Evidence of meeting #18 for Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities in the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was board.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Janice Charette  Deputy Minister, Department of Human Resources and Skills Development
  • Karen Kinsley  President, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, Department of Human Resources and Skills Development

11:40 a.m.

Bloc

Yves Lessard Chambly—Borduas, QC

Mr. Chair, please do not deduct that from my speaking time.

11:40 a.m.

Conservative

Diane Finley Haldimand—Norfolk, ON

I apologize; I think I have it going now.

Could you just repeat the last part of the question, please?

11:40 a.m.

Bloc

Yves Lessard Chambly—Borduas, QC

I want to point out that you put forward the Canada Employment Insurance Financing Board, on top of the existing Canada Employment Insurance Commission. One makes recommendations on the EI program, and the other manages the premiums in order to determine the premium rate—providing a balance.

This bill was passed by the House and received royal assent on June 18, 2008.

To everyone's surprise, in the last budget, you set the premium rate at its lowest level since 1982 and decided which EI measures would be enhanced.

Does that not confirm the concerns of the organizations that spoke up and said that they would just become two puppet organizations? They added that this would allow you to make the decisions in the place of those whose job it was to do so, and that the organization in question could not do anything for another two years.

11:40 a.m.

Conservative

Diane Finley Haldimand—Norfolk, ON

I will give my answer in two parts.

Yes, we established the commission to avoid situations that had existed previously, where the premiums were not consistent with the expenditures, which created a large surplus.

11:40 a.m.

Bloc

Yves Lessard Chambly—Borduas, QC

For those listening to us today, that means that you did not consult the commission or the board before making your decision.

11:40 a.m.

Conservative

Diane Finley Haldimand—Norfolk, ON

In this global economic climate, it was very important that we not impose job-killing payroll rates.

11:40 a.m.

Bloc

Yves Lessard Chambly—Borduas, QC

If I may, basically, the answer is they were not consulted. The decision was made at your level.

11:40 a.m.

Janice Charette Deputy Minister, Department of Human Resources and Skills Development

Perhaps I could help respond to Mr. Lessard's question.

11:40 a.m.

Bloc

Yves Lessard Chambly—Borduas, QC

If you do not mind, I would like the minister to answer, as it was a political decision.

11:40 a.m.

Conservative

Diane Finley Haldimand—Norfolk, ON

That woman is the chairperson of the commission, which makes her the expert in this area.

11:40 a.m.

Bloc

Yves Lessard Chambly—Borduas, QC

It was you who made the decision, not, as you say, that woman.

11:40 a.m.

Conservative

Diane Finley Haldimand—Norfolk, ON

I did not make the decision. It would not have been possible.

11:40 a.m.

Bloc

Yves Lessard Chambly—Borduas, QC

When I say you, I mean that it was your government that made the decision.

11:45 a.m.

Conservative

Diane Finley Haldimand—Norfolk, ON

We are trying to....

What we wanted to do was to prevent job-killing payroll taxes from going up. The freezing of the EI premiums is estimated to be a $4.5 billion injection into our economy, so that we can keep people working in these tough times. The rates are frozen, so that—

May 5th, 2009 / 11:45 a.m.

Bloc

Yves Lessard Chambly—Borduas, QC

Fine.

If I may, my intention was not for you to justify the decision, but rather to establish that it was made at your level—meaning that the government made the decision and that it was not on the recommendation of the two competent bodies.

When Bill C-50 was passed and received royal assent in June 2008, a decision was made to set up a $2 billion fund. Can you tell me where that $2 billion came from?