Mr. Speaker, we have heard many fine suggestions from all sides of the House during this debate and I would like, if I may, to approach the matter from a slightly different angle.
We have been told many times and it has been expressed in many different ways that now is the hour of revision. We must examine the old ways and find new ones if we are to live within our means and still provide for the needy in society. We can never abandon those who need help. We must reduce our spending while preserving those social programs that have made Canada the envy of the world.
I do not believe we have to slash and burn. I believe we can retain the essentials right across the board if we define a new understanding between government and many of the special interest organizations that receive public funds. If those who can
take less were to do so there would be more for government to give where the need is greatest.
I have the opportunity to examine the published public accounts between 1991 and 1993. I have been singularly impressed by the way in which previous governments have financially supported all manner of worthy organizations, especially those specifically constituted to promoting specific causes such as organizations to preserve French outside Quebec, organizations to preserve English in Quebec, to further labour education, to raise the profile of women, to argue the dangers of smoking, to advance the cause of day care, to preserve minority cultures. The list is long for the worthy causes are many.
The difficulty is that most of these organizations rely on the federal government for funding, $50,000 here, $20,000 there, $30,000 here, $40,000 there. The money spent viewed across many ministries runs into the hundreds of millions of dollars.
Let me give some examples. Understand that in doing so, I do not mean to disparage the organizations mentioned. All have valid messages. All have enormous commitment. All have hundreds, thousands, even millions of supporters.
Last year the Canadian Labour Congress received $4 million to further labour education. Other labour union groups received an additional $3 million for the same purpose. Meanwhile, to be entirely fair, the national headquarters of the Chamber of Commerce received $1.6 million. In every instance it is a lot of money. The point is the CLC, the other unions and the Chamber of Commerce have large paying memberships which believe in what these organizations stand for. It cannot but strike one as odd that the taxpayer is also supporting them.
The National Action Committee for the Status of Women also has incredible support, millions of supporters. It receives $300,000 in federal money with another $700,000 going to regional and provincial affiliates. This too is a lot of money. By way of contrast, the Girl Guides of Canada received $15,000, one of the lowest awards of hundreds.
Another example is the Smoking and Health Action Foundation, one of the most prominent anti-smoking lobbies in Canada, received $415,000 in federal and provincial grants. It received nothing from members. It did, however, pay $400,821 in salary and benefits to its eight full-time staff members. It is a generous employer.
My question is if an organization has broad grass roots support why does it not rely on that support financially? Why does it not appeal to the people who share its ideals to give a dime or a dollar?
The girl guides sell cookies, churches pass plates, political parties have fund raising barbecues and dinners. It would be a scandal for sure if the hon. members of the Bloc required federal money to finance their agenda of separatism. Are they any less idealistic, less motivated than the many other advocacy and special interest organizations that now receive public money?
There are hundreds of organizations, large and small, taking from the taxpayer when they could be, possibly they should be, raising all the money they need by themselves. My challenge to these organizations is turn your back on government funding. Prove to Canadians that your issues are so strong, so vital that like-minded people will get behind all your programs and they will spare that dime, they will spare that dollar.
The reality of today is government's cannot afford to finance organizations that should be able to finance themselves. We must spend on those individuals who are most in need, those who do not fall into some convenient catch word, those who are without strong voices and yet who are crying for help, the poor or the young, the tens of thousands under the age of 25 who are without jobs and with no prospects. We need to save money to save them.