Bill C-303 (Historical)
An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (travel expenses)
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.
Massimo Pacetti Liberal
Introduced as a private member’s bill. (These don’t often become law.)
Introduction and First Reading
(This bill did not become law.)
Secure, Adequate, Accessible and Affordable Housing Act
Private Members' Business
September 17th, 2009 / 5:45 p.m.
Christian Ouellet Brome—Missisquoi, QC
Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by congratulating the New Democratic Party on introducing Bill C-304. We do not spend enough time talking about housing, and this gives us a chance to point out, as the Bloc has often done, that the federal government has the means to make massive investments in social and community housing. That is what it is supposed to do.
Investment should add up to 1% of federal government program spending, or about $2 billion per year. That is what the Bloc has always said. However—and this is the problem with the bill—Quebec and the provinces need to be in charge of how that housing money is spent.
The federal government must respect provincial jurisdiction by limiting its role in this area to providing funding to enable Quebec to act on its priorities and special needs. Previous agreements recognize that housing falls under the exclusive jurisdiction of Quebec.
I would like to quote from a document published by the Government of Quebec, Coûts du fédéralisme pour le Québec dans le domaine de l'habitation, an analysis of what federalism costs Quebec in the area of housing, conducted by the Société d'habitation du Québec in September 1995. On page 21, it says:
Federal housing measures constitute interference in an area under provincial jurisdiction. The federal government has imposed very rigid rules for housing measures. It has also made its financial participation contingent upon a multitude of administrative rules as well as pan-Canadian objectives and criteria, making it difficult to plan interventions in a Quebec context. The presence of the federal government in this sector of activity has resulted in much administrative duplication engendering additional costs that undermine the coherence of interventions.
That was written in 1995. Nothing has changed. This bill, too, constitutes encroachment.
Quebec has the skills and the experience to take care of its own housing responsibilities. That is the point. We would be better served if we took matters into our own hands.
Quebec is calling for a transfer of all federal responsibilities for housing, provided that this be accompanied by satisfactory financial compensation in light of the criteria of fairness, sufficiency and continuity. Currently, Ottawa’s proposal is limited to offering Quebec only the administration of existing federal obligations with regard to social housing stock, which only amounts to a simple management contract. In addition, on the subject of social housing, Quebec has not obtained its fair share of federal expenditures. The Government of Quebec cannot accept this situation, no more than prior administrations were able to tolerate this. Were we to be satisfied with less than our share of financing of the federal effort for housing, this would be all the more unacceptable since Quebec's needs in this area are proportionately greater than those of the other provinces.
Bill C-304 in its current form does not respect Quebec's jurisdiction in this area. However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, if we recall that, in 2007, Bill C-303 concerning early learning and child care faced the same situation as this bill. The solution: allow Quebec to opt out unconditionally, with full compensation, as set out in clause 4 of Bill C-303. Thus, there is hope that this bill could also be amended in committee.
We are in favour of Bill C-304 being studied in committee, with one caveat: it must be amended considerably.
If Bill C-304 comes back to the House in its present form, the Bloc will not support it. The solution is to allow Quebec to opt out unconditionally and with full compensation, as was the case with clause 4 of Bill C-303, nothing less. In addition, the preamble of Bill C-304 includes the principles of housing rights that we support. However, we believe that a more thorough study should be conducted on the consequences of having these principles in the bill and on the possibility of an individual without housing turning to the courts.
Bill C-304 does, however, indicate set out the context in which this strategy must operate with specific points of action that already exist in Quebec. Consultation by the minister with provincial counterparts, which the bill advocates, will lead to subsequent procedures for settling accounts.
Under clause 3, the Minister shall, in consultation with the provincial ministers responsible for municipal affairs and housing and with representatives of municipalities and aboriginal communities, establish a national housing strategy. We do not agree with having a national strategy other than to have our share of the program funds. This national strategy is to ensure that the cost of housing in Canada does not prevent an individual from meeting other basic needs, including those of food, clothing and education.
Under clause 4(2), the minister, in cooperation with the provincial ministers responsible for housing and with representatives of municipalities and aboriginal communities, may take any measures that the minister considers appropriate to implement the national housing strategy as quickly as possible. Note that we in Quebec have the SHQ, which sets priorities. We have absolutely no desire to have our priorities set by the federal government.
The minister's powers to take the measures indicated are not dependent on the consent of Quebec. Clause 4(2) provides clearly that the minister may take any measures to implement the national strategy, regardless of the opinion of the provinces, regardless of Quebec's or the other provinces' prerogative over housing, regardless of the efforts made by Quebec and other provinces in the area of social housing, regardless of the existence of protection for renters provided by the Régie du logement du Québec and regardless of the different social choices being made in Quebec.
The intent of this bill is, in the end, to eradicate and appropriate the decision-making powers of Quebec and the provinces with respect to housing, including social housing. This is appropriating an area of jurisdiction that does not belong to it and forces Quebec and the provinces to become managers for Ottawa.
Even though Quebec is one of the few provinces to have been commended in the report by the UN Special Rapporteur because of its policy to fight poverty and because of the content of its Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms—page 10, paragraph 28—among other things, this bill ignores this reality and ignores the nation that is Quebec.
The agreement should set the conditions for federal withdrawal, including the amount and type of financial resources to be transferred. In addition, a political agreement should establish the form of compensation, namely cash transfers and tax points. Or, the agreement could require the federal government to continue its expenditures in the province concerned. The territories should also be able to avail themselves of this provision. The federal government would be required to negotiate and enter into this agreement within a reasonable time.
Rather than focusing its actions in its own areas of jurisdiction, the federal government is trying to use worthy causes to interfere in Quebec's jurisdictions in order to have the greatest possible visibility. This bill, in its current form, follows that logic.
I will reiterate that we are in favour of this bill on housing but that it must be overhauled in order to respect Quebec's jurisdictions.
Income Tax Act
February 10th, 2009 / 10:05 a.m.
Massimo Pacetti Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC
moved for leave to introduce Bill C-303, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (travel expenses).
Mr. Speaker, when Canadians are considering vacation destinations, how many of them think of Canadian destinations first? That is why I am proud to introduce a bill today that amends the Income Tax Act to make things easier for Canadians and encourage them to choose Canadian destinations.
Under this amendment, taxpayers will be entitled to deduct up to $2,000 from their income in respect of the expense of purchasing airplane, train or bus tickets for the taxpayer or the taxpayer's family members if the travel involves crossing at least three different provincial boundaries.
Promoting travel within Canada is a way to promote Canada's rich cultural diversity. If all Canadians had an easier opportunity to visit distant provinces, it would not only foster a stronger knowledge of our shared history, but would also promote a sense of unity and understanding among Canadians who otherwise seldom interact.
According to my calculations, with the additional money spent during these trips, the economic stimulus in this private member's bill would be revenue neutral for the finance department.
(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)