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House of Commons Hansard #83 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was unemployed.

Topics

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

September 17th, 2009 / 2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Jennings Liberal Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives have convinced the New Democrats that their mini-reform of employment insurance would help 190,000 unemployed workers, but Canadians are not fooled. Adding benefit weeks beyond the current limit will help a lot fewer people than what is predicted.

How can we trust the Conservatives and their numbers, when they are always full of hot air?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, I remind members that this summer, Liberals and Conservatives formed a panel to find solutions to the problems of the unemployed. We submitted a number of proposals to this panel which aimed to help people, especially long-tenured workers. However, the Liberals ignored them and wanted to speak only of one thing: the idea of a 45-hour work week, which is unacceptable.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Jennings Liberal Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, the minister is misleading the House.

First, the Conservatives did not submit any proposals to the EI working group. Second, she has admitted that she told her officials to stop analyzing the costs of the various Liberal proposals—I repeat, the various Liberal proposals.

When the Conservatives say that the unemployed give up when they lose their jobs, they are treating them like freeloaders.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, let us be realistic here. We submitted several proposals, including one that would help long-tenured workers, as we tabled in the House this week.

The Liberals had no interest in that. They had no interest in helping the unemployed. That is perhaps why they walked out. That is perhaps why they did not show up for the briefing yesterday on Bill C-50, which will help long-tenured workers receive five to twenty weeks more benefits, while they look for work.

We are supporting them. The Leader of the Opposition is not.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

John McCallum Liberal Markham—Unionville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the finance minister. Does the increase in employment insurance premiums, beginning in 2011, constitute a tax increase, yes or no?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Macleod Alberta

Conservative

Ted Menzies ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the simple answer to that is no.

Let me remind Canadians what happened to the notional surplus that was in the EI fund years ago. It is gone. Those people who paid into it never got it back. We provided an arm's-length board to manage that, so this can never happen again.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

John McCallum Liberal Markham—Unionville, ON

Mr. Speaker, he says the answer is “no”, but even the dullest former student of mine in economics 101 knows that the true answer is yes. Let us take another tack.

Yesterday, the minister said that unemployment insurance premiums would increase starting in 2011. How much will they increase?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Macleod Alberta

Conservative

Ted Menzies ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned in my previous answer, there was trouble when we got here and saw where the EI fund was at. We have put in place an arm's-length board so a repeat performance of what the Liberals tricked Canadians with cannot happen again.

That board will make the decisions on what the EI premiums will be. We will leave that up to the board. Unlike the Liberals, we do not like to tinker with things like that. We think an impartial board is the right one to make that decision.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Yves Lessard Bloc Chambly—Borduas, QC

Mr. Speaker, according to the OECD and the Royal Bank, Canada's unemployment rate will continue to rise for several months, reaching 10% at the end of next year. Eligibility for employment insurance will therefore continue to be a problem for workers who lose their jobs. According to the 2008 EI monitoring and assessment report, more than 50% of unemployed workers will not have access to the system.

With one in two unemployed workers excluded, how can the minister keep on denying that there is a problem with eligibility for the system?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Jonquière—Alma Québec

Conservative

Jean-Pierre Blackburn ConservativeMinister of National Revenue and Minister of State (Agriculture)

Mr. Speaker, we are currently holding a debate on introducing measures to help long-tenured workers. If a company closes, after one year of EI benefits, these workers could receive from 5 to 20 additional weeks of benefits.

Of course, the Bloc Québécois seems to have a great deal of difficulty helping workers, but we do not. As for the Liberals, they left the table where we were discussing how to help the unemployed.

We are continuing to work toward that goal. No fewer than 189,000 people will benefit, and that is not bad.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Josée Beaudin Bloc Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, according to the Quebec Forest Industry Council, the Conseil national des chômeurs and the FTQ, the measures announced yesterday will have very little impact in Quebec, because they are not available to seasonal workers, forestry workers, young people and vulnerable workers. But what does the Quebec lieutenant say to those who assert that Quebec is poorly served by the program and access criteria are discriminatory and too strict? He says that he cannot give any guarantees.

Is it not increasingly clear that this plan will not help the unemployed in Quebec?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Jonquière—Alma Québec

Conservative

Jean-Pierre Blackburn ConservativeMinister of National Revenue and Minister of State (Agriculture)

Mr. Speaker, once again, the Bloc is trying to confuse people by saying all sorts of things. The bill on the table is designed to protect long-tenured workers, people who lose their jobs after working at a plant for 15 or 20 years. We want to make sure they can receive an additional 20 weeks.

The member mentioned seasonal workers. They are already covered by the current EI system, according to regional standards. That is how the system works.

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Marc Lemay Bloc Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, this government has just provided another example of its contempt for and insensitivity towards aboriginal peoples. Rather than providing medicine and masks to effectively combat swine flu, they sent body bags.

Given his fiduciary responsibility for aboriginal peoples, how can the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development tolerate this contempt and lack of consideration?

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon B.C.

Conservative

Chuck Strahl ConservativeMinister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, on the incident itself, we have already expressed our sense of outrage that we share with others in the House on what happened. That is clear. I think all Canadians feel that. The Minister of Health is getting to the bottom of that and the results of the inquiry will be made public.

On other issues, we continue to work with first nations and the provinces. This summer, for example, I was in Quebec and signed an agreement with the Assembly of First Nations, the Quebec government and ourselves on changing child and family services in a tripartite way, as recommended by the Auditor General.

We continue to make progress in Quebec and across the country.

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Marc Lemay Bloc Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, unfortunately this is not the first time that the government has shown contempt and a lack of consideration for aboriginal peoples. Is the government's refusal to sign the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples not the direct result of this government's insensitivity towards aboriginal peoples?

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon B.C.

Conservative

Chuck Strahl ConservativeMinister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, while some people would sign what they say is an aspirational document, we on this side of the House believe it is time to get down to the nuts and bolts of actually making life better for aboriginal peoples.

That is why we have made significant investment in housing. That is why we have rolled out our water and waste water action plan, which this summer alone is 16 new water systems that will go into first nation communities across the country. That is why have partnered with five provinces across the country on child and family services, and we will extend that across Canada. That is why we are moving ahead with agreements on education, housing, water treatment, training.

Name it, we get things done.

IndustryOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Marc Garneau Liberal Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, Liberals welcome foreign investment. As I said a while back, if we play in the big leagues, we follow the rules and we do not step in unless it is necessary. However, sometimes there are good reasons to fight for Canadian interests and the government cannot be trusted to do that.

Nortel's wireless assets drew three large international bidders and the winning bid was over $1 billion. That says something about the value of those assets.

Why is the minister refusing to review the sale, using the flimsy excuse that the assets are only worth $149 million? Given the stakes, every other country would certainly have called for a review.

IndustryOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Parry Sound—Muskoka Ontario

Conservative

Tony Clement ConservativeMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, first, the hon. member is using the figure in U.S. dollars, which is quite consistent with that party actually, but let me get to answer the question.

The hon. member should know we in fact want to follow our laws. We have a set of laws on the threshold for investment. We are following those laws.

On the other side of the House, those members are quite content to muddy around with the laws of the people of Canada when it suits their interest. That is not in the Canadian interest.

IndustryOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Marc Garneau Liberal Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the prosperity of Canada depends on the knowledge economy. We all know that the knowledge economy hinges on intellectual property. It is the core and heart of the issue. When there is a possibility that this property could leave the country, we must ensure that there is a net benefit to Canada once its value reaches a certain threshold. The consequences are dire. It is a question of prudence. The sale of Nortel wireless assets is an example of this.

Do the Conservatives understand what is at stake here?

IndustryOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Parry Sound—Muskoka Ontario

Conservative

Tony Clement ConservativeMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, our side of the House believes that we cannot introduce protectionist measures into the laws and regulations of Canada. That is our position; that is not the position of the opposition.

We cannot change the rules of the game, the rules of business, to suit the Liberals' protectionist and nativist impact on the country. That is what they do, but that is not what we do on this side of the House. They talk about opening the doors to India and China, but on this side of the House we are protecting Canadian investments.

IndustryOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, it was forced to intervene in the MacDonald Dettwiler case, but it is clear the government has absolutely no interest in promoting Canadian knowledge-based industries or protecting Canadian jobs.

The industry minister's decision regarding Nortel is disappointing and disturbing. It is the latest in a series of shortsighted decisions that are putting jobs at risk in the high tech sector, affecting the future of companies like Research in Motion.

Why will the Conservatives not do the right thing and stand up for the 600 proud RIM employees in my riding in Nova Scotia?

IndustryOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Parry Sound—Muskoka Ontario

Conservative

Tony Clement ConservativeMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, I find it interesting that the member who represents the Montreal riding is not asking that question because there are hundreds of employees of Ericsson in his riding. This is the kind of game the Liberal Party plays on these kinds of issues.

We are applying the law. We apply the law equally to Canadian companies and to foreign-based companies. That is how the rule of law works when it comes to foreign investment.

On that side of the House, the Liberals are willing to change the law to suit their own protectionist purposes. That will not help Canadian companies when they seek to invest in other countries. That is why we are on the side of the law; that is why we are on the side of Canadian business and will continue to be.

IndustryOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Frank Valeriote Liberal Guelph, ON

Mr. Speaker, the government has stood by while Nortel is sold piece by piece, bringing Canada's leadership in wireless technology to an end and costing Canadian families their livelihoods and pensions, including 400 job losses today alone.

It has turned its back on Research in Motion, a made in Canada opportunity to save and create thousands of jobs in hard hit southern Ontario, by not stopping this sale. Again, the government refuses to fight for Canadian industry and the jobs they create for families.

Why has the government turned its back on the people of southern Ontario?

IndustryOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Parry Sound—Muskoka Ontario

Conservative

Tony Clement ConservativeMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, we are helping companies that are international, like RIM, by applying the law equally here in Canada.

If we did not do so, if we sided with the protectionist impulses of the Liberal Party, the effect would be that when RIM or other companies went across the border or around the world seeking to do their own foreign investment, those countries would say, “You are not doing the same in your country. You are applying the rules differently in different situations”.

We will not do that because that is not in the best interest of Canadians and it is certainly not in the best interest of Canadian business.

Human RightsOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Conservative

James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, communist governments were responsible for some of humanity's greatest crimes.

A planned memorial in Ottawa to commemorate the tens of millions of people murdered by communist regimes has met some resistance. Apparently, there are concerns that the feelings of communists may be hurt by drawing attention to these crimes.

Does this Conservative government continue to support establishing a monument to the victims of communism?