House of Commons Hansard #140 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was c-38.

Topics

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

June 13th, 2012 / 8:15 p.m.

Liberal

Justin Trudeau Papineau, QC

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. As a measure of respect, we ask that a member not use the name of a member in the House of Commons. He just referred to the Prime Minister as Mr. H.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

8:15 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

I think the member is aware of the rule to not allude by name, but simply by title.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

8:15 p.m.

Conservative

Terence Young Oakville, ON

Madam Speaker, I am so glad the members across are paying such close attention. I thank them for that.

That formula is also the dream of our American friends whose deficit this year will hit $1.5 trillion.

Canada is leading the world under this government to grow our economy to ensure our social programs are sustainable. The budget must be implemented to do that. That is why every member of the House should vote for it. The opposition members should drop their House of Commons tactics and tricks now and vote for this bill.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

8:20 p.m.

NDP

Ève Péclet La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Madam Speaker, I know that my colleague focused on the fact that this budget will spur job creation and growth in Canada, but I would like to ask him a specific question about employment equity, an issue that I hope he takes to heart.

Clause 602 of Bill C-38 deletes a section of the Employment Equity Act that required contractors to abide by the principle of employment equity in the federal contractors program. This will have an impact on access to employment for women, people with disabilities, aboriginals and visible minorities. Since 1986, over 1,000 audits have been carried out as part of this program.

Can the member tell me how deleting a clause that ensures fair treatment for women with respect to federal contracts will create jobs and promote economic growth in Canada?

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

8:20 p.m.

Conservative

Terence Young Oakville, ON

Madam Speaker, our party's commitment to employment equity is unshakable and we have moved to improve employment equity. The best way to improve life for all Canadians is by improving the economy.

Day after day in the House we hear the NDP and the Liberals propose expansion of programs and new programs that are unaffordable, without taking more money off the paycheques of Canadians. There is always a good reason for every program, but we never hear any ideas about how to get things done without bigger spending and higher taxes. They are a one trick pony. They are against everything we do to build the wealth we need to pay for our social programs. They fight the trade we need. They fight development. They want to close down entire industries. They would shut down the oil sands, throwing 600,000 Canadians out of work.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

8:20 p.m.

Liberal

Frank Valeriote Guelph, ON

Madam Speaker, you, parliamentarians and, frankly, the viewing public need to know that what has been said by the member opposite is completely inaccurate, particularly with respect to the Conservatives' investment in innovation.

Researchers are heading south now because of the government's lack of commitment to innovation. I have heard from farmers and industry across Canada, because it cut one of the most important programs, the Canadian agricultural adaptation program, tens of millions of dollars deployed to regions across Canada, given to projects that are identified by people in those regions. This program will be gone by 2014, and he has the gall to stand and talk about how the government is investing in innovation when in fact the opposite is true.

I would ask the member to stand and apologize for misleading Parliament.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

8:20 p.m.

Conservative

Terence Young Oakville, ON

Madam Speaker, we have heard many times in the House from the minister that no government in Canada's history has invested more money in research and development and innovation. In this budget, we want to add $1.1 billion to that investment.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

8:20 p.m.

NDP

Jack Harris St. John's East, NL

Madam Speaker, my colleague from Oakville talked about investment. I hope he is not so blinded by ideology and talking points.

The member is from Oakville and knows about the car business and the role of the unions. How can he say that the unions are opposed to investment? Was it not the auto workers who insisted that the car companies invest more money and asked the government to ensure that more money was invested? Did these unions even give up wages and benefits in order to encourage investment?

Could the member take off the blinders and recognize that what he has said is just not true?

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

8:20 p.m.

Conservative

Terence Young Oakville, ON

Mr. Speaker, realistically, what the unions in Canada are opposed to is change. Contrary to what most people think, the unions are the most reactive group in society. They are opposed to change. They see change as a threat. They should not.

I know the government invested money in the Ford plant in Oakville. It built a $1 billion Flex line four or five years ago. The Flex line is so busy at Ford now, the folks in the CAW are working 10-hour shifts a day. There are two 10-hour shifts going back-to-back every day, building the MKX, the Ford Edge, et cetera. The union members are doing extremely well in Oakville based on the investment from the auto innovation fund from this government.

The same has happened in Windsor. Ford came to the government and asked for some money to invest, $150 million, to create a new engine plant in Windsor—

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

8:25 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

Order, please. The hon. member's time has elapsed.

Resuming debate, the hon. member for Hull—Aylmer.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

8:25 p.m.

NDP

Nycole Turmel Hull—Aylmer, QC

Madam Speaker, any MP who says that unions do not help Canada progress, have not created good working conditions, have not protected workers' health and safety, have not helped improve the status of women and have not helped the Canadian economy is wrong and is saying things without really understanding the reality in this country.

I think it is unfortunate that I have to make my presentation in the shadow of a closure motion, which does not really give me enough time to explain to the members opposite what is really going on and how we can collaborate on a budget that would help Canada and Canadians.

In a democracy like ours, MPs have the right and the duty to do the work they were elected to do.

If the Conservatives really believed that the measures in their bill were justified, they would give us a chance to debate the bill and attempt to improve it. But that is not the case. By now, we all know that the Conservatives prefer to keep people in the dark. They are allergic to transparency.

Bill C-38 is a mammoth bill that is over 400 pages long and amends some 70 laws. The environment, the economy, labour rights, old age security, the Auditor General's authority, health care transfers to the provinces and more will all be affected by Bill C-38.

This government is asking us to sign a blank cheque and to vote blindly. That is unacceptable.

I have already heard the Conservatives explain that the gag orders were justified because time is of the essence when it comes to the economy. We could say that, right now, they are the ones who are hurting Canada's economic future.

The Conservatives are also basically saying that the situation is so urgent that we must abandon our right to conduct an in-depth assessment of all the effects that Bill C-38 will have.

They even used the same argument to justify the three special back-to-work bills they made us vote on in the past 12 months. They are telling us the same thing over and over again—that this is an urgent matter and that we need to hurry up. But that is not what Canadians want. They want their democratic institutions to operate as usual and they want a real debate to be held in the House.

Everyone knows the reality: for the first time in Canadian history, the middle class is losing ground. Over the past 25 years, the income of the richest 20% of our society has increased. This trend had continued since the founding of our country, but for the other 80%, which includes the middle class, living conditions and salaries have declined.

This is the first time in Canadian history that this has happened, and we simply cannot ignore this phenomenon.

What are the Conservatives doing to address this? Nothing. Or instead, I should say, they are making the situation worse by attacking workers' rights, old age security, public health care and the services that Canadians need.

This is one of the fundamental differences between the Conservatives and the NDP. The Conservatives want growth at all cost, regardless of the consequences—growth at the expense of the environment, growth at the expense of workers and families, and growth at the expense of future generations. That is what the Conservatives are proposing in Bill C-38.

We in the NDP are in favour of economic growth, yes, but this growth must be achieved in a reasonable manner. We say yes to economic development, but it must be sustainable development that will benefit future generations. We say yes to economic development that everyone can benefit from, and not just the wealthiest Canadians. We say yes to development that creates high-quality jobs rather than unstable, low-paying jobs.

That is what we want, and Bill C-38 proposes the exact opposite.

In terms of jobs, for several months now, the Parliamentary Budget Officer has been asking for details about the cuts the government plans to make, but it refuses to give him those details despite the fact that its own Accountability Act requires it to do so.

Will the Conservatives tell Canadians how many jobs will be eliminated in the public service and what effect this will have on the programs that benefit all Canadians?

The Conservatives are preparing to rise for the holidays and leave thousands of people in the dark about their future. Thousands of mothers and fathers will not know if they will keep their jobs. In my riding of Hull—Aylmer, the tension is palpable. Every day I hear from people who are wondering about the economic impact of the cuts. People are really afraid of losing their jobs. My constituents and all Canadians have a right to know what awaits them.

As I was saying earlier, Bill C-38 is a bill that is taking us in the wrong direction and that will weaken the rights of all Canadian workers. The reform of employment insurance, the repeal of the Fair Wages and Hours of Labour Act and the amendment of the Employment Equity Act are a few examples.

Bill C-38 also raises other questions. The cuts announced in the latest budget will result in the loss of over 300 jobs at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, whose mission includes ensuring the safety of our food. The Conservatives are acting as though the listeriosis crisis never happened. They are also forgetting what happened in Walkerton. It is as though those incidents never occurred.

In the words of the Canadian Medical Association Journal, more and more, Canadians are eating at their own risk. Instead of addressing the shortcomings of our food safety system, the Conservatives are making them worse. Today, Canadians are asking themselves serious questions about this government's priorities, and I can understand why.

Another good example is old age security and the guaranteed income supplement. By increasing the age of eligibility from 65 to 67, the Conservatives are trying to balance their budget at the expense of seniors. The Parliamentary Budget Officer and many other experts have said on more than one occasion that our system is sustainable. There is no reason for this government to attack a program that has been helping to keep millions of seniors out of poverty for the past 50 years.

Old age security currently makes up half the income of 1.2 million people in Canada, mostly women. The government tries to justify its decision by saying that Canadians are living longer now. That may be, but many workers are physically unable to work after 65. In fact, 25% of retirees say they left their jobs for health reasons. For them and for others, the increased eligibility age is a one-way ticket to poverty. It will also create a burden for the health care system and youth employment.

The most reprehensible thing in all this is that in the last election campaign, the Prime Minister misled the public about his intention to cut pensions. He was not transparent. Hiding the truth from Canadians has become a habit for this government. It has to stop. Canadians are entitled to the truth.

We are opposed not only to the content of this bill, but also to the undemocratic way in which the Conservatives have chosen to get it passed. This government is abusing its majority power to pass a regressive bill that will set us back years.

This could have been an acceptable budget for Canadians, a budget that promoted a stable economy and created jobs, but it turned out to be the complete opposite. Bill C-38 goes against the values of justice and progress promoted by the NDP and supported by Canadians.

Canadians deserve better. They have the right to a better bill and they have the right to know what is going on and what the future holds for them. Canadians must know what the Conservatives are imposing in Bill C-38. That is why we are opposed to it.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

8:35 p.m.

Blackstrap
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Lynne Yelich Minister of State (Western Economic Diversification)

Madam Speaker, I would like to dispute the opening remarks of the member in which she suggested that we would not be helping middle-class Canadians. The middle class has some focus from our budget, as do the working poor, through WITB. We have had WITB for the working poor to ensure they can take more income home, and there is our $100 per month child payments.

Also I would like the member to be more forthcoming on the fundamental rights that would be included and protected in collective bargaining. When she suggests that we took away women's rights, when the change was made it was fundamental rights and collective bargaining and women not having to go to court for years to have those rights. I suggest that the member put some correct comments on the record and continue to—

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

8:35 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

Order, please.

The hon. member for Hull—Aylmer.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

8:35 p.m.

NDP

Nycole Turmel Hull—Aylmer, QC

Madam Speaker, in my speech, I said that the rich are getting richer. The gap between the rich and the poor has become much wider.

One of my colleagues brought up the issue of employment equity. This government decided to do away with employment equity for government contractors.

In terms of collective agreements, my colleague should remember that, three times now, the government has passed back-to-work legislation affecting workers and pension plans.

The government claims that it is trying to be fair and that it wants to help middle-class families, but that is not what I see.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

8:35 p.m.

Liberal

Ted Hsu Kingston and the Islands, ON

Madam Speaker, I see as a contradiction between the government's budget policy and one of the items in Bill C-38.

On the one hand, in the budget the government would try to encourage innovation in Canada through the federal government's procurement policy. So, for example, the federal government would make procurements from small and medium-sized enterprises that are innovative and provide some funding for that. It is good to use government procurement, which involves a lot of spending, to encourage innovation.

On the other hand, in Bill C-38, the federal Fair Wages Act would be repealed. This amounts to the government actually doing the opposite. Instead of preventing companies from competing with one another on the basis of lowering wages, it would encourage that by repealing the federal Fair Wages Act, and that is not a good way to encourage innovation. It would just encourage more competition—