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House of Commons Hansard #109 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was c-42.

Topics

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Michel Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, we will shortly be making some very minor administrative changes to the regulations. Now, I would like to reassure the opposition that these changes will in no way affect service to our clients and that the regulations will be

communicated to our offices promptly. But the changes are extremely minor and will not affect service to clients.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Bloc Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, in the interpretation document the minister has referred to, the following appears, and I quote: "For claims effective January 5, 1997 or later, a minimum of 910 hours of work is required" to qualify, in other words, an increase from 26 15-hour weeks to 26 35-hour weeks. For the average person, this is a huge difference.

On January 5, will the minister enforce the legislation as it stands, or will there be transitional measures softening the blow for the average person?

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Michel Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I have already explained on a number of occasions in the House that the system was of course going to come into effect at the beginning of January, as scheduled. Certain workers will, of course, receive less coverage, but those working under 15 hours will now be covered.

There are people who, until now, were caught in a cycle-

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Bloc Mercier, QC

That is not what we are talking about.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Bellehumeur Bloc Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Be serious for once.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew Liberal Papineau—Saint-Michel, QC

But I am perfectly serious. I do not understand why the opposition does not want to hear the answer. They are asking me questions-

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Bellehumeur Bloc Berthier—Montcalm, QC

That is not what we are asking.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew Liberal Papineau—Saint-Michel, QC

The system will take effect at the beginning of January. Interpretation measures have already been communicated to our main offices, and I can assure you that things will go very well.

Tobacco LegislationOral Question Period

November 28th, 1996 / 2:35 p.m.

Reform

Grant Hill Reform Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, today the finance minister, who has been the biggest obstacle to anti-tobacco legislation, has announced a hike in the tobacco taxes. I guess the finance minister and the health minister have kissed and made up.

Since the finance minister is now on side, where is the health minister's anti-smoking bill?

Tobacco LegislationOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Cape Breton—East Richmond Nova Scotia

Liberal

David Dingwall LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I am tempted to say very soon. Later this day I will be able to provide details in terms of the tobacco strategy of the Government of Canada.

Tobacco LegislationOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Reform

Grant Hill Reform Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, we are making progress. Last week we had a promised announcement; today we will hear about the strategy.

However, Reform is really interested in legislation. When will the government bring this legislation in? Is the minister ready to fast track this legislation so we can get it into law as fast as possible?

Tobacco LegislationOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Cape Breton—East Richmond Nova Scotia

Liberal

David Dingwall LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member and Reform members for giving their support to the government to fast track legislation as it relates to tobacco.

As I said in my first answer, later today I will be able to provide details of the contents of our strategy.

PovertyOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

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

Although the government promised in its red book to attack poverty, never in the entire history of Canada have we had so many children living below the poverty level. The government's action in this area is a miserable failure.

How can the government answer to the citizens of Canada today for its inaction toward child poverty, when even the Minister of Health stated the day before yesterday that this government's actions had not kept pace with its fine words?

PovertyOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Michel Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I would most certainly like to thank the opposition for its question, since it will give me the chance to reassure Canadians and to tell them that the first meeting of federal and provincial social affairs ministers, which was touted this morning as the most harmonious federal-provincial meeting in years, specifically addressed the priority we wished to give to children.

That is what we discussed all day yesterday, and we reached a certain consensus on solutions. In fact, yesterday the council of ministers asked some of our officials to prepare options on a system which would specifically benefit children over the next few years.

More than ever before, this federation will be making a very great effort for children in a spirit of co-operation between the provinces and the Government of Canada.

PovertyOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

Yet, Mr. Speaker, the premier of Saskatchewan, Roy Romanow, said yesterday that the problem would be far less crucial if the federal government had made fewer cuts in transfer payments to the provinces.

Will the minister admit that the cuts in social transfers have only increased child poverty, despite what he says?

PovertyOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Michel Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I greatly appreciate this somewhat offensive rhetoric, considering the great importance of child poverty, but this is no laughing matter.

What took place yesterday was a remarkable consensus between the provinces and the federal government. What we have done today is serious work, not petty rhetoric. The Government of Canada has doubled the income supplement for low income families. We have introduced an employment insurance program which includes measures to put Canadians back to work faster and to protect low income recipients with children.

Our government spends $5 billion a year on Canada's children. That is what we are doing.

Tobacco IndustryOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Sarkis Assadourian Liberal Don Valley North, ON

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

Last year the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the Tobacco Products Control Act. With 40,000 Canadians dying prematurely every year and $3.5 billion in direct health care costs to Canadians, the toll of tobacco on society is clear.

Can the Minister of Health tell the House when he will bring forward new legislation to deal with this issue, the health of Canadians and the tobacco industry?

Tobacco IndustryOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Cape Breton—East Richmond Nova Scotia

Liberal

David Dingwall LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question. He has long been an advocate of new tobacco legislation.

As I said earlier in question period, later this day we will be providing the details of our tobacco strategy with the provision of notice for the purpose of tabling the bill. We hope to be able to table the bill early next week.

Softwood LumberOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Reform

Charlie Penson Reform Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

We were told when Canada signed the softwood lumber deal with the United States that it was because the industry wanted it. However, there is growing evidence that lumber companies are unhappy with this deal. Many companies are facing bankruptcy because of inadequate or no quota. Others are facing shutdown and job losses, all at the same time that the government is realizing increased taxes through penalties charged on softwood lumber companies.

When will the government admit it was wrong to accept the export caps and scrap the softwood lumber deal?

Softwood LumberOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Winnipeg South Centre Manitoba

Liberal

Lloyd Axworthy LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member should know that a better rendering of the history of the agreement on softwood lumber would demonstrate that it was arrived at through a full, deep and engaging consultation with all the softwood lumber firms that closed. The proposals that were put on the table were really a product of the companies themselves.

Softwood LumberOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Reform

Charlie Penson Reform Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am not sure who the trade minister and the Minister of Foreign Affairs were consulting, but it certainly was not the hundreds of companies that are feeding information to us that they are in serious trouble because of this deal.

A recent survey we conducted shows the industry is ready to fight this case instead of living with the quota system. They want the government to scrap this deal and if the United States countervails us, to fight this at the World Trade Organization. Will the minister commit to that?

Softwood LumberOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Winnipeg South Centre Manitoba

Liberal

Lloyd Axworthy LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, there is no question that the establishment of a quota system put limits on the amount that could be exported to the United States; limits that were at historically high levels.

Many of the companies went ahead and used up their full quota before the year was out. The minister has already put in place a reserve bank which companies can draw on to increase their production.

The reality is that the provincial governments that were involved representing the lumber interests, the companies and the industry affiliations were all deeply involved in coming up with a plan. They cannot change their mind half way through the course. They have to live with the consequences because it was their decision to make.

Program For Older Worker AdjustmentOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Mr. Speaker, we know that the Minister of Human Resources Development has no compassion for children. I hope he does for older workers.

The Program for Older Worker Adjustment, funded jointly by the provinces and the federal government, helps older workers who are victims of mass layoffs. The federal government has informed the provinces that POWA will end on March 31, 1977. Ottawa will accept no new applications, but has agreed to honour its financial obligations in cases currently being processed.

Knowing that the workers of the Peerless company, considered eligible for the POWA program by the Canada-Quebec joint analysis committee, are still awaiting their benefits because Ottawa is refusing to release the funds, would the minister confirm that applications made by older workers between the announcement of

the government's withdrawal from this program and March 31, 1997 will be honoured?

Program For Older Worker AdjustmentOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Michel Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, allow me to first reject the totally inappropriate introduction by the opposition member on my lack of compassion for children. I can tell you that yesterday was a great day for children in Canada and I am delighted to have been part of it, despite the rhetoric the other side takes such pleasure in.

The federal-provincial program you mention was so successful that its budget was used up much more quickly than planned. It is also a fact that not all provinces participated and that certain provinces do not want us to continue.

I too am concerned about the future of POWA. It is however a program that will have to be terminated. In the coming years, the less populous provinces-

Program For Older Worker AdjustmentOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Hochelaga-Maisonneuve.