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House of Commons Hansard #203 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was service.

Topics

PovertyOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash NDP Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, this is sheer fantasy. Let us consider the facts. According to the Conference Board of Canada, a growing share of Canada’s wealth is in the hands of 20% of the wealthiest Canadians. The share held by the middle class is shrinking. Owing to the widening inequality gap, Canada earns a C, which is barely a passing grade.

The Conservatives claim to have a plan to ensure prosperity, except that their plan leaves out the middle class. When will they finally deal with the problem of inequality?

PovertyOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, we believe that the best way to fight poverty is to create jobs and to have skilled people fill these jobs. This is very important and that is why we are investing in training programs for people who have trouble finding work. We have lowered taxes over 140 times, leaving more money in the pockets of Canadians.

PovertyOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

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

Mr. Speaker, as I see it, the Conservatives are letting the social inequality gap between the wealthy and the poor widen.

The Conservatives believe that people who have lost their job, and hence must turn to EI which they have paid into, are abusing the system. That is why they are increasingly restricting access to this program. We have come to an historic point.

Instead of insulting Canadians and treating them like crooks and shysters, could the minister listen to the demands of workers in resource regions who are holding rallies as we speak?

PovertyOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, the EI system is there for seasonal workers when they need it and when there is no work in their particular field in their region of the country.

Protecting the integrity of the system is extremely important. Last year, Service Canada recovered over $530 million in ineligible EI payments. We are the ones safeguarding the EI system. The NDP should be trying to help us.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, when Canadians questioned Conservative legislation on privacy concerns, we were accused of standing with child pornographers. Now the Conservatives are resorting to name-calling again, accusing anyone who opposes their EI cuts and quotas of defending fraudsters. Canadians who have lost their jobs, through no fault of their own, deserve better than a minister who calls EI too lucrative and who guts it at every turn.

When will the minister stop demonizing the EI recipients and admit that the vast majority are hard-working people who simply want to access the benefits that they themselves paid for?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, I am totally in support of making sure EI is there for those who need it when they are eligible for it. That is the whole purpose of it; but to do that, we have to maintain the integrity of the system. That means rooting out fraud. That means going after people who are cheating the system and claiming taxpayer dollars to which they are not entitled. We do wish that the NDP would support us in rooting out these people, so that those who are entitled to EI, who are eligible, will have the funds there for them when they need it.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Andrew Cash NDP Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, the recent changes to EI are another example how out of touch the Conservatives are with Canadians in the arts and culture sector. Instead of supporting them, they have left them out in the cold, and it is the young workers who are affected the most. Often they work contract to contract, and in between they are looking for the next job. That is how it works. That is what Conservatives do not understand. When will they stop characterizing all unemployed as the bad guys and start taking seriously the issues of work in the arts and culture sector?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, we are well aware of the changes our government has made to support artists, to support those who work contract to contract. It is our government that brought in the EI special benefits made available to those workers on an opt-in basis. That was the first time this had ever happened, the first time these people could access sickness benefits, compassionate care benefits, parental leave when they are expecting and have had a child. It is our government that is standing up to support not only the arts but the artists as well.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Philip Toone NDP Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

Mr. Speaker, the people protesting today are not a band of fraudsters. They are protesting in good faith to express their disagreement with the employment insurance reform.

People wonder why the Conservatives want to punish and even expel people from the resource regions. They are shocked that they have not been consulted and they are right to be shocked.

The minister will have a chance to consult them on February 27. Rather than call them “bad guys” and “fraudsters”, will she attend that meeting?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, no government does as much as ours when it comes to consulting Canadians before creating policies.

There is a shortage of workers with certain skills in this country. The changes to the employment insurance system include increased assistance and support to unemployed workers so that they can find another job, so that they can earn more money when they work than when they do not work.

We are here to help those people and their families. The NDP should support us in helping those families.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, Acadians have already been deported once, and the Conservatives will not be deporting them a second time. It is not true that they are going to be punished because they live in resource regions that depend on seasonal work.

Let us get one thing straight: this reform punishes honest workers. And honest workers are not "bad guys", as the minister said. They are people who support their families. Even the Conservative members from the Atlantic provinces say that this reform is an insult to workers.

Why does the minister not get out of her office and go and see what is going on in the field? I invite her to come to Caraquet and to—

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, the employment insurance system is available for full-time and seasonal workers.

Employment insurance will continue to be there for workers in the regions that depend on the resource sector, but they are still responsible for making a reasonable effort to find another job during the seasons when they do not work. If they cannot find a job, employment insurance will be available.

Human Resources and Skills Development CanadaOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Liberal Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, last week I asked the minister a question on behalf of the people who have had their personal information exposed by her department.

These people want to know when the last time was that her department can account for the stolen hard drive. Now she has had last week and the weekend to work on this, and those impacted are sick and tired of the talking points: that it is totally unacceptable, that she takes this very seriously and that she is taking measures.

I have a simple question. When was the last time the minister's department can account for the lost hard drive?

Human Resources and Skills Development CanadaOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, it is true that this loss of information by the department is totally unacceptable. It was unavoidable. It is not acceptable, and it is not acceptable to treat that lightly as the hon. member is trying to do.

Human Resources and Skills Development CanadaOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Human Resources and Skills Development CanadaOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order. The hon. Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development has the floor.

Human Resources and Skills Development CanadaOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Conservative

Diane Finley Conservative Haldimand—Norfolk, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have instructed the department to overhaul all the systems, all the processes they have regarding the protection of Canadians' information, so that this sort of thing will not and cannot happen again.

PovertyOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Liberal Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, today the Conference Board rated Canada's performance on income inequality as “significantly below average”.

Clearly we have a lot of work to do. Last June the House passed my private member's motion that gave the finance committee one year to conduct an in-depth study of income inequality. That was eight months ago, and the study has not yet been commenced.

Will the Conservatives accept the will of this House and allow and support the finance committee to do an in-depth study on income inequality and how we should tackle it?

PovertyOral Questions

February 4th, 2013 / 2:35 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, it is a little bit late for the Liberals to be showing an interest in this. Child poverty, under their reign, was over 18%. It is now under 8%.

Why; because of tax measures our government has tabled to raise people out of poverty. We have introduced several supports, the working income tax benefit, the child tax benefit, the child tax credit, the universal child care benefit.

We have cut taxes over 140 times, so that Canadians have more money in their pockets—in fact, over $3,000 on average per family to help raise them out of poverty.

PovertyOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Lise St-Denis Liberal Saint-Maurice—Champlain, QC

Mr. Speaker, according to that same report, one in six children lives below the poverty line. The longer the Conservative government sits idly by, the worse life gets for society's most vulnerable. The report ranks us 15th of the 17 countries studied.

Is this because existing programs are ineffective? Will the government pay attention to this report and create new social programs to help children?

PovertyOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, the child poverty rate has dropped by 10% from 18% under the Liberal government to 8% under ours.

This is a major accomplishment achieved through repeated tax cuts. Families now have $3,000 more in their pockets than they did before we came to power. Unfortunately, the Liberals and the NDP have voted against every one of our initiatives.

Public SafetyOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

NDP

Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives are still all talk and photo ops when it comes to building safer communities.

The Conservatives continue to bring forward more laws, but they refuse to make sure our officers on the streets have the tools and resources they need.

At a recent summit, the Minister of Public Safety warned police forces they will face serious cutbacks and even claimed the biggest problem was high salaries for our front-line police officers.

Can the minister explain how fewer officers with lower pay dealing with ever-greater demands will actually make our communities safer?

Public SafetyOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Provencher Manitoba

Conservative

Vic Toews ConservativeMinister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, I said no such thing.

Public SafetyOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

NDP

Rosane Doré Lefebvre NDP Alfred-Pellan, QC

Mr. Speaker, Montreal is grappling with a wave of violence connected to organized crime, but the Conservatives have refused to renew funding for the Eclipse squad. Joint forces are the best way to fight the Mafia and street gangs. By cutting funding for squads that have proven their worth, the Conservatives are taking another step backward in the fight against crime.

Making tougher laws will not solve the problem without adequate police resources to enforce those laws.

Will the minister reverse his decision to cut the Eclipse squad's funding?