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Results: 1 - 15 of 147
View Louise Chabot Profile
View Louise Chabot Profile
2022-12-06 13:23 [p.10487]
Mr. Speaker, I would first like to join in today's commemoration of the 14 women killed at École Polytechnique on December 6, 1989. The first shots were fired at exactly 5:10 p.m. We must remember, but above all, we must say, “Not one more woman”. We can truly make a difference by taking action together. I want to acknowledge all the shelter workers who are helping women flee violence. They can count on our support.
I will be speaking about the economic statement, Bill C-32, even though closure was once again invoked on the economic statement just a few hours ago. That is one time too many, because closure should be the exception in the House. It should only be used in genuine emergencies that require us to stop debate, for democratic reasons, for instance. That is not the case here, and it was not the case for many other bills. With the NDP's complicity, the government has once again missed an opportunity to take the time to make the debate fully relevant. That is what I hope to do with my speech.
The Bloc has already announced that it will be supporting the economic statement. The NDP is going to support it, and the Liberal Party wants to speed up debate. However, I hope the government will listen to our concerns about the economic statement. I hope it will listen and realize that it is never too late to act.
The Bloc Québécois asked for three things in the economic statement and Bill C‑32.
First, we asked the government to support health workers and sick patients by increasing health transfers. The government said no.
Second, we asked the government to provide proper support to our seniors aged 65 and older, most of whom are women. Seniors are being hit hard by the current economic conditions. They need appropriate support, which means ensuring that the increase to old age security starts at age 65. Seniors must not be discriminated against. That request was also denied.
Third, we asked for an urgent reform of EI, which is a federal program, a support program, a social safety net. At least, that was what it was supposed to be when it was created. It is the best economic stabilizer in difficult economic times. Again, we got no response, just radio silence.
The government rejected those proposals. We can only see this as a missed opportunity to help Quebeckers and Canadians cope with the difficult times they are already experiencing or may face in the coming months.
As the Minister of Finance said many times in her speech on the economic statement, a crisis is coming and we need to be vigilant. I would say that we need to be bold. As I was saying, EI is the ultimate economic stabilizer during a recession, and a recession may be just around the corner. Times like these may offer the best opportunity to reform the program. Perhaps we should avoid waiting until we are in the midst of a crisis. EI is also a tool for social justice that protects workers from the ups and downs of the market economy.
While a growing number of analysts are concerned about the possibility of a recession as early as 2023, the Canadian government seems to be going back on the comprehensive EI reform it promised in the summer.
On June 6, we asked the Minister of Employment a question here in the House about when we could expect the EI reform to happen. The minister responded as follows, and I quote:
Mr. Speaker, we are working very hard to modernize employment insurance. Quickly, when we got into the pandemic, we recognized that the EI system had not kept up with the way Canadians work. That is exactly why we are working to improve the system in terms of adequacy, in terms of access and in terms of the individuals who pay in and who do not yet have access.
What we do know, however, is that the system, which has not been reformed in 15 years, is so broken that six out of 10 workers who lose their job are not entitled to EI. It is shameful.
The government has been promising to reform the EI system for seven years. It made that promise in its 2015, 2019 and 2021 campaign platforms, but nothing has been done and time is short. We definitely need to avoid a scenario where we are forced to improvise a new CERB to offset the shortcomings of the system if a recession hits. During the pandemic, we saw that improvised programs cost more and are less effective. However, the government's financial forecasts prove that it does not anticipate accepting more workers' claims.
With respect to the 26 weeks of sick leave announced recently, this was a measure included in Bill C-30 to update budget 2021, passed 18 months ago. The minister finally announced the measure, which will take effect on December 18 and only for new claimants. That is too little too late. We again decry the government’s lack of ambition. It is happy with a half-measure, and one that should have been in place last July.
According to the Canadian Cancer Society, 1 in 24 people have been diagnosed with cancer in Canada over the last 25 years. The Parliamentary Budget Officer says that claimants with a serious illness need an average of at least 41 weeks of benefits to recover. Therefore, even with an increase to 26 weeks, the government is leaving claimants with a deficit of 15 weeks without income. They will not be able to recover with dignity.
It is insulting, quite frankly, especially since a motion was adopted and two bills have been introduced here in the House in that regard. The Bloc Québécois introduced the Émilie Sansfaçon bill to increase EI sickness benefits from 15 to 50 weeks, and the official opposition party introduced a bill to increase sickness benefits to 52 weeks. Although a motion was adopted in the House, some parliamentarians still refuse to listen. The government has deliberately chosen to ignore the very well researched and careful advice of parliamentarians, experts and witnesses we have heard from.
As for EI reform, we are still waiting for the minister to come forward with a proposal for comprehensive reform. The temporary measures that were in place but were abolished in September would have been a good basis for reform. We still do not understand why the government eliminated them, only to go back to the status quo and the outdated system we have now.
This is despite the fact that the minister's mandate letter is quite clear. It says, and I quote:
...by Summer 2022, bring forward and begin implementing a plan to modernize the EI system for the 21st century, building a stronger and more inclusive system that covers all workers, including workers in seasonal employment and persons employed by digital platforms, ensuring the system is simpler and more responsive for workers and employers.
Let us just say we are a long way off. Ever heard of the winter gap?
I see that my time is up.
View Taleeb Noormohamed Profile
Lib. (BC)
View Taleeb Noormohamed Profile
2022-12-01 15:08 [p.10305]
Mr. Speaker, protecting and extending workers' rights is a priority for this government, and these rights must never be taken for granted. The House unanimously passed Bill C-3, which established 10 days of paid sick leave for all federally regulated workers.
Can the Minister of Labour tell us when paid sick leave for workers will come into effect and discuss the importance of these measures for Canadians in federally regulated sectors?
View Seamus O'Regan Profile
Lib. (NL)
Mr. Speaker, right around this time last year, the House unanimously committed to providing 10 days of paid sick for workers in the federally regulated private sector, and I am happy to stand here today to say we made good on that promise. Paid sick leave is now in force today for all federally regulated private sector workplaces.
This is good for all of us. It will make our economy stronger and it will make our workplaces safer. Workers should not have to choose between getting paid and getting better. I want to thank the Speaker and all members of the House.
View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
Mr. Speaker, I usually begin my speeches by saying that I am pleased to participate in the debate on a bill.
However, today, I have to say that I am really disappointed to be here once again debating a bill that, as we know, affects sick workers who need more than 15 weeks of special employment insurance sickness benefits.
During the previous Parliament, I had the privilege of introducing a bill that is similar to that of my colleague from Lévis—Lotbinière. We are both concerned about people who worked and contributed their whole life and who did not choose to get sick, to get cancer, for example. They deserve more than 15 weeks of support.
It has been very well documented that, today, workers often need more than 15 weeks to recover. They need to fight the illness, receive treatment, heal and regain their strength before they can return to work. No one chooses to be sick.
As I was saying, I am always happy to debate, but I am incredibly disappointed today. I would even say that I am angry, because we are wasting time. As far back as at least 2011, all parties, including the Conservative Party, the Bloc Québécois, the NDP and even the Liberal Party when it was in opposition, agreed that it was time to amend the Employment Insurance Act and that these changes were needed to support workers through an illness.
I am disappointed because, as members know, I introduced Bill C‑265 in the previous Parliament, and this bill was passed at second reading. We worked on it in committee, which was an amazing experience for me. It was the first time that I had the opportunity to debate with parliamentarians from all parties and to hear witnesses speak to Bill C‑265. Today we are debating Bill  C‑215, which is practically the same bill. I am sharing this story with my colleagues because committee stage is the right place and the most appropriate place to have in-depth debate and improve the bill.
We can all agree that Bill C‑215 is not a big bill. It seeks to amend just one section of the Employment Insurance Act. We are asking that benefits be extended from 15 weeks to 52 weeks. During the last Parliament, when we debated in committee, we heard from all sorts of witnesses. Quite honestly, I would say that we did not see any significant resistance to extending benefits from 15 weeks to 50 weeks.
What really caught my attention was the study from the Parliamentary Budget Officer. According to that study, we collectively have the means to provide the most vulnerable workers the support they need to return to work. The Parliamentary Budget Officer stated and documented the fact that a small increase in contributions, which does not amount to much in the lives of every employer, would financially help thousands of sick workers.
We all know someone in our lives who has gone through the process of recovering or fighting cancer. We know that some cancers can be healed in 15 weeks. However, we also know that if a person has the misfortune of being diagnosed with certain other cancers like colon cancer or rectal cancer, they will need 30 to 37 weeks of financial support to get through it. That is scientifically documented. Advanced technology and science are making it possible for more and more people with cancer to recover, but they still need to take the time to go through the treatment.
When it comes to honest workers who are among the most vulnerable, those who do not have group insurance or the necessary support from their employer, it is rather disgraceful that a rich country like ours is abandoning them.
I often joke that with a quick stroke of the pen, the government could decide, by ministerial order, to extend benefits from 15 weeks to 50 or 52.
It would be humane and compassionate of the government to say, after listening to the witnesses and the Parliamentary Budget Officer, that since bills have been introduced year after year for 10 years, enough is enough. It should quickly pass Bill C-215 or give it a royal recommendation in order to reassure the sick workers who are watching the debate today and who do not understand what is happening.
Personally, I wonder why the government is not taking action on this file. Members will recall that, last year, we passed Bill C-30, which contained a provision that would extend benefits from 15 weeks to 26 in 2022. Why wait so long? What is the justification?
Bill C‑30 received royal assent on June 29, 2021, which was almost a year ago, but I am still trying to convince my colleagues that this failure to move forward makes no sense. Mainly, I am trying to convince my colleagues across the way, because they are the ones who are not on board. I know the Liberal benches over there are full of compassionate MPs who care about sick people, so why on earth is cabinet so dead set against it?
I have my theories, but I wonder which lobby group has been quietly telling cabinet to put it off for as long as possible. Maybe insurance companies, maybe employers? I have no idea, but I do want to point out that employers said they were not opposed to extending the special EI benefit period.
That leaves me wondering who is behind this, because I just cannot understand why I am still here on June 13 giving a speech about a bill to protect and support our most vulnerable workers.
I want to thank my colleague from Lévis—Lotbinière for not giving up and for reintroducing his bill, which will help put the spotlight on the government benches to make it clear to the Liberals that this is not a partisan issue. This bill is about humanity, compassion and understanding of the status of a worker who is seriously ill. Perhaps one day we will know who is preventing the government from moving forward more quickly.
It is supposed to come into force in the summer of 2022. According to my assistant, Charles, Quebec strawberries are in season, which means summer is here. If summer is here, why has the government not announced that it is giving royal recommendation to Bill C-215, so that we can give all our vulnerable and seriously ill workers all the support they need to fight their illness, recover and get back to work?
I appeal to the compassion and humanity of the Liberal members opposite.
View Chrystia Freeland Profile
Lib. (ON)
moved that Bill C-19, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on April 7, 2022 and other measures, be read the second time and referred to a committee.
She said: Madam Speaker, I would like to first say that, like so many Canadian women, I was both shocked and deeply worried by the news from the United States last night about abortion rights. The U.S. Supreme Court confirmed this morning that the leaked document was authentic, but that it does not represent a decision by the court or the final position of any member on the issues in the case.
I also want to recognize that this decision is a decision for American judges, American politicians and the American people. However, having said that, and speaking here today as a woman, as a mother and as Canada's Deputy Prime Minister, it is important for me to begin by underlining our government's clear and determined commitment to protect a woman's right to choose. I want every single woman and girl in Canada to hear me say that here today.
Abortion is a fundamental right. Feminists fought for decades to secure it, and here in Canada we will not let it be undermined in any way. As part of Canada's feminist foreign policy, it has been a priority for our government to support the reproductive rights of women and girls around the world. We will continue to do so with greater determination than ever.
We cannot take any of our rights, including this fundamental one, for granted. In a democracy like our own, our rights are ultimately secured by the will of the people, as expressed by the decisions of their elected representatives: all of us here in the House. That is why it is so important for me to make this statement today and why all Canadians, especially all Canadian women who care about a woman's right to choose, need to be active and vigilant and need to speak out.
I am pleased to start today's debate on Bill C-19, an act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on April 7, 2022 and other measures.
I would like to begin by explaining the context of the current debate. When COVID‑19 struck for the first time, Canada suffered a tremendous economic shock. Three million Canadians lost their jobs and our economy shrunk by 17%. This gave way to the worst recession since the Great Depression.
Our main objective was to keep Canadians at work and to keep their employers afloat. That is why we provided unprecedented emergency help to Canadian families and businesses. It was a bold plan and it worked.
We have recovered 115% of the jobs lost in those awful first months, compared with just 93% in the United States. That means that more than three million jobs have been created or recovered. Our unemployment rate has declined to just 5.3%. That is the lowest level since Canada first began collecting comparable statistics in 1976. Our real GDP is 1.5% above where it was before the pandemic, with annual GDP growth of 6.7% in the fourth quarter of 2021, and a remarkable 13.9% on an annualized basis in February of this year.
The IMF projects that Canada will have the strongest economic growth in the G7, both this year and next. Last Thursday, S&P again affirmed Canada's AAA credit rating and gave us a stable outlook. This is in part thanks to the emergency support our government provided to rescue Canadians and the Canadian economy. It is thanks to the remarkable grit and determination that Canadians have shown over these past two years.
However, there are still challenges ahead. Inflation, a global phenomenon, is making things more expensive in Canada too. Snarled supply chains have driven prices higher at the checkout counter. Buying a house is out of reach for far too many Canadians.
Russia's illegal and barbaric invasion of Ukraine is directly contributing to higher food and energy prices, both here at home and around the world. We need to do better as a country at innovating and encouraging small businesses to grow.
We need to continue to address the existential threat of climate change, which is why, with the investments outlined in the budget and through Bill C-19, our government is focusing on growing our economy and making life more affordable for Canadians.
One of the pillars of our plan is investing in the backbone of a strong and growing country.
People need homes in which to live. The problem is that Canada does not have enough homes. Our budget contains the most ambitious plan ever put forward by a federal government to resolve this fundamental problem. Over the next 10 years, it will help us double the number of new homes built in Canada. To build the new homes Canadians need, we must make a great national effort that will demand collaboration from all levels of government.
That is why Bill C-19 contains measures aimed at investing in building more homes and bringing down the barriers that keep them from being built. For example, the bill provides for up to $750 million to help municipalities address public transit shortfalls caused by the pandemic. To increase the impact of this investment, the provinces and the territories will have to commit to match the federal contribution. This funding will also serve as a lever for the construction of new homes. The provinces and territories will have to accelerate their work with their municipalities to build more homes for Canadians.
We also need to make the housing market fairer, which is why Bill C-19 will legislate a two-year ban on allowing foreign investors to buy houses in Canada. We know that foreign money has been flowing into Canada to buy residential real estate. This has fuelled concerns about the impact on costs in cities such as Vancouver and Toronto, and across the country. Canadians are worried about being priced out of the housing market. By banning foreign purchases of Canadian housing for two years, we will make sure that houses in our country are being used as homes for Canadian families, not as a speculative financial asset class.
We will make all assignment sales of newly constructed or renovated housing taxable for GST and HST purposes. Bill C-19 will help seniors and people with disabilities live and age at home by doubling the home accessibility tax credit's annual limit to $20,000, which will help make upgrades such as wheelchair ramps more affordable.
A growing country and a growing economy also demand a growing workforce. With Bill C-19, we would make it easier for the skilled immigrants that our economy needs to make Canada their home by improving our government's ability to select applicants from the express entry system who match the needs of Canadian businesses.
We would also invest in the determined and talented workers who are already here by making it more affordable for people working in the skilled trades to travel to where the jobs are. This legislation would introduce a labour mobility deduction for tradespeople that would allow workers to deduct up to $4,000 per year for travel and temporary relocation expenses as part of an effort to reduce labour shortages in the skilled trades.
We would also introduce 10 days of paid sick leave for workers in the federally regulated private sector, which would support one million workers in industries like air, rail, road and marine transportation, banks, and postal and courier services.
The budget invests in the skills that Canadian workers need to fill the good-paying jobs of today and tomorrow, and it would help break down barriers and ensure that everyone is able to roll up their sleeves and get to work. Passing this bill is critical to that effort.
In addition, Bill C-19 will enable us to continue the work we are doing to maintain a sound tax system where everyone pays their fair share.
Our government knows that people who can buy expensive cars, planes and boats can also contribute a bit more. Canadians also know this. We were elected on this promise and we intend to keep it.
To this end, we are following through on our commitment to introduce a tax on the sale of new luxury cars and aircraft with a retail sale price of over $100,000. This tax will also apply to the sale of boats that cost more than $250,000.
Today, anonymous Canadian shell companies can be used to conceal the true ownership of assets including businesses and property. Through this legislation, our government would hasten the creation of a public and searchable registry of federally incorporated companies before the end of 2023, two years earlier than planned, to help counter illegal activities including money laundering and tax invasion. This would also help to prevent shell companies from being used to avoid sanctions, and would allow the tracing and freezing of financial assets. This effort is particularly pressing as Canada works hard with our allies through the new Russian Elites, Proxies and Oligarchs Task Force to target the global assets of Russia's elites and those who act on their behalf.
That brings me to the way that Bill C-19 would allow the Canadian government to cause the forfeiture and disposal of assets held by sanctioned people and entities, and to use the proceeds to help the people of Ukraine. Among our allies, Canada is leading the way on this work. We would be, with the passage of this bill, the first member of the G7 to take this important step. I can think of no better way to pay for the very expensive work of rebuilding Ukraine than with the seized assets of the Russian leadership that has waged this war.
In 2019, we introduced a national price on carbon pollution to make sure that it was no longer free to pollute anywhere in Canada. In provinces where the federal system applies, the proceeds are returned to Canadians and their communities.
For those living in Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, Bill C-19 will change the delivery of climate action incentive payments from a refundable credit on tax returns to quarterly payments, starting in July of this year.
In Canada and around the world, climate action is now an economic necessity. Trillions of dollars can be invested in good jobs and the clean industries of today and tomorrow. Thanks to meaningful measures, the 2022 budget will enable Canada to benefit from the green transition.
One of these measures is the new Canada growth fund, which will help attract the billions of dollars in private capital we need to transform our economy at speed and at scale.
We will make zero-emission vehicles a more affordable choice for Canadians. We will build and expand the national network of charging stations for zero-emission vehicles. We will make new investments in clean energy. We will also help Canadians and Canadian companies benefit from the transition to a clean economy. One of the measures included in Bill C-19 consists in cutting tax rates in half for businesses that manufacture zero-emission technologies.
We recently introduced the 2030 emissions reduction plan, the 2022 budget and the bill we are debating today. The measures contained in these three documents represent a more sustainable economy for Canadians today as well as for future generations.
Bill C-19 will make a real difference in the lives of Canadians. It will help grow our economy, it will create good jobs and it will help us continue building a Canada where nobody is left behind. I hope all hon. members in the House will support the swift passage of this bill in the weeks to come.
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
Madam Speaker, when we look at the budget implementation act, we see there are some modest changes to the employment insurance system. There is some tinkering with the paid sick day provisions too. However, neither get full implementation.
Canadians are still in need of widespread and ambitious employment insurance reform. There is still more legislative work to do to finally get the 10 paid sick days that were promised some time ago. We have the looming deadline of May 7 for a number of the pandemic benefits that have helped cover off some of the important things that Canadians have had to do during the pandemic, such as stay home with their kids when their kids are sick and stay home from work when they themselves are sick. Not having implemented those EI reforms and the paid sick days fully before having those benefits expire means there is a gap, and it is workers who are going to suffer for that gap.
I wonder if the government is considering an extension of those benefits until it completes those much-needed employment insurance reforms and a final full implementation of the 10 paid sick days.
View Chrystia Freeland Profile
Lib. (ON)
Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Elmwood—Transcona for his hard work on behalf of working people in his riding and across the country.
I share his concern with working people, and that is why our government has focused so intensely on jobs. It is why when the pandemic hit, we were so deeply concerned about the three million jobs lost. It is also why in my remarks I underscored the significance of our historically low unemployment rate of 5.3%.
When it comes to the well-being of Canadians and Canadian families, well-being starts with having a good job. I agree with the need for 10 paid sick days. It is why we have that in this implementation act. I look forward to continuing to discuss EI.
View Louise Chabot Profile
Madam Speaker, I may not be able to say that I had time to study all 500 pages of Bill C-19, but I have a few comments.
There is a lot of talk about work, workers and the importance of employment. I wanted to know what the government had put forward for workers, whether it had an ambitious agenda and vision, and whether it was able to do something tangible to support workers and improve their conditions. After all, at the end of the day, labour is an important part of the economy.
Based on my analysis, I find that the sights are set too low when it comes to workers. I will provide a few examples. In the last budget and in the Minister of Labour’s mandate letter, the government promised legislation to prohibit the use of replacement workers under the fundamental right to associate and to bargain. There is nothing in this bill to indicate any intention or action in this area. What happened with that?
Another issue is fair employment. I do not know if anyone knows this, but the Employment Equity Act was passed in 2018. Currently, in federally regulated businesses, there is differential treatment based on employment status using “orphan clauses”. The Act was passed in 2018, but there is still no plan or vision to move forward with this. What is going on there?
Recently, we passed Bill C-3 here in the House to give workers 10 days of paid sick leave. That legislation will come into effect at a later date fixed by order-in-council, but we still have not found anything yet.
Climate change is one of the reasons we opposed the budget. We want to see an end to fossil fuel production and a just and fair transition to green or clean energy. What is there for workers?
Last week, the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development said that Natural Resources Canada and Employment and Social Development Canada were not prepared to support a just transition to a low‑carbon economy for workers and communities. It is serious: There are more than 200,000 workers, and there are no plans or measures to support this just and necessary transition.
I would also say that the government is abandoning health care workers by firmly refusing to increase Canada health transfers, as Quebec and the other provinces are calling for. If we want quality health care, we must rely on these workers. To do this, Quebec needs the necessary subsidies to match the expenses so it can better support the health sector.
I looked everywhere in the budget and found only one paragraph on employment insurance. This is where workers are being totally abandoned, even though comprehensive EI reform had been promised. Once again, the government missed an opportunity to act. In one paragraph of the budget and in Bill C-19, the government announced the extension of pilot projects that provide up to five additional weeks of EI benefits to seasonal workers. That is it, nothing more.
The Minister of Employment's mandate letter clearly states that she is to work on modernizing employment insurance by the summer of 2022. The Prime Minister himself said that he asked the minister to focus her energy on building a more equitable system by June 2022. On January 1, she indicated that this was likely to happen.
Right now, workers everywhere, in all regions of Quebec and Canada, are struggling to qualify for fair and accessible benefits. There are serious shortcomings that need to be addressed. We know what the issues are, we know what it will take to fix them, yet there is still a delay in implementing the changes that are needed.
Surely we do not need to be reminded that the EI system is a social safety net that protects workers who lose their jobs. It also protects them in the aftermath of life events, as the minister said. For example, sickness benefits are still capped at 15 weeks when they promised to extend them to 26 weeks. We are being told that this may not happen in July, as first thought, because the computer system will not be ready. They are abandoning people.
I am quite surprised and disappointed that the orange team did not leave its mark in the budget when it comes to workers; it clearly lacks teeth.
All unemployed workers' groups and labour groups support employment insurance reform. More consultations are on the books. Consultations have been going on for years. When will the government get on with it? This is a broken promise at present.
EI reform is important for workers. I meet with workers, unemployed workers' groups, community groups and civil society groups to look at the economic and social realities in some regions. In regions where the seasonal industry holds a predominant place in the economy, five extra weeks in the event of job loss is not enough. There is the issue of the spring gap, which is when a worker does not have enough weeks of benefits to cover the period between the end of the job and when the job resumes. We could tell workers to go work somewhere else, but that is not the answer; rather, we have to support the seasonal industry when it comes to tourism, the fishery. We know that major sectors are affected. A region's economy depends on that. It is not by once again carrying forward a five- to 10-week pilot project that we are going to to give the regions the capacity to support their economy and give workers the capacity to maintain good jobs and experience. We need to protect the vitality of the regions.
The inequities in the EI system for women and young people are another example of needed reforms. The current rules are outdated and significantly discriminate against them. All kinds of criteria regarding hours of eligibility need to be changed. I think the government needs to send a clear message that EI reform is a priority. It is a priority for workers and for the economy. This program is a social safety net that is very much needed, but what the government is doing is very disappointing.
I want to mention the little note about reviewing the Social Security Tribunal and creating a multi-stakeholder tribunal. All the better, since workers have been calling for this for 10 years.
Since I have just 30 seconds left, I want to conclude by saying that workers are in dire need of support. The Liberal government must send a very clear message in its budgets and financial policies that we are counting on them. If we are counting on them, then they need support and they need it now.
View Peter Julian Profile
Mr. Speaker, two important benefits that make it possible for parents to stay home with their young children and for workers to stay home when they are sick expire next Saturday, May 7.
Meanwhile, we are still waiting for employment insurance reform and paid sick leave, which are long overdue. Canada is going through the sixth wave of the pandemic.
Can the Minister of Finance explain why her government is once again leaving workers out in the cold? Will she renew these extremely important matters?
View Karina Gould Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, Canadians expect and deserve an EI system that is responsive to their needs. EI sickness benefits are an important support for Canadians who need to leave work because of illness or injury.
Workers receiving important treatments, or requiring a longer period to recover from an illness or injury, face a stressful income gap between the time they exhaust their benefits and when they are healthy enough to return to work. That is why we extended EI sickness benefits from 15 to 26 weeks, providing approximately 169,000 Canadians every year with additional time and flexibility to recover and return to work.
There is more to do, to be sure, and we will keep working so that EI is there for Canadians when they need it most.
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
Mr. Speaker, the minister is right: Canadians do deserve an employment insurance system that is there for them and that works. In fact, they should have had that in place before the Liberals ended pandemic benefits that allowed them to stay home with their children when they were sick, and that allowed them to stay home from work when they were sick to not put their colleagues in danger.
Instead, what we have is a situation where the government is allowing these benefits to end without having put the 10 paid sick days in place and without having put the employment insurance reforms in place.
Will the government either present these reforms immediately or extend the benefits until it reforms EI and puts the 10 paid sick days in place?
View Karina Gould Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, as my hon. colleague knows, we have brought forward legislation that has passed through this place with regard to 10 paid sick days. We have also worked hard to modernize the EI program so that it responds to the needs of all Canadians and is fair and equal. That includes giving parents the choice of taking either 12 or 18 months for parental leave and introducing the new parental sharing benefit so they can share the joy and work of raising their children more equally.
We are following through on our promise to modernize the system with targeted consultations with Canadians. That will bring forward a vision for a new and modern EI system. We know there is more work to do and we are getting to it.
View Matthew Green Profile
Mr. Speaker, today, on the National Day of Mourning, we remember those we have lost and those who have suffered life-changing workplace injuries. The Liberal government is planning to end the sickness benefit program on May 7. Federal workers will not have any support if they are sick and need to stay home.
While we fought to secure 10 paid sick days to protect federal workers, the Liberals are choosing to delay this important protection for Canadians. When will the Liberal government follow through and finally deliver on the 10 paid sick days workers deserve?
View Chrystia Freeland Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, our government puts workers first and absolutely believes in the importance of unions defending workers and ensuring a productive and effective economy. That is why our government, for the first time in Canadian history, will ensure that all Canadian workers have the right to 10 paid sick days. It is the right thing to do, and we are going to do it.
View Judy A. Sgro Profile
Lib. (ON)
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to see you in the chair and pleased to be back in the House. I hope everybody had a restful period of time and we are all back here now.
As I rise in the House today to speak to this year’s budget, I will be sharing my time with the member for Mississauga—Streetsville, a wonderful new member of Parliament we have here who is doing great things and who is great to work with.
Several weeks ago, when it was announced that our Liberal government had made a supply agreement deal with the New Democratic Party, I was concerned about that, and I made that known. I am a firm believer in helping and supporting not just Canadians, but those all over the world as we continue, but I am also, like many of my colleagues, a very strong believer in fiscal responsibility. With our country still in an unknown due to COVID, a war on Ukraine, and any other potential things that could come our way, I was unsettled about how we could meet those needs and still remain financially responsible as a government.
I have to congratulate my hon. colleague, the Minister of Finance, as I no longer have those concerns because she struck the perfect chord in this budget. My concerns about the arrangements that we had made on the supply deal and the impact it was going to have on the direction of our government were very much unfounded, because we were able to produce a budget that, yes, delivered on things that mattered to other people but, importantly, we were fiscally responsible, and I was very pleased with all of that.
Before I speak further on the budget, I want to mention page 101, which says “Protecting Our Freshwater”. It might sound like an odd thing to be concerned about as a Toronto member, but we have to be concerned about our lakes. It is an ongoing subject that I have been involved with for some time when it comes to the invasion of sea lamprey in our lakes and the agreements that we had between Canada and the U.S. We were not paying our share to ensure that the invasive sea lamprey were not allowed to continue to cause the kind of damage that they do in the Great Lakes.
I have been lobbying on that issue with my former staff member Greg McClinchey and others. With the help of the member for Niagara Centre and his continued persistence, it is in the budget, with significant funds that will truly be our support in dealing with invasive species like that. I want to congratulate Mr. McClinchey and the member for Niagara Centre for pushing it over the line. I am glad it is done. It does not matter who gets the credit if it gets done, and it is going to make a difference in the Great Lakes and our cities.
The other issue that matters a lot to the residents of Humber River—Black Creek is that all of the provinces have finally signed an agreement for affordable day care, something with which I go back to the previous prime minister Martin, trying to get child care then. That was at least 12 years ago. Well, we finally got it over the finish line and we have agreements with all of the provinces and the territories for an early learning and child care infrastructure fund in the budget. It is going to make a huge difference in the lives of residents in Humber River—Black Creek. Many of the parents in Ontario will be able to save an average of $6,000 per year per child by the end of 2022.
What I see as most important for the residents of Humber River—Black Creek is the fact that many of the families have had to have one member of the partnership stay home, and I know that these women, many of them, wanted the opportunity to go to work. They could not find child care that was affordable. Well, now they will have child care that is affordable. They will be able to go back to school. They will be able to pursue a career. It will make a huge difference in their lives. Otherwise, they had to wait until their children were significantly grown up in order to be able to actually get on to work.
When we look at seniors in poverty, which is an issue we have talked a lot about over the many years I have been here, every year we manage to reduce the number of seniors in poverty. However, if we turn around and make sure, and this is what we are doing with child care, that we provide women and men the opportunity to work, because their children are going to be in a safe day care, an affordable day care opportunity, they can go to work and contribute to their pensions from early on, not having to wait until their children are completely grown up and out of the house before they can go to work. The cost of child care has been exorbitant and parents were simply having to make a choice. They could earn money, but they would pay it all out in child care, so it just did not make any sense for them to go forward. The more Canadians are working, the better our economy will be.
Since our government took power in 2015, we have brought forward six other budgets. Many of them have included great things that have helped the residents of Humber River—Black Creek, such as the Canada child benefit. We should not forget all the families that are benefiting throughout this country. We have helped 435,000 families out of poverty since 2015 and continue to provide almost $7,000 per child to families this year. We are increasing the minimum wage. We have also increased the amounts for the GIS and the old age security pension, things that matter to many people.
We have made investments in workers. As a result of the pandemic, we realized just how important it is to have paid sick days. We can keep our head in the sand all we want, but the reality is that if people are sick and have to pay rent and put food on the table, they are going to go to work, sick or not, and that is very unfortunate. Having 10 paid days of sick leave for federal and private sector employees will make a difference in the lives of many Canadians as we move forward.
We are increasing climate action incentive payments. Most families in my riding are going to receive over $800. I am certainly talking to them about paying attention to how they file their income tax, because there is almost $800 coming back as a result of the carbon tax that they continue to hear people criticize. It is putting money back into the pockets of many people.
I talk a lot about how important it is to use a budget to be fiscally responsible, but also to give people a hand up as we move forward, and dental health is one that we as a party and certainly I have talked about many times. I talk to people in my riding who are having a tough time and cannot get a job. They have missing teeth, and even when they try to pull themselves together to present themselves for a job, clearly they do not present themselves well because they do not have the money to have proper dental health care. We, as Liberals, have talked about it, and I think this agreement we have is a major boost. Yes, it is going to cost a lot of money, but if it makes people's mental health and physical health better as a result of having proper dental care, I think it makes a huge difference. We are phasing it in, again, in a fiscally responsible way. I think those things are very important as we move forward.
On housing, I cannot tell members how happy I am to see the amount of money going into housing, and how well we are doing with that. It is a huge subject. If people do not have a place to live or a roof over their head, it does not matter what else we do for them; that is what they need, so investing in affordable housing and making it all move forward is an extremely important thing. I am thrilled to see the amount of money that is going into housing. Co-op housing in particular is something that I have a real interest in. I would like to see a lot more of that built throughout the country, especially in Humber River—Black Creek, for the residents there.
Madam Speaker, I can see that my time is up. Thank you very much for the opportunity. I think it is a great budget, and I am very proud to stand and support it.
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