Mrs. Diane Ablonczy (Calgary—Nose Hill, Ref.)
That this House calls on the Minister of Finance to increase the Canada Health and Social Transfer by $1.5 billion and forgo the $1.5 billion increase to federal grants and contributions in this year's federal budget.
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to introduce this motion to the House this morning.
I would like to advise the Chair that I will be splitting my time with my colleague from Calgary East.
The motion before us today is very simple. It is a very small first step that the government could take today to put its money where its mouth is on the health care issue.
The issue is simple. The motion states that the finance minister be directed to cancel the additional money that he gave to grants and contributions in the last budget and instead put that money into health care.
We are talking about $1.5 billion. The government at this point spends over $13 billion on grants and contributions. The finance minister increased that in this budget by $1.5 billion. We are saying that over $13 billion is plenty at this point for the government to spend on grants and contributions, particularly in light of its very uninspiring track record at mismanaging these moneys.
We are saying that, instead, this additional $1.5 billion, topping up the $13 billion already going into grants and contributions, should be put into our ailing health care system.
This is a very reasonable motion and it is a very small step that the government could take on the issue of health care.
I will first talk about the government's shocking record of mismanagement on grants and contributions. Of course, we know about the record of the human resources department, which spends over $3 billion in grants and contributions a year.
A recent audit revealed that the government was so lax in managing this enormous amount of money that in 46% of the cases there was no estimate on who would be participating in the projects that were funded. In 72% of the cases there was no cash flow forecast. In 80% of the cases there was no evidence of financial monitoring. In 87% of the cases there was no evidence of supervision of the projects. In 97% of the cases there was no evidence that anyone had checked on the background and what money might be owed by the recipients of the grants.
Let us look at an audit that was done of the transitional jobs fund, just one of the programs that is being funded by the government. That audit showed that, of the private sector partners interviewed in the survey, 47% said their projects would have gone ahead without TJF funding. Almost half would have gone ahead anyway.
In actual numbers, putting public and private funds together, because the minister likes to talk about partnerships, all of the partners together contributed $104,000 for every new job. All of the others would have been created anyway. The jobs created were for an average of $13 an hour, which works out to $27,000 a year. It cost the government $104,000 to create a $27,000 job. Go figure. At the same time our health care system is going begging for funding from this government.
The survey added: “The sustainable results must be treated with caution. The estimates are still based on mere expectations, not real experiences”.
In other words, these jobs that cost $104,000 each to create are not even, for sure, long term. They may disappear shortly.
Let us look at an audit of the Atlantic groundfish strategy, which spent billions of dollars. The April 1999 report of the auditor general stated: “We have little assurance that all contributions under the Atlantic groundfish strategy were used for their intended purposes. These were part of TAGS active labour adjustment measures, which were managed, or shall we say mismanaged, by Human Resources Development Canada”.
Today the news is about HRDC grant cheques. Cheques for nearly $200 million of HRDC job grants were sent to destinations with missing, invalid or non-designated postal codes. In other words, our money is ending up in the hands of people who were not intended to get it because the government is so mismanaging that it cannot even get the address right on the envelope.
Another headline reads: “Misusing federal grant money”. The human resources department tells the Bloc Quebecois that it cannot have information about a grant because it is under investigation. The minister said “No, it is not under investigation”, and that same day, mysteriously, the investigation disappeared. We have to wonder why. Is there an investigation or is there not an investigation? Yet, the Prime Minister has said that anyone caught abusing money will pay for it. Investigations seem to appear and disappear like fireflies on a June night.
Another headline concerns Amtrak. The government secretly loaned $1 billion to a U.S. railroad. This is the same government that excoriates a supposed move toward American style health care. It seems quite happy to support $1 billion for an American train company, but not $1 billion for health care.
Another of today's headlines concerns the Export Development Corporation, which has loaned billions of dollars to foreign companies, of which almost $3 billion has already had to be written off. Imagine what that $3 billion which the government squandered could have done for our health care system. The government does not have money for health care, but it does have money for the Export Development Corporation so that selected companies in Canada can get sweetheart contracts. Those companies, just by the by, have been heavy supporters of the Liberal Party.
Another headline today concerns Telefilm Canada, which is heavily subsidized by the government to protect our culture against those nasty Americans. One of the companies that we have been supporting with our money, which we work for, has been fraudulently using Americans to write scripts so they can get a tax credit. This is just today's news.
Another headline concerns DND overpayments. It notes that on at least three cases the defence department paid the same bill twice.
That is the government's record of mismanaging our money, and yet the government says it has no money for health care. That just is not good enough.
Today my colleagues and I will be talking about why the government should get serious about putting money into our health care system, which it has stripped of the resources needed to keep it on an even footing. My colleagues and I will talk about the numbers, about the billions that have been stripped from our health care system by the government, while it misuses, abuses, squanders, wastes and pork barrels billions of dollars on other programs. It is not good enough and we want it stopped. We want a reversal, and that is what this motion is about today.