Bill C-288 (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 40th Parliament, 3rd Session, which ended in March 2011.
This bill was previously introduced in the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session.
Johanne Deschamps Bloc
Introduced as a private member’s bill. (These don’t often become law.)
Committee Report Presented
(This bill did not become law.)
The House resumed from April 30 consideration of the motion that Bill C-288, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (tax credit for new graduates working in designated regions), be read the third time and passed.
Tax Credit for New Graduates Working in Designated Regions
Statements By Members
May 5th, 2010 / 2:15 p.m.
Johanne Deschamps Laurentides—Labelle, QC
Mr. Speaker, this evening we will vote at third reading on Bill C-288, which gives new graduates up to $8,000 in tax credits if they accept jobs in designated regions experiencing economic difficulty.
The Conservative members have shamelessly voted against this bill ever since it was introduced in the House of Commons.
Youth and student groups, municipalities and RCMs all agree that this kind of incentive is important because it will enhance the economic vitality of designated regions in Quebec and Canada.
Just last week, business people in the riding of Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean complained about how hard it is to recruit specialized workers for their companies. This difficulty is proof that we need incentives like a tax credit to bring our young people back to the regions.
Income Tax Act
Private Members' Business
April 30th, 2010 / 2:05 p.m.
Johanne Deschamps Laurentides—Labelle, QC
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to conclude this long debate on my Bill C-288. Next week, this House will again have to take a stand on this bill.
It has been a year since I introduced Bill C-288, which would introduce a tax credit for new graduates working in designated regions. My colleague from Chicoutimi—Le Fjord and I have travelled throughout Quebec to tell people about how this bill would benefit them. In Abitibi—Témiscamingue and Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, on the north shore, in Gaspé and in the Lower St. Lawrence, people support this measure, because it could help their region economically.
Bill C-288 has received the support of various groups and different generations throughout Quebec, including the Fédération étudiante collégiale du Québec and the Fédération étudiante universitaire du Québec, which respectively represent 40,000 and 125,000 students all over Quebec. Moreover, the Quebec Federation of Senior Citizens, which has 255 members, and the Fédération Québécoise des Municipalités, which represents 972 Quebec municipalities, have given the bill their full support. The bill also has the support of a number of RCMs, chambers of commerce and youth employment centres.
In recent debates, we have demonstrated the importance of this initiative to attract young graduates to remote regions. The bill would solve two main problems affecting these regions: the exodus of young people and the serious shortage of skilled labour.
It is important to encourage young graduates to move to the regions to start their professional careers, and to recruit skilled labour for the good of the regions. Much thought has gone into Bill C-288 so that we can eventually offer all young, eligible graduates in Quebec and Canada a tax credit. The problem with the exodus of young people is not unique to Quebec. Across Canada, economic activity has gradually moved from the so-called rural areas to the major centres. My Conservative colleague who spoke earlier said that my proposal was almost comical. This comment shows a lack of respect for provinces like Quebec, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Manitoba, which already have a tax credit similar to the one proposed in Bill C-288.
The Conservatives tried to derail the debate on this bill by grossly inflating the cost of the program. In his report of November 24, 2009, the Parliamentary Budget Officer assessed the proposal according to a number of different scenarios. I would like to clarify some of the data so that members can focus on the essence of the bill. The regions designated in this bill will be determined by the Minister of Finance, after consulting with the provinces involved.
Also, the regions will not be designated based on the number of people who would be affected; they will be based on the needs identified in these regions far from Canada's major cities. I should point out that the bill excludes metropolitan regions with more than 200,000 residents.
Furthermore, the bill must focus on areas that are far from large centres and on rural areas with low rates of urbanization that are struggling with long-term unemployment rates, an indicator of poor employment prospects.
Finally, we used economic and health regions as geographic criteria. We then used the long-term unemployment rate to determine the regions where job prospects are more difficult. Of these regions, we considered only those that had over 12% of their population living in rural areas. In total, we identified 34 health regions that met these criteria.
I am still counting on the support of my Liberal and NDP colleagues, and I also hope that my Conservative colleagues from Quebec will vote in the interests of Quebeckers.
Income Tax Act
Private Members' Business
April 30th, 2010 / 1:55 p.m.
Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak in support of Bill C-288. At the risk of losing the rest of my audience, I realize I am in competition with the great Canadian singer, Bryan Adams, who is in the lobby. I am glad to see that not everybody has disappeared, but I am glad to have them back.
This is a bill that has had a fair amount of debate. It has been through committee and is a bill that we are happy to support. It is an act to amend the Income Tax Act regarding tax credit for new graduates working in designated regions. It would give every new graduate who settles in a designated region a tax credit. The purpose of the measure is to encourage new graduates to settle in designated regions, thereby curbing the exodus of young people from those regions and promoting their economic development.
This is an age old problem. Anybody who has grown up in a rural area, lived in a rural area, recognizes that as cities develop and as facilities develop in cities, particularly in health care but not limited to health care, people are attracted to the cities. If they do not move there when they are young, because they need to further their education, children leave their local areas after grade 12 and move to the city to go to university. They form friendships there and eventually get jobs in the city, and they do not return to their homes.
Likewise, we have a problem, particularly in the west and perhaps across Canada, with people hitting retirement age who do the same. They sell their property in the country, their farms, and once again they too move to the city. Just in the space since 1970, the population in Manitoba was roughly 50% rural and 50% urban, and today, only 40 years later, the population pattern now is about 70% urban and only 30% rural, and that is continuing.
That is in spite of continuing efforts on the part of governments over the last 20 years to keep people in rural areas, to offer incentives, and to make it easier to transfer family farms from one generation to the other. It is interesting to me that most of the Conservative caucus represents rural areas. I would think that the Conservatives would be more in tune to this issue as members on this side of the House because they know the efforts we have to make to keep people living in and moving to rural areas.
In Manitoba, we have offered, and other provinces have as well, incentives to doctors to move to the rural areas. Even in the days when the member for Souris on the Conservative side was a provincial member of the legislature, we were working out programs to encourage doctors to move to rural areas, particularly doctors from Winnipeg, but also doctors that we brought in from outside the country.
We have discovered over the last 10 years that we were better off training professionals, training doctors, who actually came from those rural areas, with the hope that they would go back to their home town. We altered our strategy somewhat to encourage people, say, from Thompson to become doctors, and then move back to Thompson, because we found we had a better chance of getting them to go back and keeping them there.
The Conservatives have focused greatly on the cost of the program. There will certainly always be a cost and the question is whether the cost is justified. It seems to me to create a bit of a balance here to try to reverse the flow of graduates from the rural areas to the city, but this certainly would be justified. We could argue about what sort of provisions should be enacted and whether or not the bill has hit the spot one hundred per cent.
There is talk that the list we are going to follow for designated regions is over 30 years old. It should be simple enough for the government to update the list of regions. That is something that can be fine-tuned to more adequately deal with the problem.
In terms of the cost, this is something that has bounced around, not only with respect to this bill, but with respect to other bills in this House, too. The Conservatives have wildly inflated the cost of some bills in the past. Upon reflection and examination, when we in the opposition have also costed the government's bills, we have come up with a figure that maybe is one-tenth of the government's figure. What sort of statistics are being used to do this calculation?
Kevin Page, the Parliamentary Budget Officer from the Library of Parliament, appeared at the finance committee. He was asked about the cost of Bill C-288. As I indicated, the bill would provide non-refundable tax credits to new graduates who settle in certain regions of the country. He said that he had been drawing on the expertise of provincial governments, academics and government executives to assess the reasonableness of the cost assessment presented to the committee. There were two extremes, two diametrically opposed figures. The Conservatives' figure was on the extreme high side and the opposition's figure perhaps was a little more on the low side than it should be. I do not know. That is why he was asked to look at the issue.
As I outlined in my note, he said that the two cost estimates are based on different assumptions regarding the size of the regions that would be designated as eligible for the proposed tax credit and the propensity of new graduates to take up the new credit.
Last year the Conservatives knew that there was tremendous uptake on their home renovation tax credit program. The parliamentary secretary who is listening attentively now would say that he could not tell us what the total cost to the treasury was going to be until the end of the income tax season this year when the people who partook in the program filed their tax returns. Only then could the government tell what the renovation tax credit program was going to cost the treasury. It is true that until we actually implement the program and see how many graduates actually use the tax credit we will not know what the true cost to the treasury will be. It may be much lower than the government is suggesting.
I would advise the government to try it for a year. It could play with the designated areas. The Conservatives think that the current designations are 30 years out of date and cover the whole province of Saskatchewan and the oil sands area of northern Alberta. If they do not like that, we can always change the criteria to exclude those areas. Then based on what the uptake is, we will have a better idea over time about how this bill would work.
To reject the bill outright is absolute nonsense when there are increasing disparities between rural and urban parts of Canada. We do not want the urban and rural splits to widen. We want to lessen them. Anything that will help young graduates return to their hometowns to work in their hometowns and benefit rural Canada is something that we should be encouraging. Members should not be standing and saying that the sky is falling and that this is going to lead to terrible things, because that is not what is going to happen.
Income Tax Act
Private Members' Business
April 30th, 2010 / 1:45 p.m.
Dennis Bevington Western Arctic, NT
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to stand and speak to Bill C-288, which would give certain tax incentives to graduates who return to their regions or to rural regions across the country. In doing so, it would provide important services to those regions and the same kinds of services that people in metropolitan areas take for granted.
I live in a very rural area. My riding is slightly larger than the province of Ontario and within it we have a few people. We also had a very expanding economy in the last decade through the development of the diamond fields. Interestingly enough, as the economy expanded in the last four or five years, the population declined until we had a huge expansion in our gross domestic product.
Why was that? It was not because young people did not like living in the north. The allure of the north is big among young people across the country and there are many young people who would like to live in rural and remote areas. It was the cost of living. The cost of living in northern conditions is so high that people simply cannot make ends meet and they relocate.
We find that we replace a lot of these people with fly-in workers from across the country, from Newfoundland, from Nova Scotia, even from Ottawa here. I have sat in the airport in Ottawa and heard the talk of people around me who were headed to the Diavik diamond mines in the Northwest Territories. Right across the country, people take advantage of the economic opportunities in rural regions, but they do not live there and they do not provide continuity of service.
I lived in the north all my life and never had an opportunity to have a family doctor. I dealt with locum doctors throughout my whole life. I was lucky enough to live in a community that actually had locum doctors. Many of the smaller communities might be lucky to have locum nurse practitioners. They might be lucky enough to have a nurse in a nursing station. Many of the communities really do suffer because of the cost of living and the lack of the kinds of incentives that used to exist for living in the north.
My parents moved to the north in the fifties. Through the sixties, there were programs in place where all the costs of education for young northerners were paid. Young northerners could go to university. They could go to technical schools. They could go to colleges in the south and they would see that their costs were completely covered. It was a great system. It encouraged young people to get their education and as time went on, the governments of the region got smarter and said, “If you want to get that kind of break, rather than just giving it you, we will give you a remissible loan based on the years that you come back to the region and work there”. That system also has worked quite well.
What we are seeing with this type of program, this type of effort, is something that is actually replicated in the Northwest Territories now. It is one of the ways that we try to bring our young people back to the Northwest Territories and try to get them to work and live there.
Why is that important? It is because the north and rural areas in Canada are great revenue generators for the rest of Canada. Where are the mining industries in this country? Where is the oil and gas exploration? Where are the things that make our economy run? They are in rural areas. They are in northern areas.
Those things are so important to our economy and they are so important to the people who can live and work in those areas, and build those areas as successful places.
The mining industry estimates that it will need 80,000 new workers over the next two decades to service the mining industry. It is desperate to find people to come and work in those regions, to enjoy the opportunities that come with the mining industry and to settle and take the work there seriously.
The type of program we are offering with Bill C-288 is one example of utilizing the tax system nationally to help all the regions in a uniform fashion. We do have one program like that. It is something that I worked very hard on to get approved when I first came to Parliament. The northern residents tax deduction is an excellent program that goes right across the country and gives everyone in northern areas a tax break. If they are in an intermediate area in the northern parts of the provinces, including Conservative ridings, they are given a break on their taxes as well. That is good.
The problem with the program was it had been in place for 19 years and the real dollar amount had never changed over that time. Members can check the records. There was not much talk about this before that. When I got here, I worked very hard to get that into the mind of the government. In 2007 it agreed to increase the northern residents tax deduction by 10%. We were asking for 50%. Every organization in the north said that 50% was the only fair amount. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce came onside for the 50%.
The Conservative government realized that it had a problem. Its solution was not to offer up what was fair. It offered up a little so it could say it did it. I thank the government very much for the 10%. Everyone appreciates that. That is a couple hundred dollars a year extra in the pocket of the average northerner and the average rural person. That is great, but it was clearly not enough.
There is more work to be done there with the tax system to improve the lives of people in the regions of our country who make money for our country. The Conservative government wants to give away huge tax revenues from banks, from oil companies, from that same mining industry and from those that extract the wealth out of the country. When it wants to do that and not put money back into those regions and into the pockets of young people who want to build the region and build our country, that is sad.
It is a sad statement to make today in Parliament about the nature of a Conservative government that would stand up against this bill and against the idea of the bill. Yes, the bill has issues. These issues can be worked out. The principle of the bill is fine. What is wrong with the idea that we use the tax system to enhance the ability of people to live in northern or rural regions? What is wrong with the idea that we support Canadians in their efforts to build a better country that will be successful in the 21st century? What is wrong with the Conservatives? They cannot see past their end of their nose on this question of tax breaks.
I am glad it is Friday. I will have time to unwind over the weekend and return to Parliament with a slightly better feeling about my members on the opposite benches.
Income Tax Act
Private Members' Business
April 30th, 2010 / 1:35 p.m.
Geoff Regan Halifax West, NS
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today to Bill C-288, a private member's bill that would provide a tax credit for new graduates working in designated regions.
I will begin by commenting on the speech of my colleague from the Conservative Party. It is a little hard to imagine that a Conservative MP would want to talk about the issue of fiscal responsibility considering the record of the government.
When the Conservatives left power in 1993, they left a deficit of $42 billion and it took time and a lot of sacrifice by Canadians to overcome that problem. However, when the Liberal Party left government in February 2006, it left a surplus of $13 billion, which the present government, in less than three years, managed to turn into deficits, deficits that it started by its decisions even before the recession began.
The Conservatives want to say that the deficit exists because of the recession. The fact is that it started before that. They created, what has been called by economists, “a structural deficit” because of their decisions in the years leading up to the recession not jut because of the recession. That is a very important point when they talk about this question of fiscal responsibility, when they have no fiscal responsibility to show. They do not have a leg to stand on when it comes to that.
They react strongly to that. Obviously it stings when I say this because they know it is true and it must bother them. If they call themselves Conservatives, one would think they would be fiscally conservative, and yet we have not seen that from the government. It must be for backbenchers who may believe in that idea of fiscal responsibility. The fact that they need to defend their own government's abysmal record when it comes to the nation's finances must be discouraging. It must be frustrating for my hon. friends across the way to go from a $13 billion surplus to a deficit in such a short time is truly remarkable.
However, I will now get to the bill that we are discussing today. The idea of a tax credit for new graduates working in rural areas across this country, particularly depressed areas, is a worthy objective and it is one worth support.
Like many other colleagues here, on a nearly daily basis I try to check the obituaries in my home paper, The ChronicleHerald in Halifax, to be aware of who may have passed away or what sad news there may be that day. One of the things I also look at is the places they have come from because The ChronicleHerald is the main newspaper for my province of Nova Scotia, as my hon. friend from West Nova will attest. He will know that it shows obituaries from across the entire province.
When I look at it, I look to see what communities people are from. It is remarkable most days how many of the people whose names are there are from small rural communities around Nova Scotia. When I see that it troubles me in terms of what I know is happening in those communities as they are aging. The demographic problems in those communities are real problems and we need to find ways to encourage young people to go there. Among other things, with our aging population like those in smaller communities, people need a variety of supports. One of the most obvious ones is in relation to health care, whether it be doctors, nurses, medical technicians or physiotherapists, a whole range of health care support systems and expertise are needed in those areas.
This bill is the kind of thing that would help to encourage young people coming out of post-secondary education training with particular skills to go into those kinds of communities and provide that kind of help and service to people who need it. This is very important in terms of keeping communities alive because if they do not have those kinds of supports, then what happens? More and more people leave those areas and that is a grave concern for many hon. colleagues when they think about those kinds of communities across the country.
The other thing this brings to mind is the issue of regional development. This relates to regional development, particularly in rural areas, smaller communities, which is a real challenge. It is certainly a challenge in my region of Atlantic Canada where the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, ACOA, plays an important role.
One of the very important programs that was started back in 2000 by the previous government was the Atlantic innovation fund. The estimates just released not too long ago for 2009-10 showed that, when the Atlantic innovation fund is combined with the innovative communities fund, a total of $113 million was spent in the fiscal year that just ended.
What do we see in the budget? The government says it is going to spend a total of $19 million for both those programs next year. It has gone from $113 million for this very important area of regional development, particularly important for research and development or supporting small communities, to $19 million. That is from $113 million to $19 million. Talk about slash and burn. Talk about a lack of interest, a lack of resolve to help small communities, to help a region that needs assistance, especially during this period. That has to be frustrating for members on that side. How do they defend that?
Let us talk also about student debt. This bill really is designed, as well, to help those students coming out of university or other post-secondary institutions, like community colleges, who are shouldering debt in the range of $50,000, $80,000 or $100,000, as many are.
This is not a huge amount. It would obviously not pay off that debt in a hurry, but it would help. It is a modest incentive of between $250 and $750 per person, per year. It is not enormous for individuals but it may be enough, we hope, to help encourage young people to go to particular areas where they are needed. That makes sense to me.
The government's record in relation to students is deplorable. Think about the fact that, in the height of the recession, the government's answer in terms of students and their need for summer jobs was to cut the summer jobs program. One would think the government would have done as we suggested last year, as part of its stimulus program to get the economy going, and that is to put money into helping students get summer jobs. The government showed no interest whatsoever in doing that. To me that was unimaginable.
I find it very difficult to comprehend why the government would not choose to invest in assisting students find summer employment, when it was going to be much harder to find that in the private sector during the recession. That was a natural spot for the Government of Canada to intervene. I guess it is just that the government does not believe government should play that kind of role. But that is not the kind of thing most Canadians believe. Once again they see the government out of line with where Canadians really are.
Another important element of this bill is that it proposes a maximum community size of 200,000. One might argue about what size that should be and how we would define the regions that would apply. That is something we could certainly look at.
This legislation is going off to the Senate after this, and with the Conservatives now controlling the Senate, it probably will not end up becoming law, even though it has come to this House many times already. Perhaps it will become law in the future. Perhaps in the future there will be opportunities to make other changes.
My community is in the Halifax Regional Municipality, which has a huge geographic area and a population of 370,000, give or take a few. My community would not apply. However, that geographic area of HRM, as we call it, includes tiny areas like Ecum Secum, Middle Musquodoboit or Upper Musquodoboit that are a long way from the urban area and unfortunately would not qualify. The good news is that they are within a somewhat reasonable distance of the metropolitan area of Halifax where there is a stronger economy and the opportunity for jobs.
The opportunity is better for them than it is, obviously, for someone farther away from the major area. Generally speaking, within an hour or so of Halifax the opportunities for jobs are pretty good. There is a need for this kind of program in the farther outlying areas where it is much tougher, which is what this program is designed for. I think it makes good sense.
I know I am near the end of my time. I have lots more notes here. It is always a good sign when you have more to say, I suppose. My colleagues on the other side would probably say I said too much. I do think this bill is worthy of our support. It has a worthy objective. I hope the government itself would bring forward measures like this to make a difference in the depressed regions of rural communities of our country.
Income Tax Act
Private Members' Business
April 30th, 2010 / 1:30 p.m.
Kelly Block Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, SK
Mr. Speaker, I am happy to have the chance to implore the opposition members to reconsider their support for this costly, misguided and bad proposal by the Bloc Québécois.
We need to be clear on what this proposal would do and how much it would cost. Bill C-288 would grant a temporary special tax subsidy for a chosen few graduates being employed in any of the ill-defined designated regions. Moreover, according to the Parliamentary Budget Officer, this poorly thought out proposal could cost over half a billion dollars a year.
For anyone who has actually studied this proposal, they would quickly realize the two biggest problems with it, besides the fact that it is counterproductive economic policy. First, the conditions surrounding qualifying employment are vague, and second, the list of designated regions that would be eligible is antiquated.
With respect to qualifying employment, Bill C-288 would, in essence, provide a temporary tax subsidy to almost any recent post-secondary graduate employed in the designated regions under Bill C-288.
According to the legislation itself, the subsidy could be claimed by any graduate if, “the knowledge and skills obtained during the individual's training or educational program are related to the duties performed”. That weak and overly broad definition clearly targets no particular skill or occupation and does not even specify on what basis this would be or could be determined, the ultimate result being that any graduate would easily qualify as any job would make use of general problem solving skills naturally obtained during the course of one's education.
Likewise. they would qualify for this tax subsidy irrespective of there being an actual surplus or a shortage of workers with that particular skill. This, obviously, makes little or no sense.
With respect to designated regions, Bill C-288 selects areas where graduates would be eligible for the subsidy. Specifically, the credit would be available to any graduate taking up work in a region defined in another piece of legislation called the Regional Development Incentives Act, only excluding metropolitan areas with populations over 200,000.
Under that specific act, there is a list of designated regions that have been classified as economically challenged because “existing opportunities for productive employment in the region are exceptionally inadequate”. However, there is the catch. That list of designated regions is an actual list that has not been updated since 1981, in other words, in nearly three decades.
Obviously such an outdated list based on the Canadian economy of the early eighties has little to no bearing on the economic realities of today.
Under Bill C-288, therefore, both the entire province of Manitoba and the entire province of Saskatchewan would be designated regions declared economically challenged, save cities within the provinces with populations exceeding 200,000.
Is Manitoba, with an unemployment rate 3% lower than the national average and whose economy a Laurentian Bank economist deemed as weathering the “recession with an ease that must surely make other provinces envious”, economically challenged?
Is Saskatchewan, with an unemployment rate also 3% lower than the national average and whose provincial economy has been recently pegged by CIBC economists as the one that will “lead other Canadian provinces in economic growth this year”, economically challenged?
Plainly, no reasonable individual would call either Manitoba or Saskatchewan economically challenged or in desperate need for tax subsidies to spur job creation, promote growth or attract workers. However, that is exactly what this poorly thought out Bloc Québécois proposal would do.
Even more interesting is that under Bill C-288 another set of designated regions would include large parts of rural and northern Alberta, Fort McMurray included.
I know the Bloc Québécois members tend to ignore the rest of Canada but I am truly stunned that they would bring forward a bizarre proposal that would suggest that Fort McMurray, the heart of Canada's oil sands, is economically challenged and that its workers need tax subsidies.
For the benefit of the apparently isolated Bloc Québécois members, let me familiarize them with the situation by reading a portion of a recent article from the Fort McMurray Today newspaper, which dealt with the local economy. I will quote at length:
There's less unemployed people in Fort McMurray than anywhere else in the province....
Craig Mattern, a market information manager with the Alberta government, said....employment numbers...remained through the economic downturn of the past year....
“There's been very little movement throughout most of the year. Unemployment continues to sit at the lowest rate throughout the province at 4%...”....
...job growth in the region has been substantially helped by developing local oilsands projects but other sectors have also been contributing....
“We continue to see employment gains in the accommodations, food service industries, wholesale retail trade and shops continue to show growth. Same with actually the healthcare and social assistance fields," Mattern said.
That Fort McMurray would be classified as economically challenged should alone be enough to cause any reasonable individual to stop and question Bill C-288.
What is more, Bill C-288 is also blatantly unfair to new graduates not in the designated regions. It would create very serious inequities between new graduates who work in different regions of Canada. Under Bill C-288, two similar recent graduates at similar jobs with the same pay but working only a few kilometres apart, perhaps, would face completely different tax bills. While one new graduate would receive a tax subsidy, another one would be paying $3,000 in federal taxes to help pay for that subsidy.
Canadians expect tax fairness. For those new graduates, Bill C-288 would not meet that test.
This Bloc Québécois proposal is so flawed that it is almost comical, almost, until we realize it carries a potential price tag of over $0.5 billion. The Parliamentary Budget Officer himself reviewed the proposal for the finance committee and concluded:
Overall, assuming no behavioural change on the part of graduates and based on the foregoing assumptions, these ranges suggest that at full phase-in the program could have a cost estimate of between over one hundred million to approximately six hundred million per annum.
We know that the Bloc Québécois really does not care about adding to the national debt and that fiscal responsibility is foreign to them, but they alone cannot pass Bill C-288. They need and are getting the support of the NDP and the Liberals.
We know the NDP is notorious for being fiscally irresponsible, so its support is a given. However,, the Liberals claim they are different. They claim they are not the NDP. The Liberal leader told Canadians recently, before endorsing any new proposal that, “One of the issues we have to confront is: How do we pay for this? We can't be a credible party until we have an answer for that question.... We have to be courageous and we have to be clear on the subject. We will not identify any new spending unless we can clearly identify a source of funds without increasing the deficit.”
I ask the Liberals how they expect to account for the cost of this proposal they support so forcefully now. What taxes would they raise to offset the cost? What spending would they cut?
Unfortunately, we do not have answers to those questions. I doubt the Liberals have thought about that or even closely reviewed this proposal and the many problems with it. I say this to the Liberals: That is not credible; that is not responsible.
Without question, the government will not support this costly and poorly constructed Bloc proposal. We hope the official opposition will come to its senses and reconsider its support.
The House resumed from March 25 consideration of the motion that Bill C-288, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (tax credit for new graduates working in designated regions), be read the third time and passed.
April 20th, 2010 / 3 p.m.
Jim Flaherty Minister of Finance
Mr. Speaker, let us be clear. Bill C-288 would grant a temporary special tax subsidy for new graduates taking employment in so-called depressed regions. How are they defined in the bill? They are so poorly defined in the bill that Fort McMurray would qualify as a depressed region according to Bill C-288.
I know the Bloc leader has personal investments that he is fond of in the oil sands, but this is going too far, subsidizing Fort McMurray through a private member's bill.
April 20th, 2010 / 2:55 p.m.
Bruce Stanton Simcoe North, ON
Mr. Speaker, while our Conservative government is working to create jobs for Canadians, the opposition is finding ways to hike taxes and do more reckless spending. For example, the Bloc, supported by the Liberals and NDP, are pushing Bill C-288 that, according to the PBO, would cost over $.5 billion a year. The bill is set for third and final reading and cannot be amended.
Could the Minister of Finance please inform the House of some of the other problems with this bill?