House of Commons Hansard #116 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

SECOND READING
Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

Greg Kerr West Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, I would not have gone back into history but since the member mentioned it I remember our days together in Nova Scotia. What I do know is that the member was quite prepared to take on companies and government and yet it was okay for neighbours to use that same spray on their lawns. Their neighbours and kids and so on did not matter because taking on government was far more fun.

The fact is that we are moving toward efficiency. We are absolutely committed to environmental control, environmental regulatory protection and the right penalty process. Those people who cause problems should be held accountable.

However, to delay a process is not progress, does not help Canadians and certainly does not help the environment.

SECOND READING
Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

12:30 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a brief point of order but at the relevant time. The mix of 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid and 2,4,5-trichlorfonoxyacetic acid were never registered for home use.

SECOND READING
Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

That is a matter of debate rather than a point of order.

The hon. parliamentary secretary on a short question.

SECOND READING
Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

12:30 p.m.

Saint Boniface
Manitoba

Conservative

Shelly Glover Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for all the hard work he does as chairman of veterans affairs committee. I was pleased to hear him talk about veterans in his budget speech. It is important to ensure that we protect the men and women in uniform and those who have served so bravely for our country.

I would like to give the member another opportunity to cite those things that he feels highlight the needs of his community, things that would make things better in his community.

SECOND READING
Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

Greg Kerr West Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, we are just wrapping up a committee review of the dozens of changes that have taken place in the delivery of service and our response to the needs of veterans. As our former minister, Greg Thompson, used to say, we can never do enough.

I think all members of the House understand that the initiatives are incredibly important for our veterans down the road, and I feel the same about the initiatives in the budget right across the country. As a rural member, I am in tune with the impacts of a budget and the overall impact is one of positive long-term growth, which we should be proud of.

SECOND READING
Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

12:30 p.m.

Saint Boniface
Manitoba

Conservative

Shelly Glover Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to stand here in the House to speak to the jobs, growth and long-term prosperity act to implement our 2012 economic action plan. Both this legislation and our recent budget represent an ambitious, substantive and positive response by our Conservative government to the economic challenges of today and the opportunities of tomorrow.

I am proud that the measures contained in the bill and in budget 2012 will fuel the next wave of job creation and position Canada for a secure and prosperous future.

By focusing on the drivers of growth, innovation, business investment, education and skills, these new measures will solidify, strengthen and draw upon the entrepreneurial sectors' role as the driving force behind Canada's economy.

Our plan sets out a comprehensive agenda to bolster Canada’s fundamental strengths and address the important challenges confronting the economy over the long term, like the demographic challenges arising as a result of an aging society.

Canada’s businesses, entrepreneurs and innovators have proven time and again that they are up to the task, provided they are given the chance. With our economic action plan, our Conservative government is ensuring that they will have all the opportunity they need to flourish.

For starters, this ambitious agenda includes a new approach to supporting entrepreneurs, innovators and world-class research.

As a world leader in post-secondary research with a highly skilled workforce, Canada has strong fundamentals for innovation. In fact, Canada has the highest proportion of population with post-secondary education of anywhere in the world.

With $10.1 billion of annual federal investment to support post-secondary education and $2.5 billion annually for labour market agreements with the provinces and territories, it is no surprise that Canadian students perform well in international tests. Canada also compares favourably to most other G7 countries with respect to job related training.

However, for all of this promise, Canada continues to lag behind our peer nations in terms of overall innovation performance, including with regard to private sector investment in R and D and the commercialization of research into products and processes that create high value jobs and economic growth. Our government is taking important steps to foster the innovation needed to fuel jobs and economic growth.

First, we set up an expert panel to determine the reasons for this lagging performance, and now we are responding to the panel's recommendations in a way that will create high value jobs through investments in education and training, basic and applied research, finance opportunities for businesses with the potential to become globally competitive, and better linkages between public research and market needs.

Among other things, economic action plan 2012 will double the contribution budget of the industrial research assistance program to better support research and development by small and medium-sized companies.

It will refocus the National Research Council on demand-driven applied research that will help Canadian businesses develop innovative products and services.

It will support innovation through procurement, by connecting small and medium-sized companies with federal departments and agencies to build their capacity to compete in the marketplace. And the plan will help high-growth firms access risk capital by committing significant funds to leveraging increased private-sector investments in early-stage risk capital, including a $400 million investment to support the creation of large-scale venture capital funds led by the private sector.

Furthermore, it will support private and public research collaboration through internships for graduate students, and funding for business-led research and development networks.

The SR & ED tax incentive program will be enhanced by removing capital from the expenditure base, making it more cost-effective through design improvements and a measured rate reduction, and providing greater predictability through administrative improvements.

However, to effectively compete and succeed globally, Canadian job creators need more than just bright ideas. They must be supported by a modern regulatory environment that promotes competition, business investment and economic growth. This implies a competitive and efficient tax system, a well functioning financial system and access to international markets.

That is why the jobs, growth and long-term prosperity bill includes key commitments in all of these areas, which would improve conditions for business investment and drive the next wave of job creation. This means we are transforming not only how we innovate, but how we regulate. We are supporting responsible resource development, improving the review process for major energy and resource projects to make it more timely and transparent while protecting the environment, and introducing legislation to modernize the regulatory system to realize our objective of one project one review.

These measures are all fundamental to our success but, ultimately, Canada's success rests upon maximizing the power of our greatest asset, our people, and unleashing their full productive potential. With that in mind, the bill makes significant investments in training, infrastructure and work incentives, and supports job creation by facilitating the participation of under-represented groups in the labour force.

Employment insurance, for example, is Canada's single largest labour market program. Our budget plan will make a number of targeted, common sense changes to make EI a more efficient program that promotes job creation, removes disincentives to work, supports unemployed Canadians and quickly connects people to available jobs to improve their quality of life and Canada's economy.

At the same time, we will ensure predictable and stable EI rates by limiting rate increases to 5¢ per year until the EI operating account is in balance and then move to a seven year break even rate. In addition, we are extending the temporary EI hiring credit for small business for one year to reduce the cost of hiring new workers. This will benefit approximately 536,000 employers whose total EI premiums were at or below $10,000 in 2011, reducing their 2012 payroll costs by about $205 million.

In more targeted labour market actions we are also investing $50 million in the youth employment strategy to assist more young people in gaining tangible skills and experience and connecting them with jobs in fields that are in high demand.

At the other end of the demographic scale, we are also funding the extension and expansion of the successful ThirdQuarter project, which helps employers find workers over 50 who have the skills they are seeking.

I am especially proud of this project, piloted by the Manitoba Chamber of Commerce, which provides an online forum that makes it easier for individuals to find jobs that match their skills, while helping businesses and organizations to recruit employees who have the skills they are seeking.

I would be remiss if I closed without quickly reviewing other important initiatives in the economic action plan 2012. They include: investing an additional $30 million in the opportunities fund to enable more Canadians with disabilities to obtain valuable work experience; proposing $100 million to support first nations education, as well as $175 million to build and renovate schools on reserve; supporting further improvements to foreign credential recognition; and more and more.

Securing long-term prosperity for Canadians in uncertain times means we must act today. Under the jobs, growth and long-term prosperity bill, we have taken decisive action to that end by increasing employment opportunities in the long term and ensuring economic growth.

That is why I am urging the House today to support the measures set out in this bill.

SECOND READING
Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

12:40 p.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member across talks about jobs, growth and economic stability. I wonder if she can explain how putting thousands of people out of work, which the government is doing by giving pink slips to a lot of people across different government departments, will assist in jobs, growth and the economy.

I would also like to know if the member could elaborate on the experimental farm in Kapuskasking and maybe give us an idea of the exact date of that closure because those workers would like to know. They have been given a pink slip but they have not been told the exact closing date. They could base their decision-making on that closure date, given the fact that they have only been given 120 days to make their decision.

SECOND READING
Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

12:40 p.m.

Conservative

Shelly Glover Saint Boniface, MB

Mr. Speaker, when it comes to jobs, it is very clear across the world that Canada is looked at as an example of success following a recession that touched us all.

When we look at the statistics, the IMF and the OECD look at Canada as being one of the countries that will see the strongest growth going forward. Growth means those jobs are actually succeeding. We have had almost 700,000 net new jobs since the recession, 90% of those jobs are actually benefiting people who are in full-time occupations and 75% of those are in private sector positions.

What will not help us create jobs is the NDP plan: a $10 billion corporate tax increase that would kill jobs, GST increases that would kill jobs, doubling of the CPP that the CIFB said very clearly would literally shut down dozens of small businesses across the country, and, of course, the EI 45-day work year that it advocates for would kill more opportunities and more jobs. The single biggest measure that would negatively impact Canadians would be the carbon tax that it wishes to place on Canadians at this time. It is the worst time possible.

We will to stick with our plan. We are the best in the G7 and we will stay there.

SECOND READING
Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

12:45 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I think one of the greatest threats that the government has brought forward with regard to this budget and this bill that we are debating today is the fact that it is taking other issues and bundling them together and trying to pass them along with the budget.

Many would suggest that there should have been a series of other legislative agendas or other bills that should have been brought forward, thereby being provided due diligence and scrutiny of the House and committee. The government is doing a disservice to Canadians by taking issues, such as our environment, and passing, through the back door, substantial changes to environmental legislation that will have a profoundly negative impact going into the future.

Why did the government choose to go through the back door, changing important environment laws, on a budget debate when it should have been stand-alone debate in itself?

SECOND READING
Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

May 3rd, 2012 / 12:45 p.m.

Conservative

Shelly Glover Saint Boniface, MB

Mr. Speaker, as my hon. colleague well knows, the budget implementation acts are traditionally very broad. Let me give an example to my colleague from the Liberal Party of a budget bill that his party put forward in 2005. In fact, Bill C-43, which was introduced in the 38th Parliament, amended dozens of different pieces of legislation including the Auditor General Act, the Asia-Pacific Foundation of Canada Act, the Broadcasting Act, the Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador Additional Fiscal Equalization Offset Payments Act, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, the Canada Post Corporation Act, the Public Sector Pension Investment Board Act, and more.

It is hypocritical to stand in this place and tell Canadians that what is being done is unusual, because it is not. That member knows it, the members from the official opposition know it and every member of Parliament in this place knows very well this is not unusual. This is the way it goes. That member ought to be apologizing for misleading Canadians when he and his party have done exactly the same thing in the interests, they say, of Canada.

SECOND READING
Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

12:45 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Western Arctic.

I want to begin my remarks today on Bill C-38 by saying, and it should be said, that this clearly is not only a budget implementation act.

I found it very interesting to listen to the parliamentary secretary's comments just a few moments ago when she chided the Liberal member for the record of the Liberal government, bringing in a massive omnibus bill as well. I remember that bill, C-43, but it is curious, because I seem to remember that the Conservatives in opposition at that time certainly had lots of concerns about what was hidden in that massive bill. I think it was about 1,000 pages. I remember the debates in this House about how the Liberals were trying to hide things and rush them through.

Here we are today in 2012 with another budget implementation bill, which is anything but. It has become a massive cover for putting through major public policy issues under the guise of a budget implementation bill.

I want to say, just for the record, that it is really bad public policy. It is a terrible way to make decisions. It is a direct attack on the ability of members of Parliament to examine legislation.

Much of the stuff that is in the budget implementation bill should be coming to the House as stand-alone legislation. When we go through the list, go through those 422 pages that comprise the current budget implementation act, we can just see how far-ranging the directions are in the bill.

For example, we know it is raising the age of eligibility of OAS and GIS from 65 to 67, something that the Prime Minister never campaigned on in the last election. For heaven's sake, it repeals the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act, meaning that the government is no longer required to report on its emissions under the act. That is in a budget bill? The Conservatives are putting that through in a budget bill? Is there something they want to hide from Canadians? I think so.

As we have heard many times in the House, it guts the environmental assessment regime and fish habitat protection. Again, this should be stand-alone legislation that the government should have the guts to bring forward on its merit and be willing to debate in this House, instead of trying to sneak it through in a budget implementation bill.

Just in terms of the changing environmental assessments, this would have a major impact on my province of British Columbia, on things like the Enbridge pipeline, where there has been incredible public interest in being involved in a democratic public process to comment on the environmental impact and assessment of that project.

What is the government doing? It uses the budget and the budget implementation act to actually shut down and to gag the public and say that not only is it putting short timelines on these major assessments but it will also delegate authority to other authorities, including the provinces, so it is basically narrowing the opportunities people have to comment on these important things.

To add insult to injury, not only does the bill gut environmental requirements; it also goes after civil society organizations by saying that the Canada Revenue Agency will tighten up what kind of political activities they can be engaged in. There is an attack on both sides, by legislation and by trying to fetter and gag the work that very important organizations do in our country to bring awareness to these major environmental projects that have a huge impact on all of us.

Here are a few other little gems in the budget. It would repeal the Fair Wages and Hours of Labour Act. I am familiar with this, because as a city councillor in Vancouver over many terms, we actually used the federal fair wage act to set a benchmark for what we did municipally to pay fair wages to municipal contractors.

Now all of a sudden this act is gone. It has been there for decades. I do not know how far it goes back, but it has been a benchmark of what is considered to be fair wages.

Presumably this is now being completely eliminated because the Conservatives want to give more handouts to their corporate buddies and they want to undercut union wage rates. This is an attack on labour, just like we have seen with Bill C-377, where the government is attacking labour and trying to allege that they are not transparent organizations when we know they are. This is hidden in a budget implementation act.

It would also amend the Employment Equity Act so it would no longer apply to federal contractors. This is a major shift in public policy. I was part of the standing committee that reviewed the Employment Equity Act. It has to be reviewed every five years. The federal government is mandated to cover employment equity both in terms of its own direct services and of all the areas it covers like transport, airlines and banks. To amend the Employment Equity Act so it no longer applies to federal contractors is just a sheer gift and bonus to the Conservatives' buddies in saying that things like employment fairness, fair wages and ensuring diversity in the workplace would not count anymore and they would not have to worry about it. This is a major and dramatic shift in public policy.

I also want to mention a few local things that are very concerning to me, such as the cuts to the CAP program, which is purely mean-spirited. Low-income people who can currently gain access to the Internet through the community Internet access program would no longer have access to that. This is just a small thing, but it really does affect people. We live in an Internet age but there are lots of Canadians who still do not have their own computer or access to the Internet and they use the community access program to have that opportunity and capability. Why on earth would the Conservatives go after that? Why would they target people in that way?

As the health critic for the NDP, I want to speak briefly about some of the health aspects in the few minutes I have left.

We have said in this House many times how absolutely staggering a $31 billion decrease in health transfers to the provinces would be. This is a massive shift. The Conservatives unilaterally made a decision about health transfers in this country without any negotiation, debate or co-operation with the provinces and territories. It is something that is unheard of. This is a major assault on our health care system.

It goes even further than that. One of the little sneaky things that is in the budget is the amendments to the Food and Drugs Act to give the Minister of Health more power, supposedly on the basis of streamlining and improving the efficiency of various classifications of foods and drugs. However, it would basically give the minister more power to set up her own regulatory process and go outside the system. Again, this is something that should be coming forward in its own piece of legislation.

I will conclude by talking about what the budget does not address.

I live in Vancouver, and in Metro Vancouver probably the greatest issue we face is the lack of affordable housing. I have met with the Canadian Rental Housing Coalition in Metro Vancouver, which by the way, is made up of building owners, apartment owners, tenant groups and co-op housing groups. It is a broad coalition and they are all saying the same thing: the federal government must be part of a solution to build affordable housing in this country.

Where do we expect workers to live if they are paying 50% or 60% of their income in rent? The hotel workers and the people who work in the stadiums, on the waterfront or in the service industry can no longer afford to live anywhere close to where they work. This is a major issue in Metro Vancouver and also in other Canadian cities, yet there is not a single word in the budget implementation act that would make this a priority. It is just zero. It is as if it does not exist anymore.

We look at the contrast of the handouts to the Conservatives' friends in the corporate world while ignoring the real priorities of Canadians for basic human needs like housing, shelter, good pensions or even access to the Internet. All of these things have either been ignored or cut.

This is a terrible budget, a terrible bill. We should be offended as parliamentarians that this budget implementation bill is so broad. It has so much in it that we cannot even begin to debate, especially now that there is a gag order on the time we have for debate, which was passed earlier today. What an affront to parliamentary democracy.

We are here to stand up to say we oppose the bill and will use everything we can to oppose it all the way.

SECOND READING
Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

12:55 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, a few months ago the Prime Minister was overseas and he talked about senior pensions. A huge outcry swept our country from coast to coast to coast. It was, “How dare the Prime Minister look at our pension programs?” Canadians treasure these programs and they are seen as fundamental social programs that are absolutely essential, not only to keep and maintain but to look at ways we can enhance them. I appreciate, to a certain degree, they might have backed off from what the original thoughts were, but still a vast majority of Canadians believe, and the Liberal Party believes, that we have to maintain the option for retirement at age 65 as fundamental to our pensions.

Could the member comment on raising the age of eligibility from 65 to 67? We believe that is wrong and that it has to be maintained at 65.

SECOND READING
Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

1 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, the meeting the Prime Minister attended was a very exclusive meeting of billionaires and big movers and shakers in Davos, Switzerland. It was pretty insulting to all Canadians that he chose that venue to make a major decision about the Conservatives' intention to bring about a fundamental change in our pensions system. Therefore, I would agree with the member.

I recently held a public forum in east Vancouver on pensions. People are hopping mad, not only seniors but also younger people, because they know the impact this change will have. By raising the age of eligibility, it means people in their older years will have to work longer. It also changes the dynamic in the job market and means there are fewer opportunities because more people are now forced to work longer or else they will be on the provincial welfare roll. This is another example of provincial offloading.

SECOND READING
Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

1 p.m.

Saint Boniface
Manitoba

Conservative

Shelly Glover Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, once again I stand to take advantage of this opportunity to tell Canadians that the member opposite is misleading them. The previous NDP speaker said earlier that democracy was at risk in all of this, but she was misleading when she said that the limited time was unprecedented. Seven days is actually, historically, the longest period of time in the last 20 years. She was upset about there being 10 years. Well let us go 20 years.

The member opposite who just spoke was also upset about seven days of debate. Over 20 years, the debate was two days in 1992, four days in 1993, four days in 1994, five days in 1995, three days in 1996, two days in 1997, three days in 1998, four days in 1999, three days in 2000, three days in 2001, four days in 2003, three days in 2004 and it goes on.

In 20 years we have never seen this length of debate ever before. Seven days is plenty of time. We need to start talking about the measures that the members will support and that can help Canadians do better.

SECOND READING
Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

1 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, we have never seen such a terrible bill that has so much horrible stuff in it that we will not even get to talk about because the debate will happen so quickly.

We have to look at the context of what is taking place here. Almost every piece of legislation that has come the House from the Conservative government has been under a gag order of some sort of closure. What are the Conservatives afraid of? Are they afraid that more of us will speak to it, or are they so dismissive of democratic practice that they want to shut down debate in the House?

The member can read from whatever list she wants. The fact is the record of the current government in gagging members of Parliament in debating substantial issues in the House is happening on a weekly basis. The budget implementation bill is just the latest example.