House of Commons Hansard #113 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was firefighters.

Topics

Violence Against Women
Statements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Sheila Finestone Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, we all recall that 14 young and talented women's lives were snuffed out, gunned down at École Polytechnique in Montreal seven years ago. This Friday we observe the anniversary of the tragedy of their deaths on December 6, 1989 as Canada's national day of remembrance and action on violence against women.

This reminds us of how important it is to work together and respect each other as equals, with the goal of building an inclusive society where there is zero tolerance for violence against women.

The world has finally lifted the curtain surrounding violence against women, and in this regard Canada has played a leading role nationally and internationally.

Let us not forget the pain and the incredible loss of this senseless massacre. I call on all Canadians to mobilize together for action against violence.

Status Of Women
Statements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Mary Clancy Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to address comments made by the hon. member for Port Moody-Coquitlam and her attack on Status of Women Canada.

The member said that Canadians do not want more spending on what she called status of women's extreme agenda. This extreme agenda includes: working hard to stop violence against women; working hard on women's health issues, especially breast cancer; working hard to recognize the value of women's work in the home and outside, in the fields of engineering, space technology, medicine, law, and even politics.

Status of women and this government make a difference. This difference was recognized by the UN conference in Beijing when Canada won the international award for the country that has done the most for the status of women.

I am proud of Status of Women Canada, but I am ashamed of the member for Port Moody-Coquitlam.

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

December 4th, 1996 / 2:20 p.m.

Roberval
Québec

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, perhaps our colleagues sense that a storm is brewing. Let us hope so, as it is not long until the holiday season. If there is one person who is stirring up a storm at this moment, it is the Minister

of Human Resources Development. Yesterday, in fact, this minister told my colleague from Mercier that the transition period in the new employment insurance program had started in January. He said:

It is time the hon. member for Mercier realized that the reason why some provisions of the act were implemented on July 1 while others will take effect January 1 is precisely to give people time to adjust to the reform.

Now, there is a little problem; it would be hard to have something in application since January 1, when the act was passed in June. The minister has a problem. In the spirit of fair play, however, I will give him the chance to correct himself today. Yesterday he told us that there would be changes to the regulations, which he described as minor, in order to effect the transition between the old and the new systems.

Can the Minister of Human Resources Development confirm that these minor changes to which he referred include a hypothesis that, effective January 5 and for the application of the new system, weeks worked prior to December 1996 are all deemed to have been 35 hours in length for the purposes of eligibility for the new system? Can the minister tells us whether or not this measure exists?

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Michel
Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, what I said yesterday on the employment insurance reform is that, for several months, our government has been working very hard to inform Canadians so that they may adjust to the new system.

We have run a national advertising campaign for Canadians since this past July 1. We have set up a 1-800 line so that Canadians can get information on the conditions of this employment insurance reform. We have printed a leaflet announcing passage of the legislation, which was mailed out to all recipients in July. We have, therefore, fully done our duty in informing people about the new system to start this coming January.

What we want is for Canadians who work part time to be covered, starting January 1, from the first hour worked, because we see this as a reform of considerable interest to a great number of Canadians.

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Roberval
Québec

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, we have a big problem here in the House, and the minister has a really big one. The minister tells us that the government is doing its best to inform Canadians. Could the minister start by informing the House, since he is being asked questions.

I will ask him very, very precisely what we want to know. I cannot speak to him directly. I will do it through yourself, Mr. Speaker; however, I would like him to listen in order to understand the question. Can the minister tell us whether he is, or is not, in the process at this time of examining the hypothesis of a transition which would consider all hours worked during 1996 as 35-hour weeks? Is he, or is he not? That is the only thing we want to know.

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Michel
Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, it is not my habit to comment on each and every hypothesis which could have been presented to me on what the Leader of the Opposition tells us.

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Roberval
Québec

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, what we are talking about is a system which represents the bread and butter of a good many Canadian families starting in January.

Huge numbers of people are in danger of being excluded from the system by the transition rules, which would appear to require 35-hour weeks. Huge numbers of people will no longer have access to the employment insurance plan. They would qualify under the old system, they would qualify under the new one, but they would not qualify under the transition rules.

First, is the minister aware of this and, second, will he take this into account when making a decision?

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Michel
Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, would the opposition be opposed to a system which, in Quebec alone, will enable 73 per cent of employment insurance contributors working for under 35 hours a week at the present time to be eligible? Is he aware that 127,000 Quebec part time workers will, in future, be covered for the first time? Does the opposition not accept a system which will enable 500,000 more Canadians to be covered by the employment insurance system, including 270,000 women? That is what the new system starting up January 1 will be like.

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Mercier, QC

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

Either the minister does not understand, although there are enough officials in his department to explain the matter to him, or he does not want to understand, which is unfortunate for the Canadians and Quebecers who depend on his judgment. I will try two simple questions.

Does the minister realize that if there are no transitional measures to transform weeks under the old system into hours under the new system, in other words, one week of work equals 35 hours, a young person who worked 26 20-hour weeks in 1996 will not be entitled to employment insurance on January 5, if he loses his job? Does the minister realize that without transitional measures, this young person will go on welfare?

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Michel
Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I am glad to see the opposition in fine fettle, despite its lack of programs, especially constructive programs. We will try to do better than the opposition, which is

simply there to obstruct but has nothing to do, obviously, because it will never have to run this country.

What Quebecers want and what all Canadians want is an employment insurance system. A-

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

The Speaker

Order, please. The hon. Minister of Human Resources Development.

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew Papineau—Saint-Michel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to finish explaining to the opposition that we have five active employment insurance measures aimed at helping people adjust to the new labour market. The transitional measure happens to be one of these five active measures.

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, on January 5, a pregnant woman goes on maternity leave and reports to a human resources centre after having worked 30 20-hour weeks. According to the legislation in effect in 1996, she qualifies for special so-called pregnancy benefits. Without transitional measures, on January 5, this woman will not be entitled to her pregnancy benefits. The minister can hardly say this is unimportant, that these are minor measures. This is important to the life of the average person. Does the minister realize that?

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Michel
Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, what I realize, first of all, is that a woman in Sydney, Nova Scotia who works 14 hours a week in a department store does not have insurable employment at the present time. Under the new employment insurance system, she will be entitled to benefits after 30 weeks.

A father in East Montreal who has three jobs, each of which takes up 14 hours a week, adding up to 42 hours, does not have insurable employment at the present time.

This system wants to encourage people to work and will insure them starting with the first hour worked.