Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2

A second act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 21, 2013 and other measures

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) increases the lifetime capital gains exemption to $800,000 and indexes the new limit to inflation;

(b) streamlines the process for pension plan administrators to refund a contribution made to a Registered Pension Plan as a result of a reasonable error;

(c) extends the reassessment period for reportable tax avoidance transactions and tax shelters when information returns are not filed properly and on time;

(d) phases out the federal Labour-Sponsored Venture Capital Corporations tax credit;

(e) ensures that derivative transactions cannot be used to convert fully taxable ordinary income into capital gains taxed at a lower rate;

(f) ensures that the tax consequences of disposing of a property cannot be avoided by entering into transactions that are economically equivalent to a disposition of the property;

(g) ensures that the tax attributes of trusts cannot be inappropriately transferred among arm’s length persons;

(h) responds to the Sommerer decision to restore the intended tax treatment with respect to non-resident trusts;

(i) expands eligibility for the accelerated capital cost allowance for clean energy generation equipment to include a broader range of biogas production equipment and equipment used to treat gases from waste;

(j) imposes a penalty in instances where information on tax preparers and billing arrangements is missing, incomplete or inaccurate on Scientific Research and Experimental Development tax incentive program claim forms;

(k) phases out the accelerated capital cost allowance for capital assets used in new mines and certain mine expansions, and reduces the deduction rate for pre-production mine development expenses;

(l) adjusts the five-year phase-out of the additional deduction for credit unions;

(m) eliminates unintended tax benefits in respect of two types of leveraged life insurance arrangements;

(n) clarifies the restricted farm loss rules and increases the restricted farm loss deduction limit;

(o) enhances corporate anti-loss trading rules to address planning that avoids those rules;

(p) extends, in certain circumstances, the reassessment period for taxpayers who have failed to correctly report income from a specified foreign property on their annual income tax return;

(q) extends the application of Canada’s thin capitalization rules to Canadian resident trusts and non-resident entities; and

(r) introduces new administrative monetary penalties and criminal offences to deter the use, possession, sale and development of electronic suppression of sales software that is designed to falsify records for the purpose of tax evasion.

Part 1 also implements other selected income tax measures. Most notably, it

(a) implements measures announced on July 25, 2012, including measures that

(i) relate to the taxation of specified investment flow-through entities, real estate investment trusts and publicly-traded corporations, and

(ii) respond to the Lewin decision;

(b) implements measures announced on December 21, 2012, including measures that relate to

(i) the computation of adjusted taxable income for the purposes of the alternative minimum tax,

(ii) the prohibited investment and advantage rules for registered plans, and

(iii) the corporate reorganization rules; and

(c) clarifies that information may be provided to the Department of Employment and Social Development for a program for temporary foreign workers.

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

(a) introducing new administrative monetary penalties and criminal offences to deter the use, possession, sale and development of electronic suppression of sales software that is designed to falsify records for the purpose of tax evasion; and

(b) clarifying that the GST/HST provision, exempting supplies by a public sector body (PSB) of a property or a service if all or substantially all of the supplies of the property or service by the PSB are made for free, does not apply to supplies of paid parking.

Part 3 enacts and amends several Acts in order to implement various measures.

Division 1 of Part 3 amends the Employment Insurance Act to extend and expand a temporary measure to refund a portion of employer premiums for small businesses. It also amends that Act to modify the Employment Insurance premium rate-setting mechanism, including setting the 2015 and 2016 rates and requiring that the rate be set on a seven-year break-even basis by the Canada Employment Insurance Commission beginning with the 2017 rate. The Division repeals the Canada Employment Insurance Financing Board Act and related provisions of other Acts. Lastly, it makes technical amendments to the Employment Insurance (Fishing) Regulations.

Division 2 of Part 3 amends the Trust and Loan Companies Act, the Bank Act and the Insurance Companies Act to remove the prohibition against federal and provincial Crown agents and federal and provincial government employees being directors of a federally regulated financial institution. It also amends the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions Act and the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada Act to remove the obligation of certain persons to give the Minister of Finance notice of their intent to borrow money from a federally regulated financial institution or from a corporation that has deposit insurance under the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation Act.

Division 3 of Part 3 amends the Trust and Loan Companies Act, the Bank Act, the Insurance Companies Act and the Cooperative Credit Associations Act to clarify the rules for certain indirect acquisitions of foreign financial institutions.

Division 4 of Part 3 amends the Criminal Code to update the definition “passport” in subsection 57(5) and also amends the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Act to update the reference to the Minister in paragraph 11(1)(a).

Division 5 of Part 3 amends the Canada Labour Code to amend the definition of “danger” in subsection 122(1), to modify the refusal to work process, to remove all references to health and safety officers and to confer on the Minister of Labour their powers, duties and functions. It also makes consequential amendments to the National Energy Board Act, the Hazardous Materials Information Review Act and the Non-smokers’ Health Act.

Division 6 of Part 3 amends the Department of Human Resources and Skills Development Act to change the name of the Department to the Department of Employment and Social Development and to reflect that name change in the title of that Act and of its responsible Minister. In addition, the Division amends Part 6 of that Act to extend that Minister’s powers with respect to certain Acts, programs and activities and to allow the Minister of Labour to administer or enforce electronically the Canada Labour Code. The Division also adds the title of a Minister to the Salaries Act. Finally, it makes consequential amendments to several other Acts to reflect the name change.

Division 7 of Part 3 authorizes Her Majesty in right of Canada to hold, dispose of or otherwise deal with the Dominion Coal Blocks in any manner.

Division 8 of Part 3 authorizes the amalgamation of four Crown corporations that own or operate international bridges and gives the resulting amalgamated corporation certain powers. It also makes consequential amendments and repeals certain Acts.

Division 9 of Part 3 amends the Financial Administration Act to provide that agent corporations designated by the Minister of Finance may, subject to any terms and conditions of the designation, pledge any securities or cash that they hold, or give deposits, as security for the payment or performance of obligations arising out of derivatives that they enter into or guarantee for the management of financial risks.

Division 10 of Part 3 amends the National Research Council Act to reduce the number of members of the National Research Council of Canada and to create the position of Chairperson of the Council.

Division 11 of Part 3 amends the Veterans Review and Appeal Board Act to reduce the permanent number of members of the Veterans Review and Appeal Board.

Division 12 of Part 3 amends the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board Act to allow for the appointment of up to three directors who are not residents of Canada.

Division 13 of Part 3 amends the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act to extend to the whole Act the protection for communications that are subject to solicitor-client privilege and to provide that information disclosed by the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada under subsection 65(1) of that Act may be used by a law enforcement agency referred to in that subsection only as evidence of a contravention of Part 1 of that Act.

Division 14 of Part 3 enacts the Mackenzie Gas Project Impacts Fund Act, which establishes the Mackenzie Gas Project Impacts Fund. The Division also repeals the Mackenzie Gas Project Impacts Act.

Division 15 of Part 3 amends the Conflict of Interest Act to allow the Governor in Council to designate a person or class of persons as public office holders and to designate a person who is a public office holder or a class of persons who are public office holders as reporting public office holders, for the purposes of that Act.

Division 16 of Part 3 amends the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to establish a new regime that provides that a foreign national who wishes to apply for permanent residence as a member of a certain economic class may do so only if they have submitted an expression of interest to the Minister and have subsequently been issued an invitation to apply.

Division 17 of Part 3 modernizes the collective bargaining and recourse systems provided by the Public Service Labour Relations Act regime. It amends the dispute resolution process for collective bargaining by removing the choice of dispute resolution method and substituting conciliation, which involves the possibility of the use of a strike as the method by which the parties may resolve impasses. In those cases where 80% or more of the positions in a bargaining unit are considered necessary for providing an essential service, the dispute resolution mechanism is to be arbitration. The collective bargaining process is further streamlined through amendments to the provision dealing with essential services. The employer has the exclusive right to determine that a service is essential and the numbers of positions that will be required to provide that service. Bargaining agents are to be consulted as part of the essential services process. The collective bargaining process is also amended by extending the timeframe within which a notice to bargain collectively may be given before the expiry of a collective agreement or arbitral award.

In addition, the Division amends the factors that arbitration boards and public interest commissions must take into account when making awards or reports, respectively. It also amends the processes for the making of those awards and reports and removes the compensation analysis and research function from the mandate of the Public Service Labour Relations Board.

The Division streamlines the recourse process set out for grievances and complaints in Part 2 of the Public Service Labour Relations Act and for staffing complaints under the Public Service Employment Act.

The Division also establishes a single forum for employees to challenge decisions relating to discrimination in the public service. Grievances and complaints are to be heard by the Public Service Labour Relations Board under the grievance process set out in the Public Service Labour Relations Act. The process for the review of those grievances or complaints is to be the same as the one that currently exists under the Canadian Human Rights Act. However, grievances and complaints related specifically to staffing complaints are to be heard by the Public Service Staffing Tribunal. Grievances relating to discrimination are required to be submitted within one year or any longer period that the Public Service Labour Relations Board considers appropriate, to reflect what currently exists under the Canadian Human Rights Act.

Furthermore, the Division amends the grievance recourse process in several ways. With the sole exception of grievances relating to issues of discrimination, employees included in a bargaining unit may only present or refer an individual grievance to adjudication if they have the approval of and are represented by their bargaining agent. Also, the process as it relates to policy grievances is streamlined, including by defining more clearly an adjudicator’s remedial power when dealing with a policy grievance.

In addition, the Division provides for a clearer apportionment of the expenses of adjudication relating to the interpretation of a collective agreement. They are to be borne in equal parts by the employer and the bargaining agent. If a grievance relates to a deputy head’s direct authority, such as with respect to discipline, termination of employment or demotion, the expenses are to be borne in equal parts by the deputy head and the bargaining agent. The expenses of adjudication for employees who are not represented by a bargaining agent are to be borne by the Public Service Labour Relations Board.

Finally, the Division amends the recourse process for staffing complaints under the Public Service Employment Act by ensuring that the right to complain is triggered only in situations when more than one employee participates in an exercise to select employees that are to be laid off. And, candidates who are found not to meet the qualifications set by a deputy head may only complain with respect to their own assessment.

Division 18 of Part 3 establishes the Public Service Labour Relations and Employment Board to replace the Public Service Labour Relations Board and the Public Service Staffing Tribunal. The new Board will deal with matters that were previously dealt with by those former Boards under the Public Service Labour Relations Act and the Public Service Employment Act, respectively, which will permit proceedings under those Acts to be consolidated.

Division 19 of Part 3 adds declaratory provisions to the Supreme Court Act, respecting the criteria for appointing judges to the Supreme Court of Canada.

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

  • Dec. 9, 2013 Passed That the Bill be now read a third time and do pass.
  • Dec. 3, 2013 Passed That Bill C-4, A second 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] .
  • Dec. 3, 2013 Failed That Bill C-4 be amended by deleting Clause 471.
  • Dec. 3, 2013 Failed That Bill C-4 be amended by deleting Clause 365.
  • Dec. 3, 2013 Failed That Bill C-4 be amended by deleting Clause 294.
  • Dec. 3, 2013 Failed That Bill C-4 be amended by deleting Clause 288.
  • Dec. 3, 2013 Failed That Bill C-4 be amended by deleting Clause 282.
  • Dec. 3, 2013 Failed That Bill C-4 be amended by deleting Clause 276.
  • Dec. 3, 2013 Failed That Bill C-4 be amended by deleting Clause 272.
  • Dec. 3, 2013 Failed That Bill C-4 be amended by deleting Clause 256.
  • Dec. 3, 2013 Failed That Bill C-4 be amended by deleting Clause 239.
  • Dec. 3, 2013 Failed That Bill C-4 be amended by deleting Clause 204.
  • Dec. 3, 2013 Failed That Bill C-4 be amended by deleting Clause 176.
  • Dec. 3, 2013 Failed That Bill C-4 be amended by deleting Clause 159.
  • Dec. 3, 2013 Failed That Bill C-4 be amended by deleting Clause 131.
  • Dec. 3, 2013 Failed That Bill C-4 be amended by deleting Clause 126.
  • Dec. 3, 2013 Failed That Bill C-4 be amended by deleting Clause 1.
  • Dec. 3, 2013 Passed That, in relation to Bill C-4, A second 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.
  • Oct. 29, 2013 Passed That the Bill be now read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Finance.
  • Oct. 29, 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 second reading to Bill C-4, A second act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 21, 2013 and other measures, because it: ( a) decreases transparency and erodes democratic process by amending 70 different pieces of legislation, many of which are not related to budgetary measures; ( b) dismantles health and safety protections for Canadian workers, affecting their right to refuse unsafe work; ( c) increases the likelihood of strikes by eliminating binding arbitration as an option for public sector workers; and ( d) eliminates the independent Canada Employment Insurance Financing Board, allowing the government to continue playing politics with employment insurance rate setting.”.
  • Oct. 24, 2013 Passed That, in relation to Bill C-4, A second 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. 2
Government Orders

October 28th, 2013 / 5:55 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, indeed, it is interesting times. We understand and appreciate today, more so than the last number of days, why the Prime Minister was so scared for the House to resume.

Here we have the budget bill and one could easily spend a full 10 minutes just talking about some of the details in the 300 pages. The European Union trade deal was recently signed, another issue which, no doubt, would have generated a great deal of interest. We have what many are saying could be the beginning of the end of the Prime Minister taking place on the other side of this grand building, in the other house. In fact, I am getting a better appreciation for why he prorogued the session and why he felt it was necessary not to sit in September after hearing some of the presentations being made.

When a budget is presented and legislation is introduced, one thing that is really important for us to recognize is the integrity of the government. What is being questioned and called to task is the performance of the Prime Minister's Office. If we look at the whole Nigel Wright affair—

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 28th, 2013 / 6 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I can appreciate why some members of the government would be absolutely nervous about what is taking place today. In fact, it is critically important when we talk about a budget, and this is the budget implementation bill, that Canadians have confidence in the people presenting it. The people who are presenting this budget are the Minister of Finance and the Prime Minister of the country.

Quite frankly, what we are witnessing is calling into question what is taking place in the Prime Minister's Office. It is casting doubt on whether we can believe the Prime Minister, whether it is this budget document or other affairs taking place inside the office. For example, one day he says that Nigel Wright resigned of his own free will. We then find out that he was released, or fired. One day it is one individual in the Prime Minister's Office who knew, and now it is a few or 13 or whatever it might be. Today we find out that it is more than just one cheque of $90,000.

It is an issue of integrity.

The people who present this budget, the Government of Canada, need to be more straightforward, honest, and truthful in what they are putting forward. In looking at this particular budget bill, we have to reflect on what is actually taking place today on Parliament Hill. A good number of Canadians are watching and are interested in finding out the truth on a wide variety of issues.

This particular budget bill is one of a number of budget bills the Minister of Finance has brought to the House. It is a bill that uses other pieces of legislation and attempts to pass them in one vote. In other words, other ministers approach the Minister of Finance saying that they have a bill and want to get it into his budget bill. The current Minister of Finance, more than any other in the history of our great nation, has used budget bills as a back door to pass government legislation that should have been introduced completely separately. He has set records. It is not something he should be proud of.

What we have witnessed is a style of government. It is a Reform Conservative-style majority government that believes it can just walk all over the House of Commons or try to intimidate the other side or the Senate. We are saying that Canadians are catching on to this behaviour. They deserve better. The Liberal Party is going to push the Government of Canada to start being more honest, with the full details, whether it is the Prime Minister's Office or the type of material being provided in the budget.

What Canadians want is to see a government that has a vision and provides hope. The Conservatives have failed to meet those basic standards.

One would think that if the government was going to prorogue the session and then introduce a throne speech, there would be something relatively visionary in it or something that would provide a bit of extra hope in some important policy areas. Why not include something nice about our first nations, the environment, or how the government is going to deal with poverty in Canada? What about talking about health care and what we are going do to ensure that health care will be there in the future? What about real, tangible job opportunities or programs that are going to make a difference? None of that was in the throne speech.

I believe that Canadians deserve better.

Ultimately, when I look at what the government has done over the past number of months, even though it spends billions and billions of dollars, it has failed to really deliver the goods to the average middle-class Canadian in any part of our country. The Conservatives need to start focusing not only on providing the full truth on a wide range of issues but on what is important to Canadians.

On a personal note, and I have raised this issue before and will continue to raise it, I believe health care is of critical importance to each and every Canadian. However, the Conservative government has totally ignored that file.

Paul Martin instituted the health care accord. It is that health care accord that has enabled the current government to crow as often as it does that they give more health care dollars than any other government. It is that health care accord that made it happen. It is Paul Martin who should be taking the credit for the amount of money we allocate to the provinces.

The Conservative government has not sat down with the provinces. It has not attempted to renegotiate a health care accord for the future. The single greatest expenditure a province has today out of general revenues is health care.

Every Canadian is concerned about the future of health care in Canada. They want to have that sense of pride in knowing that politicians truly care about health care delivery in our great nation. The government needs to do a whole lot more in providing that leadership, because there is a great void.

I have had the opportunity to talk about a housing strategy. Every region of our country needs more attention to housing. What about residential rehabilitation types of programs that could help with our older housing stock? What about enabling housing co-ops to get established? How many housing co-ops can the current government take credit for establishing since it has been in office? I can tell members that we could probably count that on one hand. I look forward to some members picking up on that point. Tell me what the government has done to improve the quality of housing stock and in enabling our middle class to become homeowners.

These are the types of issues Canadians are concerned about: jobs, the homes they live in, the poverty situation, how the government is trying to improve economic opportunity—

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 28th, 2013 / 6:05 p.m.
See context

NDP

Matthew Kellway Beaches—East York, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to turn that question back to the member who gave that speech. What about housing? What about the 250,000 people on the waiting list for affordable housing? In Toronto, one in four Canadians cannot afford the place they live in. The fact is, seniors in Toronto will actually die on the waiting list waiting for affordable housing.

It seems that most experts I have ever read blame the Liberals for killing affordable housing in this country during the 1990s as part of their massive cuts to spending and the downloading to provinces of their fiscal problems. What about that?

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 28th, 2013 / 6:10 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, my colleague is being very selective in terms of what it is he is reading. If he really wants to be honest in what he is attempting to tell the viewers, he would recognize that housing is something that needs to be done in co-operation with the provinces and different stakeholders.

I come from Manitoba, and I can say that there are significant shortfalls. I was housing critic for a number of years, specifically when the NDP took the reins of power in Manitoba. That was a fairly dark day in many different social policy areas. I can tell the member that much.

However, the NDP could have done a whole lot better in terms of ensuring affordable, better housing. They sat on land banks and did nothing with some of them. It was not all of them. They did do some things, but they could have done a whole lot more.

As opposed to pointing the finger—

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 28th, 2013 / 6:10 p.m.
See context

Cambridge
Ontario

Conservative

Gary Goodyear Minister of State (Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario)

Mr. Speaker, while my colleague across the way may have been selective, which is the word that was used, let me not be so selective.

Obviously the member is older than 10 years of age; I am sure he is. Perhaps he has selectively forgotten the $25 billion that Paul Martin and the Liberals cut from health care. Perhaps he has forgotten that they cut transfer payments for education and has forgotten that they cut science and technology by almost 10%.

Is this member serious? In fact, perhaps I could ask the member if he would just give the Canadian people 5¢ for every word he uses in the House of Commons. We could get the whole European continent out of debt, not just North America. Perhaps that is all I will ask the member for: 5¢ for every word he uses.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 28th, 2013 / 6:10 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, the $25 billion that the member refers to was not just with respect to health—it included social services and so forth—but it is interesting, because I believe the Reform Party at the time was saying it was not enough. We have to put it into the proper perspective of the time.

If we take a look at the bundle of health care transfers, social transfers, and equalization payments from the day on which the Liberals took office back in 1993 to the day on which the Conservative Party took the reins, never have any of the provinces received the types of transfer payments that they received at the time Paul Martin left the Prime Minister's Office. That is the reality.

When the Conservatives brag and boast about health care—

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 28th, 2013 / 6:10 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Marc Garneau Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask my hon. colleague about the fact that we have just come through six years of deficits in a row and that after two fantastic years, 2006 and 2007, because of huge Liberal surpluses since 2008, we have added $160 billion. If we break that down, it is about $30 billion per year. That is $1,000 of debt for every man, woman, and child every year since 2008.

I wonder what my hon. colleague thinks about the fact that we are strapping the future of our generations that will follow us with such debt. It will be more than $1,000 per person—

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 28th, 2013 / 6:10 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, if only I could have leave to explain in detail.

Suffice it to say what we do need is a reality check. As has been pointed out, the current Minister of Finance inherited billions of dollars of surplus. At the time before the recession he was able to make that evaporate and turn it into billions of dollars of annual deficit.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 28th, 2013 / 6:15 p.m.
See context

Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley
Nova Scotia

Conservative

Scott Armstrong Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Employment and Social Development

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member across the way talked about how these things were evaporating. His party saw more taxpayer dollars evaporate into the coffers of Quebec Liberal ad agency firms with $40 million still owed to taxpayers. We have to ask: where is that $40 million that the Gomery inquiry says that the Liberal Party owes to the taxpayers of our country?

As far as this budget implementation act goes, the Minister of Finance has done a tremendous job of putting together an economic program that is going to lead our country to jobs, growth and long-term prosperity.

I am from Atlantic Canada. Our region has struggled over the years with its economy, but it is starting to turn the corner for many reasons, the most important one being the economic policies put forward by our Minister of Finance and this government. A young child growing up in Atlantic Canada today can look forward to a bright and robust future.

A $25 billion shipbuilding program has been awarded to the Irving shipyards. That is equivalent to 11,000 jobs in Nova Scotia, 55,000 jobs across the country.

Our government strongly supports the west-east pipeline to Saint John. That is going to bring a whole new industry of oil exports to Atlantic Canada. Oil will be refined, value-added, in Saint John and exported to countries all around the world.

We have invested in a loan guarantee for the Lower Churchill Falls project. That is a $7.2 billion project. That means jobs and skilled tradespeople will be able to return from out west and take those jobs at the Irving shipyard in Saint John and in Labrador to fill those three large projects. We are taking steps in economic action plan 2013 to ensure we have the measures in place to provide the training so young people from Atlantic Canada fill those jobs and build a future for themselves and their families.

Our Minister of Finance, our Prime Minister and this government have a visionary approach to the future, unlike what we have seen from the opposition. Our Conservative government continues to get the job done for Canadians through economic action plan 2013.

On October 22, the Minister of Finance released the Annual Report of the Government of Canada for 2013. The report shows the continued downward track of Canada's annual deficit. In 2012-13 the deficit fell to $18.9 billion. This was down by more than one-quarter, or $7.4 billion, from the deficit of $26.3 billion in 2011-12. This was down nearly two-thirds from the $55.6 billion deficit recorded in 2009-10 at the pit of the largest economic recession since the Great Depression of the thirties.

Our government's responsible spending of taxpayer dollars has played an important part in the results we have seen in 2012-13, with direct program expenses falling by 1.2% from the prior year and by 3.8% from 2010-11. We are looking at program spending, at government spending, before we look at cutting transfer payments like the Liberal Party did in the 1990s.

I am proud that our government is focused on helping to create jobs and growth and opportunities for Canadians. I am proud our government supports hard-working families. Families and communities will be safer because of the measures we are taking in the area of justice and always putting Canadians first.

According to the Minister of Finance, our government continues its efforts to ensure that every tax dollar is spent as efficiently as possible and wasteful spending is eliminated. We are keeping Canada on track to balance the budget in 2015 without raising taxes and without cutting those very valued transfer payments to the provinces.

As reported by the OECD, Canada's total economic net debt to GDP ratio, which includes net debt of the federal, provincial and territorial governments and assets held in the Canada pension plan and the Quebec pension plan, stands at 34.5% in 2012. This is by far the lowest level among the group of seven countries which the OECD expects will average a net debt of 87% in the same year, more than twice as much. All Canadians should be proud of this success.

It is our solid economic and fiscal fundamentals that have ensured Canada remains one of the few countries in the world to continuously receive the highest possible credit ratings from all major credit rating agencies.

Having said that, we are not immune to the effects of slow global growth. We must build on our record by continuing to keep taxes low here in Canada, to work to expand trade, as we announced our trade deal with the European Union last week, to keep Canada on track for a balanced budget in 2015, and to grow our relationships not only here in North America but around the world so we continue to be a trading nation that people in other countries look to with great jealousy.

We are one of the few countries in the world, and one of the only industrialized countries, that has trade deals now with both the European Union and the United States of America, over 800 million people. We have free trade deals with the two most valuable markets in the world. Canada is the country that has that deal now. This is something that all Canadians should be proud of.

Much has been said in the past months about the temporary foreign worker program. We will ensure that the only purpose of the temporary foreign worker program is to provide temporary help where clear and acute labour shortages exist and where Canadians are truly not available for those jobs. We believe that is consistent with the wishes of Canadians.

We have over a million net new jobs that have been created since July 2009; 90% are full time and over 80% are in the private sector. We are getting the job done when it comes to job creation.

Our economic action plan 2013 is going to help many people in my riding and all Canadians through a number of key measures that will strengthen our local economies. In rural areas, in Atlantic Canada, we rely on seasonal employment. Sometimes that is not enough. Training will be required to help workers get into the workforce full time, year-round. As some of these large projects come online such as I mentioned at the beginning of the speech, we will need people who are trained to take those jobs up as we transition from an economy that relies purely on seasonal employment, particularly in the summers, to one where we have full-time good employment for skilled tradespeople, year-round, in Atlantic Canada.

To that end, economic action plan 2013 will increase the skills and training to support these workers with a new $15,000 Canada job grant. This will help retrain workers so they can find high-quality, well-paying jobs, something that will be of direct benefit to my riding and all of Atlantic Canada, as well as all Canadians across the country.

As parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Employment and Social Development, I cannot stress enough the importance of training workers so that they can get into the workforce. Equally important is the strengthening of the apprenticeship program, which we put in place through economic action plan 2013. It will make it easier for apprentices to get the experience they need to get their journeyman status. With a skilled workers shortage in this country, reallocating $4 million over three years to work with the provinces and territories to increase opportunities for apprenticeships will go a long way toward filling this gap.

We are listening to the skilled tradesmen and women and reducing barriers to apprenticeship accreditation. These include examining the use of practical tests as a method of assessment for apprentices. We are also putting these apprentices to work through measures that will support the use of apprentices through federal construction and maintenance contracts, investments in affordable housing, and infrastructure projects that are receiving federal funding.

An often forgotten segment of the workforce is the disabled. We have not forgotten them in this budget. We will introduce a new generation of labour market agreements for persons with disabilities by 2014 to better meet the employment needs of businesses and employment prospects of persons with disabilities. We will do this through the expansion of the opportunities fund. There will be an ongoing funding of $40 million per year starting in 2015-16 to provide more demand-driven solutions for people with disabilities.

Nova Scotians and all Canadians will also benefit from an allocation of $19 million over two years to promote education in high-demand fields, such as trades, science, technology, engineering and mathematics. These are the programs that will lead our young people to jobs in the future. We are supporting that now so those jobs will be filled by Canadians with proper training. Students are our future workers. Our Conservative government recognizes this need, and we are fulfilling that need with steps in this budget.

We recently heard through media reports that first nations youth have only a 60% high school graduation rate in Canada. Our government recognizes that these young people need training and opportunities so they can join our larger economy. The aboriginal youth in this country are the fastest growing segment of our youth, and we need to take steps now to provide them the education and training they need to fully embrace the greatness that is this country, Canada.

Higher education is the pathway to employment, and our government is improving services for students who apply for loans and grants. The minister's authority to electronically administer or enforce the Canada student loans program is consistent with economic action plan 2013's commitment to examine new ways to transform the way the Government of Canada does business to improve service and achieve efficiencies within our programs.

This amendment would modernize the delivery of the Canada student loans program--

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 28th, 2013 / 6:25 p.m.
See context

NDP

Ève Péclet La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, in the most recent budget, the Conservatives attacked labour-sponsored funds. The majority of chambers of commerce and investment organizations across Canada have said that this is very serious because these types of attacks harm investment and will create uncertainty among investors.

In budget 2013-14, the government attacks venture capital funds. This, too, will create uncertainty and will not promote investment in our country.

How can it attack labour-sponsored funds, small credit unions, co-operatives and capital funds, and then brag that it is supporting investment in Canada? Something is wrong.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 28th, 2013 / 6:25 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Scott Armstrong Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, NS

Mr. Speaker, that is not true. What our budget is doing is bringing savings and streamlining practices, which will bring them in line with other jurisdictions. We are going to reform the system so that we can better support organized labour, our chambers of commerce, and our credit unions. We need to align our system with those different jurisdictions so that we can better administer these programs.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 28th, 2013 / 6:25 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Ted Hsu Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, I preface my question by saying that I do not expect the member to be able to answer this particular fine point, although perhaps he could get advice from the members around him.

My question is about the National Research Council. The bill would reduce the size of the council from 18 to 10. Given the large geographic diversity in this country and the large diversity of research in the natural sciences, engineering, health sciences, and social sciences, should we not have a larger council advising the president at this time of very ambitious, large-scale change at the NRC?

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 28th, 2013 / 6:25 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Scott Armstrong Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, NS

Mr. Speaker, just because there are more people does not mean it is a better council. We believe on this side of the House that any dollars spent should be targeted to the actual delivery of programs not to paying for bureaucracies to support those programs.

Whether the council is 18, 10, four, or three does not matter. What is important is whether the council is running effectively and whether those program dollars are being delivered the way they should be. That is what is important.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 28th, 2013 / 6:25 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Mike Wallace Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have been here all day, and I have been listening to the opposition members saying that we should be spending more and more and more. Then in the same breath, they complain about the deficits the government has had to incur to get us through the financial crisis. It is not even logical that they would say the same thing on two opposite sides. It is hypocritical. Does the member agree that it is hypocritical for members to say to spend more and reduce deficits at the same time?

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 28th, 2013 / 6:30 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Scott Armstrong Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, NS

Mr. Speaker, we know that calls from the opposition to spend more and more is what we typically hear. That is what we typically see from NDP governments when they are in place around the country.

In answer to my colleague from Burlington, a tremendous member of Parliament, who has actually completed several long runs in my province, he understands that what we are doing, particularly in Atlantic Canada, is investing in the future. We are making sure we keep taxes low. We are bringing our deficits down and returning to a balanced budget. We are making key investments in key projects that are going to lead to jobs and growth, like the urban shipyard deal, a $25 billion deal; like Lower Muskrat Falls; like the west-east pipeline. It is targeted spending, making sure we also keep our taxes low, our deficits low and return to a balanced budget in 2015.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 25th, 2013 / 10:05 a.m.
See context

Conservative

John Carmichael Don Valley West, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I rise today to speak on our economy and the second budget implementation act of our government's economic action plan 2013. The implementation of these remaining provisions would have a tremendously positive impact on the lives of all Canadians. While many of the changes in Bill C-4 are technical in nature, many provide clear benefits for all Canadians.

Our Conservative government is focused on what matters to Canadians: growing the economy, helping to create jobs, balancing the budget and reducing the cost of government. We are achieving this with the longest-serving Minister of Finance in the G7 at the helm, who is providing Canada with strong fiscal leadership, management and responsibility.

Our actions have not gone unnoticed. Both the IMF and the OECD expect Canada to be among the strongest-growing economies in the G7 over this year and next. The World Economic Forum has rated Canada's banking system as the world's most sound for the fifth year in a row. Three credit rating agencies, Moody's, Fitch and Standard and Poor's, have all reaffirmed their top rating for Canada and expect it will maintain its AAA status in the year ahead. Canada's fiscal fundamentals are solid, and they are sustainable.

Canada is on a strong economic footing. Since the depth of the recession, over one million net new jobs have been created, mostly in high-wage industries. There are now 605,000 more jobs than at the pre-recession peak. This is the strongest job growth in the G7 over the course of the recovery. Almost 90% of all jobs created since July 2009 have been full-time positions, with close to 85% of those in the private sector. Also, the growth levels are above pre-recession levels, as I stated.

Jayson Myers, president and CEO of Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, had this to say:

We have a strong Canadian dollar because investors around the world want to put their money into Canada. They see a better fiscal environment, a strong financial sector, and the strength of the resource sector.

A recent study by KPMG concluded that Canada's total business tax cost, which includes corporate income tax, capital taxes, sales tax, property taxes and wage-based taxes, is more than 40% lower than in the United States. In short, our government has created an environment that encourages new investment, growth and job creation, and ensures that Canada has the strongest fiscal position and lowest business tax costs in the G7.

Earlier this week, the media were reporting that last year's federal deficit came in at nearly $7 billion lower than projected. This is an undeniable sign that our government is on track to balance the budget in 2015-16, a promise we made to Canadians back in 2011.

As many Canadians are now aware, our government recently reached an agreement in principle on a free trade agreement with the European Union. This historic agreement will create thousands of jobs for Canadians and give Canadian business access to half a billion new customers. This is the biggest deal so far in Canadian history, and may be remembered as the biggest trade agreement that Canada has ever signed. The Canada–European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement will open new markets to Canadian exporters throughout Europe and generate significant opportunities for all Canadians.The benefits of this agreement are equivalent to creating 80,000 net new jobs, or increasing the average Canadian household's annual income by $1,000.

On the first day that the agreement comes into force, 98% of all European Union tariffs will be eliminated, directly translating into increased profit and opportunity for Canadian businesses of all size and in every part of our country. Whether a fisherman in Atlantic Canada, a forestry worker in Quebec, an auto worker in Ontario, or an engineer in the west, each will benefit from this agreement. Jayson Myers went on to say that, “This is the Wayne Gretzky of trade deals”.

Canada's automobile industry, to name but one, stands to benefit tremendously from this deal. Currently, Canada exports approximately 13,000 vehicles a year to the European Union. This agreement will increase that number up to 100,000 units annually. It goes without saying that this increase in annual exports will have a direct correlation to the number of jobs in the Canadian automobile industry, undoubtedly adding hundreds, if not thousands, of employees to Canada's vehicle, equipment and parts manufacturing companies.

Kevin Williams, president of General Motors of Canada, had this to say:

We applaud Canada and the European Union for completing a modern, high-standard comprehensive economic and trade agreement that will provide enhanced opportunities for growth in both regions. We appreciate the hard work to find creative solutions that improve market access for Canadian-produced automobiles, while ensuring Canada continues to benefit from the integrated manufacturing sector that has developed in North America over the past 50 years.

Supporting small business is something our government takes very seriously. Small businesses make up to 98% of businesses in Canada, all of which are in the midst of celebrating Small Business Week. It makes me tremendously proud to speak about how this bill would provide support for Canada's job creators. This bill includes in it a number of key measures to support business, including extending and expanding the temporary hiring credit for small business for one year. Approximately 560,000 small businesses will benefit as a direct result of this measure. We are also increasing the lifetime capital gains exemption from $750,000 to $800,000 and indexing it going forward. The lifetime capital gains exemption will increase the reward for investing in small business.

In response to the global recession, the government froze the EI premium rate in 2010 at the lowest level since 1982. We are again freezing EI premium rates, this time at 2013 levels, for the next three years. With this freeze in 2014 alone, we are leaving $660 million in the pockets of job creators and Canadian workers. This tax relief will help provide employers, especially small businesses, with the certainty and flexibility that they need to keep growing.

Since forming government in 2006, our low-tax plan for Canada has allowed for small business to see their tax bills drop by 34%. Corporate income taxes have been lowered as well. In fact, Canada currently has the lowest corporate income tax rate in the OECD, as I referred to with regard to the KPMG report. That is a carrot that is more powerful and effective than any marketing campaign in attracting foreign investment to Canada.

In recognition of the ongoing uncertainty in the global economy, the bill also announces extending the temporary accelerated capital cost allowance for new investment in machinery and equipment in the manufacturing and processing sectors for an additional two years. This will provide the sector with support of $1.4 billion over four years for retooling, and will enhance competitiveness and economic growth and enable manufacturing and processing companies to plan and invest over the coming years.

We are delivering a new $53 billion building Canada plan to invest in Canada's public infrastructure over the next 10 years. This will create jobs, promote economic growth and provide a higher quality of life for families in every city and community across this great country. One of the new building Canada plan's three key funds, the community improvement fund, has had a direct investment in my riding of Don Valley West, by providing just under $1 million to the Canadian National Institute for the Blind. The funds are being used to renovate, and eventually reopen, the CNIB's pedestrian bridge, which has been closed since 2011. This bridge is essential for patients, visitors and employees to safely cross one of Toronto's busiest streets.

I will wrap up by saying that this bill puts forth a number of measures that are meant to respect taxpayers' dollars. While the opposition is busy focusing on issues that do not matter to Canadians, our government remains focused on the task at hand. We continue to look for ways to increase the efficiency of the inner workings of government and making sure that job creation and economic prosperity are at the forefront of any new legislation. With that in mind, this bill would make significant improvements that would benefit all Canadians.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 25th, 2013 / 10:10 a.m.
See context

NDP

Chris Charlton Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, I note that the member who just spoke on Bill C-4 is wearing the poppy, like I am, and as all of us should be in these weeks before Remembrance Day.

I know the member, and I know he is sincere in wanting to honour the men and women who served our country with such courage and made such tremendous sacrifices on behalf of the Government of Canada and, more importantly, on behalf of all the people of Canada.

However, in Bill C-4, we have changes that adversely impact those very veterans we are honouring by wearing the poppy. Bill C-4 reduces the number of permanent members of the Veterans Review and Appeal Board, from 28 to 25. If we are going to be serious, we need to address the fundamental issues with respect to the board.

On this side of the House, my NDP colleagues and I, and in particular the member for Sackville—Eastern Shore, have been advocating for a very long time that we replace the politically appointed board with a medical, evidence-based, peer-reviewed process for making decisions on veterans' disability applications.

I want to ask the member a question. He, like us, is wearing the poppy in this House today. Will he not do the right thing, honour veterans and vote against this bill that takes away services from Canada's men and women in the armed forces?

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 25th, 2013 / 10:15 a.m.
See context

Conservative

John Carmichael Don Valley West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the privilege of Don Valley West being home to the largest veterans home and hospital in the country. That is Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, which has a veterans wing with 450 residents who fought in World War II and the Korean War.

I do support and applaud our veterans. I had the privilege this past week of hosting seven veterans from Sunnybrook Hospital for lunch on the Hill. It was the first time that they had taken a tour of this great facility.

Our government believes in our veterans. These are the people who have provided us with freedom and democracy in this great country. I applaud them, and I support them.

I also encourage the member to recognize that we have increased access to service for our veterans, whether at home or through offices across this country. I will vote for this bill. I support our veterans and will continue to do so.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 25th, 2013 / 10:15 a.m.
See context

Conservative

Rick Norlock Northumberland—Quinte West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank my caucus mate for explaining to Canadians the benefits of this particular part of Canada's economic action plan.

I listened when he was speaking, particularly with regard to small business people, who are the principle generators of Canada's gross domestic product. I wonder if the member could expand on what this bill means to people in small business, who are hiring anywhere from 2 to 55 people in order to keep this country going, and expand our ability to trade, not only in Canada but with the rest of the world. What are some of the benefits to small business in this bill?

I wonder if the member could expand on that for the benefit of people who are watching and listening today.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 25th, 2013 / 10:15 a.m.
See context

Conservative

John Carmichael Don Valley West, ON

Mr. Speaker, small business is the lifeblood of this country.

I come from a small business background, as does my colleague. As we celebrate Small Business Week in this country, we applaud those who take risk in small business through personal hard work and hard-earned investment.

To the member's question with regard to the opportunities in front of us, we will be opening up a market of 500 million new consumers. Small business from coast to coast to coast will have access. EI tax credits specifically give small business the opportunity to invest in their employees and create an environment of stability and sustainability.

However, do not take my word for it. Let me read what Dan Kelly, president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, had to say:

Overall, this is a good budget for small business. [The finance minister] has done a solid job by remaining on course to eliminate the deficit while announcing some important measures for Canada's entrepreneurs. [...] We're particularly pleased the government publicly acknowledged taking some of these measures—such as the expansion of the EI Hiring Credit—at the recommendation of CFIB's...members.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 25th, 2013 / 10:15 a.m.
See context

NDP

Sadia Groguhé Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, for the fourth time in this Parliament, the Conservative government is introducing a massive bill to implement certain provisions of its last budget.

Bill C-4 is an example of why we have been criticizing this government since it came to power; it is an example of the government's lack of respect for parliamentary processes, as it imposes unrelated measures in a single piece of legislation and limits the work of members of Parliament. It is the epitome of a tired old government that has no vision for Canadians, a government whose pathological partisanship is affecting our parliamentary institutions and the interests of Canadians.

This bill amends close to 70 laws and includes a number of provisions that have nothing to do with the budget, strictly speaking. Bill C-4 contains dozens of measures that could have been introduced in separate bills. In one bill, the government is amending taxation, employment insurance rules, economic immigration parameters, arbitration in the public sector, the Veterans Review and Appeal Board, and so on.

Instead of making room for real parliamentary debate, the government has crammed dozens of measures into one single piece of legislation. Instead of allowing members of Parliament to do their jobs, the government has chosen to impose an anti-democratic approach and a dogmatic vision of politics.

Not only does Bill C-4 violate the whole parliamentary process, but the Conservatives also waited until the very last minute to present the content of the bill. The bill was finally introduced 48 hours ago. We have had 48 hours to review almost 300 pages and to assess the impact of dozens of measures. This is preventing us from doing the job we were elected to do.

The Prime Minister shut down Parliament for five weeks, which is simply outrageous and unacceptable for a democratic country like Canada. Clearly, the negative consequences of this approach cannot be denied. This single vote on a huge number of measures is certainly going to limit debate, and it will increase the potential for errors. As a result, the content will be less representative.

Furthermore, a clear example of the potential danger is the mistake that caused credit unions to face a tax hike of 28% rather than 15%. An in-depth study of the measure in committee and the testimony of many witnesses would have made it possible to avoid that blunder. If parliamentary committees have one meeting only to consider such wide-ranging measures, of course, members of Parliament do not have all the tools they need for a proper review.

In the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, we had only 40 minutes to study measures in Bill C-60 that had major consequences. We had 40 minutes to study a piece of legislation that easily would have required more committee meetings. That is the anti-democratic approach the Conservatives are taking with Bill C-4.

As if the general structure of Bill C-4 was not enough of a violation of democracy, the government moved a time allocation motion yesterday to further limit debate. If that is not mocking democracy, I do not know what it is. The situation is all the more worrisome and deplorable considering that some parts of Bill C-4 have serious and troubling implications.

First of all, the budget implementation bill eliminates the Canada Employment Insurance Financing Board, thereby allowing the Minister of Finance to manipulate the rates for the employment insurance fund. Clearly, the Conservative promises to make the management of employment insurance parameters more independent and transparent are now no more than a distant memory. Once again, the government is going back on its commitments and, in some cases, its own actions.

The Conservatives criticized the Liberals—and so did we for that matter—for helping themselves to and squandering the surplus in the employment insurance fund. In total, $57 billion was taken by those governments. In the past, the Conservatives rose up against that, but now, with Bill C-4, they are changing their tune once again.

With Bill C-4, the Conservatives are once more setting up the same mechanisms that allowed finance ministers, both Conservative and Liberal, to dip into the premiums paid by workers.

With access to benefits constantly decreasing, Canadians find this decision unacceptable. After all, the money involved belongs to the workers and the Conservatives are acting as if it were theirs.

We in the NDP maintain that the employment insurance fund must be managed independently and transparently. The Minister of Finance has decided otherwise by granting himself discretionary powers that will tarnish the very management of the fund.

In addition, Bill C-4 will amend the Public Service Labour Relations Act by redefining the process by which disputes are resolved in the government.

Not only is the government reserving the right to define essential services, but it is also imposing a process of binding arbitration in disputes where less than 80% of the members of a bargaining unit are performing essential services.

As a result, the Conservatives are reserving the right to define the rules on resolving disputes in the public service of Canada and to impose working conditions on its employees through arbitration.

Clearly, the government wants to give itself some elbow room so that it can attack the unions that stand up for the rights of workers.

Amendments of this kind require discussions in depth, with other voices to be heard on the matter, not just Conservative voices. To roll out measures of this kind without real debate is to lay oneself open to regrettable errors.

That applies to the amendments to employment insurance and the dispute resolution processes in the public service. It also applies to the omnibus bill in its entirety.

In closing, never has a government shown so much contempt for our parliamentary institutions and for Canadians. Here we are with a single bill with 300 pages of measures amending about 70 acts. It is impossible for members of Parliament to do their jobs properly. Then we get a time allocation motion that restricts debate even more.

Clearly, our democracy is suffering. All the work by members of the House of Commons is also being placed in jeopardy.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 25th, 2013 / 10:25 a.m.
See context

Conservative

John Carmichael Don Valley West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to address the EI issue, which the member spent quite a bit of time discussing.

An EI freeze for the next couple of years would create an incentive for business and workers. It would reduce costs in business. It would put money back in the pockets of our workers.

I wonder if the member would be good enough to explain why she is against job creation and sustainability in small business.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 25th, 2013 / 10:25 a.m.
See context

NDP

Sadia Groguhé Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question.

Clearly, what we are also seeing is a major move on the part of the Conservatives to control workers and unions.

In Bill C-4, we see that the Minister of Finance is given the power to manipulate the setting of rates. The Conservatives, in fact, have now completely broken their promise to have an independent and accountable body oversee employment insurance funding.

The government talks about and champions transparency, and forges ahead saying that it is the government that stands for greater accountability and much more transparency. Unfortunately, that is not at all what we are seeing here and these are not at all the principles that this government claims to have guaranteed.

Clearly, this amendment in Bill C-4 will simply prevent workers from having meaningful access to their unions and, at some point, will clearly and specifically prevent them from having any access to their premiums.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 25th, 2013 / 10:25 a.m.
See context

NDP

Anne Minh-Thu Quach Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the hon. member for Saint-Lambert for her excellent speech. She is always ready to stand up for her constituents and for workers in general.

On a number of occasions, she emphasized how completely absurd, irresponsible and anti-democratic it is to table such a lengthy bill and to allow parliamentarians so little time to study the repercussions of all the amendments to the 70 acts, not to mention the two new acts, contained in Bill C-4.

The Conservatives say loud and clear that they are standing up for workers. However, as we read the bill, we see clearly that they are continuing their attack on employment insurance.

Could the hon. member provide more details of the attack on the public service? She discussed it briefly, but we must understand the dangers and the concerns that lie in store for workers in terms of their right to present cases and in terms of the unions.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 25th, 2013 / 10:30 a.m.
See context

NDP

Sadia Groguhé Saint-Lambert, QC

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

First, I would like to go back to Bill C-4, another omnibus bill that deals with technical changes.

Clearly, this is another smokescreen, but we have not been taken in. It does not hide the fact that Bill C-4 really is trying to slip in major changes with no real prior consultation.

Once more, we are seeing a complete lack of democracy and of debate. Debates in this House have become impossible, and all workers, all Canadians, are having a hard time with that.

We are talking about major changes to the public service. A huge number of our workers will be affected by this tired old government's latest moves to take control of all our institutions at all costs. It really is unacceptable.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 25th, 2013 / 10:30 a.m.
See context

Conservative

Rick Norlock Northumberland—Quinte West, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to stand today and speak to economic action plan 2013.

I rise in the House to better inform not only members here but more specifically Canadians on the impact that the act would have and the key measures in economic action plan 2013, as well as certain previously announced tax measures to help create jobs, stimulate the economy and secure long-term prosperity across our great nation.

I am pleased to first address our government's continued reduction of Canada's deficit. This past Tuesday the Minister of Finance introduced the “Annual Financial Report of the Government of Canada” for 2012-13. The report shows the continued downward track of Canada's annual deficit. In 2012-13 the deficit fell to just under $19 billion. This was down by more than one-quarter, or $7.4 billion, from the deficit just last year, and down by nearly two-thirds from the $55.6 billion deficit recorded in 2009-10. This shows that we are still on track to balance the budget by fiscal year 2015-16.

Economic action plan 2013 would provide support for job creators. Since 2006 our government's top priority has been the economy and job creation. We are extending and expanding the hiring credit for small business, which will benefit an estimated 560,000 employers right across this great country of ours.

Currently, there are thousands of jobs available across Canada that are unfulfilled. In fact, CIBC World Markets stated in a report in December 2012 that 30% of businesses in Canada are facing skilled labour shortages. In addition, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business stated in its “Business Barometer” report that 34% of small and medium-size businesses identified a shortage of skilled labour as a constraint to their growth.

Difficulty in hiring has increased over the recovery and is becoming a key issue for employers in some sectors and regions of our country. In particular, persistent pockets of unfilled positions exist for skilled tradespeople and professionals such as electricians, millwrights, carpenters, machinists, heavy equipment operators, engineers and architects, just to name a few. The hiring credit for small business will continue to bridge that gap.

In recognition of the importance of small business owners, farmers and fishers, economic action plan 2013 proposes to increase the lifetime capital gains exemption to $800,000 from $750,000. The lifetime capital gains exemption increases the potential rewards of investing in small business, farming and fishing. The exemption also helps these entrepreneurs better ensure their financial security for retirement and facilitates the intergenerational transfer of their businesses.

From speaking with farmers in Northumberland—Quinte West as well as small business owners, whether they be at the corner store, an insurance agency or many other businesses, this is their RRSP in addition to the money they have been able to save, and in some instances it might not be that much. This is their future. This is their ability to be able to retire after a lifetime in some cases of working from about 5:30 in the morning until about 8:30 to 9:30 at night and sometimes longer.

Furthermore, to provide support to job creators, we are freezing employment insurance premiums for the next three years. This will leave $660 million in the pockets of job creators and workers in 2014 alone.

Economic action plan 2013 would ensure that the government will promote education in high demand fields, including the skilled trades, science, technology, engineering and math. It is critically important for young Canadians to have access to information on a variety of careers in order to make informed choices about their education early in their lives. Making good choices early can help ensure that young Canadians obtain the skills and experiences necessary to find work quickly, avoid unnecessary debt and get a better start to their careers.

Economic action plan 2013 proposes to reallocate $19 million over two years to help inform young people about the fields of study that are relevant to the existing and forecasted demand for labour in particular occupations. The government would provide more information on job prospects and the benefits of working in various occupations and it would develop new outreach efforts to promote careers in such high demand fields as science, technology, engineering and mathematics, as well as the skilled trades.

Economic action plan 2013 would help break down youth employment barriers. This past June, in my riding of Northumberland—Quinte West, a community training and development centre in collaboration with Habitat for Humanity Northumberland received over $90,000 from the skills link program for one of its projects. The skills link program is part of the Government of Canada's youth employment strategy. With annual funding of approximately $300 million across Canada, the youth employment strategy helps youth, particularly those facing barriers to employment, obtain career information, develop skills, find jobs and stay employed.

If I can go back to the Habitat for Humanity program that I am referring to, the particular Habitat project in question is called the “Faith Build”. For the benefit of those outside of Northumberland, who are unaware of this particular build, Habitat for Humanity wanted to build one housing unit for a worthy family. Of course, we know that Habitat for Humanity depends on a lot of volunteer help. Madelaine Currelly, who works at the community training and development centre, was successful, as I mentioned, in obtaining a $90,000 grant. Ten young people who were experiencing barriers to employment were hired to work on this project, utilizing this $90,000. Today, I am told that the vast majority of those young people are now working in full-time jobs because they obtained the necessary skills and experience on that project.

In addition to pre-existing funding, economic action plan 2012 invested an extra $50 million to enhance the youth employment strategy with a new initiative that connects young Canadians with jobs in high demand, and helps them develop tangible skills and gain work experience. Economic action plan 2013 proposes an additional investment of $70 million over three years to create 5,000 more internships.

Furthermore, our government not only assists youth in finding jobs, it also assists young scientists and engineers with the launch their businesses. Northumberland Community Futures Development Corporation launched two initiatives in collaboration with FedDev Ontario, the Spark Centre and the IDEAHUB in Port Hope. Scientists and engineers in business provide matching performance-based grants to graduates of science, technology, engineering or math, or as we refer to them, the STEM programs.

The CFDCs offer free business counselling and financing for small and medium-size enterprises for start-up and expansion, strategic planning support for local projects and community economic development in rural areas right across our great country. Economic action plan 2013 would continue to fund programs such as the Community Futures Development Corporations, which promote the growth of science and technology, as well as other fields.

Manufacturing in Ontario must increasingly seek to become more competitive by investing in innovation and moving up the value chain. That is why, in economic action plan 2013, we propose to provide a new, advanced manufacturing fund to be delivered by FedDev or the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario.

Firms in manufacturing sectors, including information and communication technologies, life sciences, machinery and equipment, and sophisticated niche sectors are pursuing competitive advantage through the development of transformative products and technologies that open and expand markets. To support the efforts of advanced manufacturing in Ontario to become more competitive, economic action plan 2013 would provide $200 million over five years for the creation of an advanced manufacturing fund. The new fund would support investments by manufacturing firms and activities that create new and innovative products or production methods, such as prototyping, demonstrating projects and advancing product testing.

I am confident that economic action plan 2013 will continue to provide for Canadians, and in the face of global economic uncertainty, keep our economy strong.

I am prepared now to answer any questions and hear comments from my fellow parliamentarians.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 25th, 2013 / 10:40 a.m.
See context

NDP

Matthew Dubé Chambly—Borduas, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his speech. He spoke at length about the importance of creating jobs for young people. However, we know that the youth unemployment rate is double the national average for other age groups.

Could the hon. member explain his government's really depressing record? In addition, could he tell us what he thinks of measures such as the one that the hon. member for Parkdale—High Park and I proposed a few weeks ago? This was a tax credit for small and medium businesses to train and hire young employees. I feel that this is a great way to help businesses, and especially young people, whom this government seems to overlook.

Given the importance he attributed to the issue, especially at the end of his speech, I wonder if he might be ready to help us get such an important initiative passed.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 25th, 2013 / 10:40 a.m.
See context

Conservative

Rick Norlock Northumberland—Quinte West, ON

Mr. Speaker, indeed, during my speech I mentioned specific instances where we have, through different government programs, shown how we can employ young people, especially those with barriers, those who do not possess the skills necessary to get the jobs that are available. I mentioned the Habitat for Humanity project and the fact that we now have young people who are currently fully employed who probably would not be otherwise.

The hon. member mentioned that youth unemployment is double the average, and he is correct. There are far too many young people who are not employed. However, what he leaves out of that statement is the fact that in the western economies, Canada is one of the best when it comes to youth employment. It is still not where it should be. We readily agree with that, but when he mentioned credits for hiring people, I already mentioned in my speech the hiring credit for small business, where the Government of Canada provides credits for people who hire workers, and in particular, workers who have the skills necessary.

This government, more than any other government, has concentrated more money in the science and technology fields. Therefore, while the hon. member mentioned some facts, he left out the fact that Canada is doing, compared to our neighbours, fairly well when it comes to youth employment.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 25th, 2013 / 10:40 a.m.
See context

Green

Elizabeth May Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to change the focus slightly from what the hon. member covered in his speech and just ask him about the measures we are seeing brought forward in Bill C-4 about which he is excited. I have to admit, I have less excitement in the sense of happiness about them. I am concerned that it is becoming too predictable a trend that the bulk of the government's legislation that we see in any session of Parliament is coming to us bundled together with many unrelated pieces of legislation. In fact, over 30% of the government legislation in the previous session of Parliament came in the form of omnibus bills.

These measures, about which my hon. friend is so happy, are ones that I am very concerned about, such as the changes to the Canada Labour Code, changes to the public service act, changes to the Supreme Court Act. These have nothing to do with one another or with the budget. Would they not have been better handled as separate bills?

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 25th, 2013 / 10:45 a.m.
See context

Conservative

Rick Norlock Northumberland—Quinte West, ON

Mr. Speaker, let me begin by saying that during the lead-up to the last election, the Green Party candidate in my riding said that the economic policies of the Green Party were very conservative in nature. Yet I noticed the voting record of the only member of the Green Party is pretty close to 95% to 100% of that of the New Democratic Party. The policies of the Green Party are very democratic socialist in nature.

She mentioned that we have these omnibus bills and we need to talk at length about all the things that happen. My constituents tell me they are tired of a bunch of politicians who talk and talk, and very little gets done. I tell my constituents that we are getting things done, that we have had more private members' bills in the history of this country happen under this government, that we get things done such as the economic action plan, that our place in the world, especially in the G7, is at the top of the heap and not where we want it to be quite yet but getting there. They tell me that they want to see action taken, not more talk from a bunch of politicians here in Ottawa.

I am happy that we get things done and that we do not sit here babbling ad infinitum about things that are not really of interest to average Canadians. They want action, and that is what they are getting from our government.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 25th, 2013 / 10:45 a.m.
See context

Liberal

John McCallum Markham—Unionville, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak to this bill, which, as you know, the Liberals will oppose.

I would like to address three issues. One is the fact that it does nothing for middle-class families. Second is the omnibus nature of the bill. Third are issues related to immigration.

The basic problem with this bill is that, really, it does nothing for the middle class in Canada.

This is an important issue, because the middle class is really struggling. It is only this week that the Bank of Canada came out with a radically more pessimistic projection for the Canadian economy. We know that the youth unemployment rate is twice the national average. We know that there are 224,000 fewer jobs for young people today than there were before the recession. We know that Canadian debt levels are at a record level. It is about $1.6 dollars for every dollar of income, which is considerably higher than it is in the United States. We know that tuition fees have been going sky high way faster than the rate of inflation.

We know all this, yet I do not think the government does anything significant to address these fundamental issues facing middle-class Canadians. Yes, the Conservatives would extend the hiring credit, but that is just the status quo. Yes, they would refrain from further increases in employment insurance premiums, which they had for the last three years, to the tune of $600 million per year. They would freeze them. They should have frozen them for the last three years as well as for the next two years, because this is a job-killing tax. A time of economic weakness is not the time to increase EI premiums.

Yes, the books have to be balanced over the longer term. Economists agree with that. However, that does not mean that we have to have increases in premiums every single year during a period of economic hardship. The fact that the Conservatives have increased those premiums in each of the last three years has done damage to the economy and damage to jobs.

There are many other details, but the fundamental point is that middle-class Canadians are struggling, and this budget implementation bill has essentially nothing to provide assistance or to provide hope to those people. At best, it is the status quo with little that is new or novel or helpful to help the Canadian economy at this time of weakness.

The second issue I would raise is the question of omnibus bills. This is a bill of 308 pages with 472 clauses.

We are fully aware that the problem with this kind of bill is that it goes against democratic principles. Neither the House nor the committees of the House have had the time to study the provisions of this bill. This has been a problem since this government arrived and it continues to be a problem.

Another aspect of this problem is that mistakes are made.

One example of mistakes I would mention is the question of credit unions. In the budget, the Conservatives proposed a major increase in taxes on credit unions. This bill has a decrease in taxes on credit unions, but that is only because they made a mistake the first time around. They increased the tax on credit unions radically more than they intended. That was a mistake partly related to the omnibus, complicated nature of the bill, and now they have to undo that mistake.

They throw in corrective measures regarding the Supreme Court, which have absolutely nothing to do with the budget. It is an important issue for Canada but one parliamentarians will not have the opportunity to study in any detail.

The last point I would like to make has to do with immigration, which is currently and recently one of my responsibilities. There are two aspects I would like to mention. The first is potentially positive. It is the idea that new economic immigrants would first write a letter of interest, and then the government would decide whether those people were likely to have the skills and qualifications to match the needs of Canada before they were allowed to make a formal application. Other countries have done this. To some extent, it makes sense, in principle. However, here is a case where the devil is in the details. How would the government implement this? Which people would be advantaged? Which people would be disadvantaged, and according to what criteria?

This is where the regulations and the details of the proposal, which are absent from the bill, have to be studied in detail by the immigration committee to see whether the proposal, which in principle maybe makes sense, will in practice make sense, given the way the government plans to implement it, which is something we do not yet know.

The last issue I would like to mention is perhaps the most egregious, the most serious, in the area of immigration. It is the dramatic increase in waiting times for family class immigrants.

Over the last five years, we have seen those waiting times double, triple, and quadruple. In the case of China, the average waiting time five years ago, in 2007, was seven months. In 2012, that had ballooned from seven months to 39 months. In other words, the average waiting time has gone from just over half a year to more than three years. China is not alone. For India, the waiting time has tripled from eight months to 24 months. The situation is at least as bad, or worse, for Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and many other countries.

Many new Canadians come into my office desperate, often in tears, because they are waiting interminably for their spouses, their children, or their parents to be allowed in. The waiting times keep growing and growing. The government said absolutely nothing about this issue in the throne speech except a modest amount of self-praise, if one can believe it, for its treatment of family class immigrants. There is nothing in the budget to correct this egregious situation.

As one who represents Canada's most diverse community, Markham, I know very well from the day-to-day work in my office that this is a huge issue for new Canadians. It is not only the waiting times to be reunited with children, spouses, or parents. It is also the denials for parents or grandparents who want to come to attend the weddings of their grandchildren or funerals in the family or other important family events. They keep being turned down, for no apparent reason.

This is a sin of omission, not of commission. There is nothing in the throne speech and nothing in the budget bill to address this problem, which is of huge concern for all the new Canadians across the country.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 25th, 2013 / 10:55 a.m.
See context

Green

Elizabeth May Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have a serious economics question for the member. A lot of us in this place talk about economics. The member for Markham—Unionville is one of those who is actually qualified to speak to it, having achieved a Ph.D., having taught at four universities, and having been the former chief economist at the Royal Bank.

I am curious about his views. We keep hearing the mantra that cutting corporate tax rates, so that Canada now has the lowest corporate tax rate in the OECD, is helping the job creators. However, we are also seeing that our job creation rate is very low. Youth unemployment is 14%.

Current RBC staff are telling us, as Mark Carney from the Bank of Canada pointed out, that low corporate tax rates are resulting in a large accumulated pile of what Carney called “dead money”. It is not going into the economy. It is not stimulating jobs. A current RBC economist says that it is now $600 billion. I believe that is 32% of our current GDP. I wonder if my friend from Markham—Unionville has any comments on this.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 25th, 2013 / 10:55 a.m.
See context

Liberal

John McCallum Markham—Unionville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her reciting of my various credentials.

I believe that Canada already has a very low corporate tax rate on the largest corporations. I believe that it is something in the order of 25%, when we include both the federal government and the provinces, whereas in the United States, it is something in the order of 39%. There is a huge gap.

In previous election campaigns, we in the Liberal Party said that we did not want to go back to super high corporate tax rates, but we thought that given other needs of the economy, this gap was larger than it needed to be. At the time, we wished to freeze corporate tax rates rather than allow them to go down further.

That was in the past. If we look to the future, I take her point about the proceeds from these lower taxes not always being used to advantage the Canadian economy through investment. There is a lot of what Mark Carney called dead money. Personally, if one thinks of all the possible tax cuts, it seems to me that the cut in corporate tax rates to the low level it is at today would not be among my top priorities. I do not think there is a great deal of evidence that the cuts we have seen to date have had a major positive effect on investment and jobs in the country.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 25th, 2013 / 10:55 a.m.
See context

Okanagan—Coquihalla
B.C.

Conservative

Dan Albas Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, here we go again. The Liberal candidate in Toronto Centre says amen to taxes. The Liberal member over there is talking about corporate taxes. He thinks they should be reallocated. In fact, Stephen Gordon, an economist who runs the Worthwhile Canadian Initiative, has actually pointed out that a low corporate rate lends to better productivity and eventually higher wages for skilled workers. There are some very good benefits there.

I would also like to remind the member that when corporate taxes are raised, the people who are able to manage the taxable amounts they pay to the treasury are corporations. He refers to dead money. The market will actually allocate where those resources can be best put to use. It is not dead money; it is called savings.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 25th, 2013 / 10:55 a.m.
See context

Liberal

John McCallum Markham—Unionville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would say that my hon. friend over there is guilty of what one might call selective Conservative listening. I certainly never said that I was advocating an increase in corporate taxes. What I said was that among the options for lowering taxes, I would put corporate taxes fairly low on the list.

It was not I who talked about dead money. It was the governor of the Bank of England. His name is Mark Carney, who, the member might remember, used to be the governor of the Bank of Canada. He is hardly a railing socialist or communist, yet he was the one who used that expression with regard to Canada's corporate sector.

There are only a limited number of dollars available. If we have very low corporate tax rates, we have to have other kinds of higher taxes or lower social spending. There is only so much money in the pot. We have to make choices. My point was that taking corporate taxes to the point where they are some 14 percentage points lower than they are in the United States may not be the best allocation of limited Canadian resources.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 25th, 2013 / 12:10 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Bob Zimmer Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise today to speak to economic action plan 2013 act no. 2.

This act would implement key measures from economic action plan 2013. It would also implement certain previously announced tax measures that will help create jobs, stimulate economic growth, and secure Canada's long-term prosperity.

Canadians have come to rely on our Conservative government to remain focused on the priorities that matter most to them: creating jobs for hard-working families and economic growth for local economies in all of Canada.

Since the depth of the global economic recession, Canada's overall job growth record remains the strongest among all G7 countries. Our government's plan for jobs and growth has helped contribute to the creation of more than one million new jobs, and we are on track to keep creating jobs and balance Canada's budget by 2015.

However, we also recognize that the global economy also can be volatile. We sympathize with those who are still struggling to find a job and we realize we are not immune to what happens outside our borders. That is why our government is working hard to implement positive job-creating measures from economic action plan 2013. These includes tax breaks to help small businesses create jobs, the Canada job grant to help get more Canadians trained and into skilled jobs, the largest-ever federal investment in job-creating infrastructure, new tax relief to help our manufacturing sector, and much more.

Nowhere is it more apparent that we need more skilled Canadian workers than in my riding of Prince George—Peace River. In fact, several local employers have come to me to express their increasing frustration with their inability to fill jobs because they cannot find workers with the right skills. Meanwhile, there are also far too many Canadians out there looking for work. That is why so many employers within my riding are looking forward to the full implementation of the new Canada job grant.

The Canada job grant would provide $15,000 or more per person in combined federal, provincial, territorial, and employer funding to help Canadians get the skills they need for in-demand jobs. Once fully implemented, the grant will help nearly 130,000 Canadians each year to access training at eligible institutions such as community colleges and trade union centres. This new program will ensure that Canadians have the skills employers are seeking and that employers are able to fill those key jobs.

In addition to the new Canada job grant, economic action plan 2013 is investing in skills and training for Canadians by reducing barriers to apprenticeship accreditation, supporting the use of apprentices in federal projects, and strengthening training support for persons with disabilities.

Building on these important new job-creating measures, we continue to remain focused on Canada's long-term prosperity by introducing economic action plan 2013 act no. 2. As we all know, small business entrepreneurs are big job creators, responsible for nearly half of all private sector jobs in Canada, and are a key driving force in making Canada a leader on the world stage.

We also know that to help create jobs, we must also help businesses. That is why Bill C-4 introduces more positive job-creating measures for small business entrepreneurs. One important measure is extending and expanding the hiring credit for small business for one year to help employers with the cost of new hires.

In addition, we will promote stability and predictability for employers and their employees by freezing employment insurance premium rates for the next three years. This will leave $660 million in the pockets of job creators and workers in 2014 alone.

We have also included measures that will increase the lifetime capital gains exemption to $800,000 from $750,000 and index it going forward. This positive measure will increase the rewards of investing in small business by making it easier for owners to transfer their family businesses to the next generation of Canadians.

Manufacturers and processors are also major contributors to our economy, employing approximately 1.8 million Canadians in a wide range of industries across Canada. A strong manufacturing sector also helps create jobs among suppliers and contributes to innovation throughout the economy. That is why in economic action plan 2013 act no. 2 our government is strengthening the competitiveness of this sector by expanding the accelerated capital cost allowance to further encourage investments in clean energy generation. This measure will allow businesses in Canada to face current economic challenges and improve their long-term prospects by adopting new and innovative technologies to increase productivity, thus helping businesses to compete globally while creating jobs in all regions of Canada.

These initiatives demonstrate our government's clear commitment to support small-business entrepreneurs to create jobs, growth, and long-term prosperity for all Canadians in all communities, like those in my riding of Prince George—Peace River.

At the same time, we understand that we must also respect Canadian taxpayers' dollars. Whether on job creators, hard-working families, or any other Canadians, low taxes are a crucial part of our economic success. Our Conservative government has cut taxes over 150 times, including income taxes, the GST, and business taxes, and we are justifiably proud of that record. Because of our actions, the average family is now saving over $3,200 a year. Economic action plan 2013 would take further action to support Canadian families by eliminating tariffs on babies' clothing, sporting goods, and athletic equipment.

Canadian seniors are also benefiting from a low-tax plan. In fact, the average senior pays $2,260 less in taxes each year as a result of our tax reductions. The average single senior can earn almost $20,000 a year and the average senior couple almost $40,000 a year without paying a single nickel of federal income tax, one thing that definitely affects my parents.

Small businesses as well are benefiting from our government's tax reductions. A small Canadian private business with a taxable income of more than $500,000 now pays 34% less federal tax than in 2006, equivalent to a tax savings of $28,000 that can be reinvested to fuel growth and job creation.

Bill C-4 would take further action to ensure Canadian taxpayers' dollars are respected by introducing measures to improve the efficiency of the temporary foreign worker program by expanding electronic service delivery.

Economic action plan 2013 also includes measures that would modernize the Canada student loans program by moving to electronic service delivery, as well as plans to phase out the labour-sponsored venture capital corporations tax credit.

Meanwhile, we remain on track to balance Canada's budget by 2015. Earlier this week, the annual financial report of the Government of Canada for 2012-13 was released. It shows the continued downward track of Canada's annual deficit. In 2012-13, the deficit fell to $18.9 billion. This was down by more than one-quarter from the deficit of $26.3 billion in 2011-12 and down by nearly two-thirds from the $55.6 billion deficit recorded in 2009-10.

Our government's responsible spending of taxpayer dollars has played an important role in these results, with direct program expenses falling by 1.2% from the year prior and by 3.8% from 2010-11. This is just further proof that we are finding savings within government and are refusing to spend recklessly. We will find these savings without raising taxes or cutting transfers to Canadians or the provinces and territories.

These initiatives demonstrate our government's clear commitment to support small business entrepreneurs to create jobs, growth, and long-term prosperity for all Canadians while respecting Canadian taxpayers' dollars. That is why I am pleased to support this bill, Bill C-4.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 25th, 2013 / 12:20 p.m.
See context

NDP

Mike Sullivan York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, I enjoyed the comments from my colleague from the west.

However, he did talk about creating opportunities in the trades, and if he would go to the front page of the economic action plan website, he would find a link called “creating opportunities in the trades”, where there is a link to a video in which 90% of the people who are getting education in the trades are men and the only education being given to women in the trades is for cutting hair, applying fingernails, and cutting food.

Over on this side of the House, we think that women can do anything that men can do. Why do the Conservatives not think so?

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 25th, 2013 / 12:20 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Bob Zimmer Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am a tradesman myself. I was a carpenter for many years before I got this job, and one thing I will say is that trades are open to both males and females. It is just up to them to decide which trade they would like to enter.

I notice that in my particular trade, carpentry, there are many more females on the work sites today than there were before. Things are changing. Our government would like to see both males and females becoming skilled tradespeople in all types of trades, and we would welcome that in our current economic job market.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 25th, 2013 / 12:20 p.m.
See context

Etobicoke—Lakeshore
Ontario

Conservative

Bernard Trottier Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the member for Prince George—Peace River could expand on measures in Bill C-4 that build on the budget and address investments in communities and infrastructure. We know it is very important.

I know the member has some communities that are very challenged with respect to building up infrastructure. There is a lot of growth and there are some big needs when it comes to moving people and goods around. If the member could expand on that aspect, I would like to hear his comments.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 25th, 2013 / 12:25 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Bob Zimmer Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, infrastructure is a big deal for us in the northeast of British Columbia. I always tell my constituents that we have a big economic engine in the northeast and we need more resources and more infrastructure to keep that engine working efficiently.

The gas tax transfer fund has been well received in British Columbia. We are seeing some changes within our municipalities in the way that funding is being designated, but it is being well received within our part of the province and our part of the country, as I am sure it is across the country. It will provide the much needed infrastructure to keep this economic engine running at full capacity.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 25th, 2013 / 12:25 p.m.
See context

NDP

Matthew Dubé Chambly—Borduas, QC

Mr. Speaker, since the debate began, I have heard a number of government members talking about employment and the economy. This always leads me to the same question, and I still have not managed to get an answer.

I am trying to understand why this omnibus bill contains a provision regarding the appointment of Supreme Court judges. My own theory, which many of my colleagues on this side of the House share, is that the process was bungled for the most recent appointment in Quebec. The problem is ongoing and still has not been resolved.

With that in mind, it seems the government tried to create a catch-all budget implementation bill by including provisions concerning the Supreme Court. I still do not see how that is relevant.

Can my colleague tell us why these measures were included? If not, can he tell me whether the government will support a motion that we plan to introduce to separate this aspect from the rest of the omnibus bill?

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 25th, 2013 / 12:25 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Bob Zimmer Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, a colleague from this side of the House said earlier that we are a government that likes to get things done. Including legislation in budget bills is often a way for us to get a lot done in short order.

That has been our Conservative mantra over the last few years: we are a government that does get things done, instead of just having endless debate over issues that we know Canadians want answers for right now. That is why we do what we do in terms of getting legislation through. We see it as an efficient way of passing legislation, as opposed to what the opposition would say.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 25th, 2013 / 12:25 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Bob Zimmer Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, our government is focused on the economy and on keeping the Canadian economy in general chugging along. Among the things we talked about, the job skills grant is going to affect us greatly and will answer the need, especially in the west, for skilled workers in our workforce. We are already being hit by that need. It is going to hit us even more, and we are responding to that need.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 25th, 2013 / 12:25 p.m.
See context

NDP

Mike Sullivan York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-4, which was to be a budget implementation bill but it is much more. It is that much more that has a bunch of us on this side of the House worried about what the government really intends to do. For example, this budget implementation bill includes a redefinition of what constitutes a danger in the workplace.

The definition has been in the Canada Labour Code for many years and is well understood now by the health and safety officers, workplace safety committees, employers and employees and to change it in a manner that will not allow us to have full and fulsome debate is a dangerous practice in itself.

We will not know what the new definition means. The old definition talked about any existing or potential hazard or condition, or any current or future activity that could reasonably be expected to cause injury or illness to a person exposed to it.

The new definition requires that this danger be imminent or serious. What the heck does imminent or serious mean? To find out, we have to ask the minister. The minister is the only person who is now able, under this legislation, to determine whether something is an imminent or serious threat to an individual, because the government has taken out health and safety officers across the country and replaced them with one individual.

Each and every declaration of a danger to a person in a workplace in Canada now has to be determined by the minister himself or herself. I do not know if the minister has enough time to get to all the workplaces in Canada. The minister is pretty busy legislating companies back to work, so I do not know if he or she has enough time to do that.

It is a very serious measure that is being taken in a budget implementation bill with very limited time for discussion.

The other thing that is happening in the bill is that for the public service the definition of what can be arbitrated, in terms of what we call interest arbitration processes, has changed dramatically. The definition of what constitutes an essential service is now in the head of the minister. It is not in a jointly agreed to by both parties system.

The minister can decide what is an essential service in the civil service. For example, the minister could decide that his or her driver is an essential service and therefore that person would be prohibited from taking any action.

The danger with this kind of tinkering with the existing well-known and well-understood legislation is where it may lead in the rest of Canada. We have police forces, fire departments, ambulance services and paramedic services across the country that rely on an arbitration system to feel as though they are getting paid appropriately for their work and that their terms and conditions of work are dealt with. They are not allowed to go on strike. They are not allowed to exercise what the rest of Canadians have, which is the ability to withdraw their services.

All of those other folks across the country have to be wondering where the heck the government is going and where it will lead the provincial governments that deal with these things as well.

The government has not only redefined what is an essential service and just basically said that the minister can pick and choose what he or she wants it to be, but it has redefined what constitutes the terms under which an arbitrator can decide a collective agreement.

As members will recall from a year and a half ago, or maybe two years, the former minister of labour actually set the conditions under which an arbitrator was free or not free to decide a collective agreement. When it came to Air Canada, Canada Post and CP Rail, those agreements were decided by an arbitrator, except the arbitrator's hands were tied.

If I were in the police force or if I were a firefighter, I would be worried about where this federal government was leading us, down the road of re-defining what could and could not be done by an arbitrator.

I want to talk about this issue, because I am the deputy critic for persons with disabilities. The member for Winnipeg South Centre talked in glowing terms about the fact that the government had made the enabling accessibility fund a permanent feature of future budgets, which is a good thing. The problem is that fund is a Conservative slush fund, unfortunately. I do not mean that any of the groups that receive the money are somehow complicit in this, but 85% of the money goes to Conservative ridings.

Conservatives do not represent 85% of the population of Canada. I think something like 24% voted for them last time. How is it that 85% of the enabling accessibility fund goes to Conservative-held ridings, or if a group or organization is turned down for money under the enabling accessibility fund, all it has to do is have a friend like the Minister of Foreign Affairs and that minister will grease palms or whatever it is he has to do to change the decision by whoever made the decision so a group or association can get money out of the enabling accessibility fund?

We do not have any objections to there being an enabling accessibility fund. In fact, it should be bigger than it is, but we would like to see it distributed fairly across the country. I have groups in my riding that have been turned down for enabling accessibility money and cannot fathom the reasons why, because they are not given. There is no sudden decision that a group did not get it because of X, Y or Z. The decision is made that they just did not get it. When we hear that groups in Conservative-held ridings have no trouble getting money, we wonder where the money is coming from.

The other thing I want to say about the budget implementation act is that the government has determined it can add new stuff that was not in the budget. Not only were the issues dealing with the redefinition of what constitutes a danger, the removal of health and safety officers and replacing them with the minister, the changing of the arbitration for the civil service, but a redefinition of what constitutes a Supreme Court justice has been added, someone coming from Quebec. How is that in a budget bill? How is that something that we can think costs money? The Conservatives response, and I understand where they are coming from, but I do not like it, is that it is something that came up just recently, that they have to fix it really quick and that they can rush this thing through and get it done in a hurry.

There are a whole bunch of other things that came up just recently that have not been included in the bill but have to do with money, that have to do with budgets, that have to do with taxpayers and their pocketbooks. The Conservatives talked about them in the throne speech, but they are not here.

The throne speech talked about “pay to pay”. For those who do not know what that means, a cable TV or a cellphone subscriber with any of the big carriers in Canada has to by $2 to get a paper bill. If they do not have Internet to get their bill, they have to pay $2 and the government collects tax on that $2. No wonder it is delaying it because it wants to keep collecting that tax.

Most of the people affected by that are seniors who do not have access to the Internet, who do not have ready accessibility to electronic forms of payment. Not only that, even those people who have opted to get it electronically are now being told that if they want the detailed billing, they have to pay $3 to get it electronically, and the government will tax that. Therefore, there will 15¢ federally and in Ontario another 8¢ provincially going into the coffers of the government every time people pay their bill or accepts the bill in paper. The Conservatives promised to do something about that in the throne speech. Where is it? If they can do things really quick like this, why can they not put this in the budget implementation act?

There is no help for airline passengers. The Conservatives voted almost unanimously, if not unanimously, against Bill C-459, which would have provided a system to help airline passengers from the vagaries of the airlines bumping them off a flight. There was talk about that before the throne speech, but there is nothing in the throne speech or in the budget bill.

There is nothing in the budget bill that is a relief for the 200% increase in cable TV fares that have cable and satellite fees that have taken place since it was deregulated completely by the CRTC. In the throne speech the Conservatives did not even talk about that. They said that consumers would be able to pick and play whatever they want, but at a cost. If I pick a channel, it would cost me an arm and a leg. There is nothing in here for the pocketbook of the ordinary Canadian. If the Conservatives want to talk about pick and play, let us apply it to this legislation. We would like to pick and play those things that are good for Canadians and not have to vote against them, while we can vote against those things that are not good for Canadians. That is the kind of pick and play I would like to see.

We have no relief for bank fees. People from the Syme Seniors' Centre in my riding told me that just recently the banks told them that in order to get a printed statement of their bank account they would have to pay. It is a not-for-profit seniors centre that is trying to struggle through with whatever little money it can get from grants and the rest. It now has to pay to get that statement. It did not used to because it was a seniors centre. Now that it has to pay to get the statement, there is no relief. There is nothing in the budget bill that actually reduces those exorbitant bank fees.

We need to rethink how we do these budgets and not put things in a budget that have nothing to do with budgets.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 25th, 2013 / 12:35 p.m.
See context

Okanagan—Coquihalla
B.C.

Conservative

Dan Albas Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, I would like the member to answer a question in regard to essential services. He mentioned firefighters and police officers would be subject to this. The Public Service Labour Relations Act is legislation that only applies to those who come under it. Could he explain how he would square the two? It seems to me he is creating some confusion for the people who are watching. I look forward to his answer.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 25th, 2013 / 12:35 p.m.
See context

NDP

Mike Sullivan York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, that is not in fact what I said. What I said was that there were groups of individuals in the country who were bound by the definition of an essential service, and I referred to police, firefighters and ambulance attendants. Those individuals, seeing a change at the federal level, ought to be worried about where that will take us at the provincial level. When the federal level starts re-deciding what can be arbitrated and how badly an arbitrator's hands would be tied, those kinds of indications at the federal level will spring up at the provincial level. We get, “If the feds can do it why can't we?” Those individuals ought to be worried about where the government is taking us.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 25th, 2013 / 12:40 p.m.
See context

NDP

Tyrone Benskin Jeanne-Le Ber, QC

Mr. Speaker, one of the government members mentioned that it created these omnibus bills to get things done. I want to ask my colleague if he would comment on this ends justifies the means type of attitude, particularly in terms where the Conservatives seem to divide Canadian workers from Canadians. Canadian workers are the bulk of Canadian citizens. Thus, the attacks they are making on these workers are attacks on Canadians. Would my hon. colleague comment on that?

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 25th, 2013 / 12:40 p.m.
See context

NDP

Mike Sullivan York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, I agree with the comment that the government tends to attack working Canadians. It does this more than any other I have ever seen. The attacks that we find in this omnibus budget bill are attacks on ordinary Canadian workers. I use the term “budget bill” lightly because it really is not a budget bill when the government includes redefining the definition of a danger in a workplace. Those attacks take place in the context of something that the government is saying is a necessary part of the budget bill.

The government wants us to think, and wants Canadians to think, that this is ordinary, regular business, that it is ordinary for governments to throw everything into a budget, including the kitchen sink. It is not ordinary. It is extraordinary and it is extraordinary to limit debate on it. We, as parliamentarians, will not be given the opportunity to say our piece on the matters that the government has added to the bill.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 25th, 2013 / 12:40 p.m.
See context

NDP

Matthew Dubé Chambly—Borduas, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to continue to talk about the catch-all nature of this budget bill. Rather than really talking about the economy, it seems that this bill is actually a way for government ministers to correct the mistakes they have been making from the outset. The Minister of Justice made mistakes in appointing Supreme Court justices? No problem. We can change that in a budget bill. The President of the Treasury Board is a bad negotiator with public servants? No problem. We can change that in a budget bill.

This type of mentality is unbelievable, particularly from a government that says that the economy is its priority. That does not seem to be the case in this budget bill.

I would like my colleague to comment on how important it is for small businesses to have low tax rates. I was looking at the report on the state of the federal government's finances, and I noticed that the tax rate for small businesses has dropped by only 1% since this government has been in power. In comparison, the tax rate for large corporations has dropped by about 20%, if I remember correctly.

Like me, the hon. member is probably a member of the chambers of commerce in his riding. He must understand that this is unacceptable for such a government.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 25th, 2013 / 12:40 p.m.
See context

NDP

Mike Sullivan York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, my colleague's question certainly points to the difference the government has made when it comes to big business versus small business.

Obviously, big business has done very well under the government because their taxes have been reduced substantially, to the point where they are now sitting on half a trillion dollars in free cash that they are not investing. The whole point of cutting taxes for the big businesses was that they would create jobs. They did not. The real job creators in this country are the small businesses and they have not received the same kind of tax relief that we would have proposed. The government has not done this for those small businesses.

Those small businesses are the first ones to say that the bank fees they are being faced with when it comes to credit cards, which are not in the budget, are not being addressed by the government. Those small businesses are hurting from those bank fees.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 25th, 2013 / 12:40 p.m.
See context

Etobicoke—Lakeshore
Ontario

Conservative

Bernard Trottier Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to rise in the House today to talk about Bill C-4, the budget implementation act.

As members know, the bill is on the budget that was introduced in the spring of this year, and it is a very important budget.

The economic action plans that we have had have really helped the Canadian economy weather the storm of the financial turmoil that we have had around the world. We are also taking some important measures for my own city of Toronto and my constituency of Etobicoke—Lakeshore, and I would like to talk about that. However, before doing that, I would like to talk about the broader strokes of why the economic action plan is so important.

First of all, there is the identified need when it comes to skilled people in our economy, the disconnect between the available jobs out there and the people looking for work. We have put in place a plan, through the budget implementation act, to actually make that happen. We will get the provinces to get on board. They have been doing things for a long time now and we have had a lot of feedback from businesses.

The missing stakeholder in all of this job creation when it comes to labour training has been businesses and they have said very loudly, and we have responded to their request, to put in programs that really respond to their needs. That is why we have proposed the Canada job grant, subject to participation by the provinces. We hope that they will see the need and enough businesses will tell the provinces to get on board with that program.

The other big element in the economic action plan, of course, is the long-term infrastructure plan, which is critical. This is the first time that a government has put such a big infrastructure investment plan together. We are looking to invest in the much-neglected infrastructure in our cities, provinces and communities. It is critical that we have a long-term investment in infrastructure, and not just to move people around but to move goods and create jobs. That is why it is an important pillar of the economic action plan, and I will talk about some specific projects in my city of Toronto and why they are so critical.

There is also a recognition that we are now in the 21st century and our economy will be transitioning all the time, more so now than ever. That means there is a needed investment in research and innovation with a focus on the commercialization of all the great R and D that we do in this country, recognizing that once we have a commercialized set of programs, projects and services, it becomes a virtuous cycle of investment. That is the kind of far-sighted thinking that we have in this budget and why I support it so much.

Another important pillar is supporting families and communities. There are a lot of things we need to do to make sure that the costs associated with raising a family are recognized and that the measures we take in our communities to support the raising of families are also recognized.

As well, we have to look at the great successes we have had in our country with our great companies and the businesses that are world players. We have companies based in Toronto and cities across the country that can compete with anyone. They need the tools to succeed on the global stage, and they have been doing that, but they need that extra help from the federal government. In many cases, it is a “get out of the way” for the federal government. There are some measures in place in this budget implementation act that would do exactly that.

Underpinning all of this is an overall plan to return to balanced budgets, which is really critical. We are leading the G7 and most within the OECD when it comes to having a manageable debt to GDP ratio, and we are going to continue with that. We have a plan in place that would reduce our deficit and balance the budget. It is a combination of growing the economy and at the same time not raising taxes, unlike the opposition parties that keep talking about new taxes.

Members within the opposition parties say things like “amen” to new taxes. We are not saying that. We want to listen to Canadians who are saying “keep our taxes low”. They recognize that when they give $100 to the government, far less of that is actually spent on them. There is a big cut that the government takes for its bureaucracy.

Canadians want to keep their taxes low and in many cases they want to deliver the services themselves for things such as child care, for example, where they can find efficient means within their own home communities. That is why we introduced the universal child care benefit several years ago. They know they can efficiently get the child services they need.

I am going to talk about some of the context before talking about some of the specifics.

We have created over a million net new jobs since the depth of the recession in 2008. By far, it is the best job creation record in the G7. It is not just this government saying that, it is many other bodies, such as the IMF and OECD. They project that Canada is going to have the strongest growth in the G7 in the years ahead. That is because of strong, stable and consistent government when it comes to supporting business and investment, and making sure that we have the foundation for a strong economy.

The World Economic Forum ranked our banking system the soundest in the world. It is the fifth year in a row it has done that, and of course, we have our AAA credit rating in this country, which lowers our borrowing costs, again keeping our deficits low. It is really important that we keep doing some of those things and stay on the track we have been on.

Before the global recession, the Conservative government, between 2006 and 2008, actually paid down $37 billion in debt. We were looking ahead, recognizing that we needed to pay down debt. I should also mention that we did that while reducing income taxes, consumption taxes and business taxes. We grew the economy and reduced taxes and paid down a lot of debt. There was an increase in the debt during the recession. Ours was actually less than most countries around the world. Now we are looking to get back to a balanced budget.

Let me talk about taxes. A significant source of revenue for the government is tariffs and in the economic action plan we are going to eliminate tariffs on some important items, such as baby clothes, sporting goods and exercise equipment. That is about $76 million in tariff relief. This is over and above the half a billion dollars a year in tariff reduction that we have already put in place. This is very important to people who need to be able to buy things affordably and support their families, things such as baby clothes and sporting goods, even clothing. There are all kinds of things on which we have reduced tariffs significantly and we hope to keep doing that.

Another important form of taxes, of course, is EI premiums. We are looking to extend the hiring credit for small business up to $1,000 for new hires. I should mention there were over half a million employers that benefited from that. They saved about $225 million in EI premiums. That is really important. It provides that added incentive to hire some new people. There has been some strong feedback from the small business community, in particular. It really supports that program.

I am going to mention briefly some things that we are doing in BIA 2 now. There are some specific actions that we have put into BIA 2 that talk about how we need to improve the fairness and integrity of the tax system. It is really important that everyone pay their fair share. In many ways people are getting more sophisticated when it comes to avoiding taxes and we have put some measures in place that will show that we mean it when we say we are going to crack down on tax cheats. We are going to close some tax loopholes, clarify the tax rules and reduce international tax evasion. There are some tax shelters that have been utilized by Canadian companies and they will not be able to use them anymore. We are really going to reduce that aggressive tax avoidance.

One thing that really impressed me was the level of detail that we went into in BIA 2, describing even how we are going to introduce new criminal offences to deter the use, possession and sale of electronic suppression of sales software. There are businesses that have actually built tools into their point of sale software so they can avoid taxes. That is clearly illegal and it is finally time that our legislation caught up with some of these tricks that certain people are using. We are going to make that a criminal offence and that is why it is part of BIA 2.

I want to mention another important measure that I talked about earlier, which is infrastructure. This is the largest and longest federal commitment to provincial, territorial and municipal infrastructure in Canadian history. No government in Canadian history has planned to spend as much for as long a time as this government when it comes to municipal infrastructure. We are seeing some of the benefits of that in Toronto.

I should mention that since 2006 the federal government has spent over $4.5 billion on infrastructure and investment in the GTA. The GTA is an important part of our country. It is an economic engine, as are many other parts of the country. It has also had a lot of growth. Some of my colleagues from the GTA can testify to that. It has basically doubled in size as a city within our lifetimes, yet the infrastructure has not caught up. There is a real important need to make those investments. That includes things such as the Bloor-Danforth subway extension in Scarborough. We are investing in the Spadina subway extension. We are making investments with our partners in the Ontario government to improve GO Transit, for example. Of course, there is the Union Station revitalization, which is a really important building architecturally but also as a transportation and transit hub for the entire GTA.

I should mention some of the specific measures that are outlined in BIA 2, the budget implementation act. We are helping businesses succeed by providing tax relief for manufacturers. Manufacturing is important in southern Ontario, and through these measures tax relief will temporarily accelerate the capital cost allowance so the industry can make new investments in critical equipment that improves its productivity.

Regarding some specific items that are outlined in the budget, I appreciate very much the investments in things like Massey Hall, which is an important institution for the city of Toronto.

I hope the opposition will support the BIA 2. It is an important bill to keep the country moving forward.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 25th, 2013 / 12:55 p.m.
See context

NDP

Françoise Boivin Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his speech.

It would be nice to be able to support and pass this kind of bill, and we would really like to do so. However, the hon. member for Chambly—Borduas raised a number of fundamental problems.

I have a simple question I would like to ask. What are clauses 471 and 472 doing in Bill C-4? What are two clauses about appointing judges to the Supreme Court doing in a budget implementation bill?

The devil is always in the details when it comes to the Conservatives, and that is unfortunate. Then they turn around and criticize us for voting against something that is being referred for an opinion, that is challenged just about everywhere and that has nothing to do with any budget items.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 25th, 2013 / 12:55 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Bernard Trottier Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is very important that Quebec be represented on the Supreme Court.

This therefore needed to be included in a budget bill immediately, quite honestly, because it is crucial that this judge be appointed to the Supreme Court as soon as possible. This is simply a technical qualification.

Let me get back to the main point about the budget. There are so many good measures when it comes to keeping taxes low and encouraging investment. That is the most important thing. That is what creates jobs in this country. Of course, the legal framework has to be there. We are a fine country when it comes to having that framework to support business investment.

That is what is really attractive about this budget, and that is why I support it.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 25th, 2013 / 12:55 p.m.
See context

Okanagan—Coquihalla
B.C.

Conservative

Dan Albas Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, the parliamentary secretary has touched on many great projects that are in both economic action plan 2013 as well as this particular budget implementation act.

I want to make my comments, and then I have a question with regard to the Canada job grant.

Like many MPs, I spent a lot of time in my riding over the break consulting with local businesses and employers: job creators. I heard from many of them. West Manufacturing, in my area of West Kelowna, makes some of the most creative products for forestry, as well as tanks for oil and gas. However, it specifically noted that a lack of skilled labour is a key concern. The company wants to go from two shifts to three shifts, and it does not have the skilled labour.

I also met with a lot of people who are underemployed; they have credentials but they cannot find the work.

Could the parliamentary secretary flesh out why this is an important program to carry forward?

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 25th, 2013 / 12:55 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Bernard Trottier Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is not just small businesses; I have many small and medium-sized businesses in my riding of Etobicoke—Lakeshore. I spent some time this summer with the construction crafts union, a local trade union that has a fabulous training facility in Richmond Hill. It would like to participate in the Canada job grant. It says it could do the training much better than the province, and it would like to participate with the federal and provincial governments to help train much-needed people in the construction industry in the GTA. It was interesting to note that they pointed out the same gaps in the current training programs that the employers have identified.

I hope the opposition and the provinces will get on board with this great new plan.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 25th, 2013 / 12:55 p.m.
See context

NDP

Jamie Nicholls Vaudreuil-Soulanges, QC

Mr. Speaker, Canada's global competitiveness has been hampered by the Conservative government's inaction. Low taxes alone have not attracted innovators, and it is not a creative marketing policy for our economy.

According to the World Economic Forum, Canada's competitiveness would be further enhanced by improvements in its innovation ecosystems, particularly government procurement of advanced technology. It has been saying the same thing for the past five years. Why did the government wait this long? Unfortunately, my suspicion is that the government's libertarian market recklessness was responsible for this hesitation in changing its economic policy.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 25th, 2013 / 1 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Bernard Trottier Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, when it comes to making Canada a more innovative place, governments in general across the country have been spending a lot more. We are basically at the top of the OECD countries when it comes to spending.

Where we have been lacking is in the private sector. Private sector employers in Canada do not spend nearly enough on research and development. We recognize that. That is why we are supporting some advanced research and commercialization projects. We are trying to get some of the colleges and polytechnics on board, which could do some of that work when it comes to commercialization. That is one of the important measures in the budget, and I support it.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 25th, 2013 / 1 p.m.
See context

NDP

Chris Charlton Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, in a week that has been dominated by the drama of a Senate scandal and the political noose that is tightening around the Prime Minister's neck, the Conservatives' latest budget implementation bill all but flew under the radar of Canadians' attention. Despite this, Bill C-4 is profoundly important to my constituents in Hamilton Mountain.

As with all budget implementation bills, I always look forward to them with some hope. I am always optimistic that the government will recognize the trajectory of economic indicators and play a positive role in mitigating potential negative impacts for hard-working Canadians. However, while hope springs eternal, my optimism vanishes when I crack the spine of the latest Conservative budget bill. Bill C-4, unfortunately, was no exception.

In fact, this latest Conservative effort was summed up perfectly by the Toronto Star's columnist, Chantal Hébert, who aptly described the content of the 308 page bill as amounting to “a handful of sometimes half-baked and always ill-defined promises”. It was indeed a huge disappointment.

We returned to Ottawa last week after a summer recess from parliamentary proceedings that was extended by yet another prorogation. All of us have had plenty of time to knock on doors in our communities and talk to the very people who are most directly impacted by the government's budgetary policies. I certainly did that this summer. What I heard was continuing anxiety about stagnating wages, job insecurity and high household debt. Those fears are well-founded; they are not based on paranoia.

Let us review some of the facts. Over the past 35 years, under successive Liberal and Conservative governments, incomes have increased for the top 20% of Canadians, but have decreased for everyone else. There is 80% of Canadians who have seen a drop in their income. Our economy has grown by 147%, yet the real income of the average Canadian family has dropped by 7%.

At the end of last year, Canadians' household debt reached 166% of disposable income. Canada's total household debt is now dangerously close to the peak levels prevailing in the United States just before the 2008 economic crisis. Indeed, the Bank of Canada is now referring to this debt as “the biggest domestic risk” to the Canadian economy. This is not only a burden on Canadian families, it is a threat to our entire economy. Yet, all the Conservatives have to say to the millions of families struggling to make ends meet is that they have to make do with less, and their children have to make do with less.

Conservatives have done nothing to reign in the high cost of living for families. They have done nothing to guarantee retirement security for seniors. They have watched a generation of middle-class jobs disappear, but they have done nothing to create the next generation of middle-class jobs. We can and must do better.

It is time to put the interests of Canadians first. The budget implementation bill could and should have been the perfect opportunity to do just that. It should have made life more affordable for hard-working families. It should have created quality well-paying jobs. It should have ensured secure retirements. It should have fostered opportunities for young Canadians. What we got instead was a continuation of the austerity agenda, which is premised on the mistaken belief that we can cut our way to prosperity.

As David Olive from the Toronto Star noted in March of this year:

...sucking demand, or cash, out of an economy with cutbacks to government spending--including essential services and infrastructure upgrading--merely adds to the jobless lines and cuts household incomes. That, in turn, drives up social-spending costs related to mounting unemployment.

It is not as if the finance minister were oblivious to that. He, himself, has repeatedly warned of the threat that household debt poses to the economy, yet neither his spring budget nor Bill C-4 does anything to offer help to Canadians.

In a scathing review of the Conservative record on the economy, Michael Harris said, in iPolitics:

Apart from pitching a free-trade deal with Antarctica, the PM has nothing to offer on the economy besides glowing self-appraisals, bad commercials on the public dime, and discount-rate foreign workers inflating his dismal job creation numbers.

He also said:

The PM and his government are not good managers. The nauseating repetition of the claim that the Tories know what they’re doing with the country’s finances will not make it so. They’ve pissed away more money than Madonna on a shopping spree—a billion on the G8--20 meetings that put a dent in the world’s Perrier supply and little else.

They just plain lost $3.2 billion and the guy in charge over at Treasury Board is still there [...]

They are such good fiscal managers that we now have the highest deficit in our history.

With that as the backdrop, let us have a look then at Bill C-4. Unfortunately, its provisions would do nothing to prove the previous statement wrong. Instead of acting on the economy and creating jobs for an agenda of growth, the Conservatives are doing the exact opposite. Instead of creating jobs, they are continuing their ideological attacks on Canadian workers. A full third of the bill is designed solely to undermine the rights of workers.

The bill would eliminate the basic right of workers to a healthy and safe workplace, and continues its attack on the federal public service. Allow me to say a few words about those outrageous changes.

It is no exaggeration to suggest that Bill C-4 would place the lives of workers in the federal sector at risk as a result of the cynical amendments that the Conservatives would make to the Canada Labour Code. The bill would attack the right to refuse dangerous work, a hard-fought right that offered basic protection to Canadian workers. By redefining and limiting the word “danger” and undermining the work and expertise of health and safety officers by giving many of their powers to the minister, the Conservatives are essentially saying that forcing workers to work in unsafe conditions is absolutely fine by them. No New Democrat will support that. No worker should ever be forced to work in unsafe conditions and I cannot believe that any member of the House would ever knowingly vote to put workers in harm's way.

I urge my Conservative colleagues to please do the right thing and respect the rights of workers. With lives literally hanging in the balance, I urge them to ignore the party whip and do what they must know is the right thing to do, which is to oppose these objectionable changes to Canada's labour laws.

In fact, let us delete all of the labour sections from the omnibus bill. The changes that Bill C-4 would make to the Public Service Labour Relations Act would eliminate binding arbitration as a method to resolve disputes in the public service. What could possibly be the motivation for that, other than to prompt labour unrest and conflict with civil servants. Again, if my Conservative colleagues do not believe in gratuitous attacks on the very people who serve both them as government and the Canadian public, then they must vote to oppose the bill.

I am sure all members heard the interview that the Conservatives' colleague, the MP for Parry Sound—Muskoka and President of the Treasury Board gave on CBC Radio in Ottawa yesterday. It must have given every Conservative backbencher pause. The minister was being asked about sections of the bill that arbitrarily designate what “essential services” are. This is important because, as members know, any public servants that are deemed “essential” are not allowed to go on strike. That is a very serious infringement of a fundamental right. In essence, the government is stripping workers of their full collective bargaining rights.

In the very tense exchange with the CBC reporter that I referenced above, the minister absolutely refused to spell out how the government would use this new power. The President of the Treasury Board said, “I am waiting for this legislation to pass and then details will come forward.” That is contempt of Parliament. How can we be asked to vote for something that is not defined?

In the interview, the minister suggested that border guards would be deemed “essential”, but he hedged on scientists. When he was asked whether he would clarify who would be deemed “essential” ahead of the upcoming contract negotiations with a large number of bargaining units over the coming year, the exchange got downright testy. He would not deny that he could change whom he deemed “essential” at any time, including in the middle of the bargaining process. I would commend the verbatim record of that exchange to all members of the House, and Bill Curry has helpfully reproduced it for us in The Globe and Mail.

To recap, we are being asked to approve a bill that fundamentally would change collective bargaining in our country, yet we are not allowed to know the details before we vote. Instead of being ashamed of that, the minister became downright hostile when interviewed on CBC Radio.

That attitude is all of a piece when it comes to the way the current Conservative government operates. Whether it is the Senate scandal or this budget bill, there is zero accountability. The Conservatives have utter disdain for Parliament, and by extension, for the Canadians who elect us to represent them here.

I am not worried about my voice being silenced; the government should be so lucky. However, I am profoundly worried about a government whose members believe they are above the law, a government whose members believe they can do whatever they want, a government whose members believe the end always justifies the means. Nothing could be further from the truth. Our number one priority has to be to address the real priorities of Canadians. That is what I was sent here to do, and that is the responsibility that my NDP colleagues and I take very seriously.

No, I cannot vote for this budget implementation bill, and I would encourage members on all sides of the House to oppose it with me. At best, we are being asked to adopt a pig in a poke. At worst, we are continuing down a road of stagnating wages, job insecurity and high household debt. Canadians deserve better. As parliamentarians, we can and must do better. As a member of the government in waiting, I can tell members that an NDP government will do better, starting in 2015.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 25th, 2013 / 1:10 p.m.
See context

NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for Hamilton Mountain for that very clear and passionate speech.

She referenced the CBC exchange, and I have a bit of the transcript here.

The CBC says, “Who will you deem to be essential?”

The President of the Treasury Board says, “Well, I'm not going to be on your show to decide that right now, but I think we have to be fair and reasonable who we deem essential.”

CBC: “Well, can you give us an example, because...people want to know”.

The President of the Treasury Board: “Border guards.”

CBC: “Okay. I mean scientists, government scientists, would they be deemed essential?”

The President of the Treasury Board: “Look, you're going through a speculative question-and-answer and I am not going to indulge you with that.”

CBC: “Well, when will you tell the public that?”

The President of the Treasury Board: “When we are ready to tell the public.”

I wonder if the member could tell us what happened next.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 25th, 2013 / 1:10 p.m.
See context

NDP

Chris Charlton Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would be delighted, because I am sure it was absolutely the worst interview that any minister's communications assistant has ever seen their minister give.

The next question was, “And when will that be?”

The answer was, “Well, first of all this bill has to be passed, so to engage in speculation when a bill is still before Parliament I don't think is appropriate.”

The CBC asked, “Well, will you make that clarification, though? Will you make it from the outset, or will you make it in the middle of a labour dispute and suddenly deem a group of people essential so that they are not allowed to strike?”

The minister responded, “Let me answer the question this way. I think that whatever we do still has to be fair and reasonable, still subject to judicial review and the rules of natural justice, so I think the answer to your question is the government still has to act reasonably when it acts, and that hasn't changed.”

The reporter asked, “Except for that doesn't answer my question, because what I wanted to know is, are you going to deem essential a certain group of public servants from the outset, or do you have this rolling power to change who you deem essential at any time you want?”

The minister responded, “I've already given you a fair and reasonable answer to that question.”

The CBC asked, “I'm sorry. Maybe I misunderstood it, but can you just clarify?”

The minister responded, “No. Next question.”

The reporter asked, “Sorry? You can't clarify your answer to that?”

The minister responded, “I've already given you a good answer. Thank you."

The reporter asked, “I'm sorry. I wasn't satisfied with that answer. I'm just—”

The minister broke in, “I'm sorry about that, but I'm giving you the answer that is the fair and reasonable answer.”

Finally, the last question was, “Okay. Well, let's just try a yes or no, then. Will you set the group of people who will be deemed essential from the outset?”

The minister responded, “I am waiting for this legislation to pass, and then details will come forward.”

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 25th, 2013 / 1:10 p.m.
See context

Etobicoke—Lakeshore
Ontario

Conservative

Bernard Trottier Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Hamilton Mountain for her speech, in which it was perfectly clear to anyone listening that the NDP is on the side of the public sector unions when it comes to negotiations. I did not hear anything that said the New Democrats would stick up for the taxpayers who are paying the salaries of all of the people who are in the public sector unions.

Clearly there is a negotiation that will have to occur. The member has the audacity to say that the NDP is a government-in-waiting; well, it would be interesting to see if the NDP government-in-waiting would give away the store to the public sector unions. Can the member clarify whose side she would be on when sitting down with public sector unions and negotiating?

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 25th, 2013 / 1:10 p.m.
See context

NDP

Chris Charlton Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a bit rich having a member from the Conservative caucus, whose colleagues in the Senate are currently wasting public dollars at record speeds, lecturing me about accountability to taxpayers.

I will make no apologies for standing up for workers in the federal civil service. He differentiates between those workers and taxpayers as if to suggest that federal public servants do not pay their taxes. Is he kidding me?

I will make absolutely no apologies for standing up for decent-paying, family-sustaining jobs in this country, be they in the public or the private sector. Collective bargaining rights are fundamental human rights that every member in the House ought to support.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 25th, 2013 / 1:15 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Ed Komarnicki Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, today Canada has the strongest job growth among the G7 countries in the world.

Our unemployment rate is at its lowest level in four years. It is significantly lower than that of the United States, a phenomenon that has not been seen in nearly three decades. In my riding, unemployment rates are well below 5%, 4%. There is virtually no unemployment.

Meanwhile, we have created over one million net new jobs, nearly 90% of which are full time, and our government continues to make new opportunities for Canadians to find employment.

While other countries continue to struggle with debt that is spiralling out of control, Canada is in the best fiscal position in the G7. Canada still remains on track to return to balanced budgets in 2015-16. The deficit has been reduced significantly, and we are well on track to bringing it to balance.

Both the independent International Monetary Fund and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development are projecting that Canada's growth will be among the strongest in the G7 in the years ahead. Real GDP is significantly above pre-recession levels, the best performance in the G7.

All Canadians want this to continue. They want us to continue to make progress with respect to the economy, thus increasing jobs and prosperity for them and their children.

However, our government has been very clear that we will not raise taxes on Canadians to balance the budget. I know the earlier speaker said that we cannot cut our way to prosperity, but we certainly cannot tax our way to prosperity. That is a fundamental difference between this particular government and the opposition.

Our government has an economic plan that makes sense. As we have repeatedly said, Canada's economy is not immune to the economic challenges beyond our borders. We have been and will continue to be impacted by the ongoing turbulence in the United States and Europe, some of our most important trading partners.

We are moving forward and focusing on the economy, all the while keeping taxes low, which means more money in the pockets of hard-working Canadians. That in turn helps keep our economy strong.

A recent study by KPMG concluded that Canada's total business tax costs—the corporate income tax, capital taxes, sales tax, property taxes, and wage-based taxes—are more than 40% lower than those in the United States. This is what makes us competitive and makes our economy prosper. It continues to grow, and it grows jobs.

In short, our government has created an environment that encourages new investment, growth, and job creation. It is an environment that ensures that Canada has the strongest fiscal position and the lowest business tax costs in the G7.

Let me share some of the highlights of our tax relief initiatives.

Our government has implemented broad-based tax reductions that support investment and growth and is delivering more than $60 billion of tax relief to job-creating businesses over 2008-09 and the following five fiscal years.

We have reduced the federal general corporate income tax rate to 15% in 2012 from 21% in 2007 in order to spur investment and productivity. Can members imagine? It went from 21% to 15%.

The federal capital tax was eliminated in 2006, and the corporate surtax was eliminated in 2008 for all corporations. This translates into jobs and an expanded economy.

Even more, we reduced the small business tax rate to 11% in 2008 from 12% in 2007, and subsequently the amount of income eligible for this lower rate was increased to $500,000 in 2009.

Canada's system of international taxation was strengthened in order to better support cross-border trade and investment and to improve fairness.

All these actions are part of a policy framework that increases the productive capacity of our economy as well as Canadian living standards. Lower general corporate income tax rates and other tax changes have increased the expected rate of return on investment and reduced the cost of capital, giving businesses strong incentives to invest and hire in Canada. This will in turn increase Canada's productive capacity and raise living standards.

This bill is great news for Canadians. Unlike the NDP, which insists on higher taxes, economic action plan 2013 is focused on positive initiatives to support job creation and economic growth while returning to balanced budgets, thus ensuring Canada's economic advantage remains strong today and into the future.

However, the job does not end there. Today, Bill C-4 will implement key measures from economic action plan 2013, as well as certain previously announced tax measures, to help create jobs, stimulate economic growth, and secure Canada's long-term prosperity.

Our government's low-tax plan is helping to guide the Canadian economy along the path of sustainable economic growth. Bill C-4 builds on our successes and maintains our government's focus on the economy. While we believe in the benefits of lower taxes, our government fully understands that sustaining an effective tax system also rests on the foundation of tax fairness. Today I will discuss some of the key measures we are implementing to do everything possible to ensure that Canadians have a fair tax system.

That is why economic action plan 2013 is committed to closing tax loopholes that allow a select few businesses and individuals to avoid paying their fair share of tax. While Canadians work hard and pay their taxes, there are some who choose not to, and we must stop that practice. We must take initiatives to close those loopholes and ensure that the system is fair.

Chartered Accountants of Canada had this to say about economic action plan 2013:

The budget looks to close tax loopholes, address aggressive tax planning, clarify tax rules, reduce international tax avoidance and tax evasion and improve tax fairness. It also provides the Canada Revenue Agency with new tools to enforce the tax rules.

They continued with the strong backing of our initiatives and said:

We support efforts to maintain the integrity of the tax base....

This is high praise. I am proud of these measures, and I will elaborate on some of them.

Broadening and protecting the tax base supports our government's efforts to return to balanced budgets, responds to provincial governments' concerns about protecting provincial revenues on our shared-tax basis, and helps Canadians have confidence that the tax system is fair.

Ensuring that everyone pays his or her fair share also helps to keep taxes low for Canadian families and businesses, thereby improving incentives to work, save, and invest in Canada.

Since 2006, and including measures proposed in economic action plan 2013, the government has introduced over 75 measures to improve the integrity of the tax system.

Today's legislation takes additional steps in support of this objective, extending the normal assessment period by three years for a taxpayer who has failed to report income from a specified foreign property on his or her annual income tax return and has failed to properly file the foreign income verification statement known as T1135.

It introduces stiff administrative monetary penalties and criminal offences to deter the use, possession, sale, and development of electronic suppression of sales software designed to falsify records for the purpose of tax evasion.

Our systems, with the Internet, computers, and software, have made it possible for people to try to avoid tax. It is almost hard to believe that we would need such specific legislation, but let me read some portions of it.

What we now know as an electronic cash register, or a “device that keep a register or supporting documents through the means of an electronic device or computer system designed to record transaction data or any other electronic point-of-sale system” should be in place. However, here is a definition of electronic suppression of sales devices:

(a) a software program that falsifies the records of electronic cash registers, including transaction data and transaction reports; or (b) a hidden programing option, whether preinstalled or installed at a later time, embedded in the operating system of an electronic cash register or hardwired into the electronic cash register that (i) may be used to create a virtual second till, or (ii) may eliminate or manipulate transaction records, which may or may not be preserved in digital formats, in order to represent...

or misrepresent the actual point-of-transaction sale.

This legislation prohibits anyone who knowingly, or under circumstances attributable to neglect, carelessness, or wilful default, to participate, or consent or acquiesce in the use of an electronic suppression of sales device or similar device on pain of penalty. It also talks about possession of those devices and those who make them. There are stiff penalties to ensure these types of devices are not used. That is just one example of closing tax loopholes to ensure revenues are not lost.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 25th, 2013 / 1:25 p.m.
See context

NDP

Paul Dewar Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to my colleague's speech. The problem we have on this side is the government refuses to look at the budget as a framework for dealing with the finances of the country. It continually throws in other matters. Therefore, we now have this very obscure process where we cannot get from the government what its direction is in any given way. It throws in other things.

My question is around the fact that the budget would undermine health and safety in the country, particularly in this city and region. Is the member aware that just a couple of years ago we had a horrific accident here? Peter Kennedy, a loyal public servant, died because of lax health and safety provisions. This budget would further undermine those provisions. Is he aware of that? Does he support weakening health and safety provisions? This precinct does not actually have health and safety provisions to start with and he should know that. Is he capable of responding to his constituents to say that he is voting for a weakening of health and safety provisions?

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 25th, 2013 / 1:25 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Ed Komarnicki Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, certainly there is not a weakening of health and safety provisions. I do not know where the member gets that from. I was involved in human resources and labour. We certainly have invested millions of dollars with respect to health and safety of employees. It is certainly an important factor and something we take very seriously.

Not only that, but with respect to health transfers to the provinces, we have increased those transfers each and every year to record levels, far in excess of what the previous Liberal government did. In fact, what it did was reduce the amount of money transferred to try to balance its budget on the backs of ordinary hard-working Canadians. We have said we will not do that. We will invest in those areas that are important. We will ensure that we reduce taxes and stimulate the economy so there is a good generation of income so we can look after things such as the member mentioned.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 25th, 2013 / 1:25 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Frank Valeriote Guelph, ON

Mr. Speaker, as I have travelled through my own riding in Guelph, I have talked to a lot of youth. As we know, there are 224,000 less jobs available to youth now than there were before the recession. They are concerned. We have an unemployment rate for youth at about 17%. That is almost twice the national average for adults. What is worse is that rate is actually more than 25% when we consider the underemployed and those who are not even looking for jobs anymore. They are desperate and they find nothing in this budget that gives them any promise whatsoever.

What does the member opposite have to say about those statistics and what possible hope our youth have if they are to rejoin our employment force?

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 25th, 2013 / 1:25 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Ed Komarnicki Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, youth unemployment is of course an important factor and one that we take very seriously. If the member would do his research, he would find that Canada has one of the lowest unemployment rates compared to other countries in the world. Given that, we have said that we want to address that particularly and directly. We have taken initiatives to design programs to ensure that those who are underprivileged and those who are in positions where they do not have the education they need, or the job skills. We have invested funds to be sure that they are able to be part of the economy. We specifically targeted aboriginal youth.

We have created over one million net new jobs, nearly 90% full-time, nearly 85% in the private sector, since the global recession in July of 2009. We have the strongest job creating record in the G7. I would ask the member to do some analysis and have a look at where we are today compared to other countries. Compared to the previous Liberal government, we are doing very well. However, as always, more can be done.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 24th, 2013 / 3:05 p.m.
See context

NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak to Bill C-4, a second act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 21, 2013 and other measures. It was interesting to hear the Conservative House leader talk about the planned deficit reduction and how the Conservatives were ahead by $7 billion. A good question that would be welcomed at some point for the government to answer is exactly how much of that deficit reduction was as a result of money that did not flow to approved programs and services. We have certainly heard from communities that money they expected to see or proposals they had submitted had not been funded, despite the government announcements. Therefore, it would be good for the House to know that.

This bill is the second act to implement budget 2013. It is another budget implementation bill that is about 300 pages. This legislation amends or repeals 70 pieces of legislation. Some of what it tackles is: it strips health and safety officers of their powers and puts nearly all of these powers in the hands of the minister; it significantly weakens the ability of employees to refuse to work in unsafe conditions; it moves to eliminate binding arbitration as a method to resolve disputes in the public service; and it guts Canada's most venerable scientific research institution, the National Research Council.

I want to thank our House leader, the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley, for raising the fact that once again the government has limited debate. This is the fourth attempt by the Conservatives to evade scrutiny by parliamentarians and the public. In the past we had Bill C-38, Bill C-45 and Bill C-60. Canadians deserve an opportunity to hear a detailed, thorough, in-depth study of such wide-ranging pieces of legislation, yet we have the limiting of the ability of the House to scrutinize the legislation. Why should we care about that?

In the past we saw the government bring forward legislation that had errors in it. Because of the complexity of the legislation and the length of time we had to review it, the government had to bring forward subsequent legislation to correct that.

This legislation is fixing something that happened due to a technical mistake in Bill C-60, which would have doubled the taxation level of credit unions and caisse populaires. In September, tax experts discovered that the changes made in Bill C-60 would result in Quebec taxpayers being overburdened on dividends compared to taxpayers in other provinces.

Because I only have 10 minutes, I will focus on three particular aspects of the legislation.

First, the legislation would reduce the number of permanent members on the Veterans Review and Appeal Board.

Second, it would fix the mistakes with respect to the tax hike on credit unions.

Third, it would push ahead the Conservative plan on the $350 million tax hike on labour sponsored venture capital funds.

With respect to veterans, Bill C-4 would reduce the number of permanent members on the Veterans Review and Appeal Board from 28 to 25. What is disappointing is that it was an opportunity for the Conservatives to bring forward separate legislation that looked to improve the Conservative record on veterans affairs. We know the NDP has not always been happy with the Veterans Review and Appeal Board, but simply changing numbers will not improve the situation.

In my riding of Nanaimo—Cowichan, the veterans office has closed and veterans are now forced to go further afield in order to get the services they require.

Just so Canadians understand a bit about the Veterans Review and Appeal Board, of the 76,446 Canadian Forces' clients of Veterans Affairs Canada, 1,400 are totally and permanently disabled and 406 of them will not receive a pension or allowance from the Canadian Forces.

The plan proposed by the ombudsman is based on an actuarial analysis to accurately determine for the first time how current benefits neglect certain veterans and will continue to neglect them unless changes are made quickly. Veterans Ombudsman Guy Parent has said that more than 400 of the most severely disabled veterans in Canada are not eligible for the Canadian Forces pension plan, while hundreds of other permanently disabled veterans could suffer the same fate and risk spending their retirement years at a lower standard of living than they had before the age of 65 due to sufficient income.

Certainly in my riding of Nanaimo—Cowichan we hear regularly from veterans and their families about their difficulties in accessing services, that they cannot get access to some services that they expected and that the money that is available simply does not respect and honour the service to our country that many veterans made.

I have spoken in the House previously about my father being a long-serving member of the Canadian Armed Forces and I am proud to say that I grew up on army bases from coast to coast.

I have a letter from a former member of the RCMP that talks about the assault on health care benefits for members of the armed forces and the RCMP. I will read a brief note from that because I think this is part of what the Veterans Appeal Board hears about the discrepancy and the difficulties in funding and whether a member is entitled to funding. The member said:

I have written...expressing my concern and profound disappointment with the fact that the government has arbitrarily decided to claw back so many necessary treatments after we risked our health and indeed our lives...I was assured that my health and the welfare of my family would be looked after. That sacred trust has been unabashedly broken.

While that in and of itself is repugnant, my greater fear is that once the members begin to see that their efforts in ensuring the safety of Canadians may actually result in huge costs to them, they will necessarily become more hesitant to engage in actions that risk their health and well being. This policy is short-sighted, unfair and contrary to Canadian values.

When we ask members of the armed forces or members of the RCMP to risk life and limb, we need to respect that when they come back to Canada or when they retire from the forces, they are treated in a fair and respectful manner. It would be incumbent upon the government to actually work with veterans and their families to ensure the services provided are adequate.

The second piece I will touch on is fixing the mistake on the credit unions' tax hike.

The bill introduces changes to fix a legislative error the Conservatives made by rushing the last omnibus budget bill through. Their mistake hiked taxes on credit unions to 28%, instead of the intended 15%.

I will read from the Credit Union Central of Manitoba remarks to a House of Commons standing committee on Bill C-60. The reason I quote from that previous presentation is because it highlights the importance of credit unions in our communities. In my riding of Nanaimo—Cowichan we have a couple of different credit unions and they are very important in all of our communities, but in particular, in some of our smaller communities. The Credit Union Central of Manitoba said:

Many credit union branches are in communities that other financial institutions vacated because they were not deemed profitable enough. Our business model, paired with fair tax policy like the additional deduction, has made it both possible and attractive for credit unions to grow in places where our competitors have retreated.

It goes on to say that the removal in Bill C-60 of the additional deductions of credit unions would simply compound the impact of regulatory demands by requiring credit unions to pay a higher portion of their net income in federal tax and further reduce their ability to build capital, invest in new technology and stay competitive.

This was a brief that was presented when Bill C-60 was in the House for a reading and because we had limited time to debate that, there was not enough attention paid to that and other presentations on the impact of Bill C-60, so now we are amending that mistake.

It concludes its presentation by saying:

I would argue that this tax deduction has proven to be good public policy. If it were to remain in place it would continue to be good public policy because it will help credit unions provide effective competition in the financial services sector and assist with the federal government's stated desire to increase competition in this sector. It would also represent good public policy by helping maintain strong financial services in as many communities as possible and contribute to the sustainability of the many communities in rural Canada where credit unions are the only financial institution.

On the venture capital program, this has been a very successful program in British Columbia. There was an evaluation of the venture capital program and it indicated that not only did it contribute to job creation, but it also contributed to the fact that it helped grow companies which then went on to expand and become more successful companies.

Removing the supports for that program is unfortunate, particularly when the government continues to talk about the importance of job creation and supporting small business. Therefore, we would like to see the government reverse its decision on that.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 24th, 2013 / 3:15 p.m.
See context

NDP

Carol Hughes Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Mr. Speaker, my colleague is absolutely right. Over and over again, she showed the fact the government has continuously pushed through budget bills that have problems in them. Then the Conservatives have to turn around and try to fix them. Then we see government that continues down that road. Instead of learning from its mistakes and saying maybe we should have more discussion on these bills, the Conservatives actually shut down debate.

I have had numerous complaints about the processes and the cutbacks that are taking place. With Veterans Affairs, for example, now people are going to be handed some money as opposed to getting the services that they actually deserve and they will be given the money ahead of the time. That is problematic for these people because they need the money when they need the money, not too far ahead.

Maybe the member could talk about that and whether the bill is actually transparent as to the amount of money that would be put aside and especially removing the funding cap for first nations, whether that is in there. That is really important when we are looking at the first nations education bill.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 24th, 2013 / 3:20 p.m.
See context

NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, one of the points the member raised was the lack of transparency around how the bill was moving forward and the time limitations. A number of years ago we passed legislation that had to do with voter registration and voter ID. I know communities like the member's were impacted because of the fact that the bill had some mistakes in it and we subsequently had to pass new pieces of legislation to correct that legislation. The New Democrats at the time pointed out the challenges with that bill, but the Conservatives refused to listen to our amendments.

With regard to funding, the budget implement act contains absolutely no mention of the first nations education act. We saw a draft proposal that was released at eight o'clock on Tuesday night and that proposal talked about the fact that funding would come forward in regulation. We have no idea how that funding will be determined, what kind of criteria will be used, how first nations will be involved in developing that formula. When we talk about lack of transparency, that is just one more example of the lack of transparency of the government.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 24th, 2013 / 3:20 p.m.
See context

Green

Elizabeth May Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, the member has drawn our attention to changes in Bill C-4 that were necessitated by the rush in passing the previous budget implementation bill, the changes that were unintended that caused further tax damage to credit unions.

I am also aware of changes in this new bill, Bill C-4, that will be required because of mistakes made in treating income for fishermen by failing to properly deal with the income for fishermen versus highest weeks, versus their total take for the season.

It seems to me that we can make a very good case as members of the opposition that the Conservative Party mania for refusing amendments and for pushing bills through quickly is forcing Parliament over and over again to go back and pass new legislation months later to fix mistakes. Bill C-45 fixed mistakes that were in Bill C-38. Now Bill C-4 is fixing mistakes that were in Bill C-60.

Could my hon. friend give me any of her thoughts on the problems of holding up the House through passing bills too quickly?

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 24th, 2013 / 3:20 p.m.
See context

NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, for the question of the week, we heard the House leader for the Conservatives say that the reason they imposed time allocation and limited debate was about scheduling. One would wonder about a government that thinks an efficient use of time is to introduce legislation, have it debated for a limited amount of time, refer it to committee, eventually it goes to the Senate, gets royal assent and then a couple of months later, it has to introduce another piece of legislation to fix legislation that had a mistake to begin with.

When we talk about efficient use of House time, having us go back to look at same legislation twice does not seem to be a good use of our time. If the Conservatives thinks that is a good use of their time, I suggest perhaps they might want to consider their future as good economic managers in our country.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 24th, 2013 / 3:20 p.m.
See context

Mississauga—Erindale
Ontario

Conservative

Bob Dechert Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time today with the member for Sault Ste. Marie.

I am pleased to speak today in support of Bill C-4 regarding the implementation of budget 2013. Budget 2013 is full of good news and helpful measures for my community of Mississauga and, indeed, all Canadians.

I would like to take this opportunity to highlight some of the measures that are of great significance to my community, but before I do so, I believe it is important to note what is not in budget 2013. What is clearly missing from budget 2013 is new taxes. That is right; unlike Liberal budgets of the past and the dreams of the NDP, our government did not increase the tax burden on hard-working Canadians. In fact, our government has reduced the tax burden on working Canadians and job creators more than 150 times, reducing the overall tax burden to its lowest level in more than 50 years.

Our government is delivering more than $60 billion in tax relief to job-creating businesses. The federal general corporate income tax rate was reduced from 21% to 15% and the corporate surtax that represented an additional 1.12% was eliminated for all corporations. The small business tax rate, which is so important to the thousands of small business owners and their employees in Mississauga, was reduced from 12% to 11% and the amount of income eligible for this lower rate was increased to $500,000.

In fact, our strong record of tax relief has meant annual savings for a typical family of four of over $3,200. We have achieved this by cutting the lowest personal income tax rate to 15%; increasing the amount that Canadians can earn without paying tax; introducing pension income splitting for seniors; reducing the GST from 7% to 5% and putting an estimated $1,000 back into the pockets of an average family; introducing and enhancing the working income tax benefit; introducing the tax-free savings account, which is the most important personal savings vehicle since the RRSP; and increasing the age credit and the pension income credit. Overall, we have removed over one million low-income Canadians from the tax rolls.

As a lawyer engaged in advising businesses, I unfortunately witnessed thousands of jobs leave Canada during the 1990s and early 2000s due to very high personal and business tax rates compared to those in most other industrialized nations. For years, businesses chose to create jobs elsewhere and individual entrepreneurs and people with high technology skills chose to live in the United States because the unreasonably high tax rates in Canada made it difficult for them to operate a viable business.

Today, the combined federal and provincial corporate tax rates in Canada compare very favourably with those in jurisdictions such as the states of New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, Illinois and California, places that we compete with every day for the creation of jobs. This is particularly the reason why our national unemployment rate is below that of the United States for the first time in 30 years and our job-creation record is the best in the G7. With our enviable fiscal situation, having the lowest net debt to GDP ratio in the G7, we are in a very good position to keep our taxes at low and reasonable levels while our counterparts in the United States and Europe will be forced to raise their taxes to reduce their deficits and debts.

When I first ran for office, people in my community said they did not believe that any politician would actually lower taxes. Our government, led by the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance, did exactly that, and they began reducing taxes immediately upon forming government in 2006. The Mississauga Board of Trade has told me it believes that our government's tax policies have helped its members' businesses survive the recession, recover, expand and hire new employees. These are some of the most important reasons that our economy is doing much better than our competitors in the United States and Europe and that Forbes magazine has declared that Canada is the best place in the world in which to do business. I am confident that our government's tax policies will help to ensure a bright economic future for all Canadians.

In addition to the good news about taxes, the Minister of Finance indicated in his budget speech that Canada remains on track to balance the budget in 2015-16. This is very good news indeed. In addition to holding the line on government growth, budget 2013 includes more savings in government spending, totalling $2 billion by 2015-16 through numerous common sense improvements, including reducing wasteful departmental spending, reducing travel costs through the use of technology, continuing to control public service compensation and eliminating tax loopholes that benefit a select few.

As I mentioned earlier, Canada is leading the G7 in net debt to GDP ratio, and at the recent G20 conference in Russia, the Prime Minister showed real international leadership in committing to further reduce Canada's net debt to GDP ratio to 25% and encouraged other G20 nations to follow Canada's lead and make the same government spending reductions necessary to reduce their debt ratios as well.

In today's very competitive global marketplace, it is important that our manufacturers continually upgrade their productive machinery and equipment to make use of the most efficient and up-to-date technology. Utilizing the latest processes improves the quality and marketability of their products, reduces their costs of production and makes them more energy efficient.

Our government understands these realities of modern business. That is why I was very pleased to see that in budget 2013, our government is providing an additional $1.4 billion in tax relief to job creators through a two-year extension of the temporary accelerated capital cost allowance for new machinery and equipment.

This is very good news, especially in light of the Prime Minister's announcement of the comprehensive economic and trade agreement between Canada and the European Union. Our manufacturers now have very good reason to want to invest in new plants and machinery as they ramp up to take full advantage of the unprecedented access to the more than 500 million European consumers that the CETA agreement will provide to Canadian producers.

The extension of the accelerated capital cost allowance could not have come at a better time. Our government understands that small businesses are the backbone of our economy. More Canadians are employed in small businesses of less than 10 employees than in any other size of business.

Many of my neighbours in Mississauga are new Canadians. They have come to Canada from every nation in the world with skills, drive and ambition, strong work ethics and a determination to succeed. However, most new Canadians do not find work in the ranks of large industrial corporations. More often than not, they start their own small businesses and create work for other Canadians.

That is why I am happy to note that budget 2013 will extend and expand the temporary hiring credit for small businesses. An estimated 560,000 employers will benefit from this measure, and it is expected to save small businesses about $225 million in 2013.

I have been told by many small business owners that this has helped them to expand, and with the signing of the CETA agreement, these entrepreneurs will be able to meet the new opportunities created by opening European markets to our goods and services.

Investments in public infrastructure create jobs, drive economic growth and provide a high quality of life for families in Mississauga and every community across Canada. Mississauga and Peel region have benefited greatly from investments made by our government since 2006 in transit, roads, water treatment, a new celebration square, improvements to community centres, libraries and pools, a new instructional centre for University of Toronto Mississauga and a new Mississauga campus of Sheridan College, among dozens of other projects.

Mississauga and other municipalities have been asking for long-term predictable infrastructure funding. Budget 2013 delivers this certainty for the next 10 years by providing more than $53 billion in predictable infrastructure funding.

This represents the largest and longest federal investment in job-creating infrastructure in Canadian history, including a community improvement fund of $32.2 billion through gas tax fund payments and the GST rebate for municipalities to support community infrastructure projects that will improve the quality of life of Canadian families; a new building Canada fund of $14 billion to support major economic infrastructure projects; a renewed P3 Canada fund of $1.25 billion to build infrastructure projects faster through public private partnerships; and over $10 billion in investments in federal public infrastructure.

Canadians know that our Conservative government believes in keeping families strong. Budget 2013 contains several key measures to help Canadian families, including enhancing the adoption expense tax credit to better recognize the unique costs associated with adopting a child, and supporting palliative care services.

Canadian businesses succeed globally and are well poised to take advantage of the new opportunities created by unfettered access to the European market by continually innovating and commercializing new products and technologies. Our government is supporting them by improving support for Canada's aerospace industry by investing almost $1 billion in the strategic aerospace and defence initiative, which will benefit important Mississauga employers such as Pratt and Whitney Canada and Honeywell.

All of these measures and more will ensure the future economic prosperity and security and quality of life for the people of Mississauga and all Canadians. For these reasons, I am pleased to support Bill C-4 and encourage all hon. members to do likewise.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 24th, 2013 / 3:30 p.m.
See context

NDP

Raymond Côté Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Mississauga—Erindale for his speech. Unfortunately, however, he still believes in magical thinking.

The member is contradicted by the senior deputy governor of the Bank of Canada. In a recent speech to the Economic Club of Canada in Toronto, Tiff Macklem clearly stated that Canada's exports have fallen dramatically. In fact, they remain $35 billion below their pre-recession peak and more than $130 billion below where they would be in an average export recovery.

In fact, the observation that the senior deputy governor of the Bank of Canada made was that many Canadian exporters have gone bankrupt or have turned to the domestic market.

I would like to know how my government colleague can deliberately turn a blind eye to such a dire situation.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 24th, 2013 / 3:35 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Bob Dechert Mississauga—Erindale, ON

Mr. Speaker, I think my hon. friend is forgetting that Canadians export not only products but services as well. In fact, the Canadian service sector is very large and growing every day. The good news about the Canada-European Union trade agreement is that it also includes free trade for services.

When we take that into account, we will find that Canada is doing very well indeed. That is why Canada has created over one million net new jobs since the bottom of the recession. That is why it is leading the G7 in job creation. That is why the economic future of Canadians is very bright indeed.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 24th, 2013 / 3:35 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is fairly well established that one of the greatest expenditures a province has is in the whole area of health care. One of the greatest voids or vacuums that is out there is any form of leadership on the health care file coming from the Prime Minister and the Conservative government.

In fact, we all know the health care accord expires in 2014, yet there has been zero effort from the Prime Minister and the government in trying to address the need to replace the health care accord.

This issue is very important to every Canadian. No matter where they live in Canada, Canadians are concerned about the future of health care. They want to know that health care is going to be there for them and their family members.

When we take a look at budget implementation or the priorities of government in dealing with the budget, we wonder why the government has not taken the opportunity to be very clear and make a solid commitment in the form of renegotiating a health care accord that would take us into the next decade.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 24th, 2013 / 3:35 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Bob Dechert Mississauga—Erindale, ON

Mr. Speaker, of course health care is very important to every Canadian, but I find this a bit rich coming from a member of the Liberal Party, which cut $25 billion out of health care transfers to Canadian provinces and put the health care system in Ontario at great risk. I can speak from personal experience on this.

I find it bizarre that he is asking me about our government's spending on health care when our government has, first of all, restored the $25 billion that the Liberals took away from health care transfers. We increased the health care transfers for 6% every single year and we continue to do so. Those negotiations are ongoing.

No government has ever spent more on health care funding than this government.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 24th, 2013 / 3:35 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Stella Ambler Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my hon. colleague from Mississauga—Erindale for his speech and, in particular, for mentioning the improvements that our city, Mississauga, has seen through various economic action plans over the years. He has been in the House longer than I have, so I think he knows a bit more about the history, but I do see every day, when travelling through my riding and the hon. member's riding next to mine, that there have been many benefits to Mississauga.

Could the member perhaps give us a few more details about some of the infrastructure projects and some of the improvements that the economic action plans over the years have given to Mississauga?

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 24th, 2013 / 3:35 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Bob Dechert Mississauga—Erindale, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for her great question. She is doing a wonderful job representing the people of Mississauga South. Of course she knows, as I do, that Mississauga has received funding from the federal government for approximately 250 projects across the city, which is completely unprecedented in Canadian history. Never has the City of Mississauga received more funding from the federal government. In fact, the former Liberal member of Parliament for the riding that I represent said that in the 13 years she was a member of Parliament, the federal government invested a total of maybe $15 million in one project in the City of Mississauga.

Unfortunately, I do not have a lot of time to go further, but I know that my colleague knows of many of these projects. Everywhere we go in Mississauga, we will see improvements that the federal government has invested in there.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 24th, 2013 / 3:40 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Bryan Hayes Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to add my comments to today's debate on Bill C-4, a piece of legislation that would create jobs and economic growth in communities across our country, including my riding of Sault Ste. Marie. Indeed, today's legislation is part of our government's plan to create jobs and economic growth and to secure Canada's long-term prosperity for years to come.

As a matter of fact, since 2006, our government has been taking concrete action to ensure that Canada's economy remains strong. Unlike the high-tax New Democrats and Liberals, our Conservative government believes in keeping taxes low and leaving more money where it belongs: in the pockets of hard-working Canadian families and job-creating businesses. That is why since 2006 we have cut taxes over 160 times, reducing the overall tax burden to its lowest level in 50 years. Overall, our strong record of tax relief has helped remove over one million low-income Canadians from the tax rolls. That is not all. It has also meant savings for a typical Canadian family in 2013 totalling over $3,200.

How did we accomplish this? The answer is simple. We have cut taxes in every way government collects them: personal taxes, consumption taxes, business taxes, excise taxes, and more. This includes cutting the lowest personal income tax rate to 15%; increasing the amount Canadians can earn without paying tax; introducing pension income splitting for seniors; reducing the GST from 7% to 5%, putting an estimated $1,000 back in the pockets of an average family; introducing the tax-free savings account, the most important personal savings vehicle since RRSPs; reducing the small-business tax rate from 12% to 11%; eliminating consumer tariffs on babies' clothes, sporting goods and exercise equipment. The list goes on.

It is measures such as these, which leave more money in the pockets of Canadians, that have helped Canada to emerge from the recession in one of the strongest positions among the developed world. In fact, since the depth of the recession, over one million net new jobs have been created, with most in high-wage industries. This is by far the strongest job creation record in the entire G7. Indeed, Canada's unemployment rate is at its lowest level since December 2008 and remains below that of the U.S., a phenomenon that has not been seen in nearly three decades. Contrary to what the opposition leaders may believe, Canada is on strong economic footing.

However, we are not the only ones who think so. Let us see what others are saying. Moody's report on Canada for 2013 states that thanks to its diversity and solid fundamentals, Canada's economy has weathered the post global financial crisis period better than most of its peers.

According to Fitch Ratings:

Canada has a good track record of prudent fiscal management. Its fiscal credibility was boosted by the timely withdrawal of the fiscal stimulus implemented during the global financial crisis and the roadmap provided...to achieve a balanced federal government fiscal position by 2015/16. ...the consolidation path is realistic.

With reviews like these, it is no wonder Canada is one of the few countries in the world to boast a triple-A credit rating from the three major credit rating agencies.

Let us talk a bit about support for job creators. Despite Canada's economic success, we cannot become complacent, and our government understands that. We have repeatedly said that Canada's economy is not immune to economic challenges beyond our borders. We have been and will continue to be impacted by the ongoing turbulence in the U.S. and Europe, among our most important trading partners. That is why the Canada–EU trade agreement is so significant. It will bring an additional $12 billion annually to the Canadian economy, creating 80,000 new jobs and opening up a market of 500 million consumers and a $17-trillion economy.

That is also why economic action plan 2013 focuses on positive initiatives to support job creation and economic growth while returning to balanced budgets, ensuring Canada's economic advantage remains strong today and into the future.

Today's legislation contains a number of measures to support job creation and economic growth. This includes extending and expanding the job hiring credit for small business, which would benefit an estimated 560,000 employers and provide an estimated $225 million in tax relief in 2013. Bill C-4 would also increase and index the lifetime capital gains exemption. This positive measure would increase the rewards of investing in small business by making it easier for owners to transfer their family business to the next generation of Canadians. Today's legislation would also expand the accelerated capital cost allowance to further encourage investments in clean energy generation.

That is not all. Our government is continuing to build on our sound economic position by freezing EI premium rates for the next three years. This action alone would leave $660 million in the pockets of job creators and workers in 2014 alone.

Despite what the opposition may have us believe, this tax relief would help support Canada's continued economic recovery and sustained, business-led, long-term growth. However, do not take my word for it. Let us hear what others have to say. Diane J. Brisebois, president and CEO of the Retail Council of Canada agrees. She says, “This freeze on premiums will mean more money for employers to invest in other important areas such as employment, training and infrastructure.”

Dan Kelly, president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, said the “announcement of an EI rate freeze is fantastic news for Canada’s entrepreneurs. This move will keep hundreds of millions of dollars in the pockets of employers and employees which can only be a positive for the Canadian economy.”

There is more. Joyce Reynolds, the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association's executive-vice president of government affairs notes:

Payroll costs have a significant impact on overall labour costs. They are a barrier to hiring, particularly for inexperienced workers.... We are pleased the government is demonstrating commitment to youth...by holding the line on these profit-insensitive costs.

Unlike the opposition, our government understands that tax relief is important to Canadian families. I encourage the members opposite to vote in favour of this important measure, which would leave more money in the hands of Canadians.

Canada is leading the world in job creation, with more than one million net new jobs created since the depth of the recession. However, there is work yet to be done. That is why implementing Canada's economic action plan is so important. It is for that reason that I urge all members of the House, and especially the members opposite, to support these job creating measures.

Although, who are we kidding, we all know the opposition will be voting against these measures as they have time and time again. The only thing the NDP seems to support are risky spending schemes and forcing a $20 billion carbon tax on Canadian consumers and job creators. That is more than I can say for the Liberals, who unbelievably do not even have a plan for the economy. They have announced the plan will be released during election mode in 2015. That is unheard of.

It is clear, and Canadians know this, that when it comes to the economy, our Conservative government continues to be the right choice.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 24th, 2013 / 3:45 p.m.
See context

NDP

Guy Caron Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, now that the member has very obediently recited his talking points on this issue, I note that he was very interested in quoting people in support of his statements. I have a quote for him, and I would like him to comment on it. It comes from Michel Leblanc, who is president and CEO of the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal. He is referring to labour-sponsored funds, for which, as we know, the tax credit for investors will be gradually eliminated, falling from 15% to 0%.

Mr. Leblanc's remarks are as follows:

Labour-sponsored funds are a key part [of our financial ecosystem]. They have invested more during hard economic times. They have helped Quebec perform better. Quebec businesses did not suffer the credit crunch [in 2008 and 2009], as was the case elsewhere.

It clearly states here that abolishing the tax credit could result in the elimination of 20,000 jobs in Quebec and that more than 110,000 jobs have been created so far and are being maintained by the FTQ's Fonds de solidarité.

I would like to know how the member for Sault Ste. Marie can justify this measure, which will destroy jobs in Quebec.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 24th, 2013 / 3:50 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Bryan Hayes Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Mr. Speaker, the reality is that there have been over one million net new jobs since we formed government, since the depth of the recession. That is what is important to Canadians.

We are going to create even more new jobs with the Canada-European Union trade agreement. As a matter of fact, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce said, “with the global economy continuing to struggle, such initiatives are more important than ever”. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business applauds the federal government. The Canadian Council of Chief Executives said, “For Canadian consumers, companies and workers, the overall impact [will be] positive”. The Forest Products Association of Canada said, “We welcome this trade deal and appreciate the government’s...push in the area of freer trade”.

This government is working toward jobs. It is positively happening and will continue to happen.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 24th, 2013 / 3:50 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the comments the member is making. One of the biggest concerns Canadians have is with the whole process we are expected to follow with the Conservative majority government mentality, which uses budget implementation bills to corral other legislative initiatives, pack them in and then apply time allocation, thereby preventing due diligence and an adequate amount of debate on a wide variety of bills. In fact, when he was in opposition, the Prime Minister was very upset when the Liberals introduced an omnibus bill that had 100 pages to it. The current bill is 400 pages. In the last session another was 500 pages. We had one that was 800 pages. They are huge bills.

With regard to his thoughts on providing due diligence, how does he justify putting time allocation on a bill that would change so much in terms of legislation? It is not just the budget we are talking about but many other pieces of legislation. How does he justify that to Canadians?

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 24th, 2013 / 3:50 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Bryan Hayes Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Thank you, I'm happy to be here.

Every Canadian had access to pre-budget consultations. In my riding, I held budget consultations. I stood in front of city council and had budget consultations with council members. I gave them the opportunity to speak and listened to their concerns. That is what is incorporated in the budget implementation bill, the concerns of my constituents and constituents across Canada.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 24th, 2013 / 3:50 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Blaine Calkins Wetaskiwin, AB

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my good friend for his thoughtful words. I am reminded by not only his speech but the speech from the previous speaker, the parliamentary secretary, of a good friend of mine that I went to university with, Dr. Brent Weinhandl, a dentist in the city of Wetaskiwin. After the election in, I believe, 2000, when the Liberals somehow won and had no right by our standards to do so, I said to him, “That's it, I'm moving out of here. I can't stand these high taxes. I have the skills necessary and I'm going to move to the States”. I cooled off a little, but the next day I phoned him up and he had already made the move to sell his business and move to the States to avoid the taxes and the gross misconduct of the previous government.

I want the member to talk about the value of the low taxes that we have across the board and also what was in the throne speech about capping spending and legislating mandatory balanced budgets.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 24th, 2013 / 3:55 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Bryan Hayes Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Mr. Speaker, that was a great question. As a former small-business owner in my riding of Sault Ste. Marie, I cannot say enough about low taxes. They are so necessary.

For major corporate employers in Sault Ste. Marie, such as Essar Algoma Steel, Tenaris Algoma Tubes, G-P Flakeboard, it is absolutely imperative that the corporate tax rate stays where it is. This is a globally competitive economy. We need to compete and we have a government that understands that.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 24th, 2013 / 3:55 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Yvonne Jones Labrador, NL

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to stand in the House to speak to the debate that is ongoing here and to talk about my riding and the economy in that part of our country.

First of all, I want to thank the people of Labrador for electing me as their member of Parliament and for allowing me the great privilege of representing them in the House of Commons of Canada. I also want to acknowledge and thank my colleagues within the Liberal Party and our leader of the Liberal Party for having such a dynamic vision for Canada, for being part of a team that is out there promoting the Liberal values and morals that are the foundation of our country.

I live in a very beautiful and vast region of this country. Even to this day, very few people know of its beauty and the value of its place in our country. It is known as “the land God gave to Cain”, which was coined by an explorer, Jacques Cartier, in 1534. It is a land known for its rugged beauty and distinct culture and as the resource energy house of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. It is a vast landscape that has spiritual beliefs steeped very deep within its roots, and these roots are far-reaching and wide.

Let me give that statement a bit of context as I tell members about Labrador. Labrador's land mass is roughly 300,000 square kilometres. To look at it another way, we could fit the entire provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and the island of Newfoundland within Labrador's borders. This is a good reason so many people call Labrador “the big land”. I do not have to tell my colleagues what it is like trying to travel through my riding when I have to cover that kind of distance over so many different communities, some that are completely isolated, others that are connected by road.

For thousands of years, the indigenous people, including the Innu and the Inuit, harvested the land and the sea for the sustenance and longevity of their communities without much involvement or interference from anyone, including governments. However, as time passed, and through the late 1700s and early 1800s, trading with European companies increased. We have heard a lot of talk about trade with Europe in recent days.

Even back in the 1800s, trading with European companies was starting to increase. More and more, the English and the French began to settle in Labrador, as well as missionaries, including the Church of England, the Methodists, the Moravians, and the Roman Catholics. All of those faiths shared a belief with the indigenous people. To this day, the Moravian and the Roman Catholic churches remain an important piece of modern-day aboriginal culture in many parts of my riding.

Labrador's history is indeed rich and indeed has been very challenging over the years. Labrador was under Quebec jurisdiction between 1774 and 1809, when it was returned to Newfoundland. Quebec disputed the decision until 1927, which is actually just less 100 years ago. It was the British Privy Council at that time that defined the western boundary of Labrador and deemed Labrador to be under the jurisdiction of Newfoundland. There was no vote. There was no referendum. In fact, at no time in our history did anyone ever ask the people of Labrador what they wanted.

That is how the evolution of the great riding I represent came to be today. The political drama of who was to own Labrador did not end there, however. In 1932, the then bankrupt Dominion of Newfoundland was embroiled in a political vote and scandal that saw the resignation of its prime minister, Sir Richard Squires, and the attempted sale of Labrador back to Canada. The deal to sell the big land fell through, and once again, without any input from Labradorians, Labrador was given back to Newfoundland.

As part of the youngest province in our great country, our history's future began to speed up with the onset of World War II. The Canadian Forces base in Goose Bay, now forever known as 5 Wing Goose Bay, was built in 1941. It was used by the United States and Canada during the war that saw thousands of military personnel change the landscape and identity of Labrador forever.

Central Labrador is now the hub of that region. It is where south meets north and west connects east. Labrador is home to roughly 30,000 people, with approximately two-thirds of them living in western and central Labrador. Western Labrador is where some of the largest and richest iron ore deposits in our country are. In fact, it has some of the largest deposits of iron ore in North America.

The natural resources available in Labrador have caught the world by storm. At no other time in history has there been so much international attention and interest in the region, from iron ore to nickel to hydro-electric power, not to mention the natural gas and oil that is being discovered off the Labrador coast. All of this development and exploration has had many effects on Labrador and on Labradorians, some of them positive and some of them negative.

What this progression has done for our province on the world stage is have a direct and undeniable effect not only in world markets but on the future of our aboriginal people.

Labrador is home to three distinct aboriginal cultures. This adds to the colourful tapestry of our history and our lineage. As I alluded to earlier, for thousands of years, the Inuit and Innu travelled throughout Labrador, hunting and fishing and later trading with Europe.

Today the indigenous people have made many positive strides in self-governance and preservation and promotion of their own culture. In 2005, the Labrador Inuit Association, the political advocacy group that represents the Inuit in Labrador transitioned to self-government with the formation of the Nunatsiavut government.

Now under the leadership of their president, Sarah Leo, the Nunatsiavut government has direct control over Labrador Inuit lands and has regional governance over five communities in northern Labrador. In fact, the impact of the Inuit in Labrador is far-reaching. In southern Labrador, there is evidence of Inuit settlements and documentation of English and French traders working with and engaging in social activities with the Inuit people.

Today, the NunatuKavut community council, which is led by former member of Parliament, Todd Russell, represents some 6,000 southern Labrador Inuit and continues to press the provincial and federal governments for their own land claims, self-government, and recognition. I will push for them, as well, under Canada's aboriginal self-governance model, because they deserve to be represented as part of the aboriginal Inuit population of Labrador.

We reference Canada as a multicultural country. Labrador being one of the most unique regions of this nation could be considered a multicultural body in its own right. Like the Inuit and Innu of Labrador, we have a deep spiritual and strong practical connection to the land and to the sea. The Innu first nations people, numbering over 2,200, are formally represented by the Innu Nation. They live mainly in two communities in Labrador: Sheshatshiu in central Labrador and Natuashish in the north coast of Labrador.

Since the formation of the Innu Nation, the Innu people have benefited greatly from many natural resource developments in the region, and like the NunatuKavut, the Innu Nation has land claim agreements and impact benefit agreements with both the provincial and federal governments.

The aboriginal peoples, along with the white settlers, who date back nearly 400 years in that area, and the Basque whalers who came from Spain over 1,500 years ago, are the people who chose Labrador as their home. They have all gifted us with their knowledge and colourful history and have shown Labrador respect, demanding only the best from those who govern and real attention from those who choose to be the decision-makers in their land.

This last year, Red Bay, which was the home of the early Basque settlers who came from the old country, was designated a world UNESCO district. I want to congratulate all those involved in making this happen for the community of Red Bay. It puts Labrador on the map of the world so that many people may learn who we really are, not just as Labradorians and Newfoundlanders but as Canadians.

Labrador is also home to Torngat Mountains National Park, which lies in the sacred lands of the Inuit and borders Ungava Bay in the north. I have had the opportunity to hike and camp in the Torngat Mountains. I have witnessed the melting of the glaciers and have seen first hand the impact of modern-day industry on our environment. Those who defy that such things are happening are living in a land that will continue to suffer because of their attitude.

In my treks through the Torngat Mountains, I have had the opportunity to learn the trails of the early Inuit who crossed over from Labrador to Quebec, and yes, I have been to the highest peak in Labrador. The view from there is breathtaking, as it is from all across our country.

Today we are focused on two other famous Canadian landmarks that lie in the heart of my riding of Labrador: the Mealy Mountain national park, which is currently in the planning and implementation phases at Parks Canada; and Battle Harbour, the 17th century fishing village that represents our fishing industry and trade with Portugal, Spain, and France as well as the link for the Newfoundland floater fishery for more than 200 years.

Battle Harbour is currently designated a national historic site, yet it is run by a non-profit board that finds it difficult to continue without core funding. This historic piece of Canada is at risk without the financial support and recognition of Heritage Canada and the Canadian government.

We are a country that takes pride in who we are and in our history. Therefore, we should always make way to ensure that it is preserved and continues to tell the story of a great nation.

As rural Canadians and distinct aboriginal cultures, our challenges as a society are compounded. We have some of the largest developments and exports of minerals, such as iron ore, nickel, and copper, and the largest energy development project in history, on the Churchill River, with another development ongoing that will add 850 megawatts of clean energy to Canada's energy warehouse. We have a fishery with export and harvesting partnerships that we share with the Arctic and other foreign jurisdictions.

We have a tiny population of 30,000 people over 300,000 square miles, but we employ at least 3,000 or more people, other Canadians who fly in and out of Labrador, on a daily basis. We are very proud of our industrial record and of what we are able to contribute to this country from such a small group of people in a corner of rural Canada.

We are Labrador's resources. We are the second largest contributor to the GDP of Newfoundland and Labrador, next to oil and gas, but we lag far behind the rest of the province and country in infrastructure. I ask you why. How could a land of such abundance be lacking in so many ways?

In the 21st century, Labrador is only now being connected by highway. While the northern portion is not yet built and the southern portion is bad, gravel-top road, the Canadian government today that governs this country has not seen its way to designate the Trans-Labrador Highway as part of our Trans-Canada Highway system. This in itself shows the real disregard for our people who live in a rural and northern society of our country.

We are one of the most industrialized regions, contributing millions in tax dollars to the country. We have the largest exports of iron ore of anywhere in North America, yet we do not have cellphone coverage in most of our communities. We do not have broadband or even Internet access. Companies say that this is an investment for governments, for there is no return for them as a private company to build the infrastructure in these northern areas.

The government opposite talks about a break on roaming fees, which is all good, but what about those who have no place to roam in the digital age? What about all of those communities in the rural and northern areas that cannot connect? As Canadians, if we cannot connect, we cannot be full players in the 21st century in this country.

Earlier in my speech, I talked about 5 Wing Goose Bay, the Canadian military base in Labrador whose assets and geographic position make it the primary location for search and rescue and training for the north, including the Arctic regions. This base, 5 Wing Goose Bay, is a valuable Canadian asset that, if mandated appropriately, could be one of the major response bases for training the military and our Canadian Rangers and for search and rescue operations. It could be the staging area to launch our jurisdictional claims to sovereignty in the Arctic. I am asking the government opposite to stop using this military base as election bait and start using it to create real opportunities for the Canadians in this country.

The government opposite has been clouding 5 Wing Goose Bay with false promises, promising the moon but delivering darkness. Show people real respect, I say to the government opposite. Follow through on commitments. Start investing and measuring up to the expectations that it has left with people. They are people who work hard on the ground in the country every day.

I will not relent on this issue because I know the potential is there. If only the naysayers within government would remove their blinders and see the real opportunity that comes with a gift such as 5 Wing Goose Bay.

I could go on extensively on many of these issues. As the House knows, I have spent my life in Labrador. I am the proud daughter of a fisherman and of a mother who crafts from seal skin in a very elegant way. I am the granddaughter of an Inuit woman, and I know the significance of being in a culture that is dependent on the land and the sea for survival. I represent people who are strong supporters of this country and who have contributed so much in building the country we know today. We are northerners. We are rural people. We deserve the same benefits in this country as all other people.

I will work hard to ensure that the economy of these regions is recognized by the government opposite and ensure that these people get the investments they so deserve.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 24th, 2013 / 4:15 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Blaine Calkins Wetaskiwin, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate my colleague for her speech. I am guessing this is her maiden speech in the House, so I congratulate her on that.

I wish her all the best of luck in convincing the rest of her Liberal colleagues and former Liberal senator Mac Harb on the value of the seal hunt. I wish her well with that. We are pretty solid on this side of the House insofar as supporting rural economies and ensuring we respect those traditions.

The member for Kings—Hants cannot contain himself, so I will ask a question for the member about the member for Kings—Hants, who might be a bit worried about his position as the finance critic, given the great comments from his party's candidate in Toronto Centre if she should ever get elected. This is Chrystia Freeland speaking in the presence of a leader of the Liberal Party, the member for Kings—Hants. Here is what she had to say on jobs:

It is increasingly the case that your job prospects are correlated not with how hard you work, not with how well you did at school, but with the job that your father had.

I find those comments a bit ironic and, frankly, moronic. I just wonder if the new member for the Liberal Party would agree with that sound economic policy from the Liberals' star candidate.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 24th, 2013 / 4:15 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Yvonne Jones Labrador, NL

Mr. Speaker, first I am going to say that we take the equality of opportunity very seriously on this side of the House. My colleague, the member for Kings—Hants, has been one of the few people who have stood up in this Parliament on a regular basis talking about what is happening clearly with young Canadians and how they have borne the brunt of the recession that we have experienced in this country. He has talked about the youth unemployment rate. He has talked about the need to reach out and extend more resources to young people all across the country. He has done a marvellous job, and we commend him for that.

On the seal hunt, I want to say this, and I want to ensure it is noted on the record. My father went to the ice. My brothers still go to the ice to hunt seal. My mother has sewn sealskin until her fingers have been sore. To this day she makes a living from making this product. I cannot determine what the views of individual members of Parliament are in this House of Commons or in the Senate. I cannot determine how other Canadians will reflect upon this industry. However, I will tell members that it is a part of who I am, and it is a part I am proud to say I belong to. We continue to promote this industry, we continue to hunt, we continue to use the product and we do so in a very humane way. It is a part of who we are, and we make no apologies for that.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 24th, 2013 / 4:15 p.m.
See context

NDP

Jack Harris St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, I too would like to congratulate the member for Labrador on her speech. I have a history with the hon. member. In fact, she and I visited southern Labrador many years ago when we were both in the Newfoundland and Labrador legislature. She sat as an independent at that time, and I do not think I need to tell hon. members here today that she will be as feisty a member in this House as she was in the Newfoundland and Labrador legislature for 16 years. I congratulate her on her maiden speech, that being the conventional name for this, although it is probably a little inappropriate given the member's political experience.

I was in southern Labrador recently during a provincial byelection, and I can agree with the hon. member about the road conditions and about the lack of cellphone coverage. Never mind roaming fees or fees of any kind, residents of southern Labrador, and other parts of Labrador as well, just cannot communicate in a modern way, and I know these improvements have to be made and I know the member will continue to fight for them.

I want to talk about search and rescue in Goose Bay in particular. We all know about the tragedy of last year. Is the hon. member aware that the search and rescue mandate of the squadron in Goose Bay was in fact downgraded? Instead of having, as it had before, a secondary SAR responsibility, when the report came out after the tragedy of last year, the military spokesperson said it had no role in search and rescue other than any other military aircraft anywhere. Is the member aware that this downgrade has taken place? What is she prepared to do to help fight to restore that?

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 24th, 2013 / 4:20 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Yvonne Jones Labrador, NL

Mr. Speaker, my colleague is absolutely right. My first election in politics was as an independent member in the Newfoundland and Labrador legislature in 1996, and he was at that time the leader of the New Democratic Party in Newfoundland and Labrador, and we actually shared a wing of offices. We got to discuss many issues back in those days.

I am aware of what has been happening with regard to the search and rescue operations in Labrador. It is really unfortunate that it took the loss of life of a 14-year-old Inuit boy from the small town of Makkovik, for people to start looking at where search and rescue is in this country and how we have not been able to fulfill the expectation or even meet the basic safety requirements to ensure people that comfort in many parts of the country, especially in northern regions of the country.

When that happened, people in Labrador, in Newfoundland, all over the country and in this legislature asked the government opposite to do an inquiry into the death of Burton Winters to see what went wrong. Where did the protocols go wrong? Why was the response system of search and rescue not adequate to respond at that time? Where do we need to make improvements?

We never did get the inquiry. We never did get the investigation. Instead, a government minister, who is no longer in this legislature, flew into Labrador and made an announcement that a third helicopter would be added to provide those services in Labrador. We found out a few months later that at the base in Goose Bay there was no longer a requirement to respond to those search and rescue calls. What was the point of adding the helicopter?

If there is a supplementary question, I will explain the rest of the answer in more detail.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 24th, 2013 / 4:20 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Yvonne Jones Labrador, NL

Mr. Speaker, it is important to note that when the announcement was made that there would be a third helicopter added at 5 Wing Goose Bay and that this would be seen as an improvement to responding to search and rescue operations, we learned two things: one was that protocols got changed and there was no longer a requirement to respond, but we also learned that when the next tragic event occurred, the helicopters were not available. They were down for maintenance, or were unable to be used or had been sent out. There was every reason why these helicopters could not respond.

It is no good to pay lip service when people's lives are in jeopardy. When Canadians need to make the call for search and rescue, someone has to respond. They cannot respond if the human resources and the infrastructure are not provided in this country to do so. That is the reason that our party has been calling upon the government on a daily basis to respond to those needs.

Just recently, my colleague, one of the senators, obtained a DND report through freedom of information, which I had an opportunity to read. In that report it highlighted very clearly the deficiencies that exist in search and rescue in northern Canada and the depleted and worn-out aircraft that are available and their inadequacy to respond in emergencies. It also talked about coastal waterways and response mechanisms of the Canadian Coast Guard and how those need to be improved as well.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 24th, 2013 / 4:25 p.m.
See context

Conservative

David Wilks Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, I had a whole speech planned, and then when I was looking through this document, Dominion Coal Blocks jumped out at me on page 209.

To a lot of people here, the Dominion Coal Blocks probably do not mean a lot, but they are located in my area. I want to give a little history about them and discuss the importance of what is going to happen with the federal government and industry with regard to moving forward on things not only in my area but across Canada.

In 1905 the Dominion Coal Blocks, which are commonly referred to in my area as parcels 73 and 82, were part of lands that were received from the federal government in exchange for the subsidy to use for the construction of the Crowsnest railway, which is commonly referred to now as the Crow rate. The coal blocks were created because of the coal that was found in the Elk Valley back in 1898. As a result of that, this land has sat for the last 107 years more or less on its own, with a bit of forestry and a bit of top burden being used over the years.

The importance of these lands to Canada, British Columbia, and the Elk Valley became evident several years ago, in 2011, the year I was elected to Parliament. The importance of coal with respect to Canada's exports was highly regarded.

The federal government has decided to divest itself of the Dominion Coal Blocks. This is huge for Canada and for the export of metallurgical coal. I want to briefly explain why it is so important.

There are very few places in the world where one can find metallurgical coal, or steel-making coal, as it is referred to. One of the main places that it can be found in the world is in the very southeast corner of British Columbia, in a place called the Elk Valley.

We produce about 1% of the national GDP each year from the export of metallurgical coal, and as a result of that the Dominion Coal Blocks become very important.

The decision to consider selling a portion of the Dominion Coal Blocks is consistent with the government's commitment to effectively use public resources. Private sector ownership of the Dominion Coal Blocks could allow the property to reach its full economic potential and maximize its contribution to growth, jobs, and new investments in British Columbia and across Canada while generating revenues for taxpayers.

It is really important to understand that by selling the coal blocks, not only would we obtain the opportunity to give back to the taxpayers of Canada, but more importantly, we would get to do the three things that we promised we would do as a government: create jobs, grow the economy, and ensure that Canada's prosperity continues to move forward. The Dominion Coal Blocks would do just that.

At this point in time it has not been decided what the final sale price would be. This is very valuable land, with some of the richest metallurgical coal deposits in the world, and as a result of that, it would benefit all Canadians.

Proposals received from foreign buyers will be assessed through a standard bid evaluation process. This would ensure consistency with the new guidelines for state-owned enterprises under the Investment Canada Act announced in December 2012.

That again is very important, because we understand that investment in Canada has to be of a global nature. Most of the coal that we dig out of the ground in the southeast corner of British Columbia is exported to foreign countries to ensure that steel-making companies around the world can continue to provide their products for an ever-expanding opportunity worldwide.

The Dominion Coal Blocks are believed to contain globally significant deposits of metallurgical coal. There is an important distinction between the market for thermal coal and metallurgical coal, which is used to make steel. A lot of people get the two confused. Although thermal coal is of great importance. it is used for heating. Metallurgical coal is used for making steel.

It is important that the Dominion Coal Blocks be released by the federal government.

Coal remains a key input for the manufacture of high-quality steel. As a result, long-term price expectations for metallurgical coal remain relatively strong despite recent price volatility. It is very important to understand that coal prices, especially for metallurgical coal, have fluctuated since 2008. It used to be at $40 a tonne; it is now at $150 a tonne, and two years ago it hit a peak of $320 a tonne.

I would like say that I am splitting my time with the member for Kitchener Centre.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 24th, 2013 / 4:30 p.m.
See context

Conservative

David Wilks Kootenay—Columbia, BC

The great member for Kitchener Centre. I forgot to mention that.

Part of the Dominion Coal Blocks are of huge value, and they are centred in a great area. Right now, as we speak, Teck Resources has five coal mine operations in the Elk Valley. I would like to provide an understanding of what that means to Canada from the perspective of economics and job creation.

In the Elk Valley, a small community of 15,000 people, about 5,000 people are employed in the coal mines, all open pit. From that, there is a contract with CP Rail, the single largest contract with CP Rail in Canada. Thirty per cent of its gross comes from the Elk Valley. There are 15 dedicated coal trains that send coal from the Elk Valley to Roberts Bank in Vancouver, of which five go in and five come out every day. Each train is worth $2,295,000, which is equal to $11,475,000 a day for each of the five trains that are exiting the Elk Valley. With the Dominion Coal Blocks, it will only mean more for the small communities of the Elk Valley, but what it contributes to Canada and the province of British Columbia is vitally important not only for health care but for schooling and many other of the provincial responsibilities the federal government gives money to.

It is interesting to hear colleagues in British Columbia sometimes call coal the four-letter dirty word. The reality is that dirty word, as I said, is about 1% of the national GDP.

Aside from that, I want to explain that with specific regard to the Dominion Coal Blocks, first nations have been at the table right from the get-go. The Ktunaxa first nations have been there right from the get-go. They will be involved with the entire process and will have jobs in the coal industry, as they do now.

It is very important to understand that first nations are vitally important in my area of British Columbia. I believe they hold a strong, important value to the economic growth of the communities. I would like to applaud the Ktunaxa nation for being able to involve itself from the get-go.

One of the final things I want to say is that all resource development projects in British Columbia undergo a thorough environmental assessment process and face a high degree of regulatory oversight in order to manage and mitigate the environmental impacts. While the sale of the Dominion Coal Blocks would not be subject to an environmental assessment, any future development proposals would be subject to such an assessment.

I cannot say enough about the federal government divesting itself of the Dominion Coal Blocks. For the Elk Valley, it means 20, 30, or maybe even 100 more years of employment for the coal industry. Until we find a replacement for carbon, we will require metallurgical coal.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 24th, 2013 / 4:35 p.m.
See context

NDP

Raymond Côté Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague from Kootenay—Columbia for his speech on what this omnibus bill means for the coal blocks. I had the pleasure of working with him on the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, and I hold him in pretty high esteem.

However, I would like to talk to him about the omnibus nature of the bill and the fact that the Standing Committee on Finance, of which I am a member, will be left to do all the work. The committee will have to examine this part of the omnibus bill and many others.

Since this is such an important and delicate issue, I would like to know if my colleague believes that it would have been better to separate this part of the bill and allow members of the Standing Committee on Natural Resources to examine it directly.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 24th, 2013 / 4:35 p.m.
See context

Conservative

David Wilks Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Dominion Coal Blocks, from the perspective of natural resources, have been studied since the 1940s, not only by the federal government but by the provincial government. The reality of the situation for the finance committee is that this will bring great value not only to the Government of Canada but to all Canadians and British Columbians. I believe that it is well suited within the bill.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 24th, 2013 / 4:35 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Mark Eyking Sydney—Victoria, NS

Mr. Speaker, we are starting to learn a bit more about what is in the minds of the Conservatives in the budget. With regard to infrastructure, in the budget in the spring they mentioned all these billions of dollars that were going to be spent over 10 years. That said, in Cape Breton we have the CBRM, the municipality, and it puts forward a report with all the infrastructure needs it has. It is all costed and includes timelines.

With great fanfare, we are hearing some announcements on infrastructure, such as the Toronto subway. When can a place like Cape Breton, or CBRM, sit down with the federal government and get some commitment for the infrastructure dollars it needs for the upcoming year? When are the other areas going to get what they need from this infrastructure budget?

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 24th, 2013 / 4:35 p.m.
See context

Conservative

David Wilks Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, as the former mayor of Sparwood, B.C., for six years, I know one thing, and that is that we rely on the federal and provincial governments for money, but the reality is that the municipalities had better be shovel-ready when these announcements are made. We promised $2.7 billion in the budget this year for the community improvement fund, which will be rolled out in due course. I strongly suspect that as long as they have projects that are shovel-ready, small communities in Canada will have ample opportunity to ensure that they can move forward with them, so I would encourage the member to tell his people to have shovel-ready projects ready.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 24th, 2013 / 4:35 p.m.
See context

Green

Elizabeth May Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am very interested in this proposal. I am glad to have the opportunity to pose a question directly to the member in whose riding the Dominion Coal Blocks are found.

I think a lot of people were relieved to hear that the federal government was paying attention to the ecological sensitivity of these lands in announcing earlier this fall that not all of the Dominion Coal Blocks would be put up for sale. Those who paid attention will know that this is an area of unique ecological importance and of transboundary importance. In fact, the United Nations has spoken of the critical importance of restricting mining in the area because of any threat to the waters in Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, which at this point is the longest remaining wildlife corridor on the continent.

My question for the hon. member is this: of the 20,000 hectares in the Dominion Coal Blocks, how much will the federal government set aside to ensure ecological integrity, and not sell to metallurgical coal development?

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 24th, 2013 / 4:35 p.m.
See context

Conservative

David Wilks Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, part of what is referred to as parcel 82 is subdivided and will be guaranteed to have no mining extraction from it. The part that flows into the Elk River drainage will be open for mineral extraction; the part that flows into the Flathead drainage will be protected from any mining at all. Lot 73, which falls north of parcel 82, will be open for bidding.

The member brings up a very valuable response. It is important for Canadians to understand that in this very interesting part of the country, heavy industry works very well with the environment. We have learned how to play well in the sandbox. We have some of the best ecological areas in all of North America and we are working side by side with heavy industry. It is in things like this, as the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands said, that we can agree that there are certain areas that we just cannot touch. We have come to understand that in the Elk Valley, and we are very proud of it.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 24th, 2013 / 4:40 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Stephen Woodworth Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to rise today in support of budget implementation act No. 2. This act would ensure that important provisions in budget 2013 would be implemented.

Before discussing the highlights of the bill, I want to mention the government's plan for balancing the budget and I also want to mention Canada's economic success. This government has an effective plan to balance the budget by 2015. It is a challenging task, but achievable. As with budget 2013, the bill would help the government to achieve financial sustainability.

World leaders, of course, are very interested in Canada as a result of our government's example and our economic success. Canada leads the G7 in job creation, in income growth and in keeping debt levels low. Canada is among the few countries in the world with an AAA credit rating.

The government's continued sound fiscal management will generate continued respect, but despite our strong financial performance, there are still challenges that we must face. The United States is experiencing ongoing difficulties. The European Union is continuing its long upward climb.

Last week's historic trade deal between Canada and the European Union shows our government's determination to seize international opportunities for Canada. The government must reduce its deficit so Canadians will be encouraged to do the same. We must practise what we preach.

The deficit was a justified response to the 2008-09 economic recession, but it must be temporary. By 2015, the government will balance the budget and will introduce legislation to encourage balanced budgets in the future. This will ensure that in normal economic times there will be concrete guidelines for returning to balance after any economic crisis.

With an aggressive debt to GDP target of 25% by the year 2021 and a plan in place, this government is on the right track. I am proud that the government, during and after the world's worst economic recession in almost 80 years, remains recognized around the world as an example for others to follow. I am very proud of the leadership of our Prime Minister and our Minister of Finance.

The bill will deliver real solutions for Canadians and it reflects the goals of reducing the country's deficit and returning to balanced budgets. I want to highlight three aspects of the bill that I am particularly pleased with. I will elaborate on how the bill would support job creators, close tax loopholes and also respect taxpayer dollars.

Job creation is especially important to me as the representative for Kitchener Centre. BlackBerry, based in Kitchener—Waterloo, has suffered losses over the past couple of years and some of my constituents are on the hunt for jobs that match their highly talented skills. We enjoy some business incubators which support start-up companies and these include the renowned Communitech and also programs at the University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University, world-class leading centres of education.

As Canada's small business week wraps up tomorrow, I am grateful to say that this bill would extend the hiring credit for small business. This would benefit 560,000 job creators across Canada, and hundreds of those job creators are in my region of Kitchener—Waterloo. With over one million jobs created since the depth of the global recession, this hiring credit would create even more places for the bright minds of Canada's future.

The bill would also freeze employment insurance rates for three years, leaving $660 million in the pockets of job creators and workers in 2014 alone. EI costs employees and employers hard-earned money. When I look at small businesses employing just two, three or four individuals, I see that this freeze will help owners to balance their books just as the government is balancing its books.

The government will also help the environment through the expansion of the accelerated capital cost allowance to include investments in clean energy generation. I was very pleased to see this. It adds to the government's existing investment for small business which is given through a small business financing program offered by Industry Canada and by loans offered by the Business Development Bank and by grants from the Canadian Youth Business Foundation.

Achieving clean energy solutions is a priority. The challenge business owners face is to secure initial capital to develop those long-term solutions. Finding cost-efficient clean energy solutions is critically important for our future and developing those solutions takes extensive research.

As a long-time member of the environment committee, I am always looking for ways to ensure a sustainable future. Job creators will be encouraged to continue looking for clean energy generation through the accelerated capital cost allowance measure in this bill.

I am confident that Bill C-4 will benefit small businesses, start-ups and job creators in Kitchener Centre over the next number of years based on these new initiatives.

A second focus within this bill is closing tax loopholes and combatting tax evasion. I want to highlight the importance of these measures.

Hard-working taxpayers can be confident that the bill would ensure that everyone would pay their fair share of taxes. When everyone is paying their fair share, it keeps taxes low for Canadian families and creates incentives to invest in Canada.

The government will introduce new administrative monetary penalties and offences to deter the use, possession, sale and development of software designed to falsify records for the purpose of tax evasion.

Although this government will always keep taxes low, we insist that all citizens pay all of their required taxes. Heavier penalties will force wrongdoers to use proper software and pay what they owe.

The government will also close more tax loopholes related to money transfers to ensure that everyone pays their fair share. It has already introduced rules to prevent foreign affiliates from converting otherwise taxable surplus income into the form of loans. There is also an information reporting regime for tax avoidance transactions.

Finally, the government will extend in certain circumstances the time for the Canada Revenue Agency to reassess taxpayers who fail to report income from foreign property.

The third point that I will highlight are measures to respect taxpayer dollars through initiatives introduced in March, scheduled to be rolled out upon budget approval. For example, by modernizing the Canada student loans program with digital communication, the government will deliver efficient ways for students to pay down their debt quickly and to apply for loan approvals or extensions sooner.

Another timely measure in economic action plan 2013 are steps to prevent abuse of the temporary foreign worker program, abuses which concern my constituents. The program was created to fill acute labour needs when Canadians were not available. It was never intended to bring in temporary foreign workers to replace Canadian workers. The reforms brought forward in the spring budget stem from the government's ongoing review of this program.

The budget would increase the government's ability to revoke work permits, enabling immediate action against employers who did not comply with the rules. These changes would also require that employers using the temporary foreign workers program pay temporary foreign workers the prevailing wage for a job. These are common sense changes made to the program to remove unintended incentives to hire foreign workers. These reforms would ensure that Canadians would always be at the front of the hiring line.

Other measures will deliver important savings for Canadians. The fact is that many products needed to support families are consistently priced higher in Canada than in the United States. By removing tariffs on imported baby clothing and sports equipment, budget 2013 will ensure that difference is reduced.

We can all be pleased that budget implementation bill No. 2 delivers a solid plan for creating jobs and economic growth, all while keeping taxes low and still balancing the budget by 2015.

This bill is great news for my constituents in Kitchener Centre. I invite all members of the House to join me in supporting jobs, growth and long-term economic prosperity. I ask that members vote yes to this bill.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 24th, 2013 / 4:50 p.m.
See context

NDP

Rosane Doré Lefebvre Alfred-Pellan, QC

Mr. Speaker, I wish to thank my hon. colleague across the way for his speech.

A little earlier today, the President of the Treasury Board had a hard time answering one of the questions asked by my hon. colleague from Pontiac regarding how the Conservatives are changing the designation of essential services for Canadians in Bill C-4.

The definition of essential services will no longer be decided on jointly by workers and the government. Instead, the government will unilaterally decide which services are essential.

My question to my colleague opposite is simple: what services will the government designate as essential?

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 24th, 2013 / 4:50 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Stephen Woodworth Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I find the member's preamble really quite surprising. I have known and watched the President of the Treasury Board for many years and I find him to be not only very articulate but, as with all of the ministers on this side of the House, very hard working and very dedicated to the best interests of all Canadians. I look forward to working with him for many more years to come.

The reality is that everything a government does is subject to law, to judicial interpretation and to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Although I have some experience in law, I do not pretend to be an expert, not nearly as much of an expert as my colleague opposite is on labour unions and their rights. I suspect she is an expert.

The courts pretty well jealously look after charter guarantees, freedom of association and that labour rights are protected accordingly. I expect that any decision made by the government to designate an essential public service will be based on real need and quite justifiable to the courts or anyone else.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 24th, 2013 / 4:50 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, we noticed that the government has these logos or terms that it likes to talk a lot about, such as the economic action plan, job growth and long-term security.

The government takes the slogans it develops and literally spends millions and millions of dollars, in excess of half a billion dollars, in advertising, trying to get Canadians to think that these are wonderful times.

The most popular petition I have been tabling is one that affects seniors. It is on the government's decision to increase the age of retirement from 65 to 67. If the economy is doing so well, why is the government so determined to make the change by increasing the age of retirement for seniors?

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 24th, 2013 / 4:50 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Stephen Woodworth Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am tempted to say, considering the question came from a member of the Liberal Party, that there is nothing that can compare to the $1 billion the Ontario Liberal Party wasted on moving gas plants. That member and his party have nothing to complain about when it comes to the question of government expenditures.

On the question of changing the age of retirement, it may have escaped the member's notice, but when the original OAS scheme was introduced in the 1960s, the average life expectancy was around 72 or 73 years. Consequently retiring at age 65 meant something entirely different than it means today when the average life expectancy is more like 83 or 85 years.

The costs of supporting someone through a longer retirement are just an economic reality. As much as the third party and the NDP might wish to ignore economic realities, a responsible government cannot. Also, the demographics have changed. People living longer and healthier lives means that there are more seniors who need to be supported by fewer people still participating in the working economy.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 24th, 2013 / 4:55 p.m.
See context

NDP

Rosane Doré Lefebvre Alfred-Pellan, QC

Mr. Speaker, before beginning, I would like to let you know that I will be sharing my time with my charming colleague from La Pointe-de-l'Île.

It is my privilege today to be able to speak to Bill C-4, A second act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 21, 2013 and other measures. I am not privileged because of the quality of the bill, which still leaves something to be desired. I am privileged because so few parliamentarians will be able to debate this bill.

Just this morning, in fact, in the hours following its introduction in the House, the government imposed time allocation on Bill C-4.

After forcing us to wait a whole month before resuming work by proroguing Parliament, the Conservatives decided to bring in a time allocation motion that prevents members of Parliament from speaking to this omnibus bill. The Leader of the Government in the House of Commons decided to move time allocation on the bill in order to fast-track the debate. However, this bill is not just a simple legislative bill.

By means of Bill C-4, the Conservatives are trying for the fourth time in two years to escape the scrutiny of parliamentarians and the public. They are trying to get major changes through Parliament without sufficient study by Parliament, despite the fact that some of the amendments in Bill C-4 are meant to correct mistakes they made in their big rush to pass the last omnibus bill.

I will be voting against Bill C-4 both because of its content and because of the process used, which I feel is wrong. The New Democratic Party will not support the Conservatives in their attempt to avoid parliamentary oversight. The bill contains many extremely complicated measures that deserve to be studied a great deal more attentively.

The government before us today is worn out and negligent. The NDP refuses to play the Conservatives’ game. We must take Parliament and our institutions seriously and act accordingly.

Taking advantage of the introduction of Bill C-4 to amend through the back door a number of measures that are not even related to the budget shows a total lack of consideration for Canadians. The government is trying to make major changes secretly and without consulting those who will be affected by those changes.

I realize that the Conservatives are not really crusaders for consultation, but they should take the time to listen to what Canadians are saying. Canadians are giving serious consideration to what is currently happening on Parliament Hill. They are losing confidence in the political class, and the Conservatives are doing absolutely nothing to help them regain that confidence quickly. I am highly critical of the government’s lack of study and I am deeply worried about the consequences it may have for our country. It greatly undermines action by Parliament.

I would like to highlight a few examples to clarify my point, and I would like to start with the frontal attack on the rights of workers. For the President of the Treasury Board, it must be absurd for the government to have to negotiate and deal with workers in good faith. Please let me explain.

First, the designation of essential services to Canadians would change with Bill C-4. At present, workers and the government decide in tandem what an essential service is and what it is not. Now the government wants to make the decision about essential services on its own.

How does this affect workers? Well, it is a direct attack on the right to strike. Essential services are services that must be made available to Canadians during a strike. The repercussions of this decision are extremely serious.

With the proposed changes, unions cannot call a strike if public servants designated as essential by the government are involved. Who is designated as essential, though? This question has gone unanswered. I even tried to get an answer from my Conservative colleague opposite who just spoke, and he was very good at being evasive.

My colleague from Pontiac tried to ask the President of the Treasury Board about this in question period earlier today. He refused to answer. We heard absolutely nothing.

Another major change to workers' rights is the change in the definition of the word “danger”. A worker who does not feel safe in his workplace can inform a health and safety officer of his concerns. Bill C-4 changes the definition to imminent danger or serious danger. What do these new changes mean? What tangible effect will this have on our workers? These are valid questions.

Furthermore, workers will no longer contact their health and safety officers about these problems. Instead they will contact the minister's office. Will he work 24/7 to respond to workers in danger? Will it be more difficult for them to exercise their rights? Will there be more accidents in our workplaces? The official opposition is truly worried about the health and safety of Canadian workers.

What worries me the most is that these measures that I just spoke about, which affect the rights of workers, have absolutely nothing to do with a budget implementation bill. What are the Conservatives playing at?

In conclusion, I would like to briefly mention the direct attack that the Conservatives made on francophones throughout Canada. Once again, I will provide some explanation.

I would like to quote an article by Marie Vastel that was published in the October 24 issue of Le Devoir. It says:

When the government introduces any major legislation, it holds a briefing for MPs, senators and their assistants in order to explain that legislation. Usually, simultaneous translation is provided and officials then answer questions in both official languages. However, such was not the case on Tuesday, when the briefing on the budget implementation bill that was introduced that same morning began in English only.

The government was giving a presentation on a bill that is over 300 pages long, the fourth mammoth bill that the Conservative government has introduced, and there was no simultaneous translation from English into French. It was an NDP member whose mother tongue is French who stood up during the government's briefing and asked for the French translation, saying that the bill was extremely complex, that it was over 300 pages long and that she did not understand the details. After she spoke up, there was some commotion. In the end, another English MP spoke up and said that someone would have to translate so that the member could understand. People left the room in protest and the government finally decided to postpone the briefing to Wednesday, which was yesterday. The briefing therefore began after Bill C-4 was introduced in the House.

The opposite never would have happened. There never would have been a briefing in French without simultaneous translation into English. That would never happen. Honestly, I am a bit surprised that it took so long for them to react. I cannot believe that this happened. Some MPs speak English, others speak French. Those are our two official languages, and this demonstrates a lack of respect, not only for the Quebec nation, but also for francophones across the country. I am extremely disappointed in the way Bill C-4 treats Canadians.

This bill touches on many areas; we could go on for days. This bill affects more than just workers' rights. The Minister of Citizenship and Immigration is given new powers, and I have yet to find the link between that and a budget implementation bill. It affects unions' venture capital funds. It addresses the mistake of increasing taxes on credit unions and so on. There are even changes to the Supreme Court. It makes no sense.

I want to say, once again, that I am extremely disappointed in how the Conservatives opposite are treating Canadians. I look forward to seeing how the voters will treat them in 2015.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 24th, 2013 / 5:05 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Phil McColeman Brant, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for her comments. However, I take issue with the fact that she is making the statement that this is not fair to people across Canada, including Quebec.

There are 800,000 persons with disabilities in this country who are ready, willing and able to go to work. In this budget we are funding the program that will assist those people in finding jobs and match them to jobs. Is this something in her mind that is fair to the people who have disabilities in this country, especially persons in Quebec who have disabilities?

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 24th, 2013 / 5:05 p.m.
See context

NDP

Rosane Doré Lefebvre Alfred-Pellan, QC

Mr. Speaker, while talking to my colleague from La Pointe-de-l'Île, I tried to take notes as quickly as possible.

It is good to mention people with reduced mobility. In my opinion, it is extremely important. There is a great deal of consultation on the subject. I also think that most of my colleagues have talked to people in their riding about the tax credit for persons with disabilities

I have a question about that. Can someone explain to me why the Conservatives have eliminated training on the tax credit for persons with disabilities? They are concealing information. We are compelled to distribute information everywhere, because the government no longer wishes to make information available on this. Playing cat and mouse with the Canadian people does not lead to good outcomes.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 24th, 2013 / 5:05 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I want to add to the comments of the member regarding the idea of the bill preparation and what should have been done.

I think she is quite right in her assessment that many people, if not most people, would feel offended by it. If I was going to a bill debriefing and everything was provided only in French, being primarily Anglophone, I would be quite upset about it, and that should be vice versa. We are in fact a bilingual country. Given the nature and importance our of budgets and how much time the government had to do the job right, I would have thought that presenting the bill as well as the supporting documents in a bilingual format would have been an absolute given. I would ask the member to provide some comment.

We noted that the day on which the bill briefing was taking place, we actually had the time allocation notice given. We did not even have a complete bill debriefing before the government introduced time allocation. I wonder if the member could provide some comment on that, as well as the fact that we have the bill under time allocation today.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 24th, 2013 / 5:05 p.m.
See context

NDP

Rosane Doré Lefebvre Alfred-Pellan, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Winnipeg North. He touched on a number of extremely important subjects I raised in my speech.

For example, he said that simultaneous interpretation was not available at the briefing for parliamentarians. My colleague represents a constituency where many Franco-Manitobans live. In his riding, that probably made some people’s hair stand on end.

The comment I could make relates to the fact that there is still a time allocation motion on an omnibus bill that is more than 300 pages long, and the two official languages are not being respected. This is something extremely important to bring to the attention of Canadians. We have to tell them what kind of respect the Conservative government has for the people of Canada. I do not believe there is much to add on this subject, since the actions of the government in the House speak for themselves.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 24th, 2013 / 5:10 p.m.
See context

NDP

Ève Péclet La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to speak to Bill C-4, which is of extreme importance to Canadians and Quebeckers.

We are living in critical times. It is time for us to have a productive debate here for Canadians. The situation is critical. I will explain why it is extremely important to discuss this bill without having a time limit imposed on us. Canadians need us today, and they expect us to take action because their indebtedness and that of young Canadians are at critical levels.

First of all, I want to say how disappointed I am with everything the government has done since its throne speech. Today is the first time I have had a chance to rise, and I am doing so under a guillotine. I know that the Conservatives will cite all kinds of reasons for that, in particular that this bill must be passed extremely quickly.

However, the situation is so serious that the government has no reason not to allow a fair and democratic debate in the House of Commons.

I really believed, but wrongly so, that the Conservatives would take the summer and the additional month to reflect and perhaps even consider the importance of democracy and respect for democracy. However, this bill shows that exactly the opposite is true.

This is the fourth omnibus bill. We know how the Prime Minister shouted and tore his shirt when he was in opposition and the Liberal government tried to introduce omnibus bills. Unfortunately, that was then and this is now, as they say.

This bill is 300 pages long and amends at least 70 statutes, some of which have absolutely nothing to do with the budget. We can already see the government’s bad intentions.

It is introducing a budget that, on the whole, attacks workers' rights, amends rules respecting the Supreme Court, and so on. There is not much about tax evasion or young people, for example. As for the government's new approach, it leaves something to be desired.

This is really a shame for democracy and for the Canadians and Quebeckers who are supposed to be represented here. This government's scandals and mismanagement are so unimaginable I no longer know where to turn. I do not even know where to start.

This is a failure. The government's economic plan is a failure. Instead of tackling household debt, it attacks workers' rights and the family itself. However, it is not focusing on the real problems. For example, the Conservatives are going to leave us with the biggest deficit in Canadian history.

It is unbelievable how the Conservatives can boast, but they offer nothing concrete. In 2015, Canadians will see how badly the Conservatives have mismanaged the economy. Canadians will see that the Conservatives have left them to deal with the biggest environmental, economic and social deficit in Canadian history. Canadians will have no trouble seeing that record because the figures prove it.

In addition, what is disturbing is that most of the measures in this budget are not budget measures. They amend the rules for appointing judges to the Supreme Court. Perhaps the Prime Minister just realized he had to correct his own mistakes.

I challenge any Conservative to rise in the House and show me how changing the rules for the Supreme Court will help Canadian families get out of record debt. Can any Conservative explain that to us? I would really like someone to do that. I can hear them laughing on the other side. I do not think this is funny.

Today, my colleague from Gatineau moved a motion to remove the appointment of Supreme Court judges from the budget implementation bill.

I sincerely hope that the government will take this proposal to heart, because it is the kind of proposal that must be discussed. However, this should not be done within the framework of an omnibus bill, because these are things that involve our justice system, not our economic system.

The Conservatives never get tired of saying that Canadians know they cannot rely on the NDP to put their needs first and give middle-class Canadians a well-deserved break. However, the NDP’s view of the economy is one in which we maximize opportunities by drawing on Canada’s enormous advantages, in order to give Canadians the best in everything.

We have the best score on the budget, from sea to sea. This is a fact. It is as simple as that. My colleague has been shouting for a while now that I am being rhetorical, but it is a fact. The proof is in the figures. The NDP governments have the best scores in terms of budgets and finance.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 24th, 2013 / 5:15 p.m.
See context

NDP

Ève Péclet La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

I hear my colleague from Manitoba shouting at me.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to have some respect. I would like to be able to talk without being called names by my Conservative colleagues on the other side of the House. Thank you very much. I am entitled to respect when I am speaking. If they do not agree with what I am saying, that is all right, but I do not want them shouting at me when I am speaking.

The gap between rich and poor is growing. We are seeing an increase in the cost of living, because the Conservatives have forgotten about the middle class in all their budget measures.

We are seeing an increase in the cost of living, and incomes are lower than ever and they keep on dropping. Of course, if you are a highly paid executive, there is no problem. On the other hand, what is the government going to tell the people in the Toronto area, for instance, who cannot find stable employment? Will it tell them to take two or three jobs so they can make ends meet? No, that is not what a government should say.

In September, Statistics Canada announced that Canadian household debt had reached an all-time high of 166%. How is it that since 2006 the Conservatives have not been able to do anything to stop this increase?

This means that for every dollar a person has, he or she owes $1.66 on a loan or a credit card.

In 2008, our neighbours to the south in the United States learned the hard way just how seriously over-indebtedness could hurt their economy.

I think it is time to help Canadian families. Economists agree that Canadian household debt is a threat to Canada’s economy. Clearly, under the Conservatives, we are on the path to jumping in there with both feet.

The economic situation is even worse among young people, where the unemployment rate has reached 14%. This means that the next generation of workers will not be able to acquire the experience they need to replace the generation that went before.

Increased unemployment among young people early in their careers, and the precarious household debt situation—I think I have clearly described the critical situation to which I referred in my introduction and about which the government has refused to do anything.

In other words, they are in favour of justice and democracy, except when it does not suit their purposes.

We support various amendments in Bill C-4 that aim at reducing tax evasion. We support those amendments, but we are very concerned that the Conservatives are not paying serious attention to the issue of tax havens and the people and the companies that are not making a fair or just contribution to the Canadian economy.

As my colleague from Alfred-Pellan mentioned, we have here a budget that is once again a direct attack on the rights of Canadians.

As I have one minute left, I would simply like to tell the Conservatives that although they say we just vote against everything, we are only waiting for them to invite us to work with them in providing Canadians with a budget that is fair and equitable and gives everyone an opportunity to participate in the Canadian economy, not only the people who are on their side, but all Canadians and all Quebeckers.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 24th, 2013 / 5:20 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Robert Sopuck Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette, MB

Mr. Speaker, I was truly bowled over by my colleague's praise of NDP governments. One only has to come from Manitoba, as I do. High taxes and rising unemployment are the track record of NDP governments. Thankfully, the people of Nova Scotia saw fit to throw the NDP out after one term. In B.C., they took only one look at the NDP. The NDP was leading in the polls for about a month of that campaign. Sure enough, the voters in B.C. threw them out.

One looks at the track record of hard, left-wing governments around the world. Look at the ruins of Detroit, the chaos in Greece, and entrepreneurs leaving France. Why does my hon. friend still believe in this toxic, outmoded, socialist ideology?

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 24th, 2013 / 5:20 p.m.
See context

NDP

Ève Péclet La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, my colleague wants to know why? It is because the Minister of Finance has a report that says so.

I would just like to read a portion of a press release:

Tuesday the Department of Finance released its annual Fiscal Reference Tables...the NDP comes out on top as the best fiscal managers...since 1980...with a 44.9% record of balancing the budget. Conservatives come in second, with 40.8% record of balanced budgets. The Liberals score lowest as fiscal managers, with a record of only 25.0% balanced budgets.

Why do I believe so? It is because their own ministry says so.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 24th, 2013 / 5:20 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, something the member for Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette and I share is that we have a bit of knowledge about the Manitoba government. I served many years with the NDP in government. I could tell you a litany of issues. Do not believe everything you read. That is one of the things I would tell you when it comes to the document you might be looking at.

I could tell you that the most recent debacle in the province of Manitoba from the NDP is with regard to its determination to lie. It said in the last provincial election that it would not increase the provincial sales tax. It was actually the premier, Greg Selinger, making that bold statement on TV. Of course, if you take a look at the NDP budget, you will see that it increased the sales tax from 7% to 8%. I know that this is the government you want to model yourself after.

We can talk about balanced budgets during the one year I was there, when the New Democrats borrowed money to get themselves in a balanced situation. That was one of the weirdest budgets one would have seen. The provincial auditor said that they had, in fact, cooked the books to create that balanced budget.

Given some of the facts about Manitoba that both I and the member for Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette have about the NDP governments in the Prairies, would you consider rephrasing some of your statements?

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 24th, 2013 / 5:20 p.m.
See context

NDP

Ève Péclet La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, believe the Liberals hold the record for promises not kept. They can take my word for it.

I remember a prime minister who, one day, in order to get himself elected, said that he was going to reduce the federal tax. I will not name him out of respect for his colleagues, but the member knows very well who I am talking about. This prime minister then explained that unfortunately, he could not do so because the financial situation was too grim.

My friend can perhaps continue to spout Liberal propaganda and draw applause from the Conservatives. This shows clearly that between Liberals and Conservatives, there is no difference. The fact remains that the report issued by the Department of Finance unfortunately states that the Liberals balanced their budget only 25% of the time.

I know it pains my colleague, the member for Winnipeg North, to hear it, but the Liberals did not do their homework, while the NDP did.

I know it is frustrating, but that's life.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 24th, 2013 / 5:25 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Stella Ambler Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have this opportunity to speak on some of the key initiatives in economic action plan 2013 no. 2.

Our government remains focused on the economy and creating jobs, all while keeping taxes low and returning to balanced budgets. The key to success is balancing the efforts to support job creation and economic growth while respecting commitments to reduce deficits and return to balanced budgets over the medium term.

With the help of Canada's economic action plan, Canada has experienced one of the best economic performances among the G7 countries, both during the global recession and throughout the recovery. Canada has created over one million net new jobs, nearly 90% full time and nearly 85% private sector, since the depth of the global recession in July 2009. This is the strongest job growth record in the G7. Not only that, but both the IMF and the OECD project Canada to have among the strongest growth in the G7 in the years ahead. In fact, the OECD recently projected that Canada will lead the G7 in growth in 2013.

Our government is also committed to keeping taxes low. Unlike the high-tax NDP and Liberals, our Conservative government believes in low taxes and leaving more money where it belongs, in the pockets of hard-working Canadian families and job-creating businesses. Since 2006 we have cut taxes over 160 times, reducing the overall tax burden to its lowest level in 50 years. Our strong record of tax relief has meant savings for a typical family of four in 2013 of over $3,200. Unfortunately, the NDP opposition thinks that higher taxes are the answer.

Just a couple of weeks ago the NDP leader reconfirmed his party's plan to impose a crippling tax hike on job creators and the millions of Canadians they employ, even as they continue to cope with a challenging global economy. As if imposing a $20-billion carbon tax on Canadians was not enough, the NDP leader has another multi-billion dollar tax hike he wants to impose. At a time of global economic uncertainty the NDP wants to take over $10 billion each year out of the pockets of Canadian entrepreneurs and businesses to fund big, bloated government schemes. This punishing NDP tax hike would target job creators, especially small and medium-sized companies with a nearly 50% increase in their tax bills.

When I was very young I started working for my father who had his own hardware wholesale business. Small business taxes at that time were crippling for him. While he managed to stay in business for many years, he always appreciated it when governments understood that small businesses were not in the business of feeding the government coffers. Their business is to sell goods and to employ people.

My father ran his own business over the course of 35 years. The periods of greatest growth were during times when business tax rates were reasonable and low. Our current Minister of Finance and our government understand this and that is why we continue to support job-creating businesses, like the one that I worked for when I was younger.

Of course I did not have to apply for the job. I was given the job automatically because my father owned the business, but I still worked hard. The business did well when it was not all about red tape and spending many hours working out the calculations needed to pay that kind of debt to the government. That is why I want to talk about the small business advantages that we are giving them and the tax increases that would kill jobs and stall Canada's economy. Clearly, Canadians cannot afford these risky tax-and-spend schemes. Thankfully, as I said, our Conservative government understands that high taxes are not the answer.

Our government also understands the importance of general fiscal responsibility. Indeed, before the global recession hit, our Conservative government paid down $37 billion in debt, bringing Canada's debt to its lowest level in 25 years. This fiscal prudence and impressive debt reduction placed Canada in the best possible position to weather the global recession.

When the global recession hit, we were able to respond quickly and effectively with Canada's economic action plan. While other countries continue to struggle with debt that is spiralling out of control, Canada is in the best fiscal position of any G7 nation. In fact, our net to GDP ratio in 2012 was 34.6%, the lowest level among G7 countries, the second lowest being Germany at 57.2%. We can see the gap there. The G7 average is 90.4%.

While the NDP and Liberals want to engage in reckless spending, our government is on track to return to balanced budgets in 2015. Our plan to return to balanced budgets is working.

In 2012-13, the deficit fell to $18.9 billion. This was down by more than one-quarter from the deficit of $26.3 billion in 2011-12, and down by nearly two-thirds from the $55.6 billion deficit recorded in 2009-10. Our government's responsible spending of taxpayer dollars played an important part in these results with direct program expenses falling by 1.2% from the prior year, and by 3.8% from 2010-11.

Overall, measures taken by our Conservative government since budget 2010 will result in a total ongoing savings of roughly $14 billion. This legislation builds on this effort. Bill C-4 will phase out inefficient and ineffective tax subsidies. One example is the labour-sponsored venture capital corporations tax credit. Indeed, a number of independent experts have recognized this subsidy as being ineffective when it comes to creating jobs and supporting Canadian businesses.

Members should not take my word for it. I will tell them what others are saying about this tax credit, the labour-sponsored venture capital corporations tax credit.

A recent paper by the Montreal Economic Institute says:

All things considered, labour-sponsored funds are financial instruments that fulfill neither their economic objectives, namely to make venture capital available to help Quebec businesses, nor their financial objectives of offering a good return to contributors, their performance being interesting only by taking into account the additional tax credit.

Jack Mintz, a respected economist, said:

These credits have not only been ineffective in generating more venture capital, but they have also helped finance poor projects that should have never been funded in the first place.

He said that in 2012.

The C.D. Howe Institute also recognized that providing tax relief to these funds has been:

...a disappointing use of taxpayers’ money. Such funds have been shown in multiple studies, including this one, to do a poor job of achieving public policy aims.

That is from the C.D. Howe Institute E-Brief of September 2012.

I also want to talk about closing tax loopholes, which is contained in Bill C-4, loopholes and other schemes that only benefit a select few. Closing these loopholes is important because when everyone pays their fair share, our tax rates can be kept low, which makes Canada a more attractive place to work, save and invest.

In fact, since 2006 and including measures proposed in economic action plan 2013, our government has closed over 75 tax loopholes. This will result in $2.5 billion in additional revenues in 2013-14, and more than $2.6 billion in 2014-15. Indeed, the legislative proposals in budget 2013 to close tax loopholes are estimated to raise $100 million in revenue in 2013-14, rising to over $270 million in 2017-18, for a total of close to $1 billion over the next five years.

Shamefully, the NDP has voted against every single attempt by our government to close tax loopholes since 2006. I am not sure why it is doing that. I do not think they understand the importance of the one million jobs that have been created since the depth of the recession.

We understand there is still more work to be done and that Canada is not immune to the kinds of global challenges that come from beyond our borders. That is why we are so convinced that our job-creating measures are important and that we need to continue along this track. That is why I believe the legislation should go forward quickly.

The House may know that I had the good fortune to work with our esteemed Minister of Finance, who has won global accolades around the world for his work, his fiscal responsibility, his understanding of Canada's economy and for making sure that we are leading the G7 on so many indicators. It is difficult to be humble on his behalf. The Minister of Finance is, I believe, responsible in large part for the major credit rating agencies giving Canada a rock solid AAA credit rating. Moody's, Fitch, and Standard and Poor's have all given Canada this solid rating. It is something we take for granted. Canadians do not think about that every day. They are able to go about their business knowing that our economy is well looked after by the Conservative government and this Minister of Finance. It is important for Canadians to understand that our commitment to balance the budget by 2015 is an important one. It is ambitious, but we have made that commitment. Ultimately, it enables us to keep taxes low. We have cut taxes 160 times.

Earlier today my colleague from Winnipeg South Centre was talking about her family and the fact that she is not only a chartered accountant but a mother and that she appreciates the measures our government has taken on both of those fronts. I would say too that it is about helping families. We are looking at many countries in Europe that cannot afford to give tax breaks to families. They cannot afford to offer tax credits such as the children's fitness tax credit, which I have taken advantage of with my own children, the new children's arts tax credit and the universal child care tax benefit. These are the kinds of things that help families, putting money directly into their pockets so that they can use those funds for whatever they feel is necessary.

That is the kind of choice we like to provide to parents. We would not be able to do that if we did not have a strong economy. It is all about jobs, the economy and maintaining that long-term economic growth and prosperity. That is why I wanted to speak to the bill today, Canada's economic action plan.

If I might, I would like to compare that to something the Liberal leader said over the summer. I believe it was at the Liberals' caucus retreat. When asked when he would release his plan for Canada's economy, he said that it was too soon for him to be talking about the economy. He did not plan to release that for a long time, possibly a couple more years, maybe before the next election.

It is a good thing that the Liberal Party is the third party in the House, because I cannot imagine a prime minister without a plan for the economy. He has been the Liberal leader for many months now, since the beginning of the year, and he apparently needs a few more years to come up with an economic plan.

I am so proud that we have a Prime Minister and a Minister of Finance in Canada who already have a plan, and that plan is working.

I would be happy to take questions, if there is time, and talk about my support for job creation and this bill's support for job creation and Canada's economic action plan, which is working.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 24th, 2013 / 5:40 p.m.
See context

NDP

Andrew Cash Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member extols the virtues of the our Minister of Finance. It reminds me of a time when the finance minister sat on the front bench of the Government of Ontario. Many front bench members of the Conservative cabinet also sat on the front bench of the Conservative Government of Ontario of that time.

One of the most amazing things that happened is this, and it underlines the whole narrative, the whole foundation of neo-conservative, neo-liberal economics. When that Conservative government took office in Ontario, a subway line had already begun on Eglinton. The hole was dug. One of the first things the Conservative government of the day did was to spend millions upon millions of taxpayer dollars to fill that hole. That is what they did. That is the kind of economics and support for small business that the member extols today.

I wonder if she could speak to the disconnect between her speech and the reality of the economic policies of this government?

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 24th, 2013 / 5:40 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Stella Ambler Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, let us talk about disconnect for a moment. I lived through the dark years of Bob Rae from 1990 to 1995. Some days I wonder how we did it in Ontario. Those were dark days. I do not believe Ontario had an AAA credit rating. In fact, I think it was quite the opposite. If there was a ZZZ tax rating, that is what Ontario—

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 24th, 2013 / 5:40 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Stella Ambler Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I relish the opportunity. I worked for the illustrious Conservative premier who Ontario elected in 1995. Ontarians were waiting for election day in 1995, so that they could throw out the NDP Bob Rae government. In fact, I think the exact same thing happened in Nova Scotia recently. It has been proven that NDP governments do not work.

Speaking of subways, I wish I could talk a little more about subways, because there was a great announcement in Toronto of $660 million to build a subway. I know the member for Scarborough Centre is so pleased about that. So are many other Torontonians.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 24th, 2013 / 5:40 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Yvonne Jones Labrador, NL

Mr. Speaker, I want to confirm for my colleague that, yes indeed, they have thrown out the NDP government in Nova Scotia.

Our Liberal leader has certainly outlined the tremendous opportunity we have in the economy of Canada and a platform that we will bring forward as the Liberal Party. One of the main planks in this platform that she needs to realize is paying down the huge debt that has been accumulated under the Conservative government. It has increased the debt by $150 billion since it took office.

The Liberal governments in the past have paid down a debt of $150 billion in our country once, and we are poised to do it again. It will be done through the economic initiatives that will be announced by the Liberal leader. I want to make sure that the hon. member knows that.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 24th, 2013 / 5:45 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Stella Ambler Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, what I do know is that when the Liberals are in power they balance the budget by cutting transfer payments to the provinces. That might be the easy way of doing it, but that is not how we are doing it because it is not the right way. When it is done that way, it hurts children, seniors and families. That is not how we are going to balance the budget.

I imagine that if the Liberals have a plan, that must be their plan. Let us hope Canadians do not fall for that, because that is not the right way to balance the budget.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 24th, 2013 / 5:45 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Ed Holder London West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I was very touched by the comments of the member for Mississauga South when she talked in terms of growing up in a family business and what that meant to her.

It made me think about the opportunities I had, not so much in a family business. My dad was a pretty poor truck driver from Holderville, New Brunswick, and my mum was from Cape Breton. Our family was born out there, so we never had quite the same opportunities, not that opportunities are not there on the east coast, but my parents moved to Upper Canada and some things happened from there, so we have carried on in this family business tradition.

Appreciating the importance of family business, and I am thinking of how small business can survive, what does the member feel this budget would do to help small businesses to grow, because those folks are the real job creators in this country?

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 24th, 2013 / 5:45 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Stella Ambler Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for sharing his story. Maybe he could confirm by a nod whether the town was really called Holderville. It is excellent that the town was really called Holderville.

It sounds as if my friend and colleague understands small businesses too; for example, what a great advantage the hiring tax credit is to 500,000 businesses in Canada. We are talking about people who need a job, want a job, want to work hard and want to put food on the table and be able to do their fair share in their communities.

Our policies, initiatives and budget and this economic action plan allow them to do that. That is why I am so proud. It fits in nicely with what I did when I was growing up. It fits in with the kinds of values I learned through hard work and the fact that my father ran his own business for almost 40 years.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 24th, 2013 / 5:45 p.m.
See context

Green

Elizabeth May Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I also grew up in a family business and I appreciate some of the points overall. I have been listening to speeches all day and the references to job creators, to businesses. Right now we have very low corporate tax rates, lower than other countries in the OECD. As a result, the corporate profits from any company in the U.S., they now have transferred those corporations paying taxes to Canada to paying taxes to the United States.

Economists, everyone from Mark Carney, our former bank governor, to the RBC economist looks at what has happened. Corporations are not reinvesting that money in hiring Canadians. They are not job creators. These deep tax cuts are where jobs go to die. It is now called dead money. Over $600 billion in dead money, an astonishing 32% of GDP, is not being used by those corporations to create jobs to invest in Canada to modernize.

I wonder when the Conservative Party is going to recognize that this is a failed strategy and that there is no empirical evidence whatsoever that its strategies are creating jobs.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 24th, 2013 / 5:50 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Stella Ambler Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would disagree that there is no empirical evidence. The evidence is in the numbers, over one million net new jobs created. We talk about it a lot because it is really important. We are talking about lowering taxes for small business. We are talking about lowering taxes 160 times for ordinary average Canadians.

If my friend and colleague from Saanich—Gulf Islands does not believe that lowering corporate taxes for businesses creates jobs, then we do have a fundamental disagreement. I think that when government takes away from the bottom line of corporations or businesses, they are going to look into reinvesting that and expanding. When they expand and reinvest, they need to hire more people. That is how it works, and that is why we lower the taxes.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 24th, 2013 / 5:50 p.m.
See context

NDP

Andrew Cash Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise in this place on behalf of the good people of Davenport in the great city of Toronto to speak to Bill C-4, the budget implementation act.

This is another example of a missed opportunity for the current Conservative government in terms of job creation and in terms of accountability and transparency. It really underlines the mean-spiritedness in which the government participates in the process of bills and law-making in this House.

I have been listening very carefully to some of the debates and comments from my hon. colleagues on the government side, and it is almost as though they live in this fantasy world where they give the greatest gifts to the wealthiest corporations and keep saying over and over what neo-conservatives have been saying for 30 years, that these wealthy corporations will just trickle that money down like manna from heaven and we will all just be fine.

I listened with particular interest to my colleague from Mississauga who talked about her father's small business. I also listened to the member across the way, who grew up in the town named after him, talk about his family and small business.

Where I come from in Toronto, small businesses are one- and two-person operations. Small businesses are operated out of people's kitchens and basements. Small businesses are a mother and father working 12 or 13 hours a day running a store on Bloor Street. They are looking for some relief and what they are hearing is that the government has been doling out these wonderfully handsome tax breaks to the wealthiest corporations in Canada, who are not investing back into the economy but are sitting on the money. There is nothing in this bill that deals with one of the most significant issues of our time, and that is how we deal with the explosion of precarious work in our society.

In Toronto, in the GTA right now, in the member's riding of Mississauga South no doubt, almost 50% of workers cannot access a full-time, stable job. That is an outrageous statistic, which should engage this entire House, not just because it is my city but because it is an outrageous statistic. We are letting down and failing workers, and in particular we are failing young workers.

This budget implementation act, which would again throw in more than 70 law changes with everything but the kitchen sink in here, has not a single thing to address precarious work in our society. We listen to the rhetoric of job creation on one hand and we see the stats on the other hand where 15%, 16% or 17% of young people are unemployed, and that is the official rate that does not include those who have given up and those who are working very marginal, part-time jobs. This is the reality for so many urban workers: precarious work. People cannot find a full-time job. We are talking about folks who are now working as independent contractors.

The Conservatives are so consumed, almost obsessed, with their attack on organized labour that they cannot understand that people who run a small business want customers to come in. Those customers actually have to make a living wage in order to spend some of their money in the store. This is what the Conservatives do not understand. They do not understand the realities of urban workers today. They do not understand the reality of small business today.

We proposed many measures that would make it easier for small business owners to deal with their business.

We have a consumer program this government has borrowed some ideas from. They should actually take the whole thing. We would be willing to give it to them, because there are some excellent ideas, and they would actually deal with some of the main problems small businesses face with things like transfer fees for credit cards at point of sale, and that sort of thing. These are the issues many small businesses bring to us, which is why we have brought our proposals to the Canadian public on some of the very important issues for small business.

This is a government that, along with the Liberals, pillaged the employment insurance fund to the tune of about $57 billion and that is making it harder for Canadian workers to access the program to which they contributed. This is not the government's money. It is workers' money. We have legions of workers who cannot access basic employment insurance, basic income security, in times of need. Those times of need for many people are right now.

The Conservatives talk about job creation. They never talk about the kinds of jobs they are creating. In the GTA, we have a preponderance of $10.50 an hour jobs. I do not know, and I would be interested to find out from the member from Mississauga, if people in her riding could live on $10 an hour. Could they pay their rent? Could they raise a family? Can people raise a family on minimum wage in Toronto or in this country? The answer is absolutely not. It is very difficult. That is why people are working multiple jobs. It is why the fabric of our society is in such turmoil. It is because people in our large cities are working day in and day out just to survive. It is impacting on people's health.

We now know that precarious work adds incredible stress to the body. We have not calculated the health care costs of ripping the support from under workers today. I do not see that calculation in this.

We have not seen the government actually focus any attention on youth employment. The other day, the minister said, in answer to a question on precarious work, that if young workers have a problem in their workplaces, they should complain to the various tribunals out there. They are putting the onus on young people who, right now in Ontario, for example, are graduating, on average, with about $37,000 of debt. Then they are being welcomed into a workforce where they are either offered jobs that do not pay any money, as interns, or piecemeal jobs. They cannot get into the fields they studied for. The other day the minister said that they could blow the whistle on their companies if they feel that they are being treated poorly.

We are failing young workers. The government has utterly failed to address some of the key issues that affect urban workers. The fact is that too many people cannot access a workplace pension. Too many of us cannot access any kind of workplace benefit, and there is absolutely no job security for urban workers. All the bill does is make it worse.

The member from Mississauga talked about key tax cuts that would reap benefits for all Canadians, but what we are seeing in reality is that the tools the government uses to deal with the economic issues have just made things worse.

Bill C-4 is the fourth attempt in two years by the Conservatives to evade scrutiny by parliamentarians and the public. Canadians are watching. They want to see the government and this place function the way it is supposed to, which is with proper scrutiny. This side of the House, the official opposition, is doing its job. We would like to see the Conservatives start to do theirs.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 24th, 2013 / 6 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Stella Ambler Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the member for Davenport specifically about jobs.

Does the member know that of those million jobs, roughly 90% are full time and that these are jobs created not by government but by individuals who run their own businesses and understand the importance of creating jobs?

I understand that good wages are important, but I also understand that at some point, you have to have that job and be able to move up. It is about having a job and then supporting your family. I want to know what the member's plan is to make it better that we are not doing. What would he do differently?

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 24th, 2013 / 6 p.m.
See context

NDP

Andrew Cash Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is no secret that the first priority of our plan is to get rid of the Conservative government. That is the first step.

To the member's point, people come into my office who are working full time through a temp agency. Do you know how much they are making? They are bringing home $8.00 an hour. One cannot live on that.

If you want to talk about full-time jobs, come to Davenport and talk to people who are working in temp agencies and find out whether you can live on $8.00 an hour. Come to Davenport.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 23rd, 2013 / 4 p.m.
See context

North Vancouver
B.C.

Conservative

Andrew Saxton Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate this opportunity today to highlight some of the key initiatives in economic action plan 2013 act no. 2.

I would like to begin by saying that our government is very proud of the steps we are taking to support the economy through today's legislation. As always, we want an open, public, and timely debate on these measures; we also look forward to a detailed committee study in the House and in the Senate.

In keeping with previous budget legislation under our government, in addition to having the bill studied by the finance committee, we will recommend even further study to the provisions in today's legislation. It is for that reason that we will be asking the following committees to look at certain portions of the bill: citizenship and immigration; human resources, skills and social development and the status of persons with disabilities; and justice and human rights. Indeed, I will move a motion at the finance committee to this effect once second reading is completed by the House.

I hope opposition members will give their support at second reading as an indication that they genuinely want these committees to study the legislation instead of just playing political games.

On that note, let me outline why the opposition should support this legislation.

Economic action plan 2013 builds on the strong foundation that was laid last year. In addition to the portfolio of initiatives we have introduced since 2006 with affordable measures to create jobs, promote growth, and generate long-term prosperity, it will help to further unleash potential for Canadian businesses and entrepreneurs to innovate and thrive in the modern economy.

Let us revisit the facts.

Today Canada has the strongest job growth among G7 countries since the recession. Our unemployment rate is at its lowest level in four years. It is significantly lower than that of the U.S., which is a phenomenon that has not been seen in nearly three decades. Meanwhile, we have created over one million net new jobs, nearly 80% of which are in the private sector, and our government continues to make new opportunities for Canadians to find employment. Today's legislation does little to detract from this goal.

Both the independent International Monetary Fund, IMF, and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, OECD, are projecting that Canada's growth will be among the strongest performances in the G7 in the years ahead. Real GDP is significantly above pre-recession levels and is the best performance in the G7.

While other countries continue to struggle with debt that is spiralling out of control, Canada is in the best fiscal position in the G7. Canada still remains on track to return to balanced budgets n 2015.

However, our government has been very clear that we will not raise taxes on Canadians to balance the budget. Unlike the NDP, which continues to push high-tax schemes, our government believes that keeping taxes low means more money in the pockets of hard-working Canadians, and that in turn helps keep our economy strong.

A recent study by KPMG concluded that Canada's total business tax cost, which includes corporate income tax, capital taxes, sales taxes, property taxes, and wage-based taxes is more than 40% lower than it is in the United States. In short, our government has created an environment that encourages new investment, growth, and job creation, and one that ensures Canada has the strongest fiscal position and the lowest business tax costs in the G7.

Having the lowest overall tax rate on new business investment in the G7 translates into Canada having a competitive business tax system, one that plays a key role in supporting businesses in all sectors of the Canadian economy to invest, grow, and thrive.

Let me share some highlights of our tax relief initiatives.

Our government has implemented broad-based tax reductions that support investment and growth and is delivering more than $60 billion of tax relief to job-creating businesses over 2008-09 and the following five fiscal years.

For example, in order to boost investments and productivity, we reduced the federal corporate income tax to 15% from its 2007 rate of 21%.

In addition, the federal capital tax was eliminated in 2006, and the only corporate tax was eliminated for all businesses in 2008.

Furthermore, we reduced the small business tax rate to 11% in 2008 from 12% in 2007, and subsequently the amount of income eligible for this lower rate was increased to $500,000 in 2009.

Canada's system of international taxation was strengthened in order to better support cross-border trade and investment and to improve fairness.

These measures are part of a policy framework designed to increase our economy's production capacity and improve Canadians' quality of life.

Cutting federal corporate income tax and making other tax adjustments boost the assumed rate of return on investment and reduce capital costs. These measures encourage businesses to invest in Canada and hire Canadians.

That approach increases Canada's production capacity and improves Canadians' quality of life.

Economic action plan 2013 focused on positive initiatives to support job creation and economic growth while returning to balanced budgets, ensuring Canada's economic advantage remains strong today and into the future.

However, the job does not end there. Bill C-4 would implement key measures from economic action plan 2013 as well as certain previously announced tax measures to help create jobs, stimulate economic growth, and secure Canada's long-term prosperity.

Our government's low-tax plan is helping to guide the Canadian economy along the path of sustainable economic growth. Bill C-4 builds on our successes and maintains our government's focus on the economy.

I would like to discuss three key aspects of the bill today: a continued focus on job creation and support for job creators, a firm response to tax loopholes and tax evasion, and an overall respect for taxpayers' dollars.

While we believe in the benefits of lower taxes, our government fully understands that sustaining an effective tax system also rests on the foundation of tax fairness. That is why economic action plan 2013 is committed to closing tax loopholes that allow a select few businesses and individuals to avoid paying their fair share. Broadening and protecting the tax base supports our government's effort to return to balanced budgets, responds to provincial governments' concerns about protecting provincial revenues on our shared tax bases, and helps give Canadians confidence that the tax system is indeed fair.

The efforts made to ensure that everyone pays their fair share also help keep taxes low for Canadian families and businesses. In so doing, there is more motivation to work, save and invest in Canada.

Since 2006, and including measures proposed in economic action plan 2013, the government has introduced over 75 measures to improve the integrity of the tax system. Today's legislation takes additional steps in support of this objective.

Two examples include further extending the application of Canada's thin capitalization rules—which limit the amount of Canadian profits that can be distributed to certain non-resident shareholders as deductible interest payments—to Canadian resident trusts and non-resident entities, and introducing stiff administrative monetary penalties and criminal offences to deter the use, possession, sale, and development of electronic suppression-of-sales software designed to falsify records for the purpose of tax evasion.

We are also providing the Canada Revenue Agency, the CRA, with new tools to enforce the tax rules to combat international tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance, all while we are taking immediate action to improve the integrity and neutrality of the tax system. Specifically, economic action plan 2013 does this by streamlining the process for the CRA to obtain information concerning unnamed persons from third parties, such as banks; requiring certain financial intermediaries, including banks, to report to the CRA clients' international electronic fund transfers of $10,000 or more; and introducing a new program to stop international tax evasion that would pay rewards to individuals who report major international tax non-compliance.

As the opposition can see, tax fairness is a basic principle that our government is committed to upholding. We make no apologies for doing so. In fact, we are proud of our record and we are building on it.

A level playing field is what Canadian businesses deserve and require, and we are delivering. For example, the Income Tax Act contains a number of provisions intended to constrain the trading of corporate tax attributes among arm's-length persons. Unfortunately, despite the various provisions intended to curtail the inappropriate trading of loss pools, transactions to circumvent these provisions continue to be undertaken.

Our government understands the need to introduce practical legislative measures to ensure that there are appropriate tax implications attached to these transactions. This bill does just that. It introduces an anti-avoidance rule to support the existing loss restriction rules that apply on the acquisition of control of a corporation.

As everyone can see clearly, our government is committed to putting in place the right framework to ensure tax compliance. The Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants had this to say about economic action plan 2013:

The budget looks to close tax loopholes, address aggressive tax planning, clarify tax rules, reduce international tax avoidance and tax evasion and improve tax fairness. It also provides the Canada Revenue Agency with new tools to enforce the tax rules.

The statement continued with a strong backing of our initiatives and stated:

We support efforts to maintain the integrity of the tax base....

The bottom line is this: our government is committed to fighting tax evasion and giving Canadians a tax system they can have confidence in. There are those who would rather take advantage of the system to skip their fair contribution; Bill C-4 introduces strong new measures to combat this and would ensure that any previously mentioned measures from economic action plan 2013 come to fruition.

Lowering taxes is not the only way our government is furthering taxpayers' dollars. Canadians deserve streamlined services and efficient programs.

Today's legislation contains several measures fully in line with our government's respect for taxpayers' dollars. A few examples include modernizing the Canada student loans program by moving to electronic service delivery, improving the efficiency of the temporary foreign worker program by expanding electronic service delivery, phasing out the labour-sponsored venture capital corporations tax credit, and modernizing service delivery for Canadians by accelerating the move from paper-based to automated passport application e-services.

These are all changes that I am extremely proud to speak to. It is measures like these that demonstrate our government's commitment to making it easier for Canadians to access services that are cost-effective and efficient. While many of the changes in Bill C-4 are technical in nature, many provide clear benefits for Canadians.

I know that my constituents back home expect a fiscally responsible government. Let us take the modernization of the Canada student loans program as an example. Students in my riding of North Vancouver rely on this important program to help achieve their goals and make their educational aspirations a reality. This change in Bill C-4 would not only eliminate a cumbersome and often long process of paper agreements and identification but would also provide the government with approximately $10 million in cost savings per year. It is just common sense to provide a better service to Canadians and while saving taxpayers' dollars at the same time. It is initiatives like this that make bills like today's all the more important to pass.

I have talked about how we are working hard to make our tax system fair and how we are doing everything possible to maximize taxpayer money, but I have not forgotten about an area that Canadians have on their minds: jobs.

Quite simply, our government values job creators and we have been working hard with them in recent years to ensure that they are in the best position possible to provide jobs for Canadians.

The legislation I have the privilege of speaking about today introduces some new ways our government can support job creation in this country. Examples include extending and expanding the hiring credit for small business, which would benefit an estimated 560,000 employers; increasing and indexing the lifetime capital gains exemption to make investing in small business more rewarding; expanding the accelerated capital cost allowance to further encourage investments in clean energy generation; freezing employment insurance premium rates for three years, leaving $660 million in the pockets of job creators and workers in 2014 alone.

Let me elaborate on one of these measures that I think will have a big impact for small businesses.

Among the many ways that Canada's income tax system supports small business owners, farmers and fishermen is the lifetime capital gains tax exemption, the LCGE. In order to increase the potential rewards of investing in small business, farming and fishing, economic action plan 2013 proposes to increase the LCGE from $750,000 to $800,000 in 2014. The exemption helps these entrepreneurs better ensure their financial security for retirement and facilitates the intergenerational transfer of their businesses. In 2007 our government increased the LCGE to $750,000 from $500,000, the first increase in the exemption since 1988.

In addition, to ensure the real value of the LCGE is not eroded over time, economic action plan 2013 proposes to index the $800,000 LCGE limit to inflation for the first time ever. The first indexation adjustment will occur for the 2015 taxation year. This is added security for the small business owner and provides financial freedom to create new jobs.

The initiatives set out in economic action plan 2013 are based on domestic government measures to improve the overall strength of Canada's tax system and to once again demonstrate our government's commitment to using taxpayers' money responsibly.

With a comprehensive and forward-looking agenda, these initiatives will deliver high quality jobs, economic growth and sound public finances.

Economic action plan 2013 would allow Canada to meet these challenges and emerge from them stronger than ever today and in the future.

While the opposition continues to focus on issues that do not matter to Canadians, our government remains focused on the task at hand. Economic growth did not stop at the last budget or the last budget implementation act for that matter. We continue to look for ways to maximize taxpayer dollars, increase the efficiency of the inner workings of government and make certain that job creation and economic prosperity are at the forefront of any new legislation. In this respect, the bill would make significant improvements that would benefit Canadians. I urge members of the House to pass it.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 23rd, 2013 / 4:15 p.m.
See context

NDP

Peggy Nash Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, clearly the government has not learned from the past. Here we have the fourth omnibus budget implementation act in two years. We have yet another bill that is crammed with changes to 70 laws. It is over 300 pages long. It is a grab bag of the wants and desires of the Conservative caucus. It contains things that should not be in a budget bill, such as Supreme Court nominations, changes to health and safety legislation for workers and changes to the National Research Council.

If my colleague and his caucus colleagues are so convinced that their government is on the right track, why are they hiding all of these changes in an omnibus budget bill rather than presenting them as individual bills? Why are they using the spin that they are doing such a great job on the economy when almost 300,000 more people are unemployed now than before the recession, growth is slowing and many of our trading partners are outdoing Canada? Our current account deficit is growing and the Conservatives are not dealing with it. Could the member answer that?

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 23rd, 2013 / 4:20 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Andrew Saxton North Vancouver, BC

That was an omnibus question, Mr. Speaker. I would like to try to address as many of those questions as I can possibly remember.

First, the length of this bill is really quite similar to the last four acts that have been introduced over the last number of years, so it is very similar in length.

Second, the vast majority of the items in the bill refer to technical items that were already presented in economic action plan 2013 by the Minister of Finance back in March of this year.

It is a lengthy bill because we have a lot of work to do in Canada. We have been extremely fortunate to have weathered the economic storm so well. However, we still are not immune to pressures from outside the country and therefore we have to take measures in order to protect our economy.

To give the House an idea of some of those measures, economic action plan 2013 focuses squarely on the creation of jobs, economic growth and the long-term prosperity of Canadians. It is doing this by connecting Canadians with available jobs, a new long-term $70 billion infrastructure plan over 10 years, which is an precedented amount, investing in world-class research and innovation and much more.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 23rd, 2013 / 4:20 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, every time I hear one of the Conservatives stand and use the phrase “economic action plan”, I have this vision of someone sitting inside the PMO putting a little gold star beside that name.

It is almost like it is mandatory, “You will stand up. You will say economic action plan”. Every time the members say it, they get a gold star. I am sure there is someone in the Prime Minister's Office making note of every time one of the members talks about it.

For most Canadians, we see it as a great deal of waste in terms of the promotion of that slogan, the millions of dollars that have been spent on it.

My question is related to the balanced budget legislation about which the government is talking. We all know the government inherited a huge surplus, turned it into a deficit and now it says it will get out of a deficit into a balanced position in 2015-16. At the end of the day, we will not find out if that is true or false until after the next federal election.

On the balanced budget legislation, is there a consequence to the government if it is does not meet that balanced budget requirement, whatever it might be?

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 23rd, 2013 / 4:20 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Andrew Saxton North Vancouver, BC

Mr. Speaker, regarding the balanced budget, before the global recession hit, our Conservative government paid down over $37 billion in debt, bringing Canada's debt to its lowest level in 25 years.

It is because we paid down the debt that we were in a position to help the economy when it needed it most. Our fiscal responsibility and aggressive debt reduction placed Canada in the best possible position to weather the global economic storm.

When the global economic recession hit, we were able to respond quickly and effectively with Canada's economic action plan. Here are some examples of how well we are doing. Canada's net debt to GDP ratio was 34.6% in 2012. That is the lowest level among G7 countries. Germany, by contrast, is the second lowest at 57.2%. The G7 average is 90.4%.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 23rd, 2013 / 4:25 p.m.
See context

Blackstrap
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Lynne Yelich Minister of State (Foreign Affairs and Consular)

Mr. Speaker, I wanted to know if the member would like to tell the member for Winnipeg North just how the budget had been balanced by the Liberals, which he was applauding.

How did that really occur? If I remember correctly, the Liberals balanced the budget on the backs of Canadians. Maybe the member would like to tell the story.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 23rd, 2013 / 4:25 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Andrew Saxton North Vancouver, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am glad that my colleague asked me that very important question.

Unlike the previous Liberal government that balanced the budget on the backs of hard-working Canadians and on the backs of the provinces by cutting health and education transfers, which caused significant shortages in our health care system and our education system, we are not doing that.

When the member opposite mentions that we inherited a surplus, I can tell members where that surplus went. It went back into the pockets of ordinary hard-working Canadians, because that is where that money should be, not in government coffers.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 23rd, 2013 / 4:25 p.m.
See context

Green

Elizabeth May Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, my first comment is for my hon. colleague, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance.

Although this administration has reduced corporate taxes dramatically, economists such as Mark Carney, the former governor of the Bank of Canada, found that corporations were not using it to create jobs. In fact he called it “dead money”.

An RBC economist has pegged that amount at over $600 billion, money that corporations are saving, not spending. They are not spending it on jobs. They are not spending it on growth. It is in fact dead money and we need to adjust the corporate tax rate to the benefit of Canadians.

I have a lot of questions. I attended the briefing last night, and I think the hon. member did the right thing postponing until tonight, but it means I have a lot of specific questions. I do not know what this has to do with budget 2012. I never saw in budget 2012 that the intention of the budget was to change the Canada labour code so workers covered by it would be less protected against dangerous assignments.

The revision in clause 176, found by coincidence at page 176 of Bill C-4, changes the definition of “danger” and removes, as a reason a worker can refuse to participate in that work, injury or illness that could result in chronic illness, removes the words “injury or illness” and insists that to be dangerous it has to be an “imminent or serious threat to the life or health” and removes what is in the current definition of damage to the reproductive system.

In other words, it is a systematic attack on the rights of a worker to refuse to work in dangerous conditions. That was never cited in budget 2012. I would like to know if the hon. member could explain it to us.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 23rd, 2013 / 4:25 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Andrew Saxton North Vancouver, BC

Mr. Speaker, the first part of the question regarded lowering taxes for businesses. We are proud that our government has lowered taxes to record lows. It is at 15% now in Canada.

Let me give an example of a result of that. Tim Hortons had its international headquarters in the United States five years ago. It has now moved those headquarters back to Canada because of our low tax measures. That is a perfect example of jobs being created in Canada as a result of our government's policies on lowering taxes for small, medium and large businesses.

Regarding the member's question about the Canada Labour Code and the change to the definition of “danger”, these amendments ensure that employees and employers remain at the forefront of resolving occupational health and safety issues. This would allow our government to improve our focus on critical issues that affect the health and safety of Canadians in the workplace. Employees still have the right to refuse to work where they have reasonable cause to believe a situation is dangerous. Health and safety officers remain available 24-7 to respond to real situations of danger in the workplace.

Worker safety is of the utmost concern to us, and it will remain at very high levels.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 23rd, 2013 / 4:25 p.m.
See context

NDP

Peggy Nash Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill C-4, the second federal budget implementation bill in 2013, and the fourth omnibus bill introduced in the House in the past two years. This time, the Conservatives have pushed the urgency to new levels to get their files through the House.

Bill C-4 was introduced yesterday morning and we have already started debate on a bill that is over 300 pages and that amends or repeals 70 legislative measures. This is yet more proof of the Conservatives' absolute contempt for the democratic process.

Once again, the NDP must express its opposition to these heavy-handed tactics. Canadians deserve better.

Canadians were asked to wait for an extra month for their MPs to come back to work here in Ottawa. The Conservatives said the prorogation was necessary and that it was time to reset the government's policy agenda. I certainly agree that the government's policy needs a serious redo, but that is not what Canadians heard last week in the Speech from the Throne.

Instead, despite soaring youth unemployment and nearly 300,000 more people unemployed today than before the recession, the Conservatives failed to lay out a jobs plan or take concrete action that would create good middle-class jobs.

Just today, the Bank of Canada issued a report. It said that it had significantly overestimated growth in its last report and has now lowered GDP growth projections for 2013, 2014 and 2015. That is the kind of job the government is doing. The Bank of Canada is now predicting that in 2013, GDP growth will be a meagre 1.6%. Clearly, the government's economic agenda is failing. The Prime Minister has failed miserably. I will say it again. The Prime Minister's economic agenda has failed miserably.

In fact, the government is pushing ahead with its plan to claw back $300 million from skills funding for the most vulnerable workers, even in the face of united opposition from the premiers. Bill C-4 focuses more on gutting Canadians' right to a safe and healthy workplace and prompting conflict with civil servants than it does on job creation.

Despite all the Conservative spin, Canadians know that only New Democrats can be trusted to put their needs first and to give middle-class Canadians a fair break. Canadians need a government committed to genuine consultation to get to the bottom of this. Only by working together and pulling in the same direction can we have an economy performing to meet the needs of all Canadians and Canadian businesses.

The NDP vision for the economy is one where we maximize the opportunities we have, based on our enormous advantages as a country, to deliver the best we can for Canadians.

Since the 2008 financial crisis, the economy has been at the heart of Canadians' concerns. We have faced an endless number of foreign economic threats. Our recovery was marked by fear of a debt spiral in Europe and political impasses in the United States.

Today, the Canadian economy is facing new challenges. We still face threats abroad, but we are also facing threats that originate much closer to home.

Canadian families are struggling like never before. They are caught between a rising cost of living on the one hand and disappearing middle-class jobs on the other. Over the last 35 years, income is up for the top 20% of wage earners, but down for the bottom 80%. Our economy has grown nearly 150% over that 35-year period of time and yet median household income has declined by 7%.

Professor Miles Corak at the University of Ottawa said:

Over the last couple of decades or more the median wage rate has hardly changed, and wage rates below the halfway point have fallen by five to as much as 10 percentage points....

This means that many families who face lower wage rates have to run harder just to stand still....

In my own city of Toronto, a recent report by the Daily Bread Food Bank found that almost one-quarter of the people accessing food banks have someone in their households who is working. In the 905 region, that number is almost 40%. Therefore, paid employment, even a full-time job, is clearly not always a ticket out of hunger and poverty. That is shocking. That is simply unacceptable.

In September, Statistics Canada announced that household debt had reached a whopping 166% of disposable income. More than one in eight households has a debt-to-income ratio higher than 250%; that is one in eight. Mortgage debt alone now stands at roughly one trillion dollars. In many communities the cost of housing is squeezing household budgets.

A report by the Toronto Community Foundation found that according to 2001 figures, almost one-third of Toronto region households are spending 30% or more of their total income just on housing. Among the city's renters, the number was even higher, at over 43%. According to the OECD, the Canadian housing market is now among the most overvalued in the world. Taken as a whole, Canadian household debt is now dangerously close to American debt levels just prior to the financial crisis of 2008.

Before leaving his post as governor, Mark Carney warned that mounting household debt may force the Bank of Canada to pull back on economic stimulus. While the rate of growth of household debt has slowed somewhat since Mr. Carney's departure, the Bank of Canada says that household debt is still the “biggest domestic risk” facing our economy.

All of this, the rising cost of living, coupled with stagnating wages, has major implications for domestic demands. After all, if a consumer-driven economy is to succeed, consumers need money in their pockets to spend. This is, of course, what every business knows, especially small businesses.

Earlier this year, The Economist magazine remarked on Canada's economy:

...five years on, consumers are showing signs of flagging. ...So the authorities are casting around for another source of growth. The trouble is they cannot seem to find one.

The Conservatives promised to focus on affordability in their throne speech with a so-called “consumer first” agenda for the new session of Parliament, but Bill C-4 makes no progress for Canadian consumers. The Conservatives have made big promises about protecting consumers for seven years, but have failed time and time again to help consumers in need and consistently vote against consumer-friendly provisions put forward by the opposition.

Consumers are failed by the government. The Conservatives have been big on talk and very small on follow-through. By contrast, New Democrats have led the way on consumer protection and will be looking to hold the government members to account to ensure their actions match their words. We know that any serious attempt to tackle this complex issue has to start with an honest look at the economic conditions facing business and labour markets as well as families.

The Canadian labour market is facing significant challenges, in both the short and medium terms. Today, our unemployment rate remains stubbornly high. There is only one position available for every 6.5 Canadians looking for a job.

Even worse, youth unemployment is now over 14%, which means that the next generation of workers cannot gain the experience they will need to replace the older generation.

In my city of Toronto, one in five youth is unemployed. With households and workers facing such challenges, it is no wonder our business sector is struggling as well. We have heard the statistics, $600 billion in private money sitting on the sidelines. The former governor of the Bank of Canada has spoken about this.

While the Minister of Finance admonishes business to just step up and invest, New Democrats are more interested in working with business leaders, listening to them and finding out what the barriers are to them investing in the current climate. While Liberal and Conservative governments sat back and watched a generation of middle-class jobs disappear in Canada, pausing occasionally to wag their fingers at business for not doing better, we are more interested in working together, pulling together to create the next generation of middle-class jobs here in Canada.

Let us talk about those jobs, an area that the Conservatives have continually failed to take any action on, even in four omnibus budget bills. The real question is this. What kind of jobs are we creating?

Simply put, we want Canada to own the most profitable and productive slice of the global supply chain, 21st century knowledge economy jobs, in the most modern, innovative and energy-efficient industries, instead of falling further behind under the current government. I know that is easier said than done. However, the fact is that with as many challenges as we have ahead of us we have opportunities too. Canada has many advantages. Canada is among the most entrepreneurial countries in the world. Even through the worst of the recession, Canadian small businesses continued to thrive and multiply.

Yet one of the most disturbing trends in Canadian business development is that alarmingly few of those small businesses are growing into medium businesses and beyond. From 2006 to 2010, Canada lost more than 1,500 medium-size businesses, even as the number of small and large businesses grew. During that period, mid-size businesses were 10 times as likely to shrink or shut down as they were to grow.

Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz told the Vancouver Board of Trade:

A characteristic of a naturally growing economy is a steady increase in the population of companies. However, for five years after the start of the crisis, we saw virtually no increase in the population of Canadian companies.

This matters, a lot.

To maximize our potential we need effective education and skills training programs so that we have innovative companies ready to adapt to a changing global economy. This means doing the best job possible to tap into first nation communities so that they can develop to their full potential, while providing a badly needed skilled workforce, especially in remote areas.

Under the current government, a generation of young Canadians is facing double-digit unemployment; precarious, uncertain, low-paid jobs; and an equally uncertain future. The unemployment rate fell in September, but only because 20,000 young Canadians gave up searching for work. Yet Bill C-4 has only deafening silence to offer on youth employment. Instead, the Conservatives are focused on ensuring that Canadian workplaces will be less healthy, less safe and less secure for workers in the future. It makes no sense.

Canadians know that the NDP is the party most focused on the next generation. New Democrats have proposed a job creation tax credit for small and medium-sized businesses as well as large corporations. Therefore, the NDP is targeting businesses that create new jobs and contribute to economic growth.

Under the NDP proposal, companies could receive up to $1,000 for hiring a young employee and an additional $1,000 in compensation for the training of that employee. The tax credit would be doubled in the regions with particularly high youth unemployment rates.

The NDP tax credit for hiring young people would benefit both young workers and the companies that hire them. Canadians do not want to be left behind or told that they have to settle for less.

We want to do better, improve the situation and show leadership. These are our objectives.

In the 21st-century global economy, Canadian cities will be the engines of economic growth. Cities are the economic hub that brings together the mix of investment, technology and talent that allows our economy to thrive. There is a growing body of research that highlights the key cluster effect that cities play in our larger, macroeconomic picture, and the role that government can play in bringing these elements together. In my own city of Toronto, we have a film and television industry that is growing at the rate of 25%, more than double the economic growth rate of China, vastly outpacing the industry as a whole because of a partnership between industry, labour and government that has delivered these results. We need more models like that. Unfortunately, we are faced with a government that does not focus on the vital role that cities play as engines of economic growth.

Bill C-4 offers nothing for cities to address the massive infrastructure deficit that is a drag on our economy. In fact the PBO revealed that under the guise of a long-term infrastructure funding plan of $50 billion over 10 years, the Conservatives had actually cut infrastructure funding in budget 2013 by $5.8 billion. This is over the next few years. It is easy to make promises for years when they will not even be in government, I suppose.

What is needed is a serious commitment to sustainable and predictable funding in our urban centres. There are some things we can just do better when we work together. Investing in our future is one of them.

We should be asking ourselves what we can do better as a nation, what we can do together in addition to our efforts as families and communities. The Conservative government keeps telling Canadians, “We'll cut your taxes, but you're on your own. Don't count on us”. Services are being cut back. Programs are being cut back. Conservatives, again in this bill, are telling Canadians that they are on their own to ensure safe and healthy workplaces. When it comes to the needs of the country's veterans, when it comes to EI financing and taking real action for a more prosperous Canada for all Canadians, they say, “you are on your own”.

Speaking to Canadians across this country, I know that people still believe we need to work together to build for a better tomorrow.

Canadians understand governments have a role to play in supporting the economic conditions that improve their lives. In dealing with broad economic problems, we need solutions that address all sides of the ledger: creating good, high-quality jobs; making life more affordable for families; encouraging Canadians to save and invest for retirement; fostering the conditions for businesses and communities to succeed; ensuring all Canadians have a place to live; investing in needed infrastructure such as transit; taking a co-operative approach with the provinces on education and training; building a future full of opportunities for Canada's youth.

We need a balanced approach that will help us succeed. New Democrats can do better. We know that Canadians deserve better and New Democrats will stand up for Canadians every day until they get better.

In my time remaining, 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 second reading to Bill C-4, A second act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 21, 2013 and other measures, because it:

(a) decreases transparency and erodes democratic process by amending 70 different pieces of legislation, many of which are not related to budgetary measures;

(b) dismantles health and safety protections for Canadian workers, affecting their right to refuse unsafe work;

(c) increases the likelihood of strikes by eliminating binding arbitration as an option for public sector workers; and

(d) eliminates the independent Canada Employment Insurance Financing Board, allowing the government to continue playing politics with employment insurance rate setting.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 23rd, 2013 / 4:50 p.m.
See context

Conservative

LaVar Payne Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, I listened intently to the hon. member's comments on the budget. It is interesting to note that she really condemned our government for not having an economic action plan. However, somewhere along the line, she has absolutely failed to recognize that we have created over one million jobs since the end of the recession. It sounds to me like we are getting it done.

My question for the member is how a $21-billion carbon tax, installed by the NDP, would help the Canadian economy.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 23rd, 2013 / 4:50 p.m.
See context

NDP

Peggy Nash Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question and his rapt attention during my remarks.

The Parliamentary Budget Officer estimates that the overall impact of budget 2012, the fiscal update in 2012, and budget 2013 will mean a loss of 67,000 jobs by the year 2017 and that there will be a reduction in GDP by almost two-thirds of a percentage point. I understand that he has some points that have been given to him to make, but we are falling behind other countries that are doing better on growth: the U.S., Scandinavian nations, Australia, and New Zealand, many of our trading partners.

The IMF has predicted that the Canadian economy will continue to be held back by high levels of household debt. Part of this is about the decline in middle-class jobs, growing inequality in the country, and the government's failure to create good jobs for Canadians so that they can get ahead and give their kids the best start possible.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 23rd, 2013 / 4:50 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, the member made reference to infrastructure. There is absolutely no doubt that investment in infrastructure throughout our country is absolutely essential. We need a commitment to it.

One of the things I have felt is often overlooked when we talk about infrastructure is our national housing stock and the importance of investing in rehabilitation assistance programs for improvements to our housing stock. Some of these programs date way back to the 1970s. It is, in fact, a part of our Canadian infrastructure and something we should be concerned about.

Would the member like to provide some thoughts as to how important it is at the government level that we are prepared to set priorities for investing in and improving our national housing stock?

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 23rd, 2013 / 4:55 p.m.
See context

NDP

Peggy Nash Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for that serious question. In a country where the cost of housing is eating up a bigger share of the budgets of Canadians and where the issue of homelessness is still a massive problem for so many Canadians right across this country, it is shocking that the current government does not even mention housing and homelessness in this budget implementation act, Bill C-4. It is sad that there is so little action taking place on this pressing issue.

I understand the point the member is making. There is housing stock in co-op housing and elsewhere that is in need of investment for maintenance. There is nothing in this budget to provide for that. I am sorry also that in the 1990s, the Liberals cancelled the national housing strategy. That was a terrible blow to housing funding in this country.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 23rd, 2013 / 4:55 p.m.
See context

NDP

Irene Mathyssen London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for a very good overview of this budget bill. All I can see here is a tax on Canadians: municipalities, veterans, civil servants, credit unions, scientists, and environmentalists. I can only assume that this is the government's new enemies list.

What concerns me most is how this budget bill would target Canadians in the workplace and change Canadians' absolute right to healthy and safe workplaces. Every April, I go to a day of mourning that recognizes the workers, the men and women, who have lost their lives in preventable situations, in situations where these tragedies should never have occurred. I wonder how putting this kind of change in a budget bill can possibly be good for Canadian families.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 23rd, 2013 / 4:55 p.m.
See context

NDP

Peggy Nash Parkdale—High Park, ON

I thank my colleague from London—Fanshawe for this question about occupational health and safety. I know her long-time and serious commitment to this issue. It is also an issue that so many of us have lived.

Working people know their own jobs best, and they know if they are working in a hazardous or risky situation. The rights working people have developed over the years to know about dangers in the workplace, to be informed, and to refuse unsafe work were hard fought for. Employers resisted them, but they have made our workplaces safer and healthier over the years. That the Conservatives would want to undermine the health and safety of Canadians in the workplace is unbelievable.

It makes no sense. It is not only dangerous for working people, it makes no business sense. It is bad for businesses. It is a bad direction the current government is taking our country.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 23rd, 2013 / 4:55 p.m.
See context

Independent

Bruce Hyer Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

Mr. Speaker, here we go again. At over 300 pages, Bill C-4 is the latest in a long line of bloated Conservative omnibus bills.

Half of what is in this bill is totally unrelated to the budget. It contains important and worrisome changes to the Canada Labour Code, the National Research Council, the Veterans Review and Appeal Board, the immigration regime, the collective bargaining rights of public sector employees across Canada, and the Supreme Court Act.

In 1994, the leader of the opposition, the current Prime Minister, questioned how members could properly represent their constituents when forced to vote on omnibus budget bills.

Why does the hon. member think the Conservatives no longer recognize the undemocratic, anti-democratic nature of such omnibus bills?

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 23rd, 2013 / 4:55 p.m.
See context

NDP

Peggy Nash Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, I suspect that there are members in the Conservative caucus who are also very uncomfortable with these omnibus budget bills.

Canadians know that this is not good process, that this is not how we should be making our laws. It is not good process to have a grab bag of issues and concerns from different caucus members thrown into one omnibus budget bill. There is no reason to do that, unless the Conservatives do not want democratic debate, do not want Canadians to know what they are doing, or are not proud of what they are doing. It is a sad state of our democracy that the government persists time and time again with omnibus budget bills. I hear about it at the doorstep when I talk to Canadians.

Part of this budget implementation bill would correct mistakes from previous budget implementation acts that were put through with way too much haste; for example, doubling the amount of tax that credit unions would pay vis-à-vis Canada's major banks. That was a change the government made in a previous omnibus budget implementation act.

It makes no sense. It is a bad way to do legislation.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 23rd, 2013 / 5 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Scott Brison Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, I would like to speak about this latest budget bill.

It is another omnibus budget bill. It is 308 pages in length, and there are 472 separate clauses, including amendments to the Supreme Court Act to ensure that Justice Nadon qualifies for the Supreme Court and to correct a mistake that the Conservatives seem to have made during the nomination process.

There is much in this bill that has absolutely nothing to do with the budget. The government is, in fact, proposing to overhaul labour relations with the public service, which is one of the reasons my friend and colleague, the member for Cape Breton—Canso, will be speaking to that issue today as the critic in areas of labour for the Liberal Party and its caucus.

Last night I saw a spectacle that I have not seen in almost 17 years in this place, which was that of a government that was incapable of organizing a budget briefing for members of Parliament. The budget briefing had to be called off because the government did not have its act together: it forgot to order translations for the meeting.

Sadly, it is part of a growing pattern of incompetence from the Conservative government and its finance minister. This is the finance minister who has added over $150 billion to our national debt with his reckless spending and his bad fiscal management.

Yesterday the finance minister was asked a very simple question. The throne speech told us recently that there would be balanced budget legislation forthcoming; the question to the minister yesterday was to help clarify what that balanced budget legislation would mean. The throne speech told us that the balanced budget legislation would “require balanced budgets during normal economic times”, and yesterday the minister was asked to define “normal economic times”. He responded that normal economic times are times when the government is not in deficit.

Today the minister seemed to confirm that his balanced budget legislation would only require balanced budgets when the budget is already balanced. It is no wonder that so many Canadians are losing faith both in this minister and in the Conservative government's management of the Canadian economy.

Now we have this budget bill, a bill that utterly fails to address the real concerns facing middle-class Canadian families. Either these failures are part of a systemic problem or else they speak to an effort of the government to distract Canadians from some of its recent scandals.

For instance, the government is picking a fight with the public service, a gratuitous fight at a time when we need to work with the public service to deliver better services for Canadians and better results for taxpayers. The Conservatives are picking this fight, and I believe that it is in fact to distract Canadians. This big fight with the public service is to distract Canadians from the government's growing list of scandals, the most recent of which is the Duffy-Wright-Prime Minister's Office scandal.

We all know that on June 5, the Prime Minister said in the House that Mr. Wright acted alone and that they were not only his decisions but that they were not communicated to the Prime Minister or to any members of his office. It has become very clear in recent days and weeks that this is not true.

On February 13, the Prime Minister defended Senator Pamela Wallin and said that her expenses were fine. He stood by her and her expenses. Now the government realizes it is mired in scandal and is trying to change the channel. That is why it is picking the fight with the public service union at this time.

In this budget bill, over 80 pages of the roughly 300 pages are devoted to overhauling relations with the public service. This is something that ought to have been achieved, if in fact there was a legitimate public policy issue, in a separate piece of legislation dealt with by the government operations committee, rather than by lumping it into a large omnibus budget bill to be dealt with by the finance committee.

The government is having trouble changing the channel away from scandals. It is trying to pick these fights, but the reality is that it cannot change the channel; the Prime Minister cannot even find the remote control. Perhaps Nigel Wright took the remote control with him when he left, along with all those files from the PMO.

Speaking of changing the channel, I have never seen a Speech from the Throne in which one of the principal focuses has been on the unbundling of cable TV channels. I do not think there is any country in the British commonwealth that has devoted so much ink in a throne speech to cable TV regulation. It is not part of any grand vision for the country that addresses the real economic challenges of Canadian families, and the fact is that middle-class families are feeling squeezed. They have record high levels of personal debt, they can barely make ends meet today when we have record low levels of interest rates, and they are petrified as to what will happen in the future as rates inevitably go up.

Middle-class Canadians have seen good-paying jobs replaced by part-time work, and for young Canadians there are still 224,000 fewer jobs today than before the downturn. The gap between Canada's youth unemployment and the so-called adult unemployment rate for people 25 years of age or older hit an all-time high this year. With the economy sputtering forward, our youth are being left behind, and this is not affecting just young Canadians: it is affecting their parents and, in many cases, their grandparents, who are footing the bills. According to TD Bank, more than half of baby-boom parents are providing financial support to adult children who are no longer in school and 43% have allowed their adult children to live at home rent-free for extended periods.

This is also contributing to higher household debt and lower retirement savings for parents.

It is time for the government to get serious about this issue and provide more support for young Canadians in need.

Helping adult children make ends meet is actually leading middle-class Canadian families into taking on a lot of additional debt and dipping into their retirement savings. It is also one of the reasons that Canadian parents 55 years or older are two and a half times more likely to refinance their mortgage if they have children than if they do not, and their average household debt is actually twice that of their childless peers. They are more likely to take on higher non-mortgage debt, such as higher credit card debt and lines of credit, which is one of the reasons non-mortgage debt in Canada continues to climb, with an average Canadian now owing over $27,000 in non-mortgage debt.

The Conservatives refuse to acknowledge these real financial pressures for young Canadians and their families, and instead of helping youth get meaningful work experience, they have actually cut the government's own summer jobs program by half. In their latest throne speech, more time was spent talking about finding the Franklin expedition than in helping Canadian youth find jobs. This is a government that is out of touch. It wants to make cable TV cheaper for Canadian youth, but it is doing nothing to help youth get away from the TV and into meaningful work opportunities.

The throne speech never once acknowledged the record level of high personal debt in Canada, and neither did this budget implementation bill. This bill does nothing to kick-start the Canadian economy for young Canadians and create jobs. It does nothing to help young Canadians and their struggling families and, consistent with the throne speech, it offers no real vision for the future.

Certainly some freezing of EI rates and keeping the small business tax credit in place helps, but it is nothing new and it is not good enough. Right now the economy is not growing. Just this morning the Bank of Canada slashed its growth forecast for the Canadian economy yet again. It says that the Canadian economy will not rebound to capacity until, at the very earliest, the end of 2015. The fact is that Canada has the worst record of economic growth under the current Prime Minister; R.B. Bennett was the second worst.

Right now there are too many young Canadians looking for work and there are too many middle-class Canadians struggling under crushing levels of personal debt, $1.65 for every $1 of annual income being the average. In fact, this bill would actually make things worse, for instance, for the mining sector, and changes to the labour-sponsored venture capital tax credit for investments in innovation in small business will make it harder for small businesses to attract investment and growth.

This budget actually corrects some mistakes made in the last budget implementation act. The last budget implementation act mistakenly doubled taxes on credit unions. Imagine. This budget implementation act corrects mistakes made in the last budget implementation act. One of the laws of unintended consequences of omnibus bills is that we see these mistakes made in the acts in the first place.

This tired, out-of-touch Conservative government, mired in scandal, devoid of vision, is offering nothing to help young Canadians and their struggling middle-class families. Canadians are tired of a government trying to change the channel. What they really want is to change the government. They want hope for a better future, pride in a stronger Canada and some positive vision and ideas for the future. That is what the Liberal Party and a future Liberal government is offering to Canadians.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 23rd, 2013 / 5:10 p.m.
See context

Blackstrap
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Lynne Yelich Minister of State (Foreign Affairs and Consular)

Mr. Speaker, one of the areas that helped everyone, including young people, was our cutting of taxes, personal taxes, consumption, business and excise, and much more. It particularly helped young people when we cut the GST from 7% to 5%.

What interested me was the comment the member made on mining. I believe one of his colleagues has introduced a bill that directly targets our mining in Canada. Canadian mining companies and the sector are very concerned. I wonder if that member will support or speak against that particular bill because mining is very important to Canada, as he suggests, and he is worried about investment. However, the mining companies are very worried about that bill. After we have finished this debate, I believe that particular bill will be debated. I wonder what he would suggest for that bill.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 23rd, 2013 / 5:10 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Scott Brison Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, first of all, I want to congratulate the minister on her new role.

I think as minister of state for foreign affairs, it is important for her to have an understanding that strong corporate social responsibility—environmental governance, high labour standards and respect for human rights—is actually something that many Canadian mining companies are providing throughout the world. In fact, we can raise the bar further. We can do more to strengthen the brand of Canada in the world, with strong standards of CSR.

Mining is something that we are exceptionally good at as a country. It is an area where we are creating good jobs in Canada and in other countries. I do not think corporate social responsibility is something that Canadian mining companies are trying to avoid. I think it is something that Canadian mining companies are increasingly embracing.

Through Canadian mining companies acting responsibly as they grow business and develop opportunities around the world, we can build a better, more stable and sustainable world.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 23rd, 2013 / 5:15 p.m.
See context

NDP

Matthew Dubé Chambly—Borduas, QC

Mr. Speaker, I note with interest that this supposed budget implementation bill is, in fact, a grab bag of things totally unrelated to the budget. One very obvious example is the section about Supreme Court judges.

I find it interesting to see what is happening in Quebec these days. The federal government did a poor job of handling issues raised by the latest Supreme Court appointment. It is now attempting to make some changes, as we can see. However, the catch-all nature of the bill makes it impossible to properly handle such an important issue as Supreme Court appointments, a constitutional issue. This really deserves a separate bill, apart from the omnibus bill.

Could my colleague comment on the grab bag style of the bill? It is even more of a catch-all than the previous ones. It mixes together things that are not connected in any way.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 23rd, 2013 / 5:15 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Scott Brison Kings—Hants, NS

I totally agree with my colleague, Mr. Speaker.

The fact that the government would seek to amend the provisions of the Supreme Court Act relating to court appointments in its budget implementation bill is ludicrous. In fact, it makes no sense and it is an insult to Quebeckers.

It is again correcting a mistake that the government made earlier when it followed a process of the appointment for Justice Nadon, ignoring what the requirements actually were. Let us imagine a government that ignores the law in appointing a Supreme Court judge. It makes absolutely no sense.

To double the insult and to actually include that in a budget implementation bill makes a farce of the whole process.

Bill C-4—Notice of Time Allocation Motion
Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 23rd, 2013 / 5:15 p.m.
See context

York—Simcoe
Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I would like to advise that an agreement could not be reached under the provisions of Standing Order 78(1) or Standing Order 78(2) with respect to the second reading stage of Bill C-4, A second act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 21, 2013 and other measures.

Under the provisions of Standing Order 78(3), I give notice that a minister of the Crown will propose at the next sitting a motion to allot a specific number of days or hours for the consideration and disposal of proceedings at the said stage.

I would like to give the House the courtesy of knowing that I intend to propose that four further days of debate be allotted, in addition to today, for a total of five days.

Second Reading
Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 23rd, 2013 / 5:15 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, I want to first thank the House for allowing unanimous consent so that I could take part in this debate, which was noted by my friend and colleague from Dartmouth—Cole Harbour. He was not sure whether it was because the House had anticipated my comments so much and were so looking forward to what I had to say, or more so that they liked to limit my friend and colleague from Kings—Hants to 10 minutes. Whatever the rationale was, I appreciate the House allowing me to go forward.

I want to speak about the principles behind some aspects of the legislation. One of the comments that the parliamentary secretary mentioned when he led off the debate today was that it was not strange to have a bill of this size with so many components in it. It is 321 pages, but he said the last four bills have been of similar size.

The last four bills have been presented by the same government and concerns have been raised. Certainly the opposition parties voiced their disapproval with such a practice on those four occasions, but he was able to justify the bill by saying the last four were presented in a very similar manner. That would be like an NHL coach saying, “I didn't make the playoffs the last four years, but now you decide to fire me in my fifth year”. The unfortunate part is that maybe we do not get an opportunity to fire the government for another couple of years, but that day too shall come.

I want to talk about what was mentioned by my colleague from Kings—Hants with regard to some of the aspects of this piece of legislation as it deals with changing labour relationships in this country. I will read these into the record.

I want to talk about principles that a government must respect in creating legislation, such as what we are debating today, that affects millions of Canadians. In particular, it affects over 1.2 million hard-working Canadians who work in federal industries and the public service.

For Canadians, the affected workers in particular, to believe in these laws, they must have faith and trust in their government. However, trust and respect does not come with some gun pointed to their heads. Governing is about striking balance, a balance between things such as the environment and the economy, between one part of the country and the other, between social and economic values, and between the interests of the employer and the employee. Part of figuring out that balance is listening to people who may not agree with us and respecting the principles of fairness and due process when creating laws that fundamentally affect them. I do not believe there has been a government in recent history that has thrown so many things out of balance and replaced due process and fairness with political expediency than the current Conservative government.

The amendments to labour legislation in the bill are just another example of this. The government is using this omnibus budget bill as a back door to making major changes to the rules affecting collective bargaining in the public service. These changes, without doubt, are being made to weaken the public service unions by stacking the deck in favour of the employer and in this case, the employer is the government.

This type of behaviour only breeds mistrust and disrespect. It is not how we as individuals would expect to be treated and it simply lessens the institution of government when it continues out of control as we have seen under the current government. In order for our employees to prosper, whether it is in private industry or in government or workers in society or the economy at large, we need to have good labour relations. That is fundamental. We need labour relations that respect the interests of the workers and the employer in a fair and balanced manner, respecting due process and developed through real consultation.

Everything the government has done concerning labour relations since getting its majority has not been about striking balance. Instead, it has been about weakening the labour movement as much as possible in both the public and private sectors, from record use and methods used to impose back-to-work legislation to using—and one could say abusing—the private member legislation process as a backdoor way to introduce anti-labour legislation.

Bill C-377 was an obvious example. As we went through the testimony and the witnesses on that particular bill, we saw experts raise concerns about privacy and about the costs incurred, and not just by unions. The government tried to say that Bill C-377 was about union transparency by posting their actuals online. That would be a cost to not just the unions but also to administer it. This is the party of small government. The burden this would have placed on the CRA to administer such a mammoth undertaking would be significant to the treasury.

The government said it was all about openness and transparency. We threw a poison pill in there. We brought an amendment requesting it take the same rules it is asking of organized labour and ensure that our professional organizations play by them as well. Therefore, lawyers, doctors and chambers of commerce would have to post in the same manner as it is asking organized labour to. The Conservatives voted against that. It was not about openness and transparency. It was a poison pill. We did not think those organizations should have to post either. However, we knew that the Conservative government would vote against it because this was an attack on organized labour in this country.

Bill C-525 is now the second example. I expect we will see many more examples soon to come.

Never mind due process. Never mind fairness and balance. These terms mean nothing to the government. Political expediency at all costs is the motto across the aisle. Its fight with labour is based on an ideology that Canadians do not fundamentally believe in, an ideology that believes that if Canada is to prosper, the rights and benefits of workers must be sacrificed.

As a Liberal, I can say that I do not always agree with the labour issues. In past governments we fought with unions and we brought forward back-to-work legislation. However, we have always tried to respect due process. We know that the number one enemy for the Conservative government is labour. There is nothing in this bill that changes my mind. Giving federal employers the power to unilaterally declare parts of the public service an essential service, taking away its right to strike, and removing the option of unions to seek arbitration and settle a dispute to avoid disruption, stacks the deck unequally in the government's favour.

Balance in governing is an ideal every government should strive for, fostering trust and mutual respect as a goal. Labour relations are no different.

We have heard from FETCO, the organization that represents federally regulated industries. We heard from the CLC, which represents the people in those industries. They are both saying that the way to get this right is through consultation and consensus. They want the government to keep its nose out of their business. Instead, it continues to get engaged through private member legislation and aspects of these omnibus bills that continue to tip the scales. It is not just the unions or those workers who are saying this is unfair. The companies themselves see this as being unfair.

That is one of the problems we have with this omnibus approach to presenting legislation. If the government were confident about it, why would it not bring that forward to the House? It has a majority anyway. All we have to do is count. It will pass it anyway. Let us have the debate so it can tell us why it is doing that.

Second Reading
Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 23rd, 2013 / 5:30 p.m.
See context

Green

Elizabeth May Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, we again find ourselves with another omnibus budget bill, the second one which the current administration of the government claims to be related to the budget of 2012. Yet there are many provisions, one in particular, that could not possibly be related to the budget. That is the change to the Supreme Court Act because the difficulty encountered with the appointment of Mr. Justice Nadon only occurred after the Conservatives put forward the budget, so that makes a mockery of the idea that this is a budgetary matter.

However, certainly there are the changes to the Canada Labour Code, as my friend referenced, the systematic attempt to attack fundamental collective bargaining rights and labour rights. I am troubled by what the impact would be on the individual worker, and every worker has the right to refuse dangerous work. The definition of “danger” has been quite watered down and would no longer, for instance, protect the worker from exposure to a threat that could create a chronic health hazard or a threat to reproductive health.

Does my friend have any comments on that?

Second Reading
Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 23rd, 2013 / 5:30 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, we should not be surprised, but nonetheless every now and then the Conservatives throw one at us and we wonder what they are thinking, as is certainly the one with the Supreme Court reference in it.

In our country, our system is based on three pillars: judicial, administrative and legislative. For the Conservatives to take the highest court in the land and to tweak something that impacts on that court through a budget bill is a first, I am sure. I am sure many are amazed at that particular one.

I do not know the answer to that direct question, though. If the Conservatives pick these fights through these omnibus bills to divert Canadians' attention away from some of the scandals that are going on, such as members of their caucus being charged by Elections Canada or what is going on in the Senate, we opposition members, including I am sure my colleagues in the NDP, would say to break those bills out from the omnibus bill and let us have a discussion. If the planets line up, maybe they could even take some kind of an amendment to improve the legislation. That would be a rare day. I would go out and buy Insta Piks that day because the planets would be aligned.

Second Reading
Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 23rd, 2013 / 5:30 p.m.
See context

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Cape Breton—Canso for his speech. I travelled to his beautiful region last summer.

Once more, we see the government using an omnibus bill to amend legislation related to employment and labour relations. These pieces of legislation have nothing whatsoever to do with budget implementation.

Last time, the government attacked construction workers by eliminating the Fair Wages and Hours of Labour Act, which guaranteed some trades a minimum wage on federal work sites.

The government is doing the same thing again by meddling in how essential workers are defined, something that was previously negotiated between employers and unions.

Now, the Conservatives are going to impose a definition like petty dictators, limiting the legal right to strike for many workers in public service jobs. On top of that, they are slashing arbitration, which will drive other workers to strike.

I would like to know whether my colleague feels the government wants to force workers to go on strike so that it can then force them back to work with other special laws.

Second Reading
Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 23rd, 2013 / 5:30 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, I sat beside my colleague in the hearings on Bill C-377. I know he is very passionate and very capable on labour issues. We heard witness after witness give testimony. We saw none of that reflected in the final report on that bill. It is when ideology really trumps the needs of Canadians and Canadian workers that we all lose.

What is fearful, through the debate here today, is that the number of Canadians who are working for minimum wage has doubled under the current government. The Conservatives are intent on driving wages down in our country, hollowing out the middle class, and it is unions that have really contributed to developing a middle class. It is egregious and it is shameful.

Second Reading
Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2
Government Orders

October 23rd, 2013 / 5:35 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Mark Adler York Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, as we all know, it is not the quantity of time but rather the quality, as the opposition has so aptly demonstrated to us.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for this opportunity to add my comments to the debate on Bill C-4. As my colleague has already so eloquently stated, we are proud of our government's achievements since the storm clouds first gathered over the global economy in 2008. Today, I will focus on the ways economic action plan 2013 helps strengthen Canada's economy in these uncertain times. Be assured, our government remains committed to what matters most to Canadians. That is jobs, job creation and economic growth.

First, our government firmly believes in helping small businesses grow. That is why we have lowered taxes and tariffs, cut red tape and improved conditions for small business. These steps have established a solid foundation that has allowed Canadian businesses to create jobs and drive economic growth. Indeed, by implementing Canada's economic action plan Canada has experienced one of the best economic performances among the G7 countries, both during the global recession and throughout the recovery.

Contrary to what the opposition leaders may believe, Canada is on strong economic footing. Since the depth of the recession over one million net new jobs have been created, most in high-wage industries. There are now 605,000 more jobs than at the pre-recession peak. This is the strongest job growth in G7 countries over the course of the recovery. Almost 90% of all jobs created since July of 2009 have been full-time positions with close to 85% of those being in the private sector. Also, growth levels are above pre-recession levels.

That is the best performance in the G7. Both the IMF and the OECD expect Canada to be among the strongest growing economies in the G7 over this year and next. The World Economic Forum has rated Canada's banking system as the world's soundest for the fifth year in a row. Three credit rating agencies, Moody's, Fitch, and Standard and Poor's, have all reaffirmed their top credit rating for Canada and expect it will maintain its triple-A rating in the year ahead. Canada's fiscal fundamentals are solid and they are sustainable.

However, to truly understand the strength behind this performance, one has to consider the hard work that took place long before, through the actions our government took to pay down debt, lower taxes, reduce red tape and promote free trade and innovation.