House of Commons Hansard #118 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

1:15 p.m.

Ajax—Pickering
Ontario

Conservative

Chris Alexander Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Berthier—Maskinongé for her speech. I have a very simple question for her.

The Parliamentary Budget Officer says that the program is affordable as is, but all of the other government authorities that we have access to, as well as all of the authorities in other OECD countries, not to mention most experts and informed observers in Canada, disagree, so who is she going to trust? The lone holdout, or all of the other experts in the field, including government experts who unanimously say that the system must be reformed in order to preserve it for future generations?

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

1:15 p.m.

NDP

Ruth Ellen Brosseau Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the Parliamentary Secretary for his question.

We trust the Parliamentary Budget Officer. He says that the system is fully sustainable. This situation is not unexpected. Forty years ago, we knew that the baby boomers would be turning into seniors around this time. So we are ready, and the system is fully sustainable. We trust him.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

1:15 p.m.

NDP

Andrew Cash Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague brought up a couple of really important points. One was as a parent thinking about the future and the increasingly large gap between the opportunities for young people and those for middle-aged and older workers.

Does the member have concern, and has she heard this concern from other parents in her riding, around the issue of generational inequity and the fact that the budget and the government seems to have no interest in rectifying this huge gap?

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

NDP

Ruth Ellen Brosseau Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, as a mother, I want to look to the future and hope that it is brighter for our children. It seems the future will be a bit more dim for our kids under the Conservative government.

We hope that with amendments and maybe by sending correct parts of the bill to the right committees we might change things and could then look toward a more positive future, but that is very hard to do with the government.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

Conservative

Merv Tweed Brandon—Souris, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am privileged and honoured to speak to the budget implementation bill to do with the budget presented by our government. It is ironic that following a federal election in May and then a provincial election in Manitoba shortly thereafter, we have two governments basically on the same track in the sense of process, but on exactly opposite ends with regard to what people want and expect from their governments. I plan to draw some of those comparisons to the recently released budget in the province of Manitoba and the budget that the Government of Canada has put forward.

In budget 2012 we talk about a road map to the future. In the last election, we made commitments to the people of Canada that we would keep taxes where they were or reduce them. We would create no new taxes and balance the budget in a period of time so we could move forward with some of the other needs and requirements of the people of Canada. Manitoba, on the other hand, made very similar promises in the last campaign. It would not raise taxes or establish new taxes and it, too, would move toward a balance budget.

However, when we look at the actual details of the two budgets, we see a completely different story. It is important that Canadians see for themselves what can happen when a government is run by Conservatives, who listen to the people of Canada, consult with them and make a plan that meets their needs, as opposed to a government in Manitoba that completely ignores the people of the province and continues to bear huge tax burdens on them and their children well into the future.

Our budget was about jobs, growth and long-term prosperity for Canada. We have done many things in the past several years in previous budgets. It is only right that I take a look back at what we have accomplished, make comparisons and see where we will go in the future.

The federal government is proposing no new taxes and a reduction in taxes in certain areas. We have extended the accelerated capital cost allowance for manufacturing and processing equipment, encouraging purchases. With a strong dollar, the manufacturing side is looking to renew a lot of its equipment and would do so with a capital cost allowance that would allow companies not only to write it off faster but would also allow them to update their equipment to make them more efficient, more effective and environmentally friendly. We have also increased the small business limit to $500 and reduced the small business tax rate to 11%, all things Canadians told us they wanted and required to move forward, and we have delivered on them.

We have also lowered the federal corporate income tax rate to 15%, making us one of the most, if not the most, competitive jurisdiction of the G8 countries. That speaks well to the investment that is going to flow into Canada. It has already started and will continue to flow because people with money to invest look at countries that are safe, reliable and predictable in their plans going forward. We have had a consistent track record since 2006 of reducing taxes, creating new jobs and wealth for Canadians and opportunity for investment.

We have also increased the lifetime capital gains exemption to $750,000. Why is that important? We have had many discussions here on other issues, but, as we know, over time costs go up and returns have to go up to match them. Allowing businesses to take the $750,000 tax exemption creates better opportunities for the future.

As I said, I want to draw some comparisons, and I will do that now.

The NDP government in Manitoba is planning to overspend this year's budget by $500 million. That is $500 million more in spending than the core revenue it is bringing in. This is what an NDP government does to the country. It has foisted taxes and new charges on the people of Manitoba to the tune of $184 million. In a time of restraint when countries are collapsing under the burden of financial difficulties, we have a province that continues to tax its people to the nth degree. I suggest the people of Manitoba were fooled when they were told by their current government that there would be no new taxes foisted upon them.

The Manitoba government has expanded the provincial sales tax to include more services and insurance premiums, adding $95 million more tax burden on the working people of Manitoba. Not finally but one of a few measures, it has increased gas taxes by 2.5 cents per litre, taking another $44.5 million out of Manitobans' pockets.

I often think back to when we moved to the metric system. We all knew what the price of a gallon of gas was. When 2.5 cents is added to a litre it does not seem like much but it is over 10 cents a gallon for anybody who remembers what a gallon was worth. To add that to the people of Manitoba in one fell swoop, without any discussion, after promising it would not do it, shows what we get with a government that is not committed to making the hard decisions to move a country forward, to move a province forward.

In a short time in office, our government has cut taxes 140 times. That speaks to an investment community that knows it has a government that is on a path of lowering taxes, creating wealth, creating opportunities and creating jobs.

We have created nearly 700,000 new jobs in the last little while, which is unbelievable in a world where the economies of so many countries are struggling just to see the light of day. We only need to look back to yesterday's news to see how important that is in certain countries in the world.

Our government, with its low tax policies, has removed one million low-income families, individuals and seniors from the tax rolls. Why is that important? The opposition tells us that people are in a situation where they are unable to pay their taxes or are barely scraping by. Well, one million more of them have an opportunity to spend their money the way they choose as opposed to being taxed by the government and then having it given back to them in dribs and drabs as some are proposing.

What else have we done? We have increased the amount that Canadians can earn tax free, again a decision made by a government that wants people to become independent, to think for themselves and to make their own financial decisions, not have governments telling them where and when they should make payments. We do that by lowering taxes. It puts more money in their pockets and gives people the ability to make their own decisions that affect their life, their family life and their community life.

We provided income splitting for seniors, one of the greatest things that could have happened in the sense of allowing people to share incomes to lower their taxable rate. We lowered the GST from 7% to 5%. We introduced a children's fitness tax. We brought in the tax free savings account. I know many people of my generation were RRSP buyers. At the end of every year we would do that to reduce our taxable income. Now that money can actually be put into an account and taken out tax free as it grows in the future. If I were giving advice to anybody in Canada today, it would be to take a long, hard look at that tax free savings account as one of the many vehicles that we now have to prepare for our retirement plans, for the future and for our family's future. It is important for people to look at this.This is not a paid political announcement but people should check with their accountants to ensure they are getting all the benefits.

When we look at what we have done across the country, a typical Canadian family today is saving $3,100 in taxes. Imagine having that every year and being able to make a decision on how to spend it or what to do with it, whether to invest in our children's education or our retirement, or whether to buy that retirement home we have been looking for. All of those things are doable and possible when we have a government that is committed to low taxes.

I opened by making the comments that our plan is to keep taxes low, create new jobs and opportunity, create the environment for that to happen and, in doing so, we will create long-term prosperity for Canadians. It is what we told Canadians we would do in the last election and it is what we are doing today.

I urge all members to take a hard look at it and, instead of finding what they can vote against, they should look for the positives that they can vote for and support this budget.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

May 7th, 2012 / 1:30 p.m.

NDP

Alexandrine Latendresse Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague from Brandon—Souris for his speech.

Since he brought up the subject of Manitoba and lower taxes in his speech, I wonder if he could talk about the fact that, when the NDP came to power in Manitoba, the tax rate for small businesses was 8%. Since December 2010, as he probably knows, that tax rate has been zero. Small businesses no longer have to pay taxes. This is stimulating Manitoba's economy and it is great for Manitobans.

There are about 100,000 businesses and 97% of them are small businesses. This is an excellent measure. I really do not understand why he is trying to scare people by saying that the NDP might raise taxes, when really, if we look at the facts, Manitoba has an excellent government and very good economic measures.

I would like to hear his comments on that.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

Conservative

Merv Tweed Brandon—Souris, MB

Mr. Speaker, I was part of the provincial government in 1999 when the NDP won the majority and took over government. The NDP claimed that there was no money left in the till until it y found $1 billion. It spent that billion and continued to spend at a reckless amount. It is still spending above $500 million more in a province of 1.2 million people. That is what the NDP government is committed to spend and that is more than it will take in revenue this year. Plus, it continues to tax every living breathing individual and beyond now with the services it is now taxing people for.

It is simply an obvious case of numbers and the numbers do not add up for the Province of Manitoba. I do not want the NDP to ever be responsible for the numbers of Canada.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I have been listening to a lot of talk about Manitoba. I am not sure if this is the right forum to get into arguing about the Government of Manitoba. One either wants to be an opposition member in Manitoba or a government member here. Therefore, I will stick to the budget that we are dealing with in this House as we talk about Bill C-38, and I have a very quick question.

A section in the legislation amends the Salaries Act to abolish the Public Appointments Commission that the Conservatives so excitedly brought in. I was wondering why they would do that.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

Conservative

Merv Tweed Brandon—Souris, MB

Mr. Speaker, like all good governments, when we look at departments and do a strategic review of expenditures everything is up for discussion.

I would advise the member, and I suspect he was here at the time, that back when the commission was formally introduced, the opposition, in a minority government, railroaded the government into refusing the person we put forward as the chair of that committee and, therefore, we saw no more need for it.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

Ajax—Pickering
Ontario

Conservative

Chris Alexander Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, all of us on this side are grateful for that excellent speech from the member for Brandon—Souris. It is a gold mine of information about an implementation act that has benefits across the board for Canadians.

However, the opposition members continue to complain about this being the shortest debate on budget implementation in a generation, even though no Liberal budget was ever debated this long under its government. They also complain that it covers too much ground. Could the member comment on the inter-relatedness of all of these measures?

To have a strong economy, an attractive jurisdiction for trade and investment, we need a stable financial sector. We need a responsible approach to resource development. We need jobs and growth and all of the enablers that go with it. Could he remind this House why all of these measures are needed in one bill?

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

Conservative

Merv Tweed Brandon—Souris, MB

Mr. Speaker, like all budgets and like all future budgets, there must be a thread of connectivity to them. If we do want more investment in our natural resource sector, we need to look at ways of expediting the approval or disapproval process for all the investments that will come into Canada over the next several years. We want to ensure that the people looking at Canada as an investment area will find Canada the most attractive. We have moved a long way in this bill. Obviously, a lot of things are being contemplated in this implementation bill but all, I would suggest, are necessary to move Canada forward.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

NDP

Andrew Cash Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, this has been a fascinating debate so far. We have heard the government blame the NDP for the economic collapse of Portugal and Greece. We heard another member tell us that all is not quite right in Manitoba these days. The member seems to be confused about which jurisdiction he represents. It has been an amazing day.

Some days one imagines that all members on the government side come from Pleasantville. In their world no senior has a problem paying rent. In their world seniors have a choice of putting their excess money in a tax free savings account or buying a retirement home? That is the kind of conversation those members have.

I am not quite sure what is being served in the government lobby before the Conservatives come out and say their speeches but one wonders if maybe they need to check the ingredients. However, the ingredients may not be accurate because, according to provisions in the budget implementation bill, food labelling will not be as accurate or we will not be as sure of their accuracy. The budget implementation bill that we are debating today contains elements that have nothing to do with the budget, which is what we are trying to get to the bottom of.

I will talk about a couple of things about the budget. The budget does nothing to address the chronic unemployment rate of our young people. The official rate for youth unemployment right now is just over 14%. However, everyone knows that the unofficial rate will be closer to 20%. That brings us into the range of the unemployment rate among young people in those European countries, such as Spain, that the Conservatives love to talk about. We are creating an economy in this country that leaves out our youth.

Government members like to talk about the great future of our economy. They also like to extol the virtues of Conservative fiscal management. They all have short memories. When the last majority Conservative government left office, it saddled Canadians with a massive public debt and deficit. Other Conservative governments enjoyed chumming up to those in the Bush administration in the United States. When it left office, it saddled the American people with huge, onerous public debt.

The present Conservative government has the largest deficit in Canadian history but those members try to ignore that fact as they talk about the choices that seniors have in our country.

I am honoured to serve the people of my riding of Davenport and to speak on their behalf today. I want to talk about a woman I met last week in my riding who is a small business owner. She works about 13 or 14 hours a day on her business and is also looking after an elderly parent. She asked me about the new rules with respect to OAS. She told me that she was working tirelessly and that she was looking forward to reaching the age of 65 but said that she was under the cutoff and that she would need to work until she was 67 years of age. Suffice it to say that she is not happy. The sentiment I heard from her is the same sentiment that I hear from people right across my riding and in fact across the city of Toronto.

People work hard, play by the rules, pay their taxes, raise their families and sometimes look after their parents. What do we see from the government? We see the government making cuts, for example, to immigrant settlement services in the city of Toronto. Those cuts will make it much harder for new Canadians to settle and get a foothold in our country and in our economy.

Raising the age for OAS is going to drag on the economy because we know that people who have very little means are going to spend just about every dollar they have on the economy. That is part of what a vibrant economy does. However, what is happening here is a delay for two years. If that had happened today, we would have thrown about another 100,000 seniors into poverty. Canadians remember, but we have to remind the government that it did not once mention OAS in its platform in 2011. In fact, what the Conservatives said was that they were not going to cut OAS, that they were not going to cut seniors' pensions. They have indeed done that.

The Conservatives also talk about 12 years from now being somewhere off in the distant future. That is just 12 years and it is going to go by in a heartbeat. For the woman in my riding who is working 13 hours a day trying to keep a business going, raise a family and look after an elderly parent, that 12 years is going to go by in a flash. However, she is going to have to work another couple of years before she can access what everyone else before her has been able to access in this country. This is not fair. Not only is it not fair, but it does not make economic sense in our country at all. Again, the government likes to talk about its savvy economic chops when it has yet to address the issue of 300,000 job losses in the manufacturing sector since the recession.

One member decided to take a whack at Manitoba. I guess the Conservatives are getting bored with taking a whack at Ontario, which they have done since I entered this House in May 2011. Ontario's manufacturing base has been battered and the government refuses to acknowledge that the economic platform and the one presented in this budget fail to address the employment and manufacturing crisis in Ontario. The Conservatives can talk all they want about the jobs, but $12 an hour is not enough for someone to afford shelter and certainly not enough to raise a family. These are the issues that Canadians are concerned about and want action on from their government. The fact that we are in a time allocation yet again underlines what Canadians increasingly understand, that while the government talks the talk of accountability and transparency, it has absolutely not walked the walk since it came here in 2011.

This is the kind of obfuscation and prevarication that Canadians are getting tired of from the government. We need a real debate about the economy and about youth unemployment. Not only are youth unemployed, but youth are increasingly saddled with increased student debt. So now the Conservatives are telling young people that when they leave school they are going to have a $25,000 to $50,000 debt and, by the way, they are not going to be able to find a job. I hear this in my riding all the time. I talk to parents whose 25-year-old children are still living at home; they have degrees, they have done the things the government says they should do, they have a higher education and they still cannot find a job. The government has not addressed that situation, and it has certainly not addressed it in Ontario. We look forward to that debate and to turning things around in 2015.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Conservative

Stella Ambler Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the member opposite about jobs and, in particular, what he thinks about this government's jobs creation record and the fact that we have created 700,000 new jobs and, most importantly, that 90% of those jobs that were created since 2006 have been full-time jobs.

In my mind, it does not matter how old people are. These jobs are available to students who are graduating. They are available to middle-aged Canadians. They are available to older Canadians.

Does the member opposite believe that our strategy, which is to keep the economy strong and to look after the long-term prosperity of our country, is the right one to create jobs?

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Andrew Cash Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have been waiting a year for someone from the government side to ask my opinion about its jobs policy. I can tell my hon. colleague across the way that there are people in my riding who have not one job, not two jobs, but three jobs. The reason they have three jobs is that none of them pays enough to properly afford their rent or child care or to put food on the table. They are in a mad scramble. That is not just a pretend story; that is a real story. It is happening right across the country, and the government is absolutely blind to it. That is what I think about the government's jobs record.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, one of the things many Canadians looked for in the budget debate was some demonstration of leadership on the health care file. Health care is the single greatest expenditure for virtually every province. There is a dependency on Ottawa not only to provide leadership in terms of standards and so forth, from coast to coast, but also to provide money and the secure feeling of a commitment that the government will be providing in the years ahead. I am referring more so, I guess, to the health care accord.

I wonder if the member might want to provide comment. Given there is so much in the budget, one of the things that seems to be lacking is any genuine commitment to the future of good quality heath care, based on the Canada Health Act. That is something I believe many Canadians are concerned about.