House of Commons Hansard #259 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was federal.


The House resumed from November 9, 1995, consideration of the motion that Bill C-96, an act to establish the Department of Human Resources Development and to amend and repeal certain related acts, be read the second time and referred to a committee; and the amendment.

Department Of Human Resources Development ActGovernment Orders

10 a.m.


Paul Crête Bloc Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to speak this morning to this bill to establish the Department of Human Resources Development. However, I am also somewhat frustrated and astonished that the government could introduce this bill for second reading after the clear message sent in the referendum that significant changes were necessary in Canada.

Although Quebecers decided to vote No and give federalism a last chance, they certainly did not have in mind the kind of action proposed in Bill C-96.

This bill illustrates the fundamental difference in perception between the federal government and Quebec. Mr. Axworthy said yesterday in his speech, and I quote-

Department Of Human Resources Development ActGovernment Orders

10 a.m.


Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON


Department Of Human Resources Development ActGovernment Orders

10 a.m.


Paul Crête Bloc Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup, QC

I apologize. I should have said the Minister of Human Resources Development instead of referring to a member by name.

The minister said yesterday in his speech: "It is decentralization of a very different kind. There has been a lot of talk about decentralization, but so far it has been a somewhat restricted debate as it talks only about decentralization in terms of transferring from the federal government to the provincial governments. Should we not also be talking about how to empower communities and individuals to make more choices? Is that not what we should be looking at in terms of decentralization? Partnership: government with the private sector, government with school boards, government with the provinces. That is the kind of philosophy we have to continually talk about because that is what works".

That is what Mr. Axworthy claims, or should I say the Minister of Human Resources Development.

In fact, this statement by the minister runs completely counter to the existing consensus in Quebec on manpower management. For example, I would like to quote from a 1991 letter written to the Minister of Employment and Immigration of the time by the Quebec Minister of Income Security which states: "Quebec does indeed recognize the crying need to define its own manpower policies, to establish its priorities with respect to manpower development in close conjunction with its partners in the labour market, and then to design and administer programs tailored to the needs it has set as priorities".

Further on in the letter he goes on to say "Even if the greatest constitutional harmony reigned in the country, which is not exactly the case, Quebec would make the same demands with respect to manpower, since it is so urgently necessary for Quebec's economic development that manpower programs be made efficient and tailored to Quebec's specific labour market priorities". The person saying this in 1991 was a federalist Liberal Quebec minister.

Today the federal government is tabling Bill C-96, and what is Quebec's reception to it? The Quebec Minister of Employment describes it as the final rejection of the unanimous consensus in Quebec that the federal government must withdraw completely from active manpower measures and hand back to Quebec the relevant budgets.

So far, one could qualify this as a squabble between politicians, with each one wanting to hang on to his powers; the people will be the final judges of this. But there is something peculiar to this issue of manpower: the Quebec government position is also the position of all those in Quebec involved in this field.

For instance, to quote someone who has never been identified as a sovereignist or as a backer of the present Quebec government, Ghislain Dufour, the spokesperson for the Conseil du Patronat du Québec, was still saying as recently as yesterday "It is essential

that the manpower issue be handed over to Quebec, so that there may at last be a proper policy".

He went on to say: "This is one of the cards the federal government ought to lay on the table to indicate that it has indeed heard Quebec's message calling for change".

Despite Mr. Dufour's position in support of federalism, his heartfelt cry in his apparently unflagging hope that federalism might change went completely unheeded by the federal government, which, as if it were a matter of daily routine, is presenting Bill C-96 for second reading. The aim of the bill is simply to give the federal government the equivalent of a federal minister of education.

I quote clause 6 of the bill as proof. It provides as follows.

The powers, duties and functions of the Minister extend to and include all matters over which Parliament has jurisdiction relating to the development of the human resources of Canada not by law assigned to any other Minister, department, board or agency of the Government of Canada, and are to be exercised with the objective of enhancing employment, encouraging equality and promoting social security.

The clause contains no reference to provincial jurisdictions or to the fact that Quebec already has a network set up to take action in the manpower sector or to the whole problem that has existed in this sector for the past five years. The government's position should be an obvious sign to Quebecers of the sort of change hinted at during the week before the referendum, without any basis or forethought, which today has been lost in the federal government's return to its old habits.

What is Quebec's claim based on? It is based on the fact that an integrated policy on economic, social and political action, means that the government assuming responsibility, for instance for education, for the Quebec labour code which covers 90 per cent of workers in Quebec, for occupational health and safety, for labour standards, for regulating professional qualifications, professional conduct and mass layoffs-all having a direct impact on jobs-should control the other aspects, as well, such as training, the way we prepare our workforce for the challenges of the globalization of the marketplace and of new technology.

It is rather like taking away half its tool box and thus preventing it from doing its job in a area that is critical for the future.

I would like to give you more examples. I mentioned Mr. Dufour, from the Conseil du patronat, but a similar plea was voiced, last week, by Gérald Ponton, the president of the Quebec manufacturers' association, who cannot be accused either of being a sovereignist or a proponent of Quebec's independence. Mr. Ponton made the same kind of remark as Mr. Dufour. He even said that, during the referendum campaign, people everywhere in the field were saying: "If they give us control over manpower or such and such an area, that might make it worth our while to listen to what is being said". This man speaks on behalf of manufacturers, people who must adapt to changes on a daily basis. They never said that the federal government was the best level of government to deal with this. They are saying the same thing as the people from the job forum and the Société québécoise de développement de la main-d'oeuvre. They are telling us that it is imperative for Quebec to have control over manpower management in the province.

I suggest that bringing Bill C-96 forward at second reading stage, as the federal government did, is somewhat of an affront not only to the Government of Quebec, but also to the people of Quebec as a whole, because, while they want changes, they want the assurance that Quebec will be able to control these major aspects of its development. We notice the same kind of attitude at the Canadian Institute of Adult Education, another group seriously involved with training, which asked the federal government to withdraw Bill C-96.

How did this kind of approach come about in Quebec? Because Canada-and this fact was recognized by the OECD-is considered as some sort of testing ground, given its dismal track record in manpower training. It is characterized by the fact that we have hundreds of thousands of jobs available in Canada but at the same time more than one million people are out of work. The system is responsible for this mismatch between the number of jobs available and unemployed workers, because it should be possible to have only structural unemployment, caused for example by individuals quitting one job for another or by temporary situations arising from layoffs or other changes in the industry.

But that is not the situation at present. We have a large workforce that has never been trained properly. And this cannot be blamed on Quebec achieving sovereignty, since it has not taken place yet. The present situation is the result, the doing of the current system. It was produced by this system. One of the most striking realities is how differently UI recipients are treated compared with welfare recipients or, even worse, with those who fall between the cracks.

Canada has no integrated policy on how people looking for jobs should be treated. Our very sectoral approaches have led to results such as the last UI reform. The federal government has found two ways of dealing with its budget responsibilities and very tight fiscal constraints. To reduce its UI costs, it increased the number of weeks required to qualify for UI benefits and reduced the number of weeks of benefits.

It then ended up with a UI fund surplus of $5 billion this year. At a time when our unemployment rate exceeds 11 per cent, is a UI fund surplus the best option? Is generating a surplus to be used by a

bureaucracy that has already proven its ineffectiveness the best way to create jobs?

At the same time, the provincial governments, which are also struggling with budget constraints, are responsible for welfare and systematically trying to keep social assistance costs as low as possible. Employment programs are therefore created so that people can go on unemployment insurance. But these jobs are not permanent. They are just a temporary measure.

We are caught in a vicious circle. If we had a single level of government responsible for the whole manpower issue, including welfare recipients in the labour force who are able to work, UI recipients and those falling between the cracks, its sole objective would be to make the best possible use of human resources and not to reduce welfare and UI costs by offloading its deficits and responsibilities onto the other level of government. Only one government would then be judged in terms of the effectiveness of its manpower policy.

Why is it necessary that Quebec be responsible for that sector? Realities vary widely in the Canadian economic space. For policies in the social, regional development, manpower, health, housing and employment training sectors to be adequate, they must be geared to the environment in which they are apply. They must also be effective.

It is not true that a single policy for the whole country can be effective, given the differences between regional economies. For example, the Maritimes and Quebec's eastern region have an economy which is largely dependent on natural resources and which, therefore, has fostered the development of a large number of seasonal industries. If you apply a national policy to these regions, you only generate disillusion, as is now the case. Moreover, many investments have been made year after year in these regions, but they simply did not produce any result. This can be explained by a number of reasons, including the fact that responsibility for the manpower sector was not delegated to the appropriate level of government.

When you think of it, the accumulated surplus in the UI fund, which will be the primary funding source for the new human resources investment fund, is a new hidden tax. Once it realized that it could no longer borrow on foreign markets to keep trying to control everything-because international lenders were no longer willing to provide funding for that-the federal government found a new trick. It makes Canadians themselves lend money, through UI contributions.

The government is trying to use a new artificial instrument which ultimately is based on a mismanagement of money. If, instead of generating this $5 billion surplus, the government had left that money in the economy, do you not think that it would have helped create a lot more jobs, that it would have given much more concrete results? So today the least trained categories of workers would have the possibility of getting jobs more easily and we would not be trying to give them training for which they are not necessarily prepared.

The other element I would like to draw to the government's attention is that Bill C-96 will lead to open warfare between the Quebec educational system and others who might want to get involved in training. In fact, this may be the hidden agenda of the federal government, to demolish all of the educational tools Quebec has developed, but I believe that such educational bodies as la Fédération des commissions scolaires du Québec and la Fédération des cegeps du Québec have, nevertheless, developed original approaches that make Quebec very competitive in the world market.

The deliberate choice by the federal government to sign agreements with organizations outside these systems, with criteria that differ from those of these systems will lead, within a few years, to an incredible mess with equivalencies. Who will have trained whom? How? To what standard? And this outcome will be just one more example of federal government waste and inefficiency, at a time when we no longer have any money to waste.

This may have been done in the seventies in an attempt to put a Canadian model in place, some artificial concept of what Canada could be, but nowadays this is no longer possible, because of financial constraints and pressure from international lenders, as well as the future demands of each taxpayer in Quebec and in Canada.

There is still time for the federal government to decide either to withdraw Bill C-96 or, at the very least, to heed the clear call from all those involved in this field in Quebec for the responsibility for manpower training to be handed over to the Government of Quebec.

This consensus has existed in Quebec for five years, during which all players have asked for manpower to be transferred to the Government of Quebec, while the federal government-Conservative or Liberal-turns a deaf ear. We must try to find the reason for this lack of openness, this failure to listen. What is happening at the federal level that they will not respond to the demands of all those people who earnestly want to reshape federalism?

In any case, there is an aspect to decentralization that is very obvious and which the federal government refuses to recognize. Why? Because any decision to give Quebec responsibility for manpower or to give any other province the same kind of responsibility in this or other sectors would have the effect of taking power away from the federal mandarins.

The people who were appointed during the Trudeau era and who since then have generated a lot of activities and believe that solutions in Canada will come from the top down instead of from the grass roots, all these people cannot bear the thought of a policy that would turn the decision making pyramid upside down, so that not their views but only the views of the citizens of Quebec and Canada would prevail.

This government will be judged by the way it manages to shake up its senior public servants. After four years in power, the government will no longer have an excuse. It can no longer say: "The Conservatives were like that, and this is our first year and that is why nothing is happening, we have not had time to adjust". They are now starting their third year, and if the federal government does not make any changes, the record will be there for Canadian to judge.

There is another reason why C-96 is unacceptable: it perpetuates two levels of intervention in education. Today, no business in any industrial sector can afford this kind of duplication. There is a lot of unnecessary spending here.

The minister of income security in the Liberal government preceding the Parti Quebecois government calculated the cost of this overlap between Quebec and Canada at between $250 and $275 million a year. Can we afford such overlap in the future? Two hundred fifty million dollars, when, with the prebudget consultations underway, we are being told everywhere that the government has to make choices. It has to decide to be efficient where it can. It has to decide to withdraw from areas where it is not.

Here we have concrete examples with obvious results that the government's involvement in labour matters over the past 10, 15 or 20 years has been totally ineffective and has not permitted any sort of matching of available jobs and manpower. It is also an example of decentralization being a solution when you have faith in the government that is on the receiving end, that will have to take it on and that will be judged by the voters.

Bill C-96 is being criticized by the Société québécoise de la main-d'oeuvre, the Quebec department of employment, the Institut canadien des adultes, the Forum sur l'emploi, the Association des manufacturiers du Québec and the Conseil du patronat du Québec. Here are enough reasons for the federal government to withdraw it or amend it so that Quebec could have control over the management of its manpower.

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10:20 a.m.

Parkdale—High Park Ontario


Jesse Flis LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I listened very carefully to the words of the member for Kamouraska-Rivière-du-Loup. He was very clear in his presentation.

The member began by stating that the referendum gave a clear message to the federal government. Yes, it did send a very clear message. The clear message is that the majority of Canadians in Quebec do not want to separate from Canada. That is the clear message and that is what we should be working toward.

However, the Bloc Quebecois keeps pushing its hidden agenda, which it tried to hide during the referendum. The agenda was complete separation. The sooner the Bloc Quebecois accepts this, the sooner all three parties and the independent members in this House can start working together and continue building the strong, beautiful country we have.

Yesterday we heard about the hospital closings in Quebec. That is going to hurt my family in Quebec. Why did that come out only after and not during the referendum? It would have hurt the hidden agenda of separation.

We are bringing in a bill which deals with administration rather than any substantive reform. It does not entail new organizational changes as the Bloc Quebecois tries to make us believe. It does not introduce new statutory powers or affect federal-provincial jurisdiction. I do not know why that would concern the Bloc. The bill draws together portions of the former departments of employment and immigration, health and welfare, secretary of state and all the former department of labour. Think of the savings this will bring to Canadian taxpayers. Why not pass those savings on to the people who are looking for jobs and the people who have to be re-educated?

I was an educator for 27 years. I have learned and am learning more so that education does not stop at the end of grade 8, at the end of grade 12 or at the end of university. Education is becoming a lifetime process. We are also learning that people with good professional jobs are not going to keep them for a lifetime. They are going to go through two, three, four jobs in a lifetime. Therefore they have to be retrained.

Because of the kind of environment we are in, we have to give workers the freedom to move from province to province. If they are forced to move from one province to another or they do it of their own free will, why should they be hampered because one province has a program different from another province? Why should they not be able to move from one program to another from province to province? I cannot understand why speaker after speaker from the Bloc are against this federal-provincial operation of working together to save taxpayers money, to keep building this beautiful country.

I have talked to many diplomats. I will not mention any names or countries but they are shocked at what has happened to our country. Canada is always used as a model and an example when countries move to more democratic forms of government. Now they are so let down. We are letting them down because the model they

worshipped, the country to which immigrants from all over the world want to come, is quarrelling within instead of working together.

I do not want a response, although I probably will get one. I want to leave a very clear message. The referendum did affect everyone in this House. We were elected by the people and the kind of comments I am hearing do not represent the majority of the people living in the province of Quebec. They showed that in the referendum.

Bill C-96 is not changing any statutory powers. It is not taking any powers away from Quebec or from any other province. This bill is an attempt to work together, to give programs and services more efficiently at less cost to the taxpayers.

I hope I have made my message clear. The Bloc is trying to resurface its hidden agenda and we are not going to accept it.

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10:30 a.m.


Paul Crête Bloc Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is easy to see the lack of understanding in this country. I would like to remind the hon. member who just spoke of a little historical fact. The sovereignist movement captured 40 per cent of the vote in 1980 and 49.4 per cent in 1995. This represents a 20 per cent increase for the sovereignists, while the federalist vote fell from 60 to 50 per cent.

If you do not see this as a very significant warning to Canada, if you do not understand the message, you will bear the consequences of this political choice for the rest of Canada, which is accusing the federal government of misleading them for two years by pretending that there was no problem to be resolved with Quebec. But there is a problem. Canadian citizens felt compelled to travel to Montreal, to make long-distance calls, because the Canadian government misled them for two years by claiming that everything was fine. If you ever go back to your old haunts, you will pay the political price.

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10:30 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

Order, please. I simply want to remind the House that all comments must be made through the Chair, so that our debates can take place according to the best parliamentary tradition.

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10:30 a.m.


Paul Crête Bloc Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup, QC

Yes, Mr. Speaker. I would like to say that, in my speech, I presented the arguments put forward by Quebec federalists. I talked about the chief executive of the Quebec manufacturers' association, Gérald Ponton, former chief of staff to a Quebec Liberal minister. I also mentioned the spokesperson for the Conseil du patronat du Québec, Ghislain Dufour, who is not known for his sovereignist views. They both agree that it is important that the federal government withdraw from manpower management. This is not mean separatists speaking, but Quebec federalists telling the federal government: "Unless you get out of there, the next time will be right one for Quebec sovereignty". That is the bottom line, and I think that the people of Quebec and Canada will be the judges of that.

The hon. member said that the bill contained no major changes, that it was a technical bill. Let me read you clause 6 of this bill.

The powers, duties and functions of the Minister extend to and include all matters over which Parliament has jurisdiction relating to development of the human resources of Canada-

Is that not a substantive change. Never before had the federal government dared lay down in an act that it had the power to interfere to such an extent with education, in spite of the fact that the Constitution clearly states that education falls under provincial jurisdiction. I will leave it up to the people to decide whehther this bill is a technical or a substantive bill.

The hon. member also indicated in his remarks that manpower adjustment has become important, given that people now have to change jobs often. We could not agree more on that. This is the basis for the whole argument put forward by the Quebec government, which maintains that education does not include only primary and secondary school, as it did at the end of the 19th century, but encompasses all training. That is what Quebec's position is premised on.

To conclude, I would like to say that the fact that Canada is considered as some sort of democratic model does not mean that, because there is, within this democracy, a major movement for the sovereignty of one part of the country and because this movement has a voice, we are any less democratic. People are supposed to be able to express themselves in a democracy. And that is what the people of Quebec have done and will do again, especially if the present government in Ottawa keeps ignoring the demands made not by sovereignists alone, but by sovereignists and federalists who are looking for profound changes. That is what the federal government will soon be judged on.

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10:30 a.m.

Kenora—Rainy River Ontario


Bob Nault LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Labour

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak on Bill C-96. I am sure members know the bill establishes the Department of Human Resources Development and amends or repeals certain related legislation.

In the time I have I will focus on the labour side of the bill and the duties the Prime Minister has entrusted with the Minister of Labour. Included in the bill are clear definitions of the direction and structures of the minister and the minister's duties. Clause 107 of the bill repeals the Department of Labour Act. Clause 4, though, authorizes the appointment of the Minister of Labour.

According to subclause 4(2), the powers, duties and functions of the Minister of Labour extend to and include all matters over which Parliament has jurisdiction relating to labour not by law assigned to any other department, board or agency of the Government of Canada.

In other words, the Minister of Labour has all the powers, duties and functions related to labour matters under federal jurisdiction, except for staff relations and the federal public service.

So that my hon. colleagues in the House understand the extent of this jurisdiction, I will sketch a broad outline for them. The areas covered by the Canada Labour Code fall within the labour minister's jurisdiction. The code governs industrial relations, occupational safety and health, and labour standards in the federal sphere. The code applies to Canadians working in major industrial sectors such as interprovincial and international rail, road and pipeline transportation, shipping, longshoring, air transportation, grain handling, international and interprovincial telecommunications, broadcasting, banks and certain crown corporations. These are critical sectors of the economy.

Parts I and III of the code dealing with industrial relations and labour standards apply to over 700,000 Canadian workers. Part II also applies to the federal public sector so it affects over 1 million Canadians.

Through the Canada Labour Code and other initiatives of the labour branch of HRD Canada, stable industrial relations are facilitated and safe, healthy, fair and productive workplaces are promoted. In the industrial relations sphere the Canada Labour Code has long been recognized as a model that successfully balances the rights and responsibilities of both labour and management.

Application of the Canada Labour Code is the minister's major responsibility, but several other acts and policies fall under her jurisdiction. Among these is the Canada Centre for Occupational Health and Safety. The centre disseminates occupational health and safety information across the country and plays a key role in protecting the lives and health of workers in Canada.

Other statutes that fall in whole or in part under the labour minister's jurisdiction are the Fair Wages and Hours of Labour Act, the Government Employees Compensation Act, the act respecting the Hudson Bay Mining and Smelting Company, the Hazardous Materials Information Review Act, the Merchant Seamen Compensation Act, part II of the Status of the Artist Act, the Wages Liability Act, the Non-Smokers' Health Act and the Corporations and Labour Unions Liabilities Act. All these deal with matters of security, justice and equity, basic entitlements of all Canadian workers.

The only function not carried over from the old Department of Labour is the program for older worker adjustment. This is the only responsibility that will be carried out elsewhere. On the other hand, the Minister of Labour could have added responsibilities under the Employment Equity Act once Bill C-64 has received royal assent.

Given the broad scope of the labour branch, members may wonder why we want to merge into Human Resources Development. It is a logical way for the federal government to meet the challenges facing us as we enter the next century. By merging the two departments into one we want to give concrete form within a single structure to an integrated vision of all various issues relating to the work world and social security.

If the development of our human potential is to be successful it has to be seen as a continuous whole. Society has undergone great changes and we have to adapt. An integrated and unified structure will obviously allow us to do that.

We can no longer succeed in helping Canadians achieve their full potential by creating artificial bureaucratic categories for each of their needs. Nor can we respond to people's needs by losing them in the red tape of poorly co-ordinated government programs. Intelligent and careful integration is necessary but it does not preclude flexibility in procedures, enforcement or service to the Canadian public.

We need an administrative structure that allows us to deliver services in an efficient manner and at a reasonable cost, taking into account both the financial restrictions facing us and our moral obligations toward the Canadian public. By rationalizing resources under the Human Resources Development banner we can and will achieve this goal.

As well, we need a structure that fosters partnerships with the provinces, the industrial sector, the labour movement, the academic community and community groups. We have made great progress toward this and we will go even further under the new act.

The model proposed here is similar to that in several provinces. Integration has already taken place in Quebec, New Brunswick and Newfoundland. Since we are integrating departments some members might wonder why we need a labour minister at all. I will explain that rationale.

We have had labour ministers throughout most of our history. It was the previous Tory government, which did not care much for the views of working Canadians, that eliminated the post. I am concerned the Reform will get the opportunity. The government believes that labour matters deserve special attention, and rightfully so.

The labour movement, labour-management relations, workplace conditions and equity for all workers are probably more important today than they have ever been in the past. For these reasons Bill C-96 provides for the appointment of a Minister of Labour. There is no separate bureaucracy or infrastructure, just a minister who can devote her time to the concerns of working Canadians.

The minister uses the services and facilities of the human resources department. This keeps costs and duplication down without depriving the ministers of the tools needed to deal with their responsibilities.

Last February the Prime Minister appointed the current Minister of Labour. Without waiting for the bill before us to pass he wanted to assure working Canadians that we were ready to deal with urgent and pressing matters affecting Canada's labour situation.

I will outline some initiatives already undertaken by the minister since last February. In the area of industrial relations the minister continues to firmly believe in a free and open collective bargaining system which places the onus on labour and management to be responsible for resolving their own disputes.

Where they are unable to do so, assistance is provided by the federal mediation and conciliation services of the labour branch at Labour Canada. The FMCS has had an astonishing track record, one that most people probably do not realize. Over 90 per cent of disputes referred to it are resolved without work stoppage.

Throughout the world our federal system is seen as a model of balance and effective labour legislation. To have competitive and productive workplaces we need effective labour-management relations. To assist employers and unions to build effective communication channels the FMCS has developed a preventive mediation program which has been well received by its clients.

The minister has undertaken two significant initiatives to ensure that our industrial relations system continues to set standards for the rest of the world. In recent years a number of labour disputes on the west coast have required the intervention of Parliament. In May the minister appointed an industrial inquiry commission to study industrial relations in longshoring, grain handling and other federally regulated industries at west coast ports. We expect to receive the commission's report later this month.

In June the minister established the Sims task force to conduct an independent review and recommend improvements to part I of the Canada Labour Code. The task force will identify options and make recommendations for legislative change with the view to improving collective bargaining, reducing conflict and facilitating labour-management co-operation, ensuring effective and efficient administration of the code and addressing the changing workplace and employment relationships.

The task force is consulting at this moment with labour and management groups that are subject to the code and is scheduled to report to the minister by December 15 of this year.

In the area of occupational health and safety, we are working to better harmonize our legislation and regulations with the provinces and the territories. In co-operation with them, we are trying to achieve greater uniformity throughout the country with regard to this issue. This is a win-win scenario for workers and employers. We all stand to gain through increased efficiency and savings resulting from a reduction in overlap.

To further this initiative we are conducting two pilot projects. One is aimed at harmonizing the provisions of the Canada occupational safety and health regulations dealing with diving and confined spaces, while the other involves the field of ergonomics.

I have already mentioned the review of part I of the Canada Labour Code, but we also are planning to revise parts II and III. In co-operation with our various partners we are seeking to modernize the code to better reflect the requirements of today's labour environment. Consultations are under way and labour and management have approached the revision process with energy and enthusiasm.

Like all government organizations, the labour branch is reviewing all of its activities and methods. This review will help us to pinpoint more ways to increase both the quality and cost effectiveness of the programs and services we deliver to Canadians.

The labour program also has international obligations. The adoption of the North American agreement on labour co-operation led to the establishment of a relatively new component within the program. The agreement is aimed at promoting co-operation and guaranteeing effective enforcement of labour legislation by Canada, the United States and Mexico. The labour branch opened a national office to implement the agreement in Canada not too long ago. This is welcome news.

I am providing members with a sampling of the many activities currently carried out by the labour branch. These examples show that restructuring has in no way impeded the work of the branch. In fact, it has energized it. Since integration, the labour branch is vital, invigorated, and better able than ever before to make a strong contribution to the lives of working Canadians. Its integration within the Department of Human Resources Development ensures a healthy continuity and an integrated use of the resources available to promote the economic and social well-being of Canadians. In my mind, integration makes a lot of sense. It is not just some arbitrary

measure, but a decision made necessary by the times in which we live.

The work of the labour branch cannot be done in isolation from considerations involving Canadians who are on unemployment insurance and employment programs. The challenge is to harmonize and co-ordinate all of our federal programs dealing with human resources. To meet that challenge we are guided by a logical and coherent vision.

The bill before us offers the best of both worlds. It entrenches the powers and responsibilities of a full fledged Minister of Labour while at the same time placing the labour branch within a broader context, producing definite benefits for the government and for all Canadians.

Without hesitation I ask my hon. colleagues to support this important piece of legislation, which confirms what already exists: a very good and solid labour department in this country, which has done an exceptionally good job up to now as far as the rest of the world and Canada are concerned.

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10:45 a.m.


Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to put a question to the hon. member, who is an expert in labour relations and who knows a great deal about the human resources issue. We all acknowledge the great expertise of the member in these sectors.

Earlier today, we heard a Bloc member claim that this bill would give new powers to the federal government, that it was a centralizing instrument used by the government, or some nonsense to that effect.

Could the hon. member tell us if it is true that the bill gives new powers to the federal government? Is it not a consolidation of existing laws on the sharing of powers between the two ministers responsible for human resources, namely the Minister of Human Resources Development and the Minister of Labour? Is it not true that the bill does not give any new power, does not centralize anything, and that, once again, the Bloc Quebecois' claims have little to do with reality?

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10:50 a.m.


Bob Nault Liberal Kenora—Rainy River, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for the question.

In the last couple of days I have had the opportunity to listen to the Bloc on this bill. I have to admit I am saddened that members opposite have continued to make suggestions to their constituents that are factually incorrect.

If we look at what the Department of Labour is doing, it is just the opposite of what is being said by the members of the Bloc Quebecois. Let me give an example. As I mentioned in my speech, under health and safety we are going to be devolving powers and co-operating with the provinces. We have already entered into an agreement with Quebec to harmonize the way we deal with health and safety as it relates to federal and provincial jurisdictions. In essence, we have done what the Bloc is arguing we have not done, which is to decentralize to a certain extent the powers of the federal government under labour to the provinces to deal with certain areas like health and safety.

I do not know why the members opposite continue to do this. Sooner or later someone in Quebec will start paying closer attention to what is going on in the House and start picking up the bills and reading them, only to find out that they are being misrepresented by these individual members across the way.

Anyone who has been around as long as you and I have been, Mr. Speaker, will know that most people pay very close attention to what takes place in their country as it relates to the laws. These laws we are passing, which the opposition continues to suggest go in a totally opposite direction-that they are new powers and we are going to be stepping all over the provinces-sooner or later will show that we are working very hard to co-operate and do just the opposite.

I want to give the Bloc a challenge in my final comments. I would like the members to change their approach of trying to get Quebecers not to like Canada. If Quebecers are to leave they should leave for other reasons than the fact that the federal government is not trying to do a good job. Quite frankly, that is the furthest from the truth I have ever seen.

Department Of Human Resources Development ActGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

It certainly would not be for me to debate with the hon. parliamentary secretary as to how long we have been here, but in light of the fact that a few days ago we marked the 30th anniversary of the members for Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke and Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, I submit that we have not been here all that long.

Department Of Human Resources Development ActGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.


Randy White Reform Fraser Valley West, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have listened to this debate now for a couple of days. I have heard how much things are going to change for the better in our social programs and so on. After almost three decades of overspending by Liberal and Conservative governments, we have amassed $565 billion in debt; that is 565 thousand million dollars. In the last two years this government has overspent its income by approximately $80 billion, adding to that debt.

The Canada pension plan has in it about two years' worth of payouts, about $40 billion, all invested in low yield provincial bonds. The fund, if pensioners were to be fully paid out, would have to have about $550 billion in it, which it does not. It is another liability over and above the $565 billion we owe in operating costs.

If the government is to look at social programming and improve the Canada pension plan, for instance, how will it do that with the burden of a $565 billion debt, a liability in the Canada pension plan and a deliberate plan of overspending? How will it happen without the government coming to the conclusion that something must change, perhaps even looking at premium increases and benefit reductions? Is that what the government will do? How will it get around being held accountable, like the last group that was over there?

Department Of Human Resources Development ActGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.


Bob Nault Liberal Kenora—Rainy River, ON

Mr. Speaker, since I know Reform Party members a little better than I know Bloc members, because I have to deal with them on a regular basis in my neighbourhood, I will tell the House what impresses and intrigues me the most about them. They came to the House with a particular focus and a promise they made to their constituents. I was in one of those ridings where they made that promise. They were going to be different. I frankly found that they were quite different. They were the most partisan group I have ever met in my life.

One of the questions posed to us during the last election campaign was why not become more like those Reformers, who are non-politicians, who will ask questions of substance. I will see if I can answer the question.

The member and his party have been spinning this scenario that the world is coming to an end in Canada and it is all going to fall apart unless we go as far to the right as we can, that everybody in Canada has to start paying massive user fees, including the seniors and the poor, because we cannot afford to tax anybody any more and our debt is so bad that we are going to sink under this big huge debt and some other country will have to bail us out.

We all know that is not true. I will try to explain this to the members across the way. I had the opportunity to sit on the committee that reviewed the pension plan with actuaries. Under the legislation we have to review this every five years. I spent some time looking at how we were to restructure it. During that time, with all the experts in front of us, never did one of them say this program would collapse under a particular problem of liability and having no money.

The problem with the individual across the way is he does not want to hear the truth about how the program works. These individuals across the way have no program or suggestions on how to run Canada. Their doom and gloom scenario, as with Klein and others, is to cut the government adrift, get rid of the government and let some right-wing business corporate elite look after it so they will not have to.

Department Of Human Resources Development ActGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.


Randy White Reform Fraser Valley West, BC

It is okay, be happy, you have your pension.

Department Of Human Resources Development ActGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.


Bob Nault Liberal Kenora—Rainy River, ON

Yes, I have my pension. Quite frankly, I am proud that I have earned it. I will be here for a long time before I get to collect it. At least I pay tax. A lot of the boys across the way do not pay any tax. There is an individual there from Ontario, our multi-millionaire friend, who does not pay any tax.

If this regional fringe party can articulate its vision of Canada and get higher than 10 per cent in the polls, then maybe we will start to look at some of its ideas. To date it is so far down that no one in the country is taking it seriously, including the people in my riding.

Department Of Human Resources Development ActGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.

The Speaker

It being 11 a.m., we will now proceed to Statements by Members.

Woodstock Memorial ForestStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


John Finlay Liberal Oxford, ON

Mr. Speaker, recently I attended a special event in my riding, the second annual memorial service held outdoors at the Woodstock Memorial Forest. Over 300 people attended.

This memorial forest was established by the city of Woodstock, the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority and a local funeral home. Twenty-three acres of conservation authority land has been set aside for the forest. The trees planted are chosen from original Carolinian species indigenous to our region. Each tree commemorates the life of a citizen who has died.

The Woodstock Memorial Forest was started in recognition of the depletion of the earth's forests. Trees provide shelter for wildlife, control soil erosion, provide shade, remove carbon dioxide and provide oxygen. The beauty and grace of these trees enhance our environment and stand as living memorials to the memory of our loved ones.

I suggest my colleagues encourage such forests in their ridings.

Remembrance DayStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Paul Mercier Bloc Blainville—Deux-Montagnes, QC

Mr. Speaker, tomorrow we will celebrate Remembrance Day. Over 100,000 young Canadians and Quebecers gave their lives during the two world conflicts, and hundreds more died in Korea and in various peacekeeping missions.

Such is the price that we have had to pay for of our strong belief in the values of democracy and peace. And it is because they also shared these values that our young soldiers fought all over the world.

We remember the sacrifices and the self-abnegation of those to whom we owe this legacy of freedom and democracy. Again, we want to pay tribute and express our gratitude to those who gave

their lives, as well as to those who were prepared to do so for such a noble cause.

Let us honour their memory.

Remembrance DayStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Jack Frazer Reform Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, tomorrow Canadians will stop to remember those who served and those who died in the world wars and the Korean war as well as the peacekeepers who have served on United Nations missions since 1947 and the many Canadian forces' members who over the years have given their lives in service to our country.

The spirit and sacrifice of these men and women have been dedicated to preserve the freedom and peace we cherish today. None gave their lives willingly yet all voluntarily put themselves in danger.

In remembering, let us be mindful of the political turmoil and circumstances which led to conflict and be attentive to our responsibility to learn and profit from that history. The wreathes laid at the National War Memorial and others across our nation must cause us to remember so that those lives were not given in vain.

As we pay tribute to the men and women of the Royal Canadian Navy, the Canadian Army, the Royal Canadian Air Force and the Merchant Marine, let us remember that without freedom there can be no enduring peace and without peace no enduring freedom.

Mrs. Hilda SimanaviciusStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Jesse Flis Liberal Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is with great pride that I rise today in the House of Commons to pay tribute to an outstanding member of my constituency of Parkdale-High Park.

Mrs. Hilda Simanavicius has recently returned from Lithuania where she was involved in a program to improve the management and administration facilities of a consulting service within this eastern European country. Mrs. Simanavicius' initiatives were in conjunction with the Canadian Executive Services Organization known as CESO and the Canadian Volunteer Advisers to Business.

This organization provides advisers to businesses in emerging economies in central and eastern Europe, often with the help of volunteer Canadian men and women who are enthusiastic about sharing their knowledge with others who are in need.

I would like to thank Mrs. Simanavicius and other Canadian volunteers from CESO who are working to improve economic markets and the quality of life of others around the world. Hers is a shining example of the goodwill and benevolence for which Canadians have come to be recognized.

Mr. Philip McKenzieStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Andy Scott Liberal Fredericton—York—Sunbury, NB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate Mr. Philip McKenzie, a constituent from my riding of Fredericton-York-Sunbury who was one of three young Canadians selected to attend the World Energy Congress in Tokyo a few weeks ago.

His paper entitled "Nuclear Energy: A Green Option" was selected to be presented at the Youth Energy Symposium. Philip is a student of the department of chemical engineering at the University of New Brunswick. It is heartening to see his hard work and commitment being internationally recognized.

The work of talented young individuals such as Philip McKenzie is leading Canada into the 21st century.

Once again I want to congratulate him on an outstanding accomplishment.

Alcan Cable Lapointe PlantStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Robert Bertrand Liberal Pontiac—Gatineau—Labelle, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to bring to the attention of the House that Alcan Cable's Lapointe plant in Jonquière, Quebec earned this year's Canada award for business excellence in the category manufacturing-quality, small business. The Lapointe plant, constructed in the 1970s, is one of seven Alcan Cable plants in North America.

In 1990, Alcan Cable made a commitment to quality by defining a new business mission, with the objective of becoming a world class manufacturer within four years. In their determination to meet that objective, the management and employees of the Lapointe plant spared no effort to indeed become an international class company. Alcan Cable's Lapointe plant in Jonquière is a shining example of the success any business can have if it sets its path resolutely toward quality.

Health CareStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Sharon Hayes Reform Port Moody—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, Canada's blood supply system is in a state of crisis.

Day after day, testimony before the Krever commission reveals a tale of bureaucratic bungling and government inaction that has compromised Canadians' health by exposing them to such dis-

eases as HIV, AIDS and hepatitis-C. Credibility and trust in our health care system has been severely compromised.

What has the government done to restore credibility to our blood system? The minister recently declared that our blood system is as safe as any other in the world, yet Canadians know it is not good enough.

Handing over another $3.3 million to the commission is not the answer. Doubling the budget of the Bureau of Biologics is not the answer. It was this bureau that originally was part of the tragic bungling.

The answer Canadians want is not more study, but decisive action and leadership now.

Canadian UnityStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Jack Iyerak Anawak Liberal Nunatsiaq, NT

Mr. Speaker, in late October the original voices of Canada spoke resoundingly: the Cree, the Inuit and the Montagnais. We are proud of who we are, what we have accomplished and what we can become.

At the unity rally in Montreal, northerners were there in support of the no forces. Aboriginal and non-aboriginal, we live in many different languages and cultures in the north, but we share many values and strengths. Our experience tells us this land is big and great enough for us all.

I urge the nation to acknowledge that the aboriginal people delivered when called on to support the country. We can and must be included in the changes that need to be made.

Together with open hearts, let us build an even greater nation from sea to sea to sea.