Madam Speaker, the motion we are debating asks the government to spend resources to study the employment problem in Newfoundland and Labrador. I want to read it again so the people who are watching understand what the motion is intended to do.
That, in the opinion of this House, a special committee should be established to study the severe unemployment problem in Newfoundland and Labrador.
I would like to assure the member that the government is aware of this very serious issue and recognizes the need for long term structural solutions. I do not think that anybody on this side of the House would contest the fact that we need to pay serious attention to regional disparity.
Historically my party has been the one to most seriously address many of the regional problems that the member would have us examine.
Earlier studies led us to employment insurance reform, the first major reform in 25 years. We knew that we had to have more in the way of active support for work. We knew that we needed to invest in people who have invested in themselves. We knew that helping Canadians back to work was the only solution to problems of Atlantic Canada and that is what the employment insurance reform sets out to do.
While I am in favour of understanding a problem before leaping into it, there is a time for study and a time for action. The government believes the time for action is now. We are doing it in a partnership with the provincial government.
Over the last 10 years many studies, both comprehensive and specific, have examined the unemployment situation in Newfoundland and Labrador. One example, and the member mentioned it, a royal commission of the Government of Newfoundland, known as the House Commission, looked at the problem in the late 1980s. This led to a comprehensive analysis of the province's economic position and became the basis of the province's strategic economic plan. That plan is still being put into practice.
Today I want to talk about some of the things we have done to make the problem better. From everything I have seen the people in the member's riding are probably more interested in our solutions than our ability to talk more about their problems. Rather than revisit the whole issue again we want to better use our resources to help the people of Newfoundland and Labrador get back to work. That is why in 1997-98 the government will invest $89 million in active employment measures for Newfoundland and Labrador.
Here we are talking about targeted earning supplements, targeted wage subsidies, job creation partnerships, self-employment assistance and skills, loans and grants. But we have also learned that it is more important than ever for us to work even more closely with the provinces.
Thanks to the labour market development agreement we signed with the province, both levels of government will co-manage the programs that will get Newfoundlanders working again. The agreement means made in Newfoundland solutions that are tailored to the particular circumstances that characterize the Newfoundland economy. This kind of partnership recognizes that each side has something to offer and that no solution is really possible unless both levels of government work together.
One of the components of employment insurance reform is working especially well. We have heard a little bit of it in the House, but I want to mention it. The program that we launched, called the transitional jobs fund, of some $300 million in July 1996, is now starting to have an effect in Newfoundland and Labrador. That fund works with the private sector and with the provincial and municipal governments, as well as with community groups.
Like the labour market development agreement, the fund works because it is based on partnership. As of October 14, that transitional jobs fund had provided $26 million to 70 projects in Newfoundland and Labrador. That money leveraged another $85 million.
The question that is always asked in this place is, did all that money create jobs? You bet it did. So far, the transitional jobs fund has created some 2,016 new jobs in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Let us take just one example so we can put it in people terms when we talk about the 2,016 people who have found new employment because of the transitional jobs fund. Let us start by talking about the Millennium Diagnostic Services. We have helped create 46 permanent full time jobs there. Some of those people probably live in the member's riding. Millennium is setting up a private sector blood testing facility. This facility will provide services to the Canadian Blood Bank Corporation and has big export plans. Even more jobs will probably be created in the future.
We are not talking about make work either. We are talking about medical personnel, lab technicians and support personnel, exactly the sort of people that Newfoundland needs in a high tech world. Those are well paying jobs.
I could go on because there are a number of different issues we could put together, but I do not want to spend a lot of time on the success stories. I want to talk about where we need to go in the future.
The other successful program is the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency. As of 1996, the agency reported that it had created or saved 82,000 full time long term jobs. The premise of the member's motion suggests that the government of Canada does not know which way to turn, but the evidence says otherwise.
The 46 people in St. John's who got the new jobs, or what is going on with the other 2,016, or the 82,000 that we have saved, tell this House that the problem is no longer just finding data, the problem is finding jobs. We are not interested in waiting any more. We have the information we need and we will only conduct new studies on specific issues as they arise.
For example, Mr. Eugene Harrigan, the associate head of human resources development's Ontario region, will lead a review of the impact of the end of the Atlantic groundfish strategy on program clients, their communities and provincial finances. This will help the government and our partners to develop forward looking solutions.
We have programs that are working and we have results. Things are happening. Now that we are working more closely than ever with the province, even better things will start to happen.
In the short time that I have, I have given the House concrete examples of how real people at real companies are being put back to work. I want to thank those people in the programs who are trying to help depressed areas like Newfoundland and Labrador. I want to emphasize that we are on the right track. People have to be patient and give those programs an opportunity to work.