Evidence of meeting #40 for Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was labour.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Mervin Wiseman  Chair, Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council
  • Portia MacDonald-Dewhirst  Executive Director, Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council
  • John Sutcliffe  Executive Director, Canadian Council of Professional Fish Harvesters
  • Daniel Kelly  Senior Vice-President, Legislative Affairs, Canadian Federation of Independent Business
  • Mathew Wilson  Vice-President, National Policy, Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters
  • Perrin Beatty  President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Chamber of Commerce

5:25 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Simms Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, NL

Okay.

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Ed Komarnicki

Repeat your question.

5:25 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Simms Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, NL

Okay. We almost need a third translation for politicians on what exactly we're doing.

Nonetheless, I don't mean to be rude about it, but I wanted to go back to that for one moment, and I think I can. Stop me if I cannot.

The labour shortages are going to be that much more acute in these areas if, by putting policy in place that cuts people off at the very core in a short period of time.... You alluded to that. Can I just get you to expand on this? Because I just find that this is very difficult for us without any other incentives being brought forward.

I can briefly touch on one, if I may. I've always been a big fan of having a skill set inventory for areas of rural Canada whereby companies can actually access information about people with certain skills, but without this stuff, and all you have is going after the repeat users.... It's going to be very difficult. These communities either have to survive on this fish plant or that's it—it's game over.

5:25 p.m.

Vice-President, National Policy, Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters

Mathew Wilson

I'm not sure what I'm allowed to answer here either—

5:25 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Simms Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, NL

Nor am I. I'm not even sure what to ask.

5:25 p.m.

Voices

Oh, oh!

5:25 p.m.

Vice-President, National Policy, Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters

Mathew Wilson

Let me just.... I come from northeastern Ontario, from a logging community that relies a lot on seasonal workers. There's a certain skill set to logging. Everyone probably thinks it's very low-skilled, but there's a certain skill set to logging, just like there would be for fishing or anything else.

Those companies rely on the workers and typically rely on them through the winter months when it's cold and they can go across lakes and get the logs out. So I understand where you're coming from in terms of the need from an economic standpoint to have that pool of labour available year-round to make sure it's there in the wintertime. I certainly understand the need for that.

I don't know how much further I'm allowed to go on this, but there is certainly an economic argument for having that pool of labour available year-round, even for the seasonal workers.

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Ed Komarnicki

Okay. Your time is up.

Mr. Beatty, did you wish to make a comment? Go ahead.

5:25 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Chamber of Commerce

Perrin Beatty

I'd just like to add a comment, Mr. Chairman.

I understand the concerns. Having represented a rural constituency in Parliament, I understand the concerns of ensuring both that you deal with individuals fairly and that you're responsive to needs of industries and communities. The fundamental question here, though, is whether this an insurance program or not. Or is it a social support program or an industrial subsidy program?

Now, I believe that it should be returned to its original purpose, and that's as an insurance program for people who, due to no fault of their own, are unable to find work. If the government in its wisdom believes that industrial subsidies are necessary or desirable, or that other social subsidies are necessary or desirable, that should be handled outside of the EI program, in my view, and it should be done in a way that is transparent and open, and where you're not asking working Canadians and other companies that are making contributions to an insurance program to subsidize the program to be used for something for which it was never designed.

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Ed Komarnicki

I think the discussion we've had brought out both of those points quite well. I think we'll leave it at that.

We thank you very much for your presentations.

5:25 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Chamber of Commerce

Perrin Beatty

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Ed Komarnicki

We will suspend for a few moments to allow you to leave.

Then, with respect to the committee, we have a couple of committee matters to deal with.

[Proceedings continue in camera]