House of Commons Hansard #59 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was amendments.

Topics

International Trade
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Abbotsford
B.C.

Conservative

Ed Fast Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Mississauga—Streetsville for his hard work on behalf of his constituents and the province of Ontario.

The member understands that removing barriers at the border will create jobs and economic growth. But it does beg the question of why the NDP member for Windsor West and the NDP trade critic are blocking our initiative to keep goods moving across Canada's largest trade corridor. It simply drives home the fact that the NDP is not yet ready for prime time.

Service Canada
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, unfortunately, that is still quite a bad answer.

Today is December 2. It is snowing. It is beautiful. Children are happy. Walking through the corridors of Parliament this morning, I saw a lot of fir trees. There were little ones, medium-sized ones, big ones, with balls and lights and the whole thing. But my problem this morning is not that there are so many little trees here, it is that in Quebec, in the offices of Service Canada, there are none. They cannot have them thanks to a brilliant directive they have received.

Why do the Conservatives want to rob Service Canada employees of the magic of Christmas? What do they have against celebrating Christmas?

Service Canada
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk
Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, we like Christmas, of course, and there is no national directive at Service Canada about Christmas decorations. In fact, there are decorations in the department’s offices in Gatineau.

We have wonderful Christmas decorations over there. They brighten our spirits. They brighten the place up. We like Christmas.

Service Canada
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Some hon. members

Merry Christmas!

Service Canada
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

Order, please. I never thought I would hear Merry Christmas used as a heckle.

Service Canada
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, if there are no national directives, there is a very clear Quebec directive in any case.

It is not just the employees who are deprived of the magic of Christmas in their workplace. The Conservatives also want to deprive hundreds of members of the public of these annual festivities.

By banning any decorations in public areas and in workspaces accessible to clientele”, they are taking away the little joy that sometimes accompanies the too long hours spent waiting in Service Canada offices because there is not enough staff.

One question is bothering me. Did the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development ask the Minister of Justice to include last-minute amendments in Bill C-10 to impose minimum sentences on everyone who dares to celebrate the Christmas holiday?

Service Canada
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk
Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, we have a very long tradition of celebrating Christmas in Canada. Just last night, when the lights on the Parliament buildings were turned on, the Prime Minister of Canada wished everyone a Merry Christmas.

War of 1812 Celebrations
Oral Questions

December 2nd, 2011 / 11:45 a.m.

NDP

Tyrone Benskin Jeanne-Le Ber, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages showed once again that this government is incapable of keeping its spending in check.

Celebrations for the War of 1812 will now cost three times more than planned. One would think it was the President of the Treasury Board drafting the budget.

Could the minister explain what happened between mid-October and December 1 to triple the costs?

War of 1812 Celebrations
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Oak Ridges—Markham
Ontario

Conservative

Paul Calandra Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, let me just begin by saying that I will be celebrating my second annual Christmas concert in my riding with local talent. I hope the hon. member might have a chance to come and take a look at some of the spectacular Christmas talent that we have.

With respect to that story, of course the story he is referring to is false. We will be celebrating and commemorating the War of 1812 because it is an extraordinarily important event in Canadian history. The cost is $28 million over four years. I hope that the hon. member and the NDP will join with us in celebrating all the things that we have to be proud of as a country.

War of 1812 Celebrations
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

NDP

Tyrone Benskin Jeanne-Le Ber, QC

Mr. Speaker, then I guess he needs to speak to his minister. In less than two months costs have already more than tripled.

What is the final price tag going to be for Canadian families? Canadians deserve to know the real costs, not “around $70 million”. That is simply unacceptable.

Why, in a time of economic crisis and with 19,000 more jobs lost, does the government believe that spending $12 million on military re-enactment is appropriate?

War of 1812 Celebrations
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Oak Ridges—Markham
Ontario

Conservative

Paul Calandra Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, again, we have committed $28 million over four years. We are going to be celebrating Canada and celebrating one of the most important events in Canadian history. It is one of the things that led to this country being as great as it is. It is one of the events that helped make sure that the French factor in Canada is protected. It is one of the things that helped lead us to Confederation.

We will never apologize for celebrating what has made this the best country in the world in which to live. I only hope that the NDP members will, for once, think of why this country is so great, think about why it is that they are sitting in this place, and join with us and the thousands of Canadians who will celebrate this event.

Service Canada
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, under the guise of finding efficiencies, the minister responsible for Service Canada has carved the guts out of her department. Part-time and casual workers are long gone and nearly 90 permanent employees who have left since July have not been replaced. Add to the backlog of calls that are already there 18,600 new unemployed Canadians this month, and we get a sense as to the backlog of work and the demand on Service Canada workers.

However, this minister has the gall to blame the workers. It is not the workers at Service Canada, it is the management, or should I say the mismanagement. When is someone on the government bench going to wake up and--

Service Canada
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

The hon. Minister of Human Resources.

Service Canada
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk
Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, our goal is to help get benefits to Canadians in need just as quickly as possible. To do that, we are overhauling the system. We are automating where we can, so that people can get more accurate service more quickly. We are doing everything we can to help the good employees at Service Canada fulfill their jobs and help Canadians in their time of need.

Service Canada
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, as Dr. Phil would say, “How is that going for you”?

The call centre industry that is driven by productivity has a standard of 85% occupancy. Occupancy is when an agent is actually on the phone, engaged with a phone call.

At Service Canada it has been for quite some time at 99%. The people at the other end of the phone, the clients, they are not there trying to upgrade their cable package or order a pizza. They are looking for a cheque. They want to feed their families. They want to pay their bills.

However, the mismanagement we have seen at Service Canada is denying them the money that is their money—