Hon. Noël A. Kinsella (Acting Deputy Leader of the
Opposition): Honourable senators, yesterday, our colleague
Senator LeBreton reminded us that in 1993 the 24th Prime
Minister of Canada resigned. Five years later to the day, thanks
to the political leadership of Mr. Mulroney, the Minister of
Finance was able to present a balanced budget.
That was possible because of Prime Minister Mulroney's
vision, leadership and energetic decision-making. I am thinking
most particularly of the implementation of a restructured
economic infrastructure and a modern economy, such elements
as replacing the sales tax on manufactured goods by the GST,
and the free trade agreements. The budget's success is built on
In the decisions made by Mr. Mulroney, we can see his
courage in implementing policies that won him no popularity
contests. They were, however, the right decisions for our
Where national unity is concerned, we see the same quality of
leadership. I remember his statement to the members of the
Newfoundland House of Assembly:
No one can predict the future, but I know that if
Mr. Parizeau gets a chance to hold a referendum, then on
referendum night one thought will go through the minds of
everyone watching with their families as the results come in.
When we look at our children we will think: "Could we have
avoided all of this through Meech Lake?" If that night were
ever to come, the terms of the Meech Lake Accord would
look very reasonable to every member of every house of
assembly across Canada.
At the same time, Prime Minister Chrétien was saying that the
failure of Meech Lake would have no impact on Canada and
Quebec. Honourable senators, history will justify Mr. Mulroney.
Hon. Catherine S. Callbeck: Honourable senators, a special
kind of tree has taken root on Canadian soil - the Canada Tree.
It has sprung from the imagination of a creative young sculptor
from Prince Edward Island, Tyler Aspin. Mr. Aspin has travelled
across Canada collecting pieces of wood which carry with them
special stories of cultural significance to form the content of his
sculpture of a tree.
He began construction of the Canada Tree in June of 1997 in
Charlottetown at the Confederation Centre for the Arts, where to
date it has been viewed by over 30,000 visitors to the centre. The
artist's aim was to develop a sculpture celebrating the history and
spirit of Canada, and to create a conversation among Canadians
in support of national unity.
There are some wonderful and touching stories behind the
artefacts incorporated into the tree: wood from the desk of
Mr. George Coles, one of the Fathers of Confederation in 1867; a
piece of a plank from the sailing schooner Bluenose, celebrated
as the fastest ship in the world during the 1800s; a canoe paddle
donated by the family and friends of Tanya Ritoul, who died
tragically in a canoe accident last year.
Upon completion, the Canada Tree will weigh approximately
3,000 pounds and will be 35 feet high and 15 to 20 feet wide.
The base of the tree is made of 250-year-old red oak. The
foundation of the tree, as the foundation of this great country,
began in Prince Edward Island.
Honourable senators, I invite all of you to an exciting preview
of this work in progress with artist Tyler Aspin, Chairman Basile
Papaevangelou and Laurier LaPierre, a member of the Council of
Friends, in Hangar Two at the Ottawa International Airport at
5 p.m. tomorrow.
The national debut for the Canada Tree will take place in the
spring of 1998 at the Canadian Museum of Civilization. It is
slated for a cross-Canada tour with the highlight that it will
become part of the Canadian pavilion at Expo 2000 in Hanover,
This, however, will not be the end for the tree. After the tour, it
is scheduled to reside at the Confederation Centre for the Arts in
Charlottetown, and a program will be set up to provide a
multimedia educational program for Canadian youth through
curriculum and education-based institutions that promote
Canada's cultural heritage.
The Canada Tree is a model that explores cultures, history,
people and experiences that tell the story of Canada and, indeed,
Canadians themselves. It is a tribute to our similar experiences
and celebrates our differences. I applaud Tyler for his creativity
as well as his dedication to his country. He is a proud Islander
and a proud Canadian.
Increasing Incidence of Osteoporosis in the Population
Hon. Erminie J. Cohen: Honourable senators, approximately
1.4 million Canadians suffer from osteoporosis, and of those over
the age of 50, one in four women and one in eight men have been
diagnosed. As the population ages, this number is sure to climb.
The Government of Canada has stated that osteoporosis costs our
health system about $400 million per year. Health care
professionals claim that the cost is closer to $1.3 billion.
We know that osteoporosis is a thinning of bones over one's
lifetime, which results in fractures in the senior years. We are just
starting to learn how this happens and why. We know that
osteoporosis affects everyone differently, but we do not know
why some suffer more severely than others.
We also know that the public needs to learn more about this
disease. We know that much of the effects can be mitigated
through good diet and exercise, starting at a young age. The
young think that this is a disease of the elderly, and few know
what precautions they should be taking.
It is often after a fracture that seniors find out that they have
osteoporosis. They, and their doctors, did not know that their
bones had been thinning for the past 30 years or more, as testing
for osteoporosis is not part of a routine physical examination.
Given the cost of treating osteoporosis, the fact that we need to
learn more about it, and the knowledge that our population is
aging, the 1995 announcement by the former minister of health
of a five-year Canadian study of osteoporosis was welcomed as a
step in the right direction. Basic research in Canada is
underfunded. We spend $8 per capita on medical research while
the United States spends $66 per capita, and President Clinton
wishes to double their research dollars.
The objective of this study was to determine the extent and
geographic distribution of osteoporosis and the related fractures,
identify and rank the major risk factors associated with this
disease and, finally, measure the impact of osteoporosis on
quality of life and on the cost to our health system. The final
objective, honourable senators, using the resulting data, is to
develop strategies for prevention which will ultimately reduce
the demand on our health services.
Now, without warning and after spending 3.5 million tax
dollars, the government has cancelled the Seniors' Independent
Research Program of Health Canada. As a result, the government
sponsorship of the osteoporosis study, which comprised about
50 per cent of the total funding, also ended, leaving the project
half finished. I noted in yesterday's budget that the government
intends to increase funding to research and health, but not until
the turn of the century. This, however, does not help the lead
research team in Montreal and the people at the nine other test
sites, who have no way to keep the project afloat.
It is this type of mishandling, honourable senators, which
gives government funding for research a bad name and invites
public criticism. When the government has spent $3.5 million in
research, the public wants a finished project. They want results
and they expect a final report. The Canadian public deserves
better management of their tax dollars.
Hon. Donald H. Oliver: Honourable senators, on
February 17, 1998, Statistics Canada released a report on visible
minorities in Canada showing that they numbered 3.2 million
Canadians who identified themselves as a visible minority. This
was significantly important to make page 1 of The Globe and
The government must give serious consideration to these
results, as they provide further evidence that the face of
government must change, as the face of Canada is changing. In
December last, I referred to the shocking lack of progress made
towards employment equity for visible minorities in the federal
public service. December's Treasury Board report on
employment equity highlighted the fact that there were no major
new initiatives to help visible minorities. This in itself was a
shocking admission of failure and indicated a lack of
determination to correct a serious problem. Treasury Board used
a benchmark employment equity figure of 9 per cent. The latest
census data prove that percentage is not only low, it is inaccurate.
Statistics Canada used the same definition as that used in the
Employment Equity Act to identify what percentage of the
population were visible minorities. Today, the figure should read
11.2 per cent.
That is a significant difference. The government has taken
ten years to increase visible minority representation from
2 per cent to 4.7 per cent. In December, I indicated that at the
present rate of change it would take until the year 2020 to reach
a 9-per-cent target. Using the new census data, we can see that
we are now looking at the year 2030. Must visible minorities
wait three more decades for employment equity at work?
On December 18, 1997, Senator Di Nino also stated a concern
for the lack of visible minority representation on the payroll of
the Senate. The Honourable Leader of the Government indicated
that he would bring this matter to the attention of the Standing
Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration to
determine what could be done. Perhaps a report could be made
on what steps have been taken to date.
Consistent with immigrant settlement patterns, almost all
visible minorities, about 94 per cent, live in a metropolitan area;
seven out of ten living in Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal. Toronto
is home to 42 per cent of the visible minority population of
Canada; 18 per cent live in Vancouver, 13 per cent live in
Montreal, and Ottawa has 12 per cent. Clearly our government
offices in those cities do not reflect the numbers.
The government must recognize that our public servants are
the face of our government, and Canadians must see themselves
reflected in that institution. Three point two million visible
minorities are waiting for action, are waiting for equality of
opportunity. We will not wait another 30 years.
Report of Social Affairs, Science and Technology
Committee Requesting Authorization to Engage Services
Hon. Lowell Murray, Chair of the Standing Senate
Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology, presented
the following report:
Wednesday, February 25, 1998
The Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs,
Science and Technology has the honour to present its
Your committee, which was authorized by the Senate on
Tuesday, November 25, 1997, to examine and report upon
all matters relating to the future of the Canadian War
Museum, including, but not restricted to, its structure,
budget, name and independence, respectfully requests that it
be empowered to engage the services of such counsel and
technical, clerical and other personnel as may be necessary
for the purpose of its examination.
Pursuant to Section 2:07 of the Procedural Guidelines for
the Financial Operation of Senate Committees, the budget
submitted to the Standing Committee on Internal Economy,
Budgets and Administration and the report thereon of that
Committee are appended to this report.
LOWELL MURRAY Chair
(For text of document, seeAppendix to Journals of the Senate
of this day, p. 482.)
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this
report be taken into consideration?
On motion of Senator Murray, report placed on the Orders of
the Day for consideration at the next sitting of the Senate.
Hon. Bill Rompkey, Chair of the Standing Committee on
Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration, presented the
Wednesday, February 25, 1998
The Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets
and Administration has the honour to present its
Your committee has examined and approved the budget
presented to it by the Standing Committees on Social
Affairs, Science and Technology for the proposed
expenditures of the said Committee for the fiscal year
ending March 31, 1998:
Professional and Special Services
All Other Expenditures
WILLIAM ROMPKEY Chair
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this
report be taken into consideration?
On motion of Senator Rompkey, report placed on the Orders of
the Day for consideration at the next sitting of the Senate.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I wish to draw
your attention to the presence in our gallery of some
distinguished visitors.They are a group of members from the
Sri Lankan Public Accounts Committee. I had the pleasure of
meeting with the delegation yesterday, and on behalf of all of my
colleagues I wish to welcome you to the Senate.
Workplace Restrictions on Eligibility for Grants for
Millennium Scholarship Fund-Government Position
Hon. Pierre Claude Nolin: Honourable senators, my question
concerns the Millennium Fund announced yesterday by the
Minister of Finance. It may surprise you, but I will tell you
honestly that this is a praiseworthy idea, yet the outcome may not
be quite so clear. What will the government do to ensure that our
graduates work in Canada and not in the U.S. after they leave
Hon. B. Alasdair Graham (Leader of the Government):
Honourable senators, I am not aware that there would be any
restrictive measures put on the awarding of such scholarships,
stipulating that those who receive them must stay in Canada.
I believe that the scholarships will be awarded on merit by a
foundation at arm's length from the government. It is to be hoped
that the economic climate and the opportunity for employment in
Canada will encourage those students who are the beneficiaries
of this once-in-a-lifetime, first-of-its-kind scholarship foundation
fund to stay in Canada.
Senator Nolin: I am sure you know that 5 per cent of doctors
coming out of Canadian institutions are accepting employment in
the United States. In addition, something in the order of 400 to
500 Canadian nurses are taking jobs in the United States
At the University of Waterloo, 80 per cent of the students
graduating from the faculty of science in the field of informatics
are destined to work for Microsoft. What is the government
planning to do to change or curb that problem? This is an exodus.
Senator Graham: Honourable senators, I fully appreciate
what the senator is saying. As this is a serious question, I will
offer a serious anecdote. I am chairman of the Danny Gallivan
Memorial Scholarship Fund. The scholarships are awarded at a
great university in Nova Scotia known as St. Francis Xavier. The
honorary chair of the scholarship fund is Senator Hartland
Molson. I remember we had the first meeting in Montreal to
discuss who would be the members of the fund. We discussed
who would be eligible for these scholarships. I am sure Senator
Molson would not mind if I reiterate that during that particular
conversation, he said: "Only Canadians, because our game, the
game of hockey, is slipping south of the border."
There is a relationship or an analogy in what Senator Nolin
correctly identifies as a "brain drain" and in Senator Molson's
view at that particular time of a talent drain with respect to
However, as I said, all of these students will be encouraged by
the environment and by the job opportunities of the necessity to
contribute to the country from which they received their
Senator Nolin: The business community is begging for a
lowering of taxes, such as the tax on assurance-chômage. Does
the Leader of the Government not agree that such a move would
be a most important way of convincing job creators to provide
those jobs for our young Canadians who will be graduating from
Senator Graham: Yes, and we are moving towards that goal,
Senator Nolin. For the first time in over 30 years, we have a
balanced budget in this country. It is the government's intention
to have a balanced budget next year and the year after. It is to be
hoped that that will create the kind of economic climate where
there can be tax reductions at the appropriate times in our future.
Possible Reduction in Payroll Taxes-Government
Hon. Terry Stratton: Honourable senators, in the year 1999,
the government will collect $6 billion more from employment
insurance contributions than it needs to run that program. The
total value in that year of the various tax cuts announced in the
budget will only be $3 billion, or roughly half the amount of
extra money being collected through the high EI premiums.
When can Canadians expect meaningful payroll tax relief?
Hon. B. Alasdair Graham (Leader of the Government): As
my honourable friend knows, we have reduced EI program rates
every year since 1994. From $3.30 in 1994, as planned by the
previous government, to $2.70 this year.
Senator Lynch-Staunton: Keep on going.
Senator Graham: That is exactly what Senator
Lynch-Staunton has suggested. The actuaries suggest that there
must be a certain amount of money in the fund. I do not know
that anyone is suggesting that reducing EI premiums creates jobs.
However, by the same token, the trend is in the right direction.
Senator Stratton: As a supplementary question, if I may, one
year ago Friday, at a Town Hall meeting on CBC, Finance
Minister Paul Martin told us that there is no doubt that rising
payroll taxes has an effect on job creation. For employers, the
combined Employment Insurance and Canada Pension Plan
premiums will climb from $7.02 per $100 of earnings this year,
to $7.54 in the year 2000.
Would the minister inquire of his colleague the Minister of
Finance if he still believes that when payroll taxes rise, it can
have an effect on jobs? Would he also report to the Senate as to
whether the government has done any study to determine the
employment impact of the premium hike that will be imposed on
employees and employers over the next two years?
Senator Graham: Honourable senators, the annual EI surplus
was estimated at $6.6 billion in 1997, and it is projected to be
$6.3 billion in 1998. As I indicated, we have reduced
EI premiums as quickly as the fiscal situation allowed, and we
will continue to reduce EI premiums in a balanced and fiscally
responsible manner. As you know, in 1996, we introduced a "new
hires" program which provided EI premium relief to small firms
to create jobs in 1997 and 1998.
Senator Lynch-Staunton: He reads well, doesn't he?
Hon. David Tkachuk: Honourable senators, I also have a
question regarding the EI fund. The government's own actuaries
say the premium could be cut to $2 per $100 of earnings and still
cover the cost of the program. Yet the government plans to keep
the premium at $2.70 per $100 of earnings this year and next.
Then in the year 2000, the premium will fall to $2.60. That
means the government will take out of the economy, as the leader
has said, somewhere between $6 billion and $7 billion per year.
That is over and above what they need to pay employment
Four years ago, the Finance Minister said to Canadians that
payroll taxes are a barrier to jobs. He recently said that they are
not a barrier to jobs, that EI premiums do not have any effect on
the employment roles. The leader has just said, in answer to
Senator Stratton's question, that he did not think it was a barrier
to jobs either. Perhaps he would explain why he does not think
EI premiums are a barrier to jobs.
Senator Berntson: While you are up, tell us about the GST.
Senator Graham: Senator Berntson will have his turn, I am
sure. It is important for us to understand that a reserve is needed
Senator Lynch-Staunton: That is not the question.
Senator Graham: - it limits the need to increase premiums
during a recession. It ensures that adequate benefits can be paid
when they are most required.
We must remember what happened in the last recession. The
Employment Insurance account went from a surplus of $2 billion
to a deficit of $6 billion in two years. Premiums had to be
increased by 30 per cent when jobs were already hard to create.
I am saying that we are moving in the right direction. I have
not seen any proof that a reduction in EI premiums will create
more jobs, but regardless of how the economists may speculate
and regardless of what Senator Tkachuk may put forward, the
trend is in the right direction.
Senator Tkachuk: Honourable senators, I would buy this
argument if there were an Employment Insurance Fund, but there
is none. It is a bookkeeping entry. There is no cash in the fund. It
has been spent to reduce the deficit. We all know that. We could
get over this if there were actually an account holding $30 billion
plus interest, but there is no such account.
I am trying to get at the contradiction. Although the
government may believe that there are no economists who say
that payroll taxes are a deterrent to jobs, we have this apparent
contradiction about what the Finance Minister said four years
ago and what he is saying today.
I also noticed in the most recent budget an announcement with
some fanfare that, for a two-year period, businesses would not be
charged EI premiums for any additional young people they hire.
Obviously, the minister believes that not charging EI premiums is
an incentive to jobs, but that keeping premiums at a higher rate is
not a disincentive to jobs.
Would the leader explain how he can keep to the present
position? Would he explain why eliminating the EI premiums in
some cases would cause employers to hire more people?
Senator Graham: Honourable senators, it is important to
recognize that the 20-cent drop in 1998, to a premium level
of $2.70, keeps $1.4 billion in the hands of workers and
employers in 1998. It is hoped that that money will assist further
Efficacy of Proposed Tax Reduction-Government
Hon. Duncan J. Jessiman: Honourable senators, incomes
after taxes and inflation have been falling throughout the 1990s.
The most recent budget offers what, at first glance, looks like
good news, a tax cut of up to $250 for modest-income earners.
Of course, this ignores the fact that the tax system is not fully
indexed. More important, it does not even begin to cover the
money that would be lost to higher Canada Pension Plan
premiums. By the year 2000, Canadians earning an average wage
will pay $315 more in premiums than they would have in 1997.
As a result, take-home pay will continue to shrink.
Why is the government pretending that Canadians are getting a
tax cut when their take-home pay will actually continue to
Hon. B. Alasdair Graham (Leader of the Government):
Honourable senators, I am delighted that Honourable Senator
Jessiman has raised the question of the Canada Pension Plan. Just
before Christmas, we passed in this chamber a very important
piece of legislation regarding the CPP, Bill C-2. The CPP was a
matter of concern for Canadians of all ages, from coast to coast.
As a result of a balanced budget and the forecast of balanced
budgets next year and the year after, this government has put its
fiscal house in order. Now, for the first time in many years, we
can say to Canadians, no matter what their age, and fathers and
mothers can pass it on to their children, that there will be a
Canada Pension Plan now and into the future, for them and for
Senator Lynch-Staunton: They need a job to be able to
contribute to it. Where are the jobs?
Senator Graham: Honourable senators, one million new jobs
were created in this country in the last 4 years.
Senator Lynch-Staunton: Where?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton: Honourable senators, the budget
offers a tax cut of $150 for a single person earning $35,000. That
is less than half the tax break the same person would receive by
the year 2000 if the government were simply to fully index the
tax system starting now. Will the Leader of the Government in
the Senate acknowledge and admit that this tax cut is, in fact, an
illusion? Taxpayers are being told they are getting a tax break,
while at the same time inflation will completely take away that
so-called tax break.
Senator Graham: Honourable senators, there are no illusions
in this budget. I should point out to my friend the Honourable
Senator LeBreton that, when it comes to tax breaks, in 1986, the
previous government subjected all Canadians to a 3-per-cent
general surtax. A surtax is a tax on a tax.
Senator Lynch-Staunton: To reduce the deficit.
Senator Graham: They did not reduce the deficit. They drove
it up. The deficit went up and the surtax remained.
Senator Lynch-Staunton: Then take it off if you do not need
it anymore. You want another reserve. Bring in the reserves.
Senator LeBreton: That was a very interesting little
commentary, but the surtax was put on to reduce the deficit -
and guess what: it worked.
My supplementary question is: Will the minister level with us
and confirm that reducing EI premiums to the level actually
required to sustain the EI fund would result in a real tax cut of
over $200 per person, and not the $150 they talk about, which, in
reality, as I said before, will be eaten away by inflation?
Senator Graham: Honourable senators, there seems to be a
conflict between Senator LeBreton's figures and those of the
people who put together the budget. I will err on the side of those
who put together the budget.
The honourable senator talks about the surtax reducing the
deficit. When this government took office in 1993, they inherited
a $42-billion deficit from the previous government. That
$42-billion deficit has been eliminated, so that we now have a
balanced budget in the country for the first time in 30 years.
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, that $42-billion
figure is like a mantra for Paul Martin and the Prime Minister.
However, if you go back and check the records, they added to
that. They took over the government in November, 1993, piled
on the spending and then ended up with a figure that they
projected through from the time they took over until the
beginning of the new fiscal year.
My supplementary is: If it was such a bad tax, why have we
had it for the last five years?
Senator Tkachuk: To reduce the deficit.
Senator Graham: Honourable senators, I listened with great
interest to my friend Senator Kinsella's statement at the
beginning of the proceedings this afternoon. I know that
statements are not debatable, and that perhaps we should not
comment upon them. However, if the opposition wants to take
any credit for reducing the deficit and/or the debt and creating
jobs, I say let them take it. The Canadian public are the ones who
really know the truth, and understand which government and
which party brought down the debt, reduced the deficit, and
created the jobs.
Senator Lynch-Staunton: That is because you continued the
Inequity of Tax Policy Towards Non-Working
Hon. Erminie J. Cohen: Honourable senators, the
congratulations to the Finance Minister for balancing the budget
must be shared by the Canadian people, who have lived with
huge increases in personal and corporate taxes, the GST and the
UI surpluses. One group which has shouldered an unfair share of
this burden is families with stay-at-home mothers. In fact, there
is a growing concern among women that their choices are being
limited by Canadian taxation policy which refuses to
acknowledge the value of women who choose to stay at home
with their children.
There is a serious discrepancy in this budget which
discriminates against one-earner couples. If a family has
two income earners and two kids and an income of $75,000, they
receive a tax break of $305. However, if one parent stays at home
and the other parent earns $70,000, their tax cut is zero.
My question is to the Leader of the Government in the Senate:
What does this inequity say to Canadian stay-at-home mothers
about the value of their work, and does the government believe
that this is fair?
Hon. B. Alasdair Graham (Leader of the Government):
Honourable senators, I take the point that is being made by
Senator Cohen because she is a very serious senator, and her
reputation in the causes that she supports underscores that.
We are very proud of this budget. We are very proud of the
way in which the Minister of Finance, the Prime Minister and the
government have conducted themselves responsibly over the last
three or four years.
I take the matter of stay-at-home mothers very seriously. I
should say that, beginning July 1, 1998, the basic personal
exemption will increase, meaning that 400,000 low-income
Canadians will no longer pay any federal income tax. Beginning
July 1, as I mentioned earlier, the 3-per-cent general surtax will
be eliminated. These two measures alone, Senator Cohen, will
yield close to $1.4 billion in tax relief for 14 million low- and
middle-income Canadians by the year 1999-2000.
Ninety per cent of all taxpayers in the country will benefit.
Senator Cohen: I thank you for the compliment, and I
appreciate what you are telling me, but that does not answer my
question about the stay-at-home mothers.
Senator Tkachuk: He did not answer mine, either.
Senator Graham: I will treat the question as one requiring an
Percentage of Visible Minorities In Public
Service-Request for Answer
Hon. Donald H. Oliver: My question is to the Leader of the
Government in the Senate, and it is really a follow-up question to
a question I put to the leader last December when I expressed my
concern about the lack of effort that had been made to meet the
government's established objective of 9 per cent of visible
minorities employed in the federal public service.
The Honourable Leader of the Government will remember that
he said at that time, in relation to Senator Di Nino's question
about the employment of visible minorities in the Senate, that he
would bring this matter to the Standing Committee on Internal
Economy, Budgets and Administration. Perhaps the honourable
leader could give us a response to that question now.
Hon. B. Alasdair Graham (Leader of the Government):
Honourable senators, Senator Oliver has raised again another
very important concern. I have discussed that subject with the
Chairman of Internal Economy. In fact, I reminded him of it
earlier when Senator Oliver made his comments during Senators'
Statements. I am sure that he will be happy to bring Senator
Oliver a report, and I know that all members of that committee
will want to examine the honourable senator's concerns, and the
concerns of all members of the chamber, very seriously.
Budgets of Research Institutions-Inadequacy of
Increase Announced in Budget Compared to Levels in
Other Countries-Government Position
Hon. Mira Spivak: Honourable senators, I rise with some
trepidation because I do not know whether I meet the qualifying
standard of being serious or not, but I am rising, anyway.
Last week I asked a question with regard to the fact that
post-doctoral fellows were having to leave Canada because they
were not being paid enough. At that time, I had information that
the Medical Research Council was only spending $8 per capita
for every Canadian, while in the United States they are spending
$66. Apparently the President of the United States is about to
double that amount.
I did get all excited about the budget, as did my friends
opposite, but then I realized that the budget increase for the
Medical Research Council is only 12 per cent, which raises the
amount to $8.87 per capita: far short of what many in the
scientific community had hoped for, and certainly not enough to
stem the tide - or staunch the flow - of researchers moving
Does the Leader of the Government have anything to add to
the announcements that were made in the budget that could
perhaps make us feel a little more optimistic in relation to
medical research funds which have been described by many as
"too little, too late."
Hon. B. Alasdair Graham (Leader of the Government):
Honourable senators, every segment of society had to feel the
pain and suffer the cut-backs in order to bring our fiscal house
and management under control. As the honourable senator may
know, I met with distinguished representatives of the Medical
Research Council of Canada about three weeks ago: Dr. Friesen,
who is the president, and Dr. Dickson of Dalhousie University. I
carried their representations to the government, the Minister of
Finance in particular, and I believe the budget indicates that the
medical research funds will be restored to the 1994-95 level, with
a commitment that they will be increased each year thereafter.
Senator Spivak: I quite understand that, and I am sure that the
leader has done his utmost. However, we will see a doubling of
the $66-per-capita figure in the United States, and we have only
increased ours by 87 cents per capita. That will not be enough to
stem the flow of researchers to the United States. Dr. Friesen is
from my own province. I am in touch with the doctors there. In
Manitoba particularly, there is a legion of doctors, radiologists
and others leaving for other climes.
Perhaps my honourable friend could continue to use his
influence to gain a speedier, more sizeable increase so that we
can begin to measure up to the United States.
Senator Graham: I would be very happy to do so.
Hon. Wilbert J. Keon: Honourable senators, I have a
supplementary question for the Leader of the Government in the
The medical research community in Canada is very pleased
with the increase in funding they received. They are also very
pleased with the openness of the Minister of Finance and the
Minister of Health, who have heard their pleas and taken into
account what they had to say over the last six months or so.
However, there is a truly serious problem here, and it is one of
national priority. There is a significant problem arising in the G-7
countries. The Americans, for example, fund medical research at
the rate of about $66 per capita, and prior to this adjustment, we
were funding medical research at the rate of about $8 per capita.
This is not the fault of the present government; this has been
going on for a very long time.
To overcome this situation will require long-term planning and
an awareness in the country that the situation must be dealt with
if we are to receive the industrial spin-offs that we should receive
from medical research and the benefits that the health care
system should accrue.
My supplementary question is this: Will the Honourable
Leader of the Government be keeping cabinet sensitive for the
next year or so to the fact that this subject must be addressed in
the long term or else we will fall far behind the other
Senator Graham: Yes. I understand the concerns expressed
by the Honourable Senator Keon. Not only will I attempt to keep
my cabinet colleagues aware of his concerns and those of Senator
Spivak and other honourable senators, but I would be happy to
discuss outside the chamber any other representations or facts
that Senator Keon or Senator Spivak would like to put before me.
I am very concerned that every piece of information be put
forward. Most particularly, we must provide our researchers with
adequate funds so that we can not only keep up to speed, so to
speak, but also prevent the so-called brain drain to other
Training at Research Institutions-Establishment of
National Strategy-Government Position
Hon. A. Raynell Andreychuk: Honourable senators, the
Senate's recently completed study on post-secondary education
touches exactly on this matter. Could the Leader of the
Government explain whether the government took into account
the fact that training has been moved into the provincial field?
Education traditionally has been a provincial field. Unless we
have a good dialogue and develop a national strategy, we will not
be able to attack the long-term issues.
Could my honourable friend explain why the government took
this approach, which is so short-sighted and so short-term, as the
Senate study, I think, adequately points out? The Senate study
was based on information supplied by experts, researchers, and
the people who deal with the medical council in these areas on a
daily basis. They brought the information to the Senate and it
made eminent sense; the situation was urgent. I think it was
underlined in the report. Why would the government not have
addressed it, incorporating all levels of government?
Hon. B. Alasdair Graham (Leader of the Government):
Honourable senators, I do not think it is a question of the
government ignoring the report of the Special Committee on
Post-Secondary Education. On the contrary, I think that was one
of the driving forces and one of the factors considered when the
Prime Minister announced the Millennium Fund for
I think the Senate can take a good deal of credit for the
excellent report it made on post-secondary education. I am sure
its findings will be taken into consideration as these efforts and
initiatives are further enhanced in the future.
Immediate Availability of Funds from Millenium
Scholarship Fund-Government Position
Hon. Ethel Cochrane: Honourable senators, last year the
Auditor General criticized the government for booking
the $800-million cost of the Innovation Fund to the books for
fiscal 1996-97 as the money was not spent that year. The
government calls this transparency; others call it creative
accounting. The previous year, the Auditor General questioned
the government's decision to book the $1-billion cost of
harmonizing the GST to the 1995-96 fiscal year as the money
was not spent that year.
This year's budget announced that $2.5 billion will be spent on
the Millennium Scholarship Fund. The money is all being
booked to the fiscal year that will end this March, even though
the money will not be spent this year. This money will only be
spent between the years 2000 and 2009.
Why will the government not spend this $2.5 million now to
help students with huge debt loads or to help hundreds of
unemployed youths find jobs?
Hon. B. Alasdair Graham (Leader of the Government):
Honourable senators, that is a very good question. I think that it
is a difference between the Auditor General questioning whether
a particular sum for a particular program is booked in one year
rather than another. It is a difference in accounting principles. It
is a difference between people at the Department of Finance and
those at the Department of the Auditor General. I guess one can
regard it as a fair difference of opinion.
At the same time, the Minister of Finance is booking the
Millennium Scholarship Fund for this year, and it will be
inaugurated in the year 2000. He obviously has good, sound
reasons for doing so because the money is available to be booked
at this particular time. It may be that if the accounts are in such
great shape, the government might be persuaded to start the
scholarship program at an earlier time than the year 2000, but we
will leave that to the future.
I will certainly bring my honourable friend's concerns and
suggestions to the attention of my colleagues because I know she
has always had a very particular interest in the field of education.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I should like to
draw your attention to the presence of a distinguished visitor in
the Speaker's Gallery, the Honourable Glenn Hagel, Speaker of
the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan, my neighbour.
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable
Senator Taylor, seconded by the Honourable Senator Pépin,
for the second reading of Bill C-4, to amend the Canadian
Wheat Board Act and to make consequential amendments to
Hon. Terry Stratton: Honourable senators, this afternoon I
rise to speak on Bill C-4, the bill to amend the Canadian Wheat
Board Act. As everyone is aware, there has been quite an
interesting debate in the other place on this proposed act.
Our committee met last week and determined that the best way
for us to receive the appropriate background as to the basis of the
changes to the act was to travel. Originally, the proposal was that
we would travel to Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Regina, and Edmonton.
The push was for rural areas, simply because we wanted to talk
directly to farmers - that is, the folks who pay the freight on this
issue. We then modified the route to Winnipeg, Saskatoon,
Regina and Red Deer. However, we still feel that that is not
enough, and that we should go more into the rural areas. I
recommend strongly to the committee that we cancel Winnipeg
and go to Brandon instead, for example.
I will not debate the details of Bill C-4. That has been done
very well by other speakers before me. However, I should like to
focus on a few pertinent issues or amendments that were
proposed in the other place but not adopted. Those issues are,
first, the deletion of the inclusion-exclusion clauses from
Bill C-4; and, second, the amendment of Bill C-4 so that the
Canadian Wheat Board would be subject to the Access to
Information Act. In other words, the accountability factor in
Bill C-4 is missing.
The Wheat Board produces an annual audited statement but, as
we all know from audited statements, those statements can be
read in many ways by many different people. The farmers who
grow the wheat and other products sold by the Wheat Board need
to have access to the process to ensure that there is a watch kept
on this system. Where is the accountability to ensure that the
board is being properly managed? Right now, we simply have an
audited statement. That does not necessarily mean that the board
is being appropriately managed.
With reference to the deletion of the inclusion-exclusion
clauses from Bill C-4, I should like to quote from a letter from
the Premier of Manitoba, my province, to the Honourable Jean
Chrétien on November 17, 1997, which states:
I have great concern over the "Inclusion Clause" of
Bill C-4, as it embodies the antithesis of what Canada has
already accepted with regard to free trade. Indeed, the move
toward even more open markets is underscored through
agreements such as the Canada/U.S. Free Trade Agreement,
the North American Free Trade Agreement, and the broader
General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. These agreements,
in which Canada participates to our collective benefit,
require us to embrace the establishment of an economy that
is more responsive to market forces.
For that reason, I believe that the "Inclusion Clause" of
Bill C-4 represents a significant step backward for the
growing agricultural sector of Canada's economy. As you, I,
and all Premiers have witnessed first-hand during our Team
Canada trade missions, the international trend in all
economic sectors is toward more open market structures.
However, the "Inclusion Clause" in Bill C-4 provides a
mechanism that could empower the Canadian Wheat Board
(CWB) not only to protect its current interests but to expand
the scope of its mandate. By adopting it the Federal
Government would be sending an inconsistent signal to
Canada's trading partners around the world.
That letter clearly states the concerns of the Province of
Manitoba, which should be addressed when the Senate
committee travels to that province. Concerns have been
expressed as well by the Premier of Alberta in a letter on
November 25, 1997 to the Honourable Jean Chrétien, wherein he
says the same thing.
The majority of Alberta farmers favour a marketing choice -
that is, the option of either undertaking the marketing,
transportation and related activities on their own or having the
Canadian Wheat Board do it on their behalf. Contrary to this
approach, the proposed Bill C-4 ignores recommendations of the
Canada-U.S. Commission on Grains and the Western Grain
Marketing Panel, both set up by the federal government. It
ignores the wishes of the Alberta legislature and the wishes of
Alberta farmers as expressed in the plebiscite on grain marketing
choice, as well as in a number of polls done on farmers - one
conducted by your own government. I repeat: Premier Klein has
expressed concern about the exclusion-inclusion clause.
The purpose of allowing the open market on these other grains
is that they are a cash crop. As well, the purpose of opening up
the markets is that we will then have a value-added basis in
Western Canada. Instead of being hewers of wood, drawers of
water and growers of grain who ship it off somewhere else to be
processed, we are now able to process these products in our own
provinces, which is a highly value-added capability that increases
the job numbers significantly.
With Bill C-4 and the exclusion-inclusion clause, there is a
concern about industries that are thinking of setting up
processing plants in these areas. Once they see an inclusion
clause in particular, there is concern that they would be reticent
to establish their plants here, knowing full well that, on a whim
on behalf of the minister or the CEO of the board, the regulations
can be changed, and thus their investment will be dramatically
affected. That is their concern. I think it is a real concern, and it
is one that must be addressed.
As well, a coalition of 14 members of the Wheat Growers are
against Bill C-4, to which Senator Gustafson referred earlier in
his speech. It is not so much that they are against Bill C-4 but,
once again, they are concerned about the exclusion-inclusion
clause contained in the bill. For the same reasons that I
explained, you cannot have an inclusion clause without
dramatically affecting the attitudes of industry to put plants in the
area, particularly if your push is towards free trade. Free trade is
very successful in Manitoba, and very successful in the west. We
want our products to move freely.
The coalition against Bill C-4 includes the Alberta Canola
Producers Commission, the BC Grain Producers Association, the
Canadian Federation of Independent Business, the Flax Growers
of Western Canada, the Manitoba Canola Growers Association,
and so on - including the Winnipeg Commodity Exchange.
They expressed their concerns in a letter to the Honourable
Ralph Goodale on January 30, 1998, wherin they stated, in part:
However, we are looking for firm commitments that the
inclusion clause will be removed, and as we recommended
before, to achieve the balance you are seeking, that would
best be done by removing both the inclusion and exclusion
In defence of Bill C-4 and the inclusion-exclusion clause,
MP John Harvard went out to the Wheat Growers' convention in
Kananaskis and stated:
With people on both the right and left criticizing the bill, we
would like to think we have struck the right balance.
That was MP Harvard's approach, that everyone hates the bill
so therefore it must be good. Above all, Mr. Harvard reiterated:
The weak defences for the so-called `inclusion clause' that
sets out how more crops can be brought under the control of
the Wheat Board: It's just there to provide balance between
the inclusion and exclusion provisions. The clause is just
there in case, some time in the future, maybe some farmers
might want to include more crops. If farmers don't want any
more crops under the CWB control, it won't happen. So
why are we complaining? Be happy.
That is the defence on the side of the government from
MP John Harvard. We are really concerned that what we are
seeing and hearing out there is that these growers and producers
are showing a lack of trust in the government. That is the true
message behind all this. They are looking at the bill and saying to
government: "Look, you guys, we must build trust in the
beginning. You must have trust when you are starting down this
road. When you add an inclusion clause such as this, all you do is
get our antennae up and our backs up in such a way that we can
become very concerned because we are afraid that you will come
in and add crops to the inclusion clause to the detriment of the
producers." That is their inherent fear, and it is one to which we
should pay attention when our committee is out there travelling.
It is very important that we do that.
Here is an excerpt from a speech by Kerry Hawkins, the
president of Cargill Ltd. He states:
The Canadian Grain Commission recently released their
business plan for 1997/98. I would like to commend the
Commissioners for sharing their visions of the challenges
they face and their strategy for the future.
The big thing in this push, as Mr. Hawkins states, is:
...the emphasis of our competitors on quality, meeting
customer demands of individual product specifications,
changing processing technology and increased concerns
over food safety. In order to survive, we now have to have a
wider array of consistent, high quality products. Marketing
that wide array is taking place in a world that is vastly
different than it was a few years ago.
He goes on to say:
I can assure you that other countries will beat us up in that
marketplace. They are nimble and quick - innovative -
while we say it has to be done the old way. As the
entrepreneurial spirit blossoms in China, so too will the
demand for choice - in products and in partners. Growth is
occurring in Latin America, where the Brazilian milling
industry is now privatized. Huge new processing
investments are being made in South America. These are all
new buyers. And, the market in the Middle East has taken
...It will require a marketing environment that is flexible and
able to respond quickly, yet is still capable of delivering the
consistent quality for which we are famous.
I look at Mr. Hawkins' comments and wonder if what we are
building here is another system where the concerns expressed by
the producers will handcuff the ability of the industry to adapt
quickly to the ever-increasingly rapid changes to the market.
Hon. John G. Bryden: Perhaps Senator Stratton would accept
Senator Stratton: Certainly.
Senator Bryden: I am a little hesitant. It is bad enough to be
involved in fish on the East Coast without getting involved in the
Wheat Board, except that I am a member of the committee.
The little bit that I have heard is that the Canadian Wheat
Board, over the years - and indeed today - is a single-desk
marketer, and it has a very good reputation in world markets. Is
that your understanding, Senator Stratton?
Senator Stratton: I would not disagree with that at all. I do
not think that people are necessarily arguing for doing away with
the Wheat Board. That is not what I am talking about here. It is
the addition, in this bill, of the inclusion clause, which means
that the commission can add products; it can add canola to a
single market or a single desk.
Farmers want the ability to sell a cash crop. They do not wish
to have to do it through the Wheat Board because, like everyone
else, it is wonderful to be able to go and sell something in order
to have a little extra money the odd time. That is completely
understandable. Freedom in the market-place is becoming more
and more evident because of what is happening in Manitoba and
Saskatchewan. Farmers are breaking the law by driving straight
across the border and selling their wheat in the United States -
and then getting arrested, tried and fined. We have that reality
facing us, and when you send a message like the inclusion clause
out in this bill, that just raises their concerns and suspicions about
what the government will do next. That is what it is about.
Senator Bryden: A supplementary, if I may: In my quick
reading of the bill, I find it hard to agree with a statement that
you made, and I think I am quoting you correctly:
Farmers are concerned that crops would be included or
excluded at the whim of the minister or the CEO of the
As I read the bill, the initiation of either an inclusion or an
exclusion must come from the growers of the particular crop
involved. Without that initiative, then the board does not act and,
finally, no action is taken until there is a vote by at least all of the
growers who would be affected. If I am not mistaken, the way in
which I read the bill, it seems to me that there would be a vote
among all the farmers who are part of the Wheat Board.
Senator Stratton: That is appropriate. The concern, of course,
is with respect to a particular product, say canola, that
80 per cent of the product may be grown by 20 per cent of the
growers. In other words, a large volume is produced by a small
number of growers, and a large number of growers produce a
small volume. The concern then is how is the vote set up and
taken. It is like separation in Quebec: How is the question asked?
How is the question worded? Is it a weighted vote because I
grow three times as much canola as you do, or is it a straight
one-on-one vote? That is a concern that I think is real and honest
on their part.
Senator Bryden: One further question. I would assume that it
is possible to determine that, short of a reference to the court on
this question, either in the bill or in a regulation under the bill
which would be voted on by the growers. Is it done on a
per-bushel basis, or is it done on a per-registered-grower basis?
My comment would be that perhaps those types of specific
concerns could be overcome.
Senator Stratton: When we are travelling, we must ensure
that when questions are brought forward, they are delivered to
the minister responsible. We must receive his assurance that
these issues will be addressed. People deserve concrete answers.
The simplest way to have assurance is to remove the exclusion
and inclusion clauses. Then we will not have this problem or
Consideration of Final Report of Special
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the consideration of the final report
of the Special Senate Committee on Post-Secondary
Education, tabled in the Senate on December 16,
1997.-(Honourable Senator Forest).
Hon. Mabel M. DeWare: Honourable senators, I thank
Senator Forest for yielding to me.
Honourable senators, I rise with pleasure today in support of
the final report on post-secondary education. Improving the
quality and relevance of education and training must be our most
important priority if Canada is to prosper in the global economy.
Over 18 months, it became evident that the mandate of our
committee was quite broad and that we could not possibly
develop recommendations for every facet of this complex
subject. However, we were able to address most of the main
concerns brought before the committee and make appropriate
I should like to take this opportunity to discuss two areas of
particular interest and concern to me: financial aid and prior
learning assessment. I understand that some of the other senators
on the committee have spoken to other aspects and
recommendations. Therefore, I will address my comments to
these two areas.
The first issue is the significant need for more bursaries and
grants. It is important to first identify the two different groups of
students. There is the group comprising 40 per cent of the student
population that relies on commercial or government-sponsored
loans, and the remaining 60 per cent of the students fall into the
group that acquires its education without visible loans. These
students often make decisions that will allow them to avoid
taking commercial or government loans. They may decide to stay
at home in order not to have to pay room and board. Their parents
may lend them money which they are expected to repay. These
students should be commended for their decisions, yet should not
be overlooked for bursaries and grants. We should be encouraging
our youth to study in other cities in order to help them develop
skills essential to the global economy.
It is upsetting to hear that some students are deterred from
even starting school because they fear high debts when they
graduate. This trend points to the need for starting grants to
encourage potential students to take their first steps.
Consequently, the committee recommended that the special
opportunities grants under the Canada Student Loans program be
expanded to include remission grants, ranging from $1,000 to
$2,000 per year, to be awarded to high-needs students on the
successful completion of their first and second years of study.
Honourable senators, we thought this was a very important
point. It is no wonder that the issue of indebtedness is of huge
concern to our students. Many feel their debts have gone beyond
their capacity to cope. The average debt of those who borrow is
expected to reach $17,000 this year and increase to $25,000
It was incredible to hear young people giving evidence before
the committee to the effect that they were looking at a debt
of $40,000 over a four-year program. One witness from the
Nova Scotia area asked what would happen if that student should
meet someone he or she really liked, and he or she also had a
$40,000 debt? The two of them would come out of university
owing $80,000, before they even started their life together. This
seemed quite discouraging.
It does nothing for the self-esteem of students who, even when
they find a job, must spend the first years of their working lives
paying off these huge debts. The committee sympathized with
the students' fears and agreed that there is a need for greater
flexibility for borrowing and the repayment of their loans based
on their ability to pay. The committee also thinks a one-time
grant for those with chronic difficulty in paying off their loans is
necessary. The purpose of such a grant would be to reduce the
debt principal enough for the borrower to repay the loan based on
his or her income. The grant would go directly to the financial
institution holding the loan.
In our hearings, we also discovered strong support for a
harmonized federal-provincial loan system. From what members
of the committee heard, the present structure is very frustrating
for students trying to obtain loans, especially when they must
deal with both provincial and federal bureaucracies. As a result,
the committee recommended that we move to a one-student,
one-loan system in order to promote accessibility to those in
need, provide administrative harmonization, encourage
interprovincial and international mobility and share costs
between the two levels of government.
The committee also felt that it was important that students be
counselled about their debt-servicing obligations and receive
each year a comprehensive statement of what they owe and to
whom they owe it, as well as the monthly payment that would be
Students who must pay for their education through commercial
or government loans also need the opportunity to receive grants
or bursaries in order to help offset their debt load when they
graduate. If some students are deterred from pursuing
post-secondary education because of the perceived debt load, we
must provide incentives for them to pursue their studies.
Honourable senators, when deciding on policy options, three
different types of assistance can be offered to help finance
students. We can give them grants or bursaries when they begin
their study, in order to ease their transition into school; we can
offer them assistance during that period of study; or we can help
them in their school-to-work transition. Obviously, there is no
one solution that will cover every student. There needs to be a
mixture of all three alternatives.
The support offered students in the budget has met with mixed
reaction by the students. Some students say scholarships in 2001
will not help them now. The jury will be out for a while on this
one, and on behalf of the students I hope it proves favourable.
Many Canadians still have the naive impression that once they
have graduated from a program of study, for example, chemistry,
engineering or sociology, they will have skills that will last for a
lifetime and will always be able to find work in their field. This
is simply no longer the case.
In order for Canada to stay competitive in an age of rapidly
changing technologies and demographics, we must develop ways
for our education system to be portable and accessible for
students across the country. This is particularly important given
that our country is presently faced with high unemployment and
underemployment. In such an economy, people may have to
switch jobs and careers several times during the course of their
working lives, and they must be given the opportunity to
adequately prepare themselves for these new challenges.
I should like to speak about prior learning assessment and
recognition, one of the ways we can encourage the so-called
lifelong learning that has become key to improving the prospects
of Canadian workers. PLAR assists adults in identifying the
skills they have developed outside the formal education system
and enables people to gain recognition and credit for what they
already know and can do. It also recognizes that the path of
learning has many branches. People learn at work. They learn in
their communities through volunteer work and other activities.
They learn at home, and they learn in the classroom. Simply put,
PLAR aims to end the roadblocks between formal and informal
I am sure honourable senators would like to know how PLAR
works. I can use myself as an example. Early in my career, I was
an assistant to my husband, a dentist. I also assisted him at the
chair and learned the skills of a dental hygienist. If I had
subsequently chosen to become a certified dental hygienist,
PLAR would have allowed me to apply the knowledge that I had
already learned towards my formal education. I would therefore
get credit for that training and could pursue courses that would
further my education and increase my skill level. As a result, I
would have been able to qualify in a shorter period of time and at
less cost, and I would not have had to reinvent the wheel.
I would also like to share with you an example that was
included in the September 1997 issue of The Learning Quarterly
published by the Centre of Curriculum Transfer and Technology.
It describes the case of a child and youth care worker in British
Columbia who had a diploma in early childhood education from
Britain, as well as many years of experience in her field. As a
result of the prior learning assessment, she was awarded a
diploma in child and youth care that enabled her to enter the third
year of a Bachelor of Social Work program at university. She
said that PLAR provided a leap forward, accelerating progress
towards her goal. What had looked like an endless process now
Honourable senators, this example highlights the fact that prior
learning assessment has the potential to encourage would-be
students to pursue academic goals. It can prevent them from
becoming discouraged and being deterred from further studies by
the prospect of spending years and years in the classroom. It is
clear to me that the Canadian economy and our society as a
whole will benefit from a system that will result in more workers
pursuing post-secondary education.
As you can see, prior learning assessment and recognition
offers both employers and individuals an efficient, flexible, and
cost-effective method of providing and receiving education and
training. The Special Senate Committee on Post-secondary
Education was pleased to note that some provinces are beginning
to implement this program, notably British Columbia,
Saskatchewan, and my own province of New Brunswick.
I would now like to say a few words about jurisdictional
considerations. While some people might think that PLAR
should be the sole concern of the provinces, I believe the federal
government has a large role to play in nurturing these types of
programs and ensuring portability of skills and accessibility to
institutions from province to province. One idea that has been
presented to me in the past, and I think it is worth pursuing, is a
passport of learning, where every experience and skill that a
holder has developed is recorded. The PLAR system includes a
similar idea using what is called a "portfolio." The approach in
both these instances is to give people credit for their
accomplishments in three key areas of their lives: in school,
through paid and unpaid work, and in their leisure pursuits. It
values past learning and skills gained through life and work
experiences as well as through formal education and training. A
passport of learning, for example, would be used to keep track of
accomplishments, similar to but much more comprehensive than
a resumé. It would be continually updated throughout a lifetime
of learning. Furthermore, it would be portable among
jurisdictions and between different milieu such as school and the
workplace. Thus, the PLAR approach responds to a number of
key elements relevant to Canada's current economic,
organizational and labour-market realities.
The challenge now is to find ways for the federal and
provincial governments, educational institutions and employers
to work together to make PLAR a reality for Canadian students,
volunteers and paid workers in all parts of this country, because
today learning is forever.
Apparently, the Canadian academic population feels that
money is the answer to all our education problems, and we heard
that over and over again in our hearings. We must somehow
change the focus to accountability, vision, long-range planning,
and incentive. Yes, money is one of the most important assets to
education programs and to our students, but it is not the whole
answer. They must work in tandem with each other. I pray that
the government, in its wisdom, will take our recommendations
into consideration and that we will be able to help our students
out of their debt dilemma.
I would like to express my sincere appreciation to the senators
who sat on the Post-Secondary Education Committee and the
staff for the work accomplished by that committee. It was a
tremendous learning experience.
Report of the Canadian Section and Financial Report of
the Meeting held in Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe
Leave having been given to revert to Tabling of Reports by
Hon. Pierre De Bané: Honourable senators, pursuant to
rule 23(6), I have the honour to table, in both official languages,
the report of the Canadian section of the International Assembly
of French-Speaking Parliamentarians as well as the financial
report of the meeting of the IAFSP executive, held in
Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe, on December 14 and 15, 1997.
Senator Andrew Thompson-Consideration of Second
Report of Committee-Order Stands
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable
Senator Maheu, seconded by the Honourable Senator
Moore, for the adoption of the Second Report of the
Standing Committee on Privileges, Standing Rules and
Orders (Senator Thompson), presented in the Senate on
February 11, 1998,
And on the motion in amendment of the Honourable
Senator Ghitter, seconded by the Honourable Senator
Stratton, that the Report be amended by deleting all of the
words following the second paragraph and substituting
therefor the following:
That Senator Andrew Thompson be expelled from the
Senate forthwith and that no further amounts be
remitted to him for either his sessional indemnity or
And on the subamendment of the Honourable Senator
Lawson, seconded by the Honourable Senator Lucier, that
the motion in amendment be amended by adding thereto:
That the debate on the motion in amendment be
adjourned until the Senate Law Clerk has rendered an
opinion on its legality; and
That the Law Clerk report his opinion to the Senate by
tomorrow.-(Honourable Senator Carstairs).
Hon. Shirley Maheu: Honourable senators, since the matter
of the attendance of Senator Thompson was decided by the
Senate last week, I move, pursuant to rule 30, with leave of the
Senate, that this order be discharged and the motion withdrawn.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted?
Hon. John Lynch-Staunton (Leader of the Opposition):
Honourable senators, there are two amendments moved by
absent members. I think we would need their approval before
The Hon. the Speaker: I must say that I was of the same view
as the Honourable Senator Lynch-Staunton. I asked the Table for
their advice. They tell me they have researched the item and that
indeed, if the original main motion is withdrawn, so are the
amendments automatically, if there are no objections. Obviously,
if there are objections, then we will not proceed. It can only be
done with leave.
Senator Lynch-Staunton: The procedure is quite correct, but
I would have thought that those who proposed the amendments
would have been consulted first, and then we could have
proceeded with dropping the item.
The Hon. the Speaker: I gather that there are objections, in
which case the matter will stand. We will await the return of the
Hon. Consiglio Di Nino: Honourable senators, I would
certainly have suggested, had our leader not done so, on behalf of
my colleague Senator Ghitter, to the chair of the committee that
she consult the two colleagues whose amendments form part of
this item on the Order Paper to get their approval at least, after
which I think the matter can be dealt with in this chamber again.
Senator Maheu: I will leave it until we return after the break.