House of Commons Hansard #14 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was jobs.

Topics

Aboriginal Healing Foundation
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

NDP

Irene Mathyssen London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, I too have a petition signed by many Canadians on behalf of the healing projects, like the program in my city of London, Ontario, At^lohsa Family Healing Services.

As we know, the Government of Canada is planning to end the Aboriginal Healing Foundation as of March 31, 2010. This foundation helps support aboriginal people in building and reinforcing sustainable healing processes to address the legacy of the sexual abuse at residential schools.

As my colleague has pointed out, 10 years is not enough. The process of healing is a lifetime Issue. These programs and this particular foundation need extra time. The petitioners implore the government to please leave a true legacy of action to end the pain and suffering that has been experienced because of the reality of residential schools.

Air Passengers' Bill of Rights
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present two petitions today.

The first one, signed by dozens of Canadians, calls on Parliament to adopt Canada's first air passengers' bill of rights. Bill C-310 would compensate air passengers with all Canadian carriers, including charters, anywhere they fly. The bill would provide compensation for overbooked flights, cancelled flights and long tarmac delays. It would address issues such as late and misplaced bags and would require all-inclusive pricing by airlines in their advertising.

The legislation has been in effect in Europe for five years. Why should Air Canada passengers receive better treatment in Europe than when they are flying in Canada?

The airlines would have to inform passengers of their flight changes, either delays or cancellations. The new rules would be posted in airports and airlines would have to inform passengers of their rights and the process to file for compensation. If the airlines follow the rules, it would cost them nothing.

The petitioners call on the government to support Bill C-310 that would introduce Canada's first air passengers' bill of rights.

Earthquake in Chile
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, the second petition is signed by Canadians calling on the government to match funds personally donated by the citizens of Canada for the victims of the earthquake in Chile.

On February 27, 2010, an 8.8 magnitude earthquake occurred in southern Chile. The community has mobilized. It held fundraising events in Winnipeg on Saturday, March 6, and in Toronto as well. By the way, $10,000 was raised in Winnipeg on March 6. This past Saturday, March 20, at the University of Manitoba over 1,000 people turned out for a fundraiser.

When will the Prime Minister give the same treatment to the earthquake victims in Chile as he did for the victims of the earthquake in Haiti, and match funds personally donated by Canadians to help the victims of the earthquake in Chile?

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed consideration of the motion for an address to Her Excellency the Governor General in reply to her speech at the opening of the session, of the amendment and of the amendment to the amendment.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Thunder Bay--Superior North had the floor before question period and he has almost six minutes left in the time allotted for his remarks. I therefore call upon the hon. member for Thunder Bay--Superior North.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

3:10 p.m.

NDP

Bruce Hyer Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

Mr. Speaker, let us talk about employment insurance. According to the government's own figures, every dollar that is invested in EI, $1.70 is sparked in economic activity, so why is so little being done to fix EI?

The government has so far ignored the NDP motion passed last year in this very House to make EI eligibility fairer and end the two-week waiting period. As a result, most of the unemployed in northern Ontario and across Canada still do not qualify for the employment insurance they paid for.

Much worse, the government is hiking EI premiums after this year. This is just a tax on work by another name. This will take $19 billion right out of the pockets of workers and employers alike. It is a job killer and it is a killer of gross domestic product.

I would ask the government to heed what the New Democrats have been asking for, to extend the freeze on EI premium hikes until the $57 billion historical debt, some would call it theft, owed to employers and workers has been paid back. It is Canadians' money paid into EI. They have already paid and paid, and they should not need to suffer huge payroll tax hikes as well.

Let us talk about pensions. With so many Canadians still out of work and seniors worried about their financial security, the pension crisis requires urgent action by the government. Here again it has failed to respond. Yes, there was a seniors day announced, and a re-announcement of plans for public consultations on pensions, which went nowhere, but that is it. There was nothing to help workers at AbitibiBowater, who had their pensions on the line. There was nothing to help workers when their companies went under.

The government could have taken up NDP ideas such as expanding the CPP and increasing the guaranteed income supplement to lift seniors out of poverty, but it has not.

The Canadian Association of Retired Persons said:

In the end all CARP members got from this budget are some nice words and the promise of more consultation.

Let us talk about fair taxation, or maybe we should call it unfair taxation. Federal spending goes up by $22 billion this year, to a record $280 billion. This will be a record deficit of $58 billion. The government is dreaming in Technicolor about its deficit reduction estimates, as the Parliamentary Budget Officer and many economists have indicated.

This is a tax and spend government if there ever was one. The government is engineering a huge tax shift from large corporations onto the middle class, onto low income earners, onto workers, and onto small corporations. Workers and employers will be saddled with $19 billion in payroll tax hikes and the government is still insisting that Ontarians and British Columbians pay for the harmonized sales tax, which was in this budget. It shifts the tax burden right onto the people who can afford it the least.

While it is taxing Canadians, the government is actually bragging about having the lowest corporate tax rate in the western world, and going lower as indicated on page 48 of the budget, chart 3.1.1. It is already roughly half that of the United States. Slightly lower might make a little sense, but why the huge difference? It is a blatant corporate tax grab, something we cannot afford right now, especially given the last 10 years, where the figures show clearly that tax cuts to big corporations have not resulted in investments or jobs, and the money has flowed to the United States or tax shelters in the Caribbean.

The government's own figures show that for every dollar of expenditure on tax cuts to big corporations, the good economic multipliers that provide stimulus are infrastructure, which sparks $1.60 in GDP growth per dollar; housing, which yields $1.50 per dollar; and spending a loonie on the unemployed gives $1.70 back. The bad investments for each buck are EI premiums at 60¢ on the dollar spent and broad corporate tax cuts, which the government's own figures show bring back only 10¢ to 30¢ to domestic growth, and the other money flows out, as per a table on page 281.

More numbers highlight how much of a tax shift the government is planning quite deliberately. Over the next four years, personal tax revenues are expected to increase by $42 billion, plus $8 billion more coming from GST. That is an increase of $50 billion from citizens versus only $10 billion from corporate taxes, five times the tax increase over the next four years from citizens as opposed to large corporations.

Canadians are concerned about the environment and there was little in this budget for the environment, except talk and inactivity. We have no national standards for drinking water quality. Canadians were expecting to see real action by the government. Instead, what they got were distractions and bafflegab. Instead of real vision and leadership, they got tinkering with the words to O Canada.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Simms Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, NL

Mr. Speaker, my colleague mentioned the issue of pensions, which I agree is going to be in a grave situation over the next little while. It certainly will be when it comes to our CPP and guaranteed income supplement and OAS, but also from a private point of view and the security of our current pensions, especially those of direct benefit in nature.

I bring that up because he has the same issue that I have. The pensions at AbitibiBowater were devalued last year by 30%. There has been somewhat of a recovery, but nonetheless they are still devalued at this particular juncture. As the company is in bankruptcy proceedings, I would like him to comment on what the federal government can do to get involved in this particular situation and why this Speech from the Throne sheds absolutely no light on the issue of pension security.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

3:20 p.m.

NDP

Bruce Hyer Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member knows, under Conservative and Liberal governments, for decades we have not fixed the antiquated bankruptcy laws in Canada. It is high time that the House passes the kind of legislation that has been put forward by NDP members again and again, which is to pay workers first in the case of failures by companies rather than big banks and other creditors.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

3:20 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, the member made reference to the state of the forestry industry in his constituency and this country. I know he is certainly aware of the private member's bill by the member for Manicouagan. Bill C-429 promotes the use of wood when building, maintaining and repairing federal buildings.

We know that legislation was passed in British Columbia last fall. I think another province is considering or has considered or may even have passed legislation. This member understands the industry very well. How big a contribution could legislation like this make to the long-term viability of the forestry industry? How many jobs could we be looking at if governments were to bring in legislation like this, both at the federal and provincial levels across the country?

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

3:20 p.m.

NDP

Bruce Hyer Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

Mr. Speaker, enhancing the value-added products that our forestry industry can produce would not only sequester carbon and create jobs, but also think about what we could be doing right now in places like Haiti if we had ready, resting on the docks of Thunder Bay and the docks of other timber-producing countries, prefab housing for places around the world that suffer natural disasters.

We would come closer to meeting our target of 0.7% of our gross domestic product for aid to foreign countries, create jobs, sequester carbon and see our Canadian flag once again being greeted and welcomed around the world, instead of the disrepair into which it has fallen over the last four years.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

Stephen Woodworth Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I know my friend always puts his heart into everything he says in this place. However, I was interested in what he had to say about EI. I know from reading the budget that over $4 billion has been injected by budget 2010 into enhancing EI benefits and training opportunities to get workers from current challenges toward future prosperity.

That includes continuing the five weeks of extra benefits; longer benefits for long-tenured workers; lower thresholds and longer timeframes for work-sharing, which are saving jobs across the country; and more money for training unemployed youth, aboriginals and the pathways to education program.

I would like to know why my hon. colleague and his party did not support these measures in the economic action plan and voted against them again in budget 2010.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

3:20 p.m.

NDP

Bruce Hyer Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

Mr. Speaker, a partial answer is that these are very small steps toward a lofty goal. Unfortunately, as the hon. member knows, the government of former Prime Minister Paul Martin hoisted $57 billion in moneys contributed by workers and corporations across Canada and moved it into general revenues to appear to balance the budget, and appeared to be heroes in doing so.

My party and I are quite concerned when we look at the projections over the next four years, particularly the new worker tax to be imposed on companies and workers across Canada, which will kill jobs and productivity and is the worst possible investment in our GDP