Bill C-207 (Historical)
An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (tax credit for new graduates working in designated regions)
This bill was last introduced in the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session, which ended in September 2008.
This bill was previously introduced in the 39th Parliament, 1st Session.
Robert Bouchard Bloc
Introduced as a private member’s bill. (These don’t often become law.)
Second Reading and Referral to Committee
(This bill did not become law.)
- June 12, 2008 Passed That the Bill be now read a third time and do pass.
- June 12, 2008 Passed That Bill C-207, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (tax credit for new graduates working in designated regions), as amended, be concurred in at report stage with further amendments.
- June 12, 2008 Passed That Bill C-207 be amended by restoring Clause 1 as follows: “1. The Income Tax Act is amended by adding the following after section 118.7: 118.71 (1) The definitions in this subsection apply in this section. “base period” means the first 52 weeks of the aggregate of all periods each of which is a period during which the individual ( a) holds qualifying employment; and ( b) ordinarily performs the duties of the qualifying employment at an establishment of the individual’s employer situated in a designated region or is ordinarily attached to such an establishment. “designated educational institution” has the meaning assigned by subsection 118.6(1). “designated region” has the meaning assigned by section 3 of the Regional Development Incentives Act. “qualifying employment” means an office or employment that the individual begins to hold in the 24-month period that follows the date on which the individual successfully completes the courses and, where applicable, the internships leading to the awarding of a recognized diploma, or the date on which the individual is awarded a recognized diploma that is a master’s or doctoral degree under an educational program requiring the writing of an essay, dissertation or thesis, if ( a) the individual begins to perform the duties of the office or employment after January 1, 2007; ( b) at the time that the individual takes up the office or employment, the establishment of the individual’s employer at which the individual ordinarily performs the duties of that office or employment, or to which the individual is ordinarily attached, is situated in a designated region; and ( c) the knowledge and skills obtained during the individual’s training or educational program are related to the duties performed by the individual in connection with the office or employment. “recognized diploma” means a degree, diploma or attestation awarded by a designated educational institution. (2) For the purpose of computing the tax payable under this Part by an individual for a taxation year, there may be deducted an amount equal to the lesser of ( a) the amount that is 40% of the aggregate of all amounts each of which is the salary or wages of the individual for the year from qualifying employment and attributable to the individual’s base period; and ( b) the amount by which $8,000 exceeds the aggregate of all amounts each of which is an amount that the individual is deemed to have paid to the Receiver General under this section for a preceding taxation year. (3) For the purposes of paragraph (2)( a), an individual who was resident in a designated region in Canada immediately before the individual’s death is deemed to be resident in a designated region in Canada at the end of December 31 of the year in which the individual died.”
- June 12, 2008 Passed That the Motion proposing to restore Clause 1 of Bill C-207 be amended by deleting all the words in paragraphs 118.71(1) and (2) and substituting the following: “118.71 (1) The definitions in this subsection apply in this section. “base period” means the first 52 weeks of the aggregate of all periods each of which is a period during which the individual ( a) holds qualifying employment; and( b) ordinarily performs the duties of the qualifying employment at an establishment of the individual’s employer situated in a designated region or is ordinarily attached to such an establishment.“designated educational institution” has the meaning assigned by subsection 118.6(1). “designated region” has the meaning assigned by section 3 of the Regional Development Incentives Act. “qualifying employment” means an office or employment that the individual begins to hold in the 24-month period that follows the date on which the individual successfully completes the courses and, where applicable, the internships leading to the awarding of a recognized diploma, or the date on which the individual is awarded a recognized diploma that is a master’s or doctoral degree under an educational program requiring the writing of an essay, dissertation or thesis, if ( a) the individual begins to perform the duties of the office or employment after January 1, 2008;( b) at the time that the individual takes up the office or employment, the establishment of the individual’s employer at which the individual ordinarily performs the duties of that office or employment, or to which the individual is ordinarily attached, is situated in a designated region; and( c) the knowledge and skills obtained during the individual’s training or educational program are related to the duties performed by the individual in connection with the office or employment.“recognized diploma” means a degree, diploma or attestation awarded by a designated educational institution. (2) For the purpose of computing the tax payable under this Part by an individual for a taxation year, there may be deducted an amount equal to the lesser of ( a) the amount that is 40% of the aggregate of all amounts each of which is the salary or wages of the individual for the year from qualifying employment;( b) $3,000; and( c) the amount by which $8,000 exceeds the aggregate of all amounts each of which is an amount that the individual deducted under this section for the purpose of computing the tax payable, or that the individual is deemed to have paid to the Receiver General under this section for a preceding taxation year.”.
- June 12, 2008 Passed That Bill C-207 be amended by restoring the title as follows: “An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (tax credit for new graduates working in designated regions)”
- May 9, 2007 Passed That the Bill be now read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Finance.
Income Tax Act
Private Members' Business
March 25th, 2010 / 6:15 p.m.
Robert Bouchard Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC
Mr. Speaker, first, I want to once again thank the hon. member for Laurentides—Labelle for introducing and vigorously defending the bill which, as we all know, had reached the Senate before the October 2008 election was called. I am also taking this opportunity to thank Liberal members who have spoken so far, whether to address the first bill, namely Bill C-207, or this one, Bill C-288. I also want to thank NDP members.
The tax credit is for a graduate who, in the 24-month period that follows the date on which he successfully completed his studies, begins to hold a job in his area of specialization, in a region that is facing economic and demographic difficulties. The bill provides for a tax credit of up to a maximum of $8,000 to a young graduate, for a minimum of three years.
The purpose of this legislation is to curb the exodus of young graduates towards large urban centres, to encourage them to settle in regions to undertake their professional career, and to hire, for the regions' benefit, a skilled workforce.
The tax credit applies to an individual who, in the 24-month period that follows the date on which he successfully completed studies leading to the awarding of a recognized diploma, begins to hold a job in his area of specialization, in a designated region where he is going to settle.
At second reading, some members pointed out that the bill should be complemented by a comprehensive regional development plan. I certainly agree with this view, but Bill C-288 is a first step that will allow our regions and our regional businesses to hire and keep a skilled workforce.
I am very grateful to all those who have expressed their support here for this legislation, and to those who came to support us at various events, including the Fédération étudiante universitaire du Québec (FEUQ), the Fédération étudiante collégiale du Québec (FECQ), the Fédération de l'âge d'or du Québec (FADOQ), the Liberal member for Honoré-Mercier, and the NDP member for Churchill, who were present at the press conference organized by the Bloc Québécois to support these measures. All these stakeholders expressed their support for this concrete and effective incentive, which consist in giving a tax credit to young graduates who settle in a designated region to work there.
A similar tax credit implemented by the Quebec government has proven its worth. The program was established in 2003, which means that it is almost in its eighth year. It helps new graduates settle in resource regions, the description used by the Government of Quebec. In the first year of the program, 2,000 young people applied for the tax credit; this number has since risen to 9,000. Some regions are beginning to feel the positive effects of this program. In my region, in Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean, migration is still negative but has almost reached zero.
Therefore, I am asking the members of this House to help our rural areas and to help our regions experiencing economic difficulties and losing population by supporting our youth. We must stop the population drain and the exodus of youth. These are two important issues in our regions. We must help develop processing industries by providing our businesses with access to the skilled labour force they need.
No one in the House would be surprised to hear me say that the regions of Quebec, and a number of regions in other Canadian provinces, are at the end of their rope and have been since long before the economic crisis. I am thinking about northern Ontario and British Columbia, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island. Several parts of these regions have been hurting for years. It goes without saying that a tax credit to encourage young people to settle or even stay in a region would be greatly beneficial.
Our regions are going through a real crisis and the Conservative government is not paying any attention. I hope that this time the members opposite will have a little more humility and sensitivity and listen to the cry for help coming from the regions and the young people who live there.
I am especially disappointed in the Conservative members from Quebec and even more so in the two ministers from my region of Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean, who are very familiar with this measure that was implemented by the Government of Quebec in 2003, as I was saying earlier.
Again, I am calling on the Conservative members from Quebec, more specifically the hon. members for Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean and for Jonquière—Alma who, I repeat, are well aware of the importance of and benefits derived from this legislation and this program, to pass along the message within their caucus about the positive aspects of such a measure.
For those members who do not realize, the Government of Quebec is not the only one that has adopted such programs. The Saskatchewan provincial government has had a similar program for a few years, which gives a credit of up to $20,000 over a period of seven years.
The Parliamentary Budget Officer's report mentions five Canadian provinces—Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, Manitoba and Saskatchewan—that have introduced incentive measures to attract young people to regions that are experiencing economic difficulties or that are losing young people.
The bill addresses a very serious problem. Many regions are in a period of economic distress, which of course is only increasing the trend of youth out-migration. Indeed, the further we go from the main centres, the more the population is declining. Quebec, like Saskatchewan, has taken measures to stem the tide. As I mentioned earlier, other Canadian provinces have adopted incentive measures.
The exodus of youth and the depopulation of the regions are not new phenomena. However, for decades, they were offset by high birth rates. With the drastic decline in the birth rate, the challenge today is to keep these young people in the regions and to attract others to come and settle there. Time is of the essence because the trend has continued since the 1990s and the situation is worsening in several areas of Quebec and Canada.
At present, the population is declining in 6 of the 17 administrative regions in Quebec, including the Lower St. Lawrence, the North Shore, Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, Gaspé and Mauricie. The regions need young people, especially skilled young people. With youth out-migration, the population ages faster and regions become less vital. The exodus of skilled individuals reduces the average education level of the people left behind, which undermines regions' ability to innovate. These factors affect the potential for development and could send the regions into a downward spiral that will ultimately destroy them. It is a downward spiral that cannot be stopped.
The shortage of skilled workers in the regions is not solely a matter of training. In fact, the young people from the regions are no less educated than those in the big cities. The problem is rather that young people from the regions do not live there any more. There is an out-migration of young people and skilled workers.
I would like to remind the members of the House that when the Standing Committee on Finance studied this bill, an amendment was added to ensure that this program was truly directed to the regions. Metropolitan regions with a population of more than 200,000 are excluded.
I would like each member of the House, particularly those in the Conservative Party, to take the time to study this bill closely so that they can see the positives in this measure that would help the regions and young people.
Income Tax Act
Private Members' Business
May 15th, 2009 / 1:50 p.m.
Robert Bouchard Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC
Unfortunately, she left before the member for Sault Ste. Marie finished speaking, but if she had listened to his whole speech, I believe she would have seriously reconsidered her own position.
I would also have liked it if the Conservative members had listened more carefully to the speech by the member for Sault Ste. Marie and had distanced themselves from their Conservative ideology. I believe that if they had been more attentive, we would have more support for this bill, at least I hope so.
I would like to thank my colleague from Laurentides—Labelle for agreeing to introduce the bill, which gives a tax credit to new graduates working in regions with demographic and economic problems.
I have to say that my colleague from Laurentides—Labelle and I have visited a number of regions of Quebec in the past two months. Everywhere we went—Chicoutimi, Forestville, Matane, Trois-Pistoles, Baie-Comeau, Rimouski, Rouyn-Noranda, Val d'Or, Mont-Laurier, Maniwaki and La Tuque—we heard the same message: this sort of measure is needed to help young people and the regions.
I will come back to the speech given by my Conservative colleague from Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar. She raised a number of points. First, I have to say that if the member had consulted her people in Saskatoon, she would have realized that the Government of Saskatchewan has just introduced an identical program to help graduates who settle in economically depressed regions with declining populations.
The member also said that the Regional Development Incentives Act needed to be updated because it was out of date. I agree that this act should be updated, but it is not the role of this bill to do that. It is up to the government.
She also said that this program would cost $100 million a year and that it was far too expensive. Hon. members will recall Bill C-207. The Conservatives who spoke to that bill said it was far too expensive. They were talking about $600 million at the time. I see they have finally got their estimates down to more reasonable figures.
To give my colleagues of the House some context, I will give a brief outline of the bill. The tax credit is intended for students who, in the 24 months following the successful completion of their studies, accept employment in their area of specialization in a region that is facing economic and demographic difficulties. The bill would give an income tax credit of up to $8,000 to recent graduates for a minimum of three years.
In the 2006 election, I promised to introduce legislation to help young people who want to settle in the regions. I am talking about Bill C-207, which I introduced in April 2006. It was supported by a majority of members of the House at all readings and even made it to the Senate. Unfortunately, when an election was called in the fall of 2008, the bill was stopped in its tracks.
I am therefore very pleased to see that the bill is being debated again here today in this House. I am also happy because it gives me the opportunity to clarify a few things. By voting against the former Bill C-207, the Conservatives denied young people access to a tax credit they could have used as of this year's tax return. I was especially disappointed by the Conservative members from Quebec, particularly the two ministers from my region who, incidentally, are very familiar with this measure, since the Quebec government has had a similar measure in place since 2003.
Once again, these members have proven that those who are members of governing parties in Canada tend to close their eyes and forget about standing up for the people they represent. This time, I hope that Conservative members from Quebec, especially the members for Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean and Jonquière—Alma, will pass along a message within their caucus explaining the benefits of such a measure.
It is a surprise to no one in this House when I say that the regions of Quebec, as well as several regions in other Canadian provinces, are in the midst of an economic crisis that began long before the current crisis struck. I am speaking of northern Ontario and northern British Columbia and of several large regions in decline in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island. These regions have had economic woes for many years. It goes without saying that implementing a tax credit to encourage young people to live in the area, or to remain there, would be very beneficial.
Our regions are experiencing a real crisis that the Conservative government is completely ignoring. I hope that, this time, my colleagues opposite will show a little more humility as they listen to the cries for help from the regions and the young people living there.
Quebec is not the only province to adopt such a program. Following the speech by the member from Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, I stated that the provincial government of Saskatchewan instituted a similar program a few years back.
Many regions are in a period of economic distress, which of course only increases the trend of youth out-migration. Indeed, the further we go from the main centres, the more the population is declining. Quebec, like Saskatchewan, has taken measures to stem the tide. The exodus of youth and the depopulation of the regions are not new phenomena. However, for decades, they were offset by high birth rates. With the drastic decline in the birth rate, the challenge today is to keep these young people in the region and to attract others to come and settle there. Time is of the essence because the trend has continued since the 1990s and the situation is worsening in several areas.
At present, the population is declining in 6 of the 17 administrative regions in Quebec, namely Abitibi-Témiscamingue, the Lower St. Lawrence, the North Shore, Gaspé and the Magdalen Islands and part of Mauricie and Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean. In fact, in my region, Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean, young graduates about to marry or start a family leave every day. A region that loses its young people is condemned to certain death, in the medium or the long term. To make matters worse, the departure of one young person often sets off a chain reaction and many more people leave their regions.
Young people who leave their regions to go study in Quebec City or Montreal end up making connections and friends and developing a network there. As such, it is more than likely that, once they have completed their studies, they will want to settle in their new community rather than return to their home region. That is what happened in my own family. There are five children in my family. My three sisters, my brother and I have 11 children all told, all of them born in the Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean region. Now, only three of them remain in my region, while eight have gone to live elsewhere.
In closing, I would like the members to bear in mind that this bill has two goals: stem the outgoing tide of young people and bring skilled workers back home. This tax credit would go a long way toward developing the regions.
Income Tax Act
Private Members' Business
May 15th, 2009 / 1:30 p.m.
Kelly Block Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, SK
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to engage in debate on Bill C-288, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (tax credit for new graduates working in designated regions), a proposal to grant preferential tax treatment to a chosen few graduates in designated regions who take up qualifying employment for a limited period, after graduation.
I would like to remind the House that this proposal is nearly identical to one considered in the last Parliament, known as Bill C-207, a proposal, I further note, that was soundly rejected by the majority of all party finance committee after it conducted a detailed examination only last year.
Why did the committee reject this proposal? It was more than likely due to the numerous problems associated with this legislation, problems I will briefly outline.
First, it would basically provide preferential tax treatment to recent select post-secondary graduates working in a designated region, regardless of whether there would be a surplus or a shortage workers with their particular skills.
Second, what this proposal would classify as economically depressed designated regions is informed by another piece of legislation that has not been updated in nearly three decades. This would lead to both Saskatchewan and Manitoba, which have among the lowest unemployment rates in Canada, to be comically classified as “depressed regional economies”.
Is Manitoba, with an economy that has remained so strong that it is launching television ads aimed at attracting workers from other parts of Canada, a depressed region?
Is Saskatchewan, with the lowest unemployment rate in the country and labour shortages, a depressed region?
Listen to what the Canada West Foundation had to say about Saskatchewan's economy:
Not only did Saskatchewan lead Canada in economic growth last year, it is also in solid contention for doing the same this year. In fact, many analysts expect the economy of every other province but Saskatchewan to shrink this year....In 2008, Saskatchewan created more jobs than ever in its history. Things were so hot that some industries faced labour shortages, to the point that Premier Brad Wall visited job fairs outside the province to try to attract new workers.
Is Saskatchewan a depressed region? Clearly, the answer to that question would be an emphatic “no”.
Moreover, a proposal based on the assumption that both provinces are economically depressed and in need of special assistance would not only be ineffective, it would be preposterous.
Third, there is no guarantee that new graduates attracted to a designated region would remain there once their eligibility for the credit expired.
Fourth, Bill C-288 would be tremendously expensive, representing $600 million annually in lost tax revenue. Is $600 million for a proposal that would likely not result in any meaningful economic activity and likely not create a single job efficient? Again, clearly, the answer is an emphatic “no”.
Fifth, this proposal would be exceedingly unfair in that it would grant preferential tax treatment to a select few and nothing for others. For example, a new graduate working in Saskatchewan, one of the outdated depressed designated regions, and earning around $33,400 would not pay a penny of federal income tax for three years. Whereas some in Ontario, not included in the nearly three decades old list of designated regions, would pay almost $2,700 per year in federal income tax.
Without a doubt, this proposal is fatally flawed and one that the House should reject. Not only is it costly and ineffective, it would do nothing to ensure Canada generates the highly-skilled workers we need to succeed in the global knowledge-based economy and meet the needs of employers across Canada.
A skilled, educated and adaptable workforce will greatly influence Canada's ability to compete in a global marketplace and ensure we remain a prosperous country. That is why our Conservative government has remained focused on helping provide the highest quality education and skills training.
One of our Conservative government's ongoing commitments has been to strengthen post-secondary education to enable more Canadians to pursue studies and better link the skills and expertise of students to real world needs.
We have not merely been talking about that. We have taken real action through significant new investments to make that happen. These include: an additional $800 million per year to the provinces and territories through the Canada social transfer to strengthen post-secondary education; support that will reach $430 million annually for a new consolidated Canada student grant program designed to increase post-secondary participation and, ultimately, graduation; $205 million in new annual funding to granting councils to support research and development at Canadian universities, creating new training opportunities for graduate students; close to $200 million per year in new tax measures to help students and families with the costs of college or university, including the textbook tax credit, a full exemption for scholarship and bursary income and making the registered education savings plan more flexible and generous; and, measures to directly support academic excellence by supporting the following: the creation of an additional 1,000 Canada graduate scholarships awards for outstanding Canadian masters and doctoral students; the establishment of 500 new prestigious scholarships to attract the top Canadian and international doctoral students to Canadian institutions; and, the creation of new practical research and development internships for graduate students at Canadian companies to provide students with hands-on experience and understanding of the research challenges of the private sector.
Our Conservative government has also taken action in support of skilled trades. These include: a new apprenticeship job creation tax credit, which provides eligible employers a tax credit equal to 10% of the wages paid to qualifying apprentices in the first two years of their contract, up to $2,000 per apprentice per year; a new apprenticeship incentive grant that will provide $1,000 per year to apprentices in the first two years of an apprenticeship program in one of the nationally recognized red seal trades; and, a new tools tax deduction of up to $500 to tradespeople for the cost of tools in excess of $1,044 that they must acquire as a condition of their employment.
Also in budget 2009, we provided even further opportunities for short and long term skills upgrading. This included a targeted program for apprentices and new summer youth employment initiatives, such as $15 million to the YMCA and YWCA to place young people in internships in not for profit and community services organizations. As YMCA Canada noted, the latter initiative will “assist young people to gain valuable employment skills and mentor civic engagement”.
We have also recognized that a fair and competitive tax system is fundamental to ensuring ongoing economic prosperity, providing incentives for youth to obtain further skills and knowledge and fueling entrepreneurship and investment. That is why we have slashed taxes nearly $220 billion since forming government in 2006.
Unmistakably, our Conservative government has a comprehensive and long term plan to address current economic challenges while laying the groundwork for future prosperity. We cannot be sidetracked and we cannot afford to be derailed by expensive and ineffective proposals such as Bill C-288, a proposal that would do nothing to further regionalize economic development or lead to job creation.
Bill C-288 is a poorly targeted and unfair tax measure that is constructed on an outdated piece of legislation that has not been updated or revised in nearly three decades. That would absurdly classify Saskatchewan and Manitoba as depressed economic regions despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
I am unable to support this proposal and would encourage the House to similarly reject it, as the all party finance committee did after examining it in-depth last year.
Income Tax Act
Private members' business
March 30th, 2009 / 11:50 a.m.
Mike Wallace Burlington, ON
Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure today to stand in the House and debate private member's Bill C-288. I want to make one comment before I begin. My discussion in the next 10 minutes will be focused on the bill in front of us. It will not be all over the place, as was the discussion of the member from the Liberal Party a few minutes ago.
The proposal in Bill C-288 is to grant preferential treatment for a select group of new graduates in designated regions. If the bill becomes law, it would set out different regions that selected new graduates would work in and they would receive a benefit. As previous speakers have noted, this bill was originally introduced in the last Parliament as Bill C-207, where after an in-depth study that exposed the bill's numerous shortcomings it was soundly rejected by the House of Commons finance committee.
As a member of the finance committee in both the previous and the current Parliament, I can say that the bill was thoroughly discussed.
It was revealed in the last Parliament that there were a number of major problems with that bill. In fact, the Liberal Party members of that committee also felt the same way and had gutted the bill at that particular time.
Therefore, I was a little bit surprised when the member from the official opposition got up today and said that party was in favour of it. However, he did qualify it by saying that some people are in favour of it. Hopefully the information will get out to all their members and they will see the light of day and not support the bill going forward.
Nothing has changed in the interim. Essentially, this is exactly the same proposal as in the last Parliament, with exactly the same flaws. As a result, I and the rest of the Conservative members cannot support the bill.
As previous speakers have outlined, there are many problems with this proposal. They include the following.
While the proposal attempts to compel new graduates to settle in designated regions, it does nothing to create new employment opportunities or economic development in these regions.
On this point, all this bill does is say that an area is under-serviced or needs help. It does not create any jobs or provide any incentive for business to create jobs. It simply identifies the area. This bill would say to a new graduate that an area is underserved and it would ask the new graduate to stay there in exchange for an $8,000 tax credit. In theory, the bill would try to attract back home those people who are leaving a region that is under-serviced.
This bill does not do any of that. It does not provide young people the opportunity they are looking for.
I have two young people of my own. One will be graduating from high school this May and will be entering university in the fall to do her four years. We are from Burlington, in southern Ontario. That region will not be identified, so my daughter will not get the same benefit as somebody else in her graduating class because that person happens to be from a designated region. There is also no guarantee that they will have a job to go to, yet the taxpayer of Canada would still give them a tax credit for living there. I do not think that is accurate.
It is poorly targeted, and no particular skills or occupations are singled out. The list of designated regions is based on a list that is nearly 30 years old and outdated. For instance, it lists Saskatchewan and Manitoba as economically depressed regions.
Mr. Speaker, let us take your home province of Saskatchewan. In terms of any of the economic factors today, we are all suffering from the worldwide recession, of course, and our economic action plan is in place to address that. However, there are areas of this country that are doing better than others, and Saskatchewan is one of those areas. It is unbelievable that this bill would identify it as a designated area.
Let us take the skills and occupation aspect and consider, for example, a person who graduates with a degree in fine arts, maybe performing arts. I am a big fan of performing arts. Last Friday, we turned the sod on a new performing arts centre for Burlington, which this government has helped with $4 million in support.
However, my point is this: If I have gone through school for performing arts and want to become an actor but my area is under-serviced, I can go home to that region whether there is a job in the performing arts or not and I would be entitled to an $8,000 tax credit. It does not make any sense that the jobs are not identified. The skill sets are not identified or the occupations that they are looking for.
This is not fair to other regions. It is not fair to other graduates who are not able to attract this tax credit just because they are from a certain area or they move to a certain area.
This country was built on the mobility of labour. People moved to where jobs were available, where growth was happening. In my view, the government cannot have a law or policy that restricts the mobility of labour, that encourages a lack of mobility of labour.
I want to use my own family as an example. When I was very young, my father who was starting out in his career in his early twenties had to make a decision to move from an area of Ontario that was doing okay but was not seeing growth. There were job opportunities eight hours away, an eight-hour drive to the other side of Ontario.
My father made the decision, for the betterment of himself and his family, to make that move, to move to where the job was. That is what the country was built on. That is why people settled the western provinces. That is why there has been growth in Ontario. That is why there is growth in Newfoundland and Labrador; people are coming back to that province because there are opportunities there. People are coming to Saskatchewan these days because there are opportunities in Saskatchewan.
We cannot have the taxpayer of Canada supporting one region over another and trying to keep young people there just for the sake of saying we have young people in the area.
The member from the Bloc talked about every part of the country being deserving of the same level of service. Every graduate of a university, college or training program deserves the same level of treatment as every other graduate. That is why the bill is a flawed concept.
In the previous Parliament, this concept came forward through a private member's bill and made it to the finance committee. The finance committee, through its study of the issue, looked at all the implications of having regions, based on data that is outdated, data that is 30 years old, treating individuals differently from one province to another, from one region within a province to another, that it was just not fair, it was just not accurate, and it is just not the way that Canada has built itself up as the country we have here today.
Mobility of labour is very important to me. This approach does not look at the investments that we have been making into economic development. It is economic development that drives jobs. It is the money we have spent on organizations, whether it be on the east coast or the new southern Ontario development agency. That agency was announced in our economic action plan that was just passed in the House and we are hoping the spending has happened through the other place.
It is these organizations that help businesses and individuals create employment. It is the creation of employment and opportunity that will attract bright young people, the future for our country, the development of our country.
It is that type of investment by this government and by the provinces in their own economic development activities that will support businesses, support individuals by creating new jobs and creating wealth that will attract young folks.
It is not a tax credit. We will not get young people deciding to stay in one region or another because they get a tax credit. Of course they will use it because it is available, but it will not be in their decision-making aspect in terms of why they should go there.
Young people today, including the members of my own family, want an opportunity for growth. They want an opportunity to serve their family.
I cannot support this private member's bill.
Income Tax Act
Private members' business
March 30th, 2009 / 11:25 a.m.
Ted Menzies Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance
Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to contribute to the debate on Bill C-288, concerning a proposed new income tax credit that would be restricted to a select number of graduates taking employment in a limited number of designated regions.
For background, it should be noted that this bill is nearly identical to private member's Bill C-207 from the previous Parliament. In that Parliament, the all-party finance committee had an opportunity to engage in the study of that bill. After concluding that study, which uncovered a number of serious flaws, the majority of the finance committee declined to support the bill.
Like its predecessor, Bill C-288 contains serious flaws and does not merit the support of this House. Among them, it is poorly targeted. It creates unfairness in the tax system. It proposes a flawed, short-term band-aid for a long-term problem. There is a $600 million per year cost. It represents a substantial loss of tax revenue at a time of significant economic uncertainty.
One of my first concerns is that this proposal haphazardly selects regions in which new graduates would be eligible for the credit. The proposed credit would be limited to new graduates who take up work in a designated region as defined in the Regional Development Incentives Act. This term is supposed to refer to a region in which, and I quote the act, “existing opportunities for productive employment in the region are exceptionally inadequate”. The problem with using this act to define regions for this kind of tax measure is that the list of regions in it is seriously outdated. In fact, this list has not been amended or updated in nearly 30 years, October 1981 to be exact.
I think most rational people would agree that Canada's labour market has changed significantly since the early 1980s and that defining regions in this way would poorly target a proposal that is supposed to address current labour market conditions. To illustrate this point, I will draw the House's attention to the fact that the provinces of Saskatchewan and Manitoba, in their entirety, are included on that list. If we think about that for a moment, this proposal would enact legislation that would permanently label the economies of Saskatchewan and Manitoba as “exceptionally inadequate”.
Even a brief study of the state of provincial economies in Canada would quickly reveal that such a statement is ludicrous. First, both Saskatchewan and Manitoba have unemployment rates well below the current national average, with employment opportunities much stronger compared to other parts of the country. Second, both Saskatchewan and Manitoba have been recognized as the strongest economies in Canada.
For example, a March 2009 Conference Board of Canada report declared:
No province is immune to the effects of the global recession, but the momentum in the domestic economies of Saskatchewan and Manitoba will cushion the blow from the downturn.... Saskatchewan will again post the strongest growth among the provinces.... Manitoba is also in a good position to ride out the global recession.
Clearly, this is a serious failing of this proposal.
Another deficiency of Bill C-288 is its complete failure to identify the specific skill sets it is trying to retain in these designated regions. In fact the credit does not target any particular skills or professions and it is available to all recent graduates. What is the rationale for a tax credit that provides incentives to work in select regions that have ample employment opportunities and that is totally disconnected from the actual skill requirements that each and every region faces?
This leads me to yet another major concern about this proposal, namely, the unfairness that it would create in the tax system, unfairness manifested through very serious inequities in the tax system between new graduates who work in different regions. The proposed tax relief in Bill C-288 would give a select few an extremely generous tax break. Effectively, the select taxpayers qualifying for the proposed credit earning around $33,400 would be completely exempt from federal tax. On the other hand, every single other graduate earning at least $33,400 would have to pay almost $2,700 per year in federal taxes. How is that fair?
Under this proposal, two people working at similar jobs making the same salary would face completely different tax burdens because they work a few kilometres apart. Canadians expect a tax system that treats them fairly. To the average Canadian, the inequity proposed in Bill C-288 would be completely unacceptable.
Another major concern with this proposal is that it fails to provide a long-term solution to the problem that it is actually trying to address. People choose where to settle and work based on a wide range of considerations. While special tax relief for a select group of graduates may temporarily influence choices regarding where to settle and work, it is only a band-aid. What happens when they are no longer eligible for the credit?
All of this points to a significant concern about the long- and short-term benefits and the impact of this proposal. Indeed, the only thing of which we can be certain is that this proposal would be restricted to a select group of taxpayers at a very significant cost.
This brings me to my final concern with this proposal, and that is the price tag. The proposed tax credit would result in $600 million per year in lost tax revenue at a time of significant economic uncertainty. That is $600 million for a tax cut that most likely would not result in any new jobs for new graduates.
We are facing very difficult and challenging economic times that have resulted in some difficult budgetary choices. One such choice was the deliberate choice to run a short-term temporary deficit in order to provide stimulus to the economy in order to protect and create Canadian jobs. However, we understand that many Canadians, recalling the legacies of deficits past, have reservations and concerns about deficits, as they should. That is why we initiated a plan to move back into surplus as the economy recovers. We also looked to ensure that all measures undertaken during this period would provide the greatest benefit possible for the overall Canadian economy.
The Bloc's prebudget submission included this proposal that we are discussing today. We reviewed it and determined, for the reasons mentioned previously in my remarks, that it did not meet this core objective.
Instead, we pursued an economic action plan that includes significant measures, one that will boost confidence, economic growth and create and maintain jobs. This includes up to $200 billion to improve access to financing for consumers and businesses, $20 billion in personal income tax relief, $12 billion in infrastructure investments, $7.8 billion to stimulate housing construction, and much more than that.
Bill C-288 undermines this effort by advocating a flawed and restrictive proposal that will do little to promote economic growth. It is highly unlikely that a single new job for new graduates would be created.
I encourage members to follow the example of the House of Commons finance committee in the last Parliament and reject this proposal.
Income Tax Act
Private members' business
March 30th, 2009 / 11:05 a.m.
Johanne Deschamps Laurentides—Labelle, QC
moved that Bill C-288, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (tax credit for new graduates working in designated regions), be read the second time and referred to a committee.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by giving credit where credit is due. I must thank my colleague, the member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, for all the work he did during the 39th Parliament.
Bill C-207, which he introduced on October 16, 2007, was supported by a majority of members of the House at all readings and even made it to the Senate.
Now we are back with Bill C-288, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (tax credit for new graduates working in designated regions), and I promise my colleague and young people in the regions of Quebec that I am just as determined as he was to get this bill passed.
I would also like to mention the role played by the government members representing Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean—the members for Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean and Jonquière—Alma. During election campaigns, federalists like to go on and on about how the Bloc Québécois is useless and does not have any power. But in this case, my two Conservative colleagues proved to their voters that being on the side in power is always bad for the regions of Quebec.
When the Conservatives voted against the old Bill C-207, they denied young people access to a tax credit they could have used as of this year's tax return. Conservative members from Quebec proved that their party line is more important than their regions' needs.
Once again, these members have proven that those who are members of governing parties in Canada tend to close their eyes and forget about standing up for the people they represent. This time, I hope that Conservative members from Quebec, especially the members for Pontiac, Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean and Jonquière—Alma, as well as the independent member for Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, will recognize that they must put their regions' interests before their party's interests. I hope that they will support Quebec regions and the young people who live there.
It will come as no surprise to anyone in this House that the regions of Quebec, like many regions in other Canadian provinces, are in the midst of an economic crisis, and they were already struggling long before the current financial crisis hit. Northern Ontario and British Columbia, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Prince Edward Island are all regions that have been struggling economically for a number of years.
The lumber crisis that has been affecting many places for over five years now, a crisis that the Conservative government has done virtually nothing to address apart from handing out a few scraps, was the first indication of the deteriorating economic situation. Meanwhile, the auto and oil and gas industries are rolling in billions of dollars. Our regions are going through a terrible crisis that the Conservative government is completely ignoring. I can only hope that my colleagues across the floor will show a little humility this time by listening to the cry for help from the regions and the young people who live there.
The regions are in a period of economic distress, which of course only increases the trend of out-migration from the regions. Indeed, the further we go from the main centres, the more the population is declining. It feels as though Quebec is shrinking. The central regions, where people live within 150 km of Montreal or Quebec City, are faring better than the outlying regions. Some places are beginning to feel the devitalization, with the exodus of young people and the aging of the population.
Youth out-migration and rural depopulation are not new phenomena, but for decades, they were counterbalanced by high birth rates. With the drastic drop in the birth rate, the challenge now is to keep our young people in the regions and encourage even more to settle there. Time is of the essence, because this trend has continued since 2002 and the situation is getting worse in some places.
At present, the population is declining in six of the seventeen administrative regions in Quebec: Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Bas-Saint-Laurent, Côte-Nord, Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Mauricie (except for Trois-Rivières) and Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean. For residents of the Saguenay, a yellow bus filled with young people leaving the region for Quebec City and Montreal every week is the symbol of this decline. Given the statistics, I ask myself how my Conservative colleagues from this region can justify opposing Bill C-288.
My area in particular—from Ferme-Neuve to Notre-Dame-du-Laus, Mont-Laurier, L'Annonciation and Labelle—has been hit hard by the forestry crisis over the past four years.
Every day young graduates leave before they start a family. A region that loses its young people is condemned to certain death, in the medium or the long term. To make matters worse, the departure of a young person often sets off a chain reaction and many more young people leave their regions.
Young people who leave the regions to study in Quebec City or Montreal will establish ties, friendships and a network. It is more likely that, at the end of their studies, they will be more inclined to settle in their new environment rather than returning to the regions where they grew up. That is even more likely because, depending on where they came from, it is very likely that a good number of their friends have also left the region and moved to a major centre. I personally know a number of families who have been affected. The parents have quickly decided to follow their children so they will not be too far from their grandchildren. I ask you, what is left when a region loses its youth and its baby boomers?
The regions need young people, especially skilled young people. With youth out-migration, the population ages faster and regions become less vital. The exodus of skilled individuals reduces the average education level of the people left behind, which undermines regions' ability to innovate. These factors affect the potential for development and could send the regions into a downward spiral that will ultimately destroy them.
Regional economies were traditionally based on the extraction and primary processing of natural resources such as wood and ore. These sectors require a large, but unskilled and uneducated workforce. Since outlying regions have few openings for skilled workers, young people with post-secondary education often leave the regions for the city and stay there, because they cannot find suitable work in their home region. Gone are the days when resource regions could prosper based solely on extracting natural resources for primary processing elsewhere. In order to grow, the regions will have to look to technology and develop their processing industry more.
It is often said that one reason for the problems outlying regions are facing is the fact that people there do not tend to start up businesses, but this is completely false. There are as many business start-ups per capita in outlying regions as in central regions. Today, a number of entrepreneurs are looking to lengthen the production chain by marketing products made from the resources they are already using. Others are using their expertise in raw material extraction to produce specialized equipment or are creating businesses in fields that have nothing to do with natural resources, such as fibre optics in the Lower St. Lawrence, video lottery terminals in Gaspé, diamond cutting in Matane or plastic parts in Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean.
In 25 years, outlying regions' dependence on the primary sector decreased by half. There were nearly four times more processing companies in outlying regions in 2001 than in 1975. In Abitibi-Témiscamingue, only 11% of jobs were in the primary sector in 2001, compared to 24% in 1975. In Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean, the rate declined from 10% to 6% over the same period. On the North Shore, it went from 19% to 9%.
The trend is certainly real but inadequate. In terms of jobs, these companies are still not managing to recoup the revenues lost in the resource sectors. Compared with those in the rest of Quebec, processing companies in the outlying regions are clearly growing less quickly and have lower survival rates. Even though companies in the regions have certain advantages—the lower cost of land, their proximity to resources—they also face difficulties that are peculiar to them.
One of these difficulties is the lack of skilled labour. There is less of it in the regions than in the big urban centres. This is a major hindrance to the development of secondary industry and high-tech. In all the studies that have been done, many companies said they would only be able to stay in their region if they did not grow very much. So long as the business stays small, they can do the work requiring professional or technical skills themselves. If the company grows, they have to hire skilled workers and the difficulty of finding them in their region might force the company to move.
The federal government is not responsible for education and workforce training. However, the shortage of skilled workers in the regions is not solely a matter of training. In fact, the young people from the regions are no less educated than those in the big cities.
The problem is rather that young people from the regions do not live there any more. There is an out-migration of young people and skilled workers. The federal government could help solve this problem without interfering in any of Quebec’s jurisdictions. That is the purpose of Bill C-288.
I want to turn now to the purpose and effects of the bill. Its principal purpose is to attract young graduates to the regions in order to help solve two main problems: the exodus of young people and the serious shortage of skilled labour. The bill gives a tax credit to young graduates who settle in a resource region and take up a job there. According to the current wording, this credit would be 40% of an eligible graduate’s salary in his or her first year in the region, up to a maximum of $8,000.
As the Province of Quebec has shown, it is, once again, more in touch with the regions' needs and realities. In 2003, Pauline Marois, then-finance minister in the Landry cabinet, introduced a similar tax credit. Since then, the program has been very popular and has delivered excellent results. In 2003, the first year it was available, over 2,500 young people benefited. In 2004, that number rose to 10,000 young people per year and has remained at that level ever since. Over 1,200 young people have come back to Abitibi-Témiscamingue, over 1,600 to the lower St. Lawrence, over 800 to Gaspésie—Îles de la Madeleine, over 1,000 to the north shore, and over 4,000 to Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean.
The tremendous increase in the number of young people who benefited from the program during its first and second years suggests that some 7,000 young people would not otherwise be living in the regions of Quebec. That means that 7,000 young people would have taken their first jobs in Montreal or Quebec City instead of in the regions, and would have started their families in an urban centre instead of in the regions. One of the big reasons they decided to settle in the regions is Quebec's tax credit, a measure that cost the province only about $30 million out of a $60 billion budget, or about $5,000 per young person.
My colleague from Chicoutimi—Le Fjord and I toured eastern Quebec during the week of March 16, 2009, to raise public awareness concerning Bill C-288. That tour has clearly shown that this tax credit is very necessary and very welcome to the local elected officials and all the groups we met. Whether in Chicoutimi, Escoumins, Forestville, Baie-Comeau, Matane, Trois-Pistoles, Rimouski or Rivière-du-Loup, not one regional stakeholder we met with indicated any objection to this Bloc Québécois initiative. Every single one of them talked about the advantages of the tax credit put in place by Quebec and they all fervently hope that Ottawa will bring in such a tax credit. Once again, the Bloc has shown that it is very much attuned to the reality of Quebec and the relevance of the Bloc cannot be disputed.
During our tour, we met with Carrefour jeunesse emploi representatives, leaders of student organizations, mayors and municipal councillors, MLAs and MPs, representatives of local development centres, regional conferences of elected officials, chambers of commerce, unions, the UPA, representatives from youth round tables, youth homes, youth employment centres and many others, and they all expressed their unwavering support for our initiative.
In closing, I would like to ask all members of this House to study Bill C-288 carefully, and to think about the future of the regions of Quebec and Canada. The estimated cost of this measure, $270 million, is very minimal compared to the potential benefits for the future of our young people and our regions.
Tax Credit for New Graduates
Statements by Members
November 20th, 2008 / 2:10 p.m.
Robert Bouchard Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC
Mr. Speaker, during the previous Parliament, Bill C-207, which I introduced, reached third reading. The bill proposed a tax credit of up to $8,000 for new graduates working in economically troubled regions.
All members of the previous Parliament, except for the Conservatives, supported this measure designed to stem the exodus of young people and to help bring skilled workers back to the regions.
This bill will be a priority for the Bloc Québécois in the coming session. That is why I am once again asking all members of the House for their support. In particular, I am asking the Conservative members from my region to set aside their party's ideology and put the interests of young people and their region first by supporting this measure. Conservatives cannot keep ignoring the regions of Quebec.
Status of Women
Committees of the House
June 18th, 2008 / 4:40 p.m.
Nicole Demers Laval, QC
Mr. Speaker, I will respond to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Social Development by simply saying that if there really was a strategy to decrease poverty in Quebec and Canada, the Conservative government would have voted in favour of Bill C-207 to keep young people in the regions. The Conservative government would have voted in favour of Bill C-269 to give women and youth access to employment insurance. The Conservative government would have voted in favour of Bill C-490 to give seniors the right to an increased and retroactive guaranteed income supplement. And the Conservative government would have voted against Bill C-484 to ensure that women will always have access to legal and free abortion.
Mr. Speaker, as you can see, I do not need two-and-a-half minutes to respond to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Social Development because I think I have summarized the situation.
Tax Credit for New Graduates Working in Designated Regions
June 13th, 2008 / 12:10 p.m.
Robert Bouchard Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC
Mr. Speaker, today I have the honour to present a third petition about Bill C-207, which provides an $8,000 maximum tax credit over several years for new graduates working in designated regions.
As we all know, this bill was passed yesterday at third reading and is now before the Senate. This petition supports the bill, and it is my honour to present it.
Income Tax Act
Statements By Members
June 13th, 2008 / 11:15 a.m.
Robert Bouchard Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC
Mr. Speaker, yesterday, a majority of members of this House voted in favour of Bill C-207 at third reading. The members for Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean and Jonquière—Alma ignored the message from Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean and its representatives. It is deplorable that these two elected representatives and their colleagues from Quebec chose to blindly follow their party's right-wing ideology, the laissez-faire ideology the Conservatives are known for.
Yesterday, we saw proof of these members' impotence as they put their party ahead of the regions of Quebec that are in economic difficulty.
The Conservative government must now accept the verdict of the House. It has a moral obligation not to impede the bill's progress toward royal assent.
I want to thank all the people, municipalities, youth organizations and student associations who fought with me against the Conservative ideology.