Evidence of meeting #30 for Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities in the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was countries.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

9:25 a.m.

Liberal

Colleen Beaumier Brampton West, ON

Mr. Lessard, I think the issues you are talking about are all-encompassing issues. We certainly have identified the problems within our party, but the solutions are being worked on. I don't think I'm in a position to even discuss the overall senior policy positions, because I'm not the critic and I'm not the one who will be releasing the policy on poverty.

The only thing I can speak to is my bill and my reasons for bringing it forward. As for the rest, I think we have to wait and see what comes.

9:25 a.m.

Bloc

Yves Lessard Chambly—Borduas, QC

You deserve a great deal of credit, and I respect you very much for introducing this bill.

In speaking to you this morning, I'm also sending a message to your colleagues. Barely two and a half years ago, you were in power and you denied us these kinds of measures. When I say you, I don't mean you personally, but rather your party. You have previously proposed these measures. I'm thinking of the one concerning the income supplement, the assistance program for older workers who lose their jobs and measures like those you're announcing this morning.

There are also questions of cost. I would like you to submit to us the table containing the figures you presented to us earlier. I believe I incorrectly noted down some of those that you submitted to us the second time.

If the Prime Minister intends to seek royal recommendation, we'll have to work together. I would like you to understand clearly, you who are introducing a private bill, that we won't get far if your party doesn't support it. We have to get through the royal recommendation stage.

I see that there are people here today representing people who have recently arrived in the country and immigrants of longer standing. They have hope in this regard. I would like us to give them a fair idea of the contributions of each of the parties. I don't know what your commitment to this issue is. Work has been done in this area. I would like you to inform us about it and also to inform the interested groups here this morning.

Are you ready to do that?

9:25 a.m.

Liberal

Colleen Beaumier Brampton West, ON

Absolutely. Absolutely.

9:25 a.m.

Liberal

The Vice-Chair Michael Savage

Thank you, Mr. Lessard. That's seven minutes.

We do have conflicting information, so the information that you have, Madam Beaumier, you should make sure that the committee members have. We have had a cost from the department, and it's a little different from the Library of Parliament's. There may be reasons for that, but we can discuss that as we go. But we'd like to see your numbers.

Ms. Charlton, for seven minutes.

May 13th, 2008 / 9:25 a.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton Hamilton Mountain, ON

Thank you very much, Chair.

Ms. Beaumier, I first of all want to commend you for bringing this bill forward. I think all of us who've been working on seniors issues know that income security is the single most important priority for all seniors in our country. I do agree with Mr. Lessard, there's lots of work to be done, and this is just a particular slice of the larger policy area.

Do you agree with him, though, that despite the fact that this is, as you say, a narrowly focused issue, we do know that right now in Canada there are 200,000 people who are eligible for the GIS already who aren't accessing it? And one of the reasons they're not accessing it, among many, is that there are linguistic and cultural challenges to filling out the applications. Therefore they're not even sure of their entitlement and don't apply, and they don't get the GIS.

I wonder if in proposing this bill, because it does deal specifically with the newcomer community, you've thought about how we'd ensure that when we provide this entitlement for the GIS, people who would now be eligible could actually access that benefit. Because entitlement without access doesn't do them any good.

9:25 a.m.

Liberal

Colleen Beaumier Brampton West, ON

A simplistic way is to advertise in the ethnic newspapers--but no, I think we have to be a little more inventive in our ways of getting people to understand that these benefits are available. I do agree with you.

9:30 a.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton Hamilton Mountain, ON

Let me just ask a couple of other questions.

Do you have a comprehensive list of countries with which we don't have a reciprocal agreement, and therefore a list of countries whose emigrants this would affect?

9:30 a.m.

Liberal

Colleen Beaumier Brampton West, ON

No, we don't have a list.

9:30 a.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton Hamilton Mountain, ON

Is it possible for the committee to get that list?

9:30 a.m.

Liberal

Colleen Beaumier Brampton West, ON

We haven't focused on the different countries affected, I guess because we didn't particularly think it mattered where they came from.

9:30 a.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton Hamilton Mountain, ON

It matters to me only in terms of—

9:30 a.m.

Liberal

Colleen Beaumier Brampton West, ON

Yes, I understand that.

9:30 a.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton Hamilton Mountain, ON

—whether you would agree that we need to have particular kinds of outreach strategies to make sure everybody becomes aware of the entitlements. It does matter in which languages we might pursue that. It would be of interest.

9:30 a.m.

Liberal

The Vice-Chair Michael Savage

I'm informed that it would be easier to get a list of those countries with which we do have reciprocal arrangements, and we'll provide that to the committee as soon as possible.

9:30 a.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton Hamilton Mountain, ON

Fair enough. Thank you very much.

You talked very eloquently about the fact that this isn't just a cost, that there's also a net benefit, not just to newcomers but to our whole community, in implementing this bill. It strikes me that one of the areas where there'd be substantial cost savings--although not on the federal government side--would be through social assistance savings, for example.

Have you costed that out at all? I know it will vary province by province.