Mr. Speaker, in March, we heard ominous noises from the government. Some people hinted that the Shawinigan-Sud Tax Centre, which employs as many as 1,500 people at certain times of the year, might close.
When my colleague from Trois-Rivières and I asked the minister about this, we did not get a straight answer. There are persistent rumours and fears. The employees of the centre are understandably worried. What we are asking for today are clear answers.
When I asked the hon. Minister of National Revenue if there were any studies or reports on the economic and social impacts of closing the centre or keeping it open, I got no answer. When I asked what the results of the latest performance evaluation of the centre were, again I got no answer. When I asked when a final decision would be made, again I got no answer.
Even when we first raised the issue, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development and the Minister of Labour referred to the automation of employment insurance claims. The Shawinigan-Sud Tax Centre does not process employment insurance claims. The parliamentary secretary does not have a good handle on this matter and has confused employment insurance and taxation. Even more disturbing is the fact that she is not denying these rumours. The government is not dispelling doubt. The people in my riding count on these jobs.
Since the 2012 budget was tabled, public servants have been nervous, and rightly so. They do not know what will happen to their jobs. The government is allowing rumours to swirl and, in the meantime, thousands of families are experiencing the stress of uncertainty. That is not humane. Federal government cuts will reduce services and swell the ranks of the unemployed across the country.
I am worried and it is my duty as an elected member to again raise this matter. I have not been reassured and I am afraid of how these cuts will affect the people of my riding. Not only could people lose their jobs, but the reduction in services to the public could also have consequences.