House of Commons Hansard #15 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

Junior Women's Worldcurling Championship
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Reform

Charlie Penson Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, on Saturday, March 16 thousands of Canadians watched the junior women's world curling final in Red Deer, Alberta. In an exciting extra end victory, Heather Godberson's rink from Grande Prairie, Alberta became world champions.

The people of my riding of Peace River are proud that their hometown team gave Canada its third junior women's gold medal in a row.

I ask that all members of the House to join me in offering hearty congratulations to Heather Godberson, Carmen Whyte, Kristie Moore, Terelyn Bloor, Rona McGregor and their coach, Brian Moore.

Well done, Canada!

Youth
Statements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Nick Discepola Vaudreuil, QC

Mr. Speaker, not a day goes by without an expert, some analysts or even scientific reports reminding us of the urgency to support our youth.

Our government is well aware that young Canadians, probably more than any other segment of our society, are worried about their future.

In response to the very deep concerns of our youth, our government has announced that it would spend an additional $165 million over three years to help young Canadians and their families to pay for their education.

Also, during the next three years, we will inject another $315 million to provide new job opportunities for our young people. These few measures go to prove our commitment to support young Canadians, who will some day take our place in society.

Unemployment Insurance Reform
Oral Question Period

March 18th, 1996 / 2:15 p.m.

Roberval
Québec

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Human Resources Development's unem-

ployment insurance reform continues to stir up anger among workers nearly everywhere, particularly in regions where there is the most seasonal work.

The Minister's reform, by cutting benefits back $2 billion dollars more each year for the next three, will keep very many people without jobs from collecting benefits under the plan.

Will the Minister of Human Resources Development confirm the figures given in this morning's Globe and Mail , namely that last January no more than 46 per cent of Canada's jobless were collecting benefits, whereas the figure for 1990 was over 87 per cent?

Unemployment Insurance Reform
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Acadie—Bathurst
New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition's question based on a newspaper article does not reflect in the least what is going on at the present time.

We are still working with the employment insurance program in place. Before making a detailed report of what will happen once the amendments we are going to make to the act are implemented, I believe we have to wait for the work of the parliamentary committee to be over.

Already, certain fairly considerable changes are taking shape. Within a few weeks, I hope the work of the committee will enable us to provide exact figures on the impact of all of the changes to be made to bill C-12.

Unemployment Insurance Reform
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Roberval
Québec

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, does the Minister agree with the figures advanced by the Canadian Labour Congress, which claims that the government's cuts to the unemployment insurance plan may mean only 35 per cent of those without jobs will collect benefits when the new plan comes into effect, if more than substantial changes are not made?

Unemployment Insurance Reform
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Acadie—Bathurst
New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, as I indicated to the hon. Leader of the Opposition, the need to assess the impact of all of the changes to the employment insurance legislation is absolutely essential. That is why we have undertaken to make sure, as the parliamentary committee continues its work on this matter, that we will be able to deal with an analysis that will demonstrate clearly what the benefits are and where the savings will come from.

I want to assure the hon. Leader of the Opposition that in all cases, attempts will be made to ensure that the changes are equitable and fair to everyone who has to have access to the employment insurance system.

Unemployment Insurance Reform
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Roberval
Québec

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, in the eyes of the Minister of Human Resources Development, justice means making cuts that are equal for everyone.

A Canadian Press report tells us that the government has launched a $2 million publicity campaign aimed at counteracting the protests against unemployment insurance reform, in the hope of triggering a debate between western Canadians, many of whom feel that the unemployment insurance scheme is too generous, and eastern Canadians, for whom unemployment insurance is a socio-economic necessity.

Are we to understand that the Minister's new strategy for winning out over the unemployed is to divide and conquer or, in other words, to provoke confrontations between west and east in order to get his reform and his cuts across?

Unemployment Insurance Reform
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Acadie—Bathurst
New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young Minister of Human Resources Development

No, Mr. Speaker. Moreover, it is my belief that it is very important to ensure that the changes to be made to the employment insurance system in this country avoid any possibility of east-west conflict, or what is more important, conflict between the have and the have nots in terms of employment.

I hope that the proposals made by the committee members of the same political stripe as the leader of the opposition will include some that will enable us to demonstrate clearly and precisely that the proposed changes must be equitable and just for everyone in every part of this country.

This is no easy task, no doubt about it, but we hope that, with everyone's co-operation, we will manage to find appropriate solutions.

Unemployment Insurance Reform
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Human Resources Development said on Friday that there was one thing he was absolutely committed to and that was the fiscal parameters of the reform agreement. He had better not count on us for help, because that makes no sense, the plan already has a surplus. Worse yet, the deputy minister of human resources development said, on January 25, that high income earners would not have to further fund employment insurance because they were not frequent users and it was the job of frequent users, that is the low income earners, to do so.

Does the minister realize that, with his successive reforms, not only are fewer people entitled to benefits, but it is the low and middle income earners who feel the effects of them? Will he at least dissociate himself from the remarks of the deputy minister?

Unemployment Insurance Reform
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Acadie—Bathurst
New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, the reform as proposed, without amendment, shows very clearly our intention to reduce benefits available to the higher income earners. Obviously, we had to re-align the entire system. This is how we managed to ensure that low income workers have an opportunity to increase their family income by $2,500.

We found ways to ensure that hundreds of thousands of people could have access to the program for the first time, because we are changing the system so it will be based on hours of work and not weeks.

I think time will show, at the end of the exercise, that the employment insurance program is much more accessible to people who, in the past, had no access to it. Obviously, this will cost those with higher incomes a little. This is why we see people in certain parts of the country where, generally, people earn very little indeed, people who work in seasonal industries, we see union leaders out and about in these areas, because they know that the real reform is being done absolutely fairly to ensure that those with lower incomes are protected and those with higher incomes pay the price.

Unemployment Insurance Reform
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, the minister should read and understand his own legislation. By reducing maximum insurable earnings from $42,400 to $39,000, he deprived the fund of $900 million a year. And he went to get this money from the low income workers.

Is the minister aware that he is proving the government's lack of belief in the broad principles underlying the implementation of social programs: redistribution of wealth, equity and social justice?

Unemployment Insurance Reform
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Acadie—Bathurst
New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I know my colleague is a strong believer in the need to try to be fair. I really do not understand why she is saying we are not meeting the need to redistribute our limited resources.

My hon. colleague is wondering whether, by reducing the amounts available from $42,000 to $39,000, we were not doing something disastrous. However, she made no comment on the fact that, in reaching this decision, we wanted at all cost to protect those earning very little, either individually or for the family.

Canadian Armed Forces
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Reform

Jim Hart Okanagan—Similkameen—Merritt, BC

Mr. Speaker, on Friday the Minister of National Defence said he had investigated claims of high level agreements between Quebec officers and the PQ government to establish a Quebec defence staff headquarters after a yes vote. The minister added that both he and the chief of defence staff were satisfied that the allegations were unfounded. It will go down as one of the fastest investigations in history.

Canadians want some assurance that his investigation into these serious allegations was not just a few hours, as the minister said in the House on Friday. How extensive was the minister's investigation into the confessions of the Bloc member?

Canadian Armed Forces
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Don Valley East
Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette Minister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I said on Friday that chief of defence staff General Boyle had consulted with his predecessor about the allegations by the hon. member for Charlesbourg to the establishment of a joint Quebec army or alternatively two separate armies. There were no such studies conducted by the Canadian Armed Forces or by the Department of National Defence. The chief of defence staff also consulted with other senior generals and is continuing those discussions with other senior officers.

We are assured that all of the officers of Her Majesty's armed forces are loyal Canadians and execute their duties faithfully.

Canadian Armed Forces
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Reform

Jim Hart Okanagan—Similkameen—Merritt, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Bloc's defence critic has confessed, and I quote: "There were officers who were already prepared to create the nucleus of a Quebec defence staff. There are people who have confided this to me already. Absolutely, even officers".

On Friday, the minister told the House he expects the Bloc member to come forward and give us proof. Canadians were surprised to learn that the minister expects the Bloc member to voluntarily come forward with the names of these officers.

Canadians want to know why the Minister of National Defence does not exercise the due process available to him and compel the member to tell Canada what he knows and to name names.