The hon. member for Montcalm not being present to raise the matter for which adjournment notice has been given, the notice is deemed withdrawn.
The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 2 p.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).
(The House adjourned at 7:21 p.m.)
Before we resume debate, it is my duty pursuant to Standing Order 38 to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Montcalm, Status of Women; the hon. member for Edmonton—Strathcona, Aboriginal Affairs.
Mr. Speaker, on February 27 I asked the Minister of Employment and Social Development whether he would consider providing bridge funding for groups that assisted disabled individuals to become ready, willing, and able to become part of the workforce. In particular, we were concerned about the Collaborative Partnership Network and the fact that 200 people with disabilities would be forced out of work if an agreement was not reached.
I will read from my question:
Will the minister commit today, at the very least, to providing this network with the bridge funding it needs to continue its work?
Mr. Speaker, nothing could be further from the truth.
I am not sure what that means, but there was no offer of bridge funding for this organization.
My colleague, the member for Montcalm, asked a similar question immediately afterward, and again there was no positive answer from the government.
The deadline, of course, was March 31, and in fact there was no agreement and there was no continuation of funding on March 31 for this group, the Collaborative Partnership Network. However, since that time, the Province of Nova Scotia has stepped in where the federal government refused and has provided funding for 60 of the 375 groups that had expired labour market agreements.
The network was one of the fortunate 60, but the money is limited to wages only and will expire in four to six weeks.
Today we understand that the province has announced that it has reached an agreement in principle with the federal government, and what that apparently means is that they will continue to negotiate. There are no details. There is no actual agreement. It is just an agreement to continue talking.
More concerning, though, is the nature of the changes to the way the money will be spent and the nature of the changes the government is dictating to those groups in Nova Scotia. In the past the money was provided to groups and organizations that assisted people who did not have jobs and who needed assistance to enter or re-enter the workforce. In particular, this money was spent in some cases to help organizations provide assistance and counselling and in some cases workplace accommodation to persons with disabilities.
The effects of this spending were felt by many in the province. Hundreds of persons who were unemployed or unemployable were mentored, coached, and assisted until they were ready, willing, and able to join the workforce. They were not already in the workforce.
After they joined the workforce, the assistance continued, allowing them to stay gainfully employed. The 200 persons who were and still are at risk of losing their jobs are contributing between $3 million and $4 million a year to the economy, rather than being a net drain of $2 million to $3 million in disability income supports.
However, the federal government's new design of the Canada job grant would not have room for such a system. The grant system is really designed for the big companies to get access to federal money to train and retrain their existing employees. The grants would assist those who are already employed rather than those who are not. It is a little counterintuitive.
It would also be of little or no use to small and medium-sized enterprises. Those employers would find it difficult, if not impossible, to find the necessary funding to access the Canada job grants. They would not be able to spend the money to attract and keep disabled employees. It is not designed to do that.
We are disappointed that the federal government could not be counted upon to provide the transitional funding to keep the 315 groups that have lost out. The little bit of temporary funding that the province came up with for 60 groups is a welcome respite for some, but the problem of the design of the program and the failure to reach agreement with the province does not bode well for the remaining groups, nor for the 60 whose existence hangs in the balance, including the Collaborative Partnership Network.
Order. The time provided for government business has now expired. The hon. member for Montcalm will have six minutes to finish her speech after question period.
Order, please. The hon. member still has the floor. I would ask all of the hon. members who wish to continue their conversations to leave the House now.
The hon. member for Montcalm.
Order. It is my duty pursuant to Standing Order 38 to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Montcalm, Canada Post; the hon. member for Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, The Environment; and the hon. member for Thunder Bay—Superior North, Veterans Affairs.
It is my duty pursuant to Standing Order 38 to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for La Pointe-de-l'Île, Ethics; the hon. member for York South—Weston, Health; the hon. member for Montcalm, Persons with Disabilities.
Resuming debate, the hon. member for Calgary Northeast.
The electoral district of Montcalm (Quebec) has a population of 122,825 with 99,604 registered voters and 237 polling divisions.
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