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House of Commons Hansard #33 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was benefits.

Topics

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, our government has been very clear in our economic action plan. Times are difficult worldwide. Unfortunately, we are seeing layoffs here of numbers higher than we have seen in many years. That is why we took the step we did in our economic action plan, to extend an extra five weeks of benefits from the pilot project right across the country to speed up the process.

Yesterday we announced $60 million in additional resources to help Canadians, who have been unfortunate enough to lose their jobs, get the benefits they deserve and need in a timely manner.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Savage Liberal Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, that does not do anything for those who do not qualify.

Everybody else seems to know there is a problem here. It is not just opposition parties, it is social policy groups, anti-poverty organizations, labour. Even the C.D. Howe Institute said it was surprised that the government did not do more in the budget to address EI access. Who is left? Apparently, just the Conservative government.

Why will the minister not stop denying the problem, stop the excuses, throw away her misleading statistics, and think of Canadian families who are sitting at kitchen tables abandoned by the government, out of options, and wondering why the EI they paid into for years is not there when they need it now?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, over 80% of Canadians who pay into the EI system are able to collect benefits and they are getting them on time.

We have also extended training, training opportunities for those who are on EI, even for those who are not eligible.

We are protecting jobs so that people do not have to be laid off full time by expanding and lengthening our work sharing program. That is preserving jobs and we are creating them with $12 billion in infrastructure stimulus. That is good for creating and protecting jobs and for looking after those who are unfortunate enough to lose them, and the opposition supported that.

Gun RegistryOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, in the Minister of Public Safety's response here in the House, he confirmed the ideological intent of his government as far as crime is concerned, that is to increase prison sentences while at the same time loosening the rules for gun control.

Is the Prime Minister aware of the disastrous outcome in the United States of the application of a policy identical to the one he is preaching blindly?

Gun RegistryOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, on the contrary, this government supports stringent firearm controls, including permits for all gun owners and registration of restricted weapons. However, a massive registry of all long guns would do nothing but penalize hunters, farmers and aboriginal people. It does nothing to help control crime. This is why we are proposing anti-crime measures.

Gun RegistryOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the rate of imprisonment in the United States is five times that of Canada. At the same time, their homicide rate is triple the Canadian rate.

Does the Prime Minister not get it: the formula “the more people there are in jail, the more weapons there are in circulation” can have but one result: a catastrophic increase in the number of homicides?

Gun RegistryOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Mégantic—L'Érable Québec

Conservative

Christian Paradis ConservativeMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, again this morning, the Minister of Justice announced that a bill will be introduced here in the House to attack the pre-sentencing credit arrangement. We know that the courts are bogged down and that we are fighting crime. We need to look at the whole picture. As for gun control, we are dealing with it, and are aiming at tougher measures as far as gun-related offences and permit issuing are concerned.

It is easy to quote all kinds of facts and figures and to criticize rather than take action, which is the Bloc Québécois approach, but as for us, we are implementing our program against crime and it will be effective.

Gun RegistryOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Ménard Bloc Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Mr. Speaker, the crime rate in Quebec is one of the lowest in Canada, and the homicide rate five times less than the U.S. rate. The battle against crime is waged far better by a whole set of measures, such as well-targeted police actions and prevention programs, than by tougher sentences . Minimum sentences mean nothing to criminals.

Quebec believes that gun control is an essential element in an integrated and effective battle against crime. Why deprive it of this when it is getting better results than others are?

Gun RegistryOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeMinister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, we believe strongly in an integrated fight against crime. The hon. member is right to the extent that more police on the streets help. That is why we provided $400 million for the provinces to fund new police officers. That money is in their hands to do that.

We made a commitment to deliver a thousand new RCMP officers and we have already delivered over 1,500. That is helping.

Handguns are a big part of the drug trade. That is why we are cracking down with new legislation to combat the drug trade and organized crime.

I hope the hon. member will help make that part of the comprehensive combat against crime in Canada.

Gun RegistryOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Ménard Bloc Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Mr. Speaker, Quebec has created joint forces like the Wolverine squad and has achieved spectacular results in the fight against criminal organizations such as the Hell's Angels.

Quebec believes in the motto ”not tough on crime, but smart on crime“. Moreover, the youth crime rate is 50% higher in Canada than it is in Quebec.

Why would Canada not emulate the successes in Quebec rather than the failures in the United States?

Gun RegistryOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Niagara Falls Ontario

Conservative

Rob Nicholson ConservativeMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Québécois is absolutely wrong. We have advocated a comprehensive approach. This is why we have put more money into the national anti-drug strategy for prevention advertising. We understand that it needs a complete approach to this.

We have legislation before this Parliament that deals with problems that the member will find in his own province, in Montreal and in other communities. These are problems with drugs and gangs. Finally, for once the Bloc Québécois should get onside and support these measures.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, under this Conservative government, more than half the people who pay into EI do not actually get it. For all their working lives, Canadians have been told that EI would be there for them if and when they needed it. However, because of changes brought in by the Liberals, tens of thousands of Canadians who have been thrown out of work are no longer eligible.

When will the Prime Minister take steps to implement the concrete measures adopted by this House on March 10 that will provide EI benefits to those who need it?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, I would like to correct the hon. member. The facts are that over 80% of Canadians who pay into employment insurance can collect the benefits. It is getting easier for people to collect benefits, which is the good news. The bad news is that it is because the economy is worsening.

Our system automatically adjusts every month on a regional basis as the local conditions change. When the local conditions get worse, EI gets easier to get and for a longer period of time and with extended benefits to help those most in need when they need it most. I wish the hon. member had supported our efforts to do that.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, the minister knows full well that the number one issue when it comes to EI is eligibility. A five week extension does not help the 57% who do not qualify to begin with.

This House has spoken loudly and clearly that EI eligibility must be reformed but the Prime Minister has refused to listen. That is the same person who said that a prime minister “has a moral responsibility to respect the will of the House”.

I would like to ask the Prime Minister what happened to those morals. Why is he ignoring the will of the House and denying the unemployed the EI benefits they so desperately need?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, why will the hon. member not tell Canadians the real facts, which are that over 80% of people who contribute to EI can collect the benefits? Would she also explain to Canadians why she and her party voted against an additional five weeks of benefits for those who need it most when they need it most? Why is her party opposed to providing training, not just for those who are on EI but for those who do not even qualify for EI so that those people can get the benefit of long term training to get long term jobs to take care of their family? Why would she not support those moves to help Canadians?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, people are worried. The current crisis is hurting them. They expect their government to be there for them. When he was the Leader of the Opposition, the current Prime Minister said it was immoral not to respect the will of Parliament.

Now that he is Prime Minister, why does he no longer have a problem with something he considered immoral when he was Leader of the Opposition? Under what moral standard is the Prime Minister refusing to improve coverage and accessibility to employment insurance, measures that were officially passed here in this House?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the hon. member why he refuses to respect the will of Canadians. The people of Canada asked us for additional weeks at the end of the EI benefits period. That is what they asked us for.

They also asked us for support for training, preparation and instruction in order to return to the work force with the necessary skills. That is what we are delivering.

They voted against all of our efforts.

Forestry IndustryOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, family run small businesses form the foundation of our economy but too often they are forgotten when discussing the economic crisis. In the forestry sector over 400,000 family forest owners are struggling with a decrease in demand and have received little to no support from the government.

Why have the Conservatives not come up with a coherent and targeted plan to assist small woodlot owners and help save their businesses before it is too late? They have had three years.

Forestry IndustryOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Halton Ontario

Conservative

Lisa Raitt ConservativeMinister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, I had the opportunity to meet with representatives of private woodlot owners here in the House yesterday and discuss their concerns. I can tell the House and the hon. member is that one thing is very clear. They do believe in the forest industry and they are grateful for the help and support that this government has been providing since 2007.

I am very pleased that they are appreciative of the fact that we are looking at innovation and marketing as a way to promote this industry and ensure that it is world-class when it is ready to go.

Forestry IndustryOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, in Quebec and the Atlantic provinces, forestry sector workers are anxiously waiting for this evening's decision on the Abitibi-Bowater restructuring. Analysts predict that it will be difficult to reach an agreement on its debt and that its employees will suffer the consequences. One worker at the Laurentide plant in Shawinigan stated that it is as though they have an axe over their heads.

Will the Conservatives help these workers before the axe falls?

Forestry IndustryOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla B.C.

Conservative

Stockwell Day ConservativeMinister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway

Mr. Speaker, we are all concerned about the needs of workers and the Abitibi-Bowater situation. We encourage the company to explore options available, including those provided by Export Development Canada.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Bonnie Crombie Liberal Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

Mr. Speaker, the numbers are staggering of foreclosures, bankruptcies, job losses and severances. Every day we are seeing the painful human face of this recession. In my riding, Ted, a father of four with a wife on disability, is worried that he will lose his home because he cannot get EI. He is 11 hours short of what the government demands.

Why are the Conservatives abandoning thousands of Ontarians like Ted, who worked hard, paid EI premiums, played by the rules and are now left to fend for themselves?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, there is no question that our heart goes out to the Teds of the world right across the country. We took the actions we did in our economic action plan to help people like that. Even when people are not eligible for EI, there are programs to help them get the skills they will need for the jobs of the future and other programs to preserve jobs so that people do not get into that position.

We have expanded the work-sharing and have made it easier to get. We expanded the 38 weeks to 52 weeks to help companies get their employees through the tough times until they can bring them back full time, keep them on payroll and keep their skills going.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Bonnie Crombie Liberal Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

Mr. Speaker, this is no time for empty, cold-hearted Conservative rhetoric. EI claims are skyrocketing in Ontario. Bankruptcies are up 21%, with Ontario facing the biggest impact. In Mississauga, auto workers with 20 to 30 years' seniority have simply been dropped by their companies.

The Conservatives told investors not to invest in Ontario and now they have abandoned Ontario themselves. Why are the Conservatives leaving the provinces to fend for themselves?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, let us be honest here. The Liberals brought in the new system for EI. It was a Liberal program that set up the criteria for eligibility. We are continuing with that program but we are adding to it. We are adding to it so that we can help workers, especially long tenured workers, those who have been in a job, such as the auto sector, for many years and have lost their job but are too young to retire. We are providing them with up to two years of EI support while they invest in new training to keep the jobs of the future so they can transition and look after their families in the long term, even under the rules the Liberals created.