Moving in the right direction

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MP Report, Scott Armstrong

This month I will discuss my new role as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Employment and Social Development, and the recently announced Canada Europe Free Trade Agreement.

I would first like to recognize the commitment made by Peter MacKay, the minister of justice, to bring in not only the Victims Bill of Rights this fall, but also a commitment to bring in cyber-bullying legislation.

Soon after my election in 2009 we suffered several tragedies in Cumberland Colchester and the Musquodoboit Valley where young people took their own lives due in part or wholly because of abuse they suffered online. This is an issue I have worked on with both the minister of public safety and justice and was proud to have both in our riding for roundtables where this issue was at the forefront of the discussion. 

I am proud to say that our government will be taking strong steps to pass legislation to deal with this issue and also would like to acknowledge the work done on this by all three parties in the provincial legislature. It is the responsibility of all levels of government to ensure that our most valuable resource, our children, are protected from this serious threat.

Last Tuesday I was sworn in to my new role as parliamentary secretary to Jason Kenney, the minister of employment and social development. This position allows me to work, not only to develop policy and pass it into law as a legislator, it also allows me the opportunity to assist the minister implement legislation as a member of the executive branch. 

After less than a week in this role I realize that it will be an exciting and rewarding new opportunity where I can make a positive contribution in support of Cumberland Colchester Musquodoboit Valley. I believe Atlantic Canada is on the verge of a period of growth where, if we make the right decisions, we can rebuild our economy. Training and education will be a paramount piece of this effort.

The largest challenge we face at employment and social development is the mismatch between people looking for work and employers who are struggling to find trained employees to hire for current job vacancies. This skills deficit is only going to grow in Atlantic Canada as we begin to see initiatives like the Lower Churchill Falls hydro project, the federal shipbuilding contract and the East-West pipeline all gearing up over the next decade. In order to meet this challenge we will need hundreds of people who have certification in the skilled trades and this is why the throne speech had an emphasis on apprenticeships and student grants for the training of a modern workforce. 

Canada continues to lead the G-7 in terms of job growth and we have now seen our unemployment rate drop to its lowest level since the start of the recession. Even with this positive news, far too many Canadians are still unemployed. The announcement this week of the Canada Europe Free Trade Agreement is great news for Canada and particularly Atlantic Canada due to our geographic location on the east coast. This agreement triples the number of countries that we have free trade agreements with and allows our exporters to compete on a level playing field in a market of over half a billion people. It is estimated that this will lead to more than 80,000 net new jobs and over $12 billion in additional GDP.

Canada is a vast country full of natural resources and a relatively small population. Trade deals such as the Canada Europe Free Trade Agreement are pivotal to the future success of our country.  When ratified, Canada can boast of being one of the few countries who have comprehensive trade deals with both the U.S.A. and Europe. These are arguably the two most attractive markets on the planet. The U.S. has recently started similar negotiations with Europe and the fact that we are now in the ratification stage will give our exporters a leg up on their U.S. competitors when accessing this massive new market.  

The focus of our government continues to be on the economy and we are moving in the right direction. Canada is a great country with a bright future. My new role allows me the opportunity to focus on how we adapt the current suite of training programs and support for the next generation of the Canadian workforce so that young Canadians will have the training they need for the jobs that are currently available and those that are going to exist in the future.

I look forward to this challenge as I believe if we implement the right employment training and economic policies we can build a robust economy, not only across the country but here in Atlantic Canada. With European free trade, shipbuilding and energy projects the potential to rebuild the Atlantic economy is right in front of us and our challenge is to seize this opportunity and build a stronger and long lasting period of growth in the East.

As always, if you have questions or concerns, do not hesitate to contact my office toll-free at 1-888-752-0552; visit my website at www.scottarmstrongmp.ca; add me as a friend on Facebook; or follow me on Twitter @Armstrong_MP.

TAGLINE: Scott Armstrong is the parliamentary secretary to Minister of Employment and Social Development and MP for Cumberland – Colchester - Musquodoboit Valley.

Geographic location: Atlantic Canada, Musquodoboit Valley, Lower Churchill Falls Europe U.S.

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