June 2, 1993

NDP

Howard Douglas McCurdy

New Democratic Party

Mr. McCurdy:

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for the question.

Yes, we are talking about real interest rates. That is the difference between the cost of borrowing and the increase in the CPI.

The fact is that right now and for this past decade for the first time our interest rates have been as high as they were during the Depression. That is very interesting. Only in the last Great Depression, and I mean the thirties, were real interest rates as high as they are now.

Not since the thirties has there been such unencumbered freedom for transnationals and financiers to advantage themselves. There are so many parallels between now and then that it ought to cause us all to wonder. Did we not learn from the Depression that we cannot have a world in which the selfish greed of corporations can be pursued without limits, controls or regulations because inevitably that will be at the expense of the vast majority of people. That cannot go on.

Right across this world, across this land and across Europe we are seeing the results of it as unemployment mounts. All other statistics indicate economic growth, whether it be GDP, inventories or any of those things that this government cites, but the fact of the matter is that unemployment continues to mount.

Germany, a nation that has had an unemployment rate of 4 per cent or less for many years, today has an unemployment rate of 12 per cent. That is the inevitable result of a system in which corporations are free of any obligations to any nation. A policy such as that which has generated the deficit, which favours corporations as the Liberals did to an extreme and as the Conservatives are doing now to an equal extreme, is a policy that means

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devastation for too many, as we see now, and that must change.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   MAIN ESTIMATES 1993-94-VOTE 1
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LIB

Joseph R. (Joe) Comuzzi

Liberal

Mr. Joe Comuzzi (Thunder Bay-Nipigon):

Mr. Speaker, I want to compliment the hon. member from Windsor on the speech he just gave. During his work career I know that he was a teacher at the university I attended. I thought he would have taken some of the economic courses for which the University of Windsor is noted.

I was interested in his remarks with respect to how he anticipates he could bring the budget we are discussing here today under a zero deficit and start paying off the debt.

It appears to me that on the one hand what he is saying should be applied, but to the Government of Ontario. On the other hand, perhaps what we should be doing is consolidating his thinking in respect to the creation of jobs and the reduction of the deficit with respect to what this government across is doing for the whole of Canada and what he is proposing should be done by this government.

Given the realities of governments, which Premier Rae is beginning to realize today, how does the member propose putting those philosophical issues that he propounded here today in this House and apply them to the province of Ontario? The province of Ontario is the economic generator for Canada and if we could get Ontario going again then certainly we could get Canada going again.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   MAIN ESTIMATES 1993-94-VOTE 1
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NDP

Howard Douglas McCurdy

New Democratic Party

Mr. McCurdy:

Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member indicates, I did once teach him but I failed. I took all of those economic courses at the University of Windsor and I guess he failed there too.

Ontario is a classic example of the subtlety with which the neo-conservative agenda has succeeded. I am not talking about the cuts in transfer payments to the provinces. I am not talking about the increased burden of social assistance payments that have been imposed upon the provinces. I am not talking about the inequity of this federal government in its treatment of Quebec versus

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Ontario with respect to the payment for the cost of immigration and refugees. I am talking about a situation in which high interest rates and a burgeoning debt, which have resulted partly from that and are partly due to the fact that the Liberals had a secret debt that they left behind when Premier Rae came to office.

Its freedom is considerably limited if there is not some kind of co-ordination of monetary policy and fiscal policy between the federal and provincial governments. The province does not control monetary policy. It does not control the high interest policy. All of the provinces are burdened with that.

One thing that is important to understand is that the degree of freedom of any province, and especially Ontario, is significantly affected by the free trade agreement. It is well known that Ontario lost nearly

300,000 industrial jobs from the free trade agreement alone, certainly a significant portion of them, and 397 plants went down south.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   MAIN ESTIMATES 1993-94-VOTE 1
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PC

Bernard Valcourt (Minister of Employment and Immigration)

Progressive Conservative

Hon. Bernard Valcourt (Minister of Employment and Immigration):

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour for me to participate in the debate on the main estimates for

1993-94. This budget shows this government's commitment to control spending and to implement measures that will lead to major gains in efficiency. Of course, we must continue to strive to deliver as efficiently as possible the services that Canadians want. We are now in a period requiring changes, and I submit to you that Canadians are ready to support the government in its efforts to make this transition successfully.

You will find in these main estimates many savings that should make it possible to achieve the measures announced in the budget of February 1992 and the December economic and fiscal statement. In making these savings, the government has made significant progress in disposing of activities, agencies and organizations that no longer meet an essential public need. This practice is compatible with our philosophy of maintaining a fair balance between the demands for federal services from Canadian citizens and our ability as a country to pay for these services through the tax revenue which we collect.

We have recorded numerous achievements in the area of expenditure management over the past eight years. Allow me to provide you with a few examples.

Program spending has been held at 16.7 per cent of Canada's gross domestic product for the past two years compared to 20 per cent in 1984. During the same period the growth in programs spending, including Public Service salaries, has averaged only 3.7 per cent per year as compared to an average inflation rate of 4 per cent per year. This translates into a net real decline of 2.6 per cent.

In the 1991 budget a commitment was made to introduce legislation that would limit programs spending for the next five years. The Spending Control Act has been approved by this House and the spending plans outlined in these main estimates are well within the limits set out in that piece of legislation. In fact the Minister of Finance has announced that the limits under the act will be further reduced to bring them in line with the reductions set out in our recent budget.

These examples clearly demonstrate the government's commitment to restraint and improved efficiency. Careful stewardship of taxpayers' dollars is being and will continue to be exercised through the rigorous control of expenditures as well as the implementation of innovative management practices.

Since taking office in 1984 our record in that regard has been one of success. In keeping with this tradition these estimates for 1993-94 will live up to the high expectations that Canadians have set for this government.

This year the main estimates total $161.4 billion and through these estimates the government is seeking Parliament's approval for $48.9 billion in new spending authority, of which some $13.9 billion of interim supply was granted earlier through Appropriation Act No. 1 of 1993-94. The remaining $112.2 billion represents statutory payments that have been granted previous parliamentary approval.

The growth in the main estimates of 0.4 per cent is the outcome of a number of decisions and factors affecting

June 2, 1993

the budgets of all 137 programs by 111 departments, agencies and Crown corporations appearing in the estimates. This growth can be divided into two broad categories: adjustment to statutory items, which amount to a net increase of $423 million or 74 per cent of the year over year growth, and changes to voted items which amount to $140 million or 26 per cent of the year over year growth.

Canadians have indicated that they want governments to be more frugal in their spending, make smart investments that will provide a multiple pay-back, avoid expensive future costs and improve efficiency so Canadians receive more value for their tax dollar.

To this end the government continues to carefully scrutinize resource requests by federal government agencies. We must meet the challenges of restraint and serving Canadians in the best way possible to ensure that spending takes place only where Canadians need or want to receive services.

The Minister of Finance in his latest budget announced a series of initiatives that will bring about significant reductions in expenditures and contribute to lasting efficiencies in government programs and services. A total of $30 billion was announced in spending cuts and other measures. The cost of government will be reduced in 1993-94 as a result of the cuts in operating budgets by $12 billion annually by 1997-98. Program expenditures will be restrained in many areas, including defence spending and operating subsidies.

The reduction in grants and contributions for 1993-94 as announced in the December economic statement will be maintained with further and deeper reductions coming in future years. Expenditures on social housing will not be increasing in future years but will remain at the current level of approximately $2 billion a year. Funding directed toward shelters for victims of violence, housing on Indian reserves and persons with disabilities will continue as planned. Ongoing expenditure restraint has left government departments with approximately 30 per cent less purchasing power than was available to them in 1985.

Given that the cuts outlined by the Minister of Finance will continue through 1997 and 1998, tough decisions will be necessary regarding the future of programs that we Canadians may no longer be able to afford. In addition to the expenditure reductions an-

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nounced in the budgets, the restructuring of government is an imperative toward achieving increased government efficiency. Since 1984 we have been pro-active in this area. Twenty Crown corporations have been sold or dissolved and 40 more government organizations have been wound up, merged or consolidated. Considerable savings are possible through a continued emphasis on government restructuring and streamlining.

Cost recovery and user fees have been actively promoted by this government for the collection of revenue for services that benefit a small portion of the population. This system removes the obligation from taxpayers to involuntarily pay for a service which they do not use. With the implementation of user fees the government will maintain services that might otherwise be eliminated. Simply put, those who benefit the most from the service should contribute the most. The end result of cost recovery and user fees has been the fostering of a more service-oriented, market-based approach to conducting government business.

In the past eight years these user fees contributed greatly to helping the government maintain service delivery. Since 1985 the funds collected annually through this payment system have doubled and are now well over $3 billion.

With the current spending cuts, public service managers and organizations have to deal with stable, or in many cases increasing, demand at the same time as available resources continually decline. Managers have had to try to achieve this balance creatively, sensitively and constructively. To deliver programs in this new environment our managers have had to be more innovative and examine their workplace in order to be more efficient.

I think this has resulted in increased team-work and co-operation within the Public Service, as our employees understand their essential role in Canada's competitiveness on world markets. Dedicated and competent federal employees throughout the country and in missions abroad serve Canadians in such fields as health and safety, consumer protection, regional industrial assistance, aid to native people, scientific and technological assistance, foreign aid, representing and protecting our interests abroad, protecting people and property, protecting taxpayers through the fair and efficient administration of the Income Tax Act and customs and excise

June 2, 1993

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legislation and of course in the whole delivery of social programs.

As an employer, the government wishes to recognize this important contribution public servants have made by considering and implementing many new ideas to better meet Canadians' needs and in that way with that quality of service to bring the government closer to the people.

The government continues to give priority to the adoption of innovative management practices. Since it took power it has implemented a wide range of measures to improve operations management. Many recent initiatives flow from Public Service 2000, the major renewal exercise announced by the Prime Minister in 1989.

In the past year tremendous progress has been made under PS 2000. Legislation to reform the Public Service was passed by Parliament and the system of operating budgets now applies to all government departments and organizations.

As of January 1993,12 special operating agencies have been formally established with two more expected to receive approval shortly. These agencies, while operating within the structure of the Public Service, have been granted special flexibilities in order to manage themselves in a similar fashion to private sector businesses.

The rationale for establishing these agencies is to improve the quality of service to Canadians through the ability to respond quickly to changes in client needs. The Canadian public's expectations of its governments are changing. There is an increasing demand for simpler, quicker and more sophisticated access to government services and information. The government will continue to ensure that Canadians receive a high quality of service while at the same time operating within the resources available.

To do this we will continue to rely on the commitment displayed by Public Service employees in serving their clients. We are also committed to removing obstacles encountered by Canadians in dealing with the government. Our clients should find government services easier to use and more accessible. These goals will primarily be

achieved through the restructuring of government operations and continued training of our employees. With this in mind several government initiatives are currently under way.

Standards of services are being developed across government departments through client consultations: a single window concept of delivering government services. This initiative would see several government departments working together to provide a broad range of services at a single point of service delivery.

Canadian business service centres are currently being tested in Edmonton, Winnipeg and Halifax. These centres are designed to provide the business community with quick, accurate information on government services, programs and information at a single point of service. In total, 18 federal departments and agencies are participating in this initiative.

Hours of service are being examined with the aim of becoming more client-oriented and flexible to meet changing client needs. A single business registration number is being tested this year. This number would in some instances replace up to two dozen different numbers currently used across government departments. Departments are also reviewing the forms with the twin goals of eliminating unnecessary paperwork and adopting a more user friendly design. Electronic procurement is becoming widely used within government operations and investment in new technology and employee training will continue to ensure an efficient and effective Public Service for the future.

The message of this government is clear. We are serious about restraint and to this end we have acted on the wish of taxpayers for greater reductions in government spending.

The continuation of government reform is necessary. We must implement new approaches to organizing government operations in order to deliver the services most desired by Canadians. The measures that were announced in the recent budget and in the December economic statement clearly indicate our commitment to sound fiscal management and to reducing the demands on the Canadian taxpayer.

June 2, 1993

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   MAIN ESTIMATES 1993-94-VOTE 1
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LIB

Joseph R. (Joe) Comuzzi

Liberal

Mr. Joe Comuzzi (Thunder Bay-Nipigon):

Mr. Speaker, I want to ask the minister some questions with respect to the department for which he is responsible.

His department as we know is twofold, immigration and employment. He and I have talked many times about our thoughts on immigration. We have asked many questions in this House about the immigration problems this country is facing and the horrendous costs that some of those decisions his government has made are adding to this terrible deficit that we are all trying to come to grips with.

I want to concentrate my questions to the minister today on the area that involves employment. As he was making his remarks just a few moments ago on the amounts of money he is requesting to administer his department, the thought just occurred to me that if we could get our economy in some kind of shape, we could create the jobs necessary because it is on his department of employment that the whole country rises and falls. Sometimes he has no control over the amount of expenditure because of the situation and the tragic condition of our economy.

I would think if his government could create these necessary jobs, which I give credit to him for trying to do even though it is simply not working, that the deficit of our country then would come under some kind of control. The very amounts that he is talking about in the expenditure for unemployment is the very amount that this country is in deficit on a national basis.

The creation of employment is really twofold. First we have to look after those people who are entering the work force on an annual basis, the students and those who are coming into the work force for the first time. Unfortunately during this economic period we also have to take care of those people who find that they no longer have a marketable skill and therefore find it necessary to be retrained.

It is in that first instance that I ask the minister why we have not used the technology available to us in Canada in order to enhance that position where we can handle those who are coming into the job market for the first time but more particularly those who need retraining. That involves the unskilled, the issue of upgrading and the issue of the retraining program itself.

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The minister and I both know how costly this is to his department this year. I am appalled that we have not used the technology that is available to us in order to enhance that program.

This past weekend I visited friends in one of the northern United States which has the same problems as we have. They have developed, using the technology available to them, a communication network. It has 67 university campuses, college campuses and high school campuses within the state, which is a little smaller than Ontario. It has connected those electronically. It will be providing to those citizens who need upgrading of skills the ability to receive that knowledge in their homes. It will be providing a training program for those who want to enhance their present skills because we know that it is always cheaper to keep a job than creating a new one.

The third item it is going to be progressing with is the ability to take those people whose jobs are now redundant and retrain them for the jobs of the future. Using the technology that we have available in the marketplace we can offer those services at a much lower cost than we are presently paying.

I ask the minister if his department has considered this or if he would like to meet with me afterward to pursue the use of this technology to upgrade and retrain our work force.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   MAIN ESTIMATES 1993-94-VOTE 1
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PC

Bernard Valcourt (Minister of Employment and Immigration)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Valcourt:

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member points to what is a very important and crucial part of the challenge that all Canadians are facing. This has to do with the necessity of having a framework in this country that allows youth and workers who are displaced by technological change to be able to retrain and acquire the skills and the knowledge they need to be active participants in this economy.

The hon. member will recall that this government, with the changes that we made to the Unemployment Insurance Act, has activated some of these passive funds that were used to give income support and to try to activate them to help unemployed Canadians.

I would point out to the hon. member the fact that in this fiscal year we will be spending $2.4 billion under the UI developmental use portion of that training program which is a 400 per cent increase from two years ago.

June 2, 1993

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Furthermore, out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund we will be spending $1.6 billion on some of those training programs. The challenge, which is one we collectively share as Canadians, is divided among all levels of government. We all know that education and training is a provincial matter in the sense that they are responsible for those institutions.

Through our spending power, yes, we tiy to help and be helpful and actually at the federal level we spend nationally 73 per cent of all moneys that governments spend for training. It is spent by this department.

The learning component of the prosperity initiative and this private sector group led by Mr. McCamus and Mrs. Marie-Josee Drouin consulted with over 6,000 Canadians in 186 communities, with every business group and union in Canada that were interested in participating and they came up with this plan. One of their recommendations was the electronic highway.

What the hon. member saw in that northern state of the United States of America is exactly what we will be able to do with that infrastructure project which my colleague, the Minister for International Trade and Science and Technology, announced following the December economic statement. That electronic highway will allow us and our partners in the private sector and the provinces to be able to disseminate a lot more skills and knowledge to those displaced workers and to those Canadians who want to acquire the skills and knowledge that will allow them to become active in the labour market.

I think it is a valid point that the hon. member has raised. It is one that we have acted upon and it is one that I will encourage many, many more Canadians to look into. Gone are the days where one level of government some place could fix it. This is a matter for all of us at all levels, and we as Canadians individually-parents, children, educators, leaders in communities-must work together in trying to give us the kind of work force that can succeed in this global economy. These are not buzz words, this is the reality. We must be prepared to do that, and that is what the prosperity action plan calls for, partnerships, which we are encouraging.

I will close on this note. When we look back to December's economic statement and the most recent budget where we announced cuts of $30 billion over five

years, one department, mine, employment and immigration was not cut in terms of its training budget. Quite to the contrary, in December we increased spending in order to meet that exact challenge that the hon. member has referred to.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   MAIN ESTIMATES 1993-94-VOTE 1
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LIB

Jean-Robert Gauthier

Liberal

Mr. Jean-Robert Gauthier (Ottawa-Vanier):

Mr. Speaker, I would have liked to put a question to the minister or comment on his speech, but in any case, I appreciate his supportive comments. He said, in referring to the speech by the hon. member for Acadie-Bathurst, that it was an excellent idea to have the Auditor General of Canada table specific reports in the House, from time to time, so that members would be more aware of the general state of government operations. I agree this is a very good idea. In fact, I introduced a bill in the House about a year and a half ago, which suggests just that.

Now that I have the minister's support, I will try and persuade more ministers to back my proposal. Maybe some day they will do it. I think it would let the Auditor General of Canada do what he is supposed to do, in other words, report from time to time to the House of Commons, as an officer of the House, giving his views on certain developments in the economics of government operations.

Mr. Speaker, we have before us Bill C-134, if I am not mistaken, which proposes to approve some $161 billion in spending by the government for the coming fiscal year.

On February 25 this year, the Conservative government tabled the Main Estimates, indicating the spending plan for 83 departments and agencies for the 1993-94 fiscal year. This spending plan, based on the economic and fiscal statement made by the Minister of Finance on December 2, will require, as I said earlier, about $161 billion plus, with the Supplementary Estimates tabled on May 25, another $414 million, so that the government's total expenditures for the current year add up to $162 billion, or at least that is what we are being asked to approve today.

Mr. Speaker, prior to concurrence in the House, the Estimates are examined in committee. Spending plans are usually examined by parliamentary committees, and at this important stage, all members, irrespective of their party affiliation, can hold the government accountable to

June 2, 1993

Canadians for the very substantial amounts of money that it wishes to spend.

However, there is, in this case, a big difference between theory and practice. In fact, because of its majority, the government controls the election of the committee chairmen, who are responsible for scheduling meetings to consider the Estimates.

I must say I am extremely concerned and disappointed when I see how some committee chairmen show so little interest in considering the Estimates for their departments. I have some statistics which I could table or send to anyone who is interested in the attendance of committee members or the interest of committees in reviewing expenditures. In fact, the Public Accounts Committee, which I have the pleasure to chair, is the only committee chaired by a member of the opposition. All other committees are usually chaired by a government member.

Now if we look at the statistics for these committees, they are really not impressive. We are talking about major departments like Indian Affairs, Agriculture Canada, Finance, Forestry and Fisheries, National Health and Welfare, Social Affairs, Senior Citizens, Status of Women, and I could go on with the Department of Transport and Official Languages. These parliamentary committees have shown very little interest in the main estimates for their departments or agencies in the years 1991-92 and 1992-93.

As for the 1993-94 main estimates we are being asked to approve today, the record is not particularly impressive. The Standing Committee on Finance, for instance, an important committee of the House which is responsible for examining the votes of the Department of Finance and the Department of National Revenue, representing a total of several billion dollars, did not bother to examine the votes at all. This is indeed a sad commentary.

The Energy, Mines and Resources Committee and the Transport Committee, both very important, did not meet once to examine the estimates. I think this is a major flaw in our parliamentary system that affects the government's accountability to the House of the Commons. I am sorry to say this, but it is irresponsible of members to

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criticize the government if they fail to provide for thorough scrutiny of the government's estimates, of its spending plans.

Today, only the Conservative members of this House are suicidal enough, if I may use the term, to vote in favour of a motion like the one we have before us today, a request for $161 billion, without prior review of the impact of government spending plans. This is like giving the government a blank cheque. I am not prepared to do that, Mr. Speaker, even if I am in the opposition. I am not prepared to give the executive, the Conservative government in power today, a blank cheque for $161 billion without thorough scrutiny and without ensuring that both transparency and accountability have been part of the process.

I believe I have every reason to say this. When considering the Public Accounts for the fiscal year that has just ended, I saw that the tax provisions for foreign corporations cost Canada hundreds of millions of dollars in foregone revenue. No taxes were paid, even when companies made sizable profits. They did not pay taxes because of loopholes in our tax legislation. What they are doing is not illegal, not against the letter of law, but it is certainly against the intent of the law, as I see it.

According to the Public Accounts, the cost of implementing the GST, which was prohibitive, totalled $1.7 billion, including $808 million in start-up costs and $900 million for transitional credits. The Prosperity Secretariat awarded 22 contracts for a total value of $3.3 million without public tenders. This is very disturbing, but no one queried this. Sixty-five million dollars in pension payments went to recipients who were not entitled to these payments. Extra amounts granted in 1989-90 for the Canada Student Loans Program may cost us $39 million. Canadians do not realize this, but Canadian students owe the Canadian government $1,088 billion. It bothers me that we are being asked to approve a major bill involving $161 billion and that the members of this House did not take the time, in my opinion, to examine this information carefully. Actually, the government is asking us to hold our noses and vote for the bill. I am not prepared to do that. In fact, the government wants to be absolved of its sins without benefit of confession. In the circumstances, I am certainly not prepared to support this bill.

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If we examine the reasons for the government's mismanagement, we realize that the Conservative government has not been consistent. After the Throne Speech, the budget is the first document that gives a general view of the government's policies. It reflects the government's financial position. Its impact on programs and program management and the consequences for the deficit and the debt are obvious.

The budget generally includes a collection of miscellaneous statistical information and economic forecasts, and during the past nine years we have been treated to some examples of Conservative rhetoric. This information is supposed to explain to Canadians, in simple terms that are easy to understand, how the government's regulatory decisions, including the monetary policy of the Bank of Canada-and Heaven knows its high interest policy has done a lot of harm-as I was saying, how all this helps to meet the objectives set by a good government that makes decisions with the requisite transparency, in the general public interest.

During the past few years, the Auditor General has elaborated on this subject in his reports, and especially in his 1991 Annual Report, in which he suggested how the government could communicate to the public, in a way that is both informative and effective, the results of its monetary and fiscal policies.

He recommended a "scorecard". In fact, the Auditor General suggested that the government prepare and publish, as part of an annual financial report, a "scorecard" that would show Canadians the results of its deficit reduction plan. These scorecards would compare actual results with budget forecasts. It is too bad the government never introduced this scorecard so that Canadians would have a better understanding of the objectives and the problems involved.

The hon. member for Acadie-Bathurst explained the situation very well, and I think some members would do well to read his speech. If the government had implemented this recommendation by the Auditor General of Canada, it could have avoided the catastrophic discrepancies in recent projections on the deficit. The government has lost a great deal of credibility because it is incapable of producing accurate forecasts.

For instance, in February 1991, the government predicted that the annual deficit for 1991-92 would be $30.5 billion. A year later, 11 months after the beginning of the 1991-92 fiscal year, the government announced that the annual deficit would be $31.4 billion. However, when the financial statements were published last fall, the real deficit was up to $34.6 billion, a difference of more than 13 per cent between what was projected and the actual figure, a difference of more than $14 billion in the projections of the Department of Finance. With all their experts and very sophisticated economic models, they were unable to predict the size of the deficit. They have all the necessary equipment, all the experts, but they cannot give us the proper figures.

In the private sector, someone that incompetent would be dismissed immediately. For eight years now we have been putting up with this government that cannot manage this national debt properly. I recognize the size and magnitude of the debt; I admit that compound interest is a problem. I know that a debt starts off easy, but as it grows, interest on the interest adds to the problem and costs dearly. That is the problem. However, the government has not explained the size of the problem to Canadians. Pressed to justify its predictions that were far off the mark, the Conservative government was never able to provide proper explanations that would have improved its future projections and helped it avoid making the same mistakes all over again.

To reduce the deficit, the Conservatives favoured budget cuts, without first setting priorities. The government did not understand that the deficit, employment, economic growth, inflation, taxation and good management are all inter-related and that co-ordinated, balanced policies are required to get the country out of the mess we are in.

Since the government has such a bad record in predicting the budgetary impact of its poor decisions, who can believe that this government is telling the truth when it tells us that the deficit in 1997-98 will be $8 billion, according to the latest budget? I think that projection is questionable. Besides, who would believe the Conservative leadership candidates who are now promising to wipe out the deficit in four or five years, depending on which one you listen to, without bringing

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June 2, 1993

in new taxes or raising taxes? They should explain what they mean. Many experts tell us that it makes no sense.

Obviously the government has lost control of the debt when the deficit estimates are so far off. Debt management is disastrous now. There has not even been an assessment of debt and debt management; it is important that such an assessment be undertaken. In the Standing Committee on Public Accounts recently we were told that the Department of Finance was starting to think that it would be good to review the debt program. It is high time that this be done.

Over the years the government has borrowed over $70 billion from the federal employees' pension fund without knowing the impact of such a decision on future budgets. By applying this policy blindly, the government does not know if this borrowing is cost-effective or if this policy costs hundreds of millions of dollars. No one has evaluated the impact of this borrowing. Mr. Speaker, $70 billion is a lot of money.

With questionable financial management, the Conservative government is mortgaging the future of several generations of Canadians. In the Ottawa region alone, in my region here, 62,311 people were collecting unemployment insurance or welfare in April 1993, up 4,400 or 7.6 per cent from last year. This is 11.6 per cent of the labour force in the National Capital Region. With the present government, there are 1,581,000 unemployed people and

2,723,000 on welfare; 12,333,000 Canadians are working but they can hardly have confidence in the future when the news is not good, the debt is too high and the government is run so badly.

With a tax rate bordering on 40 per cent, the citizens of Ottawa-Vanier, my riding, like all other Canadians, are fed up with being milked by the government. They want actual figures, reasons, simple, clear and specific information. They want to know how their money is managed. They want the government to account for how it collects and spends their dollars. That is clear. In fact, they want an honest government. The legacy which this government is preparing to leave is too far from these objectives to be what Canadians could consider to be good financial management.

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The Conservative record of fiscal mismanagement will go down in history as a great failure. Nine years after the Tories took over the budgetary reins, the national debt has soared to more than $450 billion. During their tenure the Tories have added at least $260 billion to the bill that we and our children must pay. Time and time again the Tories have missed their mark on debt management.

The question to be put: how can we afford this government? I think Canadians will demonstrate soon, this year, that this exorbitant government must be put out to pasture. The failure of the Tories to manage the debt has made many Canadians extremely cynical about their federal government.

More than one-quarter, 26 per cent of government spending, now goes to service the debt. That is up from

20.5 per cent in 1984. The size of our debt has led to a lot of talk in recent months about the debt crisis. It is important to put this in context.

While we must reduce the debt we are carrying as a nation to lessen the burden on taxpayers and the constraints on government, we need not fear that the sky will fall down tomorrow. There are other ways.

As long as we can demonstrate ably to investors that our country is worth investing in, Canada will not be shunned by its lenders. Confidence in our future goes a long way to encourage and reassure investors. However we must show these investors as well as Canadians that both provincial and federal governments are taking the necessary steps to control spending and that deficits must be reduced.

The Tories have neglected accountability which explains much of the current cynicism Canadians feel about their political system.

Today we are more vulnerable to the whims of international investors because the percentage of the federal debt owed to foreigners has grown from 11 per cent in 1984 to 23 per cent today. Again we must be assured-

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   MAIN ESTIMATES 1993-94-VOTE 1
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PC

Charles Deblois (Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Progressive Conservative

The Acting Speaker (Mr. DeBlois):

Order, please. The hon. member's time has expired.

June 2, 1993

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Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   MAIN ESTIMATES 1993-94-VOTE 1
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BQ

Nic Leblanc (Bloc Québécois Caucus Chair)

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Nic Leblanc (Longueuil):

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to the speech made by the hon. member from Vanier. In my opinion this was a veiy interesting speech. The hon. member described rather accurately the behaviour of the Conservatives, that is the government, regarding the debt. Of course that debt started to grow under a Liberal government of which my colleague was a member. In fact it can be said that this debt started to grow about 20 years ago.

Nevertheless, the hon. member made a pretty accurate description of the problem but he forgot in my opinion, to elaborate a bit on the actions necessary to reduce that debt. We the members of the Bloc Quebe-cois believe that the main reason for this debt is bad management, primarily the result of overlapping jurisdictions of the provinces and the federal government. That aspect was overlooked by the hon. member for Ottawa-Vanier.

In fact, the experts of the Belanger-Campeau commission concluded, and these findings were supported by other experts from France and Great Britain, that this overlapping between Quebec and Ottawa alone amounts to some $2.5 to $3 billion a year in unnecessary administration costs. Moreover, we do not see all the consequences and losses of this mismanagement, which has a negative impact on government revenue, and I am only referring to overlapping between Quebec and Ottawa.

However if you look at all the other provinces this overlapping may represent $10 to $12 billion in operating costs, not to mention of course the losses due to this inefficient system. Again, the hon. member for Ottawa- Vanier did not mention this aspect.

I would appreciate his opinion on this. It is all right to describe what is going on but solutions must also be suggested. The solution that we, Bloc Quebecois members propose is a decentralization of powers. Quebec must absolutely manage its affairs according to its own priorities. This way, we will help this country, whose debt, as we just learned, is considered by the United Nations experts to be equal to that of developing countries.

I am asking the hon. member for Ottawa-Vanier to at least suggest some solutions, since he was a member of that Liberal government for a while.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   MAIN ESTIMATES 1993-94-VOTE 1
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LIB

Jean-Robert Gauthier

Liberal

Mr. Gauthier:

Mr. Speaker, solutions do exist. The problem of duplication between levels of government is a major one and we must resolve it. I think that the hon. member for Acadie-Bathurst has come up with a novel idea today that we should consider seriously. He has suggested that the three orders of government-federal, provincial and municipal-work together to reduce this national debt which could be as high as $575 billion altogether.

He has suggested that, since all of them have stewardship obligations-this may not be the best word to describe the idea I want to convey; anyway, governments have to account for the money collected from the taxpayers and the expenses made on their behalf-some kind of balance should be reached. To shift responsibilities as we have been doing for the past few years from the top, federal level to the provinces, which in turn shift the load onto the municipalities, is no solution because there are some very important players or participants involved. There are cities like Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and other major cities that have a larger population and economy than some provinces but are not involved in setting the monetary or economic policies of this country.

We Liberals have proposed a trilateral conference, so to speak, to bring together the main stakeholders at the federal, provincial and municipal levels so that, together, we can find a solution. It is a matter of stewardship. It is a matter of collective will to solve our problem without passing on to the next level of government, down the line, so to speak, social and financial costs it cannot afford.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   MAIN ESTIMATES 1993-94-VOTE 1
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LIB

Fred J. Mifflin

Liberal

Mr. Fred J. Mifflin (Bonavista-Trinity-Conception):

Mr. Speaker, first I want to compliment my hon. and learned friend from Vanier who indeed has an established reputation in this House for accountability of government, both in government and in opposition. I believe that in municipal politics and as a school trustee he also established that reputation for accountability. I very much appreciate and respect the points he has made.

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I was going to ask him to elaborate on some other measures he might have. I know that time is short, but I just want to make one comment before that.

I learned here this evening and had it confirmed that the training budget in Canada right now through UIC and the Minister of Employment and Immigration is $3.8 billion. I look at how that money is spent versus the job development programs which have meant a great deal for my riding.

I see the member for Burlington who will remember the difficulty we went through when those job development programs were removed. That initiative had given the opportunity for those people who did not have work to get involved in programs. It was a major initiative for communities. It has now been taken away and has given way to $3.8 billion in training programs. I think one has to look at the effectiveness of that. It bears very close watching.

Perhaps in the time remaining my hon. colleague from Vanier could give us indications of some of the other areas of accountability for the over-all management of the public debt he may have in mind.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   MAIN ESTIMATES 1993-94-VOTE 1
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LIB

Jean-Robert Gauthier

Liberal

Mr. Gauthier:

Mr. Speaker, I am interested in the question because tomorrow morning in the Standing Committee on Public Accounts we are looking at chapter 9 of the Auditor General's report. It deals exactly with the effectiveness of these employment and immigration programs. If he wants to come and participate in this great experience with the department and its experts, I would be more than pleased to receive him.

The question is one of accountability. Maybe it is a buzz-word, but it is a very important word for Canadians today. Accountability as far as I am concerned is the obligation to explain how one has used one's responsibility. That is what accountability is: responsibilities and the way you use them. Accountability is only meaningful when used in tandem with authority and responsibility. [DOT]

I know it may be heavy stuff for some people. However if we do not understand that governments must be accountable to us for the way they spend and intend to spend our money, then there is absolutely no way that any government can operate or that any country can work.

I am saying that we have not had accountability as a direct reaction of this government to the people of Canada. I plead with governments in the future. I know our Liberal government when we do form the government will be fully accountable to Canadians on all aspects of public finances.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   MAIN ESTIMATES 1993-94-VOTE 1
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PC

Dorothy I. Dobbie (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of State (Indian Affairs and Northern Development); Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs; Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of State (Agriculture))

Progressive Conservative

Mrs. Dorothy Dobbie (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs and Minister of State (Indian Affairs and Northern Development)):

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to engage in this debate. This is a topic that is a grave one to all Canadians. It should be of tremendous interest to all the members in this House.

I want to begin by dealing with a couple of issues. I would like to point out that the main estimates this year show that federal spending will rise only marginally by

1.5 per cent. This is lower than the growth rate, the cost of living and so on. This is the lowest growth rate in decades. It underlines our firm commitment to cutting waste and to improving efficiency in providing full value for every tax dollar spent.

At the same time the move to contain spending creates a real management challenge for us. It is difficult to make these kinds of changes, for example how can government deliver services effectively to Canadians with tight resources. It means we have to change the way we do things and take different approaches.

One of the ways in which we are responding to this challenge is through the Public Service managers. They must be as committed and resourceful as they can possibly be and need the tools to be flexible and innovative in the work place. I believe they are that resourceful and that committed and that they do have the tools, particularly since the spending estimates, they will have the guidelines and the leadership to show them the direction we want to take.

Let me first sketch very briefly the reasons that we need management ingenuity to ensure that Canadians continue to be as well served as they have in the past, but even more critically, to ensure that we are well served in the future as we go through these very difficult times.

The April budget extended and deepened the spending reductions that flowed from last December's economic statement. Together these measures will give us

June 2, 1993

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about $7.5 billion in savings over the next five years in government operations.

A key element of this spending restraint package is the freeze on employees' salaries for the next two years. Currently salaries account for about 55 per cent of the operating costs of the federal government.

The total employment in the Public Service is expected to drop by 16,500 by the year 1997-98 in order to accommodate the needs of the budget restraint. A good portion of this reduction will be handled through retirements and resignations. Nobody on this side of the House wants to create hardship for the many valuable public servants who have served us so well over the years.

Even though we are going to try to do what we can through attrition and through these measures, unfortunately there is no doubt that some people will find themselves looking for some other kind of work. That is one of the sad things, but it is true.

The government will have to provide services, no question about it, with fewer staff in a climate of very rapid change. That means that the way we do things has to change. Doing things the same old way is just no longer possible. We must find innovative new ways. We must be adaptable. We must be flexible.

Those are the things that will be essential to ensure that we can cope with the challenges of the very real budgetary restraints that all governments in Canada face.

That brings me to my second point. There are instruments available for managing change in this new, leaner Public Service that is currently under development. One of them is the initiative to reform the Public Service known as PS 2000. That has been an important step toward equipping managers to be more innovative, flexible and accountable. As the hon. member has just pointed out it is an issue that is necessary in a democratic society.

In this initiative managers have been given greater flexibility and more authority as well as responsibility and accountability for their decisions. They have more freedom to deploy staff. That makes it possible to make

practical decisions rather than bureaucratically-driven decisions. This means that decision making has moved down to the shop floor and that we are reducing layers of management when it comes to making some small but essential decisions in order to move the business of government along in a very efficient way. It also helps to remove some constraints that in the past have had the tendency to stifle creativity which then creates some job dissatisfaction. Obviously out of that flows ineffectiveness.

There are other benefits as well to PS 2000, but I want to focus now on operating budgets to illustrate the kind of change that is taking place in the Public Service. Change is needed for us to meet these challenges that are being created by the very necessary budget restraints that must happen in the next few years.

Operating budgets were implemented across the Public Service on April 1 of this year. There are some very fundamental and interesting changes. Under this operating budget approach managers will receive a set amount of money for the year to cover wages, operating expenditures and minor capital expenses. Operating expenditures would include utilities, materials, supplies, goods and services and the kinds of things they would generally have to purchase in the orderly conduct of their business. Some minor capital items might include furnishings, machinery or other equipment needed to operate an efficient administration.

This may not seem like much to you, Mr. Speaker, but this really is a significant change in the federal Public Service. To get a feeling for what kind of change this is and what it means, I think we should look back for a moment at the way things used to be done.

Since 1970 the Treasury Board has controlled the number of person years and the amounts of salary dollars that departments are entitled to. A person year for those who do not know is the equivalent of employing one person for one full year. It is one of the ways we measure productivity and employment activity here in Ottawa.

When the government started to reduce the work force in 1985 person-year controls really made it difficult to respond to the demands for cost-recovered services because a very structured and bureaucratic system had been set up. It was also an impediment to joint initiatives with the private sector, so clearly we needed to be more

June 2, 1993

flexible in our approach to doing the business of government.

The value of operating budgets is that managers will now look at the total cost of providing a program or service and not just the person years involved. The amount of money received will no longer depend on the number of people in a department. Managers will now have to use the measurement in a more business-like, productive and effective manner. They will be able to decide what the best mix of human and other resources will be to get the job done.

Those are the kinds of thoughtful decisions that have to be brought to bear on the business of government if we are going to achieve the goals we have set for ourselves and the even tougher goals that may be set for us in the coming years.

This means we will have increased efficiency and most importantly, and I say this to my hon. friend who has just finished speaking, increased accountability because I think he is quite right. Accountability must go hand in hand with authority or there is no hope for the people.

Managers will also be asked to focus their thinking on cost effectiveness and not just slash and bum cost effectiveness because nobody benefits from that. There must be very carefully thought out methods of reducing the cost of the Public Service and ensuring that the operations of government are managed in a way that gives the best value for the tax dollar invested by each of the taxpayers. That should ultimately reduce the over-all cost of government.

Perhaps if the Public Service is totally and fully committed to this, as I know it is, it will help us find ways to reduce programs or perhaps even do away with programs without doing any harm to the citizens of this country who expect their tax dollars to be spent wisely and well.

Mr. Speaker, I think you will see that this is one way we can approach government to make the budget go a little bit further in a way that does not create any tremendous pain for any particular group. The framework for this is largely in place and we should see a new, creative and more effective management developing over the next few years.

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I just want to turn briefly to another point and that is the quality of our Public Service, managers and employees. I must say that in my experience here for the past five years and based on a reference point of my experience in the private sector for over 20 years, I have to commend many of our public servants who do a tremendous job. They are very dedicated and committed to the people of Canada and to being professionals and providing a professional service.

I know it is difficult for many people in the Public Service right now. So many things are changing and the opportunity to look forward to a lifetime steady job with some security is no longer as available to us as it once was. For people in the Public Service this is a very large change. I think it creates some strong sense of instability and perhaps in some cases even fear.

I believe we should commend all the members of the Public Service for the work they have done and the way they have conducted themselves through these difficult times when there is so much insecurity all around us. I know they have shared in the sacrifices that all Canadians are making and have had to make in order to bring the budget deficit into line. Perhaps we will have to make even more sacrifices in the future as we begin to tackle the deficit and make sure we do away with it completely.

The Public Service has shown imagination and ingenuity in this challenging period and I am very proud to mention some recent examples. For example, there is an award for innovative management that has been created by the Institute of Public Administration and Coopers and Lybrand. For the first time, perhaps because of these new attitudes that are being generated, the federal government Public Service was among the finalists. The departments of fisheries and oceans and supply and services were selected as two of the five finalists for their very creative and innovative ideas and their new approaches to doing things in a more efficient manner. I think that points to the commitment and dedication of these people to making sure the dollars we have are spent in the most effective way and their understanding that these are difficult times for everybody.

Last year in this House we passed legislation creating National Public Service Week, so we do appreciate the work that public servants do. During that week in mid-June Canadians will have an opportunity to recognize the accomplishments of Public Service employees. I want to commend all Public Service employees for the

June 2, 1993

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great dedication with which they have served their country and this government over the past number of years.

The main estimates before the House are tangible proof of the government's serious approach to financial management. Although we have managed to take a very large chunk out of the deficit, particularly with regard to the operating deficit which has been turned around in the past nine years, there is still a great deal to do.

Perhaps now more than ever before Canadians are willing to help us do this because attitudes have changed immeasurably over the last few years. I think people now understand they have a say and should be saying what they believe governments should be doing, rather than perhaps being the passive recipients of programs and expenditures created by politicians for interests that may not be entirely beneficial to the general public.

I think people also know that we now have to separate what we want from what we need because there is no more money left for the kinds of luxuries we allowed ourselves over the past two decades. I would say in pointing this out that we have all been responsible and not just any particular government or regime. The world has been on a spending spree for a couple of decades and now it is time to pay the piper. I believe Canadians are telling us in no uncertain terms they are ready. They understand that tough decisions must be made to get the deficit wiped clean from the slate and put the operating surplus to work creating funds that will create choices for people in the future.

So these main estimates are a veiy good step in the right direction and obviously are one of the first steps in the second phase of this government's plan to turn around the economy of Canada and make it viable and vibrant to ensure that Canadians have future choices available to them.

I think the next step will be a preparation in our own minds, as one of my colleagues across the way said in an earlier speech this afternoon, to critically examine every single thing we do and every single penny we spend. I think all our programs and expenditures must be put to some acid tests and they are quite simply: Does this program deliver the kind of benefit that it was expected it would deliver to Canadians? Is there a measurable benefit from this expenditure or not? Does the program provide full value for the money that is being expended?

Frequently there are programs in place and after a few years one wonders why they are still operating but it is politically difficult to perhaps make the decision to stop them.

Finally, is this something we really need or is it just something somebody wants in terms of expenditure? Programs that cannot meet that acid test or expenditures that do not meet that acid test will have to be ended if we are really going to get serious about dealing with this deficit.

In a year from now I hope that I will be standing here dealing with the main estimates and saying that because of the good work that was done in 1993 we are now able to proceed with the next step and take even larger chunks out of the deficit and bring more rationalization to government. One of the ways that we can do this of course is by changing the way we do things now. We have to be prepared to take an absolutely critical look not just at what we are spending but at how we are spending money. Perhaps we should take a look at the way government operates and be prepared to make some structural changes to bring some rational thinking to bear on the way government operates.

I believe that there is also a greater role for members of Parliament, as one of my colleagues opposite also said earlier this afternoon, to be involved in this critical examination of government expenditure. It seems to me that every member in this House should find one of his most important tasks to be the critical examination of government expenditures and helping the policy makers and the cabinet to discover the kinds of changes that need to be made in the coming budget processes.

Obviously that is what we are here for. We are here to ensure that Canadians get full value for their dollars. Part of our job is to act as a watch-dog over government expenditures and to ensure that the money being spent is for Canadian priorities and not just for the priorities of some politicians.

We must also be careful to examine not just where our dollars are spent but how we spend them. Are they being spent in the most cost efficient manner? When somebody puts together a set of specifications for public works or for some other product we are buying are those specifications based on what is cost effective and will do the job or are they based on some other criteria that does not respond to the public need right now? I think there

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are dollars to be shaved off in the way we spend money as well as where we spend it.

Finally we must be prepared to question the status quo in absolutely every area. I think we can learn a great deal by looking at something like the New Zealand model where in fact it was understood that unless some major structural changes took place to government that that government would go into bankruptcy. One of the things it did was to shave off 11 per cent of its operating costs in one year by setting up a contract between a minister and his deputy. That contract was based on the ability to deliver productivity throughout the year rather than to meet a budget target that might have been set artificially or had grown over the years because of artificial cost of living criteria.

I will close by saying that we have to be flexible and we have to be imaginative. Our managers and our management have to be the same way. I am pleased with what I see already and I am convinced that Canadians will expect more in the coming years and that they will continue to be well served.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   MAIN ESTIMATES 1993-94-VOTE 1
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LIB

Jean-Robert Gauthier

Liberal

Mr. Jean-Robert Gauthier (Ottawa-Vanier):

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to note that the member for Winnipeg South agrees that one of the important issues is accountability. Maybe I could add stewardship which I think I mentioned in my speech a few minutes ago. By stewardship I mean the action of elected officials to judiciously examine every expenditure made against the capability or the capacity of Canadians to pay. I think that has to be made more public and more prevalent in our system.

I would like to make one comment on Public Service 2000 on which my friend from Winnipeg South made some remarks. I agree that the objective to give managers more powers to manage is a reasonably good objective. The difficulty with that is that there is absolutely no accountability to Parliament by managers. In Public Service 2000 if there is one weakness in the whole system it is that managers will have more powers but they will not be accountable to the elected representatives of this House for the use of that power. I find that to be a weak link in the whole system.

I want to ask my Progressive Conservative friend a question about something that was suggested in this House which I alluded to in my remarks and that is the need for more concerted efforts of all levels of federal, provincial and municipal governments to co-operate and to meet regularly to discuss this over-all national debt that we have to face.

As she knows, her government has off-loaded a lot of responsibilities-if I may use that word-onto provincial authorities and they in turn have off-loaded onto municipal authorities. It could be social welfare programs or housing or whatever.

I want to ask her if she would agree with the idea of having a federal-provincial-municipal conference-the large cities with the provinces and the federal government-to come to grips with the magnitude of the deficit. I am told the deficit is close to $575 billion. That is the total of federal, provincial, and municipal debt right now. We are accumulating debt at a rapid pace across this country.

I think there is a clock in Vancouver that ticks at some $63,000 every minute. It comes to about $100 million a day. In 10 days there is $1 billion added to the debt. The compound interest on the debt-paid interest on interest-is one of the difficult problems we have to face.

I am asking her specifically if she would support such an initiative, for example calling a tripartite federal-provincial-municipal conference to discuss our debt problems and how to address them.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   MAIN ESTIMATES 1993-94-VOTE 1
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PC

Dorothy I. Dobbie (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of State (Indian Affairs and Northern Development); Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs; Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of State (Agriculture))

Progressive Conservative

Mrs. Dobbie:

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my hon. colleague. I think that is an innovative thought to bring all three levels of government together. I know that certainly today, although the federal government collects the most in taxes over all because we have the most people to tax there is no question that the second largest level of government is the municipal level. Cities have become the dwelling places of many Canadians and they have huge administrative problems.

The member is right. When one level of government says that there will not be any more increases the next level of government passes that down and there is always somebody at the end that gets squeezed and it is generally the cities.

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I would agree that to bring people together to deal with this issue in a non-partisan way with the same goal is going to be helpful, but I think it is a short term solution. That should not mean that we should not do this. I think it is an excellent idea.

I do believe that we need to go one step further. This is not something new that has just happened to us. This has been around for a long time. Because we have three levels of government we tend to forget that there is only one taxpayer and there is a lot of competition between those levels of government and the taxpayer usually ends up carrying the can on this.

I think part of the reason for that is because this is a federation and we have to deal with it but nevertheless that does not mean to say that we cannot find some long term solutions.

I would go one step further from what my hon. colleague has suggested to say that I think we must set up a mechanism in this country to systematically deal with these budget issues, but more to deal with the dismantling of trade barriers and to deal with the negotiation of national standards in education and health and on labour mobility on a very wide front. I think it is the responsibility of the federal government to take the leadership in doing that.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   MAIN ESTIMATES 1993-94-VOTE 1
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BQ

Nic Leblanc (Bloc Québécois Caucus Chair)

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Nic Leblanc (Longueuil):

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Winnipeg South gave a lengthy explanation of what the government has done and that it has talked with public servants to obtain agreements to cut government spending and program spending in order to improve the financial situation.

In the latest budget tabled on April 26, 1993 on page 19, if we look at program spending, for example, we see that the government did not decrease program spending but increased it. From 1992-93 to 1993-94 the increase is about $3.1 billion. The next year, the increase is again $3.1 billion. In 1995-96 it is $1.5 billion. This means that over the next five years, although the hon. member tells us that arrangements have been made to improve management and to lower program spending, it goes up by about $12.5 billion. That is not peanuts; it is billions of dollars, a $12.5 billion increase in program spending. The

hon. member would have us believe that spending has been cut, but the opposite is true.

The government claims that it can lower the deficit, but it is doing so by raising revenues and not by cutting spending. It will raise its revenues by over $41 billion in the next five years. Where will it get the money? From the taxpayers' pockets again. Canada is already bankrupt. How do you think it will get $41 billion more in the next five years?

I do not know where the hon. member got her information, but I am getting mine right from her government's document, the one from the Minister of Finance dated April 26, 1993. Even worse, at the same time as it increases spending and revenues, the federal government continues to cut transfers to the provinces. It provides less service than before. As the member for Ottawa-Vanier said earlier, the provinces are forced to pass their deficit on to the municipalities. Despite all that, the government will continue to spend even more and thus increase its deficit. That seems rather unrealistic.

That is why I asked the hon. member for Ottawa- Vanier if he thought he had found the miracle solution, thinking that public servants would cut spending. No way! The government does not have the will to really run the country. In the budget we see that spending is still being allowed to rise instead of-

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   MAIN ESTIMATES 1993-94-VOTE 1
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PC

Charles Deblois (Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Progressive Conservative

The Acting Speaker (Mr. DeBIois):

In all fairness I must give the floor to the hon. member for Winnipeg South.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   MAIN ESTIMATES 1993-94-VOTE 1
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PC

Dorothy I. Dobbie (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of State (Indian Affairs and Northern Development); Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs; Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of State (Agriculture))

Progressive Conservative

Mrs. Dobbie:

Mr. Speaker, I think my colleague and friend has made some very good points.

It says in the budget, and the spending estimates reflect this, that we expect to increase expenditures by

1.5 per cent each year. I guess the argument we would have is should expenditures increase at all? Some people are saying that all expenditures should be frozen at 1993 levels and I think a very good case could be made for that.

My friend also asked a question as to where the revenues are going to come from to cover the increase of some $12.5 billion he has added up according to last year's budget. They will not come from the taxpayers. At least not in this budget. They will come from the growth in the economy we projected to be around 2.9 per cent.

June 2, 1993

That is a fairly reasonable projection when some economists are suggesting our economy will grow by 3.5 per cent to 4 per cent over the next few years.

I absolutely agree with the hon. member that we must be very careful not to increase the cost of programs and not to add new programs at a time when people are crying out for us to reduce the over-all cost of government and to get rid of the deficit and begin working on the debt.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   MAIN ESTIMATES 1993-94-VOTE 1
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?

Hon. Chas. L. Caccia@Davenport

Mr. Speaker, it is not an issue of innovation as the member for-

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   MAIN ESTIMATES 1993-94-VOTE 1
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PC

Charles Deblois (Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Progressive Conservative

The Acting Speaker (Mr. DeBlois):

I would appreciate it if the hon. member would indicate to the Chair whether he will be splitting his time.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   MAIN ESTIMATES 1993-94-VOTE 1
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June 2, 1993