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House of Commons Hansard #130 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was human.

Topics

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, nothing could be further from the truth.

The reforms that we are making to the employment insurance system are designed to help unemployed workers who have lost their jobs find another one in order to improve their well-being and that of their families. We will help them find these jobs; however, if unemployed workers cannot find jobs, employment insurance will be there to help them, as it always has been.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Nycole Turmel NDP Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, the reality is altogether different. By intervening, the Conservatives will create downward pressure on the wages of all workers. No matter what the issue, this government insists on picking winners and losers and dismantling entire sectors of the Canadian economy. The Conservatives believe that contract workers are lazy.

I have news for them: contract workers are honest people who work hard to find and honour their contracts. They pay their EI contributions in order to be eligible for benefits.

Why is the government stealing food from their tables?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, she is wrong for two reasons.

First, we want to help people find work in order to improve their well-being and that of their families. The NDP does not support these initiatives.

Second, that party, the NDP, is trying to pit Canada's regions against one another. The NDP believes that improvements in one region of this great country are detrimental to another region. We find that totally unacceptable.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the Prime Minister could tell us today what the anticipated reductions in employment insurance payments are expected as a result of the changes being proposed by the government. It is clear that this is a money-saving exercise.

I wonder if the Prime Minister could tell us exactly what kind of money will be saved in this regard.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we are not actually pursuing this as a money-saving exercise. Our objective is to match people with jobs.

As I said earlier, we have labour shortages in this country but, at the same time, we also have many people who need work and are not finding work. There is enhanced opportunity to get people back to work. This government has a strong record in that regard. We want to ensure that we have the assistance in place that will allow people to get work they are qualified for in their area and provide a better living standard for themselves and their families.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, we are entitled to a clear answer to the question with respect to what the government's approach is.

Is it the Government of Canada's position today that as a result of the existing law there are people collecting employment insurance who should not in fact be collecting employment insurance?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we know there are jobs going begging in areas where there are people who are unemployed so we are trying to rectify that problem.

In terms of the specifics once again, which the leader of the Liberal Party asked me on employment insurance costs, I do not think he understands how the system works. Any reduction in the costs of employment insurance in any case do not accrue to the general revenue fund. They come off the premiums that are charged to Canadian workers.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, over the past two years, the government has increased EI premium rates for employers and employees. We have yet to get a clear and honest answer from this government. I will ask the question again.

As the minister herself said, is it the government's position that there are people across the country collecting employment insurance who should not in fact be collecting employment insurance?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the government's position is that if jobs are available and the unemployed have the opportunity to work and be better off, then it is in everyone's interest that they do so.

The objective of this government is very different from the objective of the leader of the Liberal Party. Our objective is to get people back to work. The leader of the Liberal Party, when he was premier of Ontario, bragged that he had the welfare capital of Canada. Our objective is to have the job capital of the world.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Ryan Cleary NDP St. John's South—Mount Pearl, NL

Mr. Speaker, proposed Conservative changes to the employment insurance system will disproportionately hurt Newfoundland and Labrador. Nearly 80% of my province's EI claimants would be targeted because they have been on EI more than once.

The Conservatives did not even have the courtesy of calling the premier before they targeted Newfoundland and Labrador with their misguided changes. These changes run the risk of emptying rural Newfoundland and Labrador, as if the damage to the fisheries was not enough.

Why are the Conservatives punishing seasonal businesses and the hard-working men and women who keep them going?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member has it all wrong and his fear-mongering, frankly, is irresponsible.

We are letting Canadians know what their responsibilities are under the Employment Insurance Act, which is to look for a job. EI is a temporary support to help people while they are looking for work. That is right in the law. The difference right now is that we will help them understand that. We will help them find jobs that exist in their local area for which they are qualified. If those jobs do not exist, then EI will be there for those individuals as it always has been.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Niki Ashton NDP Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, at this time of year, many communities across northern Manitoba and northern Saskatchewan face annual forest fires and depend upon forest firefighters to keep them safe. We count on these firefighters to be ready and to keep our communities in a safe condition. However, now, when they return, they will targeted as frequent EI users and face the cuts that the government is putting forward.

Why did the minister not consult with northern and aboriginal communities and support the people who keep our communities safe?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, it is our government that recognizes the contributions that emergency services personnel, including volunteer firefighters, make. We are the ones who brought in support for those volunteer firefighters.

We are helping those people, if they want to work in the off-season of firefighting, to find jobs for which they are suited and find jobs in their own area so that they and their families will be better off. Part of the changes we are making will ensure that with the work they accept they and their families will be better off.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Niki Ashton NDP Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, I invite the minister to come to northern Canada and visit the people who put their lives on the line to fight forest fires.

Firefighting, along with other seasonal work, like fishing, is the only industry that supports aboriginal and northern communities. In many cases workers would be forced to go on provincial welfare or to leave, making us lose critical skills like forest firefighting.

Will the government support the heroes we all need to keep us safe and withdraw its changes to EI that target seasonal workers?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, we are there supporting those individuals. We are supporting them all the way. If they lose their job at the end of the season, we will help them look for another job, one within their skill range and geographic area, because we do not want them uprooting their family. If they cannot find a job within those qualifications, then the EI will be there. However, if they can, we have changed the rules so that they will always be better off with finding that work.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

NDP

François Lapointe NDP Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, across the country, from Halifax to Rivière-du-Loup to Vancouver, tourism industry representatives are saying the same thing: they need seasonal workers in order to operate.

They are quite concerned about the Conservatives' cuts to employment insurance. Tourism injects billions of dollars into our regions each year and is often the largest source of revenue for our rural communities.

Before wreaking havoc with the employment insurance program, did the Conservatives take the time to consult industry representatives? If so, can we see the report from those consultations?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, according to a number of reports there is a labour shortage across Canada, in a few sectors in particular.

Employers currently have to look for workers outside Canada, even in regions with a very high unemployment rate. What we want to do is give Canadians with the necessary skills the opportunity to apply for those positions. That will be better for them, for the economy and for Canada.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

May 30th, 2012 / 2:35 p.m.

NDP

François Lapointe NDP Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, there are some basic principles here that the Conservatives just do not understand.

One does not suddenly become a seasonal worker. It takes training, as well as a thorough knowledge of history and geography. Across the country, museums, parks, hotels and restaurants rely on competent seasonal workers to do business. Regional economies depend on them.

It is impossible to replace these skilled workers at a moment's notice without losing expertise that is essential to the regions. The Conservatives will be making life very difficult for them. It is irresponsible.

What do the Conservatives have to say to the hundreds of communities that rely on tourism and see the Conservatives directly attacking an industry that is unavoidably seasonal?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, of course we support seasonal industries and sectors. However, I have to wonder why the NDP does not want to help the people who work in these sectors find other jobs for the rest of the year, jobs that would improve their well-being, that of their families and even that of their communities.

Why does the NDP not want to help those people, those Canadians, find work and be better off?

Fisheries and OceansOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

NDP

Robert Chisholm NDP Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, out of work Canadians are learning the truth about the Conservatives. They may have paid into EI their whole working careers but, if they have claimed EI more than once, the Conservatives are saying that it is their fault.

The Conservatives' attack on Atlantic Canada continues. The Conservatives are closing three DFO offices in Nova Scotia just days after they gutted the Centre for Offshore Oil, Gas and Energy Research.

Is there no Conservative over there willing to stand up for Nova Scotia and Atlantic Canada?

Fisheries and OceansOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Fredericton New Brunswick

Conservative

Keith Ashfield ConservativeMinister of Fisheries and Oceans and Minister for the Atlantic Gateway

Mr. Speaker, the Centre for Offshore Oil, Gas and Energy Research is not shutting down. Important research currently being done by scientists at the centre will now be done through a new advisory group that will provide advice on priority issues and will manage a research fund. Through this new advisory group, the department will continue to provide science advice on contaminants and will provide funding to universities and other facilities to conduct research.

Fisheries and OceansOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

NDP

Robert Chisholm NDP Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, even former Conservative fisheries ministers disagreed with the government's devious and scary changes to the Fisheries Act. It will be giving the green light to projects that pollute our waterways, destroy our fish habitat and devastate our coastal communities, all the while getting rid of scientists and researchers who help ensure sustainable management of these resources.

When will the Conservatives stop playing Russian roulette with the fisheries and coastal communities?

Fisheries and OceansOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Fredericton New Brunswick

Conservative

Keith Ashfield ConservativeMinister of Fisheries and Oceans and Minister for the Atlantic Gateway

Mr. Speaker, we are focusing on fish and fish habitat protection rules on Canada's fisheries. I have said that many times. The changes that we are making are vast improvements over the current act. We will be identifying ecologically sensitive areas, make fisheries hatch conditions enforceable and allow higher maximum penalties for rule breakers. We will also create new and clear accessible guidelines for Canadians to follow prior to produce in or near waters.

We are making substantial changes and NDP governments, such as in Manitoba, are very supportive of the changes we want to make.

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

NDP

Anne Minh-Thu Quach NDP Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, fishers are not the only ones who will be left out in the cold once the Conservatives push their Trojan Horse bill through Parliament. Yesterday, we heard troubling testimony from the Commissioner of the Environment.

He said that the Conservatives plan to eliminate environmental assessments. Instead of conducting 4,000 to 6,000 assessments per year, the government will conduct only about 20 or 30. That is irresponsible.

Will the minister confirm that that is his intention?

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Thornhill Ontario

Conservative

Peter Kent ConservativeMinister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I would be glad to correct my colleague's impression and that, as a matter of fact, of the environment commissioner. While it is true that about 4,000 to 5,000 screenings are completed each year under the current Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, the vast majority of these are very small projects that pose little or no environmental risk.

Under the new act, the focus will be on projects that pose high risks to the environment and the actual number of federal panels or standard environmental assessments will actually number in the hundreds.