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House of Commons Hansard #68 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was opposition.

Topics

Canadian Wheat Board ActPrivate Members' Business

6:55 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, certainly the House has had a substantial amount of discussion in relation to the Canadian Wheat Board.

The member who just spoke suggested that the member from Thunder Bay somehow was not qualified to speak because Ontario farmers who produce grain are somehow not involved in the Wheat Board. As a parliamentarian, I cannot live in every province, and I certainly cannot say that I have a direct vested interest in my riding on every issue that comes before this place, but as a legislator I have a responsibility to inform myself. When I see information being provided to all hon. members that maybe does not tell the straight story, I have a responsibility to participate as well.

I was the corporate treasurer of the United Co-operatives of Ontario, which had 100 retail outlets in Ontario in an agricultural co-op. We had the grain in the southwest of Ontario and the dairy in the northeast. When the economic situation turned down, the farmers were always the first ones to get hit. When the economy turned around, they were the last ones to recover. That happens in Ontario. It happens in the agricultural community. It happens in the western grain producer community as well.

I also was the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services, who at the time also had responsibility for the Canadian Wheat Board and spent over a three year period, a fair bit of time, being briefed on a regular basis on developments with regard to the Canadian Wheat Board.

The member will recall that there was an interesting case when a farmer decided to take his grain down to the United States. Then there was a charge laid and a fine levied. Rather than pay the fine, farmers decided to go to jail instead, as a protest.

So I am not totally ignorant about the agricultural industry or the Wheat Board. I would say, in looking at the bill, that one of the things we should acknowledge is that the Canadian Wheat Board operates like a co-op. It requires the support of its membership. It requires the patronage of its membership to be viable.

In the case of grain producers in the west who have transportation distances much greater than those of producers who are closer to the U.S. border, without the Wheat Board they have no option, because they cannot compete. The Wheat Board is the great equalizer. The member will know this.

What does this bill do? This bill says that the producers are going to be given some options. If they want to sell their grain to someone engaged in the processing of grain, that is fine, and by the way, they will not have to pay any fees to the Canadian Wheat Board. This means that by providing these greater options, the Canadian Wheat Board, this co-op that operates in a fairly lean way, is asked to forgo some significant amount of revenue, I would suspect, based on the estimates, that otherwise would have been there if it was handled through the Wheat Board.

If we have a situation where we are going to start to undermine the fine underpinnings of the Canadian Wheat Board, the Canadian Wheat Board dies. That is the reality. That is the concern.

The member also said that the board is a federal monopoly. That is not exactly so. The board of directors of the Canadian Wheat Board actually does have some federal appointees to the board, but the majority of the directors of the Canadian Wheat Board are in fact elected by the member farmers themselves.

Therefore, the decisions of the Canadian Wheat Board are not the decisions of the Government of Canada. They are the decisions of the farmers who utilize the services of the Wheat Board.

This whole discussion in this debate is one aspect of it, but it is very clear now that the Minister of Agriculture has taken a special interest in the Wheat Board and in fact has made certain statements and certain instructions for his officials which I believe ultimately will lead to the demise of the Canadian Wheat Board. Mark my words, this in fact is the beginning of the end of the Canadian Wheat Board if the minority government continues to operate in this fashion, as if it were a majority.

The Canadian Wheat Board must survive. I do not believe that members of the Conservative Party will support the continued operation of the Canadian Wheat Board. I do not believe that they support its principles. In fact, I believe they support the large producers in the southern areas of production who want to make a lot more money by exporting to the United States, but they are prepared to sacrifice some farmers for the benefit of others. This is pitting farmer against farmer. That is the problem. That is what is wrong with this wrong-headed thinking, this ill-advised thinking of the government.

The Canadian Wheat Board has long served the producers in Canada. There have been some good years and there have been some bad years, but the Canadian Wheat Board has provided the safety net and the stability within the grain industry to support those farmers when they needed it. That was the purpose of the Canadian Wheat Board when it was established. It was to ensure that there was a stable marketplace.

Sometimes we have had a situation where there is a massive surplus of grain production. In fact, that has not been the case in recent years. Grain production and the demand have been quite the contrary. So when a member of the government starts saying that Ontario has nothing to do with it, that it is all about the west so let us forget about talking about it, I believe that is nonsense.

We are an integrated system. The agricultural interests transcend all of Canadian farmers. If we have a healthy agricultural community in the west, it translates into a healthy agricultural community in other parts of Canada, whether it be in the transportation side or not. Members will also know that 70% of the people who work in the agricultural industry are off farm gate. They do not work on farms. If we start to put in jeopardy the Canadian Wheat Board, which will put in jeopardy Canadian farmers, that is going to cost jobs as well. The members also have not addressed that.

I will say to members that this bill is not inconsequential. It is symptomatic of an ill-advised position that is taken by the Conservative minority government.To somehow suggest that we do not as parliamentarians have the right to speak because we are not farmers ourselves and we do not live in the west is a bad starting point.

Our critic on agriculture has been a champion on behalf of the farmers of Canada regardless of whether it is grain or dairy or otherwise. Farmers need a voice. What they do not need is the divisive voice of the Conservative Party. The unifying voice, the representative voice of the fundamental needs of the farming and agricultural community in Canada, has been represented by the opposition critic for agriculture.

This bill is short, but it does represent in microcosm something that is happening on a larger scale. As I say, I am concerned. I am concerned on behalf of farmers that this is the beginning of dismantling some of the stabilizing influences within the agricultural industry, which will be very bad for farmers in Canada. This is a bad bill. This bill should be defeated at second reading. In principle, I cannot support it.

Canadian Wheat Board ActPrivate Members' Business

7:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

There are about three minutes for the speech of the hon. member for Westlock—St. Paul.

Canadian Wheat Board ActPrivate Members' Business

7:05 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Storseth Conservative Westlock—St. Paul, AB

Mr. Speaker, I will not have time to read all my prepared remarks on this topic. I want to put a bit of an Alberta tint on this.

We talk about the oil and gas that we have in Alberta. It is a fact of life that the agriculture industry and the agrarian economy has been the backbone of the Alberta economy for many years. It will continue to be so.

If we do not start giving all farmers in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and across western Canada the same as they have in Ontario and in the other parts of eastern Canada, it is going to be very difficult for our agriculture producers in the upcoming years.

I want to address some of the comments that have been made in the past by the member for Mississauga South, the member for Thunder Bay—Rainy River and the member for Malpeque. None of these members are calling for single desk selling for the producers in their areas.

I have never heard the member for Malpeque call for single desk selling for the potato producers in P.E.I. Yet he pretends to care about and know what is best for the producers who live in our ridings in western Canada.

Canadian Wheat Board ActPrivate Members' Business

7:05 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. For the information of the member opposite, I called for a Canadian potato commission 15 years ago.

Canadian Wheat Board ActPrivate Members' Business

7:05 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Storseth Conservative Westlock—St. Paul, AB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the member for Malpeque's interest in my speech.

I was also very interested in the airport tour he did a year or so ago, in which it was proposed to have a bunch of different solutions for agriculture producers, particularly in western Canada. Again, none of those solutions are now in the Liberal policy platform he just unveiled the other day, at least none of the core four solutions that he originally put forward.

I want to ensure I take the time to congratulate the member for Battlefords—Lloydminster in the exemplary work he has done, and the parliamentary secretary from Cypress Hills—Grasslands. They are men of ethics and moral standards. They fought for something in opposition. When they got to this side of the aisle, they continued to fight for the same thing. They did not flip-flop on these issues. They did not decide one day that they were for farmers and what was best for farmers and then the next day decide they would rather choose politics over it.

While the bill may be succinct and small, it is very important for providing the impetus of change and choice that we dramatically need in western Canada. I am proud to stand today and support the bill. I ask all members to take the time, learn a little more about the Wheat Board and support the bill.

Canadian Wheat Board ActPrivate Members' Business

7:05 p.m.

Conservative

Gerry Ritz Conservative Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise again today and speak to my private member's bill, Bill C-300.

The purpose of the bill is producer empowerment. “Who gets the final say with my product?”

There has been a lot of talk about the vote. The member from Mississauga talked about how the Canadian Wheat Board was a co-op. It is the only mandatory co-op I have ever heard of in the history of the globe. He talked at great length about how producers should be assured of that.

The member for Sault Ste. Marie said that grain farmers in western Canada had told him in Saskatoon that they were not in trouble because they had the Canadian Wheat Board as a safety net for them. That safety net is full of holes. A lot of farmers are slipping through it. We have a tremendous problem in the grains and oilseeds sector. They are hurting a lot.

I listened to all of this today. I was frustrated and angry. Then I started to think this was the best thing that could possibly happened on the bill. I know the opposition will kill the bill before we get a chance to talk about it in committee, and that is their right to do that. This is a democracy, but I grit my teeth. However, I then started to think.

I am going to get a tape of this sucker and I am going to send it out to every farmer on my database, and there are some 5,000 or 6,000 of them in my riding. They are going to get the biggest laugh of their lives out of this. It shows them who is controlling their livelihoods and how much they understand the pressure that they are putting them under and keeping them under with the Wheat Board, which will not flex like it should.

There is a lot of talk out there that farmers cannot go head to head with the big multinationals. Nobody is expecting them to do that. Nobody is saying the Wheat Board is even doing that.

We look at other examples in the grain sector such as canola, pulse growers, flax and rye. Oats is a great example. When oats were under the board, 50,000 tonnes was our export in a year. Now it is up to 1.3 million tonnes, plus a burgeoning processing sector in western Canada for oats. That is a success story. Cattle, pork and all these issues go head to head with the multinationals and do very well. They are not clamouring for some release from out underneath the marketing system they are held within.

There was some mention of transportation, that we were landlocked so we should not do anything but ship out the raw material. That is the absolute wrong way to go.

The report that the member for Malpeque put forward had a couple of points in it. It talked about producer empowerment to get higher up the food chain. This bill would do that. It would allow them to have the transportation costs become part of the purchase, not part of them. Since the Crow rate was taken away, it is killing us.

The Bloc always tries to tie supply management in this. The member who spoke about this used to sit on the agriculture committee. He should know better than that. I have been talking to people in the supply managed sector, the dairy side, and they say the comparison is apples and walnuts, not just apples and oranges.

This is the biggest difference. The supply managed sector is voluntary. If I decide I want to get into the sector, I buy some quota and I am in business. If I want to grow grain in western Canada, I am under the Wheat Board. I have no choice, none whatsoever. If I decide I want to take some quota in a supply managed sector and start a cheese factory, I can do that. I can do that with the quota I have or I can buy more quota, I can start a cheese factory and I can do what I want with it.

In the west, I cannot do that without going through the punitive buyback. That buyback entails me selling my wheat to the Wheat Board on paper. It charges me a buyback at whatever it says the world price is that day. Then it charges me freight and elevation to tidewater, those ports that I, as a western Canadian farmer, am supposed to subsidize and keep alive all on my own. I cannot stand that burden any more.

That is the big difference between them. One is voluntary and I can value add. The other one is mandatory and I cannot value add with my product without adding on about 30% to 40% to the input costs of that product, which makes it prohibitive. I cannot get a good bottom line. There is no way they are the same type of thing. We can support one and not the other simply because one is not open to any kind of change, or allowing the in or out. Therefore, that argument flies apart.

The member also quoted section 47.1 of the Canadian Wheat Board Act. What the party left out was the minister can put wheat, barley or whatever is produced in any area in Canada. That means Quebec producers could be under the Canadian Wheat Board, the same as I am. I wish him well with that.

The Ontario wheat producers could be under that same single desk selling. If single desk is the answer and the ultimate control, then why do we have three separate marketing boards for grain products across the county? Why is there not one? Why do we not amalgamate them and everybody can roll around in the same bed. That is probably the answer.

The collectivism ideology of the NDP members will not let them grasp the idea that this is a private property right. I own that product, I will deal with it and market it as I want.

Canadian Wheat Board ActPrivate Members' Business

7:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

It being 7:30 p.m., the time provided for debate has now expired.

The question is on the motion.

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Canadian Wheat Board ActPrivate Members' Business

7:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Canadian Wheat Board ActPrivate Members' Business

7:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Canadian Wheat Board ActPrivate Members' Business

7:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Canadian Wheat Board ActPrivate Members' Business

7:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

All those opposed will please say nay.

Canadian Wheat Board ActPrivate Members' Business

7:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Canadian Wheat Board ActPrivate Members' Business

7:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

In my opinion the nays have it.

And more than five members having risen:

Pursuant to Standing Order 93 the division stands deferred until Wednesday, October 25 immediately before the time provided for private members' business.

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

7:15 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, what an engaging debate for Canadians to watch again as the ideologues on the Conservative benches reared their heads to strike a blow on the idea of farmers working together collectively.

Governing is about choices and the Conservative government has made a very clear choice to follow in the path of the previous Liberal government. It is offering up to the oil and gas sector, particularly those who are focused in the northern Alberta tar sands around the Fort McMurray area, a little present wrapped with a bow, of $1.5 billion each and every year. I use the word “little” facetiously because $1.5 billion is a significant amount for a government to use taxpayers' dollars to subsidize an industry. It is a deal that was made at a time when the industry actually needed some support some many years ago. If we were to ask any person on the street of all the industries in Canada that need help and support in growing, certainly the oil and gas sector, particularly those companies operating in the tar sands, would not be on the list. The profits have been, as one corporate executive in Calgary quipped, “obscene”.

At a time when there is a $13 billion surplus, the government has chosen to cut a billion dollars from much needed programs for Canadians to help them gain literacy skills, to help women define their rights and freedoms under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, to help first nations quit smoking, and to help with court challenges. I do not recall these programs being in the Conservative Party's platform at the time of the last election. Lo and behold when the government is absolutely swimming in taxpayers' money, it can find $1.5 billion to shuffle over to its friends in the office towers in Calgary but somehow it also sees the need to cut a billion dollars from programs that were serving Canadians well.

The government exacerbated the problem by trotting out one of the most sad and lonesome pieces of legislation, the hot air act. It is a bill that purports to delay and hopes to confuse and confound Canadians about what is going to happen with our environment. It is a bill that does not call for any serious regulations for the greatest polluters in the country for 15 to 20 years. We will not see any result in emissions reduction or pollution reduction in this country until 2050, a year when I despair to say that many hon. members in this House will no longer be with us. The legacy we will leave for the generations to come will be a planet with a climate that has warmed up potentially more than five degrees.

We are already seeing what is taking place in my riding of Skeena—Bulkley Valley in the northwest corner of British Columbia. A pine beetle epidemic has absolutely roared across our province. I will challenge the parliamentary secretary tonight to explain why, in the midst of this challenge and the promise of a billion dollars, which is a significant amount of money to help communities in my region and in other regions across British Columbia to deal with the economic devastation, the government has chosen to take out $12 million. Nowhere is the promise of a billion dollars to be found.

I am sure that somewhere around this place the government has a Mack truck loaded up with cash and is ready to roll it out just prior to the next election, but communities need the money now. We are on the verge of an economic swing inSkeena—Bulkley Valley. We need the support to help communities acquire the trade skills. Instead the current government continues the legacy of the last government of robbing from the employment insurance fund, of not supplying the training and development that workers need across our region and other parts of Canada to seize those opportunities and make choices.

Jack Mintz, one of the leading economists in this country, was speaking of the income trust fiasco that is taking place across our land. Companies are devolving themselves into income trusts, thereby avoiding many of the taxes that help pay for the roads and transportation, career and development training, universities, health care and all these things that we try desperately to hold on to as Canadians. As these companies shift into income trusts, according to Mr. Mintz, the $500 million in taxes that has been lost to the government has now doubled and ballooned up to $1 billion a year in lost tax revenue.

How can the government pretend that it is making correct choices for Canadians while it is cutting programs and not allowing EI dollars to flow? It is cutting essential needs like the small figure of $12 million for the pine beetle epidemic but it is still finding the political will to put $1.5 billion into the oil and gas sector, one of the few sectors in this economy that absolutely does not need the help.

7:20 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, as all members know, this government just tabled Canada's first clean air act. Canada's clean air act would set in motion Canada's first comprehensive and integrated approach to tackle air pollution and greenhouse gases and, in doing so, deliver better air quality and address climate change.

Past governments relied on voluntary measures, satisfied that industry would comply. Those days are over. From now on, all industry sectors will have mandatory requirements and we will enforce those requirements. Our plan puts the health of Canadians first and the health of our environment first.

Canada's clean air act would amend three existing pieces of legislation to strengthen the Government of Canada's ability to take coordinated action to reduce air emissions nationwide, namely, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, also known as CEPA, the Energy Efficiency Act and the Motor Vehicle Fuel Consumption Standards Act.

The notice of intent to develop and implement regulations and other measures to reduce air emissions published in the Canada Gazette on Saturday, sets out the government's regulatory agenda. The agenda will cover many industrial sectors, including the oil industry, which will directly contribute to reducing air pollution and greenhouse gases.

The oil sands are important to Canadians and the Canadian economy. Billions are being spent by oil companies in Canada. In addition to the direct royalties paid to the Government of Alberta, billions are being paid in taxes to the federal government which will benefit all Canadians.

Oil sands production is expected to triple over the next decade and that will be good for Canada's economy. The oil trapped in the oil sands has elevated Canada to the country with the second largest oil reserve in the world, only behind Saudi Arabia. However, government action is needed to ensure oil sands development takes place in a way that respects the environment, and the government will act.

The approach is much more than just a long term approach. With respect to industrial air emissions, the government has committed to determining its regulatory framework, including setting short term targets by next spring. This is a very ambitious schedule and, therefore, we will be seeking focused advice as soon as possible on the key issues.

7:20 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, what I cannot find in the hon. parliamentary secretary's answer is how, at a time when there is unmitigated devastation of the forests of British Columbia and a government absolutely swimming in extra tax dollars, the Conservatives found the will to actually pull out $12 million from a fund that was set up to help the communities transition and to develop the next economy as they fight this pine beetle epidemic.

Why so cynical a move? Why a promise of $1 billion that are not to be found and yet they are able, in the midst of a clean air act, which has turned into a hot air act, to still promote a $1.5 billion tax subsidy into a sector that is swimming in its own cash? There is absolutely no call from Canadians to keep subsidizing this sector.

Fort McMurray, Ralph Klein and former Premier Lougheed have all said that the ship should be slowed down because there is no plan. If the communities and the people involved in this sector are saying that we need a plan and some sort of timeline to develop this, why would the government keep subsidizing this while continuing to hurt communities in my region?

7:20 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Conservative Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, we have heard this diatribe many times before when the members opposite tried to incorrectly portray this government as a meanspirited government that is cutting millions of dollars away from the most vulnerable in Canadian society.

I would point out to the member, as I have done before, that I did not know that federal cabinet ministers, as an example, were among Canada's most vulnerable and yet we have cut $47 million by merely reducing the size of cabinet. I would suggest to the hon. member that our expenditure review, which will be saving Canadian taxpayers $1 billion this year, will result in over $650 million annually, which we can then use to benefit all Canadians. That is a fiscal performance to be proud of.

7:20 p.m.

Bloc

Carole Lavallée Bloc Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to talk about the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, the famous Bill C-55, adopted in this House almost a year ago, in November 2005. That bill created a salary protection program for workers in case of bankruptcy.

A long time ago, the Bloc Québécois made a commitment to the unions to propose amendments to the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act to ensure that the salaries of employees and pension funds would be the first debts to be paid in the case of the bankruptcy of a business.

The current situation is unsatisfactory. Under the legislation now in effect in our country, an employee who has worked all his or her life for the same company could be left with nothing if the company went bankrupt. In the face of that fact, the Bloc Québécois decided to press the government to correct the flaws in the current legislation and to ensure better protection for workers’ salaries.

A year and a half ago, the government of the day tabled a bill in this House, Bill C-55. That bill conformed to the principles of social justice that employees must be paid for the hours they have worked. Workers have nothing but their salary as a source of income. Workers’ pension funds are sacred. No one works all his or her life to end up as impoverished as someone who did not worked so hard for so long.

As I mentioned previously, Bill C-55 created the wage earner protection program, WEPP. Bill C-55 consisted of two components. The first component, dealt with protection of wages, WEPP. The second component dealt with the revision of the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act. While the WEPP component was not perfect, there were still real benefits related to that program. For example, workers whose company went bankrupt could apply for employment insurance and be eligible for an allowance of up to $3,000 of unpaid wages when the employer declared bankruptcy. The payments made under the program were taxable and took into account other applicable contributions. In this way, regardless of the value of the employer’s assets, workers could obtain the greater part, if not all, of their unpaid wages.

The Department of Industry estimated that $3,000 per worker would be enough to cover 97% of all unpaid wage claims. The government also estimated that this would cost the Treasury $32 million a year or, in very bad years, $50 million. Meanwhile, the government is running $13 billion surpluses.

I think that the Bloc Québécois disagreed with some aspects of the bill but voted in favour of it because it seemed to be a great improvement on the current situation.

The purpose of this adjournment debate is to ask the minister what he is doing. I asked him this question last June in the House and he said that there were some problems with Bill C-55 and it could not be implemented right away. He said, though, that he would take care of everything and would soon have more to tell us. Unfortunately, nothing came of this because it is now October and still there is no news about this bill.

Basically, I want to know two things. First, what parts and clauses of the bill are causing problems? I would also like to know when the minister expects to introduce it again in the House, return to it or just enact it.

I would also like to suggest to the minister that if it is the bankruptcy part that is causing a problem, he just needs to enact the wage earner protection program.

7:25 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, as members know, Bill C-55, containing the Wage Earner Protection Program Act, was proposed and passed into law with the unanimous support of all political parties in the House of Commons and the Senate. Bill C-55 also includes a comprehensive reform of Canada's insolvency laws, including the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act and the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act. As such, Bill C-55 provided a balanced and complete package of reforms on bankruptcy.

In particular, the wage earner protection program has strong support from parliamentarians, labour unions, the insolvency community and employers. This program should be brought into force as soon as possible. The current insolvency system does not provide adequate protection for unpaid wage earners. An estimated 10,000 to 20,000 workers a year are left with unpaid wage claims due to employer bankruptcies. That is why the wage earner protection program was proposed. The program will improve the protection of workers during the insolvency process.

The protection of unpaid wage earners has been a major issue during every attempt at insolvency reform over the past 30 years and the issue has never been resolved.

The wage earner protection program will address this issue by providing certain payments of up to $3,000 to workers for unpaid wages and earned but unused vacation pay, so that payment of wages will no longer depend on the amount of assets of the bankrupt employer. It is estimated that this will satisfy 97% of unpaid wage claims in full. In addition, the wage earner protection program will provide prompt payment of wages so that workers receive payment of their wage claims when they need it most.

We cannot deny the importance of implementing this program in a timely fashion. However, before the Wage Earner Protection Program Act can come into force, some technical amendments have to be made to ensure that the program will be effective. The regulations necessary to operate the act must be prepared and considerable work needs to be done before implementation.

We do not have to convince Canadians that it is important to protect vulnerable workers who suffer an economic setback through no fault of their own. We do not have to convince Canadians that it is the right thing to do.

This government also understands that protecting Canadian workers when employers declare bankruptcy is the right thing to do.

7:30 p.m.

Bloc

Carole Lavallée Bloc Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to hear that the government wants implement a bill to protect the wages of workers in case of bankruptcy. That is the good news I heard, and I am making a note of it.

I was very disappointed, though, to hear the parliamentary secretary say that he wants this legislation to take effect as soon as possible but is not setting a date or deadline today. I would like to know the schedule, but most of all, I would like to know whether it is the part dealing with overhaul of the bankruptcy provisions that is causing a problem or the wage earner program. Is he thinking of separating these two parts?

7:30 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Conservative Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned to the hon. member in my presentation earlier, the technical amendments have to be made to ensure that this program will be effective.

Although I cannot give an exact timeline, I can assure the member that this government hopes to be able to table amending legislation very shortly.

7:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 2 p.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 7:32 p.m.)