House of Commons Hansard #6 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was seniors.

Topics

Auditor General of Canada

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

I have the honour to lay upon the table the spring 2011 report of the Auditor General of Canada with an addendum on environmental petitions and the status report of the Auditor General to the House of Commons.

Pursuant to Standing Order 108(3)(g), this document is deemed permanently referred to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts.

A message from His Excellency the Governor General transmitting supplementary estimates (A) for the financial year ending March 31, 2012, was presented by the President of the Treasury Board and read by the Speaker to the House

Main Estimates, 2011-12
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Parry Sound—Muskoka
Ontario

Conservative

Tony Clement President of the Treasury Board and Minister for the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to table, on behalf of my colleagues, part III of the estimates consisting of 95 reports on plans and priorities. These documents will be distributed to members of the standing committees to assist in their consideration of the spending authorities already sought in part II of the estimates.

Tobacco Regulations
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Nunavut
Nunavut

Conservative

Leona Aglukkaq Minister of Health and Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, proposed tobacco regulations that will strengthen package labelling requirements for cigarettes and little cigars.

The proposed regulations present 16 new enlarged health warning messages that would appear on cigarettes and little cigar packages. The proposed regulations would also prohibit the use of the terms "light" and "mild" on various tobacco products.

Interparliamentary Delegations
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

James Lunney Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1) I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian delegation to the Canada-Europe Parliamentary Association respecting its participation to the meeting of the Standing Committee of Parliamentarians of the Arctic Region and the second Northern Dimension Parliamentary Forum held in Tromso, Norway, February 22 and 23, 2011.

Canada Labour Code
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton Hamilton Mountain, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-205, An Act to amend the Canada Labour Code (replacement workers).

Mr. Speaker, it is my great pleasure today to reintroduce a bill to ban replacement workers or scabs during strikes and lockouts.

New Democrats have always struggled for the rights of working people and this bill represents a critical piece of that struggle. It is essential for ensuring that the right to free collective bargaining cannot be undermined.

Some may say that this is the wrong time to introduce this legislation but I would suggest that the opposite is true. As we are still struggling to come out of the great recession, the need for labour and management to work together in a spirit of co-operation, involvement and trust is greater than perhaps at any other time in our country's history. However, nothing breaks that trust more quickly than a company's ability to hire scabs during a legal strike.

I would ask all members to support this bill at all three stages so that we can finally bring the Canada Labour Code into the 21st century.

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

Canada Pension Plan
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton Hamilton Mountain, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-206, An Act to amend the Canada Pension Plan (pension and benefits).

Mr. Speaker, I am thrilled to re-introduce my bill, which will finally put a legal end to the potential for people who have been convicted of spousal homicide to derive a CPP survivor benefit from their heinous crime.

I had assumed that the long-established principle in law, that no one should be able to benefit from a crime, would also be enshrined in the eligibility criteria for government benefit programs. Imagine my surprise when I received the following correspondence which states:

I have a relative who killed his wife, served very little time for manslaughter, and is (and has been) collecting CPP survivor benefits for over 10 years. Since 1-2 women per week die at the hands of their partners, how many more men are collecting this? How is this legal?

I researched the file to verify that this could really happen and learned that there was no legal prohibition that prevents people who have been convicted of spousal homicide from collecting either the death benefit or the survivor pension. Clearly, that is a loophole that must be closed.

My bill would do precisely that. It would amend the Canada pension plan to prohibit the payment of the survivors pension, orphans benefit or death benefit to a survivor or orphan of a deceased contributor if the survivor or orphan has been convicted of the murder or manslaughter of the deceased contributor.

The integrity of the Canada pension plan is enormously important to Canadians. I know that I am not alone when I say that the very thought that someone convicted of spousal homicide could derive a monetary benefit from such a heinous crime is an issue of fundamental justice.

I trust that all members of the House will feel the same way and I look forward to the speedy passage of my bill.

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

Ways and Means
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

York—Simcoe
Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I have a motion to put forward that I believe will receive the unanimous consent of the House.

That, notwithstanding the Order of Monday, June 6, 2011, upon adoption of the budget motion the Speaker shall not put the question on Ways and Means Motions Numbers 2 and 3 standing on the Order Paper; and, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practice of the House, immediately following the adoption of the budget motion, the Speaker shall forthwith put every question necessary to dispose of the Ways and Means motion tabled June 8, 2011.

Ways and Means
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

Does the hon. government House leader have the unanimous consent of the House to propose the motion?

Ways and Means
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Ways and Means
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Ways and Means
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Ways and Means
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

(Motion agreed to)

Business of the House
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

York—Simcoe
Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, it is a long-standing practice to adjourn the House for political party conventions and, therefore, pursuant to Standing Order 56.1, I move:

That, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practice of the House, when the House adjourns on June 16, it shall stand adjourned until Monday, June 20; and on Thursday June 16, the hours of sitting and order of business of the House shall be that of a Friday provided that the time for filing of any notice be no later than 6 p.m.

Business of the House
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

Will those members who object to the motion please rise in their places.

And fewer than 25 members having risen:

Fewer than 25 members having risen, the motion is adopted.

(Motion agreed to)

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:10 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 allowed to stand.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed from June 8 consideration of the motion that this House approve in general the budgetary policy of the government, and of the amendment.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Christine Moore Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, congratulations on your election as Speaker of the House.

I would like to begin by saying that I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Drummond.

It is an honour for me to rise in the House on behalf of the people of Abitibi—Témiscamingue. That is why I would like to thank the people in my riding for placing their trust in me and giving me the opportunity to sit here. I would like to tell them that I will defend their interests every day. I would also like to recognize the work done by Marc Lemay, who represented the people of Abitibi—Témiscamingue for seven years.

As we can see from this budget, the government and I have differing views on the type of country that we want to build. However, since we share the same passion for our community and the same commitment to serving our constituents, I hope that the Minister of Finance will be so kind as to listen to my message and that of my community. On May 2, communities like the one I represent did not simply choose new members, they also sent a clear message to the Canadian political system. They said that we must change our old ways of doing things and do better.

In my riding, over 50% of people voted for the NDP so that families would be a priority and so that no one would fall through the cracks. Since I humbly accepted the mandate that they gave me, I can say that this budget does not defend the interests of families or the marginalized. This budget puts the interests of the most profitable banks, the big polluters and companies that are sending our jobs elsewhere first.

Up until the day before the election, I was working in a small health care centre as a clinical nurse in the intensive care unit and the emergency room. I would like to commend all the workers at the Centre de santé et de services sociaux des Aurores-Boréales who work hard every day to preserve one of the things that Canadians value most: a public health care system. I would also like to join with all the other NDP members in recognizing all the heath care workers in our country.

The measure that the Minister of Finance is proposing, to forgive the student debt of doctors and nurses who work in under-served rural and remote communities, is more of a curse than a blessing.

First, it completely disregards many other health care professionals who work tirelessly for the good of our health care system, such as practical nurses, respiratory therapists, medical radiology technologists, medical laboratory technicians, occupational therapists, physiotherapists and all the others I have not listed.

Second, the Minister of Finance's offer again brushes aside experienced staff who have been the backbone of healthcare for years and who, each day, work an incredible amount of overtime, quite often mandatory, at the expense of their families. This measure can attract new professionals, but it will not attract experienced staff to these under-served communities that need them so much.

Third, this measure has the potential to drive a huge wedge between the communities that are eligible and those that are not. Imagine how difficult it would be to attract staff to an ineligible hospital that is an hour away from one that is eligible. Hon. members must remember that the shortage of health care professionals is a nation-wide issue, and every community should be eligible for help.

To conclude, I would like to say that this measure will not bring any new doctors or nurses into the health care system. It will move them to clearly under-served areas, but it will be at the expense of many other areas that will not see their situation improve in the least.

This measure will not do anything to diminish the number of health care professionals who leave, completely burnt out, after a few years of practice. And it will not do anything to reduce the long wait times in Canada's emergency rooms.

Taking action on health care means taking action on the incredible amount of work facing our health care professionals. One of this government's top priorities should be poverty because, as we all know, being poor makes it very difficult to stay healthy. All of the international health organizations agree that socio-economic status is one of the major determinants of health.

In my riding, I am very pleased that the mining boom has breathed some new life into the region. However, it has also helped create an unprecedented housing crisis. The price of houses and housing in general has increased dramatically in cities like Rouyn-Noranda and this is causing even more poverty and precarious situations for many families. Furthermore, this crisis is having a devastating effect on students, who are having a hard time finding decent housing. It is even having a negative impact on college and university recruitment in Rouyn-Noranda.

Since we are talking about poverty, I would be remiss not to mention the seniors of my riding, who cannot get a good night's sleep because they are worried about their retirement income and because they can no longer make ends meet, since their income is not increasing.

When this government talks about increasing the guaranteed income supplement by a maximum of $600 a year for single seniors—that is, by $50 a month—it is ridiculing seniors living in poverty. In 1983, when I was born, an extra $50 a month was not enough to get someone out of poverty, so imagine now.

My region has also had to deal with unprecedented crises in forestry and agriculture. I spoke with people in my riding who lost full-time jobs and now must get by with unstable jobs and no benefits. Consider, for example, the forestry workers of Tembec or small-scale farmers who have to try to compete with multinationals.

That is why I was hoping this budget would contain job creation tax credits for SMEs that create jobs in my region, instead of tax breaks for large corporations that do not need them and that come into my region and take over or destroy my small businesses, only to send the jobs elsewhere.

In closing, I also want to talk about the first nations peoples living in my riding. Many of them have spoken to me about their concerns over health care and education. Year after year, cuts are made to their health care programs and their post-secondary education programs. It is time for this government to restore its assistance to an acceptable level in order to help the first nations educate themselves and maintain good health.

The people of Abitibi—Témiscamingue are proud of their region and would like this government to truly support them. However, this government has instead decided to support major polluters and abandon small rural communities that are stagnating in terms of their growth.

I hope I can count on the co-operation of all members of the House to adopt practical solutions that will make a real difference in the riding of Abitibi—Témiscamingue. I am counting on our Prime Minister to respect the mandate that has been given to us as members of Parliament, to allow us to do our work in Parliament.

Some 4.5 million Canadians voted for the NDP. They voted to boost public pensions, to improve health care, to help families pay their bills, and to have an economy that generates new jobs and new opportunities. By voting for the NDP, Canadians have chosen an official opposition that keeps its priorities in the right place and does not hesitate to defend them. Our mandate is clear: we will propose practical solutions for families, work together to get results that will put the country on the right track, and oppose the government when it makes bad choices, and this budget is full of bad choices.

I am honoured to have been chosen to serve the people of Abitibi—Témiscamingue and honoured to be able to work with all the hon. members of this House. We all come here with different skills and different priorities, but we can choose to work together in a constructive manner. Otherwise, it is regions like mine that will pay the price in this budget.

I am reaching out to this government to work co-operatively to make this budget truly serve the interests of all Canadians and naturally the people of Abitibi—Témiscamingue.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

10:20 a.m.

Saint Boniface
Manitoba

Conservative

Shelly Glover Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Madam Speaker, I would like to welcome our new colleague here to the House of Commons.

I would like to reiterate that we have heard many members of the NDP say that they have positive things to say about our budget. I would like to give the new member a chance to talk about just one measure she liked regarding investments in research and development. She can choose any sector, but it must be something positive.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

10:20 a.m.

NDP

Christine Moore Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to see that the Conservative budget allocates some money for research in the forestry sector. What worries me is that often, small businesses must spend huge amounts of money to be eligible for these funds. If someone is required to spend $10,000 to receive $5,000, he is no further ahead. What worries me is that it is difficult for small businesses to access this money because they are required to invest money in order to find someone to make the request for access to this money.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

10:20 a.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Madam Speaker, I understand from the hon. member's earlier comments that she was a health worker. In regard to health care, the Bloc has a position in which it would prefer to see tax point transfers as opposed to cash transfers going to public health in the province of Quebec.

Does the member have a personal opinion as to what she believes would be in Quebec's best interest?

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

10:20 a.m.

NDP

Christine Moore Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Madam Speaker, with respect to the $4,000 measure to forgive student loans for nurses and family doctors, and in light of the fact that Quebec already has its own loans and grants program, I can say that these people will lose out, since Quebec has chosen to limit the number of loans and to give grants. As a result, nurses in Quebec will receive lower refunds, just because Quebec has chosen to give grants instead of allowing students to accumulate debt. This measure also puts Quebec at a disadvantage.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

NDP

John Rafferty Thunder Bay—Rainy River, ON

Madam Speaker, I would like to welcome our colleague to the House and congratulations to you, Madam Speaker, on your new role.

The people of Thunder Bay—Rainy River, whom I represent, have indicated that there are three most pressing issues facing them today: first, affordability; second, retirement security; and third, health care.

My question is regarding retirement security. There was a lot of talk in the last Parliament about retirement security in the case of companies going bankrupt. I am surprised that there is virtually nothing in this budget about retirement security, including increases in the CPP.

I wonder if my colleague would comment on that particular issue.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

NDP

Christine Moore Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Madam Speaker, it is clear to me that the Canada pension plan must provide a stable solution for all Canadian seniors. Our seniors must not be living in precarious situations. The Canadian government must take action to ensure that pensions compensate Canadian workers who have worked hard their entire lives.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

The hon. member for Richmond—Arthabaska has time for a very brief question.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

Bloc

André Bellavance Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Madam Speaker, the member did not answer the parliamentary secretary's question about a positive measure in the budget. One measure is very important to the Quebec government and the general public, and that measure is the $2.2 billion in compensation for harmonizing the sales tax.

I would like to know what she, as a member from Quebec, personally thinks about this measure. Does she intend to vote in favour of the budget so that it passes and so that this issue is settled once and for all? I would like to remind her that in April 2009, the Bloc Québécois tabled—

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

Order. I must give the hon. member time to respond. She has less than 30 seconds.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

NDP

Christine Moore Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased that the budget contains a measure to resolve the issue of harmonized sales tax in Quebec, but I also find it completely normal that it was included. We cannot support a budget just because it contains one positive measure. There are many other problems with this budget; for example, it does nothing to reduce poverty. That said, I am very pleased to see that the Conservatives thought to include this measure in the budget.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

NDP

François Choquette Drummond, QC

Madam Speaker, it is an honour for me to rise in this House for the first time on behalf of the people of Drummond. I want to thank my predecessor, Roger Pomerleau, for his excellent years of service. I also want to congratulate you, Madam Speaker, on your appointment.

As an aside, I invite my colleagues to spend their summer vacation in Drummond this year. The 30th annual Mondial des Cultures is being held there from July 7 to 17.

I want to begin by thanking the people of my riding for the confidence they have shown me. I also want to acknowledge the democratic participation by a little more than 61% of the constituents of Drummond. This gesture is all the more significant considering the political cynicism that reigns across the country at this time. We certainly cannot boast about the turnout in the last election.

Why are people so uninterested in politics? Many people think their votes do not count. Since 2006, I have been encouraging people in Quebec to vote for the NDP. It is true that our chances at the time were slim, but at least I had one argument: every vote equals funding for the political party that best represents the wishes of the voters. In that sense, no voter ever loses and everyone's voice will always be heard. That is what I used to say and I often ended up convincing many people to vote as a result. Unfortunately, the Conservative Party is planning on abolishing this incentive for political participation, which just might discourage even more people from going to the polls.

Is that what the Conservative Party wants? Of course I do not think so. Then why eliminate the per-vote subsidy for political parties? The party in power could at least have a plan B for increasing voter turnout. It could consider proportional representation, for example. But no, there is nothing. It is abolishing a good formula that was working well and did not cost the public very much. What are the Conservative government's intentions? Does it want to muzzle the opposition? I hope not, because the opposition got 60% of the vote and needs to be heard. That is what Canadians want.

The Drummond riding is not lazing about when it comes to improving its environmental record. The number of environmental initiatives are increasing in the riding. I would like to mention the Mondial des Cultures again. This festival is celebrating its 30th anniversary from July 7 to 17, and all members are cordially invited to attend. Since 2005, the Mondial des Cultures has been implementing various measures to improve its ecological footprint, including things like giving away plants, planting trees, recycling, and so on. I have some great news to share about this year: these measures will allow the festival to offset 100% of the greenhouse gases emitted by all participants in this wonderful festival. Is that not fantastic? This is an excellent example of one environmentally responsible action among many in my riding. This excellent, tangible action illustrates our desire to leave a green, healthy planet to our children and grandchildren.

Meanwhile, where is the Conservative government? What are the Prime Minister and his Minister of the Environment doing? Can my colleagues tell me? Of the 408 pages that make up the Minister of Finance's budget, only three measly pages deal with the environment. What a mistake. The Conservatives think they have a plan to stimulate growth and employment, but those things can no longer be separated from environmental considerations. On the contrary, everything is connected. They need to stop burying their heads in the sand.

What is more, a June 4, 2011, column in Le Devoir by Louis-Gilles Francoeur—who knows what he is talking about when it comes to the environment—ran under the following headline: Climate change—as the urgency increases, North America ignores the problem.

North America also includes Canada. He wrote in this article that the threshold of 32 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions, or the peak emissions expected for 2020, which constitutes the ultimate limit that should never be surpassed, will likely be reached in 2012, nine years earlier than anticipated.

Last weekend, I was speaking to one of my constituents, Clara Hortua, who works with the Regroupement interculturel de Drummondville. She shared with me some wonderful news: she and her husband became grandparents a few weeks ago. You should have seen the look of pride and joy on her face. Do you think that Ms. Hortua wants to pass on a sick planet to her children? No. She wants us to do everything in our power to protect our planet.

Canada was required to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 6% below the 1990 baseline. Instead, the Conservative government let the situation get completely out of hand and, in 2007, we experienced a 26% increase in greenhouse gas emissions, which was already a discrepancy of 33.8% compared to the target level set by Canada under the terms of the Kyoto protocol.

I would like to invite the Minister of the Environment to redo his homework. If he needs a good teacher, he can let me know; I am a teacher by profession. I would ask him to start by reading the Environment section of the NDP's wonderful campaign platform. He could, for example, make major investments in renewable energy. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change—the IPCC—estimates that, by 2050, renewable energy could meet nearly 80% of the planet's energy needs. Is this not great and wonderful? Would this not be an incredible step forward? It would be a courageous measure that would also create jobs and keep the economy going, a green, future-oriented economy. He could also implement a carbon pricing mechanism using a quota exchange system, a type of carbon exchange. We have been talking about this for years. What is Canada waiting for? Where is it? He could also invest in improving public transit. This has been talked about for a long time but nothing much is happening.

In short, Canadians want environmental leadership. Canadians are asking the Prime Minister and his Minister of the Environment to sit down with the opposition and improve our environmental record. We cannot wait any longer. We want concrete action.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

Saint Boniface
Manitoba

Conservative

Shelly Glover Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Madam Speaker, I would once again like to welcome the newly elected hon. member.

At one point in his speech, I heard him talk about the plight of the poor, but at the same time, he is saying that we need more taxes, that taxes on the poor should be raised. He cannot have it both ways. Something must be done to improve the lives of the poor, and that is what we have done in our budget with measures like the guaranteed income supplement for seniors.

I would like to ask him to comment on the issue of the environment because we are investing $870 million over two years in an air quality program. He read the budget, so I would like to hear his comments on just one measure in our air quality proposal that he liked.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

NDP

François Choquette Drummond, QC

Madam Speaker, first, I would like to say that yes, the government may be putting $800 million on the table for the environment; however, how many billion dollars will be lost through tax cuts and subsidies to banks, major corporations and fossil fuel companies? That, we do not know. The government does not have money for the environment, but it has money to cut corporate taxes. That is not right; it is not responsible.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

NDP

Wayne Marston Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

Madam Speaker, I welcome you to your new position, we are thrilled to see you there, and to the member, that was a fine speech.

I am not noted for agreeing with Liberals too often, but Mr. Chrétien did something right when he took big money out of elections. He took money that came from unions and big business out of the elections. That took the brown bags away and levelled the playing field. Now it looks like the Conservatives want to go back to the bad old days of those brown bags. It is terrible for democracy in this country to see that happen.

The Conservatives say it is about raising taxes. We are not talking about raising taxes. We are talking about cutting the tax breaks that go to the big corporations.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

NDP

François Choquette Drummond, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for his question.

I must say that abolishing the subsidy that political parties receive for each vote is a mistake. Our voter turnout in the last election—60%—was terrible. This subsidy is an incentive to vote. When my students got a mark of 60%, I was not overly congratulatory. I would tell them that they should do better. That is what we must do here. Furthermore, we run the risk of once again seeing big business exert major influence with the financing of political parties.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

Liberal

Sean Casey Charlottetown, PE

Madam Speaker, the hon. member spoke passionately about the environment and economic growth. It is in that area where I wish to pose a question.

In my riding of Charlottetown, in fact in Prince Edward Island, we have become a leader in green energy, but our aspirations in that area have been limited by the refusal in the budget and in the throne speech to provide any support for a cable between the mainland and Prince Edward Island. This is something that was committed to by the Leader of the Opposition and has been committed to repeatedly by our party in various election campaigns.

Given the hon. member's passion for the environment and for economic development, I would ask for his comment on the omission of any commitment in the budget on this particular initiative.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

10:40 a.m.

NDP

François Choquette Drummond, QC

Madam Speaker, I completely agree with my colleague. It is unbelievable and absurd that the Conservative government did not include more environmental measures in its budget and that it is not providing more support for the initiatives in my riding of Drummond, for example, or in my colleague's riding. The NDP had a slogan, “Let's work together”, but that is not just a slogan. It is a commitment that we made. We want to work together and reach out to the Conservative Party. We are offering our help, since we know that the party needs it. The Minister of the Environment needs our help, and we would be happy to help him improve his energy record.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

10:40 a.m.

Conservative

Brian Storseth Westlock—St. Paul, AB

Madam Speaker, congratulations on your re-appointment. I served with you in the 40th Parliament, you did an excellent job and I look forward to working with you and all parliamentarians in this 41st Parliament.

I will be splitting my time with the member for Northumberland—Quinte West. I would also like to congratulate him on his second re-election to the House of Commons.

As this is my first opportunity to rise in this august chamber in the 41st Parliament, let me say with great humility what an opportunity it is to represent the constituents of Westlock—St. Paul once again. I would like to thank them for putting their trust in me to represent them for a third straight term.

It is always an honour to represent such a rich and diverse riding that encompasses everything from agriculture to the men and women who work in the oil and gas sector and the men and women in two Canadian Forces bases, Edmonton Garrison as well as 4 Wing Cold Lake. It truly is an honour to work with each and every constituent and I look forward to representing them in this 41st Parliament.

Politicians are used to getting such strong mandates in Alberta, but to get such a strong mandate across the country to bring forward the Conservatives' plan for low taxes, jobs and growth really is an opportunity, not only for my party but for our country, to show what we can really do.

I agree with members across the way who say that we need to do something different, that we need to do politics differently and to make sure that more than 60% of people vote. However, the way to do that is not through partisan bickering. It is not being opposed to everything. It is about constructive criticism and working with the other side. Whether in a majority or minority, we all have a mandate from our constituents to work together. Even though we have a very strong mandate on this side of the House, I look forward to working with my colleagues in the next four and a half years.

I would like to thank all of the volunteers who generously gave their time to work on campaigns, not only my campaign or those of my Conservative colleagues across this country, but everyone who donated their time, blood, sweat and tears to work on any election campaign. These people are truly the lifeblood of our democracy.

As Benjamin Franklin explained, “Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote.” Every one of these people was well armed as each went to the polls.

I would like to take a minute to tell the people of Slave Lake, Alberta and all those affected by the devastating forest fires in my province and across the country that not only the thoughts and prayers of my family but all Canadians are still with them.

I was in Athabasca for three days where 2,800 people took 4,000 or 5,000 people into their community and housed them for three of four days. It truly was an amazing sight to see. I would like to thank all of the volunteers who took their time to donate generously to such a worthy cause. The people of Slave Lake are still in our thoughts and prayers.

Elections are quite a humbling experience, as we know quite well. As I travelled around my riding in the last election, whether I was in Westlock, Morinville, Legal or Clyde, people in my constituency wanted to know not only what I and the Prime Minister had been doing for the last five and a half years but what our plan was moving forward. They had a real recognition that Canada was faring very well on the international stage. They knew that we had a plan coming in to the recession and that we were coming out of it ahead of most other countries in the world, but they wanted to know if we have a plan going forward. They wanted to know what our plan was to help Canada come out of this fragile economic recovery.

Most of all, they were not concerned about platitudes. In the six-plus forums that I attended, people were not concerned about platitudes and political promises. They were concerned about real results for Canadians.

I was fortunate to be a member of a party that had already tabled a very comprehensive plan on March 22, a low tax plan for jobs and growth, a plan that I campaigned on very vigorously among my constituents. I talked to them about some important individual measures, but I was not just arguing that we had a plan to grow our way out of this economic recession by reducing taxes.

All too often it is said that these tax reductions are for the rich and for big companies, but many of these tax reductions affect companies in my communities. Small communities like Cold Lake and St. Paul in Alberta who have 4,000 or 5,000 people also have 20, 30 or 40 companies that would be affected by this, and these companies affect the number of jobs in the communities.

Canadians, Albertans and the constituents in my riding understood that. They understood that we needed to grow our way out of this. They understood that we could not penalize Canadians by taxing them more. They understood that we had to be restrained in the promises that we made to them, not only during an election campaign but also once we got back to this chamber. We cannot just promise to give more, because it has to come out of someone's pocket somewhere.

One of the individual items people who were very happy with our budget concerned the firefighter's tax credit. I sat and talked to the people in Mallaig about how important it was that we had this firefighter's tax credit, that it was not just about financial recognition for volunteer firefighters, who are really the only firefighters we have in my riding, giving countless hours, some 200 or 300 hours on call at the station.

I had the opportunity to be in Goodridge giving out medals to at least a dozen people who had served their community for over 25 years in the role of a volunteer firefighter. They said to me that the government had always promised this and had always talked about it. I was proud to be part of a government that not only promised it and talked about it, but actually put it in our budget. That budget did not get to go forward, but now we have had the opportunity to re-table it and once again it is in budget 2011.

I am proud to recognize the hard work and dedication of our volunteer firefighters, not only in rural Alberta but across our country. This is not just about the financial benefit; this is about recognizing them for the hard work they do. If for no other reason, firefighters in my region should be one of the reasons members consider voting for this budget.

I also talked to seniors in St. Paul about the $300 million for the guaranteed income supplement. I explained to them that it was not about helping seniors who already had big pensions. The seniors I spoke with wanted to make sure that the increased supplement would help the poorest of the poor seniors, those who did not have pensions, those who had not had the opportunity to contribute to the Canada pension plan as much as seniors today have or my generation will have. They wanted to make sure that this $600 increase for single seniors and over $800 for couples, affecting some 680,000 seniors in this country, would go through in the budget

Once again, this is something that has been promised for many years by politicians but never really accomplished. Our government not only put it in our budget on March 22 but we have also kept it in the recent budget. If for no other reason, members across the way should think about those 680,000 seniors as they stand in the House, many of them for the first time, to vote on the budget.

One of the predominant issues in my riding over the last five and a half years, especially in the Lakeland area, has been doctor recruitment, so much so that I actually met with a board of doctors and community volunteers who recruit doctors in our area, and municipal councillors, even some provincial MLAs, not all of whom wanted to sit on the committee. We talked about the things that we needed to do to make sure that we could get doctors in our rural communities so that we would not just be reliant on foreign-trained doctors all the time. The constituents in my riding deserve the opportunity to have just as good doctors and treatment by general practitioners as people in Edmonton, Calgary and Toronto do.

This is a very big issue, and when the Prime Minister saw to it and the Minister of Finance put the $40,000 loan forgiveness for doctors in the budget of March 22, it was very well received.

Before I avoid the opposition questions, I would just like to say what a great privilege it is and how I look forward to serving under such a strong Conservative mandate.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Madam Speaker, I welcome the member back to the House. I hope he is not going to avoid the opposition questions. I think it would be a real surprise and a delight for us to have the Conservatives actually answer opposition questions. That is what we are looking for.

I would like to come back to the issue of firefighters, because no government has treated the firefighters with more disrespect than the Conservative government. We know, and the member knows, that six years ago in the House an NDP motion was brought forward to create a public safety officer compensation fund for our nation's firefighters and police officers. Conservatives voted for that NDP motion. That NDP motion was adopted by this Parliament. Now we have had five years of delay in the implementation of the public safety officer compensation fund.

What that means is that when firefighters or police officers pass away in the line of duty, their families are left destitute. That is a profound disrespect to the families of our nation's firefighters and police officers.

My question is very simple. When will the government act and put in place the public safety officer compensation fund to compensate the families of the firefighters and police officers who die in the line of duty?

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

Conservative

Brian Storseth Westlock—St. Paul, AB

Madam Speaker, I congratulate the hon. member on his re-election to this House. I am glad to see that he is turned over a new leaf and is going to be such a positive force in this 41st Parliament moving forward.

What I do know about this item in the budget is the following. I talked to one of the firefighters and his son. The father had served for over 30 years as a volunteer firefighter in our area, as his son was serving now as well. When they talk about real measures that are getting done, they talk about our volunteer firefighters tax credit. They would hope, and I know, that the member for Burnaby—New Westminster would not use this as an excuse to avoid voting for this budget and taking a real step forward for volunteer firefighters in recognizing the great work they do for all Canadians across this country from sea to sea to sea.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Madam Speaker, the government has made the decision to shut down the Canadian Wheat Board. The impact is going to be quite significant.

Given that the member is from the prairies, surely to goodness he recognizes that a vast majority of wheat farmers on the prairies support retaining the Canadian Wheat Board.

Can the member explain why the government is moving in a direction that goes against what a majority of the farmers on the prairies want to see, the retention of the Canadian Wheat Board?

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

Conservative

Brian Storseth Westlock—St. Paul, AB

Madam Speaker, I do know that we have a strong mandate across this country.

We have a particularly strong mandate with each and every rural riding affected by the Canadian Wheat Board. Farmers have told me that they want an option; they want the same option as farmers in Ontario have when it comes to selling their grain and wheat.

I understand that the hon. member is from downtown Winnipeg. I can explain what it means to a farmer to have $1 billion more income across the prairies. That income would not be from subsidies but from sales that farmers would make in having the ability to directly sell their grain and wheat.

That view does not come from me but from the many reports that have been tabled on the efficiencies of the Canadian Wheat Board.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

Portage—Lisgar
Manitoba

Conservative

Candice Bergen Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety

Madam Speaker, it appears to me that the opposition have quite an aversion to trying to raise funds on their own to support their election campaigns.

I am wondering if my hon. colleague could just talk a little bit more about what it is like to travel around his riding, talk to people and have people tell him that they support what he is doing and give him a cheque for $10 or $20, as opposed to forcing taxpayers to support parties they do not believe in.

Could my colleague talk about what it means to actually raise money for our own campaigns?

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

Conservative

Brian Storseth Westlock—St. Paul, AB

Madam Speaker, as I went around my constituency, I found that people wanted to get rid of the per vote subsidy. They were hoping that we could do it within this four-year mandate of ours, because they do not believe that taxpayers should have to subsidize parties. They believe that party members should subsidize them.

It may be $30 million, $40 million or $50 million, but if we put that money into the new horizons for seniors program or into programs that really affect every day Canadians and get real results for Canadians, that is what they expect and that is the strong mandate of this government.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

Conservative

Rick Norlock Northumberland—Quinte West, ON

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to be in this House once again, and an honour and a privilege to represent the good folks of Northumberland—Quinte West. I also congratulate the member for Westlock—St. Paul on his re-election.

May I once again, from the bottom of my heart, thank all those who worked hard on our campaign to bring me back to this most august of places. What an honour and privilege it is. My commitment to all members and all citizens of Northumberland—Quinte West is to do my absolute best on their behalf.

Today, I will be highlighting the benefits of this government's sixth consecutive budget and what these benefits mean for the constituents of Northumberland—Quinte West, and all Canadians for that matter.

As members of this House will know, this government is committed to delivering a low tax plan to Canadians which will help foster job growth and economic prosperity, while supporting Canadian families and seniors.

We still live in uncertain economic times and I believe that this budget recognizes this uncertainty by taking appropriate steps to support Canadians and limit government spending.

The next phase of Canada's economic action plan will focus on four key areas: supporting job creation; supporting families and communities; investing in innovation, education and training; and preserving Canada's fiscal advantage.

In order to foster job growth, this government's budget will support job creation through extending the accelerated capital cost allowance by helping manufacturers make new investments in machinery and equipment; by providing a hiring credit for small businesses, which will be a one time credit of up to $1,000, to encourage additional hiring; and by supporting youth entrepreneurs by adding $20 million to the Canadian Youth Business Foundation.

This budget also includes initiatives that will support Canadian families and seniors. Canada's economic action plan will support seniors by enhancing the guaranteed income supplement to eligible low-income seniors who will receive an annual top up benefit of up to $600 for single seniors and $840 for couples, helping more than 680,000 seniors across this great country. It will enhance the new horizons for seniors program by providing an additional $10 million to promote volunteerism, mentorship, and social participation for seniors. It will also enhance the medical expense tax credit by removing the limit on the amount of eligible medical expenses that could be claimed on behalf of a financially-dependent relative.

With regard to Canadian families, the government's economic action plan will support families through targeted initiatives, such as the children's arts tax credit, which will provide up to $500 in eligible fees for programs associated with arts, culture and recreational activities; the family caregiver tax credit, which will provide an amount of up to $2,000 for caregivers of loved ones with infirmities; and by extending the eco-energy retrofit homes program to help families lower their heating and electricity bills by making their homes more energy efficient.

This budget has targets and initiatives that will benefit all Canadians. However, there are also multiple aspects of this budget which benefit my riding of Northumberland—Quinte West. During public consultations and throughout the election, I spoke to thousands of my constituents who wanted their voices heard in Ottawa and their priorities brought to the forefront of Canadian politics. I believe this budget is a reflection of their priorities and I would like to outline parts of this budget that are of particular importance to my riding.

First and foremost, this government has committed $20 million in funding over the next two years for the eastern Ontario development program. The EODP is essential for the funding and support of our local community futures development corporations. These CFDCs provide direct guidance and consultation to local businesses and help foster growth and prosperity in Northumberland—Quinte West.

Second, in the next phase of Canada's economic action plan, our government will support major economic sectors, including agriculture, manufacturing and the tourism sectors, with hundreds of millions of dollars in support for innovation, investment and market diversification.

Third, this government is committed to legislating a permanent gas tax rebate per municipality. This means a total annual investment of $2 billion in gas tax funding for infrastructure priorities in Canadian municipalities. The rebate is also a sign that this government realizes the challenges that face low-income Canadians. As such, this rebate is an attempt to ensure that infrastructure costs are not downloaded to the local taxpayer.

Fourth, our government will establish a volunteer firefighter tax credit for firefighters who bravely serve our communities. This tax credit is of great importance to many of my constituents who live in communities that often rely on volunteer firefighters.

Finally, Ontario will see record-high major federal transfers totalling some $17.7 billion, an increase of nearly $7 billion from the former government. What is more, Ontario will see growing transfer support for health care with $10.7 billion, a nearly 40% increase; and for social services, over $4.5 billion, which is a 40% increase. The increased support will help hospitals, schools and other critical social services in Northumberland—Quinte West.

Canadians have asked and our government has listened. During the election, this government campaigned for a strong mandate from Canadians. We were always clear about what our budgetary policy would be if elected to serve the Canadian people once again.

The 2011 budget, the next phase of Canada's action plan, is a reflection of the strong mandate Canadians have given this government. The budget provides for a low tax plan that will encourage job growth while supporting Canadian seniors and families. As such, I would encourage all hon. members to support the Conservative government's 2011 federal budget.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

11:05 a.m.

NDP

François Lapointe Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Madam Speaker, our colleagues across the floor, the Conservatives, talk a lot about the notion of “hard working” and people who work hard. When I met several hundred small- and medium-sized business owners, it became clear that they are definitely the ones propping up the economy. Giving tax breaks to big banks is not going to prop up the economy. The owners of SMEs work very hard and they are tired. They work 16 hours a day.

Our platform included a measure to give them huge support for job creation. We talked about $3,000, $4,000 or $5,000 to allow them to create jobs and hire people, so they could consider the possibility of taking a few days off this summer. Furthermore, this kind of initiative is not very costly for the public purse, because it creates jobs and ultimately, those people will pay taxes within two or three years' time.

I would like to know how my hon. colleague can justify to small- and medium-sized business owners in his riding the fact that this government has not launched a massive hiring assistance program and is instead giving banks and oil companies tax breaks once again.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Rick Norlock Northumberland—Quinte West, ON

Madam Speaker, I welcome my hon. colleague to this House.

My hon. colleague fails to remember or did not do enough research. He will find if he does his research on previous budgets that we actually lowered taxes for small and medium-sized businesses from 12% to 11%. For those businesses, we also increased the amount they could earn before they paid those taxes.

He will have also noticed, if he read the budget closely, that there is a hiring credit of $1,000 so small and medium-sized businesses, particularly small businesses, could have a holiday from EI premiums. I have spoken to many small-business owners in my community and sometimes it is the smaller amounts that inhibit the creation of jobs. This is one extra saving that a small business could take.

The member also forgets that in one of our previous budgets, we included in employment insurance the ability for single entrepreneurs, most of whom are women, to now have maternal benefits, so they can better operate their businesses and plan for their families and future.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Joyce Murray Vancouver Quadra, BC

Madam Speaker, the hon. member referred to the children's arts tax credit and within the same breath talked about how this budget would benefit all Canadians. However, since this is not a refundable tax credit, it means that people who are not paying taxes would get nothing from that tax credit. It seems to me that only those who are already doing well would financially benefit, but those who are not are left out to fall further behind.

Could the member explain how this benefits all Canadians?

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Rick Norlock Northumberland—Quinte West, ON

Madam Speaker, I would like to welcome the hon. member back to the House. We both served in the previous Parliament.

The hon. member will recall previous budgets, some of which her party supported. However, since our government has taken office, we have lowered personal income tax to the extent that almost one million Canadians no longer pay federal income tax. What a benefit that is to many Canadians who are struggling to get by. In addition, we lowered the consumption tax, the GST, from 7% to 6% to 5%. Therefore, of the federal tax that they do pay, they now pay less.

I would like to talk about what this tax incentive does for the youth in our country to partake in arts and culture. Many families have two or three children. For example, for a family with two children, if the children play minor hockey, there is a tax benefit there and if they take art classes, there is also a tax benefit. Therefore, that family could have up to $2,000 in tax benefit.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

11:10 a.m.

Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo
B.C.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Revenue

Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Souris—Moose Mountain.

As this is the first time I have stood in the 41st Parliament, I would very much like to thank the my constituents of Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo who saw fit to elect me for a second time. I pledge my best to do a great job for our riding.

I would also like to mention the volunteers. Regardless of what party people support, Canadians owe a great gratitude to the volunteers who helped all members with our campaigns. They spent hours and hours over five weeks putting in signs, knocking on doors and answering telephones.

The last time I stood and spoke to the budget was on March 24. At that time, we had a minority government. Following a brief interlude, I am pleased to be back here with a strong, stable Conservative majority government and to move forward with phase two of our economic action plan.

First, it is important that we start by reflecting on the success of phase one. We had a plan and it worked. We had a global economic recession, the worst since the 1930s.

Yesterday I listened as the Leader of the Opposition asked where the job creation was. I will talk a bit about that and how phase one of the economic action plan worked. This will also lead into why phase two and the budget is so important.

If we look at Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, in the last 24 months 24 mills have reopened or have gone back to full production. The unemployment rate in Cariboo in April 2009 was 12.1%. In April 2011 it was 7.1%. Our unemployment rate in Kamloops was 10.6% in 2009. We are now down to 8.6%.

Since July 2009, 540,000 jobs have been created. Therefore, when the Leader of the Opposition asks where the job creation is, that is where it is. What is it? It is businesses getting back to work, recovering and investing.

I will give a couple of quick examples. The Canfor mill in the community of Clearwater had been closed for the last few years. It was a very difficult time for that community. It has recently announced that it will be investing $24 million in it and it will be reopening in the fall. That is fantastic news for the community. Why will it reopen? Because it knows that it will have a competitive corporate tax rate. It is reopening because it knows there is a continuation of the accelerated capital cost depreciation so it is able to invest this money into its mill with some benefits. It will reopen because of the trade and the increased opportunities it has for its products all over the world. It is a great success story.

Another mill, Savona, has recently reopened. The job creation is coming from this.

However, we still have some work to do in moving forward. I look at the community of Valemount and its mill, which closed and moved out. That community continues to struggle and has an unemployment rate that is much too high.

It is also important to look at the legacy left by some of the stimulus program. Again in the riding of Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo affordable housing for low income seniors has almost doubled in a couple of years. That important legacy will last forever.

Approximately two weeks ago I was at the opening of the House of Learning at Thompson Rivers University. It is a fantastic building with a new library. It is looking at supporting the aboriginal community in terms of education. We are very proud of our university and a building that was not only a partnership with the federal government, but also the provincial government and some very generous donations from community members.

I invite everyone to visit this fantastic facility. We used pine beetle wood. We have a centre for dialogue that is built on the old pit house formation. Hundreds can sit down in a circle and have dialogue. It is a fantastic facility and I invite everyone to see the great work we have done with the economic action plan, phase one.

As I indicated, we introduced the budget back in March and it was about moving to phase two. Phase two is about the government not being able to afford continuing to stimulate the economy. We need to support businesses to be successful, to create the wealth in the country for the programs and services that we so desperately want.

I had gone through a comprehensive process before the prebudget consultation and when the budget came out, I was delighted to see that the 10 measures we specifically asked for were included in it. We have had five weeks on the election trail, which was another opportunity for me to find out if we had captured what people wanted and were we moving forward in the right direction. This is what I heard over the five weeks, which reaffirmed the prebudget consultation. The budget presented back in March was a budget for Canada, for Canadians and for moving forward toward success.

One of the things that was very important to my riding was the move back to balanced budgets and to look at finding some savings within government. I looked at what some of my companies had to do because they were struggling. I believe that 5% is a very doable number and will lead us back to a very strong fiscal position.

One of the things I was privileged to participate in is the Red Tape Reduction Commission. It started the work back in January. We have had 10 round tables across the country. There has been a number of sessions. It is comprised of representatives of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business and six members of Parliament. We have finished our consultations. We are ready to start to move toward reducing the red tape burden on our small businesses. There are many fantastic ideas that I know will be successful.

There are so many great things to talk about and so little time. We have a moderate and modest blueprint to eliminate the deficit, ensure we keep taxes low and targeted investments that support jobs and growth and also improve the quality of life for seniors, families and children.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

11:15 a.m.

NDP

Wayne Marston Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

Madam Speaker, I welcome back the representative from Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo. I am pleased to hear that she has looked into the budget very thoroughly.

One thing troubles me about the budget, and I do not think it will come as any surprise because I spoke endlessly in the last Parliament. There are some 250,000 to 300,000 seniors who are living below the poverty line, most of those being women. They are living on $1,162 a month. The increases proposed by the government, and I give it credit for doing something, is only $50 a month. When a person is trying to survive on $1,162, it does not go far enough. It is targeted to 680,000. Instead, it should be $700 million to 250,000 to 300,000.

I have one other point I would like to make. The member talked about housing. Many seniors who are in assisted housing and receive any kind of an increase have it clawed back. I hope the finance minister will be talking to provincial ministers about that.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

11:20 a.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Madam Speaker, the hon. member has raised a very important question around seniors who have worked very hard and who are struggling on guaranteed income supplement and old age security. That is why we increased that amount.

People diminish the amount and the value of it. When I talk to seniors, they say that it is a month's rent and they will now have money to buy presents for my grandchildren. Looking forward, one of the reasons we need to move this process forward and get the budget implementation act through is so we can start delivering those additional funds to seniors right away.

The other thing that is very important is the new horizons program for seniors and the additional dollars for that. I have groups that have really had tremendous benefit from that program.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Madam Speaker, I welcome the hon. member back to the chamber and congratulate her on her re-election.

The member for Northumberland—Quinte West talked about the tax credit for firefighters. When I first saw that, I was very pleased. A former colleague, Rick Casson, the member for Lethbridge, did a lot of work on it. I worked with Rick on a couple of different initiatives, as well as the member for Malpeque. It looked like a pretty good thing.

The budget has a number of initiatives that look like roses, but there is a bunch of thorns around them. When I saw the tax deduction for firefighters, I thought it was a great step. However, when one gets into the details, one sees that it is a non-refundable tax credit.

There are 50 firefighters in my riding of Cape Breton—Canso. Firefighters who make less than $22,000 are not eligible. They do the same job, they take the same risks, but they get no benefit. They have to choose between the $1,000 honorarium deduction or this. Does the member see the injustice in that application?

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

11:20 a.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Madam Speaker, many in the House were incredibly supportive of the volunteer firefighter tax credit and were delighted to see it in this budget.

There are probably 16 volunteer firefighter departments throughout my riding, which I visited during the election campaign. They were, without question, absolutely delighted to see it included in the budget. I am pleased to be part of a government that is finally moving forward on this issue.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

11:20 a.m.

Saint Boniface
Manitoba

Conservative

Shelly Glover Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for coming back to the House to work alongside me on the finance committee.

I would like to take an opportunity to address the fact that in the last Parliament the Liberal Party was very much against what Mr. Rick Casson had put forward for the firefighters of our country, and this measure is going to help them.

Could she continue to talk about the need to proceed with this volunteer firefighter tax credit, given that the Liberals voted against it?

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Malpeque, PE

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The member is providing misinformation in the House. The Liberals never opposed the volunteer firefighter initiative, not at all. She should stand and be honest.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
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11:20 a.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

I thank the hon. member, but I believe that is a question of debate.

The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Revenue.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

11:20 a.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Madam Speaker, all I can say is when I visited the volunteer firefighter departments, they were absolutely thrilled with our government moving forward on this initiative.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

11:25 a.m.

Conservative

Shelly Glover Saint Boniface, MB

Madam Speaker, I am rising on the last point of order. Though I know you ruled on it, I would like to take this opportunity to say that if the Liberal Party would like me to table a list of the members who voted against it, I am happy to do that.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

11:25 a.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

As I said, I believe this is a point for debate.

Resuming debate, the hon. member for Souris—Moose Mountain.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

11:25 a.m.

Conservative

Ed Komarnicki Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Madam Speaker, first of all I would like to extend sincere appreciation to the constituents of Souris—Moose Mountain who have re-elected me yet again, in 2004-06 and 2008-11, with the highest percentage of votes in Saskatchewan. I am humbled by their support and I will do my utmost to continue to deserve their support and will do what I can to represent them fairly and to the best of my ability.

I would also like to thank the many volunteers who campaigned with me, the board of directors and of course my thanks to my wife Sally who has been a tremendous help and support on every campaign, an ever ready partner particularly on this campaign and during my stay here in Ottawa. I know that spouses make life here bearable and they certainly stand with us.

I must also mention the difficult circumstances in which the residents of Souris—Moose Mountain find themselves. Mostly throughout my riding after a very wet fall last year, we have experienced above average snowfall and rainfall and more rain that has caused flooding of farmland, damage to homes including on reserves, a heartbreaking loss of property and cattle. Land that was once seeded is now five feet under water. Areas around Estevan, including homes, have suffered much damage. It is a frustrating and dire situation. Many are tired and frustrated. Rural municipalities and villages are fighting water, doing their best, cutting roads and doing what they have to in order to preserve towns and villages.

This government, along with the provinces, has disaster relief programs in place, income protection and business risk management programs. I am hoping the programs will address these losses and provide a basis for recovery next year.

This budget sets the stage for Canada's future prosperity and a better future for all Canadians. The steps taken now will preserve jobs and continue Canada's economic growth into the future. These steps must, of course, be placed in context. Before the global recession hit, our Conservative government paid down nearly $40 billion of debt, bringing Canada's debt to its lowest level in 25 years.

While other countries struggle with an ever-increasing debt that is spiralling out of control, Canada has one of the best fiscal positions in the G7. We have the lowest net debt-to-GDP ratio in the entire G7. The independent International Monetary Fund has stated, “Canada's overall fiscal outlook in the aftermath of the crisis stands out as among the best in the G20”.

Since July 2009, nearly 540,000 new jobs were created. For our future prosperity, it is important to do the right thing and take the right steps at the right time. First we paid down debt and then when the recession hit we made a deliberate decision to run a temporary deficit to protect our economy and jobs.

Now is not a time to spend, but rather a time to return to balanced budgets and the budget sets out a plan to do so by winding down the temporary stimulus spending, putting in place targeted spending restraint measures and reviewing government overhead costs in order to balance the budget by 2014-15. This is in stark contrast to the NDP and Liberal Parties that would increase taxes by billions. In the case of the NDP, campaign promises were made to the tune of $60 billion. Both are just plain wrong.

Canadians have spoken loud and clear on this subject by electing a majority Conservative government.

With respect to the budget, Saskatchewan finance minister, Ken Krawetz, said, "We're pleased to see there was no deviation from the plan" and that the first budget was an “OK budget” and this one is as well. “It's not a spend, spend budget...but it's a cautionary budget. I think that's a good example for the province of Saskatchewan”.

In particular, he welcomed tax breaks for specific groups such as the volunteer firefighters, family members who act as caregivers and families whose children attend music camp or art classes. He was most relieved with the commitment to keep increasing health care transfers to the provinces by 10% annually. We will not do what the Liberals did and that is balance the books on the backs of ordinary Canadians, RMs, municipalities and provinces.

We must also place this budget in the context of the previous budgets. We cut taxes over 120 times. We cut the lowest personal income tax rate to 15%. We removed over one million Canadians from the tax roles. We increased the amount that Canadians can earn tax-free. We reduced the GST from 7% to 5%, putting nearly $1,000 back in the pockets of the average family. We introduced a universal child care benefit, offering families more choices for child care by providing $1,200 a year for each child under age six. Total tax reductions for an average family of four approximate $3,000.

The new budget builds on this foundation with measures such as enhancing the guaranteed income supplement by up to $600 for single seniors and up to $840 per couple per year.

I am not sure whether the NDP will support this or not, but I would certainly encourage them to support this budget. The Canadian Association of Retired Persons, CARP, said to CTV news on June 6, 2011 that they were very happy and that this issue has been an issue that they have raised many times before and it is finally something that is being addressed.

Another measure is the new family caregiver tax credit for those who care for a dependent family member who is infirm. Here is what the Canadian Caregiver Coalition had to say:

On behalf of the millions of family caregivers across the country, the Canadian Caregiver Coalition (CCC) applauds the federal government for their recognition of the tremendous time and resources required of family caregivers.

This is the kind of initiative that should have been supported when the budget was handed down in this House in March. It is the kind of initiative that should be supported now.

There is also a provision to forgive up to $40,000 in student loans for new family physicians and up to $20,000 for nurse practitioners and nurses serving underserved rural and remote communities.

As mentioned, there is the $3,000 volunteer firefighter tax credit. Here is what the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs had to say in a news release on June 6, 2011:

We were delighted...This measure will help with the recruitment and retention of volunteer firefighters across the country--

Of course we extended the eco-energy retrofit homes program.

I would say at this point that the NDP resistance should either collapse or capitulate. I would encourage the members to support this budget.

There are even more measures that include: a new hiring credit of up to $1,000 for small businesses to support local job growth; a permanent annual investment of approximately $2 billion in gas tax money to provide stable funding to municipalities; ongoing funding to the Canada periodical fund to continue to support the distribution of publications in Saskatchewan and across the country; and $60 million to the CBC/Radio-Canada in 2011-12 to provide radio and television services, and this will certainly be welcomed by the many CBC supporters in Souris—Moose Mountain.

Finally, it is heartwarming and good to see our government's commitment to end the wasteful and inefficient long gun registry, and to ensure western Canadian farmers have the freedom to sell wheat and barley on the open market.

Something that is also well received is a commitment to limit Senate terms and to phase out direct taxpayer subsidies to federal political parties over the next three years.

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation had this to say on June 6:

Eliminating the per-vote subsidy is a major victory in the fight against political welfare...this is major win for taxpayers and for democratic reform.

All in all, the budget contains positive steps that will move Canada forward in the right direction. It would ensure a strong economy. It would ensure that jobs are created. In fact the budget sets the stage for Canada's future prosperity and a better future for all Canadians.

I would ask all members from the opposition to join with us to ensure the speedy passage of the budget and to show Canadians that indeed they are working together with this government to help all Canadians have a better life and better lifestyle.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

11:30 a.m.

NDP

Niki Ashton Churchill, MB

Madam Speaker, I was interested to hear from the member across regarding his government's agenda, especially when it comes to the economy.

I would like to ask, as a fellow member of Parliament from western Canada, how that view truly reconciles with the plan to get rid of the Canadian Wheat Board which supports the livelihoods of not just farmers but rural communities all across western Canada?

Further, how does the member feel about his government's cutback of western economic diversification which is absolutely critical especially in the diversification of rural areas across Manitoba and Saskatchewan in a very large way?

Instead of seeing a strong commitment to economic development in the west, what we are seeing are the most intense cuts affecting our area.

I would like to hear how that might actually oppose the government's agenda when it comes to economic development.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

11:35 a.m.

Conservative

Ed Komarnicki Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Madam Speaker, this government's record of economic development and creating opportunities is stellar across the country from coast to coast to coast. There is no question about that. In fact, many of the initiatives that were taken were not supported by members opposite.

With respect to the Canadian Wheat Board, it is rather interesting that west of Manitoba farmers do not have an opportunity to sell their produce where they would like to sell it at the best or highest prices. For instance, anyone growing durum in Saskatchewan would have to sell through the Wheat Board at dollars per bushel less than they might in the United States.

It is simply a question of fairness. Those farmers who wish to continue to deal with the Canadian Wheat Board can so, but that should not prevent the farmers who want to deal with the issue on their own or through other agencies or bodies from doing so. This is something that should be encouraged.

I do not know of anywhere else in the world where farmers are forced to sell their product to only one source. It does not seem to make sense. In today's world, we need to give farmers the opportunity to do the best they can.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

Joyce Murray Vancouver Quadra, BC

Madam Speaker, I listened to the member's speech with interest and I have a question for him.

Government is giving a major tax break to corporations that already have a competitive tax rate and is proposing to balance the books through attrition, which means cutting the civil servants who provide services to Canadians. How is that not balancing the books on the backs of ordinary Canadians?

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

11:35 a.m.

Conservative

Ed Komarnicki Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Madam Speaker, with respect to not balancing the books on the backs of Canadians, we did not cut transfers to the provinces by $25 billion like the previous Liberal government or raid the EI account of $50 billion to pay for the deficit.

When we are dealing with corporations it is not just corporations but the vehicle by which jobs are created so that everyone in the country can work. Here is what the Financial Executives International Canada had to say:

FEI Canada is pleased with the budget’s proposed initiatives to eliminate the deficit by 2015-16 without raising taxes or reversing previously announced corporate tax decreases, measures which will foster economic growth for the benefit of all Canadians.

Also, Deloitte Canada said: “Canada's position as an attractive business destination for global enterprise--”. It allows those who choose to proceed with planned corporate tax reductions. It sends a signal that Canada is a friendly place to invest, both foreign and domestic.

This is the type of thing that encourages investment, builds jobs, builds opportunities for Canadians and is something that the opposition should support.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

11:35 a.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, to the hon. member for Souris—Moose Mountain, my condolences to the farmers in your riding for suffering the ravages of climate change.

I have a brief question relating to the member's comment about political subsidies. I refer the member to page 184 of the budget which makes it clear that taxpayer support comes in three ways. I would ask why your government has chosen to pursue the very smallest and most fair application of public support to political parties?

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

11:35 a.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

I would ask all members to direct their questions through the Speaker.

The hon. member for Souris—Moose Mountain has 30 seconds to respond.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

11:35 a.m.

Conservative

Ed Komarnicki Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Madam Speaker, it is a good first step. Certainly it goes into the millions of dollars and encourages members of Parliament and parties to raise money like everyone else. There are already provisions made to allow parties to receive money so they can exist. This requires a little initiative, a little effort, to raise money. I would encourage the member to get behind this particular proposal in the budget and support it.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Joyce Murray Vancouver Quadra, BC

Madam Speaker, I congratulate all returning and new members. I thank the citizens of Vancouver Quadra for electing me for a third time. I also thank my campaign team and all the volunteers who were so much fun to work with. I had the real pleasure of meeting with constituents from one end of the riding to the other in the last campaign.

The beginning of a new Parliament is always a critical juncture for Canada. It offers the governing party the chance to present a new vision, an exciting vision, a vision that addresses Canada's future. Unfortunately, the government has woefully failed to do that. In fact, it has presented its retread budget that is complacent fiscally, disappointingly regressive socially and worrisome environmentally. It is a budget that promotes ideology over evidence in a number of ways.

It is the government's responsibility to represent all Canadians, not just a select number of Canadians. As an opposition MP, it is my responsibility to hold the government to account, something that I will do rigorously on behalf of the constituents of Vancouver Quadra who elected me to do just that.

I do want to give credit where it is due. This is a budget that has incorporated some ideas, programs and proposals from the Liberal Party of Canada, and we are glad to see them in the budget. They were good ideas and here they are, perhaps a paler version than the Liberal Party proposed and perhaps in a slightly more regressive version but, nonetheless, things like the permanent gas tax revenue to municipalities, a small amount of relief for small businesses, home care, tax credits for volunteer firefighters and a bounce back of the eco-energy program, which the government has flip-flopped on several times already. However, it is a good thing that we have it for another year or two. I congratulate the Conservatives for listening to what that Liberals proposed.

However, the budget is absolutely not good enough. What I mean when I say that it is fiscally complacent is that the growth projections are outdated, there is no reserve in case things go sideways on the international stage and there are many risks that might happen.

The Asia Pacific Gateway, which is so critical to Canada's future, particularly to Vancouver Quadra in British Columbia, did not even deserve lip service in the throne speech.

Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Malpeque.

There is no long-term vision for prosperity in the budget and certainly no focus on the green economy, which any sensible government would see as being key to our future. In fact, the presidential candidate in France is running on the platform that if we do not address climate change and natural resource management we will not have the future prosperity that could be shared to have an equitable society.

The Conservative government does even give a nod to the importance of a green economy. Instead, there are tax cuts for large companies, like the oil and gas industry, tax cuts that are not required for competitiveness. There is very little evidence that these tax cuts will actually create jobs.

The budget is fiscally complacent and, unfortunately, socially regressive. This is a budget that contributes to inequality. I mentioned in earlier questions that the non-refundable tax credits leave out those very Canadians who need support the most.

What message is the government trying to send? Is the message that if one is not doing well financially, too bad? It will hand out some goodies but people should not even bother getting in line. That is the message that these regressive tax credits send, and that is very disappointing in the 21st century.

The budget fails to address the shameful realities faced by aboriginal communities throughout Canada.

I noticed an article in the paper today in which the minister responsible was patting the government on the back and saying that for the first time there is a government agreement to engage aboriginal peoples on these issues. That is complete nonsense. The Kelowna accord was the fruit of a whole year of working with aboriginal organizations and representatives. It actually was signed by all the provinces and territories in Canada to deliver benefits and to address the shameful conditions in aboriginal communities.

These kinds of socially regressive policies are completely regrettable at a time when we are seeing the large companies receiving a tax break that they do not need for their competitiveness.

How about honesty, transparency and the use of evidence in this budget? Once again, unfortunately, we are not told what will be cut. The finance minister will not or cannot explain the $11 billion in cuts. It is a “trust me” budget. In British Columbia, we actually call this kind of budget a “fudge it budget” because there is no clarity.

We know this not just about attrition. Attrition is fewer civil servants providing services. In Vancouver Quadra, we care deeply about the plight of sockeye salmon. There simply has not been enough research in the fisheries department over the years to know what is happening with our sockeye salmon. How will the constituents of Vancouver feel about being told that this budget is a great one because it will achieve its deficit targets through attrition, which means loss of researchers, loss of fisheries people and loss of the ability to actually identify the problem with our sockeye salmon and correct it?

The government is pretending that it is fat being cut. However, my constituents do not actually see it that way. I received a passionate letter from a constituent whose father is a veteran in his nineties. He served in the second world war, had an armed forces career all his life and is not getting the benefits that he is actually entitled to from Veterans Affairs. I gets worse. This gentleman has been homebound, not because he could not be independent, but because the very services he was promised in May 2010 were not provided because of cuts and attrition in Veterans Affairs.

I will just quote with regard to this situation:

This is a truly sad example of what budget restraints can do to the most vulnerable. To do to people who are old, disabled and who have served our country without hesitation when they were needed, is unconscionable. I am ashamed we are treating veterans this way. Please help bring the situation to the attention of the proper resources in Ottawa.

That is what these bland words of cutting fat and attrition really are. They really are affecting people. For someone to be homebound and not receiving services but who could be independent if the services that were agreed to were actually delivered is shocking and a sad situation.

I also want to touch on ideology ahead of evidence. We have a minister responsible for these budget cuts who actually created a giant pork barrel in his own riding and who, according to the Auditor General, deliberately kept public servants in the dark about how the projects were approved. Millions of dollars were taken from a fund designed to reduce border congestion and approved for that purpose and then used for toilets and park benches in the minister's riding hundreds of kilometres from the border. That is shocking. That minister was then re-appointed. How hypocritical is that?

We have had many prime ministers in the past who fought for a future that would allow all Canadians to succeed and all communities and regions to thrive and prosper. The current government is one that is cutting the regional economic development programs that support communities and jobs and, instead, shovelling the money to the corporations that do not actually need it at this point.

Prosperity means nothing if it is not shared. We need to create prosperity and we need to share the prosperity so that all Canadians have a chance to pursue their goals, to have their lives work and to contribute to Canada. This budget does not do that and I will not be supporting it.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

11:50 a.m.

NDP

Niki Ashton Churchill, MB

Madam Speaker, I congratulate my colleague on her election to the House.

She made reference to a real gap in the budget with regard to the investment in aboriginal people's programs and investments that their communities are depending on. As she pointed out, the reality that aboriginal people face is a very difficult one across our country.

Given the government's complete lack of not only leadership but investment in critical needs when it comes to education, health, housing, water and sewer services that are at third world living conditions in some of the communities I represent, would she not agree that, as the aboriginal communities grow, these issues will become more difficult and their lives will be more challenging under the watch of the Conservative government?

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

Joyce Murray Vancouver Quadra, BC

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the member pointing out the future of aboriginals as we go forward with a program like the government is proposing with a 45% cut in aboriginal housing. How can that be defended?

I have been to Iqaluit and a number of aboriginal communities and I know there is disappointment and despair in those communities. The government is doing nothing except patting itself on the back. It has cut the very programs and agreements that were intended to address this shameful inequality many years ago.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

Rick Norlock Northumberland—Quinte West, ON

Madam Speaker, once again it is a pleasure to welcome my friend back to this most august of places.

I understand many of the issues that she has raised. It was part of her party's platform and that is why she is here. I am here to put forward my party's platform as part of the government.

However, I somewhat bristled when she mentioned veterans and their plight. It was under a previous Liberal government that 3,500 allied veterans were removed from the veterans list. We reinstated them. There were 3,500 veterans who were stripped from the list. It was a Liberal government that cut benefits to veterans. Some parts of the VIP program were taken from them.

She said that her constituent was having issues with Veterans Affairs. I can assure the member that when my constituents come to see me, I advise them of the appeal processes. I hold their hands and we walk right through the process. I would say that almost all the time, if they are dealing with legitimate issues such as benefits being taken from them that they are entitled to, we get them.

I wonder if she could explain to me why the Liberals took 3,500 veterans off the veterans list.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

Joyce Murray Vancouver Quadra, BC

Madam Speaker, I will first note that the member may be here to promote his government's platform but I am here to serve the constituents of Vancouver Quadra.

I will read another quote regarding the situation with Veterans Affairs. It reads, “The problem seems to stem from the Veterans Affairs' staff being overwhelmed with excessive numbers of cases to handle”. This constituent received approval for the benefits that were being proposed by the physiotherapist. Everything that could be done was done, except for delivering what was agreed. We are working on that, but because of the attrition and the cuts, there are impacts on individuals that are unacceptable. That is the government's approach to eliminating the deficit. It is mostly necessary because of the reduction of the tax rates for the large businesses that are already competitive.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

11:55 a.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Malpeque, PE

Madam Speaker, first, I would like to express my profound thanks and appreciation to the constituents of Malpeque for having demonstrated their confidence in me in this, my seventh, election. It is an honour and a privilege to have the opportunity once again to represent the riding of Malpeque in the House of Commons. As always, I am committed to taking their specific issues forward, to work on their cases and to aggressively put forward issues that I think would benefit Canadians.

The questions my constituents want answered, and which I attempted to find answers for during the election campaign, rise from the intentions of the government, outlined in its projected estimates and budget.

The new budget is basically the same as the old budget we were questioning when it was tabled, just a little bit worse. One thing I will admit the government is fairly famous for is changing language, trying to make things sound like something they are not.

On page 218 of the budget tabled in this 41st Parliament is a table covering strategic review savings. Really, we have to be clear on this: strategic review savings are not really strategic review savings but serious cuts. The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency will be cut by $31.9 million over three years, and that is only one of the agencies. All of the regional agencies are to be cut, the one in Quebec and the one in western Canada. Regional development is there to assist the regions, to give them the opportunity to have economic opportunity and prosperity for their citizens, and what does the government do instead of investing in those agencies and investing in people? It is cutting them, and cutting the one in Atlantic Canada by $31.9 million.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada is another very important department for Atlantic Canada and all of Canada, including central Canada and the B.C. coast. What is the government going to do to Fisheries and Oceans Canada in terms of cuts? It will cut $84.8 million over three years. That is a department that is supposed to provide safety for the fishermen, to provide opportunity for them in terms of the fisheries industries.

Human Resources and Skills Development Canada is another extremely important department for the country moving ahead.

As people are being laid off, the government likes to talk about the jobs it has created, but what it does do not tell us is where full-time jobs have been lost. What we have in this country in their place are part-time jobs, lower paying part-time jobs, as a result of this Conservative regime over the last five years.

Instead of maintaining services under Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, giving people extra training and assisting them to get better education so they can improve their jobs and their pay scales, the government will cut $495.1 million from the department over three years.

Industry Canada is to be cut, as well as Infrastructure Canada, which is very important. If we are to have a prosperous country, we have to design and develop infrastructure. What does the budget do? It will cut $124.4 million.

It is absolutely unbelievable, but the government's language to Canadians is that these are strategic review savings. No, these are cuts to the very services and programs that Canadians need and desire so they can become prosperous individuals, and it is done in a time of deficit.

Yes, at one point in time, corporate taxes needed to be lowered, but when we lower corporate taxes we should not be borrowing money from our grandchildren to do so. That is what the government is doing, cutting services to Canadians and borrowing money from our grandchildren in order to give the wealthiest corporations in Canada greater tax cuts, $4 billion in fact, so they can return greater profits to their shareholders.

The proof is in about the tax cuts over the last number of years. They did not create jobs and did not increase productivity, and the companies that received them from our previous government, and this one as well, did not make the proper investments from these tax breaks.

The fact of the matter is that corporate taxes in Canada are 25% below those in the United States, so our corporate tax rates are already very competitive.

The Prime Minister has claimed that his government will maintain the core services of Canadians. Therefore, the question remains, what are the core services?

When asked to define core services, the Prime Minister made reference only to health transfers to provinces and CPP benefits. Following that logic, obviously everything else is on the table. That is what concerns me.

Following the Prime Minister's own statements, there are likely few programs or services that Canadians will not see negatively impacted. The only issue is why does this Prime Minister and this government not have the integrity or the courage to tell Canadians what they intend to eliminate?

Let us take a look at some of the facts. In my province, Fisheries and Oceans is very important. Small craft harbour spending is critical to the safety of fisherman in that province. In the budget of March 22, it was announced that beginning this year, DFO will be cut by $84.8 million. What will be lost? In the spending plans for DFO released on March 1, the budget for small craft harbours will be cut by 44% in the coming years.

On March 15, the then Minister of Fisheries and Oceans made a commitment that $72.4 million would be spent on repairing storm damaged harbours, of which $6.5 million would go to P.E.I. However, as is so often the case on that side of the House, what the minister failed to say was that it was really not an immediate commitment but spending over three years. Furthermore, the minister also failed to tell us that only $15 million would appear in the budget, and it is in this budget, for small craft harbours across the country. As well, the minister failed to say that $14 million would be spent on storm damaged harbours this year and only $1 million next year.

The question is this. Where is the missing $57 million in that specific example? I raise that example to make a point. I believe my colleague talked earlier about fudging the numbers, and that is what this government is up to.

However, what is very serious for this country is the fact that the Prime Minister will not commit to what he means by core services. Canadians need to know. We need to have some answers from the Prime Minister on what areas he will cut.

I see some of my colleagues on the other side from the previous parliament's agriculture committee. We already know from the estimates that he is cutting $418 million from agriculture programs.

Why will the government not in fact tell us?

The last point I would like to make is critical to P.E.I. The Prime Minister went across the country and announced some mega energy projects. However, it was the Prime Minister who cancelled the third cable from P.E.I. to the mainland when he first became Prime Minister, a signed agreement between the previous premier Pat Binns and the previous Liberal Government of Canada. Just a few months ago, when he was dealing with the megaproject for a cable running across from the Churchill River to the Maritimes, the Prime Minister had an opportunity to make the commitment to reconnect P.E.I. to that cable, and he failed to do so.

What does this Prime Minister have against Prince Edward Island and Atlantic Canada? I ask his colleagues on the other side of the House to be honest with us and tell us exactly what will be cut in this $11 billion worth of cuts to Canadians. Be honest with us and give us some straightforward answers.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

12:05 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Storseth Westlock—St. Paul, AB

Mr. Speaker, I will be honest. I do remember the cuts made by the former Liberal government to the provinces and municipalities. It was very hard on health care distribution in our province of Alberta.

What I also am proud of is that we are part of a government that is increasing health, social and education transfers by 6%.

The member was the former agriculture critic for the Liberal Party of Canada. He created their agriculture policy, which was soundly defeated and rejected by western Canadian farmers.

Will he now stand up and admit that our government has a strong mandate from Canadians, particularly western Canadian farmers, given that we hold every seat on the prairies, to move forward with our mandate and changes to agriculture and agriculture policy?

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, in his preamble, my colleague referred to cuts made by the Liberal government in 1995 when we were left with a $42 billion deficit by the Mulroney government. The country was basically seen as bankrupt by stockholders on the New York Stock Exchange.

The members opposite should almost be kissing the shoes of Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin every day for giving them the opportunity to come into government with a surplus. The only problem is that they have taken that surplus and driven this country into a $56 billion debt. Instead of doing things for Canadians, the Conservatives are giving corporations tax cuts and taxing our grandchildren down the road. They should be ashamed of themselves.

If I have time, I would like to discuss the Wheat Board.

I challenge the member opposite. Call a plebiscite on the Wheat Board and we will support what farmers want. The fact of the matter is that an election is not a plebiscite on the Canadian Wheat Board.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

12:05 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, I do not think any member of this House would want to kiss the feet of any former Liberal leader.

However, I did want to come back to the point the member raised. He said that people in Atlantic Canada feel left out. Certainly, people in western Canada feel left out by the government. We have the government talking about massive cutbacks to our fisheries programs. As the member knows, we have seen in Pacific Canada a virtual collapse of the sockeye salmon run.

We are seeing cutbacks in agricultural supports, and we know that Alberta has the lowest farm receipts of any province in the country. That is after a couple of decades of provincial Conservative rule and half a decade of federal Conservative rule. Where are the farmers faring the worst? They are faring the worst in Alberta. So what does the government propose? It proposes gutting the Canadian Wheat Board when we know full well that farmers have just voted to reinforce it and to have a board of directors that actually supports the Canadian Wheat Board.

The Conservatives are certainly not working in the farmers' interests. They are certainly not working in western Canadians' interests.

Could the member comment on the direction of the government?

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, what we are seeing on the direction of the government from the Minister of Agriculture, no doubt encouraged by the Prime Minister, is an absolute affront to democracy, an affront to farm power and an affront to farm power in the marketplace.

The Canadian Wheat Board maximizes the returns back to primary producers from the international marketplace. That is why it is there. It was supported in the last election. Indeed, 80% of the elected directors are pro-Wheat Board. That tells us there is strong support from the farm sector.

However, rather than abiding by democratic principles and giving farmers a say, the government is looking at trying to violate the law, getting around the law and bringing something into this House and killing the Canadian Wheat Board. It is as simple as that.

I ask the members opposite, what is going to happen to producer cars? What is going to happen to the government guarantee under the Canadian Wheat Board?

The backbenchers on the other side, who never can speak for themselves in this House of Commons, have to accept their responsibility for taking away farm marketing power for primary producers in the marketplace. That is the albatross that will be hung around the Conservatives' neck if they continue with this silly decision to destroy organized marketing in this country.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

12:10 p.m.

Calgary East
Alberta

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, as this is my first time speaking in the 41st Parliament, first let me congratulate you on being appointed assistant deputy chair of committee of the whole. I also congratulate all the new members in this House.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the voters of Calgary East for sending me to this House again for the sixth time and with the highest majority that I have ever received.

On a personal note, this was the most difficult election I have ever had. In the middle of the election I suddenly lost my brother in the U.K. The loss of my brother was a great shock to my family. He was very close to me and participated in all of my elections. It was with sadness that in the election, in which I received the highest majority, he was no longer with me. I am dearly going to miss him.

On another element of this election, it was quite interesting that in Calgary there was an intensive attack on me from the Calgary Herald editorial board. I must emphasize the editorial board because the Calgary Herald reporters were very nice in telling me that they supported me, but this editorial board has taken an anti-Deepak stand from day one. Whenever it can, it will take any opportunity to knock me for reasons only known to the board.

What is very interesting about the Calgary Herald editorial board is that it is the only media outlet in Calgary that is completely out of touch. The other media outlets had balanced reporting during the campaign, except for this editorial board.

I mentioned to the editorial board that it seemed quite strange to me that here we have a paper representing a multicultural city like Calgary, yet the Calgary Herald editorial board does not have a single visible minority on its board to give a different point of view. However, that is part and parcel of democracy in this country. I have moved forward because the people of Calgary East gave me a resounding mandate to come back. They not only gave me a mandate but a very strong mandate to this government as well.

Let there be absolutely no doubt in anybody's mind, despite what the opposition says, we received a very strong mandate from the people of Canada. They gave us a majority and told us that we had four a half years to run this country. Our budget reflects that mandate. Let us get on with business, let us start running this country, and get things going.

On the doorsteps of Calgary East I heard people comment on election costs and that there was a waste of $300 million. There was no need for the election because the priorities of Canadians were different. Their priority was not playing politics.

What are the priorities of Canadians?

The first priority for Canadians are jobs. A good-paying job would take care of families and give the necessary security. Canadians want to see this economy move forward and this government has the best record in this economy.

I do not have to say anything, the OECD and everybody knows that.

During the crisis that took place, Canada stood out as one of the few countries that had sound economic management. The credit goes to this government contrary to what the member from the Liberal Party said, that it was the former Prime Minister. We can forget that.

I know the policies of the former Liberal government. If it had such good policies, its members would not be sitting over there at the end by themselves.

It was this government that addressed the issue at the time when there was a serious global recession. This government provided the necessary economic stimulus package for the economic conditions to ensure that Canadians had jobs.

Having said that, the second stage of that economic action plan means we now re-entrench to ensure that the gains we made remain. That is why in this budget we have said we will be balancing the budget.

The most important thing is that we will be balancing the budget. Of course, that may require a few painful here and there cuts, but not too much. Most importantly, one must remember that during the recession, when it could have been very painful, this government stood on a phenomenal record.

Second, I heard from seniors in Calgary East about jobs. Seniors have worked for this country and brought us to where we are. And seniors are feeling the pinch of the recession.

This government has worked very hard. This government has a seniors minister. This government has brought in policies to ensure that seniors are taken care of. The budget presented in March, which these parties defeated, had strong programs for seniors. Now the opposition is standing up and saying they support seniors.

Our government has programs for seniors and things are happening, so why do the opposition parties always vote against the budget?

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Vancouver South.

Our government is investing in communities. It is very critical and very important that our communities are safe.

This government has a record of bringing sound bills that will not only fight crime but will also invest in crime prevention.

Who defeated these measures? Those guys. It is nice to know that the separatist party is not here anymore. It is good to know that.

Let us go back. This government is going to bring all of these very important key things to Canadians, all part and parcel of our moving forward agenda. This agenda will see bills coming forward that address the needs of Canadians.

Ultimately, at the end of the day, it is very important that we listen to what our constituents are telling us. I have had the great honour and privilege of listening to what my constituents told me on the streets. I will bring those values and views here to the Parliament of Canada, the Government of Canada, and to my colleagues.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

12:15 p.m.

NDP

Dany Morin Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take a look at a national challenge.

As the member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, I come from a rural region that relies on funding from economic development agencies. The government has made major cuts in this area, complicating the lives of those living in Canada's rural regions who rely on these funds to diversify their economy.

Why is the government abandoning the regions in their budget, particularly given that their campaign slogan was about our region in power?

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai Calgary East, AB

Mr. Speaker, let me congratulate the hon. member on being elected to the House for the first time.

When we make an economic statement and a plan, it encompasses the nation completely. We have made business cuts, tax cuts to assist families and to stimulate the economy. The whole stimulation that will take place in the Canadian economy is going to benefit his region as well.

As part and parcel of this budget, a balanced budget will put Canada's economy in a sound position which will benefit the member's region as well.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, I want to welcome back the member for Calgary East. I have enjoyed his friendship and collegiality over the years. I know he would be disappointed if I did not make note of the contradiction he made in his comments. He first said the cuts were going to be painful and then there were going to be cuts, at which point he caught himself and said a few cuts here and there.

If we look at the budget's impact on Atlantic Canada, it is like Edward Scissorhands went through line departments. We are seeing cuts to Marine Atlantic, HRSDC, Fisheries and Oceans and ACOA.

Does my friend and colleague not see the disproportionate amount of burden that is being carried by the people of Atlantic Canada through the cuts in this budget?