Evidence of meeting #47 for Industry, Science and Technology in the 41st Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was jobs.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

John Knubley  Deputy Minister, Department of Industry

12:40 p.m.

Conservative

James Moore Conservative Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam, BC

According to Mr. Smith’s testimony, the Statistics Canada team provides quality information at a reasonable cost to taxpayers. It does everything it can to gain the trust of scientists, the Government of Canada and all Canadians. The quality of the 2016 census information will be the same as the previous census.

The quality of information is partly ensured by the commitments and partnerships that Statistics Canada is entering into with other government agencies to share quality information. The 2016 census will be even better than the last, it will cost less and the quality of information will be more trustworthy than ever before.

12:40 p.m.

NDP

Annick Papillon NDP Québec, QC

I knew you were going to talk about Mr. Smith's point of view.

In reality, your answer would leave the most humble researchers stunned. It is not the quantity that matters, but rather the need to ensure that all categories of the population will be represented. In a survey, we want to be able to see trends such as when a barely visible minority finally expands. That is the most valuable part.

With the way things are right now, we cannot detect a pattern emerging regarding a barely visible minority that is becoming increasingly significant. That is what we want to examine to be able to make predictions.

12:45 p.m.

Conservative

James Moore Conservative Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam, BC

I understand your concern. I recognize that it is essential that Statistics Canada and I, as Minister of Industry, seriously understand the existing concerns. Because of the information, current debates and concerns, Statistics Canada is now checking that we have quality information.

12:45 p.m.

NDP

Annick Papillon NDP Québec, QC

However, the sample is not probabilistic. How can you explain that?

12:45 p.m.

Conservative

James Moore Conservative Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam, BC

Excuse me?

May 26th, 2015 / 12:45 p.m.

NDP

Annick Papillon NDP Québec, QC

The sample is no longer probabilistic. This creates all kinds of biases, which is a problem.

Let me give you a concrete example. In the area of housing, an organization has found some surprising data on Quebec City. The results suggest that the condition of housing in Quebec City improved between 2006 and 2011. However, landlords and tenant groups agree that the situation has deteriorated according to the Front d'action populaire en réaménagement urbain (FRAPRU) in Quebec City. Immigrant households appear to have better housing conditions, while the opposite is true. We had never seen this kind of distortion in the past. In terms of the National Household Survey, the non-response rate was 32% compared to 6% for the census conducted in 2006 with the long form.

Do you understand the gravity of the situation?

12:45 p.m.

Conservative

James Moore Conservative Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam, BC

Actually, it is not that simple. The other departments are doing their research. They are looking for good quality information, including from the census. There are other commitments. We are talking about quality information that will be added to the census. This is not the only way information is obtained for the Government of Canada, for Quebec and for all regions. We are talking about quality information and statistics, so that we can make accurate decisions.

12:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative David Sweet

That's all the time we have. It's over.

Thank you very much, Minister.

We now move on to Mr. Warawa.

12:45 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Conservative Langley, BC

Thank you very much, Minister, for being here to answer questions regarding the main estimates.

We all know that the Liberals and the NDP want to raise taxes. They have made a lot of promises, and those promises can only be paid for by raising taxes. We know of the carbon tax, which both parties support.

Minister, could you elaborate on the government's plan as opposed to the opposition's plan? Also, you got cut off when you were trying to explain funding for Genome Canada and your personal experience. Could you elaborate on that too, please?

12:45 p.m.

Conservative

James Moore Conservative Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam, BC

Well, I was just trying to.... I didn't want to get too much into the weeds. Geoff had a bunch of questions that were precise. I didn't mean to go on too long and cut him off, but I was trying to assuage any anxiety you have about whether I get it.

I get the concerns that Canadians have. We're not cutting back on funding in any way that's jeopardizing people's health. It's a shared partnership for this kind of research that's done between us, the private sector, universities, and of course provincial governments as well.

You're quite right: there's a whole new universe of scientific discovery and of the personalization of medical information and medical discovery that is critical for all governments to understand and for us to invest effectively in and to work on with other levels of government effectively so that we can have treatments of rare conditions. That is really important.

As a matter of fact, Minister Ambrose is going to have some good news announcements on some rare disease and rare disorder policies coming up about orphan drugs and having a proper index of these kinds of things, about which this kind of scientific discovery is important.

Now, about the opposition wanting to raise taxes—

12:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

12:45 p.m.

Conservative

James Moore Conservative Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam, BC

Look, I actually think this is a good debate. You pay attention in Parliament to the debate over Bill C-59, over the different parties and the platform. Not to be too analytical about the politics of this, I think there's a very good debate in the country right now. I think there's a pretty clear choice about where we're going. I think Canada is in a very good place. If you look at KPMG's assessment, you see that the costs to create a business in Canada are 46% lower than in the United States.

I have a quotation that I come to often, by former Secretary of State and New York senator Hillary Clinton, who says:

Canadian middle class incomes are now higher than in the United States. They are working fewer hours for more pay…living longer on average, and facing less income inequality.

It's true that Canada is doing well. We have incredible challenges, of course. It's a competitive global economy. The manufacturing sector has some very specific and acute challenges in particular sectors. We have to work well with provincial governments, who sometimes are working at counter purposes to us in terms of lowering costs and being competitive. But we have to work together to make sure that we're maximizing the quality of our investments in infrastructure. I say this often, but this infrastructure question is important, which is why it comes up often in question period. It's so essential.

We're the second largest country in the world in size, but 37th largest in population. That's a gap, but there is also a gap in our fiscal capacity to make sure that we are all connected together as a country and that we're taking full advantage of that connectivity for economic benefit. It's why we have to work really well with provinces to build the infrastructure we need to be economically competitive going forward, east and west and north and south.

It is really important that we stay competitive, that we be fiscally responsible, that we balance the budget so that we have the fiscal flexibility to have the programs we have, such as the infrastructure program, the Building Canada fund, the gas tax fund, and all these programs, so that we can invest in infrastructure, be competitive, be cost-competitive, have world-class infrastructure, improve our quality of life, and be able to compete.

The policies, for example, in the auto sector that are in place in Mexico are not something we should be looking to import into Canada—billions of dollars in corporate welfare, lower-than-minimum wage standards of pay for workers. We need to make sure that we have good quality jobs in the auto sector and that we're competitive in other ways, and the only way we're going to stay competitive is if we maintain our fiscal discipline so that we can keep taxes low and can compete in other areas in terms of quality productivity, quality employment, and competitive cost pressures.

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative David Sweet

Thank you very much, Minister Moore and Mr. Warawa.

Now we go on to Mr. Masse.

12:50 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thank you, Minister, for being here.

I want to talk a little about tourism. It's an important part of our economy.

Bill C-290 was passed in the House of Commons three years ago. It allows the provinces to choose, if they want to, to have single sports betting, through a simple elimination of one sentence in the Criminal Code.

Now, this has languished in the Senate for three years. British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec all want at least to provide a potential product for this, and we're getting expressions of interest. The United States is moving towards this as well.

My simple question for you, at this point in time, is—because this really affects the revenues going to organized crime, the nefarious offshore betting accounts.... In the last three weeks that we have here, if this bill is not passed, it folds. Will you intervene, or at least attempt with your Conservative colleagues in the Senate, including the sponsor, Bob Runciman, to see whether this bill can pass? It was passed unanimously in the House of Commons.

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

James Moore Conservative Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam, BC

It was passed in the House of Commons. I supported the legislation. But it wasn't passed without some serious concern being raised, as you know.

12:50 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

I just want to cut you off here. The debate around the procedure is a false debate. There were not five members of the House of Commons who wanted to oppose it and hold an actual recorded vote, and we have voice votes that pass in the House of Commons on a regular basis.

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

James Moore Conservative Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam, BC

I know it wasn't without its controversy. I remember the story of this very well, Brian.

But, look, the Senate has its own process, and I'm not going to intervene in the Senate process. As you said, this is related to tourism, and the Senate committee is examining it, and I will leave it to them.

You're obviously an aggressive supporter of the bill. I've known you for many years, and I know you to be an aggressive fighter for things you believe in, and I encourage you to speak to those senators who are deliberating over the bill.

12:50 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

I just hope you reconsider because it affects jobs from Canada—British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec, in particular.

I'll turn the rest of my time over to Ms. Nash. Thank you.

12:50 p.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash NDP Parkdale—High Park, ON

Thank you, Brian, for sharing your time.

I want to ask another question about jobs. The employment rate has dropped to barely 61%. Part-time employment is increasing at twice the rate of full-time employment. I talked earlier about precarious jobs.

We've seen some high-profile bad news, losing the Camaro line out of Oshawa, and the Jaguar announcement about deciding not to invest in Ontario. We saw the money going from EDC to Volkswagen, which is in fact investing in Mexico. Since about 2012 we've lost 25% of our manufacturing auto capacity.

So I'd like to ask you again, Mr. Minister, why isn't the government doing more to champion advanced manufacturing, to champion our auto sector, and to do whatever we need to do to keep these good quality jobs here in Canada because if we don't keep the assembly jobs, we're not going to keep the parts jobs. You well know how the supply chain works; you can't have one without the other.

We're not growing in auto assembly. In fact, we're shrinking dramatically. What are we going to do to increase our capacity here?

12:55 p.m.

Conservative

James Moore Conservative Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam, BC

Well, I've used this example before. You pointed out some of the tough news we've had and some of the challenges we've had, but there is also some good news.

GM is expanding and building the Equinox; 3,000 jobs are going to be secured in Ingersoll. The new Ford GT is being made in Canada. Ford, in Oakville, is expanding. They have 4,500 in total employment and are adding 1,000 new jobs this year because of the Canada-European Union free trade agreement that is going to allow the Lincoln MKX and the Ford Edge to be sold into the European market.

So I would frankly turn the question back to you. I would hope that the New Democrats would support the Canada-European Union free trade agreement, which is creating jobs in the auto sector. Chrysler is investing $2 billion into the Windsor minivan plant. You mentioned the Camaro. It's true that the Oshawa mandate has been lost, but the engine is going to continue to be built in Canada, and GM is also putting in a new technology park, an investment in creating new jobs, in the Oshawa footprint.

Your question is, why aren't we doing more on advanced manufacturing? We have the advanced manufacturing fund, the automotive innovation fund, the automotive supplier fund. It's high-level rhetoric to just say, why aren't you doing more?—

12:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative David Sweet

That's all.

12:55 p.m.

Conservative

James Moore Conservative Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam, BC

—but I have yet to see you suggest anything other than what we have done in terms of a specific policy.

12:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative David Sweet

That's all—

12:55 p.m.

Conservative

James Moore Conservative Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam, BC

You say we should have a strategy, but we have specific policies that are yielding real results.

12:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative David Sweet

That's all the time we have, Minister.