Mr. Richard Janelle (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Regional Economic Expansion):
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to take part in this important debate on an opposition motion. Tonight I should like to dwell on one aspect of the motion: the creation of temporary jobs. The creation of temporary jobs that the government continues to finance in the eastern part of the country, under the Canada Works program, is an effort with a tremendous impact. We could certainly talk about individual achievements that allowed communities to get many recreational facilities, services and all kinds of buildings Canadians will keep enjoying. Over this past year the Canada Works program provided jobs to about 33,935 unemployed, mostly in Quebec and in the maritime provinces. It makes it possible for an impressive number of workers, out of work for some reason, to stay on the labour market, to keep their knowledge or expertise, or to acquire new ones.
In view of the present rate of unemployment, which is especially high in Quebec and in the maritimes, job-creation
programs such as the Canada Works program serve a particular purpose, that of giving workers who are temporarily out of work or in between jobs the opportunity of using their expertise for the benefit of the community on projects subsidized by the federal government. It is important to note, however, that this job-creation program, whose role remains very important in Quebec and in the Atlantic provinces, cannot be considered an effective tool against structural unemployment. A program such as the Canada Works program can only lower cyclical or ' seasonal unemployment. This program is for workers who are temporarily out of work or for those who want to get some experience in a particular field over a few months, which can help them land a permanent job afterwards.
A program such as the Canada Works program also helps community groups undertake certain projects which, without government assistance, would never get started. In a number of communities throughout Quebec, for instance, Canada Works projects have helped improve the welfare of some members of the community or the community as a whole. For instance, in my riding of Lotbiniere, this year, the Canada Works program provided work to about 80 persons who will now be able to help their community. Of course, last year the subsidy was much higher in my riding but at that time the rate of unemployment was also much higher than it is now.
Permanent jobs were created which gave people a chance to find employment; this will eventually be much more profitable than the temporary jobs created by Canada Works programs. That is the type of program the government is putting forward. In addition, the diversity of those projects calls for a wide array of skills. Sometimes those temporary jobs may also lead to permanent employment.
As we all surely know, the Canada Works program subsidizes projects in areas where the unemployment rate is particularly high, where the need for help is the greatest. That is why there are no projects this year in some cities such as Calgary or Edmonton, while there are in Rimouski, Gaspe and Bathurst. Mr. Speaker, it is this ability to relieve unemployment in those areas which have special need for assistance that makes the Canada Works program worth while.
The projects we subsidize in Rimouski, in the province of Quebec, meet the specific needs of that city in terms of employment. We do not subsidize projects that use workers in areas where there are job opportunities. So, by granting Rimouski, for instance, $73,000 for a cultural centre, we are sure that the project will hire local workers who will be employed until such time as a permanent job becomes available. We keep encouraging workers to look for a permanent job while working on a Canada Works project.
Faced with a particularly high rate of unemployment among the young workers of Canada, and especially those of Quebec and the maritime provinces, the Canada Works program very often reaches a double objective, preventing their going through a long period of unemployment and sometimes provid-
December 6, 1979
ing them with their first important jobs. So for the young people who are looking for their first jobs, the waiting period before finding permanent jobs is tempered, and they keep their hopes and motivations.
Mr. Speaker, I prefer by far seeing our young graduates from the various community colleges work on the construction of a system of cross country ski trails while waiting for permanent jobs than wasting their time standing on street corners.
Topic: GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic: BUSINESS OF SUPPLY