Mr. Jean-Guy Hudon (Parliamentary Secretary to President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister Responsible for Constitutional Affairs):
Mr. Speaker, the opposition claims that this government has not taken the necessary action to solve the problem of unemployment, especially among young Canadians, and that it has not put forward the education, training and retraining programs required by the present situation.
The opposition also demands that we develop national programs to correct the situation. Let me go back a little to the speech given by my opposition colleague who tabled the motion. I find it a very interesting speech, especially the part where he brings out the difference between apprenticeship programs in Canada and in Germany.
I agree with my hon. colleague that a great many young people in the streets of Toronto who are victims of the present economic situation are asking, as people always ask here in Canada: "What is the government doing for me?" We can find people like that in the streets of Toronto, Montreal or Quebec City or in Valleyfield or Beauharnois in my riding.
We see a fundamental difference in apprenticeship programs between America and Europe. In Europe, apprenticeship is part of a long tradition, but here we have a lot of trouble establishing such programs and I know something about it. I am from the education sector and before that I was director general of a school board where we wanted to set up such a system. The greatest difficulty was not necessarily with young people but mainly with business. Business seemed quite prepared to tell us: "Train them for us and we will hire them afterwards". But when businesses took the young people they said: "They are not trained to our liking". We were always trying to set up apprenticeship programs, but they do not fit in with the mentality of business, first of all, and of education and government in North America.
I think that this difference of mentality between Europe and America is very obvious when it comes to apprenticeship. I praise the desire of my hon. colleague and of the Liberal Party to set up such a system, but I know that the biggest problem he will meet and that we will also meet on this side of the House, because this idea is progressing on our side too, will be the negative reaction to it from business.
They want trained young people, but when they get them they are not trained well enough to their liking. I think that we have a great deal of work to do. I admire the courage of proposing such a measure and think that it is appropriate. The other point that must be made- because there is always the issue of overlapping federal-provincial jurisdiction and we will always run up against it-is that we will have difficulty co-ordinating it and making young people aware of the program.
Look at what is happening now with high schools. When I left teaching in 1972 almost no one dropped out of school. Why are there more dropouts today? It is not the federal and provincial governments' fault if so many people drop out of school these days. The education system is at fault for not appealing to young people's interests. The school system is not interesting for young people because it is no longer dynamic. One way to make it more dynamic will be to provide apprenticeship training. The federal government could set up the best possible apprenticeship policy but if it is not co-ordinated with the provincial governments and the local authorities, namely the school boards, and developed
further with them then let me say that I am sceptical. I have great confidence in the apprenticeship system but little confidence in that procedure.
There is no doubt that no other government has done more for the recovery of Canadian workers and the labour market. In that regard, people unfortunately still try to make comparisons in terms of figures. How much is being invested in labour force development in such an area or such a riding? I find that unfortunate because even if we have statistics, as we see just for my riding of Beauhamois-Salaberry, showing convincing increases, the results do not match the amounts that we have always invested in it.
In 1988-89, in the riding of Beauhamois-Salaberry, for the various programs, job development, Challenge '88, as it then was, job entry, labour shortage, sections 24, 25 and 26, $7,396,541 was spent for all programs. That is a lot of money. The following year, $7,739,000 was spent, or about $250,000 more. In 1990-91 it was $9,457,000 and in 1991-92 it was $10,891,000. Do not try to tell us that the argument about money stands up. Funding increased from $7,396,000 to $10,891,000.
The problem is that education and labour force training are not only a question of money. We can stubbornly hold to our positions on both sides of the House. We can say we did more and our colleagues opposite will say that we did less. Those figures are from Statistics Canada and are clear. How come I have more problems in Beauhar-nois-Salaberry today than in 1984? I will explain why. We could have doubled and tripled the amounts spent, but there would still be problems. One of the main problems was the shutdown of Dominion Textile in Valleyfield. The employees have a recovery plan to reopen it. Spending money on education will not reopen it. Why did Dominion Textile in Valleyfield close?
At one point, I received workers from Dominion Textile who, like the young people in the streets of Toronto, said that it was up to the government. If Dominion Textile in Valleyfield closes, it is the government's fault. I said: "When you but a shirt in the store, do you look behind the collar? Would you undress for me and look at the collar of your shirt to see where it was made?" He replied: "It was not made in Canada. It would cost too much". Let me say something. When we do not buy Canadian because it costs too much, we are taking a job away from ourselves, our wives, mothers-in-
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law, fathers-in-law or sons. That is the problem with Dominion Textile.
Mr. Speaker, you should have seen the discussion I had last year with representatives from Goodyear in Valleyfield. I told one of them: "Listen, you come and demonstrate in front of my office as a Goodyear employee, but you do not even have Goodyear tires on your car". He said: "Four Goodyear tires are not going to make a difference in the attitude and economics of the company". To which I replied: "I agree, but the image you project is awfully important. That is my car parked over there; I have four Goodyear tires on it. I traded my car in recently, but it is still equipped with Goodyear tires. Why? Because I have the honour of having a Goodyear plant in my riding. So, as the representative of that riding, I must have that brand of tires on my car. I would think that if you work for Goodyear, you would at least use your own product and insist that your family at least use that product".
Essentially, the financing of employment programs may have gone up from $7,396,000 to $10,891,000 in my riding, but I also have to develop this attitude that I have to take my own responsibilities. It is up to consumers to take their responsibilities instead of blaming the government all the time. Employment programs do not show that government resources are increasingly limited. What happens in the end? Things are getting worse and worse.
A finance ministers' conference has been going on in Ottawa since yesterday. They want to agree on deficit reduction. When the deficit is reduced, let us face it, I too as a member of the House of Commons will be affected in terms of my salary and benefits. Every one in this country will be affected because that deficit has to be paid. We are going to have to face that situation realistically.
Results from manpower training are never in proportion to the money invested, but rather to the attitude we will instill in this country that all Canadians must take their responsibilities and say: "I am responsible for my share of the pride in this country and for the training
which will allow this country to grow, or else it will just sink."
Here are some statistics on employment. In 1992-93, the department planned to invest $3.55 billion to help train and employ over 900,000 workers. That is a lot of money, $3.55 billion. While they say we are giving less, that is still quite a bit of money. Assistance is provided in areas such as job creation, training, intensive special counselling, work sharing, worker mobility and self-employment.
The total amount spent by Employment and Immigration Canada on training and employment assistance will be $3.8 billion. This money will help over a million Canadians. This year more than 300,000 workers will receive job training by taking courses commissioned by the department or enroling in other courses on their own as fee-payer trainees.
Fifteen million dollars will be made available to workers who have to relocate. We want to have the organizational flexibility and the flexibility of having manpower in the various regions. For the first time, we have set aside $300 million to meet the needs of laid-off workers. The figures speak for themselves and I could go on. I would like to come back to what I was saying earlier. Training is not just a matter of figures but also of mentality. An hon. member said that we invest more in helicopters than in training. This is false. Let me ask a question. Who builds these helicopters? The federal government? No. These helicopters are built by workers.
I remember that during the election campaign of 1988 the nuclear submarine program, which was later dropped, was an issue. Who builds these nuclear submarines? They are built by workers. Members in this House are upset, and rightly so, when they see that GM, Chrysler or Ford in the automobile industry are closing various plants in spite of the fact that some years ago, when I was Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence, GM in Oshawa was awarded the contract for building light trucks. Who makes these trucks? The federal government? As a matter of principle, people are scornful about military expenditures. Why? Because it makes a good election platform to be opposed to such expenditures.
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Are the frigates built by the federal government? No, they are built by workers in Nova Scotia and at Davie Shipbuilding in Lauzon, and others across the country who fulfill subcontracts dealing with guidage. One only has to look, but of course one does not look at that.
What are the spin-offs, by province, of the purchase or the construction of the helicopters being built right now under the Canadian program? Why do people not look at that? These helicopters are being built by workers. They are being made by cousins, uncles, aunts of all of us here in this House, by people in our ridings.
As a government, we cannot think that we create jobs strictly by taking money and throwing it on the floor. I must buy a product. Build me desks, microphones, lights which work and glasses. Make me suitcases and wallets. Do something for me. I must buy a product with that money.
When I buy a product, the discussion is necessarily on that product. Some say: "Well, this is not necessarily the product which I would have bought". I can see my colleague across the floor. It is true. One may disagree with the type of product which the government can buy but one thing is sure: when one buys something as a government, one becomes an economic agent and one puts Canadians to work. This is what happened with the F-18 program. I have more examples concerning Quebec. This is what happened with Canadair. It is also what happened in various other sectors and this made our purchasing program an indispensable tool and an important lever for the economy, because it put people to work.
Let us leave that vicious circle which consists in comparing strictly with money. I am not trying to defend my position because if I only had to talk about money I would say: "The evidence is there". In fact the evidence is not there, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to adjust to the realities which the economy is constantly imposing upon us now.
I believe we will have to work at changing mentalities in this country. One might tell me this is easy to say. It may be easy to say, but it is not so easy to do. I want to go back to the very interesting comments made earlier by my colleague in his speech concerning apprenticeship, and to what I said at the beginning. Why is there not an apprenticeship system here in Canada? It is not necessarily because we do not invest the required money.
Earlier, the minister of State showed that we invest more money in apprenticeship programs than before. It is because we do not, in this country, easily adhere to that idea. This concept is not part of our culture and traditions, and I think it is very unfortunate. The best training system is not school per se. It is school combined with an apprenticeship system to ensure that young Canadians' training is compatible with the realities of the workplace.
Can we honestly ask ourselves the question? We will have to work harder in the different departments, and especially with the provinces, because I know what is going to happen. As a stakeholder in the field of education and as one who comes from a province which is experiencing problems in integrating its training programs with the federal programs, which is in fact the case for all the provinces, I know that every time we will be confronted with this problem we will say: "This is my jurisdiction, stay away from this issue".
I know that my time is up, but I would like to summarize by saying that the training and job creation equation is not in direct proportion to the money invested, even though we have invested more in 1991 than in 1984-85 when we came to power. We must change programs, like we did in 1984-85, and gear them to careers but, more important, we must change this mentality of blaming the government for all those problems. It is not necessarily the government's fault. It also depends on consumers who must make logical choices to ensure that we will put Canadians to work before giving jobs to others elsewhere.
Subtopic: ALLOTTED DAY, S. O. 81-YOUTH EMPLOYMENT