December 13, 1979

LIB

Robert Knight Andras

Liberal

Mr. Andras:

Listen to all this nonsense. On Tuesday night the Conservative party finally cut the umbilical cord and is off and flying-or not flying, but crashing on their own. Most of the press people in this country give them no more than seven months to whirl around saying, "What a tough job we have because of the previous government". From this point on the figures will be their figures. This plan is their plan and the plan which contains these projections to which I have referred.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   THE BUDGET
Sub-subtopic:   FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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?

An hon. Member:

It will get the cash deficit down.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   THE BUDGET
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LIB

Robert Knight Andras

Liberal

Mr. Andras:

I am glad that the hon. gentleman brought that up.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   THE BUDGET
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PC

Benno Friesen

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Friesen:

You cooked them often enough.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   THE BUDGET
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LIB

Robert Knight Andras

Liberal

Mr. Andras:

I am merely referring to the material, or the ammunition, which the government gave us the other night. The Conservative party has boasted that they would reduce the deficit from $10 billion to $4 billion. Their expenditures will go up $30 billion and their tax increases will go up by over $3 billion a year. But yet they still end up with a budgetary deficit of $9 billion.

Do hon. members know that the cash deficit reduction will come from an accidental accrual of pension funds which has

December 13, 1979

The Budget-Mr. Andras

nothing to do with that government's policy? Let us not talk about fudging or cooking the books in that game. It is not a reduction in the cash deficit as a result of government expenditure restraint, but as a result of a massive increase in taxes. We all know upon whom the burden of those taxes will fall. The accrual of pension funds was a lucky break.

I do not think that any sophisticated analyst upon reading that document would argue that the government and the President of the Treasury Board are earning their kudos by being tough managers and balancing the books by restraint. Instead, they went in the opposite direction and raised taxes but had a lucky break with regard to pension funds.

The Conservative party neglected to mention in this budget one of the promises which it floated past the Canadian electorate in May, and that is the general tax cut of about $2 billion. There is no sign of it in this budget. With the increase in taxes of $3.5 billion next year, considering that the budgetary deficit will change hardly at all and that the cash deficit will come down by sheer accident as a result of those other cash flows, where is that extraordinary increase in taxes going? It is going into the fetish and priority demand of the Conservative caucus, the mortgage interest deductibility program.

Just a few days ago outside this House, the Minister of Finance said that the mortgage interest deductibility plan was not his priority, and that even though the rest of his party thinks that it is a pretty hot thing, he does not. But the minister came back into the House the next day and said that the mortgage plan was the greatest thing since sliced bread. The government is using closure, before the bill has even gone through committee, to indicate how much they think of that plan. It is a very bad misallocation of resources.

There is very little reference in this budget to international trade. I am glad to see that the Minister of State for International Trade (Mr. Wilson) is in the House today. The government wails about the balance of payments, the invisibles and so forth. The only thing that it has done is to export a lot of our natural gas. One would expect from the reputation of the big "C" Conservatives that they would be good at wheeling and dealing abroad, at getting contracts and sparking up the export effort of this country.

I read a speech by the Minister of State for International Trade the other day in which he boasted about a task force on the export policies of the federal government. The minister knows full well that that task force was put in place long before he assumed office. I hope that it works. I have no objection to the government's using these ideas and mechanisms and ensuring that they serve the purpose for which they were intended when we put them in place.

Let us talk about what has happened in the world of international trade. We have the timid trio of trade-the senator in the other place who could not make it on his own, the Minister of State for International Trade and the Minister of State for Small Businesses and Industry (Mr. Huntington). They are bad enough, but then we have the Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources (Mr. Hnatyshyn), who gets into the act or stays out of it, the Secretary of State for External

Affairs (Miss MacDonald) and the Prime Minister, all of whom are making statements. We are now in a fundamental position where one of our most important problems and opportunities is that of solving our current account imbalance.

What is the record of this government in international affairs of this nature? They started off behind the eight ball by having blown millions, if not billions, of potential contracts and jobs in this country by their cynical suggestion of moving the Canadian embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. There is no question that it will take a great deal of work and a long, long time for Canada, because of this government, to recover any basis of negotiation in the Middle East that makes any sense whatsoever. By that stupid, immature, cynical, one, single vote-getting promise they made, they have done a great deal of damage and they know it.

The government talks a great deal about energy self-sufficiency in the 1980s and the 1990s. They are talking about a goal which is ten or 15 years away, and we need oil supplies now. Everyone will admit that there is a possible heating oil problem this winter.

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PC

Michael Holcombe Wilson (Minister of State for International Trade)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Wilson:

Where were you a few years ago?

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LIB

Robert Knight Andras

Liberal

Mr. Andras:

Where was I a few years ago? Well, I will get into that with the minister. Let us take one precise example. Last spring, the former minister of energy went to Mexico and Venezuela. He went for two purposes. One was to shore up oil supplies and decrease our dependency on Middle Eastern oil for the short-term ahead, the next five to ten years.

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PC

Michael Holcombe Wilson (Minister of State for International Trade)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Wilson:

He went there to grandstand.

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LIB

Robert Knight Andras

Liberal

Mr. Andras:

Hon. members may want to listen to this because they may wish to adjust their policy and take some constructive advice for a change. The former minister of energy went to Mexico to arrange a contract for 50,000 barrels of oil a day with delivery starting in 1980, and 100,000 barrels a day with delivery starting in 1981. The Mexican government was not all that eager to make such a commitment because they were not ready to mass distribute their oil supplies until they had the financial arrangements worked out. Because of the special relationship between Canada and Mexico, they agreed to make this commitment, and not at gouging prices.

The other purpose for going to these countries was to establish a framework for a reciprocal trade agreement with regard to Canadian exports. We are talking about $6 billion both ways in this contract. That is not a small sum. The framework was there. The agreement was initialled and negotiated with the President of Mexico and the former minister of energy, mines and resources. It had only to be ratified and implemented. The President of Mexico had been invited here for that purpose but his visit was understandably interrupted by the election.

A country like Mexico that is going to grow, that has a special affinity, respect, affection and a high priority for Canada-Mexico trade, was treated this way. My information is

December 13, 1979

that there has been no denial of this from across the floor. Since May 22 until a few days ago when we raised it in the House, the only communication this government had with the Mexican government was to send them a signal about the oil agreement, telling them to scratch out the word "Petro-Canada". There had been no formal contact with the President of Mexico to renew the invitation to him to come to Canada until a few days ago when we raised the matter in the House.

Mexico is a special trading partner of Canada. If that is not enough, on November 26 in Guanajuato, Mexico, a bilateral trade meeting between the Canadian Association for Latin American Trade and high level ministers of the Mexican government discussed trade between our two countries. The Mexicans considered this to be extremely significant. In spite of the insistence of the Canadian ambassador to Mexico and the Mexican ambassador to Canada, however, that we send one of our timid trio of trade to Mexico to help the Canadian delegation and to meet with the President of Mexico and his senior officials, those ministers said they were too busy to go. Instead, we sent the director general of the Department of Industry, Trade and Commerce. The Mexicans were insulted and offended.

This is just one of a series of inept performances by this government which is beginning to cool relations at a time when we are involved in negotiating a $6 billion exchange of trade, to say nothing of getting relief from our dependency on Middle East oil. The Mexicans like and respect us and are willing to deal with us.

Time will not permit me to go over the sad saga of similar gaffes and examples of ineptitude and indifference by this government in the area of international trade which is so important to us.

One of these days I shall put on record the performance of the Minister of State for International Trade with regard to international trade with Argentina. I know the problems with that contract, and because there was a loss it is doubly important that we capitalize on that very expensive lesson about the development of our nuclear technology. Before May, AECL had the inside track in Argentina but this government procrastinated. There was some disagreement between the Secretary of State for External Affairs and the Prime Minister and others about nuclear sales.

As a consequence, they did not make up their minds until they met in Jasper in August, although meetings in Argentina had been arranged and there was a deadline for the contract. I am told that the minister waited-I will accept any correction and I should like to hear about this from him some time-for ten days before he went to Mexico. They had expected two ministers, a senior minister and an inner cabinet minister, and I am told that the junior minister who arrived instead had a great deal of trouble getting an appointment with the janitors.

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PC

Michael Holcombe Wilson (Minister of State for International Trade)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Wilson:

That is not so.

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LIB

Robert Knight Andras

Liberal

Mr. Andras:

Let us get it on the record, then. I have put down a request for the production of documents on the Mexi-

The Budget-Mr. Atkey

can fiasco so I shall do the same thing with regard to the Argentinian contract.

The reputation this government is getting in the Middle East, Argentina, Venezuela, Mexico and, I am told, Japan, is shocking. Many Canadians would expect that the Conservatives might be able to do a job in this field.

I see my time is nearly up, Mr. Speaker, but I must say I have not seen anything in this budget that is on the right track. The government has a fetish about the reduction of the deficit, and, frankly, it has a commitment to objectives which I share. But, of course, I do not agree with their methods. They said they would accomplish everything by restraint but they have not. I think we are faced with the highest single increase in taxes since World War II. The taxes are regressive and oppressive and set Canadian against Canadian. I do not see how some hon. members opposite can live with their conscience and with this kind of budget. They should not try to tell sophisticated Canadians that they are balancing that budget and reducing cash requirements through tight expenditure control. They have accepted an increase in expenditures of $30 billion in five years, a 60 per cent increase. They are accepting a 10 per cent annual rate of increase in expenditures. They are playing games with their story about the budget reduction because actually their budgetary deficit comes down very little. After all these bitter pills they are asking us to swallow, this is the result.

It is sadly amusing, Mr. Speaker. The Minister of Finance has at least one thing going for him-he has a delightful wit but it is wearing thin, Mr. Speaker. After Tuesday night no one is laughing at that joker any more. In his speech he boasted that his great grandfather had presented a budget in Newfoundland 51 years ago. That takes us back to 1928, Mr. Speaker. Shortly after that, Canada had its most dismal experience of a Conservative regime through the thirties. I am also told that five years after the budget was presented, Newfoundland went bankrupt.

Mr. Speaker, this government has to straighten up and fly right very soon. There was tolerance in the country to let the new boys learn their job but the evidence we had the other night shows that tolerance to be fast disappearing. A great deal of damage can be done, Mr. Speaker, and I do not think this House of Commons has much choice about what should be done with this budget.

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PC

Ronald George Atkey (Minister of Employment and Immigration)

Progressive Conservative

Hon. Ron Atkey (Minister of Employment and Immigration):

Mr. Speaker, I am participating in this crucial debate today in my capacity as the minister responsible for employment policy in the present government. And I preface my remarks by saying frankly to this House that I am very much aware of the awesome problems that face the government in this field. They are awesome problems that have been left largely in neglect by our predecessors and they are crying out for direct and proper attention.

Today in Canada we have a double problem involving a paradox. We have an unacceptably high level of unemployment in general-no one disputes that-but at the same time

December 13, 1979

The Budget-Mr. At key

we have a shortage of workers with specific skills. This government intends to act to meet this challenge.

There is another challenge too, that of securing justice for those groups within the economy that have traditionally faced special problems in the job market-youth, women, native peoples, the handicapped and others. We intend to do something about that too.

[ Translation]

Besides, it is clear that the demographic changes in our country and the necessity for our economy to adapt to the energy crisis and to the new physiognomy of international trade will provoke upheavals in the labour force and the labour market in coming years. Therefore, the government must adopt a flexible and balanced approach to take up these challenges.

The immediate problem of young Canadians seeking to establish themselves in a tight labour market has been at the forefront of our considerations in determining the nature and scale of our employment programs for 1980-81. Our concern stems from two main sources. First, youth suffer much more than their fair share of existing unemployment. For example, in November of this year, while youth made up about a quarter of the labour force, they also accounted for almost half of the total unemployment figure. In fact, of the number of Canadians who were looking for work, 15.4 per cent of those aged 15 to 19 and 10.7 per cent of those aged 20 to 24 were unemployed, compared with 5.3 per cent aged 25 and older. I am inclined to the view that these figures probably underestimate the problem because young people are perhaps more easily discouraged from looking for work when they sense it is difficult to find.

The second concern of the government stems from recognition of the importance that finding and keeping meaningful jobs has for the self-esteem and future labour market experience of young people.

[ Translation]

It is well known that the first experiences of a worker have a determining influence on the rest of his active life and on his income level. The young people of the post-war baby boom now represent over a quarter of the labour force and during the years to come they will rapidly join the ranks of adult workers. For example, it is anticipated that in 1985 they will represent only 23 per cent of the labour force compared to over 26 per cent in 1980. Under these circumstances, it is particularly important that they now get the training and qualifications they will need to lead an active, significant and productive life as adults. Because above all, the government does not want to breed another generation of unemployment insurance and social welfare recipients. Our young people can do better than that, especially in a country as rich as ours in human and natural resources.

Mr. Speaker, although solid work experience in real jobs is important to all youth, the truly vital factor, especially for young people who have not had the advantage of higher education or formal skill training, is simply to land that first job. This can be critical to his or her ultimate success because it provides that all-important starting point. In that connection, I firmly believe that an authentic job, a real job, in the private sector will be more credible to potential employers than a job on a government make-work project.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   THE BUDGET
Sub-subtopic:   FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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?

Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

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Subtopic:   THE BUDGET
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PC

Ronald George Atkey (Minister of Employment and Immigration)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Atkey:

It is about those make-work projects that employers tend to be skeptical, if not downright negative.

We are also aware of the concern of parents for their children who are unable to find work or who drift between dead-end jobs and government support programs without learning to stand on their own feet. In fact, many parents feel that they have done everything possible in terms of educating their children and they ask themselves where they have failed or where they have gone wrong. Of course, the answer in most cases is that no blame can be attached to the parents. The problem has been the failure in the past to provide adequate incentives for the private sector to provide sufficient jobs. In the past, there have been a number of measures designed to alleviate youth unemployment. However, these measures, which existed in several federal departments, lacked a clear policy direction. The public was often confused by what appeared to be a hodge-podge of programs.

As announced in the Speech from the Throne, we will be establishing a youth employment secretariat to provide the direction that has been lacking in the past under the previous government. This secretariat will monitor existing programs and co-ordinate them to ensure that duplication is reduced and that they are meeting the real needs of Canadian youth. As an additional means to make sure that youth employment programs provide the best value for money invested in them, the youth employment secretariat will work to harmonize federal youth employment programs with those of the provinces. I might say there are many good programs in the provinces. One of the first tasks of this new secretariat will be to ensure co-ordination of temporary employment programs for the spring and summer of 1980 to accommodate the thousands of young students expected to come onto the labour market at that time.

Our commitment to youth, however, does not exclude other groups who face particular difficulties in the labour market and who do have a valid call on our energies and available resources.

The participation of women in the labour force is a matter which came up in the question period today, and 1 thank the hon. member opposite for raising it. This has been a problem which has been rising rapidly and continuously since the post-war period. Unfortunately, the trend of having enough jobs for women who want to get into the labour market as a permanent proposition is going to continue for some time.

December 13, 1979

Although this human resource is one of our strengths as a nation and of our economy, for too many years the talents and abilities of Canadian women have not been fully used. One measure of this is to be found in the fact that although women account for over 39 per cent of our labour force, they also make up about 47 per cent of our unemployed. Moreover, women frequently suffer from job segregation and low wages when they do start to work.

Such barriers are gradually being removed and my department is embarking now upon a major campaign to speed up the process. We are encouraging women to train for all kinds of jobs, including many which for too long have been regarded as male preserves. A good idea of the potential of this exercise can be seen at such projects as Syncrude in Fort McMurray, Alberta, where women in hard hats are an integral and essential part of the work force. That is the sort of thing we are going to see in this country.

Those of us who have had good fortune and good health too often forget not only the problems but the employment difficulties of those who are physically or mentally handicapped. These must be brought to the fore. We cannot continue to shunt occupationally handicapped persons to employment outside of the mainstream of Canadian life. The new programs must and will make provision for their employment in meaningful jobs in the private sector.

Although there are no accurate statistics which fully describe the labour market situation of Canadians of native ancestry, our experience clearly indicates that the problems they face are serious indeed. The disproportionately faster growth of the working age population of native youth, together with structural factors such as low levels of educational attainment, limited job skills and geographic isolation, contribute to all these problems.

I would like to emphasize the role that affirmative action can play in helping to ensure that women, natives and the physically disabled obtain a representative share of jobs within a company or organization. Affirmative action, which is a relatively new approach to this problem in Canada, involves an employer developing a comprehensive, results-oriented plan to remove those employment practices which act as a barrier to these groups but which are not work-related.

Already eight medium and large-sized Canadian firms have recently agreed to develop affirmative action plans with my department, and I understand another 12 agreements are under negotiation. This is all as a result of effective action by officials in Canada Employment and Immigration since June 4 who are working together with the private sector to achieve a worth-while objective.

In January, the government and cabinet will be reviewing the effectiveness of the present voluntary approach in terms of federal contractors; that is, people who want or already have contracts with the federal government. This review will be with a view to ensuring compliance with the affirmative action concept and ensuring that compliance is widespread. Whatever decision is taken by Cabinet in January, I can assure this House and the people of Canada that affirmative action to

The Budget-Mr. Atkey

reduce systematic discrimination will be a major priority of this government and will be most vigorously pursued.

On Tuesday evening the Minister of Finance (Mr. Crosbie) indicated in his budget speech that my department will be launching a number of new initiatives to stimulate the creation of additional jobs and to help individual Canadians obtain meaningful and rewarding employment. I would like now to describe generally these initiatives and the principles upon which they are based.

It is, and must continue to be, the private sector which generates most of the real employment opportunities in this country. It accomplishes this as a by-product of producing the goods and services which people demand through their purchases. In other words, the priority objective is production of goods and services with a real economic value, rather than make-work job creation.

The aim of start/stop programs such as the local initiatives program, OFY and Canada Works, may well have had some validity in the early 1970s when unemployment was seen- wrongly, as it turned out-as a short-term phenomenon which could be treated almost entirely by temporary palliatives. The Liberal concept is to take a gob of money, throw it at job creation and somehow everything will be all right in the long run. To continue with an emphasis of this kind when it is obvious that short-term or easy solutions are not the answer to the problem of unemployment would be irresponsible. Such programs discourage the kind of mobility needed in the labour force and generate dependencies on government support programs in general. They also divert attention from the need to find more permanent solutions to chronic problems. 1 am convinced that our intention to move towards longer-term solutions by recognizing the primacy of the private sector when it comes to generating real and truly productive jobs is fully in accord with the preference of all Canadians for regular and secure jobs.

Far be it from me to suggest that the private sector alone is responsible for ensuring that there are enough jobs for all those who want and can work. It is indeed clearly the responsibility of the government to provide the required parameters, and to be the prime mover in the creation of jobs. All in all, what I am talking about is the necessity of real co-operation among government, employers and labour.

Mr. Speaker, over the last few months 1 was most impressed to see that the representatives of employers as well as labour and all levels of government have a very positive determination to combine forces to define the problems and work towards solutions. In such a spirit of co-operation, the government can and must act in at least three areas. First, we intend to help establish a social and economic climate conducive to the prosperity of the private sector and to help that sector take initiatives that will produce permanent jobs, as provided for by my colleague, the Minister of Finance (Mr. Crosbie) in his

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The Budget-Mr. Atkey

budget. It is also an area where my department intends to make its contribution as I shall explain later on.

Secondly, Mr. Speaker, we will encourage the private sector to play its full role in employing people, whatever their sex, age, ethnic or cultural background. We will be doing this in complete realization of current and future social and demographic changes. Some examples are the increasing participation and rising expectations of some in the labour market, the aging of the baby boom generation, alterations in family size and structure, and the aspirations of native Canadians.

Finally, we will be helping individuals increase their employability in situations where they are willing to work but where lack of information, lack of funds or lack of opportunity prevents them from obtaining the training and experience they need. At the same time this will help employers get the skilled people they need. We must also recognize that there are some individuals so lacking in basic qualifications that they are not acceptable to employers even when economic conditions are buoyant. For such individuals, we intend to provide assistance which will allow them, in time, to make their own way in the labour market.

The key to resolving the employment problems of young Canadians and others who have difficulty obtaining employment is more jobs. And, as we all know, the expansion of the private sector is the key to creating more jobs. That is why working in partnership with the private sector is at the centre of this government's approach to our future expansion. It is also why I am today giving notice of a ways and means motion setting out the income tax changes necessary to support a major new program of private employment incentives. Pursuant to Standing Order 60 I wish to table a notice of ways and means motion, and I would ask you, Mr. Speaker, to designate an order of the day necessary for the consideration thereof. The incentive will be a tax credit of $80 per week for each eligible worker for a minimum of 13 weeks up to a maximum of one year. A work week must be a minimum of 35 hours subject to any collective agreement regarding a normal work week.

We hope to have the private employment incentives program in effect early in February, 1980. I hope that the motion will be considered by this House very soon after conclusion of the general budget debate. If the motion is accepted, it is my intention to introduce the necessary legislation.

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PC

Fred Alward McCain (Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Progressive Conservative

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McCain):

Order. Is it the pleasure of the House that the minister should table a motion?

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
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?

Some hon. Members:

Agreed.

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PC

Ronald George Atkey (Minister of Employment and Immigration)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Atkey:

The basic intent of the legislation is to stimulate employment by allowing employers to claim the $80 weekly tax credit in return for providing jobs under certain conditions. In the event that an employer would not be able to use the tax credits in a given year, it would be possible to carry them forward for up to five years.

December 13, 1979

The two elements of the program will be concerned with, first, the incremental employment of youth, and second, with improving or maintaining the employability of people with hiring handicaps, particularly youth, natives, older workers, women re-entrants into the labour force and the disabled. These elements are to come into effect in early February, 1980. If the private sector responds as I anticipate, we will be able to place in private sector jobs before the next fiscal year draws to a close up to 105,000 unemployed young people.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
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?

Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   THE BUDGET
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PC

Ronald George Atkey (Minister of Employment and Immigration)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Atkey:

Of this total, 89,000 young people will be placed in new private sector jobs that did not exist before; an additional 16,000 young people with severe difficulties in obtaining continuing employment will also be placed in private sector jobs. On top of all this, some 15,000 older Canadians who have had such severe difficulties will also be placed in private sector jobs.

Whether we reach the placement ceilings under either the incremental element or the employability element will depend a great deal on the response we get from the leaders of business and industry. We will be appealing to them to join with us in an all-out effort to create employment opportunities for Canadians, and especially young Canadians.

In addition to forging a partnership with the private business and industrial sectors, we want to co-operate with the voluntary sector in creating jobs directly for youth. Although the voluntary sector has demonstrated a tremendous capacity to perform an invaluable service function, as witness their efforts in the case of the Indo-Chinese refugees, such organizations have been largely untapped as a potential source of concrete work experience for young men and women.

Through a new national youth service program I expect that about 14,000 young people will, by the end of the fiscal year 1980-81, be enlisted by the voluntary sector to render a service to their country, their province or their community rather than having to depend on unemployment insurance benefits or welfare. We should make special efforts to seek the active participation of women's groups in this program. The national youth service program is to be funded at a level of at least $70 million in the year 1980-81.

We especially want to help the young people who are really disadvantaged and who are in great need of assistance. We do not want to repeat some of the mistakes of the Opportunities for Youth and Local Initiatives programs where, in many cases, middle and upper class young people financed their own little projects with public funds without the country or the community being able to benefit from it. By obtaining the participation of recognized organizations which have already proven that they can bring their services to those most in need, we believe that the emphasis will be placed less on innovation for its own sake and more on better opportunities to implement

December 13, 1979

projects which will have long-term beneficial effects and will provide a valid job experience for young people.

The government will also be setting aside $50 million, obtained through reductions in some programs, to finance economic development projects in areas of high unemployment, a significant proportion to be directed to regional areas, primarily in eastern Canada. The specific projects are now under final review and details of the federal proposals, subject to further consultation with the provinces concerned, will be announced soon. They will include small craft harbours, fishing vessel assistance, fish-handling facilities and technological development in Quebec and the four Atlantic provinces.

Let me talk for a moment about the shortage of skilled labour in Canada. Immigration may be an appropriate response to assist the private sector when there is absolutely no other way to fill an immediate labour force need. But a much better and longer-term solution is to give high priority to the training of Canadians in the highly skilled occupations which are or will be in short supply.

Despite the need for restraint in other areas, this government will be maintaining the regular industrial and institutional skills training programs which have proven to be so valuable. In 1980-81 we shall be allocating about $610 million, plus up to $196 million in unemployment insurance benefits, to support industrial and institutional training. Moreover, this government will be increasing financial expenditures to help industry overcome critical trade skills shortages. The critical trade skills training initiatives will be funded at $20 million over the next fiscal year, double the amount provided by the previous government. Under this program the federal government will make financial support available to employers willing to train Canadians. For such employers the support will be for a maximum of two years or half the training time, whichever is less.

As with many programs, the success of this one depends on the willingness of employers, with the support of union leaders, to establish a training capability and to select workers for training. I have already indicated that there is a demonstrated willingness on the part of employers, the labour movement and governments to work together and plan for the future. A good example of this is the establishment in Ontario of a large number of local industrial training advisory committees during the past year. These groups are charged with identifying manpower problems and working toward their resolution at the local level. This is the type of initiative to which we intend to give out full support.

In keeping with the government's intention to ensure that key activities come back to this House at regular intervals to justify their continued need to exist, a sunset evaluation report on our new private employment incentives program will be laid before Parliament after two years. This means, in effect, that there will be the option to end the program after two years. Whether the program continues or not will depend on the resuits of the evaluation and on what Parliament feels should be done. In any case, it will lapse automatically after three

The Budget-Mr. Atkey

years unless Parliament resolves to continue it for a further period of time.

I mentioned earlier that there are individuals who many employers are reluctant to employ. For such individuals the local employment assistance program is functioning successfully as a vehicle to increase their self-sufficiency. It has been shown that participation in a project funded by this program increases the employability and earnings of more than half the clients. A recent cost-benefit study of the program indicates that for every dollar invested Canada is getting over two dollars in return. That is why we are continuing this program. It is clear that the local employment assistance program is an extremely worth-while program which merits the expansion planned. This program will be a major element of my department's programs for native Canadians. More than half the program funds will be allocated in such a way as to encourage the development of long-term jobs in native communities.

By developing these programs and by ensuring that the major components will be subject to sunset review and lapsing clauses, we have maintained the flexibility which will be needed to shift the balance between programs, and the specific problems they address, as circumstances change. One of the things we can foresee now is that the labour force will "age" as we move into the 1980s. The "baby boom" generation will enter the adult age group, reflecting the birth rate decline which started in the 1960s. It will not be fully replaced by new youth of working age. The critical nature of the youth unemployment problem can be expected to ease as a result of these developments, as well as because of the programs we are initiating. As this occurs, it will be necessary from time to time to reassess the situation and possibly to shift the balance so as to direct emphasis to other priority areas.

As my colleague, the Minister of Finance said last evening, the eighties are not going to be easy years. The impact of major changes in the labour market in both the rate and nature of technological change and in the needs of Canadians as they go through the life cycle will generate substantial challenges. This government is ready to meet these challenges and I believe the measures 1 have just described will move us firmly in the right direction.

Above all, however, I would like to underline that although this government is prepared to take policy initiatives and back them up with dollars, the government cannot do the job alone. In the final analysis it is up to the entrepreneurs and businessmen of Canada from both large and small businesses to generate the economic activity which will open up employment opportunities. Our function as a government is to play a supportive role and help create a climate in which individual Canadians are willing to make the judgments and take the risks which will allow the real potential of our economy to be realized. I am sure all members will agree that given this country's combination of human and natural resources, our potential is considerable indeed.

December 13, 1979

The Budget-Mr. Atkey

[ Translation]

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   THE BUDGET
Sub-subtopic:   FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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LIB

Joseph Mario Jacques Olivier

Liberal

Mr. Olivier:

Mr. Speaker, would the hon. minister accept a question?

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   THE BUDGET
Sub-subtopic:   FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
Permalink

December 13, 1979