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

Financial Statement of the Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

11:55 a.m.

Saint Boniface
Manitoba

Conservative

Shelly Glover Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, once again, I would like to welcome my colleague.

I would like to speak about the employment insurance premiums and the SMEs that she mentioned in the same breath. She did not hesitate to criticize our small EI premium increases, but I wonder if she remembers that, in the last Parliament, it was her party that proposed a bill to increase premiums by 35%. Furthermore, SMEs have strongly criticized NDP election promises to double pension benefits.

Catherine Swift recently stated that adopting these measures would increase rates by 70% for all SMEs, which would kill them.

I would like to ask my colleague to explain why she is constantly changing her mind about these two issues.

Financial Statement of the Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

11:55 a.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for her question. The government has abandoned people who are unemployed. At present, 58% of unemployed workers who have paid employment insurance premiums receive no benefits from this government. It is unacceptable that those who paid into the fund do not receive benefits.

We are the ones who want to invest in pension plans for these very employees so that, when they retire, they will have an income allowing them to live decently and will not fall under the poverty line. That is very important for us. We are proud to present this to the House, and we will continue to support it.

Financial Statement of the Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

Noon

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, prior to coming to the House of Commons, I served for a number of years inside the Manitoba legislature. It was just a year ago, in fact, that an NDP government budget gave significant corporate tax breaks.

I wonder if the member could explain to me or reconcile an apparent inconsistency, that the only New Democratic party in government is giving corporate tax breaks while, in the opposition, the NDP is opposing corporate tax breaks.

Financial Statement of the Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

Noon

NDP

Peggy Nash Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the hon. member on his re-election.

I will just correct the record. There is, of course, a New Democratic government elected in Nova Scotia, as well, which we are very proud of.

We have proposed small business tax cuts because we know that small businesses across the country are job creators, and that is something we are very proud of.

We have also proposed a tax credits for small, medium and large businesses that actually create jobs. However, I will insist that our party, under the leadership of the Leader of the Opposition, has been absolutely consistent that across the board, no strings attached tax cuts have not created jobs, and I challenge the government, or the hon. member, to prove otherwise.

Financial Statement of the Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

Noon

NDP

Jinny Sims Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise at this time to speak on behalf of the constituents of Newton—North Delta, who tell me each and every day that health care facilities are just not available. They are talking about doctors and nurses, as well as hospitals that are overcrowded.

Right now, there are thousands of doctors in my riding who are credentialed to be doctors in other countries, but in my riding they are driving taxis. That is a very honourable job. However, we are in need of doctors. I see there is recognition in the budget that we have to do something about credentials, but there is no money attached to that.

My question is, what are we going to do to address this dire shortage of doctors and nurses for all citizens in Canada?

Financial Statement of the Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

Noon

NDP

Peggy Nash Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, that is an excellent question and I congratulate the hon. member on her election to the House.

In my riding of Parkdale—High Park there is a similar situation. Far too many people are driving taxis when they ought to be practising medicine or some other field for which they are qualified but cannot practise in Canada. My party would dedicate funds toward its commitment to work with the provinces and make sure that foreign credentialed professionals here in Canada get the recognition they need in order to practise.

However, more than that, unlike the Conservative government that moves doctors from south to north and from urban to rural areas and does not train one new doctor or health care professional, my party would invest in training 6,000 new doctors, many more nurses and other health care professionals, because it is unacceptable in a country as rich as Canada that there are Canadians who cannot find family doctors while there are doctors from other countries driving taxis. We in the NDP will fix that.

Financial Statement of the Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

Noon

Bloc

André Bellavance Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the NDP's finance critic whether, before making their decision, she or the members of her party had the opportunity to speak with Quebec's finance minister, Raymond Bachand, about what is in this budget and what was unfortunately not in the March budget, and that is the $2.2 billion for sales tax harmonization. Many of the members from Quebec are now NDP. I am wondering whether their caucus or the member herself spoke with these people before making a decision about the final vote. I am also wondering what the NDP is going to do. In Quebec, we are very satisfied that the government has finally listened to the arguments of the Bloc Québécois and granted $2.2 billion for sales tax harmonization in Quebec. This is very important to Quebec.

Financial Statement of the Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

12:05 p.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for his question.

The $2.2 billion in compensation for sales tax harmonization was proposed by the NDP. We are very happy that the government took our suggestion and modified the budget to include this proposal. It is very important to Quebeckers, and it is the NDP members from Quebec who made this suggestion. We are pleased that the government listened to us.

Financial Statement of the Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

12:05 p.m.

Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont
Alberta

Conservative

Mike Lake Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry

Madam Speaker, please note that I will be splitting my time with the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage.

As this is my first time rising in the House since the election, let me start with some thanks. First, I would like to thank my constituents of Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont for giving me the honour of serving them once again.

I thank my wife Debi and my kids, Jaden and Jenae. I love them and their understanding of the importance of this job that keeps me away from them and away from home 130 nights a year. When we started six years ago, we said this would be our family adventure, and it has been a wonderful one, not always easy, but wonderful, nonetheless.

To my staff in Edmonton and Ottawa, my re-election is really a vote of approval for the service that we perform together for our constituents. I would like to thank them for their hard work in that regard.

Finally, I thank my volunteers. Of course, I cannot name them all, but I know I would not be here without them. They are like an extended family to us and we are truly blessed by their incredible efforts and support. In particular, I would like to publicly acknowledge my campaign co-managers, Bill Witzke and Leigh Johnston, who literally put in countless hours and ran a fantastic campaign.

As the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry, I welcome the opportunity to outline the government's agenda to support Canadian business, foster innovation and promote competitiveness.

Budget 2011 continues to focus on the task at hand, shepherding our country through the global economic recovery, while at the same time continuing to lay the foundation for long-term, sustainable economic growth.

In the context of the current global economic rebalancing, Canada has stood out among nations as a pillar of economic strength. To date, we have successfully navigated through global economic turbulence, thanks to timely, temporary and targeted interventions.

In response to the global recession, Canada's economic action plan provided $60 billion in extraordinary stimulus to support jobs and growth. The results speak for themselves: first, seven straight quarters of economic growth. For those of us on this side of the House the most important statistic is this: Canada has created nearly 540,000 net new jobs since July 2009. That speaks to the strength of our economy, the ingenuity of Canada's small and medium size enterprise sector, and the strong economic record of our government.

In the last election, our party said that we would focus on the economy, as we have done in the past and as we will continue to do in the future. That is what Canadians expect of us and that is what this budget delivers. In particular, the budget takes key steps to help businesses, including the thousands of small businesses across the country that are so fundamental to Canada's economy. For example, we are providing $20 million over two years to the Canadian Youth Business Foundation to help young entrepreneurs become the leaders of tomorrow.

To make it easier for all entrepreneurs to determine the government licences and permits they need, we have also announced measures to upgrade the BizPaL service and expand online capabilities. As we make it easier for Canadians to start new businesses and to build those businesses, we will continue to see new jobs and growth in the Canadian economy.

I would now like to focus on two additional priority areas where we can support jobs and growth, the digital economy strategy and research and development.

Supporting jobs and growth means giving workers and businesses the tools they need to succeed in a competitive global economy, tools which include digital technologies. These technologies power activities in all areas of the economy, from manufacturing and transportation to advanced telecommunications and web-based services. They also provide a platform for all sectors to become more innovative and productive.

This is about setting the stage for the economy of tomorrow, and our plan announces a suite of initiatives that will contribute to this strategy.

Our government is doing its part by announcing measures that will ensure that Canada provides world class infrastructure and a competitive framework to encourage the private sector to create and adopt new information and communications technologies.

Additional initiatives will help Canada develop the digital workforce of tomorrow and create Canada's next generation of digital content by providing $80 million in new funding over three years through the industrial research assistance program to help small and medium size businesses accelerate their adoption of key information and communications technologies through collaborative projects with colleges; $60 million over the next three years to promote increased student enrolment in key disciplines related to the digital economy; and $100 million per year to the Canada media fund for investments in the creation of digital content across multiple platforms.

Our government has also committed to reintroduce and seek passage of copyright legislation that balances the needs of creators and users. The copyright modernization act would bring Canada in line with advances in technology and international standards, as well as provide a framework that is forward-looking, flexible and technologically neutral.

Overall, these measures will help ensure that by 2020 Canada's economy is leading edge, driven by innovation, boosting productivity and sustaining high levels of prosperity.

I am proud that our government is taking the steps necessary to foster long-term growth in the economy and providing young Canadians with as many opportunities to succeed as possible.

Beyond the digital economy, the global economy depends increasingly on knowledge and innovation. In order to be a global leader, Canada must attract and develop talented people, increase our capacity for world-leading research and development and promote education and skills development. Our government measures will help strengthen Canada's leadership position by supporting international research collaboration and world-class research centres in Canada.

Specifically, the next phase of Canada's economic action plan announces new resources to support leading edge research, to improve commercialization and support the adoption of new technologies in the marketplace, including: investing an additional $37 million per year to support the three federal granting research councils and providing an additional $10 million per year for the indirect costs program to support costs such as those related to operating and maintaining research facilities; investing $53.5 million over five years to support the creation of 10 new Canada excellence research chairs; investing $4 million over three years to support the construction of a cyclotron for the production of medical isotopes at the Thunder Bay Regional Research Institute; and providing $50 million over five years beginning in 2012-13 to the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics to support its leading research, education and public outreach activities.

Research and innovation drive jobs and create opportunities for Canadian companies to succeed all around the world. Our government knows that Canadian students, businesses and workers have the skills to succeed. We know we can compete with anyone in the world. With this budget, Canadians know they have a government that believes in them.

Our plan is supported. Here are just two examples of what Canadians had to say about these measures. Seneca College president, David Agnew, says:

This budget speaks to the role that colleges play in increasing the competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises. This on-going investment also illustrates the important role that our students and graduates play in today's economic prosperity.

The president of a Toronto company, Darcor Casters & Wheels, Rob Hilborn, says:

These budget measures supporting the link between businesses and polytechnics will increase innovation and entrepreneurship for many Canadian companies. Budget 2011 opens more doors for small and mid-sized firms to access college research facilities and talent.

In conclusion, budget 2011 will position us on a path to a stronger economic recovery. As we move ahead, we will keep taxes low, we will create jobs, we will promote investment and growth, we will encourage innovation and we will deliver on initiatives that improve Canada's business environment.

I am proud to support this plan and I hope all members will join me in passing this budget expeditiously.

Financial Statement of the Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

12:15 p.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Madam Speaker, I listened intently to my colleague and I do not disagree that there is some good stuff in this budget. I know we advocated for a lot of the items that were put in this budget.

However, when we look at the regional economic development, we see that there will be a decrease in funding for regional economic development. How does that help bolster our communities that have been hit hard by the loss of jobs in the forestry sector?

We have FedNor. We see $4 million over three years to Industry Canada's federal economic development initiative in northern Ontario to buy a cyclotron for the production of medical isotopes at the Thunder Bay Regional Research Institute.

We appreciate some of the money in here but we are seeing a decrease in funding. Maybe the member could explain to me why there would be a decrease in funding when it comes to regional economic development.

Financial Statement of the Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

June 7th, 2011 / 12:15 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Lake Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont, AB

Madam Speaker, the premise of the question is completely incorrect.

However, let us deal with the big picture of the facts. It is well-known around the world that the Canadian economy is strong relative to other industrialized countries. Of course, organizations, like the International Monetary Fund, the World Economic Forum and the OECD, have praised the Canadian economy and the Government of Canada for the measures that we have taken during the economic downturn. Those measures have led to a strength in the economy that has seen, as I mentioned in my speech, 540,000 net new jobs being created in the economy since July 2009, which is a considerable positive impact. That has a positive impact on all regions across the country. All regions and all Canadians benefit from that increase in jobs due to the steps that the government has taken.

Financial Statement of the Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Simms Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, NL

Madam Speaker, I congratulate my colleague for coming back to the House and on his fine speech starting out with his family. I wish him and his family all the best.

I will start with the copyright legislation that will be, as the member pointed out, reintroduced. If memory serves me correctly, I believe he was on the special legislative committee that was struck in the last House. If not, my apologies. However, I do want to ask about that because a great deal of input came into the committee about the legislation at that time, which I believe was Bill C-32. A lot of that input was about the balance between the creators and the users.

Specifically, what will be absorbed from that input that will be brought into the reintroduced version of the copyright legislation?

If the member has time, my second question concerns the influence of foreign ownership over telecom. I am wondering what the member's thoughts are about protecting the cultural industries, like broadcasting, from foreign ownership for the sake of Canadian culture.

Financial Statement of the Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Lake Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont, AB

Madam Speaker, I, too, congratulate the hon. member for his re-election.

In regard to the question about the copyright legislation, I was on that special legislative committee. We heard much input and, as a government, we heard much input prior to the committee hearings, before the legislation was drafted, as we did cross country consultations on that legislation.

What we found in the committee was that the testimony reflected the fact that we did have a balanced bill. There obviously were people with several points of view. Copyright legislation is very complex. It is not one of those pieces of legislation where there are two sides. There are 15 or 16 different sides to the legislation.

However, I found that, as we listened to the testimony, it was reflective of the fact that we had done a pretty job balancing all of the different expectations as we went through that process.

One of the things we did find through that committee process was that it would have been nice to have moved a little quicker. As we went through the process at the committee, we could have held more hearings and made sure we had listened to more people in a manner that was faster than what we were doing. Of course, the opposition parties had the majority of members on the committee which made it kind of difficult.

I do look forward to getting back into the committee room on the new legislation and hearing from stakeholders. Hopefully, we will get more co-operation from all members of the committee in terms of getting the legislation passed, which, according to all members of the committee, is long overdue.

Financial Statement of the Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

12:20 p.m.

Oak Ridges—Markham
Ontario

Conservative

Paul Calandra Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Madam Speaker, as this is my first time rising in the House following the election, I will take a moment to thank the people of Oak Ridges—Markham for returning me here. As I said during the campaign, there is not a day that goes by that I am not honoured to serve them in the House and not a day that goes by that I do not thank them for giving me this opportunity to serve our community.

I also want to thank the members of my campaign team for all of the hard work they did to help me get re-elected. I thank my campaign manager, Mathew Ellis, who came back to help me win my second election, and the over 200 volunteers who each and every day knocked on doors and set up signs, not just during the election but in the lead up to the election.

I must say that when I was first elected to this place two and a half years ago, I won by a small plurality of 542 votes. This last time I increased that a bit with a margin of 22,000 votes. While I would like to think that it was my own hard work, I know that it was due to a lot of hard work by the team that surrounds me in both my constituency office and in my Parliament Hill office.

I also want to take the opportunity to thank my constituency team led by Natalie James, Rena Sassano and Owen Macri and, on the Hill, Alli Filleul and my volunteer student Michael Seccareccia. They have done a tremendous amount of work to help me reach the people in my community. My riding is the largest riding in Canada in terms of population. It is twice the size of a normal riding. They have worked very hard to help me secure my re-election.

Of course it goes without saying that I thank my family, my beautiful wife Melanie and my beautiful daughters Natalie and Olivia for their understanding and the sacrifices they make to allow me to be here. They are my best supporters and some of my best advisors. I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank them because without them I would not be able to be here in Ottawa living out my dream each and every day.

When I first came here in 2008, the world was changing. We were in the midst of what is now being called the great recession. It was, of course, a recession that did not start here in Canada but, with a global economy, we felt the effects quickly.

Before I was elected, the government, the Prime Minister and the award-winning Minister of Finance made some changes. They knew something was coming and, as the world economy was heading toward choppy waters, they decided that the best way to keep our economy going was to reinvest in Canadians. They did that by paying down almost $40 billion worth of debt. They did that by reducing taxes for families and for businesses. We reduced the GST from 7% to 6% to 5% so that Canadians and businesses would have more money in their pockets to invest in themselves, their families and their communities.

We invested in families. As I said, I have two small children, a five-year-old and a three-year-old and, thanks to some changes that we introduced, my family receives $100 per child, as do all Canadians with children under six. It has been a big help to Canadians in meeting the everyday needs of their families.

We also invested in infrastructure. In phase one of Canada's economic action plan, we did what Canadians asked us to do. We sat down with our counterparts at the municipal and provincial levels. Canadians were telling us that they wanted us to work together to get us through the economic downturn and that is what we did. The results in communities like mine and the York region were some $300 million worth of investments in roads, bridges, public transportation and community centres.

We invested in areas that would help us create jobs and also improve infrastructure so that as we emerged from the global economic downturn our small businesses, our communities and our job creators, small, medium and large, could seize on the benefits of the first phase of the economic action plan. The results have been spectacular. We have seen some 540,000 jobs created, as was mentioned by the parliamentary secretary.

In my community, the results are evident across the riding, and it is because of the hard work of this government. It is also because of the hard work of Canadian taxpayers and the fact that we were able to work with our counterparts at the municipal and provincial levels to get the job done for Canadians.

The minister reintroduced his budget, which is the second phase of Canada's economic action plan. I am just as excited about the next phase as I was about the first phase of the economic action plan because the minister has made out a path to a balance budget. Not only that, we will be doing this a year ahead of time.

As I was out on the campaign trail, Canadians told me that they wanted to see the government back into a balanced budget. They understood the investments that we needed to make in the economy during a recession. They approved of it, but they wanted to see us move toward a balanced budget, and we will do that.

As I said earlier, we will continue to invest in job creation for our small, medium and large job creators. In the last Parliament we introduced the Red Tape Reduction Commission. It is criss-crossing the country, working with small businesses to find out where government is getting in the way and impeding them so we can reduce the red tape and regulation to allow them to meet their potential.

As well, we are introducing a small business hiring tax credit so small businesses in main streets such as in Stouffville, where I live, can hire students, hire individuals and unleash their potential to create jobs.

We are extending the accelerated capital cost allowance for manufacturers.

I represent a portion of Markham that is known as one of the high tech capitals of Canada, but the manufacturing industry in Markham was hard hit by the recession and the lead up to the recession. Some of the changes we made to reduce taxation will allow them to invest in new machinery to upgrade facilities and compete, not based on a low dollar but based on productivity. This allows manufacturers to create jobs, expand and compete. They are not only competing with other Canadians; they are competing around the world.

In Markham they are succeeding and it is because of the hard work of this award-winning Minister of Finance and this entire government. We understand that we need to unleash the potential of our economy and our communities.

We are doing more and are again focusing on families.

In this budget we introduced some increases to the GIS for our seniors. On this side of the House, we understand it was our seniors who helped make this the best country in the world in which to live, invest and raise a family. We are going to support our seniors.

We are introducing a children's art tax credit to make it a little easier for families that want their children to participate in their communities.

We are introducing a family caregiver tax credit. As the population ages, we know it will sometimes fall upon the rest of the family to take care of the parents or grandparents. We want to support them as they do that.

We are also introducing the volunteer firefighter tax credit.

I represent four communities: Markham, Stouffville, King City and Richmond Hill. In two of those communities, King City and Stouffville, it is volunteer fire fighters who put their lives on the line each and every day in responding to hundreds of calls for help. I know our communities would not be as successful as they are if it were not for the hard work of these brave community volunteers.

I had an opportunity to meet with some volunteer firefighters before and during the election. They were very excited that a government had finally recognized the hard work and sacrifices they made. I am very pleased this budget will continue those investments.

As I said earlier, I am extraordinarily proud to have the opportunity to represent my community in the House. Over the last two years in government we have helped guide the country through the worst global recession in history. We have done that while providing more money to Canadians. We have done that by providing support for small, medium and large job creators. We are unleashing the potential of our communities across the country so they can compete not only locally but globally with anybody, any time.

I am so excited about the future of our country because of everything that this government has done to help unleash Canada's potential. We should all be proud of what we have done and thank Canadians for the hard work they have done to allow us this success.

I congratulate you, Madam Speaker, on being appointed Deputy Speaker and I congratulate all the members for being elected as well.

Financial Statement of the Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

12:30 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Madam Speaker, I congratulate you on taking on the position of Deputy Speaker. I know you will keep us all in line and ensure proper decorum in the House of Commons.

I congratulate the member on being in the House again.

I was very interested in his comments about seniors. We have had a massive series of corporate tax cuts. About $60 billion has been shovelled off the back of a truck by the Conservative government, but many Conservative members seem to have indicated that they are proud of what would be a $600 increase for an entire year for seniors living alone and $840 for seniors living as a couple. Could the member to confirm that for Canadians?

If we did a calculation, it is about $1.15 a day more for seniors living as a couple. We know the HST that the Conservatives have imposed on British Columbia basically adds about $2 a day on to the costs of those seniors. Could the member confirm to me that what the Conservatives are offering in the budget is $1.15 a day for seniors living as a couple at a cost with the HST—