House of Commons Hansard #26 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was crime.

Topics

Budget and Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007
Government Orders

4:50 p.m.

Conservative

Budget and Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007
Government Orders

4:50 p.m.

Macleod
Alberta

Conservative

Ted Menzies Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, it is indeed a pleasure to get onto the discussions of Bill C-28. We have all been waiting for this second budget implementation bill to finally get to the House and we are so excited to be discussing all of the wonderful things that are in it. There are some tax cuts for which Canadians have been waiting. We are certainly seeking quick passage of the bill so that we can make sure that Canadians see their tax cuts as soon as we can possibly get this bill through the House.

I am very pleased to present Bill C-28 today at second reading. The first bill to implement measures from budget 2007 received royal assent on June 22, 2007. This comprehensive bill also proposes to implement bold new measures from the 2007 economic statement that will reduce taxes further for Canadians and usher in a new era for Canadian business taxation, while further reducing the federal debt.

The measures in Bill C-28 are key components of this government's strategy to create a tax advantage, one of the priorities identified in our long term economic plan, Advantage Canada. To that end, there is little doubt that our government is well on its way to establishing a proud legacy of tax relief. In fact, we have provided broad based relief in personal income taxes, consumption taxes, business taxes and in excise taxes.

Moreover, we have made tremendous strides in a short period of time, but we are not finished yet. Canadians expect their government to help them build on this legacy. They want a government that sets clear goals and delivers concrete results for all Canadians. We have done that.

The 2007 Speech from the Throne delivered on October 16 outlined how the government plans to build on the action already taken to implement the commitments to Canadians in the Advantage Canada plan. Reducing taxes for all Canadians and establishing the lowest overall corporate income tax and new business investment in the G-7 is part of this government's long term vision of creating a tax advantage for Canada.

With the almost $60 billion in tax reductions for individuals, families and businesses announced recently in the 2007 economic statement, we have reached that goal. That is $60 billion in relief over this and the next five years. Combined with previous relief provided by the current government, the total tax relief over the same period is almost $190 billion.

Budget and Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007
Government Orders

4:50 p.m.

Conservative

Joe Preston Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Incredible.

Budget and Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007
Government Orders

4:50 p.m.

Conservative

Ted Menzies Macleod, AB

That is incredible, Mr. Speaker. My hon. colleague is reminding me how incredible that is, $190 billion.

Furthermore, the government's plan to reduce the federal budget by $10 billion will bring total debt reduction since 2005-06 to more than $37 billion. That is over $1,500 for every man woman and child in Canada. Not only have we reduced the debt, but through our tax back guarantee, we have further reduced taxes for Canadians.

We are limiting the growth of spending in government and we are balancing the books. We are building modern and accessible world-class infrastructure that will help move Canadian goods to market, allowing our economy to grow and prosper. Our economic fundamentals are solid. We are experiencing the second longest period of economic expansion in Canadian history.

Business investment is expanding for the 12th consecutive year. Corporate profits are at an all time high in Canadian history. Along with that, overall inflation has remained low and stable. Our unemployment rate is the best it has been in 33 years. But we cannot rest on our laurels and we are not about to. At the same time we must be aware of the significant challenges ahead.

Our government is prepared to meet those challenges head-on. Let me illustrate how we are going to do that by outlining some of the key measures in Bill C-28. These measures are many, so today I will focus on the key provisions of the bill.

For too many low income Canadians, working can mean being financially worse off than staying on social assistance. In Advantage Canada, Canada's new government committed to work with the provinces and the territories to lower the so-called welfare wall by implementing a working income tax benefit to make work pay for low and modest income Canadians.

The working income tax benefit will provide up to $1,000 per year to low income working couples and single parents and up to $500 to single individuals. This benefit will help make work more rewarding and attractive for an estimated 1.2 million Canadians already in the workforce, thereby strengthening their incentive to stay employed.

In addition, it is estimated that a working income tax benefit will encourage close to 60,000 people to enter the workforce. Advantage Canada has also committed to foster academic excellence and choice.

Hon. members may recall that in budget 2006 the government fully exempted scholarship, fellowship and bursary income received by post-secondary students. The combination of these measures will help ensure that no Canadian is deterred from accepting and experiencing exceptional education opportunities. This measure will benefit about 1,000 Canadian children and their families.

This government also pledged to increase health spending for sport and physical activity. In budget 2006 we acted on that commitment by introducing the children's fitness tax credit, which became effective January 1 of this year. Parents can claim the credit for eligible fees up to $500 a year for each child participating in physical activity programs.

An important component of this initiative is that substantial additional support will be provided to children who are eligible for the disability tax credit. This recognizes the unique barriers these children face in becoming more active.

Hon. members may also recall that in budget 2006 we introduced the public transit tax credit. The proposals include measures that will help low income individuals who may not be able to afford the financial commitment of a monthly pass to take advantage of the credit.

I have spoken about tax measures in this bill for individuals and families. This government also understands the need to ensure Canada's corporate tax system is competitive. I can assure hon. members that we are delivering on that need. In fact, the economic statement announced that we will move Canada to the goal of establishing the lowest overall tax rate on new business investment in the G-7 by 2011.

Capital taxes increase the cost of investing for Canadian businesses and reduce the competitiveness of Canada's tax system. Recognizing this, the government took action in its first budget, budget 2006, to eliminate the federal capital tax in January 2006. Bill C-28 proposes further action on this front by establishing a financial incentive to encourage provinces to eliminate their capital taxes as soon as possible.

Provinces can qualify for the incentive if they enact legislation after March 18, 2007 and before 2011 to eliminate their capital taxes over that time period. Provinces have an important role to play in improving Canada's business tax competitiveness. This incentive is important because it will encourage provinces to do the right thing and eliminate their capital taxes.

By reducing taxes for small businesses, it will help them succeed in an increasingly competitive global marketplace. However, small businesses also face other challenges, such as handling the paperwork associated with filing tax forms and remitting taxes. This can sometimes be an onerous task for small businesses. Bill C-28 proposes to implement measures from budget 2007 to ease the paperwork burden by reducing the frequency of tax remittances and filings for small businesses. These proposed changes will reduce the filing and remitting requirements of more than 350,000 small businesses by, on average, about one-third.

This government also recognizes the importance of small business owners, such as farmers, fishermen and fisher women. Indeed, these sectors are key drivers of Canada's economic success.

One of the ways that Canada's federal income tax system supports these entrepreneurs is through the lifetime capital gains exemption. Providing a tax exemption on capital gains realized on the disposition of qualified farm and fishing property, or qualified small business corporation shares, increases the rewards of investing in small business, farming and fishing. It also helps to ensure financial security for their retirement.

In recognition of the importance of these entrepreneurs to the Canadian economy and to help them better prepare for the future, budget 2007 proposes to increase the lifetime capital gains exemption to $750,000 from the existing $500,000. This is the first time it has been increased since 1988.

Canada's economy depends on the trucking sector to function effectively. It is all very well to manufacture quality Canadian goods, but if we cannot get those goods to market, where does that leave us?

Increasing demands for highly skilled truck drivers and a rapidly aging workforce are raising concerns that Canada may be facing a shortage of qualified truck drivers. In budget 2007, the government introduced a proposal that is aimed specifically at helping this important industry.

In order to provide better recognition of the significant meal expenses incurred by long haul truck drivers while on the road, budget 2007 proposes to increase to 80% from 50% the share of meal expenses that long haul truck drivers can deduct for tax purposes. To parallel the treatment on the income tax side, Bill C-28 proposes to amend the sales tax legislation by increasing the percentage of available input tax credits for GST/HST paid on meal expenses of long haul truck drivers.

As I have outlined here today, Bill C-28 contains numerous measures that will help businesses. There is one other measure that I would like to mention because it builds on a commitment made by this government to create child care spaces.

Hon. members will recall that in budget 2006 we introduced the universal child care plan, a strategy to provide support for families with children. In July 2006 parents began receiving support of $100 per month for every child under age six, to be used for the priorities identified by parents as they determine how best to balance home, work and other commitments.

By recognizing that parents often choose to use child care services, the government also committed to provide $250 million annually to support the creation of up to 25,000 new spaces, beginning in 2007-08. In budget 2007, and indeed in this bill today, we are further delivering on a commitment to help create child care spaces.

I would now like to outline the measures in Bill C-28 that were announced in the recent 2007 economic statement. These initiatives complement the proposals from budget 2007 that I have just outlined.

Canada's strong fiscal position provides us with an opportunity that few other countries have to make broad based tax reductions that will strengthen our economy, stimulate investment and create more and better jobs.

About three-quarters of the tax reductions will benefit individual Canadians and their families. This includes reducing the GST rate to 5% from 6%, effective January 1, 2008. Building on last year's GST reduction, the combined two percentage point reduction represents some $12 billion in annual savings for consumers. The total savings are significant. Let us look at some of these examples. A family purchasing a new $300,000 home will save $3,840 in GST. Spending $10,000 on home renovations will save a family $200 in GST. A family spending $30,000 on a new minivan will save $600 in GST.

It is important to point out that to benefit low and modest income families, the GST credit will remain at current levels, even though the GST is being reduced.

Bill C-28 also proposes to increase the amount all Canadians can earn, without paying federal income tax, to $9,600 in 2007 and 2008 and to $10,100 in 2009. Furthermore, the lowest personal income tax rate would be reduced to 15%, from 15.5%, effective January 1, 2007. Together, these will deliver relief on next spring's income tax returns and move some 385,000 people off the income tax rolls at least a year earlier than currently legislated.

For Canadian businesses, Bill C-28 proposes a bold new tax reduction imitative that will reduce the general federal corporate income tax rate to 15% by the year 2012, starting one percentage point reduction in 2008 beyond the already scheduled reductions. This move will give Canada the lowest overall tax rate in new business investment in the G-7 by 2011 and the lowest statutory tax rate in the G-7 by 2012.

Canadians want a government that sets clear goals and delivers concrete results. We have set those goals and with the measures in this bill, we are delivering those results.

Once passed, the measures in Bill C-28 from this year's budget, in combination with the tax reduction initiatives announced in the 2007 economic statement, will deliver to Canadians key components of the “Advantage Canada” plan that would help secure Canada's place as a clear leader in the world.

Budget and Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007
Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

Liberal

Shawn Murphy Charlottetown, PE

Mr. Speaker, the member across recites a number of statistics, which are an acknowledgement of the tremendous situation the government inherited.

I remind the member of the last time we had a Conservative government in Ottawa. When it was voted out, the annual deficit was $43 billion, unemployment was 11%, and interest rates were over 10%. I would like some explanation from someone as to what programs, what initiatives, what policies led to that mess.

However, when I talk to average Canadians in the manufacturing sector, they have either lost their job or they are scared to lose their job. Farming, especially hogs and beef, is not having tremendous times. Tourism is being hit by the Canadian dollar. Students, who have been on the Hill in the last couple of weeks, received nothing at all. City mayors have been here. The infrastructure package is about a third of what it was with the previous government. I listened to question period today and the answer we get to every question, on behalf of every Canadian, is tax cuts.

It is my submission that Canada is larger than this. We have a shared destiny. We need leadership, vision and a party that speaks for all Canadians, wherever they live, all regions and all sectors.

Is the member as disappointed as I and other Canadians are in the direction of the government?

Budget and Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007
Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

Ted Menzies Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would love to answer that in one simple word. I thank the hon. member for the opportunity to suggest some of the things he has obviously failed to recognize.

The answer is I am quite excited about the bill we have put forward. I am quite excited about what this government has done for Canadians. I am almost as excited as many of my constituents were when this government took power.

I live in Alberta, in Conservative country. For many years ,y Conservative constituents have asked why the former Liberal government was allowed to slash and burn.

The hon. member talks about those 13 dark years we faced with the Liberal government. He talks about what we inherited from it. More important is the recovery that the previous Progressive Conservative prime minister left for the Liberals. He had fixed it. They inherited that.

Budget and Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007
Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

Liberal

Omar Alghabra Mississauga—Erindale, ON

Mr. Speaker, only the Conservatives can claim repetitive tax cuts to bring it back to where it was when the Liberals were in power.

My question for the hon. member is very specific.

Last March, the Prime Minister, with fanfare, made an announcement about public transportation. He committed to help the city of Mississauga by investing $83 million to help build the new bus rapid transit. At the time he said that this was part of the 2006 budget.

We are now are talking about the implementation bill for the 2007 budget, and the city of Mississauga, to this minute, has yet to receive the 2006 promise. Will this be another broken promise, like the child care spaces promise, like help for immigrants to get foreign credentials, like the income trust promise or will the government finally send the city of Mississauga the funds promised so the people of Mississauga can have their bus rapid transit?

Budget and Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

Ted Menzies Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is very interesting that a member of the Liberal Party would stand and ask about supporting public transit. It seems to me that 13 years might have given the Liberals the opportunity to support public transit. I do not think there was anything done until the Prime Minister recognized what had not been done and the finance minister said, “Let's get it done”. They budgeted the money to get that done.

There was a little help from local members of Parliament who encouraged their local councils and provinces. There are a lot of things the provinces can do to help initiate these projects.

I am very remiss. In answer to the previous question, I should remind the hon. member that we are investing $33 billion and through public-private partnerships, we hope to triple that by leveraging it to $100 billion. This is the largest infrastructure investment in Canada's history.

Budget and Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am interested in the public-private partnership aspect. The government is going down the road of creating another bureaucracy. It has created its own department for this, which is really the sell-off of Canada. In fact, it is getting so bad that it is trying to sell off things that are not even built yet. That is the new border crossing in the Windsor-Detroit region.

Why is the government moving for a P3 project there when we know it is going to be a new toll tax. The Citigroup study, which is a financial group, very much a right wing institution, did an analysis of private border crossings versus that of public. Historically, of the 22 border crossings, most have been public border crossings between Canada and the United States.

Why is the minister and the government moving toward a process that is going to be extra fees for commercial and transport users? This will turn the border into a business with a profit zone. We should reduce tolls and make it more efficient and accountable.

Budget and Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

Ted Menzies Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for reminding us of efficiencies and how we need to improve them. This is one thing the government has been very solid on, which is the most efficient use of taxpayer dollars. If we can involve private companies, the provinces and the municipalities, that is the best way to leverage taxpayer dollars to get things done for Canadians.

I know for the NDP “profit” is a dirty word, but fortunately our country is build on that. It is the opportunity for individuals to profit. If we can increase the opportunities and provide the services to Canadians, what is so bad about that idea?

Budget and Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Storseth Westlock—St. Paul, AB

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the hon. member for his riveting speech. Whereas his delivery was excellent, the substance of the speech was even better.

The moral of this story is Canadians have had enough of a party and a government that was for everything for everybody, but accomplished nothing for nobody.

Now we have a government and a Prime Minister with a vision and leadership to accomplish some of the things he wanted to do, some of the things Canadians taxpayers have begged for us to do.

Could the member comment on several things such as the kept promise of reducing the GST to 5% and reducing personal income tax? However, one of the things I would like the hon. member to concentrate on is the reduction in corporate taxes, particularly for small businesses. People from my constituency and my area have begged for that for years.

Budget and Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007
Government Orders

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Andrew Scheer

The hon. parliamentary secretary has about 25 seconds left.

Budget and Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007
Government Orders

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

Ted Menzies Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, that is very unfortunate. I do not think I could get all the exciting news into five minutes, let alone those few short seconds.

We need to recognize the importance of getting the legislation passed and passed quickly. In answer to my hon. colleague's question, small and medium sized enterprises want to see their taxes reduced. Individuals want to see their taxes reduced. Businesses want to see their taxes reduced. We must get on with it. It is very important that we get this bill passed immediately.

Budget and Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007
Government Orders

5:20 p.m.

Liberal

Massimo Pacetti Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to speak to Bill C-28, the budget implementation bill. I ask for unanimous consent to split my time today with my colleague, the member for Halton.

Budget and Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007
Government Orders

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Andrew Scheer

Does the member have the unanimous consent of the House to split his time with the member for Halton?