Mr. Speaker, I am always pleased to participate in the adjournment debate because it gives me the opportunity to go over in more detail questions I have asked the Conservative government.
In this case, the question was about the new horizons program. I said that the Conservative government had learned nothing from the summer career placement program, because it planned on using a similar tactic for the new horizons program that would centralize decision-making somewhere other than the regional centres, which are perfectly competent.
As we know, the new horizons for seniors program is a fascinating example of the propensity of governments to turn a very useful initiative into a way to centralize decision-making, which is, at best, very irritating for anyone involved.
This program encourages seniors to participate in their community and offers three types of funding: for upgrading equipment, for promoting awareness among the public about elder abuse, and for helping seniors use their life experience to benefit the community.
In theory, that will meet the needs expressed by these people. In practice, however, something major is missing to enable them to take control of their own situation. In my region, there are dynamic groups of seniors, such as the Lower St. Lawrence seniors round table and 50-plus forum. These people bring a lot to the community, and they know the Service Canada officers in Rimouski. They would like to propose their own projects to people who know them, who know their community and who understand local dynamics.
Instead, the government is trying to alienate seniors by making decisions far away in Montreal and Ottawa rather than close to home. Instead of working with people in their community, seniors have to go along with decisions made by people who are very far away.
Service Canada officers in major centres have a lot of experience and they mean well, but they are not close to home and they do not understand our dynamics or our community. The government should enable competent public servants in Rimouski—people who know what is going on and who know how to hold consultations in their community—to do these things close to home to better serve our seniors.
As I said, it started this spring with the move to centralize the summer work experience program, and it is still happening. I would certainly like to know the real reason the government wants to distance people from the decision-making process. Why does it not trust its regional public servants, who are very competent and dedicated? Why does the government not want seniors to have access to services that really are close to home? What is the government's true motivation?
I hope that I will get an answer this time without having to ask my follow-up question in English.