Welfare Reform in BC

Ms. Libby Davies (Vancouver East, NDP): Mr. Speaker, the former Finance Minister’s elimination of the Canada Assistance Plan has paved the way for the B.C. government to be the first province to impose time limits on social assistance. The 24-month rule will put tens of thousands into destitution and is being challenged today in B.C.

There is a clear federal responsibility here, through transfer payments and under the Constitution, to provide essential services to all Canadians.

I would ask the Finance Minister, will he make it clear to the B.C. government that these changes are unlawful and unjust and must be stopped now?

Hon. John Manley (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I believe that the matter which the Hon. Member has raised is something that lies within the exclusive jurisdiction of the province.

I think that, as we have seen over the last number of years, support to the provinces under CHST, for health care as well as for those other areas of provincial spending that are covered by the CHST, have increased and I expect that federal funding will continue to increase to the provinces for those purposes.