A Co-operative Response to Challenge
Publication:
The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 20 Apr 1989, p. 341-351


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McDougall, Barbara, Speaker
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Text
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Speeches
Description:
A new labour force development strategy for Canada. The need to devote our resources actively to equip Canada's labour force for the emerging challenges of the 1990s and beyond. Making tough choices. Impacts on regions, industries, and individual workers. Remarks directed to the private sector, both business and labour, seen as crucial to the redirection of Canada's economy. Some comments on Canada's illiteracy rate (24%) and responsibilities of the provincial education systems. A redirection of $230 million to the U.I. (unemployment insurance) fund to increase training activity in the private sector through co-operative programs. A new approach focussed on the individual and on the community and on the specific training needs of that individual in his or her own community. Effects of Canada's changing demography. The need for adjustments by workers and businesses to modify their behaviour to meet new challenges and realities of the future. A variety of solutions. An increase in Canadians who are working. A continuum of programs and skill-development initiatives to help meet the needs of the changing labour market, workers, and employers. The need for a co-operative response to competitive challenges. Necessary legislation on unemployment insurance to effect changes. The intention to consult with business, industry and labour and all provincial governments and interested parties.
Date of Original:
20 Apr 1989
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English
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The speeches are free of charge but please note that the Empire Club of Canada retains copyright. Neither the speeches themselves nor any part of their content may be used for any purpose other than personal interest or research without the explicit permission of the Empire Club of Canada.
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Full Text
A CO-OPERATIVE RESPONSE TO CHALLENGE
Barbara McDougall, Minister of Employment and Immigration
Chairman: A.A. van Straubenzee President

Introduction:

In Greek, Barbara means "mysterious stranger:' But there is no mystery surrounding her success. She has worked tremendously hard to be where she is today, surrounding herself with some of the best people. Strangercertainly not to me and not to Canada this month.

On a recent campaign trail through St. Paul's, one of my friends accompanied Barbara campaigning through one of her toughest areas on a pouring, rainy night. My friend told me that, with a smile on her face, "she dances into somebody's kitchen, often remembering faces and names, and she makes people feel fantastic. She's incredible. Her campaign office was flooded with people. Her enthusiasm is contagious and her concerns are genuine. Campaigning with Barbara is fun. She believes in what she's doing."

Some people tend to think that success comes easily. Not so. Hard work -a little luck -a lot of pain-more hard work-support of friends -a few steps back - some steps forward and finally people start to see your visions and give you their support and you are then able to make giant steps. Once you have made it, staying there is often the toughest part. Barbara is often noted for saying: "Start early, run fast, finish first:" Well, she has finished first and she has managed to stay there for some time and has made a great impression in Ottawa.

Brought up in Leaside, Barbara attended Leaside High where she graduated and was on the Students' Council. She then went into architecture at the U of T. She knew she was going to be a builder. A builder she is - she may not be able to draw lines, but she can certainly draw conclusions.

At U of T she switched to Political Science and Economics. At university she was vice-president of the Students' Administrative Council. Upon graduation from university Barbara was an economic analyst at the CIBC and a market research analyst with the Toronto Star. Out West, Barbara was Manager of Portfolio Investments in Edmonton from 1974-1976 and was an Investment Analyst specializing in forest products with Odlum Brown Ltd. in Vancouver.

Back in Toronto, Barbara became a Vice-President with A.E. Ames and Co. A.E. Ames merged with Dominion Securities and slightly more than a year after the merger, Barbara was a casualty. It was a devastating blow to her - she knows what it is like to be out of work. But what a comeback! From 1982 until her election in 1984, Barbara was the Executive Director of the Canadian Council of Financial Analysts and a government affairs and financial consultant.

She was elected to Parliament in 1984 to represent St. Paul's and was later appointed to the Cabinet as Minister of State (Finance). In June of 1986, she was appointed Minister of State (Privatization) and Minister Responsible for the Status of Women. Now she is Minister of Employment and Immigration and once again is making headlines.

All growth depends upon activity. There is no development physically or intellectually without effort, and effort means work. Work is not a curse; it is the prerogative of intelligence, the only means to manhood (or womanhood), and the measure of civilization. Calvin Coolidge.

Ladies and gentlemen. Someone who I have respected for many years. The Hon. Barbara McDougall.

Barbara McDougall:

Thank you Tony for the introduction that only an old friend could give. Losing a job is a little bit like losing elections, I think. Some of us have been through it one way, and some of us in other ways, but I have been hired and I have been fired, and, believe me, hired is better. And I feel the same way about elections, so I am very proud to be here once again as the Member of Parliament for St. Paul's, and as the Minister of Employment and Immigration. You will be glad to know that I arrived from Ottawa this morning on time, those of you who are using the airport, but it didn't matter because you can't move on the 401 anyway. At least on the plane you can drink. Last week I announced, as Tony has pointed out, an important new labour force development strategy for Canada, and, as expected, the initial flurry of response dealt with selected measures in this new package, the inevitable Canadian response of personalizing every clause and every comma down to the last penny. Once this first wave of response was completed, the discussion began to turn to the real essence of our new strategy, and that is the need to devote our resources actively to equip Canada's labour force for the emerging challenges of the 1990s and beyond. That is after all what we were elected to do; to ensure that this country is in every way ready for the exciting reality of a new decade. But that does mean making choices, sometimes tough choices, as we shall all find out in considerable detail next week when my colleague, Michael Wilson, reveals the government's financial plan of action to meet these challenges.

There is a story of Father Divine, the historic con man of the cloth in the 1930s, when he was put on trial and convicted for using the mail to defraud. In sentencing, Father Divine stood up and told the judge: "I'm warning you, you send me to jail and something terrible is going to happen to you." Father Divine, of course, was sent to prison, and a week later, by sheer coincidence, the judge had a heart attack and died. When the warden and the guards found out about it in the middle of the night, they raced to Father Divine's cell and woke him up. "Father Divine," they said, "your judge just dropped dead of a heart attack." Without missing a beat, Father Divine lifted his head and told them: "I hated to do it." Now Michael, of course, is no con man, and in fact I'm not even sure he will have hated to do it, but all of us in all of our various ministries have been looking at the issues that we must address to make Canada more competitive, more confident and retain that sense of compassion that we have for each other.

In our own area that meant asking some of our own tough questions. How can Canada compete when our private sector spends on training only half of what its U.S. competition spends, and considerably less than what many other countries spend? How can we give our workers, our individual Canadians, the skills that they need to provide them with a more secure personal future, and how do we better help our less prosperous regions? Can we afford any longer to have the easiest entry into unemployment insurance of almost any western country? The answers that we have come up with are clear from the announcement that I made last week. Today, I would like to tell you a little more about it because it is a key element of our overall plan to help Canadians prepare for the future.

Much of the debate to date has centred on impacts - impacts on regions, impacts on industries, impacts on individual workers and little discussion has emerged on the key element of the strategy, and that is to enlist all of you in the private sector into playing the dominant role in the training of Canadian workers. Now, why do we believe that the private sector is the key to the future success of the Canadian workforce and the Canadian economy? Our philosophy as a government has centred on this premise since we came to office in 1984. It is behind privatization, deregulation, tax reform, free trade. All parts of the same agenda for revitalizing and redirecting the Canadian economy to meet the requirements of increased globalization and rapid technological change.

We did not expect any or all of these initiatives to be popular with everyone. In many ways they redefine roles and responsibilities, and they challenge vested interests, but as a country, we had become beholden to the great myth of the 1960s that governments should and can do everything. A soaring national deficit, a mortgage on our children and grandchildren, double-digit inflation, double-digit unemployment were our rewards for 15 years of following this illusory course. Unfortunately, while running the country's finances into the ground, the government at that time was also conditioning a generation of Canadians to the concept of the State as a benevolent, omnipresent entity. That kind of conditioning is difficult to reverse and it is often painful, but my concern today is not with the individual Canadians who were led down this garden path of more, more, more by a government cynical enough to believe that loyalty can be bought.

I want to direct my remarks to the private sector, business and labour, both of whom are crucial to the redirection of Canada's economy, and who have a responsibility to do so in the present reality. I have been asked why I expect business to provide training when under similar conditions business turned another crucial element for our future, the research and development tax incentives, into the largest tax scam in Canadian history. Some of you may remember, and we have all paid dearly for that misdirection not only in dollars, but in our loss of competitive edge. We simply cannot afford as a nation to subvert our own ability to compete in the future. It is an irrefutable fact that in the world we now live in, it is people who drive the economic growth, brain power and skill power, and that our future growth will depend more than ever on a highly skilled, flexible, labour force and in individual terms, satisfactions and the rewards which go with better job qualifications.

A 24-per-cent illiteracy rate - 4.5 million people - is unacceptable in 1989 and, yes, we are going to have to address this from our perspective at the federal level. We have commenced that process already but, I would point out, that adult illiteracy is a direct result of a failing education system which is clearly a responsibility of provincial governments and this means of course that we at the federal level have a strong responsibility, but we are not the only players. Business and labour as well as the provinces, as well as the federal government, must become greater partners in this process, and we are prepared as a government to play a role as a facilitator to a national skills development advisory board that we will establish to provide guidance to us on the needs of the private sector and on the practical solutions to training problems. We are also redirecting $230 million in the U.I. fund specifically to increase training activity in the private sector through co-operative programs. Our intent is to stimulate an additional $1.5 billion each year from the private sector for training from now until 1994. Now, as portfolio managers will know, that is what we mean by leverage, and it is clearly in the best interests of business and labour that we do this. We know this approach will work because it is working already. In 1985 our government radically changed the approach to employment programs. We were faced at that point with a mishmash of more than 40 ineffective make-work programs, and we replaced those with the Canadian Job Strategy because we believe not in making work but in making jobs, and our new approach was to focus on the individual and on the community and on the specific training needs of that individual in his or her own community. It also recognized that bureaucrats in Ottawa are not the people who should be determining what local markets need. That comes best from local people in a local economy. The labour force development strategy will build on the Canadian job strategy model by bringing the private sector - business and labour - together to set the course for each sector and for each industry.

In other words, the people in this room are those who will make up the labour force in the 1990s. There is no new influx of women as there was in the 1970s, and the baby boomers, as we all know, are already there. Canada's demography is changing. We are becoming an older society and consequently we can no longer rely on younger workers to protect older workers from the effects of technological or economic change. People are not going to be served by a system such as the one that I entered (not quite so colourfully as Tony described it), but I am a person who has had three careers with absolutely no training for any one of them, and floundering one's way to success is no longer on, not at any level. It is our job as a society to make sure that people of the future have access to training, and our new strategy recognizes this phenomenon by providing $100 million in new programming for older workers to complement existing programs because we know that older workers have a particular problem.

From an equity standpoint, the strategy recognizes that older workers, like others, do want to work and they should have access to income protection as others do-and past age 65.I should add that this means of course the bad news is that they will continue to pay premiums after age 65 as well since they chose to remain in the labour force. Women have also changed the face and the faces of our labour force, and we have recognized the importance of their participation - not just their participation, but their contribution to our economic wellbeing by providing not only additional training, but also other supports through enhanced maternity, parental and sickness benefits. Now, contrary to the traditional view in the business community, these supports are essential to maintaining a highly trained and effective Canadian workforce in the 1990s.

Women represent 52 per cent of the people of this country, they represent 52 per cent of the talent in this country and they are key to our competitiveness in the future, most particularly when business is now in a position where it must utilize the best human resources at its disposal. Now, I keep telling Canadian women to raise your sights, to go for the good jobs, and don't settle for second best. I say the same thing to Canadian business, raise your sights, go for the good employees and don't settle for second best and many of the best will be women.

Recognize that the labour market in Canada is changing, that we must treat each individual Canadian worker as a vital national asset, men, women, older workers, young workers, minority groups, everyone, and it is my view that business will ignore this at its peril. I have asked Canadian workers to modify their behaviour to meet the new challenges and the realities of the future. Businesses must adjust along with them and that is the key adjustment needed in Canada today, the two working side by side. l believe the time is right to do that. Canada is a complex country. In some areas we have unacceptably high rates of unemployment, while in other areas, jobs go begging for applicants and, paradoxically, even in some of the high unemployment areas, there are job vacancies because of skill shortages in that area. Clearly, facing such a problem, there must be many solutions, not just one. That is why we have rejected the sweeping proposals of some previous studies. We cannot solve all of the labour market's problems in one fell swoop through government intervention. That is why we have chosen an existing mechanism, the Unemployment Insurance Program, which already has some training programs, to redirect passive programs to more active uses, and even this approach has been done with moderation. That has been our approach all along, to point people in the right direction and, inevitably, they will find the right way, the right way for them as individuals, and as communities, and as businesses.

We have been accused for example of merely shifting people from Unemployment Insurance to welfare. Nothing could be further from the truth. First, past experience has shown that when entrance requirements for Unemployment Insurance have been increased - and this is not the first time this has been done, the Liberals did it in 1977 so we have some behavioural evidence - people did, in fact, adjust their behaviour. In the worst case they got the extra weeks of work necessary to qualify for Unemployment Insurance and, in the best case, obtained permanent employment. Second, recognizing that people need skills if they are to break out of the "welfare trap;" we have provided an additional $50 million to train social assistance recipients. When this money is matched by another $50 million from our Canada Assistance plan, and with matching provincial funds, we are making an additional $200 million available to improve employment prospects for 20,000 more social assistance recipients. That is in addition to the $600 million already available in an existing program I might add, that has already had an encouraging success rate. It was started by this government in 1986 and puts a lie to the myth that people on welfare do not want to work, because they do. We recognize that Canadians want to work and we are doing something positive and constructive about it.

Since we were elected in 1984, 1.4 million more Canadians are working, so we believe that we do have the tools, we have put them in place and we don't have to take a back seat to anyone on this subject. Clearly the best income security for any Canadian worker is a job, and the second best form of income security for any Canadian worker is the skills and the training necessary to obtain those jobs and to obtain good jobs. Income support is important, but we must return to the principle that it is a temporary measure and not a permanent remedy. In fact, a fundamental principle of our strategy is to establish a whole continuum of programs and of services - federal government labour market programs and skilldevelopment initiatives from business and the provinces and a co-ordinated effort to deal with the problems of unemployment skill upgrading, literacy, and permanent and secure jobs. These are necessary steps, we believe, to help meet all of the needs of the changing labour market, the needs of current workers, of employers and those Canadians who are wishing to find a productive place in our labour market because we all know that the status quo is no longer an option, not for any of us.

The competitive challenges we face are real, and they demand a co-operative response, a national effort that mobilizes all of our resources and all of our talents. To continue to grow and prosper in the 1990s and beyond that into another century, Canada needs first and foremost a dynamic, flexible and highly skilled workforce. Individual Canadians need to know that they have a role to play, a productive role that will produce for them a better life. Now, as we proceed through this, I will be introducing the necessary legislation on unemployment insurance in Parliament later this spring. In the meantime, I will continue to be consulting with business and industry and labour and all the various provincial governments and interested parties on how we can best prepare Canadians for the changes to come. And I would of course welcome your support and your intervention - some of my old friends in this room today - because your input and your co-operation are essential if we are going to build on our recent economic growth and achieve our great national objectives. By working together we ensure that Canada is poised to take advantage of a period of unprecedented opportunities and to meet those objectives of competition, competence, strength, compassion and, at the end of the day, sovereignty.

Thank You.

The appreciation of the meeting was expressed by Maj.-Gen Bruce Legge, Partner, Legge and Legge, Past President of the Empire Club of Canada and The Empire Club Foundation.

Mr. President, Madame Minister, Miss Sarah Band, distinguished guests and fellow members of the Empire Club of Canada. I think that the president was very astute in describing Barbara McDougall as a runner who starts early, runs fast and wins. In these new days of Glasnost and Perestroika, it was reported in Pravda that when General Chairman Gorbachev was in New York, he and President Bush had worked out together and they had a little run at the end, a little race, and Pravda reported that Gorbachev came second and Bush came second to last. So, you can see that in all of these fine things to do with philosophy and politics, the reporting means a lot.

I think that we were very fortunate today to have the minister describe her objective - which is to strengthen Canada by having a skilful, determined, educated and hardworking workforce. If you look at a few relative statistics since the turn of the century, Canada has always had about the same population as California and right now they are both at about 25 million. So the problems for the minister in dealing with unemployment and skills are infinitely harder in such a diverse and enormous country as Canada. The other thing is this minister has had to make very hard decisions.

Consider the decision to have no amnesty for people who are here illegally. The easiest thing would be to have amnesty, but that would be completely against the Canadian concept of peace, order and good government, absolutely against what Canada stands for. So, instead of that, she has evolved a system for adjudication that will move through the refugees very quickly, and that is not turning Canada into a police state. The Mounties motto is not "They always get their man;" but "Maintien Le Droit," they maintain the law. So, you have to have, as this minister clearly stated, a determination to improve and at the same time make it fair by observing the law.

I was touched, minister, by your mention of compassion. Canadian law is full of equity and the Latin concept is "Justicia et humanitas;" justice with humanity. If you have justice without humanity, you have no justice. So it is very important that you keep talking and giving the leadership for the kind of system that you envisage.

I thought this morning that the Financial Post paid you a real tribute by having one of your more eloquent critics take up a whole page, and he ended up his criticism by saying that unemployment insurance is designed to have people bounce back, as on a trampoline, to paid employment. As I understood your speech today, that is exactly what you are attempting to do. So, if you can turn unemployment insurance into an institution for improving Canada as your speech indicates, then you will have done a great service to Canada. I never thought that I would find that a minister of the Crown reminded me of Mae West, but in this instance it has nothing to do with the figure and form and joie de vivre of Mae West, but has to do with her philosophy. If you are turning unemployment insurance into a great institution, she said the same about marriage. She said: "Marriage is a great institution, but I ain't ready for an institution yet."

So, thank you minister for coming here and stating policy, and talking common sense, and reminding us of justice and humanity. We are indebted to you.

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A Co-operative Response to Challenge


A new labour force development strategy for Canada. The need to devote our resources actively to equip Canada's labour force for the emerging challenges of the 1990s and beyond. Making tough choices. Impacts on regions, industries, and individual workers. Remarks directed to the private sector, both business and labour, seen as crucial to the redirection of Canada's economy. Some comments on Canada's illiteracy rate (24%) and responsibilities of the provincial education systems. A redirection of $230 million to the U.I. (unemployment insurance) fund to increase training activity in the private sector through co-operative programs. A new approach focussed on the individual and on the community and on the specific training needs of that individual in his or her own community. Effects of Canada's changing demography. The need for adjustments by workers and businesses to modify their behaviour to meet new challenges and realities of the future. A variety of solutions. An increase in Canadians who are working. A continuum of programs and skill-development initiatives to help meet the needs of the changing labour market, workers, and employers. The need for a co-operative response to competitive challenges. Necessary legislation on unemployment insurance to effect changes. The intention to consult with business, industry and labour and all provincial governments and interested parties.