Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was budget.

Last in Parliament November 2005, as Liberal MP for Hamilton East—Stoney Creek (Ontario)

Lost his last election, in 2006, with 35% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Unemployment Insurance Act September 20th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I start by thanking the hon. member from Saint-Hubert for bringing to light what she perceives to be a serious problem facing Canadian women. We respect that the hon. member is very knowledgeable about women's issues and is sensitive to the various forms of bias from which they suffer.

This country is founded on the firm conviction that each and every citizen, regardless of gender, age, race or abilities has a right to receive a wide variety of health and social assisted services. It is our practice and not just our policy to ensure equitable access and respectful treatment in all our dealings with the citizens of this country. It is a part of our social heritage, an affirmation of Canada's commitment to human dignity. It is an expression of our dedication to the ideals of social justice, equality and personal security.

I also want to make it crystal clear to the House and the hon. member that this government is open to reviewing any aspect of all our social programs, including the Unemployment Insurance Act. The obvious need to re-evaluate the efficacy of our social safety system is at the very heart of social security reform.

This government was elected on a platform of creating opportunities for Canadians. In our view the social security review is crucial if we are to achieve that goal because ultimately, reform is nothing less than a response to a desire for change. It offers us a rare chance to redefine the values, the assumptions and working principles with which to deal with the questions of opportunities for all Canadians. Through this renewal process we will reach a consensus about what our priorities should be and how we can achieve them, given the money and tools available.

I assure the hon. member there will be ample opportunity to carefully consider her concerns for the plight of economically disadvantaged women within this overall debate.

Imposing conditions on the basis of gender would indeed be discriminatory, as would imposing restrictions on the basis of family status, but the current law does not do that. I think it would be helpful to look at just what section 3(2)(c) says. This provision of the Unemployment Insurance Act stipulates that all employees, regardless of gender or marital status, are assured the same protection. The law simply defines the kind of business relationship people must have before they can receive UI benefits.

Every working citizen of this country, whether male or female, be they employed by a spouse, a sibling, a parent or a child, is eligible to pay premiums and to receive benefits so long as there is an employer-employee relationship. It is what the act calls an arm's length relationship.

Unemployment insurance relies on Revenue Canada to determine what constitutes an arm's length relationship between employers and family members in their employ regardless of gender. More than four times out of five, Revenue Canada rules that a true business association does exist and payments are made accordingly. The record shows that people in need employed in family firms are obtaining their rightful benefits.

In 1992-93 for example workers of family businesses filed tens of thousands of claims for unemployment insurance. Of those, 15,000 cases were reviewed and more than 75 per cent were accepted at face value with no questions asked. Of the remainder, a further three-quarters were eventually accepted. Only 10 per cent of claimants were unable to satisfy the criteria.

I do not want to appear to downplay the possibility of discrimination in our legislation. Canadians justifiably demand dignity, respect and equality for all, an obligation this government is committed to fulfil.

I should point out however that the provision being examined by Bill C-218 was included in the act precisely to remove objectionable regulations which did discriminate against married couples working in family businesses. Previously, employed spouses were automatically disqualified from receiving unemployment insurance benefits because of their family status. Paragraph 3(2)(c) has reversed that regulation and made the system more equitable. That is in keeping with the new reality in the workforce.

As members of this House are well aware, women today play a crucial role in our economy, especially in the burgeoning small business sector. As the engine of national growth, women are clearly in the driver's seat. We know that more women than men start small businesses today in Canada and that those companies now provide more jobs than the large corporations.

For more than a decade over 150,000 small businesses have been started each year. They account for some 90 per cent of all new jobs created annually in this country. We also know that women enjoy a very high success rate in keeping their companies running. Between 1975 and 1990 the ranks of self-employed women in Canada grew by a phenomenal 172 per cent compared with 50 per cent for self-employed men during that period. It is also a fact that a large number of these small companies are owned and operated by families, often employing spouses or other members of the immediate family. We want to do everything we can to ensure such progress continues.

One of the objectives of our social security reform is to assure our social spending supports and nurtures women in business as they blaze a trail to the next century. If that means the Unemployment Insurance Act needs to be modified, so be it. When we make those changes, we will have to preserve the delicate balance between managing the program responsibly and ensuring that benefits go to those who need and are entitled to them.

Taxpayers are counting on us to ensure the fair and equitable provisions of UI benefits. They expect that our social security supports should be flexible enough to accommodate workers' changing needs.

Canadians want assurances that any changes to the system are implemented on the same principles of fairness and integrity, which have been the cornerstones of our society and system of government. That is precisely what we have been working to achieve.

The hon. member is correct in pointing out that many women in our society are still in a position of economic disadvantage. It is certainly one of the primary issues which has prompted this government to want to undertake the social security review. However we will not sit idly by awaiting the outcome of that process. Work is already under way and we will continue to address some of these inequalities.

In fact, we recently made adjustments to the Unemployment Insurance Act to increase UI benefits for low income parents. I am referring specifically to the dependency benefit rate. It is a provision that provides extra benefits to people who earn a low income and who support a dependant, or whose spouse supports a dependant.

People qualifying under this category, most frequently women, are now eligible to receive 60 percent instead of the 55 per cent benefit rate. This measure respects the important role women play within our families and supports them in that task. It recognizes that the person providing care for a dependant is contributing to the social and economic health of Canada and should be compensated accordingly.

It is just one example of the ways we are attempting to better manage the social security system to make it more responsive to the realities facing Canadians. It is also proof of this government's commitment to a thorough review of all our social programs. We want to see where all of them should be updated and improved to prepare for the future.

That is why the bill before us should not be considered in isolation. Rather, it has to be looked at in the context of the global process of recommendations and options being developed as part of the overall renewal of our social security system.

That does not mean the hon. member should abandon her passion for the plight of economically disadvantaged women. I suggest she should instead take full advantage of the opportunities presented by the social security review to represent the interests of women.

Members on the government side of the House are convinced that we can put our energies to the best use by working together to confront the full range of the very real and pressing problems that must be addressed. We invite the member for Saint-Hubert to join us in that process of reform.

Stoney Creek Battle Field Monument June 9th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I rise to share with my colleagues the news that I had the pleasure last weekend of participating in the reopening of the Stoney Creek Battle Field Monument. I would like to extend my sincerest congratulations to the Preserve the Monument Committee and to the community of Stoney Creek for having undertaken this project.

The monument is located on the very site where the Battle of Stoney Creek took place on June 6, 1813. It is particularly fitting that this week, while we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of D-Day, we pause and reflect on the sacrifices made by the Loyalist soldiers in the war of 1812. Some paid the ultimate price but in doing so they helped to ensure that Canada would be born strong and free.

The Stoney Creek Battlefield Monument is a lasting reminder that those who came before us believed that what we now know as Canada was worth dying for. That is their legacy.

The monument is Stoney Creek's legacy to them and it stands as an important symbol that they did not die in vain nor will those sacrifices be forgotten.

Supply June 8th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to see that the hon. member has read the red book and has read our commitments. Certainly as a Liberal Party we are going to meet our commitments.

The national child care program we are certainly committed to is outlined in the red book and that would be once the economy reaches 3 per cent. I understand that we would actually be initiating that one year after the growth in the economy.

We certainly do support the national child care program and we would be implementing this program one year after the economy reaches that 3 per cent growth.

Supply June 8th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for the question. I certainly concur that we are very committed to helping the status of women and certainly through a number of initiatives that we have come forward with we will certainly be doing that.

I have gone into my riding and talked on many occasions in high schools, encouraging young women to get involved in science and technology programs, indicating to them that this is the future. We need to rely on training and providing incentives to women to participate in science and technology and certainly to give them opportunities both in the private and public sector to display the skills they have.

Certainly the Liberal government is committed to providing opportunities for women both through this infrastructure and in all other areas.

Supply June 8th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise this evening to speak on this most auspicious occasion, the debate on the first main estimates of the government.

Other members have talked about how the government has demonstrated its resolve to restore order to Canada's fiscal house. I would like to talk about another pledge that we made to Canadians: to provide government services that Canadians want and need in an affordable and efficient manner. We promised to work to eliminate overlap and duplication with other levels of government and to ensure that the Canadian taxpayer is not paying twice for the same or similar services.

The government is very serious about keeping these pledges and about restoring the faith of Canadians in their government institutions. It is equally serious about ensuring that a public service that has been cut repeatedly over the last 10 years is still able to deliver quality, responsive services to their clients.

I would like to talk about some of the many management initiatives of the government that will enable us to keep our promises to Canadians. As the February budget announced, the government will release a declaration of quality service by the end of the summer. This declaration will be a service scheme for all public servants to follow. It will describe what the government views as good government service. It will tell Canadians what kind of service and treatment they can expect to receive when they telephone a government number, visit a federal office or write to a government agency.

This declaration will provide clear direction to all public service employees about the kind of service the government wants Canadians to receive from all federal offices. While we may not be able to deliver all services in line with the declaration right now, an achievable but challenging target is one way of getting there.

The declaration is only one part of the government's plan to tell Canadians what they can expect when they use a government service. It will be a broad government-wide vision of quality service.

Just as important as the declaration are the service standards that each department and agency of government are expected to produce. Service standards will build on the quality pledge included in this declaration and go even further. Written in plain language they describe the particular services and programs of each department. They will talk about the actual level of service that Canadians should expect to receive, such as how long before the telephone is answered, applications are processed or letters are responded to. They will include some measures of the cost of the service or program so Canadians can judge if they are getting value for money.

Finally, service standards will include simple, easy to use complaint mechanisms so Canadians have an effective avenue of redress if they are not satisfied with the service they are receiving.

Service standards should be developed in consultation with the program's clients and employees. The government believes consultation with Canadians is an important step in restoring faith in federal institutions. To this end we are determined to develop an effective consultation process.

By talking to the people who actually use or deliver the service, government managers get a better idea of what is most important to their clients. When asked clients generally offer worthwhile suggestions on how the service could be improved. By finding out what Canadians value, government managers can concentrate their energies and efforts where the return in terms of increased client satisfaction is the greatest. They can use the information to eliminate or reduce services that no longer meet the needs of today's clients.

Service standards are real. Mr. Speaker, when you filed your income taxes this year you will have noticed in the guide the declaration of taxpayers' rights. This is not new. What was new was a statement by the department that even at the height of income tax processing in April and May returns can normally be processed and cheques or assessments returned within four weeks. This gives Canadians a very concrete idea of what they can expect.

Enquiries Canada, part of the Canada Communication Group, has a number of service standards in place. For example, phone calls are answered, with a bilingual greeting I might add, in three rings or 16 seconds 85 per cent of the time. Any inquiry requiring further research is answered by the research team within 24 hours and the research officers do the callbacks to the clients themselves.

Correspondence received by Enquiries Canada is answered within 48 hours.

As we can see, this is a real and concrete description of the services that are being offered, something Canadians can monitor to see if the organizations are continuing to meet these targets.

The inspections branch of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans has developed draft standards that are based on consultation with clients and staff. One set deals with how the department will handle complaints. Complaints involving health and safety of fish products will be investigated immediately. Trade complaints or complaints involving quality or consumer fraud will be investigated within three working days.

This is an example of how the department is becoming more sensitive to the service needs of its clients.

My final example of the service standards comes from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. The department has established a single access food labelling service for the Canadian food industry. The service consolidated food labelling activities involving the former departments of consumer and corporate affairs and agriculture under four different pieces of legislation. The new service will complete a label assessment within 10 working days.

These are all examples where federal departments and agencies have clearly spelled out for Canadians the level of service they can expect to receive. We can monitor their performance and see if they are meeting their targets. We can discuss their targets with them. For the first time we will know what response we should expect from a government department or agency.

Of course, developing service standards is only one step in more efficiently delivering effective and affordable programs. One way to really improve the services that Canadians are receiving is to eliminate the stovepipe mentality resulting from separate government departments. Based on clients' perspective, related services from a number of departments and agencies can be provided in one location. That is what the Canada Business Service Centre concept is all about, one stop shopping for the business client.

CBSCs provide a comprehensive access point for information, assistance and referrals on all federal programs and services to business.

In the last budget this government made a commitment to open at least one centre in a major urban area in each province this year. Furthermore, we are working with the provinces and the private sector to develop a single access point for federal, provincial and community-based programs and services of interest to business clients.

Clients have access to CBSC services by telephone and facsimile transmission, in person and in future electronically from home or business. Aside from some start-up funds to offset technology investment, CBSCs are being established within existing operating resources.

Since these estimates were tabled on February 24 the Canada-B.C. Business Service Centre has officially opened, this in addition to three CBSCs in Halifax, Edmonton and Winnipeg which have been up and running for some time. Four new centres will open in the early summer in Montreal, Fredericton, St. John's and Charlottetown. Most of these will operate in conjunction with provincial services and one will even have the participation of the local chamber of commerce. The remaining centres will open in the early fall.

Harmonizing federal and provincial services in one location is a giant step forward. However, it is even more important to determine that the programs and services that we are delivering are still relevant to the needs of today's Canadians. To that end, the budget announced a series of program reviews. The most

fundamental and far reaching of these is the government's review of Canada's social security system.

The Minister for Human Resources Development is leading this review. He has already launched a dialogue with Canadians and the provinces on our social security system. The entire range of social programs and issues will be covered in this review. They include unemployment insurance, training and other employment programs, the Canada assistance plan, security for families and children, assistance for persons with disabilities, post-secondary education and student loans.

The Standing Committee on Human Resources Development will begin consultations on the action plan in the very near future. Members of this House will be invited to undertake their own consultations.

Redesigning services and programs to meet the real needs of Canadians is absolutely imperative to ensure that the most valued services and programs are delivered efficiently and affordably. However, it is just as important that public servants are ready and equipped to deliver these services.

As part of this broader re-engineering effort, the government released the blueprint for renewing government services using information technology. The blueprint contains a vision of how the government can use today's information technology to deliver responsive and affordable services. It identifies the need for a government wide electronic information infrastructure to support service delivery renewal.

The common infrastructure will allow the development of knowledgeable employees free from organizational constraints and able to answer questions and deal with the programs of a number of federal governments.

The blueprint is one of many approaches to advancing the one-stop shopping concept and eliminating the stovepipe attributable to government organizations.

The government is taking other measures to ensure that taxpayers' money is spent wisely, with true consideration given to real need. For example, with the introduction of operating budgets managers were provided with one sum of money to cover employee costs and operating and maintenance costs. This eliminated the person year control system. This person year control system often acted as a barrier to improving services to Canadians by not allowing managers to achieve the right input mix of staff, services and equipment.

To cut down on the wasteful year end spending practices that we often read about in the Auditor General's annual reports, departments were allowed to carry forward from one fiscal year to the next 2 per cent of their operating budgets. There was therefore no need to rush out and purchase computers or lab equipment that departments did not need right away but knew they were going to need in the next fiscal year.

This government is currently evaluating whether the 2 per cent carry forward has been effective in eliminating the so-called year end spending binge or whether it needs to be increased to 5 per cent. I am confident that the President of the Treasury Board will advise us of the results of this study in due course.

Departments and agencies that are closely located are starting to share common services like meeting rooms, libraries, internal mail distribution, to free resources that have been used in this kind of duplicative and costly overhead. To date there are over 200 such initiatives being discussed or implemented in every province across the country.

We are streamlining and updating our payments and procurement processes through the use of modern technology. This will have tremendous benefits both in terms of cost avoidance and in terms of better service to those firms that want to sell goods and services to the government.

In conclusion, let me assure hon. members of this House that the government intends to keep its pledge to deliver the services Canadians want and need in an affordable and efficient manner.

I have talked today about a number of management initiatives the government is pursuing. The list is just a start. It is just a beginning. As we look at how we are serving Canadians and delivering our programs, as we continually strive to learn and improve, other such initiatives will follow.

Householder Poll June 7th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise and report to the House of Commons that I have received hundreds of replies to my householder questionnaire. The views of the residents of Lincoln are important and I want my constituents to know that their representative is listening.

The residents of Lincoln have made it overwhelmingly clear that they want to see deficit reduction as one of the top priorities of government. They want the cost of government operations cut and they want reductions in crown corporation subsidies.

As the representative for Lincoln I too share their concerns and frustrations. I am encouraged by the course the government has charted in promoting fiscal responsibility and prudence.

The government will continue to improve efficiencies in government operations the residents of Lincoln demanded and I will do my part to help achieve our goal of good government. I will continue to solicit the views of my constituents of Lincoln and I look forward to sharing them with my colleagues in the House of Commons.

Auditor General Act March 25th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I speak with great pleasure on this bill to amend the Auditor General Act, introduced by the hon. member for Ottawa-Vanier.

The issue of whether the Auditor General Act should be amended to allow the Auditor General to report the findings of his audits as often as he deems necessary or when he has completed each audit rather than just annually has been discussed in this House on many occasions over the last 10 years.

The hon. member for Ottawa-Vanier has been a long time supporter of this notion. His experience as a former chairman of the public accounts committee has undoubtedly given him good reason to propose such an amendment to such a significant piece of legislation. It is important that we have this debate today.

As I understand it the primary reason for introducing such a change is to ensure that Parliament and the public accounts committee receive and have the opportunity to discuss the important findings of the Auditor General on a more timely basis. This implies that corrective action could be taken on a more timely basis and that Parliament would be in a better position to influence that action.

I also understand this approach to reporting may lead to certain efficiencies within the Office of the Auditor General. These are admirable goals.

I also note as has been argued that other countries such as the United Kingdom and the United States have a system of periodic reporting. This does not mean, however, that we should jump on the bandwagon without serious debate and consideration of the issues.

The United States of course has a system that is quite different from our own and even the United Kingdom has different needs and traditions.

The issue of reporting was discussed fully when the Auditor General Act was first introduced in 1977. It was the considered opinion of the experts at that time that annual reporting best suited the needs of the Canadian Parliament. It was felt that annual reporting was appropriate because it relates to the annual issue of public accounts. It facilitates consideration by Parliament which operates on an annual expenditure cycle. It introduces a note of regularity into the report process and it makes it possible to compare from one year to the next.

It is interesting to note also that the provinces have similar reporting requirements to those of our Auditor General. There must be some reason why, although there seems to have been general consensus in previous debates on the purposes of these proposed amendments, no government to date has taken action to amend the act.

There are several possibilities for this lack of action. One reason may be that the Auditor General already has the authority to make special reports to Parliament. Section 8 of the current act allows him to make a special report to the House of Commons on any matter of pressing importance or urgency that in his opinion should not be deferred until the presentation of his annual report. This provision ensures that Parliament can be informed of major issues as determined by the Auditor General on a timely basis.

Another reason may be that there was concern that allowing the Auditor General to report more often during the year would lead to a loss of focus by both parliamentarians and Canadians at large on the results of the Auditor General's work.

The annual focus on the Auditor General's report is most important. As we well know, it is this attention, this potential to effect change through public scrutiny, that makes the work of the Auditor General so valuable.

I think, however, that the real issue here is what would be the impact of the proposed changes on the independence of the Auditor General. We would not want to support changes that would in any way put at risk the effectiveness of the Auditor General. I am sure the hon. member for Ottawa-Vanier concurs.

The Auditor General is held in such high esteem by parliamentarians and Canadians and his findings are given such credence primarily because he is seen as being independent from government and above the politics of Parliament.

If the Auditor General were put in the position of bearing the sole responsibility for choosing the timing of his reports, as suggested by this bill, he might be faced with the dilemma of presenting a report on a subject currently being hotly debated in the House. There is real risk that one or the other side of this House would perceive that as being in some way partisan.

Just one ill-considered accusation by a member of this House or by the media could affect the non-partisan image that all Canadians have of the Auditor General. It would therefore be regrettable if the timing of the tabling of individual reports were to become yet another concern for the Auditor General's busy office.

There was further concern. Under the present system the Auditor General is free to choose the areas and issues he wishes to audit and report on. The office of the Auditor General has a very considered planning process that has served us well. Of course, when choosing he takes into consideration the concerns of parliamentarians and Canadians. If, however, he reports more frequently he may be put under increasing pressure by parliamentarians, committees, the government and the media to address hot topics of the day.

As I mentioned earlier, the general accounting office in the United States does issue its reports-

Job Training February 15th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, a key issue in the Liberal campaign platform is getting Canadians back to work. One way this will occur is by strenghthening and assisting the small and medium-size business sectors.

We all know of small businesses that have had difficulty obtaining proper financing. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business makes the point that equity markets are biased toward large firms. The only way to relieve the equity problem of small firms is to create incentives for Canadians to invest their savings in private businesses to create wealth and jobs in local communities across the country.

With so many Canadians facing retraining, the government must begin to acknowledge that informal training provided by small and medium-sized businesses is a critical dimension to the retraining taking place. The government must develop training initiatives which support small businesses involved in retraining in the informal setting.

Our public funding of skills development should focus on literacy and generic skills. Maximum autonomy should be placed at the local community level to determine training needs and outcomes.

If any of these recommendations are adopted it would help spur a recovery in the small and medium-sized business sectors and assist in the recovery of the Canadian economy. This is, after all, what Canadians have asked for.

Social Security System February 2nd, 1994

I appreciate the opportunity to respond. I should also state that training is a shared responsibility. Through consultations like today, I am sure we will investigate the various opportunities available in order to deal with the training.

As a government we are promoting a national objective. We want to increase employment. We are looking at the portability of these skills so we can break down interprovincial trade barriers and have the movement of skills and capital throughout the provinces.

Although the hon. member is indicating that the skills and training should be taken care of by the province of Quebec, we as a government are pushing for the reduction of those trade barriers and increasing employment. We are also taking other measures besides the national apprenticeship program. We are bringing in, as we have announced, an infrastructure program right across the country to increase employment. We believe that by breaking down these barriers and allowing the transfer of skills across the provinces we will achieve success.

Social Security System February 2nd, 1994

Madam Speaker, I would like to begin by congratulating all my colleagues who were elected to the House of Commons on October 25. I would also like to thank the constituents of Lincoln for electing me to office. I consider it an honour and will do my best to serve them. I would like to thank my family and friends for their support and also the many volunteers who worked so very hard during the election.

For those hon. members who are not familiar with my riding of Lincoln, it includes part of east Hamilton through to St. Catharines which encompasses Stoney Creek, Grimsby, Beamsville, Vineland and Jordan.

Lincoln's workforce combines the industry found in Hamilton East and Stoney Creek and the farming area for which the Niagara Peninsula is so famous. Both of these industries have been under severe pressure due to increased global competitiveness. That is why I am pleased to have this opportunity to address the hon. members on some of the means by which this government will effectively manage its labour and employment programs despite the continuing financial constraints.

At the outset I want to acknowledge the Minister of Human Resources Development. My colleague, the hon. member for Winnipeg South Centre, is playing a strategic and visionary role in leading our government on these critical matters.

As the Minister of Human Resources Development has pointed out, in developed societies like ours the primary source of income is derived from paid work. Earnings are distributed among family members and savings are put aside for education, retirement and the unforeseen contingencies.

In the same way our social security network allocates funds for the benefit of children, the unemployed and our senior citizens. Learning, training, income security and old age pensions are all inextricably intertwined and this is a reality that we must face as we approach the whole question of social reform in a rapidly evolving society.

We cannot do this in piecemeal fashion, as there are many considerations we have to take into account. While this government must and will take the lead in this process it is vital that all affected parties, particularly labour, business and special interest groups, be involved in the consultation process.

Recent history shows that countries best able to contend with economic changes are the ones committed to strong labour-management partnerships. These types of networks and alliances set up by consistently successful industrial nations illustrate how critical consultation and co-operation are to achieving that competitive edge.

Human resources are at the very top of this government's list of priorities with respect to restoring Canada to a leading industrial nation. Our focus is to get Canadians working. To get Canadians working the contribution of skills development to economic performance must be emphasized.

One of the pivotal factors leading to improved productivity, trade performance and creativity is the enhancement of those proficient skills. These skills are the key to our long term competitiveness, both in specific industries and in the entire economy. The very nature of employment is changing.

Most income securities were designed in an era of strong demand for labour at all skill levels. It was possible for individuals to leave school at almost any age or to arrive in Canada from any country and find work quickly. The prospects that work would pay reasonably well and would lead to a career with the same employer were quite good at that time but the economy and labour markets have changed since the mid seventies Traditional sources of high wage and high benefit employment such as large companies and government are cutting jobs.

Most jobs now being created require relatively high skill levels. Often these are difficult to fill because too many of the applicants lack the required proficiency. This has lead to a disproportionate impact on two groups of workers. One comprises of the older workers whose skills are now obsolete and whose wage expectations are high, and the other group is made up of young people who have not undergone the training necessary to move into these positions.

We all know that young people are facing hardship today. They have the highest rate of unemployment in the country and in Lincoln, in particular, the unemployment figure for youth is close to 22 per cent. We cannot permit this new generation to reach adulthood without any sense of achieving employment security. It has become increasingly evident that market forces alone will not solve our problems. We must focus our attention on providing Canadians with the opportunity for meaningful employment, employment that contributes to the growth and development of our economy.

There will be employment gains made in some sectors of the economy. For example, the service sector, including both the high tech and the more traditional service industries, is expected to continue to grow in the 1990s as well as the small business sector.

Almost half of the new jobs created between 1979 and 1989 came from firms with fewer than 20 employees. The economy is creating jobs that demand more education. Between 1990 and 1993 jobs from university graduates increased by 17 per cent, while those for high school graduates remained about the same. More important, jobs for high school dropouts dropped by 17 per cent.

At a time when jobs that pay well require higher skill levels we have almost 40 per cent of Canadians with limited or no reading skills.

The statistics are quite alarming but the difficulties that they reflect are not insurmountable. Working together we can galvanize our intellectual resources and face these daunting challenges as we have done in many areas of endeavour before.

It will take a collaborative approach with the provinces, the private sector and communities across the country. It will also take creativity and courage to change our preconceived notions about how to go about changing the business of the activating of our work force and instilling it with confidence.

Through consultation with all members of the House, small business, labour and other interested parties, we will ensure labour issues are dealt with in a manner that provides for the highest possible standards, consistent with progressive training and leading-edge technology.

Through consultation we may devise restructured working arrangements to better accommodate work and family responsibilities. This could well involve reducing the number of working hours or bringing in shared employment to protect jobs and ensure the equitable distribution of the total hours of work available.

In conjunction with the provinces, private sector, unions and local communities, this government will strive to improve the income security programs. A comprehensive and integrated approach to reforming the whole raft of national and provincial social programs is necessary to restore the hope, confidence and pride of the Canadian people.

These redesigned programs will better meet our current and future needs within the context of providing work incentives rather than disincentives. The government is undertaking the redesign of programs because it has a vision. The vision will have the objective of encouraging individual incentive, promoting the creation of wealth, and establishing a robust export-oriented economy which will benefit Canadians.