House of Commons Hansard #100 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

Ken Boshcoff Thunder Bay—Rainy River, ON

Madam Speaker, today I will be addressing a part of the budget that has not received very much attention, which is the impact it will have on Canadians with disabilities.

We know that hon. members opposite already support significant parts of this budget, such as the Atlantic accords, the increased support for the military and now the veterans charter. Many also actually support the whistleblower legislation under Bill C-11 which is now being drafted to protect federal employees. Therefore, it should be very easy for them to support the budget solely on the basis of what it will do for Canadians with disabilities.

I am also personally pleased that members of the Conservative Party see the benefits to Canadians on many other factors. I sincerely welcome their professed public support for the government's budget for Kyoto and the environment, for cities and communities, for the gas tax for municipalities and for first nations, for our child care agreements with the provinces and territories, for post-secondary funding, and for the GST rebate which has been promised to be honoured and now totals $600 million annually to communities of all sizes. I welcome their support for pensioners getting increased benefits, for our plans for affordable housing and making real progress on homelessness, and for improvements to the Income Tax Act which will take 860,000 Canadians off the tax rolls. Those who are least able to afford paying income tax will no longer have to do that. This includes 240,000 seniors on fixed incomes.

I know that they will support our proposals for even more aid for our farmers and agricultural sectors. We thank them for supporting the increase in funding for federal development agencies. For the people of Thunder Bay--Rainy River, it would mean significant benefits especially in the areas of broadband services, telemedicine and distance education.

If there ever were a budget that would tackle poverty head on, this is it. What I will speak to is the potential tragedy that would happen if this budget did not pass and how detrimentally it would affect persons with disabilities.

The Conservatives and the separatists will hurt hundreds of thousands of Canadians with disabilities if they stop these improvements, so I ask them now to help pass this budget. Since they agree with most of it already and have publicly stated their intent to honour many parts of it, it should be very easy, once I have finished speaking, for them to agree that this budget is one of the best ever.

In December 2004 a task force recommended improvements to the tax treatment of Canadians with disabilities and their families. The task force was composed of representatives from the disabled communities across the country. Its 25 recommendations resulted in a series of changes that will result in a $107 million investment in this budget year, should the budget pass. This would grow to $122 million by 2009, again should the budget pass.

In essence, the recommendations will broaden and clarify the eligibility criteria of the disability tax credit. It will expand the list of disability supports allowable under the disability supports deduction. It will increase the maximum credit under the refundable medical expense supplement from $571 to $750 per year. It will increase the child disability benefit, moving claims from $1,681 to $2,000 per year. It will double the amount that caregivers may claim for medical expenses under the disability tax credit from $5,000 to $10,000. It will make a $6 million investment with $1 million ongoing funding to help the CNIB enhance its library services across the country.

This is one report. Often in government we hear of reports gathering dust or being put on the shelf. Regarding the recommendations of the technical advisory committee, we know for certain that the report did not have time to gather dust or even make it to the shelf. It is action-oriented and it has been implemented as recommended, suggested and spoken to by the Minister of Finance. Whether it happens depends on the members opposite. I realize there are no representatives from the Conservative Party listening to me now, but I hope they will read this in Hansard .

Let us just talk about it.

Seventy million dollars is already in place as part of ongoing measures for the disabled. Therefore, the budget plan contains $37 million in new measures for persons with disabilities, $37 million more this year along to help address those needs and to take people off support and to continue to allow them a dignified normalization of life to which they are entitled.

I will go over a few of those things. All through the budget debate many other issues seem to have taken more spotlight. Once members have a chance to realize how significant these are to people with disabilities, then I am sure that we will gain even more support for the budget.

Let us talk about recommendation 3.2. It states:

To further improve the disability supports deduction, the committee recommends that:

The cost of such items--

To some of us they may seem like small things and things that many people take for granted, but they had not been considered before. This is where the committee, again, composed of representatives throughout the disabled communities of Canada made their suggestion. It goes on to state:

--as job coaches and readers, Braille note taker, page turners, print readers, voice-operated software, memory books, assistive devices used to access computer technology and similar disability-related expenses be added to the list of expenses recognized by the deduction.

That estimate of cost was $5 million a year. It was accepted. It can be implemented. It will be a promised kept if the budget passes.

The next one recommended that the maximum credit under the refundable medical expense supplement be increased from $562 to $1,000 and continue to be indexed to the cost of living. The cost of this is $20 million a year. It was accepted by the Minister of Finance and I thank him for his very receptive response to the recommendations of the committee. We also thank his department and staff for implementing this. It is a promise that will be kept if the budget can be passed.

When we talk about limiting the expenses claimable under the medical expense tax credit by care givers from $5,000 to $10,000 for those with dependant relatives eligible for this credit, at an the estimated cost $5 million a year. It was accepted and it will be implemented. It is a promise that will be kept if the budget passes with the support of the House.

Recommendation 4.3 suggested that the federal government increase the amount of the child disability benefit by $600 to raise the total maximum benefit from $1,653 to $2,253 and that this amount continue to be indexed to the cost of living. This indexing becomes very important in this section, particularly so disabled people do not have to worry about constantly coming back to us. This will cost $15 million annually, again accepted by the committee, accepted by the minister, willing to be implemented, a promised kept if we can get support for the budget to see it turn into reality.

As chair of the committee, I ask all members of the House to not destroy the benefits addressed in this part of the budget. We are well on the way to formulating our first national disabilities act.

Now that members have been asked within the provisions of civility, order, decorum and respect to support the budget, they have to understand that if it is not supported how many pensioners, seniors, children and others with disabilities will be detrimentally affected. If for no other reason members do not want to support the budget, this section alone would make it worth their while for the good will and benefit to Canadians with disabilities.

I know in my riding when I was mayor and when I first decided and was encouraged to run, community groups that represented the disabled organizations took a lot of time to help me to push the provincial government into passing its first disabilities act. Those people now are still being represented. I have seen, as the chair of our subcommittee on disabilities, that there is widespread support.

We are so close to having this come to fruition. Many recommendations of our task force representing the entire nation have been accepted so willingly, so promptly and so effectively. It troubles me greatly to think that Thursday night people would vote against the budget and cause so much damage to people with disabilities. Therefore, I ask members now--

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Hon. Jean Augustine)

On questions and comments, the hon. member for Regina--Qu'Appelle.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Andrew Scheer Regina—Qu'Appelle, SK

Madam Speaker, it is always a bit confusing when we hear the latest spin coming from Liberals regarding the budget. On the one hand, we hear all these desperate pleas that the budget has to pass and that all these groups are waiting for the funds. They paint the picture that the lights will shut off, the buses will stop running, the hospitals will shut down if the budget is held up. Yet, we know that last year's budget is only now finishing up its journey through the Senate, which is a bit of a contradiction.

We also know that many of the provisions in the budget are all back-ended. They will not take effect until 2008-09. Therefore, this much touted aid to the various groups the hon. member has mentioned will not even be seen this year. They will have to wait three, four years to see it.

Then we have the finance minister, if he is still the finance minister after the deal with the NDP, telling us that it is not $22 billion worth of promises because, again, it is all back-ended or it is repackaged spending.

When will Canadians see this money if the budget is successful in passing? As far as I have read and have heard from the finance minister, most of this is back-ended to 2007-08. If we defeat the budget, what would the difference be because most of the government's spending initiatives would not take place for three or four years anyway?

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Ken Boshcoff Thunder Bay—Rainy River, ON

Madam Speaker, on at least two fronts, the first being the disability section, that money would come into effect immediately. On very many of those sections people have been waiting for that.

On the other hand, we know that Canadians have implored, in a non-partisan way, all parties to ensure that the budget is passed. If they live in a community, a municipality, a first nation of any size, they will have already heard from their elected representatives, municipally, to get this budget passed as soon as possible so the flow of funds can begin. The infrastructure funds, the gas tax, the GST rebate, which is already underway, are all part of this and are considerable evidence of the willingness to get this money into the system.

The economy right now is begging for the budget to be passed to end the uncertainty, so the infusion of support for infrastructure to communities and the benefits for people, such as seniors, children, the disabled, the very poorest. can be received as soon as possible.

Now that I have clarified that, I hope the member will vote for the budget on Thursday.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse Windsor West, ON

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to ask a question of my colleague about the budget and the upcoming initiatives that we hope will benefit Canadians sooner rather than later.

One thing we negotiated with Bill C-48 is the elimination of large corporate tax cuts for the immediate budget. Does the member believe that instead of having those large corporate tax cuts in the future, we should invest in infrastructure, for example, to rebuild the trade routes and the ability for our economy to move via rail, sea or roads and highways as a priority as opposed to a general tax cut that has seen our infrastructure deteriorate over the years?

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

2 p.m.

Liberal

Ken Boshcoff Thunder Bay—Rainy River, ON

Madam Speaker, in terms of philosophy, I agree there are considerable benefits to what the member has suggested.

Clearly, the implementation can be done in tandem to address the needs for tax cuts. When we try to total the billions in tax cuts that have occurred since 1993, when we first started to wrestle our way out under those horrendous inherited annual deficits, we have made considerable progress.

Probably this is one fact that all Canadians would like to know is in terms of tax cuts versus our investment in infrastructure. We were paying 38¢ or 39¢ on every dollar in debt interest charges. We are paying 18¢ now. That additional 20¢ on the dollar allows us to invest in programs to rebuild our country and to invest in the future.

I truly hope that clarifies it for the member.

Marlene Stewart Streit
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

John Maloney Welland, ON

Madam Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I rise in the House today to recognize a very famous athlete from the Niagara region, golfer Marlene Stewart Streit.

In November of last year Marlene Stewart Streit became the first Canadian to be inducted into the world golf hall of fame. Her accomplishments during her career include winning the Canadian, Australian, American and British amateur golf championships as well as 11 Canadian ladies open championships.

In 1967 she was awarded the Order of Canada, the country's highest honour for lifetime achievement. In 1999 she was ranked first among Canadian female golfers of the 20th century.

I congratulate Marlene Stewart Streit for her accomplishments in Canada and throughout the globe, and recognize her for her outstanding athletic ability. She continues to be a role model for female golfers everywhere. Her achievements and contributions to athletics have left a lasting impression as a Canadian sport legend.

Member for Westlock--St. Paul
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Dave Chatters Westlock—St. Paul, AB

Madam Speaker, for a number of reasons, this is likely my last opportunity to speak to the House. It has been an honour to serve in this House with you, Madam Speaker, and with my hon. colleagues. For the past 12 years I have been privileged to represent two ridings, Athabasca and Westlock--St. Paul.

I would like to thank my wife, Evelyn, for her never ending support and trust, my two sons, Matt and Gary, their wives, Andrea and Patty, and our six grandchildren.

I would like to thank my staff and the boards of directors from the two ridings that contributed to my success over the years. They are the lifeblood to any successful member of Parliament.

There are far too many people to mention individually. However, a few stand out due to the dedication that they have shown to me over the years. They are Bob Forester, Ron and Marilyn Bell, Bill Whitney, Dave and Vera Barnes, Margaret Modin, Sheila Trueblood, Guy Bouchard, Hank and Ruthield Offereins, Clarence Truckey, Paul Quantz, Wayne Cockerill, and the list goes on and on.

Police Week
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Roy Cullen Etobicoke North, ON

Madam Speaker, I rise today to mark Police Week 2005, which takes place this year from May 15 to 21.

Police Week is a time to recognize the significant contributions of Canada's law enforcement officers who work to ensure the safety and security of our communities.

Throughout the week, community groups and police services across the country will host special activities and displays that promote police-community partnerships.

Today and for the rest of the week, I invite all Canadians to join me in expressing a heartfelt thank you to the men and women in our police forces, who are helping to create a better and safer Canada for us all.

Chantal Petitclerc
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Marc Lemay Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Madam Speaker, athlete Chantal Petitclerc never ceases to amaze us and continues to earn the highest accolades in the world of sports.

After winning five gold medals and setting three world records at the Paralympic Games in Athens, after being chosen female athlete of the year in Quebec and in Canada, she has just won the prestigious Laureus world sports award for the top sportsperson with a disability from the Laureus foundation in Estoril, Portugal.

What makes the Laureus so prestigious is that the recipient is chosen by her peers. The selection committee is made up entirely of international level athletes.

This exceptional athlete is a true role model for our young people and society in general.

The Bloc Québécois commends the perseverance, tenacity and competitiveness of Chantal Petitclerc and applauds her success. Congratulations, Chantal.

Speech and Hearing Awareness
Statements By Members

May 17th, 2005 / 2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Paddy Torsney Burlington, ON

Madam Speaker, many of us take our hearing and ability to speak for granted. Whether we are talking to others directly, on the phone or in this chamber, our ability to speak and hear is vital to our everyday activities.

For one in ten Canadians, speech, language and hearing problems are a daily challenge in their work, school and recreational activities. For the thousands of Canadians of all ages who have communication disorders, we will never know the isolation and frustration they face.

May is Speech and Hearing Awareness Month. The Canadian Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists and their 4,800 members across the country are working together throughout this month to raise public awareness concerning their professions and the many issues surrounding communication disorders.

I encourage all members of the House and all Canadians to join me in supporting the association and encouraging others to understand what these issues relate to.

I wish to thank CASLPA members. Their professional contributions to the health of our communities and our country enriches everybody. They allow Canadians to learn, succeed and enjoy their lives. We celebrate their many achievements.

Agriculture
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

James Bezan Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Madam Speaker, the special interest group R-CALF filed another court challenge on May 9 against Canadian farmers and ranchers. R-CALF is trying to shut down Canadian imports of boxed beef. We already know that Judge Cebull was sympathetic to its cause when he shut down the border 24 months ago and banned the idea of further opening up the border in March of this year.

The Liberal government and the agriculture minister have dithered and delayed in the past on this issue which has devastated farm families across this country. The Liberal ministers of trade and agriculture have not used any of the tools under WTO or NAFTA to reopen the border or tried to overturn the Montana court decision, nor do they have any plans in the likely event Cebull completely shuts down the border again.

I am proud to be part of the Conservative caucus which continues to act on behalf of Canadian farmers and ranchers, and stepping up for them while the Liberals have stepped back. As a farmer, I am glad that the Conservative Party is looking out for me, my family and my friends in agriculture since the Liberals have not.

Health
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Michael John Savage Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Madam Speaker, a new private medical clinic is scheduled to open in the metro Halifax-Dartmouth region. This proposed clinic apparently will target medical procedures that do not fall under the provisions of the Canada Health Act, such as certain cosmetic procedures, but if services provided are contingent on human resources that work within our publicly funded system, that is a concern. Our public system must be the priority.

Canadians and the residents of Dartmouth—Cole Harbour do not want to stifle innovative approaches to health care delivery, but are firm in their resolve that our health care system must be publicly funded and publicly delivered. I believe in the Canada Health Act and Canadians believe in the Canada Health Act because it goes to the core of who we are: a nation that believes that our strength comes from our commitment to provide care to all.

Access to health care must be based on need and not one's ability to pay. There can be no compromise on this issue.

Alan B. Gold
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Ménard Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Madam Speaker, Alan B. Gold, a former judge, passed away on Sunday. He was a great humanist who loved both social harmony and classical music.

He was a great judge and an effective judicial administrator. Beyond applying the law, he was, for me, the incarnation of one of the ideals of the judicial system: peaceful conflict resolution.

Justice Gold gave expression to this intrinsic value through his great talent as a negotiator. The strikes by longshoremen at the Port of Montreal, Canada Post workers, Vidéotron employees and the Oka crisis were all mediated by him and are conclusive evidence of the importance he ascribed to social harmony.

He was considered a wise, empathetic, funny and simple man who had an extraordinary sense of civic duty and was a example for us all. Our society has suffered a great loss.

Conservative Party of Canada
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Susan Kadis Thornhill, ON

Madam Speaker, when the leader of a federal political party joins forces with the separatist Bloc, Canada suffers. During the last election campaign the Leader of the Opposition stated, “I've been very clear there will not be any kind of coalition or alliance with the Bloc”. It has become clear that the Conservative-Bloc alliance is alive and well, despite the Leader of the Opposition's claims to the contrary.

Over the last few weeks we have seen the Conservative-Bloc alliance working opportunistically together to force an election Canadians do not want. We have seen the Conservative-Bloc alliance walk out of Parliament hand in hand trying to tear down this government and we see them uniting again to defeat a budget that Canadians support.

What is good for the separatists is not good for Canada. If the Leader of the Opposition could remember that rule of thumb, Canada would be much better off.