House of Commons Hansard #50 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was pension.

Topics

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

3:30 p.m.

NDP

Wayne Marston Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

Mr. Speaker, very clearly the proposed cuts are beyond the point of ridiculous. The first thing people are told when they visit Australia is to stay off the beach at certain times because Australia's incidence of skin cancer is quadruple that of the rest of the world. I agree with the member that the ozone needs to be tested. We would vote against any cuts to the monitoring of our environment.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

3:30 p.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, thank you for giving me the floor. I would like to thank the hon. member for sharing his time with me.

Before I begin to speak about Bill C-13 specifically, I would like to take this opportunity to express my disgust at the current gag orders and reduced debate in the House of Commons. I sometimes get the impression that, for the Conservatives, democracy comes down to 35 days of debate once every four years and that Parliament can be shut down in the interim because there is no real need for it.

In the time I have left, I would like to say that what I find unbelievably disappointing in the Conservative government's policies and decisions is the lack of certain ideas, certain concepts. Earlier an hon. member spoke about science being real. Yet the Conservatives, in their economic decisions, generally ignore other things that are also real, and those things are inequality and poverty. The Minister of Finance accomplished the amazing feat of tabling a budget where the word “poverty”, unfortunately, appears only once. But that does not mean that it is not real.

In 2009, 3.2 million people were living in poverty in Canada. As my colleague and neighbour to my left reminded us, these people are not always unemployed. Sometimes these are people who work. As we know, earning minimum wage amounts to living in poverty. Of the 3.2 million people living in poverty, 634,000 were children.

I find it unacceptable that, in a G8 country, so many people are being abandoned and we cannot take care of one another.

The Conference Board reminded us a few weeks ago that inequality is growing faster in Canada than it is in the United States. Thus, we are moving in the wrong direction. The Americans have a much more unequal society than we do, but at this rate, and with this government's neo-liberal conservative policies, we will catch up with the Americans in no time.

Equity or equality per se is not simply a good and moral objective that we are striving for; it is also more effective.

Last summer, the IMF—which is by no means a socialist organization—released a study on inequality that should be required reading for the Minister of Finance and the entire government. The IMF concluded that more equitable distribution of income translates into longer and more stable economic growth. This is good not only for people trying to get out of poverty, but also for our country as a whole, for the entire country will experience longer periods of growth with fewer upheavals. This is therefore something we should try to achieve.

An inequitable society has more social problems, more crime and more illness. Indeed, poverty has an impact on health, education, productivity, creativity and civic engagement. It is estimated that 20% of health care spending is due to socio-economic factors such as the income gap, for example.

Unfortunately, this government has chosen to give gifts to the banks and the oil companies and cut taxes for the Canadian corporations, which, generally speaking, do not need it. In the first quarters of this year, the six big Canadian banks earned $22 billion in profits. They are not the ones who need help. People who use food banks every month because they are having a hard time paying their bills and making ends meet are the ones who need help. There are solutions and, as New Democrats, we are proposing solutions to truly help workers and their families and truly help people living in poverty.

I want to talk about this government's choices to help those who deserve our respect, those who built the society we live in and to whom we owe everything: seniors.

The previous speaker talked about this. Certain things need to be done with regard to pension plans. I will come back to that. The NDP proposed lifting all seniors in Canada out of poverty by injecting money into the guaranteed income supplement. The answer we got from the Conservative government is woefully inadequate. Its solution was to come up with a parallel system. Indeed, it plans to give an extra $600 a year, or $50 a month to every senior living in poverty, but we must realize that it has created new criteria and new scales: a person is entitled to $50 a month if their income does not exceed $2,000 a year. Once a person has reached that threshold, they do not receive the full $50. They end up with peanuts, maybe an extra $4 or $5. I am not sure who this is going to help. That is not what it means to take concrete measures to help people.

There are so many things to do and so many problems to solve. There are so many people living in difficult situations that have an impact on everything from health to access to post-secondary education.

This government has decided to saw off the very branch on which it is sitting, or to dig the deficit hole. It tells us that it is a real problem that has to be solved. It should stop lowering taxes for banks and oil companies. It has created the problem itself. It is creating a situation where, in Canada, we now have a structural deficit, not a cyclical deficit. Why would they willingly give up revenue? It seems that the Conservatives are governing a state that they basically detest. All their efforts are focused on shrinking government programs, except for those involving the military and corrections, of course.

What could be done with this money that the Conservatives have voluntarily given up, and made us all give up? We could restore investment in social housing. The government's present contribution to affordable social housing is just about nil, and has been for many years. This has created extremely difficult and unacceptable situations for people. In the riding that I have the honour to represent, Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, 2,000 people are on a waiting list for social housing and 5,500 households spend more than 50% of their income on shelter.

This is not the way to build a just, strong and equitable society. These people have problems every day. They are unable to pay their bills. This creates a great deal of tension for couples, families and individuals who cannot make ends meet.

What does the Conservative government do? It gives them tax credits that are worthless if they pay no tax. It is just great to say that they provide tax credits for youth, sports associations, access to this and that, but people have to pay tax to be entitled to them. Once again, it will help some people, but not those who need help the most. We must remember this.

Also, why is it that 1.4 million people are officially looking for a job in Canada and do not have one? This number is growing. We saw that another 72,000 jobs were lost last month. Half of the people who pay into the employment insurance fund do not have access to it when they lose their jobs because they did not work a sufficient number of hours. So, they are paying a tax or insurance premium but they are not entitled to receive benefits when they find themselves in a situation when they might claim them. The NDP is arguing in favour of re-establishing greater access to employment insurance benefits. By so doing, the government would truly provide tangible help to Canadians in their everyday lives.

Investment in infrastructure is insufficient. Clearly, the government has not stopped harping about Canada's economic action plan, but it is also important to remember that, without the threat of a coalition government, the government would never have introduced this plan. The ideas came from this side of the House. We then put an end to the plan to form a coalition, but the entire deficit has not been overcome. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities estimates that Canada is currently facing a $123 billion infrastructure deficit. As a result, overpasses are collapsing and there are problems with the Champlain Bridge and others. That means that our critical infrastructure has been left to crumble: our bridges, our highways and our water systems. This creates problems and then the price must be paid. We must reinvest in infrastructure.

We must also reinvest in research and development because it is the future and Canada has a terrible record among the OECD countries in this area. By making this investment, we will be able to stimulate the economy and create good jobs.

I can give another example. What else could we do to help people? What direction could we take? Think about the cost of medications. Last year, it was estimated that three million Canadians did not take the medications they needed because they could not afford them. That is unacceptable. That is why people continue to be sick and get sicker. Then, they become a burden on the health care system because they did not have the means to take care of themselves. In Quebec we have a drug insurance plan. The NDP thinks this is a good example. With asymmetrical federalism, Quebec could maintain its public drug insurance plan, and we could still create a Canada-wide one at the federal level.

There are many other things, such as household debt, for example. The government is not doing anything to lower credit card interest rates or ATM fees. Two-thirds of Canadian workers do not have a retirement pension plan through their employers. We must improve public pension plans. We must double them. We agree with this because it is the most effective way of doing things. That is what will help the most people once they retire, when they stop working and leave the workforce. We could also talk about Internet connections in the regions or renewable energy. There are tons of things that the federal government should invest in, such as green transportation, high-speed trains or electric monorails.

There are so many things to do and, unfortunately, the only thing this government does is lower taxes. That does not work. That is not how we will help each other and create a fair and just society.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

November 21st, 2011 / 3:40 p.m.

Blackstrap
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Lynne Yelich Minister of State (Western Economic Diversification)

Mr. Speaker, tax cuts were important to the 85,000 seniors who were taken off the tax rolls since we became government.

Then there is the working income tax benefit. We provided tax relief introduced in 2007 by $580 million for 2009 and subsequent years, effectively doubling total tax relief through the working income tax benefit.

I wonder if the member realizes there are programs specifically targeting those lower income people who were paying taxes? Our infrastructure, which the member talked about, we did have a vision in our building Canada fund. We took the historic step of investing $33 billion in a long-term plan. I just want to know if the member is up to speed on some of those investments that we have made?

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

3:40 p.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Of course, Mr. Speaker. But when it is not enough, something needs to be said. When it is not working, something needs to be said. Promises were made, but they turned out to be nothing but smoke and mirrors—the increase in the guaranteed income supplement for seniors will help hardly anyone.

That is not how we will get our seniors out of poverty. Seniors will not rise above poverty if they have their promised assistance cut when they bring in more than $2,000 or $3,000 a year. It will not help people if we ignore the issue of public sector pension plans.

The Canada pension plan works. It is effective and is doing very well. More money needs to be put into it. That is how we will really help people, not by giving useless tax credits to families who do not pay taxes.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

3:40 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canada participated in the eighth meeting of the Ozone Research Managers of the Parties to the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer in May 2011. There were no indications in Canada's presentation that the Minister of the Environment was planning to effectively wipe out Environment Canada's ozone group and severely curtail ozone monitoring activities.

Also notable in the presentation is the slide entitled, “An Arctic Ozone Hole”. This means that Environment Canada was aware of severe ozone depletion in the Arctic well before the government began to announce its cuts to ozone monitoring and science in June. This is a shocking revelation.

Does the hon. member think that the government should reverse its cuts to ozone monitoring?

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

3:40 p.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for her question. We should be talking about the environment, climate change and problems with the ozone layer. Unfortunately, the Conservative government is not dealing seriously with these issues that will affect more than one parliament, the work we will do here during our four-year mandate. We are talking about the future, about our children. The Conservative government has a short-term vision. It is making decisions that will harm the people living on this planet in 10, 20 or 30 years. Cuts to Environment Canada for monitoring the ozone are troubling and worrying. Once again, the Conservatives are going in the wrong direction.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

3:45 p.m.

NDP

Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, in the hon. member's last, very fast minute, he touched on the issue of credit cards. In the election campaign, the NDP suggested putting a cap on credit card interest rates. Could he tell us how this could help families that have huge debts?

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

3:45 p.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague from Hochelaga for her question. Her riding is next to mine on the island of Montreal. I was beginning to address the topic of household and family debt, which is extremely worrisome. We in the NDP are not the only ones who are worried. A study conducted by Moody's said it does not make sense that Canadian families have a debt-to-income ratio of nearly 150%. That is huge. It seems to us that the Conservative government finds the debt problem staggering. However, our debt to GDP ratio is 32%, which is half the debt in OECD countries. We are doing relatively well here.

The government should worry a little less about the debt and make fewer cuts to public services, and instead help families that have huge, real debts that could bankrupt our economy if those people can no longer support consumer spending because of their debt. That is a very bad thing, in both the short and long term. Action must be taken and the NDP has made some suggestions, particularly the one my colleague just talked about.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

3:45 p.m.

Conservative

Michael Chong Wellington—Halton Hills, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am rising today to argue in favour of Bill C-13, which is the government's plan to keep Canada's economy growing and the job creation machine going.

It is very important that we take a step back and look at the government's overall economic action plan. We have been talking about specific elements in this plan, tax credits and other specific measures, but sometimes it is useful to take a step back and look at our overall plan, because every individual initiative in this plan is part of a much bigger plan to steer Canada's economy through what has been an unprecedented economic crisis that the world has been facing over the last 36 months.

Before I go on, I will mention that I am sharing my time with my colleague, who sits with me on the official languages committee, the member for Ottawa—Orléans.

Just over three years ago, which I remember well because we were in the middle of a federal election campaign, we witnessed some pretty unprecedented events that I have never been through in my lifetime, the kind of events that our grandparents talked about when they lived through the depression of the 1930s and the stock market crash that took place in the late 1920s. I felt like I was reliving the experiences of a generation that had gone before us. I do not think we have fully realized the results of this crisis and I think it will continue to unfold, not just in the coming weeks and months but in coming years. By the time this decade is out, I think we will be facing a very different global economic order.

The government has done a fantastic job of steering the Canadian economy through the last three years. When the recession and global financial crisis hit some 38 or 39 months ago, few could foretell the way things would unfold in the following months and years. Yet the government very quickly showed that it could be not only pragmatic but flexible. In the following six months, it worked with the provinces and our other partners in the federation to come forward with what is, arguably, the biggest investment plan since the end of the second world war. That plan, as we all know, was the first phase of Canada's economic action plan.

We delivered in some 24 months an unprecedented $60 billion in stimulus spending across this country, which played a critical role in ensuring that Canada did not slip into the kind of severe recession that we have seen in other countries, like the United States and Europe. Through the stimulus plan, we also delivered long-lasting benefits and record investments in universities and colleges across the country. As an MP from Ontario, I can say that the investments we made in Ontario's community colleges were the biggest made in that system since William G. Davis was minister of education in the 1960s and created the community college system. In the subsequent 50 years, we have never seen such a huge wave of investments into that community college system. That was delivered through the government stimulus plan, specifically through the knowledge infrastructure program.

We also ensured that the banks had credit facilities to swap out their mortgage portfolios with credit that the government would provide to ensure that the banks continued to lend throughout that time. We delivered fiscal stimulus through other measures, like enhancing the employment insurance program and introducing work sharing, which ensured that employers would not have to lay off workers in industries that had experienced severe slowdowns. We also extended a major loan and equity investment in General Motors and Chrysler, which ensured that the manufacturing industry in the heartland of Ontario would still be able to rely on the auto industry as a key component of that sector.

Those are some of the measures we made fiscally. We worked closely with the Governor of the Bank of Canada, Mark Carney. We gave the bank new legislative powers to expand its mandate so that it had all the tools available to respond to any monetary threats the country would face.

Over the last 36 months or so, the results are evident. We have created over 600,000 net new jobs in the country. Our unemployment rate in our country is significantly lower than in many of the other major advanced economies in the world. Our budget deficits are significantly lower than in many of the other major developed economies, both in North America and in Europe. These are some of the successes to which we can point.

Sometimes it is useful to look to outsiders outside of Canada to get a perspective on how well we have done in the last 36 months. Sometimes we can be pretty provincial in our country. We tend to not have the perspective that others who live outside of Canada might have, others who have seen what has gone on not just here but elsewhere.

I will quote what Standard and Poor's said recently when it reaffirmed Canada's triple-A credit rating. It said that our credit rating was due to our, “superior political and economic profile and strong flexibility and performance profile”. Other rating firms, such as Fitch and Moody's, have also reiterated our credit standing in the world.

The World Economic Forum, the very well-respected organization, has ranked Canada's banking system, for four years running, as the soundest in the world. As we all know, the banking system is the foundation for our economy. We just have to look at the banking crises that have taken place south of the border, in the United Kingdom and currently in continental Europe to realize how important it is that we maintain and regulate our banks properly.

However, we are not out of the woods. The fact is the crisis from outside our shores, both in the United States, which is failing to resolve its deficit and debt conundrum, where Congress has recently failed to come to an agreement through its congressional committee, which will trigger a default plan, and the events that are currently taking place in Europe, where the contagion in Greek sovereign debt markets is now starting to spread to Italy and possibly beyond to countries like Spain and France.

All these events show that we are not out of the woods yet and there remains significant risks to the downside. That is why it is incredibly important that we stay the course and that we implement the next phase of Canada's economic action plan. That is precisely what Bill C-13 would do. It would continue with the government's prudent, flexible and pragmatic approach to steering Canada's economy through this global crisis.

We have put specific measures in this budget. For example, we have implemented the hiring credit for small businesses, a commitment we made during the last election. We have put in place in this bill the regime to help simplify the collection of customs tariffs in order to facilitate and enhance cross-border trade. We are extending the accelerated capital cost allowance deductions for the manufacturing sector, which has been especially hit because of the global recession. We have also put in place measures to eliminate the mandatory retirement age for workers who work in federally regulated sectors.

These are some of the things that we have put in the bill that will allow us to build on the successes that Canada's first economic action plan have put in place.

We have also made permanent, in this legislation, the gas tax transfer to Canadian municipalities, some $2 billion a year to help them with their aging infrastructure and to ensure that they can continue to maintain the infrastructure that they have built over the last number of decades. We have enhanced the wage earner protection program to help workers affected by bankruptcies or receiverships.

These are some of the additional measures that we are putting in place because we remain focused on creating jobs and economic growth.

I want to finish by making this point. In the last election, our party, our candidates, our Prime Minister campaigned on one issue and one issue over every other issue. That was that we needed to stay the course economically, that we needed to keep implementing Canada's economic action plan, building on the successes of the first plan by putting in place the second phase of the plan so we could create jobs and economic growth for Canadian families.

This bill does exactly that, and I ask all hon. members of this House to support it.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

3:55 p.m.

NDP

Andrew Cash Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, the government did run on that platform and that is why most Canadians voted against it.

I want to read a small quote from one of the member's colleagues about closure. He referred to closure when he said, “It tells the people of Canada that the government is afraid of debate, afraid of discussion and afraid of publicly justifying the steps it has taken”. That was a quote by the Minister of Public Safety around closure.

Why is the government so afraid of debating this bill? I would argue that in part it is because we have the largest deficit in Canadian history. Perhaps the government does not want to focus Canada's attention on that glaring fact.

On another glaring fact, youth unemployment in our country is double the national average. Young people right across Canada are protesting that very fact. Yet we never hear the Conservative side of aisle talk about young people and employment. We hear about jobs, jobs, jobs, but the government never says whether the jobs are sustainable, whether one could raise a family—

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

Order, please. I would encourage all members when they are asking questions to look to the Chair for guidance in terms of what an appropriate length is for a question.

The hon. member for Wellington—Halton Hills.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

Michael Chong Wellington—Halton Hills, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am not sure if it is relevant to talk about time allocation. We are on the debate on Bill C-13, which is the budget act. Therefore, I will focus on the latter two comments that my colleague posed regarding youth issues.

The government has been focused on addressing the challenges that Canada's youth face. In fact, it is the reason why we have invested record amounts of money into Canada's post-secondary education system. As I mentioned earlier, and I know the member is a proud Torontonian, a proud Ontarian, the amount of money that we have invested in community colleges to help those students who want to enter skilled trades and other sectors of the workforce has been an unprecedented investment not seen since the Hon. William G. Davis created the community college system in the 1960s.

As for the deficit, I would clarify a point. It is not a record deficit in terms of the real deficit. If we measure the deficit in terms of a percentage of GDP, the deficits that we have experienced in the last three years are substantially lower than they were in the early 1990s. Measured in simple absolute dollar amounts, yes, they are at the highest number, but that is not a fair measure. On that measure, the average worker today is making about a thousand times more money than the average worker did some decades ago. We need to compare apples to apples. On the real measure of deficit to GDP, this is not a record deficit. In fact, it shows the government's prudence in this regard.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

4 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question has to do with health.

I strongly believe stem cell therapies represent a tremendous opportunity to improve and/or alleviate human suffering, reduce the economic burden of health care costs for Canadians and create new long-term jobs in the delivery of regenerative medicine. It is key to ensure that Canadians are the first to benefit from this Canadian discovery and have access to these new therapies in a safe, fair and timely manner.

Does the hon. member think that the federal government should increase financial support for stem cell research from basic science to early phase clinical trials to globally competitive levels?

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

4 p.m.

Conservative

Michael Chong Wellington—Halton Hills, ON

Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned before, we are investing record amounts into higher education in our country. In fact, if we look at the OECD measures on this file, the higher education research and development measure, which the OECD tracks for all member OECD countries, Canada ranks second only to Sweden in terms of the amount of money that we invest in Canada's universities and into research and development at those universities.

In answer to the member's question, any allocation of money through SSIRC, the Social Sciences and Humanities Council, NSERC and all the other bodies out there should be done on a peer reviewed basis. I do not think elected officials should be getting into the business of deciding which specific research projects should go ahead. That should be done by the scientists and researchers involved and done on a peer reviewed basis. That is the best way for the government to proceed.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

4 p.m.

Conservative

Royal Galipeau Ottawa—Orléans, ON

Mr. Speaker, first, I would like to thank my distinguished and hon. friend from Wellington—Halton Hills for sharing his time.

During the 41st general election, we all recognized that the economy continued to be a major issue for Canadians. In fact, this was the crucial reason for our success. The economy needs to be among our country's key priorities.

Despite this period of global economic uncertainty, Canada has one of the strongest fiscal positions of the major advanced economies of the world. While many countries' economies are slipping, Canada can say that it is creating employment. Here in the nation's capital, many jobs have been created in the past 12 months.

In October 2010, 505,400 Ottawa residents had work and the unemployment rate was at 6.9%. Helped by vibrant businesses in our solid and credible economic action plan, Ottawa is now turning the corner.

According to the latest figures from Statistics Canada, more than 13,000 jobs were created in Ottawa over the past year, resulting in a 1.3% drop in the unemployment rate.

Right now, our region is reaping the benefits of the current government's initiatives and efforts.

Ever since Canadians entrusted us with managing the nation's affairs 2,129 days ago, we have reduced the tax burden over 120 times. We have cut income taxes to 15% of the lowest income earners. We have taken more than one million Canadians completely off the tax rolls.

We have increased the amount that Canadians can earn without paying taxes and the average family in Ottawa—Orléans is saving over $3,000 through the current government's tax reduction plan.

Last Thursday I attended the People's Choice Business Award gala sponsored by the Orléans Chamber of Commerce to recognize outstanding businesses as chosen by their customers. Several award winners eloquently pointed out that Orléans was a vibrant and positive environment for small, medium and large businesses.

The actions taken by the Government of Canada have certainly played a key role in the economic vitality of our beautiful corner of this country.

However, the work is far from over. The strength of the global economy is threatened by unwise choices made beyond our borders. The next phase of Canada's economic action plan is designed to ensure our economic recovery for the good of all Canadians, both today and in the years to come, through a number of targeted measures.

Seniors are among my biggest concerns and on countless occasions I have visited these Canadians with invaluable experience at Club 60, le Rendez-vous des aînés, the Roy G. Hobbs Seniors Centre, the Gloucester Senior Adults' Centre and many other places. They will certainly be pleased to see what their government will be doing for them.

The government will implement a new tax credit of up to $2,000 for caregivers.

The GIS will be enhanced. Eligible low-income seniors will receive an additional annual benefit of up to $600 for single seniors and $840 for couples.

Finally, we want to remove the limit on the amount of eligible expenses caregivers can claim for their financially dependent relatives under the medical expense tax credit.

Seniors living in Ottawa—Orléans are very involved in their community and they volunteer their time. The district that I have the honour to represent here includes more than 300 community organizations and they will greatly benefit from our super volunteers.

As a servant of the people of Ottawa—Orléans in this place, I am pleased to note that the government wishes to invest an additional $10 million to promote volunteerism, mentorship and social participation of seniors. This amount will also help expand awareness of elder abuse, of which they sometimes fall victim.

Our young people will not be outdone: Ottawa—Orléans is an excellent place to raise a family, with young people aged 19 and under making up almost 27% of the population of Orléans.

Many of our brilliant young people attend well-established institutions, such as the University of Ottawa, Carleton University, Algonquin College and La Cité collégiale, which recently added a new campus in Orléans, just to name a few.

Two important organizations—the College Student Alliance and the Council of Ontario Universities—welcomed the 2011 budget.

On March 22, 2011, the Council of Ontario Universities wrote in a news release that it:

--applauds the federal government's 2011 budget, and its commitment of continued support and new investments which will help to sustain a robust pipeline of research. We are pleased in these tough economic times that the government continues to invest in university research as a critical driver of Canada's future prosperity and economic recovery--

The Council of Ontario Universities adds that this budget makes it clear that the Government of Canada believes strongly in the important role that research plays in driving positive economic and social outcomes for Canadians.

As well, I am sure that the Ottawa Police Service will be delighted with our $20 million investment to promote programs that help young people from joining street gangs or that help them quit. Ottawa, like many other major Canadian municipalities, is not immune to this terrible reality.

The young people of Ottawa—Orléans and I are deeply attached to the arts. Families will be pleased to see that their government is providing a 15% non-refundable tax credit on the first $500 of eligible fees for arts, cultural, recreational and child development activities.

As for our cities, I am sure that Ottawa City Council will be pleased that this government is putting into effect the annual investment in municipalities with the gas tax. Ottawa receives roughly $50 million per year from this annual investment of $2 billion.

Thanks to this money, the City of Ottawa can continue to improve services provided by OC Transpo. This should help reduce traffic on Highway 174, and the environment will ultimately come out the big winner of this investment.

In closing, I wish to point out that the keeping Canada's economy and jobs growing act, tabled by our friend the hon. Minister of Finance, is a credible and sustainable plan that will provide an added boost to the families of Ottawa--Orléans.

In this period of global economic uncertainty, I am convinced that the people of Orléans, like all Canadians, will have the tools to prosper.

Although we are faced with major challenges, the residents of Orléans, and the people of Canada, have shown that they are able to step up to the plate and keep moving forward. My maternal grandfather, the late Omer Lacasse, participated in the community work project that built the St. Joseph's church in Orléans 90 years ago.

The St. Isidore de Prescott arena was built in 1957 by volunteers from that police village over which my uncle, the late Raymond Galipeau, presided. Do members know how much that arena cost? It cost $3,001. That is less than 1% of the cost of arenas in those days.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau was right when he said that “Forced labour is less opposed to liberty than are taxes”.

There is an old saying, “Good workers have good tools”. With this plan, Canadians will have the right tools to build a strong, united and prosperous Canada.

I thank the House for its kind attention. I assure the House that I will hear my colleagues' questions with the same respect.