House of Commons Hansard #119 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was tax.

Topics

Supply
Government Orders

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

Guy St-Julien Abitibi, QC

Mr. Speaker, I believe the hon. member for Sherbrooke did not understand. We have no elephants in my riding of Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik, just caribou and moose, and that is important.

There is one thing the hon. member has not understood. At present, the price of gas in Sherbrooke is 83.9 cents a liter. It is 81.9 cents in Abitibi. This evening I am addressing the truckers in Montreal, those who are at home tonight. In Montreal, Lucien Bouchard's provincial tax is 15.2 cents. How can it be that diesel is 16.2 cents, or one cent more, whereas we are collecting 10 cents everywhere on gas and 4 cents on diesel.

It is a cent more for truckers on Montreal Island, who pay more than all others. I agree, we must find solutions together.

That is how we are going to work. One day we will win out, and we will be winning for the consumer, ourselves included. I have appreciated their speeches. They have put as much effort into it as we, and sometimes the message does not get across.

The important thing, it is true, is that we work together as a family, but one day the government is going to have to get our message, and the provinces as well.

Supply
The Royal Assent

5:05 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

Order, please. I have the honour to inform the House that a communication has been received as follows:

September 21, 2000

Mr. Speaker:

I have the honour to inform you that the Honourable Charles Gonthier, Puisne Judge of the Supreme Court of Canada, in his capacity as Deputy Governor General, will proceed to the Senate chamber today, the 21st day of September, 2000 at 6.00 p.m., for the purpose of giving royal assent to a certain bill.

Yours sincerely,

The House resumed consideration of the motion and of the amendment.

Supply
Government Orders

5:05 p.m.

Reform

Rick Casson Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, today we are debating a supply motion by the official opposition. The official opposition gets to pick the topic of debate about seven to nine times a year and only some of those are votable. We take supply day motions very seriously. We put a lot of thought into them and we try to come up with something we feel would be a help to Canadians. Today we have seen something happen that concerns me a bit.

This is our day to pick a topic for debate, to pick the wording, to put it on the floor of the House for all sides to have a chance to go at it.

This morning after our first two speakers spoke, the government tried to implement an amendment but we had already made an amendment to the motion, so it could not be done. The government asked for unanimous consent. This is our day. This is our chance, one of very few. The government can pick the agenda every other day of the year, but on this day let us have ours. To try to confuse the issue by doing what it did today is not being straightforward with Canadians.

The people who have been phoning my office complaining about the price of gas and the tax on gas are farmers, people on fixed incomes, seniors, single parents and families struggling to get by. They are looking for a break from government and members of parliament and here we are going around and around over some foolish issue that is not getting to the gist of the problem.

People have been watching this debate today hoping something will come out of it to help them out at the end of the month. What have they learned? What have they seen? I do not think they appreciate very much what they have seen here today.

Our party is asking for two simple things. One is to take off a temporary tax that was put on to eliminate the deficit. Thanks to the same hardworking Canadians who phone my office asking for a tax break, that deficit has been eliminated. Why is the tax still there when there is a $12 billion surplus? Why is the tax there when the revenue from tax on gasoline this year is going to be $13 billion? We are talking about billions of dollars flowing around and we cannot give hardworking Canadians a 1.5 cent per litre tax break on a tax that when implemented was to be temporary. This I am sure does not add up in their minds.

The other thing we are asking to be done today is that the compounding tax on a tax on a tax, the GST on the tax portion of gas, be moved down so it is only put on the portion of the gas from supply and production. Do not be compounding tax. In the early days when the government tried to sell us the GST back in our other world, we said no. The government said it would not be compounded and here it is.

Those are the two things we are asking for today. I have no idea where all this other stuff came into the debate today. That is the gist of our motion. We were hoping for support from all sides of the House for Canadians who get up every day and wonder where the heck they are going to get an extra $10 a month to fill their tanks.

With regard to gasoline, we are talking about diesel fuel that truckers use to haul the supplies around the country, the supplies that feed us, clothe us and house us. Every time the price of fuel goes up, every commodity that travels on a train, in an airplane or on anything that burns fuel goes up in price. Would it not be nice if we could take the temporary tax off and give consumers a break, but here we go around and around in some wrangling way to try to confuse the issue.

I give full credit to the member for Pickering—Ajax—Uxbridge. He is a member of the House for whom I have a lot of respect. A lot of people on all sides of the House have a lot of respect for him because of the stance he is taking. He has taken on a lot of issues. This is a real good piece of work that he and his colleagues have done. After what I have seen today I am starting to question that kind of action on a simple straightforward motion such as we brought forward today.

A year ago in a minority report that we attached to the report on the safety net programs for farmers that the agriculture committee was looking at, we asked the government to lower the input cost to farmers because again there is a compounding effect. It raised the price of all the products produced. It raised the price of shipping grain, shipping the products to market, the retail aspect of it and moving them around the country. We asked if the government could do that to help lower fuel costs to help reduce farmers' cost.

Yesterday I read an article that was in the Western Producer . Statistics Canada said that in total 26,200 fewer people are working in the agricultural industry in western Canada on the prairies this fall than there were last fall. Why is that? That should be of no surprise to anybody. The farm community is hurting and it is not only the farmers. I am talking about the farm community and the industries in the cities that support the agriculture industry. For that to get shovelled by is wrong.

We have been telling the government there is a crisis in the agricultural community that it has to address. It has to lower the input cost to producers. This is just one example of what the fuel tax is doing. The government has not done that.

Some 26,200 fewer people are involved in farming this fall than last fall. That is a crime. I am a little embarrassed to say today that I was involved in the House when all this wrangling was going on, when Canadians were looking for a solution and did not get one.

Supply
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

It being 5.15 p.m. it is my duty to interrupt the proceedings and put forth forthwith every question necessary to dispose of the business of supply.

The question is on the amendment. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the amendment?

Supply
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Supply
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Supply
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

All those in favour of the amendment will please say yea.

Supply
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Supply
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

All those opposed will please say nay.

Supply
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Supply
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

In my opinion the nays have it.

And more than five members having risen:

Supply
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

Pursuant to the order made on Wednesday, September 20, the recorded division on the amendment stands deferred until Tuesday, September 26, at the expiry of the time provided for government orders.

It being 5.18 p.m. the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.

Apprenticeship National Standards Act
Private Members' Business

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

Steve Mahoney Mississauga West, ON

moved that Bill C-318, an act to require the establishment of national training and certification standards for trades that receive apprenticeship training, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, it has been a long road to get to the point where we could bring this issue to the floor of the House of Commons.

In a nutshell, let me just explain the principle. We have a situation in the country where apprenticeship training does not rise to the same standards that we see in other countries around the world. I will go into some details to give a comparison, for example with Germany.

Yet we have young people right across Canada who are looking for opportunities that may not follow in what is perhaps some of the more popular areas today such as IT, high technology or something of that nature. They are interested in working in construction, in building trades, at being plumbers and at being carpenters. They are working with their hands. They also require a great deal of technological training today, unlike our forefathers from several years ago when the latest technology was not available.

I think there is a fundamental problem in our society that led me some three and a half years ago when I arrived on Parliament Hill to draft a private member's bill. It was not easy, I might add, to get the bureaucracy in Ottawa to even agree to draft it. I will go into the reasons for that in a moment.

I wanted to draft a private member's bill telling young people that if they became apprentices, if they received a ticket for whatever trade they wished to pursue in the province of Ontario, and if they received an opportunity to work in that trade in the provinces of Manitoba, British Columbia, Alberta or Newfoundland, they would be able to do that. Their apprenticeship ticket or licence would be recognized equally in every province, territory, region, municipality, village and community in Canada.

Sadly that is not the case today. It came as a great surprise to me to find out that we did not have the necessary procedures in place to allow for the mobility of our young people to ply their given trade across the country. I did some research. I met with people in the trade labour movement, particularly in the building and construction trades, to find out why this was.

I was informed that we have a system called the red seal system for registering trades. There is a copy of it here. It is fairly extensive. It covers 44 trades across the country. The principle is that if one receives a red seal designation it should therefore qualify one as an apprentice anywhere in Canada. One of the fundamental problems, and I think this goes to the heart of our constitution, is that not all provinces and territories recognize all 44 of these trades with the red seal designation.

Certainly some of the more obvious ones, mechanics and cooks or jobs of that nature, are recognized in most of the provinces but many are not. I would also submit to the House that there could be more than 44 trades involved in apprenticeship training across the country.

I was surprised when I arrived here to see the resistance from the bureaucracy. I asked what the problem was and was told that it was not federal jurisdiction. I asked the bureaucracy to help me understand. I argued about it. I understood that we had entered into training agreements and labour agreements with provinces and were at that time currently negotiating with the province of Ontario. We had agreements on the table with other provinces, but I am not talking about delivering the service of apprenticeship training. I am not talking about the actual physical educational process that might take place in a combination of learning on the job in the workplace and then attending a community college in my province or some other learning institution in other provinces.

I do not want to interfere in that. I happen to believe that the delivery of education is better handled by the provincial governments in co-operation with the school boards and with other training associations.

We may get involved, and do indeed with HRDC funding, in many of these areas where we will provide some money for these training institutions and directly channel that money to the young people who are taking the training. We do that all the time. In fact, we have seen hysteria in this place by members opposite about some of the funding from HRDC that has gone out to help these young people. That hysteria has caused a great deal of difficulty for those young people.

I do not want to interfere in provincial jurisdiction. There are those who support my bill, and I am going to share with the House who some of those people are. In addition to some members here, the critic from the NDP party from Winnipeg has been a great supporter and a believer in it. It is supported by other people in most of the provinces, if not all, in many of the ridings and communities represented by members on both sides of the House. I normally get a little partisan, but this is not a partisan issue. This is about our young people.

I cannot for the life of me understand why my own government, if it is opposed to, or the people opposite would be opposed to putting in place national standards for a young person who registers for a program or gets a job. My own son is 25 years old. He is a bright young guy. He takes after his mother obviously. He decided he wanted to be an apprentice electrician. He obtained a job. He enrolled at community college for the educational portion of it. Should he be able to work anywhere in the country? He is a Canadian citizen born in this country, educated in this country. He received an apprenticeship licence in this country but he cannot go to Quebec or he cannot go to Newfoundland because his ticket does not allow him that mobility.

Frankly, not allowing that runs contrary to the social union contract which was signed by every province save the province of Quebec. Let us think about that. The social union contract called for mobility in educational activities across Canada. It was signed by all the provinces except the province of Quebec. We understand the reluctance of Quebec to sign on to anything that would promote national unity or any kind of national activity. That is no surprise. I am not surprised that the Bloc Quebecois would be opposed to this initiative in this private bill.

At first I was a little surprised to learn that Canadian Alliance members were opposed to it, but then I guess I understand that their vision of this country is to devolve all authority and all responsibility down to the provincial level. To use the term used by our Prime Minister, he said that they wanted to be a head waiter for the provinces, that that is the role the federal government would fulfil.

Members of the Canadian Alliance would oppose this kind of national initiative because it runs contrary to their support for devolution of authority and power and the absolute dismantlement of the federal government because of their provincial views, very narrow views I might add.

I ask members to think about who has supported this bill. This bill has changed titles because of the recess of this place, but it is the same bill with a different number. It received support from business, received support from organized labour, received support from the educational community, and received support from numerous colleagues in this place. It is a bill that has a vision attached to it that would benefit all young people.

Too often in our generation, those of us in this place, we think in terms of our sons and daughters becoming doctors and lawyers, becoming experts in certain fields of technology. What will happen when the day comes when we can no longer get the workers we need to build the infrastructure, the workers we need to build the communities, the roads, the highways, the sewers, the waterpipes, the bricklayers? In fact I have had an experience where a constituent of mine was attempting to get some bricklayers and he could not get them. The union could not provide them. Do members know where he had to go to find them? It was not to Newfoundland, not to Nova Scotia. He had to go to Portugal.

Does it make sense if we have an opportunity to provide training and apprenticeships for our young people in Canada to learn how to become bricklayers, to make the kind of wonderful living that a good quality, well trained bricklayer can make, for us to be looking to Portugal to import workers?

Obviously there are situations, and the trade labour movement will support this, where one-off projects require us to use our immigration system to go out around the world to find particular workers so that we can build a particular project that will indeed save, keep and create jobs for Canadians. These are temporary worker permits and they are issued all the time.

It would not happen overnight, but one of the ways we could solve these shortages would be to encourage our young people to become apprentices, to make them proud to become bricklayers, carpenters, electricians and plumbers. Why should they not be? What honourable professions those are. This place should reflect society and frankly, society has lost sight of the true honour of working in those professions.

Let me share with hon. members a letter from the Canadian Labour Force Development Board supporting the original bill. This is from Brian Skrogs, business co-chair, and Joe Maloney, labour co-chair. This is a business-labour coalition, both sides of the spectrum. In a letter to me they said “It is our pleasure to inform you that at our meeting of June 10, 1998 there was unanimous support for supporting the bill”.

It is bipartisan unanimous support from business and labour. That is a national organization. It understands. It does not have parochial views. It is not concerned about constitutional matters. It does not care about jurisdiction and who does what. It cares about having good quality opportunities available that will create the mobility right across the land of having young Canadians do apprenticeship work in every community.

Another letter is from the Building and Construction Trades Department, affiliated with the AFL-CIO which is a huge organization. In a letter that went out to all members of parliament, it stated “We would urge the government to adopt this bill as government legislation. Further we would ask all members to support this bill, either as a private members' bill or as a government bill”.

The Building and Construction Trades Department has offices here in Ottawa and it represents people right across the country. Once again it is not concerned about jurisdiction. What it wants to see is some national standards.

Let me add that what is most interesting is that we agreed in negotiations on the bill that we would adopt the highest standards in the land which I believe are from Alberta. We would adopt the Alberta standards as national standards. I am not being parochial and saying that it has to be Ontario's way. I want the best. I want the best standards that are available to help our young people.

There is a letter urging that the government and all members support the bill from the Bridge Structural Ornamental and Reinforcing Ironworkers. It is an international union. This letter is to the federal minister of labour at the time from its international headquarters in New York City. It states:

Approximately three years ago at the first ministers meeting it was agreed that they would relax certain interprovincial trade barriers, one of which was the mobility of labour. However we now find ourselves in a virtual gridlock relevant to labour mobility due to the fact that certain provinces have red seal standards while others do not. Therefore, I would once again respectfully request that you endorse the bill.

I have dozens of letters from unions and business groups in every province right across Canada. I have letters from Newfoundland, New Brunswick and from Ontario in abundance. One is from the United Transportation Union and states “I am pleased that somebody has finally found the wherewithal to introduce a bill that makes such plain sense”. And it does make plain common sense.

I know there is opposition to the bill. I am pleading with those who have decided not to support the bill to reconsider that. I appreciate those who are supporting it. This is not partisanship. This is not about nation building. This is not about separatism or a national debate on Quebec. This is about our young people, about their future and their opportunities to pursue apprenticeship programs that will be recognized and effective from sea to sea to sea.

Apprenticeship National Standards Act
Private Members' Business

September 21st, 2000 / 5:35 p.m.

Reform

Bill Gilmour Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise and respond to the member opposite.

First I would like to back up and describe what apprenticeship really means. Actually there is some interesting history.

The apprenticeship system for training trades workers is historic. For centuries skilled trades people had an obligation to teach their craft to the young. After an apprentice had satisfactorily completed the full term of training and had demonstrated his ability, he became a journeyman. A journeyman means he could travel around from one job to another; hence the journeyman trade. This is what we are talking about here.

My background is somewhat interesting. I went to Vancouver technical school. I am disappointed that they have moved away from this but in those days, most of the school was trades. Heavy duty mechanics, auto mechanics, printing, sheet metal, carpentry were all started in grade eight. In grade eight students made a decision. They could go through a university course which was fine, but many of the students did not want to do that and they went into the trades. When they came out of grade 12, they were well on their way to being journeymen. They substantially shortened the timeframe and the young men and women were well trained and well on their way.

I am really disappointed that our education system has gone away from that. I think we are missing a fair bit of the boat by trying to push everyone into the same mould and send everyone off to university when in fact we need plumbers, we need people to build our houses, we need skilled operators of various equipment.

In my background in forestry, I spent 25 years in the woods with large logging equipment. A grapple yarder can cost over $1 million alone. An off-highway truck carries 100 tonnes of logs. One can understand the size of this equipment. We had an excellent apprentice training system in our heavy duty shop.

I am not unfamiliar with the apprenticeship programs, but that is straying from the bill a bit. We are not talking about apprenticeships because we all recognize that a good apprenticeship program is valuable. What we are talking about is certification and who is going to run the boat.

I understand why the member was having some difficulty introducing the bill. Clearly it is provincial jurisdiction. That is where we are having some difficulty with it. It is an overlap that is already covered by the provinces. It is not only trades, it is doctors and dentists. I am a professional forester. It is foresters. Provinces cover education. Provinces cover certification. Why would we need a national standards program when we already have in place provincial laws that deal with apprenticeships?

I agree that there needs to be more interaction between industry and the provinces. The red seal where people can travel from one province to another needs to be improved. I recognize that. However I and my party do not think the answer is a national standards program for apprentices.

On that basis we reject the provisions in the bill because it is clearly duplication. In effect it is almost another way of the big federal government wanting to edge in on the provinces' authorities. That is the reason we have some difficulty with the bill. It is not apprenticeship at all. That is not the issue. The issue is certification and who is going to run it. Therefore we will not be supporting the bill.