House of Commons Hansard #29 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was victims.

Topics

Question No. 12
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Toronto Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, in response to part (a), Canadian Forces personnel were involved in the rescue operation for HMCS Chicoutimi immediately after the fire was reported on October 5, 2004. After Chicoutimi ’s executive officer reported the incident, Maritime Forces Atlantic informed the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Halifax, as well as Royal Navy headquarters in Northwood, U.K. In turn, the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre informed the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre in Clyde, U.K. After these initial actions, Canadian Forces personnel and departmental employees worked together in coordination with our allies to assist Chicoutimi ’s safe return to Scotland.

The chief of the maritime staff led this response that involved personnel from units across the country. Although the vast majority of personnel who deployed in support of this operation were from the navy, dedicated teams of staff were formed in both Halifax and Ottawa to help coordinate the response. In addition, the air force provided airlift resources to deploy personnel to the U.K. and Ireland.

As Chicoutimi belongs to the Atlantic fleet, the focus of the navy’s response was coordinated by Maritime Forces Atlantic. Within 24 hours of the incident, technical staff were travelling to the scene of the incident to join HMS Montrose , the U.K. ship responsible for coordinating all the assets in the area that provided assistance to Chicoutimi . These technical experts were supported by additional technical personnel in the U.K., Ottawa, Esquimalt, Halifax and elsewhere. Within 48 hours, a second group departed Halifax and was followed by additional support personnel. For example, a command qualified submariner was embarked in HMS Montrose and a repair damage assessment team was sent to Scotland to estimate the nature of the repairs that Chicoutimi would require. Support personnel established a forward logistics site. HMCS St. John’s was also deployed to the scene to provide support to Chicoutimi . In addition to personnel on HMCS St. John’s , approximately 65 Canadian Forces personnel were in place to assist Chicoutimi when it arrived alongside in Faslane. Throughout this time period, the Canadian defence liaison staff, London, and our embassy in Ireland provided additional support.

In response to part (b), prior to departing for Halifax, Chicoutimi underwent pre-sea trial tests, harbour trials and at sea trials. In preparation for Chicoutimi ’s at sea trial, a series of pre-sea trial technical tests on engineering systems were performed. These tests included the submarine’s navigation, communication, propulsion, and weapons systems. As well, the submarine’s habitability, stores and firefighting equipment were inspected during this pre-sea trial phase.

Before the submarine was accepted into Canada’s fleet, Chicoutimi undertook a series of separate harbour and at sea confidence checks and trials which were performed in a graduated fashion. As part of the harbour trials, the safe to dive certification, escape inspection, and final defect rectification were carried out. At sea trials themselves covered the full range of technical, procedural, and ship performance tests. Representatives of the Canadian Forces submarine project were involved in all of these tests and trials.

Questions Passed as Orders for Return
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Beauséjour
New Brunswick

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, if Questions Nos. 2 and 3 could be made orders for return, the returns would be tabled immediately.

Questions Passed as Orders for Return
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

The Speaker

Is that agreed?

Questions Passed as Orders for Return
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Question No. 2
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

Dave Chatters Westlock—St. Paul, AB

What has the government paid out in the riding of Battle River in grants and contributions since fiscal year 1999-2000 broken down by recipient and, in each case, specifying: ( a ) the amount disbursed; ( b ) the government department involved; ( c ) the recipient organization or business; and (d) the location of the recipient organization or business?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 3
Routine Proceedings

November 22nd, 2004 / 3:20 p.m.

Conservative

Dave Chatters Westlock—St. Paul, AB

With regard to the position of “creative manager“ at the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission: ( a ) what have the job descriptions been; ( b ) what advertisements have been used to solicit applications; ( c ) how was the interview process conducted for all previous incumbents; ( d ) who approved the hiring; ( e ) how many applicants were interviewed; ( f ) when was the position created; ( g ) what were the expenses of the individual(s) filling this position; and ( h ) what curricula vitae or resumes have been submitted by any “creative manager”?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 3
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Beauséjour, NB

I ask, Mr. Speaker, that the remaining questions be allowed to stand.

Question No. 3
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

The Speaker

Is that agreed?

Question No. 3
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-23, an act to establish the Department of Human Resources and Skills Development and to amend and repeal certain related acts, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Department of Human Resources and Skills Development Act
Government Orders

3:20 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, before question period, I was on the point of discussing the issue of housing and homelessness among people with disabilities in the community. This issue has come up in the House today and in communities across the country. I wanted to cite a number of important statistics.

Almost half of the homeless population, which is growing, has a disability and one in seven persons with a disability has affordability problems with respect to housing. According to the 1986 census, more than half of the owned households where a person with a disability lived earned less than $30,000 per year. Over 80% of rented households where a person with a disability lived earned less than this. In Toronto 37.5% of persons with disabilities live in poverty. Most shelters cannot accommodate individuals who need support with daily living, and the structural accessibility of shelters continues to be a barrier for persons with disabilities.

One in five persons with disabilities need housing adaptations of some kind. Cost is the most commonly cited barrier for adults with disabilities not acquiring needed adaptations. Persons with disabilities in rental accommodations and rooming and boarding houses are least likely to be satisfied with their accommodations. Cost has been cited by persons with disabilities across the country, who wish to move yet cannot, as the major barrier preventing relocation.

I raise these issues in the framework of Bill C-23 because we are not doing nearly enough to address the important needs of persons with disabilities. Much more can be done. We can ease the financial burden upon those with disabilities by making the disability and medical expense tax credits fully refundable. We can provide child care and respite care for families who look after children with disabilities. That should be instituted.

Many people with disabilities today have trouble accessing adequate long term home care, and often only receive this immediately after being in hospital. This is simply insufficient. Living standards should be improved for persons with disabilities.

We have looked at the issue of transport. There was a time in the past when Canada was seen as a world leader in improving accessibility to rail and air transportation for persons with disabilities. We now find that the government's decision to rely on voluntary codes of practice rather than federal regulations has halted further advancement in this area. Many people with disabilities across the country believe the situation has regressed.

Navigating the waters, which I have brought up in the House, is a national employment initiative of the Canadian Association of Independent Living Centres. It has supported over 5,000 persons with disabilities by helping them upgrade their skills and find jobs, at a cost of only $950,000 per year. As I mentioned, that program has been threatened with closure because of inadequate federal funding. This is shameful.

We have a situation where the lives of persons with disabilities could be dramatically improved, yet they have not been addressed. We hope, by studying the bill in committee, that it will help to start to address these important issues for people with disabilities.

It is tragic to see that disabled people account for 41% of those who must rely on food banks. It is also tragic that close to half of the homeless are disabled people. So, these last 10 years have been terrible and full of challenges for the disabled.

We are looking forward to discussing these issues in committee, in the weeks or months to come. We will ask disabled people to come and testify and to talk about their lives, in the hope that we can improve this legislation, and that we can also begin to improve their lot in Canadian society.

Department of Human Resources and Skills Development Act
Government Orders

3:25 p.m.

Liberal

Jean-Claude D'Amours Madawaska—Restigouche, NB

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Davenport.

I am very pleased to take part in this debate today on Bill C-23, which legally establishes the new Department of Human Resources and Skills Development.

The new legislation will provide the necessary power and tools for the minister and the department to achieve their mandate and to contribute to the government's ultimate goal of strengthening our social foundations.

By splitting the former Human Resources Development Canada, the government has given itself a structure that will help it focus its efforts on further helping Canadians acquire the tools they need to develop and prosper in their workplace and community and on providing Canada with a highly skilled workforce that can meet the needs of the job market in the 21st century.

It is a tall order, we agree. Canada has many assets for competing on the global market, but it has to address the important issue of the disparity between emerging jobs and the skills of its workforce. Today fewer jobs do not require a high school diploma and in five years an estimated 70% of jobs will not be accessible to people without a high school diploma. Gone are the days when a young person could get a job in a factory for the rest of his life without a diploma.

Furthermore, technologies are advancing quickly and workers have to update their skills constantly. Just think about your computer: you buy the latest model and before it is even delivered a more powerful one comes out on the market.

Workers can expect to change jobs at least three times during their working life, and will often end up in fields that are very different from where they started. They have to adapt and be very flexible.

Canadians have proven time and again that they are able to adapt to change and we are sure they will stay above the fray in this new century. However, to do so it is important for citizens to be in a continuous learning environment in a country that is advanced in skills development.

Together with the other levels of government, including the provinces and territories, the business community and trade unions, the Government of Canada seeks to do just that, namely build a lifelong learning culture. It goes without saying that to build such a culture, the government is taking action and putting in place structures such as the new Department of Human Resources and Skills Development.

Thanks to its many partnerships with the provinces, territories, private sector, trade unions, non-government and native organizations, the department delivers a wide range of programs to help students wishing to pursue post-secondary education, young people seeking work experience, people looking for work, businesses needing to hire and train workers, employers and unions striving to improve the work environment here in Canada.

I will now quickly list a few of the many programs delivered by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, in cooperation with its many partners. The Canada students loans program helps students with recognized needs access post-secondary education while the Canada education savings grants encourage parents to invest in their children's education. The Youth Employment Strategy is another component that helps young people get relevant information on careers and the job market to guide them in their choices regarding their future. It provides young people with practical work experience and learning opportunities that help them find and keep a job, and delivers programs and services to young people who have trouble finding work.

Another element is the EI benefits and support measures helping unemployed Canadians go back to work. The various sectors analyze the situation in their own areas and develop strategies accordingly.

The department is also taking a leadership role with other federal departments and agencies on numerous projects, including the recognition of foreign credentials.

As you can see, the Department of Human Resources and Skills Development has a impact on all Canadians at one point or another in their life. In 2003-04 for example, employment benefits and support measures alone have helped close to 700,000 Canadians. During the same period, and thanks to the department's programs, close to 56,000 Quebeckers have re-entered the labour force.

Moreover, during the summer of 2003, more than 480,000 young Canadians benefited from the help of the 330 human resources centres for students in Canada. In short, many Canadians rely on Human Resources and Skills Development Canada.

The minister obviously has an important role to play in the management of this important department. He can fortunately count on two colleagues, the Minister of State (Human Resources Development) and his colleague the Minister of Labour and Housing. Together, they manage one of the departments that has the greatest impact on the daily life of Canadians and on their common future. Together, they are working to build a lifelong learning culture to help meet the challenges of the 21st century and ensure Canada's prosperity.

Department of Human Resources and Skills Development Act
Government Orders

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

Mario Silva Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to be a part of ushering in the new Department of Human Resources and Skills Development Canada.

Last December when the Prime Minister reorganized the former Human Resources Development Canada, steps were taken, pursuant to the Public Service Rearrangement and Transfer of Duties Act, to permit the creation of two new departments.

Today, with the legislation before the House, we are providing the department with the legal power and tools needed for the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development to fulfill his mandate, and what an important mandate it is. Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, or HRSDC, plays a key role in meeting the Government of Canada's commitment to improve the social and economic well-being of all Canadians.

Through the department's efforts to support human capital development, enhance access to post-secondary education, promote workplace and skills development and foster a culture of lifelong learning, the quality of life for all Canadians, including the most disadvantaged, will be greatly improved.

If we, as a nation, are to participate fully in the 21st century economy and society, then we must have the means to ensure that all Canadians can pursue lifelong learning and skills development opportunities.

Starting with schooling, we are working with our provincial and territorial partners to enhance the accessibility and affordability of post-secondary education. We want Canadians to have access to post-secondary education, but we also recognize the need for working-age Canadians to improve their skills and learn new ones. To help Canadians achieve this goal, HRSDC supports a variety of programs from basic literacy to apprenticeship to on-the-job training.

We all know that the best security is a job but the reality is that many Canadians need help getting started in their careers or returning to the workplace. That is why HRSDC directs substantial funds to employment insurance programs through active measures that are designed to assist unemployed workers participate in the workforce. Through such components as employment assistance services, job creation partnerships and labour market partnerships, the department has helped almost 700,000 Canadians in 2003-04.

As hon. members can tell from the names of these programs, partnership is key to ensuring the best outcomes for Canadians. It is for this reason that HRSDC is working with other levels of government, employers, unions and sector councils to develop a workplace skills strategy.

The workplace is increasingly important in a business environment characterized by rapid technological innovation. Under the workplace skills strategy, we have set three objectives: to help build a highly skilled, adaptable and resilient workforce; to see a labour market that is flexible, efficient and productive; and to work with employers to ensure that Canada's workplaces are productive and innovative.

The department is committed to looking at issues such as literacy training and essential skills upgrading for workers as well as encouraging apprenticeships in the skills trades. The workplace skills strategy will focus on the workplace for action because that is where workers' skills come into play.

In our last budget we kick-started the strategy by providing new resources for union-employer training centres. Over the next three years we will invest $25 million in a pilot project to help replace outdated equipment for trades training. The Government of Canada will match employer and union investments in new machinery in selected training centres.

Right now we are working to increase Canadians' levels of education, but Canada is undergoing a shortage of skilled workers in some areas. If we couple this with the aging demographics of the population and the moving of the baby boom generation out of the labour force, it is clear that Canada needs workers.

A key element of the workplace skills strategy will therefore be the focus on foreign credential recognition. The fact that immigration is expected to account for all net labour force growth between 2011 and 2016 and the fact that many immigrants' skills are underutilized means that we must act promptly, and we have.

To address this challenge, the Government of Canada has created the foreign credentials recognition program. To implement this program the 2003 budget provided $40 million over five years to improve the foreign credentials recognition process in Canada and followed up with an additional $5 million per year over four years in the 2004 budget.

We know that health care is a number one priority with Canadians. With this in mind, we have reached an agreement with the provinces, territories and key medical stakeholders on improved procedures for licensing foreign trained doctors. Similar initiatives are underway for foreign trained nurses and other occupations related to the health field.

Human Resources and Skills Development Canada is helping newcomers to have their skills recognized; supporting families so that children get the best start in life; facilitating access to post-secondary education; and encouraging learning and skills development in the workplace.

We know how important it is to help Canadians prepare for, find and keep work, but we also recognize that there are times when all a person needs is temporary assistance to help bridge the gap between jobs. HRSDC administers employment insurance to provide relief for those temporarily unemployed.

The department is also responsible for the employment insurance compensation care benefit. This benefit helps ease the stress faced by Canadians who must choose between their jobs and caring for their gravely ill family members by providing six weeks of employment insurance benefits.

In my riding of Davenport and across the greater Toronto area, HRSDC provides funding and support to many programs that assist people to improve their lives.

The services and leadership offered by HRSDC directly impacts communities like mine all across the country. Whether it is work on foreign trained doctors or employment insurance benefits, these are the kinds of things that are important to people in Toronto and across Canada.

From the broad range of programs and services that Human Resources and Skills Development Canada offers, we can see just how crucial the department is to promoting Canada's social and economic well-being.

HRSDC has an ambitious and important agenda. This legislation gives the formal authority for the new department to pursue it.

Department of Human Resources and Skills Development Act
Government Orders

3:40 p.m.

Liberal

Lloyd St. Amand Brant, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the House for the opportunity to speak about the importance of Bill C-23 to articulate in legislation the new mandate and responsibilities for Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, HRSDC.

This legislation would ensure that the Minister and the Department of Human Resources and Skills Development will have the legal powers and tools needed to fulfill the minister's mandate. I can assure the House that HRSDC is working closely with officials from Social Development Canada to strengthen this country's social foundation.

This government believes in a strong Canada where every citizen has the opportunities and the tools to achieve his or her full potential to participate in the labour market and the community at large.

We believe that all Canadians should benefit from Canada's prosperity. We have a vision of a Canada where everyone has the right to learn and to keep learning throughout their lifetime. We are committed to fostering lifelong learning so that all Canadians can acquire the skills and experience required to participate fully in the workforce and in society.

As we move forward in the 21st century, Canada will require a more highly skilled workforce. The new economy calls for Canadians to become highly skilled and adaptable workers who not only embrace change but are prepared to drive it ahead.

I think most Canadians are aware that these days access to education and training is absolutely crucial to their job security and earning power. To meet the challenges of the 21st century, Canada's workers must have the opportunity to upgrade their skills, to improve their literacy, to learn on the job and to move onto the path of lifelong learning.

With this in mind, the Government of Canada is supporting learning and skills development at every stage of Canadians' lives. For instance, we are helping our youngest citizens through the Canadian education savings grants so that their parents can save for their children's education. The moment a child is born in Canada, its family and the government can begin to make contributions to finance their learning down the road. About 1.8 million Canadian children currently benefit from this innovative program.

Improvements have been made to support savings efforts made by low income and middle income families. All parents want the best for their children. That includes children achieving their full learning potential. The problem is that many families, particularly low income families, have trouble setting aside money for their children's education.

That is why the Government of Canada has introduced several new measures designed to encourage parents to start saving for their children's education right away. We recognize that our youth need education and training for challenging careers that will unleash their talents and bring them a bright future, but we must do more for families and students who feel challenged by the costs of post-secondary education today.

That is why we are working with our partners and key stakeholders to provide students with the financial assistance they require to pursue a post-secondary education. Through the Canada student loans program and a number of Canada study grants, we are doing much to help students cope with the rising costs of post-secondary education.

Over the last 40 years, the Canada student loans program has earned respect across the country by helping students meet the costs of a post-secondary education. About 350,000 Canadian students a year benefit from this program, which last year loaned $1.6 billion to students in need. We also introduced a new grant worth up to $3,000, which will help up to 20,000 students from low income families cover a portion of their first year tuition.

The Government of Canada supports post-secondary education in a variety of ways. A few examples are the Canada graduate scholarships, Canada study grants for students with dependents and for high needs students with permanent disabilities, as well as funding of higher education for aboriginal students and Industry Canada's support of distance education.

Members should be aware that Canada is the second biggest investor in the world in post-secondary education as a percentage of gross domestic product.

Our employment insurance program has continued to adapt to meet economic realities and will keep changing to meet the needs of Canadians. Canadians know they can count on employment insurance as a social safety net that is there when they need it, in times of job loss and economic downturns.

We are also giving unemployed Canadians new hope with special measures designed to help them get work experience, improve their job skills or start a new business. So far, more than 667,000 Canadians have been given these opportunities under the employment benefits and support measures of EI.

One of the pressure points of the new economy is finding enough workers with the right education and the right training. All new jobs require more education and skills than ever before. Roughly 70% of jobs now demand some form of post-secondary education. And on this front, as Canadians we certainly distinguish ourselves in the world, with the highest proportion of 24- to 65-year-olds with post-secondary education.

Despite this, we know that as many as 42% of working age Canadians already in the workforce lack the necessary literacy and other essential skills to meet these requirements. Too many good jobs are going begging in our country right now because we do not have people who match the right skill set.

There is a real disconnect in Canada between the need for a trained, skilled workforce and the opportunities available for workers to meet that need. We must close the skills gap if we are going to thrive and prosper as a nation in the 21st century. That is why we are committed to developing a new workplace skills strategy to ensure that Canada has the skilled, adaptable workforce it needs for the future.

We recognize that the workplace is where economic activity occurs. It is where Canadian workers' skills are put to the test as firms strive to become more innovative and more productive. As such, is an appropriate place for adult skills development. We intend to work with unions at their training sites and with businesses in the workplace through sector councils to develop this new workplace skills strategy, boosting literacy and other essential job skills for apprentices and workers.

I particularly wish to stress the important role I see unions playing in this process. Unions have resources and they have influence that will help in promoting more skills development. The workplace skills strategy will build on current federal programs and activities such as sector council initiatives, as well as apprenticeship programs, essential skills and workplace literacy initiatives, foreign credential recognition and labour mobility.

In all these activities we will collaborate with industry partners, employers and unions, as well as learning organizations and provincial and territorial governments, to promote the cost effective development of skills driven by the needs of the workplace. All these initiatives are part of the mandate of the new Department of Human Resources and Skills Development.

We understand that Canada is a stronger country when all people are able to contribute their skills and talents to our labour market and to society. I am genuinely excited about the momentum that is beginning to build as people start to understand the enormous potential for Canada in the new global economy.

With this ambitious agenda, our government is working to build the workforce for the 21st century in Canada, robust and strong and able to compete with the best in the world.

Department of Human Resources and Skills Development Act
Government Orders

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Fitzpatrick Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, I took note of the member's comments about skills development and the EI program. The government likes to brag about its performance in so many areas, and economic indicators, but one area that I think is sadly lacking compared to our chief competitors is our unemployment rate.

The unemployment rate in this country is something like 7.3%. The unemployment rate in the United States is 5.3%. Also, the government should be taking a good hard look at the success story of Ireland. With the economic policies the Irish have there, the unemployment rate is something in the order of 4%.

If I understand it correctly, if we went from 7.3% unemployment to only 4% unemployment, we are talking about 500,000 to 600,000 people, the population of Winnipeg, Manitoba, a gigantic number of people.

I would like this member to try to explain to me how this government has had a real problem getting its unemployment rates down to the levels that we see in the United States and Ireland. Maybe he can explain what structural problems we have in this country such that we cannot get it lower.