House of Commons Hansard #107 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was immigration.

Topics

Income Tax Act
Private Members' Business

1:55 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to stand and speak to Bill C-207, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (tax credit for new graduates working in designated regions). The bill would give each graduate who settles in a designated region a credit equal to 40% of the individual's salary, up to $8,000. This would encourage new graduates to settle in designated regions.

This is an important concept but it only goes so far in the whole context of what is happening in the northern regions of Canada. I also have full sympathy for northern students because almost all of them must travel to institutions in different cities to get a degree in a particular subject. In my own riding in the Northwest Territories, the government invests heavily in community colleges, to the point where students can now stay in the Northwest Territories and get a degree in education or in nursing, but that is about it.

In order for students in a designated region to get the education they want, they need to travel. The expenses are greater for them at the beginning. They also do not have the luxury of living at home when they are going to school. Once again the burden is greater on students from the far reaches of our country in achieving the education they need. These things all add up and make it very difficult for students.

When I went to school, our federal government at that time--

Income Tax Act
Private Members' Business

1:55 p.m.

Daryl Kramp

That was a long time ago.

Income Tax Act
Private Members' Business

1:55 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington Western Arctic, NT

That was a long time ago and I am not ashamed of that. I think more than education, one needs wisdom to be in this House.

However, at that time we were fully covered for post-secondary education. People in northern regions falling under the federal government's auspices had complete coverage for education. That has eroded over the years. Right now, even within my territory, there are some opportunities. If graduates return to the Northwest Territories they have the opportunity to be forgiven some of the student loans they may have taken out to achieve their degree.

Quite clearly, I am supportive of giving more opportunities to northern students to achieve an education first, and then second, to return to the north and participate in the economy there. The economy is in difficult shape. Right across northern Canada we are facing extreme increases in our cost of living this year. This has been going on actually for a number of years. We are at a point now in the Northwest Territories, where our gross domestic product rose 13% last year, we had a 1% decline in our workforce.

People simply cannot afford to live in northern regions any more. Therefore, the concept that we would make it easier for students to move back to the north and live is a good one but it does not go as far as what we need to do within the tax structure of the country to promote living in the north. We saw the Conservatives make a perfunctory gesture toward that with the increase in the northern resident tax deduction by 10%. We were asking for 50% but they did not accomplish that.

However, hopefully, now that the concept has been revitalized in this Parliament and people see what the situation is, the government will come up with a better solution next time and actually get the job done right.

When it comes to the cost of living, we are in a crisis right across northern Canada. Not only do we need to, by our nature, by our geography and by our climate, consume much more in fossil fuels than most other Canadians, we also pay extraordinary prices for it, which really hurts and will hurt even more.

Right now in the Northwest Territories, in order to have all the services, transportation and all the things that are required, it turns out that the average family unit, within the economy, consumes over 10,000 litres a year in fuel. Prices have doubled in the last year. We are going to see an enormous crisis in the ability of people to live and work in the north. We need answers right now. We need answers that can work for people.

As well as being a northern region, as well as having high costs, we are also a driver of the Canadian economy. We are not the laggards. We are not the people who are not contributing to the development of the Canadian economy. On the contrary, our communities are making massive contributions in terms of national resource extraction and in many other areas that are very beneficial to this country.

We need support for northerners. We need support for students. We need to put money into human resources across the north. We need to make it possible for young people to enjoy a decent life in northern communities so that they will return to their homes and take up the responsibility of citizenship within their region, rather than end up in a city where there is not that measure of cultural understanding or that opportunity to build their own future in their own part of the world.

I would love to support this bill, but some of the things in the bill are troublesome. One thing is the designated region definition. In examining the Regional Development Incentives Act, we do not see clearly that this lines up for the whole of northern Canada, or for all the isolated and remote areas across the country. Some of them are not that far north. There are certainly some rural and remote areas in many of the provinces. We need a strong definition of what this rural and remote policy to encourage students is and how it is to be put into place. That would certainly help.

There is no doubt that what is being proposed here is useful, but is it enough? I have trouble seeing that it is enough. Clearly, with what is happening in the northern economies across Canada we need a massive opportunity to promote living in the north.

In a kind of perverse way, with the consumption taxes that are in place, and the taxes on fuels, and everything we are doing in Canada, an extra tax burden is put on northerners across the country. In Paulatuk, Northwest Territories a gallon of bleach costs $30, but in Ottawa it costs $2. That means the consumption tax is hitting the consumer in Paulatuk harder than it is hitting the consumer in Ottawa.

In many ways northerners contribute quite a bit to the tax system and they should be recognized for that as well when consumption taxes are put on. The northern mayors in British Columbia were outraged at the idea of a carbon tax because, of course, northerners have to consume more, things cost more and they pay higher taxes. When we offer up some incentives in the tax system, we are really trying to equalize what is going on there.

I will finish my comments there.

Income Tax Act
Private Members' Business

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

Resuming debate.

I will put the question now. The question is on Motion No. 1. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Income Tax Act
Private Members' Business

2:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Income Tax Act
Private Members' Business

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

All those in favour of Motion No. 1 will please say yea.

Income Tax Act
Private Members' Business

2:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Income Tax Act
Private Members' Business

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

All those opposed will please say nay.

Income Tax Act
Private Members' Business

2:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Income Tax Act
Private Members' Business

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

In my opinion, the nays have it.

And five or more members having risen:

The recorded division on Motion No. 1 stands deferred.

The next question is on the amendment to Motion No. 2.

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

Income Tax Act
Private Members' Business

2:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Income Tax Act
Private Members' Business

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

All those in favour of the amendment will please say yea.

Income Tax Act
Private Members' Business

2:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Income Tax Act
Private Members' Business

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

All those opposed will please say nay.

Income Tax Act
Private Members' Business

2:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.