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House of Commons Hansard #66 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was funding.

Topics

Question No. 280Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

With regard to the announcement made by Health Canada on March 19, 2010, that beverage companies will now be allowed to add to all soft drinks up to 75% of the caffeine allowed in the most highly caffeinated colas: (a) who made the decision; and (b) will the Minister of Health reverse Health Canada's decision allowing caffeine in all soft drinks?

Question No. 280Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Nunavut Nunavut

Conservative

Leona Aglukkaq ConservativeMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, in response to (a), as a food safety regulator, Health Canada is responsible for setting regulations and policies that help ensure the safety of Canada's food supply. The Food and Drug Regulations require certain substances used in food, such as food additives, to undergo a thorough safety and efficacy assessment, before they can be added to foods allowed for sale in Canada. It is only when Health Canada scientists are satisfied that food additives would not pose a risk to Canadians’ health, that Health Canada would recommend their use under specified conditions.

As a result, Health Canada issued an Interim Marketing Authorization on March 20, 2010 permitting the possible use of caffeine as a food additive in non-cola type carbonated soft drinks to a maximum level of use of 150 milligrams per litre, or parts per million. Health Canada maintained its approval of the use of caffeine as a food additive in cola-based carbonated soft drinks at a maximum level of 200 milligrams per litre, or parts per million. This Interim Marketing Authorization was signed by the Assistant Deputy Minister of Health Canada's Health Products and Food Branch through the delegated authority and approval of the Minister.

In response to (b), Health Canada scientists will continue to review the scientific data on caffeine and research findings as they become available to ensure that recommended maximum daily caffeine intake levels are based on the results of the most up to date scientific evidence.

At this time, the scientific evidence available supports the absence of health risks for the expanded authorization for caffeine use in other carbonated soft drinks.

Question No. 281Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Michelle Simson Liberal Scarborough Southwest, ON

With regard to the Department of Veterans Affairs and, more specifically, the Veterans Independence Program (VIP) and VIP expansion: (a) how many individuals received benefits from the VIP during the 2008-2009 fiscal year; (b) how many individuals received benefits from the VIP expansion during the 2008-2009 fiscal year; (c) why is the VIP expansion limited to survivors of those who had accessed the program prior to passing away; (d) how many individuals are currently excluded from the VIP expansion; and (e) what is the cost associated with allowing all survivors of Canadian veterans to access the program expansion?

Question No. 281Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Jonquière—Alma Québec

Conservative

Jean-Pierre Blackburn ConservativeMinister of Veterans Affairs and Minister of State (Agriculture)

Mr. Speaker, in response to (a), Veterans Affairs Canada estimates that there were about 106,076 veterans independence program recipients in the 2008-09 fiscal year.

In response to (b), there were an estimated 1,812 veterans independence program expansion clients.

In response to (c), 2005 amendments provided authority which allowed for lifetime continuation of housekeeping and grounds maintenance services to primary caregivers of all veterans who once received those specific services. However, with the 2008 expansion, veterans independence program housekeeping and grounds maintenance benefits were extended to a specific group of survivors of individuals who were income qualified civilians, income qualified veterans, veteran pensioners, or civilian pensioners who were not in receipt of these benefits at the time of their death.

In response to (d), Veterans Affairs Canada estimates that there were approximately 192,000 survivors who did not qualify for the veterans independence program expansion because, for example, their income exceeded the eligibility criteria.

In response to (e), the cost associated with allowing all survivors of Canadian veterans to access the program expansion is estimated at $488 million in the first year.

Question No. 282Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Michelle Simson Liberal Scarborough Southwest, ON

With respect to the Buffalo fixed-wing search and rescue aircraft which entered into service with the Canadian Armed Forces in 1967: (a) what was the original estimated operational lifespan of the aircraft; (b) how many aircraft are currently operational; (c) what is their current estimated operational lifespan; (d) what is the cost associated with maintaining the fleet for the previous fiscal year; (e) what measures are being taken to extend the operational life of the Buffalo; and (f) what are the operational capabilities of the current fleet?

Question No. 282Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, in response to (a), the original estimated operational lifespan of the Buffalo aircraft was from 1967-1982, 15 years.

In response to (b), six aircraft are currently in use.

In response to (c), the current operational lifespan of the Buffalo aircraft ends in 2015.

In response to (d), the cost of maintaining the fleet for the fiscal year 2009-10 was $19.6 million Canadian. This figure includes spare parts, the repair and overhaul of the aircraft parts or systems, contracted maintenance services and engineering services. This figure does not include the salaries of military personnel who conduct maintenance on the aircraft or operational costs, such as fuel.

In response to (e), there are currently no initiatives in place to extend the operational life of the Buffalo aircraft.

In response to (f), the CC115 Buffalo aircraft provides fixed-wing search and rescue response for the Victoria search and rescue region on Canada’s west coast. It has an operational range of 2,240 kilometres, a maximum cruising speed of 407 kilometres per hour, and a maximum payload of 2,727 kilograms. The Buffalo can search for survivors of search and rescue incidents at low altitudes, and can render assistance to survivors on the ground or in the water by dropping life-saving equipment and medical supplies as well as dispatching search and rescue technicians via parachute to provide medical care. The Buffalo aircraft is part of Canada’s combined fleet of search and rescue aircraft. The Government of Canada is currently looking at options to replace fixed-wing search and rescue assets and equip our forces with new aircraft.

Question No. 284Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Michelle Simson Liberal Scarborough Southwest, ON

With regard to the public office holders who have applied for exemptions under the Lobbying Act since its coming into force on July 2, 2008, and who were denied an exemption: (a) on what date did each individual apply for the exemption; (b) with which office was each individual employed at the time of the application; (c) on what date was each individual notified of the refusal; and (d) what was the reason for each refusal?

Question No. 284Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla B.C.

Conservative

Stockwell Day ConservativePresident of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, the Commissioner of Lobbying has the authority to grant to designated public office holders an exemption from the five-year prohibition on lobbying the federal government after they leave office, if to do so is not contrary to the purposes of the Lobbying Act. The five-year prohibition and the authority of the commissioner to grant exemptions are set out in sections 10.11 and 10.12 of the Lobbying Act.

The Lobbying Act requires that every exemption granted by the Commissioner of Lobbying be made public. As such, the names of all persons granted exemptions from the five-year prohibition and the reasons for the exemption are posted on the website of the Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying of Canada at http://www.ocl-cal.gc.ca/eic/site/lobbyist-lobbyiste1.nsf/eng/h_nx00331.html. The Lobbying Act makes no provision for the publication of information regarding applications for exemptions that are not granted. As a federal government institution, the Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying of Canada applies the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act in responding to requests regarding exemptions that are not granted.

Question No. 286Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

NDP

Megan Leslie NDP Halifax, NS

With regard to the Pre-1986/Post-1990 Hepatitis C Settlement Agreement administered by Crawford Class Action Services: (a) how many claims were approved for compensation under the Loss of Income and Dependants Fund; (b) what is the total amount Class Members are entitled to under the Loss of Income and Dependants Fund; (c) how many Class Members have had their payment under the Loss of Income and Dependants Fund withheld; (d) what is the total amount of these withheld payments; (e) how many claims under the Loss of Income and Dependants Fund remain to be processed; (f) what is the average compensation Class Members are entitled to under the Loss of Income and Dependants Fund; (g) how many claims were approved for compensation under the general compensation fund; (h) what is the total amount Class Members are entitled to under the general compensation fund; (i) how many Class Members have had their payment under the general compensation fund withheld; (j) what is the total amount of these withheld payments; (k) how many claims under the general compensation fund remain to be processed; (l) what is the average compensation Class Members are entitled to under the general compensation fund; (m) how many people did the government estimate they would have to compensate under the Loss of Income and Dependants Fund when the settlement agreement was signed; (n) what did they estimate the average claim under the Loss of Income and Dependants Fund would amount to; (o) how many people did the government estimate they would have to compensate under the general compensation fund when the settlement agreement was signed; (p) what did they estimate the average claim under the general compensation fund would amount to; (q) has Crawford Class Action Services advised the government that the Loss of Income and Dependants Fund would be insufficient to cover all approved claims and, if so, (i) when, (ii) by what amount did they indicate the Loss of Income and Dependants Fund would fall short; (r) has Crawford Class Action Services requested the courts authorize a transfer of funds from the general compensation fund to the Loss of Income and Dependants Fund and, if so, (i) when, (ii) what was the amount they requested be transferred; and (s) has Crawford Class Action Services advised the government that the general compensation fund might not be sufficient to cover all filed claims and, if so, (i) when, (ii) what was the amount by which they felt the compensation fund would fall short?

Question No. 286Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Nunavut Nunavut

Conservative

Leona Aglukkaq ConservativeMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, it is not possible to give a detailed response to each question for the following reasons: the confidential nature of the information, the terms of the court supervised settlement agreement, and the nature of how data is collected. The following provides information on the settlement agreement and the administrator’s most recent update on the funds.

On compassionate grounds, the federal government set aside $1.023 billion ($962 million for compensation, the balance for administration, legal fees and disbursements). Of the compensation amount, $93.1 million was designated for the Past Economic Loss and Dependants (PELD) fund.

The Pre-86/Post-90 class action settlement is a court supervised administration. The administrator, Crawford Class Action Services, was appointed by the courts, is supervised by the courts, and reports to the courts. The administrator is not permitted to release any information about the administration of the settlement unless authorized by the court. Authorized information about the status of claims is posted monthly on the administrator’s website: http://www.pre86post90settlement.ca/index.htm.

Compensation to eligible class members is provided for both general and economic damages. Payments to individual claimants will vary.The amounts paid reflect the disease state of class members at the time of their application, their age, any lost income, and the probability of disease progression. The agreement is designed so that those who are most sick and have suffered the most from their hepatitis C infection will receive the highest amounts of compensation, as was the case with the 1986-1990 agreement. Hepatitis C has varying effects on the human body, and the compensation plan is structured to reflect this fact.

The agreement includes schedules for calculating the amount of compensation for infected persons, their estates, family members and dependants, both for general compensation and for past loss of income. These documents are available on the administrator’s website under the heading Settlement Agreement--Appendices.

Persons infected with hepatitis C are entitled to general damages from under $10,000 to more than $400,000. The lowest amount of payment is for those who have essentially cleared hepatitis C from their blood, while the higher amounts are for those suffering from serious health effects.

Economic damages include payments for loss of income and services, uninsured medication and treatment costs, care costs and out-of-pocket expenses, compensation for funeral costs, and payments to estates and surviving family members. Subject to certain provisions and limits, eligible class members are entitled to compensation for loss of income in an amount equal to 8/11ths of 70% of their past loss of net income, indexed to inflation, for each year until they attain the age of 65 years.

The administrator’s most recent update, dated August 26, states that, as of mid-August, 15,584 claims have been received, of which 11,695 (75%) have been approved and 1,241 (8%) have been rejected, leaving 2,648 still being processed. These figures concern the total number of claims and are not separated into compensation fund and PELD fund categories. Of the $962 million set aside for compensation, $779,057,986 has been approved for payment, leaving approximately $183 million, not counting accrued interest.

The amounts designated for the PELD fund and for the main compensation fund, as well as an estimate of the number of individuals who would be compensated, were the result of a complex negotiation process between a group of lawyers representing the class members and counsel for the government, based upon underlying estimates of class size provided by class counsel.

The settlement agreement was approved by the courts of the provinces where the class actions were filed. The settlement agreement contemplates that, if the take-up rate for claims to the PELD fund is high, the administrator may exhaust the original $93.1 million. Therefore, the settlement contains a mechanism to top up the PELD fund if approved by the Court.

It is the responsibility of class counsel, not of the administrator, nor of the government, to apply to the courts to transfer money from the compensation fund to the PELD fund.

The settlement agreement sets out the requirements for the application, as well as the criteria the courts must consider in deciding whether to approve the request to transfer funds. Class counsel must demonstrate to the courts, through actuarial evidence that will be reviewed by the government, that the compensation fund is sufficient to cover all the claims, as defined in the settlement agreement, prior to transferring funds to the PELD fund. This process ensures that all claimants’ interests are protected and the federal government is following that process.

Class counsel have advised that work with their expert to conduct the necessary actuarial analysis has begun and they will be filing a motion for the transfer of funds in due course.

Question No. 287Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Rob Oliphant Liberal Don Valley West, ON

With regard to the Canada Post facility located at 2 Laird Drive in Toronto: (a) has this property been sold by Canada Post, (i) if so, on what date and what was the price Canada Post received, (ii) if not, have steps been taken to place it on the real estate market; (b) what is the current zoning for the facility; (c) besides Canada Post operations, are there any current tenants in the facility; and (d) what is the current status of the leases held by any current tenants in the facility and, if a sale takes place, (i) what changes will take place regarding their lease agreements, (ii) what notice will be provided to the current tenants?

Question No. 287Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Yellowhead Alberta

Conservative

Rob Merrifield ConservativeMinister of State (Transport)

Mr. Speaker, with regard to the Canada Post facility located at 2 Laird Drive in Toronto, in response to (a), Canada Post has not sold the facility located at 2 Laird Drive in Toronto.

In response to (i), since the property was not sold, this question is not applicable.

In response to (ii), no steps have been taken to place it on the real estate market.

In response to (b), the current zoning for the facility is CR2.2, commercial/retail zoning.

In response to (c), there are no other tenants in the facility.

In response to (d), since there are no other tenants in the facility, these questions are not applicable.

Question No. 291Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Derek Lee Liberal Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

What steps would Canada take or require as part of a process leading to its recognition of Somaliland as an independent state among the United Nations following Somaliland’s third self-governing democratic election in June 2010?

Question No. 291Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Pontiac Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, Canada recognizes the state of Somalia. The question of Somaliland's status is primarily one for Somalis to determine through peaceful processes.

Question No. 295Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

NDP

Glenn Thibeault NDP Sudbury, ON

With respect to the Credit and Debit Card Industry Code of Conduct: (a) who from the financial services industry has the Minister of Finance met with in his capacity as Minister since November 2008; (b) who from the consumer advocacy groups has the Minister of Finance met with in his capacity as Minister since November 2008; (c) who from the retailer and merchant advocacy groups has the Minister of Finance met with in his capacity as Minister since November 2008; and (d) for each meeting in (a), (b) and (c), (i) what were the dates and locations, (ii) what was discussed, (iii) which funds or programs were discussed, (iv) what were the names of all individuals present?

Question No. 295Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the government recently released the finalized version of the Code of Conduct for the Credit and Debit Card Industry in May 2010. For more information, please visit www.fin.gc.ca/n10/10-049-eng.asp.

Businesses voiced real concerns about the lack of choice they have had in accepting debit and credit card payments, and about the costs involved. These added business costs are borne by merchants and may be passed on to consumers, which makes this an issue of importance to all Canadians. The code of conduct encourages choice and competition. It gives merchants the freedom to choose which card networks they use, helps them control their costs, allows them to pass on savings to their customers, and much more.

The government is particularly pleased that it was able to work constructively and cooperatively to launch this code with the financial service industry, consumer advocacy groups, retail /merchant advocacy groups, and other public interest groups. Prior to the release of the finalized code, the Minister of Finance met with a wide range of groups and organizations to discuss the state of the credit and debit card industry in Canada. Discussions focused on key issues such as transparency, disclosure, payment card branding and co-badging, as well as business practices in the industry.

Indeed, a draft code of conduct was released for a 60-day public comment period in November 2009. For more information, please visit www.fin.gc.ca/n08/09-109-eng.asp. During that period, all Canadians were invited to submit their views on how best to monitor compliance with the proposed code. Their views were taken into account when developing the revised code of conduct, which was released in April 2010. For more information, please visit www.fin.gc.ca/n10/10-029-eng.asp, and the aforementioned finalized version in May 2010.

Following is a small sampling of the reaction to the Code of Conduct:

Retail Council of Canada: “This is a solid victory for merchants across the country and a major step toward addressing imbalances in the Canadian payments system.”

Canadian Council of Grocery Distributors: “[The Ccode] is an important win for both merchants and customers … the Government of Canada deserve a great deal of credit for taking critical steps towards developing a Canadian payments system that is competitive, fair and provides clarity for both merchants and customers.”

Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers, CFIG: “The Code of Conduct is a very positive step and we are very pleased to note that many of the concerns CFIG has raised on behalf of independent retail grocers, such as negative option billing practices, have been heard and responded to, by the government.” Canadian Federation of Independent Business, CFIB: “the[(CFIB] welcomes today's announcement … This Code, which very closely resembles the Code put forward by CFIB in mid-2009, will help increase transparency and restore fairness to small businesses and consumers in their credit and debit card transactions … Today's announcement of a finalized Code constitutes an important step and is timely as we enter the summer season that is so vital to so many businesses, especially coming out of a recession … These developments will create a better future for merchants and help ensure a fair and transparent credit and debit card market instead of just letting large industry players call all the shots. Our organization applauds the implementation of this Code which will provide merchants with greater clarity and clout in changes to the debit and credit card market.”

Option consommateurs: “enthusiastically welcomes … the new Code of Conduct for Debit and Credit Cards by the Minister of Finance. [The Finance Minister] has listened to consumers and incorporated their interests in this new code … The new code guarantees consumer choice.”

Consumers Association of Canada, “welcomed the Code.”

Interac Association: “After a comprehensive consultation period with stakeholders, the Minister has developed meaningful and practical solutions that will effectively address significant concerns that have been raised by merchants and consumers about changes taking place in Canada's debit marketplace … It is clear that (the Finance Minister) has heard the concerns of merchants and consumers, concerns that we share, and has responded with an appropriate and pragmatic Code of Conduct … Without question, the Code helps build that by re-establishing choice and transparency in the marketplace for merchants and consumers, which we support.”

TD Bank Financial: “We believe that this Code will give merchants a greater voice in the payments market, while also balancing the interests of the other participants in this industry. This Code will provide greater pricing transparency for merchants and that’s a great outcome.”

Desjardins Group: “welcomes the Code of conduct for the credit and debit card industry … Merchants will now be better informed of costs associated with accepting credit and debit card payments and will be able to freely choose which payment options they will accept … These rules will foster healthy competition among service providers in the Canadian debit and credit card market.”

Vancouver Sun editorial: “We were pleased to see the code of conduct for credit and debit card markets introduced this month by federal Finance Minister … the voluntary code is an important step toward allowing merchants to have some control over costs and to maintaining a relatively low-cost cashless purchasing alternative that benefits consumers and retailers alike while still allowing for competition between providers.”

Question No. 296Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

With respect to Canada's foreign policy: (a) what is the government's explanation for its refusal to recognize as a genocide the murder of more than 8,000 Bosnian Muslim civilians by Serbian forces and the displacement of more than 25,000 other civilians in Srebrenica, Bosnia, in 1995; and (b) will the government revisit its decision with respect to recognizing the events in (a) as a genocide and, if so, has it put in place plans to meet with members of the Bosnian Muslim diaspora?

Question No. 296Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Pontiac Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, it is inaccurate to say that Canada has refused to recognize the massacre at Srebrenica in 1995 as genocide. Canada has consistently supported the work and findings of international judicial institutions in relation to the crimes committed at Srebrenica. These include the decisions of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, ICTY, in Krstic (2001) and Popovic (2010) and the decision of the International Court of Justice in Bosnia and Herzegovina v. Serbia and Montenegro (2007), all of which held that the events that occurred in Srebrenica in 1995 constituted genocide.

The Government of Canada has referred to the Srebrenica massacre as genocide, specifically in a press release from the Minister of Foreign Affairs on July 10, 2010 commemorating the 15th anniversary of the massacre and explicitly referring to it as genocide (http://www.international.gc.ca/media/aff/news-communiques/2010/217.aspx?lang=eng).

The government would support a parliamentary resolution recognizing and commemorating the Srebrenica genocide.

Question No. 305Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Brian Murphy Liberal Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

With respect to tax evasion: (a) after receiving the names of Canadians with bank accounts in Liechtenstein from German authorities, what action has been taken by Canadian officials to recover unpaid taxes associated with undeclared bank accounts in Liechtenstein; (b) how many Canadians have been identified as having undeclared bank accounts in Liechtenstein; (c) how many identified Canadians with accounts in Liechtenstein have availed of the voluntary disclosure program with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA); (d) how many identified Canadians with accounts in Liechtenstein have settled with the CRA; (e) how many Canadian account holders have been charged with tax evasion; and (f) how much money, including unpaid taxes, fines, etc., has the CRA recovered as a result of investigating these secret bank accounts in Liechtenstein?

Question No. 305Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Fredericton New Brunswick

Conservative

Keith Ashfield ConservativeMinister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, the response from the Canada Revenue Agency, CRA, is as follows: In response to (a), since receiving the names of the residents of Canada identified as having bank accounts in Liechtenstein, the CRA is continuing compliance actions on all originally identified taxpayers related to the Liechtenstein accounts. Twenty-six audit cases have been completed.

The CRA is continuing to work collaboratively with other countries to address the abusive use of tax havens, aggressive tax planning and many other instances where taxpayers may be conducting affairs aimed at tax avoidance and evasion. As part of this work, the CRA continues to exchange information with other countries as permitted by legislation and tax treaties.

As a participating member of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, OECD, Canada actively seeks ways to effectively deal with the abusive use of tax havens.

The CRA is also an active member of the Joint International Tax Shelter Information Centre, JITSIC, and the Seven Country Working Group on Tax Havens.

In response to (b), based on information provided to the CRA, as of June 10, 2010, 106 residents of Canada who have accounts in Liechtenstein had been identified.

In response to (c), as of June 10, 2010, 20 residents of Canada who have accounts in Liechtenstein had availed themselves of the CRA's voluntary disclosures program.

In response to (d), up to June 10, 2010, of the 106 identified residents of Canada with accounts in Liechtenstein, 26 cases have been completed involving 68 individuals.

In response to (e), no Canadian account holders have been charged with tax evasion.

In response to (f), as of June 10, 2010, the CRA had reassessed 26 cases involving 68 individuals for a total of approximately $5.2 million in federal tax, interest and penalties. With the exception of files under appeal, all taxpayers have paid in full or made substantial payments against outstanding balances.

Question No. 306Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Brian Murphy Liberal Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

With respect to Free Trade Agreements: (a) how many negotiators, if any, have been retained from outside of the government to represent Canada in current trade negotiations; and (b) has the government considered or implemented plans to undertake a review of the Canada-Peru Free Trade Agreement in 2014 to evaluate the trade implications for Canada?

Question No. 306Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeMinister of International Trade

Mr. Speaker, in response to (a), no negotiators have been retained from outside the federal government to represent Canada in current trade negotiations.

In response to (b), the Government of Canada has neither considered nor implemented at this time any plan to undertake a review of the Canada-Peru Free Trade Agreement to evaluate its trade implications for Canada.

Question No. 307Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Brian Murphy Liberal Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

With respect to the First Report of the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs from the 2nd Session of the 40th Parliament and recommendation number nine found therein: (a) what criteria did the government use in its decision to not implement this recommendation; (b) what was the policy rationale for the decision; and (c) is the government considering any similar information sharing arrangements to better identify veterans and their families?

Question No. 307Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Jonquière—Alma Québec

Conservative

Jean-Pierre Blackburn ConservativeMinister of Veterans Affairs and Minister of State (Agriculture)

Mr. Speaker, Veterans Affairs Canada fully supports efforts to ensure that Veterans and their families have access and information to Veterans Affairs Canada’s programs, services, eligibility, and application processes.

When the parliamentary committee report entitled “Shared Experiences: Comparisons of Veterans Services Offered by Members of the Commonwealth and the G8” was received by Veterans Affairs Canada, consultations were held with the Canada Revenue Agency. These consultations resulted in Canada Revenue Agency’s confirmation that the focus of Canada Revenue Agency forms is on tax and benefit programs administered by the Canada Revenue Agency only.

In response to (a), the criteria used in the decision not to pursue the inclusion of a veteran identifier on tax forms were: privacy, legal authority, effectiveness, and sustainable development commitments.

In response to (b), he inclusion of non-tax questions, or requests for information not related to benefits administered by the Canada Revenue Agency, may result in breaches of privacy. Veterans Affairs Canada offers many services and benefits to veterans which are based on various eligibility criteria. While some benefits, including war veterans allowance and earnings loss benefits, are dependent upon an individual’s income, there are other eligibility criteria for these programs which would not be captured on tax forms, and are still required by Veterans Affairs Canada.

The majority of Veterans Affairs Canada benefits are not dependent upon income. To collect information about individuals where it is not required for an operational program may be a breach of the individual’s privacy.

In addition, the increase of information in Canada Revenue Agency forms and guides may result in larger documents, which run contrary to the paper burden reduction initiative, and other sustainable development commitments.

The identification of an individual as a veteran and information about income levels is not sufficient to meet the eligibility criteria for Veterans Affairs Canada programs and services. The Canada Revenue Agency web site currently links to the Veterans Affairs Canada web site to facilitate information sharing on benefits and services offered by Veterans Affairs Canada.

In response to (c), the identification alone of a veteran to Veterans Affairs Canada does not automatically result in the veteran’s eligibility for Veterans Affairs Canada programs and services. The department has outreach activities to provide information to Canadian Forces members, veterans and their families about the services and benefits available from the department. The outreach describes eligibility to all programs and services including the New Veterans Charter programs.

This outreach is accomplished in various ways including the distribution of printed materials, the publication of articles in periodicals, Veterans Affairs Canada’s own Salute! newsletter, briefings with Canadian Forces members, veterans, family members, and the general public. Outreach also includes the use of social networking sites on the internet, and Veterans Affairs Canada staff co-located with the Department of National Defence case managers on major bases in integrated personnel support units.

The department also partners with veterans organizations and other groups to provide information to individuals about benefits and application processes. An expanded outreach on the New Veterans Charter programs is currently under way.

Question No. 308Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

With respect to Quai Richelieu in Lacolle, under the responsibility of the Canada Border Services Agency, and the risks it poses to the safety of ships and boaters: (a) does the Minister of Public Safety intend to intervene so that safe and lasting solutions are taken together with boaters and users of the facilities in the near future; (b) is work planned or scheduled to (i) improve the safety of ladders, railings and handrails, (ii) take protective measures to prevent falls on the hard surfaces leading to the office, (iii) make contrasting strips by painting the steps and landings of the Quai Richelieu; and (c) what is, if applicable, the deadline for each of the projects described in (b)?