House of Commons Hansard #83 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was workers.

Topics

Employment Insurance Act
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Souris—Moose Mountain
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Ed Komarnicki Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development and to the Minister of Labour

Madam Speaker, there is a targeted initiative for older workers of $60 billion which the member is not totally happy with. There are 190,000 people who are being helped and he is not happy with that. There is a work sharing agreement that helped 160,000 people which he is not happy with. He is not happy with the five extra weeks.

Using his logic, if he were to vote against the bill and it failed, what would he tell the 190,000 people? Would he tell them that the bill did not have everything he liked and he did not support it because of some reason? Would he say to each one of those 190,000 people that he knows they need additional assistance but he will not help them because he does not like everything in there? How can he justify that to the 190,000 who need the support? It does not matter where they live in the country; it is better that they have that benefit than no benefit at all. The member's logic escapes me.

Employment Insurance Act
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, QC

Madam Speaker, my colleague's remarks show the Conservatives' contempt for and insensitivity to the situation in Quebec and especially in the regions of Quebec.

He mentions talking to the 190,000 unemployed in Ontario, but what will the government say to the unemployed in our regions who have been suffering for five years because of the forest industry crisis? Plants are closing left and right in Quebec. People have paid employment insurance premiums.

I think the member should also stop being paternalistic and more or less implying that this money is coming out of his pockets. These workers pay taxes. This money is not coming from Conservative members and ministers. Employment insurance benefits come out of the EI fund, which is made up of employer and worker contributions. The Conservative government and the Liberal government, under Paul Martin, boasted about—

Employment Insurance Act
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

The hon. member for Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine has the floor.

Employment Insurance Act
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Bloc

Raynald Blais Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

Madam Speaker, I do not know if I can put as much passion into it as my colleague just did but at the very least I will say this: with regard to the 190,000 eligible people, when it was time for questions the member for Chambly—Borduas asked the Conservatives where they are. With respect to Gaspésie and Îles-de-la-Madeleine, one of the Quebec regions, I have a great deal of difficulty finding unemployed workers who might be part of this group of 190,000.

Is it possible that this figure of 190,000 has been exaggerated just like so many other things presented by the government? I believe that the member who just spoke, the Bloc Québécois whip, is surely very aware of the fact that the figures mentioned by the Conservative government are, for the most part, wrong.

Employment Insurance Act
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, QC

Madam Speaker, this would be a good opportunity in the debate. If the government is talking about 190,000 persons, that number is not coming out of thin air, it has not been reached at random. You do not say, “Oh, I just pulled out the number 190,000!” I would like some member of the government who will be talking about this bill to give us the geographic breakdown of the 190,000 unemployed persons. We shall see if we are right. If there are 189,000 of them in Quebec, I will withdraw my words and make a statement in the House. However if it is true that the great majority are auto workers, I hope this government has the courage to say so to our faces.

Employment Insurance Act
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Savage Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Madam Speaker, I congratulate my colleague for his speech. I have enjoyed working with him and his great colleague from Chambly—Borduas on issues like this.

We do not agree on everything, but I think we agree on some of the basic issues. One of the things that are particularly annoying and frustrating about the government is its insistence when referring to the 360-hour work year or the nine-week work year is a lack of respect for Canadian workers.

I want to ask the member if he believes, as the government does, that Canadian workers will purposely put themselves in a position to be unemployed so they can get all these great benefits from employment insurance.

Employment Insurance Act
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, QC

Madam Speaker, my colleague represents a riding in Nova Scotia. Ridings in the maritime provinces are similar to those in maritime Quebec, in Gaspésie, the Magdalen Islands and the Lower St. Lawrence. The reality of seasonal jobs is not unique to Quebec: it exists in other provinces. I am sure that if someone goes to my riding or those of my colleagues in the Bloc Québécois and asks people if they would rather have a year-round job or go through periods of unemployment every year, the great majority would say they do not want charity, they want the dignity of work. They want to work rather than receive employment insurance benefits. Quebeckers are proud people.

Employment Insurance Act
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, it is fairly clear that this bill must be amended in committee. I would like to ask the member what type of amendments to this bill he would like to see brought in committee.

Employment Insurance Act
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, QC

Madam Speaker, I believe I have said that the main problem with this bill on the employment insurance system is eligibility. The number of hours to qualify should be reduced to 360. Another problem is the duration of benefits, to avoid what is called “the spring gap”. The seasonally unemployed are not receiving sufficient employment insurance benefits to support them until the next work period. Third, to provide people with a decent income the benefit level must be increased from 55% to 60%.

In addition, on account of the economic crisis, the Bloc Québécois has written two reports—in November 2008 and April 2009—in which it suggests improvements to the government. We call for the abolition of the waiting period so that those unfortunate enough to find themselves unemployed can start receiving money immediately. When you receive employment insurance benefits, it takes two weeks before you see a cheque; meanwhile, the bills keep coming in. The credit union continues to send out its mortgage bill, Visa Desjardins does the same, and people have no income for two weeks.

To continue supporting the plan, the waiting period must be abolished. This is a concrete proposal made by the Bloc Québécois for the benefit of the unemployed.

Employment Insurance Act
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Mr. Speaker, I certainly listened with respect to the great deal of passion that the hon. member brings to representing his constituents.

I think I need to make mention that our economic action plan recognizes that there is not just one solution to the global recession that we are facing, which is why we have the community adjustments fund. That is why we have created retraining opportunities and that is why we have job opportunities. There has to be a very complex approach during this global recession.

While this EI bill, Bill C-50, is going to help some people in the province of British Columbia, it is not the perfect solution, but how can the member look at the people that it will help in his province and say, “No, I am not willing to provide you with an extra 20 weeks. I voted against that”?

Employment Insurance Act
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, QC

Madam Speaker, my colleague can respond when a member of her party, a minister or a parliamentary secretary, takes the floor on the subject of this bill and gives us, province by province, the breakdown of the 190,000 unemployed persons who will be affected by this measure. She mentioned British Columbia. It is our claim, and in this we are in agreement with the Globe and Mail, that the majority of the unemployed affected by this new measure will be workers in the Ontario auto industry. My colleague asks what I will say to the unemployed in Quebec who are affected by this measure. As there will be next to none, I will have nothing of much interest to say to them.

I will tell them that this program, in spite of all the misinformation by the Conservatives in all the media, does not apply to them. That is why it is not working.

Employment Insurance Act
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Patricia Davidson Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Madam Speaker, I would like to say that I will be sharing my time today with my colleague, the member for Oshawa.

Today I am very proud to express my support for Bill C-50 which will extend EI benefits for long-tenured workers.

Through Canada's economic action plan, we have been helping Canadians in all walks of life to get through a difficult time in our economy. For those who have lost their jobs, we are now providing longer EI benefits and more efficient service. For those who are at risk of being laid off, we have made it easier for companies to participate in work-sharing agreements. We are helping young people get a start in the job market and we are giving them incentives to get certified in the skilled trades.

We are helping older workers make the transition to new careers. We are ensuring that newcomers to this country can get their credentials recognized. We are working to create more job opportunities for aboriginal people. We are making record investments in skills and training to enable Canadians to prepare for the jobs of the future.

Moreover our actions with respect to the employment insurance program are working for Canadians. The actions we are taking are having a positive impact and we are seeing positive results.

Our government is taking further action to ensure the EI program responds to the needs of those workers hit by this global economic downturn such as long-tenured workers. Many of these workers have spent many years in industries that have been hit hard by this recession. Many of them are forestry workers from many provinces. Many of these workers are in the manufacturing sector and in the auto sector, especially here in my home province of Ontario and in my own area.

These hard-working Canadians have put in many hours over the years. They have paid into the EI system for many years. They are out of work through absolutely no fault of their own and they have seldom if ever collected benefits until now. Now a good number of them need some additional time to get back into the workforce. Bill C-50 will give them that support.

Employment Insurance Act
Government Orders

2 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

The member will have approximately seven and a half minutes after question period.

Statements by members, the hon. member for Niagara West—Glanbrook.

Fall Fairs
Statements By Members

September 17th, 2009 / 2 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Allison Niagara West—Glanbrook, ON

Madam Speaker, as the temperature cools, the days shorten and the opposition parties threaten to force an election, it can mean only one thing: Fall is approaching.

For many rural communities across the country this means gearing up to host a fall fair. These fairs offer smaller communities the opportunity to showcase the very best that the citizens have to offer as well as paying tribute to the rich agricultural heritage that these towns share.

Hundreds of tireless volunteers are to be commended for their efforts in making these events as popular and successful as they are.

I am fortunate to have three fairs in my riding of Niagara West—Glanbrook, and in the past two weeks I have enjoyed the 152nd edition of the Lincoln County Fair in Beamsville and the 132nd Smithville Fall Fair. I now look forward to the 155th Binbrook Fair this weekend and would encourage everybody in the Hamilton area to come out and experience all the fun and excitement that is a fall fair.

International Day of Peace
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Madam Speaker, next Monday is the 27th anniversary of the first International Day of Peace. On September 21, 1982, the United Nations passed a resolution to dedicate one day per year to promoting peace, cooperation, understanding and a global armistice.

In 1999 a related initiative was launched by the British film director Jeremy Gilley who put together a documentary that followed him as he travelled the globe, promoting the idea of a day of peace. The film, entitled Peace One Day, enjoyed great success and prompted the United Nations to officially declare September 21 as the United Nations' International Day of Peace.

Over the last 10 years, Peace One Day has emerged from relative obscurity to become recognized and celebrated in over 190 countries.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Miss Margaret Rochefort, a young constituent who wrote to me expressing her active interest in this issue.

I invite all members of the House to mark this day as we commemorate and strengthen our Canadian ideals of peace at home and abroad.