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House of Commons Hansard #89 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was application.

Topics

7:10 p.m.

Independent

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

Mr. Speaker, first of all, I reject the first remark made by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Social Development, although it does not surprise me. I reject it because no member of this House is more important than any other. I have no doubt that we all have the best interests of our constituents at heart. It is quite unpleasant to hear what she just said to me.

As for seniors, as everyone knows, our debt ranks as the lowest among industrialized countries. The Conservatives will not stop boasting about it. So why did they not use the surplus to help seniors, in particular, instead of using that money to pay down the debt? It is the responsibility of a government to redistribute wealth and take care of the common good. Why did the Conservatives fail to do so, when they had the perfect opportunity?

7:10 p.m.

Conservative

Lynne Yelich Conservative Blackstrap, SK

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure this evening to let all Canadians know that the government is doing a lot for seniors. It is an impressive record and one worth talking about.

The government cares deeply about seniors, which is why we introduced pension income splitting. We raised the GIS earned income exemption from $500 to $3,500, which will allow seniors to continue working if they want to. This will let them keep more of their hard-earned money and that is why we have proposed such measures as a tax free savings account.

We have cut the GST from 7% to 6%, to 5% in the two years we have been elected and we did this for all Canadians. This has been a major tax cut for low income seniors because often it is only the federal tax that the seniors pay.

I am thankful to my friend across the aisle for again allowing me the opportunity to remind and discuss the government's accomplishments for Canadian seniors.

7:10 p.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, unfortunately, today it feels as though I am reading the weekly newspaper obituaries. Despite each adjournment debate on questions we asked a few months ago about the manufacturing sector, day after day, more businesses are closing and hundreds of jobs are lost, while the government does absolutely nothing.

I remember that on January 31 we asked what concrete action would be taken by the federal government. At the time, a budget surplus of $10 billion had already been announced. The Conservative government had a choice: it could pay down the debt, or put some towards paying down the debt and use the rest to stimulate the economy. It chose to throw it all at the debt, a real obsession of this government.

Today we can see the results. In all regions of Quebec—yesterday in the Sherbrooke region, last week in the Montreal region, or a few weeks ago in my region, the Lower St. Lawrence—businesses are shutting down. However, the federal government has not put forward an action plan for the manufacturing industry. The Government of Quebec, which has much more limited financial means—since the fiscal imbalance has yet to be corrected—is trying to create a plan. But this plan would have to be backed up by a similar one from the federal government. This has not happened.

In January, when I asked the question, the Prime Minister was still saying that the $1 billion trust would be part of the budget and that we would have to vote in favour of the budget to have it adopted. The negative reaction was so strong that he had to backtrack and agree to have a separate vote for the $1 billion, and that was done.

That is why today, I am raising the issue again and I am telling the government that the need for action in response to the crisis in the manufacturing and forestry industries is as urgent as ever. In Quebec and Ontario, the crisis has been aggravated by the rising cost of petroleum, of gasoline, which has resulted in even more undue competition for our manufacturers.

Earlier, the parliamentary secretary said that the government had cut the GST. The last GST cut did a lot more to support manufacturing jobs in China than it did to strengthen our own manufacturing industries.

We expected the government to move forward. Today, we are reiterating demands from union members and the groups that represent them, as well as from employers, such as Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. They are all calling for additional measures. Perrin Beatty, a former Conservative minister, expressed his support for these demands, as did Jason Myers, executive director of Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters, and major unions.

In closing, what I would like to know is, has the government finally realized that the crisis in the manufacturing sector is a real problem and that it must put all of the tools in its toolbox to try to deal with this problem?

7:15 p.m.

Blackstrap Saskatchewan

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, first of all, I strongly disagree with the member's assertion that the government is not supporting communities affected by the loss of manufacturing jobs.

I want to thank the member for giving me the opportunity to highlight all of the positive steps this government has taken since we have taken office.

We continue to work with all the provinces and territories to help them deal with the economic challenges they are facing. For example, in January we announced a $1 billion community development trust. This investment will support communities and workers who are affected by international economic volatility.

Furthermore, the government moved quickly to pass Bill C-41. We did this so that payments through the trust could be provided. Bill C-41 was supported by all parties in the House, including the Bloc Québécois.

Through the trust, the provinces will receive a base amount of $10 million and the territories $3 million, with the balance being provided on an equal per capita basis.

As a result, Quebec will get $216 million to help its communities and workers. The Province of Quebec can use the money provided in the community development trust to invest in job training and skills development, to support the development of community transition plans, and to support initiatives that help diversify local economies.

Budget 2008 went even further by building on funding that was provided by the community development trust. It did so by providing an additional $90 million to extend the targeted initiative for older workers to 2012 to help older workers stay in the workforce.

It also provides $10 million over two years to Natural Resources Canada to promote Canada's forestry sector in international markets as a strong model of environmental innovation and sustainability.

Furthermore, it allocates $72 million over two years to farm programs. It improves access to $3.3 billion in potential cash advances to Canadian farmers.

I question why the member is ignoring the fact that since 2006 we have provided key support for the manufacturing and forestry sectors.

We are also helping manufacturers and processors, including those in Quebec, through the Advantage Canada framework by helping them to better invest and compete.

For example, the government will provide over $9 billion in tax relief by 2012-13, including broad-based tax reductions.

Through the community development trust, as well as other measures introduced in budget 2008, this government is helping the manufacturing sector in Quebec, as well as all communities across Canada that are affected by global economic uncertainty.

7:20 p.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, I would like the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Social Development to explain to me how the government can provide support to the tune of $2,000 for each job lost in Quebec and $20,000 for each job lost in Alberta. Is that equity?

Could the government not have used tools such as refundable tax credits? It is lowering taxes for companies that make hefty profits, such as the oil companies. But it is not giving refundable tax credits to companies that are barely keeping afloat and are not turning a profit, companies that could use refundable tax credits to invest and offer competitive products.

Why did the government decide to use $10 billion to pay down the debt when the manufacturing industry is in crisis and over 100,000 jobs have been lost in recent years? Is that how the Conservative government has provided “key support” since early 2006?

7:20 p.m.

Conservative

Lynne Yelich Conservative Blackstrap, SK

Mr. Speaker, all the member has to do is look at the facts. When it comes to job creation, Quebec had its best showing in five years in 2007 and was above the national average.

In fact, employment in the province of Quebec has increased by over 140,000 since our government took office. Recently, Morgan Stanley announced that it will be creating 500 new, high paying jobs in Montreal. Overall, over three-quarters of a million new jobs have been created since we have formed the government, 80% of which are full time. The unemployment rates of Canada and Quebec, and Quebec is included in Canada, remain near 33 year lows. Employment is up in every region.

The Conservative government's policies are working. The job creation numbers speak for themselves.

I see that the member did not stay to listen to my final remarks.

7:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

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 7:22 p.m.)