House of Commons Hansard #55 of the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was health.

Topics

Equalization Payments
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Wascana
Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I was very pleased to be able to make the correction that has indeed resulted in the ex gratia payment of $120 million thus far.

The Premier of Saskatchewan has indicated that he thinks there are some other anomalies, some other issues that need to be addressed, in the functioning of the existing formula. I have undertaken to pursue an examination of those issues with him and with his officials. That process has started.

Federal and provincial officials have been meeting in the last couple of weeks. I hope that if there are further mistakes that need to be corrected, we can find them quickly and ensure that they are corrected.

Government Assistance
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, as Acadians and non-Acadians gather this summer to celebrate 400 years of l'Acadie, the magnificent musical adaptation of Antonine Maillet's novel, Pélagie , begins its journey on the Canadian stage. Pélagie , chronicling the epic journey from deportation to the U.S. and back to Acadia, is currently showcasing in Toronto and Ottawa theatres. Tragically, Pélagie will not arrive at its final destination in Nova Scotia next door to historic Grand Pré because the federal government has unbelievably pulled funding at the eleventh hour.

Would the government today reverse that decision so Pélagie can be--

Government Assistance
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

The Speaker

The hon. Minister of Labour.

Government Assistance
Oral Question Period

May 14th, 2004 / 11:45 a.m.

Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe
New Brunswick

Liberal

Claudette Bradshaw Minister of Labour and Minister responsible for Homelessness

Mr. Speaker, I can assure the hon. member that the celebration of 2004 is very important to all of us. I will take her question under advisement and personally speak to the minister on her behalf.

Public Service
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Scott Reid Lanark—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canadians who do not live near Ottawa are not even allowed to apply for half the jobs posted on the government's employment website, www.jobs.gc.ca.

Most postings exclude the majority of Canadians based upon geography using postal codes as the determining factor.

This produces some very unfair results. For example, people from the urban part of the Town of Greater Napanee can apply for jobs because their postal code begins with K0J, but people from Selby, which is in the rural part of Greater Napanee, are not allowed because their postal code begins with K0K.

What is the rationale for this arbitrary policy?

Public Service
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Winnipeg South
Manitoba

Liberal

Reg Alcock President of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, this issue has been discussed at great length with members on all sides of the House and I have repeatedly offered to sit down and go through this with members.

The reality is that the policy has been in place since the late sixties, simply as a cost control measure. People who are looking for advancement in the public service are not covered by this. This is simply for positions of new entries into the public service.

Having said that, the Public Service Commission is working on some new recruitment tools. It has done a lot of work on it and is about to launch a form of e-recruitment that will allow it to take applications from all across the country, but it is always weighing cost--

Public Service
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Lanark--Carleton.

Public Service
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Scott Reid Lanark—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, this issue was first raised in the House on February 15, 2001. Virtually every private employer in the country has electronic systems for sifting through electronically received resumés in order to look for key words and reduce the supply of excess resumés down to reasonable levels.

If these guys cannot get their act together, how long does it take them? How long does it take them to do something that is simple and universally used in the private sector to simply ensure there is fairness and equity in the one institution in the country that should care the most about fairness and equity?

Public Service
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Winnipeg South
Manitoba

Liberal

Reg Alcock President of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, rather than making these simplistic comparisons with the private sector, the reality is that the government is not the private sector. The government has a responsibility to those people who do apply.

That is exactly why the costs have grown so greatly. That is exactly why the Public Service Commission, in a very responsible way, is attempting to manage the costs so that it can provide a new and improved service to Canadians.

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Duncan Vancouver Island North, BC

Mr. Speaker, many low income earners are paying into employment insurance but will never qualify to receive benefits. The very lowest income earners can ask for a premium refund but one-third fail to do so. Many of these people are students.

Will the minister fix this unfairness by creating an exemption from EI premiums for students and low income earners?

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Eglinton—Lawrence
Ontario

Liberal

Joe Volpe Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, as the member knows, there have been a series of proposals put forward by members of both sides of the House on how to address some of the anomalies in the employment insurance system.

There have been a series of worthwhile measures that have been put forward. I have indicated that I would take them into serious consideration as we review the EI Act.

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Duncan Vancouver Island North, BC

Mr. Speaker, the measure has been recommended by two all-party House of Commons standing committees plus the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association, the CFIB, the Hotel Association of Canada, the Canadian Tourism Commission, and the Retail Council of Canada.

This is not new. This is since 2001-02. The benefits are many and the unfairness to low income earners is obvious.

Why does the government continue to use low income earners and students for a tax grab?

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Eglinton—Lawrence
Ontario

Liberal

Joe Volpe Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, we could have an intelligent discussion about the merits of the system, but we certainly cannot have it if we are going to play games with the way that people are contributing to a system.

May I remind the member that through the measures in the employment insurance system we have witnessed a situation, a set of circumstances, that has seen the unemployment rate drop down to 7.3%. Last month, for example, we saw an increase of an additional 50,000 brand new jobs created. We have the highest participation rate in the OECD countries and our unemployment rate has gone down.

Afghanistan
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Bloc

Stéphane Bergeron Verchères—Les Patriotes, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Minister of Foreign Affairs, in referring to the Red Cross, said that prisoners held in Guantanamo were being treated properly. Today we have a scathing new ICRC report on the conditions of their detention in Guantanamo.

How could the minister be so confident about the treatment of prisoners in Guantanamo, when the ICRC report confirms the exact opposite?

Afghanistan
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Barrie—Simcoe—Bradford
Ontario

Liberal

Aileen Carroll Minister for International Cooperation

Mr. Speaker, the reports of the Red Cross are always conveyed directly to the government responsible. The Minister of Foreign Affairs has repeated what has been said before in the House. We are satisfied that the Americans are treating all prisoners there in compliance with the Geneva conventions. We have conveyed our views in the past. We have received assurances, which we accept, that those conventions are being applied in a transparent manner.