Interventions in Committee
 
 
 
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View Andrew Saxton Profile
CPC (BC)
Mr. Farrell, if employers feel they are going to be sued because a student isn't getting the training they want, is that going to stop employers from potentially having interns?
John Farrell
View John Farrell Profile
John Farrell
2015-06-02 9:58
You know that you can't prevent people from taking actions they think are appropriate, but I don't think it's necessary to concern ourselves with lawsuits.
We believe employers and interns can benefit from the balance that is necessary to give them the training they need, so they can advance their educational and work experiences.
View Laurin Liu Profile
NDP (QC)
What would be the case for new Canadians? Do you think that new Canadians should be forced to work for free to gain workplace experience?
Claire Seaborn
View Claire Seaborn Profile
Claire Seaborn
2015-06-02 10:26
Absolutely. We frequently receive emails from immigrants in Canada who take unpaid work out of desperation and for no other reason. In fact, all Canadians are taking unpaid work out of desperation. Federally regulated employers would use these exceptions to take advantage of that desperation and extract work, labour, that's useful to them. They provide training but they are certainly extracting work from people without providing remuneration and without really being accountable for what they're providing to those people.
Jonathan Champagne
View Jonathan Champagne Profile
Jonathan Champagne
2015-06-02 10:27
I think the idea of providing a community service for allowing new immigrants to work for free is a guise and something that shouldn't be accepted or tolerated.
Angella MacEwen
View Angella MacEwen Profile
Angella MacEwen
2015-05-26 8:58
Thank you.
On behalf of the 3.3 million members of the Canadian Labour Congress, we want to thank you for the opportunity to present our views today. The CLC brings together workers from virtually all sectors of the Canadian economy, in all occupations, and in all parts of Canada.
Part 1 of Bill C-59, which we're speaking to today, would implement a wide variety of income tax and related measures. Today our comments will be limited to three provisions: reducing the required minimum amount for withdrawal annually from the RRIF; increasing the annual contribution limit for the tax-free savings accounts; and renewing the accelerated capital cost allowance for investment in machinery and equipment.
First of all, in terms of retirement security, the changes to the RRIF withdrawals and the increases to the tax-free savings accounts are measures that are both related to retirement security, but it will be no surprise to members of this committee that the Canadian Labour Congress feels that expanding the Canada pension plan is a much better solution to the looming retirement security crisis in Canada. Changes to RRIF withdrawals benefit older workers who already have RRSP savings, but they do little for workers without the means to save through RRSPs. This is significant because only a third of Canadians today contribute to RRSPs, and the unused RRSP contribution room reached $790 billion in 2013. Eleven million workers in Canada have no pension plan other than the CPP. At the same time, the annual contribution limit for the tax-free savings account would increase to $10,000, as has already been discussed, and this measure would have an estimated cost to federal revenues of $1.1 billion by 2019.
Even at the maximum annual contribution of $5,500, the TFSA is projected to cost the federal government up to $15 billion annually, and cost the provinces another $8 billion when the program is fully mature. Doubling would further increase this cost almost exclusively to the benefit of higher income earners. In contrast, expanding the CPP would benefit all workers, follow workers who change employers or who have multiple employers, and be simple for employers to administer.
In terms of supporting manufacturing, we recognize that as a result of globalization, unfavourable trade deals, a high dollar, and the most recent recession, manufacturing in Ontario and across Canada has experienced devastating losses over the past decade. In recognition of this reality, we have long supported renewing the accelerated capital cost allowance for investment in machinery and equipment. This measure was first introduced in 2007, renewed in 2011 and 2013, and would now be renewed until 2026. While we support this measure, we want to note that corporate tax cuts have failed to spur business investment. In the same vein, we feel that continuing this accelerated capital cost allowance would be insufficient to support a struggling manufacturing sector in Canada.
Coming out of the recession, business investments in manufacturing have been very slow to rebound, despite the continuation of the accelerated capital cost allowance. In October 2014, the monetary policy report released by the Bank of Canada suggested that this is in part because of a semi-permanent loss of capacity in several manufacturing export sectors. Low interest rates and low taxes have not been sufficient drivers of growth. Weak and uncertain demand have played a significant role in subdued investment. All signs point to the need for the federal government investment in infrastructure to spur growth and therefore boost business confidence and private investment.
A singular focus on tax cuts has significant drawbacks. We note that while the budget 2015 documentation mentions the importance of investment in skilled labour in the same sentence as it mentions investment in machinery, government action on this front has been noticeably absent.
Let me remind the committee of some of the recommendations the Canadian Labour Congress has made in the past that would make a difference to investment in skilled workers.
One, establish a national skills council that brings key stakeholders together to identify skills gaps and develop strategies, policies, and programs to address them.
Two, establish a mandatory national workplace training fund. Employers with a payroll of more than $1 million who fail to invest 1% of their payroll in training should pay the shortfall into a public fund that is used to finance work-related training initiatives.
Three, increase funding for the labour market agreements, the LMAs, with the provinces and territories to help vulnerable unemployed workers, including immigrants, aboriginal peoples, persons with disabilities, women, older workers, younger workers, and less skilled individuals.
Four, mandate employers to hire and train apprentices. The federal budget should ensure that those projects receiving federal dollars through the new building Canada fund and the investment in affordable housing program mandate employers to hire and train apprentices.
This budget further erodes the fiscal capacity of the Canadian state and rejects the opportunity to take advantage of exceptionally low borrowing costs and invest in the current and future needs of working people in Canada.
Thank you.
View Gerald Keddy Profile
CPC (NS)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Welcome to our witnesses here today.
My first question is for Mr. Speer of the Fraser Institute. I'm very interested in your discussion about capital gains, which I'm going to come back to.
Awhile back, your Fraser Institute recommended developing incentives for companies to provide in-house training for young workers. This is something that I think most of us around the table have discussed and certainly support.
At the same time, you also called for the government to loosen the red tape surrounding the temporary foreign worker program. That's a bit of a conundrum to me because we've seen some abuse of that program. We know it's important in certain areas, but how are you going to give an incentive for companies to have in-house training and then open up the temporary foreign worker program at the same time?
Philip Cross
View Philip Cross Profile
Philip Cross
2014-09-29 16:16
I have a couple of things to say here.
One is about your question about the incentives we should be giving companies for more training. That is one of the conundrums, because firms don't invest a lot in training of their employees. It's actually declined over time and is now negligible. They have every incentive to do it because of the shortages they're facing out west. So what more incentives we can offer, I'm not sure. But I think it's not all on firms to do. When you look at the labour market in Canada today, for example, you see that 16% of youths in Ontario are unemployed and employers are screaming to find employees out west. We have to do things differently to get people in the right places. It's not just up to firms to do; there's a role for government and individuals in all of this too.
View Dave Van Kesteren Profile
CPC (ON)
I don't think I'm going to get a round, so I wanted to ask this question.
One of the things I think every member's office gets is complaints about the CRA by people who are having problems with taxes and who feel they are being treated unfairly. What kind of training do you participate in to make sure that you are there as a service industry? You're in kind of a unique position. On the one hand, you're a tax collector, but at the same time, though, we are working for the Canadian public. What kind of training do you put in place and what kind of safeguards do you have regarding that sort of thing?
Richard Montroy
View Richard Montroy Profile
Richard Montroy
2014-05-28 17:20
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
We have a number of different kinds of training, some on the technical side to ensure our auditors are up to speed on the latest developments in the tax world, but also some soft-skills training on dealing with taxpayers, conflict resolution, and that type of thing. We have a number of training programs in place. We can certainly provide the committee with a full list of all the various training we have for our people.
View Rodger Cuzner Profile
Lib. (NS)
—I'll have you know that you sort of waded into some dangerous waters there. You'll notice the chairman is not only clean-shaven but in a foul mood as well, because his Bruins lost last night.
Between 2006 and 2012, the number of temporary foreign workers more than doubled in this country. Give me a profile of your organization as to, for your members, how much your investment in skills training would have increased over that same period of time.
Martin Lavoie
View Martin Lavoie Profile
Martin Lavoie
2014-05-15 16:11
We don't have numbers on how much companies actually spend. What we hear a lot from our members in certain areas, engineering for example, is that, in some areas of the country, where there's a lot of construction going on for natural resource extraction, such as for oil sands or with the shipbuilding contracts coming in, companies are really worried about putting too much money into training and then losing the employees. So that's one area.
At the same time, though, they invest a lot of time when somebody who's out of school comes to their plant. What I hear a lot is that they're just not ready to work. Most of them have a very good theoretical knowledge of what they should be doing in the plant, but they've never worked with the equipment.
Gregory Thomas
View Gregory Thomas Profile
Gregory Thomas
2014-05-15 18:10
Yes. We believe that training should be part of the education system within K to 12 and in post-secondary education. We don't believe it's the obligation of a Canadian worker to fund training programs for others out of EI payroll taxes. We also believe that EI should be similar to the Canada pension plan, such that money comes off your cheque; it's invested for you in the event that you suffer a loss of employment; and if you manage to stay employed throughout your productive life, and your family, your spouse, and your dependants all manage to stay productively employed, then you get to keep those funds into your retirement.
View Gerald Keddy Profile
CPC (NS)
Thank you.
To Dominique Gross, we have spent a fair amount of time at this committee talking about training, youth employment, and temporary foreign workers. One of the things we discussed, and one of the things you actually mentioned, is the process of determining whether you need temporary foreign workers. Can you explain how that works in European countries? If you have occupational shortages and it's a structural problem, then you would think you would respond to that with training initiatives. We're starting to do that in Canada.
What we've learned in our study is that most of the European nations, quite frankly, are faster. I don't want to say that they're better—they may be—but they're certainly faster than we are. Do you want to just explain that a little?
Dominique Gross
View Dominique Gross Profile
Dominique Gross
2014-05-14 17:21
Thank you for your question.
If we think about the European countries that have a long history with the temporary foreign worker program—Germany and Switzerland—they both have a characteristic: that is, they have local federal labour agencies that handle the matching between vacancies and the unemployed or people who are looking for jobs.
Those local agencies have perfect information about the state of the labour market, which is the first point. The companies that need temporary foreign workers need to apply to those labour agencies. They first offer the work to the available unemployed people and then, if nobody is really suitable, they give the authorization. That is one point.
Another point that those countries have is the surveys of businesses. They ask questions about their ability to fill their vacancies and their success in terms of skills and in terms of type of occupations within the past semester, for example, or, in Switzerland, the past three months. There is a continuous set of questions that businesses answer about what their need is and how easy it is for them to fill those jobs.
That's information that's useful for training, for young people who learn where there are jobs and where they are likely to have very good jobs, and also for the temporary foreign worker program.
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