Interventions in Committee
 
 
 
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View Joan Crockatt Profile
CPC (AB)
Could you maybe be specific on one or two points that you think have actually made that difference for you so that the committee can be a little bit more knowledgeable about some best practices?
View Joan Crockatt Profile
CPC (AB)
If you had a recommendation for government, of the programs you've accessed, which would you say you want to see us strengthen and continue? What do you think is a best model that's worked for you?
View Laurie Hawn Profile
CPC (AB)
At any rate, I took my SCAN 21 years ago. It was a theatre full of people in Cold Lake for a couple of days. I can tell you that I don't remember all that much of it, because I didn't have any issues, per se. But this, what you're laying out here, is far more comprehensive and so on than my experience that long ago.
I want to go back a little bit to Mr. Valeriote's point. I have advocated for many, many years for a culture of “yes” versus a culture of “no”. You're right that sometimes “no” is the answer, but what happens a lot is that when somebody gets “no” for an answer, even if it's the right answer they immediately go public. Of course, everyone wants to sympathize with the veteran. That's right and proper. But then, as you said earlier, veterans listen to what happens here in this place. When somebody goes public, and everybody sides with the veteran, as is understandable, then politics enters into it—I'm not casting aspersions, because that's just politics and it's whichever side you're on—and it gets ramped up. Then everybody gets excited about this poor veteran, which is a normal human reaction and totally understandable.
You don't have to answer it, although I'm sure you feel a little bit of that frustration when you guys get pointed at and are told “You bad people, you said no”, and you can't stand up and say, “Well, yes, but no is the right answer”. I sense your frustration.
Really I'm speaking to all of us here in saying, look, sometimes they do give the right answer. Sometimes the right answer is “no”, and maybe we should be a little bit careful about rushing off with a lot of political rhetoric.
I want to ask a couple of specific questions. We talked about the training module for Service Canada folks. Especially in remote locations and so on it is difficult, and it appears to be less than ideal. Now, is VAC looking at ways to ramp up the training for those Service Canada folks in...anywhere, but particularly in the more remote locations?
View Laurie Hawn Profile
CPC (AB)
You mentioned that it can take up to two weeks to understand the rehabilitation services, and so on. Is that mostly because they're so complex, or is it mostly because some of the people you're dealing with have, for various injury reasons, difficulty taking it all in?
View Laurie Hawn Profile
CPC (AB)
There are 1,400 or so Legions across the country, and they all have, or have the facility to have, a Legion service officer. I'm not sure if all do or not. I looked at Brad to nod his head. They do.
We recently doubled the amount of financial support to the Legion for visits and so on. Are you looking at anything with the Legion from VAC for additional training for those Legion officers, or in the areas where Legions are more accessible, to have Veterans Affairs people work together with the Legions to say here's some extra training we can give?
Are you hearing from the Legion that they are interested in doing that?
View Earl Dreeshen Profile
CPC (AB)
View Earl Dreeshen Profile
2014-05-29 16:11
Thank you.
I suppose one of the other points you have come up with, the improved on-reserve income assistance program, focuses on assisting clients in that 18- to 24-year-old age group. Of course, they want to develop the necessary skills so they can find a way to get into the job market. I see there's $41 million allocated in the mains to increase first nation and Inuit youth participation in education and labour market opportunities.
As a teacher, I can truly say that it's so important to first nations youth, as they are vital to Canada's future growth and our economic prosperity, to be able to get them involved and to move forward. I'm just wondering if you could give the committee an update on the progress that has been made in that regard.
View Jason Kenney Profile
CPC (AB)
Thank you very much, Chairman. I'm pleased to be back. It hasn't been very long, has it?
Voices: Oh, oh!
Hon. Jason Kenney: I'm really delighted the committee has decided to take up a study of the renewal of the labour market development agreements. This is important stuff.
As we were finishing the last discussion, Ms. Sims was alluding to the broader skills agenda. We may not agree on all the details, but I think there's a pretty broad consensus from labour unions to businesses, from the NDP to the Conservative Party, and from academics to people on the street, that we have a big skills challenge, that we're not doing an adequate job. When I say we, I mean all levels in the public sector and the private sector are not doing an adequate job of preparing Canadians for the labour market of the future.
As a government, we are trying to go through all of the programs we have that deal with job training or skills development to try to get a better bang for the taxpayer's buck, better outcomes in terms of real jobs. Some of the principles that we think are useful include a greater participation of employers in the training process, trying to leverage increased employer investment in skills development and job training. When employers have skin in the game, they have an interest in training people for real specific jobs that the training will lead to, rather than just kind of training for its own sake.
I don't want to belabour the discussion on the Canada job fund, Canada job grant, labour market agreements because I already discussed that in the last session, except to say that the principles we got to there, such as, greater employer involvement, higher employer investment, training leading to real jobs, are the principles that we are trying to reflect across the whole array of federal skills development programs.
That includes the big daddy of those programs, the labour market development agreements. This is a $2 billion annual transfer that we make to provinces based on a formula that was worked out in these agreements 15 years ago. It's per capita with some flexibility that's sensitive to promises of higher levels of unemployment. Basically the result of that is that the per capita transfer to provinces like, for example, Newfoundland and Labrador, would be higher than it is to Alberta, given the variations in unemployment.
It's a $2 billion transfer based on these bilateral agreements we have with provinces. Most of the LMD agreements were signed back in the late 1990s. I want to acknowledge the good work of former minister Pierre Pettigrew at that time. I think this was a very good development of the former Liberal government, to give credit where it's due, to realize that it made more sense for provinces to deliver these programs where they are on the ground, sensitive to the local labour market realities, as opposed to know-it-all Ottawa delivering the programs.
We can all remember back in the 1970s the Manpower Canada offices. This is kind of the successor to that. That was the Ottawa cookie-cutter approach to job training. Thankfully, we've left that behind in the 1970s. We now basically take a portion of the funds that are raised through EI premiums, $2 billion, and then we transfer that to provinces and they agree to certain parameters in the labour market development agreement. But for all of the good progress that has been made, there has never actually been a full evaluation done of the LMDA. We've never sat down with provinces to discuss the outcomes and to discuss how we might get better results.
I've launched a process of consultations with interested Canadians, with my provincial counterparts. I would hope that this committee could give us some very good constructive ideas about how we could improve on the results from this significant spending being funded by workers and employers through their EI premiums.
As I say, I've raised this with my provincial counterparts. I've sent them two letters. I've raised it with the Forum of Labour Market Ministers that will be meeting in November. I anticipate I'll be meeting with them in July where we'll be discussing this at greater length. I've sent the provinces a series of questions that we want them to address, to kind of guide the discussion. I hope the outcome of this will be renewed agreements with the provinces and territories.
The questions I've asked are as follows: How do we connect training directly to employer demand? How can employers be more involved in identifying labour market needs and ensure LMDA funding goes to training that addresses those needs? How can we ensure the training leads to available jobs? How can we increase individual responsibility and investment in training? How can we increase employer responsibility and investment in training? How can we ensure the training meets employer demand, even if the demands are beyond local needs?
The second area of prospective reform is to support more effective returns to work. Should we formalize our collaboration projects that focus on earlier provincial and territorial targeting and referral of EI clients?
We're asking this because the data is pretty clear that when you engage people who have been unemployed with so-called active measures, when you get in touch with them right after they've been laid off and help them develop a plan to find new work, you get much better results.
We all know the situation. When people are unemployed for a long time, often they get a little bit depressed and discouraged. Their skills perhaps begin to get dated. They fall farther away from the labour market. You want to get in there as soon as you can with people.
We want to encourage provinces to not necessarily just serve whoever walks through the door first, but proactively to reach out to the people who have been recently unemployed. Get them into a program, whether that means upscaling, retraining, or job link services. Get them in as soon as they can.
When we hear about large-scale layoffs in certain companies, such as the Heinz factory in Leamington, or whatnot, we try to get in there with Service Canada with an early intervention. We just want to encourage provinces to be on the scene right away, helping those newly unemployed people with a work plan.
Also, are there additional efforts we can make to reach clients more effectively? That's the proactive part of this. As soon as someone signs up for us with EI, how can we share that information right away with the provincial department delivering the program so they don't just wait for the client to walk in, but rather reach out to the client and say, “We have a whole suite of services available for you. Why don't you come in? We've scheduled an interview with you.”
The third point is to ensure that eligibility is responsive to the evolving labour market. This is a big issue, and I give credit to the NDP for having.... The opposition in general, but particularly the NDP has been pointing out the changing nature of the Canadian labour market—more short-term work, more contract, and informal forms of work.
We have the problem of last hired, first fired. A lot of the young people who are at the margins of the labour market get into an employer and if there's a downturn or whatnot, they're the first to go. That often means they are not qualifying for EI, based on the criteria that have long existed. We need to recognize the evolving nature of the labour market, I think, in the EI eligibility criteria. We're open to a discussion about that.
We're asking provinces how they're using EI part two—that's what we're talking about here, the LMDA funds—to help employed workers. Can more be done to reduce the potential costs of employed workers at a higher risk of job loss? Should we expand eligibility for youth and other workers with insufficient hours to qualify? This is exactly the point I was raising. Should we expand eligibility for under-represented groups, such as the longer-term unemployed?
I talked in the last session about the labour market agreement clientele. These are the folks who, maybe, have never worked, or rarely worked. They're on income assistance. They are not eligible for EI-supported training. We don't want to leave them behind either, so how do we address them in this?
Next, to prove that the LMDA programming generates EI savings is an issue we've raised. Right now EI claimants are using about two-thirds of their part one benefits before returning to work. What more can be done to get people to return to work more quickly and thereby reduce net EI spending?
Really, what I'm raising here is the possibility of paying for results; that is to say, if provinces can reach out proactively to the recently unemployed, get them good programming and back into work right away, it will have the effect of reducing the payout of EI benefits to them.
Perhaps we should acknowledge that saving to the EI fund by giving a pay for performance bonus, as it were, to the province or the program delivering those results. We see pay for performance becoming a very interesting initiative in many countries and it seems to be producing pretty good results. Is there some way we can measure performance and perhaps compensate provinces that get the recently unemployed back to work faster? It's good for them, good for the country.
Finally, there's enhancing performance measurement. We're asking provinces how the annual planning process can be improved to ensure that the LMDA programming is more responsive to employer and client needs, and what the most meaningful performance indicators are to ensure that we can fully assess the costs and benefits of LMDA programs.
Basically, taxpayers deserve to know how these dollars are being spent, what results we're getting for them, and frankly, I think the accounting right now is insufficient. We don't want to burden the provinces with endless forms and reports, but we want to get some good metrics to tell us how we're doing on these programs. I know some of my colleagues—I won't name names; I'll let people speak for themselves. One of my colleagues on this side has often told me about a lot of the service delivery organizations funded by the province with these LMDA funds which basically just seem to produce resumés for people. Some people refer to them as resumé factories. As I say, they're well intentioned, but are they really getting results? Those are the kinds of things we need to know.
Mr. Chairman, I apologize for not having made a formal statement, but I simply wanted to give you a general picture of my ideas.
I am open to constructive ideas. I very much look forward to hearing the responses from provinces and territories as well as from the private sector, including unions and employers, but I am especially looking forward to hearing from you, members of Parliament.
Thank you very much.
View Linda Duncan Profile
NDP (AB)
Great.
Actually, Ms. Pike, that is a good point. A five-year review does not preclude the governments and the regulatory authorities and so forth from reopening and seeking amendments. Good for you for raising that.
Professor Dodd, you raised my favourite topic. I used to be an environmental enforcer. I'm a broken record on this: it's fine to have good legislation, but if you don't have a commitment and a strategy for effective enforcement, then it's of little value. It wasn't me who first said that. It was a former Conservative member of Parliament in the Mulroney regime which actually tabled the first enforcement compliance policy. In their environmental legislation, they required that the provinces, if they wanted to claim equivalency, had to have equivalent enforcement compliance policies.
I want to thank you for raising that issue.
Perhaps I could have a comment from all three of you. Do you think that even if it wasn't added into the legislation, it could be a topic for consideration, if there is a five-year review and every five years thereafter, of the requirement for an audit now before the legislation is even in effect, of the capacity for staffing and skills? This is to be sure that we can implement the legislation to the level that you hope.
View Joan Crockatt Profile
CPC (AB)
Do you believe that your safety training of your members is sufficient?
None of us wants to see a helicopter accident again; the reason for this bill is to make sure that we have had a comprehensive look at it, that the provinces are working together with the federal government, and that we have best practices and that they are being implemented.
Can you speak, in general, to those components?
View Laurie Hawn Profile
CPC (AB)
Dr. Gerace, you talked about creating a better coordinated and accessible system for, I think it was, educating stakeholders, health care providers, and other stakeholders. What would that look like and what can we learn from somebody else who's done this successfully, because we're not the only country facing these kinds of situations?
View Joan Crockatt Profile
CPC (AB)
I would like to take a moment at the outset to correct the record.
Ms. Mathyssen said it was March 2012 since the minister had appeared before this committee. She was not on the committee this year, and she might have received inaccurate information. In fact, Minister Ambrose did appear before this committee in the spring, on Bill S-2. I just wanted to note that.
Minister, thank you so much for being with us today.
You are a role model for women. When we're talking about women and their full participation in the economic, social, and democratic fabric of Canada, I can't think of anybody who would show them it's possible more than you. You're a pediatric surgeon. You have your M.B.A. You've been a leader in the health care field. You've been a really busy parliamentarian. Now, as the minister, I know you are and will be a very strong champion of girls' and women's rights. Thank you for being here.
I want to ask you about women's participation in the workforce, particularly in the skilled trades. I'm sure you are well aware that women are 47.5% of the Canadian workforce, but they're under-represented in skilled trades and science and technology. These tend to be higher paying jobs. They hold only 11.8% of construction jobs; 19% of forestry, fishing, mining, and oil and gas jobs; and 30% of agriculture jobs.
I was shocked, for example, to go up to Fort McMurray and find out that women are the most adept at operating those big, huge, and very expensive trucks.
In many cases, I think women don't look to those occupations that can lift them out of lower paying jobs. I'm wondering if you can tell us how Status of Women is working to encourage and promote women in these higher paying skilled trades.
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