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Track Rodger

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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word is program.

Liberal MP for Cape Breton—Canso (Nova Scotia)

Won his last election, in 2011, with 46.40% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Business of Supply September 16th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the point has been brought up in each of the NDP members' speeches that the Liberals abolished this piece of legislation in 1996. Let us be right on here. They said it had been a while since there had been an increase in federal employees' minimum wage. Yes, the Liberals at that time had been in power for two and a half years and were looking at a way to get the increase. At the time, Audrey McLaughlin and the NDP supported that motion, as did Elsie Wayne, as did Jean Charest. Those are the facts.

Let us have a truthful debate. This very modest measure would help very few, but let us tell the truth to each other.

Business of Supply September 16th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from the Northwest Territories for what was a comment, more than a question.

The answer to the question is obvious. We belive that workers in this country deserve to make a fair wage. That good, hard, honest worker is only trying to raise his or her family. They show up at work every day, get paid a wage, but depending on what area of the country they are in, continue to struggle with making house payments. It impacts on health. It impacts on the justice system. The studies are many and deep on how living so close to the poverty line impacts on citizens.

Certainly our party does believe that the growth in precarious employment in this country over the last eight years is frightful, and certainly we are committed to trying to address that. This is a small measure to help address that. It is one tool to address it, but certainly so much more has to be done.

Business of Supply September 16th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, first I want to recognize that my friend and colleague did send me a note when she was in my riding. I thought that was very kind and gracious of her. I know she had an opportunity to golf on one of the greatest courses in this country, Cabot Links. Out of respect for my colleague, I will not let it be known what she scored.

As modest as this motion is—and it does have impact—this would just impact on those who work in federally regulated industries. When we look at those particular industries, we see they are probably some of the bigger industries. They are for the most part highly unionized. We are not talking about entry-level jobs. We are talking about employees who come with specific skill sets. When we weigh that in and we look at the work Mr. Arthurs has done on this particular issue and we look at the process he pursued, I am very comfortable in supporting his recommendation, that being the reinstatement of a federal minimum wage.

Business of Supply September 16th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Winnipeg North. We are trying to get him on his feet early in the session today. He is a little nervous, but with the support of his colleagues and the entire chamber, maybe we will get him up to say a few words.

As I said in my question for the minister, this debate gives us the opportunity to speak to the broader question, which is the continued growth in the gap between the haves and the have-nots. Since the Conservatives have taken over, we have seen a 66% increase in the number of Canadians who work for minimum wage. One million Canadians now work for minimum wage.

This should be of great concern to all of us. The quality of life for Canadians who go to work day in day out for the entire year and still live close to the poverty line should be of great concern to us as legislators, as members of Parliament.

To speak specifically about the motion brought forward by the NDP today, when we boil down the numbers, it does not really represent or impact a great number of people. It is more symbolic than substantive, and I would like to make a couple of comments around that.

According to the 2010 Statistics Canada survey of employees in federal jurisdictions, there are about 820,000 federal employees out of the 17 million who work in our country. According to that study, just 416 employees within federal jurisdiction earn the legal minimum wage, with 44% of these employees in companies with 100 or more employees. With 416 Canadians out of a workforce of 17 million, when we put that in perspective, again, the motion is a symbolic gesture more so than substantive.

I think we could engage in a debate that would impact more Canadians, because a number of Canadians continue to struggle from day to day, from paycheque to paycheque. This is a reality in a lot of kitchens across the country.

There was an all-committee study both in the House of Commons and the Senate. When we look at the recommendations those committees put forward on how to deal with and address poverty, some of them would have impacted a far greater number of Canadians, and probably would have helped a greater number of Canadians and Canadian families.

We should be looking at why the government has not been able to invest in developing the high-quality jobs and training opportunities, and why we continue to see that increase of people working in low-wage, precarious jobs.

After being home all summer, and I am sure many of the members in the House here would have heard the same story, I heard from seniors and those getting close to their senior years. They had seen the change in the OAS. Those who have worked their entire life in low-wage precarious jobs see the increase in the eligibility age for OAS from 65 to 67 as significant.

The opportunity to expand the reach and benefit of the levels of the working income tax benefit would go a far greater distance in helping a greater number of people. However, I see this as somewhat of a symbolic gesture. There has to be some type of balance in policy that upholds a societal benefit.

I agree that we need some kind of balance. I thought the proposal that was put forward by our leader yesterday on the hiring benefit that would allow us $1,280 for every hire, which for $225 million could produce 176,000 new jobs, would benefit business and Canadian workers. Those are more substantive issues that could be brought forward and could have a greater impact.

What we try to strive for, certainly within our party, is balance in labour relations. I do not think there has been any government in the history of the country that has thrown the balance between labour and management out of whack more so than the current government, from the excessive use of back to work legislation through changes to the Canada Labour Code. Bill C-377 and Bill C-525 are pretty much outright attacks on organized labour. One of the keys to balancing labour relations is to have a fair process both by labour and management to have an opportunity to work out issues. For over 30 years, a tripartite approach has been in place.

In 2004, when we were still in government, the Liberal government used such a process for the review of part III of the Canada Labour Code undertaken by Harry Arthurs. His consultation process included direct input from labour and management representatives, cross-country public meetings, hearing from 171 different presentations and 154 formal briefings. He talked with management, with organized labour and community-based organizations. He talked to labour standard administrators and practitioners. That process resulted in Mr. Arthurs making a number of recommendations that maybe everyone might not have agreed on but at least they respected a balanced process.

One such recommendation, and the one that we are talking about today, was the reinstatement of the federal minimum wage rate. On the basis of his consultations with all stakeholders and the research, Mr. Arthurs believed that a federal minimum wage was justified. He captured the essence of a federal minimum wage in this comment, which I will read into the record. He stated:

—the argument over a national minimum wage is not about politics or economics. It is about decency. Just as we reject most forms of child labour on ethical grounds, whatever their economic attractions, we recoil from the notion that in an affluent society like ours good, hard-working people should have to live in abject poverty.

This motion deals only with federal workers and workers in federal industries. Therefore, those who are watching at home should know that this does not apply to those who work in the service industry flipping burgers or making beds, those in one of the million minimum wage jobs in our country. This applies to a very specific sector. Let us ensure that we temper the excitement and expectation for this motion with respect to an increase in the minimum wage.

What Mr. Arthurs said in his comments stand true. Under the work that he has done and put forward, this motion, although humble, is worthwhile supporting.

Business of Supply September 16th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I agree somewhat with the minister that we are trying to vet out how many people this measure would affect and what impact it would have, but as we go forward in the debate today, we have an opportunity to ask a question.

She made reference to the government being seized on developing high-paying jobs. The reality is that under the government, the number of Canadians who are working for minimum wage has increased by 66%. We now have one million Canadians who are working for minimum wage in this country.

I ask her, as Minister of Labour, what are the signs? Why is this happening? Why has the number of Canadians in this situation increased by 66%? Why has this number grown so egregiously under the reign of this government?

Business of Supply September 16th, 2014

You guys voted for it.

Business of Supply September 16th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, what we are tasked with here today is to get to the essence of it.

My colleague made a number of comments that I fully agree with. There is a gap growing between the haves and the have-nots. I also agree that the government is more focused on the haves and the have-mores.

The parliamentary secretary posed an absolutely legitimate question. The answer was “can they not be compassionate?”

According to the 2008 Stats Can report, this would impact fewer than 500 Canadians. Could the member speak to that, if in fact those are the numbers the NDP is working with?

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns September 15th, 2014

With regard to Social Security Tribunal (SST) and the four administrative tribunals it replaced, the Employment Insurance Board of Referees, the Employment Insurance Umpires, the Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security Review Tribunals, and the Pension Appeals Board: (a) what is the number and percentage of total appeals that were made to each prior tribunal for fiscal years 2004-2005 to 2012-2013, broken down by (i) province, (ii) region, (iii) appeals resulting in an overturn of the Department’s original decision, (iv) appeals not resulting in an overturn of the Department’s original decision, (v) appeals withdrawn before hearing by the claimant and the Department, (vi) appeals withdrawn at hearing by the claimant and the Department, (vii) appeals which were heard within 30 days of receipt of appeal notice, (viii) average number of days it took to schedule a hearing after receipt of appeal notice, (ix) when is an appeal file considered in backlog, (x) how many files were in backlog at the end of each fiscal year; (b) what is the number and percentage of total appeals concerning Employment Insurance that were made to the SST General Division for fiscal year 2012-2013 and year to date, broken down by (i) province, (ii) region, (iii) appeals resulting in an overturn of the Department’s original decision, (iv) appeals not resulting in an overturn of the Department’s original decision, (v) appeals withdrawn before hearing by the claimant and by the government, (vi) appeals withdrawn at hearing by the claimant and by the Department, (vii) appeals which were heard within 30 days of receipt of appeal notice, (viii) appeals summarily dismissed by the SST General Division because it felt there was no reasonable chance of success, (ix) in how many cases referred in (b)(viii) did the claimant not submit additional information after being told that his or her case might be summarily dismissed, (x) how many initial requests by the claimant or the government to adjourn or postpone the hearing were received pursuant to section 11 of the SST Regulations, and how many were granted and denied, (xi) when is an appeal file considered in backlog, (xii) how many files were in backlog at the end of each month and fiscal year, (xiii) what are the reasons for any backlog, (xiv) what is being done about any backlog, (xv) what is the oldest appeal in backlog; (c) what is the number and percentage of total appeals concerning Old Age Security that were made to the SST General Division for fiscal 2012-2013 and year to date, broken down by (i) province, (ii) region, (iii) appeals resulting in an overturn of the Department’s original decision, (iv) appeals not resulting in an overturn of the Department’s original decision, (v) appeals withdrawn before hearing by the claimant and by the department, (vi) appeals withdrawn at hearing by the claimant and by the department, (vii) appeals which were heard within 30 days of receipt of appeal notice, (viii) appeals summarily dismissed because the SST Member felt there was no reasonable chance of success, (ix) in how many cases referred in (b)(viii) did the claimant not submit additional information after being told that his or her case might be summarily dismissed, (x) how many initial requests by the claimant or the government to adjourn or postpone the hearing were received pursuant to section 11 of the SST Regulations, and how many were granted and denied, (xi) when is an appeal file considered in backlog, (xii) how many files were in backlog at the end of each month and fiscal year, (xiii) what are the reasons for any backlog, (xiv) what is being done about any backlog, (xv) what is the oldest appeal in backlog; (d) what is the number and percentage of total appeals concerning the Canada Pension Plan that were made to the SST General Division for fiscal 2012-2013 and year to date, broken down by (i) province, (ii) region, (iii) appeals resulting in an overturn of the Department’s original decision, (iv) appeals not resulting in an overturn of the Department’s original decision, (v) appeals withdrawn before hearing by the claimant and by the Department, (vi) appeals withdrawn at hearing by the claimant and by the Department, (vii) appeals which were heard within 30 days of receipt of appeal notice, (viii) appeals summarily dismissed because the SST Member felt there was no reasonable chance of success, (ix) in how many cases referred in (b)(viii) did the claimant not submit additional information after being told that his or her case might be summarily dismissed, (x) how many initial requests by the claimant or the government to adjourn or postpone the hearing were received pursuant to section 11 of the SST Regulations, and how many were granted and denied, (xi) when is an appeal file considered in backlog, (xii) how many files were in backlog at the end of each month and fiscal year, (xiii) what are the reasons for any backlog, (xiv) what is being done about any backlog, (xv) what is the oldest appeal in backlog; (e) what is the number and percentage of total appeals concerning Employment Insurance that were made to the SST Appeals Division for fiscal 2012-2013 and year to date, broken down by (i) province, (ii) region, (iii) appeals resulting in an overturn of the SST General Division’s decision, (iv) appeals not resulting in an overturn of the SST General Division’s decision, (v) how many appeals that were summarily dismissed by the SST General Division were appealed to the SST Appeal Division, (vi) how many judicial reviews of a decision rendered by the SST Appeal Division were brought before the Federal Court of Appeal, (vii) how many leave to appeal applications were granted and denied by the SST Appeal Division, (viii) how many of the denials in (vii) were appealed before the Federal Court; (f) what is the number and percentage of total appeals concerning Old Age Security that were made to the SST Appeals Division for fiscal 2012-2013 and year to date, broken down by (i) province, (ii) region, (iii) appeals resulting in an overturn of the SST General Division’s decision, (iv) appeals not resulting in an overturn of the SST General Division’s decision, (v) how many appeals that were summarily dismissed by the SST General Division were appealed to the SST Appeal Division, (vi) how many judicial reviews of a decision rendered by the SST Appeal Division were brought before the Federal Court of Appeal, (vii) how many leave to appeal applications were granted and denied by the SST Appeal Division, (viii) how many of the denials in (vii) were appealed before the Federal Court; (g) what is the number and percentage of total appeals concerning Canada Pension Plan that were made to the SST Appeals Division for fiscal 2012-2013 and year to date, broken down by (i) province, (ii) region, (iii) appeals resulting in an overturn of the SST General Division’s decision, (iv) appeals not resulting in an overturn of the SST General Division’s decision, (v) how many appeals that were summarily dismissed by the SST General Division were appealed to the SST Appeal Division, (vi) how many judicial reviews of a decision rendered by the SST Appeal Division were brought before the Federal Court of Appeal, (vii) how many leave to appeal applications were granted and denied by the SST Appeal Division, (viii) how many of the denials in (vii) were appealed before the Federal Court; (h) what is the set standard to hold a hearing once an appeal is filed by the claimant for the (i) prior tribunals, (ii) SST General Division, (iii) SST Appeals Division; (i) what are the results in achieving the standard in (h); (j) what is the average number of days to schedule a hearing from receipt of the appeal notice claimant for the (i) prior tribunals, (ii) SST General Division; (k) what is the annual cost of the prior tribunals for fiscal 2004-2005 to 2012-2013 broken down by (i) total cost, (ii) cost by most detailed cost category available; (l) what is the annual cost of SST for 2013-2014 and year to date broken down by (i) total cost, (ii) cost by most detailed cost category available, including division; (m) what is the number of prior tribunal members as of March 31 of each fiscal year from 2004-2005 to 2012-2013; (n) what is the expected and realized annual cost savings created by the SST in 2013-2014 and what is the reason for any discrepancy; (o) what is the expected and realized efficiency savings, created by the SST in 2013-2014 and what is the reason for any discrepancy; (p) what is the anticipated and actual cases convened by the SST by way of (i) written questions and answers, (ii) teleconference, (iii) video conference, (iv) personal appearance in 2013-2014 and, if there is any discrepancy, why; (q) what is the anticipated and actual percentage of total cases convened by the SST by way of (i) written questions and answers, (ii) teleconference, (iii) video conference, (iv) personal appearance in 2013-2014 and, if there is any discrepancy, why; (r) if there were no expectations for (p) and (q), why not, and why did the government develop the new proposed practice of written questions and answers, teleconference and video conference as opposed to in person hearings; (s) how many video-conferencing centres were (i) planned to be and (ii) were operational to deal with the expected caseload for the first year of the SST and the supporting rationale for the number; (t) if there was no rationale for (s) why wasn’t there one; (u) where were the prior tribunals (i) centre locations, (ii) regions served; (v) are there are currently SST video conferencing centres available to those same locations in (u) and if not, why not; (w) what were strategic and operational objectives set for the SST’s first year, (i) were they met, (ii) if not, why not, (iii) what impact is there on client service and cost to taxpayers versus the prior tribunals; (x) what were the specific required types of training for SST members in 2013-2014 broken down by (i) General Division, (ii) Appeals Division if applicable; (y) did all SST members receive the required training to date, and if not, why not; (z) what was the expected and actual amount of training (in hours, days or whatever the standard training units are) and the cost in 2013-2014 for (i) each SST member, (ii) all members; (aa) how many SST members were hired and actively performing their duties at the end of each month in 2013-2014 and year to date, broken down by division SST in general; (bb) how many SST members have resigned or been fired to date and why; (cc) what negative feedback or complaints has the SST received or government received about the SST from (i) its members, (ii) stakeholders, claimants and others regarding the operation and function of the SST since it began operating and, if so, what are the comments or the reference numbers of the internal files that contain that information; (dd) was any audit, evaluation, or review document prepared or conducted on the SST since it became operational and, if so, what was the date and the internal file or reference number associated with each; (ee) what is the expected ongoing cost and efficiency savings and the supporting rationale; (ff) if the government did not set specific targets or expectations referenced in (ee), why; and (gg) was any study or report done by the government to justify the creation of the SST and, if so, what are the date completed and any internal file or reference numbers associated with them?

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns September 15th, 2014

With regard to National Parks: what are the dates, titles, and file numbers of all reports, memoranda, dockets, dossiers, or other records, since January 1, 2006, held by any department or agency, concerning the proposed Never Forgotten National Memorial at Green Cove, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia?

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns September 15th, 2014

With regard to the portions of the anti-spam legislation that come into force on July 1, 2014: (a) how many inquiries has the government received from companies about the new law; (b) what outreach activities has the government undertaken to help companies understand their obligations under the new act; and (c) how much money has the government spent to inform Canadians or businesses about the new law?