November 4, 1969

LIB

Allan Joseph MacEachen (Minister of Manpower and Immigration)

Liberal

Mr. MacEachen:

It may be that so far as members of the opposition parties are concerned, the Address in Reply has become more and more of a ritualistic activity in which the sole preoccupation is with criticism and condemnation. If this is so, there is a hope that this atmosphere of obsessive negativism displayed by the opposition will be offset by the existence within the government party of an articulate and constructive back bench.

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Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear.

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LIB

Allan Joseph MacEachen (Minister of Manpower and Immigration)

Liberal

Mr. MacEachen:

During this debate hon. members have had a good deal to say about the relevancy of Parliament as it presently operates. I think the concern is that politics has taken to the streets and there is a danger that what we do and say in Parliament has more to do with past practice and protocol than with the real issues; that we are indulging in meaningless verbal posturing and pirouetting while the real concerns of the people pass us by. I believe that is the sense of the concern of members. If I sense also the correct nature of the criticism made of Parliament by its members, there is a feeling that there is not enough debate in the real sense; that the clash of ideas and convictions which we have so long cherished as one of Parliament's main purposes does not take place either in the atmosphere of immediacy or in the context of a current time frame. To this I say: Let us plug in Parliament. Let us connect the Commons to the wider community through the medium of television. I can think of no other action on our part which holds better hope of retaining or restoring

DEBATES 523

The Address-Mr. MacEachen relevancy in this institution and giving politics a place in the scheme of things in the 1970s.

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Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear.

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LIB

Allan Joseph MacEachen (Minister of Manpower and Immigration)

Liberal

Mr. MacEachen:

The principal priority of the government, as has been stated in the debate, is to fight inflation. This priority coincides with the current concern of the majority of Canadians. We have stated the elements of the policy we have adopted to deal with this problem. The Prime Minister (Mr. Trudeau), the Minister of Finance (Mr. Benson) and others have put the elements of this policy on the record for examination, discussion and debate; and the governor of the Bank of Canada has made his views known. There has been a lot of criticism from the opposition and much verbal shrapnel has been flying about. To listen to the opposition, everything is wrong. Yet as I have listened and as I have read carefully the speeches made, I have noted that they have not put forward an alternative policy to that which is being followed by the government. Our analysis of the problem and our solutions have been totally uncontested by the opposition's financial spokesmen.

[DOT] (9:10 p.m.)

Indeed, Mr. Speaker, instead of directly confronting the government on this main point, instead of contesting it on the main issue before the country today by a motion of non-confidence, the official opposition evaded and side-stepped that main point and resorted to vague generalities. In this connection I might mention that even the mighty thinka-thon conducted at Niagara Falls failed to produce any policies deemed worthy of inclusion either in his speech or in the non-confidence motion of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Stanfield). The opposition leader-

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LIB

Albert Béchard (Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bechard):

Order. The hon. member for Athabasca.

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PC

Paul Yewchuk

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Yewchuk:

Mr. Speaker, I wonder whether the minister would permit a question.

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LIB

Allan Joseph MacEachen (Minister of Manpower and Immigration)

Liberal

Mr. MacEachen:

If I have any time I will be happy to answer some questions at the end of my comments. The Leader of the Opposition in his peregrinations throughout Canada before the thinkathon at Niagara Falls gave us all the impression that he was going to go over the falls in a barrel, philosophically, so

November 4, 1969

The Address-Mr. MacEachen to speak. Now that the barrel has been opened we find it to be very empty.

The leader of the New Democratic Party in his speech-I must give him this credit-did mention the main problem of the day and attacked what he called the government's misguided anti-inflationary policy; but almost all of the counter proposals which he listed are either inapplicable, long-term,- suited to the 1930s or 1980s. No proposal made by the leader of the NDP could be regarded as applicable today, this month or this year in the current concern about inflation.

So, Mr. Speaker, my conclusion is that in this debate, in the motions made by the opposition and in the speeches made by the Leader of the Official Opposition and the leader of the NDP there has been no fatal flow or deficiency found in the current policy and solution of the government of Canada on the issue of inflation. I will return later in my remarks to the general question of the attitude of the opposition parties.

I would like to mention that a number of Speakers from all sides of the House have expressed interest in the larger question of social justice for all Canadians. I think it is appropriate that members of parliament should keep constantly in the forefront the conditions that are required to fulfil the aspirations and the opportunities that are so much a part of the essence of the just society. It is also appropriate to allude in this context to the Prime Minister's statement on the constitution and the people of Canada, delivered at the second meeting of the constitutional conference in Ottawa last February. He proposed as the third objective for a true confederation:

To promote national economic, social and cultural development, and the general welfare and equality of opportunity for all Canadians in whatever region they may live, including the opportunity for gainful work, for just conditions of employment, for an adequate standard of living, for security, for education and for rest and leisure.

I am sure we all believe these are sound objectives of a true Canadian federation. We realize that to achieve this third objective of the Canadian confederation the Parliament of Canada and the Government of Canada must have sufficient powers to stimulate and expand economic enterprise, maintain high levels of employment, promote growth in each region of Canada and ensure reasonably equitable social and employment opportunities and income levels for all Canadians. But,

Mr. Speaker, the federal government carries only a share of the responsibility for the just society. Indeed the shape and substance of social justice are framed at many levels. It embodies most profoundly the condition of individuals and families. It embodies the interaction of persons one with another. Private citizens and corporate enterprises, as well as public institutions, have a responsibility to recognize the culture, dignity and the reasonable and legitimate economic and social aspirations of their fellowmen. Social justice takes on meaning through the actions of local associations and local governments, through school boards, property owners' associations and social service agencies. Of course provincial governments, too, play an integral role in the process.

I say, Mr. Speaker, that no single agency, no single person escapes this task. Each segment of society has a role to play, a burden to share. A just society is built upon the recognition of individual dignity, mutual tolerance, fair play and the democratic participation of all its members. I refer here not only to the men and women who are born in Canada but to those who bring their talents and cultural heritage to our shores.

Part of our rule as a Parliament, and certainly part of my job as minister, is to provide a just and hospitable environment for new Canadians. It is only two years since the government introduced new immigration regulations which for the first time based the selection of immigrants on principles of universality, non-discrimination and equality of treatment. These regulations removed the last vestiges of discrimination on racial, cultural, national or geographic grounds and ensured that equal standards of assessment would be applied to all persons applying for permanent admission to Canada.

A further expression of Canada's concern, of this Parliament's concern and of the government's concern for social justice on an even broader front was the special arrangements adopted for the admission of Czechoslovakian refugees in 1968. To date some 11,200 Czech refugees have come forward and have settled in Canada. My department has spent over $11 million on their behalf. Roughly $3 million have been spent on language training alone for over 7,000 refugees. We have been able to place roughly 80 per cent of these persons in gainful employment in Canada. Here, then, we have the happy combination of compassion and good economics.

November 4, 1969

Czech families who suffered so much in their native country are not only finding freedom and opportunity in this country but they are making a very substantial contribution to the cultural and productive life of the nation.

Another important step which we have taken as a country in the field of international humanitarianism has been the ratification of the International Convention on the Status of Refugees and its 1965 protocol. The convention and protocol represent the major international instrument for the protection of refugees throughout the world. It establishes a common definition of refugees, lays down standards for fair and just treatment in countries of sanctuary and contains safeguards against their expulsion.

We have initiated through my department a variety of measures designed to promote economic justice and full employment opportunities for Canadians in every part of Canada. Surely social justice means opportunity for self-expression at work and at leisure and security of employment to provide for one's family.

[DOT] (9:20 p.m.)

Throughout the country we have established Canada Manpower centres in many new towns and areas in order to bring a broader knowledge of jobs and training or mobility incentives to workers who seek new challenges and who might otherwise be unemployed or marginally employed. We have raised the professional level of Canada Manpower counsellors so that they may provide a better service to workers. We have streamlined our offices and information media in keeping with the dignity of job-seekers in pursuing a fundamental right. We have strived to protect human rights in the operation of all manpower programs. The department, without equivocation or exception, recognizes as illegal any discrimination in employment because of race, national origin, colour, religion or political affiliation. During that last fiscal year Canada Manpower counsellors placed roughly 700,000 Canadians in jobs in all parts of the country.

In his speech the Leader of the Opposition made a passing reference to my department and its activities. He asked: Whatever became of the excellent concept behind the Department of Manpower, which seems to be starving from lack of attention and interest on the part of the cabinet as a whole? The Leader of the Opposition is wrong, of course. That

The Address-Mr. MacEachen excellent concept is alive and well and progressing on increased funds and expanded activities. On the day following the speech of the Leader of the Opposition my colleague the Minister of Finance (Mr. Benson) stated that in the government's view the steady expansion of the Department of Manpower is given a high priority. I want to back up that assertion with some facts and figures, although not too many.

In 1961 and 62 the federal government spent a mere $18 million on all training programs combined. Very few adults received any formal occupational training at all. Last year over 400,000 adults enrolled in the adult training program, and this year even more adults will take training. Indeed, in this current fiscal year our budget is about $250 million-13 times the total amount spent eight years ago. Mr. Speaker, the annual budget growth on training in Canada-

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An hon. Member:

Who started it?

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Mr, MacEachen:

-has been impressive. The annual figures are as follows: 1967-68, $160 million; 1968-69, $192 million; 1969-70, $250 million dollars. This is the current fiscal year, and as evidence of the priority we are giving to this aspect of government policy we expect to expend an increased sum of money on training in Canada in the next fiscal year. Until recently wealthier provinces got most of the federal money because they could better afford to put in matching contributions.

In 1965-66, for instance, about $177 was spent for training, per unemployed person, in Ontario as compared to $34 in the Atlantic provinces and $25 in Quebec. In short, the effort was uneven and it failed to meet adequately the needs of the poorer areas or the adult workers with family responsibilities. Social justice demanded a redressing of the balance.

The radical initiative of the occupational training program reflected the government's genuine concern for the needs of the poor and jobless, particularly those living in the less favoured areas of Canada. Expenditures now are directed to where the need is greatest. Where four years ago the vast bulk of expenditures were made in Ontario, in 1969-70 we estimate expenditures of roughly $765 per unemployed person in the Atlantic provinces, $607 in Quebec and $702 in Ontario.

Just for the interest of the Leader of the Opposition I might mention that in the last year that he was Premier of Nova Scotia, the

November 4, 1969

The Address-Mr. MacEachen expenditures on training for that province were $6.7 million and this year they have risen to $11.2 million. So we are making progress. We are attempting to follow up the work of these programs by surveys of works after they have finished their courses. The results are extremely encouraging. I know my hon. friends will be interested to know that.

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An hon. Member:

We are not.

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LIB

Allan Joseph MacEachen (Minister of Manpower and Immigration)

Liberal

Mr. MacEachen:

They show, for instance, that whereas more than half the workers were unemployed when they began training- many more expected shortly to be laid off- over 80 per cent who returned to the labour market were holding down good jobs after training.

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PC

John Howard Lundrigan

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Lundrigan:

Mr. Speaker, I wonder if I might ask the minister a question. Would he indicate the statistics on the unemployment rate presently in Atlantic Canada, broken down by province?

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LIB

Allan Joseph MacEachen (Minister of Manpower and Immigration)

Liberal

Mr. MacEachen:

Mr. Speaker, I am dealing with the first question the hon. member asked and this is a very important matter to members of this House and the taxpayers. In addition to successful returns to the labour market, the trainees also increased their incomes by about 16 per cent.. I am very proud of the work being done by the adult training program. Every month we receive dozens of letters from those who have taken training, the vast majority of whom have been helped by the program. I should like to read an excerpt from a letter recently received from a worker in Newfoundland. I read this letter because it is very moving in that it outlines in the man's own words his experience on being liberated from the shackles of unemployment and illiteracy as a result of training.

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PC

Gerald William Baldwin (Official Opposition House Leader; Progressive Conservative Party House Leader)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Baldwin:

Is that Joey Smallwood?

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LIB

Allan Joseph MacEachen (Minister of Manpower and Immigration)

Liberal

Mr. MacEachen:

Mr. Speaker, I am surprised that the House leader of the opposition would make light of the experience of this worker who writes as follows:

Before I attended the course, unemployment for periods of up to two years was not uncommon to me and employment was manual labour for short periods of time with constant lay-offs due to shortage of materials and weather conditions. As you can imagine life was morally and materially almost unbearable.

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An hon. Member:

He is now in the Prime Minister's office.

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LIB

Allan Joseph MacEachen (Minister of Manpower and Immigration)

Liberal

Mr. MacEachen:

The letter continues:

In September 1966, 1 was accepted at the Burin District Vocational School for a course in carpentry. When I entered the school, simple addition and subtraction represented the scope of my mathematic ability and although I could read and write, putting my thoughts on paper was almost impossible. When the course was finished we were familiar with trigonometry, algebra and geometry besides the knowledge of estimating for the building trades, we'd obtained a solid course in English and Science and blueprint reading plus our actual course.

I left school in June 1967 and haven't been out of work since and although the job I have now is not as a carpenter, it is a very direct result of my carpenter work.

Attending the Burin District Vocational School not only increased my job chances but has opened up a complete new life for myself and my family for which we are eternally thankful and grateful.

Mr. Speaker, this is the sentence that I think will move my hon. friends.

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An hon. Member:

Good old Mike Starr!

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LIB

Allan Joseph MacEachen (Minister of Manpower and Immigration)

Liberal

Mr. MacEachen:

Whether it was a benefit derived from a former government or the present one, it is still a moving letter.

I was 33 years old when I first entered the school and I can honestly say that my life began at that time.

[DOT] (9:30 p.m.)

The letter is in the man's own handwriting. He knows the true measure of social justice. I think we all get a better appreciation of social justice when it is related to the concept of individuals who have mastered the difficulties of their environment and their careers. We attempt to assist workers through our manpower mobility program. We assist workers who move from one part of Canada to another, from one part of a province to another and from one part of an area to another in order to improve their job opportunities and their incomes. We have a mobility program in Canada at the present time which is the most generous in the world. Even Sweden, which is regarded as the model by some hon. members opposite, does not come close to the generous provisions of the manpower mobility program operating in this country. We have had substantial improvement in the operation of this program. Last year roughly 44,000 persons were assisted, at a cost of $4 million. We hope this year approximately 50,000 persons will be assisted, at a cost of $6 million.

With the occupational training program and the manpower mobility program we are in.

November 4, 1969

The Address-Mr. MacEachen

most cases touching the workers on the borders of the labour market. We are touching workers who are unemployed, sometimes employed, but almost always poor, through these two programs.

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November 4, 1969