Evidence of meeting #6 for Finance in the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was students.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Pierre Le François  General Director, Association nationale des éditeurs de livres
  • Claire Morris  President and Chief Executive Officer, Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada
  • Darryl Smith  President, Canadian Dental Association
  • Bob Harvey  Member, Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee, Certified General Accountants Association of Canada
  • David Bradley  Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Trucking Alliance
  • Pierre Sadik  Senior Policy Advisor, Sustainability Specialist, David Suzuki Foundation
  • Nathalie Bourque  Vice-President, Global Communications, CAE Inc., SR & ED Tax Credit Coalition
  • Peter Look  Vice-President, Tax, Nortel, SR & ED Tax Credit Coalition
  • Carole Presseault  Vice-President, Government and Regulatory Affairs, Certified General Accountants Association of Canada
  • Susan Mullin  Vice-President of Development, Association of Fundraising Professionals
  • Margaret Lefebvre  Executive Director, Canadian Association of Income Funds
  • Chris Tabor  Manager, Queen's University Bookstore, Canadian Booksellers Association
  • Michael Atkinson  President, Canadian Construction Association
  • Gerry Barr  President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Council for International Cooperation
  • Amanda Aziz  National Chairperson, Canadian Federation of Students
  • Mark Yakabuski  President and Chief Executive Officer, Insurance Bureau of Canada

4:20 p.m.

Vice-President, Global Communications, CAE Inc., SR & ED Tax Credit Coalition

Nathalie Bourque

I would think the finance department is also looking at this very closely. We are in contact with them.

You also have to remember that all the money put in R and D is also touching universities and all sorts of other programs.

Peter, you might—

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Rick Dykstra St. Catharines, ON

No, that's fine. That's great, thanks.

I just want a bit of acknowledgement there in regard to the fact that we need to move forward to make sure we do the right thing, because we're talking about billions and billions of dollars. I appreciate that.

Moving over to Ms. Morris, I do have to say, I don't recall your mentioning anything about what was in the 2007 budget that identified a number of requests. Numerous student, university, and university teachers' organizations requested in the last budget that they should be there.

I'd like to think we made a pretty darned good first step, in fact probably the biggest step in terms of investment in university and colleges that a government has ever made in one fiscal year: $800 million, beginning in 2008-09, for provinces and territories to strengthen the quality and competitiveness of education; $35 million over two years for scholarships that didn't exist before in health-related studies.

I will just move on: $510 million to the Canada Foundation for Innovation; a $120 million investment to CANARIE Inc.; $10 million over two years to the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, to help Canadian students in research to participate in leading, ground-breaking research on the international stage.

It goes on: $85 million per year for the federal granting councils; an additional $15 million per year to cover indirect costs of research.

I can continue, because I'm not even halfway through. The investment the government has made in universities and colleges certainly has to be seen as a positive step; it is finally being recognized after the gutting that universities and colleges took in 1994-95.

4:20 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada

Claire Morris

Thank you.

If you were to look at the press release we issued the night of the budget announcements, and many utterances after that, you would see that we did recognize the investments that were made and deeply appreciated them.

In coming to the committee today, we were asked to address the following: what are some of the challenges the country faces as we look ahead, particularly to sustaining a robust tax base? Our presentation today and the brief you would have received this summer are very much oriented to the future.

Again, I'm happy to send you our comments on the S and T strategy and on the 2007 budget, because we were very appreciative of the gestures that were made.

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

Rick Dykstra St. Catharines, ON

I appreciate that. I actually did have a chance to read the presentation you sent in the summer and also the press release. I just wanted to make sure to get it on the record here.

Mr. McCallum perhaps wants to play a little politics here and suggest we're not focused on universities. I didn't want him to use you as a pawn to do that. So I appreciate that.

Mr. Bradley, I appreciate the presentation you made. This is a pretty good description of the direction the industry wants to take and the difficulties you face.

One of the things I see that could potentially be helpful to us as a committee—I know it was last year—is that whenever we had organizations make presentations to us, they often would talk about, well, if you were to implement this strategy in full, this is how much it would cost; therefore it may take multi-year funding to do so.

One thing that would be appreciated, if you do have it, or if you don't have it today.... If we were to take some first steps in this direction, what types of numbers would we be talking about with respect to finance and the type of percentage impact that would have in terms of removing greenhouse gases off the road?

4:25 p.m.

Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Trucking Alliance

David Bradley

I have a chart that was handed around that in fact does that. It's a little bit complex, because we're looking at a variety of technologies, and it's how you package them together.

I will say this to start. First, if we're going to see a program, for us a prompt launch is more important than the duration of the program. We've got a very definitive date coming up with the 2010 model-year engines, and we would want to avoid a pre-buy situation in 2009. The paper I gave you suggests that it depends on what percentage the federal government was prepared to invest. For example, for a simple package that would have the smog-free truck plus two or three of the fuel efficiency measures, we're looking at a Government of Canada investment at, say, 15% of about $56 million, compared to an industry investment of $320 million. I give some other examples at 20% and 100%.

Probably the best practical example is that initially there was a similar program for auxiliary power units in the trucking industry. These are electronic units that keep the engine running, as opposed to diesel. You use those to prevent idling and those sorts of things. There the federal government invested 17% of the cost, compared to the industry's 83%, and that was enormously successful.

As for us, we know that billions of dollars aren't going to drop from the sky. We have to replace our equipment at some point anyway, and we do have a vested interest in improving our fuel efficiency; what we're talking about is accelerating that investment. I think the government can do that with a rather modest investment that will see significant returns in terms of GHG reduction.

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Rob Merrifield

Thank you.

Go ahead, Monsieur Mulcair.

4:25 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair Outremont, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

First of all, I'd like Mr. Harvey to give us more details. I agree with him: harmonization of the rules governing the profession and the free movement of services are things we don't think about often enough. The Treaty of Rome, which was the basis for what, at the time, was called the European Economic Community, provided for the free movement of services. That is one of the ways the Europe of today was built.

So, what effort was being made by the profession to be given the right to practice general or public accounting in all the provinces? Is the CGA title the same all across the country, and does it still correspond to the title “comptable général licencié” [Certified General Accountant] in Quebec?

4:25 p.m.

Member, Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee, Certified General Accountants Association of Canada

Bob Harvey

I would like to request that my assistant, Carole Presseault, who is our vice-president of government and regulatory affairs, address this particular issue.

4:25 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair Outremont, QC

Thank you.

November 27th, 2007 / 4:25 p.m.

Carole Presseault Vice-President, Government and Regulatory Affairs, Certified General Accountants Association of Canada

Thank you, Mr. Mulcair, for your question. I will start with your second question.

The title in Quebec—and Mr. Pacetti can confirm this—is still “comptable général licencié” [Certified General Accountant]. As part of the festivities surrounding the 100th anniversary of the CGA title in Quebec and Canada, the Ordre des CGA du Québec is currently in the process of changing the name, but that work is not yet completed. In English, it is: Certified General Accountant.

As regards the right to practice general accounting, there were two exceptions in Canada. Ontario and Quebec have always restricted the practice of general accounting. In Ontario, a legislative framework is about to be adopted. Two weeks ago, legislation was tabled in the National Assembly to provide full access to general accounting to individuals with the CGA or CMA designation in Quebec.

The fact remains, however, that CGAs in Quebec had certain rights with respect to practising general accounting—for example, for non-profit organizations or public sector corporations, such as municipalities. The problem has still not been resolved in terms of the interprovincial trade agreement, but it is our hope that legislation has already been tabled in the National Assembly to that end.

4:30 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair Outremont, QC

Thank you. So, you can do general accounting for the City of Montreal, but you cannot do it for a fast-food stand in an arena.

4:30 p.m.

Vice-President, Government and Regulatory Affairs, Certified General Accountants Association of Canada

Carole Presseault

For the cities of Sherbrooke, Quebec and Montreal, there is a different legislative framework. As you can see, it is very difficult for consumers to figure all of this out. We are very interested, particularly because…

4:30 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair Outremont, QC

I was responsible for this file for years in Quebec, as President of the Office des professions du Québec, and I do think it's high time we let the market decide these things.

Now, I would like to address a question to Mr. Sadik, of the David Suzuki Foundation. What you have described is an example of cost internalization, a major principle of sustainable development. Do you not think that the problem in Ottawa is the fact that, rather than having a law which applies to all the departments as regards sustainable development, every department is responsible for developing its own sustainable development plan?

Ms. Brundtland always said that a commitment has to be made at the most senior levels of government, and that a sustainable development strategy and principles are needed that will apply to the public administration as a whole. In Ottawa, however, each department is free to do what it likes. Consequently, we have trouble relating to those principles, for lack of a reflex to apply them. Is that not part of the challenge we are facing?

4:30 p.m.

Senior Policy Advisor, Sustainability Specialist, David Suzuki Foundation

Pierre Sadik

Yes, Mr. Mulcair, the absence of a common sustainable development strategy nationally is an impediment to making progress on a number of environmental fronts. Canada promised at an international forum in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, and at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002, in Johannesburg, South Africa, and on several other occasions to introduce a national sustainable development strategy. By strategy, I mean a legislative framework—ideally for sound environmental governance. From that would flow a host of environmental benefits, because the environment, as it's trite to say, knows no borders. A host of environmental benefits could flow across the country and be coordinated. That's certainly something in the way of a policy that's been long overdue and long promised in this country.

4:30 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair Outremont, QC

Do I have any time left, Mr. Chairman?