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Wayne Easter, MP

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Representing You in Ottawa

I am committed to bringing your voice to Ottawa, by ensuring your concerns are heard and working with you to create opportunities for growth in our province.

Back to the Island for Break Week

Posted on April 10, 2014

The House will be in recess over the next two weeks, and I will be spending time around our Malpeque communities to hear concerns over the federal government’s changes to the Employment Insurance program, the current changes to the Elections Act, the cuts to infrastructure, and the massive job cuts we’ve seen on PEI. If you’re an employee or an employer who’s affected by these changes, please consider calling the office to set up a meeting. Alternatively, consider writing us about these topics or any other concerns you have. Hearing from you helps me represent Islanders well on issues you face; our door is always open.

For more information, please contact my office, toll-free:
1-800-442-4050
or write to:
Wayne.easter@parl.gc.ca or
Wayne Easter
Member of Parliament
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON K1A0A6

Government neglecting to ensure that Canadians’ laws are maintained by CBSA

Posted on April 1, 2014

Last week on March 27 in question period I asked the Minister of Public Safety, Steven Blaney, about a Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) memo released to Blacklock’s Reporter under Access to Information. The memo describes how the Government’s priorities mean CBSA won’t be inspecting outbound cargo for narcotics without an intelligence tip. I followed up yesterday, and the Minister didn’t even mention the issue.  The CBSA catches some of the drugs coming in, but it has been told not to look for outgoing narcotics. We need accountability, we need the law to be upheld, and we need a Government that will be honest with Canadians. 

Hon. Wayne Easter (Malpeque, Lib.):

Mr. Speaker, it has been four days now since I asked a question of the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness about his neglecting to ensure that Canadians’ laws are maintained by CBSA. I refer to a directive by a director general who stated: “…export examinations…including outbound smuggling of narcotics…should not be undertaken”.

Imagine, a directive stating not to look for narcotics.

Can the minister now come clean and explain how this directive was put out there and if he is going to maintain Canada’s law?

 

Hon. Steven Blaney (Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, CPC):

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question.

It allows me to highlight the excellent work being done by the Canada Border Services Agency. Indeed, over the past year, border services officers have seized nearly $300 million worth of drugs. That represents a 4% increase over the previous year. This demonstrates the remarkable job that the agency has done, and above all, it proves that our government’s investment of 26% is getting results. Now if only the Liberals would get on board.

 

A video of the above exchange can be found here: http://youtu.be/uwYBDkWFqL8

The CBSA Memo can be found here: Memorandum Export Program Examination Priorities0001 (2)

Canada’s Labour Market Needs Action

Posted on March 28, 2014

The non-partisan Parliamentary Budget Officer published a report March 25 called the Labour Market Assessment 2014. In it, the PBO looked at the facts about the people behind our economy. Here are a few quotes from the report that I think are revealing of our economic situation.

The conclusions are that despite what the Conservatives say about a labour shortage, the PBO reports “little evidence to suggest a national labour shortage exists in Canada, although there appear to be regional and sectoral pockets of labour market tightness. These conclusions are based on the lower job vacancy rates and higher unemployment rates nationally and generally across most provinces and sectors relative to pre-recession levels.” While just Saskatchewan faces a labour shortage, “the Atlantic Provinces, along with Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta and British Columbia, continue to have a job vacancy rate at or below pre-recession levels, partnered with an unemployment rate at or above pre-recession levels.” Despite blustering statements about Canada’s Economic Action Plan and the massive debt accumulated from it, most of Canada is still doing worse than before the recession. “Unemployment in 2013Q4 stayed around 1.3 million, about 21% (or 234,500 people) above its pre-recession level in 2008Q3.” As the graph below shows clearly, we have not yet recovered from the recession, and meanwhile the Conservatives are focused on the next election rather than Canadians’ well-being.

PICTURE#1

Young people are suffering especially hard. “Among Canadians aged 15 to 19, the employment rate declined throughout the recovery; in 2013, it remained 2.6% below trend.” Not only are young people facing higher unemployment rates when they’re trying to enter the job market, their skills are also being underutilized. “While there does not appear to be a more acute national labour shortage or skills mismatch in Canada than before the recession, research by Desjardins and Rubenson (2011) and Statistics Canada (2011) suggest that there exists a mismatch between the measured literacy skills of the workers and the extent to which those literacy skills are used on the job, particularly among youth. More specifically, among the youngest age groups, there tends to be more people with medium to high literacy skills who have jobs that engage only medium-low literacy skills.” Our job market is not serving Canadians, especially our youth, with enough quality, fulfilling jobs.

PICTURE #2

 

This graph shows that when underemployment is taken into account, the under- and unemployment rate (R8) jumps to over 10% of Canadians.

Three more points bear mentioning. The PBO found that “it is also worth noting that a higher portion of temporary foreign workers in the private sector could also be putting downward pressure on the private-sector job vacancy rate, as the presence of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) leaves labour demand broadly unaffected while reducing the number of job vacancies, thereby reducing the job vacancy rate. While the impact of the TFWP on the job vacancy rate is uncertain, the impact may be substantial.” The Conservatives have spent years talking about the TFWP, but Canadians’ have only seen inaction while jobs disappear. More research needs to be done, and action taken, to craft and implement a Temporary Foreign Worker Program free from abuse and that benefits everyone.

Secondly, “the gap between real median and average wages has increased since the beginning of the recovery…This indicates that the growth in real wages was concentrated in the upper half of the wage distribution.” Income inequality in Canada is growing, and that’s worrisome. The low-income portion of Canadian society is growing, the wealthy are growing disproportionately wealthier, and the middle-class is shrinking. Something must be done to preserve and grow the middle-class so that all Canadians can share in our country’s wealth.

Finally, the PBO’s report points out a troubling Conservative practice of using inaccurate data to justify wrong-headed policies. Rather than using Statistics Canada’s professional and trusted labour market data, the Department of Finance commissioned its own Jobs Report uses information including Kijiji job listings to measure the job vacancy rate. Even non-experts know that Kijiji isn’t an accurate data source, and all the experts agree. The PBO pointed out that all the Conservatives’ claims can be single-handedly explained and thrown out by the unreliability of Kijiji. We expect better of our government.

The numbers don’t lie. Our economy is not on the right track, and action needs to be taken now to ensure a strong and prosperous Canada.

The Parliamentary Budget Officer’s report may be found here: http://www.pbo-dpb.gc.ca/files/files/Labour_Note_EN.pdf

The Harper Government And Narcotics Smuggling

Posted on March 28, 2014

Liberal Public Safety critic Wayne Easter questioned Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney on why in the Canada Border Security Agency (CBSA) officers do not proactively search […]

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Letter to the Editor: Premiums, payouts just distort books – EI regions

Posted on March 25, 2014

See my recent Letter to the Editor: Premiums, payouts just distort books – EI regions Published in the Guardian, March 24th, 2014. Editor: This letter is […]

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Rant: THE VIEW FROM HERE….

Posted on March 23, 2014

I’d like to share with you a rant: The View From Here -Jack MacAndrew ” Beware the Ides of March”……Soothsayer to Julius Caesar Apparently they are […]

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Winter Storms

Posted on March 18, 2014

Seems to be a feeling we had enough of winter storms. Recently, I had the chance to attend a meeting that was focused, in part, on […]

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Canada’s Underground Economy

Posted on March 15, 2014

One of the most enjoyable aspects about being a parliamentarian is the learning that I do each and every day as I serve your interests in […]

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Easter Elected as Vice-Chair of the Canada-United States Inter-Parliamentary Group

Posted on March 14, 2014

*As published in today’s Guardian* Malpeque MP, Wayne Easter was elected as the Liberal Vice-Chair to the Canada-United States Inter-Parliamentary Group Wednesday, March 5th, as a […]

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Real Issues: Obesity in Canada

Posted on March 10, 2014

Recently, I read a sobering article in CMAJ Open, the online journal by the Canadian Medical Association. Called “Current and predicted prevalence of obesity in Canada: […]

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Contact Us

Malpeque Constituency Office:
4283 Rte 13, Unit 1
Hunter River, Prince Edward Island
C0A 1N0

Phone: 902-964-2428
Toll Free: 1-800-442-4050
Fax: 902-964-3242
Email your Malpeque Office

Ottawa Office:
318 Justice Building
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ont
K1A 0A6

Phone: 613-992-2406
Fax: 613-995-7408
Email your Ottawa Office

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