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House of Commons Hansard #147 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was information.

Topics

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Yves Lessard Bloc Chambly—Borduas, QC

Mr. Speaker, true to form, the Conservative government continues to ignore the urgent needs of the unemployed and did not include any measures in its budget to help them. Worse yet, instead of vastly improving the employment insurance system, the Conservatives are going to help themselves to the employment insurance fund, as the Liberals did, in order to subsidize those who are better off.

Does the government realize that its indifference toward workers in Quebec is what might trigger an election?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, if the hon. member and his colleagues had taken the time to read yesterday's budget, they would know that we are proposing to extend a number of things, such as two pilot projects, the targeted initiative for older workers and improvements to the work sharing program, which has already helped 280,000 people and protected jobs. They did not even read the budget before deciding to vote against it.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Bloc

Yves Lessard Bloc Chambly—Borduas, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is in fact because we read the budget that we are going to vote against it.

The government claims that the changes proposed by the Bloc Québécois and the unions would entitle people to one year of benefits for 360 hours of work. That is not true. For the Gaspé, for example, an unemployed person who has just enough hours to be eligible will only be entitled to 32 weeks. In Chicoutimi, it is 20 weeks.

Instead of hiding its indifference toward the unemployed behind lies, will the government commit to not stealing from the fund and to improving the employment insurance system instead?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, in the budget, we presented four proposals for extending improvements to the employment insurance program and helping the unemployed across Canada. As usual, the Bloc said it will vote against these measures. It has already voted against five additional weeks and against the program to help long-tenured workers and the targeted initiative for older workers. It always votes against the interests of the unemployed in Quebec and the regions. It is shameful.

Forestry IndustryOral Questions

March 23rd, 2011 / 2:45 p.m.

Bloc

Robert Bouchard Bloc Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

Mr. Speaker, there is nothing in the budget to revitalize the forestry industry. A mere $60 million has been allocated for research when the Conservatives were able to find $10 billion for the automotive sector, which is concentrated in Ontario.

The Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union is condemning the lack of immediate assistance for workers. The union notes that the government has instead “thrown the poorest of the poor a few crumbs”.

How could the Conservatives table another budget that does not meet the desperate needs of the workers and regions affected by the forestry crisis?

Forestry IndustryOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean Québec

Conservative

Denis Lebel ConservativeMinister of State (Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec)

Mr. Speaker, for months, this member has been trying to convince the Canadian public that providing the forestry industry with assistance in the form of loan guarantees was the right thing to do. He is now just continuing to propagate this misinformation.

We are partners with American companies in the automotive industry. We in work in partnership, without any contract to prevent us from doing business with them. In the forestry industry, we are competitors.

When will he understand that we signed an agreement to protect the industry that the Liberals abandoned from 2000 to 2006?

AgricultureOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Bloc

André Bellavance Bloc Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative budget does not address the needs of farmers in Quebec. The government is refusing to improve the income stabilization programs. It is not providing adequate compensation for the additional costs related to the management of specified risk materials. Furthermore, it is making $400 million in cuts to the agricultural sector, a sector that is very important to our regions.

How could the government present a budget that completely ignores the needs of agricultural producers in Quebec?

AgricultureOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Jonquière—Alma Québec

Conservative

Jean-Pierre Blackburn ConservativeMinister of Veterans Affairs and Minister of State (Agriculture)

Mr. Speaker, which government announced in its budget that there would be no income tax hikes? The Conservative government. Which government said in its budget that there would be no tax increases? The Conservative government. Which government is investing $50 million in innovation to help farmers? This government.

We presented a budget that addresses what Canadians need in their everyday lives. We are supporting natural caregivers, families and volunteer firefighters. There are all kinds of assistance measures in our budget.

The BudgetOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Siobhan Coady Liberal St. John's South—Mount Pearl, NL

Mr. Speaker, we now know how the Conservative government will pay for its corporate tax cuts, American-style prisons, and untendered fighter jets. It is cutting services in Atlantic Canada by closing Service Canada sites, cutting $7 million to Marine Atlantic, cutting $32 million to ACOA, and cutting $85 million to Fisheries and Oceans. The Atlantic Provinces Economic Council said that there was little in this budget of direct benefit to Atlantic Canada.

My question is this. How did the Atlantic Conservative MPs allow this to happen?

The BudgetOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Fundy Royal New Brunswick

Conservative

Rob Moore ConservativeMinister of State (Small Business and Tourism)

Mr. Speaker, my question for the member is how the small business people in her riding would feel about her not supporting a credit for hiring new employees. How would the volunteer firefighters in her region feel about her not supporting a credit for the hard work and the sacrifices they provide? How will they feel about her not supporting the great investments we have made in Marine Atlantic and the great work that is being done to promote the economy in her region?

The BudgetOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

Siobhan Coady Liberal St. John's South—Mount Pearl, NL

Mr. Speaker, I can tell him how they feel about the increases in payroll taxes.

Not only is the government slashing and burning funding for Atlantic Canada, now we also find out about more abuse of power. The Conservatives are under investigation by the Public Service Commission for stacking the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency with political appointments.

Is there no end to what the Conservative regime will do to reward its own? Has it no shame?

The BudgetOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Fundy Royal New Brunswick

Conservative

Rob Moore ConservativeMinister of State (Small Business and Tourism)

Mr. Speaker, I have a bit of news for the hon. member. We are the first government to commit stable funding to important ACOA programs such as the Atlantic innovation fund and the innovative communities fund. We are the first government to invest where her government failed.

When it came to Marine Atlantic, we delivered on this side of the House for Newfoundland and Labrador.

We are going to continue to deliver. We are going to support her constituents, even if she will not.

Champlain BridgeOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

Alexandra Mendes Liberal Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, this government will never learn. What they do not like, they hide or deny.

Why is the minister refusing to table the reports on the diagnostic testing of the Champlain Bridge? We would at least be in a position to know exactly what is happening.

Will we choose to spend billions on fighter planes and megaprisons rather than investing in this bridge?

Will workers in the greater Montreal area have to swim to work?

Champlain BridgeOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon B.C.

Conservative

Chuck Strahl ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, the Champlain Bridge is very important to entrepreneurs and the people of Montreal and Canada. We have invested a great deal of money in this corridor because the bridge is very important. Furthermore, I spoke with the Quebec minister this morning, and we discussed the bridge's condition and its safety. The future is clear: we must have discussions with the Government of Quebec about the future of—

Champlain BridgeOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Brossard—La Prairie.

Champlain BridgeOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

Alexandra Mendes Liberal Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am asking for the test results because he says the bridge is safe. I doubt that. The minister does not seem to have understood: this is the most important road infrastructure in the country. Unfortunately, he does not give a damn.

They will readily spend billions of dollars on fighter planes and megaprisons. But those who have to go home every night, and go back to work every morning, have to make do with their old bridge.

Enough of this nonsense. They must stop playing with people's safety. When will there be a new bridge?

Champlain BridgeOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon B.C.

Conservative

Chuck Strahl ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, of course we are not playing with people's safety. That is why when I spoke with the CEO of the federal bridge authority, when I talked to the engineers a month ago in Quebec, they said that the investments we have made in the bridge will keep it absolutely safe for the next 10 years.

At the end of the month or thereabouts, there will be a report given to us on options for the bridge. Everyone knows the bridge will need to be replaced in the long term, but what we cannot know without that option paper presented to us yet is if contains light rail, if it contains a rapid transit option, if it contains a bus option. Those options will be presented to us and, of course, we will make a decision working hand in hand with the Quebec government.

The BudgetOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Conservative

Bernard Généreux Conservative Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, the makeshift coalition led by the Liberal leader has finally found a pretext to reunite and try to take down the government. This time it is the budget. Any reason will do.

Can the Minister of Veterans Affairs tell us what this budget contains to help every region of Quebec?

The BudgetOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Jonquière—Alma Québec

Conservative

Jean-Pierre Blackburn ConservativeMinister of Veterans Affairs and Minister of State (Agriculture)

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for the great job he does and for his question.

Our budget clearly takes into account the everyday needs of Canadians. For example, a couple that has a child involved in arts activities will receive a tax credit. Volunteer firefighters will, too. As well, seniors who are not finding the guaranteed income supplement to be sufficient will receive an additional $600 per year. A number of measures have been added, without any tax increases. Our government is a responsible one.

The BudgetOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, Canada is one of the richest countries in the world. Yet, we have hundreds of thousands of seniors living below the poverty line. When the NDP met with the minister and the Prime Minister, we reiterated the fact that this is a priority for our party. We find it unacceptable that we live in such a rich country, yet the seniors who built this country are left to live in poverty.

Why would the government rather trigger an election than help all of the seniors who are living below the poverty line?

The BudgetOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Vaughan Ontario

Conservative

Julian Fantino ConservativeMinister of State (Seniors)

Mr. Speaker, our government is committed to supporting low income seniors.

We are proud of the fact that our actions have played a part in cutting the low income rate among Canada's seniors from 21% in 1980 to 5.8% in 2008, one of the lowest rates in the world. We have increased guaranteed income supplement benefits, cut taxes for seniors, introduced pension income splitting and invested in seniors' housing.

We will keep working hard to deliver for seniors as demonstrated in our budget yesterday.

The BudgetOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, we have to ask the Conservatives what kind of priority guides their thinking? Is this a tough on seniors policy? Is it more important for them to give even more money to the chartered banks than they received last year? They made $22 billion in profits and used half, $11 billion, for executive bonuses. Next year the Conservatives want to give a further $3 billion in corporate tax cuts. For every $1 they came up with for impoverished seniors, they found $10 for Canada's richest corporations.

Their proposal would leave hundreds of thousands of seniors below the poverty line, and in a country as rich as ours, that is just not acceptable.

The BudgetOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Vaughan Ontario

Conservative

Julian Fantino ConservativeMinister of State (Seniors)

Mr. Speaker, that is coming from a party that has consistently voted against any seniors' help. It is shameful.

In our budget yesterday we elevated the poverty line for seniors. Across the country, 680,000 seniors will benefit from yesterday's budget submission.

Champlain BridgeOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Bloc

Josée Beaudin Bloc Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, in a letter published in La Presse, the Minister of Transport continues to deny the facts. Although engineers have said that some sections of the Champlain Bridge could collapse, the minister continues to claim that the bridge is safe and that construction of a new bridge can wait.

Does the Minister of Transport realize that it is his indifference to the needs of Quebec that could trigger an election?

Champlain BridgeOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon B.C.

Conservative

Chuck Strahl ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, clearly the Champlain Bridge is an extremely important bridge. That is why we are investing almost $400 million in it over the next 10 years to make sure it stays safe.

I am not an engineer. A good question to ask is: whom do we ask about this? We ask the engineers who inspect the bridge. We ask the CEO who oversees the bridge. We work with the provincial government, which works with us to make sure the bridge is safe.

Of course the bridge will have to be replaced in the longer term. However, Montrealers should know that the bridge is safe and will be safe. We will be working closely with the Quebec government to make a long-term plan for its replacement in the years to come.