House of Commons Hansard #29 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was taxes.

Topics

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

Joe Preston Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Mr. Speaker, I know we have discussed many pieces of legislation here in the House but I cannot think of one that is more aptly named than “keeping Canada's economy and jobs growing act”, the second phase of our economic action plan.

The legislation includes key elements for the next phase of Canada's economic action plan, a low tax plan for jobs and growth. Our minister said:

Our Government is focused on what matters to Canadians—creating jobs and promoting economic growth

Canada has the strongest job record in the G7, having created more than 600,000 jobs and with a great new employment report out this morning. These jobs have been created since July of 2009. The International Monetary Fund projects that we will have among the strongest economic growth in the G7 over the next two years. However, we are not immune from global economic turbulence, which is why we need to stay the course and implement the next phase of Canada's economic action plan.

The minister is right, we do, and there are many ways that keeping Canada's economy and jobs growing act would help Canada's economy recover.

As a small business owner myself, I am very excited about the many ways this budget would help small businesses. I recently visited an innovation centre for entrepreneurs that has been created in St. Thomas, Ontario, with a little help from our government. It is an incubator for small businesses and entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs who want to open their first business go there and work together. I was there speaking to some of the entrepreneurs not that long ago and they were talking about how much they thought this government's budgets have been on the absolute right course from an entrepreneurial point of view. We all know that, from a small business point of view, most of the jobs created are by entrepreneurs and small businesses. That same innovation centre won three awards last week as an innovation centre in Canada. I am very pleased with it.

Part of what this legislation would do is promote jobs and economic growth. One of the ways is by putting in place a temporary hiring credit for small businesses. As I stated, as a small businessman myself, we start off each day fairly optimistic, and in speaking to entrepreneurs, that is exactly the case. Most small business people are very optimistic about what their companies will do that year and about their growth. What this would put in place is a credit to hire and receive a credit for each person hired to expand the business this year. As a small business person, that is always a great incentive to move forward with the decision. When it may have been do or do not, this would push it over the edge.

I would also like to mention another small businessman, a friend of mine in St. Thomas, Jeff Yurek. Last night, he became a member of the provincial parliament. He is a pharmacist. In speaking to him late last night, we talked about working together to create jobs. I even mentioned that I would be speaking this morning to the budget. He is pretty excited about what he will be able to do and with the two of us working together. I congratulate Jeff Yurek.

The budget also talks about expanding the tax support for clean energy generation to encourage green investments. We are simplifying customs tariffs in order to facilitate trade and to lower the administrative burden for business. I will speak to that just a bit.

The government has, over the last short period of time, under the review of one of our ministers, looked at red tape. In the election that we had earlier this spring, one of the more common things I heard from small business people, and specifically from farmers, is that they could do okay if governments would just get out of their way. Therefore, the removal of red tape and regulations, and certainly the duplication of regulations at the federal, provincial, and municipal level, is what most people are looking for. Any time a budget can move to remove administrative burdens for business, it is a good budget. It is letting the people who are earning the money put it in their pockets and not have to use the time and effort to create reports and send them on.

We are extending the accelerated capital cost allowance treatment for investments in manufacturing and processing equipment. As was already mentioned by my colleague earlier, this not only allows those businesses to increase their productivity, which we need to do in Canada, keep working on the productivity side by putting new equipment in place, it also allows the manufacturers of those pieces of equipment to generate income and the people who sell to them to generate income. It has a very good cascade effect.

As I have already said, as a small businessman in a small community that has had some job losses, this type of thing would have a cascade effect. Even where my business is, it can generate business because someone further up the chain is allowing this capital cost allowance.

I want to mention Forbes magazine, the pre-eminent business magazine in the world. It called Canada the best place to do business. Part of the reason was things like the capital cost allowance, the lowering of the red tape and the low tax structure that Canada has put in place.

As a sports fan, I never hear anybody in the stands saying that we are number four. Canada can proudly stand up this week and say that we are number one. We are the best place in the world to do business. Our job strategy is recognized around the world. For those contemplating opening a new plant and wondering where it should be, well the best business magazine in the world is saying that it should be done in Canada because it is the best place to do it. That is the type of thing that this strategy is getting for us.

Is that all there is? No. This legislation would also support communities. We would legislate a permanent annual investment of $2 billion to the gas tax fund. This would be permanent and in place for our communities to be forward thinking in how they would do infrastructure.

We talk a lot about SCM, the big cities and big municipalities, and I respect them for what they do, but I represent places like Aylmer, Ontario, Malahide township and the municipality of Bayham. These are very small municipalities. When they need to do a piece of infrastructure spending to fix a bridge or a road, it is not a one-year project. The money has to be thought out over a bunch of years. The fact that we would make the gas tax money permanent to them by legislation would enable them to plan ahead so that over the next four years they maybe could afford to a fix a bridge using the gas tax money. The legislation would give predictability to small municipalities. However, I am sure the large municipalities would also be very pleased with that.

Also, we would enhance the wage earner protection program to cover more workers affected by employer bankruptcy and receivership.

As well, coming from a rural area in Canada, one of my favourites is the introduction of a volunteer firefighters tax credit for volunteer firefighters. Volunteers run our communities and are in every aspect of our communities. They are the hockey coaches and Boy Scout leaders. I spend a great deal of time on the United Way program in my riding and it is all run by volunteers. However, volunteer firefighters wake themselves up in the middle of the night when the bell goes off and go out and risk their lives. They spend their Saturdays training on how to be better firefighters. I am proud that the government will give them a tax credit toward part of what they do. Our thanks for what volunteers do in our communities needs to be part of it, and the volunteer firefighters tax credit would help.

The legislation would also help families by introducing a new family caregiver tax credit to assist caregivers. We would remove the limit on eligible expenses caregivers can claim under the medical expense tax credit.

We would introduce a new children's art tax credit. In past budgets, government has been able to help families with kids in sports. However, our world is well-rounded and we need the cultural side, too, and, therefore, a tax credit for kids involved in the arts is a great way to go.

I will conclude by saying that I spent 35 days earlier this spring, as other members did, knocking on doors, walking up farm lanes and maybe having too many Tim Hortons coffees. I was talking to people about this budget and what we would be putting forward. We came back with an overwhelming mandate, certainly in my riding, and across the country because people liked what we were talking about over those 35 days and wanted us to go back and do it and create some jobs.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

10:40 a.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Mr. Speaker, I enjoyed listening to the hon. member's speech and my question to him is a simple one. Does he believe that the tax credits he mentioned, the firefighters tax credit and the children's arts tax credit, should be refundable tax credits so that lower income Canadians can benefit as well?

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

10:40 a.m.

Conservative

Joe Preston Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for the opportunity to talk a little more about volunteers in rural ridings. I recognize that it is not exclusive to rural ridings but I know that the work that volunteer firefighters do in small communities stands out as a greater benefit than it may in some of the larger communities. No offence to the larger communities.

As I said, we spent 35 days on the campaign trail talking about what we were offering to rural Canadians and volunteers. One of the things was, as the member mentioned, the child tax credit. It was well accepted. Whether it was in coffee shops, schools or homes, people said that they liked the way we were headed and that we should carry on.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

NDP

Ève Péclet La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to hear what my colleague has to say about corporate tax rates. He was talking about very low tax rates.

For example, the corporate tax rate for the federal government and the Ontario government combined was cut drastically, from 45% in 1999 to 30% in 2010. However, during the same period, investments in machinery and equipment dropped from 8.3% to 5.5%. This shows that lowering the corporate tax rate does not lead to more investments.

Could my colleague comment on that?

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

Conservative

Joe Preston Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Mr. Speaker, members are making it very easy for me this morning by mentioning all the good things this government is doing.

The member is right. Lowering corporate tax rates does work. Lowering the corporate tax allowance on machinery does work. Having a small business hiring tax credit does work. As a small business person and someone who has spent my life in business, I recognize that every dollar that is allowed to stay in my pocket or the pockets of entrepreneurs in this country somehow gets spent, either by them, their families or gets reinvested back into their businesses.

All of the measures that we have mentioned and the measures that the member opposite congratulated us on will do all of that.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

Conservative

Dick Harris Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, I know that those in the NDP and Liberal Party who fight against a growing economy and creating jobs will not talk about this today because it is good news. This morning there was some remarkably good news on job creation, the economy and the unemployment rate. I would like the member to share that good news with us because it is worthy of repeating over and over again today.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

Conservative

Joe Preston Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member and good friend from British Columbia for helping set that up. I will see if I can hit this one out of the park.

Yes, the unemployment numbers are out this morning. Canada's unemployment rate is now a full two points less than the United States' unemployment rate. That has not happened in my generation. I do not remember it happening in my lifetime as a business person. There were 60,000 new jobs created in the last month right here in Canada.

I understand that the job of opposition parties is to try to find what they can, but I would ask them to please stop talking my country down. I live in the best country on the face of this earth. I live in a country that is working better than most around the world in creating jobs, dreams and opportunities. I am very thankful that we continue to move down that road. Pieces of legislation like this will help grease the rails to make it happen. We need to keep doing it and we need the opposition to help.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

NDP

Ève Péclet La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, before beginning my speech, I would like to set the record straight about some things that the hon. member claims I said, which I did not. I said that, when the taxes of large corporations dropped from 45% to 30%, investments decreased. They therefore did not increase. This shows that the decrease in large corporations' taxes did not increase investments. Now, I would like to start my speech.

My priority is to stand up for the interests of families, youth, workers and seniors. That is the mandate that the people of La Pointe-de-l'Île gave me. These are the issues that made up the NDP's campaign platform. Meanwhile, the government continues to give tax credits to large corporations. We are talking about $2 billion this year alone, not to mention the mess involving the use of public money during the G8 or the use of helicopters and planes for personal reasons.

Meanwhile, look at the cold reality Canadians are facing. Let us think of the large and growing gap between the rich and the poor in Canada. From 1998 to 2007, one-third of the country's income growth was among 1% of the wealthiest Canadians, those with incomes of $400,000 a year or more.

The IMF published a study that found that the more equitable the distribution of income, the longer and more stable the periods of economic growth. However, this budget does not do anything to solve the problems that thousands of Canadians are experiencing every day. The government clearly has no idea what Canadians actually need. A big part of the population in my riding is aging. We must work to prevent seniors from falling into poverty. We must offer them affordable housing. We must provide them with financial support so that they have a decent standard of living. The bill does not include any plan for creating affordable housing. We want concrete measures, not just half measures, to fight poverty and allow the Canadian economy to truly recover from the recession. Eleven million Canadians do not have retirement pensions through their employers and, meanwhile, approximately 250,000 seniors are living in poverty.

The budget says that seniors living alone who have a maximum income of $2,000 will receive an additional $600 a year. It does not make any sense to claim that a mere $600 extra a year will help a senior escape from poverty. That is approximately $2 a day. Can someone really escape poverty, feed themselves, pay for their prescriptions and pay their rent with approximately $2 extra a day? They cannot.

What is more, this credit will decrease as their income increases. When a senior living alone gets an annual income supplement of $4,400, they can no longer benefit from the tax credit the government is proposing in this budget. That is despicable. Seniors need our help. They also need to have peace of mind and know that they will have enough to eat and can get the medicine they need.

I would like to talk about tax credits because, for days now, the government has been saying that it has created tax credits that will help people. But what good is it to give a tax credit to someone who is not working or to someone who pays little or no income tax? These people cannot benefit from tax credits. These tax credits will have no impact on the people who really need them, the people who need help from this government. For example, the tax credit for caregivers is insufficient and will discriminate against countless low-income families.

I would like to give the government a crash course in tax credits. The problem with tax credits is that they are only given to the people who have enough income to actually claim the credits. Since 65% of households with a caregiver declare a combined income of less than $45,000 and 23% declare less than $20,000, the majority of caregivers will not be able to benefit from this tax credit. Why not create a tax benefit that all caregivers can qualify for? Now there is a concrete solution for this government.

I wish the government would stop saying that the NDP is refusing to negotiate. It is the government that is refusing to listen to the offers we are making. The Conservatives are using their majority to pass bills that have no impact on Canadian society, the unemployed, families or seniors.

We could also talk about families. Tax credits to promote the participation of children in physical, artistic and cultural activities are a good idea, I agree. However, this initiative does not take into account the 30% of people living on the island of Montreal who did not pay taxes or the people in my riding who cannot afford to send their children to these kinds of activities. I think it is great to help families that can afford to send their children to such activities; I have no problem with that. But I also think we need to help the families that cannot afford to pay their rent, let alone enrol their children in such activities. Parents should not be forced to choose between feeding their children or paying the rent and enrolling them in physical, artistic and cultural activities.

Once again, a tax benefit would allow most families living in poverty to send their kids to such activities, yet another concrete measure the government should examine and consider. This government's budget does not invest in social housing and does not take into account the reality of thousands of Quebeckers and Canadians. The government must understand that it is crucial to develop a plan to give families, seniors and everyone access to affordable housing so that they do not have to worry about choosing between paying their rent and feeding their families. This government is forcing families living in poverty to make that decision, and this is unacceptable in a society like ours here in Canada.

Why does this government keep cutting taxes for corporations, oil companies and the banks? This takes away billions of dollars that could otherwise be invested for Canadians. Then the government announces $4 billion in cuts that will have a direct impact on public services for Canadians. The government is making cuts at Environment Canada and Service Canada and we are already seeing their disastrous impact on Canadians. A number of people in my riding have been waiting for their employment insurance cheque for months. One constituent in particular came to see me at my office. After waiting for three months for her employment insurance benefits, she went into foreclosure because she could not pay her mortgage. She lost her home, she is homeless, she has no money left for food and she is worried about her children. I am sure she is not alone. This is unacceptable and it makes no sense.

This $4 billion in cuts is money that could easily have come out of the oil companies' $100 billion annual profits or the $10 billion on average in tax credits and gifts given to corporations every year. Glen Hodgson, from the Conference Board of Canada, told the Standing Committee on Finance a number of times this week that tax expenditures, including ineffective tax cuts given to corporations, should be included in the scrutiny of government spending. The Department of Finance itself recognizes that infrastructure investment has five times the economic impact of corporate tax cuts. This fact is published in the appendix to budget 2009.

The thing that is even more shocking about the government's position is that in addition to announcing billions of dollars in cuts, it is now asking Canadian taxpayers to foot the bill for its radical policies on crime and defence. Is asking Canadians to pay millions of dollars for prisons, jets and whatever else they can come up with part of an economic recovery plan? It is totally illogical. While the government muzzles us and uses its majority to pass legislation that is totally absurd and out of touch with reality, 1.4 million Canadians are still waiting for a real job creation action plan—2 million if we count those who have given up or are underemployed.

Furthermore, the government claims to have created 600,000 net new jobs. That is another sad distortion of the truth. Since the peak of job creation before the start of the recession in May 2008, barely 200,000 new jobs have been created. However, the labour force has increased by 450,000 since then. Thus, 250,000 more jobs are needed just to maintain employment at pre-recession levels. Between July 2008 and July 2011, only 260,000 jobs were created. Even based on July 2007 figures, only 495,900 jobs were created between 2007 and 2011, not 600,000 as the government claims.

The government is abandoning millions of unemployed workers and is not really investing in job creation. The budget does not include any plans for job creation. For example, energy processing consists primarily of petroleum refining. This sector of our economy is in decline in Quebec and Canada. What is the government's response? Use Canadian capabilities? No. Create jobs for Canadians. Of course not. It has chosen trade over jobs for Canadians. This government prefers to build pipelines such as the Keystone pipeline to export crude oil to the United States for refining. With what result? Members will be surprised—the loss of thousands of jobs. In my—

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

I am sorry, but I must interrupt the hon. member.

She will have five minutes for questions and comments after question period.

“MP for a Day” Competition
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Bloc

André Bellavance Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to announce that Benjamin Laliberté, from the Victoriaville CEGEP, is the winner of the fifth “MP for a Day” competition.

This non-partisan competition aims to help young people learn about the realities of public life and to teach them about the work of politicians—and politics in general—while encouraging them to maintain a critical eye. This competition is a concrete way for me to show them how our democracy works.

Benjamin, a player for the Victoriaville Tigres in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, was declared the winner by a panel. The contestants were asked to evaluate free trade agreements that Canada has signed or is in the progress of signing, and to explain whether they benefit Quebec.

I would like to thank Jean-François Léonard, the political science and geography teacher at the Victoriaville CEGEP, with whom I organized the competition. I would also like to thank the Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste, the Sévégny-Baril duo from La Capitale as well as the UPA Centre-du-Quebec for their contributions to the scholarships awarded to the top three contestants.

Police and Peace Officers' National Memorial Day
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Conservative

Lois Brown Newmarket—Aurora, ON

Mr. Speaker, on September 24, 1998, the Government of Canada officially proclaimed the last Sunday of September of every year as Police and Peace Officers' National Memorial Day.

This national memorial day gives Canadians an opportunity each year to formally express appreciation for the dedication of police and peace officers who made the ultimate tragic sacrifice to keep our communities safe.

For the last 12 years, I have had the honour and privilege of attending the memorial as accompanist of the North York Regional Police Male Chorus. This September 25, it was a spectacular sight to see the thousands of men and women in uniform on Parliament Hill gathered to honour those who had fallen and to support the families left behind.

Today I invite all my colleagues to join me in saluting police and peace officers in service across our country and in honouring those who died while protecting their communities, for they are our heroes. We shall not forget them.

Multiculturalism
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

NDP

Jasbir Sandhu Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister recently said that “Islamicism” is the biggest security threat to our country. This is shocking and insulting. The Prime Minister's comments are misleading and deeply offensive to the many peaceful Muslims in my community and across the country.

It sets a very dangerous precedent when we have a Prime Minister willing to use divisive language like this to drive wedges between people and communities for political purposes.

Muslims, and no doubt tolerant Canadians of all faiths, do not want to see our communities pitted against each other by anyone, let alone our own Prime Minister, and have asked that he apologize for these insensitive remarks.

Tolerance and respect for diversity are the foundation of a peaceful society. We can make our country secure without resorting to divisive politics and without creating a climate of fear.

On behalf of the Muslim community in my constituency and all those across Canada, I ask the Prime Minister to apologize for these regrettable statements.

Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Mr. Speaker, earlier this week I introduced my private member's bill calling for an end to wine prohibition in Canada. Bill C-311, if passed by my colleagues, will allow Canadian wineries to sell to Canadians all across this great country, something that the 83-year old prohibition era Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act currently makes illegal.

After I introduced my bill the phone started to ring: CBC Halifax, Niagara This Week, the St. Catharine's Standard and others.

It turns out Nova Scotia is an emerging wine region with roughly 15 wineries. It can produce great wines in places like the Annapolis Valley and elsewhere.

Twenty years ago in British Columbia we had roughly 15 wineries. Today in B.C. we have close to 200. Think about the potential for Nova Scotia.

Ontario Niagara region has close to 16,000 acres planted in grapes. In the province of Quebec there are now close to 50 wineries.

In fact, there are now wineries in every province across Canada.

Ending wine prohibition will help family-owned wineries all across Canada. I hope my colleagues will support Bill C-311.

The Environment
Statements By Members

October 7th, 2011 / 11 a.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, together all the world's peoples face common vulnerabilities from climate change to depleted ozone that transcend borders. No country, community, no corporation can exist apart from its environment.

Fortunately a significant number of companies are recognizing our common future. One such company is Molson Coors, which believes good business practices embrace environmental stewardship. The company is proud of its positive trend in its environmental impact, its great Canadian shoreline cleanups and its Molson Canadian Red Leaf Project, an ongoing commitment to give back to the land that sustains us by planting 100,000 trees from coast to coast to coast.

Molson Coors understands that when we compromise the air, the water, the soil and the variety of life, we steal from the endless future to serve the fleeting present. What will our organization do to preserve our planet?

The Environment
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Michelle Rempel Calgary Centre-North, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to speak to our government's work on the chemicals management plan, an important and valuable program that focuses on assessing the risks of approximately 4,300 chemicals, including products currently found in Canadian households. Through this plan, chemicals have been identified as potential risks to human health and to the environment.

To date, the Government of Canada has addressed approximately 1,100 high priority chemicals found in consumer products and industrial applications in Canada, through three of the chemicals management plan's main initiatives: the challenge to industry; the rapid screening of substances of lower concern; and the petroleum sector stream approach.

These important initiatives have enabled our government to take important steps to continue to protect Canadians from harmful chemicals in products and to protect our environment against potential risks.