Supporting Vulnerable Seniors and Strengthening Canada's Economy Act

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

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, and income tax measures referred to in that budget that were previously announced. In particular, it

(a) amends the Income Tax Act and related legislation to allow beneficiaries of Registered Disability Savings Plans who have shortened life expectancies to withdraw more of their plan savings by permitting annual withdrawals without triggering the 10-year repayment rule, subject to specified limits and certain conditions; and

(b) amends the Income Tax Act to ensure that individuals have the legal authority in all circumstances to appeal a determination concerning their eligibility for the disability tax credit.

Part 2 amends the Excise Tax Act to introduce a 100% rebate of the goods and services tax and the harmonized sales tax paid by the Royal Canadian Legion on acquisitions of Remembrance Day poppies and wreaths. Part 2 also amends the Excise Act, 2001 and the Excise Tax Act to allow the sharing of information obtained under these statutes with countries or jurisdictions with which Canada has entered into a tax information exchange agreement.

Part 3 amends the Old Age Security Act to allow an amount to be added to the amount of benefits payable to certain low-income beneficiaries.

Part 4 authorizes payments to be made out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund for various purposes.

Part 5 amends the Auditor General Act to repeal a provision that provides for mandatory retirement.

Part 6 amends the Canada Student Financial Assistance Act to change the rules concerning interest paid by part-time students.

Part 7 enacts the Protection of Residential Mortgage or Hypothecary Insurance Act, which is designed to support the efficient functioning of the housing finance market and the stability of the financial system in Canada by authorizing the Minister of Finance to provide protection in respect of certain mortgage or hypothecary insurance contracts. It also makes consequential amendments to the National Housing Act and the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions Act and repeals Part 9 of the Budget Implementation Act, 2006.

Part 8 amends the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act to authorize additional payments to certain provinces in respect of major transfers.

Part 9 amends the Insurance Companies Act to prohibit a federal mutual company from distributing its property or other benefits to policyholders and shareholders, until the Minister of Finance has approved a conversion proposal made in accordance with the regulations.

Part 10 amends the Assessment of Financial Institutions Regulations, 2001 to modify the assessment of financial institutions and validates amounts assessed after May 31, 2001.

Part 11 amends the Financial Administration Act to permit departments to enter into agreements respecting the provision of internal support services. It also authorizes the transfer of money when a power, duty or function or the control or supervision of a portion of the federal public administration, is transferred under section 2 or 3 of the Public Service Rearrangement and Transfer of Duties Act.

Part 12 amends the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 to allow the Governor in Council to make regulations exempting vessels, and authorizing the Minister of Transport to temporarily exempt vessels, from the registration requirements in Part 2 of that Act. This Part also amends the Act to allow for the registration of a group of vessels as a fleet in the small vessel register, under a single certificate of registry and single official number.

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

  • June 21, 2011 Passed That the Bill be now read a third time and do pass.
  • June 21, 2011 Passed That Bill C-3, An Act to implement certain provisions of the 2011 budget as updated on June 6, 2011, {as amended}, be concurred in at report stage [with a further amendment/with further amendments] .
  • June 21, 2011 Failed That Bill C-3 be amended by deleting Clause 20.
  • June 15, 2011 Passed That the Bill be now read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Finance.

Supporting Vulnerable Seniors and Strengthening Canada's Economy Act
Government Orders

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

Liberal

Scott Brison Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-3, the budget implementation bill.

The government has actually not made the case as to why it is rushing the bill through this House, particularly regarding part 11 on shared services and part 7 on residential mortgages.

On the shared services issue, during my tenure as the former minister of public works, I led the way forward for reform of the Department of Public Works. At that time we were in times of very significant surplus. I recognized the importance of always respecting every hard-earned tax dollar we received from Canadians during good times and bad time, in surplus and deficit, and ensuring that we delivered the best possible services to Canadians, and got the best value for tax dollars received.

That is why we in the Paul Martin government engaged in a very extensive expenditure review process. We had an expenditure review committee of cabinet. I was part of that committee. Without reducing services to Canadians, we were able to find billions of dollars in savings within the Government of Canada.

Within the Department of Public Works alone, we were able to identify $3 billion over five years and a billion every year after that by reforming procurement. I remember the hon. Walt Lastewka, who was the parliamentary secretary to public works and the former member of Parliament for St. Catharines, helped lead that. He brought his experience as a procurement expert from General Motors to the department and helped lead some of those reforms.

We were reforming the way we managed our real estate. We used efficiencies, including outsourcing certain types of services to get better value and provide better services to our tenants, which were government departments. We were modernizing all the procurement and real estate services in a way that ultimately saved billions of dollars without reducing services. We did it by working with the public servants.

I remember the day after I was sworn in as minister, as we were going through some of these proposals and ideas, we made a decision very quickly to engage the 14,000 public servants in a discussion about the plans to modernize the department. We did not hide our plans to reduce costs and to get better value for taxpayers. We did not hide those plans from the public service. We decided to engage the public service fully.

In fact, I did town hall meetings across Canada with 1,400 people coming out to a town hall meeting in Gatineau to 400 in Halifax. We engaged public servants at the grassroots. We engaged them not simply as union members but as citizens, as taxpayers, as public servants who were drawn to the public service with a desire to serve Canadians, to do a good job and to make a difference.

What we see with the government is a lack of respect for the public service as it takes an adversarial approach to these kinds of initiatives. There is secrecy wherein it does not share some of its plans to modernize government and save costs to get better value for taxpayers. I do not think there is anybody in this House who would disagree with the idea that there are ways to get better value for taxpayers.

Our quarrel with the government is with its lack of respect for the public service and its inability, incapacity, or refusal to actually work with the public service to get those better results.

We are accustomed to this kind of approach as a Parliament. The government treats Parliament as a rubber stamp. It does not provide Parliament with the facts and the costs required for Parliament to do its work.

If we look at the way the government approaches Parliament and the way it approaches the public service, it brings back memories of the Mike Harris government.

The finance minister, the foreign affairs minister, and the President of the Treasury Board were all members of the Mike Harris government and they picked fights--

Supporting Vulnerable Seniors and Strengthening Canada's Economy Act
Government Orders

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

Liberal

Scott Brison Kings—Hants, NS

Neither has my leader. I can say that unequivocally.

During that time, they picked gratuitous fights with unions. They caused countless strikes and disruptions to government services. They left the public without services, as schools shut down and government offices closed. They really made labour relations toxic throughout the public service.

There is a need, obviously, from time to time, for a government to disagree with the unions leading the public service. However, there is an opportunity at all times to work with the public service and get better results.

Again, in this budget and Bill C-3 and part seven of it, we see a refusal of the government to share with this Parliament and the public service its plans to reduce expenditures. Either the government does not have a plan or it is hiding the plan from Canadians. We know that when it comes to Consulting and Audit Canada, the government hid its plan during the election to eliminate much of the audit capacity of the federal government. Again, this is consistent with a government of secrecy that does not want Canadians to have the facts, that does not want scrutiny by legitimate audit functions within government. This is not a cost-cutting measure but an ideological measure designed to try to shut down anyone who asks legitimate questions of the government and to try to continue to hide the truth from Canadians.

I would like to speak to the residential mortgages issue.

The parliamentary secretary, a few minutes ago, commended the Minister of Finance for his prescience in eliminating 40-year mortgages with no down payments. She neglected to tell the House that it was that minister who, just a few years before that, had introduced in his first budget 40-year mortgages with no down payments.

Supporting Vulnerable Seniors and Strengthening Canada's Economy Act
Government Orders

June 21st, 2011 / 3:35 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Scott Brison Kings—Hants, NS

Oops.

The reality, Mr. Speaker, is that it was tremendously irresponsible for the Minister of Finance to introduce 40-year mortgages with no down payments in his first budget in 2006.

The Liberal opposition raised repeatedly, day after day in this House, the housing bubble, a bubble that was mentioned earlier by Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of Canada, in reports, including an extensive report in The Economist magazine a few months ago that cited the housing bubble in Canada. When we raised questions to that effect, the Minister of Finance, the government, continually rejected our assertion that this was a problem that needed corrective action.

The reality is that it is not just a housing bubble but a personal debt bubble that we have in Canada. The average Canadian family owes $1.50 for every dollar of annual income.

Again, the Governor of the Bank of Canada, Mark Carney, has described housing as “severely unaffordable” and that we must remain vigilant against an upcoming correction.

Under the previous Liberal government, mortgage rules were prudent. There were 25-year mortgages with 5% down payment required. That was changed under the current government to 40-year mortgages with no downpayment. Then it reduced them to 35 years with a 5% downpayment, and then 30-year mortgages. We hope that the Minister of Finance will soon get back to the prudent Liberal policy of 25-year mortgage amortizations.

The government is now asking us to take on more risk, effectively. The CMHC limit was $350 billion in 2008 and that has been raised to $600 billion. Ultimately, we recognize that there could be a strong argument made for raising the limit. However, this is a very significant public policy matter. It deserves more debate than what is being afforded in this budget discussion. We should have an informed vote on it and, frankly, part seven should be introduced as a separate bill and be studied very carefully.

These are important issues, if we consider the level of debt Canadians have and the importance of real estate as the principal asset that many Canadian families rely on for their income and financial security in their retirement. I think there is a strong argument to be made that part seven should be a separate piece of legislation and be afforded more diligence in this Parliament.

Supporting Vulnerable Seniors and Strengthening Canada's Economy Act
Government Orders

June 21st, 2011 / 3:45 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Brian Jean Fort McMurray—Athabasca, AB

Mr. Speaker, I want to remind the member that he does not need to tell us again that he was a minister of public works. I think he mentioned it six or seven times. We all know that when the Liberal Party actually had more than 30 members in the House and was in government some time ago, he was a minister. I wanted to let him know that.

In relation to part 7 and part 11, shared services in particular, he mentioned that we were keeping these secret. I just want to let the member know that if he read the budget implementation act, they are mentioned there. The secret has been published. It is no longer a secret.

What is not a secret is that most Canadians would be shocked to find out that up to this point, many government departments could not share services between each other. They did not have the ability to do so.

This government, in looking at ways not to cut jobs but actually to save money for taxpayers, is looking at ways like that of sharing services.

In mentioning the prudent Liberal policy, is this particular member talking about the policy where they cut $25 billion from the most needy people in Canada, including from hospitals, schools and the elderly? Is that the policy he is talking about as so prudent?

Supporting Vulnerable Seniors and Strengthening Canada's Economy Act
Government Orders

June 21st, 2011 / 3:45 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Scott Brison Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, the member has a business background, which is commendable. He refers to that sometimes. I was referring to my background and experience as a minister of public works who actually helped lead the shared services initiative within the Government of Canada.

I dare say, although I recognize it is quite a long ways from where my priority is right now to being back in government, I think there is a strong argument to be made, and some would say, I have a better chance of being in a cabinet than the hon. member.

I would say, from having led shared services initiatives, it should not be just—

Supporting Vulnerable Seniors and Strengthening Canada's Economy Act
Government Orders

June 21st, 2011 / 3:45 p.m.
See context

NDP

Wayne Marston Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

Mr. Speaker, I just want to clarify for the record that at the committee, when members vote to bring a committee report to the House, they do not necessarily vote in favour of or in opposition to the budget. They are simply voting to report it, which is what was done yesterday.

The opposition was very clear at the meeting regarding our concern about the changes being proposed to the insurance aspect of CMHC and the bringing in of American companies.

My question for the member for Kings—Hants is about the CMHC delivering $12 billion in tax revenue directly to the coffers of Canada, money that it has obtained from its operations. Why in the world would the government want to give that to American companies to send back to the U.S.?

Supporting Vulnerable Seniors and Strengthening Canada's Economy Act
Government Orders

June 21st, 2011 / 3:45 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Scott Brison Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, I do not have a philosophical problem with using private sector resources and initiatives, and capital in some cases, to provide public services with good sound regulation.

We have to look at every one of these cases separately. There are cases of outsourcing that can make sense and deliver good services for Canadians in conjunction with the public service, and there are some that do not make sense.

The unfortunate thing is that by lumping this provision into this budget and not providing us with adequate opportunities to study it, we cannot determine whether it makes sense in this case. I think we would agree that it requires greater study and, as such, a separate piece of legislation. Given the importance of this, I think it would make a lot of sense.

Supporting Vulnerable Seniors and Strengthening Canada's Economy Act
Government Orders

June 21st, 2011 / 3:45 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Scott Brison Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, we are studying this piece of legislation. We will determine our support at the appropriate time.

However, it is clear that both in the House and at committee, through the legislative processes, we will make a determination at every level. We take our role as parliamentarians seriously and are studying the bill. We are also asking the right questions. I think that is key, both at committee and in the House, to be asking these questions and raising important issues.

I would urge the hon. member, as a member of that caucus, to raise those questions as well. He has a role not just to do what the government is telling him to do but also to dig in and ask those questions. I am certain he will. I certainly hope so.

Supporting Vulnerable Seniors and Strengthening Canada's Economy Act
Government Orders

June 21st, 2011 / 3:50 p.m.
See context

Conservative

John Weston West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am very honoured to rise today to speak to the budget, which is currently being discussed by my colleagues on both sides of the House.

I would like to take the liberty of putting this new budget into context, so that its vision of where we are heading becomes clearer.

Many members of the House have spoken in the chamber about the budget. One unique perspective I would like to add is how the budget reflects the specific needs of communities, such as the one I have the honour to represent.

On that note, I would like to thank the constituents of West Vancouver--Sunshine Coast--Sea to Sky Country, commonly known as the most beautiful place on earth, for honouring me with the privilege of serving them a second time.

I also want to thank local leaders, including the mayors, the MLAs, the first nations chiefs and others who have worked so closely with me to generate the results achieved under the first phase of the economic action plan, which concentrated on economic stimulus and prepared the groundwork for the phase we are now debating in the House, the low tax plan for jobs and growth.

Together, we showed in the first phase of the economic action plan that we can achieve anything as a community. We Canadians are diverse, industrious and entrepreneurial, and the people I represent showed skills of communication and collaboration that allowed us together to initiate and complete over 120 projects under the first phase of the economic action plan.

The member for Burnaby—New Westminster said earlier today in question period that he yearned for open, transparent and honest public consultation. That is what we saw in the first phase of the economic action plan.

Time after time, we saw the magic of priorities driven by each local community in the riding I represent, including Squamish, Whistler, the Sunshine Coast, Powell River, West Vancouver, North Vancouver, Bowen Island and Lions Bay. The steps to strengthen cultural identity, develop critical infrastructure and invest in the health and safety of all of our communities were steps that we saw adroitly taken. Most important, we created jobs, including many of the 560,000 new jobs created under Canada's economic action plan since July 2009.

This is a plan that has put our country atop the world for our economic recovery. Why? Because our government worked closely with each local community.

What did we achieve in Squamish? We achieved support for the West Coast Railway Museum, for small craft harbours, for sewer and water main upgrades, for biking and hiking trails and for seniors' housing units.

What did we achieve in Whistler? We achieved support for the World Ski and Snowboard Festival and for Whistler Crankworx, the great biking festival; for the Whistler Public Library; for the arts council; for the Whistler Centre for Sustainability and for upgrades to Highway 99.

What did we achieve on the Sunshine Coast? Support for the pulp and paper industry, for public transit lines, for an improved Pender Harbour authority, for fitness centres, aquatic centres and highway improvements.

What did we achieve in Powell River? Support for the pulp and paper industry yet again, green energy hydro projects, harbour upgrades, water system upgrades and for sports facilities.

What did we achieve for the North Shore, for West and North Vancouver? We achieved a replacement of the ageing Blue Bridge; the provision of new bus lanes, which we commissioned only last weekend; upgrades to water and sewage facilities; a new artificial turf field, a spirit trail and other community amenities.

The magic that applies to all of these projects is not only that they generated jobs and stimulated the economy, but even more important that they came about as priorities generated by each community, borne of close communication and collaboration among all levels of government.

As we contemplate the next phase of Canada's economic action plan, the budget before us, Canadians are pleased to see once again their priorities reflected in the budget.

Uniformly, during the election campaign and throughout my first term in office, I heard members of my communities articulate three economic priorities for our government: first, to increase jobs; second, to support those in our communities who needed it most; and third, to respect our environment and, in doing so, drive the economy. I am proud to say that the low tax plan for jobs and growth embraces all of these priorities.

First, the budget before us will create more jobs. Notable is the hiring credit, which this year will encourage our riding's many small business owners to hire new employees and small business people across the country to do the same. On the international scene, our government continues to invest in the most successful Asia-Pacific Gateway project.

Second, our government is committed to supporting those in our communities who need it most. For our ridings' eligible seniors, starting in 2012 the low tax plan for jobs and growth will offer an annual benefit of $600 for single seniors and $840 for couples above what is currently offered.

For families with disabled family members, our government introduced and strengthened the registered disability savings plan. For our ridings' many students, our government plans this year to strengthen RESPs. We also plan to improve the Canada student grants program and the textbook tax credit. Our government will furthermore exempt scholarship and bursary income from students' taxable incomes, saving students thousands of dollars each year.

For families with children, programs, such as the universal child care benefit introduced in 2006, continue to offer greater choice in care by providing $100 per month for each child under six years old. I am particularly proud that our government has established a 15% volunteer firefighter tax credit, a measure for which I advocated on behalf of firefighters in our ridings. This credit will support the heroic men and women who voluntarily put themselves in harm's way to save the lives of friends and neighbours.

Third, our government is paving the way in making environmental sustainability a hallmark of our economic growth. The 2009 economic action plan provided $1 billion through the pulp and paper green transformation program, which assisted local employers in the riding I represent, such as those in Powell River and on the Sunshine Coast.

This year our government will build on that investment in our low tax plan for jobs and growth by contributing a further $97 million over two years for research and development of cleaner energy technologies. Such initiatives promise to help the people of our riding responsibly to enjoy the abundance for which we Canadians are famous.

These are concrete plans every Canadian can understand. We are on track, reflecting their priorities using taxpayers' dollars responsibly, creating jobs, helping people who most need the help and ensuring we act as efficient stewards of our most wonderful environment.

We are doing all of this without increasing taxes or cutting social services. We are doing all of this while wrestling the deficit to zero by 2014. We are doing all of this as a community. We, in West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, join together with all Canadians proving time and again that no good thing is impossible. We are doing all of these things together. Our government is serving Canadians for today, for tomorrow and for future generations.

Supporting Vulnerable Seniors and Strengthening Canada's Economy Act
Government Orders

June 21st, 2011 / 3:55 p.m.
See context

NDP

Olivia Chow Trinity—Spadina, ON

Mr. Speaker, my Conservative friend talked about a concrete plan. I want to talk about the chunks of concrete that are falling off Canadian bridges. Just yesterday afternoon, basketball-sized chunks of concrete fell from the Gardiner Expressway in Toronto. A few months ago, chunks of concrete fell from the Mercier Bridge and the Champlain Bridge in Montreal.

I do not see any funds in the budget to build a new Champlain Bridge, to help repair our aging infrastructure and to help municipalities ensure their bridges remain safe, which is why we are not supporting this budget.

Precisely what is there in this budget for keeping bridges safe?

Supporting Vulnerable Seniors and Strengthening Canada's Economy Act
Government Orders

June 21st, 2011 / 4 p.m.
See context

Conservative

John Weston West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Trinity—Spadina for her question.

I am delighted to work with her in the House to promote health and fitness and other things that we collaborate on.

It is quite exciting to see her new-found interest in promoting infrastructure, because it was infrastructure that was so heavily promoted in our economic action plan. We saw bridges and infrastructure being improved across Canada, projects that promoted jobs where local priorities were reflected in a national budget. Many of the projects are just now being completed.

It is wonderful to see that she is on board with that and I hope she will, therefore, support the second phase of Canada's economic action plan.

Supporting Vulnerable Seniors and Strengthening Canada's Economy Act
Government Orders

June 21st, 2011 / 4 p.m.
See context

Green

Elizabeth May Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the hon. member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country. I have to differ with him initially, of course, in pointing out that Saanich—Gulf Islands is the most beautiful riding in Canada.

The member's speech focused on the budget but, as I understand it now, we are discussing Bill C-3, a budget implementation bill, a very narrow application of 12 specific measures to which I have no objection. Could he expand on why this budget implementation bill does not actually mention the major measures in the budget?

Supporting Vulnerable Seniors and Strengthening Canada's Economy Act
Government Orders

June 21st, 2011 / 4 p.m.
See context

Conservative

John Weston West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, BC

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question from my neighbour from a very beautiful riding to be sure.

What we have been discussing for the last few days, which is of interest to all Canadians, is the budget, which responds to the priorities of all Canadians. The budget implementation bill is the bridge to get us from where we are to where we will hopefully be next week, which is well on our way to implementing phase two of Canada's economic action plan, knowing that phase one has brought our country to number one in the world in its economic recovery.

Supporting Vulnerable Seniors and Strengthening Canada's Economy Act
Government Orders

June 21st, 2011 / 4 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Stephen Woodworth Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the constituents of West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country for sending someone, for whom I have a very high regard, to this House. I cannot think of any better member, more hard-working, more intelligent or more serious.

My colleague gave us a very good description of a lot of the infrastructure investments that were made in phase one and, indeed, those have been made in my riding of Kitchener Centre with aquatic facilities and so on.

In Kitchener Centre, my constituents are very much aware that we now have to put the brakes on. We cannot go on with big spending policies. We need to pay down the deficit. I wonder if my colleague has had similar discussions with the people of his riding.

Supporting Vulnerable Seniors and Strengthening Canada's Economy Act
Government Orders

June 21st, 2011 / 4 p.m.
See context

Conservative

John Weston West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, BC

That is an excellent question, Mr. Speaker, because it touches on the philosophical question that we all have to deal with as members of Parliament. We would love to do more for our constituents. We would love it if our budget offered more money but we need to be responsible stewards for our economy and for the environment.

The budget aims to bring the deficit to zero by 2014. That is responsible government. That will keep us in the number one position in the world, which we are so grateful to occupy today.