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 jobs.

Topics

Opposition Motion--Canadian Economy
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:50 p.m.

NDP

Mike Sullivan York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of the motion presented this morning by my colleague from Parkdale—High Park. I would like to thank her for her excellent work. I represent a riding which is a perfect example of the need for immediate action on the economy. The Conservatives say that they have a jobs plan and that it is working. That is just not true, and is nowhere more evident than in my riding.

The riding was once the proud home to much of the Canadian manufacturing industry. As we have heard this week, Ontario has lost 300,000 manufacturing jobs in the recent years. York South--Weston had: Canadian Cycle and Motor Company; Moffat stoves; McClary appliances; Massey-Harris; de Havilland; Fruehauf; Scott-Woods; Canadian Gypsum; MacMillan Bloedel Limited; A.P. Green; Dominion Bridge Company; Ferranti-Packard; Kodak Canada; Levis; Crosley Radio and Television; Schnier; Carl Austin; Acme Screw and Gear; Pepsi-Cola; and lots more. They are all gone.

Tens of thousands of good manufacturing jobs are now lost. Some companies went out of business, some went elsewhere in Canada and some began manufacturing in the U.S. or overseas to take advantage of cheaper labour. No one in the government did anything to try and stop them. Therefore, with all these jobs lost, what remains are service sector jobs at minimum wage or unemployment.

My riding has 25% higher unemployment than anywhere else in Toronto and Toronto's unemployment is already higher than the national average, currently at 8.9%. Cuts to Service Canada offices in such a needy area will make the difficult task of accessing employment insurance and other services provided by these offices even more so.

In addition, my riding is home to a population which is nearly 60% immigrant and over 10% of the people in my riding are not yet Canadian citizens. Immigrants have a much more difficult time finding work, as language and other barriers are more difficult to climb for them. Recent cuts to immigrant services by the Conservatives has had a devastating impact on settlement service agencies and other community agencies that assist these immigrant populations. Further cuts by the government would make an already intolerable situation much worse.

The government frequently points to its record in infrastructure spending as having successfully reversed the recent recession. It is not so in York South—Weston.

First, there was virtually no infrastructure spending in my riding. Most of the projects were for the city of Toronto to replace some water mains. The total spending was well under $5 million and well under the $50 million spent in Parry Sound—Muskoka. We received perhaps 100 temporary jobs, no permanent infrastructure jobs. That did not make much of a dent in the 7,000 or so people who are currently unemployed in the riding.

The spending spree is over but the problem persists. The unemployed in my riding sometimes are lucky enough to find jobs outside the riding. However, without investment and transit infrastructure, these folks spend as much as four hours each day commuting to work. Plans for a new light rapid transit system were recently shelved and the federal government did not offer any contribution toward its construction.

Here is a great example of where the government could be creating local employment and helping the economy of Canada generally. I have long advocated the use of electric trains for regional rail services in Toronto. The government could both contribute to greenhouse gas reduction and economic development by providing infrastructure funding for electrification of rail services. The current plans for diesel trains, some of the money coming from the federal government, has neighbourhoods angry. Provincial leader Andrea Horwath of the NDP has made electrification of rail services a part of her strategy for carrying Ontario forward. She said:

New Democrats won’t put people’s health at risk by sending dirty diesel trains through people’s backyards. We'll take a new, cleaner, greener approach and use electric trains from the get-go.

We would like to see that part of the strategy for moving Canada forward. Therefore, we continue to have productivity sapping road congestion with no alternative and no vision for one.

The national public transit strategy put forward by my colleague from Trinity—Spadina is a way to encourage the Conservative government to take a more active role in helping build the infrastructure we need and create jobs. Cutting back on public transit funding, if that is part of the upcoming austerity plan, is taking Canada backward.

A huge proportion of the unemployed in the riding are young people. For them, the unemployment rate is significantly higher still. None of the measures put in place by the government has helped them secure family-supporting jobs.

These kids are part of a group that service agencies call “the Mike Harris generation”. They are the kids whose mothers and fathers were punished by the Conservative government in Ontario in 1995 with huge cuts to their support systems. These kids have learned that governments are the enemy, that governments punish them not help them. In desperation, some of these kids turn to criminal activities. The government's answer is to build jails. That way at least part of the social housing crisis would be taken care of.

What is wrong with Conservative economic policies is that they are not forward looking. Steady as she goes, doing the same thing we did last year allows other countries the opportunity to leapfrog over Canada in the race to be on the leading edge of economic growth.

For example, we all know that carbon-based fuels are a finite resource. We are all concerned about air pollution and climate change caused by burning fossil fuels in ever-increasing quantities. We all know that creating and harvesting alternative sources of energy as well as becoming more energy efficient will be important activities for any country to move forward. However, the Conservatives will soon end the energy efficiency credits for homeowners yet they have done nothing to spur investment in green energy technology.

There are huge demands for windmills and solar panels but most are built in other countries. We are not investing in Canadian-made electric trains for regional and long distance service. We should be leading the way. That requires decisive action by the government.

Many of my constituents are seniors living on fixed incomes. Their costs keep rising. They would love to make their homes more energy efficient. The jobs that might be created to do this work would be sorely welcomed in the riding. However, the uncertainty of the assistance available from the government makes this another temporary solution.

I recently met with the president of Greensaver, a Toronto-based energy retrofit company that pioneered the idea of an energy audit to show where savings would be best in a home. It assembled a team of trained workers to install solar water heating systems but had to lay them off when the government assistance dried up. Companies need predictable long-term programs not makeshift temporary plans.

The Conservative government has made quite a few comments about how raising taxes on big businesses would kill jobs. That is not true. We are not asking for a raise in taxes, just to reverse the tax breaks. Tax breaks given to large corporations by the Conservatives have gone directly to increase the profits of those already profitable corporations. They are not creating jobs. In turn, these excess profits are used to line the pockets of the directors and shareholders of these corporations. These tax breaks are not linked to job creation but to increasing profits. If members do not believe me, here is a quote which backs up my assertion:

The Leader of the Opposition has called for an increase in taxes on these very same enterprises from 15% to 19.5%. That means that the after tax profits, which come from these companies and go directly into the pension fund of the workers the member purports to defend, would be reduced.

It does not state that jobs would be lost. Rather, it states that profits would be reduced.

Who said that? It was the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities and for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario.

As my colleague from Beauharnois—Salaberry has stated, the NDP does not wish to raise taxes. We merely wish to reverse the Conservative tax giveaways to already profitable corporations. The government has admitted that its tax giveaways went directly to profit levels not to creating jobs.

Opposition Motion--Canadian Economy
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4 p.m.

Conservative

John Weston West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, BC

Mr. Speaker, yet again my colleague has shown the NDP acerbic skepticism toward profits as though profits were evil. He somehow uses a deft hand to say there is a difference between raising taxes and cancelling taxes that have been previously reduced.

I have a question for the member. Yesterday, the European Commission made a proposal to the 27 member states of the European Union concerning a new measure to tax financial transactions, which would mean that many common financial and banking transactions would be taxed. That is an idea that the NDP has traditionally supported. In fact, the NDP's industry critic and co-chair of the NDP caucus, the member for Burnaby—New Westminster, once introduced a bill to tax financial transactions in Canada.

What does my friend, the member who just spoke, think about that?

Opposition Motion--Canadian Economy
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4 p.m.

NDP

Mike Sullivan York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, the banking industry in Canada is already on very secure footing as the result of years of maintaining regulations.

I know the Conservative government members opposite do not like regulations and would like less government. However, we have a solid banking industry in this country. Part of the reason for that is all parties have resisted attempts by the banking industry to deregulate itself. When the banks wanted to merge we said no.

With regard to the NDP hating profits, that is not the case. We understand that corporations need to be profitable in order to survive. They need to be able to show a return to their investors.

We are concerned that already profitable corporations are being given a handout by the government's reducing the amount of taxes they pay. What happens when the government reduces the taxes that are paid by already profitable corporations? It does not create jobs, as the minister has agreed. It increases their profits and decreases the amount of money available in the Canadian revenue stream, which then increases the pressure on the government to either reduce services to Canadian citizens or to raise personal taxes in order to compensate by an equivalent amount, billions of dollars.

We are opposed to that.

Opposition Motion--Canadian Economy
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:05 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, the member made reference to the manufacturing industry. It is an industry that has been hit in terms of phenomenal numbers, tens of thousands, not only in Ontario but in provinces across the country.

On the policy front, the Conservatives have dropped the ball on the buy America provisions. We encourage the Conservatives to take a stronger stand because this has an impact on our manufacturing industry more than on any other industry across Canada.

Would the member agree that a buy America policy hurts manufacturing jobs? The types of jobs the member referred to involve export to other countries, especially the United States. Therefore, when there is a buy America provision, it prevents consumers from purchasing those items that are important, that generate and create the types of jobs that he is talking about protecting.

Would the member agree that the Conservatives have dropped the ball on that issue?

Opposition Motion--Canadian Economy
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:05 p.m.

NDP

Mike Sullivan York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, I agree that the buy America policy will in fact hurt Canadian jobs.

We have some buy Canada policies, particularly in the provinces. The Liberal government in Ontario has waived that policy for the purchase of diesel trains for the air-rail link in order to buy the trains from Japan.

Opposition Motion--Canadian Economy
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:05 p.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, my colleague spoke earlier about the importance of infrastructure investment. He and I share neighbouring ridings.

Could the member explain how important it is to have infrastructure investment in shovel-ready projects, for example, on clean electric trains in our neighbourhoods so that we do not have diesel trains running throughout our communities?

Opposition Motion--Canadian Economy
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:05 p.m.

NDP

Mike Sullivan York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, the federal government launched a project some years ago to create a corridor through both of our ridings that would carry 464 diesel trains a day.

Both the communities and the community activists have opposed the notion that diesel trains should be the way that these commuters would travel through our riding.

We need action on the part of the federal government to support the creation of an industry that would build these electric trains and insist that this train corridor be serviced by only electric trains.

Opposition Motion--Canadian Economy
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:05 p.m.

Liberal

Massimo Pacetti Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

Mr. Speaker, before I begin my speech, I would like to say that I will be sharing my time with the member for Markham—Unionville.

Throughout the country, growth is slowing down, jobs are being lost and there is record unemployment among youth. A government's main task is to ensure prosperity, not only for our country, but also for every Canadian. No one should be forgotten.

The Prime Minister believes his plan to rebuild our economy is very easy. It involves cutting corporate taxes and reducing the government's role. This means cuts and job losses, but the government should be focusing on preserving and creating jobs.

As the party that put the Canadian economy back on track on the heels of poor Conservative fiscal management, we know what it takes to deal with a debt crisis and a deficit. It takes fiscal discipline along with growth and healthy revenues. In other words, people need to be working.

How do the Conservatives respond to all of this? They cut corporate taxes and the government's role. If you are worried about losing your job, the government thinks it is your problem. If you have already lost your job and cannot find another one, the government thinks it is your fault.

Unlike this government, the Liberals are focusing on policies that ensure prosperity, growth and jobs. We are here to say, as has been said in other eras when unemployment was high and times were tough, that it is the government's responsibility to work with companies, large or small, to increase business opportunities, give hope, and provide more opportunities for change and development.

Canada's economic prosperity has always depended on strong international trade. Under the Conservative government, Canada is now seriously lagging behind on the international scene. A significant rise in job creation will not come without a serious effort focused on international trade.

Canada's trade deficit with the rest of the world was $753 million in July 2011. That was our fifth consecutive month with a trade deficit. Since January 2009, Canada has only had nine months of trade surpluses, but 22 months of trade deficits.

The Conservatives' failure to act has led to a contraction of the Canadian economy at a time when we simply cannot afford it. Our real gross domestic product fell by 0.1% in the second quarter. This latest decline in the GDP is a good indication of the ineffectiveness of the Conservative plan, which focuses too much on corporate handouts that are not reinvested, instead of focusing on Canadians and their needs, such as job creation, education, professional training and health care.

Young people are especially affected by the government's failures and its inaction when it comes to the things that matter the most. Statistics on the high youth unemployment rate this summer prove that this government did nothing to create the jobs students needed precisely when they were trying to save money for the upcoming school year.

This summer, for instance, the average unemployment rate for students aged 15 to 24 was 17.2%, up from 16.9% in the summer of 2010. As a point of comparison, the unemployment rate in the summers from 2006 to 2008 was below 14%.

Another sector that suffered this summer was tourism, which this Conservative government consistently neglected. Worse still, this government even made decisions that were extremely detrimental to the tourism industry. We are already going through very tough economic times, and the Canadian industry cannot survive if this government brings in policies that undermine entrepreneurs.

From eliminating the GST visitor’s rebate, to hiking the air travellers’ security tax by 55% for foreign flights, to refusing to send a Canadian pavilion to Expo 2012, this government has done nothing but hurt Canada’s tourism Industry. Foreign tourism is a very lucrative source of revenue on which the various levels of government in Canada and hundreds of Canadian communities rely, and those communities deserve federal leadership to help bring tourists to our shores.

But the Conservatives' attack on employment extends far beyond tourism and young people. Small businesses have also been completely ignored by the Conservative government. Small and medium-sized business owners and municipal leaders are absolutely shocked that Canada will not have a presence in South Korea for Expo 2012, when South Korea is such an important trade partner for Canada. Our 2010 Expo pavilion in Shanghai saw over 6.4 million visitors and facilitated 46 high-level business meetings that generated many agreements and partnerships.

The Conservatives prefer to ignore all that because making cuts is more important to them than maintaining and creating jobs. The lack of skilled workers, the need for more investment in infrastructure and the increasing burden of red tape are a constant source of frustration for small business owners. The only thing holding a number of them back from expanding is that they cannot find the skilled labour they need. What is more, after three years of promising to cut red tape, all this government has done is conduct another study. We need measures right now because Canadians need jobs right now.

Since this government is more concerned with its ideological beliefs than the needs of Canadians, it is not surprising that the Conservatives have completely shirked their responsibilities in a number of recent developments with our trade partners, which could have an adverse effect on Canadian businesses and workers.

The government was asleep at the switch when President Obama announced the provisions of his “Buy American” policy in his economic recovery plan earlier this month. It was taken by surprise even though, in two speeches before the bill was tabled, the President clearly indicated where his administration was headed. The so-called exemption for Canada in 2009 was clearly ignored in the $400 billion plan proposed by President Obama. The consequences for Canada will be serious and the Conservatives' incompetence in this matter is unacceptable.

With the “Buy American” policy promoting the purchase of American products, country-of-origin labelling for agri-food products, and the Canada-U.S. tax treaty, Canadian interests have been systematically ignored by the Americans and the Conservative government has not done its job.

It is high time to focus on what is important: jobs. No miracle will save Canada from the troubling economic situation in which it finds itself. The government must invest in people, in our infrastructure, and in our capacity for research and development. The government must invest in helping needy Canadians rather than wasting taxpayers' money on punitive laws that will not make our streets safer and on fighter jets that Canadians do not need.

Opposition Motion--Canadian Economy
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

NDP

Anne-Marie Day Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate the hon. member on his speech.

The labour market is currently weaker than it was before the October 2008 crisis. The number of full- and part-time workers who are looking for full-time work has increased very rapidly. Quality, full-time jobs that allow families to make a living are very hard to find in many regions of the country.

Can the hon. member tell us how things are going in his riding?

Opposition Motion--Canadian Economy
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Massimo Pacetti Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

Mr. Speaker, at the beginning of my speech, I gave some figures that showed that the unemployment rate across Canada has increased. In my riding, things are no different. A good full-time salary is not the same thing as a part-time one. If the full-time salary is not good, the part-time one is not going to be either. This is affecting people across the country.

In my riding in eastern Montreal, we definitely have problems. People are working two or three jobs and are still not earning as much as they did at their regular job. We spoke today about jobs that were lost in the manufacturing industry—an important industry—and that have not been recovered.

Opposition Motion--Canadian Economy
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

Saint Boniface
Manitoba

Conservative

Shelly Glover Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague across the way for all that he has done in the House as a collaborative member. I make note of this because we had a very good relationship when the member was vice-chair of the finance committee. In fact, I miss our work together. It was enjoyable and very satisfying work.

I want to bring to his attention today that my parliamentary secretary assistant, Sarah Pendlebury, is moving on and taking on a new adventure at Frontier College. I wanted to let him know, because we are talking about the economy and finance, that a valued member of our team is leaving and I want to give him the opportunity to respond to that, knowing that he had such a good relationship with all of us.

Opposition Motion--Canadian Economy
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:20 p.m.

Liberal

Massimo Pacetti Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I think that is the easiest question I have ever had and I cannot answer it. I thank the parliamentary secretary for her compliments. She is doing a great job and it as a result I think also of her assistants. It is unfortunate that one of her assistants is leaving. Hopefully, she will be replacing that assistant and not adding somebody else to the unemployment line. I am encouraging her to perhaps hire two or three and, hopefully, one of them will be a Quebecker.

I thank the member once again for her good words. I hope to be back on the finance committee sooner than later.

Opposition Motion--Canadian Economy
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:20 p.m.

NDP

Hélène LeBlanc LaSalle—Émard, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would also like to thank the hon. member for the speech he just gave. Since I myself am also a member for the Montreal region, I would like to know what solutions he proposes to stimulate job creation in his riding in eastern Montreal in particular, as well as across the island of Montreal.

What sectors would he promote? What solutions does he propose to stimulate job creation?

Opposition Motion--Canadian Economy
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:20 p.m.

Liberal

Massimo Pacetti Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

Mr. Speaker, in Montreal, there are no fences separating the ridings. Someone may live in one riding and work or go to school in another.

I said that we must invest in education and work with the Government of Quebec. In my riding, the La TOHU organization offers jobs only to people who live in Saint-Michel. From time to time, the people from the organization ask for assistance from Service Canada, not because they need help to provide jobs, but because they are providing services to get young people off the streets. That is one example.

For every dollar they receive from Service Canada, for every dollar invested by the Government of Canada, they can raise $4, $5 or even up to $10. But this summer, the government cut its programs, not by 10% or 20%, but by 100%. It was very hard for them.

That is one of the ways in which the Government of Canada could work with young people who live in Montreal.

Opposition Motion--Canadian Economy
Business of Supply
Government Orders

September 29th, 2011 / 4:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

It is my duty, pursuant to Standing Order 38, to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Cardigan, Canada Revenue Agency; the hon. member for Sudbury, The Economy; the hon. member for Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, Search and Rescue.

Resuming debate, the hon. member for Markham—Unionville.