Libby asks the Conservative government to support struggling Canadians

House of Commons


February 1, 2013

Ms. Libby Davies (Vancouver East, NDP):

Mr. Speaker, while Conservative talking points claim otherwise, the reality is that our economy continues to struggle.

Growth is stagnating. Debt is mounting. Youth unemployment is still at record highs, and six of the biggest banks had their credit ratings cut.

Yesterday, we saw new mass layoffs of hundreds of workers from Best Buy, Future Shop and Sears.

With signs of economic trouble all around, why are the Conservatives not changing direction to deal with these new challenges?

Hon. John Baird (Minister of Foreign Affairs, CPC):  

Mr. Speaker, there is no doubt that there are many Canadians looking for work, but there are a lot less than there were just a few short months ago. We have seen 900,000 net new jobs created. That is a very good start, but it is why our party and our government are committed to doing even more to create jobs, hope and opportunity.

We saw in the November economic growth rates a substantial increase in economic growth. We remain committed and focused on even more, so that every Canadian will have the dignity of a job and the pride of being independent.

Ms. Libby Davies (Vancouver East, NDP):  

Mr. Speaker, the minister does not tell us that employment is still not back up to pre-recession levels.

As our slowing economy means more and more Canadians are being laid off and thrown out of work, Conservatives are rigging the system with quotas and bonuses so fewer and fewer people qualify for EI. They have directed staff to treat every EI applicant as if he or she were breaking the rules.

Why are the Conservatives treating unemployed Canadians like fraudsters?

Hon. John Baird (Minister of Foreign Affairs, CPC):  

Mr. Speaker, it will not come as any surprise to members that I totally reject the premise of that question.

We have made a number of reforms to employment insurance to ensure we provide people with the skills and supports they need to move into the labour force. That is something that is tremendously important. HRSDC was able to stop $530 million in ineligible payments last year. However, the employment insurance program still lost millions of dollars due to fraud. We have an important responsibility to the workers who paid the premiums to ensure that their taxpayer dollars are used with great respect and responsibility.