House of Commons Hansard #138 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was c-38.

Topics

Report Stage
Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

11:05 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, the member made a valid point.

It was interesting to note that when the Minister of Finance appeared at the finance committee and he was asked about the components that apply to natural resources, he said it was not his responsibility. In defending the budget, the Minister of Finance was not able to respond to components of the budget that were included in the omnibus budget because they were not within his purview.

My colleague addressed one of the major concerns that has been identified throughout this debate this evening, and that is that there has just been so much rammed into the budget. This could have been eight different bills and they still would have been big bills to deal with.

Report Stage
Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

11:05 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to give my hon. friend some data. In 2008 the climate change performance index ranked Canada 56th of 57 countries in terms of tackling emissions. In 2009 the Conference Board of Canada ranked Canada 15th of 17 wealthy industrialized nations on environmental performance. I could give 2010 and 2011 data that is similar.

The hon. Thomas Sidden has repeatedly voiced concerns regarding Bill C-38. He said the government is totally watering down and emasculating the Fisheries Act. The government is making Swiss cheese out of it.

I am wondering if the hon. member could comment on the Conservatives' repeated failing grade on the environment.

Report Stage
Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

11:05 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, one thing I can say with great certainty is that is the first time I have ever been asked a question by somebody who won a Nobel Prize. It is very similar to the question that has been asked by my NDP colleague.

If one can throw enough in, if one can slough enough off, then one does not have to answer the tough questions. One does not have to get into any kind of detail. One views the issues from 36,000 feet. If one lumps enough in, that is going to be the end result. That is what we are seeing in this case.

Whether we want to talk about the fishery or the environment, the state of the water or the state of our oceans, they are all connected to the health of the resource. As they are masked inside this legislation, it does all of those sectors a great disservice.

Report Stage
Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

11:05 p.m.

NDP

Fin Donnelly New Westminster—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, we know how much is in this bill. Up to 70 bills would be changed by this omnibus bill. It would change the face of the country.

The hon. member spoke about the effects on the Fisheries Act. I am wondering if he could briefly talk about the kind of consultation that happened either in his riding or in Atlantic Canada or even across the country on the specific changes to section 35, which is fundamental to the protection of fish habitat, which is the trigger for environmental reviews.

Report Stage
Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

11:05 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, my colleague and I spent some time together on the fisheries and oceans committee. He knows that would have been the place for any changes in the fishery.

The Conservatives had said in 2008 that they wanted to bring forward a new fisheries act. When my colleague from Halifax was Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, he was charged with the same responsibility. Now that there is a majority government, this would be the time to do that, bring it to the fisheries committee and deal with those issues, but in a budget bill? No, we are hurting the people it impacts most.

Report Stage
Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

11:10 p.m.

Conservative

Ed Komarnicki Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, it is certainly a privilege to speak with respect to the bill. I think it is important to note that it strikes the right balance with respect to supporting economic growth, job creation, restoring the balance and returning to a deficit reduction plan that would bring us to balance over a number of years.

The economic action plan is really a number of strategies, a number of steps that, taken together, would accomplish a couple of things. First, they would ensure that our economy continues to expand and jobs are preserved and continue to grow.

It is an opportunity for Canadians to enjoy economic prosperity at a time when the economies of the world are experiencing significant pressures and challenges.

The delay tactics on the part of the opposition, the rhetoric, the steps to try to delete all the clauses, are really not improving the legislation; rather they are just tactics to delay for the sake of delaying.

In addition to growing jobs, we can continue to grow our economy by ensuring a number of projects, mining projects, oil and gas recovery programs and indeed responsible resource development take place. When that happens, of course jobs are created and people have the opportunity to advance in their skills and training and to enjoy the economy that follows from that.

Many in the resource sector, including the Saskatchewan Mining Association and others, have concerns regarding the regulatory process for approval of new projects. If a project is delayed because of the regulatory process, needless to say there would be fewer jobs. Streamlining the process would speed up the process, eliminate duplication that results in a lot of time being consumed and of course a lot of money being spent. Overlapping between the provincial and the federal processes has cost both time and money.

Part 3 of the budget 2012 deals exclusively with responsible resource development and the government's plan to modernize Canada's regulatory system. The measures would make regulatory reviews for major projects more predictable and timely. It would reduce the regulatory burden, the duplication, while at the same time strengthening environmental protection.

Time limits are set for assessments. Co-operation with jurisdictions would be enabled through powers to delegate an environmental assessment, or part of it, the substitution of the process, to another jurisdiction or recognition of a provincial process as equivalent for a specific project.

Emerging markets around the world have provided Canada with a tremendous opportunity to responsibly develop our abundant natural resources for the benefit of all Canadians. Much of it is in the northern part of Canada. It is where we find many aboriginal people reside and where they need the employment, the skills training and upgrading.

In 2010 natural resource sectors employed more than 760,000 workers in communities throughout the country. In the next 10 years, more than 500 major economic projects representing over $500 billion in new investments are planned right across Canada. Fixed timelines would create certainty and predictability for business, which would lead to good, well-paying and skilled jobs for Canadians.

In order to ensure our economy continues to grow, we have to be sure we have the human resources. In my travels with the human resource committee, we found that there are labour shortages in high-demand occupations across the country in the skilled trades as well as labour shortages in the lower skilled positions, especially in the service industry, the food industry, the hotel and hospitality industry, in agriculture and aquaculture as well.

We need not only to increase the opportunities to develop our resources but also to ensure that we have the right human resources to meet the national demands of industry.

We have found in all regions of the country, Halifax, St. John's, Sydney, Vancouver, Fort McMurray and my home town of Estevan as well as Weyburn and other areas in Souris—Moose Mountain, that business is finding it difficult to meet their labour needs.

We can all agree that to the extent possible we need to ensure we start early in our schools to emphasize the skills and trades to our youth, to use the regional community colleges to adapt to industry and in partnership with industry, to do the proper programming and training to provide the individuals needed for the job.

There are other additional steps that can be taken, and this budget document does that. First, we have taken steps to improve the employment insurance program. It is one of the single largest labour market programs that we have, providing income replacement to help individuals and their families, as well as training and other labour market supports to help Canadians return to employment. By agreement with the provinces, $1.9 billion would be spent on skills training and upgrading to ensure that Canadians have the skills they need to advance in their positions and to have the jobs that are available. The budget has targeted common sense changes to the EI program to make it more efficient, a program that will promote job creation, remove disincentives to work, support unemployed Canadians and quickly connect Canadians to jobs.

If people are able to improve themselves by finding a job that provides more income than what they can receive on EI, that is, 90% of what they used to make, and is in line with their skills and abilities, then of course they should be able to take that particular job. It may be that if they advance they do not go back to their old job, but that is the nature of how the economy works.

Economic action plan 2012 also proposes $21 million over two years to connect unemployed Canadians with jobs. Matching workers with available jobs is critical to supporting economic growth and productivity. So if money is going to be spent on good labour market information, if we can provide information on what jobs are available and people are able to access them, everybody would win in that situation: the employer, the economy and the worker. The steps taken here certainly aim to ensure that the content and timeliness of job and labour market information provided to Canadians searching for work is up to date, informational and available to them.

Additionally, the steps would ensure that if people do take a job, they would be able to retain their working wage in addition to their EI to a greater extent than before. What this would do is ensure that those who wish to work can work.

Notwithstanding all of that, we find that with the economy going forward as it is, as a result of the steps we have taken in numerous budgets, people are drawn to higher-paying jobs in the mining industry or government sector and are upwardly mobile. That is a good thing.

Employers in the service industry, including in the fast food and hospitality industries, find they have a difficult time getting employees. So we have enhanced the temporary foreign worker program. We have taken steps in this budget to ensure that the process would be more efficient with less paperwork and be more responsive to employers so they can fill those needs. If businesses and communities want to grow, they expect the service industry to be in step with them. This budget would provide the ability to do that.

In addition, notwithstanding anything that is done, notwithstanding the improvements to the EI system and all of the other processes that try to ensure that our labour needs are met within the country, there are certain skill sets that are not met and must be met by immigration. Steps would be taken in this budget to ensure that immigration is streamlined and flexible and that we can get the skilled people that this country needs to grow, as quickly as possible. Any step we can take in that regard is a positive one. We would get the best skilled people who are out there to meet our demands.

In addition, we would take steps to deal with foreign credentials. When those people come to our country, it takes time to have their credentials recognized. We would enhance our programming and our funding to ensure that people in certain categories can have their credentials assessed within one year. We have expanded those categories twice now and would do so again under this particular budget to ensure that the process can happen quickly. We would ensure that there would be funding or loans provided to people so that they could enhance their skills quickly. Everybody would win by that. They would win by having a better job with higher pay, and we would win by the fact that they would be able to provide a service.

All of these steps are to be taken together and are strategic to ensure that our economy continues to go forward and work well, notwithstanding what is happening in the rest of the world. These are all positive actions. We should get behind them and support them.

Report Stage
Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

11:20 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to my colleague's speech. He mentioned that within the environmental assessment laws, which are to be gutted and mangled by this bill, there would be provisions for the transfer of environmental assessments to provincial regimes where equivalency is available.

In this world of environmental assessment where there are ever increasing projects and lesser land, air and water available, one of the most critical issues within an environmental assessment is cumulative impact assessment, namely how to assess projects in relation to other projects in similar regions.

I know that the legislation the government has brought forward still contains cumulative impact assessments. However, interestingly enough, there is only one province that has this within its purview. Therefore, equivalency in environmental assessment in this country for some of the more critical issues is really not very strong between what exists in the provinces and what is required under federal legislation.

Does my colleague think that in Ontario, which lacks cumulative impact assessment, projects conducted under its provincial legislation rather than federal legislation would be invalid?

Report Stage
Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

11:20 p.m.

Conservative

Ed Komarnicki Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, the point the member is missing is the aim of ensuring there is no duplication, that there is no repetition of the same thing over a long period of time, with a number of people trying to get to the same conclusion. The bill would ensure that there is a proper assessment done and that it is done at one level. In order for a province to have an equivalency agreement, it would have to meet certain standards. Of course, if there are no such standards in the province, then they would proceed with the federal standards.

Industry has complained about the slowness of the process and the fact that it is overlapping, dealing with the same issues in two jurisdictions between federal and provincial processes. That has cost industry a lot of time, money and delays in projects for no particular good outcome. The bill would streamline that process, but not by way of compromising the end result; it would ensure that the end result is every bit as good, and better.

Report Stage
Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

11:20 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, during the subcommittee hearings reviewing part 3 of Bill C-38, Ms. Rachel Forbes, staff counsel for West Coast Environmental Law, said that she did not believe that the proposed amendments and the new legislation as currently drafted would accomplish any of the government's four pillars, namely, more predictable and timely reviews, less duplication in reviewing projects, strong environmental protection, and enhanced consultation with aboriginal peoples, but might actually hinder them.

My question is, what are the projected costs of the repeal of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act to the provinces and territories?

Report Stage
Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

11:20 p.m.

Conservative

Ed Komarnicki Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, at this instant I cannot provide the projected costs or savings, because I am not aware of them. However, I know that people who have testified before our committee, many of them in the chemical industry in Saskatchewan and others who are planning to do extensions to projects and so on, have found that project delays and the cost associated with those have happened for no better reason than duplication and the process involved.

Notwithstanding what that particular witness may have said, there are other witnesses who take a much different position. The Saskatchewan Mining Association has appeared at a number of committees, including recently in Estevan, Saskatchewan during a hearing, where it said that this needed to be addressed if we wanted to be sure that we proceeded with our economy while at the same time protecting the environment. The cost of not doing so would run into the millions of dollars, and the loss of many jobs and the continued economic prosperity of Canadians.

Report Stage
Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

June 11th, 2012 / 11:25 p.m.

NDP

Robert Chisholm Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to get up and speak for a few moments this evening about this important piece of legislation.

I am somewhat confused by the responses of the members opposite when they say a couple of things. They say that this is common sense way to deal with a number of problems, by introducing an omnibus bill that changes 70 important pieces of legislation; it is a common sense approach to dealing with important matters; it is simply a way of growing the economy, creating jobs and moving the country forward; and that a lot of the changes they have introduced in the legislation are important changes that will benefit the country, and that they are very proud of them.

What I cannot get over is, if that in fact is the case, then why do they not take some time to consider each one of those changes? For example, when we look at the changes to the employment insurance system contained in the bill, none other than the four Atlantic premiers have come out in the last few days and said they have very serious concerns about the proposed changes. They have not been consulted and would like to examine those changes.

We have talked a lot in the House over the past number of weeks about the changes to the Fisheries Act. Contrary to what one member opposite said, many of us have looked at the bill, examined the changes that have been made and have listened to a number of experts who have considered what the impact will be. As recently as this afternoon, the Great Lakes Fishery Commission came before our fisheries committee to talk about invasive species. They spoke to a resolution that had been passed and forwarded to the Prime Minister and the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans by the advisory committee to that commission, asking that the government engage in further consultation on the changes to the Fisheries Act, and failing that, that the government recognizes that the definition of fisheries habitat it has used is completely and utterly inadequate. They suggested different language in order to do that.

That does not sound to me as if the people who are affected by the legislation are understanding or being supportive of these changes. Therefore, what is confusing me and confusing many Canadians who are being directly affected by the legislation is that if government members are as proud as they say they are about the changes they are trying to implement, why do they not take time to talk with Canadians about what they are proposing to do and make sure that everyone is on board?

Unfortunately, what we have seen over the past number of weeks is the government hell bent on getting the legislation through. It is trying to prevent Canadians actually seeing what is in the bill and understanding what is here.

The member before me spoke glowingly about the changes to EI, the changes to the temporary foreign workers program, and the changes to the Fair Wages and Hours Act and how this was going to help employees. What they are doing with those three changes alone is driving down the wages of working people in our country so they will not be able to afford to purchase goods and services in our communities. How in the name of heaven is that supporting the economy in Atlantic Canada or in the member's own constituency? I would like him to give that some consideration.

I was on the subcommittee of the Standing Committee on Finance that considered Bill C-38, the 70 pieces of legislation that were being affected, and we had only 14 hours to do that.

We had 14 hours to consider the employment insurance changes and the Fisheries Act changes. The Canadian Environmental Assessment Act would be completely repealed and replaced in Bill C-38. We had 14 hours to examine and to listen to representations by Canadian experts, by people who would be directly affected by this legislation. These people came before us and told us what they thought about it. They told us how the bill would affect them and the issues that they are interested in. They brought their expertise before us. It was revealing. I learned a great deal from both those who supported the legislation and those who were opposed to the legislation.

However, what concerned me the most, as a parliamentarian and as someone who has some experience in legislation, in dealing with these matters, was the dismissive way that many of these witnesses were dealt with. I was disgusted, frankly. Members opposite, members of the government side, challenged anyone who raised any questions. They treated them poorly. In fact, if we look at the subcommittee's report that was tabled in this House when the finance committee reported back to this House, we will see a report that is nowhere near reflective of the testimony that we heard in those 14 hours.

Let me give an example. The Grand Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, Chief Atleo, came before our committee. He told us in no uncertain terms how upset he and his people were. They had not been consulted, the government had completely ignored the duty to accommodate and the duty to consult that has been reaffirmed in Supreme Court decisions over the past 20 years. The changes being proposed in a number of pieces of legislation do not consider the role that the first nations play in this country. It would create extraordinary hardship and extraordinary damage to many of the things that the first nations people in this country hold dear.

Do members see that sentiment reflected in the subcommittee's report? Not a word. Grand Chief Atleo's testimony is not even referred to once in the subcommittee's report. How can that be? We are talking about the Assembly of First Nations that represents over 600 first nations communities in this country, first nations that have rights, treaty rights, constitutional rights that have been defined by and confirmed by the Supreme Court. His testimony and the concerns of the first nations people in this country are not even reflected once in that report.

Members opposite are laughing. They think this is a great joke. But let me say that as a member of this chamber, I am thoroughly embarrassed and disgusted with the way that this matter has been handled. It is so disrespectful of the people who have taken their time to come before us to provide testimony. It is as though, if anyone disagrees with the current government, whether it is a member of the National Round Table on the Environment and on the Economy, or Grand Chief Shawn Atleo or members who came before us today of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, or anyone who has any objection with the government, the members will shout them down, they will rule them out, they will not include them in their reports. It is shameful behaviour. I am telling members that Canadians are paying attention and they are not going to stand for this. They are not going to stand being railroaded by the government.

Report Stage
Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

11:35 p.m.

Calgary Centre-North
Alberta

Conservative

Michelle Rempel Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, the member opposite spoke about the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy. I had the opportunity to be with the environment critic for the NDP on a television panel earlier this month. When asked by the host if she could name a report that she has used or found useful from the national round table that did not involve a carbon tax, she could not name one. Could my colleague opposite do so?

Report Stage
Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

11:35 p.m.

NDP

Robert Chisholm Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, the member who asked the question clearly did not pay any attention to what I spent 10 minutes talking about, nor did she spend a whole lot of time paying attention to the representations in the subcommittee. In fact, when anybody was at all critical of her government, the member went out of her way to abuse and disrespect people who made representations. Frankly, she performed in a manner that is below contempt, as far as I am concerned, for a member of Parliament. I was completely and utterly discouraged and disgusted by that behaviour.

Report Stage
Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

11:35 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, I will give my colleague an opportunity to further elaborate on a question he asked today in the House with regard to a very important measure that looks like it is going to be taken away from lobster fishermen, in the Atlantic region at least. A group of fishermen has sacrificed over the last number of years to make sure their industry is sustainable. Now the minister is blowing the whole thing up. I know he is looking at doing away with fleet separation and owner operators, the principles of the fishery that have long served it. It looks like this is another measure, but in the process is destabilizing the conservation and long-term stability of the fishery. I would like my colleague to comment on the question he asked today and the significance of this measure being taken by the government.

Report Stage
Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

11:35 p.m.

NDP

Robert Chisholm Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, my colleague is absolutely right. We are dealing with changes to the Fisheries Act in Bill C-38 that would have a very detrimental impact. At the same time, people in the fishery are also being hit as the Department of Fisheries and Oceans makes serious cuts. The latest one we have learned about is that the department is no longer going to issue tags for lobster traps. Therefore, there will be no way to keep track of whether people are fishing legally or illegally. This will fly in the face of all the conservation efforts and attempts to control that the fishermen have been engaged in for so many years.

Let me say in conclusion that his colleague, the member for Etobicoke North, sat with me and colleagues on this side night after night as we listened to representations in the subcommittee. I know that she has as many concerns as I do with the way those witnesses were being dealt with.