House of Commons Hansard #58 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was million.

Topics

Unborn Victims of Crime Act
Private Members' Business

Noon

Some hon. members

Yea.

Unborn Victims of Crime Act
Private Members' Business

Noon

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

All those opposed will please say nay.

Unborn Victims of Crime Act
Private Members' Business

Noon

Some hon. members

Nay.

Unborn Victims of Crime Act
Private Members' Business

Noon

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Unborn Victims of Crime Act
Private Members' Business

Noon

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

Pursuant to Standing Order 93, the division stands deferred until Wednesday, March 5, immediately before the time provided for private members' business.

The House resumed from February 28 consideration of the motion that this House approves in general the budgetary policy of the government, and of the amendment.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

Noon

Conservative

Nina Grewal Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Northumberland—Quinte West.

I am pleased to rise today on behalf of the constituents of Fleetwood—Port Kells to participate in debate on budget 2008. This year's budget is a balanced financial plan that builds on our Conservative government's strong foundation of lowering taxes, reducing debt and focusing on the clear priorities of Canadians.

Under the leadership of our Prime Minister, taxes are at their lowest level in nearly 50 years. The unemployment rate is at its lowest level in 33 years. Canada's debt burden is at its lowest level since the 1970s. Thanks to our careful management, Canada is in the strongest economic position of the G-7 countries to go through a time of economic turbulence.

Budget 2008 builds on our record of responsible leadership. It is a balanced, focused and prudent budget to strengthen Canada and British Columbia amid global economic uncertainty. It continues to reduce debt and taxes, focuses government spending, and provides additional support for sectors of the economy that are struggling. It is a budget that responds to our country's current needs.

With regard to taxes, this budget builds on last fall's economic statement, offering further assistance to hard-working Canadians and their families. In October, the finance minister announced $60 billion in tax cuts, including $12 billion for this fiscal year. We have cut the GST from 7% to 6% to 5%, increased the basic personal amount deduction to $9,600 with another $500 increase for next year, and cut the lowest personal income tax rate to 15%. Almost three-quarters of all tax relief implemented by our government benefited individual Canadians and their families directly.

Our broad based tax reductions are providing substantial tax savings for Canadians at all income levels, with proportionately greater savings for those with lower incomes. By increasing the basic personal exemption and cutting the GST, our government is helping those Canadians who are more most in need. We are making sure that low income Canadians, including the working poor, single mothers and seniors, who are struggling to make ends meet, have more money in their pockets to pay for the essentials of life.

Since coming to office 24 months ago, our government has taken action that will reduce the overall tax burden for Canadians and businesses by $190 billion.As well, we have removed hundreds of thousands of Canadians from the tax rolls.

The tax-free savings account introduced in this budget provides further financial support by giving Canadians a new savings vehicle. This will allow individuals to contribute up to $5,000 a year in a registered account that grows tax free. Withdrawals can be made tax free and at any time. The money can be used for anything from retirement to the purchase of a new car or a vacation. These accounts will encourage Canadians to save for the future and improve their standard of living.

The government's comprehensive ecoAction plan is making progress on preserving and enhancing the environment, improving air and water quality, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and addressing the health effects of environmental contaminants.

This budget includes new measures to strengthen and ensure effective implementation of Canada's ecoAction plan. It provides funding to implement regulations that will lead to significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and improvements in air quality and proposes additional incentives that will advance progress on cleaner energy generation and use. With this budget, we are also improving Canada's capacity to enforce environmental laws and support conservation.

The budget provides: $66 million over two years to set up the regulatory framework for industrial air emission targets; $240 million to develop a full scale commercial demonstration of carbon capture and storage in the coal-fired electricity sector; $250 million for an automotive innovation fund to develop greener and more fuel efficient vehicles; and $10 million for research and analysis on biofuel emissions.

After years of empty rhetoric and broken promises by previous governments, we are moving forward with sensible initiatives to improve our environment for future generations of Canadians.

Our government is making the largest single federal investment in public infrastructure since World War II through the building Canada plan. This includes a total of $33 billion over seven years for roads, bridges, water systems, public transit and international gateways.

In this budget, we have announced our government's intention to permanently extend gas tax funding to the municipalities to give our cities and towns a guaranteed source of revenue for their infrastructure needs. To help entice people out of their cars and onto public transit, we are providing $1.3 billion in support for public transit capital investments and a tax credit for public transit passes.

The budget provides $500 million for further investments in public transit. This money will assist with the completion of the Evergreen Light Rapid Transit line, which is a vital component of B.C.'s lower mainland transportation system. Investments in public transit are about preserving our environment and making our communities more livable. It is about taking cars off our crowded streets and improving the quality of the air we breathe.

In these challenging times, it is important for the government to focus on its core responsibilities and prepare Canadians to excel in an increasingly competitive world. Our government is therefore investing $350 million per year in a new Canada student grant program that will reach 245,000 college and university students. We will be helping over 100,000 more students from low income and middle income families than under the current system.

We are also providing $100 million for the Vanier scholarships, $21 million for Canada global excellence research chairs and $123 million to improve the Canada student loans program.

For seniors, this budget increases the exemption for employment earnings for those collecting the guaranteed income supplement.

For aboriginal Canadians, the budget provides: $330 million to improve access to safe drinking water; $43 million to improve child and family services on reserves; $70 million to establish a new framework for aboriginal economic development; and $147 million for first nations and Inuit health programs.

The budget also includes $22 million to modernize the immigration system to allow for speedier processing of permanent residents and shorten wait times.

As well, it includes $400 million to hire 2,500 new frontline police officers.

Needless to say, my constituents are interested in the impact the federal government's spending decisions have on their own province. I am happy to report that as a result of restoring fiscal balance British Columbia will receive $5.1 billion this fiscal year, an increase of $367 million over the previous year. This includes $3.3 billion through the Canada health transfer and $1.4 billion through the Canada social transfer.

For B.C., this transfer payment represents an increase of $400 million or 16% since the 2005-06 fiscal year. This is just further evidence of how our government is responding to the real needs of British Columbians. Not only are we putting more money into B.C. infrastructure, helping fight B.C. crime and working to improve the province's environment, but we are also giving the provincial government the money it needs to serve the needs of British Columbians.

This budget sends a clear a message about the importance of prudence in uncertain times. With increasing economic turmoil in the U.S. and elsewhere, it is more important than ever that Canada's government keep its fiscal house in order.

What Canada cannot afford is weak leadership and risky spending that will jeopardize Canada's fiscal position and the jobs that depend on it. Some would have us go down the path to higher spending, higher interest payments and higher taxes. That approach is misguided.

Our government is taking on challenges that require focus, prudence and discipline. The Prime Minister and our Conservative government will continue to set clear priorities and follow--

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

Questions and comments.

Resuming debate, the hon. member for Northumberland--Quinte West.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

Rick Norlock Northumberland—Quinte West, ON

Mr. Speaker, budget 2008 is balanced, focused and prudent. It builds on decisive pre-emptive action taken in the 2007 fall economic update and during winter 2008 to lower taxes for people and businesses, pay down debt and provide targeted support to troubled industries.

Budget 2008 contains more than 100 new measures, including a tax-free savings plan, the most significant personal savings vehicle since the introduction of RRSPs. For Canadians this is a powerful tax-free incentive to save.

Unlike our opponents, we are providing decisive leadership. Four months ago in the fall economic update, we provided $60 billion in tax relief to strengthen our economic fundamentals, including historic reductions to corporate income taxes and a further reduction of the GST to 5%. This budget prepares Canada and Canadians for the challenges ahead. It continues reducing debt and taxes, focuses government spending and provides additional support for sectors of the economy that are struggling in this period of global uncertainty.

Our government is providing responsible leadership. This is the third straight balanced budget. It is both responsible and realistic. Our fiscal projections are based on the most up to date private sector economic forecasts.

We are planning surpluses over the entire budget horizon. After accounting for measures proposed in the budget, we are planning to reduce the debt by $10.2 billion in 2007-08, $2.3 billion in 2008-09 and $1.3 billion in 2009-10. By 2012-13, we will have reduced the federal debt by more than $50 billion since coming to office.

We will not leave our children or grandchildren with the burden of paying for excessive spending, as in the past. Unlike the previous government, we will not be going on a year-end spending spree. Instead, we are giving Canadians a direct stake in and a direct benefit from debt reduction through our tax back guarantee.

Under the tax back guarantee, the government dedicates the effective interest savings from federal debt reduction each year to permanent and sustainable personal income tax reductions. As a result of 2009-10 tax reductions provided under the guarantee, this will amount to $2 billion.

Reducing the country's debt is sound fiscal management. It reduces the amount of money allocated to paying interest on the debt, it helps to keep interest rates low and encourage investment, it improves our ability to cope with economic surprises, it reduces our foreign debt while keeping Canadian dollars at home, and lastly, it ensures that our children will not have to bear the burden of a national debt created by former governments.

In the fall of 2007, we gave $60 billion in tax assistance to strengthen our economic base. That was what needed to be done. We also supported workers and communities in need.

Budget 2008 prepares Canada and Canadians for the challenges ahead. It continues reducing debt and taxes, focuses government spending, and provides additional support for sectors of the economy that are struggling in this period of global uncertainty.

My opponents here in Ottawa have been telling the media and Canadians that we are blowing the surplus. It takes a certain kind of Ottawa politician to view giving people their hard-earned money back as blowing the surplus.

What our opponents fail to understand is the government has no money. The money belongs to taxpayers. We have taken a balanced approach by providing sustainable tax relief, spending on the priorities of Canadians and reducing debt.

Budget 2008 is good for Ontario. Federal support for provinces and territories has reached unprecedented levels. For Ontario this totals $13.9 billion in 2008-09, an increase of $1.4 billion from last year and almost $2.7 billion since 2005-06.

Budget 2008 provides Ontario with: $358 million over three years through the $1 billion community development trust to support efforts to help vulnerable communities adjust to global uncertainty; $195 million over two years through the $500 million public transit capital trust; $156 million over five years for the $400 million police officers recruitment fund to recruit an additional 2,500 new front line police officers across Canada.

Ontario will also benefit from continued targeted support in 2008-09, including: $515 million for infrastructure initiatives, which will total $1.6 million for all provinces and territories, including significant support under the building Canada plan. This includes the gas tax refund, the building Canada fund, increased GST rebate from municipalities and the provincial-territorial equal per jurisdiction fund which will be $25 million in 2008-09. A further $117 million is being made available through the public transit capital trust.

Budget 2008 extends the gas tax fund to $2 billion per year nationally beyond 2013-14 and makes it a permanent measure. We are providing $195 million for labour market training as part of a commitment of $500 million a year in new funding to provinces and territories which begins this year, $303 million as its share of the following: $1.5 billion for the clean air and climate change trust, $300 million for the HPV immunization trust, and a $612 million patient wait times trust.

In addition to these measures, Ontario will continue to receive support through major federal transfers in 2008-09: $8.6 billion through the Canada health transfer, an increase of almost $523 million from last year, for a total of $22.6 billion for all provinces and territories, and this funding will continue annually through a 6% escalator; $4.1 billion through the Canada social transfer, which will provide provinces and territories with $10.6 billion, including an additional $800 million for post-secondary education.

This funding will grow annually through a 3% escalator, which takes effect this year. For Ontario this payment represents an increase of $931 million since 2005-06, which is a 29% increase. This is due mainly to an increase per capita cash allocation of the CST.

Budget 2008 builds on decisive and timely tax reductions for individuals, families and businesses which was introduced in 2006. Since coming to office, this government has provided $74.8 billion in tax relief to the people and businesses of Ontario.

Over this and the next two fiscal years, additional tax reductions in budget 2008 will provide the people and businesses of the province with tax relief of $199.3 million, including $24.1 million through the new tax-free savings account and $74.9 million through the extension of the accelerated capital cost allowance.

Ontario will also benefit from $22.1 million nationally to support changes to provide for easier access to credit through the agricultural advance payments program and $50 million through the cull breeding swine program.

It is obvious. This government is getting things done for the people of Canada and in particular for the people of Ontario.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

Omar Alghabra Mississauga—Erindale, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member talked a lot about debt payment and in abstract, everybody understands the fact that lower debt is a good thing, but let us put this in context.

I want to give the hon. member an example of a typical Canadian family that has a mortgage and comes across a bonus at the end of the year of extra money. Now they have a choice. They have a child who needs to go to university, or they have the option of reducing their mortgage. What does he think the family chooses to do? Does the family put the money into the mortgage payment or save that money for their child so he or she can go to college?

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

Rick Norlock Northumberland—Quinte West, ON

Mr. Speaker, what I personally have done and what most Canadians would do is both.

We would take part of the excess money, or the extra money we had after budgeting for the year, and put some toward our children's education, perhaps through an RESP, and we would also put money down on our debts, or our mortgages.

That does two things. That reduces the amount of interest we pay on our mortgages, which makes us more able to pay later on for our children's education.

It is worth knowing that since coming to office, this government has increased post-secondary education funding by 40%. This goes toward what the member just mentioned. We do both and that is what this budget does.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

12:25 p.m.

NDP

Denise Savoie Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, this is not an environmental budget. It does nothing for climate change. We really missed an opportunity to be global leaders.

The biggest amount of funding was for nuclear development with $350 million. There was $250 million of taxpayers' dollars to help the biggest polluters clean up their act, and very small funding for clean energy development. There are no new financing instruments for combating climate change, such as climate bonds, for example. There is no funding for a cap and trade system, apart from analyzing it of course. I am wondering if he would comment on those numbers.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

Rick Norlock Northumberland—Quinte West, ON

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is 100% wrong. This budget and previous budgets do very much for the environment.

I thank her for mentioning the nuclear industry, to which the government committed $300 million. Nuclear power generation, especially in the province of Ontario, reduces by millions of tonnes the amount of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere, so an investment in nuclear technology is a good investment when it comes to the environment.

In this budget, we are providing $500 million for modern public transit, $250 million for three carbon capture and storage demonstrations, and $66 million over two years to implement binding national regulations on greenhouse gas emissions and air pollutants across all industrial sectors.

The member has it very wrong. We are doing a lot for the environment and there is more to come.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, my colleague from Northumberland—Quinte West very eloquently pointed out about how we have increased funding for post-secondary education by more than 40%. He talked about how more than 100,000 more students will qualify for grants under our new student grant program, something I am very proud of.

He talked about all the measures that we have taken to protect the environment, and certainly nuclear, for companies like Camco in his riding and GE Energy - Nuclear Energy and Numet in my riding. These are big industries.

The member has a long and distinguished career in law enforcement. I wanted to ask the member how much it means to the policing community in Canada that this government has committed new funding for 2,500 more police officers in Canada.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

Rick Norlock Northumberland—Quinte West, ON

Mr. Speaker, my brothers and sisters in uniform across this great country of ours have been waiting a long time for additional members in their ranks.

I want to thank the member for bringing up some of the matters we have been addressing with regard to post-secondary education. He left out the fact that we are providing $250 million over five years to support strategic, large scale research and development projects in the automotive sector. The enhancement of Export Development Canada's guaranteed program to support the automotive and manufacturing sectors is great news for his riding and mine.