Evidence of meeting #63 for Finance in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was workers.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Claude Poirier  President, Professional Serving Canadians Coalition, Canadian Association of Professional Employees
  • Tyler Sommers  Coordinator, Democracy Watch
  • Terrance Oakey  President, Merit Canada
  • Bob Linton  Director, Government and Political Affairs, United Food and Commerical Workers Union

12:10 p.m.

President, Professional Serving Canadians Coalition, Canadian Association of Professional Employees

Claude Poirier

The workforce adjustment directive and the appendices to our collective agreements are there to allow the government to move people around and to change the way work is being done. That is part of the deal that Canada has with its unions. I don't have the exact figures on increases in the public service for the years you've quoted. What I know is that in 2008 or 2007, we were back at the levels we saw in the early nineties, 1993 and 1994.

The increase has been there in part—and in good part—because older guys like me will be retiring from the public service, and you need to recruit more to allow for succession planning. That explains part of the increase.

Now, as far as the economy goes, you have to take into account that before the Conservative government came to power the first time, we were not having deficits but yearly surpluses.

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Thank you, and I would also like to note that we paid off $30 billion during our initial time. In 2008 of course there was a global recession, and things have changed dramatically, so ultimately we do need to look at where we're going and absolutely have a workforce that meets those very important needs of the community. But I'd also say that we have to be like those businesses in my riding that had to make some very challenging decisions.

Perhaps here I will switch to Mr. Linton, because I only have five minutes. Mr. Linton, you referenced the PBO budget report. Did you also read the budget report where he talked about the demographic challenges that we would be facing? Could I have just a quick yes or no.

12:10 p.m.

Director, Government and Political Affairs, United Food and Commerical Workers Union

Bob Linton

The demographic challenges that I saw included the fact that—

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

There was a specific report he did approximately a year ago that reflected on how the government had to do something in terms of the health and social safety net and the demographic challenges. Did you manage to read that report?

12:10 p.m.

Director, Government and Political Affairs, United Food and Commerical Workers Union

Bob Linton

Are you talking about the increase in the GDP and how it will be only 0.8% or 1.8%?

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

He produced a document that reflected very clearly on how the government had to look at the demographic challenges in terms of structural deficits.

Did you see the numbers that came out today from Stats Canada regarding demographic challenges? A quick yes or no.

12:10 p.m.

Director, Government and Political Affairs, United Food and Commerical Workers Union

Bob Linton

No, unfortunately, I was on a plane on the way up here.

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Okay.

Were you aware that many countries have taken this move from age 65 to 67 to deal with these very significant challenges?

12:10 p.m.

Director, Government and Political Affairs, United Food and Commerical Workers Union

Bob Linton

Yes, I am aware of that.

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

So I don't think this is an easy decision for government to be making, but I think it's a decision, given the information from the Parliamentary Budget Officer and from Stats Canada, that OAS needs to be there for the long-term future. Can you not see the rationale in terms of the long-term future?

12:10 p.m.

Director, Government and Political Affairs, United Food and Commerical Workers Union

Bob Linton

I believe that's something we'll agree to disagree on.

Thank you.

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Thank you.

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair James Rajotte

Thank you.

We go to Mr. Brison.

May 29th, 2012 / 12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Kings—Hants, NS

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

I appreciate each of you joining us today.

I appreciate Mr. Poirier's recognition that in fact there was a period of significant budget surpluses and paying down of debt. In reality we were in deficit before the downturn in the fall of 2008, as a result of tax changes and spending increases.

But on the issue of EI, I'm told in regard to the proposed change to the EI board of referees that the current approach is working well. It's decentralized. Decisions are being made closer to the citizens, the workers, and the employers affected by those decisions, and it's a very low-cost structure—probably lower than it will be later.

What's the rationale being given to make this change, to centralize this decision-making?

12:10 p.m.

Director, Government and Political Affairs, United Food and Commerical Workers Union

Bob Linton

Sorry, I wasn't aware that was for me.

What's the rationale?