House of Commons Hansard #94 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was work.

Topics

Budget Implementation Act, 2006, No. 2
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

Conservative

John Baird Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

moved that Bill C-28, A second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on May 2, 2006, be read the third time and passed.

Budget Implementation Act, 2006, No. 2
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

Calgary—Nose Hill
Alberta

Conservative

Diane Ablonczy Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate this opportunity to speak at third reading of Bill C-28. Once passed, this bill will implement certain tax measures that were not part of last spring's budget implementation bill. That bill received royal assent on June 22, 2006.

Budget 2006 was the first budget for Canada's new government. It was well received by Canadians. However, the House should know that the best is yet to come.

By now, members of the House are well aware of what is contained in the bill before us. I would therefore like to focus my remarks on some of the particular proposals in this bill that will open up opportunities for Canadians, opportunities that will lead to a stronger, more prosperous Canada.

I am sure that any of the members of this House who are parents would want their children to have opportunities that perhaps they did not have. Canada's new government believes in creating those new opportunities for Canadians wherever they live in this great country. That is why budget 2006 took action to help families and individuals, as well as businesses, Canada's job creators, by lowering taxes, rewarding effort and making Canada a better place in which to live and do business.

One of our first actions was to return money to Canadians by reducing the GST. We also provided other significant personal and corporate tax relief and investments in the budget that will create jobs and boost Canada's economy by improving incentives to work, save and invest.

Most recently, we took decisive action by announcing a tax fairness plan that provides $1 billion per year in tax relief for seniors and pensioners. The tax fairness plan significantly enhances the incentives for Canadians to save and invest for family retirement security.

I want to talk today about the proposals in this bill that will set Canada on a firm track for tomorrow by providing opportunity today. I would like to start with the fitness tax credit, because our health and especially the health of our children is a key part of a prosperous future for Canada. After all, without our health, how can we enjoy all the great opportunities that this country has to offer?

There is little doubt that regular exercise improves the quality of life. Encouraging families to help their children get into the habit of being physically active is an important goal and one that is becoming increasingly important. Our new children's fitness tax credit will help families provide that encouragement to their children. In doing so, it will help our children to adopt a healthier lifestyle.

Specifically, Bill C-28 proposes that the credit cover eligible fees up to $500 for enrollment in an eligible program of physical activity effective January 1, 2007. That date is coming up pretty quickly.

The need for this tax credit is underscored by the challenges presented by childhood obesity. In the past two decades, obesity has emerged as one of the biggest health problems facing Canada. The purpose of this credit is to facilitate access by children and youth to eligible programs of physical activity and recreation. This will be an important catalyst to help children maintain regular exercise, balanced growth and, most important, a healthy lifestyle that they can take with them into adulthood.

To help the government decide which programs of physical activity should qualify for the children's fitness tax credit, the Minister of Finance appointed an expert panel, chaired by Dr. Kellie Leitch. The panel recently presented its report. I would like to thank Dr. Leitch and the panel members for their thoughtful insight into this issue.

The government is renewing the panel's recommendations to decide which programs of physical activity should qualify for the new credit. Healthy bodies promote healthy minds, and healthy minds go hand in hand with better learning.

This new government can help. We recognize the importance of education beyond high school in getting a good job with a secure future. Canada's new government wants to do all it can to help Canadians achieve that goal. To do that, Bill C-28 contains proposals from budget 2006 that will help with the costs of post-secondary education. Moreover, once graduates are in the workplace, there are measures from the budget that will help Canadians with some of their work related expenses. Let me briefly outline these important proposals. Let me start with education measures.

Any of us who have helped put our children through university or college know that textbooks are expensive. To help parents and students with these costs, Bill C-28 proposes a new non-refundable tax credit to provide better tax recognition for the cost of textbooks. This measure would be effective for 2006 and subsequent taxation years.

Eligibility rules for this new tax credit will be the same as those for the education tax credit and will provide benefits to almost two million post-secondary students. We know that not all students attend school full time. In recognition of that, the textbook tax credit applies to both full time and part time students. For full time students, the amount will be $65 for each month of full time post-secondary study. For part time students, the amount will be $20 for each month of part time post-secondary study.

What does this mean to the bottom line? To give an example, a full time student enrolled in college or university for eight months would qualify for a textbook tax credit of $520 for the year. This represents a reduction in that student's taxes of about $80. This all adds up for a student. Helping students with the cost of textbooks is one important step that Canada's new government has taken to help post-secondary students with their education related expenses, but we have done even more.

Many hard-working students earn scholarships. To help them meet their tuition expenses, Canada's new government wants to reward them for that dedicated hard work. As members of the House may know, under current legislation only the first $3,000 in scholarship, fellowship or bursary income received by a post-secondary student is not taxed. In other words, any money received in excess of $3,000 is included as income for tax purposes.

The government believes that students should be rewarded, not penalized, for their academic excellence. That is why in budget 2006 we proposed to fully exempt all scholarship, fellowship and bursary income from tax. Once the bill before us is passed by Parliament, this measure will provide tax relief to more than 100,000 deserving post-secondary students.

This government is well aware that in today's knowledge based economy, a more educated and skilled labour force is key to Canada's competitiveness in the world. Government investments in education and training are therefore critical to productivity and economic growth.

As I have just outlined, Bill C-28 proposes measures to help students with their post-secondary education, but we also recognize that there is a need to help Canadians once they are in the workforce. That is why the government, in this bill, has introduced specific measures to help in that regard.

First, the Canada employment credit complements the personal income tax reductions introduced in budget 2006 by recognizing the extra costs to Canadians sometimes associated with joining the workforce. For example, a uniform might be required to work in a particular store or business, or special safety equipment could be needed to work on a construction site. For some Canadians, and particularly low income workers, these expenses can sometimes make the difference between being able to accept a job or not.

In the past, Canadians have raised concerns that if they have their own business or are self-employed, they can get tax deductions for certain expenses, and if they are employed, they do not. We do not think that is fair.

Bill C-28 changes that by proposing the Canada employment tax credit to help Canadians offset the costs of working. A credit of $500 is now available on employment income and that credit will double to $1,000 starting January 1, 2007. Canadians can put this money toward work expenses, like uniforms and safety equipment, and that helps working Canadians.

Of course, finding the right job is not always easy. Some Canadians find themselves stuck in low paying jobs and for one reason or another, often financial, they are not encouraged to consider the trades as a possible career source. However, as we often hear, employers are crying out for people, especially skilled workers, for example, in the construction industry.

Budget 2006 helps by proposing a new apprenticeship job creation tax credit. This credit will encourage employers to hire new apprentices to learn a skilled trade. With the measures contained in Bill C-28, effective May 2, 2006, about six months ago which was budget day, eligible employers will receive a tax credit equal to 10% of the wages paid to qualifying apprentices in the first two years of their contract, to a maximum credit of $2,000 per apprentice per year.

I explained earlier how the Canada employment credit will provide financial relief in recognition of work related expenses incurred by employees. The new government also recognizes that many people employed in the trades must have their own tools as a condition of employment. Budget 2006 provides assistance for these workers with a tax deduction of up to $500 for the cost of tools in excess of $1,000. The Canada employment credit and tools deduction together will provide tax relief to some 700,000 employed tradespeople.

Canada's new government wants to make it easier for new Canadians to pursue their dreams. Certainly reducing taxes is part of our plan. We have done that and we are not finished yet. However, as I have outlined today, helping Canadians realize their dreams is about more than just cutting taxes. It is also about helping families encourage their children to become physically active and have healthier lifestyles. It is about helping students with their education. It is about helping Canadians get and keep good jobs.

With the measures in the bill we are debating today, the new government will help Canadians accomplish those goals. I therefore encourage all members of the House to work together to pass this bill so we can get on with creating even more opportunity and an even stronger more prosperous Canada for today's generation and for those who will follow us.

Budget Implementation Act, 2006, No. 2
Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

Liberal

Keith Martin Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, I listened very intently to my colleague's discourse on the bill. I have two questions for her.

The first question relates to tax cuts. I want to know why her government has implemented a tax strategy that will actually penalize the poor on two counts: one, it has decreased the basic personal exemption; and two, it implemented a system where it has actually increased the tax on the poorest.

My second question is on the school book tax credit which the hon. member mentioned. Is it not true that the $500 tax credit that her government is touting so proudly is actually only $77.50 in the hands of a student?

Budget Implementation Act, 2006, No. 2
Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

Conservative

Diane Ablonczy Calgary—Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, on the contrary, the budget helps the poorest Canadians. In fact, it helps them to the extent that 650,000 of the poorest Canadians in our country are taken right off the tax rolls and pay no tax because of the measures in our budget.

With respect to the GST, this tax is paid by all Canadians and it falls most heavily on the poorest Canadians who pay no other tax. Cutting the GST helps the lowest income Canadians because it reduces their only tax burden. This is why, for example, the NDP campaigned in 1997 to cut the GST. It knew that would help the most vulnerable Canadians. The member's own government said in 1993 that it would scrap the GST. Why? I imagine, but I do not know because it never did it, it thought it would help Canadians.

Therefore, I find it odd that the Liberal Party, which wants to help vulnerable Canadians, would criticize the only measure that would help the lowest income Canadians.

With respect to the textbook tax credit, all these measures add up. They again help the lowest income Canadians because they give the biggest credit to them. All these measures help students. They help people who want to get an education, to get ahead, to get the skills to enter our workforce.

I urge the member, instead of criticizing these measures to help students and low income Canadians, to get behind them.

Budget Implementation Act, 2006, No. 2
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

Bloc

Thierry St-Cyr Jeanne-Le Ber, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance referred to many new tax credits provided in this bill. However, this legislation does not change the tax credit for child care, and this is where Quebeckers are adversely affected.

Since Quebeckers decided to collectively establish a public child care program funded with their own taxes, Quebec parents are claiming much less of that tax credit because, instead of shelling out $25, $30 or $40 per day, they now only pay $7. They do pay the difference, but they do so through their taxes. This means that the federal treasury is making savings of $250 million annually.

Does the parliamentary secretary think it would be just and fair to respect the choice made collectively by Quebeckers to set up their own public child care program, and to give back the money saved by the federal treasury to the Quebec government, so that it can invest it in its child care initiative? Otherwise, if Quebeckers really want to be able to make their own collective choices with their taxes, is taking charge of their destiny and becoming a sovereign state the only solution for them?

Budget Implementation Act, 2006, No. 2
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

Conservative

Diane Ablonczy Calgary—Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, the member will know that matters of child care are under provincial jurisdiction. I think Quebeckers are pleased with the arrangements in their province. I understand the $7 a day child care is supported in Quebec, even though other taxes must go into this system.

With respect to the federal government's contribution, the member will also know that matters of transfers between the federal government and the provinces are under active consideration. We are the first government to acknowledge that there has been an imbalance in the past in these transfers.

There have been several blue ribbon studies now on this issue. The federal and provincial finance ministers will be meeting next week on the issue. There will be accommodations reached in the next few months. I know the member will be anxiously watching to see what those are. We will have something to say once those are announced.

Budget Implementation Act, 2006, No. 2
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

There will be five minutes remaining in the time for questions and comments when the debate on this matter is resumed.

We will now move to statements by members and we will begin with the hon. member for Cariboo—Prince George.

Cariboo—Prince George
Statements By Members

10:55 a.m.

Conservative

Dick Harris Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have always considered myself to be one of the luckiest MPs in Canada because of my tremendous staff who support me in every way, every day. They constantly seem to be working to make me look good, and they do a great job.

Every once in a while we have to take the time to thank our staffs, so I want to do that today.

I want to thank: in my Ottawa office, Theresa Bell who is such a wonderful employee and does a great job; in my Prince George office, Jeanne Clough, Gloria Cyr and Soraya Litke who handle a very busy office with such great ability that really makes me look good; and in my Williams Lake office, Walt Cobb who has just a wealth of expertise and history with the city and district of Williams Lake.

I very much thank all of them for doing such a great job for me. It is an honour to be associated with such great people.

Somalia
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Alan Tonks York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, recently the Hiran region of Somalia was devastated by torrential rain and subsequent flooding. The Shabelle River is overspilling its banks and over 70,000 people have been displaced. The death toll, which today stands at nearly 200, will continue to rise.

The Somali government has warned of an imminent humanitarian disaster if aid agencies do not rapidly deliver food and other essential items to the region. Many of the roads which will allow for the delivery of said aid are becoming increasingly inaccessible.

In York--South Weston and throughout the greater Toronto area thousands of Canadians of Somali origin are worried and doing all they can to help their loved ones.

I am confident that all members of the House will join with me in urging the government, through the capable offices of CIDA and the Minister of International Cooperation, to do all we can to supply Somalia with the malaria tents, water purification systems, cholera medication and food products it so desperately needs.

Somalia needs Canada's help and we must act now.

National Safe Driving Week
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, this year, National Safe Driving Week is from December 1 to 7. In the past 50 years, some 200,000 people have lost their lives on Canada's roads. This is a staggering figure and exceeds the total number of Canadians who were killed during both great world wars.

During National Safe Driving Week, it is our duty, as elected members, to remind our constituents to be careful and responsible on the roads, especially as the holidays draw near.

It is a season in which we enjoy good times and good meals, and often indulge in a drink or two. Although there are increasingly fewer victims of car accidents in which alcohol is involved, the fact remains that driving while impaired is still the cause of far too many tragedies on the road.

I am calling on everyone to be responsible and not to drink and drive, or to call a designated driver service such as Operation Red Nose in areas where that service is provided.

Literacy
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise today and congratulate Carol Windley of Nanaimo for her recent nomination to the short list for the 2006 Giller prize. Carol's collection of short stories, Home Schooling, is set on rural Vancouver Island and the Pacific northwest.

This is a quote from Carol on her home, “I find that this part of the world with the forests, the shorelines and all that complexity that's available to the imagination, lends itself wonderfully to writing fiction”, and I could not agree more.

It is unfortunate that in the same month we celebrated Carol's achievement in Nanaimo--Cowichan, we learned the Conservatives had cut literacy programs. This may end many people's opportunities to develop the skills to read and enjoy Carol's work.

From youth whose home life made school difficult, to adults whose reading skills have grown rusty, to brain injured people relearning the most basic skills, literacy programs are important to everyone.

I call on the Conservative government to reinstate the funds for literacy programs so everyone can have the opportunity to read Carol's book.

Liberal Leadership Convention
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Conservative

Chris Warkentin Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, no matter what their heritage, religion or social class, in my Canada everybody is welcome to be involved in political life.

During their leadership race, Liberal delegates were encouraged to not vote based on who was best for the job, but based on racist and bigoted stereotypes.

It is being widely reported today in the media that Bob Rae was a target of anti-Semitic attacks during the Liberal leadership race, motivated at least in part by the fact that his wife is Jewish.

Reports say that in an attempt to bolster another candidate, the strategists approached Rae's own wife telling her not to vote for Rae “because his wife is Jewish”. The report goes on to say that Mrs. Perly Rae informed the delegate that she in fact was that Jewish wife who was in question.

On the government side of the House, we believe in a Canada that accepts all and encourages all to be involved in politics. It is too bad that some members of the Liberal Party do not agree.

Tourism Industry
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Ken Boshcoff Thunder Bay—Rainy River, ON

Mr. Speaker, the recent announcement by the government of its intention to cancel the GST visitor rebate program is a serious blow to the tourism industry in the ridings of rural Canada.

The government claims that only 3% of visitors to Canada take advantage of this program, but the facts show that a majority of tourist outfitters in northwestern Ontario use the rebate system. The finance ministry does not track GST rebates that are issued by tourist camps and tour businesses, so it is impossible for it to know the true participation rate.

U.S. tourists visiting my region alone generate $396 million of economic activity each year and employ more than 12,000 people in the area. The cutting of this program represents yet another setback to an industry that is already challenged by decreased visits due to the high Canadian dollar and increasing border security.

I call on all members of Parliament to support our tourism industry by voting against the cancellation of the GST visitor rebate program.

Government Policies
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Colin Mayes Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Mr. Speaker, 10 months ago I arrived in Ottawa to provide good government to my constituents of Okanagan—Shuswap, and all Canadians. After 10 months, I have come to realize that what I believe is good government is at odds with members opposite.

A former statesman said, “a wise and frugal government which shall restrain citizens from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to pursue individual enterprise and shall not take from the mouth of labour the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government”. The three principles of this statement are law and order, freedom of choice and tax fairness.

Our new government has introduced over a dozen new bills to strengthen the laws and invested in policing to protect our citizens. Our new government's child care allowance gives Canadian families freedom of choice to pursue their priorities. Finally, our tax fairness initiatives are leaving more money on the table for Canadian families.

I stand on this side of the House because Conservatives believe in these principles and are delivering good government to Canadians.

Madeleine Juneau
Statements By Members

December 8th, 2006 / 11:05 a.m.

Bloc

Thierry St-Cyr Jeanne-Le Ber, QC

Mr. Speaker, today I have the honour to acknowledge the contribution of an exceptional woman from the southwestern part of Montreal, whose vitality and determination amaze me. Her quest for excellence and her visionary spirit very clearly show that we are all capable, in 2006, of achieving our goals and making our dreams come true.

I want to congratulate Sister Madeleine Juneau, who was named the 2006 businesswoman of Quebec in the category of not for profit employees or executives.

Madeleine Juneau is the director general of the Maison Saint-Gabriel. Her visionary spirit and her quest for excellence are evident in the original approach she took to developing the museum's site and programming. It was because of this experience that she was able to contribute significantly to improving Pointe-Saint-Charles, a neighbourhood she works hard for and is proud of.

The Maison Saint-Gabriel is one of the oldest existing homes on the island of Montreal and one of the best examples in Quebec of French regime architecture. It was purchased in 1668 by Marguerite Bourgeoys and was used as a home for the Filles du Roy.