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House of Commons Hansard #271 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was jobs.

Topics

Royal Arms Of CanadaOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Reform

Jan Brown Reform Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, the debate surrounding the change to our flag was one of the most emotional, controversial and moving in Canadian history. It gave all Canadians an opportunity to participate in the development of the symbols of the country.

We are now told our new coat of arms is ready for distribution late this week. How did this happen in such a state of secrecy? I remind the Minister of Canadian Heritage the press release carried an embargo until 10 a.m., December 4, 1995.

Royal Arms Of CanadaOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Solicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member has asked a serious question. Although it is on short notice I will try to present her and the House with some information I just received.

I have in my hand a booklet entitled "Symbols of Canada", published by the Department of Canadian Heritage. On page 5, under the heading "Armorial Bearings", which I understand is another term for coat of arms, it states:

Adopted: By proclamation of King George V on November 21, 1921. On the advice of the Prime Minister of Canada, Her Majesty the Queen approved, on July 12, 1994, that the Royal Arms of Canada be augmented of a ribbon with the motto of the Order of Canada, desiderantes meliorem patriam-

-they desire a better country.

I hope my hon. friend also desires a better country.

Royal Arms Of CanadaOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Reform

Jan Brown Reform Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, of course I absolutely do want to see all of us build a better Canada, a better future. However, the issue here concerns the embargo until yesterday, December 4, 1995, and that part of my question was not addressed.

Further to that, if indeed the House of Commons represents a place for all Canadians to come and debate through our membership, I would like to know why we did not have a broad debate in the House of Commons to discuss this very basic simple issue.

Royal Arms Of CanadaOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Solicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, as I understand it-I will be corrected if I am wrong-this booklet I have was distributed to all members of Parliament and to the public. It was distributed some time ago. It is hardly a secret.

I want to add that as far as I am aware, while there has been a debate and vote in the House on the Canadian flag and a debate and vote in the House on our national anthem, the matter of the armorial bearings of Canada has been something for decision of Her Majesty the Queen of Canada and not for the House of Commons. So I see nothing to criticize this government over the actions of Her Majesty the Queen.

CustomsOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Liberal

Maria Minna Liberal Beaches—Woodbine, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of National Revenue.

Seniors have come into my office complaining about the long line-ups at customs as they return home for the holidays. By the time they reach customs they are quite tired from their flights. Can the minister tell the House what he is doing to ensure that seniors and other travellers can move through customs without having to stand in long line-ups?

CustomsOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Victoria B.C.

Liberal

David Anderson LiberalMinister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to report that Canada Customs is fully prepared to provide extra services at the border during this holiday season. There is an increase in traffic at this time. A large proportion of the 110 million people who come into Canada come at that time.

Our job is to provide, through extra shifts, part-time workers, and some student customs officers, the best possible service at this time. In addition, this year we will also have at our busiest airports special client service representatives to assist those who may be in trouble.

I think we should recognize that the customs service of Canada is probably the best in the world. They work very hard and long hours during the holiday season protecting this country against illegal weapons, drugs, and other such things. I hope the House will recognize the important work they do, particularly at this time of year.

Unemployment InsuranceOral Question Period

3 p.m.

NDP

Chris Axworthy NDP Saskatoon—Clark's Crossing, SK

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Human Resources Development.

The last government walked away from the unemployment insurance fund and this government has done nothing to bring itself closer. Would the minister tell us why he thinks he has the moral authority to take another $1 billion out of the pockets of unemployed Canadians on top of the $7 billion he took out last year to use to pay down the deficit, which those people made no contribution in creating?

Unemployment InsuranceOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Winnipeg South Centre Manitoba

Liberal

Lloyd Axworthy LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development and Minister of Western Economic Diversification

Mr. Speaker, we have been through this territory several times, but I would be quite happy to try to repeat it for the understanding of the hon. member.

First, the proposed changes are designed specifically to help create jobs in this country. A large part of that amount goes to re-employment measures, which will enable people to get back to work. The remaining portion goes to help establish a fund to stabilize the premiums.

The hon. member was in this House during the 1990s. He knew what happened when the previous government had to raise the premiums by 95 cents over a period of two years. It threw the market into total havoc. It drove down the economy. It put an extra burden on workers. It destroyed jobs.

One thing about us compared to New Democrats is that we learn from history and we are not going to repeat that mistake again.

Unemployment InsuranceOral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Speaker

Colleagues, this would bring to a close the question period.

Unemployment InsuranceThe Royal Assent

3:05 p.m.

The Speaker

Order. I have the honour to inform the House that a communication has been received as follows:

Government House Ottawa

December 5, 1995

Mr. Speaker

I have the honour to inform you that the Honourable John Charles Major, Puisne Judge of the Supreme Court of Canada, in his capacity as Deputy Governor General, will proceed to the Senate chamber today, the 5th day of December 1995, at 4.55 p.m., for the purpose of giving royal assent to certain bills.

Your sincerely,

Anthony P. Smyth, Deputy Secretary, Policy, Program and Protocol

The House resumed consideration of the motion.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:05 p.m.

The Speaker

My colleague, I am informed that you have two minutes remaining in your speech. This will be followed by a five-minute question and comment period. I understand you are sharing your time with another hon. member. Is that correct?

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, that is correct.

My wife is often astonished at how quickly and how frequently the schedule changes for a parliamentarian. This is an example of that. When I rose to speak an hour ago I said I would speaking for the full 20 minutes and now it is 10 minutes. I happy to comply and adjust my schedule again.

Before question period I was saying that the bill was a Robin Hood response to the problem we have with the UI system. In 1983 the UI system cost $9 billion to employers and employees across Canada. Today it costs $17 billion. The growth in the cost of this program has represented a tax on jobs in Canada and we have to deal with it.

People in my riding tell me that it has been misused in many ways and it is time to deal with it. But how do we deal with it? And why am I calling it a Robin Hood response? Because we are dealing with this problem of reducing the cost of the program by reducing benefits for the well off who have been breaking the system for a while and increasing benefits to the poor. The low-income people who have dependants will get up to 80 per cent, rather than 55 per cent of their previous income under this system. So it is an important step forward and we are maintaining the program as much as possible in a very solid way for those in the middle. That is a very important point.

Finally, I want to mention the issue of involuntary part-time workers. I have been involved in the food bank movement in the Halifax area, as people in my riding would know. One thing we always complained about for low-income people is the growing number of people who have to work part time because they could not find full-time work. One reason for that has been the incentive provided in part by the UI system to employers to only hire part-time workers, who would work less than 15 hours a week so they would not have to pay these UI benefits, for example.

By moving to an hourly based system where every hour counts and every hour has premiums paid on it, it means that people who are working part time will qualify for UI and the incentive for employers to hire only part time will no longer be there. These are important and positive points about this employment insurance program.

I urge all members of the House to vote against this Bloc motion.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:10 p.m.

Bloc

Osvaldo Nunez Bloc Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened very carefully to the speech by the member for Halifax West. I was surprised, because he is from one of the Atlantic provinces, that he had no criticism of the unemployment insurance reform. His is one of the regions that will be affected most in Canada following the unemployment insurance reform. The member sees only positive effects, but his region will surely suffer negative and disastrous consequences.

I come from Latin America, and sometimes representatives of the International Monetary Fund, who travel throughout Latin America, tell governments that they must make cuts, reduce salaries or terminate unemployment insurance or social security programs. From what we see here in Canada, it looks like policy is being dictated by the International Monetary Fund or the OECD.

I would like to know the member's opinion. What does he think of the negative consequences of the system set up by the Minister

of Human Resources Development for the Atlantic region, which will be hit just as hard as Quebec and other regions in Canada?

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, they are incredible. The Bloc members are unable to see the benefits of these changes to the system. They fail to see the problems with the old unemployment insurance system.

Yes, I come from one of the Atlantic provinces. But, in these provinces, in my region, many people recognize that the old unemployment insurance program needed to be changed, renewed.

The hon. member speaks about my region being hard hit by these changes. As a matter of fact I think the member should examine the proposals a little more carefully and see exactly what is happening. The fact of the matter is that 45,000 more seasonal workers in Atlantic Canada will have access to employment insurance because of these changes.

Yes, there will be a reduction in the overall amount being spent, but we are focusing it much better toward the creation of employment, toward employment assistance programs, toward training programs, toward important things that are required to move this system away from unemployment insurance to insurance of employment, which is what it is all about.

In the year 1997-98 there will be a total net decrease of about six per cent. By the year 2001 the total decrease in the whole impact of the program will be about seven per cent. Considering that the cost of the program has gone from $9 billion 12 years ago to $17 billion today, it should not be surprising that we need to have some changes to this program. The fact that the total impact over the next five or six years will only be seven per cent total for this region should tell the hon. member something. We have done this by making sure that those who need it the most still have it. This means it will work well in Atlantic Canada.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:10 p.m.

Reform

Herb Grubel Reform Capilano—Howe Sound, BC

Mr. Speaker, studies have shown that the utilization of unemployment insurance benefits is very hard to forecast. The reason is that institutions tend to exploit the opportunities. For example, we know institutions developed in Atlantic Canada that allowed workers to work for exactly 12 weeks in order to qualify for benefits and then the next batch came in to work for 12 weeks. This is how the cost increased.

I wonder whether the Department of Human Resources Development has looked at the possibility of similar institutional developments coming forward in the context of now making part-time workers eligible.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am aware that the department has examined many aspects of the bill. There will also be an ongoing monitoring process by the Employment Insurance Commission.

The Reform Party has been saying that we should make it much more like an ordinary insurance system, maybe even make it a totally privatized system. This shows me that Reform Party members are not responsive to the concerns of Atlantic Canada, that they do not care one iota, not one ounce, not even a smidgen about the people in Atlantic Canada. Otherwise they would not hold that position.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:15 p.m.

Hull—Aylmer Québec

Liberal

Marcel Massé LiberalPresident of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada

Mr. Speaker, what counts for Canadians is jobs, and that is what counts for the government as well. This is also the fundamental objective of the bill on employment insurance, which the opposition motion is so wrongly criticizing.

The bill does more than protect the incomes of the unemployed. It is based on the principle that we must more actively help people find work. And it is based on the requirements of a modern economy. Another question, however, is central to the debate. The employment insurance bill announces a completely new way to view the role of the provinces in the labour market. This is one indication of this government's flexibility in past matters and its continued flexibility in federal-provincial matters.

The issues on creating and maintaining jobs had to be gone at in greater depth. A serious look had to be taken at ways of combining our efforts with those of the provinces. This means understanding jurisdictional problems and finding solutions.

We take into account the fact that the provinces are responsible for education and job training. We accept the point of view held by many in Quebec and elsewhere that the federal government should not get involved in job training. We acknowledge that the federal government should not get involved in activities that risk changing provincial priorities in the area of job training.

Last Friday the Minister of Human Resources Development restated that commitment. He went further. He outlined how the new employment benefits under employment insurance would assist in getting Canadians back to work. Needless to say, they will be much more respectful of provincial responsibilities in this area.

Quebec provides an excellent example of this sort of active approach: collective organizations and partnerships such as the Société québécoise de développement de la main-d'oeuvre.

The employment insurance bill provides for a new balance to federalism. This is what we see in employment benefits. It is based on an answer to a very important question: Would a new set of roles and arrangements between the federal and provincial governments do a better job of getting Canadians back to work and would it do that more efficiently?

The answer to this question is yes. And now is the time to say yes. Quebec is the very place this answer has to be given. We will no longer be buying training courses from public or private institutions. We will withdraw from apprenticeship, work-study and training programs at the workplace. These measures are in keeping with the consensus in Quebec.

However, while the federal government no longer intends to play a role in manpower training, it does intend to continue its role in helping the unemployed return to work. The new employment benefits will represent an investment in people. We want to spend this money so effectively that our clients will never need us again. We want to spend this money on, devote it to activities that will ensure the best results.

Wage subsidies, for example, will help employment insurance clients find work, and we are talking here primarily about people such as those with a disability, who have a harder time of it.

Income supplements will help employment insurance clients find work; most of these people may need short term financial assistance.

Job creation partnerships will help create new jobs for employment insurance clients.

The five measures we have just mentioned are not programs; rather, they outline the types of needs on which we have decided to focus our efforts.

We are reaching out to Quebec and we are ready to work with its employment development programs and tools.

Through the strategic initiatives program, the federal government already supports two Quebec programs that should allow all of Canada to learn important lessons on the labour market. Federal support for PWA will help over 25,000 families throughout Quebec benefit from this important program every year.

As my hon. colleagues may know, PWA provides wage assistance to low income families. Parents benefit, of course, but so do tens of thousands of children, who can then grow up in families who are proud of their work.

The results will be clients who are better off with a simple process. That is a basic reason why we are insisting our programs be harmonized with provincial ones.

By reinvesting insurance savings, we will spend more on helping these Canadians. Expenditures will rise from $1.9 billion to $2.7 billion. This money will be spent on concrete measures that will make it possible for Quebecers and Canadians to find work.

Allow me, Mr. Speaker, to sum up these various arguments. Our government has said that it would withdraw from job training, and it is. We are going to focus our efforts on effective measures that have a tangible impact. We have made a commitment to harmonize efforts and to strike partnerships so that we can provide real benefits for our clients and for the future of employment insurance.

As part of this employment insurance proposal, we invite the provincial governments to collaborate with us in designing and distributing employment benefits.

I was therefore delighted to see that the Quebec government has taken an important step toward an agreement. When the Quebec National Assembly voted in favour of the Liberal amendment urging it to discuss with the federal government, it made a decision that gives us some hope. It took a step that should eventually improve the choices offered the unemployed throughout Quebec.

We are confident that our commitment to fully respect provincial jurisdiction over education and training is a step in this process. We feel that our commitment to harmonize our activities with those of the provinces is another.

The government has always been committed to flexible federalism and to flexible approaches on federal-provincial issues such as working together to help the unemployed.

Everyone will benefit from this type of collaboration.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

Bloc

Osvaldo Nunez Bloc Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, while the minister said in his opening remarks his government's main concern was with jobs, I can tell you that this government's biggest failure is precisely in that area, in spite of the fact that it got elected on a platform of "Jobs, jobs, jobs".

These jobs are nowhere to be seen in Canada, let alone in Quebec. Unemployment is running as high as 10 per cent in Canada. What the minister is suggesting today does not reflect reality.

He also said that the federal government plans to withdraw from occupational training, but at the same time, it is putting forward unemployment action measures to try to interfere, once again, in areas of provincial jurisdiction, because education and occupational training come under provincial jurisdiction.

I must say that I agree with the resolution passed by the Quebec National Assembly saying that the Government of Quebec is prepared to undertake negotiations with the federal government, provided that the federal government completely withdraw from occupational training.

Does the minister agree with the federal government's complete withdrawal from the area of occupational training?

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:25 p.m.

Liberal

Marcel Massé Liberal Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, the first question or comment made by the hon. member, to the effect that there has been no job creation, is just not factual.

The fact of the matter is that, since we took office, 509,000 new jobs were created in Canada. I am quoting Statistics Canada figures. More than 119,000 new jobs were created in Quebec. That is my answer to the first question.

When we look at the facts, we can seen that jobs, in fact more than half a million new jobs, have been created in the economy. Our economic and job creation policies work.

Second, regarding occupational training, we must make a distinction between two things. Quebec claims jurisdiction in the matter because education is a provincial jurisdiction. This means that we must withdraw from all training courses coming under their jurisdiction. But there is another jurisdiction involved which is a federal jurisdiction and, in fact, an exclusive federal jurisdiction. And that is unemployment insurance.

When we draw money from the UI fund to reduce unemployment, we are acting like any responsible person would in spending adequately the funds allocated to them; that is our jurisdiction. We are trying to limit future UI expenditures and to stimulate employment.

A measure designed, for example, to supplement a person's income to allow this person to find a job or to subsidize his company so that he can have a job clearly does not pertain to training. It is an employment measure coming fully under federal jurisdiction and involving the UI fund, over which the federal government has exclusive responsibility.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:25 p.m.

Reform

Dale Johnston Reform Wetaskiwin, AB

Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to the member who spoke about the great amount of jobs that had been created since the Liberal government took over. I beg to differ with him. If jobs have been created, it certainly has not been as a result of the federal government. Any jobs that have been created have been done through the private sector.

When will the government realize that governments do not create jobs? The best thing that governments have been able to create over the last many years is debt. If job creation programs instigated by parliaments were successful, everybody in Canada would have at least two jobs.

The other day I asked the Minister of Human Resources Development about changes in the delivery of the training programs. He said that we really should be transferring resources to the people, to the private sector and to communities. I would certainly like to see that. I applaud the minister for even thinking about transferring training to the private sector. That is a great leap in attitude for the Liberal government. I would like to see that come about.

In the private sector at least the training would be job specific. It would be specific to the marketplace. The marketplace would have some say in what sort of training should take place rather than having training programs that are supported for example under section 25 of the Unemployment Insurance Act, whereby moneys are allocated to very questionable job training prospects. When I ask about those specific projects that take place in our area, because I would like to have some feedback as to what kinds of permanent jobs have been created and how many people have become employed as a result of those projects, I get very little response. As a matter of fact, I am waiting to get some information as to how successful or unsuccessful those programs are.

I believe the Bloc has come up with a good motion. However, I do not believe it is specific to Quebec. We are talking about Canada. Of course the Bloc oftentimes only speaks about the province of Quebec. This is certainly relevant in my province of Alberta, as it is in la belle province. The Bloc would have had our support if the motion had not been strictly specific to Quebec.

The auditor general questioned the effectiveness of this program. This is not simply an idea the Reform Party has come up with or the Bloc has come up with. The auditor general stated in his report: "In studying programs that pumped about $4 billion into regional development over eight years, administrators often just added up the number of jobs the projects they funded were supposed to create and concluded that the programs had created those jobs". That is hardly the way to assess the effectiveness of the program.

There should be more accountability with respect to these programs.

It is noteworthy that there will be a rebate to people who are part-time employees. If they do not earn more than $2,000 their contributions will be refunded. However, the employee's contribution will not be refunded to the employee. That will have the reverse effect of what the Liberal government says will be a job incentive program. Anything that taxes the people who employ people will have a negative effect on the number of people who are employed. We should be doing more to remove payroll taxes. We should not be putting more roadblocks in the way of business, industry, and private enterprise. We should give them more of a break to ensure they become successful.

My dad used to say that when you work for somebody you have to make sure you make them a dollar or they could not possibly afford to pay you. That is something that may have escaped hon. members opposite.

Having looked at this motion, I move, seconded by the hon. member for Yorkton-Melville,

That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after "sector".

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

The Speaker

I have looked at the amendment. Because it is the deletion of words I am going to accept it.

Resuming debate, the hon. member for Pierrefonds-Dollard.

Resuming debate. The hon. member for Pierrefonds-Dollard has the floor. I understand you will be sharing your time with another member.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

Bernard Patry Liberal Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

Mr. Speaker, I think that Bill C-111, introduced in the House last Friday by the Minister of Human Resources Development, is one of the most modern pieces of legislation introduced by this government.

As Prime Minister Jean Chrétien said, the proposed reform aims to help jobless Canadians to rejoin the workforce as quickly as possible, and to regain the dignity associated with working.

Employment insurance is designed to promote the development of the Canadian workforce, as well as economic growth.

To that end, the new employment insurance program proposes new measures geared to the needs of individuals and communities.

It also seeks to promote partnership and co-operation with the provinces, with the sole purpose of improving the well-being of Canadian workers.

In co-operation with the provinces, and in the context of a new vision and a new approach, we want to provide Canadian workers with the tools and the opportunities that will help them find their niche in the workforce. Along with the provinces, the private sector and community organizations, we want these workers to have jobs that will make our country competitive on the international markets.

Governments must get together to meet the challenges of the new economy and provide workers with the necessary skills and knowledge.

Employment insurance proposes a system that is better suited to the needs of those who want to find work in the modern labour market. For example, I can think of the workers who want to get training, so that they can meet the new labour market requirements, including in the professional and industrial sectors, to ensure their well-being and also contribute to the country's economic growth. Once fully implemented, the proposed reform will create between 100,000 and 150,000 jobs every year, including 40,000 in Quebec.

Employment insurance is a much more efficient program, because it recognizes the work effort, while also helping the unemployed. The proposed changes are fair to all Canadian workers, including those who hold part-time jobs.

This program is indeed more efficient. Once fully implemented, it will result in savings of two billion dollars, without depriving any Canadian of his or her rights. Out of that amount, $800 million will be reinvested in the employment benefit program. Adding to that amount the current budget of $1.9 billion for employment benefits, we get a total of $2.7 billion to be allocated to employment assistance each year. This is a unique and golden opportunity for those provinces interested in reaching agreements with the federal government to look after their workforce in a proactive fashion.

It was also our intention to ensure that Canadians living in high unemployment areas could take advantage of employment incentive measures in order to work more hours in a year. We have therefore established a $300 million transition job fund over three years, to fund independent growth-related employment in areas of higher unemployment.

In conjunction with our partners, we wish to encourage employers to create new jobs and to help the unemployed to return to the work force as quickly as possible.

Employment benefits are practical and efficient tools which assist those attempting to return to the work force with practical, and in some cases personalized, measures.

Since training is a provincial responsibility, and it is the federal government's intention to withdraw from that sector under the new

legislation, skill development loans and grants will be given only after formal consent by the province concerned.

Employment benefits were designed to encourage personal initiative, to encourage people to make appropriate job search choices. There are management systems to help recipients plan their return to the work force in a methodical way. They will need to commit to following that plan, and there will be follow-up mechanisms.

We have sought to make wage benefits and all employment and re-employment measures as flexible as possible. All levels of government acknowledge the necessity of bringing their labour market-related roles in line with each other; duplication of effort, services and expenditures must be avoided, and initiatives must be co-ordinated. A province wishing to administer a service itself, or to substitute another program which would yield the same results, will be able to do so. The federal government is determined to act in as open a manner as possible, within the confines of its mandate under the national Constitution.

What will Quebec get out of this new legislative package? Respect of our jurisdictions, greater flexibility in human resource management, new opportunities for agreements, and the continuation of some of the many agreements already in place between us relating to employment insurance and human resources development.

To prevent overlapping initiatives and programs, we want to sit down with Quebec and see how we can focus our efforts in the area of manpower training. Parochial squabbles do Canadians a disservice and are counterproductive. We are here to serve all Canadians and that should be the only rationale for what we do.

If the province of Quebec already has a program, we are quite willing to let Quebec manage and determine the basic orientation of this program. We want to avoid duplication at all costs. It is too expensive, creates bureaucratic problems and prevents us from understanding the needs of workers and employers.

We will try to set up formal and specific agreements with the provinces. In each case, we will ask what instruments, programs and employment services should be designed and managed locally. This will be done keeping efficiency in mind. We must give each individual the tools he needs to get back on the labour market.

This means that on the basis of such agreements, Quebec will be able to assume responsibility for delivering an even larger number of projects, programs and services to its workers.

As Prime Minister Jean Chrétien announced a few days ago, the federal government will withdraw from manpower training activities. We will no longer purchase training courses from provincial institutions. We will withdraw from apprenticeship training, co-operative education programs and on-the-job training.

These measures must be implemented as soon as possible. We have provided for a transition period of up to three years to give the provinces and institutions time to adjust.

Since 1966, we have concluded agreements with Quebec as we have with other provinces in this country, and this proves that we are able to work in harmony to promote the well being of our human resources, with due consideration for the priorities of the province.

The employment insurance bill is a starting point for discussions with the provinces. These discussions may lead to various agreements depending on the particular needs of the provinces, their economic situation and the needs and circumstances of local labour markets. It is up to us to sit down together at the negotiating table and proceed with our discussions while considering our workers, the jobs they need and the economic development of all regions in our country.

In some cases, for example, a provincial government could manage federal employment measures or could use its own programs, rather than implement the proposed federal measures. Similarly, we could combine federal and provincial programs along with other programs from the private sector and the community.

These programs could be administered by the private sector, a local or provincial organization or a consortium. The employment benefits and services proposed in Bill C-111 are based on proven job creation practices.

Experience tells us that helping claimants set up a business is an effective way to return people to work. Since April 1994, 34,000 Canadians have set up businesses using this method. Seventy per cent of them were still active 18 months later. They create an average of 1.1 jobs.

A quick example, before I conclude. In February 1995, Dominique Grenier of Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts started a specialized business in software for people with a disability.

After four years of temporary jobs, he saw self-employment assistance as a way of getting a job. After only ten months, his business is expanding. Interest in his products, which help people cope with their environment, continues to grow. Next year, he intends to hire at least one person, and perhaps two. Here is what he says: "I would not have been able to carry this project out had it not been for the help I received from the Department of Human Resources Development. This sort of program is vital for anyone wanting to start a business".

In the interest of our fellow citizens, this bill deserves our support. It is centred on a single and vital objective: jobs that give Canadians, communities and regions real hope for the future.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.

Liberal

Alex Shepherd Liberal Durham, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to the member's speech. I know he is very interested in his riding and I have heard him many times express his concern about the issue of employment in the province of Quebec. I recently had the opportunity to read a report by the Quebec Manufacturers' Association, who said that employment conditions and problems of labour and employability within Quebec were very serious. I would like to get the views of the member.

I understand unemployment insurance benefits in Canada are some of the highest in the western world. Many people feel that because these benefits are inordinately high compared to countries we compete with in international trade, it has created a lower productivity. In view of that, a number of people feel that productivity in Canada has been declining over the last ten years and no less so in Quebec.

A very positive aspect of this legislation would be to increase labour productivity, increase the attractiveness of Canada and of Quebec as a competitive place in which to do business. What we are really looking at is a long-term commitment to create a great number of jobs within that province.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.

Liberal

Bernard Patry Liberal Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

Mr. Speaker, I wish to thank my Liberal colleague for his question. This new employment insurance reform as proposed by the Minister of Human Resources Development will help us increase productivity in Quebec and across Canada.

There are several very interesting points in this reform; there are the responsibilities we will give to all job seekers. There will be wage subsidies and earnings supplements. I already mentioned self-employment assistance. There will also be partnerships with the provinces, municipalities, and the companies themselves to put people back to work.

I think that this is the most important. There will also be social incentives. Basing the reform on the number of hours of work and on earnings will greatly benefit the Canadian economy. There are inequities in the existing Unemployment Insurance Act in that some people can qualify for UI after working 15 hours a week for 12 weeks, while others who work 14 hours a week in part time jobs, perhaps for several years, have no chance of receiving UI benefits.

This bill will eliminate some inequities. In the case of lower income people, namely those working part time, some 500,000 of them will now be eligible for UI benefits should they need them-although I hope they will keep their jobs for as long as possible.