House of Commons Hansard #126 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was tax.

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A message from His Excellency the Governor General transmitting supplementary estimates (C) for the financial year ending March 31, 2011, was presented by the President of the Treasury Board and read by the Speaker to the House.

National Strategy for Serious Injury Reduction in Amateur Sport Act
Routine Proceedings

February 8th, 2011 / 10 a.m.

NDP

Glenn Thibeault Sudbury, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-616, An Act respecting a national strategy to reduce the incidence of serious injury in amateur sport.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to stand in the House today to introduce a bill that represents an important first step in addressing the serious concussion epidemic plaguing our sports community. This bill is the result of a great deal of research and consultation with the sports, health and academic communities.

This bill is entitled an act respecting a national strategy to reduce the incidence of serious injury in amateur sport. If passed, the bill will create a national sports injury surveillance and data collection system, establish substantive concussion guidelines, including a sufficient deterrent mechanism to ensure athletes are not being returned to play against expressed medical recommendations, create a national strategy and educational standards for coaches and other persons involved in amateur sport, and institute incentivized funding guidelines to assist amateur sports organizations in implementing these protocols.

I encourage all members to support the bill. I encourage the government to review the contents of the bill and consider what is being asked. The government has an opportunity to take a leadership role on this public health crisis and I hope for the sake of our young athletes that it rises to the challenge.

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

Justice for Victims Terrorism Act
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Stockwell Day Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

moved for leave to introduce Bill S-7, An Act to deter terrorism and to amend the State Immunity Act.

(Motion deemed adopted and bill read the first time)

Neurological Diseases
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Denise Savoie Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present two petitions that Victorians have signed because of the diligent efforts of Chris Groot, an 18-year-old student at St. Michaels University in Victoria, to help more than 100,000 Canadians suffering from Parkinson's diseases and other neurological diseases.

The petitioners note the growing gravity of these conditions and are asking the government to increase federal funding for the prevention of neurological diseases and for a cure for Parkinson's disease.

Multiple Sclerosis
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Denise Savoie Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have a third petition signed by 70 of my constituents who are asking the government to accelerate the efforts to make the CCSVI treatment available to Canadians suffering from multiple sclerosis.

Afghanistan
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, my petition deals with Canada's military involvement in Afghanistan.

As we all know, in May 2008, Parliament passed a resolution to withdraw the forces by July 2011. The Prime Minister, with the agreement of the Liberal Party, broke his oft-repeated promise to honour the parliamentary motion and, furthermore, refuses to put it to a vote in the House.

Committing 1,000 soldiers to a training mission still presents a danger to our troops and an unnecessary expense when our country is faced with a $56 billion deficit. The military mission has cost Canadians more than $18 billion so far, money that could have been used to improve health care and seniors pensions right here in Canada.

In fact, polls show that a clear majority of Canadians do not want Canada's military presence to continue after the scheduled removal date of July 2011. Therefore, the petitions call upon the Prime Minister to honour the will of Parliament and bring the troops home now.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre
Saskatchewan

Conservative

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

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

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

The Speaker

Is that agreed.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Opposition Motion--Tax Rate for Large Corporations
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Kings—Hants, NS

moved:

That, in the opinion of the House, the Government’s decision to proceed with cuts to the tax rate for large corporations fails to address the economic needs of Canadian families, and this House urges the Government to reverse these corporate tax cuts and restore the tax rate for large corporations to 2010 levels in the upcoming Budget.

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time today with the member from Brossard—La Prairie.

The Liberal Party has a history of prudent fiscal management and balanced budgets. Under the previous Liberal government, deficits that had persisted for decades were finally eliminated by Prime Minister Chrétien and finance minister, Paul Martin. The books were balanced and Canada posted nine consecutive surpluses.

The Chrétien and Martin governments put prudent financial measures in place, including the $3 billion annual contingency reserve, otherwise known as the rainy day fund. We made sound investments in public infrastructure, in research and development and in people. The Liberals listened to and worked with the provinces. Historic health and social transfer agreements were reached, giving the provinces long-term, predictable funding that enabled them to make investments and provide the services that Canadian families and our aging population needed.

Within this environment of sound fiscal management, the Liberals cut personal and corporate income taxes. I believe in personal and corporate income tax cuts and so does the Liberal Party. In fact, the Liberals cut the corporate income tax rate from 28% to 21% in four years as part of the largest income tax cut in Canadian history. However, as Liberals we did so sensibly, during times of surplus, never risking the public treasury or the programs that Canadian families depended on.

What a difference five years under the Conservatives has made.

When the Conservatives were elected, they inherited a surplus of $13 billion from the Liberal government. But after increasing spending by 18% in three years—three times higher than the inflation rate—the Conservatives plunged Canada into a deficit before the financial crisis even hit.

They increased the size of government by a whopping 40% in just four years while, at the same time, with their ill-advised, economically stupid tax policy, they gutted the government's capacity to pay for the programs that it was spending on. The Conservatives borrowed and spent their way toward a record $56 billion deficit, the largest in Canadian history.

While the finance minister is now promising to balance the books by 2015-16, the truth is that he has no credible plan to get Canada there. It is no wonder that the Parliamentary Budget Officer and the IMF both report that the finance minister will not be able to keep his word and balance the books.

In fact, after five years of the Conservatives' borrow and spend agenda, the IMF and the PBO believe that the Conservatives have given Canada a structural deficit. Structural deficits are bad for business. They create uncertainty. With ballooning debt levels, the public's ability to sustain investments in infrastructure and social programs like health care and education are imperiled. Persistent deficits also create higher taxes for the future as tax bills get deferred and higher interest costs are factored in. The best thing that the government can do to improve the business climate in Canada is to get back to balanced budgets.

We must bring Canada back to a balanced budget.

There is also a moral imperative for the government to prepare for the large demographic shift facing our country and its people. We have a rapidly aging population that will place greater demands on our health care system. At the same time, more and more Canadians are looking to retire, at least those who can afford to, so there will be fewer people in the labour force paying taxes.

Under the Conservatives, we are also seeing both higher unemployment numbers and, at the same time, higher labour shortages. We have jobs without people and people without jobs. The need to invest in learning and training has never been greater.

With record deficits, an aging population, increased demands on health care and education and a shrinking tax base, this is no time for the Conservatives to gut Canada's fiscal capacity with corporate tax cuts on borrowed money, corporate tax cuts we simply cannot afford right now.

As cost-sharing agreements with the provinces get ready to expire in 2014, why are the Conservatives gutting the federal government's fiscal capacity now, right before negotiations are set to start with the provinces on important health care and social transfers?

There is no pressing need to cut corporate taxes further at this time. Canada already has a competitive corporate tax rate. It is 25% lower than the U.S. rate and the second lowest in the G7.

It is also clear that corporate tax cuts are not always the most effective way to create jobs. The Conservatives' own numbers show that when it comes to creating jobs and economic growth over the last two years, a dollar spent on public infrastructure has been eight times more effective than a dollar spent on corporate tax cuts.

Last week, the chief economic analyst at Statistics Canada, Philip Cross, described any impact of further corporate tax cuts on Canada's economy as “trivial” and “relatively small”, given the huge flow of money driven by other forces.

With Canada's weakened fiscal position under the Conservatives, coupled with the fact that Canada's corporate tax rate is already comparatively low, it is bad policy for the government to borrow even more money to pay for further corporate tax cuts we do not need and cannot afford at this time. We are calling on the government to restore the corporate tax rates to 2010 levels so that we can balance the budget and invest in the government programs that Canadian families depend on.

Right now, Canadian families are finding it difficult just to make ends meet. Canadian families are paying 29% more for out-of-pocket health care expenses. Over 40% of family care givers are using personal savings just to get by, just to survive.

Under the Conservatives, household debt is at a record high. The typical Canadian family now owes $1.50 for every dollar of disposable income. Personal bankruptcy rates are up by 33%. Students are also facing a personal debt wall as nearly two-thirds of parents think they will not be able to afford post-secondary education for their children, and 16% of low income students already plan to delay their education because of high student debt.

That is why the Liberals would cancel the most recent corporate income tax cut and use that money to reduce the deficit, put us back into surplus and to invest in the priorities of Canadians, helping Canadians with the rising cost of living, family care giving, saving for retirement and access to post-secondary education.

The Conservative finance minister has in the past supported delaying planned corporate tax cuts. In 2002, as an Ontario cabinet minister, the minister voted to delay corporate tax cuts that he himself had announced the year before. He did so because of a financial downturn related to what he referred to as “extraordinary circumstances”.

The Conservatives' record deficits and fiscal mismanagement have once again presented Canada with extraordinary circumstances. That is why I moved the motion, which reads:

That, in the opinion of the House, the government's decision to proceed with cuts to the tax rate for large corporations fails to address the economic needs of Canadian families, and this House urges the government to reverse these corporate tax cuts and restore the tax rate for large corporations to 2010 levels in the upcoming budget.

Opposition Motion--Tax Rate for Large Corporations
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:15 a.m.

Oshawa
Ontario

Conservative

Colin Carrie Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for his speech. However, I most certainly disagree with what he is proposing. As a matter of fact, I would like to quote a member of this House who said:

—we cannot increase corporate taxes without losing corporate investment. If we lose corporate investment, we have a less productive economy.... That means fewer jobs. That means more poverty.

Would members like to know who said that? It was the member for Kings—Hants.

I come from Oshawa, and right now our largest employer, General Motors, is just coming out of a bankruptcy and is restructuring. In Ontario's economy there are many manufacturing corporations that, as we speak, need every ounce of those dollars to reinvest in productivity. They need those dollars to reinvest in pensions and benefits.

I ask the member if he disagrees with Ontario's finance minister, Dwight Duncan, who said that scrapping such a big slice of corporate tax cuts would hurt the fragile economic recovery by raising taxes on the struggling forestry and automotive sectors. He stated:

It is about the most short-sighted, dumb public policy pronouncement one can envision.

He said that just two weeks ago.

Opposition Motion--Tax Rate for Large Corporations
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal Party certainly believes in competitive corporate tax rates. That is why the Liberal government, under Paul Martin and Jean Chrétien, cut corporate taxes from 29% to 21% during times of surplus.

It is a fundamentally different argument to cut corporate taxes during times of surplus, when we can afford to do so, and to cut corporate taxes during times of record deficits, when we clearly cannot afford to. That is the difference between cutting corporate taxes in the past, when we had those surpluses, and today.

Today we need to protect Canada's fiscal capacity to invest in the priorities of Canadians in the future. The reality is that putting Canada further into debt today to cut the corporate taxes of some of the most profitable corporations in Canada will not create more jobs, but will create more debt and lead to higher taxes in the future.

It is morally wrong to pay for today's tax cuts on borrowed money, which will force the next generations of Canadians to pay higher taxes for reduced services. It is bad economics and that is why we are defending the Canadian people against this kind of misguided economic policy of the Conservatives.

Opposition Motion--Tax Rate for Large Corporations
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:20 a.m.

Bloc

Guy André Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, thank you for recognizing me.

Just recently, I was reading some statistics that showed that the annual profit of the six major banks in Canada totalled over $20 billion in 2010. That is an increase of $6 billion compared to the previous year.

This Conservative government is going after the middle class and the least fortunate. It continues to lower taxes for major corporations at the expense of funding and improving the employment insurance system for the unemployed, helping low-income seniors with the guaranteed income supplement and indexing funds for seniors. A number of measures to help the middle class and the least fortunate just are not there. The government is simply increasing the profits of the major banks and the oil industry.

I have a question for the member. When will we see a real change in these policies, knowing that the Liberals did the same thing in 2003 by supporting tax cuts for the oil industry?

Opposition Motion--Tax Rate for Large Corporations
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:20 a.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Kings—Hants, NS

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

It is clear that the well-being of Canada's middle class is not a priority for the Conservatives. We believe that it is also important to make investments for seniors, particularly in light of current demographic changes. There will be more seniors, and it is very important to invest in our health care system now, across Canada, and to be prepared to invest more in the future, particularly with the accord negotiations in 2014. It is very important to work with the provincial governments to make investments.

Opposition Motion--Tax Rate for Large Corporations
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:20 a.m.

Liberal

Alexandra Mendes Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I wish to thank the member for Kings—Hants for sharing his time with me.

I am pleased to rise today to talk about choices. We are here to talk about choosing between corporate tax cuts and helping Canadian families. We are here to talk about a government that does not govern but simply strives for more power.

We are here to talk about what is important to Canadians, because on this side of the House we are listening to Canadians. We are listening to their wants and their needs.

We are here to talk about corporate tax cuts. Are they something Canadians want? Are they something Canadians need?

Canada cannot afford to give big corporations $6 billion in tax cuts because of a record $56 billion deficit caused by the Conservatives. I believe in competitive corporate tax rates. Liberal governments cut corporate tax rates from 28% to 19% when we had a budget surplus.

The Conservatives had led Canada into a deficit situation even before the recession started, and with a deficit of $56 billion we cannot afford to borrow billions of dollars more in order to give tax cuts to Canada’s big corporations.

Education and innovation, foreign investment, energy efficiency, environmental innovation, better Canada-United States relations and a credible approach to budget cuts are key elements in our plan for the Canadian economy in the medium term.

But our immediate economic priorities start and end with reducing the tax burden on middle-class Canadian families because they are facing ever-growing demands in terms of caring for family members, pensions, post-secondary education and sustained employability.

After five years under the Conservatives, the situation of Canadian families has not improved in any way, and $21 billion for the untendered purchase of stealth fighter planes, megaprisons and tax cuts for big corporations will certainly not bring them any relief.

Reducing corporate taxes now is irresponsible and costly. Unlike in 2007, when these taxes were voted on, Canada now has a $56 billion deficit and has piled up over $200 billion in new debt because of the utter and complete incompetence of this government. These additional tax cuts for big corporations will have to be paid for with borrowed money.

More tax cuts for corporations are not necessary. Last year, the Bank of Canada said the income tax rate in Canada was the most attractive in the world. In Canada, corporate taxes have been cut by 35% in recent years, and we now have the second-lowest rate in the G7, after the United Kingdom. Our rate is 25% lower than the rate in the United States.

In fact, the Conservatives are raising taxes. When the government wants to give tax cuts to big corporations in Canada, it raises employment insurance premiums, and this means it raises the tax burden on small businesses. The Conservatives simply do not understand. They raise the payroll taxes on all employers and employees, which eliminates jobs, while cutting the tax rate for big corporations.

The Conservatives are not offering tax cuts for small business. In reality, their $6 billion in tax cuts will not apply to 95% of the 2.2 million companies carrying on business in Canada. These tax cuts are not a viable proposition. The Department of Finance has said that tax cuts are not an effective way of creating jobs and contributing to the growth of the economy in the short term. Supporting infrastructure, housing and families is a much more effective way of encouraging growth and job creation.

The Liberals know that middle-class families are in a difficult situation. They are having problems with debt levels and the rising cost of living, caring for family members, saving for retirement and access to post-secondary education. These are the priorities the Liberals are focusing on. The Conservatives have ignored these issues and chosen instead to spend billions of dollars of taxpayers’ money on fighter planes without a bidding process and on tax cuts for big corporations.

After five years of Conservative government, Canadians' lives have gone downhill. Canada is no longer as fair, the rich are getting richer and middle-class families' incomes have plateaued. Families are facing mounting pressure. Their breaking point is not far off.

The Liberals will make different choices and stand up for Canadian families and their priorities. We will cancel the $16 billion agreement in principle for fighter jets, and will save billions of dollars by holding an open, competitive tendering process to replace the CF-18 aircraft.

The Liberal's approach to the deficit will be credible and effective. Within the first two years of a Liberal government, the deficit will be reined in to 1% of GDP. This will be further reduced every year until a balanced budget is restored. The Liberals will re-establish an economic prudence fund as part of the budget process so as to provide a cushion as we set out to meet our objectives.

The Liberals will control spending and work with the public service to identify targeted and sustainable efficiencies. We will refrain from proposing anything in our upcoming platform that cannot be financed without increasing the deficit.

The Liberal Party intends to promote equal opportunities for middle-class families under its Liberal family care plan so that caregivers will no longer have to leave the labour market in order to look after their loved ones. The Liberal Party also intends to reduce the cost of post-secondary education and occupational training so that Canadians have access to full-time, highly skilled, well-paid jobs in a competitive global marketplace. The Liberal Party intends to increase the number of early childhood education and child care spaces so that parents have an opportunity to remain at work while their children are in reliable, good quality child care. The Liberal Party will also propose a voluntary supplement to the Canada Pension Plan so that the 75% of private-sector wage earners who do not have a retirement plan have access to one that is simple and inexpensive.

We will cancel the tax breaks the Conservative government gave to big corporations and we will freeze the rate of taxation at 2010 levels. Canada's corporate tax rates are already among the lowest of the G8 countries and are 25% below the rates in the United States. The Liberals will reinvest these savings in order to reduce the deficit and meet the priorities of Canada's middle-class families: pensions, education, health care and family care. There are real challenges facing working families. The Liberal Party will fight for these priorities.

Choosing families over large corporations is a matter of principle that Liberals will not barter away. We are calling on all parties to take a principled stand against billions in more tax cut giveaways during a time of deficit, money that would be better directed toward relieving the burden of middle-class families.

The Conservatives have delivered nothing to ease the burden on middle-class families. Instead, the government has refused to budge from its original plan of adding to its record deficit in order to pay for more corporate tax breaks that we cannot afford right now. Liberals continue to call for measures in the upcoming budget that would alleviate the economic pressures on Canadian families struggling with record personal debt, measures such as support for family care and post-secondary education and pension reform.

I am disappointed that the Conservatives ignored our advice to stop borrowing money to cut taxes for our largest corporations. Now it falls to the other opposition parties to take a principled stand in favour of middle-class families by refusing to support the Conservatives' unaffordable tax cut plan.

My party and I are listening to Canadians and we have heard that they do not want corporate tax cuts. They do not need corporate tax cuts. Now the question is: Will the government govern or will it continue to push for more power while ignoring the needs of Canadian families?