House of Commons Hansard #271 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was jobs.

Topics

Supply
Government Orders

1:15 p.m.

Liberal

Patrick Gagnon Bonaventure—Îles-De-La-Madeleine, QC

Mr. Speaker, there are many questions I would like to answer.

First of all, we clearly show our confidence in Quebecers and in all other Canadians. I think that by giving each unemployed worker a certain amount of money, we give him or her the tools needed to create his or her own job by letting him or her decide which course answers his or her own needs. They can choose the courses that are adapted to the new economy that is emerging in each region.

Decentralization is going directly to these people, to Quebecers. That is decentralization, and that is what the unemployed want. That is what we mean by change: giving people the appropriate programs, according to their own personal needs.

I also want to answer my colleague's second question, about young people finishing high school, professional training, college or university, therefore for all young people. When I finished my studies-and that was not too long ago-my first priority was to find a job. I would rather use examples from my own region. When a young person graduates from school, he or she seeks a job to get experience, to show what he or she can do. This is why with the new programs like services Canada but particularly youth internship, we will tell the young person this: "Listen, you have this much money, go to your employer and tell him that, thanks to the support of the Canadian government, you can subsidize part of your salary, on the condition that he promises to keep you on staff for a certain period of time".

I think we are investing in Quebecers. For too long, we invested in the public service, in obsolete programs or in programs that were not adapted to the real needs of the population. We listen to the population and to the unemployed but, unfortunately, this is not the case of the opposition.

Supply
Government Orders

1:15 p.m.

Reform

Garry Breitkreuz Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, I have a very brief question.

The hon. member has spent a lot of time defending the government's unemployment scheme. I would submit there would not be any need for this debate if he would answer one simple question: Why does the government not return this program to its original mandate of being an insurance program, as it was in 1940 when it was started?

Liberal members defend this by saying that history says they are supposed to do all this and be involved in this area. That is not true. The original intent of this was to be a true insurance program. The government has strayed from this, which is why the Bloc is asking these questions. That is why the Bloc has these concerns. That is why many provinces have these concerns.

The member used the phrase "we are going to serve the needs of the people", and the hon. Minister of Human Resources Development in defending it said "we are going to reduce the risk".

The auditor general says this unemployment insurance program the way it is presently structured is increasing the risk. Why do the Liberals not do the proper thing and put it back to a true insurance program? They admit that by decreasing the premiums five cents they will create something like 20,000 jobs. I do not know how they know this, but that is what they say. If that is the case, why do they not put it back to a true insurance program and reduce the unemployment rate by 1.5 per cent to 3 per cent? That is hundreds of thousands of jobs.

It is totally inexcusable for the government to go off on all kinds of tangents and create more aspects for the program rather than do the right thing. I do not know how the hon. member could ever defend the fact that it is not becoming again a true insurance program.

Supply
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

Liberal

Patrick Gagnon Bonaventure—Îles-De-La-Madeleine, QC

Mr. Speaker, this government does not have any intention of going back to 1941. The basis of this reform is to ensure we answer the needs, the requests, and the demands of the new economy, which is completely different from the economy of 1941. In 1941 we were in the middle of a war. It was a completely different context. We did not have the new economic realities. We did not have computers and fax machines and the rise of a new economic class. We did not have the fundamental changes that have taken place in the last five years.

We are trying to invest not in the government programs per se, or the fonctionnaires, but in younger Canadians, in middle aged Canadians, and in older Canadians. We are trying to define what they need. Often what they need is also what the new economy demands. This is why we have to adapt our programs. This is why we should invest in the individual. It is up to the individual.

If I am not mistaken, the Reform Party has always upheld individual rights more than anything else. We are now investing in individuals. We have faith in Canadians to make the correct choice in order to find the course that is tailored to their needs and to that of the new economy. That is why I would ask the hon. member opposite to support the government in this courageous initiative.

Supply
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak on this opposition motion which demands:

That this House condemn the government for choosing to reform unemployment insurance in a way that maintains overlap and duplication in the manpower sector and thus prevents the government of Quebec from adopting a true manpower development policy of its own.

This opposition day follows on an historical event yesterday in the Quebec National Assembly, when all members present voted unanimously in favour of the following motion-96 in favour and no one against, a fairly rare occurrence in any parliament:

That the National Assembly reaffirm the consensus expressed in this House on December 13, 1990, on the occasion of the ministerial statement on manpower adjustment and occupational training, to the effect that:

Quebec must have sole responsibility for policies pertaining to manpower adjustment and occupational training within its borders and patriate accordingly the funding allocated by the federal government to these programs in Quebec;

Within the current constitutional framework and in order to improve services to customers-

All Quebec MLAs, whether Parti Quebecois, Quebec Liberals, Action démocratique du Québec, everyone in the Quebec House unanimously adopted this motion, which continues:

-Quebec must take over the control and management of various services pertaining to employment and manpower development and all programs that may be funded through the Unemployment Insurance Fund within Quebec's borders and must therefore receive the funding appropriate to such responsibilities;

What they told the Quebec Legislative Assembly was not "Let the federal government give money to the unemployed in voucher form so they can take Quebec courses under an agreement between the federal and the provincial governments". No, what they said was "Turn all of the responsibility over to Quebec, and it will handle things". This statement was supported by both the sovereignist government party and the federalist opposition in Quebec.

They also stated:

The Government of Quebec and representatives of business, labour and the co-operative sector agree to oppose any initiative by the federal government that would constitute an invasion of Quebec's prerogatives.

To find an example of this one need look no further than clauses 61 and 59 of the bill which show that, where no agreement is in place between the federal and provincial governments, the province will be penalized because the unemployed will not receive vouchers to purchase courses in Quebec. If this is not invasion of our prerogatives, what is it? Is this not the kind of behaviour the federal government has been accused of for years?

The reform as presented is not what Quebec wants. The consensus against it, which we have voiced here on numerous occasions, took on a particular historical value with the National Assembly's motion of yesterday.

Continuing to quote the motion:

Therefore, it asks the government and the Minister of Employment to immediately undertake formal discussions with the federal government in order to ensure the respect of the consensus and the promotion of the interests of the Quebec people.

What the MLAs who reached agreement on this, whether federalist or not, was not "We must accept the planned reform as presented by the federal government". They said it was necessary to "immediately undertake formal discussions with the federal government in order to ensure the respect of the consensus and the promotion of the interests of the Quebec people".

This initiative by Quebec is therefore entirely legitimate. And if the present federal government is not listening, if it fails to change its reforms accordingly, it will be up against a wall. And as a result, it will again fail to deal with the problem.

Why is Quebec so keen on controlling this jurisdiction? Because as much as $500 million will be invested in five new employment measures. And by 2001 and 2002, it may be $750 million. These employment measures affect all of the areas over which Quebec has jurisdiction.

Canadian federalism is a very good example of inefficiency. Although Quebec is responsible for the Labour Code, occupational health and safety legislation and labour standards, the federal government will set up programs relating to wage subsidies and income supplements, a job creation fund, assistance for unemployed entrepreneurs, and a system of loans and bursaries. We will take a closer look at some of these to show the potential for conflict.

For instance, the job creation fund. If Quebec wants an active employment policy, it must be according to the federal government's development model. If the Quebec government feels that the federal model is not the one it wants, and if current reforms are supposed to promote manpower mobility and get people out of the resource regions when we in Quebec prefer to promote growth in our regions, we will be stuck with this model forever.

Another example is assistance for unemployed entrepreneurs, the program referred to as self-employment assistance. In Quebec the so-called Paillé plan was implemented. If Quebec wants to develop these measures, it will not be able to control them all, and we get a situation where people who receive self-employment assistance do not get the Paillé plan. If they are on the Paillé plan, they do not get self-employment assistance. This creates situations in which young business people wanting to start up have to knock on the doors of two governments. This reform will not resolve the situation.

My final example involves the loans and grants program. You may be sure that, in the medium term, the program, which is intended to provide grants to the unemployed looking for work will conflict with Quebec's loans and grants program for irregular students. We will start making comparisons, we will look at workers' behaviour to see whether they would not do better in a regular educational program than under the federal program. This will raise the level of the cacophony between the two governments.

This is why, I think, the wish of Quebecers expressed in the National Assembly may be readily understood.

Furthermore, after the consensus was reaffirmed, following the affirmation that Quebec must be solely responsible for manpower adjustment policy, the minister of employment was told to discuss matters with the federal minister. She did so right away yesterday. She wrote the Minister of Human Resources Development to tell him she was ready to discuss matters within the context of the mandate given her by the National Assembly. The mandate is to promote the interests of the people of Quebec and ensure respect of the consensus that Quebec must take control in this area.

Why are we having such a hard time getting the federal government moving on this? When we toured Canada, last year, with the Standing Committee on Human Resources Development, we found in several circles that there was a willingness to take over, through decentralization, certain aspects such as manpower training. Why is it that the federal government has not yet moved in that direction?

The answer can be found in certain elements of the unemployment insurance reform. This reform adds to an already complex decision making process, thus assuring the bureaucrats running the national network that their empire will endure. The best way to perpetuate a bureaucracy is to make it more complex, thus justifying the existence of more assistants, more advisers, more this and more that, in the end making the product less accessible to the client they are supposed to serve.

If there is one thing the government can be blamed for, it is its inability to cut through this bureaucracy and do what the people really want. I think that the federal government was being called to order by the motion passed by the Quebec National Assembly. The National Assembly has put the federal government squarely in front of its responsibilities.

It must listen to the consensus conveyed by the Quebec National Assembly. I will stress that 96 voted for the motion, none voted against and none abstained. All the members present in the National Assembly supported this motion. I would ask the Quebec members on the government side this: Are you willing to move a similar motion giving Quebec sole responsibility for policies

pertaining to manpower adjustment and occupational training within its borders, and supporting the other proposals put forward? Are you listening to Quebecers as National Assembly members were?

Are you willing to take action in your caucus, in committee, so that this reform can provide any province with a real opportunity to opt out and set up its own program, to have a real employment development policy, and to opt out of existing manpower development programs. The array of federal and provincial labour development programs is the laughing stock of all public services, with their confusing names and objectives. These things have never been properly clarified.

The federal government claims it is making an effort, that we could agree on a set of rules. It is wondering why we on this side are not yet satisfied. It is because the federal government wants control over the guidelines. This means that, every time we want to change the way these programs are run, we must first negotiate a federal-provincial agreement, a kind of administrative agreement.

This is unacceptable, in my opinion. Before any administrative aspect is negotiated, there must be agreements on the substance of the issue, and the Quebec consensus on the need to transfer all federal budgets allocated to this sector and to repatriate control over and management of the various employment services must be recognized.

Quebec now faces a rather special situation. Because the federal government decided to maintain its network of employment centres, it is significantly reducing the number of points of service. This will result in fewer services being provided to unemployed individuals. These centres will serve a larger area than before. At the same time, another network set up by the Centre Travail Québec and the Société Québécoise de la main-d'oeuvre is also active in the field.

In the days before the referendum, this government told us: "Yes, we will take into account the fact that you are a distinct society. We will take into account the aspects that make Quebec different". However, after the referendum, we came back here and it was business as usual. It is always the same thing. The federal government claims to be able to do better than Quebec in the manpower sector. That view is not shared by anyone in Quebec, particularly in light of the results.

The auditor general once said that the federal government did not have adequate control over its employability support programs. These programs are not effective, as evidenced by the fact that one million Canadians are out of work. Yet, the government remains insensitive to this fact and cannot bring itself to giving Quebec exclusive jurisdiction over the manpower sector.

I am prepared to bet that, if the manpower sector was delegated to Quebec tomorrow, within about ten years there would be a significant change in attitude. Since the stakeholders would be closer to the field, Quebecers would benefit from a program better integrated with the education network. Ultimately, the existing gap between the number of available jobs and the number of available workers would be filled.

This is where our record is the worst; Canada has an international reputation with the OECD for performing very badly in this area, because we administer things at a distance, with no attention to local needs.

In closing, I would like to invite the federal government, particularly those members representing regions of Canada with economic and social objectives, and realities that are different from those of the ridings close to Ottawa, to make their points of view heard in caucus. This will ensure that regions so desiring may be given the necessary tools for development, and the attitude that there is one mandatory national standard can be scrapped.

It would be heaven on earth, if all we needed for automatic bottom-line results was to set standards. If that were the case, with all the standards we have in Canada all of our problems would be solved by now.

Essentially, the solution for Quebec lies in this consensus in the National Assembly, in which all of the parties agreed to the same thing: that Quebec be given control of the tools relating to manpower, even under the present federal arrangement. When we have this we will be able to get things done properly together. And we are asking our minister of employment-because she is answerable not only to her government but to all of the Parliament of Quebec in the National Assembly-to carry out formal discussions with the federal government aimed at ensuring that this consensus is respected and the interests of the people of Quebec promoted.

The government will be judged on whether it agrees to integrate this consensus into its reform. If it does so, it will have Quebecers' gratitude. If it does not, this will be proof once more that more than 50 per cent of Quebecers ought to have voted yes on October 30, so that we might finally escape from this unwieldy system which benefits neither Quebec nor Canada.

Supply
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

Reform

Garry Breitkreuz Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, I sit back and listen to the debate in the House. I listen to what Bloc is telling us and what it is saying about the government's unemployment insurance program. I have a much more fundamental question that needs to be asked. Why is the Bloc not asking the government why it is not creating more jobs? We go on nattering

about why one province does not have more of this jurisdiction and we lose sight of the big picture.

It is totally unacceptable that we continue to debate these five points and we forget why the people in Canada in the last election tried to put in place a government they thought would create jobs.

For two years it has been going on and on and has not done a thing. Why is the Bloc not asking the government about some kind of job creation strategy. How many jobs are being created by this? How many jobs are being destroyed by the unemployment insurance program?

The auditor general has said the unemployment rate is one and a half per cent to three per cent higher than it should be because of what the government is doing. It does not make the changes. Why is the Bloc not targeting that problem?

Instead we go on about other things. We have some simple cosmetic changes that have been made like how many jobs does changing the name from unemployment to employment insurance create? Not one. In fact it destroys jobs because we now have to raise taxes. We have to do all these name changes on all the buildings, on all the letterhead and all this kind of thing. That extra tax will destroy more jobs.

We are not addressing the fundamental problem of why we have such a high unemployment rate. We are being taxed to death and the government is using the unemployment insurance system as simply another tax to run some of its favourite programs.

Those are the fundamental questions that should be asked. The Bloc should be asking those questions if it wants to claim to be official opposition in the House.

Supply
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, first of all, I agree with some aspects of what the previous speaker said. Canadians have every right to criticize the present Liberal government because it was elected on a platform of jobs, jobs, jobs, but in the end it is just coasting. It creates jobs piecemeal, while just as many are being lost, so that net job creation is zero.

This government plays a lot with words, and I think that is significant. Instead of unemployment insurance it now says employment insurance, but for heaven's sake, the contents should be what it says on the label. There should be something to help evaluate the impact in terms of job creation and helping us to get out of this mess.

We in the Bloc Quebecois are concerned about job creation. We see in these reforms a lot of measures that will have a negative impact on job creation, including the fact that young people who come on the labour market and fail to accumulate 910 hours will remain dependent, will go back on welfare and well become part of the welfare cycle. This is wrong and lends further credence to the fact that this is a lost generation, and that we cannot accept.

We in the Bloc Quebecois have a different perception of employment. We agree with the Reform Party in some respects. There is also a structural and organizational problem in Canada.

We have developed a system in which one government has the power to collect taxes and spend money in jurisdictions it does not know and does not control, and has developed a fantastic bureaucracy to be able to function. This has created a lot of public service jobs but today, at the operational level, we realize this no longer works. Yes, we have a problem with the plumbing. We will have to deal with a number of things, but we also have a problem with the architecture: I am referring to the fact that governments do not have clearcut jurisdictions.

From the federalist point of view, which I do not share, one could say it is entirely normal that in Canada international relations come under the jurisdiction of a federal Parliament. However, manpower is a not an area in which the federal government can be effective, and this is borne out by unemployment rates that are unacceptable, that are much too high and that show a significant spread. There are marked differences between the regions in central Canada and around the federal government, and more distant regions.

The maritimes, Quebec and other regions outside larger urban centres always seem to have higher unemployment rates than the metropolitan areas. The system puts the regions at a disadvantage, which means that young people must look for employment elsewhere. If we keep the 910-hour standard, you will see a large number of young people between the ages of 18 and 23 who may have managed to get summer jobs in their own regions but will have to leave to get jobs in the city, and we are just going to aggravate this exodus.

Yes, the Bloc is concerned about employment, but as far as the solutions are concerned, we think it is also a matter of the structure and management of manpower training and also the fact that it should be more closely related to the needs of the people concerned and integrated with our educational resources.

When we have a government like the one in Quebec that is responsible for the Labour Code, for occupational health and safety legislation and for labour standards, and we have another government that is going to introduce five measures dealing with issues such as wage subsidies and income supplements, this will further complicate the system. Someone somewhere in the Department of Human Resources Development will then be able to say he is an expert on something no one else understands.

This means he can justify his job, but this is not efficient, and in North America we can no longer afford to operate this way. If we want to be competitive on international markets, decision making must be brought as close as possible to the people. That should be

the government's objective. If the federal government does not adjust and act accordingly, it will be swept away.

Supply
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Georgette Sheridan Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

Mr. Speaker, things are becoming more and more curious as I listen to my colleagues from the Bloc and the Reform Party.

I listened to Bloc members saying they agree with Reform. Then I listened to Reform members asking why government is not creating more jobs. That sounds a lot like the NDP. Then when we have the Reform and the NDP voting together against the government on issues like gun control, voting against the veto power, perhaps there is a reason for the hon. member's confusion.

Speaking of confusion, I would like to touch again on a point of confusion my friend from the Bloc seems to have. He seems to be suffering from the same affliction as the member for Yorkton-Melville in that he thinks the government was elected on jobs, jobs, jobs. Again, there is probably confusion there given the close relationship between the former government, which did promise that, and the Bloc Quebecois whose members tend to be a lot of recycled Tories.

I am wondering about the comment the member from the Bloc made with regard to what should have happened. This is not a world of should have but a world of what has happened. The people of Quebec rejected what was put to them by the members of the Bloc Quebecois.

The member has made a strong statement that there is not going to be any agreement. I regret that because it seems the package put forward by the Minister of Human Resources Development goes a long way in allowing the federal government and the provincial government to work together to achieve exactly what we have been hearing from the member from the Bloc all year long. I encourage him and his party to co-operate with the government rather than destroy the country.

Supply
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, when the government member is surprised that the opposition parties have similar views on certain things, this is perhaps the time to twig to the fact that, when you make campaign commitments, the decent thing to do is to honour them.

When you say you are going to create jobs, you are supposed to have corresponding policies. When you defeat a government like the former Conservative one by saying that its policies were unacceptable, you have to meet the commitments you made subsequently. The idea is not to win elections, but to carry out mandates you have been given. This is the goal and what must be achieved.

There is a lesson for the government in this. For two years the Liberal government said there was no problem in Quebec. It told Canadians that there was no problem in Quebec, that, if it did its job right, there would be no more Quebec problem. But then they found themselves with 49.4 per cent of the people of Quebec saying yes to sovereignty. The Prime Minister is the intermediary between Canadians and Quebecers. Canadians realized that he had lost touch with reality and should perhaps be removed so people could talk directly.

I think it important that the message be understood. Our objective should be effective government. On this point a number of parties could agree, why not have the same idea? Federalists should basically promote very broad decentralization if they really want this country to continue to function.

In any case, throughout the world today, the solution lies in small groups, which have the tools to develop and do so successfully, controlling the course they want to take and making their own choices.

Supply
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Reform

Garry Breitkreuz Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. A Liberal member misrepresented the position and the statement I was making. I made it absolutely clear that I was not expecting-

Supply
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member is not making a point of order, he is getting into argument. He will have an opportunity in debate to deal with what has been said.

Supply
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, I understand Liberal members have been splitting their time and I have been asked not to split my time. I will be using the full 20 minutes, plus the 10 minutes allotted for questions and comments.

I rise today with some reluctance to speak on this motion. I hope to have an opportunity to speak on the bill and on the many good points in the legislation. However, today we are debating the Bloc opposition motion condemning the government's employment insurance legislation for maintaining overlap and duplication in labour market training. I will try to confine my comments to that motion and to the aspects of the bill which relate to that motion. However, I would like to speak about the many good things the bill will do and I hope to have the opportunity to do so in the future.

If the hon. member and her colleagues in the Bloc had taken the time to give thorough consideration to the new employment insurance legislation they would see it does not maintain overlap and duplication in labour market training. After all, the Minister of Human Resources Development tabled the legislation only last Friday. It is a comprehensive document which deserves serious consideration by all members of the House.

The people of Quebec would be better served if the Bloc spent more time trying to understand this bill.

Instead they are conjuring up fallacies about its implementation.

To address the hon. member's motion directly, I suggest she refer to page 19 of the just published employment insurance guide. I know the hon. member has not seen this document. If she had she would not be wasting the valuable time of the House with this motion.

On page 19 of the guide, under employment benefits, the last paragraph of the first column states: "The legislation also proposes a new partnership with the provinces in order to eliminate duplication and encourage governments to work together to foster employment". It says the federal government will work in partnership with the provinces to eliminate duplication. That also means eliminating overlap; they are, after all, the same thing.

I do not know how much clearer the government can make it. It has been spelled out in the EI guide. I hope that by elaborating I can assist hon. members opposite, who still seem confused, to understand exactly what this means.

The labour market training initiatives under EI are not the one size fits all programming approach taken by previous governments. The federal government will work with each province individually, including the province of Quebec, because Quebecers are Canadians and are entitled to the same considerations under this legislation as are all citizens of the country.

We will work with each provincial government to help it deliver a federal program if it desires to do so or, and this is a key point, where a province is operating a program which will equally serve EI clients we will support that program. I do not know how much clearer I can make it for the members of the Bloc.

If the provincial government of Quebec agrees or if it has an employment initiative which meets the employment benefits criteria of this legislation, we are fully prepared to work with the Government of Quebec to use that initiative to help unemployed Quebecers get back to work as quickly as possible. The same thing applies in every province and territory of the country.

My colleague has already mentioned, but it bears repeating, that the good news is the Government of Quebec has passed a resolution that says it is willing to discuss labour market training with the federal government. Like my hon. colleague, I can assure members opposite the federal government welcomes this opportunity to work in partnership with the Quebec government for the benefit of Quebecers. The same philosophy will apply when the government is dealing with other provinces.

Atlantic Canadians are very concerned about the impact EI will have on their lives. We understand we cannot deal with Nova Scotia the same way we deal with Saskatchewan. I should know since my grandfather and my mother are from Saskatchewan. My grandfather was an MP from Saskatchewan and spoke often of its concerns. They are not the same problems, they are not the same situations as they are in Atlantic Canada.

We are all Canadians but there are different circumstances in the labour market and they call for different approaches in different parts of the country. That is the beauty of the employment benefit measures under EI. They provide for local decision making and ensure appropriate accountability in local areas. Also, they emphasize individual responsibility and self-reliance. All of these things are much needed in this area.

Media reports on this topic keep talking about cuts to UI as if that is all there is to this legislation. There is so much more. I look at this legislation as a Robin Hood response to a program badly in need of change and modernization. We are doing everything we can to maintain the benefits for those who need them most. We are helping out. We are providing a low income supplement for low income families with dependants so they will be better off in the future than they have been in the past. They will get more employment insurance than they would under the old UI system. They will get more now under this system.

We are aiming at those. It is true we are cutting from people who make $70,000 or $80,000 a year and collect UI on top of that. People in my riding have been telling us to do that for a long time. They have been saying people who make $60,000 a year cannot keep taking out $10,000 or $20,000 on top of that in UI year after year, and after only paying in a few hundred dollars. They cannot keep drawing out when they already have high incomes. They will have to learn to spread those high incomes over the full 12 months of the year. That is only fair.

People have been complaining in Atlantic Canada about that, in my riding certainly for a long time. We are hitting those people who really should not be taking UI every year, those with really high incomes. We are preserving it for those who need it most. That is a very important point. That is why I call this a kind of Robin Hood response to this problem.

Supply
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

The Speaker

Colleague, I think I caught you before your next sentence. That is what I wanted to do so I could take you back there right after question period. It being 2 p.m., we will now proceed to Statements by Members.

National Safe Driving Week
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Stan Keyes Hamilton West, ON

Mr. Speaker, as mentioned yesterday by my colleague, the hon. member for London East, this is National Safe Driving Week.

As chairman of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Transport, I am mindful that last year over 40 per cent of automobile fatalities involved a drunk driver. That startling statistic underlies the theme of this year's National Safe Driving Week, the hidden face of impaired driving.

In addition to supporting public awareness campaigns, several provinces and territories are either currently implementing mandatory rehabilitation programs and administrative licence suspensions or plan to do so in the very near future. These measures will prohibit those charged with impaired driving from operating a motor vehicle while awaiting criminal court proceedings.

Through ongoing initiatives such as National Safe Driving Week and the strategy to reduce impaired driving I am confident we will reduce the level of drunkenness, death and injury on our roads.

Air Transportation
Statements By Members

December 5th, 1995 / 1:55 p.m.

Bloc

Maurice Dumas Argenteuil—Papineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, on October 30, the second largest Canadian carrier stopped flying from Montreal to overseas destinations. Canadian International has decided to concentrate its international operations in Toronto, thus depriving Montreal of a direct link to Rome.

It is inconceivable that a major carrier such as Canadian International could stop providing international flights from a city as big as Montreal. This situation shows how flawed the transport minister's international route allocation policy is. In fact, Air Canada offered to provide regular flights between Rome and Montreal. The minister's policy, however, prohibits designating a second carrier for this market.

Through his policy, the minister undermines Montreal's development and helps erode its traditional role as a Canadian transportation hub. The minister must stop putting Montreal at a disadvantage by changing his international route allocation policy and reviewing all routes already allocated.

Distinct Society Motion
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Beaver River, AB

Mr. Speaker, Canadians from sea to sea do not like the distinct society motion. A recent poll shows that only 37 per cent of Canadians outside Quebec support it.

Albertans rejected this notion in the Charlottetown accord. They reject any concept that promotes the inequality of citizens or provinces or gives special status to any province.

The arrogance shown by the Liberal Party during the referendum turned to panic and confusion when status quo federalism was rejected by nearly 50 per cent of Quebecers. The result is this ill-conceived motion. Surely the members opposite can see that this motion is ill-advised and it will further embitter and fracture this nation.

Why are the Liberal members from Alberta mute on this issue? Why do they not speak out on behalf of Albertans? Can they not persuade their colleagues and their leader of the miscalculation of this motion? Too much is at stake to be silent. Canadians should debate this issue fully and not get closed off in the House of Commons. No, nervous nellies in the government invoked closure and are ramming it through. They seem proud of it.

The people will speak. If they do not get a chance to speak now, they will speak later in Edmonton East at the ballot box in 1997.