House of Commons Hansard #23 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was economy.

Topics

Opposition Motion—Canadian Economy
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Wallace Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, obviously, it would be devastating to our economy and to the approach that we have been taking.

We think we have been doing the right thing with our economic action plan. We have made strategic investments that create jobs, not jobs just for today but long-term jobs, and we are creating infrastructure that will support the economic growth of our communities in the long term, not just in the short term.

I will make one last point. The member made a great point when he said that Ontario went through a very terrible time when the NDP were in place. In fact, the NDP leader in Ontario listed all the NDP leaders in the provinces and left out the NDP government in Ontario. That is how bad it is. Its own people do not even like what it did.

Opposition Motion—Canadian Economy
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

NDP

Rathika Sitsabaiesan Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with my hon. colleague, the member for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour.

I am pleased to join with my colleagues today in the House in support of the motion.

The government does a very good job of blowing smoke in mirrors. It totes around this notion that Canada's economy is not suffering and that we are not still experiencing the effects of the economic downturn, meanwhile ignoring the reality facing many Canadians and their families.

Many families in my constituency with whom I am speaking are still having trouble making ends meet. Not only that, but in order to make ends meet, many Canadians are forced to take on two, three or four part-time jobs. Why is this, one might ask? It is because far too many household supporting jobs have been lost and have disappeared. Canadians are being forced to turn to any form of employment that they can secure. These are usually more precarious forms of employment. I know that many of the constituents of Scarborough—Rouge River are burning the candle at both ends.

The current Canadian job market remains weaker than it was before the crisis in October 2008. Unemployment has risen to 7.3%. The proportion of part-time workers and involuntary part-time workers has also risen rapidly. Full-time, permanent, family supporting jobs remain very difficult to find in many areas across the country. The real unemployment rate, which, of course, includes labour force dropouts and involuntary part-time workers, was at 11.1% in July of this year, up from 9.4% in July 2008.

How the government can sit on that side of the House and argue that our economy is recovering fine and that Canadians are doing well is absolutely beyond me.

What is more is that this bleak job market and lack of real opportunity is even worse for Canada's youth. An article that was published in the Globe and Mail earlier this week outlined details from a recent study on Canada's problem with unemployed and under-employed university graduates. These are our best and brightest and yet, this week, when I asked a question in the House about this exact topic, the members opposite did not stand and talk about what they were doing to actually create more jobs and give more opportunity to the most educated in our country. Instead, they stood and spoke about tax credits.

What good is a tax credit if people cannot make enough money to pay any income taxes? This, unfortunately, is the bleak situation facing many of our youth today. They do not have jobs that pay enough for them to pay income taxes. What kind of life is that?

In my riding of Scarborough—Rouge River, the number one issue that I hear at the doorstep of my constituents is jobs, jobs for our youth, jobs for our elderly, jobs. The riding of Scarborough—Rouge River does not have very much to offer in the way of jobs. Unfortunately, the reality for many of my constituents is that they must travel into the downtown core of Toronto for work. From our area, that is a minimum of about a two hour commute each way, which is a four hour commute in a day for many of my constituents. I used to do that myself. This means that people are spending four hours a day on public transport, which means four hours away from their families, an extra four hours a day that their kids must spend in day care or with other support, and four hours where we could be working at our second jobs to earn more income that we are not getting at our first job.

What is worse is that many of my constituents do not work the regular 9 to 5. Many work shifts, overnight or into the wee hours of the morning, and then they must make that two hour trip back home on public transit which, at night time, can be even longer. This becomes an issue of public safety. When members of our families are waiting for buses on our street corners at all hours of the night, this is a huge concern, especially with the continuation of the proposed cuts to these services, especially transit in the greater Toronto area.

Many of the parents with whom I speak are very worried. They are worried about the welfare and the safety of their children. What messages are we sending to our youth when the only jobs available to them are part-time or shift work? What messages are we sending to our university graduates when, after spending years and thousands of dollars on earning a degree, they are forced into jobs that are greatly below their education standard. We know that our university grads are getting jobs at the low end of the income scale. What hope for tomorrow do we give these people?

This is another question I am often asked at the doorsteps of my constituency, unfortunately. My riding is one of the poorest in the GTA and yet many of the families who live in my area are spending their life savings or incurring extra and extreme amounts of debt to send their children to school to get that university degree or college diploma, only to have their children graduate and not be able to find jobs or only find severely underpaid jobs.

What financial risks now face those parents? What hope do they have for retirement? What is the quality of life for them in retirement when they spend all of their life savings on their children's education?

I am also asked about the children and people who forego post-secondary education and enter directly into the workforce to help their families put food on the table. These youths are forced into part-time work, shift work and many times unsafe work, but there is no other option for them. They do this to put food on their families' table.

Many youth in my constituency cannot find work at all, which is very challenging for a community that has the largest youth to population ratio in the entire greater Toronto area. This is a huge problem for me and for the constituents of Scarborough—Rouge River.

What are we saying to these youths who are already marginalized because of their age, their ethnicity, their status in the country and their household income? What are we telling them? Are we telling them that they are not worth planning for? Many of the families in my riding with children and youth in this situation are very worried. I hear this on a weekly basis when I knock the doors.

The government likes to talk about being tough on crime. Why does it not deal with the real root causes of crime? Why not provide our youth with a sense of importance and value? Why not provide them with opportunities like jobs and access to post-secondary education? Why not give them hope and real opportunities?

On this side of the House, we believe that our youth are the future of our great country and that, because of this, we need to provide for our youth. We need to inspire them to be involved. We need to give them the opportunities to be successful, not just set them up to fail, which is, unfortunately, what I am seeing from the other side of the House.

Our youth, our university graduates and our college graduates need jobs. They need real jobs that will help them make ends meet, that will help them support their families and that will help them and their children lead better lives. That is what we, on this side of the House, are fighting for today.

Opposition Motion—Canadian Economy
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the privilege of representing the riding where I was born and raised, beautiful Etobicoke North, and, like the member, our greatest challenge is jobs. We used to rank second in the country for manufacturing but it is disappearing.

In my constituency office, we review covering letters and resumés. We teach job interviewing skills. We help with appropriate work attire. We find people jobs. I was also able to get a new jobs program for the community but it is not enough.

One young valedictorian youth, Dylan Thomas, said, “If you come from the wrong community, rage, rage”. This is not the speech of someone embarking on a new future.

My community wants jobs. What specifically would the member recommend to the government to help our college and university students who have graduated and cannot find work?

Opposition Motion—Canadian Economy
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Rathika Sitsabaiesan Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, that is a very poignant question. Our university and college graduates are not getting good jobs and the government is showing absolutely no leadership in investing in post-secondary education, as well as the follow-through with graduates. That is, unfortunately, that big piece is missing. Just as we invest in the settlement of new immigrants, we need to invest in the method by which graduates will travel through the labour force. That type of investment is not being seen.

In speaking with university and college administrators, they would love that support from the government in order to invest in career and job development for their graduates. Unfortunately, the universities and colleges do not have that type of investment from the government.

Opposition Motion—Canadian Economy
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Jinny Sims Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for a very graphic description of what it is like in communities across Canada. I come from Newton—North Delta and residents in my area face many problems similar to the ones that she articulated so eloquently.

Looking at the government's economic proposals and in listening to members talk about what is happening in their communities, it is very clear to me that there is a need to redress the priorities. Instead of big tax breaks to banks and oil companies, which are making bigger profits than ever, it is time for us to invest in small businesses. How would investments in small businesses help drive the economy in Canada and keep jobs here?

Opposition Motion—Canadian Economy
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Rathika Sitsabaiesan Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, that is a very good question. Our small businesses are the engine behind our economy, especially behind the economic development of our communities. The government wants to give billions of dollars to large corporations that seem to be sending jobs away. It is giving money to corporations that are putting the money in their pockets but not hiring Canadians. They are mostly jobs that our university and college graduates would be able to do. It is the small and medium-sized businesses that are actually investing in and creating jobs in our local communities.

The government is going in the wrong direction. It should not be giving away billions of dollars to companies that are taking jobs and money out of our country. It should be investing in small and medium-sized businesses that are creating jobs in our communities in Canada.

Opposition Motion—Canadian Economy
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

Robert Chisholm Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and speak to this important motion from the opposition, which calls on the government to start taking some action, to pay attention to what is going on in the country and to begin taking some specific action as it relates to the unemployed, to businesses that are struggling and to innovation.

I will take a few minutes to talk about trade because it is extraordinarily important. It is important that the government enter into discussions around trade with its eyes open. My concern is that the government has set itself a quota of trade deals that it has to get. It is going after these trade deals and negotiating them simply to get through them so it can say that it has another trade deal and another notch on its belt. There are some problems with that I am going to get there.

I want to talk about what we are hearing from the government benches. The government members stand and say what a great job they have done with the economic action plan. I was not here in the fall of 2008, but I watched from afar. The Minister of Finance came out after the election with an economic statement that said that everything was great, that we were gliding along perfectly, that people should not pay attention to all the economic turmoil beyond our borders, that everything was fine, that we would sail off into the next couple of years and that we did not need to do anything different. He said that there would not be any spending.

It took a near-death experience for the government. The opposition members came together and said that Canadians recognized that the economy in our country and around the world was in terrible trouble. It was only until they decided they would join forces to bring the government down that the Minister of Finance and the Prime Minister suddenly woke up and said that maybe something was wrong, that maybe they had better do something quickly. They even went to the extraordinary length of proroguing the House in order to avoid the decision of Parliament and also to give time for the Minister of Finance to find himself and recognize that there was some trouble in the U.S. economy and throughout Europe with the economy and maybe he should do something about it.

The Conservatives came up with the economic action plan, and they have been taking credit for that. However, we all know that it was only when members of the opposition threatened to bring the government down, did it recognize it needed to invest in infrastructure spending. Yes, countries around the world have recognized that Canada has done a good job in that respect. However, every time the Minister of Finance stands, he almost breaks his arm as he tries to pat himself on the back and members opposite likewise applaud themselves. I cannot get over the level of hypocrisy coming from those member.

Given what happened three short years ago, it is incumbent upon the opposition to again try to jolt the Minister of Finance and his colleagues to recognize, as Canadians do, that there are serious problems out there. Members on this side talk about unemployment among youth. University graduates are building up greater student debt because of the lack of support from the federal government as is the case with the lack of support for provinces and universities. When they go out to try to prepare themselves for the work world and for the global economy, they find there are no jobs. There are no supports for innovation. There are no specific actions on behalf of the government to support our young people who are taking the time and incurring the debt to prepare themselves by increasing their training.

We have heard members on this side talk about innovation, about how the government needs to recognize the fact that it needs to support activities, ideas and those clusters of innovation that are developing in various parts of the country, to ensure those industries are in a position to not only create jobs, products and services that are innovative and world-class, but so they can then trade with the world. They need support so they can trade and exchange and build the economy of our country.

However, there is nothing. All we hear is the government saying that we may not have as many jobs as we had back in 2008, but we should not worry as Canada is doing better than the United States, Greece or Italy, so it is doing a great job.

The people of Dartmouth—Cole Harbour do not think that is good enough. The people who come to my office, the people who just got out of university and are looking for work, are asking me what the government doing. Seniors who cannot find care and support in homes are wondering why the government has turned its back on them.

I had a meeting just the other day with a 72-year-old senior. He lives in Cole Harbour in subsidized housing in a seniors' complex. He lives on $14,000 a year. The members might remember the debate we had in June about the difficulties of seniors living on such low pensions and the fact that the government was failing those seniors. Here is a guy who has taken it upon himself to try to find a part-time job working as a crossing guard three hours a day, three days a week, protecting children as they cross the street in Cole Harbour. Every dollar he makes is being clawed back. We have a senior who cannot make ends meet because of the paltry pensions that are paid by the government. He is trying to make ends meet but the measures the government brings hold him down.

The reason why we have brought this resolution forward is to take the opportunity to remind the government that the action plan was not its idea. The government was forced into it. It was kicking and screaming at the reality of the fact that it needed to take action. I and members of the opposition are here to once again to say to the government that Canadians need it to act. Canadians need it to start making investments in its communities. Canadians need it not to turn its back on them, not to make phony polls or any of the rest of it on the government's website. They need the government to pay attention to the pain and struggles that people are experiencing in their communities. It needs to deal with the problems of infrastructure of the Champlain Bridge in Montreal.

Those are the realities. Those are the things the government needs to take action on to make a difference, so when the economy does turn around, Canada will be in a better position to move us forward and create the jobs that our young people need.

Opposition Motion—Canadian Economy
Business of Supply
Government Orders

2 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

The period of questions and comments for the hon. member for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour will take place after question period when the House returns to this matter.

Brantford Veterans Memorial
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Phil McColeman Brant, ON

Mr. Speaker, Poland's modern history has been dominated by a burning sense of freedom among its people and to this the world bore witness as hundreds of thousands of Polish soldiers fought bravely alongside Canadians to free Europe from fascism and tyranny during World War II.

The Polish were instrumental to many of the greatest Allied triumphs, including the heroic Battle of Monte Cassino, which paved the way for the Allied to push to Rome. Brantford's Paul Lojko was there, and it was his vision to commemorate his fellow soldiers and Canadian comrades to ensure that their memory lives on.

On September 18 I participated in the culmination of that vision as the Brantford Polish combatants unveiled a new memorial to honour those soldiers and all those who endured hardships. A huge crowd gathered to attend the wonderful unveiling ceremony, making the dedication a very moving and lasting tribute.

It is our duty to never forget the sacrifices of our veterans. We will remember them.

Public Transit
Statements By Members

September 29th, 2011 / 2 p.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow Trinity—Spadina, ON

Mr. Speaker, this morning cities all across Canada had the same problem: too many people watched buses go by or sat for hours in traffic. They were late for work. They were late for school. They wasted hours getting to their jobs while worrying about getting their kids to daycare.

It is happening in all of our cities. It is happening to people with high incomes and to people earning minimum wage. We are falling behind in public transit.

We are the only G8 country without a national public transit strategy, and it is hurting the economy and the environment. We need fast, accessible and affordable public transit in cities large and small across the country.

One could go downtown and ask people on the street if they would rather see a bigger prison or a better transit system. We need to focus on moving people forward, not locking them up.

Let us work together like other countries in the G8. Let us move Canada forward.

Sand Plains Development Fund
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Dave MacKenzie Oxford, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to highlight the great successes of the Sand Plains development fund in my riding of Oxford and across southwestern Ontario. The Sand Plains development fund was created by Canada's current government in August 2008, with a commitment of $15 million to the region. Since its formation, there have been 202 full-time jobs created, 54 part-time jobs created, 119 seasonal jobs and 256 jobs sustained in the southwestern Ontario area.

More specifically, I would like to talk about the biomass project of Canadian Biofuel in my riding of Oxford. It was partially funded through the Sand Plains development fund. The project, located on a former Cargill grain elevator and feed mill facility, will now produce roughly 1,500 tonnes of biomass per month. Low in greenhouse gas emissions, it can be used to heat homes and even supplement coal in generating electricity.

Initially waste wood would be used to make the biomass fuel. However, the company plans to establish a local supply chain of raw materials by encouraging local farmers to grow miscanthus grass.

Users' Rights Week
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Justin Trudeau Papineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, this is the first Quebec health and social services network users' rights week, organized by the Regroupement provincial des comités des usagers. This promotional tool serves to inform users of their rights and to showcase the work being done within health and social services institutions.

Users' rights week gives all those who care about the quality of services in Quebec an opportunity to promote the rights of users and recognize the important work carried out by user and in-patient committees.

The health and social services network is not used only by sick people. It is also used by the worker who is out of a job, the pregnant woman, the young person at a drop-in centre, the person who wants to quit smoking, the person with a disability, the senior citizen living at home with the assistance of outside services. In short, you and I, all Quebeckers, are users.

Royal Regiment of Canada
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Ted Opitz Etobicoke Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Royal Regiment of Canada, a regiment I am proud to have served in for the majority of my time in the military, will commemorate this storied regiment's participation in the Dieppe raid this evening.

On August 19, 1942, the Royals went ashore on Blue Beach, located at Puys. Unfortunately, nothing with that raid went right, and out of the 554 members of the regiment who landed, there were 227 casualties, 136 wounded and 264 POWs. Only 65 returned to England. Many were rescued by Polish naval captain Romuald Nalecz-Tyminski, who later became an admiral.

The plaque to the regiment at Puys reads:

You who are alive on this beach, remember that these men died far from home so that others, here and elsewhere, might freely enjoy life in God's mercy.

I ask all members to rise with me and applaud both the heroism of those brave soldiers of the Royal Regiment of Canada who landed at Dieppe and their regiment's commitment and service to Canada in the past, present and future.

Ready, aye, ready, Mr. Speaker.

Otterburn Boating Club
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

NDP

Matthew Dubé Chambly—Borduas, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to recognize the outstanding performance of the members of the Otterburn Boating Club who won a number of medals and set a new record at the Canadian championships, which were held this summer in Welland, Ontario.

I would like to congratulate Sarah-Jane Caumartin, who won no fewer than seven medals—three gold, three silver and one bronze. I would also like congratulate Marianne Lévêque Brissette on her excellent performance. She won four medals—three gold and one silver.

Sarah-Jane and Marianne set a new record in the junior 1,000 C2 event, beating the old world junior record by 12 seconds. I would also like to congratulate Tasia Gelencser-Smith and Virginie Adam, who both won silver medals.

Their commodore, Daniel Caumartin, their coach, Daniel Bertrand, and all the residents of Chambly—Borduas, including myself, are very proud of these athletes from my riding.

It is therefore an honour for me to recognize the outstanding performance of these young athletes from the Otterburn Boating Club.

Jasper Dark Sky Festival
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Rob Merrifield Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, in the beautiful riding of Yellowhead, something exceptional is going to happen in the month of October. This exceptional thing is the first annual dark sky festival.

In March, Jasper National Park became the world's largest dark sky preserve.

One might ask: what is a dark sky preserve? A dark sky preserve is an area established by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada to promote the visibility of night skies.

The federal government has invested a significant amount of money in our parks, which has created a significant number of jobs as well as an increase in tourism. A record number of Canadians and international tourists enjoyed beautiful Jasper this summer. This is significant to our economy, because tourism adds more to our GDP than agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting all combined. Jasper is an exceptionally beautiful place during the day, but in the evening the skies are breathtakingly beautiful.

Every Canadian should come out to Jasper. All Canadians should experience the beauty for themselves as we celebrate the very first dark sky festival.