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.)
Report stage (House), as of Dec. 2, 2009
(This bill did not become law.)
This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.
This enactment amends the Income Tax Act to give every new graduate who settles in a designated region a tax credit equal to the lesser of
(a) 40% of the individual's salary or wages,
(b) $3,000, and
(c) the amount by which $8,000 exceeds all amounts paid for a preceding taxation year.
The purpose of this 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.
Income Tax Act
Private members' business
March 30th, 2009 / 11:40 a.m.
Jean-Yves Roy Haute-Gaspésie—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia, QC
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Toronto for speaking in favour of the bill. I would like to comment on the parliamentary secretary's statements. Earlier, he said that the bill did not make sense and had some major shortcomings, such as the fact that it includes Manitoba and Saskatchewan. I have news for the parliamentary secretary: maybe he should check his facts, because rural regions in Saskatchewan and Manitoba are the ones that are really suffering. Their population is dropping faster than anywhere else in Canada.
Contrary to what the parliamentary secretary said, things are not as bad in Quebec as they are elsewhere in Canada. Take Newfoundland and Labrador, for example: right now, working people are fleeing the province, headed for Toronto and the western provinces.
Unfortunately, the same is true of New Brunswick: people are moving to the western provinces. The Government of New Brunswick has made an effort to bring workers back home and stem the flow of people toward large urban centres at the expense of the province's population, towns and regions.
First, as my colleague from Laurentides—Labelle said earlier, we introduced it before. And the bill was supported by the House and by all parties, except the party in government, which does not seem to understand the meaning of regional development. The whole model of regional development has to be re-examined. In a time of crisis, especially, it is vital to ask questions and to realize that the established economic model undergoes cycles of major crisis every 10, 20 or 30 years.
Perhaps the entire model must be re-examined. Bill C-288 gives us a fine opportunity to examine where we live in this country and the governments' desire to have us live throughout the country, including in the regions.
I have heard the government talking, for example, about wanting to ensure Canada's sovereignty in the far north and especially further north than at the moment, because we must defend our territory. In the meantime, the government is allowing the regions and areas communities to be drained of their inhabitants. Rural communities are almost being left on their own.
What is the effect of the exodus of young people to major centres or more populated regions?
First, this is an entirely unique phenomenon. The regions deemed to be losing inhabitants are significantly short of skilled labour. By skilled labour, I mean doctors, nurses, teachers and other skilled people. There is a desperate need for skilled labour in very specialized areas. Unfortunately, the regions do not manage to meet these needs. In Quebec, thanks to a program of tax credits for young graduates returning to the regions, we have managed, despite problems, not to stop the exodus, but to slow it.
I have seen another phenomenon. The parliamentary secretary was speaking earlier about unfairness to major centres in that it was totally unfair for a graduate to get a tax credit for going to live in a region when a graduate from the same university not moving to a region did not. I have news for him. In order to attract doctors, among others, to the regions there are programs all across the country to encourage doctors to settle in the regions. Some provinces have even gone so far as to lower the salaries of doctors who remain in the city compared to salaries for those who move to outlying regions.
I think this is an excellent example of an initiative that has allowed the regions to seek out the minimum level of services they needed. I said the minimum level, because the problem is still not completely solved, and it will take some time before that can be done. Perhaps more rigorous, draconian measures will be needed in order to fill the positions available in the regions.
We must bear in mind that the regions also pay for training people and, like the rest of the population, people there are entitled to the same services under Quebec's health and social services legislation. That legislation clearly establishes that everyone is entitled to the same level of services to the extent possible and based on the ability of governments.
Over the past 30 or 40 years, the regions have seen an exodus to big cities. This exodus has devitalized rural communities and all the regions. Unfortunately, governments have not done enough to respond to this exodus. I would like to talk about the regional development model. We should think about what Scotland and the Nordic countries like Norway are doing to populate the land and encourage people to return to the regions. I am referring to deconcentration, but not decentralization. Decentralization has been used in the past to allow governments to offload the services they no longer wanted to provide. Although they offloaded services, they did not necessarily transfer any money to all the provinces. People are therefore a little skeptical when it comes to decentralization. Additional powers have been dumped on the regions, although they were not necessarily given the financial resources or money they needed to fulfill their new responsibilities.
The model used in the past was a model of concentration. Governments concentrated their administration in the capitals. Unfortunately, this model is still prevalent. Our review of cuts to the federal public service since 2004 indicates that 80% were made in the regions. While the number of public servants was increasing significantly in Ottawa, federal jobs in the regions were being eliminated. I am not saying that it is any different at the provincial level. I do not have any statistics, but I am convinced that, in the provinces, there is a strong tendency to concentrate power in each capital. Today, with the communication techniques at our disposal, it would be very easy to deconcentrate responsibilities to the regions. It is not just a question of decentralizing but also of deconcentrating the government administration so that public servants have as much contact as possible with the population of Canada and Quebec.
If we continue with our current approach to regional development, it is obvious that we will not be able to stem the regional exodus and to have people settle in the regions as they should. In some countries, the deconcentration of power has lead to the economic revitalization of the regions. If a funding department is moved from the capital to a region, there is a strong possibility that companies will establish themselves near the department in question because it gives money to businesses.
To conclude, in my opinion, it is very important for this bill to pass. This could be a first step for the federal government. It does not run counter to what is happening in Quebec and could even be complementary. It is up to the each of the provinces to identify the regions it wants to benefit from the bill when it is adopted.
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 / noon
Guy André Berthier—Maskinongé, QC
Mr. Speaker, I have the pleasure to conclude this time for debate on Bill C-288, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (tax credit for new graduates working in designated regions). During this hour, some of my colleagues and some members of the other parties have said some interesting things about the issues in rural areas. Unfortunately, I was listening to the Conservative member opposite, and I am very sorry to hear him talk that way about rural regions.
In Mauricie, the region of Quebec I represent, 80% of the people are rural dwellers. There are many economic activities in rural areas. Members are aware of the issues related to forestry, tourism—more and more people from urban areas are coming to rural areas to enjoy fishing and hunting and stay at resorts—farming, which is important to rural communities, and manufacturing, which has developed over the years.
We have to provide tools to help rural communities develop. Quebec has a number of organizations, such as our local development centres. There is also the CFDC, which is under federal jurisdiction and plays an important local development role in these communities. We have also set up youth employment centres, which are based in rural communities and responsible for stimulating the economy and making sure that young people can find work in the community. A lot has been done to make sure that our rural communities maintain their economic vitality. Lately, people have been moving to urban centres. A few years ago, rural communities were in decline and losing population. We had to deal with two problems: an aging population and the exodus of young people.
A lot is being done. People have been working hard together to achieve incredible results. In Berthier—Maskinongé, RCMs are working with socio-economic groups and regional development councils. All of these organizations are working together for local development. They are setting up socio-economic development projects that respond to regional needs, interests, resource potential and people. Development tools introduced by the Government of Quebec, such as the Pacte rural, have provided rural municipalities with a development budget.
The policies set out in this bill would encourage students to return to the regions—
Income Tax Act
February 5th, 2009 / 10:20 a.m.
Johanne Deschamps Laurentides—Labelle, QC
moved for leave to introduce Bill C-288, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (tax credit for new graduates working in designated regions).
Mr. Speaker, it is an honour for me today to lend my voice to my colleague from Chicoutimi—Le Fjord and to table in this House Bill C-288, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (tax credit for new graduates working in designated regions). I feel privileged that my colleague has placed his trust in me. I am also proud to continue with the work accomplished in the last session, when he tabled a similar bill.
Anyone who is familiar with the terrible economic and social situation in Quebec regions will find this bill to be a breath of fresh air. From Lac-Saint-Jean to Mont-Laurier to Gaspé, La Tuque and Amos, all these Quebec regions will benefit from the hard work of the Bloc Québécois.
I invite all my colleagues who are concerned about the future of youth in the regions of this country to vote for this bill.
(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)