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Conservative MP for Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley (Nova Scotia)
Won his last election, in 2011, with 52.50% of the vote.
Statements in the House
Housing November 25th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, we do agree on that. When the mortgages end and no longer need to be paid and they are operationally sufficient, we can take some of that money and use it for other projects, for some of the 90,000 people that the member opposite talked about who need housing.
I would like to remind the member that our government has invested heavily in housing, providing over $16.5 billion since 2006. This helps low-income families, seniors, people with disabilities, people in aboriginal communities, and other vulnerable groups across the country. Economic action plan 2014 confirmed that we will continue to work with the provincial and territorial levels of government, municipalities, and other stakeholders, to ensure the accessibility and sustainability of housing, including social housing for those who are most in need.
Our government is investing in those Canadians who need it most through our investment in affordable housing. This will provide federal funding of $2 billion from 2011 to 2019. This program alone represents an eight-year funding commitment, and is over and above the ongoing support for existing social housing on and off reserve.
In closing, these investments are producing real results, and our government stands by its record on housing.
Housing November 25th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to stand here today to address the hon. member's question. The hon. member for York South—Weston has asked the government to explain its position on the issue of long-term funding for affordable housing in Canada, and I am pleased to have the opportunity to respond to this question today.
Let me begin by stating very clearly that my colleagues and I share the hon. member's concern for the well-being of people who find themselves in need of housing.
Our government has made unprecedented investments in affordable housing. We have made those investments over the past number of years, and we will continue to do so. Since 2006, our government, through CMHC, has invested more than $16.5 billion in housing. These investments have benefited more than 900,000 Canadian individuals and families. Again, this year, the government will provide $2 billion in housing investments right across this country.
As for the longer term, I am sure that all hon. members of the House will recall that in economic action plan 2013, we renewed the investment in affordable housing until 2019, with $1.25 billion in funding over five years. Further to that, in recognition of the distinctive needs of northern Canada, our government also announced $100 million over two years to support the construction of new and affordable housing in Nunavut.
The renewal of the investment in affordable housing ensures continuity of federal funding for housing programs across Canada, and I am pleased to say that renewal agreements have now been signed with most provinces and territories, and remaining agreements should be in place very shortly. An important component of these agreements is that provinces and territories match the federal investment in their jurisdictions. They are also responsible for designing and delivering affordable housing programs that meet their local housing needs and priorities.
Hon. members should know that the investment in affordable housing, which of course, was introduced by our government in 2011, is making a huge difference in communities all across Canada. As of September 30, over 200,000 households have benefited from this initiative.
As well, this does not include the hundreds of thousands of Canadian households that benefit from the annual federal subsidy for existing social housing units, both on and off reserve. Provinces and territories also contribute to this funding. This is provided to low-income Canadians through long-term agreements with housing groups. These agreements span 25 to 50 years, and when they mature, the federal government funding will end, as it was always planned to end, because Canadians know that when the mortgage is paid off, they stop paying the bank.
The majority of non-profit and co-operative housing projects are expected to be financially viable and mortgage free at the end of the operating agreements. Housing providers will find themselves with valuable real estate assets and a decrease in operating expenses that can be used to continue to offer affordable housing to other Canadians who need it most.
For housing projects that may face financial difficulties when subsidies end, CMHC has been actively working to help them prepare for the end of their operating agreements. It is important to remember that provinces and territories can opt to use funds from the investment in affordable housing to support projects after their operating agreements have matured.
National Child Day November 20th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, first, I would like to give my condolences, thoughts and prayers to the families of the three students who were shot today at my alma mater of Florida State University. Hopefully they are all okay.
Our government has made it a top priority to make life more affordable for Canadian families, to help them prosper, and to ensure that they have the right of choosing what is best for their own families. We want to ensure that all children get the best start in life so they can reach their potential, whether it be at home, at school, on the playground, or beyond.
Today is National Child Day and I am honoured to rise in the House and say that we are living up to our commitment to support Canadian families. Whether it be the expansion of the universal child care benefit, whether it be the doubling of the children's fitness tax credit and making it refundable, whether it be the family tax cut, we are keeping that commitment to Canadian families to make life more affordable.
I am very proud of our government and we will continue to put forward measures. I only hope that the opposition will choose to support this, because we are on the side of Canadians, their children, and making sure they have the opportunities and potential for the future.
Questions on the Order Paper November 17th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, in 2010, ESDC undertook a comprehensive review of program and service delivery. These reviews are done on an ongoing basis to ensure programs and services are focused, modern, and efficient, that they continue to respond to the priorities of Canadians, and that they are in line with core federal responsibilities. Modernizing the employment insurance processing system was part of the review.
In August 2011, the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development announced a plan to consolidate smaller and more costly employment insurance processing sites into larger regional hubs. This new service delivery model was a national strategy, informed by but not exclusively based on the 2008 regional document “Moving Forward, Growing Service Canada in the Ontario Region”. The model, to be implemented gradually over three years, focused on moving from 120 sites across the country to 22 sites.
Committees of the House November 17th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, far be it from me to do an end run. The finance minister has not put forward the budget yet for next year. We will have to wait and see what is contained in that budget. However, I can say that the focus of this government is jobs, growth, and prosperity for this nation.
I am sure that the Minister of Finance and the Prime Minister, when they were putting together this budget, consulted with people all across this country, and I know MPs from our party are doing constant budget consultations. When I do budget consultations, I am hearing from employers in my riding that they need to have a more highly skilled and developed workforce, a youth workforce that can take the jobs that they are offering.
I am sure that in the upcoming budget there will be continued support for the youth employment strategy and continued support for the programs that are in that strategy: the career focus program, the skills link program and the Canada summer jobs program. However, I think we will also see a continued support for what we have done since the economic action plan in 2008, whereby a greater focus will be put on ensuring that the focus for the summer jobs program is on the skills that are going to be needed to fill the jobs of the future.
There are 300,000 jobs in the construction trades and 150,000 jobs in mining, and many other of the skilled trades are going to be needing literally hundreds of thousands of young Canadians who are trained. I think we will see this government continuing to support that. I hope the opposition, when the time comes to vote for the budget, will support those measures. They are for the good futures of our young people in Canada.
Committees of the House November 17th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for that very important question.
One of the biggest challenges for youth who are trying to find employment is that often when they knock on the door and ask an employer to give them a job, the employer says that they would love to hire them and asks what experience they have. Sometimes they have no experience. They do not have the employable skills in their background to take on the job being offered by the employer.
That is one of the focuses of the youth summer employment program. We need to make sure that this program not only provides summer employment for students between semesters but also provides employment that will help them build the skills they need to go to work every day in their own communities after they graduate from post-secondary education or finish an apprenticeship.
We need to make sure that the youth employment program, the summer jobs program, the Career Focus program, and the skills link program have a work experience basis underpinning the fact that they are going to develop skills. It is not just a summer job between semesters; it has to provide the skills and work experience they need. It has to provide an ability to build their own skill base so that they can apply for jobs when they finish their education.
There is a continued push toward strong funding for the youth employment system and the summer jobs program, but we must also keep in mind that these programs have to include work experience that provides the skills young people need to take on the jobs of the future.
Committees of the House November 17th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time.
I would first like to commend the members of the finance committee for their excellent report on the employment challenges faced by young Canadians and for their recommendations.
As all hon. members know, this is a file on which the government has been particularly active and I welcome the opportunity to add a few observations to this discussion.
Let us start with the big picture. Overall, the economy is doing well. We bounced back from the 2008 recession in much better shape than most countries in the G7. On job creation, the numbers are solid. Over a million net new jobs have been created since 2009. That is 675,000 more than pre-recession levels. Contrary to what some people may think and some members of the media like to say, over 85% of the jobs that have been created are full-time positions, with more than two-thirds in high-wage industries.
As well, the IMF and the OECD expect that Canada will have one of the strongest-growing economies in the G7 for the next year, and the year after that.
Trade deals have been established with 44 countries, including South Korea and the 27 members of the European Union.
To top it all off, we will be presenting a balanced budget for next year.
The challenge is to ensure that we are thoroughly prepared to take advantage of the opportunities that are now before us.
One of the biggest opportunities is what is being called Canada's “new industrial revolution” in commodities and the extractive industries, specifically in the mining and oil and gas industries. It is estimated that investment in those areas over the next few years could reach as high as $650 billion. I am talking about offshore oil and gas in Newfoundland; precious metals in northern Quebec; mining operations in northern Ontario's Ring of Fire; new hydro developments in Manitoba; potash and uranium in Saskatchewan; bitumen reserves, oil and gas, and other resources in Alberta; and new mining developments in northern B.C. and across all three northern territories.
It is clear. We are going to need people with the skills, expertise, knowledge, and drive to see these and all other economic ventures come to fruition. This will translate into high-paying, high-quality jobs, primarily in occupations requiring university or college, or apprenticeships.
What does this opportunity mean for the young people of this country, young people who are getting ready to make the transition from school into the labour market, young people who are making the decision of what fields they are going to engage in as they go on to post-secondary education, as they go on to trades, as they go on to apprenticeships? What information do they need so they can challenge these new jobs and try to get employment for their future, to build a family, and to continue to build this great country?
First, it means that our economy is going to continue to expand and provide a huge number of opportunities for these young people.
However, as the committee report rightly points out, young people have particular challenges in getting a job and staying in the labour force. In Canada, the unemployment rate for young people is about double that of all other workers. The only good news is that young people tend to be unemployed for shorter periods of time—on average for 12 weeks, compared with twice that for workers over the age of 25.
I would like to point out that high youth unemployment is not just a Canadian phenomenon. It is a worldwide phenomenon or problem. In fact, our youth unemployment rate of 13.7% in 2013 was lower than the OECD average of 16.2%. For example, the U.S. rate was 15.5% and the rate in the U.K. was over 20%.
That being said, the government has a whole range of programs and policies to help guide and support young Canadians as they ready themselves for a positive career. These start at home with things like the registered education savings plan that allows families to put aside money in a tax-sheltered education savings account for future post-secondary education expenses. This is supplemented by the Canada education savings grant that can provide up to $7,200 more for Canadian youth for their education. Then there are Canada student loans and grants that continue to help hundreds of thousands of Canadian students pay for their post-secondary education.
As of this year, and because we want to encourage more people to get into the skilled trades, the student loan program has been extended with the $100 million a year Canada apprenticeship loan. It would help apprentices registered in the Red Seal trades to pay for technical training.
Recently, we also approved significant investments to expand the labour market information provided to young people across this country. This includes an additional $14 million annually on two new Statistics Canada surveys. Together, the surveys would provide Canadians, including youth, with relevant information on in-demand jobs by regions and by economic sectors. They would also provide reliable wage information from employers at the regional and local levels.
The youth employment strategy has a budget of over $360 million in 2014-15 and is helping young Canadians between 15 and 30 develop the skills and get the job experience they need for success in the workforce. The strategy includes such things as funding for Career Focus to support internships for post-secondary graduates and subsidies to employers to hire students through the Canada summer jobs program. Since 2006, our government has helped over six million youth obtain skills, training and jobs, and there is still more to do.
As hon. members know, the government has also transformed the labour market agreements and introduced the Canada job grant to bring private sector employers into the training mix. The Canada job grant gives employers a real stake in training programs and allows them to help shape those programs to better match their specific needs. By 2017-18, a total of $300 million per year will be invested nationally in the Canada job grant.
The government has also created more targeted supports for young people who have historically been under-represented in the labour force, particularly young aboriginal Canadians and young Canadians with disabilities. Upwards of 400,000 young aboriginal Canadians will reach working age over the next 10 years. We have a great opportunity with this population. Also, there are some 800,000 individuals with disabilities, including many young Canadians who are able to work but are not currently working, even though their disability does not prevent them from doing so. This represents enormous untapped potential.
The government is using the youth employment strategy, the opportunities funds for people with disabilities, and targeted funding for aboriginal youth to help young people in these groups get ready to participate full time in Canada's workforce.
In conclusion, a strong and growing economy marches forward on the skills and expertise of its workforce. That is why our government is committed to doing everything in its power to help young Canadians obtain the highest skill levels they can.
A stronger workforce would give us a more dynamic and faster-growing economy. This is something I am sure all of us here want to see and support for future years.
Employment November 4th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I am wondering, when the member was talking to the workers in the oil sands, an area where she is from, if she explained to them that her party, if it had its way, would launch a massive carbon tax on the oil sands and that the jobs they are talking about would not exist for anybody, whether they be Canadians or temporary foreign workers.
Let me reiterate that the temporary foreign worker program can only be used by employers as a last and limited resort to fill acute labour shortages on a temporary basis when qualified Canadians are not available.
The government has strengthened the enforcement provisions of the program. We have tougher penalties for employers who do not follow the rules, and that includes in the oil sands. Any allegation of an abuse of the temporary foreign worker program will be vigorously investigated. In addition to the tip line, a new complaints website has been launched to allow the public to submit tips easily and securely online.
Employment November 4th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, on September 25, when the member asked for a commitment to increased enforcement of the rules governing the temporary foreign worker program, the Minister of Employment and Social Development said he was happy to make that commitment, because it had already been made.
As all hon. members know, the minister announced a comprehensive overhaul of the temporary foreign worker program earlier this year, on June 20. The primary objective of the changes is to make sure that the program is used as intended, namely as a last and limited resort to fill acute labour shortages on a temporary basis when qualified Canadians are not available.
The changes strengthen the enforcement provisions and provide tougher penalties for those who do not follow the rules. The new application process is more comprehensive and more rigorous. For example, employers must now reveal the number of Canadians who applied for the job in question. They must also reveal the number of Canadians they interviewed for the job and provide an explanation as to why they did not hire any of those Canadians.
Employers must now state that they are aware of the rule that Canadians cannot be laid off or have their hours reduced at a work site employing temporary foreign workers.
Contrary to the member's assertion in her question, serious criminal sanctions, including fines and even jail time, can result if employers break the rules. These sanctions include revoking their permission to bring in temporary workers and being named on a public list.
There will be four times as many government inspectors, and one in four employers using the program will be inspected each and every year. Inspectors will also have greater power to catch those breaking the rules through, for example, warrantless onsite visits, the ability to compel employers to produce relevant documents, and the ability to ban employers who break the rules from the program.
Any allegations of abuse of the temporary foreign worker program will be vigorously investigated. In addition to the tip line, a new complaints web page has been launched to allow the public to submit tips easily and securely online. We encourage all Canadians who have concerns or information to call our anonymous and confidential tip line with any allegation of abuse, and it will be investigated.
There can be no doubt whatsoever that our government has not only talked the talk when it comes to enforcing these rules but has also walked the walk to ensure that the temporary foreign worker program will remain a limited and last resort to fill acute labour shortages on a temporary basis when qualified Canadians simply are not available.
It is only our government Canadians can trust when it comes to putting Canadians first, and we will take no lessons from the NDP on this file.
Social Development October 30th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for Winnipeg South Centre. She is a highly effective member and again she is on the right track.
Statistics Canada says that of the 46% that do use some form of child care, approximately a third uses daycare centres, another third uses home daycares, and the remaining third uses private arrangements. We are on the right track. It is a flexible system. We support the universal child care benefit.
If the opposition gets the chance, it is going to take that benefit away from moms and dads across this country. It should get on board and support our plan for child care.