Mr. Lyle S. Kristiansen (Kootenay West):
Mr. Speaker, in rising to debate the principle of the bill now before us, Bill C-19, one is struck by what I would call the somewhat schizophrenic behaviour of the government. On the one hand, the government doles out money to business to subsidize the private sector to create jobs in the short run, as exemplified by this bill, and on the other hand, sometimes in co-operation with other governments, they hand out millions to business, again to subsidize the private sector to destroy jobs in the longer run. Obviously this bill is an example of the former, and the example to which I want to refer in just a few moments is a rather glaring illustration of the latter.
The attitude of the government would seem to be summed up rather well in the words of a rather well known actor, Peter Ustinov, when he said, "I find myself of two minds on the subject-one more or less in disagreement with the other." That appears to be the attitude of the government.
As I said, this program seems to fall into the first category-handing out money or doling out money to some of the private sector in order to create jobs in the short run. Are they temporary jobs? How temporary are they? Do we really know, as yet, how many jobs have been created by this wage subsidy program, most of which will be at the minimum wage or very close to it, I would suspect? Perhaps we could hear something more from the government as to what level of income they expect people to live on who hold the jobs which are, in large part, created by this program. Is the purpose of this bill to open up to new applicants or new businesses the addition of more employees in the creation of more production, or is it to extend the current jobs already created in that sector?
In any case, I should like to now comment on the opposite end of the pole. A story appeared in the Toronto The Globe and Mail on April 21 entitled: "$140 million grants to mills will cost 600 to 800 lost jobs". The federal government will put up one-third and the provincial government of Ontario in this case will put up two-thirds under the Department of Regional Economic Expansion program, which is the program we are dealing with here. The Department of Regional Economic "Contraction" would perhaps be a better term, especially if this is to indicate the kind of path on which that department is embarked. The almost $50 million, which is the federal government's contribution to this particular program, is not, to our way of thinking, in line with the recent statement of the Prime Minister (Mr. Trudeau) that the policy of the government is to "help those who need help the most". If that is the case, I think we have come upon a rather startling definition of those who are "in need" in our society.
1 should like to mention some of the companies. The article which appeared in The Globe and Mail reads as follows;
April 29, 1980
Employment Tax Credit Act
Among the companies given grants so far, Great Lakes Forest Products Ltd. could lose 200 jobs at its mill in Dryden. An additional 240 will be lost at an Abitibi-Price Inc. mill at Iroquois Falls.
Mr. More, who is the pulp and paper consultant to the Ontario department of industry and tourism, according to the article also said the following:
-another 280 jobs will be iost at Ontario Paper Co. Ltd. in Thorold; about 100 at Spruce Falls Power and Paper Co. Ltd. of Kapuskasing; and 20 at Domtar Inc. in Red Rock.
If this is the government's new definition of those "in need" in our society, then it perhaps strikes some of us in our corner of the House as strange that that is where the public welfare bill of this government is going. It is quite in line with the kind of corporate welfare which has been passed out for many, many years by this government, the former Liberal government and the "blue blip" that appeared somewhere in the middle.
Apparently these are corporations which the government thinks are in need of this assistance. We are paying almost $50 million out of the federal treasury to eliminate between 600 and 800 jobs. I wonder what the Minister of Industry, Trade and Commerce (Mr. Gray) would think about some of the companies. Some of them are multinationals, some of them are 100 per cent subsidiaries of American corporations, and others have interlocking directorships which are somewhat more obtuse in nature.
Is E. B. Eddy Forest Products Ltd., a subsidiary of George Weston Ltd., a firm that is really "in need"? What about Spruce Falls Power and Paper Co. Ltd.? The company is 100 per cent United States owned. What about the Ontario Paper Co. Ltd.? That company is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Chicago Tribune Co. All of these companies have regular profits in the tens and in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Why do they need subsidies from the public purse-out of the pockets of working taxpayers-in order to do what they ought to be doing if they are interested in running efficient and proper businesses? It is rather beyond the wildest extent of my imagination. I do not know how we can legitimize that as being a proper charge on the public purse.
Meanwhile hundreds of smaller independent companies in the forest industry in particular are in severe danger of going belly-up due to some of the other policies of this government. While Bill C-19 may be all right in itself, it does nothing to put a dent in the kind of unemployment the other policies of this government are creating. Under some circumstances maybe there could be a proper case for the kind of social assistance that is being offered to these corporations.
Again I should like to refer to Mr. More, the pulp and paper consultant to the Ontario department of industry and tourism, the provincial partner in this giveaway, and what he said about these companies' attitude. He said the following:
-the industry endangered its position in the world market in past years by not having the business sense to expand and consolidate.
Also he said:
As a result, the government now has to guide it with multi-million dollar incentives.
Mr. More's words describing their attitude in past years are rather colourful, but I should like to quote his remarks as they appeared in The Globe and Mail. I am sure The Globe and Mail would not print anything which should be censored. It reads as follows:
They take the attitude: "When things are good, we'll go like a son of a bitch and make good profits, and when they're bad we'll tough it out."
Those are the words of an official of the Conservative government of Ontario describing the attitude of the compag-nies to which this government is giving $50 million because they did not do their jobs.
Topic: GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic: EMPLOYMENT TAX CREDIT ACT