Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to take part in this debate today. I hope that our arguments will help enlighten hon. members about the merits of our motion. What we are proposing is a simple and realistic process that no member in this House can off-handedly reject simply because it was not put forward by his or her party.
Our constituents expect such action from us. I do not see how I could go back to my riding this weekend and try to explain why we refused to examine public finances. Such a refusal would show a lack of respect for our voters and an attempt to shirk our responsibilities. We as members of the Bloc Quebecois have received an additional mandate, and a significant one at that.
Quebecers have especially asked us to protect their interests and to focus our energy and efforts to help Quebec attain its sovereignty. Soon Quebecers will democratically determine their own future.
For more than three months now, each and everyone of us has noticed, day in and day out, that our federal system has some major flaws on several levels, especially from an administrative and a political point of view. On the one hand, the Auditor General has always loudly complained about the mismanagement of government funds.
On the other hand, provinces claim that they have been treated unfairly, because of unjust decisions based on so-called national standards, which obviously are not making provincial authorities very happy. Add to this the willingness of hon. members to play a bigger part in the decision and legislative system, and you can say without a doubt that our system is not efficient and needs some major changes.
Take, for instance, the Auditor General of Canada who publishes every year horror stories like some of Stephen King bestsellers on the way our government manages this country. The Auditor General cannot all by himself go through everything. He focuses on some very well defined areas. He examines only some of the elements of public administration. He is asked to perform a monumental task requiring detailed knowledge of the situation. Recently we heard some horror stories about senators, but let us not dwell on that.
The evaluation process used by the Auditor clearly shows the scope and the complexity of the federal administration. It is becoming more and more difficult, if not utterly impossible, to control this monster and the vast number of programs involving extraordinary public spending.
Our approach or proposal is a symbolical and responsible attempt to democratize and open the whole issue of public finances. The people will better understand public expenditures and will be in a better position to evaluate the government's decisions.
Year after year, successive ministers of Finance pledge to apply stricter controls, to eliminate waste and to reduce spending. Alas, results are always disappointing. Governments are
much more apt to raise revenues through taxes than to reduce their extravagant expenditures and waste.
We, the Bloc, will allow, with this motion, every member to keep this promise. It is up to you to decide.
The Minister of Finance prefers to travel throughout the country at the taxpayer's expense to hold other consultations. I do not think these little trips will solve anything.
The minister should sit down with us and all the other parties in this House and look carefully at the true financial mess our great country is now in. I am sure that everybody here would agree to such a serious and open process. Nobody in this House can support ridiculous or useless spending.
Nobody can condone waste and deadwood. In the end, this process aims at ensuring that every tax dollar is spent efficiently.
As social housing critic, I have to look at the activities and programs of the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. Note that Quebec also has its own housing corporation, that is, the Société d'habitation du Québec. The work of these two similar corporations is similar and sometimes complementary. Both organizations deal with housing.
There is certainly some duplication of services that is very costly in terms of the number of employees doing similar tasks at both levels of government. These sums are possibly included in the operating budgets of the various programs under their authority. And let us not forget the incredible number of interdepartmental meetings required in order to harmonize the programs and all the co-ordination meetings between officials working on various projects.
Since there are federal-provincial agreements in each of the provinces, we can multiply by ten, plus two for the territories, this type of duplication of services that is very costly for the taxpayers and very confusing for the general public. Each level of government has its standards, its inspectors, its codes and its regulations. There is a cost attached to all that. We must simplify the system and concentrate all these activities at the same administrative level in order to meet needs more efficiently and to maximize the use of the money allocated for these programs.
Obviously, in Quebec, the Société d'habitation du Québec must be the only administrative authority in this area. The other provinces should do the same. That is up to them.
Right now, in Canada, in this rich and developed country, 1.2 million people are in desperate need of housing. The total withdrawal of the federal government as of January 1, 1994 is indecent and unacceptable. Moreover, the general agreements with the provinces are melting away like the snow because of deep cuts in federal funding. So, all of a sudden, the provinces/ find themselves without funding and it is the poorest in our society who suffer the terrible consequences.
Liberals do not seem to be doing anything to rectify the situation. They say that there is not enough money. Here is a golden opportunity for the government opposite to find considerable amounts of money in order to meet the housing needs of disadvantaged Canadians. But, a word of caution, the money taken from the various departments will have to be redistributed under new criteria. Federal standards must meet the particular needs of individual provinces and reflect their reality.
Quebec wants its fair share of funding for social housing, which has not been the case in the past few years.
Finally, let us administer our country intelligently and openly so that we have the means to meet the needs of the people, some of which are urgent.