- Get e-mail whenever he speaks in House debates
- Subscribe to feeds of recent activity (what you see to the right) or statements in the House
- His favourite word is ensure.
Conservative MP for Souris—Moose Mountain (Saskatchewan)
Won his last election, in 2011, with 74.00% of the vote.
Statements in the House
Labour May 10th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, when our government brought common sense reforms to public sector benefits to align them with the private sector, the NDP chose to stand with their big union bosses against the interests of Canadian taxpayers. Now that our government is looking at ways to protect taxpayers' investments in crown corporations, the NDP is once again taking its orders from its union bosses.
Can the parliamentary secretary please tell this House what our government is doing to protect their interests?
Canada-U.S. Relations May 6th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, the United States is, and always will be, Canada's largest and most important trading partner. Nearly $2 billion in trade is carried on between our two countries each and every day.
Recently, proposals have surfaced in the United States recommending new fees on cross-border trade. These proposals, if enacted, would hurt job creation both in Canada and in the United States.
Can the Minister of International Trade please share with this House how our government is standing up for Canadians and promoting free and open trade across the Canada–United States border?
Child Care April 19th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, our government firmly believes that parents know what is best for their children. That is why we have given parents the choice in child care, despite the objections of the opposition parties.
It appears the Liberal Party is once again looking to dictate to parents on how children should be raised. It is promoting a private member's bill in the Senate that could turn parents into criminals.
Would the Minister of Justice please inform this House about the government's position on Bill S-214?
Business of Supply April 16th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, it was the member's party, the Liberal Party, that brought anyone in. We do have criteria for those who need to come in, and those criteria need to be followed.
With respect to reforms that may be taken to ensure that those who actually need temporary foreign workers can have them, there have been specific reforms outlined in the budget, and I will read some of them. It is basically to increase the recruitment efforts that employers must make to hire Canadians before they would be eligible to apply for temporary foreign workers, including increasing the length and reach of advertising. It is all steps to say that first they must ensure that they cannot get a Canadian or someone in Canada to fill the particular position and that they have done that. When they have demonstrated that, then they ought to be able to get that application.
For those who want to replace Canadians who would be there to be work, to answer the question more directly, they first have to establish that as a fact. The program was never intended to have temporary foreign workers displace Canadian workers. It was to have those workers fill positions that cannot be filled so that that businesses could grow and expand.
Business of Supply April 16th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, a number of initiatives have taken to ensure for those from underrepresented groups that I mentioned earlier, for those who need to have their skills upgraded in training and for those who need more education. All of these kinds of investments have been undertaken in the budget so that Canadians in Canada first have an opportunity for those jobs that exist. Will the member undertake to support those measures, as opposed to opposing this measure and opposing the budget from time to time?
With respect to any abuses of the system, of course we do not want any abuses. To the extent there are, they will be dealt with. The minister has clearly indicated that an investigation will take place and that those who are abusing the system will be dealt with.
Furthermore, the finance minister has indicated a number of improvements in the budget, a number of reforms that would make it better. I wonder if the member would support them.
Second, I would ask the member to go to western Canada, to go to my riding, to go to Fort McMurray, to go to places where people have difficulty finding people to do the work that needs to be done after they have advertised all they can advertise. The member can speak to them. He can speak to the owners who spend late nights trying to cover a number of shifts because they do not have the employees to do it, whether they are temporary foreign workers or whether or they are workers from Canada. They cannot find them. They cannot fill those positions.
Perhaps the member should go out there and find out on the ground why the program is so important to western Canadians and to other Canadians, including members of his party who are requesting more temporary foreign workers in their particular ridings.
Business of Supply April 16th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member from Brampton.
I noticed that the member for Malpeque failed to answer both questions and referred instead to broken spokes in the wheel, but I would have liked a direct answer to both those questions.
I am pleased to have the opportunity to respond to the motion from the hon. member for Cape Breton—Canso. The motion is quite timely, as it relates to one of the most significant challenges ahead of us as Canada emerges from the recession and the growing skills mismatch.
Our government's top priority remains job creation, economic growth and long-term prosperity for Canadians. These goals will be more difficult to meet if we do not have a plan to deal with the skills shortages facing the country. It is a real concern right across the nation. That is why I was very pleased to be part of the human resources committee and the study we undertook last year on skills and labour shortages. The study involved the committee travelling to all regions of Canada to directly hear from Canadians about the challenges posed by these skills and labour shortages. In fact, the member for Cape Breton—Canso was part of the committee during that study and heard, as I did, directly from business owners across Canada about the challenges they are facing in finding Canadians to fill available job positions, both in skilled and unskilled positions.
I would like to quote one of the business owners the committee heard from during the study, who was quite clear on this point. The person from the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association stated:
If it weren't for the temporary foreign worker program, some operators would have to close their doors. The [TFW] program has helped our members to stabilize their businesses and retain their domestic employees and has reduced the chaos that resulted from understaffed restaurants.
We heard time and time again statements with respect to why the program is important and why it is particularly needed in Western Canada, in my home province, in my home riding of Souris—Moose Mountain.
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce, in its report on the top 10 barriers to competitiveness, has identified the skills shortage as the number one obstacle to the success of its members. It says that labour shortages and skills mismatches have become a dominant policy concern among political, business, labour and academic groups over the past six months within Canada and internationally.
We have employers who are looking to offshore resources to hire temporary foreign workers, because they cannot find, for one reason or another, Canadians to do the jobs they need filled, particularly in the high-demand occupations.
Indeed, we have been quite clear. The original intent of the program was to help employers find temporary help in cases where there were absolute and acute labour shortages. I would invite the member who put forward the motion, and other members, to visit my riding and ridings in Saskatchewan, Alberta and other parts of the country where there is a very acute labour shortage. I know that members from the NDP and Liberals understand the importance of this program to businesses in their ridings. In fact, the member alluded earlier to the fact that letters have been sent to the Minister of Human Resources requesting more temporary foreign workers for businesses in their ridings, even ridings with higher than average unemployment.
That is why Canada's economic action plan 2013 moves forward with key initiatives to address the skills challenge. This includes the creation of the Canada job grant, which would provide $15,000 or more dollars per person to ensure that Canadians are getting the skills employers are seeking. When fully implemented, the Canada job grant would benefit an estimated 130,000 Canadians.
Budget 2013 would also create more opportunities for apprentices by making it easier for them to get the experience they need to succeed in their chosen professions. It would also provide additional support to under-represented groups, including persons with disabilities, youth, aboriginals and newcomers, to help them find good jobs. These are actions and improvements that must be taken. They are part of our long-term plan to create jobs, growth and prosperity.
However, many Canadian businesses need workers now, and they cannot find workers, no matter how widely they advertise for them. That is why we have the temporary foreign worker program. Canada's temporary foreign worker program is designed to help employers find temporary help in cases where there are absolute and acute labour shortages. That underscores the problem.
Indeed, employers must show that they have made all reasonable efforts to fill the positions locally, and this is the most critical aspect. They need to demonstrate that employing a temporary foreign worker will not adversely affect the Canadian labour market. When jobs are available, Canadians, of course, must have the first crack at these opportunities. We must do what we can to ensure that. To underscore this point, we have announced important changes to the temporary foreign worker program.
As members will recall, last month, the Minister of Finance announced that our government is taking action to reform Canada's temporary worker program to further ensure that Canadians are always given the first crack at job openings. In budget 2013, we have pledged to work with employers to ensure that temporary foreign workers are relied upon only when Canadians cannot fill those jobs. We are committed to increasing the recruitment efforts employers must make to hire Canadians before they are eligible to apply for temporary foreign workers, including increasing the length and reach of their advertising. When they have done that, they must be able to rely upon those workers.
If I heard anything in the hearings across the country, from coast to coast, it was the fact that for Canadian businesses to grow, for our economy to prosper and to ensure jobs, they need to have the people both in the skilled and unskilled areas to ensure that they can expand their businesses and contribute to our economy.
We will also find ways to ensure that employers have a plan to transition to an all-Canadian workforce over time. We will amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations to restrict the identification of non-official languages as job requirements when employers hire through the temporary foreign worker program. We are proposing to introduce user fees for employers applying for labour market opinions to hire temporary foreign workers so that these costs are no longer borne by taxpayers. These are all reforms our government has already mentioned in the budget speech here in this House.
Our government has already introduced a stronger link between the employment insurance program and the temporary foreign worker program to ensure that Canadians who are looking for work know about local jobs. In fact, the opposition has made a lot of to-do about that fact. It is another means to ensure that Canadians know about jobs and have the first opportunities.
I can assure members that we are concerned and are taking seriously recent reports of the misuse of the temporary foreign worker program. Of course, any misuse should not be tolerated and should be dealt with. HRSDC officials are investigating these allegations, as integrity, fairness and a safe, healthy workplace are the hallmarks of working in Canada. These values do not apply just to Canadian citizens. Foreign workers have the same rights as Canadian workers, including the assurance of at least the same pay for the same work at the same location. That is how the system is meant to work.
Every employer is required to pay temporary foreign workers the same wage paid to Canadian workers doing the same job in the same location, despite anything the opposition would try to say to the contrary. Contrary to some incorrect reports, employers cannot pay temporary foreign workers less than a Canadian would earn in the same job. By upholding these high standards, we will ensure that Canada's economy continues thrive.
Canada is recognized today for its resilience during the global recession and recovery, its low-tax environment, its highly educated and skilled labour force, its natural resource endowments and a financial sector that is the envy of the world. With the initiatives of Canada's economic action plan, we are building on Canada's success in reinforcing the fundamental strengths of the Canadian economy.
I urge all members of this House to support moving forward with tangible actions by voting against this opposition motion, which tries to create a problem and to do something different, when we have already gone through the process. We have heard from the people. We have taken steps in the budget with respect to reform, which is something they should support. If they would support that, they would see that their concerns have been adequately addressed.
Business of Supply April 16th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the member why he might want to reinvent the wheel, when it is already there. I understand from the motion that he would like a committee composed of six government members, four members from the opposition and one member from his party.
I might advise him that a committee such as that already exists exactly in those numbers, with the member for Cape Breton—Canso being the vice-chair. This committee travelled throughout Canada and heard about the issue of skilled and lower-skilled trades, including the temporary foreign workers.
I would ask the member two questions. First, did the member submit witnesses or potential people to that committee through the member for Cape Breton—Canso? Second, the motion asks for a study or an examination through a committee, a committee that already exists. Another study will not answer the problems or the questions.
Pages 84 and 85 of the budget specifically talk about reforms to the temporary foreign worker program to ensure that Canadians are given the first chance for available jobs and that Canadians who are seeking jobs are first in line for those opportunities. It sets out point by point the number of reforms that would be made.
My question is whether the member submitted witnesses to the committee. As well, has he read the budget and looked at the reforms?
Pleasantdale School March 27th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, today I congratulate teacher Sarah Driscoll and the team of grade seven and eight students at Pleasantdale School in Estevan for winning a day with the infamous Rick Mercer on Monday, March 25, and for helping spare children from the ravages of malaria by raising $5,439 in the Spread the Net student challenge.
They did this through bake sales, penny and bottle drives and a grade seven and eight school dance. As Mercer noted, “Every now and then a school comes along and they punch way above their weight. They raise more money than anyone could ever imagine and Pleasantdale is one of those schools”. He said, and I agreed, “You...are amazing, you raised over $5,000 and that is over 500 bed nets. That is saving 500 lives, that is twice as many people that are in this school and you...did that for children on the other side of the world”.
For those who wish to watch the program, it will be aired on April 2.
Indeed, congratulations to Pleasantdale School in Estevan and everyone who was involved.
The Budget March 25th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, I am not so sure about the latter, but I know the budget certainly addresses the fact of skills shortages.
If members go to a community like Estevan, Saskatchewan, in the southeast part of the province, people will tell them what is stopping them from expanding as they should and from becoming what they can is a shortage of human resources. There is a shortage of specific skills that cannot be filled. They are trying everything they can.
Housing is another issue. There needs to be homes for people to move into and this budget provides for that. It provides for some direct input by cash directly to support people to get trained and to get matched up with the jobs that actually exist.
It also has a number of specific initiatives that would help small and medium enterprises to continue to expand the economy, to continue to ensure that we go forward and upward.
The Budget March 25th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, when the budget is balanced, family income splitting is not a bad idea. We certainly should look at that.
Here is what we will not do. We will not balance the budget on the backs of provinces, social programs, educational programs and the social transfers, like the Liberal government did when it balanced the budget. Not only did it balance it on the backs of those who were must vulnerable, it took about $50 billion from the EI fund to attempt to balance the budget. Anybody can balance the budget by doing those kinds of things.
We will not do that. We will do it through efficient, good management and will ensure that government operates as it should, where spending is reined under control.