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House of Commons Hansard #59 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was seniors.

Topics

6:35 p.m.

Blackstrap Saskatchewan

Conservative

Lynne Yelich ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Social Development

Mr. Speaker, my remarks are going to be very brief because I spoke to this issue just last week during the debate on the hon. member's Motion No. 383.

I want to point out again that the federal government proactively contacts millions of Canadian seniors to inform them of the benefits to which they are entitled.

I have to point out to the member that we have done a lot for seniors. We have given seniors their own secretariat and their own voice at the cabinet table. We have acted very quickly to support seniors issues.

Within months after being elected, we introduced Bill C-36 which strengthened the CPP and the old age security programs. We simplified that application process. We had many changes. We reduced the number of seniors living in poverty. The government has overseen two increases in the guaranteed income supplement.

Effective January 2006, we raised the GIS by 3.5% and raised it again in January 2007. These measures are providing all single recipients of the guaranteed income supplement with an additional $430 per year and $700 per couple.

These increases will raise the total guaranteed income supplement by more than $2.7 billion in the next five years. These increases will benefit 1.6 million guaranteed income supplement recipients. This is more than 50,000 seniors who were not eligible for the program under the previous Liberal government.

In closing, I want to thank the hon. member across the way for her question, but I want to assure the member that Canadian seniors have finally found a government that really is interested in their issues and is responding.

6:40 p.m.

Independent

Louise Thibault Independent Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, the least one can say is that this has been an evening of very brief remarks, at least on the government's part, even though according to the rules for the adjournment debate, each side should have spoken for four minutes. However, I am just as glad that the other side did not talk for four minutes because the Conservatives' tactic is never to give answers during question period or the late show.

The question was a simple one. The government spent millions on advertising that it said would reach seniors at curling rinks. Why did the government not use that money to make an earnest effort to reach the people who qualify for the guaranteed income supplement and to make sure they knew they were entitled to it? That is the government's responsibility.

The question was a simple one. I do not need to hear yet another secretary of state toot her own horn. Better that she not reply at all. That would be less insulting to the seniors I represent and to seniors across Canada.

6:40 p.m.

Conservative

Lynne Yelich Conservative Blackstrap, SK

Mr. Speaker, the member is saying that Service Canada has not reached out to seniors. It has many outreach programs and we have taken seniors very seriously. That is why they have a voice at the cabinet table, which is very important. They have a strong voice.

We have expanded the new horizons program. We know there have been issues with elder abuse and we have worked to try to combat elder abuse. We have a very impressive record and we do not forget seniors. We have increased the GIS.

I think the member will understand that seniors have never had a better voice than the Conservative Party.

6:40 p.m.

NDP

Wayne Marston NDP Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

Mr. Speaker, on December 7 I asked when the government was going to establish a plan to address the very serious plight of the manufacturing industry in our country. The response I got at that time from the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry was full of rhetoric and complaints about the NDP. The response failed to address the question in a substantive way and resulted in my asking for further clarification tonight.

Since my question on December 7, Canada continues to lose manufacturing jobs and those left are hanging by a thread. In December there were 33,000 fewer manufacturing jobs in Canada than in the month of November.

I will also say that the parliamentary secretary was right when he said that the NDP supported measures and recommendations coming from the industry committee last year. However, one thing is clear, and that is that the budget has failed the manufacturing sector, but do not take my word for it. On February 26 Jay Myers, the president of Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters, said:

Manufacturing is the grassroots leader of innovation in this country, but I am not sure politicians are hearing that message.

He went on to say:

This budget worries me because it sends the message that a reduction in corporate tax rates is the silver bullet for the economy.

On February 27, Mr. Myers, again naming the finance minister, said he “doesn't seem to understand the seriousness of the problems facing industry in Canada today”.

On the same day, February 27, CAW president Buzz Hargrove was quoted in the Globe and Mail as saying:

This money should be the first part of a much bigger long term automotive strategy, not a one-time gesture to rally voters.

I hope the parliamentary secretary has come here tonight prepared to offer Canadian workers a better explanation of what his government intends to do to establish a forward looking, comprehensive manufacturing strategy that the industry says it needs and that Canadian workers expect from their federal government, a manufacturing strategy that not only protects existing jobs and helps prepare the industry for the job opportunities of tomorrow.

I look forward to the response from the parliamentary secretary.

6:45 p.m.

Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Colin Carrie ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, the Canadian economy is strong and investments in machinery and equipment are up. Unemployment across Canada is at record levels, salary and hourly wages are increasing and manufacturing unemployment is actually below the general unemployment levels across the country.

Both the hon. member and I agree that manufacturers are facing some challenges. However, we seem to disagree on how the government should be involved.

The results are speaking for themselves. Every measure the Conservative government has brought to the House, with the exception of one, the NDP has voted against. The member has sold out his constituents for the agenda of some radical interest groups that would prefer to see the Government of Canada attempt to spend the U.S. out of a potential recession and Canada back into deficit. We cannot go there.

Last year, the Standing Commission on Industry, Science and Technology tabled 22 recommendations and we have responded positively to all of them.

When it came time to act, this government provided in budget 2007, a budget that received overwhelming positive responses from the industry. However, when it came to a vote in the House, that member and his radical ideological party stood and voted against every measure and the recommendations of his industry critic.

Here is the short list of what the government has delivered. We cut corporate taxes. These were broad-based tax reductions resulting in $9 billion in tax relief. By 2010, Canada will have the lowest overall tax rate on new business. We are proposing to extend the temporary accelerated capital cost allowance for machinery and equipment. We did that for an additional three years, which is an additional $1 billion in tax relief.

Last January, we allocated $1 billion for the community development trust to support hard hit workers. We are injecting $90 million to extend the targeted initiative for older workers to 2012 to help older workers stay in the workforce. We are making the biggest investments in infrastructure in half a century of $33 billion.

We are also cutting red tape and reducing the paper burden so businesses can spend time being productive and less time filling out forms. We are supporting research and development.

This government has moved well beyond the need for assessing a strategy. We are taking real action for the people of Canada.

6:45 p.m.

NDP

Wayne Marston NDP Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

Mr. Speaker, the parliamentary secretary still has the patter down well and the rhetoric seems to still be there.

I am proud of my voting record. I have been standing up for the people of my riding, the people of Hamilton, and the manufacturing sector that is being devastated. I would say that right now the Governor of the Bank of Canada has realized how the economic downturn in the U.S. could negatively impact on middle class families in Canada and he cut the rates just yesterday.

Statistics released yesterday also show that economic output contracted 0.7% in December, a major decline of fourth-quarter exports caused by a drastic 2.7% decrease in the international shipment of goods. Manufacturing activity tumbled 3.2%, reaching the lowest level since 2001. Motor vehicle production dropped 27%, the largest monthly decline since production cutbacks in January 1990, which caused a 37% reduction in activity.

All these drops--

6:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order, please. The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry.

6:45 p.m.

Conservative

Colin Carrie Conservative Oshawa, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Canadian economy is rock solid, even while other economies are experiencing uncertainty.

Unemployment is the lowest in 33 years. Last year, Ontario added nearly 82,000 new jobs to its economy, largely compensating for the 64,000 jobs lost in manufacturing. Our economy continues to grow at a solid pace, 2.7% in 2007, and is expected to be ahead of the G-7 in 2008. Private sector forecasters expect continued solid growth for Canada.

We want Canada's manufacturing sector to enjoy this economic expansion, to make the investments that will help it compete for the long term and we want it to benefit from a knowledge workforce. That is why this government is taking steps and using the steps it already has in place to support the manufacturing sector. This is a sector that will provide jobs and prosperity for many years to come.

6:45 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.

(The House adjourned at 6:49 p.m.)