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 budget.

Topics

Financial Statement of the Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

4:40 p.m.

NDP

Pierre Dionne Labelle Rivière-du-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, there is the problem of income for seniors, and there are the problems of essential services, such as health care and home care services. Seniors simply do not have all the support that a government or a society should be giving them. Massive cuts were made under the Liberals, particularly to health care funding. The huge federal deficit was offloaded onto the provinces. Then, that deficit was offloaded onto the hospitals. Now, our hospitals are in debt. A 16-hour wait in an emergency room is a long time for a senior. I think that the whole philosophy needs to change. We need to look for financial resources where they exist. Now, they are being used for speculation on the economy, which is plunging us into successive crises. We must use these margins and redistribute wealth in Canada, so that Canadians have access to free, high-quality services and so that these services are not abolished. That would benefit society as a whole, not just one small group.

Financial Statement of the Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

4:45 p.m.

Eglinton—Lawrence
Ontario

Conservative

Joe Oliver Minister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, as this is my first time standing in the House, I would like to thank the electors of Eglinton—Lawrence for their confidence in electing me as their member of Parliament. Eglinton--Lawrence is a wonderfully diverse riding in the heart of Toronto and a riding that had not elected a Conservative member before. During the next four years, I will represent the interests and reflect the values of all the residents of the riding to the best of my ability.

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Elgin—Middlesex—London.

It is fitting that my first address to this chamber is on a topic of great personal interest: fiscal policy and the economy of the country. My career has been devoted to capital markets and securities regulation which provides the relevant perspective both to my role as a member of Parliament and minister of the Crown.

These last years have been a difficult time for Canadians across the country. Jobs have been lost, savings have been depleted and families have had to put off their dreams for a well-earned retirement.

While the global recession did not begin in Canada, Canadians and the people around the world were reminded that we are indeed not an island. What happens in neighbouring countries and distant lands can have a profound effect on our local communities, especially for a great trading country like Canada. This is true now more than ever.

What began as a credit collapse in the United States' housing market quickly grew to an international financial crisis, a deep global recession and a debt crisis in sovereign governments in Europe.

While Canada was not immune, we remained strong while others floundered. The recession began later, cut less deeply and ended sooner in Canada. This was the result of many factors, including the prudent regulation of our banking system, the resilience of our businesses, the resourcefulness of our people and the strong action of our government.

These actions protected our economy by means of one of the larger stimulus programs in the world. Canada's economic action plan invested in our communities with historic infrastructure investments, invested in our people with targeted tax cuts and invested in our most vulnerable with improvements in EI. And it yielded results.

Throughout the recession, Canada fared better than the other G7 countries. The number of Canadians who are employed has increased by nearly 540,000 since July 2009. The economy is growing again, our banks are solid and investment is on the rise.

However, we are not out of the woods. We must continue to focus on the economy and our long-term financial future. The next phase of Canada's economic action plan will provide a framework for the future of Canada's economy, ensuring jobs that are created and growth that continues.

I would like to now focus on how budget 2011 relates to my new portfolio, natural resources.

In a few weeks on the job, my life has consisted of briefings, meetings, announcements, events, planes, trains and automobiles. While hectic, it has also been the start of what is promising to be one of the most rewarding professional experiences of my life.

Budget 2011 builds on the great work of my predecessors at Natural Resources Canada. Under the next phase of Canada's economic action plan, we are supporting Canada's leadership in developing and promoting clean energy technologies.

As part of the next phase of Canada's economic action plan, we are supporting Canada's leadership in developing and promoting clean energy technologies. Since 2006, our government has invested roughly $10 billion in clean energy development and green job creation. One of the biggest successes of the past few years has been our eco-energy retrofit-homes program.

Since 2007, this successful initiative has allowed Canadians to benefit from grants to improve the energy efficiency of their homes. It is also an essential economic stimulus for communities across Canada. To date, our government has invested $745 million in this program, allowing for energy efficiency retrofits to half a million Canadian homes.

In the new budget, we are investing $400 million to extend the eco-energy retrofit-homes program in the current fiscal year, which will give Canadian families more time to take advantage of the grants of up to $5,000 to offset the cost of improving the energy efficiency of their homes.

Let me now turn to another pillar of the Canadian economy, the forestry sector. I want to assure the House that we are standing behind workers who depend on the forestry industry in hundreds of Canadian communities.

I want to assure hon. members that we support workers who depend on the forestry industry in hundreds of Canadian communities.

Even at the best of times, these hard-working men and women face many challenges. Now, during the ongoing global difficulties, these challenges are that much greater. We must diversify our markets to ensure the ongoing success of our forestry sector.

In 2010, the IMF projected that advanced economies would grow under 3%, while emerging economies were expected to grow by over 7%. That is why our government is focusing on expanding our free trade network and creating links to developing countries around the world, and we are getting results. Since forming the government, we have seen a 600% increase in softwood lumber exports to China. It is an amazing success story that budget 2011 is building on.

The next phase of Canada's economic action plan invests $60 million to help forestry companies innovate and tap into new opportunities abroad.

Canada's economic action plan has invested $170 million over two years to transform the forestry industry and improve its long-term competitiveness.

This builds on the significant support provided by the government to help the forestry sector in making the transition toward higher-value activities and expanding to new markets. This includes $1 billion for the pulp and paper green transformation program in order to support capital projects in the forestry sector that offer clear benefits to the environment.

These measures will help address the challenges facing the forestry sector and the workers and communities who depend on it. We will continue to implement measures that sharpen Canada's competitiveness, productivity and capacity for innovation.

These are just two of the important initiatives taken to strengthen our energy sector and our natural resource sector. There is much more in the budget, including significant funds to support clean and sustainable energy.

It is the right budget for families, the right budget for our resource sector, the right budget for Canadians. All members of the House should stand up and support this budget.

Financial Statement of the Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

4:50 p.m.

NDP

Andrew Cash Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, first of all, I would like to congratulate the member opposite for his historic victory.

My question is about the support the government is willing to give seniors.

In my riding of Davenport, I spent many months, in fact over a year, knocking on doors and listening to seniors every day who called this plan an insult at less than two dollars a day. When we talk about a $600 increase for seniors, it is not $600 a week or a month, but $600 a year or less than two dollars a day.

The member opposite from Toronto knows how much one can buy with less than two dollars. How can less than two dollars a day lift any senior out of poverty?

Financial Statement of the Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

Joe Oliver Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am somewhat surprised that the member opposite, having voted against the budget, is on the side that he purports to be.

Our Conservative government recognizes that Canada's seniors help build and make our country great. That is why the next phase of Canada's economic action plan introduces new measures to improve the quality of life of, and expand the opportunities for, Canadian seniors. It includes increasing the guaranteed income supplement for seniors by $600 for single seniors and $840 for couples, thereby helping more than 680,000 seniors across the country; enhancing the new horizons for seniors program; extending the targeted initiative for older workers; eliminating the mandatory retirement age for federally regulated employees; and extending the eco-energy retrofit program, which I referred to earlier.

These measures build on the over $2.3 billion in annual tax relief our government has provided to seniors and pensioners since 2006, including removing over 85,000 seniors from the tax rolls, introducing pension income splitting, increasing the age credit amount, doubling the pension income credit and increasing the guaranteed income supplement.

Financial Statement of the Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

John McCallum Markham—Unionville, ON

Mr. Speaker, first of all, I would like to congratulate the minister not only for his election but also for his appointment to an important role in cabinet. I definitely think it is good for Canada when a person of his experience and knowledge decides to enter into public service.

The member said he would represent the values of his constituents. My question is not about a multi-million dollar item but a question of values, because one item in the budget did offend me.

For those with children taking music lessons, for example, there is a tax credit worth $75 per child. However, parents only receive that credit if they have enough money to be paying income tax. There are about nine million Canadians who do not pay income tax. It turns out that a single mother earning $20,000 would not benefit from this $75, whereas children of better off parents would.

How does this reflect the values of your constituents, Mr. Minister, to have such a program where only the well-off children get benefits for music lessons but not the poorer ones?

Financial Statement of the Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

Joe Oliver Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for his kind remarks and affirmation of my credentials for my new responsibilities.

This government has introduced measures that benefit the average family by $3,500. Not every measure will benefit every category. The member opposite had a distinguished career as an economist in a large chartered bank and would know there are a variety of measures.

Overall, we have done a great deal for Canadians in every field. Growing the economy is the way to benefit Canadians. I personally canvassed over 35,000 doors and I heard that message. It was a message that was reaffirmed on election day.

Financial Statement of the Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

June 9th, 2011 / 5 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

Before I resume debate, I would just like to remind all hon. members to address their comments to the Chair. I know that for new members this is not always the natural thing to do, but it is required.

Second, if members could keep an eye on the Chair when speaking, we sometimes signal when a member's time is coming to an end. Your co-operation is greatly appreciated.

Resuming debate, the hon. member for Elgin—Middlesex—London.

Financial Statement of the Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

5 p.m.

Conservative

Joe Preston Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is great to see you in the chair today.

I would like to start by thanking the very smart voters of Elgin—Middlesex—London who re-elected me as their member of Parliament and by thanking the great team that made it possible, including my wife who has supported me through four elections, and the hardworking staff who help me with my vision of constituency service.

I am honoured to represent those people here in this place. I represent an area of Canada that has spectacular beauty, a place of incredible history, a place of tradition and family values. Elgin—Middlesex—London is exactly as the name suggests, a sum of different parts. It has 80 kilometres of Canada's southern coasts, including Lake Erie beaches and fishing ports, bluffs, incorporating Canada's early pioneer history.

Elgin—Middlesex—London is proud of its agricultural history and century old family farms and how it feeds Canada. Elgin—Middlesex—London is a mixture of small- and medium-size municipalities, groups of villages and towns with a proud heritage and hard-working people, including part of Canada's tenth largest city, London, with all the cultural diversity and big city offerings of university, colleges, exciting sports teams and a mix of commerce and manufacturing.

Elgin—Middlesex—London also includes St. Thomas, Ontario, a fun-sized city that has its own small town volunteerism and family friendly atmosphere. Elgin—Middlesex—London also embraces the Middlesex portion, the thriving municipality of Thames Centre and more great agricultural production by great farming families.

As members will realize, this riding is a snapshot of just about all things Canadian: hardworking families; manufacturing, big, small, and medium; post-secondary education; seniors and veterans; agricultural producers, though back home it is still okay to call them farmers; big and medium cities and small villages; and even commercial fishing; and proud Canadians who work hard and believe in democracy, the rule of law and who want a good life for their families.

Now that I have shared with members where I am from, let me share why this budget brings Elgin—Middlesex—London something for all, sharing the bounty that is Canada for those who work hard every day to make it that way.

Let us first start with what this budget brings for families. I cannot start with what the budget brings without saying what has already been done for families over the five years of this government. Let us talk about cutting taxes 120 times since forming government. Let us talk about cutting the lowest personal income tax rate to 15%. Let us talk about removing a million Canadians from the tax rolls. Let us talk about increasing the amount Canadians can earn tax-free. Let us talk about reducing the GST from 7% to 6% to 5%, and putting nearly $1,000 back in the pocket of every Canadian family.

We introduced the universal child tax benefit, offering families more choice in child care by providing $1,200 a year. I could go on and I think I will.

We introduced the child tax credit. We introduced the child fitness tax credit. Later on, I will tell the House about another new child tax credit. We brought in the landmark tax-free savings account, the best and newest way to save money since the RRSP. We eliminated the marriage penalty for one-earner families. We introduced the registered disability savings plan. We introduced a first-time homebuyer's tax credit and expanded it.

Due to the strong work of this government over its first five years, we have a strong record of tax relief that includes total savings for a typical family of over $3,000. That is what we did before this budget.

Let us talk about what we did in this one. There is a new child arts tax credit, which one of the members just mentioned. There is a new family caregiver tax credit. There is an enhanced medical expenses tax credit, as we removed the $10,000 limit on this credit. We are extending the eco-energy retrofit program so that people can make their homes more energy efficient, therefore saving themselves money. We are helping students in a number of ways, allowing them to earn more money towards an exemption on their loans.

It is incredible what we have been able to do for families. I wish I had time just to talk about families, but I am going to switch to business.

What have we done for small business? Again, I will not start with what is in this budget. Let us start with what we have already done, what we have been able to accomplish in our first five years of government.

We have increased the small business limit to $500,000. The amount of money small businesses can earn has grown so that small businesses can actually become bigger while still paying small business tax rates.

We reduced the small business tax rate, speaking of that, from 12% to 11%, making small businesses more successful. What do we have in this budget for small businesses? There is a new hiring tax credit for small business, a temporary one-time credit using money that would be submitted to the government for EI. People can use it to hire new people and expand employment in this country.

Reducing red tape is something I have heard a lot. As a small businessman myself, when knocking on the doors of businesses during this last campaign I heard a lot about red tape and how much time it takes for businesses just to comply with all the regulations at the different levels of government. We will reduce that. We have put together a commission and we have already started our work.

Supporting youth entrepreneurs is in this budget. As a person who started my own business when I was in my teens, I understand what this is like. That was a few years ago. We put $10 million in additional support toward youth entrepreneurs, young people who want to reach out and grab the bounty that Canada has, operate their own businesses and, yes, in time employ other Canadians and increase employment.

We extended the accelerated capital cost allowance. It will help manufacturers and businesses purchase the equipment they need to make their businesses more efficient and profitable and, therefore, be able to expand their businesses, hire more people and, as a result, create more jobs. That is for small businesses. There is more but I do not have time for all of it. I am going to go on to big businesses now.

Financial Statement of the Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

5:05 p.m.

An hon. member

Do your best.

Financial Statement of the Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

Joe Preston Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Yes, I will do my best.

We have lowered taxes for all businesses. We introduced the temporary accelerated capital cost allowance that I already talked about, giving businesses the ability to buy better, newer and faster equipment to make their businesses run better. Over the past five years, we have eliminated the cost-killing corporate surtax. We also have helped provinces get rid of their capital taxes.

We have enhanced scientific research and development. During the previous five years that we were in government we visited a lot of universities, colleges and businesses that have really been able to capitalize and commercialize on the research and development opportunities we offered to them. I have already mentioned that we have extended the accelerated capital cost allowance again in this budget. Speaking about this budget, this is where we are at.

Supporting seniors has been mentioned a lot today, as well as increasing the GIS, enhancing the new horizons program, extending the targeted initiative for older workers, eliminating the mandatory retirement age for federally-regulated employees and we have already talked about extending the eco-energy program to help make homes more energy efficient and save people money. These are the things that we have been able to do.

Today I have discussed an area of Canada that I represent and the positive differences within it. I have talked about some of the positive steps in budget 2011 and how they will make Elgin—Middlesex—London a better place, indeed make Canada a better place.

I just spent 35 days touring my riding, though I forget what caused that. I had discussions with Canadians and constituents and I found some people who have a fairly negative outlook on Canada as a country. I am here to say that I do not and the great people of Elgin—Middlesex—London think Canada is the best place on the face of this earth. What we have been able to provide them in this budget makes it just a bit better.

Collectively we are reminded often that Canada is the best place to live and we should celebrate that. Canada is looking good.

Financial Statement of the Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

5:05 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to ask my colleague from Elgin—Middlesex—London to imagine with us, to dream with us, just how much better Canada could be if the Conservatives had applied some of the rhetoric that they espouse now post-budget into the actual document.

I would remind my colleague that the sum total of all of the social spending and the goodies, of which there were crumbs from the table that fell into much needed social spending, pales in comparison to the gargantuan $6 billion corporate tax cuts that the government is allowing to go through uninterrupted even though both of the opposition parties have been urging it to reconsider this.

The NDP is not against a tax cut for small business. I would ask my colleague from Elgin—Middlesex—London if he knows what the small business tax is in the socialist paradise of Manitoba? When the NDP took power in Manitoba in 1999, the small business tax was 11%, but incrementally over 10 years we have put it down from 11% to 10% to 9% to 8% to 7% to 6%. Guess what it is now? It is a big fat goose egg, zero.

My colleague should not say that we are against tax cuts for small business or that we are the tax and spend party. When we have the chance we actually give small businesses a break on their taxes but we are vehemently opposed to the largest corporate giveaway since the CP Railroad and this wheelbarrow full of cash the Conservatives are dumping into corporate Canada for no appreciable benefit and for no good reason with no strings attached.

Financial Statement of the Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

Joe Preston Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Mr. Speaker, my Winnipeg friend and I have had a few of these discussions over time and I appreciate his comments today.

He was right. I was about to get up and say he had never met a tax he did not like to hike but apparently he has found one, so there is one he does not like to hike. That may be the only one in his repertoire so I am pretty happy to suggest that he still has not met many taxes he does not like to hike and has never met spending he did not like to increase.

As I shared in my debate, the wise people of Elgin—Middlesex—London have chosen a Conservative government with a better plan.

Financial Statement of the Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member mentioned the eco-energy retrofit program. That program was put in place by the previous Liberal government, was cancelled by the Conservative government and on the eve of the election it brought it back for a year. These types of programs, when they are put in place for a short period like a year, do not provide the same kind of stability for small businesses involved in green renovation than a longer term approach would provide.

A company called Sustainable Housing in my riding had 50 employees when the Liberal program was in place. That number went down to about 16 employees when the program was cancelled. The company is now seeing this new program for the next year and there is a lot of uncertainty as to whether or not it really can expand and give people job security as it does so.

Would my colleague agree that it would make more sense to extend this program for four or five years because these are major decisions that homeowners have to make and major decisions for small businesses that are expanding into the green jobs of tomorrow, in this case green renovations?

Financial Statement of the Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

Joe Preston Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Mr. Speaker, I welcome the member for Kings—Hants back to the House. I was going to say it is nice to see him, but I almost cannot from here.

Financial Statement of the Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Kings—Hants, NS

I can see you Joe.