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Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was terms.

Last in Parliament September 2021, as Conservative MP for Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo (B.C.)

Won her last election, in 2019, with 45% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Employment Insurance Act September 28th, 2009

I will make my answer very quick, Mr. Speaker, because I am not really sure what the question was other than perhaps the NDP and Liberals debating some things.

This is a great bill that would support long-tenured workers. We appreciate that it is going to move forward.

Employment Insurance Act September 28th, 2009

Absolutely, Mr. Speaker. Right now we are in the midst of a global economic recession. The last thing that Canadians need is an unwanted, unnecessary, opportunistic election.

I am glad the NDP appreciates the merit of supporting long-tenured workers. We look forward to supporting long-tenured workers.

Employment Insurance Act September 28th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, I am really glad to speak to that issue. As the hon. member should know, during a time of global recession, it is very complicated. We need to tackle this recession from many different angles. In actual fact, people want to work. Things like the job opportunities program are incredibly well received in British Columbia.

We have taken a multi-faceted approach. Bill C-50 is an absolutely critical piece of that support for the long-tenured workers. However, it is part of a fabric, and our economic action plan is the complete fabric.

Employment Insurance Act September 28th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to have this opportunity to express my support for Bill C-50, which would amend the Employment Insurance Act to provide additional EI regular benefits to long tenured workers.

As the House is well aware, our government is hard at work to help Canadians in every part of our society deal with the current economic downturn and the challenges that bear on individuals, their families and communities.

We are acutely aware, for example, of the dramatic impact of the global economic downturn on forestry workers in British Columbia. In my riding, across the interior of British Columbia and on Vancouver Island thousands of workers and their families have been affected by forestry plant closures and layoffs. These are men and women who have contributed many years of their lives to building a thriving forestry industry in the province, producing high-quality products in demand throughout Canada and around the world.

I am sure I do not need to say how hard these people work or about the intense pride they take in their jobs. I am equally sure I do not need to explain why they are deserving of our support in this tough economic climate. They have paid their taxes, their dues and their EI premiums. Is it therefore only fair and responsible that we support them and their families in this time of need.

This is why our government is taking unprecedented action to respond to the needs of long-tenured workers who find themselves laid off through no fault of their own. Bill C-50 would enable long-tenured workers in all industries and sectors throughout the country to access additional EI support while our economy recovers. Many of the affected workers have been paying EI premiums for years. In fact, many of these men and women have worked for decades in their particular sectors. They are highly-skilled individuals committed to doing the very best jobs they can. They have paid into the EI program, strengthening it year after year through their contributions, but have never collected EI benefits until now.

Under the legislation, we are proposing the regular EI benefits for these long-tenured workers would be extended by between five and twenty weeks. The amount of the extension would depend on the number of years workers had contributed to the program.

For example, under the legislation, workers who contributed to the program in seven of the past ten years would get an additional five weeks of regular EI benefits. For every additional year of contribution, the number of weeks of benefits would increase by three weeks, up to the twenty week maximum. This additional support would give them more time to look for jobs and, if necessary, get the training they needed to help them participate in the recovering economy.

As I am sure my hon. colleagues will appreciate, our goal is to enable long-tenured workers to access the extended weeks of benefits as soon as possible. We are proposing that these new measures be retroactive so as to cover many workers who are caught up in the peak of layoffs during the recession. We would extend this coverage to claims up to almost a year from now, September 11, 2010. Payments of extended benefits would continue until the fall of 2011 for those who needed them. By that point, we are very hopeful that the most difficult challenges of the economic downturn will be a thing of the past. Workers will be finding and keeping new jobs, sometimes in their former industry and sometimes in a new sector of the economy.

Allow me to be clear that the measures in the bill would not make any permanent changes to the EI eligibility rules. We see the legislation as a temporary, albeit very much needed, response to a temporary situation where Canada's long-tenured workers and their families require our immediate support.

I also want to draw to the attention of the House another measure we have introduced to help long-tenured workers who want to make the transition to a job in a new industry. The career transition assistance initiative extends EI benefits of long-tenured workers to a maximum of two years, while they participate in long-term training. Many of my colleagues have mentioned this valuable flexible program and I would like to mention it as well because it dovetails nicely with the measures in Bill C-50.

Under this initiative, our government is providing an estimated $500 million to help laid-off long-tenured workers upgrade their skills. We are implementing this initiative in partnership with the provinces and territories. The workers in training receive income support through the federal government's EI program, while the provinces and territories provide training support, including additional money to cover the learner's expenses.

This is an important initiative, and the EI changes proposed by Bill C-50 will build on measures our government has introduced through Canada's economic action plan to assist Canadians who find themselves unemployed during these difficult times. These measures include five extra weeks of EI benefits nationally, increasing the maximum duration of benefits from 45 to 50 weeks in regions of high unemployment.

Under Canada's economic action plan, we have also made changes to the work-sharing program to help workers in the labour force and to protect their jobs. This program offers EI income support to workers who are willing to work a reduced work week while their employer pursues the company's economic recovery plan. In my riding, we are using it in many locations, and it is fabulous.

The changes we have made extend the work-sharing agreements by an additional 14 weeks to maximize the benefits for workers and employees during this recovery period. As of today, there are close to 5,800 active work-sharing agreements across the country, protecting the jobs and skills of over 165,000 Canadians. Forestry workers figure largely in the work-sharing program.

I also want to mention the additional $60 million over three years that Canada's economic action plan has invested in targeted initiatives for older workers. This initiative enables people 55 to 64 years of age to get the skills upgrading and work experience they need to make the transition to new jobs. Let me add that we are expanding this initiative's reach so that communities with populations lower than 250,000 are now eligible for funding.

We are making huge investments in training and retraining workers of all ages. We cannot spare any of them. We need the skills, experience, energy and creativity of Canadians to meet the challenges to come. Our government is focused on what matters to Canadians, on finding solutions to help long-term workers who have worked hard and paid into the system for years but who are having trouble finding employment through no fault of their own, on extending benefits to self-employed Canadians, and on getting Canadians back to work through historic investments in infrastructure and skills training.

It is clear that Bill C-50, the measures the minister has spoken of and those introduced in Canada's economic action plan are working for Canadians to get Canadians back to work. That is why I would like the members of the House to support the bill and support Canadians who want to get back to work.

Employment Insurance Act September 17th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, I certainly listened with respect to the great deal of passion that the hon. member brings to representing his constituents.

I think I need to make mention that our economic action plan recognizes that there is not just one solution to the global recession that we are facing, which is why we have the community adjustments fund. That is why we have created retraining opportunities and that is why we have job opportunities. There has to be a very complex approach during this global recession.

While this EI bill, Bill C-50, is going to help some people in the province of British Columbia, it is not the perfect solution, but how can the member look at the people that it will help in his province and say, “No, I am not willing to provide you with an extra 20 weeks. I voted against that”?

Employment Insurance Act September 17th, 2009

Madam Speaker, I too am from British Columbia and I actually live in the interior which does have forests. Certainly the impact of this crisis on the forestry workers is very near and dear to my heart.

I look at the work happening throughout my riding in terms of the economic action plan, building infrastructure, building Canada as work is being done on our universities. It was with great pleasure that I looked at the job opportunities program which announced $60 million and is putting unemployed forestry workers to work.

We know that these workers actually want to work and that is our top priority. Indeed, we have made many changes in EI and the most recent being of course additional support for the long-tenured workers. Therefore, I see many positive things happening throughout my riding that supports forestry workers.

My question for the opposition member is this, and perhaps she could ask this question in Vancouver. If she were to visit my riding, how could she look at those forestry workers, long-tenured, who qualify for this program and say to them, “I could not support giving you additional EI even though you really needed it”?

Employment Insurance Act September 17th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, during this time of global recession, I have seen the strong benefits of the job opportunities program in my riding. I was delighted to hear that the student program is being enhanced and moving forward. We make great use of the work sharing program in my riding.

I am delighted to hear today about the changes in terms of unemployment benefits for long tenured workers. In my mind, it is just sort of rounding a key gap that was there. This will be an excellent benefit for my riding that has been hit during this global recession.

I wonder if the minister could talk a little bit more about the temporary nature of this program and why it was created temporarily.

Petitions September 17th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, as the post offices of our country are part of the rural fabric, the second petition calls upon Canada to maintain the moratorium on post office closures and withdraw the legislation to legalize remailers.

Petitions September 17th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to present two petitions.

The first petition concerns the long-gun registry which continues to be a major source of irritant for many of our rural communities. The petitioners are calling upon the House of Commons to support Bill C-391.

Employment Insurance September 14th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, while the leader of the Liberal Party continues to put his personal aspirations ahead of Canadians with talk of an unwanted election, our Conservative government is working to deliver results for Canadians hit hardest by the global recession. Many of these workers are in my riding of Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo.

Could the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development tell us what our government is doing for those workers?