Osvaldo NUNEZ

NUNEZ, Osvaldo

Personal Data

Bloc Québécois
Bourassa (Quebec)
Birth Date
September 10, 1938
arbitrator, lawyer, union advisor

Parliamentary Career

October 25, 1993 - April 27, 1997
  Bourassa (Quebec)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 4 of 79)

April 14, 1997

Mr. Osvaldo Nunez (Bourassa, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to speak to Bill C-93, an act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 18 by the Minister of Finance.

This bill, which was tabled last week, proposes measures to implement the government's latest budget. It was tabled just last week, and the government wants to use the fast track to refer the bill without delay to the finance committee for consideration.

As we all know, the main objective of the latest federal budget is to fight the deficit, but at the expense of the provinces, with cuts of $4.5 billion in transfers to the provinces, and at the expense of the most vulnerable in our society, with cuts affecting health care, education and social assistance.

This was a very harsh budget. Today, we read in the results of a Gallup poll that Canadians feel they are worse off than they were four years ago. It is the truth. Most Canadians feel they are worse off than they were four years ago when the Liberals were elected.

The article in La Presse says:

The majority (45 per cent) of respondents believe that they are worse off now than in 1993, in other words, since the Liberals came to power in Ottawa. A little less than one

third (32 per cent) feel they are now better off, while one fifth (20 per cent) have seen no noticeable difference in their lives during these past four years.

In practically all age groups, negative responses predominate. This is particularly obvious in the 50 to 64 age group, where only 16 per cent of respondents said they felt they were better off and54 per cent said they were worse off. There you have the Liberal government's disastrous record for the past four years.

However, the 1997-98 budget contains no job creation measures. Worse yet, the federal government has been the main source of collective layoffs during the past years: 45,000 public servants lost their jobs. And because of cuts made by the provinces, because of the reduction in transfers of federal funding, hundreds of thousands of people have lost their jobs in provincial and municipal governments and in our school boards. In Canada generally, 200,000 people lost their jobs at provincial and federal levels.

As I said earlier, I represent Bourassa, a riding in Montreal which is now the unemployment capital. The federal government has done nothing. It appointed a minister to look after Toronto but did nothing of the sort for Montreal.

As regards the deterioration of Canadians' situation, I have here figures on poverty for the year 1995, a report from the National Council of Welfare. In its report, the council says that the statistics on poverty for 1995 were alarming. Growing family poverty raised the overall poverty rate to 17.4 per cent and the number of Canadians living in poverty to close to 5.1 million, a new record for the past 16 years. The number of such people was higher in 1995 than in the darkest period in the two recent recessions.

As far as children are concerned, the rising level of family poverty has caused a corresponding increase in poverty among children. In 1995, the level of poverty among children reached20.5 per cent, and the number of poor children was over 1.4 million. This is the highest figure ever reached in the past 13 years. Those are the statistics for 1995. We are in 1997, and the situation has got even worse.

The immigrants form another sector of the population becoming increasingly poor in Canada. What does the report say? The levels of poverty among single people born in Canada and families where the heads of households were born here are invariably lower than those of corresponding groups of immigrants. In 1995, for single people born in Canada, the rate was 34.9 per cent and for those who had immigrated to Canada, it was 42.8 per cent. The poverty rate for heads of households born in Canada was 12.9 per cent, while it was 20.3 per cent for those who were born elsewhere.

In addition, the government has imposed a tax of $975 on immigrants, including refugees. These days, Canada is the only country in the world to impose a tax on refugees, which contravenes the Geneva convention.

We have said that the level of poverty is increasing among old people, especially among people who have lost their jobs. At the age of 45 or 50 they are no longer able to find work. The government has made the situation worse by eliminating the program for older workers adjustment.

The situation is very serious in my riding in Montréal-Nord, but there are also signs of hope. I took part in the inauguration of the Montréal-Nord CDEC, the Corporation de développement économique et communautaire. Discussions have been going on for five years, and this was my priority when I was elected a member of Parliament. The CDEC finally began operations in February.

The Government of Quebec made a contribution to the CDEC, as did Montreal North, but there has not yet been anything from the Government of Canada, which was to put in $170,000. I take this opportunity to pay tribute to the exceptional work done to date by the CDEC's president, Claude Tessier, and by the chairman of its board of directors, Yves Deslauriers.

I also pay tribute to another organization that does a lot for the people of Montréal-Nord, the Montréal-Nord chamber of commerce founded in 1947, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. It has made a major contribution to the economic development of our city. I would also like to pay tribute to its president, Richard Bertrand, and its executive director, Olive Lebeau.

This 1997 budget falls down in many areas. We are going to point these areas out in the election campaign to be launched in two weeks' time.

We are going to talk about the Liberal government's broken promises. We are going to attack the government for its total failure in the fight against unemployment. We are going to condemn this government that has cut tax credits for workers' funds, particularly the Quebec workers' solidarity fund, an important tool for the creation of lasting jobs. We are going to talk about the Liberal government's terrible record over the last four years.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Budget Implementation Act, 1997
Full View Permalink

April 10, 1997

Mr. Osvaldo Nunez (Bourassa, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, after that half-hour procedural debate on the scope of Standing Order 73, I am going to enter the discussion on Bill C-92 to amend the Income Tax Act. The purpose of this bill is to implement certain measures announced in the 1996 budget. I wonder why the government tabled this bill only yesterday, more than one year later.

To begin with, the purpose of the 1996 budget, like its predecessors, was to battle the deficit. But the losers in the battle were the provinces, the workers, the unemployed and the most marginalized members of our society. This budget pretends to reduce the deficit by taking the $5 billion surplus from the unemployment insurance fund. We can see the consequences today: the bulk of the budget problems of the Government of Quebec today are, in fact, due to the 1996 budget, as well as the 1995 and 1997 budgets.

Many of the difficult choices the Government of Quebec has to make are the consequences of the cuts in social transfers to the provinces that have been decreed by Ottawa. I must state that it is immoral for the government to use the unemployment insurance fund surplus to solve its deficit problem. These funds do not belong to the state, to the government, in any way; they belong exclusively to the workers and to the employers.

When Bill C-12 reformed the unemployment insurance system in Canada, it drastically reduced benefits, their duration, and the number of unemployed people eligible for benefits. Workers and especially the unemployed will not forget Bill C-12 when they vote in the next election.

Neither Bill C-92 nor the budgets brought down in 1996 and 1997 contain any provisions for the kind of tax reform in this country that the Bloc Quebecois has been demanding repeatedly. The 1996 budget only went so far as to create a technical committee on business taxation, a committee whose appointees had a conflict of interest and whose members advise large corporations on how to save on their income tax. Moreover the committee's mandate, which was for a set term, has already been extended until the end of 1997.

In the next election, taxation will be a central issue. The Bloc Quebecois will talk about Canada's unfair tax system. The tax burden must be shared equitably between private citizens and corporations. There should also be a greater measure of fairness in the tax system's approach to large corporations and small businesses, because small businesses are the sector that creates jobs.

Our current tax system does not promote job creation, although unemployment is our number one problem today in Canada, Quebec, the maritimes and everywhere else. Again, we have to mention all those promises that were not kept by a government that was elected under the slogan: jobs, jobs, jobs. Today, unemployment has reached 12 per cent in Quebec and 10 per cent in Canada. The main victims are women, young people and workers around 45

or 50 years old who can no longer find work when they are laid off. Immigrants are also hit by unemployment.

Last week in Montreal, I met several leaders of the Spanish speaking community who told me that 40 per cent of the members of this community are now unemployed in Montreal, more than half of the black population in Quebec, especially Montreal, is unemployed. These people want to work. They are even prepared to take on difficult jobs, to work the night shift, to work for the minimum wage, even without employment insurance. They want to work, but the government is doing nothing to create jobs.

In my riding in Montréal-Nord, almost one third of the labour force is unemployed. People come to see me at my office and ask me to help them find a job. This is very sad, because there is almost nothing I can do to help them. Zellers, which is doing very well, announced it was closing its warehouse in Montréal-Nord, so 378 employees will lose their jobs as of July 1.

Last week, we attended a meeting called to create a committee to salvage these facilities. The meeting was attended by federal members, of course, and provincial members, representatives of the municipality of Montréal-Nord and the unions. I want to take this opportunity to ask Zellers not to close its warehouse in Montréal-Nord, an area that has a very well trained and highly skilled workforce with considerable experience in this field.

I also take this opportunity to appeal to business to develop social responsibility. Banks, for example, which made more than $6 billion in profits last year, more than any other business sector in Canada, also lay off the largest number of employees. That is unacceptable.

Again, I think the government should introduce a bill imposing a minimum tax on corporations, and banks in particular.

The situation in Montreal, and Montreal North in particular, is extremely difficult. More and more women, children and immigrants are living in poverty. A very large share of the responsibility for this most acute problem lies with the federal government. There are 1.5 million poor children in Canada. More than 5 million Canadians and Quebecers are living under the poverty line. In Montreal North alone, about 9,000 households, or 20 per cent of the total population, rely exclusively on social assistance.

Efforts have been made these past five years to establish a CDEC. I made this a priority when I ran for office. The CDEC has been in operation since February and is doing a great job. However, the federal government will not contribute $170,000 to the Montreal North CDEC, but at the same time, older workers are no longer covered by the POWA, the Program for Older Worker Adjustment, since it was abolished on April 1.

For all these reasons, I can only find fault with this government, and all this will come out during the next election campaign.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Income Tax Budget Amendments Act, 1996
Full View Permalink

April 9, 1997

Mr. Osvaldo Nunez (Bourassa, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to call attention to the 40th anniversary of the Guide de Montréal-Nord , which was founded on January 1, 1957 by publicist Paul Trudeau and journalist Yves Ryan, the present mayor of Montréal-Nord.

This weekly, delivered to every home in Montréal-Nord, is part of the Groupe Transcontinental, which owns some 100 weeklies in eastern Montreal and the lower Laurentians region. It has been edited for some years now by Jean-Claude Banville, a man with a great commitment to his community. I will be attending the gala evening event which will mark the start of these celebrations on May 23.

My congratulations to the management, the journalists, the support staff and all of the readers of the Guide de Montréal-Nord, a weekly with an essential role in the social, cultural and community life of my riding of Bourassa.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Guide De Montréal-Nord
Full View Permalink

April 9, 1997

Mr. Osvaldo Nunez (Bourassa, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, last February 11, I asked the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration a question about unacceptable delays in processing files at the IRB.

When the Liberals were in opposition, they often criticized these delays. Now, they are in power and the problem has become worse. Right now, there are over 30,000 files awaiting a hearing or a decision, over half of them in Montreal. Even the IRB thinks there should be no more than 15,000 files to process at any given time. On average, refugee status claimants must wait 15 months for a decision, and often two, three or four years.

These delays are extremely costly for the federal government, to which the IRB reports, and for the provinces, which must pay the cost of welfare, and of health and other social services. These delays also have serious consequences for an individual seeking asylum, who lives in uncertainty and alone, separated from his family. Only if there is a decision in his favour can a refugee bring his wife and children over.

When I asked my question, I also denounced the government's systematic patronage in its appointment of IRB commissioners. During the election campaign we will be criticizing the government for adopting the same patronage practices that it itself denounced in the past.

Amnesty International recently criticized the Canadian government for being more or less indifferent to the fate of refugees and for imposing new restrictions on their entry. Last March, this organization launched a campaign in Montreal in support of refugees that is being held simultaneously in all countries in which Amnesty International is present.

Only 10 per cent of refugees have access to industrialized countries. Only those who can afford the trip, by plane or ship, are able to take refuge in the West.

It should be pointed out that relatively few people seek asylum here. Canada ranks 17th in absolute terms and 46th, if the number of refugees is compared to the GNP. In addition, Canada is the only country in the world to charge refugees and their dependants a settlement tax of $1,475 per adult and $100 per child.

Last April 3 in Montreal, I met with a group of leaders from Quebec's Zairian community headed by Tshibuy Mulay Dyany, a constituent in my riding. The group included a number of people seeking asylum who complained about the IRB's lengthy delays. They thanked the Bloc Quebecois and particularly the critic for citizenship and immigration for their efforts to help Zairian refugees.

Today, we learn that there is widespread chaos in this country with the advance of Kabila's troops. I think that the dictator Mobutu should step down and leave the country immediately in order to facilitate a peaceful return to democracy. For 35 years now, the Mobutu regime has systematically violated the most elementary human rights.

At my nomination meeting last Sunday, which was attended by Gilles Duceppe, Bernard Landry, Henri Massé, Bernard Daoust, a number of MPs and MNAs and 300 Montrealers, I appealed to the Government of Canada to come to the assistance of tens of thousands of Zairian refugees. Many are dying there daily through illness or starvation. Today, I repeat this request to the government to be sensitive to the needs of Zairian refugees.

Topic:   Adjournment Proceedings
Subtopic:   Criminal Code
Full View Permalink

March 20, 1997

Mr. Osvaldo Nunez (Bourassa, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, tomorrow, March 21, is the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Proclaimed in 1966 by the UN, this day commemorates the massacre in South Africa of a group of black demonstrators during a non-violent anti-apartheid protest.

I hope that Quebecers and Canadians will take part in this day to combat racism by developing the values of equity, justice and mutual understanding.

I would like to underscore the exceptional contribution made by ethnocultural communities to Quebec and Canadian society. The riding of Bourassa, which I am proud to represent in the House of Commons, is a good reflection of the pluralistic nature of Quebec.

This day should be an incentive to us to show greater tolerance, open-mindedness and respect for differences.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Racial Discrimination
Full View Permalink