Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House to speak to the question that I asked on May 23.
This question was in regards to the fishery in the Acadian peninsula. I mentioned that for a five year period, crab fishers had withdrawn from the solidarity fund for fish processing plant workers. I asked the Minister of Human Resources Development what she intended on doing, since there would now be a gap from June until August.
I think it is important to read what the minister said in reply. She said, and I quote:
Mr. Speaker, we are concerned as always when employees find themselves without work. In this particular case, however, I would remind the hon. member that we are working with community groups in his own constituency, looking at strategies to deal with the gap between employment from year to year.
I do not know if it is because I have not been present enough in my region in recent years—yet I go home every weekend and I speak with people there—but I do not know these groups. Nothing has been done in our region to try to come up with solutions to these people's problems. Nothing is being done on this.
The minister added:
—we transfer considerable funds to his own province of New Brunswick for use in precisely this kind of circumstance.
I am sorry to say that in New Brunswick they are not taking their responsibilities toward plant workers in our area, or in any part of the province. Whether it is men and women working in the fishing industry, or whether it is lumberjacks, the situation is the same.
I have a question for the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources Development. Last week, I sent her a letter and today I personally gave her a copy. Is the Minister of Human Resources Development prepared to withdraw from this program with New Brunswick, since they do not want to take their responsibilities toward workers in our region?
They say that there are employment programs. Imagine this: they say that this will make people become dependent. What is the difference between a person who is working three, four or six months per year, and anaother who is getting welfare assistance? I would much rather see people being dependent on working than people being dependent on not working. The current attitude of the two governments is not right.
Since the Minister of Human Resources Development gave over $90 million to the provincial government, she should put her foot down and say “If you do not have a program for workers, we will withdraw from the joint program with you. You will no longer get the $90 million to play in future election campaigns. Instead, you will look after human beings, after men and women”.
Some people are in tears when they phone my office, because there is no longer any money coming in. These people are suffering every day.
I would like to hear the parliamentary secretary on the question that I asked on May 23. I would like her to tell us about the hardships that they are imposing on people back home and across the country with the gap that they created through the changes made to the employment insurance program.