House of Commons photo


Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was liberal.

Last in Parliament September 2008, as Conservative MP for Palliser (Saskatchewan)

Won his last election, in 2006, with 43% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Committees of the House October 18th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I am glad the member for Cypress Hills—Grasslands brought this up because we are talking about character, the character of this government and the character of our Prime Minister, people who actually follow through on what they say they are going to do in a campaign. We said we were going to do one thing and we are doing that.

The member for Malpeque talked about freedom of expression. What we are talking about is freedom of choice. There are not many businesses in this country or in the world that work like the Wheat Board system without that choice. Many farmers have fought for that choice and we have listened. These people are not masochists. My friend from Cypress Hills—Grasslands is not crazy. He thinks he can do it better. He wants that choice so he can better himself. We will still have a strong, viable Wheat Board, as the member said.

I would like to ask my friend, the parliamentary secretary, why producers in Ontario do not have to operate under a board monopoly system. If the monopoly system is so great and that is where it is at, why is it only producers like himself in western Canada who have to operate under that system? Why is that not the case in provinces like Ontario?

Business of Supply October 5th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, government members on this side of the House believe in older workers. We believe in giving them choices and empowering older workers through training and skills development to enable them to get back into the workforce. Of course we are very sympathetic to the plight of older workers who are trying to rejoin the workforce. We are going to help them in every way possible because we recognize the important role that older workers play in Canada and the tremendous contribution they make. I covered that in my speech. It is critical to the success of our country.

In my riding of Palliser a pork plant employing 300 people, Worldwide Pork, declared bankruptcy. It has reconstituted itself into a company called Moose Jaw Pork Packers . It is going through some difficulties right now and is adjusting its business plan.

I have talked to people like Lawrence Peverette in Moose Jaw who called me repeatedly to talk about the plight of people who were thrown into unemployment, not just so-called prime age workers but older workers as well.

I am very sympathetic. I talked repeatedly with the minister and with the parliamentary secretary as to how the government could best help these people. They were very receptive to hearing the story of the people at Moose Jaw Pork Packers. We are doing everything we can on this side of the House to help displaced workers.

We believe this is a huge opportunity for this country in terms of helping to address the labour shortages. Older workers are a critical part of our labour force and our economy. We in this government are going to do everything we can to stand behind these individuals.

The member asked if I can support his motion. Not as it currently stands. There are far too many unknowns. I sat here and listened with interest this morning. We do not have a price tag put on this motion. It is a pretty important thing that we address all the costs involved. I will listen with great interest though if there are any amendments put forward.

Business of Supply October 5th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I think the parliamentary secretary certainly appreciates the importance of keeping older workers engaged in the labour market. There are strong indications that older workers can and want to work longer, if only on a part time basis. Older workers provide a valuable contribution to the labour market which is important to the economic well-being of this country. I covered that at length in my speech.

In light of Canada's aging population and growing labour shortages in various sectors of the economy, it is essential to provide tools and opportunities to help experienced workers stay active in the labour force. It is critical for this country.

Business of Supply October 5th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, yes, of course, the Minister of Finance I am sure will take that suggestion to heart.

Anything basically that we can do to limit the tax burden of Canadians, that is what this government is aiming to do. Certainly that benefits all older workers and indeed, the entire country.

Business of Supply October 5th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, this government is extremely proud of the measures that we have already undertaken, especially in budget 2006, to reduce income taxes for all Canadians. We are extremely proud of that. All Canadians have benefited and certainly older workers have benefited.

I say through you, Mr. Speaker, to my friend opposite, stay tuned for more good news in terms of allowing Canadians to keep more of their hard-earned money, because frankly that is what this government is all about.

Regarding the income-splitting suggestion, I am sure Minister Flaherty will take that comment under advisement--

Business of Supply October 5th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to have this opportunity to respond to the motion presented by the member for Chambly—Borduas, which proposes the implementation of an income support program to assist older workers in all economic sectors and in all regions of this country.

I can assure the House that Canada's new government shares the hon. member's concern about the challenges faced by older workers in Canada.

As the Prime Minister emphasized recently, our nation needs older workers in the labour force if we are to maintain a strong and healthy economy. We recognize that Canadian workers have a great wealth of skills and experience to contribute to the labour market. It is therefore absolutely critical for the well-being of the nation and the well-being of older workers that we find ways to keep them in the labour force and maximize our use of their knowledge, expertise and diverse skill sets. Allow me to expand on why this is an increasingly pressing issue.

Like all OECD countries, Canada is facing the challenge of an aging population as a result of a declining birth rate and increased life expectancy. This resultant slowing of labour force growth means that we will be seeing skill shortages in key industries and occupations in regions across the country. I am sure all members know that these shortages could have a negative effect on GDP per capita growth and hence the standard of living of all Canadians.

If employment rates by age group and gender remain at current levels, Canada's labour force will increase by less than 5% over the next 50 years, compared to the 200% growth that took place between 1950 and the turn of the century.

It is a remarkable and revealing fact that older workers in Canada have become our principal source of labour force growth in recent years. Between 1995 and 2005, their participation in the labour force saw an increase of 11%. There is no doubt that this recent reversal of the long decline in the labour force participation rate for older workers is good news for them and for our nation.

Nevertheless, older workers' participation in the labour force is still far below the rate for so-called prime age workers. In 2005, the older workers' labour force participation rate was 58%, as opposed to 87% for prime age workers. The difference between the two rates represents a tremendous loss of skills and expertise from which our labour force could greatly benefit.

Looking to the future, we see that the potential of older workers is even greater. Between 2000 and 2020, the portion of our population aged 55 to 64 will increase by about 50%. Given the economic repercussions of a declining labour force, we simply cannot afford to let older workers' skills and experience go unused. This is an issue the government is committed to tackling.

We are very aware of the particular challenges that older workers encounter when they try to rejoin the labour market after an early exit, and certainly we are very sympathetic to their plight. We know, for example, that recent closures and layoffs in the textile and pulp and paper industries have affected a large number of older workers and that some older Canadians have difficulty re-entering the workforce. These are challenges we are working to resolve.

As this House is aware, under part II of the Employment Insurance Act, unemployed Canadians, including older workers, may qualify for active re-employment benefits to help them find and keep new employment. These programs range from training and skills upgrading to work experience and support in becoming self-employed. I am pleased to inform the House that over 80,000 older workers over the age of 50 participated in EI part II programs last year.

As I noted earlier, we believe, as the OECD suggests, that optimizing older workers' participation in the labour market is one of the best means we have to offset the decline in labour force growth that we and many other nations are experiencing.

It is for all these reasons that budget 2006 provided $400 million in funding to the forestry sector to assist Canadians affected by global economic adjustments. This is also why we are conducting a feasibility study to evaluate current and potential measures to address the challenges faced by displaced older workers. These challenges include such diverse options as the need for improved training and the possibility of enhanced income support. The feasibility study will also provide recommendations on how we can best assist older workers over the long term.

In the meantime we are continuing to address the challenges of unemployed older workers. We will continue to focus on offering laid off workers, including older workers, assistance such as opportunities for skills development and new work experience. As part of this process we will be building on lessons learned from government pilot projects specifically designed to meet older workers' needs. The older workers pilot projects initiative, carried out between 1999 to May of this year, showed us for example that the best outcomes were achieved through approaches that combined employment assistance services like job counselling and job placement services with training, marketing and job experience.

Participants in the older workers pilot projects made it clear that older workers wanted training that was practical and relevant. I believe that determination illustrates just how much older workers in Canada want to continue to contribute to our economy in a practical and concrete way that makes the most of their abilities.

The government is well aware of the many solutions available to mitigate the slowdown in labour force growth, such as increased immigration, but it appears that one of the most practical and viable solutions is to access the untapped potential of our older workers. If the participation rates for Canadians aged 50 years to 64 years were to increase on average just one-half of a percentage point each year, we could increase labour supply by 13% by 2030.

These statistics tell a story of tremendous potential that is critical to the future prosperity of the nation.

In summary, I am confident that the government's feasibility study will help us to arrive at the best possible solutions for ensuring the crucial potential of older workers is realized now and in the decades to come. For this reason, I am unable to support the motion presented by the member for Chambly—Borduas. Perhaps there will be some amendments. I look forward to members' questions.

Business of Supply October 5th, 2006

Everyone supported the budget. You unanimously supported it.

Business of Supply October 5th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I listened to the member's speech with great interest. Let there be no doubt that within that realm this government's priority is to assist those older workers seeking employment. We want them to find and retain jobs. Our government is focused on providing older workers with the tools they need to remain employable. We support retraining for older workers and efforts to ease their transition into new employment.

The member made a comment in his speech about older workers who had gone through older worker pilot projects. He said that only 4% of these individuals had found permanent jobs. I am going to check with the minister, but I find that really surprising and tough to believe. I would not be surprised if this government would reject that figure. He said that 4% had found permanent jobs, yet he is asking for the reinstatement of these programs. I am a bit perplexed. If only 4% of the people who have gone through these pilot projects have found permanent employment, why is the member calling for the reinstatement of these programs?

Agriculture October 4th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise today in the House of Commons on behalf of the residents of Palliser and Canada's new government to state my appreciation and this government's appreciation for the tremendous contribution made by Palliser producers.

Farm families in Palliser have spent more than a decade trying to convince Liberal and NDP governments to take Canada's farm crisis seriously.

Canada's new Conservative government understands farm families. We share their values and we are standing up for them.

Our first budget provided an additional $1.5 billion for agriculture, tripling our campaign commitment.

We are going to scrap the failed Liberal CAIS program and replace it with a new farm income support program that will meet farmers' needs.

We are moving forward with our biofuels strategy.

We have listened to farmers who told us they wanted choice in marketing.

I am proud of the outstanding contribution made by Palliser producers. I will continue to fight hard for farm families here in Ottawa.

Aboriginal Affairs October 3rd, 2006

Mr. Speaker, in a speech given on May 4, 2006, B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell said, “I believe that the Prime Minister and his government are committed to closing the gaps identified in health, education, housing and economic opportunity”.

My question is for the Minister of Indian Affairs. What is Canada's new government doing to address the education needs of our first nations?