|These comments are direct quotations from the Hansard
BSE in Quebec
Ms. Denise Poirier-Rivard (Châteauguay—Saint-Constant, BQ): Mr. Speaker, yesterday morning, the Quebec Union des producteurs agricoles reminded us that the mad cow crisis has had serious consequences and, to date, producers in Quebec have lost $280 million, losses that existing programs have not compensated.
Why is the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food not amending existing programs to bring them more in line with the reality facing Quebec producers?
Hon. Andy Mitchell (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, we have taken a number of measures in order to assist producers in Quebec and indeed right across Canada.
As I mentioned in an answer to a previous question, we have been able to increase slaughter capacity in this country by nearly 30%. We have provided income support of well over $1 billion to producers. We have intervened in the marketplace through our set-aside programs to see a recovery in the price.
There is additional work that needs to be done, as the hon. member has pointed out, and we will move in that respect as we go forward.
Ms. Denise Poirier-Rivard (Châteauguay—Saint-Constant, BQ): Mr. Speaker, the Quebec government has already done its part to secure financing for the Colbex abattoir. The federal government must do its share to ensure that producers get a floor price for their cull cows.
Why is the minister not announcing the federal contribution to this financing?
Hon. Andy Mitchell (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I have made it clear on several occasions in talking to the UPA in respect of the slaughter capacity in Quebec that if there is any proposal to increase that slaughter capacity, we have programming to assist in that respect.