House of Commons Hansard #4 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

Emergency Debate on Public Transit Labour Dispute
Business of the House
Government Orders

January 29th, 2009 / 6 p.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. There has been a development today that will be of interest to my hon. colleagues in the House.

Today, through numerous meetings, consultations and co-operation, both the City of Ottawa and the union have agreed to refer the outstanding issues to binding arbitration.

Considering the extensive cooperation shown in the House, I would like to congratulate and thank my hon. colleagues. I would especially like to thank our party spokesperson, the hon. member for Beaches—East York. I would also like to thank the hon. members for Hull—Aylmer and Ottawa South for their cooperation, as well as the members of all parties. Today we saw an excellent example of how the government and opposition parties can work together. This encouraged the parties involved in the subject of tonight's emergency debate to reach an agreement and refer everything to binding arbitration.

Mr. Speaker, given this development, I believe if you were to seek it, you would find unanimous consent to adopt the following motion. I move:

That the emergency debate scheduled tonight be cancelled and that its cancellation not preclude a member from requesting another emergency debate on the same topic at another sitting of the House.

That is in the event that things go off the rails between now and Monday.

Emergency Debate on Public Transit Labour Dispute
Business of the House
Government Orders

6 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Is there unanimous consent to dispense with the emergency debate ordered for later this evening without prejudice?

Emergency Debate on Public Transit Labour Dispute
Business of the House
Government Orders

6 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Emergency Debate on Public Transit Labour Dispute
Business of the House
Government Orders

6 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

(Motion agreed to)

The House resumed consideration of the motion that the House approve in general the budgetary policy of the government, and of the amendment and of the amendment to the amendment.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

6 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member raised some interesting issues, particularly about EI. The member has been very vocal on the subject with regard to the need to have a vision as to what is going to happen to the people in each and every one of Canada's provinces and regions when the full impact of the job loss occurs. We have inevitable problems with older workers, who may never find the gainful employment that they enjoyed before they lost their jobs.

We have a government that failed to recognize that the EI system is already overloaded, that there are significant delays in processing claims, that people are going to need it, and that the government should have thought of dealing with the two-week waiting period as opposed to simply adding five weeks to the end. It fails to recognize these challenges.

It also fails to recognize that people who lose their jobs are in a stressful, desperate situation. Health care costs are going to go up as a result of mental and physiological problems, as well as the demand on social services that will need to be provided, and the fact that crime and criminal justice costs will inevitably rise, particularly policing. Health care, social services and policing costs are all provincially funded and yet the transfers to the provinces did not go up to take care of these inevitable problems that are going to occur.

I ask the member whether or not he sees these as potential problems that people in Canada are going to face as a result of this and that the government has in fact failed to respond to the inevitable needs of Canadians.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

6:05 p.m.

Bloc

Yves Lessard Chambly—Borduas, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for Mississauga South for his very pertinent question. He raised a number of points. I will address two of them, since we do not have much time. Indeed, we have a serious problem involving older people who are losing their jobs and who have no options, since they cannot find another job. This is a serious problem because they have no income potential. Once there was a program called POWA, the program for older worker adjustment, which needs to be brought back. Both the Liberal Party, when it was in power, and the Conservative Party have promised to bring it back. No one has kept that promise.

I also share my hon. colleague's opinion regarding the importance of eliminating the two week waiting period before employment insurance benefits kick in. This would give people an income very quickly, especially in an economic crisis such as this one. As we all know, whenever someone loses their job, they suffer quit a jolt, which is costly enough. No one has money to burn when they lose their job.

I thank my hon. colleague for his question.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

6:05 p.m.

NDP

Wayne Marston Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to say to the member opposite that repeatedly, in this place, I have seen that member and other members of the Bloc stand to defend the rights of the unemployed, the rights of those about to be unemployed, and with respect to this motion, women's rights. I am pleased to say today that this raises the level of debate in the House which has been needed for a long time. I really appreciate his demeanour because the passion that is behind such feelings often spills over.

The budget talks about employment insurance. The fact is that we do not get any change not only in the two weeks at the front end but in those who will qualify. I just find it a little bit ironic that the person raising that a few minutes ago was a member of the party that made changes to EI in the first place in 1995.

Beyond that, in my office in Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, we are get many calls currently from people applying for employment insurance who are weeks and weeks behind. There has to be a change as well in the number of folks who are in government offices processing because we are predicting 300,000 more lost jobs for this coming year.

Are people having the same problems in Quebec with the activities around delivery of that service?

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

6:05 p.m.

Bloc

Yves Lessard Chambly—Borduas, QC

Mr. Speaker, I also thank my NDP colleague for his question.

In fact this is causing just as many problems in Quebec. In some areas, there have been delays of up to 50 days. That is unacceptable. This waiting period of 28 days is long enough. It is significant. When you lose your job, you often have new expenses and you already have to wait 28 days. It is unacceptable that the waiting period is so long, especially today, given that we have the resources to organize our services more efficiently.

In summary, in this budget, employment insurance measures include a five-week extension of benefits, but only for recipients. 60% of applicants do not receive benefits. Nothing has been solved. We need eligibility rules that will allow these people—60% of applicants—to qualify.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Resuming debate, the hon. member for Mississauga—Erindale. He will have limited time.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Conservative

Bob Dechert Mississauga—Erindale, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to share my time today with the hon. member for Red Deer.

I am pleased to speak today in favour of Canada's economic action plan, as tabled by the hon. Minister of Finance, and I respectfully encourage all my fellow parliamentarians to support budget 2009. In my view, the government's economic action plan provides much-needed stimulus for our nation's economy that is timely, targeted, temporary and cost effective. I believe that the measures contained in our plan will lay the foundation for long term growth.

As we all know, Canada is facing the domestic effects of an unprecedented global financial crisis. Our financial institutions, while strong and sound by international standards, face the double jeopardy of an unavailability of liquidity to provide much needed loans to business and a short term negative economic forecast that causes them to hold back in making the loans and investments that Canadian business requires.

Credit-worthy Canadian businesses cannot access necessary sources of debt and equity to operate in the normal course and make the types of investments that will enable them to enhance their competitiveness and operate in a more environmentally sustainable way. Hard-working families are justifiably worried about their jobs and financial security and accordingly are cautious about spending and incurring debt.

These are truly extraordinary times. This is not a normal economic downturn. Despite the fact that Canada's economy is in relatively much better shape than any G7 nation, thanks in large part to the previously implemented economic and fiscal policies of this government, we must take extraordinary steps now to offset the domestic effects of the current crisis in world financial systems.

Given Canada's very favourable debt to GDP ratio, we have an opportunity now to borrow modestly at historically low interest rates and put that money to work for all Canadians to soften the impact of a financial crisis created beyond our borders and to help our economy emerge stronger, more competitive and a leader in cutting edge technology and industries.

The economic action plan is a coordinated plan that will simultaneously protect jobs through critical support for the auto industry, tax incentives for new investments in production machinery and environmental technologies and generous enhancements to the employment insurance program.

It will create new jobs through immediate and strategic investments in roads, bridges, public buildings, colleges and universities, investments that will enhance the efficiency of our economy and improve the quality of life for Canadians throughout this great land. It will maintain and create further jobs by incentivizing consumers to purchase homes and automobiles, and to renovate existing homes to enhance their value and energy efficiency.

It will also protect the most vulnerable in our society by providing significant new support for training for those laid-off workers to give them the knowledge and skills required to shift into new and emerging industries. It will provide tax cuts for hard-working, low income Canadians and significant new investments in affordable housing.

The economic action plan is proof that we listened and delivered. As members know, the Prime Minister, the Minister of Finance and all of our members of Parliament met across the country with thousands of individuals, businesses, municipal and provincial governments and other stakeholders. This broad and comprehensive consultation process elicited many good suggestions, which are reflected in the economic action plan.

As a Conservative member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance, I have participated in meetings with over 45 stakeholder groups. In my home province of Ontario, I met with the region of Peel, the city of Mississauga, local boards of trade, labour groups, charitable and social welfare organizations and ordinary citizens at public town hall meetings. In all of those consultations there quickly emerged a consensus on broad initiatives to stimulate our economy and protect workers and the most vulnerable in our society.

I am pleased to acknowledge that these important and desired initiatives have been included in Canada's economic action plan. We were advised by the Mississauga Board of Trade and many others to revise the employment insurance program to help save jobs through work-sharing. We responded by extending support for work-sharing arrangements by 14 weeks.

I would like to read from a press release, released by the Mississauga Board of Trade yesterday, in which it describes how the government responded to its requests.

The headline reads, “Federal budget is positive step forward for business and economy”. The statement reads:

Mississauga Board of Trade was pleased to see the federal government present a budget that took extraordinary measures to address an extraordinary economic climate.

MBOT President & CEO, Sheldon Leiba said, “Now we have the confidence that the federal government has a plan and strategy in place to restore our economy and achieve long-term competitiveness.”

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I regret to interrupt the hon. member.

It being 6:15 p.m., it is my duty to interrupt the proceedings and put forthwith every question necessary to dispose of the subamendment now before the House.

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

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

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

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.