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

Harmonized Sales Tax
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Mégantic—L'Érable
Québec

Conservative

Christian Paradis Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, the federal government and the Government of Quebec made a commitment to negotiate in good faith on this issue. The Government of Quebec itself acknowledged that there were still some adjustments to be made. We are currently negotiating in good faith. If the member wants to ask the same question 15 more times, he will get the same answer every time, because negotiations are being conducted in good faith.

Harmonized Sales Tax
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives' sales job on their HST tax hike is completely collapsing. The claim that the HST will remove embedded taxes in B.C. is simply not true.

Property transfer taxes are charged at every stage of building a new home and now the HST will be charged on top of these. For a house on Vancouver Island, it will mean that taxes will make up 18% of the cost of a new home.

Why is the Conservative government shifting the tax burden to new homebuyers in British Columbia?

Harmonized Sales Tax
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Macleod
Alberta

Conservative

Ted Menzies Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, as was mentioned in the House yesterday, it is rather ironic that the NDP is talking about taxes. When we decided to reduce the GST from 7% to 6%, the NDP voted against it. When we reduced the GST from 6% to 5%, the NDP voted against that. Every tax cut that this government has proposed, the NDP has opposed.

The harmonized sales tax in British Columbia would be even higher if the NDP had its way.

Firefighters Monument
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Wallace Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, recently, our Conservative government announced the creation of a new national memorial to honour the sacrifices of Canada's firefighters who have died in the line of duty.

On Sunday, I attended an event on Parliament Hill with the Burlington bagpipe and drum band to pay tribute to over 940 Canadian firefighters who have made this supreme sacrifice.

Could the Minister of Canadian Heritage tell us more about this announcement that will honour the lives of those who keep our families, our friends and our communities safe?

Firefighters Monument
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam
B.C.

Conservative

James Moore Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages

Mr. Speaker, no job is more important than protecting the safety of Canadians. The monument, which will be the first of its kind in Canada, will remind us that firefighters put their lives on the line for our safety every day.

Calgary's Bruce Burrell of the Association of Fire Chiefs said this regarding the new memorial:

There could be nothing more welcome at this time for the families, friends and comrades of the fallen than the news that there will soon be a permanent fallen firefighters monument in Ottawa.

All parties in the House are proud to honour the sacrifice. We salute all those brave firefighters who over the years have lost their lives serving Canadians.

Firefighters Monument
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Order, please. It being Thursday, I believe the hon. member for Wascana has a question.

Business of the House
Oral Questions

September 17th, 2009 / 3:05 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, I am sure all members of the House will be very anxious to know what the government House leader has in mind in terms of House business over the next number of days and weeks.

I have three specific items I would like to raise with him. As was mentioned in question period, certain amendments to the NAFO, potentially impinging upon Canadian sovereignty, have been proposed and there is a deadline for implementation which is rapidly approaching.

The minister, at an earlier stage when she tabled those amendments in June, indicated that there would be a full debate in the House. There are only days left to go before the deadline arrives. I wonder, as I asked the government House leader privately yesterday, whether he is in a position to allow a take note debate tonight on this urgent NAFO issue.

Second, with respect to Bill C-50, which is now under consideration in the House, we in the official opposition believe this legislation should be disposed of as rapidly as possible, so it does not get entangled in other issues. Earlier today we asked for unanimous consent for Bill C-50 to go through all stages speedily by the end of the day tomorrow. At that time this morning, unanimous consent was denied. I wonder if the government House leader has any progress to report with respect to that matter, so this legislation can be properly and quickly disposed of.

Third, having to do with the week after the constituency week when we come back, the week of September 28, I wonder if the government House leader is in a position to designate the day upon which the government will table its third probationary report with respect to the economy and the recession.

Business of the House
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Prince George—Peace River
B.C.

Conservative

Jay Hill Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, as usual, my colleague across the way has chosen to get many questions into one.

Perhaps I could begin by expressing my disappointment, as I did this morning in a point of order, on the grandstanding that seems to now be commonplace from this particular member. There is a process. I have been in the House for some 16 years now. The member has been here longer than I have. He has been in positions such as the one he holds now.

He knows that we have a system of exchange and working productively among the four House leaders and the four whips. We work together. We have weekly meetings in which we raise things. In fact, on Tuesday afternoon, we had our regular weekly House leaders meeting. At that time I asked all my colleagues, both House leaders and whips, if they had any issues they wanted to raise. None of them raised any issues on Tuesday afternoon.

Now we find that he has to raise these types of issues on the floor of the House rather than try to negotiate them in good faith. I think that anybody who has worked with me over the years knows that I am always willing to sit down and talk about these things, discuss them, and try and work through compromises.

Business of the House
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Gerry Byrne

Are we going to have a debate or not?

Business of the House
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC

It would be nice if members would demonstrate a little bit of respect for me as we did for the hon. House leader from the official opposition when he was making his statement a few moments ago, if he would not mind.

Whether it is the issue of the NAFO deadline, which I am sure the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans is seized with, as she is with all fisheries issues, or whether it is trying to negotiate a way forward to expedite the passage of Bill C-50, we need to ensure that we do it right. We need to ensure that that particular bill, which is so important to workers and their families, is passed. However, we need to ensure that the help we are all seeking to provide unemployed people across the country is done in a proper and expeditious manner.

I believe that we will be successful. I am certainly hopeful. I called a special meeting after the two motions from the two opposition parties that made motions this morning. I called a special meeting of the House leaders in my office some two hours ago. I was hopeful that we would have an agreement by now on how to proceed with Bill C-50. That has not happened. One of the parties is still taking a look at a compromise that I have suggested to wrap up debate by tomorrow on this bill and then see it sent off to the committee. I am hopeful that we can perhaps arrive at such a compromise.

That addresses my hon. colleague's issue with Bill C-50. Obviously, as he noted, the House is currently debating second reading of Bill C-50. That will continue after question period.

Tomorrow, pursuant to a special order adopted yesterday, the House will vote on ways and means Motion No. 9 that implements certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on January 27, 2009, and to implement other measures.

Following the vote, we will continue and hopefully complete second reading stage of Bill C-50, so that it can move on to committee as quickly as possible. Backup bills for tomorrow, should they be needed, are Bill C-37, the National Capital Act, and Bill C-44, the Canada Post Corporation Act.

When the House returns after the constituency break, I have planned to call, but not necessarily in this order, Bill C-37, the National Capital Act; Bill C-23, the Canada-Colombia free trade agreement again; Bill C-44, the Canada Post Corporation Act; Bill C-13, the Canada Grain Act; and the Budget Implementation Act, No. 2, that flows from the ways and means motion that will hopefully be adopted tomorrow.

Standing Committee on Industry
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

Michael Chong Wellington—Halton Hills, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. As chair of the Standing Committee on Industry, I noted that during member statements, the member for Rivière-des-Mille-Îles said that Liberals and Conservatives on the committee had decided against holding another meeting on the matter concerning Nortel's disposition of its assets.

I note that those discussions took place in camera on August 7 and again yesterday. I am sure the member did so inadvertently, but I would ask that you look at the blues and rule on this matter. I think it is in the interests of all members of the House to respect the rules and procedures of committee. Mr. Speaker, I would ask that you take a look at the blues and ensure that those rules are upheld.

Standing Committee on Industry
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I thank the hon. member for his intervention. Needless to say, I do not know what happened in the committee, but I will look at the blues and then perhaps there will be some consultations with others concerning that.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-50, An Act to amend the Employment Insurance Act and to increase benefits, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Employment Insurance Act
Government Orders

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Prior to question period, the hon. member for Sarnia—Lambton had the floor in the debate. There are seven and a half minutes remaining in the time allotted for her remarks.

The hon. member for Sarnia—Lambton.

Employment Insurance Act
Government Orders

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

Patricia Davidson Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be able to continue my remarks on Bill C-50, this very important bill that we are proposing which will do even more for long-tenured workers under the EI program.

These Canadians deserve our continued support while the economy recovers. Bill C-50 will provide between 5 and 20 weeks of additional EI regular benefits to unemployed long-tenured workers. It will help Canadians who have worked hard and paid EI premiums for many years and who now find themselves in need of a hand up.

It does not represent permanent change in the duration of EI regular benefits. It is a temporary response to a temporary situation. We think that that is prudent.

What is unfortunate is that the opposition members continue to advocate for the 45-day work year scheme which is both irresponsible and unaffordable. What is worse is that they walked away from the table and away from efforts to help the unemployed.

Now they are playing political games here in the House today, again without taking proposals to the table where these things are usually worked out.

This side of the House is focused on Canada's economic recovery and on helping Canadians come through this rough time. Further to the help we are proposing for Canadians in Bill C-50, we have already taken other measures to help long-tenured workers.

Long-tenured workers who need a transition to a new industry can get help through the career transition assistance initiative introduced in Canada's economic action plan. Through this initiative our government is providing help to long-tenured workers who have been laid off to upgrade their skills. This initiative has two main parts.

First, we have extended the duration of EI regular income benefits for long-tenured workers who participate in long-term training. They can collect benefits for up to two years or 104 weeks. Second, it allows earlier access to EI for long-tenured workers who invest all or part of the money from their severance package in training. Thousands of long-tenured Canadians could benefit from these measures.

We are working with the provinces to help Canadians with this initiative. I would also like to remind the House that while all long-tenured workers are not necessarily older workers, for those who are we have other programs in place to help those older workers.

The targeted initiative for older workers, or TIOW, is not a new initiative. It has been around since 2006 when our government introduced it. It has done a lot to help older workers in this country, and now with the global economic downturn it is needed more than ever.

Through our economic action plan we are investing an additional $60 million over three years in the targeted initiative for older workers to enable people 55 to 64 years of age to get skills upgrading and work experience so they can make the transition to new jobs.

We are doing this because we believe in the skills and experiences of Canada's older workers. We believe they can be retrained and get back into the workforce if they want to continue working.

We are also building on this successful program to extend its reach and scope. The targeted initiative for older workers was designed to meet the needs of people in what we call vulnerable communities; that is, communities with a high rate of unemployment or a high reliance on one employer or industry affected by a significant downsizing or closure.

This year we expanded the number of communities that are eligible for the program to include more cities. Why did we do this? Well, because the recession has been difficult for everyone, but it has been particularly hard on people over 55. In fact, with this change an additional 250 communities could be eligible.

When older workers lose their jobs, we want to help them get back into the workforce as soon as possible. We know it is not easy for an older person to start a new career; however, through TIOW projects unemployed older workers can acquire the skills they need to find and keep new jobs or even start up their own new businesses.

These projects typically offer services such as skills assessment, job search strategies, work experience placements, skills upgrading and income support. This new federal-provincial joint investment will help older workers across the country build their skills and find work.

There are many other success stories from this program. They all involve older workers who had to face a major life change, a change that could have been devastating, but they were able to regroup and retrain for a new career. Thanks to the TIOW, they were able to do that in the company of people their own age. The new funding we are putting into the TIOW will enable more older workers to receive the specialized support they need to make the transition to new jobs. With practical help from the TIOW, older workers can continue to contribute to their communities and to the Canadian economy.

Our government is demonstrating its commitment to supporting all Canadians who are affected by the downturn but especially older workers and long-tenured workers. We do not want an unnecessary election. We want to continue to work to help Canadians. That is what the bill would do. I urge everyone in the House to support Bill C-50.