John Leroy SKOBERG

SKOBERG, John Leroy

Personal Data

New Democratic Party
Moose Jaw (Saskatchewan)
Birth Date
February 2, 1926
Deceased Date
August 12, 2012
locomotive engineer

Parliamentary Career

June 25, 1968 - September 1, 1972
  Moose Jaw (Saskatchewan)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 6 of 190)

May 5, 1972

Mr. lohn L. Skoberg (Moose Jaw):

Mr. Speaker, I have a matter of extreme urgency which concerns thousands of railway and other employees in Canada. I therefore move, under Standing Order 43, seconded by the hon. member for Kootenay West (Mr. Harding):

That in the opinion of this House, the government should give immediate consideration to the introduction of necessary amendments to the Railway Act or other acts so that the Canadian Transport Commission can make decisions based on public interest or on any other adequate reason, specifically to prevent the movement of coal from the east Kootenays to the Pacific coast via United States rail routes which will result in major economic loss to Canada, involving the loss of thousands of Canadian jobs.

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May 5, 1972

Mr. Skoberg:

Mr. Speaker, I had to preface my question so that you would understand what it was. May I ask the Minister of National Revenue if any action is being taken to review that decision in order to stop the movement of that coal and other resources to possible U.S. coast ports?

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May 5, 1972

Mr. John L. Skoberg (Moose Jaw):

Mr. Speaker, I did not have the pleasure of knowing the former deputy minister of the Department of Manpower and Immigration, but I am familiar with the present deputy minister. He has had quite an introduction into the area of unemployment and manpower training through his close association with the Unemployment Insurance Commission, and thus has the necessary background that will assist him in breaking new ground in this department. Having experience with the type of situation which existed respecting the number of applications made to the Unemployment Insurance Commission will stand him in good stead in the work that he and his minister will be doing in introducing this new program.

Looking at this bill to amend the Adult Occupational Training Act we realize we could spend a lot of time on the various amendments that it proposes, and could go into the background of the problems that have arisen. We have seen some of them personally, and others have been brought to our attention. But this being a Friday, it is really not the day to do that. There is also the fact that some amendments proposed in the bill are ones with which we agree, particularly the one reducing the time period from three years to one year, which was recommended years ago by our party when the original statute was introduced.

Our main area of concern does not lie with how the amendments will be applied, but rather with the question

May 5, 1972

of whether too much is being left to be done by regulation. All of us appreciate the fact that manpower and unemployment are closely interrelated. I believe the minister himself will agree that there must be a close working relationship between the Unemployment Insurance Commission and those people who apply through the UIC for manpower training. This is necessary if we are to bring about any meaningful improvement to the over-all structure.

The responsibility for co-ordinating these two departments will probably rest with the present minister, who is answerable for the Unemployment Insurance Commission. This will give him an opportunity to consolidate unemployment insurance efforts with manpower upgrading. This was probably the reason behind the switch which was made not too long ago, in which the present Minister of Manpower and Immigration (Mr. Mackasey) retained responsibility for the Unemployment Insurance Commission. I am sure all of us appreciate the fact that when people do go to Unemployment Insurance Commission offices invariably they have to apply for manpower training. Invariably, they have to apply to obtain some information regarding the adult upgrading program. If they can do all this in one fell swoop, the effect can only be beneficial for the country and will result in a better co-ordinated program.

Further, Mr. Speaker, all of us agree that being trained is not the entire answer, particularly if the government is completely insensitive to the provision of job opportunities. The previous speaker mentioned this aspect of the matter. This is really where the government must be involved. It must be involved to the extent that there will be a program development associated with the type of job opportunities that are and should be available in Canada.

When speaking on this question I can refer to the "Eighth Annual Review of the Economic Council of Canada" which states:

Manpower policy is conceived of in Canada largely as a policy affecting the supply side of the labour market. In Sweden, however, "manpower policy" is far more comprehensive in scope in that it controls many expenditure programs affecting the level and location of employment and thus operates on the demand side of the market too.

Again dealing with the type of policy that is being used and the type of board that has been developed in Sweden, the review points out:

For example, the Swedish Labour Market Board (which includes government, employer, and union members, and operates autonomously as a statutory body) plays a prominent role in industrial location policy and administers an investment fund on the basis of contracyclical government policy.

If we are sincere in our talk about adult occupational training, we should determine that we must give some authority to the Department of Manpower and Immigration with respect to making the decisions as to where industries should locate in Canada. Does it make sense to have a department spend millions and millions of dollars trying to upgrade and retrain people if, after their retraining, those people have to be sent from one end of the country to another to fill job opportunities there? I suggest the government has a responsibility to involve this department in industry location decisions, because really manpower is the basis of the success of any country.

Adult Occupational Training Act

No doubt all of us have heard complaints about people who have taken manpower upgrading courses simply to have something to do. It is difficult for any manpower officer to question the intent of an individual who applies for an upgrading course, but it is true that people who have applied for such courses have told less than the truth to the manpower officer concerned. At the same time, there are many thousands of other people without employment who could benefit from such upgrading courses. This is one area on which we must express our concern.

A few moments ago, I mentioned the situation that pertains in Sweden, and now I turn to clause 6 of the bill with which one of my colleagues will be dealing at greater length. It specifically excludes people who are represented by recognized trade organizations and trade unions. Surely, it is a two way street. If workers are going to be employed by groups of employers, then the same principle should apply. Reference to this is found on page 3, after the third section. Possibly the minister will look at this very closely to see why the organizations themselves do not become involved in the type of discussion referred to on that page.

The Economic Council of Canada review contains the statement that manpower policy is largely a policy affecting the supply side of labour, and refers to the fact that we must spend some time in determining what we hope to achieve. Training on the job is an added benefit that the minister has included in the bill. I am sure it is something that he, his department and his deputy minister have studied. They will realize that we have poured millions of dollars into it, and more people should have benefited.

At page 104, dealing with manpower policy, there is this statement in the Economic Council of Canada's eighth annual review:

In striking contrast to several other countries, less than 5 per cent of total Canadian federal adult occupational training expenditures (excluding apprenticeship) is directed to training-in-industry. In the United States, about 80 per cent of federal training expenditures go to programs involving training and "work experience" in industry. In Britain, moreover, the Industrial Training Act of 1964 provides for a redistribution of funds among firms within a number of industries for training to be undertaken by industry itself.

The heavy-in fact, almost exclusive-emphasis on institutional training in Canada is difficult to understand when experts generally agree that, for many occupations and for many individuals, training-in-industry appears to be preferable.

The charts on the following page of the report show that of the total amount spent on training in Canada, only 3.9 per cent was for training in industry, while in the United States 76.8 per cent was spent in this area. The same thing applies to other countries like Sweden which spend a considerable amount of their resources on training-inindustry rather than the type of training we have provided. The occupational upgrading that is provided is invariably in a classroom setting, and once the individual leaves there everything he touches is foreign to him to the extent that many times he is not of much use to an employer. This is an area about which all of us are concerned as, no doubt, is the minister. I am sure he will be looking at the situation and, hopefully, will be trying to divert more

May 5, 1972

Adult Occupational Training Act money to training on the job or in industry as the case may be.

For comparison purposes, Mr. Speaker, and referring to the cost of relocating people who have been trained or those who are making application for job opportunities, I would point out that in 1965-66 the national employment service placed 960,995 people in jobs at a cost of $22.95 per placement. In 1970-71, Manpower placed only 722,832 people in jobs at a cost of $232.70 per placement. This did not include the money spent on manpower training. This is exactly what I am getting at, Mr. Speaker. I am pleased that the minister has included on-the-job training in the legislation, but the contrast between what was spent in 1965-66 and what is spent now per job placement illustrates the increase in spending in an effort to cope with the problem. I heartily agree with the minister when he says that he is pleased to see this point covered in his bill, and it is one area that we in this party support since it will bring about a saving to the Canadian taxpayer.

What one is questioning really is whether the best value is being received for the tax dollar or whether we are just keeping people off the labour force survey by putting them into some kind of occupation training or upgrading course. I am sure many members realize that this has happened because some people are not interested in training to upgrade themselves but just want to have something to do at a certain time of the year.

The previous speaker mentioned the 52 week maximum period. I am sure all of us know cases where trainees have not completed their courses because the final term of the course could not be completed within the 52 week period. I was pleased to learn that the former minister, as stated in a letter to me dated January 20, 1972, was willing to vary this requirement. The last paragraph of that letter reads:

I have advised officials of the manpower division that I am prepared to authorize extensions of training for individuals who have been ill during their training period or who have been unable to achieve normal progress in their training program. These extensions would only be authorized following consultation between the Canada Manpower Centre and the training authorities.

There are some, however, Mr. Speaker, who are still unable to complete the course and there is no use denying that the amount of money spent on them has gone forever, as are the benefits they could have provided to society. In this area, I believe the minister could give more discretionary power to the local manpower officials. They are on the spot and know whether a particular applicant really wishes to pass the course or is just trying to pass the time. This aspect has bothered many people across the country, including some who have tried to complete their training within the 52 week period which is provided in the present act and which remains in the act.

I have a few comments on the amendments before us, Mr. Speaker, and no doubt we will get into some of these matters in depth when the amendments reach committee. Section 4(1) of the present act provides:

Where an adult who has not attended school on a regular basis for at least 12 months informs a manpower officer-

Section 4(1) of Bill C-195 reads:

Where an adult who, at any time since attaining the regular leaving age in the province in which he resides has not attended

school on a regular basis for any period of at least 12 months informs a manpower officer-

It seems strange indeed that the stipulation "any period" should be included with that 12 month period. That makes me wonder if we are not trying to hit something with a baseball bat that does not exist, at least as far as abuses are concerned. Perhaps we can go into this in committee.

May I congratulate the minister and the department for making changes in another area about which we were concerned. The waiting period has now been redefined and is to be one year instead of three years. We are glad, because we were concerned about the matter. The hon. member for Yorkton-Melville (Mr. Nystrom) asked the minister earlier if wives of farmers are to be included in those eligible for training, and the minister replied that this will be considered in committee. What bothers me consistently about programs such as the one we are considering is this: much depends on the regulations and, invariably, when considering certain legislation or amendments, as we are now doing, we are asked to pass that legislation without knowing exactly what the regulations are to be. Actually, we do not know very much about the regulations until we see them. Therefore, we are being asked to pass legislation, the effect of which we do not really know. The minister and the Department of Manpower and Immigration are obligated to explain fully just who will be included and who will be excluded from the provisions of this bill. That can be done in committee.

We remember what happened in connection with unemployment insurance. We raised questions concerning severance pay and holiday pay, and are still waiting for answers. We are considering a most important amendment, and do not know exactly what the regulations will provide. Because we do not know what the regulations will provide, we could be subjected to a barrage of questions and criticism for passing a bill in good faith after debate in this House. I suggest, therefore, that we will need to examine closely the amendments which will be introduced in committee.

The minister should realize, I think, that on-the-job and in-plant training could be more valuable for certain employees than vocational training made available in institutions. In this regard the employers of this country have an obligation to fulfil, just as have the employees who take part in training programs. We must also make sure that people are placed in jobs for which they have been trained, so that they may use the practical knowledge they have acquired. Everyone knows that industry in this country is becoming highly automated and that technological changes are being introduced. We must make certain that changes in training programs will be in keeping with changes in industry. New skills cannot always, in my opinion, be taught at vocational training schools. Some can be better acquired through on-the-job training. Employees right in the plant can find out what methods are used. By so doing they can continue to serve the employer with whom they have trained and, if they meet the necessary requirements, serve him better.

May 5, 1972

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May 5, 1972

Mr. John L. Skoberg (Moose Jaw):

Mr. Speaker, my question is directed to the Minister of National Revenue. In view of the statement made in the judgment handed down by Mr. Justice Hall in the case of the Kootenay and Elk Railway Company and the Burlington-Northern versus the Canadian Pacific Railway Company to the effect that: the whole scheme would appear to be a classic case of a foreign conglomerate in concert with related Canadian companies so manipulating the enterprise that the export of Canadian jobs would be the result-

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May 3, 1972

Mr. John L. Skoberg (Moose Jaw):

Mr. Speaker, I wish to direct a supplementary question to the right hon. Prime Minister. In view of remarks made previously by the President of the Treasury Board that he is in favour of regional rates of pay, would the Prime Minister say whether it is government policy to implement regional rates of pay in all of the public service?

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