Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to speak today on Bill C-14, an act to provide borrowing authority for the government for the upcoming fiscal year.
The borrowing authority is based on the financial requirements set out in the budget delivered by the Minister of Finance last Tuesday. The critics have been unfair and often contradictory in their assessment of the bill. Criticism is easy. Hard work and tough choices are not.
The budget presented Canadians both with a vision and a balanced approach to deal with our financial problems. This balanced approach of deficit reduction, economic renewal and social reforms contains all elements of the government's top priorities: jobs and growth.
I would like to discuss deficit reduction. During prebudget consultations Canadians told the government that the deficit should be reduced by cuts to spending, not by increasing or introducing new taxes. There are no new taxes in the budget. Clearly the budget signals the end to tax and spend government.
Over the next three years more than $3 billion will be cut in government operational spendings over and above the cuts of the 1993 budget. The salary freeze for public servants will be extended for two years and applies to all politicians. Budgets for ministers' offices have been reduced by $13 million annually. There will also be a review of every government appointed agency, board and commission.
There have been cuts to all areas but defence has received some of the most intense scrutiny and criticism. There are those who have tried to turn these closures into a regional or a language issue or use them to support their own agenda. This is truly unfortunate. We all have to share the pain. In my riding the closing of the Angus depot will have implications for future rail service to the area and for the local economy. Everyone is calling for spending cuts as long as they do not affect them. We must all share in the difficult decisions.
The budget has employed other measures to reduce the deficit. Subsidies to businesses have been cut in excess of $225 million as set out in the red book. Also numerous tax loopholes have been closed which will target incentives better and bring greater fairness to the tax system.
As part of the government's balanced approach focus has been given to economic renewal. The Canada infrastructure works program has received considerable attention. In my riding of Wellington-Grey-Dufferin-Simcoe there are over 30 municipalities including county governments. Critics of the infrastructure program say that the municipal governments cannot afford the program. I find it strange, with all the municipalities in my riding, that none have indicated a plan to take less than full advantage of the opportunity provided to them.
Why should they not? Thirty-three cent dollars are better than any other arrangement they have been able to work out with a senior level government. The infrastructure program is one of the first concrete examples we have seen in many years of a recognition of federal government responsibility to lower tier governments. In many municipalities economic recovery cannot begin without upgrades to the infrastructure. In my riding, for instance, the town of Mount Forest where I live cannot issue any further building permits; no new houses or industries can be constructed without upgrades to the municipality's sanitary
sewer system. The spinoff effects of this program are twofold: first, the construction jobs created by the building of the improved sewer facility and, second, the jobs that will be generated by the subsequent growth that can now take place.
A number of other initiatives will lead the economic growth: a rollback of the unemployment insurance premium rate to the 1993 level for 1995 and 1996, saving businesses $300 million a year that can be reinvested in new jobs; a Canadian technology network to help small businesses gain access to new technologies; making the homeowner's plan permanent; and allowing first time home buyers to use RRSPs to buy homes.
One of the most important initiatives is the improvements being made for access to capital, specifically a Canadian investment fund to provide venture capital for innovative companies, and specific plans to work with banks to establish a code of conduct for small business lending, allowing entrepreneurs a recourse for unfair rejections of their applications.
I wish to turn to the third component of the budget, reforming Canada's social programs. Many of Canada's social programs such as unemployment insurance and welfare were created decades ago and no longer meet today's needs. The primary objective is to ensure the programs are reoriented toward helping Canadians enter the workforce and away from dependency. We have already seen some experiments aimed at revitalizing our social programs taking place in the provinces.
The government will provide $800 million to test innovative reform proposals to help give unemployed Canadians the practical skills they need for real long term jobs. The method the government plans to use to revitalize these programs will be the same as for prebudget consultations: open. The government is making the review process a co-operative one, ensuring input from all provinces and from all stakeholders.
The three components of deficit reduction, economic growth and social reform are the components of the balanced approach taken by the government. The steps introduced are the foundation upon which we can build to ensure jobs and growth in the Canadian economy.
I am under no illusion that despite the initiatives taken by the government we are still faced with certain realities. The bill before the House is indicative of the problems we are facing. The bill contains the basic principles of a borrowing bill: authority to cover financial requirements for the 1994-95 fiscal year and a contingency reserve. In total the government is requesting the authority to borrow a sum of $34.3 billion. This figure is part of the government's realistic approach to deficit reduction. The deficit will be reduced from the current $45.7 billion to $39.7 billion in the 1994-95 year and $32.7 billion the year after that.
The measures in the budget set us on a clear path to achieve our interim deficit target of 3 per cent of the GDP within three years. The budget delivers on many of the promises set out in the red book. It has laid the foundation to deliver on more. I ask members of the House to support the bill.