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Conservative MP for Glengarry—Prescott—Russell (Ontario)
Won his last election, in 2011, with 48.80% of the vote.
Statements in the House
Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2 December 3rd, 2013
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak about the Conservative Party's 2013 budget, especially since my colleagues and I have worked very hard to give Canadians the best possible financial plan as part of the federal budget.
The budget focuses on what is really important to Canadians. It gives Canada the means to stay the course while we focus on Canadians' priorities, namely economic growth, job creation and fiscal balance.
I especially want to point out the significant financial support in the budget for infrastructure across the country. I am referring in particular to measures such as the gas tax fund, which benefits my riding of Glengarry—Prescott—Russell.
Our government has proposed a 10-year funding commitment through the community improvement fund, the new building Canada fund, and the renewed P3 Canada fund. This would build on significant infrastructure funding delivered since 2007 and should be highlighted as we discuss the budget.
The new building Canada plan would mean stable, long-term funding for important projects, such as roads, bridges, water, waste water, recreational facilities, and other important community infrastructure. This would represent a total of more than $2.7 million across my riding each year through the federal gas tax fund alone.
Since being elected in 2006, I have listened carefully to my local mayors and their councils. Local infrastructure, particularly roads, is a top priority within my riding for the people of my riding.
Our Conservative government has extended, doubled, indexed, and made permanent the gas tax fund. These improvements provide predictable, long-term funding for our municipalities. It helps them build and revitalize local public infrastructure while creating jobs and long-term prosperity.
I recently had the honour of announcing projects that were carried out in my riding through the federal gas tax fund, in the communities of Hawkesbury, Russell and La Nation.
These municipalities are very pleased with the results. With our resurfaced roads, residents and visitors will enjoy better traffic flow and increased safety in the region for a long time to come.
In a riding like mine, which hosts visitors and tourists for festivals and special events, sustainable infrastructure offers some solid economic advantages that are very important to growth.
I am very honoured to continue serving as the member of Parliament for Glengarry—Prescott—Russell in this 41st Parliament, particularly during this time of growth. My constituents are eager to see the budget implemented, as it means continued growth and prosperity for them.
The opposition has consistently voted against the implementation of our budgets. They have sent a clear message that they are not listening to the voices of hard-working Canadians. They have voted against our budget measures in the past and will likely vote against this one, even though our track record is one of economic growth and sustainability, which is important to all Canadians.
Bill C-4 clearly outlines our government's commitment to businesses, which, I might add, create jobs and are a driving economic force in many rural communities, such as mine. I hope the opposition will note that we have committed to extending the hiring credit for small businesses, which are the real job creators. The hiring credit assists employers with a tax credit of up to $1,000 to help cover the cost of hiring new workers. This gives them the opportunity to take advantage of emerging economic opportunities. We would extend the hiring credit because of its success.
Our economy is improving, thanks to our economic action plan and measures such as the hiring credit. It is not just businesses in my riding that would benefit. In fact, it is estimated that 560,000 small businesses across Canada would benefit from this measure, saving them $225 million in 2013.
Across my riding, people are also concerned about employment insurance and its sustainability. They are concerned about the effectiveness of the program. These are legitimate concerns that our government has recognized and would address through budget 2013.
Allow me to explain that in these challenging economic times, our federal government has focused on strengthening our Canadian economy and on job creation. The encouraging news is that since 2009, our economy has created more than one million net new jobs. Ninety per cent of these are full-time jobs, and 75% are in the private sector.
Unfortunately, a number of Canadian businesses are having a hard time hiring enough Canadians, even though our employment rate hovers around 7%.
As a result, businesses are using the temporary foreign worker program to bring qualified people in from other countries to fill their employment needs. Nevertheless, many jobs that could be filled by Canadians remain vacant, and that is why the government must ensure that they are given priority for these jobs.
In order to increase job opportunities for Canadians, our government took the initiative to change two important programs, as we explained in our budget: the temporary foreign worker program and the employment insurance system.
With respect to the temporary foreign worker program, we have adjusted some of the criteria to improve the system. Businesses will need to make a greater effort to hire Canadians. The only acceptable job language requirement is now French or English and businesses must pay a fee of $275 per position requested.
With respect to employment insurance, Canadians on EI are now expected to accept suitable employment opportunities within their local area. The highest weeks of earnings are now used to calculate EI payments. “Working While on Claim” has been implemented to encourage Canadians to accept some available work while receiving EI benefits provided that they are looking for other work. Additionally, a link between the temporary foreign worker program and EI is being implemented to better connect Canadians to available jobs in their local area.
In essence, these changes will mean more money in the pockets of hard-working Canadians. We are equipping Canadians in their search for work and adjusting regulations to ensure they can gain more money than before as they search for full-time employment.
That is not all. Our government recognizes that we are still living in an uncertain global economic environment. This is why we have committed to maintaining a sound fiscal position. Responsible fiscal management is necessary for the sustainability of our public services and ensuring low tax rates for future generations.
Our federal government will continue to restrain spending growth without cutting transfers to Canadians, including vulnerable persons such as seniors, children and the unemployed. We will restrain growth without cutting transfers to other levels of government in support of health care and social services. Our record clearly speaks for itself in that regard.
In Ontario alone, for example, our government has increased federal transfers, which includes health care, by more than 200% since 2006. That is over $8 billion in increase. This is tremendous and unprecedented. Yet the opposition would have Canadians believe we are cutting support for crucial health care needs when in fact we have increased this funding to record highs.
We are committing to improving services and achieving efficiency and we will do this while keeping taxes low and enhancing the integrity of the tax system. As a result, the deficit is expected to return to a balanced budget in 2015-16, which will be another tremendous achievement for our government.
The budget is excellent news for the people of Glengarry—Prescott—Russell and for all Canadians. It sets us on the right track towards economic prosperity.
I assure the House that we thought long and hard before making our decisions. We made our decisions carefully, after considering the priorities and well-being of Canadians. I urge the opposition to support this bill so it can be passed quickly.
Agriculture and Agri-Food November 29th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, since the implementation of the agrirecovery program by the government, producers know that when a disaster strikes, we will be there for them.
Agrirecovery is jointly administered by both the federal government and the provinces, and requires agreement by all levels of government to respond to disasters in a timely fashion.
The member should recognize that two-thirds of producers surveyed by the Auditor General said that agrirecovery was delivered in a timely fashion. Under growing forward 2, the agrirecovery program continues to be an effective tool to help farmers during times of unforeseen market volatility or natural disaster.
Veterans November 20th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, on Remembrance Day, I had the honour of being in Hong Kong to commemorate the hundreds of Canadians who gave their lives in the defence of freedom.
As a veteran myself, having served in our Canadian Armed Forces for 20 years, I have reflected upon the service that we provide to our veterans. As a member of government, I am glad that we as Conservatives have provided our veterans with an increase of nearly $5 billion in funding since 2006. That is more money and services in the hands of our veterans. Our military personnel are well trained and hard-working. They serve our country and they deserve our support.
Recently the Minister of Veterans Affairs announced that our veterans can receive up to $75,000 for college, university, or skilled trades certification programs. Our most seriously injured veterans receive a minimum of $62,000 per year in total financial compensation to assist their recovery.
We will not stop there. Our veterans defended us and we will offer our support to them when they need it.
Petitions November 4th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, I have a petition from petitioners calling on Parliament to impose a moratorium on the release of genetically modified alfalfa.
Employment Insurance June 13th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, the changes to the employment insurance program were made to help EI claimants return to work as quickly as possible.
We understand that people who want to work sometimes lose their jobs through no fault of their own. Employment insurance will be there for them to provide them with temporary income support while they look for a job or upgrade their skills.
Our government recognizes that some Canadians are going through trying times. As I have said many times before in the House, for those who are unable to find work, EI will continue to be there for them, as it has always been.
I would also like to add that our government is focused on job creation, economic growth and long-term prosperity. Those remain our biggest priorities.
Employment Insurance June 13th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, changes were made to employment insurance to help unemployed workers find suitable employment. They help them, their family and the local economy. Everyone wins.
Let me make one thing perfectly clear. A claimant would not be required to take a job unless it puts them in a better financial position than being on employment insurance.
What we are doing is helping employment insurance claimants re-enter the workforce, not penalizing them.
We are ensuring that EI is there for people who paid into the system who are without work and who need it.
We also know that not everyone lives the same reality. Personal circumstances are different for everyone. For that very reason, the changes recognize that personal circumstances must be taken into consideration when assessing whether an employment opportunity is suitable.
We take into account the commute, the working conditions, the type of work, the salary, the hours of work and the personal situation. Not one of those factors is more important than the others.
We know Canadians want to work, but some face challenges in finding suitable jobs. They may not know where or how to find available jobs. They may not be aware that their skills match needs in another industry or occupation. Others still may not know about the supports available to help them in their job search.
The changes we made to employment insurance encourage and help unemployed workers find jobs in their region and in their field.
We have enhanced support measures, such as job alerts, to help EI claimants with their job search. With the enhanced job alert system, individuals can receive daily notices regarding new job postings that match their profile.
We are helping EI claimants get back into the job market, as they are always better off working than receiving EI.
We are taking measures to connect employers with job seekers and to keep Canadians in the workforce.
Full-time jobs have been increasing across occupations and in many industries. In fact, since July 2009, employment has grown by over one million jobs. This represents the strongest growth by far among the G7 countries. Of these million jobs, most of them are full-time positions.
Helping Canadians remain active participants in the labour force is important to ensure the economy's continued growth.
Job creation, economic growth and long-term prosperity remain our top priorities.
Supreme Court June 13th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, as I just said, we are focusing on the real needs of Canadians, namely strengthening our economy, creating jobs and taking the necessary action to balance the budget.
The member opposite continues to attempt to reopen these debates, but Canadians can rest assured that our government will be focusing on the real priorities.
Supreme Court June 13th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, as this government has stated before, we have no interest in reopening old constitutional debate.
Our government continues to focus its efforts on the real needs of Canadians: a stronger economy, job creation and the initiatives needed to balance the budget.
While the member opposite continues to attempt to reopen these debates, Canadians can rest assured that our government's focus will be on their real priorities.
University of Guelph Regional Campus June 12th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, today I rise in the House to highlight the important work of Campus d'Alfred, a University of Guelph regional campus in my riding of Glengarry—Prescott—Russell.
The campus is the only francophone agricultural college in Ontario, and a leader in its field. It offers high-quality education, and makes an important contribution to agricultural and environmental research.
I recently had the honour of announcing over $1 million in funding from CIDA. The campus will use this money towards its project to reduce poverty and increase food self-sufficiency in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
This a fine, tangible example of excellence in the field of French-language education, agriculture and international co-operation.
I would like to congratulate the campus on its success and wish it the best of luck on its new projects abroad.
Agriculture and Agri-Food June 7th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, I would like to identify that the department is committed to research, and as programs sunset other priority areas, such as innovation, markets and competitiveness continue to be supported in our agricultural policy framework called Growing Forward 2.
Growing Forward 2 has announced a $3 billion investment, over five years, in science and innovation, markets and competitiveness. The department will continue to perform research in areas where it is needed and of higher risk, and the department will collaborate with its partners in industry and academia to leverage priority research.