June 21, 1989

LIB

Charles L. Caccia

Liberal

Mr. Caccia:

You don't know how to spell it.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
Permalink
PC

John William Bosley

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Bosley:

I don't know how to spell it? The Hon. Member for Davenport is in his usual mood.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
Permalink
LIB

Charles L. Caccia

Liberal

Mr. Caccia:

Right.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
Permalink
PC

John William Bosley

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Bosley:

I accept that.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
Permalink
LIB

Charles L. Caccia

Liberal

Mr. Caccia:

Spell it for us.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
Permalink
PC

John William Bosley

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Bosley:

Spell it? S-u-c-c-e-s-s, j-o-b-s, w-e-a-1-t-h. Work for people, that is where this is going.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
Permalink
LIB

Charles L. Caccia

Liberal

Mr. Caccia:

The word "humanity".

June 21, 1989

Unemployment Insurance Act

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
Permalink
PC

John William Bosley

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Bosley:

The word "humanity"? Humanity is that I wait and listen to the Hon. Member when he speaks but he does not have the humanity to be quiet when someone else is speaking.

I know that as a result of these changes, two things of some consequence will happen. We will contribute to the continuing reduction in the number of permanently unemployed, particularly those who wind up for sad reasons being repeaters in the UIC program because they do not have enough training. If we are successful doing that alone, we will have made an enormous impact, particularly on the urban poor.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
Permalink
LIB

Francis G. LeBlanc

Liberal

Mr. LeBlanc (Cape Breton Highlands-Canso)):

No, it doesn't affect anybody.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
Permalink
PC

John William Bosley

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Bosley:

The Hon. Member doesn't know what is going on in downtown Toronto.

Second, I think we will see when we revisit this in about three years that all of the predictions we are making about more jobs and employment for those who need it will again have come true.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
Permalink
NDP

Steven W. Langdon

New Democratic Party

Mr. Steven W. Langdon (Essex-Windsor):

Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by saying that I enjoyed listening to the speech made by the Hon. Member who just spoke. However, if he had dealt directly with the issues at debate before us today, he might have answered three questions. He might have answered first why it is that the Government, after just one day of debate, has decided to shut off debate on the principle of this important Bill. He refused to deal with that question.

The Hon. Member might also have answered why it is that, despite the fact that the Department of Employment and Immigration has carried out and completed impact studies to determine what will be the effect on different parts of the country and different groups of people of these changes, the Department refuses to release these studies and has in fact stated so by letter in its refusal under the Freedom of Information Act. Why is this so if the picture that is to be painted by those impact studies is so grand and glorious, as the Hon. Member has suggested? Why is there an attempt to first ram this Bill through so quickly and, second, to suppress crucial information which should be before us when debating the principles of this Bill?

Third, I would have thought that the Hon. Member himself might have dealt with the real principle here, which is not the question of whether or not Members on

this side of the House or on that side of the House are concerned about training. The Hon. Member knows full well that all three Parties have made commitments to both the principle of increased training for people who are unemployed and to particular ways to put that principle into effect. That is not the issue. The issue is whether it is right to take beyond that $800 million which is being given to training, a further $1 billion out of the unemployment insurance fund and effectively put it back into the coffers of the Government because the Government will not in the future pay for regionally extended unemployment insurance benefits. That is the real principle.

The real principle, though the Hon. Member might wish to deny it, is to shift a large amount of money which in the past the Government has been responsible for when it let unemployment rise above 4 per cent. It will no longer provide that money to the unemployment insurance fund and, instead, contribution rates will be increased for those who are unemployed and for employers.

That is the real issue. If government Members had the courage to participate directly in questions and answers during this debate, as they would have to do if they had not put closure into effect, that is the issue they would have to answer to. However, they have now succeeded in being able to simply make witty, interesting but ultimately incorrect and unacceptable interpretations of the legislation before us.

This legislation is very clear-cut. In at least 30 different ways, this legislation makes it significantly more difficult for people who are not able to find employment to get the support which they as contributors to an insurance fund have surely the right to expect when they face what they have insured themselves against, the condition of unemployment, and we will demonstrate that in committee.

I could point out that this piece of legislation goes against everything the Government promised during the last election campaign. Frankly, though, that would be nothing new. That would not be a novelty. Ever since the Government was re-elected on November 21, it has completely turned its back on every promise it made to the Canadian people in order to win re-election. Whether one takes the promise of a vast program of child care, the promise of a tremendous defence of regional development expenditure, the promise that none of our social

benefits would be affected by free trade, one finds that ever since its election the Government has made a complete U-tum. To put it bluntly, it has spit in the eye of the Canadian electorate and stated: "We don't care what we promised you. We think we are going to be here for the next five years. You can like it or lump it, but you are going to have to take it, and we are going to give it to you as hard and as viciously as we possibly can".

As the previous Member attempted to suggest, the issue is not a question of us on this side of the House saying let us give everything we can to the people of the country without worrying about who will pay for it. That is not the question. The question is, who pays for what is crucially needed in the country? Who pays for what we said during the election campaign was crucially needed, a program of adjustment, a program of training, and a program of help for those people who would be hit by the free trade deal? Who pays for that?

Do we do as those countries in Europe the previous Member talked about? Do we make the companies that will benefit-or so we were told during the trade deal-so immensely from that deal pay a somewhat greater increase, a 1 per cent levy for training? Even such an obviously radical socialist as the head of Bell Enterprises, Mr. de Grandpre, suggested that companies should have to pay a training levy within the country. Do we do that in order to finance the crucial adjustment assistance that is needed?

Instead, do we do what the Government has decided to do? Do we take the group which is the most vulnerable, the weakest, the most up against it, those who are unemployed and have been unemployed for significant periods of time and often live in poorer regions of this country, and say to them: "I'm sorry, but for the good of Canada please be patriotic. For the good of our country's economy, accept the sacrifice and tighten your belts. We know you are close to starvation and your level of assets has been reduced tremendously by this period of unemployment, but we think you have still got something to give Canada. You have still got something to give to the corporate elite in this country. So we are going to ask you, you who are unemployed in Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, the interior of B.C., northern Saskatchewan,

Unemployment Insurance Act

northern Ontario, or even in parts of our major metropolitan cities such as Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver-where there are pockets of significant poverty and unemployment-to pay the cost of adjustment". That is what this piece of legislation tries to do.

Or do we take a position that has some sense of equity, social justice and fairness within it? Do we take a position that, at the very least, those who are somewhat better off in society should be the people who end up paying for the adjustment costs that are there as part of putting the trade deal into effect?

For those of us on this side of the House there is no question how that choice is answered. It is answered by stating that it is not the poorest in our country who should pay. It is not the people who are out of work. It is not the poorer regions that should pay for something which will benefit the large corporations.

Instead, we suggest, and have suggested again and again, that the adjustment costs and the training benefits which are crucial for the future of this country should be financed by the corporate sector and by taxpayers who are better off. It should not fall on the shoulders of those people who are the poorest within this Canada of ours.

It seems to me so self-evident and clear-cut that that is the just way to go about doing things which all of us in the House want to see done: an expansion of training, training for those who are out of work, training for those who are not officially unemployed but are out of the labour force, training to give them an opportunity for the future. The payment of those costs should not come from the mean, nasty and vicious attacks on the unemployed which are part of this legislation, but from those people who have the resources and the opportunities to be able to make a contribution to those increased costs.

That is not what we have in front of us. Despite the absence of any promise in the pages and pages of promises the Government made in the last election, despite the absence of anything in those pages about a squeeze on unemployment benefits, we have an attack on those who are out of work. In the past I have called it "Thatcherite" in its philosophy. That is why I was a little surprised to hear the previous Member speak so roundly in its favour. But I suppose it is necessary to work one's way back into favour by giving a sense of support to things which are surely insupportable by any of the

Unemployment Insurance Act

philosophic views which I know the previous Member actually holds.

What we have is a set of changes which in cities such as Sudbury, Yorkton, Edmonton and in areas such as King's County in Nova Scotia, the Eastern Townships of Quebec where, in the past, one was able to get up to 21 weeks of support as an unemployed person after 11 weeks of work, one will not be able to get any support whatsoever now. After 17 weeks of work in those areas one used to be able to get 37 weeks of support. Now it will only be possible to get 24 weeks in terms of benefits.

In other areas such as Montreal, the lower Fraser Valley of B.C., Victoria, Cumberland and Guysborough Counties in Nova Scotia previously after 10 weeks one could receive 34 weeks of support to try to help one to find a new job. Now one will receive nothing. In those areas previously 16 weeks of work would get one 40 weeks of support. Now it will get just 27 weeks in which to tiy to find a new job. These are in areas where it is difficult to find employment.

In an area such as Fredericton, New Brunswick, 10 weeks of work previously would get one 38 weeks of support. Now one will receive nothing. It is an area in which 15 weeks of work would entitle one to 43 weeks of support. Now one will receive just 30 weeks of support.

In fact, in 90 per cent of the 48 unemployment insurance regions the number of weeks one will have to work to qualify for UI has increased, and increased significantly. In over half the regions the entrance requirement will increase by six weeks.

Some 20 per cent of all people who receive unemployment insurance take more than 20 weeks to find new work. Most of these people will be unable to claim unemployment insurance in the particular areas in which they live under these changes.

This is a measure which will hit people, and hit people hard. Across the country there are groups speaking out against this move. They are saying that this approach is not just or right and certainly not what the Government promised. Yet in the face of this opposition the Government comes to the House today and wishes to slam through this legislation using its majority with no sense of the importance of having a full debate on the principles involved here.

Frankly, the Government should be ashamed of itself for not presenting to the people of Canada the chance to debate and consider these issues in principle over a significant period of time. This is dangerous damage to the people of Canada. It is an abuse of power. It should not take place. I hope that the people of Canada will stop it from taking place in the future.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
Permalink
PC

Douglas Fee

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Doug Fee (Red Deer):

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be able to add a few of my thoughts and words to the debate on Bill C-21. In listening to Members opposite I have not agreed with many of the conclusions which they have come up with. However, there was one exception. It was in the closing remarks of the Right Hon. Leader of the Opposition (Mr. TUmer). He said the greatest privilege available to Canadians is that of standing up in this House to represent the views of other Canadians.

Those of us who sit in this Chamber are privileged. We are privileged to sit here and participate in debates. However, that privilege takes with it a responsibility, a responsibility not only to our own constituents but to all Canadians. In our deliberations we must represent the diverse thoughts and feelings of other Canadians and hopefully arrive at a conclusion that will benefit the majority of them.

Within each of our constituencies are many strong and diverse opinions. It is our responsibility to listen to these opinions. We have to reflect on them. Finally, we have to represent them to our colleagues and enunciate them in the House. In some ways each of our constituencies reflects the nation as a whole. Just as Canada contains many different values, opinions and ideas so does each of our constituencies.

We have to represent that entire constituency. We have to make decisions on behalf of those we represent. These decisions that we arrive at will affect not only the people in Red Deer, Moncton and Vancouver but all Canadians.

Unemployment insurance is one of those issues that has generated many and varied opinions locally, regionally and nationally. The unemployment insurance issue has been well studied. It has been well reported.

The Hon. Member for Essex-Windsor (Mr. Langdon) implied that the Government is doing something sinister in keeping an impact study secret. That is not the case. In appearing before the committee the Minister informed

us that it would be released at the committee stage of the Bill. It is my understanding that that is normal parliamentary tradition and the normal time to release an impact study.

I would like to suggest that if the Hon. Member had bothered to read the letter he was waving around in front of us, he would have seen that the request for information on the study was exempted under Section 26 of the Access to Information Act. That section states that if a study is going to be released within a three-month period, then it is exempted from being released at the time of the request. I would suggest that if he read the letter he would know that there is nothing sinister about withholding it at this time.

All of us have heard representations from business and labour. Those who were here in the previous Parliament had a chance to study another report. Those of us who were working elsewhere listened to our co-workers, our neighbours and our friends. There were a great many suggestions and a great many ideas about what should be done to the unemployment insurance program. There is no one answer to this program that will address all the needs, wants and desires of Canadians.

This Bill does not address every concern. However, it is an important step toward improving the program by allowing for more skills training and other measures that will assist claimants to adapt successfully to changing labour market conditions.

In my conversations, I have been told many things about the existing program. There are those who say that what we have is no longer insurance. Others say: "Why should I pay? There is no way I can collect". There are others who look at the program, see people who abuse it and get mad. They consider those who would work, the lack of skills and training and say that it could be better. It will get better, and this Bill will help it.

We as Canadians are a caring and compassionate people. As a nation, we are willing to provide help to those with legitimate need. We also hate waste. We do not like others to take advantage of our generosity. This principle applies to many situations. It definitely applies to unemployment insurance.

Unemployment Insurance Act

I can think of no one who is not prepared to assist someone else who, through economic circumstances, loses their employment. We want to help those people get re-established and re-employed. However, most Canadians draw the line at supporting those who are uninterested in working or who use or abuse the system for their own convenience.

Unemployment insurance is not welfare. It should not be considered a wage subsidy. It should be a program to provide a temporary buffer and assistance to get back into the work force. We have a responsibility to make our unemployment insurance program as efficient and fair as possible. While maintaining the program's essential income support function, these amendments and changes reduce elements in the program that act as disincentives to work.

As the Minister of Employment and Immigration (Mrs. McDougall) said when she opened second reading debate, the small minority who simply choose not to work at various times should not be encouraged by a system paid for by all Canadians.

We also support provisions that increase penalties for those who quit their jobs without just cause or who fraudulently collect benefits. We want a system that will help those who genuinely need help, but we and the people who have to pay for the Bills that we approve do not want to support those who simply do not want to work.

These changes to the Unemployment Insurance Act form part of the Government's over-all Labour Force Development Strategy. That strategy was tabled in the House on April 11 by the Minister of Employment and Immigration. Bill C-21 should not be looked at in isolation, but looked at in conjunction with the Canadian Jobs Strategy which is designed to help individuals and groups adjust to change through a variety of options, including retraining.

The Canadian Jobs Strategy itself is a success stoiy. As most Members know, it is based on three basic principles. The first is that help should go first to those who need it most. We as a nation have limited resources in spite of some of the statements we hear. It is essential that we put our resources to the most effective use by assisting those who can best benefit and those with the greatest need.

June 21, 1989

Unemployment Insurance Act

Second, programs and services should be used that best meet the needs. Third, decision making should be done at the local level.

The closer decision makers are to the user, the more effective the program is liable to be. Made-in-Ottawa solutions do not always meet the needs in Red Deer, Yellowknife, Moncton or any other region of Canada. Since the Canadian Jobs Strategy was introduced in September, 1985, 1.3 million people have benefited from the program. Its success is not because of the wisdom of Government or the wisdom of bureaucrats, it has succeeded because of the involvement of the providers and the users, the training and educational institutions, business and labour, some of the same groups that are going to make this program successful. These are the people who know where the needs are and they are in a far better position than we to effectively plan, implement and utilize the program.

Canadian business knows that it will need a well trained workforce as we prepare for the next century. Our workers are very much aware of the importance of skills and extra training in today's workforce. They know that the workplace is changing and they want to be prepared for those changes.

My own experience backs up the result of a Decima survey that was taken last year, where fully half of the workers polled indicated a willingness to reduce wage demands in return for additional training. The Canadian worker knows about technological and job changes, and wants to be ready. They do not want to be unemployed, they want the necessary skills to continue working and contributing.

There are some businesses investing in skill development, but far too many are not investing the money and training that we think they should. We in Canada have not developed a tradition of training. All too often, businesses and government have reacted to skill shortages after they become evident when, in effect, they should have been able to anticipate, prepare for them and avoid them.

All too often Canadians have left it to Government to devise and fund programs which have not met the needs of business and labour. But these programs were used simply because government money was available. We placed our priorities where the money was rather than where the skills were needed.

We have to stop trying to impose government solutions. We must let those who know what the needs are participate in the planning process. Local input is what has made the Canadian Jobs Strategy so successful and it will make this program successful.

A major objective of the new Labour Force Development Strategy is to allow business and labour groups more participation in skills upgrading for the labour force. This summer, six task forces set up by the Minister of Employment and Immigration will be writing discussion papers on various aspects of the Labour Force Development Strategy. The Canadian Labour Market Productivity Centre is organizing five symposia for this fall at which these discussion papers will be presented. A final report will be ready this November.

There is a role for Government in skills training, but that role is to work co-operatively with those in need. It is obvious that our current efforts have not been adequate to meet the demands of the economy. The skill shortages that we see across the country will get worse unless we take action.

As we move into a highly competitive service oriented economy, a grade 12 education will no longer be adequate. By the year 2000 almost one half of the jobs created will require more than five years of education and training beyond high school. Sixty per cent of our supply of workers for the year 2000 have already graduated and are out of school. Unless there is retraining on a large scale, Canadian employers in the year 2000 will be hard pressed to find properly trained people.

Even now we have a problem. Some 36 per cent of the members of the Canadian Manufacturers Association and 43 per cent of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business report that they now face shortages of qualified labour. Statistics Canada has reported that 14 per cent of all Canadian manufacturers are facing production problems due to a shortage of skilled labour.

Other members have talked about the fact that we lack a strong tradition or culture of training among Canadian business. We spend half of what is spent in the United States in training for an employee. I believe that the average Canadian worker and businessman knows what skills they need to be competitive. The private sector must become more involved. The Government's objective is to stimulate an additional private sector training effort of $1.5 billion per year by 1994.1 am confident that

business will rise to this challenge. They will accept it and it will work.

Much has been said about where the money is coming from and whose money it is that funds the program. I submit that we should not differentiate between what comes from the worker and what comes from the Government. There is no such thing as government money. In the end, it all comes from the taxpayer. Every dollar that we spend comes out of their pocket. We owe it to them to make sure that we spend it as effectively as possible.

Taxpayers in my riding have been letting me know that they do not want to pay people not to work. They do not want to fund make-work projects, but they do want meaningful employment. They do want training that leads to useful employment, and most of them think they are more capable of determining what they need than some politician or bureaucrat. I am confident that Canadian business is prepared to meet the challenge of this Act and invest in private sector training.

The Government announced in the Budget papers that after January 1, next year, unemployment insurance will be funded solely by premiums paid by workers and employers. As a result, premiums will increase slightly, but to a level that is still below where they were two years ago. In a situation where the unemployment insurance fund goes into a deficit, the Government will still be there as a back-up.

When talking about incentives, we cannot afford to support people who only want 10 week jobs. Changes to entrance requirements and to the duration of benefits will encourage the unemployed to find work. In high employment areas where more jobs are available, unemployment insurance will be harder to get and will be available for a shorter period of time. That is as it should be.

We cannot afford not to help those who want to be trained and gain the skills they will need to find secure and long-term employment. Therefore, the Labour Force Development Strategy places a greater emphasis on providing assistance for retraining. Unemployment insurance recipients will find it more to their advantage to retrain themselves than to sit at home.

Unemployment Insurance Act

It has been said by some Members opposite that this program will force more people onto welfare. I submit that it will help people off welfare and into the workforce.

Since 1986, the federal and provincial Governments have undertaken joint initiatives to help social assistance recipients acquire the skills and work experience needed to become self-sufficient. These programs have had a success rate of better than 50 per cent. Three months after participating in the program, over half the participants are still working in the jobs they were trained for.

The Thomson Report presented to the Ontario Government by the Social Assistance Review Committee, supports this type of initiative and adds statistical proof that these types of programs do help social assistance recipients enter the mainstream labour-market. They are working and it has called for an expansion of them. This report adds proof to my feeling that Canadians do want to work. We as a group are productive people who want to work and to contribute.

The Government will be making an additional $50 million available out of the Canadian Jobs Strategy fund, not out of the unemployment insurance fund, for social assistance recipients to help them gain the skills that they need to improve their employment prospects and to find employment rather than remain on the social assistance rolls. Together with $50 million from the Canada Assistance Plan, we hope that the provinces will meet this dollar for dollar, making an additional $200 million available for this initiative.

This $50 million will come out of the Canadian Job Strategy budget, not the unemployment insurance fund. This Bill will not throw more people onto the welfare rolls. Rather, it should encourage a greater participation in the labour force, and thereby reduce unemployment.

Talking about youth, times are changing and so are employment patterns. Unskilled jobs are diminishing and the demand for highly skilled workers is going to rise dramatically in the years ahead. Young people will need to be better trained in the future. Students need to be encouraged to remain in school and gain the necessary skills to compete in the workforce of the 21st century.

June 21, 1989

Unemployment Insurance Act

Through the Labour Force Development Strategy, the Government proposes to quadruple funding to co-operative education, particularly at the secondary school level, to help reduce the dropout rate and unemployment rate of youth entering the labour market directly out of high school. The Government is also proposing a major new program for entry level training to help young people make the transition from school to work. Together, these two initiatives for co-operative education and entry level training will receive an additional $100 million.

At the opposite end of the workforce, we are also concerned with older workers. The Labour Force Development Strategy proposes to increase current services to displaced older workers by a further $100 million. In accordance with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, unemployment insurance benefits will be extended to those 65 years of age and older. Seniors will now have the choice to stay in the workforce on the same terms as anyone else.

There has been among my constituents much discussion about this provision. As a result of it, we lose the provision that allows workers to receive a three-week lump sum payout at age 65. However, in order to meet the provisions of the Charter, those over 65 must be allowed access to unemployment insurance if they so choose, and the potential cost must come from somewhere. We cannot have it both ways.

In conclusion, the Bill is a positive step toward improving the unemployment insurance program. The overall cost is going to remain the same. Greater emphasis is being placed on more active measures to help the unemployed improve their job prospects through skills training, self-employment and relocation assistance. As well, special benefits like maternity, parental and sickness benefits are being expanded.

Canadians are productive people. They do not want subsidies for doing nothing. They do not want make-work projects. They want the opportunity to work and the skills needed to work effectively and contribute.

All of us want to help the unemployed. Contrary to the perception enunciated by those opposite, we are sympathetic, we are concerned, but the unemployed want jobs, not welfare, and the provisions of this Act will help them accomplish just that.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
Permalink
LIB

Joseph Blair (Joe) McGuire

Liberal

Mr. Joe McGuire (Egmont):

Mr. Speaker, the introduction of Bill C-21 openly demonstrates the fact that Election '88 was the largest and most obvious act of political deception ever inflicted on Canadians. The regressive Conservative Party, its Leader and its Ministers told us repeatedly that Canada's unemployment insurance, regional development, farm and social programs were safe with them and were not incompatible with the Free Trade Agreement.

With the pre-Budget and Budget decisions, it is very obvious that Canadians were not being told the truth during the election campaign because unemployment insurance, regional development, farm, defence and social programs have borne the brunt of the Budget cuts. Government Members who bragged during the election campaign about what great financial managers they are, have shown themselves to be the greatest embezzlers in Canadian history.

Riding the wave of international prosperity, reaping unexpected revenue because of the booming economy, the Government squandered, wasted and dissipated those revenues to the point where even after the largest budget cuts and the largest tax increases in memory, they find themselves with a projected deficit of $30.5 billion. Instead of continued prosperity as promised under free trade, Canadians find themselves being hammered as never before with new taxes and new program cuts.

In the Atlantic provinces the feeling is that war has been declared upon them by their own Government and that the Canadian version of the scorched earth policy is being implemented. This is how Atlantic Canadians feel. Believe me, the case is not being overstated.

A few days ago the House voted on the Government's borrowing Bill. It gave itself permission to borrow almost $25 billion. Where is that $25 billion going to be spent? The Government has not told us, but I know where very much of the $25 billion is not going to be spent and that is in Atlantic Canada. Hundreds of millions of dollars are not going to be spent on our transportation system. VIA, as we know it in the Maritimes, will be decreased to the point where even the VIA bus from RE.I. to Moncton will be cut. We in Prince Edward Island have not had passenger rail service for 20 years, but we thought we would at least be able to keep the bus connection to Moncton where we could transfer to the railway. Approximately 600 jobs will be lost and Islanders will be

June 21, 1989

left with no means of public transportation to the mainland.

This Government is not going to spend much of the $25 billion on agriculture. Since it was elected in November, the most truthful statement that the Government has made was contained in the Speech from the Throne where it was stated that farmers are costing the Treasury too much money. Henceforth, the Government began to slash agriculture programs with a ruthlessness never witnessed before in this country. The indications are that it will continue to do so.

The Government immediately broke the long-term dairy policy. It agreed with the United States and asked GATT to cap for 21 months any increases in input costs to dairy farmers in Canada. At the same time, GATT gave substantial increases to Great Britain and other GATT partners. Canada seems to be the only country that abides by the GATT rulings. Canada is the good boy in the GATT gang.

The Government then eliminated the interest subsidy under the Prairie Grain Advanced Payments for Crops Act. There will be minus $27 million in that program. Seven million dollars will not be spent in the skim milk subsidy. Six million dollars will not be spent on the commodity board loans program. Seven million dollars will not be spent on the dairy special export program. Nine million dollars less will be spent on new programs from the Farm Credit Corporation, and the Government will renegotiate the Crop Insurance Program with the provinces to save $200 million over the next two years. All these subsidies just happen to be included in Annex 785.4 of the Free Trade Agreement.

This Government is not going to spend much of the $25 billion on Established Programs Funding. It is going to cut $200 million out of that program in 1990 and 1991 alone. However, the biggest and crudest cut of all is the cutting of $2.7 billion out of the budget for the Department of National Defence. The Government White Paper on Defence turned out to be a sham. Instead of rebuilding and refurbishing our defence capabilities, the Government has turned our military into the joke of the free world.

The cruelest cut of all came with closing of CFB Summarised and to a lesser extent, CFB Portage la Prairie. In the process, 3,000 jobs will be lost in Summer-side which will raise the unemployment rate there to 36 per cent. This will leave the gulf region with no aerial

Unemployment Insurance Act

reconnaissance, no airborne environmental and drug surveillance and a delay in the response of search and rescue operations. In addition, the Government has so mismanaged the fishery in Atlantic Canada that fish plant after fish plant has closed while foreign overfishing continues and even, it seems, is being encouraged to continue.

To top everything the Government, after hacking its way through every economic sector including tourism, and creating even higher levels of unemployment throughout Atlantic Canada, is now going to make it more difficult to qualify for unemployment insurance. This is an example of the new government mathematics. It states that less plus less equals more. The Government is going to cut $2.9 billion out of the unemployment commission moneys.

I would like to take a few minutes now to show how the new unemployment insurance changes will affect Prince Edward Island. First, the new changes will have a negative impact calculated by the Government to be 10.3 per cent. This can be compared to our sister Atlantic provinces where the negative impact will be only 4.6 per cent and to Canada as a whole where the negative impact will be 5.2 per cent. These are the Government's own figures. As you see, Mr. Speaker, Prince Edward Island will suffer twice the negative impact of the country as a whole and twice the negative impact of the other Atlantic provinces, and the Government calls this fair and equitable treatment.

I have three questions I want to address concerning unemployment insurance. They are, one, what role does UI play in the provincial economy of Prince Edward Island; two, what impact will the proposed UI changes have on Prince Edward Island; and three, what is position of P.E.I. on the proposed changes?

Today unemployment insurance is one of the most important programs in Atlantic Canada, and it is especially so in Prince Edward Island. In fact, in 1988, Prince Edward Islanders received more than $138 million in benefits, or $1,076 for every man, woman and child in the Province compared to $422 for Canada as a whole. Further, the UI program provides more money to the provincial economy than some of the industries in the province. For example, last year an average of 11,000 persons received UI benefits in P.E.I. out of an average labour force of 62,000, which is 18 per cent. In other words, approximately one out of five Islanders in the

Unemployment Insurance Act

labour force relied on UI benefits at some time during the year. This is due primarily to our seasonal economy.

Clearly the direct impact of this program is very far-reaching. There are also significant indirect impacts. Islanders spent their UI benefits as consumers which, in turn, creates spin-off employment and thus impacts, not only on those who receive benefits, but also on the retail trade and on the service sectors. That is why UI plays such a vital role in a seasonal resource-based economy such as P.E.I.

Allow me at this time, Mr. Speaker, to describe the economy of P.E.I. to you. There are 128,000 people living on Prince Edward Island, and natural resources are the backbone of our economy. We are blessed with good, arable land, so agriculture is one of our major industries. We are an island so we have access to fish stocks such as lobster, cod, scallops, herring, oysters and so on. The beauty of our island is another natural resource, one that attracts more than 700,000 visitors each year. These are our basic industries; land, fish, and natural beauty. The industries which utilize these resources are, by their very nature, seasonal. There are, of course, other industries in P.E.I., but a significant percentage of our labour force is dependent on these seasonal industries.

The UI program supports the needs of those employed in seasonal jobs while at the same time supporting the needs of private sector employers in the rural areas of our country.

Why is UI so important? It is because you cannot fish lobster or process fish during the winter. We have a slight problem with ice around Prince Edward Island during the winter. It is because potatoes cannot be grown during the winter and it is because our tourist resort areas become like ghost towns during the winter. That is why we require UI, in order to supplement the incomes of those Islanders who cannot find work as well as those who cannot find full-time work.

The proposal to increase the number of weeks worked to qualify for UI benefits is based on the erroneous assumption that there are more weeks of employment available and that people just do not want to work them.

P.E.I. has a very short tourist season. July and August are the high season tourist months with a shorter season in June and September. What are Islanders supposed to do to get the number of required weeks if their employer only operates 10 weeks a year? Does the federal Government expect those employers to stay open longer when there are no tourists and there is no income? We cannot ask our tourists to ignore the fact that they cannot swim in May or October. We cannot ask our potato farmers to harvest their crop in December. Our economy is a seasonal one.

The role UI plays in our provincial economy is one of tremendous importance. The proposed changes will significantly impact on Islanders who can least afford it. The question is, what is the real impact of the proposed UI changes? The impact can be described in one word, "devastating". We know that our province will be the one most affected by the proposed changes.

We have, with the data available, calculated some of the repercussions for P.E.I. Given the increase in the number of work weeks required to draw UI benefits, P.E.I. could lose as much as $18 million. A reduction in the length of benefits could mean a loss of another $6 million. The impact on provincial government programs such as welfare assistance has not been included in these estimates but they will add to the increase. In total, based on a conservative estimate, and I do not use that word in a pejorative sense here, P.E.I. could lose as much as $27 million in UI benefits alone which would result in very significant spin-off losses as well.

One of the arguments made in defence of the changes is that P.E.I. will lose benefits but gain additional dollars through the Labour Force Development Strategy. In order for this argument to apply, the federal Government would have to do two things; first, it would have to institute an extensive and comprehensive job creation program. There is no point in training people for jobs which do not exist unless they want to force people to move to central Canada. Second, it would have to negotiate extensively with provinces to ensure that the programs are responsive to the uniqueness of each region in this country.

The diversity of this country must be recognized in the Labour Force Development Strategy. The new strategy should not be solely driven by private sector training. The whole thrust of the Canadian Jobs Strategy is to involve the private sector in providing training. P.E.I. has a very small private sector, one which can only do so much training. How many times can you ask the same employer to train the unemployed for jobs that do not exist? It is not feasible to expect the limited private sector in our province to provide more meaningful and effective training for the unemployed, especially if they have to absorb a significant portion of the cost.

The federal proposal to change UI will substantially reduce benefits to Islanders but the program proposed to replace them will not substantially benefit Islanders unless the programs are sensitive to the provincial economy. The training programs must be geared towards a growth that will provide long-term jobs with a large number of private sector employers. Unfortunately that does not describe the current economy of P.E.I.

The final question to be addressed is the position of P.E.I. on the proposed UI changes. P.E.I. has a unique economy. The current UI program recognizes and complements that uniqueness. This country is made up of diverse regions. Indeed the success of the country is based on recognizing the strengths and weaknesses of each region. We rely on UI in our region. We sincerely wish that we did not have to do that. All provinces, especially P.E.I., would like to have a booming economy that creates full-time jobs. However, the reality is that we do not. Programs must recognize and deal with the reality of each province. Each province is unique in its own right. In fact, Canada is diversity. Therefore, all programs must be both receptive and responsive to the needs of all Canadians. The current UI program has been successful in respecting that criteria.

This is not to suggest that there are not some positive proposals in the Labour Force Development Strategy. The Maternal Parental Sickness Benefits Program will in fact benefit Canadians. The proposed arrangements will provide more generous income protection for those Canadians involved. Furthermore, providing benefits to those over the age of 65 corrects an inequity which existed within the UI system.

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Permitting workers on sickness or maternity benefits during a labour dispute to receive benefits also eliminates an unfair situation for those workers. While there is some merit in some of the proposed UI changes, however, I must say clearly and unequivocably, P.E.I. does not support increasing the number of weeks required to draw benefits and decreasing the number of weeks those benefits can be collected.

There is another aspect of the Government's proposed UI program with which I strongly disagree, and that is the Government's decision to withdraw from the funding of the program. It would seem that the federal Government has a responsibility to Canadians from Vancouver to St. John's, Newfoundland. We cannot shirk that responsibility by suggesting that employers and employees should absorb the total cost of a program designed and administered by the federal Government.

I would also like to address another critical issue in our province, and that is the announcement in the federal Budget of the closure of the Canadian Forces Base at Summerside. Closure of this base would have a tremendous effect on Prince Edward Island and on the Summerside economy.

There are more than 1,300 direct jobs at stake, as well as 2,000 indirect jobs. This represents 4.4 per cent of employment in the province. Our unemployment rate could increase to 60 per cent or higher. This would be a most devastating blow to our province. If Ontario or Quebec were to lose the same percentage of jobs, it would represent over 200,000 jobs in those two provinces.

There would not be enough ink in the newspapers in Upper and Lower Canada to tell the people of the country how devastating this would be, and how they would force the Government to change its mind if any government was going to take 200,000 jobs out of the economy of Toronto or Montreal.

How would a federal Member from Ontario feel if that number of jobs were lost? How would their Premier feel?

People in Prince Edward Island are for just and equitable treatment. I urge this Government to reconsider its decision. Our economy cannot absorb such a tremendous increase in the number of unemployed. The

June 21, 1989

Unemployment Insurance Act

closure of CFB Summerside will further increase regional disparity. We will become more and more the poor cousins of Canada.

My request is simple and clear. Change the decision. Do not increase the number of weeks required to draw unemployment insurance. Do not reduce the number of weeks of benefits which can be drawn.

P.E.I. cannot accept closure of Canadian Forces Base in Summerside. Our economy in Prince County depends on the base for its survival. It contributes more to the economy of Prince County than the fishery. Our feelings run so deep on this issue that doubt is now being cast by our Premier on his support for the Meech Lake Accord.

In conclusion, Canada is a great country. We are admired throughout the world for our ability to respect diversity. We respect the uniqueness of our provinces. This principle forms a foundation of our country. Programs such as UI and defence spending respect that principle. Changing the number of weeks required to draw, and reducing the duration of benefits, as well as the closing of CFB Summerside violates that principle. We must not let that happen. The Government is sowing the wind, and they will reap the whirlwind.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
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PC

Benno Friesen (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of State (Agriculture); Parliamentary Secretary to the Solicitor General of Canada)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Benno Friesen (Parliamentary Secretary to Solicitor General of Canada and Minister of State (Agriculture)):

Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to the Member for Egmont (Mr. McGuire) as he spoke on unemployment insurance and the care that he has for his constituency in Prince Edward Island.

I commend him for doing his best to represent the needs of his constituents. I would urge him, however, to think again before making a speech like he did now. When he uses terms like scorched earth policy, it is the kind of language which works once, maybe twice, but after that not only does the language lose its effectiveness, but the Member who uses it loses effectiveness.

People watch to see what happens afterward. They look for a scorched earth policy and they find that after all it is not a scorched earth policy. Then they do a little bit of a double-take. They say: "Look, we heard this man say it".

I commend him for thinking of the variable needs of Canada, the regions. He said, and I think I quote him accurately, "the policy ought to reflect the regions of

Canada". This is exactly what unemployment insurance does. It reflects the needs of the regions of Canada. There are variable unemployment rates across Canada. The Bill recognizes those various needs across Canada. The Member for Davenport (Mr. Caccia) was a Member of the Government when that whole concept was brought in. I am sure he voted for it, as a good Member of the Government at the time.

The whole idea of variable entry programs was brought in 10 or 12 years ago, based upon the varying needs of the regions of Canada and the employment needs of those regions. I would encourage the Member for Egmont to keep that in mind as he speaks.

I would point out to him at the same time that if he wants to do that, he should also listen to the party line as espoused by his party leaders on the subject, because his finance critic just three months ago tomorrow, to be exact-

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
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?

An Hon. Member:

What time?

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
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PC

Benno Friesen (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of State (Agriculture); Parliamentary Secretary to the Solicitor General of Canada)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Friesen:

were largely blue collar workers. They were usually unorganized and usually had no union leadership.

In the ensuing years, labour has become organized, thankfully. Not only do the labour unions work largely for the blue collar workers, but they also have trained economists on their staff, economists with M.BAs and so forth. The conditions have changed.

We have tripartite agreements and arrangements. Conditions have changed, maybe not the way we want them yet, but the circumstances are different. The unemployment insurance Bill is designed to be flexible enough to meet the changing conditions in Canada.

I ask Members to read a book like "Mega Trends", which was published a few years ago, and is simply a composite of magazine and newspaper articles. They are statements from opinion makers from around the world outlining what the mega trends are for the world, and therefore, for each of the economies in the world.

By and large, the message of that book is that the labour force, particularly in the western world but certainly in the other countries too, is changing. Conditions are changing. We have moved from an industrial society in the western world to an information society. There are entirely different kinds of working conditions. There are entirely different kinds of labour contracts.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
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?

An Hon. Member:

Unemployment is still the same.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
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PC

Benno Friesen (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of State (Agriculture); Parliamentary Secretary to the Solicitor General of Canada)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Friesen:

Unemployment hurts just as much as it ever did before. It sure does. That is why we need the protection that unemployment insurance gives. Unemployment insurance is not the insurance people need the most. They need the opportunity to get a job. If the workforce does not change along with society it will not matter how much insurance a person has. If workers do not change to the needs of the workplace they will still be unemployed. We need changes in the Unemployment Insurance Act to enable workers to change to the circumstances that exist in our society.

I know that my conservative friends in the NDP want nothing to change because they are the most conservative people in this House. They want nothing to change. If something is entrenched, keep it that way, because we

Unemployment Insurance Act

might lose something. There is no risk involved in that Party. The NDP do not want risk at all.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
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LIB

Charles L. Caccia

Liberal

Mr. Caccia:

What are you for?

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
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PC

Benno Friesen (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of State (Agriculture); Parliamentary Secretary to the Solicitor General of Canada)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Friesen:

I support the ability to change. Does the Hon. Member for Davenport (Mr. Caccia) do that? The people on the other side want to keep things as they are. If it were up to these folks it would still be the same Bill we had in 1940 because as far as they are concerned things never change. The only thing that changes over there is their leadership. If Members opposite wonder why they were rejected last November, they should listen to what their Leader said when the Minister of Finance (Mr. Wilson) introduced his first economic plan for Canada. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Turner) said "This thing will lose us 50,000 to 100,000 jobs". People in Canada remembered that. They said, "Hey, we remember there was going to be gross unemployment because of the financial picture that the Finance Minister was planning for Canada". Instead the reverse happened and rather than lose 50,000 jobs we gained over one million in four years. Not bad. For this group to paint the Government as the enemy of the workers when we have created 1.4 million jobs for the people, they are not the ones to talk.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
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June 21, 1989