House of Commons Hansard #132 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was social.

Topics

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Monte Solberg Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, the government should get its story straight on the economy. A month ago we had the finance minister saying do not worry, it is okay, he has a steady hand on the tiller. Now it is every man for himself and we have the sorry spectacle of the finance minister pushing women and children out of the way as he runs to the EI lifeboat.

Instead of threatening Canadians, why does he not just obey the law and return the EI funds to workers and employers?

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Stoney Creek
Ontario

Liberal

Tony Valeri Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the government obeys the law. As we said earlier, we are in the middle of a debate. Part of that debate is hearing from Canadians and talking about Canadian priorities.

Certainly Canadians want to see reinvestment in health care. They want to see personal income tax reduction. Canadians may want to see continued cuts to EI. We have cut $7 billion from EI over the years. No one is saying we will not continue to cut EI. We are engaged in a debate and I welcome the hon. member's intervention in that debate.

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Monte Solberg Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, the only debate going on is in the member's head. This is absolutely incredible. The finance minister is supposed to be a sound money manager, Mr. Fiscal Prudence, but now in order to balance the budget, he has to rely on raiding the EI fund.

How did the minister manage to bungle the economy so badly that he has to rely on workers and employers to bail him out? How did that happen?

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Stoney Creek
Ontario

Liberal

Tony Valeri Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member talks about bungling the economy. Getting rid of a $42 billion deficit; leading the G-7 in job creation over the next couple of years; continuing to keep inflation in check; interest rates at the lowest level in 20 years. If that is what he calls bungling the economy, let's go Canada into the next century.

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Rosemont, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Human Resources Development recognizes the problem of the drop in participation in the employment insurance plan, but he continues to refuse to acknowledge that his government is responsible for excluding most of the unemployed youth from it.

When is the minister going to re-establish eligibility criteria that will enable young people to once again receive benefits?

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis
Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I am always saddened when I see a young member of the Bloc Quebecois rise to ask about unemployment for young people, when this government is trying to give them work and a better entry into the labour market.

As regards participation in our employment insurance system, we have to realize, and Statistics Canada's preliminary data indicate this, that those not covered by employment insurance are perhaps those who—

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The member for Rosemont.

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Rosemont, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am always surprised to see a baby boomer of his age trying to get the young people in Quebec to pay. And they will get their own back.

How does he explain the fact that, since his government's reform, barely one young unemployed person in four is entitled to benefits? If this is not exclusion, what is it?

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis
Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I can assure you of one thing and that is that young people from Quebec like those from the rest of the country are benefiting from the Youth Employment Strategy, which is vital to helping them into the labour market, to fight this barrier—transition from school to the labour market.

We have adopted general policies as well to enable young people to remain in school longer. The best guarantee of a job in the future is to remain in school as long as possible.

This government wants a future for young people, not unemployment and passive assistance, which is what the members of the Bloc Quebecois wants for them.

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Reform

Diane Ablonczy Calgary—Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, this government talks about a debate. Let us talk about using insurance premiums for other government programs and the overcharging of workers and employers.

Is part of the debate going to be whether the government is going to change the name from insurance to just another tax?

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Stoney Creek
Ontario

Liberal

Tony Valeri Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the EI debate is more than just about premiums, as the hon. member wants to keep talking about. It is about making choices.

I will use the hon. member's terms. In terms of payroll taxes, our country's are one of the lowest of the OECD nations. We will continue to ensure that this country has the right fundamentals in place to continue to grow. Canadians want to see sound, stable investments and continued success. We are prepared to deliver that on behalf of Canadians.

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Reform

Diane Ablonczy Calgary—Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am glad the member talked about choices because in the province of Ontario, workers and employers are paying $4.5 billion more in premiums for unemployment insurance than they are getting back in unemployment benefits. This is a province that is represented by Liberal members of parliament.

What choice do the citizens of Ontario have in getting back their $4.5 billion overpayment in UI premiums?

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Windsor West
Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray Deputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member should also point out the hundreds of thousands of jobs created in the province of Ontario because of Liberal policies.

If the member wants to focus on something, let her focus on the word employment in the EI program. Let her focus on our priorities for job creation in Ontario and all over Canada. Then she will understand what we are trying to do and what we have been doing.

Apec Summit
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Bellehumeur Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the acting Prime Minister.

The documents on the Peppergate affair handed over to the commission by the offices of the Prime Minister and the Minister of Foreign Affairs are apparently incomplete and censured. In the opinion of the Deputy Prime Minister, does not providing the documents requested do anything to improve the image of the Prime Minister's transparency?

Is the government pulling another Somalia on us here?

Apec Summit
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Fredericton
New Brunswick

Liberal

Andy Scott Solicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, it is quite the contrary. There has been a lot of compliance with these requests for information. Large volumes of information have been made available. More information continues to come forward. There has been no allegation from anybody at the public complaints commission that they are not getting exactly what they are asking for.