February 12, 1985

GOVERNMENT ORDERS

BUSINESS OF SUPPLY

NDP

Nelson Andrew Riis (N.D.P. Caucus Chair)

New Democratic Party

Mr. Nelson A. Riis (Kamloops-Shuswap) moved:

That this House commends the Government of Manitoba for its positive policies of job creation which have produced the lowest unemployment level in Canada, and calls upon the Government to adopt a similar course of economic expansion rather than the discredited policies of tax increases and spending cuts which it has pursued to date and which are largely responsible for the latest unemployment statistics, which show an alarming increase of 167,000 unemployed between December, 1984 and January, 1985.

He said: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to lead off for the New Democratic Party on its Opposition Day motion. In a sense, the motion identifies the number one issue which faces the country-unemployment.

If we look around at a variety of models, there are some areas of the world and, indeed, some areas of Canada that provide us with some guidance as to what the present federal Government ought to be using as it develops its plans for the Budget and the ways and means it will use to get the economy of Canada back on track.

As a youngster I was a fan of Robert Louis Stevenson. He wrote a book entitled The Wreckers. The fundamental theme in that book was that a group of rather unscrupulous people on a South Pacific island set up large bonfires in the evenings on certain parts of the beach. Those bonfires were to act as beacons to ships which were sailing past and to indicate to them that those were safe areas in which to anchor. However, there were hidden shoals and when the large ships sailed in they were shipwrecked. Then the unscrupulous island people would plunder the contents of the ships, and as a result people would lose their lives.

I was reminded of that story when thinking about the nature of this debate. The federal Government is saying: "Follow us". The Minister of Employment and Immigration (Miss MacDonald) is saying: "Have faith in us. Just give us time, because we are providing guidance".

Human wreckage has resulted from that policy and that kind of direction. I do not have to go any further than my own constituency. Kamloops has an official unemployment rate of 20.3 per cent. In real terms, that means there are over 10,000

people in that region who are officially collecting unemployment insurance, over 5,500 people on welfare, and hundreds of others who do not qualify for unemployment insurance or welfare support. There are small-business people who do not qualify and fall through the social security net. There are 2,500 young people under the age of 25 who are jobless in that community. The Minister tells them not to worry because Canada Works will provide jobs. There are more than 15,000 who are unemployed and Canada Works may provide 200 jobs in the next few months. The Minister of Employment and Immigration tells us to have faith in the Government and to be patient because the private sector in Kamloops will provide thousands of jobs in the next little while.

Last weekend I was in my constituency and met with three business groups. The groups, which speak for small and medium-sized businesses, said that they were literally clinging to survival and that they were not thinking about expansion. They told me that the best scenario which could happen was that they would not go bankrupt. I also met with representatives of the ministerial association, pastors from a number of churches in the greater Kamloops area. They said that if things did not change dramatically over the next few months there would be violence, civil disobedience and bloodshed in the streets. That was told to me by pastors who are the heads of their congregations. These are people who have not only a compassion but an understanding of the realities on the main streets of Kamloops.

[DOT] (mo)

I see Hon. Members opposite laughing at that proposal. The heads of churches say that there will in fact be blood running and violence in these communities because of the economic policies being pursued by Governments in this country. Those are not my views necessarily. I am simply reflecting the views of the religious leaders in my community.

I received a letter this morning from a young man who has worked for the last 12 years but who lost his job a few months ago. He ran out of his unemployment insurance benefits. A few weeks ago he went down to the welfare office to apply for a subsidy and was told that they could not give him one at the time because his wife was working and earning $525 a month. This couple's rent for a very modest apartment is $375. They have just received a bill from B.C. Hydro for a two-month period in the amount of $148. That leaves them $2, Mr. Speaker, to live on for the month. That $2 will have to pay for their food and all the other incidentals which life demands.

This young husband is a proud man and he sees today no hope. He is told by Government services that he does not qualify for a subsidy but if he comes back in two or three

February 12, 1985

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months it might be able to find a $60 a month supplement for him. Some of us in this House should try living on $2 a month. What this means, of course, is that this proud individual will now have to go downtown and get in line at the food bank. If he is lucky he will get a hamper of food after standing in line for an hour or so because inevitably at the end of the day the food supply runs out and has to be replenished. This is a reality now in one of the richest parts of Canada traditionally. This is a reality in a province which is identified as a "have" province. It is recognized as a very prosperous province generally, but the Province of British Columbia, Mr. Speaker, is on its knees. It is an economic basket case.

For a moment, Mr. Speaker, I would like to turn our attention away from that part of Canada. We found out a few days ago that unemployment has soared, increasing more in one month than it has in any single month over the last five years. The increase in the number of people who are unemployed in Canada over the last month is the equivalent of the population of cities like Sudbury, Saskatoon, Chicoutimi, Oshawa, St. John's. In other words, the size of the entire population of a city was added to the unemployment rolls in one single month. But the Government still says "Be patient, folks; relax. We are consulting with various groups and so on. We will be bringing in a Budget some time in April or May". The Budget will take effect in terms of its policy in the fall or next winter some time, but the Government says "Just relax".

I suspect that the people of Canada are not prepared to relax much longer. There are one and a half million people in this country who are unemployed and that number is growing. That means one and a half million people are not playing their rightful role in Canadian society of building the Canadian economy. There are fewer houses under construction, fewer roads being built, fewer trees being planted and fewer consumer goods being produced, all because one and a half million people are idle.

On top of that there is the cost of nearly $ 1 billion a month for unemployment insurance benefits from the federal Government, plus hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars in welfare payments out of the federal Government's treasury in terms of transfer payments. We cannot afford these high levels of unemployment in the country, Mr. Speaker, because of what it does to the productive capacity in Canada and what it costs Canadians.

What has been the argument and the proposals of our Governments, Mr. Speaker? I believe we could distil the alternatives down to two. There is one school of thought which thinks the solution to unemployment is to unshackle the market-place; free enterprise, some would say. To these people, government bureaucracies are the root of all evil. If we reduce government, the private sector will enthusiastically come to life, spring into action and develop, expand and create those jobs, is the explanation we hear from the Conservatives.

John Kenneth Galbraith summed it up I think quite nicely when he said that these are the folks who believe that the rich

are not working because they have too little money and the poor are not working because they have too much money.

These people want to take us back to an earlier time in the past when they believed government was less intrusive in the lives of individuals. How are they prepared to do that? They want to reduce the size of government. Their very first priority is to reduce expenditures on social programs and slash the deficit no matter what the consequences. This is what we have seen in the Province of British Columbia. This is the reality of the world of Bill Bennett.

In his statement on November 8 the Minister of Finance (Mr. Wilson) outlined the Government's priorities. At the top of the list was not job creation or economic development; at the top of the list was deficit reduction. The Minister's statements on November 8 sounded strangely similar to those statements of the Premier of British Columbia in his last two budgets.

Let me give a couple of examples. On November 8 the Minister of Finance said that controlling the deficit must be our priority for this year and each year of the Government's mandate. The B.C. budget of 1973 said that the Government's decision is clear-"We shall restrain expenditure and reduce the size of government". Again on November 8 the federal Minister of Finance said he believes that deficit reduction is the key to rebuilding confidence. The B.C. budget of 1983 said that the budget provides what is needed to contain the size and burden of government so the private sector, our major resource companies and all businesses large and small, will have the climate needed to ensure that our fragile recovery gains momentum.

Let us look at what happened in British Columbia. In 1983 they looked into the future and made some projections, as did the federal Minister of Finance. In B.C. they said that real provincial growth will occur in the 6 per cent range. Capital investment will increase by 15 per cent in 1984 and employment growth will increase nearly 4 per cent. That is what they thought was going to happen. That is what they wished was going to happen. It is a Peter Pan approach to economics; if you really believe it is going to happen, it will happen.

Well, Mr. Speaker, it did not happen. Real provincial growth was less than 1 per cent. In other words, it decreased. There was no economic growth in British Columbia. Capital investment fell by 5 per cent rather than increasing by 15 per cent. Employment growth fell. In other words, unemployment is increasing at a staggering rate month after month after month. What they projected simply did not occur.

While it is not surprising that opposition Members, particularly New Democrats from British Columbia, would have a rather jaundiced view of what has happened, we are not the only ones. I can quote the president of the Chartered Accountants' Association of British Columbia. On October 19, 1984 he said that B.C. is heading for hell in a hand-basket this winter. He said many of his members are telling their clients to flee British Columbia. In other words, if you are looking for opportunity, for growth and development, for investment

February 12, 1985

opportunities, do not stay in British Columbia, go east to Manitoba.

That is what Michael Walker, the chief economist for the Fraser Institute, had to say to young people. They asked him what he would suggest they do in British Columbia and he said the best news he had for young people in British Columbia is not the old "Go west, young man"; it is "Go east, young man". He meant go east to Manitoba.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY S.O. 62-JOB CREATION
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?

An Hon. Member:

How do you know that?

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NDP

Nelson Andrew Riis (N.D.P. Caucus Chair)

New Democratic Party

Mr. Riis:

That is where the jobs are. That is where the in-migration is taking place. There is none to British Columbia, believe me.

The Royal Bank of Canada came out with a report in Manitoba, 1984, which said that B.C.'s problems include severe government restraint measures, persistent labour disputes, depressed consumer and business confidence. The president of the Business Council of British Columbia said the economy has not recovered, it has not turned around, and that is what we were all led to believe.

One can go on and on, Mr. Speaker, and list spokesperson after spokesperson from economic and financial agencies, respected analysts in their field. When they are honest they all say that the future of British Columbia under the restraint policy and conservative ideology of the Social Credit Government is very depressing. Most of the money now raised on the Vancouver Stock Exchange is for investment outside of British Columbia. That says something about how the investors of British Columbia feel about the future of their province.

It would be useful to turn to another alternative now. I indicated that one alternative was this almost religious zeal which sees the unfettered market-place as the opportunity for our economic future. Another alternative is that which we see in the Province of Manitoba. Jobs are the first priority of the Manitoba Government. Its first priority is to get the people of Manitoba working in meaningful, long-term jobs. The Government of Manitoba assumes that unemployment erodes economic growth and investor and consumer confidence. It assumes that if people have jobs they can sustain the necessary economic activity and provide the consumer demand which is the real trigger to business confidence and investment.

The Conservatives feel it is necessary to bribe people to behave in certain economic ways. They want to lure and entice business to expand. They want to provide tax incentives. Business does not need to be bribed or to have incentives provided for it. If there is a market-place and a consuming public, businesses will expand. They will not expand if there is no one to purchase their goods and services. Any government which believes it works the other way around is sorely mistaken.

The Minister of Finance in the Province of Manitoba, Mr. Schroeder, has said: "It is vitally important that the provincial Government stimulus takes place now to protect our basic

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strengths and enhance our ability to promote the advancement of economic recovery when it comes". In December of 1982 he said: "Efforts to reduce deficits through large-scale tax increases or expenditure cuts will only aggravate current economic problems". Manitoba has taken some very concrete action which has reduced the level of unemployment in that province. The Province of Manitoba now has the lowest unemployment level in Canada. Manitoba is a have-not province. It is not usually identified as a prosperous province. The Government of Manitoba meant it when it said that job creation and development was its number one priority.

The Government of Manitoba took action on a variety of fronts. In 1983 it put together a jobs fund. It allocated $200 million for the creation of jobs. In 1983 alone it created 21,000 jobs. In the first half of 1984 it created 10,000 jobs. If the national Government provided an equal ratio of job creation stimulus it would be spending $5 billion on getting people back to work. However, the federal Government would rather spend $12 billion on UIC payments or hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars on welfare. It would much rather do as it did last month and spend $300 million buying up Canadian dollars. Week after week the Government spends hundreds of millions of dollars to buy its own dollars in order artificially to prop up the value of the Canadian dollar because Mr. Bouey has a passionate and committed position to maintain the dollar at 75 cents U.S. Therefore we will spend $300 million this month and perhaps another $200 million next month. Do I hear a single Conservative Member state in the House that that notion is wrong and should not be the way to spend taxpayers' money in this country? There is never a word from them.

Let me give some examples of programs that are funded under this jobs fund in the Province of Manitoba. There is the development of a technology resource centre in which major computer companies participated.

I see that my time is almost up.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY S.O. 62-JOB CREATION
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PC

Douglas Grinslade Lewis (Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Lewis:

Good.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY S.O. 62-JOB CREATION
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NDP

Nelson Andrew Riis (N.D.P. Caucus Chair)

New Democratic Party

Mr. Riis:

The Conservatives say "good" because it must be very hard on them when I point out that Manitoba is the one province in Canada where business investment is the highest per capita and where there is a migration of people into that province because that is where the opportunities exist in western Canada. Unemployment is the lowest in that province which just happens to have a New Democratic Party Government. Those are the facts.

In conclusion, if the Government is really committed to its election campaign that jobs was its number one priority, it can look at models on which to base its programs. It can look at the conservative Government in the Province of British Columbia which is ruining that economy, or at the Province of Manitoba that has developed one of the stronger economies in the country. Jobs are in fact being created on a daily basis. People are migrating there and government investment, con-

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February 12, 1985

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sumer confidence and investor confidence are rising. Those are the two alternatives.

We in the New Democratic Party hope and pray that as the new Government devises its plans and discusses alternatives at the First Ministers' conference later this week, it will use Manitoba as a model for getting the country's economy back on track and allowing unemployed Canadians once again to participate in a meaningful way in Canadian society and the economy.

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PC

Douglas Grinslade Lewis (Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Lewis:

Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to the Hon. Member's speech. I have also read the motion. Given the Hon. Member's interest in the House and the fact that he has been here since 1980, does he recall there ever being an Opposition motion presented which was so subservient to the interests of a political party in a province?

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Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY S.O. 62-JOB CREATION
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NDP

Nelson Andrew Riis (N.D.P. Caucus Chair)

New Democratic Party

Mr. Riis:

Mr. Speaker, I think I understand the question. Let me preface my remarks by saying that not only have I been here for five years, but I have been an observer of the House of Commons for many more years. I have also been a concerned Canadian for 43 years. I believe we are at the most critical point in the future of our country. I do not believe there has been a Budget presented in the last three or four decades that has been more important than the upcoming Budget.

As a Member of Parliament from British Columbia, 1 see a particular political ideology at work in the economy. We can quote many people besides opposition politicians who describe that approach as being disastrous, one that simply leads to more unemployment and less confidence. It is a plan that results in a loss of hope for the future by older and younger Canadians in that province.

Last night I met with five businessmen from Vancouver. They are leaders in that economy and I asked them about their opinion of the economy for the next six months. They said that they saw absolutely no hope for the next six months and only wishful thinking after that.

That is why we felt it is important at this point, when we know that the Government is serious about finding a proper solution to get the economy of Canada back on track, to look to other models. The Government could look to Australia or Great Britain, but we felt that rather than looking at the international community it could look to Canada where there are two models to draw upon for information. That is why we selected the one real success story in Canada today as a model. The model just happens to be headed by a New Democratic Party Government. I suspect if it were headed by some other government, we would still identify Manitoba as an appropriate province.

Let us look at the successes, Mr. Speaker. Why do we look at failures for a model? This tells us a little bit about the Conservatives. They look around and say: "Listen, the economy of Great Britain is falling on its face, the economy of British Columbia is falling on its face; let us use these two

areas as our models". We say let us use other countries as our models. Let us use as a model what is going on in Australia, where the unemployment rate is 8 per cent today. Perhaps we should look at Sweden or Norway where the unemployment rate is 3 per cent today. Let us look at West Germany where interest rates today are 5.5 per cent.

Many people have been caught up with the Tory rhetoric that this is it, that this is the reality, that there is no alternative. Our responsibility as a concerned and effective Opposition is to say there are other alternatives. The Province of Manitoba is one of those other alternatives.

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PC

Robert Lloyd Wenman (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Wenman:

Mr. Speaker, in view of the Hon. Member's concern about the creation of jobs and the availability of jobs that comes through Canada's capacity to compete in the great markets of the Department of Defence of the United States or in other markets covering anything from toothpicks to mattresses to computers to military equipment, and if it offsets our gain, would the Hon. Member support the creation of additional jobs in his riding or in the Province of British Columbia where Canadian businessmen can compete? Does the Hon. Member encourage and support that kind of activity?

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NDP

Nelson Andrew Riis (N.D.P. Caucus Chair)

New Democratic Party

Mr. Riis:

Mr. Speaker, I speak for my Party when I say that the kind of jobs and the kind of economic enterprise that we would like to see support for today is not necessarily the kind of enterprise that is associated with the build-up of the American arms industry.

The mayors of Canada came together and said: "You, the Government of Canada, we have billions and billions of needed urban infrastructure that must be built". It is not a question of should be built; it has to be built. I am talking about sewage treatment, water treatment facilities, senior citizens' housing, other kinds of social housing, roads, bridges. In other words, things that will be with us for decades and perhaps generations. How long does a tank last? How long does a bullet last? How long does any military technology last? It might be valid for a few weeks, a few months, at best a few years.

We are concerned that it is time now to develop the necessary supports to develop the processing, the secondary industry, the tertiary industry and the quaternary industry of this country. I do not see the present Government doing that. I see the present Government getting off on a tangent and, if you like, maintaining the status quo, saying to the large corporations: "We are going to rely on you to expand the economy". I hear a brilliant statement coming from a Conservative opposite. That is the kind of positive criticism that we can expect.

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PC

Robert Lloyd Wenman (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Wenman:

What would you do with Bristol-Myers in Winnipeg?

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NDP

Nelson Andrew Riis (N.D.P. Caucus Chair)

New Democratic Party

Mr. Riis:

In The Financial Post for today it is reported that the big oil companies' profits are up 50 per cent over last year. We read that corporate profits have returned to the levels they were back in 1980.

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PC

Robert Lloyd Wenman (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Wenman:

Why don't you answer the question? Would you cancel 30,000 defence jobs in Canada?

February 12, 1985

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY S.O. 62-JOB CREATION
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NDP

Nelson Andrew Riis (N.D.P. Caucus Chair)

New Democratic Party

Mr. Riis:

I am suggesting that if we are going to develop the economy of Canada, we know what can be done within Canada. We know we have the resources within Canada to accomplish that; we have the will of the people, the expertise and the capital.

We in the New Democratic Party, Mr. Speaker, have faith in the people of Canada. We do not have to look outside for alternatives. We do not have to look outside for our investment money. We do not have to look outside for our expertise. We have faith in the people of Canada and I wish the Conservative Government would have faith in the people of Canada and their abilities as well.

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PC

Robert Lloyd Wenman (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Wenman:

The Hon. Member mentioned particularly a lot of interest in Manitoba. Is the Hon. Member recommending to the Government of Mr. Pawley that the contracts with Bristol-Myers and other major employers in that area should be cancelled, or should they be expanded when there is opportunity to expand? Will the Hon. Member support that expansion and those additional jobs, or does the Hon. Member want to do away with the 30,000 jobs in Canada involved with these industries? Does the Hon. Member support that industry or does he not?

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NDP

Nelson Andrew Riis (N.D.P. Caucus Chair)

New Democratic Party

Mr. Riis:

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the point the Hon. Member is making. I have two responses for him. One, I am not going to suggest what any provincial Government should or should not do. Provincial Governments are quite capable of deciding on their own. I am suggesting some alternatives for our national Government.

I think it is appropriate, if we want to get a return on our investment of federal dollars, that we develop our educational system and our manufacturing industries. That is where the greatest return is. Take a look at our resource industries. Why do we not start processing some of those resources? In other words, we should do something new. We should initiate something new in terms of economic development. That is what the Government is elected to do. It was elected on a change of policy. It was not elected to perpetuate the same policy to which the Liberals introduced us for many, many years.

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PC

Marcel Danis (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Deputy Speaker:

The period for questions and comments is now over. We shall resume debate.

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Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY S.O. 62-JOB CREATION
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LIB

William Warren Allmand

Liberal

Mr. Allmand:

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. It is my understanding that in a debate such as this where the motion is an NDP motion the Government should respond. Unfortunately, I see no Minister here.

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PC

Barbara Jean McDougall (Minister of State (Finance))

Progressive Conservative

Mrs. McDougall:

There are two.

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February 12, 1985