House of Commons Hansard #79 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was tax.

Topics

Disability Benefits
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, the third petition says that there are a number of severe, potentially life-threatening conditions that do not qualify for disability programs because they are not necessarily permanent.

The petitioners are calling upon Parliament to enact specific and precise legislation to provide additional medical EI benefits to at least equal to maternity EI benefit.

Firearms Registry
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, the last petition is regarding the long gun registry. It states that the long gun registry has spiralled to an estimated $2 billion and that the registry has not saved one life.

The petitioners are calling upon the House of Commons to support any legislation that will cancel the long gun registry.

Passport Fees
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, my petition calls upon the Canadian government to negotiate with the United States government to reduce the United States and Canadian passport fees. The petitioners are concerned that American tourists visiting Canada are at their lowest levels since 1972. American tourism has fallen by 5 million visits in the last seven years, from 16 million in 2002 to only 11 million in 2009.

Currently, one-half of Canadians have passports but only one-quarter of Americans have passports.

At the recent Midwestern Legislative Conference of the Council of State Governments, attended by myself and 500 other elected representatives from 11 border states and 3 provinces, the following resolution was passed unanimously. It reads, be it:

RESOLVED, that [the] Conference calls on President Barack Obama and [the Canadian] Prime Minister...to immediately examine a reduced fee for passports to facilitate cross-border tourism;

...we encourage the governments to examine the idea of a limited time two-for-one passport renewal or new application; and be it further

RESOLVED, that this resolution be submitted to appropriate federal, state and provincial officials.

To be a fair process, passport fees must be reduced on both sides of the border. Therefore, the petitioners call upon the government to work with the American government to examine the mutual reduction in passport fees to facilitate tourism and, finally, promote a limited time, two-for-one passport renewal or new application fee on a mutual basis with the United States.

Seniors
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Bloc

Ève-Mary Thaï Thi Lac Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to present this petition, and I hope that the government will pay attention to the 86 pages filled with just over 1,050 signatures from people calling on it to improve the guaranteed income supplement as well as spousal and survivor allowances. Motion M-300, which I tabled in the House and which was adopted by the majority of elected members—only the Conservatives were opposed—proposed this same idea. The Conservative government needs to do something quickly for seniors, who built today's society.

I would like to draw attention to the fine work being done in my riding by the Richelieu-Yamaska region of FADOQ and by Mr. Leblanc and his members. I would also like to mention the member for Châteauguay—Saint-Constant, our seniors critic, and her unrelenting efforts on behalf of Quebec's seniors.

Veterans
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Irene Mathyssen London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition from citizens across many communities and all walks of life who wish Parliament to know that they genuinely support and value the contributions of our veterans and that they regard a veteran as a veteran regardless in which deployment or where an individual may have served.

The petitioners join the veterans ombudsman and General Walter Natynczyk in condemning the new Veterans Charter and the Department of Veterans Affairs for creating barriers to serving Canadian veterans.

The petitioners also demand that existing services, such as veterans hospitals, be mandated to serve modern-day veterans, including the more than 200,000 members of the armed forces who have served in peacekeeping missions since the Korean war.

The petitioners want there to be a full hearing in the House of Commons in response to the issues of special care, pensions, programs, services and the preservation of an independent Department of Veterans Affairs; and that Parliament act to ensure that veterans and their families receive the supports they have been promised and to which they are entitled as members of the armed forces, past, present and future.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Malcolm Allen Welland, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I would ask for unanimous consent to revert to introduction of private members' bills as I had intended to introduce one today. It seems that somehow it slipped off the order paper. I am not sure how that happened but I would ask for unanimous consent to do that. It will take about 60 seconds.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Is there unanimous consent to revert at this time to introduction of private members' bills?

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

National Local Food Day Act
Routine Proceedings

October 7th, 2010 / 10:15 a.m.

NDP

Malcolm Allen Welland, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-579, An Act respecting a National Local Food Day.

Mr. Speaker, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I thank my colleagues for their indulgence.

This bill would give thanks to agricultural producers across this country by declaring the Friday prior to Thanksgiving national local food day. Passage of this bill would allow us to recognize and give thanks to those who produce the food that everyone across this country consumes day to day.

I hope my colleagues will support my bill. I also hope that they thank farmers in their local communities. We think of them often, but we just do not say thanks. As I sit down with my family this weekend and give thanks for my family and for this great country, I will also give thanks to all those involved in the farm community.

I hope all members will endorse my bill so we can recognize farmers at least one day during the year as we head into the Thanksgiving weekend.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act
Government Orders

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act
Government Orders

10:15 a.m.

Macleod
Alberta

Conservative

Ted Menzies Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, it is always a nice lead-in when someone thanks farmers. As a farmer of 35 years, I would like to echo that as we do go into this weekend of thanksgiving. I wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving weekend with their families.

Back to the order of the day, I do want to take this opportunity to begin debate on Bill C-47, sustaining Canada's economic recovery act. This bill represents a key component of Canada's economic action plan, including many important measures from budget 2010.

This is a key piece of economic legislation that demonstrates our Conservative government's continued focus on the economy, as well as our strong determination and commitment to help sustain Canada's economic recovery. It is a recovery clearly supported by our economic action plan, with real support for families, consumers, businesses and taxpayers. We heard last week that nearly 23,000 job-creating projects across Canada, supported under the plan, are currently under way or already completed. The continued implementation of the economic action plan through economic legislation such as sustaining Canada's economic recovery act will help ensure Canada meets the ongoing global economic challenges head on.

Indeed, Canada has met the recent global economic storm with an aggressive and effective response that has served as a model for other countries to follow.

Bank of Montreal deputy chief economist Doug Porter has declared that Canada has had “arguably one of the most successful stimulus programs in the industrialized world.

We likely will not hear that from the opposition, unfortunately. We also will not hear the opposition acknowledge that Canada has been performing relatively well compared with all other industrialized countries. The opposition seemingly only wants to talk down Canada's economy at every opportunity.

However, let us look at the facts. Canada is the only G7 country to have virtually recouped economic output and private domestic activity lost since the start of the recession. Canada is the only G7 country to have posted significant positive job growth since the summer of 2009, in fact creating almost 430,000 net new jobs since July 2009.

Canada's total government net debt to GDP ratio is projected to remain the lowest by far in the G7. What is more, according to the IMF and the OECD, Canada is expected to be the fastest growing economy in the G7 over the 2010-11 period. Again, the opposition might not want to admit it, but this is the reality. Canada is in a relatively solid and enviable economic position compared with other industrialized countries. If the opposition does not want to take my word for it, which I am assuming it may not, it should listen to independent observers both at home and abroad. Let me read only a sample of the commentary that has appeared in recent months.

TD economist Craig Alexander stated, “The pace of Canada's economic revival stands out in the world”.

The Conference Board of Canada economist Glen Hodgson declared, “Canada is in a much stronger fiscal position than almost every other industrialized country”.

A Victoria Times Colonist editorial proclaimed:

The truth is that far from needing a lecture on financial management or sound public policy, Canada should be delivering one.... [T]he facts are plain. Our handling of the economic downturn has been an example for the world.

The Toronto Star, not normally known as a fan of our Conservative government, stated as well:

Canada has come through the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression remarkably well--better than any other industrialized nation in the world.

Internationally, Canada has been held up as a model of strong economic leadership to follow.

The BBC said:

As Americans and Europeans face deficits and drastic government cuts, Canada's economy is recovering from only a mild recession.... The Canadians, it seems, have answers for even the toughest puzzles.... [I]n this economy, we all want to be Canadian.

The Los Angeles Times remarked:

[O]n such critical issues as the deficit, unemployment, immigration and prospering in the global economy, Canada seems to be outperforming the United States. And in doing so, it is offering examples of successful strategies that Americans might consider.... Canada's financial house is tidy and secure.

The OECD recently commented:

I think Canada looks good -- it shines, actually. Canada could even be considered a safe haven.

All that said, we cannot be complacent or smug. Uncertainty remains. Beyond our borders, the global economic recovery is far from secure. This is especially true in the United States, which is, of course, our largest trading partner, where grave economic challenges persist.

At home too many Canadians are still looking for work. Without a doubt, the economy must remain our priority. Canadians expect nothing less. That is why our Conservative government is focused on the economy above all. We are demonstrating this commitment by working to fully implement Canada's economic action plan.

We are demonstrating it through this, the sustaining Canada's economic recovery act, an act that would help Canadian families get ahead by, for instance, indexing the working income tax benefit, as well as by further strengthening federally regulated pension plans and allowing a 10-year carry forward for registered disability savings plan grants and bonds.

It is an act that would help cut red tape for taxpayers by allowing them to request online notices from the Canada Revenue Agency, registered charities with disbursement quota reform and job-creating small businesses by allowing them to file their taxes semi-annually instead of monthly.

It is an act that would help protect consumers by improving the complaint process when dealing with banks and the financial services industry.

It is an act that would close down tax loopholes by better targeting tax incentives for employee stock options and addressing aggressive tax planning related to tax-free savings accounts.

It is an act that would promote clean energy with an accelerated capital cost allowance for clean energy generation.

In the time remaining, I would like to take a few moments to further highlight a few of the positive steps in this act that I alluded to a few moments ago.

First, I would like to spotlight the improvements we are making to the working income tax benefit, locally referred to as WITB.

Often low-income Canadians who want to enter the workforce face substantial disincentives through reduced benefits and increased taxes. To help low-income Canadians who want to work, our Conservative government introduced the WITB as an incentive to make work pay.

WITB has been successful, making work more rewarding for approximately 1.5 million low-income Canadians annually. Last year, we made WITB more generous by effectively doubling the support provided by it. Building on that action, the sustaining Canada's economic recovery act would ensure that WITB amounts would continue to be indexed to inflation on an annualized basis.

I note that WITB's introduction and recent expansions have been widely praised. For instance, the Caledon Institute of Social Policy called it an “important...addition to Canadian social policy...helping welfare recipients get over the welfare wall, and supplementing the earnings of the working poor”.

Even the Liberal Party's current finance critic, the member for Kings—Hants, has lauded our Conservative government's action. He stated:

The working income tax benefit...has helped many working families and increasing it further will contribute even more significantly to helping make work pay.

Second, I want to highlight how, in this act, we are making the registered disability savings plan, RDSP, even better for Canadians with disabilities and their families.

We know that Canadians with disabilities make significant contributions to our communities, and that is something we always look to support. Since 2006, our Conservative government has taken several important actions to that effect, including the creation of the RDSP. The RDSP helps parents and family members provide long-term financial security for severely disabled children.

The sustaining Canada's economic recovery act includes two proposals to improve the RDSP.

The first improvement to the RDSP, to which I alluded before, proposes to allow a 10-year carry-forward of the Canada disability savings grant and the Canada disability savings bond entitlement in an RDSP. This measure gives families even more flexibility, recognizing that families of children with disabilities may not be able to contribute on a regular basis to their plans.

The second improvement proposes to allow an individual who has passed on to have his or her RRSP or RRIF proceeds transferred, on a tax-free basis, to an RDSP of an eligible dependant child or grandchild.

These improvements have been well received by Canadians with disabilities and their families since we announced them in budget 2010.

Bank of Montreal Financial Group's Tina Di Vito noted that it was:

...a fantastic measure that will benefit people with disabilities and give their parents and grandparents peace of mind. ...the benefit will be huge. This will allow more people with disabilities to get the care they need. ...Canada is leading the world in showing how smart policy can help provide financial security and independence for people with disabilities.

Third, I want to look at how the disbursement quota reform in this bill will better allow registered charities to concentrate on helping Canadians in need rather than dealing with red tape.

All Canadians recognize the invaluable role that charities play in communities right across this country. Since 2006, our government has taken steps to support charities and the great work they do. For instance, we have exempted capital gains on tax associated with the donation of publicly listed securities to public charities and private foundations.

We are now proposing to build on this with significant reforms to the disbursement quota for charities. The quota, which has not been significantly modernized in three decades, has become outdated and imposes costly administrative complexity and unnecessary red tape on charities. This has only served to take their time and resources away from their charitable activities. That is why we are proposing to eliminate all the outdated disbursement quota requirements except, justly, those related to the requirement to disburse a minimum amount of investments and other assets not used directly in the charity's operations each year.

Reaction to this move has been overwhelmingly positive, underlining its importance to Canada's charities.

The Community Foundations of Canada, representing nearly 200 community foundations, applauded it and said:

...a win-win situation—it has a dramatic impact on communities, making it easier for charities to serve people in need.... We applaud the government's decision to reform the disbursement quota policy.

I quote Imagine Canada:

...extremely pleased that the federal government has responded positively to our concerns about the disbursement quota. [It]...added layers of red tape and reduced flexibility in responding to the needs of Canadians and communities.

Finally, the Salvation Army expressed its support by saying:

...removal of the quota will provide The Salvation Army, one of Canada's largest charities, with increased flexibility.... [It]...will allow us to better respond to the needs of the people we serve in 400 communities across Canada.

Fourth, I want to briefly highlight a step we are taking in this bill to clamp down on a tax loophole related to the tax-free savings account, or TFSA. Since our Conservative government introduced the TFSA in 2008, it has proven exceedingly popular and has been called the single most important personal savings vehicle since the introduction of the RRSP.

The landmark TFSA, the first of its kind in Canadian history, has allowed Canadians to watch their savings grow tax-free, but late in 2009 concerns regarding the use of TFSAs in tax planning schemes were raised regarding inappropriate transactions and the deliberate use of over-contributions providing investments and non-qualified investments by a small group of Canadians to avoid paying their fair share of taxes.

Accordingly, we are addressing these serious concerns regarding the abuse of TFSAs and have closed these tax loopholes. This strong action to ensure Canadians pay their fair share of taxes has been loudly and widely applauded.

Tax experts, like Jamie Golombek, have underlined:

For the average everyday Canadian who is putting $5,000 a year into a TFSA account, these changes will be of absolutely no interest. It is a group of highly sophisticated traders and investors who are exploiting the rules. ...this is targeting those people making enormous amounts of over-contribution.

These are only four important steps of many in the sustaining Canada's economic recovery act that illustrate its importance and how it will help Canadian families and Canada's economy in the years ahead.

Clearly this act, as a key component in implementing Canada's economic action plan, would help keep our economy moving in the right direction. The act would help protect our economy against the ongoing global economic turmoil during this fragile period and keep Canada's economic advantage. As such, this legislation deserves the support of this entire Parliament.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

Liberal

John Cannis Scarborough Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened very carefully to my friend, the parliamentary secretary.

He talked about how much better off we are than most industrialized countries. He talked about how we have come out of the crisis quite well. He used different quotes, but he did not quote the average Canadian.

Today according to the OECD, average Canadians have among the highest debt per capita, almost $41,000. When we compare that with some countries that are in grave difficulty, like Greece for example, we find their debt per household is just over $30,000. Let us figure that out.

The member talked about tax savings accounts and all the government has done, and that is fine when the average Canadian has money to save. However, to come out of this debt, average Canadians have borrowed to survive.

What would the member say to all those Canadians who are so far in debt and who have indebted their future and their children's future? Where do they go from there? What would he say to them?