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

November 21st, 2011 / 12:05 p.m.

Conservative

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

12:05 p.m.

Saint Boniface
Manitoba

Conservative

Shelly Glover Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I would like to split my time with the member for Nipissing—Timiskaming.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

12:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

In order for the hon. parliamentary secretary to split her time, unanimous consent is required. Is there unanimous consent to allow her to split her time?

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

12:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

12:05 p.m.

Conservative

Shelly Glover Saint Boniface, MB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak in the House today at third reading of the keeping Canada's economy and jobs growing act.

Before continuing, I thank the House of Commons finance committee for its timely consideration and adoption of this important legislation. It represents an ambitious and positive response by our government to today's economic challenges, an approach that gives Canadians confidence that we are on the right track. Canadians know that our government is focused on what matters, and that is jobs and the economy.

Both the IMF and the OECD agree that Canada will have one of the fastest-growing economies in the G7 in 2011 and 2012. Approximately 600,000 net new jobs have been created since July 2009, and over 90% of these new jobs are full-time. Canada has the highest rate of employment growth in all the G7 countries. While the government recognizes that there are still too many Canadians looking for work, Canadians are doing relatively well when the difficulties other countries are having are taken into account. We must continue to implement our low-tax plan to protect the economy and create jobs, and this legislation will help us to meet our objectives.

Our plan has given Canadians more flexibility to improve their quality of life, even when times are tough. It leaves more money where it belongs, which is in the pockets of taxpayers. That is why the keeping Canada's economy and jobs growing act would provide targeted tax relief where it would be needed most to help Canadians.

For example, volunteer firefighters play a critical role in our communities and often put themselves at great risk to keep their neighbours safe. Almost 85,000 volunteer firefighters provide their services to protect the lives and property of Canadians living in both urban and rural communities across Canada. This bill recognizes their courageous service by introducing a new 15% tax credit on an amount of $3,000 for volunteer firefighters who perform at least 200 hours of service for their communities a year. Eligible volunteer firefighters who currently receive honoraria in respect of their duties will be able to choose between the new tax credit and the existing tax exemption of up to $1,000.

As a member of the finance committee, I have had the opportunity to hear from a number of witnesses as we have studied the bill. Indeed, John deHooge, fire chief for the city of Ottawa, told the committee:

“Canada's Fire Chiefs have been advocating for tax relief for the Volunteer Fire Service since 2003. The proposal adopted by the Government of Canada in Budget 2011 was the proposal that the CAFC had presented to the federal government...In our view, tax relief for Canada's volunteer firefighters is a key part of the solution to addressing the recruitment and retention challenges facing Canada's Volunteer Fire Service.

We would like to recognize the government for its commitment to pass this initiative into law....This measure will help with the recruitment and retention of volunteer firefighters across the country, which will in turn help protect Canadians and our communities”.

I want to take a moment to thank him for his service. I know he has put many decades into protecting the interests of Canadians.

This goes to show that our government is actively listening to the concerns of Canadians. While the Liberals and the NDP voted against this program, the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs have told us that this is a crucial measure to ensure the retention of volunteer firefighters, which will keep Canadian communities safe.

That is not all we have done to support Canadian communities and the families that sustain them. The keeping jobs and economy growing act recognizes the often daunting expenses facing parents trying hard to provide their children with the best possible opportunities for growth and development.

The arts are an important part of a well-rounded education that all too often are out of reach for hard-working families. Recognizing this challenge, the legislation contains a children's art tax credit, which provides parents with up to $500 per child in eligible fees for programs associated with arts, cultural, recreational and developmental activities that are not eligible for the existing children's fitness tax credit.

I am especially pleased to tell Canadians and members of the House that the age limit is extended to age 18 for children eligible for the disability tax credit and provides an additional $500 to acknowledge the additional costs of these programs for children with special needs. This measure builds on our government's strong record of helping parents and their children.

The 2007 children's fitness tax credit, which provides tax relief for fees paid for children's physical fitness activities, has already become a very big hit. Close to 1.4 million children benefit from the children's fitness tax credit each year. I am pretty confident that the children's arts tax credit will have the same positive impact on Canadian families.

So far Canadian parents, who pay hundreds of dollars for music lessons each year across Canada, have expressed their support for this program, not to mention the local small businesses that provide the lessons. It is really helping to give an extra push to encourage the arts.

In the words of Sam Mills, an Edmonton dad, “I would do it anyway but maybe definitely we would do it for the whole year instead of just half the year”.

Listen to Regina to what music teacher, Bob Mossing, whose School of Music will really be positively impacted by the credit, has to say, “This is could be the life saver of our program”.

The next phase of Canada's economic action plan provides even more support for families. Overall, families have gained from the tax relief our government has provided to all Canadians since 2006. Those tax relief measures include the GST reduction to 5% from 7% and popular personal income tax relief measures like the tax-free savings account.

Through our strong record of tax relief, the average family saves over $3,000 a year; however, our Conservative government recognizes that some Canadian families need more help.

That is why the next phase of Canada's economic action plan includes a number of key measures to help Canadian families, in particular, a 15% family caregiver tax credit on an amount of $2,000 for caregivers of all types of infirm dependent relatives, including, for the first time, spouses, common-law partners and minor children.

I am proud that caregivers support this measure. The Canadian Home Care Association said, “In introducing tax credits for family caregivers and improving the medical expense tax credit, the federal government is responding to the reality that Canadians want to remain independent at home for as long as possible.”

In conclusion, the Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act helps to support Canada's economic recovery. Our government is focusing on the issues that are important to Canadians: job creation and economic growth.

I urge all members to support this vital legislation in order to ensure the success of our economic recovery for Canadians and their families. I look forward to questions from my colleagues across the way.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

12:10 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, the government implemented this through a ways and means motion a few months ago. What the member has said, although I respect her right to speak in the House on the bill, is simply not true. What we have seen over the past few weeks is considerable economic hardship for an increasing number of Canadian families. In the month of October, as members well know, 72,000 Canadian families lost a full-time breadwinner. That is a catastrophic figure. The finance committee was told that by some of the economists who visited a few days ago. They said that the loss of jobs was at recession levels.

The government has created less than 200,000 jobs since May 2008. The unfortunate fact, as members are well aware, is the labour market actually grew by 450,000 job seekers. Therefore, the government is actually 250,000 jobs behind from just standing still.

Given all that, will the government change its orientation from what is an austerity budget, which would cut services from middle class and poor Canadians, and rethink its economic agenda, because it is clearly not working?

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

Shelly Glover Saint Boniface, MB

Mr. Speaker, unfortunately my colleague is absolutely wrong on all counts. He talks about catastrophes. If we look at what has happened since the recession, had the government not put in place all these measures that helped to produce jobs in our country, measures like the accelerate capital cost allowance that helps businesses create jobs, there would not have been 600,000 jobs created.

If it were up to the NDP, there would have been major catastrophes. It would have taxed corporations $10 billion more, which would have cost hundreds of thousands of jobs. It would have increased the GST from its current 5% to 7%, or even more. That would have cost Canadians more money for everything, from groceries, to clothes, to all of their personal needs. If we had listened to the NDP, we would be looking at a doubling of the CPP. Even for the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, which is a big producer, representing small businesses that create jobs, its CPP costs would have increased by 60% to 70% . It would have been catastrophic to our country and we would never have survived the way we have.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
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12:15 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, I listened closely to the member's remarks. The fact is, and it states so in a November 17 article in the National Post, that federal spending has been up 22% since the Prime Minister took power. However, the spending watchdog says, “the large increase in expenditures over the past five years can be attributed to the economic downturn but also to a minority Parliament for most of that time”, meaning the Conservatives are trying to buy an election. “You've had a lot of instability and historically, [governments] spend like a drunken sailor in minority”, says the federal director of Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

Given all that spending, what worries me is that the gap between the rich and the poor is increasing, and it shows through in everything the government does.

The member went on at great length about the volunteer firefighters tax credit, but it is not a refundable tax credit. If a person does not have money, then the tax credit does not apply to him or her. Why not be fair? Is a firefighter who is—

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

Order, please. The hon. parliamentary secretary.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

Shelly Glover Saint Boniface, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am not going to thank my colleague for the question this time because it is about the third time the Liberals have asked this very same question. It just brings up the hypocrisy of that party. The hypocrisy exists because firefighters have been asking for years to have this very tax credit put forward. The 13 years that the Liberals were in power, they did absolutely nothing to address the concerns. In fact, the fire chief, who was in committee, said very clear this was exactly the tax credit for which they asked. Where the Liberals denied them year after year of any kind of tax benefit, not a single measure, we are doing it exactly the way they asked us to and we are going to be proud of it.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

Jay Aspin Nipissing—Timiskaming, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-13 and sharing my time with the parliamentary secretary this morning.

It is a privilege to contribute to this debate and speak in support of Bill C-13, keeping Canada's economy and jobs growing act, which is the next phase of Canada's economic action plan. This bill will support Canada's economic recovery and promote job creation. It will support communities and invest in education and training. It will help Canadian families and respect their hard-earned tax dollars.

The bill is a low tax plan for jobs and economic growth. It is a continuation of the sensible fiscal policy that remains at the heart of our Conservative government's economic agenda. Our government is focused on what matters to Canadians, creating jobs and promoting economic growth.

While we see so much financial instability in governments around the world, Canada has become a leader on the international economic stage. We have the strongest job creation record in the G8. Close to 600,000 net new jobs have been created since July 2009. We have renewed our triple A credit rating, and according to the International Monetary Fund, the IMF, we will have the strongest economic growth in the G8 and G7 over the next two years. Forbes magazine has ranked Canada as the best country in the world to do business. I can assure the House, one of the most important things to the people of my riding is to be gainfully employed.

The Canadian economy is intimately connected with the economies of the world and we must remain aware of the fragile economic situation in Europe and the United States. We are not isolated from potential economic problems that remain outside our borders. That is why we must stay the course and implement the next phase of Canada's economic action plan.

Bill C-13 will promote Canadian job creation and economic growth. The hiring credit is precisely what small businesses have been calling for. The one time credit of up to $1,000 will be the catalyst for additional hiring, not only in my riding of Nipissing--Timiskaming but for small businesses throughout Canada.

Not only are we creating new jobs, we are enhancing programs to help businesses keep the workers currently employed through initiatives such as the work sharing program, the wage earner protection program, and the targeted initiative for older workers.

Small businesses are the engine of job creation in this country and our Conservative government is delivering results to them. Our Conservative government is also supporting the Canadian manufacturing sector. We are extending the accelerated capital cost allowance for two years, so that companies can write off investment in manufacturing and processing machinery and equipment. This will allow them to grow their businesses and to procure top of the line equipment that will bring them to the forefront of international technological innovation. In an era of economic uncertainty, this tax measure gives manufacturers the confidence to invest in their future.

Bill C-13 is also doing more to support local communities. We are putting into law a permanent annual investment of $2 billion in the gas tax fund in order to provide predictable long-term infrastructure funding for municipalities. This is something municipalities have been asking for year after year. They want to know they have the source of funding to do the many projects that are necessary to provide the infrastructure for continued economic growth. Making this investment permanent and annual will benefit the many towns and communities in my riding of Nipissing--Timiskaming and in the ridings from coast to coast to coast.

Our Conservative government is also enhancing the wage earner protection program, so that workers are covered and protected from employer bankruptcy and receivership. This is a program that has been very well received and utilized.

Our Conservative government also recognizes the economic benefits that come with investing in education and training. We are supporting universities, colleges, skilled trades and apprenticeship programs.

This legislation forgives student loans for new doctors and nurses in underserved rural and remote areas. A portion of the federal component of their Canada student loans, $40,000 for doctors and $20,000 for nurses, will be forgiven so that these doctors and nurses can practice and support the rural communities of our country that need them the most.

This will ensure that rural and remote communities, such as those in my riding of Nipissing—Timiskaming get the adequate medical services they deserve and require.

This is a plan that will support Canada's economic recovery and promote job creation. It is a plan that will support communities and invest in education and training. It is a plan that will help Canadian families and respect their hard-earned tax dollars.

This is a low tax plan for jobs and economic growth, and I support it.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

12:25 p.m.

NDP

Raymond Côté Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to the hon. member's speech.

As I have already said in this House, job creation is of great concern to me.

The government can trot out raw numbers and brag about them, but the fact remains that when we take a closer look at the numbers, there are some disparities. The raw numbers do not necessarily reflect the quality of those jobs. When I look at the job creation measure for small businesses in the government's bill, I see another measure that, unfortunately, is missing the mark. Instead of applying to every job created, this measure can apply to companies that fail to create any jobs and just tweak their employment insurance contributions.

I would like the hon. member to tell me why the government is not trying to integrate our job creation proposal into this bill, because it would apply to every job created, instead of allowing companies to get money illegitimately.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

Jay Aspin Nipissing—Timiskaming, ON

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member cannot get picayune about this. We have to look at the broader economic picture and our record. The proof is in the pudding: 600,000 net new jobs have been created.

The IMF indicate that we are among the best in the world. Forbes recognizes that Canada is the best place to do business. The NDP plan would simply add $10 billion in taxes to Canadians. If we were to follow that course, we would be in the shape of Greece, or possibly Italy or Spain.

Clearly, our plan is the right plan and our plan is working.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

12:25 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, the parliamentary secretary who spoke previously took a lot of liberties when she was responding to questions. The Liberal Party has always stood for volunteer firefighters. I had private members' bills in the House many times on that issue.

I have to ask the member who just spoke, is this Conservative member suggesting, on the volunteer firefighters bill, that a volunteer firefighter who does not have the income, who does not meet the threshold, is less deserving of a refundable tax credit than someone with money?

If the service is done, a firefighter deserves the refund. Is the member saying that lower income volunteer firefighters should be disregarded, that their service is not as valuable as those with money? Is that what he is saying?

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Government Orders

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

Jay Aspin Nipissing—Timiskaming, ON

Mr. Speaker, all volunteer firefighters deserve this tax credit. The hon. member said he had a bill. I guess his caucus did not support it.

As I mentioned, this is part of a full package to get our economy working. It is working. The first phase of this work generated all kinds of jobs. It generated accolades from all over the world. We cannot get picayune on this.

Our plan is working. It is the right plan for Canadians. We are proud of our plan and we are going to move on to the second phase of Canada's economic action plan.