Interventions in Committee
 
 
 
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View Christine Moore Profile
NDP (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I will ask only one question, and then I will yield the floor to Mr. Rankin.
As we know, many homes have never been tested for radon, although a number of them are at risk. Could it be appropriate for CMHC, when processing a file for a home purchase, to require that the new buyer test for radon? That way someone buying a new home would know whether it contains radon or not and whether they have to make improvements to remedy the problem.
Kelley Bush
View Kelley Bush Profile
Kelley Bush
2015-06-18 16:17
We are already working with CMHC on the radon issue.
Here is what is being done to remedy the problem. Canada Post has a program called smartmoves, or déménageur in French. Every time someone submits a change of address request, they receive an information kit on everything they need to think about when they move into a new home. Information on radon is part of that kit. That's a way to inform homeowners when they should test radon levels before they move into a new home.
You asked a question about moving, but I forgot what the second part of your question was about.
View Libby Davies Profile
NDP (BC)
But we don't know how he arrived at the 1%. Anyway, I was just curious to know whether or not you'd costed the plan that the NDP had come up with, because I just don't know where this $20 billion comes from.
I want to switch gears, because CMHC is here. I'm from Vancouver, obviously one of the hot spots in the country around affordable housing. We recently had a rally in Vancouver organized by a young woman. It was her first time doing that and it was totally non-political. She organized a rally. Three hundred people showed up with a couple of days' notice and she developed a hashtag. Her first tweet ever she put in a news article, and it said #DontHave1Million, meaning that's what you need to have to own a home in Vancouver.
I'd just relate this back to you, because certainly in Vancouver, there is a housing crisis, an affordability crisis, whether it's for a rental or for home ownership, whether it has to do with the lack of opportunities around co-ops or the whole operating agreements. I remember the days when CMHC was a great provider of grants and funds to develop not-for-profit housing. We can all think of the veterans housing that was built after World War II, probably when CMHC began. Now it seems to be really nothing more than a mortgage insurer.
In fact that's how the minister introduced you. What kind of future do we have in terms of CMHC being part of the solution and moving away from just being a mortgage insurer? I mean we have a crisis in this country in affordable housing, and CMHC used to play a very important role. I know that from being a municipal councillor for five terms and I know how important CMHC was. That's all gone now.
Evan Siddall
View Evan Siddall Profile
Evan Siddall
2015-05-28 17:09
Thank you for the question.
Mr. Chair, on behalf of the government, CMHC continues to provide $2 billion per year in assisted housing programs. That includes $1.7 billion pursuant to existing historic agreements and about $300 million per year in new funding, most of which is provided in partnership with the provinces under the investment in affordable housing program with matching dollars. That has been about an additional $2 billion over the 2008 to 2015 period, as I recall.
View Libby Davies Profile
NDP (BC)
I know that the figure of $1.7 billion gets thrown around a lot, and I've had it in letters, but to be clear, those are existing long-term commitments as a result of mortgages that came about 25 years ago, or whenever it was. That's something you can see in its own separate way. In terms of new contributions, say, for the provision of cooperative housing which is a very affordable program and which has been very successful in Canada, we don't see anything from CMHC. Is there anything new that's on the horizon?
Evan Siddall
View Evan Siddall Profile
Evan Siddall
2015-05-28 17:10
The investment in affordable housing program was first introduced in the economic action plan or 2008-09 and then renewed again and extended in 2013, as I recall. In addition to that, CMHC continues to provide research and support for assisted housing providers through our affordable housing centre as it prepares to transition from the end of some of those operating agreements that you refer to.
View Phil McColeman Profile
CPC (ON)
View Phil McColeman Profile
2015-05-28 17:22
Thank you. It has been duly noted.
That wraps up our time with the government officials.
On behalf of committee members, I want to thank all of you for being here. We do have to conduct about five minutes of business, and we only have five minutes. If you could make your exit fairly promptly and quietly, I'd appreciate that. Thank you for your professionalism in all that you do.
Committee members, we're now seized with going through a series of votes on the estimates and giving your chair direction as to how to report them. I'm going to ask six different questions very quickly, and ask for your response in terms of a “yea” or a “nay” on the votes.
CANADA MORTGAGE AND HOUSING CORPORATION
Vote 1—Reimbursement under the provisions of the National Housing Act and the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation Act..........$2,025,629,000
(Vote 1 agreed to on division)
CANADIAN CENTRE FOR OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY
Vote 1—Program expenditures..........$3,969,600
(Vote 1 agreed to on division)
EMPLOYMENT AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
Vote 1—Operating expenditures..........$561,409,860
Vote 5—Grants and contributions..........$1,712,658,484
(Votes 1 and 5 agreed to on division)
NATIONAL CAPITAL COMMISSION
Vote 1—Payments to the National Capital Commission for operating expenditures..........$69,056,330
Vote 5—Payments to the National Capital Commission for capital expenditures..........$23,665,000
(Votes 1 and 5 agreed to on division)
The Chair: Shall I report the main estimates 2015-16 to the House?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
John Beaucage
View John Beaucage Profile
John Beaucage
2015-05-28 10:15
Well, I hate to talk about patience, but certainly patience is one of the things that we do have to talk about with this. When we are out there, we hear the good stories. It was only yesterday that we heard the that the Siksika Nation nation has 12 applications they're going to be sending in to us. We've heard of another for rental housing that is coming in within the next couple of weeks.
We know that it's building up. We know that momentum is happening. We know that they're coming in. It's just that they're not coming in by the thousands; they're coming in by the fives and tens. We have to look at realistic expectations to really change the philosophy and the way of thinking with our first nations citizens and the first nations themselves.
View Carolyn Bennett Profile
Lib. (ON)
So you would say that compared to what the minister used to be able to do in administering a fund that would back up a mortgage and to what CMHC used to do, the existence of your fund is necessary and that it is working. How are Canadians supposed to trust that this is going to work?
John Beaucage
View John Beaucage Profile
John Beaucage
2015-05-28 10:16
It's doing a number of things. Actually, the number of houses on the ground is an important statistic, and I'll never denigrate that, but what we also have to look at is the first nations that are becoming involved in getting housing plans and policies. Social housing people are now starting to pay rent in many communities, and we have many communities across the country where no rent is being paid on CMHC social housing units.
View Tony Clement Profile
CPC (ON)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Good morning, everyone.
Thank you, members of the committee, for providing us with the opportunity to speak to you about Treasury Board estimates as well as the government-wide mains.
I'm joined today by officials from the Treasury Board Secretariat, including the secretary, Yaprak Baltacioglu; Jim Ralston, Comptroller General of Canada; Daniel Watson, the chief human resources officer for the government. You may recognize Bill Matthews, assistant secretary of the expenditure management sector.
Bill's going to say a few things as well, but I just wanted to give you a brief overview of government-wide 2014-15 main estimates.
Again this year, the main estimates show a significant decrease in the amount of voted expenditures. As you will see, the estimates for the voted amounts are down by almost $800 million compared to last year, which is a clear result of our government's commitment to reducing unnecessary spending and balancing the budget.
Chair, the 2014-15 main estimates provide information on the $235.3 billion in planned budgetary expenditures for the 2014-15 fiscal year. This includes $86.3 billion in voted expenditures, which have decreased from $87.1 billion in 2013-14. This also includes the $149 billion in statutory expenditures.
Mr. Chair, the main appropriations include an increase of $311.7 million for Health Canada in order to stabilize, renew and expand important health programs and services for first nations and Inuit communities,
the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation's $253.1-million investment in affordable housing program, as well as a $70-million fund for housing in Nunavut, and an increase of $59.6 million for the National Research Council of Canada to realign industry-focused research.
Parliament will be asked to approve the amount of voted expenditures through interim and full supply bills, of course. I should say that the main estimates continue the steady decrease in the amount of voted spending. Over the past four years, since fiscal year 2010-11, there has been a decrease in the main estimates voted appropriations.
At the same time, statutory expenditures have gone up by $3.53 billion, mostly because of the changes made to the estimates for seniors' benefits and the Canada health transfer.
Overall, these main estimates reflect the results of the government's cost containment measures.
As for my own department, in 2014-15, the Treasury Board Secretariat is asking for $7.4 billion in planned spending. This amount does include certain increases as they're related to an increase in pay, less expenditures, operating budget carry forward, and employer contributions made under the pension program.
The secretariat's reference levels were reduced by $7.6 million in 2012-13. By the end of the 2013-14 fiscal year, ongoing savings will reach $15.1 million and $23.6 million by the end of 2014-15.
Just to give an example, as a follow-up to budget 2012, the Treasury Board Secretariat cut $100,000 from its annual spending on travel to align with our government's commitment to reduce travel expenditures.
Our government remains focused on modernizing and simplifying the administrative systems of government as well as promoting productivity, innovation, and excellence in the public service. Returning to a balanced budget is not an end in itself; it provides a host of benefits that go well beyond the bottom line. It frees up taxpayer dollars that may otherwise be spent on interest costs to lower taxes and invest in the priorities of Canadians. It helps keep interest rates low. Instilling confidence in consumers and investors, these dollars spur economic growth and job creation. It strengthens our country's ability to respond to longer term challenges such as population aging and unexpected global economic shocks.
With your say-so, Mr. Chair, I would now ask Bill Matthews to give you a little more detailed information on the main estimates, and afterwards we'd be happy to take your questions.
Steven Mennill
View Steven Mennill Profile
Steven Mennill
2013-11-28 17:13
Thank you.
As you may know, we have existing agreements in place with all provinces and territories until March 31, 2014. The government announced a five-year extension to that program, and we are currently in the process of negotiating that five-year extension with all provinces and territories.
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