House of Commons Hansard #139 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was fisheries.

Topics

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

NDP

Romeo Saganash Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, QC

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate my colleague on her speech, which was instructive as always.

Last week, the President of the Treasury Board was in Thunder Bay trying to sell the bill we are debating. This is what he said about the environmental assessment process:

“Current joint-panel review environmental assessments are duplicating the process and allowing individuals to use the assessment to discuss irrelevant issues that delay projects from mining to oil and gas that create jobs.”

I would like her comments on that.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

NDP

Mylène Freeman Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou for his comments.

The environmental assessment process is a way of ensuring that projects are okay, but for the Conservatives, of course, it takes too long. The process cannot move swiftly enough for their friends' sake.

However, the fact is that the people who live in these regions have the right to say whether something will affect them. The Conservatives are using this bill to eliminate this process. I think that is one of the major problems with the bill before us.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Conservative

Dave Van Kesteren Chatham-Kent—Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the chance to speak to Bill C-38, the jobs, growth and long-term prosperity act, and against the opposition amendments to defeat it.

Before I continue, as a member of the finance committee, let me acknowledge the detailed examination at committee stage. The finance committee and a special subcommittee studied the bill for nearly 70 hours, the longest consideration of budget legislation in committee in decades. We heard from literally hundreds of individuals and organizations, from government officials, business leaders, academics, labour groups, industry associations and many more.

As we all know, the bill proposes to legislate key measures of economic action plan 2012, measures vital to ensuring Canada's continued and ongoing economic recovery.

As its very title makes clear, it is a plan that focuses on jobs, growth and long-term prosperity. In doing so, it looks ahead not only over the next few years, but over the next generation. It will help further unleash the potential of Canadian businesses and entrepreneurs to innovate and thrive in the modern economy.

Of course, in reaching this goal, Canada starts from an enviable place. For some time now our country has had one of the strongest records among the advanced economies. The World Economic Forum says our banks are the soundest in the world. Forbes magazine ranks Canada as the best country in the world to do business. The OECD and the IMF predict our economy will be among the leaders of the industrialized world over the next few years.

Our debt to GDP ratio remains the lowest in the G7 by far. Since July 2009, Canada has seen employment increase by nearly 760,000 jobs, the best job growth record in the entire G7.

However, we cannot be complacent. There are many global challenges and uncertainties still confronting the economy, especially from Europe. The recovery is not complete, and across this country too many Canadians are still looking for work. The global economy remains fragile, and any potential setback would have an impact on Canada.

It is for these very reasons we introduced Canada's economic action plan 2012. I will now describe why its passage into law is so important to our country and why these opposition amendments to defeat it and delay it are so troubling.

Let me start by highlighting one of the plan's key initiatives. All across the country throughout our consultations with Canadians, one major issue kept repeating itself: the future health of Canada's retirement system. Old age security, the single largest program of the federal government, was designed for a much different demographic future than Canada faces today. Canada has changed and OAS must change with it.

Accordingly, economic action plan 2012 and Bill C-38 will make gradual adjustments to the old age security program to ensure that the next generation can count on it. These adjustments will not affect current recipients or those close to retirement. Starting in 2023 and ending in 2029, we will gradually increase the age of eligibility from 65 to 67. This phased approach will enable younger Canadians to plan ahead with confidence.

We will also make the program more flexible for those approaching retirement. As of July 1, 2013, Canadians will be given the option to defer the start of OAS. This volunteer option will enable them to receive a higher annual old age security pension as a result.

Our government has always acted responsibly to ensure that the social programs Canadians count on will be there when they need them. With these changes, the OAS program will be on a sustainable path.

Indeed, we certainly heard plenty of support and need for these changes at finance committee from a range of independent third party witnesses. For instance, here is what the Macdonald Laurier Institute told the committee:

I think the changes to OAS are a step in the right direction.... [U]sing the traditional definition of sustainability, [OAS] was not sustainable because it either would require more resources or crowding out of other spending.

Along with retirement security, the bill also recognizes that a critical responsibility of any government, and certainly our own, is to support, encourage and protect our most vulnerable citizens. That is why it has been the number one priority in our government's budgets.

In budget 2007, we announced the introduction of the registered disability savings plan, RDSP, to help parents and others save to ensure the long-term financial security of a child with a severe disability.

In budget 2011, we introduced the new family caregiver tax credit for those who care for family members with infirmities. In the same budget the government announced that it would undertake a review of the RDSP program in 2011.

As part of the review, a consultation paper was released which included a number of questions on which Canadians were invited to provide feedback. In response, the government received more than 280 submissions from individuals and organizations. Based on the input received during the review, economic action plan 2012 proposes measures to improve the RDSP. Together they will: allow spouses, common-law partners and parents to establish RDSPs for adult individuals who might not be able to enter into a contract; provide greater access to RDSP savings by reducing the penalty associated with small withdrawals; provide greater flexibility to make withdrawals from certain RDSPs and ensure that RDSP assets are used to support the beneficiary during his or her lifetime; provide greater flexibility for parents who save in RESPs for children with disabilities; provide a better transition as well as increased potential for maintaining an RDSP without disruption for beneficiaries who cease to qualify for the DTC in certain circumstances; and improve the administration of the RDSP for financial institutions and beneficiaries.

Bill C-38 takes the first step toward implementing these changes.

Again, we heard strong support for these amendments from the Council of Canadians with Disabilities at committee, which stated:

--important and positive were the revisions to the Registered Disability Saving Plan (RDSP) that removed a significant barrier for persons with intellectual disabilities and their families to opening an RDSP [account]. The RDSP continues to be a program of significant benefit to Canadians with disabilities and their families.

I would be remiss if I ended my speech without quickly reviewing other important initiatives in Bill C-38 that we cannot have delayed by the opposition amendments.

They include: enhancing the government's oversight framework for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation to ensure the corporation's commercial activities are managed in a manner that promotes the stability of the financial system; expanding the health-related tax relief to better meet the health care needs of Canadians; legislating the government's commitment to sustainable and growing transfers to provinces and territories in support of health care, education and other programs and services; and modernizing Canada's currency by gradually eliminating the penny from Canada's coinage system.

In conclusion, as I have noted today, economic action plan 2012 contains a host of benefits for every part of the country. Through this comprehensive and ambitious plan, we will maintain and strengthen our advantages by continuing to pursue our strategies that made us so resilient in the first place: responsibility, discipline and determination.

This bill marks an important milestone, the next major step in creating a brighter future for our country. I urge all members to help us pass Bill C-38.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

June 12th, 2012 / 1:50 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I honestly believe that my colleague from Chatham-Kent—Essex is too good a member of Parliament to actually believe the speech that he was sent in here to read dutifully, like a parrot, because it is the same speech we have heard over and over again. I want to tell him how much I profoundly disagree with every word that he just said.

If my colleague were any kind of a democrat, he would have prefaced his remarks by apologizing to the House of Commons and the Canadian people for the outrageous affront to democracy that Bill C-38 is. Because the government moved closure yet again and is denying us the opportunity to debate the many aspects of this bill, we will not have time to point out all the shortcomings of what he just read into the record in the House of Commons. However, I want to begin with just one point, which is all we will have time for.

Does the member believe, as I do, that fair wages benefit the whole community? If so, why would his government use this Trojan Horse to repeal a bill called the Fair Wages and Hours of Work Act? What does he have against Canadians who work—

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

Order, please. We need some time for the hon. member to respond.

The hon. member for Chatham—Kent—Essex.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

Dave Van Kesteren Chatham-Kent—Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, I cannot possibly imitate that fine--

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

Order, please. The hon. member for Chatham-Kent—Essex has the floor. I am sure hon. members would like to hear the hon. member's response.

The hon. member for Chatham-Kent—Essex.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

Dave Van Kesteren Chatham-Kent—Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would not try to imitate this fine member's great acting ability. It is something I would never attempt.

I would say that I do believe everything that I said in my speech. I believe it not only because I know that the government is on the right track, but also because I served in finance and was one of those members who sat through long hours listening to witnesses and to the concerns from our members across the way as well. It is the right thing to do for our economy at this time. I believe that we need to pass the act and pass it quickly.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Wallace Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member, my seatmate, for his fine speech. I want to thank him for pointing out the changes that we are making to the registered disability savings plan, a plan that came as a result of this government. When I was on the finance committee and we were doing a tour across the country at pre-budget time, this idea was brought forward. It was fleshed out by our finance minister and brought forward in a budget. I appreciate that clarity.

My colleague is a member of the finance committee. I think it is important for the House and those listening in to understand how much time the committee has spent in listening to testimony on this measure. If he could give us an overview of the committee's schedule in hearing from Canadians on the bill over the last couple of weeks, it would be appreciated.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Dave Van Kesteren Chatham-Kent—Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank my friend, my colleague, my seatmate from Burlington for that fine question.

I do not want to sit here and pine about the hours that we spent, but I will say that it was a significant amount of time. Not only did we spend time on Bill C-38; we spent hours, days, weeks and months on consultation before the bill was an act.

This is the result of long hours, long study and long consultation. This is precisely what the people of Canada want us to do at this particular time in the history of Canada when we have such major challenges. This is the right bill at the right time.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Independent

Bruce Hyer Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

Mr. Speaker, in 1994 the member of Parliament for Calgary West, who is now our Prime Minister, spoke in this House about a Liberal omnibus bill, one that was much smaller than this one. He said:

In the interest of democracy, I ask: How can members represent their constituents on these various areas when they are forced to vote in a block on such legislation and on such concerns?

I ask if the hon. member agrees with that member from 1994 from Calgary West.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Dave Van Kesteren Chatham-Kent—Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question from my colleague across the way, but the point I wanted to make on the last question from the hon. member for Burlington was that these are indeed trying times. These are times that demand a solution to problems that we have not experienced—at least, I have not in my lifetime, and possibly no one else in this House has.

A group of us travelled on a parliamentary association to the Netherlands a number of months ago. The Netherlands is a country with 16 million people, a country about the size of Nova Scotia, and it is going to trim off 15 billion euros from its budget.

We see that in order to do that, there will be a number of things that we will have to enact. Many acts are going to be affected; consequently, this is going to be a larger bill than possibly some in the past have been, but nothing has been done that does not have to be done.

That is the reason we are doing it. That is why Bill C-38 has to pass.

Democracy
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Independent

Bruce Hyer Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

Mr. Speaker, in 1994 the member of Parliament for Calgary West spoke in the House regarding a Liberal omnibus budget implementation bill, one that was a lot smaller than the 452-page bill before the House today. He said, “In the interest of democracy, I ask: How can members represent their constituents on these various areas when they are forced to vote in a block on such legislation and on such concerns?”

He went on to say, “How do we express our views and the views of our constituents when the matters are so diverse? Dividing the bill into several components would allow members to represent views of their constituents on each of the different components in the bill.”

He further went on to say, “I would also ask the government members, particularly those who have spoken on precisely this question in the previous Parliament with precisely the same concerns, to give serious consideration to this issue of democracy and the functionality of this Parliament now.”

The member is now the Prime Minister, and it is time he heeded his own words and split this undemocratic omnibus budget bill.

Classy Concoctions
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

David Anderson Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Mr. Speaker, congratulations to students Andrew Berger, Ryley Cozart, Larissa Kurz, Ty Langer, Brett Loeppky, Corben Miller, Gina Rehbein, Laura Sawatzky, Landon Schultz, Sarah Wist and Eric Yonge, and to their teacher Colette Wilson and adviser Barbara McKinnon.

Classy Concoctions is a junior achievement company created by the 2012 graduating class of Central Butte School for the Entrepreneurship 30 course. Last month it was named the Junior Achievement of Saskatchewan's company of the year and received the production excellence and VP of marketing awards.

The students' goal was to build a food services business and provide customers access to homemade treats. Classy Concoctions supplied holiday goodies and beef jerky throughout the school year.

Initially 12 shareholders paid $20 a share. As of May 4, each share was valued at $555, and in the end the net profit to Classy Concoctions was over $7,000, split between the school, the local rink and a graduation scholarship.

What a contrast to some of the other student activity we see.

Republic of the Philippines Independence Day
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to rise and bring to all members' attention that today, June 12, is Independence Day in the Republic of the Philippines.

As co-chair of the Canada-Philippines Parliamentary Friendship Group, I extend congratulations and warm wishes from all parties in the House to every Canadian of Filipino descent on this important occasion.

June 12 celebrates the anniversary of the day in 1898 when the Philippines became an independent country. On that date, the official flag was revealed and the national anthem was introduced. The Declaration of Independence was written by Ambrosio Rianzares Bautista and signed by 98 people.

Today, all across Canada, Filipino Canadians are building our communities. Their labour, professional and business activities, deep contributions of culture, and renowned love of life are all making Canada a richer place for everyone.

Tonight we will mark this special occasion with a reception in Parliament graced by His Excellency the Ambassador of the Philippines. I invite all members to join us in a celebration of friendship between our two nations.

To every kabayan, salamat, and mabuhay Philippines.