Madam Speaker, I am really delighted to have an opportunity to speak on this bill today, because it is an issue that affects many of my friends and neighbours and it is an issue that I think all members in the House agree is important.
It is important to debate. It is important to deal with it, and right from the start, I would like to say that this is why I find it so offensive that at least two opposition parties are more concerned about having an unnecessary and opportunistic election than they are with actually dealing with the problem of helping those who are unemployed, or with preventing some people from becoming unemployed if they are in a situation where they could maybe go into a job-sharing program instead of becoming unemployed.
These are the types of things that our government has offered and I really do find it offensive, and that is not a casually chosen word, that we have those who are more focused on having this unnecessary and opportunistic election than on dealing with the issues.
I hope that the members of the Liberal Party, and the Bloc in particular, will reconsider. They have both said they are not going to support this bill, and I hope they will reconsider, and stay away from an election that Canadians simply do not want, and deal with the issues at hand.
Our government takes the approach that the best way to deal with an issue like this is to prevent people from becoming unemployed. In cases where people do lose jobs, getting them back to work as quickly as possible is far better than focusing so much on the unemployed and employment insurance. We need to focus more on preventing that from happening and on retraining in cases where that does happen.
Retraining is very important, particularly in areas where a town depends so much upon one industry that disappears, with the forestry sector as an example, and there are simply not the jobs that there were in that industry. Our government is focused on what happens with these people and particularly if they are long-tenured workers.
I think of friends and neighbours who are in the 45- to 55-year age bracket. Not only for that age group but particularly for people in that age group, if they have been working at one job for a long period of time and they lose that job, and there is really no opportunity to get a new job in the same sector, what do they do?
It is critical to do what our government has done, which is to do things that will help them through this really difficult time. One thing is to retrain and to offer help in retraining. We are talking about retraining that will actually lead to another good job for these people. It has been proven in the past that it can be very effective. That is why we are focusing on that rather than on going to another election. It is just simply not what Canadians want.
Over this past week in my constituency, I know that people were not calling for an election. It was just the opposite. They were saying that it would be irresponsible to go to an election now. They want all parties to actually work together to make this Parliament work, and that is certainly what we intend to do.
Our government, as members know, has been focusing on the economy. That is what people want. They do not want us out campaigning. They do not want us involved in an unnecessary and opportunistic election. They want us out focusing on the economy. That is what we are doing and that is what we are going to continue to do until we get through this campaign--or through this recession, I meant to say.
It does seem like a campaign. That was a bit of a slip, but I have heard so much talk about it from the opposition that I was thinking to myself that that is where we are headed. I hope I am wrong. We are focusing on the economy and on getting jobs for Canadians, and that is what we are going to continue to do.
I will now talk about some of the things that our government has done. As I have said, this is an extremely important issue.
The member said that I should talk about the work sharing program. That is an ideal way to keep people working and to keep them from having to go on employment insurance as their only source of income. It gives them a little help along the way so that we can have people job sharing with other people still working.
In this recession, if there is one thing that is more difficult than anything else for people to deal with it is losing a job and no longer being able to provide for their family. That affects not only the person who has lost the job but it also affects the whole family, friends and the community. What we are trying to do is to deal with that and the job sharing program that my colleague mentioned is one of the ways to do that.
As well, the additional five weeks that we have added to the amount of time that unemployed workers can collect unemployment insurance is extremely important. About 300,000 families are continuing to get income as they prepare themselves to get back into the workforce because of the change that our government has made.The five additional weeks is just one of the things that we are talking about.
We know that jobs are not created out of thin air. They are created by people who start, grow and continue to operate businesses, which, obviously, is where the jobs come from.
We know as well that high taxes kill jobs. Since our government came to office in 2006, we have been reducing taxes to individuals and to corporations. Some members across the way say that we should not be decreasing corporate taxes. However, where do most of our jobs come from? They come from small businesses that are often incorporated. They are the ones that create jobs, so we have reduced corporate taxes.
Also, we have frozen EI premiums, which is something I have not heard the opposition members talking about. We have frozen EI premiums which, in effect, is keeping taxes down below what they would be through the formula that was put in place by the former Liberal government. If that formula had been allowed to continue to operate, EI premiums would be going up which is a higher tax. These things certainly would hurt job creation and we do not want to do anything that would hurt job creation.
I will close by encouraging members of the opposition to take this focus away from a completely unnecessary and opportunistic election and get the focus back to running this country and working on behalf of those who are unemployed or otherwise would be unemployed. This would benefit us all and would certainly make life easier for those families who are directly involved.