Creating and Keeping Canadian Jobs

House of Commons

Ms. Libby Davies (Vancouver East, NDP):
Mr. Speaker, since the election the Conservative government has presided over the loss of 300,000 jobs. There were 129,000 Canadians thrown out of work in January, in February 110,000 full-time jobs disappeared and the unemployment rate is closing in on 8%. What is the finance minister saying? He says he is not surprised. He even expects the losses to continue for the whole year, admitting that Conservative policies are not working.

When will the government change course and actually create the jobs that Canadians need?

Hon. Vic Toews (President of the Treasury Board, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, we understand that this economic downturn is part of a larger global downturn. We sympathize with every Canadian affected, but I want to say that the member demonstrated that she does not care about some of the poorest in the country, which she represents in her riding. She voted against the budget that would have helped the very poor in this country. Why would she do that? Why would she turn her back on the poor of our country?

Ms. Libby Davies (Vancouver East, NDP):
Mr. Speaker, that budget failed Canadian workers and the lowest-income people in Canada. In fact, one factor increasing job losses is foreign takeovers, even though agreements are in place to protect Canadian jobs. The government is not enforcing them, and jobs are being lost. It happened at Vale Inco, Xstrata and U.S. Steel.

Instead of making it easier for foreign companies to pillage our industries by raising the value for reviews to $1 billion, why will the government not follow the example of Germany, which just passed a law tightening the rules for foreign takeovers? That would actually protect these jobs here in Canada.

Hon. Tony Clement (Minister of Industry, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, I can report to the House–and if the hon. member had read the budget implementation act, she would know–that for the first time in our history we have a national security test to ensure that we preserve our national security against foreign investors who seek to undermine that. I think that is an improvement.

We also, however, are open to foreign investment. Unlike the NDP, we think that when foreign companies invest in jobs and opportunities in Canada, that is a good thing. It is good not only for us here in Canada, but it also helps Canadian businesses invest overseas and create jobs elsewhere around the world, as well as new business opportunities for Canadians.

Obviously the NDP does not agree with that. It does not believe in that. It wants to have us shelled in. That is the NDP’s choice, but it is not the choice of Canadians.

Ms. Libby Davies (Vancouver East, NDP):
Mr. Speaker, it is not working very well for those workers who are losing their jobs.

This Tuesday the House voted to bring fairness to the EI system. The House voted to eliminate the two-week waiting period, to lower minimums to qualify, to include self-employed workers, to increase the wage replacement rate and to get more training for workers, but the government cannot even process EI claims properly. It takes three or four or five weeks to get any help.

If the government will not respect the will of the House to improve EI, will it at least get its act together to ensure those who can access EI are not delayed?

Mr. Ed Komarnicki (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development and to the Minister of Labour, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, we certainly sympathize with people who need to access EI because they have just lost their jobs, and we will do everything possible to ensure that their claims are expedited quickly. We have dedicated resources for that. We hired more people and asked for the hours to be extended for processing claims. We have done that. We have brought in people who had retired and we have included those who want to work overtime on a voluntary basis.

We will do what we have to in order to ensure people have their claims expedited.