House of Commons Hansard #122 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was workers.

Topics

Fairness for the Self-Employed Act
Government Orders

5:20 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I think the member hit the nail right on the head when he pointed out that we are looking at 2.6 million Canadians in the self-employed category: hairdressers, artists, real estate agents. For the Bloc to deny them the opportunity to participate in this program is a big mistake on their part, because as the member has pointed out over and over again, this is a voluntary program. Once it is in operation, it can be fine-tuned.

I have asked the government for information and studies and projections on how many people will participate in the program. The government has not been able to provide those. The government says that the program will be voluntary. There is evidence to show that a compulsory program may be the only way it will become self-sufficient. However, that will not stop us from supporting the bill. We want to see the bill passed and see the system put in place, and then we will improve it over time.

Fairness for the Self-Employed Act
Government Orders

5:20 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, the question was in fact directed to the Bloc Québécois. Why is it voting that way? The Bloc Québécois also voted against Bill C-50, which gave long tenured workers access to EI.

For a party that wants to champion employment insurance, the Bloc Québécois has quite often voted against legislation in that area. A decision will have to be made. It will be up to the people of Quebec to judge the Bloc's actions. Bloc members argued in their defence that EI for long tenured workers applied only to Ontario workers and auto workers. I am sure that the economy did not fare much better in Quebec. Quebec was hit by the economic crisis like everyone else. Yet, the Bloc members wanted to prevent these workers from having access to EI benefits.

I am glad that the NDP voted in favour of the bill. If that could have helped the people of New Brunswick, I would have also liked our cousins in Quebec to help us. They decided against it. They are adults. They are the ones who will have to go back home and, in taking part in the political life there, explain why they failed to help long tenured workers. They are not helping either the self-employed workers who would like to be covered by the EI program when they are sick or need special support.

At any rate, as I said, we are all adults here. Let them make their decisions. We will make our own.

Fairness for the Self-Employed Act
Government Orders

5:20 p.m.

Liberal

Raymonde Folco Laval—Les Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, since I do not have much time, I would like to get straight to the point regarding Bill C-56 to amend the Employment Insurance Act, to establish a scheme to provide for the payment of special benefits to self-employed persons who are not currently entitled to receive them. This includes maternity, sickness, and compassionate care benefits, and parental or adoptive benefits.

It is clear to us on this side of the House that this bill is extremely important for a large part of the population, especially for women who work. For example, we know that many women have to work several jobs, even if they are self employed, and we know they face serious problems, such as a lack of income support during periods of unemployment or an economic downturn. We know that self-employed female workers are often forced to quit their jobs when they are sick, and therefore have no income.

We also know—and I am skipping many parts of my speech—that it is women who traditionally care for children, although many men now help, and it is also women who care for their aging parents. This bill, which aims to help self-employed workers by providing sickness benefits and compassionate care benefits, should therefore provide some welcome relief. However, I would like to remind the House that last week, at the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities, we came up against a very important fiscal problem. We learned that this creates a very serious problem for Quebec. I will explain.

Self-employed workers in Quebec already have access to Government of Quebec benefits for parental leave, sick leave and compassionate leave to care for family. This means that, naturally, in the government's calculations for this bill, self-employed workers in Quebec should not have to pay the same premiums as other Canadians, because they already receive part of those benefits, not from the Government of Canada, but from the Government of Quebec. So it seems clear to us that the calculation that was reported to us in committee was incorrect.

Since I do not have much time left, I will simply ask the government to review the situation based on the actuarial forecasts, to look at the contribution rates for Quebeckers under Bill C-56, particularly for sickness benefits, and to have a serious look at the figures. The Liberals will vote in favour of Bill C-56, but I want to be clear: we are urging the government to check its figures and to fix them if necessary.

Fairness for the Self-Employed Act
Government Orders

5:25 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member has raised a point that has come up several times during debate concerning the determination of premiums for Quebec residents who, under the Quebec system, have substitutes for some of the benefits that are being provided. The parliamentary secretary had indicated that the rate has been set lower than the private insurance rates that would otherwise be available.

This seems like a sloppy way to do it. Indeed, it seems to me that in a number of ways the committee did not have the opportunity to look at the calculations and to receive the information from the proper officials. I wonder if the member would care to comment on whether or not she feels strongly enough that there should be a total review and reassessment of the prescribed rates.

Fairness for the Self-Employed Act
Government Orders

5:25 p.m.

Liberal

Raymonde Folco Laval—Les Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, my colleague posed an extremely important and difficult question. Outside the committee, we had a very hard time getting real figures in response to the questions we asked. The answers were not very clear. It took us a long time to come to the conclusion I just spoke about in the House.

The whole bill does not necessarily have to be reviewed, because it is a fundamentally good bill that will give benefits to people who definitely need them and are asking for them. What needs to be reviewed are the figures regarding the benefits that will be paid to Quebeckers, to Canadians who live in Quebec. The government or someone else could still review the figures and come back to us with more concrete, real and correct figures.

The House resumed from November 25, consideration of the motion.

Canadian Northwest Passage
Private Members' Business

5:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

It being 5:30 p.m., the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the amendment of the hon. member for Newmarket—Aurora to motion M-387, under private members' business.

Call in the members.

(The House divided on the amendment, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #140

Canadian Northwest Passage
Private Members' Business

5:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

I declare the amendment carried.

The next question is on the main motion, as amended.

Canadian Northwest Passage
Private Members' Business

5:55 p.m.

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor Carleton—Mississippi Mills, ON

Mr. Speaker, if you seek it, you will find agreement to pass this motion we are considering now based on the vote on the amendment.

Canadian Northwest Passage
Private Members' Business

5:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

Is there unanimous consent to proceed in this manner?

Canadian Northwest Passage
Private Members' Business

5:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(The House divided on the motion, as amended, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #141

Canadian Northwest Passage
Private Members' Business

6 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

I declare the motion carried.

The House resumed from November 27 consideration of the motion that Bill C-393, An Act to amend the Patent Act (drugs for international humanitarian purposes) and to make a consequential amendment to another Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.