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House of Commons Hansard #126 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was refugees.

Topics

The EconomyOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Outremont Québec

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDPLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, Conservatives are destabilizing the balanced economy that Canada has painstakingly built up since the second world war, sacrificing the entire manufacturing sector and all other export sectors, because the Canadian dollar is being held artificially high, because they are failing to enforce environmental legislation. The high number of U.S. dollars is bringing the Canadian dollar too high, hurting all export sectors.

That is the result of choices. Their priority is the unbridled development of the oil sands. We stand for sustainable development in this country.

The EconomyOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam B.C.

Conservative

James Moore ConservativeMinister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages

Mr. Speaker, I notice the Liberal Party is seeing the resuscitation of themselves and the meltdown of the NDP leader as he tries to divide Canadians over the economy.

The fact is the Canadian economy is doing extraordinarily well. As I said, there were more jobs in the last two months, the best job record that Canada has seen in over 30 years.

If the leader of the NDP would at least have the dignity to go to the west and actually visit the people whose economy he says is a disease in this country, he might start the pathway back to a little bit of dignity for the Leader of the Opposition.

The fact is, western Canada is driving the Canadian economy. We are the future. We are creating jobs for all of this country and we are very proud of it.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I can bring things from Nigeria a little closer to home.

I wonder if I might ask the spokesman for the government this question today. I met this morning with representatives of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. It was a very positive and constructive discussion, and one of the things we discussed was the issue of employment insurance. They themselves were saying they were baffled by the number of different statements being made by the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, and the complete lack of clarity with respect to what exactly the change is that the government intends to bring forward.

Can the minister please tell us why it is reasonable for the government to ask the House to approve a change which it has not yet seen?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam B.C.

Conservative

James Moore ConservativeMinister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages

Mr. Speaker, our policies on employment insurance have been clear before the House. We believe that Canadians are entitled to employment insurance when and where they need it, and that Canadians who have paid into the system have an entitlement to those rights. We also want to make sure the Canadian economy continues to grow and goes in the right direction. The changes the leader of the Liberal Party is looking for and has sought are in fact in the budget implementation act.

We tabled our budget in the House almost two months ago. We have had a lot of debate on this. We are pleased to see our budget progressing through the House of Commons, and we look forward to a continuation of the debate, not only on EI but on how we can ensure the Canadian economy will serve all Canadians in all regions.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am sure that the minister would never want to mislead the House.

He said that the changes are in the bill. Unfortunately, he is completely wrong and the changes are not in the bill. What is in the bill is the elimination of important protective measures that are found in the existing legislation.

To date, the government has refused to tell us or Canadian workers and employers what is going to replace the sections that are being eliminated.

When will we see the definitions, substitutions and regulations? That is what we want.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam B.C.

Conservative

James Moore ConservativeMinister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages

Mr. Speaker, protective measures for those who need the system are not being eliminated. The protective measures are there. We will certainly continue to promote them and add to them in order to strengthen protection.

All Canadians should have access to the existing system when they need it. That is what we are doing in the budget. We have done so all along—from 2006 until today. Other changes have been made. We debated them and passed them into law.

We will continue on this path, because it is important that all Canadians in every region of the country have access to the system when they need it.

PensionsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, the reality is that those new definitions are simply not in any information we have been given. They are in the musings of cabinet ministers opposite and we have had another philosophical discourse from the minister speaking on behalf of the government.

We still have this contradiction with respect to the old age security and guaranteed income supplement. The government members tell us there is a crisis and that it is going to be resolved in 2023, but they will not tell us how much they think they would be saving.

How can the government say there is a fiscal crisis with respect to the affordability of the plan and yet not have any idea as to what the return to the taxpayers is going to be?

PensionsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam B.C.

Conservative

James Moore ConservativeMinister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages

Mr. Speaker, what we are saving is a system of retirement for all Canadians, for current retirees, for those who depend on OAS today and those who will depend on it tomorrow. I think all Canadians are entitled to a retirement that has a steady income and a good quality of life.

The changes we propose to the OAS system would begin in 2023 and be fully implemented by 2029. We have put them before the House and they have been debated now for more than two months.

It is the right way to go. This is a modest improvement that we think would ensure our system is there for all Canadians for many generations to come.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Anne-Marie Day NDP Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Mr. Speaker, workers are worried, and so they should be. They have paid into the employment insurance fund their whole lives, and now the government wants to force them to move, uprooting their families from their homes, just to prevent them from collecting employment insurance benefits.

Can the Conservatives guarantee that no worker who has lost a job will be forced to either move to find a new job elsewhere or forfeit employment insurance benefits?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Simcoe—Grey Ontario

Conservative

Kellie Leitch ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development and to the Minister of Labour

Mr. Speaker, Canada is facing unprecedented skills shortages across the country. We need to make sure unemployed Canadians have access to getting a job quickly.

These changes will help connect unemployed Canadians with jobs they want and desire with the skills they have, and match them in their local areas. We have said this numerous times: Canadians will be expected to take available jobs in their local communities that match their qualifications.

I do not understand why the NDP does not want to get on board to make sure Canadians have jobs.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Anne-Marie Day NDP Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives have lost all credibility because they speak out of both sides of their collective mouth. First they avoided the question; then they consulted unemployed workers and insulted them; and finally, they encouraged Aveos workers to go work in a mine in Labrador or build boats.

Yesterday, the Minister of State for Finance said, “I believe I have already defined what constitutes suitable employment.” But he did not.

Can he provide us with the new definition of suitable employment in light of the changes in the budget implementation bill?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Simcoe—Grey Ontario

Conservative

Kellie Leitch ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development and to the Minister of Labour

Mr. Speaker, as I said before, this is about making sure individuals have an opportunity to be employed in the skills area they have.

Let us talk about what the opposition members had to say. Let us make sure we are focused on what is happening. We do not believe it is a colossal waste to be a taxi driver or work on a farm to make sure one is supporting one's family so they have a good quality of life.

We want to make sure that Canadians have jobs. That is why we created 700,000 net new jobs in the last mandate. We look forward to them supporting our initiatives.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, employees pay into EI in good faith, but under the Conservatives fewer than 40% even qualify, and they want to restrict the rules even more.

The Conservatives claim they have no plans to force Canadians to choose between EI eligibility and relocating to other parts of the country. We know now the idea was not only being discussed, it was also focus-grouped.

Canadians deserve to know the truth. Will the minister table all of the planned changes to EI in this House?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Simcoe—Grey Ontario

Conservative

Kellie Leitch ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development and to the Minister of Labour

Mr. Speaker, we support and applaud the millions of Canadians who work hard every single day to improve their lives and that of their families.

The economic action plan is committed to and has increased efforts to better connect Canadians who are unemployed with opportunities for employment. Our government has been very clear: we will connect Canadians with available jobs in their local areas.

The study in question did not inform the policy discussion that took place in this House. I look forward to the NDP finally getting on board to support a jobs plan for this country.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives are all over the map on this.

We have the Minister of Finance who compares his summer jobs at school to unemployed teachers looking for work, while the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development thinks EI is too lucrative.

One day the Conservatives are holding focus groups about encouraging people to relocate, and the next thing they are up in the House denying it.

EI belongs to the people who paid into it, not the Conservatives. Why will it not table its plans in this House for everybody to see?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Simcoe—Grey Ontario

Conservative

Kellie Leitch ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development and to the Minister of Labour

Mr. Speaker, I will say it once again: Canada is facing unprecedented skills shortages.

We have a huge challenge making sure that individuals who have available skills have an opportunity to have the jobs they are qualified for. This means we are going to be connecting unemployed Canadians with opportunities in their local areas.

The NDP can say what it wants, but we have created 750,000 net new jobs in this country throughout the course of the economic action plan.

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

May 17th, 2012 / 2:30 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, it was shocking to hear the Minister of Health attack the UN food rapporteur for bringing attention to the issue of food insecurity amongst first nations, Inuit and Métis, especially because the head of the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, Mary Simon, supports his findings. Seventy percent of Inuit households with young children do not have access to safe and secure food.

The government is ignoring the facts. The first step is admitting there is a problem. Will the minister at least do that?

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Nunavut Nunavut

Conservative

Leona Aglukkaq ConservativeMinister of Health and Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency

Mr. Speaker, the UN rapporteur should look to his own country's position on the seal hunt and its impact on the Canadian Inuit.

How dare he come to Canada to study us, once again from afar, and declare what is best for us as Inuit in our country. He should look at the European Union position on the seal hunt and the impact on food security of Canadian Inuit, instead of coming here to tell us what to do and what is best for us.

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, the government's own numbers talk about this lack of access to food.

In 2008, Health Canada reported that aboriginal households are three times less likely than non-aboriginal households to have access to safe and secure food.

Is the government now going to attack Health Canada? Why does the government think it is acceptable for children living in this country to wake up hungry, to go to school hungry, and to go to bed hungry? Instead of attacking, will the government now act to solve this very real problem?

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Nunavut Nunavut

Conservative

Leona Aglukkaq ConservativeMinister of Health and Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency

Mr. Speaker, yesterday what surprised me was the UN rapporteur's lack of understanding and knowledge about the aboriginal people, Inuit and their dependence on hunting wildlife for food security in Canada's Arctic.

What this amounts to is an academic study of aboriginal people in Canada's Arctic without ever setting foot on our grounds, walking in our footsteps and understanding some of the limitations as well as the incredible opportunities we have as aboriginal people in this country.

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

NDP

Jonathan Genest-Jourdain NDP Manicouagan, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the UN special rapporteur said that all costs, including transportation costs, should be taken into account in the selection of foods to subsidize for remote northern communities. The Conservatives are abdicating their responsibility toward aboriginal communities with respect to food security and infrastructure. That is why the Assembly of First Nations applauded the rapporteur's conclusions.

Instead of shooting the messenger, will they finally start working with communities to make nutritious food available at a reasonable cost?

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Nunavut Nunavut

Conservative

Leona Aglukkaq ConservativeMinister of Health and Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency

Mr. Speaker, this academic is so ill-informed that he has no idea what our government invests in several initiatives that promote nutrition and improved access to traditional, country and healthy food

Like the Liberals, they like to talk about food security, but at the same time, like the UN rapporteur's home country, they are trying to shut down the seal hunt. The European UN representative coming to Canada from afar to study us and lecture us is as ridiculous as a certain MP from Toronto saying I do not understand issues affecting my hometown and the north.

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

NDP

Niki Ashton NDP Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the government launched a shameful attack on the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, including saying that he had not visited the north.

The government is wrong. He visited Gods River in northern Manitoba and went to northern Alberta. What he found out was that many Canadians, especially aboriginal Canadians, have inadequate diets because they live in poverty.

Will the government apologize for this shameful attack and finally face the facts that aboriginal--

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The member is out of time.

The hon. Minister of Health.

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Nunavut Nunavut

Conservative

Leona Aglukkaq ConservativeMinister of Health and Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency

Mr. Speaker, what I said yesterday was that I was very insulted by the UN rapporteur coming to Canada to study aboriginal people, Inuit, and not come to the Arctic, and to write a report on what is best for me as an aboriginal person from Canada's Arctic is insulting.

That member should be ashamed of herself. She should support the people and the aboriginal people in this country and not listen to a person who comes to our country and dictates on how we live our lives on the land and how we depend upon the wildlife in our country.