House of Commons Hansard #211 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was health.

Topics

Poverty
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Bloc

Lucien Bouchard Lac-Saint-Jean, QC

Since the unemployment rate in Quebec still varies very little, between 11.5 per cent and 12.5 per cent, and the employment rate has not moved for five months, and considering that 50,000 more people in Quebec are living on welfare and thousands of unemployed workers have now been excluded from unemployment insurance, does the leader of the government, does the Prime Minister realize that his government's record on unemployment during the first 18 months has been dismal?

Poverty
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, since October 1993, 173,000 new jobs were created for women in Quebec, and the unemployment rate for women in Quebec has gone down from 12.1 per cent to 10.8 per cent. That is a substantial improvement.

I must say I am delighted to see the opposition take an interest in the real problems of this country, instead of talking about separation, cunning decisions, and sharp shifts and mirages. We want to work with everyone, with the governments of the provinces, including the Government of Quebec, to improve the social and economic situation of this country. The best way would be to stop talking about the constitution and separation and talk about employment every day, the way we are doing today.

Unemployment Insurance
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, allow me to remind the Prime Minister that, over the past nine years, the Canada that produced so many unemployed and welfare recipients was managed by federalists, as was the province of Quebec. This is the result of their policies. They should not try to muddle the issue: this is their legacy, and Quebecers are increasingly aware of that.

Currently, more than half of Canada's unemployed are not even eligible to UI benefits any more. No question about it: this is the result of this government's actions. This situation shows how the government targeted the unemployed, rather than unemployment.

Last year alone, the UI fund generated a $4 billion surplus, yet the government still intends to cut another $700 million. Given that surplus, and the fact that over half of the unemployed are no longer eligible to the UI program, will the government agree to not go ahead with this unacceptable cut of $700 million?

Unemployment Insurance
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we have to take into account the fact that, before us, there was another government, in which the Leader of the Opposition was a very prominent minister. That government left us with a $6 billion deficit in the UI fund, and we have to pay it off.

Indeed, if the Conservative Party, which included a very prominent minister and lieutenant for Quebec, generated such a deficit in the UI fund, we, as a responsible government, must pay that deficit, as we are doing, and re-establish a UI fund which will truly serve in difficult situations. That would be an easy thing to do now if the Conservatives, including the Leader of the Opposition, had not been in office for so long.

Unemployment Insurance
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, when there is a reference to the plight of poor people, it is the separatists' fault, and when there is a reference to the government's UI cuts over a three year period, it is the Conservatives' fault. Enough is enough.

Will the Prime Minister agree to stop being irresponsible, as he has been since the beginning, and will he recognize, as does the Quebec minister for income security, that 43 per cent, a percentage which reflects a tragic situation, of the new households joining the welfare rolls in Quebec have been excluded from the UI program because of the cuts made by this government? Will the Prime Minister finally admit that?

Unemployment Insurance
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I explained a minute ago that we are working on it. Since we formed the government the economy has created more than 430,000 new jobs in Canada. We would like to see the situation improve more. The problem was put in our lap when we came here; 11.5 per cent were not working and were on unemployment insurance. At the moment we are trying to solve it.

I am delighted to see the Bloc Quebecois talking about jobs today. At long last it is not talking about separation, the tournage and the virage and tricky questions. It is talking about real problems. I am delighted to see the leader of the Bloc Quebecois is today having another virage; he is getting preoccupied with job creation. I am happy today.

Government Appointments
Oral Question Period

June 5th, 1995 / 2:25 p.m.

Reform

Jim Abbott Kootenay East, BC

Mr. Speaker, both the justice minister and the revenue minister continue to trot out words like competence and merit with respect to the government's latest patronage appointments in the B.C. justice system.

There is no possible justification for turning aside a firm with 20 years experience in narcotics prosecution in favour of inexperienced political friends.

Can the justice minister explain to the House specifically how the new firms in the revenue minister's Victoria riding have more competence and merit than the firm the government terminated?

Government Appointments
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I note with satisfaction nothing in the hon. member's question suggests the new agent is not competent. The new agent is competent.

The premise of the hon. member's question is the appointments were somehow motivated by patronage. Of the new agents supported by the government, 38 per cent had acted as agents under the previous government. In British Columbia of the 38 agents whose mandate has been confirmed, 47 per cent had acted as agents for the previous government. We appoint agents on the basis of competence.

Government Appointments
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Reform

Jim Abbott Kootenay East, BC

Mr. Speaker, that is really interesting. According to the news reports we are getting there is serious concern on the part of law enforcement people. One report from Victoria says a judge last week examined a charge and

commented he hoped the new drug prosecutor learned how to spell marijuana correctly.

Was the justice minister made aware of the very close political ties between the revenue minister and the Victoria law firms before the appointments were made?

Government Appointments
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, if we were to determine who was to continue as an agent for the government based on the stripe of the party that appointed them, it seems to me that 20 years ago the government in office was a Liberal government. Surely the premise of the hon. member's question is faulty.

As we find agents to represent the federal interest in court we look for people competent for the task. That is the approach we have taken in British Columbia and across the country.

Government Appointments
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Reform

Jim Abbott Kootenay East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am speaking specifically about the situation in Victoria and the three firms there with absolute ties to the revenue minister.

Will the minister now do the right thing and rescind these obvious patronage, political appointments and award the contracts on the basis of merit alone?

Government Appointments
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, these agents were appointed because they are competent to do the work they have been asked to do.

The hon. member should also observe as he looks at the government's record of appointing legal agents the changes we have made with respect to training new agents, the clarity in the terms and conditions governing their appointment, and that we are addressing the issue of conflicts which has never before been regulated by government. We are ensuring the people who represent the government in court abide by those standards in respect of not only competence but also conflict of interest. That is a stride forward.

Manpower Training
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Human Resources Development.

One of the nine demands made by the Quebec women who marched against poverty was the creation of an accessible manpower training network. As all stakeholders in the labour market in Quebec know, Quebec's labour sector has unanimously demanded exclusive control over job training for the past six years.

Does the minister realize that this extraordinary march against poverty organized by Quebec women clearly and dramatically demonstrates the effects of the federal government's repeated refusal to give Quebec exclusive power over manpower training?

Manpower Training
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Winnipeg South Centre
Manitoba

Liberal

Lloyd Axworthy Minister of Human Resources Development and Minister of Western Economic Diversification

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member draws a somewhat curious conclusion. The fact is that in the past year alone, over 50,000 women in the province of Quebec have benefited directly from federal employment training programs. It is the largest training program being offered to women throughout the country. We are making a very serious effort to respond to the real needs of women not just in Quebec but across Canada.

In this effort it would be much more important if we could find the ways to work together. I am sure the women who were in the march this weekend would want governments to work together to co-operate and collaborate, not to work in terms of setting up separate jurisdictions, separate kinds of identity but to co-operate. That really is the spirit by which we can conquer poverty in this country.

Manpower Training
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, I repeat, Quebec has unanimously demanded power over manpower training. And women, some of them single parents, some of them stuck in low paying jobs, some of them re-entering the workforce after having raised their families, made the statement yesterday that they need a co-ordinated job training policy and they are asking Quebec to provide it.

Will the minister acknowledge that until Quebec receives exclusive power over manpower training, women will continue to be cruelly disadvantaged?