This week, I changed much of the tech behind this site. If you see anything that looks like a bug, please let me know!

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

Unemployment Insurance ReformOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

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

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

With his reforms, the minister has taken the first step towards establishing an employment insurance system that discriminates against seasonal workers, whose benefits will be reduced depending on the number of weeks they were on unemployment insurance in the past.

Will the minister acknowledge that this is a complete contradiction of the recommendations of his task force on seasonal employment and of his own commitments, in that he is creating a two-tier system in which seasonal workers will be treated like second class unemployed workers?

Unemployment Insurance ReformOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Winnipeg South Centre Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, first we should put this matter in context. Just

over a decade ago about 15 per cent of UI claimants were those who used the system on a regular basis. Today that number is well over 40 per cent. There has been an incredible expansion or explosion. That was one of the reasons the cost of the system had gone from $8 billion to $17 billion when we inherited it in 1993.

As the hon. member should know, the system was no longer being used to assist people who are unemployed or to enable people to get back to work. It was being used increasingly as a form of supplement to wage packages by a wide variety of industries.

A very strong recommendation came out of the public hearings that were held. The seasonal workers report established that it did not agree with the notion of a two-tier system. It talked about a graduated response that would apply the principles of experience rating. As with any insurance policy, a different premium level is applied the more we use it. That is the kind of principle we have applied here.

It is a very modest one. It is there to provide a certain deterrent to increased use. It is not discriminatory. It is simply to recognize and evaluate the very serious cost of the program as a result of the incredible expansion in use over the past 10 years.

Unemployment Insurance ReformOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, seasonal workers are honest users of the system and are only guilty of supporting the seasonal economy in the regions.

Will the minister acknowledge that regions whose economy is largely based on forestry, the fisheries and tourism, as is the case in eastern Quebec and eastern Canada, will be among the principal victims of his reforms and that they will become second-class regions with second-class unemployed workers?

Unemployment Insurance ReformOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Winnipeg South Centre Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, it is unfortunate that the hon. member did not listen to the previous answer.

However, a quarter of a million workers in seasonal industries will be able to receive benefits for a longer period of time. If we add up the actual dollars, it will be more dollars because of the hours based system. The shift to the hours based system means that for the first time full credit or full value is given for the full work they do. That is what workers want. They want to be given full credit for the amount of time put in and not have a bunch of artificial formulas applied to them.

That is what we have done. Every dollar and every hour now count toward credit in the new employment insurance system.

Royal Arms Of CanadaOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Reform

Chuck Strahl Reform Fraser Valley East, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Solicitor General of Canada issued a press release today detailing proposed changes to the coat of arms. We spent the morning trying to figure out what exactly he was talking about. I must say that it reads like something out of a LeCarré novel.

The Prime Minister's office does not know anything about the change. The Liberal whip's office said it must be a mistake. The Privy Council office seems to be completely in the dark.

We would like to know what all the secrecy is about. Why is this change being introduced now? Why does not anyone on that side of the House seem to know anything about it?

Royal Arms Of CanadaOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Laval West Québec

Liberal

Michel Dupuy LiberalMinister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, changes in the coat of arms are not unusual. They have taken place over the years. We witness now, somewhat belatedly, another change.

If the member wants to make a great show of it, I would suggest he go outside and ride on the back of the unicorn.

Royal Arms Of CanadaOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Reform

Chuck Strahl Reform Fraser Valley East, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is always a pleasure to follow such a class act as this low life minister.

Royal Arms Of CanadaOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh. Oh.

Royal Arms Of CanadaOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

The Speaker

Colleagues, as much as possible we should refrain from personal attacks. I ask all hon. members to be very judicious in their choice of words.

I return to the hon. member for Fraser Valley East and ask him to put his question.

Royal Arms Of CanadaOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Reform

Chuck Strahl Reform Fraser Valley East, BC

Mr. Speaker, the government's arrogance typified in that answer seems to know no bounds. First it uses the old Mulroney tactics of ramming through constitutional vetoes and distinct society status when the Canadian people have not been consulted. Now it wants to change the Canadian Coat of Arms, waiting for a convenient moment when it thinks it can sneak it through Parliament past our eyes.

Why is the government now sneaking through these changes to the Canadian Coat of Arms and why is it changing the fundamental symbols of the country at a time when we are trying to keep it tied together?

Royal Arms Of CanadaOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Laval West Québec

Liberal

Michel Dupuy LiberalMinister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, I explained these changes were made in 1987. We are not currently doing anything. We are printing booklets giving the symbols of Canada all across Canada.

One reason, as I understand it, the coat of arms was changed in 1987 was to add "to build a better country". If this is irrelevant today, I profoundly disagree. Our colleagues should work for a better country, but they do not.

Unemployment Insurance ReformOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Bloc

Antoine Dubé Bloc Lévis, QC

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

As we know now, the minister's reforms will triple the number of hours required to be eligible for unemployment insurance for the first time, from 300 to 910 hours. In so doing, the minister penalizes thousands of young people who are trying very hard to get into the labour market as well as thousands of women who want to go back to work, because they will need more than six months of full time work to qualify.

Will the minister admit that all workers who lose their jobs and apply for unemployment insurance for the first time after having worked less than 18 hours a week for one year, will not be eligible for benefits, even if they paid premiums during that time?

Unemployment Insurance ReformOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Winnipeg South Centre Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, it is very interesting that the question cited as reference the report of seasonal workers. That same report recommended strongly that there be stronger eligibility requirements for young people because it was noticed that many young people were simply using a minimum amount of work to get into the system and therefore becoming dependent on cycles year after year.

Our response has been very clearly twofold. First, we have shifted, as the hon. member should know, to a much stronger series of measures to help people, including young people, get back in the job market quickly and effectively.

Second, we have increased our budget for youth employment by 15 per cent this year. In the first year of operation of a youth internship we already have 25,000 young people working in business to make that transition. Our belief is to use positive, active measures to help our young people get into the workforce.

Furthermore, there is one important thing the hon member should know but does not. We are extending those active measures to people who have paid into the new employment insurance system for a period of three years. All those employment measures are available even to those who have exhausted their claims. They will now have the benefit of our employment measures.

Unemployment Insurance ReformOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Antoine Dubé Bloc Lévis, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is really too bad that the Minister of Human Resources Development considers unemployment insurance as a drug.

I would like to ask a question from a different perspective. Does the minister agree that individuals who work less than 490 hours annually will never be eligible for unemployment insurance although they have to pay premiums, which has not been the case so far?

Unemployment Insurance ReformOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Winnipeg South Centre Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member has totally and completely misunderstood the major fundamental thrust.

This has been debated for many years. We have finally said the old system which purely provided benefits was not sufficient to help people get back to work. We have shifted those resources into effective measures of employment, things like the self-employment measure, things like the development of a wage supplement to provide for small business.

We are using those measures to help people get back to work, to make up those hours because we happen to believe that everyone would rather work than simply stay on benefits. We are now giving them the means to achieve that goal.

Aboriginal YouthOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Bethel Liberal Edmonton East, AB

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Secretary of State for Training and Youth.

At an aboriginal youth forum I recently held in Edmonton East one of the concerns expressed was the high rate of unemployment among aboriginal youth. Participants felt it was crucial to nurture and develop the talent of our aboriginal youth.

What initiatives has the Department of Human Resources Development taken to assist urban aboriginal youth successfully enter the workplace?

Aboriginal YouthOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Western Arctic Northwest Territories

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, the government is committed to helping aboriginal youth join the workforce successfully. We are actively assisting them to help gain valuable work experience.

On October 16 Human Resources Development Canada announced the latest project, a series of 16 First Nations youth service projects. The Assembly of First Nations will work in partnership

with Youth Service Canada HRD to develop youth service projects which meet the needs of these aboriginal youth.

This initiative will have a total of 240 participants and will cost approximately $2 million.

Royal Arms Of CanadaOral Question Period

December 5th, 1995 / 2:50 p.m.

Reform

Preston Manning Reform Calgary Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, we have a rather curious turn of events here today.

Earlier last week the government in introducing this distinct society motion said it attached great importance to symbolism, even symbolic statements.

Now we have a proposed change in the Canadian coat of arms, a Canadian symbol, and the heritage minister who is supposed to be the guardian of these things dismisses it as inconsequential.

To whom does he believe this Canadian symbol belongs, to the sovereign, to the government, to some Liberal backbencher or to the people of Canada?

Royal Arms Of CanadaOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Laval West Québec

Liberal

Michel Dupuy LiberalMinister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, it certainly belongs to the people of Canada, all of us, but particular to those who believe in what is written on the coat of arms: "To build a better country".

I hope the Reform Party believes in it and will support the new coat of arms.

Royal Arms Of CanadaOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Reform

Preston Manning Reform Calgary Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, if it is true what the minister says, that the coat of arms belongs to the people of Canada and he is committed to building a better country, why are the people of Canada not consulted and involved in changes to the Canadian coat of arms?

Royal Arms Of CanadaOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Laval West Québec

Liberal

Michel Dupuy LiberalMinister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, the people responsible for the coat of arms are the people of heraldic authority of Canada under the jurisdiction of the governor general.

That is the way the coat of arms is changed. It has been approved by the Queen. If, as I said earlier, my colleague wants to trigger a nationwide debate on the subject of the change, he would be welcome to it.

VetoOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Pierrette Venne Bloc Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Minister of Justice stated that the so-called veto his government is proposing to Quebec in response to the referendum commitments made by the Prime Minister belongs to Quebecers and not to the National Assembly.

My question is directed to the Minister of Justice. Considering what he said yesterday, will the minister confirm that the so-called veto in Bill C-110 does not in any way belong to the government of Quebec or the National Assembly?

VetoOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, Bill C-110 clearly says that before the Canadian government authorizes an amendment to the Constitution, it will need the consent of a majority of the provinces that includes Ontario, Quebec, the Atlantic provinces and the Western provinces. We said clearly in this bill that what we need is the consent of the provinces.

VetoOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Bloc

Pierrette Venne Bloc Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, does the Minister of Justice agree that the wording of Bill C-110 is such that the federal government is free to circumvent the Quebec National Assembly and, for instance, call a federal referendum in Quebec?

VetoOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, the important thing to bear in mind is nothing in Bill C-110 changes the formula for amending the Constitution, as set out in part V of the Constitution Act of 1982. What is required under section 38, as the hon. member well knows, is the agreement of seven of the ten provinces expressed by resolutions passed by their legislative assemblies. That is what is required before a constitutional amendment can take place.

All Bill C-110 provides is that before the Canadian government will participate in such a change, and after seven legislative assemblies have expressed their agreement, it will determine the consent of the provinces to the extent of the majority as described in the bill.

What constitutes consent could very well be the legislative assemblies' statement. It could be an expression of support by the government of the province or it could be expressed directly by the people. That flexibility is one of the real advantages of the legislation.