House of Commons Hansard #7 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was riding.

Topics

Financial Statement of the Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

12:55 p.m.

Bloc

André Bellavance Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, I also want to welcome the hon. member who gave her first speech.

We have heard the NDP talk at length about the problems with health care and waiting lists, whether in emergency rooms or for surgery. The NDP also talked about this during the election campaign.

The hon. member says she wants to work with all the hon. members of this House on improving life for the general public. Can she tell me what tangible ideas she and her party have that will improve the health care system in Quebec and elsewhere in Canada? I do not need to tell the hon. member that health is an exclusive jurisdiction of the provinces.

The hon. member and the NDP are saying that we must help improve health care. How can the federal Parliament get involved in these matters in any tangible way when it is the provinces, Quebec in my case, that have the means—or should have the means—to ensure that health care is improved?

Financial Statement of the Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

1 p.m.

NDP

Isabelle Morin Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his question. I would also like to congratulate him on his election.

I believe that my colleague already answered this question. Federal transfers help hospitals. In my riding, one hospital serves all the constituents. The waiting lists are appalling. There is also a new expansion project for the McGill University Health Centre. Consequently, more doctors will want to work at a new centre with more advanced technology. It is a great benefit for the people of my riding.

To provide tangible assistance to the provinces, we can give them money to help doctors become specialists, to speed up the process for recognizing the foreign credentials of family doctors so they can practice sooner, and we can ensure that there are better working conditions for hospital staff. We know that there is a brain drain to the United States. This problem is caused by the fact that working conditions in Canada are not good enough. I believe that we must work with the provinces to improve working conditions. Thus, we would have more doctors and more adequate health care for everyone.

Financial Statement of the Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

1 p.m.

Conservative

James Lunney Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to be engaging in this debate on budget 2011. I would first like to indicate that I will be splitting my time with the member for Calgary Northeast.

This budget was first introduced on March 23 in the 40th Parliament. We all know what happened at that time. The opposition parties avoided a vote on the budget by forcing an unwanted election, but it turns out it was an election that reshaped the political landscape. It proved to be politically costly for two of the three leaders. Mr. Ignatieff of course and Mr. Duceppe not only lost their own seats, but one lost official party status and the other party returned with a severely diminished caucus.

On May 2, Canadians returned to the 41st Parliament with a solid, stable, national Conservative government and an NDP official opposition. It was a surprise to some people. However, I find it interesting that in evaluating the electoral prospects the high school students apparently had it figured out before the pundits did. They selected a Conservative majority government with an NDP official opposition.

Allow me to express my congratulations to you as Assistant Deputy Speaker, to the Speaker and to the other Assistant Deputy Speaker, as well as to the Deputy Speaker on their elections and appointments.

I would also like to congratulate all of the members who returned to this House. It is an honour for them to represent the ridings that they come from.

As well, I would like to thank the electors in Nanaimo—Alberni for returning me for the fifth time to this 41st Parliament.

I would be remiss if I did not recognize my campaign manager and campaign team who worked diligently and my EDA board.

At our recent policy convention there were five resolutions from Nanaimo—Alberni brought up for discussion and two that actually passed into policy. There were very enthusiastic supporters from Nanaimo—Alberni. I thank them all for their participation in the process.

One thing that we heard from the caucus members, cabinet ministers and party activists at the convention that we took to heart is that we all have an obligation to engage our neighbours, to listen, to take the pulse of our communities and to stay in tune with what is happening in our communities. We are facing unprecedented change, not only in Canada but around the world and it will be incumbent upon all of us to ensure that we stay in tune with how these impacts are affecting our communities. I thank all of those folks who were responsible for that.

One other person I must thank is my wife of some 20 years now. These last 11 years in Parliament have been a big challenge for someone from the west coast who is travelling back and forth. We are away a lot from the island of paradise that we live on. Helen has stood by me faithfully all of the years I have been in Parliament. All members would know the level of stress that the commitment to our job can put on our families. I thank Helen for standing with me, for without her it would not have been possible.

This budget was well received on March 23. In fact, it was so well received that the finance minister thought he would introduce it again and on June 6 that is what he did.

There are many measures in the budget that we can discuss and that have been discussed today. There will be more to discuss as the debate continues.

One of the measures I want to highlight is the one involving seniors. Since coming to Parliament we have reduced the tax burden on seniors significantly. Over $2.3 billion has been given in annual tax relief since 2006 with the various measures that we have introduced taking some 85,000 seniors off the tax rolls. That includes pension income splitting, increasing the age credit amount by $1,000 twice for a total of $2,000 and doubling the pension income credit to $2,000. All of these measures together, along with increasing the guaranteed income supplement, are extremely important in lowering the tax burden on seniors.

I have heard some members say that the $600 a year for singles and the $840 for a married couple of the lowest income seniors amounts to nothing. I think they are remiss in not reflecting on the cumulative effect in shifting the tax burden away from seniors and doing our best to help our most vulnerable seniors.

There are many measures in the budget: a new children's arts tax credit of up to $500, a new family caregiver tax credit, a volunteer firefighters tax credit and extending the eco-energy retrofit. All of these are important for our communities. All of these benefit our communities. In some sectors of the community it takes the burden off people who contribute in a big way, like our volunteers firefighters.

I want to turn the children's fitness tax credit which was introduced earlier. It is only a $500 measure to help encourage people to engage their children in physical fitness. Many experts are concerned about the declining health of Canadians and we have to start with the children. It is a small measure, but it is a good measure. As we get to balanced budgets in the next few years, reducing that deficit year by year, we have a plan that is working. We will extend that measure, doubling it for children and extending it to adults as well.

I want to comment on that briefly. As a health professional for many years and a chiropractor for 24 years, a body man, I want to remind members that the human body has some 80 trillion to 100 trillion cells, some 200 different cell types and 25,000 miles of blood vessels. These cells do not last an entire lifetime. They are being replaced on a continual basis. There is some speculation. The exception is the nervous system, which is actually original equipment. Most of that is here for life and we had better protect it. We are replacing cells on a daily basis. Every 7 to 10 years, every bone cell is replaced.

This is relevant to the budget. Hon. members should be listening. They will enjoy this. When my wife and I are on the cycle path, when we are exercising, pushing the limits and pushing our bodies, we get a little tired sometimes. I encourage her by saying that it is tomorrow's body we are pushing for. It is today's activities that actually set the template for tomorrow's body.

In a similar manner the nutrition, the food we eat contributes to the body we are building for tomorrow. I hope as we move forward and as we are looking for sustainable solutions to our health care challenges that there will be more emphasis on wellness initiatives, more things that encourage positive health management on a personal health level and more incentives to promote a disease prevention strategy.

There are many measures in the budget to help people. I want to remind people that a couple of years ago in 2006, we hit an economic tsunami, a worldwide economic downturn. We had to act quickly, and indeed, that is what we did. We brought in some $60 billion in stimulus measures, outreach measures to help workers displaced, created incentives like job-sharing and a whole range of initiatives to help our communities. Part of that was the economic stimulus measures that brought jobs through some 25,000 projects across the country. On Vancouver Island many projects benefited our community. All of these projects helped to keep people employed during that difficult time.

Cumulatively, we have created over 540,000 jobs, all important, to keep people employed and keep our communities working. There was the home renovation tax credit during that phase that kept people working. In this budget we have the very popular eco-energy retrofit program extended that will encourage positive behaviour by encouraging people to invest in energy efficiencies for their homes: the windows, the doors, the insulation, the kinds of projects that keep people working in our community and contribute to energy savings in the community as well.

There is a whole range of issues that we have not addressed and I am down to my last minute, but there are positive measures for our small businesses with a hiring credit of up to $1,000 to encourage more hiring. There is support for youth entrepreneurs of some $20 million. We are reducing red tape. We are investing in clean energy technology and innovation and we are legislating the permanent gas tax funding for municipalities at some $2 billion a year. That is so important to our communities, many of which have infrastructure deficits and are counting on that money to help refurbish the infrastructure in our municipalities.

For all these reasons I encourage our colleagues to stand with us and support the budget. Let us work together and keep our country strong as we move forward, keep Canada's economy the best in the world. Let us develop all the potential we can in this country as we move ahead.

Financial Statement of the Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, I welcome my colleague's comments. Although normally members would expect me to viciously oppose the government's budget, I want to start in a more conciliatory tone since we are in a new session of Parliament.

Let me start by saying that the one part of the budget I was happy to see was, of course, the return of the eco-energy retrofit program for homes. That $400 million is desperately needed in our communities. However, I have to ask the government why this program was brought back for only one year.

This program is good for homeowners, the environment, jobs and we also know that it is good for the government because for every $1 that the government pays in incentives, families actually spend $10 and generate twice as much in tax revenue. This program really is a win-win.

I was really surprised to see in The Hamilton Spectator this morning, and frankly saddened, that the member for Burlington said:

They (energy advisers) made a choice. That’s their industry and career choice that they’ve made. Whether we have a government program that keeps them in business or not is not my call--

That is really regrettable because the question remains: Why is this program in place for just one year?

The government pulled the plug on this program in 2006. It was a program that worked well. People clamoured for it to be renewed. Now we have the money, but it is being put on a very short leash. What if there is money left over at the end of the year without programs having actually been implemented effectively? I wonder if the member would comment on that.

Financial Statement of the Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

Conservative

James Lunney Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Hamilton Mountain for her conciliatory tone and I congratulate her on her re-election.

We all have an obligation to work together in the House to move ahead. There is a difference between permanent measures and those that are meant to stimulate activity. The member is aware that we are running a deficit and were severely criticized for that. When we were coming up with the economic action plan, opposition parties were annoyed that we were not operating fast enough and wanted us to spend more, but we have an obligation to balance our budget.

This year, as we are working toward a balanced budget without upsetting our economy, we are projecting a deficit of some $32 billion. It will be down to about $19.4 billion next year, $9.4 billion the year after that and then moving to a small surplus in the following year.

We have an opportunity in next year's budget, if we need further stimulus, to move ahead with a program. In the meantime, we are hoping as many Canadians as possible will take advantage of it this year to keep people working and move ahead with energy efficiency in their homes. It is a well-appreciated program that is supported by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and the Canadian Home Builders' Association.

Financial Statement of the Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

1:15 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate my colleague, a fellow classmate from the class of 2000. Some in the House say that was probably one of the strongest contingents of members of Parliament who arrived in the House for many years.

In response to the last question, he talked about the eco-energy tax deduction. Any time the government puts forward a tax deduction, it is to initiate and improve behaviour in a particular area and we have seen the outcome through the tax deduction for the retrofits.

He talked about the tax credit for sport. If we look at the participation rates in the country over the last 10 years, they are fairly gradual and we can pretty much determine that each year they grow by so much. This was introduced in 2006 and there was no discernible increase in participation rates in 2007, 2008 or 2009. It remained the same.

The one time there was a big spike was in 2003 following the gold medal performance of the women's hockey team in Salt Lake City. Does he see that sometimes targeted investments in leadership, facilities, coaching, those types of things, have even more impact than a mere tax deduction?

Financial Statement of the Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

1:15 p.m.

Conservative

James Lunney Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the member acknowledging our election back in the year 2000. There are few of us left from that particular class. We all have a certain measure of camaraderie having survived a few elections to remain in the House and the challenges that represents.

I know the member is a very enthusiastic sports promoter. We put a lot of money into the Olympics. That motivated a lot of Canadians. It is great to see Canadians from coast to coast taking an interest, the young girls out playing soccer and so many sports activities. We are trying to broaden that.

I appreciate the member's comment. There is more than one way to achieve the objectives but we think they have a cumulative effect in encouraging Canadians to become physically active. I thank him for drawing that to our attention.

Financial Statement of the Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

1:15 p.m.

Conservative

Devinder Shory Calgary Northeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to speak today to the next phase of Canada's economic action plan, a plan to keep taxes low and to create jobs and growth. This is a budget that is truly good for all Canadians from a government that is here for all Canadians.

Before I begin, I would first like to thank my wife, Neetu, our children, Jatin, Chetan and Arisha, and, of course, our campaign team and all of those friends and constituents who supported me in my election to serve as a member of Parliament for Calgary Northeast.

It was not our choice that Canada was swept into global economic crisis but we had learned from past events. Our Conservative government acted quickly and boldly with unprecedented fiscal stimulus. Our decisive actions then is the reason for our favourable position now.

Canada has the highest employment growth among the G7 nations. In fact, Canada's employment rate is higher today than it was before the global recession began. Canada has created nearly 560,000 net new jobs since July 2009. In May 2011 alone, Canada created over 22,000 new jobs.

That is all good news but I want to caution anyone who thinks we are completely out of the woods. Despite our stimulus measures, our strong banking sector and the hard-working Canadian public, we must not become complacent. Global economic forces outside our control remain uncertain and we need to keep our guard up.

The budget gives more exactly where we need it the most. It supports job creation, families and communities, invests in innovation, education and training, and preserves Canada's fiscal advantage.

Our government understands that it takes a low tax environment to allow businesses to thrive. Our government is providing a temporary hiring credit for small businesses to encourage additional hiring. We are expanding the work sharing program and the targeted initiative for older workers to help keep people in the workforce.

We also understand that investing in technology not only creates jobs today but saves us money in the future. Energy costs are one of the fastest rising costs for Canadians and Canadian households. That is why our government is renewing the $100 million investment over two years for research and development on clean energy and energy efficiency.

We are also extending the popular eco-energy home retrofit program to make our homes more energy efficient. This program also has real benefits for businesses in my riding. Lux Window and Glass is a multi-generational family-owned business in Calgary Northeast that supplies windows and doors to home builders and renovators.

The president of the company, John Petrillo, told me that in 2009, when we established the eco-energy home retrofit program, his company saw an outstanding number of customers looking to renovate. It was thanks to our 15% tax rebate. With regard to the extension of the program in this budget, Mr. Petrillo said, “The eco-energy retrofit program would help Lux Windows to keep over 120 plant employees and 10 installation crews employed”.

Another business, the North West Group, located in my riding, specializes in the generation of high quality digitalized geo-spatial mapping information for clients across all sectors. Tim Crago, the vice-president, had this to say about our government's low tax plan:

Creating a competitive, low tax framework for businesses in Canada creates a highly attractive environment not just for big firms, but small and medium sized companies like the North West Group in which to invest and grow.

On this budget, Mr. Crago said:

We are also pleased to see that Budget 2011 reaffirms that the Government of Canada will be giving priority to its Digital Economy Strategy, to make Canada a leader in the creation, adoption and use of digital technologies and content.

However, those are not the only success stories in my riding of Calgary Northeast.

Burhan Khan, born in Pakistan, moved to Canada in 1986, an MBA and registered public accountant in business for 20 years, running his BK accounting firm in my riding with a team of five employees, said, “This budget a is a small-business friendly and great for young and eager entrepreneurs to grow their businesses and create jobs for the good of Canada. The low tax climate also gives me the flexibility to hire and train more apprentice workers, which makes me very proud as a Canadian of Pakistan origin”.

It is clear that our Conservative government has a plan and the plan is working to keep taxes low and create jobs and growth.

The government is also solidifying Canada's reputation as a great place to invest and to do business. In fact, it was under this government that Tim Hortons decided to move its corporate headquarters back to Canada to reap the benefits of our new low tax environment. Certainly Tim Hortons serves as a popular icon for all Canadians, from Calgary Northeast to Kandahar. We are glad to have it back.

We want all Canadians to enjoy a high standard of living. We are enhancing the guaranteed income supplement for those seniors who rely almost exclusively on their old security. We are providing new top up benefit of $600 annually for individual seniors and up to $840 annually for couples. This will improve the financial security of more than 680,000 Canadian seniors, many of them from Calgary Northeast.

This Conservative government understands that more families are sacrificing to take care of their ailing loved ones inside their home. That is why we have introduced a family caregiver tax credit and an enhanced medical expense tax credit that removes the limit on eligible medical expenses that can be claimed on behalf of a dependent relative.

We are also providing a new children's art tax credit to support Canadian families as they pursue the arts.

We are the first Canadian government to provide a volunteer firefighter tax credit for those who serve their communities and put themselves in harm's way.

Our government is investing in its greatest assets: its people. We are expanding eligibility for Canada student loans and grant programs for full and part-time post-secondary students. We are also helping apprentices enter into the trades by making their examination fees eligible for the tuition tax credit. We are investing in innovation, education and training to keep Canada on the leading edge.

We may not have all our wishes fulfilled in this budget but, just as families balance their budgets at the kitchen table, Canadians expect the government to balance its books.

Our government has committed to returning to surplus by 2015-16 and we are on track to achieving this, without raising taxes, without cutting funding to seniors, families or the unemployed, and without cutting transfers for health care and social services, all under a strong, stable, national, majority Conservative government.

Financial Statement of the Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I think my colleague is far too good a member of Parliament to actually believe the talking points that he was sent in here to read today. The arguments are full of holes and lack any empirical evidence to back up the claims that he is making regarding, especially, the tax credits.

I would say, by way of a preface to my question, that we are in the process of doing an analysis, perhaps the first in-depth analysis, of many of the tiny incremental tax credits that the Conservatives have offered Canadians over the last two or even three budget. We are breaking this down by quintile to see who is actually availing themselves of the tax credits being offered.

What we are finding, and it is not ready for publication yet because it is not quite finished, is that the tax credits that are targeted for the sports tax credit or the children's art and music tax credit, for instance, will probably not help many poor kids participate in sports who would not otherwise be participating or participate in music, dance, theatre or art who would not otherwise be participating. It is those who are availing themselves of it who are already participating in that program.

If we take the cumulative total of all the small incremented, badly targeted tax breaks of the past three, four or five budgets, they do not add up to the untargeted scattergun $6 billion corporate tax cut, explain the--

Financial Statement of the Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

Order, please. The hon. member for Calgary Northeast.

Financial Statement of the Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Conservative

Devinder Shory Calgary Northeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for touching on the issues tax credits or tax cuts.

Let us go back to our government's record. Our government's record shows that when we talked about the tax cuts we did cut the taxes. We cut the GST from 7% to 6% and then to 5%. As I mentioned in my budget speech, we may not be able to fulfill all our visions in this budget but we started addressing the issues. We started addressing the matters that concerned Canadians, whether they are credits or tax cuts. This budget is a re-introduction of the budget presented and tabled in March 2011. Canadians were told before they voted for us that this budget would be re-introduced and it was accepted by Canadians on the whole.

Financial Statement of the Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate my colleague from Calgary Northeast on his re-election here.

I will blend the question that I posed to the member from Nanaimo—Alberni, along with the comments made by the hon. colleague from Winnipeg Centre, which is that the targeting of certain tax provisions is not making a lot of sense. Whether my three boys played hockey or took part in soccer was a decision made between my wife and I at the kitchen table. We did not sit down and say that we might save $70 this year because the government is giving us $70 back.

I am sure my accountant had access to those credits, but it is a loss to the treasury if there is not some kind of discernable positive change in behaviour. What we did not see was any increase in participation rates in this country because of that tax rate.

Are we targeting youth activity or are we targeting soccer moms?

Financial Statement of the Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

Conservative

Devinder Shory Calgary Northeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his congratulations and wish him the same.

On the issue of taxes, I have spoken with many constituents in Calgary Northeast and I have not found one family that is not happy with the e tax credits introduced by our government. In fact, families are encouraged and now they are talking about putting their children in the arts. They want their children to go to gyms and all those things. They are fully supportive of this budget and they are fully concerned about the questions raised in this House of Commons by the opposition.

Financial Statement of the Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

Before we resume debate, I would just like to remind all hon. members that the Chair appreciates your co-operation in the question and answer period. When there are 10-minute speeches, there are 5 minutes for questions and answers and we try to get two questions and two answers, so a bit more than a minute per person. However, in order to ensure that all hon. members have the opportunity to participate, I would ask for your co-operation at that time.

The hon. member for Cape Breton—Canso.

Financial Statement of the Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Ottawa—Vanier.

It is a great pleasure to be back in the House. I want to thank the people of Cape Breton--Canso for expressing their confidence in me once again. The 41st Parliament will be my fifth Parliament, and it continues to be an honour and privilege to be representing them here in Ottawa.

Some members have been to my riding in the past. The rugged coastlines and landscapes are spectacular. It is a part of the world that is rich in culture. I encourage all members of the House if they have not been there yet and are still working on summer vacation plans to take a trip to Cape Breton or the northeastern shore of Nova Scotia through Guysborough and Canso. I think tickets are still available for the Stan Rogers Folk Festival. During lobster season and crab season it is a great place in Canada to visit.

I should add that one does not succeed unless there is a group of people around one who wants one to be successful. Each of us is here because there was a group of people who believed in him or her. In my case, I have had campaign workers who have put in countless hours, pounding in signs, making phone calls, writing cheques and going door to door. We are here because of them.

Then there is family support. I was fortunate to have my sister, Kim Bedecki, act as my campaign manager this time around, and she did a tremendous job. My wife, Lynn, and my three boys, Mitch, Scott and Brad, put up signs and then the sign team would fix them up as well. Everyone who is here does it with a great deal of family and other support from those who believe in them. I am fortunate and am thankful for everyone's efforts.

Much has been said about past Parliaments and the fact that, quite often, the decorum here in the House has been ultra-aggressive or very adversarial. There is a focus now and a commitment to making sure that we try to be a little less aggressive in our debate and throughout question period. It is in that spirit today that I will be making my points.

In speaking to the budget, I am going to look at some of the measures on which the government was close to making some good decisions. I will not talk about the jets. I will not talk about the jails. I will not talk about the corporate tax cuts, though I know the member for Winnipeg Centre will be disappointed about the latter. However, anyone who pays any attention at all will know that these decisions will have a huge impact on this country and the citizens of this country for years to come. I want to talk about some of the things the government was close to getting right in the budget.

The first one was the government's rollover of two provisions of the employment insurance rules, those being the best 14 weeks and working while receiving benefits. The government extended them for one year, and that is a positive thing, because it will make a difference in the lives of those people who are working in seasonal industries but who are actually not seasonal workers. Many times they work in rural or remote communities.

When this pilot project was first announced in 2005, it focused on allowing these people to stay in those communities and support the business that needed access to a workforce. That is why these measures were implemented back then. They were put in place for a period of three years as a pilot project and have been renewed since then. They have been rolled over yet again in this budget.

When this budget was presented back in March, many interventions were made by people who live in rural communities, who said that these provisions should be made permanent. If there were ever two pilot projects that could be justified being made permanent, it would be these two particular measures.

I applaud the government for recognizing the pilot projects for a year. However, it would have been far more beneficial had the government made them a permanent provision of the EI system going forward. It would certainly have been more beneficial for the businesses, seasonal businesses, and workers in those rural communities that were most impacted. Therefore, this was just a half measure.

The other half measure I want to talk about and commend the government for is the firefighters tax deduction. Again, we made these comments when the budget was presented the last time, in particular, that the proposed budget did not include all of the people in the community. If we were serious about recognizing volunteer firefighters, then we would have a refundable tax credit. However, this sets up a two-tier volunteer fire department: those who qualify for the tax credit and those who do not. I have 50 volunteer fire departments in my riding. Many of the volunteers are older and many work in seasonal industries. Those who do not make $22,000, and there are a fair number of them, receive no benefit from this at all. In volunteer fire departments that pay their volunteers an honorarium, we already have a provision where the first $1,000 of that honorarium is tax exempt. However, under this provision the volunteers would have to pick one or the other, and so there is really no net benefit for those already accessing the $1,000 tax exemption.

We are asking all of the volunteer firefighters to do the same job. When the whistle blows or their pager goes off, they are all expected to have the same level of training and know exactly what to do. These are the guys rushing into the fire when everyone else is rushing out. They are all going into the same burning buildings and taking the same risks. When they show up at head-on collisions with the jaws of life, they all have to know how to extricate the victims, such as a young 18-year-old splattered on the dash of a car. However, what the government is saying with this tax credit is that one of the firefighters is worth more than the other who is not making $22,000. That is not fair.

Again, I commend the government for this first half step. We made it aware of this in the last budget discussion, and I wish the government had taken it that one step further. We only have about 100,000 volunteer firefighters. This could have included everyone.

To summarize, there are some aspects of this budget that are like a bouquet, a bouquet of thorns with a couple of roses dropped in it. Once we get into the weeds, into the detail, we see that the government, with a little more effort, could have done better for all Canadians. It could have done better in levelling the field for all Canadians.