House of Commons Hansard #34 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

Budget Implementation Act, 2006
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

Order, please. I would like to remind the hon. member that when he referred to the last government, he probably meant the government of the right hon. member for LaSalle—Émard.

Questions and comments, the hon. member for Peterborough.

Budget Implementation Act, 2006
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened to the comments of the hon. member quite intently. He and I both serve on the finance committee. I find some of his remarks indicating that he was not paying attention perhaps in committee. We had some professional witnesses who specifically indicated that in this budget more than 200,000 additional low income Canadians will be completely removed from the tax rolls than in the last economic update put forward by the Liberal budget.

This budget also includes record spending in the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs. This budget also includes a cut in the GST, the only tax paid by low income Canadians who do not pay income tax. It is by its very nature a progressive tax cut. These are helpful measures.

Indeed, my riding, for instance, stands to benefit greatly from the universal child care benefit, an excess of $5.4 million annually coming into my riding. I do not find that meanspirited.

I would like to ask the hon. member if he was paying attention when finance officials specifically told us that every Canadian in every tax bracket will pay less tax in this budget and that this budget benefits low income Canadians much more than any previous budget?

Budget Implementation Act, 2006
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

John McCallum Markham—Unionville, ON

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is wrong on two counts. My authority is not myself but the economist, Dale Orr, who produced a report on the subject. As Mr. Orr stated in his report, the consequence of this budget, by reducing the basis personal amount, is indeed to add 200,000 low income Canadians to the tax rolls.

That is a fact stated by an economist. Contrary to the budget, which claims 600,000 low income Canadians are coming off the tax rolls, the reality, as confirmed by Mr. Orr, is that 200,000 Canadians of low income are indeed being added to the tax rolls. So perhaps my colleague misheard the answer, but that was indeed what was stated by Mr. Orr in committee.

Budget Implementation Act, 2006
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is always a great pleasure to listen to my colleague talk about the budget, particularly since, as a Liberal by trade, he has only recently been thrown out of the other side of this House. He is now in opposition.

I recall that during the 13 years of Liberal rule, and particularly during the last 11 years, we in the Bloc Québécois were continuously putting the question of the common good and improving people’s lives back on the agenda. During that time, the Liberals were cutting transfers to the provinces, and not the least important transfers: health transfers, where there was a drastic cut starting in 1995; cuts in post-secondary education transfers, to such an extent that the education system everywhere in Canada has been undermined and we no longer know what to do to improve the level of infrastructure and the quality of education.

There were also cuts to social assistance for the most disadvantaged people and the tightening of the Employment Insurance Act. That meant that 60% of people who would ordinarily have been entitled to employment insurance were also thrown off, just as my colleague was thrown out of power a few months ago.

I wonder, if the common good was so important to him, how it is that when he was on the benches opposite and we were trying to persuade him that the government should take action in the public interest and for the common good, he did nothing? How can it be that this man, a colleague whom I do respect, did not stand up for the people, took part in, and even supported, measures that harmed the people, that raised the poverty rate and denied the unemployed the benefits they would ordinarily have been entitled to?

Budget Implementation Act, 2006
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

John McCallum Markham—Unionville, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member is talking about the period in the 1990s when we had large deficits, $40 billion, because of the Conservative government.

More recently, our government increased transfers to the provinces by extremely significant amounts. We increased health transfers by over $40 billion. With equalization, our transfers rose by $70 billion over 10 years. Today, the Conservatives are saying that we, the Liberals, are responsible for the fiscal imbalance. That is not the case; it is thanks to what the Liberals did, thanks to that $70 billion, that we solved the problem of the fiscal imbalance. The Conservatives are trying to take credit for what the Liberals did.

What is very surprising is to see that the Bloc may support this budget. It does nothing to solve the fiscal imbalance. The only reason is that Bloc members know full well that they would lose seats in Quebec otherwise. That is the only reason.

Budget Implementation Act, 2006
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Brenda Chamberlain Guelph, ON

Mr. Speaker, today I would like to begin my remarks about the new government's budget by referring to page 184 of the budget plan. I also want to make mention of the member for Markham--Unionville, because I do agree with his remarks that the Liberal government did a very good job in setting the fiscal stage.

The Conservatives' budget plan states:

On a total government, National Accounts basis:

Canada was the only G7 country to record a surplus in 2003, 2004 and 2005.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development...projects that Canada will be the only G7 country to record a surplus in both 2006 and 2007.

Canada's total government sector net debt burden declined to an estimated 26.4 per cent of gross domestic product...in 2005, and has been the lowest in the G7 since 2004.

Looking at the fiscal positions of the federal governments in Canada and the United States:

In 2004-05, the Canadian federal government posted a surplus of...$1.5 billion or 0.1 per cent of the GDP, while the U.S. federal government incurred an “on-budget” deficit of US $494 billion or 4.0 per cent of GDP.

For this reason and many more that are quoted in this Conservative document, the Liberal Party positioned this country very strongly. That is a good thing for all Canadians and it is really important that we as parliamentarians do not squander this. We have to work together to do what is best for Canadians. This annex to the document says that the previous government did do a good job in helping to restore the finances of the nation. As part of that former government, I suppose I should thank the members opposite for that compliment. It is appreciated.

Canadians know that our country and our economy were in trouble in 1993. Unemployment was soaring. Interest rates were skyrocketing. The national debt was on the verge of being unmanageable. That was under the leadership of a Conservative government. When we came into office, tough choices had to be made to put Canada back on the right track.

Mr. Speaker, I know that you were there on the government benches and I know that you remember these accomplishments.

We restored the nation's finances by eliminating the $42 billion Conservative deficit, balancing the budget eight consecutive times, paying down the debt by $63 billion, cutting taxes by $150 billion, and reinvesting over $100 billion in health care. Unemployment today stands at a 30 year low and interest rates are down from 12% in 1993 to 4%. This means that people can afford to buy new homes and new automobiles. The after tax incomes of Canadians are up 11% from 1993.

I do not believe that any incoming government in recent memory has ever come into office with the government in a stronger financial position, but we are here today to discuss the current government's budget and this is what I would like to move on to.

Unfortunately, this budget does fall short. This budget is all about missed opportunities. With the strong performance of the Canadian economy and the federal government's strong fiscal position, so much more could have been done for Canadians.

Before the members opposite get too excited, I will say that this budget is not all bad. To the government's credit, whether it is good or bad for Canada and Canadians, this budget does what the Conservative Party said it would do, but in so many instances the measures in this budget are poor public policy.

To begin with, let us look at the tax plan. This budget proposes a raft of tiny cuts and tax credits for just about everything.

As the mother and spouse of skilled tradesmen, I can support some of the measures in the budget around apprenticeship and tradespeople, such as the apprenticeship job creation tax credit of up to $2,000 for two years, the apprenticeship incentive grant of $1,000 for the first two years of the red seal apprenticeship program, and the deductibility of the cost of tools.

These are good measures. I applaud the government for putting them in. I think these measures are small, but they are indeed positive steps to take. They are good steps.

Similarly, having regularly met with faculty, staff and students at the University of Guelph, I know that other fiscal measures in this budget are helpful, such as the elimination of federal income tax on scholarships, bursaries and fellowships, the creation of the new textbook tax credit, and expanding the eligibility for Canada's student loan program.

But if the government had really wanted to help Canadians, if the government had really wanted to give them a tax break that they would notice and benefit from, the members opposite would implore the Minister of Finance to abandon the plans to reduce the GST and instead deliver income tax cuts. A cut is not increasing tax rates from 15% to 15.5%. It is not.

When it comes to the issue of a GST cut versus an income tax cut, the merits of the latter over the former have been replayed endlessly by economists, academics, public policy analysts and the media. National Post columnists are stating

--cutting the GST...is the single worst wrong turn in the budget: given Canada's plummeting household savings rates, given our heavy reliance on income taxes, given our urgent need to raise productivity, the very last thing we should be doing is cutting consumption taxes.

I am not sure that much more needs to be said, but I know that the new Prime Minister is not taking any lessons from the national press, that is for sure, because he is not talking to them.

I have spoken in the House many times about health care. It is the number one priority for Canadians. In my community of Guelph, we are no different. I am glad to see the government confirm our 10 year health care plan. I am also supportive of its commitment to continue working to address wait times, although I would have liked to have seen some details on its plans to accomplish this.

There is the shortage of doctors. The wait to see specialists continues to be way too long. There is the shortage of mental health care spaces, an area that we need help in. With an aging population, the stresses placed on the health care system will only increase. More must be done. I would have liked to see more on these particular initiatives in the budget.

We all know of the events this past weekend involving the arrests of individuals accused of plotting death and destruction right here in our country. These are very, very serious things that are happening. I want to thank the men and women of our security services for their hard work and their dedication and for preventing a potential disaster.

I am glad to see that the budget provides them with increased funding. More money for more officers and more training for the RCMP are good things. More money to prevent youth crime is a good thing. More money to prepare for emergencies is a good thing. These are good initiatives that I think all members in the House could support. Those particular things are excellent.

Going from the good to the bad, though, the concerns of my community with respect to child care are inadequately addressed by this budget. Today approximately 84% of both parents are in the workforce and 70% of women with children under the age of six are employed.

In my own community, waiting lists for licensed child care programs continue to grow and surpass the number of child care spaces. In Guelph, wait lists for infant child care average about 70 children ahead. Some centres have wait lists of over 200 infants. There are as many as 30 families waiting for a single toddler space at any one child care program. Children under the age of six in my own community outnumber licensed child care spaces by over 8,000. Parents wait for a space for up to two years.

Leaving the creation of child care spaces up to others through tax incentives lacks the commitment needed to address the needs of parents and children. If I can liken this to health care, if years ago we had only given people ago $100 a month for health care, we would never have had the infrastructure of a health care system. The same thing goes for child care. Until we as a government want to commit to an infrastructure program, this will never ever happen across this great country.

There is no real or meaningful assistance for low income families. Nor does it help people who care for our children. I have listened to my constituents and those who work as child caregivers. They too worry about the future of creating quality child care spaces. They have asked me how qualified staff be enticed to work--

Budget Implementation Act, 2006
Government Orders

2 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

The hon. member for Brandon—Souris.

Budget Implementation Act, 2006
Government Orders

2 p.m.

Conservative

Merv Tweed Brandon—Souris, MB

Mr. Speaker, I listened to the comments of the hon. member, as well as the member for Markham—Unionville, and I have one question. I was here this morning and I am certain the hon. member for Markham—Unionville in particular was here, but I am not certain about the other member.

With all the objections to Bill C-13, why did the member or any of her colleagues not vote against the bill this morning?

Budget Implementation Act, 2006
Government Orders

2 p.m.

Liberal

Brenda Chamberlain Guelph, ON

Mr. Speaker, this hon. member was in the health committee wondering why the Conservatives had not enacted the health commission they had promised in November. That also is a very important issue to Canadians. It is very--

Budget Implementation Act, 2006
Government Orders

2 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

When we return to the debate on Bill C-13, there will be 4 minutes and 12 seconds left for questions and comments for the hon. member.

Northumberland—Quinte West
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Rick Norlock Northumberland—Quinte West, ON

Mr. Speaker, as summer vacation nears, I would like to invite all of Canada to visit our great tourist destinations in Northumberland—Quinte West. We are the gateway to eastern Ontario. Steeped in history, shopping for all, the arts, entertainment and golf, yes, we have it all.

In Trenton, visit the Royal Canadian Air Force Museum or fish in the Bay of Quinte. A quick boat ride up the Trent River will bring people to a myriad of locks on the historic river system.

Stop in Frankford or Campbellford for a visit to the chocolate factory, Empire Cheese or enjoy a Northumberland ale, a nice lunch in Hastings or a round of golf in Warkworth.

In Brighton, take in the historic Proctor House or a play at the Brighton Barn Theatre.

Visit the Big Apple in Colborne. Enjoy the vistas of Lake Ontario from Cobourg's Victoria Park. Shop the historic Main Street of Port Hope or take in a play at the Capitol Theatre. Visit our farming families during the rural ramble.

Yes, Northumberland—Quinte West truly is the jewel in the crown of eastern Ontario.

Hockeyville
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Ken Boshcoff Thunder Bay—Rainy River, ON

Mr. Speaker, the town of Atikokan is carrying the hopes and dreams of northwestern Ontario's hockey lovers on its shoulders as the community skates its way to the Hockeyville contest finals.

Atikokan is a town with a huge heart and tremendous esprit de corps. Despite facing difficult community challenges, they continue to rise above those trials by working together. Residents of Atikokan display the true definition of community spirit and are justly worthy of the title of “Canada's Hockeyville”.

When the Hockeyville team visited Atikokan, it witnessed a demonstration of pride that was overwhelming. The whole town showed up for the parade and, indeed, every lamp post, every corner lot, every business and home was flying the flag of Hockeyville. It was an emotional weekend, and Atikokan is enjoying the energetic support of every community in northwestern Ontario, an area larger than France.

The people of Atikokan believe in themselves. They believe in the greatness of the sport of hockey. I am honoured to be representing a community soon to be known as “Hockeyville”.

Poverty
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Diane Bourgeois Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, June 6 is National Hunger Awareness Day. According to the Canadian Association of Food Banks, more than 820,000 Canadians, 40% of them children, visit food banks every month. In a document released in 2005, the Conference Board of Canada said: “Canada's high rate of child poverty is shocking for a country ranked among the wealthiest in the world”.

In Canada, one child in six lives in poverty. These are frightening figures, especially since we know that poverty is the main barrier to social inclusion and full citizen involvement. By refusing to adequately fund Quebec and the provinces for social transfers and social housing, the federal government is choosing to attack the poor rather than attack poverty.

We can eliminate hunger in Canada. All it takes is the political will to do so.

Post-Secondary Education
Statements By Members

June 6th, 2006 / 2 p.m.

NDP

Denise Savoie Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, last week I had the privilege of taking part in the Canadian delegation at the G-8 meetings on post-secondary education where I learned, above all, that proactive leadership is required for federal governments to develop the minds and skills that drive our economies and civil society.

The ministers present agreed that it was vital to adopt national lifelong learning strategies, including early learning and on-the-job training, to develop Canada's human capital.

I am proud that my riding of Victoria is a champion of lifelong learning, with over 130 knowledge advancing facilities in the downtown core. Projects like Workforce 21 link education providers, business and local governments to coordinate the skills we teach with the skills we need.

However, such an issue does require more than drive-by funding tactics of previous governments. They require a comprehensive pan-Canadian--

Post-Secondary Education
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Nanaimo—Alberni.