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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was forces.

Last in Parliament May 2004, as Liberal MP for York Centre (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2000, with 71% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Pensions March 8th, 1994

Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member for advance notice of the question.

Over the years in addition to statutory deductions made from the payroll there have been numerous requests with respect to charitable organizations, social recreation associations, credit unions, et cetera, for deductions to be made at source. It is to the point where it has stretched the limit of our personnel resources to be able to cope with them.

My officials have undertaken a comprehensive review of these deductions requested by third parties. That review is just about complete and will be coming shortly to my attention. We will certainly take into consideration the concerns of the pensioners from the armed forces group and others who have very worthwhile causes and terrific needs to be met on behalf of former employees.

Supply March 8th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I am astounded at "understood to be a given" that equality exists in the country. Unfortunately there have been a lot of barriers for visible minorities, women and disabled and aboriginal people. They have not had the opportunities.

We have a composition in the public service that in past has not represented the composition in the population. There have been barriers to employment and barriers in terms of pay opportunities. These are facts that do exist and have been substantiated time and time again by many studies.

We are simply trying to break down those barriers. I never said quotas. I never used the word quotas at all. I talked about training. How do you equate training and quotas? Training is to help people. Training is provided for all people, men, women and all of the target groups I talked about today, training to help prepare them for jobs that can help them to rise higher in the service, to be able to perform to the best of their abilities.

Surely there is nothing wrong with that. How does the member equate that to quotas? I never said anything about quotas. We are trying to prepare people to do the best they can, to be able to advance in the public service and to give them the kind of training and support they need so that we will have an even bigger talent pool to draw from when we need to advance people. That surely is going to be to the benefit of the people of the country in terms of the public service we would provide.

Supply March 8th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I used those statistics to indicate that we have advanced a fair bit. I also said at the point where I gave those statistics to the House that we still have a long way to go.

Obviously we want to put the most qualified people in all of our jobs. We want to make sure that those who have experienced barriers to those opportunities have those barriers removed in order to provide the kind of training and preparation that is necessary to give them every opportunity to be able to advance into those ranks.

The statistics indicate that we have come a fair direction but we still have a fair direction to go. I certainly would welcome the hon. member and any other member of the House giving suggestions and ideas about how we might better achieve that.

This has been a learning process for all of us over the years. Perhaps it has been rather slow in appearance to many people, perhaps these changes have been too slow to come about. Certainly there is an increasing acceleration, as the statistics indicate. On top of that, there is a greater awareness and desire to find new mechanisms, new methods and new means of training and preparation for providing, as I said in my remarks, that pool of people from all of the different employment equity groups-women, aboriginals, disabled and visible minorities-in order to have a public service that better reflects the composition of our population.

Supply March 8th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity this motion gives me to salute International Women's Day. It is important for the House to mark this day and to recognize the significant progress that has been made in Canada over the years toward greater equality of women and men.

So, I am very grateful to have an opportunity to mark International Women's Day.

I can assure hon. members of my government's commitment to continued progress in the field of equality. That commitment is clear from our red book "Creating Opportunity". Whether we talk of women and health, or of streets that are safe for women, or of day care, the underlying principle is one of equality between women and men.

Basic to all progress is the prosperity of Canada, and pleased is the minister responsible for infrastructure to be implementing, in co-operation with other levels of government, a program that will put many Canadians to work. Directly and indirectly this program will contribute in the short term and through long lasting benefits, to the economic growth which will ensure the greater equality of men and women.

I want to talk today most especially about employment equity within the federal public service and particularly about employment equity and women.

In this context, I would like to pay tribute to a particular woman, namely my parliamentary secretary.

Members of the House will be aware Treasury Board has legislated responsibility for employment equity within the public service because of the persistence of my parliamentary secretary, the hon. member for Ottawa West. She was in very large measure responsible for ensuring that the Public Service Reform Act passed in December 1992 contained an amendment providing specifically for employment equity.

This amendment is important in its own right because it will advance employment equity throughout the public service. It has however a further importance. The Government of Canada has an obligation to serve, I would suggest, as an example in such matters of great significance. The amendment conveys a message to all Canadians, women and men, that equity in employment is crucial to the full economic and social development of Canada.

The law sets out four designated groups that have encountered employment barriers. These are women, aboriginal peoples, persons with disabilities and visible minorities. Women are a designated group in their own right, but they are about half of those other three groups as well.

If we discuss employment equity for aboriginal peoples we include aboriginal women. Progress for women as a whole must also be progress for any group that is disadvantaged.

The point of employment equity in the public service is to increase the representation of members of designated groups in those jobs in which they are currently represented to a lesser extent than their participation in the Canadian labour force.

It was a Liberal government that introduced one of the first programs designed to achieve this goal within the public service. The special measures program, as it is called, put in place in 1983-84 has contributed in a major way to increasing the number of women, and of men and women of the three other designated groups within the public service. The special measures program has continued over the years as a motor of the employment equity program.

Last December I had the honour to preside over a meeting of Treasury Board that approved the continuation of this program over the course of the next four fiscal years. In total almost $70 million will be allocated to the new special measures initiative program as it is now called.

I strongly believe that the renewed program will help to ensure employment equity within the public service.

Two particular programs have been of importance to women. First, the women's career counselling and referral bureau of the Public Service Commission counsels women who have the potential to rise into the executive ranks. It evaluates their management skills and refers women to appropriate competitions. The bureau cannot of course claim credit for all the progress that has been made, but there has been a real and notable increase of women in the executive group of the public service.

In 1983 women were 5 per cent of the executive level. By 1988 women's representation had more than doubled to 12.3 per cent. As of March 31, 1993 women were 17.6 per cent of the executive group, including a good number at the second highest level.

In addition there has been a steady increase in the number of women in what is called the feeder groups, that is standing in the wings and waiting to take over from the executives who will be retiring in the coming years. The public service is providing leadership in this area not just for the government but for the whole country.

The second aspect of the special measures programs designed especially for women is the OPTION program. The purpose of this program is to encourage the recruitment of women for what are called non-traditional occupations. A non-traditional occupation is one where the representation of women is under 30 per cent. Again there has been encouraging progress. In all these areas progress has been made but there is still is a lot more work that needs to be done.

The progress is not always measured by numbers alone. The program has particular importance because through strategic placements, the way is open for women to become employed in areas that traditionally were almost closed to them. Let me give an example of what can be done in the area of non-traditional occupations.

In 1992 the former Department of Energy, Mines and Resources received an employment equity award for its achievement on the recruitment of women in the science sector. Under its young scientists program that department has increased the number of women scientists by 63 since 1989.

Various departments also have bridging programs for women. Women occupy the vast majority of positions in the administrative support category. However it has not traditionally been an easy matter for a woman to move from the position of a secretary to a junior administrative officer and so on up the ladder. Bridging programs provide women with the training and the skills necessary so they can compete for more responsible positions.

It is essential that women be given access to the training which will help them secure the advancement they deserve.

The renewed special measures initiatives program will provide even greater encouragement to employment equity within the public service. Programs that were successful in the past such as the OPTION program are being continued. A new flexibility has been introduced so that individual departments can receive the assistance they require to carry out on their own individually tailored programs to assist women and members of all those other designated groups to achieve better representation within the public service.

Employment equity is all of these things but it is more as well. It is an attitude. It is a recognition that women and men are equal and that each of them can in her or his own way provide high quality service to the Canadian public as a member of the public service. It means that a man can easily take orders from his boss, a woman, that a woman has an absolute right not to be harassed

in any circumstances, that a secretary could be a man and that all women and men are treated with dignity.

We recognize that employment equity must be an integral part of human resource management. It is not something separate to be considered only after essential matters have been taken care of.

Managers are being trained to understand that Canada today is a diverse country. That is its strength and the public service must reflect that diversity if it is to serve the Canadian people intelligently and well.

For women there are other factors as well and legislation and policies are in place to provide for them. For example, pension provisions that discourage part time work and the taking of child rearing leave have been repealed.

Flexible work arrangements are in place in recognition of the fact that it is women who still carry the major burden of household responsibilities. Telework may be of substantial help to women whose situation makes it difficult for them to leave the house for extended periods, for example.

Job sharing may provide for many women an opportunity to participate in the public service that they otherwise would not be able to do, or elsewhere in the economy that is not available to them at this point.

Let me say that these are not concessions that are being made to women or to any other members of any of the designated groups in the employment equity program. Employment equity implies that barriers to the employment of any member of society have been dismantled and all can compete on an equal footing.

With employment equity we in the federal government still expect to recruit the best and the brightest, but we shall be ensuring that the candidate pool is as diverse and as rich as possible and reflects what this nation's composition is all about.

If some training is required to diversify and enrich the candidate pool, we will provide it where we can. That is the meaning of employment equity and of equality.

We will have other occasions in which to discuss the growing role and equality of women in Canadian society and within the public service. I want to assure the House today of my own personal commitment, a commitment that goes back through the years that I spent in municipal government, to the principles of both equity and equality for women. I am pleased to have had the opportunity to participate in this debate today.

Thus, I am very pleased to reiterate in the House my commitment to employment equity, and equality between women and men.

Supplementary Estimates, 1993-94 March 8th, 1994

Madam Speaker, pursuant to the provisions of Standing Order 81(5) and (6) I wish to introduce a motion concerning referral of the estimates to the standing committees of the House. There is a lengthy list associated with the motion and if it is agreeable to the House I would ask that the list be printed in Hansard as if it has been read. Therefore I move:

That the supplementary estimates for the fiscal year ending March 31, 1994, laid upon the table on March 8, 1994, be referred to the several standing committees of the House in accordance with the detailed allocation attached.

Supplementary Estimates (B), 1993-94 March 8th, 1994

Madam Speaker, accordingly I am tabling a copy of the supplementary estimates for the current fiscal year ending March 31, 1994.

I have copies of the supplementary estimates to be distributed to the Prime Minister, the leaders and Treasury Board critics of the opposition parties.

Public Service February 24th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, prior to the budget being brought in I consulted with employee representatives, the various union leaders, with respect to the fact that in order to get the deficit down we were going to have to make some of the cuts on the wage bill. We looked at various options. I told them that we were looking for up to a billion dollars. I got their input on this matter.

First and foremost union representatives said that they wanted to preserve jobs. That is what we took. We found that the best way to make those cuts was to extend the wage freeze and to try to preserve jobs.

We looked at a lot of other options: everything from wage rollbacks to the kinds of measures that the hon. member's leader in Ontario had taken, but those Rae days, those kinds of measures were very unpopular with the union. We did what we believed was best to preserve the jobs for our employees.

Government Expenditures February 24th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, there is indeed that perception on the part of Canadians about rushing to spend the money before the year runs out. Of course, under the Financial Administration Act it does lapse. Perhaps from time to time it means that managers will spend prematurely or money will be expended prior to when it needs to be.

To combat that we have in this current fiscal year put in place the opportunity to carry over a percentage of the budget so that spending can be done at more appropriate times beyond the year end. I am pleased to inform the hon. member and other members of this House that as of now we have made the decision to increase that amount to 5 per cent of operating budgets. That should severely curtail at least the perception and of course the

reality of that past practice so we can ensure the effective and efficient use of taxpayers' dollars

Main Estimates, 1994-95 February 24th, 1994

Madam Speaker, pursuant to Standing Orders 81(4) and 81(6), I move:

That the main estimates, 1994-95, tabled this day, be referred to the several standing committees of the House as follows:

Since the list is rather lengthy, I would ask that it be printed in Hansard at this point without being read.

Main Estimates, 1994-95 February 24th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, today I present the 1994-95 main estimates for the Government of Canada.

I have the honour to table the first Estimates of this 35th Parliament, which contain the government's expenditure plans, department by department, program by program, for the next fiscal year.

I take pride that these estimates reflect the commitments we made to Canadians in the election last fall. They reveal a balanced approach in which the government supports growth and creates jobs while taking steps to reduce the deficit.

The main estimates set out the details of $160.7 billion in planned expenditure in the next fiscal year. This includes the $112.1 billion in statutory expenditure that flows from legislation that Parliament has previously approved and $48.6 billion in expenditures for which we are seeking parliamentary authority at this time.

The main estimates are the first step in carrying out the expenditure plan amounting to $163.6 billion set out in the budget of two days ago delivered by my colleague, the Minister of Finance.

However, unlike the budget, the main estimates do not include reserves and they do not anticipate the impact of proposed legislation. In other words, if legislation has not yet been passed then the dollar figures would not be in the main estimates.

The main reason total spending is up is the increase in public debt charges. Program spending, which is our total spending less public debt charges, is virtually flat, increasing by only 0.7 per cent. Spending on most programs is down.

Old age security and aboriginal programs account for a large part of the increase in program spending. That is because of an increase in the population in those two categories which are drawing on the programs.

As the Minister of Finance made clear two days ago, this is a budget that sets in motion the most comprehensive reform of government spending policy in a decade. The budget tabled on

Tuesday and the main estimates that I table today provide a framework for the future delivered by a government for the future.

One of the clear policy planks of this government is that we are going to do what must be done and we are going to do it in a fiscally responsible way.

In the main estimates we have set a course of action for each component of the agenda in "Creating Opportunity", better known as the red book. Canadians have told us that job creation is a high priority and in the red book we have said that a national infrastructure program would be a key element in job creation.

Since we have come to office, I am proud to say that we have made this a reality by signing agreements in every province across this country. In the main estimates we are asking Parliament to appropriate more than $700 million in the coming fiscal year for the implementation of this program.

Also in the red book we said we would impose further cuts in operating budgets by some $400 million in 1994-95, increasing to $620 million in the following two years. The main estimates reflect the commitment. We hope that we can generate a lot of these savings through efficiency gains, but we realize that it may also require having to set priorities.

Of the $400 million just mentioned, the largest part will come from savings on professional services. These are services that we contract for. We will shortly be asking Parliament to look at this whole area of contracting out.

However, this was not enough. Solving our fiscal problem required taking more restraint measures in the operating budgets. We looked at different options available to us. We looked at what other governments and the private sector were doing. We consulted with our public service unions in this process. In the end we did what we believe is best for Canadians, best for public service employees and for the economy.

As the Minister of Finance stated in the budget, we extended the freeze on the federal public service for a further two years and we suspended annual increments for two years beginning in 1994-95. We also provided for the opportunity, working with our employees and working with their bargaining agents, to be able to shorten that period of time by finding other efficiencies in government spending so that we could in fact end that freeze at an earlier time.

We believe that under the circumstances this was the best course to follow. It allows us to better protect jobs while minimizing the impact of our ability to deliver quality services to Canadians at the lowest possible cost.

The reduction in the defence budget reflects reality. We had a defence structure that reflected the priorities of the past. The world order was changing and we had to adapt. The result will be an armed forces that will meet our future needs.

Reductions in our international assistance funding is a statement of our fiscal capacity rather than a reflection of what really is the need. We will nonetheless continue to spend $2.6 billion on international assistance as is shown in the main estimates.

Canadians told us that grants to business were not getting the best value for the tax dollar. We made it clear in the red book we would cut grants that were not of value in helping small and medium sized business and we have done that.

Canadians were vocal in expressing their desire to reform the unemployment insurance program because it was more than taxpayers could afford. The payroll tax required to pay the benefits was putting us in an uncompetitive position vis-à-vis our trading partners. We had to take action and we have.

In the main estimates 16 per cent of the total spending is in payments to other levels of government and 25 per cent is in payments to persons such as the old age security and unemployment insurance. The government will spend about $62 billion on social programs and $4.8 billion on natural resource based programs, $3.9 billion on industrial, regional and scientific programs, $2.8 billion on transportation programs, about $3 billion will go to cultural and heritage programs, $3.3 billion for justice and legal programs, and $6.4 billion for general government operations.

My colleague the Minister of Finance made it clear in his speech this is only the beginning of reform. He announced that over the next year we would make service delivery more efficient and effective and we will do that.

As a result of the course set out in the budget, program expenditures will decline in real terms between now and 1995-96. Even now, as I said earlier in my remarks, expenditures are virtually flat with last year.

Our annual deficit is on a downward curve, a very important downward curve, and we have set our sights on the fiscal objective of a deficit which amounts to no more than 3 per cent of all the goods and services we produce in Canada in a given year.

This is the true sign of a government that listens to the electorate, shows leadership, takes decisive action, consults its partners, and sets a clear vision for the future of each and every Canadian.