The member is standing proof of that.
The bill confirms the minister's responsibility to develop the human resources that fall under the mandate of the Government of Canada. It does nothing to extend or to diminish the minister's powers, nor does the legislation introduce any substantive changes to government policies or programs.
As members will know, the government is committed to an effective and efficient operation.
At the time of structuring it was realized that encompassing all human resources in one department would better serve the needs of Canadians. To that end, Labour Canada is now part of human resources. The bill provides for the appointment of a minister of labour. However, so there is no confusion, appointment of a minister of labour does not in any way mean further reorganization of the department.
During the current restructuring of the Canadian economy the government is placing a high priority on issues such as labour relations, occupational safety and health and workplace standards as well as other issues that have a profound effect on Canada's labour markets.
These concerns are in keeping with the Government of Canada's responsibility for labour relations in several key areas which are under federal jurisdiction, including transportation, banking and communications. As well, the government is signatory to a number of international labour agreements, hence the need for a role under this department.
It is the responsibility of the Minister of Labour to ensure these issues receive the attention they reserve. With that in mind, modernization of the Canadian Labour Code is one of Labour Canada's key undertakings.
Prior to the reorganization of the government, employment and immigration came under the same roof. That is no longer the case with this new bill and this new department.
The former Canada Employment and Immigration Commission will become the Canada Employment Insurance Commission, and the commission will continue its mandate with regard to policies affecting employment, labour market conditions and revitalization of the unemployment insurance program.
That brings me to an issue I particularly want to address under the aegis of this bill. This is not a bill particularly about employ-
ment insurance. It is a bill about a department that has responsibility for the proposals now making their way through the system. Within a few days the Standing Committee on Human Resources Development will report to the House on its recommendations concerning the proposals tabled on December 1 by the now Minister of Foreign Affairs.
I have said many times publicly that I believe these proposals constitute an overall improvement in what we have had in terms of employment insurance. However, there have been some concerns expressed by my constituents and by people in Atlantic Canada generally, including by me.
I have expressed concerns and continue to have concerns about the so-called intensity rule, punishing people who through no fault of their own must have more frequent access to unemployment insurance benefits than other people. It is a fact of life. It is a characteristic of this country that there are a number of industries which by definition are seasonal, resource extractions certainly being in that category.
Although not exclusively, the Atlantic provinces are very much identified with these types of industries; mineral extraction in Labrador and parts of the island of Newfoundland and other parts of Atlantic Canada, and forestry and fishery. All three of these have seasonal implications.
What would the country be today without access to the vast resources of Atlantic Canada? I submit that the manufacturing complex of central Canada would be less vibrant without the resource sectors of other parts of the country.
For these reasons and for others we have never made any apology about the seasonal nature of our work activity. While we make no apologies, we wish it were otherwise in terms of the individuals concerned. If we gave any people in my riding, and I suspect I reflect the views of elsewhere in Atlantic Canada, the choice between unemployment insurance benefits and full time, 12 month work, they would take the latter.
It bears repeating because people who have not lived the experience in Atlantic Canada tend to generalize. There is still a generalization out there that Newfoundlanders and Atlantic Canadians are a bunch of lazy people who work for ten weeks so they can get their stamps and sit around drinking beer for the other 42 weeks.