House of Commons Hansard #139 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was fisheries.

Topics

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

9:15 p.m.

Oshawa
Ontario

Conservative

Colin Carrie Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I want to challenge my colleague on some of the facts in her speech.

She talked about health care “cuts” in the budget. The fact is that when we started, we transferred $19 billion to the provinces. With the agreements we have in place, that will be going up to $40 billion. According to something called mathematics, when a program is continually added to and augmented, that is not called a “cut”. I would like to ask her if she realizes that the 2004 accord does end in 2014, that each year there is going to be more and more money given to the provinces for their health care needs and that we have continued it with a minimum of 3% each year after that until the end of the agreement.

I would like her to explain to the House of Commons how this NDP math works. Clearly there is an augmentation every single year, and she is able to call that a “cut”. Could she explain that to the Canadian people?

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

9:15 p.m.

NDP

Djaouida Sellah Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague opposite for the question.

We work together on the Standing Committee on Health. He knows very well that, starting in 2016, his government's increase will not be applied in the same way it is today.

As for the math, I would say to him that the Conservatives did the calculations and are not giving the real figures. Afterwards, there will be a difference because transfers will be based on GDP.

We know that our health care system is already fragile. If we factor in Canadians' longevity, the burden will be even greater. The government should think about that now instead of making cuts.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

9:15 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I recently attended an inaugural CARP meeting in Etobicoke, where over 300 people attended who were worried about OAS and health issues.

I would like to ask the member this: if the government really believes our aging population is a problem, why does it not recognize, for example, that dementia is an increasing concern in terms of health care and health economics? In 25 years, we will be looking at costs of $153 billion and someone being diagnosed once every two minutes. The reason for not acting, I think, is that developing and implementing a nationwide dementia plan would be a cost.

Does the government want to save money on the backs of Canadians to break its record deficit?

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

9:20 p.m.

NDP

Djaouida Sellah Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my Liberal colleague.

I had the opportunity to work with her on the Standing Committee on Health and I noticed that we have the same concerns about Canadians' health. I will repeat what she said at the end of her question.

Everyone knows that living longer leads to many problems, including dementia, as my colleague mentioned. Unfortunately, our colleagues opposite do not trust scientists or statistics. They simply apply their ideology.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

9:20 p.m.

NDP

Dany Morin Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask my NDP colleague a question.

At the end of the year, the Minister of Finance decided, without the consensus of the provincial premiers, to radically change how health transfers are made. Federal transfers to the provinces will decrease. In fact, last year, the federal government paid 20% and the provinces paid 80% of every health care bill.

If we look at the figures, we clearly see that the federal contribution is dropping from 6% to 3%. In the end, the provinces will have to spend more on health care and, in some cases, people will have to pay, which will create a two-tier system in Canada. Personally, I like my free universal health care system.

I would like to know what my colleague thinks of that.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

9:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

The hon. member for Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert has only 30 seconds remaining.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

9:20 p.m.

NDP

Djaouida Sellah Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague, who is also a member of the Standing Committee on Health, for his question. I really appreciate it.

His question demonstrates that the NDP is very concerned about the unilateral decision taken by the government without consulting the provinces and territories. As he said, our health care system is already in critical condition. It is on life support. The government's decision to reduce transfers could put the whole system in a coma—

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

9:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

I have to interrupt the hon. member because her time is up. Resuming debate. The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Labour.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

9:20 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

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to be here to discuss some of the highlights of Bill C-38, the jobs, growth and long-term prosperity act, and to speak against the NDP and other opposition amendments that are focused on delaying the passage of the bill.

As our economic record shows, Canada has performed well in the face of global economic uncertainty. Both the IMF and the OECD forecast that we will have among the strongest economic growth in the G7 over this year and the next.

This resilient performance did not happen by accident. It is the fruit of hard labour, solid economic principles, and consistent implementation of a plan that works: Canada's economic action plan.

Economic action plan 2012 sets out a comprehensive agenda to bolster Canada's fundamental strengths and addresses the important challenges confronting the economy over the long term. Our economy's strength provides an opportunity for our government to take significant actions today that will position Canada for a secure and prosperous future.

So far, Canada has had every reason to be proud of its successes. Since our government introduced the economic action plan in 2009 to respond to the global economic recession, Canada has created nearly 760,000 net new jobs, which is the best record in the G7.

Nevertheless, the global economy remains fragile, especially in Europe, and too many Canadians are still looking for work. That is why, in this uncertain economic climate, our government is staying focused on our low-tax plan for jobs and growth, a plan that is focused and works toward serving Canadians well. To this end, economic action plan 2012 focuses on the drivers of growth and job creation, innovation, investment, education skills and communities.

Through my remarks today, I would like to highlight some of the measures our government is proposing to keep the labour market healthy and prosperous.

My first point today will focus on employment insurance. EI is Canada's single largest labour market program. It provides temporary income replacement to help individuals and their families, as well as training and other labour market supports to help Canadians return to employment.

Bill C-38 makes targeted changes to make EI a more efficient program that promotes job creation, removes disincentives to work, supports unemployed Canadians and quickly connects Canadians to jobs that improve their quality of life and Canada's economy.

To outline these important measures, I will break this down into some details.

Our government is committed to helping Canadians who are looking for work. That is why our government will invest $74 million in a new national EI pilot project to ensure claimants are not discouraged from accepting work while still receiving EI benefits. This new pilot project, the working while on claim pilot project, will cut the current earnings clawback in half, to 50% of earnings, and apply it to all earnings while on claim. This will ensure EI claimants always benefit from accepting work by allowing them to keep more of what they earn while still on employment insurance.

Second, matching workers with available jobs is critical to supporting economic growth and productivity. Economic action plan 2012 will invest $21 million to enhance the content and timeliness of job and labour market information that is provided to Canadians looking for work. Along with providing relevant and timely job information, we will strengthen and clarify what is required of claimants who are receiving regular EI benefits and looking for work.

Third, our government recognizes that Canadians want stable and predictable EI premium rates and a transparent rate-setting mechanism. Our government would ensure predictability and stability in the EI premium rate. Over the next few years, we will limit annual rate increases to 5¢ until the EI operating account is balanced. Once the account has been returned to balance, the EI premium rate will be set annually on a seven year break-even rate to ensure that EI premiums are no higher than needed to pay for the EI program. After the seven year rate is set, annual adjustments to the rate will also be limited to 5¢.

Overall, these changes to employment insurance have been widely welcomed, especially from small business.

Indeed, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business said:

Since the recession, skills and labour shortages have re-emerged as a major concern for Canada’s small business community. We believe the changes to defining suitable employment, based on how frequently EI is claimed, will help to remove disincentives to work and hopefully make it easier for small firms to find the people they need.

Another way we propose to help meet Canadian labour market needs is to solidify our immigration system. Economic action plan 2012 helps set the stage for strengthening our immigration system into one that is targeted, fast and efficient, and can sustain Canada's economic growth and deliver prosperity for the future. Canada needs immigrants who are ready, willing and able to fully integrate into Canada's labour market, particularly when there are essential skills shortages.

Economic action plan 2012 reinforces the government's commitment to move toward a more economically focused immigration system with the following three measures.

First, we will improve the responsiveness of Canada's immigration system by immediately directing our efforts toward addressing modern labour market realities.

Second, we will work with the provinces, territories and stakeholders to support further improvements to foreign credential recognition and to identify the next stages of target occupations beyond 2012. This will help more highly skilled newcomers find work related to their training, allowing them to quickly contribute to Canada's economy.

Third, we will continue to consider additional measures to strengthen and improve the temporary foreign workers program. This will help support our economic recovery and growth by better aligning the program with labour market demands.

Reaction to these changes has been very positive. In the words of the Canadian Construction Association:

The reforms promised by the budget to...immigration will ensure the country is well placed to take advantage of the more than $500 billion in major economic projects expected in Canada over the next ten years.

When it comes to creating a labour market that is strong and efficient, our government continues to take responsible action that meets our changing circumstances. Canadians gave us a strong mandate to stay focused on the economy and that is exactly what we have done and continue to do. We have a record to prove it.

Since July 2009, employment has increased by nearly 760,000 net new jobs, the strongest job growth among G7 countries over the economic recovery. More than 90% of these jobs created since July 2009 have been full-time positions and 80% are in high wage industries and in the private sector. While these are positive signs, Canada cannot rest on its record of success. We need to keep focused on the economy and on creating high quality jobs.

That is why I urge members of the House to pass Bill C-38 without delay because it will help create jobs for Canadians, and that is the right thing to do.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

9:30 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development and it astounded me that not once did she mention anything about affordable housing. That is because there is nothing in the bill about affordable housing, which is really quite shocking.

I wonder if the parliamentary secretary is aware that one-third of existing social housing units are at risk of the expiry under the federal social housing operating agreement, which is a potential loss of 200,000 social housing units in Canada. As a result of her government's inaction and the fact that there is nothing in the budget about affordable housing or social housing, existing social housing is now at risk. Why did she not comment on that in her budget speech? Why is the government so blind to the whole question of housing and what is at risk?

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

9:30 p.m.

Conservative

Kellie Leitch Simcoe—Grey, ON

Mr. Speaker, this government has invested significantly in social housing and in ensuring that vulnerable Canadians have a roof over their heads. Over 615,000 individuals in this country have benefited from the economic action plan of this government.

I will be clear. We have taken action. We are providing housing and support for vulnerable people. The NDP vote against these initiatives every time.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

June 12th, 2012 / 9:30 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, I want to acknowledge the fact that the working while on claim project is a worthwhile initiative and it is something we have supported. It was first announced in February 2005 by the then minister, Lucienne Robillard, and the Conservative government has increased the amount.

The member says that it is a new program. Could she outline the differences between the program that was announced in 2005 and this current program?

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

9:30 p.m.

Conservative

Kellie Leitch Simcoe—Grey, ON

Mr. Speaker, the working while on claim program is now a national program. The intent behind this program, as I mentioned in my speech, is to decrease the amount of clawback on employment insurance so that individuals who take a part-time job and are still able to claim EI are encouraged to continue to work. A number of individuals who take on part-time work then transfer into a full-time job. This is a way of creating the attachment of individual Canadians to the labour market. It is a great program. We are moving forward with it. I am delighted that it is in the budget.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

9:30 p.m.

Oshawa
Ontario

Conservative

Colin Carrie Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I want to ask my colleague a question about certain Conservative ideology, a horrible Conservative radical idea that I mentioned earlier, called mathematics. We have been hearing the NDP members speak this evening to the cuts in the budget to health care.

I know the member is a very well-known surgeon and physician and is very supportive of our health care system. She works hard to promote the ideals that we as Canadians really do appreciate.

I know the member knows that the NDP's approach is to throw an indefinite amount of money at the health care system. However, we have a different approach. I am talking about accountability, sustainability and things like that. I wonder if the member could take a few moments to discuss the differences in the NDP, Liberal and our approach. As well, could the member throw something in about mathematics to explain that to the opposition members?

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

9:30 p.m.

Conservative

Kellie Leitch Simcoe—Grey, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Oshawa for his great work on the health committee. I have had the opportunity to be at the health committee a few times.

The very simple math is that the Government of Canada has put forward, in previous budgets and in this budget, an escalator of 6%, which means that each year it is a cumulative effect. It is an increase each successive year. Following that, we will have a base of 3%, if not higher, to GDP. It is very simple math. It is just adding simple numbers. I would encourage the NDP to do just that.

The other thing that the government is doing that particularly benefits the health care field and something that I feel very strongly about is our support for innovation, science and technology. Whether it be the $37 million more for granting councils or the $60 million for high-class research at Genome Canada, these things are extremely important to ensuring we have the next set of great discoveries so that they can benefit Canadian patients.