Mr. Chair, we all sympathize with the people from Huntingdon, but let us be clear: the federal government has known for 10 years now that the tariffs and quotas would disappear on January 1, 2005. Today, they hastily made a few announcements, but nothing that will help this industry get through this crisis. Last week representatives from the apparel and textile industry came to the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade and talked about how discouraged they were at the federal government's inaction.
It is quite frustrating for them to hear today's announcement making Huntingdon a priority. I want the minister to explain how he can announce two pilot projects for Laval and Ahuntsic, which may be justified, but announce absolutely nothing for Huntingdon the same day we learn that 800 jobs are being lost.
We do not understand this attitude of the federal government. In April 2004 there was a unanimous report from the Standing Committee on Finance that proposed three measures. Why then did we have to wait until today for the federal government to confirm part of these measures? The Huntingdon case is not an isolated situation. This is a tidal wave. There is an extraordinary offensive, namely the Chinese, at the ready to take over all these markets.
Again today, the federal government has delivered half measures. There are no conclusive results. If the programs they are talking about, namely CATIP and CANtex, had resolved the problem, we would not be here talking about it today.
A year ago someone was working with the people of Huntingdon and today the plant is closing. What does the minister think about that? Obviously it did not work.
And it gets worse. Does the minister not agree that the first thing that should have been put on the table today was an aid package for older workers so that those who have been laid off can have decent employment insurance benefits and a decent future? These are people who dedicated their lives to working in companies where salaries were not particularly impressive and neither was the pension fund.
Does the attitude of the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development not suggest that it is business as usual, that nothing special has happened and that nothing will be done any differently? Why has there been no announcement by the government to help older workers?