I have seen quite few figures, sir.
So then, what is the government doing? It does not like to be reminded of its record, but that is our job. What action has it taken? First of all, it cancelled the helicopter deal, without giving any thought to preserving high-tech and scientific jobs, as the Bloc had recommended.
Next, it increased unemployment insurance premiums. It is trying to make people forget this decision any way it can by saying that it will lower the premiums next year. I will come back to this point.
The government plans to inject $1 billion a year into its largest initiative, the Infrastructure Program. It hopes that the provinces and municipalities will match this amount. After two years, the government hopes to have created between 45,000 and 65,000 temporary or short-term jobs. It is a simple matter to calculate the cost of each one of the 65,000 jobs, in light of the problems.
Mr. Speaker, the members opposite should stop saying that they have created jobs. If that was their slogan, and if they are satisfied with the Infrastructure Program-some bad language comes to mind, but I realize that members cannot speak such words in this House, unless they are willing to temper their remarks and I have no desire to do so.
At best, the Infrastructure Program will create 65,000 jobs. According to the Johnson government, the program will create 20,000 in Quebec. By extrapolating, we see that this initiative will create 20,000 jobs, while the lives of 800,000 depend on finding a job, often any job.
Therefore, when the government says it has followed through on its promises when we know that this program is only a drop in the bucket, it is showing a certain lack of understanding and compassion, as well as extreme thoughtlessness. Its actions must be sternly denounced. Can anyone argue that this is the way to create jobs? However, for the government to be satisfied with creating 65,000 jobs-and this is not done yet-by the end of this period and to claim "mission accomplished", words fail me, Mr. Speaker. Let me just leave it at that.
The government's next move was to bring down a budget, which it claimed, with great fanfare, would get Canada out of the woods.
What was not mentioned too often though is the fact that the forecasts-not the targets but the actual forecasts-for employment in this budget see the overall rate of unemployment move from 11.2 per cent in 1993 to 10.8 per cent by the end of 1995 in Canada. This means that the government itself is resigned to doing nothing more than what is outlined in the infrastructure plan and hope it stirs things up a little.
Mr. Speaker, this is my first mandate as a member of Parliament, not that I did not try to get elected before, and if my constituents have elected me to represent our riding, it is to testify to the best of my abilities to the misery and despair of so many people. I will never tolerate that the government does nothing after running on a platform of "jobs, jobs, jobs". And especially after claiming-and this shows its lack of imagination-that 40,000 jobs will be created by the end of 1996 because it did not further increase unemployment insurance premiums.
The government says-and I know the word for saying the opposite of the truth cannot be used in this place-that it will create jobs, when in fact the only thing it will be doing is not further hindering job creation. The truth is, based on Employment and Immigration Canada's indicators, that the January UI premium increase probably prevented the creation of 9,000 jobs. That is the truth. We are expected to applaud the government for not preventing the creation of 40,000 jobs by the end of 1996! That is not my idea of a good employment policy.
The government has all the tools of a powerful state. In spite of its huge debt, Canada is part of the G-7, although it is closer to being booted out than ever before. It is among the have nations. This wealth, admittedly, was acquired for a large part owing to the richness of Canada's subsoil. As the government is now discovering, its true strength rests with its human resources.
Unfortunately, there is no easy recipe for investing in human resources development, and job training, as powerful a tool as it may be, is not a cure-all. I have spent a lot of time, along with other members of the Committee on Human Resources Development, in hearings where we were told repeatedly by the people involved in assisting individuals looking for a job how many of them have qualifications that they cannot even use. Painting in glowing colours the advantages of a little job training, which would be made compulsory, and having people believe that this would solve all their problems and create these jobs they are looking for is not permissible. In fact, it is absolutely forbidden. In any case, it goes against the testimony we heard from people working in the field. In Quebec alone-I do not know the latest figures but I will use slightly lower figures than those recorded during the last recession-over 4,000 engineers were jobless; we are talking about engineers and not about someone who took a little three-month course to upgrade his or her skills in some area. I am not underestimating the value of such courses. But I am saying that to make people believe they can get jobs after a short, compulsory training period is fiddling with the truth.
We will have many opportunities to come back to this issue. However, I wanted to say that I participated-I did not check the time I have left, I will be quick, I could have asked you before continuing-with 1,200 other people in the Quebec forum on social solidarity. What I want to say is this: There has been, at least in Quebec, perhaps because the unemployment problem there has been serious for a long time, a change in mentality. We do not simply ask others to show their concern about jobs. We know-and it may be true of unions, it is true of businesses, governments, and individuals-that the unemployment problem can only be tackled by means of a policy of solidarity. Solidarity means that everyone, including the rich, will have to do their part. We cannot simply let the rich carry on with their business while telling others they must tighten their belts because we can no longer afford to pay for social programs.
We in Quebec have been working on these issues for a long time. We have developed the ability to act in concert with employers, unions, citizens' groups, and governments. After a long debate, we developed a capacity to reach a consensus. Many see sovereignty as a project because we can no longer afford to waste time on discussions. We want to act quickly to
use the resources at our disposal in pursuing the priorities developed in the regions of Quebec.
I am making this speech in this House because I know that other regions of Canada are facing tremendous problems, that they can no longer rely on their previous wealth, that they may have to undergo a long process. But, if the government is not aware of this, if it thinks it can collect revenues and leave those in difficulty out in the cold, it is on the wrong track. It can change course and that is the purpose of today's motion.