February 8, 1993

NIAGARA RIVER

PC

Kenneth David Atkinson

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Ken Atkinson (St. Catharines):

Mr. Speaker, on January 15 there was a public meeting in Niagara Falls, New York, to hear reports by representatives of the environment departments of the United States, Canada, Ontario and New York State on their efforts to clean up toxic waste in the Niagara River.

We heard about the many difficulties encountered in measuring the various polluting chemicals and it seemed to me that there was a great deal of uncertainty as to whether the goal of 50 per cent reduction set in the Niagara River clean-up agreement would be attained by the target date.

We know that the largest source of these chemicals is the chemical waste sites located on the American side of the river. There are efforts under way to contain these chemicals leaching into the river and promises of a dramatic decline in a few years.

The government has to ensure that these actions are successful. This pollution affects all of us who live close to the Niagara River or live near Lake Ontario and take our drinking water from this source. This is a health issue for all of us.

It is essential that we heed the international joint commission which has called for the entire elimination of these chemicals. It is a goal that we simply must reach.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   NIAGARA RIVER
Permalink

GOODS AND SERVICES TAX

NDP

Brian L. Gardiner

New Democratic Party

Mr. Brian L. Gardiner (Prince George-Bulkley Valley):

Mr. Speaker, Canadians got the usual from the Liberal Party last week when it tried to explain what its position on the GST was or was not.

From what we can figure out the Liberals have now adopted the Reform Party position of expanding the GST to include more items, even the possibility of taxing food.

My constituents do not agree with this. In a recent survey of my riding, when asked if they would support an extension of the GST to food, 95 per cent of the respondents said no and 78 per cent said that we can eliminate the GST and bring in fair taxes.

New Democrats were the only party that presented an alternative to the GST when it was introduced and we are the only party committed to eliminating the tax, presenting alternatives and bringing in a fair tax system.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   GOODS AND SERVICES TAX
Permalink

INDIAN AFFAIRS

LIB

Jack Iyerak Anawak

Liberal

Mr. Jack Iyerak Anawak (Nunatsiaq):

[Editor's Note: Member spoke in Inuktitut\

Mr. Speaker, this government has two faces when it deals with aboriginal peoples, an international face and a domestic face.

On December 2 the Minister of Finance announced that certain aboriginal programs would be cut by 10 per cent or $80 million. On December 10 the current Secretary of State rose in the United Nations General Assembly to introduce a resolution establishing 1993 as the International Year of the World's Indigenous Peoples. The General Assembly was not told of the government's planned cutbacks nor was it told of previous years' cutbacks.

All of the Secretary of State's aboriginal programs, core funding, broadcasting, language and culture programs are under the knife but final decisions have not yet been made. The Secretary of State must defend these programs. The government must cancel the cuts. The government can still give some meaning to 1993.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   INDIAN AFFAIRS
Permalink

INFRASTRUCTURE PROGRAMS

LIB

Sergio Marchi

Liberal

Mr. Sergio Marchi (York West):

Mr. Speaker, obviously, members of the NDP are very worried about the upcoming election. Instead of trying to blame everyone else, they should look at their friends and fellow brothers and sisters at Queen's Park. They should ask them why between the NDP government at Queen's Park and the Conservative government at the national level the unemployment figures in Toronto and Ontario have been allowed to continue in misery.

February 8, 1993

In metropolitan Toronto, which traditionally has been a key economic piston of the Canadian engine, the unemployment rate has been higher than the national average. There are over $9 billion worth of local contracts being held up by the national government and the provincial Government of Ontario. Repeatedly, our leader, our caucus and our party have asked for an infrastructure program to stimulate and create jobs and confidence.

The Americans are doing it. The Japanese are doing it. The Europeans are doing it. Canadians expect that Canada should be doing it.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   INFRASTRUCTURE PROGRAMS
Permalink

ORAL QUESTION PERIOD

UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE REFORM

LIB

Joseph Jacques Jean Chrétien (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Hon. Jean Chretien (Leader of the Opposition):

Mr. Speaker, my question is directed to the Prime Minister. Yesterday, about 50,000 people marched in -25C degree weather to protest the Draconian and rather bizarre changes in the Unemployment Insurance Act proposed by the Minister of Employment and Immigration.

Does the Prime Minister intend to take the matter in hand and look for a more acceptable solution before we have a serious problem in this country, especially in Quebec?

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE REFORM
Permalink
PC

Bernard Valcourt (Minister of Employment and Immigration)

Progressive Conservative

Hon. Bernard Valcourt (Minister of Employment and Immigration):

Mr. Speaker, like many others who exaggerate the impact of Bill C-105, the Leader of the Opposition also tends to exaggerate the number of people who took part in the demonstration, but that does not matter. What does matter is that the changes proposed by the government are supported by Canadians, because Canadians agree we need an economy that creates jobs.

To create jobs, we need an economic climate with low interest rates and a low rate of inflation. To achieve this, we must control the deficit. To control the deficit, especially one that must be paid for by workers and employers, we had to take steps to control the increasing deficit in the unemployment insurance account. To do

Oral Questions

that, we decided to deny benefits paid for by workers and employers to people who, without just cause, decide to join the ranks of the unemployed.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE REFORM
Permalink
LIB

Joseph Jacques Jean Chrétien (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Hon. Jean Chretien (Leader of the Opposition):

Mr. Speaker, I will put a question to the minister, since the Prime Minister does not want to take the matter in hand.

Why is the minister going across Canada telling Canadians that people who leave their jobs voluntarily to draw unemployment insurance benefits do not pay a penalty, although there is a penalty of 7 to 12 weeks for people who quit voluntarily? Why is the Minister of Employment and Immigration trying to mislead people? The truth is that the penalties for those who quit voluntarily are already very severe.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE REFORM
Permalink
PC

Bernard Valcourt (Minister of Employment and Immigration)

Progressive Conservative

Hon. Bernard Valcourt (Minister of Employment and Immigration):

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member claims I said the opposite. It is true that currently there is a penalty of 7 to 12 weeks, which costs workers-those who are really working-taxpayers and employers $1 billion annually, because of 225,000 people who quit their jobs each year without just cause. We are saying that we want to save taxpayers money instead of spending it on benefits for a person who, without just cause, decides to become unemployed.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE REFORM
Permalink
LIB

Joseph Jacques Jean Chrétien (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Hon. Jean Chretien (Leader of the Opposition):

Mr. Speaker, we are all in agreement that those who are cheaters should be cut. The problem is that the minister wants to put everyone, including women who quit their jobs because of sexual harassment and people who quit their jobs for other valid reasons, into the same category as cheaters.

Why does the minister not try to find a better reason than the one he is trying to sell to the Canadian people today?

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE REFORM
Permalink
PC

Bernard Valcourt (Minister of Employment and Immigration)

Progressive Conservative

Hon. Bernard Valcourt (Minister of Employment and Immigration):

Mr. Speaker, I invite the hon. member to read Bill C-105. If he reads it he will find that a person in Canada subjected to sexual or any other kind of harassment on the job has a valid reason to quit and will receive protection.

Oral Questions

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE REFORM
Permalink
LIB

Alfonso Gagliano (Chief Opposition Whip; Whip of the Liberal Party)

Liberal

Mr. Alfonso Gagliano (Saint-Leonard):

Mr. Speaker, my question is directed to the minister of employment.

In the weekend papers, Quebecers found a full-page ad, taken out by the minister of employment and paid for by taxpayers concerning the proposed changes to the Unemployment Insurance Act.

How can the minister reconcile changes that are supposed to reduce the deficit with spending millions of dollars of taxpayers' money to sell those Draconian changes? If, as he just said in response to a question from my leader, Bill C-105 is supported by Canadians, why is he buying advertising space to sell it to the public?

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE REFORM
Permalink
PC

Bernard Valcourt (Minister of Employment and Immigration)

Progressive Conservative

Hon. Bernard Valcourt (Minister of Employment and Immigration):

Mr. Speaker, if the people opposed to these changes would explain what Bill C-105 really does, if they would stop using the bill to scare people and tell them the truth, we would not have to deal with the kind of allegations that were made by the FTQ of Quebec, for instance, which said that people who quit jobs because of union activities will not be protected, although that protection is right there in the act.

If they want to keep up this misinformation campaign, I am afraid we will have to tell Canadians the truth, because that is what they want.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE REFORM
Permalink
LIB

Alfonso Gagliano (Chief Opposition Whip; Whip of the Liberal Party)

Liberal

Mr. Alfonso Gagliano (Saint-Leonard):

Mr. Speaker, last night on the CBC, the minister said he wanted to get at the people who choose to be unemployed.

To shed some light on this question, is the minister prepared to table in the House information on the number of people who would leave their jobs with the prospect of not receiving any income at all-remember that-for three months? Are there really people who would willingly go without an income for three months? Is he prepared to table the data and tell us as well how many of these people would not qualify under the 40 grounds he listed in his ad on the weekend?

Is he prepared to give the House and Canadians that information?

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE REFORM
Permalink
PC

Bernard Valcourt (Minister of Employment and Immigration)

Progressive Conservative

Hon. Bernard Valcourt (Minister of Employment and Immigration):

Mr. Speaker, out of four million claimants under the Unemployment Insurance Program last year the vast majority obtained their benefits within a reasonable timeframe, about 30 days.

When there is a dispute about the reason for termination of employment, certain procedures are to be followed. The alternative is that if we are going to pay benefits to people just because they apply for them, the system will no longer be manageable.

I have already made it clear to the House that I was prepared to see how we could address these problems as expeditiously as possible when there is a conflict between what the employer says and what the employee says. My department does this every day.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE REFORM
Permalink

February 8, 1993