House of Commons Hansard #32 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was money.

Topics

Forestry Industry
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Alexandra Mendes Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, this is clearly not enough. AbitibiBowater, the world's largest newsprint producer, has until Wednesday evening to find a way to refinance its debt.

Once again, we see the Conservatives giving consent by remaining silent and putting off stopping the attacks on another Canadian industry.

Will the industry have to collapse to get the Conservatives' full attention?

Forestry Industry
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean
Québec

Conservative

Denis Lebel Minister of State (Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec)

Mr. Speaker, as my opposition friend knows, the major problem facing the forestry industry has to do with markets. Everyone knows that. For various reasons, the economic crisis and mortgage issues have seriously weakened our forestry industry. Everyone know that, except the people who want to play politics.

We have helped workers by introducing measures that will increase the maximum employment insurance benefit period from 45 to 50 weeks, for example. We have extended work-sharing agreements by 14 weeks. To target this industry, we have provided $500 million for the construction of new facilities—

Forestry Industry
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Laurier—Sainte-Marie.

Employment Insurance
Oral Questions

March 24th, 2009 / 2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, with the current economic crisis, the number of employment insurance recipients has risen 22.8% over last year. By doing away with the waiting period, which would be like giving the rising numbers of unemployed one extra cheque, the government would be helping all the unemployed and at the same time stimulating the economy.

Why does the Prime Minister not listen to reason and come promptly and effectively to the assistance of all those who are jobless, by doing away with the waiting period?

Employment Insurance
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the leader of the Bloc, as a member of the coalition, asked the government to add two weeks of benefits to help the unemployed. We added five, but the leader of the Bloc voted against that measure. The Bloc Québécois is a party with no serious economic policy. It is against everything, and for nothing.

Employment Insurance
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, what the Prime Minister has just said is totally ridiculous. The five weeks affect 25% of people who have access to employment insurance, while abolition of the waiting period would affect everyone unfortunate enough to be on EI. This would put money into the economy immediately. It would stimulate the economy. Those people would not be buying stocks or investing money in the US, unlike the oil companies which have got more money out of this government.

Will he listen to reason?

Employment Insurance
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Mégantic—L'Érable
Québec

Conservative

Christian Paradis Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, once again this morning there was an announcement of increased access to employment insurance through our economic action plan. We announced five more weeks of eligibility for work sharing. This was greeted with pleasure by Action chômage Haute-Côte-Nord. It means workers will have more support to keep them working in their community. This is action. Not just criticism.

What is more, as part of that same plan, we yesterday announced $200 million for the awarding of a contract in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, which will help out the textile industry. It represents 150 direct jobs and 4,900 spread over Canada and Quebec. Again action, not just criticism.

Employment Insurance
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Yves Lessard Chambly—Borduas, QC

Mr. Speaker, the minister is trying to make piecemeal improvements to the employment insurance system, a system that has become too complex and unfair over the years and needs a complete overhaul. The Bloc Québécois' proposed bills would improve the system by establishing uniform minimum eligibility criteria—360 hours—and eliminating the two week waiting period.

If the minister really cares about what happens to the unemployed, she should vote for these two bills. What is she waiting for?

Employment Insurance
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk
Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member should know that we have an employment insurance system that adjusts automatically every month to changing conditions in each of Canada's 58 regions. When conditions get worse, the system adjusts so that the unemployed can collect employment insurance benefits much more easily after having spent fewer hours in the labour market. They will also receive benefits for a longer period of time.

Employment Insurance
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Yves Lessard Chambly—Borduas, QC

Mr. Speaker, the minister failed to mention that the system excludes 55% of unemployed workers. She needs to acknowledge that the forestry crisis resulted in 40,000 job losses in Quebec alone. The minister is refusing to recognize that many of those older workers cannot be retrained.

The need is urgent. When will the minister announce a program that really supports older workers?

Employment Insurance
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk
Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, it makes me sad to hear the gentleman say such a thing, to say that older workers cannot learn. My government and I believe in older workers. That is why we have expanded the targeted initiative for older workers and the program for long-tenured workers. We believe in workers. Why does he not believe in them as well?

Employment Insurance
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, 129,000 more Canadians were thrown out of work last January and yet the number of EI recipients only went up by 23,000 in that month. That means that 100,000 Canadians who lost their jobs did not get any help from the government. Meanwhile, the government claims that there are no delays in processing the EI requests.

If that is the case, could the Prime Minister explain the huge discrepancy between the number of people thrown out of work and the number of people who cannot get help for their families when they need it most from the government?

Employment Insurance
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, obviously, with an increase in unemployment we will see a rise in employment insurance benefits. That is why the system is there and why it is there to help, We have increased the benefits during this time of global recession to ensure more Canadians, particularly those who seek a long job search, will be able to access that, along with additional training.

What those people will be wondering is why the New Democratic Party voted against all of those benefits for them.

Employment Insurance
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, 1,310,000 people in Canada were unemployed in January but only 560,000 of the total unemployed were receiving any help from EI.

Under the Prime Minister, 57% of those hard-working Canadians who live by the rules, paid into the insurance fund and needed help cannot get it. Why will he not fix it? He could reduce the minimum to qualify, drop the waiting period and increase the wage replacement rate. He could ensure that no matter where people live in Canada, they receive the same kind of help. That is what Parliament wants him to do. Why will he not do it?

Employment Insurance
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the vast majority of people who have become unemployed are eligible for employment insurance but, of course, no thanks to the NDP. The NDP asked that we add two additional weeks of employment insurance and we added five weeks. The NDP voted against it.

I do not know which is worse, the Liberal Party that votes for something then criticizes it or the NDP that asks for something and then votes against it.