House of Commons Hansard #13 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was programs.

Topics

Social Security SystemGovernment Orders

7:40 p.m.

Reform

Keith Martin Reform Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is important for the hon. opposition member to understand that health care services are pulling the wool over the eyes of the Canadian public by instituting a concept called rationing. That means they are telling hospitals how many hips or bypass surgeries they can do. As a result the Canadian public is being deprived of service under the guise of so-called universality. In this current situation people who need essential health care services are not getting them because of the rationing and the withdrawal of services.

We in the Reform Party are trying to say that people who are sick are not obtaining services in a timely fashion. Let us recognize that. Let us do something about that with the amount of funds we have now.

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7:40 p.m.

Liberal

Bernie Collins Liberal Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, this evening I had the pleasure to listen to members of the Reform, the Bloc and the Liberal parties put forward their presentations. It is refreshing that people have come here with an honest concern for considering the social aspects of the society in which we live.

I have had experiences working for three years in a boys' school that I will likely never forget. I guess another name for it would be reform school. Hon. members would like me to recognize the school was for wayward people who were to be straightened around. I did not want to tell them but it is true.

One young fellow who was there while I worked there ran away to his home in North Battleford. He visited me while I was attending university. He wanted to know what he should do. We sat there for two hours, at the end of which time I said: "Make up your mind. If you want to go back I will take you back". He decided to go back and serve his time, which he did.

On returning to the institution one of the people working there called him a stupid so-and-so and said: "What are you doing back here? Why didn't you keep running?" Those were the people who were looking after him. Those were the people we entrusted with our young people.

As I travelled to Moose Mountain after the election I picked up a young fellow in Grenfell, Saskatchewan. He was from Richmond, B.C. He was 18 years old and did not even have a grade nine education. He was going to Winnipeg to get a job as a salesman. Now it is true some people would say that is fantastic. I tried to encourage him to go back home to his parents and improve his education. I hope he does.

I bring before us these analogies of the problems that face us all. We elected four Liberals from Saskatchewan. They wanted to make sure there was a balance so they put a teacher on the ballot. I know that one of those four, a fellow member, is a lawyer. He feels there is an equal balance now: three lawyers and one teacher.

With regard to human resource development we are honoured to have the hon. member for Winnipeg South Centre as minister in charge. My constituents have made clear in many meetings and discussions that they have many concerns regarding our social programs, a fundamental part of our country that requires review.

On the issue of fiscal relations and federal spending power, concern revolves around our ability to form a partnership of fiscal cohesion throughout the country to deliver social programs. When one considers that federal spending on social programs is between $70 billion and $80 billion annually, which equals as much as two-thirds of program spending at the federal level, there is a level of dissatisfaction among the voters of Souris-Moose Mountain over the manner in which our social programs are structured. I would like for a moment to discuss some of the needs we see in regard to the Unemployment Insurance Commission programs. We feel we need to move toward a level of maximum payout so that there is a ceiling on earnings one can make during a year in order to be beneficiary of UIC. In my opinion seasonal jobs which continue to require a payout year after year need to be reviewed. We cannot constantly require a higher contribution from both employer and employee in particular seasonal occupations.

Also we have to allocate earnings more effectively to those who are receiving unemployment so they can be actively doing something, performing some type of work or receiving some form of education during the period between jobs. If we can improve their educational background we can provide them with the additional incentive to be able to enter the workforce in a productive nature.

As well, we have to encourage employers to retain staff so if they wish to downsize they do it through natural attrition rather than make thousands of Canadians face job loss and uncertainty. Nowhere in the history of Canada have we seen so many people going to work day after day fearful of losing their jobs.

I would like to highlight those students completing degrees and looking to go into the workforce but are unable to find work. They should have an opportunity to work as assistants to senior people in their chosen fields. This would help them gain some credibility and obtain a work record. This would also help them to enter into the job placement process.

I would like to address a concern of mine regarding education and young people receiving assistance in the form of student loans. We have to ensure that their expectations in terms of paying back their loans are reasonable. We must frame it in a manner in which repayment of the loans is reasonable and they have some certainty of a place in the job market when they have completed their degree. As well interest rates must reflect the ability of young people to pay. If we want our young people to be educated and our human resources to be competitive restructuring of the student loan program is essential.

When we review social security programs some very serious facts need to be addressed. My riding includes seven First Nations bands. I know their hopes and aspirations. They hope for recognition as a First Nation and for self-government. They too search out in hope for the best for their families.

We now find that families in which both the husband and wife work outside the home are nearing 60 per cent of all families in the workforce. There are many latch-key children, youngsters leaving home for school likely with no breakfast, returning home at noon likely with no lunch and coming home after school with no adult to greet them.

This is a very serious problem. I am not questioning the actions of parents. Many families would much sooner have one parent at home. However the reality is that they need two incomes just to keep the family together and to pay the bills. We see many single parent families headed by women. They are growing at an ever increasing rate. We have the highest incidence of low income in this group. The needs of these families are real and great. The demands placed on single parents are even greater.

The schools could have a great deal to do with before and after school programs. The infrastructure and the schools are there. They are heated. We could create programs within the structure to assist parents requiring assistance with their children while they must be at work. What about the children of the next generation? We know that 1.1 million people live in households with social assistance as a way of life. We also know that in March 1993 three million Canadians required social assistance.

This year is significant in that it is the International Year of the Family and the International Year of Indigenous Peoples. For each member of the 35th Parliament, our concerns for these groups are very real and growing. We must address their concerns and we will. For the young, we must address their family needs; for youth, the need for jobs; for seniors, a social safety net whereby they are assured their pensions will not be eroded. We cannot allow the poor and the disadvantaged to go unheard. We must assist.

The payouts for these programs are significant: $7.4 million in welfare payments. When we take a look at our red book we find that our proposals show a strong desire to return hope for desperation, to remove fear and to provide a decent way of life for Canadians. The challenge is tremendous.

Social Security SystemGovernment Orders

7:50 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

As hon. members are aware, the debate will be extended until 8.52 p.m. Since we have five minutes left for questions and comments, I now recognize the hon. member for Beauharnois-Salaberry.

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7:50 p.m.

Bloc

Laurent Lavigne Bloc Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to the comments of the hon. member who just spoke. In his speech, he showed his concern for people who are employed but are afraid of losing their jobs. I must say I share his concern because we have a plant called Expro which manufactures military equipment. Not so long ago, the plant had 1,000 jobs, and now there are only 400 left.

As part of the pre-budget process we are involved in today, I would like to make a suggestion and also put a question to the previous speaker. Would his government be able to do what was done in the United States by Bill Clinton, who set aside a certain amount of money in the defence budget for reconversion of the defence industry? Now that the cold war is over, we do not need as many plants. Orders are shrinking, and that is what causes lay-offs. In the United States, they set aside a certain amount of money in the defence budget to be invested in converting defence plants to civilian production.

Does the hon. member who just spoke agree with this suggestion? Would he be willing to put this proposal to his government so that we could convert defence plants to civilian use?

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7:50 p.m.

Liberal

Bernie Collins Liberal Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, I respect the question of the hon. member. I feel that he is as competent as I am in making that suggestion to the government. As I see the 35th Parliament, all of us are that government. Each of those suggestions have merit. Why not put it forward? I certainly have no problem with that.

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7:50 p.m.

Reform

Ian McClelland Reform Edmonton Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, I wish to congratulate the hon. member for an excellent presentation. I am sure many people on this side of the House agreed, as did I, with virtually everything he said. It is probably because he came to the Reform honestly, as did I, except that I attended reform school when I was about 12. That was when I got started in Reform.

I wonder if the member would mind expanding on student loans. This is an extremely important situation facing thousands of graduates who are going into default because they cannot get jobs and therefore cannot pay back their student loans.

I wonder if, from the member's side of the House, he could start to do something and we could carry forward a student loan repayment package, perhaps as promulgated by the Canadian Students Association.

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7:50 p.m.

Liberal

Bernie Collins Liberal Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, having a son who went through nine years of university and accumulated well over $50,000 of debt and happens to live in Alberta, I appreciate what the member is saying. I agree wholeheartedly with him. We have to assist students. We do not want to throttle them so they have no chance of getting a job and repaying their debt. Therefore I support the member wholeheartedly. That is the way we have to go. Otherwise we are going to frustrate young people so that they have no thought about even going into the educational field or any post-secondary field because of the problems they are going to be confronted with.

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7:55 p.m.

Reform

John Williams Reform St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, congratulations again to the member for Souris-Moose Mountain on an excellent speech. I notice his real concern for the families and the young children of this nation. His concern is that there are so many families with single parents and the fact that their incomes are low.

He also mentioned that he thought perhaps the school system should be used to provide after school care for families that do not have a a parent at home. There are a large number of families in this country with both parents working who do have a very high standard of living. It is their choice not to be there at home.

Is he suggesting that this nation again subsidize those people who can well afford to look after their children and provide that kind of care after school? Does he feel that we as a society are obligated to provide that to anybody who would like it just because the kids do not have someone at home when they get home?

Social Security SystemGovernment Orders

7:55 p.m.

Liberal

Bernie Collins Liberal Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, as an educator for over 31 years I had the opportunity to deal with the rich, the poor, the wise and those who were not so wise. I was happy to have them all. I say to the hon. member that if I knew of one youngster who needed my attention, rich or poor, I would want to be there as an educator, as a parent and as a citizen of this country.

The day we start elevating those who are rich and distinguishing between rich and poor, we are in a real problem state. I say to the hon. member that this is the problem in education. We have lost our commitment that we do have something to give these youngsters. If any one of them stayed away from problems because I looked after him, I would feel that is one thing I did to help him along the way in life. I see no problem there. I want us to have those opportunities for them.

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7:55 p.m.

Bloc

Antoine Dubé Bloc Lévis, QC

Mr. Speaker, as the education and youth critic for the Official Opposition, I wanted to take the opportunity afforded by this debate on social programs to draw the attention of hon. members to the alarming situation prevailing among young people in Canada and in Quebec.

In Canada, to recall a few statistics, 17.5 per cent of young Canadians between the ages of 18 and 24 are now unemployed, which means more than 600,000 young people; 30 per cent do not finish high school; 51 per cent of high school graduates earn less than $10,000; and only 11 per cent earn over $20,000. More than two million young people are living in poverty. Furthermore, 12 per cent have serious drug problems.

Since the government has often said it wanted to give Canadians and Quebecers renewed hope and dignity, it will have to do something about these alarming statistics. After all, our young people are our future, are they not?

Another disturbing phenomenon is the increase in violence and intolerance among young people. According to the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, the number of young people accused of violent crime has increased by an average of 14 per cent annually since 1986. Considering the problems we mentioned earlier, this should come as no surprise.

In the past weeks, a number of members raised the issue of stricter treatment of young offenders. I agree it is necessary to send a clear message to young criminals. Their crimes should not go unpunished, but we believe it is absolutely essential to examine the social context that breeds violence and intolerance among young people.

Second, I would like to talk about the situation of young people in Quebec which is even more alarming and distressing. According to a recent report by the Conseil permanent de la jeunesse du Québec, nearly 40 per cent of young Quebecers live in poverty and 50 per cent do so for at least five years. More than 150,000 young Quebecers are on welfare.

The Quebec coroner's office has recorded an average of some 350 suicides by young people every year since 1987. The youth unemployment rate in Quebec is nearly 20 per cent, or over 137,000 young people just in Quebec. At least 45,000 jobs would have to be created annually in Quebec to absorb the young people arriving on the labour market. The high-school dropout rate is now 32.2 per cent in Quebec.

Vocational training is also deficient. Most of the 26,000 people waiting for training to improve their chances on the labour market are young.

The alarming situation of young people affects not only their own future prospects but also the economy. More and more, young people must face the same prejudices as all unemployed people and welfare recipients. The confidence and dignity of our rising generation suffer greatly as a result. The vicious circle of unemployment and poverty- I realize that this does not seem to interest the people opposite, but I would not like us to be drowned out by their laughter and their talking. They are disturbing us.

It is not easy to get out of the vicious circle of unemployment and poverty. It leads to an extreme loss of motivation which can increase the social problems of our young people. The situation of young native people is even more alarming and requires more specific help that is better suited to what they are going through.

In the speech from the throne, the government said that it was considering self-government for native people. It could start by

giving them the necessary resources and support so that they can take better care of their young people too.

One of the most important aspects of the reform of social programs proposed by the Minister of Human Resources is consultation. Taking so much time and resources reminds me of the operation which followed the failure of the Meech Lake Accord and led up to the famous Charlottetown accord. The more things change, the more they are the same. One could say that this government does not know how to learn from past failures. If only we were assured that the consultations will proceed in the spirit of openness described in the speech from the throne. But judging by previous consultations, that will surely not be the case. If the consultations preceding the speech from the throne are any indication, how does the government intend to ensure the openness described in the Speech from the Throne?

I would like to mention here something that happened to me on January 15. Having learned the day before that the Secretary of State for Training and Youth was holding consultations in Quebec City, I contacted her office to be invited as an observer in my capacity as opposition critic for training and youth. No way, I was told, it was by invitation only, and they did not even tell me where it was taking place, even though Quebec City is across from Lévis, right near my riding.

Since this consultation was for all young people in Quebec, I later contacted the main youth organizations to find out if they had been invited. None of these groups, except the permanent council on youth, a Quebec government agency, had received an invitation. Invitations were made over the heads of the umbrella groups, sometimes directly to some member organizations or to organizations which have nothing to do with training. As if that were not enough, student organizations were completely overlooked, and students will soon be on the labour market. Is that how this government intends to consult? That is a fine way to consult!

Another gem about the Secretary of State for Training and Youth is her statement last Monday on Quebec. She said: "I have been to Quebec twice and I have a fairly good idea of what the people there want". I have been to English Canada several times myself, and in all modesty, I cannot say that I know very well what the people in those provinces want. If you think you know what Quebec wants after two visits to Quebec, I think you are fooling yourself.

Even if there are a least a hundred federal programs available to young people, very few are reserved specifically for them and when they are, they are inadequately funded.

The worst thing that happened to young people during the Conservative reign was not the elimination of the Katimavik program, the demise of which went virtually unnoticed aside from the remonstrations of Senator Jacques Hébert. No, the worst thing was the elimination in 1987 of a provision which gave priority to young people in so far as federal programs were concerned. Another dramatic situation that young people face is when they are caught in the middle, that is when they meet neither the criteria of the federal government, nor those of the provincial government. These young people do not have access to occupational training if they do not receive unemployment insurance or social assistance or if they have not been out on their own for at least two years.

Even though the federal government does not seem inclined to respect provincial jurisdiction over training, it could at least respect existing structures before creating new ones, especially given the context of budget cuts. Consider the example of employment development agencies and agencies that sponsor training extension programs. There is a comprehensive federal network in place in Quebec and elsewhere and I think these structures should be strengthened before new ones are created.

In point of fact, the demands of young people have been well known for many years in Quebec. A national youth summit was held in 1983 and more than 133 agencies participated in public hearings in 1989. One very important fact emerged from these consultations, namely that jobs were a priority. According to young people and to groups that made representations, the ultimate goal that the government should be pursuing is full employment.

In pursuing this objective, consideration must be given to the characteristics of the various groups of unemployed people and to the realities in the different regions. People in the community must be involved to a greater degree. Without regional solidarity, there can be no worthwhile job creation plan. Young people are also critical of the multiplicity of programs and of the way in which resources are allocated. Specifically, they lament the fact that each time a new government comes to power, the names of the programs change.

Quebec youth want a quick end to duplication and to futile struggles between governments. They also want to be involved more in the process. Young people have set up youth consultation forums in the regions but they need more money to support their action. They are also hoping for improved funding of local youth community organizations.

To help young people the government intends to create a Youth Service Corps, an initiative that should give them the opportunity to undergo a training period to acquire experience and build up confidence. This project is strangely reminiscent of the old Katimavik program abolished by the Conservatives in 1986. The Youth Service Corps does not stress second language learning as much as Katimavik but it does not offer any new

solutions to young people's problems; it is recycled material. The Youth Service Corps mostly offers occupational activities without direct links to the workforce of today and tomorrow.

Again, instead of creating a new program and a new structure, we should better support youth organizations by giving them extra resources to adjust to today's reality. It would be a unique opportunity to combine job training with regional development. Young people should have a chance to become familiar with new computer and other technologies while helping their communities.

In conclusion, I would like to add a few comments: even if the youth service corps appears at first glance to be motivated by good intentions, it hides in my opinion an effort to gain time before tackling the real problems of young people. It is a flashy operation that will reach very few young people, 10,000 in three years, when there are over 600,000 unemployed Canadians between the ages of 16 and 24. The youth service corps is merely a recycled Katimavik program. This is an old remedy for a new problem. It is also one more incursion into an area of provincial jurisdiction. The only positive side that I can see is organizing activities for young people who want to take a sabbatical before making a permanent career choice. However, this is certainly not a priority compared with the needs already identified by organizations involved in training young people.

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8:10 p.m.

Liberal

Brent St. Denis Liberal Algoma, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the comments of the hon. member but I was particularly interested in his criticisms of the proposed Canadian youth service. He makes a somewhat disparaging reference concerning the Katimavik program which was cut by the previous Tory government. I believe if Katimavik had not been cut we would have seen, with experience, that program blossom into a very useful and very helpful program for young people.

I want to ask the member if he does not believe it is helpful for young people at the critical age of 18, 19, 20 to maybe get out of the home. If they do not have an opportunity to work in a community near their home, they could work in another part of the country. If they are from B.C. they might work in Nova Scotia or Quebec; if they are from Quebec they might work in Ontario or Alberta.

Does he not think it would be very helpful to these young people to have a real work experience even if it is not in their ultimate area of professional expertise later on in life?

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8:10 p.m.

Bloc

Antoine Dubé Bloc Lévis, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for his question. Obviously, if we were not in a particularly tight financial situation, an experiment like Katimavik would be entirely praiseworthy, and I agree with what he just said.

However, when we compare the need for personal development and experience, travelling and all that with the other needs of youth-needs that I have described in the first part of my speech-young people who are living in extreme poverty, who are desperate to get some kind of occupational training after dropping out of school and then after a while want to get into the labour market and still do not have the proper training and experience they need, when we compare that with the experience of going to another province or another part of one's own province to do the kind of things described in the Youth Service Program such as cleaning up the banks of a river or doing various jobs to beautify the environment, we realize there is no future in cleaning up the environment with brooms and shovels. It does not provide a direct link with the labour market. This kind of work tends to be done by volunteers rather than employees. These jobs are typical volunteer work. In my riding, civic-minded residents do this kind of work for a couple weeks in the spring as volunteers. In fact, it is all part of environmental awareness.

It may have worked from 1980 to 1986. Perhaps the financial resources were there at the time, but we should remember that even in its heyday, the number of young people involved in Katimavik did not exceed 10,000, at a cost of $10,000 per person.

You may consider this is a stiff price to pay for the experience of living in another province for nine months, as described in the youth service program, Sir-oh, I am sorry-Mr. Speaker, since I am supposed to address the Chair while trying to get the hon. member's attention. Trips and room and board are expensive.

So if we consider other training needs, it seems to me that we must get our priorities straight. If it were up to me personally, obviously I would be more inclined to favour those who will have to enter the labour market. And I would do that because I have looked at various reports and heard the demands of youth organizations which are saying: jobs come first.

During the election campaign and in the throne speech, the Liberal Party told us that jobs came first. Occupational, recreational, leisure and cultural activities are all very interesting, but not in the financial situation we have today.

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8:15 p.m.

Reform

John Williams Reform St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate the member for Lévis for his fine speech.

I noticed his concern for the need to create jobs. He said there are about 45,000 jobs that had to be created in the province of Quebec to help the young people there. A great social cost is being handed from generation to generation as these people lose hope and motivation.

These things all take money. Education takes a great deal of money. The province of Quebec is a net recipient of equalization grants. I wonder if the member for Lévis is looking toward the federal government to pay for education, to pay for job creation, to pay for the social problems that exist in Quebec. Where else is the money going to come from? I would like to hear his point of view on that.

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8:15 p.m.

Bloc

Antoine Dubé Bloc Lévis, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will simply repeat the message that this side of the House is desperately trying to send, namely that duplication and overlapping must end. As regards job training, if the present government delegated the responsibility, and the related budget, in accordance with the established jurisdiction of the provinces in the field of education, it would eliminate duplication and save Quebec taxpayers $250 million. In fact, by eliminating duplication and overlapping, the federal government would save a lot more than that, probably an amount equivalent to ten times the cost of running the Youth Service Corps for the first year.

If you include all the provinces, the savings would be close to $1 billion dollars. The $250 million figure for Quebec was never challenged. Nor was the $1 billion estimated by the other provinces. Such savings would be made by simply putting an end to duplication and bringing the program closer to the regions which, by the way, consult each other more and more and are better able to identify the training and employment problems facing young people, and that is very important.

Moreover, the problem with the Youth Service Corps is that it creates yet another structure and, of the $10,000 which will supposedly be allocated for young people, $4,000 will be reserved for administration purposes. It is a very good idea to set up a program to help young people, but such a measure should not be an excuse to create a new structure absorbing $4,000, or 40 per cent of the amount allocated. I believe that all sides in this House should agree to avoid creating new structures and instead strengthen social programs by using existing ones.

We also say this to the government: "Respect your areas of jurisdiction; respect the areas of jurisdiction of Quebec and of the other provinces". By simply doing this, savings will result.

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8:15 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The time for questions and comments has expired. Resuming debate. I must apologize, with all the members surrounding the member for Lévis, I forgot the next speaker on the list; it is unfortunate since he is a former professor of mine. I apologize to him.

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February 2nd, 1994 / 8:15 p.m.

Liberal

Ted McWhinney Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Never mind, Mr. Speaker. I enjoyed listening to the member for Lévis. I really appreciated his remarks.

I am reminded it is a long day. My day began 12-1/2 hours ago with a regional caucus meeting. One of these days somebody should write a book on how Parliament makes a law. We would discover in empirical fashion that it is not made in the give and thrust of debates in Parliament, in the Chamber, although that is important. It is made in the dialectical processes of exchange of views and compromises and give and take in committees but it can be the committees in which they have all the parties fully represented. That is where we reach our compromise and our consensus and that is how we make laws.

I suppose it is an interesting lesson in our approach to this problem of social policy. I am most impressed by the statement by the distinguished Minister of Human Resources Development and one has to remind oneself that however important a portfolio is it is not an island to itself. We are reminded again of the Liberal Party program which for better or for worse was to accept the grave problem of the deficit that exists. One must do something about it.

One will solve it not by cries of despair alone but by trying to create employment, the jobs, the flow of revenue and maintaining our comprehensive social security network in which we lead the world and of which we are very justly proud.

If we approach the issue of human resources and what the ministry should do, it is concerned with many facets of cabinet operations and many portfolios.

I am reminded of one of those distinguished papers which I reread quite recently issued in the Second World War by Archbishop Temple who later became Archbishop of Canterbury on the need for reconstruction in the post war period. He was emphasizing then that you must use your human resources and to get an economy moving you must create employment. It is an older truth but it is still true today.

When I look at the situation in Canada today the most obvious need is for a long term strategy and the long term strategy in terms of human resources is to create globally competitive industries, leading edge technology that provides not simply short term jobs for tomorrow or even the day after tomorrow but 10 years from now.

In a very real sense this is the challenge for my own province of British Columbia as we have tried to escape from an original primary resources based economy to a more sophisticated post industrial economy that recognizes the glut in primary resources around the world that you cannot base your economic well-being on primary resources any more alone, although I must say with imaginative management policies and investment in the search much is being done to remain ahead of the rest of the world.

You must invest in industry and leading edge industry and that means an relationship not merely between the ministry of employment but the ministry of education. These go together. The Japanese miracle is to understand that the post modern society's technology is based on research and that is based on education and on universities but universities of the 21st century.

For those who have spent, as I suppose most people here have, much of their lives in universities we would have to recognize that the dead hand of tradition lies very heavily on universities. There are obligations to stay abreast with the scientific technologically based community in which we are living. Universities need to move into that threshold between pure study and application and in some ways the technische hochschule, those technical universities in continental Europe, give us a lead which the Japanese took up and which is the explanation of the Japanese miracle.

In our attempt in British Columbia to escape from the primary resources based economy we have invested heavily in education, in science, in pursuit of advanced technology and the jobs that flow from that.

If I may I will refer to a case study, as it were, of this. I would stress, though, that science is not simply the cataloguing of dead knowledge from a past era. There is a poetic element in the great scientists that distinguishes the Einstein from the ordinary scientist. Those inductive leaps into the future require that element of vision.

We are very fortunate in British Columbia to have had a scientist of the calibre of Erich Vogt who has that poetic vision and a strong university president who recognizes that if you invest in the science of tomorrow, you may have to wait 10 years for the fruits to come back. But they will come back in a much better and a much larger quantity than if you are simply looking for results that will show on balance sheets next year or 18 months from now.

It is what Dr. Strangway, the very brilliant administrator at the University of British Columbia calls the development in North America of "hot spots". One of the interesting things is the development of pharmacological research with its offshoots into applied industrial development. It is a feature of that area of land that encompasses British Columbia, Oregon and Washington. These universities and the communities co-operating together are pushing the world community to the advanced frontiers of pharmacological research, one which by the way yielded a Nobel Laureate for Canada several months ago by the name of Dr. Michael Smith of the University of British Columbia.

New technologies, pion therapy for example for brain tumours or the superconductors which are the product of the TRIUMF project at the University of British Columbia are not projects created in the abstract, pure ventures in science that do not have a spin-off. For example KAON and TRIUMF spend approximately $30 million a year for research. The spin-off to industries such as the Ebco Industries Ltd. in Richmond, British Columbia, a company that started as a small tool manufacturing company developed by two German immigrant brothers has been converted into a $100 million a year export industry as a direct result of the TRIUMF research and the spin-off secondary industry resulting from it.

If British Columbia and Canada are to create the jobs, to create those incomes and the flow of revenue to reduce the deficit, this is the way we should be going, investing in that frontier of science and knowledge, investing in education. It does mean, and I do not wish here to get into constitutional issues to which I have given a good deal of my professional life, but I do think we are looking at a stage at which national norms with a large element of imagination and leadership in them are required. Whether that is reached by strong federal government alone or in co-operation with provinces is an matter we will be discussing with the minister in charge of intergovernmental relations in the future.

I am a little concerned, and I have voiced this in other arenas than the present one, with the possibility that TRIUMF and its progeny the KAON project, because of under funding by the Canadian government, by foreign governments that perhaps are not kept fully to their obligations by pressure from our own government, might fail. I would view that as a tragedy in the sense that a thousand scientists from around the world grouped together in a Canadian university community, researching together on common projects, the spin-off in those small commercially usable cyclotrons, the objects of this sort that are the rich product of that investment in money and research. There is a case for pure science. The federal government has led here in the past and I would hope it will do so in the future.

The investment is worth the trouble. The investment in some senses is a challenge to the Canada of the 21st century that the present government committed itself to building. We will conquer the deficit by new jobs and the new jobs will be leading edge technology with the education to support it.

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8:30 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Paul Marchand Bloc Québec-Est, QC

Mr. Speaker, I greatly appreciated the comments made by the hon. member from British Columbia.

I gathered from what he said that he was a university teacher for a number of years, like me I might add. I especially appreciated his comments on education. I agree with him totally when he says that education is fundamental, essential, and that we must do our utmost to have a good education system because it is really basic, not only if we want to create lasting employment, but also if we want to promote a more democratic society, an imaginative and innovative society in all areas.

Of course, much could be said about education. I disagree however with one of his remarks. I have no doubt that the hon. member is an experienced teacher as well as an intelligent man, but I have some difficulty with this idea of national standards in education. Certainly not at the university level. There is no need for that whatsoever. Several Canadian universities excel while relying on their own means to achieve high levels in research and quality. That is a given.

In fact, academic work is clearly one of freedom and independence. I see absolutely no value in national standards. Even at the high school or elementary level, it seems to me that one of great things about education is this freedom of expression, this freedom to discover, this freedom enjoyed even with the teacher.

I find that, in Canada, we have too many standards, too many national standards, too many government-imposed restrictions as it is. We do not need more national standards, we need less. We need teachers, at all levels, to be freer to provide young people with the kind of education that best relates to their life experience.

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8:30 p.m.

Liberal

Ted McWhinney Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, I appreciated the speech by the hon. member of the Opposition. As you will undoubtedly remember, I was a special constitutional advisor to a few premiers of Quebec, Ontario and other provinces. I have always advocated a pluralistic federalism based on co-operation and consensus.

I never suggested that standards should be imposed by a federal government or authority. I only said that, in setting scientific standards, we are often behind other countries with a strong national consensus. These are scientific matters. It is not an ideological or constitutional issue in my opinion.

I never insisted on the application of a consensus by a sovereign and higher authority. Consensus means something else. I am not too happy with the National Research Council, which is overly centralized in Ottawa and does not fully meet the needs of British Columbia, for instance.

My position is much more pluralistic in this respect. I call for the co-operation of the hon. members from Quebec and the other provinces. Nothing in current government policy seems to reflect this. If I may give a further explanation, nothing in my speech implies a constitutional theory, much less an overly centralized federalist policy. I am a constitutional pluralist.

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8:35 p.m.

Liberal

Brent St. Denis Liberal Algoma, ON

Mr. Speaker, the fact I am likely the last speaker today I think you will find the best has been left for last. Since there are relatively few members here to witness this just keep it to yourselves.

I want to thank the hon. member for Vancouver Quadra. I always appreciate hearing his interventions. They are well thought out. Although I would add to his comments about the relevance of debate in this place vis-à-vis the relevance of compromise and discussion in committees.

He will agree with me that it is the debate in this place that really focuses one's attention and really focuses the thinking that needs to surround the very important subjects that we must deal with.

The member for Lévis was talking about the relationship of youth, employment and the social safety nets. It really struck home that this whole discussion and exercise is about the relationship between jobs and the social safety nets.

If everybody were working we would not have need for a social safety net. If there were nobody working we could not afford to have a social safety net. It is really impossible to participate in this discussion without linking at all times jobs and the strength of the economy, which defines the level of our employment, with our ability to provide those social safety nets, those supports for those who for various reasons cannot work, whether they are too young, disabled, too old or they are just not in a position to find employment because of the economy of their area.

In linking jobs to the whole question of social safety nets, I doubt there is really anyone here who has a full grasp of what our social safety net situation is like in this country right now. It is a huge monster in many ways. I feel it is madness to suggest that we should not completely review our social safety net programs. They have evolved over the years by piecemeal additions of one program or another, changes here and changes there, some good and some bad. If we do not take the opportunity now to totally review these programs we are just going to make the problems more difficult to tackle later on.

Many of these programs were instituted by previous Liberal governments, and wisely so, but times have changed and we are the first ones to recognize it. I really pay tribute to our Minister of Human Resources Development who has demonstrated tre-

mendous leadership. As I review the consultation plan that he has put forward I marvel at the breadth of the program.

If you look closely it is a three pronged approach involving the standing committee and members of Parliament, as members of the committee and as representatives of their ridings. It involves consultations with the provincial and territorial governments as a second attack. Third, the minister will have a special task force of non-partisan professionals who have been dealing with these issues for years to also provide advice.

This three pronged approach will conclude roughly the end of March and will tie into the government's action plan which will be the subject of scrutiny until this coming September and then the parliamentary debate and review later this fall and into next year which involves the two years that the minister talked about.

This is such a comprehensive set of consultations but it really bespeaks the kind of government that we are putting in front of the people, a transparent government, a government willing to listen to people and the fact that we are having this debate here.

We really are putting a new face to the people of Canada and giving Canadians a chance to have confidence again in their government.

The first 100 days of the Liberal government have demonstrated that we are serious. There will be some mistakes, no question about it. With due respect to opposition members when the score is counted at the end of another four or five years we will be judged well in our efforts to listen to the people and try to develop programs that make a lot of sense.

Our social safety net is full of holes, unfortunately. Imagine being a trapeze artist with a safety net below you that had holes in it. One would not feel too excited about taking that next swing under the circus tent.

There are young people, seniors and people with families in this country who are very fearful about those holes in the safety net. Like most of us, I am not fully aware of all the elements of our safety net programs.

It really behoves us to look at it all so that we can identify those holes. I will talk about a few as part of my intervention.

In my riding of Algoma we have a single industry town, Elliot Lake, which has virtually lost all of its uranium mining. It is now struggling, struggling valiantly, and doing well to diversify its economy to take advantage of the beautiful natural resources in the area along with the tourism and so on.

The neighbouring communities along the north shore are struggling with the problems that face single industry communities and areas. The problems that come with major shutdowns require a certain kind of response from federal, provincial and local governments.

Those kinds of responses are different than what is required in other areas of the country like the Manitoulin and north shore areas of my riding where we have systemic unemployment and seasonal employment, or seasonal unemployment to look at the reverse.

Tourism is wonderful but unfortunately until we can expand our tourism to all four seasons we will end up with seasonal employment. We have tended over the years to look at joblessness as one kind of problem. Past governments with all due respect have tried to deal with this on a piecemeal basis.

I would like to pick out a few of the holes that have crept into the system. A few years ago in 1985 the previous government made changes to the Unemployment Insurance Act which changed the application of severance pay as it related to unemployment insurance.

Severance pay was intended when it was first designed to allow laid off workers a bit of breathing space while they moved, retrained or made the necessary adjustments in their families to deal with being laid off.

Lo and behold, about seven or eight years ago the previous government changed the definition or the application of severance pay so that it had to be used up as income. There in one fell swoop severance pay was changed from an insurance against loss of employment to simply another form of income that the government took advantage of.

That was a tremendous problem for laid off workers in Elliot Lake and other parts of the riding of Algoma. There was a tremendous hue and cry. That is a major hole in the safety net that we have to deal with as part of our overall review.

How many of us have met people who have been laid off from a certain type of industry and are being retrained in another field for which there is absolutely no prospect of employment. There are cases in which major industries have shut down in the community and we retrain people as welders. However, there is no chance of there ever being employment in any major way for welders in that community again.

We really have to do a better job of matching the jobs aspect of our economy and the safety nets aspect of our economy. When we allow some people on UI to be retrained and others not to be retrained because some are in this part of the country or have faced a designated lay off, when we discriminate between one kind of unemployment and another, then we have problems.

If one is not working, one is not working. It does not really matter in the long run how one became unemployed. We really have to be more fair to our workforce, to individual workers.

The holes in our safety net often leave our seniors behind. How many poor seniors do we have in our economy? There are far too many people facing retirement with little prospect of any kind of comfort in their twilight years. We owe them much more than that, having really counted on them to build the country. We really owe them much more than pushing them off and leaving them to try to survive on limited incomes.

Throughout the campaign last fall I met many young people. It hit me so graphically that unlike when I went to university back in the late sixties and early seventies, believe it or not, young people who are now looking at going to university or college in the next year or two may face a situation where they are competing for fewer seats. Our support programs have withdrawn seats from our post-secondary education institutions.

When I think back to when I was in high school the fact is that I could enjoy high school. I could do a reasonable amount of homework and at the same time prepare for the future socially and scholastically. I look at these young people now and they are under so much pressure to get high marks to go to university that they are almost losing their teen years. When those years are gone, they are gone. The economy has deprived them of that.

Our social safety nets have yet to respond to the big problem, the total problem. I do not believe the debate here is necessarily the place in which to put forward solutions, although many of us have. I have been quite impressed with the level of debate, but I point out that there must be a linkage between jobs and the safety net. We cannot divorce the two. We cannot discuss one in isolation from the other.

As we look forward with some anticipation to great challenge, the most valuable attitude we can have toward our future planning is that of being creative. We must do some lateral thinking: think about things that perhaps we would not have thought about before, think about solutions that maybe we would not have considered five or ten years ago. Now we have to put everything on the table. We have to consider seriously, maybe for the first time in our history, where we are going.

I will conclude my remarks by suggesting to the House that the government was elected fundamentally on its ability to project hope. I suggest we can build on that hope by building on the people who make up the country. It is the people who have jobs. It is the people who fall into the safety net. That is the common denominator. We would not be here if it were not for the people.

It boils down to some very simple points. I believe more members should take the opportunity to share their views and to share in rebuilding the country.

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8:45 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre De Savoye Bloc Portneuf, QC

Mr. Speaker, I enjoyed the speech made by the hon. member for Algoma and I join with him in praising the hon. member for Vancouver Quadra whose speeches are indeed impeccably thought-out and delivered.

What I appreciated the most about the remarks made by the hon. member for Algoma was their great sincerity as well as the fact that they touched upon a great many of the real issues confronting us. However, there is a point on which I disagree and that is the three-step consultations that his party is proposing.

I could introduce the hon. member for Algoma to a fair number of residents of my riding who do not need lengthy consultations to tell you what the real issues confronting us are. As we speak, there are 25,000 people waiting for training in Quebec, and I would imagine that the situation is the same elsewhere in Canada. As we know, if you do not have adequate training, you cannot find a job, so you are unemployed and then you get health problems and so on. You are locked into this vicious circle.

I would like the hon. member for Algoma to tell my constituents, who are probably watching us at this time of day, and to those in Bloc Quebecois ridings throughout the province, in what way delaying these three-step consultations further will help solve the urgent problems facing these 25,000 young people waiting to be enroled in classes, which the SQDM would be prepared to arrange immediately but is unable to due to this government's inaction.

I hope that my colleague from Algoma will be convincing because I, for one, find this situation extremely difficult.

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8:45 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member for Algoma has been invited to address the voters in the riding of the hon. member for Portneuf.

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8:45 p.m.

Liberal

Brent St. Denis Liberal Algoma, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the comments and questions by the member for Portneuf, my good neighbour.

Eight weeks is not very long. Ten years or twenty years is a long time, but eight weeks is not so long. The first stage of the consultations will be completed by the end of March. As part of the consultations I want to have some meetings in various areas of my riding of Algoma. I suppose I could advertise those right now while I have the opportunity. There will be more information on them in the local newspapers in the very near future.

We want to hear from the unemployed in our communities. If we attempt to move forward without taking some serious time, even if it is only eight weeks at this stage, we will make a serious mistake. Over the last 10 years we saw some pretend consulting. I say to my good friend, the member for Portneuf, that the next

eight weeks we will see a major step forward, what I call the scoping phase of the consultations. The member may choose to have consultations in his riding. I suspect he will, even if it means talking to individual members of his communities.

In those eight weeks the standing committee will start its work. The minister and his task force will start their work. Individual members will start their work. The discussions with the territories and provinces will continue. By September we

should have something on the table for Parliament to discuss, which is not such a long time. It is very important we take that time.

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8:45 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

It being 8.52 p.m. the House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 8.52 p.m.)