Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order.
Lost her last election, in 2015, with 20% of the vote.
Protecting Air Service Act March 14th, 2012
Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order.
Air Service Operations Legislation March 13th, 2012
Mr. Speaker, what we are seeing is gross incompetence. It is not the economy that will be affected. The government has had since April 2011 to negotiate and it has not managed to reach an agreement with the union representatives. The problem is quite the opposite. If the Conservatives had done their job properly, we would not be in this situation. The new collective agreement would have been negotiated and would be in effect.
Air Service Operations Legislation March 13th, 2012
Mr. Speaker, I am sorry to say, but the minister has it all wrong. This is not an emergency situation. Emergency plans are made when there is a strike. Furthermore, the employees and the unions put these emergency plans into action.
Second, there are other carriers in Canada, such as Porter, Air Expresso and others that could provide transportation services. There is also the train. Tourism or returning home after the March break does not constitute an emergency, far from it.
The government should be a little more respectful of workers, negotiate more, and not proceed as it did with Canada Post, that is, opt for a lockout. We may be moving in that direction, but we should not be. We must respect workers' opinions.
Questions Passed as Orders for Returns March 13th, 2012
With regard to Natural Resources Canada’s ecoENERGY program: (a) what is the total amount spent, broken down by year and province, since the program’s first year of operation up to and including the current fiscal year on (i) ecoENERGY Retrofit – Homes, (ii) ecoENERGY Efficiency, (iii) marine renewable energy enabling measures, (iv) the clean energy policy group, (v) ecoENERGY for biofuels, (vi) ecoENERGY Innovation Initiative; (b) how many individuals or organizations have received grants for each of the programs listed in (a), since the first year of operation up to and including the current fiscal year, broken down by year and province, (i) what is the average amount of the grants awarded, (ii) how many applications were submitted and how many rejected, (iii) what was identified as an “acceptable” turnaround time for the receipt of grant funding, (iv) how many approved grants were processed beyond a “reasonable” turnaround time; and (c) other than the programs listed in (a), which programs to combat climate change and promote energy efficiency are currently funded by Natural Resources Canada, and what is the total amount spent on each of these programs?
Business of Supply March 8th, 2012
Mr. Speaker, the parliamentary secretary should listen to his colleague and stop smearing the opposition. When you slip on a banana peel, you have to admit to getting dirty. Canadians want the whole truth. They want this government to provide all the documentation necessary for a fair and equitable investigation. The most equitable way to do that is to seek the truth, not to accuse the hon. members opposite and sweep the whole thing under the rug. The Conservatives have to face up to their responsibilities.
Status of Women March 8th, 2012
Mr. Speaker, five years ago, the Conservatives cut funding to organizations that do research for women and about women, organizations seeking to eliminate the inequality that women face every day. Without research and awareness-raising activities, Canadian women will never be able to achieve genuine equality.
On this International Women's Day, will the minister commit to restoring funding for research and awareness?
Mr. Speaker, Statistics Canada also reported in December 2011 that 43,000 more people were working in part-time jobs, but noted that 26,000 people had lost their full-time jobs. In short, some jobs were created, but that does not mean good jobs or full-time jobs. Also according to Statistics Canada, employment increased the most among women aged 55 and over. This alarming tendency speaks volumes not only about our aging population, but also about women nearing retirement age, or who may be retired already, but are forced to return to the labour market because of their precarious financial situation.
What does the government plan to do for this demographic group?
Mr. Speaker, a few weeks ago, I asked the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development if she was prepared to acknowledge that the backlog in processing claims at Service Canada was because of cuts and bad decisions made by her government.
In her response in this House, she said that, under the economic action plan to deal with the global recession, quite a number of additional personnel were engaged on a short-term basis at Service Canada. She added that, since the unemployment rate was down, those people were no longer necessary. For all practical purposes, Canadians who needed Service Canada—for instance, to obtain their EI benefits—should have seen their claims processed in a timely manner.
I would like to know where the minister gets her data, given that, according to Statistics Canada, in December 2011, the unemployment rate rose by exactly 0.1% to 7.5%. In January 2012, the Canadian unemployment rate rose by 0.1 % once again to 7.6%.
This figure is much higher than the government's predictions of rapid economic recovery suggested. Moreover, we are a long way from the 6% unemployment rate that prevailed in 2007, just before the global recession began.
I would like the minister to explain her government's actions, given that the Service Canada cuts fly in the face of the numbers, the facts and Canadians' needs, while our economic situation remains fragile.
Thousands of Service Canada jobs have been cut since last spring. Canadians do not understand the government's actions, but they do know that those cuts have had a major impact on service quality and efficiency. How else can we explain the incredibly long delays in claims processing just when families need support, when they need their employment insurance benefits?
Do we need to remind the government that Canadians pay for these services out of their taxes and that, when they contribute to an employment insurance plan, they expect it to be available when they need it? For example, one of my constituents who works for SNC Lavalin has to collect employment insurance every winter because that is the nature of his work. He submitted his claim on November 28. He finally received his employment insurance benefits on February 24, 2012, which is a delay of nearly three months. He says that this is the most unreasonable delay he has experienced in 35 years.
After 13 weeks with no income, his reserves were long past depleted. How can the Conservatives justify the fact that this man had to max out his credit cards to make ends meet and provide for his family? Do they know many people who can cover the cost of 13 weeks with no money coming in?
If Service Canada cannot provide satisfactory service within a reasonable period of time right now, we are headed for catastrophe if the unemployment rate goes up. How does the government plan to deal with the potential service bottleneck? Canadians demand transparency and accountability. I want to get that for them.
Port of Québec March 6th, 2012
Mr. Speaker, I commend my colleague on his excellent speech.
Quebec City is Quebec City. Quebec City is different. We are located in Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles. Beauport—Limoilou is between these two ridings and is represented by my colleague, the member who moved this motion. The Port of Québec is different. The Port of Québec is different from the Port of New York. The Port of Québec is different from the Port of Marseille. The Port of Québec is different from the Port of Montreal. It is also different from the Port of Vancouver.
In fact, the Port of Québec is a model for other ports. To begin with, every year it awards the gold-headed cane to the first vessel that arrives there in the new year. Foreign vessels race to get there first. They are always proud to receive the famous gold-headed cane. This prestigious award for freighters already makes the port unique.
Also, the Port of Québec is different because it is a integrated model that is unmatched anywhere else. Let me explain. Of course, members will say that I love my city. Yes, I do love my city. I really love Quebec City. It is in my bones. I travel around the city and I enjoy it. However, the port is different because it is an integrated and sustainable model of development. In fact, it is different because of its economic focus: the port is a transport hub for grain, freight and goods. It is intermodal. Another economic focus is tourism, big cruise ships, for example. There are also a host of cultural activities that take place around the port, such as Robert Lepage's show of images projected on the silos and all the performances that take place in the square at the port, which is unlike anything else in the world. Sports-wise, there is biking, skating and sailing. All of this is integrated into infrastructure that looks entirely different to most ports. We do not just have boats, freight and grime. Our port is clean. Our port is developing, and doing so in a way that integrates with urban life.
It is an honour for me to rise in the House today in order to support the motion moved by my colleague, the member for Beauport—Limoilou.
As the proud elected representative of the riding of Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, I can say that my colleague's motion concerns the quality of life of a large number of constituents I represent, and I intend to make their voice heard today through my remarks.
As stipulated in the wording of the motion, I am of the opinion that the government should recognize that the Port of Québec is of vital importance as a hub of international trade in opening new markets for Canadian business, creating jobs, generating significant economic benefits, particularly in terms of tourism, and ensuring the vitality of small and medium businesses in Quebec City and the surrounding areas.
The government should also support key projects for the upgrading of port assets and the development of equipment, taking into account the climatic and environmental challenges of this particular section of the Saint Lawrence River.
In order to understand how important this motion is to the constituents of the greater Quebec City region, it is important to describe the setting. The Port of Québec is the second-biggest port in Quebec after Montreal, and it receives over a quarter of the province's goods. This infrastructure makes Canada more competitive in terms of international trade and also greatly contributes to the region's prosperity.
The port infrastructure is increasingly outdated, however, and the revenue generated by the port's commercial activities falls well short of what is required to cover the substantial renovation and maintenance costs.
According to estimates by the CEO of the Port of Québec, approximately $400 million is required to carry out upgrades to the site that will maximize its effectiveness and meet current social and environmental standards.
If the situation is not rapidly addressed, this major problem may end up having a negative impact on Canada's trade.
Another worrisome fact worth mentioning is that, because of its letters patent, the port’s borrowing capacity is capped at $45 million.
In spite of its annual profits, the port is unable to raise the required money to carry out the upgrades because of the borrowing limit, and also because the federal government is offering no assistance.
The port, however, is not only about trade. Approximately 20% of the port’s facilities are geared towards tourism.
The tourist port of Quebec City welcomes thousands of tourists every year. Competition in the cruise liner vacation sector is very strong, and the infrastructure must be up to the best international standards. Quebec City also risks losing tourist traffic if money is not invested in its port. Already, only 80,000 cruise ship passengers visited the city this year, which amounts to a slight drop of 20,000 tourists compared to last year.
In addition to economic, tourism and social considerations, the environment must be taken into account. Indeed, our country's port facilities contain contaminated sites that absolutely must be dealt with to minimize the impact on our environment, while simultaneously developing the port. The Port of Québec is no exception, and it is our duty to provide safe and uncontaminated facilities for our workers and fellow Canadians.
For all these reasons, I believe that my colleague's motion is right on the mark. On the one hand, it recognizes the crucial role the Port of Québec plays as an economic springboard and the uniqueness of its facilities by virtue of its location and natural characteristics, such as its deep water. On the other hand, the motion calls on the government to back the development of the port by supporting upgrades that will guarantee sustained economic development in the region.
On another note, I would like to draw the House's attention to the economic benefits of an effective and modern port that meets the maritime sector’s international standards. Overall, approximately 5,000 direct and indirect jobs are tied to the activities of the Port of Québec. That amounted to approximately $800 million in economic spinoffs for the region and $163 million in taxes in 2010. Also of note is that the port pays annual fees of approximately $900,000 to the federal government.
Imagine, therefore, how many jobs could be created, taxes collected and fees paid if the port were renovated and if it increased its level of activity. Also worth considering is the number of jobs that would be created in the construction and renovation sector to carry out the work.
This government cannot claim that the current economic situation in Canada is optimal. Nor can it claim, when an economy is fragile, that the state should refrain from stepping in and that the laws of the market should rule the economy, because that is exactly what this government is doing with its economic recovery plan. It invested in infrastructure in order to create jobs. It certainly was not enough, but it did so nevertheless. Why not do the same thing for the Port of Québec? Why not support the motion that aims to make Canada's maritime sector even more competitive?
The NDP strongly believes that the development of Canada's key economic sectors is achieved through innovation and quality infrastructure. This enables companies to prosper and, in turn, gives Canadians access to the goods and services they want.
This can be achieved effectively without compromising our economy, our environment, and our quality of life in general. These investments are crucial in order to generate even greater economic spinoffs. It is simply a matter of looking at the options.
I therefore strongly encourage all of my colleagues to support the motion moved by the member for Beauport—Limoilou. The motion makes good sense and will help Quebec become a springboard for global economic development.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to correct the member. These statistics are from the 2011 Report Card on Child and Family Poverty in Canada.
The rate of poverty has declined not by half, but from 9.9% to 9.5% in 2009. Over 10 years, it has declined by about 2%.
Families living in poverty include those who are in the workforce, earning minimum wage and working in atypical employment situations. They work for several different employers, they work split shifts, and they have to deal with labour market demands that can be very difficult for them. We really have to help families.
I would like to know how the government plans to go about doing more.