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House of Commons Hansard #138 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was c-38.

Topics

Report StageJobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

11:10 p.m.

Conservative

Ed Komarnicki Conservative Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, it is certainly a privilege to speak with respect to the bill. I think it is important to note that it strikes the right balance with respect to supporting economic growth, job creation, restoring the balance and returning to a deficit reduction plan that would bring us to balance over a number of years.

The economic action plan is really a number of strategies, a number of steps that, taken together, would accomplish a couple of things. First, they would ensure that our economy continues to expand and jobs are preserved and continue to grow.

It is an opportunity for Canadians to enjoy economic prosperity at a time when the economies of the world are experiencing significant pressures and challenges.

The delay tactics on the part of the opposition, the rhetoric, the steps to try to delete all the clauses, are really not improving the legislation; rather they are just tactics to delay for the sake of delaying.

In addition to growing jobs, we can continue to grow our economy by ensuring a number of projects, mining projects, oil and gas recovery programs and indeed responsible resource development take place. When that happens, of course jobs are created and people have the opportunity to advance in their skills and training and to enjoy the economy that follows from that.

Many in the resource sector, including the Saskatchewan Mining Association and others, have concerns regarding the regulatory process for approval of new projects. If a project is delayed because of the regulatory process, needless to say there would be fewer jobs. Streamlining the process would speed up the process, eliminate duplication that results in a lot of time being consumed and of course a lot of money being spent. Overlapping between the provincial and the federal processes has cost both time and money.

Part 3 of the budget 2012 deals exclusively with responsible resource development and the government's plan to modernize Canada's regulatory system. The measures would make regulatory reviews for major projects more predictable and timely. It would reduce the regulatory burden, the duplication, while at the same time strengthening environmental protection.

Time limits are set for assessments. Co-operation with jurisdictions would be enabled through powers to delegate an environmental assessment, or part of it, the substitution of the process, to another jurisdiction or recognition of a provincial process as equivalent for a specific project.

Emerging markets around the world have provided Canada with a tremendous opportunity to responsibly develop our abundant natural resources for the benefit of all Canadians. Much of it is in the northern part of Canada. It is where we find many aboriginal people reside and where they need the employment, the skills training and upgrading.

In 2010 natural resource sectors employed more than 760,000 workers in communities throughout the country. In the next 10 years, more than 500 major economic projects representing over $500 billion in new investments are planned right across Canada. Fixed timelines would create certainty and predictability for business, which would lead to good, well-paying and skilled jobs for Canadians.

In order to ensure our economy continues to grow, we have to be sure we have the human resources. In my travels with the human resource committee, we found that there are labour shortages in high-demand occupations across the country in the skilled trades as well as labour shortages in the lower skilled positions, especially in the service industry, the food industry, the hotel and hospitality industry, in agriculture and aquaculture as well.

We need not only to increase the opportunities to develop our resources but also to ensure that we have the right human resources to meet the national demands of industry.

We have found in all regions of the country, Halifax, St. John's, Sydney, Vancouver, Fort McMurray and my home town of Estevan as well as Weyburn and other areas in Souris—Moose Mountain, that business is finding it difficult to meet their labour needs.

We can all agree that to the extent possible we need to ensure we start early in our schools to emphasize the skills and trades to our youth, to use the regional community colleges to adapt to industry and in partnership with industry, to do the proper programming and training to provide the individuals needed for the job.

There are other additional steps that can be taken, and this budget document does that. First, we have taken steps to improve the employment insurance program. It is one of the single largest labour market programs that we have, providing income replacement to help individuals and their families, as well as training and other labour market supports to help Canadians return to employment. By agreement with the provinces, $1.9 billion would be spent on skills training and upgrading to ensure that Canadians have the skills they need to advance in their positions and to have the jobs that are available. The budget has targeted common sense changes to the EI program to make it more efficient, a program that will promote job creation, remove disincentives to work, support unemployed Canadians and quickly connect Canadians to jobs.

If people are able to improve themselves by finding a job that provides more income than what they can receive on EI, that is, 90% of what they used to make, and is in line with their skills and abilities, then of course they should be able to take that particular job. It may be that if they advance they do not go back to their old job, but that is the nature of how the economy works.

Economic action plan 2012 also proposes $21 million over two years to connect unemployed Canadians with jobs. Matching workers with available jobs is critical to supporting economic growth and productivity. So if money is going to be spent on good labour market information, if we can provide information on what jobs are available and people are able to access them, everybody would win in that situation: the employer, the economy and the worker. The steps taken here certainly aim to ensure that the content and timeliness of job and labour market information provided to Canadians searching for work is up to date, informational and available to them.

Additionally, the steps would ensure that if people do take a job, they would be able to retain their working wage in addition to their EI to a greater extent than before. What this would do is ensure that those who wish to work can work.

Notwithstanding all of that, we find that with the economy going forward as it is, as a result of the steps we have taken in numerous budgets, people are drawn to higher-paying jobs in the mining industry or government sector and are upwardly mobile. That is a good thing.

Employers in the service industry, including in the fast food and hospitality industries, find they have a difficult time getting employees. So we have enhanced the temporary foreign worker program. We have taken steps in this budget to ensure that the process would be more efficient with less paperwork and be more responsive to employers so they can fill those needs. If businesses and communities want to grow, they expect the service industry to be in step with them. This budget would provide the ability to do that.

In addition, notwithstanding anything that is done, notwithstanding the improvements to the EI system and all of the other processes that try to ensure that our labour needs are met within the country, there are certain skill sets that are not met and must be met by immigration. Steps would be taken in this budget to ensure that immigration is streamlined and flexible and that we can get the skilled people that this country needs to grow, as quickly as possible. Any step we can take in that regard is a positive one. We would get the best skilled people who are out there to meet our demands.

In addition, we would take steps to deal with foreign credentials. When those people come to our country, it takes time to have their credentials recognized. We would enhance our programming and our funding to ensure that people in certain categories can have their credentials assessed within one year. We have expanded those categories twice now and would do so again under this particular budget to ensure that the process can happen quickly. We would ensure that there would be funding or loans provided to people so that they could enhance their skills quickly. Everybody would win by that. They would win by having a better job with higher pay, and we would win by the fact that they would be able to provide a service.

All of these steps are to be taken together and are strategic to ensure that our economy continues to go forward and work well, notwithstanding what is happening in the rest of the world. These are all positive actions. We should get behind them and support them.

Report StageJobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

11:20 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington NDP Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to my colleague's speech. He mentioned that within the environmental assessment laws, which are to be gutted and mangled by this bill, there would be provisions for the transfer of environmental assessments to provincial regimes where equivalency is available.

In this world of environmental assessment where there are ever increasing projects and lesser land, air and water available, one of the most critical issues within an environmental assessment is cumulative impact assessment, namely how to assess projects in relation to other projects in similar regions.

I know that the legislation the government has brought forward still contains cumulative impact assessments. However, interestingly enough, there is only one province that has this within its purview. Therefore, equivalency in environmental assessment in this country for some of the more critical issues is really not very strong between what exists in the provinces and what is required under federal legislation.

Does my colleague think that in Ontario, which lacks cumulative impact assessment, projects conducted under its provincial legislation rather than federal legislation would be invalid?

Report StageJobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

11:20 p.m.

Conservative

Ed Komarnicki Conservative Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, the point the member is missing is the aim of ensuring there is no duplication, that there is no repetition of the same thing over a long period of time, with a number of people trying to get to the same conclusion. The bill would ensure that there is a proper assessment done and that it is done at one level. In order for a province to have an equivalency agreement, it would have to meet certain standards. Of course, if there are no such standards in the province, then they would proceed with the federal standards.

Industry has complained about the slowness of the process and the fact that it is overlapping, dealing with the same issues in two jurisdictions between federal and provincial processes. That has cost industry a lot of time, money and delays in projects for no particular good outcome. The bill would streamline that process, but not by way of compromising the end result; it would ensure that the end result is every bit as good, and better.

Report StageJobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

11:20 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, during the subcommittee hearings reviewing part 3 of Bill C-38, Ms. Rachel Forbes, staff counsel for West Coast Environmental Law, said that she did not believe that the proposed amendments and the new legislation as currently drafted would accomplish any of the government's four pillars, namely, more predictable and timely reviews, less duplication in reviewing projects, strong environmental protection, and enhanced consultation with aboriginal peoples, but might actually hinder them.

My question is, what are the projected costs of the repeal of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act to the provinces and territories?

Report StageJobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

11:20 p.m.

Conservative

Ed Komarnicki Conservative Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, at this instant I cannot provide the projected costs or savings, because I am not aware of them. However, I know that people who have testified before our committee, many of them in the chemical industry in Saskatchewan and others who are planning to do extensions to projects and so on, have found that project delays and the cost associated with those have happened for no better reason than duplication and the process involved.

Notwithstanding what that particular witness may have said, there are other witnesses who take a much different position. The Saskatchewan Mining Association has appeared at a number of committees, including recently in Estevan, Saskatchewan during a hearing, where it said that this needed to be addressed if we wanted to be sure that we proceeded with our economy while at the same time protecting the environment. The cost of not doing so would run into the millions of dollars, and the loss of many jobs and the continued economic prosperity of Canadians.

Report StageJobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

June 11th, 2012 / 11:25 p.m.

NDP

Robert Chisholm NDP Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to get up and speak for a few moments this evening about this important piece of legislation.

I am somewhat confused by the responses of the members opposite when they say a couple of things. They say that this is common sense way to deal with a number of problems, by introducing an omnibus bill that changes 70 important pieces of legislation; it is a common sense approach to dealing with important matters; it is simply a way of growing the economy, creating jobs and moving the country forward; and that a lot of the changes they have introduced in the legislation are important changes that will benefit the country, and that they are very proud of them.

What I cannot get over is, if that in fact is the case, then why do they not take some time to consider each one of those changes? For example, when we look at the changes to the employment insurance system contained in the bill, none other than the four Atlantic premiers have come out in the last few days and said they have very serious concerns about the proposed changes. They have not been consulted and would like to examine those changes.

We have talked a lot in the House over the past number of weeks about the changes to the Fisheries Act. Contrary to what one member opposite said, many of us have looked at the bill, examined the changes that have been made and have listened to a number of experts who have considered what the impact will be. As recently as this afternoon, the Great Lakes Fishery Commission came before our fisheries committee to talk about invasive species. They spoke to a resolution that had been passed and forwarded to the Prime Minister and the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans by the advisory committee to that commission, asking that the government engage in further consultation on the changes to the Fisheries Act, and failing that, that the government recognizes that the definition of fisheries habitat it has used is completely and utterly inadequate. They suggested different language in order to do that.

That does not sound to me as if the people who are affected by the legislation are understanding or being supportive of these changes. Therefore, what is confusing me and confusing many Canadians who are being directly affected by the legislation is that if government members are as proud as they say they are about the changes they are trying to implement, why do they not take time to talk with Canadians about what they are proposing to do and make sure that everyone is on board?

Unfortunately, what we have seen over the past number of weeks is the government hell bent on getting the legislation through. It is trying to prevent Canadians actually seeing what is in the bill and understanding what is here.

The member before me spoke glowingly about the changes to EI, the changes to the temporary foreign workers program, and the changes to the Fair Wages and Hours Act and how this was going to help employees. What they are doing with those three changes alone is driving down the wages of working people in our country so they will not be able to afford to purchase goods and services in our communities. How in the name of heaven is that supporting the economy in Atlantic Canada or in the member's own constituency? I would like him to give that some consideration.

I was on the subcommittee of the Standing Committee on Finance that considered Bill C-38, the 70 pieces of legislation that were being affected, and we had only 14 hours to do that.

We had 14 hours to consider the employment insurance changes and the Fisheries Act changes. The Canadian Environmental Assessment Act would be completely repealed and replaced in Bill C-38. We had 14 hours to examine and to listen to representations by Canadian experts, by people who would be directly affected by this legislation. These people came before us and told us what they thought about it. They told us how the bill would affect them and the issues that they are interested in. They brought their expertise before us. It was revealing. I learned a great deal from both those who supported the legislation and those who were opposed to the legislation.

However, what concerned me the most, as a parliamentarian and as someone who has some experience in legislation, in dealing with these matters, was the dismissive way that many of these witnesses were dealt with. I was disgusted, frankly. Members opposite, members of the government side, challenged anyone who raised any questions. They treated them poorly. In fact, if we look at the subcommittee's report that was tabled in this House when the finance committee reported back to this House, we will see a report that is nowhere near reflective of the testimony that we heard in those 14 hours.

Let me give an example. The Grand Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, Chief Atleo, came before our committee. He told us in no uncertain terms how upset he and his people were. They had not been consulted, the government had completely ignored the duty to accommodate and the duty to consult that has been reaffirmed in Supreme Court decisions over the past 20 years. The changes being proposed in a number of pieces of legislation do not consider the role that the first nations play in this country. It would create extraordinary hardship and extraordinary damage to many of the things that the first nations people in this country hold dear.

Do members see that sentiment reflected in the subcommittee's report? Not a word. Grand Chief Atleo's testimony is not even referred to once in the subcommittee's report. How can that be? We are talking about the Assembly of First Nations that represents over 600 first nations communities in this country, first nations that have rights, treaty rights, constitutional rights that have been defined by and confirmed by the Supreme Court. His testimony and the concerns of the first nations people in this country are not even reflected once in that report.

Members opposite are laughing. They think this is a great joke. But let me say that as a member of this chamber, I am thoroughly embarrassed and disgusted with the way that this matter has been handled. It is so disrespectful of the people who have taken their time to come before us to provide testimony. It is as though, if anyone disagrees with the current government, whether it is a member of the National Round Table on the Environment and on the Economy, or Grand Chief Shawn Atleo or members who came before us today of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, or anyone who has any objection with the government, the members will shout them down, they will rule them out, they will not include them in their reports. It is shameful behaviour. I am telling members that Canadians are paying attention and they are not going to stand for this. They are not going to stand being railroaded by the government.

Report StageJobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

11:35 p.m.

Calgary Centre-North Alberta

Conservative

Michelle Rempel ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, the member opposite spoke about the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy. I had the opportunity to be with the environment critic for the NDP on a television panel earlier this month. When asked by the host if she could name a report that she has used or found useful from the national round table that did not involve a carbon tax, she could not name one. Could my colleague opposite do so?

Report StageJobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

11:35 p.m.

NDP

Robert Chisholm NDP Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, the member who asked the question clearly did not pay any attention to what I spent 10 minutes talking about, nor did she spend a whole lot of time paying attention to the representations in the subcommittee. In fact, when anybody was at all critical of her government, the member went out of her way to abuse and disrespect people who made representations. Frankly, she performed in a manner that is below contempt, as far as I am concerned, for a member of Parliament. I was completely and utterly discouraged and disgusted by that behaviour.

Report StageJobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

11:35 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Liberal Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, I will give my colleague an opportunity to further elaborate on a question he asked today in the House with regard to a very important measure that looks like it is going to be taken away from lobster fishermen, in the Atlantic region at least. A group of fishermen has sacrificed over the last number of years to make sure their industry is sustainable. Now the minister is blowing the whole thing up. I know he is looking at doing away with fleet separation and owner operators, the principles of the fishery that have long served it. It looks like this is another measure, but in the process is destabilizing the conservation and long-term stability of the fishery. I would like my colleague to comment on the question he asked today and the significance of this measure being taken by the government.

Report StageJobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

11:35 p.m.

NDP

Robert Chisholm NDP Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, my colleague is absolutely right. We are dealing with changes to the Fisheries Act in Bill C-38 that would have a very detrimental impact. At the same time, people in the fishery are also being hit as the Department of Fisheries and Oceans makes serious cuts. The latest one we have learned about is that the department is no longer going to issue tags for lobster traps. Therefore, there will be no way to keep track of whether people are fishing legally or illegally. This will fly in the face of all the conservation efforts and attempts to control that the fishermen have been engaged in for so many years.

Let me say in conclusion that his colleague, the member for Etobicoke North, sat with me and colleagues on this side night after night as we listened to representations in the subcommittee. I know that she has as many concerns as I do with the way those witnesses were being dealt with.

Report StageJobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

11:35 p.m.

NDP

Paul Dewar NDP Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, we heard the parliamentary secretary talk about the national round table. I wonder if he could comment on Bob Mills, the former Conservative environment critic, who had very critical things to say about shutting down the round table. What does the member think of the Conservative's comment about the Conservatives' budget being rammed through and killing the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy?

Report StageJobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

11:40 p.m.

NDP

Robert Chisholm NDP Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, the member is absolutely right. It was not just Bob Mills but former fisheries ministers John Fraser and Tom Siddon who both said what the government was doing was completely and utterly wrong-headed, that it was trying to hide the changes from Canadians and it needed to back off and put this matter under proper review to make sure we come out at the end of the day not only with a good product but a product that people understand and have some confidence in.

Report StageJobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

11:40 p.m.

Conservative

Blake Richards Conservative Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak tonight about the opposition's intransigence with respect to the passage of Bill C-38, the jobs, growth and long-term prosperity act, and to speak against the opposition's attempts to delay and defeat this important economic legislation.

The NDP and its opposition cohorts are engaging in all sorts of games to hijack this important piece of legislation. In response, I would like to remind them that Canadians do not care for procedural games. They want their elected representatives focused on what matters to them: jobs and the economy. This is especially true in a period of such volatile global economic turbulence.

Unfortunately it does not seem that the NDP and the other opposition parties are willing to do that. Canadians are noticing and they are shaking their heads. For the benefit of the NDP, let me quote a recent Toronto Sun editorial. I am going to quote extensively.

As Europe stands poised on the brink of a disastrous economic wildfire that could blacken the world, the [NDP leader's] hypocrisy and self-obsession is in full flame...vowing to delay the passing of [economic action plan 2012] by playing silly...with amendments and procedure....This is nothing but grandstanding....This is a budget designed to create jobs and inspire economic growth, and it comes to the House of Commons at a moment that can only be described as the 11th hour of a global economic conflagration....Right now, there is only one enemy in our fight to protect Canada from the repercussions of Europe's burning. And it's...[the NDP leader]. This is inarguable.

The quote describes the NDP as the enemy of our efforts to protect Canada and protect our economy. I could not agree more. Why? Because I understand that Bill C-38, the jobs, growth and long-term prosperity act, is in the best interests of all Canadians. By implementing key elements of economic action plan 2012, this bill would equip Canadians, regardless of whether they are workers, business owners or retirees, with the tools that they need to address the challenges that lie ahead, and to succeed for the long term.

It would include measures that would leverage the enormous economic potential of Canada's increasingly important energy and natural resources sectors. Natural resources, including energy, mining and minerals, processing and forestry, already represent almost 10% of our economy, and provide nearly 800,000 Canadians with employment and income.

My riding of Wild Rose is extremely diverse. It is home to people from all walks of life, engaged in practically every sector of our economy, all striving to build a better future for themselves, their families and their communities, whether they are working in agriculture, tourism, forestry, oil and gas, or the manufacturing and service industries that rely on those sectors' products. They rely on responsible development of the natural resources that we are blessed to share.

From growing up and working on the family farm near Olds, I know how important it is to be a good steward of our environment. It does not matter if one is driving a combine near Didsbury, checking a gas well near Cochrane or running a bed and breakfast in Banff, people make their living directly from the environment. There is a vested interest in making sure their children and grandchildren have the same opportunity.

I am proud to support our government's plan for responsible resource development that is within the jobs, growth and long-term prosperity act. Through this act, we would be able to streamline the review process for these types of projects while protecting the environment under an effective and efficient regime based on the principle of one project, one review, and within a clearly defined time period. In the past, these delays could kill potential jobs and stall economic growth by putting valuable investments at risk.

We would also be adopting strong new measures to protect the environment, including making environmental impact decisions enforceable with the full weight of the law, adding stiff new penalties for non-compliance with those decisions, and adding new funding to enhance marine shipping and pipeline safety.

Furthermore, we would also extend the temporary 15% mineral exploration tax credit for flow-through share investors for an additional year to support mineral exploration.

These actions are fundamental to maximizing Canada's long-term economic potential at a time when this objective has never been more important.

It is estimated that energy and other major resource projects could generate more than $500 billion in new investment in Canada over the next 10 years, and that scale of investment could make a real difference in insulating Canadians from the sort of economic problems making headlines elsewhere in the world.

Bill C-38 would also improve Canada's employment insurance program, with a focus on promoting job creation, removing disincentives to work, supporting unemployed Canadians and quickly connecting people to available jobs. At the same time, it would ensure stable, predictable EI premium rates by eliminating premium rate increases to 5¢ each year until the EI operating account is in balance and then moving to a seven year break-even rate. It would help build a fast and flexible economic immigration system to meet Canada's labour market needs. It would also make gradual adjustments to the old age security program to put it on a sustainable path for future generations.

At the same time, the bill would legislate our government's commitment to sustainable and predictable transfers to provinces and territories in support of health care, education and other social programs and services that are among Canadians' highest priorities. This includes extending total transfer protection to 2012-13 to ensure that a province's total major transfers in that year are no lower than in a prior year, representing $680 million in support to affected provinces.

The jobs, growth and long-term prosperity act would modernize Canada's currency by gradually eliminating the penny from Canada's coinage system.

It would modernize the back office of government, refocusing programs and services to make them more effective and efficient and making it easier for Canadians and businesses to access them.

For families, including some of the most vulnerable, the bill would expand health related tax relief and income tax systems to better meet the health care needs of Canadians while also helping Canadians with severe disabilities and their families by improving the registered disability savings plan.

Last but not least, Bill C-38 would help ensure Canada's housing market remains strong and stable by enhancing the governance and oversight framework for the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation to ensure its commercial activities are managed in a manner that promote the stability of the financial system.

As part of these improvements in mortgage oversight, the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions, or OSFI, would be given a role in assessing CMHC's commercial activities, particularly its mortgage insurance and securitization programs. These changes would contribute to improving governance and oversight of mortgage lending practices in Canada, contributing to the stability of the housing market, which will benefit all Canadians.

Those are just a few of the specific measures in Bill C-38 that we would like to enact for the benefit of Canadians. However, for that to happen, we need to get the jobs, growth and long-term prosperity act through Parliament. If the opposition wants to debate these measures on substance, the government has shown it is more than willing to respond.

In fact, Bill C-38 has already received the longest House of Commons debate at second reading and finance committee consideration of any budget in at least over two decades. A special subcommittee was struck to review and further debate the responsible resource development section as well. At the finance committee there were nearly 70 hours of hearings and literally hundreds of individuals who spoke to the legislation and its importance, for example, groups like the Canadian Federation of Independent Business that called economic action plan 2012 “positive news for small business”.

Coming out of the global recession, Canada finds itself on remarkably stable footing. We have relatively low debt levels as compared to other industrialized nations and a plan to eliminate the federal deficit. As a result of this, we have a tremendous opportunity. Out of the fires of this current economic crisis, a stronger Canadian future is being forged. With continued economic and trade growth, we can continue to develop our country's role as a true leader on the global stage. That is what this federal budget is all about.

Our government intends to continue moving in a direction of strong economic growth, low taxes and long-term prosperity that will benefit all Canadians.

Report StageJobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

11:50 p.m.

NDP

Raymond Côté NDP Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened closely to my colleague's speech and I must admit I am troubled by his closing comments.

I want to believe in the dream he is selling, but the problem is that Canada will become increasingly intertwined in the global context and will be at the mercy of what is happening around the world.

When we develop natural resources, which is not bad in and of itself—on the contrary, it is a great Canadian tradition—when we give these natural resources such a important place in our economy and, when they fuel our trade with other countries, then we need not be surprised if there is some backlash.

Considering the economic downturn in Europe, the slow economic recovery in the United States and the fact that the four BRIC countries are having problems of their own, how can my colleague believe in such a rosy future for our natural resources?

Report StageJobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

11:50 p.m.

Conservative

Blake Richards Conservative Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, I noticed that my opposition colleague across the way spoke about being troubled. Let me tell members that I am also troubled. I am troubled by the fact that when we bring forward measures to try to make sure our economy continues to be one of the strongest in the entire world, to make sure we are insulated from some of the problems in Europe and other countries to the best degree we can, when we look at measures to ensure we can continue to grow our economy and develop our resources but do so while respecting the environment, when we look at improving trade opportunities for Canadians through new trade deals and expanding trade deals, when we try to do all of these for the best interests of the Canadian economy to make sure Canadian businesses continue to thrive and create jobs for Canadians, and I certainly look at our record of more than 700,000 net new jobs created over the past few years, certainly we have been doing all this for the benefit of Canadians to ensure that our economy continues to thrive and grow.

However, the NDP members continue to vote against it and try to delay and deter all this from happening for the benefit of all Canadians. That is what troubles me.

Report StageJobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

11:50 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Liberal Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, I have a question for my colleague from Wild Rose.

The government members like to say that the opposition is fearmongering. However, there is so much of a void out there, such a lack of information on so many aspects of the pieces of legislation that are impacted by this particular budget bill, and EI is one that has certainly caused a great deal of concern. Perhaps at this late hour, we could help clear up one aspect of it. This is a specific question that I got from a member of the building trades council. Coming from Alberta, the member knows that the building trades have helped build that province and contributed to building this country. Many of the trades travel from project to project during shutdowns. There is a large number of workers needed for a short period of time. Here is the question.

Once an electrician finishes up with one particular project and he comes back and is waiting for the next project to go, if he gets an offer to go and work at the fish plant, will he have to take that position outside the union, not on the union books or anything like that? An electrician is an electrician I guess in the eyes of this legislation. Will he have to take that or risk not being able to garner his benefits? It is a very direct question.

Report StageJobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

11:55 p.m.

Conservative

Blake Richards Conservative Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, simply put, the member was obviously talking about some of the changes to employment insurance, but he also talked about feeling that we were accusing him, his party and the other opposition members of fearmongering. They have certainly been talking about not having an opportunity to debate. Here we are near midnight debating this bill and will be doing so over the next couple of weeks. We have had more debate on this bill at second reading and at the finance committee than there has been with any other budget over the past 20 years, and possibly more.

However, the member asked about employment insurance reform. What we are simply trying to do there is make sure we are connecting Canadians who want to work with available work. We are making sure that when businesses are looking at options such as temporary foreign workers, and he mentioned Alberta, my province, where we do have labour shortages, we are trying to make sure we connect Canadians to the available jobs so that they can get back to work.

Report StageJobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

11:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Before I give the hon. member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel the floor, I must inform her that I will have to interrupt her at midnight when the time provided for government business expires.

The hon. member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel.

Report StageJobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

11:55 p.m.

NDP

Mylène Freeman NDP Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, thank you, and I will wish you good night in advance because I am the last to speak and I have only five minutes.

During my last speech on this subject, I provided a virtually endless list of the acts that will be changed for the worse by this bill. These changes will be especially bad for the most vulnerable Canadians.

I rise in the House this evening to say that this bill is an assault on democracy. This massive omnibus bill goes way too far, well beyond what was announced in the budget. In fact, many of these measures are contrary to what the Conservatives promised during the last election campaign.

It does not address development or prosperity. The Conservatives claim that this budget is about job creation, but the Parliamentary Budget Officer said that it would result in the loss of 43,000 Canadian jobs.

The truth is that a third of this bill is about eliminating environmental protection regulations. After much consideration, I am convinced that the real theme of this legislation is a massive attack on government transparency.

Not only does the introduction of such an all-encompassing bill harm the public institutions that Canadians count on, but it is also an assault on democracy, as evidenced by the fact that the government simply does not care about the impact of the changes in this bill.

What do members expect from a government that was found in contempt of Parliament only a little over a year ago? The Conservatives have not changed their tune and are only strengthening the powers of the executive in their ability to evade the scrutiny of Parliament and that of their constituents. Before the last election, the Conservatives were frustrated that they could not get away with their agenda because of democratic debate, which led to amendments and compromise that helped government work for all Canadians. How terrible. Now, they no longer have that problem. If we do not like it, they have a majority and they do not feel any obligation to listen to us despite their democratic duty to do so.

We have seen this before in the House with a truly extravagant number of time allocation motions. We have seen it in committee where in camera is used by the Conservative members to cut off public debate and ram through their agenda. Now we see it with this bill, which only continues to show their disdain for democracy and for the Canadian electorate.

With this bill, the government is showing its utter contempt for Parliament and democracy. It is concentrating power in the hands of the executive in an incredible way, and yet it is telling us, “Do not worry; trust us.”

I will continue my speech tomorrow.

Report StageJobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

11:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

The hon. member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel will have six and a half minutes for her speech and five minutes for questions and comments when the House resumes debate on this motion.

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

Canada Revenue AgencyAdjournment Proceedings

June 12th, Midnight

NDP

Ruth Ellen Brosseau NDP Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, in March, we heard ominous noises from the government. Some people hinted that the Shawinigan-Sud Tax Centre, which employs as many as 1,500 people at certain times of the year, might close.

When my colleague from Trois-Rivières and I asked the minister about this, we did not get a straight answer. There are persistent rumours and fears. The employees of the centre are understandably worried. What we are asking for today are clear answers.

When I asked the hon. Minister of National Revenue if there were any studies or reports on the economic and social impacts of closing the centre or keeping it open, I got no answer. When I asked what the results of the latest performance evaluation of the centre were, again I got no answer. When I asked when a final decision would be made, again I got no answer.

Even when we first raised the issue, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development and the Minister of Labour referred to the automation of employment insurance claims. The Shawinigan-Sud Tax Centre does not process employment insurance claims. The parliamentary secretary does not have a good handle on this matter and has confused employment insurance and taxation. Even more disturbing is the fact that she is not denying these rumours. The government is not dispelling doubt. The people in my riding count on these jobs.

Since the 2012 budget was tabled, public servants have been nervous, and rightly so. They do not know what will happen to their jobs. The government is allowing rumours to swirl and, in the meantime, thousands of families are experiencing the stress of uncertainty. That is not humane. Federal government cuts will reduce services and swell the ranks of the unemployed across the country.

I am worried and it is my duty as an elected member to again raise this matter. I have not been reassured and I am afraid of how these cuts will affect the people of my riding. Not only could people lose their jobs, but the reduction in services to the public could also have consequences.

Canada Revenue AgencyAdjournment Proceedings

June 12th, Midnight

Calgary Centre-North Alberta

Conservative

Michelle Rempel ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, it is my great privilege to address my colleague for the first time in the House. I want to congratulate her on her fortitude in staying here until this late hour. I know she has a family and it speaks to the courage of some of the women parliamentarians in the House.

At this point in time, especially with the debt crisis in Europe, it behooves our government to look at ways to ensure that our financial house is in order. We are doing so in large part with budget 2012 and part of the bill that we debating tonight, Bill C-38. The goal of the bill is to ensure balanced finances, while spurring job creation and economic growth. We have the made in Canada approach to ensuring the long-term prosperity of our country.

With that, we need to ensure that core services are still delivered and that the responsibilities of government are maintained and carried out. On my colleague's question about her specific riding and the tax centre therein, I am certainly not in a position to comment on rumours or speculation. However, our government will ensure that core services are delivered and that we are wise stewards of taxpayer funds.

She made some good comments about looking at job creation and ensuring long-term growth in the country. I would ask her to look at some of the policies we have put in place over the last few years since we became government. Since July of 2009, our economy has created over 760,000 net new jobs across the country, over 90% of which are full time and many of them in Quebec. It is that track record that we seek to improve upon, while delivering core services and ensuring the stability of our social program funding for Canada's long-term prosperity.

Canada Revenue AgencyAdjournment Proceedings

June 12th, 12:05 a.m.

NDP

Ruth Ellen Brosseau NDP Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague. No, it is not easy. It is midnight. I am sure everyone here is tired. We are working hard these days. As I said, it is midnight, yet I am here and, like my colleagues, I want some answers.

The government is not being clear. I want to know what impact these cuts will have. The government cannot refute these allegations, so I remain concerned. On June 8, 2012, the Canada Revenue Agency and the Union of Taxation Employees met, but the answers are always the same. The agency maintains that the decisions are confidential. This is bad news.

Can the member tell us when the government will set the record straight regarding cuts to the Canada Revenue Agency?

Canada Revenue AgencyAdjournment Proceedings

June 12th, 12:05 a.m.

Conservative

Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Centre-North, AB

Mr. Speaker, again, to speak to some of my colleague's concerns, across government we are seeking to ensure that we are delivering core services with excellence and to the level of standards that Canadians expect.

However, while we are doing that, we are also being wise stewards of taxpayer funding and promoting a plan to ensure the long-term growth and prosperity of our country.