Speech: Opposition Motion — Internal Trade

June 14, 2016

It reflects the concern that we all share for middle-class Canadians. We agree that middle-class Canadians need to work in an environment where good internal trade is important for growth of the economy and growth of their careers.

My concern is the approach that this motion is suggesting, but also what is being excluded from this motion. The motion does not include labour as a key element of building our economy and the difficulties experienced by those whose work requires them to go across multiple provinces.

That is why our government is working actively with provincial and territorial counterparts to address the barriers to Canada’s internal trade. There is good will and commitment to get this job done. We look forward to achieving a renewed agreement in the near future, as was mentioned by our minister this morning.

I am happy to participate in today’s debate because it allows me to speak to an important issue related to internal trade, and that is labour mobility. We believe that Canadians should be able to work anywhere they want in Canada. That is why we are making it easier for people to move and work. We want to give Canadians the freedom to work wherever there is an opportunity in Canada.

We are working to open doors for Canadian workers. We want to save them time and money, and we are supporting them in different ways. Our government has programs that help Canadians locate jobs and learn more about specific provincial and territorial requirements for their professions. Some of our programs even help workers pay for moving expenses, and we all know that moving can be expensive.

One of the challenges we face is that some occupations are regulated differently in some provinces and territories. Accountants, architects, carpenters, lawyers, electricians, and welders are just a few opportunities. As a certified engineering technologist based in Manitoba, I was working across Canada using my certification as credentials when automating equipment. However, upon moving to Ontario, I was required to recertify.

Providing easy access to employment opportunities is also an opportunity that has to be addressed. To help Canadians navigate the job market, we have helpful online tools and services available from our job bank website. These provide Canadians with valuable information about occupations across Canada and by region, including job opportunities, requirements, wages, educational programs, and employment outlooks. Users who are often excluded from working within their profession due to local regulations can also access job market trends and news reports. These tools allow Canadians to explore careers and find out whether their chosen occupation is regulated in the province or territory where they need to work but often the barriers are not indicated.

In 2015, the Government of Canada also launched a new labour mobility portal that provides comprehensive information to Canadians who wish to move to obtain employment. Anyone can explore these possibilities, including skilled trades workers, who also need our support.

In Canada, a mobile certified skilled trades workforce with up-to-date skills is critical. That is why we are working with provinces and territories to support the interprovincial standards red seal program. This program makes it easier for tradespeople to have their skills recognized across Canada, and to move to other provinces or territories to work. The red seal program is recognized as Canada’s standard of excellence for the skilled trades.

To further support the mobility of apprentices, we are working with the provinces and territories as well as industry to harmonize apprenticeship training in red seal trades across the country. This will make it easier for apprentices to move to another province or territory, while pursuing their training.

Often there are ratios that do not act in our favour and, in fact, compete for jobs across the country, where British Columbia has a different standard from Ontario and can draw workers from Ontario.

Let us talk about apprenticeship training for a moment. Apprentices rely on a dynamic training system that includes on-the-job learning and in-class technical training. This training is provided by colleges, polytechnics, union-based training centres, and other training providers.

To strengthen the role of union-based training providers, we will provide $85.4 million over five years to develop a new framework. This framework will incorporate greater union involvement in training, support innovative approaches, and enhance partnerships with stakeholders and employers. In addition, the government offers a number of supports to help apprentices complete their training. This includes apprenticeship grants and the Canada apprentice loan.

We owe it to hard-working Canadians to provide supports that allow them to build and grow their careers, and I am proud that our government has measures in place like these to help them, but there is more. I could not talk about labour mobility without mentioning the Agreement on Internal Trade.

Canadians want to work. They do not want to be held up by differing standards from one province or territory to the next. This is not something they should have to worry about. A dentist qualified to work in one province or territory is as capable of doing a good job in another province or territory. Under chapter seven of the Agreement on Internal Trade, once someone is certified in one province or territory, that certification will be recognized by all other provinces and territories that also regulate that occupation.

The Agreement on Internal Trade is the result of a great partnership with provinces and territories, one that we want to continue to build. Through this agreement we promote the free movement of goods, services, investments, and labour within Canada. The goal is to make the domestic market open, efficient, and stable. We are working actively with provincial and territorial counterparts to address the barriers to Canada’s internal trade. This partnership with provinces and territories is essential to delivering real, positive change as we work together to foster a strong and more innovative economy.

Another example of that collaboration is the recent release of a best practice checklist by the forum of labour market ministers. This checklist, designed for regulators, outlines guiding principles and best practices for requesting information from certified workers to certify them in another province or territory. Each province and territory is unique. Each of them has its own demographic and economic situation, but we can all learn from each other and find common ground. By working together, we will maintain a competitive workforce for our country.

Our government is growing our economy, strengthening the middle class, and helping those who are working hard to join it. I am sure that everyone in this House wants what is best for hard-working, middle-class Canadians, but we are looking at different approaches. We are looking at legislation and Supreme Court challenges versus working together in a collaborative way.

Let us continue to give them opportunities by working collaboratively, and I am sure we will achieve real and positive results.

Mr. Dan Albas (Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Guelph for his speech and contribution today. I understand that a motion will not suit everyone’s unique taste, but he has actually expressed an interest by saying that if there were the inclusion of labour mobility, he would be more apt to support this.

In a report that was tabled yesterday in the other place, “Tear Down These Walls: Dismantling Canada’s Internal Trade Barriers”, it actually talks about a reference to the Supreme Court, and it says that any such reference should focus on two questions: whether sections 91 and 92 must be read into the context of section 121 and whether section 121 applies to internal trade and services.

I think that is an excellent question. If the member is really serious about supporting labour mobility, he or a member of his party could put forward a potential amendment. I would be happy to discuss it with him, and maybe we could find some resolve to bring these issues to the Supreme Court within that context.

I would like the hon. member to respond to that.

Mr. Lloyd Longfield: Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member, not only for his question but for bringing this forward today for discussion.

We are talking about two different approaches. We could continue to go down the rabbit hole of Supreme Court challenges, constitutional adjustments, and connections between sections of the constitution, or continue the good work our minister is doing in his department in delivering a collaborative result for all Canadians.

Mr. Kyle Peterson (Newmarket—Aurora, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the member wanted to elaborate on how he sees more value in the process under way now than in the process that is contemplated in this motion.

Mr. Lloyd Longfield: Mr. Speaker, in my speech I did indicate that the collaborative approach is the approach that I am favouring and that our government is favouring. I am concerned that we would make a move that might undermine existing discussions that are under way. There is a saying that when all one has is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. We are hitting a problem right now with a hammer that really is not a nail.

Mr. Richard Cannings (South Okanagan—West Kootenay, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I wanted to ask the member how sending this question to the Supreme Court, asking for more certainty around it, would exclude a program of collaboration and negotiation with the provinces and other interests.

Mr. Lloyd Longfield: Mr. Speaker, it is wonderful to hear from the Okanagan Valley on both sides. I am starting to think of wine all of a sudden. If only we could get that wine in Ontario, we would be in a different position than we are today.

I do not think that having a collaborative discussion with the provinces and all of the ministers across Canada excludes working with the Supreme Court. I am sure that part of the ministers’ discussions will be to ensure that whatever is being discussed will meet any Supreme Court requirements.