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Results: 1 - 15 of 997
View Libby Davies Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you very much.
I'm not usually on this committee, but I'm delighted to be here today because we have the officials from the City of Vancouver.
Thank you very much for being here, Dr. Ballem, and other officials from Vancouver and from TransLink.
I absolutely concur with you about the busyness and the importance of the Broadway corridor. I have to say that the Broadway station is the perfect place to do political canvassing, because as you saw in the picture, the lineups are so long in the morning that they go all the way around the block. It's the perfect place to hand out leaflets. I know people would much rather be getting on the buses or the SkyTrain to go to work and so on.
You've outlined the very ambitious plans from the mayor's transportation transit plan—$7.5 billion over 10 years or so. It's a huge amount of money. Of course, as you say, we've just concluded the voting on the referendum, which I think is a first in Canada. Maybe there was one after the Second World War, but it's really something quite new. I'm very happy to say that I've sent in my ballot voting “yes”.
In terms of getting down to the money, the whole debate about infrastructure and public transit funding has been there as long as I can remember, going back to the 1980s when I was on city council. It was always the issue of not having the sustained, long-term funding that metro Vancouver needed to rely on. Now we're down to a referendum.
I have a couple of questions. Do you have concerns that now, with a precedent of a referendum and having that local base—I think it's $250 million a year that will have to be generated—this is creating a new order of things? Is this something that you anticipate we're going to have to rely on 10 or 20 years from now, another referendum?
In terms of the federal role, of course this is critical. You say in your brief that you're hoping the federal government will be a partner and will make it a reality, so it doesn't quite sound as if it's absolutely there yet.
How confident are you in terms of the federal program and its continuity? Ideally, what is the situation that we would need to see in metro Vancouver to see that sustained level of funding so that you can make your long-term plans and all of the investments that are required?
View Libby Davies Profile
NDP (BC)
How confident are you that the federal government will be a partner that's sustainable in terms of funding? It's been very much on again, off again. It's not something that metro Vancouver has been able to rely on with a great deal of confidence. Are you confident about the funding arrangements now going into the future, or what would you like to see change to have that long-term continuity?
View Libby Davies Profile
NDP (BC)
Do I have any more time?
View Libby Davies Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you, Minister, and officials for coming here today.
Minister, you've pointed out that this is the largest federal department, and I wish we had an hour for every major program you have just to go through them. It's obviously a generalist situation we're facing with one hour with you.
You said at the beginning that obviously jobs are a key priority, and certainly there would be agreement on that. My colleague has pointed out $40 million of allocated funds was unspent in youth employment programs.
When you look at something like adult learning, literacy, and essential skills, that was underspent by 31%, which is quite shocking given that the OECD says that 49% of adult Canadians fall below high school equivalency. Obviously, that's a very important program in terms of job readiness.
You spoke a little about foreign credentials. That program has been underspent by $30 million over five years. You talked about the pilot project, which sounds well and good, but it seems to me there's a pattern here.
Your response was, “Well, you know, every department likes to come in under budget”, and that's good, but we're talking about millions and millions of dollars here that haven't been spent in the way they were meant to be spent to help people who really need it.
I don't feel satisfied by your answer. I think it requires some explanation as to why, for example, with youth employment, money that's meant to go to such a critical area, or adult literacy, or foreign credentials isn't being delivered.
Either the departments are deliberately overestimating what they need, or the whole thing's a bit of a farce. These estimates are meant to be there as estimates. They're meant to be there. The allocation is meant to be real. I wonder if you could give us a better explanation as to why so much allocation is unspent when there is such a high need, whether it's for youth, adult literacy, or whether it's for new Canadians.
View Libby Davies Profile
NDP (BC)
These are your allocations we're talking about, not our allocations. This is what Parliament agreed to, based on what your department said needed to be provided for that program.
No one is talking about shovelling money out the door. It's based on your estimates.
View Libby Davies Profile
NDP (BC)
View Libby Davies Profile
NDP (BC)
Minister, I can tell you—
View Libby Davies Profile
NDP (BC)
That's not what the debate is about. It is about delivering results, and it's about providing the programs where they're needed.
I can tell you that probably in every riding, particularly my riding, youth unemployment is a serious issue. There are all kinds of organizations that could have used the youth employment program funds for summer jobs, but the allocations, whatever they are...and yet we find out there's $40 million that has been unspent.
It's not a matter of shovelling money out the door. It's a matter of using the dollars for what they were intended, particularly when there's such a high need. I feel there's a huge gap in terms of the explanation here, and it doesn't make sense. It doesn't make sense to Canadians.
View Libby Davies Profile
NDP (BC)
We had a little bit of discussion earlier about child care, and the minister threw out the number of $20 billion a year for what he said was a government-run national child care plan. I'm not sure what he meant by “government-run”. You could have various interpretations of that. I'm just wondering whether or not the department has actually done any costing of the NDP plan that is being proposed.
View Libby Davies Profile
NDP (BC)
Okay, so we don't really know what this $20 billion refers to then.
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.
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?
View Libby Davies Profile
NDP (BC)
Do you think it's important to have long-term, sustainable housing affordability coming from CMHC through government funds to ensure that continuity and the seed money that's needed for the provinces and so on?
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