House of Commons Hansard #4 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was seniors.

Topics

Employment
Oral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk
Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, we certainly want to help the unemployed. That is why yesterday's budget included the initiatives I have already talked about. I can assure hon. members that we are already sending very significant sums to the Government of New Brunswick to help support the unemployed who face constraints specific to that region. I encourage them to take advantage of this.

The Budget
Oral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Braid Kitchener—Waterloo, ON

Mr. Speaker, yesterday our government reintroduced the next phase of Canada's economic action plan. This is a positive plan for Canada's future that will keep taxes low, support jobs and growth, improve the quality of life for seniors, families and children, control government spending, and stay on track to eliminate the deficit.

Could the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance please inform the House about what the reaction to our next phase of the economic action plan has been?

The Budget
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Saint Boniface
Manitoba

Conservative

Shelly Glover Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to stand again to cheer for this wonderful budget that was presented yesterday by the Minister of Finance. I must admit that there has been such an overwhelming positive response to this budget that I cannot quote every single person who has commented on it. I want to quote in French if the House would allow me.

According to the Conseil du patronat du Québec, “this budget creates an environment favourable to economic development without reducing transfers to individuals, businesses or other levels of government, and without proposing increases in taxes or tariffs...”

The Budget
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

The hon. member for Chambly—Borduas.

Flooding in Montérégie
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

NDP

Matthew Dubé Chambly—Borduas, QC

Mr. Speaker, historic floods in Montérégie will have lasting effects on our community, but we are finally beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Unfortunately, with this government, it is too little, too late. After more than 50 days of stress and frustration, flood victims are entitled to clear answers.

Can the minister confirm whether soldiers will stay to help flood victims with the cleanup?

Flooding in Montérégie
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Central Nova
Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay Minister of National Defence

What I can confirm, Mr. Speaker, is that within 24 hours after predeploying, we had hundreds of Canadian Forces members on the ground in the region supporting the people who were suffering from this flood.

In total, over 844 soldiers helped to protect thousands of acres of farmland. They built two major dikes that needed repair. They put 224,000 sandbags in place and helped community members. They did check visits, went to residences with assistance, water and food. This was an outstanding effort by members of the Canadian Forces.

Flooding in Montérégie
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-François Fortin Haute-Gaspésie—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, over 50 days after the major flooding began in the Haut-Richelieu area, the Prime Minister visited the affected areas and clearly improvised an announcement to calm the rumble of discontent.

Since the fact that the government will assume 50% of the costs under its own cost-sharing program is not new and since the budget does not make any mention of new, additional aid, can the Prime Minister tell us how much money his new mitigation plan will give to flood victims in Montérégie and to those in the Gaspé who are still being ignored?

Flooding in Montérégie
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Provencher
Manitoba

Conservative

Vic Toews Minister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, we are pleased to work with the provinces in respect of disaster financial assistance. We have worked well with other provinces in respect of mitigation. New changes have been made to the disaster financial assistance agreement.

I note some of the Prime Minister's comments both during the election and during his well-received tour of the flood areas in Quebec.

I look forward to working on those details with the provinces and with my colleagues in cabinet.

Business of Supply
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

It is my duty to inform the House that as a result of the order adopted Monday, June 6, two days will be allotted for the supply period ending June 23, 2011.

Oral Questions
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Cypress Hills—Grasslands
Saskatchewan

Conservative

David Anderson Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources and for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I would like to apologize for the language I used earlier in the House. I could give an explanation as to why I said it, but I will not choose to do that at this point. I apologize for the language.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that this House approves in general the budgetary policy of the government, of the amendment and of the amendment to the amendment.

Financial Statement of the Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

3 p.m.

Conservative

Earl Dreeshen Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, first of all, I would like to congratulate you on being elected to the position of Speaker of the House. Congratulations.

I am also pleased to rise this afternoon to discuss our government's 2011 budget and I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound.

Let me first thank my family for the love and support not only during the election campaign but also each and every day that I am asked to serve the people of Canada.

I would also like to thank the people of Red Deer for putting their faith in me once again by re-electing me to represent them in the 41st Parliament. It is an honour to serve and represent them.

It was made clear in the recent election that the people of Canada supported the direction and goals of our government. Canadians want the economy to continue to be the number one priority and our government has listened.

I would also like to thank the Prime Minister and the finance minister for their invitation last winter to participate in the long and beneficial consultation process of budget 2011.

This budget contains many points that my constituents raised in round table discussions. I am glad to see that the government once again heard the input of my constituents. I appreciate the advice that every constituent has given me, from the Red Deer chamber of commerce to municipal councils and everyone in-between. Every view is important to me.

From the meetings I held in Red Deer and the surrounding area I heard a few recurring themes: continued elimination of red tape in government policies and bureaucratic procedures, continued reductions in personal taxes, and the cost of employment to businesses. The next phase of Canada's economic action plan helps to achieve these goals.

Red Deer is an extraordinary place where small and medium-sized businesses thrive. Its location in the corridor of Alberta provides immense economic advantages and makes it an ideal area to start a business. The people of Red Deer are independent and entrepreneurial, and they understand the impact that our fiscal policies have on them and the economy. They know that lower taxes provide the freedom to be profitable and to create more jobs, and that good social programs come from strong economic fiscal policy.

The economy though is still fragile. I know that the resilience and determination of the hard-working people of Red Deer will continue to prevail and succeed.

Canadians have given us a mandate to stay focused on the economy and to pass measures aimed at strengthening both our economic recovery and our country. We are following through on these commitments.

We are focused on improving the financial security of Canadian workers, seniors and families. I am pleased that budget 2011 proposes programs that will respond to the needs of central Alberta. For example, the hiring credit for small businesses in budget 2011 will be extremely helpful to many people who need jobs and many employers who need more employees.

The hiring credit will have a direct and positive impact on Red Deer by providing incentives to hire and create jobs. This credit addresses many of my constituents' concerns about keeping the cost of employment down to help stimulate more hiring.

We are also supporting job creation by extending the accelerated capital cost allowance, helping manufacturers and processors to make new investments in machinery and equipment.

There are still many Canadians who need to find work, and it is wonderful to see that the government is doing what is necessary to help them by spurring job growth and investment.

Business owners in Red Deer are also pleased with our efforts toward reducing red tape, and this is an issue that has repeatedly been addressed within our business community.

Upgrading the BizPal service and engaging business owners by further consulting Canadians through the red tape reduction commission is a welcome initiative to tackle the bureaucratic problems that my constituents face.

From employers to families, we have a strong record of tax relief. Canadian families are benefiting from tax relief measures such as the first-time home buyer's tax credit , the public transit tax credit, and the GST reductions.

Further individual tax relief measures in this budget will provide taxpayers in Alberta with approximately $310 million more in tax relief over the next six years. This includes a new family caregiver tax credit which will provide almost $73 million in relief and a new children's arts tax credit which will provide over $69 million for Alberta families.

I am proud that we are offering a new tax credit for our volunteer firefighters who bravely serve our communities. We can attain these tax cuts while returning to balanced budgets because this is a government that is also focused on eliminating government waste and closing tax loopholes.

A secure and fair tax base allows us to maintain low tax rates.

I want to address central Alberta farmers as they finish seeding their fields. Agriculture is a primary sector of our local economy in central Alberta and so my round table discussions have included farmers who are a unique kind of business people. They face all of the challenges of other business owners and then some, with more risk, uncertainty and variable conditions from year to year.

Alberta is a bit unique as it is one of the few provinces that administers the agristability program for its producers. Therefore, we need to identify what needs to be done at the federal level and work with the Government of Alberta to address producers' needs.

We know that the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food continues to work with all of his provincial counterparts to address gaps and strengthen the income support programs within the federal-provincial framework. We look forward to his continued leadership in this regard.

Budget 2011 provides $50 million for a two-year agricultural innovation initiative. This new program will support knowledge creation and increase commercialization in agriculture innovations.

Innovation is a key component of farm gate profitability. Whether it is finding new varieties to increase yields or improving livestock genetics, innovation is the driving force for Canada's competitiveness and produces profits. Agriculture-related businesses and producers will all benefit from this important investment in budget 2011.

The support of the government through programs like the agricultural innovation initiative will help Alberta grow.

This budget also provides $24 million to extend the initiative to control diseases in the hog industry. This new funding will enable the Canadian Swine Health Board to complete its initiatives directed at biosecurity standards and best managerial practices to protect producers' barns. Red Deer is home to western Canada's largest pork packer. Therefore, this is welcomed news for the entire value chain that is relying on the completion of this strategy.

While we recognize the significant work of our agriculture producers, our government also recognizes the significant contribution that seniors have made to our country. The next phase of Canada's economic action plan builds on the support network already in place for seniors by adding several new measures. This budget will enhance the guaranteed income supplement by providing eligible low income seniors with additional benefits of up to $600 for single seniors and $840 for couples. I often hear from low income seniors in my riding who have trouble making ends meet. This increase to the guaranteed income supplement will be welcomed help. Our seniors deserve a secure and dignified retirement that reflects the contributions that they have made.

We are also ensuring that community level supports exist so that seniors have the opportunity to participate in social activities. The new horizons seniors program is helping seniors be together and active in their communities. In 2010, the government invested an extra $10 million in this initiative to assist community level programs.

Budget 2011 provides another $10 million over two years to support the new horizons program. This program has assisted in Red Deer with such things as equipment replacement at the Golden Circle, which is a popular gathering place for central Alberta seniors, and with women's wellness events administered by the Red Deer Family Service Bureau.

The new horizons seniors program raises the quality of life in communities through active living and participation in social activities. It is a responsible way to respond to social needs in our communities.

The next phase of our Conservative government's plan keeps taxes low to promote jobs and economic growth while supporting families and seniors. The previous actions that this government took during the recession kept Canada's economy strong and supported Canadian jobs.

What needs to be done now is to stay the course. I encourage all members to support this budget so Canada can continue to move forward.

Financial Statement of the Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

3:10 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to my hon. colleague and, like him, I represent a very large rural region. What I find absolutely staggering in this budget is the complete lack of a plan for a digital strategy for rural and northern Canada, specifically the need for a broadband strategy.

We hear the government talk about a digital strategy but it is all talk because the money that is needed is not there.

I will give an example. In Australia, under a labour government I might point out, there is the most comprehensive broadband strategy infrastructure plan to ensure that every rural part of Australia is up to speed. The government talks about broadband but its numbers are at 1.5 megabytes. Rural Australia will be 100 times faster than what rural northern Ontario and rural Albertans can have.

Why has the government ignored the broadband needs of rural Canada?

Financial Statement of the Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

Earl Dreeshen Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, the broadband industry has been going through a lot of changes. I think we are looking forward to a lot more in the communities in the future.

I was with the northern development committee last year and we had the opportunity to meet with many different groups and organizations in the territories. They have seen a lot of different action. I believe we will have great co-operation between the provinces, the territories and the federal government in the future.

Financial Statement of the Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, my question for the member is with regard to the whole issue of priorities in government expenditures.

At a time when our seniors are looking to government to demonstrate leadership, to demonstrate it cares about the plight of our seniors and the need to increase their income, the government has seen fit to only give something like $1.67 a day.

Given the wealth that our country has and given the expectations that Canadians have in the sense that the federal government should be a compassionate government that provides for our seniors, why has the Government of Canada only given our seniors $1.67 a day in terms of that increase?