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.


6:35 p.m.

North Vancouver B.C.


Andrew Saxton ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, I would like to address the question from the hon. member opposite concerning the federal government presence in Gatineau. There appears to be some confusion about what the ratio of 75:25 refers to. The 75:25 ratio refers to the ratio of accommodation space in Ottawa versus Gatineau.

The federal government is doing everything it can to achieve an office space ratio of 75:25 in the national capital region. In recent years, the office space ratio for the PWGSC portfolio has been 77:23.

In September 2006, we announced an action plan to meet the target by acquiring four buildings in Gatineau. We intend to meet our office space ratio target of 75:25 by 2012-13.

The Government of Canada is committed to ensuring a real and viable presence for the federal public service in Gatineau. However, I have to wonder if the member opposite has a real and viable presence in that city himself.

The hon. member complains that there are 27 research centres in Ottawa and none in Gatineau. That is simply not true. The fact is there are two federal government science facilities in Gatineau, both operated by Library and Archives Canada: one is the Preservation Centre and the other is the Archival Processing Centre. These are not trivial institutions. I would say they are quite central to preserving the past and future of Canada's historical legacy. I suggest the hon. member drive by these facilities that he claims do not exist and get to know the city he represents.

Let me also remind the hon. member that while Treasury Board is the employer of the core public administration, each federal department or agency is responsible for shaping its own workforce.

That said, the distribution of federal employees between the two cities is more or less equivalent to the 75:25 office space ratio.

I would also remind the hon. member that Quebec means all regions of Quebec and that the Minister of Public Works is analyzing the presence of the federal government not only throughout Quebec, but in all provinces with an eye on fairness.

Finally, the hon. member says he is concerned about job creation in Gatineau. How can he be? He is the same member whose party voted against the economic action plan which is supporting jobs and building futures in every region of the country, Quebec and Outaouais included. Our government has demonstrated time and time again that we are responsive and responsible. We will continue to act in that manner.

6:35 p.m.


Richard Nadeau Bloc Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, this just goes to show once again that they do not understand anything. When we talk about the 75:25 ratio, we are talking about jobs, not buildings. The research centres come under the National Research Council of Canada. The government needs to stop denying the truth once and for all. There are no federal research centres in Gatineau, but there are 27 in Ottawa. And those 27 research centres are served by 200 small and medium-sized businesses in Ottawa.

Federal goods and services procurement breaks down to 1.4% for Gatineau and 98.6% for Ottawa. When it comes to Canadian Heritage funding for festivals, 3% goes to Gatineau and 97% to Ottawa. The federal government refused to provide financial support for L'Outaouais en fête.

Given all this, including the fact that for 27 years we have been waiting for the Science and Technology Museum in Gatineau, it can hardly be said that Gatineau is treated equitably.

6:40 p.m.


Andrew Saxton Conservative North Vancouver, BC

Mr. Speaker, the national capital accommodation strategy and the 75:25 ratio will deliver value to taxpayers while contributing to sensible and smart growth in Ottawa and Gatineau. We are on pace to meet the ratio in the next two to three years. The government has already announced it will be acquiring four more buildings in Gatineau.

While the Bloc members continue to be the number one whiners, we continue to achieve results for Quebeckers and Canadians.

6:40 p.m.


Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, the hog crisis in Canada continues to worsen with the government offering desperate farmers to either acquire more debt or quit the industry. The question I asked on May 15 was very specific: Is the government going to come to the assistance of Canada's hog industry? The answer then and the actions of the government to date clearly offer a resounding no.

This is an industry that contributes $7.7 billion in economic activity, 70,000 jobs and $2.1 billion in wages. We are now losing hog producers daily. Whereas we started the year with 8,310 producers, down 30% from 2006, those numbers are dropping daily, and the government fails to act other than to provide more debt to producers. Hog producers are ending up with lost hope and lost dreams.

When federal and provincial governments over the last 30 years asked farmers to take up the challenge of increasing efficiencies, increasing production and increasing exports and contributing to Canada's balance of trade, farmers stepped up to the plate and took up the challenge. They are among the most efficient producers in the world. Now that they have done all that and contributed to the economic activity of this country, having done what governments asked them to do, the federal government is telling them to face the difficulty on their own. These were events that were beyond the producers' control.

This is an industry which clearly the Conservative government has decided is not worth saving or really worth assisting. That is sad. What is worse is that the program the government is now offering farmers is not the opportunity to move forward with any increased cash flow. What it has offered producers is an opportunity where it tells them that it will guarantee them a loan at the bank, but first they must pay back the advance payment program money they received last year from the government, which is really unsecured funds.

In effect, the government is involving itself in a scam. It is a scam that is seeing the men at Treasury Board and the Department of Finance paid off while producers either have the same amount of debt or more debt with the lending institutions in this country. That is absolutely unacceptable. Who continues to lose in this process while the government gets paid? It is hog producers in this country. That is awful. It is nothing but a scam.

The consequences are severe. We are losing hog producers right across Canada. They are facing financial ruin and are leaving the industry, all because of events beyond their control. Instead of standing up for Canadian producers, the government is basically allowing them to be sold out.

Part of the reason they are in trouble are the actions of COOL in the United States. The Canadian government ought to be putting money out there, showing the U.S. that it is going to be standing by Canadian producers and not allow an illegal trade action by the United States to drive them out of business

I ask the minister tonight to come forward with a realistic solution and help Canada's hog producers financially.

6:45 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario


Pierre Lemieux ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture

Mr. Speaker, the member should be ashamed of himself for polarizing and politicizing the crisis in which pork farmers find themselves.

I would like to read a quote about our recent actions. This comes from Jurgen Preugschas, the president of the Canadian Pork Council, who stated:

Both the Pork Council and the federal government understand the urgency.... Both organizations are committed to getting money into the hands of producers as soon as humanly possible.

That is where I am starting from. This Conservative government is committed to supporting the Canadian hog and pork industry as it continues to face challenges affecting its competitiveness. Industry stakeholders understand that competitiveness is key to the survival of the Canadian hog and pork industry and, in response, the industry and our government are taking the necessary steps to adapt to the new market realities.

On August 15, 2009 the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food announced the creation of three new programs to provide additional financial assistance to the hog and pork sector: first, a $17 million international pork marketing fund for market research, promotion and access initiatives to find new customers and new markets for Canadian pork products; second, long-term loans with government backed credit that financial institutions can offer to allow viable hog operations to restructure their businesses; and third, a hog farm transition program to allow producers to tender bids for the amount of funding they need to transition out of the hog industry and cease hog production for at least three years. This program will invest up to $75 million to gradually reduce production and oversupply issues.

This Conservative government is working closely with the pork industry and financial institutions to finalize program details.

In addition to the new measures announced in January, this government announced a stay of default on advance payment plan advances issued to hog and cattle producers during the 2008-09 production period. This means that no repayments will be due before September 30, 2010 and the first $100,000 of each producer's advance will continue to be interest free.

Also, this Conservative government made a $50 million commitment to strengthen the slaughterhouse sector in various regions of the country to support the livestock industry in budget 2009. This investment will help to ensure that Canadian pork producers have viable and sustainable slaughter options available to them.

6:45 p.m.


Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

I have just a couple of points to make, Mr. Speaker.

The $17 million will actually be used to promote American pork on Canadian store shelves. That is what will happen to that money.

The transition program taking people out of the industry is really a reverse auction, where producers bid against each other for whoever can get it the cheapest and drive them out of the industry. More loans is not the answer.

For the parliamentary secretary to spout the words of the farm leadership is, indeed, sweet, because to a great extent the farm leadership in this country has been neutered by the fear and intimidation of the minister and the Prime Minister.

The minister goes so far as to ask the farm leadership to come out with a release and support the government and it knows it changed its first proposal because the minister threatened he would close the door on it. That is not responding to the needs of the industry. That is the minister playing games with the livelihoods and the economic reality of those producers on the farm. That is a sad commentary on this government.

6:45 p.m.


Pierre Lemieux Conservative Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, again, shame on the member for insulting the leadership of our farm organizations. The leaders of these farm organizations many times are actual farmers today, including pork farmers.

Let me quote Curtis Littlejohn of Ontario Pork who said, “These three programs”, the three that I just mentioned, “provide options and choices for producers and ultimately will help to right-size the industry”.

I also underline that the Canadian Pork Council supports our measures, as does the Canadian Federation of Agriculture and other groups and associations.

This shows the important co-operation and consultation that our government has done. This is something the Liberals did not do. Oftentimes they delivered either no programming to help farmers or programming that completely missed the mark. Shame on the Liberals. We are taking action for our pork farmers.

6:45 p.m.


The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly the House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m. pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 6:49 p.m.)