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View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alain Rayes Profile
2020-04-29 15:15 [p.2248]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to split my time with the member for Kenora.
Thank you for giving me a chance today to speak about this new measure, the Canada emergency student benefit. As a political lieutenant, I would like to state that this is an important measure that will help students across the country and across Quebec. Sadly, for various reasons, these students are also being affected by this pandemic, along with workers and seniors.
The government has announced this important measure, which will provide $1,250 a month to students affected by COVID-19. This bill shows the government's desire to also support young people who will be doing volunteer work to help people who are directly or indirectly affected by COVID-19. We look forward to getting the details in order to find out how this measure will be rolled out and how the number of hours will be determined. Checks will have to be done to prevent abuse. However, the government's intentions are clear. I also commend the idea of enhancing loans and grants for more vulnerable students who have a harder time making ends meet.
However, people are very concerned about the process of reopening the economy. Some people are downplaying the important role students will play in the labour force as we reopen the economy. During a press conference, I heard the Prime Minister answer a question from Philippe-Vincent Foisy about why he did not set up incentives like Quebec did to help and motivate young people to go out and find jobs instead of handing them cash directly. Some students might decide to stay home so they can collect the benefit.
The intent is there. We all want to help students and not pigeonhole them. We want to help them and all other Canadians. Earlier, I spoke to the minister about one of the dozens of cases that have been brought to my attention and to the attention of members of all political stripes. The owner of a fruit and vegetable store said that she had called a former student to ask her to come work, as she had every year. The student told her that she was able to come back, but not full time, as she had all of the other summers. This is a busy time for merchants. The student would be penalized because she would earn more than $1,000 a month. She would have made too much money to receive the $1,250 benefit. In some cases, these measures deter students, and we still have not received specifics from the government. What will be done? What will be the measures, the criteria and the oversight to ensure that students are not deterred from working?
I would like to draw my colleagues', Canadians' and Quebeckers' attention to what the Prime Minister told a journalist who asked why there were no incentives in the Canada emergency response benefit to encourage young people, and I would add adults to that as well, to join the labour force. The Prime Minister said that, after analyzing the situation, it was determined that, unfortunately, there are not enough jobs for all young people.
I did a fairly simple calculation and I would like to tell everyone here about a measure that the government could put in place fairly quickly that could help many young people earn money to pay for their university or CEGEP tuition, their books, their rent, and their groceries, or in other words, all of the basic necessities that every student has to pay for. I called my Conservative colleagues from Quebec, the nine other members who work with me, to talk about the following.
As part of its student employment program, the government decided to give subsidies of 100% rather than subsidies of 50% as it did in the past and to allow farm, business, NPO and municipal employers to apply for funding. Contrary to what the government is suggesting, the budget has not increased. It is the same budget. That means that, if jobs are subsidized at 100% rather than at 50%, then fewer jobs will be created.
I talked to all the Conservative Party members from Quebec so I could calculate the number of applications submitted by businesses and farmers in our ridings. The federal government's current summer jobs budget will not meet demand.
Quebec's 10 Conservative members alone reported 1,442 applications for existing summer jobs. Those applications were submitted by businesses, farmers and non-profits when the government was offering a 50% subsidy. Now the government is offering a 100% subsidy. I have a B.A. and a master's degree in administration and math education, so I applied the rule of three to that data to extrapolate the results for all 338 MPs here in the House.
According to my calculations, some 48,740 jobs will not be covered by the Canada summer jobs program. These are existing jobs for which employers have submitted applications, but they will get no help from the government even though these jobs would enable young people to work rather than collect the $1,250 CESB on top of income from part-time jobs. Also, students will steer clear of full-time minimum wage jobs because they do not pay enough.
Canada has 48,740 job openings for students. Officials told us that subsidizing each of those summer jobs would cost about $4,000, which adds up to $194,960,000, or a little less than $200 million.
Compare that to the $9-billion overall envelope the government is providing to help students through loans and bursaries, the Canada emergency student benefit and the service grant, if a paid service can still be considered volunteer work. The total amount of $194,960,000 represents roughly 2% of the government's total $9-billion aid package. That amount would allow the government to immediately meet the needs of businesses without having them compete with one another and would not require new programs to be created. What is more, students would be able to make a living and pay their bills while at school.
If the opposition parties could have worked proactively, that is the type of solution they would have proposed. I hope the government will seize this opportunity. It could increase this envelope without changing anything else. That way, roughly 50,000 students in Canada, in every single riding, could have a job instead of receiving the CERB, which could be used to help people who need it even more.
The Conservative Party is pleased to see that the government agreed to make changes to the bill to make it more acceptable, fairer and more equitable and to ensure businesses do not have to compete as much. It is rather impressive to see the number of emails, calls and comments on social media relaying to MPs the adverse effect of this measure on recruiting employees. That is the sense we are getting on this side of the House and we get the impression it is a bit ideological.
We are pleased that the government agreed to require that all applicants contact Employment and Social Development Canada to obtain information about available student jobs. We are pleased that the government agreed to our request for parliamentary review of the bill and the Canada emergency student benefit in order to find ways to mitigate the unintended disincentives to work that we are currently seeing. Finally, we are pleased that the government agreed to a deadline so that it cannot unilaterally extend this benefit through regulations. We are pleased to see that the Conservative Party's efforts have enhanced the bill to help students across the country.
I encourage the government to stop with the empty rhetoric. While it says that it wants to help everyone, the fact remains that this measure also has unintended consequences. Even though this measure is intended to help students, it will nevertheless hurt the economy if controls are not put in place. If the government were to demonstrate political goodwill, jobs could be quickly filled, just like that.
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