House of Commons Hansard #137 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was veterans.

Topics

Protection of Insignia of Military Orders, Decorations and Medals Act
Private Members' Business

7:50 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Protection of Insignia of Military Orders, Decorations and Medals Act
Private Members' Business

7:50 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Pursuant to Standing Order 98, a recorded division on the proposed motion stands deferred until Wednesday, March 9, 2011, immediately before the time provided for private members' business.

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

March 2nd, 2011 / 7:50 p.m.

NDP

Tony Martin Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Madam Speaker, I appreciate this opportunity to expand on a question that I have asked the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development in the House on a number of occasions over the last couple of years.

We continue to get answers that are not satisfactory, which indicates that either the minister or the government does not really understand the depth and the breadth of poverty that exists in our country and does not understand that report after report has been delivered by reputable agencies studying these kinds of matters. These reports have been tabled in Ottawa for the federal government to see. Yet the government refuses to acknowledge there is a problem and work with others to do something about it.

A day before I asked that specific question, a report had been by Campaign 2000. It noted that poverty had a direct cost to health care, criminal justice, social services, lost productivity and lost opportunities in our country. The Food Banks of Canada report, which came out only a couple of years ago, indicated that the cost of poverty to the economy of Canada was upwards of $90 billion a year.

All I am asking the government to do is indicate to me, given that six provinces are already moving on their own anti-poverty strategies, what it proposes to do to fix this very glaring and obvious problem and take care of those who it has a fundamental responsibility for, those who are most at risk and marginalized in our communities and across our country.

We have had a further report in the last month or so from Food Banks of Canada called “HungerCount 2010”. The statistics it keeps of who comes in, how many times and who they may be show that, on all accounts, the numbers are up across the board. People are now having to turn to food banks to supplement their dietary needs. No longer are people getting the kind of assistance they need, whether it is through a job or some government program, to feed themselves and their children and to do it in an efficient fashion so they might take advantage of opportunities to better themselves.

We have just been through one of the most difficult recessions I have experienced in my lifetime. Before the recession 2008, we had a significant number of poor people. We have had an onslaught of poor people since then and there are no new programs to directly speak to the specific needs of that group of people. This group of people is growing.

In the middle of all that, we discovered that we now have hundreds of thousands of people, and a lot of them are new immigrants to our country living in places like Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal and cities across the country, who are working full-time, year-round, on minimum wage and who are still living in desperate poverty because there is not enough affordable housing available.

People who have looked at the question of poverty and who have taken the time to look at what we might do to make a huge difference in that area are calling for is a national housing strategy. The Standing Committee on Human Resources tabled a report with the government last June. We are expecting a response by the middle of March.

Could the parliamentary secretary tell us what might be in the government's response that would indicate it understands the depth and the breadth of the problem and will it actually do something about it?

7:55 p.m.

Cypress Hills—Grasslands
Saskatchewan

Conservative

David Anderson Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources and for the Canadian Wheat Board

Madam Speaker, I am happy to speak to this important issue this evening.

Our government is very interested in helping working Canadians and their families. We are very much interested in providing them with a government that facilitates a healthy and growing economy, which, in turn, provides jobs and prosperity to all Canadians. We have a record of action that we will be glad to stand on.

The member opposite and his party have different ideas, obviously, but our Conservative government believes the best way to fight poverty is to get Canadians working. Thanks to the actions we have taken, that is exactly what is happening. Since July 2009, over 460,000 jobs have been created.

We have said these things before but I will gladly say them again. We made unprecedented investments in skills training, which has helped over 1.2 million Canadians just in the last year. It has helped them to transition into new jobs.

We have introduced the working income tax benefit to make work pay for Canadians who are trying to get over the welfare wall. One million low-income Canadians benefited in the first year of that initiative alone and Canadians who need it will continue to benefit from it.

We have introduced the historic registered disability savings plan in order to help Canadians save for the long-term financial security of a child with a disability.

We continue to pursue our low tax plan so that Canadians have more money in their own pockets to spend on what is important to them and to their families and so that businesses can be more productive, create more jobs and hire more Canadians. Provinces now have access to predictable and growing funding from our government as well.

Our actions have helped Canadians. The actions of the member opposite and his party, on the other hand, have not been helpful. They need to become part of the solution.

Where we introduced help for Canadians who are working or looking for work, the NDP and the member opposite voted against that help. Where we helped students through grants, summer jobs, better tax treatment and improved infrastructure, the NDP once again voted against that help.

Where we improved the tax treatment, increased support multiple times and funded stimulus building projects for our seniors, the NDP voted against that as well. The NDP voted against the working income tax benefit, against our universal child care plan, against increasing help to single-earner families and against the RDSP.

The NDP voted against help during the recession for older workers, for long-tenured workers and against expanded work-sharing measures protecting the jobs of over 270,000 Canadian workers. The member opposite and the NDP in this place have proposed reckless and destructive taxes, spending that will stifle job growth, kill existing jobs, repel investment, lower productivity and increase the very problems that the member opposite says that he wants to fix.

Our Conservative government has and will continue to propose actions that will help Canadians, that will lower taxes, that will attract investment, increase productivity, boost job growth and lower poverty. However, all the NDP seems to want to do is vote against that help time and time again. The NDP needs to begin to treat this seriously and not politically.

I would ask the member and his party to, instead, support our Conservative government's plans which are getting Canadians working and helping them become more prosperous. The NDP really should stop voting against these measures. This is how we will successfully address these issues.

8 p.m.

NDP

Tony Martin Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Madam Speaker, we all wish it were as simple as the Conservatives lay it out to be.

We again heard the list of initiatives that the government claims have been put in place to help those who are most at risk and in need in our communities. We in the NDP know from the reports that are coming out subsequent to those initiatives, however minimal they might be, indicate that they are not doing the job, that more people are falling further and further behind and that more people are having to turn to food banks, for example, to supplement their food intake in any given month.

The member suggested in his answer that if we could somehow get more people working and put in place a labour market strategy, that would deal with the many complicated and difficult challenges of those living in poverty. We know that is just not true. It is too simple an approach. It is certainly part of the answer. A comprehensive national anti-poverty strategy is what we should be looking at but it will not do the trick.

I suggested earlier that we are now discovering that literally hundreds of thousands of working men and women in this country, working year round, full time and collecting minimum wage, are still living in poverty and having to turn to food banks for their food. The government needs to and can do better.

There is a report on the table that was approved by all parties in the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities. It needs to look at that—

8 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

The hon. parliamentary secretary.

8 p.m.

Conservative

David Anderson Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Madam Speaker, I hope the member misspoke when he said that he thinks it is too simple that we just create jobs and that is how we help Canadians, because that is exactly how we intend to help Canadians.

Thanks to our Conservative government, more Canadians are working. Hundreds of thousands of Canadian families are paying less in taxes and have more money in their pockets. Vulnerable Canadians are benefiting from the significant investments that we have made in areas like skills training and housing persons with disabilities, among others.

The member opposite and his party have consistently proposed what are clearly fiscally reckless and economically destructive spending and policies that would damage our economy and harm Canadian families in many ways and yet they turn around and consistently vote against measure after measure that our government proposes and ultimately passes to help Canadians and our economy.

Our Conservative government will continue to make investments that make a positive difference in the lives of Canadians and their families. I would urge the member opposite and his party to begin to support those efforts instead of continually opposing them.

8 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 8:04 p.m.)