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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
The Environment October 20th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to have the opportunity to participate in this debate.
I would like to reassure the member that the Government of Canada is committed to protecting the safety and security of both Canadians and the Canadian environment.
Let me first provide the member with some background about the project. The Belledune rail terminal and transfer system project consists of buildings and infrastructure required to receive petroleum products by rail, store them on site, and load them onto marine vessels for shipment through Belledune's terminal 2.
A science-based environmental assessment review of the project was undertaken by the Province of New Brunswick. The environment department was given the opportunity to comment on environmental emergencies, oil spill prevention, preparedness and response, potential spills at sea, dredge materials, migratory birds, wildlife species at risk, and air quality. Those comments were offered for consideration in the planning, construction, and operation of the proposed project.
The disposal of dredged spoils into the sea would require the proponent to contact Environment Canada to verify whether such a permit is required under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act.
I would also like to mention that under the government's responsible resource development plan, rigorous environmental protection measures are being implemented to ensure the sustainable development of our natural resources. This includes ensuring the protection of the environment at the proposed Belledune rail terminal and transfer system.
The government has already taken major steps to enhance an already robust oil tanker safety system regime and created a world-class regime that protects both coastal communities and our environment.
As the member may know, Environment Canada has a mandate to protect the environment from emergency pollution incidents and takes water pollution very seriously. Environment Canada enforces strong environmental laws, such as the Fisheries Act, and this government would enforce any laws or regulations that may have been violated as a result of a spill and ensure that the parties responsible would take responsibility to remedy any damage.
Employment October 20th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, we believe in a targeted approach that encourages all Canadians to train for the jobs that are going to be there in the future. Jobs should, wherever possible, go to qualified locals such as youth and aboriginal people.
In the last budget, as I said in my previous remarks, we invested a great deal in resources to help train people for available jobs. I would ask the member, when we bring these initiatives forward, can we count on his support to vote for those resources being allocated to train people in northern Ontario so they will be trained and ready for those jobs when those jobs come to fruition?
The Ring of Fire holds tremendous economic promise for aboriginal communities, for the Mattawa First Nations of northern Ontario in particular. That is why we support aboriginal people in gaining the skills needed in a rapidly growing mining industry through partnerships such as the one we have with the KKETS, Noront Resources Ltd, and the Confederation College in Thunder Bay, which includes a total of $5.9 million in funding.
Any employer who wishes to use the temporary foreign worker program must comply with strict criteria to ensure that Canadians will have first crack at those jobs. We stand behind that.
Employment October 20th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, the simple answer to that question is yes. I can assure the hon. member that Canadians will always be considered first for projects in the Ring of Fire. Any employers asking to use the temporary foreign worker program will be required to show that these workers are being hired as a limited and last resort, a requirement that applies to all employers who apply for this program.
It is completely unacceptable that Ontario's youth unemployment rate hovers between 16% and 17%, nearly three percentage points higher than the national average, but I also think we would be taking a short-sighted view if we believe that banning all temporary foreign workers from our work sites would somehow magically lower the unemployment rate among our youth.
There is no doubt that the Ring of Fire in the mineral-rich James Bay lowlands in northern Ontario holds much promise for Canada and Ontario. Let us take a look at these facts. There are many challenges associated with the Ring of Fire mining development, not the least of which is the difficulty of accessing remote areas and a serious shortage of infrastructure such as roads, rail lines and broadband capacity. Addressing these deficits will require highly skilled people, from heavy equipment operators to engineers, from pipefitters to Internet technicians.
The true issue then is what we can do to ensure that Canadians, including youth, can take full advantage of the job opportunities when they arise. The economic action plan provides an answer. In the last federal budget, we announced that our government is creating more opportunities for apprentices and supporting under-represented groups including youth. That is one reason we introduced the Canada job grant. It will help more people benefit from valuable skills training and allow more employers to develop the skilled workforce they need to keep contributing to the economic success of this country and Ontario.
We are also introducing the Canada apprentice loan. This is estimated to help at least 26,000 apprentices each and every year. Connecting Canadians to the skilled training they need to fill available jobs is one of the best ways we can address labour shortages and fill the skills gap.
In addition, just last year in the member's riding of Thunder Bay—Superior North, we announced a $5.9 million contribution to KKETS employment training services so that aboriginal people in the Ring of Fire can get the skills and training they need to find good-quality, high-paying jobs in the mining industry, jobs such as heavy equipment operators, underground diamond drillers and environmental monitors. This investment in training is urgently needed in a region where over 40% of the employers said they could not fill a job due to a shortage of qualified people.
I will repeat, any employer who wishes to use the temporary foreign worker program must comply with strict criteria to ensure that Canadians will have first crack at all available jobs. We will continue to pursue significant reforms to the temporary foreign worker program to ensure that employers make greater efforts to recruit and train Canadians. This program is to be used as a last and limited resort only when Canadians are not available.
Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act October 10th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, this has been a huge and impactful issue for young people in my riding of Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley. As a former school principal, I have seen first hand the damage that cyberbullying can do, and continues to do, to our young people. Unfortunately, in my riding we have had over four young people commit suicide, in part or in full due to cyberbullying because they were being tortured online, sometimes by adults, sometimes by peers within their own school community.
I had the opportunity to sit with the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness a couple of summers ago and with the parents of children who had committed suicide due to ongoing persecution online, many times by their peers.
We absolutely have to take hold of this issue. I give credit to the minister for bringing this legislation forward. It is very needed. I am proud of the fact our government has stood in support of our young people across the country.
Would the hon. member inform the House why it is so important that we pass this legislation as quickly as possible so we can step up and protect our children?
Government Programs October 10th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the Minister of Employment and Social Development announced that the Canada job grant applications were now available in Alberta, and the same thing was occurring in the Northwest Territories. We are getting the job done. This is a terrific program.
Over the next 10 years, we will need over 300,000 new construction workers in Canada, 150,000 new workers in the petroleum sector and 145,000 in the mining sector.
The Canada job grants can deliver guaranteed jobs at the end of this training. It is a good program. Those members should be on board.
Housing October 10th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, this government is making record investments in low-income housing across the country. We have initiated a new policy called housing first. Just imagine, now people who are homeless can get a home and when they then apply for jobs and have to fill in their addresses, they can fill in actual addresses. Imagine how much stronger that is going to make those applications.
We are supporting people who get jobs. That is the best social program. We are supporting housing in this country. We are getting the job done.
The Economy October 10th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, the anti-trade NDP is at it again. Yesterday, the NDP attempted to gut the Canada-Korea free trade agreement. It tried to remove the investor protection provision from that agreement. This is something that is contained in almost every modern free trade agreement worldwide.
Not surprisingly, the Liberal trade critic did not show up to help stop the NDP's anti-trade agenda. Then, again, she has not attended a trade meeting in the ten months since she was appointed as the critic.
While the Liberals and the NDP are playing hooky, our Conservative government is focused on what matters to Canadians, which is growing the economy and helping to create jobs. Since coming to office, our Conservative government has created almost 20% more jobs on a per capita basis than its closest competitor. In fact, Statistics Canada just announced today an increase of 74,000 net new jobs in September. The majority of those jobs are full-time jobs.
Only the Conservative Prime Minister and the Conservative government will stand up for the economy of this country.
Social Development October 9th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, as I said, the Social Security Tribunal is streamlining its processes and the operations it has in place. It continues to develop and improve these processes in order to review cases as fairly and expeditiously as possible. We want a system that treats all people fairly and operates quickly for both taxpayers and the recipients and claimants for these appeals, but we have to make sure we get the job done right.
Since April 1, 2013, when it began its operations, the income security section of the general division has concluded more than 1,500 income security cases. As of April 1, 2014, in order to better manage the IS caseload, the tribunal implemented a new process to ensure that all appeals are treated fairly and efficiently, and that generally gives priority to the older cases. The ones that have existed the longest are going to be dealt with first.
Members have flexibility in choosing the form of hearing, which ensures that the parties will benefit from a fair and efficient appeal process that is convenient for all parties. There are 38 tribunal members dedicated to making decisions on IS cases alone, and the SST expects to achieve significant progress by the end of this fiscal year.
The SST is committed to providing a fair, independent, credible, and impartial appeal system for all Canadians.
Social Development October 9th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I am glad to have the opportunity to address the question by the hon. member for York South—Weston regarding the Social Security Tribunal.
The tribunal began its operations on April 1, 2013. It was created to simplify and streamline employment insurance and income security appeal processes by offering a single point of contact for all cases.
The new appeal system operates from a different legislative and regulatory basis than the four former tribunals and includes two levels of appeal: the general division, which includes the income security and employment insurance sections, and the appeal division.
The income security section of the general division is responsible for old age security, the Canada pension plan, and CPP disability appeals, of which the latter represents more than 90% of the division's caseload.
On April 1, 2013, 7,224 appeals were transferred from the Office of the Commissioner of Review Tribunals. Approximately 3,500 new cases were received at the general division during the tribunal's first year.
During the first year, parties to all these cases were allowed a new 365-day period, provided by the regulations, during which they could file additional documents. Only if both parties signalled that they had no more documents to submit and file would they be able to proceed, and the tribunal could then, and only then, hear the case.
The good news is that in 2013-14 there was an 85% decrease in appeals to the SST compared to what was received by the Board of Referees previously.
Generally, the oldest cases are assigned first, and parties no longer need to confirm their readiness to proceed with a case. As well, parties are provided an opportunity to continue to file new documents closer to the hearing date, and all new documents received are shared with the other parties for a response.
All cases are assigned and dealt with by the 38 tribunal members who are dedicated to making quasi-judicial decisions on income security cases. These members can decide to hold a hearing through written questions and answers, teleconference, videoconference, or in person, or they can make a decision on the basis of the documents and submissions filed in the first place.
The decision is based on the particular case, with consideration of a number of factors, including, but not limited to, the complexity of the case, the number of anticipated parties and participants who will be involved, whether credibility is a prevailing issue, and any accommodation needs that have to be met to support the claimants. This flexibility in the choice of the form of hearing ensures that the parties will benefit from a fair and efficient appeal process that is convenient for all parties.
The new tribunal also continues to develop and improve its systems and operational processes to address all cases as fairly and as expeditiously as possible.
The Social Security Tribunal and its members are working hard to process the backlog as well as process the new cases that are coming in.
Our government believes that social programs such as employment insurance, CPP, and OAS are important to Canadians. That is why a faster, more streamlined approach to the process was introduced on April 1, 2014.
Teaching Awards October 7th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, today the Prime Minister will announce the recipients of the Prime Minister's Awards for Teaching Excellence and for Excellence in Early Childhood Education. This year's awards will be presented to 54 recipients from across the country, and 17 of these will receive the national awards from the Prime Minister at an event in Ottawa later today.
As someone who actually led a couple of schools in Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, I was very fortunate to work with several very inspiring and excellent teachers. I know the rare qualities that teachers have to be able to deliver effective education to our young people.
The Prime Minister's Awards for Teaching Excellence recognize the outstanding elementary and secondary school teachers in all disciplines who, through the innovative use of communications and technology, help Canadian students meet the challenges of the 21st century, societally and economically.
I am very proud to wish the nominees all the very best and thank them for their hard work and dedication to ensure that Canadian youth live, grow, and thrive.