House of Commons Hansard #93 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was quebec.

Topics

Division No. 1287
Private Members' Business

6:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Division No. 1287
Private Members' Business

6:55 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And more than five members having risen:

(The House divided on the amendment, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Division No. 1288
Private Members' Business

May 9th, 2000 / 7 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

I declare the amendment carried.

The next question is on the main motion, as amended. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Division No. 1288
Private Members' Business

7 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Division No. 1288
Private Members' Business

7 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

I declare the motion, as amended, carried.

(Motion, as amended, agreed to)

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

Division No. 1288
Adjournment Proceedings

7:05 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, on February 28, I asked the Minister of Human Resources Development the following question in the House:

Mr. Speaker, the Ottawa Citizen announced today that, according to the government, learning is an “individual responsibility”.

On the heels of student debt and the enrichment of the banks with liberal cuts to education, we have the Liberal government wanting to divest itself of its responsibilities for training.

Will the Minister of Human Resources Development reaffirm the federal government's commitment to training?

The issue has become a real problem throughout the country. We can see the gap, once more, between the rich and the poor. And I must accuse the liberal government of creating this gap in the Canadian society.

Today, our young people need a college or university education, with all the expenses involved and the borrowing they have to do, because the government has completely divested itself of its responsibility to provide students with financial support. Consequently they get into debt. The rich, however, do not have that problem, because they have money and can afford to pay for their children's education.

Until recently, the government used to help the less fortunate young people make their way through college and university. It is now turning it back on them and forcing them to get into debt. It does not even help them repay their school debt. The government could exempt them from paying interest. But no, it asks the banks, the credit unions and other financial institutions de deal with that, and they are the ones collecting the interests, while we are forcing young Canadians into debt.

Sometimes, I am scared when I hear the Minister of Finance say that he wants to balance his budget, eliminate the deficit and pay off the debt. In fact, he is doing that on the backs of students. He says he does not want future generations to have to shoulder the debt. Instead, he is putting it on their shoulders now, that is a big problem.

In my riding, for instance, some young students graduate from university with a debt load of $50,000. They come to my office and tell me: “I cannot find a partner and get married. If I do, I will be $100,000 in debt”. This is what the government has done to the youth of our country. It is driving them into debt and continues to do so. The poor are falling on hard luck.

In years to come, our country will be divided between the rich and the poor. The poor will not receive the education they need.

I am sure we can all agree that today education is of paramount importance.

Only 25 years ago, I would not say young people did not have to go to school or university, but if they did not, manual labour was still plenty. They could work in a mine, in the fishing industry or in construction. Young workers did not need a degree as is the case today.

Nowadays, they virtually cannot enter the labour market without a grade 12 education, a college or university degree. These young people are caught between a hard place and a rock. They have to borrow money and the federal government does not give them any support.

I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources Development to tell us what are the plans of the government to help young Canadians and to ensure they do not go deeper into debt year after year as they are doing today.

Division No. 1288
Adjournment Proceedings

7:10 p.m.

Oakville
Ontario

Liberal

Bonnie Brown Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I reassure the member for Acadie—Bathurst that the government is very committed to both post-secondary education and training as the best methods to ensure that our young people are equipped to participate in the modern world.

Under post-secondary education the millennium scholarship fund is particularly focused on those who are unable to pay. The Canada student loans program is also offered by the government. There are large transfers to the provinces for post-secondary education which they pass on to universities and community colleges. In addition, in the last budget we strengthened the post-secondary system to a system of special chairs which are funded at the universities and our centres of excellence program.

We are acting to ensure that all Canadians have the skills, knowledge and experience needed to succeed, but there is more than one way to get things done. One of the best ways we have found is by working in collaboration with our provincial partners to ensure that labour market programs best meet local needs. That is why we have transferred responsibility for labour market development programs to the provinces and territories. At the same time we modernize those programs.

Under the new employment insurance system we now invest $2.1 billion a year in active measures, tools with proven track records of getting people back to work. One of those tools is the skills development benefit which enables unemployed individuals to select, arrange for and pay for their own training.

The government is fulfilling its responsibility to help individuals obtain the training they need, and we are doing it with the help of our provincial and territorial partners.

Division No. 1288
Adjournment Proceedings

7:10 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, on February 24, I asked a question about a company from the riding of Rosemont which had moved to the riding of Saint-Maurice. At that time, we were told that there were no problem with that. But afterwards, there were a government inquiry on the issue.

The horror story at Human Resources Development Canada continues. Instead of having the independent public inquiry that we, in the Bloc, have been requesting since the beginning and that the opposition has unanimously demanded, we are forced to raise all the unacceptable cases one by one.

On February 24, we talked about the company from the riding of my colleague from Rosemont. Today, I bring to your attention the case of another company, Conili Star, which is in the textile sector. It received a $700,000 grant not to create jobs, but to transfer employees to a new employer. Employees from a company were transferred to another company at a cost of $700,000 for the taxpayers.

I would like the parliamentary secretary to tell us when will the federal government finally recognize in front of the population that the situation made public by the internal audit cannot be corrected by the six point plan of the minister, but that she will have to go much deeper to turn things around?

We must get to the bottom of this to see if the scandal at the Department of Human Resources Development is simply due to administrative problems, to administrative laxness, to basic management errors made by people who have held the position of deputy minister, which means that they were responsible for this department, or if there may have been, on top of that, situations where public funds were used for partisan purposes, as we can see in the example of Conili where, strangely enough, the same business that received a $700,000 grant contributed $7,000 to the Liberal Party election fund.

We are faced with a situation where, as opposition party, we will continue to expose these cases day after day. We would expect a more responsible attitude on the part of the federal government, particularly on the part of the minister responsible and the parliamentary secretary representing her.

When will we see the kind of attitude that will allow us to shed some light on this whole situation so we can restore the credibility of job creation programs? The current attitude of the government seriously undermines the credibility of those programs and brings people like members of the Canadian Alliance to claim, based on the government's poor management record, that these programs are useless.

When will the government take responsibility and when will it make all the available information public and order an independent public inquiry so we can tell the difference between the programs themselves and the unacceptable way the federal government has been managing them?

Division No. 1288
Adjournment Proceedings

7:15 p.m.

Oakville
Ontario

Liberal

Bonnie Brown Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, HRDC is committed to ensuring that proper administrative practices are applied and that this information is transparent and available.

With regard to the particular file mentioned by the hon. member opposite, he will know that we have looked at this file as we said we would. As a result of this review we engaged Kroll, Linquist, Avey of Toronto to conduct a forensic audit on this particular project. The firm's report was received and based on its recommendations it was referred to the RCMP the very same day. The project is now part of an ongoing police investigation and we will await the results before making any further comments.

The hon. member opposite has also claimed that his party is doing a case by case review thereby leaving the wrong impression with Canadians that it is the Bloc Quebecois that is doing this review. The department itself as part of its six point plan is reviewing every single file.

If there is any evidence of questionable practices, the next step is to call in an auditing firm to do a forensic audit as I have just described. That is the process. If we find any behaviour that could be considered inappropriate, any worry about the money, we call for a forensic audit. If we can establish an overpayment, we will get the money back, as has been the case. In quite a few of the files we have retrieved the money.

Canadians should know that the Department of Human Resources Development is indeed conducting a case by case review of all its files. In some cases it will result in a repayment of funds and in other cases, in very serious cases, they will be referred to the police.

Division No. 1288
Adjournment Proceedings

7:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 2 p.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 7.17 p.m.)