House of Commons Hansard #121 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was years.

Topics

Old Age Security
Private Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Old Age Security
Private Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Old Age Security
Private Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Old Age Security
Private Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

All those opposed will please say nay.

Old Age Security
Private Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Old Age Security
Private Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

In my opinion the nays have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Pursuant to Standing Order 93 the division stands deferred until Wednesday, May 16, immediately before the time provided for private members' business.

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

6:30 p.m.

NDP

Irene Mathyssen London—Fanshawe, ON

Madam Speaker, I rise in the House today to talk about the important employment insurance issues in my riding.

London has been hard hit by the downturn in the economy and the collapse of the auto sector. The manufacturing sector in particular has been devastated in the London region, and it is not just in London. Statistics Canada reports that automotive parts manufacturing lost more than one-quarter of its employees from 2004 to 2008, while motor vehicle manufacturing lost one-fifth. Parts manufacturing saw job numbers go from 139,300 to 98,700, which completely cancelled the strong growth from 1998 to 2004. For their part, motor vehicle manufacturers lost 15,900 jobs between 2004 and 2008 following a rather modest job growth of about 5% from 1998 to 2004.

Canada has lost nearly 400,000 manufacturing jobs since the Conservatives took office in 2006 and we lost over 40,000 manufacturing jobs in the last year alone. We are currently at an historic low in terms of manufacturing jobs, going back to when statistics were first gathered in 1976. I would like to note at this point that this low is quite significant because both our labour force and population have grown significantly over that same period. In other words, there are fewer manufacturing jobs in Canada now than there were in 1976.

In my own community of London, we have been particularly hard hit. The city's manufacturing sector has been shrinking at a rapid rate and the auto sector jobs, as I have mentioned, have all but disappeared. Electro-Motive Diesel was one of those few plants in London offering good jobs. That was in operation as late as December of last year, Those jobs were well-paying jobs that helped support a family and support an entire community. To add insult to injury, the plant is gone now, the jobs have been lost and families have been devastated, and yet orders are rolling in for that same diesel engine that was built at the Oxford Street plant. These orders are coming from Canada but the locomotives will be made in the state of Illinois. It is frustrating to note that the company maintained that it needed $30 million out of workers' pockets to keep the plant open but it spent $38 million to close it and then gave a $15 million bonus to the CEO. The workers in London were left waiting for EI payments to kick in, feeling violated by the company and by their own government.

The members opposite like to talk about job creation and yet no one stood up in defence of the good jobs that we already had at Electro-Motive Diesel, jobs that were shipped across the border.

The only support that remains for these auto workers and EMD workers is employment insurance. With the cuts made to Service Canada, there are fewer front line workers who can process claims in a timely fashion and help my constituents and others struggling to navigate through the system.

These are families just like ours, people who had their income revoked suddenly because their job got shipped to a plant in Indiana.

I will repeat my question of March 7. Why did the Conservatives raise billions of dollars on corporate tax giveaways instead of supporting out of work Canadians and the services they need? Tax cuts, I should add, do not guarantee a single job. I want to know why the government did not help to reinvest in Canada.

6:35 p.m.

Simcoe—Grey
Ontario

Conservative

Kellie Leitch Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development and to the Minister of Labour

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to respond to the member for London—Fanshawe on the layoff situation of Electro-Motive Canada and the support Service Canada is providing.

I can tell the House and Canadians that Service Canada has worked very closely with the union and the workers.

Service Canada officials are helping workers understand how to access employment insurance and are providing the required information and assistance to establish claims.

Our thoughts are with the 465 workers who have been put out of work by the closure of the plant. We are focused on helping the workers make the transition. This means making sure workers, if eligible, receive employment insurance benefits to support them as they seek alternative jobs.

Following the plant closure, the employer advised that a settlement had been reached with the union on the payment of separate monies. The records of employment were delivered to the Service Canada centre and entered within a week of receipt.

I will not get into the details of the settlement other than to say that it includes a lump sum separation payment, a lump sum ratification bonus, wages and vacation pay, and settlement of outstanding grievances.

A dedicated team in Service Canada has been working with laid-off employees on how to separate monies which had been affected by their EI benefits. Individual letters will be sent to each claimant detailing the impact. Service Canada has provided information sessions to the employees and will continue to work with them.

General information on other applicable Government of Canada resources, such as income supports, skills development training and market information, as well as provincial programs and services, are also being provided to the laid-off workers.

I can assure my House of Commons colleagues that Service Canada has the situation under control.

I would like to reiterate that our government is dedicated to helping Canadians get back to work.

6:40 p.m.

NDP

Irene Mathyssen London—Fanshawe, ON

Madam Speaker, I have to say that the hearts that go out do not move my heart. Where was the government when 465 workers were being told to take a 50% cut in pay, to lose their benefits, to lose their pensions?

In terms of Service Canada workers in London, Ontario, they are magnificent. They work hard, they do their job and they are committed to helping people in my community. The problem is that there are not enough of them because too many have been laid off.

It is women in particular who have difficulty accessing EI. Many of them waited weeks to get employment insurance. In terms of women who work part-time or have caregiving obligations, employment insurance is simply not there for them. There are more hurdles to access it than I can begin to describe here. People are left without the money they need. There are too many restrictions and the Conservative government sits and has the audacity to say all is well.

All is not well and it is up to the Conservative government to make amends and fix it.

6:40 p.m.

Conservative

Kellie Leitch Simcoe—Grey, ON

Madam Speaker, Service Canada is working to ensure that those who have been laid off through no fault of their own can have access to the benefits to which they are entitled just as quickly as possible. Service Canada works closely with affected workers when there are massive layoffs. It provides workers with assistance to fill out application forms for EI and ensure documentation, such as records of employment, is available.

Canada has created 690,000 net new jobs since the dark days of the recent recession in July 2009. Canadian businesses continue to create jobs. When it comes to supporting workers, our government has delivered. Through our economic action plan, we have offered a wide range of supports such as extending the targeted initiative for older workers. We have provided unprecedented funding for training through the provinces and territories to help those who have lost their jobs to get the skills they need for new jobs today and tomorrow. I wonder why the NDP continues to not vote for these initiatives.

6:40 p.m.

NDP

Dan Harris Scarborough Southwest, ON

Madam Speaker, on February 17, I rose in this House and asked when the government would finally help Toronto families deal with rising inflation and higher gas prices, and help them to make ends meet.

I asked specifically when the government would come up with a real jobs plan, a plan that would provide jobs to help support families instead of low-wage, part-time jobs many families depend on. The government has not created jobs in Toronto. The people in my riding of Scarborough Southwest know and live it every single day. There are fewer and fewer good jobs in Toronto, and therefore more and more families continue to struggle.

When I asked the question of the government, I received a glib, meaningless, puerile response from the Minister of State for Finance. The citizens of Scarborough Southwest, Torontonians and indeed all Canadians deserve much more respect from the member for Macleod and indeed from any member of cabinet in the Canadian government. This would include the parliamentary secretary actually paying attention to a question when it is being posed to her, which she failed to do last night.

We need the member for Macleod and the whole Conservative government to take the needs of Canadian families seriously. The Conservative government has no jobs plan. Canada is losing quality jobs under the Conservatives. Since the Conservatives took office, we have lost over 400,000 good manufacturing jobs. Since September alone, we have lost 60,000 more full-time jobs.

Unemployment now stands at 1.4 million Canadians and three-quarters of the new jobs created since May 2008 have been part-time. Now with the cuts coming as a result of the recent federal budget, 102,000 more may be added to the ranks of the unemployed.

This is shameful, and the government should indeed be ashamed. Yet the Conservatives are sticking with their failed approach of blind, unconditional tax cuts for profitable corporations. They are not creating jobs. Too many multinational companies are taking their tax breaks and then turning around and shipping good jobs overseas, as the member for London—Fanshawe was mentioning with Caterpillar in London as it closed the 450 job Electro-Motive plant.

New Democrats have a practical, affordable plan to create good, full-time jobs, offering targeted tax credits for new hires, implementing investments to help businesses that create jobs, investing in job-creating infrastructure and ensuring foreign investment keeps good jobs here in Canada.

The job situation is getting worse under the Conservatives, not better. Their policies have failed Canadian workers and failed to create Canadian jobs. Now, the Conservatives have introduced a budget which will do nothing to create jobs but, according to journalist, Don Martin has everything but the kitchen sink in it. Believe me, we have looked at it, and we found the kitchen sink in Bill C-38.

Frankly, the bill is just an end run around accountability and transparency from the very Conservative government that made commitments to govern better than the Liberals and to be accountable to Canadians.

6:45 p.m.

Simcoe—Grey
Ontario

Conservative

Kellie Leitch Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development and to the Minister of Labour

Madam Speaker, I did receive the question for this evening's debate and response. Yesterday, as the member opposite may recognize, the question was surprisingly almost exactly the same as the question this evening that was presented to us.

Surprisingly, I am sure very surprisingly for the member opposite, our position has actually not changed since yesterday evening. I ask the member opposite to refer to that answer. He can have the opportunity to do that, and that will be my comment.

6:45 p.m.

NDP

Dan Harris Scarborough Southwest, ON

Madam Speaker, it would seem that the member wants to refer to an answer that she gave last night when she was not even paying attention while the question was being posed. She was a little busy chatting with a colleague.

The question was about jobs, and the parliamentary secretary got up and gave an answer about early childhood education. Then tonight she says to refer back to that answer.

Has she absolutely no respect for Canadians or for Parliament? I would like the hon. member to give a real answer.

6:45 p.m.

Conservative

Kellie Leitch Simcoe—Grey, ON

Madam Speaker, the question that was posed, I know, was provided to you, and it was the same yesterday evening as it is this evening.

I will answer that question as I did yesterday, but my answer is quite simple. I ask the member opposite to please refer to the answer I provided yesterday in response to his question that he provided to the House.