House of Commons Hansard #30 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was tax.

Topics

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

NDP

Wayne Marston Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

Mr. Speaker, the speech of the member was very well-informed. We repeatedly hear about tax credits from the other side, but they are non-refundable tax credits. They are half measures.

Let me give an example of another half measure. Last year the Conservatives were pushing us to pass the $50.00 a month they were going to give to seniors on GIS. When we consider that someone living on GIS and old age security gets $15,200 a year and the poverty line is $22,000 a year, what the Conservatives did last year was half of a half measure of what was needed. What is needed for a quarter million seniors in the country is at least a $200 a month increase, not half of that half measure.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

NDP

Sadia Groguhé Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his comments. I back him completely with regard to the $50 per year increase. I have spoken to seniors who have been truly shocked by that amount. They told me outright that it does not do much for them.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

NDP

Jasbir Sandhu Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, my colleague's speech on Bill C-13 was very thoughtful. We have talked about small businesses being the economic engine that drives our economy and creates jobs. We know for a fact that the Conservatives are going to tax small businesses through the payroll tax.

Would my colleague comment on how it will hurt small businesses in her constituency and whether taxing small businesses is a good idea?

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

NDP

Sadia Groguhé Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.

In fact, the hiring credit in Bill C-13 will not help at all to create jobs. Furthermore, the status quo for taxes on small business will have a serious impact on their budgeting and will not create new jobs. Small businesses in my riding are asking for assistance. Keeping these taxes will not help small and medium-sized businesses at all.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

NDP

Hoang Mai Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask my colleague a question. The government says it is open and wants to adapt its plans to reality, and is proposing this plan. What concrete results has she seen in her riding or on the economy?

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

NDP

Sadia Groguhé Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for his question. Earlier he talked about something that I think is essential and that is to have a vision. That is what is missing from this budget: vision. Concretely, in my riding, there are families in need who are likely to turn to food banks for help. Last week I was in my riding all week and able to interact with agency representatives and families. Unfortunately, even those who are currently employed have to get help from charitable organizations to feed their families. In that sense, I think this budget lacks a great deal of vision.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

1:15 p.m.

Conservative

John Williamson New Brunswick Southwest, NB

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in favour of our government's keeping Canada's economy and jobs growing act.

Our government has remained squarely focused on the economy during these turbulent economic times and we have been getting results for Canadians. For instance, approximately 650,000 more Canadians are working today than in July 2009.

In the IMF and OECD forecast our economy will continue to be among the strongest in the G7 this year and next. When we consider what is happening around the world, that is a positive accomplishment. What is more, only recently Forbes magazine ranked Canada as the best place in the world for businesses to grow and create jobs.

Canadians can be confident their country is better positioned to face global economic challenges than most and that our government will remain focused on what matters to Canadians: jobs and the economy.

Focusing on the economy and helping Canadian families is exactly what we are doing through the keeping Canada's economy and jobs growing act. This key legislation would ensure we can keep moving forward in implementing Canada's economic action plan to grow the economy and create jobs.

The plan has been well received in my home province. For instance, the Conseil économique du Nouveau-Brunswick has called it, “far-sighted with provisions to help small and medium-size businesses increase and retain their workforce”.

As well, Doug Northrup, H&R Block tax professional in New Brunswick and a Moncton Times & Transcript personal finance columnist, called it “a people budget with new credits that will help families and seniors get more money back”.

I would like to highlight a few of the important measures in the bill at this moment.

First, recognizing the need for new family physicians, nurse practitioners and nurses to practise or work in underserviced rural or remote communities, we are introducing the medical graduates loan forgiveness initiative. This plan would forgive a portion of Canada student loans for new family physicians, nurse practitioners and nurses who worked in rural or remote communities.

Starting in 2012, new family physicians practising in such communities would be eligible for a federal Canada student loan forgiveness of up to $8,000 per year to a maximum of $40,000. New nurse practitioners and nurses practising in underserved rural or remote communities would be eligible for forgiveness of up to $4,000 a year to a maximum of $20,000.

Another measure I would like to highlight is the volunteer firefighters tax credit.

Another important measure I will highlight is the volunteer firefighters tax credit. This measure is long overdue and it recognizes the hard work of men and women in communities across the country. Volunteer firefighters play a critical role in serving communities across Canada, including in my riding of New Brunswick Southwest, often putting themselves at risk for the safety of their neighbours. Often, in rural and remote communities, these volunteer firefighters are the first responders at the site of home fires or accidents on roads. Across the country, nearly 85,000 volunteer firefighters provide their services to protect the lives of Canadians and they deserve our gratitude and support. That is why this act includes a volunteer firefighters tax credit in the amount of $3,000. This is a positive measure that has been welcomed across the country, including in my home province, as a tool to ensure we retain our volunteer firefighters.

The New Brunswick Association of Fire Chiefs declared:

...the tax credit is also an important tool when it comes to recruitment and retention. We feel that retaining volunteers that are already in place is even more important almost...because you've already invested money into those volunteers. So you want to keep them on and keep them as long as you can. Retention with some of the smaller volunteer fire departments is a big deal.

In my riding there are a lot of these small fire departments and this support is welcome.

Another measure I will highlight is supporting infrastructure in Canada by legislating that the gas tax fund transfer be permanent.

As we know, Canada’s economic action plan has helped accelerate and expand federal investments in infrastructure. The actions we took helped Canada deal with the global economic turbulence in the short term, with more modern infrastructure for the long term.

Canada's historic investment in infrastructure, like improving our roads, bridges or, in my riding, wharves, will continue to support jobs and growth beyond the economic downturn. Announced in budget 2007, the seven year building Canada plan consists of programs to meet varying infrastructure needs across the country, including the gas tax fund and a full rebate of the goods and services tax paid by municipalities. Through the gas tax fund, the Government of Canada provides $2 billion annually to support municipal infrastructure. Today's act proposes to legislate a permanent annual transfer, through the gas tax fund, to provide predictable, long-term infrastructure funding to Canada's cities and towns. This means that this funding would be taken away from the hands of politicians, I suppose, to use it as a political football, thereby guaranteeing it to municipalities so that it would be there year in and year out.

We all know that state of the art infrastructure moves people, goods and services safely and reliably. It improves business competitiveness, allowing the economy to grow and prosper, and it also enhances the quality of life of Canadians.

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation—a group I am very familiar with—has applauded this move, noting, “making the Gas Tax Transfer permanent is a clear follow-through on a longstanding taxpayer priority. This will ensure that more gas tax revenues go back into roads”.

That is a good measure and one that is long overdue.

A final point that I will highlight is our Conservative government's commitment to return to balanced budgets through the responsible spending of taxpayer dollars. We are committed to principled, effective fiscal management through a detailed review of all government spending.

Nevertheless, prudent fiscal management also means leading by example and that includes political parties. That is why today’s bill phases out the costly per-vote subsidy to political parties, which forced taxpayers to support political parties rather than political parties receiving donations voluntarily from Canadians.

We firmly believe that Canadians demand that their tax dollars be treated with great care and only used in the public interest, in good times as well as in turbulent economic times. As such, I believe this move to end the political party subsidies has been and will be applauded by Canadians from coast to coast.

Again, the Taxpayers Federation said:

Eliminating the per-vote subsidy is a major victory in the fight against political welfare. ...this is major win for taxpayers and for democratic reform.

Another plug is from the Calgary Herald editorial. It remarked:

Phasing out the subsidy also forces political parties to do their own fundraising, while asking Canadians to back up their beliefs by putting their hard-earned dollars behind the parties they support.

Here in Ontario, a Kingston Whig Standard editorial heralded it as well when it stated:

If people want to advance a political agenda, let them work to finance the means to get elected. If it appeals to people, they will support it.

It's time politicians and their shills learned how to earn our support, not merely expect it.

While I only highlighted a few measures of today’s act, there are many more.

The keeping Canada's economy and jobs growing act recognizes the need to focus on the economy for the short and long term. I would therefore encourage all members of the House to support this key legislation.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

NDP

Hoang Mai Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for his speech.

The hon. member talked about investing in infrastructure. We know that there is a $130 billion deficit in infrastructure. The Minister of Finance says investing in infrastructure is five times more effective than cutting the corporate tax rate. Could the hon. member explain why the government is making more cuts to the corporate tax rate instead of investing in infrastructure?

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Conservative

John Williamson New Brunswick Southwest, NB

Mr. Speaker, like any good economic policy, a government needs to look at different levers when it sets the fiscal plan every year. We can point to countries throughout Europe, some of which are in big trouble today. They have wonderful infrastructure but lousy tax structures. As a result, they do not receive the investment, jobs or growth that is important to ensuring a high standard of living.

If the member is suggesting that we put all our eggs into building only infrastructure and we do not deal with reducing the tax burden on businesses to create jobs, he has a thing or two to learn. Bringing down taxes will ensure job creation going forward and ensure we have good roads so that our goods can get to and from market.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is always encouraging when we hear a moment of truth from the Conservative government.

I will quote something from October 12, which I am sure my colleagues on the other side will appreciate. It is from the President of the Treasury Board. The article reads:

...is crediting much of Canada’s current economic success to actions taken long before his government came to power, telling a Washington business crowd Wednesday that Canada made the right moves when faced with serious debt troubles of its own in 1995.

I applaud the President of the Treasury Board for acknowledging the role that the Liberal Party played in terms of protecting Canada's economy today.

Would the member not acknowledge that there is so much more good advice coming from the Liberal Party that, if acted upon by the government, it would create a lot more jobs in Canada?

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Conservative

John Williamson New Brunswick Southwest, NB

Mr. Speaker, that is an excellent point. No political party and no government has a monopoly on good ideas. If opposition parties want to propose them, we will certainly listen to them.

I wrote a piece in the past that credited both Preston Manning and Jean Chrétien for the good state the country's finances were in. I credited Preston Manning in opposition for putting the heat on the government of the day under Mr. Chrétien and Mr. Chrétien for enacting the ideas.

Why the opposition today would want to raise taxes and spend wildly, I do not know. I think that explains in part why the third party today is no longer the government.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Conservative

Brad Butt Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I compliment my very learned friend across the aisle. I know that his background prior to coming here was a tax fighter and he deserves to be congratulated for bringing that skill and knowledge to the House of Commons.

Perhaps he could detail, in a little more specific way, why targeted tax cuts and tax credit initiatives that are in this legislation are important in affecting general behaviour in different sectors that actually help build and grow the economy and for employers to retain and hire new people. Why are targeted tax credits like this so important?

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Conservative

John Williamson New Brunswick Southwest, NB

Mr. Speaker, over the last five years, our government, particularly on the personal income tax side, has used a number of tax credits and incentives to encourage certain activities. The example of our volunteer firefighters tax credit is a perfect one, whereby we are trying to ensure that these organizations continue to exist throughout the country, thereby saving government money from having to fill in were these volunteers to suddenly disappear.

Similarly, we have seen other measures on trades people, for example, to lower their taxes in their day-to-day pursuit of jobs and opportunities.

We must not forget that when it comes to business taxes, we have actually picked up on reforms that were begun by the Liberal government, which is to keep putting the business tax down to 15%, a broad tax that favours all businesses in this country and encourages them to come here and create jobs.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

Conservative

Ray Boughen Palliser, SK

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-13, an act to implement certain provisions of the 2011 budget.

As we navigate through these troubled economic waters, this is a sound budget to maintain our fiscal advantage while offering Canadians the support to enhance their quality of life. I fully support this budget for its measures to create jobs and economic growth to support hard-working Canadians while maintaining Canada's fiscal advantage.

Throughout this period of economic instability, Canada has received many international accolades for its relatively sound fiscal position. I would like to mention a few of these accolades to show that our economic plan is working and should be continued.

First, for the third straight year, the World Economic Forum has ranked Canada's banking system as the strongest in the world. Second, Canada made headlines recently as Forbes magazine ranked Canada number one as the best place to do business worldwide. Third, the International Monetary Fund recently declared that Canada's overall fiscal outlook is the best in the G20. What is more, Canada has had seven straight quarters of economic growth, which is quite remarkable considering the economic instability worldwide.

I congratulate the finance minister for the leadership role he has played in the excellent financial management of Canada. “Canada's low tax plan has created a healthy economic environment for business investment and we applaud the government for staying the course,” said the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, which represents business across the country.

Our government is fully aware that to employ people we need to create a favourable climate for business, and we are doing our best to create favourable climates throughout the country. Measures include tax credits to hire new staff and a reduction in red tape. Support for the hiring credit comes from the Canadian Federation of Agriculture which stated that it will help farm operators that are looking to expand. Speaking of creating favourable climates for business, our government is reducing the red tape that impedes economic growth.

Businesses like Yanke, a Saskatchewan based trucking company, will benefit from reduced bureaucratic hurdles. Recently, Yanke announced that it will be building a transportation and logistics centre, a hub which will bring between 400 and 500 truckloads per week and 40 new jobs to the Regina area. A couple of weeks ago, Alliance Grain Traders announced it will build a pasta processing plant that will employ 60 full-time employees upon completion.

Companies like Yanke and Alliance Grain Traders are able to expand operations which require additional staff because the conditions in Canada are favourable for expansion.

I am proud to say, as my colleagues have said, that 600,000 net new jobs have been created since July 2009. I am especially proud to say that Saskatchewan boasts full employment. It has the lowest unemployment rate in the country at 4%, with 5% being considered full employment. Our low tax plan for jobs and growth is working.

I would like to speak for a moment about how the bill will help communities. Having previously been involved with the municipal government, I realize the challenges involved in funding infrastructure. For this reason, I am pleased our government is investing $2 billion in the gas tax fund. This will provide predictable long-term infrastructure funding for municipalities. Regina, Moose Jaw, and the 11 rural municipalities in my riding will be able to develop long-term plans to fix roads, build power plants, repair bridges and water treatment facilities, and do many other projects. This funding will replace aging infrastructure for the health and safety of Canadians while reducing the municipal tax load that families carry. I call that a good plan.

Let me take a moment to talk about benefits for the agriculture industry. A significant portion of my riding revolves around the agriculture sector. Whether directly or indirectly, Bill C-13 contains measures that will promote sustainable agriculture through targeted assistance to support innovation and long-term profitability. This includes an investment of $50 million over two years to support innovations. Farmers from Caronport to Rouleau to Mossbank and across western Canada will benefit from innovations created through this funding in the years to come.

Let me talk about seniors. Seniors have shaped a generation. They fought for our freedom and built the foundation of our country. We introduced pension splitting a couple of years ago which helped Canadian seniors better manage their finances. Additionally, we have removed over 85,000 seniors from the tax rolls and increased the age credit amount by $2,000. Now, to further support seniors, we are enhancing the guaranteed income supplement for low income seniors to the tune of about $600 for seniors who are single and $840 for couples. The Canadian Labour Congress encouraged this measure and our government listened. It stated that enhancing the guaranteed income supplement is a win for every senior living in Canada.

To further improve the quality of life for seniors, we are expanding the new horizons for seniors program. The extra funding for this program will help ensure that seniors benefit from activities to maintain active and social lives.

Canadians are living longer and much healthier lives than a generation ago, and as a result, remain capable past 65 years of age. I perhaps more than anyone else in the House believe that individuals should not be required to retire at age 65 if they can still do the job competently. Since being elected in 2008, I have taken great pride in being able to help businesses, seniors, youth and hard-working people in my riding with their issues and concerns. Our seniors are a valuable commodity and deserve to be treated as such. I very much support the elimination of this outdated age requirement.

We are continuing to increase support for seniors as shown through these measures.

Let me take a minute to talk about how Bill C-13 would have a positive impact on education.

Our government recognizes the economic benefits that come with investing in education and training. Having been involved in the education system for many years, I am pleased that our government is taking real steps to improve the financial stability of Canadian students as they pursue post-secondary studies. Through Bill C-13, our government is enhancing and expanding access and eligibility for student loans and grants for full-time and part-time secondary students.

Our government realizes there is a shortage of skilled labour and we are offering tax relief with respect to occupational, trade and professional examination fees.

Our government realizes that today's students are tomorrow's leaders and need support to realize their potential.

We are committed to a responsible, credible approach to balancing the budget by 2014-15 in a manner that will create greater efficiency and effectiveness within the operation of government and the many services it provides. We will do this without raising taxes, and without slashing transfer payments to health, education and support for seniors.

Measures included in the bill would help ensure the Canadian government is supporting Canadians as we work our way out of the economic crisis and into a period of sustained economic growth while maintaining a relatively strong fiscal advantage.

I hope all members of the House will join me in supporting this important budget which provides help to Canadians. I look forward to a continuing discussion of this bill.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

NDP

Hoang Mai Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member opposite for his speech.

I have some questions for him about the current state of affairs. The government says we are staying on course and that everything is just fine. However, 1.4 million Canadians are still out of work. If we count those who have given up and are no longer looking for work, there are 1.7 million Canadians without work. The government says it is addressing the matter, but why is it not using our proposals to resolve this problem and investing more in infrastructure and helping small businesses?