Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Céré has said that he disagreed with Bill C-50. And I heard the member from Dartmouth—Cole Harbour speak about why you might disagree with the bill. But what do you tell those workers who would benefit from this bill, the 190,000 or so who would be receiving $900 million over three years? How do you stand up and vote against a bill like that, as the members of the Liberal Party and the Bloc proposed to do? What do you tell those workers?
Craig Riddell, a UBC professor and member of the expert panel on older workers, found that long-tenured workers are hardest hit by unemployment and take up to 35% longer to find new employment than other workers.
It is a question of taking the dollars and targeting them to those who need them most, those who have paid most into the system, worked the longest, and need that support. How do you oppose them by saying that we don't want them to have those benefits?
I heard Mr. Casey speak about how you need to take this measure in the context of everything else that's happening. We've added five weeks of benefits across the board. About 300,000 workers are estimated to benefit. We added $500 million for approximately 40,000 long-tenured workers. There is $1.5 billion on top of $2.5 billion for training—something I'm sure the Federation of Independent Business would support. And we had a targeted initiative for older workers—$60 million, and five to twenty extra weeks of benefits in this proposed legislation. If you take it as a group, a suite of programs, you'd have to say that a significant amount of benefits will be flowing out. Significant steps have been taken.
With respect to the work-sharing program, there have been a number of responses. I have one from the Michelin Tire company, which has 500 employees benefiting from the work-sharing program. The company spokesman remarked that the work-share program had allowed Michelin to avoid layoffs and maintain their workforce. He characterized the program as a win-win-win for the company, its employees, and the government, and said that it would help Michelin to rebound quickly when market demand returns.
I'm hearing almost the same thing from Mr. Casey of the Forest Products Association of Canada.
So there's a divergence of opinions and there are different things that need to be done. But taken in context, it's something that is beneficial. With respect to work-sharing, how have your employees and workers responded to the work-sharing and Bill C-50 that we're proposing?