These comments are direct quotations from the Hansard documents.

Cull Cows

Ms. Monique Guay (Rivière-du-Nord, BQ): Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Quebec minister of agriculture, Françoise Gauthier, gave assurances that the federal minister responsible for Quebec would do his part. The Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, on the other hand, says that no decision has been made regarding the nature and amount of assistance he plans for Quebec's farmers.

Can the minister responsible for Quebec confirm his commitment and provide the House with some details?

[English]

Hon. Andy Mitchell (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, as I have said on many occasions in the House, the federal government has been fully engaged in the province of Quebec in providing assistance both in a general nature and in terms of BSE.

I think the hon. member is referring specifically to the issue of cull cows and the work that is being done in that respect. We have said that the federal government understands that is a particular concern in Quebec, as it is in other provinces across the country, and that it is important for us to take measures to assist in that respect.

[Translation]

Ms. Monique Guay (Rivière-du-Nord, BQ): Mr. Speaker, we know that the aid package will cost around $16 million to ensure that farmers receive the floor price.

Therefore, can the minister confirm that he will make a 60-40 commitment, that is with the federal government putting in 60% and Quebec 40%?

[English]

Hon. Andy Mitchell (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is correct in that historically the share between the provinces and the federal government is normally 60:40. In this particular instance, there is at this point in time no specific request of the federal government. We understand that there is a particular issue. We will work with our colleagues in the province of Quebec and with producers in Quebec as we will work with producers and provinces right across this country to deal with the issue of cull cows.

[Translation]

Ms. Pauline Picard (Drummond, BQ): Mr. Speaker, not only are the existing programs poorly suited to the Quebec situation, but they are temporary and will end in February.

Is the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food ready to make a commitment not only to cover 60% of the costs, but also to ensure that the programs lasts until the floor price of 42 cents is reached, which would be in about eight months?

[English]

Hon. Andy Mitchell (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is not correct when she talks about a February date. Our CAIS program, which is an income support program, is a permanent program of the Government of Canada. It does not expire in February. The BSE programming that we put in place on September 10 will run over the next year and a half. It does not expire in February.

We are determined to deal with the issue of cull cows in Quebec. There are other issues that will impact that and we will be taking those into account as well.

[Translation]

Ms. Pauline Picard (Drummond, BQ): Mr. Speaker, it must not be forgotten that Quebec's farmers have lost $241 million since the beginning of the crisis—for which they are in no way responsible. The possible solutions may make corrections for the future, but can do nothing for the past.

Does the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food not agree that $241 million in losses fully justifies the implementation of specific measures to cover this loss of income suffered by Quebec's farming community?

[English]

Hon. Andy Mitchell (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, once again the hon. member is simply not accurate.

The income support programs that the government has put in place have been of assistance to producers in Quebec in the past and will be of value to them in the future. The cull animal program that we put in place specifically to deal with BSE has applied to producers in Quebec. The transitional industry support program that we put in place last year has applied directly to producers in Quebec as these programs have applied to producers all across Canada.

The hon. member is simply incorrect. The federal government has been assisting producers in Quebec and right across the country.