House of Commons Hansard #102 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was citizenship.

Topics

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Reed Elley Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, the minister's department has said that the privacy commissioner will monitor the dismantling of its big brother database. This is an extremely important step given that the existence of such a database was kept secret from the privacy commissioner for years.

Canadians deserve to know what specific powers the privacy commissioner will be given to ensure that HRDC's newest action plan is really implemented.

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Brant
Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, first let me clarify that the database was never kept secret. In fact it was part of the InfoSource information that was provided and available to all Canadians, and the privacy commissioner made a reference in that regard.

Let us also look at what he said, however, and I want to quote again:

I want to take particular note of the spirit in which our discussions have taken place and the clear demonstration of your determination to improve the supervision and management of your information systems in ways that strengthen the privacy rights of Canadians. I have no doubt that the public will welcome these measures.

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Reed Elley Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, nobody knew about it. In her news release the HRDC minister said that there would be a new structure for future social and labour market research. It will be modelled on the practices used at Statistics Canada and be based on input by officials from that department.

With its abysmal track record on data gathering, why does HRDC not simply get out of the market policy research business and leave it to the experts at Statistics Canada?

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Brant
Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is wrong again. I point to the words of the privacy commissioner who said that the database as it existed matched the laws of the land and that there had been no breaches of information.

In looking to the future we agreed with the privacy commissioner that the prudent thing to do would be to dismantle this file and implement a new regime that would allow us access to information in an appropriate fashion while respecting the paramountcy of the privacy of Canadians and their information.

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Bellehumeur Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Human Resources Development recently said in this House that the RCMP and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service do not have direct access to her department's megafile.

Could the minister tell us whether or not the RCMP and CSIS have had access, directly or indirectly, to Human Resources Development Canada's megafile?

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Brant
Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, we have had no requests from the RCMP or CSIS for access to this file. As I mentioned before, and the hon. member is right, they have had no direct access to this file.

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Bellehumeur Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, will the minister recognize that today's show looks more and more like what could be called a cover-up operation?

If it is not known, the principle of no evil seen, no evil done applies, and there is no problem. But as soon as it becomes public, the government opposite does its utmost to cover up its inaction and its management of the megafile.

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Brant
Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, again I point to the fact that the file as managed to date has been managed appropriately, that the privacy commissioner commended the department for ensuring that there were no breaches of information.

As is the interest of the privacy commissioner, we are looking to the future. We recognize the changing and rapid changes in technology. We appreciate the concerns that Canadians have about information and the chances that others have to receive it.

From our point of view what we want to ensure is that we take the prudent road. That is why we have dismantled this program. That is why we have returned the files to the Canadian customs agency. That is why we will be—

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Medicine Hat.

Canada Customs And Revenue Agency
Oral Question Period

May 29th, 2000 / 2:30 p.m.

Reform

Monte Solberg Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, guess who is coming to dinner? It is the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency.

The CCRA wanted airlines to collect private information on their customers like their incomes and their travel agents. It even wanted to know what people were having for dinner. Thank goodness the privacy commissioner told the agency that it was out to lunch.

How can the customs and revenue department justify proposing a plan that is such an obvious invasion of privacy?

Canada Customs And Revenue Agency
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Outremont
Québec

Liberal

Martin Cauchon Minister of National Revenue and Secretary of State (Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec)

Mr. Speaker, again the hon. member is wrong and I guess that the assertion in his question is part of his dream.

I thank the member for his question because I am pleased to report that the government has decided to move ahead with a huge modernization plan for Canada customs over the next five years.

We will invest something like $100 million in order to make sure that our community will be safer and to facilitate travel for business across the border and in other countries. This will make it easier within the global marketplace. I am pleased to report that at the end of the process we will have a much better risk assessment and increased security for all Canadians.

Canada Customs And Revenue Agency
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Reform

Monte Solberg Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am wondering why that does not give me any comfort at all. There is something inherently offensive about a government that wants to know what we had for dinner last night. That is what the government is up to.

It is simple common sense that sort of information should remain private. Why does it take an intervention from the privacy commissioner to shut down the government's attempt to spy on its own citizens?

Canada Customs And Revenue Agency
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Outremont
Québec

Liberal

Martin Cauchon Minister of National Revenue and Secretary of State (Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec)

Mr. Speaker, basically the information with which we will be provided by the airline company is information that we are asking of the people when they show up at the border.

In conclusion, if the hon. member would have dinner more often with the Minister of National Revenue he would know that actually his question is premature.

Preventative Withdrawal
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Caroline St-Hilaire Longueuil, QC

Mr. Speaker, the unions consulted, certain senior officials of Health Canada and Human Resources Development Canada, and academics from Quebec and Canadian universities have signed a document calling upon all governments in Canada to follow Quebec's example and allow preventative withdrawal from work, with pay, for pregnant women.

Can the Minister of Labour explain to us why she is refusing to make such a provision part of her Bill C-12, thus going against a consensus that has come from a vast number of Quebecers and Canadians?

Preventative Withdrawal
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Moncton
New Brunswick

Liberal

Claudette Bradshaw Minister of Labour

Mr. Speaker, this is available to pregnant and nursing women under section 132 of the Canada Labour Code Part II. It was negotiated for seven years with employees and employers. The Bloc Quebecois amendment concerning the definition of hazard is addressed by part III of the labour code, and this will be discussed by employees and employers.