Mr. Bill Gilmour (Nanaimo—Alberni, Canadian Alliance)
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise and respond to the member opposite.
First I would like to back up and describe what apprenticeship really means. Actually there is some interesting history.
The apprenticeship system for training trades workers is historic. For centuries skilled trades people had an obligation to teach their craft to the young. After an apprentice had satisfactorily completed the full term of training and had demonstrated his ability, he became a journeyman. A journeyman means he could travel around from one job to another; hence the journeyman trade. This is what we are talking about here.
My background is somewhat interesting. I went to Vancouver technical school. I am disappointed that they have moved away from this but in those days, most of the school was trades. Heavy duty mechanics, auto mechanics, printing, sheet metal, carpentry were all started in grade eight. In grade eight students made a decision. They could go through a university course which was fine, but many of the students did not want to do that and they went into the trades. When they came out of grade 12, they were well on their way to being journeymen. They substantially shortened the timeframe and the young men and women were well trained and well on their way.
I am really disappointed that our education system has gone away from that. I think we are missing a fair bit of the boat by trying to push everyone into the same mould and send everyone off to university when in fact we need plumbers, we need people to build our houses, we need skilled operators of various equipment.
In my background in forestry, I spent 25 years in the woods with large logging equipment. A grapple yarder can cost over $1 million alone. An off-highway truck carries 100 tonnes of logs. One can understand the size of this equipment. We had an excellent apprentice training system in our heavy duty shop.
I am not unfamiliar with the apprenticeship programs, but that is straying from the bill a bit. We are not talking about apprenticeships because we all recognize that a good apprenticeship program is valuable. What we are talking about is certification and who is going to run the boat.
I understand why the member was having some difficulty introducing the bill. Clearly it is provincial jurisdiction. That is where we are having some difficulty with it. It is an overlap that is already covered by the provinces. It is not only trades, it is doctors and dentists. I am a professional forester. It is foresters. Provinces cover education. Provinces cover certification. Why would we need a national standards program when we already have in place provincial laws that deal with apprenticeships?
I agree that there needs to be more interaction between industry and the provinces. The red seal where people can travel from one province to another needs to be improved. I recognize that. However I and my party do not think the answer is a national standards program for apprentices.
On that basis we reject the provisions in the bill because it is clearly duplication. In effect it is almost another way of the big federal government wanting to edge in on the provinces' authorities. That is the reason we have some difficulty with the bill. It is not apprenticeship at all. That is not the issue. The issue is certification and who is going to run it. Therefore we will not be supporting the bill.
Subtopic: Apprenticeship National Standards Act