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House of Commons Hansard #5 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

EmploymentOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Once again, Mr. Speaker, this government has funded very well the essential services of Canadians and will continue to do so.

In terms of tax policy, there are a number of measures in the budget to make sure that everybody pays their fair share of taxes. I would encourage the leader of the NDP and his caucus to actually read the budget on those matters before deciding to vote against it.

EmploymentOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Toronto—Danforth Ontario

NDP

Jack Layton NDPLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, it was actually a short read because the changes were highlighted in blue. I read through it in about 30 minutes.

We have seen this something for nothing approach before. Should we be surprised? The former parliamentary secretary for national defence said that he hoped there would be higher unemployment because that would make it easier to bring on people for the army.

Would the Prime Minister tell us whether he agrees with such an insult to the 1.4 million unemployed Canadians? Would he set the record straight that he does not accept higher unemployment so that more people can be recruited to our armed services?

EmploymentOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, one of the many strong job creations in this budget is a measure called helmets to hardhats, specifically to help former members of the Canadian military find job opportunities in the workforce. I would encourage the leader of the NDP to take his blinders off to vote for these kinds of positive measures, instead of voting against veterans of the Canadian army.

HealthOral Questions

June 8th, 2011 / 2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, just a few short weeks ago, the premier of Ontario, Mr. McGuinty, made a major speech to the people of Ontario about the state of health care and his concerns about the future of the health care accord with the federal government. Premier McGuinty asked particularly that the Prime Minister begin now the negotiations with the provinces about the renewal of the health accord. I have not heard from the Prime Minister about that.

I wonder if the Prime Minister could tell the House what he intends to do to bring the provinces together to improve health care in Canada.

HealthOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, of course, the health accord comes up for renewal in 2014. That is not this year or next year or even the year after that. However, I do look forward to discussing this matter with the premier of Ontario in the future, whomever that may be.

HealthOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, the problem is that the future starts now. Premier McGuinty is not the only one calling on the federal government to take a positive approach. All of the provinces want to see a different attitude from the federal government when it comes to health and consulting with the provinces in general.

Why is the government intent on maintaining this unilateral federalism that does not benefit all of Canada?

HealthOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the leader of the Liberal Party is talking about our approach to federalism. When the Liberals were in power, they cut health transfers to the provinces by 30%. Under our government, health transfers have increased by over 30%. That is the Conservative difference.

HealthOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Hedy Fry Liberal Vancouver Centre, BC

Mr. Speaker, the recent report of the Health Council of Canada cites lack of federal leadership for the failure to establish a national pharmaceutical strategy, which is a key goal of the 2004 health accord. Yet the budget makes no mention of this critical program.

The success of the health accord depends on collaboration between the federal and provincial governments.

Will the minister stop passing the buck to the provinces and tell this house what her government will do to establish a pharmaceutical strategy?

HealthOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Colin Carrie ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, our government recognizes the importance of affordable access to drugs as part of a quality health care system, and we work with the provinces and territories, who are responsible, by the way, for deciding which drugs are publicly covered.

That is why we have consistently increased transfers to the provinces and territories by over 30% since we formed government, so they can continue to meet the health care needs of their residents.

The BudgetOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, in his latest budget, the Minister of Finance told Canadians to expect $17 billion in cuts. The problem is that he did not bother to tell us what specific areas will be affected by these cuts. Now people are worried, and rightfully so, that they will lose services and programs that are important to them.

Can the Minister of Finance tell us where the cuts will be made? Can he promise Canadians that the programs and services they rely on will not be cut?

The BudgetOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, if the member has an opportunity, he should read pages 182 and 183 of the budget document that was tabled on Monday, which outline the process for the strategic and operating review, looking at the operating expenses of government and the Government of Canada, a large organization.

A review of the operating expenses has not been done in more than 15 years. It is high time it was accomplished in order to cut out some of the fat and unnecessary spending in government.

The BudgetOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, people have the right to know where these cuts will be made, particularly if their safety and well-being will be affected.

We learned yesterday that cuts have already been made to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. What next? Food safety, public health, airport security?

People have cause to be worried.

Can the minister assure us that none of the other cuts will affect the safety and well-being of Canadians?

The BudgetOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the process to be undertaken will commence soon. Chaired by my colleague, the President of the Treasury Board, a special committee of cabinet will do a careful review. The committee will not slash and burn, as the Liberal government did in 1995-96 with the provinces, the territories and individuals in Canada. We will maintain the transfer payments to the provinces and territories. We will maintain the transfer payments to individuals in Canada, to seniors, to persons with disabilities. However, we will look carefully at the cost of delivering government services and productivity in government at the operating--

The BudgetOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order, please.

The hon. member for New Westminster—Coquitlam.

Fisheries and OceansOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Fin Donnelly NDP New Westminster—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, last night, while people around the world prepared for World Oceans Day, Canadians learned that their government was planning to slash funding for the protection and conservation of fisheries and oceans. These cuts ignore our responsibility to protect the world's longest coastline. Has the government forgotten when our fisheries were brought to the brink of disaster?

Will the minister see reason and commit to cancelling the planned cuts to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans?

Fisheries and OceansOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Fredericton New Brunswick

Conservative

Keith Ashfield ConservativeMinister of Fisheries and Oceans and Minister for the Atlantic Gateway

Mr. Speaker, a strategic review is an opportunity for the department to assess the performance of all of its programs. It also allows us to ensure that we are responding to the priorities of Canadians and the strong mandate that Canadians gave us. We have a responsibility to taxpayers to spend their money prudently and where it will do the most good. We must ensure that government programs are efficient, effective and achieving the expected results for Canadians. We believe that DFO is at a critical period in developing its programs and policies to meet the needs of the new fisheries and oceans management for today and the future.

Fisheries and OceansOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Philip Toone NDP Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative government is making decisions that will compromise the safety of Quebeckers. We have learned that the government will be closing maritime search and rescue centres in Quebec in order to centralize operations in Halifax. And it is all in the name of saving money instead of saving lives.

Does the minister realize that these services that protect the public are more effective when they are provided in the region where they are needed?

Fisheries and OceansOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Fredericton New Brunswick

Conservative

Keith Ashfield ConservativeMinister of Fisheries and Oceans and Minister for the Atlantic Gateway

Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned, we received a strong mandate from Canadians to implement our budget proposals and deficit reduction measures. The decision to close the call centre will save taxpayer dollars without impacting the safety of people while, at the same time, still providing bilingual services. New communications technologies exist that now permit search and rescue call centre employees to provide the same high-quality service from a central call centre. Existing search and rescue helicopters and vessels will remain where they are currently based.

Fisheries and OceansOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

NDP

Ryan Cleary NDP St. John's South—Mount Pearl, NL

Mr. Speaker, when the hon. member for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke said last February that Newfoundlanders should look after themselves when it came to search and rescue, Canadians were shocked. No one realized that this would actually become Conservative government policy.

Closing the maritime rescue sub-centre in St. John's will endanger people's lives. Will the minister commit to reversing this dangerous decision and show he is serious about the safety of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians?

Fisheries and OceansOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Fredericton New Brunswick

Conservative

Keith Ashfield ConservativeMinister of Fisheries and Oceans and Minister for the Atlantic Gateway

Mr. Speaker, of course, safety is a primary issue when it comes to Canadians and all of the services that we provide. This call centre reduction will in no way impact the safety of Canadians and, at the same time, will provide efficiencies as well as savings of Canadian taxpayers' money.

Fisheries and OceansOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

NDP

Jack Harris NDP St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, this is not a call centre. The St. John's maritime rescue coordination centre handles over 500 incidents a year, involving almost 3,000 people at risk. It depends on local knowledge to save 600 lives each year.

The government has decided to spend billions on corporate tax giveaways. To pay for it, it seems willing to endanger the lives of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

Will the government agree right now to reverse this most shameful decision?

Fisheries and OceansOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Fredericton New Brunswick

Conservative

Keith Ashfield ConservativeMinister of Fisheries and Oceans and Minister for the Atlantic Gateway

Mr. Speaker, as I said, there is no way that we would make a decision that would have an impact on the safety of any Canadian.

Existing search and rescue resources, including helicopters and vessels, will remain where they are currently based. The call centre function can be provided from a central location, saving dollars as we exercise our commitment to Canadians to reduce our deficit.

National DefenceOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

NDP

Dany Morin NDP Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

Mr. Speaker, a report by the Vice Chief of the Defence Staff reveals that the government is considering reducing the number of contractors and reservists by 5% annually. During the recent campaign, the NDP committed to maintaining the National Defence budget in all regions, including mine, Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean.

Can the Conservatives do this and still assure Canadian Forces members and civilian staff in Bagotville that they will not be affected by these cuts?

National DefenceOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Ajax—Pickering Ontario

Conservative

Chris Alexander ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question.

I would like to remind the House of this government's record: over the past five years, the defence budget was increased by at least $1 billion a year, and reservists and civilian staff are included in that budget.

Of course, there will be operational cuts in this year's budget, but that growth and those increases remain part of this government's record and we are very proud of it.

National DefenceOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

NDP

Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, my question is also about the government's threat to cut defence jobs across the country.

In my riding, there are more than 6,000 regular and reserve officers and more than 2,500 civilians who serve our country every day at CFB Esquimalt. This base contributes over $600 million a year to our regional economy.

Will the government commit today to stopping these defence cuts that are creating so much uncertainty in my community? Will the government assure the House that no cuts will be made that would affect the operations of our six coastal defence vessels based at Esquimalt?