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Evidence of meeting #63 for Finance in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was changes.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Claude Poirier  President, Professional Serving Canadians Coalition, Canadian Association of Professional Employees
Tyler Sommers  Coordinator, Democracy Watch
Terrance Oakey  President, Merit Canada
Bob Linton  Director, Government and Political Affairs, United Food and Commerical Workers Union

1 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative James Rajotte

We're trying to pass a bill, the Financial Literacy Leader Act, for example, and we can't get the opposition to say let's take it to committee and have a discussion there. This bill is to establish a financial literacy leader. It's not an omnibus bill, it's not a controversial piece of legislation, and we can't get it to committee. This is the reality of government, the situation we face as a government, and the situation a lot of governments face.

So how do we allow for adequate debate and still allow passage of bills when a government has a majority?

1 p.m.

Coordinator, Democracy Watch

Tyler Sommers

I think at the end of the day you are going to face those instances. But if you can honestly look at yourself and say, “I've fully represented all of my constituents' views in this piece of legislation”, then you've probably done your job well. I don't think that—

1 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative James Rajotte

But you can never represent all of your constituents' views at any one time because not all of my constituents have ever agreed on any one issue. There is always disagreement, right?

1 p.m.

Coordinator, Democracy Watch

Tyler Sommers

But to the best of your abilities, you need to represent your constituents, and I understand that. I don't think that anyone, to the best of their abilities, could represent their constituents when there's a 500-page bill that affects virtually every aspect of Canadian society. That was essentially my point.

1 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative James Rajotte

It's a serious question. If you have anything further to say on that, I'd appreciate it.

Mr. Linton, I wish you could come to my riding and I'd take you out to Nisku and we'd do round tables. I say this because in every round table that I do with every size of business, from two people to 2,000, they say to me, “James, we need people.” They bang the table and say, “We need people—skilled, unskilled, all types.” This is an epidemic in western Canada—certainly in my area.

I hear a lot of criticism about what the government is doing. We've done a lot on the apprenticeship side.

But what is your solution then for the people in my riding—the hotels, the restaurants, the large businesses, PCL and others—who say, “We need 20 people”, “We need 75 people”, or “We need 1,000 people, James, in our business today. Do you know anyone?” We have so much poaching going on between various companies.

What is the solution, then? If you don't like what we're doing, what is your solution to that chronic situation in my riding?

1 p.m.

Director, Government and Political Affairs, United Food and Commerical Workers Union

Bob Linton

Well, I would defer to the gentleman from Fort McMurray. An example up there is that there has been a hard time getting workers up there, especially in the service and retail sectors. One of the things that has happened up there is that UFCW Canada has moved in and started negotiations with all of those companies up there, got collective agreements, and all of a sudden those people are able to afford to live up in Fort McMurray. That's one of the things you can do—making make sure that those people are being paid a decent wage and have some benefits. That certainly helps.

1 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative James Rajotte

My riding is right outside the Edmonton International Airport. You can come and visit, and I will take you to every single company. They have signs saying “workers needed”, and then they'll list the workers.

With all due respect, we need some answers on how to deal with that. We've made some changes to our immigration system. We've made some changes with respect to EI. We're desperate. One of our longest-term economic challenges is finding enough people to fill these positions.

1 p.m.

Director, Government and Political Affairs, United Food and Commerical Workers Union

Bob Linton

I'm not saying there's not a shortage in western Canada in some areas, but that's not the whole country. As I say—

1 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative James Rajotte

But another province experiencing a labour shortage is Newfoundland.

1 p.m.

Director, Government and Political Affairs, United Food and Commerical Workers Union

Bob Linton

And there's an oil boom there. But if people are treated decently, given a decent wage and some benefits so that they can live in those areas.... And $185,000, he said, is the minimum wage—

1:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative James Rajotte

Okay, but take my riding. We actually have situations where people will go through drive-throughs and restaurants, take their card, write a number on the back and say, if you're making this now, you'll be making this tomorrow if you come work for us. That's what's happening in my riding, and we need to address that situation somehow. We can either quintuple immigration to 1.5 million or 1.3 million people a year.... I don't think that's the answer that Canadians see, going past 300,000. So we need something to address that.

I'm looking forward to any suggestions you may have now or in the future. I appreciate it.

1:05 p.m.

Director, Government and Political Affairs, United Food and Commerical Workers Union

Bob Linton

Put more moneys into training.

1:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative James Rajotte

We've done a lot on apprenticeship and training since 2006, and I'd be happy to do more on that.

I want to thank you all for your time, especially for waiting for the committee and staying the extra time. We sincerely appreciate that. Thank you.

Members, you can keep your stuff here if you want, and we will resume at 5 p.m.

The meeting is adjourned.