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 shortages.

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

5:15 p.m.

Senior Vice-President, Legislative Affairs, Canadian Federation of Independent Business

Daniel Kelly

I can tell you for certain that for small businesses the idea of a training tax, which is the program you're specifically citing, is something they oppose to the bottoms of their souls. The idea of taxing training and then having a credit that you could apply against if you demonstrate to the government that you've followed steps A, B, C, D, E, F, and G really cuts out small and medium-sized businesses.

Small firms do not train, for the most part, formally. There is an increase in formal training among small and medium-sized workplaces, but primarily training in SMEs is done informally. Governments don't understand informal training, they can't measure informal training. Therefore, what happens for small firms is they end up just paying the tax, and then do not receive any of the potential credits that are involved.

It essentially means they have less money available to provide training in the workforce because they're paying it out in tax. That's the reason the Government of Quebec actually exempted small and medium-sized firms from this overall, after years and years of lobbying from my organization.

5:15 p.m.

NDP

Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet Hochelaga, QC

I was going to add that the idea would not apply to small businesses, but to those of a certain size.

5:15 p.m.

Senior Vice-President, Legislative Affairs, Canadian Federation of Independent Business

5:15 p.m.

Vice-President, National Policy, Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters

Mathew Wilson

Our membership, companies such as Bombardier, BRP, Molson, and others in Quebec would spend well above the 1% threshold anyway, so it's not a direct business impact. The problem I have is the prescriptive nature that these regulations tend to come with. It doesn't allow for any flexibility in any different business setting.

Anything that would say here's a 1% tax, but you have to follow these specific rules, and a whole bureaucracy gets built up around it, is not going to be helpful; you're going to end up spending more. I'd rather see a 1% tax credit given across the board to companies who do training however they want to do it.

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Ed Komarnicki

The time is up, and we'll move to the next—

5:15 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Chamber of Commerce

Perrin Beatty

I'd like to make a comment.

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Ed Komarnicki

Go ahead.

5:15 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Chamber of Commerce

Perrin Beatty

Such a program, essentially for the reasons that were mentioned.... Even if we were to exempt SMEs, it would be less unfair, less burdensome. But large, progressive employers today often spend well in excess of the 1% in terms of employee training. The smartest employers invest. We need to do more of it, and they'll be driven to do that by good and sufficient business reasons.

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Ed Komarnicki

Okay. Thank you for that comment.

Mr. Warkentin, go ahead.

May 28th, 2012 / 5:15 p.m.

Conservative

Chris Warkentin Peace River, AB

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

It is a privilege to be a substitute in this committee for today. It's dealing with subject material that I know well. I come from Grande Prairie, Alberta, and we are facing one of the largest labour shortages in the country, next to my counterpart across in Fort McMurray. We're probably second to that. So I know generally what this means on the ground. I hear from folks on both sides, employers and employees, who have had to deal with the issues surrounding temporary foreign workers--the program specifically, but also the impacts on the community, in addition to the struggles in driving up inflationary costs as a result of a labour shortage.

I think we are in some ways a microcosm of what Canada might look like in the next number of years as we continue to see labour shortages increasing across the country.

To some extent I find some of this discussion a little academic, inasmuch as I know first-hand that while we say things like “no employer would ever look to a temporary foreign worker before a local person”, that's not always the case. There are some disincentives to work in this country, and I think we have seen some of those really highlighted in my community.

Mr. Kelly, I know you do a fair bit of research when it comes to dealing with employers. Employers on the ground know some of these things. I'm wondering if you've done any research in terms of really drilling down to some of those disincentives to work that have been identified by local employers and what the outcomes of those discussions might have been. Have you ever done any research with regard to that?

5:15 p.m.

Senior Vice-President, Legislative Affairs, Canadian Federation of Independent Business

Daniel Kelly

We have, and some of the disincentives are the ones that are the thing I'm not supposed to talk about--employment insurance—

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Ed Komarnicki

You can in the sense that obviously there will be some connection to job shortages or labour skills gaps. But that's not the principal point. We're not going to be studying the proposed EI changes. They're not yet in the regulations. But you can make those general comments and those connections to the point that he's making in a general way.

5:15 p.m.

Senior Vice-President, Legislative Affairs, Canadian Federation of Independent Business

Daniel Kelly

Terrific.

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

Chris Warkentin Peace River, AB

Maybe I should phrase my question differently.

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Ed Komarnicki

Why don't you just make your comments?