House of Commons Hansard #169 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

Procedure and House Affairs
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

June 12th, 2007 / 4:55 p.m.

Conservative

Gary Goodyear Cambridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, discussions have taken place among representatives of all parties and I believe, if you were to seek it, you would find consent that the 55th report of the Standing Committee on Procedures and House Affairs, regarding membership changes of committee memberships, be deemed presented and concurred in.

Procedure and House Affairs
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

Does the hon. member have the unanimous consent of the House to move the motion?

Procedure and House Affairs
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

4:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Procedure and House Affairs
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Procedure and House Affairs
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

4:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Procedure and House Affairs
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

(Motion agreed to)

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-52, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 19, 2007, be read the third time and passed, and of the motion that this question be now put.

Budget Implementation Act, 2007
Government Orders

5 p.m.

Conservative

Rick Dykstra St. Catharines, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak today to the budget once again. It is worth speaking to more than once. It is significant for the country and it is significant for my riding in St. Catharines. It strengthens our economic federation. It invests in a stronger, safer and healthier Canada. It builds on the foundations of policy, which were developed and announced in November, to talk about Canada's strengths.

We announced what the policy framework and measures were going to be, in terms of moving forward, and we ensured that we acted upon those policies within the framework of our budget, those policies being fiscal advantage, tax advantage, infrastructure advantage, knowledge advantage; and entrepreneurial advantage.

The budget is fiscally responsible and it is a prudent balance between long term prosperity and short term needs.

In terms of long term prosperity, we have a significant debt payment. It requires, based on the way the budget is structured, that future governments do the same in ensuring that any surpluses go against our national debt. It ensures that not only are those tax savings on interest going back to Canadians through reductions in personal income tax, but it also tells future generations that we are acting responsibly and turning a country and an economy over to them that will not be straddled with a significant national debt.

It also recognizes and rewards the people who make our country great. We do not talk about this very often, but owners of small business, low income working Canadians, Canadian parents who pay household bills and try to save for their children's tuition are the people who make our country great. It is unique in terms of Canadian strengthens. Canada's government is committed to building on those solid foundations.

Budget 2007 is a first step of Advantage Canada's long term plan. Several major announcements, as I mentioned, fulfill the promises and commitments that we made in November.

For example, for small and large businesses, we are committed to reducing the paper burden on them by 20%. When we talk to small businesses across the country, business owners who employ perhaps themselves and their families or perhaps two or three employees, the paperwork they need to go through to keep that business running and to keep everything accountable is significant. From a federal perspective, we have said that they should have less paperwork, less red tape with which to deal.

We have also told those same people that it is time we increase the lifetime capital gains exemptions for small business owners, for farmers and for fishermen, from one side of the country to the other. Will we ensure they have the benefit of lifetime capital gains? Yes. We are moving from an amount of $500,000 to $750,000. The last time it was increased was back in 1988, almost 20 years ago. Its time has come.

We have also ensured that we have increased capital cost allowance rates on buildings used in manufacturing or processing, from 4% to 10%. We have ensured that other capital cost allowance rates have been raised, as well. It puts Canada's tax rate on new investment now third lowest among G-7 nations.

For manufacturing, there is a two year, 50% straight write-off for any capital investments in equipment and machinery acquired after the announcement of the budget on March 19. That is significant for manufacturing. General Motors announced a potential expansion in St. Catharines of some $400 million into a building, an investment it can make because it realizes that investment can be accelerated in terms of its write-off. It is already spurring economic activity across the country and the budget has not even been passed yet.

However, business cannot do it alone. Infrastructure is also desperately needed. Therefore, we have renewed our gas tax commitment. We have ensured that all municipalities, like the City of St. Catharines, will receive a portion of the gas tax credit.

By 2010, the city of St. Catharines will have received some $4.2 million. When we put that into context and look at the city of St. Catharines' operating budget, that $4.2 million will represent 5% of its yearly operating budget. That means property taxpayers should not have to see the types of increases they have over the last number of years.

We have also extended that gas tax credit until 2013-14. It means communities like mine can count on that money. They know it will be there. They can make their investments. They can talk about infrastructure and make the type of investments they need to ensure their communities are strong. Municipalities across the country know they have a partner in the federal government.

There will be priorities for these funds such as a cleaner transit system and better access to hospitals so people can get there sooner? We look forward to working with councils across the country to get this job done. In my riding the relationship, based on this, is a strong one. We look forward to working together.

The building Canada fund will mean $8.8 billion of investment over the next seven years for areas including border crossings and trade gateways from one side of the country to the other.

The budget is historic because it restores fiscal balance. It implements the recommendations of the expert committee on equalization. Glen Hodgson, chief economist for the Conference Board of Canada, said, “I think we can probably declare the fiscal imbalance between the federal and the province governments is over”.

This is what it means for Ontario and my community. It honours the Canada-Ontario agreement, which means close to $7 billion of new investment into the province and communities like mine. It means that social programs will be funded for the first time, especially those of health care, on a capital basis, which is huge for the province of Ontario.

In total Ontario will receive more than $12.7 billion in transfers in this fiscal year alone. The transfer means so much to the province. Regions like Niagara need to make it clear to the provincial government that they expect their fair share. Let me provide an example.

This government committed $250 million in new money for child care expenditures through 2007-08. That meant for the province of Ontario there would be $95 million to create new child care spaces in the province. Obviously that would trickle down and hopefully mean new spaces in Niagara and St. Catharines.

However, the provincial government in Ontario determined that, despite the fact it would receive $95 million in child care payments, it would only include an additional $25 million in its budget. That means $70 million in transfer payments, which hopefully were to be dedicated by the federal government to the province of Ontario, will not be invested in child care.

There was a lot of talk in the House from parties opposite that maybe we needed to invest more because there was a need for more spaces. The cheque was cut, the money was sent and the spaces were not provided and the money was not invested by the province of Ontario.

We have also had the opportunity to restore the fiscal balance with the Canadian taxpayer. There were $9.2 billion put toward debt. It has been said, but it should be said again, that $22.4 billion over the last two years went toward paying down the debt. Debt reduced today means taxes reduced tomorrow.

We have ensured that personal tax cuts are there as well. There is a $2,000 child tax credit worth $300 a year for every child under the age of 18. There is pension splitting for seniors, finally, after 40 years. We have also made key investments in the area of education, research and development and cultural heritage. All of this is to ensure that from 2005-06 to 2008-09 spending will increase by 4.1%, a full percentage point less than the economy is expected to grow.

Excluding the one time cost of restoring the fiscal balance since budget 2006, the value of these tax cuts announced is more than double the value of new spending announcements.

We believe in responsible fiscal management and we will live up to the promises of advantage Canada to reduce debt, reduce taxes and position our country to be a world economic leader.

Budget Implementation Act, 2007
Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

Merv Tweed Brandon—Souris, MB

Mr. Speaker, I want to start by congratulating the member for St. Catharines. He has sat on the finance committee. I have had the opportunity to substitute on that committee and I know that all the members of that committee do a tremendous job in working for the Canadian taxpayer in trying to do the best with every dollar that they give us to spend on their behalf.

I listened quite closely to the member's comments. He has somewhat of a special interest as I do, in that a lot of seniors live within my community. I know that the budget offered a lot of benefits to the seniors in our communities. I would ask the member for St. Catharines to elaborate a little on that.

Budget Implementation Act, 2007
Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

Rick Dykstra St. Catharines, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is an excellent question and I certainly want to congratulate the member on his support for seniors in his riding and across the country.

The 2007-08 budget is historic from a seniors perspective. For the first time in 40 years we are going to do what a report recommended to the Senate and the House, that seniors' pension incomes should be split so that they will pay less tax, so that they will be able to keep more dollars and will be able to stay in their homes and pay property tax or be able to afford the things that are necessary.

We have taken another position with respect to the new horizons program. We have a new seniors council. The Prime Minister said that we will have leaders who are dedicated, which we do in Senator Marjory LeBreton and the Minister of Health, who will show the leadership to make sure that the seniors council provides us with the type of advice that the government wants and needs to help seniors in the short term and the long term.

That commitment comes through clearly in the new horizons program where 14 million new dollars are being invested so that communities like mine can ensure that seniors have programs that are dedicated specifically to them. We want to make sure that they too have an opportunity to play a role in their communities.

Budget Implementation Act, 2007
Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

Ed Fast Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for his intervention and for his support of this very visionary budget.

There is something that puzzles me. I have listened to some of the debate from the Liberal members in the House and what has been notably absent is any discussion about the benefits which Ontario receives under the budget. I have listened to some of the Liberal members from Ontario speak and there has been no mention at all about the huge benefits the budget delivers to Ontario.

Since my colleague is from Ontario and represents the riding of St. Catharines very well and actually understands what is in the budget, perhaps he could comment on the kinds of benefits Ontarians can expect to receive under the budget.

Budget Implementation Act, 2007
Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

Rick Dykstra St. Catharines, ON

Mr. Speaker, that is an excellent question from the member for Abbotsford.

Yes indeed Ontario benefits from the budget, so much in fact that I am surprised that of the nearly 60 members of the Liberal Party in opposition, I have yet to hear one of them talk about how the budget hurts the province of Ontario. That is an easy question to answer when one asks whether it does or does not hurt the province of Ontario.

Members will not be surprised to hear that the budget does everything intended for the province of Ontario to show that we are committed to making sure that the country's largest province is included in the new fiscal arrangement and the benefit it will provide for our country.

Budget Implementation Act, 2007
Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

An hon. member

Even the premier likes it.

Budget Implementation Act, 2007
Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

Rick Dykstra St. Catharines, ON

Even the Liberal premier, as my colleague mentioned, has said that this is a good budget for the province of Ontario. It is a budget that brings close to $12.8 billion in funding. More important, for the first time in the history of equalization payments, health care is funded on a per capita basis. Based on the population in the province of Ontario we are finally receiving the health care dollars we deserve from the federal government.

Budget Implementation Act, 2007
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

Roy Cullen Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak to Bill C-52, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget.

I listened to the member for St. Catharines talk about how the Conservative government is setting up the new seniors council. After the Conservative government talked about not having patronage appointments, what it has done is it has disbanded the National Council on Aging, an organization that had been set up by our Liberal government, and has started a new seniors council. The council basically has the same mandate and the same terms of reference, but there is one noticeable difference: it is stacked with Conservative appointees. This is not strictly a budget matter, but I had to comment on it.

This budget lacks vision. It lacks a direction for Canada. It is a collection of some sundry items, but it has no cohesion. There is a large amount of spending, spending in the wrong areas and spending that is going to be inflationary. In fact, we are already finding that it is inflationary because of the intended actions of the Bank of Canada to deal with it. We knew it would be inflationary. If the spending had been put in the right places, it would not have been as inflationary and might have had some benefit. The spending is in the wrong areas. Let me give an example.

Of course we know the Conservative government wants to reduce the GST, but in doing so, it increased personal income taxes, which any self-respecting economist will say is not good economic policy.

The government has also reneged on the Kelowna accord, which was providing many benefits to our aboriginal people in terms of housing, schools, clean water and many of the basic needs that aboriginal Canadians in this country need. The government has reneged on that.

The Conservatives have failed to deliver the funding required to implement the early childhood development agreements that had been negotiated in good faith by our Liberal government. They set up this phony child care program which does not really provide any spaces for child care in Canada.

The finance minister stood in this House, and I will never forget this, and said that the acrimony with the provinces and territories had been resolved, it had been fixed. He said that the so-called fiscal imbalance had been dealt with. I remember thinking how naive can a finance minister get. Certainly that came home to roost in spades when Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, Saskatchewan and many of the provinces said that this budget fails to deliver on equalization, that it reneges on the promise with respect to the Atlantic accord.

Income trusts are another good example. The Conservatives campaigned on the idea that they were not ever going to tax income trusts. What did they do? They broke that promise. They have come in now and taxed income trusts with hardly an apology. They wrote off about $25 billion to $30 billion in capitalized value of Canadians who counted on the word of the Conservative government not to tax income trusts. That promise was broken.

Many of us in the House would agree that the income trust question needed to be dealt with, but there were ways to deal with it in a much smarter and a much more fair way for all Canadians. In fact, the grandfathering that the government chose was not fair. It could have been done in a much more equitable fashion. In fact, I think there was an argument to be made to go back to the original raison d'être of income trusts, which was to help with the capitalization of energy companies and with property management companies. What did the government do? It brought in this measure which really hurt many Canadians who were saving for their retirement.

The government through the finance minister has come out with provisions with respect to the non-deductibility of interest expense. What the Conservatives tried to do was deal with some tax evasion measures, in other words, where income by companies is put into low tax or no tax jurisdictions and the interest expense is put into the jurisdiction of Canada and treated as an interest expense.

Yes, there was some abuse of that, but what the government has done is taken the measure to a ridiculous extreme. It has created the unintended consequence, or maybe the intended consequence, I am not sure how clearly the government thought this through, that companies in Canada will be put at a disadvantage when trying to acquire companies abroad.

The income trust decision of the government and the interest non-deductibility measures mean that Canadian companies are going to be targets of more takeovers, more takeovers than we have seen already. The list goes on of Canadian icons such as Inco, Falconbridge, Hudson's Bay and many other companies that have been taken over by non-Canadian interests. Takeovers of energy companies are going to increase, given the income trust decision, and also of companies in general, given the non-deductibility of interest measures.

What does the government do? The industry minister sits on his hands while the world goes by. He argues that the markets will solve everything and that the government should not be an interventionist. The government is finally going to respond and is proposing to make some changes to the Investment Canada Act, but I suspect it will be too little, too late.

There is one aspect of the budget that I think is particularly devastating. The budget provides no real initiative to enhance Canada's productivity, nor to enhance the rate of innovation in Canada. We have some productivity challenges, especially with respect to our neighbours to the south, our major trading partner, and this budget does nothing with respect to innovation or research and development.

We look back to the mid-1990s. Our government inherited a $42 billion deficit in 1993. In three short years, with the cooperation and the commitment of all Canadians, that deficit was eliminated and our government began on the path of reinvesting in research and innovation.

We created the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the CIHR, and the Canada Foundation for Innovation. We set up research chairs across Canada. We also provided some funding for the indirect costs of research overheads. We changed the brain drain to a brain gain.

When a number of my Liberal colleagues and I visited the MaRS project in downtown Toronto recently and we went to the Hospital for Sick Children, I was saddened to learn that some of that brain gain is in jeopardy. We met researchers from all over the United States who had come back to Canada based on the research environment here, but they were thinking that maybe the research environment here in Canada was not so wonderful after all.

There was a lack of commitment to funding for the CIHR in this budget. There was a paltry increase. The CIHR also has some serious challenges with respect to continuity of funding. If a researcher who is an expert in his or her field cannot set up the team that he or she needs and set up a research program over a number of years, then that research is in jeopardy. That is what is happening.

There is also a significant problem with respect to the indirect costs of overheads. Our Liberal government took some measures in that area, but more needs to be done to ensure that the research environment continues here in Canada.

I will talk briefly about crime and safe streets. In our 2006 election platform, the Liberal Party promised a complete ban on handguns. In fact, the then prime minister, the member for LaSalle—Émard, came to my riding of Etobicoke North and committed our party, if elected to government, to a complete ban on handguns.

Just this weekend, again in my riding of Etobicoke North, there was another murder, a drive-by shooting. It was a senseless cowardly act. One person is dead and three are injured. This happened because of the proliferation of handguns.

It is true that handguns are coming across the border from the United States, and that is why our government made more commitments at our border to stem the flow of guns coming from the United States into Canada. More needs to be done on that front. However, the reality is that many handguns are stolen from collectors

Instead of backing away from the gun registry, which is what the Conservatives are planning to do, they should be investing in the gun registry. They should be banning handguns.

We know that putting $1 billion into arming our border guards will have no deterrent effect on the people in Chicago, Boston or wherever, who run guns or drugs into Canada. These people are not sitting around thinking that now that Canada has armed border guards they had better not run the guns or drugs into Canada. Instead of using $1 billion to arm our border guards, that money could be put into much more useful endeavours.

This budget fails on a number of accounts and I will be voting against it for sure.