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House of Commons Hansard #236 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was c-64.

Topics

Lac Barriere ReserveOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Sault Ste. Marie Ontario

Liberal

Ron Irwin LiberalMinister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is consumed with the second question. I believe I answered it in the first answer.

Lac Barriere ReserveOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

When?

Lac Barriere ReserveOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

The Speaker

Order. The hon. member for Hastings-Frontenac-Lennox.

YouthOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Liberal

Larry McCormick Liberal Hastings—Frontenac—Lennox And Addington, ON

Mr. Speaker, here in Ontario the Harris government has slashed funds for job creation programs. Republicans in the U.S. have cut funding for their youth oriented Americorps.

Can the Secretary of State for Training and Youth tell Canadians specifically what action our government is taking to make sure our young people remain a priority of this government?

YouthOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Western Arctic Northwest Territories

Liberal

Ethel Blondin-Andrew LiberalSecretary of State (Training and Youth)

Mr. Speaker, our youth are the future of Canada and they remain a priority of this government. In fact, this government has increased funding by 7.9 per cent and has earmarked $236 million for youth initiatives this year.

An early sign of success is that we exceeded estimates this summer for employment. We helped over 220,000 young people find jobs. That includes 40,000 jobs directly created by federal initiatives.

In the United States it costs $22,000 U.S. per participant. In Canada we do it for half of that; it is $10,000 per participant. We are well on our way and we are very committed.

Defence Industry ConversionOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Prime Minister.

In its red book, the government pledged to develop a defence industry conversion strategy. Two years later, we are still waiting for that strategy and for a review of the defence industry productivity program.

Are we to understand that the government did not follow through on its commitment because, instead of meeting the real needs of the industry, it is more concerned by the stand, on the referendum issue, taken by business leaders in that sector? This is shameful.

Defence Industry ConversionOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Acadie—Bathurst New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, the whole question of conversion of various defence industries to peacetime purposes has been going on for some time.

The program the hon. member refers to is obviously a very important one in Quebec. Over the years a rather major defence industry has built up in that province and a lot of funds were invested in the defence sector.

The challenge that is facing the industries in Quebec is the same as that facing defence based industries anywhere else in Canada, which is to make that conversion. The Minister of Industry has indicated to my hon. friend on a number of occasions that we are always looking forward to opportunities to be able to assist industries in Quebec and elsewhere to make that conversion from defence production to civilian purposes.

Association Of Universities And Colleges Of CanadaOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Reform

John Williams Reform St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, grants given to the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada have risen sharply in recent years. In 1994-95 it was given $10,600, but suddenly this year it received $262,000, an increase of 2,300 per cent.

Given that the Treasury Board is responsible for overseeing millions of dollars worth of grants, can the minister explain the sudden increase in money given to the AUCC?

Association Of Universities And Colleges Of CanadaOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

York Centre Ontario

Liberal

Art Eggleton LiberalPresident of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for Infrastructure

Mr. Speaker, all grants are examined in the framework of providing funds that help in the education system in this case, or in whatever other areas, to help Canadians and to do it in the most efficient and effective manner. Each department takes on that responsibility. I am sure that was done in this case and was fully examined when these grants were made.

AgricultureOral Question Period

October 3rd, 1995 / 2:55 p.m.

NDP

Vic Althouse NDP Mackenzie, SK

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food.

The 1995 budget proposed a $1.6 billion ex gratia payment to offset the decline in farmland prices that would result from cutting the Crow benefit. Later the minister made three basic changes to that budget policy by deleting land seeded to forage crops, by deciding to include renters, and by deciding that those renters would pay income tax on their payments.

What was the rationale for these changes and how are these decisions consistent with the original budget allocation?

AgricultureOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Regina—Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Mr. Speaker, the references the hon. member makes to later changes after the announcement in the budget are a bit misplaced. All of the items he referred to were covered in our budget documents and then covered very specifically in a series of consultations I conducted with farm leaders across western Canada in the months immediately following the budget.

We highlighted in the budget what the principal issues were but we wanted to leave a window for consultation with farm leaders and farm organizations to make sure we had the benefit of their best advice in program design. Virtually every design decision we have taken with respect to the $1.6 billion payment has been guided by the very valuable input and advice of the leadership of western farm organizations.

Great LakesOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Liberal Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of the Environment.

My interest in Great Lakes pollution took a great leap forward when I discovered it was causing decreased sexuality in males. My question to the minister is simple. What is she doing to protect the Great Lakes ecosystem and future generations of Adams?

Great LakesOral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Speaker

I am not sure that relates to the specific functions of the Minister of the Environment but I will permit her to answer.

Great LakesOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Hamilton East Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I hesitate to comment on the nefarious effects of Great Lakes pollution on male sexual reproduction. As a result of activities in the Great Lakes for the first time we did manage to spot another endangered species-

Great LakesOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

Great LakesOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Liberal

Sheila Copps Liberal Hamilton East, ON

I mean an endangered species. The peregrine falcon was found nesting in a couple of buildings in Toronto and Hamilton.

We have also been specific in being able to delist Collingwood as one of the 17 hot spots in Canada of the 43 areas of concern. We have restored about 8 per cent of the beneficial uses and we have been able to work on improvements at 17 sewage treatment plants. Nine plants are moving to improve their phosphorous removal capability.

I understand the hon. member's interest specifically in male sexuality but I will tell him that with the clean-up of the Great Lakes I think we start with herring gull eggs on up.

Great LakesOral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Speaker

This concludes question period.

I have been given written notice of a question of privilege from the hon. member for Markham-Whitchurch-Stouffville. I am prepared to hear that now.

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

Jag Bhaduria Liberal Markham—Whitchurch-Stouffville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today on a point of privilege regarding the point of order raised yesterday by the hon. member for Elk Island.

Specifically the member was concerned that a lapel pin I was wearing in the House was inappropriate.

The pin in question was nothing more than an insignia encompassing the map of Canada, the Canadian flag and the provincial flag of Quebec. Additionally the words "One Canada-uni et indivisible" were on the pin.

Mr. Speaker, while I share your concern-

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

The Speaker

Let me understand. The hon. member for Markham-Whitchurch-Stouffville is raising a point of privilege that arises out of a point of order. Is that correct?

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

Jag Bhaduria Liberal Markham—Whitchurch-Stouffville, ON

That is correct, Mr. Speaker.

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

The Speaker

In the rules of the House, as far as I understand them, we cannot raise a point of privilege out of a point of order. Unless the member can find another vehicle for raising his point of privilege I will move on to another matter.

The House resumed consideration of Bill C-64, an act respecting employment equity, as reported (with amendment) from the committee.

Employment Equity ActGovernment Orders

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

Brent St. Denis Liberal Algoma, ON

Mr. Speaker, just before question period I had commented on a number of groups and associations that represent various minorities. They believe in the bill. To them and to the employers who took part in the process the bill combines our social and economic visions in a fair and reasonable way.

Bill C-64 is a project for our entire society. It is based on partnerships. It is based on reaching for our highest ideals and turning them into a daily reality for all Canadians regardless of heritage, gender or disability. It is based on our truest sense of self as a people. Business, unions and designated groups agree we have found a direction for equity that is consistent with the best features of Canadian life.

The Business Council of British Columbia said during a recent round of consultations: "Employers alone cannot achieve employment equity. Employers want to be part of the solution in partnership with government, unions and employee representatives, educational institutions and designated group organizations".

The council is right. I know when I leave this place I will be pleased to know I helped with a piece of legislation that strengthens our economy and our society. It is simply one more step toward the kind of Canada we should all want to leave to our children and our grandchildren.

In my introduction, I used a quote from the red book, and I will conclude by doing the same.

"We hope to ensure equal opportunities, so as to provide a decent standard of living to more Canadian families, as well as dignity and respect, in a country where social harmony prevails".

Equal opportunities for all. This is the Liberal Party's objective for Canada. This objective is at the heart of our vision of what our country should be.

Employment Equity ActGovernment Orders

3:05 p.m.

Ottawa Centre Ontario

Liberal

Mac Harb LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of International Trade

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have this opportunity to show how Canada is a leader when it comes to employment equity.

Bill C-64 is a made in Canada legislative measure which meets the specific needs of the workplace in our country.

I am proud to say that our government does not follow the American trend of criticizing employment equity. We should not be overly influenced by what goes on south of the border, since many problems arising American law do not occur in Canada.

Given our history, our constitution and our social context, we do not do things the way the Americans do. I should add that the progress made so far tells us that we often make the right decisions.

Let me offer this brief overview of the Employment Equity Act, an act that is unique in the world. It is distinctly Canadian.

Our legislation is firmly grounded in this country's Constitution. In Canada every individual has the right to equality before and under the law, and equal protection and benefit of the law.

As we have said in the red book, the Liberal Party plan for Canada, we want a country where we all see ourselves as contributors and participants, not liabilities and dependants. We are committed to a Canada characterized by integrity, compassion and competence.

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms recognizes that special consideration and the accommodation of differences are necessary to realize true equality under the law. Different treatment is not a departure from equality. It is essential however to achieve it.

The Grand Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, Ovide Mercredi, explained it well when he told the Standing Committee on Human Rights and Status of Disabled Persons: "I think sometimes people, white people in particular, forget that this is their society and it is not easy for others to get into it".

This legislation is designed precisely to build bridges between potential and opportunity.

In Canada, employment equity is proactive and positive. It is intended to prevent discrimination. It is designed to eliminate obstacles to employment for disadvantaged Canadians, through intelligent management of human resources making it easier for the new labour force of the 21st century to enter the job market.

Our legislation encourages consultation between employers and workers to find solutions for problems arising at the workplace.

Our approach is based on conciliation rather than use of the courts, because this is the Canadian approach. The aim of the federal government is to educate and help employers by creating

employment opportunities enjoyed by all members of the labour force for members of designated groups.

Another central feature of our system is our firm belief in flexible targets businesses can reasonably achieve. In both our original Employment Equity Act and in the current bill to replace it we have purposely sought the views of employers, unions and members of the designated groups.

We have listened and learned, recognizing we must strike the right balance, ensuring the law will not solve one set of problems for employees by creating another problem for employers.

That is why Bill C-64 has been specifically designed to minimize the regulatory burden. It also makes programs more cost effective and enforcement measures much more efficient.

The bonus for Canadian companies is when everyone's best interests are served there is a direct improvement to the bottom line.

In fact, employment equity is not hard to sell. According to the Business Council of British Columbia in its testimony before the standing committee studying Bill C-64, the four designated groups make up 60 per cent of Canada's population. As employment equity programs are implemented, it went on to say, the labour force will better reflect the diversity of the Canadian people with all the social and economic advantages this comprises. Our experience with employment equity proves that, when a solution is practical for business and protects human dignity, everyone benefits.

Employment equity helps fill the gaps in our economic development and therefore it strengthens our economy as a whole.

The newspapers are full of stories about business executives extolling the virtues of employment equity. For example, Dan Branda, chief executive officer of Hewlett-Packard Canada told a Globe and Mail reporter that diversity:

-is an absolute business imperative because it gives us the edge in attracting the best and the brightest people. It positions us as an employer of choice and will help us in competing in a market that is becoming increasing diverse and global.

The chief executive officer of the Canadian Occidental Petroleum, Bernard Isautier said:

Diversity is a source of competitive advantage. Canada is a country with a respect for differences, for different cultures, for different opinions and respect in general for the individual. That makes Canadians particularly well received when they deal with foreign countries. I think Canada should capitalize more on these capacities.

No one would agree more than the young woman who is able to pursue a career in the trades, the young aboriginal student who sees his post-secondary studies lead to full employment in industry, the Asian engineer who is able to use her skills to improve production processes to make a firm more competitive or the disabled adult who gains financial and social independence, enjoying the dignity and security that comes with a salary.

This legislation is a recommitment of the government to equality for all Canadians. With Bill C-64 we are continuing our tradition of international leadership in the area of employment equity, while choosing to lead rather than be led. In these changing times, assuming our responsibility is making the most of the opportunities that change represents. In the process, we are creating a more united nation and building a more innovative economy.

Most of all, we are putting into practice the very values that make each of us so proud to be a Canadian: fairness, justice and equality for all.

Employment Equity ActGovernment Orders

3:15 p.m.

The Speaker

Is the House ready for the question?