House of Commons Hansard #122 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

(Return tabled)

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, I ask that the remaining questions be allowed to stand.

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

Is that agreed?

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Request for Emergency Debate
Routine Proceedings

May 11th, 2012 / 12:15 p.m.

NDP

Guy Caron Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House to request an emergency debate on the possibility of splitting the budget implementation bill, also known as Bill C-38.

As you probably know, a week ago now, the hon. member for Parkdale—High Park, the House Leader of the Official Opposition and I tried to work with the government to split the bill into separate pieces that could be studied more thoroughly.

This bill is very large, has a very broad scope and affects over 60 laws. That is why we should examine it more thoroughly. This has been our party's position from the beginning.

As you undoubtedly know, House of Commons Procedure and Practice states that an emergency debate is legitimate when the matter “could not be brought before the House within a reasonable time by other means, such as during a supply day”, which is the case here. It also says that an emergency debate must be on a topic that is immediately relevant throughout the nation. This request for an emergency debate indeed meets the requirements set out in this book.

It is impossible for us to properly debate this bill, which is over 425 pages long. In fact, the House has passed a time allocation motion, and the government refuses to split the bill into pieces that could be studied by the appropriate committees.

In my opinion, it would be completely appropriate for the members of the House to rise, speak about and discuss the possibility of splitting this bill so that Canadians and we, as parliamentarians, can be better informed about the scope of this budget implementation bill.

I therefore request authorization to hold this emergency debate in the House.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Request for Emergency Debate
Routine Proceedings

12:20 p.m.

NDP

Megan Leslie Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, as you know, I wrote to you earlier today requesting an emergency debate on the refusal of the government to split the omnibus budget bill into separate pieces for proper study at the proper committee.

According to page 693 of House of Commons Procedure and Practice, an emergency debate is legitimate when the matter “could not be brought before the House within a reasonable time by other means, such as during a supply day”, which is the case here.

As time allocation was moved by the government to limit time for debate and as this is the last day of debate on the omni-budget, I believe this warrants an emergency debate. It is the case that we have a budget before us that is over 400 pages long when, historically, budgets have been about 30 pages long. It touches everything from the environment to old age security, assisted human reproduction, employment equity, CSIS, the Seeds Act, and telecommunications. It really does touch the lives of every Canadian as far as I am concerned.

The NDP has tried to negotiate with the government, asking it to voluntarily split this bill into the appropriate subject matters but it has denied us this. You, Mr. Speaker, may also have heard that yesterday it was my intention to move a motion during the public session of committee to try to have the environment committee review the environment parts of this budget bill. We were not even able to be in public for me to do that. I was denied the opportunity to even move a motion to consider some of the environmental aspects at the environment committee where it properly belongs.

I urge you, Mr. Speaker, to take this application for an emergency debate seriously, to see the urgency of this issue and to grant an emergency debate on the government's refusal to be transparent and accountable on this bill.

Speaker's Ruling
Request for Emergency Debate
Routine Proceedings

12:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

I thank both hon. members for their interventions. I do not think that requesting an emergency debate on legislation that is currently being debated would satisfy the parameters of the Standing Orders, therefore, I am not prepared to grant it on this particular occasion.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-38, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 29, 2012 and other measures, be read the second time and referred to a committee, and of the amendment.

Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

12:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

When statements by members started we were on questions and comments. The hon. member for Okanagan—Shuswap.

Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

12:20 p.m.

Conservative

Colin Mayes Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Mr. Speaker, I listened to my colleague from British Columbia earlier and I commend her on the good work she does in protecting the environment. We, on this side, are also concerned about protecting the environment.

Related to our bill, this is a comprehensive bill that has a plan in place for jobs and growth. The member knows that the Province of British Columbia, for a number of years, has been requesting that the federal government streamline the environmental review process to stop the duplication and to make the process happen in a more timely fashion.

Could the member tell me if there is any compromise to the actual regulations? No, there is not. It is simply the fact that we are trying to do it in a more timely fashion and to cut the duplication of the reviews.

We on this side are concerned about the environment and we are simply trying to expedite this. We are not saying that we are doing it to ensure there is a yes answer to the applications, that is not case. We are simply saying that those applications, for resource development or whatever, for environmental review get a timely yes or no answer. That is the important thing—

Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

12:20 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

Order, please. I would like to give the hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands an opportunity to respond.

Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

12:20 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for Okanagan—Shuswap for his question and for the respectful way in which it was posed. I will return with equally good spirits.

My concern is exactly what he put his finger on. There are ways to make the process work for everyone more expeditiously. I mentioned in my speech that, under the existing law, timelines can be placed by a minister on a panel review. It does not require repealing the act to do that.

The industry was pleased with the progress being made under the environmental assessment to have timely reviews. There are ways to ensure federal-provincial co-operation but this is going too far. By completely repealing the act, we are not amending the existing act or finding compromises within the existing act, we are destroying the existing act and replacing it with something.

I have read this bill over and over again and there are 67 pages of the new Canadian environmental assessment act, 2012 buried in the budget bill. As an environmental lawyer, I am warning the House now that this will cause more confusion, industries will not be more satisfied and environmental reviews will not only not go faster but they will not happen at all and they will not examine all the aspects of environmental, social, economic and other unforeseen impacts.

Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

Colin Mayes Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Madam Speaker, I rise in the House today to speak to Bill C-38, the jobs, growth and long-term prosperity act, legislation to implement key initiatives contained in the 2012 economic action plan.

When we introduced the first phase of this plan more than three years ago, the Canadian economy was threatened by a looming recession, begun beyond our borders, yet endangering our prosperity. Acting decisively, our Conservative government introduced temporary measures to fight the effects of the global recession through stimulus to safeguard jobs and protect the incomes of Canadians, while making important investments to ensure long-term growth.

Today the positive impact of our plans is abundantly clear, despite the misguided commentary we hear from the opposite side of the House. One should not take that opinion from me. Patricia Croft, former chief economist with RBC Global Asset Management, recently said, “In a global context, I think Canada is in a fabulous position. Canada continues to manage its fiscal affairs in a fabulous fashion”.

Thanks to our plan, our fiscal record is second to none. Although judging from their remarks throughout the debate on the bill, opposition members seem to be ignorant of these facts.

Both the IMF and the OECD have forecast that Canada will have among the strongest record of economic growth in the G7, both this year and next. Not only that, but for the fourth year in a row the World Economic Forum has rated Canada's banks as the most solvent in the world.

We all know that the prestigious Forbes magazine has ranked Canada number one in its annual review of the best countries in which to do business. The three major international credit rating agencies, Moody's, Fitch Ratings and Standard and Poor's have reaffirmed their top ratings for Canada.

I think it is clear to anyone who is listening that under our government's stewardship, Canada has weathered the economic storm with strength and the world has noticed.

This praise is not hollow. In truth, it speaks to the sound fiscal planning that has been the hallmark of this government. Our economic resilience reflects the actions our government took before the crisis, lowering taxes, paying down debt, reducing red tape and promoting free trade and innovation. I am proud the prudence continues to be reflected in action plan 2012 and in the measures contained in Bill C-38.

While my time is limited, I would like to speak specifically to our government's actions to ensure the retirement security of Canadians, as these measures reflect our commitment to fiscal planning that is sustainable well into the future.

This is of particular importance to my constituents in Okanagan—Shuswap, as we are the number two destination for Canadians to retire, and we actually have the largest number of seniors per capita in any place in Canada.

Since 2006, our government has taken steps to strengthen Canada's retirement income system, including increasing the guaranteed income supplement for the most vulnerable seniors, introducing pension income splitting, increasing the age credit and creating innovative savings vehicles like the tax-free savings account and co-registered pension plans.

Economic action plan 2012 takes further steps to ensure that Canadians will have access to a secure retirement for years to come by ensuring the sustainability of old age security and the guaranteed income supplement by gradually raising the age of eligibility from 65 to 67, starting in 2023.

The facts on OAS are clear. The OAS program was conceived at a time when Canadians were not living the long and healthy lives that we are today. We know with certainty that over the next 20 years the number of Canadians over the age of 65 will increase from 4.7 million to 9.3 million. Consequently, the cost of the OAS program will increase from $36 billion per year in 2010 to $108 billion per year by 2030. Meanwhile, by 2030, there will only be two taxpayers to support every senior, down from four to one in 2010.

We are not the first government in the world to recognize this inevitable demographic reality. Many countries are increasing the age of eligibility of their public pension programs. Of 34 OECD countries, 22 have recently increased, or announced plans to increase, the eligibility age. It is a long list that includes: Australia, Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom and United States.

This change in Canada does not start tomorrow. It would start in April 2023, with full implementation by January 2029. That is a 17-year notification period and, as such, it would not affect anyone who is 54 years of age or older as of March 31, 2012.

There is no question that this is the right move to ensure that our generous system of retirement benefits is there for Canadians when they need it most. Just listen to the words of the Globe and Mail editorial board, speaking directly to the measures contained in the bill that the opposition is voting against. It said, in part:

The two-year deferral of the Old Age Security for those now below the age of 54 is a fair and reasonable adaptation to an era of greater longevity and mostly prolonged health... Likewise, the reform of public-sector pensions, by higher employee contributions and a normal retirement age, will before long greatly relieve strains on the public purse....[The Prime Minister] and [the Minister of Finance] can, and do, truthfully say that the federal government’s finances are on track....Ottawa’s books of account are headed in the right direction. This is why the Conservatives were elected, to prudently manage public finances in a tumultuous time.

Canadians have told us that as they live longer and healthier lives, many older workers wish to remain in the workforce and increase their retirement income. Our changes to the OAS program reflect this new reality, while assuring that the OAS program is on a sustainable path.

To this end, we are also improving the amount of flexibility and choice Canadians can exercise by allowing the option of deferring the take-up of their OAS benefits to a later time. This way, should Canadians wish to work and save a little longer, they will receive higher annual benefits when they eventually collect their pension.

This too has received support from the strongest voice of Canada's small business community. The Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses has said, “[we are] supportive of the idea that Canadians should be incented to work longer by receiving additional OAS if they push back their retirement”.

Further, we are working to provide increased support to the retirement income system with pooled registered pension plans. These will provide an accessible large-scale and low-cost pension option to employers, employees and the self-employed.

Not only that, we will continue to deliver on promises to Canadians to keep taxes low and return to a balanced budget over the medium term.

Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

12:35 p.m.

NDP

Dan Harris Scarborough Southwest, ON

Madam Speaker, I would like to hear the member's take on the fact that so many changes are being put into this bill that really have no business being in a budget bill.

The Prime Minister, when he was in opposition, said that MPs would have to go against their principles to vote for such a bill. Would the member tell me where his principles went?

Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

12:35 p.m.

Conservative

Colin Mayes Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Madam Speaker, this bill is about budget 2012-13 and our first priority in this bill is jobs and growth. This is a strategic plan to move forward. It is multifaceted and comprehensive. It is important that all of these initiatives are in the bill so we can continue on the path of job creation and growth for Canadians.