That is not what he said at all.
Lost his last election, in 2015, with 40% of the vote.
Committees of the House September 23rd, 2014
That is not what he said at all.
Business of Supply September 23rd, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I had the opportunity to listen to the member for Parkdale—High Park, and I would like her to clarify a few of the positions of the NDP so that they are on record in the House.
I know the member is the former finance critic for her party. Is it still the position of the NDP that people should only have to work 45 days out of a year to be entitled to collect full EI? We certainly know that is the position of the Liberal Party. I would like the member to clarify the NDP position on that.
Could the member explain why she and her party voted three times against the new hiring tax credit brought in by our government in three successive budgets? Can the member explain why she and the members in her party voted against that tax credit three years in a row?
Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission September 22nd, 2014
Mr. Speaker, Liberals in my province are calling for the CRTC to regulate Internet video and impose a Netflix or a YouTube tax.
The CRTC has declined to regulate Internet video in the past, and our Prime Minister has come out against the Netflix tax that the Liberals favour.
Would the Minister of Heritage make clear that, should the CRTC reverse its historic position and begin regulating Internet video or imposing a tax on Netflix and YouTube, our government will reject that position and overturn it?
Situation in Iraq September 16th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague from Etobicoke North because I know she has been very outspoken and passionate about this issue. She cares, just as we do, about the plight of the people on the ground, particularly women. I can tell her that we met with a number of people on the ground who told us the horrific stories of women who have been taken into slavery, daughters who have been sold by ISIL, and that is the reality on the ground.
I will continue to stand here and support and urge our government. Even though we have done very much, I will continue to push our government to do more specifically in these areas where I think we can provide a lot of humanitarian assistance to women in particular. Religious minorities are absolutely being devastated and persecuted in this situation, but women and children are suffering the most. I will give the member my support that I will continue to work with my government officials on this side of the House. We should do more to protect women and children in particular in this terrible situation.
Situation in Iraq September 16th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I am a strong believer in exporting Canadian values around the world, and one of the strongest values we have is that we protect people who are being persecuted. We protect people who are being attacked. We stand with people who only due to the fact of their religious beliefs or their faith are being slaughtered around the world. Canadian values say that our Canadian government stands up for people who are being attacked simply because of their faith.
I am very proud of the response of our government to date in humanitarian assistance but also because we have asked some of our brave women and men to go over to help. By the way, I met with people from the Peshmerga army over there, and they said they would love to have Canada's help and assistance to get them where they need to go to ensure that they fight this terrible organization, ISIL, and protect their people in Iraq.
Situation in Iraq September 16th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, Canada is deeply concerned about the recent increase in violence in Iraq and its humanitarian consequences. Canada certainly condemns, in the strongest terms, the targeting of civilians and religious minorities. We are deeply concerned about reports of possible war crimes and crimes against humanity. That is why we continue to call on all of the parties in the conflict to respect international humanitarian law.
In late August, I visited the cities of Erbil and Duhak in Iraq as part of an observer team, sponsored by the Reverend Majed El Shafie and One Free World International. We met personally with the internationally displaced persons, the IDPs, on the ground in the UNHCR camps that have been established. Their stories were heart-wrenching. We sat on the ground and in the tents of our fellow human beings. I have to say that their plight is unbelievable. This is an unspeakable tragedy, for which there is no excuse.
The humanitarian situation in Iraq continues to deteriorate as armed clashes between the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL, as we know it, and government forces drive displacement. Since January, an estimated 1.7 million people have been displaced throughout the country, which represents one-third of the largest cases of international displacement in the world. Basic services, including health care and water infrastructure, are disrupted, resulting in an acute humanitarian need.
The intensity of fighting in ISIL-held areas has resulted in a security situation that does not allow humanitarian organizations to operate. The persecution of minority groups, whom I met with, including Christians, Yazidis, Shabak, and Shia Turkman, is an ongoing concern.
Current displacement near the Kurdish region of Iraq has been only the latest development in a trend of large-scale displacement across Iraq that goes back to the beginning of the year. In early 2014, conflict displaced an estimated 475,000 people in Anbar province. In June, an estimated 571,000 people were displaced from Mosul. In August, an additional 662,000 people were displaced from the Sinjar area, when tens of thousands of Yazidis remained trapped for several days in dire humanitarian conditions. The size and pace of displacement has overwhelmed the local communities, which I met with, including the Duhak Governorate, which is now hosting more than 400,000 internally displaced persons.
When I met with local officials in Duhak, we talked about their needs. I know that Canada will continue to help in providing assistance for housing and medical needs, particularly as the winter season approaches.
On August 12, the United Nations declared the situation a level 3 emergency, underlining the gravity of the crisis. As a result, the humanitarian response in accessible areas is being rapidly scaled up, and humanitarian leadership will be bolstered.
Approximately 35% of internally displaced Iraqis are living in vulnerable conditions in schools, churches, mosques, and unfinished buildings. We met with the largest group of IDPs in a half-built school in Duhak the last day our delegation was there. There is a concern that the schools will have to be converted back to allow children, obviously, to attend school. They will have no place to go.
Canada is actively working with partners to address the children's needs and to see what more we can do. We are currently working through experienced partners, such as Save the Children and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, to help provide child-friendly environments for displaced children and to give them the psychological support they need. We believe that when adults fight, children's education should not suffer and that the continued academic growth of children must be secured, even in the face of conflict.
The flow of IDPs has also placed considerable strain on health structures, and many health facilities are overwhelmed by large caseloads. I met with the director of health in Duhak and he explained these situations to me.
In addition, food security is a growing concern. Normal supply routes have been interrupted by conflict and insecurity. The next harvest is at risk in the areas affected by the conflict, and that accounts for nearly one-third of Iraq's wheat production. Millions of Iraqis are likely to face food shortages later this year unless the challenges are resolved.
A key challenge for the humanitarian community continues to be the difficulty of being able to get into the conflict areas to reach people who really need our help. The sheer number of different locations people have fled to, as well as their mobility, adds a layer of complexity that makes matters even more difficult for humanitarian organizations.
Canada is working through experienced humanitarian partners, such as the United Nations, humanitarian agencies, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent movement, and non-governmental organizations, to get lifesaving assistance, and I saw it on the ground getting to those who need it.
Today Canada has provided more than $28 million in humanitarian assistance to Iraq, of which $18.8 million will address needs from the conflict and $9.6 million will be used to address the needs of Syrian refugees who have sought refuge in Iraq due to the conflict in their own home country. We are working to provide support across a range of needs to ensure that there are no gaps.
Canada's funding is helping to meet the health, shelter, water and sanitation, protection and food needs of those who need it. For example, we are providing mobile health clinics through Plan Canada and are providing medical supplies to the International Committee of the Red Cross. The Canadian Red Cross is currently looking to determine what more can be done. On August 28, our first planeload of humanitarian relief supplies arrived, and more will be done.
Canada is currently the fifth-largest donor to the response to the crisis, and it is worth noting that we are also the fifth-largest donor to the UN's central emergency response fund that has provided more than $10.8 million in response to the Iraq crisis.
When I was on the ground, we also had the opportunity to meet with our ambassador to Iraq and Jordan, Bruno Saccomani, and I asked him what we are doing on the ground. His report back to us was outstanding. Canada truly is a leader. We have shown great initiative and great support, and our people on the ground there are fully committed to making sure that Canada's role in humanitarian and other assistance to the Kurdish government and the Iraqi national government is clearly there.
It was a profoundly moving experience for me, as a member of the House, to visit Iraq to meet with the victims of these ISIL attacks. I will never forget that as long as I live. Fathers, mothers, children, grandpas, grandmas, friends of a community that had their friends and neighbours slaughtered in these attacks escaped with their lives to try to rebuild.
It was profoundly moving. I want to thank members of One Free World International for taking the time to invite me and two of our colleagues in this House to join them to meet with these people and to share Canada's support. May God continue to bless them all, and may we all pray for all of them, for peace, and for better days ahead.
Business of Supply September 16th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, obviously decisions on minimum wages vary across the provinces, mainly because more than 90% of all the workers in provinces are covered by provincial labour laws, with the Employment Standards Act in my home province of Ontario as an example.
To answer the parliamentary secretary's question, over the past 20 years many governments of all three political stripes in Ontario have made decisions to freeze the minimum wage and not increase it. Again, though, those decisions were made by those duly elected governments. If people want to change that, then I guess they have to change the government.
Business of Supply September 16th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I hope that my colleague was not implying that provincial governments have been driving down their minimum wages. There is not a single province that has reduced its minimum wage. In fact, in the case of Ontario, the minimum wage is going up, and that is wholly within the jurisdiction of the Province of Ontario. The current Government of Ontario decided to do that.
I certainly have no objection, as a federal member of Parliament, to the province doing that. If the Northwest Territories wants to raise its minimum wage and the member can advocate to his local government and the area he represents that the minimum wage should be raised, let them go ahead. They can certainly do that.
This is a motion that would affect fewer than 10% of all the workers across Canada who are employed in federally regulated industries, among which a very small percentage are making less than $15 an hour. It is a hoax.
Business of Supply September 16th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to this opposition motion. I want to thank the member for Brant for splitting his time with me. I wonder, when I read the motion, whether we would actually obtain the desired effects that the hon. member believes this motion would do.
First, as I am sure the hon. member well knows, the minimum wage in this motion as it is worded would apply only to those people who work in federally regulated industries, a small percentage of Canada's workforce. Of these workers, only a small fraction earn the minimum wage. According to a survey of federally regulated businesses that was conducted in 2008, only one-twentieth of a percentage point, or all of 416 employees, were actually earning the minimum wage. That works out to approximately 0.05%.
My second point is that if the Government of Canada were to unilaterally raise the minimum wage of workers that fall under its jurisdiction, it would create a two-standard system for workers. If the hon. member opposite were to read the Labour Code, he would find that the federal minimum wage is pegged to the minimum wage of the province or territory in which the work is carried out, as voted on by their respective legislatures. Provinces and territories are clearly best able to assess and respond to the requirements of their labour markets and establish appropriate minimum wage rates, unless of course the opposition parties are proposing to wholly repeal the section of the Labour Code that gives provinces this ability.
Which is it? Are the opposition members proposing to strip the provinces of their ability to respond to their local labour market? Or are they proposing to create a two-tier standard for workers?
We see no need to carry out wholesale changes to a system that is working perfectly well. For nearly 20 years, federal minimum wages have automatically been pegged to match the minimum wage of the province or the territory in which the work is being done. My view is this has worked out pretty well.
Over the past several years, the provinces and territories have all increased their minimum wage, which is based on their local labour market conditions in each of those jurisdictions. In fact, several provinces have now indexed their minimum wage so that it automatically increases every year. Others have mechanisms in place to ensure that the minimum wage rate in their jurisdiction is reviewed on a regular basis.
It would seem a bit pretentious if we were to deny that the provinces and territories are fully aware of their labour market needs and should not be trusted in the analysis of the needs of their citizens and workers. Our government believes that these jurisdictions know how to assess and respond to their local labour market conditions. They are best positioned to establish appropriate minimum wage rates that reflect these realities.
However, the best way to support low-income Canadians is not by increasing the minimum wage or grandstanding the illusion of creating a minimum wage that in reality only applies to a very small fraction of the labour force, but by measures that support a strong economy and by creating well-paying jobs, which is our government's number one priority.
As members in the House know, there are skills shortages in certain regions and sectors of the economy. Our government has taken unprecedented action to train Canadians for new and better jobs in demand by the economy. To date, our actions have resulted in over six million young Canadians getting skills training and support for quality jobs.
I am sure that many of my colleagues, even those on the other side of the House who support this ambiguous motion, have heard from their constituents who own businesses that there is an abundance of people out there looking for work, but they just do not have the skills that are needed. When it comes to training Canadians for jobs that are actually in demand by the economy, the NDP has vehemently opposed virtually all of our measures.
Where was the opposition on the Canada job grant last year? We negotiated in good faith with all of the provinces and signed agreements with them. The NDP opposed this process, cheerleading the expiring of the labour market agreements instead.
When we cut the GST to the benefit of all Canadians, the NDP opposed it. The working income tax benefit? The NDP opposed it. Supporting older workers and their families through the targeted initiative for older workers and expanding it to include workers in small cities? The NDP opposed that too. Overhauling the temporary foreign worker program, during which the Minister of Employment and Social Development directly called upon employers to increase their wages and hire Canadians? The NDP just dismissed it as meaningless.
We have heard about the lack of skilled labour in key sectors from people who are actually on the ground. Many sectors will urgently need new workers in the next decade. It is particularly true in construction and in the mining and petroleum industries. Skills Canada has told us that we will need one million skilled trade workers by 2020. As an example, five years after getting a journeyman's ticket, a plumber in Canada can earn about $68,000 and an electrician about $66,000. These are well-paying jobs that are very rewarding. If a minimum wage worker wishes to become an apprentice, the Government of Canada will support that worker in many ways in getting training for jobs that are in demand in the economy.
Let us be honest about what the NDP motion before us today actually is. It is nothing more than a symbolic stunt. Our government is focused on improving job prospects for Canadians and their families. In addition to the apprenticeship grants, economic action plan 2014 introduced the Canada apprentice loan. This loan provides apprentices with interest-free loans of up to $4,000 to complete their training in a Red Seal trade.
The government is also taking other steps to support and protect Canadian families and to directly benefit people in the workforce. For example, the Minister of Finance recently provided small businesses with a tax break so they would pay less in EI premiums and create more jobs. What is more, the minister also confirmed that EI premiums for workers will go down in 2017. Payments will be reduced from the current $1.88 per $100 of earnings to $1.47. How does this change help minimum wage earners across Canada, not just those hand-picked by the NDP in their symbolic motion? Lower premiums, of course, means more money in those workers' pockets.
For those workers who have lost their jobs due to their employers' bankruptcy or receivership, we have the wage earner protection program. It ensures that employees are paid wages, vacation pay, and severance or termination pay that is owed to them up to an amount equal to four weeks' maximum insurable earnings under the EI Act. Since WEPP's inception in July 2008, over 74,000 Canadians have received $174.8 million in WEPP payments as of July 31, 2014.
In addition to that, our government's Helping Families in Need Act provides federally regulated employees with the right to take unpaid leave. For example, it provides up to 37 weeks of leave for employees who must care for a critically ill child, 104 weeks for children who are deceased due to a probable Criminal Code offence, and up to 52 weeks for missing children who are victims of probable criminal actions.
This government is doing a lot for workers and a lot to create new jobs. We are working on ensuring that things get done, that more Canadians are working, and that more families are being supported.
I will not support this motion. It is nothing more than a stunt. It does not help real workers in real communities like Mississauga—Streetsville. It is nothing more than a stunt effort by the NDP. I will not be supporting this motion.
World Elder Abuse Awareness Day June 16th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, yesterday, June 15, was World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, an important day to recognize that this very unfortunate situation exists and must be stopped. Our government, under the leadership of the Minister of State for Seniors, has made elder abuse awareness and prevention a top priority. We have enacted landmark legislation to recognize elder abuse in the Criminal Code of Canada.
Local organizations, like the Peel Elder Abuse Prevention Network in my community, supported by a new horizons for seniors grant, are making a difference and hosting a seniors healthy living expo tomorrow in Mississauga.
We must all work together to prevent the financial, physical, and psychological abuse of the women and men who have built this country and deserve to live their lives in dignity and respect. I encourage all Canadians to go to seniors.gc.ca to learn more.