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House of Commons Hansard #113 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was firefighters.

Topics

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

The Speaker

Order, please. The hon. Minister of Human Resources Development.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew Liberal Papineau—Saint-Michel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to finish explaining to the opposition that we have five active employment insurance measures aimed at helping people adjust to the new labour market. The transitional measure happens to be one of these five active measures.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Bloc Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, on January 5, a pregnant woman goes on maternity leave and reports to a human resources centre after having worked 30 20-hour weeks. According to the legislation in effect in 1996, she qualifies for special so-called pregnancy benefits. Without transitional measures, on January 5, this woman will not be entitled to her pregnancy benefits. The minister can hardly say this is unimportant, that these are minor measures. This is important to the life of the average person. Does the minister realize that?

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Michel Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, what I realize, first of all, is that a woman in Sydney, Nova Scotia who works 14 hours a week in a department store does not have insurable employment at the present time. Under the new employment insurance system, she will be entitled to benefits after 30 weeks.

A father in East Montreal who has three jobs, each of which takes up 14 hours a week, adding up to 42 hours, does not have insurable employment at the present time.

This system wants to encourage people to work and will insure them starting with the first hour worked.

Canadian AirlinesOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Jim Gouk Reform Kootenay West—Revelstoke, BC

Mr. Speaker, since the beginning of the Canadian Airlines crisis, the Reform Party has called on the government to intercede to ensure the democratic rights of the union workers of Canadian Airlines. The government has responded by saying that the rules do not permit it to do that. I would point out that those rules are made here.

My question is for the Minister of Labour. Is the Minister of Labour now ready to intercede and set in place rules that would permit those workers to resolve this issue and to ensure that other people caught in this situation in the future do not have to go through the same pain and anguish that Canadian's unionized employees have been going through?

Canadian AirlinesOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Saint-Léonard Québec

Liberal

Alfonso Gagliano LiberalMinister of Labour and Deputy Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, on numerous occasions during the last few days, I have urged all parties involved to go to the negotiating table with the Canadian alliance and find a negotiated solution.

Unfortunately, we are at an impasse and 16,000 jobs are at stake. That is why I directed the Canada Labour Relations Board to organize a vote for the employees of Canadian Airlines who are members of the Canadian automobile workers union. I directed the board according to the authority given to me under article 17 of the Canadian Labour Code.

Canadian AirlinesOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Jim Gouk Reform Kootenay West—Revelstoke, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am glad the government has seen fit to end this problem. I hope that in the future, if these kinds of problems come up, that collectively we will act quicker to save that same pain and anguish.

There is still more to this. I have a question I would like to direct to the Minister of Finance. The package that the federal government has provided to Canadian does help. I am pleased to see that something is there, but it is based on the fuel tax. That fuel tax is twice as high in Canada as it is for the American competitors that all Canadian airlines must compete against under open skies.

Will the government reconsider the method by which it is helping and go instead to a straight reduction of fuel taxes so that it applies to all airlines? In that way we do not solve the problems of Canadian and transfer them on to someone else.

Canadian AirlinesOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, when one looks at the taxation of any entity, one has to take a look at the full range of taxes: payroll taxes, corporate taxes, excise taxes and anything else. The taxes levied on Canadian transporters are quite competitive and do not in any way inhibit their situation.

Furthermore, on international routes, the federal government does not impose undue taxation. What the hon. member might want to do is to take a look at the level of provincial taxation.

Canadian AirlinesOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Jim Gouk Reform Kootenay West—Revelstoke, BC

Mr. Speaker, we are looking at provincial taxation. However, I was sent here to represent people at the federal level and not slough it off to the provincial governments.

I would point out that the Minister of Finance certainly started out very correctly when he gave a long list of the taxes that the government levies against companies like Canadian Airlines.

Rather than tell us what we already know, that Canadian pays a lot of taxes in a lot of categories, will the minister re-examine the

tax on aviation fuel and go for an across the board reduction in the name of fairness to all Canadian aviation?

Canadian AirlinesOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Victoria B.C.

Liberal

David Anderson LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, there are two questions here. One is the question of fuel taxes and taxes generally which has been answered by my colleague, the Minister of Finance.

However, it is important for us to remember, including the hon. member whom I commend for his interest in this issue, that Canadian Airlines is not yet in a position where it is assured of success. Ten organizations, five of them unions, three of them governments and two companies are on side. We trust that a vote of the members of the auto workers union who are employed by Canadian Airlines will have a positive result. Of course we are not sure. We do not know how they will vote.

I would remind all members of the House that this company has had five weeks of uncertainty. It has had five weeks of problems, ranging from creditors on the one side to bookings on the other. If Canadian is to survive it needs the co-operation of all parties to move forward with the restructuring proposal to turn from a company which had chronic losses that totalled over $1.3 billion to one in the black which makes money.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Roberval Québec

Bloc

Michel Gauthier BlocLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Human Resources is refusing to admit that there will be transition measures in the implementation of the new employment insurance program. He refuses to admit it. He is also refusing to respond regarding very the specific cases put to him by my colleague for Mercier. The Minister of Human Resources Development is like a barrel organ: you can request any tune you like, but, when you turn the crank, the tune is always the same.

To continue with his example of the woman in Sydney, I would ask the Minister of Human Resources Development to explain how this person will manage to qualify for employment insurance, when no employer recorded the number of hours worked in 1996?

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Michel Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I was explaining that we have a new system where we are trying to break with the old methods. Can the opposition not accept the fact that we are really trying to adapt to a new labour market and that, necessarily, the new system is much fairer and more equitable in our opinion, because it will insure people from the first hour, from January 1, 1997.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Roberval Québec

Bloc

Michel Gauthier BlocLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, let us take this calmly and explain matters to the new minister. In the example he himself gave us a few minutes ago, the minister said that the woman would now be eligible for employment insurance on the basis of the hours she worked. We know that her hours have to be indicated in order for the Canada employment centre to process her application.

In 1996, no employer was equipped to count the hours employees worked. The application was based on the number of weeks worked. How will they know this woman worked 720 hours? There is no way of knowing.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Michel Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, those who are covered by employment insurance in 1996 will continue to be covered and will not lose their coverage as of December 31, 1996. I think this is important.

On the other hand, we can also inform. The opposition claims I am not familiar with the system. I can tell you that the woman in Sydney working 14 hours in a department store will be insured after 30 weeks.

The young father of a family in Montreal East, whom I mentioned earlier, holds three jobs and works 14 hours a week at each and is not insured. He will be, after the 11th week. The system is much more suited to things as they are at the moment and is far and away more interesting than the old system the opposition clings to in its retrograde reveries.

Krever InquiryOral Question Period

December 4th, 1996 / 2:40 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Reform Beaver River, AB

Mr. Speaker, in August 1984 health department officials sounded alarm bells about the dangers of AIDS and legislation was drafted to protect the blood supply. The Turner government and the Mulroney government which followed ignored those warnings and simply shelved the legislation.

The Krever inquiry and the victims of tainted blood want to get to truth. I ask the Prime Minister, who was deputy prime minister in August 1984, will he release all the documents and the draft legislation from 1984 to Justice Krever, yes or no?

Krever InquiryOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the Deputy Prime Minister has replied to that question many times in the House of Commons. We were very unhappy with the situation that existed at that time. There is an inquiry which we hope will be able to report soon. Then improvements can be made to the legislation so the same mistakes will not be repeated.

As far as the cabinet documents are concerned, according to the law of the land there is a limit. I did not pass this law. The law is there and we will respect the law. I am very surprised that the member is asking us not to respect the law.

The minister at the time, Madam Bégin, said that she is willing to testify. I do not know why the release of cabinet documents, if they exist, will help. I think the judge has all the things he needs to make a report and help us ensure the problems do not recur.

Krever InquiryOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Reform Beaver River, AB

Mr. Speaker, this Prime Minister is hiding behind excuses. First of all, the Canada Evidence Act is discretionary. He could choose to change that and release those documents if he wanted to. It is as simple as that.

Second, when he talks about Monique Bégin, she has already said, and documents were uncovered yesterday, that the Deputy Prime Minister was incorrect in that. She said that she had refused frankly to testify. So those excuses simply do not wash.

Justice Krever wants the documents and tainted blood victims want answers. That is all there is to it. That is all those people want. It is up to the Prime Minister now to decide whether he will release those documents or continue to hide behind those flimsy excuses.

Will the Prime Minister release the documents or will he continue to hide the truth. Just like John Turner in 1984, you have a choice, sir.

Krever InquiryOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

The Speaker

Colleagues, you will address yourselves to me, please, in all the questions. I will permit the Right Hon. Prime Minister to answer if he so chooses.

Krever InquiryOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Turner was the prime minister for three months and Parliament was not in session at that time. After that it was Mr. Mulroney. I am not here to protect anybody in that.

There is a law of the land that protects cabinet documents. All the documents the law authorized us to give to the judge were given to the judge. We hope he will be able to report and make the recommendations needed so we can improve the situation.

The Minister of Health in collaboration with his provincial colleagues already moved on the problem even before the judge made his report.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Human Resources Development is treating us to fine rhetoric and outlining interesting concepts. But what we want is an answer to some simple and specific questions. Let me put this one to him as if I were a constituent visiting him at his riding office.

A young worker loses his job on December 31, 1996, having worked 26 fifteen-hour weeks. The minister must know, at least I hope he does, that this young man is eligible for employment insurance. Right? His neighbour loses his job on January 5, after working 26 fifteen-hour weeks.

I would like the minister to tell us whether or not this person will be eligible for employment insurance. This is not too complicated: Will six days make a difference in the way these two employees of the same company will be treated, yes or no? That question is clear enough, I hope.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Michel Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I greatly appreciate the interest shown by the opposition today. This is indeed a system I want to draw attention to.

What this worker will get when he meets with his employment officer at the HRD centre-I wish to acknowledge the excellent job these people are doing in all our ridings-is someone who will have enough common sense and skill under the regulations we are developing to be able to assess the number of hours of work accumulated in the past year.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, this officer will certainly have more sense than this minister, I have no doubt about that, because the minister is unable to answer a question in this place.

He would not be fit to do the job of a government employee, who, I am sure, will be able to answer questions, provided that the minister has given him clear instructions, which does not seem to be the case. Either no instructions were given, or the minister is not aware of them.

I would like to put another question to the minister, since I did not get an answer to the first one. If a person who juggles three jobs, three 16-hour jobs, as mentioned by the minister, has to quit one of them, because working 48 hours a week at three jobs is not easy, is it not true that this person will be disqualified for quitting his or her job? Yes or no? I ask him to answer me as a government employee would, not as a Liberal minister.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Michel Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

There we have it, Mr. Speaker. The opposition has objected to any change to an employment insurance system that is much more interesting. Those people voted against spending $800 million on active measures to help workers get back to work.

This is a government that adjusts to the modern economy. The opposition party, on the other hand, has rejected every effort to reform the system, when we were trying to include the part time workers the people opposite are referring to. That is what the opposition is capable of.

Krever InquiryOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Reform

Grant Hill Reform Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, in 1984 the current Prime Minister was the deputy prime minister. New regulations were placed on the cabinet table and somebody in that government said "no way".

The tainted blood tragedy could have been prevented by those regulations.

The Prime Minister says he has nothing to hide. All we ask is that he put those documents on the table so he can prove that he has nothing to hide, because the law gives him discretion.