House of Commons Hansard #118 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was jobs.

Topics

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

6:20 p.m.

Conservative

James Lunney Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, I know the member is a new member in the House. Some of us were here through three minority parliaments on our way to the present majority government situation. We advanced and discussed many of these issues over the previous five years of minority government.

The economic situation worldwide demands that we move ahead on a number of projects that were held up in minority parliaments. Many of these issues have been debated for years. It is time to move ahead and to get Canada's economy moving. It is time to keep jobs going at a time of economic recovery and to keep moving in the right direction. It is time to move beyond the stimulus measures of the previous two budgets to balancing our budgets.

That is what our government is doing: keeping an eye on the ball, an eye on the economy and an eye on what is happening worldwide. Our government is advancing international trade and making sure that we create the jobs that will keep Canadians employed.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

6:20 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, I basically disagree with everything the member for Nanaimo—Alberni gave in his response to that last question, because he is just talking foolishness. However, I do respect my colleague a lot. He and I sat on the fisheries committee for many years, and I know he is very concerned about the fisheries.

Therefore, I ask him this: given the number of changes to fisheries and environment in this 425-page budget implementation bill that will change 70 pieces of legislation, does he, as a former member of the fisheries committee, really think that giving limited debate—and mainly to the finance committee—is fair to the fishermen and to the provinces concerned about fisheries? Does he think that the impact of basically transferring that responsibility from the feds to the provinces is really fair and does justice to this piece of legislation?

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

Conservative

James Lunney Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, indeed I remember the years when the member was chair of the fisheries committee. Actually, in those days he was pretty collegial, for the most part, on fisheries issues. Members from coast to coast have a focus on trying to do what is right for their communities.

However, the member would also know that the Fisheries Act that we deal with in the House is one of the oldest pieces of legislation still in existence. It goes back to 1868. There are all kinds of provisions in there. There are definitions that are outdated. The authorities are not established. For example, aquaculture was not even considered in those days, so the act desperately needs to be updated.

The changes we are introducing will bring reasonable change that will keep the focus on the kinds of water resources that impact the fish that are important to our communities economically. These changes will take the effort off highway people who are trying to replace a culvert or do a little repair on a bridge or a farmer who is trying to drain his flooded land, as has happened recently in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu.

That is what these changes are about. It is time to move ahead.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member opposite for his speech today. He is a great colleague. I know he has spent a large amount of his time here developing expertise in innovation, specifically in medical innovation.

This budget supports the provinces, as he said in his speech. It supports education, the social transfer and health transfers. However, he also brought up Genome Canada and the important funding that is part of that.

Could the member also explain to me as a new member what that kind of support to research means, not only to science but also to the people across this country?

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

Conservative

James Lunney Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, our government has been promoting science and technology and being competitive on the world stage through the last number of budgets. It is a knowledge-based economy that drives our economy and gives us an economic advantage. The investments in Genome Canada offer great promise for moving ahead on a number of important issues and understanding how biology works. We are hopeful that it will lead to great opportunities for Canada and for the Canadian Foundation for Innovation, investments that help stimulate the kinds of improvements that will keep Canadian businesses competitive and leading the world.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

Before I invite the hon. member Burnaby—Douglas to resume debate, I will let him know he will have about two and a half minutes, and then I will need to interrupt him.

The hon. member for Burnaby—Douglas.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

May 7th, 2012 / 6:25 p.m.

NDP

Kennedy Stewart Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am here to speak today about Bill C-38, the budget implementation act. This enormous omnibus bill is a disservice to the House and to Canadians.

Many parts of this huge bill are of concern to my constituents, but one in particular is of concern to them. It is with regard to the changes to the environmental assessment process. To refresh everyone's memory, the Kinder Morgan company currently owns and operates an oil pipeline that transports 300,000 barrels of oil per day between Edmonton and Burnaby. Most of my constituents tolerate this existing pipeline. It supplies oil and gasoline to metro Vancouver and keeps the local refinery in business. They tolerate it because they are not hypocrites; they use oil and support the local supply chain.

However, Kinder Morgan has just formally produced a new proposal to build a new heavy crude oil pipeline to transport 550,000 barrels per day along the existing pipeline route. This will not serve the local population. This will ship oil in raw form by tanker to foreign countries, bring almost 400 new giant oil supertankers to the Burrard Inlet and require massive dredging beneath the Second Narrows Bridge.

It will build a new pipeline along the existing route, which runs through extremely densely populated areas, including Burnaby, Port Moody, Coquitlam, Surrey, Langley, Abbotsford, Kamloops and many other urban centres.

I have walked this route, and much of it goes by shopping malls, housing co-ops, public parks, schools, modest homes and million-dollar mansions. There is a 30-metre right of way required by the National Energy Board, and a 60-metre safety zone. Members can picture a trench as wide as a highway going through many of these urban centres.

More worryingly, the National Energy Board can expropriate lands, and many people in my riding are fearful that they are going to be forced from their homes, schools and community amenities. In fact, the uncertainty surrounding this proposal is already causing property values to drop along this line. These concerns are real. Thousands of local residents oppose this pipeline, and they have contacted me to discuss these changes.

If we turn to the proposals in this giant budget bill, we see that the changes to the Environmental Assessment Act mean that there may not even be public consultation under this act. It is up to the discretion of the minister. Even if there is consultation, it would be limited to 24 months, and then, after the consultation, the minister could simply ignore it.

I urge the government to clarify what its intentions are with specific reference to the Kinder Morgan proposal and I ask it to withdraw it and debate it on a separate occasion.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

6:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

The hon. member for Burnaby—Douglas will have seven minutes remaining for his speech when the House next debates this bill and, of course, the usual five minutes for questions and comments.

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

6:30 p.m.

NDP

Andrew Cash Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise in the House tonight to speak to an issue that is very important in my riding of Davenport in Toronto and, in fact, an issue of importance right across the country, and that is public transit.

Canada is the only G7 and OECD country to not have a national transit strategy. The government likes to tell Canadians that it is a prudent fiscal manager but at every turn it seems to miss the opportunity to actually support the economy.

In terms of public transit, we are at a tipping point in terms of the investments that need to be made in public transit. The Canadian Urban Transit Association estimates that public transit faces about an $18 billion gap in infrastructure needs over the next few years. Through the great work of the member of Parliament for Trinity—Spadina, we have long called for a national transit strategy.

This national transit strategy would provide some level of predictability when it comes to transit funding. What happens now is that the municipalities, the transit authorities and the TTC, for example, can perhaps entice the federal government into investing in a capital project. Of course, when the government invests in a capital project, it gets to cut a ribbon.

What is really vital is an investment in the operating costs of transit. What we are seeing right now in municipalities right across the country is a greater share of the overall budget for municipal transit coming from the fare box. Toronto's transit budget has one of the highest percentages coming from the fare box of any municipality in North America. This is a system that really needs some federal attention.

A national public transit strategy makes sound economic sense. We know that businesses like to set up close to good public transit. We know that good public transit is good for the economy and good for the environment. It makes sense for families. It is a pro-transit mode. Increasingly, it is not just big cities, it is suburban municipalities and small towns that are in desperate need of a greater investment and greater attention to this very serious and important issue that we are dealing with right across the country.

6:35 p.m.

Saint Boniface
Manitoba

Conservative

Shelly Glover Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to be in the House again to answer a question by my hon. colleague across the way.

Investments in public transit by our Conservative government have reached unprecedented levels since 2006. Through the building Canada plan and the economic action plan, our government is supporting infrastructure priorities in communities across the country.

Our government has been very clear that we will continue to be a supportive partner of our cities but we know that municipalities are best situated to identify their needs and assess their infrastructure priorities. We will not infringe on provincial or municipal jurisdiction and begin telling our cities what their local infrastructure priorities are. Instead, we will provide predictable and long-term investments for municipalities to use for their own planning and priorities.

In the greater Toronto area, these investments are supporting significant undertakings that are contributing to economic growth and strong communities and that will provide residents and commuters with improved transit options.

An example is the extension of the Spadina subway line north from Downsview Station to the Vaughan Corporate Centre in York region. This 8.6 kilometre expansion will include six subway stations, including a station at York University and a station to provide connections to GO train services. The construction is already under way for this project that benefits from a federal funding contribution of up to $697 million. The building Canada fund commitment for this project is, by far, the largest contribution to a single project.

A second example is the important revitalization project under way for Union Station. Supported by a federal commitment of up to $133 million, this project comprises a series of improvements such as enhancing pedestrian circulation and concourse capacity, maintaining the heritage aspects of the station and extending downtown Toronto's underground pedestrian network.

Those are only two examples. The cornerstone program of the economic action plan, that $4 billion of infrastructure stimulus fund, supported a total of 32 public transit projects in the GTA with federal investments of more than $100 million.

Examples of projects include work at the Dufferin Station as part of Toronto's subway station modernization program and the expansion of the Burlington's transit operations centre. In total, the federal commitment toward the expansion and renewal of public transit infrastructure in the GTA is an amount of over $1.36 billion.

This government also understands the importance of having a predictable source of infrastructure funding that municipalities can count on now and in the future. As such, the gas tax fund is now a permanent source of long-term sustainable funding providing annual funding of $2 billion to Canadian municipalities. Since 2006, the municipalities of the GTA have used close to $700 million of their federal gas tax fund allocation toward transit investments.

Taken together, these federal investments represent unprecedented support for our provincial and municipal partners in their efforts to ensure residents of the GTA have safe, reliable and efficient public transit. I would hope that the member across the way would take this into consideration as he talks about the commitment made by this government because it truly is unprecedented and deserves at least a little bit of credit from the member opposite.

6:35 p.m.

NDP

Andrew Cash Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is too late in the day for credit but I will say that I do not dispute any of what my hon. colleague has said. However, I do want to underline that she is talking about apples and I am talking about oranges.

I understand the investment in capital projects but I am talking about the operating costs, which is where we get into a bit of a sticky wicket. For example, when we build and spend money on a subway extension as the member described, where is the plan to afford to run the system?

This is why we need a national public transit strategy. We need to coordinate these things so that when the federal government decides to invest, along with its partners, the provinces and municipalities, in a large transit infrastructure project, all three levels of government understand how we will maintain it and run it. This is the great missing piece right now in our transit puzzle.

6:40 p.m.

Conservative

Shelly Glover Saint Boniface, MB

Mr. Speaker, I understand that my colleague from the NDP is new to the House and perhaps he has not had an opportunity to learn about jurisdictional responsibilities. Unfortunately, he does not understand that the jurisdictional responsibilities that he speaks to lies squarely in other jurisdictions and not in the federal jurisdiction.

However, the federal government has been very supportive and has made unprecedented levels of investment in transit systems in recent years.

Since 2006, our government has committed close to $5 billion for public transit projects through its infrastructure programs. This federal funding has leveraged investments of over $7 billion from other funding partners in transit systems across the country.

In addition, as I said before, the federal gas tax fund is providing significant stable and dedicated funding for municipalities that provides direct financial support to environmentally sustainable municipal infrastructure projects, including transit infrastructure.

I could continue on and on with the wonderful investments made by this federal government but, unfortunately, my time is up. I hope the member opposite has time to learn about jurisdictional differences and responsibilities.

6:40 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to bring to the chamber again a concern about job cuts at Service Canada. People who have lost their jobs and have been waiting for up to eight weeks for EI benefits will now see further disservice with the cuts in these processing jobs.

What compounds the problem is that the government has now made a bold statement indicating that it will reduce the turnaround time for labour market opinions so companies can bring in temporary foreign workers. Right now it takes about 120 days to process an LMO. These LMOs will be turned around in 10 days.

Therefore, Canadians who are out of work and who deserve benefits will be put aside so we can take workers in from other countries. Resources will be put toward workers from other countries so that the LMOs can be turned around in 10 days as opposed to 120 days. The government is focusing on that.

The Conservatives have indicated that changes will be made to the EI system. If a job opportunity becomes available, a person receiving benefits must take that job. For example, substitute teachers who are receiving benefits in anticipation of the upcoming year must take a job cutting lettuce in a farmer's field or baiting trawl on a wharf somewhere if such a job becomes available. Those teachers will need to take those jobs as opposed to receiving benefits while waiting for the upcoming year to start.

The government has indicated that front end services will not be touched, that only the back end operations will be touched. It is great to go to a restaurant and have somebody wait on us but we will be waiting a long time if there is nobody in the kitchen preparing the meal.

That is what we are faced with here. The government is saying that the front end will not be touched, and it is saying that with respect to veterans, EI processing and Service Canada positions. That seems to be the line coming out of the government's talking points.

I think members can sense my point. If we cut off the back end, it will not matter how good the front end might be because people will be hurt and it will be people on EI who deserve benefits but are not getting their claims processed on time.

Could the parliamentary secretary tell me where the resources to process those EI claims will come from? Will those Service Canada people be in competition with the people who will be providing labour market opinions? Will they be in competition with people who are trying to deliver on these new EI changes? Where will the resources come from?

6:45 p.m.

Saint Boniface
Manitoba

Conservative

Shelly Glover Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, my colleague opposite talks about where resources are coming from. This government has ensured that we have put into place resources that can handle the services required by Canadians in a variety of areas. When he talks about EI changes or immigration changes, for example, these are the exact places where the government has looked to find inefficiencies and waste, so we can better use the money the taxpayers provide this government with to provide those services, so the services are going to be there to provide Canadians with what they need.

However, as I listen to my hon. colleague it is so disappointing to hear the Liberal Party. When those members talk about job numbers, they twist the job numbers and talk down to Canadian workers in a way that is really offensive to them.

The economy of Canada is doing well. As I listen to my colleague, for whom I have tremendous respect, when we talk about job numbers it is important to know the facts, so I will present some facts for him.

In recent years, Canada, like the rest of the world, was impacted by the worst global recession since World War II, and our economy has been stronger than all other countries in the G7. With the assistance of our Conservative government's economic action plan, Canada has created nearly 700,000 net new jobs since July 2009. This is the strongest growth in employment among all G7 countries. Ninety per cent of those nearly 700,000 jobs have been full-time positions and more than three-quarters of them have been in the private sector employment regions.

In March alone, I should point out that Canada created an incredible 80,000 net new jobs. Those job numbers were so positive that even the Canadian Labour Congress, which is not traditionally an ally of our Conservative government, was forced to applaud them. It said, “We are very pleased to see that the number of full-time jobs increased in March”. One would hope that the Liberal Party of Canada could show the same type of positivity as the Canadian economy grows stronger.

Looking back to 2006 when our Conservative government first took office, the picture gets even better. Since that time, employment in Canada has increased by more than 1.1 million jobs. That is more than one million more Canadians working today than under the former Liberal government. Again, despite the constant bashing by the Liberals, Canada has had the strongest performance of any G7 country since 2006, and the list just goes on.

On economic growth, both the IMF and OECD forecast that we will have among the strongest economic growth in the G7 in the years ahead. On our financial sector, the World Economic Forum has for the fourth straight year rated our banking system the absolute best in the world. On our fiscal situation, Canada has and will continue to have by far the lowest total government debt-to-GDP ratio in the entire G7, based on IMF projections. On fiscal and economic fundamentals, Canada's credit rating is, bar none, one of the best. Moody's, Fitch and Standard & Poor's have affirmed that Canada, unlike numerous other countries, has the highest possible rating by major agencies on our competitiveness, while Forbes, the influential business magazine, ranked Canada as the best country in the world for businesses to grow and create jobs, due primarily to our low-tax plan for Canadian businesses.

What we are not going to do is what is suggested by the Liberal Party: raise corporate taxes, put more increases into CPP, enforce a carbon tax and have an EI 45-day work year. These are things Canadians cannot tolerate and cannot afford and would put our country into some dire straits. We will not do that, and I would hope that our Liberal colleague would listen to some of these benefits and perhaps support us on them as we create more and more jobs.