House of Commons Hansard #4 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

Infrastructure
Oral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, it is this Prime Minister and this Minister of Finance who have delivered record amounts to support infrastructure in this country. What did that member do? He refused to even read the budget and is saying he will vote against it.

Let us look at the what the president of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities said:

[T]he federal government took concrete action to create new jobs, fight the recession and invest in a safer, greener, more competitive Canada.

The premier of the Northwest Territories came forward with his infrastructure plan, and within three hours this government approved it.

The Environment
Oral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Conservative

Merv Tweed Brandon—Souris, MB

Mr. Speaker, on Tuesday our government outlined a strong plan to confront many of the challenges facing Canadians. Can the Minister of the Environment tell this House what action this government is taking to build a greener Canada, and what targeted investments we are making to improve Canada's environment?

The Environment
Oral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Calgary Centre-North
Alberta

Conservative

Jim Prentice Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for the question and for all of his hard work with respect to this file.

The budget has confirmed our continuing commitment to the environment with initiatives such as a new fund for green infrastructure, support for eco-energy retrofits, a dedicated fund for clean energy projects, including renewable energies, major investment as well for energy retrofits for social housing, and advanced dollars on federal contaminated sites. That is quite a list, quite a record.

Equalization Payments
Oral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Independent

Bill Casey Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, NS

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance just referred to a transition arrangement with Nova Scotia. I understand this is a verbal agreement for a $75 million payment.

I have two questions. Will the minister table the details of this $75 million verbal agreement? Is the transition payment for only one year, or will there be a payment for each year until the equalization deal expires in 2014?

Equalization Payments
Oral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa
Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the agreement was reached with the premier of Nova Scotia. It follows on our discussions at the beginning of November 2008. The commitment of our government was that we would ensure that total cash payments in 2009-10 are no lower than in 2008-09. I have already read to the House the approval of the premier of Nova Scotia. I can assure the member opposite that the sum involved is budgeted.

Equalization Payments
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Foote Random—Burin—St. George's, NL

Mr. Speaker, we hear of the Prime Minister making side deals with one province while deliberately harming another. The Conservatives are sending a clear message to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador that they simply do not count by taking $1.5 billion away from them, money that was already agreed to.

What moral authority does the Prime Minister have for not voting the way people wanted him to?

Equalization Payments
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa
Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, as I pointed out earlier, Newfoundland and Labrador will still receive a projected $1.2 billion in offset payments between 2009-10 and 2011-12. It is still open to the government of Newfoundland and Labrador if it chooses to enter into the O'Brien formula, as has been done by others.

Business of the House
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, I have the usual Thursday question about procedure in the House. I wonder if the government House leader would inform us of the details that he expects to deal with in the House tomorrow and through all of next week.

In particular, we would be interested to know when the government intends to bring forward its budget implementation bill. We would appreciate the government's assurance that that bill will in fact deal precisely and exclusively with matters raised in the budget and not, like last year, attempt to bootleg a whole bunch of other issues into the budget bill illegitimately. It would be useful for the expeditious work of the House if the budget bill focused on the budget and did not try to deal with a whole bunch of other items.

Finally, with respect to the standing committees which are now being struck, particularly for the purpose of considering the supplementary estimates, will the government ensure that all ministers will appear in person before the appropriate committees to defend their estimates before the middle of February?

Business of the House
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Prince George—Peace River
B.C.

Conservative

Jay Hill Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I note that it used to be called the Thursday question, not Thursday questions, but I will try to deal with the items that my hon. colleague raised.

This afternoon we intend to continue with day two of the budget debate and dispose of the subamendment at 6:30 p.m.

Pursuant to the Speaker's ruling yesterday, following the vote on the subamendment, there will be an emergency debate on the transit strike that is presently ongoing here in Ottawa.

Tomorrow will be day three of the budget debate, following which the question will be put on the Liberal amendment. Pursuant to Standing Order 45(6)(a) that vote will be deferred to Monday, February 2 at 6:30 p.m.

Until the House votes on the Liberal amendment we cannot continue with the debate on the budget, so we will interrupt that debate and call the Canada-European free trade bill for Monday.

Tuesday will be the final day of the budget debate.

Wednesday's debate will be the continuation of the Canada-European free trade bill.

Thursday, February 5 shall be an allotted day.

On Friday, February 6 we will begin debate on the budget implementation bill. I ask my hon. colleague to be patient and see what is contained in this terrific budget implementation bill when it comes forward.

I would add that, as everyone is aware, the transit strike in Ottawa has gone unresolved for a very long time. The government is considering measures to resolve the matter and discussions between parties are ongoing. Clearly, those discussions may have an impact on the business which I just laid out. When I have more information on this particular subject, of course I will return to the House.

As is always the case with our Conservative government and our wish for transparency and openness, all of my ministerial colleagues will try their best to adjust their schedules to be available to the standing committees which hold them accountable.

Business of the House
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, in addition to the questions that were asked by the House leader of the official opposition I would also like to ask a question of the government House leader. The visit of the newly elected President of the United States, President Obama, to Canada is on February 19 and is something that is much welcomed and much anticipated. However, as the government House leader knows, February 19 is not a day that Parliament is sitting, but I am sure that all members would want to hear the President. I would like to ask the government House leader if he would agree that February 19 be designated as a special sitting day so that all members may receive and hear the new President of the United States in this House on his first visit to Canada.

I ask the government House leader if he would designate that as a special sitting day.

Business of the House
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, with all due respect to my hon. colleague, I think that this is the type of thing that should be discussed between House leaders. I find it more than a little ironic that we were about to undertake yet another House leaders meeting where all four of the parties get together to try to deal with issues of importance to the House of Commons and this chamber.

Certainly, in the case of the much anticipated visit of President Obama, he is coming to Canada on his first foreign visit and we are very pleased about that. The details of that visit quite naturally will be worked out between the two leaders' offices, between the office of the Prime Minister of Canada and the office of the President of the United States.

Oral Questions
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

Dan McTeague Pickering—Scarborough East, ON

Mr. Speaker, during question period, the President of the Treasury Board, in response to two questions by my colleagues from Victoria and Ajax--Pickering, responded to the issue of cutbacks on RCMP officers with the following, “The cutbacks apply to everyone”.

I am wondering if the minister would now be prepared to table the supporting documents to demonstrate that senior RCMP managers not only retain their bonus eligibility and increased pay, but also their merit bonuses. I think it is important to ensure there is clarification of that statement.

Oral Questions
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I guess we will hear further about tabling of documents in due course. I am not sure that the minister referred to a document so I am not sure it is within the jurisdiction of the Chair to demand that some document be tabled at this point.

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

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

Ben Lobb Huron—Bruce, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today for the first time to participate in the budget 2009 debate. I will be splitting my time with the member for Edmonton—Leduc.

I will begin by thanking the good constituents in Huron—Bruce for putting their faith in me on October 14 and allowing me to represent them in Ottawa. I would like to thank my family for their hard work and support and I would like to thank all of the dedicated, hard-working volunteers. Without their generosity I would not be here today.

A synchronized, global recession is hitting every economy in the world. Canada, as a great trading nation, is feeling the effects. On January 27, the hon. Minister of Finance delivered Canada's economic action plan. This plan will stimulate the Canadian economy to protect Canadians during the global recession and to invest in our long term growth. Our government built this plan after one of the broadest and deepest consultation processes in Canadian history. We heard Canadians' concerns about their jobs, savings, families, businesses and communities. We listened to their concerns and we took their advice.

This government is taking action. Budget 2009 will benefit Huron—Bruce dramatically. Over the past few years, we have continued to see the economy in southern Ontario deteriorate. For example, the unemployment rate in Ontario has risen in recent months and has been above the national average for unemployment rates for two years. In spite of these realities, southern Ontario benefits from a number of economic advantages, including high education levels, large and prosperous urban centres and a close proximity to the United States marketplace.

However, the weakening U.S. and global economies have resulted in plant closures and slower economic growth that are creating hardships for workers and families in southern Ontario.

On Tuesday, in response to Ontario's economic challenges, the Minister of Finance announced $1 billion for a southern Ontario development agency. This is good news for Huron—Bruce and all the ridings in southern Ontario. This agency will provide programs that support economic and community development, innovation and economic diversification with contributions to communities, businesses and non-profit organizations. It will help workers, communities and businesses in southern Ontario position themselves to take advantage of opportunities as economic growth recovers in Canada and around the world.

In addition to the regional programs, the Canadian skills and transition strategy will help to strengthen the benefits for Canadian workers, enhancing the availability of training and freezing EI rates at the lowest payroll tax in the world. This government has taken action to provide a broad range of financial support to help individuals and their families in difficult times, not only in Huron—Bruce, but across Canada.

These initiatives will support Canadians in the short term as well as help them find long term job prospects with investments in training. Budget 2009 has extended the work-sharing agreement by 14 weeks to a maximum of 52 weeks, so more Canadians can continue working. In addition, for two years we will increase EI entitlement benefits by five extra weeks, increasing the maximum benefit duration to 50 weeks from the previous 45 weeks. To help workers who participate in longer term training, this government is investing $500 million over the next two years to extend EI benefits. This will help an additional 10,000 workers.

We are doing more. This government is also investing $1 billion to enhance the availability of training delivered through EI programs over the next two years. We are also helping individuals who do not qualify for EI training, such as the self-employed or those who have been out of work for an extended period. Over the next two years, this government will invest $500 million in a strategic training and transition fund to support these individuals.

Since being elected in October, Huron—Bruce has experienced plant closures, layoffs and numerous people out of work. These programs will go a long way in Huron—Bruce to help our hard-working constituents retrain and get back into the workforce.

Budget 2009 also announced new measures for the agriculture industry. Farmers in Huron—Bruce continue to strive to develop innovative, high-quality food products for Canada's families and markets abroad. In turn, farmers provide a strong economic foundation for the rural communities in which they live and work.

The Canadian farm sector has not been isolated from the current economic downturn. The government will implement a five year, $500 million agriculture flexibility program, AgriFlex, that will facilitate the implementation of new initiatives both federally and in partnership with the provinces, territories and industry. This program will help the agriculture sector improve its competitiveness and respond to market challenges. In addition, the government will invest $50 million over three years to strengthen slaughterhouse capacity in various regions of the country to support the livestock sector.

Budget 2009 also announced proposed amendments to the Farm Improvement and Marketing Cooperatives Loan Act to help make credit available to new farmers, support intergenerational farm transfers and modify eligibility criteria for agriculture co-operatives. Without a doubt, this government has taken action. This budget ensures that many of the key concerns that Canadians had are addressed.

In addition to the building Canada plan, this government announced an additional $7 billion in infrastructure spending. This investment will create jobs and revitalize our transportation network with repairs to our roads, bridges, highways and rail links across the country. Huron—Bruce is a good example of this investment, with $750,000 allocated for pier rehabilitation to the South Hampton Harbour. We are doing more.

Budget 2009 also includes tax cuts for low and middle income families. The basic personal amount of taxable income will be raised from $9,600 to $10,320 per year. This will allow Canadians to earn more before they have to start paying taxes. This government has also increased the first and second personal income tax brackets to allow earnings to be taxed at a lower rate. This will put more money back in the pockets of Canadians.

We have effectively doubled the tax relief provided by the working income tax benefit to help low income Canadians over the welfare wall and into gainful employment. We have also created a home renovation tax credit that will provide incentives of up to $1,350 for Canadians to undertake new renovation projects or accelerate planned future projects.

This budget also provides numerous investments in social and affordable housing to provide Canadians with quality housing at affordable rates. These investments will help lower income families and individuals access safe, affordable and quality housing, build a stronger future and help to create sustainable communities. We will invest $1 billion to upgrade up to 200,000 social housing units across this country.

Budget 2009 will also invest $400 million for the construction of social housing units for low income seniors and $75 million over two years for the construction of social housing units for persons with disabilities. These investments will provide support for some of the most vulnerable in our society while providing short term stimulus relief to the Canadian economy.

In conclusion, there is no doubt that we are taking action to address the economic crisis for all Canadians. It is only through a strong economy that Canadians can create the quality of life and standard of living to which we all aspire within the context of today's economy.

Budget 2009 demonstrates the government's continued commitment to the economy and this country. This is the responsible federal leadership that Canadians rightfully demand and deserve. This is real action and real results for the Canadian economy.