Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act

An Act to implement certain provisions of the 2011 budget as updated on June 6, 2011 and other measures

This bill was last introduced in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in September 2013.

Sponsor

Jim Flaherty  Conservative

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

Part 1 of this enactment implements income tax measures and related measures proposed in the 2011 budget. Most notably, it

(a) introduces the family caregiver tax credit for caregivers of infirm dependent relatives;

(b) introduces the children’s arts tax credit of up to $500 per child of eligible fees associated with children’s artistic, cultural, recreational and developmental activities;

(c) introduces a volunteer firefighters tax credit to allow eligible volunteer firefighters to claim a 15% non-refundable tax credit based on an amount of $3,000;

(d) eliminates the rule that limits the number of claimants for the child tax credit to one per domestic establishment;

(e) removes the $10,000 limit on eligible expenses that can be claimed under the medical expense tax credit in respect of a dependent relative;

(f) increases the advance payment threshold for the Canada child tax benefit to $20 per month and for the GST/HST credit to $50 per quarter;

(g) aligns the notification requirements related to marital status changes for an individual who receives the Canada child tax benefit with the notification requirements for the GST/HST credit;

(h) reduces the minimum course-duration requirements for the tuition, education and textbook tax credits, and for educational assistance payments from registered education savings plans, that apply to students enrolled at foreign universities;

(i) allows the tuition tax credit to be claimed for eligible occupational, trade and professional examination fees;

(j) allows the reallocation of assets in registered education savings plans for siblings without incurring tax penalties;

(k) extends to the end of 2013 the temporary accelerated capital cost allowance treatment for investment in machinery and equipment in the manufacturing and processing sector;

(l) expands eligibility for the accelerated capital cost allowance for clean energy generation and conservation equipment;

(m) extends eligibility for the mineral exploration tax credit by one year to flow-through share agreements entered into before March 31, 2012;

(n) expands the eligibility rules for qualifying environmental trusts;

(o) amends the deduction rates for intangible capital costs in the oil sands sector;

(p) aligns the tax treatment to investments made under the Agri-Québec program with that of investments under AgriInvest;

(q) introduces rules to strengthen the tax regime for charitable donations;

(r) introduces anti-avoidance rules for registered retirement savings plans and registered retirement income funds;

(s) introduces rules to limit tax deferral opportunities for individual pension plans;

(t) introduces rules to limit tax deferral opportunities for corporations with significant interests in partnerships;

(u) extends the tax on split income to capital gains realized by a minor child; and

(v) extends the dividend stop-loss rules to dividends deemed to be received on the redemption of shares held by certain corporations.

Part 1 also implements other selected income tax measures and related measures. Most of these measures were referred to in the 2011 budget as previously announced measures. Most notably, it

(a) accommodates an increase in the annual contribution limit to the Saskatchewan Pension Plan and aligns its tax treatment with that of other tax-assisted retirement vehicles;

(b) clarifies that the “financially dependent” test applies for the purposes of provisions that permit rollovers of the assets of a deceased taxpayer’s registered retirement savings plan or registered retirement income fund to an infirm child or grandchild’s registered disability savings plan;

(c) ensures that the alternative minimum tax does not apply in respect of securities that are subject to the election under section 180.01 of the Income Tax Act;

(d) clarifies the rules applicable to the scholarship exemption for post-secondary scholarships, fellowships and bursaries; and

(e) amends the pension-to-registered retirement savings plan transfer limits in situations where the accrued pension amount was reduced due to the insolvency of the employer and underfunding of the employer’s registered pension plan.

Part 2 amends the Softwood Lumber Products Export Charge Act, 2006 to implement the softwood lumber ruling rendered by the London Court of International Arbitration on January 21, 2011.

Part 3 amends the Customs Tariff in order to simplify it and reduce the customs processing burden for Canadians by consolidating similar tariff items that have the same tariff rates and removing end-use provisions where appropriate. The amendments also simplify the structure of some provisions and remove obsolete provisions.

Part 4 amends the Customs Tariff to introduce new tariff items to facilitate the processing of low value non-commercial imports arriving by post or by courier.

Part 5 amends the Canada Education Savings Act to make the additional amount of a Canada Education Savings grant that is available under subsection 5(4) of that Act available to more than one of the beneficiary’s parents, if they share custody of the beneficiary, they are eligible individuals as defined in section 122.6 of the Income Tax Act and the beneficiary is a qualified dependant of each of them.

Part 6 amends the Children’s Special Allowances Act and a regulation made under that Act respecting payments relating to children under care.

Part 7 amends the Canada Student Financial Assistance Act to provide that the maximum aggregate amount of outstanding student loans is to be determined by regulation, to remove the power of the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development to deny certificates of eligibility, and to change the limitation period for the Minister to take administrative measures. It also authorizes the Minister to forgive portions of family physicians’, nurses’ and nurse practitioners’ student loans if they begin to work in under-served rural or remote communities.

Part 7 also amends the Canada Student Loans Act to authorize the Minister to forgive portions of family physicians’, nurses’ and nurse practitioners’ guaranteed student loans if they begin to work in under-served rural or remote communities.

Part 8 amends Part IV of the Employment Insurance Act to provide a temporary measure to refund a portion of employer premiums for small business. An employer whose premiums were $10,000 or less in 2010 will be refunded the increase in 2011 premiums over those paid in 2010, to a maximum of $1,000.

Part 9 provides for payments to be made to provinces, territories, municipalities, First Nations and other entities for municipal infrastructure improvements.

Part 10 amends the Canadian Securities Regulation Regime Transition Office Act so that funding for the Canadian Securities Regulation Regime Transition Office may be fixed through an appropriation Act.

Part 11 amends the Wage Earner Protection Program Act to extend in certain circumstances the period during which wages earned by individuals but not paid to them by their employers who are bankrupt or subject to receivership may be the subject of a payment under that Act.

Part 12 amends the Canadian Human Rights Act to repeal certain provisions that provide for mandatory retirement. It also amends the Canada Labour Code to repeal a provision that denies employees the right to severance pay for involuntary termination if they are entitled to a pension. Finally, it amends the Conflict of Interest Act.

Part 13 amends the Judges Act to permit the appointment of two additional judges to the Nunavut Court of Justice.

Part 14 provides for the retroactive coming into force of section 9 of the Nordion and Theratronics Divestiture Authorization Act in order to ensure the validity of pension regulations made under that section.

Part 15 amends the Canada Pension Plan to include amounts received by an employee under an employer-funded disability plan in contributory salary and wages.

Part 16 amends the Jobs and Economic Growth Act to replace the reference to the Treasury Board Secretariat with a reference to the Chief Human Resources Officer in subsections 10(4) and 38.1(1) of the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act.

Part 17 amends the Department of Veterans Affairs Act to include a definition of dependant and to provide express regulation-making authority for the provision of certain benefits in non-institutional locations.

Part 18 amends the Canada Elections Act to phase out quarterly allowances to registered parties.

Part 19 amends the Special Retirement Arrangements Act to permit the reservation of pension contributions from any benefit that is or becomes payable to a person. It also deems certain provisions of An Act to amend certain Acts in relation to pensions and to enact the Special Retirement Arrangements Act and the Pension Benefits Division Act to have come into force on December 14 or 15, 1994, as the case may be.

Part 20 amends the Motor Vehicle Safety Act to allow residents of Canada to temporarily import a rental vehicle from the United States for up to 30 days, or for any other prescribed period, for non-commercial use. It also authorizes the Governor in Council to make regulations respecting imported rental vehicles, as well as their importation into and removal from Canada, and makes other changes to the Act.

Part 21 amends the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act to clarify the legislative framework pertaining to payments under tax agreements entered into with provinces under Part III.1 of that Act.

Part 22 amends the Department of Human Resources and Skills Development Act to change the residency requirements of certain commissioners.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Votes

  • Nov. 21, 2011 Passed That the Bill be now read a third time and do pass.
  • Nov. 16, 2011 Passed That Bill C-13, An Act to implement certain provisions of the 2011 budget as updated on June 6, 2011 and other measures, {as amended}, be concurred in at report stage [with a further amendment/with further amendments] .
  • Nov. 16, 2011 Failed That Bill C-13 be amended by deleting Clause 182.
  • Nov. 16, 2011 Failed That Bill C-13, in Clause 181, be amended (a) by replacing line 23 on page 206 with the following: “April 1, 2012 and the eleven following” (b) by replacing line 26 on page 206 with the following: “April 1, 2016 and the eleven following” (c) by replacing line 29 on page 206 with the following: “April 1, 2020 and the eleven following”
  • Nov. 16, 2011 Failed That Bill C-13 be amended by deleting Clause 181.
  • Nov. 16, 2011 Failed That Bill C-13 be amended by deleting Clause 162.
  • Nov. 16, 2011 Passed That, in relation to Bill C-13, An Act to implement certain provisions of the 2011 budget as updated on June 6, 2011 and other measures, not more than one further sitting day shall be allotted to the consideration at report stage of the Bill and one sitting day shall be allotted to the consideration at third reading stage of the said Bill; and That, 15 minutes before the expiry of the time provided for Government Orders on the day allotted to the consideration at report stage and on the day allotted to the consideration at third reading stage of the said Bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this Order, and in turn every question necessary for the disposal of the stage of the Bill then under consideration shall be put forthwith and successively without further debate or amendment.
  • Oct. 17, 2011 Passed That the Bill be now read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Finance.
  • Oct. 6, 2011 Passed That, in relation to Bill C-13, An Act to implement certain provisions of the 2011 budget as updated on June 6, 2011 and other measures, not more than three further sitting days shall be allotted to the consideration at second reading stage of the Bill; and That, 15 minutes before the expiry of the time provided for Government Orders on the third day allotted to the consideration at second reading stage of the said Bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this Order, and, in turn, every question necessary for the disposal of the said stage of the Bill shall be put forthwith and successively, without further debate or amendment.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

November 21st, 2011 / 1:50 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Scott Brison Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, does the member actually think it is fair and just to have tax measures in the budget that would not benefit low-income Canadians?

Does he think it is tenable, in any way, that low-income volunteer firefighters, that low-income families with children, and that caregivers from low-income families would not benefit from these measures? If he believes it is unfair, will he work to change that and to ensure that these measures are made refundable and as such, would benefit low-income Canadian families who need them the most?

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

November 21st, 2011 / 1:50 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Chungsen Leung Willowdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, I know the member's riding quite well, as my wife is from the same riding. She lived in Kentville.

I must say that in that riding a lot of wineries are being established. Let me tell the member that if he were to speak with those people, all of them would tell him that the low tax jurisdiction is the best way to create jobs and hire people to work in those wineries.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

November 21st, 2011 / 1:50 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Jeff Watson Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, while the opposition not only continues to filibuster priorities to grow our Canadian economy, when it comes to private members' bills and the opposition's priorities, the member for Windsor West introduced a bill about labelling for cat fur in products.

I know the government's priorities. I wonder if the member can comment on the difference between the priorities that we have of growing this economy through lower taxes and other initiatives and the priorities, like labelling products that contain cat fur, from the New Democrats. Would he speak to those priorities?

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

November 21st, 2011 / 1:55 p.m.
See context

NDP

Wayne Marston Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today and speak to the third reading of Bill C-13. This is not the first time I have encountered Bill C-13. In the Standing Committee on Finance we reviewed it reasonably thoroughly and I am critic for finance in the area of pensions, although I will speak in broader terms here today.

On this side of the House, we believe that Bill C-13 is a major missed opportunity. The obvious question that follows is: What would we do in the official opposition if we were making the same decisions that the government is facing at this point?

New Democrats have been proposing job creation types of proposals such as shelving the planned corporate tax cut for January 1, 2012. This would create $3 billion to $4 billion a year that could be used in job creation. We hear from the other side that somehow this would raise taxes. No, it would not. It would be a continuation of the tax that exists at the present time.

Next, we would have offered a new-hire tax credit for every new hire who stays in the job a full year. New Democrats would also help small businesses by providing a 2% tax cut for them, to encourage job creation. The previous speaker just talked about the environment needed for small business. Considering the dire warnings from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities for at least the last five years regarding the huge deficit of infrastructure needs in this country, we would put aside moneys and set forth a plan to address the $130 billion in infrastructure deficit.

It is very important to have long-range planning and that is what seems to be missing here today. New Democrats believe Canada should be in the lead in investing in green infrastructure and renewable energy, but we lag far behind the United States and other countries. The message from this side of the House is that it is time for the government to invest now.

Workers from the boomer generation are retiring. Canada has a zero birthrate. We must invest in skills training for current workers, for those workers who will replace the ones who retire and for the future needs of this country in leading-edge industries of tomorrow.

During our finance committee's recent pre-budget hearings for the 2012 budget, I stressed the following.

Canadians are too indebted to stimulate the economy. Business is holding on to some $500 billion in cash because of the fear of another freezing of bank lending as happened in the last recession. This leaves only the governments to stimulate our economy. The government should seriously consider the options put forward by New Democrats.

At our pre-budget hearings, Glen Hodgson, senior vice-president and chief economist of the Conference Board of Canada, at one of our public meetings, stated the following:

We believe we're severely under-invested as a country in infrastructure. We haven't done the numbers, but others have, including engineers and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, and I think their number going back five years was of a deficit of about $130 billion in terms of infrastructure investment.

He went on to say:

That tells me there is huge scope for realigning government spending priorities and making sure we're making adequate investments in roads, ports, and bridges to ensure that the Montreal economy, for example, works well. Could you imagine if the Champlain Bridge actually broke...? That would be a huge loss to Montreal's GDP and to Canada's GDP.

Sylvain Schetagne, senior economist, social and economic policy department, Canadian Labour Congress, said:

Corporations benefit from the kind of infrastructure they have around them. So a bridge that is falling apart is not good.

That is an understatement. He further said:

Having enough workers who have skills and education needed in order to provide productive work is also needed.

That is in line with the suggestion that came from the New Democrats. He said:

There are other things we can do. For instance, in social infrastructure we are facing an aging workforce, and we would like to see more Canadians working... more women and more aboriginals working. There are programs such as child care that we can put in place to allow more women to go back to work, to improve labour force participation, and to make sure that companies have workers when they need them.

Glen Hodgson said:

As part of our globalization, sadly inequality is growing in most countries around the world and in Canada. The rate of growth of inequality, as we measured it, was actually greater than in the United States, which is a bit of a surprising result.

He closed his statement by saying:

We are asking questions about whether we're doing enough as a country to ensure that all Canadians are benefiting from the economic growth--

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

November 21st, 2011 / 3:20 p.m.
See context

NDP

Wayne Marston Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will remind you that I am sharing my time with the member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie.

I will continue with what Mr. Hodgson of the Conference Board of Canada said with regard to our situation. He said:

As part of globalization, sadly, inequality is growing in most countries around the world. In Canada the rate of growth of inequality as we measured it was actually greater than in the United States, which is a bit of a surprising result.

He closed his statement before the pre-budget hearings by saying:

We were asking whether we're doing enough as a country to ensure that all Canadians are benefiting from economic growth. Whether we're talking about the lack of job security or about people retiring with insufficient incomes, ongoing poverty is kind of a festering sore within an economy, and I think it does drag down your ongoing growth potential.

I reiterated that part because that is a very significant point. The poverty that has been created in the country over the last five to ten years is a horrendous burden.

I will now return to my theme of Bill C-13 being a missed opportunity. I will speak for a moment about the government's recently announced pooled retirement pension plan, PRPP. This plan shows how the government does not seem to understand, very clearly at least, the real problems facing working Canadians today.

The government in its opening remarks for the PRPP said that 60% of working Canadians have zero savings and no pension. That is one point on which we do agree. The PRPP does not begin to address this problem though. It is simply similar to an RRSP and is open to market fluctuations. In addition, the PRPP potential fee structure favours the institutions and would draw down on workers' savings in what we believe is blatantly an unfair manner.

On behalf of the New Democrats I have put forward a plan for a seven year phase-in of increases to the CPP which would double benefits in about 35 years.

We should keep in mind that the Canada pension plan lost 1% during the market downturn of the last few weeks, while the remainder of the market lost 11% during the same period. That clearly shows that the CPP is the best vehicle to secure seniors' retirement.

I will speak for a moment about the increases that we are proposing to the Canada pension plan. I want to make it very clear that they would be phased in and they would be minimal. We hear all kinds of numbers from the government side. For a worker earning $47,200 or more a year, the initial cost of gradually doubling the CPP works out to 9¢ an hour, or $3.57 a week. Hopefully, the government side is listening. For a worker earning $30,000 per year, the initial cost would be 6¢ an hour, or $2.27 a week.

It would be minimal and would allow Canadians to put money into their retirement. It would not be a huge cost to them. The reality is that otherwise they would have nothing.

I see that I am down to my last minute of debate, so I will condense my comments.

In the administrative fees for the CPP and mutual funds, there is a difference of 0.5% and 2.5% respectively. One is five times more than the other.

We need to consider carefully the need for a Canada pension plan increase to benefit those workers who today have nothing.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

November 21st, 2011 / 3:25 p.m.
See context

Blackstrap
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Lynne Yelich Minister of State (Western Economic Diversification)

Mr. Speaker, pensions for Canadians is a concern of our government. That is why we introduced the pooled pension plan.

Could the member make some suggestions as to how that plan could work well for small and medium enterprises? To make the change to the Canada pension plan that he refers there has to be an agreement with the provinces. How would it work for provinces that did not agree to work through the Canada pension plan? Has he sought their opinion?

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

November 21st, 2011 / 3:25 p.m.
See context

NDP

Wayne Marston Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

Mr. Speaker, on the first part of the question regarding the PRPP, we are not saying it is a complete failure. We are very concerned about the fee structure and how that might draw down the savings of Canadians.

With regard to the Canada pension plan, going into Kananaskis six provincial finance ministers wrote a letter to the federal finance minister endorsing an increase to the Canada pension plan. It is my understanding that Alberta was opposed to it and that Quebec was raising concerns. Clearly, a majority of Canadians supported it. We were on the right path. Instead of moving forward, the government decided to stop at that point and move to the PRPP. Essentially, that was a poor choice. It should still put together a committee with the provinces to go forward on the Canada pension plan. Hopefully it will do that in the near future.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

November 21st, 2011 / 3:25 p.m.
See context

NDP

Wayne Marston Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

Mr. Speaker, on that very topic I have introduced Bill C-331 which would move the assets of a pension plan ahead of unsecured debt in bankruptcy, insolvency and CCAA. We had the situation of Nortel and a number of pulp and paper mills across the country that closed. In some instances, the assets of the pension plan were used like a separate pool to pay down debt when in fact they belonged to workers. In addressing that, we have to change the priority in bankruptcy. In fairness, I have spoken to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance about this very issue, and what I understand from the government side is that it is going to take a fair look at this.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

November 21st, 2011 / 3:30 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am going to ask about the environment.

Recent research has shown that it is a very good thing the Montreal protocol was agreed to and implemented. Without elimination of CFCs, most of the ozone layer would be destroyed by 2065. The UV increases would be extreme with the average July noon UV index reaching about 30. A value of 11 is considered to be very high. DNA-damaging UV would be increased by 550% leading to a large increase in skin cancer.

Does the hon. member think that the government should reverse its cuts to ozone monitoring?

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

November 21st, 2011 / 3:30 p.m.
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NDP

Wayne Marston Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

Mr. Speaker, very clearly the proposed cuts are beyond the point of ridiculous. The first thing people are told when they visit Australia is to stay off the beach at certain times because Australia's incidence of skin cancer is quadruple that of the rest of the world. I agree with the member that the ozone needs to be tested. We would vote against any cuts to the monitoring of our environment.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

November 21st, 2011 / 3:30 p.m.
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NDP

Alexandre Boulerice Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, thank you for giving me the floor. I would like to thank the hon. member for sharing his time with me.

Before I begin to speak about Bill C-13 specifically, I would like to take this opportunity to express my disgust at the current gag orders and reduced debate in the House of Commons. I sometimes get the impression that, for the Conservatives, democracy comes down to 35 days of debate once every four years and that Parliament can be shut down in the interim because there is no real need for it.

In the time I have left, I would like to say that what I find unbelievably disappointing in the Conservative government's policies and decisions is the lack of certain ideas, certain concepts. Earlier an hon. member spoke about science being real. Yet the Conservatives, in their economic decisions, generally ignore other things that are also real, and those things are inequality and poverty. The Minister of Finance accomplished the amazing feat of tabling a budget where the word “poverty”, unfortunately, appears only once. But that does not mean that it is not real.

In 2009, 3.2 million people were living in poverty in Canada. As my colleague and neighbour to my left reminded us, these people are not always unemployed. Sometimes these are people who work. As we know, earning minimum wage amounts to living in poverty. Of the 3.2 million people living in poverty, 634,000 were children.

I find it unacceptable that, in a G8 country, so many people are being abandoned and we cannot take care of one another.

The Conference Board reminded us a few weeks ago that inequality is growing faster in Canada than it is in the United States. Thus, we are moving in the wrong direction. The Americans have a much more unequal society than we do, but at this rate, and with this government's neo-liberal conservative policies, we will catch up with the Americans in no time.

Equity or equality per se is not simply a good and moral objective that we are striving for; it is also more effective.

Last summer, the IMF—which is by no means a socialist organization—released a study on inequality that should be required reading for the Minister of Finance and the entire government. The IMF concluded that more equitable distribution of income translates into longer and more stable economic growth. This is good not only for people trying to get out of poverty, but also for our country as a whole, for the entire country will experience longer periods of growth with fewer upheavals. This is therefore something we should try to achieve.

An inequitable society has more social problems, more crime and more illness. Indeed, poverty has an impact on health, education, productivity, creativity and civic engagement. It is estimated that 20% of health care spending is due to socio-economic factors such as the income gap, for example.

Unfortunately, this government has chosen to give gifts to the banks and the oil companies and cut taxes for the Canadian corporations, which, generally speaking, do not need it. In the first quarters of this year, the six big Canadian banks earned $22 billion in profits. They are not the ones who need help. People who use food banks every month because they are having a hard time paying their bills and making ends meet are the ones who need help. There are solutions and, as New Democrats, we are proposing solutions to truly help workers and their families and truly help people living in poverty.

I want to talk about this government's choices to help those who deserve our respect, those who built the society we live in and to whom we owe everything: seniors.

The previous speaker talked about this. Certain things need to be done with regard to pension plans. I will come back to that. The NDP proposed lifting all seniors in Canada out of poverty by injecting money into the guaranteed income supplement. The answer we got from the Conservative government is woefully inadequate. Its solution was to come up with a parallel system. Indeed, it plans to give an extra $600 a year, or $50 a month to every senior living in poverty, but we must realize that it has created new criteria and new scales: a person is entitled to $50 a month if their income does not exceed $2,000 a year. Once a person has reached that threshold, they do not receive the full $50. They end up with peanuts, maybe an extra $4 or $5. I am not sure who this is going to help. That is not what it means to take concrete measures to help people.

There are so many things to do and so many problems to solve. There are so many people living in difficult situations that have an impact on everything from health to access to post-secondary education.

This government has decided to saw off the very branch on which it is sitting, or to dig the deficit hole. It tells us that it is a real problem that has to be solved. It should stop lowering taxes for banks and oil companies. It has created the problem itself. It is creating a situation where, in Canada, we now have a structural deficit, not a cyclical deficit. Why would they willingly give up revenue? It seems that the Conservatives are governing a state that they basically detest. All their efforts are focused on shrinking government programs, except for those involving the military and corrections, of course.

What could be done with this money that the Conservatives have voluntarily given up, and made us all give up? We could restore investment in social housing. The government's present contribution to affordable social housing is just about nil, and has been for many years. This has created extremely difficult and unacceptable situations for people. In the riding that I have the honour to represent, Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, 2,000 people are on a waiting list for social housing and 5,500 households spend more than 50% of their income on shelter.

This is not the way to build a just, strong and equitable society. These people have problems every day. They are unable to pay their bills. This creates a great deal of tension for couples, families and individuals who cannot make ends meet.

What does the Conservative government do? It gives them tax credits that are worthless if they pay no tax. It is just great to say that they provide tax credits for youth, sports associations, access to this and that, but people have to pay tax to be entitled to them. Once again, it will help some people, but not those who need help the most. We must remember this.

Also, why is it that 1.4 million people are officially looking for a job in Canada and do not have one? This number is growing. We saw that another 72,000 jobs were lost last month. Half of the people who pay into the employment insurance fund do not have access to it when they lose their jobs because they did not work a sufficient number of hours. So, they are paying a tax or insurance premium but they are not entitled to receive benefits when they find themselves in a situation when they might claim them. The NDP is arguing in favour of re-establishing greater access to employment insurance benefits. By so doing, the government would truly provide tangible help to Canadians in their everyday lives.

Investment in infrastructure is insufficient. Clearly, the government has not stopped harping about Canada's economic action plan, but it is also important to remember that, without the threat of a coalition government, the government would never have introduced this plan. The ideas came from this side of the House. We then put an end to the plan to form a coalition, but the entire deficit has not been overcome. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities estimates that Canada is currently facing a $123 billion infrastructure deficit. As a result, overpasses are collapsing and there are problems with the Champlain Bridge and others. That means that our critical infrastructure has been left to crumble: our bridges, our highways and our water systems. This creates problems and then the price must be paid. We must reinvest in infrastructure.

We must also reinvest in research and development because it is the future and Canada has a terrible record among the OECD countries in this area. By making this investment, we will be able to stimulate the economy and create good jobs.

I can give another example. What else could we do to help people? What direction could we take? Think about the cost of medications. Last year, it was estimated that three million Canadians did not take the medications they needed because they could not afford them. That is unacceptable. That is why people continue to be sick and get sicker. Then, they become a burden on the health care system because they did not have the means to take care of themselves. In Quebec we have a drug insurance plan. The NDP thinks this is a good example. With asymmetrical federalism, Quebec could maintain its public drug insurance plan, and we could still create a Canada-wide one at the federal level.

There are many other things, such as household debt, for example. The government is not doing anything to lower credit card interest rates or ATM fees. Two-thirds of Canadian workers do not have a retirement pension plan through their employers. We must improve public pension plans. We must double them. We agree with this because it is the most effective way of doing things. That is what will help the most people once they retire, when they stop working and leave the workforce. We could also talk about Internet connections in the regions or renewable energy. There are tons of things that the federal government should invest in, such as green transportation, high-speed trains or electric monorails.

There are so many things to do and, unfortunately, the only thing this government does is lower taxes. That does not work. That is not how we will help each other and create a fair and just society.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

November 21st, 2011 / 3:40 p.m.
See context

Blackstrap
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Lynne Yelich Minister of State (Western Economic Diversification)

Mr. Speaker, tax cuts were important to the 85,000 seniors who were taken off the tax rolls since we became government.

Then there is the working income tax benefit. We provided tax relief introduced in 2007 by $580 million for 2009 and subsequent years, effectively doubling total tax relief through the working income tax benefit.

I wonder if the member realizes there are programs specifically targeting those lower income people who were paying taxes? Our infrastructure, which the member talked about, we did have a vision in our building Canada fund. We took the historic step of investing $33 billion in a long-term plan. I just want to know if the member is up to speed on some of those investments that we have made?

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

November 21st, 2011 / 3:40 p.m.
See context

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Of course, Mr. Speaker. But when it is not enough, something needs to be said. When it is not working, something needs to be said. Promises were made, but they turned out to be nothing but smoke and mirrors—the increase in the guaranteed income supplement for seniors will help hardly anyone.

That is not how we will get our seniors out of poverty. Seniors will not rise above poverty if they have their promised assistance cut when they bring in more than $2,000 or $3,000 a year. It will not help people if we ignore the issue of public sector pension plans.

The Canada pension plan works. It is effective and is doing very well. More money needs to be put into it. That is how we will really help people, not by giving useless tax credits to families who do not pay taxes.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

November 21st, 2011 / 3:40 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canada participated in the eighth meeting of the Ozone Research Managers of the Parties to the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer in May 2011. There were no indications in Canada's presentation that the Minister of the Environment was planning to effectively wipe out Environment Canada's ozone group and severely curtail ozone monitoring activities.

Also notable in the presentation is the slide entitled, “An Arctic Ozone Hole”. This means that Environment Canada was aware of severe ozone depletion in the Arctic well before the government began to announce its cuts to ozone monitoring and science in June. This is a shocking revelation.

Does the hon. member think that the government should reverse its cuts to ozone monitoring?

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

November 21st, 2011 / 3:40 p.m.
See context

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for her question. We should be talking about the environment, climate change and problems with the ozone layer. Unfortunately, the Conservative government is not dealing seriously with these issues that will affect more than one parliament, the work we will do here during our four-year mandate. We are talking about the future, about our children. The Conservative government has a short-term vision. It is making decisions that will harm the people living on this planet in 10, 20 or 30 years. Cuts to Environment Canada for monitoring the ozone are troubling and worrying. Once again, the Conservatives are going in the wrong direction.