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House of Commons Hansard #154 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was child.

Topics

Agriculture and Agri-FoodOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

NDP

Malcolm Allen NDP Welland, ON

Mr. Speaker, on September 26, the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food said, when referring to the XL beef recall, “None of it made it to store shelves. The recall is ongoing”. The reality is, the Alberta health authority has confirmed four cases of E. coli from meat that originated from the same processing plants involved in the nationwide recall.

Will the minister continue to deny and contradict officials from CFIA, or will he stand in his place and admit contaminated meat has reached store shelves across this country?

Agriculture and Agri-FoodOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Battlefords—Lloydminster Saskatchewan

Conservative

Gerry Ritz ConservativeMinister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, the member for Welland is mixing two issues. The one I was referring to was the September 4 recall, where we captured all of that product. Then we moved on and I said, and he said too, “...and the recall continues”. He is absolutely right.

There are two different issues here, but I want to assure Canadians that their food supply is safe. We are continuing to work with CFIA, holding its feet to the fire to make sure these recalls are done in a timely way.

Agriculture and Agri-FoodOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

NDP

Malcolm Allen NDP Welland, ON

Mr. Speaker, I doubt whether the minister knows September 4 from September 16. What we do know is that American inspectors caught that contaminated meat, not Canadian inspectors. That is a failure on the government's part.

The lack of details on this particular recall is disturbing. It is absolutely alarming Canadians, and Canadians are worried.

When will Canadians start getting straight answers, and when will the Conservative government admit its failure in food safety policy because of its draconian cuts to CFIA?

Agriculture and Agri-FoodOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Battlefords—Lloydminster Saskatchewan

Conservative

Gerry Ritz ConservativeMinister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, of course there are no cuts to CFIA. If Canadians want the straight goods they should not listen to the member for Welland. Last night, on a panel program, he said that there was absolutely no CFIA presence in that facility. He is absolutely wrong. There are 46 inspection staff in that facility, 20% more than there were three years ago. That is some cut.

Agriculture and Agri-FoodOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, perhaps I could ask the government to explain why the Canadian Food Inspection Agency was informed by the American border services on September 4 that there had been an E. coli contamination with respect to products from XL.

I have a simple question for the minister. Why did it take 12 days before a recall notice was put out by the Canadian government?

Agriculture and Agri-FoodOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam B.C.

Conservative

James Moore ConservativeMinister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages

Mr. Speaker, the government inspectors did indeed do their job and they are continuing to do so because the minister is ensuring that they do what is in the best interests of all Canadians. We will continue to keep up that pressure. The minister is indeed doing his job.

However, it is very important that the opposition members do understand and stop misleading Canadians with regard to both food safety and the government's commitment to food safety. We have increased our investment and have ensured that we have more inspectors. In fact, 700 more inspectors are on the job now than when we formed government. We have done that. We continue to go in the right direction--

Agriculture and Agri-FoodOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Agriculture and Agri-FoodOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order, please. The hon. Minister of Canadian Heritage has the floor.

Agriculture and Agri-FoodOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Conservative

James Moore Conservative Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, we have built up the inspection regime that the Liberals neglected and tore down for 10 years and we will continue to do so.

Agriculture and Agri-FoodOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, the gang that brought the Canadian public Walkerton is in no position to lecture the people on this side of the House. I did not hear from the minister an answer to a very simple--

Agriculture and Agri-FoodOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Agriculture and Agri-FoodOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order, please. The hon. member for Toronto Centre has the floor. We are barely into question period and we are already encountering trouble.

The hon. member for Toronto Centre has the floor.

Agriculture and Agri-FoodOral Questions

September 27th, 2012 / 2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I did not hear an answer to the question. The question is quite simple. On September 3, the American inspection services discovered a problem. On September 4, they informed the Canadian government that there was a problem. On September 16, a recall notice was put out.

My question is for the officials of the Canadian government represented by the cabinet. Why did it take nearly two weeks before there was a recall?

Agriculture and Agri-FoodOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Battlefords—Lloydminster Saskatchewan

Conservative

Gerry Ritz ConservativeMinister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, the member is right in pointing out that the Americans notified us on September 4, the day we also discovered another interference in a plant in Calgary at the same time. We were able to contain all of that shipment. It was from the same shipment that went to the border and to Calgary. We were predicated on getting that out of the marketplace. What is called “bracketing” is the lot on either side. We also sought to do that. We were able to contain that group, put it right back into storage and get it out from any close call to the store shelves. We then started to work with the plant as to what would be needed ongoing. This was all based on science, not on speculation.

Agriculture and Agri-FoodOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, the minister's comments bring no comfort to the four victims of E. coli bacteria, who were discovered well after the Government of Canada was informed of the fact that a problem had affected Canadians.

I will ask the question again: why did it take nearly two weeks before the Canadian government took the necessary action to protect Canadians? That is my question.

Agriculture and Agri-FoodOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Battlefords—Lloydminster Saskatchewan

Conservative

Gerry Ritz ConservativeMinister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, the leader of the Liberals has the same problem the member for Welland had. There are two different streams of product here to be worked on. The first was the product identified in the September 4--

Agriculture and Agri-FoodOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Agriculture and Agri-FoodOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order, please. The hon. Minister of Agriculture has the floor and he should be the only one who I can hear up here but, unfortunately, I hear quite a lot of noise. I would ask for a little bit of order.

The hon. Minister of Agriculture.

Agriculture and Agri-FoodOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Conservative

Gerry Ritz Conservative Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

They really do not want an answer, Mr. Speaker. They would rather scare Canadians. I am here to tell Canadians that our food is safe. CFIA is on the job. Members at the plant are on the job and getting the job done.

As I said, there were two streams, the September 4 bracketed by either side, and then, following on where we thought there might be other possibilities, that is when we finally, after scientifically testing all the way through and going back to the records, we followed the proper stream. We do not go willy-nilly after this like the Liberals would have us do. We work with science.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

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

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives are making cuts to employment insurance even though the money does not belong to them. This reform is a cause for concern throughout Quebec. In the Lower St. Lawrence area, some family drop-in centres, which encourage the creation of parental support networks, are open only 10 months of the year. Now they risk losing long-time, skilled employees who will no longer be eligible for employment insurance benefits.

Is harming family relationships on the Conservative agenda?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member should stop fearmongering. It is not at all fair. Our challenge is to connect workers, particularly unemployed workers, with available jobs. There are many jobs available right now. We are increasing the number of job alerts that we send to unemployed workers, and we are giving them guidance to help them look for, find and keep employment. We are there for unemployed workers.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

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

Mr. Speaker, we support improved management of the employment insurance program, and we do not invite far-right supporters to committee meetings.

The minister cannot ignore this problem indefinitely. A horticulture technician in Lanoraie often receives employment insurance benefits in the winter. The minister's reform is punishing her for having a seasonal job. She is going to be forced to accept a lower-paying McJob in Trois-Rivières, which is far from her home.

Why does the minister refuse to recognize that seasonal jobs are an economic driver?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, our government has supported the forestry industry and other seasonal industries many times, and it will continue to do so.

We recognize that there will always be seasonal workers and that there are employers who need these people's talents and skills during the peak season. We are trying to make these people aware of other jobs available in their field in the region.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Claude Patry NDP Jonquière—Alma, QC

Mr. Speaker, the NDP supports the employment insurance program, but not the Conservatives' bad management. If the minister had taken the time to visit Jonquière—Alma before planning these changes, she would have witnessed the direct consequences of her decisions. Had she met with seasonal workers who are supposed to make ends meet on just 10 hours of minimum wage work a week in the winter, she would have realized that taking $40 or $50 away from them means that they cannot provide the essentials for their families.

The minister is taking food from the mouths of these people, so why does she always refuse to meet them personally?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, as I just said, we have a new system to let unemployed workers know about jobs available in their geographic area and their range of skills. Many employers are looking for people to fill vacancies. We want to help them connect, but if people cannot find a job in their range of skills and in their geographic area, employment insurance will be there for them as it has always been.