Gerry Ritz                         
Member of Parliament for Battlefords-Lloydminster      


House of Commons Speeches                

Emergency Debate on BSE, February 4, 2022

Mr. Gerry Ritz (Battlefords—Lloydminster, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Medicine Hat.
The minister has given us a lot of food for thought tonight and a lot of things that we did not already know. Of course, the biggest problem we have in the whole livestock industry, and its companion industries, is cash flow. It is a cash flow business like any other. It is the third largest contributor to the GDP and the federal government has a history of backstopping that third largest contributor with .5% in its federal spending. That is supposed to keep this industry alive and vibrant. Unfortunately, it is not doing that because we have never been proactive on any of these types of files.
In 1995, after the GATT round, there was talk at the table that we should be proactive in formulating minimum risk of breakouts of diseases and so on. Canada did not stay at the table. We walked away. We became part of the vigilante groups with other countries around the world. If somebody had a breakout, we became part of the group that hung them out to dry for seven years. So part of what we are facing is that background that we formulated ourselves, and it is unfortunate.
We have a situation here and there is no simple solution. There never is. We need a government that will have a vision, a plan, and actually talk to industry, talk to the farm groups, and listen to them. They all came before our committee over the past year when we were talking about the new APF program. They came with some very specific program changes. I sat in on some of those committee meetings. I listened to the bureaucrats say what was going to be in it. Then I listened to the farm groups come in and tell the bureaucrats what was wrong with their thinking. The bureaucrats came back to the table and said that is how it was going to be and that they were not going to change.
The minister has said he will go back to the table on the APF. He is going to strike another committee. We will waste some more time. All he has to do is sift through the former agriculture minister’s fan mail and he will find out what went wrong. He does not have to strike another committee. He should just read those letters. It is all in there. We do not need that.
The problem with CAISP is that it is poorly designed, the same as the other programs, and we are playing catch-up again. It is a cash flow business and there is no cash flow.
The CFIP moneys that he brags about that the government is getting out there are 60% of 2002 money. That is two years old already. That is not cash flow. That is starving an industry to death. The government is clawing back anybody who did get their money last spring to that 60% level because it says it is going to run out of funds. And yet the minister says, on the other hand, that he will go back to the well. Well then, do it and take a big bucket because it is going to take one.
He is also talking about the new CAIS program. It is going to be wonderful. Cash flow is going to be revealed. People can take an advance on it. No, they cannot. The forms are out there on the web but most people cannot figure it out. It is still stuck with the accountants and the lawyers. Nobody is getting a cheque. Nobody.
I want to mention the $600 million in transition money. If people did not have an NISA account, they applied at the end of December. It is still stuck in transit somewhere.
No wonder the banks and farm credit are getting antsy. No wonder the headlines say bankruptcies soar. The government is starving farmers to death with no cash flow. It says it is part of the help; it is part of the problem.
The programs that the government is designing are not farm gate friendly, never are, never will be, because they do not understand what makes the farm gate work. The government throws money at a problem, or says it does. It gets the spin in the cities, with the consumers, but it does not get to the farmers. Members should ask any of these folks sitting here tonight if cash is flowing to them like the minister is talking about.
To qualify for the APF and the CAISP part of it one must have $26,000-$28,000 on average on deposit, cash. If one were to have that kind of cash flow, one probably would not come begging to the minister; one would ignore him.
The government must get serious about what it can do for farmers. We must talk about tax deferrals. We have written letters to the finance minister. He will not even reply. That has to be done. We have drought compounding the BSE problem, and he will not even reply. He will not make that little slip of the pen. That is ridiculous. He is supposed to be looking after western Canada.
All these federal programs are a false hope. They are not getting out there to backstop an industry that has never come to the government with hat in hand. It is forced to do that now because it has been starved into submission. That is not a good way to run a country. We must see some direction from the government.

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