This week, I changed much of the tech behind this site. If you see anything that looks like a bug, please let me know!

House of Commons Hansard #47 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was tax.

Topics

Beau DommageStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Monique Guay Bloc Rivière-du-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, today, Quebec's National Assembly will honour a legendary musical group from Quebec, Beau Dommage, on the occasion of its 35th anniversary. This well-known group was formed in 1973 and released its first album in 1974. Beau Dommage achieved instant success with its eponymous record, which included recordings of Ginette, Le picbois, and the legendary La complainte du phoque en Alaska.

Pierre Bertrand, Marie-Michèle Desrosiers, Réal Desrosiers, Michel Hinton, Pierre Huet, Robert Léger and Michel Rivard are also much loved in France, where they toured in 1977. They performed at the legendary Quebec national holiday concert on Mount Royal in 1976. The group broke up in 1978, but reunited several times over the following years to record new albums and play concerts.

The Bloc Québécois salutes Beau Dommage, whose tunes have been hummed by thousands of Quebeckers over the past few decades.

Workplace SafetyStatements By Members

April 28th, 2009 / 2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Maria Minna Liberal Beaches—East York, ON

Mr. Speaker, today is the National Day of Mourning, remembering Canadians who have been disabled or killed in the workplace, and their families whose lives will never be the same.

Over 1,000 workers were killed last year in workplace incidents and from occupational disease. Thousands more were disabled to such an extent that they had to miss work. On average, four workers are killed each day in Canada due to workplace incidents. Most accidents are preventable and we should be striving to reduce the number of unsafe workplaces.

The government has a role to play in preventing these incidents and assisting those who are disabled due to their occupation. The government should be investigating the health outcomes of occupational incidents on individuals and their families from a social and health related perspective.

I call on members of this House to commit to working toward building a healthier and safer working environment.

Victims of TerrorStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

Rick Dykstra Conservative St. Catharines, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to acknowledge the presence of Canadian victims of terror who are here today as part of the events marking National Victims of Crime Awareness Week.

Events such as the reception hosted by the Canadian Coalition Against Terror this evening in Centre Block help raise awareness for terror victims. As Canadians, we can learn from these victims strength and perseverance, which is a model to us all. Their experience reminds us why Canada must remain vigilant in combatting terror.

I would also like to thank C-CAT for its tireless work representing Canadians who have personally and directly experienced the horrific impact of terrorism. C-CAT is an invaluable organization, ensuring that terror victims are heard and helping our government devise policies to protect Canadians from terror and provide necessary support to all of the victims.

Our government looks forward to continuing to work with C-CAT, working towards a future where no Canadian is a victim of terrorism.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Etobicoke—Lakeshore Ontario

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister is presiding over an unprecedented jobs crisis in Canada. Between October and February, the number of people on employment insurance soared by 22%. February was the worst month for new claims on record, and 610,000 Canadians are now dependent on EI.

What new measures can the Prime Minister offer to help Canadians through this crisis?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, as the House knows, the jobs crisis is, of course, a worldwide crisis. This government has taken a number of important measures. We have extended the EI benefits for all recipients. We have hired new people, close to 900 people, to process EI much more quickly. We have seen a 40% increase in the processing of claims. We have 82% of those paying EI receiving benefits. We have also increased the training both for EI and non-EI recipients. We will continue to do whatever is necessary to help the unemployed and prepare them for the jobs of the future.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Etobicoke—Lakeshore Ontario

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, there is a fundamental problem of eligibility here that the Prime Minister is not addressing. The number of people applying for EI in February was up 19%, but the number who actually received EI was up 8%. So Canadians are losing their jobs, but thousands remain ineligible for EI.

What steps will the Prime Minister take to ensure that these laid-off workers get the help that they are entitled to?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition has to be careful in judging these things from month to month. Over the past year there has been about a 33% increase in both EI beneficiaries and unemployment. The measures we put in place will not only continue to help those who are receiving EI but will in fact lengthen the benefit period for those workers. As well, as we have said, we will train them to make sure they will be ready for the jobs that will come when the recovery comes.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Etobicoke—Lakeshore Ontario

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, my question not having been answered, I shall put it again. The number of people applying for EI in January and February was up 19%, but the number who actually received EI over the same period was up only 8%.

What steps will the Prime Minister take to remedy this unfair situation?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the answer remains the same. One cannot judge the situation based on figures from month to month. The percentage of increase in both EI beneficiaries and unemployment has been the same over the past year.

Let me be very clear, I am not sure what exactly now the Leader of the Opposition is proposing, but I can assure him that what we will not be doing is raising EI premiums and other taxes on Canadians.

HealthOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, this is the first time the risk has risen above phase three on the World Health Organization's six-step pandemic alert system since the current scale was adopted.

How much time does the Minister of Health expect will be required for a swine flu vaccine to be created, mass-produced and distributed to Canadians? What specific preventive measures will the minister take to protect the health of Canadians during the time for which no vaccine is available?

HealthOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Nunavut Nunavut

Conservative

Leona Aglukkaq ConservativeMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, Canada is well positioned to deal with this issue as we have a national plan for disease outbreaks and we are following that. In 2006, our government introduced a pandemic plan and introduced resources to address that. That plan included the stockpiling of vaccines for provinces and territories.

HealthOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Bernard Patry Liberal Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

Mr. Speaker, the government says that migrant seasonal workers undergo extensive medical screening before entering Canada, but everyone knows that viruses know no borders and that symptoms can take several days to appear following an incubation period.

Could the minister tell us whether she has taken steps to have migrant workers screened again after entering Canada?

HealthOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southeast Alberta

Conservative

Jason Kenney ConservativeMinister of Citizenship

Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member indicated, we have worked in cooperation with our Mexican counterparts to ensure that screening takes place before departure. We are currently looking at other options for protecting the health of Canadians, together with all departments, including the Public Health Agency of Canada.

It is my understanding that Canada's border services also have quarantine officers available to assess whether individuals entering Canada pose a public health risk.

Goods and Services TaxOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, on the issue of harmonizing the GST, the Minister of Finance told us that the federal government had no preconditions for compensating Quebec. But in his letter to the newspapers, the finance minister was very clear: “This is the consistent and fair harmonization model that exists in harmonized provinces, which the Charest government can choose to join.”

Will the Prime Minister admit that the Conservatives take the position that the only way Quebec can be compensated is if it transfers responsibility for collecting its sales tax to the federal government, as Ontario and the Maritimes have done?

Goods and Services TaxOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, on the contrary, Quebec signed an agreement a long time ago with a previous government. Under that agreement, the federal government pays the province not once, but every year. To date, the federal government has paid Quebec nearly $2 billion under that agreement.

If the Government of Quebec now wants an agreement like the ones signed with Ontario and the Atlantic provinces, the Minister of Finance already indicated that he was prepared to negotiate such an agreement.

Goods and Services TaxOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, when the federal government collects the tax for the provinces, it does so free of charge. When Quebec collects the tax for the federal government, Ottawa pays for that service. In no way is this compensation. The Prime Minister knows that. This is another excuse the government is using to refuse to give Quebec what it has given the Maritimes and Ontario.

Is that the government's idea of open federalism: setting a condition so that Quebec will drop something it has jurisdiction over?

Goods and Services TaxOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Mégantic—L'Érable Québec

Conservative

Christian Paradis ConservativeMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, that is not it at all. The federal government and Quebec already have an agreement whereby Quebec collects the federal tax. That is why Quebec has received nearly $2 billion—$1.77 billion, to be exact.

Quebec sent signals that it was prepared to fully harmonize its tax. Since then, our position has not changed: we are prepared to negotiate in good faith.

Goods and Services TaxOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Yves Laforest Bloc Saint-Maurice—Champlain, QC

Mr. Speaker, the list of disagreements between Quebec and Ottawa continues to grow. In addition to Ottawa's refusal to compensate Quebec for harmonizing its sales tax there is its unilateral amendment of the equalization formula and unfair treatment of Hydro-Québec revenues. Altogether, this is costing Quebec nearly $4 billion. Quite the opposite is true for Ontario, which is raking in billions of dollars from Ottawa.

Can the Minister of Finance explain to us why it is so difficult to be fair to Quebec?

Goods and Services TaxOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Mégantic—L'Érable Québec

Conservative

Christian Paradis ConservativeMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, my colleague was talking about the harmonization issue. Let us be clear. Quebec sent signals that it was open to complete harmonization. As we have said, we will negotiate in good faith. This is not about disagreement; it is about commitment in good faith.

Goods and Services TaxOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Yves Laforest Bloc Saint-Maurice—Champlain, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is quite unfortunate, but the list of injustices on the part of the federal government towards Quebec does not end there. Altogether, they are worth over $6 billion—$6 billion that the Government of Quebec really needs to fulfill its responsibilities in these tough times.

Will the Minister of Finance admit that the federal government, whether Conservative or Liberal, only cares about the interests of Canada and Ontario, and to heck with Quebec's interests?

Goods and Services TaxOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Mégantic—L'Érable Québec

Conservative

Christian Paradis ConservativeMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, it is terrible to say such things. Since we came to power, there has been open federalism. Who corrected the fiscal imbalance? This Minister of Finance did, in budget 2007. Who gave Quebec a seat at UNESCO? The Conservative government. Promises made; promises kept.

That being said, we committed to negotiating in good faith, and that is what we will do. I wish they would stop exaggerating all kinds of problems in an attempt to destroy the federation. That is not what people want. Most Quebeckers want Quebec to remain within Canada.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, the number of people receiving employment insurance rose by only 100,000 since the fall, even though 350,000 have been laid off since the election. More than 200,000 unemployed workers are not covered by EI. The reality is that the rules are unfair and that workers do not qualify.

Exactly 50 days ago today, the House adopted an NDP motion to improve employment insurance. Where are the measures called for and where is the assistance?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we have to remember certain facts. For example, many workers receive severance pay immediately after losing their jobs. They apply for employment insurance after that runs out. That is why there is a difference between the unemployment and employment insurance figures from time to time. In reality, more than 80% of workers will receive employment insurance. It is a good system and this government has improved it.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has just pointed out that when people lose their jobs, they are going to get penalized under the system that we have got here. We have more than 350,000 people thrown out of work since the election and a lot more people need help, but less people are eligible than ever.

Let us go back to the last recession. Eight out 10 people who were out of work at that time were able to get help from EI. Now it is less than half. Something is wrong with the system and it should be fixed. Fifty days ago in the House a motion was adopted to establish what should be done.

The Prime Minister used to say that he had a moral obligation, or any prime minister did, to respect the House. When is he going to respect the House, but more importantly, the people--

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The right hon. Prime Minister.