Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was brunswick.

Last in Parliament April 1997, as Liberal MP for Carleton—Charlotte (New Brunswick)

Lost his last election, in 1997, with 26% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Mrs. Dees Homer June 3rd, 1996

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to one of my constituents who is being honoured tomorrow for many years of work and dedication to the Carleton County Historical Society. From its onset, Mrs. Dees Homer was a driving force behind the historical society for many years.

The historical society has seen to the renovation of the old Carleton County Court House in Upper Woodstock, New Brunswick to its original state of the 1800s. It is now a show piece for tourists and special projects. With the complete support and assistance of her husband Ken Homer, a tremendous amount was accomplished in the re-creation and organization of special historic events in the area.

Congratulations to Dees and Ken on this special day in honour and tribute of your work and dedication over the past many years. Thank you for all your work on behalf of all the constituents of Carleton-Charlotte.

St. Stephen, New Brunswick May 16th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, 1996 marks the 125th anniversary of the incorporation of the town of St. Stephen, New Brunswick.

This Friday, May 17, the mayor, council and citizens of St. Stephen in recognition of this special anniversary have planned a re-enactment of the first town council meeting in full era costume. Following the re-enactment a special dinner will be served with food customary of the 1871 era. Dessert will commence with a cake constructed of 125 smaller cakes made by local St. Stephen families.

It is also interesting to note that the member of Parliament in 1871 was Mr. John Bolton, also a Liberal.

I commend Mayor Gillmor, the municipal council and the citizens of St. Stephen for taking such pride in the 125th anniversary of their town. They exemplify a true symbol of community spirit and unity.

Beef Industry May 15th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food.

Beef producers in Carleton-Charlotte are very concerned about the low price and the low demand for Canadian beef. These producers suggest that current Canadian import levels may be to blame.

Can the minister confirm today to Canadian beef producers that he will do all possible to encourage the sale of Canadian beef and to assure that any future import levels will not negatively impact on Canadian domestic markets?

Youth Canada Day May 10th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, last Friday more than 700 students, teachers and administrative staff of St. Stephen High School in New Brunswick celebrated Youth Canada Day.

With their theme of national unity, these students, led by their student body representatives Heather Estey and Rob Driscoll, held a truly Canadian assembly marked by the harmony of our national anthem, Canadian declarations and the many Canadian flags lining the halls of this school.

With our very large and diverse country, it is heart warming to see today's youth lead the way toward true Canadian unity, representing diversity and truly demonstrating what it means to be Canadian.

Congratulations to St. Stephen High School students and staff. They are truly leading the way for all Canadians. I am proud of their incentives and achievements in this area.

Employment Insurance Act May 10th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak on Bill C-12, as amended. It is legislation which Canadian workers, Canadian businesses and the Canadian economy so badly need.

Let me begin with a reminder. Bill C-12 introduces reforms that will remove some of the inequities of unemployment insurance and provide a more fair and balanced regime. However, while bearing in mind that employment insurance will provide temporary income for some 2.4 million unemployed workers this year, we should also remember that Bill C-12 has another aim, the fundamental aim of boosting job creation and economic growth.

It is designed to help people get back to work. It is designed to reinforce the social safety net by ensuring adequate income for those who are most in need, while at the same time reducing costs and meeting the government's budgetary requirements. It retains the structural objectives arising out of the Canada-wide consultations on the social security review. It strengthens work incentives and the insurance aspect of income support. It ensures fairness. It reduces and stabilizes premiums. It provides a simplified administration for employers. It will achieve a net savings of $1.2 billion by the year 2001-02.

The EI system is a vast improvement over the old unemployment insurance regime. Eligibility will be based on hours of work rather than weeks. Weeks are a poor measure of work, particularly for part time workers and those who hold down more than one job or those who work intensely for short periods.

There are higher entrance requirements for new entrants and re-entrants; a necessary provision to stop the cycle of dependency, particularly among young people, that the UI system tends to engender.

The maximum duration of benefits is reduced from 50 to 45 weeks. This is a realistic period since 67 per cent of all claimants find a job within the first 40 weeks of unemployment. Those who cannot find work within 45 weeks obviously need help that goes beyond income support, once again a need the EI system will be able to provide.

An increased clawback of benefits for high income claimants, particularly those who collect benefits on a regular basis, will make the system much fairer and will more accurately reflect the insurance aspects of the benefits.

The reduced maximum insurable earnings will be brought more into line with the average industrial wages. Premium reductions and an establishment of a reserve in the EI account will stimulate employment. Premium increases during the last recession were estimated to have killed more than 200,000 jobs in Canada.

Most important, $800 million of savings achieved by the EI will be reinvested in active re-employment benefits. It will change the system from a passive income support system to an active program for re-employment of Canadian workers most in need of assistance.

There are significant differences not only in the unemployment rate but in the labour market conditions from region to region in Canada. Bill C-12 is specifically designed to take these differences into account.

The situation in Atlantic Canada is a case in point. Employment insurance will help unemployed Atlantic Canadians get back to work. The system is the product of two years of consultation with Atlantic Canadians. Now it has been fine tuned by the Standing Committee on Human Resource Development to ensure regional sensitivity and adaptability.

The basis of the new system will help Atlantic Canada's workforce. The hours based system will make it easier for many to qualify for benefits because all hours worked are now insurable.

The fact is that in the Atlantic provinces 86 per cent of UI claimants already work 35 hours or more per week. They will find it at least as easy and more often easier to qualify under the new EI.

Seasonal workers, of whom there are many in Atlantic Canada, will benefit under the EI because of the fact that they tend to work long hours each week. Remember that it is the hours that count and not the weeks.

Part time workers will no longer be hampered by the artificial barrier of having to work a minimum of 15 hours per week before their work is insurable. We have all heard of employers who restrict their workers to less than 15 hours in order to avoid paying premiums under the current UI.

Multiple job holders too will benefit by having all their work insured regardless of how many or how few hours they put into each separate job. Atlantic Canadians will particularly benefit from changes which have been made to the legislation setting out how benefits will be determined.

Workers will be able to look back 26 weeks to find the earnings necessary to maximize their benefits. This will be particularly beneficial to workers in industries where there are breaks between the periods of employment. In a high unemployment region people can have 12 weeks of no earnings without reducing their benefit levels.

The average earnings calculation is done by looking at total earnings in the last 26 weeks and dividing that total by the factor or divisor. The minimum divisor applied is the equivalent of two weeks above the regional minimum entrance requirement or the number of weeks worked up to 26, whichever is greater. Weekly benefits are set at 55 per cent of the resulting average earnings.

The divisor rule is equitable and responsive to changes in employment conditions right across the country. It is designed to be particularly beneficial to workers in high unemployment regions.

For all EI claimants, work incentive is boosted by the intensity rule. Claimants with more than 20 weeks of benefits in the previous five years will have their benefit rate reduced by one percentage point for each 20 weeks of past benefits, to a maximum of the 50 per cent level. The intensity rule will not apply however to claimants who receive family income support. Also claimants who work while they are receiving EI benefits will be able to earn work credits to reduce the impact of the intensity rule.

About 42,000 EI claimants in Atlantic Canada receiving a family income supplement will be exempt from the intensity rule. In all, about 53,000 Atlantic Canada claimants in low income families earning less than $26,000 a year and with children will be eligible for a family income supplement. On average the supplement is worth some $800 per family. Of course, claimants will be able to earn $50 a week or 25 per cent of their EI benefit, whichever is greater, without affecting the benefit. As a result anyone receiving less than $200 in EI will be able to earn more without reducing their benefits at all.

Atlantic Canadians will benefit under EI in more ways than from the income support benefits. The reinvestment of $800 million of EI funds in employment benefits will greatly benefit Atlantic Canada. Distribution of reinvested funds will ensure a fair regional balance. EI will result in a reduction in total income support payments across the country. But these impacts will be reduced by a reinvestment in active measures which will be disproportionately allocated to provinces most affected by the changes to the insurance benefits. We must also take into account the three year $300 million transitional jobs fund which will create an estimated 15,000 new jobs in high unemployment regions across Canada.

Another fact is benefits will still exceed premium contributions in Atlantic Canada. More than 60 per cent of UI claimants in Atlantic Canada claim benefits regularly. Even when the EI reforms have been fully phased in in the year 2001-02, Atlantic Canadians will receive substantially more benefits than they pay in premiums. The benefits to contributions ratio for example in Newfoundland will be $2.73 to $1 compared to 76 cents to $1 for Ontario.

Finally we should bear in mind that the implementation of EI will be closely monitored and adjustments will be made where necessary. Some communities in Atlantic Canada will be selected for in depth studies of the effects of the new system. In all, Atlantic Canadians should welcome the advent of this fair, balanced and effective system to support them when needed and further to provide for their future employment.

Petitions May 1st, 1996

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition, pursuant to Standing Order 36, that has been approved by the clerk of petitions. It contains 100 signatures and was forwarded to me from the British Columbia area.

The petitioners, all being residents of Canada, petition the following: that the wartime merchant navy was the fourth arm of the armed services; that veterans of wartime merchant navy are under the Civilian War Related Benefits Act; that one in ten Canadian merchant seamen lost their lives, the highest proportional rate of all services, and that merchant navy prisoners of war spent 50 months on average in imprisonment but only 30 months are recognized.

Therefore, your petitioners call on Parliament to consider the advisability of extending benefits or compensation to veterans of the wartime merchant navy equal to that enjoyed by the veterans of Canada, World War II armed services.

Army Cadet Month April 26th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, the upcoming month of May is designated as Army Cadet Month.

Through their training, cadets are fortunate to acquire a sense of citizenship, leadership, discipline, comradeship and a healthy lifestyle which are all hallmarks for success and unique to our Canadian identity.

Further to this special designation, the Minister of National Defence will visit Carleton-Charlotte for a special ceremony and annual cadet inspection at the Border Arena in St. Stephen, New Brunswick, on May 2.

I also wish to acknowledge the adult leaders who give so generously of their time, talents and energy in order to guide the cadets in their training and development.

I thank the Minister of National defence for taking the time to recognize this important event in Carleton-Charlotte, and further to congratulate all cadets across Canada for the significant role they play in our Canadian identity.

Budget Implementation Act, 1996 April 25th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, first of all I thank my hon. colleague from Wild Rose for his comments and his questions. We will certainly try to do our best to answer them.

When this government assumed power it inherited a $500 billion plus debt, a $42 billion deficit and a $6 billion deficit in the unemployment insurance fund. It was extremely difficult but this government took its responsibility and it set goals. It set goals that created a challenge, goals that were achievable even though they were challenging. We are meeting those goals. For the first time in many, many years in this country goals are being met.

The hon. member mentioned confidence. Yes, confidence. That confidence encouraged the new company CANUSA two weeks ago to make an official announcement in Centreville, New Brunswick in my riding that it was developing and constructing a new plant. It will create 25 new jobs directly, indirectly a number during construction, and more indirectly in transportation and other areas.

It is the same confidence that encouraged McCain Foods two weeks ago to announce doubling the size of its data processing department in Florenceville, New Brunswick in my riding. Between 30 and 50 new jobs will be there for the people of my area.

Sabian cymbals in Meductic, New Brunswick again in my riding moved across the road a couple of weeks ago to its new expanded modern technological plant, with an additional 12 to 15 new jobs created as a result.

Briggs and Little woollen mills of York Mills in my constituency suffered a terrible fire in the fall of 1994 and has recently reconstructed its plant. Without confidence would these business people have made these decisions? I think not. They are confident. They will continue to be confident which will boost our economy and create future jobs.

Budget Implementation Act, 1996 April 25th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, the 1996 budget has and continues to meet the government's commitment to sustain deficit reduction on the way to a future balanced budget, but a balanced budget alone must never be the only goal of our wonderful country, Canada.

Our government is fundamentally responsible for setting a stage, one which provides a model for the Canadian people. Our government is here to establish a neutral framework within which all Canadians can work and prosper. This framework is represented by the 1996 budget in its current implementation. There is no question it is difficult to establish a framework which is fair, equal, democratic and neutral and which at the same time ensures that all Canadians will see the framework in the same light.

Our government has successfully created a plan which will encompass job creation and progressive changes to old age security, to Canada student loans and the Canada health and social transfer. Today I will focus on the CHST and the progressive changes it marks for Canadians, demonstrating the fundamental responsibility of this government to establish a fair and equitable framework for all Canadians to grow, to prosper and to work together.

Fiscal progress should always be a means to greater public ends, to lower interest rates, to more jobs and to a more prosperous and secure future for Canada. Canadians must be allowed to move forward on issues that are important to them instead of being held back by fundamental requirements needed to maintain the basic standard of living. Canadians want to be successful both on the domestic home front and the international stage.

In order to establish this level of financial success while maintaining public prosperity, it is necessary to follow the established plans for economic recovery. Those plans are included in the 1994, 1995 and 1996 budgets. They are tailored to result in the domestic comfort and confidence levels necessary to build a foundation for continued export and international growth.

Clearly, one of the highest priorities for the Canadian government, needed to fulfil domestic prosperity, is to preserve Canada's network of social programs. These programs have helped to establish Canada as one of the most envied nations in the world. To ensure their continued success, the Prime Minister has promised to provide for health and social programs long term funding arrangements that are growing, stable, predictable and sustainable. The 1996 budget advances this promise in a new five year arrangement for the CHST.

This arrangement dictates that there will be no cuts in entitlements to the provinces. In fact, the entitlements will increase in a few years. The CHST will be stabilized at the 1998-99 levels for another two years and then will begin to grow. There will be no cuts in the CHST beyond those announced in last year's budget. By providing predictable funding, the government is demonstrating its commitment to safeguarding health care and other social programs.

When the CHST begins to grow in 2000-01, federal transfers will then increase for the first time since the mid-1980s. Over the years 1998-99 to 2002-03 the federal government will transfer nearly $130 billion to the provinces.

We established the CHST in last year's budget to fund health, post-secondary education and social assistance. It is true that we cut the transfer payments in that budget. Overall transfers to the provinces were cut by an average of 4.4 per cent in 1996-97. That was much lower however than the average of 7.3 per cent in cuts we made to our own federal programs. We had no choice but to cut transfers after inheriting a huge deficit and debt from the previous administration.

Cash transfers alone represented well over 20 per cent of all federal program spending. They had to be included in our deficit reduction plan. At the same time, we have given the provinces the increased flexibility they were asking for in order to design programs that meet their own needs. It is important to note that the federal equalization payments to less affluent provinces which also support social programs will continue to grow.

It is also important to note the four key objectives of the CHST arrangement: to safeguard medicare and social programs; to return to growth in transfers and stabilize the cash component of the transfers; to restore stability and predictability for provincial governments; and to provide the provinces with a more comparable funding support program.

Transfers to the provinces make up nearly one-quarter of federal program spending. In no way could the CHST be exempt from expenditure restraint. Over all, reductions will amount to less than

3 per cent of provincial revenues. The provinces will be able to absorb the impact as most have or are near balanced budgets.

New Brunswick for example is a province strong and successful in its financial position, with the riding of Carleton-Charlotte contributing significantly to the overall success prevalent in New Brunswick. My riding of Carleton-Charlotte is vast in geography, rural in nature but extremely industrially progressive.

Carleton-Charlotte is a riding which stood tall during the tough economic times that were witnessed in recent years. It has managed not only to maintain its industry but has also managed to expand in many areas. There are also many successful industries in Carleton-Charlotte and I would not attempt to start naming them. However, I do believe this riding certainly deserves to be commended on a job well done.

Carleton-Charlotte is a community, a riding that could easily provide a framework model for the success that can be achieved by people when they work together to maintain domestic stability and then expand outward. This domestic stability, providing a foundation for international recognition and expansion is what all Canadians can work toward together as one large community.

The model or framework the 1996 budget presents is simply a larger model of what has been accomplished in Carleton-Charlotte and exemplifies the role of what a government should aim to accomplish.

This government has not placed exploitation or suppression in the hierarchy. Instead it has supplied Canadians with a neutral model to expand and prosper.

I commend this government for maintaining its focus on domestic prosperity and for providing a greater means to public ends through the new and revised plan for the Canada health and social transfer and through the confidence that has been building in Carleton-Charlotte and across Canada. This confidence has resulted from this budget and the past two budgets of this government in addition to the measures taken to get our financial House in order for the first time in many, many years.

This is why I am pleased and proud today to support Bill C-31, the budget implementation act, 1996.

Canusa Foods Limited April 18th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to congratulate the president of Mountain View Packers, Mr. Byron McGrath, and his company directors who have accepted a new challenge to join forces with Tri-Winner Irving Acres Inc. of Presque Isle, Maine. Together these two companies last Friday announced the creation of a new company, CANUSA Foods Limited in Centreville, New Brunswick.

This merger will signal the new company to begin construction this spring on a value added processing plant providing an additional 25 jobs for the region.

Last Friday's announcement proves once again that confidence and good aggressive business management, coupled with strategic government support, helps to create more jobs for Canadians and in this case in the riding of Carleton-Charlotte.