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House of Commons Hansard #24 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was workers.

Topics

Guaranteed Income SupplementOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, our government has done a lot to help seniors because they are the ones who built our country.

We have already raised the age credit by $1,000. We have another $1,000 increase in there for them. We have provided for pension splitting. We have set up a ministry for seniors to address elder abuse because that is particularly important. We are looking at a lot of other ways in which we can help them achieve financial independence and security, including things we have already done, such as making it easier to access the GIS and increasing the amount they are eligible for.

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

March 5th, 2009 / 2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Ève-Mary Thaï Thi Lac Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, Canadian and Mexican human rights organizations disapprove of the new Mexican ambassador to Canada who demonstrated a casual attitude and intolerable indifference with respect to the murder and rape of several women while he was governor of the state of Chihuahua.

How could the Minister of Foreign Affairs accept the credentials of Barrio Terrazas, when he is coming to Canada with a past that makes him unworthy of this position?

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Thornhill Ontario

Conservative

Peter Kent ConservativeMinister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas)

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for her exaggerated characterization of the question.

Mr. Barrio Terrazas' nomination by President Calderón and his confirmation by the Mexican Congress was accepted by Canada. The Prime Minister has built a strong relationship with President Calderón over the years. President Calderón is championing deep reforms of the judicial sector and human rights institutions in his country.

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Claude DeBellefeuille Bloc Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, there have been more accusations concerning the situation of domestic workers. These women are vulnerable to blackmail, economic and sometimes sexual exploitation by their employers, who they cannot leave. These women are often isolated and in an extremely fragile state.

What is the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism waiting for to implement the Bloc proposals that will end the current requirement that forces these women to live in the employer's home?

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Calgary Southeast Alberta

Conservative

Jason Kenney ConservativeMinister of Citizenship

Mr. Speaker, this is a very important program for those women who use it and it is also important for the employers. We have seen an increase in the number of women and men who arrive in Canada under this program.

I am aware of the concerns raised by the member. I have already asked my officials to advise me on the best way to improve the program in order to better protect the rights of these women and men.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Sgro Liberal York West, ON

Mr. Speaker, the city of Windsor is in a crisis, and the Conservatives are clearly oblivious to the suffering of Canadians. We have just learned that 1,500 jobs have been lost at the local Chrysler plant, 1,500 more Canadians who need help.

When will the minister understand that many families live paycheque to paycheque, and agree to decrease the EI waiting times and increase the benefits for unemployed Canadians?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, we are very aware of the unfortunate layoffs in Windsor and Hamilton, and in my own riding of Haldimand—Norfolk over the last week, as well as so many others across the country.

That is why, in our economic action plan, we included an extension of EI regular benefits by five weeks. That is what Canadians asked us for when we consulted them prior to the budget. We have also included an expansion of the work-sharing program, which we announced today, by an additional 14 weeks, to 52 weeks a year, so that we can preserve jobs. I thank the member opposite for supporting those moves yesterday.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Sgro Liberal York West, ON

Mr. Speaker, one cannot take that to the bank and pay April's mortgage. It is still too little and too late. There is nothing to improve real access and nothing to boost benefits next week.

The minister is out of touch with the real suffering that is going on in many of our communities in Canada. There has been an increase of over 61% in individuals collecting employment insurance in Windsor over the last year, 61%. Why is it that the minister has no real plan to deal with the thousands of newly unemployed Canadians in Windsor and throughout Canada?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, I suggest that the member read what she approved yesterday, because there is a plan. It is called the economic action plan. That is what she approved yesterday in the vote on third reading. That is where we have mapped out how we will help those who have been unfortunate enough to lose their jobs through no fault of their own.

We will provide them with the economic supports of EI for a longer period of time. We will help them get the training for the skills they will need for the jobs of the future so that they can continue to look after their families in a way that will help them for a long time.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Hedy Fry Liberal Vancouver Centre, BC

Mr. Speaker, last month, 68,000 jobs were lost in British Columbia. Yesterday, Canfor cut another 700, compounding an already dire situation in B.C., which in December had a 33% increase in EI recipients, the largest in Canada.

As Canada suffers from what is clearly structural unemployment, the government merely extends EI by five weeks, and that will not cut it.

When will the government admit that its EI plan is failing to protect Canadian workers?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, just today we announced expansion of the work-sharing program. That is part of EI. That is to help preserve jobs by allowing companies that are facing challenges to scale back to four days a week while EI benefits kick in to take care of the employees for the fifth day.

That preserves jobs. That gives companies the chance to come back over the long period of time. We have extended those benefits to 52 weeks and we have made it easier for more companies to qualify more quickly to help more people and to preserve more jobs.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Hedy Fry Liberal Vancouver Centre, BC

Mr. Speaker, the minister's claims contradict the facts. First, the Conservatives ignore job losses, and then they fail to respond.

In B.C., laid-off workers struggle to pay their rent while the government ignores, denies and delays. Yet the minister still insists that waiting times have improved.

What would she say to my constituents who have been waiting for over 55 days for EI?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, it is unfortunate that across the country we are seeing dramatic increases in the number of claims being filed. There is no question that is very serious.

That is why, for some months now, we have been bringing back retired EI employees. We have been reclaiming employees from other departments. We are automating our systems more. We are getting the applications done more quickly.

We will continue to do that so we can get to Canadians the benefits they need and deserve as quickly as possible.

International TradeOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Conservative

Steven Blaney Conservative Lévis—Bellechasse, QC

Mr. Speaker, during these challenging economic times, our government is working tirelessly to create commercial opportunities for Canadian businesses. From signing free trade agreements with Europe and the Americas to opening new trade offices in China and India, our team is working overtime.

Can the Minister of International Trade inform the House of recent initiatives to maintain our leadership in Canadian free trade?

International TradeOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla B.C.

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, today I am pleased to announce that we have reached an agreement with the European Union on the sectors to be covered in negotiations for an economic agreement. The European Union is our second-largest trading partner. A final agreement alone could inject over $12 billion into the Canadian economy. This is good news for Canadian companies and workers. We hope to launch official negotiations as soon as possible.

Automotive IndustryOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, yesterday Chrysler announced the elimination of a production shift at the minivan plant in Windsor, effectively slashing 1,200 jobs and costing more supply jobs later on, and 15% of its Canadian workforce in total has gone.

The headlines say it all: Auto crisis deepens; more jobs slashed; beleaguered manufacturing sector. Yet the minister is on TV from Washington saying he is trying to find “a way that is helpful”. Let me help him out. The answer is a national auto strategy, something promised but never delivered.

When will the government wake up and protect the interests of Canadian auto workers?

Automotive IndustryOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont Alberta

Conservative

Mike Lake ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, obviously when Canadians lose their jobs, Canadian families are affected, and our thoughts are with them.

I do want to just point out that yesterday the hon. member and I sat on a committee and listened to various witnesses talk about the most critical thing, the crucial importance of passing the budget to get the secured credit facility in place, the $12 billion to get the receivables insurance. We heard the parts manufacturers talk about the receivables insurance being so important.

I would remind the hon. member that he actually voted against that budget. Not only did he vote against the budget, but his party delayed it at every opportunity.

Automotive IndustryOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the parliamentary secretary's revisionist theory. It was the Minister of Industry who said that the money for the auto sector was available in December. The contradiction is there. It is clear and present. They do not want to act, and that is the problem.

That answer is not good enough for the thousands of families in Windsor and Essex County that are relying on an auto strategy. The crisis is deepening. It is not good enough for those in Oshawa who, like GM's own auditors, are worried about the future viability. These communities will never be the same. The government is overseeing the death of the auto sector in Canada, and it is killing the communities that rely upon it.

When will the government stop playing the role of pallbearer and act to protect the interests of auto workers across this country?

Automotive IndustryOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont Alberta

Conservative

Mike Lake ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, we heard several things that were important during the committee yesterday. One of the quotes that came out of that committee was from the Canadian Automobile Dealers Association, which said:

...we've been impressed with the fact that finance is absolutely seized with trying to get this program rolling as fast as possible...they seem seized in a very real way, more than I've ever seen before out of finance officials, to try to get this BDC secured credit facility out in the marketplace.

Aboriginal WomenOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Paule Brunelle Bloc Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, the rate of violence against aboriginal women is three times higher than in the general population. According to the president of Quebec Native Women, many women leave their communities to escape violent situations. They are marginalized because they are women and because they are aboriginal.

Does the government realize that it must make massive investments in housing, education and health immediately in order to improve aboriginal women's quality of life and give hope to aboriginal communities?

Aboriginal WomenOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon B.C.

Conservative

Chuck Strahl ConservativeMinister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians

Mr. Speaker, in the course of action plan 2009, we have invested massively in housing. We have invested massively in training and skills development for aboriginal people. In the last budget, we expanded the network of women's shelters in this country.

In the last Parliament, we also passed legislation that included all first nations on reserve under the Canadian Human Rights Act. If the member wants to help women, she can help us pass the matrimonial real property rights act, which would help every woman, child and family in this country have the protection that the rest of society takes for granted, the protection of the law, on reserve.

Aboriginal WomenOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Paule Brunelle Bloc Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, how many houses will be built? How many battered women's centres will be opened? How many transition houses will be built outside these communities? When will the government acknowledge that aboriginal women and their children are desperately poor, and that things are not getting better?

Aboriginal WomenOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon B.C.

Conservative

Chuck Strahl ConservativeMinister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians

Mr. Speaker, here we are again. The hon. member is right that we need to spend some more money on housing to help aboriginal people, yet at every step of the way, she and her party have tried to stop that money from going to first nations.

I do not get it. On the one hand, those members say it is time to invest, so we have record investments in aboriginal people, schools, housing, and skills and development training, but at every step of the way, the Bloc Québécois says that it is not about aboriginal people, it is about them.

Child CareOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

Ken Dryden Liberal York Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, the assumption of the House is that members speak the truth.

I assume that the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development has not been informed, for example, that child care providers in Napanee, Ontario, when asked the number of new spaces opened locally because of her taxable $100-a-month cheques, said, “None”, when asked the number of better spaces, they said, “None”, when asked the number of parents who, with this money, have withdrawn their kids from child care because they can now afford to stay at home, they said, “None. Zero”.

Is the minister aware of just how wrong her information is?

Child CareOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, what I reported yesterday to the hon. member was that we delivered in areas where his party when in government did not. We delivered the universal child care benefit because we believe that parents deserve choice in who raises their children.

I also reported that the provinces receive $250 million a year from us so that they can create child care spaces, because that is their job. They have reported to us that they are creating 60,000 spaces for those parents who choose to put their children into formal day care. We encourage that, as well as the other option of staying home.