Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was reform.

Last in Parliament April 1997, as Liberal MP for Saskatoon—Humboldt (Saskatchewan)

Lost her last election, in 1997, with 26% of the vote.

Statements in the House

``Red Book'' May 12th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, in the red book we promised to restore integrity to government. We have put this promise into action.

For example, Bill C-85 will bring about changes to the MP pension plan. The direct correlation between what we said, what we did, what we continue to do is starting to sink in, even among Reformers, that rag tag band of rhinestone cowboys.

Just yesterday, the much misunderstood member for Calgary Centre, himself more of a Diamond Jim than a rhinestone cowboy, predicted that in the next election, and I quote: "The Prime Minister will stand in front of voters and talk about how Liberal ideas and initiatives have restored integrity to the parliamentary system in Canada as a fait accompli". He is right.

The Prime Minister will present his record to the voters: his personal integrity, his dedication to public service and his respect to the parliamentary system.

As the member mused yesterday, people in the real world will think that is pretty impressive.

Petitions May 3rd, 1995

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I have the honour to present today, in the name of a number of Saskatoon residents who describe themselves as ordinary, law-abiding citizens, a petition pointing out that some 1,400 Canadians die of gunshot wounds each year and that both legally owned and stolen firearms contribute to such fatalities.

The petitioners urge the Government of Canada to pass Bill C-68 as soon as possible.

Student Employment March 20th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Human Resources Development.

Spring has sprung and with it the job search for Canadian university and high school students has begun. Summer employment provides work experience along with funds needed to continue their education.

What assurance can the minister give Canadian students that the government puts a high priority on their summer employment needs?

Petitions February 17th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I have the pleasure of rising in the House today to present a petition on behalf of some of my constituents who request that Parliament continue to give the Canadian Wheat Board monopoly powers in marketing wheat and barley for export.

Railway Safety February 16th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Transport.

Yesterday, he tabled a report entitled "On Track" from the committee reviewing the Railway Safety Act. Can the minister tell us when he will be in a position to respond to the report's recommendations?

Immigration December 9th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration.

Yesterday Canadians were distressed by reports in the Toronto Sun that the department of immigration is browsing for technology to produce the new permanent resident's card in the United States. Say it ain't so. C'est incroyable. Surely it cannot be true that our hon. minister has become a cross-border shopper.

Canada Grain Act December 9th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak on Bill C-51 this morning, an act to amend the Canada Grain Act.

Bill C-51 represents a consensus among Canada's western grain producers and the grain industry. This bill contains the changes to the Canada Grain Act these communities have told us they need.

There are four key elements to Bill C-51. The first is to renew Canada's commitment to quality and therefore reinforce the uniqueness of the Canadian quality control system. The second is to eliminate the obligation for government to set maximum elevator tariffs. The third is to improve the financial protection available to grain producers. The fourth is to reduce the exposure of taxpayers in the event that licensees of the Canadian Grain Commission fail financially.

I will now give some detail on these four particular aspects beginning with commitment to quality. Bill C-51 renews this commitment to quality. When we talk about quality, what we mean are the measurable characteristics that end users of these products tell us they need. Bill C-51 restates the need to meet the requirements of end users through visual and other quality determination methods. Until instrumental means are developed to rapidly and efficiently determine quality, visual methods must still be relied upon.

Grain quality, which is the primary reason for Canada's success in international markets, is more important than ever given the post-GATT climate in which freer trade rules reduce the role of export subsidies. Our competitors are going to have to become more like us. For this reason it is important that Canada preserve its tradition and widely acknowledged leadership in this area.

On the issue of maximum elevator tariffs, Bill C-51 provides that the Canadian Grain Commission will no longer be required to set maximum elevator tariffs. Tariffs are the charges grain elevator operators levy for their elevation, storage and cleaning services.

In the absence of maximum tariffs, elevator operators will be able to decide what to charge for their services. Operators will also no longer be required to provide the commission with 14 days notice when changes to tariffs are to be made. These measures will provide companies with more opportunities to be flexible and competitive.

Removing the obligation of the commission to set maximum tariffs is being done at the request of the industry. Elimination of the maximums should encourage more capital investment by elevator companies and result in a more flexible and competitive elevator industry.

Producer reactions to this provision have been mixed. Some do believe there is a risk that companies will charge excessive tariffs unless they are regulated but we are convinced that Bill C-51 addresses these concerns. There are safeguards within the bill and within the structure of the industry.

For example, the majority of primary and terminal elevators are owned or controlled by producers through the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool, the Alberta Wheat Pool, the United Grain Growers, and the Manitoba Pool Elevators. These operators are responsible to their producers, so it is expected they will consider the interests of producers when setting these tariffs.

Some may argue that the corporate interests of producer organizations will override the producers' interests. It would be presumptuous for government to tell producers they are incapable of directing their own organizations. I am very much convinced that producers know what they are doing and they are in the best position to determine whose interests their organizations will serve.

In the unlikely event that producer owned elevators are not able to protect their producers Bill C-51 does include some legislative remedies. Specifically for a two-year transition period the Canadian Grain Commission will have the power to immediately establish maximum tariffs by order if the investigation of a complaint from an elevator user finds that a particular tariff is unjustified. The two-year period should be

sufficient for the industry and producers to adapt to a deregulated tariff environment.

The commission will continue to have the power to set maximum tariffs by regulation as a last resort if elevator operators set tariffs that are excessive. Furthermore, the commission will continue to investigate complaints and to mediate disputes.

However, if the past behaviour of Canada's elevator companies offers any indication of their future actions they will behave responsibly. The recent experience where the commission issued an order which removed elevation tariff ceilings for terminal elevators for the current crop year has shown this. Limits on these maximums were removed to allow operators to recover overtime costs, enabling the industry to deal with backlogged orders. The resulting tariff increases were modest and responsibly applied.

It is significant that the tariffs companies are charging for their other services are below the ceiling established by the Canadian Grain Commission.

The next point has to do with the licensing and security provisions contained in the bill. The Canadian Grain Commission plays an important role in helping maintain the integrity of grain transactions and thereby protecting the interests of grain producers.

The Canadian Grain Commission licenses elevators and grain dealers and holds security posted by licensees. This security which is mandatory for all licensees is intended to help protect farmers against losses in case a licensee defaults on payments to farmers.

In the past the industry viewed this security as insurance to cover licensee liabilities only up to the amount of security posted.

However, in 1990 the Federal Court found the CGC liable in the case of the bankruptcies of two former licensees. In both cases the security held by the Canadian Grain Commission was insufficient to cover the licensees' obligations to farmers and the government had to pay the shortfall in security which was approximately $3.8 million.

The payments that resulted from these court decisions came out of general revenue, more specifically out of taxpayers' pockets. We feel it is important to change the act to protect taxpayers from further payments by clarifying the government's responsibility in any further bankruptcies. This view is shared throughout the grain industry with which the licensing and security provisions of Bill C-51 were thoroughly discussed.

The new licensing and security provisions are as follows. There is currently a one-year limit on security. The act will allow the time limit to be prescribed by regulation and it is the government's intention to fix this period at 90 days. The change is based on one of the major recommendations flowing from consultations. That recommendation was that farmers should take more responsibility for their transactions. This includes promptly pricing grain on delivery and cashing payment documents.

The vast majority of those consulted agreed that security is not intended to help farmers speculate on rising grain prices. By limiting their time to claim the act will place the responsibility on farmers for promptly obtaining payment and cashing documents.

Another provision is that farmers will have 30 days to notify the CGC of a licensee's failure or refusal to pay. If the CGC is notified promptly of a default, it can investigate a licensee that is potentially in financial difficulty and may be able to prevent the licensee from incurring further liabilities.

The onus will be on farmers to determine whether they are dealing with licensees. This is because the CGC only holds security posted by licensees. If farmers want to be eligible for security they will have to ensure they are dealing with a licensed organization. They can do this by contacting the CGC or by monitoring regular CGC advertisements in the farm press.

Farmers will have to hold prescribed documents to be eligible for security. Security posted by licensees applies only to cash purchase tickets, elevator receipts and grain receipts. To be eligible to claim against security farmers must obtain one of these prescribed documents. Only licensees will be entitled to use them. This will prevent non-licensees from misleading producers about their licensing status.

Security available to producers will be limited to the amount held by the commission. If the security held is less than total liabilities, the monies will then be shared on a pro rata basis. Government will not be liable if the security held is not adequate. The commission will monitor companies to make certain their security is adequate to cover their liabilities.

Finally, Bill C-51 will enable the commission to set by regulation the percentage of losses that would be covered by security. The government intends this will remain at 100 per cent of any losses. These are very important provisions that will resolve some of these long outstanding issues.

There is another point here that should be discussed that has to do with special crops. When Bill C-51 was reviewed by the agriculture committee some members and witnesses expressed the view that Bill C-51 should be held back until issues of specific concern to some members of the special crops industry could be addressed in the legislation.

The answer to the problem does not lie in holding up this bill. Rather, the answer is to proceed with developing legislation that is geared to special crops. What does special crops mean? This refers to products such as canary seed, sunflower seed, mustard seed, lentils, buckwheat, beans, peas, corn, safflower seed, soy beans, triticale, fava bean.

At one time special crops played a relatively small economic role when compared with other Canadian grains such as wheat, barley, oats, canola and so on. However, the industry has grown significantly, particularly in western Canada where special crops have grown by about 30 per cent in the last 10 years.

Special crops are regulated under the Canada Grain Act. This act was designed to regulate an industry largely devoted to the bulk handling of cereal grains. Many industry participants have observed that because special crops differ significantly in terms of handling and marketing the act does not meet all the needs of the special crops industry.

This general assessment has some merit. Over the past several years the Canadian Grain Commission has consulted widely on this issue, mostly through the special crops initiative which was conducted by a committee of special crops producers based in the three prairie provinces. These reviews have confirmed that the special crops industry operates differently than the sector of the industry that handles the major grains and that legislative changes are needed to address these special needs.

These reviews have also consistently underlined the need expressed by producers to have access to companies which are licensed and to financial security should those companies default on their payments to the producers.

The commission has examined numerous suggestions and a combination of suggestions that have come forward from participants in the special crops industry. Some suggestions had to be rejected because they were administratively complicated and unduly expensive.

More consultation is planned because the commission wishes to determine which regulatory option is most acceptable to special crops producers and the industry.

The commission recently circulated a discussion paper which outlines options and it will be holding discussions with the special crops industry in western Canada over the next two to three months. From these discussions will emerge recommendations for legislation in 1995.

The conclusion to be drawn from all of this is as follows. First, a special crops industry has special needs which must be addressed. These needs are being addressed in a thoughtful and timely fashion. Second, because the needs of the special crops industry will be the subject of legislative proposals, the minister of agriculture intends to bring it to the House in 1995. We should not delay the passage of Bill C-51. Delays will aggravate problems C-51 is designed to overcome.

In conclusion, we should all thank the many people who have been involved in one way or another in the development of Bill C-51. They include many members of the multitude of Canada's producer and industry organizations, staff of the Canadian Grain Commission, Agriculture Canada and many members of the House, all of whom have contributed to make this bill a success in addressing these issues.

Social Security Reform October 21st, 1994

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Human Resources Development.

The release of the green book on social security reform has triggered much debate among Canadians. In my riding of Saskatoon-Humboldt university students are particularly interested in participating in this national review. They and members of the House would like to know what the minister has heard from other Canadians on this discussion paper as he has been travelling the country in the last 10 days?

Social Security Programs October 6th, 1994

Madam speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question and his focus on the role women play in the new working world. I am so pleased that the hon. member has asked me this question because I think what you must bear in mind when you launch on a massive enterprise like this into social reform is what you have in front of you as a discussion paper. Exactly the kinds of commentaries that you have made here will be the kinds of things we will be hearing when we go out to our ridings-personal stories. People are going to be revealing what the social safety net has meant to them and how it has either worked or has not worked.

I would respond to the hon. member's story with a story of my own from Saskatchewan that has to do again with a young woman. In my other life of continuing to change employment I managed a clinic. I was faced with a young woman, a single parent, who came to the clinic first as a patient.

It turned out she was trapped in a social assistance web. She was unable to get the kind of training she needed because she had no experience. She had no experience because no one would hire her. She was suffering from the risk of losing what benefits she did have for herself. Primarily her focus was on what the loss would be to her child if she was to give up her social assistance.

What ended up happening was that she started working with us, training on the job and trying to get herself into a position in which ultimately she would break free of that welfare trap. I honestly believe that most people are going to be coming forward with ideas that will allow Canadians to make the kind of transition that the hon. member has touched on in his comments.

Whether it is through UI or other programs that will come under discussion in this social security review, those opportunities are the ones we have to make for Canadians to allow them to bridge that gap and to become part of the workforce. I truly believe that most people look forward to the prospect of getting up everyday, going to work and providing for their families.

Social Security Programs October 6th, 1994

Madam Speaker, before I begin, I would like to commend the member for Elk Island for his co-operative attitude.

I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak on the matter of social security reform. A discussion paper we have released gives Canadians a chance to debate the future of these programs, what is necessary and what is possible with the limited resources we have available to us.

As the National Anti-Poverty Organization has correctly noted, the best social security for an individual is a decent job paying decent wages. But we know with technological change that decent job has been altered beyond recognition.

And if that were true so far, just think about what the future has in store for this 18-year old woman, assuming she has just registered this year at a community college. Can anyone predict what skills she will need in the labour market in the year 2030? Of course not!

What we can predict is that her education will not stop on the day she receives her degree. She will have to continue to learn. In fact, to achieve financial security, it is not enough to have a job now; we must also have the skills needed to secure employment at any time in our lives. That is why we must upgrade these skills on a continuing basis.

It seems only yesterday that I was 18 years old myself. Shockingly, I find myself the mother of 18-year old twin boys. The future they face is much different from the one that lay ahead of me at the same age.

When I left school at age 18, the product of rural Saskatchewan, the choices were clear. A generation or two ago it was still expected that one would finish school, train for a specific job and keep that job most of one's working life.

For myself, a young girl from a traditional farm environment I had a couple of choices; be a nurse, be a teacher. I chose teacher. I went to the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon which I am proud to say is a jewel in the crown that is the riding of Saskatoon-Humboldt.

Because of this fact and the fact that I am a former teacher, I am particularly delighted today to address the learning chapter of the green book, chapter 3. No one would deny that learning is the key to finding and keeping stable jobs. Competition from other countries, automation, new technologies have changed the world of work irrevocably.

The new jobs in our economy demand higher and broader kinds of skills and this is the future that looms before my 18-year old sons. Unlike me they can expect, no they must plan for, being educated for the likelihood of changing jobs in their working lives. Their future must be one in which lifelong learning is possible. Only this way will our young people be able to enjoy the same financial, emotional and societal benefits of employment as generations past.

Our government, through this discussion paper, faces this challenge. As members know, federal contributions have helped build and operate a system of post-secondary education that is both extensive and accessible.

The Canada Student Loans Program has been improved. We raised the weekly ceiling by close to 57 per cent for full-time students. We also raised the maximum for loans to part-time students from $2,500 to $4,000. We will gradually introduce special subsidies which will provide an extra $3,000 to single parents who pursue part-time studies, to handicapped students and to women registered in Ph. D. programs.

For the first time we will be offering a national program of deferred grants that will help high need students who would otherwise face extremely high debt loads on graduation. There were many other elements to our improvements to CSLP, but members will understand the essential principles of improving and broadening access for students of all kinds.

I would probably not be addressing the Chamber today had it not been for the assistance of the Canada Student Loans Program. Without those funds, a university education would have been beyond my grasp. From the letters I have received from constituents, and from talking to people in the riding like Mr. and Mrs. Ivan Dale, I know there are still young people out there facing the same problem.

Education is not just for the young. As I said in my earlier remarks, it has to involve people at all stages of their lives if we are to be successful in the future. In spite of the removal of certain barriers, one huge obstacle remains. That obstacle is money or the lack of it.

In the discussion paper, we propose ways to finance post-secondary education. We discuss the means to make it more accessible to those who want to develop their skills. We also recognize that we have been contributing to the financing of post-secondary education for a long time and that we must continue to do so.

The provinces and territories manage the system, but without federal involvement it would look much different. The federal government now provides $8 billion a year, or about half the total spending in this area. The discussion paper recognizes that the federal government provides core funding for the post-secondary system through tax points. As members will recall, the budget earlier this year called for the federal government to reduce the other part of that funding, cash transfers.

We have already told the provinces and territories that cash for post-secondary education will be returned to the 1993-94 level of $2.1 billion in 1996-97. Within 10 to 15 years the formula in place to calculate the funding will probably end the portion of the PSE funding paid in cash.

The document raises the question of how to best use that money. We believe that it is by making post-secondary education more accessible to students. We realize that the increase in tuition fees imposed by provinces and territories have forced students to absorb a larger proportion of the costs of their education. The changes we made to improve the Canada Student Loans Program should help students get by, but we can do more.

The paper offers an interesting option. End the cash transfers for institutional support quickly and expand student loan opportunities instead. It is estimated that a $500 million student aid program would lever $2 billion in loans every year. The target for that money could be older students, people who want to add to their skills and who want to retrain.

A student aid program like this can be truly preventive. It can offer support to working people who want to stay ahead of the skill wave.

All this talk of loans brings up the thorny question of repayment. Sooner or later these loans have to be paid back. Over the last year I have received letters from students young and old who are unable to repay their student loans, wondering what they can do. Sometimes they have graduated and cannot find work, other times the work they found was so low paying that they cannot make loan payments. They cannot even make ends meet.

One option being considered in the discussion paper is the income contingent repayment plan. This plan which has been working well in Australia and New Zealand would permit people to repay their loans on the basis of their income perhaps through the tax system.

Another option in the green book is the concept of using RRSPs to finance education and training.

What is clear is that the discussion paper takes into account the need to achieve reform within tight fiscal parameters. Our objective is to use limited resources in the most effective way to preserve and expand access to post-secondary education for many more students.

I congratulate the minister of human resources for having the courage and the commitment to his ideals to engage Canadians in the revitalization of our social programs. The easy way would be to sit back and watch as an outdated social system collapsed under its own weight as it limped toward the next century. It is much harder to take the path set by the minister, to recognize that we have a problem, to identify what those problems are, to take the time to hear what Canadians have to say about their needs and about how those needs may be met and how we can pay for those needs.

In my riding my constituents will be participating in the revitalization process October 29 and 30. I invite all Canadians including some of the doubting Thomases in this House to participate fully in this task, to take advantage of this opportunity to be part of the rebuilding. Criticism without offering constructive alternatives gets us nowhere. Why be part of the problem when it is so much more exciting to be part of the solution?

I am confident that Canadians hold dear our social programs and I anticipate that they will join in the task of reweaving our social safety net so that it is there to cradle Canadians at those times in our lives when we need its support.