House of Commons Hansard #42 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was children.


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3:35 p.m.


Roger Simmons Liberal Burin—St. George's, NL

Madam Speaker, I thank my friend and colleague from Edmonton Southwest.

Let me first address his concern about my style of speaking. Newfoundlanders in the foyer at a funeral tell jokes. That does not mean they are glad the guy is dead. That means they have a very particular way of dealing with an issue. If we can get a message across with a bit of humour or relieve a situation with humour we do it. Whether it works is for others to judge.

However, the subject is deadly serious. I can give the member an example that we have chafed under for a long time in Newfoundland. If the member knows the border between Labrador and Quebec he will know that there are two communities, one called Labrador City just east of the border and one called Fermont, Quebec just to the west, 12 miles from Labrador City. The person who lives in Fermont can drive down and work in the drug store or the shop in Labrador City, as she does and has for many years, but the son of the guy who owns that store cannot get a job in Fermont, Quebec. That has gone on there for many years. That is wrong.

The lack of labour mobility across this country is wrong and discriminatory. It has caused a fight between Ontario and Quebec recently. I concur completely with my colleague that-

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3:35 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu)

Resuming debate, The hon. member for Durham.

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3:35 p.m.


Alex Shepherd Liberal Durham, ON

Madam Speaker, it is always a great delight to follow my hon. colleague, the member for Burin-St. George's.

Concerning this motion brought forward by the hon. member for Mercier, lack of vision and lack of concrete measures relating to jobs, I have to speak against it.

I want to talk about unemployment. Unemployment in this House has been regarded as something bad, something unfortunate, something systemic of our capitalist society and something that is wrong about where we are going in our life.

I would like to give a little history lesson, going back to the 17th century when people did not understand the concept of unemployment, when people worked seven days a week and basically dropped dead from work. There was no such thing as unemployment. They had to survive by working day in and day out.

By the 19th century we were into the industrial revolution. Things were not necessarily any better but there was a better standard of living. People started to live longer. By the time we got to the 20th century and the Second World War we discovered that we had developed all kinds of new technologies, all kinds of things that made our businesses and our lifestyles more liveable. We discovered that we did not have to work the long hours we did in the past.

Around that same time the labour force participation rate in Canada went up. In other words, more people, mainly females, joined the workforce. We had a huge increase in the supply of labour, all at the same time that our technologies were becoming innovative.

Now we are abreast with the 21st century. This is a knowledge based society. New technology has come to the fore: computers, computer graphics, laser technology, all kinds of new innovations that have made this the knowledge based society.

What has this done? This has created even further unemployment. I wonder if people could put their eyes on the concept that unemployment is merely a factor between needed productive hours and productive capacity. By that I mean we need x number of labour hours to produce our output. The reality is that these relationships have been changing over time. As we become a more technological society, we suddenly discover we need less labour input.

I question whether this is a failure of our system or whether it is something to be proud of. Are we evolving into a society in which we have to work fewer hours?

I can remember when I was very young my parents working six days a week. During my working years we have all worked five days a week. The question is do we need to work as many hours as we do and why are we working as many hours as we do? Maybe we are chasing a materialistic society. Maybe we are chasing all kinds of things that we do not really need.

The reality is unemployment has continued to go up from the 17th century right up until today. We can look at a number of features if we want to focus on the unemployed; those 1.559 million people currently out of work in Canada, plus a certain number of those on welfare, who could be gainfully employed.

As a consequence we have a huge mass of people not working. At the same time we have people in our workforce who are working 60 hours and 70 hours a week. Clearly the problem with unemployment is not that it exists but that it is concentrated in a small group of people. Unfortunately it is getting larger.

What is the solution to this problem? The problem is that unemployment is concentrated in the youth, the unskilled and in those who have watched their skills change. This is probably a growing sector of our unemployment. Those people possibly in their forties who started off in the job market believing that they had a job for life have found that structural unemployment has caught up with them and put them out of a job.

How are we going to change our unemployment rate? Our unemployment rate, as I mentioned, is merely a factor of required labour hours. Either we increase the number of labour hours by increasing our business activity or we change the labour hours to some extent. I will leave the debate about changing labour hours for another day.

Basically our other orientation is to increase the number of required labour hours by increasing productivity. Within that parameter of increased labour hours we also have to look back at the pool of the unemployed, the people who are unskilled, those people who have structural change in their lives where their skills have disappeared and the youth who possibly have dropped out of school at a very early age and similarly are unskilled. How could we address increasing the number of labour hours? We can do it in two ways. We can increase our productivity.

The government has enacted legislation regarding a reduction in payroll taxes. It would reduce the costs of businesses to employ people. It would create an incentive for businesses to employ more people and to expand in our society. It would create a demand for more labour hours. This is something our government has done, and I go back to the original motion, in terms of concrete measures.

We have implemented an infrastructure spending program to create assets, to create productive resources. One municipality in my riding has agreed to increase the size of its arena. It has an employment policy to employ local workers. People who are unemployed will be working. There is a promise of work. The infrastructure spending program is what I call seed capital because it has a tendency to grow. If a job is created for one person working on the arena, he goes downtown and buys more products. He consumes more. He creates more jobs. It is a way to increase productivity.

We have addressed to some extent the need of small and medium sized businesses to have access to better capital. We have done it in a number of ways. We have talked about implementing a code of ethics with the banks to allow small businesses better access to capital markets. We will also implement other programs to deal with access to equity capital markets. Once again it will give business an incentive to create new jobs.

Another initiative of ours is the information highway. It is another aspect of 21st century technology; it brings Canada into the 21st century. It is the second stage of our technological revolution.

Finally, we have to increase the opportunity for wages and employment. We have to look at the pool of unemployed people. Do not mistake what I have said. I did not say it was good that all these people are unemployed. I am saying that unemployment may be with us for a long time. It may be an asset if we handle it properly.

To effect skills so that people who are unemployed today have better access to the job market when expansion occurs we have the youth corps. It will teach some skills to young people who are currently unemployed and have dropped out of the high school system. We have implemented an apprenticeship program to give young people and others job experience. It will give better skills to those people whose skills have shifted over the years.

The original motion refers to lack of vision and lack of concrete measures. That is not so.

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3:45 p.m.


Gilbert Fillion Bloc Chicoutimi, QC

Madam Speaker, again, in his speech the hon. member referred to this famous infrastructure program. Let me tell you that this program which, according to government members, should solve the unemployment problem in Canada, is in my opinion simply a way to shift the deficit burden to the provinces.

The deficit burden is and will continue to be off loaded on the municipalities since-and I have the figure to prove it-several municipalities in my riding, before they can participate in this infrastructure program, will have to invest an amount about equal to their federal subsidies.

Let me also point out that municipalities willing to participate in this infrastructure program but unable to afford it will have to increase their debt load. Who will pay for this? It is always the same taxpayer who must pay, whether the money comes from the federal, provincial, or municipal government.

I would like to hear his opinion on the money that Canadian taxpayers will have to spend on the infrastructure program, without solving the unemployment problem in Canada and Quebec.

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3:50 p.m.


Alex Shepherd Liberal Durham, ON

Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question. Basically he is quite right. There is only one taxpayer in Canada. The question is how to best utilize our economic resources so that we create employment. The infrastructure spending program, as I just mentioned, has an expansionary effect. In other words as people go back to work they start paying taxes and reducing the deficit. Clearly we cannot continue with such high levels of unemployment. The real way to reduce our debt is to get a lot of people back to work.

I am always amazed hon. members to my left invariably talk about the federal deficit as if it were some kind of unusual phenomenon of the Canadian federalist system. The province of Quebec has a debt. The province of Ontario has a debt. France has a debt. The United Kingdom has a debt. There is nothing unique about the federal government deficit. They all have debt. The problem is that we have to deal with it.

Trying to turn this whole system on its head and blaming the federal government for the fact that we have to pay interest on our federal debt is not a realistic argument.

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3:50 p.m.


Jim Gouk Reform Kootenay West—Revelstoke, BC

Madam Speaker, with regard to the debt and the infrastructure program, has the hon. member considered the whole concept of the amount of our debt and what we should do with regard to it?

Unemployment is a direct result of overtaxation. Canadian consumers have less disposable income and consequently companies have more expensive products with fewer people trying to buy them. The infrastructure program should be dealt with as an infrastructure program and nothing else. It does not create any permanent jobs. It increases government debt.

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3:50 p.m.


Alex Shepherd Liberal Durham, ON

Madam Speaker, I will give the hon. member a brief example. The erection of a building will create technological innovation for my riding. I do not believe once the building goes up the function that goes on there will suddenly not have an ongoing factor. It is just the reverse. I believe infrastructure spending will continue.

By the way, why do we not talk about Japan? Japan has a surplus and it still has unemployment.

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3:50 p.m.


Monique Guay Bloc Laurentides, QC

Madam Speaker, I am always keenly interested in taking part in a debate when the subject is job creation. The subject becomes all the more stimulating when we tack on the words "concrete measure" and the mandatory "urgent". Concrete and urgent action. That is what hundreds of thousands of unemployed people are expecting. It is absolutely essential that these words be reflected in the government's day-to-day initiatives. The ministers who have the means to improve the horrendous job situation quickly and efficiently have to realize that when the will to introduce concrete and urgent measures is lacking, the government is condemning hundreds of thousands of unemployed people to harsh, intolerable living conditions.

The extent of the unemployment situation has harmful consequences and deeply affects our social fabric. Unemployed persons, along with their families and children, quickly find themselves living in hellish conditions, without adequate financial resources. Day-to-day survival becomes a problem. Tensions mount and the pressure increases as the unemployed scramble to meet basic needs. Many households experience crises, dramas and break-ups.

Intolerable living conditions brought on by unemployment affect the mental and physical health of those involved. In the long term, significant social costs are incurred and it is we who ultimately must pick up the tab. These things are happening in every one of our ridings and the situation is deteriorating. Our social fabric is unravelling and the public's anger is simmering. The Prime Minister can say what he likes but the way he was welcomed last week is proof that the public is fed up with pious wishes and nice speeches.

The people no longer believe in promises. They want action to get them back into the labour force quickly. If the members opposite fail to understand the message and to respond quickly

to the demand for jobs, they will expose our society to more serious problems very soon.

If the government does not pay enough attention to the repeated warnings heard in recent days, I sincerely believe we are moving towards a dark future. Our children will pay for this inertia. For some such as the well-off, including some of the members opposite, the daily problems of the jobless may appear trivial, not very important, since their own current assets allow them to secure their descendants' future. If I were in their shoes, I would worry and start asking myself serious questions.

We have seen great empires melt away because of crises caused by serious socio-economic problems. In my riding the situation is alarming: over 30 per cent of the labour force are out of work. Worse still, these people see no light at the end of the tunnel. Signs of employment recovery are non-existent. The members opposite promised us job-creation measures. They said over and over it was their priority with a capital "P". Where are these measures? Where is this well-publicized job-creation plan?

The people in my riding are now seeing the Liberals' lack of imagination and unwillingness to create jobs. The government is falling back on its infrastructure program, which is clearly insufficient to put people back to work. What a crock! It is not a project creating or maintaining 45,000 temporary jobs that will restore confidence to the 1,559,000 Canadians and 428,000 Quebecers without jobs.

For workers, it is disappointing to see this government take an almost passive attitude in the face of the unemployment crisis. It throws out a few crumbs and then sits and waits for the expected economic recovery to turn the situation around. However, economists agree that this recovery will not bring a miraculous increase in the number of jobs. Miracles do not happen in this world, as the members opposite know full well. So what are they waiting for to take action? What are they waiting for to innovate, introduce new programs, stimulate the economy wisely?

Nice speeches are not concrete and urgent measures to create jobs. In my riding, the infrastructure program will create or maintain only a few hundred temporary jobs. It is not very convincing from a party that proclaimed itself, before October 25, of course, the saviour of the economy and the great creator of lasting jobs. It already admits that these measures will only have a minor effect on unemployment, since the budget forecasts that the unemployment rate will remain around 11 per cent in 1995.

The government always says it cannot do more given the current financial situation. The lack of money has become the favourite tune of the members opposite whenever the Canadian people ask them to invest more money. This tune is unacceptable. In its last budget the government decided not to trim fat or eliminate waste. Had it listened to us and shown the will to thoroughly examine all these programs, it would have had enough financial leeway to foster and invest in job creation. But it has made its bed and must now lie in it.

In the March 21 issue of La Presse , we read that 1,000 Canadian entrepreneurs will participate in the Expo 1994 trade fair in Mexico. This is not a bad thing. These business people will test the ground and look at the opportunities offered by that country's 86.5 million people. This is all well and good but when these entrepreneurs need help to penetrate that market, what kind of support can they expect from a government that decided to maintain waste and fat instead of giving itself greater flexibility? Fat and waste are not concrete and urgent job-creation measures.

The same applies to small and medium-sized businesses. They must be supported in their development and their plans for the future. Where is the Liberal government's flexibility? It does not have any, just crumbs that do not allow for real development. Our economy is based on regional small and medium-sized businesses. We must stimulate, even favour their creation. The government must get out of its rut and support dynamic environments such as universities, polytechnic schools and engineering departments; it must go there to find new ideas and people able to start new small and medium-sized businesses.

If the members opposite just sit and wait for an economic recovery, do you really think the economy will pick up? So far, the Liberals have not shown any vigour, any new idea in their job-creation strategy. Roads, aqueducts, sewers, viaducts and bridges are all they came up with. They will create or maintain small, precarious jobs, spend some $2 billion without, in the end, investing anything in new medium and long-term projects, when such projects could create jobs in addition to stabilizing and strengthening our economy.

Madam Speaker, I would now like to draw your attention to an issue I deeply care about, which I have often raised with the ministers opposite. It is the construction of new social housing units and co-ops throughout the country. As we know, the Liberals have maintained the Conservatives' decisions in this area. Low-cost, co-op and non-profit housing programs were abolished on January 1st; from now on, not one cent will be spent on providing decent accommodation for the 1,200,000 Canadians in urgent need of housing.

Yet, these programs aimed at helping the poorly housed also created many jobs.

Statistics indicate that building 1,000 new housing units generates 2,000 jobs in the construction sector. That is a lot of jobs. We kill two birds with one stone: Employment is stimulated and living conditions are improved. I am convinced that

many contractors and construction workers in my constituency would be very pleased if several hundred social housing units were to be built in our riding. This would be a concrete social measure which would be beneficial from a socio-economic point of view. Unfortunately, members opposite decided otherwise. They chose to leave poor families in slums and instead go for fat and waste. This, for me, will always remain a shameful decision.

When we talk about employment, we must necessarily deal with professional training. In that regard, we are all aware that a significant amount of public money is wasted because of program duplication and the federal government's interference and desire to control and centralize.

For a long time now, there has been a consensus in Quebec to the effect that the federal must delegate all powers to the province regarding this field of jurisdiction.

It has been clearly demonstrated that the vocational training system in place is more and more obsolete. In Quebec alone, $250 million could be saved every year by eliminating overlapping. The system shows obvious flaws under the pressures of new technologies and new forms of work organization. In fact, the system does not allow individuals to quickly and adequately meet market needs. It is too burdensome, slow, complex and costly. The federal government interference in this field is certainly not conducive to promoting an efficient training system. It is individuals who pay the price for this interference. The system simply does not work. Individuals and labour markets are both adversely affected. We, Bloc Quebecois members, are asking the federal government to completely withdraw from this sector. However, as long as Quebec remains part of Canada and keeps paying taxes, the federal government will have to transfer to the province its fair share of public money. This patriation will finally allow Quebec to train efficiently and quickly its manpower, based on the needs of the labour market.

This is another concrete measure which will help develop the ability to work of the unemployed, and consequently reduce the unemployment rate.

In conclusion, I ask members opposite to take a close look at reality. Good horse-sense should tell them it is time to shape up and have a vision. Look beyond the immediate future. Try to see what the next few years hold; try to see what will happen with labour and consumer markets, services and products of the future, as well as new technologies. Look at all this and try to find initiatives which will make us ready. If you do not undertake this exercise and come up with a vision now, in ten years we will still be building roads to support our economy. I am very aware that this technique was once very profitable for old parties, but individual workers want more than just using a pick and a shovel for a short while to earn a living.

Our workers are intelligent and they want to be considered as such. University students work very hard for three or even five years to earn their degree. And then what do they find on the job market? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Yet these people represent our future: they have all the skills and knowledge necessary to rebuild the economy.

I ask the government to open its eyes wide and invest in real employment, as opposed to short-lived programs, so that all these young people can have a future.

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4:10 p.m.

St. Boniface Manitoba


Ronald J. Duhamel LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Madam Speaker, I have some esteem for the hon. member and I was a little disappointed-I understand that she belongs to the Official Opposition-when she made comments like "cut the fat" that feed into people's fears, this dishonesty propagated by members of the Reform Party.

As a former deputy minister, I saw how much fat there was, and there was not so much because we have been cutting the fat for years. This does not mean that we cannot review what is going on to see if we could do better. But I find the suggestion exaggerated, not to say dishonest-that would be unparliamentary. It gives the impression that we could wipe out the debt, the deficit and everything else. I have so much esteem for my colleague that her statement surprises me. If I misunderstood her, she can correct me.

This proposal before us today lacks a certain credibility. It is incredibly gloomy and pessimistic. I would never believe that my colleagues in the Bloc are so pessimistic and gloomy. Frankly, it pains me; I think that I will throw a little party to try to cheer them up a bit.

When they talk about housing, they talk about a certain kind of people and they use what is going on in an attempt to give a very wrong impression. They do not talk about the $100 million to be spent over two years to repair houses across the country. They do not talk about the $2.1 million to be used to maintain 650,000 existing homes. They do not talk about the $170 million in savings. And the hon. member does not know if there might be some social housing initiatives. How pessimistic: everything is dying or falling apart.

What really bothered me is that they do not understand. Do they not listen to what is going on? They talk about the infrastructure program as if it were only about spades and shovels, but she did not study the programs, because there are very few spades and shovels. We are talking about a training network across the country. Is that spades and shovels? We talk about setting up high-tech companies. Is that spades and shovels? Yes, you have to break the ground with spades and shovels

to build the building so that we can have information networks, but their view is very narrow. They do not see beyond spades and shovels. I find that very disturbing.

When we talk about small and medium-sized businesses, for example, we have known for a long time that more than 85 per cent of jobs come from such businesses. We know that these businesses need capital. We know that they need to invest in research. We know that they need to group together and that is what we are doing. It is too bad that my colleagues in the Bloc do not understand that it is happening.

Why did they not talk about summer jobs that will increase by 20 per cent? Did they not know? Are they badly informed? Do they not have a research office? Do they not talk about it? What is going on? Did they talk about the Youth Service Corps? No, they did not! Did they talk about the apprenticeship program? No, they did not! There are so many good things that could have been mentioned, but no, all they see is doom and gloom. What a pity!

Maybe the hon. member would like to react to what I said. If I misunderstood, I will gladly apologize with a big smile.

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4:10 p.m.


Monique Guay Bloc Laurentides, QC

Madam Speaker, our dear parliamentary secretary certainly has acting talents. He sings even while talking to us.

About the fat, he may not like that term, but it refers to tax shelters, to family trusts and that sort of thing. It is not mentioned explicitly but that is what it is about.

That is where cuts should be made to be able to invest, to invest in jobs, in social housing, in social housing construction projects. We have been given the same old song and dance about social housing since the beginning by this Parliament. No investment has been made in new social housing units. From one year to the next, CMHC is allotted exactly the same $2 billion budget to administer. A $100 million amount is earmarked over two years for RRAP, the residential rehabilitation assistance program for home buyers. We know our programs, Madam Speaker. There is no need to tell us what we already know. We know.

Our research services work very well. They are really very efficient. All I have to say is that certain projects, some section 25 projets, these DEPs we all use in our committees-

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4:15 p.m.

An hon. member

Are you going to cut them?

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4:15 p.m.


Monique Guay Bloc Laurentides, QC

They intend to cut even the DEP program. Liberal members will have nothing left to give their voters. Of course, there are summer job programs, but that is not enough. These programs do not create permanent jobs. Summer jobs are only temporary.

Steady jobs must be created, high-tech jobs, in areas where there are vacancies right now and no one to fill them. Above all, we have to create these jobs through manpower training, our own program, the one already in place in Quebec and that we are fighting to keep.

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4:15 p.m.


Raymond Lavigne Liberal Verdun—Saint-Paul, QC

I hear my hon. colleague opposite say that she is familiar with section 25 programs and with direct employment programs and that she uses them. Well, I use them too and I am a Liberal. I am a French Canadian and I use both of these initiatives, direct employment programs and section 25 programs. Since I was elected, 38 permanent jobs have been created in two small and medium-sized businesses in my riding. I would be curious to know how many jobs the hon. member opposite has created in her riding since taking office?

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4:15 p.m.


Monique Guay Bloc Laurentides, QC

I am not sure I understand the hon. member's question, but I will say what is being done in my riding to boost employment. Direct employment programs and section 25 programs are temporary measures. They are designed to help certain unemployment insurance and welfare recipients get back into the labour force.

In my view, which I believe is shared by several of my colleagues, these programs do not create long-term jobs. They were introduced to help people for a certain period of time, perhaps six months. Some programs have lasted one year, but there are no guarantees that the employer will ask an employee to stay on.

People often benefit from a section 25 initiative and then go back on unemployment for six months or a year. These are not effective programs. They do exist and we do use them because people need food to eat and a roof over their heads. Of course we will use these programs for as long as they exist. After all, they are paid for with our tax dollars, yours and mine.

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4:15 p.m.


Jean Payne Liberal St. John's West, NL

Madam Speaker, I am not sure if it has been 10 minutes or 20 minutes that has been allotted to me. If it is 20 minutes, I would like to split the time and give the last 10 minutes to the member for Vancouver East.

It is a pleasure for me to speak this afternoon to the motion put forward by the Bloc Quebecois on job creation. If we are to listen to my colleagues in the Bloc, it would be our belief that the opposition believes that this government has no plan for job creation. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The entire Liberal platform as outlined in the red book is about job creation. I and every other Liberal member of Parliament campaigned for 47 days about job creation with a concrete plan of action. No government in Canadian history has moved as quickly as this government has to create jobs. For over two years the government has advocated a $6 billion cost shared program to improve public infrastructure in Canada. Just two months

after the election the Prime Minister received the agreement of 10 premiers to implement this program.

If the members of the opposition want to see a concrete plan to create jobs, they should wait for a few more weeks until the construction season starts. Canadians will then see real concrete being poured across this country creating real jobs, and it will not be only with picks and shovels.

In the next two years tens of thousands of jobs will be created in the construction industry alone, building projects under the infrastructure program. If that is not vision then I do not know what is.

The government's job creation policies do not stop at the infrastructure program. The budget paper called For Growing Small Businesses provides a litany of government proposals and initiatives to help small businesses grow and create jobs. The decision of the government to reduce unemployment insurance premiums next year will reduce payroll costs to businesses and free up money to hire new employees.

This government is actually reducing taxes to create employment. The Canada investment fund will provide capital assistance to businesses. Capital funding is essential if new technologies are to be properly developed and marketed. This will directly lead to the creation of highly skilled jobs in all parts of this country.

The government will sponsor the creation of business networks. These networks will allow smaller companies to pool their resources and realize some of the benefits that only large companies now enjoy.

This government also realizes that such networks can only work if they are controlled by the private sector. However, we will be providing matching grants to make the networks as broad ranging as possible. These networks will allow small businesses to expand their operations and hire new employees.

The information highway will also help job creation. Most experts believe that information industries will become dominant in the coming years. With the advent of the information highway companies in all parts of this country, in towns large and small, will be able to access, process and sell information. As telecommunications networks improve it will not matter where you or your business is located. All you will need basically is a computer and a telephone line and you can be in business.

As we rebuild resource based industries like the fishery for the small communities in my district, information based companies may be the provider of jobs. The highway will reduce communication costs for existing businesses and allow information based businesses to set up shop almost anywhere in the country, including my riding of St. John's West.

The restoration of the RRAP will also help low and middle income families renovate their homes and live more comfortably. On top of this, the money supplied by the federal government for this program will be spent in small building supply companies, many of which my riding consists of, and will be used to hire skilled trades people like carpenters and electricians. Restoring the RRAP will create jobs in communities large and small across Newfoundland and Canada.

The apprenticeship program will help our young people learn valuable work skills and increase their opportunities for employment. We are all well aware that there are shortages of skilled labour in some parts of Canada. The apprenticeship program will train young people to perform some of these jobs, thus providing employment to a generation faced with staggering unemployment and a pessimistic outlook to the future.

The apprenticeship program will also help break the vicious cycle of no job without experience and no experience without a job. When they graduate from their programs, young people will have the skills and experience to fill the job.

For the Reform Party any investment by the federal government to create jobs is too much. They would rather see the government cut untold billions from the budget and set every unemployed worker adrift. The Reform policy is a do nothing policy. This government was elected with a strong mandate to do something and that is what we intend to do.

For the Bloc, its main interest is to prove that the federal government does not work and cannot do anything to solve the problems of Quebecers or other Canadians. If the government spent $100 billion in Quebec the Bloc would complain that there is one worker in Montreal who does not have a job, and therefore Canada does not work.

For those few Tories left in the country, they say that our policies are exactly the same as theirs. This is not true. The Tories put together half measures and hoped that the problems would disappear. In the election we saw that the only thing that disappeared was the Conservative Party. The truth is that we have prepared a balanced approach to job creation.

Government can no longer do it all when it comes to job creation. There is not a bottomless pit of money to throw at the problem. This government is using its scarce resources to stimulate the economy and prod businesses to create jobs.

No one person or group of persons has all the answers and we do not claim to. However, this government is prepared to work with business, labour and individuals to provide real job creation opportunities.

With goodwill and a sense of determination from all parties we will recover from the recession and provide lasting employment to Canadians in all regions including Newfoundland, including St. John's West.

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4:25 p.m.


René Canuel Bloc Matapédia—Matane, QC

Madam Speaker, I listened with great interest to the hon. member. I am from Quebec and she is from another province. Being the Official Opposition critic for natural resources, I get phone calls from the Maritimes, especially from New Brunswick. People in forestry, in farming say: "You must help us".

If the Liberal Party agenda was that good, I would probably get a lot less phone calls. These people tell me and I quote: "They cut back in social services, in programs, cut back in unemployment insurance, cut back in health care and especially in forestry and farming". Very few things for small business.

Of course, what the hon. member is saying repeatedly, and rightly so, is that there is nevertheless an effort made with regard to the infrastructure and that must be recognized, and I do. But we are saying and I cannot repeat it 20 times: this spring, this summer or this fall, that program will work and I thank the government for it, but after that, what will the future hold for federal youth programs? What will the future hold for small business? What will the future hold for farmers and people in forestry? I put the question to the hon. member and I would like her to answer me. What will the future hold for all these people?

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4:25 p.m.


Jean Payne Liberal St. John's West, NL

Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question. I am not sure if the hon. member is aware of the fact that I am from Newfoundland and not from New Brunswick. As the hon. member realizes, in Newfoundland we have more of a fisheries crisis than we do of anything else.

The problems that the hon. member spoke about in forestry and in farming certainly to a lesser degree are experienced in Newfoundland.

I want to say again to the hon. member that the infrastructure program that was announced by this government was very welcome in my riding. As I said in my remarks earlier we in St. John's West cannot wait for that program to come into place. In my riding we have a very high unemployment rate because of the fisheries crisis and for other reasons.

We certainly look forward to these programs being put into place in order to create even the short term employment which at this point in time will be very welcome. However, this program was not meant to create short term employment solely. It is also a means to kick-start the economy so that other businesses will in turn create long term jobs.

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4:25 p.m.


Benoît Sauvageau Bloc Terrebonne, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to start by quoting from the speech of my colleague. She said: "Government cannot do it all when it comes to job creation". This is very nicely put, and we agree with that. However, we feel that the government should not be doing nothing, which is precisely what it is doing right now.

The reliance on an infrastructure program takes us back to the Trudeau era, and maybe even earlier than that. This recipe for restructuring the economy dates back to the 1930s, at the time of the great depression, when an infrastructure program was put in place. I believe that times have changed. The economy has also changed and I just hope that the Liberals have kept pace with those changes.

The way this infrastructure program will work is dreadful, and I will give you an example. I do not know whether the people in my riding have come to the same conclusion, but here it is. In a small town of my riding, Repentigny, the council had to borrow $6 million in order to get its share of money from the infrastructure program. After it has borrowed the $6 million-and I am not talking about Montreal here, I am talking about a town of 50,000 inhabitants-the town will receive the same amount from the federal government. How much is this going to cost in interest payments? How much more taxes will the residents have to pay? And how long will the program last?

I regret, Madam Speaker, but I must say that it is disgrace for the government to come up with such a program, claiming it is going to create jobs, and nothing else.

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4:30 p.m.


Jean Payne Liberal St. John's West, NL

Madam Speaker, I am not sure that the hon. member asked a question. I think it was more a comment than a question. However, I do understand the hon. member's problem there. I suspect that there probably are some communities that will not be able to take advantage of this infrastructure program.

However, I have talked to all of the municipal people from every community in my riding over the past couple of weeks. We have worked out a plan whereby almost every community will be able to take advantage.

I do not say that there are not some exceptions. There certainly are. However, I believe that with some ingenuity and some imagination almost every community in my riding will be able to take advantage of this program in one way or another.

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March 22nd, 1994 / 4:30 p.m.


Anna Terrana Liberal Vancouver East, BC

Madam Speaker, I welcome this opportunity to rise in this House to participate in this debate on job creation because I believe the government's proposal is full of vision.

The Minister of Industry recently made at a G-7 meeting in Detroit a speech in which he stressed the need to maintain a stable economic environment to stimulate job creation.

The economic challenges facing Canadians are well known. Unemployment is too high and budget deficits undermine governments' capability to take remedial action.

All G-7 nations are facing similar problems. Within most large economies, consumer confidence has generally remained low, reflecting unemployment rates which are high and still rising as well as continued uncertainty with regard to employment. We cannot take a piecemeal approach to these problems. A comprehensive approach is required.

The government recognizes that the task at hand is as simple and at the same time as difficult as setting the economy back on the road to growth, because the solution to our problems is just that, growth.

The government has begun the work of implementing a long term growth strategy for a durable recovery and job creation. It has three elements. The first is reducing the deficit. Canada is committed to reducing its deficit to GDP ratio 6.4 per cent in the fiscal year 1993-94 to 3 per cent by 1996-97. This is a realistic plan based on cutting $5 in expenditures for each $1 in new revenue raised.

Second, it will reduce the impediments to growth by ensuring the right framework for business expansion in the three areas of trade, training and infrastructure. The signing of the GATT and NAFTA agreements will be a major boost to our exports and will lead to many jobs and opportunities in Canada. We are also increasingly focusing on the Asia-Pacific region and was in which Canadian companies can participate.

The Minister of Human Resources Development's initiatives to ensure that Canada's labour force is ready to tackle the new opportunities will be a major determinant of our success. Social security reform will create jobs for Canadians.

Further, the government's infrastructure program is helping the economy to get moving again. This is a short term job creation program that recognizes the impact that smart investments in infrastructure can have on long term job creation.

Third, the government will provide leadership for Canada's transition to the new economy. Growing companies take risks and use science and technology to the fullest. They are, in a word, innovative. There is much that can be done to promote innovation but this was perhaps the area of greatest neglect by Canadian governments in the 1980s. It is the area of greatest potential for restoring growth in the economy in the 1990s.

To provide adequate leadership for transition to this new economy, we must promote the development and use of new, innovative technologies by the private sector; examine the needs of small businesses and the opportunities coming their way, particularly in the case of extremely innovative businesses; co-operate with the private sector to put in place the infrastructure required by the new economy.

The approach to job creation that the government is following relies on the ability of technology, whether newly created through R and D or adopted and more effectively diffused to a greater number of companies to create jobs.

Technology and innovation are central to the solution of the unemployment crisis. Higher productivity brought about through the application of new technology and innovation leads to higher income and to more and better jobs.

A recent study by the Department of Finance found that technology intensive industries produced 47.7 per cent of the new jobs created between 1984 and 1991. Industries that were both high tech and high knowledge users contributed 46 per cent of new jobs, although they accounted for only about one-third of total employment.

In the recent budget we began the process of implementing a new agenda through which technology plays a central role in our approach to job creation.

Another driving force of our economic growth is small business. Not only do the vast majority of existing businesses fall into that category, but they are also our main source of job creation. In fact, during the 1980s, 87 per cent of all new jobs were created in that area. In 1991, 53 per cent of all Canadians in the private sector were either self-employed or working for businesses with fewer than 100 employees. Technology, combined with horizontal management structures and flexibility, can help small businesses adjust quickly to respond to changing consumer needs.

According to a recent government study on the growth of some 2,000 small businesses, companies that make use of technology, develop their own innovative technologies or concentrate on technology diffusion or adoption achieve better results in terms of growth.

Although small businesses create jobs they can face serious impediments such as restricted access to capital, inadequate management skills, a lack of skilled employees, limited technological sophistication and underdeveloped marketing abilities, especially abroad.

We must work on removing the impediments they face. We must also encourage small businesses to become aggressive innovators. Therefore, the government is committed to improving the business environment for small business and reshaping government policies and programs in support of small business.

In summary, the government has outlined its agenda for small business which underlines the government's determination to work closely with all the stakeholders to ensure that this vital sector continues to provide economic growth and create even more jobs.

Another important hallmark of the new economy is the world of telecommunications. In its plans for the future, the government will focus on the development of the information highway as a necessary infrastructure for the new economy. The information highway links the major elements of the new economy: users, content, technology and networks.

Well planned spending on this new type of infrastructure offers the potential for immediate job creation in the short term, while it is being built. As well, there will be a payoff in the longer term through the support of higher levels of economic activity when it is operational.

To conclude, the Government of Canada has carefully examined the international situation with regard to growth and job creation. While high unemployment and the increasing number of low-paying jobs may have many causes, they are basically due to the inability of economies to innovate and adjust to technological progress as well as changes in the international trade structure.

The Canadian program to promote innovation in all economic sectors and invest in people is on track.

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4:40 p.m.


Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Madam Speaker, first I would like to thank the hon. member for Vancouver East for her always very heartfelt, very moderate remarks, and I would like to make two or three comments that will take the form of questions. As you can appreciate, today's opposition motion does not mean in any way that we believe jobs can be created by waving a magic wand. It simply says that this government does not offer us hope for the future, an overall vision regarding job creation. On a more fundamental level, beyond this lack of vision, we see structural obstacles in the presence of two governments that have clearly not found a balance in terms of job creation.

For us, the best government is not the one that intervenes the least. The best thing that could happen to Quebecers is to have one less government. So much for the general framework.

In the meantime, since we must continue to work within that system, I would like to ask the hon. member for Vancouver East this: Does she agree with me that, at the national level, the sectors that will create jobs, where workers will be needed in coming years, surprisingly enough and contrary to conventional wisdom, are often sectors with strong community involvement? I am thinking in particular of the whole issue of support services for seniors. The hon. member knows that the number of senior citizens will double in Quebec and Canada. That is something we have in common.

As an eminent economist from the Université du Québec à Montréal, Ruth Rose, pointed out, there is also the child-care sector. We live in a society where people work split shifts. It is not like in the old days when people got up at eight o'clock in the morning and worked until five in the afternoon before going home. People now work irregular hours and governments will have to invest very heavily in a national network of child-care centres.

In closing, I will talk about the recreation sector, especially for handicapped people. We are fortunate to have in this House a member such as the hon. member for Mercier, whose keen intelligence and talent is well known and who has always said, like most members of the Bloc Quebecois believe, that economic growth and job development must go hand in hand with community network development.

I therefore ask the hon. member if she believes we can, within her government's job proposal, emphasize community networks. Can we rely on her dynamism and her sense of involvement; will she become her government's social conscience if it ever decides to cut job-creation programs?

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4:40 p.m.


Anna Terrana Liberal Vancouver East, BC

Do you want me to join the Bloc Quebecois?

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4:40 p.m.


Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

No, that is not necessary.

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4:40 p.m.


Anna Terrana Liberal Vancouver East, BC

Thank you. I have a great social conscience because I come from a riding that needs to have a social conscience. I also see the need to find other sources.

I believe that we must redefine the question of work now. Work is no longer what we knew. Now we talk about technology and support. You are right. We also talked about child care, for which, as you know, the Liberal Party and the government promised to create 50,000 spaces when economic growth in Canada allows.

I believe that we must work together. For example, the private sector should support us in all this, the other governments too, as you said, and I believe that if all governments worked together, it would be easier.

Finally, there are all the consultations to find out what we really need. Of course I would like the situation to be otherwise but I also know that it is not possible.

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4:40 p.m.


Mike Scott Reform Skeena, BC

Madam Speaker, first I would like to apologize for missing my rotation and I am grateful for having the opportunity to come back on. I would like to begin by saying that I probably would agree with the intent of the motion of the Bloc Quebecois although we are probably going to come at it from a different angle.

I come at it from the angle that government does not create jobs. Every time I hear this term job creation by somebody in government it is almost like running a fingernail down a chalkboard as far as I am concerned. Government does not create jobs. What government can do however is facilitate the creation of jobs.

I have lived in the northwest of British Columbia for all my life and for many years I was the partner in a construction business in northwestern British Columbia. It was a successful business. We started in 1981-82 with five employees and when we sold the business in 1990 we were employing up to 200 people at various times of the year.

We did this without any government grants, any handouts, any subsidies. As a matter of fact, and I say this with all sincerity, we did it in spite of government, not with any government help.

I have also been involved in the business community in Kitimat for many years with the Chamber of Commerce and many of my good friends and acquaintances come from the business community. Of course as a community we often associate and we talk about the various problems we face in our businesses and the various things that hinder or help us.

I can assure everyone that virtually all of the business contacts I have do not look at government as being some kind of boon to their existence. As a matter of fact they share the feelings I have that if government would only get off their backs and leave them alone they would have a lot better opportunity to create jobs or expand their businesses, to be profitable, to grow and to prosper.

I have some examples of the failure of government policies, some anecdotal evidence, that maybe some of the members here would be interested in.

Back in the early 1980s we contracted on the construction of a road that the federal government had put out for tender. In the contracting business when you submit a tender you are locked in. Your price is fixed. If your price is accepted then you are obligated to complete that job or project for the price you tendered.

At the time we were bidding the job there was no federal sales tax on explosives. Historically it had not been included. For whatever reason it had never been a part of the federal sales tax regime.

We bid the job. We got prices for explosives because it was a major component of the job and subsequent to submitting our tender and being awarded the job, but before we even got started on the project, the finance minister of the day came along and imposed a federal sales tax on explosives. We immediately went back and said to the minister that we were working for him, the government. We fixed the price to do this job, and after we fixed our price he had come along and increased our costs by $50,000 and we thought we ought to be able to get that back.

Do you think the government would do it? This was a Liberal government I might add. It was not the Conservative government. We never had any success.

These are the kinds of problems businesses come up against. Let me give you some more examples of government intervention in the marketplace.

For many years there was a successful ready-mix business operated in my community and that ready-mix business as part of its operation had a small block plant. On rainy days when there was nothing else to do the employees, rather than being sent home, would manufacture masonry blocks.

There was a fellow in a neighbouring community who got the bright idea that he should be in the block business. He secured a $700,000 loan or a loan guarantee from the federal government to put his business into operation, to create a huge block plant that could not possibly ever sustain itself for the market area it was trying to service. He drove the fellow in Kitimat out of business. His block plant had to close down. The employees lost the benefit of employment on rainy days when there was nothing left to do. In the end the new business failed simply because it was not a good business idea in the first place. If it had been a good business idea I suggest that he would not have had the problem in coming up with the funds.

Any time the government gets involved with funding these kinds of operations it is generally because it is a bad business idea. It is generally destined to fail. Not only are the taxpayers hurt but usually the competitors of that business are hurt. They are the ones that are contributing to the tax base. In effect their tax dollars are being used to support these businesses that are built up to compete against them.

These are the kinds of federal policies that we have had to live with in the business community in the past. When I hear about job creation it just does not ring true with me.

Let me give a most recent example. In the House today we were talking about a subsidy on the part of the government for a new aluminium smelter in South Africa, a $60 million U.S. dollar or close to a $100 million Canadian export credit to a new South African aluminium smelter. If the government is talking about job creation they must be interested in creating jobs in South Africa but certainly not here.

We have 10,000 people in Quebec who are employed directly in the primary production of aluminium and 2,000 people employed in British Columbia in my riding at Kitimat in one of Alcan's largest smelters anywhere. These people are paying their taxes and contributing to Canadian society and they see their taxes being used to support the construction of a new aluminium smelter in South Africa. How are we creating jobs in Canada by that measure? Where is the consistency in government? I just do not see it.

Some of the irritants and costly policies that government follow are that small businesses in Canada are acting as the agent of the government in collecting taxes, UIC premiums, CPP premiums and personal employment data. As well as being an unpaid job, the fact is they are liable for any mistakes they might make. They are liable for doing the government's work for them. In addition to acting as an agent they have to make payroll deductions and remit that money on a regular basis. In the case of my business it was on the 15th of each month. In the past we had to have our cheques postmarked by the 15th of the month so that we would avoid penalties and interest.

Now the government that talks about aiding small business wants to have electronic transfers of those funds on the 15th of the month. If you do not get your electronic transfer done in time you are going to be faced with a 10 per cent penalty right off the bat let alone the interest charges. Now I ask, how is that assisting or helping small business?

This policy is tantamount to paying taxes in advance. When I was in business we had to meet our payroll and pay our expenses often long in advance of receiving the revenues that were attached to those expenses. I do not think the government fundamentally recognizes just how difficult it is.

It is one thing to talk about job creation and how we are going to assist small business, but it is quite another thing to sit there on a Thursday afternoon and try to make sure you are going to be able to cover your payroll on Friday. That is something that small business right across Canada has to face all the time and it is something that we in government-and I include myself now because I have become part of the guilty as it were-all too often fail to recognize. It is an extremely difficult existence out there for small business.

A small business person does not get a pension plan. They can maybe make use of the registered retirement savings plan but they do not have their own pension plan. They are not entitled to unemployment insurance benefits if their business fails. Oftentimes they are putting in 60, 70 or 80 hours a week and not receiving benefits. Many people who are working in regular jobs would be surprised. I think a lot of times people expect that entrepreneurs in small and medium sized businesses are very wealthy. The case is really that very few people actually become fabulously wealthy and successful. Most people just make a living at it and as a government we have to recognize that.

I have seen no evidence to this point that the government is taking any steps to rectify the problems that business faces. Taxation rules for example, are becoming more complex rather than simpler. I recall that when I was in business I looked at the tax act on a couple of occasions and neither myself, my accountant or my lawyer could not figure out what it meant.

How can we expect small business to be able to prosper when it has to deal with ambiguous tax laws? When you are trying to make a business decision on the best way to acquire a new asset or to open a new business, you have to spend all your time trying to figure out the best way to do it taxwise rather than getting on with the job and letting your entrepreneurial talents run toward creating the business and making it work. That is the kind of thing that government can do for small businesses, make it easier for them to exist.

Diversification funding, regional development funding and all the things I talked about earlier are still very much alive and it is still very much the attitude of members opposite that this is the way we are going to help business and industry. It is not.

As long as government prevails with this attitude, we are going to have a continual drain on tax dollars, we are going to have continual failures in the individual areas where these moneys are invested and it is going to hinder rather than help small business. While the Bloc is talking about no vision for the future, my vision is to get government out of these things and let small business prosper on its own.

I am going to conclude my remarks by saying that there is an opportunity right now for government to show leadership, to change some of the policies it has been following, to recognize that government does not create jobs, government does not create wealth. It certainly has the ability to expropriate wealth and it does that with remarkable ability.

The only jobs that government ever creates are jobs that are created as a result of the expropriation of somebody else's wealth in the first place. We have to recognize that. When government does recognize that-