Economic Action Plan 2013 Act, No. 1

An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 21, 2013 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 implements certain income tax measures proposed in the March 21, 2013 budget. Most notably, it

(a) allows certain adoption-related expenses incurred before a child’s adoption file is opened to be eligible for the Adoption Expense Tax Credit;

(b) introduces an additional credit for first-time claimants of the Charitable Donations Tax Credit;

(c) makes expenses for the use of safety deposit boxes non-deductible;

(d) adjusts the Dividend Tax Credit and gross-up factor applicable in respect of dividends other than eligible dividends;

(e) allows collection action for 50% of taxes, interest and penalties in dispute in respect of a tax shelter that involves a charitable donation;

(f) extends, for one year, the Mineral Exploration Tax Credit for flow-through share investors;

(g) extends, for two years, the temporary accelerated capital cost allowance for eligible manufacturing and processing machinery and equipment;

(h) clarifies that the income tax reserve for future services is not available in respect of reclamation obligations;

(i) phases out the additional deduction available to credit unions over five years;

(j) amends rules regarding the judicial authorization process for imposing a requirement on a third party to provide information or documents related to an unnamed person or persons; and

(k) repeals the rules relating to international banking centres.

Part 1 also implements other income tax measures and tax-related measures. Most notably, it

(a) amends rules relating to caseload management of the Tax Court of Canada;

(b) streamlines the process for approving tax relief for Canadian Forces members and police officers;

(c) addresses a technical issue in relation to the temporary measure that allows certain family members to open a Registered Disability Savings Plan for an adult individual who might not be able to enter into a contract; and

(d) simplifies the determination of the Canadian-source income of non-resident pilots employed by Canadian airlines.

Part 2 implements certain goods and services tax and harmonized sales tax (GST/HST) measures proposed in the March 21, 2013 budget by

(a) reducing the compliance burden for employers under the GST/HST pension plan rules;

(b) providing the Minister of National Revenue the authority to withhold GST/HST refunds claimed by a business where the business has failed to provide certain GST/HST registration information;

(c) expanding the GST/HST exemption for publicly funded homemaker services to include personal care services provided to individuals who require such assistance at home;

(d) clarifying that reports, examinations and other services that are supplied for a non-health-care-related purpose do not qualify for the GST/HST exemption for basic health care services; and

(e) ending the current GST/HST point-of-sale relief for the Governor General.

Part 2 also amends the Excise Tax Act and Excise Act, 2001 to modify the rules regarding the judicial authorization process for imposing a requirement on a third party to provide information or documents related to an unnamed person or persons.

In addition, Part 2 amends the Excise Act, 2001 to ensure that the excise duty rate applicable to manufactured tobacco other than cigarettes and tobacco sticks is consistent with that applicable to other tobacco products.

Part 3 implements various measures, including by enacting and amending several Acts.

Division 1 of Part 3 amends the Customs Tariff to extend for ten years, until December 31, 2024, provisions relating to Canada’s preferential tariff treatments for developing and least-developed countries. Also, Division 1 reduces the rate of duty under tariff treatments in respect of a number of items relating to baby clothing and certain sports and athletic equipment imported into Canada on or after April 1, 2013.

Division 2 of Part 3 amends the Trust and Loan Companies Act, the Bank Act, the Insurance Companies Act and the Cooperative Credit Associations Act to remove some residency requirements to provide flexibility for financial institutions to efficiently structure the committees of their boards of directors.

Division 3 of Part 3 amends the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act to renew the equalization and territorial formula financing programs until March 31, 2019 and to implement total transfer protection for the 2013-2014 fiscal year. That Act is also amended to clarify the time of calculation of the growth rate of the Canada Health Transfer for each fiscal year beginning after March 31, 2017.

Division 4 of Part 3 authorizes payments to be made out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund to certain entities or for certain purposes.

Division 5 of Part 3 amends the Canadian Securities Regulation Regime Transition Office Act to remove the statutory dissolution date of the Canadian Securities Regulation Regime Transition Office and to provide authority for the Governor in Council, on the Minister of Finance’s recommendation, to set another date for the dissolution of that Office.

Division 6 of Part 3 amends the Investment Canada Act to clarify how proposed investments in Canada by foreign state-owned enterprises and WTO investors will be assessed and to allow for the extension, when necessary, of timelines associated with national security reviews.

Division 7 of Part 3 amends the Canada Pension Plan to ensure that the Canada Revenue Agency can accurately identify, calculate and refund overpayments made to the Canada Pension Plan and the Quebec Pension Plan in a particular year by contributors who live outside Quebec.

Division 8 of Part 3 amends the Pension Act and the War Veterans Allowance Act to ensure that veterans’ disability benefits are no longer deducted when calculating war veterans allowance.

Division 9 of Part 3 amends the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to authorize the revocation of temporary foreign worker permits, the revocation and suspension of opinions provided by the Department of Human Resources and Skills Development with respect to an application for a work permit and the refusal to process requests for such opinions. It authorizes fees to be paid for rights and privileges conferred by means of a work permit and exempts, from the application of the User Fees Act, those fees as well as fees for the provision of services in relation to the processing of applications for a temporary resident visa, work permit, study permit or extension of an authorization to remain in Canada as a temporary resident or in relation to requests for an opinion with respect to an application for a work permit.

It also provides that decisions made by the Refugee Protection Division under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act in respect of claims for refugee protection that were referred to that Division during a specified period are not subject to appeal to the Refugee Appeal Division if they take effect after a certain date.

Division 10 of Part 3 amends the Citizenship Act to expand the Governor in Council’s authority to make regulations respecting fees for services provided in the administration of that Act and cases in which those fees may be waived. It also exempts, from the application of the User Fees Act, fees for services provided in the administration of the Citizenship Act.

Division 11 of Part 3 amends the Nuclear Safety and Control Act to authorize the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission to spend for its purposes the revenue it receives from the fees it charges for licences.

Division 12 of Part 3 enacts the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Act, sets out the powers, duties and functions of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister for International Trade and the Minister for International Development and provides for the amalgamation of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade and the Canadian International Development Agency.

Division 13 of Part 3 authorizes the taking of measures with respect to the reorganization and divestiture of all or any part of Ridley Terminals Inc.

Division 14 of Part 3 amends the National Capital Act and the Department of Canadian Heritage Act to transfer certain powers, duties and functions to the Minister of Canadian Heritage from the National Capital Commission. It also makes consequential amendments to the National Holocaust Monument Act to change the Minister responsible for the construction of the monument to the Minister of Canadian Heritage from the Minister responsible for the National Capital Act.

Division 15 of Part 3 amends the Salaries Act to add ministerial positions for regional development responsibilities for northern Canada, and northern and southern Ontario. It also amends the Salaries Act to replace a reference to the Solicitor General of Canada with a reference to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness. It also makes an amendment to the Parliament of Canada Act to provide that the maximum number of Parliamentary Secretaries who may be appointed is equal to the number of ministers for whom salaries are provided in the Salaries Act.

Division 16 of Part 3 amends the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act to remove the requirement for the Minister of Public Works and Government Services to obtain a request from a government, body or person in Canada or elsewhere in order for the Minister to do certain things for or on their behalf. It also amends that Act to specify that the Governor in Council’s approval relating to those things may be given on a general or a specific basis.

Division 17 of Part 3 amends the Financial Administration Act to give the Governor in Council the authority to direct a Crown corporation to have its negotiating mandate approved by the Treasury Board for the purpose of the Crown corporation entering into a collective agreement with a bargaining agent. It also gives the Treasury Board the authority to require that an employee under the jurisdiction of the Secretary of the Treasury Board observe the collective bargaining between the Crown corporation and the bargaining agent. It requires that a Crown corporation that is directed to have its negotiating mandate approved obtain the Treasury Board’s approval before entering into a collective agreement. It also gives the Governor in Council the authority to direct a Crown corporation to obtain the Treasury Board’s approval before the Crown corporation fixes the terms and conditions of employment of certain of its non-unionized employees. Finally, it makes consequential amendments to other Acts.

Division 18 of Part 3 amends the Keeping Canada’s Economy and Jobs Growing Act to provide for increases to the sums that may be paid out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund for municipal, regional and First Nations infrastructure through the Gas Tax Fund. It also provides that the sums may be paid on the requisition of the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development.

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 10, 2013 Passed That the Bill be now read a third time and do pass.
  • June 10, 2013 Failed That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word “That” and substituting the following: “this House decline to give third reading to Bill C-60, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 21, 2013 and other measures, because it: “( a) weakens Canadians' confidence in the work of Parliament, decreases transparency and erodes the democratic process by amending 49 different pieces of legislation, many of which are not related to budgetary measures; ( b) raises taxes on Canadians by introducing tax hikes on credit unions and small businesses; ( c) gives the Treasury Board sweeping powers to interfere in collective bargaining and impose employment conditions on non-union employees; ( d) amends the Investment Canada Act to triple review thresholds and dramatically reduces the number of foreign takeovers subject to review; ( e) proposes an inadequate Band-Aid fix for the flawed approach to labour market opinions in the temporary foreign worker program; ( f) proposes to increase fees for visitor visas for friends and family coming to visit Canada; and ( g) fails to provide substantive measures to create good Canadian jobs and stimulate meaningful long-term growth and recovery.”.
  • June 4, 2013 Passed That Bill C-60, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 21, 2013 and other measures, {as amended}, be concurred in at report stage [with a further amendment/with further amendments] .
  • June 4, 2013 Failed That Bill C-60 be amended by deleting Clause 228.
  • June 4, 2013 Failed That Bill C-60 be amended by deleting Clause 225.
  • June 4, 2013 Failed That Bill C-60 be amended by deleting Clause 213.
  • June 4, 2013 Failed That Bill C-60 be amended by deleting Clause 200.
  • June 4, 2013 Failed That Bill C-60 be amended by deleting Clause 170.
  • June 4, 2013 Failed That Bill C-60 be amended by deleting Clause 162.
  • June 4, 2013 Failed That Bill C-60 be amended by deleting Clause 136.
  • June 4, 2013 Failed That Bill C-60 be amended by deleting Clause 133.
  • June 4, 2013 Failed That Bill C-60 be amended by deleting Clause 125.
  • June 4, 2013 Failed That Bill C-60 be amended by deleting Clause 112.
  • June 4, 2013 Failed That Bill C-60 be amended by deleting Clause 104.
  • June 4, 2013 Failed That Bill C-60 be amended by deleting Clause 12.
  • June 4, 2013 Failed That Bill C-60 be amended by deleting Clause 1.
  • June 3, 2013 Passed That, in relation to Bill C-60, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 21, 2013 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.
  • May 7, 2013 Passed That the Bill be now read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Finance.
  • May 7, 2013 Failed That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word “That” and substituting the following: “the House decline to give second reading to Bill C-60, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 21, 2013 and other measures (Economic Action Plan 2013 Act, No. 1), because it: ( a) raises taxes on middle class Canadians in order to pay for the Conservatives' wasteful spending; ( b) fails to reverse the government's decision to raise tariffs on items such as baby carriages, bicycles, household water heaters, space heaters, school supplies, ovens, coffee makers, wigs for cancer patients, and blankets; ( c) raises taxes on small business owners by $2.3 billion over the next 5 years, directly hurting 750,000 Canadians and risking Canadian jobs; ( d) raises taxes on credit unions by $75 million per year, which is an attack on rural Canadians and Canada's rural economy; ( e) adds GST/HST to certain healthcare services, including medical work that victims of crime need to establish their case in court; ( f) fails to provide a youth employment strategy to help struggling young Canadians find work; and ( g) ignores the pressing requirements of Aboriginal peoples.”.
  • May 2, 2013 Passed That, in relation to Bill C-60, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 21, 2013 and other measures, not more than four 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 fourth 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.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act, No. 1
Government Orders

June 10th, 2013 / 3:40 p.m.
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Conservative

Peter MacKay Central Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, I have a point of order arising from today's question period. In a question, the member for Scarborough—Guildwood made a definitive statement that a member of the Canadian Forces, Corporal Kirkland, had been released from the Canadian Forces.

I can now confirm that is not the case. There were papers signed and explained to him that had to do with his future career. He wilfully signed those papers, but I can confirm that he has not been released from the Canadian Armed Forces.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act, No. 1
Government Orders

June 10th, 2013 / 3:40 p.m.
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Liberal

John McKay Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Mr. Speaker, I actually have my hands on these papers. I really do not want to get into what is essentially confidential information, but I would think that the minister would prefer to read this document and make his assessment as to whether Corporal Kirkland, when he returned to CFB Shilo, was in fact offered his military discharge.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act, No. 1
Government Orders

June 7th, 2013 / 10:05 a.m.
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Conservative

Royal Galipeau Ottawa—Orléans, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to address the House this morning to present the reasons I support Canada's economic action plan 2013, Bill C-60. This plan, introduced by the best finance minister in the world, is thoughtful and reasonable, and most of all, it will help Canada with its economic recovery.

The global economy is still weak, and the economies of several European nations are very precarious. The economy of the United States, our biggest trading partner--

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act, No. 1
Government Orders

June 7th, 2013 / 10:05 a.m.
See context

Conservative

Royal Galipeau Ottawa—Orléans, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to address the House this morning to present the reasons I support Canada's economic action plan 2013, Bill C-60. This plan, introduced by the best finance minister in the world, is thoughtful and reasonable, and most of all, it will help Canada with its economic recovery.

The global economy is still weak, and the economies of several European nations are very precarious. The economy of the United States, our biggest trading partner, is shaky. Canada's per capita GDP has been higher than that of the U.S. since 2011. That is unprecedented.

According to the highly reputable World Bank, Canada's per capita GDP was $50,343 in 2011, compared to $48,112 in the U.S. The performance in our country is 5% higher than our southern neighbour's. The World Bank also stated that Canada's per capita GDP growth outstripped that of our neighbours to the south.

Since 2010, our per capita GDP grew by 8.9%, compared to 3.2% for our most important economic partner. According to Statistics Canada’s report “Canada at a Glance 2013”, our country’s per capita GDP is higher than that of Germany, France and the United Kingdom. However, the government does not boast about these achievements. I am probably the first intervener to share these statistics with the House.

Canada is essentially an exporting country, so our economic recovery continues to depend on foreign markets. Nevertheless, since the depth of the recession, in July 2009, one million net new jobs have been created, the strongest economic growth of all the G7 countries. Ninety per cent of these one million net new jobs are full time, and 80% are in the private sector.

Independent organizations such as the International Monetary Fund and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development predict that Canada will have the strongest growth of all the G7 nations in the coming years. Canada’s economic action plan 2013 has been so successful that the opposition has not had any questions for the best Minister of Finance in the world for several weeks. This plan proposes no tax increases. Small and medium-sized businesses have therefore been able to breathe easier since 2006.

In 2006, a typical small business with a taxable income of $500,000 paid, on average, nearly $84,000 in taxes. That amount has since dropped by $28,600, to $55,000. That is how we help businesses create jobs and drive innovation. While the opposition parties want to increase taxes on all fronts, the government has understood that low taxes are the best way to spur economic renewal. That is certainly why we were the last country to go into the recession and were the first to get out of it.

Thanks to our record of tax relief, a typical family will save more than $3,200 in 2013. One million lower-income Canadians will no longer pay taxes. We are on track to a balanced budget in 2015. That is great news. Thanks to measures to reduce spending and additional revenue, lower travel costs because of technology, the pursuit of measures to limit public service compensation and the elimination of tax loopholes benefiting a few taxpayers, we are even projecting a surplus of around $800 million in 2015-16.

That is a cautious projection. I should also point out that the net debt-to-GDP ratio is the lowest, by far, of all the G7 countries.

Moreover, before the economic crisis hit our country, the government paid down $37 billion of our debt, bringing it to the lowest level in 25 years, and we will balance the budget without doing so on the backs of the provinces, as the third party did in the 1990s.

In 2013-14, the federal government will transfer $9 billion more to Ontario than did the previous government. This funding will give Ontario a second wind, allowing it to pay for increasingly costly health care. By investing in transfers to the provinces, we will avoid the psychodrama that unfolded in Ontario with the closures of 44 hospitals in the 1990s.

At that time we almost lost the only francophone hospital west of Quebec, the Montfort Hospital.

There is an old saying that you can tell a good workman by his tools. Canada’s economic action plan 2013 is there to give Canadians the right tools so they can stand out internationally. It is statistically proven that a number of skilled occupational groups are having a hard time recruiting workers.

We see that 6% of scientific jobs are unfilled. The figure for skilled jobs is 5.2%, and the national average is around 3.9%. If the companies that are having trouble recruiting staff were able to find what they are looking for, the unemployment rate would certainly reach record lows. That is why the government, under Bill C-60, aims to match Canadians with the jobs that are available.

By involving the federal and provincial governments, and with the participation of the private sector, we will be able to invest $15,000 per person to help job seekers gain the skills they need to fill the jobs that are in demand. I want to emphasize the word “invest”, since this is indeed an investment that will pay off in the medium and long term.

We will also continue to invest in our youth, the future of our great country. Canada’s economic action plan 2013 will promote education in high-demand fields such as science, technology, engineering, mathematics and the skilled trades.

We want to support high school students at risk of dropping out with tutoring and mentoring. Giving these students a role model is one of the best things we can do so they can walk out of school with diplomas.

Because we need to prepare for the future, the government also proposes to support young entrepreneurs by awarding $18 million to the Canada Youth Business Foundation. Young entrepreneurs would benefit from useful advice through mentoring, learning resources and start-up financing.

The Canada jobs grant is not the only initiative that would make a big difference for the families of Ottawa—Orléans and elsewhere in the country. Before my first election to this House 2,693 days ago, I pledged to assist families who adopt children. Adopting a child is one of the noblest gestures someone can make in our society. It gives an often needy child a chance to find a home and role models, thereby giving the child a much brighter future.

Bill C-60 will help families who want to change a child’s life through adoption. To help adoptive parents with the costs they face early in the process, certain adoption-related expenses that are incurred before a child’s adoption file is opened will be eligible for the adoption expense tax credit.

Under this tax credit, Canadians could claim adoption-related expenses from the moment they registered with a provincial ministry responsible for adoptions or a government-certified organization or from the moment an adoption request was referred to a Canadian court. The tax credit would apply to all adoptions completed after 2012.

It is my fondest wish that this measure will help more young children find a home.

Families would also be supported through various other initiatives, including our expanding tax relief for home care services, simplifying funeral and burial program for veterans, improving palliative care and combatting family violence.

I am not just talking about what this government has done since 2006, such as the universal child care credit, the family caregiver tax credit and the creation of the registered disability savings plan.

On the subject of job creation, we should highlight the Minister of State for Science and Technology and his tremendous work with the National Research Council of Canada, which will celebrate its centennial in 2016.

This agency, the National Research Council, employs 4,000 people in 50 locations across the country, one of which is at the doorstep of Ottawa—Orléans. The NRC is one of the pillars of Canada's innovation system. Unfortunately, over the past few decades, many innovations have languished on dusty shelves and have not been brought to market. Therefore, the NRC, an agency I value a great deal and have been supporting for several decades, would become more closely aligned with industry.

Global competition is intensifying and getting more complex, and Canada must carve out a place for itself. We have an enviable standard of living, but it comes with no guarantees.

We need to take action: we must encourage business to invest even more in research and technology development so that our country can enjoy sustained economic growth.

In co-operation with Canadian industries, which are major job creators themselves, the NRC will address Canada’s technological gaps so that we can remain an economic leader.

As part of this new approach, the NRC would support Canadian industries in large-scale research initiatives. As stated in Canada's economic action plan 2013, the NRC would receive $121 million to support this new role, and under the economic action plan, the government would also invest in world-class research and innovation by supporting advanced research and business innovation and by enhancing Canada's venture capital system.

As many in this House know, the spirit of volunteering and community support burns brightest in the constituency of Ottawa—Orléans.

There are some 300 organizations in Ottawa–Orléans that run mainly on one of the country’s most precious resources: volunteers.

Some of these agencies support seniors, like the Club 60 Rendez-vous des aînés francophones d’Ottawa and the Roy G. Hobbs Seniors Centre. The Orleans branch of the Royal Canadian Legion is virtually at the centre of veterans' social life in east Ottawa. The list goes on.

These agencies must raise funds to support their activities. In addition to the work of their dedicated volunteers, they need donations to survive.

It is important to encourage philanthropy. That is what economic action plan 2013 is doing with its first-time donor super credit. This is a sensible way of encouraging new donors to make charitable contributions. The super credit complements the charitable donations tax credit by adding a 25% tax credit for a first-time donation of more than $1,000.

It is also innovative that couples can share the super credit.

With an economic recovery that was lagging due to economic instability in other countries, the government understood that it had to meet the demands of municipalities and move ahead with another plan for long-term investment in Canada's infrastructure.

The city of Ottawa and the district of Ottawa-Orleans have benefited greatly from this economic stimulus program. We need only consider the construction of a light rail line in Ottawa. It will be a total investment of $2.1 billion, $785 million of which is from the federal taxpayers through the building Canada plan and the federal gas tax fund.

Economic action plan 2013 is proposing $53 billion over ten years. The city of Ottawa has been dealing with waste water pouring into the Ottawa River for several years. Although sewers are obviously a municipal responsibility, the federal government has a role to play, since the waste water from the city of Ottawa is going into an interprovincial river between the provinces of Quebec and Ontario.

Alas, water runs downhill. That is why the government has invested close to $33 million to help the city carry out the first two phases of the Ottawa River action plan. There is still work to be done. The third phase has not yet received funding. I sincerely hope that support can be provided through the revamped building Canada fund.

These measures will help the great residents of Ottawa–Orléans regain full use of Petrie Island, treasure of this community. When I was a child, we could swim in the Ottawa River. That is not a good idea anymore, and we have to do something about it.

Building Canada is not the only infrastructure program under economic action plan 2013. The government has introduced a community improvement fund, which will invest $32.2 billion over 10 years through the gas tax fund and GST rebates to municipalities. The government also plans to renew the P3 Canada fund, which would invest $1.25 billion over five years to support projects through public-private partnerships.

As the House knows, I am a passionate advocate of our two official languages. Canada's linguistic duality is one of its greatest assets.

That is why I have given my full support to Bill C-419, which was tabled by the hon. member for Louis-Saint-Laurent. I congratulate her on this bill.

Canada’s economic action plan 2013 introduces the most far-reaching and generous initiative in our history to promote our two official languages. The new roadmap will continue to support the learning of English and French as second languages, and will continue its support for minority school systems so as to foster the development of citizens and communities.

In short, Canada's economic action plan 2013 meets the high standards that we have come to expect of our Minister of Finance. It is a plan that calls us to action through sensible and targeted measures.

Mr. Speaker, thank you for your kind attention, and I assure you I will entertain my colleagues’ questions with the same respect.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act, No. 1
Government Orders

June 7th, 2013 / 10:25 a.m.
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NDP

Peggy Nash Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, as the official opposition finance critic, I had the privilege recently of hearing the testimony of Sonia L'Heureux, the interim Parliamentary Budget Officer, when she gave an update to the finance committee. She is the interim Parliamentary Budget Officer, hand-selected by the Conservative government.

I would like to quote what she said in her economic and fiscal update on April 29. She said, “The Canadian economy is currently 1.9 per cent below its level of potential GDP.” Our economy is underperfoming. Canadian households are at a level of all-time personal debt, companies are not investing, our exports are in the tank, but the government is happy to spend tens of millions of dollars of public money advertising programs that no longer exist or do not yet exist.

I would like the member opposite to tell us why the government continues to put its foot on the brake, brings in austerity measures for Canadian households, but squanders tax dollars for its own self-serving advertising.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act, No. 1
Government Orders

June 7th, 2013 / 10:25 a.m.
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Conservative

Royal Galipeau Ottawa—Orléans, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured that the official spokesperson on finance should be the one to ask me the first question.

It is very unfortunate that members of the official opposition enjoy talking down Canada's economy. They do it here in this place, they do it across the country and they even do it in foreign capitals. This is shameful.

I appreciate that the Parliamentary Budget Officer has mentioned that we are not reaching our full potential. I mentioned this in my own speech. We can do better, but we have to pull together. However, while we are at it, would it cost so much to admit that, while we are not achieving our full potential, we are driving better than any of the other G7 countries? We have created over one million net new jobs since the depth of the recession, and 90% of those jobs are full-time with 80% in the private sector.

While the NDP and the Liberals play partisan games, our government is focused on what actually matters to Canadians: helping to create jobs and promote economic growth. Job creation in the month of May is just another positive mark in this travel.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act, No. 1
Government Orders

June 7th, 2013 / 10:25 a.m.
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Liberal

John McCallum Markham—Unionville, ON

Mr. Speaker, my colleague across the way keeps talking about how the Conservative government is lowering taxes. I wonder if he is aware that the Conservative $330-million tariff hike means that the cost of vacuum cleaners will go up by 5%; bicycles by 4.5%; baby carriages by 3%; plastic school supplies will go up by 3.5%; scissors will go up by 11%; ovens, cooking stoves and ranges will go up by 3%; coffee makers will go up by 4%; wigs, especially cosmetic wigs for cancer patients, will go up by whopping 15.5%.

In light of all of these price hikes, how can the member possible say that the government is lowering taxes?

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act, No. 1
Government Orders

June 7th, 2013 / 10:30 a.m.
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Conservative

Royal Galipeau Ottawa—Orléans, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have some sympathy for people who need cosmetic wigs. I have decided that, in view of my own challenges, I would wear a beret. It was not made in China and I had to pay a tariff on it.

These tariffs that the third party wants to defend had been created and continue to exist for third world economies. The products the member just listed were at one time produced by a third world economy, the People's Republic of China. However, it has done so well, it is no longer a third world economy. Frankly, this government is focused on reducing taxes in Canada, not giving fiscal advantages to the People's Republic of China.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act, No. 1
Government Orders

June 7th, 2013 / 10:30 a.m.
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NDP

Sadia Groguhé Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would just like to point out to my colleague that this bill was the subject of the government's 42nd time allocation motion. That is an abuse of our democracy. Muzzling the House to shorten debates and impede constructive debate is truly scandalous. To add insult to injury, third reading of this bill will last just two and a quarter hours.

Not only that, but the Conservatives are using this omnibus bill to sneak changes through. They make splashy announcements about their far-reaching economic plan, as my colleague put it, then they turn around and create more cabinet positions while telling Canadians that there is no money to provide them with services such as employment insurance and old age security.

Can my colleague explain what is going on?

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act, No. 1
Government Orders

June 7th, 2013 / 10:30 a.m.
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Conservative

Royal Galipeau Ottawa—Orléans, ON

Mr. Speaker, basic democratic principles are very important. That is why we are all here. We are here because we were democratically elected.

Democracy is the reason that my colleague opposite has been here since May 2, 2011. She can call herself a champion of democracy all she wants, but she has to acknowledge that democracy is the reason the political party that sits to the right of the Speaker is the country's legitimate government.

Yes, for the past little while, we have had to take steps to speed up progress on the government's agenda, but there are no surprises there. We are doing exactly what we told voters we would do. Most of the issues we are debating now were debated during the 39th and 40th Parliaments, when the opposition parties conspired to block them.

Opposition members are a little sad and directionless now because they can no longer block the government's agenda as endorsed by the people.

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June 7th, 2013 / 10:30 a.m.
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Conservative

Colin Mayes Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Mr. Speaker, my riding of Okanagan--Shuswap is a retirement destination.

Our government is the first government to establish a Minister of State for Seniors. We have managed a number of initiatives to help seniors, such as income splitting, so they can afford to retire and initiatives to provide protection for seniors. Because they have become such a large portion of our population, we have incorporated that as part of our action plan and in our budget.

The member is a bit younger and is probably not familiar with seniors' issues, but could he please tell the House what is in the budget for seniors?

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June 7th, 2013 / 10:35 a.m.
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Conservative

Royal Galipeau Ottawa—Orléans, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank my former seatmate whose wisdom always radiates in any room he enters.

In the 2012-13 fiscal year, tax breaks for seniors and retirees reached $2.5 billion. Some people cannot count that far. Thanks to the Protecting Canada's Seniors Act, offenders who abuse seniors will receive harsher sentences. There is a $1.5-billion increase in the Canada income supplement over five years, which will improve the standard of living of nearly 700,000 of Canada's most vulnerable seniors. There is also a new tax credit of up to $2,000 for family caregivers. To build affordable housing for seniors, our government is investing $400 million over two years under Canada's economic action plan.

I could go on and on.

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June 7th, 2013 / 10:35 a.m.
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NDP

Peggy Nash Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, I know Canadians are riveted with what is happening in Ottawa with all the scandals around the federal government. Nevertheless, in spite of Conservative scandals, there is important business that is continuing in Parliament.

I rise today to speak, once again, on Bill C-60, which is yet another Conservative omnibus budget bill. It was only weeks ago that the Conservatives brought Bill C-60 to the floor of the House and very quickly constrained debate with time allocation. They pushed it through the finance committee, allowing a total of only four meetings to discuss and study this bill. Here we are with a record number of debate limits due to time allocation by the secretive Conservative government. We are back with this omnibus budget bill and, again, it will receive only two and a half hours of debate.

While this is not the biggest budget bill ever, it is 115 pages and changes almost 50 pieces of legislation. This will have wide-ranging impacts on government departments, crown corporations, international trade, and foreign investment. It will affect the prices of basic household goods for Canadians. All the while, the Conservatives themselves are very secretive. Even the Parliamentary Budget Officer cannot find out what the government is cutting, and these cuts to programs and services and austerity measures continue.

This omnibus bill would make changes to the temporary foreign workers program and the Investment Canada Act. It merges the Department of Foreign Affairs with the Canadian International Development Agency. It also introduces significant tax hikes on credit unions, small businesses and tariff hikes on thousands of products. The Conservatives are raising the prices on more than 1,200 consumer goods, from over 70 countries, by increasing tariffs $333 million.

Bill C-60 also undermines the collective bargaining process at crown agencies, such as the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, VIA Rail, Canada Post, and many more crown corporations. It also raises serious concerns about the independence of institutions, including the CBC, where we prize journalistic independence and integrity, and also the Bank of Canada.

Canadians across the country have been writing to MPs to share their concerns about this omni-budget 3.0. If they are to be considered, these are changes that merit more debate, more time, and certainly due process. In year three of Conservative omni-budgets, Canadians should not accept this skirting of the democratic process and democratic oversight as the new normal.

Allow me to quote what National Post columnist Andrew Coyne said about omnibus budget bills. He stated:

Not only does this make a mockery of the confidence convention, shielding bills that would otherwise be defeatable within a money bill, which is not: It makes it impossible to know what Parliament really intended by any of it. We’ve no idea whether MPs supported or opposed any particular bill in the bunch, only that they voted for the [omnibus] legislation that contained them. There is no common thread that runs between them, no overarching principle; they represent not a single act of policy, but a sort of compulsory buffet.

...there is something quite alarming about Parliament being obliged to rubber-stamp the government’s whole legislative agenda at one go.

It was last year that Mr. Coyne wrote that opinion, and of course the government continues with its omnibus legislation, blind and determined as ever.

The Conservatives do not trust Canadians, and Bill C-60, like the omnibus bills of years past, is evidence of their disdain for parliamentary process, the democratic process, and ultimately for Canadians. If they had been listening to Canadians, the Conservatives would be hearing the kinds of things I have been hearing from my constituents. Thousands of Canadians are writing to parliamentarians, telling us that sections related to the CBC alone are reason to stop this omnibus bill.

Respected members of the Canadian media are telling Parliament that this omnibus bill needs to be intercepted. Canadian Journalists for Free Expression, the Fédération professionnelle des journalistes du Québec, the Canadian Media Guild, the Syndicat des communications de Radio-Canada and ACTRA are urging all of the Conservatives to use common sense.

The Canadian Association of Journalists has said that the provisions of Bill C-60 show the Conservatives' total lack of confidence in the ability of the CBC's board of directors and president to properly manage public broadcasting.

This bill is also the worst case of government interference in the CBC and its mandate as an independent broadcaster funded by taxpayers.

My office certainly has received countless letters, emails and phone calls from constituents concerned about how Bill C-60 will impact the CBC. Of course, Conservatives would have to talk to Canadians if they wanted to know this. Clearly, they are not.

Bill C-60 also phases out the credit union tax deduction that has helped foster diversity in our financial system in Canada. There is a great deal of concern from credit unions from coast to coast about the long-term effects of these changes. Fostering diversity in the banking and financial sector is a necessary element of a modern economy.

At the finance committee, we heard from credit union representatives about the concerns that this measure has raised in communities across the country. I would like to quote a couple of them.

Mr. David Phillips, president and CEO of Credit Union Central of Canada, told us:

The provision as it is now is pro-competitive. So when you take the provision away, when you increase the tax rate, what you're really doing is supporting greater concentration in the Canadian financial services industry. It's really a tax on the growth of credit unions.

Mr. David Phillips is saying that as it stands now it fosters competition. What the Conservatives are doing will eliminate competition, or greatly reduce competition. That was what Mr. Phillips said to the finance committee last month.

Mr. Garth Manness, CEO of Credit Union Central of Manitoba, notes that:

Now credit unions alone face the possibility of having to pay more of their net income in federal tax. Just as the banks did before, it is no exaggeration to say that some may begin to question the future viability of credit unions in many communities in rural Canada.

In some cases, they are the only financial institution.

Not only could people be left without access to a nearby financial institution, valuable and stable jobs at the credit union could be lost.

Again, that is from Mr. Manness when he appeared at the finance committee last month.

As the member of Parliament for Parkdale—High Park, I know these measures will have a direct impact on my community. In my riding, the Ukrainian credit unions invest nearly $1 million annually in community programming, projects and educational initiatives that could simply disappear as a result of these tax changes. It makes no sense.

I recently met with representatives from the Council Of Ukrainian Credit Unions Of Canada which have a combined membership of over 63,000 people across Canada. The representatives I met with in Parkdale—High Park were shocked at the unexpected tax code changes for credit unions in Bill C-60. There was no consultation.

I share the concerns of my constituents, and many Canadians, that these new risk-reducing financial tools available to communities across the country threaten the overall diversity of the financial sector in Canada.

Bill C-60 is not what Canadians want. If the Conservatives were listening to Canadians, they would know that. If the Conservatives were listening to Canadians, they would be considering the advice of the very experts who appeared before the finance committee as witnesses on this bill.

For instance, labour relations expert George Smith told the finance committee that the changes in Bill C-60 fundamentally contradict the Canada Labour Code.

Now, Smith is not a union representative. For four decades, Smith was chief management negotiator for many businesses and crown corporations, such as Air Canada, Canadian Pacific Railway, and CBC. He was part of the privatization of Air Canada, the revitalization of the Canadian railway industry, including CN as a crown corporation, and the modernization of CBC's collective agreement.

George Smith, formerly in management at CBC, Air Canada and CPR, and now adjunct professor at Queen's University, stated:

Collective bargaining is messy. Sometimes it causes inconvenience. Labour disputes, I would argue, are short-term pain for long-term gain. But the product of a freely negotiated collective agreement is an agreement that both sides agree to and both sides then commit to implement. That gives management the certainty, and it gives the employees and the unions certainty in the business environment. It doesn't mean that those negotiations aren't difficult. But mandated change, in my experience, wherever it comes from, doesn't work.

Mr. Smith appeared at the finance committee last month. It is clear that his comments fell on deaf ears on the part of the government.

If the government were listening, it would hear the concerns of Chris Aylward, national executive vice-president for the Public Service Alliance of Canada, on the changes that would allow Treasury Board interference in labour relations at crown corporations. He said:

These changes are problematic because it essentially gives Treasury Board unfettered authority to interfere in [collective] bargaining with Crown corporations, removing effective control from the parties most directly affected. This is not a recipe for healthy labour relations.

These are the experts who are telling us this, and the government refuses to listen.

The message from Canadians on process for this bill and on the content is clear. It is, “stop this omnibus budget bill”. However, the Conservatives will not take their fingers out of their ears long enough to hear what Canadians are saying.

The changes proposed to Bill C-60 regarding Treasury Board interference with crown corporations do not stop at the CBC. There is also concern that they could impact the independence of the Bank of Canada.

I recently tabled a motion at the finance committee to study the impact of this bill on the Bank of Canada, but, of course, like every other motion that the NDP or other parties put forward, and every other single amendment, the Conservatives rejected it, voted against it, and refused to listen.

In a recent article in The Globe and Mail, Kevin Carmichael described the potential scenario that could arise following the Bill C-60 measures:

Say the governor wanted to hire a talented banker who worked at an investment bank that had become the focus of public vitriol for its role in the global financial crisis. Would cabinet interfere with the appointment if there were a public outcry? Or to prevent one?

Carmichael goes on to say:

It is impossible to rule out the possibility. Yet such a scenario hardly is far-fetched. Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney hired Tim Hodgson, the former head of Goldman Sachs's Canadian operations, as a special advisor in 2010. Would Mr. Carney have thought twice if he knew his internal appointments risked political censure? Again, there's reason to wonder. And suddenly, we're on a slippery slope: a simple “accountability” measure risks hurting the central bank's reputation as an independent actor.

Again, this is from an expert financial journalist at The Globe and Mail. The Conservatives are willing to risk the independence of the central bank if it means giving more power to the Prime Minister's Office.

Bill C-60 would also make the temporary foreign workers program correct some measures. However, they would be a band-aid solution and would not get to the heart of the government's mismanagement of the temporary foreign workers program. While the Conservatives like to crow about their record on job creation, there are still almost 1.4 million Canadians out of work. At the same time, the number of temporary foreign workers have tripled over the last decade. There are now hundreds of thousands of temporary foreign workers working here in Canada.

Experts and community groups across the country are speaking out against the band-aid solutions offered in Bill C-60. Gil McGowan, president of Alberta Federation of Labour, where many of these workers work, said:

The bottom line is that Canadians are being displaced by temporary foreign workers, wages are being suppressed and employers are being allowed to abdicate their responsibility for training Canadians.

Miles Corak, professor of economics, has said:

Flooding the market with workers from elsewhere year in and year out—even during a major recession—is not about an acute labour shortage. It is nothing more than a wage subsidy to low-paying firms, a subsidy that stunts the reallocation of goods, capital and labour that is the basis for efficient markets.

What do the Conservatives have against free markets?

David Gray, a labour economist and professor at the University of Ottawa, said:

The temporary foreign worker program has become a convenient “out” for employers unwilling to pay higher wages. It should just address only acute labour shortages.

The Canadian Council of Refugees said:

[T]he CCR regrets the [temporary foreign workers] announcement did not address the rights abuses suffered by migrant workers, who are vulnerable to exploitation because of their precarious status.

Again, this testimony was all ignored. Canadians told us about serious concerns about Bill C-60, and we in the New Democratic Party stand with Canadians in saying that we do not support this omnibus bill. We will be voting against it.

Despite what Conservatives claim, this budget will actually hold back the Canadian economy, instead of accelerating it. It is eliminating thousands of jobs, cutting direct program spending and weakening GDP growth. It does nothing to address unemployment, record levels of household debt or rising inequality.

Putting people to work is clearly the best way to reduce our deficit, but instead, this budget is recklessly pursuing an austerity agenda that has made major cuts to services on which Canadian families rely. Now is the time, instead, to invest in the next generation that will lead the country. It is the time to meet the challenges facing Canadians head-on, but this budget shirks these responsibilities.

There is no need to risk journalistic freedom at the CBC. There is no need to trample on collective bargaining rights and processes that have served us well for decades. New Democrats know that investing in communities, pursuing sustainable economic development and supporting small and medium-size businesses is critical in creating high-paying jobs and in building a vibrant economy for generations to come.

Canadians are counting on us to listen, to understand the concerns of communities across the country and to put the public interest first.

In that regard, I want to propose a reasoned amendment, and I will read the reasoned amendment now. I move:

That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word “That” and substituting the following:

this House decline to give third reading to Bill C-60, an act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 21, 2013 and other measures, because it:

(a) weakens Canadians' confidence in the work of Parliament, decreases transparency and erodes democratic process by amending 49 different pieces of legislation, many of which are not related to budgetary measures;

(b) raises taxes on Canadians by introducing tax hikes on credit unions and small businesses;

(c) gives the Treasury Board sweeping powers to interfere in collective bargaining and impose employment conditions on non-union employees;

(d) amends the Investment Canada Act to triple review thresholds and dramatically reduces the number of foreign takeovers subject to review;

(e) proposes an inadequate band-aid fix for the flawed approach to labour market opinions in the temporary foreign worker program;

(f) proposes to increase fees for visitor visas for friends and family coming to visit Canada; and

(g) fails to provide substantive measures to create good Canadian jobs and stimulate meaningful long-term growth and recovery.

I will add that this reasoned amendment is being seconded by the member of Parliament for Saint-Lambert.

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June 7th, 2013 / 10:55 a.m.
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Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, the overall approach of the government in relation to budgets has been very harmful to our middle class. This is yet another budget that takes shots at our middle class.

My question is related to the tax increases in the form of the tariffs the government is proposing to increase and the profound impact that would have on small businesses and consumers.

What impact does the member believe this would have on cross-border shopping? We have many communities along the U.S. border where consumers would have to pay more for products as a direct result of this budget. Many people are concerned that more people in those communities would go to the United States to shop. Would the member not agree with that?

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June 7th, 2013 / 10:55 a.m.
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NDP

Peggy Nash Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, yes, we heard from a representative of the Retail Council of Canada, at the finance committee, who stressed the anti-competitive nature of these tax hikes on Canadian consumer goods. The Conservatives are quick to point out that countries such as China and South Korea do not need these tariff exemptions anymore. However, in fact, what they would be doing would be increasing the cost to Canadians, which would mean that more Canadians would buy their products south of the border.