Catharines Ontario

Conservative

Rick Dykstra ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

Madam Speaker, since the earthquake in Haiti this past January, our government has acted swiftly to evacuate more than 4,600 Canadian citizens and permanent residents from Haiti.

To date. over 2,200 applications for more than 3,300 people received after the earthquake are in various stages of being processed. As well, more than 3,000 people have attended information sessions held in Quebec and organized by the CIC regional office to explain the special measures to the Haitian community and others.

Priority processing has taken place based on five specific categories: first, family class sponsorships; second, spouse or common law partner in Canada class applications; third, protected persons with family members in Haiti; fourth, citizenship and citizenship certificates; and fifth, in-Canada applications for work permit or to extend temporary resident status.

We are working to get people to Canada as quickly as we possibly can.

By the end of June 2010, we expect to have finalized the vast majority of the applications submitted before the earthquake. This means that CIC would be processing in six months what would normally take two years.

For all cases where we have received both a completed sponsorship and permanent resident application since the earthquake, we aim to make a preliminary decision within four weeks of receipt. If required, interviews will be held within eight weeks from the preliminary decision and. in most cases. a final decision will be made shortly thereafter. This is because it may take some additional time to conduct the medical and background screening for some of these applicants.

We will continue to apply our common sense principles to this tragic situation. Urgent cases involving vulnerable people will continue to receive priority processing by the embassy. For example, for completed sponsorship and permanent resident applications received by April 30, we expect to have held an interview and either have made or be about to make a final decision on most of the cases by the end of July 2010.

The highest processing priority remains on the closest family members and urgent and exceptional cases. We know the importance of reuniting people with their close family members. Other members of the family class and applicants who meet the requirements of the Quebec special measures are also being processed in a timely fashion.

Our expectation is that the vast majority of persons in our highest priority would be in receipt of the required decisions and documents to come forward to Canada by the end of July of this year.

6:35 p.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Madam Speaker, I still have not received an answer to the question I have been asking since March 12. Is the Government of Canada prepared to be more flexible with respect to the 10,000 Canadians of Haitian origin, some of whom have submitted family class applications that do not meet current criteria?

Is it prepared to be more flexible as the Government of Quebec has been? If it is not, is it willing to refund the thousands of dollars in application fees paid by people who do not have the means to pay given that the government never intended to accept them?

Will the government be more flexible? If not, will it reimburse the people who have paid thousands of dollars for nothing?

6:35 p.m.

Conservative

Rick Dykstra Conservative St. Catharines, ON

Madam Speaker, there is no government that has shown more flexibility in terms of working with a country that has had as vast a devastation as Haiti has.

Whether we talk about the issues that are on the table here today or whether we talk specifically about, for example, operation stork, which brought 203 adopted Haitian children to their Canadian families, we did that process, which would normally take up to a year, in very quick time. It would take up to a year to do what we did in three weeks.

We have processed over 2,200 applications for more than 3,300 people received after the earthquake, which are in various stages of being processed. By the end of June, we expect to have made a final decision on the vast majority of applications submitted before the earthquake.

We are working with Quebec to implement their special measures program, and we are working closely to reunite families as quickly as we possibly can.

6:40 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly the House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m. pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 6:40 p.m.)