I would like to raise three points and then listen to your replies.
There has been a lot of talk about Job Alert, an on-line system. I share my colleague's fears in that regard. Basic programs for community access computer centres will no longer be funded. In certain areas, where up to 40% of residents regularly look for work, particularly because of seasonal realities, those workers often have some challenges in that they lack essential, basic skills. In many cases, they don't have access to computers. In addition, the community access computer centres have been eliminated, and these were used a great deal in certain towns.
Given those circumstances, on the one hand I wonder how such decisions can be made, and on the other, how anyone can think that Internet alerts will reach all of the Canadians who need that information. That was my first point.
When we toured the Canadian west, not one witness told us that Canadians were lazy, or were refusing to work. However, we heard a lot of testimony from industry representatives, chamber of commerce members, owners of Tim Hortons, according to which the social environment makes access to the labour market difficult for some.
For instance, in Fort McMurray, a very likeable gentleman told us that there were many young people who have the necessary skills to drive his trucks, but because of the prevalence of soft drugs or alcohol consumption, 70% of them do not pass the test after three months. The problem was not a shortage of candidates, but a substantive social problem. In Whitehorse, a chamber of commerce representative told us that the cost of living is so high that single mothers cannot have access to the labour market because they cannot afford the high cost of day care.
Was your department ever asked to examine those issues and determine how many people could have access to the labour market but are prevented from doing so by this type of environmental or social issue? Is this a part of the department's duties?
Furthermore, during the committee's hearings in the Canadian west, one witness suggested that an accelerated mechanism be put in place to process applications from those employers who have shown that they comply with the TFWP rules. It was pointed out that this worked better in Quebec than elsewhere.
Is there some way of facilitating awarding permanent resident status to workers who have been in the country for a long time, especially those the community says it needs, if they have been working here for three years, for instance?