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House of Commons Hansard #73 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was peoples.

Topics

Budget Implementation Act, 2008Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

Maria Minna Liberal Beaches—East York, ON

It was already done and signed.

Budget Implementation Act, 2008Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

NDP

Penny Priddy NDP Surrey North, BC

No, it was not. The member is shouting that it was already done.

I carried portfolios for child care through four portfolios in the B.C. cabinet and in point of fact, the Liberals had 13 years in government to put in child care with deep roots and sustainable funding that could not be pulled out by a government that suddenly was defeated 42 days early, so that is absolute nonsense. I have heard all of this before.

The NDP defeated the government and it would have been a miracle, in the time that was left, that all of these things that they talk about wanting to do and believing in would have been done in four, five or six weeks. That is foolish and I do not think people believe that.

Budget Implementation Act, 2008Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Lake Conservative Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont, AB

Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to the comments of the hon. member and of the member who spoke before her, the hon. member for Victoria. I was particularly interested to hear the long list of big programs that they would like to see funded by the federal government.

What I would like to know is when we can expect to see a costing of all of those promises to the dollar, and maybe a list of the tax increases that would be required to pay for those promises.

Budget Implementation Act, 2008Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

NDP

Penny Priddy NDP Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, the programs I spoke of from the city of Surrey were all costed. The costs were submitted to the federal government when the information was submitted. They were not programs outside the realm of the federal government as much of that was infrastructure money. Those programs were all costed when the submissions were made.

Budget Implementation Act, 2008Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak today on the budget bill as well as the immigration changes included in the bill.

Let me be clear. We in the NDP were attempting to negotiate with the Liberals to keep them in government with our deal on health care but they refused. We actually extended the opportunity to change the path they were moving toward and they refused to negotiate. They were behaving like the current administration.

When it came time to vote in the House of Commons, there were not enough NDP votes to prop up the Liberals because independent members voted against them. The Liberals cannot even do simple basic math. Surprise, surprise.

Liberals members want to blame everyone else for their misfortunes. At the end of the day, Canadians defeated their administration because they were sick and tired of the constant empty promises and most importantly, because they were sick and tired of the Liberals ignoring the greatest needs of Canadians.

We have been left with the current environment of Liberals continuing to feel sorry for themselves. They expect some empathy from Canadian citizens but at the same time they prop up the current administration for their own benefit without any type of hesitation whatsoever. They have been explicitly doing that under their current leader and will probably still do that under their new slate of leaders now sitting in the House. Liberal self-interest always comes first. Nothing has changed over there.

I once again remind the Liberals that they did not actually work in a forthright way to negotiate a change in health care. They brought themselves down.

I do want to speak to the government's current fiscal plan, which is a clear gutting of Canada's capacity. The slew of corporate tax cuts are once again being supported by the Liberals. This was originally started by the member for LaSalle—Émard, who is always missing from the House of Commons.

Budget Implementation Act, 2008Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Bill Blaikie

Order. The member knows that he is not supposed to refer to the presence or particularly the absence of members of the House of Commons. I would ask him not to do that anymore.

Budget Implementation Act, 2008Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I retract that and appreciate that correction.

I do want to talk about what the budget is going to do to the manufacturing sector. We have seen a record number of job losses over the last number of years. It is not a current crisis that has emerged over the last year. This has been several years in the making where we basically witnessed a strategy of saying that reducing tax cuts would actually lead to economic development, and growth and prosperity in the manufacturing sector.

That is not the case because we witnessed the decline of that industry because of a whole series of issues related to trade and tariff and non-tariff barriers, as well as unfair competition. It is also reflected in the changing technologies where we have not been supportive and where other countries have done that to ensure they take advantage of it.

What has happened is that we have eroded ourselves. For example, in the automotive sector, we were actually number four in the world in terms of producing and assembling automotive vehicles. Now we are actually down to tenth. The slide will continue as the government continues to negotiate a Korea trade deal which will be at the expense of the automotive industry.

I want to pay particular attention to a couple of aspects of the budget affecting the automotive industry which are very important. The first is the feebate program which we were happy to see cancelled. This eco-feebate program, for those who are not familiar with it, literally saw millions of dollars of Canadians' money wasted, some of it actually going to those who produced automotive vehicles in Japan, Korea and other countries abroad. This program cost $116 million over two years. We were glad to see this program gutted at the end of the day and cancelled, but I was very disappointed with the Minister of Finance who did not rollover those funds into a specific automotive strategy.

What the Conservatives have done instead is kept the component which has the tax on vehicles which will go to many Canadian manufacturers and that is roughly estimated at $50 million a year. They cut $116 million out of automotive, kept in an extra tax, and now have introduced and maintained a current tax on automotive, and from tax rolled out another $250 million program over five years. It is a $50 million program over five years. That is just coming from the tax, so they have really gutted the automotive component and support.

This is at a time when even parts manufacturers were looking at some type of an investment strategy. We have seen a lost opportunity with the automotive sector and we are going to completely witness its demise if we do not come out with a practical strategy. The strategy has to come with an investment arm and I would argue it has to be more complicated than what the province of Ontario is suggesting. It has to have greater accountability when it comes to job creation, components to technology as well as accountability.

I would also argue that the federal government is wrong by not having that actual strategy compared, evaluated and supported by a trade strategy. That is very important because the Minister of International Trade is pursuing a deal with South Korea. This is ironically the star candidate from the Liberals who crossed the floor in the House of Commons just after losing out in a general election but winning his seat back.

This deal has been condemned unilaterally, just basically across the board by many groups and organizations including the auto industry because there are several factors not taking place in terms of the consideration of how we actually ship vehicles to Korea. We have only a few hundred vehicles that get there, but the Koreans get hundreds of thousands that can be put into the Canadian market. That is not fair. We have to have some sense of balance. With that we are expecting to see some type of change.

Regarding the budget there was no understanding or appreciation with regard to the tool and die, mould making and parts sector. We have seen that the capital cost reduction allowance is going to be diminished by the government over the next three years. We fought hard on this issue at the industry committee. We actually committed to work together and created a report with over 20 different recommendations, many of which were shelved. However, one of the ones we were pleased about was the capital cost reduction allowance.

The government only came in with terms of a two-year program, but it was not sufficient because many decisions had already been made about investment at that point in time. What we want is the third, the fourth and the fifth year. So we went for two years which is only a small window but it was helpful to some degree. We were appreciative of that.

There were actual projects that got underway that are very helpful. But the fact of the matter is that the Conservatives are now phasing out this strategy, so what we will see is a devolution of this as an opportunity to invest back into Canada.

I do not care what the personalities are, but I am sick and tired of listening to the battle going on between the province of Ontario and the federal government. It seems to be a war of personalities more than actually working to create an opportunity for economic development.

That apparently goes back 10 years, but it does not matter, because the fact of the matter is that we need an automotive strategy. For many years, we in the NDP have been proposing that through a green transportation strategy. We would like to see movement on that. The budget does not do it. Instead, we see a complete erosion of the fiscal capacity of Canada, to the point that when we have to respond next time, it is going to be more challenging.

Hence, one of the key elements that we see as taking advantage of people and as egregious is the fact that the government is changing the employment insurance system to basically rob workers and employers of all the money in contributions they have put in over the years. From the previous administration, and going back several years, we know that the fund is up around $57 billion in terms of employment insurance. Now that system will be basically robbed and the government will be putting in a $2 billion program.

I am from a city that has been struggling with the recovery of manufacturing and trying to go forward, and I can tell members that retraining and opportunity are very important. With this employment insurance decision, when areas have greater losses of jobs and there will be a squeeze on the funds, I am willing to bet the number one thing that will happen is that we will see a reduction of workers' hours and a reduction of eligibility.

It will be just as it is now. Many people who pay into the system can never take advantage of it because they are working at part time jobs or they do not have enough consecutive weeks. We see it every day in my constituency. People do not meet the qualifications any more because the bar has been set far higher than the hours they can work or achieve in the current market. That is wrong, because people need an opportunity to be retrained and they need to have faith and hope that supports will be there for them and their families.

As for what is happening right now, we only have to look at a few industries to see examples. A lot of people just assume that we should go high tech, that we should do the high end of things and make sure that we will be the best in the world. I can tell members that this is happening right now in our tool and die and mould-making sector. Windsor and Essex County are the best in the world, there is no doubt about it, but they are significantly challenged because of the lack of automotive decision making and the procurement decisions that have happened, as well as being blocked from other markets, intellectual property theft, and a whole series of things.

All we have to do is tour some of these plants and we literally will see that work that used to be done in this area, which was the best in the world, is now sent overseas to China and to other places, and sometimes it has to be sent back to be fixed at our own plants here.

However, here is what that has done. It has meant layoffs for workers in our community, workers who have good skills and abilities unmatched across the world. Some people think we can just lower the wages by a couple of dollars, but that will not make a difference at all. We could lower it to $10 an hour on a job. If we do not have access to the market, it will not make a difference.

That is just like the corporate tax cuts we see right now. As tool and die and mould-making companies are struggling to get buy, a reduction in taxes does not help them. They need targeted, specific, developed plans. One plan, for example, needs to deal with some of their funding. When they make arrangements with the auto sector, they do not get paid for a year or a year and a half for their actual projects, so they have a problem getting access to capital from banks and large loan centres, or they have to pay extra interest, which becomes an inefficiency.

We need the federal government and the province to work together on a strategy that eliminates this type of non-cooperation with regard to the fiscal arrangements and also to make sure that there are going to be supports there, so that when workers are the best in the world and are actually trained, they will have access to the markets that are being penetrated over here.

I have to say that I cannot support the budget. There is a whole series of reasons behind that. It is not just the economic sector and the manufacturing sector, but I want to be very clear about what will happen if we do not seize the opportunity. Despite the fact that we have a lot of unemployment and despite the fact that a lot of change is happening, if there is a real interest in being involved with this, there can be significant change.

Canadians have done their part. The people in my constituency of Windsor West have shown consistently that they are the best in the world in terms of producing and manufacturing automobiles and all the component parts. They win awards on a routine basis. I am very proud of their accomplishments.

However, they cannot do it alone. They need fair trading practices and a government which recognizes that other countries are doing these things at their expense. Even the countries next door, such as the United States, for example, have several favourable clauses under our NAFTA agreement that protect their industries at the expense of Canadians.

We cannot pretend that this is going to go away. We have to deal with it. This budget does not do that.

Budget Implementation Act, 2008Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is absolutely correct when he talks about the United States protecting some of its industries when it comes to free trade talks. The hon. member will know that in every free trade agreement the United States has entered since 1924 it has always exempted shipbuilding and marine services from those free trade talks.

In fact, when the United States negotiated with Canada in the 1980s, one of the first things it exempted was shipbuilding and marine services, yet we did not do that in our country and now we see the result, which is the decline of the industry in our country. Even though there has been a report sitting on the desk of the Minister of Industry since 2001 and we have had four ministers since then, we still have not seen any movement on this file.

I wonder if the hon. member would like to elaborate. He comes from an auto area and I come from a shipbuilding area, but the problems are literally the same in regard to the lack of action and planning by the government.

Budget Implementation Act, 2008Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I had an opportunity to be in Halifax and tour the shipyards on a couple of occasions. I talked with the workers there and I can tell members that we have the best in the world here. I have heard a few Conservatives say today that we must have freedom of movement of labour and that those individuals there should basically pick up and ship out.

However, what I can tell members is that if we do not change the way we trade and the way we actually have accountability, we will continue to lose out on good, skilled people and also on the infrastructure that is important for our national security. For heaven's sake, how can a country like Canada, from coast to coast to coast with so much water, not have the capacity to build and maintain some of its own ships? That we are going to have to farm this out is unacceptable.

I know that the hon. member has fought for this, but it needs to be understood, not only in terms of an issue related to employment, training and the capacity of the country to actually be involved in something, but also because it is a national security issue. We must have our shipyards for Canadians to protect Canadian interests.

Budget Implementation Act, 2008Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

Penny Priddy NDP Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, I think one of the things we have long known across this country when communities are in difficult economic times, and I would certainly describe the city of Windsor and the member's riding in that way from the number of manufacturing jobs lost, is that we most frequently see an increase in partner abuse and an increase in child abuse.

Could the member tell me if that in fact is happening in his city and if indeed there are services being provided, or if services have been cut back and will not meet the needs of those people?

Budget Implementation Act, 2008Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is always a challenge for social services during a downturn. There is no doubt about it.

Ironically, with this budget the Conservative government is actually reducing what we can get on a return for a charitable donation. Because the Conservatives have tied it to the income tax bracket, what has happened is that the for amount of money we give to charities we are going to get less back this year than we did last year. The government has not decoupled that. Basically what it is going to do to Canadians is that as we give to charity, we are going to get less back, so it is a double whammy.

I can say that when it comes to our city and area we also have been hurt by the thickening of the Canada-U.S. border. We have witnessed a loss in trade for some of the tourism as well as some of the other activities for which Americans came over to Canada. They would visit and partake not only in the lifestyles but also in commerce and social functions. That has actually put other charities at risk. That is a shame.

I have a private member's bill that actually looks at reforming the charitable tax act of Canada. I wish the government would adopt that as opposed to a general corporate tax cut, because that would put more money back in people's pockets and more money into charities and not for profit organizations such as the United Way and the VON, which do good work for Canadians as opposed to having that money sent overseas.

Budget Implementation Act, 2008Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Bill Blaikie

That will bring to an end the five minute question and comment period and bring us fortuitously to statements by members.

ImmigrationStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Bruce Stanton Conservative Simcoe North, ON

Mr. Speaker, our ability to attract the best and brightest from around the world is a great advantage for Canada, for our economy, and for our way of life, so I am glad that our government is taking great strides to get more skilled workers here sooner and reunite immigrant families faster.

When the Liberals were in office, Canada's immigration queue went from 50,000 to 800,000 people. Skilled workers and family members who would bring great advantage to Canada were facing a six year wait time and just giving up on Canada.

Again it is a Liberal problem we are going to fix, just like we cut the $975 Liberal landing fee in half and righted the historic wrong of the Chinese head tax.

Our government is acting to help newcomers succeed. We are going to reduce that backlog so more skilled workers and families can build a great future here in Canada.

10,000 Trees for the RougeStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Lui Temelkovski Liberal Oak Ridges—Markham, ON

Mr. Speaker, Sunday, April 27, marks the 19th anniversary of 10,000 Trees for the Rouge, a community initiative to reforest the Rouge Valley.

Covering 47 square kilometres in the eastern part of the greater Toronto area on lands that border the surrounding municipalities, including part of my riding, the Rouge Valley is an important green space in the most urbanized area of Canada. So far, the 10,000 Trees campaign has reforested over 140 acres of land.

Last year, 2,000 people volunteered to preserve the beauty of the Rouge through the planting of 5,000 trees. In previous years, my wife, children and I planted trees alongside many of my constituents.

This being one of the largest single-day tree planting initiatives in Canada, the volunteers for 10,000 Trees deserve our appreciation, recognition and many thanks.

Social HousingStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Christian Ouellet Bloc Brome—Missisquoi, QC

Mr. Speaker, after UNESCO, it falls to the Union des municipalités du Québec to denounce the social housing situation. In a news release, UMQ stresses the importance of increasing the amount of affordable housing for families, seniors and people with specific housing needs.

Building community housing not only improves housing conditions, but also, and above all, improves living conditions for low-income families.

The Union des municipalités du Québec points out how urgent it is that we construct this type of housing in urban areas. In urban areas, the less fortunate have more difficulties in finding adequate housing. By supporting social housing, we support the population in small municipalities.

It is imperative that the Conservative government use part of the CMHC surplus to build affordable social housing.

Chuck BaileyStatements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Penny Priddy NDP Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, the most important thing a person can do is make a difference in the life of a child.

Chuck Bailey died on March 20 of this year after a lifetime of making a difference, dedicating more than 50 years to little league baseball as a pioneer of the Whalley Little League.

Chuck built a league that today is famous across the country. Over the years, he coached two Whalley teams to the Little League World Series and helped win 160 championships.

Chuck built more than a league. He built a family. Many of the youth he coached are themselves coaches today. In 2006 Chuck said:

I love the game. It's nice to see the smiles on the kids' faces. And when you see their tears you feel like crying too because they try so hard.

At Chuck's service, people wore their ball caps and jackets and afterward went to the ballpark, sat in the bleachers and ate hamburgers and smokies. How fitting.

I know Chuck will be with us when we throw out the first pitch of the 2008 little league season on Saturday, and we will all tip our hats to him.

Juno AwardsStatements By Members

April 7th, 2008 / 2 p.m.

Conservative

Jim Abbott Conservative Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, last night in Calgary, comedian Russell Peters hosted the 37th annual Juno Awards. This annual event celebrates the best in Canadian music, and do we ever have a lot to celebrate.

Whether an emerging artist or an international superstar, from this year's Hall of Fame inductees, Triumph, to last night's big winners, the artists honoured have one thing in common: they are talent we are proud to call Canadian.

The gathering of all these talented people on the same stage is eloquent testimony to the excellence of their work. The trophies awarded to these artists are undeniable proof of the public's appreciation of them.

I ask members to please join me in congratulating all Juno award winners, nominees and performers. May our Canadian music stars continue to shine brightly both at home and on the international scene.

Human RightsStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Anita Neville Liberal Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, last week the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations made a decision to reinstate David Ahenakew to its senate, in spite of his despicable and hateful remarks about Jews. The Minister of Indian Affairs appropriately expressed disappointment with the federation's decision to reinstate Mr. Ahenakew and stated that the government would be reviewing its funding commitments with the federation. The minister said:

The past comments by this person have been very hurtful and inappropriate and go against absolutely everything that this country stands for.

Past comments by many members of the government have been hateful, inappropriate and go against everything this House stands for, as we saw with one stunning story about the member for Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre regarding hateful comments he made about the gay community in 1991.

On Friday the government House leader said that he believes the matter is closed.

Why is there a double standard? As an article in the Regina Leader-Post put it:

At the end of the day, we must be consistent. We can't cherry pick our principles.

HealthStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Steven Fletcher Conservative Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia, MB

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to stand in the House today to recognize World Health Day. This year's focus is on the adverse effects of climate change on human health.

This government understands that as a northern country Canada is particularly vulnerable to a changing climate. That is why we have invested $85.9 million in our new adaptation on climate change strategy. Under the strategy we will implement several new initiatives that will complement our Turning the Corner action plan that will aggressively combat climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

For 13 years the previous Liberal government failed every day. Let there be no doubt that on this World Health Day and every day this Conservative government is serious about improving the health and the environment of Canadians. I am proud to say that we are getting the job done.

Quebec Community Credit NetworkStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, the Réseau québécois du crédit communautaire is a network of 24 organizations from across Quebec. A good number of its clients are women and people under the age of 35. More than 50% of the clients of the organizations in this network have no jobs and even no income.

Community credit is an innovative way to meet the needs of the unemployed, of people receiving social assistance, and of low-income workers who want to take their place in society. Community credit does not simply fill the gap left by financial institutions. It is primarily a development resource that enables marginalized people to access funding for individual and group business projects, or for self-employment.

The Bloc Québécois would like to acknowledge community credit, which is part of solidarity financing in Quebec and is an indispensable complement to traditional types of financing.

Jake WarrenStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai Conservative Calgary East, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to honour Mr. Jake Warren who passed away last Tuesday, and to recognize his long service to Canada.

Known as “Mr. Trade and Commerce”, Mr. Warren was one of Canada's most important public servants of the past four decades.

Mr. Warren served for our nation in World War II and then as a senior official in the public service. In 1964 Mr. Warren was appointed deputy minister of the Department of Industry, Trade and Commerce. He went on to serve as high commissioner to Britain, ambassador to the United States and as ambassador to the Tokyo round of the world trade negotiations.

Mr. Warren was instrumental in shaping Canada's most important trading partnership, our trade relations with the United States.

He received the Public Service Outstanding Achievement Award in 1975 and was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1982.

In recognition of his important contributions to Canada, I ask that all members of the House join me in paying tribute to this devoted servant of our beloved nation.

HealthStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in recognition of World Health Day. This year's theme focuses on the protection of global health from the adverse effects of climate change.

The effects of climate change on human health are becoming increasingly clear. More and more people are dying from extreme weather events.

The variation, incidence and spread of diseases are more likely to be affected by changing weather patterns. These impacts disproportionately affect vulnerable populations, including the young, elderly, medically infirm, poor, and isolated people.

I therefore call on the government to become a proactive participant in efforts to address climate change in order to safeguard the health of our citizens.

Quebec City ArmouryStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Luc Harvey Conservative Louis-Hébert, QC

Mr. Speaker, Quebec City, a UNESCO designated world heritage site, has just suffered a terrible tragedy. Its historic armoury, an architectural jewel and guardian of the military tradition of the Voltigeurs, the oldest French-speaking unit in the Canadian army, was lost to fire during the night of April 4, 2008.

The armoury was built in 1887 and declared a national historic site in 1986. The loss of the armoury is a very serious matter for this government and we believe that heritage remains a key factor in the management of our nation's affairs.

I would like to commend the remarkable work of the brave firefighters who battled the flames and helped the members of the museum's conservation team ensure the safeguarding of over 90% of the artifacts.

This government recognizes the immeasurable value of this historic armoury and remains committed to action, whose ultimate aim will always be the protection and preservation of our national heritage.

Louis HarrisStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, on March 22, 2008 at the age of 87 Louis Harris passed away peacefully. Mr. Harris was a proud Canadian who served in World War II with the Essex Scottish Regiment.

During his service in Normandy, Louis was injured when he was struck by shrapnel at multiple parts of his body, but was saved from greater harm as one piece was blocked by the book Jewish Thoughts, which his grandmother had given to him on his departure from home. It was tucked into his breast pocket for safe keeping.

When Louis returned he continued his service to Canada by volunteering all his life. As a member of the Royal Canadian Legion he was a founding member and past president of Branch 578, honorary life member of both the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars and was a recipient of many awards including the prestigious Palm Leaf.

Louis was a loyal member of CAW local 444 working to provide for his family and community.

Louis was married to Mary, née DesRosiers, for 61 years, and the cherished father of Linda, Bonnie, Pam, Wayne, the late David, Gale, Danny, Barbara and Patrick. He is also survived by his 12 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

My condolences to Mary and all the Harris family. I will miss Louis' smile, laugh and determined resolve to build a better world. He did his part through and true.

Community MicroSkills Development CentreStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Yasmin Ratansi Liberal Don Valley East, ON

Since 1984 the Community MicroSkills Development Centre has provided settlement, training, employment and self-employment services to newcomers with a focus on visible minorities, low income women and youth.

This non-profit charitable organization helps newcomers negotiate the labyrinth of regulations so that they can get their skills recognized. They also encourage people to participate in the community to advance the goals of social and economic equality.

May 22 will mark the 11th anniversary of the MicroSkills Annual Awards Gala which will celebrate women entrepreneurs, corporate partnership and leadership among women and youth.

I encourage all members of the House to join me in recognizing the vital role the MicroSkills organization plays in encouraging newcomers to become active participants and productive contributors to Canadian society.