I think one of the issues that we can deal with immediately is ensuring that employees are working. And that, on the federal government side, is getting money out the door quickly for infrastructure projects. We have seen the significant commitment or promises that the Liberal government has put out for infrastructure. Less than 10% of the actual dollars have been committed to projects.
But what role the federal government wants to take in private industry, I think we have to be careful with that. I don’t think anybody wants too much intervention from the federal government into the private sector.
My colleague, Todd Doherty, Member of Parliament for Prince George, put forward a private member’s bill to establish a national strategy on mental health and PTSD. So that is in the process. We also encouraged partnerships — “Do More Ag” … an agriculture awareness group, and Farm Credit Canada have partnered together to develop a mental health awareness campaign with the agriculture sector, specifically.
[There are] two other ones that we have done — Blake Richards, the Member of Parliament for Banff -Airdrie, completed a study that he initiated at the Human Resources Committee expanding EI bereavement leave, specifically with the loss of a child. So previously, if you were going through some difficult times for a family reason, you weren’t able to access EI leave.
We have to find a way to eliminate those obstacles to allow labour mobility from one province to another. Certainly, you know, when times were booming in Alberta, we had people from across Canada… coming to Alberta and working. And oftentimes I’ve seen one contractor steal an employee off of one project and take him across the street to another and offer him more money.
Some of the things that we h ave done as a government would be the Canada Job Bank, which allows companies and potential employees to host their positions on the Government of Canada website, saying we’re looking for this or that. And employees can go there and track down jobs across the country.
We’ve increased apprenticeship loans to encourage Canadians to finish their apprenticeship. We saw that only about half of Canadians who had started their apprenticeship program actually finished for various reasons, but mainly it was because they had to go back to school. They weren’t making a wage. They weren’t able to pay for a mortgage, or for school, or food. So we put the apprenticeship loan program in place.
I think one rollout has been handled very poorly. I think a lot of the due diligence was not done, and I think that’s clear because it was done in such a rush. So a lot of companies and labour groups we have spoken to are really finding themselves in a pickle in terms of not understanding how they’re going to deal with this.
It’s not even a private versus public sector conundrum. It’s the fact that the private-sector drug testing and alcohol testing is a provincial jurisdiction. I think that’s something we should be doing is working the provinces and territories to develop a national umbrella policy on this.
I think absolutely the government of Canada, the federal government, has to play a role in this, and we have done that already with the passing of the harassment Bill C-65, which put in harassment protocols for federally regulated departments, including ourselves as members of parliament and the g vernment. So I think, absolutely, we have to take a leadership role on that, and that goes right from the top.
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