Ms. Raymonde Folco (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Human Resources
Development, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the new EI economic regions reflect the
growth in our economy, and an improved labour market. But we can understand
that seasonal workers in certain communities are worried about these new
boundaries and we are sensitive to their concerns. That is why we have been
flexible before taking action.
On September 13, the government announced measures to gradually phase in
changes to the boundaries in the Lower St. Lawrence region of Quebec and in
northwestern New Brunswick. The reactions to these changes have been
favourable. Normand Carrier, the spokesman for the Comit, d',tude sur le
travail saisonnier au Madawaska, had this to say in the September 15 edition
of L'Acadie Nouvelle: "- the federal government's announcement was what was
expected. Another good thing is that the federal government has let us know
what its policy will be on this issue for the next three years."
But the challenges facing seasonal workers call for more than EI benefits.
Governments, employers, communities, unions and individuals will have to
join forces in order to improve work opportunities.
That is why we are working at the local level and with our provincial and
territorial counterparts to develop lasting solutions. A number of
directions are open to us, the first being improved access to training for
seasonal workers; the second being-and I urge the hon. member for New
Brunswick Southwest to encourage his constituents to discuss this-greater
economic diversity in the region; and the third being to develop
communities. We must work together in order to come up with effective,
Comment: The very concept of Employment Insurance for seasonal workers is
fundamentally obscene. Some seasonal workers make a high income annual
salary in the few months that they do work, yet they collect EI during the
other months. There are seasonal jobs for all the Canadian seasons, so those
who freely choose to work at a seasonal job during one season should be
responsible for finding another seasonal job during the months that their
first job is suspended. If they can't handle the risk, the responsibility is
theirs to find better employment. Attacking the dignity of those committed
to making an honest living through seasonal employment by catering to the
minority of individuals too lazy to make free and responsible decisions for
themselves is immoral public policy.