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

Apprenticeship National Standards Act
Private Members' Business

5:40 p.m.

Bloc

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

Madam Speaker, I somewhat have the impression that I am repeating myself by speaking to this bill, Bill C-318, the purpose of which is to establish apprentice training and certification standards that will be recognized Canada-wide.

We must remember there was an epic battle in Quebec in order to reach an agreement on manpower, so that Quebec, and not the separatists or the sovereignists, but all of Quebec in total agreement including the provincial Liberals, the Action démocratique du Québec and, obviously, the Parti Quebecois, which forms the government of Quebec, along with all the social stakeholders, to enable Quebec to recover jurisdiction over it.

Today, with respect to Bill C-318, I am a bit surprised that we have to have this debate once again. We must remember—and this is the same example we had in health care—that the government of Quebec had to fight for more than a year to obtain recognition of the jurisdictions in health care so that, in the end, with the support of Ontario, the federal government would agree to sign an agreement respecting their jurisdiction over health care.

Today, on the subject of manpower training, recognition of training, this looks like a repeat to us, as if the Liberals are afflicted with the malady of always wanting to meddle in provincial jurisdiction.

When the member says that it is not a national issue, I say to him that it is at least a jurisdictional issue and a matter of efficiency. The provinces already have responsibilities in the area of training. In Quebec we have already come a long way on this. When the bill speaks of setting up a national apprenticeship organization with a mandate to set training and qualification standards for the trades they apply to, it is clear that this is duplication of the work that can be done in the individual provinces.

In this regard, additional bureaucracy will be created. Just imagine. We all know about the efficiency of government bureaucracy. In the area of human resources development, we saw how effective the federal government could be. We saw how, when it comes to taking concrete and day to day measures, this government could end up making a mess, being terribly inefficient and totally missing the mark.

Why should we add another area where federal public servants would evaluate how apprenticeship training is carried out in a province, and end up before the courts seeking legal opinions on jurisdictional issues, when everything is clear? As the member pointed out, already, in some areas, the provinces can voluntarily adhere to standards that are recognized from province to province. So why add an area in which the federal government has no expertise, no jurisdiction and no knowledge?

If the member feels that it is absolutely necessary for the federal government to be responsible for these things, he should seek a constitutional change so that the whole issue of manpower training and education would fall under federal jurisdiction. But Quebec would never agree to that of course. The jurisdiction over education is one of the main reasons why Quebec entered the Canadian confederation in 1867. It was a sine qua non condition to going ahead and signing that pact.

Since then, we have realized that this jurisdiction over education should be extended, to allow us to take effective action in the whole area of manpower. There is absolutely no question of backtracking now. Three years after Quebec took over manpower training, after a more difficult beginning but where there is now practical, functional interaction between the parties to the satisfaction of local communities, it would be very inappropriate to now go back to a system where the federal government decides on the relevance of training given in Quebec or Manitoba.

The member seems to be confusing “national” with “federal”. The federal parliament is not the boss.

Apprenticeship National Standards Act
Private Members' Business

5:40 p.m.

An hon. member

Oh, oh.

Apprenticeship National Standards Act
Private Members' Business

5:40 p.m.

Bloc

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

Madam Speaker, some members of the House should wait their turn to speak, so that I can use my time more effectively.

I will conclude by saying that this bill, which came about because of the goodwill of a member who thought that there must be a simpler way to do things, has not taken into account the context of jurisdiction, of how things operate in Canada, and still seems to view the provinces as branch offices of the federal government. This they are not—they are their own entities, with jurisdictions that must be respected.

If the Canadian government does indeed have major problems in this area, if it needs major structural changes in order to be able to fulfill its international role as a federal government when signing international agreements, then I have one that can be concluded rapidly: that the federal government, Canada and any provinces prepared to do so conclude an agreement, while Quebec as a sovereign country may assume its full responsibilities and be a presence on the international scene like the Canadian government, for those agreements desired by the people of English Canada.

As long as we are living in the Canadian system as it exists at present, with responsibilities given to each province, it would be totally inappropriate, insufficient and the source of major duplication, to be putting money into such a duplicated system.

It is certain that there is a huge surplus on the federal level, and perhaps they are looking for ways to use it without having to give it back to the taxpayers. There is nothing better for raising a government's profile than having money available.

In the present case, however, it would be doing a disservice to both Quebecers and Canadians to impose such a double structure on them. I hope this idea will die on the order paper today and that we will have the assurance in future that such backward thinking will be not repeated, with its reference to a philosophy far different than the one that has guided manpower agreements, that is devolution.

Apprenticeship National Standards Act
Private Members' Business

5:45 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Madam Speaker, there is not much in this world that I know a lot about, frankly, but this is one subject on which I actually do have great personal knowledge.

I am a journeyman carpenter myself and for many years I represented carpenters as a union leader and I did get to deal with the issue of labour market training a great deal. I can honestly say that the very worthwhile bill put forward by the member for Mississauga West absolutely meets a need in industry that was plain and obvious to me, and to anyone who has ever actually had experience in the industry that I represented.

One of the members from the Alliance said that apprenticeship was an ancient tradition, and he is right, but it goes back even farther than he said. It can be traced back to the ancient Babylonian code of Hanurabi, which was the first written reference of a need or an obligation for skilled workers to pass on their skills to the next generation.

I do not think anybody who I have heard speak so far has any problem with the model of apprenticeship. In fact, most people spoke glowingly about what a suitable method it was for the communication of craft trade skills and what a necessary aspect it was of any human resources or labour market strategy.

Where we find faults and what the industry has been telling us for years is that labour market training and the apprenticeship systems in this country are like a patchwork quilt. Virtually every province has its own way of doing things, its own curriculum, its own entrance requirements and its own certification methodology. As a result, as the member for Mississauga pointed out, mobility has really been threatened.

A carpenter who took his or her apprenticeship training in Nova Scotia cannot just move to Alberta when there is a boom and work there because it is a different set of skills. The employers do not know what they are getting as there is no standardized curriculum. Even more important, the customers of the construction industry service do not know what kind of a quality job they will get because there is no standardization.

For years now within the building trade but also beyond, for instance, in the auto industry, the piping trades, any place that has apprenticeship training as an aspect of the work environment, there has been a call for national standards, to somehow pull all these diverse groups working in isolation across the country together under one kind of central committee, a central umbrella. We can call it what we want. I see that the hon. member, in his bill, calls it NATO, national apprenticeship and training organization. We used to throw around the term NATAC, national apprenticeship and training advisory committee. Whatever we want to call it, it should be a forum where business, labour and government could sit down, compare notes, develop standardized curricula and a standardized set of rules for the delivery of training without interfering in the provincial jurisdiction.

We have been aware that this would be a sore point, especially with the province of Quebec. We knew that we would meet resistance there, but no one is talking about the federal government or any national agency interfering with the delivery of the service. All we are asking for is a consultation forum where a group in the province of Quebec, for instance the CCQ, the Commission de la construction de Québec, would be represented on this national organization. They would say “In our province, our entrance requirement is that one has to have grade 10. It is a four year program and the curriculum looks like this. How does that compare with your program in Manitoba?”. If there are any problems then those two would have to be aligned to guarantee the ease of mobility so that Canadian workers could work anywhere in Canada and Canadian industry could be assured that they were getting a known commodity when they hire, and I will use the example of a carpenter because that is my trade.

Apprenticeship as an education model is so well-suited for even today's new industries, even the high tech field, because the people who are involved are not really students. They have an attachment to the workforce. They actually have a job so they are earning while they learn. It is a model that we believe should be expanded far beyond the 44 current trades in Canada.

One hon. member mentioned Germany. The country of Germany has 440 apprenticeable trades. People can apprentice in almost any discipline they can think of. The regimen is outlined in a clear way. They would get a certification so that they could actually call themselves a skilled x , y , or z , whatever occupation they happen to apprentice in.

We believe that having these national apprenticeship and training advisory committees, or NATO committees, in each of the apprenticeable trades would not only serve the needs of industry in providing highly skilled workers of a predictable known quantifiable level of training, but it would also help to promote and expand the whole concept of apprenticeship in a much wider way than currently is enjoyed.

I am terribly disappointed that the government has not seen fit to adopt this idea. We have a minister of human resources but we really do not have a national human resources strategy because we have offloaded that to the provinces. Some people say that is a good thing and some people are not as pleased with that, but at least the federal government should still see that it has a role in ensuring that the delivery of training, which has been signed over to the provinces through various labour training agreements, is at least being taught with a certain set of standards so that they would know they are getting proper value for their investment into labour market training if for no other reason.

I believe the government has missed the boat. I believe it is not only not listening to the member who put the bill forward, it is not listening to industry. It is not listening to key industrial sectors that very much want this. This idea did not just come out the blue. The member did not just wake up one morning and say “I think we should do this”. We are making an effort to meet a demand by the building trades industry, which is the largest single employer in the country. The construction industry and certainly the auto industry, any of the industries that have sectoral councils or are dealing with labour market training other than post-secondary education, are very interested in this model.

When I raise the sectoral council, I believe there is a precedent for the federal government to have a role in setting national standards and that is the model right there. In the auto industry, for instance, there is CARS, which is a tripartite group made up of labour, business and management. They get together and not only set curriculum, they can talk about other things. They can talk about forecasting the labour market needs in that sector and what the intake should be of new people into those skilled trades to meet their anticipated needs. It brings together the actual stakeholders in the training around one central table.

It would not be a costly factor either. In our dialogue with industry most industries have pretty much accepted that they will have to dig into their pockets to fund this sort of thing sooner or later. There was not much opposition to some kind of a training levy being put forward to actually run the nuts and bolts.

All the federal government would really have to do is create the environment. The funding source could be some kind of a joint labour-management contribution in some models. That is what we did in our union. Every hour that a carpenter worked he paid 10 cents into a labour market training fund which was matched by the employer. We would then use that money for the training of our members.

In the province of Quebec they have things figured out in a better way with their 1 per cent training levy which employers willingly pay so that they can count on a high level of labour market training for the workers they very much need.

There is a precedent for this type of thing with the sectoral council. There is a need and a demand, as clearly articulated by industry sectors. The government has missed the boat in choosing not to support this very worthwhile bill.

If we did have the type of national standards that we are talking about, perhaps more young people would be motivated to go into the skilled trades, the apprenticeship trades. As was pointed out, there can be very high paying, satisfying careers in the skilled trades.

We often get this blue collar stigma where people are not willing or this kind of a feeling that one only goes into the trades if one drops out of mainstream education. There are satisfying careers, highly skilled workers in these fields and great entrepreneurial opportunities that come out of the skilled trades. Once one achieves a certain level of proficiency as a bricklayer or as a carpenter one can hang out a shingle and hire two or three friends, and all of a sudden we have another small business starting.

For these and all the other good reasons this bill should have been deemed votable. It should have been passed and in fact it should have been picked up by the government and introduced as a government side bill. My compliments to the member for Mississauga West for bringing forth this important issue for debate, if for nothing else.

Apprenticeship National Standards Act
Private Members' Business

5:55 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Bill Casey Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Madam Speaker, it is certainly a pleasure to speak to this bill today. It is always enlightening to sit in the House and hear the different points of view.

Actually the hon. member for Mississauga West has almost started a mini constitutional debate here with this issue. We can see from the philosophical positions of the speakers how they accept or reject this approach. In general, if one agrees with a strong central government with national standards for everything like health care, education and training, then one would support this bill. Personally I do not see how we cannot support the bill.

However, if one does not agree with a strong central government and believes that we should have a country with an array of strong provincial governments, with no real strong central government, I suppose one could oppose it. I would certainly support it and I admire the energy and initiative of the hon. member in bringing it forth.

I happen to live at the intersection of three provinces: Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. I have always been involved with the trades one way or another. I will list some of them: plumbing, electrical, welders, carpenters, mechanics, body shop repair and parts. These are all trades that require apprenticeships or some form of training. The standards for these three provinces change so that there is no mobility from one province to another in a very small area. We are talking of the radius of maybe 100 kilometres at the most where the three provinces intersect and the rules change. The rules are different for each trade. A set of national standards as proposed by this bill makes imminent sense to me. It would certainly help in my specific area.

If one wants to employ or train someone in the trades, the present system is to begin most likely through the community college in a town called Springhill, Nova Scotia, or there is another community college in New Brunswick, the Moncton Community College. Again, two provinces, two sets of standards and a different level of education from both of them. The trades people graduate. They have their diploma, but still they are trained in different ways with different standards. Again this bill would address that.

I personally believe that a bill such as this one would help in a lot more ways than just uniform standards. As the last speaker mentioned, he said it would motivate other standards in these fields. I think that is true. If these trades had national standards they would achieve a better level of recognition and legitimacy for a lot of people who might not think it is a good place to go or might not be inclined to go in the direction of a trade when all the pressure is on to go into high tech, IT technology training and things like that, or to go on to university. Maybe they would rather do a trade but because of the image it has or may have in their own mind they may not want to do it. However, if it has national recognition and national standards they would be more inclined to do it.

Such a program would enhance the community college system. This is a very important and is a critical element of the educational process. Not everybody will be a computer whiz or go into the high tech industry. The community college systems, in my opinion, have always been deprived of the recognition they deserve and the money they deserve. All the focus has been on university and other high tech forms of education. Community colleges really play a key role. They are the forum of education that best trains people for a specific job. I have often felt they are underutilized and under recognized.

Also, such a set of standards would raise the level of standards itself. As the member said, they would accept the highest standard in the land for each trade. How could we go wrong with that? There has to be good positive results from this.

Certainly, just the fact that we could have uniform standards across the country is good. We are famous in Atlantic Canada for exporting our most valuable asset. Atlantic Canadians are going to other parts of the country because job opportunities in Atlantic Canada are not like they are in some other areas. National standards would expedite that process but it would also expedite the process for them coming back at a later date, which is what we all want.

In general, this is a very practical and good bill. I totally support the bill because of my personal hands-on experience in everything the bill stands for. I believe the bill should receive approval and I am sorry it is not votable. If it was I would be voting for it and I am sure my party would be as well.

Apprenticeship National Standards Act
Private Members' Business

6 p.m.

Liberal

Raymonde Folco Laval West, QC

Madam Speaker, allow me first to praise the work of the hon. member for Mississauga West on the subject of apprenticeship and training, because his efforts were motivated entirely by his interest in ensuring the preparation of qualified workers and an effective apprenticeship system established for industry workers and the economy of Canada.

Skilled workers are in demand. Canadian workers must be able to take advantage of these opportunities. We cannot ignore that. In addition, workers must have access to these jobs, regardless of where they are located in Canada.

The Government of Canada on the other hand has a responsibility to contribute to the supply and the mobility of skilled workers so that Canadians may play their part in a growing economy. This must not, however, prevent us from taking into account the political realities of our federal system.

Allow me to reiterate the remarks recently made by the Prime Minister in Berlin. He said that the Canadian model is based on the recognition of diversity, on a mix of cultures, on a partnership of people and government, and that the system creates a balance between individual freedoms and economic prosperity and shared risks and benefits.

This balance must not be forgotten in the consideration of this bill and more particularly in the search for a better way to achieve the objective of this bill, namely the ongoing training of Canadian workers.

This explains our discussions with our provincial and territorial counterparts and consultation of employers, union groups, educators and community organizations.

We are discussing with them ways of contributing to increasing the number of Canadians in apprenticeship or training programs.

In 1998, the government launched the Canadian opportunities strategy to give access to knowledge and skill training to a larger number of Canadians.

Moreover, in the October 1999 throne speech, the government pledged to establish a national plan on skills and learning for the 21st century.

In fact, our government pledged to ensure that skills development keeps pace with the evolving economy, to make it easier for Canadians to finance lifelong learning and to provide a single window of information to Canadians about skills requirements and training opportunities.

Our challenge is to determine the best way to help Canadians make a decision about the skills that will be useful to them.

The Government of Canada, along with the ministers responsible for the labour market in the provinces and territories, is looking for ways to help Canadians acquire skills.

We must help Canadians increase their literacy level, particularly those who could be left on the sidelines in the new economy.

But what is the best way to proceed? What are the specific needs of these people? How can we give them access to the tools that will allow them to fully participate in the economic and social life of our country?

Our partners' involvement is essential, since they have responsibilities relating to education, and since they set the rules governing trades and professions.

In many ways, Human Resources Development Canada is a catalyst in the area of manpower mobility.

The implementation, by July 1, 2001, of the chapter on manpower mobility in the Internal Trade Agreement is undoubtedly our primary concern with the provinces and territories. That agreement will promote the freer movement of persons, goods and services across Canada.

As regards manpower mobility—

Apprenticeship National Standards Act
Private Members' Business

6:05 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault)

I am sorry to interrupt the hon. member.

Message From The Senate
Private Members' Business

September 21st, 2000 / 6:05 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault)

I have the honour to inform the House that a message has been received from the Senate informing this House that the Senate has passed a bill, to which the concurrence of this House is desired.

A message was delivered by the Usher of the Black Rod as follows:

Madam Speaker, it is the desire of the Honourable Deputy to the Governor General of Canada that this honourable House attend him immediately in the chamber of the honourable the Senate.

Accordingly, the Speaker with the House went up to the Senate chamber.

And being returned:

Message From The Senate
The Royal Assent

6:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault)

I have the honour to inform the House that when the House went up to the Senate Chamber the Honourable Deputy to the Governor General was pleased to give, in Her Majesty's name, the Royal Assent to the following bill:

Bill C-37, an act to amend the Parliament of Canada Act and the Members of Parliament Retiring Allowances Act—Chapter No. 27.

The House resumed consideration of the motion 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.

Apprenticeship National Standards Act
Private Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

Laval West
Québec

Liberal

Raymonde Folco Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Canadian Heritage

Madam Speaker, I wish to congratulate government members on the passage of Bill C-37.

I will now continue my speech on Bill C-318, an act to require the establishment of national training and certification standards.

The agreement is aimed at facilitating worker mobility by enabling any worker entitled to ply his trade or profession in any province or territory, to apply for a job in that trade or profession in another part of the country.

Essentially, this agreement consists in acknowledging that the co-operation of all governments is the best way of accomplishing the objectives set in the Internal Trade Agreement. Through the Forum of Labour Market Ministers, Human Resources Development Canada is working with the provinces and territories to implement the provisions of the agreement that address work force mobility.

In our unique federal system, apprenticeship has developed under conditions specific to each province or territory, reflecting our major geographical and climatic differences.

Canadians should in fact be able to take advantage of all opportunities offered, regardless of where they live. The most indicative measure in this regard was the establishment, recently, of the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum, which brings together the principle spokespersons of the training community in the country.

The primary objective of the forum is to promote cohesion and co-operation among the interested parties. It includes representatives from business, manpower, the teaching and training sector, organizations promoting equal opportunity on the labour market, the Canadian Council of Directors of Apprenticeship, the Interprovincial Alliance of Apprenticeship Board Chairs and, obviously, Human Resources Development Canada.

The general mission of the forum is to set out the bases of an apprenticeship training system in order to establish a skilled and mobile workforce.

This group represents a new stage in the evolution of apprenticeship. In fact, provincial and territorial jurisdictions over apprenticeship are not only respected, but extended to the benefit of all Canadians, and especially young people looking for a profession.

I am happy to add that Human Resources Development Canada is providing a three year budget of $1.9 million to this group to defray operating costs. This, in my opinion, is a valuable investment in our future labour force.

Other quality forums continue to receive funds from us, for example the Canadian Council of Directors of Apprenticeship, which manages the red seal program.

The interprovincial red seal program defines national performance standards for 44 trades in Canada and interprovincial certification. The term “interprovincial” is important, because it means that these workers will be able to practice their trade anywhere in Canada.

The Government of Canada is also working closely with employer groups and sector councils to identify labour force shortages and find ways to remedy them. In Canada, some 20 sector councils are continuing their efforts with a view to training the current labour force and preparing future workers in their particular sectors.

We are very confident about the upcoming announcement of the creation of a national council in the construction sector, which should be a strong motivation for people in the industry.

It is clear that the hon. member wishes to contribute to an inclusive and prosperous Canada.

Unfortunately, as I have shown, there is a strong risk that the wording of this bill would lead to duplication of existing measures.

The best approach is to work with the provinces and territories to achieve the goal we all share, which is to do what is necessary to make Canada's labour force the best in the world.

I hope that the member will join with us in these efforts.

Apprenticeship National Standards Act
Private Members' Business

6:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault)

I recognize the hon. member for Mississauga West for his right of reply.

Apprenticeship National Standards Act
Private Members' Business

6:25 p.m.

Liberal

Steve Mahoney Mississauga West, ON

Madam Speaker, let me say first a profound thank you to all the members from all parties who stayed here late, through the royal assent journey down the hall and then back here, to discuss what I think we all agree is an extremely important issue. We may not agree on how we are going to implement apprenticeship training across the country, who is going to do it or what the standards will be, but certainly I did not hear anyone from any party stand up and make derogatory comments toward apprenticeship training programs. We know there is tremendous benefit to be had for our young people.

I also recognize that with my private members' bill having been deemed non-votable at committee some months ago, there is a tendency to assume that this is a bit of a waste of time. I do not think it is because it is important that members in this place put forward their views and their parties' views. I heard three truly national parties, the New Democrats, the Progressive Conservatives and of course my party talking about national programs. I heard what I would call two regional or provincial parties, the Bloc Quebecois and the CA talking about protecting the interests of the provinces.

I am not against protecting the interests of the provinces and working with the provinces, as the parliamentary secretary has called for, to deliver training programs. I just fail to understand, and will look for other ways to skin the cat if you will, why anyone who has any kind of a national vision would object to providing standards that are accepted right across the country.

We would recognize high school diplomas across Canada. We certainly recognize university degrees across Canada. We certainly recognize skilled medical trainees across Canada. Why we would not recognize apprenticeship in the same way as we recognize those perhaps sends a message as to how our society feels, tragically and unfortunately, toward those particular trades. I hope that is not true, because we should value those trades and the young people who make decisions to build careers.

I want to finish by touching on one aspect which my hon. friend from Winnipeg mentioned and that is the entrepreneurial opportunities that are failing to be recognized. I have worked with young entrepreneurs for the past year and a half in developing a task force report to implement programs within our government that will help young people build their own careers and businesses. As my hon. friend pointed out, what better way to create new businesses and new opportunities than to help people get the technological skills needed to build the infrastructure, the buildings and roads, the cities and communities, the community centres and everything else to help people build careers for themselves. They will create jobs. They will build families and generate children within those families who will go on in careers and apprenticeship training as well in the building trades.

I still believe, notwithstanding that my bill is not votable and that it effectively dies on the order paper, it is an extremely important debate that we have had here. I thank all members who participated for putting forward their vision on this very important issue.

Apprenticeship National Standards Act
Private Members' Business

6:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault)

The time provided for the consideration of private members' business has now expired. As the bill has not been designated as a votable item, the order is dropped from the order paper.

It being 6.30 p.m., the House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 6.30 p.m.)