Hon. André Harvey (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources, Lib.)
Mr. Speaker, fortunately, exaggeration does not make one sick, because my colleague would have trouble staying healthy.
We never hear a word about all the progressive measures that have been taken within the employment insurance program and with all the government revenues. Let us think, among other things, about the whole issue of manpower training, which has allowed Quebec, for the past six, seven or eight years, to receive $600 million a year.
I would like to ask my colleague whether it is important to deal with these issues, for example, the reduction in premiums for the 14 million contributors. Is it important for employees and employers to contribute to a program where rates have been reduced by almost a third in the last few years? I would like to know, because this goes into the general fund.
I would like to ask my colleague this simple question. Is she aware that, for the past 20 years, Quebec has contributed approximately $73 billion to the unemployment insurance fund, now the employment insurance fund, and that we have provided a total of approximately $86 billion in benefits? Where would the money have been found to pay off the debt had there been a surplus in Quebec in the EI fund? Can my colleague confirm that, in the last 10 or 12 years, the contribution level has been about the same as the collection level?
In short, this is a Bloc strategy. When there is an issue, they take it and exaggerate it to the limit.
We made improvements to the EI program and we will continue to do so during the next weeks and the next months. Next year, after five years, there will be a complete review of the program.
Unfortunately, Bloc interventions always tend to worsen an issue rather than seek constructive solutions.
I would like to ask my colleague a question. If, over the past 20 years, Quebec has had a surplus of $13 billion with respect to all of its premiums, why does she say that the premiums paid by Quebeckers have been used to repay the total debt or pay down the deficit? If she wants to talk about imbalances in taxation one day, we will talk about this question, but using the actual numbers.
I encourage them to listen less to the Canadian Labour Congress. In their employment insurance calculations, I think even the furniture was included.
Topic: Government Orders