House of Commons Hansard #131 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was changes.

Topics

Opposition Motion—Employment Insurance
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

François Lapointe Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, clearly, the hon. member did not pay very close attention to what I just said.

The term “reasonable” is not defined and it is unmanageable. In an industry that is seasonal and cyclical by nature, there is no answer. I would like to believe that the members opposite are acting in good faith, but there is no answer.

The example that I gave earlier is unmanageable for entrepreneurs in the regions.

Opposition Motion—Employment Insurance
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, Liberals understand that the changes the government is bringing forward would have a devastating impact on tens of thousands of Canadians. We believe that the government is using the back door to implement these changes in Bill C-38. That is most unfortunate. We should be allowed to have a full, healthy debate in the House on separate bills as opposed to bringing in the changes in Bill C-38 through the back door. That is one point I would appreciate the member's comment on.

The second point is about the uncaring attitude of the government with regard to individuals who, in essence, ensure that industries are viable. They may be seasonal jobs, but they are important too. We need to emphasize that all jobs, even seasonal jobs, are important. The Canadians filling those jobs should be recognized and appreciated for their efforts, not penalized by the government taking action of this nature, which is going to hurt Canadians more.

Opposition Motion—Employment Insurance
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

François Lapointe Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, the member's comments are certainly justified. There has been no consultation. There was a complete lack of consultation. No one can argue with the positive, which is that employment information will be sent out regularly via the Internet. However, 40% of the regions are not connected in some sectors; these are regions where there are a lot of seasonal jobs.

How will this work, then, with a system for which such a fundamental problem was not even considered? There is 40% of the population in a sector that will be unable to take advantage of this so-called service.

Furthermore, I have a hard time believing that, in its current state, the employment insurance program was not even able to manage the extra work in October and November. That was a catastrophe last year. People waited for three months. I do not see how this same service will be able to provide a supposedly new and extraordinary system intended to offer hundreds of jobs that Canadians would have found otherwise. I do not see how. That is not explained anywhere. Is it magic? Surely it is.

Opposition Motion—Employment Insurance
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

Laurin Liu Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, we are in the House to discuss a motion by the official opposition concerning employment insurance.

Our motion essentially asks the Conservative government to abandon its plans to further restrict access to employment insurance. The proposed changes arise from Bill C-38 to implement the budget. In addition to containing no job creation measures and triggering the dismissal of tens of thousands of public servants, the latest Conservative budget tightens access to employment insurance by giving the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development the authority to create new rules to define what constitutes “suitable employment” and “reasonable and customary efforts to obtain suitable employment.” That appears in a budget of more than 400 pages.

Incidentally, the minister refuses to provide all the details of her reform, but is asking us to vote for Bill C-38, which will give her the authority to change the employment insurance plan as she wishes. She is in fact asking us to sign a blank cheque.

We do not have all the details of this reform. However, on May 24, the minister tried to clarify the government's intentions in part, although without disclosing all the details. Essentially, unemployed workers are now more than ever being compelled to find a job outside their area of activity and their area of residence.

We also know that the government will establish three classes of workers based on the frequency with which they file employment insurance claims. After receiving benefits for a certain period of time, unemployed workers will be required to accept lower-paying jobs or else their benefits will be reduced. Frequent claimants, who have filed three or more claims and received more than 60 weeks of benefits in the past five years, will, after a period of time, be required to accept jobs at 70% of their previous earnings. We find those changes unacceptable for a number of reasons.

The main problem with this reform is that it disregards the fact that many businesses operate on a seasonal cycle, particularly those in the tourism, agri-food, forest and other sectors. Seasonal industry makes a major contribution to economic activity. What would Lac-Saint-Jean be without forestry? Where would eastern Quebec be without the fisheries? What would Quebec City and a number of Quebec communities be without the economic contribution of tourists? These industries and the workers who support them contribute to the economic growth of Quebec and the rest of Canada. It is essential that the federal government acknowledge through its programs that these sectors are important and legitimate.

For lack of adequate coverage by the employment insurance program, many workers are abandoning these sectors of activity, leaving business people without skilled workers. For example, Le Quai des Bulles, a Kamouraska business employing a dozen seasonal workers, is afraid it will lose workers as a result of the reform. It is important to understand that 26% of employment insurance claims are filed by seasonal workers, and 30% of those are Quebeckers.

I will be pleased to continue my speech after question period.

Opposition Motion—Employment Insurance
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Barry Devolin Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock, ON

The time provided for the business of supply has expired. We will now move on to statements by members.

King George Public Community School
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Kelly Block Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, SK

Mr. Speaker, this year, King George Public Community School is celebrating its 100th anniversary. The staff and students, together with the community, are kicking off their celebrations with an event at the school this Friday.

King George School was started in 1911 due to a demand for schools for children of new immigrants coming to Canada. Throughout its history, King George School has educated several notable individuals, including Gordie Howe and Art Jones.

An integral part of the school's vision has been to build strong and lasting relationships and is the foundation of its legacy and resilience over time.

Mr. Speaker, I invite you, together with all of my colleagues, to join me in congratulating King George Public Community School on its 100th anniversary.

Regional Development
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Mylène Freeman Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to highlight the importance of entrepreneurship in my riding. Whether they use the co-operative model, as in the case of the Coopérative de solidarité Place du Marché in Ripon, which does great work for local producers, or the corporate model, as in the case of Les Aliments Lebel in Lachute, which is the largest manufacturer of ice cream and frozen desserts in Quebec, entrepreneurs are dedicated people with deep roots in their communities.

However, the Conservatives are slashing programs that help local economic development. By abolishing the co-operative development initiative and making cuts to the Rural and Co-operatives Secretariat, they are attacking an innovative model that thrives on solidarity.

The cuts to the Economic Development Agency of Canada illustrate the Conservatives' lack of interest in our rural entrepreneurs. The Conservatives' economic action consists of making cuts everywhere and any which way.

Retirement Congratulations
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Ron Cannan Kelowna—Lake Country, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I recognize Mr. Doug Owram, retiring deputy vice chancellor and principal of the University of British Columbia Okanagan.

Since joining UBCO in 2006, Doug Owram has done an outstanding job of putting the Okanagan campus on the map and on the road to success. UBCO's motto “A Place of Mind” exemplifies the thoughtful and determined approach necessary to produce well-rounded and able graduates.

A university, though, is more than just a learning institute. It is a place that functions as a critical link in a community's pursuit for growth and prosperity, where ideas become the solutions that will Canada and the world meet the challenges of the future.

It is a daunting task to have a vision and, even more so, to implement it effectively, but this is exactly what Mr. Doug Owram has done, securing UBCO's place as a leader, as an innovator and as a world-class campus of sustainability.

On behalf of all the constituents of Kelowna—Lake Country, I thank Doug for all his contributions to our community. We raise a glass of fine Okanagan wine in his honour and thank him for his leadership and lasting contribution to our community.

HIV-AIDS
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Hedy Fry Vancouver Centre, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to honour an exceptional Canadian researcher, Dr. Julio Montaner, head of the division of AIDS at UBC and director of the British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS.

Dr. Montaner was recently awarded the Grand Decoration of Honour for Services to Austria, given to an individual who has provided outstanding services of public benefit to the country and the world. It cites, “Dr. Montaner's leadership and innovation in HIV and AIDS research has improved the lives of thousands of people in Austria and millions of people throughout the world”.

The award recognizes Dr. Montaner's leadership in promoting a major Canadian scientific discovery: highly active anti-retroviral treatment. HAART reduces the viral load of HIV by the second dose, making it impossible to transmit the disease.

Called “treatment as prevention”, it is hailed by WHO and UNAIDS. Other nations, including China, have implemented it, yet in Canada only British Columbia has done so, resulting in a consistent decline in new HIV cases there, while other provinces show an increase in HIV.

The federal government refuses to meet or acknowledge Dr. Montaner and this significant achievement. Once again, ideology prevails over science. What a shame.

Rocky Mountain House
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Blaine Calkins Wetaskiwin, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to draw attention to the great things happening in and around the community of Rocky Mountain House, Alberta.

This bustling and growing community brings opportunity for all businesses and people looking for employment. There is a robust energy sector with numerous companies that operate in the area. Forestry companies, sawmills and laminated lumber plants keep marching along. Farms and the agricultural sector still contribute greatly to the local economy as people diversity to keep pace.

Tucked close to the eastern slopes of the majestic Rocky Mountains, Rocky is the perfect gateway for outdoor pursuits in the west country. Home to tons of great events and organizations, like the Cow Lake Fish Derby, the Rocky Pro Rodeo, the Canadian Rockies Bluegrass Festival, David Thompson National Historic Site, the bi-annual Rocky air show, Northern Crossing Theatre Group and the Rocky and District Museum, Rocky has something that will pique the interest of people of all ages.

Rocky is also served by a great local media. Listeners can tune in to the always entertaining B94, or read from a gold medal winning newspaper, The Mountaineer , which just won first place in the Canadian Community Newspaper Awards as the best all-around small community weekly paper.

I encourage all Canadians to stop by Rocky Mountain House where adventure begins.

Lou Gehrig's Disease
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

NDP

Paul Dewar Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, imagine people not being able to walk, write, smile, talk, eat and sometimes even breathe on their own and yet their mind remains intact and the senses unaffected. This is what having ALS is like for 2,500 to 3,000 Canadians who live with this disease.

I rise today to acknowledge June as ALS awareness month in Canada. The ALS Society of Canada was founded in 1977. It is the only national voluntary health organization dedicated solely to fight ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease.

As part of ALS Awareness Month, people will gather on Parliament Hill on June 4 to light 3,000 candles, one for every person living with ALS in Canada. Hon. members are invited to a reception on June 5 to learn more about the ALS community's efforts in Canada.

On June 16, participants in the Ottawa Walk for ALS at the Canadian War Museum will raise funds to support research and quality of life for all.

Let us get together and support ALS awareness.

2011 Manitoba Flood
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

James Bezan Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, last week, I again toured areas devastated by the Manitoba floods of 2011 and met with flood victims and municipal leaders.

Flood victims have had to deal with heartache and headache, and do not seem to be any closer to putting this ordeal behind them.

These people were artificially flooded by the province due to the operation of the Assiniboine diversion. Not one drop of water that enters the Assiniboine River naturally flows into Lake Manitoba. Water levels in Lake Manitoba are still high and there are no plans by the provincial government to build an outlet that can accommodate the higher flows.

Our federal government has improved the disaster financial assistance arrangements and advanced $50 million to the Province of Manitoba to help offset the costs of this flood. Economic action plan 2012 also provides $99 million over three years to assist with the cost of permanent flood mitigation.

The Province of Manitoba is the lead agency for operating emergency measures and processing claims, and its slow pace of settling claims for flood victims and municipalities is adding insult to injury.

It is time for the provincial government to show some resolve and come up with actual solutions and not excuses.

Ride to Remember
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

David Sweet Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Westdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, the streets in front of the Hill were buzzing earlier today as motorcycle riders gathered for the 2012 Ride to Remember.

The Ride to Remember was founded in 2005 by Jewish motorcyclists in the U.S. as a way to remember those murdered in the Holocaust and to raise funds for Holocaust education. It has grown into an international event, as today's ceremony on the Hill attests.

Hosted this year by the Toronto motorcycle club, Yidden on Wheels, more than 250 riders from Canada, the U.S., Australia and Israel are participating. Riders from the Christian motorcycle group Mission: M25 have also joined in.

Two hours ago, the bikers departed Parliament HIll en route to Trenton and then on to Toronto in the Heroes Highway Ride to also commemorate our Canadian Forces. In Toronto, they will make the pledge of “Never Again!” at a memorial ceremony on Saturday. This pledge acknowledges and memorializes all of the innocent people, six million of them who were Jews, who were mercilessly exterminated by the vicious Nazi regime during World War II.

The pledge also reminds us to stay vigilant to stamp out the seeds of genocide, anti-Semitism and racial hatred.

Youth
Statements By Members

May 31st, 2012 / 2:05 p.m.

NDP

Ève Péclet La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, we talk a lot about what is in the 2012 budget, but little is said about what is not in it.

I want to talk about those most neglected in this budget, namely our youth, my generation, those who will have to bear the consequences of the changes to employment insurance and to old age security, and of the blatant lack of good faith of the Conservative government.

The NDP believes that the federal government has a role to play in post-secondary education, as it used to do before the drastic cuts in federal transfers to the provinces, made in 1995 by the Liberal government. Education is a pillar of our society. It is a right and it should be accessible to all, so as to provide our youth with all the opportunities that it deserves, as well as a chance to develop its full potential.

The Conservative government talks about job creation, but what about the training of future workers and their debt load? This government has ignored our youth for too long, and to ignore our youth is to ignore our future. I am rising today to be their voice and to tell them to have confidence, because the change will come in three years.

National Health and Fitness Day
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, this Saturday I will launch National Health and Fitness Day in Whistler, West Vancouver and Lions Bay. This annual reminder began as a healthy way in which parliamentarians of all parties meet weekly to run, walk or swim together. We aim to encourage Canadians to aspire to healthier lifestyles.

These activities led to the first ever Bike Day on the Hill and the first ever National Life Jacket and Swim Day on the Hill earlier this month. I salute my colleagues who work together to promote healthy physical activities for all Canadians.

On National Health and Fitness Day, we encourage local governments across Canada to open recreational facilities at a reduced-rate basis to encourage increased participation.

I congratulate all 12 local governments in my riding and other local governments across Canada that have endorsed National Health and Fitness Day.

Parliamentarians, local governments and all Canadians, may we work together to make Canada the fittest nation on earth.