Mr. Speaker, I would like to start by saying that I have the honour of sharing my time with the hon. member for LaSalle—Émard.
Today we are discussing the motion regarding the proposed changes to the employment insurance system. This motion is a wonderful initiative from my colleague from Hamilton Mountain. This issue is very important to the people in my riding of Chambly—Borduas, who are concerned for many reasons that I will list today.
The first reason is that the changes will require daily proof of job searches. At the same time, job seekers will receive job offers via email. I addressed this issue earlier by asking a question to my colleague, but I would like to discuss it a little more.
In my riding, one of the municipalities, Marieville, is experiencing a problem that many citizens and even the mayor, Alain Ménard, have had the opportunity to tell us about. It is a matter of access to the Internet. This is not a rural municipality; it borders the greater Montreal metropolitan area, on the south shore. People have noticed a big problem. They have tried to get help from the CRTC to improve digital Internet services in the region. Increasingly, different types of Internet services are being required, and people in rural areas have a hard time accessing them. This is particularly true in Marieville, which is in my riding.
The reason why this is relevant here is that, as I said, we are talking about sending job offers by email, but not everyone has access to the Internet. It goes without saying that, often, people who have lower paying, less stable jobs—which is often the case for people who are receiving employment insurance benefits—cannot necessarily afford Internet access, even if they live in urban areas where Internet access is easy to obtain. It is therefore hard to see how these job offers will help people.
It is said that people who cannot afford to pay for Internet access can go to the municipal library, for example. However, this presents another problem that was again pointed out to me by the people of my riding and that has to do with the municipal library in Saint-Basile-le-Grand, where I live and where my office is located.
The municipal library offers excellent services but, unfortunately, it is going to have to reduce the services and Internet access it provides as a result of cuts to the community access program. This was an excellent program that was renewed every year in the budget. It did not just help community organizations, but also municipal libraries. These are very important tools for young people and people with low incomes who cannot always afford such luxuries.
When cuts were made to this program and this service was reduced, once again, people found themselves in a situation where they have one less way of accessing the Internet. This is one of the problems. When we look at the problems this is creating in my riding, we can see why these changes are of such great cause for concern.
The other situation, which my colleagues have addressed many times today in the House, and which I will address again to discuss how it applies to my riding, is seasonal work in tourism, agriculture and other areas. Workers in these sectors have to rely on employment insurance during the off season, especially in tourism, which is very significant in my riding. I am thinking about the city of Chambly, where one attraction is Fort Chambly, a Heritage Canada-recognized site run by Parks Canada. Many tourists from across Canada come to see it. From what we heard in the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage a few weeks ago, it is one of the most visited Parks Canada sites in the region and in Quebec during the summer.
Jobs there are filled by seasonal workers, who work in tourism of course because many of the tourism programs do not operate during the winter.
These people will not only have to look for another job, but they will have to accept a job that pays less than Parks Canada has been paying them at Fort Chambly.
What is more, in the same bill, the Trojan Horse that is Bill C-38, the government also proposes cuts to Parks Canada that will cause even more problems at Fort Chambly. They knew for weeks that there would be significant cuts to this heritage site in my riding.
This heritage site is suffering a double whammy, not to mention the negative impact on the employees who work at this site during the summer season.
Aside from tourism, there is also agriculture. Although my riding is located between urban and rural regions, on the south shore of Montreal, there are still some farmers in my riding. The work they do is extremely important. This work is very interesting, because it is focusing on sustainable development. These people will have to cut back on their work in this extremely important field for environmental reasons. Their system will have to be completely transformed in light of the proposed changes. I am thinking in particular of wine producers and all kinds of agricultural producers who are not necessarily in my riding but who are in the greater Montérégie area. This will have a negative impact on them.
Incidentally, up until now, I have focused mainly on employers—people who provide services. We often hear that workers have contributed to this system and that they are entitled to use it, but the employers have also contributed to this system and have the right to be defended.
Therefore, it is important to point out that employers will also be punished by the proposed changes. Some will have to close their doors or points of service because the people they depend on to do the work will not return to their former jobs if they are forced to look for other seasonal jobs. At some point, workers will want a certain amount of stability.
If I leave my seasonal job for minimum wage work that is more regular, as required by these changes, it is hard for me to see why I would jump from job to job. This will also punish employers. I believe that it is very important to point this out.
Many business people came to my office to see me this past week, after these changes were announced. Before I am told that it is not true, I would like to give a specific example. I had the opportunity to speak with Ms. Larose, whose husband, Mr. Bélisle, owns a company in Mont-Saint-Hilaire, in my riding, and employs six seasonal workers. The company is called Irrigation Pro-Jet and it will have to close if the proposed changes are introduced. That is the perspective of one businessman.
Small and medium-sized businesses will be adversely affected, and workers will also be negatively impacted.
It is extremely important to point out the negative impact this will have on small and medium-sized businesses and on employers. I hope I have refuted the specious argument that we do not defend employers' interests. It is in their interests as well to prevent these changes.
That is why I am proud to support the motion of my colleague from Hamilton Mountain and to oppose these illogical changes that are harmful to our society.