These comments are direct quotations from the Hansard documents.

Minister Ignores Own Secretary

Mr. James Bezan (Selkirk—Interlake, CPC): Mr. Speaker, at a recent agriculture committee meeting, the parliamentary secretary said about the CAIS program:

I guess...it's a policy problem, but...part of the problem with CAIS is...it really wasn't designed...to deal with a disaster, and we're trying to have it cover a disaster at the moment.

The agriculture minister has ignored MPs and he is ignoring his own parliamentary secretary. The minister is not listening nor is he designing farm programs that respond to disasters like BSE. I ask the minister, what alternatives is he considering to get emergency cash to the farm gate right now?

Hon. Andy Mitchell (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the reality is that under the CAIS program $400 million has gone to producers. That is what has happened this year.

As I said to the committee, there is a need for things to be done in addition to CAIS. We had an announcement on September 10 of an additional $488 million to assist specifically with the BSE issue, bringing our investments in respect of that particular problem to somewhere over $2 billion. This government cares about Canadian producers and it acts on that.

Mr. Robert Bouchard (Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, BQ): Mr. Speaker, the Union des producteurs agricoles is again calling for assistance. The losses sustained as a result of the mad cow crisis are wreaking terrible havoc. Despite the compensation packages, dairy farmers for example are being hit by losses of $15,000 per farm, on the average.

What is stopping the government from implementing the solutions proposed by Quebec's farmers and offering them proper compensation, as well as contributing, with the provinces, to setting a base price for animals sold to abattoirs?

Hon. Andy Mitchell (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, it is very important to me and to the Government of Canada to help the farmers of Quebec and those in the other regions of Canada.

[English]

We are working very diligently with the Province of Quebec and with producer groups in Quebec to address the issues that those particular producers face.