House of Commons Hansard #100 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was fraud.


Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

6:40 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker NDP Bill Blaikie

The time for consideration of private member's business has now expired and the order is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the order paper.

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

6:40 p.m.


Paul Crête Bloc Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, on October 17, 2006, I questioned the Minister of Industry in this House, asking him if he would be prepared to announce an emergency plan for the forestry industry to make up for all the difficulties faced by that industry. These difficulties arose from problems with the dispute with the Americans and in spite of the softwood lumber agreement which the Bloc Québécois supported. This was not a perfect agreement, far from it, but it was better than continuing the dispute, which was pointless. The companies could not afford to continue any longer. They also needed an aid package, and the Bloc Québécois had put forward a concrete proposal containing approximately ten different measures.

One of the proposed measures was an income support program for older workers. Many had been laid off and, sadly, more have been laid off since. We also proposed an economic diversification program for forestry-dependent communities; a special tax status for the 128,000 private woodlot owners in Quebec; the acceleration of equipment amortization; a program to diversify lumber markets, and financial compensation for maintaining the road and forest network. In spite of all these proposals, the federal government did not really take any action to remedy the situation.

On January 22, 2007, one week before Parliament resumed sitting, stakeholders representing the whole forestry industry came to Ottawa and made representations somewhat similar to those of the Bloc Québécois. They told the federal government that it does not seem to realize that the forestry industry is going through a major crisis, that there are problems with allowances in certain provinces, that there is still the issue with the United States, particularly the significant drop in prices, and that the whole pulp and paper sector is in trouble, which has a domino effect on the whole forestry industry. Therefore, the industry expects some action.

On the same day that forestry industry stakeholders were in Ottawa, the president of the FTQ, the Fédération des travailleurs du Québec, Mr. Massé, and the Bloc Québécois leader, held a joint press conference and asked for the implementation of effective programs.

The president of the FTQ said:

This is not the first time that we are asking for a revitalization program for secondary and tertiary processing, a government-funded program for the redevelopment of energy-consuming technologies in the context of sustainable development, loan programs and tax credits to support businesses that depend on the forest.

There is none of that in the federal government's initiative. There is absolutely nothing for the renewal of technology or infrastructure. It looks as if the government has not noticed that there is a crisis in the forestry industry. Thousands of jobs have been lost. The workers affected were often very well qualified for these jobs, but they cannot easily find work elsewhere. They were left to fend for themselves.

Today, I am rising in this House to ask the government if it is going to make a decision. Will it at least tell us that the upcoming budget will include measures for the forestry industry, which really needs help?

The Standing Committee on Industry, Sciences and Technology has worked to produce a report on manufacturing sectors. It should soon be released. It will be a unanimous and strong report. We cannot provide details today, because it is still confidential, but I hope that the parliamentary secretary and the government will heed the messages that relate to the forestry industry in the report. However, the government has already been in possession of the assistance plan proposed by the Bloc Québécois for months now.

Can the government spokesperson tell me whether or not measures will be taken for the forestry industry, which really needs help?

6:45 p.m.

Oshawa Ontario


Colin Carrie ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, during question period on October 17, 2006, the hon. member for Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup raised the issue of federal support for the softwood lumber industry.

The question of the hon. member gives the government yet another opportunity to show the House that the government is delivering on its commitments.

From the outset, we committed to resolve the long standing softwood lumber dispute. Less than nine months after taking office, the government made good on its pledge. The softwood lumber agreement is supported by two countries, all lumbering producing provinces and over 90% of the Canadian softwood producers.

This historic agreement gives our producers stable, predictable access to the U.S. market, it ends years of costly litigation and it brings economic certainty to companies, communities and workers across Canada. It returns over $5 billion Canadian in duty deposits to our softwood producers, a significant infusion of capital for the industry. In fact, virtually all of the duties are now in the hands of the producers. That is action.

Resolution of the softwood lumber dispute was a clear demonstration of our government's commitment to the industry. Canadians asked the government to come up with a resolution that provided stability for the industry and protected the livelihoods of workers, communities and families, not only in Quebec but across the country. We have done this.

Throughout the process to negotiate and implement this agreement, we made it abundantly clear that the government recognized the importance of the forest products industry to the Canadian economy. We are keenly aware that there are challenges facing the industry, but we are not just talking about these challenges, like the members opposite. We are addressing them.

As the hon. member will recall, we announced in budget 2006 a $400 million investment to encourage the long term competitiveness of the forest industry to address the pine beetle infestation in western Canada and to assist worker adjustment.

We are delivering on these commitments too. On October 17, the new government announced a new cost shared program with the provinces an territories. The targeted initiative for older workers is a two year initiative that will be cost shared with the provinces and territories and assist thousands of older workers. It addresses the needs of older workers who have lost their jobs in communities where the local economy is facing ongoing unemployment or where industries such as forestry are affected by downsizing and closures.

Earlier this month the government announced measures to fight the mountain pine beetle and address its impacts on forests and communities in British Columbia. We will work closely with the B.C. government to develop a comprehensive strategy to battle this infestation. It will include measures to stop the eastward spread of the beetle and to help affected communities develop new forest products, markets, industries and services to ensure their long term economic well-being.

My hon. colleague, the Minister of Natural Resources, is working urgently to deliver on other measures to improve industry competitiveness.

The government has and will continue to support the Canadian forest industry. The actions that we have taken are continuing to make this clear. It is clear to Canadians and it should be clear to the members opposite. Actions speak louder than words.

6:45 p.m.


Paul Crête Bloc Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, I agree with my colleague. The only reason the softwood lumber agreement was passed is that the Bloc Québécois supported the Conservative Party. The other two parties in this House voted against it, and if it had not been for the Bloc Québécois' support, the agreement would not have been passed in Parliament and the crisis would now be even worse than it was.

That said, there is another important consideration: we need a real assistance program. We are helping older workers re-enter the workforce, and that is fine, but 20% of the people who were laid off are too old to re-enter the workforce. We cannot find new jobs for them. The Conservative government still has not provided any tools, such as an older workers assistance program, to help these people bridge the gap between being laid off and collecting old age security. Recently, the Minister of Human Resources and Social Development created another committee, but it will be six months before it reports.

Can the parliamentary secretary assure us that the next budget will contain concrete measures like the ones the Bloc Québécois proposed in its action plan in September to enable this industry to recover its vitality and ensure its competitiveness?

We are going through hard times. The softwood lumber agreement drove prices down. The agreement now covers nearly the entire market. We have no choice but to pay the taxes. The situation will remain difficult.

Can we be sure that the government will have a clear plan to help the forest industry, and that it will make its plan known in the budget, at the very latest?

6:50 p.m.


Colin Carrie Conservative Oshawa, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am surprised that the hon. member's party has reservations about the older workers' initiative. Just one short year ago the Bloc Québécois put forth a motion that requested, among other measures, the creation of an adjustment program for older workers in the textile and apparel industries. Not only that, but in May 2006 the hon. member himself introduced two further motions, each of which requested a program be created for older workers.

We have delivered on the targeted initiative for older workers, and more. We have delivered for older workers not only in the forestry and apparel and textile industries, but anywhere there is a reliance on a single industry or employer. We have delivered a program to help them upgrade their skills, gain work experience or receive career counselling. We have delivered to the provinces and territories a program that offers them flexibility in identifying communities and projects under the initiative.

This program could help up to 10,000 older workers develop new skills and find new jobs over the next two years so they can continue to provide their invaluable expertise and experience to the Canadian workforce as well as their communities.

6:50 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker NDP Bill Blaikie

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly the House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m. pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 6:52 p.m.)